There are many options in life from which to choose…a smorgasbord if you will. Back in the 70’s as a teenager, my favorite restaurant was Duff’s Buffet in Lexington, Kentucky. You guessed it, they had these carousels of food with every high fat, high carb, nutrient depleted, food-like substances that a sixteen-year-old teen boy could possibly dream. One whole carousel was dedicated to desserts…I just gained a few pounds writing about it. The point I’d like to make in this blog is simply that given the many choices and options before us on so many fronts of life, we might only come to realize the detrimental ones when the effects have grasped us beyond the point of repentance. My apostolic father is fond of saying, “Have compassion on your future.” The message is clear…the choices you make today will effect you one way or another…along with those who are in relationship to you.
“Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19
Yahweh, speaking to Judah through the prophet Isaiah, expresses that the old paths would not lead them where the new vision would be realized. Yahweh’s commitment to fulfill His Word to His people would require them to pay attention so that He could direct their paths. Of course, Yahshua’s message continued this theme throughout His ministry…something about the lack of wisdom in putting new wine into old wine skins.
Presently, at the writing of this blog, our country is entrenched in a political conundrum related to whom we might choose to preside over this country for the next four years. Our nation is leading the world in poor health and obesity. There are diet options of full fat, low carb, clean foods, organic foods, vegan, whole foods and trim healthy mama. Given that the religious world is using to the same 66 books, more or less, to derive their theology, there are over 2000 different denominational organizations that interpret the same Bible differently. There are Calvinists, Armenians, Dispensationalists, Charismatics, Pentecostals, Baptists, Catholics, atheists, gracers, Kingdomers, etc. There are so many parenting and educational options from homeschooling to public education to private schools. So what happens when your stream dries up and you’re way out in the desert of wrong decisions without resources?
Wisdom tells us to finish before we start and to choose wisely who we will serve. Before you subject and possibly enslave yourself to an uninformed choice or the status quo, inquire of the Spirit of the Father, Who has the ability to draw out of the depths of Yahweh His secret, unrevealed purposes (1 Cor. 2:10). Swimming upstream may be more strenuous, but there are usually no deadly waterfalls drawing you to destruction.
Recently, I’ve noticed a significant number of people interviewed about their growing up years and how difficult their family life was due to their teenage rebellion toward authority and rules. Does it really have to be that way? Do families have to be held hostage by rebellious and lazy teens only to reminisce later in life with a few laughs and informal apologies? Why does the pass between childhood and adulthood become so turbulent?
I wish I knew the remedies to all of those situations and could sell you a best-selling book explaining the secrets of raising healthy and compliant children. However, I didn’t fare so well through my teen years, of which my parents would willingly attest, and am currently right in the middle of my own daughter’s teen years, from which I am writing from current events. Yes, I know, the pious parents of perfect progenies are beaming right now with pride and false humility, but even Yahweh’s parenting of Israel didn’t turn out well during their teen years either. So I take solace in knowing, first of all, that the ‘law’ will only frustrate and create upheaval. Secondly, the Spirit of grace will triumph victoriously as we see in the example of Christ. Now, how to apply that to the family right now?
Yes, the children of Israel were a handful. Stubborn, hard-hearted and prideful were but a few of their colorful characteristics, yet Yahweh never abandoned them. Then and now, He always kept the vision of His ultimate intention reminding Him of their value to Him and to the world around them. No matter your experience, vision has to play a huge part in keeping your sanity as a parent and not trespassing into the soulish regions of your emotions that would compromise your relationship with the gift that Yahweh has given to you to govern and steward for Him. Vision.
Another important element of traversing this parenting paradigm is grace. Grace is a spiritual gift from Yahweh that empowers you to stay true to the positional and functional relationship you possess with your teen. Have you ever found yourself arguing, or discussing energetically, with your teen and realized that your focus was how they were or were not functioning, not realizing that they are processing the entire conversation from a positional perspective of acceptance and value. Grace establishes the positional foundation by which the functional elements of the relationship become important. We must realize that saying, “I love you.”, doesn’t always translate to them what you really mean, “I value you.” Our teens are looking for significance in a world that is ready to supply a steady stream of false fulfillment. Grace.
