THE CHURCH UNITED


church1Corinthians 1: 10 – 12
10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,[a] in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas[b]”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
I was blessed recently by the addition of Daystar Television to the “free” lineup of antenna stations available in my area. As I perused the programming, I began to realize that nothing has really changed since Paul’s time. Even with all of the information available to us in this modern, techno age, we still cling to whatever teaching tickles our fancy and run in the direction of the “spirit-led wisdom” of whoever agrees with us the most. The more persuasive and dynamic the speaker, the more believable they appear to us to be.
Let’s first take a look at the subject of the Blood Moon.
One teacher from a large church in San Antonio says that the Blood Moons represent the beginning of the tribulation and the rapture of the church. Another teacher, with a worldwide ministry based in Ohio, says that the Blood Moons represent the year of jubilee in which all who are faithful will prosper beyond their wildest dreams. So who is right? If we Christians are to be raptured before the tribulation (immediately following the fourth Blood Moon in 2015) then how can we possibly enjoy the bounty of financial prosperity?
Every weekday morning, a former (and once again restored) tele-evangelist has a variety of guests on his program touting the importance of disaster preparedness. The entire program seems to be a gimmick to sell generators and freeze dried foods. Every Sunday morning a well-known tele-theologian and his wife tell us how our government is turning against the Christian population and ushering in the end of the age. Both men have countless scriptures and news reports to validate their views. The former seems to be appealing to the Christian community to be prepared, while the latter appears to be reaching out to the non-believers in an attempt to bring them into the fold. Both are very dynamic in their approach and knowledgeable in scripture and prophecy, yet they rely on fear to spread the “good news” of the Gospel.
On any given Saturday or Sunday, throughout the world, you can find church doors opened and people worshiping the same God. (In this I mean those who are in keeping with the Christian faith.) The variety of doctrines is almost as numerous as the stars in the sky. Each “Fellowship” feels that they are the only ones who have rightly divided the scriptures and the others have either missed something or added too much.
You can attend a somber, liturgical ceremony, or a raucous and lively worship service with fog and lasers designed to usher you into the throne room of God. You can be a part of a group who holds to the Old Testament dietary laws and Sabbath regulations, believes in Salvation through Jesus Christ, and teaches strongly on the end time prophetical interpretation of Ellen G. White. You can find a group who believes that the New Covenant does away with the Old Testament entirely and adheres strictly to teachings from the New Testament. You can hear teaching that God is all love and no judgment. You can give all you have expecting a 100 fold return. You can look for signs and wonders or perform them yourself (with the help of the Holy Spirit, of course) or you can discount the Holy Spirit all together, as being something that was only meant for the early church. In other words, nothing has changed since Paul’s time.
Even after this letter to the Corinthians, the church suffered divisions in teachings with the rise of the Gnostics and the teachings of Marcion. In the late second century, a consensus was reached concerning the teachings and the Canon of scripture. This brought us the term “catholic” which means “according to the whole” so that all people who held to the group doctrine could be included, and to dispel the heretical teachings of the others. This name (catholic) was not a separate sect within the ecumenical community, but the final word on what was truth. Unfortunately, even this was corrupted by man for political and financial gain, until the Lutheran Reformation caused another division in the church. It would almost seem that church unity was destined to fail from the beginning. The farther we have gotten from the source (date and individuals directly responsible for the scriptures) the more confusing the message has become to those we are trying to reach. And where does this leave us?
Maybe it is time to get back to the basics. Back to the simplicity of the three questions asked of all who were baptized in the early church:
Do you believe that God is the Father Almighty?
Do you believe in Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who was born of a virgin through the Holy Spirit, who was crucified, and died, and rose again on the third day, living from among the dead, who ascended unto heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father, and will come to judge the quick and the dead?
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit and the resurrection of the flesh?
These are the questions that need to be answered for the unbeliever. These are the answers that they must come to terms with. This is the basis of our faith. If we cannot answer these questions ourselves, how can we ever expect anyone to make a decision? Yes, there are a lot of other teachings in the Word of God. There are guidelines for healthy and productive living. There are guidelines for financial and relationship management. All of these teachings are helpful in daily life, but some teachers get so caught up in the side issues that they forget about the basics.  It all comes down to these three questions in one. Do you believe in God the Father, Jesus the Son of God and the reality of the Holy Spirit?
1Corinthians 1: 20 – 25
20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
© Simply Consider This, 2014.

Nebuchadnezzar’s Statue


Nebu-Statue-04-NamesDaniel 2:
40 Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. 41 Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay.
42 As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.
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As our government tries to homogenize our society, the strength of the nation breaks down into a fragmented, diverse and incongruous mixture of iron and clay.  The farther we get from the Christian beliefs on which this country was founded, the less likely we, as a nation, are to stand together on any issue; whether it concerns health, wealth, defense or freedom. We must not replace Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone that this country‘s foundation was laid upon.  A house divided against itself WILL fall, just as the feet of a statue made of clay and iron will crumble and fall. In much the same way as  The Holy Roman Empire has fallen, so shall the United States become the next “Great Nation” to cause its own demise by implementing self-reliance and negating the necessity for God.
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44 “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.
45 This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.

HOPE, ACCEPTANCE, COMPLACENCY, AND PEACE


 

perfect worldHOPE:
Io expect with confidence

ACCEPTANCE:
Belief in something

COMPLACENCY:
A feeling of contentment or self-satisfaction, especially when coupled with an unawareness of danger, trouble, or controversy.

PEACE:
A state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations:

When we hope, we have the expectation that what we hope for will come to pass.

If we follow the doctrine that God has everything under control, then we must accept the outcome of our hope when the results are in.

When we accept the outcome of our hope as God’s will, we live our lives within the comfort of complacency.

Living within the comfort of complacency affords us a peace beyond understanding.

We must accept the fact that all that happens, happens for a reason, is according to God’s will,  and there is nothing that we can do to change it.  After all, who are we to question God?   He is omniscient.  If God doesn’t know what is going on, then who does?
Once we accept the fact that all that happens is God’s will, we must be content with the outcome.  We may not agree with the outcome, but it is what it is, and we must accept it.
Hope relies on faith and faith relies on trust.  If we do not place our trust in God, then we have no hope.  If the hope we claim is not based on trust, then we have no relationship with the God we call our Father.
How, then, can we have Hope in the Father?
Trust that what He tells us is Truth,  Accept the outcome as His will and be Complacent with that outcome.
Then, and only then, will we have Peace in our lives.

HOPE


wings“How are you?’
“Doin’ great.  Nobody’s told me any different so far.”

When I was younger, I thought I could do just about anything I set my mind to do.  I didn’t think I was invincible, but I thought the possibilities were endless.  More importantly, I wasn’t afraid to try new things.  I had to learn about my limitations the hard way–through experience–and no one could talk me out of trying.  Just because they couldn’t do it didn’t mean I couldn’t get it done.  If they said it was impossible, it became a challenge not an obstacle.  What happens to that “I can do this” attitude as we get older?
I am reminded of the movie, Finding Nemo, when Nemo’s father tells him, “You think you can do these things, but you can’t.”  How many times do we let everyone around us dictate what our capabilities are?
I had a high school guidance counselor tell me that I would never amount to anything and I would definitely never get into college. That statement just made me more determined to show him that he was wrong.  I did go to college and did finish a degree.  It took me twenty-five years but I got it done.  That may have been what his goal was in telling me that, but he wasn’t alone in his statement.  Throughout my early years I had several influential people telling me basically the same thing.  My mom was the best at it.  It really wasn’t her fault.  She couldn’t picture herself doing something, so how could I?  Then I had to go out and prove that I could do it just to show her that one of us could get it done.
But now I am older and I have learned my limitations.  It is easier for me to believe that there are things I can not do.  Of course, there are things I would not try to do at my age.  One thing I have always wanted to do was to run up to the side of a building, take two or three steps up the wall and execute a back flip, landing on my feet.  I may have to skip that one, but I still consider it from time to time.  Like Clint Eastwood’s line from Magnum Force, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”
It all comes down to believing.

Mark 9:23 Jesus said to him, If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.

Luke 1:37 For with God nothing will be impossible.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Now I know that these particular scriptures are so over quoted that they are nearly thread bare, but simply consider this:

To have hope you must believe in something.  Believing builds your faith.  If YOU believe, it is possible.  It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

Without hope it is impossible to believe.  Without believing it is impossible to have faith.  Without faith you have no hope and nothing to believe in.

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.

WHEN LIFE HAS SUCKED THE LIFE OUT OF YOU


at wits endWhen life has sucked all the life out of you
When there is nothing you can say
When there is nothing you can do
When overwhelmed by more than you can stand
When all emotions are emptied from inside
When your heart is so heavy with grief
When in the night there is no sleep
When all you have tried has failed
When all around you portrays hell
Storm’s raging turmoil
Tortures the essence of your being
There is no comfort to be found
Darkness will not relent, determined to destroy
Weariness encamps around about you
Like fountains overflowing, tears freely fall

Broken, bruised the spirit cries out to be heard
Desperate the soul bitterly weeps for peace
Jesus, Jesus, whispered oh so tenderly
From lips that can barely speak
I worship You, Oh Holy One
I worship You, Oh Holy One
In the midst of this raging storm
I worship You
Knowing there is nothing the soul it’s self can repair
There is nothing the spirit by it’s self can restore
But God, Your presence, Your presence!
It is all I have, it is all I need
It is my all in all –
The world swirls around my mind
Blinding my eyes from Your beauty –

Jesus!  Jesus!  Cries my heart – come sweet Holy Spirit
Come!!  Come to this desert place in which I dwell
Come rain, Come rain gently
Your peace upon this parched wounded heart
Seeking solace, Seeking You
I know You will be found
It is there, there in You alone
My soul finds peace, my spirit is restored
It is there in Your presence, Oh my God!
Oh my Savior, My King,
The Restorer, the Life Giver!
I come seeking You and only You!
I come, I come waiting, I come praising
I come to worship You – longingly
Oh My God longing for You!!
Refreshing renewal, like rain to the thirsty ground
You come to me
Drinking in Your Presence – I breathe in once again, Life
Rising up from the ashes, soaring like the eagle
You Oh God, have given me wings to take flight
With You I soar, with You I find relief
Nothing can ever compare
Oh the sweetest of Your Presence!

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.

DISTRACTION


distDistract– from Webster’s Dictionary
archaic : insane, mad
a : to turn aside : divert <refused to be distracted from her purpose> b : to draw or direct (as one’s attention) to a different object or in different directions at the same time <was distracted by a sudden noise> 2 : to stir up or confuse with conflicting emotions or motives
Medical Definition of DISTRACTION
1a : diversion of the attention b : mental derangement

I sat down in front of my computer to write.  I needed to get my laundry done.  I needed to take out the trash. I needed to figure out what I was going to wear to work today.  I needed to check my bank account online and make sure nothing was happening that wasn’t supposed to.  I wanted to look at Facebook and check my emails to see if there was anything there that needed my attention. I wanted to look for jobs in case there was something better out there that I could qualify for.  I needed to give the dog a bath. I wanted to go downstairs to look at the weather on TV.  I still needed to get something to eat and take a shower before I left for work.
I went and sat out on the front porch to collect my thoughts and organize my day.  With everything I thought I wanted and needed to do, I was exhausted.  I didn’t have enough time to get it all done. I went back upstairs, turned off the computer and laid down for a nap.  There was always tomorrow to write.  I was too busy today.
How many times has this happened to you?  You set out to do one thing and two hundred others come up or come to mind.  Unless you are one of those who can “multitask,” pretty soon everything overwhelms you and you end up getting nothing done.
My wife is one of those who can multitask quite well.  She calls it multitasking, I call it watching a squirrel on crack.  She  can start cleaning in one room and walk into another, see something that needs to be done, start on that, walk into another room and do the same thing.  Soon she has six or seven things going (half done) and somehow can manage to finish them all sometime that day..  I usually leave the house or go upstairs just to get out of the “confusion.”
Usually, if I cant finish a project within an allotted amount of time, I don’t start.  I want to devote my full attention to something or not at all.  One thing at a time.  If I start a house cleaning project it is one room at a time, or one task like vacuuming. Once that is completed then it is on to the next. I suffer from OSAD (Organizational Simplicity Attention Disorder). If I start thinking about something else, its over.  Too many thoughts and I retreat to my nothing box. Once I start worrying about something, I give it my full attention and the original task never gets completed.
Matthew 6:25-34
[ Do Not Worry ] “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
I find it interesting that one of the definitions of distract and distraction is insanity.  If you don’t keep to the project at hand, getting sidetracked and derailed with the least little thing, sooner or later it will make you feel like you cant get anything done.  Worrying about things is just a distraction, a supplant of the evil one to stir up or confuse with conflicting emotions or motives. It can make you goofy.

SHIPWRECKED


shipDoes anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours? — from “The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot 1976.

Day 35
My passengers are surprisingly calm.  We haven’t seen the sunshine for days. It  has been raining for over a month.  I’ve never seen anything like it. Just one more week and we can all get off this ride.  I know its going to be tough when we land.  We wont know anyone–there probably wont be anyone to know.  We will just have our family to rely on, and to be quite honest, they are getting pretty edgy.  At least I know that God is with us or we wouldn’t be here now.
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I got on the boat heading the opposite direction from where I knew I was supposed to go.  Everything was going good until the storm came up and then the crew started getting all superstitious about why they were getting pummeled by the storm.  I knew it was my fault they were in this fix, so I told them to throw me overboard.  I don’t think I’ll ever eat fish again.

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I new I was supposed to get on that boat.  Everything in me said, “Get there at all costs.”  Now this big storm comes up and the crew is terrified.  I knew that even if the ship collapsed, everyone on the ship would be safe, or at least live through it.  I kept telling them that, and when the ship did capsize, every one ended up on the shore.  A little worse for the wear, but alive and well.

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We all knew he was tired.  I mean, c’mon. The guy had been teaching and healing for days on end.  It seemed like he could go forever, but we all knew that sooner or later he would need some rest.  We were just headed across the lake.  A quick trip for us seasoned fishermen.  Then came the biggest storm we had seen in a long time.  It just seemed to come out of nowhere.  We were all sure we were going to drown, and we didn’t want him to drown in his sleep, so we tried to wake him up.  My goodness, he was tired.  I thought at that point he could sleep through anything.  Finally, he woke up and told the wind and waves to be still.  I don’t know what we were worried about with him in the boat.

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No matter what storms come against the boat you are in, God is still there to protect you and set your feet on solid ground.