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.

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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.

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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! 

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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

 

 

 

Pick-A-Prophet; Pickpocket Prophet

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little-girl-pout-pouting-furrowed-brow-tantrumI am convinced that God is disappointed, no, not with the world (unrighteous), but with the righteous. As one that looked upon us with compassion, constantly showing mercy, love, grace and even favoring us while in our sinful state, I am convinced that He figuratively shakes his head as some of our leaders make headlines using His word and His platform to further their own personal cause and worse, confusing the message of Christ.

I praise God that He doesn’t have the eyes of man.  We are blessed that when He walked the earth, seeing things from our perspective, that He not only remained without sin, but remained consistent in character.   As He taught people the truths of life, delivering to them the Gospel, He chose to live out the Words He preached.  He served as a personal guide and model to living life on this earth.  He was not overcome with such disgusted with our lawlessness and misuse of His grace and mercy, that He didn’t cancel His plans for the New Covenant. He still saw us with eyes of compassion, though they robbed Him before His entry, and Judas continued to represent us as a whole, stealing directly from the hand that was feeding him. He chose to trade in his relationship with God for some coins, that prospered him for a moment, and then sealed his fate for eternity.

As I look at some of our clergy men,
particularly our evangelical leaders,
it reminds me much of our brother Judas,
who’s comfortable position as keeper of the funds,
and his position of disciple opened
d
oors
and gave him influence that he never dreamed possible,
but when given an opportunity to utilize his position to elevate his career, turned his back on the one who placed him in position
and made the sacrifices needed to carry on the mission of Christ.

childpoutingAs opposed to being loyal to the mission and cause, he chose a different master, mammon. His position as one of the 12 wasn’t enough, and his fear that he would loose his meal ticket and influence, as well as not complete his personal agenda, made him reach across the table and sell-out the Messiah King.

Not that this blog is to bury all the top shelf evangelicals who have lost focus, and have manipulated scripture, hanging their political beliefs on one or two scriptures and ignoring the other 90% of the whole text, and 99.9% of the Gospel (100% of the Red Letter Text [and we know who’s in red letters!] ), but to ask you the reader if you have chosen the same path? Have you chosen your own agenda and comfort over what is right, and thus righteousness? Could it be that we have found such comfort in our own position and prosperity, that we have ceased to be like Christ?

Our eyes of compassion are no longer Biblically driven, but are colored and shaded by political narratives, that encourage us all to consider our own best interest as opposed to the placing the needs of others before us.  Now we look for our Prophets and Priest to line up with our Politicians narrative, or He or She is seen as one that lacks divine connection, as opposed to looking for a Man or Woman of God that will speak the truth in the face of injustice, choosing to preach a Gospel that is about bringing healing and building a community based on love, support, and not one guided by hate and judgement.

pickapartToday, many look for churches like I used to comb through the Pick-A-Part Lot.  Looking for amenities, and a Prophet that will comfort them as the live a lifestyle of compromise.  But Pick-A-Part goes beyond picking a church and prophet that suits your needs, but also highlight this generation that hops from church to church because they spend more time picking a part the things that are wrong with the churches that are truly carrying out the mission of Christ, but have things that are not perfect about their structure and even their leadership.  Thus for this blog, is called Pick-A-Prophet (I thought about Pickpocket-Prophet might make that the subheading).  People looking for cheap parts that fit their own selfish narrative, choosing only what they deem relative to give them peace.  Our sermons are used like mild sedatives, giving the believer a false sense of peace, treating the symptoms, and leaving the problem, and worse, some pulpits revel in being the chosen pharmacy, as opposed to being the cleaners we are designed to be.  

pickpocketSadly; this is nothing new!  Pharisees aligned with the government, abused the people, and rejected the Messiah.  Prophets catered messages to the people afraid of being stoned.  Prophets grew tried of preaching truth, and having the message rejected by stiff necked people, and decided to minister to the tingling ears of their constituents, further angering the Lord.  And today, sadly, we see some Prophets and Priest who have chosen to exchange God for mammon.  While the average believer is raising a stink about what happens to tithes and offerings, they are not privy to the real source of the income many of these profits have access too.  While it is true that some have their hands in the pocket, we must pay attention to the pockets that are funding the lasciviousness that you view.   They have united and turned our faith into a pact, lobbying with the rest for favors in exchange for votes.  They lead politicians in-front of constituents, and laying hands on them, giving a vote of confidence to the one who represents financial prosperity and upward social mobility.

