Friday, February 15, 2019

Gratitude

Thank you for the food we eat,
Thank you for your word so sweet
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you God for everything.  Amen

Philippians 4:8-9
Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].The things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things [in daily life], and the God [who is the source] of peace and well-being will be with you. (AMP)

It’s widely accepted that stress is among the worst emotions for health and well-being.  Stress has been singled out as the underlying culprit in everything from heart-disease to hemorrhoids and nearly everything in between.  Fear, guilt, shame, worry, and anxiety  are just a few of the negative emotions that feed the stress response. Interesting to note that these are emotions God’s word encourages us to avoid, or the Cross of Christ has made the way for us to be free of.

What about the health effects of positive emotions?  A recent internet search for ‘gratitude and digestion’ brought up nearly half a million hits.  I read half a dozen of them; enough to reinforce my long-held belief in the importance of emotions when it comes to health in general and digestion in particular.

A few years ago, the Smithsonian magazine had an article by a photographer who captured tears and photographed them under a high powered microscope.  Tears of joy and happiness look very different than tears of grief and onions.  The emotions we experience change our body’s chemistry.  Tears reflect those changes.  Naturally occurring changes in body chemistry is undeniably powerful, and unconsciously manipulated by heart-held beliefs and the thoughts we ponder.

Drugs are synthesized attempts at duplicating the body’s natural ability to produce these powerful responses.

The chemicals released in our bodies when we are feeling grateful produce the optimum environment for healthy digestion, leading to healthy lives.  Fear, shame, and guilt are not the emotions to be laboring under when you eat.  Starting today, if you aren’t already in the habit, begin to be mindful of things you are grateful for, including but not limited to, what’s on the fork in front of you.  

Several years ago I stumbled on the frozen water crystal experiments of Dr. Masaru Emoto. He took water, that had been exposed to different emotionally charged environments or words, froze it, then photographed the frozen results.  If you have 3 or 4 minutes, check this out:
Water crystal video   Keep in mind that the human brain and heart are about 73% water, and suddenly Proverbs 18:21, The power of life and death are in the tongue, isn't so hard to figure out.

Our eleven-year-old grandson broke his leg skiing a couple weeks ago.  He told me about the horrible pain, laying in the snow, waiting for ski patrol and the people who stopped to help.  When I asked  what he felt when they stopped, without hesitation, he said, "Grateful! Unimaginably grateful!"  And I knew that flood of gratitude played a major role in his broken body that day; and will continue its miracle-work every time that memory is replayed and its power is released.

Gratitude, is a powerful force, let's release it!  Thank you for the food we eat, thank you for your word so sweet. Thank you for the birds that sing. Thank you Lord for everything! Amen

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Say What?

All great revelations were, at one point, revolutionary. After a couple of years (decades or millennia) they are relegated to common-place- and this-is-how-it’s-always-been status. Sad really.
Twenty-five years ago Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages was one such revelation. Thankfully, in many circles, it hasn’t lost its luster, and the truths explained on its pages are still helping mend relationships and build bridges of deeper understanding. 

With Valentines Day just around the corner, there’s a good chance you wont find the time to read this great book to figure out the best way to express your love to the loved ones in your life—so here’s the condensed version:
1. Words of affirmation 
“Having you in my life is the greatest...”
“You are fantastic.”
“I really appreciate that you...” 
2. Spending quality time together
“I’m going to ______, care to join me?”
“Let’s get together for ______.”
3.  Gifts
“I saw this and thought of you.”
 “It’s nothing fancy but I made this for you.”
“I remember you saying how much you liked it when you came to my house, so here, it’s yours.”
4.  Kind acts of service
“I’ll watch the kids so you can...”
 “I would love to help you ....”
 “Here’s a meal, I know how busy you’ve been lately...”
5.  Physical touch
Holding hands, touching a shoulder, a hug.

