From the Heart


My wife and I are members of a small gathering of believers in our area. We wrote what follows to the members of our group recently. While aimed specifically at our little group, it really applies to the church at large. Each of us is an essential piece of the Body of Christ. Each of us is a unique expression of our Lord, with our own strengths, weaknesses, gifting, calling and destiny.Each of us is special, needed, playing an essential role in the revelation of Christ and Kingdom of Heaven upon this earth. God dwells in us, we are all kings and priests, heirs and joint heirs, sons and daughters of the Most High God. There is, or should be no division in the Church, not Jew or gentile, man or woman, black, white, red or yellow. Not child or adult, rich or poor, or any other division you might think of. Just children of God. What follows is our thoughts to the group:

Most of us have been walking with the Lord, and together for some time. We have developed friendships, learned to trust one another, know each other’s strengths, and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. In other words, we have, at least to some degree, become intimate with one another. Many, if not all of us have been looking for the next step. How do we grow? Where do we go? What is God’s plan and design for us, for the church? For that matter what IS church? What does it look like? How is it organized, structured? How and where does it meet?

The bible is, perhaps mercifully short on details. We have a few scriptures describing various roles or perhaps job descriptions, but little else. We know at least a little about the early church from Acts 2, and we have a few passages addressing how we should come together, but little else.

Every believer was faithfully devoted to following the teachings of the apostles. Their hearts were mutually linked to one another, sharing communion and coming together regularly for prayer. A deep sense of holy awe swept over everyone, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. All the believers were in fellowship as one body, and they shared with one another whatever they had. Out of generosity they even sold their assets to distribute the proceeds to those who were in need among them. Daily they met together in the temple courts and in one another’s homes to celebrate communion. They shared meals together with joyful hearts and tender humility. (Acts 2:42-46 TPT)

So what can we learn from this? They met regularly, both in public and house to house. There were as one body, fellowshipping freely with one another, sharing freely and generously, praying and sharing communion. They were in the midst of the Kingdom, and signs and wonders abounded. Let’s take a little closer look at the beginning of the passage. “Every believer was faithfully devoted to following the teachings of the apostles. Their hearts were mutually linked to one another, sharing communion and coming together regularly for prayer.” They were devoted to the teaching of the apostles, their hearts were linked together, and they came together regularly for prayer and communion.

As Debbi and I have been seeking the Lord for His plan and design, He seems to have been placing a special emphasis on that part and on verses like Eph 5:19 and Col 3:16:

And your hearts will overflow with a joyful song to the Lord Jehovah. Keep speaking to each other with words of Scripture, singing the Psalms with praises and spontaneous songs given by the Spirit!

Let the word of Christ live in you richly, flooding you with all wisdom. Apply the Scriptures as you teach and instruct one another with the Psalms, and with festive praises, and with prophetic songs given to you spontaneously by the Spirit, so sing to God with all your hearts!

With that in mind, we will be asking core members of our little group to share what God has been placing on their hearts. We’re not looking for deep or involved teachings, or what someone else has been teaching, but for the things that resonate in your heart, the secrets He has whispered to you and set your heart aflame with. I was asking the Lord what he wanted the other day, and He spoke KISS to me. I questioned him, because of the way I have used and seen it used before, and then He spoke to my heart, Keep It Short and Sweet. So then, what will that look like? Well, obviously, it will be short. It will be from the heart, yours and God’s. It will look like you, and “smell” like God. In short, it will look a little different for every one of us, as each of us is a unique expression of God, and if we are doing what we believe He wants we will reflect that unique expression, that unique relationship we each enjoy with the Father.

So then, we will start with some simple guidelines.

  • Keep it short—half an hour or so. We want to have time for discussion, prayer, etc.
  • Keep to something that is on your heart. It does not have to be deep, or profound, but we want it to be from God. What that will look like will be an expression of who you are in Him.
  • Keep it honest. Don’t say what you think others want to hear, say what God is saying to you. We want to know you. Know your heart, your passions, the unique expression of God that is you.
  • In short, do what the Word tells us in Eph 5:19 and Col 3:16; “… Let the word of Christ live in you richly, flooding you with all wisdom. Apply the Scriptures as you teach and instruct one another with the Psalms, and with festive praises, and with prophetic songs given to you spontaneously by the Spirit ….”

