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Blog Archive: June - August 2006

 August 20, 2006

The Cooperative Rebel

Jim Berg’s book “Changed into His Image”,( the title of which is taken from Romans 8:29)  talks in chapter 3 about rebellion that is at its root is caused from our sin nature we were born with.  He mentions several kinds.  We all think of what he terms the “Assertive Rebel” who is openly defiant, and has tended to become embraced by our culture as the independent spirit.   But the same underlying sin nature causes another type of Rebel he calls the “Cooperative Rebel”.  Jim writes:

Another type of cooperative rebel appears to be driven by a sense of duty: as a child he is often called a “really good kid,” seems to go out of his way to be helpful, never seems to be a problem, is sometimes perfectionistic and legalistic, and thinks, “I’;; do my best because I have learned that life works best this way” or “I’ll do my best because I like the image of being a great kid.”  Perhaps he has often seen a brother or sister who is an assertive rebel resisted by authority and doesn’t want the hassle.  He may even enjoy the limelight he gets when other compare him to his rebellious brother or sister.

Surprising as it may seem, there are many of us who really try to be good, not because we are allowing God to work in our lives to produce His fruit, but because it seems that life has fewer snags when we stay out of trouble.  We often achieve the accolades and image we want.  We can become smug around others who aren’t doing right and can become easily embittered during the times when we are being good and don’t get what we want.1

Jim goes on to quote C.S. Lewis

            If you are a nice person-if virtue comes easily to you—beware!  Much is expected from those to whom much is given.  If you mistake for your own merits what are really God’s gifts to you though nature, and if you are contented with simply being nice, you are still a rebel:  and all those gifts will only make your fall more terrible, your corruption more complicated, you bad example more disastrous.  The Devil was an archangel once: his natural gifts were as far above yours as yours are above those of a chimpanzee. 2

These words pierced me and described the heart of much of my motivation, to be nice because it works and “life has fewer snags”.  This leads to pride and as Lewis put it “your fall more terrible”. 

What is the answer to this? In Luke 18:9-14.  Jesus tells a parable of two men, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector (really bad sinner in those days).  The Pharisee rejoiced in his ability to keep the law in his prayer to God, the other realized his sinfulness and pleaded for mercy for the only one who could help him.   For the one to whom living virtuously comes easy, we much remember the words of John Bradford: "But for the Grace of God, there go I."  We must recognize the rebel within us, the pride that thinks we can live up to God’s standard by our own natural strength and will. Throw yourself on the mercy of God.  Let him examine you (Psalm 139:23,24) and let His righteousness live through you.  Let him break your heart to see things as He does.  How can we do that?  Get in God’s Word everyday, pray earnestly that the Holy Spirit would make it clear to you, and then obey what God tells you through His Word.  Do not sit and judge God’s Word, let it be your judge.

 1 “Changed into His Image”  Jim Berg,  Page 52, 53
2 C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity 180-181


From my Quiet time today:

 Isa 45:18-22  For so says Jehovah the Creator of the heavens, He is God, forming the earth and making it; He makes it stand, not creating it empty, but forming it to be inhabited. I am Jehovah, and there is no other.  19  I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth. I did not say to the seed of Jacob, Seek me in vain. I Jehovah speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.  20  Gather yourselves and come; draw near together, escaped ones of the nations; those who set up the wood of their graven image, and those that pray to a god that cannot save. They know nothing.

 21  Declare and bring near; yea, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this of old? Who has told it from then? Is it not I, Jehovah? And there is no other God besides Me; a just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me.   22  Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.

 The appeal in this chapter is to all nations to see the folly in what they worship and trust in.  Jehovah is God and there is NO ONE else.  He declares the end from the beginning and even uses the heathen Kings (Cyrus, King of Persia) for His purposes.   Salvation is found in no other.  When Isaiah wrote this the Nation of Israel had not yet been hauled away into captivity in Babylon yet were they were to remain for 70 years before Cyrus would defeat them and return Israel to it land. 

 All other religions, believes, philosophies only deceive people from believing in the True God so as to be saved.  This is Satan's plan, let them believe in ANYTHING but the real deal and he will steal their soul.

