Friday, March 2, 2018

Stubborn Habits: Maya & the Tree


We have a dog named Maya. She can't resist barking and biting our tree.
Here is her story.

One thing Maya loves to do is bark up the tree & bite the bark. We don't like her biting the bark. We don't like her barking a lot either.
So, we've put fences around the tree, we've attempted to train her, we've given her correction. Currently, we have both a fence and a bark collar. However, these measures occasionally (3x a day) still doesn't stop her. She can't resist the tree.
The only thing that seems to work is to go outside and yell at her when she heads toward that tree.
I have thought about getting rid of her so she doesn't kill the tree, because we like that tree. But we love Maya, so we wouldn't do that over a tree.

This got me thinking about myself, and other people who are striving to obey Jesus.
1. We know that we are loved, and that we are in the family because of Jesus work (Ephesians 2:8-10, John 3:16-18).  Kind of like Maya, our rescued dog. It wasn't because of Maya's behavior that we adopted her. Out of gracious mercy and generosity we adopted her into our family. She doesn't earn her keep, rather, she has our keep. She is a part of our "pack" not because of anything she has done, but because of loving grace. So, she doesn't have to do certain things to remain in the pack (and this is where the illustration falls short) unless she hurts or attacks one of the people in our "pack". She is safe, she is loved.
2. Do you have any trees, that the Lord has told you not to "bite the bark" on? Are there any stubborn habits that you keep going back to, but know the Lord doesn't want you to? I have those.
3. I have put up fences (Proverbs 7:24-27), have read the commands and desires of my Father, have been corrected by others, and I have even used "bark collars" to help me create a good boundary away from the trees. Now I will say that I have less trees than I use to. As I grew up in Christ, I lost interest in some of these, because my desire to enjoy close fellowship with Jesus became greater. But I still have a few trees. Some I know about, and others the Lord probably has not pointed out yet. I am like the homeowner and Maya in this story.
4. When I am mindful of the Lord's voice, I stay away from the trees. But it takes focus and it takes perspective. My default is to bite the trees, but there is also a part of me that doesn't want to bite them.
5. So what did Jesus teach about things that cause you to bite trees? He taught us to radically amputate. So we either move to a yard with no trees, put up an impeccable barrier around the tree, or cut down the tree (Matthew 5:27-30). To be honest, part of me still likes to bite the trees (I call it the flesh) and part of me never wants to bite a tree again (I call that the spirit) (ie Romans 7).

What will you do to quit biting the trees the Lord told you not to?

6. Maya apparently cannot learn this behavior on her own. She needs us, the tree needs us, to help her. So, we cannot desire or successfully stay away from things without the help of our Master. I am glad he is engaged and helps. 
Feel free to comment below.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Psychology of the Disciples

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life-the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us-that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us' and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete." 
-1 John 1:1-4, ESV


Question: "How can you believe all of this Jesus stuff? How do we even know Jesus existed?" 
This is a question that I have been asked. There are many angles to take to answer but I want to look at the TESTIMONY of the disciples today and think about their situation for a moment. 

1. Say Jesus & John were in colaboration to make this whole thing up. 
Say John the Baptist and Jesus got together one day, while they were young, and thought, "I know, Jesus why don't you say that you are the Messiah, and I will say that I am the forerunner or Elijah that they have talked about. People will believe in us and we will be famous!
Then they start out. John moves to the desert, decides to wear camel hair, eat honey & locusts, and baptize people. He did become pretty famous, but what a hard life that would have been.
Then Jesus starts going around preaching and telling people to follow him. Unfortunately he was from Nazareth, a disrespected community. How long do you think people would have followed him? Also, he knew early on that he would end up dying on a cross. Would you, knowing that you would die in obscurity on a cross continue with some scheme like this, unless there was some huge advantage?

2. His disciples- so these guys who had a descent career in fishing, collecting taxes, fighting against Rome, etc. decide to follow some guy who is bold and charismatic. Ok, a lot of people follow bold and charismatic leaders. But, to what end? They knew they would suffer, but they firmly believed that there was great eternal reward. Now think about this...why would they believe that this was true? Did Jesus back up his claims?
3. Would anyone continue to suffer for what they knew was a lie?
People will die for what they BELIEVE to be true perhaps, but very few will die for what they KNOW to be a lie, although some may do so. 

4. What was the advantage?
So what was the advantage of being a follower of Jesus in that day?  Did they get rich? No. Did they become admired? No. Did they receive honor? No. Did they die happy? Yes. 
These followers of Jesus were told that He did not come to overthrow the Romans, they saw that some people, particularly the powerful rejected him. They went about homeless and walked a lot. They were kicked out of places, they watched their leader be beaten, tortured, and die in obscurity on a cross, they left their livelihoods, they were kicked out of fellowship because of Christ, they were abused, maligned, ridiculed, tortured, had to flee for their lives, some were stoned, crucified, light on fire, and had to flee for their life. What was their advantage? Why did they continue to follow? 
So think about it. Why would they go through all of this if they knew that Jesus was false. 