So what is on your heart? What is that thing the Lord has whispered to you in your quiet time or on the night watch that is burning in your heart? What is that thing that gets you really excited, or causes you to fall on your face before the Lord in intercession. We want to know it, share the burden with you, to know you.

I don’t depend on my own strength to accomplish this; however I do have one compelling focus: I forget all of the past as I fasten my heart to the future instead. I run straight for the divine invitation of reaching the heavenly goal and gaining the victory-prize through the anointing of Jesus. So let all who are fully mature have this same passion, and if anyone is not yet gripped by these desires, God will reveal it to them. (Phil 3:13-15 TPT)

… you are God’s chosen treasure—priests who are kings, a spiritual “nation” set apart as God’s devoted ones. He called you out of darkness to experience his marvelous light, and now he claims you as his very own. He did this so that you would broadcast his glorious wonders throughout the world. (1 Peter 2:9 TPT)



So, how about you my readers? What do you think?

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Women and the Church


priscilla-du-preez-607177-unsplash

I have seen the question of women and leadership coming up again recently. Usually with someone quoting 1Corinthians 11 and 14, Ephesians 5, and 1Timothy 2. We’ll most likely come back to those, but for now, let’s look at some biblical women.

Did God place women in leadership? The answer is most definitely yes. Deborah not only sat as a judge over the nation of Israel, she was a prophetess, and led the armies into battle.

Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, judged Israel at that time. She sat under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites came up to her for judgment. (Judges 4:4–5 AMP)

And Barak said to her, If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go. And she said, I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the trip you take will not be for your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh. (Judges 4:8-9 AMP)

While not directly tied to this subject, it’s worth noting while we are here, that Sisera fled the battle and escaped but was killed by Jael.

Miriam, sister of Moses was a prophetess and led the women in worship. We also see that Miriam was recognized as part of the leadership team, in Micah 6:4, God speaking to Israel says:

For I brought you up out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house where you were bond servants, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.

There were others as well, but you get the point.

What about the New Testament? There were women who traveled with Jesus, and perhaps more importantly, we find a number of women recognized as leaders, among them; Lydia, Phoebe, Priscilla, Chloe and Junia among others. All were leaders, most preachers, apostles or deacons. Paul recognizes Priscilla as a fellow worker in Christ Jesus, Phoebe as a deaconess. Lydia was a leader, probably a preacher teacher, at who’s house the Church at Philippi met. Likewise, Priscilla and her husband mentored Paul after his encounter with God. Notice that Priscilla and Aquila seem to be interchangeable; to me this is a sign of equal partnership. The church in Corinth met at Cloe’s house. So then we have a number of examples of women in NT leadership.

But what of Paul’s comments mentioned earlier? Well what of them? If we are going to understand them, like Paul’s comments about head covering in 1 Corinthians 11, we need to understand them in cultural context. This is very clear in the Passion Translation:

And if any woman in a place of leadership within the church prays or prophesies in public with her long hair disheveled,[e] she shows disrespect to her head, which is her husband, for this would be the same as having her head shaved. (1Corinthians 11:5 TPT)

Doesn’t our long-established cultural tradition teach us that if a man has long hair that is ornamentally arranged it invites disgrace, but if a woman has long hair that is ornamentally arranged it is her glory? (1Corinthians 11:14 TPT)

We also need to keep in mind that 1 Corinthians was written in direct response to questions posed to Paul, as 1 Corinthians 7:1 makes very clear. Everything from that point on is very specifically addressing very specific issues. It is also important to keep in mind both Corinth and Ephesus were centers of worship to the goddess Artemis (Diana), and women had central roles in the worship as priestesses and temple prostitutes. It is no coincidence that Paul writes to them regarding women keeping a lower profile. But what does he say elsewhere?

