Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Will Jesus Embrace Technology?

With all the buzz about the “end of the world” shenanigans lately promoted by the Family Radio false prophets, I started thinking about what the next step for us truly look like. Scripture is clear that we will head into a time of tribulation, and will have both the advent and demise of a man called “the beast” with his devious cohort “the false prophet”. There will be the much debated “mark of the beast” given to all who give their allegiance to this man and his world system. But the Christians who have the faith to hold out until the end will get a special treat: they get to see the much anticipated return of Jesus himself.

But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.” 1 Cor 15:51-53

And look at this:

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.” 1 Thes 4:16-18

So it is clear that there will be many who are changed, and meet the Lord in the air at his triumphant return. Jesus comes back down, extinguishes the evil ones from off of the face of the earth. And then he sets up his millennial kingdom. What happens to those who have been lifted off the earth, and then return with him:

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” Revelation 20:2-6

So those who are alive at the return of Jesus, who have kept themselves free of the beast's system, and who have not lost their faith; get to reign with Jesus for a thousand years. But what will that kingdom look like? If he comes soon, he will meet a generation of very tech savvy people in the air. And he will take those people to the next millennium. This is a generation that is used to cable television, the internet, and Apple products. Will Jesus set up his reign “old school” with a simple type of life? Or will he take full advantage of technology? Will we have access to Jesus through some type of social media? Or will Jesus have us live a lifestyle like it was 2,000 years ago. Will there be flight in manufactured machines? Or will we have the abilities with our spiritual bodies to appear like Jesus did and walk through walls.

If people like Michael W. Smith get to go, will he write amazing material for his King and publish it through technology channels for all on the planet to enjoy? Will we get to hear sermons and teachings from Jesus archived? Or does one have to be there? If this is true:

That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Cor 2:9

Then we probably have no idea what a future filled with technology invented non-selfishly, but purely for the pleasure of our King would look like. Either way, it will be nice when the trash is taken out, a king we have never seen but worshiped is readily available, and there is something we can only imagine: world wide peace. Maybe I'll tweet about it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I'm Just An Old Pair of Speakers

Dahlquist DQ-10
My common sense is telling me not to write this blog post. Blogging is a little bit like sending an email: one should wait and count to 10 before it's sent. Because once it is out there...it is out there. But what the heck! I am still feeling the funk and mentally processing the difference between the truth and the lies. And it is all because of the speakers that I love: My Dahlquist DDA 1T's!

I had a conversation with my wife earlier today about selling a three speaker arrangement that I have had for years, but is currently not being used. I have been a fan of Dalquist speakers since the middle 70s and used to drool at the end of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer'sLucky Man” when played on a pair of DQ 10s. The rumble of the 20 cycle note and the air around the synthesizer is just pure bliss. So my wife said something that stuck me like a knife earlier today. I have a paid of Dahlquist DDA 1Ts that tower beside a Pinnacle monster sub-woofer. It's Nirvana for the ear drums. She said that because those are so old, they aren't worth anything. I retorted that those three are a $2,000 system that are extremely valuable because you can't get them anymore. I don't know why I put them up there with the treasures of Tutankhamen and the Mona Lisa as far as value goes. Maybe because they have given me so many years of pure audio pleasure. Maybe because in my mind they are still new. But the reality is that they are simply old speakers that were great in their time, but now have been passed up by a new generation of trendy, cool, hip, happening speakers. The new stuff is flashy and valuable to this Ipad generation, but they sound like crap. And this alt/bro generation has neither the time nor the inclination to value what is older.

Pinnacle Sub-woofers will punch you in the chest
 I went online to see what they are worth to try to prove a point to my wife. But as usual, she is right. I can't even find them anywhere. I did find a discussion thread where old geezers reminisced about audio equipment from the bygone days of yore. It made me feel like I was at a D-Day Invasion reunion. I remember when Tom Holman was a real guy, and not just a big THX roaring in at the start of a movie. Saul Marantz, Amar Bose, Paul Klipsch, and Henry Kloss all had active parts in the R&D of their companies. Now they are just logos on some venture capital Korean consortium that uses their name for marketing recognition. And today it dawned on me that I am old at 52. I look at myself with the same eyes that I see my Dahlquist speakers. And I see beauty, ability, and technical perfection. But the world sees me as something that might not even get an opening bid on Ebay. I thought I wasn't supposed to be worthless until my seventies. What I see as career “prototypes” the world sees as failures. What I espouse as “Edison's 1,000 ways how not to make a light bulb” the world sees as career instability. I'm such a loser!

Paul Klipsch
Then I pulled a David at Ziklag and started looking at ages. Abraham was 75 when God told to leave Haran. Harland Sanders started KFC with his first social security check at age 65. Noah was 500 when he started building the ark. I even shook my head in amazement as I watched a Bob Proctor video yesterday. He admitted that he was 77. He is amazing. So that gives me hope.
I, like my speakers, put the air around the strings of Beethoven's 7th that contribute to it's melancholy tone. But I live in a world that wants to blare Snoop Dogg at ear bleeding levels. Like my sub-woofer, I hold my auditory integrity during the cannon shots of Tchaikovsky's “1812 Overture”. But I live in a world that wants it's speakers to be hidden while they jack cars in “Grand Theft Auto San Andreas” on their 3D televisions. I secretly want others to see the value in me. But I know that the younger, better looking, smarter, more tech savvy uber-man is what the world is attracted to. So I'll finish this day with gratitude that I am still in the game. Solomon did say that a live dog is better than a dead lion. And an old speaker that will give me goosebumps during “Braveheart” is better to me than a new and fresh e-speaker.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Anthony Weiner is the Anti-Antichrist!