5. The New Testament
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, 1 John, James, Revelation, Hebrews, Acts, etc...
These words were all written before 96AD, while those who had seen, heard, touched, and new Jesus were still around. Those who followed Jesus, those who hung around him, all support these testimonies and books. The miracles that were recorded to show that He was the Christ, were all confirmed by his followers, all men who value truthfulness, and keep from lies. Those in the early church, the several hundred that admired Jesus, all support these words. In fact, there are things in these books, that if not true, would have not been added because it doesn't make things seem glorious. For example Epic stories share epic events. The New Testament also shows the failures of these men. 

6. The Apostle Paul
Paul was a Jewish religious leader, and very intelligent. He had wealth, power, position, respect, and was a lead persecuter of the Christians. Something sudden happened in his life that radically changed him. He claims that he had an encounter with the resurrected Jesus Christ. And he died for that belief. He left everything for that belief! Why? What did he hope to gain that he didn't already have? Was there something lacking in his life that he needed?  Admitting Christ would essentially mean leaving everything, giving everything up in order to live a persecuted life. No one does that unless they are sure of what they have seen!

7. Who were these guys? 
Were they ignorant apes who didn't know much and were therefore easily manipulated? Well, looking at their writing style, I would say they were smart men, especially Luke, a doctor, and Paul a religious leader. 

8. Here is the bottom line-
During my years in college, one night I was enjoying a Mountain Dew and hanging out on Culby 2, in our dorm. A man, whom I never met, came up to me and said, "I am Jesus, follow me." 
What do you think my response was? 
I pulled my cup from my lip, gently looked at him, with stern eyes, and said, "Prove it." 
He couldn't, and that is why I didn't follow him. 

9. What about other cult leaders that people follow, though they are dead?
Joseph Smith & Brigham Young are two of my favorites, because although they are dead, their belief system remains. Most contemporaries to JS believed that he was a story teller and a crack pot, long before he came up with these secret tablets. Also, both of these men JS & BY, have made end time prophecies that have not come true, as well as other prophecies that have not come true. In my opinion, someone who makes false prophecies is a.......false prophet. And because they have, I will not rightly follow them. That being said, when Mormons actually learn this, many leave. 
Jesus, on the other hand, has been attacked for two thousand years, yet remains impeccable. There are no skeletons or contradictions in his closet. 
Muhammad, this will probably get me killed, but if I can help someone see through the dross of life, and come to Jesus, it is worth it. Anyhow, I have studied the Quran and the history of Muhammad. In the Quran you see a progressive change of thought in which one thought contradicts another. For example, early on you see that the Jews & Christians are both considered friends and "people of the book". Later you see Jews are anathema but Christians are still considered friends and "people of the book". Then later, both are considered enemies. Also, the history of Muhammad & his life leave him looking dubious. That is why I reject Islam. Plus, they teach people to follow Jesus in the Quran, but then go against what he teaches. This is inconsistent, therefore it doesn't work, and is clearly man made. Plus, it doesn't ever put itself on the line with specific prophecy, like the Bible does. 

So these are some thoughts. Something that frustrates me is when someone says that the Bible and Jesus' disciples are just made up. Also, when someone says that the Bible was changed and manipulated at some later church council. To me, this shows ignorance, and proves that this person has not looked into these things, but is parroting something someone else parroted. In my judgment, either these people are too lazy to look into it, or feel too ashamed to admit that they are really not as good as they thought they were, or don't want to admit that Jesus is the Christ because that would mean they may have to change some things, OR they are just mad at God, so by denying His existence, they can get some type of revenge, which actually just ends up hurting themselves.

So, either these men and women have given a good report and are following the Savior of the world, OR they are, at best, completely insane & to be pitied more than most men. 

If they are wrong, they die believing a lie. If they are right, which I firmly believe that they would have to be, then they have forgiveness of sin, eternal life with Jesus, and purpose for living that transcends their selfish moods.

Rather, what if they weren't making it up? What if this is an accurate account? What if they took great effort to accurately record what they have seen, heard, tasted, touched, and handled? What if Jesus did all the things they have written and contemporaries agreed to? Could that be possible? I believe it can, and is the only possibility. I believe that no one would have laid so much on the line, unless it is what they actually experienced....unless the whole lot of them were insane, which is highly unlikely.

So, am I basing my life, my career, and my future on the testimony of the apostles and NT authors? Yes. Because I believe that these accounts have stood the test of time, and the hard test of their contemporaries, who valued truthfulness in everything.

What about you?
Choose a valid option in regards to their testimony/the words of the New Testament. Choose one:
1. They were made up because...
2. They are accurate records, but I don't want to change my life.
3. They are accurate records, and I want Jesus.

