Saturday, July 12, 2014

Denying His Power

For the past semester I have been soaking myself in the book of Acts. From the very first verse I have been left in awe of truly how incredible God is in revealing Himself through His church.

In fact, one of my favorite verses is 1:8 where the Lord Jesus told His disciples, "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit  has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."

Him sending these men out to be His witnesses all over the world is the second command written in this book and it contains something that I have thus far missed for most of my life.

I have always read over it and haven't given it much consideration, but there are two things here in this verse that Jesus says His disciples will receive:
  1. Power
  2. Holy Spirit
We not only gain His very presence, but also His power...

What does this mean? Well...for many of us, it obviously means that it's not for today.

Now, I say that jokingly, but in one sense it is very true. There is a huge sect of Christianity that says any type of miraculous power cannot be from God. They immediately think of the sign gifts and claim their cessation.

Please here me out, because I do not disagree. I believe that the majority of the "sign" gifts held a very important role in the early church in confirming the authority of the apostles and the word in which they were bringing to the world, but the world hasn't been reached yet.

What if there are still people out there that need to see some confirmation before believing? The opposer will claim, "They shouldn't need confirmation! They should just believe and trust in Christ. For even Jesus said, 'blessed are the ones who have not seen yet have believed.'"

This is very true and highly Biblical, yet when we come to Scripture we always want to give God's Word functional authority in our speech and writing. Thus, as a result, if we were to base Scripture on this argument, then that very statement would have been true 2,000 years ago to the Jewish people.

The argument made by the opposer is basically saying that there was absolutely never a need for sign gifts in the first place because they should just believe and trust in Christ.

I am not saying that I believe in every charismatic and pentecostal movement. I am saying that I will never limit the Almighty Creator of the universe. He chose to work signs and wonders through Moses when dealing with Pharaoh and leading the nation of Israel out of bondage.

The Spirit manifested Himself in the prophets and apostles for a purpose. That purpose was to glorify God as Supreme Authority by revealing to fallen man that this God is alive and well and is in control of all human affairs.

Even Judas, the betrayer who is now suffering the torments of Hell, was granted power and authority over demons and given the capability to heal diseases (Luke 9). The disciples never told Jesus, "I don't need Your power...I am just thankful that You are with me." They obeyed and received.

Why is it that we are content only with His presence? God gave us two things. He gave us His Holy Spirit. The Spirit of truth and Life and the One who will guide us into all truth and understanding of the deep things of God. This same Spirit intercedes for us on a daily basis and has been for all of eternity. He has been waiting for you to be born again so that He can come into you and dwell within your soul in full and everlasting fellowship. He desires to not only be with you in your midst, but also to give you power beyond your wildest dreams.

This same God who made the universe in all its splendor is somehow living fully inside of us. His desire is to always reveal His power and authority. He is overjoyed to exercise His divine glory, yet too often we say no thanks. I don't believe that You are as powerful as You say You are. I especially don't believe that You would use such an insignificant pawn as myself in advancing Your kingdom.

When I pray for miracles, I add "if it be Your will" onto the end of every prayer because I don't actually believe You can do it.

I am not pointing fingers. I am hurting. Have I ever performed miracles? No, but everything I have written I have written to myself. I am the man that prays with distrust. I am the man that doesn't actually believe God is big enough to work wonders such as He did in the Scriptures.

Jesus said in John 14:13 "And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask Me for anything in my name, and I will do it." I just wonder if sometimes we are missing out on the blessings that God desires to work in and through us.

When Peter walked on water he took his eyes off of Jesus and placed them on his surroundings. Jesus, after pulling him up and getting back in the boat said, "you of little faith." He walked on water for at least a couple of feet and he has "little faith?" How much smaller is mine?

After Jesus had fed the four thousand in Mark 8, the pharisees came out and began to argue with Him. He rebuked them and told His disciples to "Beware of the leaven of the pharisees..." (Mark 8:15). The disciples did not understand what He meant and thought He was referring to bread. Jesus, knowing they didn't understand, asked them if they were hardened at heart?

So ask yourself these questions. Are we as believers content with His presence but appalled with His power? Is our desire only that He would be our friend (presence) and not our God (power)?

Do I lack faith? Is my heart hard? Yes, Lord I need You! You promised me these two things. Your presence and Your power are mine for the taking. Help me, God. Manifest the Spirit of Christ in my life. Allow me to see Your glory and Your power. Create in me a spirit of humility and rest Your Spirit of power upon me. Cause me to walk in the footsteps of the Lord and make my path straight. Mold me into a man that believes You and takes You at Your Word...personally. I love You, God and I am Yours for the taking. Bless me and have Your way in my life. Amen.

What is their fate?

Will those who have never heard the Gospel spend an eternity in Hell because they have never heard the name of Jesus Christ?
The question is...what about those who have never heard the name of Christ? What is their fate? Where will they spend eternity? Will God have mercy upon them since they have never heard of His Son?

Almost two billion people all across the globe have never heard His name. No one has ever told them of His coming to earth and dying for all of mankind. These people have no knowledge of the blood that was shed and the grave that was left.

So what would you say to someone who asked you about their fate?

This is a legitimate question to have, however it is the wrong question?

No one will ever go to Hell because they have failed to hear of the name of Christ. They will go to Hell because they have transgressed the Law of God by breaking His righteous commandments.

These people are not innocent. They are guilty, just as you and I are apart from Christ. They are covetous, idolaters, drunkards, evil thinkers, malicious gossips, fornicators and adulterers, thieves, liars, etc.

They are without God, just as some of us were...

However, something is happening. Can you see it?

In my parents' generation alone there were over four thousand unreached people groups and now there are just under two thousand. Over half of them were knocked out of the park by one generation.

I believe God is bringing in the finale for all to see. This could very well be the last generation that will ever again, for all of eternity, have the privilege of joining in on the family business in taking Christ to the ends of the earth.

Is it possible that we are the forerunners of the long-awaited Messiah? If one generation before us accomplished over half of the work, imagine what God can do in our generation on the mission frontier!

Therefore, the fate of them as of now may be unreached, but God is on the move. Their fate is in His hands.

Come, LORD Jesus, come!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Is Samson Goliath's Dad?

Bear in mind...this is all speculation. Scripture does not support this idea, however, it does not debunk it either, which makes it fun to think about.

So how awesome would it be if Samson was actually the father of Goliath?

Samson was a man that was chosen of by the LORD before he was born (Judges 13:2-5). The LORD made a promise concerning Samson by telling his parents that he would begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines (Judges 13:5). The LORD blessed him and the Spirit of God began to stir him (Judges 13:24-25).

He had an attraction towards Philistine women (Judges 14:1-4). He also, by eating honey from the inside of a dead lion's carcass, didn't show really any regard for the Jewish clean and unclean Laws that God had established for His people (Judges 14:5-9).

He went to Gaza and found a harlot and he lay with her (Judges 16:1). He then set his sights upon a Philistine woman named Delilah (Judges 16:4).

After being persuaded by money, Delilah, on a daily basis began insisting that Samson tell her how he may be bound. I am not sure what he was thinking, but after continual annoyance, he told her everything.

His hair was cut, his strength was gone, and the Spirit of God had departed from him. Once bound, he could no longer break free. The Philistines finally had him chained and they forced him into different forms of slavery.

His eyes had been gauged out and one day as he was to entertain the people, he rested himself against two pillars. He prayed to the LORD and the Spirit of God came upon him one last time in order that he may die with the Philistines. He killed more people on this day than he did in his entire life (Judges 16:30).

According to Old Testament history and dating these events appropriately given the timing for other major events in Scripture, Samson was born in 1110 B.C. and he died in 1070 B.C.

We know that Goliath was a Philistine. Other than that, we are not given any information apart from the fact that he was from Gath. He was incredibly strong, bigger than the rest, and referred to as "the Champion of the Philistines" (1 Samuel 17).

David was around seventeen years of age when he defeated Goliath. Goliath's death happened in 1024 B.C. This is only forty-six years after the death of Samson.

We are never told if Samson ever journeyed to Gath (less than thirty miles from Gaza), however, since he had a high attraction for Philistine women and most likely played the harlot with many that are not mentioned in Scripture, what if Samson found a harlot just a few years before his death and she became pregnant with a mighty man who takes after his father?

If we  had a fuller perspective into Samson's life, I am confident that we would find more and more of his lack-of-morale type lifestyle. Especially in these idolatrous nations, prostitutes were easy to find and if there is one area in Samson's life that he is weak in it is his sexual desires.

