Category Archives: word in season

The preacher…

THE PREACHER MAN

An artist – a painter, is not known for one of his paintings, but known for the accumulative effect of his life’s work. That’s why we have retrospective exhibitions.

Likewise he who is instructed in the things of the kingdom of God brings forth old things and new – to represent the whole counsel of God. (Matthew 13/52)

So in a sense the preacher who is so instructed, doesn’t have one sermon to share on a given Sunday morning – but has the sum total of his experience with the Lord to offer to anyone who is hungry for spiritual reality.

What a joy it is to find people who are hungry to hear and learn and know by experience – this wonderful Word of this Wonderful God.

To varying degrees Christians realise their need to ‘eat’ this Word. And usually those who eat little – are those who live by ‘bread alone’ Whereas man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4/4)

Some sought Jesus because he could whip up a good meal, others sought Him because He alone – had the words of ETERNAL LIFE. (John 6/68)

So the preacher must be ready to give what he feels is the specific for the morning, but be ready to go somewhere else as he ‘rummages’ through the treasury God has put in his heart.

What the listeners must do is shut out every other voice but the voice of The Holy Spirit who can apply the word in ways the preacher is unaware of.

Dry Bread?

DRY BREAD?

‘Dry bread’ – can be a metaphorical description of something that is not appetising.

We read a blog, a book, an email, a news item, and it seems dry to us – consequently we remain ‘unfed’.

But then in favour of the communicator –  ‘you can please some of the people some of the time but not all etc…’

Dry bread for one person however, can be a happy meal for another.

And that’s why pleasing: ‘all of the people all of the time…’ is an impossibility. Because the meal/message  will be ‘dry bread’ to some.

In the Old Testament the people of God, collected fresh manna (food) each day.

But to them it became stale, even though it wasn’t.

And so staleness can be in the people – not in the food.

Stale people spiritually – do not respond to fresh spiritual bread. It doesn’t appeal. It isn’t appetising because their palette is not sympathetic to it.

Their palette is corrupted. It’s like salt …’but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men’.

(To slightly arrest the scripture) To those who have no taste for it, the food has lost it’s savour.

But the food has not lost it’s flavour/savour – instead the palette of those who are offered the food, can be non-appreciative.

[We see this in Numbers 11/4-6]

This is an illustration of the truth we find in…

I Corinthians 2/14

…the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

To be able to get the natural man who has no taste for the things of Jesus Christ, – to stop, listen, learn, and respond is impossible. Unless – unless – God touches their heart and mind.

For those who want God to touch them. They must deny their natural appetite (as in earthly thinking) and put themselves in a place where God has their time and attention. It is called prayer and bible meditation.

In that place – low and behold – spiritual food becomes an acquired taste.

In which place, He (God), will eventually serve-up a spiritual meal.

Such folks entering into real prayer will suddenly find the things of God extremely appetising – and such a meal, will change their whole life.

It may not happen straight away – but with patience it will happen. (See also Luke 5/39).

Oh, TASTE AND SEE that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

(Psalm 34)

Wilderness

WILDERNESS

Matthew

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said…

There are different things to be said about a wilderness. Though not completely synonymous with a desert – nonetheless I think of miles of undulating untarnished sand, when I think of a wilderness, as by my own definition.

[NB: wildernesses are probably more rugged than what I have in mind cpr. Wilderness of Judea etc.]

In one sense a wilderness can be a beautiful place. However with no water to drink – a nightmare scenario.

Jesus went there as led by The Holy Spirit. Led by God The Holy Spirit – Jesus the man however encountered another spirit in that wilderness.

That other spirit 1) came to Him 2) took Him somewhere and 3) spoke to Him.

Came to him more than once in His state of fasting, and no doubt more than once throughout His life on earth.

Jesus was tempted like any other man.

Hebrews 4/

15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

That temptation came, in the form of words from that other spirit. Jesus dealt with the words with Words. His much more powerful Word of Truth dispelled the words of deceit that came from the fallen angel.

When we are told that the devil ‘took Him’. This is a description of what it is to be tempted – the thoughts he subsequently suggested were sinful – the thought to go to the Holy city or the high mountain were not sinful. The Christ allowed this. Just as He allowed the demons to enter the pigs/swine. (Matthew 8/31)

In all of this wilderness experience, Jesus emerged triumphant having held to His shield of Faith and the sword of the Holy Spirit which is the Word of God.

Let’s do the same in 2021.

Neutral zone?

Neutral zone?

This lockdown experience can ‘slow-torture’ our lives into neutral zone.

Neutral zone as in shelving all our endeavours into ‘suspended animation’.

That could sound slightly peppered with the idea of despair. (?)

If we take our example from one of the fathers of the faith it’s a case of – far from it!

Paul the apostle gives us insight into his humanity, but also his triumphal experience as a born again Christian, coming as it does through faith.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

He tells us of trouble and perplexity but without despair.

So a 24/7 joyous trouble-less high is not what being a Christian entails.

It does of course firstly entail matters of life or death before it is a whole pile of other things.

‘Where and how shall I spend eternity?’ Is usually a foundational question when examining the Christian faith.

No despair, Paul the apostle indicates in the above verses.

Reason? Because we are never forsaken. 

It is the unforsaken-ness that gives the Christian the strength and sustaining solace they need regardless of the situation, they might find themselves in. God is with us (Emmanuel) always, even to the end and further.

However I must admit to a certain neutral dwelling zone that I can drift in and out of. What about you? 

I examine this – in order to come to fresh conclusions.

Conclusions that will spur me on to lay hold, more firmly, upon eternal life again.

I Timothy 6/12

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life…

Disillusionment knocks at the door, in light of the chaos abroad.

With no immediate change, or with prolonged sameness, can come disillusionment.

But there is no disillusionment when it comes to the things of God, they are constant.

As the old hymn says: “All may change but Jesus never – Glory to His name!”

Shaking off disillusionment, like Paul did – with the serpent into the fire. (Acts 28/4-6)

Nevertheless I must admit to missing, gathering with, God’s people and lifting the roof in praise. And I mean really lifting the roof!

As far as I am concerned all the clever-most technology will never substitute for human beings – being together ‘in the flesh’, but the great thing and advantage Christians have is being together ‘in the Spirit’.

If that was not the case, being in the flesh as in gathering physically together, would be of little consequence.

What a blessing to be both together in each others company and to worship in ‘spirit and truth’ at the same time.

Meantime, we’ve been doing Zoom. We edify and exhort one another. I’m sure you too are tapping into some online expression of church life?

Depending on the changing shifts of covid-safe rules, we can gather together as church, in a limited way.

In all of this invisible attack (virus), on our world – the question that is exchanged between non-Christian and Christian persons alike, is: ‘What is this achieving – why is it happening – what’s the cause, what’s the point etc.?’ Or something similarly expressed.

What ‘it’ (the pandemic) is supposed to do – as with all trials and tribulations we encounter as human beings – is to cause us to fall on God.

Luke 20/

18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken and shattered in pieces; and on whomever it falls, it will crush him.”

There is a brokenness that accompanies humility where the failures of our own efforts and the empathetic hand of God meet, as we fall at His feet in prayer. Falling ON the Rock Christ Jesus. There is coming a terrible day when the Rock Christ Jesus will fall ON all ungodliness.

But many do not recognise The Rock upon which we must fall.

Romans 9/33

As it is written and forever remains written, “Behold I am laying in Zion a Stone of stumbling and a Rock of offence; And he who believes in Him [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] will not be disappointed [in his expectations].”

One of the ways the God of the Bible is a stumbling stone to many is – expressed in the old chestnut: “Why does God allow these things?” (Pandemics)

So they stumble in unbelief (through skewed reasoning).

Whereas whoever trusts in Christ will not be disappointed now and in the long term, especially in the long term.

The way of Christ is in total contradistinction to the other spirit that dominates human beings. He hates anything to do with Christ. He is the antichrist spirit.

Christ is a rock of offence to him, and to those opposed to the gospel.

But he who believes in Jesus Christ the Son of God, will not be disappointed with Him.

Like everyone else I am disappointed in how things are in this world at the moment. An understatement don’t you think?

But I am not disappointed with Christ.

But here is my abrupt end to this post – Christian out there, what is God saying to us? 

How does He want us to respond to this pandemic and the state of affairs we find ourselves in?

One thing is for sure our God-dependancy increases with the weakening effect and lack of answers this pandemic has produced.

Who out there will turn to Christ in acknowledgement of how inadequate we still are in the 21st century?

