Lessons from Buddy!

Buddy

There is an old familiar saying that says: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks!”  Well, I really don’t know about that, but I came to realize not long ago that a new dog can teach you some old truths! The adorable pooch your see in the picture is our new dog. His name is Buddy. Buddy likes to run and play: ALL THE TIME!

One day, I was taking Buddy for a walk when he saw a squirrel, broke loose from his leash and took off in hot pursuit. Needless to say, Buddy didn’t catch the squirrel, but he did catch my wrath! After I ran out of breath trying to catch him, I turned around and headed for home. When Buddy finally came out of the woods and came to me, I spanked him and placed him in his carrier. The next morning, when I took Buddy out for his morning walk, I lectured Buddy once again on the error of his ways, in my spirit I heard the Lord saying:  “You can learn some lessons about how I deal with you from Buddy!”

So, here are the lessons I learned from Buddy: First of all, although we allow him to roam freely inside around the house, we put Buddy on a leash when he is outside because he would run away if we allowed him complete freedom. Well, God has a leash (His Law and His Word) on us and although He allows us a certain amount of freedom, if there were absolutely no restrictions, we would run wild! Now even though Buddy doesn’t appreciate it, the leash is really for his good. If Buddy was allowed complete freedom on the outside, he would run away or run into the streets and get hit by a car! The leash that God has on us is for our good, even though we often resist and try to break free from it. The Lord spoke through the Prophet Jeremiah saying: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV) Remember those words the next time you feel the Lord is “cramping your style!”

Now although Buddy doesn’t like being on a leash, being on a leash while he is outside is the best thing for him. And while he doesn’t know or appreciate that, I certainly do! Well, there are some things that we can’t and don’t know, but God does! He knows what’s best for us and we need to learn to trust Him and believe that He always has our best interest in mind. Just as my actions and motives are above and beyond Buddy’s understanding, many of God’s actions and motives are above and beyond our scope of comprehension. But we do have an advantage over Buddy! God has given us the revelation of His way and His will through His word in a manner we can understand.

Now, if I could just teach Buddy how to read the Bible, maybe he might understand too! LOL!

 

The Genie in the Bottle or the God of the Bible?

lamp and churchWhen I was a growing up, I remember a popular television show about an astronaut who, upon returning to earth from a space mission, discovered a bottle on the beach which contained a genie. The running plot of the show consist of the various magical antics this genie would perform, attempting to please her master, while all the while, her master was trying to conceal her real identity from the outside world.

Well, it seems as though many so-called Christians today have the God of the Bible confused with the genie in the bottle! You see, when Major Nelson (the astronaut) didn’t want Jeannie to interfere in his life, he would order her to go back into her bottle and then he would put the cap on it so that she couldn’t get out. Too many people want the blessings of God, they want Him to perform various tasks and miracles in their lives, but after God has done those things, they do not want any interference from Him in their lives! They want Him back in the bottle, so as not to place any demands upon their lives!

There is even a theology being espoused today that suggests that God is like the genie in the bottle. This theology has man as its center and not God. This theology suggests that we can in fact order God around and manipulate him with our faith, our prayers and our praises. But the fact of the matter is this: The God of the Bible is NOT like the genie in the bottle! We were created to serve Him: He was not created to serve us! We can’t order Him around, nor can we manipulate Him with our faith, prayers and praises. There is no real correlation between praises going up and blessings coming down! The God of the Bible will not suspend His agenda or His will in favor of ours!

The name of the show was: “I Dream of Jeannie!” And I would like to suggest that those who advocate, adhere to, and believe in the theology I just described, are just dreaming! The God of the Bible is NOT like the genie in a bottle! We have no power or authority over HIM! It is He who has made us; we didn’t make HIM! Therefore, the real question is not what can God do for us; but rather what is His will for our lives? What is His purpose for our sojourn on this third rock from the sun? Our daily prayer should always be: “Thy Kingdom come! Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven!

Who are you serving? Who are you praying to? Is it the Genie in the bottle or the God of the Bible?

