The Trip So Far

04/25/2017

Restored Expectations

Filed under: Real Life Christianity — John Miltenberger @ 06:00

We just experienced another conference weekend at World Revival Church, in Kansas City, Missouri. We moved here last year from a place in Colorado where it was quite common to see bumper stickers that proudly proclaimed: “Just Another Ho-Hum Day In Paradise”.
We moved away from that empty, world-based version of ‘Paradise’ to live more closely to, and within one that is alive. Good trade off, in my opinion, and I’d do it all over again without a blink! This weekend was one of the reasons we moved, and it was a part of our reward for doing so.
I really had no idea how self-limiting we were, I was, until the light came on the last few days. I went into the conference, aptly named the Restore Conference, with very limited expectations, unbeknownst to me. I was excited that I would get to be with so many new friends and predictably hear preaching several cuts above average anywhere else in the world, but I had no idea what I stepped into as the conference began!
Good conferences are choreographed, they don’t just happen, and this one was superbly set up. Every speaker built to a crescendo, and every crescendo built to a stunning conclusion. Every day, my wife and I would drive back home carrying attitudes that could be stated as, “What just happened to us?!”, only to get hammered even more the next day.
This morning, as I was going over the things I heard and experienced the last several days, God gently reminded me that one of the reasons He moved us here was because we had been so used to mediocre, that our expectations had almost died….and we didn’t even know how bad the problem had become. God needed to expose the pending death of our expectations and restore them, if we were ever to step into His destiny for us. Dead flowers aren’t used at God’s table, and that’s what we were quickly becoming.
Several times during the conference I said, “I wish so-and-so had been here..”, and each time God gently reminded me, “Don’t say that. Don’t grieve for them. I set the table, and they made their excuses – their choices. Instead, be thankful you are here, and here amongst all these others who chose to come.”
And with that, let me close with this: Right choices are not free and easy. They all cost something. Everyone reading this might think I’m pumping my church, and I am. But I also know that God provides wherever you might be, and He sets tables of provisions up all over the world, all the time. Choose wisely, and once you do, don’t second guess it – let Him do the work in you He wants to do.
God, not us, is all about restoration. It is why He came, and He knows what He’s doing.

John

04/24/2017

The “Now what’s” of Religion

Filed under: Real Life Christianity — John Miltenberger @ 11:20

I’ve learned through personal experience, that “Religion” is deadly and without mercy to those without, and slavery to those within. It was one of the best lessons I’ve ever had, and even now I’m still learning from it. And if you’re exposed to preachers that sometimes harp on the evils of “Religion”, you might actually be on the right track, because the religious will seldom cut their own throats.
Religion is man made, and produces by default, men and women who are enslaved to a man-made system. It is a system that comes with many different and sometimes confusing labels, but it is one system in many guises. The driving spirit behind religion is at best, man’s spirit, but these systems all come with one lifetime warranty: You are ultimately guaranteed to fall short and perish.
It is rumored that some sky diving schools used to advertise that if your parachute didn’t open, they’d repack it for free. Just a rumor, of course, but it reminds me of my topic. I am of course, contrasting Religion with God’s version of (True) Religion.
Man’s religion is necessarily limited to the goals of man. And this is true no matter how much we sincerely hope God will bless them. God’s religion is limited by Himself, as a Person, and His goals for us, His creation, and on into eternity. God’s limits are unlimited; I’d go as far as calling them an unlimited, forever unfolding glory.
If you wonder whether you’re trapped in religion, simply wait until your church completes one of it’s projects and then ask the pastor, “Now what?”, because man-made religion doesn’t have now-what’s. By asking what would seem a logical, innocent question, you will have exposed the nakedness of the church system, and if you ask that question you will in all likelihood be labeled a rebel.
Any man-made religious system is a closed system; there really is no external life-source, and any “goals” are simply goals in a closed loop. Like the ‘Man who never returned’ you are destined to go round and round…until the warranty is validated.
In contrast, God’s religion is Jesus. It is powered by His Eternal Life and it’s goals are the desires of God’s Heart. In a man-made system, it’s all about the desires of our hearts. In God’s religion, it’s all about His Heart and His desires – lucky for us He’s a good God!!
Man-made religion has no risks. It is safe and it is entirely predictable. It appeals to those comfortable with being dumbed down and is run by those who already have been. As such, it is by definition, a club.
God’s religion is chock full of risks, and only the “crazy” would consider it normal. It is like being a passenger in a large plane with an invisible pilot. And while there are hints of the ultimate destination, yet unexperienced, the stops along the way are definitely not passenger directed. In fact, some days, it’s like a spiritual version of running across Omaha Beach on D-Day, but while the bullets may take their toll, they cannot keep you from getting Home; the war has been won already. Now the only remaining question becomes: “Do I run with the others, or do I sit down and wait for the bullet?”
1 Corinthians 6:17 says: ‘But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. And the ‘join’ is in the context of the closeness of a sexual union. Read it for yourself. Back up a few verses and begin with the context. God is not afraid of sex. We can’t be ‘one flesh’ with Him because He is Spirit, but we can be one Spirit with Him in the joining.
It is in the joining that God’s “religion” is created and lived. If you’re not intimately joined, you are indeed stuck in the wrong religious system. And if you are joined to the wrong religious system – you are dead already.
Think about it. Now what?