Does this virus not clearly expose the weakness of mankind, and knock him off any self-satisfied or ‘smugness perch’?

Our need of God is self-evident, brought home by things such as this pandemic.

Nevertheless mankind will continue to look for answers through his own ingenuity – until the next humbling event hits the earth.

Give me ingenuity for vaccine finding – but with the big big plus – of welcoming individually, the Presence and Person of Christ in this lost and dying world.

Tendencies

TENDENCIES

I recently found myself agreeing with a Christian Radio host when he said that some believers in Christ tend towards the emotional and some towards the cerebral.

How true – and usually we look next, for some label to differentiate the two.

* The obvious one that comes to mind are the labels Pentecostal or charismatic and evangelical/theological or liberal.

Much as I like the one label for all (Christian), – in reality we are all influenced by these labels*, in forming a ‘picture’ of what different Christian folks are like and what they believe or major on.

This labelling of course is in flux – as everyone searches for a name to crystallise what they believe in, or stand for. So new ones emerge through time.

Spiritual experiences – as in experiencing the Holy Spirit – is not synonymous with emotionalism.

Deep theological thought is not synonymous with no experience of The Holy Spirit.

Someone has put it this way – (speaking metaphorically) too much emphasis on the power of God and we blow up. Too much emphasis on The Word of God and we dry up – but the Spirit and the Word and we grow up.

Paul the apostle had great intellectual ability, but he was first to admit how limited and insufficient this was when it came to spiritual matters.

Philippians 3:

though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:

I Corinthians 2/11

…Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.

Galatians 1/

12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Spiritual discernment is not emotionalism. Nevertheless when God moves in power you can be sure your emotions will give great response.

As we refrain from leaning on our own understanding and ask God for His enabling Holy Spirit – let’s not limit what He can do, by knowledge uninspired by God Himself.

Don’t allow or use theological knowledge to limit or direct God to fit into our understanding about what He must and must not do.

Conversely when God meets with us in a powerful way – don’t drift into trying to reproduce such a wonderful experience by soulish imitation.

The narrow way leads to life.

Lord help us.

On Fire

ON FIRE

[This is not a biblical study of the fire of God, of which there is much to say, but rather a reference to a turn of phrase commonly used in Christian circles]

Christians are familiar with the expression: ‘On Fire for God’.

Certainly in my youth I would have seen myself as being ‘On Fire for God’ (and by God’s grace – I was).

This fire was accompanied by perceived necessary zeal that went with it.

There is no doubt we are more idealistic in our younger years.

So – fire + zeal + idealism – makes for a potent positive concoction.

I remember well, how we took to the streets to spread the gospel. Great days!

I pause, because years ago, we were told of the older generation reminiscing in spiritual nostalgia about the ‘good ol’ days’. ‘Things were better then etc.’… Followed by the question: “But what about now?”

Paul’s exhortation to “forget those things which are behind…” usually came in the midst of verbal advice to stop basking in the past and press towards the mark for the future prize.

“Don’t think of being ‘on fire’ in the past tense – make sure you are on fire now!”

Well – am I? Are we?

There is no doubt in my mind that there are seasons in God. And if I compare myself in this present season – with seasons of the past – I can drift into discouragement, as a result of reflecting too much on great former seasons of the manifest presence of God.

However I am reminded:

17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:

18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Such a season is not necessarily of our own making. And v18 – tells us the response we should make.

As I sit writing this piece, I have the thought that there is nothing to add.

Honesty to the rescue!

I always try to  be absolutely honest with The Lord in prayer.

Matthew 6:7-8

And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.

“Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:…

So with a heart that wants to be on fire, and zealous for the Lord, and hopes it still is. Here’s my prayer – [care to join me?]

“Lord I’m not the youthful ‘zealot’ anymore – but my heart still longs to please you. Forgive me for any shortcomings and let me burn with your fire…” Amen

Marvellous

Galatians 1/

6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.

Paul the apostle, former rejector of Christ, now ardent follower – is speaking here, under God’s inspiration, in this passage of scripture.

And guess what?

He is marvelling.

Have you or I ever marvelled – ?

All kinds of things can cause us to marvel. Some good, some bad. Sometimes the things little children say can have that effect.

Like the time my middle daughter at the age of three or so – asked a friend of ours who was visiting with us, why his skin was so dark? 

