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 Few if any people in my first 20 years had the impact on me that Preach did.

Some time around my eighth or ninth grade of school Dick “Preach” Allison became the new pastor of our Southern Baptist church.  One of my first of many memories of this godly man was a youth retreat that Preach and our associate Pastor facilitated soon after he became our pastor.  Being the unhinged youth that many of us were by that time, there were some late night shenanigans, and while one or more of those in charge reacted a bit harshly, Preach remained calm and took our foolishness in stride.

Preach became a spiritual father and mentor to me by the grace of God.  Our relationship through my high school years and early college years had a lasting impact on my life and ministry. He had an open door policy with me, which meant (once I was turned 16 and began to drive) that I could show up unannounced, and most every time he invited me right into his office.

At some point in my late high school years or perhaps early college years Preach invited me to go with him to the YMCA once a week, where he would swim and I would play basketball, and then we would go out to lunch somewhere.  

I’ll never forget when he took me one evening on a pastoral visit to a family up on a mountain who had no electricity, and still heated their small home with a coal furnace. Preach took them food and shared the gospel with them.

I’ll never forget when he took me with him to the jail to visit the man who burned our church buildings down. Not sure I on my own would have visited such a man.

Preach loved children and young people. And at one point probably either before Steve Bolt joined the staff, or perhaps after he left, Preach led our high school youth through a study on “The Late Great Planet Earth” by Hal Lindsey. In the Jesus movement, that book seemingly held a status close to the Bible.  Preach did not criticize it. But said at the end he just couldn’t honestly see the Pre Trib rapture position in the scriptures, but he respected those who did.  Oh that all theological differences in the body of Christ were handled like that!

The Jesus movement swept through Knoxville in my late high school/early college days. We started having large meetings of mostly high school and college aged kids at “the Barn” in South Knoxville, and at our church on Sunday evenings.  People from a variety of congregations and some not a part of a congregation attended these meetings. And Preach fully embraced and blessed them. If he ever had a territorial bone in his body, I never observed it. And I’m sure that is why Para church leaders in Knoxville felt comfortable and safe around him.

Preach led a men’s prayer meeting on Friday mornings at 7:00 if I remember correctly.  Mostly men in their 50’s or older attended. But they allowed myself, and I Peter Stillman (both in high school) to attend as well. Those were precious times with precious men.

I happened to be in our high school office during my senior year when there was a discussion about a speaker for our high school commencement. I suggested my pastor – Dick Alison.  To my shock, they invited him. Not to my shock, he did an amazing job in that public school environment.

Dick had a handful of staff and a truck load of deacons to relate to and try to minister with. Some had obvious warts! He wasn’t blind to their weaknesses, but he always knew and practiced the truth that “mercy triumphs over judgment”.  

It may be that his mercy towards all of us is what impacted me more than all the rest of his wonderful qualities. For I was a young man who desperately needed God’s mercy.  Preach never failed to extend it to me, even at some of my lowest points.

My call to the ministry began and was nurtured in the presence of this merciful man. I’ve often wondered how it would have ever gotten off the ground without him.

Preach went to be with Jesus on Monday July 29th.  His love and affection for his wife (Jane) and son (Tim) was always obvious.  Thanks to you both for sharing him with those of us who had the privilege of walking with him for a time. 

May the Lord help all of us older members of the body of Christ have His heart for the children and youth around us – never doubting the eventual effect of the seeds we sow into their lives.

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 “But if they (the prophets) had stood in My council, They they would have announced My words to My people, And would have turned them back from their evil way  And from the evil of their deeds.”  Jeremiah 23:22

In the Old Testament days, for every prophet that was willing to speak the truth and lay their lives down for the people of God to become clean and set apart for His purposes, there were hundreds seemingly that refused to admit the evil in their own hearts and the evil among the people. They chose the easier path of speaking what the people wanted to hear, which ultimately was out of self love, not love for God or for His sheep.

Jeremiah made it clear in this passage above what true prophets were called to do. Basically they were called to bring about repentance among the people from their sin and the evil in their hearts.

John the Baptist and Jesus followed suit by primarily preaching this timeless message wherever they went: “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.”

So what about we ministers today?