Anthony Weiner's resignation officially takes place at midnight tonight. In case you have no idea who I am talking about, he is the congressman who was busted for tweeting pictures of himself to a myriad of woman. And although I didn't see the Full Monty versions of his macho offerings, (who would want to) the ones I saw of him flexing in the mirror in the gym were pathetic enough.

I wish I could "unsee" this.
Notice I didn't say that Weiner was the antichrist. I said that he was the “anti-antichrist”. He is the exact opposite of the coming world ruler who will be blessed by Satan himself and be given power to rule the world for three and a half years. That is if you believe the prophets Daniel and John the Disciple. Both of them had much to say about “the man of sin” and his trusty sidekick known as the false prophet. They will bring quite a show to planet earth right before the return of Jesus. We know from John that Michael himself gets to kick the crap out of all those who decide to follow them, and he gets to throw both of them into the lake of fire.

And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who did mighty miracles on behalf of the beast—miracles that deceived all who had accepted the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue. Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.” Revelation 19:20 NLT

Ouch! And check out what happens to then one who anointed them both:

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Revelation 20:10 KJV

There is “forever”, which is a pretty long time. But these folks get a double portion of torment: forever and ever.

Daniel is pretty clear that the reign of the antichrist will be no cake walk. Although he totally runs the show, there will be opposition and rebellion from a couple of different kings. Read Daniel 11. But one thing that is never prophesied to happen is what happened to Anthony Weiner. And that is why I call him (and others) the “anti-antichrist”. Women will not be a factor. Remember how Monica Lewinsky was a distraction and the bane of Bill Clinton's presidency? You can sit and think about how many men have been brought down by illicit relations with women, and lots of powerful names will come to mind. Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, Italian President Silvio Berlusconi, World Bank and IMF president Paul Wolfowitz, and the list goes on and on. As long as there have been men with great power, there have been “femme fatales” who have brought them down. Can you say Samson and Delilah anyone? And the pulpits are full of men like Jimmy Swaggart and Paul Sheppard who have paid great penalties for their lack of self control in the naked woman arena. And not only our generations, David had his Bathsheba, Caligula had his sister, and Jerry Lee Lewis had his underage cousin. But the man of sin will be different.

Spitzer and his physical therapist

Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.” Daniel 11:37
Many people believe the wording that he will not regard “the desire of women” to mean that he will not worship nor regard the gods that women like. And there is some merit in that thinking. But I tend to see it another way. If this man is anointed by the Dragon himself, and has only three and a half years to try to send as many people to hell as he can; I don't think he will have the time nor the libido to waste it on trollops. I can't see this man being a horn-dog. Power is his game. Total control is his aim. And as he sets himself up in the “holy of holies” in the Jerusalem temple as god, he won't flex his spiritual muscle to try to win sexual trysts with women who see that kind of thing as an aphrodisiac.

Can you imagine the antichrist tweeting HD pics of his package to someone? Do you see the false prophet calling down fire from heaven with a member of the Swedish Bikini Team on each arm? You can't can you. And neither can I. Where so many great men have had blind spots in the sex area, this man will be rock solid and focused. Luckily he will be replaced by a righteous King who was also tempted in ALL AREAS, yet without sin: Jesus. I'm sure Jesus probably had a cute sister of a cleansed leper literally throw herself at him. Maybe not. But we know that he overcame all that this world had to offer in the way of getting him to stumble. And he marched right over it.

So take hope fellow Christians in the fact that we will someday soon have a righteous King who can not be bribed with boobs nor distracted from integrity by batting eyelashes. And that gives me great hope in the future.

And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Revelation 2:12

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Will We Speak Hebrew In Heaven?

If you go to Google and type in the word “hallelujah” you will get 29,100,000 returns. That is a very strange phenomenon for a word that is not in the Bible one single time. Yep, that's right; it's not in there. And yet there are almost thirty million mentions of it on the Internet. If you are a Christian, you are probably doubting that it is not in the Bible. So go see for yourself. The first time we even see the two Hebrew words that make up that saying is in Psalm 104:34:

“Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the LORD, O my soul. Praise ye the LORD.”

Those two words that comprise the saying praise the Lord are where we get the saying Hallelujah. But if it isn't in the Bible, where did we get it? And why do so many Christians say it? That answer comes from the New Testament. When John was taking his tour of heaven in the book of Revelation, he heard people saying that word. In fact, lots of people. And he wrote that book in Greek, so the word we see four times in Chapter 19 is “Alleluia”.

Think on that for a minute. While John was in heaven, he saw the multitudes of people saying “praise the Lord” in Hebrew. Now it is possible that everybody in heaven will be speaking Dutch or Spanish, and only occasionally shout out a Hebrew phrase. But I tend to believe that Hebrew will be the predominant language with which we will all praise God. And yet another point of our Hebrew language of the future comes from Revelation 15. Here's what John saw:

And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: “ Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested.” Revelation 15:2-4 NKJ

This song of Moses is taken from Exodus 15. And in Deuteronomy 31 he taught it to the next generation:

So that very day Moses wrote down the words of the song and taught it to the Israelites.” Deuteronomy 31:22 NLV

Guess what language Moses spoke? Hebrew. Guess what language his song is sung in? Hebrew. Guess what language we will probably be speaking in the New Jerusalem according to what John saw? Hebrew. Maybe it is time to get some Rosetta Stone software and get a jump on the crowds.

Also note that the two times that phrasing for hallelujah is used is in relation to the vanquishing of the enemy. In Psalm 104 the sinners and wicked are no more. In Revelation the term is offered up only after the antichrist, false prophet, and wicked are removed from the game. Pretty sweet deal, right? After God takes care of those who are against us, it is only natural for us to bless Him with our thanks and praises.

