Letters

Kindness Leads to Repentance

In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus is describing some of the ways that his family is to be different than how the world does things. In the middle of that lecture, he drops this bomb: “Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

There’s one command in this, and one reason for the command. Don’t be like those people because unlike their father, your Father knows what you need, even before you tell him.

I’d like to share a testimony, if I may.

I was helping someone with a legal issue. This someone important to me, someone who calls me “dad.” And the legal issue was pretty bad. It wasn’t that he had done anything illegal, but he’d gotten involved with a World Class Pain-In-The-Hindquarters. 

The World Class Pain was making his life miserable, threatening lawsuits, threatening huge expenses, and was completely flouting the law on the matter. He was Too Important To Be Bothered with things like that (he is a legitimate millionaire, for all the good it does him), and he does know powerful people who owe him favors.

So we’d talked together about the options open to us. At its most intense point, my spiritual son called me in terror and confusion about the latest round of threats, so I called the Millionaire Pain and explained things firmly to him. I think he’ll be able to use that ear again in a few days. I did not submit to his campaign of terror. I wasn’t rude, but I didn’t let him push me around.

But I pissed him off, so he jacked up the intimidation and threats, and neither my son nor I slept much for a couple of nights.

I wanted to ask for prayer, but I didn’t feel that freedom.

A day later, I realized that when I got in his face, I misquoted some facts to him, so I called him back, and (as expected) he sent my call to voicemail, so I left him a long message. I apologized for my errant facts, explained the situation from my son’s perspective, acknowledged what we understood of his own needs in the situation, and proposed a sit-down meeting where we could resolve the disagreement.

He ignored me, of course. His intimidation continued, but it did not escalate again.

Again, I wanted to post a prayer request, but I still didn’t feel the freedom.

One night it really got to me. I should have been asleep. Instead, I was ranting, my intestines were growling, and my sheets were soaked with sweat. I had acknowledged that we’d probably need to take the Pain to court, but as I rolled it around in my mind, I realized that we couldn’t lose the case. We had him cold! We had documentation of a couple of things that would make this an open and shut case! I didn’t want to go to court (nobody in their right mind does), but if we needed to, we would win.

And then I realized that The Pain wasn’t doing any of this to hurt my son or to hurt me, and he wasn’t doing this to win a court case. He just needed to stay in power in his interactions with other people. He needed to feel powerful, and this whole drama was how he met that need. I honestly began to feel sorry for him. That was actually confusing; he was the reason I was still awake at 3:00 in the morning!

And then Father reminded me of Romans 2:4b: “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.” We wanted him to change his mind about the hell he was wreaking; we wanted him to repent. Here, God’s showing me the key to The Pain's repentance: my kindness. Nice.

So I prayed quite a bit; I prayed blessing on this man, on his business, on his real estate holdings. But wait, there's more!

I’d been studying angels in the Bible, recently. My new favorite book of the Bible talked about them: “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14).

So I invited some angels to go visit him and minister the things of the Kingdom to him. We’re supposed to DO the stuff we’re learning, right? And I gave him a new name. No longer The Pain, now he was The Millionaire.

Suddenly, I was tired and I slept.

The next morning, the Millionaire surprised us all. He messaged my son with a remarkably reasonable response. He outlined some things he needed from us (reasonable ones!), and offered some concessions we hadn’t even asked for. Then he recused himself from the final negotiations and he invited us to work with his more reasonable partner. (What? Who IS this guy?)

I wonder if there’s a connection?

I shared the good news with Mrs P, and she admitted that she had been praying blessing on him as well (before she dropped off to a sound sleep several hours before I did!).

I never did ask others for prayer. Our amazing Father really does know what we need, even before we tell him. He’d been answering that prayer long before we got around to praying it.

Then I heard Holy Spirit whisper to me, “I’m serious. It’s kindness that brings repentance. Not power, not strength of will, not even being right. It’s kindness.”

It's kindness that leads to repentance. It really is. 

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Letters

Kindness Leads to Repentance

In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus is describing some of the ways that his family is to be different than how the world does things. In the middle of that lecture, he drops this bomb: “Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

There’s one command in this, and one reason for the command. Don’t be like those people because unlike their father, your Father knows what you need, even before you tell him.

I’d like to share a testimony, if I may.

