Posted by: forfreedomalone | 08/05/2018

The sweetest fruit.

Have you ever though that the belief that Adam did not eat of the Tree of Life, is just church tradition?
 
If the Tree of Life is Jesus, the fruit of the Tree is relationship with God. Adam had a relationship with God, before he disobeyed Him, eating of his “daily bread” would have been a natural thing to do.
 
Bringing about the fall of mankind took a once and for all action…eating the rotten fruit, but maintaining a relationship with God requires a daily action….eating of the life giving fruit.
 
Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” (John 17:3). Eternal life comes to us by eating the fruit of the Tree of Life, it is ongoing relationship with the Father and, a relationship which could not continue after eating of the forbidden fruit, hence the Cherub with the flaming sword.
 
When Jesus made the way clear for us to re-enter that relationship the Tree of Life was once again available for us to eat of its fruit; but ONLY by first having relationship with the Son. “No one come to the Father but by me”, said Jesus (John 14:6) and prefaced this with, “I am the Way”.
 
To have found the Way and returned to the Tree, but to think we must eat of its fruit but once is to deceive ourselves. We need daily bread, we need constant relationship. Jesus said that whoever eats of the Bread of Life and drinks of the Water of Life will never hunger or thirst again, but the hunger and thirst he spoke of were the hunger and thirst which drove us to take that first bite or sip. From here on, we should be hungering and thirsting for more of the same. The Song of Songs tells us of this hunger and thirst.
 
I have no doubt that Adam ate from the Tree of Life and experienced the sweet fruit of knowing God. It affected his life in every possible way…even to exceedingly long life for him and many of his descendants….so the loss of that life would have been devastating. I am sure, if he were here today, he would tell us, do not, for one moment, take for granted the life giving fruit which is available to you now. Eat of it constantly and allow its life giving properties to full you. There is no sweeter fruit you will ever find.
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Posted by: forfreedomalone | 05/05/2018

Is God really a rapist?

“Hang on”, you may be saying, “that’s a bit strong!” But I feel in my heart I need to say this as so many seem to be espousing a doctrine of spiritual rape.

I was the victim of sexual abuse as a child and of rape as a young adult. When I read  comments about God loving me, saving me and forgiving me of all things no matter what I think, believe, want or do, I feel the same sense of helpless rage I felt then.
I did not ask for that, I didn’t want it, I cannot escape it and I have no power to overcome it and get away. I am trapped in this abusive relationship and a victim of, in this case, so called ‘love’.

That is NOT love. That is abuse.

I know that God loves me and will always be gracious towards me. I know he has paid all my ‘spiritual’ bills. BUT, he then steps back and waits for me to approach him. He does not force himself on me.  A lover will take me to tea and pay my bill. He will walk me home and make sure I am safe. He will be filled with feelings of love and adoration towards to me, he will provide for me in kind ways and will woo me, he will long for the next time we can get together; however, I can choose to reject him. A rapist will force himself on me. He will not woo, he will not care about how I feel or what I want. Where is the joy, peace and love in being trapped with a rapist? Why would I rejoice in that?

I rejoice that I can come to someone who is gentle and respectful, that I can pull back and he will stand and await my next move, that I decide the speed at which we become intimate and, when I am fully comfortable with him and his intentions, I decide to abandon myself to him. Then all that he is and has become mine, he will pour himself into our relationship, I will be overwhelmed by him and his provision in every sphere. There will be no powerlessness, no feeling of rage and no desire to get away, but a greater and greater desire to submit to his tenderness and love.

As I abandon myself to this lover, I change. I cannot help but be affected by his love for me. It will soften my heart, cause me to be more tender in response and that tenderness will affect all around me. I will no longer want to do things which my love does not do, I will no longer want to use language my love does not use. I will, as naturally as the flow of a river, change to match his image, as I respond to his loving invitation to go deeper and deeper into relationship with him.

There is a subtle, but critical, difference between sexual relations between  a man and a woman which are love and which are abuse and that subtle difference is called, “free will choice”, or “consent”. So it is in relationship with God.

He has done all that is required for us to approach him and begin a relationship with him, he is all that we need to fully abandon ourselves to him and find all fulfilment in him, but then he steps back and asks, “Do you consent to this relationship?”. We are FULLY free to say, “No” and walk away. If we are not, the resulting relationship is called, “rape”. God is no abuser, he awaits, at every step of the relationship, your consent to be drawn deeper and deeper until you are fully submitted to him.

