God Uses Imperfect People to Forward His Kingdom and Save His Children

Let’s face it, that’s all He has to work with. We were born perfect, but as soon as we reach the age of awareness / accountability, we learn (hopefully) that we carry the stain of Adam’s transgression, which can only be removed by the blood of Christ. Then, God begins the process of our perfection anew:

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:18 ESV

And yet, God has used people who had yet to seek Him out and latch onto that process. Moses, for example, was a murderer and a coward; but God used Him to free His children from the Egyptians, bring them His Law, deliver them to the promised land and author the first five books of the Bible (via Holy Spirit inspiration).

Again, God took a shepherd boy and made him a king. This king (David) went on to commit both adultery and murder. Yet God used him to unite Israel and to defend it against their enemies. Furthermore, He made King David a vessel for the Holy Spirit-inspired book of Psalms so that His children could learn how to approach Him to have a better relationship.

God gave King David’s son (Solomon) an enormous amount of wisdom both to rule Israel in a godly manner and to impart it to His children (in the book of Proverbs) so that we could live godly lives. He also showered Solomon with vast riches. Yet in spite of all this, King Solomon married wives who practiced pagan religions and allowed himself to be led astray from God by practicing the same.

However, our merciful God lifted up this fallen king, and restored Solomon to Him, simultaneously revealing the dangers of his treachery and of his dive into worldly excesses. Again He imbued Solomon with the Holy Spirit so that he could reveal the same to us in the book of Ecclesiastes.

God also used the pagan king of Persia (Cyrus) to free the Jews from captivity in Babylon.

Lastly, Jesus grabbed a hold of Saul of Tarsus by the spirit, who was a torturer and murderer of Christians and transformed him into the Apostle Paul. Paul came to be Christ’s foremost advocate, filled with the Holy Spirit, enabling him to write the majority of the New Testament.

God can employ anyone for His purposes. So, I’m offering my imperfect self to help advance the kingdom; and if anyone out there is a little (or a lot) imperfect, God is waiting for your help…

Goodnight and God bless.

God Created You for Relationship

Our relationship with God is based upon dependence. He wants us to depend upon Him.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Pr. 3:5, 6. NKJV

And in that dependency, we relate to Him through prayer – expressing both our wants and needs. God already knows what those are (Mt. 6:32), but He likes it when you talk to Him.

It’s an expression of your faith in that He can and will grant your petitions. (Heb. 11:6) It is in that same prayerful mind that we seek out His word and steep in Holy Spirit revelation to deepen our relationship, by getting to know God better. We learn that we can look to God for love and for strength in order to walk a spirit-filled life in a rebellious world.

We grab hold of His loving salvation within which He gifts us with eternal love, joy and freedom from the bonds of the adversary. This results from when our walk with God becomes one that revolves around the only truth, which is found in His ‘living word’ (Jesus), who resides within us. (Jn. 16:33; 1 Jn. 4:4.)

Our relationship then, has budded to include God, Christ and the Holy Spirit, wherein we are now being transformed moment by moment to be like Them. (2 Cor. 3:18)

We are then called to widen our relationship to include both brothers and sisters in Christ and all of the potential children of God by teaching the word and living the example.

We are relating through and for God to help widen His kingdom, to build an all-encompassing communion of one that defies the world’s indoctrinations, and any man-made doctrinal / denominational additions or subtractions of God’s word.

It is the pure spiritual connection that we seek. It’s all that God ever wanted from and for us. He wants all of us joined together in communal prayer and worship that initiates that interconnection.

We must not deny anyone (unless they are unsafe to be around) the chance to be related. You don’t know who God is trying to love you through, or how through you, He wants to send His love to them. Everyone needs to know that God loves all of His creations, and that in His mercy, forgiveness and transformation is available to all.

Jesus is working in everyone, whether or not they are aware of it.

In that same vein, we want to take a stand for our Relationship, especially in the face of whatever denigrations the world may hurl against us. The world and its inhabitants are temporary. Our relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit is eternal. (Mt. 10:16 – 22.)

Within our relationship with God, we also get our relationship with ourselves straightened out – finally knowing who we are as a child of God, and through the power of God, letting go of the worldly conglomeration of deceit that we previously thought was us.

We are wellsprings of Christ’s living water, given the privilege to show God to others to help them find Him in themselves for the sake of their own joy, peace and understanding – through relationship…

Goodnight and God bless.

How Merciful Is Our God?

In this postmodern world, we see history agonizingly repeating itself over and over. People run from God as hard and far as possible in their quest to be self-directed and self-satisfying. In the end, they are rewarded(?) with the misery that always accompanies immersion in the ways of the world – ultimately punished by the consequences of their own actions.