A word of caution, there’s a really good chance your native love language is different than that of the person you want to bless. There’s a good chance you are going to feel awkward, just like I feel every time I say, ‘gracious’ at a Mexican restaurant. Maybe so awkward that you abandon the idea altogether. Don’t! Just stick with it.
Love’s expression isn’t about you. It’s about the other person, (adults and children alike). It’s not important that you know you love them. It’s important that they know it. And the easiest way to communicate that is in their language. And just like the Tijuana taxi driver who drove me to the airport in San Diego back in 2003, he knew I was linguistically challenged, but that didn’t lessen his appreciation of my efforts to navigate the verb tenses and sentence structures of his native tongue. Your loved one will appreciate your efforts as well.
If you’re not sure what your loved one’s language preference is, just look back over their life and recall what they’ve done in their attempts to show you love and appreciation. Or, you can just ask what it is that you can do or give them that would make them feel loved. And whatever they say, do not demean it. You will belittle their request for a hug, or help by declaring it insignificant and then trumping their request with something more in tune to what speaks “I love you” in your preferred language. When a hug, a hand, or an hour of solitude is what they want, don’t insult them with a box of chocolates. If they say flowers or wool socks, don’t belittle it by throwing a party with 50 of their closest friends.
Love is never about self. Authentic love is always about someone else.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

There's no going back

How many times had I heard someone say about a missions experience, “You need to go at least once. It will change you forever,”? In 1999 I took the challenge, hopped on a plane - passport in hand – and prepared for the promised transformation. I'd expected the change to come by way of witnessing unimaginable poverty and suffering; delivered in the form of shock so profound it would propel me into higher levels of compassion. I braced for the jolt.  It never came. Nonetheless I was changed as promised.  It just didn't come by observing a country's poverty.   

The world-rocking began almost imperceptibly with a question.  “Are your beliefs rooted in Christ or  culture?” Had I been duped into thinking my own hodge-podge of mingled truth with tainted teachings processed through a grid of limited perspective resulted in some worthless doctrines and a  less-than-powerful theology?  Yikes! 

As difficult as that realization was to face, I’m grateful for it's discovery!

Walk with me through the process of exposing one of those limiting beliefs.

Somewhere along life's way I had fashioned a belief that, in essence said,  'if you don’t read your Bible everyday you are a lazy ingrate who has no right to expect God to do anything for you. You aren't willing to bother with the bare minimum of reading His Word'.  Having taken that idea to heart had turned my adoption into a performance game. It was that trip to Asia that started the questioning and of that belief's validity. One question led to a dozen.

What of the billions of people who don’t have 14 translations of the scripture piled up on their nightstand? 

Or, of those who might have access but because of their gender, financial or physical limitations,  are denied the education necessary to accomplish the requirement of daily Word consumption? 

Or what of those who, by some unfortunate reason, were incapable of learning to read? 

My heart’s cry became, "God, how do You communicate with that person? How do You make Yourself known the them? I want to know that God, rather than the one who is limited by how well I perform the duties deemed - by forces I didn’t know -necessary to qualify for an audience and your grace." I sensed His smile at the challenge, and He’s been revealing Himself since. 

I traveled half way around the world and back to realize that the greatest mission field in need of  the Gospel was my own heart.  And in the spirit of full disclosure, there wasn’t much space in there for His Truth. My heart had become a repository of have tos, got tos, need tos, and supposed tos, that were all stuck together with a lethal combination of  shame and fear. 

My heart’s capacity to believe had become so crammed with this sort of thinking that God had been relegated to somewhere between my heart’s foyer and its front porch. And the Lord doesn’t clear space for Himself in the human heart.  Space clearing is our responsibility. 

No, this isn't my desk - just a picture I found online at marriannemcdonalddotnet closet therapy.
Since I started examining my beliefs  keeping those based on truth and surrendering those I recognize as based on something less, like culture,  or personal preference, or fear, or traditions.  Jesus said it this way in Mark 7:13 "Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that."  NIV

The Lord doesn’t live on the front porch anymore.
The process has left me forever changed, and yes, it all began with a whispered question while I walked on the streets in another country.

