Monthly Archives: May 2020

Marriage Made in Heaven

Song of Solomon chapters 4-8; While reading these chapters of love one cannot help but capture the infatuation with the two lovers for the other. Their minds try to capture in words what their hearts can only feel. There is elation in their words, there is joy and overwhelming consuming with the love they have found in each other. In chapter 4 we have King Solomon describing his beloved Bride – I’m not sure but I don’t know how his description of her went over. I’m not eloquent with words, but I would have thought better comparisons could have been made! I wonder how she took the many comparisons to her physical appearance?

Eyes like doves

hair like a flock of goats

Teeth like newly shorn ewes

lips like a scarlet thread [well that’s not too bad]

Temples like a slice of pomegranate – I guess that means they are really rosy

Neck like a Tower of David

Breasts like two fawns, twins of a gazelle

They say that love is blind, well with King Solomon it sounds like he was hallucinating. 4:7 – You are altogether beautiful, there is no blemish in you! I couldn’t help but think of Ephesians 5:26-27; where Jesus the Bridegroom is “washing with the water of the Word” his Bride [the Church]; so that she is without wrinkle, spot or blemish. Jesus loves His Bride to the utmost.  He loved her to the ultimate sacrifice of laying down Hos life for her.  In worship today we observed the Lord’s Supper. I had many thoughts as the pastor read from 1 Corinthians 11. With the readings from our passage this week maybe I had a heightened sense to the wedding feast the Church and Jesus will celebrate as described in Revelation 19:7-8. What is significant is this is the Marriage of the Lamb of God’ only those specifically invited can attended. There will be no wedding crashers in Heaven!

How do we get to Revelation 19:7-8? We had to go through John 6:56; where Jesus tells the crowds that except the “eat of His body and drink of blood” they cannot be His disciples. Well that just sounds gross to me, and it did to them as well. But Jesus brings clarity to this command in the Upper Room in John 13. The symbolism is so rich in this analogy of Jesus giving His life for His Bride. It’s like Hosea going down and buying Gomer off the slave block, knowing that she has played the harlot and cheated on him – breaking the wedding vows most sacred by giving herself to another! Yet Hosea goes and buys her back. This really is what Jesus did for us; He purchased us in the deplorable condition we were in – fallen to the deepest depths of sin and immorality.

Wedding are great, but none are perfect. I have had the pleasure to perform several of them. I always require counseling before the marriage.  It always amazes me how gaga the two are for each other. It seems the love breaks the connection between the heart and mind. I have also heard people gossip about the two couple before the wedding – “What does she see in him?” Oh, this is a marriage made in heaven, they are meant for each other and similar remarks.

The love written in words never meets the measure found in the heart. Solomon calls his bride “my sister, my bride.” I didn’t the meaning the first time I read this; but after thinking about it, here is my thinking: “don’t be unequally yoked.” By this Solomon can call his bride His “sister” she is his sister by relationship with the LORD GOD. I understood this with my wife. While I may not always be in agreement with my wife, as a sister in Christ – I am compelled to continue to love her and the LORD Jesus loves her. That means I have a greater respect and awe for her. For I think of her in thoughts as our Savior does.

Thinking of the Wedding to be in Heaven – Bride and Bridegroom; Jesus and us!

There is not greater love than a man lay down His life for His friends. Solomon captures for us in the Old Testament book how strong and passionate love can and should be. We would all do well to remember our “first love.” It should bring a smile across your face and a rapid heart beat that longs for the day we participate in the Marriage Made in Heaven!

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Christianity is about dying

Christianity is about dying

Jesus came to give his life as a ransom for sinners. He went to calvary to die my death- His death dealt with my sin and sins. As a believer and follower of Christ, Galatians 2:20 tells me to follow Him- dying to self, fleshly desires so Christ would reign through the Holy Spirit in me.

All other religions Baha’i Islam Hindu Buddha it appears is directed to eliminate the problem either through their death or to negate them through mind elimination

Christianity is about restoration of relationships with God, man and creation

The cross dealt with sin and sins to erase the strife and source of separation from God whereas In Other religions the goal is to gratify, satisfy or actualize oneself

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Summer’s Love

Song of Solomon 1-3

A very strange book to say the least, especially in the Bible. But it is in our canon of scripture, so it behooves us to understand why. I had to look up some background information about the book, not the writer, I knew that to be King Solomon. But why was it written and how do I understand the language, which by the way is very sensual in nature. SO I listened to Chuck Swindoll and he gave me some good tips to understanding and reading the book. Now pastors have a way about them to allegorize things they don’t understand. Many have tried to make a connection between the two lovers in the book to Christ and His Church [Bride]. One could make a case for such, but the language of intimacy cannot be attributed to such an analogy.