4. (Not valid) These stories were changed over time, over years of translation.
Option 4 is not valid, which I have already addressed, as have many textual scholars. If you missed it, I can get it to you. But, know that only the first 3 are even considered options.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

How to Handle the guy holding the "need money" sign


After thinking and praying about it, here are my thoughts on the person who keeps asking us for money-

Matthew 5:38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’

39 But I say to you,

Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, [a] let him have your cloak as well.

41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.

42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.



Notes on verse:

38 – Jesus is referring to the lex talionis, the law of retribution. See Exodus 21:22-25, “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”  This is part of the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Law was the “Law of the Land” for Israel. It is similar to the USA Constitution and Bill of Rights, and even state laws. The Mosaic Law is a legal code. This is not a right or suggestion that personal revenge is an option. In Jesus’ day, people may have been saying, “Get justice from the courts swiftly, if you have been harmed. Don’t let people get away with taking advantage of you!”



39- Jesus is bringing a deeper teaching, an explanation on the Torah. He is commentating, yet more than commentating, for he is the author of the Torah.

“Do not”- this is not a suggestion here, it is an imperative a command.

“Resist”-anti-histamine. To stand, bid, and uphold against.

“turn to him the other”- from my studies and listening to godly men on this, this has to do with actually turning around and walking away. In that culture, people are right-handed (or at least learn to be). So in order for them to slap you on the other cheek again, your back would have to be turned to them. “Turn around and walk away” “flee”. “allow yourself to be humiliated”.  To quote a famous, though troubled public figure, Gandhi, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” Although this is a contestation of God’s word, and a clear misunderstanding of it, the desire for personal revenge is being rightly challenged here.



40- This is where it gets tough, and challenges human emotion/ the flesh. If someone wants x from you in a court of law, don’t only give him what he asks, give him more. I did this once with a neighbor, and I won a continuing friendship. We didn’t go to court, it was a “your kids broke my….I want $40.” We gave them $100. I am not saying it will always work well, but it is great fun to take Jesus up on his teaching and watch what happens. Our hopes is that pragmatically, it would “heap coals” on their head, for this injustice. Instead, it built a friendship with some good people.



41- We use the phrase, “Go the extra mile!” today. When I worked at McDonald’s we had a, “Go the extra smile” campaign. I thought it was a blast! In this context, according to commentators, Jesus is referring to Roman Soldiers who would force you to walk with them. This is also a grate against our flesh! I wonder what it would take to do this out of joy.  The Life Application Bible Commentary on Matthew says, “In an unequal power situation, you have no choice about the first mile. The soldier has the sword, so you carry his gear. And it’s a mile and an hour you can never get back. You’re the loser. What’s to be done? The second mile is your choice. It’s your way of saying, “God is in control here. He gives me energy, and a mere mile does not exhaust me. That sword is nothing; God is everything. Do you want to know where the real power lies? Try to keep up with me and I’ll tell you.”



42- THIS one is the toughest for me. My immediate rebuttal is, “But Jesus, what about the person on the corner who may use it to buy Meth or booze?” and “Do we have to give to everyone who asks, without question?” So what do I do? Well, I have struggled with this verse since 1994, living in the inner-city. I struggle with it every time I stop at an intersection and someone is holding a sign asking for help. I struggle with it when a passerby asks me for money for whatever. Does my giving enable them? Do I contribute to the problem? I asked Shane Claiborne, the author of “Irresistible Revolution”, what he thought about this. He thought it was a very good, hard question, and referred me to Mike Yankoski, author of, “Under the Overpass”. I have not asked him yet.

“Give”- this is an imperative! It is a command, not an option for the follower of Jesus.

“turn around”- do not turn away from that person. I have done this, and I have experienced grief for doing so, knowing that it was the Lord I had grieved.

“borrow”- to lend money, to loan them a resource. Here is the caveat to “give to whoever”. It is a borrowing not a giving. (although if they can’t or won’t repay, we should let that slide. But that is a different discussion.) I would say, do not just give, but have expectation. Expectation that they will return the money (without interest), or expectation that they will work for it, or expectation that they will allow us to give them counsel. Doing this is a greater help.

The question is are the phrases “Give to the one who asks” and “Do not refuse the one who would borrow from you” the same person or are these two DIFFERENT situations? I don’t think they have to be.



The Life Application Bible Commentary on Matthew adds, “Jesus’ followers should have a generous spirit. Because they loosely hold on to their personal rights and possessions, they can freely give when the need arises and won’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow.”



So what if someone, who is not from the church, asks for money? I think we attach strings to it! Here are some of my thoughts:

Option 1.  We loan it to them, expecting an interest free repayment, getting their information such as address & phone number. This can be done warmly. (I would hope for repayment, but if they don’t repay, we absorb it).

Option 2. We loan it to them, with the stipulation of meeting with them for financial counsel.

Option 3. We have them, depending on the case, do work around the church to pay it off.

Option 4. Go grocery shopping for them, or go WITH them to get a gift/gas card. This allows us to build a relationship with them and share the gospel.