 The gospel is exclusive.  In a day of tolerance reigning supreme, all beliefs are accepted with the exception of Biblical Christianity which is does not tolerate the "all paths lead to God" mentality.  For that true believers who speak the truth will be persecuted more and more.  But those who know this truth must have "your loins girded about with truth" Eph_6:14 and make up you mind resolutely who you will serve as Joshua did .

 And if it seems evil to you to serve Jehovah, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served Beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But as for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah. Jos_24:15. 

 While it would be wonderful to think that all people who are reasonably nice, who follow their heart and "do what is right in there own eyes" will eventually lead them to God and heaven, the Bible does not allow us the luxury to say such things.  To not warn such people is "love" them away from God.

  "there is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their own filth" Pro_30:12.

May we wake up and come to God on His terms rather than acting as gods ourselves and allowing Him in to our lives if it suits our needs. 

August 9, 2006
I knew my birthday was this week, but I didn’t think it was today until I got an e-card from an old friend.  Although age 47 is not regarded as a significant milestone, each one reminds me that my life is finite and there is more to look back on then forward too (unless I live to be as old as my Grandma Colle who died at 103!) and I already have some regrets.  I am learning from these and want to make the corrections now before I waste anymore years.

I just read a brief philosophy of the man who wrote “Rich Dad, poor Dad” and how the honest hard working but financially ignorant Christian man died leaving debts to his family while the rich worldly self-made man became the riches man in Hawaii. This guy writes for Yahoo finance and decided to follow his rich dad’s advice and he in turn became rich.  I disturb me how he downplayed the values of his poor dad and the only “Christian” advice he remembered is “God helps those who help themselves” (not a Bible quote). He said the only difference between God and Gold is the “l” and the “l” stands for lazy.  While I do feel hard work and investing wisely is Biblical, I couldn’t help but think of the verse “For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Mat 16:26  This man has found what he sought but what good will it do him in 50 years? 

There is nothing sacred in being poor but there is great value in being “poor in spirit”.  In having a humble and dependant spirit who knows each breath is in the hand of his maker “…but all things are naked and opened to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” Heb 4:13.
My Dad (earthly) taught me about money too.  He prayed to God as a young man, not to be rich but to be able to pay his bills.  He knew riches can steal the soul if you let your guard down.  God honored that prayer. He is not rich but he has always paid the bills.  My other Dad (heavenly) taught me “Mat 6:19  Do not lay up treasures on earth for yourselves, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.”  I have a lot to learn yet from my Heavenly Dad about this, but I feel more a sense of urgency about it as I get older. As for this world, David (the King not my Dad) said “I have been young, and am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, or his seed begging bread” Psa 37:25 

August 6, 2006

Today's sermon by Pastor Sam Horn was on Eph 3:10  " so that now to the rulers and powers in the heavenlies might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God"

Paul packs a lot in some of his sentences and this is no exception.  Pastor Horn did a great job of unpacking it.  Basically this verse is saying that God wanted to reveal His manifold wisdom to the rulers and powers in the heavenlies, all the angles of every ranks good and bad and he choose of all things the church in which to do it.  How else could God demonstrate His goodness, His holiness and also his mercy grace, justice and love.  Only by taking sinful man and redeeming them and giving them a new nature, that of Christ's could He do this!  That is the wisdom which seems so counterintuitive.
Below is a quote from the JFB commentary that explains that the church is like the actors in the theater and the angels are the audience, watching carefully the unfolding of the drama.
 Yet when we see the church not in its shining glory, but like the church of Corinth that Paul wrote to, we wonder how is God to be revealing His wisdom.  Pastor admonished us that as a church we get worship, we understand the need to reach the lost, we get the importance of doctrine, but we don't get is our relating to each other.  Where there is gossip, complaining, backbiting, unforgiveness, nit-picking, how do we make know the manifold (multi-faceted) wisdom of God.  
Pastor mentioned the story of the postal carrier James Todd who carried the Hope diamond mailed, yes mailed to the Smithsonian in a plain box wrapped in brown paper.   God's manifold wisdom shines like that diamond and he entrusted it to us to contain it.  Are w going to let it shine or left stuck in the dark of pettiness of our lives.   
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us; 2Co_4:7"
We are commanded by God to live Holy as He is Holy to demonstrate His manifold wisdom!  This means living a holy life on the horizontal plain of our relationships with each other and in the world.  Not only are Angels looking on with fascination, but so is a skeptical world.  They are looking for excuses not to believe.  When we live ungodly live before them we provide them with every excuse.  We love as Jesus did, the will see our lights shine and give glory to God.

