The Apostle Paul’s Epiphany Friday, Jan 3 2014 

An epiphany is a sudden, intuitive perception of, or insight into the meaning of something, usually initiated by a commonplace occurrence or experience.

It seems to me that the Apostle Paul always traveled with companions, with one exception. We find him with Barnabas on his first journey. Silas is his traveling companion on his second journey. Then there is Luke, Timothy, Titus, Demas, and others at various times.

The only time I remember him tackling a city alone is when he scaled the heights of Athens. For whatever reason, he went there alone.

I present for your consideration this possibility: had Paul reached the place he felt he could handle it? Had his successes puffed him up to the point he felt, “I got this one boys”? Did he feel confident in his education and past success?

It seems to me this was out of his modus operandi. I cannot find any other place where he went one on one solo on a city. I wonder if he had gotten confident in himself?

One thing is sure, Athens handed Paul his “head in his hand” so to speak. He left Athens broken and defeated and discouraged.

Somewhere in the next 50 miles of road toward Corinth, his Athens experience changed him forever.

At his next location he is first of all surrounded with the greatest collection of names mentioned in his lifetime. Second he has his greatest revival in the history of the world. Is this a coincidence?

I offer for your consideration Paul had an epiphany at Athens!

He realized my success has not been in my ability, but in God. My education is laughable when placed next to God’s wisdom! My education may trump some earthly peers, but compared to God, I know nothing.

Paul the man, with only his ability, against Athens equals abject failure. Paul in humility with help from brethren, at Corinth equals world’s greatest revival!

It was after this epiphany at Athens that he wrote “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men”.

Paul learned the most important lesson of his ministry at Athens! He learned by myself I can do nothing. Through Christ I can do all things!

May God help all of us in 2014 to use his lesson so we avoid enduring the same fate when we believe “I got this one”.

Thanks for reading today!

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Modern Day Matriarch Monday, Dec 9 2013 

In the long history of the Bible there is only one woman whose life is chronicled, and her age is given. Only one. Maybe that is why you should never ask a woman her age 🙂 It is a Bible thing!

It was not Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist. It was not even Mary, the mother of Jesus. It was Sarah. The only woman in the Bible whose age is given is Sarah. Why? I submit it is because she was a/the matriarch!

A matriarch is a venerable old woman. A woman of great age, impressive dignity, and worthy of reverence.

When a woman is a matriarch she rises above the average. She imprints her life on others. She instills her spirit in others.

When a woman is a matriarch, she leaves behind things ordinary women jettison at the grave.

In many ways matriarchs never die. They live in hearts, minds, and memories forever.

Saturday, December 7, 2013, I attended the home going service of a matriarch. Her name is Ruth Luke. She is the mother of my neighboring pastor Mike Luke.

As I sat in the service listening to the impact she left on so many, my mind went back over half a century.

I was about 5 or 6 years old. I was a very battered, mistreated child who was angry and mean. The people of the neighborhood where my grandmother lived asked her to not allow me to go to their houses. In those days kids played late in the neighborhood until after dark.

I was very mean. I poked the neighbor’s pets with sticks and threw rocks at passing cars.

I was a child pariah.

Across the street from my grandmother’s house on Mark street in Arvin, California, in the 1950’s lived a nice woman. In fact she was the only woman in the entire neighborhood who was ever nice to me.

While others watched to make sure I would not visit their property, she watched to see when I was standing out on the sidewalk looking at her house. She even gave cookies to that childish bundle of anger and hate.

55 years later I went down memory land and thought how crazy life is. The last 15 years of her life I was privileged to spend many times around her talking about “Mark street” many years ago.

Like her namesake in the Bible, Ruth Luke is an amazing woman. She is a modern day matriarch.

She being dead yet speaketh.

Thanks for reading today.

Sarah, we will miss you! Friday, Dec 6 2013 

Today I read of Abraham burying his wife Sarah.

Abraham was 137 years old. He would live another 38 years without Sarah.

Many were the memories with Sarah. Packing to leave Mesopotamia. The years in Haran. Finally the last move to the land of Canaan.

The 25 years of waiting for the promise. The faux pas of Ishmael, and that debacle.

Sarah had been there for it all. Now she was gone. Abraham looked into her cold still face for the last time.

Standing beside Abraham was his 37 year old son of promise, Issac.

Ishmael, who was 51, was probably there also. Maybe there were others as well.

Many years of memories were being laid to rest in that lonely, barren cave of Machpelah.

