Category Archives: change

Falling

FALLING

Unfortunately we hear of prominent and not so prominent Christians falling into sin.

We know of those on the front line, presenting themselves as leaders and wanting to please God in all things, who fall into sin. (usually sexual in nature).

Others who are depending on their leadership, are startled and disappointed and feel betrayed.

When this happens it creates the idea that in leadership, there seems to be no one to trust, no one living  according to God’s right way. There seems to be a dearth of victorious Christian Living, starting with leaders.

However we wrestle not against flesh and blood. And those in the front line are first to stand in the gun sights of the devil.

We must first therefore realise this fact, and cover them with prayer.

No one in leadership is any more ‘impenetrable’ than others. They are human and subject to the same like passions as anyone else.

Things of protocol must be put into place and the need to be covered with answerability to a plural leadership of their fellow eldership – lived out practically.

The wicked have drawn the sword

And have bent their bow,

To cast down the poor and needy,

To slay those who are of upright conduct.

We see from these verses who is in line for the ‘roaring lions’ attention – those of upright conduct. (I Peter 5/8)

Often before they fell they were men or women of upright conduct. We often forget quickly the character they have shown, and the good they have accomplished. The body of Christ (the church) killing their own wounded.

At the same time we must keep before us the standard God’s word clearly spells out. And not slide into moral laxity.

There is one paramount way to keep our hearts from the demands of the prince of the power of the air – and it is by having presence of mind to appropriate continuously what the Grace of God has provided.

Our God in calling us to forgive 70×7 per day – gives us a glimpse into the fact that He too will practice what He preaches. Plenteous in mercy and forgiveness.

He will not respond to pretenders however, who think to laughingly avail themselves of this promise of forgiveness, whilst they carry on sinning, as though it was acceptable to do so.

That’s called hypocrisy.

Grace is a revelation. It is a revelation not just for salvation – but that through the grace of God we can LIVE!

Always availing ourselves of His promises and His strength to maintain our hearts in good condition before Him.

Let’s pray for those who have fallen. And if they were in a position of leadership and injured others in their fall, let’s still allow them into fellowship with forgiving embrace – but only where we find the sincerity of humility and true repentance. Otherwise if they continue in sin, we become guilty of bidding them God’s-speed in their misdemeanours.

This calls for good discernment. The bible warns about wolves in sheep’s clothing:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?

We shall (we are told) know them (the sincere men and women of God) by their fruits. The actions they take, the attitude they carry, the character they show, their speech, prayer life, fairness, empathy, and so on.

Prayer:

Lord help us to stand dependant on you alone. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

 

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…is not tedious?

…is not tedious?

It might be true to say that most of us who write and publish posts, (I haven’t taken a survey to prove the point 😎 ) – forget what we have published and haven’t.

I guess most of us have writings (potential posts) – on stand-by – ready to be used. But if you are like me, you forget whether you posted what is on your desktop or not – and so have to check older posts.

Also – depending on our personalities as we try to objectively view our work – (again I’m surmising) – notice that we have a certain emphases – there are certain opinions or held beliefs we return to often.

This is usually because they are ingrained into our lifestyle and we have proven them to be true and/or are convinced of their importance and that therefore we do others a service by sharing them. 

In the case of Christian writing – there are certain truths that we find essential and foundational and important and we want to keep drawing the attention of others to these truths.

So although perhaps we ever change the angle we come at these truths from – we fundamentally want to say those things again!

I have noticed some of my emphases, just as I have noticed the tendencies/emphases of other writers/bloggers.

Sometimes the artist in me wants to act on the old saying: (it may have originated in some comic TV show, I’m not sure…) “And now for something completely different…”

Poetry allows me to discover, share and explore a wide range of subject matter, from the profound to the ridiculous.

However when it comes to exercising my gifting as a teacher of the Word of Truth – I do find myself returning to the same important truths again and again.

Paul writing to the Philippians says (PHILIPPIANS 3/1):

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. 

 NKJV –

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.

He obviously wrote what he thought necessary for their spiritual health and wellbeing – and indeed God has to repeat Himself over and over to us as we are slow of heart to believe, slow at grasping spiritual realities.

But it is true that people look on the surface of things, and are happier with what is immediately ‘grasp-able’. 

Our mental or spiritual inertia slows us down from pursuing, – as though our very lives depended on it – the spiritual dimensions, God calls, all willing-persons into.

But it can be a thankless task to preach what people do not want to hear. Don’t want to hear because such preaching can highlight the need for change, and we can’t face change – “just at the moment thanks…”

People who have gone from one piece of misfortune to another, or who have gone through traumatic experiences or who have gone into the valley of despair, are often the most likely to look for something better, the most likely to desire life-changing answers.

