Monday, October 27, 2008

Without Spot!

With anger Janice threw her purse to the table, she could not believe what happened today; she was furious, frustrated and offended! She reached for the phone and called her best friend “Sarah” Janice started “you won’t believe what happened today, I am furious” Sarah sensing Janice’s rage she quickly asked Janice “What in the world happened?” “Well, you wont believe it” Janice quipped “Do you remember James, the man I work with, you know the one I have been witnessing too – well today he literally had the nerve to ask me if I wanted to have an affair!” Janice heatedly lamented. “I mean me, a Christian – How could he?”
Sarah sensing the obvious pain and frustration tried to intervene, but Janice was already starting the next wave of her tirade – “I don’t get it, I was kind, I smiled, I showed interest and care – I even ate lunch with him once – all the things that Jesus did! I even…” before she could go on Sarah interrupted “Janice –in all your WWJDing did you ever actually tell James about Jesus? Did you make it clear that you where a sold out, born again, spirit filled Christian?” silence dominated the cell waves for a moment – Janice had forgotten the most important element in propagating Christianity – was actually being a Christian.

In our attempts to become relevant and reachable to an unchurched world, I watch as the lines of distinction between the church and the world really have begun to blur and not to our credit – I am not talking about musical styles or apparel, but plain ole common ethics – ethics are merely a system of moral principles governing the appropriate conduct for a person or group – I am amazed as the masses compromise these elements when they seem to suit them and uphold them in an attempt to manipulate others…

For instance Christian musical groups seem to find creative ways to hide their faith in their lyrics, witnessing techniques set at hiding our truest views in relevant words, and of course the “post modern language and behavior approach” whose motive is “to win them you have to be like them” mentality.

Certainly we could dive much further and all the more offensive if we so chose; one would merely need to address improper relationships in the church, conservatives voting liberal instead of God’s values - I am still dying to figure that one out, particularly in pertinent in the coming days – I mean the erosion of common sense holiness is apparent!
In fact in an ethics class recently the instructor had to tell the class “When you pastor a church don’t invite the secretary to ride with you to the bank or to look at new carpet or anywhere else!” another stated “If you have a problem with internet pornography get help – and stop doing it” More than once I have seen praise teams, worship bands and church members whose apparel allowed me to see… more – actually much more than I should see.

While I do not believe that holiness has completely faded into oblivion I do believe it has taken a back seat or has been removed from the center stage – common ethics are no longer givens – the next generation has to be told about potential dangers, from leaders because they never learned them as basic ethics 101 - which perhaps could be the reason accusations are becoming more and more common! Interestingly enough Paul stated in (Romans 2:24) As it is written: "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you."

The notion was that the sins of God’s people where in some ways tarnishing the image of God among the heathen…
Have you considered how failures not only affect the church but those outside the church as well? I was not serving the Lord when Jimmy Swaggert fell – but I well remember it: he bashed Rock and Roll it seemed every Sunday, sending all us rockers to hell in his sermons… when news of his fall hit my ears – I confess it was damaging, when ministers fall, marriages fail, and churches split – make no mistake friends the world is watching, and yet another brick wall is built, another excuse supplied and another reason is gained to stay away from Jesus and the hypocrites that follow Him.

Over the next few weeks and days I’d like to deal with a few controversial topics relating to Godly principles. Certainly feathers will be ruffled and toes stepped on – and you (yes I am talking to you) may even disagree with my personal assessment.
Few are as avid against the destruction of legalism as am I, but we must equally understand that the ruse of covert Christianity is not consistent with the faith of our forefathers: Peter, James or Paul, nor is it is not consistent with the spread of our faith all around the world… Hugs are good, grace is glorious, but there’s value in an ole fashioned altar call from time to time…

Change Christianity from its original ingredients, and sooner than later its really not Christianity any more – I was once served meat loaf with and interesting twist, and honey I can tell you just because you call it meat loaf – that does not make it meat loaf – “I’ve had Meat Loaf, and this dear lady aint no Meat Loaf”

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I remember

Did the red seem a little more vibrant, the blue a little more precious, and the stars somehow more majestic on the US flag today?

They did for me, as I passed by the flag at Carbondale park flying at half mast this morning, and I admit it – tears formed in my eyes – it is a beautiful flag. I love my country so much, and as I reflected on the September 11th that tragically unfolded seven years ago… I realized it still hurts a little, and I am still a little upset over the whole thing… and still a little angry.

I am moved at the Twin Towers, on our soil, burning in the New York skyline, the people leaping from burning structures, on our soil, our US brothers and sisters, jumping to their death, and others who gave their lives in the hopes of saving some: fireman, policemen and ambulatory services succumbing to death all at the means of terrorists, and on our soil.

  • I have not forgotten them
  • I have not forgotten the killers who sinned against them, and us.
  • I have not forgotten the images of destruction, death and ruin.
  • I have not forgotten the threats, and cheers of Muslim extremists.
  • I have not forgotten the tears I cried on that day.
  • I have not forgotten the stories of those who lost family, those who survived, and the lives of children who lost their parents.
  • I have not forgotten the messages on answering machines of those who stated their last goodbyes
  • I have not forgotten the plane in the pentagon
  • I have not forgotten the plane in the field
  • I have not forgotten 9/11 and I hope I NEVER do.