Although not in the Bible, here is the best secular song with that word in it. So many people have covered that Leonard Cohen song; from country and folk musicians, to rockers like Jon Bon Jovi. It might be because it's great. Or maybe because they have this small part of their spirit that has hope and is already reaching out to the One who made them and inhabits their praises. Either way, God is good all the time. And it is a good thing to praise Him. Here is the version by the great John Cale from the Velvet Underground.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Do We Need More Medieval Sex?

Medieval sex is simply getting ridiculous. And I didn't really understand what it was all about until yesterday. I had a “moment of clarity” (so to speak) after getting really mad at HBO. And please understand that I am no prude. I am a recovering porn addict so I have seen it all. But I never understood why that world is invading the other ones, until today. Here is my journey.

I really wanted to watch the miniseries called “The Tudors” when it first came out. But I didn't. It is currently being reshown on BBC America, so I set the DVR to record some episodes. I had heard great things about it from friends whose opinions I trust. I have always thought that was an interesting time in history. As a Catholic boy, I took Sir Thomas Moore as my patron saint at my confirmation. And have many times scratched my head in amazement at Henry VIII's quest for a male heir. Cromwell, Boleyn, Mary, Elizabeth: all fascinating people. So When Showtime came out with the series, I couldn't wait. Well, this series is excellent; all except for one thing: the gratuitous sex scenes. I am sick and tired of having to fast forward past a scene because of some naked wench in Henry’s room. Yes, we know that he was a total horn-dog. But the 1966 movie “A Man For All Seasons” portrayed all his iniquities without having to show any of it. Do we really need to have bare butts to get the point? I understand that sex sells. But geez! What is it selling for Showtime? So I moved on.

I also couldn't wait for the Showtime series called “The Borgias” to air. Again, an amazing time in history. And one to really chagrin the Catholics. So I taped it. And this is one great series. It is sit on the edge of your seat intriguing. And very well written. But here we go again: gratuitous “T and A”. This story could easily have been told without having to show all the forbidden sweaty humping of the monarchy. Good Grief! Yes the pope was a letch. But to constantly have naked nuns fluttering out of rooms in a convent ticks me off. Where do the Skinemax after dark B-movies end and prime time soft core porn begin? Yes, this is in prime time. I got angry because I had to have a trigger finger on the remote control. Ridiculous! I remember when what was sexy was what was NOT SEEN. The imagination is far more stimulating that the eye. Yes I'll probably watch the season finale this weekend. But with the papacy at a falling point, why spoil the moment with boobs?

 I was already miffed because “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena” on Starz was nothing short of porn. The little I saw left me angry. I had anticipated seeing another version of “300” or “Gladiator”. Instead I got male penises and full on lesbian action. Why should I have to watch guys kiss in order to get my fill of testosterone-laden gladiatorial arena battling? Yes, Rome was decadent. But the 1960 Stanley Kubrick, Kirk Douglas, Lawrence Olivier version of “Spartacus” didn't have to push the envelope in order to tell this great tale.

Today was the final straw. I started watching HBO's new series “Game of Thrones”. I was excited to take certain aspects of medieval castles and jousting; and merge them with a science fiction fantasy genre. And I wasn't disappointed. Strong characters and well written plots merge with kingly honor and deceptive power struggles. But dang it: why do I have to watch the queen do doggie style sex on her wedding day. Seriously! Everybody holds their meetings in a brothel in this series. What? That's right. Any time the characters want to meet, there are naked whores flittering about. And it is just pathetic. Because their nudity adds absolutely nothing to the story except for puerile titillation. How did Peter Jackson do it with "The Lord of the Rings"? Those were fantasy movies that won every major accolade and made gazillions of dollars; all without one single act of oral sex. What are you thinking HBO?

Where is the clean "guy stuff"? Where is the gruff series where a man can be a man without having to battle waves of lust? James Bond had plenty of sex. But we never had to actually look at his wiener or some trollop’s buns.

So here is where my moment of clarity came in. I wondered what kind of market these shows were serving. What is their niche? I mean, come on: anyone can get plenty of hard core porn on a computer, I pad, or smart phone for free. And if a man wants to see people having sex, HBO probably isn't his first outlet of oculary delight.
Why interject all the sex into a television series where it serves no purpose other than to get a man's motor running? And then I got it. It is all a part of a master plan where the lines between right and wrong are getting blurred. A man can truly tell another accountability partner that he hasn't looked at porn. But in reality, he is simply watching a male oriented television series and getting all the mental fantasy fuel he wants. It's safe, easy to click away from, and deliciously deceptive. Or so the lie will whisper. How far we have come from the boobs in “Braveheart” and the one sex scene in “Band of Brothers”. It's just plain sad. I noticed it in Fox's O'Reilly Factor when they showed the same bikini clad clip of Carrie Prejean over and over. I quit watching Bill. And it is everywhere, on every channel, and at every media outlet. Who knows what the future holds. Maybe we will finally beat Rome during the time of Caligula as the most sex-laden country in history. But then, HBO will probably make a miniseries about us.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Only 11 Days Left To Get Free Stuff From Deceived Christians

Well, if you believe the people at Family Radio, the world is going to end in 11 days. And unfortunately, there are thousands of Christians who are buying into this theory. The best news report I have seen on these false prophets was on NPR. Here is what they had to say. Make sure to listen to the 6 minute audio report on this page.

Apparently, these people have taken what they consider to be the the date of Noah's flood and added seven thousand years to it to come up with the date of the “rapture”. So at around 6pm on the day of the 21st, there is supposed to be a giant earthquake which will start at the Pacific rim near Australia and move across the whole Earth. Then Jesus will appear to take up the church in a “rapture” and leave everyone else here in a giant chaotic state to fend for themselves. And if you believe any of that, I have a bridge to sell you. What they don't realize is even the Bible itself puts the date of the flood at 2348 B.C. For them to say that the flood was 7,000 years ago shows they have not done their homework. Here are some things you need to know about this end time delusion that has swept the hearts and minds of many of God's people.