Then there is the ‘God-factor’ (in preaching) the part that God plays in drawing people to Himself. One needs to come to a realisation that God is actually on your case, and wants you to fellowship with Him.

He has ordained that He will draw you to Himself, through preaching. We might (even rightly) conclude that He has chosen a very imperfect means of reaching mankind.

Because there is not a preacher on earth who doesn’t need to listen to preaching himself, in order to embrace change.

Preachers are imperfect persons, but sharing the Word of God as the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, is a mandate they have received from heaven.

But people easily turn-off, distracted in their minds and preferring something easier, something they are used to. 

Something that brings entertainment instead. It’s easier to hit the like button for things that interest us already or that ‘tickle our fancy’ in some non-threatening or non-challenging way.

There is no end of subject-matter in the scriptures, but there definitely are majorly-important truths that must be given priority.

It is the calling and requirement as ministers of reconciliation to preach the gospel message, and to delve into and share the truths God would have us all to walk in.

If I could partake of God’s unlimited insight and supreme knowledge, for a moment,  I think I would like to know, by receiving a list from His hand – everyone who is at that point in their lives where they are ready to transition from the ‘dead in sin’ state of existence to finding the righteousness of Christ through His life-giving Spirit.

Here’s how the word of God describes that transition, a post-salvation description:

13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

Now is this (if you have got this far in the first place) where you now switch off – or will you look into these things, i.e. the things of the gospel of Jesus Christ for yourself to see what you will discover?

as unto spiritual…

AS UNTO SPIRITUAL…

I Corinthians 3/

1. And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

Who is Paul the Apostle addressing here?

Answer – ‘brothers’ – brothers-in-Christ of course, because all the Corinthians he is speaking to, were not his kith and kin.

Not natural kith and kin but ‘brothers in Christ’.

And in addressing brothers, (bearing in mind that his epistles were to the whole church) – he is addressing his ‘sisters-in-Christ’ also.

Is he addressing you and I? Bearing in mind that the Bible (used always-and-eternally in the hand of The Holy Spirit) – is addressing all believers for all time. We conclude readily then, that he is speaking to us also.

All you need to qualify for hearing this epistle – is to be a ‘brother/sister-in-Christ’.

Hmmm?

Can’t imagine that everyone I’m addressing has joined this family of believers?

Anyway – that is for you to decide.

But Paul reveals indirectly to us that there are varying depths of spirituality among believers in Christ.

And that there are matters they were not yet able to comprehend.

The surprise perhaps in this passage is this – he was addressing them all. And he puts them all in the same category (unlike John did in his epistle). Paul refers to them as ‘babes in Christ’.

John – in I John 2 refers to little children, young men, and fathers.

Paul speaks to them all as ‘babes in Christ’. And coupled with this designation is the idea that they are still carnal.

The word carnal can mean different things. But essentially it is the natural sinful mind we are born with.

Everything in the Christian life is a matter of exchange.

We trade in our thoughts, our self-righteousness, our selfishness, or mental problems, our limited reasoning, our emotional hang-ups – and in exchange we receive the joy of The Lord, The peace that passes understanding, the fruits of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of The Holy Spirit, God’s strength, his righteousness, his holiness, his forgiveness and above all His love.

So now everything is ‘rosey in the garden’?

No – simply because we still have everything that life throws at us to contend with.

But with the attributes of Christ within us – we now must learn to yield ourselves to The Lord of our life, and allow those attributes to control us.

This takes time and inner development under the hand of God. But we grow, we mature, we enter into what the Bible describes as being grounded and settled – all through the exercise of faith that expresses itself in biblical meditation, praise and worship, prayer, and joining ourselves in true and real fellowship with the family of God.

Colossians 1/

23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

Notice the behaviour that accompanied the ‘babes in Christ’ designation that Paul reveals to us as the epistle continues – 

For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? 

As we look and listen we recognise similar traits in the church today. Manifesting the fact that we all need to grow up – 

Ephesians 4

14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

 This calls firstly and foremostly for a willingness – yes a willingness – to come together at the foot of the cross and lay it all down – all the carnality – AND EXCHANGE it for His life.

Tomorrow as an area of my spiritual immaturity is made clear to me – I need to return to the one with whom I first made the great exchange – and offer Him my mistakes, my sin, my immature behaviour – “Sorry Lord please come and let your life rule over mine!”

Paul’s Contribution

PAUL’S CONTRIBUTION

Paul the apostle, perhaps more than anyone else – paved the way – in seeking to understand what the problem was, and what the solution consisted of.

In a previous post, I talked about the law of the Old Testament, and how it clearly pointed out right and wrong, good and bad, acceptable behaviour and unacceptable behaviour in the eyes of a sinless God.

Paul heralded the New Testament or New Agreement, in preaching-form and teaching-form.

He, during his times aside with God, explored many facets of how to live the Christian life.