Fortunately as a gracious Christian – his answer was gracious – and he (with a twinkle in his eye) informed her that God had just left him in the oven that bit longer than her 😇.

Being present to witness the miracles of Christ or to hear His words – caused many to marvel.

I can truly say I marvel that God in Christ can accept me and bestow love upon me.

3 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! 

A child of God – who me?

I don’t have to look far – to realise that in myself there is nothing that warrants acceptance by God, in light of the fact that His nature is so completely different than the one I was born with.

His divine nature described as follows:

…He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.

His unapproachable light – in whom there is no darkness at all – speaks of His absolute uncontaminated purity, and holiness.

 Enter yours truly – along with the rest of the human race and you have the complete opposite.

All boasting of any righteousness of our own is excluded – and the thing we need to marvel at is THE GRACE OF GOD!

His marvellous unmerited favour – He is willing to bestow on every sinner – Paul marvels here (Gal. 1/6) at the foolishness of not receiving and remaining in that grace – as was the case with the Galatian believers.

God imparts Himself to those who are willing to give their lives up to Christ. He favours us for this reason alone. We seek Him, call upon Him in prayer and ask for that unmerited favour, turning from sinful behaviour.

On sincerely doing so, He comes to us and The Holy Spirit imparts something wonderful and supernatural to us. That is why He is described in the following way as-

…the Spirit of grace…

Strangely enough this tail end of a verse of scripture is in a negative context, which doesn’t serve my purpose here. I simply want to make the point that The Holy Spirit of the Living God comes to us to impart this marvellous Grace that brings forgiveness of sins and fellowship with God. He is the Spirit of Grace’.

But it doesn’t end there. He as The Holy Spirit of Grace is present 24/7 to continuously remind us that we are accepted by God and loved by Him.

This is motivational and we enter more and more into fellowship as we keep coming on the basis of the bestowal of His unmerited favour. So that we can be continuously forgiven and accepted on the merits of Christ and not our own faltering failing nature.

In so doing 24/7 the faltering failing sinful nature is subdued and kept ‘under’ as we enjoy life and life more abundantly in Christ.

This is MARVELLOUS – or in the words of the hymn this is – AMAZING Grace!

Rich or Poor

RICH OR POOR

Mankind is struggling – to say the least or to put it mildly.

Those who are set on a course of money-making find solace if each deal is going well, or many are purchasing their product.

They are happy with the success that brings a monetary reward.

The Bible says (amongst many) – two things worth mentioning:

Psalm 62

If riches increase,

Do not set your heart on them.

I Timothy 6/

17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share…

Notice the heart is set on riches, and therefore they are trusting in riches – this gives solace and a sense of ‘all is well’ drawn from their success, measured by monetary increase.

Struck down by a virus might shake their confidence.

A strange virus comes along – and things are not working out as lucratively for many reasons. Now that person or persons is suddenly programmed to be not doing so well.

We all live for various things that seem to make life and living worthwhile.

A lot of these things are good and wholesome and many are not.

I pulled riches out of the hat as only one example of what brings satisfaction to many.

We learn from scripture that it is not riches that can cause problems – it is the love of them.

I Timothy 6/

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Riches are uncertain in an uncertain world, and cannot provide ultimate contentment all the way to the grave, where they end.

However –

1 Timothy 6:6

…godliness with contentment is great gain.

So putting these points together we have – those who trust in money, set their hearts and minds on it above other things, and all their affection (love) is reserved for all things monetary.

Now it’s all very well to point out these ‘financial trespasses’ but if you do not know where your next meal is coming from, or you are about to be  evicted from your home because of financial difficulties – suddenly money becomes a preoccupation.

It does not pre-occupy your heart and mind because you have plenty of it – but rather because you have next to none. Survival therefore becomes your priority, and no doubt that of your family.

So for entirely different reasons the heart is set on finance.

Don’t set your heart on riches or finance is justifiably an exhortation to those who are greedy and who will not lift a finger to help the less fortunate.

But what of those who have very little money?

Well, difficult, in such circumstances, as it may seem – setting our minds and hearts on The Living God in the Person of The Lord Jesus Christ – is an anchor for the soul. 

So that regardless of what befalls us – we open the door to God’s deliverance as we trust in Him.

For the rich or poor – the call of God is the same –

Proverbs 3/

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;

Psalm 37

2I have been young, and now am old;

Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken,

Nor his descendants begging bread.

