Thursday, February 10, 2022

The Humble Pomegranate In Tabernacle Imagery!

 As we look at the tabernacle description in the Pentateuch one image we hear often is the fruit pomegranates. Embroidered on the priestly clothes between bells and chiseled into Solomon’s temple the pomegranate is on full display. But why? 


Popular Jewish tradition says that it represents Israel. With it’s tough leathery skin, it’s abundance of seed (life), and it’s crown on its head it proclaims the divine status of the nation. As well, Jewish tradition claims that there are 613 seeds in a pomegranate which represents the 613 commandments of God in the Mosaic law!


But as a Christian I would place on the table that, as everything in the tabernacle, it points to Redemption, specifically, Redemption through Jesus Christ! How? The tough leathery scarred skin represents the broken body of Christ. The crown a top its head of two fold. It represents the crown of thorns he wrote on Calvary and His eternal divine crown of righteousness. When the skin is shred it reveals no flesh as most fruits but only seed. For there is no life in the flesh! As the skin is broken out pours a crimson flow, representing the blood of redemption flowing from Immanuel’s. This crimson flow from the humble pomegranate stains anything it touches, the blood of Christ claims every soul it touches! 


Throughout the Old Testament the pomegranate is a symbol of life and prosperity! From the priestly garments to the the Temple decor to the Song of Solomon it declares life!

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The Contradiction of White Privilege!

White Privilege

If you've spent any time during 2020 with your ears open then you have heard the term "white privilege." This is defined and presented as fact, that those with less melanin in their skin have a foundational and continual privilege simply by having a biological deficiency. First, I must declare that race is a social construct, we are all one race, the human race! Ethnicity and culture define segments of the world populous but race is a figment of the imaginations of evil men who seek to divide. Let me enlighten you. I have more in common with a black conservative Christian than I do a liberal white leftist Atheist socialist! The new fad in our culture is identity politics, "wokeness," intersectionality, equity, and blunt racism. Racism, not from the ones being called racist but from those who are calling everyone else racists!


Blindness & Blind Racism

Though many have sought to redefine the word racism with Marxist lenses us normal people who believe in logic and rational thought and that words and their meanings matter remember that racism is easily defined as the belief that one race is superior to another. Under the current 1984 style redefinition of the word, racism can't come from the oppressed, i.e. blacks, but those who remember it's actual definition rooted in reality know that's not true, Nick Canon! I recently watched a clip from a segment of Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations where she and two others were discussing the ever allusive "white privilege." When one of the guests suggested that not all white people had power and money, Winfrey responded: “You still have your whiteness. That’s what the term ‘white privilege’ is.“It means that whiteness still gives you an advantage, no matter”.


If there's one thing you remember from this post, remember this. The summation of the statements of this black woman billionaire is this, that things negative that's happened in the life of a white person is a result of the persons character flaws and things positive is a result of the persons "whiteness" while also declaring that things negative that's happened in the life of a black person is a result of racism and the color of their skin and things positive that's happened is a result of their resolve and hard work! 


That my friends is Racism at the highest level and she's blind to it!


Let us play Oprah's linguistic game. According to Oprah, white people can't talk about racism because they're white and men can't talk about abortion because they're men.By deduction then the question arises, how can Oprah lecture people on marriage having never been married, and lecture parents on child rearing while never having children, and lecture us all on oppression while experiencing the height of privilege, 2.6 billion dollars worth of it!


The Response

In the Unites States of America we stand level with opportunity as afforded us by our creator. The proof lies in the very life and accomplishments of Oprah Winfrey! Born in poverty in the middle of Jim Crow Mississippi in 1954 and experiencing molestation in her childhood and tragedy at 14 when she became pregnant and the child being born prematurely didn't survive she seemed to rise form the ashes and went on to live out the quintessential American dream! According to Wikipedia she became a talk show host, actress, television producer, media executive, and philanthropist. She is best known for her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, broadcast from Chicago, which was the highest-rated television program of its kind in history and ran in national syndication for 25 years from 1986 to 2011. Dubbed the "Queen of All Media", she was the richest African American of the 20th century and North America's first black multi-billionaire, and she has been ranked the greatest black philanthropist in American history. By 2007, she was sometimes ranked as the most influential woman in the world. 


