Monday, June 2, 2008

Mercy in the Middle

Now what it the world do I mean by "Mercy in the Middle"? Well, like the story of salvation itself, we find God coming down in the middle of a situation that would otherwise be unbearable. God leaves the throne in Heaven for one specific purpose, to die for our sins. Now thta is love. In the book of Lamentations, written by the prophet Jeremiah, in chapter 3, verses 21-23 we read these words, "This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulnes." It is these verses I'd like to focus on.

You see, the rest of Lamentations chapter 3 talks about how bad things are for the prophet. People are trying to kill him. The people God sent him to aren't listening to God's warnings. To top it all off Jeremiah feels like God isn't even answering His prayers. Anyone out there feel the same way? I know I have. Look at the word I used thouh, "feel". We are so used to going on emotions that we forget that we are to live by faith and trust in the Lord. For that reason we find the prophet coming to his senses in the middle of this chapter. I know this because the very first statement he makes is "This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope." Suddenly it dawned on him that all these feelings were just that, feelings. Oh it's true people were out to kill him, and eventually did, and it's true that the people he warned did not listen. Yet look at this glorious hope he speaks of, "
It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not."

We deserve to die, every last one of us. Ever since Adam there has been no one that has lived according to the will of God wholehearedly, or perfectly. Every one of us was born into sin, or as I put it, we were still born. To the world we look alive, but we were dead. Why did God let this happen? Why does God not intervene? Why does He not show compassion? Why will He not hear my prayers? These are all questions of people who do not have a close relationship with God, or that relationship has faltered, just as Jeremiah's did. The answer is quite simple. God allows things to happen because we have chosen to let them happen. Maybe not us personally, but we as a species of life, have chosen rebellion over loyalty to God. We all deserve a traitor's death. So what does God do, He lets things play out, gives us time to repent. Why? Because the Lord's mercies are "new every morning". What a thought. What a joy. We are, deserving of death and God gives us His mercy day after day. What is that mercy? It is a chance, a clean slate, a time to repent and turn back to Him. So when some drunk runs off the road and kills a young mother, that's life, that's sin bearing its deadly fruit in this world. The drunk lives, not because he is innocient, but because he is guilty and God would rather see him receive His forgiveness and love that He might work in that man's life.

But what about revenge? What about the woman who died? The woman who died did so because of sin bearing fruit in this world. Revenge, if it is taken, must be taken upon all of us, for "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." So if God can get into that situation and extend His mercy He will do so.

Still, this isn't really about that hypothetical situation. This is about you and me and were we are in our lives. We deserve to be "consumed" but because of God's mercy we are not. His mercy to us are new every morning. Therefore we can stand up and try again. We don't have to carry around the past with us. We can say with the prophet, "Great is Thy faithfulness." - David Brollier

Thursday, May 8, 2008

New Look

Okay, it could be better. If someone knows a way to normalize the image of Jesus instead of stretching him out like that I'd like to hear from you.

Why the new look? Because I wanted something different, something eye catching, and because I happen to like that particular image of Jesus. Don't you get tired of seeing Jesus as an effeminate, weak, Caucasian with European features? The man was a carpenter's son for crying out loud. To some of you that means something. To many of you a carpenter is someone who runs down to Home Depot to grab his supplies and lumber, stacks everything in his pickup and brings it to the jobsite. Today's version of a carpenter is someone who not only can handle a saw and a hammer, but can handle a host of power tools. (Think Tim Allen on "Home Improvement"). There were no Home Depots, no lumberyards, no power tools. Jesus and his brothers followed Joseph into the Galilean hills to get trees that they had to cut down into planks for lumber, or use other parts, such as branches, to carve down to make legs for chairs and tables. The may have a donkey, but they had no power tools, not even the refined hand tools that we have available today. They didn't have pickup trucks or vans to cart this stuff around in.