Wouldn't it be insane if God used the sin of Samson to raise up a giant in order that eventually He may raise up David, the humble king of Israel!?

This certainly would add a twist on things.

Again, this is speculation, however, if this is true, then it would make perfect since to say during the battle of David and Goliath, David was about seventeen and Goliath was around age forty-seven or so.

God said that Samson would begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines (Judges 13:5). Imagine if God's plan was to raise up a giant among their race in order to crush him by using David. Thus David would finish the delivering of Israel from the Philistines.

If Joshua can lead the Israelite army into full-fledged battle against the Canaanites when he is almost a hundred years old, then I see no problem with saying that Goliath was a champion and went into war with David at about age forty-seven.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Prayers of the Sleeper

"For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another." - Romans 12:4
In the verse above, the apostle Paul makes a connection between the spiritual body of Christ and our natural human body. But let me ask you...what does this mean?

When we think about our human body, what comes to mind? Two arms, two legs, thirty-two teeth, eight fingers and two thumbs, bones and ligaments, muscles and joints, etc. All of these things are true, but what else is true?

The human body is so complex, that if a piece of it becomes damaged, the infected area will send nerve signals to the brain and then at an almost instant reaction, white blood-cells will soar to the rescue.

So I pose the question...if the natural body is even more complex than we could ever imagine, then is it possible that the same is even more true for the spiritual body?

This past Sunday morning I awoke from a dream. In my dream I was told that there was a young man named Mike who was considering attending a Bible school this coming Fall semester. I can still visualize him in my mind.

I do not know him. I have never seen this man before, yet somehow I felt a very strong, deep, and powerful connection between the two of us.

I went up to him and placed my left hand firmly upon his right shoulder. My goal was to encourage him in this decision and to pray for him...and that is exactly what I did.

But can I say something crazy?

I prayed as if I was fully awake and refreshed. I had freedom in what I said. Nothing I did seemed forced upon by a dream, but it all seemed like it was happening in real time.

So here are the questions:

Is it possible that there is a fellow named Mike who is considering attending a Bible school this coming Fall semester, and would it have been possible that I was blessed with the opportunity to pray for him even as I slept?

Is it possible, that in the same way nerve cells rush through the human body with an SOS message to the brain requesting reinforcements, that this was a type of nerve rush through the spiritual body of Christ?

Is it possible that God somehow flipped a trigger switch in my brain in allowing and prompting me to pray for a fellow brother in the Lord Jesus Christ whom I have never met?

I am not dogmatically saying this is real, I am just wondering if there is a deeper connection in the spiritual body than we have ever before realized? The truth is, this has happened to me before. And whether this was just a dream or in fact a God-ordained divine appointment, to God be the glory!

This is the prayer of the sleeper.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Constant in Prayer

"They all joined together constantly in prayer." - Acts 1:14
The book of Acts begins by informing the reader what amazing gift has been granted to every believer. As you may know from the previous two blogs, this gift and/or empowerment is the Holy Spirit Himself.

We have been covered inside and out by the fullness of God. Notice that as soon as the writer tells you what you have inherited, he then moves on into revealing to us what godliness looks like. In fact, as I have been studying this book, I have found it to be a guide in how I am living my daily life.

Godly Attribute #1: Continually devoting yourself to prayer! - Acts 1:14 The book of Acts contains characteristics of a godly man and I find it exciting that the very first one begins with prayer! This is not a coincidence, but prayer is the centerpiece from which everything else follows. If you want to follow God, then follow Him on your knees and seek Him in prayer and I guarantee He will meet you there!

The truth is, God is already there. He is waiting on you to join Him. His desire for each one of us is that we grow into a mature adult son who is seeking and depending upon Him every moment of every day.

So let me ask you, how constant are you in prayer? Do you pray unceasingly? Would you say that you pray in the Spirit on all occasions? 1 Thess. 5:17; Eph. 6:18

If not, then what is holding you back? What in your life is keeping you from spending time in prayer?

Prayer is the connection with God that our souls need above all other things. It grows us in our fellowship with God. It deepens our love for Him. It strengthens our faith and it causes us to depend and to cling upon the Almighty.

Challenge: Take time to pray today. Refuse to let anything distract you. Remember, no one expects anyone to just jump in the first day and pray for hours. Start out small, but by all means start now. Set your prayer life up now in order to guarantee a much better future.

The Receiving of Power

"It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." - Acts 1:7-8
Just as the disciples, often times I find myself being more focused on the events in Revelation instead of the person of Revelation (i.e. Jesus Christ).

Has this ever happened to you?

When I was in high school I went through a phase of thinking that Jesus was coming very soon. Therefore, I didn't need to worry about key responsibilities such as getting a job, doing my very best on all of my assignments, planning for college, etc.

I know this is a bad way of thinking, but at the time I was so "certain" that Jesus was coming back any day now. The problem with how I was taking this was that I was being unfaithful in the tasks that God had placed under my supervision. I wasn't trusting Him by faithfully setting up for myself a better future. Instead, I was consumed with the present circumstances and had hoped that God would remove me from the trouble I was causing.

We do not know when the Son of man will return and still many of us not only continue to worry about this, but we also seem to even be asking the wrong questions. You see, when the disciples asked if Christ was about to restore the kingdom to Israel, it wasn't knowledge that He sought to give them, but it was power. It was His presence. They, like us, had it backwards.

I find that many times I am coming to the Lord for knowledge instead of His presence. From this verse, however, what is Christ more willing to give? Jesus gives to each one of us exactly what is needed, and that is Himself.

Even if we were to somehow obtain all knowledge, it would be in vanity if we were to never experience His presence. We would be acquiring a fools reward. Sure, we would know something on an intellectual level, but Jesus Christ is not a systematic theology book in which you can study. He is a person that you can know, and in His presence is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore!

Do you believe that?

Our job is not to worry when the events of Revelation will occur. We simply need to get moving. The Great Commission has not been fulfilled because Christ has not returned. Therefore, I urge you brethren, by the power of God, shine your light so that all may see.

You are plugged into the Most High God and He has given you power from heaven to be His witness wherever He has planted you. It is time to take your stand. The full power of God resides in the God in you. Don't waste it.

The Holy Spirit indwells us so that we may have power to do the impossible. What is this power? Well, in six days God created the universe... I would say that He is pretty powerful. This verse testifies to the fact that we have been empowered by God in order that we may accomplish His work in expanding the reach of the Gospel.

Yes, America is a mission field, but we cannot stay here. There are two-thousand unreached people groups that have never heard the Gospel message. Jerusalem, done. Judea, done. Samaria, done. America, done. Ends of the earth, not done.

Challenge: Prayerfully begin seeking opportunities to reach beyond the seas, whether by going and/or sending. Use the power of God. He gave it to you for a reason, and that is to change the world.

Father in heaven, all glory belongs to You.
We give You praise because we know You, however, there are many that haven't a clue.
We will experience life, while they will experience death.
God, if we don't do something now, then billions of people in our generation will never understand Your glorious grace.
They will never know that they had a Savior all along and they will never be capable of tasting the power that we as Your children have been granted.
Dad, take our lives and use us for Your glory.
Lord, set us on fire and make us to be as burning lamps in this world of darkness.
We know that there is a day coming when every tribe, tongue, and nation will be worshipping around the throne and we pray that we wouldn't miss out on this.
Teach us, O God, to exercise our full potential in Christ every single day and in every single way.
We love You, and our desire is that they would too.
Remove our comfort zones and ignite a fire in our bones.
Push us into action and move us on the forefront.
We are Your vessels.
Do with us as You please.
In the name of Christ we pray, amen.

Spirit Baptism

"For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." - Acts 1:5
Jesus knew that John's baptism was only a sign and a single event in a persons life. A sign is good, but what's the use of a well designed sign in a room with no lights? God knew that a sign alone wouldn't do the He gave us Himself.

Being a billboard for Christ is not enough. God wanted His name in lights. However, in order to light up the sky we needed power to do so. Therefore, God plugged us in to His divinity and set us on fire.

As believers, we have been baptized with the Holy Spirit. This means that the God of the universe has completely and overwhelmingly drowned us in Himself. We have been immersed in God and are swimming deep within the oceans of His infinite being.

But I want to ask you a question. Are you taking this Spirit baptism for granted?

