He First Loved Us . . .

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Found this on Mike Bickle’s Facebook page and thought I would share it with you. It’s not a new thought, it’s just good to be reminded occasionally.

We cannot give love without first receiving it.

God’s method of awakening love in human hearts has always been to first reveal Himself as the One who loves us.  Our journey in love begins with and is sustained by the revelation of His love for us.  The natural progression of our growth in love begins with knowing we are loved.

When we encounter God’s love for us in a personal way, we find that love for God and for people naturally overflow from our hearts.  The heart that knows and feels God’s affections on a regular basis will be strong in its ability to give love to God and to others.

Thoughts on the Church . . .

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If you have read many of my studies, you should know by now that sometimes I’m quite critical of the modern church; not because I’m above it but because I’m part of it. I’m in the midst of it and I love the church, I love my brothers and sisters of the faith (Messianic Jew and Traditional gentile) and I’m at times befuddled and downhearted at the obvious place we’ve arrived, and the equally obvious path of confusion and downright idolatry that we merrily rush along with full confidence that we’re in good stead with the Almighty in doing so. Many of you can see it and are making personal decisions and changes to chart a new way or (as I prefer to think of it) a return to the old well-defined and documented ways of the earliest body of Believers when the Lord’s presence was tangible and His power flowed in ways we haven’t seen in a long time.

In the days of the Judges there was a remnant of Israelite leaders that warned and begged the people to wake up and recognize how their faith had been co-opted by other Israelite leaders who sought only to further their private agendas or to blend in with their neighbors in order to gain wider acceptance. In opposition to this remnant of the faithful, was the ever-growing majority of Israelites and other leaders that said that the current situation demanded that the definition of sin be altered and that peace with their neighbors was more important and a greater good than obedience to an ancient decree about sacred land holdings or full devotion to their one god and His laws.

The same thing is happening in our own nation. We have a war with an enemy that has no desire for peace. Many are crying, “Negotiate, negotiate . . .” with people who’s only desire is your death. No middle ground, no compromise . . . how to you compromise or negotiate on those terms?

I’ve regularly said that the Church and Israel have run nearly parallel historical paths with the analogy of the two rails of a railroad track. The picture being that the rails are separate and distinct and never touch one another, yet they are connected in purpose and origin. They begin at the same place, follow the same path, and arrive at the same destination. They’re made of the same stuff and behave in the same ways. And it’s natural that this would be the case because the immutable God-ordained patterns that rule the Universe mean that history is doomed to repeat itself in never-ending cycles until Messiah comes again to put an end to it. So just as the Israelites detoured nearly overnight from their golden era of obedience and faith to Yehoveh as they conquered Canaan and celebrated victory after victory . . . in the book of Judges we see them taking a devastating turn down a path of darkness, all the while calling it light and progress. It was only a matter of a couple of decades after Joshua’s death that we find Israel mired in idol worship and oppression, all of it at their own hand.

And of course the church is following this same pattern. After centuries of victory when (against all odds) for all practical purposes every remote corner of our planet has been penetrated and presented with the Gospel of Yeshua; after a mere 60 years when at the cost of their own lives the righteous stood up against and defeated the indescribable evil of Adolf Hitler and his satanic desires to dominate the world and rid it of God’s chosen people; today a loud and growing voice within the church says that sin must be redefined because it doesn’t fit with modern societal needs. A Christian no longer even needs to believe in Christ. A Jew can perfectly comfortable as an atheist. That same rising voice says that love means peace at any price, mercy means protecting the lives and rights of the guilty at the expense of the innocent, and unity means compromise of principles to the lowest common denominator to achieve consensus. More and more denominations have made it their creed that God by any name is still God, so we should honor and respect all other religions and see them as no better than our Judeo-Christianity because all paths to the divine are equal and good.

As Arthur Cundall says in his commentary on the book of Judges: “It may be that the modern reader of Judges will hear the warning voice of the (Holy) Spirit, ‘This is not the way, walk ye not in it.’” I can only hope that as we delve into the destructive foibles of Israel that we’ll see in these passages, we’ll have the humility and openness to see that we’re not on the outside looking in on some hapless ancient Hebrews bent on wickedness; but that we are them and we are in great danger of committing spiritual suicide. We as the body of Messiah already have the gun to our collective heads and our finger on the trigger. Will we lay the gun down, repent, and realize that our religious philosophies and manmade denominational doctrines that try to apologize for God’s commands or even to replace them must be abandoned for the better and more pure ways of His Word? Or as in Yeshua’s parable of the seeds will we listen for a while to a call to holiness and purity, but then fall away and go back to the easier more familiar path, return to the comfortable and accepted ways of the majority, and dare Yehoveh to exercise His righteous justice on those whom He loves so very much? The decision lies in your hands . . .

Through the Gates of Splendor . . .

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I have an addiction. Oh I don’t drink or smoke or chase women—I’m addicted to Talk Radio and Television Commentators. I get so riled up that (much to the consternation of my family) I start yelling at the radio or TV. It gets worse during election season. I sometimes have to turn off my radio and TV and listen to my Ames Brothers and Mel Torme.

So, I decided to take a sabbatical from radio Talk Shows and go back to once again read “Through Gates of Splendor” by Elizabeth Elliot. Wish me success on this. I might go through withdrawals, just like any other addict. If you see me wondering aimlessly around the streets, turn me around and lead back to my home.

But Elliot’s book was the account of the martyrdom of Five American Missionaries in the Ecuador jungle. First published in 1957, it tells the tale of how five young husbands lost their lives in the attempt to reach the Auca Indians with the gospel of Christ. The primary character of the book is Jim Elliot. Jim very quickly became one of my heroes all those many year ago when I first read the book.

I used to tell my children over and over something that I learned from Jim Elliot’s writings, that our lives must have purpose. We must live deliberately, striving to know God and to serve Him in any capacity He has planned for us.

That’s how Jim Elliot lived. Even as a young man, he chose not to be involved in too many extra-curricular activities, because he didn’t want to become occupied with non-essentials, and miss the essentials of life. He wrote to his mother, explaining his choice to participate in wrestling, “I wrestle solely for the strength and co-ordination of muscle tone that the body receives while working out, with the ultimate end that of presenting a more useful body as a living sacrifice.” He chose this physical activity deliberately, knowing it would further his usefulness in the Kingdom of God.

Jim knew that he was just passing through, that this world was not his home, but that he was only here to serve Christ until he was called to his real home.

“Life is not here, but hid above with Christ in God, and therein I rejoice and sing as I think on such exaltation.” Rich Mullins once sang, “The stuff of Earth competes for the allegiance I owe only to the Giver of all good things . . . if I sing, let me sing for the joy that has born in me these songs; and if I weep, let it be as a man who is longing for his home . . .” What an attitude!


Elliot’s reflections indicate that he was well aware that he might be martyred. Yet he wanted to live passionately for His God.

He wrote in his journal: “’He makes His ministers a flame of fire.’ Am I ignitable? God deliver me from the dread asbestos of ‘other things’. Saturate me with the oil of the Spirit that I may be a flame. But flame is transient, often short-lived. Canst thou bear this, my soul – short life? In me there dwells the Spirit of the Great Short-Lived, whose zeal for God’s house consumed Him. ‘Make me Thy Fuel, Flame of God.'”

This is a cry to my children, and to every follower of Yeshua, learn from Jim Elliot. Learn that to be satisfied in Christ, you must live each day to the full, deliberately choosing activities that further your usefulness for the work God has prepared you to do. (For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, that God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10)

Learn that this world is not your home. You’re just traveling on the path to the Celestial City. On the way, you may encounter many obstacles. Yet you must know, and rest in the fact, that nothing will ever separate you from the love of your Father.

Learn, too, that to serve the God of Glory is to be wholehearted before Him. Nothing else is reasonable. (We are to present our bodies a living sacrifice, wholly acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service. Romans 12:1) If God is Who He Says He is, then we must be in awe. We must be aflame! We must be willing to do and be anything He wants us to do and be. Learn this, and rest in it. Jim wrote, “Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

I don’t know about you, but I see Jim Elliot as a wonderful example for each of us! Thank You, Lord, for calling Jim to the jungle of Ecuador. Thank You for giving him a heart aflame for Your glory. Help us to live like Jim lived, with deliberate purposeful hearts before our Beautiful God. In Jesus’ wonderful name, Amen.

Notable Quotes . . .

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“The belief in a God All Powerful wise and good, is so essential
to the moral order of the world and to the happiness of man,
that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many
sources nor adapted with too much solicitude to the different
characters and capacities impressed with it.”

— James Madison (letter to Frederick Beasley, 20 November 1825)

Cardboard Testimonies

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Here’s something great to watch: