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"Let us reason together…" Isaiah 1:18

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How Do I Deal with My Emotions upon the Death of an Unsaved Family Member or Close Friend?

Today I was asked a most sobering question.

“My family member knowingly, intentionally and thoughtfully rejected the saving grace of Jesus Christ and has died in deep disbelief and rejection.  How do I deal with this grief?”

Someone who is far wiser than I am could respond much more effectively than I can, but I am the one who received the question and should share my feeble thoughts.

In responding to this heart-breaking question, my mind journeys in several directions.

First, it seems important to feel, thoroughly and extensively feel, the grievous loss.  A person you greatly love has died without the hope of eternal life and without a public confession of faith in Jesus for salvation.  Your sorrow is well founded.

Our Lord, Jesus, wept at the death of His friend who, without a doubt was righteous.  No one knows the response Jesus would have experienced at the death of an unrighteous friend.  The Bible doesn’t give us a glimpse into that possibility.

Recently, a very well respected theologian stated, “When Jesus wept, it was Jesus the man weeping.  Jesus, as fully God, could never weep.”  This troubled my soul.  Jesus is fully God and fully human.  He can’t be divided into the God part and the human part.  He is Him.  He is both God and human at the same time and in the same place.

Equally troubling is the notion that God can not cry.  I suppose the argument is that a Sovereign, Almighty and All-knowing God would have no sorrow because He fully knows the beginning from the end and everything is both happening and already happened.  All reality is, they might argue, past tense for God.

From my perspective, the Bible reveals God as interacting with reality in real time, with real emotions and genuine experience.  I am convinced the death of your unsaved family member or close friend deeply moves the emotions of God.  When you sorrow, you are experiencing an emotion placed in you by being created in His image.  Because He can grieve, you can too.

There may be some comfort in knowing your grief is shared by God Himself.  You are not alone, emotionally or in any other way.  God understands.  He too felt the sorrow of a family member’s death.  His Son died with the sin of the whole world on His shoulders.  God gets it.

With the inner workings of the human spirit, soul and body being so little understood, there is a measure of comfort in knowing the One who knit your loved one together in their mother’s womb knows everything about everything in their lives.  There are no uncovered facts.  God knows it all.

God is always fair and just in His judgements.  He will always do what is right and just and holy.

Sometimes it feels as if the grief will never end.  The Bible mentions the possibility of “sorrow upon sorrow.”  The revelation of Jesus to John powerfully reveals God ends the season of grief by “wiping every tear from their eyes.”

It doesn’t feel like it right now, but this sorrow will come to a close because “weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.”  There is a measure of comfort in knowing this season of sorrow will end by God’s Personal action of drying our tears.

Turning the loss into longing is vital.  People weren’t designed and created for eternal separation, grief and loss.  We were hand formed by God for Ideal Condition.  Developed for the ideal condition of God’s perfect Garden and to be in His Personal presence, we are not at home and settled in to this existence of our messed up world.

Everything inside of everyone longs for a return to God’s Ideal Condition.  Redeeming the loss by transforming it into authentic deep longing for God and His eternal home, is most helpful.  In our loss we can find our truest longing.

“So my soul longeth after thee, oh God.”

Posted on 13th June 2019 in grief, Health, Intentional Spiritual Growth, Musings  •  Comments are off for this post
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Psalms: The way of the righteous and the way of the wicked (part 3)

“The language of righteousness and talk of the righteous and the wicked is almost completely missing in contemporary religious life. This may be due to the assumption that the use of words such as righteous and wicked lead inevitably to narrow judgmental attitudes of the sort the Pharisees displayed (Mt. 23:13-28). To be sure, such language can be used for self-congratulation or for the exclusion of others. This book is written with the conviction, however, that avoidance of this language and of the theological ideas associated with it diminishes the the church’s theology and ethical imperative substantially.”  Jerome F. D. Creach. The Destiny of the Righteous in the Psalms (p. 2). Kindle Edition.

 

What might be reasons for the absence of conversations regarding the righteous and the wicked?