26 He is ever merciful, and lends;

And his descendants are blessed.

God will not forsake those who trust in Him – even though it takes a lot to stay focussed during lean times. 

But we are told that keeping our soul healthy before God through faith in Jesus the Saviour, will give God the opportunity to work in His own mysterious way, to prosper us according to His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus.

3 John 1-3

To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth:

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.3 For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth.

Phil. 4/

19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Frustration

FRUSTRATION

Frustration – a common experience to all – in all walks of life.

Frustration occurs in different contexts.

Waiting on a shop to open – twenty minutes past it’s official opening time. A feeling of frustration.

The repeated bad habit of someone else, that effects you adversely – but which they seem to constantly repeat when in your presence. A feeling of frustration.

People telling you they will do something – which they repeatedly fail to do. A feeling of frustration.

A person you have hired to do a job and they keep postponing to another day. When the day comes – they postpone again. A feeling of frustration.

Someone in a car in front of you – who dilly-dally’s – at 20 miles an hour in a forty mile zone. A feeling of frustration.

When a flea – yes a flea – you know those things you rarely get but expose their presence when that itch starts and the lump appears – you want to get that flea out into the open to end it’s life. (Do they still exist? 😊)

So we need to get those thoughts of frustration out into the open and…

Regardless of the problem that causes frustration – often it has a devil on it’s back.

So trace and destroy. Really know what it is that is causing the frustration and take God’s remedy for it.

For the Christian it is turning to the Word of God and

letting… 

Colossians 2/

5 …this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…

We are called to constantly give way to God The Holy Spirit as we appropriate His mind found in His Word. His thoughts kill frustration. Back in the day when people dropped ‘acid’. It was a common exhortation from Christian to Christian – ‘hey man drop some Matthew, Mark Luke or John’.

That takes care of your woes!

Job tells us…

Job 23/

12 Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

Frustration is an emotion, but commonly besets us all. It is having the presence of mind to draw upon The One who supplies all our need through His life-giving, frustration-destroying Word.

Philippians 4/

19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

20 Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Spiritual Attributes

SPIRITUAL ATTRIBUTES

I Corinthians 16/

13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done with love.

To the unbeliever the words of this verse from the Bible may as well be in a foreign language.

They probably could make something of it. But within the confines of their own natural experience of life.

Firstly – all words in scripture are given by God – in that He is inspiring and influencing and empowering the person who is penning the Word(s) – and they are not describing natural experience(s) but spiritual.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

And if you have not had the spiritual experience of encountering The Living God – then the words can only be interpreted with the natural mind and in reference to common-to-man experiences.

For instance: ‘stand fast in…faith’ (leaving God out of the equation) could be wrongly interpreted as simply ‘don’t give up’.

Everyone knows they shouldn’t ‘give up – but rather – see-the-thing-through’. Whatever the ‘thing’, or exercise is, in which they are engaged.

That is natural ‘faith’, faith in yourself, stickability, natural empowerment and so on. Same with the other words, – brave, strong, love.

But it isn’t the faith spoken of here. It isn’t the strength spoken of here. It isn’t the courage spoken of here. And it isn’t the love spoken of here.

In simple terms it refers to faith in Christ Jesus. Kind of obvious right? When the whole bible is an exhortation to believe in God.

He, if we truly know Him, supplies the enablement necessary to maintain these attributes in our lives.

Of course we can all, (with self-effort), be strong, brave, have self-belief, and have loving feelings, Christian or non-Christian.

But the difference is – the existence of a relationship with God.

So the question is – What or who is the source of our strength? Is it natural or spiritual?

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Paul clearly knew the source of his strength, clearly stated in the above verse. And perhaps like no one else in the New Testament apart from The Saviour Himself, Paul needed that strength to see him through the hardships he suffered as an apostle.

Christ is the source and supply of all the Godly attributes we need in our lives, appropriated by faith and supplied by the supernatural enhancement of The Holy Spirit.

Some know of this. Many don’t. Comprehending or accepting what I speak of – is not the result of philosophical argument-winning or convincing, but rather is the result of encountering God.

I Corinthians 2/

…5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

The right one?

THE RIGHT ONE?

