Ezekiel 3:1

 I'm studying Ezekiel now. I've read it before, but always shied away from in-depth study because of the first chapter. What on earth is he talking about?!? Wheels? The four creatures? I'm not real big on using commentaries. Simply because I don't like to let someone's words shape my thinking too much when I am studying. I think it can take away from letting the Holy Spirit teach me. I am not bagging on commentaries or those who use them. I am only saying that I can get lazy if I have someone else to do the thinking for me. But I have to admit that I broke down on Ezekiel chapter 1 and got some help. Jon Courson has a really great explanation.
 But, I want to talk about what God showed me in chapter 3 this week.
In verse 1, Ezekiel is told to eat the roll. The roll is God's word for Israel. He is telling Ezekiel to take His words to heart (v 10). That's the same thing we are to do. When you read the Word, ask yourself what it means for you. What does it tell you about yourself, your situation, or God's plan for you.
There should be no "snacking" on God's word. The Bible is God communicating to us. It's how He expresses His character to us. And how He reveals His will for us.
Jesus said in John 4:34, "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me and to finish His work."
Take God's work and do what He gives you to do. For Ezekiel, it was to go to Israel and deliver God's word. What has God given you to do?

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how easily we fall

I edited this from the original post. There was some concern that it would be perceived as gossip.

So I just got a call from a friend. It doesn't matter what the subject of the call was. I was asked a question and apparently didn't give the "right" answer. What I got at the end of the call was, "If you change your mind, give me a real call." What a load of guilt and garbage that is. Does that mean it's only a real phone call if I do what you want? Problem is, I think my friend means well and I really admire this person, so I let it go. I have to anyway. God judges the intent of our hearts...not my job.

We have to understand that we don't know the call God has on someone's life. We think, oh you'd be good at that, or you have talent for this. So what? Is God telling you to do that? I do think that God gives us talents and wants us to use them for His glory...but He has the final say in that.

Serving is hard and I am not suggesting that everything will go smoothly. It won't. There are humans involved, therefore drama. So do yourself a favor and ask God what He wants for you. And DO NOT put your faith in men. It's something we say a lot, but then forget and do it anyway. People stink and they want what they want.

God, I want to serve you in whatever capacity you have for me. Help me to KNOW what that is and how you want me to go about it.

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Why does it hurt more when a Christian hurts you?

This is in response to a post my wife put on her blog.

This is something my wife and I have experienced quite a bit over the past year. Some of my recent blogs have been part of this whole experience. Here’s my 2 cents on why I think it’s more painful when a Christian hurts you.

When you call yourself a Christian, you are saying that you identify with Christ and His character. You are saying that you agree with what Jesus says are the 2 most important things. Namely: 1. Love the Lord your God with all you heart, soul, mind. 2. Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt 22: 37, 39).
Now, there is no expectation that any of us is always going to hit that target 100% of the time. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Rom. 3:23. That isn’t the point. The point is more what you do about it when you do miss. What doesn’t seem to happen often enough is to admit that you acted poorly, selfishly, whatever. I recently had to go do that and what strikes me as funny (sad) is that I had to set up a meeting, get a mediator and have a special gathering in order to apologize to someone. That backs up my feeling that our culture has decided that you can offend someone and then just ignore each other for a while, cool off and forget it ever happened. Because then you never have to look at your own heart or motives. One thing I learned throughout the past six weeks is that even though I may believe the methods and motives of the people who hurt me is at fault, I still play a major part in the success or failure of any relationship.
We also have to take a look at what Love is. Love isn’t always agreeing. Love isn’t just saying nice words. Love is putting the other person first. One aspect of Love is looking out for the other person’s eternal future. Do you care enough about a person to put them first? You may think you are right about something but is it worth the other person’s honor? Is it worth the anger or pain that either or both of you may carry around interfering with your fellowship with God? That doesn’t go away. God does not have a statute of limitations on wronging someone. Matt 5:23-24 says (in my words), “if you know you have an issue with someone, before you come to Me, go fix it.” And, Matt 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
On the other hand, Love also corrects. If someone you know is doing something you know to be sinful and damaging to them, you must tell them. Even though you might be afraid of what the person will think. Jesus rebuked Peter in Mark 8 because Peter’s view was not eternal. He didn’t want to see Jesus killed. But Jesus knew what needed to be done to secure our Redemption. It was important to correct Peter’s thinking and get him in line with the Eternal plan of God.
Proverbs has quite a bit to say about this. Prov. 9:8, 13:1, 24:25. I like Proverbs 27:5 the best, “Open rebuke is better than secret Love.” This, by the way, is an art. I think of myself as a truth-teller. Not in a bragging way, just that the truth is the truth and when I see/hear someone blatantly ignoring or twisting the truth, I am compelled to speak up. I am woefully short on the art part. I come on pretty strong most times. That’s bad. Motive good – Method bad.