 

  1. An intentional reframing of God, God’s revelation and human relationship with God.
  2. The belief that belief changes reality.
  3. Intentional rejection of Biblical revelation.
  4. Intentional rejection of objective moral and ethical absolutes and the whole hearted acceptance of a post-modern “it means what you make it mean to you.”

 

“Indeed, the concern for righteousness and for those called righteous (and wicked) in the Psalms is directly related to some of the main questions of the Christian faith, such as: What is the character of God? (God is righteous; Rom. 3:21-26.) How can humans be reconciled with God? (By faith they are reckoned as righteous; Gal. 3:6-9.) Who is Jesus Christ and what is the meaning of his death? (He is one of the righteous who suffered at the hands of the wicked; Lk. 23:47.) How will humans be judged and what will the end of things be like? (Righteous and wicked will be separated and rewarded according to the compassion they showed to those in need; Mt. 25:31-46.) Moreover, the New Testament speaks of the future hope for the people of God as a hope for the righteous (1 Pet. 4:18).”  Jerome F. D. Creach. The Destiny of the Righteous in the Psalms (p. 2). Kindle Edition.

 

The two paths, one of the righteous and the other of the wicked, is a most essential theme of all God’s revelation to humankind.

 

The Bible opens and closes with the righteous and wicked paths

 

  • And the LordGod planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Genesis 2:8-9
  • 15 The LordGod took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 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 shall surely die.”  Genesis 2:15-17
  • And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:5-8
  • Then the angel[a]showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life[b] with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.  Revelation 22:1-5

 

The two paths in the communal life of God’s covenant people, Israel

 

14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, 17 for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. 18 And the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”  Joshua 24:14-18

The two paths in the ministry of Jesus

 

The straight and narrow way

 

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.  Matthew 7:13, 14

 

Wise man and foolish built houses

 

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”  Matthew 7:21-27

Three examples of the righteous and wicked paths in Matthew 25

 

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps[a] and went to meet the bridegroom.[b] Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[c] and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents,[d] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[e] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Posted on 12th June 2019 in Psalms  •  Comments are off for this post
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Becoming People of Realized Potential: The Holy Spirit Upon Us

We become people of fully realized potential when the Holy Spirit comes upon us (including our body).

 

We are investigating the complete integration of the spirit, soul and body for purposes of reaching our maximum potential in Christ.

 

In a previous message we considered the two-tiered philosophy of our day.  For example, the SCOTUS determined in Roe vs. Wade that an embryo and fetus are human but not person.

 

The dangerous two-tiered philosophy may show up in Christian thought in relationship to spirit, soul and body.  “I am spirit and soul with no emphasis upon body.”

 

In this life, I have no potential without or outside my body.

 

One of the most important, yet extremely difficult things in life is to properly approach the Bible.

 

We can first hold our beliefs and then read and understand the Bible through our beliefs OR we can first read and understand the Bible and then form our beliefs.

 

In the first scenario, I force the Bible to say what I want it to say.  In the second, the Bible forces me to believe and respond to what God has said.

 

Let’s lay aside all of our beliefs about our relationship with the Holy Spirit and see what the Bible says and then come back and form our beliefs.

God gives us three primary position terms for our relationship with the Holy Spirit.

 

The three position terms of our relationship with the Holy Spirit are with (para), in (en) and upon (epi).

 

The Holy Spirit is With

 

  • 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. John 14:15-17
  • “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me;10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer;11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

 

The Holy Spirit In

 

  • 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:15-17
  • 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:11-14
  • 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19

 

The Holy Spirit Upon

 

  • 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.”

What happens in the human body when the Spirit comes upon?  1 Samuel 10:1-7

 

Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him and said, “Has not the Lord anointed you to be prince over his people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies. And this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you to be prince over his heritage.2 When you depart from me today, you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah, and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has ceased to care about the donkeys and is anxious about you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?”’ 3 Then you shall go on from there farther and come to the oak of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine.4 And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from their hand. 5 After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, where there is a garrison of the Philistines. And there, as soon as you come to the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre before them, prophesying. 6 Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. 7 Now when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you.

