Friday, August 31, 2007


It has been a while since the conversation that I am referencing to took place but here is a link to the entire post and thread from Peter's site that is the ember for this post of mine. I had attempted an answer to a question that I was asked and my answer was not the answer they were looking for at the moment. Being told that my answer was a non-answer kind of bothered me for the briefest of moments because I am not unwilling to voice my opinion/thoughts on any subject. You can either attend my church for about a month and listen to my preaching or you can write my members to affirm what I thus state but that is beyond the scope of this post. I will attempt in this post to address said issue and my own answer and should discussion or interaction from those of you reading take place, I will once again be happy to let you have a swipe at my iron.

When addressing a question posted, "why are some willing and some not willing?", I responded with John 5:40. Well, to say the least, my answer was not well received for some did not see what I saw clearly and still clearly see. Therefore, the following will be my answer as to why some are willing to come to Jesus and why some are not but the answer I will be giving is based solely upon this one reference in John 5:40 and the entire context surrounding it.

Jesus in this passage has been giving a defense of his authority and power to heal and not only to heal but to heal on the sabbath and then tell said person to take up his bed and walk which was not a violation of God's Sabbath but was a violation of the religious leaders 600 + man made additions for the sabbath. That being the case, it cannot be said that Jesus broke the Law but he did ignore the law of men at this juncture. In Jesus' defense of his authority and power, he plainly states WHY the religious leaders would not receive him.

John 5:44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?

Did you catch the answer to WHY they were not willing? Jesus said that it is because they loved the honor they had before men and gave men rather than the honor from God they so desperately needed. The religious leaders would have to give up their own preeminence in order to give preeminence to God. In other words, they would have to DECREASE so that Jesus might INCREASE and they WOULD NOT because they loved the honor of man rather than the honor of God.(By the way, I am using italics for emphasis rather than simply bold to convey the idea that I am not shouting but vocally emphasizing my points.)

Now here is the catch. For those to whom I was responding, even Jesus' answer, would have to be considered a non-answer. Jesus did not say that they could not come to him because they were not chosen. Jesus did not say that they could not come to him because he had not regenerated them. Jesus did not say that they could not come to him rather he stated plainly that they would not come to him. And the reason for their "would not" he stated was that they loved the honor of men MORE THAN the honor of God. If it is more than that, is Jesus guilty of giving only a half answer here then? Well brother Luke, Jesus was not asked the question we asked you? Granted, not in the particular words asked of me, but none-the-less, Jesus' answer is not only appropriate but it addresses directly why some men, in this case the religious leaders, would not come to him. The religious leaders, because of their own pride, were unwilling to bend their hearts to Jesus and is it any wonder. He points out in this same passage that even that which they claimed to believe and know, the writings of Moses, they did not believe! For had they believed Moses, they would have received Jesus. Paul's words in the second epistle to the Thessalonians addresses this issue as well. Chapter 2:11-12 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. Paul's words and word order make it plainly clear why some did not receive Jesus and will not yet to come.

Sometimes, we miss the forest for all of the trees. We focus on the smallest of pine cones or pine needles and we miss the BIG picture. Jesus addressed this issue in John 5 as well. The religious leaders spent so much time studying the jot and the tittles, for this post that means the adjectives and adverbs, that they missed the SUBJECT and the VERB of the Scriptures.

In verse 42, Jesus stated that they did not have the love of God in them and that the reason this was evident is because they did not receive Jesus who came in the Father's name. THEN he tells them WHY. He says that they would receive someone who came in his own name and in doing so, breeches the concept that they love the honor of men and not the honor that comes from God only. Self honor...pride...that old sin from the beginning that Satan himself was guilty of and used to deceive Eve as well. The day that you eat of this fruit, he told Eve, you will be like gods, you will be wise, you can receive honor rather than give it! No, man is not guilty because he CANNOT come to God but he is guilty because he WILL NOT come to God. Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.(John 9:41)

We cannot pass the blame to anyone or anything else. The soul that sins, it shall die.(Ezekiel 18:4b)

WHY not? Because they WOULD not.

