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If This Cup Can Pass (New Church Lady)

The most moving prayer in the Bible, in my opinion, is this one, spoken by Jesus on the night He was betrayed:

Luke 22:41-42 [NIV] He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.

We know that God, our loving Father, did not remove that cup and allowed His only begotten Son to suffer and die. Instead, the Father looked on as He was beaten and mocked, crucified and ridiculed, gasped for breath and forgave His persecutors. 

God said, “No,” to our Messiah so that He could fulfill the role for which He was born into human form. We understand why the Father said, “No” in this situation. 

However, I wonder what it was like for God, as the Father, to witness the consequences of going through with the plan as it had been ironed out at the foundation of the world – to say the inevitable and unavoidable “no” at that time – in the face of His only begotten Son sweating  “like great drops of blood.” I don’t imagine Him regretting His decision at all, but I do wonder what it was like for Him. 

I wonder what it was like for the angels in heaven. Jesus said He could have called down ten thousand angels. Did they have their swords in hand, ready to bolt to earth? Were they thinking, “Forget mankind! They don’t deserve the Messiah!”

We know a little bit about what it was like for the disciples -- terrifying! They slept through the opportunity to join our Savior in His prayer vigil, and when they woke up, they woke up to trouble coming at them with swords and spears. I’m sure there was little time to think – only time to react and most of them reacted by running away as fast as they could.

I have spoken my own, “if you are willing, take this cup from me” prayers in my life, because there have been times in my life when I thought “I just cannot go through this!” Or “please don’t make me do this!” I’ve prayed similar prayers about others as well – asking God to take away their disease, emotional pain or other trial. God said, “No.” People suffered. I had to face making the tough choices I didn’t want to make. I had to live through what seemed unendurable and endure it. I have seen family and friends have to do the same. 

How about you? 

Make no mistake, God answers prayer. He says, “Yes.” He says, “Wait.” He says, “No.” In most cases, we will never know in this life why He answered our requests as He did. 

And even though none of us can make the case that we do not deserve death and often cannot even make that case that it is unfair to go through whatever trial we are going through, or that we don’t deserve to go through it, I wonder what it is like for God when He says “no” to us. 

In the next life, when we stand in the bema and receive the judgment and the reward for our lives, will we then have the opportunity to say “why?” and hear the reasoning? Will God say, “Look here at the patience you built that time I said, wait? Will He say, “See how your faith was strengthened in that trial you thought you couldn’t endure.” “See the love for Me that you gained, the wisdom that you received, the understanding that was revealed when we walked this trial together.” Or will we even care by the time we get to that point?  

Our church announcement bulletin has folks still suffering from cancer. Loving Father, if this cup could pass…

A friend is facing surgery. Another is facing a family trial. Another is struggling with addiction. Father, if this cup could pass…

For Christ Jesus, although He asked for removal of the suffering He was about to face, there just was no other way. He was the only One who was the Perfect Lamb of God – the only One who ever could be. God sent Him here in the perfect timing and on the Kingdom schedule. Together, they lived out the plan just as they had designed it together. 

For us mere mortals, I believe it is possible in any given circumstance that God might just have multiple options and opportunities to bring us along in the faith. In other words, it wouldn’t necessarily be the only way for us to grow. 

Therefore, I don’t plan to stop asking God to pass the cup along if there is any other way, whenever I face a tough situation or see others facing one or read of difficulty and disaster in the world. I believe the Father is moved by our suffering and is moved by our sincere petitions for ourselves, our friends, for strangers and for those who would be our foes. I believe that we can change His mind. 

Ultimately, praise God, all suffering will pass. This life, the world’s governments and religions and twisted values will pass away and be no more. 

Revelation 21:4 [NKJV] And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.

This is the hope of all mankind. It is the result of God the Father saying, “No” to His only begotten Son, when our Messiah said, “If this cup can pass.”

In that day, the “cup of suffering” that each and every human being has endured will be removed. Without that “No” from God to Jesus, this world would have no hope. Now we have hope – hope in this life and hope for eternity to come. 