 

In this passage we see:

 

  • Anointing 1
  • Obedience 2-5
  • The Spirit Rushes Upon 6

 

Samuel declares two results of the Spirit coming upon Saul, prophesy and becoming a new person.

 

When the Holy Spirit comes upon a person, throughout the entire Bible, Spirit inspired speech follows.

 

  • Speech Inspired by the Holy Spirit
  • Speech in a language previously unknown
  • Speech in a language of the spirit

 

When the Holy Spirit comes upon a person, the person experiences…..

 

  • Creativity beyond human natural capacity. Genesis 1

 

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.  Genesis 1:1, 2

 

30 Then Moses said to the people of Israel, “See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, 32 to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, 33 in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. 34 And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. 35 He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer.  Exodus 35:30-35

 

  • Empowered living beyond human natural power. Judges 6:34

 

But the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon, and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him.

 

  • The birthing of things of God beyond human natural capacity. Luke 1:26-38

 

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

 

Jesus, our Great Example, experienced the Holy Spirit descending upon Him.  Luke 4:18, 19

 

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

 

Again, notice the connection of the Spirit and anointing.

 

In this portion of our weekend worship, we will anoint one another with the following prayer.

 

“As I anoint you with oil, may the Holy Spirit come upon you as He came upon Jesus, those in the Upper Room and millions of Christians since then.  May you be clothed with the Spirit’s speech, creativity and power.  May new things of God be born within and through you as the Spirit rushes in upon you and you become a new person.”

MCA LIFE GROUP HOMEWORK

Listen – My Story

  • When was the first time you heard about the Holy Spirit or your first experience with Him?
  • Do you have a favorite Holy Spirit experience? Maybe a time when he was with, in or upon you?

 

Learn – Digging Deeper

  • Pease read Joel 2:28-29.
  • Which preposition for the relationship with the Holy Spirit is used?
  • Who will be the recipients of the relationship?
  • What will these recipients do as a result of this relationship?
  • Please read Acts 2:1-16
  • How might Peter have known the Acts 2 experience was a fulfillment of Joel 2?
  • As God fulfills Joel 2 in your life today, how will you know?

 

Lift – Prayer

  • Please pray for the many MCA folks who are asking the Spirit to come upon them with creativity, empowerment and a longing for new things of God to be born in and through them.
  • Pray for those who desire to have Holy Spirit inspired speech and to experience the “rushing in upon” that produces a brand-new person.

 

Life – Taking it Home

  • What in practical day to day things, do you desire the Holy Spirit to do in and through you?
  • What do you need to consider changing in order to become more comfortable with the Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit?
Posted on 8th June 2019 in Realized Potential, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Psalms: The Way of the Righteous and the Way of the Wicked

We are investigating the two paths or two ways of the Bible.  The Psalms are the prayers and hymns of those on the righteous path and their warnings for those on the wicked path.

 

One of the earliest Christian “curricula” is the Didache.  Likely written less than 60 years after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

 

The Didache, also known as The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, is a brief anonymous early Christian treatise, dated by most modern scholars to the first century. The first line of this treatise is “The teaching of the Lord to the Gentiles (or Nations) by the twelve apostles”. The text, parts of which constitute the oldest extant written catechism, has three main sections dealing with Christian ethics, rituals such as baptism and Eucharist, and Church organization. The opening chapters describe the virtuous Way of Life and the wicked Way of Death. The Lord’s Prayer is included in full. Baptism is by immersion, or by affusion if immersion is not practical.  Fasting is ordered for Wednesdays and Fridays.  Two primitive Eucharistic prayers are given.  Church organization was at an early stage of development.  Itinerant apostles and prophets are important, serving as “chief priests” and possibly celebrating the Eucharist. Meanwhile, local bishops and deacons also have authority and seem to be taking the place of the itinerant ministry. The Didache is considered the first example of the genre of Church Orders. The Didache reveals how Jewish Christians saw themselves and how they adapted their practice for Gentile Christians. The Didache is similar in several ways to the Gospel of Matthew, perhaps because both texts originated in similar communities. The opening chapters, which also appear in other early Christian texts, are likely derived from an earlier Jewish source.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Didache

 

THERE are two paths, one of life and one of death, and the difference is great between the two paths. The Twelve Apostles. The Didache . Acheron Press. Kindle Edition.