So, on and on I go. Sorry. What it comes down to is this: life is hard. The world is cold and getting further from God every day. As Christians, our time with other Christians is supposed to be an escape, of sorts, from the world. When that safety is taken away it can be worse because we were expecting to be spiritually and emotionally hugged and reassured. Our defenses are down. Instead we get a sucker-punch. And as I said before, the response too often is to go to your separate corners and wait for each other to cool off. And the outward anger may dissipate, but I submit that the inner pain may only increase over time as distrust and bitterness take root.

Ok. I think that’s enough for now.

NET: Love the Lord your God with all you heart, soul and mind. Love your neighbor as yourself.

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Now what?

Last night, despite Satan's attempt to thwart it, I was able to close the book on some significant misery. I've been very upset with some people for the past few months. That's over now. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for giving me the courage and strength to do what's right...right in God's eyes, if not mine. Thank you, Kelli, for putting up with my pacing around the house, for being an ear for my babbling, for always supporting me.

I am not going to say that my flesh was satisfied. But, I was obedient and great peace resulted.

Now what? For my wife. She has not had the same opportunity to get things off her chest that I have had. I am not even sure how to make that happen. She was collateral damage from the battle. Her heart has been wounded as a result of the problems between me and other people. We've discussed confrontation, but both know that goes nowhere. I want her unhurt, but only God can do that. I'll continue to pray for her healing and the ability to let it go or the wisdom to take it head on.

Now what? For my kids. My kids don't understand what's going on. They miss their friends. I just keep avoiding their questions. They are young. They will adjust. I have to pray for wisdom to speak to my 6-year-old. He'll understand what I am saying, but might not be able to process the whole thing.

Now what? For me. What is God's will? Where am I supposed to be? I'm told I am welcome wherever I want to go. I no longer want to go where I want to go. I want to go where I am supposed to go...where the gifts the Holy Spirit has given me can and will be used. Much prayer needed along that line. With so many people I know right now, this process seems like trial and error. Undesirable methodology...but I don't know (for 100% certain) that there's a better method. There is always faith involved. There are always people other than yourself involved - whose motives you may misread. However, not serving is not an option.

Lesson: Ask God, "What now?" When He answers, and He will answer, do what He says. Ask Him what He wants you to do. Got an idea? Test it against scripture. Does it fit your gifts and function in the Body? Be sure it came from the Holy Spirit to the best of your ability. Be brutally honest with yourself. God will bring out the truth eventually anyway. Understand, especially if you have a family to lead, that you make no decision in a vacuum. You will affect a LOT of people.
If you ask, "Now what?" before you jump, you can avoid asking, "Now what?" as you clean up the mess as I am now doing.

The good news...God wants to help me clean up the mess. He will absolutely bring beauty from this. My family will grow stronger.

I know I used these verses recently, but they are appropriate.
Heb 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Heb 13:6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

UPDATE: It occurred to me while doing dishes that I didn't mention the fact that there are extremely difficult situations that God allows us to go through. In good times and bad, "Now what?" Think of Job. Horrible times, but he would not turn his back on God. Remember Jonah. He was cruising. God told him to do something...he didn't. From the belly of the great fish, "Now what?" He got back on track.
Anyway, I guess my point is, even when we are in God's will, He may want to refine us further. Trials can be good too.

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follow on to Sunday's Message

I wanted to share what the Holy Spirit was showing me in church yesterday. We are finishing 2 Corinthians. We were in chapter 12 talking about Paul. In chapter 11 he is asking the church at Corinth why they have gotten away from the simplicity of the Gospel that he taught them (v.3). The second half of the chapter talks about Paul's sufferings and "qualifications" to be thought of as authoritatively as the false teachers coming in.
Chapter 12 is where Paul talks about his thorn in the flesh (vv. 7-10). Paul has some infirmity that really bugs him. He asks God three times to take it away. God says, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness."
Paul goes on to say that he glories in the infirmity so that God can be glorified. Verse 10 says that anything that happens to you for Christ's sake is good..."for when I am weak, then am I strong."
That's the part I want to talk about.