Though what is done be these misguided and false prophets is wrong, I will look away from them and remind them that we are encouraged to study to show ourselves approved.   Though this mandate was given to a man of the cloth, it is sure to be modeled by us.  We must try the spirit by the spirit, and seek wisdom and knowledge by knowing God and His will in such a way, that the foolishness of one who decides to chase money as opposed to the mark of Christ will be easily identified through our study, prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit.  The reason we are able to be mislead as congregants, is because they have chosen comfort and convenience over truth and conviction.    They have willingly volunteered themselves to be manipulated by choosing a Prophet who will not present truth and lead them towards life change.

 

#PastorJDO3

Ears Open; Eyes Closed!

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I am always amazed at the selective hearing and response of human beings.   Each day people are given stories and encounters, real life situations and circumstances, by which we casually surf, swipe, invest digest or cast aside as unimportant. 

selectivehearing

It is amazing how we can hear of the pain of others, and choose not to feel, disconnecting from their agony with rationalizations and generalizations, and justify our lack of concern with political rhetoric and worse, religions (I can’t use the word I would like to use here 😦 ) foolishness.

I am amazed at how our political and economic affiliations and backgrounds serve as a guide to who deserves mercy and grace, whom should be forgiven, who is guilty, who deserved their punishment and suffering, who is worth bailing out, who is a leach, who is profitable, who is necessary, and who lack value and the ability to contribute to society.  Our affiliations also dictate to us who is a victim?  And how we should hear a victim?sexydressedwoman

 

An argument on Facebook emerged once as to:
“Whether women that wore “sexy” outfits
made themselves targets for Offenders
and thus deserved what happened to them.” 

Tempers were high!   Ultimately, it was decided socially that the dress of the woman did not deem certain treatment or response, because it was her right to dress how she decided.  It was determined that a woman offended even while dressed like this, even if flirting with the offender was a victim if she said “no” even if undressed down to her undergarments by her own choice.  We all agreed!  This woman is a victim.

This same general group of people argued about:
“Whether a black male dressed in a hoody
walking through a neighborhood deserved
to be shot even if un-armed.”

blackhoodyPeople were obsessed with the fact that it was late at night.  This, even though it was agreed that a woman didn’t deserve said treatment under any circumstances.  They determined that his clothing intimidated the armed man that was following him, and thus the armed man following the unarmed man had the right to shoot the unarmed man because he had on certain clothing.  In this, they determined that the young man in the hoody was not a victim. 

Thank you God for not taking counsel from man!!!!!  I believe God would consider them both victims and that His compassion for both would be the same.  I’m convinced that Jesus, whom chose not to restore the earthly throne of David, and get caught up in the political foolishness of His days on earth, would again look at us as disciples and opt of of the ignorance that we watch on a daily basis.

He would not be influenced by parties or by His own selfish needs and ambition, but would want what was best for those who were less fortunate than He.  Jesus would be speaking out like John the Baptist, who’s head was on a platter because He chose to stand for righteousness.  He looked, too, in the face of government officials, and sent a message to every follower by loosing his life for what was right. judascoins

Paul put his life on the line for righteousness.  He chose to remain in chains than to compromise truth, using his citizenship to present the Gospel to those who were lost, not to escape punishment to live in comfort.  Paul chose to walk away from his status, leave his career, confess his wrong, and make amends with those whom he persecuted.  He stood toe to toe with Peter, when it came not to his rights which he had as an Apostle, but to those whom were being forced to depend on measures other than grace to be saved.  Though already circumcised, he chose to side with truth, as opposed to demanding that everyone make a sacrifice that would be of no benefit to them because of the new covenant.

