More Powerful Than The Bible

open-bible2There is something more powerful than answering people’s questions than with the phrase, “Because the Bible says so.”  Or, it’s first cousin… quoting scripture verses.

Before you cast me off as a heretic…before you think I’m minimizing the authority of Scripture, please read further…

I Believe In The Bible As Authority In Our Lives!!

Make no mistake about it.  I believe in the reality, power, and authority of the Scriptures.  I believe that Paul told Timothy the truth when he said…

“All Scripture is inspired of God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and for instruction in righteousness.”  2 Timothy 3:16

[Side note:  I also believe that it doesn't say ONLY Scripture, but instead ALL Scripture is profitable..."]

What Is More Powerful Than The Bible?

The Scriptures are a “must foundation” for our lives.  However, when we are talking to others in our daily lives there is something more powerful than saying, “Because the Bible says so.”  There’s also a more powerful way of giving hope and encouragement to someone who needs it than simply quoting scriptures at them.

Your Personal Testimony

Your personal testimony will always have the most powerful impact on someone.  Listen carefully please.  I am not saying that you shouldn’t speak the words of Scripture.  I am saying, that the principles and promises found in The Book should be able to be confirmed by your tell-able story of God’s fresh love.

Encourage and answer people with your stories with God.  Then point to what the Bible says.  Or the other way round.  But please…

“Have your own fresh testimony of God’s grace that you can relate.  If you don’t have one….get one!  In fact get a lot of them.  Make it a point to have an actual “personal” relationship with Him.”

Sometimes People Sincerely Say…

“I’m just responsible to share the Word.  The Holy Spirit will take it from there.”  I understand that seems like a truthful, God honoring thing to say, but…

If you don’t mind me saying so (although you may)…that’s just plain lazy.

It’s too often thought that the Holy Spirit will “put a buzz on quoted scripture verses like a “magic act.”  I’m sorry if that sounds cynical.  And, I do know that He empowers Scripture.  He illuminates it to people’s understanding.  But, I deeply feel that we’ve leaned on that far too often.

Authentic Christianity (as apposed to the “religious variety”) is about a personal relationship.  To experience that…it needs to be experienced…on a personal daily level.  I don’t mean all hearts and flowers.  A personal relationship lived out in the real world can be both bliss and blisters.  But personalized, it must be.

What Is Sharing The Word With People?

It can refer to quoting and sharing verses and passages from the Bible.  Quoting Scriptures is a form of sharing the Word.

However, let me suggest that “sharing the Word” is at lease equally…putting a personal face on it.  Sharing your stories of how the Word has been working in your life.  That is sharing the Word.  The Living Word expressed in, through, and as you!

May we all increase in Authentic Christianity.  And may we have plenty of our own stories, based on the Scriptures.  May we not fall into the lazy trap of only responding with quoted Bible verses.

How do you respond to that?  I’d love to hear from you!

Gary

 

 

GMO and How to Respond

gmo-tomatoUntil a year ago, I was not aware of what GMO even stood for.

Now I know it means Genetically Modified Organism.  It also means a great deal of the food the average person consumes daily is no longer of God’s design.  It is actually very destructive to good health.

Through her FB posting, my youngest daughter has opened my eyes.

I’m very impressed by her intelligence, as well has heart for justice and dedication to it.

The thing is, what do we….what does the average person do with the knowledge except have the “crap” scared out of them.  Actually, after each meal, I wish that a good scare would be an effective tool to eliminate the GMO crap that I’ve possibly…(probably) consumed. :)

All kidding aside, the GMO in our “food like products” is far more pervasive through far more sources that had ever imagined.  I knew a couple of years ago, from a farmer friend, that purchasing seed corn for planting required a chemical license because corn is no longer classified as a vegetable. It’s considered a chemical.  As I said, I knew there was limited changes, so I stopped eating corn.  But the reality of it is….unless you want to stop eating….just about everything you can buy at the store now days contains GMO which is a determent to sound health.

The average person can’t easily find, nor afford safe food sources.  Nor, are they in the situation to grow their own.

My wife and I were discussing this today.  You can educate yourself, but what do you do, practically speaking (because we eat every day) with that education?

