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"Let us reason together…" Isaiah 1:18

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I See that I Am Blind

First I read the narratives of Jesus. Then they read me.

There is a man who from his birth has been blind.

They wanted reason.  Jesus provided solution.

The blind guy sees and the seeing guys realize they are blind.

John 9:1-12 reads me perfectly.

I am blind. Blind to the blind guy.  Blind to me.  Blind to Jesus.

“Lord, open my eyes that I might see.”

 

Posted on 27th March 2017 in Lent  •  No comments yet
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The Promises of God in the Between Time

We are studying how those who are poor in spirit live in the time between times. The person who is poor in spirit receives God’s assignments and promises for the time between times.

God exists. God communicates. God’s creation communicates.

Keeping promises is connected to power and wisdom. Only God is completely wise and powerful.  Only God is totally trustworthy for fulfilling promises.

Between the times, God’s promises empower us to fulfill his assignments.

Numbers 11:17 “I will come down and speak with you there…”

  • Hebrews 1:1 – Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets…
  • Job 33:14 – For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it.
  • John 10:27 – My sheep hear my voice.

Faith is born when one hears the “word of Christ” (God’s promises in Christ).  Romans 10:17

The human body is a complex communication network. It is fair to say that your body is a most fascinating and gigantic library and vast collection of living communications. Each of your 37.2 trillion cells are receiving, understanding, and responding to communications.

ReceptionTransductionResponse

Transduction – Signal transduction is any process by which a biological cell converts one kind of signal or stimulus into another.  In signal transduction, the cell makes meaning from the receptor and enables a proper response.

Transduction in the natural is like discernment in the spiritual. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21

The Apostle Peter clearly received God’s communication regarding his future death.  John 21:18-19

In the time of their persecution, the Holy 40 Martyrs received God’s communication.

After prayers that night, for a second time the soldiers heard the voice of the Lord.

“He who believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live.  Be bold and have no fear of short-lived torment which soon passes; endure…that you may receive crowns.

When Licinius threatened to strip them of the honor as soldiers, one of them, St. Candidus, responded, “Not only the honor of being a soldier, but take away our bodies, for nothing is more dear or honorable, to us than Christ our God.”

In terms of cellular biology, the Holy 40 Martyrs’ receptors heard the word of the Lord, transduced the meaning (be bold and have no fear of short-lived torment), and on their behalf Candidus properly responded.

Today, in my between time, God has promises for me and my involvement in His assignment.  It is it is vital that my receptors are prepared to receive His communication.

  • Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21
  • I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes. Psalm 119:125
  • He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. Daniel 2:21
  • And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11

Personal Applications

  1. Ask God to create in you receptivity to His communications.
  2. Practice discernment (Transduction) in a group of mature
  3. Make your response with mature Christians giving input and oversight.

The Apostle Peter and Candidus relied on the promises of God to accomplish their part of God’s assignment.

 

Posted on 26th March 2017 in Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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When You Don’t Understand

Jesus made it simple.

He authored no novels, leadership, psychology, or religious texts.

Amazingly, the Ultimate Truth created no dogma, creed, or liturgy.

The All Knowing made it simple.  Put it on the lower shelf.  Placed it in the shallow end.  Even guys like me with a small UQ (Understanding Quotient) can get it.

“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” Jesus taught.

I’m to surrender my will to His, when I understand and when I don’t.

My life finds all of its meaning when I raise the white flag of surrender to God.

Surrendering my wish to understand is sometimes the most challenging surrender of them all. Desiring to “understand” is often a code word for “God, you didn’t follow my advice or demands.”

Crazy, isn’t it? To think that I could counsel the Counselor.

Years ago I had the delight of talking with the prolific song writer, Ira Stanphill. Ira said, “One day my life suddenly made no sense at all. Out of the blue I received a manila envelope. When I opened it I was shocked beyond belief. My wife had filed for divorce. I was in total shock. The breath was knocked out of me. I couldn’t believe it. A couple of days later, as I was leaving an attorney’s office, I was weeping with deep grief. I had no strength to walk another step. Leaning against a street light pole to keep me from falling over, I had a thought that I wrote down on the back of that same manila folder.”

