Filled and Standing!

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Then He said to me, “Son of man, stand on your
feet that I may speak with you!” And as He
spoke to me the Spirit entered me and set
me on my feet; and I heard Him speaking
to me. Ezekiel 2:1-2

Ezekiel finds himself in the presence of the Lord, watching a vision unfold before his eyes. Instructed by the Lord to stand, while God speaks with him, but Ezekiel is unable to stand before the Lord. He is simply in awe of what he sees. Ezekiel falls on his face in the presence of the glorious splendor of the Lord.

And I asked myself about my experience in God’s presence? Am I still in awe, or am I a worker punching a clock and performing a task? Am I reading and applying or reading to teach, write and preach? Is the my time in God’s presence so powerful, that I am always in awe of what God says and how He chooses to reveal Himself.

God speaks to Him, “…stand on your feet…” but the weight of what God has revealed has been far to great already. Even before receiving his instructions, his time with God was so powerful that he couldn’t stand.

Of course, I looked at myself. What is my time like before I speak? Am I immersed in the Word, so active in worship and so caught up in the documenting the revelation that prostrate is as upright as I can get? Ezekiel was so caught up that he couldn’t get up. He wanted to make a statement. He wanted to give a reply. H wanted to share the experience. He wanted to proclaim God’s, but was so grateful for having been chosen as a vessel and as a witness. There were other Prophets, but God chose Him. He appreciate with the time they were spending together.

The moment was so powerful, that he needed that power came from the Holy Spirit. Verse 2 tells us that the Spirit entered him… What a moment for Ezekiel. Not only is he in God’s presence, but God’s presence is in him.

Of course I ask you, are you too experiencing God’s presence and God’s filling? I study, stand and speak not only in the presence of the Lord, but study, stand and speak filled with the Holy Spirit. What are you presenting to God’s people? Are you giving them an empty vessel or a full vessel? And how do you become full? How are you empty? Why are you empty? Shamefully, we have little desire to be full, present ourselves as full, but are honestly empty! Empty and full are both choices we make. They are conditions we foster, circumstances we maintain!

“As He spoke to me….” the scripture says. What a moment this is! When you spend time in God’s presence and feel the filling and leading of the Holy Spirit. God has a way of filing you to the capacity that you are able to both stand and walk in His strength!

I was encouraged in this season we are in. First, we need to enter into Gods’ presence. We need to see the monster we are facing. This monster is not a divine being with divine symbolism, but a monster that is man created and has sadly flowed from heart to heart and breast to breast. Like our faith and love for Jehovah has been passed down through generations, the hatred for people group has been taught/ingrained in a group of people. It’s presence has caused us to fall upon our face too. Not because of its beauty, but because of the powerful stain that has soaked through many layers.

Layer after layer have been removed, and each time we think we are far enough away from the original stain that it wont be present in the next layer. Yet in still, its present, because the stain we are looking at isn’t the original stain, its a duplicate of the original stain that has stained another 3 to 4 layers.

As Men and Women of God, we have been sent to stand before the people. God provides to us all that we need. The people we are to speak to, Ezekiel documents God as saying are stiff necked people, resistant to change, and we have been charged and given the power stand against wickedness and impart change into the life of the people that know God and the people who are not aware or informed about who He is.

God set’s Ezekiel on his feet, and I’m sensing a need for us all to stand on our feet. We starts prostrate on our faces, but end up standing up in the midst of adversity and pain. We must hear God and be committed to speaking the truth of God and correct those who have strayed.

#PastorJDO3

A Bowl of Soup?

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30 and Esau said to Jacob, “Please let me have a swallow
of that red stuff there, for I am famished.” Therefore
his name was Edom. 31 But Jacob said, ” First sell me
your birthright.” 32 And Esau said, “Behold, I am about
to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?”
Genesis 25: 30-32

Here our friend Esau is, in a position like many of us. He is the heir to the kingdom, carrying the birthright, and positioned to get the blessing of his father Isaac, whom is a seed of Abraham. The covenant God established is covering him, and will be carried out through him. All he has to do is walk in his purpose, flourish in his gift, and protect his position.

Esau is blessed to not only to have the birthright, but is a skilled hunter. He, like his father, is a skilled hunter. He lives for the field. He lives for he hunt. He lives for the kill. He lives to bring home the game. He lives to prepare the meal. He lives to see it nourish his family.

On this day, Esau sets out to the field to do what he loves. This is his job. His responsibility. This is how he contributes to his household. This is how he participates in building the community. Esau is walking in his calling! For many of us, I see this as our time in the workforce. Esau leaves this morning for work to tackle his latest project. Hunting is not simple, nor something that happens in minutes. Though skilled, it is not something that flows right on the first day, first night, or even the first week.

Esau, though capable, is unsuccessful on this trip. He stays in the field as long as he can with the hopes of bringing back something to his family, but returns empty handed. Frustrated and exhausted, Esau uses every portion of his energy just to get back to the camp and finds himself feeling faint. He is so exhausted, that the word describes him as famished. He has used all his energy and feels like he is about to die.

