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Glass Bead Game

The Adventure of Fellow Sojourner Episode 3

Sojourner began the walk back to his home as the morning breeze began to give way to the summer sun. He thought about the man he met that morning and how difficult it must be for him in this heat. As the walked with a slight limp, he began to thank God for the freedom and ability to move and walk. As he entered his front door, Sojourner headed straight for the kitchen to get a glass of water. He sat down to get some relief from the pain he felt in his right leg and sighed a sigh of relief. “Thank you, Lord, for this refreshing water and a comfortable place to sit.” Sojourner removed his newsie cap and placed it on the armrest of his chair. The morning conversation was still fresh in his mind. He played back pieces of the conversation in the quietness of his small living room. The final words spoke by the man he met really stuck. “I don’t get to have many conversations with people. They usually turn the other way to avoid eye contact.” Sojourner felt the sting of these words. He had experienced them. People do not like to feel uncomfortable. Often, we do not know how to respond to certain situations and so we pretend we do not see them. Whether it be seeing a panhandler and turning our head or quickly changing the subject when a difficult topic comes up, we ignore it as a defense mechanism. But ignoring a situation has never brought about change. As the afternoon gave way to evening, Sojourner allowed his mind to wander. He recalled how his grandfather would have so many stories of life on the railroad. It was a different time then and the life of a railroad was not easy. He was gone more than he was home and worked long hours. He left his young son (Sojourner’s father) to take care of the family farm. When grandfather was able to come home, he always had a great story to tell. Sojourner loved to hear the stories. Grandfather loved to share the stories, but Sojourner’s father would quickly say, “I’m going to turn in, somebody has to be responsible and work this farm.” Those words were intended to hurt grandfather because he knew he put a lot on his son at an early age.  

Sojourner, took out the pocket watch which once belonged to grandfather and looked at the time. It was getting late, and he was getting tired. He pulled the watch close to his heart before placing it on the nightstand. Sojourner thought about the man he met earlier in the day. Where did he go during the day? Did he have a safe place to sleep tonight? What was his name? They had spent time together over that cup of coffee at breakfast time and never even told each other their names. He said a quiet prayer asking God to keep them both safe and allow them to continue their conversation in the future. All was quiet in Sojourner’s home. Only the sound of the fan could be heard as he drifted off into a peaceful sleep. 

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Glass Bead Game

The Adventure of Fellow Sojourner Episode 2

Sojourner and the man sat outside the diner enjoying the slight breeze and the hot coffee.

How long have you been in the area? Where did you grow up?” Sojourner asks the man as the server brings the coffee. The man took a sip and after a brief pause, he responds, “I’ve been here for about 6 months.”

“Where were you before?”

Kansas. Topeka area.”

Sojourner’s mind wanders a bit as he recalled stories of his grandfather. Sojourner’s grandfather often talked about Topeka. The railroad that grandfather worked on would often pass through Topeka. Sojourner took the pocket watch from his pocket and gently tapped the nickel plated back of the watch. He remembered grandfather looking at this same watch each time a train passed. He would always say, “right on time” with a proud smile on his face. The Santa Fe’ route was one grandfather often worked and he always made sure to get out and talk to the townspeople of Topeka.

“I came here for a fresh start.” The words spoken by the man cause Sojourner to come back into the present moment. “My life just fell apart.”

“Do you have family?” Sojourner inquires. He knew the importance of affiliation, of close, natural relationships. He wanted to get to know the man better and see how he could help.

My wife left with our son and daughter a couple of years ago.” His voice cracked as he spoke those words. The lump in his throat from trying to hold back the pain gave him reason to take another sip of his coffee. “My life spiraled out of control after that [LINK TO RESOURCE PAGE]. Everything I thought I was working so hard for came crumbling. When she left, I found it harder to wake up in the mornings. I struggled to make it into work on time. Eventually I lost my job. I was in debt. I lost the house. I lost it all 

Sojourner knew the pain all too well. Not only had he heard similar stories, but he had also experienced his own trials and hardships. He took off his newsie hat and held it near his chest.  The hat belonged to his father. His father would often wear it to keep the sun out of his eyes as he worked the family farm. It was a tough time for farming as it was just near the end of what is commonly referred to as the Great Depression. The details were different, but Sojourner recalled how lost his father felt when his mother left. Life seemed to crumble and everything fell apart.