Posted by: forfreedomalone | 05/05/2018

Perfect Light

To a dalang, light is very important.
A dalang is a puppet master in the Javanese Wayang (or shadow) theatre.

There is great skill in moving the wayang kulit (shadow puppets) as they dance and move about the screen telling epics of Indonesian history and culture. But the skill of the dalang is lost if the light is wrong. A certain quality, strength and type of light is important. If it is too dark, no one can see the wayang kulit, if it is too bright the same thing happens, as they are overwhelmed by the light. When the correct light is achieved the puppets come to life. The light does not change Bimo or Nakula, (characters in stories) from who they are as they tell their story, it allows them to BE who they are so that their story can be told.

Who would know or understand what is being enacted if it cannot be seen clearly?

So it is when we surrender to the light of the life of the Holy Spirit within us. His perfect light shines in us and allows us to be who we were created to be, but with such easy and grace people really see who we are.

The delicate wayang kulit are so very beautiful when you see them behind the screen, but when they are before it, dancing with the energy of the dalang and the perfect hue of the light, they are entrancing.

Selah.

Posted by: forfreedomalone | 03/05/2018

Are you being resisted?

“Would you like to hear from God for yourself? We are offering classes beginning next week and they are on special offer this week at only $500 for the course. This course will teach you how to hear from God, will endow you with the spirit of understanding and equip you for your ministry.”
 
So ran the offer I was made this morning.
 
Somewhere, in the back of my mind a bell was ringing but I couldn’t quite locate it. Later it came to me; a similar opportunity is talked about in Acts 8.
 
Here, Simon, a chap who lived in the city of Samaria, had heard the preaching and teaching of the Apostles and has seen the miracles they performed. He wasn’t so much interested in a course on hearing from God as he was on the power to do miracles…but he was very willing to pay the going rate.
 
Peter’s response was unequivocal, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!”. The gifts of God are NOT for sale. That’s why they are called, “Gifts”.
 
No one can teach us HOW to hear the voice of God. They can help us learn how to identify when the voice is God and when it is not, but they cannot teach us HOW to hear. We learn to hear, by practising listening. However, oddly, few people, actually, need to learn to listen, but many need to learn to obey. Many say, “Oh yes, I hear God speaking; but I don’t feel that what I hear is quite right for me”.
 
Seriously?
YOU are going to set yourself above God and decided what is for you, when you are quite sure He has just told you what is best?
 
This is called, “Pride” and the outcome of pride is not, as so many think, “a fall”, but “destruction”. (Prov 16:18) Pride was satan’s problem, it is at the root of all rebellion against God. Pride sets ‘self’ above God and the results are never good. Pride needs to be humbled; either by ourselves or by God and, believe me, it is better that it comes from ourselves.
 
No one in right relationship with God says, “No, I don’t think so” to the Lord of lords. The very fact they would say “No” tells us they are not in right relationship. So what is right relationship?
God is head over ALL and we humble ourselves at his feet. This is right relationship.
 
Have you ever noticed how Jesus was always elevating the Father, the Father was always elevating the Son and both were always elevating the Holy Spirit? Humility results in God elevating you; because humility is the opposite of pride and God says he resists the proud, but give grace to the humble. (Prov 3:34, quoted in James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5).
 
When Jesus was asked which was the greatest commandment he responded with, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Every Jew of his day knew what this was, this was the She’ma. It begins, a couple of verses earlier, with, “She’ma Yisrael, Adonai eloheinu, Adonai echad”, “Hear, Israel, Adonai (actually, YHVY Yehovah, the personal name of God) is our God, Adonai is One”.
 
The word, “She’ma” does not mean, “Pay attention and grasp the words I am about to speak”, it means, “Pay attention with the intention of hearing and then obeying”. This is not about mindless, fearful, obedience, it is about a heart, humbled before God which longs to know him and obey his wishes.
 
We do not need classes in hearing God, we need to obey what we have already heard and to do that, we need hearts submitted to God in loving adoration.
Posted by: forfreedomalone | 24/04/2018

Acts, Way or Heart?

Which is it that you desire?

To be as Israel and know God’s acts?
To be as Moses and know God’s ways?
or
To be as David and know God’s heart?

You will have what you desire, but for which are you willing to contest?

Israel had to pay the ‘price of acts’, Moses the ‘price of ways’ and David the ‘price of the heart’.

Everything has its price; you can’t have the costly things at cheap price, but if you are willing to pay the price, the costly things turn out to be beyond price.

