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Monthly Archives: April 2015

I HAD HER AT BEGAT

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Several years ago I started going to a Sunday school class after years of absence. Our church is a large church so there were several adult class options. I chose a class on the history and geography of Israel and enjoyed it very much. There were a lot of people in the class and I knew very few of them.

One Sunday the teacher asked for someone to look up the genealogy of Jesus (often called the begats) found in Matthew chapter one and read a portion of it to the class. I was sitting in the front row and volunteered and was called on. What the class didn’t know is that in my teenage years I had memorized the entire genealogy and still had a pretty good handle on it, although it had been awhile since I had tried to quote it. I threw caution to the wind, stood…

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Posted by on April 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

THE STORY OF JASPER AND JORDAN

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In the book of Leviticus instructions for the various offerings are found. Like things in many of the books of the Law, it is easy to skim over these instructions and go on to something that seems easier to understand or more applicable. But these were very important to those to whom it was first written and the symbolism is rich. We could talk about the burnt offering, the peace offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering. But there was a daily sacrifice which constantly reminded God’s people for hundreds of years of the ultimate sacrifice to come. Let’s read the story of two lambs born thousands of years ago.

A male lamb is born. His name is Jasper. For weeks the ewe is his only real nourishment. He follows her wherever she goes. He begins nibbling on the grass just like mom does. Eventually he jumps and plays…

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Posted by on April 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

LEARNING FROM SOLOMON’S MISTAKES

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Solomon started admirably, loving and obeying God as his father David had done. Because Solomon chose wisdom over riches and honor, the Lord blessed him with all of the above. Very often the Lord does that, the righteous prosper on many fronts. This is good, and a blessing from God. But it also tests the blessed one, to see if they will continue to keep the Lord as their first love, or love the blessings just as much or more.

When one is blessed materially or with leadership or fame because of faithfulness, any slide into compromise is usually a slow fade. The faithful never really intend to back slide or replace their love for the Almighty with things, ego and the like. But too often, little by little the blessings chip away at the faithful and he or she begins to love the blessings more than the One who blesses.

“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Revelation 2:4).

We are exhorted to not overwork to become rich (Proverbs 23:4), Those who want to get rich fall into temptation…(1 Timothy 6:9) and be content with what you have (Hebrews 13:5). Why? The reason is clear:

It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 9:23).

Is it a sin to be rich? Certainly not! But it makes living like a disciple significantly more difficult. So don’t seek riches. If they come as blessing from God, good. But beware; they come with many temptations whereby many good men and women have fallen prey and ended up a shadow of the spiritual warrior they were or were to become.

Solomon was one of the blessed ones. Solomon was also one of the tempted ones. And he yielded to temptation in a big way.

“I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure (Ecclesiastes 2:10).

“But King Solomon loved many foreign women…from the nations of whom the Lord has said ‘you shall not intermarry with them. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.’ Solomon clung to these in love. And he had 700 wives, and 300 concubines; and his wives turned away his heart” 1 Kings 11:1-3).

“Can a man take fire to his bosom and not be burned” (Proverbs 6:27)?

“And he did likewise (built high places for other gods) for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods. So the Lord became angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned from the Lord God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice” (1 Kings 11:8-9).

We reap what we sow. Solomon held nothing back and lived his life to the full, enjoying all his blessings. But his heart grew cold to the Lord. He ended up worshipping other gods and the great king Solomon may very well be in hell if he didn’t truly repent later in life. He did summarize what he thought of his life of excess:

“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.  I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed all is vanity and grasping for the wind” (Ecclesiastes1:2,14).

After experiencing first hand like no other the pointlessness of living a life for self and pleasure, Solomon concluded:

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

We prosperous American Christians live in a precarious and dangerous situation. Jesus said we can’t serve two masters, but millions of us put His words to the test daily. We think we can. Maybe others can’t, but we can manage the balance between loving God and loving pleasure and money. But we can’t. We will always love one master more than the other. And our time, energies and money tell us which master we love more. Dear friend, are you a David, a man with a single, undivided heart, or a Solomon with a divided heart? Our loving heavenly father desires our all and, in response, will give us His all.

