The Trip So Far

08/11/2017

A Retrospective

Filed under: Real Life Christianity — John Miltenberger @ 08:47

As I was praying this morning in the quiet of my house, gentle music playing in the background, a melancholy spirit washed over me and I entered into a contemplative landscape in my mind.
The scenery of the landscape was vast, and I drifted into my past life without any difficulty. I remembered my high school years, most of which occurred in a true, Leave It To Beaver setting in my upper middle class town, with so many beautiful Victorian style homes, peopled with Victorian residents. Large, tree-covered lots, and streets without the packed rush of our modern traffic of today. Beaver Cleaver would have been right at home.
I remembered the days spent throwing snowballs at passing cars, and then running from the cops after mistakenly snow-balling the police car. I remembered the commonality of housewives staying home and cooking, gardening and sewing, with an occasional Bridge Club thrown in for good measure, where they could catch up on the gossip of their lives. Most of them had graduated in the same class, pre-World War II, and most had attended my high school and had had the same teachers I was later to have.
My parents had a large radio that doubled as a piece of furniture in the living room, and I remember sitting in front of the large unit, a sure monstrosity in our modern age, and listening to Korean War statistics, grimly updated every day; how many men and planes shot down, etc., and me wondering what it all was about. I vividly remember the reporter calling out the numbers of downed planes in “Mig Alley”. War, what was “War” all about, anyway? I was about five or six years old, and it was the last time I remember being “innocent”. What I wouldn’t give today to be innocent again… .
Sometimes I think I’ve seen too much, and even as those days dragged by, day to day, the years have rushed past so fast that my head is spinning as I remember all the lost decades.
I remember my pre-Vietnam years well. I remember my friends and peers, many of whom are now dead. I remember my good friend Ned, with whom I had so many adventures; he saved my life one day when we were climbing back into his attic window after smoking cigars on the roof. I lost my balance on the small strip of roof in front of the window and he grabbed me and hauled me inside as I began to fall the three stories to the ground. Ned later went to Vietnam after finishing high school; he came through it all, only to commit suicide. I miss him even today.
Vietnam was a total game-changer for the United States as I had known it, and we’ve never been the same country since. In a weird way, Vietnam was when the country lost it’s innocence. At the time, I and my peer group were ardent supporters of the war. We just figured that if we killed enough of the enemy, all would come back to square. We just couldn’t fathom the anti-war crowd, and yet today I look back at that war, and the resulting changes, as an axe taken to the roots of our country, and I know kids today don’t have any ability to understand these things. Perhaps it was surely a war we never should have fought. All these memories make me feel slightly out of touch every day, like one who exists from a previous existence. How to relate to the kids of today? I have no idea where to even begin.
Then I thought… “But God knows every detail, and there are no mysteries and no surprises to Him.”, but then I began to feel sorry for God. What would it be like to know every detail of history and of every life, never know any surprises and never know a mystery? I don’t envy God at all! I realized with a shock that for me, in many instances, ignorance has indeed been bliss.
The big question for me is why, O why, did I spend so many years struggling to be my own god? How futile; how stupid. Only God is God, and only God can be; I am totally unable to do His job…why did I ever think it wise to be my own boss, my own owner?! My big regret is that I wasted any time at all, much less years and decades, in turning my life over to Him.
I envy the kids at my church who are on fire for God. I envy them because I’ll always wonder where I would be, and who I would be today, had I been on fire for Him at their age, and had I the wisdom to give my life away to Him then.
Every day, life roars past as we seem to plod along. Most of us don’t sense the rush of time in the moment, but I testify in the truth of experience, that life is indeed fleeting. It blasts by as we mistake the small choices we make for big ones. Many small choices, corners we turn that seem insignificant at the time, often end up as life changers in retrospect. God is in control, whether we know it or not. Wouldn’t it make better sense to quit fighting His love, quit going it alone, and give in to the only One fit to reign?
I look at the kids in my church body and in one way I shudder for them; most haven’t been tested, most haven’t been tempered by the storms of life. On the other hand, what I wouldn’t give to be one of their number, for now I realize that God is more than able to take them through to glory, and only God can bring His strength to a broken heart – I wish I had known that at their age.
These that are about to be thrown into the fire for the glory of God, are the fortunate few He has chosen for Himself. We should all be so fortunate.
On my heart for my young friends today, I give you my favorite poem:

TO A WATERFOWL
By William Cullen Bryant

Whither, midst falling dew,
While glow the heavens with the last steps of day,
Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue
Thy solitary way?