You can somehow get involved involved in educating others and protesting.  I would do that if you can.  Petitions can be very practical and influential.  We certainly shouldn’t hide our heads in the sand.  We can and should take action where ever we can.

But that doesn’t alleviate the practical need of the moment.  As my wife and I were saying, one thing we are also going to be doing is changing the “rote nature” of our prayers at meal time.  Instead of letting a cursory prayer of thanksgiving flip, nearly unconsciously but more as religious activity, off our lips, we are going to be more intentional.

Since we do believe that prayer has an affect, sometimes supernatural, we are going to be thanking God for His provision, but also making requests for effective change agents, wisdom, and blessing on the food, itself.

We will also watch labels (which lately is getting pretty discouraging) and be open to ways we can be an encouragement with practical, usable solutions…for our selves and those with whom we have influence.

I will also keep watching my daughters posts for information and practical advise.  Besides the fact that I also opening up this article and asking for helpful comments on the issue that all of my readers can benefit from.

Gary

 

 

 

What Does God Control?

God-is-in-Control-cover-photoI spoke on something yesterday that can be quite controversial among Christians.  In fact, to put forward what I suggested is similar to walking into a mine-field.  So, why did I venture into dangerous territory?

Taking Personal Responsibility

Let me say quite clearly and definitely that I am more than sure that I don’t understand or comprehend God’s Sovereignty (Theo speak for Control of Affairs of Men).

However, I am coming to an increasingly firm belief that many Christians (maybe you) have a different definition of the word “Sovereignty” as it relates to God’s relationship with His spiritual family that’s flawed.

Here’s How I Define God’s Sovereignty

I believe God has sovereignly chosen to give mankind free-will and to submit Himself to man’s choices….

Unless we invite Him into the events of our lives to exercise His wisdom and power to redeem and restore.  I know this raises some questions that rise beyond “my pay grade” but it has answered more questions for me than cause unanswerable questions.

God Does Not Violate His Gift and Privilege of Free Will

Here’s a common “spiritual” statement that sounds God honoring.  It sounds like “faith in God.”  In sounds so sincere and I’m sure it is.

“God has here who He wants to be here.”

The quizzical thing to me is that I never hear it said (or have never said it, previously myself) when the church, or the special meeting, conference, or concert is packed out.  It’s only said, when the numbers of people in attendance is low.

To say that means that you believe that God somehow manipulated circumstances in the lives of some people to be there and didn’t want anyone else to attend or else they would be there.

(Before you want to burn me at the stake because you think I’m making God less God-like….think about for a minute.  Honestly think about what your words are logically reflecting.)

So, why did I make it a topic of my last sermon, and why would I follow up by devoting a blog post to it?

Because, we need to learn to take more serious responsibility in our lives.  And we need to stop attributing the lacks in life to the work of God and His Sovereignty.  It’s giving God a bad rap, and it’s allowing us to not mature.

You Must Have Needed It

This statement is part of another common statement that I believe is deeply flawed.  More completely it is, “Don’t worry.  God is in control.  You must have needed for this to happen.”

Again, I don’t believe that actually nurtures trust.  It’s also interesting that that is a statement that is connected to a negative circumstance in life.   I know we are trying to be encouraging to someone else…or ourselves.  But we too often lay things at God’s doorstep that He did not have anything to do with.

Why do we say these things?  Because we think they sound God honoring.  Because we feel like we need to try to make sense of everything that goes on in our lives.  We need, instead, to invite God to walk with us through and out of the mess.  A negative result that, more than likely is the fruit of the flesh, a poor decision,  or the devil.

The sad thing is…a whole lot of weird, unscriptural teachings have resulted from man trying to explain the unexplainable.

I’d like to conclude this “hairy topic” by saying that God is not responsible for a positive outcome to your circumstances.  You are.  I am….by how we respond to the circumstance. 

Let me ask you a question to ponder for yourself:

What if you believed that you already have God-given control in your life.  How would it affect your life each day, week, or year?

Gary

 

 

 

When There’s Not Enough Money

one-dollar-bills-8875868Especially in the current world economy, for a high percentage of people, there doesn’t seem to be enough to go around.  Sometimes it’s the result of bad financial decisions.  Other times it’s a result of issues totally out of one’s control.