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For as many [of you] as were baptized into Christ [into a spiritual union and communion with Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah] have put on (clothed yourselves with) Christ. There is [now no distinction] neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ [are in Him Who is Abraham’s Seed], then you are Abraham’s offspring and [spiritual] heirs according to promise. (Gal 3:26-29 AMP)

[In this new creation all distinctions vanish.] There is no room for and there can be neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, [nor difference between nations whether alien] barbarians or Scythians [who are the most savage of all], nor slave or free man; but Christ is all and in all [everything and everywhere, to all men, without distinction of person]. (Gal 3:13 AMP)

So then we can clearly see that in God’s view there is no distinction. Women can preach, they can prophesy, serve as deacons, elders, any role the Lord calls them to. To conclude otherwise is to ignore large portions of scripture.

So then, I have to insist that in the Lord, neither is woman inferior to man nor is man inferior to woman. For just as woman was taken from the side of man, in the same way man is taken from the womb of woman. God, as the source of all things, designed it this way. (1Corinthians 11:11-12 TPT)

 

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Snakes in the Closet


The other night I awoke from a rather vivid dream about snakes. In it I saw an army of venomous snakes slithering around a government building attempting to gain entry. Some people seemed to be assisting them while others were fighting the snakes. As I pondered this, I realized the snakes were all poisonous, and that the venom represented words. I was also reminded of a dream Debbi had several years ago in which she was teaching people how to handle a venomous snake. She was holding it just below the head with her thumb firmly pressed against the bottom of the snake’s jaw. I realized in my dream, the venom was words, and by pressing against the jaw she kept the snake from spreading his poison.

We are seeing a phenomenon in this nation the likes of which we have not seen in a very long time, if ever. We have become deeply divided as a people, and even as a church, Democrat vs. Republican, conservative vs. liberal, rural vs. urban, gay vs. straight, Christian vs. non, rich, middle class and poor. The differences are clear and sharp, each side convinced that they are right, and their cause is just, and none talking to the others. It is as if we are once again being tested as we were almost 160 years ago when Abraham Lincoln so eloquently said:

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

 Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”

We have become a nation divided, and that is a bad thing.

Now, Jesus supernaturally perceived their thoughts and motives, so he confronted them by telling them this parable: “Any kingdom that fights against itself will end up in ruins. And any family or community splintered by strife will fall apart.”” Matthew 12:25 The Passion Translation.

So then what do we do? How do we change? What weapons do we use to combat the enemy trying to tear apart our society? When I prayed into that, I heard three words from the Lord, “ferme la bouche.” Actually, I heard my mother saying it in my youth, “ferme la bouche,” shut your mouth. I thought about that for a few minutes and I heard the words of Jesus in Mathew 5:44:

I say to you, love your enemy, bless the one who curses you, do something wonderful for the one who hates you, and respond to the very ones who persecute you by praying for them.” (TPT)

Our response then is to be prayer. Plain and simple, pray for all those who slander you, those who take stands against you. When engaged in a conversation with someone who disagrees, don’t compromise, but remember a soft answer turns away wrath. Understand that we battle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers.  Realize that poisoned, hate filled words have divided this nation, and only the life giving, light filled words birthed in heaven and spoken from a heart filled with love and a desire for reconciliation can bring the healing we need. Do not respond with words in the spirit of the enemy, but with the very Word of God.

But what if they do not turn and stubbornly maintain their position? That’s OK, it’s not your problem, but God’s. When you blessed your enemies, you placed them in the hands of God. As Paul said to the Romans:

Beloved, don’t be obsessed with taking revenge, but leave that to God’s righteous justice. For the Scriptures say: “If you don’t take justice in your own hands, I will release justice for you,” says the Lord.  And: If your enemy is hungry, buy him lunch! Win him over with kindness. For your surprising generosity will awaken his conscience, and God will reward you with favor. Never let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good.” (Romans 12:19-21 TPT)

It is not our place to judge, it is our place to bless, and show kindness. When we do, God will take care of the Justice, He will deal with them, and somehow I have a feeling He’ll do a much better job of it than we will.

angry beard blur close up

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Changes


pexels-photo-1010513.jpegI found myself today thinking about how things have changed in my lifetime. So much is different, so much progress, so many technological developments. Things un-thought of in my youth are the norm today.

In one respect that is the history of the world. Business changes, jobs change, technology changes. More and faster than most young people can appreciate. I was born a little over 60 years ago. A plane in the sky was a novelty, home entertainment was gathering together to listen to the radio. Not all homes had electricity, or a phone. If you grew up in the country as I did, and had a phone, you had to listen before dialing to make sure no one else was using the line. If it rang, you counted the rings to know if it was yours, as several houses shared the same line.

