The Moon: Romantic or Judgment?

The Moon startled me this morning–an orange disk hovering over the horizon. In the afternoon I drove eastward with the moon high in the sky and remembered a walk my intended and I took one night in our dating days. She looked up, saw the Moon, and asked if I could see the Man-in-the-Moon.

I never really had. I looked at it and described what I–a man in love–did see:  a young woman with long hair flowing back in the breeze, carrying a picnic basket before her, with her long dress trailing behind as she strides forward to meet her love. My young woman loved that!

Today I see the Young-Woman-with-Picnic-Basket, and I see the Man-in-the-Moon, a face looking down sadly on a world full of sin.

But the Moon was not always sad. Between Genesis and the Flood the Moon was pristine, a clear face reflecting the Sun to its utmost.

When the fountains of the deep opened, water and rock shot into space creating comets, asteroids, and meteors. Some of these scarred the Moon into its saddened countenance. This scarring was one effect of God’s judgment on a world full of sin.

Every generation alive was washed off the surface of the Earth and swept into their muddy graves–their just deserts served by the rejected Righteous One. One family was saved in the Ark. The Moon looks sadly down to remind all the descendants of that righteous judgment.

By displaying the past, the Moon warns us of the coming judgment: “God is just! Sin requires judgment!”

And the Young-Woman-With-Picnic-Basket calls out with love and hope and a future, “Therefore abandon sin and run to His grace and mercy! Run to the only salvation available! Run to the cross of Christ, accept Jesus’ death as yours, that His life may be yours!”

Truly, the Gospel is in the sky.

What do you see in the Moon?

Commanding Heaven onto Earth

I have heard a teaching going around that says: All ministry flows from the prayer, “Thy kingdom come… on earth as it is in heaven.”

I believe this teaching is called Dominionism. The adherents claim God has given us power and authority to take the world by spiritual force and this verse is Jesus teaching our ability to command. 

The verse they quoted, why are they leaving out the words in the center and changing the phrase? Remember Matthew 6 and Luke 11: ​”Your kingdom come. ​Your will be done ​on earth as it is in heaven.”

  • Why leave out “Your will be done”?
  • Why change Jesus’ prayer from submissively asking for “God’s kingdom to come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven” to commanding “His kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven”?
  • Why change the words of Jesus? If twisting the words of Jesus is not anti-Christ, what is?
  • Why ask for the kingdom and eliminate asking for Father God’s will to come with it?
  • Having the kingdom without having God’s will would be a kingdom ruled by whom?
  • The kingdom in heaven ruled without God’s will is Satan’s organization.
  • Who would teach people to pray this way? Not God, only the enemy.

Remember Jesus did empower our prayers (John 14-16 several times):

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)

If we think this is to fulfill our desires then we misunderstand what Jesus meant. Remember James said, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3). Think of a ten year old boy asking for a flame-thrower and machine gun, or a 16 year old asking for a crotch-rocket motorcycle: the father should say no for both the child’s good and everyone else’s good!

We must see Jesus empowering our prayers for the express purpose of fulfilling Father God’s desires, and Jesus’ desires, to bring glory to the Father and the Son, which often comes through our suffering, even as it came through Jesus’ suffering—we must bear the cross, not command it away.

Jesus immediately followed these empowering statements with: “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (v15). And His commandments are to love God, each other, the world, and even our enemies. There is not much room for selfishness, rather prayer becomes our joining with God to fulfill God’s desires to build the Body of Christ and prepare the Bride of Christ.

We know the line “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” is taken from the Lord’s Prayer as Jesus teaching the disciples how to pray. If we are to understand this as Jesus teaching us to pray authoritatively—as adherents to Dominionism teach—then it means the Lord’s Prayer would be prayed as us commanding God, sounding something like this:

“Holy Father in heaven, I command You to make Your kingdom come onto earth, as it already is in heaven. I command You to give us our daily bread. I command You to provide our food for today. I command You to forgive my sin, because I have forgiven those indebted to me. I command You to lead me not into temptation but deliver me from evil.”

I shudder to write and read this! We know we cannot command God to do anything, because that would make us sovereign over Him, and that is horrifically wrong.

We further remember the context of Jesus’ teaching on prayer is Matthew 5-7, the Sermon on the Mount, which is about character development, not exercising authority to command.

