Devotionals, Letters

Fight the Good fight of Faith

When we don’t question our beliefs, when we just accept what others have told us (whether from a pulpit, from a seminary, or from a publication), there are repercussions well beyond our own belief structures.

Some of the things that we’ve unquestioningly believed for a few generations have functioned as incredible obstacles for people who don’t know God’s nature; some of these people take our un-questioned beliefs literally, point out the very logical failures of those beliefs, and cause formidable damage to our Father’s reputation on the Earth.

One of those beliefs is the version of hell that was primarily outlined by an unbalanced Catholic politician, pharmacist and monk in the 14th century. His imagination was brilliant, but not particularly either Biblical or true. These details which did not trouble him, but his writings have been (probably unintentionally) adopted by the “turn or burn” evangelists as the default definition of “burn.”

Their depictions of Heaven were similarly unbiblical, and similarly designed to maximize the number of people running to the altar at the end of the service.


The result of such haphazard doctrinal foolishness included a large number of “converts” eager to escape this horrendous and unbiblical threat, often described as “buying fire insurance,” which, of course, was never God’s goal. 

My hope is that we will ask questions about what we’re being taught, to test the doctrines that teachers are telling us are “The Truth.”

·         I’ve observed that the more  any particular doctrine  is mirrored in the “distinctive” practices or beliefs of a denomination or a fellowship, the more those particular doctrines need to be challenged. This is true in both traditional denominations and more fundamental or Pentecostal fellowships and denominations.

·         One of the best ways to test our belief sets – in addition to questioning their conformity to Scripture’s simple contextual instruction on the topic – is to examine the fruit of the doctrine. And examine the fruit of that doctrine among believers and among non-believers: does this doctrine increase people’s love for God and love for each other, or does it regularly result in resentment, legalism, judgment, generally keeping people from embracing God’s love for them.


This is part of Paul’s admonitions to his apostolic leaders: “Pay no attention to … myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth.” “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.” 

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Devotionals, Letters

Fight the Good fight of Faith

When we don’t question our beliefs, when we just accept what others have told us (whether from a pulpit, from a seminary, or from a publication), there are repercussions well beyond our own belief structures.

Some of the things that we’ve unquestioningly believed for a few generations have functioned as incredible obstacles for people who don’t know God’s nature; some of these people take our un-questioned beliefs literally, point out the very logical failures of those beliefs, and cause formidable damage to our Father’s reputation on the Earth.

One of those beliefs is the version of hell that was primarily outlined by an unbalanced Catholic politician, pharmacist and monk in the 14th century. His imagination was brilliant, but not particularly either Biblical or true. These details which did not trouble him, but his writings have been (probably unintentionally) adopted by the “turn or burn” evangelists as the default definition of “burn.”

Their depictions of Heaven were similarly unbiblical, and similarly designed to maximize the number of people running to the altar at the end of the service.


The result of such haphazard doctrinal foolishness included a large number of “converts” eager to escape this horrendous and unbiblical threat, often described as “buying fire insurance,” which, of course, was never God’s goal. 

My hope is that we will ask questions about what we’re being taught, to test the doctrines that teachers are telling us are “The Truth.”

·         I’ve observed that the more  any particular doctrine  is mirrored in the “distinctive” practices or beliefs of a denomination or a fellowship, the more those particular doctrines need to be challenged. This is true in both traditional denominations and more fundamental or Pentecostal fellowships and denominations.

·         One of the best ways to test our belief sets – in addition to questioning their conformity to Scripture’s simple contextual instruction on the topic – is to examine the fruit of the doctrine. And examine the fruit of that doctrine among believers and among non-believers: does this doctrine increase people’s love for God and love for each other, or does it regularly result in resentment, legalism, judgment, generally keeping people from embracing God’s love for them.


This is part of Paul’s admonitions to his apostolic leaders: “Pay no attention to … myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth.” “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.” 

--

The best part of the conversation will be on Facebook. Come join in.
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Prophecy