You might think that God is heartless for allowing people to fall into the darkest depths of despair, but He is in fact letting them experience the stark reality of a devil-may-care existence of a life lived without Him. God is letting them realize the futility of their stubbornness and rebellion.

People rail against what they proclaim to be a merciless God. Yet what immeasurable mercy must our God put forth in that humanity still exists after it has indulged in so much self-destructive immorality, hate, greed and ultimately waging the wars that those behaviors spawn?

With regards to wars, they are a product of the mercilessness of man, not God:

What leads to [the unending quarrels and conflicts among you? Do they not come from your [hedonistic] desires that wage war in your [bodily members [fighting for control over you]? James 4:1 AMP

You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. James 4:2 ESV

We as Christians, have to take great care in examining what we throw our support behind. In the Old Testament times, God sanctioned war because His people were an island of righteousness (to the best of their ability) desperately trying to survive in a world of satanic opposition. God was preserving His righteousness for perpetuity – to have a people throughout time to be called ‘His children.’ It was God’s mercy that brought them to victory.

Still, there was (and is) always a price to pay for war. War is not the way God would have us to fulfill His kingdom purposes. Even King David was admonished for his role in war, in that God would not allow him to build the temple he wanted to construct for his holy Father:

‘You have shed much blood and have made great wars; you shall not build a house for My name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in My sight.’ 1 Chr. 22:8 NKJV

Unfortunately, (due to the ways of man) Jesus told us that even up until the end of time, there would be wars:

“But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.” Lk. 21:9 NKJV

However, Jesus never sanctioned war.

U.S. Christians have a propensity to be patriotic and rally around our troops. On the surface, there is nothing wrong with that. Our country was founded upon Judeo-Christian principles and until recently, has always stood for morally high ground. It was a symbol of hope, a beacon of God’s mercy. And our troops have always stood at the ready to preserve both that mercy and the freedoms we hold so dear. We can never fully repay what we owe them for their sacrifices.

Yet, we must not allow that patriotism to incite us into saber rattling. War should be only the last resort – an answer to a direct attack.

There is no goodness, no value, no godliness in war. The U.S. has been, for all intents and purposes, in continual war since its inception.

And most of these wars had nothing to do with patriotism. They have purely been a product of sustaining, enriching and empowering the banks and the military-industrial complex. It is a way that the military justifies its existence and its horrific unchecked expansion, with a budget that exceeds the military expenditures of all other countries combined. Imagine what this country would be like if the tax burden of that irresponsible spending was lifted off of its people. That includes all of the money we waste on the cronyism associated with political and military special interests that reward favored defense contractors to build outrageously priced war machines that do not work.

That holds true for the World wars, the Korean war, the Vietnam war, and through our bungling foreign policy, the middle eastern wars. While we need a military defense at this time of history, we certainly don’t need it as a pre-emptive means of conquest to make the world conform to our dictates. It is offensive to God. We are called to be bastions of peace:

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Rom. 12:18 ESV

That is reflecting our merciful God. But I digress…

War is just another manifestation of how man cannot solve the great complexities of life without God. Humanity cannot perfect itself or its environs. Only the merciful grace of God can accomplish that (through the souls of the willing):

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Cor. 3:18 NKJV

The world itself is troubled because it reflects the nature of the sinful souls of the majority who populate it. We cannot create a righteous world through unrighteous means. Yet each time an individual soul yields itself to the will of God, His mercy brings the world towards that righteousness by another degree.

Conversely, those souls that choose to deny His mercy, force His hand in allowing them to step into eternal demise. How do they demonstrate their denial? By violating His will by placing their own in preeminence.

That’s not saying that a child of God will not commit the same violation. Yet, when we have God in our heart (through Christ), we receive His merciful conviction so that we are reminded to confess and repent, thereby acknowledging the mercy of God and bringing Him glory.

In that moment, we bend to His will and yield up our soul for His continuing transformation through His merciful extraction of our old self and its ways.

How merciful is our God?

Goodnight and God bless.

Being Godly Correct in a Politically Correct World

For over 20 years, I have been writing about the Bible and its application in a way that hopefully transcended church denominations. It’s been a quest to separate the intent of God, to the best of my ability, from the ego of man – to help lay out His path for godly living. (All of that work is currently in the editing process for future publication.)

I feel that now God is giving me an unction to help bring that kingdom message into the light for living in a postmodern world. I didn’t quite know how that was going to look, but as I was beginning to examine how Christianity was being written about in this era, I saw openings where I could light that candle.

