How My Garden Grows (commentary)

I began with a couple tomato plants around last November or so, knowing that I will have to bring them indoors from time to time to save them from biting cold days.

Unfortunately, I had a problem with spider mites, and eventually, after a few months, both plants died. I had one tomato, on one plant, I so hoped would become edible so that my effort wasn’t in vane. Yet I didn’t get to taste it, as it got eaten a little by pests sometime while it wqs yet green.

I started all over early this March. Three tomato plants, about 2 feet tall. And two bell pepper plants. Further, I’m sprouting various lettuce from seed, as well I just planted green beans. I have several tomatoes, still green but indeed growing.

If at first you don’t succeed…try, try again.

While the process of a plant growing is initially a slow wait, you get the first excitement at seeing the seed sprout. A single leaf emwrges from the soil. You water it and watch it mature, slowly. Eventually, you have yourself an identifiable plant, with a stalk and leaves. It begins to stretch out in all directions and becomes taller.

Then a little flower emerges from the leaves, and you learn that this is the beginning of a single fruit.

Anticipation builds, and you study and nurture your plants every day. If it’s dry, you water. If a leave browns or gets a pest, you pluck it. If the outward stretching becomes unruly, you may clip it back and tighten up its structure. Though not too much, you don’t want to offend and stress it out.

All the while I can see its fertile bed of soil. I can see when it needs water, because the soil dries out too much and turns from rich black to a grey. I know my plants, and if a weed pops up among them, it is sure to be spotted, plucked and thrown away.

There is an armor you can add to your plant bed to keep the weeds at bay, a weed blocking fabric. It still allows for water to pour through it, into the soil to nurture the roots. But then I cannor clearly see the soil bed, and know when it needs more water. So I look carefully, and with diligence, remove the weeds by hand, one by one.

So far, I have only removed seeds and leaved that have fallen from trees. No weeds have yet emerged. Good!

Some people customarily talk to their plants. Haha I haven’t done so myself, but I do wonder aloud at them, Oh, look at that! Another tomato, another flower, new outstretching…

And I do pray, Lord, let the work of my hands prosper. Let there be growth, that I may have,in time, good fruit, mature fruit, without any pest nibbles.

So it is with our souls, which are God’s houses, and with His People, which are like His garden. He plants, and waters, and tends to each one, knowing them. His caring hands pluck a dull leaf, monitors their soil, and throws away a weed encroaching upon it, and prunes unruly outstretching, and kill the pest that nibbles at the plant which can ruin good fruit.

Let’s grow up and out – and be like the healthy, strong plant with the succulent fruit, and much of it, which pleases the gardener. Let’s be examples, to the little plants around us which are to be copies of the first, just aa we are. The first plant, who fulfilled his purpose, grew magnificent, and of much fruit bore also the good seed, from which we ourselves began. Let us also be built with a strong trunk, and outstretched limbs to glorify the gardener, and shining leaves without pests, and be plentiful of sweet fruit.

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Thoughts on the Rest for God’s People (opinion)

I believe God’s Rest that remains for His People is three-fold: 4 when you count how it will be in His Kingdom.

Hebrews 4:9

Hebrews 4 – Borean Study Bible

Justification

Sanctification

Sabbath

Justification – (By Him) God did it all for us through His Son Jesus. It is by grace through faith in Jesus’s atoning, redemptive work on the cross that we are imparted with the righteousness of God. So now, what rest is that? Rest from the condemnation for sin, perminantly, having beforehand been under the Law that was set against us, we rest with assurance in Jesus. Jesus fulfilled the Law and prophets, and as High Priest, made Himself the perfect, once for all sacrifice for sin, to all who believe Him.

Sanctification – (Through Him) We cannot please God by our own strength and will, neither do we understand fully His will and Law, nor can we yet do it perfectly. And we learn this, we’ll collapse under the weight of it all. We ever learn that sin is so far from God and His righteousness, that our best attempt is like a filthy rag. What rest is this? We rest from guilt, perminantly, and rest with assurance of His grace and His Spirit, continally working in us for His good purpose, for His glory and righteousness. Our work in faith is believing, cooperating with His Spirit, and not grieving Hi s Spirit as He works, neither grieving Him by our ignorance nor disobedience.

And in sanctification, I hear also “judge not lest ye be judged”. Paul said he had learned to be content whether poor or wealthy, and also learned to not judging others nor even himself. I found myself judging myself, thinking, Oh you stupid man, you haven’t the strength or will to do right enough, and God cannot be pleased with me. Is that not surely the devil, trying to turn my heart back to the condemnation under the Law? We’re free in Jesus, there is no condemnation in Him, so we’re free also to let the Spirit work. I have seen His Spirit, of grace and power at work in me, as behind me are old sins having fallen off and died to me. So too, because of this, I am assured more and more, from grace to grace, all sin shall perish likewise, and blessings and good works to walk in revealed. And knowledge, and love! Eventually, by Jesus all sin will be removed from me! Why is God’s Spirit called the Comforter? Yes it is hard on us to work out sin through Him, but that sin is bitter, and what’s revealed, godliness, is sweet. God knows we need comforting and assurance through it all, and through the difficulties and trials of our lives. Listen, and He does comfort and assure us in Him.

Sabbath – (Among His People) Sabbath Day rest is a practical rest for the people of God. You get a day off from your work. It is from God’s mercy and love. It’s also a godly rest, to remember He is God, He is creator, He provides and we’re solely dependant upon Him. Once a week, stop what you’re doing, your toil, your constant gathering of goods, your worldly concerns, you demands on others to work for you, and give your attention to God, godliness, righteousness, knowledge, love, and His people. It is a godly, moral, delightful rest; cease your worldly building, and let God build you and your fellows spiritually up and up, and knit you all closer together as a family in Him.

