The Lion, The Prophet & Zion

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Joel 3:16

While reading this text, I was overcome with the words or our Lord speaking through His Prophet Joel.    He writes to Him concerning His people, and I saw us, paralleling the text.  Their actions had placed them into a weakened position.  

Lion sitting in tall grass

Though designed to be lenders, they weren’t even borrowers; they were the tail and not the head, not above, but positioned as beneath.  Though bearing the name of Yahweh, the living God, they benefited not from His presence, power and provision.  Though in covenant with the Lord, their unwillingness to keep His commandments, left them out of favor with the Lord, placing them in exile from God’s gift to them, and under the authority of a Kingdom not verbally submitted to the authority of the Lord.

Waiting to hear from the Lord, Joel cries out a Word from heavens gate, the Word they had been waiting for came.  A Word of restoration.  A Word of reconciliation.  A Word of recovery.  A word of renewal.  A Word burst forth from the Man of God, notifying the Elders, and all inhabitants of the land, God is moving.  The suffering that had been experienced in the past and presence, would be a history referred to by generations to come as a reminder not just to fear the Lord, but to be obedient to His Word.  The time would be a reminder to follow His commandments, and to love and serve Him alone, while not seeking the deeds of the flesh and putting idols before him.  Though Yahweh is the one, true and living God, He is jealous of the man made gods that had captured his people, and because these gods were not living, the life of these gods were in the hearts of the people who foolishly worship that which was powerless, though in covenant with God.

God speaks to his people in the third chapter.

The Lord roars from Zion;
from Jerusalem He sounds forth His voice.
The heavens and the earth shake. 
But the Lord is a refuge for His people;
He is a stronghold for the citizens of Israel.
Joel 3:16

The Lion

I was shaken by our God, who Joel records will “roar”.  The Prophet says “The Lord roars”! propheticroar

I recalled the day, as I am sure many of you will, when you first heard the voice of the Lord.  It’s that moment when you are walking across the earth, as a wild animal through the jungle.  You wander through consuming all you can, taking advantage of every opportunity, as though every experience was designed for you.  You waddled in the lows of sin, laying flat faced in the same pit the prodigal son worked in, riding the joys of sin as one hopped up on caffeine and sugar, and slowly loosing grip as you attempt to hold on to last nights high, eventually bottoming out into a pit of remorse and regret.  Then in the quiet, as you navigated life either unaware of the presence of the Lion, or had yet to have a personal experience with the Lion, you hear the power of His roar bellowing throughout the land.

He walked into your life boldly, causing you to reshape your life, considering your ways, and not aligning them with His Kingdom rule.  Understanding that law breakers of the circle, will be exposed to suffering as well as the shame that accompanies living outside of the law.  His “roar” stems from the same place that spoke the world into existence.  He recalls in the first chapter of Genesis that he  simple spokes words, and there was, and now Joel says that this same God, filled with power, opens His mouth and “roars”.  This Lion that sat in quiet, watching the destruction of His people and His creation, reaches a breaking point and cries out from the silence! 

mangerI sense that the Lord is growing tired of watching his people broken and suffering.  He is tired of seeing us wasteful and neglectful.  He cries tears seeing His Kingdom in ruins, and His people running about without concern for righteousness.  He has been silent while people walk though His Kingdom leaning on a covenant, in which they are law breakers, depending on it to be their protection, while they experience the fruit of the evil one.   He is tired of seeing us recite the lines of the adversary; loyal to his precepts, while the Word given to grow and prosper us sits idle bye, pregnant with potential, absent of a suitor.  God is “roaring!”

The Prophet

How is He roaring?  I know many of you are listening for His audible voice.  Listen closely!  God returns to His people via a Word from His Prophet.  Joel stood flat footed in front of the people and recalled the Word of God to His people, not just reminding them of the covenant and what they could get from the covenant, but confronting them with how they ended up in their current predicament, and via the power of God’s Word which can’t return void unto Him.   Oh that God’s Prophet would continue to stand firmly for and on the Lord’s Word.  If only we could walk as a generation of servants, committed to pursue God and not worldly gains.  If only our warriors would fight the fight of faith, not shortchanging God people for coins and bills.  What type of roar would we hear?  What type of roar is coming from our pulpits?  Are they Words that make people cry out for God, or cry our to us?  Are they Words that direct people to pursue Him, or chase possessions? 

The Word shows us a pattern in the Spirit, that I want to highlight.  He says “The Lord roars from Zion”.  Who and what is Zion?  Zion is His people.  Zion are those that are submitted to His Word.  Zion are those who are committed to live out His truth and carry forth His truth into the next Generation.   God speaks His Word through His Prophet into His People, and the Word spoken will take root, and be returned unto God via His people; Zion.  

Zion

Are you ready to roar?  

Each week, hundreds and thousands of people fill the temple of God to worship God through psalm, petition Him through prayer, and be empowered through hearing His Word.  The problem is not God, or His Word!  The problem is Zion.  We have apparently stumbled upon fallow ground, allowing the bird to eat up the seeds before they take root.  The people of God lost all they had because they stopped living according to His Word, stopped confessing His truth, ceased to allow Him to order their steps, and thus found themselves in bondage.  Sound familiar?  We are favored, and suffering because we are not putting God in His rightful place.  

Tug of War

God is ready to advance His Kingdom.  He is ready to restore order to our families.  He is ready to rebuild our communities.  He is ready to prosper our businesses, but He must come first!  Zion must not only have God in their hearts through a verbal confession, but must show forth fruit from a Word that has taken route in the heart of all who have heard.  

In this, Joel continues, “from Jerusalem, he sounds fourth his voice.”  This continues the above revelation, in that God is calling for Zion to sound out.  Jerusalem is the city in which His people dwell.  It is the central place where God’s house lay.  

I saw people returning back to the house of God.  Filling the seats, not to be entertained, but to be instructed.  I see and army of thirsty people, eager to get beyond the milk and entertainment and tradition, but hungry for a relationship with the God that loved them so much, that He sacrificed for them, and kept them even while they were in bondage.  I see Him wrapping His arms around those who have offended Him, and speaking words of life into their gate.  I see His Words literally planted on the brains like seeds on rows in a field, taking root into the lives of all those who hear.   I see Zion advancing as a unit, and not many parts, as His Word not just restores mankind’s relationship with God, but with each other.  I know hear the voice of “the Lord roar from Zion,” and “from Jerusalem He sounds forth His voice.”

embersGod reaches down with His hand into the smoldering ashes of our past fire for Him, searching for an ember.  Just one ember from our past, in which He can renew and rekindle a fire.  I see Him taking His Word, verse by verse, and laying it across our heart.  With both hands, he shields the wind of the adversary attempting to blow out the growing flame.  He leans over and breaths into our lives, slowly fanning, and adding on strip after strip, until the once smoldering fire, burst forth from our mouth as a raging fire from our tongues. 

bonfire

His voice cries out from Zion, moving from His temple, flows into the streets and begins consuming all in its path.  Joel says, “The heavens and the earth shake.”    Our God and His heavenly host are stirred up, preparing themselves to enter the land, breaking forth into the earthly realm, shaking the very ground on which the people of God advance.  Our champion descend on His white horse, bearing a sword, bringing unity to between heaven and earth, laying to eternity all those who refuse to submit to the true and living God.  Everything in caught with fear and trembling, even Zion.

But Joel gives us great news, and so too do I pass it to you.  “But the Lord is a refuge for His people”  As the Lord wages war with those who have not followed Him, consuming the land and all that dwell in it, Joel reminds us that “the Lord is refuge for His people”.  His people will be saved.  Those that bare His name are spared under the covenant set with Him.  God will protect His children.

39034898 - a lightning strike on the cloudy skyI love this because there are times when we are exposed to the same conditions as the world.  It rains on the just and on the unjust.  Famine comes through the city and all its inhabitants are affected.  Floods run down the street, and house after house is consumed, “But the Lord”!   We are often consumed with the sight or fear of immanent and perceived danger, “But the Lord”!  I want to acknowledge that God is a refuge.  In my own life, I have come through many circumstances, not equal to Paul, but a personal suffering of my very own, “But the Lord”, as I am sure you have.

We have all sat on the rocking boat, afraid of today’s wind, and tomorrows looming storm.  We have all seen the clouds gathering and felt the moisture and coolness of the air as the seasons change and the storm draws near.  We have heard the whistle of the tornado and fell the pull and push against our homes and vehicles as it destroys things miles away, and gives evidence of its ability cause lay to ruin all things in its path.  And though facing destruction, we but our trust in the Lord to be our stronghold.  He tells His people not to fear because its all a part of His plan.  And while He tears down, He is also restoring and building up.  He is placing His people back into their rightful state, calling them unto Him, as they advance through the streets.