You see, unlike water that will eventually dry off, the Spirit is the constant river of life. In Him there are no seasons of drought. This is not only a one time occurrence, but it is a continual immersion in which you cannot get out of.

It is as if God has placed us in an ocean that has neither shore nor surface. Does this seem impossible? With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible!

A house cannot hold Him, yet the fullness of deity dwells in our hearts and minds? I will not try and act like I have this figured out, but what an amazing truth. God not only has come and made His dwelling among us, but He empowers us each and every day to do His will by walking in humble submission which is faithful obedience.

Seeing now that we have been baptized with His Spirit of Holiness, let us seek earnestly to be led and controlled only by Him.

God, You have poured out Your Spirit upon me.
You have allowed me to partake of Your divine nature.
You have baptized me in Your Holy Spirit and You have given me the very power of heaven.
May I never take this for granted, but may I learn from this.
Lord, help me! O God, teach me!
Keep me and cause me to walk according to Your Spirit.
Make me a man of faithfulness and show me Your glory.
Set me on fire, O God, and burn brightly that all may see Your face.
In Christ's name, amen.

When Missions Becomes Slavery

If you are not sharing the Gospel with people here, then why will that change if you go into overseas missions?" - Unknown
When I first heard this quote I thought it was spot on. When I would here it I would say amen. As a good Bible school student, I would share it with friends as we stayed up all night long talking over theology only to struggle staying awake a few hours later in class.

However, not even a week before leaving for Bible school, I had an opportunity to sit down with my pastor. I expressed to him how involved I was looking to be within the community and how much I wanted to do for the Lord. But do you know what he told me?

"Rest." This was his one word. He went on to elaborate and told me to just take the next two years to soak in the Lord Jesus Christ. He wanted me not to be as Martha was, but as Mary. He asked me to just be willing to take this time in order to sit at the feet of Jesus and hear His voice.

I grew up in an atmosphere that was at a constant do, do, do! I felt I always needed to be rushing and working and serving the Lord by repeating the Gospel message to an unsaved individual every second of my life. So as you can imagine, this concept of "rest" was staggering to me.

This was probably the best thing that I could have heard at that moment in time and so I began Bible school with that idea in mind. Well, as you probably guessed, it wasn't too long before I first heard that quote. Like I said earlier, I thought it was great at first. It was convicting and that is what we like in this culture.

So I began going out all over Waukesha looking for people I could lead to the Lord. Before too long, though, I became exhausted. I became so busy, that my personal time with God began sinking. I burnt out very quickly, but I still kept hearing that quote.

It started to become very unsettling to me. It only brought me discomfort and a serious case of joylessness. This is how missions became slavery in my life because I felt as if I was never doing enough.

So I prayed. I studied. And thanks be to the God of all comfort and to His Spirit who guides us into all truth concerning the "rest" that His glorious Son brings to mankind.

God led me back to that concept. You know, the one where Jesus says, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." - Matthew 11:28-30

I began treasuring up that idea in my heart and the Lord continued to confirm to me that my two-year Bible education was not to be one of constant tiresome work, but instead it was to be filled with the joys of seeing and savoring Christ.

Now this may sound fine and dandy to some, but others may be wondering if there is any Scriptural support for this. There is actually an abundance of Biblical examples, but for the sake of time we will only look at two.

What did Jesus do first? Did He Prepare or Perform?

Jesus began His public ministry at about age thirty (Luke 3:23). Before this time, what did He do for thirty years? Was He constantly witnessing and sharing the Gospel to people or was He preparing Himself for the ministry that God would place Him into at just the appropriate time?

There isn't much written about His childhood, but there was an event where He became separated from His parents and sat in the temple listening and asking questions to the religious leaders. In this instance Jesus was being the light of the Gospel and God will bring all of His children into experiences like this every now and then where we can share the truth, but I am curious as to whether or not this was a reflection of His entire life or if this was just a God-ordained moment?

I have reason to believe that this was not a common thing for our Savior before He began His public ministry. I don't believe He was sharing the Gospel a whole bunch while growing up. Why do I say this? I say this because He is the Gospel and as He was going through His three-year ministry teaching and proclaiming Himself to be the very source of life, it seems as if the Jews, even in His hometown, have never heard this before (John 6:41-42; Matthew 13:55).

Jesus Christ spent about thirty years of His life not persuading others, but preparing Himself for when the time would come that the Father would see fit to raise up His Son into the ministry.

Likewise, Paul spent about three years in the desert of Arabia immediately after getting saved. Not a lot of people live in deserts and this guy was drenched in pharisaism and keeping to the letter of the Law that he needed a break. He had been misunderstanding the Old Testament Law for so long and had missed everything about Jesus.

Upon his conversion he needed time to refocus his mind and to turn his heart towards the true God. I feel that often times we forget that no one just gets saved and jumps straight into ministry. Paul actually warned against that (1 Timothy 3:6). It takes time and preparation to become effective in advancing the Kingdom.

Yes, there is an urgency in the world and people are dying...but God's not sweating! He has got it all under control and it is in His hand.

If we say we want to be missionaries, but we don't share the Gospel everyday...well, neither did our Savior nor even Paul. People are different. They share Christ in different ways. If we were all evangelists, then there would be no diversity.

God is working to equip His children for an exciting work. For some, it takes longer than others. For some, it takes them going to a different culture. Caitlin and I are going to Papua New Guinea. There are tribes in this country that have been requesting a missionary for well over twenty years...but there is no one to go.

It is not this way for every culture, but for this culture specifically, they will be asking us (the missionaries) who God is because they know that is why we are there. Otherwise, they will wonder why we have come to live among them in their tribe if we are not there to tell them God's talk.

In conclusion, I don't believe this quote is accurate, but I do believe that preparation is a good thing and that when you fall in love with Jesus, He will just naturally come out in your conversations with people. Please don't make missions a burden...make it a joy and a privilege. I made it into a type of bondage and slavery by performing out of conviction instead of love.

That is the reason for writing this blog in order that we all may know that "rest" is a good thing and that preparation for future ministry is a powerful tool in the hands of God. Sometimes you are just not ready to perform and that is why you need time for preparation.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Who Belongs in the Faith Chapter?

For years I have wrestled with this question. I have spent countless hours and have asked myself hundreds of questions as to why certain ones are mentioned in Hebrews 11 as having great faith and others are left out. And probably the biggest question I have ever posed is "why is Samson mentioned in this chapter?" On the flip side why are men like Solomon and Jeroboam left out of this section?

I believe the answer to these thought provoking questions lies within the pages of Scripture and by the end of this blog I hope to present to you the answer that I suppose to be the truth of God's Word concerning this passage.

I will be honest, ultimately I cannot dogmatically argue why certain men are not mentioned because that would be an argument from silence, but this is the belief that I have come to accept and I desire to share that with you at this time.

There are sixteen people mentioned by name in this chapter and many who remain unnamed, but what do they have in common? The spiritual answer is that they had faith and believed God, but what does that mean? I encourage you to check out the whole chapter for yourself, but here are a few:
"By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks." - Heb. 11:4
"By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God." - Heb. 11:5 
"By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith." - Heb. 11:7 
Did you see it?

All of the men and women in this chapter have at least one of two things in common: Each one of them obtained a testimony and a witness among men for their faith in God. Several of them were also involved in a great rescue mission in hopes to either save God's people or to point them towards Jehovah.

Abel obtained a testimony of righteousness that is still speaking to this very day. Enoch obtained a witness of righteousness amongst a sin-cursed world even while there were Nephilim walking the earth. Noah was a preacher of righteousness for 120 years and was used by God to save the human race (2 Pet. 2:5).

James says in 2:17 that "faith, if it has no works, is dead." Is it not true that God wants us to shine like stars in the universe? His desire is that the world would see us as different. His craving is for us to obtain a testimony of righteousness which is according to faith, and if we do, then He will reward us for our faithfulness.

But I pose the question, "Why is Samson in this chapter?" This is the man that was always sleeping around. It is like he had no convictions whatsoever and if he did, then it seems to say that he didn't care. One of my teachers at Bible school called him "a moral retard!" Especially sense Delilah, the last girl he was with, kept asking him how he could be made weak so that she could allow the Philistines to seize him.

It doesn't seem like Samson ever really had a "great faith" moment because it wasn't until the very last day of his life in which he really believed God for the incredible. On the flip side why is Solomon not mentioned here?

I find it interesting that the one who wasted most of his life (Samson) is mentioned as having great faith, yet the other (Solomon) who spent over twenty years of his life serving the Lord is not mentioned.