Eliezer, Abraham’s servant of over 60 years was there. That faithful servant who had lived the victories, hardships, and tragedies along with the family. He would be the one who would make the journey to bring back Rebekah in three years, when Issac was 40 years old.

Rebekah would never know her husband’s mother. Her children would never know their grandmother. Death was denying them ever knowing that.

We will never know the thoughts and feelings that ambled through all their minds as they walked away from a huge chunk of their lifetime. Sarah was gone. Dead. She had been there for so many years, now she was gone.

Death is such a horrible foe. It is so final and powerful. It takes so much from us. It leaves us lonely, sad, and empty, and sometimes angry.

In my opinion natural, physical, death does not compare with the pain of spiritual death.

The agony of watching someone walk away from God after years of worship and shouting and church functions is pain beyond description!

I Will Not Ignore Uriah’s Religion Saturday, Feb 26 2011 

Abiathar was angry.  He was going to confront Uriah.  As the priest that David
trusted in he would not allow this Hittite to worship Baal in the camp.

He stormed up to the camp fire where the noted warriors were lounging.  The fire
flickered on the swarthy faces of these hodge podge freedom fighters.

When he walked up, silence invaded.  It always does when the preacher walks in.

With steel in his voice he challenged Uriah.  'Have you been worshipping your
God here in the camp of Israel?'

Funny how silence can suddenly freeze every sound. Uriah was slow to answer.  He
was not about to take anything from any man, but this was the priest.

How he answered could easily start major trouble with men who wore their swords
ready to hand.  He had seen bloodshed in a flash not long ago when Abner met
Joab.

His eyes were steady as he looked up at Abiathar.  Slowly he stood.  He looked
up to only one man.  The man he gave his allegiance to.  David.

He respected Abiathar, but he feared no man. While the elite fighters of David
waited to see how this would go down, he said, "actually no I have not".

He waited.  Abiathar was seething with a righteous vengeance. 

"What are the remains of the altar I found today?  The word is that you
worshipped your god of the Hittites there.  I demand an answer!" Abiathar half
shouted.

Other men gathered around.  The small fire was now surrounded by a legion of
David's fighting men.

Uriah said tersely, " You asked If I worshipped in the camp.  I did not.  I went
to a high place and there practiced my own beliefs."

Abiathar snarled "How dare you?"

Uriah stood his ground.  "I did not join David's religion.  I joined his cause
to fight for his Kingdom.  He has never spoken to me of my faith.  I have done
nothing wrong."

Abiathar's eyes were those of a zealot.  Smoldering, angry, barely contained,
eyes.

It was a standoff of proud men both who felt they were right.

It was Joab of all people who deescalated the moment.  

Slowly Joab rose to his feet.  All eyes shifted to the General.

Joab slowly and calmly said to the priest, "Uriah is not asking you to approve
of his worship Abiathar.  He is asking you to ignore his religion."

Everyone there could feel the release of tension.  It was a word fitly spoken. 

Abiathar stalked off into the night.  Uriah stretched his hands to the fire and
said nothing.

It is not the things that we are forced to approve that are our danger in 2011.  

It is the things we ignore.

Did Uriah's religion factor in to David's taking Bathsheba?

Why did Bathsheba have enormous influence on David until his death?

Did Joab resist placing Uriah in the forefront of battle? He was after all a
Baal worshipper?

I do not know these things, but I do know this......

The world is not asking me to approve of Gays.  The world is asking me to ignore
them. 

 Pulpit silence.  

The world is not asking me to approve of abortion.  The world is asking me to
ignore it.

Pulpit silence.

The world is not asking me to approve social drinking.  The world asks me to
ignore it.

Pulpit silence.

Maybe just maybe had Abitahar forced the issue, the entire course of Israel's
history might have been redirected.

I have decided I will not approve, nor will I ignore certain things.

I will speak, and maybe some Uriah's may yet live!

Thanks for reading today.

The Spirit of Herod Friday, Dec 17 2010 

Recently while reading the story of Herod killing the children again my mind drifted back over the years of things I had heard of this event.

I read the number of children killed reached into the thousands.  Maybe as high as ten thousand.

I thought of the prophecy teachers who said this was the fulfillment of the verse in Daniel that says He shall not regard the desire of women.  This verse is usually used by prophecy guys to say the antichrist will be gay, but some have said it referred to Herod because the Biblical definition of desire of women is children.  Meaning that Herod did not regard the children, hence the desire of women.