I try to keep in mind, when God is clearly saying, “no” to me, that it is precisely that “no” to Jesus that allows me to be here, standing before the throne of God in prayer, communing with Him as with a friend. I am grateful for that “no” that Jesus was willing to endure to save me. 

Revelation 22:17 [NKJV] And the Spirit and the bride say, Come! And let him who hears say, Come! And let him who thirsts come. Come, Lord Jesus, come.

God speed the day when this cup will pass. In the meantime, may the Father answer all your prayers with a “Yes” – unless the best answer is “No” or “Wait.”

I welcome your thoughts, comments and questions. You can write to me at Nancy@DynamicChristianMinistries.org.

When Virtue Becomes Vice (Morning Companion)

Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise.
Why should you destroy yourself? (Ecclesiastes 7:16 ESV)

If you haven't heard of the “Great Plastic Straw” campaign in the state of California, here's the scoop.

Ian Calderon, Majority Leader of the California State Assembly introduced a bill that would forbid waiters and waitresses from handing out straws unless they were specifically requested. Violation of the law could result in up to a six month prison sentence and a $1,000 fine. (I am not making this up.)

It was with some fascination that I followed a Facebook conversation on this subject, surprised at the number of people who think this initiative is wonderful. They cited a study indicating that 500 million plastic straws are discarded every day, and that this is a huge blot on the environment. When it was pointed out that the 500 million figure was based on a nine year olds school paper (again, I am not making this up) and not by a peer reviewed study, the answer was more revealing than the defender of the cause knew. “If it’s only 5 million per day, that’s still a bad thing, isn’t it? Yes or no."

Yes, it would be a good thing to minimize the number of straws that land in landfills and land on landscapes, but at the sacrifice of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine?

Right there it was obvious that we were dealing with a virtue that was becoming a vice. The vice was lying about the extent of the problem presumably because the ends justify the means.

When we elevate one virtue above all others, it becomes a vice. Turning a virtue into a god will turn it into a demon.

Think of it. Marxism touts the virtue of equality. The principle of equality, properly understood, can be thought of as a virtue. But if it becomes the supreme virtue, “by any means necessary”, it can easily become its underlying enactment philosophy. Millions of kulaks were starved to death, the educated massacred, property and foodstuffs confiscated, and suspected dissidents either summarily executed or sent to the gulags in Siberia. All for the “greater good”.

Or suppose liberty is raised above all other virtues. Liberty is a gift from God, but when it is elevated to the level of a goddess, the goddess of Liberty can quickly become an enslaving demon. When Liberty is placed above a greater moral law, people and cultures are transformed from freedom to license, from generosity to greed, from community to self-gratification. The goddess turned demon creates a world of anarchy, laying the foundation for coercion in an attempt to bring order. Freedom is lost and tyranny reigns.

With Great California Straw campaign, virtue is becoming vice. In attempting to elevate a civic virtue, other virtues are violated “by any means necessary”. In being overly righteous, they just might destroy themselves.

The Ring Tone of Truth (Sabbath Meditations)

Several months ago I decided to change the ring tone on my cell phone. I had never really liked the default tone that was on the phone when I purchased it but didn’t want to hassle with trying to figure out how to select something different. But one afternoon, finding myself with some time to kill and feeling adventurous, I decided I was ready for a change. I scrolled through the various options available, but none of them really appealed to me. They all sounded, for lack of a better word, a little too “new-agey.”

I was just about to give up when I heard a tone that I knew was the one for me. It was the sound of an old fashioned telephone ringing. Something about that ring just made me feel good. In the midst of our digitalized, techno driven world, this seemingly insignificant sound bite from the past spoke to me.