John

04/19/2017

If The Shoes Fit…

Filed under: Real Life Christianity — John Miltenberger @ 14:14

With this blog, I’m going to begin with an admission that may seem superfluous, but please bear with me.
When I was in high school, about the time dirt was discovered, my mother demanded that I wear wing-tip shoes every day, just like my father. Blue jeans were never, repeat never, to be worn to school, and most certainly never to church.
I did a lot of walking in those days. My house was almost exactly one mile from school, and in my sophomore year, my girlfriend’s house was almost exactly one mile on the other side of school, so I got a lot of exercise just walking. Unless it was pouring down rain or snowing so hard it could be cut with a knife, a ride to school never happened. While it may seem unnecessary to mention here, those wing-tips, once broken in, were the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever had. They were size 10 ½.
In my college years, post dirt, for some reason I figured out I should have been wearing size 9’s, and I wore that size until quite recently. And in the intervening time since my college years in the 60’s, my feet went from bad to worse. Finally in 2015, I bought some hiking shoes, and was surprised when the salesman told me I should be wearing a size 10 ½! Although it was a bit late for my feet, I had an epiphany, and I was much more comfortable wearing the right size shoes.
The moral of this weird story is that one can wear the wrong size for a long time without knowing it is wrong, and be damaged in the process. With that in mind, let me give a brief testimony about understanding (or not understanding) the Bible.
My first mentor in my Christian walk was formerly a Presbyterian elder in a prestigious Presbyterian church in St. Louis County, Missouri. Since he had a Scofield Reference Bible under his arm all the time, I began my Christian education reading my own Scofield Bible, in the King James translation (was there any other?!).
In the Christian circles I ran with in the 70’s, during the Charismatic Movement in that part of the world, the idea of a Pre-Trib (ulation) Rapture was unquestioned. Three or four scriptures were utilized to firm up this doctrine, particularly 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 1 Corinthians 15:52, and upon this immovable foundation I formed my belief in the commonly taught, Pre-Trib Rapture, as a totally different event than the Second Coming of Christ, and I began waiting to be abruptly jerked up and out of this nasty world. He would come ‘in the clouds’, don’t you know…?
It was in 2016 that it occurred to me that men I had recently met, and respected as teachers and leaders, held a different viewpoint – using the same scriptures! And initially, I was floored that such educated men could be so blind in an area of doctrine so obvious to me.
After some months, I wondered what would seem evident to me if I were to read these scriptures without the slightest hint of pre-disposition towards the Rapture. For me to do so, I would risk being cast adrift in an area I thought firmly attached, but what if they were right, and heaven forbid, I was wrong?
And so, one day earlier this year, I began reading Rapture scriptures in an unbiased manner, and doing so for me, was like trying on shoes I was pre-convinced wouldn’t fit, just in the unlikely event they would, and honestly, I fully expected my view on the Rapture to be fully vindicated.
You see, I had convinced myself I was right in my interpretation of the Rapture, and by extension, anyone who didn’t agree with me had to be wrong. I never even guessed I might be influenced by interpretational bias… . But one day the light came on for me, and as I read I realized I had had it all wrong for most of my life. Sure, Christ was coming in the clouds, but the picture God gave me was of an airplane descending through the clouds in order to land as predicted, on the runway.
Using the very same scriptures that once convinced me the Rapture, as a stand-alone Pre-Trib event, I was blown away to find they actually fit much better into the context of the Second Coming of Christ. The truth was there all the time, but by my pre-conditioning I had ruled it out, and thereby missed it entirely. All these years I had been ignorantly and stubbornly wearing the wrong spiritual shoes. I felt foolish, but relieved. God always reveals Himself to honest seekers, and He is His Word.
I know many who are doctrinally where I once was, would label this writing the product of an indoctrinated mind, and while I understand from personal experience how sincere they are, I would humbly and lovingly reply, “You are sincerely wrong.”
Others would say, “What does it matter? One way or the other, I’m going to heaven.”, and I understand, but I would say that it matters in the here and now, and how we live our lives as His witnesses while we yet tread this earth. We weren’t called to “hang on”; we were called to advance the Kingdom – with force.
I’ve met many who claim they are “Pan-Trib”, meaning it will all “Pan” out in the end. Cute! Well yes, of course, but with that thinking, why read the Bible at all? Nowhere does God even hint that ignorance is His will, in fact, we are told numerous times to ‘study’ His word. It is apparent to me that God is definitely not Pan-Trib Himself, and He wants to reveal Himself to His family – what good father wouldn’t?
With all this in mind, I would encourage those few who dare to attempt reading the Bible with open minds and without pre-conceived notions, to try on like shoes, the different size of a no, Pre-Trib Rapture. I firmly believe they will find what I found…the Second Coming is not only the only overtly promised event of this nature, it’s a much better fit.
I no longer hope to be whisked out of this world in a flash-escape; rather, I seek to be empowered by the Spirit of God to be able to be a effective witness for Him on this earth while I yet live.
God has always left Himself witnesses, and as His child, redeemed by His Son, may I be counted among them – whatever the cost.