For those of us (perhaps all of us), who experience what it is to fail God, Paul we find, had the same struggles.

He, by experiencing what it was to be a sinner saved by grace, looked at the whole subject of how to be Christlike, and wrote in his epistles – teachings to instruct believers who would come after him – how to overcome sin, death and hell.

He experienced temptation to sin, like all of us, and found how to live victoriously, so that he could say: 

Philippians 1/

20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.

He stayed in an expectant state of mind and lived in the hope of pleasing Christ in his 24/7 walk with Him until he departed this life.

But he was well aware of another law warring in his members that tried to bring him into captivity… (Romans 7/23): But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

In light of Paul’s determination and desire to walk perfectly before The Lord – he sought for answers regarding how to do this.

He found as all men and women will find, that sin is lying at the door of our hearts and minds, seeking our co-operation.

There are, I guess, folks who never seem to have a care in the world. Sinning is just a wrongly accepted part of life. But that means they spend their lives suppressing the voice of conscience. This is what the scripture describes as ‘hardening the heart’.

Others are daily looking to live as they should, in the light of what God asks of us, but find it an ongoing struggle. But the beautiful thing about them is the fact that THEY WANT to live a sincere and righteous existence. It’s just they can’t seem to find the ‘how to’ of doing so.

That’s what Paul sought and found for us, paving the way and exhorting us to grasp the truth that living righteously will automatically take place as we maintain a close relationship with Christ through prayer, and meditation on the Word of God.

There is much we could say on this subject but I want to simply make the point that Paul and indeed all – sin – and seek the same answers – as he did – to the problem.

Paul struggled for a period of time, as we struggle. 

However Paul the apostle proved that God could supply all we need to help us live the victorious Christian life, and penned the answers, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

The wisdom he was able to obtain – is clearly laid-out for us in the epistles God inspired him to write.

This was his major contribution to the church, remaining throughout it’s history and available to us today.

Read and inwardly digest – the answers are there!

Questions?

QUESTIONS

We have no concept of the numbers…

No concept of the amount of human beings who will live with or without Christ forever.

It is knowledge that is beyond us.

How many people have populated the earth since the beginning of time?

Of course – impossible to know.

Concerning numbers – there is – a certain 144,000 mentioned in the Bible. As yet such a number has not found it’s way to my scrutiny. I know it has in other cults. But I haven’t studied its context or implications.

So questions like “What happens to those who never hear the gospel of Jesus Christ?”

Or “what happens to those who live a ‘good life’, without having accepted this gospel?”

Considerations like “they will be judged by the light they have received”

All of these ponderings/considerations are common amongst Christians.

But it reminds me of The Lord when He answered the Pharisee:

28 Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.”

29 Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.

The Lord Jesus points out things lacking in the Pharisee’s understanding – 1) a big enough knowledge of the scripture and 2) his lack of experience of the power of God.

When it comes to imponderables, there are no easy answer solutions. There is a point man reaches in his reasoning powers, when in humility he must succumb to the fact that unless the Holy Spirit enlightens the scriptures by His power, we will not become knowledgable concerning certain things.

This should not hinder our faith, but bolster it, in the understanding that without faith it is impossible to please God. So when our enquiries lead us astray from a steadfast faith in Christ – we have given heed to modern fables:

I Timothy 1/4…give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do…

So godly edifying is in faith. Faith waits to be further enlightened, it waits to gain insight previously absent.

So questions we cannot immediately answer, or questions we find imperfect answers to, should not throw our faith, but rather establish even more our need for God’s help, as we admit our finite limitations.

Many start to turn away from God by virtue of the answers they seem unable to obtain.

Doubt sets in – or spiritual carelessness. And the imponderables provide an excuse to turn again to the weak and beggarly elements this world has to offer.

Paul responding to the Galatian believers – who had gone astray in their thinking – is heard to say: 

I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

Regardless of how difficult some things are to understand, we must hold fast to what we already know, and realise that the complexity of life means that when the age-old temptation to dismiss God arises, because we have things that disturb us – there is no reason to depart from the faith.

We think of Job and the affliction he endured – and how he just could not grasp how such a thing could happen to him – and yet he did not curse God or reject Him.

All that I have just written can be challenged by the experiences of life, but God does not change. We must change to a position of waiting on God for His further help.

But when everything cries out – “this is unfair, or how can this happen…” we against-the-odds must find grace to fall on the Rock – Christ Jesus, in confession of our dependancy on the One who has the words of eternal life.

Job is an example – when he cried: “Though he slay me – yet will I trust him”.

In light of some of the things other people have suffered and survived – surely we can handle one of the ‘imponderables’ that comes under the heading of theology, and survive with our faith intact – rejoicing that we can only know in part anyway!