Which is it that you desire?

Posted by: forfreedomalone | 30/03/2018

Know your friends and guard your heart

I was asked by a ministerial friend if I had ever checked the mutual friends list of a well known Inclusionist teacher. I hadn’t so I did. I was shocked to see how many mutual friends we had. Quite a number were also in ministry and so I was not at all concerned about them, but quite a few were not. I then checked the pages for several more well know teachers of Inclusionism/Universalism and found the same mutual friends.

Proverbs 4:23a tell us that we must “Guard your heart above all else”, why? Proverbs 4:23b answers that, “because out of it come all the issues of life”; or as the NLT puts it, “for it determines the course of your life”. Every aspect of how you live will be determined by what is in your heart and YOU are responsible for what gets in there.

Friends, do not be buffeted about by the winds of doctrine, do not be lead by the nose as a dog, do not be subject to Cheerleader Christianity. Know the Scripture for yourself, pray for wisdom and understanding as you read and be willing to face what you would rather ignore.

It may offend your human heart that God will not take every human being to heaven and that many will spend eternity in hell, but it offends his divine heart to force the people he loves where they do not want to go. His ways are not our ways.

It may be beyond your understanding that the Cross was the answer to the sin of the world, but we are not called to understand it, we are called to accept it. His ways are NOT our ways.

It may perplex your mind that you need forgiveness for something you, personally, didn’t do, but you are not asked to comprehend, you are asked to believe and repent. HIS ways are not our ways.

His ways are higher and purer and more powerful and efficacious and perfect than our ways. We cannot improve upon the perfection which is the gift of God’s love, grace, forgiveness and mercy; we can only believe.

Check who your friends are, be aware of what they are saying, question before you ‘like’ and above all else guard your heart; allow only the truth of God’s word in and the power of God’s love out; because this will determine the course of your whole life.

Posted by: forfreedomalone | 29/03/2018

Cheerleader Christianity

Not long after we first came to North America we came across cheerleaders. I did not know then and I do not know now what they are for, but I have surmised over the years that they are ordained to make a huge racket about nothing, when things go quiet and to, thereby, keep people’s emotions heightened and minute attentions spans on something.
 
In Scotland, going to rugby matches, we watched the game and, when things went quiet for an injury or half-time, we talked to other people near us, often strangers and frequently from the opposition. During play our emotions and attention were firmly on the players and the unfolding match; the rest of the time we enjoyed a rest and the fellowship of others. We didn’t need all the hype and pumping up of emotions to keep our interest or to remind us why we were there. Entertainment, if that is what was wanted, was provided by the players themselves.
 
I see a parallel in the church today with, what I call, Cheerleader Christianity. Everyone is a cheerleader, everyone wants to be ‘encouraged’ or buoyed up in their emotions. A ‘good word’ is not one of correction or clarification on scripture but one which makes one ‘feel good’. Services are not designed to teach and build up in the most holy faith those who attend, but to entertain with ear shattering ‘music’ and a message which can be responded to in the instant with, ‘preach it’ or ‘AMEN!’.
 
This kind of ‘Christianity’ is a long way removed from the kind the disciples saw in their days of following Jesus about Judea. Half the time they had no idea what he was talking about, most of the time they were required to mull over his words looking for meaning and on no occasion was there any music whatsoever. Jesus never sought to affect the emotions of his followers, he didn’t shy away from telling the pointed truth, even though he did so in love. He wasn’t interested in being encouraged to ‘preach it’, nor in the ‘amen’s of people. He wanted to lead people closer to the person of the Almighty God; the God who was his father and whom he loved more than life itself.
 
When we or our friends and family are ‘down’ and need ‘encouragement’ they do not need us lifting their spirits with words which make them feel happier, they need sound scriptural teaching which builds up faith, which returns their wobbly feet to the solid rock and strengthens the foundation of truth. We MAY feel better for those words, but we may not. How we feel doesn’t matter, truth matters.
 
If a person can receive words which build their faith and there is an improvement in mood as a result that is a good thing, but aiming straight for the emotions is to miss the desired target. Let us build one another up, bearing one another’s burdens and strengthening one another’s faith with sound words of Scriptural truth. We don’t need cheerleaders filling in the silence, we can rest then in the full and certain knowledge that when the game begins again, we will be no longer spectators but players.
Posted by: forfreedomalone | 29/03/2018

Ishtar or יהוה?