Is evil a problem among those we minister to?   I recently meditated on this passage in Mark 7, where Jesus spoke to the roots of all the problems we deal with in the church and of course in the world, “….That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”  Mark 7:20-23

Jesus twice referred to the problem of evil lodged within the hearts of men in this short passage.

He referred to it many times elsewhere as can been seen by tracing the word “evil” through the four gospels.

Well if our job as ministers of the gospel is to help turn those we minister to “back from their evil way and from the evil of their deeds”, how do we proceed?

I would suggest first by admitting to the reality of evil in our own hearts. Paul was not sheepish about this when he confessed, “I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.” Romans 7:21  How wonderfully cleansing it would be to the body of Christ if its leaders were willing to admit this!

John Owen, one of the greatest theologians and godliest men ever to live in the church age, put it this way, “The man that understands the evil of his own heart, how vile it is, is the only useful, fruitful, and solid believing and obedient person. Others are fit only to delude themselves, to disquiet families, churches, and all relations….”  P. 29 in “The Nature, Power, Deceit and Prevalency of the Remainders of Indwelling Sin in Believers.”

Second, let’s make sure we are crystal clear that at the core of the depraved nature of man is the reality of evil. Note Romans 1:29, 30 in this regard.

Third, back to us ministers, let’s make sure on a daily basis we are not going so fast that we are ignoring little compromises in our character or minimizing the conviction of the Holy Spirit regarding inner motives and attitudes. This by the way will require that we are growing daily in an ongoing revelation of everything God says about evil in the scriptures. Our society has so watered down the reality of evil, and instead relegated it to only the worst among us (e.g. rapists, murderers, etc), that we have become desensitized to its prevalence.  How easy it is to compare ourselves to such people (obvious sinners), and then deduct that we are sitting pretty well!   The apostle Paul says we are to “…abhor what is evil; cling to what is good” (Rom. 12:9), which leads me to believe he is not so much speaking of what is evil “out there”, as he is what is evil “in here”. 

Fourth, let’s keep in mind that ranting and raving about evil is not the solution to the problem. Paul says instead we are not to “…be overcome by evil, but (to) overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21    We ministers are an interesting breed. For years we don’t see something (like evil). Then we begin to see it, and we immediately start spouting off about it, when we would be much better off getting more deeply in touch with its reality in our own hearts and then following what our Biblical writers tell us about how to deal with it, first in our own lives and then elsewhere. Going back to our original text, ““But if they (the prophets) had stood in My council, Then they would have announced My words to My people, And would have turned them back from their evil way  And from the evil of their deeds.”  Standing in Hiscouncil rather than the council of others (even well known leaders in the church), and announcingHiswords to the people is crucial since He alone knows how to set the captives free. BTW just citing scriptures without the clear leading and anointing of the Holy Spirit is not necessarily “announcing (His) words”.  Remember the Pharisees and Satan himself could recite scriptures.

Someday I hope to post an extensive study or Biblical theology of evil from Genesis to Revelation, which I made a good start on some time ago, but then had to leave it for other things. I encourage you to do the same if you really want to see it for what it is, and be used by God to see it overcome, not only in your own life, but in the life of every person you have influence over.

Finally I commend you to Him, “who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” Galatians 1:4

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John Owen, one of the greatest theologians and godliest men ever to grace our planet says this about the condition of humanity, “Many men live in the dark to themselves all their days; whatever else they know, they know not themselves.”

In recent years, the Lord has graciously opened my eyes to some of my blindspots. And He has taught me to look to Him in prayer continuously for such.

I don’t know how old David was when he prayed, “Examine me O Lord, and try me; Test my mind and my heart.” (Psa. 26:2).   Or when he prayed,  “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psa. 139:23,24). But I wish that I had started the practice of praying these kinds of prayers much earlier in life.  

Why are blindspots so prevalent in the body of Christ, even among those of us who have known Him and served Him for so many years?  

One conclusion we’ve come to is that in the American church culture (in general) personal examination is minimally practiced, and often is frowned upon. One of the reasons is because of a misinterpretation of some of Paul’s statements.

Paul’s writings have great influence over the body of Christ, so let’s see what Paul meant or purposed when he used the word “examine”.  As we jump into this, it is important to note that while the New American Standard Concordance informs us that there are six occurrences of the word “examine” and two occurrences of the word “examines” in Paul’s letters, if you look closely you will discover they do not all come from the same Greek word. 

