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Monday, September 26, 2011

Let the Spirit flow!

     We were having a night of silent prayer, accompanied with beautiful worship music.  We are usually there for an hour or two, every other Sunday evening at the Church.  It's a time of quiet reflection, and praise to God for all that He is, has done, and will do in the future.  Our purposeful intent in this time in the Spirit, is for our hearts and minds to uplift Him in whatever situation we may currently find ourselves.
     At the close of the evening, we come together from the various areas of the sanctuary.  We take the last remaining moments to share as a group, and voice the feelings, burdens, and thoughts that we might have had on our hearts during this time.  We use it mostly as a time to vocally share our prayer requests with one another.  Doing as the Bible asks us to "bear one anothers' burdens", and "pray one for another".  In these moments, God's presence seems to seal our earlier offerings of deep heartfelt worship.
     Various members of the team spoke, each sharing a concern that they would like us all to agree with them in prayer for for victory.  Then, one woman spoke up in an assured voice.  She directed her statement to a believer, whom I will call Hannah.  She told her that," God was going to fill her with the Holy Spirit to the degree that she had wanted for a long time".
     Hannah was a little shocked, but then was overcome with excitement, sprinkled with a bit of trepidation.  You see, Hannah was a devout believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.  And she wanted the fullness of God more than anything.  She had sought the Baptism in the Holy Spirit for decades.  She had come to similar moments like this many times before in her journey in Christ.  Each time to only come away not obtaining that overflowing presence of the Father's promise that she so earnestly desired.
     At various times in her past, people had prayed for her to receive the promise.  Most having a specific form or model of " how" a person should receive this gift,then pressed her into their mold.  Instead of simply ushering her into His presence to simply receive Him.  Yet, with each "failure" so to speak, there was being built up inside her an invisible wall.  Doubt, the enemy of faith, was being created in her heart.  A feeling/thought pattern that she may never be able to receive what her spirit longed for, for so long.  Yet, through all of the trials, and years, she had never lost the desire of her heart to know God fully.  That someday she would receive the gift that she had so valiantly sought.  So, here she was once again, faced with the hope and the promise, yet still having a spiritual track record of not obtaining the prize.
     The group being led by the lady who spoke, were united in faith for Hannah.  Believing that tonight was her night!  Praises rang out to God.  We asked Him to grant our friend the desire to know Him more.  Hannah was simply asked to receive what the Lord had promised as a gift, by faith, and to speak any words that He might be sharing on her heart, whatever He would put in her mouth to speak.  As you might have guessed, after a few minutes, nothing happened.
     May I share with you some insight at this moment?   There are times when Christians operate not by faith, but rather out of hope.  Which can easily be sidetracked, or even derailed because we base it on our current condition, or our past experiences.  Faith is based on God's Word, and His character alone!  Sadly, for our sister, she had had past experiences that were very similar to this moment in time.  So, in her heart that invisible wall had to be torn down, before she could obtain her victory.  This is in no way an indictment of her condition, but is meant to help others, and shed light on somethings that sometimes hinder all of us in our Christian walk.
     So, back to our story.  As you remember, prayer and praise was going forth for our sister to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and her spiritual language.  Suddenly, I felt a prompting, which I shared aloud.  " Hannah*", I said "  I see that you have already received this gift in your spirit, but there seems to be a blockage in releasing it in you.  I see you like a bottle of champagne, and the cork just needs to Pop! So speak out the joy and words in your mouth!"  Within a moment of those words leaving my mouth, she literally exploded with joy!
     This middle-aged woman seemed to be filled with electricity and emotion that burst forth like light in the darkness.  She laughed, she cried, euphoria seized every ounce of her being.  And then out of her mouth came a language that she did not know, faster than the tongue seems to have the chance to form syllables.  Interspersed with the loudest, "Praise the Lord's" that I have heard in a long time.  She knew that she had received her personal gift from above.  Joy had seized her, and His name is the Holy Spirit.  As we all observed, and would later testify, this was one of the most exuberant cases of someone being filled with the Holy Ghost as we had ever seen in our lives.
     Hannah slowly melted to the floor; shedding tears of happiness, and laughter full of praise.  Her spiritual language melodiously pouring across her tongue.  I can truly say, that the only time that I have seen such a state of euphoria before, is seeing a child on Christmas morn.  I believe that it wasn't just Hannah that received a blessed gift that Sunday evening, but the group as a whole.  Even in a Spirit-filled Church, we can become stale to the things of God.  In pursuit of ever more of the wonders of His grace,and power; we become bored with what is presented so simply before us, this, awesome and treasured gift given for all who believe. 
     There was a great lesson that we learned by observing another of His children receive Him as a little child.  We must always, always, remember to both come to Him in joy of anticipation, and in that a child has for a parent.  No wonder Jesus taught in Matt 19:13, Mark 10:13, and Luke 18:15; that we needed to be like a little child to enter this majestic Kingdom of His, and His everlasting presence.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Signs of Our Times