It’s Christmas Eve

It’s Christmas Eve. My home is filled with laughing children. My son is making something wonderful in the kitchen. My wife has forbidden any entry into the bedroom until the last few presents are wrapped. A video game is blaring in the living room, and power tools are finishing up a last-minute gift in the shop.
My home is a very busy place. And honestly, I love it.
But as much as this night is about family, it’s even more about a Birth. I stepped outside to visit with Father about it, to remember that Birth with Him.
Immediately, I had an image of Him, as eager as a grandchild would be, clapping happily, dancing from foot to foot: this is His Happy Dance!
For me, the laboring woman and her not-quite-husband are separated from me by twenty centuries. But as God is Lord of Time (among many other things), He is right this minute, dancing with joyful anticipation over this impending Birth.
God, being omniscient, knew of the failure of man in the Garden before He even spoke the words, “Let Us create man, in Our image…” Before he ever even scooped up mud and shaped it and prepared it to hold His Own breath, he knew that man would fail the test, would eat of the wrong tree, would submit to the wrong voice, and would be doomed to death.
But God, being the best in the universe at planning ahead, already knew that He, Himself, in the flesh and blood of humanity, would die a gruesome death in a backwater, occupied nation in the geographical armpit of that planet in order to establish a New Covenant with them. How he looked forward to that!
And He knew that before God could die for man, God would have to become a man. And this! He looked forward to this with such joy!
And tonight is the night!
The most patient Father that has ever existed has been eagerly, joyfully anticipating this night! This is the beginning of the Covenant that He’s longed for since the Garden: when he would have a nation of Kings and Priests who would know his Father’s heart and love Him as freely as He loves them!
The cross? That torture, that pain, that indescribable humiliation? That was nothing! Nothing! Less than nothing! He would pay ANY price for the privilege of whispering of his love to his wayward children. If there could have been a greater price that could ever have been paid, He would have paid it without hesitation for the children that He treasured above even His own eternal, omnipotent life!
And tonight is the night that it all began.
Tonight! As Mary is breathing hard and sweating heavily, as Joseph is wringing his hands and feeling nearly (but not quite) useless in the face of The Birth, God Himself is dancing with joy! Angels are ministering to the new mother and anxious dad, but God is laughing and jumping and shouting his joy to the heavens!
Tonight it begins. Tomorrow He gets to walk – well, to crawl first – among his wayward children! The beginning of the Via Dolorosa begins in this little, sweaty barn, on the unknown edge of a tiny, powerless nation. This is the beginning of walking among them, and even more, this is the beginning of setting them free from everything that holds them back!
This is the night! This is THAT night.

Do you feel his joy? Can you feel his anticipation? 

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Devotionals, Letters

It’s Christmas Eve


It’s Christmas Eve. My home is filled with laughing children. My son is making something wonderful in the kitchen. My wife has forbidden any entry into the bedroom until the last few presents are wrapped. A video game is blaring in the living room, and power tools are finishing up a last-minute gift in the shop.

My home is a very busy place. And honestly, I love it.

But as much as this night is about family, it’s even more about a Birth. I stepped outside to visit with Father about it, to remember that Birth with Him.

Immediately, I had an image of Him, as eager as a grandchild would be, clapping happily, dancing from foot to foot: this is His Happy Dance!

For me, the laboring woman and her not-quite-husband are separated from me by twenty centuries. But as God is Lord of Time (among many other things), He is right this minute, dancing with joyful anticipation over this impending Birth.

God, being omniscient, knew of the failure of man in the Garden before He even spoke the words, “Let Us create man, in Our image…” Before he ever even scooped up mud and shaped it and prepared it to hold His Own breath, he knew that man would fail the test, would eat of the wrong tree, would submit to the wrong voice, and would be doomed to death.

But God, being the best in the universe at planning ahead, already knew that He, Himself, in the flesh and blood of humanity, would die a gruesome death in a backwater, occupied nation in the geographical armpit of that planet in order to establish a New Covenant with them. How he looked forward to that!

And He knew that before God could die for man, God would have to become a man. And this! He looked forward to this with such joy!
And tonight is the night!

The most patient Father that has ever existed has been eagerly, joyfully anticipating this night! This is the beginning of the Covenant that He’s longed for since the Garden: when he would have a nation of Kings and Priests who would know his Father’s heart and love Him as freely as He loves them!

The cross? That torture, that pain, that indescribable humiliation? That was nothing! Nothing! Less than nothing! He would pay ANY price for the privilege of whispering of his love to his wayward children. If there could have been a greater price that could ever have been paid, He would have paid it without hesitation for the children that He treasured above even His own eternal, omnipotent life!

And tonight is the night that it all began.

Tonight! As Mary is breathing hard and sweating heavily, as Joseph is wringing his hands and feeling nearly (but not quite) useless in the face of The Birth, God Himself is dancing with joy! Angels are ministering to the new mother and anxious dad, but God is laughing and jumping and shouting his joy to the heavens!

Tonight it begins. Tomorrow He gets to walk – well, to crawl first – among his wayward children! The beginning of the Via Dolorosa begins in this little, sweaty barn, on the unknown edge of a tiny, powerless nation. This is the beginning of walking among them, and even more, this is the beginning of setting them free from everything that holds them back!

This is the night! This is THAT night.

Do you feel his joy? Can you feel his anticipation? 


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Devotionals, Letters

It’s Christmas Eve


It’s Christmas Eve. My home is filled with laughing children. My son is making something wonderful in the kitchen. My wife has forbidden any entry into the bedroom until the last few presents are wrapped. A video game is blaring in the living room, and power tools are finishing up a last-minute gift in the shop.