Vainly the fowler’s eye
Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong,
As, darkly seen against the crimson sky,
Thy figure floats along.

Seek’st thou the plashy brink
Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide,
Or where the rocking billows rise and sink
On the chafed ocean-side?

There is a Power whose care
Teaches thy way along that pathless coast –
The desert and illimitable air –
Lone wandering, but not lost.

All day thy wings have fanned,
At that far height, the cold, thin atmosphere,
Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land,
Though the dark night is near.

And soon that toil shall end;
Soon shalt thou find a summer home, and rest,
And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend,
Soon, o’er thy sheltered nest.

Thou’rt gone, the abyss of heaven
Hath swallowed up thy form; yet, on my heart
Deeply has sunk the lesson thou hast given,
And shall not soon depart.

He who, from zone to zone,
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
In the long way that I must tread alone,
Will lead my steps aright.

John

07/26/2017

Abdication’s Road To Ruin

Filed under: Real Life Christianity — John Miltenberger @ 14:06

“Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, [you] hypocrites? “Show Me the tax money.” So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription [is] this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
[Matthew 22:17-21; NKJV]

I don’t really like Facebook, and I actually look forward to the day when it will cease to exist, but as I do have it, I stuff my page with Christian blogs (usually my own), conservative political articles and observations, and political humor. I should add that nowhere is the link between comedy and tragedy more evident than in political humor. What is interesting to me is the general lack of “likes” I receive for the political things I post. Only a few of my crazy veteran friends seem to be willing to stand out and declare themselves.
Perhaps most of those who read my political posts are socialists (democrats), but I doubt it or I would be getting hate mail from them. Hate seems to be thriving on the left side of the aisle these days. Imagine being known for hating! What a legacy. What concerns me is the apparent lack of political engagement by Christians in America, because unless God likes Americans better than anyone else, He placed us here for His own Kingdom reasons. But rather than embrace those reasons, and respond accordingly, many Christians still find solace in tucking their heads in religious, Christian sand. “Politics” is too dirty for us to be concerned about, don’t you know? We must be better than that!
I fully understand that God’s Kingdom takes precedence over any kingdom of man, and should come first in our devotion on all counts, but I would also point out that Christians in America very often avoid political discussions by hiding behind their beliefs. God had good reasons for putting us in this almost free country, and I say ‘almost’ because many “good” Christians have been dodging their civic responsibilities for decades.
America has, in my opinion, a unique destiny on the world stage, and God birthed our nation for His own, unique reasons, and yet as the heathen are too captivated by worldly events and politics, American Christians have almost completely succeeded in subtracting themselves from the political ambience of our culture. We have, in this aloofness, abdicated our God given governmental responsibilities to the heathen, who seem to have a proclivity for hating God…and anyone else who disagrees with them. Do we really want them to govern over us while we yet live?
Frankly, without Christians making inroads in our governmental proceedings, particularly now, in 2017, I fail to see how America will stand out as a “Christian nation”, anymore than individual Christians will stand out by being cowed into silence. How is that being an example?
It may just be that America exists and has been set apart by God Himself, to impact the world for Christ, to stand with Israel when nobody else will, and to facilitate the presentation of Christ to the Jews, as Israel’s long-awaited Messiah. How will that happen if American Christians, by their dismal lack of political involvement, try to evangelize the world for Jesus from inside our very own socialist run gulags? Can’t happen? Think again. I’m sure that never seemed possible to millions of European Jews in the late 1930’s, but they were murdered right out of their opinions.
I can’t see why we can’t understand, as American freeborn and re-born Christians, why freedom is not worth investing in. If we don’t value it, or if we take it for granted (which we do), who will maintain it? The socialists? If we are too ‘heavenly minded to be of any earthly good’, by our own choice, how is that not putting our Lights under baskets? Were we left here to passively march off to another train full of socialist boxcars? I feel confident in declaring that was never, and is not now, God’s plan for America.
If we want to be free to talk about Jesus to a lost world, it only makes sense that we remain free to do it.
Abdication is the road to ruin; some things never change. I’m just offended that after all the history, just in the last century, we good Christians can’t seem to figure it out.

John

07/18/2017

Where Did It Go?

Filed under: Real Life Christianity — John Miltenberger @ 16:01

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun. [Ecc 1:9; HCSB]

Somehow this afternoon I got stuck on the internet browsing my high school senior class (all 561 of them) of the mid 1960’s. It was quite a trip; amazing the memories that come back after over fifty years! I’m currently taking a class at my church twice a week, and it is mostly full of young twenty something’s. I well remember being their age.
The contrast between the classmates I sat with this morning, and the photos of the classmates I sat with in the 60’s was incredible! In short, there was no contrast! Any one of the kids pictured in my old high school yearbook would have fit right into my current classroom, and I was reminded of Solomon’s declaration, ‘there is nothing new under the sun.’ My browsing did come with a risk, for now I feel like I am a hundred years old, or older, and probably the kids in my current class think the same of me…and at their age, I did too.
I remember being a senior in high school, and thankfully I’ve forgotten much. Later that same year I suffered my biggest heartbreak – one I have never forgotten. Yes, our hearts heal, and life does go on, and as the song says, “Our scars will heal, our hearts will mend, and we will dance again..”, but the pattern of the old woundings somehow gets etched in secret places in our hearts that most of the time, only God sees. The pain of the fiery trial is long gone, but the etched surface of my heart remains, hidden in the archives of my mind. Thankfully, I don’t often dwell on them; they belong to God.
Time belongs to God, and we are given only a small, circular portion of it during our lives, and those of us in my generation know how quickly life flies by. We were warned it would do that when we had our turns at being twenty something, but none of us really believed it. That was just something the old ones said. It was almost a required, generational script. Little did we know what they were trying to tell us. Solomon knew it, when he was young…
What can my generation possibly share with the current generation that would make any sort of a lasting difference to them? I remember being firmly convinced that “old” was anyone over forty….and then I had to revise it when forty smacked me so suddenly! I see this generation of “church kids” happily interacting with their classmates, and it should be so, for this is their turn, while I’ve had most of mine. But it makes me sad in very deep places, to see some of their eyes glass over, just like mine once did, when the same old warnings are told to them. There is truly nothing new under the sun.
Solomon understood great joy, but he also balanced it with great sorrow. But as we observe him, perhaps we should take note that the wisest man in all the earth finished his turn poorly. He was offered unlimited blessings, and God went out of His way warning Solomon how to walk before Him and prosper, yet Solomon apparently finished his turn in gross idolatry. In short, Solomon had too many women and too many gods. But we know better, don’t we? Don’t we?
When I was in my teens, my parents attended a large Presbyterian church, as had their parents. It was simply expected that I too would become a third generation member, which I eventually did. In that church, at that time, our Sunday services were highly detailed on a program brochure handed out by the ushers. There was no deviation, and absolutely no flexibility in the services.
Listed on the programs was a time for group repentance, a prayer by the junior pastor and a prayer and a sermon (20 minutes) from the senior pastor, several songs we listened to from the professional choir, and several songs we sang from our hymnals (never announced because they were numerically noted on the placards by the pulpit), and we were gone for another week in 1.5 hours…sharp.
That said, I wonder if the students I sat with in class this morning have any remote idea of how incredibly blessed they are to be going to our particular church. God has obviously chosen them to participate in a church on fire, but do they truly value it? I sincerely hope so. Their turn at life is so full of opportunities, and I hope they know that. I had Vietnam looming over my future at their age, and they have the iPhone 8? I hope they see value when it stares them in their faces. Some of the kids I see weekly have never known another church, having only heard the horror stories from old ones like me. The stories are true, and you haven’t heard the half of it!
I wish now that I had fallen completely in love with God in my teen years, and I often wonder just where I would be now if I had. If I could, I’d give just three words of advice to the younger ones: love God with all your hearts; stop loving yourselves in the process, and never let adversity weaken your faith. Let God use it to make your faith in Him stronger. Oh, one more word: don’t spend much time digging around in old yearbooks!
Everything after that will work out in His way and in His time.

