Chronicles of Diversity


Welcome shade
August 21, 2006, 8:12 pm
Filed under: Weekly Columns

23 August 2006; Volume 8, Issue 26

This issue is dedicated to the memory of Gavin Coffee, who died in a stupendous car crash late last week. Pray for his family and friends as they learn to cope with this completely unexpected occurrence. (See post script at this article’s end.)

PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/welcomshade8-6.pdf

“Welcome weary traveler, come and sit in the shade of my fig tree. It sure has been hot this summer hasn’t it. How about a nice glass of ice tea? If you would like lemon in it, I will fetch a lemon from that tree over there, and that little bottle on the table has some simple syrup in it if you would like a little sweetening. I also have some fresh squeezed lemonade in the fridge in the house if you prefer.

“There you go, enjoy! So what brings you this way on such a hot sunny day?

”Oh, there’s no charge, all this is just a gift I have been given, but there is sort of an unspoken, unwritten contract, that if I want to keep this orchard growing and enlarging the house for travelers, I have to give it away. Some years back Kathy Mattea put out a song by that title. I had been thinking about how the most important things in our lives are really gifts that we really can’t earn, then I heard the song and it sort of put it into perspective. I had been working on this place for many years, but since I quit directly charging for this orchard’s gifts, it has just sort of mushroomed. It’s one of my favorite songs on my iPod, why don’t you give it a listen.

“So you have been gifted with this journey, so where are you from, and where are you headed?

“Lost it all, I see. I really don’t know where this place is headed either. But I was blessed early on in travels down this lonesome trail by a couple of old wise mentors. They had made millions in this life and basically considered money as sort of a way to keep score, somewhat in competition with their friends. I thought it was odd too, but their wisdom was; out of all the complexities of this life, money was the easiest to obtain. Their advise was to work diligently on developing your gifts and the money will take care of itself, and in the end, though the journey may be difficult and many times you seem to lose your way, it may be stormy and you want to give up, the money or other resources will appear.

“I suppose it helped in my case, that at the time I was working on a unique gold processing stream. From raw ore to processed gold and silver, that was so simple that it completely amazed me. Oh, it doesn’t scale too well in that global bigger is better world order, but it was designed for travelers like you. As you continue to travel along your journey, why not do a little prospecting. There is a passage in the Old Testament, the book of Haggai 2: 6-9, that talks about all the gold and silver belonging to God, especially in times like this. You can contemplate that passage as you travel.

[“For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts. “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts. “The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the LORD of hosts.” Haggai 2:6-9]

“Anyway, over time I became more and more amazed at just how much money I could make, I mean since it came from the earth and from God and not some scheme of man, or from the stock market like Bill Gates. I realized I couldn’t spend that much money and not get tangled up in the whole mammon scheme. Along the way though I sort of developed my first concept of giving away your gifts. I really did nothing to develop this concept, it just sort of appeared and I could be rich beyond my wildest dreams.

“Like everyone else my first plan was to give away ten percent and keep the ninety for me. Over time that vow moved to keep ten percent and give the ninety. To be honest, everyone I tell about this giving idea thinks I am really freaky. I guess to make a long story short. I am still looking for a few people with the wisdom of my first two mentors, that would be more concerned with putting the gold was really doing some good, rather than accumulating it in safe deposit boxes and bank accounts, that they really can’t take with them beyond this world. I suppose the saddest thing, is of the ministries and charities that I have contacted, they seem content to continue to raise money the same old way, by bugging people to contribute rather than truly dig a hole in the ground processed only by faith.

”Well if you should come into that natural wealth, or meet someone who is rich enough to be more concerned about the final destination rather than just getting more, send them my way. God willing I will still be here, or I will be back soon.

“Yeah, I got one of them just last week. Actually mine was a little booklet. You know, it’s like most of the other stuff in this world. If you are just a little more organized, work a little harder, think positive thoughts, do this and that and you will create a new rich reality for yourself. As you just said, and as Kathy’s song says, it worked until you lost it all. And now you are some where down that trail to realize if and when you get there again, you will give away more, accumulate less, and try not to worry about tomorrow so much.

“I’ll come back again to that thought and my development concept, but I think I should mention some of the training I received from my mother. Actually, I probably had one of the best upbringings anyone could hope for in this life. It still amazes me, what a great job my parents did, with so little to work with. I suppose when you consider their own limitations it was an absolute miracle.

”Anyway my mother never went to college, but she received a PHD in Worry, while minoring in Stuff Accumulation. I suppose to some extent it is part of my environmental inheritance, to go along with the genes they gave me. Worry and stuff seem so natural to me.

“One of the Bible passages I find troubling, as I am still trying to manage some of the stuff that my mother accumulated before she died, was the New Testament passage from Mark where Jesus tells the rich young ruler to sell what you have and give to the poor. I have thought about just giving away all the stuff I don’t need, but selling stuff takes a whole lot more effort.

[Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” Mark 10:21]

“This sort of also relates in what I have to sell to the world, that over time brings in enough liquidity to continue to enlarge the orchard and the guest house. What I do is similar to what my doctor does when he replaced my ascending aorta. Here and in the surrounding country is where I do my research and my writing, just like he did at the University of Washington Medical Center. When I’m not here, just like he does, I’m out teaching, somewhere in the rest of the world, what I have learned.

