Romans 5: A Prophet’s Responsibility

Somehow, I had never seen it…quite that way…

Somehow, the scales fell from my eyes, as Ananias laid hands on me and said, “Brother Saul…”

I had been groping in darkness for quite some time as evening and morning appeared the same to me, and I stumbled down the dirty, clay-laden road to Damascus…

Ow was it Carolina…?

I couldn’t tell…

Usually those indicators that are so helpful for telling where you are weren’t so helpful…

I was rudely refusing to see what was written, given my vision had been impaired from years of 

But while in the shower, a flood of revelation cascaded into my spirit, and Father would not shut up…

And even though I am 37 years old, the revelation still comes after 8:30 at night and I am still waxing Theo-illogical as the day begins with the first fruits of the first fruits…EVENING before morning, the first day. For that has been the rhythm of my life the last 20 years or so, since David began praying, and things began happening, and I began to figure out how to fight.

And I am glad He doesn’t shut up.  He loves talking to me late at night, and I am always eager to hear what He has to say. 

The moment was on Facebook, and the post came from rap artist Lecrae, who said:

“My momma grew up in tough, unfair, unjust circumstances like her parents before her. She struggled. She was treated like a second class citizen in her own country. She never quit. She kept going and pushed me. Most of my closest childhood friends have seen prison life. We survived physical & sexual abuse, survived the war on drugs taking our fathers, and I should have lost my mind or life many times. Still I rose up. I read, I worked, I scrapped, I fought. I went to college. I graduated. I built a business. I relied on God. I invested in others. None of it perfectly. I’ve poured my heart out and been shunned and reduced to whatever online gossip chooses to call me at any moment. I’ve seen too much, we’ve seen too much and fought too hard to give up.”

Well-versed in writing and composing, his thoughts are part of the foreground to what is happening in the backdrop. As usual, racial relations have their own rhythm in this country.

And then the punchline came:

“Endurance builds character, character hope, and hope doesn’t fail. ”

It took me the usual half-second flat to identify the address.  He pulled from Romans 5, around verse 5. 

Actually, now that I am turned there this early, I see that it is 5:4.

No, I am not going to pull context, because that would be the entertainment of too many religious spirits and familiar hermeneutical principles that, taken in the wrong spirit, lead to religion.

This turn of phrase is a little bit different.

Consider the following.  Hope does not fail.  In the King James it saith that “hope maketh not ashamed. In another translation “does not disappoint”.  Disappointment, especially repeated disappointment, can lead to failure, which is a breeding ground for the enemy to bring us to shame.

And the opposite of shame is not honor, but dignity.

Concerning hope, I have always repeatedly preached that hope is the fuel in a Prophet’s gas tank.  Hope is the fuel of the prophetic.  Whether a comfort, a reproof, an exhortation, an edification (which includes correction, I will get to that later), a warning, or a consolation, every single prophecy uttered is meant to have some dynamic of hope that shows up somewhere. 

Now, why does edification include correction?  Very simple illustration. If I build a building–an edifice, in English fallen into disuse–and at some point I don’t build with an aligned foundation, that misalignment is going to show throughout the misaligned building, and the only way to move forward correctly is to admit something is wrong with my structure, take down every single piece to the bad part of the foundation, and correct the foundation.

If a prophet does not speak up, or speaks up but is not listened to, when an issue needs to be corrected, then misalignment is the result.

The only way forward in this is to speak correction, for the audience to receive the correction, and to move forward with it.  And as uncomfortable as that makes an audience, the alternative is a major deviation that can lead to destruction.

Sometimes, to edify someone means you are offering correction, because you want to build them up rightly.

This is why hope is so critical in the operation of the prophetic. And this is why Prophets must, Must, MUST!, engage in being more than a critic or an analyst. They must get involved in the work of building and rebuilding.  If the church does not see Prophets helping out, and being the first ones to speak hope mixed in with their correction of courses (pun intended), and then engaged in the process of rebuilding once the error has been fixed, then the church will ultimately become disenfranchised.

Hope does not bring us to shame, but rather breeds dignity.

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Concerning Pain and Its Uses

Semi-provocative Thoughts For the Evening
 
This is probably one of the more important things I am going to write for some time.
 
Pain…
 
Plenty has been written about it.
 
But I am not sure a lot of people grasp the L-rd’s use of it in the His processes of shaping and molding us.
 
So, with that in mind, I would like to throw out the following for your consideration, follower of Jesus.
 
G-d provides us with a package of things that are incessantly good, gifts that are comprehensively good.  The seasons that we go through which are painful are also seasons that are used by G-d; he wastes nothing.  Pain, regardless of what you believe about its origins, is often used by G-d in the shaping process.
 
He causes all things to work for good to his kids.
 
And if we will work with his processes, then something useful and productive can result.
 
But many times, we want to escape the pain, not realizing that there may be a purpose, not necessarily FOR the pain, but a purpose IN the pain.
 
G-d will use painful times to work some depth and dimension in us.
 
It is not just about thinking we are exempt from pain, and putting up with the pain, or waiting out the pain, or even escaping the pain.  Rather, it is a matter of asking G-d if there is anything he wants to accomplish through the pain, and then, as long as he wants to use the pain, to allow Him to do so.
 
Pain, as a critical part of the dynamic of sowing and reaping, and as a critical part of this thing we call reality, can cause a specific season in our lives to become fraught with poignant meaning.  It can also be used to temper us, or to work self-control in us, or even perseverance.

We also grow through pain, and in mourning, and tears.  In some way, we grow, even if that growth is in negative ways like growing bitter or offended.

So, rather than developing a potentially shallow response to pain, and so risking becoming shallow ourselves, perhaps it is in our best interest to embrace the necessary and productive pain, knowing that Christ also embraced that pain, and learning the lesson of perseverance, self-control, patience, et al., thus permitting the depth of those virtues to be worked out in us, so that they can be worked out through us in the lives of others.
 
Just some thoughts that are late-night, dense, and probably philosophical or theological.
 
He surely loves and blesses y’all.
So much so, that he lets nothing that comes our way go to waste.
Can you think of other ways he might use pain in our lives?

Abraham Waiting and Then Drawing Near To Speak

Provocative Thoughts for the Morning:

After Abraham stood still before the L-rd (Psalm 46:10), Genesis 18:23 does not merely say that Abraham spoke to the L-rd.

Rather, it says that Abraham DREW NEAR and said…

Genesis has up to this point in several ways established that, not only had G-d given instructions for Abraham to obey, which he did fairly well in many ways, but also another dynamic had germinated and grown between the L-rd and this subtle, Bedouin herdsman.

We are talking about friendship.

Pick up a couple of the subtleties of Genesis 18:22-23 with me.

What does it mean to “stand still before the L-rd”?

Possibly that Abraham was considering what his next statement to his friend the L-rd should be.

The Father hadn’t moved on and he asked himself whether he should share with Abraham the thoughts of his heart and mind, knowing Abraham’s bend toward commanding his legacy toward a posture of righteousness. Would that heart cry for righteousness and that authority to call for the same extend to the place where it interfered with G-d’s plans for the cities on the plain?

G-d’s sharing of his plans with Abraham reveal a dynamic of His nature that we don’t often think about when it comes to reading the Tanakh. Even though he is indeed Sovereign Judge, he is still quite vulnerable and has emotions the depth of which and purity of which we fail to understand, much less be willing to wrap our arms around. This is not some heartless and cruel taskmaster who enjoys roasting the wicked in hellfire and brimstone. G-d , even as Sovereign Judge takes no drunken pleasure in the death of the wicked, as we are so won’t to do.

Rather, every single one of his decisions is made in the context of sobriety.

And Abraham, standing still, was likely pondering what he knew about G-d. This is an illustration of the principle of Psalm 46:10 at work.

Then, he spoke to the one in whom he could trust.

“Shall the Judge of all the Earth do what is just?”

Wait a minute, sparing people is a form of justice?

Yes, it can be. Especially when some of those people can be considered righteous the way the L-rd reckons righteousness, which is a homiletic exhortation for another day.

Abraham made a heart connection with G-d that day, and here is how I arrive at that conclusion, in the spirit of James 4:8.

“Then Abraham DREW NEAR and said…”

Draw near to him and he will draw near in return.

I imagine that drawing near captured something in G-d’s heart. For Abraham, there was plenty of risk. His nephew was living with the wicked. He must have loved him dearly, given the sequence of circumstances that led to this point. He was concerned with all of his legacy. And He knew something about G-d that maybe we have since forgotten. Drawing near To someone that powerful and holy is a scary proposition.

And G-d, in response, fulfilled a win/win both ways. The righteous were spared, and the wicked were destroyed, WITHOUT GLEE OR GLOATING.

If you wish to ask something of Him, are you willing to risk drawing near and considering His nature in order to ask what you need of Him?

He doesn’t promise your interactions with him will be free and easy, but he does promise you will grow and change and be transformed in the process.

Be blessed.

My Review on the SLG Teaching “Legitimacy”

ABLCD-2

I purchased a copy of this teaching while I was in Toronto on March 19, 2016 for the live event When Your Call Is Blocked.

And on the way home from Toronto to Springfield, Massachusetts, Father told me to pop this series into my CD player for the trip home.