John

04/18/2017

Everyone Needs A Bogeyman

Filed under: Real Life Christianity — John Miltenberger @ 08:21

Recently, I can’t help noticing the ongoing media coverage concerning North Korea. Discounting the obvious fear-mongering so prevalent in our progressive media outlets, it just seems incredible to me that the United States is once again, someone’s bogeyman.
You just have to ask, why on earth would the United States ever consider making any kind of war preemptively on North Korea unless we were preemptively provoked to do so?
I simply cannot imagine anything we would want with that miserable real estate. And other than a perfectly hideous hairstyle I saw copied at Walmart last week, North Korea could not possibly have anything approaching a export crop we would value.
Perhaps I’m just a bit naïve, but is it feasible that we would want to pull another loser country out of the gutters they’ve so determinately placed themselves in? Does that make sense to you? So just what is the mentally impoverished leadership in North Korea smoking that would make them believe we care enough to invade? I cannot imagine any, even remote advantage, to our doing so. Don’t we already have enough starving and dissatisfied people in our own country to contend with?
The simple answer to North Korea’s obsession with our aggression has to be that they need an external bogeyman in order to rally their masses and focus their attention away from their own internal chaos. The United States, simply stated, is their chosen common enemy that binds them together in a perverse, hate-based unity of paranoia.
North Korea desperately needs a bogeyman, and with our given record of dispersing billions of dollars all over the world in mis-allocated compassion, they have everything to gain, and nothing to lose that they haven’t already lost.
On the other hand, and I keep waiting for someone with clout to say this, we have everything to lose and absolutely nothing to gain in this unfolding debacle. It seems painfully obvious to me that North Korea’s provocations are so much like a hideously ugly person proclaiming over and over, “You can’t have me, no matter how much I know you want me!” What kind of twisted, perverse mind would find that a reality? Wake up, North Korea! Nobody wants you…absolutely nobody! Maybe you’d have more to offer if you began to take responsibility for your problems and quit blaming everyone else for them.
So far, this has been a political blog, but to turn it into a Christian blog, all I have to do is substitute the phrase, “North Korea” with “Many Christians”. Do we too, need a bogeyman? Are all of our Christian issues somehow God’s fault? Are we in the habit of blaming others for our shortcomings in the church?
With the resurrection of Jesus, perhaps the most witnessed event of history, believers we given back their lost human dignity and given new life and new lives…but unless we grasp those facts with active faith, they remain illusionary, and are relegated to the category of “what should be” rather than “what is.” Nobody ever got saved by potential.
Jesus came to earth to lose what He had, that we might gain what we did not have. The words of an old, camp meeting song, long forgotten, state: “He paid a debt He did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay, I needed someone to wash my sins away..”.
Americans of all races don’t need a bogeyman, they simply need a Savior. Some things never change.