I hope time does not dull the senses, time does not dull the resolve, time does not dull the memory of transgressors murdering innocent Americans… I hope time does not dull the feeling of my honored citizenship on that day when we as a country where one, we where honored, we where proud and patriotic! I hope time does not dull the reality of evil that exists in this world, and resolve that good must persevere!

I contend that 9/11 is the most significant event to occur in my life time… and perhaps the history of this nation, and though life continues, business is usual, and the world turns – I am today emotional; emotional over the date, emotional over the memory and emotional over the event… and today I remember! To the victims, the hero’s to dead, and to terrorists – I REMEMBER YOU!

September 11, 2001 ever ingrained in my spirit; I remember where I was, the station that was playing, and the spot in the road. I remember the scenes from the television, the call home and the days that followed…

Today take a moment to look at the flag, today take a moment to say a prayer for the fatherless, the widowed and the hurting, today take a moment to pray for our leaders… today take a moment to remember

Monday, September 8, 2008

My Review of "The Shack"

Okay – well here goes my spin on the book "The Shack". There has been a lot of buzz about the book. Some good some bad, some fair and some just down right rude!
The Shack is a novel by William P. Young, and the book has made quite a few waves in Christian circles. It has been on the New York Times best sellers list and at the time of this opine it is among the top ten at Amazon .com as well!

So what’s the deal - a whole host of reviewers have labeled the book as poorly written, while others have even called it “heresy” to the opposite extreme the highly respected Eugene Peterson, who is responsible for the Message Bible, stated:

"When the imagination of a writer and the passion of a theologian cross-fertilize the result is a novel on the order of The Shack. This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his. It’s that good!"
Eugene Peterson, Professor Emeritus Of Spiritual Theology,
Regent College, Vancouver, B.C.

Other churches claim to be giving the book away by the box loads, because it is so good… So who is right?
What do I think?

Well I read the book in a weekend and I loved it! I laughed and, admittedly, I cried, and felt the presence of God. I think the book is absolutely fantastic! It is the most unconventional, weird and outside the box Christian book I have ever read, and it made a profound impact on me! I cannot recommend it enough! READ THIS BOOK!

Now that being said is it the most theologically sound book on the market? No it is not, nor is that the intention of the author. The author’s intention is to show the love of God, and those who criticize the book based on its theological stumblings didn’t "get it" to begin with…

The book is not a discourse of doctrine; it is instead a journey through the soul of a broken man, who experiences the love of God. It is unconventional to be certain… but it is a beautiful exchange that shows a God who is not impressed, nor desires, for humanity to live in guilt, condemnation, and shame… With the constant nagging of "I’m not doing enough" Well: Hip Hip Hooray! It explores on an emotional level the acceptance of completion in Christ – a main theme of the apostle Paul by the way – which in a world of witch trials, seed- faith (sowing seeds for miracles) and other barterings with God – I further applaud- again "Hip Hip Hooray!"

For certain there are some portions of the book that are not absolutely 100% concrete correct, but the book challenges the Pharisee resident in all of us, it challenges us to instead of simply seeing, and abiding by the rules of the bible the book pushes us to the spirit of the law, instead of the regulations we are pushed to relationship – The relationship between God and man, and man and man… (one more time now all together "HIP HIP HOORAY")

Once again- I never said the book was perfect nor am I ready to trade in the ole KJV and inquire about the leather bound – gold leaf version of "The Shack" to astutly stuff under my arm on a Sunday morning! But my goodness I will contend my heart was enlightened, my spirit was lifted and my soul did rejoice!

Few books make a profound impact on me, in fact it is rare that I finish one, this one I finished, and it has left its mark. If you’re looking for the next series of Doctrinal Discourses on the Trinity, or The Finite Understandings of the Symbolism on the book of Revelation Accurately Explained – the book is certain to disappoint – if however you can open your mind and let your heart take a ride with a God who possibly loves us so much more than we imagined – I think you’ll enjoy the book (gee just for old times sake “HIP HIP HOORAY”)

A few concerns
To be fair in the latter chapters a discourse gives ever so slightly the appearance of universalism and the discerning eye will raise its brow– it does later however talk of the need for repentance and relationship with Jesus Christ…

The Trinity aspect is sometimes unique – and not always consistent – but lets say this word out loud together "FICTION"

Finally the subject recently came up in our discussion on Wednesday evening about God first appearing to Mack (the main character) as an overweight black woman, and how odd that was… to which came the quick rebuttal “But you don’t mind Him as a talking burning bush?”

God Bless you and I hope you enjoy the read!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Did Jesus Tell Us To Use His Name At Baptism?

The existence of the Apostolic Oneness Pentecostal belief system typically centers around one central verse: Acts 2:38, of which they interpret the entire Word of God through this one verse. This style of biblical interpretation causes great error, of which is clearly evident in their theology.
As time allows over the next few weeks I am going to deal with each "Oneness Pentecostal Misunderstanding" at a time and try and better clarify the true meaning of the verse and verses they have through the years distorted and abused for personal gain...