And in one word…WOW!

The concept of legitimacy is directly tied to and forms the root of our identity. For years, I have been beating the drum of identity, and in so many words, this teaching was just confirmation of things I had taught, but never really internalized.

Of course, Arthur pulls no punches in this teaching, specifically because his yearning is for people to be free, even if that means they are uncomfortable momentarily.

That entire trip home, I found issue after issue to deal with and repent of, and following those issues I dealt with, I learned one ver simple truth, approached at from a multiplicity of angles.

I am legitimate specifically because God is and because God loves me.

Not that God loves me in the trite way that we like to talk about love. But that God loves me as in God really is tenderly affectionate towards me and is concerned for my well-being.

The Father has a genuine concern for what happens to his children, and when we use things other than his love as measuring tools for whether we are legitimate or not, then we have bought into the enemy’s lies.

We are not legitimate because we are born in to a certain nation, into a certain family, or even because we have a specific spiritual gift or skillset.

We are legitimate because God is and God is loves us.

Yeah, I know this may come across as mushy, but Father just really is radically taken with us and is jealous over us with a jealousy that rages against anything that is a lie and is designed to harm us.

Get this CD album. I cannot recommend it highly enough!

https://theslg.com/cd-albums/503-legitimacy.html

Anna Zimmerman’s Views on Texas

My wife and I have a very precious friend in Massachusetts.

She rarely speaks, but when she does, there is is life and heart and outstanding refinement in her words.

She, IIRC, is a Texas native.

Below are her unedited words on the topic, and they are flawless:

“I read my newsfeed and can tell that a lot of you went through hell. How you’re still alive is a flippin’ mystery. Neither of us knows how that happened. And you’ve found your voice after it was stolen, or broken, or lost. You’ve plowed through and found healing, and now you’re invested in helping other people. And that’s super cool, but don’t let that stop you from even greater heights. To take the healing that you’ve gotten and call it good is to sabotage how much further you could go. Don’t stop seeking the truth. Don’t lie to yourself and call the work complete when it’s not. Don’t turn into a semi-healed, compromised person helping totally broken people. It’s just another way for darkness to win by keeping you from greater victory, and thus, the people you help from greater healing. Keep climbing. Keep pushing. Keep seeking. Yes, you flippin’ can, because this isn’t as far as you can go.”

The words of prophecy are for edification, exhortation, and comfort. These are those sorts of words. Bang-on-the-dot, sister.

603,550, Precision, Redemption, and the Infallibility/Inerrancy Debate

Pardon the tedious in this post.  

I have a friend from Louisiana who lives in West Virginia.  

And I also have some different views on inerrancy and infallibility than most evangelicals.  

Moreover, I am fairly sure I have irritated my friend with my views on the topic because they more or less redefine the concepts.

Take the beginning of my post title, for example.  That number is a specific reference to the beginning of the book of Numbers, where the Lord instructs Israel to number the children of Israel by their clans and by their families, and to get a tally of their resources.  Now the numbering of these resources is a post all to itself for another time.

But the number itself is fairly precise.

And there are a number of critics of inerrancy that like to push the debate on inerrancy/infallibility to places it was not designed to go.

For example, “if that number–603,550–is off by even one, then the number isn’t exact, which constitutes an error, and thus the argument for Scriptural inerrancy falls apart.”

Or, “you forgot to include women and children, therefore you are pushing a repressive, patriarchal agenda”.

While I do not attempt to address every concern in the debate with one post, I propose–hopefully, with some measure of humility–to address better definitions of both inerrancy and infallibility that are based on a particular shade of meaning found in the words’ roots.

Errors and Failures or Fallacies

The root of “inerrant” seems to be “err”, whether that is an erring of judgment or an erring of direction or purpose.

The root of “infallible” seems to be “fail”, whether that is a failing in terms of failures or a failing in terms of fallacies (cut the 14 different ways that students of logic like to cut it).

Thus I define inerrancy as “the incapacity of Scripture to provide us with bad judgment and causing us to err in discerning God’s and our directions or understanding God’s and our purposes”

And for “infallibility”, “the incapacity of Scripture to provide us with counsel that is fallacious or leads to our ultimate failure.”

I’d say the issue with “erring” and both senses of the word “fail” is one of motive.  Was it intentional on the Father’s part, that we ultimately make errors in judgment, and thus fail in life?  

Given redemption is the heart of the gospel, does it make sense that the Father would intend that for us, erring and failures?  If we are going to assert these books are our sacred texts, and thus authoritative,  then does it make sense that we assert that the Author meant for that to happen to us?

If we are going to be part of Jesus’ plan of redemption, does it benefit him or the Father if we fail or end up in a place of futility.