I don’t know about you, personally, but I deal with a short supply more often than I like.  The reasons are all of the above.  Previously poor credit decisions as well as things totally out of my control.

I’ve made an important discovery that is supporting my emotional welfare a great deal on the issues of “shortage.”

I Am Fully Convinced

The thing is…I am fully convinced that God’s word, character, and reputation are absolutely true.  Philippians 4:19 says, “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

I don’t need to beg Him to do what He’s already promised is “in the bank.”  In fact, my custom is not to ask Him to supply my needs.  I make a habit, instead, of thanking Him for what is already a done deal.

Why, then, do so many people that believe the same thing struggle with their emotions on this?

A Solution For The Emotional Struggle

In my case, I changed my prayer.  I’m suggesting that the same thing will work for you.  Instead of putting all my “faith eggs” in one basket (“He’ll supply all my needs, He’ll supply all my needs, He’ll supply all my needs…”) my prayer is a Daily Bread Wisdom request.  It goes something like this…

“Heavenly Father, it is my foregone conclusion that all my needs are being supplied by You.  For that I am deeply and faithfully grateful.  My request now, Lord, is that you give me today’s grace of wisdom to wisely manage what I have at the moment.”

What I Discovered

My emotional struggle wasn’t with trust in His “end game” for me.  The stress was struggling with daily wisdom. 

As I’ve made daily wisdom my focus, the emotional stress is greatly reduced.  With the daily wisdom I have a more peaceful appreciation of, “this is what I can do…this is what takes care of today.”

Frankly…especially in Prosperity Oriented Western Society…we have the added internal pressure that “things are not supposed to be like this.”  We feel like the goal is the good life that doesn’t have to be concerned with where money will come from.  After all…isn’t that the sign of God’s greatest blessing and pleasure on your life??   -  Wrong-o…Buck-o.

Any time our lives are resting on God Sufficiency rather than Self Sufficiency, we are ahead of the game in being what God has called us to be as His ambassadors.   That doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to have “boooko bucks” in our earthly bank account.  But, it does mean that God can call on a withdrawl on that fullness at any time. 

In the end, we have what we have.  We don’t own what we have.  Relatively speaking, we should all be God’s paymasters.  With deep reserves comes deep responsibility (or ability to respond).

Believe God for the long haul.  Ask for wisdom for the daily bread that you have.

Gary

 

There’s Not An App For That

TheresNOTAnAppForThatHeaderFirst, let me start by stating that I have many useful apps and they’ve been a big help.  But, “help” is the key word.  There are apps that have pointed me in a good direction to connect with God. 

But, I have to do the rest!

There’s Not An App For That

I might benefit from an app that keeps tract of the number of steps I take on my “power walk,” but I have to get off the couch, go somewhere, and put one foot in front of the other.  The app won’t do that for me.

I might have an app that would help me keep track of how many calories I’m consuming each day, but I have to be the one who has to stop with one reasonable portion and then push myself away from the table.  The app won’t do that for me.

I do have an app that enables me to have several translations of the bible on my smartphone, but….(you know the rest of the statement)

The Bible app YouVersion has given me the ability to have a whole host of Bibles in my pocket and that’s often been a blessing to me.  But…it won’t meditate those scriptures for me.  I have to take the time to do that.

New School Technology

New school technology potentially puts tools in our hands that can enhance our relationship with the Eternal One, but “old school” one-on-one with Him is the key to growth.  There isn’t an app that will “lean your heart into God.”

There isn’t an app that will stir your heart for the soul in front of you.

There isn’t an app that will heal oppressed minds and bodies for you.

There isn’t an app that magically causes you to re-present the attitudes and actions of Jesus in your community.

There Are Lots Of Helpful Apps

Technology has its place.  Apps have their place.  But they don’t replace human and divine interaction.  (Neither does Facebook, btw)

Use the apps that help you, but remember they aren’t made of flesh and blood, and they don’t connect you to the Living Eternal God.  Jesus does.

Btw…P.S.