The assessment of the Oneness Pentecostal is that the Apostle Peter's wording in Acts 2:38 is that “JESUS” is the one name subscribed to the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

Apostolic believe that that Jesus spoke a cryptic mysterious riddle and the apostles understood the cryptic message of Jesus, that they where not to invoke the name of the Father, the Son and The Holy Ghost at baptism as Jesus said, but instead – this was a coded message to use the actual name "Jesus"!

Okay one issue at a time

1) Did Jesus ever speak in this code prior to this?

Matthew 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Mark 9:39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.

We can see that Jesus uses freely “my name” in the above texts to indicate that we are to use His actual name - so why now at such a crucial point of salvation does Jesus “mix it up” a bit? Why not be forthwith with it? Why all the code?

2) Is the name of the Father, JESUS?

Here is the crux of the matter – What we really have to determine is this one issue. Is the name of "Jesus" the name of the Father? It is critical because this is where the doctrine stands or falls. Jesus Name people/Oneness Pentecostals state JESUS is the one name of GOD revealed to humanity by which to call – Hence the name of the Father is JESUS, and the Holy Spirit is JESUS, and of course Jesus is JESUS.

The problematic scene we have – is biblically we do not see such a reality, the bible never tells us the name of Jesus is the one name of God

This causes us a problem with the Oneness interpretation of Acts 2:38.

There is no scriptural text to validate that the one name of JESUS is the one name ascribed to the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. In fact scripture contains distinctions such as those noted in the greetings to the Romans See Romans 1:1-7

(Rom 1:7) To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Again in 2 John 3 (2 John 1:3) Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

Such greetings and statements are VERY problematic for the oneness adherents; in fact in most cases such a greeting would not be welcome among oneness ranks, for its supposed Trinitarian implication.

Typically most of the text that is used to support this view are interpretational errors such as…

(John 5:43) I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible states…
John 5:43 - I am come in my Father's name,.... Power and authority; by his consent, with his will, and according to a covenant with him: Christ came not of himself, of his own accord, by a separate power and will of his own, but was called, and sent, and came by mutual agree meat; and brought his credentials with him, doing the works and miracles which his Father gave him to finish:

Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible states…
I am come in my Father’s name - With all his influence and authority. Among the rabbins, it was essential to a teacher’s credit that he should be able to support his doctrine by the authority of some eminent persons who had gone before. Hence the form, Coming in the name of another.

The most accurate rendition of this is “I am come in my Father’s authority, power and consent” not that the name of the Father is JESUS. You’ll find few biblical scholars who assume the text to mean anything more than the commentaries above have noted. Much like David stated

(1 Samuel 17:45) Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.

Meaning the power, authority and might of GOD, David was not implying that the name of the Father was DAVID!!! But under the exegesis of apostolics – we must assume this to be the meaning since they insist the same words spoken by JESUS to mean this very thing.

Another instance is seen here in (John 10:25) Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.

The greek word for “name” according to Strongs is:
G3686 ὄνομα
From a presumed derivative of the base of G1097 (compare G3685); a “name” (literally or figuratively), (authority, character): - called, (+ sur-) name (-d).

”Name” here could be figuratively or literally – but we see the two fold meaning
1) a “name
2) authority, character
It is scholarly assumed to mean: authority, character

Thirdly and one I often heard when I was a Oneness Pentecostal was the poor usage of Zechariah 14:9. Some assume the prophecy of Zechariah 14:9 to be fulfilled by the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ

It reads

Zechariah 14:9 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.

Insisting this prophecy has been fulfilled and that name is Jesus, oneness adherents often site this verse to establish the validity of their doctrine…

Lets look at the verse in context…

The chapter starts with this prophetic word

(Zechariah 14:2) For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

(Zechariah 14:3) Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.

(Zechariah 14:4) And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.

A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown

Zec 14:4 -

… The place of His departure at His ascension shall be the place of His return: and the “manner” of His return also shall be similar (Act_1:11). He shall probably “come from the east”…

John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Zec 14:1 - Behold, the day of the Lord cometh,.... Or the day when the Lord will come, both in his spiritual and personal reign; for this is not to be understood of his first coming in the flesh…

Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

One Lord, and his name one - There shall be in those blessed days, only one religion, and one form of religion. There shall not be gods many, and lords many. All mankind shall be of one religion, the essence of which is, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength; and thy Neighbor as thyself.”

Further the context states

Zec 14:11 And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.

Zec 14:12 And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.

Obviously this is a futuristic event and not a current reality! Therefore their use of Zechariah 14:9 is improper.

Oneness adherents have a real problem now, since we do not have the scriptural ability to attribute the name of JESUS CHRIST to the Father! In fact thier entire theology is debunked in this one little article!

Interestingly enough the bible actually tells us that Jesus Himself we receive a new name

(Revelation 3:12) Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

Oneness proponents for years have insisted that Jesus is the one name discussed in Zechariah and that Jesus spoke cryptically in Matthew 28:19 - the unfortunate reality is the rest of the bible does not support such a premise - Error results in any fringe group when a single verse becomes the cornerstone of their movement, and not the unchanging Word of God - the bible reminds us to take the WHOLE COUNSEL - not just a few pet verses

Monday, August 4, 2008

It Stinks To Be Stuck - PART ONE

Alright it's time to blog again - I have been swamped, and unable to write for a little bit - BUT I'M BACK WITH A VENGEANCE!

