Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A Look At Submission And Divine Command Ethics

Two concepts are on my mind this morning.

'Divine Command Ethics' - God tells us to do this and not to do that as individuals like He instructed Israel as a nation.


What some groups refer to as ESS (The Eternal Subordination of the Son) which paints the Son as eternally submitting to the Father instead of just taking on the role of a servant for a time in the incarnation, then being exalted by the Father and returning to a co-equal role and sitting on the throne with Him.

I see great linkages between these two concepts. Are we submitting for a time so that redemption can happen in time and space or are we submitted forever?

Do we force submission on others?

What kind of submission is expected in marriage and family? How is our Church leadership structured? If you are a man how do you see and treat women?

Big questions aren't they?

Evolution or natural selection says the fittest will survive. The weak will eventually bow down to the strong. Religion forces submission by divine decree but what is spiritual?

"You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you." - Galatians 5:4-8 ESV

"And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, 'If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.' " - Mark 9:35 ESV

Freedom is an interesting thing. The Israelites faced a crisis when they left Eygpt. It was a freedom crisis. They didn't have anyone to tell them what to do anymore. They asked for rules and God gave them rules because they had no capacity to look at Him and be led in freedom. That generation died in the wilderness.

"When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, 'It is finished,' and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." - John 19:30 ESV

Jesus obeyed the rules for us. He won our salvation and as a last act of submission, He fell backwards into the arms of God trusting that His Father would raise Him up again. Now He sits at the right hand of God and all those who believe sit there also because they are hidden in His victory forever.

"And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.' Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you." - 1 Peter 5:4-7 ESV

We now have a capacity to willing humble ourselves also and not lose our dignity doing it. There is a crown waiting for all those who fall backwards into the arms of God in circumstances because Christ has finished the work of mandatory spiritual submission.


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Power Of Jesus' Life

At a 'face to face' service this weekend many statements were spoken that really touched me. One of them was (paraphrased)...

'By the power of His own life Christ raised the dead'

Another was...

'Jesus said, 'Lazarus come forth' and if He didn't call him by name everyone would have come out of their graves.'


There was power in this one laid down life. Jesus humbled Himself and God the Father exalted Him. He emptied Himself of the power and majesty He had before time began and became the very image of a servant and died in our place. Now God has raised Him up and He Is seated at God's right hand in the place of power.

Heroes. They do something with the life they have been given.

I can't raise the dead. Can you? But we can live covered by the life of Christ and walk in His power by faith. We can be heroes of faith.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Jesus Wept

Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem and He wept when He saw people mourning the death of His friend Lazarus. He wasn't weeping because of the circumstances. He was weeping because of the unbelief of the people. His compassion was, and is, Heavenly. God sees the present and future complications of unbelief and it saddens Him.

When we lose someone or our nation is suffering under oppression it saddens us but there is a deeper root issue. God can take us under His wing. Death is not the end for those who trust that Christ is the resurrection. Will we trust Him? God has joy if we trust Him because He can work in different comforting ways If we trust Him

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

He Knows Everyone

I am from NYC and many years ago I was visiting my family and in Manhattan with my bags ready to go back to Bible college. I had several hours before my bus so I decided to go to Times Square, get something to eat and pray for people as they walked by. I did this for about an hour but then I started to get overwhelmed. There were so many people. Hundreds. Thousands. I would look at one and try to take in something about them and pray but I had to stop. It was too much. It was far beyond my capacity. The waves just kept coming. I realized that growing up in a crowded place didn't prepare me for crowds like that. I had learned to tune them out not take them in to my heart.

I sat on that bus traveling back to college praising a God who knows every face and every story. I felt privileged to know Him and commune with Him. I feel that way again now as I sit here. No one is truly lost in the crowd. He sees them. We couldn't possibly see or remember everyone but He does.

Monday, October 22, 2018

He Brings The Party To Us

I really love this picture.

"Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants!" - Luke 12:35-38 ESV

Can we imagine God this way? Can we see him as a boss who just got married and is full of joy. At the same time can we see our lives like a person working the second or third shift on a job. He visits and brings the party to us and serves us because of a great overflow in His heart.

This is a 'boss' that comes and brings cake. The 'supervisor' must dread when He shows up at work because this 'boss' serves and tells stories and production comes to a halt until He leaves because He has everyone laughing and enjoying themselves when He is there. This is the one person the 'supervisor' has no power over because this is The King of kings and Lord of Lords.

It is Monday and perhaps the urge is to go sleep in back behind the barrels where no one can see us instead of being invested in our own lives. If we do that we will miss this joyous visitation.