Some say the Sabbath Day is but a shadow of things to come, and dismiss it away also. It is a shadow, and the substance is Christ. It is like the shadow of a great rock in the open desert, good for shade and refreshment. I believe the Sabbath is in a sense or glimpse or a taste of what it will be like in the fullness of God’s Kingdom. God’s people, with Him, intimately, family, community, all working together, all content, all assured, filled and peaceful. But as yet, it is not here like that, all is not yet fillfilled. And there remains a rest, when we all come together and share in the Lord’s remembrance for what He’s done for us, and a meal, with His people, encouraging one another in faith to truth by grace. What was it, 1 John or Jude, I think it was Jude, (I read both last night), where it describes briefly the Lord’s love feast, some call it “agape”. Do we have such a thing today, in our congregations? And if not, why not?

God’s people, I marked on my calendar to remember it, are not to grumple nor be faultfinders (this is in Jude also), which is what pagans and tares are like, and they cause divisions among us, make a license to sin of the faith, are anti authority, and blaspheme heavenly beings.

I don’t want to be a grumbler or faultfinder, but know that I sometimes have been, too harsh with my words and teetering on judging, blaspheming, slurring, or condemning other of God’s people who are saved same as me, if even we have some doctrinal differences. God, I repent of that! Forgive your sevant and set me right. And I remember Your Word – Who am I to judge another’s servant!

And also in Jude, it says even the Archangel Michael was careful not to condemn even the devil when they were arguing over Moses body, but simply said to him, The Lord rebuke you!

Rest

Sabbath Rest – 3 Themes in Hebrews – United Church of God (while UCG I believe has this truth of Sabbath correct, yet they also keep Jewish festivals as well, which I do not think are required – so study the Word and let the Spirit of God teach you what is true and what is not)

Matthew Henry commentary says this: This rest is, a rest of grace, and comfort, and holiness, in the gospel state.

Certainly, Jesus states that the Law is good, and nothing in it changed. And He names the Law, the 10, one by one in His ministry. And sums them up into two great Laws. Love God with all your heart mind and soul, and Love your neighbor as yourself. And makes a point to say also, Do not think I have come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. Further He says, not one jot or tittle will be removed from the Law (until all things, heaven and earth, have passed away). Which we know Heaven will never pass away, it’s eternal.

Justification –

Sanctification –

Sabbath –

All these are grace, comfort and holiness.

Some say, but the Rest here is talking about a wider rest, a general rest to ones work, a Rest in Jesus. I think it is too! And yet also there’s a day of rest for assembly unto God. The Law was not changed, and it’s good and righteous. Scripture says “there remains” a rest for the People of God. Well then, it had to have been a rest that was and remains, still is there. And as God intended men to rest Fully in Him, so He still says, Yes, indeed.

Or else, if there is no further Sabbath Day, then the people of God don’t agree when to assemble. But the people are reminded to yet assemble themselves, and break bread, and eat together (see love feast/agape), encourage and teach one another in truth and love, so that all may grow to fullness in the Lord, and together.

There is a rest, that is imparted righteousness of God to those by grace in faith believe.

There is a rest, from sin, sin is ever being exposed and ousted by the Holy Spirit in us. It’s not completely done yet, sanctification is ongoing, but will be completed. You remember the saying, There is no rest for the wicked. In like manner, those who cease in sin, cease the toil with sin. We are to rest not in the works of the flesh, sin, but apart from the works of the flesh, coming out of sin, then we rest spiritually.

There is a rest, weekly, on the seventh day. Just as God rested, so should we. Remembering Who He is and what He’s done for us, and what He’s still doing in us.

Or is God saying, No the sabbath day is no more, and you shall work 7 days a week now? I don’t see or believe He says that anywhere in the Word. Man should not work 7 days a week, neither his neighbor, man needs a rest, he needs to get or keep his eyes on God and His Kingdom. What mercy would there be if we are told to work our jobs for pay 7 days a week? Working is a good thing, it keeps us from becoming idle and falling onto folly and sin. But too much work may lead us to think we are not dependant on God but ourselves.

We see this in the Word,

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

What gift(s) of the Spirit have I?

Studying some more on who is called to witness to the world with the Gospel of Jesus, and with the gifts of the Spirit. And trying to see more clearly, A) Who is to witness? All of us who believe on Jesus as Lord and Savor. B) Who has gifts of the Spirit? All of us who have the Spirit have a gift of the Spirit. Perhaps any one of us has more than one gift of the Spirit also.

I have a story to tell, and so do you. I have a witness of what Christ has done in me by His Spirit. It is most simplified in, I was once lost, but now I’m found. I was once blind, but now I see.

I was once a prisoner of sin and doomed to destruction even hell, but now I’m set free and bound for the Kingdom of Heaven, even eternal life in Christ.

It remains somewhat a little less clear who is to Teach in the Church. What are these distinctions I see in scripture, Apostle, Prophet, Teacher, Shepherd? But what is clear, is that it is a gift of teaching, given full knowledge, that that person is able to teach perfectly without error, and being able, also proved and approved, chosen by the brothers of the Church to lead. And not by way of democracy, but by those who were previously chosen to lead in their capacities. Do I overcomplicate this in word? No, I think its been overcomplicated to me and confusing. We are all witnesses, and sharers of the gifts we received, but not all are teachers. But what I can’t stand is deciding before there’s been any determining. And who among us woke up one morning and had full knowledge of God’s Word? How did it come, but by studying and the Spirit directing. If it’s not yet found that you know and are a teacher, why tell a man, a Christian also no less, it just isn’t. Might it be so someday? That’s for the Lord to decide! Doesn’t the Word say, if you want a gift, ask? So its plausible many Christians have yet to ask. And perhaps some ask, but it’s not yet given. Maybe you’re not ready, only He knows. But in time you may be ready, and He may yet give the gift you ask of Him. I’ve not stopped asking for wisdom since I was born again. I’ll never stop asking, and at the same time, I’m to be thankful for whatever He has already given me. All is according to His will and purpose. His will be done, not mine.

Also this is very pertinent, If the brothers are not trying each others knowledge and gifts, sharpening one another like iron sharpens iron, to know who has what knowledge and gifts, whether it is knowledge of God, or men’s or devils, then they won’t know. But brothers ought to know brothers! And consider it for yourself, look at what the Spirit has given you, What gift have you from Him? If you have a gift, but don’t yet know it, ask Him to show you. Won’t He? Yes! Then, knowing it, although you may not yet know where you fit in, you can say, The Lord has shared with me His gift, and so I want to serve and use it. That’s a great start, don’t you think?