”That aortic surgery was sure another gift experience, if you stick around for a few days I can share the details of that too. The coolest part of that was when they put me into a drug induced coma to help correct my heart arrhythmia, as about a third of the patients develop. All these worldly trappings and fluff were stripped away, and I was gifted with a high peak experience of the true gift of my life. Just so I would not forget, since I am not too good with numbers, it happened March 3rd, 2003, at about 3 AM. I’ve added thirty three minutes and seconds just for effect, but I was in really no place for telling time in that very low state of existence. But I do remember past midnight and how scared I was, and I woke up about five thirty in the morning much to the amazement of the nurse watching my vital signs in my intensive care room.

“So this is very briefly what I teach here and around the world.

”Creation is the ultimate reality that we experience in this world. As created creatures, created in the image of God, we can either learn from creation or from man. Life is ultimately a balancing act, or better a tensioning process between those two extremes. Western urban culture is by far and away the highest art form, of believing that we can control and conquer nature, that the world has ever known. Therefore, virtually everyone is tensioned and highly biased toward human rationality, ultimately resting on the premise of materialism; money, stuff, worry, and about how to get and maintain them. In short, we believe in an illusion of security, instead of even having a concept of true security.

“Creation on the other hand is the ultimate completely natural free gift of God’s Natural Law and Common Grace. We have the choice, no matter our religious understanding or lack thereof, to learn from it, or ignore it. You haven’t told me much of how you happened down this trail, but virtually everyone who has come to sit in the shade of this fig tree and have a glass of lemonade or iced tea, has left behind, maybe by choice or by force, a lot of excess rational baggage, and a pretty sizable library of self help materials.

“You just happened to show up while our guests are out in the field learning that all their life and enterprise stuff, is really just a model, a poor model at that, of the diversity of God’s natural creation. Some of those guests are here on a so called scholarship, or partial scholarship, those who can afford it, are paying the big bucks, a few really big bucks. That’s simply the gift they all bring.

“Overtime, just through the routine learning experiences, they get to know who has paid their dues with money and those who have paid their dues in some other way. I suppose the most interesting thing about the whole process, is through the community atmosphere we try to develop, they all begin to realize that life itself is the ultimate gift and this life is way too short to keep anything completely to yourself. No matter what your divine gifts may be, most discover that to paraphrase from the ”The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” it’s much better to live in a land where it is always Christmas and never winter.

“I suppose you were gifted today, because I normally do my writing later in the week, today I am here, because I have some not for money work to do on Wednesday, which is when I am normally at my laptop and visiting with new friends that always just seem to stop off the trail. You are welcome to hang around, if you would like to stay, we need to give you a personal interview so we will know how your gifts can best be utilized to help you out, and also help others, so that you can better enjoy and grow from your continuing pilgrimage. Yes, we are working on all that marketing stuff, but it always seems to get pushed to the back burner by the gifts of life.

Better than all that, even though I have been doing most of the talking, I can see from the questions you ask and your genuine demeanor, I am the one who is truly blessed today.

“Do you have any other questions?

“Oh, the fig tree is very unusual in this country. We have to go through all sorts of contortions to keep it alive. We even move it into a green house for the winter. Obviously, it is not a native plant of this area or this climate. But you really are a gifted person, most of our guests don’t pick up on that for a long time, some never do. We make it a point to never discuss the allegory unless we are asked directly.

“Everything on this earth as a place and a season, just as in Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 and the song from the hippie times. But actually the fig tree relates to a couple of Old Testament prophets and their descriptions of eternity. In those utterances, every person was blessed with the gift of his very own fig tree and the opportunity to enjoy its shade with friends.

”I suppose that assumes that it gets warm enough in heaven to enjoy the shade with a cool glass of iced tea or lemonade. We have endeavored to bring that model here. So although we are still stuck in this world like a fig tree in a pot, not knowing for sure if tomorrow will bring sun, rain, frost, or drought, we should enjoy the gifts we have today, and let God control the future. That is the ultimate gift that our creation programs teach. Hopefully you will find it, if you decide to stick around for a while.

“Therefore our real goal is to strip away your dependency on the security that the world requires you to carry, and travel with a lighter pack and with a new vision of the ultimate gift of life and your unique place in the world. Those two Old Testament prophecies are found in Micah 4:4 and Zechariah 3:10. We have prepared this little card to help you focus both on the requirements of the present today, viewing somewhat your future fig tree that will be planted in eternal soil and not just a big pot.

[But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree,
And no one shall make them afraid;
For the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.
Micah 4 :4

In that day,’ says the LORD of hosts,
“Everyone will invite his neighbor
Under his vine and under his fig tree.’ ”
Zechariah 3:10]

Gavin Coffee post script: This may sound harsh, but Gavin did not pass away in a tragic car accident. Such accounts should be stricken from all our thoughts and our remorse. Through out all of human history, regardless of religious affiliation, people have a God created belief in an after life, it is only in this western atheistic world view that people pass away. Furthermore, tragic car accidents do not happen in the Christian or Jewish world view. While the mode of his death was unexpected to us, death is just an opportunity to enter into eternity. He died instantly and was transported to an eternal kingdom, in which he has begun to prepare an eternal orchard and home for his family and friends. All this has taken place by the grace of God alone, offered through Jesus Christ alone. I one day hope to stop by for a glass of iced tea, or maybe lemonade, and maybe a tree ripened fig. Hopefully Gavin will say you have stopped by too.

