Literal or spiritual

In the gospels, the word “stone” is used literally and spiritually. For example, Matthew 7:9 appears to be a literal use of the word.

“Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?” Matthew 7:9

rock-pile-ivan-slosarLikewise, Matthew 28:2.

“And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.” Matthew 28:2

Matthew 21:42 and 44 on the other hand, use the word “stone” as a spiritual metaphor, in reference to Yeshua.

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:” ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Matthew 21:42

And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” Matthew 21:44

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Repentance

Since posting “Choices”, I’ve been pondering the nature of repentance, particularly since with every election, Christians renew the call for America to repent. Asked to elaborate, most cite abortion and homosexuality as their primary complaints. War, divorce, removing prayer from schools, and pornography are also cited, though typically with less revulsion than is reserved for abortion and homosexuality.

'Hit him again Martha he still hasn't repented...'How I wish I could claim I’ve never been caught up in one of Christianity’s campaigns to stamp out sin in the world. Frankly, the world has every right to sin; a right granted by the Father. But when has scripture – the Word of Truth – ever stopped a religious person who was hell bent on doing a vain religious work? Certainly scripture never stopped me when I was headstrong to carry out some self-righteous work “for God”.

Let the one who does what is evil continue to do what is evil. Let the filthy person continue to be filthy. Let the righteous person continue to do what is right. And let the holy person continue to be holy.” (Revelation 22:11 ISV)

The operative words above? “Let them.” Regretfully, my youthful zeal was easily exploited by those who rail against sin and one day I found myself Continue reading

A dream remembered

NOTE: This article is a follow up to the article Deacons? What were the apostles thinking?

The Strange Fishing Dream occurred 10-15 years ago and with the help of friends, the understanding seemed clear. Not long after, I had another fishing dream, forgotten until the Lord brought it to mind today and helped me to see the meaning.

The Dream

funnyfishFrom the window of a vacant industrial building on a pier over the Puget Sound, I was fishing and hooked a big fish, the size of a cow. Somehow I managed to reel it in on a pole much too small for the job, lifted it out of the water, pulled it through the window and placed it on what looked like a boat cradle. I don’t remember that the fish weighed anything.

It was a funny looking fish, with a rounded boxy shape and unlike anything I’d ever seen come out of the Puget Sound. It was bloated looking, smooth skinned and had a pleasant but dumb looking expression on its face. Continue reading

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For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV) The length of our lives is decided beforehand— the number of months we will live. You have settled it, and it can’t be changed. (Job 14:5 GNB) You saw me before I was born. The days allotted to me had all been recorded in your book, before any of them ever began. (Psalms 139:16 GNB) You do not belong to yourselves but to God; he bought you for a price. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 GNB) How precious are your thoughts concerning me, O God! How vast in number they are! (Psalms 139:17 GW) For we are God’s masterpiece, created in the Messiah Jesus to perform good actions that God prepared long ago to be our way of life. (Ephesians 2:10 ISV)

How many different ways can God tell us that He loves us? He created us with purpose. His intentions toward us are for a life of goodness and mercy. He has a plan for us to live an abundant life and to enjoy His continual presence. Yet despite these truths, human nature seems inclined to take an altogether different view of God: angry, indifferent, punishing,  volatile, etc.
Such was my view of God for many years, when in following my own will, I wandered from the path He had charted for me and alienated myself from Him. Thankfully, God’s plans for me also included a course correction and I ran to Him in the midst of my heartbreak. For several years I was in a kind of “intensive care” with the Lord, who did a marvelous healing work on my soul and restored me to His plan for me. It is with these things in mind that I want to share a smidgen of my testimony concerning the many ways in which God has demonstrated His love.

My mother, whose name is “Joy”, delivered me on December 31st. Growing up, my birthday party was always postponed thanks to Jesus’ birthday party the week before, New Year’s Eve parties and watching the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day! I can’t count the number of times when shortly before midnight on New Year’s Eve, the host would shout “I almost forgot! We better sing Happy Birthday to Jack before it’s over!” Sometimes the revelers cut it so close, they had to make a medley of Happy Birthday and Auld Lang Syne. Still that’s better than the disaster of 1973 when my high school youth group tried singing the 2 songs as a round (j/k).

bdaycakeBelieve it or not, it’s only gotten worse since when I was a kid. I remarried in my mid 40’s and moved to Illinois to be near my wife’s large and close-knit family, where my birthday is not only shared with Jesus, but also with my new brother-in-law and 2 nephews whose birthdays are between December 28 and 30th. Picture 4 people crowded around a single birthday cake, lit, re-lit and blown out 4 separate times. As often as we all come down with the same nasty cold on New Years, you’d think we’d have learned to bake 2 cakes; a sacrificial cake for blowing out and otherwise slobbering upon, and another sanitary cake for feeding everyone. Continue reading

Wheat field vision

The Vision. Spring of 2000.

wheatfield

Suddenly I was standing in the middle of a vast rolling wheat field. How I got there, I had no idea. It was as if one moment I was a stalk of wheat and the next I was a man. As the vision continued to unfold, I thought to myself I need to look for others and began to look around for a building where I might find other people or a phone where I could call someone to come and pick me up. Turning completely around I didn’t see ANY evidence of buildings or other men in sight. So I stood there, waiting.

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Caught up with Jesus, yet?

The_Late,_Great_Planet_Earth_coverHal Lindsay’s book The Late Great Planet Earth was first published in 1970 the same year I received Jesus as Lord. It was about 10 years later I finally read the book whereupon I was gripped by tribulation-mania and the possibility of being caught up at any moment in the rapture with Jesus. How well I remember deliberating whether to renew my subscription to the Wittenburg Door Magazine for 1 or 2 years. If the rapture were imminent, renewing for 2 years would be a waste of money, so I renewed for just 1 year.

It’s a silly story, but the fact is Hal Lindsey’s book and others like it, have sewn much yeast into the body of Christ. Christians fixated on the impending rise of the antichrist, the tribulation and the rapture have been rendered ineffective in the present by constantly fixing their eyes on a future escape from reality. Instead of living and rejoicing in our Savior who is here even NOW and who said “the kingdom of God is WITHIN you” (Luke 17:21), they await a future encounter with Jesus.

What an utterly useless way to live!

Don’t worry about tomorrow. It will take care of itself. You have enough to worry about today. Matthew 6:34
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Lord, teach us to pray!

While waiting for my wife, I watched a man hobble out of the post office to his car, laboring over each step while leaning on a cane for support. With so many elderly in this community, it is fairly common to see people who are struggling with failing health. My heart goes out to them and often I find myself quietly praying for their healing and comfort.

prayerAs I prayed for the man at the post office, the Holy Spirit impressed me that I was relying on human sight to pray for people suffering from obvious physical conditions. With that in mind, the Holy Spirit prompted me to consider how my praying might change if I could see a person’s spiritual needs and respond with prayer for them.

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