With this reality I agree that privilege exists! Broad "white privilege?" NO! Privilege? YES! Let me explain, privilege is real and is rooted in the grace of God. Being an American is a privilege and being born here is a real gift from God because he chose your place of birth, your parents, your generation, and even your skin color! If possible, tell me anywhere else in the world a black woman with such experiences as Oprah Winfrey could rise above her life's obstacles to become the "Queen of Media" and claim a worth of 2.6 billion dollars! Privilege, American privilege! Grace, God's grace!


Application

Trust the Sovereign God, rest in his plan, glory in the privilege he bestows upon you! Don't have partiality towards the rich or the poor, treat everyone with respect, dignity, love, compassion, and grace! Call out hypocrisy and racism everywhere you see it and declare the greatest privilege given to men, the privilege granted through the finished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary, the privilege that by faith through grace we could be called the sons of God! 


The Gospel In Proximity!

Reflection


As a human, fallen under the federal headship of Adam, I, like you, am often tempted to wander as the great hymn writer penned. With this odd cultural circumstance that we find ourselves in it's hard to be both focused and balanced and I often find those types of things out the hard way. In my zeal, like the Apostle Peter, my desire to act and to act on a large scale, in a large way, with a large scope, and sometimes with my sword out, I do damage to the Gospel that I so love and desire to proclaim and live out. I'm sure there have been many a ear that my zeal have injured and Christ, in Agape love, restored. (Luke 22 & John 18) I find the unbalance was a glaring reality that zeal had unfortunately blinded. I was attempting to proclaim the truth to the masses but not the person, an intangible mass removed from each individuals humanity and the result appeared self-righteous, condemning, and not joyful, peaceable, long-suffering, temperate, faithful, good, gentle, or meek. (Galatians 5:22-23) The love here, this fruit of the Spirit, is the Greek word agape and is rooted in interaction. It's often translated charity, like in the KJV, because it's interpersonal. It's declared the highest of love, it's unconditional, it's a commitment to positive action in someone's life without the expectation of return. You can't do that from 30,000 feet! 


The Gospel


The good news to the man that is condemned in and by his sins is that in repentance and believing, that mans sins were placed upon Christ at the cross of Calvary and the righteousness of Christ was imputed unto him at conversion! David said in Psalm 32 "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile." This covenant between God and man is interpersonal, Christ finished his work on the cross with purpose and precision. He didn't die for a faceless, nameless mass but for each specific individual who would believe upon him, he died for you, he died for Bradley! He didn't die to make salvation possible, he died to save! The good news of the Gospel is not that I can ascent unto him but that he came looking for me! The Gospel presented through this agape love of God towards man is best described by John the Apostle when, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he penned "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?"


The Response


I found myself recently being aggravated by the world, by some Christians even, because of their responses to Covid, masks, riots, justice, BLM, and so on! Anxious about it, eager to "set them straight." We're called to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15 - agape) that requires charity, benevolence, and to be without condition! It also requires interaction, personal interaction. If there is a way to proclaim compassionless truth it is with a broad stoke, an unintentional audience, and a zeal and desire to be "heard" and not to heal! But, you might say, don't they need to hear the truth? Even if it hurts, the truth is the truth and if I love them then I will tell them the truth. While this is true the application must be considered. A parent, pastor, family member, friend, or one with influence is obligated by the Word to speak the truth in love, even if it "hurts" or offends the one receiving it, but what does that look like? It doesn't look like a diatribe on twitter, a condemnation on facebook, or an article in the newspaper, those are akin to the office water fountain gossip that condemns everyone and heals no one! What it does look like is a Samaritan who sees another in need and acts. (Luke 10, Go read the story if you're unfamiliar.) The scriptures don't tell us if they spoke to one another, it doesn't tell us if the injured man was aware or cognizant, we don't know if they exchanged names or learned of one another's life and experiences but we do know that the Gospel applied in proximity with agape love is effectual, it does something, it changes a life which will ripple out and change culture and continue on to change the world! Andrew Breitbart rightly said "politics are downstream from culture." And John C. Wright extended the saying as he said "Politics is downstream from culture and culture is downstream from religion. One cannot change a man’s mind unless his heart allows it. But one cannot change a man’s heart unless his soul allows it. In the same way politics is downstream of culture, culture is downstream of religion. In the same way a man’s actions are dependent on his beliefs, his beliefs are dependent upon his primal and fundamental assumptions that form his character. What we are fighting is not a culture war but a religious war, for leftism is not a culture, it is a religion." The good Samaritan had an advantage, he had no social media to glory and virtue signal his actions, he had no cell phone with a high definition camera to video the beating instead of coming to the aid of the injured, he had no like or share button on his facebook page for his fellow Samaritans to confirm and solidify his actions, and he had no cancel culture to destroy him should they disagree! This man had his conscience and God above to hold him accountable and he acted with the Gospel in proximity! The Gospel was tangible!