I’ve discovered a translation of the Bible that I’m over the moon thrilled with it.  Check it out here: The Voice Bible Online 

Gary

 

 

Words That Actually Make A Difference

praying-child1If you’re looking for positive change, you first have to decide what you ACTUALLY believe.  I saw this quote recently by Jim Palmer, “Sometimes when I come across people who are blurting out some Scripture verse, or some other external reference to support their stance, I want to say, “Hey! What do YOU truly feel? YOU tell me the truth!”

Don’t blame your fearful “feelings” on an attack of the devil. 

It may be (in fact it’s likely) that feelings of fear are “devil darts.”  But the more you know what YOU believe, in your own daily “non-spiritual sounding” words, the less effective those darts will become.

Fears unveil that a person has greater inner confidence in the circumstances and voices that surround them than in the Eternal One who gave them life and deeply cares for them. 

It’s really important to note that most imagined fears never materialize…except in one’s imagination. 

Often time, fears make the “fear-er” miserable and neutralize their actions to do what wisdom is telling them to do.  So, the negative (whatever) keeps getting the upper hand because the person has not taken the action that will solve the issue.

Take The Time…

Take the time to re-word the truth of God’s counsel into your own life story.  It doesn’t have to be profound sounding.  It certainly doesn’t have to sound “spiritual.”  And it definitely can’t simply be a repeating of someone else’s words.  It has to be your own “deep inside” words.

Then Along With That…

Take the time to let your imagination paint an inner picture of what it would look like if God got involved with you and gave you the wisdom to respond to your negative circumstances.

What would it look like, eh?  Then…let your imagination look at that.

This Isn’t Magic…

Some folks will say, I’m not going to imagine something that hasn’t actually happened!

Spoiler Alert:

You do it all the time with your fears!  All I’m saying is to let the imagination God gave you to work for you instead of against you. 

The only counsel I would add to that, is imagine the potentials of God’s Words;  Not just any old thing that pops to your mind.

In Conclusion:

Partner with God.  Cooperate with Him in making His Words very practical in your own life.  You will begin seeing the positive change you desire!

Does this help?  Or do you disagree?  Just respond with your own comments.  Thanks!

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

The Encouragement Of The Double Rainbow Over Washington D.C.

double-rainbow-over-dc-pano-july8_livingstonOn July 8, 2015 a serious natural storm was bearing down on Washington D.C.  As the weather folks stated, “Nothing much came of the storm, but the double rainbow that immediately replaced it became the star of the show.

Here’s what I believe.  The 777 Urgent Call to Prayer Initiative spearheaded by Ruth Graham Lots a week earlier was heard.

Multiplied Thousands Nationwide Responded

You may feel like this is just a coincidence, but as a Jesus Follower, I don’t worship a god named, Coincidence.  Multiplied thousands nationwide responded to the 7 day prayer and fasting initiative.  In concert with that call came the beginning of the “If 7:14″ tour with the books author, Bob Vanderpladt and the musicians, The Newsboys. (Learn more here)

A Storm Was Moving In

A literal severe natural storm was moving in on the nations capitol.  I believe, in context, that was a natural metaphor for what has been happening in the invisible world of spirit.

The Storm Was Replaced

rainbow-washington-dc

For some time, calls have been going out about the dangers facing our nation spiritually and for the need for serious prayer.  I do not believe previous initiatives have been for naught.  I believe everything works together for good.  I believe that the first serious prayer for a reviving of God’s people began it’s work of being heard in Heaven.

Apparently, at least in my opinion, the most recent intercessions reached a tipping point.  And, God responded with a promise much like that to Noah.  The covenant rainbow.

The Lessons To Be Realized

There are probably several.  I would just like to point out a few that are the most obvious to me:

  1. God does respond to prayer.  Even when it seems He may not be responding, know that He is working in the invisible places and we need to keep persisting in our response to what He calls for.  Don’t give up on the brink of a miracle.
  2. The “prayer connection” is vital to the promises of God’s words being fulfilled.
  3. National governmental crisis has been averted.  I do not believe this necessarily means that everything is smooth sailing ahead.  But, I do believe that the main thing is the main thing and prayer is vital on a personal level and a national level.  I heard an Evangelist say one time that he was questioned about why a wonderful revival that had started had dissipated.  His response was gold.  He asked, “What were you doing when it began?”  The church responded, we were on our knees in fervent prayer.”  He added, “Then I would say you should have stayed there.”   It is classic in contemporary life and biblical times that once circumstances take a turn for the good and the pressure is off, that seeking God becomes more lax.  We must continue focusing on with a daily prayer initiative for our own lives and for government issues – both local and national.