Tablets? Calculators? Cell Phones? Nope, oh there were computers, they filled rooms, and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to do only simple math. (See the movie Hidden Figures for a good example of all of this.) Today you carry more computing power on you wrist or in your pocket than existed in the entire world then. I can still remember the excitement when we got our first TV set. It was a piece of furniture, a big wooden cabinet with a screen not much bigger than your tablet that produced a black and white picture. We had three stations, all a little bit snowy, that went off the air each night at midnight.

I remember staring at the sky in wonder, and yes a little fear, as Sputnik flew by in space, the excitement of watching John Glenn take off and then safely return, or watching Neil Armstrong take that “small step for man …” I remember when the next state was like a foreign country and the opposite coast an exotic land you might be lucky enough to see by train some day.

I could go on and on, but my point is simply this, the things we take for granted today were unheard of a mere fifty years ago. What was state of the art then is ancient history today. Even the jobs have changed, a lot. When I graduated, few went to college, when my kids graduated, everyone who wanted a job went to college. Now I am starting to see the pendulum starting to swing the other way. Increasingly, the jobs that command the really high salaries, the place where there are more jobs than workers are in the skilled trades, artisans, people who know how to work with their hands, who can build, repair, create things of utility and things of beauty. How long or how far will that pendulum swing? I have no idea, but eventually it’ll swing back, it always does.

I was just reminded of something; I was watching a grandchild at a country fair, not long ago. She was in a greased pig catching contest. She won, not because she was bigger, faster or stronger than the other kids, but because she watched. Instead of chasing the pig, she watched it, and tried to anticipate where it would be, and then ran to that spot. To the younger ones reading this, if you want to get ahead, stop, look and listen. Figure the job that will take you to where you want to be, not tomorrow, next year, or in ten years, but in 20, 30, 40 years. Then get the education you will need to get that job and be ready for what is to come. You may not nail it, but you’ll come close. startup-photos.jpg

Oh one last thing, while you’re looking make sure it’s the job YOU WANT, not what someone else tells you you should have, or ought to have, or can do, but the one that you want. And take time to enjoy life, family, friends, nature. If you do, you’ll look back at my age with no regrets. If you do not ….

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“Why Would Someone Want a High Capacity Gun?”


This was a question asked by a friend of mine recently. First I appreciate that she did not use the term “Assault Rifle.” Despite the efforts of many in the media and politics to redefine the term, assault rifle has a very specific meaning. According to US Army experts at Picatinny Arsenal,  “The definition of an “assault rifle” is “Assault rifles are short, compact, select-fire (i.e. both semiautomatic and full-automatic) weapons that fire a cartridge intermediate in power between submachinegun and rifle cartridges.” The rifles owned by the general public do not meet that definition, they are not assault rifles. Scary and military looking doth not an assault rifle make.

While I do not own any guns capable of accepting large capacity magazines, I will try to address the question. There are a number of reasons, first, they are plain old fun to shoot. Second, the reality is in most self defense situations, even involving trained, experienced officers, the average number of round fired in a one on one situation is around 10. The reality is in a tactical situation such as that it is hard to hit someone who is shooting at you, especially if they are moving. Shooting the gun out of the hand, or the running double tap to the head makes for good fiction, but it is just that, fiction. But perhaps most importantly, especially in light of some things in the news, we need to look at and understand what our founders intended when they wrote the Second Amendment. Please note, that all quotes below are taken directly from the documents noted, not from some pro or anti gun website.

George Washington was both a military man and a politician. He was also very cognizant of his place in history, with most scholars agreeing that he was especially aware that as our first president, everything he said and did would serve to establish precedent. In his first inaugural address, he had this to say:

“A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies.”

James Madison, “The Father of the Constitution” played a pivotal role in drafting both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In fact, he drafted the 2nd Amendment. His original draft was a little different than what we have today:

“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.”

It is worth noting at this point that the word regulated in that day was understood to mean well practiced and trained. More on that later perhaps.

Madison also penned Federalist Paper Number 46, in that, he wrote:

“… Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government …. This proportion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops. Those who are best acquainted with the last successful resistance of this country against the British arms, will be most inclined to deny the possibility of it. Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.”