     We live in uncertian times.  Wait, let me re-phrase that statement.  More accurately, we live in very uncertian times! The stock market gyrates like a top on steriods.  The Middle East is seemingly remaking itself geopolitically before our eyes.  Jobs, Pensions, Home Ownership, cannot be taken for granted anymore.  Peace, stability, and things being
"solid as a rock", seem to have lost their meaning in these times.  It just seems to go on, and on, and on.
     Now, let me throw some gasoline on the fire.  All over the internet we see, hear, and read about how we are now even approaching the end of days.  That the end is maybe coming sooner than we may think!  Actually that sounds like a rephrasing of a statement by St. Paul from the Book of Romans.  He said, " the hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed". (Romans 13:11)  So, whether it be 2012, an asteriod, climate change ( formerly known as Global Warming), WWIII, economic armageddon, any and or all of which, could usher in extremely uncertian times;  we just seem to have an inner sense that mankind is living things out on a cosmic linear scale having a set appointment with destiny.
     Yet, within Paul's statement he paints a curious and reassuring twist on all of our doom and gloom.  Let's read it, again.  " The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation nearer", Stop there!  In the midst of what some may see as global demise, Paul sees hope!  He sees real hope and change, not just some cheap political gimic.  At a time when we least expect it, yet may have a gut level instinct that "something's up!", there it will be.  Our hope, the world's ONLY hope, Jesus.  Now, let's remember the world as it was from which Pauls words eminate.  He lived in the glory, depravity, and brutality of ancient Rome.  Yet, he preached hope and change.
     For the believer, the Second Coming of Jesus is the salvation of which he speaks.  It is salvation for the world and the material universe.  It may not be a bed of roses getting to that point.  But, He is coming back to reclaim all that was stolen from Him, and to seperate good from evil.  That is hope that you can believe in!  And, make no mistake about it, He is coming back.
     Jesus stated, referenced, and inferred; this policy position enough in His Word to call you to either accept it by faith as a future truth, or to make Him out to be a liar.  He leaves you no alternative.  He didn't want to have it any other way.
     Well, my original intent was to simply ask you, as I have recently been asking myself, still being cognizant of our times; Where is your heart at?  I mean your spiritual heart.  If, and I say If, we are "closer to (that day) than when we first believed", do you not think that that is a very valid question for all of us?  Would you be overcome with joyful anticipation if you knew His appearing was in say, 6 hours?  Or, would you be in regret and angst over the parting and loss of the pleasures, riches, and wonders of this earthly world?  Honestly, would you have a hard time seperating yourself from the entanglements of life on earth?  These may be hard questions, but I think that they are ones that we should be periodically be asking ourselves on a regualr basis.  Because He is coming back to reclaim what is rightfully His in the first place.
     I hope that you've been challenged, I have been challenged.  And with each passing day of our current era, my antenna perks up, to see if it could be tommorrow?  How's your antenna?  Is it out of tune and alittle rusty?  Or is it always ringing with joyful anticipation of that Day?

Friday, September 16, 2011

" For He will command His angels concerning You"

Psalm 91
    
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD " He is my refuge and
my fortress,
my God in whom I trust."
Surely he will save you from the fowlers's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you make the Most High your dwelling-
even the LORD, who is my refuge-
then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike you foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

Because he loves me," says the LORD," I will
rescue him;
He will call upon me, and I will answer;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Are Stars for signs and wonders?