 

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MILEPOSTS OF MY LIFE: WHEN DAN WOKE UP SPEAKING IN TONGUES

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The church Dan grew up in was a great church that laid a wonderful, solid foundation for his faith. He learned much about church community, essential doctrines, sharing his faith and much more. He also made many lifelong believing friends who have always meant much to him. The church was a fundamentalist Evangelical church and their attitude about everything or anything Pentecostal was typical of similar churches. Although there were a few closet pro-Pentecostal folks in the ranks, they didn’t say much. Generally, most of the church didn’t quite know what to think of those bold, out-spoken tongue talking Charismatics, and were content to keep their distance.

Dan followed the lead but always wondered if there was something to what those other Christians believe. If Dan was to consider exploring that side of the faith he had some long held beliefs and questions he had to overcome:

  • Speaking in tongues is of the devil: He had heard it all his life but thought that to be a risky statement if there was even a remote possibility it wasn’t true. Those who said this potentially attributed the things of the Spirit to the devil, something Jesus called blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Dan always valued his salvation too much to utter such words.
  • Some of the gifts of the spirit have passed away: Dan really had a hard time with this one. Why would they have? Why did Paul, in the middle of the first century spend so much scripture addressing the proper exercise of these fading gifts and exhort believers to earnestly desire them, if they were to pass away in a few short decades? Why and how do hundreds of millions of Christian believers practice these gifts if they no longer exist? Dan didn’t buy that they no longer existed.
  • Many who practice certain gifts abuse them or overzealously practice them in a way that doesn’t necessarily glorify God. Well, Dan was sure that this was obviously true.

So in the early 1980’s Dan dared read some publications from the pro Pentecostal perspective. He occasionally visited a Pentecostal church. There was something there that drew him. There were things he liked and things he didn’t like. But if there was something godly to this Holy Spirit baptism thing, he didn’t want to spend his life as only a spectator.

Dan, like most fundamentalist and dispensationalists, had a major mental block regarding taking things by faith without being able to fully explain them. During this time Dan had started to go to a large Charismatic church called Jesus People Church. Several times a week he went and was faced anew with the question of whether this charismatic stuff was legit. He spent extensive time in study on the subject and lots of time in prayer. He talked to others on both sides of the very high fence between Pentecostals and non-Pentecostals.

God knew the difficult hurdles Dan would have to clear if he were ever meant to speak in tongues, prophesy, or anything else that the fundamentals condemned. One night, when Dan was lying in bed he spent time in prayer with a special emphasis on worship of the great and awesome God. He fell asleep worshipping. Suddenly, he woke up startled because he was speaking in an unknown language in his sleep! There was no one else around, no outside influences, no effort on Dan’s part, just a sovereign blessing of God. This may very well have been the only way Dan would have accepted such a thing. There was no one to blame but God. And if it was from God, it was a good thing. He smiled to himself and suddenly had no question of the legitimacy of the gift. Yes, it still existed and was still a good thing. Dan knew in his spirit he was worshipping God in a whole, new way.

During the time that passed after that night a ravenous hunger for the Bible took over Dan. He couldn’t get enough, primarily because it seemed that he had incredible revelation when he read it. Every time he opened his Bible it came alive big time. Dan experienced a refreshing of the fruit of the spirit and what seemed like a new found love for others. His faith seemed to increase. Dan experienced other gifts like prophesying, words of knowledge and others. Though Dan was the same Dan wanting to just walk with God, it seemed he had an extra zeal and calm assurance of the things of God. Dan was sure he had experienced supernatural encounters with the spirit in the past, but this seemed to be on a whole new level.

Since then Dan has mostly gone to Pentecostal churches. He has found that there are just as many positive and negative things in those churches as the others. There are many things Dan still likes or even prefers about non-Pentecostal churches, and Dan has great fellowship with Christians on both sides of the issue. God loves and uses us all. But Dan can’t shake off that extra baptism that he has experienced that is real and undeniable. To deny or make light of it would be a sin. It is a gift from God. And every gift from God is good.

