THE TRUTH IN LOVE

Speaking the truth in love means:

The truth needs to be spoken, the clear, unvarnished truth of scripture. It represents things as they are.

The truth spoken in the original language means “truthing in love” it is seen as walking or holding up the plain truth of scripture in Calvary love or agapao love (3 John 4).

The truth must be spoken without a sour, unfeeling disposition and a genuine concern and love for others spiritual welfare.

The truth has a goal of maturity of the hearer which has for its model Jesus Christ who is the truth (John 14:6).
The truth is necessary because we are members of one body and when one part is infected all are in danger of being hurt (Eph. 4:25).

Stephen Gibney

Born at the Wrong Time

“Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him.”  (1 Cor. 15:8 NLT).

When Paul was converted after Jesus had already ascended back to heaven and the Lord appeared to him.

Paul is the first example of believers today. We, like him, learn about Jesus after the resurrection as opposed to the other apostles, who learned about Christ before the resurrection.

How often have I seen this scripture in a different light and felt that because of what’s happening in modern Christianity today that I and the few like me were born at the wrong time. Things have changed since the time I was converted forty years ago.

The marketing consultants for idiotic churches and their gutless spineless preachers have changed everything in Christianity and left the Scripture and the Holy Spirit out. Their ideas are laughable and ridiculous.

It used to be Baal’s boys versus Elijah. And in that case is easy to see who is right and wrong. But today the Hananiah’s on their concert stages are opposed to the Jeremiah’s. They have a form of godliness and know how to rationalize their beliefs.

It leaves you feeling like you were born at the wrong time because nobody seems to be listening to scriptural teaching. When you confront them with the scripture they treat you as though you are religious or old school. It’s not just technology or even style of music, that’s always changing. But when the message of Christianity changes it is no longer the biblical and historical Christian faith.

You realise it’s been the same in every time period when apostasy and heresy become the practice of the day those called to the preach the unadulterated Word of God are looked at as strange and irrelevant.

What’s worse I know my weaknesses, ineptitude and sins and feel unqualified in and of myself. I draw comfort from the scripture that says “our sufficiency is of God.” (2 Cor. 3:5) and pray I can make a difference all the while feeling like I am born at the wrong time.

Let Me See Your Face

I have met people who look down all the time. I knew a Pastor who when he preached never looked at the people due to a traumatic experience in his life. I felt bad for him. It is time to make eye contact with the Lord. It is time for his church to stop looking down and looking up to Christ.  

He says to her, “Let me see your face, Let me hear your voice; For your voice is sweet, And your face is lovely.” (Song 2:14). Look to Christ when you are depressed and, “be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” (Psalm 31:24).  

Lift up your eyes to the Son of God when you are anxious, he can quiet down the storms on outside and the fear on the inside. Lift up your eyes to Jesus on the Cross when you feel guilty and ashamed and see him bleeding to forgive your sins.

What will happen when I look up. You will see his face. His smiling face.  Have you not heard over and over again in the Benediction “May the LORD bless you and protect you; may the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you.” (Num 6:24-25)?  You have his blessing, favor and love. God says, “When they were discouraged, I smiled at them. My look of approval was precious to them.” (Job 29:24).  Many people in Shepherd of the Valley are saying, “Who will show us better times?” Let your face smile on us, Lord. (Ps 4:6)   When King Jesus smiles at you, “there is life; his favor refreshes like a spring rain.” (Prov 16:15).  God is going to give you your smile back, “The help of my countenance and my God.” (Psalm 42:11; 43:5). You have been so sad, Oh my friend you will smile again.

Vision Casting is Not Biblical

Vision casting is not a biblical teaching.  Every time the religious marketers use Proverbs 29:18 it is misquoted. Here is what it says, “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.”

This passage is talking about the revelation of God in the Scripture and His law as given to us. When people reject the teachings of the Bible then they cast off restraint.

The Pastor is not to be a visionary leader using a corporate business model but is a shepherd who feeds and nutures the his congregation with wholesome, Christ-centered biblical teaching.

The congregation is taught to “aggressively defend that unity and vision” that comes from the prophetic vision of the Pastor.  Sadly, that means when people question biblically what is going on then they are marginalized, attacked and even evicted. 

The end result is that you no longer go to church to hear God’s Word but to promulgate the Pastors so called vision (and what is scary) is that people seem to have more of a loyalty to the “vision caster” instead of loyalty to Christ and the Bible.

Being Unhealthy is Required

I observed church for a long time and one thing I can tell you God does not require healthy pastors and certainly not healthy congregations.

For instance, if we all had healthy congregations as pastors, we could retire and go down to Florida and sip iced tea with unmasked lips to the sound of ocean waves.

Jesus said, “the sick need a doctor.” In these days you would think people could relate easily to what Jesus said in these days of plague. Those who are sick need to visit their primary care physician.