I don’t think so.

Therefore, is it possible that we have hinged our debate on the details of Scripture rather than in the character of the one about whom they speak?

In my view, it is better to discuss inerrancy or infallibility from the position of whether or not God intends us to err and fail, rather than asking if all the bricks make the building that we think they are supposed to make.

God never means for us to fail.

We often like to repeat that the Bible is the Word of God in church, but often times we forget to include in the same breath that Jesus is the Word of God.  And that is to our detriment.  Our basis for faith in the Scriptures is the character and nature of the God described in the Scriptures.  They have to work together, because the voice of the Lord is what helps us understand the Scriptures, and the testimony of Scripture is what helps us understand the nature and character of God.

True,  lots of bloodshed did happen in the Old Testament.  However, did you see that the bloodshed was executed because of rebellion and sin?  And further, did you see that God doesn’t enjoy roasting us over the coals in hell?  He does not take pleasure in the death of anyone, especially the ungodly.  The judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah came because of the distress call that went up to the Lord.

These judgments were ultimately executed because of the redemptive nature of God.    Because he is concerned with the redemption not just of humanity, but also all of creation, he will discipline and judge those people and attitudes that willingly choose to defile time, land, individuals, communities, and offices.

God’s plan does not include gleeful torture.  Our foolishness leads us to accuse him of that.  He does not revel in the separation from one of his kids anymore than we revel in our separation from our source.

If we get that point nailed and set in our hearts, then we can trust him not to let us err and fail.  He also will not provide us with writings that err or fail.

He will also provide us the gifts of the Spirit and the gifts of our design that help us along the way.  

Our job is to first follow Him with the assertion that the best God we can conceive of is the God who redeems.  He fixes and makes things right.  He will take care of us, if we let him.  And He will take care of the jots and tittles.

Church Abuse and Covering-Some Original Thoughts

Recently, a preacher posed a question for discussion concerning church leadership abuse.  The assumption (not without precedent) was that many mainline churches along with independent churches (those that are more given to the “fivefold” expression of leadership) both walk in a great deal of abuse.  In these immigrations, the church member is exchanging one form abusive leadership for another, though both use different titles.

What do you think accounts for the shift from mainline churches to fivefold churches when the abuse is virtually identical?

Below is my response:

“The titles have switched, but the dynamics have remained the same.

“This may be a massive swallowing of non-reality.

“I would suggest we look at what the concepts of pastor and apostle look like from the whole of the Canon.

“And given the Greek word for pastor is only translated as “pastor” once, in Ephesians 4:11-12, I think we ought to include all reference to the character of a shepherd, such as from Psalm 23 and John 10, a d we should table some of the fivefold office terms until we really get a handle on what they mean.

“I observe we are far too casual and lackadaisical with throwing around those terms.

“Give you a good example, I know my best friend walks in the apostolic office. I do as well, My wife is a Teacher. And my best friend’s wife is a legit prophet.

“However, I just, without fear or offense or exploitation, refer to him as David and her as Wendy.

“We are just friends, and we are so far past being enamored with those things that we just walk and flow in those things as the situation arises.

“Part of what we are dealing with in the church may be one of three dynamics. In no particular order:

“1) Woundedness-we got hurt so we leave one hurtful situation for another.

“2) We have become groupies, to make ourselves and our covering feel legitimate.

3) That doctrine of covering-from a study of the Scriptures, “cover”, “covering”, and their synonyms have to do with on thing, atonement for sin with blood.

“Love covers a multitude of sins.

“The mercy seat covered, and was sprinkled with blood to provide atonement for Israel’s sins.

“Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness for sins.

“Etc.

“Head in the Greek does not mean ‘covering’, but rather ‘source’ like ‘headwaters’.

“Oftentimes, for the sake of legitimacy, we may place our leaders into a position they were never meant to occupy. And we in the Charismatic movements can become just as guilty of the Roman Catholics, in our desire for a spiritual father and mother, of seeking to treat our leaders as intermediaries.

“But there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

“We want a ‘covering’ in the (from my experience) unbiblical senses because we may be relying on a legitimacy crutch.

“This is part of the turn-off for me in many evangelical Charismatic churches.

“Some of those in the midst of this imbalance appear to like to incessantly ask, ‘are you submitted to your covering?’. Then, if you negate the question, they retort with, ‘without your covering you are unprotected!’

“Um, excuse me, sir/ma’am, but Jesus is my love and he covered everything that needs to be covered.

“Covering in context is used with respect to blood and atonement, not leadership.”

From the above, I would be curious to know what your thoughts on the subject are, even if we disagree.

 

Blessings.