Tuesday, May 29, 2012

would You Know a False Teaching If it Hit You in the Face?

Good Shepherd
Today's picture is of an Israeli shepherd grazing his sheep. It reminds us of Psalm 23: 1-3; "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake"

 “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who brought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.” (2 Peter 2:1).

Hey Gang:  When Jesus was asked by His disciples, “When will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming and the end of the age” (Matt. 24:3), His response was “Careful, careful, careful, “See to it that no one misleads you.  For many will come in My name, saying, I am the Christ,” and will lead many” (vs. 4-5).

In my lifetime I have seen many of the signs Jesus said would become reality prior to his coming. In fact, it has been stated by most of the prophecy guru’s that I have learned to respect, that everything is in place for the greatest event of all time to occur – the Coming of our Lord to collect His sheep and take them home.

But I want to emphasize, the first and foremost warning that He gave was “keep your spiritual ears filled with His word and learn to recognize His voice, for many are going to be taken down the wrong road just prior to his coming. 

As a child I would have never believed that it would be a crime to place a nativity scene in a public park or say Merry Christmas to a friend or neighbor in one of our nation’s public buildings.
It was beyond my comprehension that a Franking Order would tell our legislators that they could no longer wish those that support them a Merry Christmas,or that it would be bordering on a capital offense to call a Christmas Tree a Christmas Tree!

In my lifetime I have seen the church lose its power, the rise of Replacement Theology in many churches (a theology that tries to convince the world that God replaced Israel, the Apple of His Eye with the Church,) or that it does not matter who you believe in, all the guru’s and false Messiahs lead to the same creator God, or that it is enough just to believe that Jesus did indeed exist, but not sure if the virgin birth is true, or did He really rise from the dead?  And even more profound, did He ascend to the Father and is He preparing to come again?

Jesus said, “CAREFUL, WARNING, RED LIGHTS BLARING, for we are into that day when you can find people who agree with anything you say.  Many are being LED DOWN THE Prime-Rose-Path to destruction by the evil one.  Note the end of the above Scripture verse, “False teachers will introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who brought them”  Now, note his condemnation of those false prophets and false teachings “He will bring swift destruction upon themselves”.   
Soooo, friends and neighbors, one does not have to be a rocket-scientist to see and know that many have ignored Jesus’ words to be very careful and “Not be deceived” and I have very bad news for those who do not go to the throne room daily and fill their hearts and minds with the Word of God – you will not know when you are being deceived. 



Sunday, May 27, 2012

Are You Standing In the Gap?

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
Steps at Masada (ICEJ Staff photograph)Steps at Masada
Today's picture is of steps in the path leading up to the legendary Herodian desert fortress of Masada, where members of the Jewish rebel factions which revolted against The Steps to Masada.  The Jews made there last stand against 
Rome in 70,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           as recorded by the historian Josephus in his book "The Jewish Wars." It reminds us of Job 31:4; "Does He not see my ways and number all my steps".

“I searched for man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it, but I found no one” (Ezek. 22:30)  

Hey Gang:  It seems each time the phone rings it is to let us know that another of our friends, church members, relatives have been stricken by some infirmity.  I used to have a page in my prayer journal designated for those who were suffering from some illness.  Now I have it broken down by categories;  cancer, diabetes, heart problems—name it, it is there. It seems that almost everybody is affected, either directly or through a family member or close friend who is suffering.

When facing trials, how do you respond?  Do you first place your trust in God?  King David wrote, “He only is my rock and my salvation; my stronghold; I shall not be moved”  (Psalm 62:2). But he does not leave it there:  “Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” (v. 8).  Do we really believe and live by David’s words?
Paul challenged the Corinthians to take ‘stock of themselves’. He says “Check yourselves – are you really in the faith?”  ...” Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5-7).  
Paul wanted the Corinthians to understand that it is not enough to “appear” to be fulfilling the physical requirements of the law. The Pharisees did that, but were disqualified. He minced no words when he gave his opinion of the faith levels of the scribes and Pharisees, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:27-28).
 Through the prophet Ezekiel, God gave a powerful warning: “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one” (Ezekiel 22:30).
Today, Jesus Christ stands in the gap for us, as our intercessor and great High Priest. Are we willing to stand in the gap for our brethren who are suffering? James tells us the “prayer of the faithful avails much” (James 5:16). Paul reminds us: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men”    (1 Timothy 2:1).
Soooo, As we think of those around us who are suffering serious illness, are we offering our fervent and impassioned prayers of intercession with every fiber of our being?  The needs are great and the prayers few.   Paul says “Pray fervently?”