Two of them are translated from the Greek word Anakrino. The others from the Greek word Dokimazo.  Anakrino has the basic meaning of “to sit in judgment of another” and is in its essence a legal term.

Anakrino – is used in the following two passages: 

I Corinthians 4:3,4, “But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not evenexamine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.” 

I Corinthians 9:3 “My defense to those who examine me is this:”

What Paul means is that none of us should assess ourselves based on man’s opinions or judgments. Many of the believers in Corinth were so immature and fleshly that they prided themselves on who they followed, and spoke critically of other leaders in the church, whom they chose not to follow. Paul was aware of what people were saying about him, and he did not allow those critical comments to have any effect on his sense of identity. Rather as he said in vs. 4 we should listen very closely to the Lord’s judgments of our lives. 

It is impossible to be involved with the King and His kingdom and not be engaged with people. And it is impossible to not be “anakrino’d” here and there by some of those people, especially if involved in leadership or service. Here then, is an opportunity to filter those voices by listening closely to the Holy Spirit as to our identity and fruitfulness. 

Are we encouraged in the New Testament to examine ourselves? And if so, where and how? The answer lies in the passages wherein dokimazo is used for the word examine.  Dokimazo means “to test, to approve, to prove” often with the expectation of approval. Its common usage was in dealing with metals.  It has more the sense of God revealing something to His kids that as they agree with His assessment and repent of whatever sin is involved, will make them more free, happy and pleasing to the Father. It’s usage does not have the idea of examining to condemn, but rather to cleanse and free.

I Cor. 11:27-32“Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.”

Partaking of communion or the Lord’s supper is of far greater significance than most of us realize.  He has commanded and is highly invested in this practice, and thus our posture in this practice is critical. He invites us to come as often as we will, but not glibly or casually. Rather we are to sit in His presence and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to whatever concerns Him about our life, attitudes, motives, etc.  Sadly often when the Lord’s supper is administered, this kind of examination of our hearts by the Lord is not encouraged or facilitated or modeled by our leaders.

Here’s the next two occurrences of dokimazo translated examine:

II Corinthians 13:5  “ Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves. Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you – unless you fail the test?”

Galatians 6:4  “But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.”

To Dokimazo ourselves, emphasizesthe need to look to the Holy Spirit for help in seeing what we need to see about ourselves and then repenting of whatever He reveals to us. 

God who sees, hears and knows all, and who sent His Son to set us free from all sin, is regularly examining the state of our heart, and regularly seeking to reveal to us what He sees. Paul was very aware of this as can be seen in passages such as I Thessalonians 2:4, “but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines (Dokimazo) our hearts.” 

Hopefully now we see the call to self examination in response to the Lord’s illumination as righteous and biblical and necessary. 

Your prayers are always appreciated that Anne and I will regularly give ourselves to listening to and responding to the Lord’s examination of our hearts.  

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“Many men live in the dark to themselves all their days; whatever else they know, they know not themselves.”  John Owen – great Puritan theologian and non conformist and one of the greatest Protestant theologians of all time.

“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”  Matthew 7:3

This penetrating question of our Savior comes towards the end of what was probably at least a 45 minute sermon, (normally referred to as “The Sermon on the Mount”), given to a crowd of disciples, who presumably wanted to follow Jesus.  If you are reading this blog, I’m presuming you also want to follow Jesus. 

Since you want to follow Jesus, I hope you will not be offended when I say you are more than likely walking in some degree of spiritual blindness. This is especially true if you are a member of the church in America.  The way to know for sure is by answering some questions like these: 

  • Whose sins or problems or weaknesses do you give more attention to in a given day or week – yours or someone else’s?  
  • When you left the last worship gathering/service of fellow believers, and began your trek home, whose sins or need to change was most in your mind and perhaps reflected in your words – yours or someone else’s?   
  • When you read or listen to the news these days, do you walk away in any way aware of your own sins, or do you get caught up in the greatest American pastime –  focusing on our government leaders’ sins?   

Most Americans even most American Christians in most conversations talk about anything but their own sins.

We leaders of the church have created a church culture that basically says if you as a Christian and member of our churches are busy with church attendance and church activities, be they Bible studies or benevolence ministries or children’s or youth ministries or whatever, then you are a good Christian. And the busier you are in these things, the gooder you are!

Often in the church culture, the very things (programs and activities) that have been designed to help people become godly and holy Christians end up keeping them from it because their participation in them give them/us a false sense of accomplishment and standing with the Lord, and keep us so busy we have no time to listen to the Holy Spirit regarding sin areas in our lives He wants to clean up.

The Laodicean church was well off financially (and presumably had many other “good church” things in place)– which led them to believe that they must have been pleasing to God – yet Jesus said – “Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, …” Revelation 3:17  

Jesus was speaking to the church in Laodicea whom He has just rebuked for being lukewarm in vs. 15,16.  Central to lukewarmness is that of being oblivious to one’s real spiritual need.  We in the West especially are easily fooled into thinking we are doing ok spiritually because we are doing ok materially/financially, and there is no apparent crisis going on in our lives or relationships, and we are busy serving the Lord in one way or another. Please note the stark difference in the way these believers thought of themselves in vs. 17 and how Jesus assessed them.  

One of the major lessons from Jesus’s letters to those seven churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 is there are things the church in all its busyness is blind to.  We may be seeing some things correctly. We may be doing some things that please Him. But there are often issues of the heart, attitudes or thought patterns that He is not pleased with, and that we need to repent of. And unless we learn to hear His voice re: these things and unless we come to a place in our walk with Him where we long to see these things, we will continue in spiritual blindness to one degree or another.

So what are some steps towards overcoming spiritual blindness?

Well here are a few things that have helped me (Randy) over the last year and a half wherein God has opened my eyes to much spiritual blindness and lukewarmness.

First, ask God to open your eyes on a daily basis for the rest of your life!  You might try praying some of the pertinent biblical prayers like:

“How many are my iniquities and sins? Make known to me my rebellion and my sin.” Job 13:23    (Now Job might have prayed this with a bit of an edge or with some cynicism or challenging God. But he prayed it and God did eventually answer it.)

“Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I will be blameless, And I shall be acquitted of great transgressions.” Psalm 19:12,13   (Implied answer to this opening question – No One! Thus he turns to God to open his eyes and make him aware of what he himself was blind to.)

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” Psalm 139:23,24    (Clearly what David is after here is for God to reveal to him anything in his life that was harmful or displeasing to God that he was blind to).

“I know, O Lord, that a man’s way is not in himself, Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps. Correct me O Lord, but with justice; Not with Your anger, or You will bring me to nothing.” Jeremiah 10:23,24   (Jeremiah was very aware of his limitations and blind spots. And He knew God would be faithful to point them out if he cried out to Him to do so).

What was Jesus’s prescription after informing the church in Laodicea of how blind to their own desperate need they were? “I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed, and eye salve to anoint your eyes to that you may see.”  Revelation 3:18   Only by coming to Him repeatedly for the cleansing and illumination and revelation and discernment we need, can we escape this scourge of spiritual blindness.

Second, if you are a husband, give much more attention to living with your wife in an understanding way and honoring her so that your prayers will not be hindered. (see I Peter 3:7).  If prayer is key to overcoming spiritual blindness, we want our prayers to count! And often for husbands our prayers don’t count because of the way we are treating our wives. I was blind to this for years for many reasons. But one reason is because I was always around people whose marriages were seemingly worse than mine.  So it was easy to justify my lack of really pursuing and cherishing and honoring my wife by contrasting my marriage with theirs.

Third, ask God for the courage and obedience to confess your sins to other brothers or sisters. I John 1:5-10 is a crucial passage for the church to grapple with if we are ever going to get some traction in pursuing and attaining holiness and purity. 

“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.                                                                                       If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;                                                                                                          but if we walk in the Light as he Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.                                  If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.   If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.                                                                                       If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.”

Fellowship with God and with one another is dependent upon our ability to quit living secret lives, and to quit pretending like we do not struggle with sin, and to thus (when appropriate and not with just anyone) bring our darkness into the light and allow the blood of Jesus to bring not only forgiveness, but much needed cleansing. (See also James 5:14-16 regarding the role confession of our sins plays in our pursuit of healing).  

Well may the Holy Spirit give you very practical and tangible help with this journey into the light and freedom of the kingdom of God. Prayers for ourspiritual purity and holiness are always appreciated.

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Jesus Christ is celebrated for a variety of reasons this time of the year. One of the primary reasons should be because He is Light. John says of Him in his gospel, “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:4,5)

Our hope and sense in these days is that the church in the West will increasingly know and love and worship Him for being the Light. This will happen as we His people welcome and seek His light to break through and expose our spiritual blindness. 

Spiritual blindness is a bigger problem in the church than most realize. Our objective in this blog is to speak to that reality from the Proverbs. 

King Solomon spoke to this reality often in the latter half of The Proverbs. For instance, he states in chapter 16:

1.  “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the Lord weighs the motives.”  Proverbs 16:2

Because we all tend to compare ourselves with others, and because usually there is at least one person in our acquaintance who is seemingly far less moral or righteous than we are, we have learned to justify ourselves. After all “I have never done that”; “I’ve never gone to that place”, “I’ve never watched that movie”, “I’ve never been addicted to that”, etc.

2.  “Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, but who can find a trustworthyman?” Proverbs 20:6

What we claim about ourselves, and what is true about us is often two different things. We often feel about ourselves what we would want people to think about us. But “trustworthiness” according to King Solomon is rare indeed. Crucial to a man or woman being truly trustworthy is that they are the same person in private (when no one is watching) that they are in public.

3. “Who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin’? Differing weights and differing measures, Both of them are abominable to the Lord.” Proverbs 20:9,10

Most of us in so many words speak of ourselves to others as being clean and pure. But often the measuring stick for our cleanness and purity is contrasting ourselves with others or with obvious and known wickedness in our society. One of the things we learn early on in life is how to find someone, who contrasted to us, makes us look good. Men and women do this all the time. But God hates this measuring stick. The best of humanity is still a rotten standard in His eyes. 

4. “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the hearts.”  Proverbs 21:2

Again our tendency is to justify ourselves (almost always by contrasting ourselves with someone we deem obviously worse in word and deed).  But while we might not do the things they do or say the things they say, God looks at our hearts, our motives, our inner attitudes, and our inner conversations.  His weighing standard is of course Himself!

5. “There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes, Yet is not washed from his filthiness.” Proverbs 30:12

It is normal for people on this planet to literally consider ourselves as “pure” when in fact we are filthy internally.  Our personal assessment about ourselves can rarely be trusted unless it is based on the righteous standard of the holiness of God.

Thankfully Jesus is Light! He is going to open our eyes and remove our blindness. He came to wash us thoroughly and completely from all of our sins, and the corruption our sins have produced.  May we all learn to cling to Him for His much needed Light, and His precious blood that washes us white as snow.

“who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” Titus 2:14

“how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrews 9:14

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I started out my Fathering blog with this quote from “Transformation of the Inner Man” – “ If the father has truly lived the Way in Christ; it is easy for a son to do the same; if the father has not, our Lord will first have to overcome and bring to death in the son what the father was.” This is a necessary work of Christ to release the negative effects that our fathers had on us. One of the things Anne and I were contending for in that blog was that in our quest for holiness and cleansing and sanctification, the Holy Spirit will at times have us revisit the way we were fathered, and especially the negative effects from the way we were fathered. Continue reading Fathering Blog Follow Up

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“If the father has truly lived the Way in Christ; it is easy for a son to do the same; if the father has not, our Lord will first have to overcome and bring to death in the son what the father was.” John & Paula Sanford, p.99, “Restoring the Christian Family”

God has always been about producing a people among whom He could dwell, and through whom His will and ways and person could be manifested. His intentions began to be revealed in a known and clear way first to Abraham, as seen initially in Genesis chapter 12.

While there were a handful of things that God promised to do for and through Abraham, it all started with making him into “a great nation” (vs. 2). This idea of a nation in God’s mind was not a political entity as much as it was a relational entity. A relational entity or a people through whom “all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (vs. 3). Continue reading Restoring The Truth About Fathering

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In my first study on cleansing posted on March 10th, I sought to establish a couple of important truths. First that our wonderful Savior performed an initial cleansing and washing in each of us when we were born again by the Spirit of God. For instance, in Acts 15:9, Peter testifies of Christ’s saving and cleansing work among the Gentiles, “and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.” Second, that He continues to cleanse and purify His church until we are forever with Him.

Then in my second study posted on April 8th, I sought to establish that we have an active role to play in the ongoing cleansing work of Christ. In 2 Corinthians 7:1, Paul exhorts, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Continue reading Getting Cleansed Part I

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At first glance, “Dying to Know” might convey that there is some new or cutting edge field of knowledge that I am pursuing to enable me to be more effective. But in fact the opposite is true.

God by His grace in recent months has opened my eyes and helped me come to terms with the fact that my sense of the “need to know” has become an entanglement that has actually prevented me from effectively fulfilling my calling and ministry. Continue reading Dying to Know

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“I must take care above all that I cultivate communion with Christ, for though that can never be the basis of my peace – mark that – yet it will be the channel of it.” Charles H. Spurgeon

In my last blog post I shared about some of the lessons I was learning about the call to oneness with my wife. One of the major ways grace has been coming to us in this season in our marriage is by increasing our oneness and intimacy with Christ, and that, through the use of a variety of devotionals. (Devotionals are books or daily emails that were written for the express purpose of helping us go deeper in our walk with God). That’s what I want to share about in this post.

As the Holy Spirit has been unraveling some of the subtle sin patterns that have enabled me to be so busy in the kingdom, and yet lose my passion for the King (and my passion for personal godliness and holiness), I have discovered anew the great value of devotionals in stimulating my passionate pursuit of the King of kings and Lover of all lovers. Continue reading A Rediscovery of Devotionals!

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So I’ve discovered again of late how “oneness challenged” I am in the flesh…..Jesus once in the context of a discussion about divorce reminded His hearers of what God’s original intention was regarding marriage. Quoting Moses in Gen. 2:24, Jesus “answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
One flesh speaks of sexual, emotional, spiritual, mental and relational oneness. Two very diverse people of opposite genders laying down their rights, their self focus, their independence, and pursuing together oneness, harmony and unity in every area of life. Continue reading Oneness Challenged

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June 10, 2017

“I cannot imagine a greater motivation to pray than that God enjoys having me in His presence. He enjoys my company.” R.T. Kendall

The first time I ever remember hearing about the value or the practice of a daily quiet time with God was probably in my first or second year of high school. To play with one or more of the four sons of this godly couple down the street from me, I had to often interact with their mother. One day she gave me a booklet published by Intervarsity Christian Fellowship called “The Quiet Time”, and asked me to read it. Miraculously I did read it and then gave it back to her. She asked me what I thought. I replied it was great. She then said, well then now you need to practice it. For the next four years I rarely did. I had one foot still largely in the world at that time in my life, and the discipline of starting my day with God (or even ending it with Him) just never kicked in. Continue reading My Journey with Daily Quiet Times

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June 8, 2017

“By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

One of the skills I developed early in life is that of judging others. Whether it was a friend or relative or neighbor or fellow student or teacher or coach or leader in our church or a leader in government, if they had a fault, I was sure to find it. I could even identify their motives and the state of their hearts – hidden as that was to the naked eye! And I especially specialized in making sure someone around me knew of my latest insights into someone else’s character (or lack of).
Sadly that skill (or vice actually) is at an all time fever pitch in our culture today. Our cable networks even pay people to do it daily as a profession. Few seem able or willing to grasp the seriousness of the poison they are spewing, much less the seriousness of the judgment they are bringing upon themselves as a result of their own unrighteous judgment. Continue reading Fleeing from Unrighteous Judgment

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This morning after my time with the Lord, I checked my emails, the weather, and a smattering of news headlines from a few sources including charismanews.com. Therein was an article entitled, “16 Million Reasons People Are Leaving California by the Millions.” I suppose much of what Mr. Snyder wrote was true or possible (e.g. massive earthquake and tsunami coming some day), but I question the wisdom or purpose of such an article. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the potential additional sales of his latest book referred to in the article.

But my purpose of this blog post is not to criticize his article. It is rather to celebrate the Romans 11:4 reality that the living God has “…Kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” The context of that amazing revelation is God’s response to the prophet Elijah, who had lost all hope and faith in God’s ability to finish and preserve what He started with His chosen people Israel. Against all odds and so many attempts by evil governments and armies to wipe Israel out, they continue to thrive today physically; and their spiritual revival is soon to follow.

And the same can be said about the body of Christ in California. Yes our State is self destructing in many ways, and the worst may still come, but God in His amazing grace and power has called many thousands of His sons and daughters to dig our heels in and unite together to see “His glorious kingdom come and His will done” here in all its fullness before Jesus returns.

Last night Anne and I gathered with 33 others of our fellowship (most under age 35) (see pic above) at my son’s house for a night of worship and prayer. Every time when we thought their living room, dining room and kitchen were maxed out with people, someone else would walk in the door.

Extravagant praise filled the house with children wandering to and fro. Testimonies of God moving and working were shared at points; sometimes demonstrations of Him moving and working were evident in our midst. I know these kinds of gatherings are happening all over the world and are on the increase.

So to all of those who live in the cities of America or Israel or Nepal or Sumatra who know and walk with God, and who have discerned and submitted to His calling to dig your heels in and focus on what He is doing and saying in your city or State, rather than focusing on all the doomsday prophets – – I have one thing to say – “You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.” And I am very proud and thankful to be counted among you today.

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At some point this last week I felt led to go find in my office my copy of “Revival Fire” by Wesley Duewel sensing my own need for “revival fire” to be stirred up in my spirit. God has done some amazing things in this country that at a number of times in its history seemed bent on self destruction. Wesley does a great job of chronicling many of these revivals and awakenings as well as the significant ones in other nations. I struggled over which account to record for you. What struck me about the one I chose is first it was mostly layman led and inspired; and second Wesley speaks twice of an “unusual spirit of prayer” as he lays out his account of what some call “The Layman’s Prayer Revival”. Might this be the year when this “unusual spirit of prayer” is rediscovered in America? I hope you are stirred as I was by what God did in such a short time through ordinary men and women. May He do it again in our day. Continue reading An Unusual Spirit of Prayer

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January 26, 2017

When I was a child, we could be pretty self righteously brutal to our friends whom we caught lying. I’m not clear on whether I first heard the saying, “Liar, liar pants on fire” from one of them, or if I first heard it among my children and their friends when one of them was caught lying. Either way this many years later that little saying was was more on target than we realized.

There is an epidemic of lying going on in our national conversation, most obvious among those we have to listen to the most (e.g. media personalities, government officials, and ex government officials), but it certainly is not limited to them. Continue reading “Liar, Liar Pants on Fire”

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Dear Squire & anyone else that wants to listen in,

Thanks for your thoughtful response to my facebook post today. As you have probably discovered by now, I rarely allow myself to get into debates or elongated conversations on facebook.

But in your case, since I so appreciate your zeal for knowledge and your sincere interest in politics and the welfare of our nation, I’m going to make an exception, but in the form of a blog post if you don’t mind.

As to President Obama’s farewell speech on Tuesday, it has been duly noted by another that he mentioned the word “republic” once, and the word “democracy” and its variants no less than 25 times. This pattern is pretty much in keeping with his tenure as our President over these last 8 years and in my view is not accidental. Continue reading Republic or Democracy are We?

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While there have been at least a couple of times in CA history where great moves of God here powerfully affected our nation and the nations (i.e. Azusa Street revival 1906-1915 & Jesus Movement in the 70’s), most of the time in between our influence for godlessness and lawlessness has been more noteable or more visible, and thus a source of great dismay to many on the outside looking in, and to some of us on the inside.

I want to say this morning that things are not always as they seem. Much more is going on for the kingdom of Christ in this State than is readily evident. And I have every reason to believe it is going to continue and increase. For instance: Continue reading Seeing the Unseen in CA

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Because truth has such a transforming effect on the lives of Jesus followers, Satan is always trying to pervert or corrupt it. A great or sad example of that is how he has sought to pervert and twist the wonderful truths regarding the blood of Jesus. There is a whole genre now of movies and T.V. shows that are obsessed with blood,… anyone’s but Jesus’s that is.

I guess that is your right if you work in Hollywood. But to be a disciple of Jesus, you must learn to relish and cherish the blood of Jesus. Jesus made this starkly clear in John 6:53, where He is quoted as saying, “….Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.” Continue reading The Blood of Jesus

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January 2016 marked a new slice of life and ministry for me. For the first time in my 22 years in ministry here in Los Osos at that time, I started teaching our World Changers class once a month. My amazing wife has poured out her life for our children’s ministry for all these years. But I stayed next door with the youth and adults all these Sunday mornings. I tell you this to say – I’m not sure what these elementary aged children have learned from me over these last ten months, but I have learned a lot. And one of the most significant lessons I’ve ever learned about God came through preparing a lesson for these kids back in late May I believe.

Allow me to provide some background. Anne and I began our first ever Sabbatical (3 month period of refreshment and renewal and withdrawl from all ministry) June 1st 2015. We put together a five and a half week road trip that began with a beeline towards Redding, CA to hang out with the world renown Bethel Church for that weekend. We attended everything we could Friday evening, Saturday morning and afternoon, and Sunday morning. And repeatedly I heard from various staff the annoying phrase, “God is in a good mood.” Overall our time there was very refreshing and helpful, but that repeated phrase bugged me. Continue reading Knowing God as a Happy God

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INTRODUCTION – I have two amazing brothers. My older brother Danny loves nature and wildlife – especially birds and deer, which he is constantly taking pictures of. My younger brother Billy loves nature and wilfdlife, especially deer and turkey and fish, which he regularly hunts with bows and guns and fishing rods.

While both of them see the value of nature and wildlife, thankfully both of them see that the value of humans is far greater as evidenced by their care and concern for many people in their spheres of influence. Continue reading The Value of Man vs. Animals

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October 10, 2016

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation for those who believe….” Romans 1:16

Last night after watching the first 30 minutes of the Presidential debate, I left the TV room where my Dad was stationed, and headed for my bedroom to read and pray before I went to bed. 30 minutes was enough to greatly sober me, but not depress me. For I had experienced something yesterday morning that renewed my hope in the one thing that can and will make a difference in our very broken (as in screwed up “broken”) nation.

Several months ago my daughter asked if I would accompany her and Emmeline (her one year old daughter) to Knoxville for a short trip so my parents and clan could meet her. Her husband couldn’t get off work, and navigating 3 flights (both ways) with a one year old alone was not a pleasant thought to her. So we arrived around 11:45 Saturday night. And by 10:00 Sunday morning my mother and I were sitting in the church sanctuary of the Good Samaritan Church of Hope (not to be confused with the Good Samaritan Episcopal church in Knoxville).
Continue reading Hope Renewed!

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December 14, 2013
Lots of talk, debate, confusion and general angst these days about healthcare in general and Obamacare in particular. This post has been rattling about in my small brain for some time now as I continue to follow the public conversation, and deal with my own health related issues, and those of others I minister to here on the Central Coast of CA.

Anne and I are not facing any significant health issues personally of late. But we were one of those couples that received a letter some months ago from Anthem Blue Cross, whom we have had our medical insurance through for almost 20 years, stating that our monthly payment would be going from $403.00 a month to over $1,200.00 a month in January 2014 – if we choose to stay with Anthem Blue Cross and go with the policy or plan they are suggesting for us – in light of the “Affordable” Care Act kicking in. Continue reading Knowing God as our Healer

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August 24, 2016
“I’m outraged!”

Actually I’m not, but I used to receive emails and snail mails that began that way about the latest evil or unjust or unconstitutional thing one or more of our government officials just did. And the implication and hope was that I would also be outraged, and take their recommended action.

Now I’m not making light of some of the awful things some of our government officials have done. But the last thing in the world I need is someone encouraging me or giving me license to be outraged. Continue reading Owning up to and Overcoming Anger

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Several Thursday afternoons ago I joined with some other folk from around the Central Coast to pray for an hour in front of Planned Parenthood in San Luis Obispo for an end to the tragic practice of abortion, and all of the wrong thinking and attitudes that lead to an abortion, and especially the evil, heartless greed of the abortion industry. I hadn’t been there five minutes, and an employee of P.P. walked out rather hurriedly and uttered these words at us as he kept walking across the street, “Why don’t you people get a life. C’mon this is America! Quit hassling people.”

The utter irony of such a comment from an employee of Planned Parenthood – our nation’s greatest abortion mill by far – didn’t go undetected. “Life” of course is why Catholic and Protestant men, women, young people and children have been signing up in droves to participate in the “40 Days for Life” campaign – held in 306 different places around the world this fall in all kinds of weather and in all kinds of neighborhoods – enduring sometimes far worse persecution and hostility than this. Continue reading “Getting a life” in America Today – Oct. 14, 2013

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