Tho’ shadows deepen, and my heart bleeds,
I will not question the way He leads;
This side of Heaven we know in part,
I will not question a broken heart.

We’ll talk it over in the bye and bye.
We’ll talk it over, my Lord and I.
I’ll ask the reasons – He’ll tell me why,
When we talk it over in the bye and bye.

I’ll trust His leading, He’ll never fail,
Thru darkest tunnels or misty vales.
Obey his bidding and faithful be,
Tho’ only one step ahead I see.

We’ll talk it over in the bye and bye.
We’ll talk it over, my Lord and I.
I’ll ask the reasons – He’ll tell me why,
When we talk it over in the bye and bye.

I’ll hide my heartache behind a smile
And wait for reasons ’til after while.
And tho’ He try me, I know I’ll find
That all my burdens are silver lined.

We’ll talk it over in the bye and bye.
We’ll talk it over, my Lord and I.
I’ll ask the reasons – He’ll tell me why,
When we talk it over in the bye and bye.

When things aren’t making sense for you, join Jesus in Gethsemane and pray,

“Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.”


Posted on 16th March 2017 in grief, MCA Family  •  Comments are off for this post
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It is Not Dust to Die

“Remember, O man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.” This thought provoking sentence may seem a bit too macabre and dark for a follower of Jesus who claims of Himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” However, hundreds of millions of Christians submit to this reflection each Ash Wednesday.

Dust happens. One quick glance at the top of your refrigerator and you’ll nod in agreement.

Anna, Karen, Bishop Williams, Kevin, Rufus. Four year old Elijah and eighteen year old Elijah. Lots of dust happening around me these past few weeks.

What I REALLY like about “Remember, O man, that you are dust,” is that it isn’t true. Totally false. Not a hint of accuracy. Okay, maybe a hint.

Kerry Livgren’s famous lyric, “All we are is dust in the wind,” sums it up beautifully. Poignantly. Famously. And dead wrong.

People much smarter and wiser than me selected the dust motif for the “Imposition of the Ashes.” I respect them and church history.

If, perchance, I was on the “What do we say during the Imposition of the Ashes?” committee, I would have argued for a slightly different emphasis.

“Remember, O man, that your body is dust…” I would have pleaded.

Jesus, our Lord, didn’t dustify (home-made word warning). Not one dust particle of Jesus the Messiah exists anywhere in the universe. The Psalmist (Psalm 16:10) and Luke (Acts 13:35) place significant emphasis on the non-dustification (home-made word warning two) of Jesus, “…neither will you allow your holy one to see decay.”

I know.  None of us are Jesus the Messiah, so our experience will be different than His.

Maybe the Apostle Paul would say it something like this today. “The tent? It will be folded up and return unto the source of its creation (the dust of the earth). The resident? Lives forever.”

Lent’s Great Fast punches reality in my face.  Part of me is temporary. Part of me is eternal.

It is not dust to die.

Posted on 14th March 2017 in Lent  •  Comments are off for this post
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Judges 1 and 2

One of the MCA Church Adult classes, taught by Dr. Perkins, begins a new study this week.  Join Byron and the 10:30 AM Sunday class in MCA Live.

The following link is to Dr. Perkins’ notes.

Judges-1-2.pptx

Posted on 12th March 2017 in Discipleship  •  Comments are off for this post
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Assignments and Promises

We are considering God’s use of the number 40, usually days or years, as a time between two times; the time between two seasons.

In Luke 21 Jesus reveals how to navigate the between times.  In the “Between Time”, we:

  • Straighten up – with elated confidence and strength
  • Look up – in rejoicing anticipation

Often, in the “Between Time” God gives assignments and promises for the next season.

Season                                                Between Time                                    Season

Israel in Egypt                                     Deuteronomy 7:15                  The promised land

Diseases of Egypt                               God’s promise                        No diseases of Egypt

When making God’s “between time” assignments and promises my priority, I serve and believe God with elated confidence and rejoicing anticipation.

We live in the between time of Jesus’ departure into heaven (Acts 1:9-11) and His return to earth (John 14:1-3, Hebrews 9:28).