Our latest Chronicles:

Chaos Economics; PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/chaoseconomics6-14-6.pdf
Christian acquiescence; PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/christianacqui6-21-6.pdf
Building; PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/building7-26-6.pdf
Walls & ceilings; PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/wallsceilings8-2-6.pdf
Building sanctification, Part I; PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/buildsanctI8-9-6.pdf
Building sanctification, Part II; PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/buildsanctII8-16-6.pdf

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Building sanctifcation, Part 2
August 16, 2006, 8:43 pm
Filed under: Weekly Columns

16 August 2006; Volume 8, Issue 25

PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/buildsanctII8-16-6.pdf

Since we live in an age of conspiracies and counter conspiracies, we might think that the tensioned link between Romans Chapter 7 and 8 is a plot to undermine established American Evangelicalism.

I was reading an article last week that stated that two of the featured people were revolutionists, not revolutionaries. Trying to find out the difference, I launched a small information insurgency into the internet. As best I could determine from the context, a revolutionist is less violent, more politically correct, but still seeking substantial change in the culture. That could be secular, religious or a combination of the two. Revolutionists however, are still seeking a new world order, just like revolutionaries.

Within Christianity and much of evangelicalism, there is a growing clamor for a new Reformation of the church. This is in part because much of Protestantism has become no different doctrinally, and just as decadent as the Roman Catholic church of Luther’s day. These people may call themselves reformers or reformists, attempting to bring about a modern Reformation.

While I may be somewhat an out spoken individual on some of these points, I do not believe we need a new revolution or a new reformation, what we really need to do is get back to the basics, not create something new and better. King Solomon perhaps said it best, “Their is nothing new under the sun, and everything is nothing but vanity.”

We all seem to run around humming the song, “Your so vain, you probably think this song is about you.” The problem is of course the old saying, “When you point your finger at someone else, three are pointing back at you.” The revolutionary concept of our day however, is that we no longer believe that this is true. In our current age we may believe that those three pointing fingers really don’t mean me, or perhaps they point that I am truly three times more intelligent, hence it isn’t vanity at all, but simple superiority.

So fitting within that superior concept, I have adopted the title of “Reformationist” as opposed to a reformer or a reformist. A Google search returns only a little over 600 hits for a reformationist, and a great many of them attributed to “the Reformationist” not me, but a distinct individual. Again as I have defined the term a reformationist, they are uniquely different from the masses of reformers, reformists, revolutionaries, or revolutionists. The reformationist, does not seek to develop new revelations of a higher order, but to accentuate the basics. In this case the essential doctrines of the historic Protestant faith.

So what separates the Reformationist’s movement from all the vain attempts to move Christianity in one direction or another? The key lies in Paul’s unity in writing the book of Romans, and specifically the tension between Chapters 7 and 8. The specific point being anyone who tells you that he or she can differentiate between, the work of God on the one hand and the work of his own fleshly vain desires is not telling the truth, but is succumbing to the control of his own vanity.

Virtually all the time these so called sanctimonious insights are based upon redefining works under the law as the basis for us rising to God’s holiness. “I don’t do these things and neither should you.” But where is the grace and the true diversity of human possibilities?

However, Paul doesn’t separate the things of the spirit from the things of the flesh. He succinctly states that the things we do for God are so encompassed by sin that we can’t tell where the flesh leaves off and the work of the Spirit begins. As stated last week when you try to develop that distinction you move from resting in Christ Jesus’ righteousness and rest upon your own understanding. In that process you lose the power, to truly live a life without condemnation as stated in Romans 8:1. Therefore over time, you must work harder and harder to fulfill the law’s requirements, eventually becoming legalistic. Then you try to place your burdens on others, who wisely reject this notion, leaving you without friends, which you further justify as persecution.

Something so simple we have spun so many ways that we have a world full of bad revolutionaries, lousy revolutionists, poor reformers, and mediocre reformists, and virtually no awesome reformationists.

If you haven’t gathered it already this distinctiveness of reformationists is just an attempt to show that whatever handle we may put on what we do is not so important, what is important is that we really are incapable of fully understanding our motivations in virtually everything we do.

This concept of moving beyond human reason, is not something that comes easy to western culture and individuals. It contributes greatly to what radical Islam considers the “great satan” that they are trying to destroy. They can truthfully see that there is no room for God in what we call grace, but the distinction is between western atheism and Islamic theism. If Allah, or God is not the center of your life, them by definition you can not be a religious person. But they too are motivated by the guilt of not resting in Christ’s finished work, because they do not understand, they can not truly contemplate a gospel that seems to rest on materialism rather than God. In that bondage they seek to make converts forcefully to Islam, and when the whole world accepts that concept the Islamic work will be completed.

There are probably countless distinctions where we honestly can not determine the difference between our fleshly nature and where God’s Spirit prompts us. Recently in my own life two of those predominate, one is with anger the other is with the concept of waiting on God.