My home is a very busy place. And honestly, I love it.

But as much as this night is about family, it’s even more about a Birth. I stepped outside to visit with Father about it, to remember that Birth with Him.

Immediately, I had an image of Him, as eager as a grandchild would be, clapping happily, dancing from foot to foot: this is His Happy Dance!

For me, the laboring woman and her not-quite-husband are separated from me by twenty centuries. But as God is Lord of Time (among many other things), He is right this minute, dancing with joyful anticipation over this impending Birth.

God, being omniscient, knew of the failure of man in the Garden before He even spoke the words, “Let Us create man, in Our image…” Before he ever even scooped up mud and shaped it and prepared it to hold His Own breath, he knew that man would fail the test, would eat of the wrong tree, would submit to the wrong voice, and would be doomed to death.

But God, being the best in the universe at planning ahead, already knew that He, Himself, in the flesh and blood of humanity, would die a gruesome death in a backwater, occupied nation in the geographical armpit of that planet in order to establish a New Covenant with them. How he looked forward to that!

And He knew that before God could die for man, God would have to become a man. And this! He looked forward to this with such joy!
And tonight is the night!

The most patient Father that has ever existed has been eagerly, joyfully anticipating this night! This is the beginning of the Covenant that He’s longed for since the Garden: when he would have a nation of Kings and Priests who would know his Father’s heart and love Him as freely as He loves them!

The cross? That torture, that pain, that indescribable humiliation? That was nothing! Nothing! Less than nothing! He would pay ANY price for the privilege of whispering of his love to his wayward children. If there could have been a greater price that could ever have been paid, He would have paid it without hesitation for the children that He treasured above even His own eternal, omnipotent life!

And tonight is the night that it all began.

Tonight! As Mary is breathing hard and sweating heavily, as Joseph is wringing his hands and feeling nearly (but not quite) useless in the face of The Birth, God Himself is dancing with joy! Angels are ministering to the new mother and anxious dad, but God is laughing and jumping and shouting his joy to the heavens!

Tonight it begins. Tomorrow He gets to walk – well, to crawl first – among his wayward children! The beginning of the Via Dolorosa begins in this little, sweaty barn, on the unknown edge of a tiny, powerless nation. This is the beginning of walking among them, and even more, this is the beginning of setting them free from everything that holds them back!

This is the night! This is THAT night.

Do you feel his joy? Can you feel his anticipation? 


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Prophecy

Judgement Day: Life in Review

This video is a reminder to me of a day that’s coming. I call it Big Screen Day. Some call it Judgement Day, but that doesn’t fit so well for me. 
I don’t actually know if my what I envision is theologically sound. I developed this expectation during a season when I was being taught a lot of foolishness, but this part remains with me.
I expect that there will be a day that I will stand before my Maker, who is also my dearest Friend, and together, we’ll examine my life, my years on Earth, from His perspective. I imagine my life being displayed on the big screen in His family room. It will be an edited version, of course. There are things that I remember, which He has already thrown into the Sea of Forgetfulness. They won’t be shown that day, or any other day: they’re gone. I won’t miss them.
In that viewing, I’ll finally learn of the effects of my life on others around me, and the effect of my life, through them, on the people they influence, people that I’ve never met.
I’ve invested part of my life serving some pastors and some churches. On Big Screen Day, I’ll meet the people that I helped them disciple into the Kingdom. I’ve spent part of my life investing in a generation of believers who are following where I’ve gone. On Big Screen Day, I’ll see the fruit of that investment, and I’ll learn where my investment has gone.
I can’t imagine what that day will be like. I expect there will be tears, of one sort of another.
This man, Sir Nicholas Winton, has a a small part of his Big Screen Day early. He gets to meet some of the fruit of his investment in this life. During the War, he invested a good deal of his life rescuing children from the Nazi death camps. Here, he gets to meet them, some of them. 
I can’t imagine what that must be like. I expect there were tears.
I try to make decisions in my life with Big Screen Day in mind. I try to live with Eternity in mind. I try to make choices that will make my Friend smile as we review my life. I try to choose things that won’t need to be edited out.
And once in a great while, I’ll turn to face where I imagine the Heavenly camera might be, and I’ll say some things to the audience watching that Big Screen, whether it’s just Him and me or whether it’s uncounted millions.
Have you given thought to that Day, the Day when you and your Maker will review your life? I’ll bet it will change how you live in this day. And if he’s your friend, I’ll bet you’ll love those changes.

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Devotionals, Letters

Judgement Day: Life in Review

This video is a reminder to me of a day that’s coming. I call it Big Screen Day. Some call it Judgement Day, but that doesn't fit so well for me. 

I don’t actually know if my what I envision is theologically sound. I developed this expectation during a season when I was being taught a lot of foolishness, but this part remains with me.

I expect that there will be a day that I will stand before my Maker, who is also my dearest Friend, and together, we’ll examine my life, my years on Earth, from His perspective. I imagine my life being displayed on the big screen in His family room. It will be an edited version, of course. There are things that I remember, which He has already thrown into the Sea of Forgetfulness. They won’t be shown that day, or any other day: they’re gone. I won't miss them.

In that viewing, I’ll finally learn of the effects of my life on others around me, and the effect of my life, through them, on the people they influence, people that I’ve never met.

I’ve invested part of my life serving some pastors and some churches. On Big Screen Day, I’ll meet the people that I helped them disciple into the Kingdom. I’ve spent part of my life investing in a generation of believers who are following where I’ve gone. On Big Screen Day, I’ll see the fruit of that investment, and I’ll learn where my investment has gone.

I can’t imagine what that day will be like. I expect there will be tears, of one sort of another.

This man, Sir Nicholas Winton, has a a small part of his Big Screen Day early. He gets to meet some of the fruit of his investment in this life. During the War, he invested a good deal of his life rescuing children from the Nazi death camps. Here, he gets to meet them, some of them. 

I can’t imagine what that must be like. I expect there were tears.



I try to make decisions in my life with Big Screen Day in mind. I try to live with Eternity in mind. I try to make choices that will make my Friend smile as we review my life. I try to choose things that won’t need to be edited out.

And once in a great while, I’ll turn to face where I imagine the Heavenly camera might be, and I’ll say some things to the audience watching that Big Screen, whether it’s just Him and me or whether it’s uncounted millions.

Have you given thought to that Day, the Day when you and your Maker will review your life? I’ll bet it will change how you live in this day. And if he’s your friend, I’ll bet you’ll love those changes.



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Devotionals, Letters

Judgement Day: Life in Review

This video is a reminder to me of a day that’s coming. I call it Big Screen Day. Some call it Judgement Day, but that doesn't fit so well for me. 

I don’t actually know if my what I envision is theologically sound. I developed this expectation during a season when I was being taught a lot of foolishness, but this part remains with me.

I expect that there will be a day that I will stand before my Maker, who is also my dearest Friend, and together, we’ll examine my life, my years on Earth, from His perspective. I imagine my life being displayed on the big screen in His family room. It will be an edited version, of course. There are things that I remember, which He has already thrown into the Sea of Forgetfulness. They won’t be shown that day, or any other day: they’re gone. I won't miss them.

In that viewing, I’ll finally learn of the effects of my life on others around me, and the effect of my life, through them, on the people they influence, people that I’ve never met.

I’ve invested part of my life serving some pastors and some churches. On Big Screen Day, I’ll meet the people that I helped them disciple into the Kingdom. I’ve spent part of my life investing in a generation of believers who are following where I’ve gone. On Big Screen Day, I’ll see the fruit of that investment, and I’ll learn where my investment has gone.

I can’t imagine what that day will be like. I expect there will be tears, of one sort of another.

This man, Sir Nicholas Winton, has a a small part of his Big Screen Day early. He gets to meet some of the fruit of his investment in this life. During the War, he invested a good deal of his life rescuing children from the Nazi death camps. Here, he gets to meet them, some of them. 

I can’t imagine what that must be like. I expect there were tears.



I try to make decisions in my life with Big Screen Day in mind. I try to live with Eternity in mind. I try to make choices that will make my Friend smile as we review my life. I try to choose things that won’t need to be edited out.

And once in a great while, I’ll turn to face where I imagine the Heavenly camera might be, and I’ll say some things to the audience watching that Big Screen, whether it’s just Him and me or whether it’s uncounted millions.

Have you given thought to that Day, the Day when you and your Maker will review your life? I’ll bet it will change how you live in this day. And if he’s your friend, I’ll bet you’ll love those changes.



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Devotionals, Letters

Our Turn

I don’t remember if I’ve told you this story. 

Revelation 5 describes the scene:

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!" The four living creatures said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped. - Revelation 5:11-14 

I was part of a worship team in a tiny church, and we were together on I think it was a Thursday night, rehearsing for Sunday. We’d all been through “stuff” that week, so we prayed together before we discussed our plans. And then we started singing. 

Understand that for us, we weren’t just rehearsing the music, we were rehearsing our worship of God. We cannot lead people in worship, we believe, unless we ourselves are truly worshiping; otherwise, it’s just cheer-leading. So we were worshiping.

I don’t remember who was leading the song (we passed that responsibility around), but I was standing facing the rest of the band, with my back to where the congregation would be next Sunday. And I remember feeling like we were turning a corner. We’d played this song a thousand times before, and many of those times had been really good, we’d really entered into real worship, but this was different. I glanced at some of the faces around me: some felt what I was feeling; others were lost in it.

I had the sense of movement behind my back, so I turned around, and as I did, in my spirit I saw a curtain being opened, and an enormous audience worshiping the same One we were worshiping. It seemed that this was the worship scene from Revelation 5, lost in adoration of the Worthy Lamb, and this was our turn to lead the worship in that gathering. 

To this day, I still can see the throngs of people worshiping Him who sat on that throne, though I only saw them for an instant, because then my eye was drawn to Him and I was truly undone. 

The experience in that place didn’t last long, but it was timeless. It happened some years ago, but I remember it as if it was five minutes ago, and my eyes still tear up as I do,

Let me just say it this way: from that day forward, we were changed.


Something in my spirit taught me that day: worship that comes from Earth is more precious than worship that comes from Heaven, because on Earth we have more to overcome, more distractions to push past before we can fix our eyes on the One. Worship on Earth is described as a sacrifice (Romans 12:1), and the sacrifice to worship here on Earth, in the midst of all that life is a more costly, a more precious sacrifice than to worship in Heaven, among the angels and the elders and the living creatures.

May I encourage us: when we worship, let’s fully worship, let’s not hold back. Sure, we’ll worship in Heaven, and it’ll be glorious. But it may not be quite as glorious as the worship that comes from Earth. 


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Devotionals, Letters

Our Turn

I don’t remember if I’ve told you this story. 

Revelation 5 describes the scene:

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!" The four living creatures said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped. - Revelation 5:11-14 

I was part of a worship team in a tiny church, and we were together on I think it was a Thursday night, rehearsing for Sunday. We’d all been through “stuff” that week, so we prayed together before we discussed our plans. And then we started singing. 

Understand that for us, we weren’t just rehearsing the music, we were rehearsing our worship of God. We cannot lead people in worship, we believe, unless we ourselves are truly worshiping; otherwise, it’s just cheer-leading. So we were worshiping.

I don’t remember who was leading the song (we passed that responsibility around), but I was standing facing the rest of the band, with my back to where the congregation would be next Sunday. And I remember feeling like we were turning a corner. We’d played this song a thousand times before, and many of those times had been really good, we’d really entered into real worship, but this was different. I glanced at some of the faces around me: some felt what I was feeling; others were lost in it.

I had the sense of movement behind my back, so I turned around, and as I did, in my spirit I saw a curtain being opened, and an enormous audience worshiping the same One we were worshiping. It seemed that this was the worship scene from Revelation 5, lost in adoration of the Worthy Lamb, and this was our turn to lead the worship in that gathering. 

To this day, I still can see the throngs of people worshiping Him who sat on that throne, though I only saw them for an instant, because then my eye was drawn to Him and I was truly undone. 

The experience in that place didn’t last long, but it was timeless. It happened some years ago, but I remember it as if it was five minutes ago, and my eyes still tear up as I do,

Let me just say it this way: from that day forward, we were changed.


Something in my spirit taught me that day: worship that comes from Earth is more precious than worship that comes from Heaven, because on Earth we have more to overcome, more distractions to push past before we can fix our eyes on the One. Worship on Earth is described as a sacrifice (Romans 12:1), and the sacrifice to worship here on Earth, in the midst of all that life is a more costly, a more precious sacrifice than to worship in Heaven, among the angels and the elders and the living creatures.

May I encourage us: when we worship, let’s fully worship, let’s not hold back. Sure, we’ll worship in Heaven, and it’ll be glorious. But it may not be quite as glorious as the worship that comes from Earth. 


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Prophecy

Father & Sons Development Co.

I don’t know if I’ve ever told you that I’m adopted. I was adopted by my Father at a very young age. I love my Father. He’s the best Dad in the world.

Did I tell you I’m working in the family business? The day I was adopted, I started working with my Dad. My Dad’s awesome like that.

When I was really little, he’d carry me in his arms as he walked through the factory floor. He’d stop and visit with machinists and foremen and janitors, pretty much everybody

Once when I was a bit older, I was building stuff with Legos™ in his office, while he worked on something. His desk overlooked the factory floor, and he saw something that caught his attention.

“Son,” he says. “You know Mr. Davidson? Tall guy. Red shirt. Big mustache?”

“I know him, Pop.”

“Son, would you go find Mr. Davidson and ask him to come up to see me? I’ve got something I want him to see.” And I toddled down the stairs to find Mr. Davidson. Soon he and Dad were talking seriously about something on Dad’s desk, and I added a new wheel to the thing I was building.

There was a time after I’d discovered books! Books are wonderful things! I was sitting in a chair in Dad’s office, sounding out a word, when he interrupted me. “Son, Miz Thompson works on the far side of the factory. Would you find her and give her this note?” He handed me the note, and I ran off to find Sally Thompson. She had a wonderful smile, and she used it on me sometimes.