Chuck Swindoll helped me understand even when the book was written; he stated that Song of Solomon was an early writing of the King, followed by Ecclesiastes then the book of Proverbs. the Song of Solomon is the greatest of all Canticles of Solomon; chapter 1:1. Solomon wrote as many as 1000 songs – `1 Kings 4:32. So, if Solomon wrote this in his younger days, then we can understand that the Book is really a dialogue or love letter between a woman and her soon to be husband, in this case King Solomon’s marriage to the Shulammite woman. It is a love letter that we get to read. It the letter we find strong language about sensual topics and very descriptive analogies to parts of the woman physical body. Summer love, wedding are dominantly planned in the Spring or Summer months. So it is fitting that I am writing about this love letter now.

Chuck Swindoll gives rules for reading the Song of Solomon: read it literally and personally. He suggest that it is love a love letter that has been intercepted and read out loud before an audience. Many of the words and thoughts are extremely intimate and meant only for the recipient. He goes on further to say we should read it, enjoy it but stop short of trying to analyze it. This makes sense, because it is two lovers king and pinning away in their love and separation.

We have the bride  who is referred to as a Dove and the groom to be called the Beloved. There is lots of descriptive sentences that we would call “gushy mushy” stuff. I would think that this is a book that would be hard to preach before a congregation – for both the pastor and audience would blush and be embarrassed!

However, we must read these poetic words for what they were meant to mean to the reader. There is something about a young couple trying to express in words what their hearts convey. There are limits to how we can say what we feel in words. But these chapters do capture the emotion and longing for the other person. If we are truthful we have to admit, that much of the language used reminds us of our days gone by. We must admit we rarely hear of the passion and excitement in marriage relationships like this. Our relationships can and do become stale. It should be a refreshing in our minds of how we once felt – when we were head over heels in love with someone. At this point I will draw parallel with our relationship with Jesus; we can get “old hat” with Jesus. We can and do get comfortable with Him and take Him for granted; just like in our marriages. In these first chapters before the wedding in chapter 3:6-11; we read of the extravagant doting of the bride in oils and perfumes for the beloved. It has been said that if woman [and men] continued to do what they did to get a spouse after they are married, there would be a lot less broken marriages. Summer love, young love – is more than infatuation, it is a phenomena that can’t be easily confined or defined.

I hope that the reading of this love letter will spark the memories of all of us to how we once were young, and that it will rekindle our desire and passion for our own Beloved!

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Soul reestablished

Esther 8-10, Haman – the Flesh condemned. In our last blog we talked about the various allegory parts. To refresh ourselves here they are again:

Soul = King Ahasuerus

Human spirit = Esther

Holy Spirit = Mordecai

Flesh/Satan = Haman the Agagite

The plot of Haman has been exposed when the Flesh tried to save its life by pleading to the Human spirit. In walks King Ahasuerus and finds the flesh attempting to ravage the Human spirit in Esther. Haman winds up hanging on the gallows meant for Mordecai [Holy Spirit]. The flesh and the Spirit will always be at odds with each other for supremacy over the influence of the human spirit on the Soul of man. [Galatians 5:19-21] The problem is the Flesh has already put in place the edict to kill all the Jews in the 127 provinces. In other words, the flesh has attempted to kill the Body of man with its gross appetites of satisfying the 5 senses. At the heart of this book that never mentions God is the rule of the Soul. A man without the Holy Spirit is dependent on the Flesh to dictate the way of life.  But in our story the Holy Spirit [Mordecai] influenced and exposed the plot and evil of Haman to the Human Spirit which in-turn revealed to the Soul the ploy. Prior to this Haman, the flesh ruled by virtue of the Soul empowering it, thinking the flesh had the Soul’s best in mind – the Flesh is only out for itself.  Because the Soul didn’t have the ability to distinguish right and wrong, the Holy Spirit had to be in position to reveal the evil tactics – hence the Holy Spirit [Mordecai] influences the Human spirit [Esther]. Now the Soul [King Ahasuerus] loved Esther and gave access to himself. When we look at this allegory, we find that the Holy Spirit is at work behind the scenes to bring Truth to the forefront by influencing the human spirit. Esther when approached by Mordecai accepted the fate of “If I perish, I perish.” This relates to mortifying the flesh and Galatians 2:20 – we must die to the flesh and its unholy ambitions. By subjecting herself to Mordecai – the Human spirit submitted to the Holy Spirit and when in the presence of man’s Soul – truth is revealed.  Haman, the Flesh is hung [crucified] so we wind up with the Soul of Man operating under the Holy Spirit instead of the fleshly senses.

