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Here I go again stepping up on my soap box ever so slowly. I am sure  to get polarized comments to come, so let us all take a deep breath and examine some scripture that may help us all avoid some pitfalls.

soapbox

My motive here is nestled in my bewilderment of the changes in the church. I have been a christian for 32 years as of yesterday. But my history goes back just a tad further being born in 1961. I remember the BLUE LAW, no business on Sunday it was “Fellowship day”, no high school sports on Wednesday night that was “prayer meeting night”. Let me go on, school class room started with pledge allegiance to the flag followed by a volunteer student praying for a good day. Now you might say “for real” YES maybe you think that was terrible, maybe you think it was good, but we will all can agree it has changed.

I could focus on the fact that since 1973 there have been 57,191,366 abortions in the US as of today. But I would rather focus on the sin of the church one in particular. James 4:17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. If you dare to check the context you will find it is on boasting. Wow that would be way down the list of sins in the church. Why pick that one? It is starting to look like a horse race of sins in the church, the usual like sexual sin, is now common place and passed up by Being Proud Of It. The old front runner of gossip and backbiting was long passed by the new comer I Don’t Care Anymore. Yes I am being a bit silly making my point. It dawned on me this year while in Uganda when I watched a teen age ballet student who was on our little team gave an alter call in a PUBLIC school and nearly 1000 kids excepted Christ. 1000 you say? Yes and can you believe they can pray out loud and public in school something we have not done in the US for 40 years. Do I agree with everything they do NO they can be way to harsh on what the bible calls sin. We do not know how to even define sin anymore.

This brings me to my point defining things. How does the Church DEFINE the spiritual climate in America. It has become very divided mostly depending on End Time views, or the lack of, or the replacement of things to do with THE END. It would be great if Jesus would come back and release His long awaited justice and rule as KING. However it might be a while. So how we respond to the spiritual climate is important.

Let me say right now I am personally slowing down and seeking the Lord. Just Him, not what do you want me to do, or not do, just HIM. I am doing less and praying more when I say praying I don’t mean talking. I am doing that less. Listening praying, looks something like this. Reading scripture then being quiet. Yes I do have my list, but it is loosing its order of importance, and being in the Lords presence is increasing my desire to know Jesus more. Doing christian work out of that place seems better some how. Did I mention I am in a real place of weakness and brokenness and I can not even put my finger on why. It is actually refreshing to admit. So there!

With that said the title that brought you to this blog post is “Decree a thing! Who said that?” If we define Decree as telling the world what God has said, or even declaring to the heaven’s, then well done. However there are some, well meaning Christians who may have stepped over into something that will cause confusion in the end. If you do a study on google about Christians decreeing a thing you see their is a foundation to the theology. There are many scriptures having to do with decreeing, again if we are talking about prayer or singing the WORD, Scripture, the bible, What God has said, then fine.

What if its your own words, many websites speak of the fact that God created us in His image so we can do what he does create by OUR WORD. I would prefer to leave that to God. The foundation for this theological view comes from Job 22:28  Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.

Wow that is cool huh, God said to do it, NO actually He did not, that is actually Eliphaz the Tenanite one of Job’s friends. You might say wait a cotton picken minute, its in the bible so God said it. Hold on my friends the serpent is recorded in Gen 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: God did not say that, the devil did but it is in God’s word. That my friends is why we have 2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Yes we actually need to study.

If you read Job 2:11 and think God wants you out doing this as apposed to how I mentioned decreeing scripture earlier than you need to read the whole book of Job. When you get to chapter 42 you find God has a few things to say to our old friend Eliphaz. Here it is 7And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. 8Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job. 9So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them: the LORD also accepted Job.

I think there is warning here, be careful quoting something that Eliphaz says as if God said it. The problem started a few years back when some of the Big name preachers starting doing this and selling books and Cd’s and the whole charismatic church followed with out being like the Bereans in Acts 17:11. They took every thing the apostles said through the grid of scripture. Sadly we could see some real changes in a good way right now in prayer for our country, but so much of the church does not see the real spiritual condition because they are to busy being Eliphaz.