I have asked God for Wisdom, Discernment and Prophesy. Have these been given to me? You know, I wonder. For sometimes God has shown me marvelous things in His Word, and clarity of mind to understand them, and so it is discerning what is and what is not, and together then, it is like prophesy in so much as clarity of the Word becomes clearer more to me and points me closer to knowing Him and His will.

But other days I have a foggy memory and mind, and things I penned strongly I find some doubts later return. But if I remain in Him, striving to read His Word and pray continuously, and always attentive to His Spirit, then I am not idle, and so moving continuously. The work of faith is believing, and I know I have to keep studying, practicing, praying, hearing and responding in kind, ever seeking His nearness – or like a vessel with a little crack in it, the water trickle out it seems and a day or days or week or weeks seem dry. Ordinarily I get a point where I know it, and it is not that He has gone, He will never leave me nor forsake me – declares the Word for our comforting and assurance in Him, but my own heart wanders off sometimes. I pray it were not the case. There ought not be any pause in us to grow, neither should we ever cease listening, or if we become idle, then we may begin to be troubled, doubt, backslide and sin. Why does my heart yet trouble sometimes? It isn’t now troubled. It’s like that saying, A rolling stone gathers no moss. Roll on, Christians, roll on! Be ever in the presence of our Lord, through His Spirit indwelling, and know every moment that He is with us.

Men are always saying, Never forget! in reference to a tragic event and that war and this person. I don’t have time nor energy or mind to remember the historic dates if men, or man or infamy or secular glory. I have only time and energy, my heart and mind and strength, to remember my Lord and His Kingdom and His People. And though I work in a secular capacity for my keep, though it too is to be done as unto the Lord.

What gift of the Spirit have I? Or you? Let’s hone in. And let’s ask God to show us clearly. Or perhaps you know some, so let’s ask for more clarity, more vision.

Let’s first name the gifts of the Spirit, given by the Word.

To be continued… Check back later.

Who is Anointed?

This post come after many years of wondering how some in the Church insinuate who is and who is not anointed, and dismissing many offhand, other Christians as if they’re not anointed.

So, I remember asking or being asked if I can be of service and help fill in for an associate pastor or young adult Bible study leader in their absense. I am willing. I wanted to learn how to prepare and write a bible study. I am interested. Teach me how to study the Bible. I want to know fully. What qualifications other than being a Christian must I have? So the leader agreed, sure, I can show you. But they failed to follow through.

When I pressed, because as the Bible says its good to be persistent; one leader in particular, got all frazzled and said to me, saying sternly, But you have to be anointed. I had at that time no idea what to say to that, and remained silent, but was urked. Am I not Christ’s disciple, and are you not to teach me and others?

I was very frustrated by that statement, and confused. First you agree that you’ll teach me, then you say I’m not worthy? It’s illogical. And just the other day, I was having a text conversation with a small group leader, who’s also an elder at his church, who’s about my same age, and he replied also, implied I was not anointed, seeing as I had neither a particular calling from God to do a certain thing or pertaining to a certain post in the church, nor was I confirmed by church leaders as anointed.

I said, this is true that I don’t know what God would have me do, nor do any come alongside me and help me figure that out. And some have audacity to say they don’t yet know my heart, but I am being very plain and open with them. But this I do know, the Word says it, all Christ’s disciples are to come to maturity, to know God’s will and instruction, and abide in Jesus, doing all that He said. I am trying, yet some hinder me. Why is that?

So I replied to him, Who are anointed? Is it not those who by God’s grace believe Jesus, and study, gain knowledge, and do as the Lord commands, fighting the good fight, to know and abide in Him, in Spirit, in truth and love? What more? Define the anointing you say I lack. I’m waiting for his reply.

He says, every church he’s attended, they all say, Surely you’re anointed. If he goes abroad, in a missions compacity or as a pastor to a pastors conference, he says that pastors come up to him and say the same thing.

Ok, I say to myself, I’m not the one saying, You’re not anointed, to you. But tell me you’re understanding of who is? And who isn’t?

And I asked him to define the anointing which he states I lack. To my understanding of scripture, these men are being too narrow. All Christians are anointed by the Spirit. Perhaps he means there are different anointing? Whereby he’s saying, yes all Christians are anointed, but some for particular tasks, received a special anointing to teach and preach and to mission? Well, again, how can you be anointed by leaders to be as a teacher, unless they first invest in you and teach you in the Word, and approve of or disapprove at some point? But all Christians are approved to learn and be taught All Things and encouraged and loved, in discipleship! But I am discouraged by some, who seem to say I am not anointed to learn and be tested. We’ll get to the testing and anointing as to whether I can lead, when we get to that point, but you’re declaring it before we get to that point. I looked at scripture to find out, to make sure of what in His Word, God says. And it does say what I just said. I understand, why don’t these church leaders? Again it’s quite illogical to me what they’re interpreting. Teach, and then approve or disapprove. But these men don’t teach, they don’t disciple.

On the other hand, I could sign up as a student at university, at a seminary, and if I have the money, they will very likely approve to teach me. But then also, do professors disciple biblically? Do they come to know each student intimately? No, probably few. You’ll have many professors, and each knows the individual student a little. Now maybe when you’re a Masters student, and smaller class sizes, and when you have a mentor assigned to you as you’re tasked with writing a graduate level paper on something, a thesis, then they may know you more than they did an undergrad.

And supposing the school graduates you, and you go to apply for a church position, that church will observe your credentials, and your manner of teaching and preaching, and whether it is true and solid. But I feel as if I’m judged beforehand as to whether I’m even a Christian, and although they’re not denying I am, neither are they conforming it. I take this very seriously.

This narrow definition they use may be at the very heart of why true discipleship is nearly abandoned, and university education so widely observe in its stead. In scriptural account, we see Jesus chose 12 disciples, and personally taught them everything over time. This is an anointing, the Lord chose them. And they were to be the first disciples of many, setting a pattern according to Jesus, the perfect example from which the pattern was cut, whereas one disciple invests in another, and helps create, if the Spirit (which anoints believers for service and priesthood) falls on a man, as a copy. And so it goes on and on.