With the ultimate vision of releasing our charges into the world at the appropriate time, we must realize that the transition from law to grace is not easy. One day they must stand on their own two feet, living and loving life to the fullest without destroying themselves or others, by the grace of God. However, correcting every little mistake or lecturing them before they can even make a mistake might win you some points with those who are judging your parenting skills at the moment, but will sabotage your relationship down the line. Law and grace don’t have to exist in self-contained classrooms. The purpose of law is to provide a set of guidelines pertaining to how something works, to receive the greatest benefit of the culture for which the laws exist, until they can ‘see’ it for themselves and navigate their lives accordingly. This latter stage of development is the grace stage where they are empowered by an internal desire to contribute. This entire process begins with our little babies as consumers, totally without the ability to provide for themselves. Their progression must then move toward becoming helpers, where they are rewarded for participating in the culture in which they live. Our hope then is that our children become contributors and begin to invest inside and outside of their culture without the possibility of reward or punishment. Finally, once all of that sets in, they begin to acknowledge the abundance of assets they possess and become distributors of their massive resources. And then they will be known as….parents. Parents.
“ECONOMY – the management of resources in a given territory for the purpose of its productivity.”
The stabilization of any economy is founded upon the equity of the transactions that make up the buying and selling of goods and services. I’m not sure when our society began to believe that a good business deal was akin to ripping someone off…but alas, largely that is what constitutes business in our present world. It’s a sweepstakes and lottery mentality that pervades our culture with getting rich quickly by ‘sticking it’ to the chump who doesn’t know any better. Now let’s get this straight, I’m certainly not advocating socialism in any form or fashion. As a matter of fact, I believe entrepreneurism is a kingdom expression of business and free and fair enterprise is a righteous way of doing business. However, when we judge business success by dollar and cents gained and use ‘unjust weights and measures’ (see Micah 6) to fleece one another in the marketplace, we have moved from a kingdom economy to a Babylonian society that is heading for judgment.
One of the spiritual observations of the economic downturn that took place around 2008 was that those sectors of business largely effected were simply being judged by Yahweh for taking advantage of families. You see, Yahweh really cares about family and has promised to provide and protect it.
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height– to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:14-21
So when the auto industry, banking and financing industry, along with mortgage and investing corporations were under fire, the Spirit told me that these particular sectors were taking advantage of family through their unscrupulous business practices and were being judged by Yahweh.
Yahweh has no desire to destroy America but to bring this country to the purpose for which it was established by godly people and leaders. But instead of allowing the judgment to correct and realign our society’s mores and values, the ‘governmental system’ came in riding on a white horse to preserve our nation’s status around the world so this house of cards doesn’t come crashing down on our heads. Realistically, man cannot stop the righteousness of Christ from being established in the earth. With every delay in allowing the correcting and realigning judgment of Yahweh to perform its work, comes a greater catastrophe and harsher consequence on the convenient and prosperous life we know.
Up next is the judging of the political and governmental systems of this nation, along with the media and entertainment industry, that continues to exploit and destroy the foundation of the family…a creation of Yahweh.
“Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3
If you are engaged in any form of business, ask yourself how the business you are presenting is blessing the family. Yahweh has promised to bless family and be an enemy to those who don’t. If you are thinking of beginning a business of any kind, ask yourself how it will benefit your family as well as other families who work for you and the families of those who buy your product or receive your services. Do you work for a company that exploits its workers with unfair labor practices and dupes its customers with inflated pricing?
Remember, the currency of the Kingdom of Christ is not dollars and cents but faith that comes by hearing the voice and receiving the Word of Yahweh. So when you hear Yahweh’s voice, He will always counsel you to bless family.
One of the most effective and applicable revelations that I’ve received recently and conveyed faithfully to our ecclesia (church) is learning to “set down in the moment”. I purposely use the word, “set”, instead of “sit”. To set something is to place it, establish and purpose it for a particular reason and a particular season. In our fast-paced world, which is only getting nauseatingly faster, personal and soulish unrest is growing within, which only leads to an unstable community and schizophrenic society.
For me, to “set down in the moment” is just another way of quieting my soulish and fleshly desires to enjoy the life I’ve been given by Yahweh and enjoy and engage the people who populate it. Even Yahshua implored us to love our enemies, to love our neighbors, to submit to one another, to get along. Why is this so difficult?
In my humble opinion, we live our lives at breakneck speed and wonder why we crash. We seem to always be on our way to somewhere. People don’t seem to remember that life comes equipped with a brake pedal as well as a gas pedal. Moving faster in life does not equate to success and prosperity. Don’t allow Babylon’s frenetic pace to define a Kingdom life for you.