                         the heavens declare the glory of God,
                         the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
                         Day after day they pour forth speech;
                         Night after night they display knowledge.
                         There is no speech or language,
                         Where their voice is not heard.
                         Their voice goes out into all the earth,
                         their words to the ends of the earth.
                                                                                     Psalm 19:1,2
     Recently,  in  church we watched an enlightening video called, "The Bethlehem Star".  the movie is a very thorough examination of the detailed account of the Christmas Star.  It is presented through the lens of scientific inquiry.  Though the author is not a scientist, but rather a lawyer; he uses his deliberative abilities to lay out line by line all of the astrological evidence that he's discovered to corroborate the account in the Book of Matthew.
   With the use of modern computer programs, graphics, and ancient texts; he is able to portray to the audience just what was seen by the Magi of the East at the time of Christ's birth.  The video is highly informative and would be well worth the hour of your time that it would take to view it.  It will certainly create for you a picture of a God who is much more involved in the mechanisms of the universe than you may have surmised Him to be in the past based on what you have been taught.
     Now with all of that being said, please indulge me to take you on a tangent of the aforementioned line of thought.  Here you will more than likely fall on either one side or the other of a theological fence.  God will either become very large to you in a way that he has never been before, or you will simply discount the scholarly work that I would encourage you to read as rubbish.  And keep God in a box of a size that you find most comfortable in which to house Him.
     The book that I would suggest that you take the time to read is an old one.  But, with the link that I have posted on the left side of my blog page you can access a PDF file of it for free!  It is located at http://www.levendwater.org/ on the web, look under Bullinger.
     As I said, this book is an old one that was written at the end of the 19th Century.  It was written by a well respected theologian named E.W. Bullinger.  The work is called " The Witness in the Stars".  I was so impressed with his work that I have taught it's precepts to two of my children, who in turned used it's concepts for science projects at their schools.  I find nothing in scripture to deny it.  Yet, the richness of his findings do nothing but make God seem bigger and more glorious to me than I could have ever imagined.  The Word of God states that, "the heavens declare His glory".  So, what could be more astounding than if we found that the gospel story was prewritten in the stars by our Maker, long before it was ever played out?  What IF we could find that people like Abraham and Seth could actually share God's word because, " night after night they display knowledge".  I know that for some this may be pushing it, that is why I say read the book and decide for yourself.  There is not enough space here to go into all of the detail.  Yet, wouldn't it be so grand if you knew that from Virgo ( the virgin) through Leo ( the lion of the tribe of Judah) it was all there all along.  That the final gesture of the story in the sky is the lion stepping on the Dragon or serpents head?  A constellation that encompasses about one third of the night's sky.  See the connection?
     Anyway, check it out for yourself, and you be the judge.  The Bible does show God as being proud of His creation.  Part of that wondrous work are the constellations as evidenced in: Job 9:9, Job 8: 31-33, Amos 5:8.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Are we being governed by a divine timeclock?