Okay Dave, so why are you bringing all this up? Glad you asked. It's because we get this wimpy image of Jesus in our mind, when in fact He was probably a pretty strong man, forget for the moment that He is God. I mean, Jesus single-handedly cleared the Temple in Jerusalem on at least two occasions of those selling sacrifices and exchanging money in the Temple's outer courts by Himself. His disciples were so shocked it theydidn't even ask Him why He did it, but after Jesus rose from the dead they understood.

I guess that's what it all gets down to...power. I mean Jesus was a threat to the religious leaders who held power over the people. He spoke with such power that even the winds and waves obeyed Him. Demons trembled whenever Jesus came near, because they knew that if He told them to leave they had to leave. No one on the planet has exhibeted more power than Jesus. Of all the kings and generals and warriors, of all the warrior gods of myth and legend, of all the many different people who think they command some sort of power over others, none has come even close to Jesus.

Consider this. Satan was once a mighty angel, the highest archangel if I remember correctly. Yet pride got the better of him. It wasn't good enough to be the highest angel. He had to be the highest being, but that meant exalting himself above God. Enlisting a third of the angels in heaven he provoked a rebelion against God. What was the outcome? Satan and those angels following him were cast out of Heaven. It only took a Word and it was done. That's all, look it up.

Now look at the reverse. God who was, well, God, the Almighty, had nothing to prove to anyone. He created a species of life that would be able to understand Him and fellowship with Him. He did this for our benefit, not His. Adam, the first of these creations, was given only one command, "Don't eat from that Tree!" That's the David version. Of course we all know the story. People like to blame the woman for sin, but read your Bible. Adam was right there. What kind of protection was he providin his wife? Did he even once challenge the words of Satan? Nope. So when Eve was deceived and ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil she suddenly DID know the difference between good and evil. Many people miss this point. Well, she wasn't about to go down alone, now was she? Being the only female, and probably the only perfect female up until that point, she knew just what to do. "Here you go honey. It tastes good just like he said." "But, God said..." "Now Adam, do you want to sleep with me tonight, or outside with some goat or alligtor or such? Eat, or I swear you'll not sleep with me again." Ouch! The oldest profession.

So now God, being the very embodiment of love, had to do something about this or all humanity was doomed. For He told Adam, "In the day that you eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil you shall surely die." And that day Adam and Eve and all humanity with them died spiritually. Death was the punishment for sin, and that must be paid, but man couldn't pay it, for there wasn't a single perfect person around to die for the rest of us. In fact, since we have learned that at least in the past angels can also sin, we know that the only one who is perfect is God and He doesn't die. So what does He do? Instead of exalting Himself, lifting Himself higher, maybe killing us all off and starting over again, God, the Almighty, the Most High God decided to HUMBLE Himself. God, Creator of all things became man, in the form of Jesus (actually Yeshua) and He didn't just come down here to teach us or perform a few miracles. No, He came to die, that we might live. He came to reestablish a relationship that man once had with Him before the Fall. The choice is now up to us. We can accept His love and mercy for dying for us and find our relationship wth God restored, or we can say this is all garbage and continue to be an enemy of God. It's up to us. He's never forced our hand.

But I ask you this, who displayed the greatest power, Satan who exalted himself and was thrown out of Heaven, or God who humbled Himself and left Heaven to die for us that we might live? Who is more powerful? For Jesus rose from the dead having paid for our sin, but not until after grinding Satan's head under his heel as was prophecied in Genesis 3:15. I say there's no contest. I don't even have to think about it. It's like asking what weighs more, a hand full of goose down (feathers for you city folk) or a handful of gold? But like I said, God never forces anyone. The choice is yours. If you want to side with the real wimp, that lion that roars, but has no power, that serpent that has no fangs, go right ahead. As for me and my house, in the words of Joshua, we will serve the Lord.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Be Harmless as Doves yet Wise as Serpents

"I live in Alexandria , VA , but I often work in Lafayette , LA , staying with friends when I'm there. As you know from America 's Most Wanted TV program, as well as the news media, there is a serial killer in the Lafayette area. I just want to let you know about an "incident" that happened to me a few weeks ago, and could have been deadly.