Sojourner sighed deeply as he put the newsie hat back on his head. “I’m sorry to hear that. I’ll be praying for your children and their mom.”

Pray? I haven’t done that in such a long time.” The man said matter-of-factly as he took another sip of his coffee. “I’m not sure how much good it would do. The big guy doesn’t seem to care what I have to say lately.”

Sojourner smiled an understanding smile as he replied, “I’m sure those feelings are real. I’m also sure that you should give it a try. He does care.” Sojourner took the watch from his pocket and looked once more at the time.  “I’ve seen you here a few times before. Would it be okay if we had coffee again sometime? I would like to hear more of your story.”

The man smiled, “I’d like that. I don’t get to have many conversations with people. They usually turn the other way to avoid eye contact.”

“Well, I see you… and God sees you and I hope to see you again.”

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Come Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit 5

Judges 11:29 New International Version

Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites.

 The Holy Spirit is our only consistently accurate guide for all things in our life.  He will take us on a journey that is filled with adventure, passion and blessing.  That is if we will trust in Him.  He is our leader and our friend.  Listen to His voice, do what He says and things will go better for you.  The Holy Spirit does not always offer a life of comfort.  Remember that the Holy Spirit is the one that drove Jesus into the desert for forty days of fasting and prayer.  Do not glamorize that event.  That was difficult.  Jesus was obedient to the leading though it was uncomfortable.  From time to time, the Holy Spirit will do the same for you.  One of the things that the Holy Spirit focuses on is to get you in the right frame of mind, in the right place at the right time.  Trust in His guidance.  His leadership will not always make sense, look beyond logic.  Remember that His ways are not our ways.  His ways are always better.  Surrender to Him today.

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Sermon on the Mount Series

Sermon on the Mount Series 15

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Earlier we had looked at the first of Jesus’ Ten Commandment upgrades regarding murder.  We learned that in the Old Testament if I did not take a life from another human being, I was not considered to have broken the commandment.  However, Jesus tells us that if we so much as call someone a fool or in other words use life sucking words about someone than we have committed murder. 

Now we have Jesus’s second upgrade.  In the Old Testament as long as I never have sex with another woman I am generally seen as having not broken the adultery commandment.  Now Jesus goes to meddling with that simplistic interpretation.  He says if you lust you are committing adultery.  Consider what that means. 

If you look at pornography you have committed adultery.  If you fantasize about a woman that is not your spouse, you have committed adultery.  Any time that you dehumanize a woman and degrade her even in your mind you have committed adultery. 

Again, we come to the concept, you must guard your thoughts.  It is easy for our mind to wander to cleavage or short skirts.  I hate to even mention it in fear that it will cause some of you to stumble but silence also has it s power.  When you find yourself struggling, when temptation is calling out to you.  Call out to Jesus. 

If the image is on a screen, shut it down, but I know that it is already seared into your brain, so call out to Jesus.  Consider this, Jesus loves that woman, purely.  Consider this, that is someone’s daughter.  If she is a Christian woman, she is God’s daughter.  Do you really want to fantasize about the daughter of God?  Ask Jesus to help you think purely.  Acknowledge that He has made beauty and cherish that beauty.  Protect it, do not allow others to degrade her with coarse jokes or comments. Rise up.

Jesus takes this command very seriously as He directs us to pluck eyes, rip off hands in other words to take extreme measures.  Do whatever it takes to make your thoughts pure.  Seek counsel, find friends who also struggle and confide in them.  This is a battle.  Be free or be dead in hell.

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Come Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit Part 4

Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him.

Judges 6:34 New International Version (NIV)

 


Are you trying to decide if someone is filled and led by the Holy Spirit?  Are believers drawn to them?  The Holy Spirit calls out to itself within the lives of others of like faith to come together.  I do not believe in unity at all costs, but I do believe that the Holy Spirit brings together men and women of God.  Even if they disagree on certain topics, they discover that they can work together for the causes of the Kingdom of God.  Even those that are normally opposed will feel compelled to join the effort given by the Holy Spirit.  I desire to see this Spirit more and more each day.  Jesus fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I might see Your church united and lead our community to love and serve You more.  Help us to be a light to the lost.  Let us share the hope that can only be found in You.

