Monday, August 12, 2013

How has the “provision of God” been made manifest in your life? In what ways has the church today grown ungrateful for our abundance? 521-1 - 3-2

My parents were divorced when I very young so money was always in short supply. My mother was a registered nurse, however, back then nurses didn't get paid a completive salary as is they do today. My mom was a good seamstress and made lots stylish clothes for me and then later I learned to be a decent seamstress myself. I was one of the best dressed kids in school. As superfluous as this was, it demonstrates that I was always well cared for. I also survived near drowning and a fairly severe case of polio.

I did three things way too young; got married, had two children and was divorced. And the end of my freshman year of college I remember sitting in court and having the divorce judge ask me what my plans were. “To graduate from college of course” was my answer. The judge asked me how I planned to do it and I said something to the effect it would work out.

Three years later I petitioned the same judge to get the court’s permission to move by children out-of-state as I was graduating from college and had a good job promised to me in another state. Now decades later I’m retired and live on a fixed income. I had the foresight to downsize my life-style and lead a comfortable life. I just always knew that all would be well, I intuitively trusted in God.

As for our churches, the three I associate with are evangelical and are more likely to spend money on the local food banks then on vestments. However, I've been exposed to the both the Lutheran and the Catholic Churches my mother has attended in the last three decades. The Lutheran Church always was raising funds for something to do with the church’s property.

The Catholic Church she now attends has a seating capacity of 1400 and often overflows this capacity during their several weekly services. Certainly they have plenty of money in the coffers, however, the head priest asked my mom's 85 year old friend to pick up older women and bring them to church in her car. And of course this would include handling wheelchairs. Now surely with their revenue the church could afford to have their own van. It just seems like so much money in today's churches goes to window dressing and royal regalia.

There are so many “Name it and claim it” prosperity type churches promoting books and seminars that, IMO, have little to do with the Word.

I think of how simple Jesus’ ministry was. Ali he needed was a sturdy pair of sandals and perhaps a spare robe. Surely the mega prosperity churches of today could learn from the humble ministry of Jesus, a ministry that has had such a tremendous effect on the world for nearly 2000 years.

Ezekiel prophesied using visual models or demonstrations as instructed. If God told you to act out what He has placed on your heart, what would it look like? 521-1 -3-3

Like Israel, this country has fallen far from being "The city on the Hill" lauded by President Ronald Reagan in his farewell address January 1989 to a sin filled nation. Even in the heady years of the Reagan Administration it seems that our fall was long in play. However, it seems that with each generation the slide into the point of no return is greater. In these end days we are even more to be "Watchmen on the wall;" to spread the Good News while there is still time.

watchman on the wall’s was tasked with prophesying the down-fall of Judah by play acting the events to his fellow captives. Israel was under God’s judgment and was to be patience and wait out the years of her captivity. Otherwise Jerusalem would be destroyed. His message was ignored and Jerusalem was destroyed.

I have long been driven to be a watchman on the wall and often share my belief that the signs of the last days are all around us. I feel like I should be standing on the street corner like that thought to be crazy man holding up a sign saying “Repent the end is near.” Sometimes I think I've worn out the patience of friends and families with my insistence that Jesus is coming and they should be prepared.

Often I feel like I'm negligent in witnessing, however, today something really timely and wonderful happened. I was shopping and start looking through a rack of T-shirts. I almost fell over when I saw a red shirt with a heart inscribed with “Jesus loves me.” I immediately added the shirt to my cart and then I found the perfect witnessing T-shirt. It is printed “Property of Jesus” with a sign of the fish and XXL. I was absolutely taken back and added it to my cart as well. Of course I had to mention to the checkout clerk what XXL meant and how it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was exactly who he said he was. As it turned out, the sales lady was also a believer. Hopefully when I wear my T-shirt I'll be asked what XXL stands for. That will open the door wide to witnessing.

What makes finding these T-shirts so unique is that I am in Quartzsite, AZ, a dusty little desert town that pretty much dries up by the end of March. During the winter Quartzsite is alive with hundreds of thousands of people who come in for the winter markets. However, this time of year the town is nearly closed down. There is very little selection to be found this time of year which made my finding these T-shirts all the more special. Who would have thought that what God had placed on my heart would be witnessing tools in the form of T-shirts.

What do you think it means to have a “famine of God’s Word?” Have you ever experienced this? What’s the difference between famine and dryness? 521-1 - 4- 4

Throughout history there was been a famine of the word of God. Going back thousands of years ago the word of God had to be copied by hand onto scrolls. An improvement was the use of codices. Now the reader didn't have to unroll and re-roll a lengthy scroll, rather he could flip through pages similar to a modern-day book. Until the invention the movable type press by Johannes Gutenberg and the publication the Gutenberg Bible the rarity of the Word was understandable. However, access to the Word was not due only to lack of technology but to the ambition and greed of Nicolaitanes. During the Dark Ages the laity was not allowed to read the Word, rather the priestly caste read the people the church’s interpretation of the Word combined with the dictates of the current Pope. Today owning a Bible in many countries can result in imprisonment and/or death.

I remember at the end of the millennium Johannes Gutenberg was voted Time magazine’s person of the millennium. Truly Johannes Gutenberg’s invention brought the Bible and books in general within the reach of more people.

With the Internet and all the electronic gizmos currently marketed dozens of versions of the Bible are readily available. As an example, I have several versions of the Bible on both of my computers, IPhone, NowBible MP3 player and Kindle Fire Tablet. I can both listen and read along with the Bible if I so choose. Or I can listen to the Bible while driving or in my sleep. No famine of God's Word here.

Sadly enough today it seems that there is a famine of God's word. It certainly is not due to the unavailability of the printed word, rather it is the rejection of God's word. The mention of intelligent design can destroy an academic career. Many ministries have strayed far from Biblical Truths and present a message as predicted by Paul in. 2 Timothy 4:3, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;”

With thanks to Wikipedia, “A famine is a widespread scarcity of food,[1] caused by several factors including crop failure, population unbalance, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality.” Dryness as a medical condition would be when there is a decrease in normal lubrication, often of the skin.

To me the difference between famine of God's Word and dryness would be when the Word is as readily available as it is today but the interest seems to be drying up. I've often use the example of the Gaither Singers versus many of today's concert idols. If one watches the Gaithers on TV the singers seem to have a glow about them. In contrast the more popular groups rely on pyrotechnics and often lewd on stage behavior with their less than pleasant music. No glow here, only a dryness. 

Added Later:

As a child I memorized scripture, however, today I rely more on being able to look them up. I remember during the KI course, The Spiritual Disciplines - Part 1, we were told to be "Making deposits" into a sort of scripture saving account. Electronic gizmo's or not I often find myself quoting scripture when talking to people.
If we were to experience a severe EMP I'm going to be in deep trouble. That said, I have hard copies of the Bible and I've spent enough years studying the Bible to remember a fair amount of scripture. However, I would sure miss having a wealth of scripture contained on a tiny flash drive.
I remember watching the special dealing with the POW in Vietnam and their sharing of remembered Scripture. After the start of te tribulation that will likely be the mode of Bible study available to those who come to faith at that time.