Messianic Praise and Worship

 

 

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Two Sane Men Have a Conversation

 

Don’t always agree with everything these two men say, but appreciate totally their rare bravery and intelligence in speaking up against the tide of liberal stupidity.  I also appreciate listening to two men with respect for women, with a desire for God (even if Jordan is sadly off base with his New Agey approach) and understanding of  what character, integrity, and serious NON-AGGRESSIVE, humble discussion is all about.  Not one single F-Bomb in this conversation.

It saddens me deeply that there are no genuine born-again Christian leaders with this kind of public reach apart from perhaps one (Charles Lawson) who can discuss these issues and have actually thought through their beliefs.  If we as believers can be as assiduous and thorough as these men are, we will find far more contentment with our lives than we will chasing after the easy believism false gospels of hedonists like Hillsong, Joel Houston, Rodney Howard Browne, et al.

Pray these men will find the Lord Jesus Christ and become born again very soon.

The Dichotomy of Babel

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I want you to watch this video.  It’s a wonderful video given by a lovely lady, Barbara Sher who has a great story about how she got started helping others find their dreams.  It is uplifting and it is glorious that so many people are getting to do what they heart desires and others are helping them do it.  Just by speaking up in a group, the whole group can make the ideas of individuals come alive.

I was fascinated watching people’s faces whilst they were listening to Barbara.  She is like the grandmother that you always wanted, and indeed, who wouldn’t have become the person they were always going to be with this lady in your corner.  Who in fact wouldn’t want to inspire that kind of affection and joy seen on the faces of the audience.

But the minute I finished watching this video, I began to think…. Isn’t this what happens in churches?  Aren’t christians supposed to be doing something like this?  Don’t we hear testimonies about how God has miraculously brought things to pass because somebody prayed for something to happen and somehow somebody else gave them money, or a job, or knew somebody who could do something for them?  Isn’t this how God works?  So if that is so, then what is it that is happening here with Barbara’s self-help groups.  What’s the difference.  Is there any?  I almost began to panic.

But then two things came immediately to mind.  The first was the tower of Babel, and the second was that the will of man, however good it may be and however much it is felt in the heart and pursued by the individual, is not the will of God.  We can do all things if we make enough effort.  The tower of Babel is proof enough of that.  And in today’s environment of the exponential multiplication of knowledge, it is almost impossible to keep up with the surges of technology and innovation in science.

It is inevitable that as there is nothing new under the sun so also as it was in the beginning so it will be in the end.  God was able to keep men from their ultimate goal of invading heaven and the eternal for many thousands of years but it seems that here at the end, the Nimrodian vision will have its manifestation. For Nimrod was a type of Antichrist and the real deal will be with us soon if he is not already.

Therefore, this harmless and banal looking old lady with her wonderful groups who are helping others and making other people’s dreams’ come true is simply a smaller version of the Tower of Babel.  It sounds like a poor comparison, but the essence of this is the same.  Moreover, just because somebody wants to run a zoo, or have a girlfriend doesn’t mean that these people are now happy and fulfilled. Essentially what is being procured is somebody else’s desires and regardless of whether they take a month or a year to come to fruition, they are in essence, just desires.  They don’t have to be good, they don’t even have to be for the benefit of mankind, they just are what they are.  And if  you can get somebody else to help you get what you want, then it must be good right?  Of course it is a good thing to make other people happy.  The problem with people’s happiness is that it is not based in righteousness, it is very often based in the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, things which the bible tells us are not going to end in happiness at all.

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

1 John 2 NKJV

Let’s think about church for a minute.  I was confused as I thought about the seeming cloney type manifestation that these groups had to church groups.  I have been in bible studies where somebody has professed a need, I mean a real need like not being able to pay their rent or needing a job or needing a house to live in, and the group has prayed and they have seen God move or somebody has offered help in the same way that Paul and Peter taught in the early church, that those with an abundance help those with a need.  A non-Christian might look at these two things and say they are one and the same but they aren’t.  One group is about ‘dreams’, the other group is about needs.  Nobody in a bible study is going to say, ask the group to get them a girlfriend.  Few would even have the courage to speak up and ask them to pray for them to find a wife.  There is a difference.  One group is seeking to fulfill human desires, the other is seeking the will of God and asking God as a Father to provide actual needs.  It isn’t the same thing at all.