Just sayin

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I am by defintion a bapticostal, raised in a traditional baptist family even a preachers Kid. I took the road of rebellion like many of my pears, only to find the end lonely, dark, and revolting. Through a dramatic encounter with the Lord, I found Jesus as my rescuer, my deliverer, my peace, and ultimately as my Lord.

I was an expert in pain, emotional pain that is. When I began the Christian walk I found a revolving door of people desperate for just a moment of peace. My peace that came from Jesus seemed to be over flowing and people just knew. Our House was always full. My wife Dianna is a great cook and hostess and together we were a team. It didn’t take long for the needs to outweigh both my character and Dianna’s patience.

So it was time to train, time to wrestle with the Lord, as the Lord chipped away at my pride and prejudice. The answer came in an unexpected way.  It was compassion. Soon after my Jesus encounter we started attending a charismatic church. I didn’t quit fit in with hyper-faith movement. I watched a pastor die of Leukemia. He refused medical care and stood on faith until the end. I watched those around him dwindle as it became apparent He was not healed.

I prayed on the phone with Him just a few days before He passed away. His Faith was so strong, and I felt ashamed at the amount of Christians who passed judgement with a sentence of Lack of Faith. During that same time my Wife found out She had Cushings Syndrome. We had a few people who pulled the Lack of faith card but in most cases our Denominational friends showed great compassion.

After 25 years and being sick, and healed and praying for the sick, and seeing many healed and many not, I have come to these conclusions.

•Isaiah 53 vs 3-5 3 He was despised and rejected by men,  a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.  He was like one people turned away from;  He was despised, and we didn’t value Him. 4 Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.

•summed up in Hebrews 4:15 Hebrews 4:15 (Amplified Bible) 15For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning.

Jesus is not on the cross any more. He is at the right hand of God the Father presenting our case for us. He felt what we feel and He is moved by our pain and stirred with compassion for us. 

Yet remember :

•Phil 2:5-11, 5 Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, 6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. 7 Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, 8 He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death–even to death on a cross. 9 For this reason God also highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow– of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth– 11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

See Jesus took on humanity and while cloaked in pain, defeated death, and Returned to heaven. His life was an example of identifying with the pain, and for the joy that was set before Him He endured, even the cross.

I am blessed to have been given the opportunity to pray for the sick in the third world where the needs are overwhelming. Many times I have  just wept, and could not even find the words to pray yet God healed. I don’t know why some are healed and some are not, but This I Know. Love in the heart and compassion in your hands, God will be there too, maybe not like you think but He Will  be there.

I challenge you to trust God and don’t offer a why God didn’t, or won’t, or hasn’t, and continue knocking asking and seeking. Continue loving people in their pain and not be scared off by it. Don’t make a person who hasn’t been healed feel like a outcast or shameful. It’s not 12 steps or a lesson in the Greek word for healing that’s needed. It is LOVE, give some away today.

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Difference between a pipe and a bucket ?

Difference between a pipe and a bucket ?

Upper left is a photo of Bujagali falls on the great river Nile in Uganda. It is an awesome display of power and danger to the novice. The Nile transports an massive amount of water, can you imagine moving that volume one bucket at a time. A pipe would be a much faster way to move water, why? Because the pipe does not have a bottom.

The difference between a pipe and a bucket is: a bucket has a bottom in it.

Let me step up on my soap box and say we Christians and especially us in the western world like to  release God’s resources to the poor one bucket at a time so we can control waste and bring accountability. God forbid our alms would reach the hands of an alcoholic who wasted it on booze. Well sure we need to be accountable and sure we should be good stewards BUT. To be honest we like the control, we like to hold the purse.

There’s a great little movie called Bucket List about living your dreams before you kick the bucket. Well here is my version “The bottomless bucket list”.