First of all, even the pastor himself had an earlier date that came and passed without the church being taken. It was supposed to be September 6th, 1994. That passed. Suddenly he remembered that he had not read the book of Jeremiah? So with egg on his face, I mean with the Holy Spirit on his head, he came up with a new date of the 21st of May 2011. Remember the ones in California who “knew” that the date of the “rapture” was in 1988. That was based on Israel becoming a nation. They gave away all their earthly possessions. Then they stood naked on a mountain waiting for Jesus to give them their “robes of righteousness”. Imagine their shame as they left the mountain broke and naked. And these Family Radio knuckleheads will do the same.

First of all: There Is No Pretribulation Rapture! People like Tim LaHaye have done the church a great disservice by writing those “Left Behind” books. My wife loved the books and read them all. She is a big fan of the storytelling but thinks that they are scripturally unsound. I think they are pure evil. They perpetuate a false teaching that the antichrist will take full advantage of in the future. The rapture theory was not taught by any of the greats of the faith like Knox, Huss, Wycliffe, Luther, Calvin, Cranmer, or Wesley. The Bible is clear that Jesus only returns once, not twice. Here's what the word says:

“They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:10-11

In the same way means IN THE SAME WAY. Not a partial touchdown. Not a fly-by to scoop up some Christians. But he comes back exactly like John saw it in Revelation 19. Read it for yourself. And when does he come back? When do we meet him in the air? The Bible spells it out:

“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “ O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 1 Cor 15:50-58 NKJ

So when is this trumpet? When do we meet the lord in the air? Easy, it's the last trumpet as shown here:

“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thes 4: 13-18

Jesus comes at the LAST TRUMPET. In Revelation 8:8 there are seven angels with seven trumpets. Read what happened while the first six blow theirs. Because the seventh doesn't sound until Revelation 11:15. Does any of this look like the rapture these deceivers are trying to sell you? Of course not. Here's all you need to know.

1. Jesus said it best when the subject of the end times came up. His disciples asked him when would these things be and what would be the sign of his coming and of the end of the age. His response was this: “Beware that no man deceive you”. Mat 24:3-4. He knew that deceivers would abound and deceive many. Even the false prophet looks like a sheep but speaks like the dragon. And,

2. If you know anybody who belongs to the Family Radio cult, they are giving all their money and possessions away. This is an excellent time to pick up a car or a house cheap. And you have 11 days to score some serious deals before they all figure out they have been duped and want their stuff back.

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." Matthew 24:36

Monday, May 02, 2011

Ropin', Burpin', Praisin', Fartin', Fellowshippin', and God

What an interesting weekend I had. I was invited by my friend Lyndy Phillips to go to a men's retreat in Oklahoma. I attend a nondenominational church here in Dallas. And the retreat was sponsored by the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. So that means I got to walk among 3,000 Southern Baptist men from all over the state of Oklahoma. The retreat was titled “Men Rewired”, and it took place at possibly the most gorgeous area of that state: Falls Creek Conference Center. I have been to the Arbuckle wilderness on other occasions. And as I rode through the mountains and trees, it was hard to believe that I was in Oklahoma.

What an amazing time. And there were three amazing take-aways from the weekend. Those of you who are Baptist will probably smile. Those who are not will scratch your heads.

1. It's all about the altar call! Their services were amazing. But each one ended with a request for men to become honest with themselves about their own spiritual condition. And it's if not good, “Come on down” to make it right. They would keep their “invitation” open for an inordinately long period of time. It was as if the longer they played the music and tried to coerce sinful men to leave their seats and journey forward, the more men would finally succumb. That is strange to me. I don't see Jesus doing that; or Paul for that matter. I am a very big fan of accountability and the confession of sins. (James 5:16). I also understand how much faith it takes for the power of God to move in a tangible way. Remember the woman who pushed through the crowd to touch the hem of his garment? (Mark 5) Even the prodigal son had to make the first motion of a trip home before the father ran to meet him. But to think that the Holy Spirit can't tell a man to get the porn off his computer or quit stealing from work from his seat in the auditorium makes me wonder. I guess it's just a Baptist thing. I'm not sure if it worked or not. Because the throng of men heading to the stage were a perfect mix of pastors who were asked to pray for people, and men who were coming to repent. So I guess it was a safe way for a man to confess and repent: look just like everyone else heading to the stage.

2. Keep those hands down! I admit it: I'm one of those types of people who get so lost in the praise of our great and glorious God that I simply must raise my hands in worship. But apparently the Baptists aren't. Imagine 3,000 men singing to some of the most anointed worship music ever. Then imagine only 6 or 7 raising their hands up to God in celebration. Yep, that's right. As I raised my hands, the older gentlemen next to me look at me as if I had just got off the mother ship from Venus. He had one of those “you ain't from around here” looks on his face. It was funny. Why are some men so afraid to freely worship God? Remember when David danced before the Lord with all his might? And his wife despised him in her heart. Why? Yes all things must be done decently and in order. ( 1Cor 14:40). And more churches are falling into the “slain in the spirit” and “holy laughter” trap. But Geez! Can't a man with a Skoal ring on his jeans and a big belt buckle take a minute to raise his hands to his King?

Here's where it gets good. We sang a song where the lyrics were “I'll stand with hands high and heart abandoned. In awe of the one who gave it all”. I thought that surely if the lyrics dictate a raised hand, they would comply. Nope! Never! I guess standing stoically like a rock is good enough for grand pappy, and it's good enough for them.

3. Man up! The third thing that came out of this past weekend changed my life. One of the featured speakers was Michael Catt, Senior Pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Georgia. If you are not familiar with them, they make Christian movies. They did “Facing the Giants” and “Fireproof”. And I was lucky enough to get to watch their newest movie to be released in September: “Courageous”. How I managed to fight back the tears while sitting among dusty cowboys is beyond me. This movie is great! Check out the trailer.