Friday, May 25, 2012

Have you Ever Read Book You Didn't Like, but Couldn't Put Down?

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
Steps at Masada (ICEJ Staff photograph)Steps at Masada
Today's picture is of steps in the path leading up to the legendary Herodian desert fortress of Masada, where members of the Jewish rebel factions which revolted against Rome in 70 AD made their last stand, as recorded by the historian Josephus in his book "The Jewish Wars." It reminds us of Job 31:4; "Does He not see my ways and number all my steps? 

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that you would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Hey gang:  Several years ago,while we were still doing some Love and Logic teaching sessions, we learned of a neat story about a five year old who had suddenly grown out of the “cute stage” to the “pain in the neck stage”.  Something had to be done,  so the parents attended a Love and Logic workshop, bought the book and implemented the program.  One day they could not find the book.  After looking under beds, in drawers, etc.,  the mystery was solved when they found the book in the downstairs commode.  The five year old was not about to go down without a fight.

Recently I purchased a book by John Ortberg, that had a very intriguing title, “Life You’ve Always Wanted”.    He begins the book by listing things he is disappointed in, beginning with “I am disappointed with myself”.   He admits some of the things are neurotic, some are very trivial, but some are very  revealing.

He listed his disappointment that he is not all he was cracked up to be as a husband, or a father, a neighbor a friend and human being in general.  He confessed, I" am disappointed that I still love God so little and sin so much."   He further stated that, as a child, he always had the idea  that adults were pretty much the people they wanted to be, but has since learned that is a “pie in the sky” statement.

As I mentioned the book is one that I too would like to put in the toilet, for it takes me places that I along  tend to keep buried.  Although many of the things challenges our thinking.  One statement that hit me in the bread basket was,  “I am disappointed at my lack of disappointment”. 

Why would I like to turn back the hands of time and place the book back on the shelf of the store?  Because it has made me face the truth that I am not all I am cracked up to be and have learned that there is not a great deal I can do about it ……………in my own strength.  Since I am only one third through the book, I suspect you will  hear more about Pastor Ortberg’s disappointments, for they seem to be much like mine.

Soooo, good folks, many of those who read these morning thoughts are much too young to remember an old sailor boy by the name of Popeye, the spinach eating super hero.  To those of us who do remember his exploits, we remember his battle cry ,“I yam what I yam”.   For many, that is the cry of the human race.  It certainly has been a cry of mine for too many years.. O how I need a “Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world to become an overcomer”. 


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ripple Effect

Skiing on Mount Hermon (ICEJ Staff photograph)Israeli skiers on Mount Hermon
Today's picture is of Israelis enjoying the snow on Mount Hermon, in the Golan Heights. It reminds us of Psalm 133:3; It is like the dew of Hermon coming down upon the mountains of Zion; for there the LORD commanded the blessing-life forever"

Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you  become fishers of men.”  Immediately they left their nets  and followed Him”.  (Mark 1:17-18)

Hey Gang:  Have you ever thrown a stone into calm waters and watched the ripple effects that takes place.  Many years ago,in the very early developmental years of the Village I was  doing a training session with our young staff and after completing it, one of the staff came up and said “God showed me that one day there would be a ripple effect that will go out from here and impact on many lives”. 

In the past years since completing my tenure as Super Eagle at the Village, I have asked the Lord for direction on how He would have me live the remainder of my life, and the one thing that He made very clear was, when you are a child of the King, there is no rocking chair in your future.  As I have studied the Word I find no place where God instructed one of His servants to
get out a rocking chair.

Did you know that the most powerful creative forces in the world are caused by the ripple effect.  It was always a joy for me to watch a wet behind the ears young person begin to gain wisdom and understanding and grow into the person that God designed them to be.  And especially rewarding when I could see the ripple effect in their lives.  As Bruce Barton wrote, “when we invest in the life of another, we purchase a slice of immortality”. 