What It Doesn’t Mean (IMHO)

I did a teaching on Sunday morning, July 7, that 2 Chronicles 7:14 is not a promise to America of governmental revival and healing.  But, instead, the only authentic way to apply this Hebrew land promise to us today is on a “personal land level.”  We must individually humble ourselves before God on a personal level, for ourselves first.

However, having said that, I do believe that the Lord loves the natural land of His people that live there (including any country you might name).  I do believe that His people on the most basic levels of leadership (or none officially) are potentially a wall of protection when they are submitted to God first.  Submitted (not in words only) but in observable action.  As someone said, “The man runs fastest who runs on his knees.”

I know really good, sincere people who believe the answer is getting the right people in political power.  Bob Vanderpladt said at the “If 7:14″ gathering in Davenport, IA, “I do not believe the the person on Air Force One is what will bring revival.  I hope Air Force One is a part of it, but the right person on the plane is not what the promise is about.”

Righteousness exalts a nation.  I believe that.  Righteous men and women in office have the potential to do great things for their country.  I also don’t doubt that involvement in the political scene is what many men and women are called to.  But, I also believe the power source in getting them there and keeping them there (unscathed and pure) is much more of a spiritual initiative than a natural “best guy for the job in my opinion” natural political initiative.

We need to have righteous people in office to be a Godly influence and bring Godly wisdom.  However, the Washington Power Beast” has proven to corrupt many good men and women.  It’s not their “right politics” that keeps them there.  [Right politics in your opinion].

Regardless of what you, my reader, may think of Pat Robertson, (and I am not an advocate of everything he believes), he was quoted as saying something at the time he was running for office.  He said that he was actually glad that he didn’t make it through the primaries.  He said the forces in the political arena were far more powerful and destructive than he had imagined and that it may well have destroyed him.

It’s About The Concerted Personal And Corporate Prayer Initiative

I said it in the above words.  Nothing much to add to that.  So, I’m going to end with a prayer:

Heavenly Father…I believe you have set in the sky an encouragement and I so thank you for it.  Now, may you give us the revelation of heart of where our priorities, regardless of our gifts and callings, lay.  Motivate us by Your Spirit as we see the roots of how we can better respond to you.  In the fame of Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Please respond with your thoughts…

Gary

 

The Delicious Bible – Page 4

Listening-Phone-Systems-SupplierKnowing what the words in the Scriptures meant when they hit the ears of their original listeners will cause you to better understand how the Scriptures are helping you, today.

Often Jesus would finish His teaching of the moment with these words, “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Obviously he wasn’t referring to the appendages on the sides of the listeners heads.

A very important prayer in the Old Testament is “Hear Oh Israel.  The Lord our God is One.” 

We normally think of “hearing” as being able to discern the sounds of words, or music.
But the Hebrew word Shema (shma) translated to English as “hear” means a great deal more than that.

To Understand Or Perceive

Genesis 11:7 says, “Let us go down and confuse their language so that they will not be able to (Shema/hear) each other.”  There are times will the context of the story will dictate that shema means “to understand.”  Actually, many contemporary translations have already translated shema as understand.

To Agree With And Act Upon

When Sarah came to Abraham with a plan to give him a child since it didn’t seem like the promise of God was going to happen for them, it says that “Abraham heard the voice of Sarah. Although this is similar to understanding, it takes on a different shade of meaning.  In this case shema or heard means that Abraham agreed with his wife and decided to go along with it.

To Not Agree Refusing To Act Upon

Similarly to Abraham, Joseph’s story with Potiphar’s wife includes the word shema in how he responded to her.  In this case he heard her, but he did not agree with her words and refused to act upon them.

To Acknowledge With A Positive Response

Many times you’ll see the phrase, “The Lord has heard your prayer.”  That doesn’t mean that He’s heard your words and is considering them.  Instead, He is favorably answering them.

Obedience

Almost always when you read the word obey in the Scriptures, the Hebrew word behind it is shema. To the Hebrew mind, “to hear” included what was going on in the mind as well as the resulting actions.