Friday, October 19, 2018

What'd we do before tacos?

Seventeen days ago we watched Mom take her last breath.
Thirteen days ago we welcomed folks to participate in a service everyone dreads. Afterwards, we reminisced over ham and chicken salad sandwiches.

And every night since then, Mom - or more specifically planning her funeral - has been the subject of my dreams. Every morning I wake up and wonder why.  I wonder if others have experienced this phenomenon. I wonder if it is what the last 4 years have been like for her. Because it was four years ago this week, that we actually lost our mom.
 
She had a fairly routine surgery, but, as she said thousands of times since that day, “I just don’t feel like I ever woke up.” Which changed slightly as more memories were lost to, “I just need to wake up.”  

But she was as awake as she was capable of being. Somehow her dream world seemed to combine with her waking world, and decades old memories would collide with the current.  New information was incomprehensible and old information fractured into a thousand disconnected pieces.  With no short term memory she was left living with mostly now. Able to hold onto a thought train for maybe 30 seconds. Sometimes longer.  Sometimes less.  

For the past fifteen months she went to dialysis at least three days a week, maybe four. And after nearly every run she’d want to get tacos. She could remember that it was going to cost $5.38. But couldn’t remember that 30 seconds ago she’d asked, “what’d we do before tacos?”  If that was the train her thoughts were on, this question would be asked and answered countless times before getting home; where we would then have to convince her that the taco wrapper on the counter was, in fact, hers and Dad had not gone out to eat without her.

Looking back, we realize she was having trouble years before the general anesthesia finished the job. Becoming forgetful is normal right? Besides, what could we do about it?  I’ve since learned that “post operative cognitive dysfunction” is prevalent in the elderly, and most often seen when cognition is impaired prior to the surgical procedure. That a significant percentage of those experiencing it never recover. And that cardiac patients aren’t the only at-risk demographic.

I’ve spent the last four years saying goodbye, to the lady who brought me into this world and played a major role in the person I am today, and working toward the goal of no regrets. I didn’t want our parting stained with my having said things I shouldn’t or leaving things unsaid that needed to be spoken. Tying up lose ends and giving credit where it’s due. Honoring her life and wishes by making the decisions I was entrusted to make.  The last four years afforded that opportunity.  

But I do have one regret. Not having spoken up in the oncologists office that October day in 2014.  

If I could do it again I would say, “Let’s wait on that lumpectomy. How about we schedule a mammogram in a couple months instead?”  “At 78 years old, just how much estrogen is this smaller than bb sized neoplasm going to have to feed on?”  I’m sure I would have made a few people mad, and been labeled an idiot… but those would have been small prices to pay to have had a different hand to play than the one POCD dealt her. Dealt us.

Maybe my dreams are pushing me to tell a story I never wanted to tell, in the hopes that others might avoid having one of there own.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Shake Things Up

Sometimes things become too familiar and before long the importance wears off. I think the Lord's Prayer falls into that category.  Its words are so often recited that their meanings are lost.  Today I'd like to slow the rote and reignite significance.

Our - yours AND mine. Prayer, at its best, is not me but we focused.

Father -Source and Giver of life. Our life. 

Who art in Heaven - the realm from which You operate is not the same as the realm we are limited to.

Hallowed be thy name -  You are worthy of honor and praise.  Your name is holy, set apart and unlike any other.  That is the name by which we are joined one with another.

Thy kingdom come - we suffer under the weight of a tyrant's laws but Your rule of law in this situation is our heart's desire.

Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven - in our hearts, lives, and situations we, Your earth-bound children are doers of Your will, just as surely as Your will and desires are executed in the heavenly realm.

Give us this day our daily bread - we receive all that is necessary to empower and sustain us for today.

Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors - we acknowledge and own our failures and inability to redeem ourselves asking only that You deal with us in the same manner and grace we use to forgive those who desire forgiveness from the pain they have brought in our lives.

Lead us not into temptation - not through tests and trials and proving and earning is forgiveness secured.

But deliver us from evil - but by You rescuing us, out of the evil trap(s) we find ourselves in.

for yours is the kingdom, power and the glory forever - This deliverance is wholly possible because Your kingdom is all powerful, true and eternal.   It's on the basis of this truth, this reality, this power we, Your children stand, as Your kingdom is ushered into and established on this earth.

Wouldn’t you agree that it’s good to shake-up the familiar from time to time? And because we live on this side of the cross, which made the presence of God’s Holy Spirit in the hearts of humanity a reality, our prayers are powerful indeed

Saturday, September 22, 2018

It's a PR Issue

We feel alone and abandoned on this planet because it's hard to recognize God's presence. Remember the fellows who offered opinions and inaccurate conclusions based on false assumptions to Job in the time of his distress? They sincerely believed themselves qualified to represent and speak on God's behalf.  Those same opinions and inaccurate conclusions are as prevalent today as they were 5,000 years ago. How can that be?!

Me:   "You have the worst PR on the planet!"
God:  "I know. But, hey, there's always room in that department if you'd like to give it a shot."

Well, I thought, I can't do much worse.  But after accepting the challenge I discovered most efforts are stonewalled by my predecessors' widely accepted inaccuracies.  

A recent conversation is a case in point.

A beautiful, feisty, struggling, single mother was pouring out her heart's hurts and desires when she said, "I believe in something, but I'm not sure what.  If God is this all loving, powerful God, who is in control of everything, where was he when I was going through hell?  He didn't do anything!  I did it all by myself!"

I just listened.  It wasn't the time to preach truth, correct doctrine or dissect theology.  It was a time to listen to a broken-hearted warrior pour out her hurt.  Was that poor PR?  Time will tell.

Will this dearly loved daughter  ever encounter one who accurately represents Your adoration, acceptance, appreciation and unending love in a way that resonates Your truth in her wounded soul? 

When will she recognize that her tenacity, determination, desire, strength, and insight are the hallmarks of Your presence in her life?  Or that Your empowering grace proves she's not alone or abandoned?  When will she learn that You are secure enough to let her think she's accomplished such astounding feats with nothing but her own strength and wits?   Maybe today.  Maybe never.  Either way You remain the God Who goes before us, Who makes the way, Who is our strength, shield and defender, our source, wisdom and the One Who justifies.

Thank you Wonderful One for the life You have breathed into that beautiful, unaware one who represents You with such unconventional beauty.








Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Puzzling Pieces

I love the ah-ha moments when the pieces fall into place without having to force the fit; those
moments when things resonate harmoniously - the picture is made visible.


Two of my favorite study sites are: blueletterbible.org and thebible.org.   There are so many questions that keep me up at night  and these two sites are where I find myself digging for answers. Blue Letter Bible is a treasure trove of study aids. Click on a verse, the options appear. Click on an option and you're off to the races.

If you've read, What If The Cross Changed Everything, you know I present The Revelation of Christ Jesus as documenting the legal issues of humanity's redemption from the law of sin and death. Which doesn't agree with the mainstream interpretations currently being purported.

One ah-ha moment that helped in piecing my ideas together came with the study of the word 'righteous(ness)', and realizing that there are a couple definitions for the word that can't be interchanged without causing confusion.

Here's the deal.  Righteous, under the old covenant, had more to do with legal matters. In our western minds it helps to think, 'rights and privileges'.  Citizens of the USA, enjoy certain rights and privileges that citizens of other countries do not.   It is simply a matter of law, morality aside. (Rights can be lost or surrendered but that's a subject for another day).

A secondary definition has to do with morality.

This might seem like hair splitting, but sometimes that's how the picture is more clearly revealed. And we know that the Word of God helps us to separate bone from marrow and thought from intent. (Hebrews 4:12)

When things jump from Hebrew to Greek the definitions and weights are reversed; heavier on morality, lighter on legality. The two can go hand in hand and can complement one another, but they are not interchangeable concepts.  Attempts to do so has resulted in the 'doctrine of righteousness'; a two headed hybrid that is dealt with in Mark 2:18-22 and Revelation 3:14-22.

This leads to the challenge when studying scripture; determining whether to think and interpret using the legal or moral definition.  Clarity will often come when choosing one over the other.  We are made legally righteous by the Cross of Christ.  We live morally righteous in honor and appreciation of that Cross.

Jesus showed us how powerful life can be when it is rooted in the legal basis of citizenship in the Kingdom of God. It is who we are and allows The Father's attributes of grace, peace, integrity, authority, and love to flow. This is what the Cross accomplished. The way has been made for each person to reconnect with God -  legally righteous.  That connection empowers a life of moral righteousness.  Because of who I am, this is what I do.  To reverse the concept negates the cross. Galatians 5:4 says our attempts at attaining righteousness from our own self-effort is to fall from grace.  That's a tumble I want to avoid.

If you want to read more on this subject:
https://witcce.blogspot.com/2018/03/who-establishes-terms-of-redemption.html


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Do You Take?

Back story - was reading a twitter thread yesterday and one person was discussing a very painful medical procedure he had just endured. He punctuated the point with 2 words. The first beginning with the letter 'g', the second ended with the letter 'm'.  And one of the guy's nearly 30,000 followers decided to reprimand him on his word choice.  She said it was offensive to her and that, for his best interests, he needed to stop taking the Lord's name in vain, that he was in danger of being eternally damned and she wanted to help the twitter post author stay in God's good graces.  I won't even begin to dive into the irony. Instead, let's explore what I believe is a fundamental fallacy. 

What if the commandment she referenced doesn't mean what we've been taught it means?


Traditional thought has told us 'thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain' means we aren't to say the word god in an inappropriate manner. Doing so, in my fetching-up years, would incur the mouth-washing-with-soap punishment. (Nearly as bad as the going to bed with no pillow punishment, but that's a subject for another blog).  The implication?  'Take' equals 'speak'.  

Ok, I learned to chalk that up as yet another  Biblical conundrum.  Who am I to question the experts? If you're like me, your brain has learned to automatically make the necessary definition adjustment from 'take' to 'speak' when it comes to commandment number three of the big ten. 

But, what if it means a whole lot more?

In the insistence that 'take' means 'speak', what if we have surrendered the true significance of God's wisdom and instruction on the sacrificial altar of inconsequential? 

What if take means take?

In any wedding ceremony, there are a couple of things that must be included for it to be considered legal and binding.  Think  matrimonial equivalent to the Miranda Rights.  One of those components is the 'do you take' query, when the wedded wannabe's are asked if they will take one another and become so connected that moving forward their identities will be forever intertwined as husband and wife. So much so that when people think of one spouse they are reminded of the other.

38 years ago, when I said, "I do" the person I was in the morning was not the person I was at 3:30  that afternoon washing down cream cheese mints with Hawaiian Punch. (Nothing says top-notch wedding reception quite like cream-cheese mints.) I took his name.  We did not take our new identities as husband and wife in vain.

What if that's the true meaning of the third commandment?  Don't approach or enter the process of adoption into God's family if you have no intention of embracing a new identity rooted in His; without every intention of living a life that honors and reflects His ways, His truth, His glory, His love, His laws?  You know, the kind of stuff that demands a lot more than a bar of soap to rectify.  


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Three Thing Challenge

A few months ago one of my teachers (yep, went back to school) made a suggestion in passing.  He said, "before falling asleep at night, ask yourself, 'What 3 things went well for me today?' "  I thought, why not?  Sounds simple enough.  Here I sit, 5 months later, and I don't think I've skipped  a night since.