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2015 in MILEPOSTS OF MY LIFE

 

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A TABERNACLE TOUR

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We should not leave the book of Exodus on our blog through the Bible without appreciating the significance of the tabernacle. The Lord showed Moses the tabernacle in heaven and commanded him to build a replica on earth to facilitate sacrifice for sin and worship. A few years ago I took my family to see a full size replica of the tabernacle with all the furnishings. Being right in the midst of all this symbolism was quite moving. The whole complex was made up of four sections: The outer court, the inner court, the holy place and the holy of holies.

As you enter the inner court form the outer court you enter through the gate. This symbolizes Jesus, the gate and the only way to the presence of God. Immediately inside the gate you see the first piece of furniture, the brazen altar. This altar was much larger and…

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Posted by on April 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

MILEPOSTS OF MY LIFE: DAN MOVES AWAY FROM HOME

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In the Spring of 1981 Dan was done going into debt at Northwestern. The business world interested Dan so he decided to enter a Business and Sales program at Anoka Technical School. The schooling was taught by business people who had been there and done that. The program’s reputation didn’t really place you in a coveted position in the business world, but taught some great ways to think and act as a business person.

Dan enjoyed doing well in the classes and learned very useful things that he would pop up in the business world in years to come. One quote he remembers from one of his teachers was: “Your expenses always rise to meet your income.” No kidding. As Dan made more and more money he saw that to be painfully true. Eventually he learned that something else was also true: Expenses didn’t necessarily lower to meet your income. They could, but it didn’t seem to come as automatically as when expenses went up.

During this time Dan took another less than ideal job that met his needs but barely. He worked at a local drug store owned by two Jews. Dan had always had respect for the history of Jews and somehow thought they all had some respect for the Almighty God. These two guys were some of the most ungodly guys he had ever met. Dan was confused but throughout life has realized that if you wholeheartedly reject the promised Messiah, you are probably capable of most anything. Again, the job made ends meet, but Dan couldn’t get away from that atmosphere fast enough.

In the Spring of 1982 Dan enrolled in more Business classes at Anoka Ramsey College. He was still doing well in school, but was beginning to step back to not knowing what he wanted to do with his life, vocationally. He finished the school year well, but decided to just work again for a while and take a break. In the summer of 1982 he got a full time, though temporary, job working for Anoka Hennepin School District. It was also the summer he and his brother Dave would move away from home.

It was exciting to gather cheap dishes, furniture and the like and to begin to set up house, ugly as it was. Dan’s Dad owned a home in Blaine so Dave, Dan and two of his friends rented the home and it quickly became a happening bachelor’s pad. All of the guys were believers so there was lots of bible studies, prayer and discussion about spiritually things. After a few months Dad decided to sell the home and Dave and Dan assumed the mortgage and were suddenly proud home owners with renters! As was said, moving out was exciting, but it was emotional too. Dan’s life with his parents was a very good life. They taught him well the things of God, and lived an exemplary life. But Dan needn’t worry, they would always be there, and their examples would continue to inspire him for many decades. When Dan speaks well of his Dad and Mom, he isn’t kidding. It would be difficult to find someone he admires more.

In the fall of 1982 Dan stayed on with the school district as a custodian at $5.00 an hour. His portion of the house payment was $200 a month, he had a $86.18 car payment, and the job wasn’t quite full time, so there wasn’t much extra to live on. But living with the guys was constant entertainment so he didn’t need to spend much money on the fun life. Dan was content with what he had, something that wouldn’t always be there, but as long it was, it was a good life. In fact, when Dan looks back, his poorest times were his best times without exception, just being content with his needs met. It also seemed that in the poorest times he was in more aggressive pursuit of God, and God was always found by him.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2015 in MILEPOSTS OF MY LIFE

 

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ASHAMED OF GOD?

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This is not meant to be a rant. But sometimes I wonder if we have become ashamed of God. I come across people apologizing for Him regularly. Moses asked to see God and He was granted a viewing. And here is what God said as He passed by Moses:

“The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and fourth generation.”

What was Moses’ reaction to the presence of God and these words? “So Moses made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped.” Coming face to face with the God of the Bible will have that desirable effect on you.

The God of the Bible is often different…

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Posted by on April 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

SHOULD CHRISTIANS PREACH AGAINST SIN?