Just as the tower of Babel was not about needs but about power, self-promotion and pride, so the groups Barbara Sher founded are not about seeking the God who created them but about helping ourselves to become what we want to become.

The dichotomy contained in the story of the tower of Babel was that from a human standpoint, what they did was truly magnificent.  But from God’s standpoint, all that magnificence had come together to defy and insult their maker.  The people of Shinar would have known who Noah was, and would have known about the flood and God’s judgement upon the human hybrids who had multiplied upon the earth.  It wasn’t just a case of human beings behaving badly, this was a case of human beings who had lost their humanity.  So the earth needed to be cleansed from them.  Noah and his three sons were evidently the only ones who were righteous before God and it was through Noah’s son Shem that the lineage of Christ came.  Satan was all fired up to destroy God’s own plan to crush his head, but he failed.  Again. The tower of Babel was Satan’s attempt to get at God another way.  He’s doing the same thing again.  He will fail.  Again.

Whether we are building a tower which we think will mark us out as god-like, or just wanting to write a novel, if our plans and dreams are purely self-generated and self-interpreted, we are like the Ninevites, the Babylonians, the Sodomites, the Gomorrahites and all the other ites who caused trouble to God and His people for centuries.  We will simply be following our own desires at the expense of God’s.  And for many people that’s OK.  So for those, they will take a hold of Barbara’s self-empowering methods to chase after what you want and they will uphold her as a great teacher and mother of all who feel isolated from getting what they want.  Of course we can do whatever we want whenever we want it.  That has never been in question.  The real problem is not being able to do whatever we put our minds to.  The real problem is why we are not able to do what God wants us to do.  Why, when God is manifestly greater in love and beneficence than a lovely friendly lady like Barbara Sher are we more often likely to avoid His will, His desires for us, even His gaze upon us.  Why?  Because God is holy, perfect, righteous and all-powerful.  He is also our creator.  He is to be worshipped and feared, and in order to become a part of His will, we have to die to our own will and who really wants to have any part of their will or person denied?  It is not normal human behaviour.  It IS normal human behaviour to create great monuments to our bad-assery.

So, while it is uplifting to hear Barbara Sher recount her start in helping others get what they want in life, ultimately, it is not and was not the reason human beings were created in the first place.  As Christians, we are called to help others in need, but again, we are also called to help our brothers and sisters, not the whole world.  When Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan, he was not talking to the secular untaught masses, he was talking to Jews and those connected to them.  He was telling people who were often blood related as often as not to help their brothers and sisters and to good to those in need, to not pass by on the other side if they saw a man in trouble and the use of the Samaritan was pointed.  Samaritans and Jews were at odds with each other.

The Samaritans were a group of people who lived in Samaria – an area north of Jerusalem. They were half-Jews and half-Gentiles. When Assyria captured the northern kingdom of Israel in 721 B.C. some were taken in captivity while others left behind. The ones left behind intermarried with the Assyrians. Thus these people were neither fully Hebrews nor fully Gentiles. The Samaritans had their own unique copy of the first five books of Scripture as well as their own unique system of worship. At the time of Jesus the Jews and the Samaritans did not deal with one another. Jesus, however, ministered to the people of Samaria preaching the good news to them.

Blue Letter Bible

So even Jesus recognised that these were of the same lineage as the Jews despite their intermarrying and their corrupted beliefs.  Jesus was still their Messiah.  He was telling them the gospel, He wanted to meet their needs as well.

For in fact, this is the key to all of this.  Our greatest need is for a Saviour, not for a girlfriend or to be able to dance with Patrick Swayze.  These might be fine things in and of themselves and not exactly wrong or sinful, but they emanate from a sinful heart which chases after the things of the world.  Our greatest joy, our greatest fulfillment comes when Christ reigns in our hearts and fills us with His Holy Spirit.

Who am I?