Option 5. Ask them if this is what they really need, or is there something “broken” that we can help them fix. This is an opportunity for the gospel to be shared!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Led Zeppelin and Jesus

Led Zeppelin wrote a famous song, "Stairway to Heaven" . In this song the lyric, "Yes there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there's still time to change the road you're on."

I agree with this, and I disagree with this lyric. I agree that God is faithful, good, forgiving, graceful, merciful, and wants ALL people to be saved from eternal fire. But pragmatically, some people head down a path & through it, harden their hearts, so they may not believe on the Lord Jesus and be saved. Can God do a miracle and help those people? Yes. Will he? I don't know. I do know that there are some who are ignorant, like Saul of Tarsus, and God powerfully changed them. I also know that there are also people like Eli's sons, who God did not change, but left them for judgment. So, what is the wisest way to live? To be a prudent person, who sees trouble and changes direction. And not be a foolish person, who sees trouble, and keeps on driving.

Today I am teaching Psalm 1 to our Children's Ministry team, and thought it would be good to share it.

Psalm 1 (ESV)
Blessed is the man[a]
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law[b] of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked will perish.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 1:1 The singular Hebrew word for man (ish) is used here to portray a representative example of a godly person; see Preface
  2. Psalm 1:2 Or instruction

There are 2 roads, 2 paths, that 2 people walk on. Let's look at them:

Person #1- The blessed, happy man
Does not walk, stand, sit (notice that there is no progression into depravity for him).
Does find pleasure in Torah & he meditates on it. (conversely to meditate, which means to moan, growl, utter, muse, or speak under the breath, is the word "scoffers" which is actually the word Lilith- which is the female goddess known as a night demon who haunts the desolate places of Edom. This word can also refer to night animals such as the screech owl. In todays lingo, this would be translated as someone who slinks around in the dark and screeches at what is good, a scoffer.)
This man is strong, prospers & has intimacy with His God. God is on the path he is on, which refers to God's presence and blessing.

Person #2- The wicked, worthless (chaff) man
Does not stand in the judgment, or in the gathering of the righteous
Does perish, is on the road to destruction.

God influences us, to a point, of choosing Path #1, to be person #1. But, we also have a choice to make. The predetermined path or end of our choices is already known and set. The question is, yes there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run....will there be time to change the road you are on? We don't know.

Time to ramble on (2nd Led Zeppelin quote)
Your life may last for 80 more years, it may last for 80 more seconds. So is there really always time to change? We don't know. We assume so, but I do know people who are now dead, who bought into the "I'll change later" philosophy. Which brings me to another point, can't a person be happy & blessed on Path #1? Absolutely! I have been on both paths. And person #1 can be happy without chemicals to make that happen, and they have no regret! What a much better path! Path #2 is a constant pursuit of trying to be happy, to find pleasure, to fill the god-sized hole in your heart. Path #1, in Christ, following His ways, leads to regret free living, leads to life, and is full of joy. Here is one reason why- living for yourself and your own pleasure will never bring pleasure or fulfillment, especially not on the other side of eternity. Been there, done that. Have the dead friends to prove it. Conversely, living for another (Jesus) gives purpose, simplifies life, and when you live for Jesus you will also live to help your fellow man, which is a double blessing. My constant thought is, "How can they live without Jesus?" Now, I am not saying that life will be Easy Street, in fact it may be harder. But for the right reasons and with transcending purpose. But it will be a life that brings purpose, fulfillment, joy, blessings, and hope. Hope that one day you will be with Jesus face to face and enjoy him forever.

So, here you are. How do you switch trails?
Email me at jeffkorhorn@gmail.com and I will walk you through it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Moving Beyond Shame


Moving Beyond Shame

Genesis 3

Here is my rough draft of a teaching.
Band of Brothers, men stuck in foxholes. Bullets wizzing overhead. The captain calls, "Get up and move out." Shellshocked, some cannot move. Then the Captain comes over and strengthens their spirit. The soldier is rejuvenated & moves out, inaffected by the violent sounds around him.

Satan is like an enemy. Shame an ammo of choice. With shame, he tries to keep forgiven men and women pinned down.
Satan has a plan, to steal life, effective work, kill people and destroy men and women. He intends to fill you with shame, and then leave you there, hopefully powerless, hidden behind a mask, and ineffective to do what God has called you to do. God has a different plan for those who sin, however!

Have you ever seen the birthday candles that keep relighting? You blow them out, move on with talking, and the little things spark back to life! Again you blow them out, again they spark to life. Shame is a lot like this. You deal with it, and sometimes it keeps sparking back shining for attention. So before we dig into moving beyond shame, let's remind ourselves what shame is.

Shame- a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.

Two distinct domains that shame is expressed are the consciousness of self as bad and the other is self as inadequate. ^ Edward Teyber; Faith Teyber (2010). Interpersonal Process in Therapy: An Integrative Model. Cengage Learning. p. 137. ISBN 0-495-60420-8.