The Christian’s primary assignment in the “between time” is commanded by Jesus in Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”

The Christian’s primary promise in the between time is promised by Jesus in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Jesus’ disciple, Andrew, is today’s exhibit A.

  • Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist. John 1:35, 40
  • Andrew was the first Christian networker. He consistently introduces Jesus to people and people to Jesus. John 6:8, 9
  • Andrew, upon hearing John the Baptist say, “Behold, the Lamb of God,” follows Jesus and finds out where he lives and stays there for the day. John 1:39
  • Andrew prioritized his family first. John 1:41
  • Andrew clearly proclaimed, “We have found the Messiah.” John 1:41
  • Andrew didn’t stop at proclaiming, “He brought his brother to Jesus.” John 1:42

Church history tells us more about Andrew

  • Andrew’s “go into all the world” took him to modern day Turkey.
  • He proclaimed the Good News all around the Black Sea.

Church history tells us more about Andrew

  • Andrew’s “go into all the world” took him to modern day Turkey.
  • He proclaimed the Good News all around the Black Sea.
  • In Patras, a town in Greece, Andrew was condemned to death by crucifixion.
  • To extend the torture and agony of crucifixion, they did not nail him to the cross, but tied him with ropes.
  • The entire time Andrew hung between earth and heaven on the cross, he continued to proclaim the Good News to everyone nearby.
  • There is, in my view, an 8/10 likelihood of the widespread historical report that Andrew, feeling unworthy to die the same death as Jesus, begged to die differently than Jesus and so they built and crucified him on a cross in the form of an X.

Andrew remained tied to the cross with thick tight ropes for three days and his last words are thought to be: “Accept me, O Christ Jesus, whom I saw, whom I love, and in whom I am; accept my spirit in peace in your eternal realm.”

Andrew’s life urges and beckons me to serve the great assignment and believe God’s promises while rejoicing in anticipation of God’s new season.

The Forty Holy Martyrs also leave us a humbling example of between time joyful anticipation while embracing God’s great assignment and promise.

Aglaius is the name of the Roman soldier who, upon seeing the death of the deserter and the light from heaven with 40 crowns, ran either onto the ice or into the freezing water and proclaimed, “I too am a Christian,” and he joined the martyrs.  He the prayed, “Lord God, I believe in You, in Whom these soldiers believe.  Add me to their number, and make me worthy to suffer with Your servants.”

Will the story of my life be one of total commitment to the Great Assignment?

Will the story of my life reveal complete trust in the promises of God?

Will the story of my life include being an Andrew (Introducing many to Jesus) whose life produces people like Aglaius (fully devout follower of Jesus)?

MCA Church LIFE Group Homework

Listen – My Story

  1. Since we are featuring the Holy Forty Martyrs who gave their lives for Jesus on the ice and icy waters of a lake, do you have a favorite outdoor winter experience?
  2. Will you tell a portion of the events that have led or are leading you to trust in Jesus for salvation?

 

Learn – Digging Deeper

  1. Kent’s message featured Deuteronomy 7:15. God promised, in Israel’s 40 year Between Time, “none of the diseases of Egypt. In the Christian’s next season (Heaven) there will be no disease (Revelation 21:4). How do you, personally, apply health verses to your life today?

 

  1. Proverbs 17:22
  2. Proverbs 14:30
  3. 1 Corinthians 6:18

 

  1. Andrew, Jesus’ first disciple, was crucified for his un-ending engagement in the Great Assignment and belief in the promise of God. Are you pursuing the promise of God and do you have un-ending engagement in the Great Assignment? Acts 1:8 and Mark 16:15

 

  1. We are asking God for MCA Church’s most effective evangelism in our history. In what ways might Philemon 6 help you in praying

Life – Taking it Home

  1. In response to this teaching, what action steps do you need to take this week?
  2. Will you continue to memorize Jesus’ Beatitudes? Matthew 5:2-12
  3. Will you commit, fully, to MCA’s next Andrew Army ministry, Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames?