Application


I'm not saying that we aren't supposed to fight evil on a large cultural scale. I'm not saying that we aren't supposed to fight for biblical justice on a political and judicial plane. I'm also not saying that our goals shouldn't be broad, national, or global but what I am saying is that the most effective change comes from small everyday personal interactions where we as human beings made in the image of God love each other with that unconditional agape love of the risen Christ! Buy someone's gas, invite people over for dinner, wash someone's feet, LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR! They're not hundreds or thousands of miles away, they're right next door! Covid will end, masks will be irrelevant someday, nations will rise and fall, prophesy will end, knowledge will cease, but LOVE will remain!


1 Corinthians 13

The Excellence of Love

1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body [a]to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 [b]bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of [c]prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I [d]became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror [e]dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the [f]greatest of these is love.

Sacrifice to Molech and the Judgment of God!

Romans 1:18 (KJV)

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;


I remember when hurricane Katrina brought devastation to New Orleans in August of 2005. I also remember having discussions with other Christians questioning whether this could be the judgment of God. The question was raised among popular Christians and they received resistance as if it was unacceptable to think that 1.) God is still a God of wrath and judgment and 2.) that America deserved to be on the receiving end of that wrath! Today, some fifteen years removed from that destruction we find ourselves in a war, a war of ideologies and of worldviews, division is at an all time high, rioting in the streets of nearly every major city, a pandemic that has taken thousands of lives and is suffocating our freedoms, a financial crisis of depression magnitude, crime and murder are skyrocketing as police officers walk away from the profession with whole departments disbanded or defunded! It's like up is down and down is up! Churches were closed down for months, everyone is demanded and commanded to wear masks and avoid social contact! The question I must raise is why? And the answer I must give is Judgment! The wrath of God poured out on a rebellious nation and disobedient children! Our nation has abandoned it's Christian foundation and replaced it with secular materialism. We have exchanged our capitalistic constitutional republic for a marxist communistic intersectionality driven oligarch! We've abandoned our oath to LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and replaced it with a culture of death, power, and political correctness where deviation equals cancellation! These things are destructive and sinful but they are not our most grievous of corporate sins!


Psalm 9:17 (KJV)

17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.


In our current race war our flawed past has been brought to the forefront. If we asked the multitude what they believed America's greatest sin was/is I would wager that the most popular answer would be the institution of slavery. Though it is a mark upon our past it isn't even close to being our most grievous problem. With 600,00 slaves brought to the states from Africa and that population reaching upwards of 4 million by 1860 you might ask how this couldn't be the original sin of America but trust me, our most grievous sin dwarfs the magnitude of our past that's marked with this great evil! 


Molech


Today our nation is committing genocide, murdering our own children! In an ad for New Saint Andrew's college they made this statement "the most dangerous place for a black life in this nation is a womb!" We have a new form of an ancient Canaanite religion, we're sacrificing our children to the god Molech!


