Friday, March 30, 2012


"Follow Me, and I will make you Fishers of Men."
Matthew 4:19

When I was a boy, my family lived on a five acre wooded spread.  My backyard was a three acre gravel pit.  After my chores, I would play army and other things like throwing dirt bombs in the gravel pit.  At the back of the pit, the border of our property was lined with another stretch of woods where us kids would build our forts - five acres away in a serene quiet setting from my house.  From the back of the property you would hear no cars, almost nothing except the wind blowing through the pines.

At suppertime, my 5'7" father would call out, "Edvard, coma zee here, mach schnell!"  This translates, "Edward, come to dinner and make haste!"

Dad had this booming voice for a little man, so it was no problem hearing him with all this quiet around me - and he knew it!

There was a rule at our house also - he would only call once.  You had one chance to respond - correctly.  Dad would never, ever, accept a negative  response.  Dad, with his faux German accent, made sure that you recognized his voice.  He made it distinctive from anybody else's voice.  No tower of Babel here!  His was authority personified.  He was in charge.  He was the boss.  Failure to respond - failure to come running -  had its consequences.  Upon arriving late to the table, one might find his dish removed, less food to eat, or since he had to wait for you - you would now have to wait until he was finished.  Needless to say, this never happened to me for God had blessed me with exceptional hearing.  Plus, that extra spring in my running legs

I had learned the meaning of "immediately""Mach schnell" rhymed with "now"!

Peter, Andrew, James, and John also knew the word, "immediately".  The word is recorded in both verses, 20 and 22 of Matthew 4.  They heard His Voice calling for them while fishing.  The same Voice that said, "Let there be Light" lit a fire in their hearts.  They knew that Voice. 

If you've ever gone fishing, you'll know that it is really quiet out on the water.  No distractions, no noise, and certainly no busyness!  All one might hear is the breeze going through your nets, or brushing against your fishing line.

With that kind of quiet, I imagine that these fishermen heard Jesus very well.  There would be no excuses.   They heard Him so well, in fact, that they could hear between the lines.

"Follow me NOW, and you'll land the Big One!"

What fisherman has never dreamed of hooking Melville's Moby Dick, or the swordfish in Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea?

Fishing takes patience.  Fishing takes skill.  But, most of all, the best fishing is in the quiet.  You have to be still to feel the tug on the line.  My Heavenly Father's Voice comes in a still small Voice.  If I am still and quiet, and know that He is God - if I free myself from the world's noise, the world's distractions, the world's busyness - that still small Voice will boom in my ears and I'll hear, "Edward, let's go fishing, mach schnell!"

I pray that I will immediately respond and drop a line in the pond for men's souls, feel the tug, and perhaps, land the Big One!  And, I won't have to worry about getting my plate pulled away from His table!

What do you think?  How do you Read?

Sharing Immediately this week with:
Faith Filled Fridays at Beholding Glory

Friday, March 23, 2012

Doing the 180

"Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."
Matthew 4:17

"Holiness, holiness - It's the Lord's command - not the Lord's request."
Don Francisco

First, a little word study:

REPENT, in the Greek, is "metanoeo"which means - to think differently or afterwards, to reconsider, to change one's mind, to change for the better.  Metanoeo is taken from the word, "noeo" which means to exercise the mind.  Noeo is taken from the word "nous" which is where we get the phrase - "using your nogin." 

Psalm 37:23 reads:  "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord."

According to the Word of God, there are three steps to metanoeo:

Step 1 - New knowledge
Step 2 - Regret for previous course, a displeasure with self
Step 3 - A change of action

All these "steps" can be found on the "Roman's Road" - that nifty little handful of scripture verses from the Book of Romans that maps out the way of salvation - calling whomsoever will to metanoeo.  Metanoeo refers to a change of choice, while its synonym, "metamellomia" refers to an emotional change.  This is what is meant by the Biblical use of the word "repent".