About a month ago a semi-truck from one of the large grocery chains moved into the lane of traffic I was driving in and took off the drivers side mirror. Accidents do happen in the world. I don’t know the reason why the driver moved into my lane, but instead of admitting his mistake, or even saying that he didn’t think he was in my lane, he stated that I was trying to cut in front of his truck to pass a bus.

Now as best as I can understand his explanation of the event, we must move him well beyond just an ordinary truck driver into the realm of at least Super-hero. He must have been able to read my mind, (while driving a small Saturn, I was trying to pull in front of his big tractor with a 54’ long trailer, so that I could pass an equally large bus stopped at an bus stop over a block away).

Not only was this driver a mind reader, he also had xray vision. From his elevated position in the cab of the truck, not only could he see that the front wheels of his tractor were in his lane, (because he must have seen the line striping), he also could see my car, which during the time of the incident and because of the traffic was all the time out of his normal vision (because of the engine cowling and the tractor’s engine). Also because of this supernatural vision gift, while I was in front of his mirrors, I presume he could also see that I was in his lane.

Needless to say I was furious with his tale. Not only was my integrity being challenged, the driver was lying to the extent it would have been humorous, except to the damage to the mirror of my tiny little Saturn. I sent a well reasoned response to my insurance company and later to the Risk Management person of the food chain, stating that because of their drivers negligence I expected them to fix my drivers side mirror, (total insurance replacement cost including tax, $111. and change, well below my deductible.)

After not hearing from the Risk Management person for a couple of weeks, I sent him and email asking what was up. A few days later I got a letter from him, (of course dated the day before I sent the email, but taking two days to get from Bellevue to Seattle), stating that they had agreed with their mind reading driver, I was at fault.

Needless to say I was even more angry. Since they are a self insured company, and having spent more than a few years in corporate America, I understand that it costs a lot of money for them to write a check of any size. I further understand that it also costs money to investigate properly any incident. I also checked with the state Insurance Commissioner and found out, because they are self insured I would have to file a claim in Small Claims Court.

I fired off a very terse letter response to the Risk Manager, along with a copy to my insurance company, again restating my claim, and decided to let it rest at that, at least for the time being. After all, I can only spend so much time fighting over a $111. claim, even on the basis of the principle of the thing.

Now the question I have to ask myself is how much of my response is the result of righteous anger for being falsely maligned and how much was based upon my own flesh wanting to get those guys? I really don’t know especially in the context of the tension between Romans 7 & 8. Furthermore having to listen to my own preaching, I better just let it rest in that tension and see what might happen henceforth.

Interesting, Monday afternoon I got a call from my large insurance company. After reading all my responses and I presume talking with the food chain representative, they realized that if they also do not rebut the other driver’s description of the accident, as my insurer they will be responsible to the damages to the tractor, which is a tear in the fiberglass at the back of the tractor’s front fender (again showing that their driver was accelerating from behind me) probably well in excess of the price of my mirror. So I had the opportunity to again state my case and position against the food chain.

So where this will lead I do not know, but I did my part, either in my flesh, or as Godly anger, I surely can not differentiate, for as superior I may think I might be most of the time, I surely am not that good at any time.

There is a Godly anger, one of the most interesting is in 2 Kings 2:24 where two bears mauled 42 youths after they had mocked Elisha. In anger even Jesus overturned the table of the money changers which can be read in the three gospels.

Even more complicated in proper discernment of the flesh and Spirit, is the concept of waiting on the Lord. On the one hand you have this Biblical concept, on the other side you have your fleshly nature to be slothful and also just many of the distractions of this life which seem to fill all of our days.

I am in Spokane, not really knowing other than building my small house on my property what I need to do to move out of Seattle. While everything seemed to be moving rapidly forward while I was over here last month, once I returned to Seattle, nothing seemed to be going forward, and my return was delayed by the mirror incident and things beyond my control for a couple of weeks.

Things look naturally that there is not enough time and money to do anything significant up there this year, but I also feel even more strongly that I need to move from Seattle as soon as possible. So here I was waiting on what might occur and really not feeling that anything else I had found really fit within this scenario. Then yesterday there seemed to be progress in the two areas that seemed to be the significant hold ups.

Until yesterday, I have been occupied by what I call 2 hour jobs, that take all day. The question in the context again of Romans 7 and 8, were these jobs even necessary to begin, or were they a way to just procrastinate instead of focusing on the task at hand? I am really incapable of judging any of it in the proper timing context. At least I didn’t take a nap, but was I diligently waiting on the Lord, or was I simply wasting time to keep occupied?

I hope these last couple of week’s incidents taken from my life, have given you an reformationist concept of how you can be your natural self and not beat yourself up by not being able to keep God’s law or even your own laws consistently.

In the midst of the active mirror problems, I was reminded of Walt Disney’s, Davy Crockett line, “Be sure you’re right and then go ahead.” But changing the metaphor slightly, you better be sure your job is to drain the swamp, before you walk in amidst the alligators.