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And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Luke 19 NKJV

When I was a teenager, I thought very deeply about who I was and where I fit in.  Yet I was born into a family who could not offer me a place of belonging.  I remember going to my mother and father one day in desperation crying out ‘I don’t know who I am’.  My father looked down with no words of comfort or help, wouldn’t even look me in the eye, and my mother flailed her hands around and cried ‘I can’t stand it when you are like this’. This was the first time I had ever voiced this despair, so my mother’s response was about her own lack.   I remember realising with a sinking heart that I was alone, that my parents could not help me.  The feeling passed, as feelings tend to do when you are a teenager, but I have never forgotten that incident.  It inscribed on my soul the understanding that I was lost, that my family was lost and that nobody was able to point to the way home.  Part of the reason I became a Christian was because a part of me recognised home in the Christians who preached salvation to me. However, I needed to travel a great deal further to understand that salvation is not in the church, but in Christ himself, and to recognise my lost condition I was going to need to have a much greater revelation of myself and of Jesus.

We are apt to think, especially in the church, that we, as Christians, are the blessed, the prospering, the glorious, the favourites of God. We do this readily, but without much thought or even bible reading; certainly without much spiritual understanding. We tend to believe without much nuance and in all encompassing generalities leaving ourselves open to misunderstandings and excusing a general lack of desire to search the scriptures for truth. We leave the bible study to the experts like the pastor or authors and teachers.

We have been told over and over again, especially if we have been part of certain church traditions, that we are special, better than those other poor sods over there who don’t have what we have.  The language may not be that specific but the message is conveyed just the same. Christians are just as exclusive as any other group of humans and therein lies the problem.  Are we looking to a group of human beings for our identity or to the one who created us?  Is our primal connection to humans or to Jesus Christ? Because if we are looking to people, we will overlook the delicate issues, the differences of theological opinion, even the possibility that our definition of salvation is wrong.  We will overlook these things in order to focus on belonging.  If this is the case, then when somebody leaves because they denounce our beliefs as wrong, or our group as not meeting their needs, we shun, we reject, we close ranks because our identities as humans have been attacked.

If we are centered in God’s definition of us, we will not fall into this very carnal trap.

This is something we seek as human beings.  We want to be part of something larger than ourselves. Something greater than we are. We want to connect ourselves to a group, a family, who will declare us to be acceptable not just to others but to God. Our most fundamental, yet least realised, yearning is to know who we are.  We cover our unmet desires by rushing to grasp hold of anything which will reassure us of our identity.  Yet too many of us rush to embrace identities which are not ours and were never meant to be ours.

If we come from families which have rejected us, if we have been bullied as children or hurt by significant others in our lives the pain of isolation and brokenness causes us to be even more desperate to know where we will be safe.  We think if we know who we are, if we can identify with a group of others we will be stronger because we will stand together, we will be able to say as one, this is who I am, this is who we are, and the longing for the deepest unmet need will be met.  Yet it doesn’t happen.

How many Christians are  dissatisfied, confused and constantly seeking the truth of their identity, moving from church to church, often because of false teaching or practice, but also because they are fundamentally troubled and don’t even recognise it.

Every human seeks identity amongst those who are like us, and it is a natural orientation; ‘Birds of a Feather’ and so on.  But we are looking for reassurance in the wrong place. We go to the natural to find solace, to the material, to the seen, rather than the unseen.  We don’t go immediately to God, we go to God’s people.  We think we know who God is because we know who God’s people are.  But today, God’s people are not who we think they are.  We look for theological orthodoxy, we look for biblical understanding, we look for traditional praxis and outward recognition of what is ‘Christian’ and settle on these things.  But there always remains a seed of doubt, a germ of unrest which is never quite satisfied.

Paul said that there was a reason that there were not many wise nor noble nor rich who were saved. He was trying to explain why the gospel was not acceptable in any culture, whether Greek or Hebrew, worldly or religious. 1 Corinthians chapter 1 gives us a comprehensive understanding of why we don’t find what we are looking for in the modern church.

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks[b] foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

The genuine believers, those who are called and chosen of God were destined before the foundation of the world to be the lost.  It is the weak, the orphaned, the broken, the imprisoned and the failure who is the favourite of God.  Look throughout scripture and you will see the pattern everywhere.  Adam and Eve tried 3 times to beget an heir, the precedent to the seed who would crush Satan’s head.  And over and over since then, it is the younger or youngest son who has been the favoured of God.  The least of these is the greatest.  David, Joseph, Isaac, Jacob, and so on.  Jesus himself said that he came to seek the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  It is the lost who will be found, God himself said it. If you are lost, if you are broken, if you are foundered, then you are a prime candidate for the salvation of God.  Jesus said that the physician came to heal the sick not the healthy.

If you are truly lost and you know it, you will look upon a saviour with the eyes of the worshipper and marvel.  You will never forget that you were lost and that He found you. A genuinely lost person will never ever forget what it was like to be in that condition.  It will not leave you. That experience, that awakening – for it is an awakening out of the sleep of the shame and blindness of sin – will do a marvelous work in  your soul. You will never forget the utter piercing of the heart and mind that lostness brings.  A truly lost soul has the torment of the outer darkness etched into their hearts.  And when the light of salvation comes, the joy and recognition that this is true and wholesome and holy and completely outside the realm of human knowledge and experience, likewise pierces your soul. A genuinely converted soul will never forget what it was like to be lost.  Yet, we should know that it was our destiny to be the lost.  We were ever meant to be the lost so that we could be found by Him.  And to those who think they stand in their own brilliance because they believe themselves to be children of God from before the foundation of the world take heed.  Yes, we become saved, we have the Spirit of Adoption, but who adopts somebody who is already taken?  God adopts those without parents, those who have nobody to call family, those who have no home, and no inheritance.

It is terrifying to come to a realisation of our true condition without Jesus. A child lost in a supermarket knows the infinite coldness of having your parent ripped away from you in an instant. Believing you will be like that forever with nobody to help you is a terrible place to be in.  Even though we only usually experience this for a brief moment and are restored to our parent, usually pretty soon, we never forget that feeling. Yet, as we come to a place spiritually where we realise that we are truly lost with no hope from another human being we can embrace the salvation of God, of His Son. Because it is at this point that the scales fall from our eyes and we will be ripe for the harvest of the Lord himself. 

This is why no priest, no pastor, no Christian, no religious person of any persuasion is ever going to be able to save you.  The place of salvation is the place of desertion of all hope.  We have to come to that recognition of our own lostness in the vastness of the universe with no help from anyone.  Then the God of the Lost will come to the one who cries out for the Great Shepherd and finds that His presence is immediate and help and salvation will come to those who seek it.

We are the lost.  We are truly the ones who are saved by Jesus alone, by faith alone. This is our identity.  We are the rejected of the world, the despised, the mocked, the misunderstood, the vile, the shunned.  Rejoice that we are ever thus, because when we are saved, we will still likewise be rejected by the world.  It was ever meant to be thus, and will continue to be thus until we receive our heavenly reward.  To be on the earth is to be lost, to be found out of our lostness, yet to be found in Him, in an invisible embrace which is complete, utterly safe, sound and totally protected.  There is no obvious difference in us to the rest of the world, yet again there is, if others have eyes to see it.

We are blessed and loved by God, accepted in the beloved, and cared for with compassion and tenderness.  It is this very compassion which compels God to save those who are lost, the lamb in the wilderness who is at the end of her strength.  We have no strength, no rightness, no intellect, no power, no nobility, no comeliness, no ability to be able to stand before God in our own self.  We have no identity in ourselves.  Our identity is that of a lost sheep, not that of the kings of the world.  Yet we give honour and glory to those who are the best, the brightest, the most popular, the most powerful and the greatest.  God is not moved by these ones. He is not impressed by human achievement.

If the God who made us, who gave us form, who watches over us and who seeks after us cannot define us, then who can?  Really…..who?  Ourselves?  That is a lie from the pit.

But don’t even look for your identity in a church or any group of Christians.  We are not saved by people and we are not sustained by people, we are comforted, clothed with righteousness and healed and sustained by the Holy Spirit and by Jesus Christ.  He is the God of the Lost, the God of the Found and we can say that with a full heart and a deep spiritual discernment of that truth. This is our glory.