I found this trailer on YouTube and called to Jayne to come in and watch it. I teared up as it played. And I had already seen the movie. This is one powerful movie. And it strikes right at the heart of what is wrong with the church today: men are weak and women have to take the wheel. I love my children more than anything on this earth. And I have some deep issues of regret that I wasn't a very good father. Maybe that is where all the emotion comes from. And this movie will do the same thing to you.

So I guess my big “A-ha” moment came as I thought about this past weekend. I realized that as dads, we want our children to raise their hands to us, but we don't raise them to our heavenly Father. We want our children to come to us freely, and without coercion. But sometimes we need to get hammered with endless stanzas of "Have Thine Own Way" before we move to our Father.  We want our kids to crawl up into our laps, but we keep God at a distance. It makes me disappointed and a little hurt when I only get occasional communication from my kids (usually via Facebook or text), yet that is the way many times I communicate with the one who knew me in the womb.

So here are my lessons from the Okie weekend. Be free with your praise. Tell your Father you love Him. Watch “Courageous” when it comes out. And lastly, MAN UP! Just be a freaking man! Stop being weak. Get right with God, and then stay right. Cover your wife and kids with blessing and praise. Stay tuned for more thoughts from this last weekend.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Rock God Met The God of Rock!

I love amazing encounters with really interesting people. This past weekend I had one of those. I had the opportunity to work in security at the International Guitar Festival which took place at Market Hall here in Dallas, Texas. Imagine if you will a giant convention center filled with nothing but guitars and things pertaining to the music business. It was quite a gathering of very peculiar people. There were large music vendors like Gibson, Fender, and Yamaha all showing their newest wares that turn the mediocre into guitar virtuosos. There were lots of 50-something women still dressed like they were groupies waiting for Motley Crue to come out of the stage door so they could party with the band. Unfortunately, they still look hot, only in their own minds. And yes, there were lots of 60-something men, adorned with rock gear who still live in a 70s time capsule. It was sad. Remember the song by Jethro TullToo Old to Rock and Roll, Too Young to Die”? That song was written for these wrinkled musicians of the days of yore. But my weekend changed at a place called the cave.

I was working the back of the facility at a small room where they did “up close and personal” guitar clinics. George Lynch of Dokken blasted the room at a decibel level to make sure that nobody had ear drums left. Like Spinal Tap, he just wanted to make some ear drums bleed. They screened a great movie called “The Wrecking Crew”. Watch it if you can. It's amazing. But then, in came rock star Rick Derringer to do a clinic. I stood outside the room, trying to look as daunting and bad-ass as possible. I was security after all. But I listened intently to everything he was saying. He told his story. The room was packed; and all ears were focused on his captivating storytelling abilities. Everyone was amazed at the famous songs he had played guitar on, and the fame he had accumulated. And then he did it. He played the famous song that everyone thinks about when the name Rick Derringer is mentioned: “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo”. Horned hand salutes bobbed in the air as swaying heads and tapping feet played right along with his song. The man hit all the high notes. He still has it. Then his clinic took an amazing turn.

He went on to tell the people that he had rewritten that song due to the fact that he now has a relationship with Jesus Christ that changed his life. And he sang it with the new/improved lyrics. “Rock and roll hoochhie koo” was now “Read the word, live it too”. “I'm high all the time, hope you all are too” now sings “I'm high on God hope you all are too”. And the lyric that still sang the same “truck on out and spread the news” took on a whole new meaning. It was at that time that half the crowd got up and left. They weren't interested in hearing any of that “Jesus shit”. Rick didn't seem to mind. He continued with the clinic, giving glory to God by telling about how his life changed for the better. His smile was peaceful and angelic. His testimony of God's provision in his life was motivational. I was stunned, inspired, amazed, and so proud of him. There was no doubt that God has done an amazing work in his life.

Here's where the story gets really good. As I stood by the door, God spoke to me. He said to tell Rick Derringer that “I will honor those that honor me. That was straight from the Old Testament.

“But now the LORD says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.” 1 Sam 2:30

As Rick was leaving I walked right up to him and told him that God had given me a message for him. He didn't balk or discount me. He stopped and said “What is it?” I told him. He immediately raised his hands in the air and said “Praise God”. Could this be the man that worshiped at the altar of the rock gods? I guess that is the beauty of the transforming power of our Lord. I then told him a version of Luke 12:8 that just came off the top of my head:

“Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God.”

We hugged, and he went outside to do a radio interview. I saw him again briefly the next day and reminded him what God had told him. He raised his hands and kept walking. I love that man.

So why do I write this story? Because as we approach Easter, it is good to remember that the power of the resurrection can work in the life of any man; regardless of how bad he might seem to be. There are bonds that can be broken, healing that can take place, and new starts in life that can begin.

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Cor 5:17

We all have some old things that need to pass away. Let this season be the time of spring cleaning. And then call out to the One who raised Jesus from the dead. By looking at Rick Derringer, I can tell that God is still in the miracle business.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I Met The Death Angel Last Week

There are many things to love about life. I guess my favorite is how it interrupts the mundane and regular with a surprise that will change everything, at least for a while. Last week I met the death angel. And I haven't been able to put what happened out of my mind since then.