God is the 'master' or 'boss' in this passage but it isn't picturing Him this way to emphasize His power to command us. This passage pictures Him that way because God is the one who has the power to bless us and affect our lives for good. He Is rich. He has the power to pause our work cycle. He has the authority to say, 'Celebrate with Me!'

I want to be the person, 'Waiting at the door' to celebrate what Jesus has done and share in His joy. He died on a cross so that He could take a wife. He reconciled humanity to God to bring humanity into His family with joy and fanfare.


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Looking To The House Of Obed-edom

I woke up this morning thinking about the concept of 'estrangement' and I began reading the Gospels and a conversation we had at coffee a few weeks ago came to mind. It brought me to 2 Samuel the sixth chapter.

"And David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the LORD, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. And David was angry because the LORD had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day. And David was afraid of the LORD that day, and he said, 'How can the ark of the LORD come to me?' So David was not willing to take the ark of the LORD into the city of David. But David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. And the ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the LORD blessed Obed-edom and all his household. And it was told King David, 'The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.' So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing." - 2 Samuel 6:5-12 ESV

Uzzah got killed because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. David tried to carry the Ark (representing the presence of God) back to Israel incorrectly on a new cart using oxen. The oxen stumbled and Uzzah put out his hand to steady the Ark and got killed.

This tragedy was David's fault. God told Israel how to carry the Ark but David was emotional and got carried away in the moment of zeal.

David was estranged from God for three months.

The correct way to carry the Ark was with two poles. The priests carried the Ark then set it down in the next place.

This brings a couple of things to mind. God wanted human feet touching the ground not wheels. He wanted the presence of God 'suspended in the air' and carried by many people. If one stumbled in would not matter because the others would assume the weight of it for that brief moment.

Secondly, God struck Uzzah down for touching the Ark but He didn't harm David for abandoning the Ark. God just blessed the house of Obed-edom until David noticed the blessing and it dissolved David's fear. David looked in the scripture and found the correct way to bear the presence of God and brought it home again.

I can relate strongly to this account today. That is just how things are in this season of my life.

"And it was told King David, 'The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.' So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing. And when those who bore the ark of the LORD had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal. And David danced before the LORD with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting and with the sound of the horn." - 2 Samuel 6:12-15 ESV

I see David in two states in this chapter. I see a David who turns his back respectfully on God and moves on not knowing how to proceed and I see dancing David. I have been both men but this morning I look at the house of Obed-edom and I ponder the blessing that dwells there. That is my blessing. The scriptures must guide my enthusiasm. It can't be all zeal. My zeal can dry up in a moment. I must look to God's ways.

"Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him." - Isaiah 30:18 ESV


Friday, October 12, 2018

Purchased For Freedom

One little phrase that occurs twice in the new testament in the same book. It reveals a reality that protects us from letting our own desires consume us and from other people claiming ownership over our bodies.

"Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." - 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 ESV

"Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men." - 1 Corinthians 7:20-23 ESV

'You were bought with a price.'

Jesus paid for you and me and each individual with His own precious blood. Our lives were very expensive.

If you were a slave to addictions before now you are a 'freedman' of the Lord. We can speak to the thing or person or desire and say, 'You don't own me. I belong to someone else.'

Maybe you don't desire that kind of coverage but it is the truest of coverings.

When peer pressure comes in we can say, 'I need to ask God first. He owns me.'

When the car salesman of lust lays on the pressure and says, 'You deserve to treat yourself. You have been under a lot of pressure lately.' and the offer looks tempting we can say, 'Sorry, I need to sleep on that and get back to you. There is someone at home I need to discuss this with first.'

'...if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity...'

It is a paradox, isn't it? What other owner says this? God is the only one who owns people to set them free.


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Absalom's Sister

Just thinking about Absalom today. If you don't know about this man it would be good to read the accounts of Him in the scripture. He was King David's son. He rebelled against his father. Absalom's sister Tamar was raped by his older brother (from a different mother) Amnon. When no one did anything about the rape Absalom had his brother killed at a party that all of David's heirs attended. The news spread quickly but inaccurately to King David's ears that Absalom had killed all his other sons. It wasn't true but it must have wounded the king deeply. That was the method used to take power in those days. It must have looked for a moment like Absalom was power hungry and ruthless.

I don't know why I'm thinking of this today. Maybe because of all the talk lately of Joseph being falsely accused of rape. Joseph was innocent and it was wrong that he went to prison but it was also wrong that Ammon was almost able to get away with what he did and still be first in line to the throne. That scenario happens so much more often.

Absalom named his daughter Tamar that is how much He loved his dear sister.