At first I didn't go to the police or anyone with it because I didn't realize how serious this encounter was. But since I work in a jail and I told a few people about it, it wasn't long before I was paraded into Internal Affairs to tell them my story. It was approximately 5:15 a.m. in Opelousas , La. I had stayed with a friend there and was on my way to work.

I stopped at the Exxon/Blimpie Pie station to get gas. I got $10 gas and a Diet Coke. I took into the store two $5 bills and one $1 bill (just enough to get my stuff) As I pulled away from the store, a man approached my truck from the back side of the store (an unlit area). He was an "approachable-looking" man (clean cut, clean shaven, dressed well, etc).

He walked up to my window and knocked. Since I'm very paranoid and "always looking for the rapist or killer," I didn't open the window.

I just asked what he wanted. He raised a $5 bill to my window and said, "You dropped this." Since I knew I had gone into the store with a certain amount of money, I knew I didn't drop it.

When I told him it wasn't mine, he began hitting the window and door, screaming at me to open my door, and insisting that I had dropped the money! At that point, I just drove away as fast as I could.

After talking to the Internal Affairs Department and describing the man I saw, and the way he escalated from calm and polite to angry and was determined that I could have possibly encountered the serial killer myself.

Up to this point, it had been unclear as to how he had gained access to his victims, since there has been no evidence of forced entry into victim's homes, cars, etc. And the fact that he has been attacking in the daytime, when women are less likely to have their guard up, means he is pretty BOLD.

So think about it...what gesture is nicer than returning money to someone that dropped it?????

How many times would you have opened your window (or door) to get your money and say thank you.... because if the person is kind enough to return something to you, then he can't really be a threat....can he????

Please be cautious! This might not have been the serial killer... but anyone that gets that angry over someone not accepting money from them can't have honorable intentions. The most important thing to note is that his reaction was NOT WHAT I EXPECTED! A total surprise! But what might have happened if I had opened my door? I shudder to think!

Forward this to everyone you know...maybe they can be as fortunate as I was!

P.S. Ladies, really DO forward this to EVERYONE you know Even if this man wasn't a serial killer, he looked nice, he seemed polite, he was apparently doing an act of kindness, but HE WAS NOT A NICE PERSON!!!

Please forward to anyone you think might benefit from this story.."

Crystal M. Goodrich

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Power of "In"

At one point many years ago I was enraptured with a book entitled, SIT, WALK, STAND, by Watchman Nee. Essentially it is a study of the book of Ephesians focusing on those three attributes. We are seated with Christ, even now, something I found absolutely fascinating. We walk in His Spirit and claim territory rightly belonging to the household of God. And we stand in Christ. All we do is done "in" Him.

I'm sure others have found different reasons for loving the Epistle to the Ephesians and I do not begrudge them. This, however, is my journal, my personal observations, and as such I wish to make the most of it.

Let me start by saying that Ephesians isn't the only book in the Bible where we learn of this "in" Him notation. Throughout Paul's writings he speaks of "in Him", "in Christ", "in Jesus" or "in the Spirit". Jesus also makes mention of this in John 15. "I am the Vine, ye are the branches. If you remain in Me and My word abides in you ye shall bear much fruit."

Recently I attended a small church where they didn't have grape juice for their communion service, so they substituted apple juice. While this may sound like a sacrilege to some, I assure you it was not. As I sat there contemplating this substitution God reminded me of something. The center of a tree, or vine for that matter, is a thick vein-like characteristic called the "heart". Through the heart of the tree all the nutrients are carried up from the soil into the rest of the tree, including the branches. That a vine produces a different type of fruit is irrelevant. For it is from the heart that we receive the things of God, but only if we are "in Him". A branch must be grafted into the tree, or as Jesus says, the Vine, in order for it to have access to the heart, and having access to the heart, the branch has access to all that the tree itself is.