I was driving on my way to the gym to workout like I do most afternoons when I came upon a major intersection. There was a white van that belonged to a plumbing or A/C business sitting at a red light. Behind it was a car full of teenage girls. To the left of it was a truck with a Hispanic man in his 40s, and behind him was a black woman who was a nurse. The driver of the van opened his door at the light and got out, and fell to the pavement. At first I thought he had dropped something out of his window and was retrieving it. Then he laid down on the pavement. My second thought was that he heard some type of strange noise emanating from under the van, and that he went down to take a look. It was at that exact moment that a kind of a chill came over me and goosebumps raised on my forearms. I immediately knew that the man was dying. I pulled over, parked, and got out of my car. I ran to the spot, weaving around the cars full of annoyed people that nobody was moving. By that time the Hispanic man was straddling him and beating on his chest. The girls had gotten out of their car and were standing there just looking at him. The nurse was on her knees, had his wrist and was looking for a pulse. She touched the side of his neck. I had a chance to get a good look at the man lying on the street. He was probably in his late 40's, dressed like a blue collar worker, was overweight, and lied there motionless. His only movements were from the CPR being performed. Then something strange happened.

The nurse dropped his wrist and said to us that he was dead. The man performing CPR refused to quit until the ambulance arrived. She said that it was of no use. But he just continued pinching his nose, blowing in his mouth, then beating on his chest. And a thought instantly wafted through my mind that I had dreamed and prayed about for years. I thought, “I am going to lay hands on that man, pray, and bring him back from the dead”. Jesus did it. And Jesus said that the things he did shall we do also, and greater things that that. Strangely, there was absolutely no check in my spirit, no thought of unreasonableness in my mind, nor fear of what the others might think as I lay hands on this man and he comes to his feet. I was ready, willing, and able to perform a bona fide miracle, just like the kind you read about in the Bible. I could see myself looking up to heaven, and saying something like “In the name of Jesus, rise and walk”. I'm not sure whether I took a step towards that man or not. But I do know that the next thing that happened is hard to put into words. The most intense fear I have felt in a very long time seemed to step right up to me and block me. Although I could see nothing, there was definitely something or someone there. And I found myself completely paralyzed. So I just stood there, like a dog who had been told to “stay”. And I did nothing.

I was amazed at how fast the ambulance came screaming in. There was also a policeman who blocked the street. The paramedics took one look at the man and knew that it was too late. They didn't break out the defibrillator or start beating on his chest. They simply brought out a gurney, and asked for help to lift the portly body onto it. It was clear that this “earth suit” no longer had an inhabitant. And would soon be returned to dust.

I have asked many questions about last Tuesday that still have yet to be answered sufficiently in my mind. Why did the man have to die on the pavement in East Dallas? Why couldn't he have died a more noble death; something like throwing himself in front of a bullet to save the Pope's life? Why didn't I raise him from the dead? I bargained with God about how much he would receive glory in a miracle like that. Think about the press: “God Lives...and Still In The Raising From The Dead Business!” What a killer Easter season PR blitz for Jesus that could have been. But the one that haunts me still is: who stepped in front of me that day? Who was this unseen man that carries such power of fear? Was this the man who went through Egypt killing the firstborn? Or was this a loyal servant of Satan there to take this man to a place he really doesn't want to be? I thought about the movie “Ghost” where shadowy figures come out of the ground and take men screaming in fear to the nether world.

I've learned that everyone dies. I've learned that the way we die isn't as important as the fact that we die. Suicide seems worse than choking on a chicken bone. But neither of them can beat saving a bus load of orphans. Or dying on a cross. I hope I face death with dignity and honor. I hope I am not afraid. I want my belief in the fact that my Lord died for me, and that I trust in him, to be the overwhelming factor on the day that somebody is picking up my “earth suit” and putting it on a gurney. I hope I am surrounded by someone who loves enough to keep beating on my chest and blowing in my mouth, never giving up on me. But most importantly, I hope that when I am asked to leave this place, that I have understood my destiny, and have given my best in trying to achieve all that God wants me to do. That may be today. But if it’s not, I'll seize this day and live my life to it's fullest. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go tell some people that I love them.

Monday, March 28, 2011

What Does God Think About Crybabies?

I cried yesterday. What a baby, right? It doesn't matter what made me cry. No, it wasn't the end of “Forrest Gump” or “Romeo and Juliet”. It wasn't even brought on by the Dallas Cowboys. It was something to do with God's direction of my immediate future. And this morning my best friend gave me words of encouragement that made me realize how God views our tears. At first thought you might think that God's mighty men of valor have the strength and intestinal fortitude to squelch any outward expressions of emotions and simply march towards victory in the joy of the Lord. But as I thought about it sitting here at my keyboard, I realized that I am in a pretty good company of those who had tears stream down their faces.

1. King Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:5 and Isaiah 38:5)
2. Queen Esther (Esther 8:3)
3. Ruth (Ruth 1:14)
4. Job (Job 16:20)
5. Jonathan (1 Sam 20:41)
6. King David- what a total crybaby. He cried all over Psalms. (Psalm 6:6, etc.)
7. David's might men of valor (1 Sam 30:4)
8. Timothy (2Tim 1:4)
9. Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:4)
10. Paul – another crybaby (2Cor 2:4, Acts 20:31)
11. Jeremiah (called the weeping prophet, too many instances to name)
12. Peter (Luke 22:62)
13. John (Revelation 5:4)
14. Mary (John 20:11)

Heck, even the Lord Jesus himself cried. Remember the shortest scripture in the Bible? Two words: Jesus wept. (John 11:35) And were those misty-eyed man tears? Look at this:

“While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God.” Hebrews 5:7 (New Living Translation)

So what does God think about all this crying going on down here? One might think he would stand up from his throne and yell with the rumbling of thunder “Quit yer crying you weenies and man-up!” But we find another scenario in relation to God in the Bible. He actually thinks our tears are precious, and cherishes them enough to save them in a bottle.