The first week or so was kind of crazy.  Why?  Because my mind wasn't used to such an oddly focused question.  I've spent several decades recounting the the day's missteps, faux pas, and failures.  So wrestling back the controls from the Negative Nancy  so firmly ensconced in my brain took a little more effort than I'd anticipated.  

My head would hit the pillow, I'd pose the question, and before answer #1 could congeal into a cohesive sentence, little miss negative would be ya, but blah this and blah that.  "Maybe so", I'd say,  "but that has nothing to do with the question I'm currently seeking to answer, which is, 'What 3 things went well for me today?'  Tonight I'm not looking for a recap of the day's failures. I might look into it later but for right now I want to recall, 3 things that went well for me today."

Sometimes my mind would offer things that went well for others, or me 15 years ago. Nope, don’t fall for it!

After a few days of concerted effort, I no longer struggles to stick with the question. Synapses began forging new pathways in my brain. I could almost feel it happening. I know that sounds like an overstatement, but I kid you not.  Good things were happening.  I’d wake up throughout the night  aware of my mind still searching for things that went well.  In fact, I had a little trouble staying asleep when this experiment first started.  But I'm over that hump now. 

These days I find myself making note of the good things that happen throughout the day, just so I can report and recount them before falling asleep. 

2 Corinthians 10:5 encourages us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ for the purpose of demolishing arguments and pretensions that are contrary to the knowledge of God. And this simple challenge exposed an overlooked area in my life that wasn't enjoying the rewards of having that principle applied.  I encourage you to take the 3 thing challenge if you dare


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Innocence & Grace

Listening to the radio the other day a line of lyric got stuck in my head (that's nothing new),. But the longer it banged around in there, the more problems I had accepting it as a statement of truth. 

The song's message is about the sufficiency of Jesus' sacrifice to pardon sin, completely on board with that.  But the line, which was repeated over and over again was: I'm an innocent, an innocent man. The innocent moniker is tripping me up.

Innocent means no crime was committed.  I have been pardoned, forgiven, set free, and been made righteous, for which I am eternally grateful (and will have all eternity to demonstrate that gratitude). I am not innocent and don't want to lose sight of the fact that guilt is redemption's qualifier.   
Maybe I am over sensitive on this subject after having spent several decades laboring under the delusion that sin was graded on a curve demanding justification of infractions. I'd get out the old scale and weigh the good against the bad, you know, just in case Jesus' sacrifice had lost its potency or relevance after 1950 years.  For those few whoppers I couldn't neutralize, I had developed a method of minimizing, blaming, (it's not me Lord it is so and so's fault) or hiding. Not unlike Adam's fig leaf couture. 

While I'm on this word-definition soapbox, let's turn the spotlight on grace. Another word that has been hijacked somewhere along history's path.  Grace is not interchangeable with mercy.  Grace has  to do with empowering ability to accomplish a task.  Think about a person performing their practiced skill and makes it look effortless:  dancer, musician, roofer, painter, calligrapher, barrel racer... you get my point.  Grace is needed to navigate this minefield called life without succumbing to the temptation fo

r compromise.  Mercy is extended when we fail the mission. 

Christ's righteousness is for the trusting. Forgiveness is for the guilty. Redemption is for the captured. Freedom is for the incarcerated. Adoption is for the fatherless. Grace is for the triers and mercy is for the failed.

To be pardoned is not the same as innocent. Pardoned means the record of guilt and failure has been expunged.  There's a difference.  It's a big one.  But it's unlikely that any songwriter could sell 'I'm an expunged, an expunged man'. Just doesn't have the same ring to it.  