In your day-to-day activities and responsibilities, do you find yourself dreaming of being elsewhere? Do you complain to others about the life you are presently living? Are you consistently in a hurry to get things done so you can get to something you’d rather be doing? Do you exhibit a habit of checking social media many times a day to escape your world to live in someone else’s world? Social media for the Christian today is the rapture theology of the Pentecostals of yesteryear-ESCAPISM!
Practice setting down in a moment by embracing the present reality of who you and where you are placed. Don’t disrespect everyone around you by wanting to be somewhere else with someone else…rude, rude, rude!
Yahweh is a redeemer of time. Therefore, enjoy the moment you’re in right now, embrace it and make the most of it by giving it all you have. Be a faithful person of excellence and watch Yahweh flood your life with joy and contentment. These verses in the book of Proverbs have served me well and countless others too:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart (set down in the moment), And lean not on your own understanding (don’t be distracted); In all your ways acknowledge Him (worship), And He shall direct your paths (bless your life with significance and purpose).” Proverbs 3:5,6
I’m intrigued by the fact that John the Baptist, Yahshua and the apostle Peter all began their public preaching ministry with the same message – repent. Now before you quit reading this blog because you think you already know what the word means or you’ve checked repentance off your Christian ‘to do’ list, give me a few more words to prove otherwise.
First for some Scriptural support to the statement above:
1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’ ” Matthew 3:1-3
17 From that time Yahshua began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17
38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:38-39
The problem with understanding the true meaning of repentance is that this message of repentance needs to be understood in context. All three preachers were preaching to a select group of people, the Israelites, the descendants of Abraham, who were designated for greatness in the earth. However, they became entrenched in an external law of the flesh (Mosaic/Old Testament Law) which was absolutely compromising every opportunity to fulfill their Yahweh-given mandate to reveal Yahweh in the earth to all the nations by the Spirit.
Now while most often one’s idea of repentance is to fall down on the floor with tears flowing due to the fact that you were caught in something of which there is no escape or repentance is the only option to avoid some really bad futuristic circumstance, its true meaning is quite different. True repentance actually involves a process of changing one’s position and orientation to something, which requires one to change one’s mindset on the issue. Again, the Israelite leaders had used the mosaic law and man-made traditions to control and manipulate the people. Both Yahshua and John the Baptist referred to these leaders as a brood of vipers, hypocrites, fools, blind guides and lawless. Yahshua Himself stated that one of His purposes was to save, or deliver, the lost (wandering aimlessly) sheep of Israel.
This proves, like Israel, your life, family and business may be expressed with all kinds of activity, however, you are ‘lost’ to Yahweh’s purposes and intentions. Repentance is the first step in partnering with Yahweh to establish His Kingdom of heaven here on the earth.
The New Year is always a good time to evaluate and take inventory of your life as it pertains to His purpose and direction. Can you articulate Yahweh’s vision for you and yours? What changes need to transpire to bring your life into proper alignment and balance with Yahshua’s Kingdom?
Preaching the gospel of the Kingdom can be challenging, especially when you are addressing issues that hit close to one’s heart and convictions, nevertheless, misaligned with a Kingdom mindset. One of those ‘challenging’ topics over the years for me has been the family. Nothing seems to run deeper than the religious ties and bonds of family. And while most of those ties are soulish in nature, they must be challenged and confronted to break down every stronghold and every high thing that elevates itself above the knowledge and revelation of Yahweh.
I remember years ago being confounded by two distinct Scriptures that seemed to contradict one another. The first was Ephesians 1:10 which states,
“that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.” Where I really got hung up was when I remembered that Yahshua stated emphatically in the gospel according to Matthew, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”
As I’m pondering the apparent contradiction of these two passages, the Holy Spirit reminds me of a book I read that explained the concept of “merismos” found in Hebrews 4. You’ll remember this popular passage,
“12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
The idea is simple…for relationships which are joined improperly-not by the Spirit, the only real solution is to divide them into parts again, hence the sword of the Spirit and then realign them the way they were meant to be arranged according to Yahweh’s divine design. Masterful!!!
Now, this statement by Yahshua about His family makes perfect sense,
“46 While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. 47 Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You. 48 But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”
Wow!!! I can almost feel the hair on the back of your neck bristling at the thought. But be reminded, these are the words of Yahshua Himself and the apostle Paul. Yahweh is not interested in violating His divine order and forfeiting His Son’s Kingdom expression in the earth so that insecure family members can escape offense. Yahshua said that the Kingdom suffers the violence of two opposing factions, and in my opinion, the most common battleground is the family.