He said more, but that’s long enough.

Alexander Hamilton also wrote several of the Federalist Papers, most notably for our purposes here numbers 28 and 29. In Federalist 28, he wrote:

“If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government….”

In Federalist Number 29:

“…but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people, while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights….”

And:

“What plan for the regulation of the militia may be pursued by the national government is impossible to be foreseen…The project of disciplining all the militia of the United States is as futile as it would be injurious if it were capable of being carried into execution… Little more can reasonably be aimed at with the respect to the people at large than to have them properly armed and equipped; and in order to see that this be not neglected, it will be necessary to assemble them once or twice in the course of a year.”

I could go on and quote many others, but for sake of brevity I will move on.  What is abundantly clear is that the founders saw the right to bear arms as a counter to the Federal Government or standing army overstepping their bounds.

Some might argue that the weapons then were different then. Yes they were, in fact, the Kentucky Long Rifle style weapons the average farmer and woodsman had was superior in many ways to the Brown Bess style weapon used by most standing armies. The rate of fire was not quite as fast, but they were much more accurate and had a longer effective range. Today, the weapons held by our standing army are vastly superior to those held by civilians. Still about 100 million gun owners should be enough to give any army pause. This has gone on long enough for now. So I will end it here.

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Blown Away


From The Pen of a Ready Writer

Such a month – so far – and it is only the 12th of December! My gifts that are for the out of town relatives are already shipped (this is a first)! I am blown away. Thank you, Lord.

Our family plans for gathering and celebrating Christmas are coming together so easily!

I am blown away! Amazing.

And – and- Suddenly, today, faster than I could have ever hoped – my childhood dream came true. A contact from my publisher called and announced that my first book was just put on Amazon. Wow. It’s really happening! I am published. I’m blown away!

God has overwhelmed me with His good surprise and I am struck with awe and wonder. It is so hard to get much work done since it is such a surprise. Things are changing, and there is a lot to think about. Being a published author means excitement…

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Faith Vs. Fear


Jump

Yesterday a military acquaintance of mine posted some quotes about letting go, and fear of change. As I read this I kept thinking of the Israelites in the desert. Moses sent 12 men into the land to spy it out and see what it held. Twelve leaders went out, one from each tribe, and 12 saw that the land was good, but because 10 could not see beyond their fear, lacked the courage to step into their promise by faith, the entire nation wandered in the desert for 40 years, waiting for the next generation to rise up and step into their promise. The irony is, that it only took them 40 days to reach their promise, but 40 years of marching around the mountain to walk into that promise. I wonder how many times we have “gone round the mountain” needlessly because we lacked the courage to step forward.

But the people who dwell there are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; moreover, there we saw the sons of Anak [of great stature and courage]. Amalek dwells in the land of the South (the Negeb); the Hittite, the Jebusite, and the Amorite dwell in the hill country; and the Canaanite dwells by the sea and along by the side of the Jordan [River]. Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once and possess it; we are well able to conquer it. But his fellow scouts said, We are not able to go up against the people [of Canaan], for they are stronger than we are. So they brought the Israelites an evil report of the land which they had scouted out, saying, The land through which we went to spy it out is a land that devours its inhabitants. And all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature” Numbers 13:27-32

Today, he posted some quotes on optimism vs pessimism, and I saw a distinct connection; 10 of the spies said: “We are not able to go up against the people [of Canaan], for they are stronger than we are. So they brought the Israelites an evil report of the land which they had scouted out, saying, The land through which we went to spy it out is a land that devours its inhabitants. And all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the Nephilim [or giants], the sons of Anak, who come from the giants; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” But Caleb had a different report: “Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once and possess it; we are well able to conquer it.” The in Chapter 14, they continue: “And they said to all the company of Israelites, The land through which we passed as scouts is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land flowing with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord, neither fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their defense and the shadow [of protection] is removed from over them, but the Lord is with us. Fear them not.”

With faith filled eyes, they were able to see what the others could not. They saw the very real obstacles before them falling because of the favor of the Lord. They were able to say as Paul did to the Philippians “I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].” Philippians 4:13
Be Blessed in Him
Kevin

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