I never did go to normal school. I would say that Dad homeschooled me, except it mostly happened in his office. Is there such a thing as officeschool? We had the best times together in his factory office.

He’d given me an arithmetic assignment that made me think pretty hard. If Mr. Jacobi needs to build this many boxes by the end of the month, how many does he need to build every day? Eventually I puzzled it out right (Dad showed me where I’d forgotten to carry the one, the first time), and he smiled this great big smile! “Son, would you please take this down to Marty Jacobi – he should be in the lunchroom right now – and show him how well you did this.” He wrote his initials on my math paper.

I found Marty. He gave me a cookie while he looked at my work. I munched, and then he smiled, and said, “You’ve got a real smart Dad, you know!” He was right, of course, but I already knew that!

One day he was reading letters. He had a lot of letters, and he read ’em all. One of them made him smile extra big, and he called me to himself. “Son, would you please go tell Bob Davidson that he’s got a new worker coming in the morning. He’ll want to put Cindy on the Quality Control team right away.” I delivered the message. Bob winked at me and nodded. “Sure thing!” he said.

One Thursday morning, Dad pushed my math books out of the way again, and set down his computer in their place. “Son, do you see this? What do you think that means?” and he pointed to a detail on the screen. This was a math test test, I felt sure. I was ready.

“That looks like trouble, Dad. Not big trouble, but trouble. Especially for the QC department. Um… Is that right?”

“That’s right, Son,” and he printed that page. “Would you explain this to Cindy in QC? And maybe talk with her about what to do with it, and bring me your favorite few suggestions.” Later, he picked one of our ideas, and implemented it. That was cool.

So I wasn’t altogether surprised when he set his computer on my desk some time later. He didn’t point to anything, but asked me, “What do you see here, Son?” I studied it a bit, and talked with him about the three or four things I saw. “What about this one?” “Hmm. I saw that, but didn’t think it was all that important,” I answered. “It’s all important, Son. Especially when this is trending,” and he pointed to the first detail I’d seen. “What happens when these happen on the same day?” I hadn’t thought of that! We talked about it and how to help the folks in the factory when that happened. I learn so much from my Dad.

And a few months later, those two things did happen on the same day. “Well, it happened, Dad.” “Yep, it surely did. Well, you know what to do.” I picked up my notes from our planning, headed down the stairs, and called the supervisors together. I explained the problem, and listened to their concerns. One of the guys had already figured it out, so I let him describe the adjustments we needed, filling in details when he needed help. We had the solution in place before the problem was big enough to slow production down.

Eventually we got to the point where I was really running the factory. Dad spent most of his time talking to individuals, or scheduling contractors for the expansion, and he spent a lot of time training some of the other kids, too. If I ran into a problem, he was always right there to help, and there wasn’t anything that he couldn’t figure out.

Figuring things out comes easy when you’re omniscient like my Dad is.

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Devotionals, Letters

Father & Sons Development Co.

I don’t know if I’ve ever told you that I’m adopted. I was adopted by my Father at a very young age. I love my Father. He’s the best Dad in the world.

Did I tell you I’m working in the family business? The day I was adopted, I started working with my Dad. My Dad’s awesome like that.

When I was really little, he’d carry me in his arms as he walked through the factory floor. He’d stop and visit with machinists and foremen and janitors, pretty much everybody

Once when I was a bit older, I was building stuff with Legos™ in his office, while he worked on something. His desk overlooked the factory floor, and he saw something that caught his attention.

“Son,” he says. “You know Mr. Davidson? Tall guy. Red shirt. Big mustache?”

“I know him, Pop.”

“Son, would you go find Mr. Davidson and ask him to come up to see me? I’ve got something I want him to see.” And I toddled down the stairs to find Mr. Davidson. Soon he and Dad were talking seriously about something on Dad’s desk, and I added a new wheel to the thing I was building.

There was a time after I’d discovered books! Books are wonderful things! I was sitting in a chair in Dad’s office, sounding out a word, when he interrupted me. “Son, Miz Thompson works on the far side of the factory. Would you find her and give her this note?” He handed me the note, and I ran off to find Sally Thompson. She had a wonderful smile, and she used it on me sometimes.

I never did go to normal school. I would say that Dad homeschooled me, except it mostly happened in his office. Is there such a thing as officeschool? We had the best times together in his factory office.

He’d given me an arithmetic assignment that made me think pretty hard. If Mr. Jacobi needs to build this many boxes by the end of the month, how many does he need to build every day? Eventually I puzzled it out right (Dad showed me where I’d forgotten to carry the one, the first time), and he smiled this great big smile! “Son, would you please take this down to Marty Jacobi – he should be in the lunchroom right now – and show him how well you did this.” He wrote his initials on my math paper.