Here is what I am starting to notice the less I hold on to MY money meaning giving to the poor the more I have. In other words the Lord Jesus is stretching me, as I cut a little more of the bottom out of my bucket. Who knows one day it might just be a pipe. I have a friend who wants to be a Christian millionaire so He can distribute much wealth to the poor. I had the thought wow I would like to give away a million dollars by the time I die but not to die a millionaire. There is a difference I’m sure.

 God is calling us to be pipes not buckets He has a great supply when we get rid of our bottom.

Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

Matt 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

Prov 19:17 He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.

This is the season to give, the greatest thing that we can give away is Jesus.

What would our bottomless bucket list look like?

Would it look like the Bottomless Bucket List Jesus had?

Bottomless Bucket list make yours out today!

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Short term measurements not intended for God’s Kingdom.

 

I have waited for several weeks to work on this blog. It has been a red hot issue for me and now is cooled off so I can touch it. I will be try to be careful not to run anyone off as I was not directly effected by this topic it was noticed from a distance. 

 

I have had many examples over the last several months of senior leadership in the charismatic church world, using measurements to define a ministry. Either found worthy of continuing or aborting the ministry. I am completely convinced that the church is in a hurry where they should not be.

 

In my history I have noticed the things that take off with a big bang usually come to an abrupt halt. The slow as a snail growth takes a long time but it is like the ever-ready bunny it just keeps going and going.

 

It is like a revolving door of new idea’s for church growth. Try it for a while then measure it, ops no growth, kill it, and try the next thing. The problem is that there are real people who bought into the vision and put lots of time in, and now told to just pitch it, and off to the next thing. Over the long haul the faithful workers either begin to question leadership’s ability to lead or get offended, because?  

 

Here is the truth, short term measurements and measuring the size of growth or fruit  comes from a “bigger is better” worldly idea that has crept into the church and I wish it would creep right back out the door.

 


Paul uses the greek word Metron which means:

  1.  measure, an instrument for measuring
    1. a vessel for receiving and determining the quantity of things, whether dry or liquid
    2. a graduated staff for measuring, a measuring rod
    3. proverbially, the rule or standard of judgment
  2. determined extent, portion measured off, measure or limit
    1. the required measure, the due, fit, measure

 

In the verses below the greek word Metron as translated is in red, from this we can clearly see that the thing worth seeing in ministry is the thing the Lord add’s to our little portion. We can plant and water BUT the increase comes from God. May we be very careful calling something unfruitful without giving the Lord time to add His Metron to the mix.

 

 

 

Ro 12:3   

For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

 

 

2Co 10:13 

 

 

 

But we will not boast beyond our measure, but within the measure of the sphere which God

apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even as far as you

Eph 4:7   

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

Eph 4:13   

until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measureof the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.

Eph 4:16   

from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

 

2 Tim 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Heb 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,

It is not how we start out my friends but how we finish, let us be like Paul, finish well.

It will take patience to measure that.

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January 13th early in the morning my wife Dianna woke me up and told me “you sure are sleeping loud” I knew it was true I had been dreaming I was back in Africa and I had been dropped into the middle of devastation. I was working to get orphans into homes. It was overwhelming, one minute I was in Africa the next I would be back in Missouri. Then the dream slowed down into slow motion. I had been trying to get someone to explain to me what had brought about such devastation in Africa and how I ended up in the middle of it all.

There it was the longest train I had ever seen, it was a old coal burning train. It was pulling passenger cars and on each car was written Show Me Orphan Train. In the windows were little faces pressed against the glass. At this point I am crying looking into the faces of desperation to be loved, it was overwhelming. In the dream Linda a 20 year old Ugandan girl that is living with us while going to college pointed at the children and said “John it’s about them” I woke immediately with all kinds of emotions.

I thought about the meeting I have today with my friends from Alma Missouri introducing them to Gizaw my friend from Ethiopia who will be talking to us about the need for orphanages in Ethiopia. I thought about our friends John and Sharon who minister in Kenya that had just been at the house talking about the conditions there. I thought about my own experiences in Uganda, Egypt and Ethiopia.