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Plan Fulfilled

When people ask how I came to the conclusions I share in What If The Cross Changed Everything?, it was simply by approaching it as if I were a first century believer in Christ, and refusing to add 21st century speculative interpretation to it.  Of course, in doing so, that placed most all of the events (even the yet-to-come ones) in today's rear view mirror.   

Revelation 1:3 & 19 Jesus told John to write what he had seen, what he was currently experiencing, and what was to come.  It has been my experience that the most prolific expounders, currently in vogue, have allotted little to no space in their interpretations for what was (before Christ) and what is (at the time of the writing) and what was to soon take place.   

This oversight has led to speculations beyond comprehension. It has also completely violated the warning that was issued at the end of Revelation. In chapter 22 verses 18 & 19 we are clearly warned  to not add to or take parts away from what was written on that scroll. It was, like any legal document, to be unaltered.  Can you think of a single book from the Bible that has been added to and speculated on more than this one?  Weird huh?

History changing, life altering events took place in the courtroom of Heaven. They're described in Hebrews 9. Jesus offered his blood for our eternal redemption at the Throne of God. But the current myopic interpretations of John's Revelation of Jesus Christ has resulted in a fulfillment of its expressed warning: increased plagues and decreased life.  So maybe, today's  followers of Christ need to heed the warning. Stop adding speculation and current event interpretations to a prophecy that specifically warns against it - and stop taking away (or ignoring) all that was accomplished through the life, death, burial and resurrection of The Lord.    

Ok, got that off my chest - let's explore a few more ways God implemented the enemy-head-crushing plan to redeem His kids.

How was God going to:

 A)  Measure and qualify those who were true patriots of God's Nation? 
 B)  Accomplish this in a way that the enemy could not sabotage the outcome?
 C)  Flawlessly satisfy the demands spelled out in the law of sin and death within the confines of a human body?

Questions  A&B

144,000 was the number needed; 12,000 from 12 separate tribes.  But how had God determined these people were qualified to be counted among His Nation's patriots?  A standard of measure had to be adopted.  Hence, the law of Moses, which demanded participation in celebrations, feasts, and sacrifices as well as adherence to the 10 commandments.  None of which could make people righteous, but the enemy and the people participating in them didn't realize that.  They labored under the assumption that adherence to the laws would actually make them righteous.   

Question C
The promises contained in every new covenant God made with His creation brought the enemy-head-crushing-savior-of-the-world closer to reality.  But there were so many demands to be met that the experts of the Law were sure it was going to take more than one person to fulfill.  A lion and a lamb? From the tribe of Judah but also a priest?  From Bethlehem and Egypt?  The experts were torn, some said that Messiah would be one man others said no, it would require two.  That's why John the Baptizer sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the one (and only) or should they be keeping their eyes out for a second. Matthew 11:3

With so many variables it would seem impossible for one man to meet all the requirements. One that seemed particularly impossible was that Messiah would need to be a Priest, which, according to what God had said, needed to be a Levite and come from the line of Aaron (Moses' brother).  How was Jesus going to pull this off?

No surprise to the Creator of the plan - a.k.a. The One Who Goes Before To Make Provision. And that provision was laid out nearly 1,500 years earlier, and recorded in Numbers 6.  Anyone (male or female) who wanted to yield themselves completely for God's purposes (including Temple service) could do so, for a limited period of time.  They had to enter into the arrangement voluntarily,  abide by specific requirements and restrictions, and conclude their time of service with a sacrificial offering.

This little 'loop-hole' was how Jesus, from the tribe of Judah, was going to legally accomplish the duties of the High Priest from the tribe of Levi. Something that was genetically impossible. What were the requirements and restrictions the vow required?  No haircuts or consumption of grapes in any form.  No raisins, no juice, no wine. How do we know this was the route the Lord took?    Matthew, Mark, and Luke all recorded it. 

I am writing this on Maundy Thursday.   1,985 years ago today Jesus publicly announced at the last supper, before being arrested, his voluntary invoking of the Nazarite vow.