     The following is not a study set in stone, but simply an amalgamation of musings that I have had for many years now.  So please forgive me from the start, if I seem to ramble down a rabbit trial or two, that is certainly not my intention.  I believe that there is a correlation between the rebirth of Israel, and a line of certain major events that have happened to the Jewish peoples over the last 100 years that seem to be playing themselves out along a delineated linear path.  I personally believe that there is so much importance to the rebirth of this nation-state  because it was foretold millenia ago by many of the ancient Hebrew prophets.  These prophets were also given much credence by Jesus Christ ,himself.
     It is a fact that no other nation in history has existed,  then obliterated, dispersed amongst the nations, then almost 2000 years later was reconstituted to live once again.  A  country that did not just end up as one of the Third World nations, but one that in only a generations time has become an economic and military powerhouse.  Even the most skeptical among us, would have to cast an enquiring eye towards this phenomenon.
     If anyone has ever read these Old Testament prophecies, you would definitely have to wonder if God himself was somehow directly involved in the orchestration of the overall structure of the history of the Jews.  If you unleash your own investigative curiosity, you might find that the current history of our 20th and 21st centuries are somehow uniquely intertwined with the state of Israel, and the Jewish people.  It has been said that when asked the question by Queen Victoria, " Mr.Prime Minister, what evidence can you give me for the existence of God?"  To which English Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli replied, " The Jewish people".  This conversation taking place even before the rebirth of the state of Israel, and all of the events of the 20th century.
     Now, that I have either enticed you to listen to my musings, or totally convinced you of my madness,  let us proceed.  As a student of history, I have observed a very peculiar relationship between major events that have happened to or have had a major effect on the Jewish people and the nation-state of Israel,  have occurred in the years ending in 7 or 8.  There are a couple of dates that seem out of place, but overall for the better part of 100 years the pattern holds.  Why?  There seems to be some kind of organized structure, and not just a random flurry of miscellaneous occurrences, like a chaos theoreticians dream.
     Again, I am not an expert in this arena.  Yet, my observations come from years of seeing seemingly coincidental events somehow coalescing, and pointing us in a particular direction.  I leave the verdict up to you, as to where this all maybe leading us.
  •      1897:    Theodor Herzl founded the Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland. Created to establish " a secure haven, under public law, for the Jewish people in the land of Israel"
  •     1907:  Chiam Weizmann ( who would later become Israels'  first President) establishes under the 8th Zionist Congress, the Palestine Office of the Zionist Movement in Jaffa, (Israel) Palestine.  As an outgrowth of Synthetic/Practical Zionism, they emphasized immigration, rural settlements, and education, all designed to aid movement of Jews to the land of Israel.
  •    1917: The Balfour Declaration.  In November of 1917, at the conclusion of WWI, England declared, " He majesty's governments views with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national homeland for the Jewish people"  Britain was in control of the region until the establishment of the state of Israel.( except during WWII)
  •    1938;Kristalnacht in Nazi Germany. On November 8and 9th, began a series of attacks on the Jews that began the final solution.  Passports were cancelled, 200 synagogues were burned ( almost all that were in Germany), 30,000 Jewish men taken off to concentration camps, and unspeakable damage to both persons and property.  Then the community was fined by the government several billions of dollars for the clean up of the devastation.  On 11/11/38, Herman Goering announced that Hitler personally wanted " the Jewish question solved now, once and for all, coordinated one way or another".
  •  1948  The nation of Israel is established.  This same year the PLO was created by Yasser Arafat.
  • 1967, June:  The Six Day War.  This war of survival resulted in Israel recapturing East Jerusalem.  Giving the Jewish people free access to the Temple Mount for the first time in almost exactly 1900 years ( Temple was destroyed in 67AD by the Romans
  • 1973  Yom Kippur War.  This war of survival brought the Superpowers attention to this region in a big way.  President Nixon had our forces on their highest nuclear alert to deter Soviet intervention.
  • 1978  The Camp David Peace accords created a long standing peace treaty, and economic cooperation between Israel and Egypt.  Who had been mortal enemies since 1948.
  • 1987 The First Intifada was begun by the Palestinians to turn world opinion against the Israelis.  The terror organization Hamas ( which now runs the Palestinian Government) was created.
  • 1998:  The Clinton Administration more than others before really pressed the issue of Palestinian sovereignty.  Through his term held many meetings, and reached accords all designed to further these means.  This year was really the beginning of the peeling away of US/ Israeli unity over these matters.  The State Dept. in '98 officially recognized the West Bank  & Gaza as one political,economic, and legal entity.  The US Treasury ordered that all imported goods from the region, shall NOT have the name of Israel anywhere on the products. This is also the year of the Wye River Memorandum which Israel implemented, and Yasser
  •  2008  The election of President Barack Obama and a decidedly anti Israel stance as compared to past American foreign policy began.  The emphasis now weighing in on the side of the Palestinian cause as opposed to the US's long term ally.  This was also the year of a world stock market crash that was the beginning of a credit contraction not seen since the 1930's
  • 2011 ?  Since this year is 7 years prior to 2018, we can only wonder if something significant will start now, that will some how culminate in 2018.  Whereas 7 years is an important number in Bible prophecy. And the year 2018 will be 120 years since the concept of returning to a secure Jewish Homeland was conceived.  It will be 70 years after the birth of that State. It will be some 50 years since the Jewish people had open access to the Temple Mount, and at the same time 70 years since the rebirth of the nation.  For those whose ears are in tune, these numbers all have a significance; to others they may simply be a jumble of numbers like any other, strewn across the rocky paths of our lives.  For me, I would be pricking up my ears to hear..
        

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Little birdies singing in a tree, expose the heart inside of me....