Current United States Data*

Total number of abortions in the U.S. 1973-2018: 61.8 million+
186 abortions per 1,000 live births (according to the Centers for Disease Control)


U.S. Abortions in 2017: ~862,320 (Guttmacher Institute)
Abortions per day: 2362+ (GI)
Abortions per hour: 98+ (GI)
1 abortion every 96 seconds (GI)
13.5 abortions / 1000 women aged 15-44 in 2017 (GI)


These statistics include only surgical and medical abortions. Because many contraceptive measures are abortifacients (drugs that induce or cause abortions), it is important not to overlook the number of children killed by chemical abortions. Since 1965, an average of 11 million women have used abortifacient methods of birth control in the United States at any given time. Using formulas based on the way the birth control pill works, pharmacy experts project that about 14 million chemical abortions occur in the United States each year, providing a projected total of well in excess of 610 million chemical abortions between 1965 and 2009. (from  https://www.all.org/learn/abortion/abortion-statistics/)


Our sins are many, our injustices abound, but the glaring tangible reality that this nation has forgotten God and the disobedient children(the church) are cowardly and silent is the fact that 61.8 MILLION, not hundred, not thousand, not ten thousand, not one hundred thousand, not a million, not ten million, not twenty million, not thirty million, not forty million, not fifty million, but 61.8 MILLION precious babies have been MURDERED at the behest of their parent(s), those who are supposed to protect and nurture them! If we believe that God would sit idly by and hold back his wrath of judgment on a nation so wicked then we don't know God nor his nature! 


Think about it, Hitler killed 11 million, Stalin killed 20 million, Mao killed 30 million and the US has killed more than all three combined and ours were precious innocent babies! Judgment is not only deserved, it happening even now!

An Attitude of Worship!

Worship is engrained in the heart of man, it's part of our created nature. We long for the transcendent, we are empty in the material world alone and we NEED, we CRAVE, we search for something more! Many try to find comfort and peace in the midst of earthly pleasures, pursuing all sorts of distorted pleasures in hope that something will fill the void in our lives! The creature cannot be fulfilled by the created. By grace those who have placed their trust, faith, and lives in the work of Christ recieve by that same grace his peace that passes all understanding, his righteousness,  his Spirit, his joy, his mind and yet we(the visible church) fail to worship the LORD as he so rightly deserves. Across the text of scripture there is only one unto whom worship is to be directed and the one deemed worthy is God, the God who saved us, the God who delivered us, the creator God and yet we sincerely lack to fulfill the task we were created to do. Let me be clear, I'm not simply speaking of being charismatic or performing religious rituals, I'm talking about an attitude of worship that works itself out in our actions towards the living God!


     I want to look at the Gospel of John and in chapter 12 we find an example of an attitude of worship that lays down the temporal, lays down the cultural, risks everything, is willing to act, is willing to sacrifice and to do all of this in the name of worship, adulation, adoration, loyalty, faith, love, and trust. Let's set the stage...... we just previously were told the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the grave in the preceding chapter and the story picks up here in chapter 12 with a fellowship at the house of Simon the Leper(Matthew 26) where Martha is serving and Lazarus is seated at the table and Christ Jesus is present with them yet no one is phased, Simon the Leper as host doesn't even wash Jesus' feet as would have been the custom. Simon was a leper but Christ healed him, Lazarus WAS dead but Christ raised him and yet there's no account of them being enamored with the one who brought their healing but in walks a woman named Mary and everything changes! Mary, more than likely a former harlot, a woman who in that culture had no rights, no worth, no value, no dignity, no identity(as she wasn't married), and no hope walks in with an alabaster box full of ointment worth a years wages falls at the feet of the Christ washes his feet with her tears, pulls down her hair and drys them with it, anoints him from head to toe with that ointment and in complete abandon worships the Christ in a living room full of healed people who don't even acknowledge his presence! Mary gives us one of the purest pictures of an attitude of worship ever recorded. What was this attitude of worship?


     First, it was a willingness to surrender! Christ declared that if any man were to follow him then he would have to deny himself, pick up his cross daily, and follow him. He also declared that if any love mother or father, brother or sister more than him then they were not worthy to be one of his. He also declared that any who sought to save their life would lose it but those who in surrender were willing to lose their life would save it! She surrendered EVERYTHING to Christ in this one moment of unconstrained worship! She surrendered her identity,  her glory, her wealth, her reputation,  she didn't just break the alabaster box, she broke herself and poured out everything that she was at the foot of the one gave her everything! She didn't just surrender part but this woman surrendered EVERYTHING!


     Secondly,  it was a willingness to sacrifice! Worship always costs something, every sacrifice cost a life, every act of worship costs a price! We MUST sacrifice our pride for we cannot humbly bow with a haughty brow! We must sacrifice our identity and be new in Christ! We must sacrifice our reputations, our standings in the culture, we will go against the grain at times, we will potentially be called to sacrifice all that we are, all that we know, all that we possess, and all that we love in this world to worship and we flippantly call a short meeting on Sunday worship! We can't even consistently sacrifice time, pleasure, sports, money, jobs, partys, or many other mundane things to commit to worship with fellow believers even though all those previous things will pass away but corporate worship will one day be an eternal act of the redeemed in the presence of God Almighty in heaven! She spent a years wage, spent her Glory, spent the cultural norm, and spent her reputation all in the name of worship. 


     Lastly, it was an attitude based on belief in the truth! Many attempt to worship God in spirit alone and not in truth! How can we worship that which we do not know? This house filled with people miraculously affected by Christ failed to recognize his diety or his prophetic word concerning his death, well, all except a local harlot who had been forgiven! Many can't worship in trust because they don't believe He's sovereign.  Many can't worship in peace because they fail to recognize him as King! Many can't worship the Christ because the Christ they know is not the true Christ from scripture but a false Christ invented in their minds! Those who worship will worship in spirit and truth! Paul writes in the letter to the Corinthians that when we pray to pray with the spirit and with understanding and when we sing we are to sing with the spirit and with understanding! Corporate worship as well as individual worship will only be as great as our understanding of the one whom we worship! Know him, search him, love him and then you can rightly worship him!


       I call us today to not sit idly by, but to recognize his presence,  to act in submission,  in sacrifice,  and in understanding in worship of our God!

Today we die!

 Today We Die!


Galatians 2:20 KJV

20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.



Isn't it crazy how death changes a man. When confronted with the reality of our frailty and our temporal, short, seemingly insignificant life it changes us in ways we could never have imagined. It changes a man, but only temporarily, only up and until it fades out of sight and then out of mind. I mean, we all know we're going to die yet when someone close to us passes away it's always a shock. Death has that effect doesn't it, it's certain yet unexpected. What if we practiced dying? Yes, you read that loaded question correctly. But what if we were so accustomed to death that it bore no impact? What if death was our normal? The reason that death has such an effect upon the man who is confronted by it, is that, in the midst of the unexpected, the unknown, and the unaccustomed we shrink back in fear and forget that death has been defeated and declared so by the resurrection of the crucified Christ! Why do we forget that? How could we forget that? Maybe we don't forget it at all but simply fail to trust or believe it in the face of our fears. We read throughout church history of the obedient martyrs of the faith and their unwavering allegiance to Christ even unto death! We can look to scripture and read of Stephen and his willingness to preach the Gospel and to lose his life at the hands of evil men! What about Polycarp, Wycliffe, Tyndale, or John Huss? Find yourself a copy of John Foxe's Book of Martyrs and read through its pages and witness the countless brave, committed, devoted, obedient, and willing followers of Christ who understood, believed, and rested in the truth that this life is not the prize nor is death the victor! When we read such stories don't you think its odd that we celebrate? That we glory in their willingness to lay their lives down yet if we were put to the test we would weep and tremble and possibly or probably would recant! Many of the early martyrs sang, praised God, rejoiced, smiled, preached, and testified as they were burned at the stake, crucified, boiled, laid upon the chopping block, or secured at the gallows and we in our spoiled, rebellious, self-aggrandizing nature aren't willing to sacrifice in the slightest. But let's not think they just made it to that level devotion  without sacrifice or practice! Our idea of sacrifice is volunteering at the soup kitchen for an hour or passing a five dollar bill to the guy at the corner. True sacrifice is the call of the Gospel, self-sacrifice, dying to one's self and living unto Christ. In The Cost of DiscipleshipDeitrich Bonhoeffer declares “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” It's all throughout the teachings of Christ and yet we seem to be blind to it's presence! 