The God of peace be with you all...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hope, Help and Healing

What are you facing today that you would really prefer not to face? More pointedly, what decision are you having to make and you feel like you are trapped between bad and worse? What situation are you looking at and you see no way out and no other options? There is hope for you. There is help for you. There is healing for you.

There is hope for you. Luke 1:37 "For with God, nothing shall be impossible." Perhaps you have forgotten to add to your equation the God factor. After all, we are speaking of the one who spoke the world into order. We are speaking here of the one who created out of nothing. We are speaking of the one who formed some clay with His hands and breathed life into that clay. Be encouraged to know that there is a hope. That hope became flesh, was crucified BUT resurrected on the third day and He just happens to be coming back as well. Jesus, Emmanuel(God with us), IS your hope. AND, where you see no blessing in this situation, God gives hope that it will be a blessing.

There is help for you. Luke 1:37 "For with God, nothing shall be impossible." Yes, the task at hand looks impossible. Consider Mary's thoughts, how can a sexually inactive woman get pregnant? Note that this was long before invitro-fertilization. God did not send Jesus to show you how to do, though Jesus showed us how to do much. God sent Jesus to do what you could not do. In fact, Jesus said to take up His yoke. He is there to walk this WITH you. Men may fail you. Man's wisdom and knowledge may fail you. But there is help and it is in the person of Jesus.

There is healing for you. Luke 1:37 "For with God, nothing shall be impossible." This very one that Mary was to bear would in fact be even her Savior. There is a greater healing than just physical healing. There is a greater healing than the mere fact that your situation works out well in the end. The greater healing is that which takes place in your heart whereby God applies the blood of Jesus cleansing and making whole that which was darkened and dead. That despair over no hope was sin. That despair over no help was sin. But thanks be to God that He sent the healing for that sin. More than just a remedy, you will find the peace to endure all that is before you.

With God, that situation that seems hopeless is full of hope. That situation that seems helpless has help waiting in the wind. That situation that needs healing has a Healer that can address the cause of the illness.

May peace in Christ Jesus be yours today.

Friday, August 24, 2007


I have been giving an issue some thought for a little while and it will probably result in a change/tweak in the way that I preach as well as think. A general scenario or two will help us to get started here.

I preach that Bible teaches that young people should refrain from sex until marriage and then after marriage, they should have no sex outside of their marriage. That should not surprise you about me. But here is where I think I may go wrong in the proclamation of that truth. I have addressed the young ladies with statements like, "you know, the boys are just after one thing", "they will tell you they love you and then leave you after the 'loving' " and even, "the guys just want to use your body and you will be stuck with the consequences". Well, you may reply, brother Luke, that is true. Those statements you have made are usually right on target. True, they may be, but those are NOT the reason why one should abstain from premarital sex. Those are CONSEQUENCES of premarital sex. Rather, the SOLE reason to refrain from premarital sex is because, God's Word says to refrain from premarital sex. It is a matter of TRUTH, not CONSEQUENCES that should be the compelling reason for remaining faithful to God. W hat IF the consequences are not so bad? What if she does not contract an STD? What if she does not get pregnant? What if the guy ends up marrying her? The bottom line is this, even if premarital sex had no obvious physical consequences, it is still wrong simply because God's Word says so.

Here is another illustration for you to consider. "If I offended you, I apologize." Now how many times have we heard that! Let's back up the trolley and consider something here. Whether a person was offended or not has NO BEARING on whether the act in and of itself is wrong or not. In fact, I would even contend that we have learned to "accept" sin because the general public and body of believers are no longer focusing on whether it was wrong or not but rather if it did not offend me, then it is okay. Pedophiles are not offended by pedophilia. Alcoholics are not offended by alcohol. Practicing adulterers are not offended by adultery in others and gossipers are not offended by gossip about others. But the final question is not who on earth was offended as to whether it is right or wrong. The final question is rather, "Was God in heaven offended by what I have done?" In other words, people may okay a behavior but if God has called it sin, it is still sin. Back to the original statement of "if I have offended you", we need to ask ourselves legitimately, not have I offended someone but have I sinned against a holy God? There may be some things that are lawful but not expedient and yes the Scriptures address this. So while something may be lawful and not sinful, I refrain from it in order to refrain from sinning by being offensive. But nowhere can it be said that just because no one was offended, it must be okay or not sinful. The question we must ask ourselves is this, "Was God's holiness breached by our actions?" That is the true question.

