Tag Archives: commentary

Keep it simple

simplicity
Sometimes we want to make the gospel complicated because we have worked so hard. We don’t want it to be easy for newcomers. We have fasted. We have fought the flesh. We have prayed all night. I did it, so you must do it.

But Paul (who did more than any of us) exhorts us to keep it simple. The gospel is simple: Believe in Jesus and be saved. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the SIMPLICITY that is in Christ. — 2 Cor. 11:3 KJV (caps mine).

Romans 10:9 similarly makes it simple: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (NIV).

It was the Pharisees and Jewish leaders who added rule upon rule, making it harder to get into Heaven. Considering they ultimately rejected Christ, I don’t think it’s a good idea to be like them. Some of us are going to be very surprised to see lots of people in Heaven, people we thought wouldn’t make it because they didn’t follow all our rules.

Simplicity is beautiful. Let’s not deprive the gospel of its beauty.

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Turn brown to green

The Israelites were experienced with deserts. For forty years, they tramped to and fro until their bodies lay scattered across the Sinai wasteland. Elijah and John the Baptists headquartered their ministries in the desert. Some people actually think brown is beautiful.

But the rest of us are enchanted with lush paradise, a pine-covered mountain cut by a waterfall, a Hawaii island with rich volcanic soil great for growing pineapples. God promises to turn brown into green.

He will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD
— Isa. 51:3 NIV.

Jehovah Jireh promises to turn the unproductive land into a championship garden. If your ministry is going through a financial desert, God makes the waters flow. He fertilizes and transform sand into loam.

Where sand swirls in dirt devils today, a gurgling rush of water will empty into a pool ringed by greenery. Pray and believe towards that end.

Bad boys club

 

Balotelli and Tevez shelter from the rain

Upstart soccer sensation Manchester City is known as a club for bad boys. Carlos Tevez throws a tantrum and won’t play for six months. Mario Balotelli throws darts at his juniors and lights fireworks inside his house, all in the name of fun. All the superstar misfits who get kicked out of their topflight clubs come kicking to City.

By the way, City won the English Premier League last year, batting down their crosstown rivals and internationally famous Manchester United. Maybe this strategy of picking up all the rejects and societal blunderers has got something to it!

The church is also a can for refuse! Check out the humble beginnings of David‘s invincible army: Then others began coming—men who were in trouble or in debt or who were just discontented—until David was the captain of about 400 men. — 1 Sam. 22:2 New Living Translation.

You can see how they became giant slayers and subjugators of a nations (that’s sarcasm, ma’am!) According to a revision of troops, David had: 1) fugitives, 2) deadbeats and 3) crybabies. Yup! Those are the men I want to count on in a fix!

By general rule, the church doesn’t receive the cream of the crop. But whoever comes is brought by the Spirit. The pastor lovingly, patiently, persistently trains them. This is called discipleship. And they become crack warriors, unflinching and deadly, to kill demons and force forward God’s kingdom! Constant prayer oversees the transformation.

Watch for more antics from the boys who wear light blue! They’re looking to win the European Champions League this year. Since I’ve see the turnaround in church disciples, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if they confound pundits by doing it.

 

Canaan walk no cake walk

I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. — Josh. 1:3 NIV.

To this wonderful promise, there was just one problem. The Israelites had to fight for it. The Canaan walk was no cake walk. They would establish DOMINION by endangering their lives. Blood, sweat and tears.

You too have the magnificent promise that you must establish dominion in your ministry. God will grant it. But it will not be an easy war. It will be long, arduous, painful — and underfunded.

Prayer is taking dominion. Don´t be surprised that demons don´t give up easily. They go down fighting. Really, they have nothing left to lose (they are destined to hell irremediably), and they fight like it. Pray more, pray harder, in the bank line, while driving, in a lull during that meeting. Every prayer is a sword strike against the enemy. Every prayer is another demon of the millions you must expel. Every prayer is finances for your ministry. Don´t pray a Caribbean hammock prayer; pray a war prayer.

What has God called you to? That is your Canaan in which you must fight to win dominion. God will grant it. But it will cost you dearly.

‘Immortal’ cells

Normal cells cease to replicate at about the 50th cell division. Not so with the HeLa cells, which are immortal. Taken from a cancer from Henrietta Lacks in 1951, these extraordinary cells are cultivated in lab cultures and propagate endlessly. They have been useful in research for the polio vaccine, cancer, AIDS, and gene mapping. HeLa cells have given so much to humanity, and they just keep giving.

Henrietta Lax

Shouldn’t Christians be like that? There are people who burn out on their donating. At some point, they get frustrated with the endless need for their finances and start looking out only for number one. There are pastors who weary of self-sacrifice for the good of others; they start doing more for me. After replicating about 50 times, they’ve had enough.

Let us pray for resiliency today. We should be the workers who “bear the heat of the day” and don’t complain to the Vineyard Owner about getting the same wage as the Johnny-come-latelies. He who stands firm to the end will be saved. — Mark 13:13 NIV. Don’t just start the race gloriously; finish it satisfactorily.

Invisibility

Science fiction has toyed with invisibility. I’m no science fiction nut, but I’m a fanatic for the invisible.

Star-Trek had the cloaking device. H.G. Wells made the Invisible Man. Nature has camouflage, and the military has radar-evasion.

The Invisible Man

Christianity has prayer. We pray not for things that can already be seen. Things that can’t even be conceived by the human brain. Wow!

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope. — Rom. 8:24 NIV. What’s important is to notice that hope is the motor of prayer. What Romans says is that we cannot see the answer. But we can know that God will respond.