I found Marty. He gave me a cookie while he looked at my work. I munched, and then he smiled, and said, “You’ve got a real smart Dad, you know!” He was right, of course, but I already knew that!

One day he was reading letters. He had a lot of letters, and he read ’em all. One of them made him smile extra big, and he called me to himself. “Son, would you please go tell Bob Davidson that he’s got a new worker coming in the morning. He’ll want to put Cindy on the Quality Control team right away.” I delivered the message. Bob winked at me and nodded. “Sure thing!” he said.

One Thursday morning, Dad pushed my math books out of the way again, and set down his computer in their place. “Son, do you see this? What do you think that means?” and he pointed to a detail on the screen. This was a math test test, I felt sure. I was ready.

“That looks like trouble, Dad. Not big trouble, but trouble. Especially for the QC department. Um… Is that right?”

“That’s right, Son,” and he printed that page. “Would you explain this to Cindy in QC? And maybe talk with her about what to do with it, and bring me your favorite few suggestions.” Later, he picked one of our ideas, and implemented it. That was cool.

So I wasn’t altogether surprised when he set his computer on my desk some time later. He didn’t point to anything, but asked me, “What do you see here, Son?” I studied it a bit, and talked with him about the three or four things I saw. “What about this one?” “Hmm. I saw that, but didn’t think it was all that important,” I answered. “It’s all important, Son. Especially when this is trending,” and he pointed to the first detail I’d seen. “What happens when these happen on the same day?” I hadn’t thought of that! We talked about it and how to help the folks in the factory when that happened. I learn so much from my Dad.

And a few months later, those two things did happen on the same day. “Well, it happened, Dad.” “Yep, it surely did. Well, you know what to do.” I picked up my notes from our planning, headed down the stairs, and called the supervisors together. I explained the problem, and listened to their concerns. One of the guys had already figured it out, so I let him describe the adjustments we needed, filling in details when he needed help. We had the solution in place before the problem was big enough to slow production down.

Eventually we got to the point where I was really running the factory. Dad spent most of his time talking to individuals, or scheduling contractors for the expansion, and he spent a lot of time training some of the other kids, too. If I ran into a problem, he was always right there to help, and there wasn’t anything that he couldn’t figure out.

Figuring things out comes easy when you’re omniscient like my Dad is.