But the 127 provinces are still under the edict of Haman to be killed – John 10:10 the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. The Flesh is the carnal living out of  appetites. Now that Mordecai[Holy Spirit]is on the throne of the Soul – the edict is reversed.  The Body [land of the kingdom] now rejoices. Instead of being destroyed, the 127 provinces [body] kills the Flesh influences within it.

Now this story is very interesting because it is similar to the life of Joseph in Genesis. Here we have Mordecai coming to the same position of authority as Joseph. However, the Jews are in the 70 years of captivity that began under King Nebuchadnezzar. I found it most interesting, that even though Judah was in exile for disobedience and discipline of the LORD; God still enabled their stay to be a tolerable one.

I hope you will get the book – “If I perish, I perish” by Major Ian Thomas. It is a thrilling read about Esther.

 

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Haman the Henchman

Esther 4-8, a mentor of mine Major Ian Thomas from Torchbearers of the Capernwray  wrote an allegory about Esther, it is called “If I Perish, I Perish.” It is a great read and well worth the experience to see how the flesh, human spirit and Holy Spirit interact for supremacy of the Soul of man. In our previous post I identified that Haman is an Agagite, which means that he is ancestor to Esau, Agag and the Amalekites which Moses and Joshua in Exodus 17:8-16. In verse 16 we find the LORD saying he will have war against Amalek from generation to generation. When we think of the lineage of Agag, it is “the enemy of the Jews.” In 1 Samuel 15, Agag is the downfall of King Saul. He was told to destroy all of the Amalekites, but kept Agag alive and the possessions that he, King Saul thought was worthy. The LORD said destroy everything, possessions, people and animals. He didn’t and Esau’s line continued. Agag like Satan lives to fight another day. Such is the case in our Esther book. If Saul would have been obedient to the LORD, we wouldn’t be fighting Esau’s line today in the Middle East.

You might be asking what is the big deal, well let me finish the line of Agag. Esau fought against Jacob, the chosen of God to carry out HIS plan for humanity. We find the lineage of Esau goes like this, Esau [also called Edom], Agag, Amalek, Haman, Edomites fought against Israel in taking the possession of the Promised Land. Edom- is also called Idumea; where Herod the Great comes from. We know the story that at the birth of Jesus the Christ, that Herod the Idumean, tried to kill all baby boys who would be a threat to his throne. See Esau has never stopped trying to reign on the “Souls throne.” The battle rages even today for our own Lord of our lives.

Back to our story in Esther, Haman comes to great power, where even all the residents of King Ahasuerus has 126 provinces. King Ahasuerus in the allegory is the Soul of man. Haman is the flesh who looks to establish his own kingdom; Esther is the human spirit and Mordecai is the Holy Spirit. When we see in Esther that the “Flesh” becomes king in Haman, he seeks to destroy all that would oppose him. Now understand that the King [soul] gave power to rule over all. When there is opposition to the flesh – such as Mordecai not bowing down, the Flesh looks to destroy not just the representative, but all of its associations. So the Holy Spirit seeks to ascend to its rightful place in the life of man – but is constantly under the attack by the Flesh. Enter Esther, connected to the Holy Spirit [Mordecai] is in position to influence the King[soul], but only under his beckoning. Access to the Soul is not allowed except it allows. The Soul is pleased with the Human spirit and allows access to the innermost part of man.

Haman has become so enraged with Mordecai, that he plots to kill him and his people. Note that Haman, the Flesh does not want some power over the Soul, he wants ABSOLUTE CONTROL.  With the Human spirit in position, the Holy Spirit reveals the plot of the Flesh, and the Jews. Now Esther had not revealed her true identity, so Mordecai reminds Esther that she is the only one who can spoil the Henchman Haman’s plot to eliminate the Holy Spirit in the life of the Soul. Esther takes the task that is before her, and risks all, her very life to get access to the Soul. It is interesting that Esther doesn’t just jump in and spill everything she knows, under the leading of the Holy Spirit she has two banquets. In these encounters we find that Haman [the Flesh] overcome with pride being allowed to have private access to the SOUL. The Flesh is powerful, erects a gallows to destroy the Holy Spirit once and for all. But before the second dinner engagement; we find that the Soul has been awakened to his past. The Plot that Mordecai [Holy Spirit] prevented in chapter 3 is brought to light.  The Soul asks the Flesh, what should be done for the act of saving the King; well Haman winds up leading Mordecai around in parade fashion with great glory bestowed on him by the King [soul]. The second dinner, Esther reveal’s the plot, but now the Holy Spirit has united with the Human spirit to dethrone the Flesh. The King exits and then Haman, the Flesh tries to persuade the Human Spirit [Esther] for mercy. In walks the King [soul and finds the Flesh laying all over the Human spirit.] Under the influence of the Holy Spirit in the Human spirit, the Soul not sees the Flesh exposed.