July 22, 2006
I commend a former Elder of mine for reviewing the material on my website.  He did challenge a paragraph on the website that he was directly involved in regarding Jr. High.  After reviewing the material I wrote, based mostly on input from my daughter, I realized that I had my title wrong and was misleading.  I also pressed my daughter a bit on some of the issues and realized that though she had some real issues, I did not do due diligence to follow up on these things with the parties involved and so I have removed them from my website under the advice of my former Elder.  I do want to keep things correct and accurate to the best of my knowledge.  I thank this dear friend for his comments and advice.  We are still brothers and working to build the kingdom.

On a different subject, I have continued my re-reading of "The Seduction of Christianity" by Dave Hunt after a few weeks break.  I had loaned it out.  I first read this back in the late 1980's and wondered how any of this could affect the evangelical churches I have attended.  It is interesting now to see how a lot of it has happened.  Our culture has changed as we have entered  Post-Modernism.  Out has gone absolute truth and the spirit of "your truth works for you, my truth works for me" is a logical absurdity that is wholeheartedly embraced.  It is infiltrating the church.  Churches that resign themselves that this is the state of our culture, try to work within that framework, rather than confronting the lie head on.  This changes the meaning of the word "truth"  Logic dictates that if one thing is true and another thing is different, it cannot also be true.  Either one is true or the other.  This is the law of non-contradiction.  While post-modernist reject that law it is still fundamentally true and we are forced to live in a world that is under that law.  You cannot both have your cake and eat it too.  Jesus says "I am the way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father accept by me" John 14:6.   We must heed the words of Jesus, the Truth.  People want to call him a prophet, a good man, a teacher even a guru, but He is not a just a man, He is God the Son.  He speaks the Truth as He heard it from His Father.  John 14:21.  He didn't allow us the luxury of coming up with our own truth.  After challenging his disciples that they were to beware of false prophets that would come in sheep's clothing and that not everyone who says to Him "Lord, Lord" will enter the kingdom of Heaven, he challenges them that they are to hear His words and DO them. Mark 7:26.

When we reach out to people with the message of the Gospel, we need to remember to speak the Truth in love.  Sometimes that truth will hurt and offend, but so does the surgeons knife that cuts out the infection that would kill.  Better to tell them up front and have them wrestle with it than to let them remain diluted into thinking they are following God when they want to follow a god of their own making. 

Another aspect is the redefining the words of scripture to mean something completely different than what they ever meant before.  While this used to be confined to the cults, it is pervasive in the writings of many in the church today.  I have too often supplied the correct definitions to things I have heard when the author meant something different.  This happened with some Mormon missionaries once.  They use Christian terms but have different meanings for them.  So it alls sounds good until you pry under the surface and ask what they mean by Jesus, atonement, sin, created etc.  We need to be diligent to find out what people mean by the Christian terms they use.  Another aspect of this is to use "new words" that are not so biblical because they might offend.  So substitute words are used.  I try to figure out what the real biblical word that it is being substituted for and can follow along, but how does the biblically illiterate know what it really means?  If biblical terms sound strange to modern ears then they need to be re-introduced with complete biblical explanations, otherwise we can be causing confusion and keep people in the dark.

Well I am rambling now so I will stop for now.  The best thing I can encourage the few that will read this is to dig deep into scripture and wrestle before God with it.  Let the Holy Spirit convict you of its meaning and truth.  If you don't know how to study the bible there are many good resources for doing this.  But above all, read the word in the context of sentences that surround them.  Remember that "text without context is pre-text".



July 12, 2006
Today's entry in Oswald Chamber's "My Utmost for His Highest included a comment in the second sentence that speaks to today's church.  It was written about a hundred years ago now but is up to date.  "The church ceases to be a spiritual society when it is on the look-out for the development of its own organization".  This devotion closes with a quote from an unknown source (at least to me) that is a challenge for us all.  Enjoy!