What first caught my eye was the title of an article called The Day Jesus Threw God Out of Church by Dr. Steve McSwain. I thought, ‘That’s a declaration / viewpoint beyond anything I’ve ever encountered.’ I read it, and it led me to read three other articles he penned as well, to get further understandings of his philosophies.

God bless Dr. McSwain. We are all trying to find our spiritual path in this life. He says that he is a Christian (‘just not of a certain type’) and that he has been a minister for a number of years. In his articles, he puts forth some ideas that he feels represent the beliefs of woe begotten wayward churches and their congregants –  holding those out as a composite picture of the majority of the present-day church of Christ.

God knows that churches are peopled by humans with failings. Is there any institution that isn’t? There are also some that fall under the sway of human ‘personalities’ instead of the word of God. Yet, I contend that the majority of church-goers are doing their best to live a good (godly) life as it is presented in the Scriptures.

We know that as long as we inhabit this body, we are stuck in the world we live in. While I’m a huge proponent that anyone can live happily in this world if they’re on God’s path, it is not hard to be beguiled by the ways of the world, which are often in direct opposition to God’s:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Is. 55:8, 9. NKJV

And being that they do oppose the will of God, Christians are called to separate ourselves from those ways:

…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the word of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Rom. 12:1, 2. ESV

We are called to be ‘godly correct’ instead of politically correct.

One of the good Doctor’s other three posts is titled Christian By Nature. In it he rails against what he claims to be a Christian dogmatic stance that says only some people have been “pre -ordained to be on God’s short list of ‘insiders’ invited to his banquet in the sky, and as a consequence, I need not worry about those not so fortunate and are furthermore eternally doomed.” That is a gross misrepresentation:

The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the LORD. Lam. 3:25, 26. NASB

For the grace of God has appeared to all people, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age… Titus 2:11, 12. ESV

’Salvation for all people’ does not denote ‘pre-ordained insiders.’ Yes, in order to receive salvation, one must actively seek out God and His salvation, but everyone has right up until the day they die to receive that; but given that they don’t know when that day of death will come, an urgency exists for their search. How much more compassionate can God be?

And yet, Christ Himself taught that there will indeed be a final separation for those who do not believe in the salvation of God through Christ:

“…you will die [unforgiven and condemned] in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am the One [I claim to be], you will die in your sins.” Jn. 8:24 AMP

So, Jesus is not describing an unfortunate, pre-ordained, eternally doomed group. He is speaking to those who make the free will choice to join that crowd.

Furthermore, followers of Christ are not selectively trying to alienate anyone. We are instead called by God to lovingly warn them of the possible outcome of the wrong decision. Indeed, it is our duty and we are held accountable for doing so:

“…If I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman, and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes them away, his blood shall be upon his own head…But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his own iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.” Ezek. 33:2 – 4 & 6. ESV

The second of the other articles I read by Dr. McSwain was Why Christianity Needs Heretics. In it, he says, “It is the heretics who always counter the orthodoxy of the past and open believers to new possibilities in the future.” Orthodoxy refers to ‘beliefs or practices,’ and a ‘heretic’ describes one who is opposed to them. In one aspect, I agree with the doctor, in that the church must be cleansed of any doctrine of ‘man,’ that opposes the word of God – which is why I believe that the concept of church ‘denominations’ is harmful.

However, if the good doctor is referring to the Bible itself as ‘orthodoxy of the past,’ which he seems to infer, (as we’ll flesh out shortly), I must take a rigid (but lovingly) opposing view. A Christian, by definition, is one who follows Christ. Thus, he or she must stick to what He says:

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” Mt. 24:35 NKJV

“…blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Lk. 11:28 NKJV

“…he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life…” Jn. 5:24 NKJV

“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” Jn. 8:31 NKJV

“He who does not love me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.’ Jn. 14:24 NASB

We see then the word of Christ (revealed as the word of God) stands eternally, and it holds the key to salvation. Jesus is the word of God (Jn. 1:1); and what does God say about Himself?

“For I, the LORD, do not change…” Mal. 3:6 NASB

Furthermore, we are warned by God not to take it upon ourselves to change His word (that which represents Him):

“Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.” Dt. 12:32 NKJV

Some people are only what is called a ‘red letter’ Bible reader only – tossing any words not said directly by Jesus aside; but that was certainly not Jesus’ intent and purpose:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Mt. 5:17 ESV

Ultimately then, biblical orthodoxy, (‘of the past’) cannot be refuted and believers should not be open to ‘new possibilities’ (read: man-derived ideas) that conflict with the word of God.

The third of the three other articles of Dr. McSwain is Christianity is Alive and Well, within which he states that he is increasing hopeful because: ‘Churches and church leaders seem to be more emboldened to speak the truth, to open the doors to all people, to stop the dogmas and doctrines to act as spacers between the tiles on its sacred floors that do nothing but divide people into classes, sexes, races, or worse, “us and them” or “insiders” and “outsiders” the “saved” versus the “lost.”