There is nothing more beautiful and more powerful than a family that has been joined and jointed together in a bond of peace in the spirit of unity. Only the Holy Spirit can accomplish this…let’s give Him something to work with…a good and honest heart-free of petty insecurities.
* Passages taken from the New King James Translation by Thomas Nelson Publishing
One of the greatest insights into the Kingdom of Christ came to me from a magazine article that my wife was reading on a road trip. It happened to be a home decorating magazine and was helping the reader come to conclusions about decorating. The ‘WOW’ moment came when the author asked a simple question, “Are you expressing yourself or trying to impress others?” I have literally applied this question to multiple facets of my Kingdom life that become overly complicated. This simple question usually resets my mind and allows me to take on the mind of Christ in a matter whereby I was becoming confused.
Given this blog is dedicated to family, I would simply ask you this question as it relates to raising and equipping your children, “Are you establishing an environment in your home and adopting a leadership style that allows your children to uniquely express the Christ within them or are you falling into the trap of rearing children to impress others so that your insecurities as a person and parent can be subdued?” I know…apostles are deplorable! But someone has to ask the hard questions no one else wants to ask or be asked.
The fact is that to some in the ‘church’ and the family, behavior modification seems to be more important than expressing the Christ within our children. We are so afraid that someone will embarrass us or make a mistake that we often forfeit the most valuable asset we have in the body of Christ and family-diversity of expression. Just as it is not wise to judge another person’s spirituality on their socioeconomic status or body type, we should not be so quick to arrive at self-righteous pride because our children behave a particular way in comparison to others. In my experience, the extroverted, and sometimes hard to corral, children are likely to become our greatest leaders and will explore the outer reaches of Kingdom expression. However, if we become so concerned with them ‘acting right’, we will ignore the necessary creative solutions to governing their energies toward a constructive future.
Disclaimer: This brief blog is not justifying lawless and dangerous behavior for the sake of Kingdom expression. There must always be a combination of the apostolic (governmental) and prophetic (creative/expressive) qualities that edify and protect those around us. The law of Christ is simply to love your neighbor as you love yourself-so judge accordingly.
I have often stated that family is the greatest expression of the Kingdom of Christ on earth. Now that’s a heady statement in light of another expression that would seem more likely to fit that claim-i.e. the church for instance. Allow me to explain my supposition.
First of all, I arrive at this conclusion given that Yahweh created the family in Genesis and the church in the book of Acts several thousand years later. The very foundation of Yahweh’s creative plan was built on the generational continuance of procreation beginning with Adam and Eve. When Yahweh was so disturbed with the wickedness in the earth (Genesis 6), He saved a father, Noah, and his family to continue the purpose of man to rule, reign and manage the earth from which He receives glory. Israel, a nation Yahweh patiently established to showcase His awesomeness, began with a father, Abraham, and a promise that all families would be blessed through the covenant relationship Yahweh established through him.
Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3
The nation of Israel often referred to their God as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob-remembering Yahweh’s fulfilled promises and ultimate faithfulness to their ancestors. Yahweh has always looked for families by which He would reveal His faithfulness and express His glory.
Today, however, there seems to be an all-out assault on the family. Many books have been written about the devastation that results when there is an absence of a father in the home. A man’s commitment and faithfulness to the wife of his youth (Malachi 2) and the children he pro-generates seems to be shrugged off as easily as one would discard a piece of clothing they no longer find flattering. Even when men do stay in the home, many times their affections and focus are elsewhere (career, hobbies, etc.) and the identification of the children through the father figure is forfeited, many times resulting in children who are insecure and without the confidence to pursue the dreams and visions that Yahweh purposed for them before the foundation of the world.
So how does this tragic tale turn into a story with a happy ending? First of all, we must remember the promise to Abraham, that through his lineage all the families of the earth would be blessed! Yes, Yahshua the Christ, born in the lineage of Abraham, is always the starting point to every reformation. He is the way, the truth and the life-making Him the solution to every problem…and the complexities of family in this day and age have moved well beyond ‘problematic’. Secondly, there has to be a renewed commitment to godly marriages and a kingdom understanding of the dynamics between husband and wife. Next, there must be a discussion of the condition and practices of the home environment and the schedules families have adopted that are actually undermining the family unit. Well, this list could go on for quite some time and I commit myself to addressing these issues and many more in upcoming posts.