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Prophecy

The OTHER Benefit of the New Covenant

Our history with God is a history of covenants. Covenants between God and mankind. This is how the mighty Creator King and the human species relate: through a covenant.
We do it too. We’re up-front about it with marriage covenants, and more subtle about other covenants. There is a powerful – unwritten – parenting covenant: violate that one and society takes your children away from you.
Now hold still, I’m going to talk directly about covenant for a minute. Necessarily, I will engage in willful oversimplification of some details in order to illustrate my point: the actual situation is much more complicated than this simple explanation.
A covenant is a “promise to engage in or refrain from a specified action.” Covenants are how people agree to relate to each other. Covenant is how God relates to humanity.
Noah had a covenant. Abraham had a covenant. David had a covenant. But the Big One was the Mosaic Covenant, often called The Old Covenant.
The Old Covenant was kind of a failure in before it ever got going, of course. God proposed a covenant to the people of Israel that had a lot of the elements of our New Covenant in it. Before there even were the Ten Commandments, God offered Israela covenant where every single person is a priest, every single person can come to God for himself or herself:
“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. ‘And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” (Exodus 19:6-7)
“Kingdom of priests and a holy nation”? Twice in the book of Revelation, we’re described as “kings and priests unto our God” (1:6 & 5:10). God was offering that relationship to the Israelites four thousand years ago? (Can you imagine what the world would be like if we hadn’t had the last four thousand years of legalistic bondage? But I digress.)
But the people who were offered this intimate “everybody is a priest” relationship with God reject that offer in the very next chapter.
“Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” (Exodus 20:19)
The people had rejected a “kingdom of priests” covenant, and propose a covenant that requires a priesthood, and is based on obedience. Neither the Levitical priesthood, nor an obey-the-rules covenant, was God’s idea!
And so the “everybody is a priest” covenant was put aside, and was replaced with a covenant based on the people’s obedience. Any covenant that’s based on obeying will necessarily have consequences for disobedience. Thus this is a covenant about blessings for obedience, and punishment (sometimes called “curses”) for disobeying.
Deuteronomy 28 functions as kind of a summary: You’ll be blessed when you obey, and you’ll be cursed (or punished) if you disobey. Verses 1 through 14 outline the blessings. The rest of the chapter talks about the punishment for disobeying, and it’s God that is charged with that punishment.
Frankly, that was a lousy covenant, it’s a poor substitute for God’s first proposal, but it’s a covenant! Even that poor replacement was better than no relationship at all between God and man!
We remember that the terms and conditions of the Old Covenant (which we call “The Law”) were intended to constrain the behavior of the humans in this covenant relationship. But we tend to forget that the Old Covenant constrained the behavior of BOTH parties of the Covenant: God had chosen to bind himself to the Old Covenant as well.’
So when we read in Deuteronomy 28 about “If you disobey, you’ll be punished.” Guess who the punisher has to be. Yeah, that’s God. He has bound himself to this busted-up covenant, because it’s better than no covenant – no relationship – whatsoever. Moreover, this was the only covenant that the people would agree to, so this was the covenant that he bound himself to.
And this covenant, proposed by fearful men, required that God punish (or “curse”) the people that he loves so very much, every time they disobey. (Seriously, go read Deuteronomy 29!)
Now let’s remember that there was a third party loose on the Earth, who was not a party to the covenant between God and man. Lucifer had already demonstrated his eagerness to accuse God at every opportunity (see Genesis 3:4-5). And he’s up to his old tricks here as well.
So every time the people disobeyed (and that happened so very often!) and God was required by the people’s busted-up covenant to punish them, Lucifer steps up to the microphone and declares, “Look how mean God is! Look how bloodthirsty he is! Look how angry God is!” completely ignoring the fact that God is merely complying with the conditions of the covenant that mankind offered him.
That’s a hot mess. I’ve oversimplified the story in this short article, but it’s easy to see the mess that the Old Covenant is: seriously, the only one who benefited from that debacle was Lucifer, and that’s not actually what we’re aiming for.
Now skip forward until Jesus is sitting in the Upper Room, where Jesus is offering – for the second time – a covenant of an “everybody is a priest” relationship between man and God: “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20, 2 Corinthians 11:25.) But this time, the representatives (the twelve) accept the offer.
I still marvel at that cup, that biscuit. With that token meal, God removes us from the Old Covenant and makes us participants instead in the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:13 makes it clear: “In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete.”). And this is a covenant whose sole commandment (John 13:34) is to love each other.
What an amazing relief that is: in a single moment, these guys are plucked from a covenant of “If you obey, I’ll bless you; if you disobey, I’ll punish you!” and dropped into a Covenant of Love.
The seminal New Covenant verse, John 3:16, says it beautifully: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” And if that wasn’t clear enough, verse 17 clarifies that the New Covenant is not about punishment: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” What a relief that is!
All that is amazing, spectacular, and otherwise completely awesome.
But it is also only half of the story. The Old Covenant is made obsolete, and we are released from its bondage, but we were not the only ones held in bondage by it.
With the passing of the Old Covenant, God Himself is no longer constrained by the Law to provide blessings when people obey, like treats for a dog that sits when you tell him. More importantly, God is no longer constrained by the Law to bring punishment, curses, judgment on the people that he so desperately loves.
When the Old Covenant was replaced by the New Covenant, humanity could give a great, corporate sigh of relief. We’re no longer under the law, but now we’re under grace, under love.

But the greater relief may not be ours. In the New Covenant, God is now free to love us with all that is in his heart, as he has longed to do since the day he said, “Let us make man in our own image.” (Genesis 1:26). God is now free from the Old Covenant, and he’s more excited about it than we are. 
We are free. But more important, God Himself is free! 
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Devotionals, Letters

When God Moves From Singular to Plural

I’ve been meditating on the nouns of Genesis One. All of them are about God, of course, and for most of the creation process, all of them are singular: God said this. God did that. God said that it was good. Rinse and repeat.

Everything He makes has a counterpart. Day has night. Sun has the moon. Ocean has land. Every creature is part of its own species, according to its kind.

And then it changed. On the afternoon of the sixth day, suddenly God changes how He’s doing his creating, and when God changes something, I want to pay attention. I want to learn.

Suddenly, God moves from singular to plural, and He changes so completely that He did the plural thing twice in the same day!

The first plural is about him: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness….’” Now, for the first time, God does something as an “Us!”

Up until this point, it’s just been “creation as usual.” Make a planet. Check. Make some oceans. Check. Make some plants and animals. Check, check.

But suddenly, it’s like God steps up, He gathers His Trinity about him, and now He is fully present: “Let Us do this. Let Us make something to be the counterpart of Us!” This will be His masterpiece.

And God, in His fullness, created his masterpiece, and that masterpiece is another Plural Thing, and it was us! You and me! The first words with which God describes humanity are plural! “These are the one ones made in Our image. Let them have dominion ….”

God did all the rest of creation as a “He,” but when it came time to make humanity, He says, “Let Us do this.” And the product of that creativity is not a thing, and it’s not a species, it’s a race of individuals. It’s a community of humanity to whom He gives authority.

He made us so uniquely that the angels watched us curiously. What a thing He has done. A race, a community. Made in His image. Carrying His authority. Us.

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