Lift – Prayer

  • Please pray for each person listed on your Operation Andrew and Agliaus list.
  • Please pray for our folks who are in fasting and prayer during Lent.
  • Please pray for God’s provision for the finances for Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames in Anchorage and Dillingham.
Posted on 12th March 2017 in Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Family Duties and Delights

 

Fasting, disengaged from justice, isn’t true religion.  God pleasing fasting is to be accompanied by specific actions of righteousness (Isaiah 58).

  • Loose the bonds of wickedness
  • To undo the straps of the yoke
  • To let the oppressed go free
  • To break every yoke?
  • Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
  • And bring the homeless poor into your house
  • When you see the naked, to cover him.

These fasting commands receive much attention during this season of the Church calendar. One can begin to imagine what a difference these behaviors will make when every Christian practices them and justice reigns on the earth.

Isaiah throws down a shocker at the end of verse 7.

“…and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?”

Who are the people in the bonds of wickedness?  Who has no bread and is hungry? Who are the homeless poor?  Who is naked?

Those who are “from your own flesh.” Personal justice for my own father and mother, grandparents, sister and brother, wife and children are Isaiah’s primary concern.

The prophet might say to us today:

  • Do you think your fasting and prayer pleases God when your own grandmother is in a care facility and you don’t visit with her and provide care?
  • How can the Holy God be pleased with your Lenten fast when your own daughter is in the bond of wickedness and you are not doing your utmost to loose the bonds?
  • You are all excited about your fasting and prayer but you don’t even take time to contact your prodigal son?
  • You haven’t been to your daughter’s piano recitals and you think your devotional practices are impressive?
  • That bedroom down the hall sits empty 365 days a year while your own flesh needs a place to sleep at night?

Isaiah reveals that hiding from our own flesh is a prevalent God-displeasing problem. Since Eve and Adam our species have highly developed our hiding skills.

We hide behind more urgent matters. Higher priorities. Things more pleasurable.

The tree of fear with its various branches becomes our cover.

  • I’m afraid my parents need far more than I am willing to give.
  • My fear is that meeting the needs of my children will drastically change my lifestyle.
  • In helping my grandparents deal with their natural processes of aging, I fear my own mortality.

Apathy to those of “your own flesh” invalidates any claim to God pleasing spirituality.

 

 

Posted on 7th March 2017 in Lent  •  Comments are off for this post
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Rejoicing in Anticipation

We are making an in-depth investigation into the most essential component of a life that pleases God.  When my life pleases God, it pleases God to bless my life.

God’s relational interaction with me is shaped by my poverty of spirit, making poverty of spirit the most essential component of a life that pleases God.  Matthew 5:3

Honoring Jesus’ forty day fast is planned into the Christian calendar each year.  In the Bible the number forty, often days or years, is a God ordained time between two times.

This time between two seasons is crucial because the between time initiates the new season.

Season                                         Between Time                             Season

Genesis 6:5-7                                 Genesis 7:17                                        Genesis 8:15, 16

Resurrection of Jesus                   Acts 1:3                                                Jesus’ Ascension

Jesus’ earthly ministry                 Luke 21:6-26                                       Luke 21:27

Our Lent text, Luke 21, is instruction on personal behavior in the “Between Time.”

Events of the Luke 21 “Between Time”

  • The destruction of the Temple Luke 21:6
  • Creation disturbances, wars, persecution Luke 21:10-17
  • Jerusalem destroyed Luke 21:20-24
  • Distress in the universe and on earth Luke 21:25, 26

Personal behavior in the “Between Time.” Luke 21:28

  1. Straighten up –
  • Not bowed under a heavy weight
  • “Things are looking up”
  • Elated
  1. Raise your head
  • Look up with earnest expectation. Romans 8:19
  • Rejoice with anticipation
  1. Know and deeply feel that the season is about to change.
  • Your redemption draws near.
  • The “Between Time” is about to change into God’s new season!

The True Story of the 40 Holy Martyrs of Sebaste

LIFE GROUP Homework

Listen – My Story

  1. Share your Beatitudes memory work.
  2. Do you recall a time when someone important to you was very pleased with you? Share with your Life Group.
  3. Remember a time when you had a long wait for something wonderful? How did you feel when the wait was over.