The substance of the power from freedom from condemnation in Romans 7 and 8, is contained in resting completely in Christ’s justification of your sinful flesh that can be probably best contemplated from the promise of Isaiah 55:8,9

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Our latest Chronicles:

Evolved Units; PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/evolvedunits6-7-6.pdf
Chaos Economics; PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/chaoseconomics6-14-6.pdf
Christian acquiescence; PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/christianacqui6-21-6.pdf
Building; PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/building7-26-6.pdf
Walls & ceilings; PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/wallsceilings8-2-6.pdf
Building sanctification; PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/buildsanctI8-9-6.pdf



Building sanctifcation, Part 1
August 9, 2006, 11:39 pm
Filed under: Weekly Columns

9 August 2006; Volume 8, Issue 24

PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/buildsanctI8-9-6.pdf

Salt is a good thing, it preserves and enhances the taste of food. But what good is it if it loses those qualities? Well salt can’t change its nature, NaCl was the way God made it. If you replace the chlorine with say carbonate, you still have a salt in the chemical sense, but it can give you a bad case of gas. It has other worthwhile uses, but does not do much good compared to regular salt.

This of course is a loose paraphrase of Matthew 5:13.

I made some Indian smoked salmon this week. It is virtually impossible to buy in the store, because it is cold smoked until it is dry. Mine took about 30 hours to get to the stage where I like it. You can hot smoke (kipper) salmon in the same modern equipment I used in about 2 hours. Real Indian smoked salmon will keep virtually forever without refrigeration, mine because it is not so dry would probably get there eventually, because it has enough salt to keep it from spoiling. Hot smoked salmon needs refrigeration all the time. Without refrigeration for more than a few hours and you are looking for trouble. Chances are it won’t kill you, but it could make you sick enough to wish you were dead.

So what good is an “on fire church” if it isn’t salty, and the air conditioner isn’t working?

Today, the times are like none I have ever experienced. Thank God, that the Rapture could happen at any moment and we will all be in air conditioned heaven. It must be a global warming thing after all. Of course my salmon (I used pinks) is still high enough in oils that without refrigeration it will eventually become somewhat rancid. The real Indians used Chum salmon, lower in fat. But Coho and Kings don’t work at all. Their oil nature becomes rancid over time, so even hot smoked and refrigerated, it still must be vacuum sealed to maintain its flavor. Now if the world just had a holy knife, or pair of holy scissors maybe they could cut through the thick plastic and taste the Christian essence?

I once went to one of those full gospel or Pentecostal churches. The pastor was the son of one of those tongue speakers also. So as this pastor was reaching the sunset of his life, he had pretty much seen all the manifestations of the gifts of the spirit, the good, the bad, and the ugly. While giving a sermon, he could get an idea, pause for just a moment, and then give it a spin that would be the least offensive to the majority of the congregation, but still get the point across to those not just warming the pews.

When need be, there is something about being six five and weighing over 250 pounds that can give you a certain swagger. I will never forget one of his sermons. I don’t know what title he had for the sermon, if he had one. I called it, “Be careful what you pray for, it might just come true.”

It was preached right after one of those great commission seasons, you know, Acts 1:8: But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

It seems that the Jerusalem church did a pretty good job at evangelizing the Jerusalem part, not quite so good in Judea, a little less well in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth, you can forget that. “We might fall off the edge of the globe, or their might be demons and bad people out there.”

First it started with persecution, Saul or Paul knew something about that, but that really didn’t have a significant effect, the Jerusalem church still was the Jerusalem church. “Filled with the power and the gifts of the Spirit! Can I get a witness? Amen, brothers and sisters. Praise the Lord, Hallelujah!”

As time went on the persecution got worse, but the fishers of men, were still fishing from the dock. Then in the year of our Lord 70, the dock was destroyed, along with the rest of the city. Finally, we have Christian evangelists at their best, running for their lives to the ends of the earth, seeking safety from the storm.

That sermon doesn’t preach very well in most places. I condensed it considerably, just for my readers, ‘cause I’m such a sensitive guy, but there are enough facts available to fill 20 – 30 minutes for a real sermon.

I realize that the comments on Acts 1:8 in the American Evangelical Study Bible says that short term missions trips, provided they don’t exceed two weeks in length qualify as fulfillment of the Judea, Samaria, and end of the earth requirements. Also, it is perfectly acceptable to account for them as true missions giving in the church’s financial records. After all the sheep will not just give tens of thousands of dollars to build a school or something with a permanent effect, but if you can make them believe that their vacation fulfilled their (and by their extension God’s) missions requirements, they can return to their Jerusalem and justify all the stress of leaving their secure material comforts.

We live in a world of religious warfare. It’s not a “War on Terror,” like the President so stated almost 5 years ago. It is not “World War III” like Newt and other Neocon and conservative pundits have recently so stated. Democrats and liberals have redefined everything in so many politically correct ways, if it were not for God’s gift of gravity, I might forget which way is up and which way is down, so war to them is just bad karma that will soon dissipate as the wind blows. However, this is war, and it is a war based on three great Babylonian religions, against everyone else who are part of the infidels, including the other two.

Three great Babylonian religions? That’s right Sunni and Shia Islam, and western Globalism.

You see the devil doesn’t want you sitting under your own fig tree enjoying your family and friends as the Bible describes as paradise. The devil wants you subjugated to any higher power other than God Almighty. Whether that be overtly as in the case of Islam, or covertly in the case of Globalism you are stilled called to worship at the altar of another Caesar. In the case of Islam it is Allah, derived from the Moon God, and in Globalism it is Mammon, earned from the materialism God.

When Jesus sets up His Kingdom on this earth, no matter how you think He will bring it about, that Kingdom will be a Theocracy.

In any theocracy there is no separation of church and state. Sorry to say many of America’s founding fathers were Christian theocrats. Which works really well if you are elitist enough to believe you have a direct line to God, and all the rest of the world is made up of carnal Christians and the carnally damned. To know for sure the absolute difference between good and evil and what’s best for everyone else, that is heaven on earth, and Man at his sinful finest.

Let’s form a democracy and vote on it. Thankfully, the Puritan Presbyterians didn’t want to live in a Baptist theocracy, and vise versa. Surely none of them wanted to serve some Papist Pope, nor a Divine Right King. By the grace of God, America was founded as a republic. That of course has been systemically educated out of our educational system. In a true democracy nothing works. As America slouches closer and closer to that utopian democratic model isn’t it amazing how government at all levels becomes more and more powerless to do anything, constructive or otherwise. All the while free trade globalism is evangelized as the mechanism to bring heaven to earth.

Theocratic Shiites (Iran and organizations such as Hezbollah) hate Jews, Christians, and Sunni Arabs. Sunnis (Arabs and organizations such as Al Qaida and Hamas) hate Jews, Christians, and Shiites. Since in Islam, government and religion are one, Islam hates, Israel, the United States, and all infidels. Let’s all go to war and bring democracy to the middle east. Iraq and Afghanistan surely don’t understand a world of peace, harmony, democracy, and global materialism. Those simpleton Palestinians how could they be so stupid to elect Hamas the majority party in their government. The Lebanese by allowing Hezbollah to be armed by Iran through Syria and also being a political party, how inane. Well, Israel is in the process of taking care of that problem, even as Hezbollah rockets continue to make a point for and in Israel.

Peace in the Middle East could spontaneously evolve from this primordial chaotic ooze at any moment. Ain’t evolution grand, it gives us answers when things are too complex for us to understand, or God doesn’t tell us what exactly he is doing. But I probably could sell thousands of books, if I speculate enough and retain a good agent. “God I sure hope I’m not in the city where that suitcase nuke goes off as I am selling my books (and doing your work).”

No stupendous change is going to work in a positive way for you unless you begin to get a deeper understanding of how God uses this world to build His church and Christians. Real theologians call this progressive sanctification, whatever that means. The evangelical concept of this is being recreated into the image of Jesus. The problem with the evangelical application is that it seeks to raise the individual to equality with God’s glory without undergoing any earthly suffering. A lot of this evolves from the Wesleyan doctrine that you can rise above your sin. John and Charles admitted that they never quite got there, but at least they were holy enough to admit their “short comings.”

Modern evangelicals no longer share that humility, and you too can reach that Nirvana (sorry wrong religion) if you just indulge in their conferences, buy their DVD’s, CD’s, tapes, and books. The difference between these modern indulgence peddlers and Johann Tetzel of Luther’s day is that Tetzel was selling the offer for loved ones to escape purgatory. Today it is much more immediate gratification of the self. So instead of the pope trying to raise funds to build St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the modern day authorities build their materialist ministries with the Pope Leo X vision of papal authority. Of course their vision also comes from God, just like the Pope, but they are too blind to see this connection, and of course are totally anti Roman Catholic in their preaching, even though the promote a more highly evolved version of a global catholic church.

Is it any wonder Islam cannot discern the difference between the United States, American Christianity, unfettered corporate greed, and the true gospel of the “people of the book?”

The Bible speaks to a different type of evangelism and a different gospel, remote to much of evangelicalism, which truly builds one through the process of progressive sanctification. Probably the most direct reference is in the contrast between Romans chapters 7 and 8.

To paraphrase briefly, Chapter 7: We are all rotten scum balls in this life, always have been, always will be. Chapter 8: In Christ Jesus that doesn’t matter, be grateful for what you’ve got and get with the program.

At least beginning with Pelagius, more than likely when this letter of Paul was first read, Christians have said and preached that the two chapters do not logically connect. You can’t be a scum ball, and not feel guilty about it (and without you trying to fix it). See, if we don’t silently add the trying to fix it and overcome the scum baldness (sic.) we will stay a scum ball forever. That is completely logical to all humanity. However and therefore, (for those of you trained in looking for those words) it also follows that by your works you can overcome sin. Jesus may do the heavy lifting, but by God I have a role to play (or else I’m worthless.) Ergo, I am at least partially responsible for my heavenly crowns.

But that is Biblical revisionism (to be humanly and politically correct). What Paul is saying in context is just as the paraphrase states above is true. Furthermore, when you move from Christ Jesus as your total justification before God for your sinfulness, you also lose His power to be without condemnation. That is ladies and gentlemen, some pretty heavy lifting. Spun another way, what you do out of gratitude alone, is the only sufficient means of grace to overcome the guilt of still being a scum ball of flesh.

Again, what Christ Jesus did on the cross finished the work of your justification and adopted you as heirs of God’s kingdom. You can’t become more adopted as a Christian, for some reason known only to God through Jesus’ blood on the cross, you are an heir positionally, not an error, this will never change. That adoption is also outside and within what we call time and space. That is Good News. Therein alone resides the power to be free of sin and guilt, resting in Christ. It is God’s freedom alone, and cannot therefore be linked to your best logic, or your best good works. Once you do, you will be plagued with guilt and powerless to overcome it.