I Corinthians 13/12

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

 

The problem with the law

THE PROBLEM WITH THE LAW

In my last post I set about establishing the need for the law, now I want to look at the limiting factor to it’s effectiveness.

We looked at the need for the law to highlight right from wrong, good from bad.

The law was given by Moses, but the first law we ever see in scripture was communicated to the first man and the first woman.

Later God wrote the ten commandments on stone, delivered ‘downhill’ by Moses.

That first ‘law’ given to a man named Adam and a woman named Eve was:

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you[c] shall surely die.”

For mankind’s highest good a prohibition was instituted by God. A law, in other words. “You shall not eat etc…”

Woman and man violated that law, with catastrophic consequences.

God’s created mankind were now in rebellion, having inherited a fallen nature.

Fast forwarding, we understand that the giving of the law previous to the New Testament, as in the ten commandments and as in Leviticus etc. was half the answer.

It was incomplete as a way of addressing the sin problem. If you like it was the first half of a whole.

There was a divine order of things, first the law was given, then the second covenant arrived in the timing of God.

That’s why Christ came to fulfil/complete the law. Not only pointing out the problem, but providing the answer as to how it (sin) could be defeated and righteousness restored to the human race.

Speaking He says: Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

However, although the law is pure and holy, something more was needed than pointing out the sin problem. What was needed was the impartation of the ability to overcome sin.

So the law was limited until the bringing in of a better hope took place, in the Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

He fulfilled the requirements of the law and offered His power, the power of an endless life, to His disciples, thus providing the enablement necessary to overcome sin’s dominion in our lives.

The law called for the perfect standard of God. But it was rendered ineffective by man’s fallen nature (flesh), and our inherent inability to respond to the law’s demands:

For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh…

The law can only accomplish it’s life changing work in the hand of The Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit of God alone, who takes the word of God and instead of it being written on stone – He writes it on the human mind and spirit.

But He must be invited to do so by mankind.

This enables us to have the mind of Christ, and with it, His enablement to live like Him.

Because we still live in this body, we often fail to attain Christ’s standard and are become transgressors of the law again, when we stop relying on The Holy Spirit and the Living Word of God, to keep our minds pure and free.

We are told that the law on it’s own was an incomplete answer by the expression here, of ‘For what the law could not do…’

So there was something the law could not do. Regardless of what that was, it reveals the truth that it was not complete as a solution to the problem, due to the fallen nature of man and his inability to keep it.

The law did not change man, but remained to educate him as a schoolmaster, teaching him he was wrong, and pointing him to the coming solution.

We are told that it was the fallen nature of man, that rendered the law ineffective (weak through the flesh), when it came to overcoming sin in our lives.

Christ came therefore to fulfil the law by taking the punishment for sin that the law demanded, becoming the required sacrifice for sin – it (the law) – also demanded for justice to be done, and forgiveness and atonement through Christ The Lamb of God – came to be released.

Restoration of the sinner could then take place – with release from the law’s penalty – then following, to the repentant sinner who believes.

His sacrifice provided forgiveness, because our sin was now atoned for. Forgiveness must be sought, and the gift of His righteousness received by a willing heart.

So the law is good and acceptable, but because of the fallen nature we each live in – it is unable to change us. Only Christ working in us by The Holy Spirit can change us.

The New Testament, the New Covenant, the New Agreement, God wishes us to enter into in partnership with Him – is joy unspeakable and full of glory. It is freedom from the dominion of sin, it is life and life more abundantly, it is the inner spirit of man coming alive.

The cross of Christ is the place and time in history when this New Agreement was released to mankind for the receiving.

Refuse to receive and we are left under the law – condemned and guilty.

This is a vast subject, it is part of the mystery that was hidden from man until the appropriate time.

There is much to say.

But a post is limited in it’s content, nevertheless those who have ears to hear will hear!

Right and wrong – good and bad?

RIGHT AND WRONG – GOOD AND BAD?

You’ve heard it said: “There’s good and bad in everyone…”

(as an aside – check out Paul McCartney’s song: Ebony and Ivory)

* “There’s good and bad in everyone…” Now there’s a statement for you.

What does it mean?

Have you got six weeks, while I address the whole subject?

The following will have to do as we make a start anyway.

Concerning our opening statement* we can take the easy route – and simply agree, and leave it at that. Most people think they know what is meant by this statement.

But then, is it also right that there are varying degrees of good and varying degrees of bad? I would say it is self-evident that there are.

However that the human – nature is intrinsically and mysteriously flawed is also self-evident.

I could go for my preacher hat straight away and lay some scriptures on you.

But instead I’d like to lead-up to that possibility.

Firstly where does our personal idea of good and bad come from i.e. in our individual experience?

Well – keeping it simple – it comes from our inner knowledge.