Think of all the personalities in this world. All the personalities on social media. All the multitudes full of diversity and differences of opinion. All the different cultural backgrounds. All the varying needs, the rich, the poor, the man-made labels of lower, middle and upper classes. The age groups with youthful ambition, hard-nosed business men, older entrepreneurs with their individual ‘empires’.

Think of the crime syndicates, think of the secret organisations, the money pedlars, the inner city crime scenes, gang culture and warfare. Think of the pimps and prostitutes. Think of the elite – the millionaires and billionaires, the movie stars and pop stars.

Think of the dictators, the communist regimes, mis-used democracy, the politics of power and position-seeking, the judicial systems that differ throughout the world.

And so we could go on trying to describe the world in which we live – humanity-wise.

And then there is the description that perhaps fits you and I (?).

It is a term that I think originated in North America – the descriptive term is: ‘average joe’.

I’m not from the USA, but the term sounds like it fits most of us in the Western Hemisphere.

But ‘average Joe’ will also fit in somewhere in the list I started this post with.

Enter stage left – the Christian gospel.

Stating the obvious, the Christian gospel is sent to mankind. Think mankind – and then look again at my list.

How will this gospel sit with those who fit the above categories?

And then factor-in the fact that the onlooker can be forgiven for thinking that in fact there is more than one ‘gospel’.

Think of the observer, the outsider, the ones not involved in Christianity – and listen as they express their confusion over what Christianity is all about.

Just as individual Christians have individual personalities. So churches and church organisations seem to vary immensely to the ‘average Joe’ outsider, in their corporate ‘personalities’. The average Joe who is not involved in it all.

Terms and name tags are bandied about by Christians as they label their own particular ‘tribe.’

The outsider concludes – “But which church is the right one?”

Rather than pursue it – they decides to refuse it.

Giving it a little of his/her time they roughly peruse what immediately hits them. The showcase presentation on social media, websites, Facebook, YouTube, T.V. etc.

They perhaps haven’t the time to enter into a deeper examination of the warp and woof of a particular ‘brand’, they happen to have come across, via google search.

What are we to do if we are to navigate our way to the right church? 

Navigating our way to the church that is right – and thankfully there will be more than one. But unfortunately in some cases – there may not be one near you.

What are we to do when even Christians need to examine each individual group of believers to see if they are ‘sound’, ‘the real McCoy’, and are not as we say in my culture – ‘one stick short of a bundle?’

Well – let’s stop right there, and state that there is no escape from going to the gospel as an individual personality, firstly and foremostly. It’s meant to be that way.

The message is to the individual, before we get to what corporate body of people we should attach ourselves to.

Salvation is about the human heart finding the Only Living and true God.

A corporate body of people who claim to be Christian, or who describe themselves with the Christian label are not automatically the real McCoy, just because the ‘christian’ label is built-in to their PR description.

So individual, who is perhaps somewhere in my initial list above – get that bible open and get reading Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – the four gospels.

Steep yourself in it and hear the message, as you talk to God at the same time.

It is sent firstly and foremostly to you, with divine love from Jesus Christ The Lord of heaven and earth.

Understand that He too ‘can’t believe’ some of the shenanigans His people get up to. Matt. 13/58, 17/17. Mark 6/6, 16/14.

He is flabbergasted by the unbelief (from which all misbehaviour stems), that even those who believe get up to.

He has experienced this from the beginning when He recruited the twelve disciples. But yet, He fully invited them on board without reservation.

Whoever comes to Him they were told, He would never cast out, and He promised to be with them always.

Yep – you heard it right – the believers can do unbelievable things, because you see when we come to Christ and find His acceptance and promise of eternal life, we have only began a journey.

Having believed on Christ as Lord, we still have many areas God has to work on, to bring change. And you might encounter some area in a person, or in the personality of a church – that still needs altered, changed, or overhauled drastically.

You are not to be put off by this, because Christ came to build His church, mature His church, cleanse His church, revive His church, and it doesn’t all happen overnight.

In the words of the song: ‘I owe you some kind of an apology.’

Christians owe the world an apology for the fact that the church universal, is so imperfect in behaviour.

Whereas the world owes God an apology for its rejection of Him.

But of course the church is made up of people who needed a saviour, in the first place, and who haven’t, and never will, stop NEEDING Him to perfect them.

Having found The Saviour, they now need Him to increase their faith more and more, so that they will not disappoint you (unconvinced unbeliever) – with their shortcomings, and areas of remaining unbelief, in the midst of their established faith.

