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Precept On Precept

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Oh, the times we live in. Seems that we’ve tried everything; things others have suggested and some things we have come up with ourselves to try and make this Gospel work for us; work just like we want it to. We’ve tried saying everything, praying everything and sometimes believing anything, in order to see the proof of God in our lives. It will come as no surprise to those that have talked to me that I regard Paul’s writings (post-Jesus) as the most ‘necessary’ resource for finding the things that the Spirit of God wants to reveal to His Church. When people ask me where to start reading the Bible I usually suggest starting with Paul’s letter to the Colossians. It’s very important because this book is written in past tense and your high school English teacher has already taught you what past tense means. From there I suggest the letters to the Galatians, Ephesians and Romans. Those are foundational to our faith, and having a proper foundation is so important when building the whole house of God. I know it’s a bit goofy, but I think all the other writings of Scripture must be held up to Paul’s writings in order to understand their meaning, subjecting them to the light of the New Testament and the teaching of Jesus and Paul for clarification. This apostle was chosen uniquely by God to share His heart and His words.

In the Old Testament I suggest the Prophet Isaiah. I’m aware these are just personal preferences; however, other than David’s revelation of God’s Love and Mercy in the Psalms, I find Isaiah an O.T. book full of New Testament revelation. Written some 700 years before the birth of Jesus, Isaiah is largely about our Savior and the Church today. In it is, in my thinking, some of the foundational teachings about the Christian life that we must learn, especially today.

Almost all remember Isaiah’s prophecy of the virgin birth. They are aware of Isaiah’s teaching of the rejection of Messiah, of Jesus’ silent trial, suffering and sacrifice. This prophet gave us the list of characteristics of Christ expression: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Father and Prince of Peace. He revealed that God would appoint Jesus as a covenant to the people and a light unto the nations. It’s Isaiah who confirms that this anointed One would take away our sins.

Isaiah identifies that there would be a time future when believers could trust and live out of their hearts. In fact, Isaiah tells us that we must live out of our hearts to serve God. Isaiah spoke of an order to the ministry of God (Chapter 28), simplified: that the Christian life would be put together ‘line upon line, precept upon precept’. It’s putting one foot in front of the other and just keeping on doing those things that are declared as Gospel action time after time. If we follow the wisdom and knowledge of God we will see the fruit of ‘following Him’. When we oppose the order of God, His wisdom, we will stumble backward; we will be broken, snared and taken captive (vs. 13). In verses 13 and 14, the Hebrew word translated ‘marvelous’ implies singleness. When we are dealt with ‘in a marvelous way’ (when we are without the wisdom of God, separating ourselves from it), the results are described in verse 14, ‘the wisdom of their wise men shall perish and the discernment of the discerning men shall be concealed.’ That sounds a lot like the mess we find ourselves in right now. It’s not the Father holding out on us, it’s the result of not following the progressive order of His Word and the wisdom found within it.

Isaiah’s remedy for New Testament living is found in Chapter 58:5. There, he contrasts an old and the new fasting. He obligates New Testament believers to fast, teaching of a fast from themselves rather than foods. It’s a fast away from our own interest, our own preservation. When we concern ourselves with ministry that loosens what binds, undoing the bands of the yoked and letting the oppressed go free, then we will see what is promised in verse 8: ‘your light will break out like the dawn, and your recovery will speedily spring forth…then you will call upon the Lord and He will answer you, you will cry and He will say ‘Here am I.’

That’s what I hear the most from people when they describe where they would like to be in their Christian walk. Verse 9 encourages us to stop pointing the finger of accusation and condemnation. If we will do that, then our light will rise in the darkness and our gloom will become as midday. Not following the wisdom of Isaiah’s teaching leaves us without expectation of God’s revealings. There is a great promise found in Isaiah 60, it’s a promise about the angel of His presence, ‘Arise, shine for your light has come, and the Glory of the Lord has come upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness on the people; but the Lord will rise upon you and His Glory will appear upon you…and your heart will thrill and rejoice.’ How? When we are in ‘order on order’, building our faith ‘line upon line’, without that consistency we perish. This Christian faith is a lifestyle; it’s not a try this now and try something else later. Paul said he had become the same in all things. There was no changing in Paul. He did the same no matter what. We could use a little more of that in our lives, not judging the Gospel day to day but having determined in our minds about it from now until our eternity begins.

When we turn from God’s consistency for implementing the Power of God, we become single and we are without the Power of God to perform the glorious in our hearts. Notice I said hearts. That’s the joy of this Gospel; nothing external is as rewarding as what can be experienced in our hearts. All the splendor of Solomon cannot compare to the rejoicing to be found in our hearts. Jesus boiled it down to the simple: it’s in giving that we receive. That’s a first thing. Seek first the Kingdom of God and all things will be added unto you, that is the order of God. You have to ‘bake’ it for awhile in the oven of God’s time. Keep putting in, even when you don’t see immediate results. I have a long story about this radio ministry along these lines that’s much too long to share here, but I can tell you that we constantly are looking for ways to serve the Gospel and its people, not looking for immediate confirmation, but just doing the same thing over and over, putting things in the oven to develop over time. We do not keep looking in to see how it’s going; we just trust it will go well in the long run.

Many times the secret of God is just getting into the order of God. ‘Prepare the way of the Lord’ yields an avenue for God to travel your heart. Don’t give up too soon. To do this Gospel any other way will drive us crazy. Trying to accomplish that lifestyle in our own effort and ability will leave us frustrated. Only the Spirit of God, living in and through us, has the capacity to produce the life we all hope for.

Let me add one thing that might be controversial, but true from my experience just the same. It is what I believe has made our journey terrific, although the road has been long. We do not serve people, we serve the Gospel. Our attention is on it. Our actions are for the Gospel’s sake. People are just the beneficiaries of our serving the Word. Trying to serve people just for people’s sake, while virtuous and good, can be frustrating and does not produce the long lasting joy of having served the Gospel. This Christian life is about Him and Him alone. People will benefit from the fruit of our serving the Gospel. We will benefit from the Joy of the Gospel from having served Him.


Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Now, we live in some pretty, if not tenuous, then at least confusing times. I had a conversation the other day with a friend about a “seemingly” impossible situation. It was the kind of information that just rips your heart out. When that happens, you naturally want to respond ‘Why?’ Good family, doing their best, serving God. I found myself doing a lot of “shuffling about” trying to make excuses, defending a God ‘who would allow such a thing’ to happen. Several days later, I still can’t think of any response other than that we must truly learn to Trust. Trust when it doesn’t make sense. Trust when we have little patience to do so. I think we’ve learned in the middle of this culture and world that we can’t control everything and have everything go just as we wish. We need to Trust, because in the order of God’s creation, the Spiritual has to dominate the natural. Trust must come first no matter what the natural world brings to our doorstep. Down Here said as much in their song ‘Calmer of the Storm’,

“You rebuke the wind and the waves; once again I find that I am amazed in the power of Your will. Because I’m a child of little faith, I feel the wind and forget Your grace and You say ‘Peace be still.’ And oh, when the torment blows, in the middle of the sea, may I never trust in me…You are the calmer of the storm.”

Believers’ confidence in Christ comes from an inner witness that, while we may be aware of the emotional response we have, we do not subject ourselves to the natural. While aware and being able to observe the natural, we can still learn to Trust in the wisdom of God and the eternal purpose of His Mercy and Grace. Paul taught we are the Temple of God, and as such, the very nature and light of God inhabits believers’ hearts. Even when presented with those “impossible” situations, even when we don’t see it in others and we doubt it in us, we still must humble ourselves to the Word that declares it to be True. There is nothing “super natural” about it– for Christians that knowledge should be the most natural way to live. The Bible is not a book of formulas and mysteries that are designed to be solved by the intellect. The Word is a Spiritual book that is designed to produce a lifestyle that generates “sufficiency” by the very nature of living it out. One thing I’m convinced of, the Father never expected us to live the Christian life without placing the ability in our hearts to do so.

Paul taught that we are His house. (Heb. 3:6, Eph. 3:17) It’s a portion of His Grace. He’s there not because we deserve it, but because of the blood of Jesus. That residency, that strong God is the one Wes King sang of in his song ‘Inside Of Me’,

“You call the leaves in springtime, You speak to the kings of men.
And, You breathe life, life into a baby, yet You make Your home inside of me.
Of all the places You could be, You chose to make Your home inside of me.”

You know the most powerful thing about an answer: it’s the question. Ask the wrong question, get the wrong answer. Asking amiss, well we know from Scripture: we have not! Many times Jesus did not give the answer sought by the questioner but told truths, leaving the question hanging in midair. It seems to me that, while we can ask, and while there is no condemnation in asking it, “Why?” may be one of those questions that will never get an answer. It’s the type of question I would call “an illegal question”. It’s part of the mystery of this whole Creation. Too big really for our minds, only the mind of Christ knows all the whys. However, because we know God and Trust God, we do not need to be asking it of God. My earthly father and I had a great relationship. Because I “knew” him intimately I never had to ask, “Why?” Just knowing him answered that question! It was enough to have the father/son relationship to understand that my father’s love for me settled any why questions for me. Knowing our Heavenly Father has the same results. Even when we don’t understand, when things are not going the way we expected, (just check the news, the television, just sum up the failed solutions that we have been told are solutions) we know His character, His purpose, and we can Trust and not question. One thing I’ve decided about my life is I may be unpredictable, inconsistent, but God is a Rock. He’s the same every day. He does not change. And, I’ve learned from knowing Him, He is for us and not against us. Issue settled! Doubt gone! While I might miss the mark, He never does. I can Trust Him because I have found Him trust-worthy, even in the most “impossible situations”. Do all things go my way? No! But I’ve grown accustomed to having a confidence in Him and assuming an inability to understand everything in me. We will never completely understand. However, we can Trust because we know of the Father’s love for us. The Bible says God tempts no one! Say of the Lord that He is good! Ours is to praise in season and out, in little and much, Praise Him though the stall is empty and the fields barren.

There’s a difference between Mercy and Grace. Grace causes us to prosper even when we don’t deserve it. Grace gives you what you don’t deserve. God did that for us and in doing so made a way for us to be blessed by His unmerited favor, without our understanding! Grace is a bridge between God and you. And, most importantly, we are assured that His Grace is sufficient!

This is my prayer for me (and maybe one for you):

“Father, what we know to do, we will; what we do not know, we Hope in You. We have not been created to solve mysteries after mysteries, ours is to learn to trust and believe. Where we do not understand, fill in the gaps in our understanding. Because I know your “amazing grace” I’ve solved the one great mystery. That God would choose to love something like us is mystery enough, why is not really necessary in your equation. Because I know You, I can trust You. When I don’t understand everything, I still can trust every time. We’ve been called to Praise You in all things; we have not been called to understand You in all things. Father, we will not yield to the temptation to “wait” for understanding before expecting You in our life. Instead, we will wait in confidence and peace, knowing who You are. Now we will stand, not being moved away from Your love, being rooted and grounded in it instead. We trust that you reward those that seek after You, not necessarily because we ‘get’ everything about You, but in the seeking. While the world and the spirit of Antichrist is in the earth and ‘barks’ at us continuously, we are not fearful because we trust in You. Father we trust that we are on a Spiritual journey filled with Hope and Faith, not an intellectual pursuit of information about You.”

I remember a story attributed to Evangelist Smith Wigglesworth. In it, he told of being woke up out of a sleep and observing a devil standing beside the bed. According to Wigglesworth, he simply said, ‘Oh, it’s only you,’ and rolled over and went back to sleep….that’s the trust that I want to have come to…..


Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Fact 1
There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.
Fact 2
No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver or purple.
Fact 3
“Dreamt” is the only English word that ends with the letters “mt”.
Almonds are a member of the peach family
Fact 5
There are only 4 words in the English language that end in “dous”: Tremendous, horrendous, stupendous and hazardous.
Fact 6
Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.
Fact 7
Bert and Ernie of Sesame Street fame were named after Bert the cop and Ernie the taxi driver in Frank Capra’s “It’s A Wonderful Life” movie.
Fact 8
It’s impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.
Fact 9
The average person falls asleep in 7 minutes
Fact 10
“Stewardesses” is the longest word that is typed with the left hand only.

This is not my usual newsletter. I usually take a point of view and try to express it in a way that people might think about a bit. This newsletter is just me complaining. I guess I get to do that every 246th newsletter or so. It’s just that so many of the things I see and hear these days have caused me to shake my head in a kind of unbelief. It’s been said that facts are stubborn things. And as believers, much of the time we think we only deal with things that are not able to be thought of as facts. We think that everything we believe depends on, not just something not seen most of the time, but much of the time something never seen. I’m amused by the secular world’s take on our Faith. I don’t mean that I find it funny; I find it bordering on the ‘silly’. It must be the foolishness talked about in the Gospels. Anyway, here we go. Here is my current ‘this bugs me list’.

Complaint # 1-The creature has the ability to so easily ignore and even despise the Creator. I’m sure you’ve noticed how the secular so wants to dismiss God and passionately ridicule Him? Oh, they will tolerate every other religious belief and even get out of the way for some, but anything associated with Christ is immediately dismissed as nasty stuff. I heard Rosie (you know the one) imply that Christians were somehow to be equated with the violence of the terrorist because of Christianity’s equally violent beliefs. Come on Rosie. I wonder if anyone ever stops to think about that kind of statement let alone check the facts to see if it is historically true. Fact is, how do all the deaths caused with the cry of religion stack up against Hitler’s Gestapo and the killing of 11 million Jews, Mao’s 65 million deaths in China, Stalin’s Gulag numbers of 30 million, Pol Pot’s 3 million slaughtered in Cambodia, 3 million in the Congo and the 3 million Christians killed in the genocide in the Sudan in the 1990’s. Wonder if Rosie just, maybe, forgot about those? None of those regimes had Christian leaders; rather they were for the most part atheist intellectuals, responsible for all those deaths in the name of their power. Truth is more people have been killed by any one of those secular regimes than by all the religious persecutions added together. Yet we get characterized in the same group as the Nazis by many today. Actually, their statements are so far from the ‘facts’ it falls into that silly thinking that’s so common, but the secular falls, and eagerly falls, for it just the same. I’m kind of tired of those kind of charges targeted at us today. Ted Turner has called Christianity ‘a religion for losers’. What mystifies me is that no one seems to defend our Faith against such charges. Oh, we’ll have someone yell and scream, but how ‘bout just being able to express a good ol’ dose of the truth…just the facts! The facts would go further than the yelling and screaming which are easily dismissed by most people. That’s the fact here.

Complaint #2-What we do to our kids: We desensitize them with our language; we stimulate them with our television, movies, the internet and magazines and then act surprised when we help create a world of trouble in their lives. Rather than giving them the most potential to succeed, we load them up with the most potential to fail and then look the other way when the light of day shines on the causes of so much trouble in children’s lives today. Perhaps no one is more aware of this than Dr. James Dobson, who had been targeted for all kinds of ridicule for exposing the effects of pornography on children. In our culture we glorify negative behavior and condemn good with much of our communication systems. We take men that do evil things, show them occasionally doing something good, and ‘trick’ our minds by making heroes out of them in the media. I get ‘bummed’ when I see parents grin about things that hurt the hearts and minds of our kids. Our children have gone from being precious and treasures for our caretaking, to simply being the next consumer group that will buy the next fad, the next eye-candy with no regard for the character of the child. We encourage them in many directions that lead to failure and then blame them for having failed. Have you even heard the word ‘character’ being used when talking about kids in the past 10 years? Fact is we create much of the mess we find our children in today and deny all responsibility for having done so in our intellect. This fact sometimes gets over looked for our convenience I think.

Complaint #3-What we do to our economy: I’m just beginning to get kind of sunburned about this one. As I write this newsletter the US Debt Clock spins at an amazing speed. Take a look at it at usdebtclock.org. It moves so fast that I can’t keep up with it but here comes a snapshot as I write this letter: US Debt $13,179,469,129,916, –Debt per citizen $42,554, –Debt per taxpayer $119,184. If that’s no big deal, you can go ahead and send your check to the U.S. Treasury and get paid up. And, don’t forget to ‘times two’ that taxpayer check if you’re married. Could we successfully run our household with those portions of debt? Do you think we will not see any results from those figures over the next few years? Ready the printing presses please! Burying our heads to these facts will not help us or our children. Here’s what bothers me about this issue: Biblical kingship was characterized by The King taking care of, loving and providing for those subject to The King. He provided for them and looked out for them. Leaders today do as they wish regardless of the consequences to those they have an opportunity to serve. Power wins out over love. We have too many buildings and bridges with politician’s names on them but can’t seem to find a way to mow the weeds along the highway or clean up in front of the post office. Facts are stubborn.

In its attempt at power and control, the world has worn away our resistance to trouble. In the book The Screwtape Letters, C S Lewis wrote: “The safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without sign posts”. We may have lost the ability to do as Dietrich Bonhoeffer suggested during WWII: “if we see that a madman is driving a car into a group of innocent bystanders, then I can’t, as a Christian, simply wait and comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try to wrest the steering wheel out of the hands of the madman.” Bonhoeffer later joined in a plot against Hitler that cost him his life. Instead the secular world has picked up the scripture “Thou shall not judge” and used it to hold hostage any distinction between good and evil. All of a sudden we live in a world where judging evil is far worse than doing evil.

Ok, I’m done complaining… well maybe. Knowing all those facts doesn’t discourage me. I’m big into just doing something, doing even small things, to make a difference. It’s kind of passive- aggressive where the aggressive part is not mean spirited, it’s only confident. The passive part is characterized with being firm and consistent. It’s not too late to choose Life. Can you imagine the world that faced the 12 disciples as they began the journey to spread this message, this Gospel? Twelve! How much was against them? For practical purposes the whole world. They had no internet to spread the Word, no newspapers, no printing presses, television, no email or facebook. They just started doing the little things. They started doing the right things. As a result, because the Gospel is such a powerful message that changes things that seem unchangeable, it has spread throughout the world in spite of the entire world’s opposition.

Steven Curtis Chapman has a line in his song, “Facts are Facts”: ‘These days some say there’s no one way to believe, just keep it loose, you’re free to choose, there’s no absolute, it’s all relative you see. So I’m calling all defenders of the Truth to live a life that spells out God’s worldview…I know there’s a God who knows my name. And, a Son who died to take the blame….cause, promises are promises and facts are facts.’ Facts are our friends! My hope is in the belief that Truth, while always resisted by the creature, will win out somehow! So far the facts since Christ Jesus prove it.

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