So, after a little trial and error, I successfully selected it as my ring tone and didn’t think about it again. That is, until I sat at the airport gate waiting for my flight. Within the space of the hour or so, I heard my phone ring at least four or five times. But each time I pulled it out of my pocket to answer, I discovered the ring wasn't coming from my phone, but from some other phone owned by someone among the mass of humanity swirling around me.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one who had found comfort in that familiar, old-fashioned ring. It could have just been an odd coincidence. But possibly, just maybe, it was more than that. Maybe it was a manifestation of one of those traits about being human that we all share. With so much changing around us, maybe that familiar ring spoke to a deep-seated need within all of us for consistency and stability. Maybe we're drawn to those things that, no matter how small or insignificant, give us a sense of grounding.

Hebrews 13:8 tells us that Jesus Chris is the same yesterday, today and forever. In Malachi 3:6 we read, “I am the Lord, I change not.”

All around us economies are in turmoil. Wars and rumors of wars are sprouting from every corner of the globe. Forces are at work in our schools, the media and even in some of our churches to undermine many of the core values in which we believe. As believers, how encouraging is it for you and I to know that there is one thing that never changes. There is one thing grounded solid bedrock. Our God - His way, His love, the truth that is His Word - never changes. We don’t have to be, like so many in this world, anxious, fearful and insecure about tomorrow. In a world that is swirling with change, our feet are firmly planted.

I don’t know about you, but I draw a lot of comfort from that knowledge. As we who read God’s Word know, this world is only going to become more chaotic as the end approaches. People that don’t know Him are going to become increasingly anxious and desperate as this physical system on which they depend crumbles around them. You and I, having our feet firmly planted, will be in a unique position to lead them to solid ground.
I’m thankful that I don’t need to rely on things that are passing away for consistency and stability. As the chaos and change in this world speeds up, I’ll cling to the things I know will never change.

I do like my new ringtone though.

R.S.V.P. (Children of God)

If Jesus were to say to you, "follow Me," what would your answer be? We understand that we should not answer with the question: "Where?" The right answer is: "I'll follow in your footsteps to become like you, and please help me to do so." Jesus wants us to follow Him in His way of life.

How did you respond when you were called into the Church and Jesus asked you to follow Him? "Réspondez, S'il Vous Plaît." Just how deep was your commitment to follow Christ? When Jesus said to His disciples, "follow Me," little did they realize the tremendous calling that had been initiated (John 1:43).

We are aware that not everyone who received the invitation to become one of Jesus's disciples RSVP'd in the positive. Jesus invited a certain ruler to follow Him who did not accept the invitation: "When Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich." (Luke 18:22-23)

How many supposed brethren, today, RSVP in the negative by their actions. First, they say "Yes, we will follow you," but then they do not. Look at this Scriptural example where those who were invited said, "Yes," but they did not change their ways by putting on the wedding garments of the righteousness of Christ: "Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

"And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22:9-14)
So, the Bible reveals that most of those who receive an invitation to the better resurrection, RSVP, but do not follow through by embracing the Christianity of Christ, and do not remain faithful to the end.
"And they that are with Him [Jesus Christ] are called, and chosen, and faithful." (Revelation 17:14)

Brethren, this is a tremendous warning to us not to "play church." These words are for us today: "Then said one unto Him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." (Luke 13:23-24) How do we RSVP to our invitation, and how do we treat our calling after our initial response? "The promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." (Acts 2:39)

Yes, we have been invited; we have been called: "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:44) Jesus said, "Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father." (John 6:65) Let's not forget that we are called out of this world. We cannot bring the world's ways in among God's people.

"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fail (of salvation)."
(2 Peter 1:4-10)

That means that, not only do we RSVP in the positive to God's calling, we follow through by living our Christianity. Like our brethren before us, we are called to be saints. "You also the called of Jesus Christ: To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints." (Romans 1:6-7) "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints." (1 Corinthians 1:2)

Réspondez, s'il vous plaît, by making your calling and election sure.

Playing Whack a Mole! (The Word and The Way)

In Caddyshack, a corny comedy from the 1980s, the groundskeeper, played by Bill Murray, goes through a series of increasing ridiculous scenarios to try to get rid of a gopher who is doing minor damage to the golf course. The crescendo of this insanity is Murray’s character actually blowing up the golf course, and the gopher gets away. Now for the scripture and the tie-in:

“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:1-5 NASB)

For the past four or five years, our movement has been playing “whack a mole” with ludicrous doctrines. Every year some new strange doctrine comes up and then those who would normally be talking about sound doctrine go to war trying to tamp down the strange doctrine. This scenario has come to such a climax that we’ve seen multiple strange doctrines come up just in 2017. It’s a gigantic game of “whack-a-mole” and guess what? The movement is a smoldering mess. In the name of YouTube hits or website traffic, we have gone full sensationalist. Those who propose the “next new thing” are lusting after attention in the form of web traffic. Those who just can’t take the bad teaching any more are fighting an endless battle, because we feel, if someone doesn’t fight back, then the madness will win out. But, again, this has left our golf course in ruins. It’s to a point where we are literally damaging the sheep. In one of a few anecdotal incidents, I recently had a conversation with a believer in the north-east who refused to go to Sukkot because of the crazy teachings circulating in the movement. She simply can’t take it any more and regards the holy assembly as being profane.

So what do we do? Clearly the “whack-a-mole” track isn’t working out. All it is doing is elevating false teachers and creating division. I say we ignore it. Instead of scouring the internet looking for some new thing to slam, why not go nuts and read our bibles? Or perhaps perform an in-depth study on a section of the bible using actually credible resources? Why not take a month and read Josephus, the Antiquities of the Jews, and really understand the context of first century Judea. Why not just return to our first loves, actual truth, and meditate on the WORD like we are supposed to do. Sukkot 2017 in Wewoka wasn’t burdened down with esoteric and strange doctrines and, guess what? It was kind of nice and relaxing. So let’s start filling in those craters and replanting some grass. That’s what I’m going to do.

Divided ... We Stand (New Horizons)

Many brethren continue to hanker after the dream of a single unified church embracing all the varied assemblies, large and small, corporate or independent. Indeed one church group insists that all of us must gather under its roof in order to escape their projected terrors ahead of us.

It doesn't take much study of the Scriptures to demonstrate that this condition of ‘corporate unity’ has never existed—not in the New Testament church of God, and certainly not in the ensuing centuries under the shocking and corrupt history of the mediaeval church.

In the New Testament each assembly was self-governing while respecting other assemblies. Perverse human nature drove a move for domination by power-hungry ‘Christian’ leaders and the distortion of the title ‘bishop’, with the proliferation of myriad pseudo-religious ‘titles’. Church leadership titles—even up to ‘pope’—for over a thousand years became a commodity for sale to the highest bidder, or for sexual favours.

The simplicity of those first assemblies evolved to a multiplicity of church offices, becoming a secular world-dominating organization whose tentacles all but strangled the Christian faith. All dissent was smothered by the infamous Inquisition—enthusiastically endorsed by eighty popes over five centuries—by which thousands were hideously and callously maimed and murdered and massacred, in the name of Jesus Christ. Those few who remained faithful to the Bible were more often than not cruelly martyred by the ‘church’.

We are, perhaps, more civilised today (and civil law forbids murder). But the same tendency to dominate underpins the multiplicity of our denominations. Assemblies with little to divide doctrinally gather to worship separately, sometimes in the same building at the same time! The clue? The ruling clique, the apostle, the ‘king’ inherits a band of devoted, but often unthinking, followers in support. Once the reins of power have been gained, leaders tend to keep a tight grip on their authority—and impose it.

It’s time for change. Not to organizational union, but for a return to the New Testament pattern of individual assemblies, serving the church and proclaiming the Good News of salvation through Jesus, and in co-operation with one another.

Who is my mother? (Think Red Ink Ministries)
Mark 3:33, “And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren?
Let’s look at the first time the incorruptible seed of God conceived life. The story of the birth of Christ is not given to us to make a celebration or a day of giving gifts. It is given as a glimpse of the marvelous work of God as He joins us, in this life. It is a picture of the birth that is to occur in all of us.
Emmanuel - meaning ‘God with US!’
When the angel appeared and made his salutation to Mary, his greeting contained a declaration of favor: “Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” The awareness of being favored, accorded to those who are visited by the Holy Spirit, is nearly absent today.
Somewhere among the dialogue of ‘whosoever will’ and indiscriminate ‘Jesus Loves You’ bumper stickers, we have laid aside the glorious doctrine of election and adulterated the sovereignty of our God.
We have come to expect our God to promptly answer when we call, but when the Creator of the universe visits you, it is a wonderful day, and you are highly favored, “...for thou hast found favour with God.” (Luke 1) “[We] were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:13)
‘Christmas’ Has Hidden the Story of the New Birth
Then the angel explained to Mary what was about to happen: “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)
We see here that the “holy thing” is Christ. After questioning the impossibility of such a proposal and being assured that it would be as God said, Mary submitted to the will of God and surrendered herself totally to Him. “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:38)
In this story we can begin to see a parallel to the experience we call being born again. We see the overshadowing or visitation, the expectation of an impossibility, the questioning within, and finally the submission to the higher One. When we reach this point of submission we have the seed of God implanted in us.
This seed has within it the DNA structure of a new you in Christ. As Mary was to carry Christ within her for the next nine months and then give birth, it is our responsibility to care for and nurture that seed to birth and finally, maturity.
Paul spoke of this mystery. “To whom God would make known ... this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you.” (Colossians 1:27) In Ephesians 4:15, Paul spoke also of our growing up into Christ, “But speaking the truth in love, [we] may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.”
As you submit to God in this process of the new birth, He places His seed within you. The new birth is not an instantaneous one that takes place the second you pray a ‘sinner’s prayer’ as is commonly taught today. First, there is a visitation, a yielding, and then a pregnancy, which you are expected to nurture and care for, till it comes to the time of birth. If you do not cherish the new Seed of Christ, you could miscarry and lose this “holy thing” within.
The doctrine of instantaneous ‘new birth on demand’ is faulty and misleading. There are scores of people still struggling with sin and trying to reconcile their present wretched lives with their past experience of being ‘born again’. When, in reality, their visitation only planted a seed that they must bring to the birth by responsible and caring behavior.
Remember that the Scripture says, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.” (John 1:12) We have been given the “power to become” just as a woman impregnated has been given the potential to bring forth life.
The care and nurture necessary to bring about this new birth successfully is to be guided by Christ, to be a disciple, and carrying one’s own ‘cross’ - to do the will of the Father. In fact, being a disciple is living under the discipline that creates the proper environment for the new birth. No one can successfully bring new life into an environment hostile to the nature of the life conceived in them. You cannot force the lips of Christ in us, to tell lies, nor force His hands to strike, His mouth to curse or His heart to worship idols and yet expect this holy Seed to thrive.
You must first learn to obey His Commandments and do His will to successfully bring about a live birth of the Seed within. Luke 14:27, “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” You must DO the will of God to care for, and not miscarry, the seed within. After you have been ‘mother’ to this holy life within you, it is then that you are born into the family of Christ, and have become brothers and sisters of His.
Second, after prenatal development, comes the birth, and ‘mothering’ of this new ‘Christ in you’ and is a matter of feeding, protecting and maturing. As Peter says, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” (1 Peter 2:2) Being born again consists of the Spirit and Life of Christ being born in you. “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:7) “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1 Peter 1:23)
On this particular day when Jesus was teaching and ministering to His followers, His mother Mary and His brothers were standing outside the place and were calling to Him. For what cause He was ignoring them, is unknown. Whether it was for this lesson alone or for other reasons, we don’t know. The crowd told him that His mother and brothers were outside and wanted to see Him, and Jesus asked a profound thing. “Who is my mother?”
As you consider the holy child that you are carrying and birthing as raising the seed of God, ‘Christ in you’, you may now see new depth to the question of Christ, “Who is my Mother?”
This is a question you need not answer, as the answer is given quickly afterward: ‘And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples said, “Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God my Father the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother”.’
Do your utmost, dear friends, to achieve this worthy life, ‘Christ in you’.