It plays a central role in many psychological disorders as well, including depression, paranoia, addiction, and borderline conditions. Sexual disorders and many eating disorders are largely disorders of shame. Both physical abuse and sexual abuse also significantly involve shame.

Also, "...shame has been found to be a very strong predictor of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder...".[22]     ^ Susmita Thukral. "Understanding Shame and Humiliation in Torture". ORLJ 4859, Fall 2004, Teachers College, Columbia University.<"Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2016-03-14. Retrieved 2006-01-26. >

In some circles of psychology, shame is an enemy of progress. In the Judeo-Christian worldview, shame (not embarrassment-which is public) is to drive us to the precious cross! It should be a catalyst to progress, a warning light-letting us know that we need God’s help, grace, kindness, and righteousness. It lets us know that we need to cry out to God, due to wrong living. Then, when either coming to Jesus or being reminded that he bore our shame (Is. 53:3, 2 Cor. 5:21) can move past shame, and move on towards joy and effective living.





Question: Do you carry shame with you? What are you ashamed of? What is that stubborn sin that keeps creeping up, making it hard to mortify?

Do you carry the weight of shame over things that you have done? What are you going to do about it? Is there a way to be free from this shame, or is it something that will weigh you down for life? Is God willing to remove your shame?























Book & Look: Genesis 3

1. The sin: (3:1-6) What was Satan’s intent here? To help man, or to destroy man?

1 Now [u] the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,

3 but God said, [v] ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”

4  [w] But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.

5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit [x] and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, [y] and he ate.



They

1. disobeyed God (in their mind, heart, and action).

Mind- fruit>God,

heart- desired to taste it,

Actions- ate it, watched Eve eat it (failure in leadership), ate himself (either due to taste, or out of passion to be like Eve).



2. They also disobeyed the word of God to fulfill their own pleasures.

3. They also chose Satanic leadership over God’s leadership, thus doubting God’s good character.

4. They usurped the protective, good, caring, life-giving leadership of God, and stubbornly chose their own way of doing things.



We do this too. 

1. “Why do we do what we do? Because we want what we want.” (See James 1:14-15)

2. We have desires, in our flesh, that are of flesh (Galatians 5). Not all bad, but some that ignore God’s word, wisdom, and good leadership. So often, we are so quick to deny God, and seek to please the impulses of the flesh.  Thinking somehow, even momentarily, that that thing is better than God. Somehow thinking that we know better than God, thus setting ourselves up against him.



2. Their response: (3:7-8) nakedness, feeling/realizing they were exposed, shame, hide, not fulfilling what they were made for


 7  [z] Then the eyes of both were opened, [a] and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife [b] hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.




1. Their EYES saw that something was terribly different.

2. Their MINDS knew that they were exposed (they were before but this was unknown to them)

3. Their EARS heard the convicting sound of the Lord walking toward them.

4. Their BODY responded by hiding through fig leaves and among the trees.



What was the response of shame? To hide. They covered themselves to try and mask the shame. Instead of doing what God had designed them to do (work the Garden) they were consumed with hiding.



A natural consequence of SIN is SHAME. People deal with shame, typically through hiding it. Do you do this too? Do you “mask” your shame?

1. Mask of self-image. Putting on public airs, or becoming image driven. (ie-Facebook, how you dress)

2. Mask of control. By controlling others. You can’t control your own sin, so you attempt to control the behavior and thoughts of others.

3. Mask of self-preservation/crisis control. Through extreme narcissism, you get so absorbed with your image, that it characterizes you.

4. Mask of blaming others or other things. Through justifying your behavior, saying that it isn’t really your fault (see Adam and Eve’s response)

5. Mask of self-defining. Through twisting what God says, thus attempting to minimize sin.

6. Mask of pity. Through self-lothing, hoping others will notice and have pity on you (ie narcissism).

7. Mask of domination. Through fault-finding, pointing out the sin in others so you don’t look as bad.

8. MOComparison. Through comparing yourself to someone other than God (ie “not as bad as Hitler”).

9. Mask of hiding. Through hiding in apathy. Giving up hope and choosing to live among trees.



3. God confronts them: (3:9-13)

9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, [c] because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

12 The man said, [d] “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”

13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?”

The woman said, [e] “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”



Observations

God knew what they did, knew they were hiding. Man hid from God, God took initiative to already move toward restoration. God’s heart is holy, but he also loves his creation, particularly people.

A. Question: What was the man afraid of?

B. God calls out the specific sin. A note here-

                1) Shame without a reason, is not healthy shame.

                2) When the Spirit convicts you of sin, it is specific.

C. Notice the blame-shifting, instead of accepting responsibility for their actions! Adam even passive-aggressively blames God for this! Sin results in shame, which results in hiding. They have put on figs, bushes, and blame-shifting as a cover at this point. 