     Sometimes I find that God is just too big for me to understand,or even comprehend.  I know Him.  Yet, then again I don't.  Does that make sense?
     Let me explain. I was quietly sitting on a bench in our yard.  It sits next to a row of small trees.  Hanging down from the limb of one of the leafy green branches is a long cylindrical bird feeder.  We enjoy watching our feathered friends come to eat,socialize, and chatter back and forth with one another.  It's almost like a Starbucks for the aviary set.
     Two beautiful bright yellow finches perched themselves on the sticks that protrude from various places on the feeder.  They immediately went about their business of eating. I was drawn to watch. Their yellow feathers so starkly contrasting with the verdant green of the leaves that framed them.  I was in a peaceful state of repose.
     Although I was in a tranquil state, my mind started to wander down an active trail of thought. I started to contemplate birds.  Yes, birds!  I began to mentally catalogue the various sizes, body types, feather color variations, shapes of beaks, etc., etc., of the birds that I had recall of from my personal observations.  Then, as my imagination really started to race, I could picture the Dodo, hawks, eagles, chickens, even ostriches.  Hopefully, you will see where I am going with all of this?
     In the theater of my mind, I was able to view only a small sliver of God's wondrous winged creation.  Inspired by just two chatty finches, gobbling black seeds of rye, I panned a scene of all of the different birds that I could possibly imagine.  Yet knowing ,that my brain could only recall or conjure up even a minuscule sample of the types that actually exist in our world.
     I was in awe, wonder, and deeply humbled.  "How could anyone not believe that in the face of such creative beauty, that there is no Creator?" I pondered.  Then, the scripture from Romans 1:20,21 came to me, " for since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse".  The scripture seemed to gently wrap itself around the scene that I was beholding with my eyes and in my mind.  " For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal men and animals and birds and reptiles".  An alternative updated phrase might be..and exchanged the glory of God for government intervention, wealth, rugged individualism, humanism, socialism,evolution, the solutions from higher education, human achievement, etc.,etc., etc..  What an indictment!
     Little would I have known, how that by relaxing on a simple bench, enjoying the wonder of two birds; I would be humbled before God.  But I was.  This is not to say that nature doesn't always have this mystical magical effect of overwhelming the heart. Yet, we don't always have to encounter a brilliant scarlet sunset, or Grand Canyon moment to be bowled over by God.  All it takes is to treasure the moment that exists, usually right before our very eyes.  Staying humble, and being thankful.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Sit back, relax, quiet your mind, and enjoy....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W389iiqHiAY&feature=youtube_gdata_player

This is a holiday weekend and so some of us have had time to relax, and enjoy some moments of quiet.  It is always good for the body and soul for us to refresh our batteries so to speak.  I find that good music is always a fine choice in aiding this process.
Recently, our worship team at church did their first music video, to accompany a song that they had just written. They made a previous CD that came out several years ago, and have once again felt the unction to explore that avenue of creativity.  I find that creativity is one of the great human attributes.  If only for the singular sense that it mirrors the creative nature of God.
I hope that you take a moment, even close your eyes, and let the music soothe your soul..

For more onformation you can contact them direct at:
     tentofmeeting@aol.com

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Use the arts, and whatever you have..

     Last year at our church we used our talents to come up with a special way of conveying the true themes of Easter in a 20th century vernacular.  For some it could have been seen as unholy, and totally out of place.  Traditional it was not, but scripturally and thematically it was on target.  What we did was to use the old Ed Sullivan show as a vehicle that people could easily relate to in our modern age.  Yet within the confines of what was staged as a live one hour live variety show, we used each skit or act, as preforming a chapter in the overall message of Easter.
     We took a great risk, because it could have been not just a flop, but very offensive to the more religiously minded.  I am glad to say that our risk was anything but a flop.  We preformed to a packed house that Easter service with many new people attending.  Some of the more uninitiated to church even commented as to how they had never had so much fun in church before, and that Easter took on a whole new meaning to them now.
     I don't say any of this to pat ourselves on the back, as much as to encourage all of us to take risks when you have it in your heart to do what you feel is right.  You make not be successful in your actions, but you will never know the joy of what could have been unless you try!

     So, I am sharing with you two clips from the show.  Please excuse the quality of the video, we did our best with what we had to work with at the time.  We are a small church.  But if you take the few minutes to watch the clips and hear the words , I know that you will not only get a glimpse of what was shared that Easter morning.  You will hear the songs that are sung for all mankind.