As the book ends, Haman the Flesh dies on the gallows meant for the Holy Spirit [Mordecai]. We are subjected to the same plot daily by the FLESH, Galatians 5:19-21 exposes the flesh for what it really is; so who do you want to sit on the throne of your life? The Holy Spirit in the Soul or the Flesh seeking its own glory?

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Covid-19 sheep

covid- 19

With the return back to the church buildings is there more interest in taking care of the church- pastor – or the sheep? The time during the virus appeared to be more about keeping the sheep/church giving and corralled. The hurry about coming back to the building is corralling- sheep thrive in the open pastures under the care of the shepherd. For there the sheep are “organic church” not hemmed up sheep. The concern should be for the health and welfare of the sheep/people not to re-corral the sheep again. The church has thrived being let loose during this virus, why are we in such a hurry to pen them up again?

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Esther -Queen for the Season

Esther 1-3

Growing up there was a reality show called “Queen for the Day.” Basically, it took normal women, many being homemakers and put them through an elimination process, to get the final contestant and she would be crowned Queen for the Day.  In our passage this week, we have the young maiden-virgin Esther who would be crowned “Queen for the Season.” As we will read later, Mordecai, her cousin will make the famous statement – “Who knows but for such a time as this, you are queen.” [paraphrase of Esther 4:14]

I find that many times looking back at my own life, wondering why now, why here? Of all the places and times I could have been born and lived – I find it both challenging and mysterious that people were born at the exact right time – Galatians 4:4 tells us that Jesus was born in the fullness of time. When the timing was right, God sent forth Jesus born of a virgin. This tells me that there had to be a particular environment for Jesus to be born. Investigating this we find that the world was under “Pax Roman” – peace of Rome and the roman road system built; also the language was Greek, and the unrest within Judaism.  People were looking for a Messiah figure, several imposters have been documented in istory.

Back to Esther; in the first two chapters we find King Ahasuerus reigning over 127 provinces and living in Susa. This is also during the Babylonian Exile period.  During a “look at Me” gathering the King having drank a bit too much, commanded the Queen at that time to present herself – I have no idea why Queen Vashti refused, other than not wanting to be a spectacle. If we look at this story, we find that both King and Queen were feeling their oats so to speak.  Well, the King didn’t take the rejection lightly and held a court counsel to determine what to do. Basically, Queen Vashti lost her title. The problem then if the episode was let stand without any action, would that the women would look upon their husbands with contempt. This issue in itself is worthy of future study beyond this blog. Basically, to prevent the empire to have marital upheaveal – Queen Vashti was expelled.

Well, you can’t have an empire without a Queen, so the plan was to have a “Beauty pageant.  At this point, I’m sure many of the readers are saying “How sexist and demeaning!” I’m just telling the story, okay. So all throughout the empire, beautiful virgins were sought and put under the care of Eunuch Hegai “and cosmetics were given them.” Yes even back then women adorned themselves with cosmetics. This is when Mordecai suggests that Esther [aka Hadassah] participate. Esther must have been something to behold, for every one who sees her is taken back with her beauty.  For a year, the ladies were doted on  with all beautification spices and cosmetics. Each lady had one night to influence the King enough to be slected. This almost sounds like the “Bachelor” reality show. ANyway, Esther is called to the King for the evening – I won’t speculate on what happened at this point.  Anyway Ether finds great pleasure and favor from the King. The favor would result in Esther being crowned Queen – “yet Esther had not yet revealed who here kindred people were.” An incident involving a spoiled plot against the king is thwarted by Mordecai and written in the annals of the Empire history.

The plot thickens when Haman, an Agagite; [ancestor of Esau, and an Amalekite, Agag and Amalek  have always been against the Jews “Jacob’s offspring” – we find that this fight has been on-going for centuries; Herod the Great was an Idumean and a relative of Esau – so the war rages on] is advanced to a great position of authority and given the King’s signet ring. All were to pay homage and bow down before Haman – except Mordecai refused. Haman filled with rage tries to get King Ahasuerus to enforce an edict that anyone who did not bow, would be killed. Haman indicted all the Jews – saying they were against the king and needed to be destoryed. So the edict was released to all 127 provinces and the people are terrified.  Chapter 3:15, while drinking with Haman in Susa, the rest of the city was in confusion. This is usually our state of mind when we don’t understand why thinking happen as they do.  Too often we react rather than respond to life situations and usually then it is an emotional one. Just like Covid-19, this story of Esther must be seen in its entirety before we can get some semblance of understanding. Next week the rest of the story and why each episode is important to the end of the story – which plays out during our own life time.