John

04/17/2017

Maintaining The Blessings

Filed under: Real Life Christianity — John Miltenberger @ 12:36

God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. [Psalm 18:32; NLT]

I have to admit that if I were somebody else, I might have read the verse above and thought to myself, “Good verse, but (“so what?”). But I can now say, when a verse like this pops into your mind, and out of your mouth – unbidden, it’s a different kind of duck! That’s what happened to me this morning, and it happened on the tail end of another adventure that began several days ago…
In 2009, I special ordered a little, one-axle trailer, and drove to the trailer dealership in Salt Lake City, Utah to pick it up. The trip occurred in December of the year, and I-80, westbound from Northern Colorado, was an evil adventure in blowing snow. Not unusual for I-80 in December, but unusual for me to attempt the drive, especially since I had no cogent idea of why I needed the vehicle in the first place!
In spite of losing sight of the road numerous times due to drifts of blowing snow, I made it there and back, and parked the beautiful little trailer in my backyard in Colorado. And baring a few uses, and a few loans to friends, there it remained until the pretty decals fell off, baked by the intense Colorado sun.
I always meant to modify the inside of the trailer to accommodate camping equipment, maybe even including an emergency, built-in sleeping cot, but as often as I would try to begin the modification, that project never got off the ground.
I then tried to sell the trailer to several of my peers in Colorado, who were adept at borrowing it to facilitate their use on their job sites, while remaining un-adept at offering to ante up, and I had to fight the offense continually incurred, as they made money from borrowing the vehicle, while getting the use of it absolutely free (at least they could have offered to pay…). I intended to decline the offers, but that never happened; a great, ongoing lesson about forgiveness was set in motion! It’s a lot different if it’s not just a chapter in someone’s book.
Several people told me to call them first if I ever wanted to sell the trailer, but amazingly they became too much in debt when I finally contacted them. I suppose “Free” was their price all along. So I took the liberty of trying to keep the stored vehicle full of miscellaneous stuff, so it would be too much bother to borrow. That worked, but the item still sat in my backyard as the years rolled by.
The little trailer did yeoman’s service when we moved out of Colorado, but after moving out of the state, I found myself storing it in another backyard, only this time I ran amok of the HOA by having 14” of it visible above my privacy fence. Several of my neighbors, in trouble with the HOA for storing their similar trailers in their driveways, snitched me off because their misery likes my company. But by this time, I had prayed and told God that if the trailer became an issue, I would take it as His leading to sell it. The life expectancy of the single-axle albatross had indeed finally expired.
Through a little, compact series of miracles, I met a neighbor who turned me on to a Marketplace website, and advertising it there, put me in contact with a man nearby who needed the trailer. Texting each other, we agreed on a price, and he picked up the trailer. During the transfer of the title, he asked if I would care if he understated the sales price – standard practice and widely accepted, in order to dodge an odious portion of state sales tax. Not technically wrong, because the agreed upon shortage in the selling price was not preceded by the word “only”, I didn’t wrinkle too much at the idea (not my ‘first rodeo’, etc.), until about midnight this morning.
Getting up to pray, God spoke to me forcefully with an unshakable impression, and told me that in His eyes, I had made myself a party to lying and stealing. Worse, He told me that if I chose to continue down this shaded path, the blessing of God on me and my household would be forfeited! Not what one wants to hear at midnight.
I resolved to remedy the issue immediately (always the best time to do so with God) and texted the buyer that I would be happy to pay the taxes for both of us, or just as happy to refund the difference down to the shortened sale price. With eternity in mind, money is an awfully small matter, and altering a great quote, “Long after the price is forgotten, the sin lives on.”
I woke up later to get breakfast going and received a text reply from the buyer. He humbly apologized for putting my conscience at risk and said he would gladly abide by the full purchase price. Where can you find people this upright? I know of one who lives in my state, and I like him even more than I did when I first met him.
I meant what I said when I replied to his text that he owed me no apology, as we both are fellow humans in the same boat. I sent it with a heartfelt smile, as one would do when surprised by meeting a brother in a chance encounter. And it was as I was praising the Lord while putting the bacon on my griddle that the verse above popped out of my mouth! It was so sudden, so unplanned, that I was stunned. I had to look it up to find where it was located in the Bible, but I found it in Psalm 18.
For me, there have been many lessons learned in the last few years, but not so many as I’ve seen in the last few months. Rather than being ashamed of myself for being complicit in lying and stealing, I’m eternally grateful to God for pulling me out of the hole I was letting my greed dig. God gave me a timely word that served to maintain His hand of blessing over my household, but also positively impacted a rare man of integrity He also wanted to touch with His blessing. And I have to wonder…only God would go to all this effort to reveal Himself to a person, but it is so like Him to do so.
Some might wonder why all the to-do concerning a simple little trailer. Well, I suppose some things just have to be personally experienced. I see the unmistakable hand of Almighty God in what otherwise would be a non-story, and I’m blessed to tell you about it.
If you have ears to hear, you’ll find advice here to help maintain your own blessings from God; but if not, all you’ve wasted (so far) on this side of eternity, is the time it took you to miss the point. And if you don’t already have ears to hear, or the heart to want to hear from God, nothing I can say would matter. To me, God is more than real, He is the ultimate Reality. He can be that real to you too, if you want. At least, that’s His heart for you.
He is only hidden from those who don’t want to find Him. And as someone once said about Jesus, He only sent some away empty because they were so full of themselves.