This for Esau, and for many of us is a dangerous position to be in. His famished state leaves him desperate. Desperation causes one to feel hopeless. This hopeless feeling makes one vulnerable, and that vulnerability partnered with that feeling of frailty the makes Esau make a questionable decision. Remember, Esau is the son of Isaac, and by birthright is in position to inherit his fathers possessions and the blessing from his father, which will allow him to carry the covenant from Abraham.

But Esau over extends himself. He’s so busy working in the field, that he neglects himself. He doesn’t take enough to endure. Maybe Esau packs enough food to provide through evening snack. He has a lunch, and has a small snack, but doesn’t have enough food to last through the evening, night and or the next day. And so are many of us. Working hard, but not saving enough. Not managing enough. Not consuming enough (rather not consuming enough of the right things). And we like Esau find ourselves famished!

He looses sight of what he needs to survive and thrive. As a seed of Abraham, he also must learn how to to live more by the spirit than being driven by the flesh. His lack of discipline and restraint, caused him to act upon his desires irrationally. His famished state, caused him to become so focused and overwhelmed by the moment, that he leveraged his entire future for one bowl of soup.

Sadly, many of us act the same. Our lack of discipline and lack of awareness leave us in famished situations. The way we manage our time in the work place. The way we manage our time with self care. The time we spend in prayer and fasting. The time we spend at rest and at play, lack balance, thus we find ourselves at the hand and mercy of the Jacobs of the world.

Let us not forget that Esau knows how to cook the soup.

Thus we must ask, how does one that knows how to hunt and cook, find themselves famished, and at the mercy of Jacob?

So I am asking you, “How is it that you at the mercy of Jacob?” You? Yes you! You manage multimillion dollar account. You manage properties and track inventory. You research the industry. You plant the crop. You harvest the field. You create plans and write policies. You forecast the market. You predict trends. You assess value. You cook the food. You serve the customers. So how is it that you are famished and at the foot of Jacob begging for a bowl?

Sadly, many of us are excellent and disciplined while managing things for others, but lack discipline in our personal endeavors. This lack of discipline leaves us tied to industries and companies that are only concerned about the labor you produce and the currency you possess.

Esau; desperate, is willing to trade his freedom for one bowl of soup. Remember, he is the heir to the kingdom. He is the son of Isaac. He lives in the household of a man who is blessed with finances and resources. He is also, by birthright, set to be the owner and leader of his family (including Jacob), but he becomes a debtor to Jacob and not his owner.

Brothers and Sisters, this is our story. We have adopted capitalistic habits, and have consumer mindset to fuel the greed within. We are a part of a system that offers us many bowls of soup, which are merely invitations to become debtors. In this, we have given up our position for prosperity, and have agreed to be one of many cogs in a wheel that releases is grip on us only long enough to replace us as we are discarded.

Esau eventually hated his birthright, not because of what it would bring, but because of how poorly he had managed it. The freedom and promise it gave, were traded in for a moment of happiness and pleasure, something he was surely reminded of seeing Jacob daily.

Esau did not realize that Jacob has positioned himself to take advantage of him when he got the chance. Jacob lay in wait, presenting himself as friend; a resource that could meet an immediate need of Esau’s. His intentions were revealed once Esau asked for help. Jacob doesn’t ask Esau for a days wage, but ask him to exchange his future for the present. Sadly like Esau, some of us ignored the contract and skimmed over the fine print of the agreement and now find ourselves in bondage.

Like Esau, we must understand that Jacob is using the past efforts of Esau and others in the family that know how to hunt to prepare this dish. Jacob is not a hunter, nor has he shown the ability to hunt. He has, however, spent time with his mother around the tents learning how to care for the home and prepare meals.

The point is, Esau is most likely being fed food that he has previously hunted and brought home. What he hunted and caught has been prepared and presented back to him for purchase at a price much higher than what it cost Jacob.

So what have bowls of soup have you purchased? What has filled your belly? What have you leveraged your future for? What have you indebted your self too?

#PastorJDO3

Room for us!

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Genesis 26:22 And he moved away from there and dug
another well, and they did not quarrel over it; so he
named it Rehoboth, for he said, At last the Lord has
made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.

……
25 So he build an altar there, and called upon the name
of the Lord, and pitched his tent there; and there Isaac’s
servants dug a well.

What a journey Isaac has been on! He inherits the wealth of his father, along with an unfailing covenant for the Lord that brought future guarantees to Him. Now, hes not just going by what his father said and or promised, but he is going by what God has spoken to him as a servant and the seed of the one He established covenant with.

Isaac follows the instructions of the Lord, which were to dwell in Gerrar, even in the midst of the famine. Though there might have been places with better provisions and new opportunities, God decides that Isaac should stay in a place of famine. Isaac would set up roots in a place where a covenant with his father was formed; albeit, one they would choose not to honor (of course we could park here and talk about the earthly King/President whom speak and do not honor words and the heavenly King who honors covenant).