That’s another thing, and associated with anointing. Who are Jesus’s priests and priesthood? We’re all called to it! Every single one of us, who are His people and His Church. Jesus is making His disciples to be like Him in every way. In time it will be so, at His coming He will perfect His people.

So, every Christian is anointed, having God’s Spirit. A man is chosen first of God to be a disciple of Jesus, an anointing given by His grace, and is evidenced by the person’s confession of faith in Jesus, Son of God, lived perfectly in righteousness, confessing Jesus’s atoning sacrifice justified alone, and received His Holy Spirit, as a seal upon him. And every Christian anointed with a gift of the Spirit, though these gifts vary according to God’s will.

Now it is also true that each mans anointing must be evident to other members of the Church. And there are tests in scripture. Test them, it says. So making sure they really know the truth and are known of God, and do not profess another Gospel. How is this accomplished? Again, through discipleship, we learn about our brothers (and sisters) in Christ. The one yet trapped in sin and doesn’t repent and doesn’t have works through faith, that is, isnt being sanctified by the power of His Spirit, isn’t likely anointed, and neither are they saved. Though yet they still might be saved at some point, we don’t know for sure, or idling in their faith. If the latter, they should be instructed according to the Word, repent, do as the Spirit says, be discipled and encouraged not to stay in their sin, resist sin, put on the armor of God.

Surely I have been anointed! I know it. My pastors attest to it, though not using that word, they know me, and I am open as a book to them. And though I struggle with some sin, and no one is perfect, yet other sin are behind me now and dead. This is proof positive. And this wasn’t possible of myself and my own will, but the working of the Spirit through faith.

And I am further encouraged in this, that there is yet reformation to be had, more clarity. Jesus shines like the sun, and his feet like burnished brass. How does His Church shine? Some, and perhaps with patina also, needing more polish. Though I’m also disappointed some, for the same, at the condition of the Church, it widely doesn’t know discipleship, doesn’t know the Law of Christ so well, and yet clings to traditions of men. And who am I to reform the Church? They pay no attention. And I’m cool with that. First things first, I am to conform to Jesus, in His Spirit, denying myself, taking up my cross, removing planks and splinters – in my own eye – as the Spirit shows and enables by His Power. I can do nothing of my sheer will alone, and know it. I am not reliant on men for this, but of God. Then He will use me, however He sees fit, and doors will open, He will lead me. I am sure of it.

That was my error however, for so long, looking to learned men and pastors to teach me and possibly, having tested me in all accountability, reliable, and yielding to their oversight and authority as elders and pastors, because I am no rogue, appoint me to something. They do neither. And since they don’t disciple, neither do they have any disciples of their own to claim, and neither do they raise up leaders or elders, but merely seem to adopt elders who were raised in another church, and pastors made someplace else, to another’s credit. These them seems like a dead church in many ways. If the pastors and elders growing old, died, who would take their place from within this congregation? They would have no ready men of their own, and would have to post the jobs online, to find someone from somewhere else. This is not what we see in the Bible. I keep saying that now, and it falls ordinarily on deaf ears. But there have been a few associate pastors who concurred, You’re right, they said, we don’t do discipleship as the Word entails. But, they said, the elders and pastor think what we do is, and is enough. It’s not me who’s right so much as the Word. The Word is right, and I merely agree. We must endeavor to bring all the Church under the Word.

God comforts me, He is Himself rearing me up where many refuse to disciple and teach me all things, and He instructs me to forgive those their narrow sight, and neither speak badly against them. I won’t mention their names. Instead I pray for them, talk to the younger or same age as I personally as brothers. And if they’re older, with the honor due as to a dad or parent, and not harshly rebuke. I will and am waiting on the Lord, and do not go out and preach and establish a congregation and lead and teach nor go off and be a self appointed missionary. It’s not yet appointed of me by Him, but neither is that evidence that it won’t someday be the case. If anything, I am trying to be faithful, that is why I yet wait to hear clearly.

But this much I see clear as noonday, I must be discipled and become mature in all truth and love. If however it is to be, that someday I shepherd or as an elder teach, then there will be a robust discipleship, God willing. And I will be more gentile and loving and encouraging, and unswerving to the Word, to the best of my ability according to His grace and mercy and gifts, because that is what I longed for and didn’t find readily. I thank God for my struggle with some people, who are my brothers, as it pushed me ever closer to Him. Thanks for that, though you discouraged me, God is willing and took it upon Himself. We need more brothers in Christ, even closer than brothers, and not simply church peers and members. Brothers, sisters – we are family; and family ought not be so indifferent to one another, but love, and grow in love.

When I go to another congregation, I will strive again With them. I will say, I want you to know me, and I will hold nothing back. Before I was born again, these were my sins. And God by His Spirit clensed me of them. And I will confess, Jesus is Lord, my savior lives! I will do all that I know how to approve to you that I am in Jesus. And yes, I do aspire to be an elder, the Word says that’s good. But first a deacon, if that is here. Or I will be a greater if that is the least. I aspire to serve the body of believes, where can I? And someday I may, if and when you say I am approved and capable. Let’s pray together, and eat together, and live together, as brothers, and hear what God says.

Dear God, help me not to encounter more discouragement in your Body, show me your will and make a way. If the least in service is desired of me, very well, perhaps to paint the church fence and mop the bathrooms, help me do it with all reliability, humility, thanksgiving and cheerfully. I know I did not do very well before. As audio tech I got tired of it after a several years, and couldn’t wait to stop doing that. Getting there before evertone, and leaving after everyone, not hearing the message but anxious for the cues of service order. And I didn’t like tending the garden and grounds and pulling weeds, but I’m not too good for dirty labor. I did not want before to be a greeter and usher. Now I see it differently! I want to be a faithful man of God, to know your will and full of your knowledge and full of your love and serve well those who are yours. Amen.

I will come back to this and add scripture as I study further. Until then, this link was helpful and contains cites of the Word concerning: Who is anointed.