FireBlazingI look around and see the infrastructure of all built being taken apart beam by beam, brick by brick.  It seems the underground aqueducts are being exposed, and the citizens are reaching for buckets to retrieve their own resources.  The roads that give us safe travel are now being held hostage, and the benefits of being a citizen of earthly kingdoms once again parallels Rome; pay tax and live.  As we render unto Caeser, Jesus descended from His seat and said, render unto God that which is belongs to God.  While man collects money to further feeding His flesh, God demands of man that which belongs to Him.  You know, we were bought with a price.  Our lives are not our own.  And while man is satisfied with coins, God wont be satisfied until we surrender to Him our life!

He is ready to walk with us! I wondered to myself, What would happen is The Lord, The Prophet and Zion worked together.  A strand of 3 is not easily broken I hear.  The strength and harmony of each chord strummed at the same time, all fully working

3strand

together to bring about Kingdom and God’s will upon the earth.  All levels and layers, working to full capacity to bring heaven to earth.  All working to shake the very foundation of heaven and earth, making sure the truth of God was spread to the outermost parts of the earth.  What if we all had a sense of urgency, and allowed the voice of God to boom from Jerusalem?  What would happen if Zion once again walked boldly, not concerned about the response of a defeated foe?

Verse 17 says,
You will be convinced that I the Lord and your God,
dwelling on Zion, my holy mountain. 
Jerusalem will be holy-
conquering armies will no longer pass through it.

Could it be that some of us are still not convinced?  Hmp!  “I the Lord am your God”!  I hear Him say.  All He has spoken will surely come to pass.

 

#PastorJDO3

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Set Down; Be Humble!

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Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men. Daniel 2:48
Moreover, at Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court. Daniel 2:49

We find our subject Daniel fresh from taking a stand for the King of Kings, being granted the gift of interpreting dreams, delivering the revelation to King Nebuchadnezzar.   The king bow and worships him, then acknowledges that Yahweh is God of all Gods, and then gives Daniel a top position in his kingdom, placing him over Babylon entire province.  Because of his commitment to the Lord, he has been elevated among men and now finds himself not just in the kings palace, but seated prominently at the gate, over all wise men as well as the province.

de604-danielDaniel is now a Set Man!  He now has authority and power, not just access to authority and power.  He is now in charge, and not under the supervision of Eunuchs and handlers, he is making decision and not taking instructions.  The King lavishes him with gifts, and now he is owner to wealth an living well beyond any expectations and dreams.  Now, we will learn more about Daniel.  How will he behave once He is in charge?  Will he continue to acknowledge God?  Will he respect his peers?  Will he worship his possessions?  Will he remain humble?

What would you do?

As I look at all we have accomplished and all we have obtained, it is sad to say that many of us once we are able to access a seat at the table, get our foot through the door, get our hands on the controller, most of us loose perspective and sight over what got us through.010-meshach-shadrach-abednego

See, Daniel is alive because God gave him the ability to interpret dreams, long before there was a dream, and the decree from the king went out to take the life of every wise man under his rule.  God rewarded Daniel for seeking and trusting Him, and gave him the gift that would not just save  his life, but would get him a seat at the table of the king!

How could Daniel not remember the Lord his God?  I guess the same question should be asked of us!  How can you forget who gave you the ability to earn wealth?  Gave you the talents to complete task and compete in the market place?  Helped you through school?  Gave you favor with the one in authority?

How can you?

shadmeshabenBut Daniel does even more than remember his God once he is set into position!  Daniel seeks the favor of the king and ask if Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego could be seated too.

Would you? 

Daniel was careful not just to remember who positioned him, but was willing to seek favor and position for those who followed him and sacrificed with him.  Daniel was loyal.  Unlike many, once seated at the table, Daniel didn’t forget others.  He used his position and favor with the king to help others get a seat at the table.

Now, he didn’t just pick anyone!!!  Daniel was sure to pick people he knew had the same spiritual basis he had.  dan3-imageHe chose people that would remember the Lord even though living lavishly.  He chose people that displayed spiritual discipline and self control.  He knew by serving with them that they would not crater to

Daniel chose those he studied with, and thus he understood they weren’t just

#PastorJDO3

Parade No More! Esther 1:12

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But when the attendants delivered the king’s command,
Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became
furious and burned with anger. Esther 1.12

 

VashtiLet me say first, there is something that you can learn from every passage.   Even when a person is wrong (King Xerxies), it does not mean we can not learn lessons from them, and that everything he did was wrong.  Having said that, even when a person is a good person (in this case Queen Vashti), it does not mean that everything she did was right, or that we can not draw thoughts or question her actions.  There is only one person that can not be questioned; Yep, you guessed it!  

Let’s acknowledge that the Hitlers of the world are terrible people, but we can learn from them.  They did something right, and those things make them successful even in doing the wrong they did.  Our job is to look at the lives of others and even our own lives and to consider our ways, as I will do in this blog, which will look at Queen Vashti from the perspective of one who carefully considered her actions before deciding not to appear before the King.

As an example for others, she considered her position and used her platform to send a message to young women and old women, that they should no longer subject themselves to the abusive treatment of their men.  When summoned by the King, she decided there would be No More Parades!  No more walks of being paraded around for her beauty in front of the Kings friends!  Despite the possible loss of life, and loss of position and possessions, she made the statement that it would better to be a divorced,  a homeless citizen than to live a life of luxury with a husband that only sees you as a trophy wife.

I wonder, how many of us would display such courage?

HowOld books, inkstand and scroll many of us are so certain about justice and equality, that we are willing to risk our lives to get what is right for ourselves?  While most of us would have been satisfied to eat and sleep good, Queen Vashti decided that there was more to life than living in luxury.  If only more of us had the same convictions.  She chose not to compromise her dignity and self worth for the sake of being prosperous!

She decided that the parade of her beauty was beneath her, and demanded to be seen as more than her looks.  She wanted the respect of the King, and at all cost, was determined to stop her parades and the parades of others that would follow her.

This is important for us to examine.  As we see those coming forth in the entertainment and political industry today, we are reminded that there are more important things that prosperity and our careers.

First, one should never abuse power!  Second, one should not accept the abuse of power!  Third, one should not support or cover up the abuse of power.    Queen Vashti decided that she would stand against this abuse.  She faced it head on and decided that she would nip it in the bud.

sweepunderrug

She was aware that many women in the kingdom desired to be her, and also were using her as an example for life.  She grew frustrated with the lack of progress of women everywhere and sacrificed herself to lead the charge towards progress.  She decided that she would not allow herself to be used a pawn in the Kings game to trick women into allowing them to be abused by their husbands.  Her compliance with being abused would lead to many other subjecting themselves to the same discourse, and she chose to make a stand!  While most of us can not see past the silver spoon in the second course of our meal, to see the fork and knife in the third course, Queen Vashti decided to live beyond herself and but others before her!  She knew his aim was to keep women sub servant so they wouldn’t become powerful and influential or even lead their families.

How many of us are thinking of more than ourselves when we make decisions?

As we investigate all that is before us, I pray that we will not be too comfortable with our positions, and so in love with our prosperity, that we not consider others when we take action.  There are times in life when we get to live beyond ourselves and make a difference for others, and Queen Vashti took it.   I hope we can learn from her and do the same.

#PastorJDO3

I loved the discussion from my blog post on facebook, but do want to encourage us to be open when looking at life and at text.  Everyone, I repeat everyone in the Bible is flawed, save one!   We can look critically at text and take into context all its warts and pimples.  Queen Esther, who is the focal point of the story is chosen as Queen not because of her brains, but because of her beauty (much like her predecessor Queen Vashti), but this does not mean that we can not learn from her.  She also kept her lineage a secret, but we can still learn from her.  She also uses her beauty to get before the King.  I can go on and on, and I skipped over some things too!   There are also more than one way to make an impact!  Queen Vashti choose to be removed from being queen, while Queen Esther kept the position and used it to benefit her people.  Both women are heros, but took different approaches to make change and take a stand for right.

Queen Vashti: Your Example Esther 1:12

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But when the attendants delivered the king’s command,
Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became
furious and burned with anger.  Esther 1.12
Then when the king’s edict is proclaimed throughout
all his vast realm, all the women will respect their
husbands, from the least to the greatest.”  Esther 1:20
He sent dispatches to all parts of the kingdom,
to each province in its own script and
to each people in their own language,
proclaiming that every man should be ruler over his own household,
using his native tongue. Esther 1:22

 

VashtiThough it would be fun to start a tense dialogue, I dare not ring the bell to start the war of the sexes.  Far be it from me to jump into this text and risk every female reader (including my own wife and 5 daughters protest and attack me for discussing the ins and outs of the text), but I will, but in a different manner; kind of.