John – just another fellow-traveler

04/10/2017

The Faith Diet

Filed under: Real Life Christianity — John Miltenberger @ 08:04

‘And my righteous ones will live by faith.’ [Hebrews 10:38a; NLT]

It’s hard to build muscle on the couch, and it’s just as hard to keep it on by my own willpower.
Recently it has come to my attention that I am expanding in all the wrong directions. Pants that used to fit just fine a few months ago, are mysteriously shrinking, along with my shirts. Even my all-metal wedding ring has shrunk, and won’t come off my finger! In fact, the only thing that has been shrinking is my spine, as I age, and so last night (after supper), I innocently broached the topic of changing our eating habits with my wife. For those of you that have opened that topic with your wives, it’s like opening Pandora’s Box! Beware. And stick to your story…. “No! I did NOT call you fat!”
By the time the topic had been initially exhausted, my options had become limited to continued expansion with the inclusion of guilt, or chewing tree bark several times between “meals”, meals partially full of stuff only birds would want to eat. The only good news for me was that ordering a used copy of a good diet book would be cheap, because most haven’t been read all the way through, and the market is flooded with used copies. Anyone foolish enough to buy a brand new copy of a diet book is someone obsessed with throwing money away! This would all be a bit funny if it wasn’t so true.
This morning, as I was cooking up the pancakes and bacon, Monday morning’s menu at John’s Casa, I was pondering the pending arrival of the “like new” hardback diet book I had ordered for $5.89, including postage, when it occurred to me I could enlist God’s help in a way I’ve never considered….I could utilize faith, rather than willpower. And I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never considered “eating healthy” this way before. I think I’ll call it The Faith Diet, and I’m cautiously optimistic it will work. Here’s how I imagine it should play out:
I’ve already failed enough in times past to realize my eating habits are stronger than my willpower. Back when I smoked cigarettes, the only time anyone ever offered me one of theirs was immediately after I had decided to quit smoking, and I tried to quit often enough to know a dark spiritual law at work when I see it! I know that cutting back on the food goodies works the same way, and I’d like to get a jump on it before the 4th of July hot dog stampede begins. But it will be doomed to be another failure if I don’t use faith – faith in God, and faith with God. With the Faith Diet, eating habits should be structured by a motive originating in faith, and followed up by faith in action – within a partnership relationship.
As a Christian, I am in partnership with Almighty God. Of course, He’s the stronger partner, and it would be unrealistic for me to seek equality in the merger, but just being in the partnership is all the reward I want. And as a junior partner with a God who is only pleased by faith, I know I’m on the right track to receive His help with the venture, and it is my responsibility to keep my motive healthy. So here’s my idea of a healthy motive:
God created me, and placed me within this humble frame in order to serve Him on this earth. If my body is pudgy or calorically dysfunctional because of my poor eating discipline, I have denied Him the use of it, and cut my usefulness for Him short, as well as my life. But if I have faith that He’ll help me discipline my eating habits out of respect for Him and His agenda, I have every right to expect Him to partnership with me as I do so – hence, The Faith Diet.
So you see, I, the chronic diet failure, have signed up with the always victorious God, the Wonder of the universe. I want to eat healthy so I can be more useful to Him, and for a longer period of my remaining time on the planet.
And quite frankly, although it is a peripheral benefit, the idea that the diet won’t require all new clothing is also a comfort. For once, I’d rather wear them out than out grow them!