In previous posts, I have shared the details of my change in eating habits.  By new knowledge about food, gained by the reading of product labels, my condition of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high sugar forced me to reconsider my eating habits.  My regret for eating poorly caused me to seek good counsel, which led to getting checked out by my doctor.  The examination by the doctor led me to a change in action, resulting in a changed life!

I did a complete 180 degree change in eating.  The low-fat, low cholesterol, low sugar diet brought the results of "back to normal" readings in my blood test and blood pressure, plus the much needed loss of some thirty pounds.  

In our journey from darkness to light in our lives, Jesus calls us to make a 180.  Trouble is, some folks go beyond the black and white of the 180 to the round robin of a 360.  But, to do that is just to go around in circles.  This is why many people often experience failure in diet and lifestyle changes - they don't stop at a 180 - but, go onto a 360, which lands them right back to where they started.

I spent a good deal of my Christian walk going 360 for Jesus - and wondering why I seemed to be getting nowhere other than the failed places I'd been to before.  I was going in circles - a 360 - until I stood still long enough for the Word of God to cut me in half:

"For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."
Hebrews 4:12

Jesus separated my darkness and brought me into His light in all matters of life.  Pierced to my core by His Word, I finally was able to understand the fullness of my salvation - Step 1 - New knowledge.  This caused a decisive - Step 2 - Regret for previous course, a displeasure with self - and the resolve to choose - Step 3 - A change of action!  I got off the 360 treadmill and onto the 180 train going in the opposite direction of God's calling. 

Metanoeo, Everyone!

Holiness, holiness
For the people of God there remains a rest -
Holiness, holiness
It's to hear God,
And to answer, "Yes."

Don Francisco

What do you think?  How do you read?

Sharing The 180 this week with:
Faith Filled Fridays at Beholding Glory
Spiritual Sundays 
Graceful's Hear It On Sunday - Use It On Monday 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Bottom of the 9th

The devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, "All these things I will give You, if You fall down (lay prostrate - can you imagine?) and worship me."  Then, Jesus said to him, "Go, Satan!  (Get out of here!) For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord Your God, and serve Him only!' "  Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.
Matthew 4:8-11

Two outs, two strikes, bottom of the 9th.

Satan in desperation, is going to swing for the fences.  Shades of Ryan Howard (of the Phillies)!

Satan switches bats.  He goes for a heavier one.  He relies in his ability to hit one out of the park.  After all, didn't he hit a home run in the Garden of Eden Stadium?

Jesus takes to the mound.  From there He can stare down the batter, and see all of the opponents weaknesses.  Jesus checks the sign:  John 3:16.  He knows what pitch He will pitch.  He winds up . . . Jesus - the Relief Pitcher playing in the place of the Starting Pitcher, Adam, who failed to finish the game.

Satan, taking a few practice swings with temptations one and two, is looking for the fast pitch, the nail in the coffin that will secure victory for his team.  He tries to distract the pitcher with a bribe:

"If you let me hit, I will let you have ALL the endorsements.  All you have to do is let up - throw me a bone - give me something to hit - show good sportsmanship - show ME some respect - shake my hand - and you're IN!  You team will never know.  It's just between You and me.  This competition has gone on long enough.  You're tired.  I'm tired.  We can both win . . ."

Jesus chews on the Glory of His Father.  The Glory that He left when He was traded to Adam's Team to pitch in this game.

Conference On the Mound 

Jesus says to his catcher, the Holy Spirit, "I have the endorsement from my Father.  You saw it.  I don't need Nike, Reebok, Disneyworld, and especially that stinking, slimy, chewing tobacco that Satan chews on.  You see his uniform?  It used to be glowing and white.  Now, it's all stained with that poisoned juice of sin.  No, thank you!  This is MY game to WIN.  To WIN for My Father!  My Father ALONE deserves the championship trophy.  He ALONE deserves the cheering fans, the adoration, the Glory!  Dad wants me to save this game for Adam.  Dad loves Adam.  They've had their falling out . . . some broken communication . . . some rough spots.  Dad wants Adam to stay up here in the Big Leagues.  Adam gets the win - I get the save.  Should I blow this one for that rebellious fellow holding the bat?  Forget it!  My contract is for Me to honor my Father - and no one else!"