THE SPIRITUAL SOCIETY


"Till we all come . . unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." Ephesians 4:13

Rehabilitation means the putting back of the whole human race into the relationship God designed it to be in, and this is what Jesus Christ did in Redemption. The Church ceases to be a spiritual society when it is on the look-out for the development of its own organization. The rehabilitation of the human race on Jesus Christ's plan means the realization of Jesus Christ in corporate life as well as in individual life. Jesus Christ sent apostles and teachers for this purpose - that the corporate Personality might be realized. We are not here to develop a spiritual life of our own, or to enjoy spiritual retirement; we are here so to realize Jesus Christ that the Body of Christ may be built up.

Am I building up the Body of Christ, or am I looking for my own personal development only? The essential thing is my personal relationship to Jesus Christ - "That I may know Him." To fulfill God's design means entire abandonment to Him. Whenever I want things for myself, the relationship is distorted. It will be a big humiliation to realize that I have not been concerned about realizing Jesus Christ, but only about realizing what He has done for me.

"My goal is God Himself, not joy nor peace,
Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God."

Am I measuring my life by this standard or by anything less?

July 4, 2006

From my quiet time:
Isa 43:25

I am He who blots out your sins for My own sake...
July 4, 2006 (USA independence day)

The Lord has freed us from our sin that we may no longer be slaves to it (Rom_6:18).  That is we have gained independence from sin but we are now DEPENDANT upon righteousness (i.e. slaves of righteousness).   We are dependent upon the righteousness of Christ and his work on the cross.
Notice for whose sake He does this; "for My own sake".  God keeps His promises.  Despite Israel’s waywardness, He chose them to be the nation to bear witness of Him (vs 12).  He does it to show the His character of mercy.  He is showing that although they do not deserve forgiveness, yet He still forgives.  None of us deserve His forgiveness (vss 24, 26 &  27), that is why it is mercy, that it why it is grace (undeserved merit).

As a nation we are like Israel who "wearied Me with your iniquities" (vs 24).  Should God bless America this independence day?

God is a Holy God (vs 15)  He is our creator and King. Oh that we would acknowledge our sin as individuals and corporately as a nation.  Oh that we would humble ourselves before God and put away our idols and call upon the name of the Lord, for He is a merciful God as well.

July 3, 2006
I just listened to a shocking sermon preached to 5000 youth by missionary Mark Washer from a link on SliceOfLaodicia.com.  It was hard hitting to people who may be deluded by today's watered down gospel into complacency that they are saved when in all probability they never heard the true gospel that includes repentance nor saw evidence of conversion in a changed life.  It is worth every minute of the 58 minute length.  Is there someone you need to share this with?

June 28, 2006
On the plane ride home from a business trip I had the privilege to actually have someone ask me about my faith.  I was re-reading Dave Hunt's 1985 book "The Seduction of Christianity" (which he revised recently) and a lady sat down next to me and asked me about it.  I have heard that having some book with a catchy title is a great ice breaker.  I am not one to initiate conversation but ususally respond to someone who does.  I would like to change that but it something I need God to help me overcome the introverted tendency I have.  This lady was probably in her 60's, a Grandma and a scientist/world philosopher.  I think she understood the methods of the Spanish Inquisition as well.  As fast as she could she rapidly fired questions at me of such a wide range on every problem she had with Christianity from the "apparently" different God of the old and new testaments, creation/evolution, the failings of televangelists (Jimmy Swagert/Jim Baker), ecology, morality, death penalty etc. 
I knew within 30seeconds that my faith was on trial and prayed a quick prayer to God for wisdom, to not shrink back and to lovingly address her concerns.  It was a 45 min trip from Minneapolis to Milwaukee, but we packed 3 hours of conversation into. 
I don't know that anything I said persuaded her, indeed that is not my job, but I defended the faith and used scripture as much as possible to explain my believes.  I believe we have to use God's word when approaching people, even those who do not believe.  God said in Isa 55:11  "so shall My Word be, which goes out of My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall certainly do what I sent it to do. "
I will let God's word do its convicting power to change a life. Either they will be hardened or they will be softened, but they will not remain the same.
We are to be prepared in mind and heart for any occasion to bear witness to God.
Col 4:6  "Let your speech be always with grace, having been seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. "