Unbelief is the second original sin, (mankind) the first was self-absorption and pride, resulting in rebellion (the devil).

Mark 9/

Listen to the man (average Joe?) in great need:

23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” 

24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I BELIEVE; HELP MY UNBELIEF!”

Another Gospel?

ANOTHER GOSPEL? 

There are seemingly quite a few who are offering us – a more updated version of Christianity.

Challenging some of the fundamentals of the faith – confusing the fundamentals with the newly re-contextualised fundamentalism label.

Because there exists dogmatic Pharisees who want everything conformed to their image – they assume that those who hold fast to that which is good, has been good, and always will be good, are dead traditionalists/‘fundamentalists’.

…Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

That which is good is the articles of faith – long established and present in many Christian churches, from which we are never meant to depart, as per the charge of the gospel of Christ.

Those searching for a broader outlook. Those searching for a so-called more ‘enlightened’ approach – are apt to use the fact that we all cannot know all mysteries, and therefore this is a reason to alter, annul and eventually dismiss what is sound and cannot change, and has been established for centuries.

They do this act of watering down – in the name of tolerance, open-mindedness, and all-embracing love. And consider it theological progress.

The result is that they see so many sides to things that nothing ever becomes sure. But at least they reason we can ‘all get along’.

Soon they lead us to the ‘many roads to God approach’ – again in the name of tolerance and being nice.

And then slowly but surely we are meant to embrace every religion under the sun, in the name of tolerance and understanding of how the other half lives. As we partake of the ecumenical soup.

Jesus Christ is the Son of God. There is no other name under heaven whereby we can be saved and delivered from this corrupt generation. The God of the bible is called Jehovah and His son Jesus Christ The Lord. There is a heaven and there is a hell.

Pretty straightforward and dogmatic – but absolutely true.

To hold to this does not automatically make me an intolerant bigot, out to be rude and denigrate everyone who thinks differently.

The latest truth being tampered with – is the fact that there is a hell, there is a Gehenna.

Some so called ‘progressives’ consider the best way to get rid of hell is not to believe in it.

That way everyone is ok and marching to the promised land of heaven, regardless of what they believe or what lifestyle they practice or what god they serve.

Pan-everything-ism is the new (no, not really new – just rehashed) ‘enlightened’ way, they would have us believe.

And when someone makes a statement like my last paragraph they are perceived as dogmatic stick-in-the-mud fundamentalists who want to condemn everyone to hell. However there is only One who has the power/right/authority to do so –

Jesus said:

Luke 12:5

But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!

I believe in enlightenment/inspiration, or better put, revelation – but within the guidelines and confines of The Holy Bible.

As a painter/poet/preacher ‘etc’. I like to think I have some imagination. And I am open-minded enough to at least listen to those who have another slant on things other than my own.

I’m aware of dogmatism out of a heart bound-up with bitterness in the name of religion.

I’m aware that there are those who stand with Christ in doctrine, but with the devil in attitude.

But I’m also aware that there is such a thing as truth and error.

The bible is full of warnings (do a study on it – see how many you can find).

If there is no need to warn God’s true people – then there are no dangers.

Here’s a tip – Go for ‘sincere’ in people – rather than ‘nice’. And go for the bible and what it says even more than the preaching of it.

By that I mean – the words themselves, because:

Matthew 4:4

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on EVERY word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Notice the EVERY word aspect.

Regardless of whether we have experienced Revelation on every word – the revelation we have already received convinces us that the potential for further revelation comes through every word of scripture.

What has been established by revelation is to be adhered to. For example ‘justification by faith’ as revealed to Martin Luther. Does that mean that he is an infallible guide because he received revelation? No – but the bible is.

Sometimes we must take the word exactly as we find it, not blindly, (i.e. without a quickened understanding) but in trust – first. This leads to more revelation of what we are reading, as God has promised to lead us into more spiritual understanding:

John 16:13

However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

We take it on board first, and then we are free to ask God what it really is saying.

The truth has been established of old. Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of God, He needs-must die on the cross to offer mankind a way back to relationship with God, there is a Gehenna to escape through Christ, there was a virgin birth and so on…

The exaltation of the intellect of man over the inspiration of scripture will produce all kinds of theories and unbiblical conclusions.

Christians beware.

30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.