When looking at this text, I looked at it from the perspective of both Queen Vashti and King Xerxies.  Settling on Queen Vashti, I wondered most why she refused to come to the King, but as I read, I wondered if she considered the affect her refusal would have?  Sure she thought about how tired she was, and I can def identify with being tired of the “dog and pony show”, but she was more than Vashti, she was Queen Vashti.  Much like you are not just Bill, but you are a Father, Mentor, Coach, Teacher…. and your actions and decisions extend far beyond a moment.

Didn’t she consider that her example was an example?

How you respond is translated by those who follow you,
and transcribed into their lives.

Queen Vashti understood that there were potential consequences to her disobedience to responding to the King in the manner she did, but her consideration included like most of us, herself.  memyselfirene

Who are you thinking about before you act?  And yes, this would be a perfect moment to interject our Lord and Savior, but who are you thinking about?  I believe most, if honest, are thinking about a small sphere called “Me, Myself and I” (Irene if  you are silly).  The moment we are experiencing is so powerful, that the weight of the moment to impact our future and the live of those following us.

If you are like me, you are probably thinking of at least two Queen V moments!  How many moments would you like to take back, not for yourself, but for others?  Moments where you forgot that people were watching you.  Not watching you for the sake of judgement, but watching with the intent to learn from and draw from your example.  There are people within your sphere that take notes on your life, and use your example and model as their blueprint.

Or maybe she was just so “fair to look on”
that she considered herself irreplaceable.

removecrownIt could be possible that she over estimated her beauty and the influence it had over the king.  Maybe she thought the favor she obtained from the king through past encounters would ensure that she would be given a second opportunity, or that her disobedience would be over looked once he looked her over? 

She was wrong! 

And so are we when we loose sight of the privileged we have through the positions we have been placed in.  Sad to say, Queen Vashti received the Queen B treatment, and was told to move to the left.  Worse, she thought herself to be irreplaceable.  Then still found she had to bow down(I’m really not a big fan, but I have 5 daughters!!!). leftbeyon

How many times have you been right, but wrong?  She was wrong about the outcome of her decision.  Her decision forced the King to make a decision regarding the wife he was so proud and pleased of.

Beyond his anger, both he and his counsel understood that the example set by the Queen would have implications far beyond the King’s castle.  They knew word would spread from home to home, starting with the leaders, and work its way down to each citizens home.  Her disobedience had the potential to shift the entire direction of a nation.   And so can yours!

Example-stamp

I look at the state of our homes, our communities, and of course our churches.  I wonder how many Queen Vashti decisions we are struggling to correct?  How many bad examples were passed down from mothers, fathers, councilmen, senators, pastors and parishioners that we have adopted as acceptable behavior?

As we watch the entertainment industry being unclothed and politicians being exposed, I am not only disgusted by the actions of these individuals (not that I am without sin), but am bothered by those who have emerged to testify that they knew what transpired, but kept quiet so that their means of income would not be disturbed.   For every abused woman and abused entertainer, there are multiple witnesses that chose not to speak up for fear not only of being not believed, but being black balled from pursuing their careers.  These actions had transpired so long, that it became and acceptable practice in the industry, and they had a start.  There was an original casting couch, much like there was an original oral office (Bad Clinton Reference).  Somewhere, the abuse and misuse of power became acceptable and idolized and not reprehensible.  It was admired by those who desired those positions, and supported by those who watched quietly to keep food on their tables.

Old books, inkstand and scrollThank God King Xerxies administered a decree!!!!  He administered a decree to address the unacceptable actions of the Queen.  I wonder how our families, communities and churches would be different had those in power bound together to do what the felt best for the kingdom, not just the King or the Queen?  Oh that decrees would have been made before the actions of one or two had become so prevalent that it became an acceptable part of culture.

#PastorJDO3

Just Bow Already! Daniel 3:14

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and Nebuchadnezzar said to them,
“Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego,
that you do not serve my gods
or worship the image of gold I have set up?
Daniel 3:14

I love the way this passage reads.  It’s the underlying portion and source of Nebuchadnezzar’s frustration and anger that is at work in this passage.  I chose to write on it because it is so similar to some of what we are seeing play out before us with the NFL, NFL players and NFL fans.  

dan3-imageNebuchadnezzar looks at these young men as ungrateful and disrespectful.  See, these three young men, along with Daniel (who was renamed Belteshazzar by the Eunic) were chosen from the children of Israel, and were brought from their impoverished situation into the Kings palace.  They were given the best of sleeping, dinning, eating, teaching and training.  For this, the King sought to benefit, but also assumed that his provisions would guarantee loyalty and support.   Through Daniels request, they not only entered into the leadership program, but they were placed over the affairs of the province of Babylon, while He sat in the gate.