 

The Path of Life

 

Now the path of life is this—first, thou shalt love the God who made thee, thy neighbour as thyself, and all things that thou wouldest not should be done unto thee, do not thou unto another.

 

And the doctrine of these maxims is as follows.

 

Bless them that curse you, and pray for your enemies. Fast on behalf of those that persecute you; for what thank is there if ye love them that love you? do not even the Gentiles do the same But do ye love them that hate you, and ye will not have an enemy.

 

Abstain from fleshly and worldly lusts. If any one give thee a blow on thy right cheek, turn unto him the other also, and thou shalt be perfect; if any one compel thee to go a mile, go with him two; if a man take away thy cloak, give him thy coat also; if a man take from thee what is thine, ask not for it again, for neither art thou able to do so. Give to every one that asketh of thee, and ask not again, for the Father wishes that from his own gifts there should be given to all. Blessed is he who giveth according to the commandment, for he is free from guilt; but woe unto him that receiveth. For if a man receive being in need, he shall be free from guilt; but he who receiveth when not in need, shall pay a penalty as to why he received and for what purpose; and when he is in tribulation he shall be examined concerning the things that he has done, and shall not depart thence until he has paid the last farthing.

 

For of a truth it has been said on these matters, Let thy almsgiving abide in thy hands until thou knowest to whom thou hast given.

 

The Twelve Apostles. The Didache . Acheron Press. Kindle Edition.

Path of Life

·      Love the God who made thee

·      Love your neighbor

·      Do not do what you don’t want done

 

 

Called a doctrine

 

 

·      Bless them that curse you and pray

·      Fast on behalf of persecutors

·      Love them that hate you

 

 

 

 

Abstain for fleshly and worldly lusts

·      Don’t fight back – turn the other cheek

·      Go beyond the demands of your oppressors

·      Give to those who steal from you

·      Give to everyone that asks of you

 

 

 

 

 

Be careful what you receive as an alm without being in need

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Know to the details of the person to whom you are giving an alm.

 

 

 

 

The Path of Death

 

My child, flee from every evil thing, and from every likeness of it.

 

Be not prone to anger, for anger leads to murder. Be neither jealous, nor quarrelsome, nor of hot temper, for out of all these murders are engendered.

 

My child, be not a lustful one. for lust leads to fornication.

 

Be neither a filthy talker, nor of lofty eye, for out of all these adulteries are engendered.

 

My child, be not an observer of omens, since it leads to idolatry. Be neither an enchanter, nor an astrologer, nor a purifier, nor be willing to look at these things, for out of all these idolatry is engendered.

 

My child, be not a liar, since a lie leads to theft.

 

Be neither money-loving, nor vainglorious, for out of all these thefts are engendered.

 

My child, be not a murmurer, since it leads the way to blasphemy.

 

Be neither self-willed nor evil-minded, for out of all these blasphemies are engendered.

 

Evil things and every likeness of it

 

 

Anger and it’s final fruit of murder

 

Jealousy, quarrelsome, hot temper

 

 

Lustfulness and its final fruit of fornication.

 

 

Filthy talk and lofty eye and final fruit of adulteries.

 

Omens, enchanting, astrology nor a purifier

 

Do not be willing to look at these things

 

 

 

Lying and its fruit of theft.

 

 

Money-loving and vainglorious and their fruit of theft

 

Murmuring and its fruit of blasphemy.

 

 

Self-willed and evil-minded and their fruit of blasphemies

 

 

The two paths are the primary call of God through Moses in Deuteronomy 30:15.

 

15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.

 

Elijah features the two paths too.  1 Kings 18:21

 

20 So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. 21 And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.”

