It is difficult to share with those who won’t listen – is it not?
God has the same problem:
…And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”
God mentioning those who …do not hear
You may have seen elderly (or young) ladies sitting outside department stores holding-out magazines – and usually muttering something like ‘Thank you sir’ whilst naming the magazine they want you to buy, held forth in their hand.
They are usually ignored.
‘The harsh’ – usually mutter something like: “Go and get a job”, under their breath.
I remember once giving a gentleman, doing the same thing, a fair amount for the magazine – only to receive a rather nasty rebuttal and refusal to give me the magazine.
Apparently (I can only guess), I had insulted him with my contribution (?). What made things worse was the fact that I couldn’t reason with him as he had very little grasp of English.
So I let it go – he with my contribution and I with no magazine.
No one likes to be ignored.
Yet because God isn’t seen to be sitting in front of them – many choose to ignore Him.
Nor will they consider listening to the means He has chosen, by which He wants to communicate.
Therefore they do not hear what He has to say.
Programmed – mind already made up – habitual shut down of the natural faculties – when (just as with the magazine seller), someone tries to engage with them.
Engaging with them to present the Gospel.
There are a bundle of questions not easily answered when it comes to God and His ways.
This inability to answer all the questions under the sun can be – stumbling block number one – for some folks.
Whereas in contrast they fail to consider the many answers already given in the book of books. (The Bible)
A few immediately unanswerable questions about God, and ignoring Him therefore, becomes the easy option.
There is a closing of the mind to any words purporting to represent God and His salvation.
But there is a spiritual element in this, revealed in scripture:
3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake.
This scripture tells us a number of things. …god of this age… The ‘god of this age/world’ has various other names – most common of which is ’the devil’.
…minds…blinded: A blinded mind is the mind that immediately switches off and ignores the message – and can be demonically programmed to do so.
The means God chooses to reveal Himself is through the words of a message, usually preached = For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord,
should shine on them….Lastly what is supposed to happen and will happen to those who have ears to hear and will stop in their tracks to give the gospel a chance, is the reception of God’s enlightenment (light) inside – as you experience it’s transforming power. Light received through His Word (Bible).
…gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
The Bible’s words are light – light shines – and God wants to shine His Words on and into you and I. So we will hear/see them in our hearts and turn and be converted.
If anyone responds to this and seeks Him…
Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.
There are innumerable voices, philosophies and mind tutorials loosed upon us all, through the media platforms available today.
If we are to sort the wheat from the chaff, it would be a good idea to define wheat and define chaff.
But we might find this difficult, in this post-modern cosmos we live in today. Difficult because minds are already made-up in a way contrary to our own values and assessments regarding what wheat and chaff is.
One man’s meat is another man’s poison etc.
One man’s junk is another man’s treasure etc.
(Why only ‘one man’s’ – What about the women? Anyway…)
The above are weak limited expressions in the context of what I’m considering, but maybe you get the idea – that what we consider valuable differs greatly from person to person.
Problem is – the most important message on the planet is ignored by many who must consider it junk rather than treasure?
The simple gospel, as in the gospel of Jesus Christ – can be universally understood and experienced.
We can state it plainly, without complicating it’s message.
Yet the human mind being what it is, we are confronted with the fact that people have mindsets that vary from person to person, culture to culture and country to country.
So how do we address these people-groups, or cultures with this ‘simple’ gospel? Is there a ‘one size fits all gospel?’
If we were to start to try to Tailor-make our expression or communication of the gospel to reach an individual, to reach a perhaps – unique culture, somewhere in the world, we might find ourselves giving up, as we vainly try to cover every communication angle, in order to reach and be understood by that culture group.
Perhaps someone who is an immigrant and has lived in the new culture a long time, has a better chance of communicating in a more understood way?
Returning to the simplicity of the gospel again, we might find, on examination, that our original approach is too complicated, as we still lose their attention.
Paul the apostle tells us his endeavours when it came to sharing the gospel –
22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.
All things – all men – all means.
His goal was to save some.
So again – ALL things – ALL men – ALL means.
To ‘get’ the gospel in order to be saved – cannot be dependent only – on how it is explained to us.
This is where God Himself steps in – you don’t have the real thing unless God steps in.
I wouldn’t have become a Christian except for the fact that God supernaturally stepped-in, in a mighty way, so that I was left unable to deny the tangibility and reality of the encounter.
I can dress up as a punk, get tattooed, spend time in your combo, and seek to explain the gospel using your language, but some will still get it and some won’t.
The message is plain. Listen to Paul as he explains the way he communicated it:
12 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:
This plainness can also be translated boldness.
Listen again as he explains what he considered to be how he should communicate:
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.
So his ‘how to’-‘go to’ when it came to sharing the gospel – was 1) not in wisdom – as in what this world considers wisdom because that is spiritual ‘chaff’.
2) The cross and all it stands for is the message!
Lost world – somebody has to pay for the behaviour of it’s shambolic inhabitants expressed in man’s inhumanity to man (in short sin), — you should pay – I should pay for our sins – Christ paid instead. The just for the unjust – Christ suffers – Barabbas goes free.
All we need now is to accept the gift.
Could I explain that more fully? Yes ‘but…’
(“Lord please step in…”)
But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
Will you be challenged?
If John the Baptist came along and warned you to ‘flee from the wrath to come’ – would you be challenged – first to listen and then to take on board what he said? (Matthew 3/7).
And on being convinced of the truth he proclaimed would you then set yourself to find a way to see it’s outworking in your life?
Or would you respond with: ‘Well Johnny boy – you have your truth and I have mine?”
There can be an acceptance of everybody’s ‘truth’, so as not to offend, or become unpopular, or out of a sense of not wanting to seem intolerant of other people’s views or religion.
I have already written in a previous blog about the fact that there is no ‘your truth’ and ‘my truth’ – it is a contradiction. There is only the truth.
Perhaps Pilate had ‘his truth’.
Pilate’s question, put to the Christ was: “What is truth?” (John 18/38)
There – standing before him, was the only Living and True… – and he couldn’t see it. (I Thessalonians 1/9).
What about you and I? Could that be our problem, – we can’t see it?
The Gospel has a simple foundational truth, upon which everything else is built:
I Corinthians 3/11
For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Stop and think this over:
(I use the word if as a reluctant concession on my part) – If Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God – your life and mine can NEVER be the same – the truth of this fact – demands that we take action of a revolutionary life changing nature.
Again put simply – believe it in your heart and confess it with your mouth, embracing Him totally through prayer – and the giving of yourself wholly to Him and everything He says.
For this to be a reality and the reality is to benefit our lives, there must be a trade-in.
As-much-as-is-in-you-now – trade yourself in. And receive the reward of Jesus Christ coming to you in the way He said He would, and says He will.
He then lives His life through us by processing us within, changing us from stage of growth to stage of greater growth.
Our inner man is guaranteed eternal life. Our inner man is able to receive more and more revelation of His Life within, as day follows day.
25 “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
I set off again on my Amsterdam quest
We can only try our best
Accompanying — is the buzz of former times
With memories that rhyme
A different soul I be
With literature in my hand
A one man band
I stop to ask directions
Hoping for other reflections
And indeed I’m not disappointed
And often anointed
I meet those bound-up with hurt and strife
I hold forth the bread of life
Some listen – others ignore
I buy someone lunch as we further explore
Why we are on this planet
Some see it – others cannot
The whole experience is so worthwhile
While I live my day as God’s child
Dishing out the smiles, handshakes,
Friendly words, whatever it takes
To get you on board
With my precious pearls from The Sword
Those planted seeds
When yielded to – will meet your needs
And you will succumb – no longer to run
Except to embrace The Only Begotten Son
YOUTHFUL NIGHTS 2021
I sit and watch the man
Crossing the square – where
No one else is to be found
It’s that time of day
When all have departed
All office workers gone
The silence before
The nightlife begins
Rudderless youth stepping out
Putting on the style
All primed with emotional hope
Ordinarily – boy meets girl
Like brand-newness personified
In their latest clothes
Bought in the afternoon
Before it all begins and
The traffic lessens
As that other time is reached
When the clubs are frequented
Clubs of differing kinds
But there my knowledge ends
As I have only my era to reflect upon
And much as youth is equipped
With the same senses
The in-thing is often out
No telling the latest craze
Or slang exchanges
Slang words in new forms
Messages exchanged and understood
Laughs aghast and tittering
Some boisterous horsing around
And girls staring at the foolishness
And underneath the longings lie
And their ‘wondering’ still wonders
And the questions randomly picked
From the question-box of life
Are mostly ignored
I hear the words of the widow’s heart
I hear the words of the wordsmith’s interview
I rewind on both
My choice from one to the other
Creating a strange contrast in full view
Such different spirits I perceive
One with humility to breath
The other still wrangling and living the part
I perceive her loss and saddened heart
I see his tenacity ready to dispute
I see this world of all different types
I see this world still spinning – confused
Things – here today gone tomorrow
The heat of the moment suggesting pseudo-profundity
While the morrow doth bring a different score
I hear the wind outside my window
I see sleep approaching all gentle and peaceful
Because of my link with The Divine
I see the outlaw – perceived to be so
But not so – still they wouldn’t let Him go
I hear the crackle of the flames
Burning the crackly substance
As the sparks fly upwards – a reminder in tow
That troubled man will ever be so
Until the new dawn breaks in spiritual exposé
Many will rise and abide
Others into the soil will go until the angels work
I smell the sweet smell of the popcorn
As the cinema foyer is crossed over
I see the children with boxes of popular corn
They spill out – whilst looking guilty for doing so
With parents paying little attention
I hear the bells now all electronic
Playing their chiming song to half listening ears
I see the diminished congregation
Glad with relief just to be safe
I see all change – but no change at all
Outward conformity by hearts still the same
I see drifting in that wind
Might as well be drifting indefinitely
Until the wind ceases as breath leaves the body
And all embrace the common denominator
Common to man – common to all
‘Common as muck’ we used to say
Meaning something entirely different
Than mud to dust returning
I see the longing for hope buried and forgotten
By everyday endeavours
As the commonplace
Takes it’s place in uncommon parlance
Elevated to a pseudo-sacred place
I’m leaving now – ‘farewell…’
Still in this life
To watch and wait
And see the interesting progression
Of our fate
Working Guitar by Ken Riddles
DON’T STRIVE 2021
Some Christians aware of the need to be spiritual – can make the mistake of becoming unnatural.
I drifted into this in my early Christian experience.
We can be so zealous about wanting to please God that we are rather like the child who wants to paint the yard like daddy, but ends up with more paint on themselves than on the walls.
By that I mean, we immaturely try in our own ‘steam’ to be what God wants us to be – Paul the apostle has some advice for us:
I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
The word ‘frustrate’ is very descriptive here – we end up frustrated because we have not learnt how to avail ourselves of God’s wonderful gift of Grace.
Grace not just for salvation, but for living. Rejoicing in our acceptance and maintaining intimacy through prayer and Bible meditation – changes us – and our behaviour.
The behavioural change is then manifest through the fruits of The Holy Spirit in our lives. Coming and appearing as they do from the inside-out.
A lot of unbelievers perceive Christianity to be only about the do’s and dont’s of a moral life lived.
Their perception is one of constant Straining to keep the ten commandments. The real point of relationship with Jesus Christ is not factored-into their reckoning.
Unfortunately this wrong perception can be true of Christians also.
17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.
It is this consciousness of needing to perform that leads us astray into thinking that there is something good in our flesh and that we can find there, the resources we need to be good.
Paul states the dilemma every human being is in.
Even those who want to do what is right face that dilemma. The more we strive to be ‘good’ the further away it seems to go from us.
For those who ask the Living Christ into their innermost being through turning to Him and admitting they are contaminated by the sin nature, but are willing to give-in to Him receive another life – the very life of God through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
He it is, that we must learn to submit to. By so doing and allowing His mind, The Word of God, The Bible to replace our thoughts we increase in spiritual maturity and grow to be more like Him, while we maintain our meditation – centred on Christ, having received Him by faith.
We need to be reminded of this daily, as Christians. I’m glad to be the one today that reminds you, in so doing I remind myself:
12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,
There are different types of mentality that people ‘carry’, about spiritual matters, religion, or Christianity.
Consciously or unconsciously they carry certain fundamental conclusions that influence any further thoughts they might have on the subject of spirituality.
When presented with certain Christian thoughts, talks, or articles they have read or conversations they have been privy to – they ‘shoot down’ any presented conclusion that others (e.g. preachers) might offer.
Using their (metaphorically speaking) gun-thoughts, they satisfy themselves that they have reason to dismiss any exhortation the preacher might present.
There are many dismissive thought patterns but here are a few examples:
All religions are divisive and only cause wars.
Evolution has dismissed religion as mythical.
There are too many hypocrites in religion and I want no part of it.
No one has proven God’s existence.
It is impossible to be sure about God’s existence.
There are no absolutes.
Some mythological person living in the clouds will not get my allegiance.
And so it goes on…
If you have been a Christian as long as I have. There is probably not a lot of other products of human ingenuity to be encountered as reasons to dismiss faith and belief in Jesus as the Christ of God.
To engage with those who carry such dismissive attitudes – can be difficult – let’s be real.
However sometimes Christians do not live up to what they call others to follow.
That’s simply because they too – though followers of Christ – are subject to ‘like passions’.
The term ‘like passions’ is found in the New Testament, in James 5.
The King James Version of the Bible, uses this (in my view) very descriptive summary of what we all are:
17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are,
The Amplified version of the Bible expands it more fully –
17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours [with the same physical, mental, and spiritual limitations and shortcomings],
But the verse goes on to reveal a remarkable thing –
and he prayed intensely for it not to rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its crops [as usual].
There is no genuine Christian who would not long to be like Elijah the prophet, as we read of the fruit of his ministry and service to God Almighty.
Yet we also learn of the nature he had. The same nature you and I are born with. Subject to sin – evil desires – unbelief – and so on.
Yet despite the shortcomings of Elijah – he overcame them not through ‘rule keeping’ but through relationship.
The relationship God offers to you and I.
Is it real? – you bet it’s real!
When you pray ‘no rain’ and there is no rain. And you pray ‘rain’ and there is rain. We kinda get the picture – right?
It is real!
Yet it is the same nature referred to here with: spiritual limitations and shortcomings, that stops the rain when the desire is – for rain.
There is only one thing we can do to annul our ‘born in sin’ nature – in order to bring the natural rain or the Rain of God’s Presence.
Here is the key –
13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.