Isaac finds himself leading his people from one place to another, giving full effort, displaying full ability, walking in favor, being blessed every place their foot tread, but have to endure the hardship and persecution of a people who hated them for not being able to survive, but to prosper in the time of famine they were all facing. The problem of course is that they are facing the famine, and Isaac is facing the God of the famine. One was looking at lack, and the other was looking at abundance (don’t have time to spend here).

Isaac and his crew dug a series of wells that were met with resistance from the people inhabiting the land that he was in; but they continue digging until they found the spot God had given them. This must be your story as well. You must be one that believes God has a place for you to such an extent that you won’t be distracted by the wells that were empty or made unavailable to you, but that you will keep scratching the surface until you reach the reservoir God had ear marked for you.

I love Isaacs perspective. Though he is the one carrying the covenant, he is not focused on himself. He says of the well, “the Lord has made room for us”. God isn’t just with me or for me, He is for all of us. He has provided for all of us. He is protecting all of us. He is elevating all of us. He is delivering all of us! If we could keep this “…all of us…” focus, it will help us to view our provisions in such a way that we will have more in common that we have uncommon.

Isaac continue, “…we shall be fruitful…”; again showing his perspective on the blessing. Isaac knows they are all experiencing the famine, all making a sacrifice, all working hard, all using their skills, all using their abilities. And while he is aware that the blessing has his name on it, he knows the blessing is not for him solely. He is a channel for others. He is the focal point of the covenant to keep everyone focused on the guarantor or the covenant and not the one whom the covenant was formed with. Isaac says, we are going to be fruitful together; not a part. We are going to prosper together, not divided. If only our the global church could figure this out!!!

This account is concluded about Isaac is summed up with what he does after God has made room for him. “So he built an altar…pitched his tent…dug a well”. My Lord!!! Isaac gave thanks to the Lord.

What if we were like Isaac? Most of us get what we prayed for, search for, worked for and then treat the acquisition as though God’s hand was not with us. God’s favor was with Isaac as he lead his family in faith. God’s favor was with Isaac as he dug the wells. Favor was with Isaac even as they filled the wells in spite.

Isaac was able to continue digging and searching because He found strength in the promise, and hope via God’s established Word. He knew that God would honor His Word, and that he would be provided for and not have to settle for less than what he promised. I too will not settle. You too must not settle. We dig because we know water will be found. We dig because we know water will quench our thirst. We dig because we have a family to hydrate. We dig because we have a flock to feed. Just keep digging!!!! You will find His promise. Just keep digging! Each time you break the surface, you get closer to the bringing forth God’s will for your life to this earth.

Isaac honored God because God had not abandoned him. Isaac knew God was leading him and guiding him, and that the place God prepared for him was not stumbled upon, or retrofitted. He knew God had prepared it to supply all his needs. So why wouldn’t he “set his tent” there? Why wouldn’t he “dig a well” there? He knew God was his source! So why wouldn’t he “build and altar” there? So too am I asking you! Why wouldn’t you? Don’t you know how good God has been? He has prospered you through the famine. Protected you from destruction. Delivered you from yourself. Shielded you from the enemy! Opened up more doors. Filled with water, just waiting to be found, and eager to fulfill all your needs.

#PastorJDO3

Take My Hand…

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But he hesitated, so the man seized his hand
and the hand of his wife and the hands of his
two daughters, for the compassion of the Lord
was upon him; and they brought him out, and
put him outside the city.
Genesis 19:16

Our friend Lot was living large. He walked into the city of Sodom and was elevated to the city gate. Bringing his riches and stature, he was welcomed as a citizen, while others suffered a more violent reception. As wisdom, he sat at the gate, involved in commerce and up to date on the happening and direction of the city.

Lot, encounter the two angels sent by the Lord to destroy the city at the city gate. Falling on his face, he worshiped and humbled himself in their presence, and protected them from the harmful ways of the unrighteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot took them to his home and covered them. His treatment of them validated what Abraham believed, and what God was looking for in the city. Though the vast majority of the people were wicked, Lot and his family, a minority, did their best to hang on to the values and faith given to them by Abraham.

The angels informs Lot that the city will be judged. Lot hears the Word and believed them. This is important! While others heard the word and were not receptive, Lot heard the word and aligned his life accordingly. He prepared himself and his family to escape the on coming judgement.

He reached out to his sons in laws. Made aware by the angels that he would be allowed to escape, and take some with him; he informs them of the plan of the Lord. Then he informs them of his plans in response to the Lords’ decision. They would arise early in the morning and escape the impending judgement; but they would not believe him.

This brings us up to speed. Verse 16 says, the day it was time to leave, Lot hesitated. I wondered, how does one go from telling someone to “let’s get out of here!” to thinking “I’ll stay here with you!” As crazy as this sounds, Lot does this, and so do we.

Lot knew destruction was headed to Sodom, but he had grown accustomed to Sodom. He was respected in the city; sitting at the gate. Though he was a stranger in the land, it had become his home. He was comfortable in the city. He had made some inroads. He had built a network. Formed some partnerships. Had earned the respect of those at the gate. Had started becoming a part of the fabric of the community. His grandchildren were to be born at citizens there.

He was connected! And honestly, unplugging from a connection can be almost as challenging as making the initial connection. Lot was eager to save his life, and the life of his family, but had a moment where the loss of Sodom seemed greater than the Salvation approaching. Can you identify? We too are guests in the “city”, and are being called to walk out of it! We have been warned of the incoming destruction, and advised that we should take the provision provided by the Lord. We too have been warned and are protected under the covenant, but are in a constant fight with our flesh, which makes us hesitate before using the window out God has provided, and this right after warning others!

We too stand boldly and declare the impending judgement, and stumble and struggle to walk away from the very things that bring judgement and destruction. Be it addiction, or just familiarity, many of us have formed relationships and dependencies on the places we have been placed to have dominion over. Lot seems to have decided to stay and die with the city that had just threatened to do harm to him.

So let’s thank God for the angels!!!! The angles come to get Lot. They knock on his door. Ring his doorbell. Send him text messages! “It’s time to go!” When Lot refuses, the scripture says something that blessed my soul. “The Man seized his hand…his wife…and two daughters…” I love this! The angels wouldn’t take no for an answer. Though Lot’s decision would have brought destruction on his family, the angles took their hands. The word used is seized. God wants us to know they didn’t surrender their hands. They didn’t volunteer to leave. The angelic men took their hands and led them to safety!

I can’t speak for you, but I can attest, “Sometimes I didn’t want to go!” Sometimes, I wanted to stay just a few more minutes. Sometimes I wanted to hang around and “get my monies worth”, but thank you God someone took my hand. God sent an angel to me to think for me. Sometimes it can be challenging to make up ones mind. You have what you are familiar with verses what you have yet to be exposed too. You have what you have already experience, based upon new expectations. When you find yourself in positions like this, you too might find yourself hesitating! Yet, God sent and angel to make me honor the decision that I made. God placed someone in my life to remind me of who I was, and the covenant that I was under. Thank God for angels.

I love that God continued in this statement about Lot “…because the compassion of the Lord was upon him…” It is so comforting to know that we have a God that is compassionate towards us. God has a chance to condemn Lot with the rest of the city. God could have listed him in that great number, but decided to demonstrate to the world how He honors covenant, and what He does for those who pursue righteousness.

God has used me as and example for many, as he has so used you! Many of you are on the outside of the city gates, because God choose to put you out of the city. As spoken earlier, many of us wanted to hang out, but God decided to put us out! While we could still taste the herbs on our lips, God took our tongue that was saturated with a variety of spirits, and made it testify under the unction of the Holy Spirit.

God gave us a new way of walking, and created for us a new way of talking. Gave us a testimony. One of His goodness and kindness. I thank God that my testimony belongs to Him. Oh that I could brag upon myself. Talk about my strength! Talk about my will. Brag upon my discipline. But this would be a lie and foolishness. But for the grace and mercy of God, most of you, like me would be inside the city today, and upon the return of the Lord, would be here through the destruction and time of tribulation.

We need Him to cover us! We need Him to call us up in the middle of the air, lest some of us hold on to yesterdays pleasures, and miss out on eternities paradise.

#PastorJDO3

You must Forgive! Me Repent?

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Matthew 23:15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.


This morning my sister in Christ posted something that got me looking. I ran across this, as I thought about some of the Pharisee like behavior and culture we have adopted. I was baffled by the number of people that post things that equate to love, but then behave like ones consumed and controlled by hate.


For too long, we have fought the confusion left from those who have spoken the Word of God, but have not lived the Word of God. Picking and choosing pieces of God’s law to uphold as a standard of righteousness, and allowing the flesh free reign. We have heard of this God that gives two main laws, 1. Love God and 2. Love your Neighbor, and then listened to “spiritual leadership” align a political definition to the word neighbor, thus editing and redefining the message of Christ.


I have enjoyed great conversations with my friends,
but many of them highlight the need for one group to
“Forgive”, and ignore the requirement to “Repent”.


My wife spoke about the challenge she has being a bridge builder. And this is why? The one that should be asking for forgiveness is asking the one who has been offended to forgive, where forgiveness has not been sought, and thus, repentance is not there, because the offender sees no need to be forgiven. And yes, this is madness.


Even still, I believe Jesus made the move to restore our broken relationship. He extended forgiveness even before it was requested. But breath!

He said confess. This is the understanding that all men are sinners and need of saving. It is admittance that you have wronged the Lord, and are in need of restoration. You acceptance of His provision is an agreement that you were once an enemy, and now are a partner in both life and death. You agree to do away with the old man, and walk in the new man. This friends, completes the act of repentance.

Jesus highlights the foolishness of the Pharisees. He highlights the trouble they go through to introduce someone to Christ, only to lead them to hell by having them immolate the example of righteousness they see before them. See, the Pharisees studied the law as though it were a manuscript, as opposed to responding to it as though it were the Lord speaking.

What we have seen in Western Christianity is the same. We have seen millions of dollars invested in reaching souls, but have watched those souls become infected by the culture of a state and by political parties who are hungry for power and influence.