Luke 9:23 (KJV)

23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me


Matthew 10:37-39 King James Version (KJV)

37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.


Mark 10:21-22 King James Version (KJV)

21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.


Luke 14:26-28 King James Version (KJV)

26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?


Galatians 6:14 King James Version (KJV)

14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.


Romans 12:1 King James Version (KJV)

12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.


Matthew 8:19-22 King James Version (KJV)

19 And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.

20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

21 And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.

22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.


Luke 9:61-62 King James Version (KJV)

61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.

62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.


Do we believe that Christ was speaking in allegory? In metaphor? Were these mere suggestions or commands? Was Christ serious when he proclaimed that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to go to Heaven? We may not say as much but we sure do live like it! Obedience is better than sacrifice but true obedience ALWAYS requires the sacrifice of death to self! PERIOD! Now lets go back to before and I'll pose the question again, why don't we practice dying? Daily, with discipline, dying to ourselves, our pride, our desires, our plans, our comfort, our wealth, our pleasures, our time, our possessions, our families, our friends, our luxuries, our ___________ fill in the blank. Would we die for the faith? How can we say that we would die for our faith in Christ when we boldly refuse to die to ourselves every day? I've said it before and it bears repeating here, for our priorities to be rightly placed nothing should be above God and nothing below ourselves! Do we live like that? 


The Apostle Paul speaks of the truth that if Christ is not risen then his labor is in vain. He also says that if we have hope in Christ in this life only we'd be of all men most miserable. He then speaks of his devotion to the call of Christ and the cost of it all, how he has wagered his life many times for the Gospel's sake and that the truth that grounds him in those moments is the reality of Christ's victory over death! This is our call, to remember, to believe, to discipline ourselves, to practice dying daily!


1 Corinthians 15:30-32 King James Version (KJV)

30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?

31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.

32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.


What's the point of confessing Christ, of religious piety, of sacrifice, of any work for and in the kingdom of God if this life is of any inherent value outside of Christ and his work? The reason that the Christian can die to self is the proclamation of the redemption of our bodies and the gift of eternal life! Practicing this daily, self-denial, self-mortification, you know, that old King James word temperance or what we would call self-control, practicing dying daily will prepare us to sacrifice for Christ whatever he may desire, even unto family, wealth, or even death! Isn't it crazy how death changes a man? You remember right? The day you died to this world and was raised unto new life in Jesus Christ. That moment that you publicly displayed and confessed that truth in your baptism where you was joined unto Christ's death and risen in His resurrection. How much more would we be conformed unto the image of Christ if we practiced dying daily? Never let it fade, this is why we partake of the Lord's supper, to remember and proclaim His death until He comes!


Meditate on this anonymous poem


When you are forgotten, neglected, or purposely set at naught, and you don't sting or hurt with the oversight, but your heart is happy being counted worthy to suffer for Christ;

That is dying to self.


When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinion ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart or even defend yourself, but take it all in patient, loving silence;

That is dying to self.


When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, any annoyance; when you can stand face to face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensibility, and endure it as Jesus did;

That is dying to self.


When you are content with any food, and offering, any raiment, any climate, any society, any solitude, any interruption by the will of God;

That is dying to self.


When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation or record your own good works or itch after commendation, when you can truly love to be unknown;

That is dying to self.


When you can see your brother prosper and have his needs met, and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy, nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and you are in desperate circumstances;

That is dying to self.

 

When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself and can humbly submit, inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart;

That is dying to self.




Remember, practice, pray, for today you die!

Transparency; The Healing In Confessing!

 


Transparency; The Healing In Confessing!