As I tried to grasp the enormity of this event my mind thought of the spirit behind this atrocity.

Selfish.

Heartless.

Ruthless.

The leap for a preacher was not a long one. The spirit of Herod lives on.

Killing infants.

Spirits in a church that would cause spiritual babes to be exterminated.

Jealousy.

Envy.

Strife.

Bitterness.

Hatred.

Things God hates!

Jesus left the country until the spirit of Herod died.

Then He came back.

Do you ever wonder if Jesus leaves?

Do dry empty altars possibly mean He is not comfortable with some spirit, and leaves until that spirit dies?

Thank you Herod for your help in making our nation more independent of Rome.

Thank you for the magnanimous temple you built our nation.

But I would like to say to you Herod, all your contributions are washed away in the grief of mother’s wails!

Thank you for singing in the choir saint of God.

Thank you for going on outreach.

Thank you for all you do for the church.

I wonder if all those good deeds are washed away in the silent wake of Jesus leaving because you grumble.

Does your gossip cause him to leave and our altars are dry and barren?

51 and fading……. Saturday, Nov 20 2010 

He was fifty one years old. He had never been this weary. He was weary in body, but even more weary in his soul.

His life dream was not happening. He had failed to reach his goal in the last four tries.

Questions bombarded his mind. Did he do the right thing? Should he quit? Maybe life was not worth it all anymore!

To make it worse he was all alone.

He walked and thought and brooded. On the horizon was a big city. It was a sinful city. Should he try again? Maybe just once more!

700,000 people were over there in the new city only 100 years old. He was aware it was not an easy city. Soldiers, merchants, slaves and prostitutes.

As he trod toward the outskirts he made what he thought might be his last important decision of life, after all he was despairing of life.

Slowly he stopped as the people on the road drifted by. He was just another traveller on this fine Roman road. Some where along the outside of the metropolis, Paul made a decision.

He decided, I will try again. The past four failures will not keep me from trying again.

Only this time I am making a decision.

This time I will only preach Jesus Christ and him crucified!

He had no fore boding that he was about to do what no other man in history would ever do again.

In the next eighteen months he would establish the largest church in the history of the world.

Corinth, the second largest city in the Roman Empire, the hardest challenge of Paul’s three journeys, would fall before the great apostle.

Paul at his lowest, was Jesus at His best.

God picked up His human crayon and drew a picture for all millenniums.

When I am weak, then am I strong.

It really isn’t about you after all.

Would you just let Jesus be the artist and you be the canvas?

Thanks for reading today!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Pontius Pilate Thursday, Nov 18 2010 

Pontius Pilate

His name is infamous.

Many people know his name.

Millions know his deed.

He judged Jesus of Nazareth.

Like so many who are infamous or famous, few actually know who he was.

Most would say something like this….He was the Roman governor who passed judgment on Jesus to be crucified. That is all most people know of him. Because of his act of judgment, he is viewed as a terrible person and goes down in history as a rogue.

How did he arrive in the land of palestine in the first place? What happened to Herod Archelaus?

The story of the land of Palestine is long and bloody. For centuries this fabled land was a pawn in the hand of world powers. Kicked back and forth like a backwater, unimportant prize to the most recent conqueror.

Some two centuries before the arrival of Jesus, a family in this land got tired of the iron heel of the conqueror and began to fight back. They became known as the Macabees.

Part politician, part freedom fighters, their only aim in life was to free their land of subjugation. They fought, they bartered, and eventually they won. Well, kind of.

Eventually there came of this family a very subtle and talented man who began a political ascent with the Romans. He was known in history as Herod the great.

Herod was a patriot. No price was to high to achieve his goals of promoting himself and the land he loved. He cajoled and finagled until he persuaded the Caesar to appoint him as King of the Jews.

From his new position he began to push, shove, and drag Israel into being modern. His greatest achievement was the rebuilding of the temple that was standing when Jesus Christ came.

His most heinous crime was the slaughter of all the babies two years old and younger in the attempt to prevent any king from usurping the throne he had worked a lifetime to secure from Rome. (10,000 or more babies were slain).

He died in 4BC. At his death he followed Alexander the Great’s example of dividing your kingdom into several parts. He gave his lands to his three sons. To Phillip he gave the eastern provinces. To Herod Antipas he gave Galilee and Samaria. To Herod Archelaus he gave Judea.