We cannot plan for His response. We cannot conceptualize it. We cannot see it even in our mind’s eye. If you’re desperate today because you can see NOTHING on the horizon to meet your need, then that’s where faith kicks in. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Don’t waver, keep trusting, keep praying. God’s got an invisible answer that he will bring into visibility.

If I can see it, it’s not faith. If it’s invisible to me, then it is what God will do. To be a Christian, you must have hope

You’re not disqualified

Intriguingly, Jesus employs racism to make a point. But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast [it] unto the dogs. — Mark 7:27 KJV.

He addresses a Syrophenician who requests freedom and healing for her demon-possessed daughter. A lot of people miss the subtleties of the Bible. When Jesus offered living water to the Samaritan woman (John 4), at least she was half Jewish. But the Syrophenician is completely gentile, utterly excluded from the kingdom of God (under the old scheme of things). The Jews called them “dogs,” and Jesus testing her faith employs the same ugly, unacceptable term.

In other words, He says, “Don’t you know you’re supposedly disqualified from a miracle?” Whether it was hyper optimism or simply desperation, this lady would not be discouraged and the word “disqualified” was not in her lexicon.

Ok, she says, I don’t care if you insult me. Call me a dog, but even the dogs get crumbs from the table. Jesus’ subsequent reaction dispels the notion He’s a racist: “For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter.” — Mark 7:29 KJV.29

It’s necessary to understand you’re not disqualified from receiving a miracle. That is faith. When you pray, banish from your mind that you are disqualified from receiving a miracle. A lot of preachers try to put requirements on a miracle. They’re trying to explain why some people don’t receive a miracle. I say, Let’s get rid of the requirements and bolster people’s faith.

Soon enough

 

If you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, it may just be a long tunnel. Don’t despair and tap out. God is not pummeling you. He’s not your enemy, laying mines to blow you up along the path. The picture of the angel of the Lord with sword drawn ready to strike Balaam is not you.

“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” — Jer. 29:11 NIV. In all of the canon, this verse echoes into the future and into the past. From Genesis to Revelation, this one scripture rings forth. Its context: God had just punished the Jews, sending them into Babylonian captivity.

They’re confused, bewildered, overwhelmed. The punishments seem unbearable, the virtual extermination of God’s people on Earth. When they have no hope, God delivers this prophecy: Have hope. In the captivity, God prospered and favored the Jews (look at Mordecai and Esther). Then, God returned them from captivity (look at Ezra and Nehemiah).

God’s thoughts for us are likewise to prosper us. When you feel shell-shocked, look up to God with hope in prayer. He will prosper you soon enough.

 

Your family is your special treasure

 

Rob also just completed “Hell week” for Lighthouse Christian Academy football

When we were missionaries with no money, I tried to take my daughter (now 16) on a Daddy-daughter date. I’m afraid to say it was extremely infrequent, but this was due to lack of finances. My son, Rob, wanted in on the fun. So I said that I would take him on a Daddy-son fun day. I never got around to it. The billfold was extremely tight.

Rob, who plays defense, is streaking to fill the hole. I had a blast watching him play for Santa Monica United club.

Now God has seen fit to bring us to the U.S., and I can at last do these things! I took my son to a soccer tournament with his club, and we spent the day together. Between games, we saw the “Amazing Spiderman.” At the end of the games on both Saturday and Sunday, he pigged out on In-n-Out burgers (in two days, he ate 10 patties!). I told him God was helping us to make up for lost time.

He likes to make funny faces for the camera

Ministry always demands our time, and it appears that God wants us to neglect our families to take care of so many needy sheep. BUT, we don’t want our families to convert in the needy and lost sheep themselves because of our negligence. I thank God He brought me back to the States, and lessened my ministerial burden, so that I can minister to my family.

He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse. — Mal. 4:6 NIV. Find time and money for your kids.

 

The ‘tent of meeting’

 

The child cries terrified alone at home as the thunderclaps explode. When Daddy comes home, he crawls up into his lap, into his hug, and the sobs subside. His fears erase because Daddy protects him.

Prayer is more than making requests. It is being with God. We are children; He, our Father. Remember that part of the Tabernacle was called the “tent of meeting,” meeting with God. Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp — Ex. 33:7 NIV.

Climb up into the Lord’s lap and your fears will subside. Just be with Him and forget about your troubles here on Earth. Forget about the thunderclaps that strike unknown terrors in your heart. You’re with Daddy; nothing is horrifying anymore. Rest and trust, embraced by His love. This, too, is prayer.

 

Gone with the wind

The fact that climatologists can now predict and explain wind should not confuse the meaning of John 3:8’s metaphor.

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. — John 3:8 NIV

The wind (same word as “Spirit” in Koine Greek) appears inexplicably (to the First Century observer). It is invisible, unannounced, unanticipated. It can be powerful (think of a hurricane). It scatters seed. No where is beyond its reach on the face of the planet. You can’t stop it.

So are our prayers. We cannot guess what God is going to do. We should pray generally and specifically, but we should not boast about knowing what God has up His sleeve. We should believe for huge and impossible things, both close and far. We should not be surprised when the Iron Curtain falls or when the vilest of sinners gets saved. We should know our Lord uses His Spirit and can reach where spy satellites and drones cannot. He can get into people’s minds. Even the devil is blind-sided. That is the nature of the Spirit’s move.

Our prayers should take into account His ability to do anything, anywhere, any time. He’ll do what we least expect, so we should expect it. He’ll move anywhere, so we should pray for nations closed to the gospel. He’ll hit tomorrow, so we should pray today.

Opposition will switch to ally when the Spirit moves. All resistance will be “gone with the wind.”