Is It Faith Or Magic?

priests with cardsThe Biblical writer of the book of Jude encouraged his readers to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” But, as I look around the landscape of Christendom today, I can’t help but wonder if what much of what is being passed off as faith actually faith at all.  It seems to me that many today are confusing faith with magic! Let me show you what I’m talking about: Today, there seems to be a pervasive misunderstanding and misapplication of the name of Jesus. People do anything or say anything and then claim they are saying or doing it in the name of Jesus. But it’s really not in the name of Jesus just because we say it or do it and then utter the words: “In the name of Jesus.” Saying the words: “In the name of Jesus” is not some magical formula like: “Open-says-a-me” or “Abra-ca-dab-bra.” To say or do anything in the name of Jesus is to say or do whatever is consistent with the character and actions of Jesus as revealed in the Bible. In other words, we can only say or do in the name of Jesus that which Jesus would have said or done himself. Therefore, we can’t steal, lie or kill in the name of Jesus because those things are inconsistent with the character and actions of Jesus.

The Bible say that we (believers) have been authorized to use his name in a fashion that is similar to what is known as the power of attorney. If you have been given the power of attorney, that means you have been legally authorized to act, speak or transact business on behalf of the person who gave you the power of attorney. Therefore, in exercising the power of attorney given to you, whatever business you transact on that person’s behalf, the law looks at that transaction as if the person actually did it themselves. In like manner, whatever we do or say in the name of Jesus, it is as if Jesus is doing it himself. But to do or say something inconsistent with the character and actions of Jesus and claim to be doing or saying it in his name is not an exercise of faith; it is an exercise of the futile use of magic!

To pray for something that is inconsistent with God’s will, saying the words; in the name of Jesus, is not an exercise of faith; it is an attempt to use magic! Now, the reason so many people are attempting to use magic rather than faith is because many actually have faith in faith instead of having faith in God! It is not enough to “just have faith.” The faith we have must be grounded in the truth of God’s word! We can have the faith; but is it God’s will? It could be God’s will; but do we really have faith? And what is the motivation for our request of healing or blessing or anything we ask of God? Is it merely for our comfort? Or is it for His glory?

Now this was by no means an attempt to analyze this question in a deep exegetical manner, just a few thoughts to help us to stop and really think about what we say and do on a consistent basis; “in the name of Jesus.” The question is: Is it faith or is it magic?

Living Before We Die

Live before You DieTraditional Western Christianity and in particular, evangelical churches have done a great job in teaching and preparing people to die. But not too long ago, I received a great revelation! There is one thing we all must do before we die: We must live! And that is where modern Christianity has, for the most part, failed in preparing people. We are good at helping people to make preparations to die, but we have been tragically amiss in preparing people to live!

But the faith that is found in the Bible is all about preparing and equipping people to live! If you listen to some preachers and teachers today, you would think that the main quest of the Christian life is Heaven and that we should just suffer whatever befalls us until we die! But is that what the Bible teaches? Sure, I agree, we should not be so in love with the world that we lose sight of Heaven, but neither should we be so in love with the thought of going to Heaven that we just allow the world around us to go to Hell!

I believe it is all about balance! In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, the lesson is about waiting and being prepared for His coming. But in the Parable of the Talents, the lesson is about faithfully working, transacting Kingdom business, and making Kingdom progress until He comes! We were not saved to be idle until we die! In the Parable of the Pounds, the nobleman said to his servants: “Occupy until I come!” In other words, be about the business of life; don’t just sit idly twiddling your thumbs waiting until I come back!

Yes! While we all should prepare for the day of our transition, we should also be as equally engaged in preparing ourselves to live a life that reflects God’s love for the world and His creation: That is what the Kingdom of God/Heaven that Jesus preached about was and is all about! It’s not so much about sweet-by-and-by-pie-in-the-sky-salvation; it was and is about living life before death! The message of the Kingdom is not that we will never lose; the message of the Kingdom is that even when we do lose, God is able to turn the lost into a victory! The message of the Kingdom is that no matter what and how we suffer in this world, it’s going to be alright because we are more than conqueror through the One who loves us and gave up His life for us! No! The message of the Kingdom is not that we will always win and be happy, but it is this: No matter what happens in life; the good, the bad, and the ugly, God is working it all out for the good! And what is the “good?” It’s not prosperity, riches, fame, or living on flowery beds of ease, but rather the good is that we be conformed to the image of His Son!