John

04/05/2017

“In Vain They Worship Me”

Filed under: Real Life Christianity — John Miltenberger @ 15:35

“Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ [Mark 7:6-7; NKJV]

Is worship an attitude or an action? Actually, worship acceptable to God is first an attitude that should result in action, but many times we see it the other way around. In these verses, Christ bluntly tells the Pharisees and scribes of His day just that, and He labels their kind of “worship” vanity, i.e.: worthless, and perhaps these two verses would be a good meditation as we go into Easter in a few days.
Let’s be honest here; we all struggle with vain worship. It is admittedly a lot easier to “assume a position of worship” than it is to change the prevailing position of our hearts. How many of us have spent time on our knees in a physical posture of worship, while our minds were completely consumed with tomorrow’s football game, or our to-do list? While we were hoping God accepted our worship, He was looking at our to-do list…
I am not saying we are just a bunch of bad people, because in this context “good” and “bad” isn’t the primary focus. Christ is telling the Pharisees that they are hypocrites (actors) who would elevate themselves and their way of “doing church” over God’s way of “being” the Church.
They (and we, much of the time) would rather look worshipful than really worship – it’s easier, less emotionally and spiritually risky, and most of the time, our outward expressions of piety are readily accepted on their face value by our peers. We have become good at fooling our fellow man with our outward appearances; that’s acting and it’s hypocritical.
A big difficulty in fixing this issue of vain worship is compounded by our utter blindness to ourselves. I continue to learn, that when I think I can see myself clearly, that’s usually when I am the most blind. Let’s just ‘cut to the chase’ and admit that only God knows us as we really are, and while we’re at it, let’s admit we don’t handle the truth very well. We need God’s grace and mercy to endure seeing any portion of ourselves as He does, and we definitely need a miracle of restoration to even begin to become who He created us to be. Isn’t it a good thing that nothing is too hard for God?!
I wonder what it would be like to enter into God’s presence without first having to “take out the garbage” inside of myself. Sometimes I feel like I have to dump bags of it at the curb, in order to enter in. What a hassle! And I bet I’m not alone. It’s a dirty world, and we are naturally, dirt-magnets.
This Easter I’m grateful that God’s Word is continually washing me clean, and the blood of His Son can be applied to my doorposts. You see, I’m engrossed in restoring my attitude of worship the way it was always intended to be, and I no longer want to be any good at acting.
If I can get that part restored, the actions will follow naturally.

John

03/31/2017

Reality Check

Filed under: Real Life Christianity — John Miltenberger @ 16:29

1 Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the
LORD and against His Anointed, [saying],
3 “Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.”
4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision.
5 Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure:
6 “Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion.”
7 “I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘You [are] My Son, Today I have
begotten You.
8 Ask of Me, and I will give [You] The nations [for] Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth
[for] Your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s
vessel.'”
10 Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
11 Serve the LORD with fear, And rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish [in] the way, When His wrath is kindled but
a little. Blessed [are] all those who put their trust in Him. [Psalm 2:1-12; NKJV]

Someone sent me an email of a YouTube interview concerning the “Deep State” plot to destroy the United States through nuclear means – from within. The blame is to be placed on North Korea and Iran, but it’s all a subterfuge by the global cabal. Back in the 60’s we used to call the globalists the Illuminati, and most Americans were laughing at the story line then. It’s a lot less funny now, but still, I think most people would today label the whole idea a grand conspiracy theory (in other words: fiction), and forget it. Life goes on forever, just like it always has, right?!
I have three irritated nerves concerning what I term, “The average American Christian”: 1) Strictly speaking, denominationalism is not, never has been, a slam-dunk to heaven, and 2) compartmentalizing our faith to a Sunday morning habit (“It’s what ‘good’ people do, don’t you know…”), is, and always has been the same as sticking our heads in the sand, or making white noises with our mouths (in some places it’s called “worship”) in order to drown out reality.
Perhaps it’s time for a reality check.
My emerging nerve #3, is getting more and more irritated with not finding many Christians who are trying to find God’s perspective in the midst of all these dire warnings, and it’s frustrating to see that the pull is to polarize us into either the “crazy” camp or the “religious” camp.
We seem to be offered two choices: 1) buy guns, ammunition, food, water, survival supplies, portable stuff (like we would be moving around in order to survive – that’s a joke; rush hour is almost non-negotiable now!), or 2) assume God has everything in control and therefore do nothing but continue on with everyday life as we’ve known it. For once, I’d like to tune in to someone who’s heard from God’s throne room, and can offer a viable third choice. Let’s put some foundations in place:
God, not man, created this world, and whether the standard-brand secular Christians realize it or not, He is a very real Person – not human, but a real Person. And, He sent His Son into the world ‘at just the right time’, to redeem the world to Himself, not just to make ancient history and sell Bibles. He created the world – He did not create a myth. That’s the truth.
In our underlying arrogance we’ve perhaps assumed too much concerning the inevitability of our destruction of planet earth. We might destroy quite a bit of it, and we’ve already done a better than average job of killing God’s created beings, but this earth does not belong to us – never did, never will. Our mandate was to govern, not own, and that’s what was fundamentally lost in the Garden of Eden.
I’m not saying the United States won’t disappear in a nuclear cloud; I am saying that if we let Fear govern us, we will never be ready to govern earth. Someone once said that this earthly experience, for the Christian, is ‘training to reign’, and if that’s true, running amok with Fear driving us, is an automatic flunk. The spirit of Fear is real, tangible in some, and very obvious in others.
Prayer works miracles. Many would like to believe that, while concurrently believing their personal participation in it does not. Prayer is for the Christian, an armory of front line weaponry, and most of the time, these weapons sit idle and rust, along with the faith to use them.
I haven’t noticed any haloes hovering over my head in my shaving mirror, but I can testify to this: if your very guts are not involved in prayer, you haven’t yet begun. I picture prayer as this: I’m in the front line of battle with no visible reserves, and millions of well-armed and vicious enemy troops ready to jump off….and I am a dead man unless God shows up. For me, that’s how to pray. Anything less is just so much religious gibberish.
Another thing – I don’t believe the Church of Jesus Christ was ever called to fight a primarily defensive fight. That’s not how the ‘gates of hell’ get taken down; it is rather, how Christians get taken down. If the bulk of my prayers are habitually re-active, I will continue to be habitually late. And worse, it will mean someone other than God is bossing me around by default.
It is by praying pro-actively that we get “prayed up”. Think of it like charging the batteries in your flashlight before night falls. Pro-activity in prayer, if it becomes habit forming for Christians, builds up our skills with the weaponry God has given His Church. He did not leave us defenseless – we did that to ourselves, and what a slap in God’s face every time churches try to manufacture “relevance”!
If the Church of God used the weaponry God gave it, instead of searching high and low for “relevance”, our citizens wouldn’t have to be “sold” church – indeed, we couldn’t keep them away! And the gates of hell would be shaking today.
Pray. The Kingdom of God and the witnesses who’ve gone before us expect us to do so. And if we all disappear in a bright flash of nuclear fusion, the next voice we hear will say, “Well done!”