Jesus’ teaching on prayer demonstrated submission to God, our Father Who is in heaven, recognizing and declaring His holiness, submitting to His system of government, committing to follow Him here on this corrupt earth now even as all of heaven does, asking for today’s needs, asking for forgiveness of sin with proof of His principles at work within us as we have already been forgiving others, asking for cleansing, ending with recognition of His eternal kingdom, power, and glory. 

Be wary of people teaching you to command heaven onto earth. 

Jesus does not force us to love Him, He invites. In the same way a man does not (cannot) force a woman to love him. The woman has to respond to the man’s invitation, line up with the man, and the two become one. Similarly, a woman cannot force a man to love her. She can but request. 

We cannot force heaven to come to earth. We can but line up with God, become one with Him, and see what He does. 

Don’t Boil Goats

A 2 month old goat kid in a field of capeweed

“Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.” Exodus 23:19b KJV. Translate to modern English: Do not boil a baby goat in its mother’s milk.

What? Why does God command this?

This command is the last phrase God gives in the moral Law–the ten commandments and its unpacking–which is still God’s instruction for our morality and ethics (the moral Law is entirely separate from the ceremonial and sacrificial law which in its attempt at atonement foretold, and finally was replaced by, Jesus’ sacrificial death).

The Jews took this command as instruction to keep dairy and meat separate, and voila we have the basis of kosher law. If it were that important to keep dairy and meat separate, I think God would have made it more explicit.

What was God communicating to the Hebrews, and now to us, with this phrase as the final proclamation of the moral Law?

What if this verse is a proverb, a saying, perhaps even common in the day? What principle does it teach? What is God saying by giving the moral Law and finishing off with this proverb?

If you boil a baby goat in his mother’s milk, what do you get? A dead baby goat. To get an adult goat the milk is applied inside the baby goat, not outside.

Was boiling in milk a cleaning method? Apply a life-substance externally with heat … you might get a very clean baby goat, but it’s still going to be dead.

What if the point is not what you get, but what you do not get? And what do we not get?

You do not get an adult goat.

You do not get a lamb.

You cannot apply life-substance and heat to a baby goat to clean it up into being a lamb. Remember Jesus’ parable of judgment day and separating the sheep from the goats–we want to be the sheep welcomed into heaven, not the goats condemned to hell.

I think this is the essence of what God is saying: “I give you My moral Law, now take it into your hearts and be changed–grow up into My character, be like Me. Application on the outside is not going to work, it must be on the inside. I want to change you from goats to sheep, and here is my moral Law to help you understand the goal. But it has to be an internal change, not an external clean-up. Take My words to heart.”

And yet we cannot do it. We are incapable. Our best efforts result in self-righteous Pharisee-ism.

So comes the rest of God’s message: “And struggle with this impossible task, for you cannot keep My Law. You cannot become like Me in your own efforts. You will fall short. And that is the point. You must see that only I can change you from being goats to being sheep. You must see your need for a Savior. So see your need, and come to Me and ask My help. For I am the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. I came into the world, kept the moral Law living perfectly, and died for your sin, thus providing the way of salvation, enabling you to be like Me. If you ask I will give you atonement and justification, impute righteousness to you and sanctify you. Come to Me, and I will give you rest.”

That’s what I’m getting out of it. How about you?

Who knew God would summarize the entire gospel message with, “Don’t boil goats in their mother’s milk”?!

Beautiful Judgment

I drive America’s highways looking at the beautiful plains, hills, mountains, deserts, forests, rivers, lakes, and oceans. It struck me that everything I see was sculpted by water, by a lot of water; it was all underwater and formed by lots of moving water. It is all evidence of the Flood.

The Flood was God’s judgment on a world full of sin–He was sorry He made mankind on the Earth (Genesis 6:6). God caused the fountains of the deep to open and rain to fall, and the world was changed forever.  

Every day we see the evidence of God’s judgment, but we do not comprehend. We live in the wake of His judgment without thought of the patterns around us.

And then I made the connection: His judgment is beautiful! He is beautiful, His works are beautiful, His judgment is beautiful.

We need to hunger for His heart, His character, His word, His morality, His rule, His kingdom, and His judgment. In that mode we can be salt and light.

Have you noticed His beautiful judgment lately? Do you enjoy His beautiful judgment? Have you thanked Him for His beautiful judgment lately? Have you asked Him to judge your heart now, while you have time to change and grow? Limited time offer: today is the day of salvation. This era will end, His final judgment will crack down and our eternities will be decided.

Run to His beautiful judgment now, while there is still grace and mercy available at the cross of Christ Jesus.

Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father but by Me.” All history revolves around this one perfect man–Jesus. Run to Him and receive eternal life, then pass the word! 

Are You a Complete Man for an Outstanding Marriage?

What makes a man a real, true, complete man? Answer: Devoted obedience to God’s heart.

Consider the man who was:

 

 

  • son of a powerful,
    leading citizen
  • respected in his youth
  • chosen by God to save the people from their enemies
  • chosen as king by the people with approval from the religious authority
  • given a new heart by God
  • operated in the prophetic gifting
  • served by a group of men sent by God
  • victorious in battle

 

Yet for all this he lacked full obedience to God and devotion to God’s heart. So God told King Saul that the kingdom would pass to another (1 Samuel 9-13).

Relating this to marriage, every man is king in his home. To be truly successful in marriage a man must obey God and seek God’s heart.

It’s not enough to have rich parents, have a great past, be chosen by God, be chosen for leadership by people and even religious authorities, be given a new heart by God, operate in spiritual gifts, have God-given followers, and be successful in your endeavors.

Not only is it not enough, it is not even necessary.

What is necessary is you must obey God and seek His heart.

Obeying God and finding God’s heart transforms a man’s desires, attitudes, and viewpoints, and increasingly conforms his heart to God’s heart. This is key to a successful marriage.

It teaches and motivates a man to love his wife as Christ loves the Church: laying down his life for her, washing her with the Word of God that she would be transformed into the real, true, complete woman God desires her to be and enabling them to increasingly unify their lives, to become the one flesh God designed marriage to be. 

Of course she is also responsible to connect with God’s heart, but that’s another story.

Real men obey God and seek His heart, and are transformed in the process with one result being outstanding marriages.

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Marriage Goals From Colin Powell’s Military Experience

In his book, My American Journey, Colin Powell said, “The lessons I absorbed from Panama confirmed all my convictions of the preceding twenty years since the days of doubt in Vietnam: Image

  • Have a clear political objective and stick to it;
  • Use all the force necessary, and
  • Do not apologize for going in big if that is what it takes.
  • Decisive force ends wars quickly and in the long run saves lives.”

These lessons gleaned from Vietnam to Panama guided Colin Powell for Desert Shield and Desert Storm and benefited all involved.

I listened to the audio book as I drove to work and I connected these lessons to our marriages.

In our marriages:

  • Do we have a clear objective and are we sticking to it?
  • Are we using all the resources necessary to achieve the objective?
  • Are we living boldly or apologetically?
  • Do we apply effort decisively to overcome obstacles and achieve the objective in order to save our spiritual, emotional, and physical energy for improving and advancing rather than being used up in prolonged guerrilla warfare?

What is your marriage objective? How about modeling Christ and the Bride?

How are you allocating your resources of time and energy? Are you making progress toward your objective?

Are you able to live boldly with your spouse, or are you living apologetically? Are you thriving or just surviving?

Are you dealing decisively with and overcoming obstacles keeping you from your objective or are you just hoping they will go away without anyone being offended not realizing the advancement this is preventing? Are you improving or just maintaining?

Do you have vision or are you wandering aimlessly? Marriages with vision backed by effort grow to great heights. Marriages wandering aimlessly struggle and often fail.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Proverbs 29:18 KJV

God made us with the need for vision to grab onto, a goal to work toward to discipline and constrain our lives, a standard to use on all the choices of this life to simplify and direct our efforts.

Do you see the vision? Do you have the goal? Are you using the standard? Are you focused or aimless?

What can you do today to improve your marriage? I bet it’s something in line with achieving your vision.

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Key Mindsets in Our Marriages — 1 Peter

Building on the previous three posts–Modeling Christ and the Bride, Reality, and Identity–I see key mindsets in 1 Peter of how to live, our marriages being the prime area we should apply these mindsets. 