I was helping someone with a legal issue. This someone important to me, someone who calls me “dad.” And the legal issue was pretty bad. It wasn’t that he had done anything illegal, but he’d gotten involved with a World Class Pain-In-The-Hindquarters. 

The World Class Pain was making his life miserable, threatening lawsuits, threatening huge expenses, and was completely flouting the law on the matter. He was Too Important To Be Bothered with things like that (he is a legitimate millionaire, for all the good it does him), and he does know powerful people who owe him favors.

So we’d talked together about the options open to us. At its most intense point, my spiritual son called me in terror and confusion about the latest round of threats, so I called the Millionaire Pain and explained things firmly to him. I think he’ll be able to use that ear again in a few days. I did not submit to his campaign of terror. I wasn’t rude, but I didn’t let him push me around.

But I pissed him off, so he jacked up the intimidation and threats, and neither my son nor I slept much for a couple of nights.

I wanted to ask for prayer, but I didn’t feel that freedom.

A day later, I realized that when I got in his face, I misquoted some facts to him, so I called him back, and (as expected) he sent my call to voicemail, so I left him a long message. I apologized for my errant facts, explained the situation from my son’s perspective, acknowledged what we understood of his own needs in the situation, and proposed a sit-down meeting where we could resolve the disagreement.

He ignored me, of course. His intimidation continued, but it did not escalate again.

Again, I wanted to post a prayer request, but I still didn’t feel the freedom.

One night it really got to me. I should have been asleep. Instead, I was ranting, my intestines were growling, and my sheets were soaked with sweat. I had acknowledged that we’d probably need to take the Pain to court, but as I rolled it around in my mind, I realized that we couldn’t lose the case. We had him cold! We had documentation of a couple of things that would make this an open and shut case! I didn’t want to go to court (nobody in their right mind does), but if we needed to, we would win.

And then I realized that The Pain wasn’t doing any of this to hurt my son or to hurt me, and he wasn’t doing this to win a court case. He just needed to stay in power in his interactions with other people. He needed to feel powerful, and this whole drama was how he met that need. I honestly began to feel sorry for him. That was actually confusing; he was the reason I was still awake at 3:00 in the morning!

And then Father reminded me of Romans 2:4b: “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.” We wanted him to change his mind about the hell he was wreaking; we wanted him to repent. Here, God’s showing me the key to The Pain's repentance: my kindness. Nice.

So I prayed quite a bit; I prayed blessing on this man, on his business, on his real estate holdings. But wait, there's more!

I’d been studying angels in the Bible, recently. My new favorite book of the Bible talked about them: “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14).

So I invited some angels to go visit him and minister the things of the Kingdom to him. We’re supposed to DO the stuff we’re learning, right? And I gave him a new name. No longer The Pain, now he was The Millionaire.

Suddenly, I was tired and I slept.

The next morning, the Millionaire surprised us all. He messaged my son with a remarkably reasonable response. He outlined some things he needed from us (reasonable ones!), and offered some concessions we hadn’t even asked for. Then he recused himself from the final negotiations and he invited us to work with his more reasonable partner. (What? Who IS this guy?)

I wonder if there’s a connection?

I shared the good news with Mrs P, and she admitted that she had been praying blessing on him as well (before she dropped off to a sound sleep several hours before I did!).

I never did ask others for prayer. Our amazing Father really does know what we need, even before we tell him. He’d been answering that prayer long before we got around to praying it.

Then I heard Holy Spirit whisper to me, “I’m serious. It’s kindness that brings repentance. Not power, not strength of will, not even being right. It’s kindness.”

It's kindness that leads to repentance. It really is. 

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Devotionals, Letters

Some Ways the Enemy Opposes God’s Kids

In the last few days, I’ve had interaction with a wide variety of folks:

·         An author who insists that Christians are still obligated to obey the whole law, and how dare I declare that the Old Covenant is past!!!
·         Some folks who are angry at me because I teach that God is good and kind and well-represented in Jesus.
·         A friend who insists that the Resurrection was metaphorical, not literal.
·         Several “unbelieving believers” whose whole world view is built on their poverty spirit and whose theme song seems to be “I can’t! I need someone to do it for me!”
·         A “prophet” who is convinced that his job is pointing out fault in every congregation he visits (and who never visits a congregation a second time).

As I was reflecting on these, I felt Father’s sadness. “These are manifestations of the influence of an antichrist spirit,” he murmured softly.

I realized, that’s certainly not saying, “They’re the Antichrist!” or even “They’re possessed.”

It’s just acknowledging that these are some of the ways that an “anti-Christ” spirit works to influence God’s children. These are some of the accusations that the enemy makes against God, against Jesus, against the Cross.

As I reflected, the quiet voice continued, “How will you respond to them?” and I knew that my response must not include anger or rejection or resignation.

There is one thing that stood out in my heart in response. Sure, I must love them, but that’s not a real answer. The thing that stood out to me is that I need to be careful not to change my message in response to them. I must not react to them in anger, rejection, or resignation; I am not permitted to change my message because of them.

If I don’t speak of who God really is in me and to me, then it’s not really my testimony, it’s just empty words. If I soften the message in order to placate some, or if I sharpen it to make it hit others harder, then these voices that carry the echo of the antichrist have shaped my message, my heart. My message would likely carry further, but it would not carry the truth I want it to.

And then my voice would also carry a manifestation of the influence of an antichrist spirit. I’m thinking that this is not where I want to go. There be dragons down that path.

I'm working on keeping my message true. Your prayers - and your company - are invited.


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Prophecy

Some Ways the Enemy Opposes God’s Kids

In the last few days, I’ve had interaction with a wide variety of folks:
·         An author who insists that Christians are still obligated to obey the whole law, and how dare I declare that the Old Covenant is past!!!
·         Some folks who are angry at me because I teach that God is good and kind and well-represented in Jesus.
·         A friend who insists that the Resurrection was metaphorical, not literal.
·         Several “unbelieving believers” whose whole world view is built on their poverty spirit and whose theme song seems to be “I can’t! I need someone to do it for me!”
·         A “prophet” who is convinced that his job is pointing out fault in every congregation he visits (and who never visits a congregation a second time).
As I was reflecting on these, I felt Father’s sadness. “These are manifestations of the influence of an antichrist spirit,” he murmured softly.

I realized, that’s certainly not saying, “They’re the Antichrist!” or even “They’re possessed.”
It’s just acknowledging that these are some of the ways that an “anti-Christ” spirit works to influence God’s children. These are some of the accusations that the enemy makes against God, against Jesus, against the Cross.
As I reflected, the quiet voice continued, “How will you respond to them?” and I knew that my response must not include anger or rejection or resignation.
There is one thing that stood out in my heart in response. Sure, I must love them, but that’s not a real answer. The thing that stood out to me is that I need to be careful not to change my message in response to them. I must not react to them in anger, rejection, or resignation; I am not permitted to change my message because of them.
If I don’t speak of who God really is in me and to me, then it’s not really my testimony, it’s just empty words. If I soften the message in order to placate some, or if I sharpen it to make it hit others harder, then these voices that carry the echo of the antichrist have shaped my message, my heart. My message would likely carry further, but it would not carry the truth I want it to.
And then my voice would also carry a manifestation of the influence of an antichrist spirit. I’m thinking that this is not where I want to go. There be dragons down that path.

I’m working on keeping my message true. Your prayers – and your company – are invited.

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Devotionals, Letters

Some Ways the Enemy Opposes God’s Kids

In the last few days, I’ve had interaction with a wide variety of folks:

·         An author who insists that Christians are still obligated to obey the whole law, and how dare I declare that the Old Covenant is past!!!
·         Some folks who are angry at me because I teach that God is good and kind and well-represented in Jesus.
·         A friend who insists that the Resurrection was metaphorical, not literal.
·         Several “unbelieving believers” whose whole world view is built on their poverty spirit and whose theme song seems to be “I can’t! I need someone to do it for me!”
·         A “prophet” who is convinced that his job is pointing out fault in every congregation he visits (and who never visits a congregation a second time).

As I was reflecting on these, I felt Father’s sadness. “These are manifestations of the influence of an antichrist spirit,” he murmured softly.

I realized, that’s certainly not saying, “They’re the Antichrist!” or even “They’re possessed.”

It’s just acknowledging that these are some of the ways that an “anti-Christ” spirit works to influence God’s children. These are some of the accusations that the enemy makes against God, against Jesus, against the Cross.

As I reflected, the quiet voice continued, “How will you respond to them?” and I knew that my response must not include anger or rejection or resignation.

There is one thing that stood out in my heart in response. Sure, I must love them, but that’s not a real answer. The thing that stood out to me is that I need to be careful not to change my message in response to them. I must not react to them in anger, rejection, or resignation; I am not permitted to change my message because of them.

If I don’t speak of who God really is in me and to me, then it’s not really my testimony, it’s just empty words. If I soften the message in order to placate some, or if I sharpen it to make it hit others harder, then these voices that carry the echo of the antichrist have shaped my message, my heart. My message would likely carry further, but it would not carry the truth I want it to.

And then my voice would also carry a manifestation of the influence of an antichrist spirit. I’m thinking that this is not where I want to go. There be dragons down that path.

I'm working on keeping my message true. Your prayers - and your company - are invited.


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Devotionals, Letters

The First Commandment is a Threat.

May I share something kind of strange? OK. Thanks.

I've been thinking (yes, again)! (I do that.)

It seems to me that the first of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3) isn’t really a commandment at all.

The commandment in question says simply, “You will have no other gods before me.” There’s no command in that verse. It doesn’t say “Don’t do it.” There is no “Thou shalt not…” in this. There’s actually no command in the first commandment.

What there is, however, is a threat.

It’s like this: “You ain’t ever gonna have other gods before me. If you set one up, I will knock it down. It will not succeed.”

This isn’t so much about what we must or must do. This doesn’t appear to be about us exercising our will power. This appears to be us being aware of God’s nature. If you enter into relationship with God, then God will be the big deal in your life.

I wonder if this might be why some folks get into trouble? I wonder if sometimes, other folks – and they themselves may not even know about it – put them on a pedestal, perhaps because they are open to being treated with reverence or with the kind of honor that really only belongs to One.

If I set up somebody as the authority in my life – maybe my pastor, maybe a famous author or conference speaker or maybe a godly broadcaster – if I listen to them for what I ought to believe, and how much money I should give and to whom, for the directions or limitations in my life, then I’ve set them up as a god in my life. Before the Lord.

And the threat is ready to be applied. God will need to remove them from the “before me” part of my life.

Now the real question applies: this is clearly an Old Testament / Old Covenant threat. Does this principle apply in the New Covenant? 



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Prophecy

The First Commandment is a Threat.

May I share something kind of strange? OK. Thanks.
I’ve been thinking (yes, again)! (I do that.)
It seems to me that the first of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3) isn’t really a commandment at all.
The commandment in question says simply, “You will have no other gods before me.” There’s no command in that verse. It doesn’t say “Don’t do it.” There is no “Thou shalt not…” in this. There’s actually no command in the first commandment.
What there is, however, is a threat.
It’s like this: “You ain’t ever gonna have other gods before me. If you set one up, I will knock it down. It will not succeed.”
This isn’t so much about what we must or must do. This doesn’t appear to be about us exercising our will power. This appears to be us being aware of God’s nature. If you enter into relationship with God, then God will be the big deal in your life.
I wonder if this might be why some folks get into trouble? I wonder if sometimes, other folks – and they themselves may not even know about it – put them on a pedestal, perhaps because they are open to being treated with reverence or with the kind of honor that really only belongs to One.
If I set up somebody as the authority in my life – maybe my pastor, maybe a famous author or conference speaker or maybe a godly broadcaster – if I listen to them for what I ought to believe, and how much money I should give and to whom, for the directions or limitations in my life, then I’ve set them up as a god in my life. Before the Lord.
And the threat is ready to be applied. God will need to remove them from the “before me” part of my life.
Now the real question applies: this is clearly an Old Testament / Old Covenant threat. Does this principle apply in the New Covenant? 

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Devotionals, Letters

The First Commandment is a Threat.

May I share something kind of strange? OK. Thanks.

I've been thinking (yes, again)! (I do that.)

It seems to me that the first of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3) isn’t really a commandment at all.

The commandment in question says simply, “You will have no other gods before me.” There’s no command in that verse. It doesn’t say “Don’t do it.” There is no “Thou shalt not…” in this. There’s actually no command in the first commandment.

What there is, however, is a threat.

It’s like this: “You ain’t ever gonna have other gods before me. If you set one up, I will knock it down. It will not succeed.”

This isn’t so much about what we must or must do. This doesn’t appear to be about us exercising our will power. This appears to be us being aware of God’s nature. If you enter into relationship with God, then God will be the big deal in your life.

I wonder if this might be why some folks get into trouble? I wonder if sometimes, other folks – and they themselves may not even know about it – put them on a pedestal, perhaps because they are open to being treated with reverence or with the kind of honor that really only belongs to One.

If I set up somebody as the authority in my life – maybe my pastor, maybe a famous author or conference speaker or maybe a godly broadcaster – if I listen to them for what I ought to believe, and how much money I should give and to whom, for the directions or limitations in my life, then I’ve set them up as a god in my life. Before the Lord.

And the threat is ready to be applied. God will need to remove them from the “before me” part of my life.

Now the real question applies: this is clearly an Old Testament / Old Covenant threat. Does this principle apply in the New Covenant? 



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Prophecy

Responding to “Melchizedek Means You Must Tithe!”

Does Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek mean we must tithe?

When teaching on the topic of tithing, pastors generally refer to Genesis 14, where Abraham was just finishing wiping out four kings in a war to recover his captive family. Melchizedek, a priest, came out to congratulate Abe, who gave that priest 10% of the plunder. Here’s the story:

When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lotand his possessions, together with the women and the other people.
After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodomcame out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). Then Melchizedek king of Salembrought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.”
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.” But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’” – Genesis 14:14-23 

“The tithe precedes the Law!” they declaim. “So when the Law went away, the tithe stays: You must tithe because Abraham tithed before the Law!” (And they’ll often reference Hebrews 7, where the story is mentioned in passing in support of a whole different point.)
I hate that argument: it’s 98% irrelevant to the topic. (A little bit is relevant: One guy did tithe once before the law.)
But he tithed only once. One time only, Abraham gave 10% of the spoils of one war to Melchizedek, while he gave 90% to the kings of Sodom & Gomorrah. He never tithed from any other source, either before or after that day.
So we’re supposed to make application for our lives from this story. Here are some ways we can apply Abraham’s example of tithing to Melchizedek:
* Does this mean that we should tithe on the spoils of our war? Do we get the Pentagon involved in this, or do we limit ourselves just to wars that we ourselves lead? Are we limited only to foreign wars, or does a fight with my wife count?
* Does this mean that we tithe after we kill people? If so, whom shall we kill on Sunday morning? Abe killed people who held his family captive. Who would that be today?
* Does this mean that we should tithe when a priest brings bread and wine to our workplace and blesses us (as Melchizedek did here)? In that case, I should tithe to the traveling sales reps, I suppose. They bring food to my workplace, though they’re not really priests.
* Does this mean we should tithe only one day in our lives, as Abraham did? If so, how do we choose which one day we should tithe? Should it be when we’re young and strong, or when we’re old and wise? And should it be a work day, or a weekend day? If it only happens once, we should be careful to pick the right day.
* Does this mean that we should give 90% of our income to the leaders of “Sodom & Gomorrah”? I thought we were opposed to the pornography industry or the sex trade? Or are you saying we should just pick some worldly politicians and give them our life savings? (Sure glad that happens only one day in our life!)
My point is this: it is foolishly disingenuous to say, “You must apply this one detail out of this story, but ignore all the rest of it!” That’s religious manipulation at its worst! It is completely unworthy of the People of God.
Conclusion: This story is clearly not appropriate to use as a tool to demand that people give you 10% of their income.
But don’t take this toofar.
I am not trying to say, “Do not tithe!” Nor am I saying, “Don’t be generous!” as some mistakenly say.
I’m saying that the People of God are not subject to the extortion that the tithe teaching has become: “If you don’t obey this Law, you’re a lousy Christian!” Many churches today deny members opportunities to serve, or to receive ministry, unless they’ve submitted to the extortion.
Christians are not under law. We are not required to tithe.
However, note that the law of sowing and reaping is part of our lives in the New Covenant. Consider 2Corinthians 9:6: “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” That’s for us. That’s real.
And the need for believers to be characterized by generosity, particularly to the poor, is incontrovertible! Really, 10% is a pretty wimpy standard for people who have generosity in their soul. Giving from a free heart is completely encouraged! And we’re free to give where we want to: to missions, to local congregations, to a benevolence group, directly to needy people, or to a secular group that does worthy things. And we’re free to donate money, or time, or sweat, or influence, or anything else we have to give.
So, if people read the story of Abraham and Melchizedek and then they say, “Well that proves it. I must give 10% of my income to you every week because Abraham gave 10% to a priest one time!” then somebody is not thinking clearly. That’s just the spirit of stupid.
But if they read the story of Abraham and Melchizedek and then they say “That’s cool! I want to do that!” then more power to them! That’s a beautiful thing! 

Just don’t try to make it a law. That would be a lie. And it’s not good to lie to the people of God.
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Prophecy

Killing Terrorists?

I admit: the murderous persecution of Christians in the Middle East is an ugly thing. I’ve seen photos that make me want to throw up, and I’ve heard stories that make me want to send an army to the Middle East to bomb them back to the stone age.

I’ve been talking to other believers who have been arguing in favor of responding to terrorist violence with a violent (eg military) response. I understand that there are good and responsible arguments that can be made for using force against terrorism.

I’m not saying we should or shouldn’t. I suspect that there are good arguments on both sides of that conversation. I am fortunate in that I don’t need to have the answer to that particular question.

However, I’ve been observing that when the Church faced its first terrorist, God didn’t kill the terrorist. In fact, that terrorist, a maniacal Pharisee named Saul, became the apostle Paul, the greatest evangelist for the Kingdom of God in the history of the planet.

I’m not saying, “use force” or “don’t use force” against terrorists.

But I think I’m ready to say, Whatever you do, pray for their conversion. Pray for a Damascus Road experience for whichever terrorist group has your attention right now.

If it is true (and it is) that “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,” then there is going to be a revival of epic proportions in several places in the Earth as soon as those seeds hatch.

We’ll need passionate people to lead it, and we’ll need more of them than we have now.

Shoot them or don’t shoot them, as your conscience leads you. But for Heaven’s sake, do pray for them. Pray for their conversion. Pray that they meet the God of the Universe. And pray that he uses them in His Kingdom, like he used Paul.

That’s a response to terrorism with a good track record.

Come join the conversation at https://www.facebook.com/northwestprophetic.
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Prophecy

The Commandments of Christ

I’ve heard John 14:15 quoted many times in reference to obeying some of the laws of the Old Testament:  “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Or they’ve quoted John, 15:14 “You are my friends if you do what I command.”

The verse is thrown out as a prooftext: “You have to follow the commands of God!” though nobody’s expected to follow all the commands: they don’t promote blood sacrifices or stoning sinners. It’s just an attempt to coerce believers into submitting to their own favorite part of the Law.

This is an attempt at control: whether from ignorance or malevolence, this is an attempt to wield the Law, as it has always been wielded, to exercise control over you: “You must do what I say you must do, because of this verse!” This is part of “the curse of the Law.” And implicit in it is “If you don’t do what I say, you’re guilty!” and this is the rest of “the curse of the Law.”

Let’s look a little closer, shall we, at what Jesus said? Jesus doesn’t say, “If you love me, keep all the commands of the Law,” or even “If you love me, keep this particular group of the Law’s commands.”

What does he say? “Keep MY commandments.” Keep the commandments that Jesus has given. Not the commandments of the Law: the commandments of Jesus!

What did Jesus command? Let’s pull out a concordance and look, shall we?

Jhn 13:34
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

Jhn 15:12
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

Jhn 15:17
This is my command: Love each other.

You’re welcome to look it up yourself (http://nwp.link/1HpK278); these are actually the only commandments that Jesus gave. It’s pretty clear that, while he has commanded it several times, he only gave one command: love each other.

So yeah: if you love Jesus, keep the commandments he gave: they’re all about love each other. That’s it. This isn’t about obeying the law, or about religious traditions, or about dietary requirements or even a command to “do good works.”

It’s about loving each other.

It probably is appropriate to point out that love – true ἀγαπάω love – is a pretty big topic. It’s all about pursuing their good over your own good, and that’s a costly love that will itself require much of us. But the command is love; the command is not about submitting to the Law, either the Old Covenant Law, or the rules that someone is trying to control you with.

Brothers and sisters, the Law is dead. Long live the command of love.

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Prophecy

Jesus as a Test of Questionable Doctrine

Hebrews 1:3 says, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being….” This is just saying as a principle that which Jesus had already declared, when he stated “the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19 and others)
If Jesus is the exact representation of who God is. Jesus is the best revelation we’ll ever get of who God is. It is legitimate and appropriate handling of the Bible to acknowledge that the revelation of God’s nature that Jesus provides (both through scripture and through our experience with him now, it can be asserted) is a superior revelation of God’s nature than any other revelation of God. It is superior to what angels declare, superior to supernatural experiences, superior to Old Testament prophets. Jesus is the best revelation of God’s nature that we will ever, ever have.
Therefore, when examining a doctrine or a teaching, it is Biblical and appropriate to ask, “Is this doctrine consistent with the nature of God as Jesus revealed it?”
If we are faced with a doctrine that assumes that God does this or that, or that infers that God approves this or that, then that makes a statement of the character of God. For example:
    If we believe that God creates beauty, then this infers that God affirms beauty. Is this consistent with Jesus?
    If we believe that God creates evil, then this infers that we believe that God is the source of evil. Is this consistent with how Jesus lived or what Jesus taught?
    If we believe that God is going to snatch his people out of their socks and leave the world without the people He gave the Great Commission to just as the world is entering its greatest tribulation and challenge, then this says things about God’s character: are these things consistent with the revelation of who God is as Jesus has revealed Him? Is this how Jesus has revealed that God works?
Frankly, to avoid or to diminish this test of our doctrine is to reject or diminish the authority of Scripture, because Scripture affirms that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” (Colossians 1:15)
Having established this test [“Is this teaching consistent with the character of God as revealed in Jesus”], this does not mean that we necessarily completely throw out all doctrine that fails the test. We may only need to refine our belief in that area. This may call for maturity in our doctrine.
If we conclude that the life of Jesus does not support the idea that God is the creator or source of evil, then we do not necessarily throw out any doctrine of evil, or even any doctrine that God uses evil. We may want to acknowledge that while God uses evil to bring about good (the cross may serve as an illustration), it does therefore follow logically that God is himself the source of evil. We may need to learn that evil has another source.
Or if we conclude that the idea of God snatching his people away just before difficulty strikes is not consistent with the revelation that Jesus provides, we do not therefore need to abandon all consideration of a “Rapture.” Perhaps we just need to re-think the Rapture in terms that are more consistent with God’s character and less consistent with a spirit of fear.

Perhaps there’s real reason for the command we’ve been given: “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Maybe part of the reason that we need to keep our eyes on Jesus is because He is STILL the standard by which we understand what is true and what is not.

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Devotionals, Letters

True Confessions: It’s Not What You Think

I have a confession to make. I’ve been leading you astray. I’ve deceived you.

Let me explain.

I write, from time to time, about some of the interesting interactions that I’ve had with God, and about some of the interesting things I’ve discovered as I walk with him.

And that’s where the deception comes in.

I only write about the interesting stuff. I don’t write about the days and days of nothing in particular going on, because there’d be nothing to write.

Let me explain.

I’m a married man. More specifically, I’m a happily married man. Sometimes, Milady & I will spend the whole evening together in the same room, her reading, me writing, neither of us saying a thing. We’re just happy to be in each other’s presence. Seriously, I was in tears the other day, just thinking about growing old with her. It makes me really happy.

When I’m working in my garden, I can really often feel Father’s presence like that: quietly together. He’s taught me quite a lot there: how to transplant tiny seedlings, how to get more produce from a tiny garden, how to nurture the tender plants, and how, if I get the basics done well, the weeds won’t really be an issue.

I’m also a working man. And I gotta say that it’s not real often (though it does happen) that God speaks into the technical details of a project that I’m working on. And even when he does, I don’t write about it, because most of the story is about tweaky nerdly stuff that nobody outside my field is interested in. God showing me the right path to take a big bus through a crowded parking lot, or the best way to make these particular gears fit properly in a watch: this is not the stuff of interesting articles of faith and maturity.

But it is the stuff of real relationship with God.

I’m convinced that the best part of my relationship with God is not the amazing encounters or the awesome revelations or the impressive miracles. Yeah, those are fine, and I’ll not complain about them (this is a good place to say, “More Lord!” I think).

It’s like a good marriage: I love the times we get to go out to dinner, or where we host a barbecue for some friends, times of intimacy together. But the real strength of the marriage doesn’t come from those: it comes from the quiet, daily, almost ritual times together. We don’t have to talk about who’s turn it is to empty the dishwasher or take out the garbage or cook dinner, because we’re together.

And a love relationship with the Creator of the Universe is actually pretty similar: The fancy dinners are great, but quiet times of everyday life are where the real life & health come from.

So I apologize if I’ve left you with the impression that life in God is not all cool revelations and glorious highlights. Those happen, and they’re fun and all. But the day to day time together, not even really needing to form words: those are the places where the treasure’s found.

And those don’t make good stories to write about.

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