Let's go back to John 15. We, being branches in the true Vine, have access to all that Jesus is. That's quite a statement, considering Jesus is God. What foolish person would divest themselves of being so nurtured by the heart of God by means of their own choice? That thought is, to me, inconceivable. Yet I find so many people doing precisely that.

You church folk, don't go looking down your nose and saying, "That's right! What idiot would do such a thing?" for I have noticed this mostly among people claiming to be Christians, people who attend church, if only to put in the required hour with God per week, or to show off to their "Christian" friends. The world is not "in" Christ, no part of the Vine or the tree of Life because it doesn't know Him. Yet we who claim to know Him ought to have better sense than to put on a show that the world clearly understands to be hypocrisy.

Do you think I'm being harsh? Well, it is my own journal and you don't have to read it, yet I urge you to read the following. Several years ago I had a vision. It wasn't just a goal or something made up in my head. It was clearly from God. I saw a tree, a strong tree, but all the branches had been cut off. Then I heard God speaking to me, "This is My church," He said. "Unless they graft themselves back into My Son, they shall be cast away." Now there was not a single branch on this tree, who is Christ, and I wondered at this. Surely there was someone who was still in Him. So I asked God why all the branches had been cut off. People, listen closely to God's answer, take it to heart and let it sink deep into your. God answered me and said, "That is so no one can say this vision is not for them." Do you realize what that means? That means that this vision is for all of us. It means we must constantly check on our relationship with Jesus, for it is through Him we are established "in" God. Without that, we are lost, no matter what brand of doctrine you are following.

So what does all of this have to do with the apple juice communion? Even though grape juice may look a bit like blood, still the nutrients that come up through the heart of the apple tree down the branches create the apples. We come to the Lord's Supper to re-examine our relationship with God, that we be truly IN HIM. Whether it is grape juice, wine or apple juice, the lesson is the same, we are to remember what God did for us IN the person of Jesus, that we might remain IN Him and bear fruit for Him even as He bore fruit (us) for His Father. Jesus said that if we really wanted to be His disciples we must take up our cross and follow Him. What did He mean by that? That we might die to ourselves, just as He did for us, that we might live for Him as He has given us life through His death. Yes, "in" is a very powerful word indeed.

Getting Things Straight

I get all kinds of emails from Christians around the world. Those I receive from those in the US are disturbing. They talk about how anti-Christian President Obama is and propose various ideas and legislations to bring us back to a Christian society. Hang in there and you'll understand why this is disturbing.

In God's Word King Solomon received this promise from the Lord, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (2nd Chronicles 7:14)

That sounds like a map to get us back to where we need to be, but it's only part of the map. We actually have to humble ourselves. We actually have to pray and see the face of God. We actually have to turn from our wicked ways if we want God to "forgive their sin and heal their land."

Now there are many out there that will say, "That's what I'm doing." This is where the other side of the coin is revealed. In the Chronicles and the Kings we have a list of kings from David up until they are led captive in Babylon. Some kings were good, and did what was right. Most did that which was evil. One good king, I believe it was Joash, King of Judah (you see already their evil had spit the nation) ordered the cleaning out of the Temple to make it worthy of the Lord. While they were cleaning out all the garbage, the idols, the things that belonged to other idols, men found the book of the Law. We would know this as the Torah or the books of Moses. They brought it back and read it before the king. Now pay attention. As they were reading this the king tore his clothes and fell (I believe) on his face. The very reading of the Law showed him how evil he was, even though he did that which was right. He ached for the people he ruled over and destroyed all the idols, grinding them into dust. Then he had the books of the Law read before all the people and the priests and Levites cleansed themselves and began to offer up sacrifices for the people.

You may be scratching your head, wondering why I'm bringing up this ancient history. The reason is simple. As long as we try to blame someone else for the troubles we are in we are part of the problem. Until we truly humble ourselves before God, how can we turn from our evil ways? If we do not turn from our evil ways, we, the CHURCH, then our nation will continue to come under the persecution of God. It's not that God likes persecution, but He wants us to come to Him.