I received a call recently from a young man who was part of the very early Village family;  I had not heard from since his departure.  His reason for calling was to thank me for investing in his life.   As I thought about that call, I became increasingly aware that nothing was more important in my life than to be a pebble in the life of those God sent across my path.

Soooo, I have decided to focus my future on continuing to be a creator of ripples.  I want God to throw me into the waters of young lives and create ripples that will challenge, enable and energize my grand- children’s generation.   Hey, how about you?  Grab some of the golden nuggets that are found planted throughout the Word and become a  ripple maker!



Sunday, May 20, 2012

Persistence, A Key to Success

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
Camels in the desert (ICEJ Staff photograph)Camels in the Desert
Today's picture is of camels being ridden in the Negev Desert in southern Israel. It reminds us of the words of Abraham's servent in Genesis 24:13-14; "Behold, I am standing by the spring, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water; now may it be that the girl to whom I say, 'Please let down your jar so  that I may drink,' and who answers, 'Drink, and I will water your camels also'-may she be the one whom You have appointed for Your servant Isaac; and by this I will
 know that You have shown love."

“As Jesus went from there, two blind men came up to Him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”  They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.”  Then He touched their eyes, saying, “It shall be done to you according to your faith.” (Matthew. 9:27-31)

Recently,  I mentioned that words written by human hands have but one meaning but the Word of God is a virtual source of new material each  time we read it; it meets us at the exact point of our need. 

I do not know about you, but I must confess that many times I do not prepare my heart to receive what God wants to teach my from my  Scripture readings.  There is always the problem of too many things for the short time I have to give to the Lord.  But then again I have learned that God gives to me in the same measure that I give to Him (Luke 6:38).

Let me put that principle into living reality.  I have read the story of the two blind men in the above Scriptures many times but, I must admit, I have always read through the story without seeking he truths that God might be saying to me in the story. 

Soooo, I decided to dig a little deeper and., although not amazed, because God’s word is so rich in the daily needs that I face each day but yet I was a wee bit surprised. The bottom line of the story, two blind men cried out for mercy for Jesus to heal them and He did.  End of story – right?

But is that all God’s wants us to see in this passage or are there other lessons to be learned?  How about the persistence of the blind men – they saw their chance and went 
for it.  Or how about their determination – they were not willing to throw in the towel simply because Jesus was surrounded by a mob of folks also seeking healing. 

And then there is the fact that they were not intimidated by the mobs and certainly were no fearful to take their need to the Lord.  How about verse 31? They went out and spread 
the news about Him throughout all the land even after Jesus told them to “keep this under your hat”.

And finally, note, they were not afraid to make a tough request.    As I meditated on these words I got the sense that God was saying, 'one day when you stand before Me and  give an account of what you did with My Son on earth, were you like the two blind men, bold as lions and spread the good news that Jesus is Lord of your life in action and  word? Will  there  be a special reward – a crown?
Sooooo, my young friends, put on your armor and get ready for battle today for Satan is as a roaring lion seeking to destroy the works of your hands, but also know that God’s grace is sufficient!



Thursday, May 17, 2012

Are You Conformed to the World? Even A Little Bit?

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
Peniel (ICEJ Staff photograph)Peniel
Today's picture is of Peniel, the place on the shore of the Jordan River that is the traditional spot where Jacob wrestled with the Angel of the Lord, as recorded in Genesis 32:29-30; "Then Jacob asked him and said, "Please tell me your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And he blessed him there. So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, "I have seen God face to face, 
yet my life has been preserved" 

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2).

Hey Gang:  Have you ever heard the comment “Hey, everyone is doing it?  Or even better yet, have you ever said, “Hey, everyone one is doing it, so it must be okay.  I mean brother George and sister Hazel are doing it and they are the deacon and deaconess in the church so it must be okay. 

If you have, I have some bad news for you, a million folks may say 'to believe' is enough to get you into God’s kingdom or 'there is more than one road to heaven' or a multitude of other things that grieves the Holy Spirit but that does not make it right in God’s sight.