I’d like to dovetail that statement into his article that garnished my primary attention, The Day Jesus Threw God Out of the Church.

In it, he quotes Lk. 19:45, 46, (see also Jn. 2:15, 16.), which is the account of when Jesus entered the Temple in Jerusalem and ejected the people conducting business there that smacked of material gain rather than activities revolving around worship.

This was an actual event. The good Doctor would have us believe that it was not an actual account, but instead a ‘metaphor.’ I admit that the Bible contains many metaphors – especially in the books of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation. However, the Bible was written in very simple syntax so that sheepherders could understand it. In most cases, the word is meant to be taken literally.

If one makes a metaphor of the majority of scripture, it opens it up to the capricious interpretations of man.

And while I agree with McSwain that Jesus was infuriated with how the Pharisees had manipulated the Jewish faith for their own gain, he’s all over the place taking pot shots at the Scriptures. He says that ‘God’s presence was believed to have resided in the ‘holiest of holy’ chamber in the Temple and that the high priest was only allowed in once a year. That’s not conjecture. It is from the mouth of God Himself, spoken through Moses.

Then the doctor starts talking about how the men of that time believed God was a male and infers that women must have been second class citizens. Admittedly, it was a patriarchal social system. However, God never said that He was a male exclusively:

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Gn. 1:27 NASB

God transcends sexual definition. Yet both He and His Son refer to Himself / He as ‘Father.’ That’s why you’ll find God spoken of in the male pronoun. However, you can also see in the above Scripture that He did create humans in two distinct sexes.

McSwain says this anti-female bias is still present in church today, and he places links in his sentence to prove it. Although, I would say these links were presented with the hope you wouldn’t actually go check them out. He picks on a particular ‘Southern Baptist leader in Nashville,’ whose only actual ‘crime’ was saying that women have different roles in church. The minister did not say that women were subservient or a second tier gender. (See 1 Tim.)

He wraps up his discussion talking about churches who welcome would-be congregants conditionally, based upon wealth, donations, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. Let’s combine this observation with those he presented above in Christianity is Alive and Well.

All churches will have ‘bad apples’ – those who have not shed some of their beliefs from the past, that have not put on the full cloak of Christ’s love. All followers of Jesus must strive to love everyone:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. But this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jn. 13:34, 35. NKJV

There is no one on this earth that a Christian shouldn’t love. There should be no church that would exclude anyone from the possibility for hearing the word of God and having the opportunity for worshiping Him. And for those out there who may have received rejection for who they are as a human being, I pray for your forgiveness on behalf of Christianity.

Having said that, a follower of Christ is bound by the word of God. One such Divine dictate says that we must strive to make peace at all times:

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Rm. 12:18 ESV

I believe that all religions offer meaningful and beneficial wisdom. Yet, as a Christian, I am bound by the biblical dictates for my salvation. According to the word of God (by my faith), Christ is the only way:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jn. 14:6 ESV

It is never my intent to make another belief system wrong. They have their belief system and I have mine. I’m open to share if they want to hear my views. If not, we should all agree to respect each other’s beliefs.

We should love everyone; but we don’t have to love everything they do – especially if it runs in opposition to the Bible. Yet all over the world, Christians suffer just for the beliefs they hold. Jesus warned us that we would:

“…they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.” Mt. 24:9 NASB

This rings glaringly true for the hyper-vociferous 2% of the world’s population that shows their true intolerance, as they ironically hurl hateful epithets at Christians for daring to believe differently than they do.

Christ came to deliver all people from sins. Our part is to do our best to keep from committing them and to refrain from the company of those who willingly engage in them:

“Depart, please from the tent of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, let you be swept away with all their sins.” Num. 16:26 ESV

So you see, as followers of Christ, we cannot engage in, or facilitate any actions, that we feel are contrary to His word. It has nothing to do with being racist, bigoted, homophobic or whatever lying, hurtful label you want to try to stick on us. Our objection is not against the individuals. It’s against the actions we are warned not to associate with.

Yet activists will sue Christians or bring governmental action against them. It’d be the same if we sued them for their lifestyles; but we don’t. We just don’t want other beliefs forced upon us. Last I checked, the Constitution granted freedom of religion.

Please, let’s just respect one another’s beliefs and each take our marbles and go home without having to suffer retribution for our faith. Let’s keep the peace and live to love another day…

God bless Dr. McSwain for inspiring me to have a dialogue with you. Hopefully, he’ll get a chance to read it.

Goodnight and God bless.