Then I thought about a teaching that Regina Shank does on overcoming rejection and She tell’s stories about the orphan trains that would move from the east coast to the Midwest dropping off children to waiting families. Of course there are some bad stories about abuse and using the kids as slave labor. As a whole the Midwest provided homes, I myself have a great grandmother who was an orphan and was taken in to a wonderful family in Beatrice Nebraska.

Here is an advertisement below that appeared in the Troy Free Press Feb 11, 1910. Troy is in Lincoln County.

Wanted
HOMES for CHILDREN
A company of homeless children from the East will arrive at
TROY, MO., ON FRIDAY, FEB. 25th, 1910
These children are of various ages and of both sexes, having been thrown friendless upon the world. They come under the auspices of the Children’s Aid Society of New York. They are well disciplined, having come from the various orphanages. The citizens of this community are asked to assist the agent in finding good homes for them. Persons taking these children must be recommended by the local committee. They must treat the children in every way as a member of the family, sending them to school, church, Sabbath school and properly clothe them until they are 17 years old. The following well-known citizens have agreed to act as local committee to aid the agents in securing homes:
O. H. AVERY   E. B. WOOLFOLK   H. F. CHILDERS
WM. YOUNG   G. W. COLBERT
Applications must be made to, and endorsed by, the local committee.
An address will be made by the agent. Come and see the children and hear the address. Distribution will take place at the
Opera House, Friday, Feb. 25, at 1:30 p.m.
B. W. TICE and MISS A. L. HILL, Agents, 105 E. 22nd St., New York City. Rev. J. W. SWAN, University Place, Nebraska, Western Agent

 orphantrain1.jpg

Orphan Train in Black & White – Diamond Someday “above”

Here are the words to a blue grass song: Orphan Train “below”

By (Utah Phillips)

Once I had a darling mother, though I can’t recall her name
I had a baby brother who I’ll never see again
For the Children’s Home is sending us out on the Orphan Train
To try to find someone to take us in

cho: Take us in, we have rode the Orphan Train
     Take us in, we need a home, we need a name
     Take us in, oh won’t you be our kin
     We are looking for someone to take us in

I have stolen from the poorbox, I’ve begged the city streets
I’ve swabbed the bars and poolrooms for a little bite to eat
In my daddy’s old green jacket and these rags upon my feet
I’ve been looking for someone to take me in

The Children’s Home they gathered us, me and all the rest
They taught us to sit quietly until the food was blest
Then they put us on the Orphan Train and sent us way out West
To try to find someone to take us in.

The farmers and their families they came from miles around
We lined up on the platform of the station in each town
And one by one we parted like some living lost-and-found
And one by one we all were taken in

Now there’s many a fine doctor or a teacher in your school
There’s many a good preacher who can teach the Golden Rule
Who started out an orphan sleeping in the freezing rain
Whose life began out on the Orphan Train.

Well I have to get going and get ready for Church, I just wanted to get the dream down before I forgot it. I hope it will stir you up to pray for those all over the world that have no place to call home and no one to call family. They need to know they have a father who has declared so from heaven. Some times we need to be reminded as the church we are His hands and Feet and more than that we are His Family with open arms and open eyes.

Psalms 68:4-6  Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds– his name is the Lord– and rejoice before him. 5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. 6 God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

Part 2   https://riverflowsdown.wordpress.com/2008/01/16/show-me-orphan-train-dream-part-2/

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Dianna and I just got back from seeing Bucket List. I feel asleep not because it was boring but because I had been up since 3 am and had worked until noon. It definitely was not a christian movie with some strong language and a soft message that implied all roads lead to heaven. There was however a cord struck in my heart. Living Life unshackled by fear and not waiting until the last moment to do something about it. 

The question is raised if you knew exactly when you were going to die what would you do different. I think the biggest enemy for a christian is fear. Fear of failing. Fear of rejection. Fear of being alone. Fear of making God mad. Unless we have experienced the depths of the Love of Christ we shrink back in fear.