D. Sin brought immediate separation from God. Yet, God still goes to the sinners!

E. The man blamed God and the woman, the woman blamed the serpent, and the serpent threw up his temporary hands and didn’t have a leg to stand on!













4. The consequences: (3:14-19) Judgement of the Serpent, consequences for woman (pain in childbirth, friction in marriage), consequences for the man (frustrating work, physical death).



14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and [f] dust you shall eat

all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and [g] her offspring; [h] he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”



Observations: 1) You can see this enmity in Revelation 12, 2) you can see God’s plan of redemption already! The word “seed” is singular and is one of the great Messianic prophecies.3) according to the Moody Commentary, the serpent was the only created being who was JUDGED.



16 To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;

[i] in pain you shall bring forth children.

[j] Your desire shall be for your husband,

and he shall [k] rule over you.”



Observations: 1) increase pain in childbirth, 2) friction in marriage-first time the woman felt vexed by her husband. For the first time, he threw her under the bus, and became self-preserving at her expense.

Why did God do this? Why add pain?



17 And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree [l] of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’:

[m] cursed is the ground because of you; [n] in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; [o] for you are dust, and [p] to dust you shall return.”



Observations: 1) God judged the ground, resulting in frustration in work, 2) physical death-mortality.

Why frustrate labor? I can see physical death as necessary (see Moody Commentary), because we would be stuck in a fallen state, effected by the consequences of sin, and the judgment on creation. This would be terrible! In fact, death has become a blessing for the created.



5. God’s response: (3:20-24) Notice what God does and does NOT say. He doesn’t leave them in their shame and in the bushes. He clothes them and puts them back to work.

20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.

21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

22 Then the Lord God said, [q] “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand [r] and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden [s] to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the [t] cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.



God did NOT shame them and leave them in shame. God dealt with their shame by:

1. God provided clothes for them-killing an animal.

2. God removed them from the garden, protected them from returning, and sent them to do what he and she was created to do.

3. Sending His son to remove their shame permanently, by taking it upon the cross.



What should our response to all this be?

1. All have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).

2. We are all guilty (Isaiah 59:2, Rom. 3:9-10).

3. We continue to, with the same motives, chose things that God has said not to .

4. We all like sheep have gone astray, and go astray (Isaiah 53:6-7).

5. We all grieve God’s spirit, even as believers.

6. We all have the flesh, which desires things opposed to what the Spirit desires (Gal. 5, Rom. 7).

7. Paul mentions this struggle in Romans 7.

8. We will struggle with the impulses of the flesh, until our earthly tent is put away.

9. BUT our flesh has been crucified with Christ, to the cross (Galatians 2:20). Therefore, we no longer live, but Christ lives in us. So we put to death the deeds of the flesh. We MORTIFY (Romans 8:13, Col. 3:5). John Piper talks about “killing sin”(Romans 8).

10. But we don’t do this perfectly. Christ knows we will fail, and that is why he tells us that he is our sympathetic high priest (Heb. 2:18, 4:15-16).

11. Yet we strive to be conformed, because we love him, and with the spirit, our spirit craves holiness, and Christlikeness (Romans 12:1-2).

12. So what do we do when we sin and feel shame set on us? 1) let shame drive us to the cross, where we see our sin, placed on Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21, Isaiah 53), where we find our sympathetic high priest (Hebrews 2:18, 4:15-16), 2) Remember that this is not us but sin living in us, and that this struggle is both common and temporary-in fact, struggle is a sign of life (2 Cor. 5:17, Romans 8:1, Romans 7). 3) Confess (1 John 1) that we have sinned and remember that this is why Christ has died for us, 4) make necessary adjustments so you don’t do that again (repentance)(Matthew 5-7, especially 5:27-30. 1 John), 5) get up and get back to what God has called you to do (don’t allow Satan to keep you in the bushes of shame), 6) celebrate that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!! (Romans 8:1) 7) help others come out of the bushes and into the light.



Satan’s focus is to steal, kill, and destroy. Too many men are pinned down by the bullets of shame. They are exactly where the enemy wants them. Hiding and ineffective. He has essentially taken them “out of the fight”. But this is not where God left Adam & Eve, and it is NOT where he wants us to stay. We have a job to do. We are to move beyond shame, and get in the game of building His kingdom & helping more and more people come to glorify HIM.



Practical application- this summer, Men’s Elective on how to move beyond shame. July (4 weeks) Monday nights (8-9pm @ Harvest). Let Pastor Jeff know if interested (765) 365-2328.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Spiritual Power

I am sitting here, enjoying a cup of coffee, listening to some Van Halen, and am studying Ephesians 3:14-19 this morning. While studying the book, "Walking as Jesus Walked", the author asked this question,

"What can we assume will happen if we grieve or quench the Spirit's power in our lives?"