This is a five part series about being stuck in life - Based on the Hebrews 40 year adventure in the desert on the way to the promise land!


(Hebrews 3:12) See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.

(Hebrews 3:13) But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.

(Hebrews 3:14) We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.

(Hebrews 3:15) As has just been said:"Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion."[2]

(Hebrews 3:16) Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt?

(Hebrews 3:17) And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert?

(Hebrews 3:18) And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed[3] ?

(Hebrews 3:19) So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

Heb 4:1 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.

Heb 4:2 For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.[1]

Heb 4:3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.' "[2]

Heb 4:4 And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work."[3]

Heb 4:5 And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest."

Heb 4:6 It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience.

The bible tells us that the Hebrews Children where headed for the promise land… they where headed for that place where the land of milk and honey flowed .

That land of blessing…

The promise that God had procured for them. It was approx an 8 day trip….. However it took them 40 years! Talk about going the long way around! Shee

40 years they wandered through the desert
40 years they wasted time going around in circles…

40 years of the same scenery

How frustrating it must have been to be so close… yet never reaching their destination…

Do you ever feel that way? Like you're so close but just not quite there? Like you have been looking at the same ole scenery for way to long?

I want to talk to you about reaching the promise land, because perhaps you have left Egypt(so to speak)… You have accepted Jesus Christ as your savior, you have accepted the Lord as your king – you’re a follower of HIM… There has been powerful changes in your life, but yet, you feel stuck

You're stuck in the desert, you feel stuck, you act stuck, why, you look stuck!

Maybe you came from a family that is stuck, and they passed their "stuckness" on to you and you... well if things don't change you may pass your "stuckness"(Yes, I know that's not a word) onto your kids!

You don’t want to be stuck, you don’t like to be stuck, but still you are stuck, and you feel like you just might die stuck.

You feel like: I'm gonna die stuck in this place, I’m gonna die stuck with this face, I’m gonna die stuck!

and I don't have to tell you: it stinks to be stuck

I want us to look at the things that keep us stuck

Cuz the same things that kept them stuck in the desert, are the same things that keep us stuck today. We'll look at one element that keeps us stuck per article and work our way through

#1 Murmering

(Exodus 14:11) They said to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?

(Exodus 14:12) Didn't we say to you in Egypt, 'Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians'? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!"

(Exodus 14:13) Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.

(Exodus 14:14) The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."

They had already seen God move in mighty ways – yet they have become grumblers, complainers and murmers

In case you don't know – nobody, including God, likes a complainer

Complaining is bad

Complaining and grumbling keeps you stuck!

Some people all they do is complain. They have and maintain a poor out look on life, all they can see is the bad, and are quick to share how rough they have got it! It is poor me the moment they awake and they stay that way day after day after day.

hen you murmur and complain you are in effect telling God
  • Your plan and your work in my life is not satisfactory!
  • I don’t care for your way of doing things!

When we complain, we focus only on what’s wrong. Things may be mostly fine but complainers only talk about the problems, annoyances and peeves they perceive are ruining their lives!

The problem with being a complainer is your perception of the situation will look a lot worse than it really is. You'll actually retard or impair your ability to correctly view your life, and the challenges that come your way.

Another very serious issue is science has discovered that complaining is actually habit forming. You actually training your mind to look at the negative. Listen to that for a moment. It is a proven fact that the mind forms its own habits, it own cycle of thought.

Now we can break these cycles of thought but it takes purposed thinking to do so, it is not the immediate subconscious tendency(praise God - we can form good God like habits of subconscious thought too) I said all that to say this - the more you complain the more subconscious habits your are creating - this means your thought tendency will be that of depression, frustration and defeat!

That’s why Paul tells us to think about the good things

(Philippians 4:8) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

My favorite section of this verse is "if anything is excellent or praiseworthy"

If anything is excellent or praiseworthy - it gives me the impression that even if we have to dig down for something that is praiseworthy... scrape the bottom of the barrel for something praiseworthy, if there is "anything" at all- we need to think about that one thing!

(Exodus 16:2) In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.

(Exodus 16:3) The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the LORD's hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death."

In Jude the Bible talks about wickedness and it says:

(Jude 1:16) These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

How ironic that grumbling and fault finding is listed among wicked deeds - further more we are reminded again in Philippians

Ph'p:2:14: Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

Psychologist Martin Seligman showed the world in his research that people who see the world in a positive light have a long list of advantages - let me name a few :

  • They live longer

  • They’re healthier

  • They have more friends and better social lives

  • They enjoy life more

  • They’re more successful at work

All this just by thinking positive! How much more should we than world have the ability to THINK POSITIVE?

Tired of being stuck - I want to challenge you this week to refrain from grumbling and complaining - When the tendency arises - SHOOT IT DOWN with the power of the Spirit - whose tendency is life, love and faith...