We all know of Solomon's downfall and how he forsook the one true God for the latter half of his life, but he was walking with the Lord for over twenty years to start. It seems like this would count for something right?

Imagine two men both living fifty years. One serves God for 49 years and then for the last year of his life he completely rejects God and everything to do with Him. The other lives in complete rebellion for 49 years and the last year he feels the conviction upon His heart and begins to walk faithfully for the remainder of the year. They both die and then stand before the Lord.

Who receives a greater reward? In our perception, we would say the first guy because 49 years of faithfulness is a long time compared to the other guy's one year. But is this how God sees it? The apostle Paul believed that even him and the apostles could risk losing everything they had worked for in terms of reward (1 Cor. 9:27).

Even at the end of Solomon's life, after he turned back to the Lord when he realized that everything he was searching for was vanity apart from God, he wrote a most incredible book that has impacted lives in each generation since then.

So why is he forgotten?

I believe that both Solomon and Jeroboam are saved individuals. I hold strong ground in believing that I will see them both one day worshiping the God of heaven, yet I propose this theory. Take it lightly and hold it up to the scrutiny of Scripture. If it does not fit, then don't believe it.

For about the first twenty years of Solomon's reign as King of Israel he faithfully served the Lord. God granted him peace throughout his entire life and made him the wealthiest king alive. He extended his borders and built great temples, monuments, houses, and lands.

Towards the middle of his reign he became bored. He began the slow fade of taking matters into his own hands and slowly his dependence upon God was dieing out. He made and established covenants with Gentile nations by marrying their daughters in order to better secure his peace with these other nations.

These women that he married were from idolatrous people. They led him astray and he had built for them temples in order that they may serve their own gods. Solomon committed acts of idolatry by worshiping these false gods and even sacrificing human babies to the god Molech.

Solomon turned the entire nation around from worshiping God to bowing down to idols. I am asking you that as you look at the story of his life, does him turning away from God an entire nation exhibit faith? No.

Not only did he lead Israel into idolatry, but he became darkness for the Gentile nations so that they would not see the light.

Jeroboam did the same. After Solomon died, his son Rehoboam did not exercise wisdom in the slightest. God gave Jeroboam ten of the twelve tribes of Israel and allowed Rehoboam to keep two, however, it was very clear that these ten tribes would not be Jeroboam's forever, nor would his line remain on the throne.

Because of this, Jeroboam became obsessed with his power. He didn't ever want to lose his grasp on these tribes so he concocted a plan that would lead the nation further into idolatry so that they would never return to the line of David.

He made two golden calves, one was set in Bethel, and the other in Dan. He told the nation not to go to Jerusalem to worship God, but to worship these instead. Does this sound like faith to you?

The two men above did not help people. Instead, they ruined millions of lives and caused sin to run through generation after generation. Yes, Solomon eventually turned back to God and wrote a convicting book, but the damage was already done. He led God's people astray.

Solomon and Jeroboam did not receive a testimony of faith among men nor did they seek to progress the faith of others by becoming burden lifters. They lived their lives as dead weight.

Samson is mentioned here because at the last minute he didn't destroy the lives of God's people, instead he saved them. By killing the Philistines he exercised divine judgment from the hand of God in removing the nuisance that this idolatrous nation kept having upon the people of Israel. Samson was finally willing to let God work.

The faith chapter is not about's about God. He is faithful and He is doing a work in our lives, but there is a level of us living righteously among men. These men and women who are said to have had great faith were each involved in people's lives.

They had a desire to show God's glory and His love. Are you looking to the interests of others? Are you living a life of faithfulness and gaining a testimony of righteousness among men? Are you leading men to their Savior? Do you love the least of these?

God is concerned with people. How concerned are you with the salvation of those closest to you?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Are Christians Allowed to Eat Pork?


I have recently been confronted by a man that I greatly respect. He is an excellent teacher and he loves the Lord. He is my brother in Christ and I will be together with him worshiping the Almighty God forever and ever. He is to remain unnamed for the sake of this blog, but in past days he has made me question a crucial issue in the Word of God.

Do we as Christians have the authority to eat animals which were labeled unclean by God in the Old Testament? Why would the dietary laws fizzle away as if they never existed? And why do we so often believe that the cross means we have freedom to devour whatever our appetites are craving?

He now believes that we are still under the dietary laws and must not eat things such as pork. I believe the opposite. The remainder of this blog post will be the reason why I believe we are no longer held under the Law. I ask you to pray, not that we would prove each other wrong, but that we may live as one in Christ. Don't pray that we will change our minds. Pray that we will guard our hearts.

Genesis 9:1-4 Interpretation

"And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood."
Jim Staley, a well known Pastor who believes that the food laws are to still be observed today, said concerning the above verses, "If you don't have proper hermeneutics, then you won't understand this passage." Is it just me or do you sense a little arrogance in that statement?

When discussing unclear things in Scripture, I just get a little shaky when someone claims to be the hero of the church. Jim Staley and I both believe we are right. Both of us bring excellent evidence to the table. However, neither of us are all knowing.

Yes, we have the Word of God to study, but so often we forget that God is not clear on every detail. There are things in Scripture that God has not made black and white. Some things are just grey and God is calling us to trust in Him and make a decision in regards to those things.

Jim will say that Noah had an understanding of what food was (i.e. you would never eat a milk jug). Thus when God said everything alive is food for you, He was basically telling Noah that only clean animals are food for you. We know that Noah knew which animals were clean and unclean because of Genesis 7:2 when God is commanding Noah how many of each animal to bring upon the ark.

The first problem with this theory is that Noah and his family wouldn't have had an understanding of eating any type of meat, whether clean or unclean. They didn't eat meat before this time. Their understanding of food would have been apples and bananas, broccoli and cabbage. Before the flood, they were only allowed to eat fruits, nuts, and vegetables.

The second problem is that there are two things that God said would happen between man and animals.
  1. Fear of man will be on every beast of the earth, bird of the sky, creeping thing, and all of the fish of the sea.
  2. Every moving thing alive is now food for man just as God gave man originally the plants.
Within these two commands of God, why is it that only the second one does not mean what it says? We all agree with God concerning the issue of the fear of man upon all of the animals, yet for some reason we cannot agree with Him concerning what we can eat.

It is kind of like we are telling God, "I believe that animals have a fear of me, but I just cannot bring myself to believe that You would allow me to eat whatever is living. Therefore, God, I will believe Your first point, but it's obvious that You would never actually give me freedom."

The third problem is that God didn't say you can eat whatever you want. He said that you can eat every moving thing that is alive! You cannot eat wood. God did give us common sense not to eat a milk jug. And now, for Noah and His family, God is now telling them that they are free to eat any animal they would desire and all of the plants.

The fourth and final problem with Jim's view is that God gave only one requirement when eating this meat. He did not tell Noah that it had to be a clean animal. God commanded that they never eat meat that still had its blood in it.

Many people will then in defense exclaim, "God doesn't change His mind!" Indeed they are one sense...and indeed they are wrong in another. God in the fullest sense, knows all things. Yet God all throughout Scripture has been known to postpone or change or even desire to change His plans.

God changed His mind by postponing the judgment when Jonah preached and the men of Nineveh repented. God desired to wipe out the entire Israel nation and restart with Moses because of their disobedience, yet Moses pleaded with God and He relented. God commanded Ezekiel to cook his bread over human poop, yet when Ezekiel pleaded with God, God allowed him to cook it over cow's dung.

I admit that I don't fully understand how God who is all-knowing can possibly change His mind, but I don't ever want to limit Him by saying that He cannot. This in no way changes who He is yesterday, today and tomorrow because God is forever faithful. That is who He is and just because He changes His mind about poop doesn't at all effect His faithfulness. We all agree that God cannot lie. Changing His mind about postponing His judgment with Nineveh is not lying because the object of His wrath changed.


The main passage concerning dietary laws is Leviticus 11. Through this chapter we learn what we can and cannot eat...or do we? Do you remember when Cain killed Abel? God placed a mark on him so that if anyone found him and killed him then the Lord would have vengeance upon the killer sevenfold. That is interesting because we don't usually imagine God protecting murderers.

I bring up that story because God was talking specifically to Cain. Certainly God does not protect every murderer! Thus in interpreting the Scriptures we must know who God is talking to. Leviticus 11:2 clarifies that God is only speaking to the sons of Israel. Are you a son of Israel? I'm not. I think we often forget that the Bible is a very Jewish book and that it was written to a specific people.