So, you can’t wait to get to Heaven? Well, as my daddy used to say: “Hold your horses buddy!” We were not saved just so we could go to Heaven when we die; we were also saved so that we might be ambassadors of the Kingdom and instruments of God’s righteousness upon the earth while we live! If we would just learn how to live the life that God has ordained for us to live upon the earth; dying and going to Heaven would take care of themselves! But remember! Before we die; we must live! And if we want to go to Heaven when we die, then we must allow His Kingdom to come into our lives, that is allow His sovereign rule and authority to be manifested in word, thought and action in our lives while we live!

Spiritual Checks and Balances

checks and balancesOur government has a system of checks and balances designed to keep the Legislative: Congress, Executive: President, or Judicial: Supreme Court branch from exercising undue power over one another or over the people. The system was designed as a fail-safe to keep any one branch from gaining or exercising too much power! Well, did you know that there is a system of checks and balances in the Kingdom of God?

When we first moved to the Atlanta area, I didn’t know if it was the location or the time, but it seemed as if everybody and their momma had a “word” from the Lord for me! I mean, I’m not perfect, but the Lord and I are on speaking terms: We talk everyday! So I couldn’t understand why he would tell somebody to tell me something and yet not mention it to me in our daily conversations! Well, I came to the conclusion that it was not so much that these people had a “word” for me as it was their attempt to impress me with their super-pseudo-spirituality! But, just in case you encounter some of these people, you need to know that there are some principles (a system of checks and balances) that govern a “word” from the Lord.

First of all, as a rule of thumb, the Lord will usually never tell anybody (not even the preacher!) to tell you anything that he hasn’t already told you! In other words, he usually doesn’t give other people a “new” word for you; he usually uses other people to confirm the word he has already spoken to you! He doesn’t use them for a “fresh” word, he uses them to say “Amen” to the word he has already spoken and revealed to you! (You need to make sure you have “ears to hear” as the Lord speaks! We talk to God through prayer; God talks to us, primarily through his written word! But, if you don’t read, study and meditate on the written word, you leave yourself open to deception because God has spoken, but you didn’t hear and you weren’t listening!)

Secondly, not only whenever someone claims to have a word from the Lord, will their word confirm what God has already told you, but their spoken word will also agree with God’s written word! I have heard of people today who are claiming that they are so spiritual that they have a revelation that is so fresh (a “rhema word”) that it is not even in the Bible! Well, they are more spiritual than Jesus or any of the prophets! For Jesus only spoke what the Father told him (See John 12:49) and what the Father told him was really not anything new, but rather the Father used Jesus to confirm the word he had spoken to the Prophets of the Old Testament! So whatever anyone tells you, if it is really from God, it will confirm what God has already told you and it will agree with the written word; the Bible!

And then thirdly, it will settle and resonate in your spirit! You will not have to wonder; you will know it is from God because the Holy Spirit will confirm it within your spirit! Whenever you hear a sermon and it seems like the preacher is talking to nobody but you; that’s the Holy Spirit confirming that word in your spirit! When something is said in the sermon and you think that surely your wife, your husband or somebody must have had a private conversation with the Pastor about you; that’s the Holy Spirit confirming the word in your spirit! So don’t get mad at the preacher or look cross-eyed at your spouse or the people around you! Just thank God that his word is a Living Word!

All three of these principles will come into play: confirmation of an already given word, agreement with the written word, and a spirit/Spirit agreement, whenever someone says they have a word from the Lord for you! Don’t be fooled by pseudo-prophets looking for a profit! Don’t be impressed by people trying to impress you with their super spirituality! If it is really from God, it will pass all three tests! Thank God for this system of spiritual checks and balances and remember the words of the Apostle John: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1John 4:1 KJV)