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.

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.
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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).

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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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