In Paul’s apostolic prayer in Ephesians perfect Love is made clear. 

Ephesians 3:14-21
14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. 20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

If we are operating in fear or sitting back doing nothing because of fear realize that’s not coming from God, but the enemy. Power Love and sound mind now that comes from the Lord.

2 Tim 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Fear when it runs its course will torment you, friends the answer is in the Love of Christ, as we return with our whole heart to Him and rest in that Love that fear must flee.

1 John 4:18  There is no fearin love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

With a heart free of fear and made perfect in love we can live life without regret and live life to its fullest. What a difference we can start making in the lives of our family and friends not to mention strangers. They are waiting!!! 

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 Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, and at the same time He was a man’s Man. During His 33 years on the planet He created He related to real every day people and knew how to get to Them. My favorite hook He used was that of the fisherman. Jesus was calling these rough young fisherman to be become His disciples and He caught them with a word picture they could understand “I will make you fishers of Men”.   

Mark 1:14-18, 14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. 16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. 18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.

Let me tell you how Jesus hooked me the same way. It started back with John William Gross my grandfather who by trade was a lineman for Kansas city power and light but at heart He was a river rat. From the time I could cast my zebco 33 grandpa went to work teaching me how to tie a knot that wouldn’t break and how to take a hook out of the fishes mouth without getting stuck. Above all He gave me time and attention.

Years later as an adult I was in the back yard working in the garden when our neighbor Denver Stark ventured over and said “the Flathead are moving up grand river”. I told Him I had never fished for Flathead and asked Him if He could teach me how. He did and that lead to the greatest summer of fishing I have ever experienced.

My wife’s cousin Jeff Arnold and I took His canoe up the river with a 5 gallon bucket of live bait fish and limb lines that we tie off on good green limbs. We set our lines and went to make camp. We had just started a fire when we heard what sounded like a deer crossing the river. As we watching the bank up river about 50 yards no deer came in sight. The splashing continued and we thought oh no that poor deer got tangled in our line. We jumped in the canoe and paddled away. It was just getting dark and the green limb was under water. I leaned over the side and found the line and lifted it up slowly and then the hardest jerk you can imagine sent my heart into fast mode. I reached for the dip net and 20 minutes later Jeff and I wrestled the Big Cat Fish in the boat. Here is the picture of me with my first of many big cat’s.   

flat-head.jpg

Not to far in time from this picture God hooked me. I had been a Christian for about 10 years. I was working with the youth, doing a lot of prayer, writing music, doing jail ministry you know normal Christianity. I had just read a book that had challenged me to ask the Lord if I had any hidden sin issues so deep that I had even hid them from myself. Nothing happened for several weeks then it happened. My wife Dianna had me sit down and told me to brace myself. I was not braced enough. She told me that Her best friend at the time Karen had married my arch enemy Kevin. Karen was a Christian He was not, and She had asked Dianna if I could befriend Him hoping to get Him into church. Dianna had explained there was bad blood between us and that might not be good. I went off, yelling and screaming, then I remembered what I had prayed and could not believe I had so much bitterness built up inside. Even after much prayer and repentance it took two weeks for me to agree to meet with Kevin. We had a meal together, and we both felt uneasy but worked hard, mostly to make the wives happy. We eventually became friends and Kevin starting to come with us to Church and about 6 months later during an alter call He went up. My good friend Steve Lovelace and I prayed with Kevin as He asked Jesus to forgive Him of His sin and asked Him to come into His heart. There was a massive change in lifestyle and we were all so happy. Several weeks later Kevin was killed in a head on collision by an oncoming truck.

You have no idea how glad I am that I asked the Lord to reveal any hidden sin like unforgiveness. I am so glad the Lord was and is faithful and longsuffering. If we want to catch the big fish we MUST lay our nets down and follow Jesus. What an adventure ahead, Happy Fishing.

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