As a child, did you ever do something wrong and you knew if someone found out, that there would

be trouble? For days you avoided certain subjects and people, living in complete turmoil, no sleep, just worried to death. Then it happens, they found out! And instead of the world coming to an end all was forgiven and time went on. Looking back we realize that there is power, peace, and freedom in confession! As a child who grew up in a protestant family, I was taught the importance of confessing my sins, but only to Jesus. I'm sure, if you're not Catholic, confessing your sins to anyone other than Jesus seems foreign, embarrassing, and down right scary. Most of us are taught to hold it all in but sin is like dynamite, it's volatile and destructive when under pressure! Confessing to Jesus is an absolute, without doing so we would all be lost, but if no one else knows about it then there's no accountability, there's no humility, no recognition of the pain sin really causes! We need not confess to a priest for spiritual forgiveness, that's completely irrational and non scriptural but in this doctrinal difference we've lost the empowerment, peace, and freedom that comes in confessing our sins one to another. When we

become transparent, we begin to realize we can

never keep the standard we like to think we keep, we realize the humanity in others when they sin and we become less judgmental and more compassionate! I'm not saying to broadcast your sins to the world or on social media, what I'm saying is to find yourself a brother or sister in Christ whom you can confide in, in confidence, and allow them to be your accountability, your sounding board, your reality check and confess your sins one to another! You won't believe the liberation, the freedom, when everything is out on the table and the love of Christ remains, your humility will grow, your compassion will flourish, your power will increase to more Godliness and you will become more and more Christlike, and when others see this, they'll listen! If you want spiritual power, if you want spiritual influence, if you want to have a lasting testimony, then break the barrier of your facade, be transparent, resolve to truly repent, acknowledge your faults one to another, the prayer of a righteous man availeth much!



James 5:16King James Version (KJV)

16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.


Psalm 32:5King James Version (KJV)

5 I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.


Proverbs 28:13King James Version (KJV)

13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.


1 John 1:9King James Version (KJV)

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Nehemiah 9:1-3King James Version (KJV)

9 Now in the twenty and fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackclothes, and earth upon them.

2 And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers.

3 And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the Lord their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the Lord their God.

What is worship - the remix

 Now that's a mouthful of a question, a question that evokes a myriad of definitions and responses. All across church history and biblical history this seems to be the age old question and if we dig in to the question  we will find that it is typically skewed. What people are really asking is, where do we worship, how do we worship, when do we worship, what do we wear to worship, does it have to include music, instruments, singing, preaching, charity, etc. At the inner most place in our heart we ALL know the essence of worship. Even before any person is regenerated and saved by grace we not only know what worship is but we do it, all the time, just not correctly. 


Remember that I said this was even a question in biblical history, even Jesus had to deal with this very question! Lets look at John 4. Jesus is on his way to Galilee from Judea and he has to go through Samaria to get there and as he rests at Jacob's well in Samaria a Samaritan women came to that well and Jesus engages her in conversation. See, the dispute at that time was "where" to worship.


John 4:19-24 NASB

19 The woman *said to Him, “[d]Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” 21 Jesus *said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 God is [e]spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”


Christ squashes all the external questions. God must be worshiped in Spirit and Truth! God is seeking for those who will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth! What does that mean? How does that work out in our present reality?


I was listening to a sermon this morning and the Pastor was talking about how years ago he was watching a Michael Jackson concert on television and as the camera panned out to see the crowd what he saw was crazy. I remember seeing similar video of Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley and what we saw among the crowd was a mass of thousands of people completely mesmerized, completely fixated, wholly engaged by them. Some were so lost in the moment that they seemed to be in a trance, completely fixated on the artist. With artists of such magnitude we saw women crying, people fainting, screaming, no inhibitions, no distractions, nothing else outside of that moment and the truth that someone they exalted was in their presence mattered! You know what they were doing? Worshiping Michael, worshiping Elvis! It wasn't real worship because only God is worthy to be praised but in our natural sense of the word they were guilty of worshiping an idol!! They worshiped a man who knew them not, would never do anything for them, would never know their name, struggles, pains, questions, and story. Yet we have the opportunity to worship Christ the Lord but choose dead, rehearsed, scheduled, dry "worship."