Shortly after getting a promotion, these young men were faced with a decision.  See, though living above the standard of those at home, though favored by the king, and living above the majority of those who were of similar decent of the King, these young men could not forget the God that placed them in their position and the commitment of not defiling themselves that put them in the position they stood in.  Considering this, they remained true to the God of their fathers, and despite the Kings food, wine, accommodations and money, decided they would not bow and worship any false idol.

Nebuchadnezzar was shocked.  How could it be possible that these young men would risk loosing their position, status, lifestyle and even their lives by being disobedient to the Kings ordinance?  The handlers looked upon them with shock and disgust, for deliverance_daniels-freindseven they, whom were lower on the totem pole of power, had bowed their knee, and chosen to worship this false God, to protect their life and their livelihood.  Most of the onlookers couldn’t understand why these guys would risk it all, for they too were a part of the chosen select that were living above the standard of the others, and many of them wanted to take the place of these chosen men.

Though their refusal to bow had nothing to do with them, they became angry for the King, and reported the men because they wanted them to follow along with the program dictated by the King as they had.  Many of them had compromised themselves, and it wasn’t fair that they should compromise, and those working beside them, in positions that they coveted, were allowed to earn or serve in their position without complete compliance.  They shook in fear because of the threats of the King.  It was worse than loosing their position, it entailed loosing their life in the furnace.

Interestingly enough, it wasn’t their performance that the King was upset with.  They, along with Daniel, were ruling well, helping the King run and manage his affairs in such a way that he continued to prosper.  The King looked beyond their performance and ignored how he prospered with them in the positions in which they served, and chose to confront, convict and condemn anyone who wouldn’t bow, even if it cost him performance and profit in the provinces they oversaw.

kingschair2He postures before the young men, shocked that they aren’t fearful of him, and not concerned with the possibilities of his power, and cowering to his threats.  I can hear the frustration in his voice, as he feels the betrayal and defiance of people who he feels he has lifted from the ashes and introduced them into the life of luxury.  Not only are they not being obedient, but they are now in danger of publicly dishonoring the king by not following his direct command, which would leave him no choice but to carry out his threat.

I know many of you reading are thinking, just bow!  Eat the meat!  Drink the wine!  Worship the idol!  If not, you will loose you position.

You would wouldn’t you? 

You have, haven’t you?

Let me guess, you aren’t even bothered by the fact that the Eunuch gave them a new name.   It was an honor that he renamed them right?  It helped them fit in better.  It sounded better right? It was supposed to help them assimilate quicker.  Right?  ownerleavingmeeting

It’s always shocking when someone has the courage to stand for what they believe in, or in this case, take a knee for what they believe is right.  The young men knew that their position and power came from the Lord, who gave them the gifts and talents, made them without blemish, and positioned them to be found and selected.  It was the interpretation of the dream that placed them in a position to earn.  It was their commitment not to eat or drink the kings meat that gave great knowledge and skill, and Daniels the gift to interpret said dreams, not the King.  Had they not had gifts, the king would have had no use for them, and would not have extended the opportunity for them to prosper together.

 

The king was not doing them a favor.  The king was not a humanitarian! 

playersatmeeting

He was a wealthy person with a problem.  He was a person trying to build his kingdom and solidify his position and power.  He was not dividing up and sharing his wealth, he was utilizing the gifts of these young men to prosper.  And for those keeping score, so are the NFL Owners.  The players are profitable for the owners, thus they are invited to take part in prosperity and luxury, but most are captured in the meat and wine, and as partakers, are loyal to those who will release them at a moments notice without out even a face to face visit.

Honestly, our faith would be better if more of our leaders were like these young men.  Many of our leaders have found themselves with full bellies and cheerful spirits from the flowing wine, and have chosen to bow and worship.

 

#Pastor JDO3

 

 

 

New Temple; Same Market! Pt. 2

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If you read Part I, proceed to paragraph 5.      To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market! John 2:16

Part one posed many thoughts about the current challenges facing our churches.  Shamingly, I writes churches, a subtle admission of the largest problem we face, while challenging us all to take a close look at ourselves with sober judgment and face a sad reality or ignore warnings and trends.  