God chose a nation and named it Israel. They were to be His people. Through this nation He would send His Son and all the peoples of the world would be blessed through them. Often we forget that He still loved Gentiles. Not only that, but God even chose people who were not part of Israel such as Abimelech, Rahab, Ruth, Naaman, Nebuchadnezzar, etc.

Peter's Vision

The most common place for us to go is Peter's vision in Acts 10. As you know, Cornelius and his family were Gentiles who loved the Lord. They feared God, yet they knew nothing of least not of His death, burial, and resurrection.

An angel of God came to Cornelius and told him to send for Peter in Joppa. On the next day, Peter was praying and God revealed to him a vision. He saw the sky opened up and something like a great sheet came down lowered by its four corners.

This sheet was filled with all sorts of animals and God said, "Rise, Peter, kill and eat!" Peter gave the excuse that he has never eaten anything unclean and then God told him, "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy." This all happened three times before it was taken back up into the sky.

While Peter was wondering about what the vision meant, the Gentiles had come to the house in search for him. The Spirit of God told Peter to go with them and so he did. Peter went into the Gentile's house and told them everything about this Jesus.

The main argument put forth is in verse 28. Peter explains how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with a Gentile and he says, "God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean."

Wait! Where in Scripture did God ever call Gentiles unclean? He didn't. Instead God commands Israel to love them and show them hospitality. This seems that Peter and the other apostles were acting in a type of Jewish traditionalism of hatred towards outsiders because this definitely was not a Scriptural idea.

Many people who believe that we are held under the dietary restrictions will actually use this chapter in support of their cause. They claim that when Peter explains the vision in verse 28 he doesn't even acknowledge food. Therefore, they say that the vision was about how the Gentiles are no longer unclean.

The problem is that God never said the Gentiles were unclean. He said their food was unclean. Notice I said their food. The Gentiles ate pig. This was something that was associated greatly with Gentiles and now God gives Peter a vision and tells him to kill and eat these animals.

Yes. The vision was to take Peter to the Gentiles, but how does a Jew best associate themselves with a Gentile? He eats their food. He dines with them. He fellowships with them. He meets them where they are at and comes into their life and their way of living, which just so happens to involve some bacon.

James's Judgment

This explanation of the vision would make perfect sense later on in Acts chapter 15. Jews had come in among the saved Gentile believers and were teaching them that they must adhere to the Law of Moses and observe their customs. Paul and Barnabas, however, were furious and had great debate with them.

The church decided that they should each go up to the apostles in Jerusalem concerning this issue. Within this entire chapter, Luke reveals to us that the apostles themselves believed that God is doing something different than He had done previously. For even while some Pharisees were hard-pressed in keeping with the unbearable yoke of the Law, the apostles determined from the Old Testament and the giving of the Holy Spirit that the Church is not to be held in bondage of the Law.

In fact, James gives his judgment, but notice what he doesn't say. He says that they should abstain from sexual immorality, things sacrificed to idols, what is strangled and from blood. He never says that they should abstain from unclean animals. Obviously he knew what Gentiles ate.

In all seriousness, this address is actually only given so that there will be unity among the Jews and Gentiles. Sexual immorality is the only black and white sin issue dealt with in this passage.

Galatians 2:11-21

This idea continues to confirm Scripture when Paul is addressing the Galatian believers. In this passage, Paul tells the story of when Peter basically forsook the Gentile believers in order that he may have a good reputation among the Jews.

Again I ask, what were Gentiles eating? Pigs. Peter not only sat with the Gentile believers during meal times, but he ate what they ate. However, when some Jews came from James, he separated himself from among them and would not associate himself with them. He not only left their table, but he left them eating pork steaks by themselves.

Because of this, Paul opposed him to his face in front of all of them for his hypocrisy.

The book of Galatians tells us that we are no longer under law, but under grace. We no longer need a schoolmaster to get us dressed in the morning and ready for school and then babysit us the rest of the day. God, by the grace He has shown through Christ Jesus, has made us to be adult sons. He wants us to grow up. It is His desire that we grow into a mature man in making decisions based on His Word and relying on His Holy Spirit.

I am reminded of an illustration by one of my teachers at Bible School. Imagine Adam in the garden bringing an apple to God. Imagine Adam asking God, "How would You like me to eat it? Should I cook it or eat it raw? If I cook it, should I do it over fire or bake it? Should I wrap it in caramel?" Then, imagine God's response. God says, "Just eat it! It doesn't matter what you do to it. I made it for your delight. Eat it however you want. It makes Me no difference." Yes, we depend upon God, but there is a level of maturing that He desires of us.

1 Timothy 4:1-5

"But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude..."
In the last days men will tell you to forbid marriage and abstain from certain foods. Do you believe we are in the last days? We have seen all throughout church history the idea of forbidding marriage, but what about the other?

If we add to this passage, we can make it say whatever we want. Jim Staley and many others will say that this means vegetarians will tell you to abstain from meat all together. Is this what this passage is referring to?

I believe it isn't. If you compare the amount of vegetarians who are telling you to abstain from meat with the amount of "Law abiding Christians" telling you to abstain from unclean meat, the results are staggering. The amount of "Law abiding Christians" to every vegetarian is 10 to 1. This passage is talking about people in the Church falling away and believing these doctrines of demons.

Therefore, in the church, when was the last time you ever heard a pastor who is vegetarian, tell you that it is wrong to eat meat? Personally speaking, I have never heard this. However, flip that question around. When was the last time you heard a pastor or teacher telling you to abstain from specific types of meat? I have heard the latter many a time...especially in  recent days.

I was told that even Joel Olsteen believes we should abstain from unclean animals and therefore that has got to warrant some credit. If anything, this should even more cause you to question this belief seeing how he is a heretical teacher.

Again, when, besides Chick-fil-A, have you ever heard a pastor or teacher telling you to not eat cows? Never! When was the last time you heard a pastor or teacher telling you to refuse the consumption of pigs? Yesterday! If Paul is not referencing these "Law abiding Christians" denying the Jewish unclean animals for consumption, then we can't be in the last days because it is a rare thing for someone in the Church to actively vocalize the legality of forbidding all types of meat.


In conclusion, whether you agree with my views or not, I am overjoyed that we will be spending eternity together enjoying the Lord. Paul said in Romans and 1 Corinthians that some have consciences that won't allow them to partake in various areas, while others aren't bothered by it in the slightest. If you struggle with this concept, I am not trying to change your views. I am simply opening up the Scriptures and showing from a Biblical standpoint why I believe what I believe.

In Paul's writings we get the idea that if by some chance you somehow encourage a brother to do what his conscience won't allow him to do, then you have sinned against your brother. Eating pork, according to Scripture, is not a sin, but I do feel that causing someone to feel guilty either about eating it or not would be detrimental. Thanks for reading. Walk with God.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Delivering God's Talk to the Unreached

When I think about why I am saved, the only thing that comes to mind is God's grace. However, is this not the same God that Scripture makes clear is unwilling for any to perish? I am now twenty-two years old and I can testify to the fact that there is a lot of perishing going on in this world.

Or maybe I should ask a different question. Before the foundations of the world, when God knew and established all that would be set free in His Son; out of all of the human race living in this generation, did He love me any more than the billions of individuals who were and are being born in areas of this world that haven't yet been reached with the Gospel?

The obvious response is no. God's love goes out to all mankind and though I will never be able to fathom or even relatively comprehend, I can trust from a Biblical standpoint that God has an infinite love for all who were born of His image.

However, since I am now His child...does He now love me even a little more than say the heathen over in Papua New Guinea? No. His love is infinite for me and for them, which means that it cannot be added to or taken away from.

I feel like many times we in Christian circles can overlook this very important truth. We can dot our I's and cross our T's in the doctrinal stance we hold, yet we can miss the heart of God and His desire to reach the world for Christ.

In our world today there are still well over two billion people with no access to the Gospel. There is a Savior that died and rose again for them, yet they will never know. As a result, men and women will continue to be born, live, and die without ever hearing of the grace and love of our Heavenly Father and will end up in eternal and unquenchable fire because no hope was given to them.

However, if these people were to hear the Gospel of Christ and believe in His name, would they not experience the same eternal blessings and opportunities as I have in Christ? They certainly would. So just because I was born in America and they were not, does God love me more than they? Absolutely not! Absurd! God forbid!