Take heed to what the young lads said when given the option of doing it the Babylonian way or facing the pussy cat den or fiery furnace.  Daniel was given the option - eat the food that was dedicated to the false god’s or pay the piper.  

But he knew in his heart that agreeing to the bangles and beads road would only lead to deep problems in eternity. Instead he stood unshaken and unmovable and “made up his mind that he would not defile himself on the king’s choice foods” (Dan. 1:8-9).

The three young lads were given the option of bowing down to the great image but said no thanks to the great king and then added, “If it be so our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire,and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if He chooses not to bail us out of this pot hole in the road, we are not going to defile ourselves by going down your road”.  (Dan. 3:17-18).

Notice, God liked that.  Verse nine tells us, “Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials” and in verse twenty we read “As for every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king consulted them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and conjurers who were in all his realm”.

Soooo, my young friends, in my study of Ezekiel I find many, many times when God said “I will”, but with many of those “I will’s” there is a condition applied.  We also find that with the many covenants that God made, some were conditional and some unconditional.  The one I like the most is “That He demonstrated His love to us in that while yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).  Careful, as you progress through this day that you do not bow down to any images!



Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Have You Ever Sought a Deeper Relationship from God?

Silwan (Wikipedia)Biblical park to be built in Jerusalem
Israel's Interior Ministry announced this week that a 5,000 square meter tourist complex in Silwan, the neighborhood directly south of Jerusalem's Old City predominantly populated by Arabs, will be built. The park, with a Biblical theme highlighting the archeological evidence that the area was the site of the city King David built, is part of a proposed project called the 'King's Garden.' The move is likely to cause further tensions in Jerusalem as Arab residents refuse to move out of their homes to make way for the construction despite promises of compensation, and Muslim groups in the city and regional governments accuse Israel of attempting to "Judaize Jerusalem.

  “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness. For we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26).

Hey Gang, In my lifetime I have been privileged to cross paths with what I would call “true saints of God” and  when I am around them I sense a very special aura that I pray I too may one day experience.    I’ve often wondered if such a supernatural touch of God is simply a matter of predetermination?

Are those chosen and elected for it before they’re even born?  Is it merely their destiny to be dedicated to prayer, possessed by the Holy Spirit, given words from God’s throne?

Do you ever have confession times when you pour out your heart to God?   Do you ever long to sit at the feet of Jesus as Mary did?  Martha was ticked and let Jesus know it, but Jesus soothed her feathers when He said, “Martha, Mary has found the finer things!'  Have you ever experienced the finer things?

I ask these question because of an unexplainable, God-given hunger in my soul.  Did your inner man ever yearn for a revelation from the throne room of heaven?   It is nice to hear God speak through a brother or sister but something in me simply won’t settle for another  person’s revelations.

Why?  I am convinced God has a particular word He wants to speak to this generation.  And right now, He’s searching the earth for servants He can possess.  He wants men and woman who’ll serve as his oracles to a lost world. 

Only His powerful anointed Word can combat the rising spirit of Islam and false gospels.  And only His truth can deal a death blow to the self interest, materialism and lust in His own church.

I believe with all my heart that God is raising up a mighty army of believers in preparation for His soon coming.   Paul wrote, “and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  He followed this with an awesome promise “And we know that God causes all things to work together for  good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose”  (Rom. 8:27-28).

Sooooo, my young lads and lassies, is your heart’s desire to be an “oracle to be used by God”?  Then seek the things above.  Tuck this verse in your heart today, “These whom He predestined, He also called and these whom He called, He also justified, and these whom He justified, He also glorified”. (Rom. 8:30).      



Sunday, May 13, 2012

Choice - Unity or Heartburn

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
Valley of Tears (ICEJ Staff photograph)Valley of Tears
Today's picture is of the 'Valley of Tears' in the area between Syria and Israel where IDF tanks fought off a vastly superior attack by Syrian forces in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Today, 
this former battlefield is productive farmland, reminding us of Isaiah 25:8; "He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken" 

Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” (Phil. 2:2).