Archelaus ruled the area of Judea for about ten years. He was such a cruel and ruthless man that even Rome could not stomach his reign. Rome used it’s imperial jurisdiction and removed him from his throne and appointed a governor.

Caesar appointed Quirnius Caponius, then Ambivius, then Annius Rufus, then Valerius Gratus, and finally Pontius Pilate.

Pilate ruled from 26 ad until 36 ad. Pilate proved to be so cruel Rome removed him from power. But not before history placed him in the spotlight.

For one brief moment there he stands. All of history will condemn him for this one moment. His name is forever associated with consummate evil.

Three to six years later Rome removed him from power and history says Pilate committed suicide soon thereafter.

What man in history is so well known yet so unknown?

This fact screams to me, it isn’t about Pilate, it is about Jesus.

Without Jesus, pilate fades off the world scene and is never heard of.

Because of his intersection with Jesus, he is immortal.

The only way your life will ever have meaning and memory is if it becomes connected with Jesus.

Thanks for reading today.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Why David? Why? Thursday, Oct 7 2010 

‘Why, David, why?”

The place was another nameless cave.

The men stirred about restlessly.

Gradually, and very uneasily, they began to settle in.

All were as confused as Joab, who had finally voiced their questions.

Joab wanted some answers.

Now!

David should have seemed embarrassed or at least defensive.

He was neither.

He was looking past Joab like a man viewing another realm which only he could see.

Joab walked directly in front of David, looking down on him, and began roaring his frustrations.

“Many times he almost speared you to death in his castle.

I’ve seen that with my own eyes.

Finally, you ran away.

Now for years you have been nothing but a rabbit for him to chase.

Furthermore, the whole world believes the lies he tells about you.

He has come, the King himself, hunting every cave, pit and hole on earth to find you and kill you like a dog.

But tonight you had him at the end of his own spear and you did nothing!

“Look at us.  We’re animals again.  Less than an hour ago you could have freed us all.  Yes, we could all be free, right now!  Free!  And Israel, too.  She would be free.  Why, David, why did you not end these years of misery?”

There was a long silence.

Men shifted again, uneasily.

They were not accustomed to seeing David rebuked.

“Because,” said David very slowly (and with a gentleness that seemed to say, ‘I heard what you asked, but not the way you asked it’), “because once, long ago, he was not mad.  He was young.  He was great.  Great in the eyes of God and men.  And it was God who made him king – God – not men.”

Joab blazed back, “But now he is mad!  And God is no longer with him.  And, David, he will yet kill you!”

This time it was David’s answer that blazed with fire.

Better he kill me than I learn his ways.

Better he kill me than I become what he is.

I will not practice his ways.

I will not throw spears, nor will I allow hatred to grow in my heart.

I will not avenge.

Not now.

Not ever!”

Joab stormed out into the dark.

That night men went to bed on cold, wet stone and muttered about their leader’s views.

That night angels sang and dreamed, in the afterglow of that rare, rare day, that God might yet be able to give His authority to a man who did not throw spears.

Thanks for reading today!

The secret of the Apostle Paul’s success Monday, Jul 19 2010 

Paul was about 51 years old.  He was slowly making his way from Athens to Corinth.  His mind and body were on overload.  The events and journeys were taking their toll and he was off balance and on the ropes.

On the first journey there had been the opposition in many cities.  It had been a  continual fight until he reached Derbe.  Included in this section of his life was the near death experience of the stoning at Lystra.

Now he was headed toward Corinth with Athens in his rear view mirror.  He reveals his thoughts in his writings.  He was in despair.  He was so low he actually despaired of life.

Paul was at his lowest point. Looming in front of him was his greatest challenge.  Greater than the cities of Asia minor, greater even than Athens, the intellectual capital of the world.

Recently, he accepted the failed completion of a church in Philippi, then Thessolinica, then again in Berea, and finally the collaspe in Athens!

Somewhere along the dusty travelled road in AD 51, Paul decided I will preach Jesus Christ and him crucified, and nothing else.  Beaten and discouraged, Paul was not ready for what would happen in Corinth.

Corinth was the second largest city in the empire, boasting a population of 700,000 people.  Only the capital, Rome was larger.  The city was new, as it had been destroyed only 100 years before by the Romans and then rebuilt.  It show cased modern architecture.

Corinth was only a few miles from a seaport so there were sailors who came to visit the temple that offered 1000 prostitutes as a form of worship to the Gods of Corinth.  There were Roman officials, a large Jewish population, soldiers, orientals, and every strata of life.