We have focused in the past on the saying, “What Would Jesus Do?”
And while this helped some,
it only provide an avenue to be ignorant for others.
Thus, I’m asking you, “What Did Jesus Do?” 

Jesus, like John the Baptist, looked in the face of government officials, who were staining the silk sheets of the temple, exchanging favor and collecting monies.  The government was working hand in hand with the Pharisees to control “their constituents,” and saw chosen church official choosing to speak out against truth because it challenged their authority and pointed out their unrighteousness.

We saw Jesus making His way to the side of families whom He physically, and to those whom He prior had no physical relationship with.   He spoke the same words of life to them all, choosing to break the bread and distribute it to all that had need, not only to the ones whom He knew followed Him with the right motives and intent.  The reality is that he fed those whom he knew listened and followed to eat and receive miracles.  justice1He fed people who would eventually cry out for Barabbas.  He dined at the table as the one who would betray him, walked with those who would scatter in the garden, and shared intimate moment with one who would deny him three times.

To Jesus, a victim was a victim!  Victim is relative to right and wrong, not parties, prosperity and economics.  He looked upon people with eyes of compassion, and invested time with the woman at the well like he invested time with the 12.   He looked upon people and was attentive to their cry.  He kept His Ears Open and His Eyes Open, and we have chosen to keep ours Eyes Shut, and like snakes, are charmed by the melodies of politicians.  But not Jesus!!!  He sat at the table with tax collectors and stood to read the scroll among the brothers in the priesthood.  He took time to spit in the ground and lay hands to bring sight and spent time in worship and being transfigured.  He taught the masses from a boat, and then retreated a quiet place to pray.  He called a dead man from a tomb, restoring to him life, and then allowed himself to be crucified and placed in a tomb.

A man puts a ring on his wife during a mJesus did only what the Father allowed, and chose to line up every action with God, and gave God the glory in all things, not to draw attention and build a following for Himself, but had the goal of pointing back to the Father.  He had a covenant!  He took an oath!  He exchanged vows not with the Government, but with the Creator!  His loyalty was not one of convenience, but one of commitment to communicate to those lost the love of God despite any current and future condition that one would find themselves in.  I believe God grieves for the shooter and well as the one murdered or maimed.  He cried for the children that were aborted and then shed tears for the one who committed murder bombing the clinic.  He is saddened by the man or woman that lives a lifestyle of homosexuality and cringes for the man and woman who sign on to websites and sully their temple and disrupt their relationship with Him! 

In the end, I have concluded like God, that we are all victims and in need of the blood provision of Christ.  We are all prone to sin, and struggle with our flesh, thus are deserving of death and are only righteous because we are justified by faith in Him!

 

#PastorJDO3

Sleight of Hand (Politics in the Pulpit)

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Lately I have been shaking my head!  As of late groups like the Black Hebrew Israelite’s have used the sad truth that some white slave owners attempted to use the Gospel of Jesus Christ to control their slaves.  Now, what type of evil makes one take a Gospel that should be liberating and uses it to control people, I can not define.  How one justified their selfish desires, and through reading a Gospel of peace, found a way to take a verse or two, while omitting entire paragraphs, I will never understand.  How one can read Genesis and see that God created Mankind, and then make those of different skin hues less than or half of a human being is truly far beyond my imagination.   Their major claim to convert African American’s to their faith is that the white man used the faith to manipulate our ancestors, and thus the whole truth is not truth, rather a lie.

And while there logic is solid, it still does not make complete sense.  The same Bible that evil men thought to use to control people; once read, liberated them.  Those that could read (and by those, I mean a 1 or 2) began to read the Word of God for themselves, and the truth was revealed to them.  They then stood on the Word and were able to obtain God’s will for their life and for those to come.