Time to get "unstuck" one chain link at a time and from this day forward - you no longer grumble - you no longer complain - in fact you need to be the grateful and positive person you know~

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Over the memorial day weekend Gina and I renewed our vows! The ceremony was held at the Church In the Grove, at The Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. I have wanted to do this for awhile since Gina and I were not yet serving the Lord when we were originally married. So this was really special to me - to make this vow to one another and to God as well.

I worked hard to set this up as a complete surprise, but Gina was on to me, she had figured out what I was up to the night before... Though I never verified if she was guessing correctly!

The Church in the Grove is on the grounds of The Great Passion Play which has long been our favorite vacation spot since we where originally married some 12 years ago now... So it was the perfect location... the minister was Marvin Peterson, who believe it or not - ministers at a local Assemblies of God church - so that was a cool point of connection and Minister Peterson did a GREAT job - Gina and I were fortunante enough to make friends with he and his wife Kay after the ceremony, so I hope to further that friendship, they were both wonderful people!

As life would have it - artist Jack Dawson was in town that weekend, and we were able to meet him and he signed a print of his work entitled "Two Become One" which is a portrait of marriage... he has some great work - all his art is distinctly christian and has a powerful message- alot of which is on display at the Sacred Arts Center at the Great Passion Play.

Anyway I just wanted to share some of the love - we had an incredible weekend together and it was great to just share with each other in uninterrupted fashion love, spiritual insight and togetherness - You know life and business are so intrusive to a marriage... I am sure some of you have noticed that... it is amazing what setting some time aside just for each other can do to remind you how wonderful the person you married is... I am hoping you experience that today...

Well thanks Gina - for marrying me - again!

Also if you have never been to The Great Passion Play why? You're missing out!

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Most Dangerous Thing!

Oozing from the darkness it comes, lurking in the night, and creeping in the shadows, the clutches of its cold hands steal the life from its victims – no one is safe, no hiding place can be found – it knows where you are AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!

I love people! Talking to them, hanging out with them, and gaining their perspective. I have heard a number of different opinions on the most dangerous thing! That which is infiltrating Christianity and leading thousands to hell!!!

Just the other day I heard someone say – “The most dangerous thing in Christianity is legalism” then later that same day – I heard a preacher on the radio state “The most dangerous thing in Christianity today is this false grace message in the church!”

Hmmm how can two things be the MOST dangerous… I know for instance my wife is the “most beautiful” – She shares that title with no one, and I can think of none who match her beauty – for that cause she is the “MOST” – ( which denotes a singular position or as Encarta Dictionary states “the best of all” – but I digress – my theme is not the value or debate of the over use of “most” – nor the intense beauty of my wife - but instead to opinionate on what I believe to truly be the most dangerous thing, of which neither of the above mentioned(legalism or false grace) holds that title.

The most dangerous thing in Christianity is religion without love. There is nothing as heinous, dangerous and deadly as this. When we fail to operate in love, we get legalism, false grace, and all sort of other symptoms – all of which are only effect pointing to a root cause and lack of true love is that cause.

When we live in loveless faith the actions we perform are based on either mere duty or fear, neither of which is really all that pleasing to God …

(1 Corinthians 13:3) If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

(1 Corinthians 13:1) If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

Loveless faith produces strange doctrines, and church splits, immorality and gossip. Loveless faith is the root of symptoms like: prayerlessness and dull dry worship. Loveless faith is the reason we don’t read like we used to and witness like we once did… Love wanes… and when this happens we lose our burden for the lost, our compassion for others and our patience with the world, and the body of Christ!
Sadly some have only had religion, some denominations are founded on loveless faith, and when love is absent – fear is present – and fear and love – well they don’t mix! You see perfect love casts out fear

(1 John 4:18) There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

Interestingly enough some denominations are completely fear based, and do the things that they do based on fear… The disciples of those denominations often times are prophets of fear, breeding more prophets of fear, who breed more prophets of fear…

(Matthew 23:15) "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.

Lack of love creates pride, arrogance, selfishness and self centeredness… If you continually are asking “What about me?” – and “No one ever considers me” and other similar statements – You may be lacking in love…

(Matthew 5:44) But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
(Matthew 5:45) That ye may be the children of your Father …

(Luke 6:29) And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.
(Luke 6:30) Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
(Luke 6:31) And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
(Luke 6:32) For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.

How Important is all this?
What is the most important commandment? Studies reveal that many have stated
- Thou shalt not kill
- Thou shalt not commit adultery

As being the top two, however interestingly enough neither are correct! Instead the most important commandment is LOVE

(Matthew 22:36) Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
(Matthew 22:37) Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
(Matthew 22:38) This is the first and great commandment.
(Matthew 22:39) And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
(Matthew 22:40) On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

See when you have love you wont kill, steal or commit adultery – you wont be legalistic, nor will you be involved in false grace – because love:

is not self-seeking
it keeps no record of wrongs.
rejoices with the truth
it is not easily angered
Love is patient
love is kind

You can find all these attributes of love in 1 Corinthians 13…
How is your love life anyway? You know what I mean – Are you loving?
Loving in your relationships with friends and foes?
Loving in your worship?
Loving in your bible reading?
Loving in your marriage?
Loving in your doctrines?