Having ears to hear is dealing as much with our response to the Word of the Lord as it is to listening and simply agreeing that His words are important.

Our Own Children

Actually, what we’ve explained here is not that foreign to our ears.  When you give direction to your child such as, “Clean your room,” – and they don’t – what is the next thing you say?

“Didn’t you hear me?!”

You’re saying the same thing as the Hebrew meaning.  You are not asking if the sound of your voice registered on their ear drums.  You are expecting Bobby or Sally to do what you just said.

May we respond to the Lord’s words.  They are life and they are health!

(To be continued…)

Gary

Check out the previous pages in this series: (Click) Page 1    (Click) Page 2    (Click) Page 3

 

 

 

 

Penetrating The Peril of Mediocrity (An Abundant Life Lesson)

Job-searchThe abundant life that Jesus promised is free and will be experienced by those who refuse to stop when things are not fast and easy. 

Fast and easy is a deception of our current age of deceptive false advertising.

The barrier to advancing to a better place is described in one word:  Frustration.

Well established statistics prove that the FEELINGS of FRUSTRATION is the major contributor to “stalling out” and returning to “what’s known.”   Unfortunately, “what’s known” doesn’t have the fuel to keep one moving forward in life.  It’s safe, and it’s….known.

Why would you return to the known?  Most would say something like this, “It may not be the best, but I’ve learned to live okay without (this or that). 

Contentment is good, but this is not that.  This is satisfaction with a well worn and wearing out life.

Nothing has ever been gained that had “abundant life worth” that didn’t have the sweat of frustration embedded in it.

The abundant life that Jesus promised is free, but it’s not cheap.  It most often costs the frustration and effort of learning something new…because…learning is not learning if it’s only information in the file drawer of one’s mind. 

Learning becomes actual learning when it is accompanied by the forward movement of attempts to perform the “truths.”  And attempting again…right on through guaranteed levels of frustration.

THE GOOD NEWS:  Frustration won’t live forever.  It will become increasingly weaker as skill begins to increase.

And that will equal a new level of abundant life.  

If you’re in a place where you are attempting to learn a new spiritual life skill (or any skill), and you are frustrated and thinking about quitting….Man up….Woman up.  Frustration is a part of the cost….

But increased abundance in your life is worth the cost!

Gary

The Delicious Bible – Page 3

father-hugging-son-rexThe beginning of the really good stuff in one’s life is the fear of the Lord.  Actually, without it we will continually find ourselves in muddy messes of our own making.  However, the devil – aided by religion – has led us far astray as to what the fear of the Lord actually is.

It can mean “to be afraid.”  However, the Hebrew word for fear has a much broader meaning.

The Boy In The Picture Fears His Father

The boy in the picture is demonstrating the “fear of his father.”  His father is the lord of his life.  He loves, respects, and trusts him.  But, he is not afraid of him.  This kind of fear is building a powerful bond between them.

It’s the same in spiritual terms.  The intent of the instruction of the Scriptures to fear the Lord is not the idea of “be afraid of the Lord” as we typically identify the meaning of fear.

Religiously instructed naysayers will retort, “Sinners need to be afraid of the Lord.  It will help them not sin.”   Temporarily.  Maybe.

Loving Respect Conquers The Desires Of The Flesh

Although fear of consequences might deter someone from sins of the flesh for a time, it doesn’t last.  But loving respect permeates our inner attitudes and is much longer lasting.  Fear, as we normally think of it, is temporary.  Deep respect runs deep and saturates the soul in a way that fear can’t touch in human and spiritual relationship.

Worship And Awe

The attitude of worship and awe also describe the fuller meaning of the fear of the Lord.  In fact one way of expressing the fear of the Lord using a contemporary phrase would be, “I worship the ground you walk on.”

The Source Of All Good Stuff

It is the deep daily nurturing of intimate respect for the Lord that causes us to want to be like “Daddy.”  When we want to be like daddy, we begin to benefit from His wisdom and knowledge.  We find our attitudes and actions rooted in a craving to know Him.

That, my friend, is the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of everything

Before You Leave….Check out Page 1 Here.   Check out Page 2 Here.

Gary