We may feel philosophically highfalutin and hold the view that – really good and bad is subjective and there are no absolutes when it comes to the subject.

But then things happen.

Your house is broken into and your possessions stolen, or worse still your house is burnt to the ground.

The person holding the view that good and bad is a subjective thing only, are suddenly flabbergasted by this event.

Rightly offended or devastated by this intrusion and assault upon their sensibilities.

So can we say then that it is universally subjective, i.e. common to us all to feel this response? I think we can.

So it’s not too big a statement to say that we would all feel the same violation in this instance.

Good and bad is more than simply something dependent upon our subjective perspective, but based on what the law reveals to us all.

Even those who reject the law of God, as in the law provided by Jehovah, as in provided by Christ The Lord, have – we are told – a form of the law written within the human psyche.

Romans 2:14-15 King James Version (KJV)

14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

This is something that is inescapable, unless we hold to some kind of nihilistic anarchistic self-destructive philosophy. We cannot escape the sense of right and wrong that we all have.

Now of course in certain things, what is acceptable or not acceptable varies from culture to culture.

But let’s start by acknowledging that there is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in the first place.

And to simplify the whole discussion – I hold to the law of God as revealed in the Old and New Testament. I believe it is the supreme guide for all of mankind.

Those who do not see the Bible as inerrant, have reason to hold the view that certain immoral practices are morally acceptable.

After all who or what has the right to challenge their point of view? If there is no supreme being who makes His will clearly known to mankind and has given a law to inform us of what is acceptable and not?

The Bible is an inerrant divinely inspired pure guide to all behaviour, telling us clearly what is right and what is wrong.

If you want to discuss a particular way of acting or living you consider acceptable i.e. ‘right’, but I find it ‘wrong’ – my reference straight away is to the bible, as I state my case.

But If you do not accept it (the bible) as the perfect guide – there is no need for further discussion. That’s where we disagree.

No need to argue. The bible plainly says it is wrong, but you feel we have somehow moved on from what it says. Whereas I consider it (the bible) inerrant and there is no moving on from it that does not end in disaster for the human race.

The bible is not open to private interpretation, and can’t be twisted to suit our self-created, self-centred preferences when it comes to behaviour.

We all need to understand it better but when it says: ‘you shall not steal’ it means it.

Too simplistic?

No – not when we are looking for a foundation on which to build before we discuss nuances.

If we do not have a starting point, we have only multiple human-dreamt-up preferences described in scripture as:

…but every man did that which was right in his own eyes

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way…

So a world full of everyone doing what is right in their own eyes is confusion personified.

There is a higher revealed order. There is a universal guide found in the world’s best-seller. The so called contradictions man finds in the book, are the result of man’s unaided conclusions as he exalts his own intellect above that of The Most High, and lays aside weightier matters whilst ‘straining at gnats’ with his own ingenuity. (Matthew 23/24)

Thinking himself superior than the divine wisdom revealed in the New Testament.

A call to humility is God’s first requirement. Then we have a chance of change and have a chance of the eyes of our understanding being enlightened.

We read Paul The Apostle, as he starts us on the road to understanding law, in the epistle to the Romans saying: Romans 7/

What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”

So sin exists – it is the universal affliction in the nature of man – and in case we are in any doubt about this – the law keeps us right.

But this is only part of the story of the good news of the gospel. Nevertheless in an increasingly lawless world, it seems man does not want to be corrected, by any kind of law.

But in the governments of all countries there exists an implementation of law, whether they implement the righteous law of God, or what is the dictates of a dreamt up regime that seeks to rule with an iron hand, calling for bondage and servitude to their selfish demands.

Breaking the law of God – and we look for punishment. Sincere confession of having broken the law and The God of all grace is willing to forgive and receive us as sons.

There is good and bad in everyone? Maybe, but perfection? – No.

That’s why the gospel offers us salvation as a free gift, if we acknowledge the scripture: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…

No one escapes the punishment of the law, unless someone else takes their punishment.

Thank you Jesus for taking mine!

‘Corporate Mentality’

‘Corporate mentality’

There’s a world of bloggers out there, as you know. And all kinds of variations regarding levels of involvement.

Some are well and truly ‘clued-in’ on the technical aspects of being part of the internet fraternity. They maximise their noticeability-factor by operating the best ‘business plan’ to do so.

Some read much. Comment much. Post much.

Others, well, their involvement goes up or down the quantity scale of communication.

I’m well down the scale for a number of reasons.

Maybe it’s a generation thing? But I am more interested in lifting a paintbrush to paper, than I am in all the workings of the internet. All the ‘how to’s’ of blog promotion. I may need a proverbial kick-up the backside, as you tell me to ‘keep-up’.

Whilst earning a living in a newspaper office, as a typesetter – I had of course to daily familiarise myself with the latest techno-new-workings, as they applied to page make-up and layouts, typesetting et al.

But now I have moved on from that job, and no longer need to stay abreast of the latest developments.

I choose not to, for no other reason than lack of motivation. It just doesn’t float my boat. I could set myself to once again take an interest, and would even concede that after a kick-start, I would actually find it interesting. But all this takes time – my thought is – too much time. I prefer doing other things.

But with self-imposed limitations, I kind of – only learn and do what I must. Minimal in other words.

I don’t do facebook, I am not on twitter, WhatsApp – never heard of it.😎 (perhaps I should add – pre-kutb)

I don’t use blogging ‘tricks’ to promote, get noticed etc. as much as others do.

So where am I going with all this?

I’m leading up to mentioning the fact that the human race is changing in (perhaps I’m arresting the term) it’s ‘corporate mind-set’. But not for the better. The internet and subsequent new language is only one example, of where things are changing dramatically. 

Yes changes are inevitable, but is change – simply because it is new – automatically worthwhile? I don’t think so.

The digitalisation of the world – some would say – is becoming digitalisation of our brains.

Apart from the whole technical side of the internet – it’s influence upon our lives must also be factored-in when asking questions on the subject of morality.

At times, it would seem, no one, considers that ‘new’ could possibly not be better.

Anything that bucks the trend of any kind of innovation and suggests that perhaps it is retrogressive as opposed to the blind acceptance by many that it is ‘all wonderful’ – because it is new, gets dismissed out of hand, and labelled draconian or victorian.

Unfortunately this logic is applied to morals too. Which is my main point.

So that ‘join the 21st century’ is how others dismiss any suggestion that the world could be going backwards by going forwards into anything and everything the mind of man dreams up.

And so I slide on to moral issues – but slide off again, in the sense of attempting anything in-depth.

As, this short piece is simply to ask the over-excited child in us – if the maturation of our moral-mentality is suffering from stunted growth?

Can we learn that not everything new is good, demonstrated in the violation of unchangeable  moral precepts for new concoctions where the unacceptable now becomes acceptable in the name of progress.

Is there some kind of alien force influencing our minds and rendering us slowly incapable of knowing right from wrong?

There is.

You should have grasped that I do not refer to the need for The Dummies Guide to the Internet – but to the Dummies Guide to Morality.

Another thing is that the ‘success’ of being popular is the yardstick many use to measure whether something is worthwhile or not. We want to go with the crowd.

Mistake.

It’s one thing to wake up to the fact that many are becoming robots – succumbing to the acceptance and dictates of popular unquestioned culture and pseudo morality – it’s another thing to do anything about it.

I of course offer the real gospel of Jesus Christ as the answer. If you can wade your way through certain wrong pre-conceived notions as to what that is – you are on your way to examining the story as it really/truly is – in the bible.

Will we realise that bending the rules that merges into breaking the rules – needs to hit the buffer stop before we begin to put the hell train in reverse?

The scripture says: Romans 12/

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

The renewal of the mind as opposed to zombie acceptance of anything new into your mind, is what is required if we are to see the flood tide of warped mentality halted.

But only Christ can provide the example and the teaching we all need to begin to understand what this renewal is all about.

In a short post – we can only begin the journey of understanding by saying that renewal of the mind comes from spending time with God, and ‘eating’ His thoughts (Bible) so that His mind is in us as a result.

Someone once communicated that non-Christians had accused him of being brain-washed – to which he replied “Ah yes. But I had dirty old brains anyway.”

Where is your mind-set and where is your mind headed (if you’ll pardon the pun)?

Is the baby being thrown out with the bath water when it comes to morality? Is there any real progression in the human races moral-mentality?

The facts speak louder than words if we need convinced we are in steep moral decline.

As I finish writing this, I hear on the news of another disgraceful slaughter of human lives.

Let’s seek that moral and mental renewal that comes from Christ alone.

Encouragement…

ENCOURAGEMENT 

Everybody likes to be encouraged.

The Christian message contains much encouragement .

But the present reality in the Western world, of a falling away from God and His ways is blatantly obvious, as predicted in scripture.

There has been moral decline before – in history. So for those who don’t hold to the idea of this being the last of the last days – they can at least admit that confusion and every evil work is increasing on the earth?

Many ministries dwell solely on everything encouraging in the Word of God. And it is difficult not to – as we all need encouragement, and perhaps don’t get enough of it, especially in light of the moral climate worldwide.

We are to seek edification and to edify each other – it is what the family of God is all about.

Some cultures seem to look for the emotional high aspect of fellowship/friendship more than others. There is the emotional high expressed demonstratively – shall we say.

Then there are ‘quieter’ cultures who place more emphasis on the friendship that is demonstrated by quiet faithfulness in always being there for one another.