John

03/30/2017

Rubbish of the Past

Filed under: Real Life Christianity — John Miltenberger @ 08:20

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, [Philippians 3:7-8; NASB]

Here is the statement of a man who was one of the most educated and religiously zealous men of his day. Paul (Saul) the great apostle, after listing his accomplishments, sums up by saying all those things that once seemed so valuable to him, now seem as rubbish compared to knowing Christ.
In Strong’s Concordance, the word ‘rubbish’ actually means: any refuse, as the excrement of animals, offscourings, rubbish, dregs. Paul is not stating that these things are worthless, per se, only that they are worthless compared with knowing Christ. This is indeed indicative of more than a passing intimacy with Christ; it is personal and deep.
I’ve often wondered how the Jews, after receiving so many Messianic prophecies over the preceding generations, and up to this present age, could have missed and are missing their Messiah. Isn’t that amazing? The mathematical odds that Jesus alone was and is the Messiah, are mind-boggling, and point to the sheer impossibility He could have been anyone else in all of history…yet they missed Him at His advent, and many miss Him still. He stood right in front of them, and they missed it! It seems to be an amazing error, and yet, he stands right in front of us too, and multiplied millions miss it today. We are indeed like the man blind; the man Jesus healed.
We are all raised with attitudes, and considering our natural sinful natures at birth, many of our attitudes can hinder, rather than enhance, our acceptance of the Messiah, the only Savior of mankind and creation. It took me many years to “give in” to the call of Jesus upon my life, and even decades later, I still wrestle with hindering attitudes that are still lurking in me. All of my credentials, secular and Christian, are indeed worthless compared to intimately knowing Jesus as the Savior and ultimate lover of my soul.
All the things I think I am, count for nothing, and I find that only what Jesus thinks matters. Credentials are not “evil”, but they just simply don’t count for anything compared to this intimacy, and even with all I think I may know of Christ, when I see a young child worship Him in utter abandon, I cannot express to you my envy of that child, and I would give up everything to know Him that way!
At the beginning of his discourse in Philippians 3 verse 7, Paul wrote, ‘But whatever things were gain to me,’. Notice the word ‘gain’ is placed in the past; Paul is clearly contrasting gain in this worldly system, with gain in God’s Kingdom. I believe Paul is making the argument that our ‘gain’ in this world, rather than facilitating our ‘gain’ in the Kingdom of God, actually hinders us in knowing Christ. His summation is obviously that it is in the intimate knowing of Christ (first), that any meaningful gain can occur in this temporal world.
In effect, Jesus stood right in front of me for decades…and I missed it. Then, when I thought to respond, I let myself get incrementally buried in religion – a sure but slow spiritual death. Lifeless religion fills our spiritual arteries with formaldehyde, and it removes and ultimately replaces the blood of life we get when we are first born again. And I didn’t see it! Indeed, as someone told me last week, I have “a long way to go.” It hurt to hear it, but it was accurate.
Now I feel like a building site. In order for new things to be erected, old things must be demolished and carted away, and it is difficult to divest myself of so many pieces of rubbish I’ve cherished for so long, but it has become a question of Jesus, or rubbish, and the choice is uncomfortable but clear.
Jesus, and Jesus alone, knows what to demolish and cart off, and what to re-construct, for He alone is the Master Builder – He always was, and still is. My job is to get out of the way and let Him do what He knows needs to be done, because frankly, I’m a poor judge of what is rubbish and what is not.
I can say this: I would give up everything to be like that little child. I hope you can say that too.