Its worth asking since all the law and all the prophets hang on love

Friday, May 2, 2008

Lopsided to Learning

Cleaning the Cup – Part two – De-spiritualizing the Faith
Lopsided to Learning

Recent studies have shown that Christianity which accompanies the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and the act of Glossolalia(speaking in Tongues) is one of the fastest religions/faiths in the world! Well, praise the Lord, that is excellent news! However further study and evidence details that the practice, doctrine and personal experience of this event is actually declining among long time Pentecostal denominations… That seems almost contradictory!
In my research however I have found some unique substantiation of such views! Why these elements exist I don’t know, perhaps there are circumstances that skew the data collected, in any event I can personally attest that to some the element of Spirit in faith while not shunned is certainly not chased or strongly desired.
There is no substitute for knowledge. Without a doubt we quickly understand that knowledge possess power and is critical to the growth, potency, and longevity of the faith. In fact Paul admonishes us:

(2 Timothy 2:15) Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Wholeheartedly I concede to the wisdom of scripture and the critical need for its application and understanding, after all Paul again instructs us:

(2 Timothy 3:16) All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

Equally we must further understand there is no substitute for the Spirit of God, and His active presence in our lives.

For these the Word and the Spirit are merely two halves of one whole! Greater credence given to one than the other creates an imbalance, an unharmonious blend, which creates an unfortunate deficiency.

(John 4:24) God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

This in mind, perhaps one of the shortcomings to which we voluntarily succumb is we are more given to knowledge, lopsided to learning, and we have not given ample credence to the move of the Spirit.
We are inundated, over-whelmed; covered up with books, series, programs and teachings. Certainly the market contains more product than any person can digest! For every fear, circumstance and question, a book has been written, and thank God for it, I take no issue with knowledge… But knowledge alone will not, cannot, and has not been possessed singularly with the power to change, heal and deliver. In fact by design that is not the job of knowledge alone, it contains a powerful partner… the Spirit.

For this cause Jesus spent a great deal of time teaching the disciples, but they were commanded not to do anything until they became infused with the Spirit! What a potent truth this is! Knowledge was not enough!

Consider the Spirit’s job - He produces within us
(Galatians 5:22)
(Galatians 5:23)

Again we are told
(Galatians 5:16) This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

(John 16:13) But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.

Consider the gifts that accompany the Spirit of God

(1 Corinthians 12:7) But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
(1 Corinthians 12:8) For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
(1 Corinthians 12:9) To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
(1 Corinthians 12:10) To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

Words of wisdom
Word of knowledge

Just to name a few! Wow! That is some powerful stuff! Imagine operating as a body in the gifts of the Spirit, not just in the service, but as equally important in our communities as well! We’d turn the world upside down!

No wonder Paul tells us

(Galatians 5:25) Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

(Ephesians 4:30) And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God

(1 Thessalonians 5:19) Quench not the Spirit.

Let’s expand that a bit. Imagine this power in operation in you as a: Father, a Mother, or an employee… As a husband a wife, or a neighbor…

The Spirit is in operation in our lives, not just at our services, He is ever present, all the time! Let Him invade your everything! Your personal life, your love life, your parenting, or your checkbook, in all things! We are supposed to be spiritual beings, filled with the Holy Spirit, functioning in His abilities and directions! … in Him we move, we live, we breath and have our being…

Look at these scriptures for the very personal relationship others had with the Spirit

(Acts 15:28) For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;

(Acts 16:6) Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,

Do you see the interpersonal relationship being presented here?
For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us
were forbidden of the Holy Ghost

We have the Spirit working with, speaking to and directing the paths of the early church…

Imagine for a moment, giving the Spirit freedom in your life, allowing Him permission to function in every area… Letting the Spirit out of the box! Giving attention to His presence in little and big ways and opening our minds up enough to accept the supernatural!

Hearing His voice
Feeling His presence
Seeing His hand in our circumstances

It’s possible; actually it: “is” – it is a reality, it is an absolute - when we allow it.

Open yourself to Him. He is in you… Feel His presence, His guidance, His unction… He is the comforter, the teacher and He guides our steps…


Lets get Spiritual… Let us walk in the Spirit, lets us as Paul said: live by the Spirit, and keep in step with the Spirit.

There is within you, by the power of God, receptors, antennae for the Holy Spirit… its time to tune… He who hath an ear let Him hear what the SPIRIT saith!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Cleaning the Cup - Part One

Okay as you read this I am sorry I don’t have some elaborate study or dissertation on Grace, Faith, God or the Trinity in this post. I have been too swamped to do one of the things I enjoy immensely and that is to simply write. To share via keyboard my thoughts, theologies, and opinions! That being said – Let me quickly and simply state a small item of interest with you – in the changing of my mind regarding our culture today.

WARNING – you may be offended!

I find oddly that often times my mind develops a disposition and attitude towards a particular subject – it fully develops into action, disposition and perspective and it becomes ingrained eternally in my mind – THEN – God comes along and blows the whole thing away with His insight!

For some time now we have lamented of the attitude, prejudice and disposition of secular society’s growing intolerance for Christianity. Rightly so, for in many ways we are public enemy number 1 for an ever growing biased liberal agenda, and we, the Church, don’t like it!