We all need verbal appreciation from others, starting at childhood. But we also need the helping hand that doesn’t make a song-and-dance about it’s actions.

Some Christian ministries avoid any reference to anything negative.

When the child is about to put it’s hand in the open coal fire – a warning shout of love is absolutely necessary. Even though the warning may sound shrill.

Any warning shouts of love, that include the gospel message, society needs to hear today is often not appreciated.

Of course it can be said that there are those who carry a negative ‘holier than thou’ attitude and it turns people off, when these folks hand out correction.

But the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction to the point where there is less exhortation to improvement in our walk with God.

No growth required, no correction, no call in preaching to increase Christ-likeness presented in teaching as something to be sought after as part of what being a Christian is all about. Just stroke our ‘ego’ and we shall be alright.

God’s Word would call us to balance.

Encouragement should be looked for on a broader basis than one that can only hear ‘you can make it’ ‘you are special’ and ‘you are loved’.

Lord help us to seek a closer walk with you, that is not dependant on the constant verbal propping-up that others supply, but at the same time embraces demonstrative encouragement and empathy, needed,  when we go through the valleys of despondency or discouragement.

Paul tells us that ‘no man stood with me’ (II Timothy 4/16-17), yet The Lord did. Revealing that he was a mature saint, setting us an example to follow, in making Christ our all in all, and all we need.

So let us maintain the balance between receiving encouragement from each other, and directly from The Lord Himself.- taking on board Paul’s advice to Timothy:

I Timothy 1/

Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.

Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:

To know…

TO KNOW…

Luke 10/

22 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

There are people out there searching.

Some know what they are searching for – others do not.

Some have a clear idea that the spiritual is real, and choose to examine or study comparative religions.

Some seek spiritual experiences through drugs. Some become fascinated with anything that ‘amazes’ in the category of magic.

Others have a philosophical turn of mind and move from one manifesto to another in a search for conclusions about life and the afterlife.

Some swing towards the highly emotional, while others lean on the intellect.

My search ended at my bedside, at the age of twenty, where in brokenness I found Jesus Christ through the Person of The Holy Spirit.

The experience was tangibly real and unmistakeable.

Many have similarly become Christians through such an experience. Normally referred to as ‘being born again’.

Experience-oriented confessions, can lend themselves to criticism, if they are not based on the result of a solid and inerrant examination by the microscope belonging to The King of kings and Lord of lords.

The Bible is a collection of writings that exist as a result of God and man co-operating, in which co-operation – God took the initiative.

Everything in the realm of spiritual experience for the Christian, must be scrutinised by this Word of God. There is much we could say about this.

Some Christians have not experienced The Holy Spirit in the same way as other Christians, more accurately stated as: ‘not as intensely’.

But at the same time all may genuinely belong to Christ. 

So when we say ‘experienced’, even in this we are in for misunderstanding, among other fellow believers. It’s easy to misunderstand each other when referring to or sharing our own subjective reality.

Those who have genuinely experienced God in their life, can find themselves in unsought conflict with other believers who have not had a similar powerful experience.

Truth is – unless we experience the anointing of God in a ‘Pentecostal’ way (not referring to denominational preference by the term)  chances are – we will treat with suspicion, anything or anyone who speaks in ‘Pentecostal’ jargon, or who seem to emphasise the supernatural.

I often use the illustration of the the swimming instructor who teaches others how to swim from a manual of instruction, written by an olympic champion/expert.

As a result others learn to swim as he stands at the side of the pool shouting expert instructions on how best to learn.

Only to eventually be exposed as not being actually able to swim experientially himself.

Suddenly at the end of the course the now – swimming pupils know by experience – more than the instructor. 

If we do not experience the experience experienced by the one with the experience – how can we really affirm it’s authenticity?😎

Answer – if it’s in the Word of God – then we at least must give them the benefit of the doubt.

As Christians, we mature and grow if we worship in SPIRIT and TRUTH – these (i.e. spirit and truth) must be inseparable if we are to progress and be transformed from glory to glory, as by The Spirit of God – which works to make us more like the Altogether Lovely One we serve! (II Corinthians 3/18)

‘No one has it all!’ – is a saying I have heard over the years. And it is true both intellectually and experientially. There is always more to be revealed from holy writ, and there is always more to receive from the moving of The Holy Spirit in our lives as believers.

We aught to learn from each other, holding firm to what we have been assured of, and at the same time, remaining open to the revelation other believers have received.

Referring to our opening scripture we read:-

and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

The Son of God, makes a choice and reveals The Father by revelation of The Holy Spirit.

Every time we commune with God, there is an opportunity for the eyes of our understanding to be enlightened further.

Opportunity to have a greater spiritual experience of getting to know our Heavenly Father through His Son.

The level of intensity varies. But He is our Life. We need him now. We shall know Him fully in the afterlife.