Here are Paul's thoughts on this, found in Ephesians 3:14-19:
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth is named, 

16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to:
1.  be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—
2. that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have:
A.  strength to comprehend with all the saints: what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, 
B.  so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Conversely, if we quench the Spirit:
1. We will not be strengthened with the power to love, leading to selfishness.
2. We will not be strengthened to comprehend his love, leading to insecurity, which leads to control, which leads to narcissism (self-preservation only). And if everyone does this, then there is no charity, except to promote oneself. 
3. We will not be filled with the fulness of God, leading to you missing all that God wants you to be. Some characteristics that the fulness of God brings is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. 

So how do we hamstring the Spirit's power in our lives?
1. By disbelief and rejecting God's means of salvation. Dependance in Jesus the Savior (Messiah) to save you too. 
2. By building your life on something other than the teachings of Jesus. 
3. By following base passions without yielding to the Spirit (see Galatians 5). Also known as "animal instincts". 
4. By not seeking God, or extreme introversion (thus ignoring loving people and entering into their lives). 
5. By allowing your mind to dwell on things that oppose Scripture (i.e. books that teach twisted theology like The Shack, The Art of Happiness, 50 Shades, lop-sided political books or activist books, etc..).

My dear friends, let us not lose focus, thus hurting ourselves and others. Instead, let's get refocused on what is good, healthy, and life-giving. 

Jeff


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Practicing the Knowledge of the Holy One

Someone asked me this question, "What would you say is required of us to properly hear what the Spirit (of God) is saying?"

Here are my thoughts on this:
"Be still and know that I am God. I will be exaulted among the nations. I will be exaulted in the earth." -Psalm 46:10 (the context of this is God's people freaking out about a nation rising up to attack them)

Elijah said to the Lord, "I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life to take it away." And The Lord said, "Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord." And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake, a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, the sound of a low whisper. And Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave." -1 Kings 19:10-13
--------------------------
John 15:1-17: Remain close to the vine, you branches of the vine. For apart from being close & connected with Jesus, your life is a waste. Jesus is the vine, you who "lean into" Jesus the Messiah (the Christ) are the branches.
How do we stay close to someone who we can't see? How do we follow God's voice in the 21st Centruy?

1. SUBMIT.
It begins by submitting to Him as your savior (from your sin) and lord (your leader). (John 3:16-18, John 14:15, Mark 1:15, Ephesians 2:8-10, John 3) Until we admit that we are guilty of sin and deserve eternal seperation from God, until we agree with God in that, we will not submit to him. We are still dead in sin. It is when we admit this, and bend our knee, begging Jesus to save us and to commit ourselves to Him, that we finally submit & begin a life of submission to our very capable, loving and trustworthy God. You cannot and will not do the latter without first getting this in order. There is no way around it, and God will hold you, me, all people accountable for this. Okay, now that we've got that squared away, let's continue...

2. CHECK IN.
I was sitting in the Galilee, on Mount Arbel. While I was sitting there, someone told me that the word "Arbel" means to ambush. I spent a lot of time praying there, and while I was there I sensed the Lord asking me, "Where is your Mt. Arbel, Jeff?" Where do I go to get away, so I can get some space to check in with God regularly? I wish it could be Mt. Arbel. You see, Mt. Arble was Jesus' place to get away to talk to the Father and hear from the Spirit, while he was in the Galilee. His custom was to climb this mountain to pray. One time he did this was right after he found out that his cousin John "The Baptist" was beheaded by Herod. But, I don't live there, so I need an alternative Mt. Arbel. In Ohio, it was Oakwoods or Riverbend. In South Bend I would go into my Gazebo. Here in New Market, I have a "War Room", an upper room. Over the years, I have also become more flexible and have tried to make everywhere a "sacred space" where I can check in.

A believer has the fulness of the godhead (Father, Son, Spirit) indwelling them. Like Elijah, God does lead, but we need to take time to yield, and listen. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul tells us to "pray continually". The context is that Jewish people prayed at certain times, and at certain times prayer was not done. Paul is breaking down the walls and letting people know that they can pray in whatever circumstance they find themselves. In short, there is never a wrong time to "check in" with God.

3. FOLLOW.
John 14:15, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments."
When I want to be like someone, I crave time with them. I learn to walk like them, talk like them, think like them, and even use their body language. I was learning how to care for patients with dry eyes once, and how I learned was to follow closely the doctor who was the expert. He said, "Do this. Do that. Don't do this. Notice this, ignore that." And I did exactly that. Why? Because he knew how to care for people, and I wanted to be JUST LIKE HIM in that.
We remain close to Jesus by following him. Like a traveling rabbi, we need to walk so close to him, that our legs are covered with the dust of his sandals. This is seen through walking the same path that he has walked, by obeying His commands. We are his "hiking partner".  If we say we love Jesus and do not keep his commands, we are fooling ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:5-10)

4. PRACTICE GOOD.
Hebrews 5:14, "But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil."
How do we become mature? By practicing, training distinguishing good from evil. How do we come to know good from evil? By becoming a student of God's word (1 Timothy  3:16-17)
How do we remain immature? By not practicing, or training ourselves in godliness, by constant compromise of good from evil.
An example: Back in 1997, I asked a woman, who claimed to be a Christian, if she attended church anywhere (a basic regular practice for Christians, unless they are in a culture where there is no group of believers).  She said, "No. We are waiting for the Spirit to lead us to a place." I said, "How will you hear the Spirit in that if you won't listen to him in what he has already told you? Hebrews 10:24-25." She was offended by this...and they are still waiting. Also, there kids aren't following Jesus today. Having learned non-following from their parents.
A good read is 1 John. It teaches us to evaluate ourselves, and challenges us to go beyond mere talk or wishful thinking and to walking our talk. The book of James is another one that will surely challenge you in this area.