As I am pondering upon these many thought-provoking questions, I am beginning to realize that the only reason I, Cameron Michael Neace, am not going to hell is because somebody brought me the Gospel. Somebody a long time ago devoted their life to Christ by standing unashamed and willing to risk the safety and security of everything they held dear to them in this world in hopes that someday you and I would have the wonderful opportunity of knowing Christ.

God did not appear to us in a glorious light. Nor will He appear to the unreached tribes. He calls us to be senders and goers of His word in hopes to fulfill the Great Commission in this generation and He has chosen to work through people such as you and I.

It is exciting to think that we have this amazing privilege of taking part in what the God of the universe is involved in. Dad wants to work with His let us spend time with our Father and be used to bring many sons to glory.

A Dream I Had

I was journeying to a far away place. I did not know exactly where I was headed, but I knew I was going to share the good news with people who have never heard. I came to the edge of a wooded area and began to pray.

As I was on my knees I devoted everything to the Lord. I knew I needed to leave everything behind and before I would take the next step, I recognized that I needed God to go before me and bring me to those whom He would have me serve at this time.

I prayed for the people that I did not yet know and then I stood up and began walking into the jungle. After walking quite some time, I passed by some people. The only thing I was holding was my Bible and I was hoping to be able to share it with them but they didn't want it and just ran off.

I kept walking through the jungle and I saw this family running and hiding in the woods. They looked as if they were trying to escape from something. As if someone was chasing them. It kind of reminded me of when slaves would run away from their master's before and during the civil war.

When I saw them I shouted in the only language I knew, which was English. They didn't understand me so they just stopped for a second and glared at me. After a moment of stillness they just kept running.

I shouted again because I knew I had the answer in my hand. I knew that neither of us would be able to understand each other because I did not yet know their language, but I was confident that God was having me pursue these people.

Again they stopped, looked, and then continued on. Finally, I shouted and held up my Bible so that they would see it. I was presenting it as a gift and I knew the man could tell that, but I also knew that he was somewhat fearful since he had never seen a white man before.

I instantly fell on my knees with my face to the ground and arms stretched out as far as I could get them. While in this position, I held God's Word with a loose grasp hoping he would come and receive it.

However, because he was fearful of me and wasn't sure of my exact intentions he ran up really fast, grabbed it from me, and kicked me just to be sure that I wouldn't try and tackle him or something. He then ran back to stand with his family.

When he saw that I didn't move an inch but was still prostrated on the ground he slowly came closer to me. I could tell that he was asking me in his language what this book was, but I didn't know how to respond. I wasn't aware of what language he was speaking, but my hope was that they would allow me to stay with them and learn from them so that someday I would be able to tell them all about the God who loves them.

All I did was point at the book and then up, hoping that he would understand that I meant God. It was challenging because I didn't know the culture. I didn't know if what I was doing was appropriate or if it was even understandable so I just kept trying to make symbols and signs in hopes that he and his family would recognize that I had a message from God.

I wanted them to know that what he was holding was the very Word of God, but I wasn't sure how. Thankfully, he was kind of getting what I was trying to communicate and so he grabbed my shirt and began dragging me along with them.

However, they were no longer running away or hiding. We began walking back in the direction that they had originally come from.

Along the way there seemed to be many obstacles. At different points in our journey wolves and fierce dogs would try and attack us. Thankfully, whenever we needed to fight them off we always had the high ground.

We made our way back to the place they were running from. I found that they were being held captive in a prison in the jungle. After we snuck back in they began showing me how they lived. I did not know exactly why they were forced to remain in slavery, but they allowed me to stay with them until that day when they would know God's talk and furthermore, they would know God!


Is this not reality? Almost two-thousand people groups are living in bondage under the dominion of Satan. They are looking for hope, but they are running away because they fear there is none.

They live in darkness and are slaves of sin. Our heart is to go to these people, learn from them their language and culture, and then teach them the Word of God. The Gospel of Christ has the power to set these people free. We will go...will you send us?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Expand the reach of the gospel

What's Next?

The Second Phase

Well, it's official! I am officially a graduate of New Tribes Bible Institute! So what's next, you may be wondering? Well...I am getting married this July to my beautiful fiance.

Many of you know how strongly I voiced my opinion about living a single life for the Lord; however, while I was praying for the Lord's will, He began to bring about circumstances that would change my status - Caitlin Ryerson.

I have truly found her to be the absolute best change of plans and I thank the Lord constantly for her. I am excited to journey through God's will with her in this life as we walk closely with Him, and as we are pursuing the overseas mission field.

Where are we going?

We are headed roughly about seven thousand miles away to a place unheard of. To an area unreached. To a place unwanted by men, but craved for by GOD! These people have not the Gospel. They know not the Savior of the world. They are sick with disease and infested with sin.

Their sins have been paid for, but they don't know it yet. They can't taste it or feel it or even understand it because for the last four thousand years or so they have been set aside. The world says they are nothing, and by the actions of the Church we have agreed.

Who am I to say that they are not worthy to come and dine with Him who gave Himself for them? I apologize if this is harsh and I ask that you please show me grace, but its time that we give them the blessed opportunity of tasting and experiencing the abundant and eternal life of our risen Lord and glorious Savior Jesus Christ.

"For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for 'WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.' How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, 'HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!'" - Romans 10:12-15

Remember, you have the gospel and as such will never suffer the torments of hell because somebody brought it to you. Please pray for Caitlin and I as we spend our lives serving the Lord in Papua New Guinea planting churches and making disciples among those who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ.

This coming August we are beginning the second phase at the Missionary Training Center in Camdenton, MO. Until then we will be raising support in order to experience the absolute best missions training that is available for tribal church planting. A big part of that training will be teaching us how to learn a language that has never been written down or recorded before.

 We ask you to pray for us and especially for those whom the Lord will have us ministering to. Thanks again for praying and God bless.

United together in Christ,

Cameron & Caitlin.

Heaven's Dream

Does anybody remember Russell Kitchen? I certainly do! Today marks the two year anniversary of when my grandpa went to be with the Lord in glory. He had walked with the Lord for years and had emulated to me what a godly man looks like. He taught me many things, but most importantly he challenged me to have a disciplined life and to make it one of faith.

2011 was my last year with him because he died a couple weeks after I left for Bible school. But what if I was to tell you that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was going to die nearly two months in advance? Would you think I was crazy? Would you label me as a Charismatic? What would you say to me if I told you that God revealed a piece of His plan with me in my sleep?

The following is a dream I had just before I woke up on November 26, 2011. My goal is not to prove to you that God can speak through dreams and I will not debate you. All I will do is tell you my dream and you can take it or leave it, but this is what I wrote in my notebook that morning as soon as I awoke from that dream:
"I was trying to save somebody, but I couldn't tell who. The waters were coming in to quick. The waves were all around. As the oceans fell upon us, the roar of the waters had swallowed them up, however, I survived having no injuries.
Flashing in and out was when we immediately appeared in our church. It seemed to be a party like never before. Better than a prom and lovelier than a wedding and more beautiful than a bride on that day.
Once again, the dream changed and we were all in a hospital room surrounding a patient who had just breathed his last. The sheet had been over their head acknowledging that they were dead. But we were praying for this individual and immediately they were raised. The man under the covers sat up, but I never got a look because we were back in the church.
We walked to the front of the sanctuary as if we were looking for a casket, but I want to tell you there was nothing there. I continued to walk around and down the other aisle only to see that the entire congregation was dressed in a glowing white. Not one person was in black.
I tell you that the audience was made up of every nationality. Every tribe and city and nation was dressed in this unexplainable white, but not one person was sitting nor were they standing. When I mentioned a party earlier I truly meant it. They were dancing and singing and shouting and chanting.
I began to get a smile on my face. I began to enjoy this place. Even as the introvert that I am I was longing that this would never end. I was shaking hands and meeting new friends, but one man quickly gained my attention. For as I was making my way down the aisle I knew that he was staring directly at me.
He was a tall man with white hair and a controlled face. He shook my hand with power and spoke to me with authority. There was no question to what he said, for when he spoke all other sounds seemed to flee from my ears. His voice was deep and if I can say...thunderous.
He greeted me with the warmth of his hand, but began our conversation by asking me the question, 'Has anybody died yet?' All I could think was no and that's what I told him, but he quickly responded by telling me that 'someone will die a few weeks after the wedding.'
 As quickly as lightning illuminates the night sky and then is no where to be found, so was the time it took for us to immediately be sitting at my grandparents house enjoying a nice meal together. The food was hot and the family was here, however, I was given a cup of water in order that I may bless my grandpa. I took it to him and he drank."
This is the dream that I had that early morning nearly two months before his passing. When I awoke I wanted to write this down as soon as I could find a pen and some paper. However, I was confused. I knew that this was from God and I knew it was referring to my grandpa, but there was no wedding. Not only that, but at the time the dementia that he was suffering from had been stable and there was no sign of any digression.