John

03/28/2017

Jerusalem, City of the Great King

Filed under: Real Life Christianity — John Miltenberger @ 08:09

For the last month or so, I’ve felt pressed to focus my prayers on the United States, as the spiritual battle, contrary to many, was not finished with the last presidential election, but in fact it only opened the door to the real conflict.
The election opened a window for the people of God, a window of time and opportunity, a firm place to pray and fight from, solid ground. That is what the election accomplished, in spite of the multitudes of Christians who have not ceased celebrating, as if it was the culmination of all their prayers. In fact, this last election has only positioned us for a grand battle yet to be fought and won, and it all starts and ends with prayer.
We must keep in mind what is going on in the dimensions of God that we cannot see, and why. At this time, we must put away the party food, tone down the festivities and get to work. It will be hard-fought because the stakes are so high. If we have peace or war on the earth, keep in mind that God’s will is going to be fulfilled, with our cooperation or in spite of it. I’d recommend cooperation.
Like I stated, I’ve been pressed to pray ardently for America for about the last thirty days or so, but that came to an abrupt end two nights ago. I remember I was finished praying, I thought, and was returning to bed when the thought struck my brain like an explosion, and it was not my thought! It was entirely external and I was unprepared for it. Here is what I heard: “Your prayer focus has changed; from now until I tell you to stop, it is to be this: pray that the American embassy in Israel is moved to Jerusalem, the city of the Great King.”
Now I don’t claim to be a lawyer, especially of international law, but I believe that embassy grounds belong to the nation represented therein. Our embassies are like little Americas, and once in the front door, the petitioner stands on American soil. Our embassy in Israel is currently in Tel Aviv. As such, although recognized as American soil, the placement of it in Tel Aviv has no spiritual significance, and the powers in the heavenlies remain unimpressed. They know full well, and we should know it too, that Jerusalem is, and always will be, the City of the Great and coming King.
Jesus will rule from Jerusalem – not Tel Aviv. It was His expressed choice, and that is why the city of Jerusalem has always been the major bone of contention for all the God-haters internationally; Israel certainly, but Jerusalem in particular. Certainly the Muslims know it – why don’t we? It’s plainly stated in the Bible.
The spiritual powers of darkness and their human minions know, that if America moves its embassy to Jerusalem, the prophetic significance for them is catastrophic. They will have been put on notice, and reminded painfully that time is running out for them. Tel Aviv carries no such weight because Jesus will return, and soon it is hoped, to rule and reign on the earth from Jerusalem, and His return will be the culmination of all history on earth.
And by moving our embassy to Jerusalem, the United States is stating, in effect, whether some know it or not, that our country recognizes and endorses this prophetic event. Now that’s supporting Israel! As such, the fight against this happening, both in the heavenlies and consequently on earth, will perhaps be unparalleled in our memory.
I realize that many reading this will wonder what drugs I’m taking, and this piece will zip right over their heads, but I also hope that many who read this will hear the unction of God in it, and begin to intercede, partnering with Him.
For the people God recognizes as His, this is an incredible opportunity and an incredible honor both for them and for the United States. Those countries that bless Israel will be blessed by God; those that curse (or decline to bless) Israel, will be cursed.
Let’s join with Him and with each other, to fight for this prophetic re-positioning; there is much at stake, and it will be hard-fought, but God never calls His own to a fight that’s unwinnable.
I want the United States to be blessed once more by God; we’ve never needed it more, and I want to facilitate the plans of God and the return of His Son.
May His enemies be scattered.

John

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