You are Anointed 1 John – posted by CARN Org

Duties of Elders in the Church – from Got Answers dot Org

The more I study this – and I haven’t studied it long, I must still say, I don’t know. For yes the body of believers, each Christian is anointed of the Holy Spirit. And yet, is there a special anointing of God to elders, teachers, pastors? That does seem so. But when reading scripture, say Peter or Paul plants a church, and apoints reputable, wise, knowledgeable men who are not ensnared in sin, we can’t say sinless since all men yet sin, but not grievous or habitual or intentional sin. And scripture says its good to inquire of these roles, so long as one doesn’t do so because of pay or gain or vain glory or lord it over those they’re entruated with. This second link (above), better explains this, with scriptural passages as examples.

I’m troubled by what these two men in the church have said. One saying, concerning my wish to help with young adult bible study, and after agreeing he would tutor me in such, said, You’re not anointed. And I don’t follow, What do you mean by that? If you’re saying you’ve not been chosen by the elders in the church to lead the young adult bible study, you’re correct. But what prohibition is there in learning and assisting you who were chosen? And how were you chosen for that, before you knew how, or after you learned and demonstated to them that you could?

I think I’m being shot down before ever being given a chance to learn and prove myself. One might suppose, they’re lording their position over me. If it’s good to aspire to roles in the church, says scripture, let me aspire. And if Im not yet fit to be considered, tell me why not?

The more I think on it, the more I am sure I am not yet fit in fact to lead or teach. And reader, note that, please, and do not take this blog as if I’m some pastor or teacher. I am just a student! I am learning as you are. Perhaps one day my congregation will ask me to be a deacon, I hope so. And maybe after thag, and elder. And maybe not soon after that, when I truly know and am fully formed in Christ, pastor. I know my thorns, my pastors know them, since I confess them and work in the Spirit again them. So they and I both know, I’m not fit yet to be an elder.

Really, where I have taken issues, is with associate pastors, who seem less wise and knowledgeable. I don’t think they’re really that different than me in that regard. Even the group leader supposed and said to me, You probably know plenty having been a Christian for 15 years, to share the gospel, and know as much if not more than many missionaries we meet in foreign nations. I replied, Yeah, probably so.

But ask me what should be a simple question to answer, like, Who is anointed? And I have to study it more first. I don’t know. Or I know in part, but not fully.

When however I think on the elders at my church congregation, the title does not necessarily infer that they also teach or council – like the elders in the Bible do. I know of one particular elder which does sometimes teach, and I have been drawn to him for council. I see that he cares, he and his wife, and they have told me the Lord sent him to seminary. But the others, I know they have “helps” roles and oversee finances and facilities, and they pray for the congregation before service, and over the sacraments.

I didn’t like the assumption of these two, the associate pastor and group leader, that I know what they mean when saying I’m not anointed. In one sense, I am anointed, as a fellow Christian, and in another I am not, since I am not yet chosen for a particular role.

I have questioned my own motives. Am I just jealous of them? No, I don’t believe so. I catch them being flippant, unreasonable and irrational, and think, in light of that, how can they suggest I’m less faithful?

Where the one had said I was not faithful, the associate pastor, seemed to regard that I irregularly attended Sunday services as unfaithfulness. Now, if said associate pastor says the 4th commandment was nailed to the cross, then there is no law that I need to go to sunday services. And if there’s no longer a law, then I cant be unfaithful for not going. But going to chirch or not going to church, isn’t in the 4th commandment any way. It would be prudent, to fellowship and worship together, but it doesn’t seem like it has to be that every sabbath. But if the 4th was abrogated to sunday, which I think and believe from study is not true and just a roman catholic misinterpretation and mans doctrine not God’s, and is still to be kept holy today, and the 7th day at that not the 1st, than neither do they keep it holy, because they buy and sell, and do not give the whole day to the Lord. See where I’m going with this? How does he use that against me and say Im unfaithful? He’s also unfaithful in that regard. But Im not suggesting anyone, with even the best intentions and knowledge does keep it holy.

But the hearts intention and motives, attentive to Christ’s commands, that’s what God longs for. He knows we neither understand His Law perfectly, nor can do it perfectly – and strive to uphold it any way, because Christ commands it, it’s good and righteous and teaches man to depart from his sin into godliness.

Let’s say for instance, moving back to the discussion of elders, teachers….that I’ve been faithful and of good repute at my local church, and the elders there come and say, Would you become an elder with us? Or perhaps they want a deacon. Really, truly, I would not take this lightly. Nor should they. We should all pray to God for His will to be done, not ours. For right now, in comparison of the elders, they not I, are held to their responsibility and are accountable to God and over mens souls in their care. But I, not being an elder or teacher, am not held to that higher standard, neither having their teaching office nor souls of rhe congregation in my care. They will be judged on their teaching and position to a greater degree. I know this, I hear the warning in scripture loudly.

All I’ve ever asked was to be discipled, to be trained, mentored. Feed me, I’m hungry! I feel I’ve been a little raised up in the church, and then just left at the doorway or in the pews. And so much more in the Word, God is excellent and teaches. We all need mentors however. Why does the Word call for discipleship if not? If for no other reason, accountability. I recognize my need for accountability. And I am afraid to err in the Word, because I am fearing and love God. And that’s what these men are who are elders do, they’re to teach, council, mentor, among other duties of upholding the church. But if some don’t teach or council, then what special, separate anointing did they get from God? They did meet the scriptural requirements some, of good repute, perhaps wise, men of only one wife, and so on. And so we see in that second link also, traditions that differ in regards to whom qualifies an elder. More strict to the Word in some denominations, less strict to the Word in other denominations.

But its also true that I didn’t approach each elder one by one and ask. I asked the pastor and then the associate pastor. So I have to take responsibility there, I could have gone further and exhausted all options, asked all the elders till one would mentor and disciple, taking me under their wing as it were, and I did not.

Ok, then – next time I will not give up so easily and be discouraged. I will ask the pastor, then the associate, then the elders, then the deacons, then the youth leader, and will be most persistent.

On the 2nd Commandment, and Visual Arts

As a Christian first, and visual artist second, I’m often interested in what God thinks and wills for artists. If this interests you, read on.