The devil knows that people are influenced by “spiritual leadership” so the fruit is constantly being offered from the many tree’s that lead us far away from God. We must be careful which trees we eat off, and wise about which fruit we share to our people. Though somethings are pleasing to the eye, and good for food, they lead to death and destruction.

#PastorJDO3

Not My Fault! Not My Responsibility!

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Luke 10:34-35
34 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came
where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity
on him. 35 He went to him and bandaged his wounds,
pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his
own donkey, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.


As I read this text, I thought it food for thought. The point drawn from this passage was “It’s not about who made the wounds, its about who can heal the wounds!”

Too often in discussions, I hear the statements, “I didn’t do it!” “That was my forefather!” “I don’t think like them!” “It’s not my fault.” “Why do we have to talk about something that happened 100’s of years ago?” “Why should I restore what was stolen from prior generations?” “I’m not responsible for any of this!” And honestly, there is a lot of truth to these statements.

The question I believe God want’s us to ask is: “Can I heal these wounds?
and not
“Did I cause these wounds?”


Many of the issues we face are written in from the beginning of the country. They have been updated little by little and were not written or installed by those who enforce them today. Though the overwhelming majority don’t share the same mindset as our countries forefathers, the words and guarantees put in place by the forefathers are still protected by a powerful few who are determined no to see policy and law match the desires of the citizens it serves.

As one benefiting from a system, its kinda foolish to ask one to make changes that will take away an advantage, or even level a playing field in a country that is already divided between the top 1% and the bottom 99%.

But Jesus introduces us to the Good Samaritan. He encounters this man who has been beaten down, robbed, stripped, and left for dead. When he encounters him, he sees a human being that has been wounded, and though he didn’t inflict any wounds, he takes it upon himself to help this man heal.

He pours oil and wine on the man’s wounds. This is his attempt to not only heal the wounds but to prevent infection. See, the hateful act committed by the previous people on the road could cause a serious infection to set in the man. This infection could be so great, that the man could survive the attack, but die from the infection caused. The Good Samaritan decided he would do his best to prevent this. He knew this could preserve a limb, or even improve the quality of life.

After carrying this man on his beast, the Good Samaritan puts the man up in the inn and further took care of him. I believe in the inn, he not only cleaned and replaced his bandages, and made sure the man had a comfortable place to heal, I believe he both listened and spoke to this man in an attempt to help him heal emotionally.

See, after trauma, its not just the physical portion of us that must be attended too, but it the emotional and mental as well. There is nothing like having one’s humanity disregarded to make one feel less than to one that considered them greater than. When one is violated, their entire system of trust and community suffers. They carry the trauma from the attack into future relationships and endeavors, and they often suffer from fear, anguish, and turmoil from the past. But, the Good Samaritan attends to him in the inn.

Remember, this man’s condition and state are not his faults, but they are his responsibility. He did not injure this man. He did not rob this man. He did not strip this man. And thank God, He did not abandon this man! He didn’t value his possessions greater than he valued the man who was dying. He reached into hit riches and used his wealth and health to give the man all he could.

I know that sounds crazy. He sees someone suffering, and wants to see them healthy and whole. He can not give the man everything he lost, but he can give the man a chance to heal and a fair chance to rebuild what he lost. Jesus end’s the story, “Go and do likewise!”.

Let us not get caught up in who’s a fault it was, or who sinned, but let us acknowledge what we see and feel. If you see someone hurting, have compassion. If you see someone in need or being treated unfairly, request that they are treated justly. It’s the Christlike thing to do.

#PastorJDO3

The System or The Savior

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1 And Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death.
And on that day a great persecution arose against the
church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered through
out the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
2 And some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud
lamentations over him.
Acts 9:1-2

“And Saul was in hearty agreement…” Chapter 9 begins. It reveals not only the perspective of Saul, but the heart of Saul. In his blind state, he is in agreement with the deceptive manner and this grave use of power. The people celebrate with Saul, laying their robes at the feet of Saul as they rallied around what they believe to be truth.

They had the right God, but flawed interpretation and understanding. The Word that was to be freeing, had become constricting and cumbersome. The Spirit, which has been absent from their faith practice had now come. Signs and Wonders now appear. Priest in the temple as well as participants in the faith began to believe.

Conviction was falling on the land, and those in power, including Saul, new that they must get out ahead of the growing number of people that were being liberated by the Gospel. The church was being added too daily, which means the temple was loosing membership, which would diminish its power and influence.

Like with Jesus, the religious right used deception to single out one growing in power and influence, shedding the light on truth and giving people hope, killed their hope by killing the one pointing to it. Though Stephen was no criminal, his testimony was stealing people and resources from the powers that be. His power and light threatened them, so they snuffed it out, because it shined light on the fact that the light had left them some time ago. They were no longer surviving because they were the house of the Lord, or the dwelling place of the Spirit, but because the system and structure was strong enough to keep the Kingdom Economy going.

“Saul was in heavy agreement with putting him to death.” Chapter 9 begins. We know this was before Saul met Christ on the Road to Damascus, but its moments’ like this I believe Paul thought back too. The moments his zeal was guided and empowered by falsehood and in correct interpretations of the Scripture. He like many of us will have to revisit the sins we committed and sins we supported in our darkened state.