God is love – but we must embrace that love, acting on the promises of God. Draw near to me and I will draw near to you! (James 4/8)

Proper Denial

PROPER DENIAL

There is a reluctance within us, that all of us, can claim to have. A reluctance to warm towards anything that calls for a dying-to-ourselves.

Jesus calls men and women to deny themselves and ‘take up their cross daily’ (Luke 9/23).

A rich young man came to Him one-time.

Matthew 19/21 Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”

To help us with this godly ‘tall order’ (for such humans as we), let’s highlight the positives first of all. Jesus looks at us (as He did this man), and loves us.

Secondly he gave this young man clear instructions as to what he had to deny and forsake – within himself.

He had a love for money, more than a love for God. We are told that – not money, – but the love of money is the root of all evil. (I Timothy 6/10)

Escaping from an evil heart, escaping from this love of money, the young man was unable to do, and we know this greatly saddened him, and no doubt saddened the saviour of men, who has the ability to put His finger right on the idols of our hearts.

The man might have asked ‘how to do’ – what he was asked to do, but he didn’t.

As I write these words – I examine myself to ask what it is I still put-before loving God?

Even with a heart full of gratitude for all the experiences I have had over the years, where intimacy with Christ came as a gift from Him, I realise how easy it is to take steps away rather than towards Him.

It’s easy to prefer the temporal things of this world’s distraction, in a nutshell: ‘it comes naturally’.

Regarding the call of God to walk away from the distractions, lift the cross, and take the burden whilst pushing through to the presence of God – I realise is challenged by the self-life that will always prefer the alternative to doing this.

The Cross of Christ is all about letting go the temporal. It’s all about giving-in to The Father. It’s all about exercising faith and consequently denying self, in order to obtain the greater riches of spiritual experience and the love of God.

The third benefit offered to the young man – was treasure in heaven – or better put – heavenly treasure (19/21) –  which can start now in our experience of seeking first the kingdom of God. (Matthew 6/33)

But we must recognise that this does not come naturally but spiritually.

Unless faith is involved in the exercise of self-denial it can lead to a substitute for self-denial, and self is all the more accommodated and enthroned in our lives. This is a subtle one. Many do not detect the difference.

But Paul refers to it in Colossians 2/23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

Self-indulgence is a thing of the fallen nature we live in. From that same nature can come a ‘form’ of self-denial, a pseudo self-denial if you like.

Notice what seems right in self-imposed religion is not true self-denial through faith, because the result as Paul explains has no value against the indulgence of the flesh, (the sinful nature) because it can engender pride and superiority through asceticism, which only adds to the glorification of self.

It is by attending to matters of devotion and prayer, that the ability to leave behind the distracting things of the self-life is strengthened. Strengthening the inner man.

Many engage in ascetic practices, but step into the spiritual-‘unknown’ and leave themselves open to uncharted territory.

They have no experience of Christ in their life through faith, so seek spirituality in their own self-life, by all kinds of practices of self-inflicted punishment. Self denial is not an end in itself.

We need a perfect guide book, to keep us right. The Bible – The Word of God is that guide book.

In it we hear the Son of God calling us to forsake all and follow him (Luke 14/32-4). At the same time we can hear the voice of self telling us not to bother.

As we go to Him and enter into a fresh relationship with Him, we are more able to walk away from – and therefore deny – the selfishness resident within each one of us.

Heading for the new land

headed for the new land

HEADING FOR THE NEW LAND

When I painted this piece – I found the subject suggesting itself, as the painting progressed.

This is usually how it works for me.

It’s an exception as I rarely set out to paint a biblical subject or truth.

But I came across the painting again (it is no longer in my possession and I have forgotten who bought it).

I was consequently reminded and reflected on the fact that I am heading for a new ‘land’.

The heaven of heavens is my destination through no merits of my own – rather because of the fact that, admitting I had no merits – led eventually to finding great grace and acceptance in Christ.

Because of what I have experienced of the heavenly sphere (already) down here in this lower sphere, I believe and therefore I speak.

II Corinthians 4/

13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, 14 knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you.

I will be raised up passing from this land to the ‘new land’. Who told me that? The person who gave the words as just quoted.

The painting which of course is metaphorical shows horses being changed from flesh to spirit. 

They enter speedily into a land of light, and en route they pass a tree of life. No one can fully and completely enter the light before entering eternal life, represented by the tree.

A tree of life that in Scripture was guarded to prevent man from remaining eternally in sin.

Genesis 3/22

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.

24 …and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

The tree of crucifixion dealt with the sin problem. Allowing man to partake of the other tree and gain eternal salvation and life through Christ.

There is no sword in the painting – to prevent the entrance to eternal life.

The painting is of course in watercolour – still a fresh and beautiful medium. Just like the gospel message.

Selah.