Many of us Christians agree in the 2nd Commandment – the command, and main principle of which is to make no idols and neither worship them. But when asked, Do you have any such idols, or do you see any around? Most say, No.

I see them everywhere in Christianity. I see images of Jesus in most churches and Christian’s homes, images in their wallets, images in their purses, images around their necks, images on their computers, images on and in their Bibles. Does the Bible condone this? Or are we just so used to the Church ignoring the second command that it nolonger passes into our ears to think about it, nor ask God, Lord, give me understanding. Images which depict Jesus figuratively, and of Chriatians past, images of apostles, famous disciples, reformers, who are now asleep in Jesus, or symbolism for Christianity, perhaps a fish, perhaps a cross… are everywhere. We miss the whole command and principle, Worship Me in Spirit and in truth.

I don’t want to talk on and on about this. But here below are some websites with very interesting essays and writings, by both Jews and Christians, teachers in both, students and art historians on non-figurative art – in the Jewish tradition as well as early Christian Church and at other times when Christians, or some groups therein, eschewed figurative art and espoused iconoclasm. Of note, there is a variety of interpretation by rabbis Christian authorities and traditions and scholars. Consider it all, and yet take your attitudes from the Word alone. It is said in scripture, those who make images and those who worship images assert that these have power to teach, but the Lord will say in his judgment, Go on, then, here’s your image, make it talk. But they cannot.

The wise gather many councilors. Don’t just hear one-sided arguments, listen to the other arguments also. Perhaps you will gain some insight, and perhaps see scripture in this matter more clearly than you have.

Wikipedia – Aniconism & The Christian Church

A Religion without Visual Art – the Rav and the Myth of Jewish Art

I’ll add more links to essays/writings and historical studies as I find and review them.

Test Your Faith, Be Disciplined in Knowledge (Truth) and Love, to Give Answer to Anyone Who Inquires, With Patience and Gentleness

We may think we faith, exercise it, having knowledge, but will it stand up to our own scrutiny, probing of the Word, as well as other’s questions? Can we share the reason for our faith in Jesus? And will our patience and kindness, stand firm to another’s disagreeableness and hostility?

If we have trouble giving answer as to our reason we have faith, and in what manner (love), it may attest perhaps we have yet to dig deep as we ought in scripture and know it, and in our prayer life, and also the proper way to show it among other believers, and among unbelievers. Should every believer then seek to be like a theologian and like a teacher, I think yes, indeed, we’re to become like Christ, a student studies tk be like his teacher, always growing unto fullness of our faith in Him, in His knowledge, which is His truth and in love. Our love should be in according to His truth. Sonsome attest in this world to know what love is, but they dont know the truth, so neither do they know what love is. Love like truth, has bounds. Not all things espoused of men is truth, and not all definitions of love espoused of men is true love.

Im not saying all should say of themselves, I am a theologian and a teacher before such is proven of God in the assembly. But that each Christian should attend to their walk in the Spirit unto maturity and holiness; but many by will, their choice, remain less concerned to do this. This is obstinacy. We should have no question of our faith if we’re always working out our faith in the Spirit. We may find we have less faith in time, only when we aren’t attending to obey the Lord in His commands. For surely, we falter in them still, trying even as hard as we may, and know it, and realise we cannot do His will apart from His Spirit, agreeing with and cooperating with Him. We are to surrender fully, absolutely to His Will, whatsoever.

So faith is built upon obedience to the Lord, ans as we endeavor in His Spirit, we are witness to His grace all the while. His grace began long before, before we knew it, before we were even born, He knew us. From His grace to grace we move, ever forward, and from these grace to grace movements, we move unto holiness, fir which we are called, shedding the old and putting on the new, however slowly it seems to us, be not discouraged, He will finish the work He started in us, and we find we are given greater faith throughout. From little faith to great faith. The one who doesn’t exercise God’s grace through faith is naked and not dwelling on Christ’s will, tjat being for us to be holy fore He is holy. So, it seems to me, if someone says, Why should I believe? Or admitting, I have so little faith. How do we council? Having met someone in a crisis of faith, no faith or lacking faith, it should be evident they have forgotten their need for the Lord their Savior while they were yet dead in their sins and desperately desolate. Show them again their sin, and their need of Jesus. If God’s grace still resides in them, this shouldn’t be hard. They will still agree to being a sinner. If not, they may not attest to being a sinner. I am not sure that we will know for certain, if departing us they have walked away from the faith, or never had any. Time will tell, so I won’t judge them to hell, that’s not my place; surely, that judgment is God’s alone.

Which leads me to know that as the world says Christians are judgemental, they are very wrong in so much as the discernment between judging what is truth, which we ought to, and judging as condemnation and death. I condemn no on, and I kill no one. But God has said He will be just, He will judge, He will avanege, and He will condemn…those who refuse, today, in this their life and lifetime, His grace and justification in Jesus and His commands and judgements.

Is this “your 1st love” mentioned in scripture? God first loved us while they yet were sinners. Through grace by faith, are imparted justified, as righteous before God through Jesus, but not of ourselves. Some may forget, having a lapse in judgement, and become as self-righteous. Our first love is Christ, who first loved us. Our faith is trusting in Him. Faith, in the original Greek is pistus (and another word is used too, like it), meaning trust and dependence. Our utter dependence upon Him, first came by way of His grace, and continuance in His grace through faith, dependence upon His grace and justification through Christ’s sacrifice, in the further gathering of fruit of His knowledge, and bot just hearing but doing, so our obedience is only possible by grace through faith, it is but thanks and trust knowing our dependence in-action, and not of inaction which proves lacking faith. Like faith, and obedience, and love, even thanks should grow in us. All good, His will, practiced in growing knowledge of His will, in thanks and in love by obedience to Him, declaring we are His own, though it is not yet pure in us (that is purity, perfection), should grow, and grow, and grow, towards holiness. And finally, Jesus will perfect us, He will complete the work He has begun in us.

Happy Sabbath

I woke up this morning, refreshed from a pretty good night’s sleep, and I stayed at home this Sabbath. I thought to visit a sabbath church assembly, but I was indecisive and didnt. He’s working on my heart still. That joy I long longed for, peace and not anxiety, has come over me more than before. And I knew it was that I had been wrestling between grace and justification, and works. It is true what some have said, you have to be so firm in His grace and justification in Jesus alone, know it and not half-know it, or else when you look upon the Jesus’s commands (which He does say, as Paul confirms, uphold the Law (moral)) work in the Spirit to obey Jesus in love. And while you may stumble in it, as you will and find you still cannot do it perfectly, nor even understand it perfectly, and in err think you’ve fallen and judged or not loved or blessed by God, forgetting that though you can’t do all that He commands perfectly and holy, you are and remain in God’s grace and justified in Jesus’s sacrifice, alone. Remember it, trust, and sway in no part to Jesus’s justification alone.

It was His grace that showed me this. As if He said, chastening me, Son, I showed you my free mercy, remain in My Son, and I do have you continue in My will also, as it pleases me, but don’t forget my free gift as you go about it, you are not condemned by the Law, remember, there is no condemnation in Me!

And it is such a reason to cry now, happy, thankful tears, as I say this, His grace is so wonderful, His council so loving and I am truly dependent upon Him.

Knowing God’s Will for Our Lives

We may all jave pondered from time to time, What would Hod have me do in this situation? Maybe it’s a big decision, buying a house, whom to marry, or whether to take one job over another. And we may wonder in the smaller decisions also.

I was listening to a radio program yesterday afternoon by a pastor at Grace Church in Orlando, FL. For once in my life I took notes listening to the radio! Here’s what he had ro say: (paraphrasing) We can know God’s will by what the Word says. Read your Bibles, study God’s Word, and you can know the will of God. God wants us also to pray, to come to Him in faith, with thanksgiving, a humble and contrite heart, and do not doubt, and ask of Him, and He is generous.

  1. Stay away from all sexual sin. We can see that this was among the few very important instructions Paul gave to the new gentile converts to observe. Paul and Peter, and other leaders, were discussing whether new believers among the gentiles had to be circumcised or what of the Jewish law might still apply. They settled on these it seems. No outward circumcision, but inward. No sexual sin. Apart from what is approved of – only within the marriage contract between you a partner of the opposite sex and God, all else is sexual sin. [Paul also says, and this pastor doesn’t mention, don’t eat or otherwise drink blood, and don’t eat food sacrificed to idols. We can today still find people of the world who eat meat torn from a animal with the blood still in it. You may have to do a study onnthis to see why God says this. In our ordinary dealings (in city life), I can think of two instances that are common, rare steak. It’s seared, but the juices do not run clear but bloody. Though sushi is raw, I don’t think of it as there being blood still in it, it’s gutted, drained, washed. These following two, in my experiences within the Church today, forbid the consuming of blood or food sacrificed to idols, are glossed over and dismissed] Though there is further teaching on these in the Word, and you may take an interest and read them. Make your will into God’s will (through His leadership of the Spirit that dwells with you) and deny yourself, choosing only God’s will. Out of this thought, in the 90s, came those little bracelets popular among some Christian youth which read, WWJD. What would Jesus do? But we don’t need bracelets to remind us, Jesus purchased us through His own blood, we are His and not our own.
  2. Discipline your bodies, control yourselves, submit your bodies to the Lord as your daily sacrifice, because we know that His Spirit dwells within us and we are His Temple; He is holy, so be holy. Naturally we cannot do this apart from His Spirit. Want to know God’s will? Work with His Spirit and don’t resist. As His Spirit speaks to us, appealing to our conscience or spirit, saying, Don’t do this, it’s wrong, or this is sin; don’t shrug it off, listen carefully.
  3. Be sanctified. Be submissive to the Lord. 1 Peter 2:15 This is like the other, conform to His image. Consider it joy when as we face temptation and tests, knowing that though these we may come out stronger in the Lord. We will have greater faith when we walk submissive with His Spirit. And we will see that He is with us, we are being sanctified, from grace to grace, as we shed our old ways one by one and become more like Him. Don’t be discouraged, have faith and keep pressing forward, against sin and towards holiness. Whatever you do, do it for the Lord’s sake, in the Spirit of God’s citizenship, we are His people.
  4. Be submissive – Have the spirit of cooperation – also to world authorities, civil law, officials, courts, police,… Only to the point where doing so violates God’s Law, then do not violate God’s Law. Have the spirit of cooperation; with God’s people, get along and work together, don’t gossip, don’t quarrel, and also be thought well of in society, having a good reputation among all men, not as a lawbreaker. The Word says, In so much as it is up to you, live at peace with all those around you. If you develop a bad reputation, having broken civil laws perhaps or in your doings wrong others and bring accusations from others outside the church, you may not be called upon to be an elder in the church. Be well spoken of as doing what is right.
  5. Suffering. After suffering a little while, God will make you perfect. 1 Peter 3:12, 1 Theselonians 5:18 No one wants to suffer, and yet whatever sin remains in us to conquer in His Spirit, it is making us suffer and sin is a burden. We’re not to cooperate with sin not make any deals with it that it can live on even in small part or sometimes, but we’re to put our sins to death. I think, as we put away our sin, chain it up and march it out to be executed, as it were, we grow to know God better and learn to love Him more, to hate what He hates, and further, it is made clear to us how far sin is from His holiness and perfection. While we were dead in our sins, no good man anywhere, but all mankind thought only evil all day and all night, God still loved us. Consider this daily. And get your heart correct, can any man have saved himself or justified himself, in any way whatsoever? Absolutely not! God loved us, and did it all.
  6. Right spirit. Give God thanks, be greatful. Whatever you have or don’t have, give thanks to God. Blessed are the poor. Those He justified, also he made those heirs of the Kingdom of God! Like suffering, it is just for a little while, and produces a right spirit and greater faith and love. We may want such and such, but God knows best, and what is good. If we don’t get the answer to our prayers, the answer we want, consider that He keeps our spirit fertile to receive more of Him, and keeps those things which might spoil us away from spoiling His purposes in us. He knows each of us intimately, and knows how or whether we can handle something responsibly and for His purposes and glory.

After these 6, the pastor goes on to say, What else is God’s will? Do whatever you desire. After these 6, who do you think now molds your heart, your thoughts and desires? God does. Psalm 37:4 Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.

After you conform your heart to the Lord, what will you desire? Riches, power, glory? Not for yourself. Desire what God desires. This does require persevere and patience, and we’re to work in cooperation with Hos Spirit to – cease conforming to the pattern of this world, and conform to the pattern of God.

This isnt all the pastor said on the radio, but many things came to my mind and I eleborated upon them.
I think this pastor said well, but is this all?

Studying God’s Word, particularly the New Testament of Jesus, Jesus sums up everything in these two, Love God with all your heart mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. In my imagination I envision it like two tablets hinged together. Or like two magnifying glasses held aloft over the tablets of the 10 Commandments. His summing up the law and the prophets in these two seems to me like drawing my eyes and heart also to the 10 commandments, and what the prophets taught – which sure enough all point to Jesus. Since these two are sums, what are their parts?

This os the problem all along with God’s people, they and we can look at his commands, and studying them for a long time to see the words and understand it completely, we may still see just a law, and not the love and heart we’re supoosed to see.

To me, Jesus’s summing up the Law of God and prophets, confirms them, just as Jesus fulfills them also. He doesn’t fulfill lies and myths of man, he makes known to men in his walk what truly is and shows the love that men miss. Even as some men, like the Pharasees, saw Jesus or His disciples doing good on the Sabbath, in spirit in right, and yet called it was seen as lawbreaking or evil erroneously. Today we may get confused looking at the whole council of God, and say the opposite, of anyone after God’s will and love in spirit and in truth, slander them and God saying they are but law keepers. But we must separate and fully understand, we are not under the Law and it nolonger condemns, but in Christ, who fulfilled the law perfectly, who Himself fullfilling all prophesy, says to His disciples, also observe and do what I have fulfilled and ajown you perfectly. And do not observe nor do what He has done away with, the shadows of His appearing. He Himself makes the law clear to see its intention is the Love of God, how to Love God and how ro love our fellow man; abide in these principles and you abide in Me. Abide not in these principles, and you neither love Me. So to the one who knows God, or is known of God rather, does all he can with thanksgiving for that magnificent gift, grace and justification through Jesus, not to continue in sin.

We still aren’t sinless, yet, but our faith in Him counted as righteousness by God. And even though not loving God with all our heart, mind and strength, not perfectly, we are not condemned. And even not being able to understand perfectly, nor keeping the Law of God, His 10 commandments, perferctly, we are not condemned. But as we love Him, and grow in love by and for Him, we cannot help but affirm them true, they are true, every one of them.

There is one justification, One who justified by His perfection, His Love, and His sacrifice. There are no do-overs or Re-justification as some believe, believing in error in man-given doctrines of ‘penance.’

There are some who agree with the law as its written and say they habe never trespassed or sinned in that way, saying, I have never committed adultery. But Jesus says, not adding to its meaning but unraveling it some more like a scroll, and magnifying it, He says, (paraphrased) “But I say, anyone who has lusted after another and coveted her (or him) in his (or her) heart Has committed adultery in his heart.

So who keeps the Law of God perfectly, even one of them, that Christ commands we still take notice of, and Paul agrees we are to uphold it? No one. And it’s true, if even one of these is broken, all are broken, they’re meshed together, they’re dependant. So judge no one. But all those justified by grace, are forgiven and counted righteous, not of ourselves, we all fall so short, but through faith in Jesus. It begs the question, What is faith? It seems to me, Trust. And even still, does any man at all have perfect faith and trust in Jesus? We may have some doubts, yet sin, yet worry, yet fear, circumstances and people and events….

We’re all to be working that out in cooperation with His Spirit. Trust more, and more! And more! In everything we encounter and think and do, being prayerful always, never ceasing, being as we walk beside the Lord and in the Lord, truly He is with us, in us, be faithful, become more, and more. And more faithful!

We are being sanctified, remade, built up in His image, to be more like Him, unto holiness, unto perfection, and beginning to end, the purpose is love, God’s love, to make a people for Himself, men of God and priests and holy and perfect to glorify His name.

God is worthy of all praise and glory! Though I see what I write and say, Ha! – some people might say I am crazy, fanatical, one of those Jesus Freaks that’s all emotion and bluster. I am not withholding confession, I am not self-righteous, I am a sinner, I am not perfect. If I hate anything, I aim squarely at sin and systems of men and doctrines of devils that seek to deceive people and cause them to believe lies that may result in casting their souls to hell.

If you hear God’s commands, what Jesus commands) and God and Jesus are the same and His Spirit, they perfectly agree, and seek to do His will), but have not love nor do them in love, you will be tempted (and not tempted by God because He doesn’t tempt nor can be tempted), but you’re tempted by your hearts evil desires and will begin to think the doing of His will earns you some merit or part however small in justification, this is grave error. I’m still learning about this, about everything. And I have caught myself getting tangled in thoughts and efforts as like merit, as like webs of deceit. It was, I became greatly disappointment in myself, finding I cannot do anything perfect and holy, then, flirting with the sorrow. I think this is the sort of unease men like Martin Luther delt with and we all might deal with it sometimes, that sense of how far we are from God, how sinful we are really, and how perfect and holy God really is. We can yet neither fathom how great our sin is before a holy perfect God, nor how holy and perfect God truly is. The distance is like from one edge of the whole universe to the other. How great is God’s love? Beyond imagination, beyond scope of any of man’s invention. Approaching even for a second, even the margins of the top edge of the black hole that is hopelessness, we have His Spirit who comforts and corrects in love, Hey, you, son, you took one little step outside of me, step back! And thank God for His Spirit, His grace,His justification, I am not worthy, but He counts me His son, even as I move in error to thoughts of disgrace, when I sin it is not He that declares damnation, but I do at times – and why do I, if He doesn’t? But all sin still deserves death, as it reproaches God’s holiness. Too many words and thoughts trouble the man. Have fewer; God loves us, He stands us up, dries our tears and gives us joy and hope and purpose, and Jesus walks us back to God, away from sin towards holiness, to God and our Father.