Across the nation pulpits preach of such injustices, sins and unfair attacks on us – the Christians! A case I don’t dispute, “Preach on Brother!”

However in my ranting to God (yes, sometime I rant to God) He illuminated, quite brightly the source of their prejudice.


God “Why do you think they feel as they do?”

Craig: “ummm”

God: “Well since you have so many opinions on it – you must know?”

Craig: “Well I – because – um – it must be the devil?”

God: “Craig, the Church merely tastes the fruit of their own seed”


Think about it for a moment. Let’s take a look at some of the things the church has displayed for public viewing! We don’t need to go as far back as the Salem Witch Trials; we could, but let’s keep it a bit more contemporary!

In the last 20 years or so, many a pulpit on the public platform has been filled with hell fire and brimstone preachers who have, preached, ranted even, on the sins of rock music, loose living and the robbing of God… only to see those words become a seeming ruse in the eyes of the world, as these same prophets are found to be entangled in a web of prostitution, philandering and lies.

The world has seen others who have preached on the sacredness of marriage and finance, skillfully enumerating on the principles of purity, and then were discovered to be trysting with ministry secretaries and retarding financial records for personal gain.

The stage of humanity has witnessed the holy and celibate Catholic Priest who trust and confidence has been bestowed only to reveal the heartbreak as some have engaged in abuse and pedophilia.

Family Rights Preachers who have shouted the truth of moral conduct and integrity, from our platforms, behind Cross- laden pulpits, ensconced in stained glass, then grace the front page with stories of drugs and homosexuality.

How would you feel?

Perhaps you too would have your confidence in the Church, the message and the God they espouse to be a tad suspect, or shaken? Our image has been a bit dirtied; it has unfortunately lost some of its credibility, and shine. Yes, my siblings in Christ, we have been set at a disadvantage, so its time to knock that ole chip off… our culture has been damaged to some degree, not by the message, but by some who carried it.

Regardless of the contents, a poorly washed glass, even in the finest restaurant – makes even the most wonderful beverage intensely suspect.

The platform of our message is not as tied to it’s delivery as it is to the integrity of the vessel delivering it! You and I need to find the heart of God for people, the heart of God for society and begin to minister from His heart, with His passion, with His concern, and His love for purity.

The use of commercialized Christianity is over! The Church has to start operating in the values of Jesus Christ! NOT Commercial Christianity!

You and I need to make a complete and final decision regarding the importance of our integrity and our purity in the salvation of others, and our ministry.

Billy Graham realized that even one moral failure on his part, could possibly cost the salvation of thousands. The message it sent might supersede all the others he had labored so arduously to deliver.

Somehow we have to come out from the white washed pillars

Somehow we have to come out from the white washed pillars and stained glass into the streets and the homes of those who have no hope and have wrongly assumed Christians are hypocritical, superficial and greedy.

It is time to move past the pulpiteers

Past professional preachers

To those who desperately are seeking the heart of God, and the lost!

Relationships of love and service must be our greatest sermons, truth, purity and righteousness our most elaborate jewels!

I don’t pretend this is any small task. Certainly this requires love like we have yet to imagine, work that we have yet to engage, sacrifice that we have not before suffered, and effort we have yet to have toiled. But we can do it… CORRECTION – We must do it!

As Jesus cried over Israel, we realize He wept at their unbelief, their deception, and lost state. This disposition is seen most prominent, during their violent repudiation of Him – as He uttered
“forgive them Father for they know not what they do”

Those words came from our Christ while nailed to our cross.

However it was this condition of humanity that I believe oft times was His motivation. As the old song goes – “When He was on the Cross, we where on His mind.”

With this thought I forgive society for their feelings of anger towards the Church whom they have incorrectly perceived as the exact likeness of God, along with those who in time past have unfortunately fallen and brought reproach. I have no intention of crying over spilled milk, or of blaming those mentioned whom may have made the road ahead harder than perhaps it had to be, all is under the blood.

In like manner to whom do we beseech forgiveness:
Society for failing to be the servant Jesus Christ called us to be?
God: for using His Name, and Gospel for gain, institution and profit?
To God for using Holiness as a means of propagating and forcing our particular prejudice and preference?
To the Word, for twisting its phrases to abuse, injure and harm the hearts of those it was given to deliver?

For those of us who have been commissioned by Jesus to go and make disciples, preach to every creature…a word with you, if I may…

You in many ways are the message and image of God to so many, some you may never even realize.

I am amazed at times the comments I hear from those who have been impacted by the actions of others, both positive and negative, and the impact it has had on their spiritual condition… Truly we are living epistles

(2 Corinthians 3:3) clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.

The moist poignant and effective sermon is not the one preached by Word, but by life and action. The truth of that statement is so powerful and forceful! You’ve heard it before, and I fear its commonality has dulled its force.
Until my next installment... Keep the faith!

Monday, January 21, 2008

On the Verge, or afraid to Merge?

On the Verge, or afraid to Merge?

(1 Peter 2:9) But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:

Each morning I drive to work, and along my journey two highways intersect, and we the driver, are channeled through what is known as a “merge lane”. Now, this sounds as simple as it’s aptly named, all one must do is merge. However, invariably there in the lane made for the “merge” is someone STOPPED, yes that’s right someone is STOPPED IN THE MERGE LANE, their blinker is racing treating the merge lane, like a stop sign or a point in which to yield …

Don’t they get it? They’re not supposed to be stopped, waiting, or yielding!!! They are supposed to MERGE!!!

“PUNCH THE GAS LADY, AND MERGE!” I think to myself or vocalize in the privacy of my automobile…

What keeps people from merging?

Are the insecure?

Do they not feel it’s safe?

Do they not feel ready to do so?

Well there’s a lesson here for sure! I think in some ways it is what keeps us from victory, destiny and purpose… For we are either on the verge, or we’re afraid to merge.

What keeps us from traveling roads that we so desire to travel, from taking land that we want to take…

What keeps us from victory? What keeps us from a breakthrough, from a revival, from a real move of God? What holds us back?

Well, one thing I am certain of is it cannot be God. For through the ages since the dawn of creation it is easy to see from all the work the Lord has invested in us, His creation that God wants to move!

1) God desires to perform His work with us, not without us!

From the Tabernacle, to the cross, from the resurrection to the ascension, from Pentecost to the living Word! We have witnessed a God, who desires to move among us, His people. He desires to interact, and empower you and me, so that we can do great things!

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, prophesied in Joel, poured out in the upper room, manifest in millions of believers all over the world since the day of Pentecost is proof that God desires to work through us, and has made the provision to do so!

In fact Jesus stated the same anointing that was on Him is going to be on you and I, and as many as the Lord our God shall call. That is proof that God desires to work among us

From the men such as Abraham, Moses, Noah, to men like Peter, Paul and Silas, it is clear and evident that the desire of God is to empower His people for service.

Remember God said you shall be endued with power from on high and you shall be witnesses unto me… to the uttermost parts of the earth!

It was God who said

(Jeremiah 29:11) For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD , "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Why however do we still seem to be in such lack, regarding a move of God?

Why are our altars not overwhelmed?

Why are our pews not crowded?

Why are we not making more noise in our city?

Well Consider the apprehension of humanity.

2) Because the typical first response of the prophet is to run from the call of God.

In every move of God, God had to deal with “apprehension” and that in one of two forms:

1) laziness or 2) insecurity..

I am sure there’s a more eloquent way of wording this, but by and by, these two road blocks are the biggest obstacles.

Consider the all great bible hero’s!

Gideon, the valiant warrior who fought with great faith!

Moses, the deliver escorting the Israelites from the clutches of Egypt the tyrannical enslavers!

Peter of whom the first church was lead!

Jonah, the fiery evangelist to Nineveh!

All of them were men of meager means, and lives, all of them ran, before God made them giants.

For seldom does God choose the noblemen of this world to be the leaders of His battalions, it is those of seemingly little consequence that He plucks from the vineyard of normalcy and then ripens them to greatness!

He has used men and woman worse than, less talented than, and more fearful than you and I…

And through them He has

Split seas

Slain armies

Raised the dead

Through them He has done mighty acts, moved heaven and earth, changed nations and called out a church of every people and tongue! What mighty things God can do through His people!

Christian apprehension for the most part, is due to our lack of confidence in who we are, or what we can be? This is a grave error, one that God often has to correct first, before He can use us, and before he could use the men I just mentioned

We must be forced to see, what God is capable of doing in spite of faults, and shortcomings! A critical lesson is learned.

The weakness of men, platforms the power of God!

(2 Corinthians 12:10) …. for when I am weak, then am I strong.

It is when we are most weak that God can show the greatness of His strength!

It is in that, that we are most inept that sets the stage for the anointing! That platforms a real move of God!

The struggle God had with Moses, Gideon and others is training them not to look to themselves as the answer, the power, or the solution.

We have never been the solution…

We have never been the answer

Jesus is the answer!

Why is that so hard to learn?


3) We all have that within us that desires to do something great, something special, something noteworthy.

We have falsely labeled that desire as “ambition” and unfortunately, many times, it becomes little more than that.

How sad some settle for mere stardom, fame and fortune. They spend their lives chasing lights, and sound stages… When what waited for them was the real purpose God designed for them. The fire of doing His will.

Some have wasted away, famine’d by the chasing of stardom, and magazine covers… Certainly this sheds new light on why some, who seem to have it all…




And having attained the dream they become such a mess, doped up, drugged up, depressed, lost and suicidal!


Because they sought to fulfill the God impregnated desire within them to be something special… by means of worldly treasures.

Their failure to interpret that as worldly gain instead of Godly purpose produced within them despair, feeling unfulfilled, and lost, and many times suicidal…

I promise you God has a plan, and that plan for you was designated before your conception… and nothing will fill that void. Not money, not fame, not notoriety…

So go ahead… man, woman, whomever you are…PUNCH THE GAS AND MERGE!…. Move into the flow of God, get on destiny’s road. There’s a highway or purpose ready for your wheels man, so get the pedal to the metal and start livin the life the Lord has designed!