A Glitch – Part 3

I have been tracking the activities of mankind for a while. I began to see a correlation between what was happening in Israel and the Christian Church. You would think that they aren’t related but they are. Pentecostalism wasn’t worldwide for hundreds of years. People became Christians but the power in the Church wasn’t there. Pentecostalism did break out in the 20th century in America in the Azuza Street Revival. But it wasn’t worldwide. During the 6 Day war in Israel, the Israelites re-captured Jerusalem in 1967. Then began a spontaneous Revival from God Himself. People were being baptized in the Holy Spirit with tongues of fires upon their heads. Just as it was in the 1st century with the Apostles in Jerusalem. The power of God came down from heaven to mankind. It went worldwide within a few years. In every denomination in the world was touched by God. Even denominations that don’t believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues received it. God didn’t leave out anyone. If you ask God for it, it happened in your life. The 1970’s became the decade of Great Revivals. Churches went up everywhere. People were coming to the Lord. Lives were being changed. This is where I came in. it was an exciting time. The presence of God was everywhere. People were excited and joyful. Even as the 70’s came to a close, the Church world was changing. If the Church was to be affective in our world they had to learn of God. So bible schools began to open all over the world. It was time to go to God’s school and learn. Even the Apostle Paul had to go back to school. For 14 years God taught him on the back side of the desert before he began his ministry. I’ll continue the story tomorrow.

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A Glitch – Part 2

In the 1st century, Ephesus was one of the largest cities of the times. Most people from every nation came to trade there. Anyone who had a mind for business made money. There were wealthy people in Ephesus. One reason that the Romans wanted to be there. They garrisoned the city and protect them for anyone attacking the city. It was almost like Rome itself. You could get anything you wanted. This is also why the Christian Church was based out of Ephesus. The Jewish people had revolted against Rome and their government was oppressive. So the Church moved to Ephesus. There still was a Church in Jerusalem, but it was very hard to function. The 1st bishop of Ephesus was the Apostle John, brother of James, son of Zebedee. The Church in its beginning was great. They were powerful and effective. They had a large percentage of the population in the Church. The Church was wealthy also. It had money to do the work God called them to. They had the main Church and 6 satellite Churches. The seven churches in Asia where Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. This is where the glitch comes in. Somewhere in the middle of all this wonderful prosperity, the Church began to change. The focus became money and not God. They began to leave God out of the lives. They were too busy pursuing money. They lost a lot of their power. Once that went they lost their effectiveness. Persecution rose to a height that the people were killing Christians. In 90 AD, the city of Ephesus arrested John and put him on the Isle of Patmos to die. But God had other plans for John. There he wrote the Book of Revelation. It only took 40 years for the most powerful Christian Church to fail. You can read for yourself the story in the bible, the books of Ephesians and in Revelations. 40 years, in 1 generation there came a glitch in human history. And unfortunately it is a recurring error that happens throughout the history of mankind. For the love of money is the root of all evil. Not long after that the headquarters for the Christian Church moved to Alexandria, Egypt.

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A Glitch – A Recurring Error

For many years I have watched mankind as a whole. Looking at what people do consistently. Life as we know it is pretty regular. We go after the 3 basics, food, shelter and clothing. It seems that our lives are mundane or even boring. Unless something interrupts our daily lives. 200 t0 300 years ago, it would be a wagon train coming into town or a ship sailing into harbor. If you lived by the sea. Columbus watched the ships sail in and out of Genoa, Italy and discovered that the earth was round. A 100 years ago, it would be a circus that came to town or God forbid a war breaking out somewhere. Life would go along until something exciting came along. Some people like the routine of life. It makes them feel safe and secure. While others like the adventure and excitement of the unknown. But I have noticed a recurring cycle or error in the lives of mankind. The cycle is about 40 years. It is generally referred to as a generation. In that cycle is a glitch, a recurring error in every generation. I first discovered this glitch in a story over 2000 years ago. It is the story of Ephesus in Asia Minor. As the Roman army spread across the world, they would conquer countries. But if the city surrendered to them they wouldn’t destroy it. The Romans would collect a tribute and leave a garrison in the city. Ephesus was one of these cities. It was an important port city and very wealthy. When the Romans came, they brought their technology with them. Ephesus became a thoroughly modern city. They had features that we have today. Such as paved roads, running water, sewers, and even air conditioning. They had street lamps to light the main roads. They also had a large population. The city was over 100,000 people. The need for agricultural products was very great. The farming was very intense. The land around Ephesus was farmed so intently that there was a great amount of erosion. And all the run off went into the harbor. The harbor silted so badly that the city of Ephesus is now 10 miles from the sea. Their prosperity didn’t help them to survive for more than 60 years. I’ll finish the story tomorrow.