The catcher goes back to His place behind the batter, in front of the Umpire.  In a still small voice, he mutters the Word, "Love".

The Play

Jesus acknowledges, winds up, and lets the ball go.  The Ball goes STRAIGHT and FAST down the NARROW flight to the plate - which represents HOME.

Satan grits his teeth.  He spits.  He digs in.  He mutters some blasphemous word.  Here comes the pitch, it's faster than anything he has seen before - it's coming straight for his head!  It's coming in like BLINDING LIGHT!  Satan can't see it - he swings in defense of himself.

The crowd goes wild!

There's celebration on the field!

Dejection is also on the field.

The Umpire, Yahweh, calls the final strike, 
 "SATAN - yourrrrrr OUT!!!!!


The Pitcher gets the Save.
Adam gets the Win.
Jesus gets His arm rubbed down.
He gets a "New Wine" champagne shower.
He gets ready for
A "stake" dinner . . .

What do you think?  How do you read?

Sharing The Bottom of the 9th this week with:
Faith Filled Fridays at Beholding Glory
Spiritual Sundays 
Graceful's Hear It On Sunday - Use It On Monday 

Photo Credits:  
The Scoreboard photo:
The Sandy Koufax pitching photo is via Sports Illustrated:  /featured/GAL1146153/1/index.htm
The Strike Out photo is via pbase: 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The SAT Word Test

(a.k.a. The Satan Against The Word Test)

"Then the Devil took Him into the Holy City and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, 'He will command His angels concerning you; and on their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'  Jesus said to him, "On the other hand, it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord Your God to the test.' "

Matthew 4:5-7

One temptation down, two more to go.  You can hear Satan say, "Alright, if changing the stones into bread didn't work, how about a magic trick, a real show stopper.  Some daring feat, some David Copperfield meets the Flying Wallendas' exercise in aero-dynamics?"  

This time our adversary uses Scripture to tempt our Lord.  He uses Psalm 91:11-12.  Clever . . . clever . . . clever!

Again, he taunts, "Hey, Jesus, You're the Word, right?  Well, how about fulfilling Your own Word, make it happen, prove that this stuff is real!  Cast Yourself down off the roof of this church.  C'mon - You're not gonna get hurt.  Daddy's gonna send His angels.  They'll catch you."

Have you ever been tempted by Satan's twisting of the Scriptures to do something you know is not right?

Satan uses Jesus' own Word to compel Him to "fulfill" His Word - outside of the true CONTEXT of His Word.  Should Jesus have allowed Himself to be led in such a way, He would have served the warped purposes and pleasures of Satan - not the true purposes and pleasures of God.  He would have made Himself Satan's servant - his lap-dog.

Perhaps, this is how Satan was able to fool over 1/3 of the angelic host into following him - a "Truth or Dare" game.  Take a chance - is it True or False . . .

Satan tries to get us to do foolish things to advance his purposes and pleasures in this world.  Have you ever taken one of Satan's "Truth or Dare - True or False Pop Quizzes"?

1.  "C'mon, one more drink, then drive home, you'll make it - God protects you."
True____  False ____

2.  "Abort that baby - it'll crimp your style.  God wants you to live free."
True____  False____

3.  "Hey - drugs are great.  You'll be able to fly like the angels.  Just jump off that building and prove it!"
True____  False____

Satan was trying to give Jesus that same drug.  But, Jesus wasn't buying.  He was fasting.  Nothing like fasting to keep you God-focused!

The God-focus in our world continues to blur - too many deceptive and tempting questions on Satan's pop quizzes clouding our ability to discern - true from false.  Don't you just hate it when the questions on the tests are written in half-truths?  A blurred focus makes it hard to study the WHOLE truth sometimes - and this is where we've likely to stumble.