Tomorrow, approximately two thousand and eighteen years ago, the Passover lamb, which had been chosen as perfect from among all the possible lambs and set aside for four days, was killed.This lamb’s blood was not painted on the doorposts of any houses, as this Passover was in commemoration of that first occasion when, by the command of God, the Israelites had set aside a lamb, killed it, painted the blood on the doorposts of their houses and remained inside, eating the lamb and unleaven bread, dressed ready to flee Egypt.

In homes all over the land of Judah and in the homes of Jews who had left that land for countries farther away, the exact same commemoration was taking place. At twilight the lamb was killed and roasted, it was eaten in celebration of the freedom God had brought to the Jewish people who were slaves in the ‘house of bondage’. This night, 2,018 years ago was little different, except for one small way, a difference which more or less went unnoticed……while the people were offering up their lambs, God was offering up his own.

At the moment when the lambs were to be killed, the Lamb of God died on a cross, so that his blood could be painted on the doorposts of the heart. The physical Israelites were saved from bondage to slavery by the physical blood of an animal. Spiritual Israel is saved from bondage to the slavery of sin by the blood of God’s own son. This was the fulfilment of Passover in the spiritual. But Passover is not a stand alone holy day, it is part of a three day, holy day, so Jesus had more to do then just died.

In Luke 11:29 & 30 Jesus spoke to, ” the crowds (who) were thickly gathered together, He began to say, “This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation”.

He drew a clear parallel between Himself, as the Son of Man and Jonah. What happened to Jonah will happen to Jesus (in a manner of speaking) So what happened to Jonah?
Jonah 1:15- 17 tells us.

“So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the LORD and took vows.
Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”

The ‘sign of Jonah’ was that Jesus would be in the grave for “three days and three nights”.

Next, Mark 16:9 tells us, “Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons.”

So, when we put our information together we have this picture.
This is the Feast of Passover. The Passover lamb was to be take on the 10th day of Nisan and set aside (this was the day Jesus entered Jerusalem). On the 14th day of Nisan the lamb is to be slaughtered at “twilight” and the blood placed upon the door posts. This was the moment of Jesus Crucifixion. John 16:14 tells us, “Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold your King!””. The lambs were to be killed at the ninth hour and that was when Jesus died.

The church, which has, more or less totally, rejected its Jewish roots, usually teaches that this was the day of preparation for the Sabbath, but it was not, it was the Day of Preparation for Passover. This was the day on which all leaven had to be removed from the house, as instructed in Exodus 12:15. Leaven, as we see from many of the things Jesus said, represents sin.

Passover is the second Feast of the Lord and is, in fact, three Feasts rolled into one. On the 14th you have Passover proper, as soon as it is deemed the change of days, at sundown, (like we would deem midnight) it becomes the Feast of Unleaven Bread, which is a 7 day long feast running until the 21st Nisan. On the 16th Nisan is the Feast of First Fruits, when the first fruit of the wheat harvest was taken to the Temple and offered to God.

So we have Passover, Unleaven Bread and First Fruits on three consecutive days.

Jesus was the Passover lamb, killed at twilight on the 14th. He had to be in the grave before sunset, as that would then be the 15th which was a Holy Day, an extra Shabbat and on which no one could handle the dead. The next day (16th) was Shabbat and early on the morning of the 17th, the first day of the week Mary went to the garden. Jesus was in the grave on the days of the 14th, 15th and 16th and on the nights of the 14th, 15th and 16th; three days and three nights. As Shabbat is Saturday we have, a Crucifixion on Thursday (14th) and Resurrection on Sunday (17th).

If we have the Crucifixion on Friday and the Resurrection on Sunday we COULD have him in the grave for three days but no creative arithmetic could make it three nights.

Today the whole period is referred to as either Passover or Unleaven Bread, but it really contains three separate events all of which had to be fulfilled by the Lamb of God. He had to died as the provider of sanctuary for those who followed God; he had to remove leaven from the lives of those who had been saved from death and he had to rise, as the first fruits from the dead. All of which he did on that Passover around 2, 018 years ago.

As you munch on your chocolate Easter eggs and decorate your homes with painted eggs and rabbits, remember that it is not Ishtar, the pagan goddess of fertility whom we worship, but יהוה, the Almighty God, the God of Abraham (the father of faith), Isaac and Jacob, the God who saved the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, in the physical and who saves us from the slavery of sin, in the spiritual.

Posted by: forfreedomalone | 23/03/2018

We NEED correction.