Into this morass walked Paul at his lowest point.  The greatest apostle at his worst, pitted against the greatest challenge of his day.  The result is history!

In eighteen months Paul built the largest church in the history of the world.  The lowest estimates are 40,000 and most historians say the number was more like 80,000 people.

The failures of Athens, Berea, Thessolinica, and Philippi, faded as Corinth unfolded.

At the end of his second missionary journey, Paul had fully recovered in every way.  What was his secret?

While reading the books written to Corinth again recently I was struck by the big picture of chapter seven of the first letter.  So often I have seen the mechanics of this chapter, marriage, virgins, widows, servants, free men, etc.

I realized in all this discussion there rested the secret of Paul’s life and success like an un-mined diamond.

He addressed people that were unhappily married, he addressed virgins, he addressed servants, he addressed free men, he addressed widows, he addressed circumcision.

In all of it he stressed for people to be content!

That was Paul’s secret, to be content! He weaves this thread into many of his other writings.

To the Philippians…be content, 4.11

To Timothy…with food and clothes…be content, 6.8, 6.6

To the Hebrews….be content…13.5

It was the balm for every running issue of life.

Servants, be content!

Free men, be content!

Unhappy married people, be content!

Widows, be content!

Whatever your calling, be content!

Maybe, just maybe, if you could forget your Lystras, your Bereas, your Athens, you might reach your Corinth when you least expect it!

Maybe, just maybe, your greatest season of life is waiting for you when you become content.

When the servant seethes in resentment because they are not free, when the unhappy marriage poisons your daily life, when the past disappointments over whelm you, reach out and pick up Paul’s secret of success!

Find contentment in your life and maybe just maybe, there is a Corinth waiting for you!

Maybe at your lowest, and life’s challenge at it’s most formidable, contentment will bring you your greatest moment!

Godliness with contentment is great gain!

Thanks for reading today!

Kill The Indian Monday, Jun 28 2010 

In the late 1800’s the United States government was faced with the issue of how to deal with the Native American.  It was a perplexing problem.

First of all there were many different tribes.  Then there was the distances and areas where the tribes lived.  Mostly there was the issue of war.  The native American was a formidable warrior!  If the Indian tribes had joined forces and fought the U.S. military as a coalition, who knows the outcome?

History tells us the Indian did not join other tribes to resist and consequently, the tribes were slowly methodically eliminated.

Their story is a long, brutal, heart wrenching story.  It is a sad epilogue on our government that they made promises and then broke those promises many many times.

If you have never read the story of the Nez Perce, it would be my recommendation to add it to your to do list of reading.  It is the story of Chief Joseph leading his people 800 miles to attempt to escape to Canada.  The Nez Perce chiefs astounded the Calvary over and over with their tactics.  They used brilliant manuvers like the best trained generals of the world.

Eventually Chief Joseph and his survivors were brought to bay, and his surrender speech is still a classic today.  You can google it and read it.  It will make you weep!

As the government wrestled with the problem of resettling the Indian, and signing treaties, a speech was given in Denver in 1892.  Captain Richard Pratt spoke and in his speech he made a statement that has entered into American lore.  He declared…

“A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one, and the high sanction of his destruction has been an enormous factor in promoting Indian massacres.  In a sense I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead.  Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.”

There began an effort to change the Indian into a white man.  He was forced to no longer speak his native tongue.  He was forced to change his appearance to look like his white captors. It was an all out effort to kill the Indian, but save the man.

John 10.10 says our enemy is determined to steal, kill and destroy.  It is my opinion that Satan wants to kill the Apostolic, but save the christian.

Satan wants us to change our Apostolic appearance to look like the christians around us.  His desire is we become what everyone else is.

Satan desires that we surrender our Apostolic worship and adopt the more calm, respected ways of other churches.

Satan desires that we surrender our Apostolic doctrine of Acts 2.38 so we can live peacefully with those of differing views.

Satan desires to kill the Apostolic, but save the christian.

Just for the record, there is a small band of Apostolics in the Northwest corner of the United States that have decided we will not surrender!

We will not surrender our Apostolic appearance.  We will not surrender our Apostolic worship.  We will not surrender our Apostolic doctrine.

Like Chief Joseph, we have no desire to fight and war, but when Satan attempts to take away our identity, we have decided we will fight.

Thanks for reading today!

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