So what type of gratitude filled salt do you wish to become? The enhancing flavor of Indian smoked that will keep forever. The salt of hot smoked salmon that must be refrigerated and vacuum sealed, a common salt that gives everyone intestinal gas, or just a brine that is used to melt the winter ice along the world’s roadways. These are of course just allegorical statements of a deeper truth. Through the cross alone comes man’s first true freedom, with that comes the gift and the power for you to make a choice and live successfully no matter what the worldly circumstances may hold. This true wherever you may find yourself, empowered not to worry about sin, completely on the basis of your total thankfulness and nothing else.

The world is going to hell more rapidly than perhaps ever in history. Therefore, your homework for next week is to think about what you might thankfully give up in this world, so that you won’t have to be forcefully exiled to “the end of the earth.” Christians were created to be allegorically the preservation and flavor enhancing common force in the world. The question is not whether you will be used, it is if you will enjoy the trip.?

Our latest Chronicles:

Unity in Diversity; PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/unitydiversity5-31-6.pdf
Evolved Units; PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/evolvedunits6-7-6.pdf
Chaos Economics; PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/chaoseconomics6-14-6.pdf
Christian acquiescence; PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/christianacqui6-21-6.pdf
Building; PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/building7-26-6.pdf
Walls & ceilings; PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/wallsceilings8-2-6.pdf



Walls & Ceilings
August 2, 2006, 7:28 pm
Filed under: Weekly Columns

Walls & Ceilings
2 August 2006; Volume 8, Issue 23

PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/wallsceilings8-2-6.pdf

When you write commentary such as this, as we evangelicals like to say, by the Spirit, certain words or phrases sometimes catch your attention. You quickly dismiss a number as interesting, some force you to ruminate on them directly or indirectly, becoming the direction of another article, or series of articles. Last week as I wrote, “also facilitating church growth beyond building walls and ceilings,” I had such an epiphany.

In the context of the church and church growth, I was writing about natural walls and ceilings, but even as the words continued, I could not help but think that the real limits to church growth and development are not the physical walls but the invisible walls. These walls may be of God, but as I have continued to think about “walls and ceilings” over the last week I am convinced that they more often than not are of our own construction, to shield us, to protect us, from the harshness of the world, but even more than we would ever care to admit, the reality of God.

Before we continue let us look at what I wrote last week to get the context of the walls and ceilings comment:

“The point is however, we don’t know what type of church the Lord would build in America if preachers did not preach anything but Jesus Christ crucified and raised for our justification. I would suspect that men would then find something they could build upon in church that relates not only to their real lives but also facilitating church growth beyond building walls and ceilings. In other words Jesus Christ would set them free to build the church not just watch from the sidelines, while wondering what the Seahawks or the Mariners were doing. . . . . In that freedom in Christ and His church is the basis for changing the world in short order. Continued separation of the visible church from the true gospel gives us more of the mess that is leading this world more rapidly to Hades door.

In the context of building, I cannot help but wonder, if the spiritual house we build in this life, is the structure we will inherit for eternity?

“Jesus is building me a mansion in glory, where I will receive (and admire) the crowns I received for doing His work on this earth!”

“Oh, really?”

The context of last week’s message was that Jesus was building His church in the world bypassing the understanding of missionaries, missions organizations, denominations, and their supporters here and abroad. This brings up the question, “If what we are doing isn’t working the way God is working, perhaps we should change our building programs.”

What we are building then is not God’s church, but a church we would like God to admire. Walls and ceilings of our own understanding of God, but not of His true nature. Those walls may be lined with gold and precious gems, the best art known to man, but they are still temporal walls and ceilings of our own construction, trying to give us right standing with God. Worldly walls and ceilings that will not stand the judgement of God’s holiness, or even temporal time.

Probably Keith Green’s most popular song is, “The Sheep and The Goats” based on Matthew 25:31-46 To get the title referenced correctly, checking my iTunes playlist, I couldn’t help be amused by the next song on this album of his music, “Asleep in The Light.”

“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Matthew 25:41-43

Now these walls and ceilings that we are building are a personal structure, a congregational building, and a larger visible to the world enterprise. That includes all the work we do, the application of the resources we are given, and the roles we play, both in the City of God, but also the City of man. These eternal structures are our life’s work, for both redeemed sinners, and pagan sinners. There is little difference, if any, when these buildings are constructed by our own hands, in our own strength. It is the rare structure indeed, constructed upon the foundation of the gospel of Jesus Christ as the only justification for humanity, both individually and as the body of Christ.

Matthew 24 describes the events that will happen at the end of the age. Preceding the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25 are the parables of the ten virgins and the parable of the talents. These chapters are known together by Bible scholars as the Fifth Discourse on the Kingdom of God: Kingdom Judgement. Therefore, the context of the ten virgins and sheep and the goats, directly relates to our vigilant investment of time and resources, and also our understanding of the times in which we live.

My God, is the God of creation first, the Bible second, and the church third. That is the way it has been all of my life as well as I can recall. As a consequence, I have trouble understanding why most evangelicals, especially in this age of stupendous change, are content to worship their God only for a couple of hours Sunday mornings, in a building which is increasingly a converted or a borrowed something or other.

Buildings, as walls and ceilings, have certain elements of infrastructure that facilitate the congregational aspect of the church, but should it be a creation to make people feel at home, or should it be a facility that gives God glory no matter it’s roots or foundation? I suppose that depends upon the foundation and the roots, not the limiting walls and ceiling.

As I said last week, and I try to say every week, the foundation of the church should be the historic Christian gospel. That in time and space two thousand years ago, the God – man Jesus Christ came to earth, lived the only sinless life, was crucified by God as our propitiatory sacrifice, and has become the only source of our justification for Godly righteousness and our hope of eternal life.

My non-scientific survey suggests that this historic foundation is absent, except in passing in most churches, and not at all in many of the largest. That gospel passing seems always leading you toward living the successful Christian life (materially most of the time) by doing this and that (again materially) and not doing anything bad, wrong, or dare I say sinful, which will take away your reward here and now, or in your eternal mansion filled with crowns.

That is not the true Christian gospel, but it is a gospel of worldly works righteousness that leads to bondage, despair, and much deeper problems. The power to live the Christian life does not come from your work to overcome your sin, your contributions, your Our Fathers and Hail Mary’s, or their Protestant extemporaneous equivalents. The power and the freedom to overcome sin comes through resting in Jesus Christ alone, for what He has accomplished historically in time and space. When He said on the cross that ”It is finished,” it was finished.

Trying to add to that is not only blasphemy, personally and corporately, it can and does build walls and ceilings, some with beautiful ornaments, but they are also the walls and ceilings of sin inherited limitations, bondage, and eventual destruction.

Probably the most powerful Christian message ever recorded is the New Testament book of Romans. Romans was the basis for the Reformation. It is great to dissect it into parts, but its greatest impact comes in one gulp. Preferably by listening to it read, so you don’t think you are doing any great feat by reading it yourself. As un-American as it sounds be completely passive and let Paul speak to you and what Christianity is all about.

How can I live a Holy life before God if I don’t try? Take it as a miracle! We look for miracles everywhere, why not in just resting in Christ’s finished work. The miracle in that rest, is that the power then becomes present to do much more than a list of the laws that we can never keep. Call it the ability to rise above the law and our flesh. It changes our focus outside ourselves. Changing the focus to outside ourselves, really takes a miracle the way the world is operating today.

Since I got the Netflix subscription I have seen more than a few documentaries, a lot of them made by those left wing, commie, pinko types, but a few by those right wing, libertarian, individualists. The last one I watched was probably the most scary, when you put it into the context of all the rest. The title of that one was “The Future of Food.” Because of my background in biology I was able to understand somewhat the nature of what is happening with genetic engineering of our food supply. Agri-business is in the process of putting in a killer gene in much of the seed they sell. That means essentially that you have to buy seed for your crops from the business to grow your harvest, because the gene keeps the produced grain from being a viable seed.

If this isn’t big brother enough, all this isn’t being done in laboratories, like other bio-engineering and stem cell research, but in open fields across the world, and no governments know where those crops are planted. Furthermore, the United States is the biggest advocate of this research, without any safeguards or governmental oversight whatsoever.

So what happens if this killer gene migrates to the other seed stock outside the engineered seed? You have worldwide famine like the world has never seen, but more importantly you lose all the genetic information of all the developed and wild varieties, that can provide for rebuilding the food supply. These varieties have been developed over the whole history of agriculture throughout the world.

The section of Matthew we have looked at earlier are the words of Jesus speaking about the end of the age and the need for vigilance. The book of Revelation is a more in depth look into what will indeed happen at the end of this age, as God installs His kingdom on earth, through the judgment of the Great Tribulation period. What is interesting in my strange sort of way, is that the third and fourth seals of Revelation 6 could be brought about by just such an occurrence as a man designed killer gene in our food crops.

Of course the majority of American evangelicalism sees no need for earthy vigilance because they will soon be raptured out to be forever with the Lord and to move into their mansion in glory. This is, somewhat in the context of Matthew 24 and 25, because of their attempts to convert America to a Christian nation and to give the rest of the world democracy. Oh, I forgot that the Matthew 25 context deals with helping your fellow man, not political power.

So what really is the abundance that is spoken about in the parable of the talents? God’s kingdom work, or the work of worldly abundance conversions to a relationship with a deist’s God?

Walls and ceilings, so what does your spiritual house look like? Does it reflect the God that all creation can only give us a dark vision, or is it a nice house in the suburbs, or a penthouse condo on easy street? Is its foundation based on Jesus Christ’s finished work, or is it built on the substance of prosperity, self righteousness, legalism, and vain attempts to live the victorious Christian life.

As for me and my house, we will stick with the God of creation, and the assurance of Jesus Christ crucified. This house will expand as we grow in Christ throughout eternity for its walls and ceilings are just a way to moderate the climate and not a building to limit God’s glory.

Our latest Chronicles:

Rootless in the world; PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/rootless5-24-6.pdf
Unity in Diversity; PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/unitydiversity5-31-6.pdf
Evolved Units; PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/evolvedunits6-7-6.pdf
Chaos Economics; PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/chaoseconomics6-14-6.pdf
Christian acquiescence; PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/christianacqui6-21-6.pdf
Building; PDF link: http://www.wondersprings.com/2006pdffiles/building7-26-6.pdf