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We need the same spirit to exist today!  We need to read God’s Word for ourselves.  We are facing the magic of the sleight of hand that prior generations faced.   It’s not that of government printing propaganda, but from pulpits who are attached to political groups.  Our faith interacts like a super pack contributing money to press an agenda, while exchanging votes for favor and prominence.

I watched clips of some of our most famous magicians, I was mesmerized at how they took the items which we had visual contact with, and were able to manipulate them in such a way, that even while paying attention, crowds of 100 were not able to catch the trick.  People watch carefully to catch the trick, but lack the training to have a full understanding of what they are watching.  This is what we face today.  Not enough people are knowledgeable of God’s Word and have a personal relationship with Him to identify when they are being tricked by the sleight of hand.

Much of the sleight of hand is the character or personality with the cards.  The voice and presentation of the magician makes the trick believable, thus making it magic.  People are so trusting of a well tuned vocal chords or a trusting face, that they are easily fooled by that which they know is false.  yoyoThey go home duped, and impressed that someone spent so much time figuring out how to trick them.

Ladies and gentleman, there are magicians among us.   They omit and ignore scriptures, treating God’s word like a yo-yo, walk the dog, making it sleep, and go around the world while we watch in amazement and accept their deception as truth.

This blog is important because the hypocrisy of the people of God is the catalyst for many leaving the faith, or distancing themselves from it and staying away from the house of God.  It is amazing to watch people demand that our current president not be questioned and followed, while they spent the past 8 years challenging authority and encouraging people to rebel.  We can not stand on the scripture only when it benefits our position.  God can not be manipulated.   He knows the heart of us all, and is set against those that do evil.  Being obedient to two scriptures does not make you right with God.  If you break one law, you broke them all and are a law breaker.

It is sad to see people manipulate and massage the scripture to justify their political views and ungodly actions.  It’s sad to see the pursuit of wealth being paralleled with the pursuit of righteousness or a sign that God is pleased with ones actions.   Many people have chosen to do what is expedient as opposed to what it eternal, and this simply is not right.  This, friends, is what led to previous evil and wickedness.  It was further established by a quiet majority who remained silent while the country prospered from trade and goods.  Though not all accepted this truth, someone had to speak up and read for themselves.  Men and women of God who understood truth through God’s Word grew confidence and shared God’s Word and then took action to fight for what was right.

My heart goes out to those sitting in the audience of these magic shows.  I cry for them, as they are caught in a deep fog because they chose not study for themselves.  Much like a bull being led by a nose ring, is one who’s relationship with God and bullringnoseknowledge of God’s will for the world and their life, is found through a person and not by seeking God for oneself.

I had a good laugh today, as so many of my conservative friends struggle to rationalize, how everything was the former president’s fault, and nothing is the current president’s fault.  I laughed to tears as one of my friend called the prior president an embarrassment because he apologized for prior wrongs, and reached across the aisle to live at peace with our neighbors, and then found pride in one who speaks ill of our neighbors and threatens our neighbors.  I crack myself up as evil is now identified as a country arming to defend itself, and as we are led by one who responds to talk-shows and tweets, and we insist that we are the only nation being led by someone responsible enough to manage nuclear power!   I suppose those countries need to get America to Amend its constitution for the right to bare arms?

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Is this the Christian Church?  Or is this the American Church?  Is Christ our head or a president or a pastor?

Why are our pews and seats are empty?  The enemy is no longer identified as the Satan the adversary, but liberals, conservatives or other countries who are not democracies and who do not agree with American values (not christian values).  Our members value free enterprise more than freed souls, and for this, we find ourselves blinded by lights and financial dreams that are painted by 1% who distance themselves from us and with the sleight of hand, created an ever changing road map to join their ranks.  