  • Be focused to do the work of the Kingdom with dedicated and watchful prayers because we have the goal and deadline of Jesus’ return (1 Peter 1:13-14, 4:7).
  • Expect persecution which is your part of Christ’s sufferings, and rejoice to the extent you are able to display His glory which will enable you to have exceeding joy (1 Peter 4:12-16)!
  • Expect the judgment of God as loving purification, suffering according to His will to develop complete dedication to doing the Father’s plan for His kingdom and glory forever (1 Peter 4:17-19, 5:11)!
  • This is all to be done in mutually submissive humility which is a channel of God’s grace, not seeking position but opportunity to benefit each other (1 Peter 5:5b).
  • Be on your guard, because the enemy attacks with fear. Those who respond in the flesh with fear, worry, pride, scorn, denial, blinding anger, or rage will be devoured. Resist the enemy by being steadfast in the faith, knowing the same sufferings are a common experience. God–the source of grace–will use the suffering as a test and perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you (1 Peter 5:8-10).

We have a deadline; let’s unify to get as much done for the Kingdom as we can. Persecution is par for the course and opportunity for God to be glorified. We should expect God’s refining work in our life–it is as intrinsic as the air we breathe! Unify as a team through mutual humility and rejoice as God is glorified. We have an enemy, so be ready to fend off attack. God uses all forms of suffering to make us into His ideal, so go with His flow, soaking in His healing grace.

To minister to Father God’s heart and model Christ and the Bride in our marriages, we must unify as a team, submit to God’s refining, fend off all spiritual enemies, glorify God in persecution, and soak in God’s grace to be supple in His hands.

Our Identity for Marriage–1 Peter

Have you ever heard bad teaching on the husband and wife verses in 1 Peter? Or been on either end of the statement, “Wives are supposed to submit to their husbands!”

My last post was on Reality according to 1 Peter, the reality we need to recognize, accept, and align with in order to model Christ and the Bride.

Now consider what 1 Peter 1:1-2 says about your Identity–who you need to be–in order to model Christ and the Bride:

“To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:”

I hear you ask, “Are you saying this applies to me?”

Yes, this is you, as a secondary audience. Let’s take a look:

  • Pilgrim: The Greek means “in reference to heaven as the native country, one who sojourns on earth.” You are traveling here for a while, heaven being your home, so as a visitor you do not follow all the cultural norms and expectations of the region. Jesus is from heaven and the Bride’s real home is heaven, so live from heaven’s perspective.
  • Of the Dispersion: This refers to the group dispersed from Israel over the world due to religious persecution, where they then shared the gospel and made disciples. It can figuratively apply to us as visitors of our lands while on a mission for the kingdom of God: sharing the good news and making disciples.
  • Elect: Meaning chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. He thought of you beforehand, wanted you as His child, so He created you. You are a desired and planned child of Father God! Be in relationship with Him as His child!
  • Sanctified: Meaning to make holy by setting apart and purifying. God enables you to obey Him by making you holy through the Holy Spirit setting you apart and purifying you.
  • Obedience: Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). You are one who obeys Him out of love. Do you, Bride, love Jesus? Are you ever lovesick for Him? Does your love make you willing to do anything for Him? Do you do anything for Him?
  • Sprinkling of the blood of Jesus: Here we have the fundamental aspect of our identity. In the prior covenant removal of sin was obtained by animal sacrifice and God confirmed the covenant with the Hebrews by having Moses sprinkle blood on the alter and people (Exodus 24). In the new covenant Jesus is the sacrifice and High Priest who sprinkled His own blood on the alter in heaven and on each of us to remove our sin and confirm the covenant between us and God (Hebrews). Husband, are you in covenant with God? Wife, are you in covenant with God?

A few more details are given in 1 Peter 2:9-10 which says you are:

  • A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation
  • God’s own special people for the purpose of proclaiming His praises
  • Called from darkness to light
  • Called to your true identity, purpose, and unity
  • Called to receive mercy

How wonderful! You, desired and planned by Father God, have a covenant with God through Jesus taking away your sin so you may spend eternity with Him, therefore you are set apart and being purified by Holy Spirit both in preparation for eternity and so you may pour out His love to others here and now. You are called to receive mercy bringing you into light, into your true identity, purpose, and unity as holy royalty, made to proclaim God’s praises.  Who else but you would have grace flowing in your heart and peace being multiplied within!

Combine the 1 Peter Reality with the Identity and we begin to see a whole new viewpoint on the husband-and-wife verses in 1 Peter 3:1-7. Just the first two verses–“Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by [respect]”–become mere details of explanation of how to live out Reality and Identity, how to model Christ and the Bride and thereby achieve the best marriage ever!