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 Judges 6:34 New International Version (NIV)

 

Are you trying to decide if someone is filled and led by the Holy Spirit?  Are believers drawn to them?  The Holy Spirit calls out to itself within the lives of others of like faith to come together.  I do not believe in unity at all costs, but I do believe that the Holy Spirit brings together men and women of God.  Even if they disagree on certain topics, they discover that they can work together for the causes of the Kingdom of God.  Even those that are normally opposed will feel compelled to join the effort given by the Holy Spirit.  I desire to see this Spirit more and more each day.  Jesus fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I might see Your church united and lead our community to love and serve You more.  Help us to be a light to the lost.  Let us share the hope that can only be found in You.

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Sermon on the Mount Series

Sermon on the Mount Series 14

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

Matthew 5:22-26

   Peace.  I offer you peace.  But peace does not happen accidentally.  It requires effort.  Our natural bent is to put it off because it is simply too painful, to uncomfortable to engage in the conversations needed.  “Settle matters quickly.” We make excuses as to why we should wait.

We avoid healthy conflict, but no face mask can prevent the damage that can be done through this practice.  Research shows us that avoiding the conflict leads to a whole host of physical health issues.  Families are destroyed because we don’t address the issues that are in our faces.  Our minds become warped by our thoughts of revenge.  But the most damaging is to our spirit.

Remember we were designed for a perfect life in the garden.  Peace should be surrounding us.  Contentment is in our wiring.  However, sin came in and broke that peace.  Our sin was a declaration of war against God.  When we live in conflict with our brothers and sisters we are in conflict with God.

How often have I been in church, nursing a grudge?  I feel angry and embittered over some slight real or imagined.  In the darkness of my mind I have contemplated evil against my enemy, maybe even while I am there in church.  While you are at the altar.  While I am worshipping and recognize this anger welling up within me, I must go make things right. 

Make peace.  Sometimes you will be wronged, forgive anyway.  Go make things right and then return to church and worship in Spirit and in Truth.

GRM offers a webinar on Restoring Peace where you can learn to become a peacemaker.  Peacemaker is a role that our world needs today more than ever.

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Come Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit Episode 3

Judges 3:9-10 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

When the sons of Israel cried to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the sons of Israel to deliver them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel. When he went out to war, the Lord gave Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand, so that he prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim.

When we look around and see that our world is in true need, a desperate need, our God is watching and waiting.  Look to Him, to be our salvation and our hope.  He is simply waiting for us to seek Him, to call out His name.  Today is that day.  Dear Heavenly Father I look to You above all things.  Bring hope and wisdom to our world.  Let us love abundantly.  Let us face our enemies with courage and win them with our love.

He will send a deliverer filled with His Holy Spirit.  I pray that I would live a life that would enable me to be chosen by Him to bring peace and to bring justice but most importantly the message that we all long to hear.  THE KING IS COMING.  Prepare the Kingdom for His arrival.  Be purified.  Choose to love the unlovable.  Choose to forgive.  Choose to speak against injustice.  Choose to call of peace.

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Sermon on the Mount Series

Sermon on the Mount Series Episode 13

   “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Matthew 5:21-22

 In the last blog we talked about allowing the law and the prophets to be a mirror to our hearts.  Most of us feel that we are “good enough” or “better than”.  However, when we see ourselves clearly under the firm teaching of the law and the prophets, we begin to see the intention of the heart.  Yes, we did something nice.  But we did it so that we could get the applause.  Maybe we want bragging rights for our patience.  Regardless the law and the prophets will expose us at least to ourselves.

On the surface as I examine myself, I rarely break the ten commandments.  Some claim that because we live under the new covenant the law no longer applies.  But Jesus does not dismiss the old, he is adding to it.  This passage is the first in the sermon to point this out to us.  Do not murder.  Simple straight forward.  In my lifetime I have never killed, taken life from another human being.  The biggest thing I ever killed was a very sick turkey that was suffering.  It really was an act of compassion that was asked of me by my family.  I found even that sort of killing to be difficult.  As a soldier I have committed myself to defend others and if needed I am willing to take life.  That would be a last resort to save someone else.  But the actual killing of a human, not on my list of past sins.