 

 

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Elijah Syndrome and Covid-19

Passage from 1 Kings 18-19

The Famous Mount Carmel battle between the Baal Prophets and God’s Prophet is well known. The display of God’s power when the man of God prays is unlimited. James 5:17 – Elijah was a man like us; he prayed for it not to rain for three years and it didn’t. I want to focus on the “Man Like us” part of the verse. We know that Elijah was a great prophet, but he was a man. While there were great episodes in his life where the power of God was on display against the enemies of the WORD and His prophet.  1 Kings 18 tells us about the great victory Elijah was a part of in determining who’s god was God. Equal test, sacrifice a bull on the altar and cry out to your god and the god who consumes the sacrifice is God.  Of course the Baal prophets cried out and shouted, cut themselves all day and nothing happened. We know that Elijah ridiculed them and even made fun of their god, saying maybe he is a sleep or relieving himself. After the Baal prophets succumbed to the futility of their efforts; Elijah had his turn. He rebuilt the altar, had water poured on the sacrifice not once but twice. He called out to Yahweh and fire came down and consumed the sacrifice and licked up even the water! Wow, Yahweh is God, then Elijah slew all the Baal prophets.

The connection with Elijah and the Covid-19 is this; Elijah had a melt down after a great victory over the Baal prophets to the point that he ran for his life because of the threat from Jezeebel. For the last 8 weeks or so pastors and ministers have been working overtime to ensure that their congregations got a sermon and service; with the “going back” to church starting even this week, I think there may be a severe let down that the crisis is over. I have been really impressed with the “CHURCH” and how it has stepped up during the “stay at home orders and social distancing.” I have learned that mankind usually will rise to the occasion to meet a threat or crisis. The Church hasn’t been the only people to rally around defeating this virus; first responders and medical personnel are to be lauded for their great compassion and sacrifice to help other people. I have seen the effects like this when natural disasters occur here in Texas and other parts the world. BUT, after the majority of the crisis is over or at least been over come and a semblance of “normality” has been restored, the mind, body and soul have a “crash.

I mean that there has been so much energy expended to keep the “machine” going that there may be a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual let down coming back. Elijah rose to the task of defeating the Baal Prophets, but after the adrenaline rush wore off, he succumbed to a depression so great he ran to a cave to hide.

My whole point in this blog is to possibly warn us about what could happen POST COVID-19. We know that the Hand of the Lord was on Elijah; but He was a man like unto us – human! Hearing the threat that jezebel was going to kill him, he ran. How often do we forget the way God responds to our prayers in the past when facing another dillemma? Lest we miss this depth of this depression look at 1 Kings 19:3 – “He was afraid, and he rose and ran for his life.” This Elijah who took on 450 Baal prophets ran because of a threat from an evil woman. 1 kings 19:4- so Elijah goes a days journey and sits under a juniper tree and asks that he might die; saying “it is enough; now LORD take my life.”

After that God comes twice and provided food for Elijah, that will enable him to go into the wilderness for 40 days; specifically Mount Horeb – the very place where God speaks and gives Moses the Law. In the cave, hiding – God speaks to him “Elijah what are you doing here?” Of course Elijah like many of us we will spew forth our allegiance to God and how we have served Him and we are all alone in doing so! I’m all alone, even i only am left and they seek my life!  Then Elijah is told to go stand at the opening of the cave – first a great wind, then an earthquake and then fire; but God was not in any of them. Then Elijah hears a low whisper, so he wraps himself in his cloak and goes and stands at the opening of the cave again. Again God asks “Elijah what are you doing HERE?” Elijah presents his testimony of allegiance to God. God tells Elijah – Get up and get back to work! [paraphrase].

God was not in the big and magnamous; he was in the still small voice. Too often as believers we look for the huge and gigantic miracles to prove that God is; but He is just as present in our quietness and silence. With the Post Covid-19; my fear is that too many of us will have a let down emotionally, physically and spiritually where we experience a sort of Elijah Syndrome – of collapse after the crises is brought under control. Our God is the God of the big, the threatening, the small and even things we think are insignificant. God is God over all, and through all. We don’t need to go hide in a cave and think we are the only ones serving God righteously. He has servants we do not know about. We are not alone!!

Let us not fear because there is no longer a major threat to our lives and “we have overcome” but let us rejoice in the Power of prayer and faith in our God who reigns surpremmely!  Joshua 1:9 – Be strong and of good courage!

 

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