This is not exactly a revelation, but something that God has been pounding into me for the last month. When I, that is the physical, fleshly, mortal, corrupt "I", is set aside by me (thereby made unimportant and a weak influence on the situation) God in my life is shown strong. If you set aside your will, your fleshly desires, all that's left is God's will and work in your life.

Let's say a situation is presented where you are working with someone on a project. You may both have an idea about how to solve the problem. What does it actually cost you to give up your idea and go with the other person's idea? A little pride maybe? The upside is you get to show honor to the other person by putting them ahead of you...even though you may have really liked your idea.

In Matthew 22: 36-40, Jesus said there are 2 commandments:
Mat 22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Mat 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Mat 22:38 This is the first and great commandment.
Mat 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Mat 22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Verse 39 does not say to wait for your neighbor to deserve to be treated with the same love and respect you give yourself. It just says to do it.

That is how we are to treat people. Less of me, more of Christ.
John 3:30 "He must increase, but I must decrease."
Interesting that there's a but there. The but can be translated as "moreover" or "now". Meaning Jesus must increase in my life. Now for that to happen, I must decrease. There isn't room for both.

Jesus Christ, whom we say we emulate if we are Christians, was the uber example of the commandments in Matthew 22. Jesus left Heaven, lived 33 years on this Earth, endured rejection from his own people. He died a horribly painful, humiliating death and separation from his heavenly Father (that's the cup He mentions in Gethsemane - God's wrath). Who do we like to say He did that for? You and me, right? Yes, but that's too quaint. Romans 5:8 says, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Jesus did not wait for us to deserve His love. We'll never be worthy of that. That's how much He loves us. And He asks us to let the Holy Spirit empower us to love each other that way.

If you don't have Jesus empowering your life and you want this power, pray this:
God, I know I am a sinner. I am sorry for my sins (mean it). I believe you died on a cross and were raised 3 days later to save me from my sins and an eternity in Hell. Jesus, come into my life. Make me new. Be my savior. In Jesus' name, Amen.

P.S. all I got in church was John 3:30. I guess God wanted me to think a little more about this. :)

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Random thought

Bear with me a bit. I really don't know where this is going just yet.
Have you ever been with a group of friends having a really good time, playing cards for instance, and the next time you are together you try to recreate the moment? You know, you're thinking, that was such a good time, I want to have it again. Have you ever noticed how flat the result is? It's never the same.
(Kinda the opposite of your bad memories...you never want that to happen again. If you are like me, you remember those things vividly and live your life trying to avoid anything that could lead to that event. Talk about bondage.)
Is it because we don't know what the next day could bring and we want to stay in the good times? For me, it's probably related to control. I don't need to control a situation myself, as in being in charge, but I need to know that things are on track.
We need to remember that God has a plan. It's been running since time began...

Isa 51:13 And forgettest the LORD thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth...

and He knew the outcome before time began...

Rom 8:28-31 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

Most importantly, there's nothing in God's plan that's bad for you.

Jer 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Maybe where this was going is this...
Face every day and ask God what He wants you to do that day. Serve God and glory in His presence today. He's here with you now. He's not in an event or trapped in a moment of your past, good or bad. He's in your life and He wants to do something great through you. Ask Him what that is.
Jer 33:2 Thus saith the LORD the maker thereof, the LORD that formed it, to establish it; the LORD is his name;
Jer 33:3 Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

If you don't know whether God is with you, pray this:
God, I know I am a sinner. I am sorry for my sins (mean it). I believe you died on a cross and were raised 3 days later to save me from my sins and an eternity in Hell. Jesus, come into my life. Make me new. Be my savior. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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Gotta get back

So, I've been in a rather bad place for a couple of months. As so often happens, I didn't even know how bad it was. Suffice it to say that I am on my way out. The Holy Spirit is leading me through the process. Quite gracious (as we know God is) considering I pushed him away as I was headed off in the flesh. Unintentionally, but nevertheless...

I've caused my share of pain as well. I am so thankful for the brother who so easily forgave me today.

Here's what I know for sure:
Heb 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Heb 13:6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
Heb 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.
Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (emphasis mine)

There are still a lot of things rattling around in my head. I am getting a lot of help from the Holy Spirit (lots of conviction that I needed) through Miles McPherson. I'd really like to meet him some day.

I will write what I can here. I don't know how much I should or shouldn't say. I don't want to gossip or disparage anyone even if I don't use names. I'll pray about it. But I think it's important to organize my thoughts, test them against scripture, and just get it out.

See you soon...

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