Learn – Digging Deeper

  1. Please read Matthew 26:36-46. What is the season before this “Between Time” in the life of Jesus?  What is the season after?

 

  1. Please read John 16:33. What is the season before this “Between Time” in your life? What is the season after?

 

  1. Pleased read 1 Peter 5:10. What is the season before this “Between Time” in your life? What is the season after?

 

  1. Jesus said in Luke 21, “Straighten up and look up for your redemption is near.” Please read Psalm 121. What encouragement can you take from Psalm 121 in looking up?

Life – Taking it Home

  1. In response to this teaching, what action steps do you need to take this week?
  2. Would you like the members of your Life Group to help you with applying a component of this lesson?

Lift – Prayer

  • Please pray for your Life Group members who are in a “between time.”
  • Please pray for those who need strength to rejoice in anticipation.
  • Please pray for miracle provisions for workers and funds for Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames in Anchorage and in Dillingham.
Posted on 5th March 2017 in Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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It’s Far More than Not Eating

“Hold God to His word. He promised healing and by faith you must remind God of His promise to heal. Claim His promises now.” I remember feeling uncomfortable as this idea was being stated by various fiery and frothing preachers.

My lack of comfort also extended to the often stated claim, “God’s New Covenant obligates God to ____________ (fill in the blank).

Does God any obligations? Is the Almighty in debt? Does He owe anything, anywhere, anytime, to anyone?

In reading Isaiah 58:3 I discovered Israel’s deeply held belief that God owed them, because of their pious fasting, a grand and glorious deliverance on their terms.

‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
    Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’

The Day of Atonement was the only fast mandated by God’s Law each year, so it seems this is the fast about which the people are complaining.

“And it shall be a statute to you forever that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict yourselves and shall do no work, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you.” Leviticus 16:29

Notice the seriousness of the command, “you shall afflict yourselves and shall do nor work, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you.”  In Levitical terms, fasting is afflicting one’s soul.  It is to humble, weaken, and object to oneself by fasting.

In addition to cessation from food, Israel was to totally cease from all work.  In this sense fasting was an additional Sabbath, a day of no work for both the Jews and immigrants.

God points out, through Isaiah, that Israel has completely ignored God’s fasting directives.

Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
    and oppress all your workers.

Not only do God’s people break the fast by working (seek your own pleasure), but by requiring all their workers to violate God’s fast as well (oppress all your workers).

Israel thinks their religiosity of fasting on the Day of Atonement forces God’s decisions and actions.  I like a comment in the Pulpit Commentary, “but as laying him under a binding obligation, and almost compelling him to grant the requests of the worshipper.”

Those who are poor in spirit can not say, “Hold God to His word.” Humbled before the Great I Am, one knows God has no debt to pay, especially to a sinful soul. Commanding and demanding is unconscionable because I am clay and He is Potter.

I am not just clay metaphorically. I am literally clay.

“then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” Genesis 2:7

Ray Bakke once said in my hearing, “The Bible opens with God’s hands in the mud.” I am just God-formed mud into whom He breathed life. He owes me nothing. Never has.  Never will.

Biblical fasting isn’t about creating a myth of God in debt to me, but ceasing from all falsehoods and believing the truth about me.

Truly, I am a great debtor to God and my soul damning quandary is that I have no assets (and never will) with which to pay my debt.

One doesn’t work through the Day of Atonement Fast because work CAN NOT atone.  All my work toward atonement is completely futile and useless. Work that has forsaken God can not produce anything of eternal value.

In a sense, all work is simply clay rearranging God’s creation and taking personal credit for productivity.

Isaiah says to me, “Knock it off! Cease and desist! Stop it!”

God owes me nothing. He is not obligated to me in any way. The simple fact that I am a living human being is not His payment but His gift.

Gratitude for God’s gift is the beginning of the Christian journey.

So in my fasting I not only cease my normal relationship with food but I abandon and completely forsake any notion that God owes me an answer to my prayers, a response to my religious temper tantrums, or to meet my expectations. My not eating for a season does not create some kind of obligation for God.

“Does the clay say to him who forms it…?” Isaiah 45:9

 

 

Posted on 3rd March 2017 in Lent  •  Comments are off for this post