In our foolishness, we have interpreted Christ as a business man more so than a humanitarian!  This is a sleight of hand!   This is Christianity Today.  We can only pray that with our foolishness, we can say there will be Christianity Tomorrow.
#PastorJDO3

Open Your Eyes!

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This morning A moment of panic set in, as I searched for a place to eat breakfast.   Why you ask?  There are so many places to eat!  But First Met has entered a fast!  No Bread! No Fried Foods! And no Beverage outside of Water!  Mentally, I was scrolling through menu after menu!  What can I eat?  Where can I go?

Panic set in!  I couldn’t think of a place to eat.  Then I saw a grocer.  Fruit! Quick!  Simple! Delicious! Cost efficient!  I walked in and discovered lot of choices in addition to my desire.  I entered the section and found heaven in a cup.  Parfait. 

It was then I found truth and a key to surviving the fast and to thriving in life.  Often we are so consumed with what we can’t have that we can’t think of what we can have.  

Are you so focused on what you can’t have that you can’t see what you can have? 

Do we fail because our minds become consumed with boundaries and rules?  Do we miss opportunities focused on the things because we are focused on things that are not within our grasps? 

Truth be told, this is why most fasts fail.  Our minds become laser focused on the no,’s and overlook the yeses. For a moment, a problem existed.  Not a real problem, but one created from my inability to see past what was restricted from intake, so much so that I was blind to the many options around me.

Once I took a moment, I was able to see not only a store, but 3 other options.  Not only that, but the real blindness was created by a fear for a lack of discipline.  Every place had something on the menu that I could eat, but I feared that I would not be disciplined or strong enough to be obedient if given the opportunity to break the fast.  The reality, there were many options by which I could dine, but not many in which I might be successful, that is being undisciplined in this area.

I made my purchase and was in my car within almost the same time frame it would have taken to drive through the drive through.  I broke the seal and mixed together the items and dug in.  While eating, I realized that we are so bound by what we don’t or can’t have that we miss out on things that can bring us joy.  

Are you so blinded by what you can’t have that you can’t appreciate what you do have? 

The Parfait was delicious!  I enjoyed the bitter texture of the yogurt, the sweetness of the strawberry and the crunching through the granola.  I enjoyed spoonful after spoonful. I could only thing that I would have missed this bliss consumed with what I had to miss.  When we place our mental energy on what we can’t have, we rob from ourselves the joy of what’s available to us.   

I screamed to myself!  Johnny, Open Your Eyes!  I say to you, Open Your Eyes!  See what God has provided. Open your mind to what’s available. Discipline yourself for the journey! 

The Believers Bite Galatians 5:15

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15 But if you bite and devour one another,
watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit,
and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Galatians 5:15-16

Tonight we enjoyed a fruitful discussion in God’s Word.  Drawing our thoughts for the lesson from the 5th Chapter of Galatians, we allowed the 15th and 16th verse to run the first leg of tonight’s’ teaching.  In our discussion about becoming better evangelist and witnesses for Christ, we find ourselves working on self that we might be more effective in efforts for Christ.

But first a pit-stop.  Paul addresses in this chapter an important part of Kingdom, its citizens.  He writes to handle issues that have arisen in the church, and with a stroke of the pen, corrects bad teaching and bad behavior. full burger

For today’s discussion, I presented to the group the illustration of a freshly prepared hamburger.  It exist whole, without a bite.  The burger, fully in tact consist of many layer, and holds in it a varying level of content.  In this, it is placed into our hands to handle as we choose.  Now of course, our flesh and stomach need and are designed to consume, but today we took our discussion to the Spiritual.

The first question asked was:  “How is a burger consumed?”

The answer of course is “One bite at a time!”  These bites can vary in size, ranging from small to large, they can come from any angle, can be taken in a short amount of time, or a long amount of time, but with each bite, that which was whole begin to disappear.  Paul wrote a warning to the Body of Christ, “if you bite” he warns, soon you will “consume…one another.”