Instead of lording authority over each other, husbands and wives are to live lives devoted to God, knowing who you are in God, and from that foundation of Reality-plus-Identity serve each other, seeking to benefit each other to strengthen your one-flesh-team! Just as Christ and the Bride will.

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The Reality of Marriage—1 Peter

There they were, the famous words—or infamous depending on whom you have been around—regarding wives submitting to their husbands and husbands loving their wives. I read them as I studied 1 Peter looking for insight into modeling Christ and the Bride.

I do not recall ever hearing teaching on them in context. By which I mean a marriage study of all of 1 Peter to get the letter’s context.

So I did my own study. Wow! The context is so important!

For my study I categorized all the verses in 1 Peter as statements of Reality, Identity, Mindsets, Goals, or Actions.

Here is a brief version of the Reality you must recognize, accept, and line up with in order to model Christ and the Bride:

  • God exists as the blessed One, and the Father of Jesus
  • Jesus is the son of God—carrying equal authority—and is Lord and Christ
  • God, from His mercy and through the resurrection of Jesus, has reborn us into a living hope and an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance that does not fade away, waiting for us in heaven
  • God, in His power, keeps us for salvation through faith

We must believe God—the Father of Jesus Christ—exists to accurately model Jesus’ marriage. We have to believe He exists and He created everything in order to grasp eternity past as the foundation for eternity future. Without that basis there is no way to model Jesus’ marriage.

We must believe Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and the Lord in order to accurately model His marriage.  We have to know Jesus in His relationship with the Father and in His authority to properly relate to Him, serve Him, and model Him.

We must believe in God’s mercy, the resurrection of Jesus, and that Father God has reborn us into a living hope and incorruptible inheritance in heaven in order to accurately model Jesus’ marriage by living as the reborn new people—adopted by Father God—with the hope of our reward in eternity.

We must believe God keeps us for salvation through faith to accurately model Jesus’ marriage because we must know God’s love and forgiveness to model love and forgiveness to our spouses.

In order to model Jesus and the Bride we have to know God exists. We have to know Jesus. And know Father God. And be reborn into true hope of our inheritance in eternity. And be kept by God through faith for salvation.

And that is just the beginning. That is just the basics of Reality.

Modeling Christ and the Bride in Our Marriages

Have you ever wondered what the ultimate marriage looks like? I was raised by good parents who had one of the best marriages I have ever seen. But not perfect.Image

To know what the perfect marriage looks like we have to find a perfect man. There has only ever been one perfect man: Jesus Christ.

I hear someone say, “But Jesus did not marry.” But He will as Revelation 19:7-9 foretells Jesus’ wedding as the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Jesus is going to get married.

Jesus is going to be the perfect husband–already is as He faithfully and patiently waits for the Bride while Holy Spirit prepares her for Him.

Jesus is going to have the perfect marriage.

Even though it is in the future, we can look at what the Bible tells us of this concept and model Jesus’ marriage in our own marriages. By modeling Jesus’ marriage we will have incredible marriages and will be assisting Holy Spirit to prepare the Bride.

Quick note: there is controversy as to who the Bride is. I believe the Bible identifies the Bride as the Church. I read an article asking, after examining a lot of verses, whether the Bride is only part of the Church—those who are truly seeking God with all they have, who are in fact following the first and second greatest commandments. I do not have the final answer or the final say, that’s God’s job. If He wanted it to be clearer in the Bible He could have made it clearer. Perhaps it is not absolutely clear just so people will seek God harder. But we do not have to know the exact identity of the Bride in order to pursue the concept of modeling Christ and the Bride.

What does it mean to model Christ and the Bride? What concepts are encompassed in this phrase “modeling Christ and the Bride”?

With Jesus’ wedding as one of the last events on the Bible’s timeline, I believe the concept of modeling Christ and the Bride encompasses the culmination of the Bible’s entire teaching of who God is, who we are in Christ, what the end goal is, and therefore how we should live to contribute our part of the end goal.

In order to accurately model Christ and the Bride in our marriages here and now we must experientially know God, be healed and whole men and women, have at least a basic understanding of God’s goals, and be working to fulfill God’s goals.

That is the outline of what I mean by “modeling Christ and the Bride.”

This is obviously a huge topic. Posts on this topic are coming!