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 (New Living Translation)

So it seems that our crying is not in vain. It is noted from above. And it is welcomed as part of a purging process that is divinely inspired. Look at what both the Old and New Testaments have to say about God's part in our crying:

“The Sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears.” Isaiah 25:8

“And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:4

This doesn't look to me like a God that shuns our crying. But one who connects intimately with our sorrow and grief. So go on and cry if you need to. And see if a friend will show up with the finger of God to help wipe away your tears.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Better Than Rocket Science

Last night an amazing thing happened. At a class I was attending we talked about Gideon having to remove the altar of Baal and the Asherah pole from his Dad's house before God would send him to deliver his people from the enemy. (Judges 6) The conversation turned from removing sin to accountability. Then people felt safe enough in that environment to start sharing some of the secret things that they might not have ever told another living soul. The power of sin lies in secrecy. But honestly, there is no secrecy. We are surrounded with a great cloud of witnesses. (Heb 12:1) Lots of people in the spiritual are looking on. If God sees every sparrow that falls to the ground, don't you think he sees the porn on your computer or the income you didn't file on your taxes.

“There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.” Luke 12:2

Does that scare you? It should if you have something to hide. It does me because there is plenty in my life that I am not proud of. But fortunately, God has made a provision for us because we all are the same: trying to make it in a fallen world. One gentleman confessed something that I am pretty sure he never confessed to anyone else ever. Others were transparent and honest enough to talk about some of their struggles and victories. Well, what I mean is that they talked about their struggles. We seldom have a problem being transparent with our victories because we know that brings God glory. But the struggles...well, you know.

So here is the solution. It is a system that works every time. It is like the Pythagorean Theorem or some mathematical formula that is guaranteed to get the results you desire. Leave one of the steps out and you have a cake that has fallen because not all the ingredients are there. Apply them all: and presto! Instant relief. They work in tandem. It's a beautiful thing. Want to know what it is?

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” James 5:16

It's so simple. Confess your faults/sins/frustrations/desires/secrets to another living person. Pray for each other. Remember that Job's captivity was turned when he prayed for his friends. (Job 42:10) Pray for the one confessing, or pray for the one you are confessing to. And then receive your healing. Bam!

One guy last night talked about how the shame and condemnation he was feeling since sinning lifted the minute he confessed and another man prayed for him. It's not rocket science. It works. Every time!

Do you have someone you can be completely honest with? Is there someone you can trust with your most embarrassing things? You know it's going to eventually come out. So why wait?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Does God Live in District 9?

Has God ever spoken directly to you? What was it like? Did He speak in a whisper? Did He send some sort of mind picture? Did you hear it in your head? Or was it transmitted to your heart? God speaks to each of us in different ways. And this morning as I was trying to sort through some revelatory knowledge I received yesterday that troubled me, God spoke to me in order to ease my mind a little bit. Remember Daniel?

I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit within my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.” Daniel 7:15 (New King James Version)

Daniel had some amazing visions and most of them troubled him. But God is faithful. And Daniel usually had some sort of visitation to help him understand and make sense out of what he had just seen. I love that about God. What a good teacher He is. And Jesus did the same thing in order to help the people who lacked understanding to “get it”.

Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable.” Matthew 13:34 (New International Version)

So God obviously knew that I was troubled by what He has been revealing to me in the word lately. So He sent me an understanding from the movie “District 9”. I saw the movie, twice. I can't recommend it to anybody reading this blog because it is violent, and has lots of “f-bombs” strewn throughout. It does have a very astute underlying lesson throughout the plot line. Here is a clip God showed me this morning during my quiet time:

Humans did not know how to operate the alien weapons. There was an amazing power available to them. But they lacked something to be able to utilize such power for protection or destruction. And God used this lesson to help me understand the Bible in the last days. There is an amazing power available to us. And most Christians are simply stockpiling the word without being able to understand the hows and whys of it's use in the end time. The two witnesses in Revelation 11 are a great example of what I'm talking about:

And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will be clothed in burlap and will prophesy during those 1,260 days. These two prophets are the two olive trees and the two lamp-stands that stand before the Lord of all the earth. If anyone tries to harm them, fire flashes from their mouths and consumes their enemies. This is how anyone who tries to harm them must die. They have power to shut the sky so that no rain will fall for as long as they prophesy. And they have the power to turn the rivers and oceans into blood, and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they wish.” Revelation 11:3-6 (New Living Translation)

They won't be fire breathers. This kind of power given to them is indicative of the Word of God...the Bible. It is the sharp two-edged sword of Hebrews 4:12 that Jesus wields when he returns in Revelation 19:15. And I'm sure that the true warriors of God reserved for the end time are being taught to effectively exert the sword of the spirit which they are commanded to put on daily in Ephesians 6:17. The Bible has power, unlike anything we can imagine. But we can't use it effectively unless the DNA of our God surges through our spiritual veins. Then...the things Jesus did, shall we do also. And greater things that that shall we do because He goes to the Father.

We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (New Living Translation)

Start working out with the sword. Then get ready to strap it on. There is an enemy flood that is amassing just out of our sight. And there is a victory on this planet that has yet to be finalized for our coming king.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Dude, Where's My Sustenance?

In times when so many people are struggling financially, the field is ripe for the prosperity preachers to bank upon the hope of the kingdom. It's not that they are misquoting scriptures. On the contrary, they are talking about the prosperity that God wants all of us to have. Remember that God delights in the prosperity of his servants. (Psalm 35:27) So when it doesn't work, what's the scoop? The Bible is filled with lean times where people had far too much week left over at the end of their money. Some of it was to test their faith. Some of it was because they were lazy or stupid. But the overwhelming majority of the times of famine and leanness were because the very people who were created to walk, talk, and fellowship with God had broken their connection. Many of the people were just plain “far from God”. And God decided to withhold His blessing from them in order to get their full attention. Hey, I've been homeless before. I know what it's like to look up to the heavens and yell “OK, God...you have my full attention!” Every time I have been financially lean in my life it was because I FIRST became spiritually lean.