Now for Biblical consideration.
II Samuel 12:13 And David said, I have sinned against the LORD.
Psalm 51:4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done evil in thy sight.

Wait a minute. Did not David abuse his authority with Bathsheba? Did not David abuse his trust with Uriah? In other words, did not David sin against and with Bathsheba as well as sin against Uriah? The bottom line is this. Whether Bathsheba was offended or not is not the most important question. Whether Uriah was offended or not is not the most important question. Whether the people of David's court were offended or not is not the most important question. Whether David's other wives were offended or not is not the most important question. David got it right in his confession when he pointed out that he had sinned AGAINST GOD. Because he had sinned against God, the people should automatically have been offended. But it matters not if the inhabitants of the land approved or disapproved, it matters most that God disapproved. It is not the consequences that determine if an action was wrong or right. It is not public opinion that determines if an action was wrong or right. It must be asked again and again for every action, was this wrong or right in God's eyes? Would God approve of my actions?

To guide our thoughts and actions then, we might do well to ask ourselves not will this offend the people, not will the consequences be good or bad but rather, will this offend God? Faithfulness to God ALWAYS has good consequences. Disobedience ALWAYS has bad consequences. Time will prove both of those statements to be valid.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

MUSIC OR MADNESS: From Pain to Praise

I came across a little quote the other day on a website and they did not know who to give credit to for saying it as well so please know up front that I am not the originator nor do I know the original source for the quote under consideration.

"If God removed the stones from the brook, the brook would cease to make music."

We talk, in a rather sanctimonious spirit at times, about wishing that our lives would be a sweet sacrifice to the Lord, something that would bring glory and honor to him. Sacrifice means death. Death means pain. But somewhere in the midst of the pain a soul can offer up music that can cause even the angels of heaven to fall silent and to give ear to the chorus arising from earth. I wonder if that is what it was like when Paul and Silas began to praise God from the damp, dark dungeon and the bars were made to bend to the command of heaven and open their own mouths in submission to the almighty God.

Oh, I love the sound of a brook. In fact, if I ever would take the time to simply do it, I have the necessary materials to make a small brook and pond in my yard. It is one of my goals to create tranquility were beauty already exists amidst the steady stream of traffic which flows by on a daily basis. But in order for that water to make music, in order for that babbling to take place, there must be stones or rocks or something that agitates the path of the water on its course. The interesting part about the babbling brooks is that those stones which once were rough and jagged and produced a raging torrent are now smooth and rounded and produce a relaxing melody.

Yes, when trouble strikes, it is like a torrent of water rushing through the rough and jagged rocks and raising the noise level at times to a point of being deafening. But over the years and over time, those rocks are polished and rounded and smoothed to the point that the once before torrent has been fashioned into a gentle, calming, personal symphony of praise.

James wrote that we are to "count it all joy when we fall into divers temptations". May the rocks that line our brook become a cause for music rather than madness.

Monday, August 20, 2007

God and Jephthah Parallel

I am preaching through Judges on Sunday nights and I am at the point where Jephthah has just been summoned to be the peoples leader. The reason why I am putting this post on my blog is to record my thoughts BEFORE I read any books or commentaries concerning what I am going to write. I have stated before and I continue to believe that God is capable of showing us personally that which He is shown others and that our PERSONAL learning moment is much more easily retained than simply gleanings from another's, though this is not to say that we cannot be blessed by reading the words and works of others.

Here is what I see that God has shown me and I find quite fascinating. In Chapter 10 starting with verse 6, we see the people forsaking God to serve other gods. In verse 10, after smarting under the chastisement of God, the children of Israel "...cried unto the LORD..." and in verse 16, we see the LORD moved with compassion at the plight of Israel.

In Chapter 11 in verses 2-3, Jephthah is turned away from his family. The literally chase him off. In verses 5-6, we see the people, smarting under the fear of the Ammonites calling for Jephthah to return and be their leader. Jephthah's return, though conditional, is still a return that removes the source of pain from the people.

The parallel is that we see the same thing happen to both God and Jephthah. They are pushed away, the people under pain appeal for their return and both do return and deliver the people from their pain. FASCINATING! To me it is anyway.

To me, this is a fertile field for plowing and I intend to do so, I simply needed to claim this as my own(from God of course) but put this in writing BEFORE I searched other books and commentaries. Thus, while the concept may not be original, I will be able to with clear conscience state that it is original to me in that I was not shown this by flesh and blood but rather by the Spirit of God.

Feel free to interact with my "discovery", actually it would better be said illumination by the Spirit, and I do so hope that it blesses you.

What Hinders Your Vision?

One thing really cool about spending some time at Toledo Bend if you are not near a lot of other camps or campgrounds is that you experience very little light pollution. This means that at night, unless hindered by clouds, you can see things at Toledo Bend that you cannot usually see in a city or even small town. The first time I saw the Milky Way, I thought it was a wisp of clouds. However, the next night that very same wisp happened to be in the very same place and each night it was the same. No. That was not a wisp of clouds, that was the Milky Way which has always been there even though the light pollution where I live has hindered many from seeing the night sky wonder. I saw satellites and meteorites and many aircraft that normally would have been hindered from sight where I make my home. While light pollution from the neighboring city at my place is not as significant as it would be for those who live near larger cities, it is still enough to hinder observation of what is in the night sky whether seen or not.

Spiritual light pollution!? Dare I even make such a comment or broach such a subject? Is it possible that there could be something even akin to such? Can we be so caught up in "serving" God that we cannot see God, or that we miss the small nuances because of the clamor of that which is around us? College and Seminary proved at times to be very challenging and not because of the papers that had to be written but precisely because the papers had to be written. The works in and of themselves at times became the goal rather than spiritual growth. Meeting a deadline and making sure everything was fine according to Turabian trumped any personal light that could and should have been garnered from the task. It is the flaw of many classes that the rigor of academia replaces one's relationship with the Living Word. As such, in this post, I am calling it light pollution. We are exposed to "so much" light at one time and with such time constraints and grammatical restraints that we miss the True Light.

This also happens on a daily basis if we are not watchful. We can find ourselves so caught up in serving the Lord and "defending" the Word that we miss our relationship that comes with the Lord through the Word. This is precisely why some step away from blogging for a while. This is precisely why some pastors take vacations. But I wonder if a "yearly" break is what is truly needed. At times in the Scriptures, long after others had gone to sleep, we find Jesus on a mountain top praying. You think maybe he went to the mountain top so that He could see what was hindered from being seen in the valley below? He made it a practice to step away from the canvas and look at the overall picture. He made it a practice to step away from the crowds so that He could "see the stars" in all their glory, without being hindered by the light pollution around Him. If Jesus Himself saw the practical and habitual need of being alone, unhindered in vision to nurture His relationship with His Father, how much more then do we need to practice the same? No. I am not talking about more vacations or more time spent at Toledo Bend. Rather, I am talking about that daily turning off the TV, radio, computer...I am talking about putting down that theology or mission book...I am talking about looking past the present argument on the blog...I am talking about taking a break from memorizing that verse to see that which is obscured by that which is around you and to see that which you will miss if you do not step back.

Jesus said, in John 5:39-40, Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

We can miss so much, if we do not spend time away from that which impedes. Have you seen the "Milky Way" lately?