From the Hebrew and Greek words that we translate in English to worship they revolve around position(demeanor) and action. From to prostrate, to bow, to reverence, servitude, sacrifice, and slavish surrender. 


Jesus says to authentically, fully, and genuinely worship God we MUST do it In Spirit and In Truth! Let's dive into that.


How do we worship(bow, reverence, serve, act, emote) God in Spirit? First, for one to truly worship God they MUST be indwelt with the Holy Spirit thus they are born-again children of Almighty God. But that's not all. The deeper, more broad understanding of the Greek word here that is used in this quotation presses into the deepest part of a man, his soul! It's often defined as the vital principal by which the body is animated. The rational spirit, the power by which the human feels, thinks, decides. The disposition or influence which fills and governs the soul. The efficient source of our power, affection, emotion, and desire! When we worship God it must express the supernatural realm in the disposition, actions, posture, words, and relationships of the physical reality we are bound to! Our senses engulfed by the beauty, majesty, holiness, graciousness, and love of God! In worship we will be focused, sensitive to the Holy Spirit and His unction, blinded by the Grace of God, and we will be so moved that it WILL express itself in our actions, our service, our posture, our emotions, our sacrifice, our reverence, our everything! 


Secondly, we are commanded by Christ that we MUST worship God in Truth. How do we worship God in truth? The Spirit ALWAYS points to Christ who is the Word in flesh, the TRUTH! The only way we can be moved to such passion, reverence, fear, humility, excitement, devotion, actions, service, sacrifice, and joy is that we know the truth of God's Word! Many today cannot worship because they know not the truth! They have all the passion, excitement, and emotion but no truth, that's not true worship! The other side to understanding this prescription of worship in truth is authenticity. Real, true, right, not taught, bought, or fake. Not emulation, not obligation, not performance, not merely emotion but a true reaction in your soul to what you know is true about God as revealed in scripture!


Many try to worship with truth alone. Liturgy, rituals, songs, service, and programs with no Spirit! Conversely, every Sunday by the droves millions make there way to a place where they attempt to worship with vain oblations, emotions, entertainment, motivational speeches, and awesome bands yet truth isn't anywhere to be found! This is why it is imperative to pray in the spirit, drown yourself in the truth of the scriptures and marry the two in meditation! You'll never truly worship otherwise!


It's the essence behind the expression!


It's a beautiful marriage between the heart and the mind, the soul and the spirit, the physical and the supernatural, passion and expression, the communion between God and man.


An expression of the truth of God by the Spirit of God in the physical world.


The direct expression of our ultimate purpose for living, to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.


Isaiah 6 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Isaiah’s Vision

6 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said,

“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,

The [a]whole earth is full of His glory.”

4 And the [b]foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the [c]temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said,

“Woe is me, for I am ruined!

Because I am a man of unclean lips,

And I live among a people of unclean lips;

For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is [d]forgiven.”

Isaiah’s Commission

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”


Here, in the presence of God in the midst of Heavenly worship Isaiah is humbled, amazed, speechless, encouraged, fearful and reverent, repentant, forgiven, empowered, called, commissioned, and sent. Real worship motivates, encourages, humbles, creates reverence, changes our hearts, our demeanor, and our direction, demands us to listen, repent, and proclaim the majesty of God! 


We have the opportunity to truly worship!


Romans 12:1-2 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Dedicated Service

12 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, [a]acceptable to God, which is your [b]spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this [c]world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may [d]prove what the will of God is, that which is good and [e]acceptable and perfect.


Here we have the command and the foundation to perform it. 


Hebrews 12:22-24 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of [a]angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.


Every time we truly worship God in Spirit and in truth we join the corridors of Heaven in a majestic symphony of praise, honor, glory, reverence, majesty, and exaltation of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit! It's transcendent!


It will move us, excite us, humble us, cause us to fear in reverence, repent in humility, and sing praise in joy through salvation! Emotion and truth married in expression and action!


I'll leave you with William Temple's definition of worship....


"Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His Beauty; the opening of the heart to His love; the surrender of will to His purpose – and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin"