THE CONVERSATION


father and son

Daddy, why do you live here?
Because my job is here.
But, why not somewhere else?
Because what I do is important to the people here?
But, why wouldn’t you be important to other people somewhere else?
Because there are other people in other places that are just as important to the people there.

Daddy, why do I do wrong sometimes?
Because you have a choice, and sometimes you choose the wrong thing.
But, why do I choose the wrong thing?
Because you don’t know any better, or because you think it’s right at the time.
But, why don’t you stop me?
Because if you don’t make mistakes, you’ll never learn.

Daddy, why do you love me?
Because you’re my child.

Daddy, why do you know so much?
Because I’ve been around a long, long time.
Daddy, why should I believe everything you say?
Because I said so.

© Simply Consider This, 2014.

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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.

THE GIANT AND THE STONE


dngFamiliar story to most people, of course it is about David and Goliath.  What an awesome story!  The seemingly under dog, (David) beats the snot out of the big bully, (Goliath). In fact he took his head, literally.   I have heard many sermons preached on this story…. many.   Sermons on how to face your giants, God uses even a boy, when God is on your side, how big is your faith and many more.
However, as I was reading it again for the umpteenth time…the Holy Spirit gave me a new perspective that made an impact.  He said to me, “This is how I want you to pray.  With tenacity, boldness, and confidence in who I AM.  For My Word never fails.”   It must have struck a chord, or why would my heart begin to understand exactly what that meant.
These are just some observations from the story…. just thoughts that came to mind as I was going over the chapter.

1)      Know who you are in Christ – David knew who he was, what he meant to God, and where their relationship stood, he understood who God was.  David was just an ordinary guy, a young lad who worked for his Dad tending sheep. He wasn’t presumptuous or arrogant, he was who he was, going about everyday life, doing what he was supposed to do…tending the sheep. He did his job, rescuing the sheep, finding the lost wandering ones, guiding them from one pasture to another, protecting them from the lion and the bear.  Must have been a boring job…c’mon, this is sheep we are talking about here.  But instead of complaining about it, David spent the time with God.  Playing music, singing and praising the Lord.  Don’t you think that a relationship happened when there is time spent doing that?  David ministered to the Lord. He began to find out who God is, who he was and the connection between the two of them became strong.  David knew God.

2)      Be Bold – David was trained for this day with the bear and the lion. He had training in the field protecting the sheep.  This was not a wimps job. It was hard work.  He learned how to use the sling and the staff.  He learned about dangerous encounters, but they were small compared to what He was facing now. He knew what he was capable of because this was not his first rodeo, so to speak.  Therefore, he was confident in the abilities God had given him because of those small victories (with the lion and bear), because of the past experiences with God being at his side, he knew with God all things are possible. David stated to King Saul, “ The Lord who delivered me out of the paw of lion and the bear, HE will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.  Before that statement he said, this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them (lion & bear) for he has defied the armies of the living God. Bold statement.  Bold claim. David was bold in the Lord his God.

3)      Believe  –  David showed no fear, when the armies of Israel shook in their booties.   David was not afraid of the giant, why?  Why did he not fear like his comrades?  Because he trusted and believed in the Lord God of Israel.  In fact he mocked Goliath, by asking those around him, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, who dares defy the armies of the Living God?” What a  statement! The men that were around him, thought he was being cocky, who is this kid who thinks that Goliath is a push over? Cocky, not at all.
David called it as he saw it.  David declared who God was, he declared God was bigger than the “enemy”, bigger than the giant they faced.  Wow, look at how much David believed in his God!  When there is that much trust and faith, you not only can kill the giant, but the Lord said you can move the mountain.  Believe, God is able to do what he said he would do. Take Him at His Word… literally.  David had in him, the “holy boldness” Christ has given to us.  Not once did David declare he was mister wonderful, here to save you pitiful people from the big bad bully.  David knew who his God was, knew if God is for us, who then can stand against us…he knew God, he totally believed in God, so much so, he staked his life on it.

4)        Step out – I love how this story shows David, who was not afraid to step out in front, out in front!  He stepped out and put himself  between the giant and the armies of Israel – he took up an offensive/defensive stance.  He did not hide behind a big rock or behind shields of armor – nor did he have anyone going before him.  When King Saul tried to place on David “his armor”, David was not able to move.  (Because someone else’s armor wasn’t made for him to wear, that alone will preach) David didn’t need someone else’s protective gear… David had God’s covering.  Selah (stop and think about that)  David stepped out.  In front, right in the way of harm…think about that for a moment.  It was just him, while the armies of Israel, including his brothers, stood in fear as far back as they could. In fact the two armies camped on opposite hills with a valley between them.  So, think about this… David had to go down into the valley to fight this giant.  He wasn’t elevated on a mountain, or even on the hill.  He was in a valley. David went into the valley to face, defeat and conquer!  The victory came in the valley.   Selah (pause and think about that)   So David stepped out in front, he was willing to give all he had to defend and prove there was a God in Israel.  That is called standing in the gap.  That is what it truly is to stand in the gap for others – to go to war on other people’s behalf.  Wow…this impacted me to imagine this scene in my mind, what that must have looked like.

5)      Declare – I found it interesting that Goliath had a shield go out before him.  This big bad bully, had someone go before with a shield.  Really, dude.  I guess that was how they fought in those days. Also, Goliath was caught off guard by who King Saul sent out to fight him and wasn’t expecting some young whippersnapper.  (catching the enemy off guard?) hmmmm…

Now as David was on his way to face this enemy, he stopped to pick out 5 smooth stones.  Stones, it was a Stone that was used to bring down this giant menace.  A Stone.  One.  I have heard stories of why David picked up 5 stones, it wasn’t because he was afraid he was going to miss the first time he slung it…he was going after Goliath’s brothers.  The point being,  David was determined not only to bring one giant down, his intention was to defeat all of Goliath’s brothers.  In David’s mind Goliath was already defeated, along with all the rest of the Philistines. This was going to be a total victory, complete defeat of the enemy, David was determined.
And so the show down began…..the two come “face to face” so to speak.
As Goliath faced David, he (Goliath) was insulted by this little pipsqueak of a boy who the armies of King Saul sent over to fight him. Goliath, said what?? Am I a dog that you would come to me with a stick?  He cursed David by his gods. And then Goliath shouted at David, boy I am going to mop the earth with your body and feed it to the birds and beast of the field.  And then I stopped and thought about the next verse.…..and smiled.  David who was a teenager or so, had the audacity to shout back at Goliath. NO, big boy you COME to me, and it will be your body that gets fed to the birds of the air and beast of the field. Not only that, but I will cut off your head, and then the rest of you Philistines are dead meat also. Then David declared. “you come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the ranks of Israel. Whom you have defied”.   David declared who God was, he declared to Goliath that God, the Living God, was going to deliver him into David’s hand….with the purpose of, “that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.  And all this assembly shall know the Lord saves not with sword or spear: for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands”.  Then he ran toward this mammoth beast Goliath, whipping the sling around and popped him in the head with one stone.  Goliath fell.   David didn’t come with any power of his own.  He didn’t say I will take care of this big bad bully, cause I’m all that and a bag of chips.  David knew where his help came from.  I love the verse that says, “but I come to you in the Name of The Lord of hosts.”  David declared God.  David declared who God is, what God has done and what God will do.
We have the same ability to take on giants and those things that bully us today.  Not talking about people (these are spiritual things) David knew who he was IN God.  We are told in God’s Word…we are MORE than conquerors.  When we pray, mountains will move, people will be healed.

We are told to stand in the gap for others.  Not to fear, for the Lord is on our side.  We are told in God’s Word who we are in Christ Jesus.  We need to grab hold of that, just like David.  Be bold, believe, step out and declare who the Lord God is.  One more thing, which I believe is so important.  Because of the relationship between David and the Lord, David was confident, sure and fearless.  Know the Father, know Him on a personal level, an intimate level. And nothing, no one, will shake your faith, nor your belief in what God can do…or what you mean to Him, who you are in Him.
Just one more thought I had while reading about the part about the stones……
David had practiced with his sling many, many times before this battle.  He was a prepared warrior, so to speak.  He knew the tools, he had confidence, he knew what & how to use the sling.  The stones, I find it interesting the detail about the stones a.k.a. rocks, he used.  It states he picked out.  David was carefully choosing part of the weapon he would use to bring down Goliath.  He thought about his enemy and what it would take to bring him down… couldn’t use just any old rock.  It was 5 smooth stones.  But it only took one.  One Stone.
Made me think of this, Christ is our “cornerstone” – He is our Rock.  God’s Word is the stone we use to defeat our enemies.  Not any old thing can be used to bring down and defeat the enemies in our lives.  We could read out loud the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, Joyce Meyers, Rick Joyner, but they are not the smooth Stone that is needed to bring victory.  When God’s Word is used with a holy boldness, when we come not in our own name, but in the Name of the Lord God and began speaking to those things that are hurting, hindering, derailing and destroying our lives and lives of others, watch what happens.  When we with humility, confidence and boldness declare who God is, what He has done, and what He will do, we are slinging the One smooth Stone (the Word) smack dab in the middle of the enemy’s forehead.  VICTORY is ours!!!  For God’s Word never fails.
Just some thoughts… nothing of this is written in stone (and yes the pun was intended)  one person’s take on a story.  Maybe something here will make you simply consider this.

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.

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.

WAITING


deskIsaiah 40:31
those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

For this computer and microwave world we live in, one of the most difficult things for all of us to do is to wait.  At work, when my computer is experiencing latency, I feel compelled to apologize to the customer on the phone for having to wait on the system to pull up their account.  Waiting on an important phone call seems like a never ending, unbearable, void in the time space continuum. I feel like I must have fallen into a black hole somehow and now I am unreachable.  I want to pick up the phone and dial information just to see if the phone is working.
Maybe something has happened to the other person and they are unable to make a call. They must have been in an accident or stricken with a sudden, serious illness.  Maybe I have offended them in some way and they never want to speak to me again.  There has got to be a logical explanation for why they haven’t tried to contact me by now.  Its been more than a reasonable amount of time for them to respond.  Now they’re just avoiding me.
Most of us have the same feelings when we pray expecting and get no immediate results.  In the context of Isaiah 40:31 it is written (KJV), “those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.”   The NIV says, “Those who hope in the Lord shall renew their strength.”  So which is correct?  Do we wait or do we hope?  Lets just say we do both.
It has been said that God is the God of “just in time.” That doesn’t mean that God is a procrastinator.  He doesn’t wait until the last minute to get things done.  It simply means that God sometimes waits until we are done trying everything we can do to make the situation happen so he can get the glory for the outcome.  Once we get out of the way and let God take over, then He can do what He does best.  He can bring about a miraculous change that, in the natural, seemed impossible, but in the spiritual would have already been done if we had just given Him the authority to do it and quit trying to meddle in His business.
Ask in faith believing.  Then give it to God.  Its kind of like calling in to a radio talk show.  “This is what I got to say, God.  I know you’re going to do it.  I’ll hang up and listen.”  Then wait for the reply.  Don’t invent trouble and worry.  Just hang up and listen.

 ©  Simply Consider This, 2013.

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.