As we continue to look at the marketplace, we find Christ encountering the temple before the Passover.  He wandered into the courts and saw up close the wickedness that had emerged in the place that was to provide a medium for healing and restoration.  He stood face to face with the place, no doubt, many had complained about the scales used to determine whether one was forgiven or in limbo with the Lord.  While many approached God with a contrite heart, they were instructed that there best wasn’t good enough for the Lord.  The system that was created to facilitate, no majored on regulating, leaving more wounded than whole.

Our Lord fashioned a whip and declared, “Stop turning my Fathers House into a Market”  reading this, I thought of today’s circumstances and wrote, “New Temple; Same Market.”

Today’s Temples are absolutely amazing.  I’m sure upon Christ return that He will visit each one and sign up for the guided tour of each of our localities.   I can imagine that He will take pictures in our pulpits, possibly baptize a few in our baptismal pools, and recline in our offices, later taking a ride in our vehicles which He blessed us with.  Nah!  We know what His return will be like, but not to let the moment pass, when Jesus encountered this Temple, he wasn’t impressed with the operation, He was angered by the misuse of His Fathers house.  It was not created to be a for profit, it was to be a non profit directed by a Prophet that was not focused on making a profit, but doing what was profitable for ones soul.  (I know the Prophet didn’t control the temple, I’m bridging to today).

New Temple; Same Market Pt. 2

With the house out of order, He paused the festivities to clean house!  I am convinced that the same would occur in many places today.  Jesus prays to God about the disciples, the church, and their role in what was to come.  Thus we too must clean house. We must focus on the Message of Christ and being like Christ; correcting un-christlike behavior.  And when abuse occurs in the ranks and pew, we must reestablish the will of Christ within our walls.

He says,

“I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”  John 17:23

Jesus stressed Kingdom, as in One, not Kindgoms as in many.  Though there is freedom and beauty in the variety of praise, there is nothing beautiful or freeing about the many messages from the messengers.  Confusion exists when seekers hear speakers promoting political and personal agendas.  It is as though there is no truth today.  Truth is no relative to the audience one is trying to reach it seems. Market studies reveal the perfect Message for tingling ears, and many have chosen to deliver it line by line though to fill empty seats.  These things result in a rejection of truth, a group that don’t have the truth in them, and creates a pew filled with cynics.

Each time my Grandfather and I speak, he says,  “There is a difference in a church and a congregation.  We have too many congregations!  We must be the church!” Pastor Buford Horn (#grandpahorn)  “What’s the problem you ask?” Many of our churches are congregating around ideals and values that don’t align with Christ!  And for many, they aren’t disciples, rather people who are similar and use the church as a place to congregate and do commerce.

John Maxwell said at the GROW conference, “The world is motivated by an untapped market.  Are you motivated by the unsaved?” Which brings us to our next issue in the market, competition.  It’s not the competition that is the issue, rather the ones being competed for.  Maxwell spoke to us, “If I told a business man that 60% portion of a the market was virgin, he wouldn’t hear the rest of my presentation.”  He gently scolded us, confronting us will a sad reality.  Much of our growth has been movement not salvation’s.  Some have catered Sunday mornings not for the unsaved, but have designed our worship and temples to gather the largest portion of the existing market-share possible.  We are not creating an audience, we are competing for an audience. img_2881-2

Yes, people need a place to worship.  Yes, we need to track down the one and reach those who have fallen out of fellowship. These are responsibilities placed on the Shepherd and his team, but the great commission refocuses us on our main task.  It’s to take the Message and create more Messengers that can take the Message and create more Messengers.  It seems we have fallen in love with the twelve and crowds and forgotten about the cross.  Why were we sent? To whom where we sent?

If we are anything like our Christ, we would see a shift in our target audience!  There are still poor, prisoners, blind and oppressed in the hedges and highways.   And as long as these aren’t our focus, the country club atmosphere and mentality will continue to plague or congregations, and keep us from becoming the church of Jesus Christ.
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New Temple; Same Market! The Market Place Wins Again! Pt. 1 John 2:16

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I started this blog with the intent of writing a blog called “The Elephant in the Room” and talking about the events of Charlottesville, Virginia (and using the Republican Elephant as the main picture), but I have so many friends that are Republicans and great people that I thought it both wrong and irresponsible!   Furthermore, the politics that has permeated our churches has become a silencer to the smoking gun called hatred!  By now, I pray that all of you are tired of hearing our faith linked to political organizations who only use our principles to garner our votes!  Again, the church of Jesus Christ is not a political party!  It is a group of people who have walked away from a life of sin because of the Messiah King’s sacrifice, and have chosen to become disciples in a pursuit for righteousness.