Well as you would have guessed, I then found out just a few days later that my cousin, his granddaughter, was getting married on December 31, 2011. I couldn't make it to the wedding because I was in Mexico, but as I returned on January 8th of that new year I knew that I had to see him just one last time before I left for New Tribes Bible Institute.

You see, it was right before I left for Mexico on New Years Eve Morning that his health began declining rapidly. Faster than ever expected. When I returned from the mission trip I had a 5-day window of opportunity to go see him. When he saw me he wanted to leave the nursing home and come with me, but I had to leave without him that day.

Indeed, the saddest moment I had ever had with him because I knew he was hurting.

I thank the Lord that on February 2, 2012 God took him home where the word "suffering" is not in their vocabulary. Thank You Jesus and thank you Russell Kitchen for being a true representation of Christ in my life!

Again, I am not claiming to be a prophet of any kind. I do not seek these dreams, but sometimes they occur. I cannot explain them, but I can only trust that God has a plan. I do want to tell you though, that everything in this dream came true in more words than I can write. God works wonders and I believe that He is allowed to work and speak in truly whatever way He knows best. Thank you for your time and God bless!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

When Christians Discourage Impossible Tasks

Imagine being an angel created on day 1 of the Genesis account. What would you think? One minute you don't exist, but the next minute you are falling on your knees before a Most Holy God. The only thing that has been created thus far has been the angels and other than that...nothing! Everything is pitch black because there is no universe, yet even so, your very first sight is the brightest Star of all!

You see God in Supreme Brilliance and out of an outburst from your inner most being you shout, "GLORY TO YOU, O GOD, FOR YOU ALONE ARE WORTHY OF ALL OF MY PRAISE!!"

I believe the very first thing God created were the angels. They were made on day 1 of creation before there was even a hint of universe in sight. There was a purpose in doing this, you see, because God wanted them to marvel at His majesty! He wanted them to praise Him for His mighty works! He desired to show them His strong hand...and thus it was so...and it was very good!

Again, imagine with me that you are this angel. It is the beginning of the third day of the creation week and you have already witnessed God unravel the universe out of a scroll that did not exist. You watched Him spin the galaxies into motion and set the darkened chaotic watered down earth on its path following an orbit around nothing (for at this time the sun was not there).

You have no clue what is going on and yet you worship Him!

But what is God doing? Now He begins to take this wreck of a planet, which is the unlikeliest of all, and He begins beautifying it.

If there is anything that I have learned over the time that I have spent knowing the Lord, it is this: God longs for the opportunity to magnify His grace by taking the least likely and the chaotic mess and completely transforming it into a beautiful masterpiece.

Therefore, if you were this angel, and on the third day God commanded that the earth would sprout forth vegetation, and before anything green came up, would you be the one to go up to God and tell Him that this is impractical? After you have seen the wonder of the Most High God, would you tell Him that what He is commanding is too much? Would you dare limit God in this instance?

I am sure most, if not all of us, would quickly say no. However, it is sad that many of us do this on a daily basis. We limit Him in our lives and discourage others from experiencing the fullness of God because self-consciously we don't believe that He is truly Incredible. We don't understand that God is limitless, therefore, for some obscure reason we put a limit on Him.

I experienced challenges such as these for two years already and it hasn't stopped. As many of you may know, I have a desire to go into a tribal location with zero access to the gospel and I am trusting that God will use me to be an effective Bible translator for New Tribes Mission. God has placed on my heart a conviction to give these people everything that I have.

I also find myself longing to speak with missionaries who have gone before because I hope that we will be mutually encouraged by each other's willingness to serve overseas. However, I must confess that out of all of the missionaries that I have spoken to and told this dream that I have of translating God's Word into a language unreached, well over half of them and many of my friends have said nay to this goal. The thumbs down has been given.

Has this ever happened to you?

Do you have a call on your life from God in order to accomplish a specific purpose? Our Lord and Savior sure did as He says in John 17:4 "I glorified you on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do." God has given each one of us a task to do and by accomplishing it we bring glory to the Father.

Why is it that so often we limit this task? What if God actually gave us a pretty big task? I would say that our Lord's task on earth was pretty huge! I heard a quote one time that goes very well with this passage and the basic premise is that God doesn't give us tasks lesser than or equal to our strength, but He gives us the grace to accomplish the task according to His will.

A big part of the reason why Caitlin and I are headed for the Missionary Training Center this coming Fall semester is because we want to be highly equipped for the work of service into this holy calling that is placed on our lives. This is not a joke, therefore, we will not treat it as one. We are using common sense and right judgment by training for these next three years before we head off.

I have been told that translating sixty-six books (which aren't really that big) would be impractical. Someone has even told me that it would pretty much be a waste of time because if you finish the New Testament, then you should move on to a different tribe. How can somebody who claims to know God say these things? I tell you they don't know the power of my GOD!!

My goal is not to be satisfied with just a short portion of the Scriptures because my goal is not to make a bunch of converts. The desire of my heart is to make disciples. You cannot build a luxurious house without having all of the tools necessary...thus disciples, yes can be made on a small portion, but if one worker (the American believer) has the nails and the hammer, then the other worker (the tribal believer) will never have the possibility to be as effective as the first if you only give him the nails.

I thank God for men and women such as Ron and Carrie Lindsey who stood up for me when I was told those discouraging words.

As of now there are only a little over 500 complete Bible's in the world from beginning to end. I praise God for men and women who are willing to respond in faith to the calling that God has placed on their life to go into an unreached people group, but I praise God even more for those who remain until the work is finished.

I have a joyous hurt when I read the list and find that there are over 2,000 languages now that have the New Testament. I am joyful because God has reached in. I am hurting because man won't grab hold. In my spirit I am ashamed to tell you right now that those so called "reached" tribes that have the New Testament and portions of the Old Testament are sadly forgotten now.

I fear that so often we treat these people as numbers. Why do I say they have been forgotten when many of them have a well established church? They have been forgotten because the job is not finished. Oh how I pray that God will raise up workers who will stick it out until the end.

I am writing to you who have been discouraged by fellow believer's. Stay the course and remain on. Continue in the faith and if God has called you to do something that is impossible and that somebody else can't, then don't ever let them discourage you. This is not a work for your siblings in the faith to decide what you can and cannot do! This is a work given only by your Father in Heaven!

Do not ever believe a man who says that God can't do it. Believe the God who masters the impossible! For if a man, even a missionary, is unwilling to believe, then doors will be closed to them and God will not work fluently in their ministry. However, if you believe God, then He will show you things you cannot even imagine! Persevere...even when Christian's say no because God is saying YES!!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Sinner in Hell

The Unbelievers Eternal Posture

In this story, told by our Savior, the rich man goes to hell. Verse 23 says, "In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment..." I can promise you that this man was not standing up with his head bowed. That was not the position he was in when it says this. He had absolutely no strength whatsoever to stand and all comfort had fled from him. His legs gave out long ago. He was on his knees, arms laid out on the ground in front of him, and face to the floor where he will remain for the rest of his eternal dwelling.

That is the position in which every sinner will be in for all of eternity, for they shall rightly bow before the Alpha and the Omega forever, never having the ability to stand in defiance again (Isaiah 45:23; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10).

All of creation, whether in God's presence or not, saved or unsaved, angel or demon, will all rightly bless the name of the Lord for all of eternity. Every single human will either bless His name now in a willing spirit or they will bless His name later in a painful outcry (Revelation 5:13).

We must understand that everything God is involved in is good. Not only good, but it is for the best. And not only is it good and for the best, but He receives praise, blessing, honor and glory even from among the sinner in hellish torment. From a scriptural standpoint, God has a purpose for everything that He does, and everything He purposes will result in His glory being shown and shouted among all of creation.

An Eternal Thirst

Again, there was barely any strength left in this man. Notice that even in his weakest state of being, it wasn't God that he was calling after to quench his thirst, but instead he was calling forth a man. He will take anybody except the Creator and he exerts all that he had in order to lift up his eyes and receive but a glimpse of what paradise looked like. He shouted forth a cry for mercy with all of his might that Abraham, a man, would show him grace by sending Lazarus, a man, over to cool off his tongue. He doesn't want God. The only thing this rich man wants is a new place to live.