I love my sisters also. I try to think of all women that way. They are my sisters. Don't hurt them. Don't use them or play with them or terrorize them.

My Savior is the Prince of Peace and murder isn't the answer. Holiness is the answer. That is only going to come in if people are introduced to a holy God.


Monday, October 8, 2018


"Someone in the crowd said to him, 'Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.' But he said to him, 'Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?' And he said to them, 'Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.' " - Luke 12:13-15 ESV

Interesting. Was Jesus speaking about who He was in the incarnation or was He speaking about God's role in our interactions and transactions with each other? I believe both are true.

This man came to Jesus asking Him to act and make a ruling about an injustice but God didn't act. He made the person who approached Him mindful of his own heart condition.

Perhaps we might say, 'If we have this great relationship why won't you act on my on my behalf when I am in need or treated unjustly?' Earthly friends are 'there for you' when you need them.

If you begin to catalogue God's promises to believers they are mostly about access, not action. He promises unbelievers, nations and fallen angels to act but to those He knows He promises access.

People often pull promises out of a hat and claim that they mean something they don't. Like this one:

"Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known." - Jeremiah 33:3 ESV

They (we) claim the first part of this passage and say, 'Look God will act on my behalf!' but ignore the second part. Doesn't this whole passage describe what Jesus did for those two brothers? God injected divine viewpoint into that argument that was causing a breakdown. That family suddenly had a different option because one of it's members sought out the Lord.

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you." - 1 Peter 5:6-10 ESV


Now that is an action promise. If we use our access and heed His heart condition advice God will 'exalt us' in time because grace will have done a work in us.


Friday, October 5, 2018

Leah's Children And Everyone Else

I firmly believe there are 12 different kinds of people. 4 aspects of humanity that have different variations. I don't think of this very much nor do I categorize different individuals and give them labels. I do however review this idea from time to time because I think it is good to keep in mind that although mankind has shared needs they also have different ways of processing their experiences.

These 12 types of people are characterized by Jacob's 12 children that became (in one form or another) the 12 Hebrew tribes. The family of Messiah was a family that represented all of humanity.

This morning I was looking at the uneven distribution of children in Jacob's family.
- Leah has 6 sons and 1 daughter.
- Zilpah had 2 sons, Bilah had 2 sons and Rachael had 2 sons.
So 6 tribes came from one mother and the other 6 were split between 3 mothers.

In my mind even though there are 12 types of people out there things are not broken out evenly. The majority of Jacob's sons came from Leah and the Bible describes her as a plump, happy and kind of passive baby making kind of person. She wasn't strikingly beautiful. She got a little competitive with her sister Rachael for a season but for the most part, she was a Godly content person and she wasn't out to change the world. The world is filled with Leahs and most of humanity is also. Messiah came from her line. Jesus is descended from Leah.

But then there are the other 6 children they are different. They have the same needs but they have different mothers. They are minorities in the way they think and relate. Every one of us is unique and special but we all know people that are just out there don't we? They are just coming at things from a different direction.

Why am I talking about this? Maybe just because I want to remind myself that we all have different perspectives. Jesus held the title, 'Son of Man' because he represented all of humanity fully. People who study personalities are baffled by the accounts of Him because He manifests the aspects of each known personality type. He was a unique sinless man. He was the second Adam and all of the genetics of all mankind came from the first one. He was the 'finger of God'. God himself taking on human form like a person who puts his finger into a glass of water. That finger enters that realm and God entered our realm of time and space in His incarnation.

We each are 1 of those 12 variants but in Christ each one of us can minister to all 12. He can minister through us. No matter how different or the same we are He Is our common ground. He levels the playing field even if it seems like there is an overwhelming weight on one side slanting everything one way.


Thursday, October 4, 2018

Clean And Ready To Play

As I was getting ready this morning I walking by my clarinet and got sense of joy just looking at it. It was clean and ready to play as it sat there in it's stand. I am not very good but I enjoy making music. It is a form of praise I have only experienced later in life.

I clean this instrument after I play it. That is why it is ready to be played at any moment. I don't practice unless I know I have time to clean it afterwards. It made me think of God's relationship to His 'instruments'. They are always clean. They stay clean as He makes music with them. His hands don't leave grimy prints.

I want to be clean and ready for use. He assures me that I am clean but my feet often need cleansing and that cleansing happens by making myself available for use.

Do you know that you are irreplaceable? No one can make the music that God wants to use you to make. You are precious. It brings God joy when ever He sees you.