On a true or false test you have a 50/50 chance of getting the answer right.  We hear one facet of a thing and make a judgement out of context creating a doctrine of good intentions - concluding our answer by what sounds like it MAY be right.  But, IS it right?

Jesus doesn't take the test Satan places before Him.  He RE-WRITES the test to a more perfect exam, using the full counsel of God.  While Satan would try to get Him to bite on the sensational of imbalance - He was teetering on the top of that temple roof - Jesus answers with down-to-earth balance.

"On the other hand . . ."

He turns the table and puts the shoe on the other foot.  Looks at all cuts of the diamond.  Gives a proper perspective - and without quite so many metaphors along the way.  He is concise and to the point:

"It is written, you shall not put the Lord your God to the test."

A Word Study

In the Greek, the word "test" is where we get the word "tempt."  Both English words in the Greek - test and tempt - are rendered, "ekpeirazo" (ek-pi-rad-zo).  It means:  To test thoroughly.

Ekpeirazo is taken from the word "peirazo," which properly means "to pierce" - to burst one's bubble - "pop".
Putting both these words together, ekpeirazo means:  To test thoroughly by piercing.

Satan is trying to "test" Jesus - pierce Him - before He is pierced by the test and the nails of the cross.  He's trying to usurp the testing of God on the cross by attempting to replace the glory of God's test - a fulfillment of the whole counsel of God in His Word - with a misdirected "pop quiz" that would undercut God's plan of salvation  Giving Jesus a "test" with no purpose, in place of God's "test" of ultimate Purpose.

Consider abortion.  Every abortion is Satan's use of "ekpeirazo" to kill every child before he/she fulfills their potential and purposes for use by God.  People choose to abort their children because they only get half the story - the "now".  Considering only one chapter in the book - when the test is on ten chapters of material.  What about the other hand - the "later" of the subject.

Jesus would not be deterred in fulfilling His true purpose.  "Now" was not the time to succumb to the twisted whims of His enemy just to show off that He COULD throw Himself off that roof without injury.  Which He could.  Jesus was all about the "later" - the perfect purposes of God - all ten chapters of the textbook - preparing for the final exam and and not getting side-tracked by tricky pop quizzes.

But, Satan will always tempt with the urgency of a pop quiz.  Jesus, on the other hand, shows us the way of wisdom, and the reward of staying focused on the requirements of preparation for the Final Exam.

Satan is now 0 for 2.  Jesus is 2 for 2.

By passing this test, Jesus paves the way for us to secure an "S" on our Report Card.  "S" standing for "saved" - which is very satisfactory!

"As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried by every wind of doctrine.  By the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming, but speaking the Truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him Who is the Head, even Christ."

Ephesians 4:14-15

Are you studying for your "SAT Word Test"?  Will you pass on the "Pop Quiz"?

What do you think?  How do you read?

Sharing The SAT Word Test this week with:
Faith Filled Fridays at Beholding Glory

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.  And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
"It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.' "
Matthew 4:1-4  NASB

I'd like to marry this verse with another one today - I Corinthians 13:11:

"When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child.  When I became a man, I did away with childish things."

I'm not a self made man.  I'm a product of two parents, and was raised like all of us to be DEPENDENT on creation.  But, like all creation - specifically  man - I constantly fight for my INDEPENDENCE.  

Our country won its freedom via the War of Independence.  Through the ages we've been taught by our school, parents, and what-all that you need to "stand on your own two feet" and "pull yourselves up by your bootstraps."

Bookstores are full of do-it-yourself books and self-help books.  There's even a toy commercial touting our growing independence with the jingle, "I'm a big kid now!"


Let's start at the beginning our our lives. We're delivered from the "wilderness" of our mother's womb.  The first thing we need after birth is to be cleaned up - our baptism, if you will.  Then, we are presented to our parents by the doctor saying, "Here's you new bouncing baby boy/girl!"  The proud parents take us into their arms and shower us with love and affection.