If we were under the old covenant that many say no longer applies, I would be good to go.  This sin would hold no sway on me.  However, Jesus adds to the law.  My personal history is full of times where I have lost my temper, where anger got the best of me.  Jesus tells me here that I am subject to the judgement.  The Father loves me, that does not change.  But if I lose my temper, He is not proud of me.  He cannot brag on me because I have broken the commandment not to murder.  If, even in my anger, I use my words to cut someone down and insult them; I have murdered their soul.  I have broken the commandment.

What Jesus is teaching me is that I must guard my words carefully.  I must use them to speak the truth in love.  While correction may be required, I must remember that the ultimate end that I am speaking life into them.  I look around at our world today and it is dying slowly from all of the negativity around us.  If someone does not agree with us or votes different than us, we throw our words around and stab at them with little barbs of hate. 

My friends the lesson here is that we must speak life.  Jesus is commanding us to think about how our words will either build someone up or tear them down.  Choose life.  Build up those around you.  Even if they disagree with you, build them up.  Even if they don’t seem willing or unable to understand you, build them up.  Inspire others toward life. 

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Come Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit Week 2

 So the LORD said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership, and lay your hand on him. Numbers 27:18

God is seeking men and women that are willing to receive His Holy Spirit to guide their leadership and their lives.  Joshua spent many years under the leadership of Moses and realized most likely early on that the task was beyond his ability.  He became open to receiving the Holy Spirit.  Inviting the Holy Spirit to take leadership of our lives and our leadership exponentially increases the potential of our lives.  These leaders must seek to be filled, anointed and led by God.  Many strive to learn the techniques and skills of leadership and these should not be abandoned, but seek the greater counselor.  He can guide your training.  It is the Holy Spirit that makes the Godly leader effective.  It is the Holy Spirit that gives him or her unprecedented wisdom and insight.

The Holy Spirit will orchestrate a life that ultimately brings Him glory regardless of what seems to be the truth in your world.

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Sermon on the Mount Series

Sermon on the Mount Series

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.  Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:17-20

 Many take a large growing church as a sign of God’s favor and His blessing.  It might be.  The preacher might sell many books, have active speaking schedules and even be able to claim worldwide attention.  Their ministry might be done in power with the signs and wonders of miracles, healing and more.  But that is just a maybe.  Those things were true of the apostle’s ministry, sometimes. 

But too many today twist Scripture, cherry pick verses here and there in an attempt to justify their false teaching and explain away difficult passages such as, “Take up your cross…”  These same teachers dismiss most of the Old Testament.  Yet, Jesus warns us not to do that.  He is a fulfillment of all the Law and the Prophets (most of the old testament by the way.)  This means that if we are to understand Jesus, we must take the time to study to understand God as he is portrayed in the law and the prophets. 

The law is a teacher.  I really did not understand what coveting really was until I read the Torah.  Honestly, apart from the law I think I am a pretty good person.  My soul is dying but I have no symptoms that I am willing to acknowledge.  But when I meditate on His law, I sense my own sinfulness.  I see my own selfishness.  Where when I only look at the New Covenant, I see that I am forgiven.  I find peace with God and others through the saving Grace of Jesus.  That is my only hope.  But as long as I deny the symptoms, I will refuse the cure.  The law and the prophets come together as a standard, as a covid-19 test to inform me of my illness. 

But again, too many preachers today lie about numbers forgetting that lying is a sin.  I have heard it justified saying that the end justifies the means.  They manipulate people with soft music, shame and adjusted lighting so that they can claim “more souls for the Kingdom.”  If they use the tools of the devil to gain an audience and they have twisted Scripture they are not of God.  But since they have not examined their own hearts, they do not know that.  Since they have not set their life alongside the law and the prophets, they don’t know that they are simply spreading their own sinful virus.

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Matthew 7-21-23

The day of the false teacher is here.  Do not be deceived.  Instead, examine yourself and then receive the cleaning of the King.