I wish I could say different, but Saul was no fool. Paul was a Pharisee. He was an expert in the law. He was one that was thought to have the most devote walk with God. This man, who was thought to be an expert along with others, encountered and denied the Messiah, Killed the Messiah, and then plotted against and killed Stephen.

How is it that one so versed in the scripture and the
law could be so blind? How is it that the scripture
could be fulfilled in their presence and they not receive it?

Saul and others were ingrained in a strong system that worked void of the presence of God and the leading of His Holy Spirit. They ceased wanting to people to be obedient to the laws of God, and wanted men to bow down in respect to them. They began to abuse their power, and saw those as disobedient and not worthy of life.

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“And Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death.” Acts 9:1. Yes, it was beneficial to the system, but let us not over look that Saul was a part of this system. Saul was rising in the ranks, gaining power with each stop. He would surely be at the top of the totem pole if he continued to play the game and support the system; right? Right!

See, it’s easy to find “…hearty agreement…” in taking the life of another when it benefits you. Saul was pleased because each death secured his finances, his career, his social status, and a great legacy. Yep, he like many today, will be asked to stand with truth, and not make the comfortable choice by securing their future.

My fear is that we will loose some Stephens in this present season. The system built will fight to maintain itself and is practices. Remember, most of the law they were enforcing stemmed from their studies and interpretation. Sadly what we see today is the same. Worse, we have many that have misused the scriptures, lying on God and the Holy Spirit to control and to be dictators in their own little kingdoms.

#PastorJDO3

Elijah: One Voice Against the System

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I Kings 19:9-11
9There he went into a cave and spent the night.
The Lord Appears to Elijah
And the word of the Lord came to him:
“What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 He replied, “I have been very zealous
for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites
have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars,
and put your prophets to death with the sword.
I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
I Kings 19:9-10

I am praying right now for my anglo brothers and sisters. When I started writing this blog, I thought about the position and circumstances my anglo clergy brothers and sisters face.  Just like there is a cry to bring down systemic racism in the government, laws and the application of said laws, our churches/denominations have positioned us all, particularly our anglo brothers and sisters to lend a hand and their voice to removing racism, politics, classism, & sexism from the practice of our faith.  

friend_hugsncaring_mtl_01Much like Elijah, there is much at stake.  He has felt the pressure of speaking up, as well as seen the result of others that took a stance.  He saw the radicals and how they were dealt with by those in power.  He saw their lives taken, and understood the magnitude of the moment; taking stance for those who’s voices have been muted or taken away.

He won a major battle, liberating believers from persecution and fear, and began to tear down the structure one step at a time.  His rebellious stance was successful, and while progress was made, those in power maintained their position and further turned their attention to Elijah.  Fear overtook him, and he found himself shifting from having the power and confidence to stand for the Lord and chase down those who stood against God.

In this moment, Elijah cries out to the Lord in I Kings 19:10:

I Kings 19:10I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.

shockedElijah was enlightened!  He knew what was right and what was wrong, but understood the large battle and dangers of fighting against an entire system. He would speak out against a system, had people in powerful positions, on the payroll, and receiving benefits.   He wasn’t just trying to change a practice or an interpretations of a scripture, was asking God to work through him to restore the temple of God on person and evil practice at a time.

They know that on the other side of the sacrifice will be further sacrifice.  Some will suffer violence, persecution, and many will be blackballed.  Their reputations will be smeared, their income could stop, their entire lifestyle could change.  And thus, while the desire is there to continue fighting, the reality of the situation could cause anyone to fear speaking up.

confused personIn the end, right is right!  And for those that believe in God, we must continue finding the courage to stand in agreement with His Word.  We must believe that our protection and prosperity come from him, and thus we don’t speak truth in fear, we speak truth in faith!

God tells Elijah (eventually), I Kings 19:18, “Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”  The reality was there were others that were frightened and scared to stand, but would gain strength through Elijah standing.  They would stand with him, and ensure that the days of Baal came to an end, but it all hinged on Elijah continuing to stand.

 

#PastorJDO3

It’s the Party Guy!!!!!

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Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as
he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and
they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
Genesis 3:8

As I was reading this passage, I saw the world!  Each of us, taking turns eating from forbidden trees.  Eating until we are full, and then sharing the fruit with others.  Everyone smiling, full bellies and all, looking for the next tree to fulfill the unmet needs of the flesh.

writingThe serpent now, craftier than ever.  Pouring millions of dollars into advertisement, has generations of investors and consumers addicted to his delicacies.  In this season, he has increased his reach by making not only the sin satisfying and enticing, but he has made it convenient as well.  With one click or call, sin can be at your front door, on your computer screen.   And we are all fighting to reserve the next spot.  We sit frustrated when we have to wait on sin, complaining about the 90 minute wait times, 2 week back orders, out of stock notifications and the like, yet we wait, and yes, we consume.

We judge each other for our nakedness, covering up just enough to continue in sin.  While some sins are committed together, others are done in private, and spill over into public arguments and blame shifting from the shame of sins we’ve committed.  While other groups parade proudly in the streets, bragging about their sins, petitioning to the world for acceptance, and demanding that the house of God alter its world to reflect current cultural norms.

We spend our time in open rebellion, posting our sins before mankind, like a child who no longer fears chastisement and has determined to live outside of the will of God and their parents.  We stand on the bow of ships like Sargent Dan in Forrest Gump, challenging God as though we are invincible.

confidentHere we find Adam and Eve, after eating from the tree.  No time frame is given, but for fun, lets understand it our time frame.  There have been 2000+ years of grace given to us by the Lord (thus far), and Paul immediately has to address the Body of Christ because it is approaching the grace of God as though God has given us a Life Time Park Pass to Sin World.  Paul says, God’s grace is not a reason to sin, but a reason to turn from sin, yet, both he, and we find ourselves encountering those who are immersed in it as a way of life, without regret or a hint of remorse.

It’s as though we are on a cruise liner!  One big party with 24 hours access to feed our flesh.  It’s as though we have forgotten that the Lord has announced His return.  Though we have no day or time, we have his promise.  Much like our forefathers, they grew weary waiting for the promised messiah, and went about living and doing as though he was not going to honor His word.  They stopped looking for Him, and stopped listening to those who spoke about Him and for Him.  They walked away from God and adapted the practices and God of those who inhabited the land in which the dwelt.  They begin to customize the faith, keeping its basic tenets, and started customizing the faith according to best local practices, and to form fit a God towards their needs and personal desires.

shame2They stopped having a relationship with Him, and used Him as a resource to relieve themselves from the penalty of sin, while those who were chosen as servants figured out different ways to use their position with him to gain financial wealth and political prominence.  God ultimately decided to hold back his Word until the right moment.  He suspends His 3rd party service, and hand delivers His message!  Like a thief in the night, He appears with little fan fair, and few signs.  Only few were watching, so He came while all the ignorance and disobedience continued.  He walked among them and began to shine His light, revealing the darkness.

And yep, you guessed it!  He is coming again.  And much like His last entrance, He is going to crack the sky and we will all be caught red handed.   To retouch basis with our text, we will all run and hide.  Like Adam and Eve, when we hear the sound of the Lord in the cool of the garden, we will all realize that this Friend we have in Jesus is not just filled with grace and mercy, but he is filled with wrath!

Adam only knew God has a friend and a father.  He hadn’t sinned, and has not faced God’s discipline or correction.  In these moments, he became aware that he would have to stand face to face with the Lord and give a full account.  Yep, you guessed it!  So will we.

discouragedSo, I named this blog the Party Guy, because I used this character with my oldest two children.   I would send them to bed, and then they would party for the next 2 to 3 hours with the door closed, as though I was not aware they were in full disobedience.  I would yell upstairs a couple of time s to correct them, and they would be obedient for a few minutes, and then the party would resume.  Yep, you guessed it.  I would go upstairs to join the party.  Bursting through the door, I would says, “It’s the party guy!!!  Where’s the party?”  They would both dive into their beds, pulling the blanket over them as though it would protect them.

And yep, you guessed it we too are going to be leaping in our beds and grabbing our covers.  Sewing together leaves, and not this bold encounter with the Lord we boast about.  I’m going to ask him this!  I’m going to tell him that!  All lies!  We are going to look him in the eyes, and hopefully just say “Holy!” without any other word or words to follow!  To see the face of God, know who He is, know what He commands, know his power and to know yourself and your disobedience you experience both the fear and joy of meeting the savior!

#PastorJDO3

 

Nah; We Not Good!

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12 In that day I will carry out against Eli all that I have
spoken concerning his house, from beginning to
end. 13 For I have told him that I am about to
judge his house forever for the iniquity which
he knew, because his sons brought a curse on
themselves and he did not rebuke them.  14 And
therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the
iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned by
sacrifice or offering forever.”  1 Samuel 3:12-14

 

In life, offense is bound to happen.  As humans, we make bad decisions from time to time, and these mistakes cause hardship in the relationship.  For the most part, a simple conversation and apology will restore the relationship, but there are some offenses that end differently.  As a kid, one of the worst things that could happen after an encounter was to extend your hand as a peace offering and say, “We Good?”, and to have it rejected the gesture and say, “Nah! We Not Good!”

I know it’s not good English, but its an accurate translation.
“We Not Good” means all has not been forgiven.
Justice has not been served.  We will encounter each other again.
More suffering will follow.

God speaks to Samuel in regards to His new responsibility and about the action of the outgoing responsible party.  God speaks to Eli not to tell Eli’s business, but to make sure Eli and Samuel are sure about why his reign have come to an end.    Samuel answers God’s call receiving both instructions, correction and his first assignment.

Samuel’s First Challenge…

He would have to stand before the man he loved and respected and inform him of the Lord’s plans.  God comforts him, telling him that Eli is already aware of the coming judgement.  He understand the punishment coming, and is merely waiting for the details.  He is prayerful that God will deal mercifully with both he and his sons, but he is aware that God is: A.  Not talking to him  B. Speaking through him C. Displeased with him.

loudvoiceHe is merely waiting for sentencing, and sadly, his son (Samuel) has been charged with the duty to deliver them to him.  Now, this is not about Samuel, though he is surely learning from seeing how God is dealing with his father and mentor.  And on top of that, the word is not good.

His first assignment would not be to carry a word of blessing, but a word of judgement.  He would confirm the fate of his mentor, and experience for the first time the weight and challenge of carrying the Word of God to His people.

God recounts for Samuel the actions of Eli and the boys.  You can almost hear the frustration in his voice, as the long suffering love and grace of the Lord has been pushed to its max.  God has confronted Eli.  The people have cried out to God and to Eli about the atrocities, but Eli chose to take a soft line towards his children.  But God would model for Eli in this judgement.  God would not take a soft line, or give a lesser sentence.  Though filled with grace and mercy, the wrath of just part of God would be experienced.

Elis’ Perspective…

Eli has seen God forgive his people.  He knows that God can forgive.  He knows God will forgive.  The question that not looms is, Will God Forgive?  Eli and his boys are in need of God’s forgiveness!   Each day, he participated in the atonement of man through the sacrifice of man.  God dictated for His people what would make their relationship right, and in the incident that they would sin, they could come to God with a sacrifice, and this would please the Lord.

downloadSo you can imagine that Eli wondered what type of sacrifice would be demanded of him? What could he give up to restore God’s favor? What could he give up to return their relationship back to it original state.  What could he offer up to the Lord to honor and restore the luster of the covenant he was in with Him?

Samuel hears these words from the Lord, that is to be delivered to Eli,

And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house
shall not be atoned for by sacrifices or offering forever.”  1 Samuel 3:14

Imagine being like Eli…

This bothered me.  God, so easy and eager to forgive.  The one who is filled with grace and mercy.   The one who is long suffering.  The one who honors covenant, doesn’t change, is faithful, has decided 1.  No sacrifice is good enough to make the relationship right 2.  No person in the family line can 3.  This punishment is forever.

How burdening a thought?  Imagine offering the Lord the sacrifice of all your assets, and the Lord not extending his hand in peace.  Imagine knowing there was nothing you could do to change the Lord’s mind.  What if your prayers were sent to voice mail, and God ignored all your calls.  What if He denied you Facetime?  Wouldn’t meet you on Zoom?  Blocked you from His Skype account.  What if He reported you as spam?

Eli and his sons would meet their fate, knowing that no sacrifice from present or even future members of their blood line could atone for their sin.  How depressing!  They understood even future generations would also live under the punishment from their hands.  Their family would face an eternal band from the Lord, and would forever be cast from service.

Waiting for punishment….

Angry upset boy, little man

All Eli could do was wait.  Much like a child, eager to get the punishment over, Eli laid in his room waiting for a word from the Lord.   How frustrating. God spoke to Him about his actions, and now he waits for confirmation about the judgement.

I know some of you find the actions of God hard to believe.  And believe me, He isn’t all talk.  Both of Eli’s sons die on the same day, and then Eli upon hearing it falls and breaks his neck!  Game set and Match!!!

Some of us foolishly believe that when Christ comes, the compassion in Him is going to make Him change His mind.  There is no way a loving God could send people to hell you say.  There is no way a forgiving God will punish people for their sins. He will just forgive them you are thinking.  Be it known, He spoke to Eli, and followed through with His plan. 

He gave Eli adequate time to correct his sons and to do right by the people.  Most importantly, Eli had time to teach and redirect his son’s as to their abuse and misuse of the offerings.  He didn’t require them to treat it with honor and holiness, and thus the one action God made that could restore their relationship with Him, he removed by putting an asterisk next to their family name.   They defamed the name of the Lord in the community, and He would in turn make a public statement in defense of His name by dealing in the open with the ones that brought shame to His temple and His name!

discouraged Pastors, Prophets, Leaders…and the like, we need to get it together!  The response by God is relative not to the sins or imperfections of Eli or his sons, but by the way they managed the house of the Lord.  I am concerned that God is not only watching, but has been displeased with our management and our actions among His people.  Some of the church hurt is from congregants, but there are tremors throughout the body of Christ of people grieving and suffering because of the un-Christlike behavior of those God has called and purposed.  

I wish that it could be said that these people hurting the body of Christ are all false prophets, but like Eli, I believe that many of them are called, and being reckless in the position God has placed them in.   The calling of God does not make us bullet or fire proof, and in the event that it does, it will not protect you from the hand of the Lord.  Judgement is coming for all people, and to those of us who have been called to a higher standard, we know that the “Servant well done!” could be more like “What have you done?”  or worse, “Nah, We not Good!”

It is my prayer that each of us will correct our ways and make sure that we align our lives both publicly and privately to be more reflective of God.  In this, I believe our return to church will be more than just entering a building, it will be a return to the presence of God.  A place where we can find peace and rest for our souls.

 

#PastorJDO3