 

 

 

Posted on 6th June 2019 in Psalms  •  Comments are off for this post
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Becoming People of Fully Realized Potential: Our Bodies

We become people of fully realized potential in and through our bodies.

 

I am me.  The human is created by God as a three-part unity; spirit, soul and body.

 

  • Without my spirit, I am not fully me.
  • Without my soul, I am not fully me.
  • Without my body, I am not fully me.

 

For some reason, in God’s human trinity, the Christian’s body is often mistreated, abused and neglected even while special care is given to the soul and spirit.

 

Neither the spirit, soul or body is more important than the other.  Consider 1 Thessalonians 5:23.

 

23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Paul’s prayer is two-fold.

 

  1. For God to sanctify you completely, your whole spirit and soul and body.
  2. And for your whole spirit and soul and body to be kept blameless.

 

In 1973 people opposed to God’s total integration of spirit and soul and body won their day in the Supreme Court of the United States with Roe vs. Wade.

 

Essentially, the Court threw out the entirety of Biblical anthropology (a wholistic view of the human being) with the philosophy “that even though the baby in the womb is human, it is not a person under the Fourteenth Amendment.”  Love Thy Body, Nancy Pearcey pre-release.

 

Maybe this two-tiered “human non-person” concept has infiltrated the western Christian world-view?

 

It appears many western Christian’s perspective is a two-tiered, “spirit and soul but non-body” concept.  Apart from thinking like this, how can we explain the gigantic disregard many Christians give to their human body?

 

God speaks directly to the world’s low view of the body by honoring the human body.

 

  • So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
  • For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
    14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:13-14
  • I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1
  • 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:20
  • Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? 1 Corinthians 6:19

 

Becoming a human person of fully realized potential in Christ requires me to embrace, honor and discipline my body.

 

Righteousness and wickedness require a body.  There is no “disembodied” righteousness or wickedness.

 

Our earlier passage, 1 Thessalonians 5:23 is preceded by many things one might find in the body.

 

12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,[c] encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always,17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

 

Respect

 

 

Esteem

 

Peace

 

Idle

 

Fainthearted, weak, patient

Do not repay evil but seek to do good

 

Rejoice, Pray, give thanks

 

Do not quench, do not despise, but test

 

Abstain

 

Your fullest potential in Christ includes growing and maintaining bodily discipline and control.

 

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.  1 Corinthians 9:24-27

 

In an almost shocking revelation Paul states a lack of personal bodily discipline and control may disqualify me from the imperishable prize.

Even after we have not been disqualified, we will be judged according to “the deeds we have done in the body.”

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

 

May we make this a season of personal bodily discipline and control as we pursue our fullest potential in Christ.

MCA LIFE GROUP HOMEWORK

Listen – My Story

  • What is your favorite aspect of your God created body?
  • In your upbringing, do you recall if the human body was blessed, cursed or ignored? Do you see any lasting impact from that upbringing on your perspectives of the human body?

Learn – Digging Deeper

  • Pease read Jeremiah 1:4, 5. At what point in time was Jeremiah a person?
  • Please read Psalm 139.
    • Does the Psalmist hold to a high or low view of the human body?
    • Consider verse 16. Did the Psalmist have personhood prior to birth?
    • Does the human body have value according to verse 15?
  • What verses come to mind when you think of being more disciplined and in control of your body?

Lift – Prayer

  • Please pray for the many MCA folks who are experiencing difficulties in their bodies.
  • Please pray for each life group member’s highest “bodily discipline” priority.

Life – Taking it Home

  • What do you need to do today to “discipline your body and bring it under control?”
  • Who can you add to your circle of influence to encourage you and for you to encourage to be disciplined and personally controlled in your body?
Posted on 1st June 2019 in Realized Potential, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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How Close is the Persecution?

MCA Church LOVES Burkina Faso, its land, villages, cities, tribes, and people.  With each passing day of increased persecution and martyrdom, I am asked, “How close are the murderous radicals to our churches, outreaches, schools and various other ministry facilities and people?”