The application of what Jesus was teaching is clear. Spiritually sick people people who are sinners need the mercy and forgiveness of God to heal them in their souls. When Jesus died on the cross the apostle’s taught that “by his wounds we were healed.”

It’s a myth made up by the Babylonian religious salesman of our day when you hear about healthy churches and healthy pastors this refers to the financial solvency of the church and that the people are under the mode of moral therapeutic deism calling them to self improvement with motivational speaking.

We are all sinners saved by grace. Only the Word of Christ can help the people. This must include the eternal responsibility of the preacher to proclaim God’s word.

HE WAS THINKING ABOUT YOU

Only God can judge whether we have faith or not but I know God wants us, “to trust in him at all times.” (Psa. 62:8).

When I am full of fear or doubt, God is calling me to rally my faith, to recuperate from bad times by meditating upon his “exceeding great and precious promises.” (2 Peter 1:4).

When you do that did you know that your meditation will, “be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the Lord.” (Psalm 104: 34). God loves those of you who think about him. When you call to him in prayer, he will speak to you through the Scriptures saying, “I was just thinking about you.” Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ (Isa 58:9).

God’s words reveal who he is and what he reveals at times about him is that he thinking about us, “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand.” (Psalm 139:17-18). This message today is because He was thinking about you.

A LITTLE HIGHER

I get it, some days we are Cranky Christians living in Ecclesiastes and there is nothing new under the sun. Other days we feel like Super Saints in Ephesians flying in Heavenly places.

But IS IT so hard to imagine that the Lord is inviting you to come up a little higher today? Did you know the Bible says our salvation is being risen with Christ (Col 3:1)? Since Christ lifted us up from spiritual death he has set us in heavenly places (Eph. 2: 5) this is not hard to imagine.

I am not talking about some deeper life legalism, or a new level, or another dimension, and all that religious science fiction crap that is spoken from these pop theology creeps and their message of self-improvement. I am talking about looking up at what has been done by Jesus for you already in his death, burial and resurrection.

“I want to live above the world, though Satan’s darts at me are hurled, for faith has caught the joyful sound, the song of saints on higher ground.”

Bored with Jesus

Some wonder what it was like to sit with Jesus and hear him teach. I have thought that too.  But the wonderful Son of God told us it was necessary that he goes away so that the Holy Spirit could come. He would comfort us. He would show us Jesus Christ the hope of glory.

Thank God we can read about Christ in the scriptures-the real Jesus.  Not the knock off Jesus which is either the invention of pop theology or the one of Hollywierd.

God has sent His Son Jesus to bless us.  We have the gift of Jesus from the scriptures and have been blessed with the wonderful historical teaching of the Church.

When Jesus came there was no music, no concerts, no comfortable pews or seats.  There were no celebrity endorsements or invitations to listen to religious gurus to teach us how to keep the law better and follow principles, steps and programs to make us “better” people.

There was just Jesus reaching sinners like you and me. Jesus and his preaching and teaching. Jesus and his wonderful works.

That is not enough for people today as in other days because they really don’t understand they are being led away from the simplicity and purity of Christ.

People are so much like ancient Israel that cashed in on their desire to rebel with a modified version of God or replacing him altogether.

Will this be the generation that  became bored with Jesus? Then they never knew him. For if they believed in Him, they would love the One who died for them and lives for them.

Waiting

One of the biggest challenges of my life is waiting.

Waiting on God. Waiting on the next assignment.

It’s not like waiting for your car to be fixed, or standing in line waiting to pay for your groceries.

This waiting means believing and expecting and obeying. None of which I excel at. It’s hard. Even if you have done it before its hard. It’s harder when you wait.

All the things that you do, look for work, send resumes, interview with churches, further your education-nothing makes anything go faster.

Church has changed. I am older. I am complex. God’s placement for me has always been unique.

It feels like exile.

It looks like a wilderness on the edge of city skyline at dusk. It smells like burgers and fries and people are drinking coke and eating cheesecake in crowded diners. Laughing and Loud.

While I stare panoramically contemplating about the past, present and future.

But I have to learn and learning is waiting.

The Toughest Seminary

The Apostle Paul graduated summa cum laude from the school of hard knocks with a doctoral degree in contentment.

You could see on his transcript that he took classes in being needy and classes in having plenty.

One semester He took a class in hunger and then a class in feasting.

He was under deep pressure and experienced times of confusion but it did not crush him and did not drive him to despair.

He had a contract on his head. He was hunted down, but God did not abandon him.

He was knocked down but not knocked out.

During this time his transcript read that he learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.

His testimony was that he could do all this through Christ who gave him strength. (2 Cor. 4:8-9; Phil 4:12-13).

Through Christ he had a 4.0 GPA! -SG