This man was feeling the pain of the hottest fires of hell and he was desperately seeking even just the simple satisfaction of a droplet of water upon his tongue because his mouth was dry. Yet, the issue goes deeper than this. He is spiritually thirsty because he is spiritually depraved. He was seeking the wrong thing. Notice he still doesn't want God to satisfy him, he wants other things. The reason the believer is joyful in eternity is because Christ is the overflowing abundance of water they so crave for and He alone can quench their thirst. The unbeliever finds no satisfaction.

The rich man in this parable was seen to still be consumed in himself and defined as sin. He only wanted what is temporary. All that he desires is exactly what sin always offers and that is a momentary pleasure. It is a shame that he still fails to realize the destructiveness of his sinful condition and refuses to pursue what is truly valuable, Christ the eternal!

However, this is what we miss so often when we read and interpret scripture. For some reason, we come to the conclusion that sin stops in hell and that the unbeliever is only paying for the sin(s) of his life that took place here on this earth. In the story, the rich man hates his environment. He would rather be anywhere else than there. Notice he still hates God. Sin does not stop in hell.

The Nature of a Sinner

The only reason in which one sins is because that one is already a sinner. You are not merely a sinner because you have committed sins, but you sin because you are a sinner. Sin is the defining nature for the unbeliever. It is what they do, but even more than this it is who they are.

The sin nature is ultimately not based upon ones behavior, but upon ones birth. If you are born of Adam, then you are a sinner whether you commit sins or not. However, all sinners will commit sins in order to further evidence their defining nature and thus all sinners will be thrown into the only place in which God's gracious presence does not dwell.

It is in this place that sin will not stop. There may be certain aspects or types of sins that will never again be committed, nonetheless, sin will never cease being the defining character of a sinful individual. They will for all of eternity grow in their hatred for God, thus the very wrath of God will be continually poured out upon them. They will never grow used to the hurt nor will the pain eventually numb. However, this is what awaits the sinner.

More often than not, I find that we (myself included) have a very man-centered perspective on sin. For some reason we think that the punishment is to cruel and that sin stops in hell and that a sinner will for all of eternity regret refusing the grace of God. Biblically speaking, none of those things are true. For in his sin he will hate God for all of eternity and God will forever have victory over His crushed enemy!

Can a believer die from sin?

Often times we as believers can focus on our positional truth in such a way that we actually abuse it by thinking we are invincible and the Lord (our Father) would never strike us dead in our sin. There is a growing movement in the church today, referred to as "Perseverance of the Saints" that believes  this among Christian circles.

Although they would not say it like this, the truth is they believe that if you die in sin, then you were never saved to begin with. They say that all of God's true elect will persevere to the end and be found faithful. The point of this blog is to prove from a scriptural standpoint that there are many "believers" mentioned in the Bible that are with God to this day in heaven but as they were here on this earth they refused to persevere until the end; as a result, God judged them by way of death.

Why do we so often get the impression that God can never be against us? I feel like a lot of the time we (myself included) are coming to Scripture with a wrong definition for two words: love and death. What if love meant that sometimes you would have to kill your own son? What if instead of calling it death, we referred to it as life?

Look back up at the question in bold. Has God ever done this? Yes! He did it for the Son that He loved above all other sons! So why would we ever think that He would be unwilling to do the same for us at times?

Objector: "Because He loves us!"
Response: "Love is why He killed His Son!"

Objector: "Yes! And that's why He won't ever do it again!"
Response: "How do you know that? What if it was more loving to bring the child home? What if 'death' in our understanding, actually means 'life' in God's?

Isn't it true that the death for a believer here on this earth is actually the first time they experience the fullness of life in glory? For the Christian, death is not a bad thing...but it is the best thing because then we shall see our Lord as He is!

Is it not the God of the universe (our Father) who is infinitely worthy of all glory, honor and praise and who also opposes the proud? Can believers be proud? Have you ever been lifted up in pride? If you say yes, then God opposes you when you are. If you say no, then you are in violation of re-writing the Scriptures. "God opposes the proud..." - James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5.

I believe that one thing I lack in this subject quite often is the fear of the Lord. In Joshua chapter 22 the Israelites, after already having entered in the land beyond the Jordan, each went to their allotted portion that Moses had commanded. When the tribes had dispersed, the eastern ones built an altar. When this action had reached the ears of the western tribes they were greatly distressed and after calling it an abomination they marched down in preparation for war.

Thankfully the Israelite armies sent out 11 men to confront them on this awful thing before any such attack was to be declared. The eastern tribes, however, were quick to explain that this was not a sacrificial altar, but one as a witness between the nation for the generations to come. This then brought great joy to the Israelites and they rejoiced in the fact that they misunderstood.

In the story above I want you to notice that these men may not have been so quick to hear as James 1:19 commands, but the one thing we should greatly admire of these men was that they were very quick to fear! Fear who? They were quick to fear God. In Joshua 22:18 the Israelites were greatly afraid that if these tribes were rebelling, then God would be against them all!

Check out what God did to His own for the sin of Achan in Joshua 7. Achan took for himself what rightly belonged to the Lord and for that he was stoned. Achan is a believer. Who else died with him, but also his whole family as well (believers)! Not only that, but before any Israelite had known what he had done, God took the lives' of 36 military men (believers) by the hand of the gentiles because of Achan's sin.

So let's pretend that I am Achan. I sinned greatly against the Lord. Because of this He killed 36 of my friends who lived next to me and were all believers. Then God orders my death and the death of all those I am related to. I pose the question: If God will kill someone for the sin of another, then why is it so hard to believe that God will take the life of the one who committed the crime? The others didn't do anything wrong, yet God was vengeful. Therefore, God will take the life of His child if He sees fit to do so.

This would give full explanation for the believers who have died in judgment from taking the Lord's supper in a disrespectful manner in 1 Corinthians 11:29-30. Paul says that a number of them have died and many are sick and weak. This is a result of God against His children in the faith as a consequence for their sins.

Acts 5 gives the ABSOLUTE clearest example of this with Ananias and Sapphira!

My last example from the Word deals with Hymenaeus, Alexander, and Philetus. 1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Tim. 2:17. Paul hands Hymenaeus and Alexander over to Satan. Paul has done this before and used this exact wording in 1 Cor. 5:5 to a believer who was in gross sin. These two are believers as well and we know that because in 1 Tim. 1:19 they have "suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith." The only way you can do this is if you have faith and we know that all who are justified will be glorified (Rom. 8).

So let me ask you...can a believer die in sin? A believer will never die in sin in the sense of loss of salvation, but some have and will die as a result of their willful disobedience. God has every right to take us home whenever He pleases and if their comes a time when we are doing harm to furthering His kingdom, then it is possible that He will end your life here. God has all of eternity to show us who we are in Christ, but He only has this one life to teach us who we are apart from Him and if it takes a lifetime even to the point of death, then I know that my God will certainly do what is necessary.

However, a lot of this may sound rough. It may be hard to hear. It may come across throughout this article that this is what God is all about and I am deeply sorry if I have conveyed that message. When we sin, yes God's heart is broken, but He is actively seeking for our restoration. He is always pursuing us and He never lets go. But, the Biblical truth is that there may come a point in a believers life when God says "Enough!" and He will judge that believer by way of death penalty.

What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! This is a good thing on both sides because God is faithful. Is this an abomination? Absolutely not! The believer then is in glory looking upon the face of God for the first time and falling down in worship. That beiever can no longer sin and I guarantee that he/she, as we are arguing about this justice, is thanking God for removing them from this sin cursed world and bringing them into His presence.

God is good, and He is always working out the very best for His children. Sometimes that means bringing them home early. In order to truly live...we must die.

In light of all that you just read I want to leave you with an encouragement. God is faithful and He will never fail you nor will He ever give up on you. He may choose, by His infinite wisdom, to take you home early as a result of sin, but He loves you and is actively every day seekng for your success. The truth is...I don't know where the line is, but He does and I can guarantee that it's not right around the corner. It takes quite a bit for Him to do this, but if He does, always know that it is for your good and for the advancement of His Kingdom!

The 5th point of TULIP = Perseverance of all the Saints = FAIL!!
Thank You God for Your Preservation of the Saints!