Hey Gang:  “Choice” or “heartburn” may be a wee bit light for this subject.  A few years back we had a daddy show up at one of the week-end parenting classes.  I might add, it was suggested by the local probate judge that he bury his anger for a week end and come and see if there is a better way.

On the first weekend he sat with his arms crossed, and one did not have to be too bright to see that he had made us his mind that he would be there in body but not in spirit.  He was no problem, stumps very seldom are unless you happen to run into them. 

The one thing he kept track of was the time – how soon can I get out of this and get back to being a stump again.  Did you know there are a lot of people like that?  The Scripture tell us that there are folks who dearly love to return to their vomit even though their chest cavity feels like someone just rolled over them in a semi.  (Been there and done that)

But, then again, I did not have a reputation for allowing stumps to take up space without some sort of response, negative or positive – his choice.  In weekend two, we centered on change – you can remain like you are or lay down the hatchet or gauntlet and try something new.  We closed with the challenge: “Try it you might like it”.

Well, low and behold, on the next Saturday we greeted a new daddy, same body but different face and totally different attitude.  He had accepted our challenge and tried it.  When he arrived home he announced to the siblings in the family that things were going to be different and they were - including him!  

The end of the story is that dad and mom and siblings liked the new atmosphere of the house, which was heartburn free, for they had learned what Paul was talking about in the above verse.  There is joy in unity.

Sooo, my young friends, check out these words by David,  “Behold, how good it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.  It is like the precious oil upon the head, Coming down upon the beard” (Psa. 133:1).  God’s lubricating oil works very well, even between brother and sister sandpaper.  That’s why God said when you are at the altar ready to make your sacrifice and you think of a burr that is sticking you, leave your sacrifice and go and remove the burr! (Hainley rendition)



Friday, May 11, 2012

Are You A Literal Believer?

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
Kidron Valley (ICEJ Staff Photograph)Kidron Valley
Today's picture is of the Kidron Valley, which runs along the eastern edge of Jerusalem. It reminds  us of 2 Chronicles 29:16; "So the priests went in to the inner part of the house of the LORD to 
cleanse it, and every unclean thing which they found in the temple of the LORD they brought out  to the court of the house of the LORD. Then the Levites received it to carry out to the Kidron valley" 
“Some fell by the road and birds came and ate them up, some on rocky ground when they had no sustaining soil, some fell among thorns, and were soon  choked out BUT some fell on good soil and yielded a crop” (Matthew 13:3-9).

Hey Gang: Confession time – I enjoy doing Gramps Morning Thoughts.  I haven’t a clue if they are penetrating to the depths of each reader's heart – I pray they are, but they certainly are to the depths of my heart.  I pray diligently each morning as I hit the send button that it is God’s message going out and not mine.  I am but the recorder, I pray He is the author.

The reason it is such a joy to prepare the blogs and emails each day is it keeps me in the Word.  I love to take a word and trace the road that God would have me traverse.  My biggest problem in preparing the final draft is I want to share so much more than space allows.

As most of you who receive these epistles know, I have always been a teacher of the seed planting principle “That God is not mocked, we are going to reap what we sow” (Gal. 6:7). 

I have learned, throughout the years of being in the Word, that all of God’s precepts, statutes and commandments are not only irrevocable but are also based on “common sense”.  It does not take a brain surgeon or rocket scientist to understand that if we beat up our bodies with booze, cigarettes, drugs and whatever else, we are going to pay the 
Piper ‘big time’  down the road.

Peter addressed this very thing in chapter 5 of his first epistle, “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God”. Why?  “That he may exalt you at the proper time.”  He follows this with a word of reassurance for those of us who struggle, “...casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”

Now notice Peter describes why good people have problems “Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  But, thank God for the “but”, “resist him, be firm in your faith …for one day Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you”.   If that does not set your excitement meter rotating at a zillion revolutions a minute, perhaps you need a second touch from God, this morning.

Soooo,  lads and ladies,  keep in mind that no matter how clean you keep your house, the evil one continues to look over your shoulder and look for a tinny-weeny opening to not only move into your  house but also to bring his cousins along.  Remember when Satan finally gave up trying to test Jesus in the wilderness he departed but only for a “more opportune time” (Luke 4:13) to implement the sinister plan he has for each of us.