In the small likelihood the terrorist murderers are searching the internet, I will not identify our ministries, facilities and people.

Burkina Faso is the size of Colorado and just over five Burkina Faso land masses would fit into Alaska.  It is the seventy-fourth largest country on earth today.

Burkina Faso was so named by the hugely popular former President, the late Thomas Sankara.  Burkina is a Moore word (the language of the Mossi people) and Faso is a Diouala word (the language of the Diouala people).

Burkina means “men of integrity.”  Faso carries the meaning of “the fatherland.”  Burkina Faso is therefore the land of the people of integrity or the land of upright people or the land of honest people.  Without a doubt, Burkina Faso is properly named.  Living there are amazing men and women of kindness, grace and love.

This is, in fact, what the murderous terrorists hate.  They don’t want Muslims, Christians and animists to love each other and show common human peace to one another.

In a small country, just larger than Oregon, any violence and persecution isn’t far away.

One of our larger ministries is only thirty miles from one of the recent attacks.  This large group of wonderful folks have no way of defending themselves, should hatred focus its eyes on them.  “Lord, have mercy.”

Our schools are open and teaching students and all of our congregations are holding their weekend worship gatherings.  With a couple of our ministries being very well known, our people there could be a prime target of the terrorists.

HOWEVER, we Burkinabé are the Apple of His Eye, subjects of His love, recipients of His grace and are covered by His protection.  Nothing gets through to us unless it passes the protective hedge of our covering in Christ.

 

Posted on 29th May 2019 in Burkina Faso, Martyrdom, Persecuted Christians  •  Comments are off for this post
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30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World: Bedouins of the Levant

The history of the term “Levant States” is expansive and prolific.  Maybe the term even precedes the Levant Company of 1581 A.D.  In our day, the Levant are Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Jordan and Cyprus.

It is my understanding that most of the Bedouins have never heard of Jesus or the Good News.  With Christians living in the same region, we pray for connections to develop through which the Gospel may be shared.

Posted on 28th May 2019 in 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World  •  Comments are off for this post
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30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World: The Kohistan

In the mountainous region of northern Pakistan live the approximate 600,000 Kohistani.  In addition to meeting Jesus and receiving eternal life in Him, a great need is for affordable and accessible health care.

More workers and research are needed for translating the Bible into the Kohistani language.  For God’s provision and blessing, we pray.

Posted on 28th May 2019 in 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World  •  Comments are off for this post
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30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World: Swahili of Zanzibar

For those sharing Christ with the Swahili, we pray for mercy, grace and favor.  May their witness be wise, authentic and effective.

May the powers behind witchcraft be subdued, in Jesus’ name.  May all attempts to hinder the Gospel be abolished.

Numerous muslims from the Philippines are resident in Zanzibar.  For their conversion to Christ and growth into the image of Jesus, we pray.

Posted on 28th May 2019 in 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World  •  Comments are off for this post
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A Thankful Father of the Bride

Today, our nineteen year old daughter becomes the wife of her beloved.

Amidst a variety of paternal emotions, thanksgiving rises above all others.  Words seem too limiting to express the appreciation and joy I have for every second of these nearly twenty years.

She is God’s daughter placed in our care to love, nurture, disciple and prepare.  Perfect in every way, she is a source of immense thanksgiving to God.

Her faith, commitment to Christ and Godly righteousness are a glorious reflection of her mother.  The faith that “is also in her mother” multiplies the gratitude.  I am exponentially blessed by the integrity and character of her mother and herself.  My soul is full of appreciation for them both.

Being born the youngest in the family isn’t always an easy path.  Her respect and grace for her sister and both of her brothers is an inspiration and delight.  For her relationships with them, I am most grateful.

If Paula and I were to dream of a God made match for her, he would be the exact fulfillment of the dream; godly, peaceable, gentle, Christ-like, strong and courageous.  For him my soul rejoices in thanksgiving.

 

Danée Mikal Redfearn and Judah David Kesler, today is your day and I am THANKFUL!

 

Posted on 25th May 2019 in Weddings  •  Comments are off for this post