Love the story of Gideon? Here is how that amazing saga begins:

“Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years, and the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of the Midianites, the children of Israel made for themselves the dens, the caves, and the strongholds which are in the mountains. So it was, whenever Israel had sown, Midianites would come up; also Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. Then they would encamp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep nor ox nor donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, coming in as numerous as locusts; both they and their camels were without number; and they would enter the land to destroy it. So Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD.

And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried out to the LORD because of the Midianites, that the LORD sent a prophet to the children of Israel, who said to them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I brought you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. Also I said to you, “I am the LORD your God; do not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.” But you have not obeyed My voice.’” Judges 6:1-10.

I love it how the New King James uses the word “sustenance” for their vanished stuff. That Hebrew word is also translated in other places to mean “life”, “food”, “revival”, etc.; all the things we need most now in this nation.

So before we cling to “hope and change” from media crackpots and phoneys; maybe we need to see if there is any sin and/or rebellion in our life. This story ends in an amazing way: Gideon delivers and restores God's people. Until another Gideon comes, this is an excellent time for us to take inventory of our lives. David asked God to do something that is a very scary request for most Christians:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23-24 (New Living Translation)

The good news over and over in the Bible is the fact that when God's people repented, they were restored to times of peace and prosperity. First comes the fellowship. Then comes the bank account. See how it works. If more people really understood that principal, the prosperity vultures who sell your deliverance for a $29 DVD would suddenly find themselves in the same boat. And God is no respecter of persons.

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (New Living Translation)

It's our move! Move the King of Kings back into your life if you find him off the board these days. And if He is alive and well in your game, march forth and go take the enemy.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Three Out Of Four Ain't Bad. Or Is It?

If there has ever been a time in my life where I need my “land healed” it is now. I don’t want to take up this entire post relating to you all the challenges in my life. Because you might utter some sort of expletive under your breath that starts with the word “holy”. And this blog is not about problems, it is about solutions. So I want to go straight to the source of the solution. And I spent most of the morning thinking about this one scripture:

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (New King James Version)

Everyone who has been a Christian for any length of time knows this passage. It gets serious airplay on Christian radio teaching and preaching programs. And it definitely has been read at the start of every church fast I have ever had the privilege of being a part of. So why doesn’t it work at times? Why do we continue to be called to a fast, sing with raised hands, give beyond our ability, serve in mundane ways, and talk about God one to another; and yet there are parts of our “land” that never seem to be healed with any lasting, true healing. Once the emotion of Christian synergy wears off, we seem to be left standing in a field of defects and character flaws that glare in Gods face like a tailgating driver with his bright lights on?

I wonder if it is because this recipe for God’s healing doesn’t work without all of the parts being added to the mixing bowl. Have you ever made a cake without the egg? Ever eaten bread without the yeast? Chemical reactions most assuredly take all the right parts in all the right amounts to produce the desired effect. So I whipped out my Strong’s Concordance this morning to look at all four parts of this text in the original Hebrew language.

Part 1: Humble yourself. It pretty much means what you think it means: “to be humble, be humbled, be subdued, be brought down, be low, be under, be brought into subjection”. It also means to bend the knee. This word is translated “subdued” many times throughout the Old Testament when talking about an enemy being conquered. David subdued the Philistines in 2Samuel 8:1. I have done this at many different times in my life; mostly because God has done the humbling…and not me. But still there were several times of strong crying out to God. So I think I understand this part. Interestingly enough: this humbling will eventually take place for all people as every knee bows and every tongue confesses to Jesus.

Part 2: Pray. Yep, this is the easy one. Because the Hebrew word used here (palal) means “to intervene, interpose, pray”. Is there anything else that really needs to be said about prayer except “Just Do It”? In my life I have prayed lots. So when my land is unhealed, it must be either one of two things.

You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” James 4:3 (New King James Version)

Nope, that’s not it. Because all the times I have earnestly prayed for freedom in any area, it was not for my own pleasure, but for the pleasure of being a more pleasing creation to God. Just the converse is true: I don’t really pray for myself at all. I spend almost all of my prayer time in intercession for others. That is because of my dysfunctional belief that I am not worthy to receive anything good. When I’m sick I’ll pray for myself, but seldom at any other time. But that is another blog post also. So that is not a missing ingredient…at least not to me. So pray without ceasing.

I’m going to skip to Part 4: Turn from your wicked ways. That’s easy: “To turn back from or return to; to go or come back to”. It seems like the entire New Testament starting with John the Baptist and ending in Revelation with an angel flying through heaven has the same message of repentance. This one I truly get. I simply need to stop doing the sinful things that will keep me separated from God. And start doing the things that will bolster a relationship with him. I doubt there is anyone who reads this that doesn’t immediately have something come to mind that they either need to either stop or start doing. When we sin, we know it. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that we are out there “whoring it up” like the prodigal son with a bag of daddy’s money.

Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” James 4:17 (New Living Translation)

There are sins of omission and sins of commission. At least that’s what all the mega-preachers say. I think Part 3 is my missing ingredient.

Part 3: Seek My Face. Here’s what the Hebrew word “bagash” means: to seek, require, desire, exact, request. First of all, I’m not sure what the face of God is. I thought that no man could look upon the face of God and live. So when I asked my wife how that works, she didn’t hesitate to try to explain it to me. I just didn’t get it. She does. When I seek my lost car keys, I start an extensive search for a goal that I can easily picture in my mind. I go through my pockets and tear up the sofa cushions looking for them. And when I have found them, I can hold them in my hand. How will I know if I have found “God’s face”? What will that look like? I have heard His voice at times. I have even experienced miraculous touches from Him. But His face???? I haven’t a clue.

So here I sit typing this blog with a flat cake. It still tastes pretty good because three of the four ingredients are very sweet. I’m hoping that this week God comes down with the frosting. And I hope I get to lick the beater.