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Believers are often called or considered “haters” when they call out or define what sin is. That is no surprise as Jesus said unbelievers hated Him and they would hate us too. And the reason they hated Him is that He testified that their deeds were evil. So if we do the same we will also offend them. But what I find disturbing is that Christians have now also begun to condemn calling out sin and call the believers that do “haters”.

To find out whether believers should point out sin we should look at the Bible and church history to see how believers have been told to deal with unbelievers and how they did. Here are some examples:

  • Noah was told that just he and his family would be saved, but he spent over one hundred years building the ark…and preaching and warning his generation. What did he preach? We are told he preached righteousness. In other words, he defined what was right and wrong. He didn’t talk about how God would help them reach their goals in life, etc, but how to live right and how to keep from living wrong.
  • The various judges and kings of the Bible who lived for God preached and enforced righteousness. They condemned sin specifically and advocated repentance of sin and embracing what is right. This was their primary message.
  • It is no secret that all the prophets of old spoke bluntly, sometimes at the cost of their freedom or lives. Their message is also no secret and it came directly from God. In other words, their words were exactly what God wanted sinners to hear. And that message was primarily repent, and live right. The sins were specifically enumerated and were to be repented of, or no forgiveness would be granted.
  • John the Baptist rebuked Herod for taking a certain woman for his wife and told him it was just plain wrong. Eventually, it cost John his life.
  • What about Jesus? We are told that Jesus was a friend of sinners. And He was. But did He compromise and go out of His way to get them to love and respect Him? I don’t think so. His message on a couple of occasions was, “Go and sin no more.” And to the rich young ruler, He told to sell all he had and give to the poor. Jesus message to the sinners was a message of hope but conditional on a 180-degree turn in their lives. And we all know how Jesus dealt with the hypocrites of the day. He hated hypocrisy! And it was obvious by His very harsh and, yes, condemning words to the hypocrites. Jesus would be accused of being a hater by believers and unbelievers alike today.
  • What about the apostles? Without question, they continued the theme of absolute repentance. Several times Paul listed and defined sins that would keep sinners out of the Kingdom of God. Peter was big on living holy as well as the writer of Hebrews. And John wrote his first epistle saying, I write these things so you do not sin, and he who sins is of the devil.
  • Anyone who honestly reads church history has to admit that until recently preaching in the Catholic and Protestant church was against sin, defining it in no uncertain terms. Even throughout the first half of the 1900s sin was railed against by modern day preachers of righteousness, be it a pastor or an evangelist.

But somehow in the last part of the 20th century up until now, it has become exceedingly unpopular to point out and define sin. We are told to be positive and give only “good news”. I am reminded of when God’s people of old said the same thing:

For this is a rebellious people, false sons, Sons who refuse to listen To the instruction of the LORD; Who say to the seers, “You must not see visions”; And to the prophets, “You must not prophesy to us what is right, Speak to us pleasant words, Prophesy illusions. “Get out of the way, turn aside from the path, Let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 30:9-11)

Wanting to hear only smooth things is nothing new. Anything else demands change and hard work and we would rather have it easy. But living for Jesus is demanding and it is certainly not easy. And we do sinners a severe disservice telling them only the smooth things. As a result, they try this Jesus thing and fall away because they didn’t hear the whole gospel. When the going gets tough or demanding, they object because they weren’t told about repentance and what sin is.

Furthermore, our society in general, has become woefully ignorant of the Bible, Christians included.  This being the case, it is up to believers to educate the ignorant on what is right and wrong. Millions don’t think there is anything wrong with gossip, fornication, homosexuality, lying and on and on. Jesus said we are the light of the world and that light isn’t just a bumper sticker. We, like Jesus, bring good news, but also testify to the world that their deeds are evil. Real believers become real believers when they are convicted of their sins, by becoming conscious of their sins, and then turn from their sins. Real believers are all about giving to God, not about what they can get from Him.

All previous generations for thousands of years decried and defined sin. Until our, more enlightened one. Is it more likely they were all wrong or we are? The results of our preaching may tell us which type of preaching is more productive. We get more “converts” when we prophesy smooth things. But we get more lasting disciples when unbelievers understand what sin is, are convicted of it and turn from it.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2015 in Inspirational

 

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