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On the Edge of the Brink

Did you ever stand on the edge of a cliff to look down into the valley? It is called the brink. There are many beautiful views in the Great Smokey Mountains. I took a boat ride down the Pigeon River. It had was a class 3-4 whitewater rapid river. 2 of my sons and I rode the river. It was exciting. In the middle of August, the river was 65 degrees. It was cold. We just had to jump in and ride the river. I fell in the river and had an extremely hard time getting back to the boat. But I will do it again. I came to the brink and drove into it. During the 60’s, political activism was encourage for everyone to be involved in the shaping our country. Many pastors thought that this was a way to keep the influential power of the Church. It worked for a time because the general thought was that we are a Christian nation. Churches were involved in political campaigns. Many Christians won. More people were interested in programs than the Gospels. It was and is a popular way to run a church. It isn’t the first time this has happened. It happened in the 1st century with the new Christian church. Ephesus was the center of Christianity in the 1st century. It was a free Roman city. It was very wealthy and modern. It had paved roads, running water, sewers, street lamps and air conditioning. The agricultural was so extensive. They had to keep planting crops just to keep up with the demand. It caused erosion and silted the harbor. Ephesus is still there, but it is a city 10 miles from the sea. The Christians became obsessed with making money that they literally lost their way. They came to the brink. You can read the story in Ephesians and Revelations. In 40 years, Ephesus went from the most powerful Christian church, to a church on the brink of failure. And guess what it has happened again. Look around and see what is left of the Church in America. Jesus was very specific about this. He told them to return to their first love or He would remove their light from them.

 

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Forgiveness

To err is human and to forgive is divine. It is a quote from Alexander Pope in the 18th century England. He understood how important forgiveness is in one’s life. Knowing that we can be forgiven lifts such a great burden off of our lives. I understand this all too well. I thought I was going to die because in I was in such need of forgiveness in my life. When it came there was such a relief. It felt like I floated home. I have seen people crushed by the weight of their lives. Sometimes they just get into a death spiral and can’t get out. Not receiving forgiveness is a death spiral. So where do you go to get forgiveness? Jesus forgave a person’s sin and the religious leaders objected. Saying only God has the authority to forgive sin. They were right only God can forgive sin. And this is why God wants us to be like Him and forgive. Jesus said how can you say that you love God who you can’t see. And hate your brother who you can see. If we want to be like God, then we need to forgive. The disciples asked Jesus how often do we forgive someone who has sinned against us. They said 7 times. Jesus said 70 x 7.  Jesus came to this earth for several very important reasons. The 1st and foremost was to die for the forgiveness of our sins. Then He came to show us how we can live just as God said. He is our example of what life is about. Forgiveness is part and parcel to our living. It is to be given and to be received in our lives.

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Goals

I have always been goal oriented. I have worked since I was 13 years old. In college I worked 40 hours a week and took 12 hours of classes. It worked for me until a girlfriend and a fraternity came along. Then it all went sideways. Then came the military for 6 years. I wish I had taken the advantages offered me in the military. When I didn’t have a job or a goal, I felt lost. It was like the world had stopped for me. I was 28 years old when I took on the biggest challenge of my life. It is strange because I am a quiet person. If I don’t know you I usually don’t speak very much. When I took on the biggest challenge I had to become an extravert. I had to learn to speak well and convince people I was sincere. I would have rather not opened my mouth. I have learned that words have power. They can create or destroy. So I began to speak and people responded to me. I have always had a saying, say what you mean and mean what you say. So I did and I saw results that I never had before. There was a young man I knew. He sat on a fence post most of the time. He wouldn’t commit himself to anything. I told him a story one day. I said, what would you say about a person who saw his neighbor’s house on fire and said nothing. He knew that his neighbor was in the house. You would say that person was no good. Then I turned and pointed my finger at him and said, your house is on fire and you are dying. I told him that Jesus died to set him free. God has offered a promise that is good only for your lifetime. He is there waiting for you. And all you have to do is ask.

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Making a Choice

Taking responsibility for one’s actions has always been a choice. The prevailing thought today is that it’s somebody else’s fault. It is funny how 150 years ago, people stood up and took responsibility for their own actions. But there creeped in an idea that it was your mother’s or your father’s fault. It is prevalent in the judicial system. The gun made me do it. So it is the gun’s fault. If you look at TV today, the US government is trying to sell us the same idea. Instead of taking responsibility for their actions, it’s everybody else’s fault. I wish that people, especially in power, would be truthful and stand up and be honest. Taking responsibility sometimes is a very hard thing to do. Because it may kill you. Even though a person must be true to their selves and made the choice. Living a lie isn’t easy. It is actually harder than living the truth. I know about this because the first part of my life was a lie. It took me almost 30 years to come to myself. But where I did I found that God was already there waiting for me. I cried a lot. I saw the lie for what it was. It was the death and destruction that was plaguing my life. Once I saw the truth, I had to make a choice. Whether I was going to follow after God and live. Or if I was going to continue in death or destruction. I’m glad of the hope in my heart that God put there. I made the choice to follow God. I have never been disappointed in that decision. It hasn’t always been easy. But my life has been simplified. Make the choice today, choose God and His kingdom. Take responsibility for your actions and live a better life.

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The Passion of Mary

One of the hardest things a parent has to do is to bury one of their children. Life is hard enough to accomplish all that you want to do. When we bury a parent, we understand that they lived their life. And it is their turn to go on. I know I grieved for my mother for several years. I know how hard it was. My younger brother died about this time last year. I shut down for almost a month after his death. But to lose a baby, I don’t know if I could have survived. My 3rd son had spinal meningitis when he was 6 months old. The doctors said if he lives. He will probably be vegetable. The pain began to swell in me, then something happened. The peace of God overtook me. God brought peace to my heart. God healed him after 3 days. He is almost 30 years old. Death is a part of life, our lives. The older we become, we understand that it is ahead of us. And it comes to us rather quickly. Sometimes as a friend, but sometimes it happens in violence. Mary was the mother of Jesus. God had spoken to her before she became pregnant. Mary accepted God’s will. Then her betrothed accepted God’s will. Jesus was born and reared by loving parents. By the time Jesus started His ministry, His father Joseph has died. Jesus understood why He came to this earth to die for our sins. Mary may have known all along but it was never easy. She believed God and saw after her son, Jesus. When the time came, Mary was at the cross where they crucified Jesus. I can only imagine what she suffered. But Mary didn’t leave and turn away. She believed. But to bury your son I can’t imagine the pain she suffered.

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Passion

Our lives are filled with many emotions. We are taught as we grow up that we need to control our emotions. We have all seen what unbridled emotions can do. Last week in Orlando is a perfect example of it and road rage and many, many others. But this doesn’t mean that our emotions are bad. They just need to be controlled. Emotions are a part of life and truthfully if we didn’t have them life would be empty. Do you remember when you were young and you discovered something. And you became passionate about it. You were so excited you couldn’t contain yourself. Your excitement became contagious.  People were seeing what you saw. This is passion. In my life I have seen many things and some I wish I had never seen. But when I saw God for the first time and felt His hand on me, I became passionate. There was nothing else in this world that could match God Himself. I wanted to do nothing else but to tell people about God and His grace. Not everyone accepted what I had to say. But those who did, their lives turned around. And they became passionate. It is unfortunate that people want what they want and aren’t willing to hear. It has been 35 years since I met God and accepted His promise. And I am still as passionate as I was in the beginning. I wouldn’t want to live any other way. God is waiting for you. All you have to do is ask.

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The Unknown

What we know is a mere shadow of the unknown. Our knowledge is limited by who we are. When I began to walk with God, I literally threw myself into the pursuit of God. I read the bible with an unquenchable desire to learn about God. I had a bible at home and one in the car and one at work. I read wherever I was. I made notes on things that I learned. I kept gaining in knowledge and pursuing after God. The more I learn the more I wanted to learn. I went from being a servant to being a son with all the benefits that involves. As a son, I had a lot of privileges. I began to test the boundaries of these privileges. As I did my faith began to grow experientially. I saw what Jesus said I could do on this earth. Do you know that Jesus said that great things shall I do because He goes to the Father. I don’t know if you know all the things that Jesus did on this earth, but they weren’t small. I have seen many miracles and it isn’t over yet. With my faith, I could ask God to do things for me. And God would hear my prayers and answer them. Jesus taught His disciples to pray. It is called the Our Father or the Lord’s Prayer. It is an example of how to pray. There is a part in that prayer that says, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. This revolutionized my praying. I literally was bringing God’s will to earth with my prayers. My praying became very serious. I wasn’t going to waste my prayers on foolishness. Then I discovered that my prayers will stay in effect on earth long after my death. They will accomplish God’s will until the end of time. Which means that all the prayers that my family prayed 500 years ago are still in effect. My pursuit of God has taught me one thing, my knowledge of God is just the tip of the iceberg. What is known to me is just a little of the unknown.

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