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.
From 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
Revelation chapter 18 concerns the Lord calling His people out of spiritual Babylon and its ultimate destruction by fire. I believe one day spiritual Babylon will be destroyed, literally, but until then, each of us who have heard and responded to the Lord’s call to “come out of her, My people” (Revelation 18:4), must overcome the strongholds religious Babylon has within us. To that end, the Lord has often challenged me to examine what I believe and throw down to destruction that which is not of Him and His Truth.
One of the most unsettling things I’ve done to examine my beliefs, is to compare the 4 books of the gospel, with the rest of the new testament. Take for example the word “church”; Jesus used it just 3 times (Matthew 16:18 and 18:17), whereas it is used 113 times in Acts through Revelation (KJV translation). The Greek word “ekklesia”, which translators have rendered “church”, actually means “assembly”, yet it is translated “assembly” just 3 times out of 116 occurrences in the New Testament; Acts 19:32, :39 and :41. That passage refers to a gathering of the Ephesians in a civic hall to address the threat that The Way posed to their profitable business of making and selling silver shrines for the idol Artemis (Diana). Continue reading
A benefit concert for a free medical clinic inspired me to write a new song for the event. The heart of the person who put it all together really touched me as one of few genuine church building efforts I’ve seen in years.
For the concert, the Lord impressed me with a message about Church building. Most of us have heard that the “Church” is a people, not a building. Yet it seems whenever church building is discussed, the conversation always turns to a house of wood. Concerning the things of this world we work so hard to build and maintain, Paul tells us that the Lord will test the quality of our work by fire (1 Corinthians 3:13).
Accordingly, we really need to ask ourselves whether what we are working on will survive the fire, for only that which remains is worthy of our labors. We can be certain that our church buildings, camp and conference grounds, church buses and the like will be burned up. When the ‘things of this world’ are gone, I think we will see that our only enduring work is the investments we have made in others (Matthew 25:31-46). Continue reading
Q: Can any 2 believers gather together, declare their gathering is “in Jesus name” and thereby compel the Lord to join them?
Whenever two or three of you come together in my name, I am there with you. (Matthew 18:20 CEV)
When I was young in the faith (read: immature), my approach to God’s Word was like that of an attorney who pours over the fine print in a contract to identify beneficial provisions and hold God accountable to fulfill them for me. In so doing, I was trying to use God in a selfish and manipulative way to do my will.
The Bible software I use, has available 32 English translations for exploring scripture, some of which are mapped to the Greek texts for further study. Often while studying, the Holy Spirit will prompt me to compare all 32 translations to get a better understanding of a scripture. His Spirit prompted me to read every translation of Matthew 18:20 and one in particular jumped out at me; a subtle difference from the other 31 translations. Continue reading
Hal 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
Before retiring a few years ago, I was an auditor and analyst. A successful auditor requires a well developed nose for error, i.e., we’re a suspicious lot, but hopefully not to the point of paranoia. Likewise, a good analyst is all about the facts and data. So I suppose it was only natural that my suspicions together with my need for fact-based truth, would compel me to sit down with a large stack of church bulletins spanning several years of worship services, to inventory and analyze the many scriptures that were read for the sermon. My “gut” strongly suspected us pew-warmers were not getting the whole story and so I set out to confirm my suspicions.
It was quickly apparent that the same scriptures were read year after year in the weeks preceding Passover, Easter, Pentecost and Christmas, while entire books and chapters of scripture were never read at all. The first time I attempted such an investigation back in the early 80’s, I discovered that the pastor read just 10 verses of scripture on average, before giving his sermon. A few minutes of number crunching demonstrated it would take almost 60 years** to preach through the Bible at that rate, assuming no scriptures were ever repeated. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking; “how anal” and I don’t deny that. It’s just one of those things us analyst and auditor types do for fun when we’re not digging through the freezer to sort TV dinners in order of the “best used by” date. Suffice it to say, the exercise showed me IF I wanted to know what was in the Bible, I would have to read it for myself. Continue reading
Religionists have a habit of interpreting spiritual things physically and literally. Take for example the prophecy of Amos wherein God said “I will rebuild the fallen tabernacle of David … declares the Lord” (Amos 9:11 and Acts 15:16). In Kansas City, Metro Christian Fellowship (formerly Kansas City Vineyard) church has created the International House of Prayer (IHOP) which they claim to be a model for the rebuilt tabernacle of David, where musicians, singers, dancers and other artistic people have “worshiped” God 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, since September 19th, 1999. Clearly they have made a literal interpretation of Amos 9:11 and Acts 15:16.
But is that a Spiritual and Biblical understanding of the prophecy in Amos/Acts?
I am of the belief that IHOP is misguided, even a vain work of the flesh as are many of men’s efforts to replicate old testament temple worship practices and to build that which the Lord has said HE himself will build. Once again, following the command of Paul who wrote “Do not go beyond what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6), which I believe to mean “let scripture interpret scripture”, nowhere in the NT are we commanded to go out and build buildings for worship or holding church services.
Concerning all the buildings we have put up “for God”, scripture still says “God does NOT live in temples made by men” (Acts 7:48, Acts 17:24, Matthew 23:38) and Jesus said, upon leaving the temple in Jerusalem for the last time before His trial “BEHOLD! Your house has been left to you, DESOLATE.” In other words, God has left the building. We could cover the world over with buildings we’ve built for God and not one would be good enough or big enough to serve as His house. That is why the Lord said through the prophet Isaiah “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house, then, could you build for me, what kind of place for me to live in?” (Isaiah 66:1 GNB) Where God uses the earth as His footstool, the best we might do is make Him a foot cushion, but certainly nothing big or grand enough to serve as His house. Continue reading