"He/She looks just like us!"

We get our first feeding through bottle or breast.  We suck down our nourishment satisfied that our needs are met and fall asleep.  The proper feedings takes place day in and day out - multiple times in the day - and we grow, soon to enter the toddler years.

We are led by our parents to the new throne in our lives - the high chair.  Here, we learn to take solid food from our parents.  It is also the place where we learn to feed ourselves.  In this process, we play with our food.  Some gets in our mouths, but, most gets all over us - or falls to the floor.  After some growing, we actually get better at feeding ourselves, with mostly all of the food getting into our mouths and stomachs - unless it's peas or spinach.  

After more training from our parents and growing older, our palates are expanded as well.  We become INDEPENDENT eaters.  The purity of mother's milk in the infant years and toddler solid foods begins to devolve when junk food is introduced into childhood - taking hold during the teenage eating years.  As teenagers, we like it fast and in a bag.  We gobble it down, hardly tasting and barely digesting our food.  

Adulthood sets in as we leave our parents eagerly carving our own niche in the world.  We can eat whatever we want, led by our own desires - and the habits formed in our youth.  We become what we eat.  Careless eating habits manifest eventually with a bulge to prove the quality of the choices we've made.  

To that end, some of us now have to give up our INDEPENDENCE, and now become DEPENDENT, relying on prescription medicine and doctor's orders to live with any quality of life.  We become like children again - relearning what we should or should not eat - back where we started - not much of a progression!

When I started out as a Christian, I was birthed into the Kingdom.  I presented myself to those who witnessed to me, making them proud parents of a convert.  I needed the nourishment of the Bible so I immediately went out and bought one.  I didn't read it much - didn't really understand it.  But, I carried it around, kinda "playing with it" - like so many Cheerios on a toddler's high chair.  In fellowship, I would turn to the page our pastor was teaching on and read along.  Some of it got in, some of it didn't.  Most fell to the floor. 
Eventually, being led by the Spirit in my own wilderness time - church to church, translation to translation - I slowly grew.  As I grew, I picked up the Bible more often - and actually read it.  The more I read, the more it actually got in  The more it got in, the more the Spirit could use to discipline and shape me.  The more I read, the more convicted I became.  The more convicted I became, the more I was willing to be led.  The more willing to be led by the Spirit, the more my INDEPENDENCE melted, and the more DEPENDENT on God I became.

Exactly the opposite of the world's standard - cheering INDEPENDENCE in any form.  However, in God's economy, the more DEPENDENT we are on Him, the more mature we become!  When confronted by Satan on the mountain, and tempted in a time of physical hunger, Jesus had no need for an INDEPENDENT solution - using magic tricks - turning stones into bread to produce instant gratification. 

The source of Jesus' strength was His absolute DEPENDENCE on God the Father and the Spirit Who had led Him into the wilderness.

The highest level of maturity we can obtain is this same absolute DEPENDENCE on the Word of God.  Recognizing our total need for the "fresh News from Heaven" - our old nature becomes "old news".  We disregard the world's junk food and become better equipped to be led by the Spirit to confront Satan and his ultimate weapon - our former self.  

How will we respond?  Where will we go?

Being fully controlled by Scripture and the Spirit, our vehicles - our lives - are not "led free".  Daily I fight for my DEPENDENCE on the Lord.  In this world, the fight for INEPENDENCE apart from God has furthered the downfall of mankind.  Poor choices in the junk food aisle create the bulge that breaks the scale:  A world with no direction and the darkest of destinations. 

As I leave the childish things, I answer the previous two questions like my brother Peter in John 6:68:

"Lord, to whom shall we go, - who will lead us - only You have the Words of Eternal Life."

How do you read?  What do you think? 

Sharing INDEPENDENCE this week with:
Faith Filled Fridays at Beholding Glory
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