Having said all of this, I come to the point of this blog.  Many young people have left our churches not because of the message of Christ, but because of the foolishness of the messenger and the immaturity of the followers!

Christ came into the world and showed one act of aggressiveness.  No, it wasn’t at a rally!  It wasn’t with the tax collector!  It wasn’t with the woman caught in adultery or with the man in the tombs!  It wasn’t even with Peter who spoke incorrectly or when the disciples again displayed little faith!  Not even when the disciples fell asleep while he prayed.  He rolled up his sleeves, fashioned together a whip, and went to the alleged “house of prayer” and ran out all animals, people, threw all the coins on the ground and turned over every table!  The leaders rebuked Him, asking who gave him authority, and standing on the 46 year existence of the temple.

marketplace

From the depth of His core, He demanded,  “..Stop turning my Fathers House in to a Market…”, which takes us to the Title of the Blog, “New Temple; Same Market! The Market Place Wins Again!”

 

Jesus walked into the temple a saw the drive of the leaders and managers to find the most profitable way to restore the relationship between God and Man.  The took God’s law and wrote into it a way to eat, drink, live and drive the finest.  They analyzed the bottom line, crunched the numbers, and like good stewards, figured a way to increase profit margin and in the the profit, increased there margin of spiritual error.  The bottom line became the main focus, and thus Jesus took a moment from His busy schedule to refocus the flock!

With His own hands, He braided together chords and sought to bring about harmony with the church and the will of God.  As His whip cut through the air, I imagine that each strike was precise, and the sound of His strike snapped with such power that it echoed throughout the country side.  As animals scattered, He turned to those profiting and demanded that the doves be turned loose as well.

Marketplace2.jpgI was both angry and relieved by reading this passage.  The passage list that the whip was used to run the animals out, but he left the servants that had turned it into the market.  I thought to myself, that whip should have met a back not the ground.  It should have cut a thigh and cheek, not just the air!  But even in anger, He was poised and controlled.  He displayed His disgust as a warning while knowing that in a short time, the source of revenue they had built would be torn apart.

Yep, today, I declare that many of our “Houses of Prayer” should cut down all vegetation on site and in the surrounding area!  Christ would in many cases clean out the foolishness that has overcome some (NOT ALL) of our temples (churches).    As I both read and discuss some of the rhetoric about the Global Church, actually, the “American Church”, we find all to often that reports about abuse and misuse surface.  Though most of these stories, though some are true, do no apply to the majority of churches, it does apply to some.  Without throwing a blanket over us all, it is important that each parishioner and reader know that the man of God, preacher,  or pastor is human; we are not perfect.  We make errors, and God deals with us, and in some cases, so does the pew.

Forgiveness should be in play in all cases, just as God chooses to forgive in all circumstances.  Be it duly noted, that God says every man will be held accountable for his own actions.  Having said this, Forgiveness is not turning a blind eye to evil or supporting it with silence.  And Patience and Long Suffering is not watching another suffer at the hands of one who abuses and misuses power.    Jesus could have walked by this temple and ignored the actions of those who were misrepresenting Him and abusing those who He had chosen, but He spoke up, and took action to bring about change.

marketplace 3I am convinced that everyone silently protesting and verbally protesting the church isn’t mature, unsaved or stuck in un-forgiveness.  

I fear they tuned in, took positions and in the end, simply weren’t buying what we were selling! They packed and left! Some frustrated that the house of God is not the place they expected it to be.  They remain baffled and the countless amount of Pastors and clergy men that remain silent when those who are less than are picked on and taken advantage of.  They are confused as our churches ignore truth, and create a message that caters to top givers.  They are saddened by those who sit in comfy chairs, have reserved parking, television and radio programs, blogs and podcast and chose to remain silent as evil occurs for fear of loosing membership and the worst, low approval ratings!  They are wondering to themselves how someone can be responsible for their soul and not care for them as a person.  They watch in disgust, and choose to watch from their couches, and shrivel away while they feed themselves, and starve from lack of nourishment.

In this day in age, not to reduce everything to buyers and sellers, but a great product can fail because of bad marketing and false advertisement!  Our Bible describes the product, and gives a ingredients list.  It even describes the mission and values of the church and how it should be run.  Much of the criticism we face is not about doctrine, but its about mission and actions.  If these are not attended too, the natural ebb and flow of the market will continue, and our houses of worship will be just like Blockbuster and Hostess!

 

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