Many in our churches are writing their own rules, their own laws. Our hearts have grown hard. While certain people may be doing harm to this nation, they can do no greater harm than we, who call ourselves Christian, and act in ways that do not seek God out or fail to humble ourselves before our Maker. You see, God sets all authorities over us. That means President Obama and all the rest. I'm not saying they are right. I'm saying that God has sent us into our own Babylon by appointing people who would increase the burdens on our back.

Do you see it? Jeremiah prophesied this, as did Isaiah, and a number or others. Are we greater than Israel that God would stand aside for our "democracy"? We are in contempt of His court, and unless we get things right with Him they will only get worse.

The way back is through a veil of tears. Each of us must listen to the law of love that Christ spoke of, and remember that God is Love. How far have we fallen from our first love? What is in store for us if we do not return? These are the things we should be directing our energies to.

Not Political

There are lot of angry people out there following the 2012 election results. While I can understand why they are angry I also realize that anger may be one of the things that is pinning us down in this society.

Fact 1: Just about every news outlet has shown us just how poorly Pres. Barrack Obama has led this nation. He has apologized to people who are our enemies, and have stated that after Israel we are next to be destroyed. This should be scary to say the least.
Fact 2: Obama has driven the country's debt higher than all previous presidents combined.
Fact 3: It is obvious that Obama does not want the people to have the right to make their own decisions. Perhaps the South was right to secede from the Union in 1860. Some people get the idea that the Civil War was about freeing the slaves. While that did become a factor, the real issue was State Sovereignty, and I think they were right in that.
Fact 4: While we have the privilege to vote for the candidate of our choice it is actually God who establishes authorities over us. How God does that is in direct proportion to the way we, as Christians, have, or have not obeyed Him. Currently God has handed us over to a cruel task-master.

So what does all this mean? Why am I bringing this up? I am bringing this up because there are worse things than a president bound to destroy our nation. Many of you may disagree with me on that. It seems to me that as long as you and I regard this nation as the top of our priorities then we will continue to be angry and bitter with our president. This is such a crazy thing to do.

One person shared with me that unforgiveness, bitterness, and anger directed towards anyone, is like wishing they would die and taking the poison ourselves. This is what America is currently doing. We are taking poison in hopes that some other person dies or is incapacitated in their duties, in this case, President Obama.

As Christians we are to forgive, even as Jesus forgave us. Do you think that you, by your own hand, find any goodness in the eyes of God? If you do then you better change your way of thinking. Scripture tells us that there is none righteous, no not one, and that Jesus offered Himself up to die for us that we might be seen righteous through Him. Dare we think any less for the one God has placed over us?

I do not agree with Obama. I believe nearly all his policies are corrupt and seems almost calculated to destroy the United States. And yet I forgive him, with the help of the Holy Spirit. For if I rebel against Obama I am rebelling against God.

The Bible says, "If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray, seek My face and turn from their wicked ways then shall I hear from Heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land."

Time is working against us. It flies by like a barn swallow. If we do not repent now, we may never have the chance. The cup of God's wrath is already being filled. People have warped His words to support their own deviant behaviors; anger, drunkenness, sexual lust, and yes homosexuality. These also we must uphold in prayer and forgiveness. I have friends who are homosexuals, but they know my beliefs as well. I don't preach to them, nor do I put them down. People are people.

For instance, the shooting in Connecticut have nothing to do with guns or mental disabilities. It has to do with the presence of evil, and we must realize that this evil exist in all of us. The evil in one may provoke the evil in another. Jesus came into the world for this very purpose, to destroy that evil in us, but He can only do so to those who respond to Him.

While I would normally be writing about the birth of Christ and the miracles that surrounded that birth I believe it is more important to remind you, to remind me, that God is God. I'm not. Therefore I have an obligation to forgive anyone who has slighted me, and that includes the President. In fact, look at your life and pray for every person God has placed over you. Only as we seek His face and repent can we find the healing of God on this nation

Psalm 23