The Second Son

Yesterday I was thinking a lot about 'the birthright' given to the first born son and God's tendency in the Hebrew scriptures to have the blessing fall on the second son instead. The firstborn had responsibilities. Older people tend to be responsible for younger ones. That blessing was a provision to bear that burden. That is right. It is natural. It is important for society.
God's blessing on the second son is supernatural. It is a blessing for a person who isn't responsible. In our new identity in Christ we are this second son. Jesus was the second Adam. We are blessed in grace and by grace. I often struggle with my responsibilities. It is a joy to put on Jesus Christ. We are blessed in Him. In Him we can do 'all things' because He has finished the work of salvation.

Maybe you have heavy things to carry today. Can you stop for a moment and put on Jesus Christ? He wants to bear your burden. He wants to carry your worries and fears and and free you to do what needs to be done.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Sent Two By Two

"And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits." Mark 6:7 ESV

What does this passage say to you? I woke up thinking about this. I think that evangelism works this way today also. It is God pairing together two or more people, sometimes strangers or people who have little in common, and sending them out So that they can bring people back to Him after a witness of power on those two people's lives.

This isn't about me being a nice person at work. That's fine but it isn't necessarily evangelism. I see a structure. I see people going out that have a place... a place where a person is manifested... to bring people home to.

I have seen people leave the structure that allows them to evangelize and then that aspect of their life drys up. I have seasons like that. Let's face it not everyone has the make up to disciple people in faith one on one. Most people need a group or at least the support of a group. I was always taught that winning someone and then leaving them undiscipled is paramount to abandoning a child. You just don't do it and I see the logic of that. A person who believes in Jesus has become new. They have a new identity and they need someone as a guide or it would be very easy to get lost in the woods.

I'm very glad God used a group of people to come and get me. That imperfect team had the power of love. I saw that love and that imperfection. It was a group that could live as imperfect people made perfect in a thinking atmosphere of grace and truth. I go because that group went and I don't have to be perfect to do it. I do however need a place to bring people home to where they can meet Jesus.

I'm not saying that 'place' needs to have a name over the door and a cross on the wall but how else does this 'two by two' dynamic happen? What does that passage say to you? Can you afford to tear it out of your Bible or write it off as being written to some other group of people? There was a power placed on those two people. If we live outside that structure isn't it right to say that we might also be living without that power?


Monday, October 1, 2018

A Time Of Fellowship With Someone In Revival

I spoke to a very amazing woman yesterday who is having a 'prayer revival' right now and it was a real blessing. God gave me a word for her about angels being worshipers and how we become worshipers when we see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ and I just felt humbled that God would use me that way. She is a spiritual giant in my eyes and I kind of marvel at what is happening in her life. It challenges me. She has great hardships, great difficulties and great faith.

"Rejoice always,
Pray without ceasing,
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Do not quench the Spirit.
Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.
Abstain from every form of evil." - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 ESV

This isn't something that can be manufactured. This isn't 'being good.' This is God manifesting Himself through us.

The Bible provides an entrance into this life but there is a person who greats us at the door and ushers us into His home.

When I was fellowshipping with this woman I felt like it was Christmas night and I was out in the dark cold following her into a warm bright home. The light was shining on her as God opened the door for her to enter and I got to walk in behind her. I was still somewhat in the dark and she was shining with light from the doorway. The smells of dinner and Christmas cookies were in the air. The lights were twinkling inside. The festive music was playing and there was a warm spot on the couch waiting just for me. The host was greeting me warmly. I am special to Him but He opened the door for her. She was in front of me. He heard her knock.

God is listening for our knock on His door. Yes, He comes to find us like a shepherd finds a lost sheep. There is this dual dynamic happening. God seeks us first and then we seek Him and others get ushered into His warm festive home as family members.


P.S. Here is a piece of what God gave me to give to her as she was ministering to me...

{I've been reading and thinking about the 'spirituals' that slaves in United States used to sing and the encoded messages in them used to help guide runaway slaves. If the group sang 'Wade in the Water' it was sending the message that the people chasing the runaway had dogs and to get in the river or stream to mask the scent and throw off the dogs. They would sing a series of songs and if one song was sung twice it meant the coast was clear but if they sang a new song it meant there was danger.

Imagine singing to God... singing with all your heart in worship but also singing knowing the message you were sending in the song might mean life or death for someone who just wanted to be free.

The angels are worshippers. I wonder if they get cues about moving or holding back based on our worship. God desires that people would worship Him in spirit and in truth. That kind of worship is Spirit (capital S) led worship. The Trinity is present in the worship of a person who worships God because the glory of God has been revealed in the face of Jesus Christ.

Maybe... just maybe... when our worry turns to worship it signals the next phase of God's plan to bring us or someone else from bondage in to freedom.}