Recently I encountered two people who had laughed at behaviour by a. a dog and b. a small child and now felt that they could not tell the dog or the child that they had to stop that behaviour. This reluctance to correct the animal/child was based not upon what was right or wrong, what was good for the animal/child or society in general, but on their feelings about the behaviour and so couldn’t correct it.

The parent told me that the child was just ‘expressing herself’ and it was wrong, stifling and repressive to tell her that what she was doing had to stop. The animal owner didn’t want to correct behaviour she had encouraged as this ‘wasn’t fair’.

What both adults are doing is teaching that there is no separation between ‘behaviour’ and ‘person’. They are teaching that as the behaviour was accepted the first time then the child/dog will be unable to understand that if the behaviour is now rejected they, as a child or dog, are not also being rejected.

This is a modern fallacy which has lead to out of control children, easily offended adults and a politically controlled society. It is deeply rooted in the church as well as society. God is very clear on the subject of the difference between your behaviour and you, we need to be also.

It is an act of love, not control, to say, “No,” and mean it. Without clearly set boundaries of behaviour people and animals cannot feel loved; they simply have no idea where they are safe. Rejecting unacceptable behaviour is not the same thing at all as rejecting people and we need to learn this.

When God says, “No”, to your behaviour he is doing so because he has already said, “Yes” to you. If he never corrected us it would be because he didn’t care about us, not because he wanted us to be free and expressive. We can only be truly free when we know where the lines of safety lie; when we clearly know the difference between ‘behaviour’ and ‘person’.

Posted by: forfreedomalone | 22/01/2018

She’ma

There are eight references to Jesus saying, “Those who have ears to hear, let him hear”. If we accept a Western Jesus we might be a little stuck to explain what he is talking about, but if we accept the Jewish Messiah, we will soon see that he was simply quoting The Scripture.

There are nine references to non-hearing ears and the cause for that in the, so called, Old Testament. Both Moses, in his sermon on the mount and the Prophets explain that the reason for not having ears which hear is not ceruminosis (yes, I’m showing off , that’s excessive ear wax to you) it is a hard, rebellious heart.

Ez 12:2 “Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, which has eyes to see but does not see, and ears to hear but does not hear; for they are a rebellious house.”
Zec 7:11 “But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear.” are two examples.

“Hear” in Hebrew is she’ma and The She’ma is a foundational statement to Jews, as well as to many Christians.
“Hear, oh Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD is one”.

She’ma does not mean, “Open your lugs and let the sound waves in”, it means something closer to “open your heart, to hear, perceive, understand and obey”. There is strongly contained within the word the understanding that obedience to what you have just heard is expected.

When we listen to the word of God with our ears, we will hear sounds which may, or may not, make sense to us. We will rationalise, pick and choose, reason, excuse and accuse and, as one person once told me, “If my heart is so moved, I will then obey”.

When we hear with our hearts we will say, “Yes, Lord. Lead me in your way”.

To the ancient Hebrew the ‘heart’ (that organ in our chests) was the seat of the will, reason and thinking. When we read ‘heart’ in the OT we should really change it, in our minds at least, to ‘mind’ because today we see the ‘mind’ as the place where we carry out those activities. The ‘heart’, to us, is the seat of emotions and emotions do not come into having ears to hear.

To ‘renew your mind’ and to ‘have a change of heart’ is, therefore, the same thing. When we ‘repent’ (change our minds) we are changing our heart, we are receiving a new heart and a new way of thinking all rolled into one. With our new heart we are able to open our ears and hear what the Spirit is saying when he speaks. We can separate the Law of Sin and Death (how our cold, hard, minds interpret things) from the Law of the Spirit of Life (how our soft, circumcised hearts interpret things). We are able to have ears to hear.

The only true repentance is a change of heart. The only true listening is when we are ready to obey. The only true discipleship is one which comes from a circumcised heart, open to God, ready to hear, trust and obey its Master. Wooden rule keeping, “I’m sorry” (but I’ll do it again tomorrow anyway), “There is no law any more” or “When my heart is so moved I’ll obey” type thinking is rebellion and hard-hearted. To hear a rebuke or a word of correction as coming from an angry God is to seek to justify our rebellion.

Open your heart to the loving correction of a loving God who, because he loves you wants the best for you and will not leave you to go on your own way. Hear, she’ma, his loving word. Trust him, obey him, surrender your will, your ideas and your entire life to him, because when you do he will be able to fulfil what he promised to the Children of Israel, in Deut 6, “…that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, God of your fathers, has promised you (in) a land flowing with milk and honey.”

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