The next question asked was: “Who have you taken a bite of?”

This is an important question.  As we hit the neighborhoods to bare witness bout Christ, we have found that many people have met Christ, but remain at home because they are suffering from the wounds of a bite!  They accepted the Gospel, but couldn’t get past the offenses committed by His church!  I know, they are immature! That’s what you are thinking!  They have a fake faith built on man, and your faith is built on God.  They don’t have enough Word in them?  Right?  Get over yourself I say!  Mature or Immature, healing from wounds takes time, and some bites are just fatal!  Infection set in, and death follows.  And yes, you would probably say that its their fault, right?  It’s their fault they are offended, right?  They should simply forgive and move on, right?

Paul warns us, bites take away from us and lead to consumption.  Someone are simply being eaten alive by those who are in the fold and not walking according to the flesh.  People have perished in our ministries, and some who survived, are holding on to life by a thread.  This brought out a sad reality; many of the people entering our churches are half eaten. halfeatenburger

That’s right.  Those entering your church from previous church homes are sometimes lead to new fields, and other times are escaping hurt and looking for healing and peace.

Why is it you ask that a person can leave after one offense?  Ahh, you said they were immature, but the reality is that many of them were suffering from prior bites, and are just trying to keep from being completely consumed.  And then we foolishly judge them for protecting themselves, and label them to protect our own ignorance.  Our bites are often made worse by those who are not remorseful.  Yep, its that important that we treat each other right, because each person is in a different state, and have different experiences, and your encounter with them can be the difference between them growing in Christ, and dwelling at home alone.

In this day of social media and technology, our encounters with people are weighed even heavier in that many people have grown accustomed to experiencing the world via a video and even a blog.  The human factor is being removed and replaced by imogies and virtual reality, thus limiting the room for error in our encounters with one another.

Paul says while some suffer from “bites” others are “devoured”.

Have you devoured anyone? 

emptyplateThis word frightened me!  The thought that there could be one within our ranks who doesn’t fall from time to time and bite someone, but that in one or two encounters, shows a complete lack of restraint and concern for another and eats them alive in one or two sittings!  How is it that we can destroy those God has sent, stitching the bond of peace afforded to all of us through the blood of Christ and the unity of the Spirit!  Our lack of restraint towards one another can cause those in our midst not to question God’s existence, but if God exist in the place they have become a part of.  Let it not be said of you that you chased away someone that the Spirit draw-ed neigh because of your unwillingness to pursue righteousness and kill the flesh.

How many people have you devoured?  Who’s at home licking their wounds?  Who’s exploring different horizons?  Who’s falling away from the faith because of you?  Sadly, only God knows.  The reality is that most multiple offenders are just being themselves and don’t realize or acknowledge that they are “biters” dare say I “consumers.”  Shame to say, this “consumer” mentality exists in the house, as we jockey for position and protect our territory, and fight for a light that is the glory of humans, which is the glory that fades.  We shine our light not to lead, but to blind people with judgement, and are eager to condemn others, while pardoning our wickedness and justifying our actions.

Paul says, don’t “gratify your flesh”!  Yep, there is nothing good within us, and every once in a while, the desire to bite happens.  The old man fights his way back in the picture and begins warring for control of your limbs.  He plants thoughts in your mind as to how you should respond, and how you should act, what you should say, and how it should be said, but Paul says resist!  “Walk by the Spirit” he says.  Control that which remains dormant in you by continually submitting to the God that is in you!   Just because you have the thought, doesn’t mean you have to follow its suggestion.  It’s just that, a suggestion.  Unwise counsel given from an unwise source, whom desires to wound as many as he can from fire within the camp.  The devil hinders the growth of the Kingdom through those of us who continue fulfilling the desires of the flesh, allowing the old man to once again lift his hands in victory.   Yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit and allow His guidance to keep you from biting and devouring your fellow brother and sister.  Kingdom depends on it!

 

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