5. YIELD.
Galatians 5:16-26, "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." 
This passage shows us what the fruit of walking by, or yielding to the Spirit's leading will look like in our life.

Galatians 5:25, "If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another."

Yield sometimes is in real time, sometimes you need to come away and yield.
My son, Micah, was in TaeKwonDo. Before class begins you do silent meditation, or transition time. At the end of class you do the same, as you enter back into the real world. This is a great practice! Transition time.
As we grow in this, "yielding" to the Spirit's lead, we will be able to do it faster.
It is like dancing (thanks JD). The women "leans into" the man and follows his lead. At first, it is akward. Like Shellie & I doing balroom dancing on our honeymoon. I was so bad of a leader, and Shellie was following my...poor leadership, that the teacher stopped her class to tell us to stop messing around. I assured her that I wasn't. But I don't think she believed me. I was a poor leader. Not so with the Spirit. The more we lean into him, the more we lay down our pride and demand for control, respect, privilage, the better we will dance in the Spirit. And the more often we practice this, the better we will get. Even when life comes suddenly.

6. RESPOND.
Jesus taught of a seed that was planted in 4 types of soil (Luke 8:4-25). The 4 types of soil were 4 heart-conditions. The seed was His word.
Soil #1: Hard soil, the seed could not penetrate & Satan came and snatched away the word so they would not believe and be saved.
Soil #2: Rocky soil, the seed took root with much emotion and gusto, but when life got difficult, they let the plant burn out.
Soil #3: Weedy soil, the seed started to grow but the problems and worries of life choked the life out of it, and it withered.
Soil #4: Rich soil, the seed grew and produced fruit.

Ask the master to till your soil (caution: surrering may be required) and you also make sure to tend to your field. Do not sallow the weeds to choke out what JEsus has called you to.

7. EMOTIONS vs. SPIRIT
*A word about emotion.
Following the Spirit can but does not always include a feeling or emotion. Sometimes it is difficult to follow, and sometimes the thing He leads you to do is very stressful (after all Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted, and was severly stressed in the garden before his betrayal). Who can know the ways of the Spirit or put him into a box of emotion? So, if you are not "feeling" the Spirit, do what is right anyhow.

Many people have done wicked things in the name of the Spirit leading them. An example is the married woman who gets feelings for her old high school sweetheart. She feels that the Spirit is putting these feelings in her to leave her husband and children and shack up with this high school honey. All the while compromising what Scripture says, in the name of following the Lord. Nuts! So, if you emotions lead you to do what is wrong, it is NOT the Spirit. If some voice in your head tells you to do something wrong or believe something that opposes Scripture, it is NOT the Spirit. If an angel or another being comes to you and teaches you special words, that oppose Scriture or even Scriptural principles, it is NOT of the Lord. It is a lie (ie Joseph Smith, Muhammad).

We may have emotions as we follow the Lord, we may not. Our goal is faithfulness.

"The Spirit, when He comes, will lead you into all truth." -Jesus, John 16:13 (God's word)

Try practicing the presence of God. These steps alone will give you plenty to work on for a lifetime. They are sort of a "cliff-notes" for living. Enjoy.

8. DO IT.
So, not everyone will agree to this but I keep a little book. If you go to Harvest, you have probably seen me walking around with this. If you worked with me at Midwest Eye Consultants, you have probably seen me with this also.
David led his people with a heart of integrity and with a skillful hand (Psalm 78:72).
My book is with me when I pray and throughout the day. If something comes to mind and I think it is good and or from the Lord, I write it down, on my to consider list. Sometimes it is something I need to do, sometimes it is a prayer burden, sometimes it is an idea or concept that pops into my head. I want to be a person of the Book first. I want to be skilled in the things God has already laid out. This is why I went to Bible College, and getting ACBC Certified, and have a list of other certifications to counsel and handle God's word. WIth that, I also keep an open heart to God leading me, in conjunction and through the filter of His word. So, before I get written off as not being like the demonically influenced Dali Lama, because I am not odd enough {cough} know that I am open to God, but am learning to stayu open as I work hard, engage in the well-being of others, and do it in real time. To quote DL Moody, "I will pray while I am passing buckets."

This is the way I see it. Hopefully you will see it this way to.

Come, follow Jesus.

Jeff