"But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." Jesus in Matthew 26:29

He voluntarily gave himself in service to God for a period of time and would commemorate the ending of that time with his earth-shaking sacrifice. 

In Hebrews 2:14 we learn that through His death He destroyed Satan (the one who had power of death).  By the way, there is no cosmic battle raging between God and Satan.  Any battles are in the hearts and minds of humanity.  And Hebrews 9:12 & 14 we learn that with His blood He redeemed us eternally ... and purged our consciences from the idea that dead works could be used in serving a Living God. 

The Cross changed everything!  It's high time we started believing it.  He's Alive! 






Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Redemption's Ratio

There's a lot to unpack before we celebrate the Lord's resurrection this coming Sunday. I'll only hit a few highlights, so if, by blog's end, your interest is piqued you can dive deeper into these ideas in What If The Cross Changed Everything?

The principles that were to be found at the Tree of Life were kicked to the curb when the unfortunate choice established the course for all humanity.  The planet's inhabitants would govern and be governed by the principles found at the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Principles that came to be known as the law of sin and death. And God's pre-ordained plan began to take root.

We're going to explore answers to a few questions the next couple of days. 

How could God:
   1.  Re-insert Himself into the creation He had commissioned with authority and dominion in the Earth?
  2.   Secure the redemption of all humanity?

Question #1  Covenants

God will not (contrary to some folks' thinking) force His will on anyone. Doing so would violate the Laws of Love.  Here is where faith and promises a.k.a. covenants come in.  

Adam and Eve witnessed the declaration of that promise when God said to Satan:

"And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."  Genesis 3:14 & 15

An ensuing result of that promise is learned in verse 16.  Sorrow will accompany conception. Why?  Because Satan would be targeting human offspring from that moment on, in his attempt to destroy the promised seed before it had a chance to take a breath.  But in spite of the potential heart-break, women were going to willingly bring new lives into the Earth.


I am fairly certain Cain had heard the story, and fancied himself to be the promised enemy head crusher.  But his delusion resulted in the crushing of his brother's head instead.  Hindsight being what it is, we now know that the authentic enemy head-crusher wouldn't come on the scene for another 4,000 years.  


Question #2 A sinless man AND a dedicated nation


This is where Abraham and Sarah come in. God needed a person who would give not only himself, but would entrust his posterity to God's plan. Genesis 18:19

For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. 

What was He going to do with a nation? Use it to bless all the other nations of the world. Genesis 22:18

Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him.  

How could one nation bless all others?  

Deuteronomy 32:8 & 9
When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For the LORD'S portion is his people; Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel) is the lot of his inheritance.

Now this nation wasn't simply made up of the offspring of of Abraham.  No! They had to walk in the laws of God.  Jacob (a.k.a. Israel) had 12 sons. And God had to have 12,000 from every one of those son's tribes who were proven to have only ever served The Lord God, never had they worshiped a god of the enemy.   144,000.   This took 2,000 years to complete but John records in Revelation chapter 7 verses 1-8 the day in Heaven's court when the count was made and the required number fulfilled.   

In verse 9 we see this happening:

After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;

How many righteous are needed to protect the unrighteous? 

I don't know where to find the Heavenly statute but we get a glimpse of it in Genesis 18:32 I like to call it Redemption's Ratio... When God said if there were 10 righteous the entire doomed region would have been spared.  

Ten righteous would have bought more time for the unrighteous of the "5 cities of the plains" including Sodom and Gomorrah to have righted their ways.  Which begs the question, how much time was bought by the 144,000 righteous members of God's nation?  It appears to be the means by which God formed a legal loop-hole to rescue those who died before Christ's sacrifice.  

That is the purpose of mercy.  To extend time before a final, irreversible judgment is made.  I know this might sound far fetched, but I believe we have a mind blowingly brilliant God Who loves, loves, loves His kids.

We'll look at some answer ideas for a few more questions  in the near future.