John

07/11/2017

The Broccoli of God

Filed under: Real Life Christianity — John Miltenberger @ 15:43

[Job 23:10; NKJV]:
10 But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.

[Psalm 105:19; NKJV]:
19 Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the LORD tested him.

Many years ago I owned a very well made, expensive pistol. I enjoyed owning the pistol, and I was enthralled with the workmanship evident in its design and function. It was a beautiful, very precise machine, and I loved it. Then one day it failed me. Perhaps the problem was the ammunition, or some other issue, rather than the pistol itself, but I realized I would never be able to trust the gun, and I would always wonder when it would fail me again. It was a beautifully constructed piece, but because I could no longer trust it, I sold it immediately.
I’m glad that God doesn’t treat us like I treated the pistol I could not trust, and He has given me many chances and “do-overs”, but I have to say, if I want to move into the deeper places of God in my relationship with Him, and I do, trust is a huge issue – for both of us. I must be able to trust God implicitly, and He needs to be able to trust me as well.
I have met many men and women believers who stunned me with their God-given authority, and I have to admit always wanting to be like them, but that authority is a gift given by God to those He chooses, and I’m sure those people would say it came at a price. While I may think I’m the obvious choice to be like them, God apparently understands that currently, there is a lot of work needing to be done in me. And looking at it from His perspective, I’m sure He’s right. With issues like this, there is a line in the sand of our character development that only God can see, and I believe He wants us to cross it with Him. I call it the line of demarcation of our faith, and it’s different for each of us.
After a certain point in our journey with God, we get comfortable with living on our side of that line. We have come to know our limits and our comfort zones, and if we can just manage to not get too crazy, we can remain comfortable, but then God comes along and asks, “Do you want to move further into Me? Do you want to know me better?” And while the answer may come easily, as we raise our hand in church, or step valiantly forward with other fellow Christians at the emotional apex of a service, perhaps we’ve failed to count the cost. God knows whether we are sincere or not, and He also knows if we are sincerely ignorant, but the point is…we don’t know. That’s where testing comes into play.
Only through testing can I really get to know God. Until then, He might seem more like an ultra-human in the clouds of my mind, or a good philosophy, but only through testing can I accurately see Him as He wants to be seen. Him, as a personality; Him with His own heart’s desires; Him with a love that simply never quits; Him, the One to Whom nothing is too small to be insignificant in the lives of His kids. I have to move from God the Theory, to God, my very own, intimate Redeemer. And when that happens, I have crossed the line.
Simply stated, the more I really know God, the more authority He gives me. He has to trust that I will use it for the betterment of His Kingdom, rather than my own internet presence, etc., and this trust comes to me at the cost of testing. Moses was led by God to take the newly freed Israelite slaves into camp on the shore of the Red Sea. It was probably quite refreshing for them compared to the bog pits of Egypt, until they saw that the Egyptian army was heading their way and the sea was their only route of escape.
Testing…it is stressful; it is meant to be, for the stress of testing exposes weaknesses we didn’t know we had, and throws us onto God as our only Hope. Believe me, the doctor is not the only hope, but we most often go there first. Only after all earthly hope is lost do some of us opt for God. Testing exposes that.
Testing is embarrassing. I can’t count the crow I’ve had to eat after failing God’s tests. Testing produces humility, but not without some kind of pain, for most of us don’t come into the world as humble people. True humility is unnatural to us, and although we are in charge of humbling ourselves, humility comes to us externally as a byproduct of the humbling.
Right now would be a great time for me to delineate sickness, disease and infirmity from testing. I want to be very clear here: God does not give us sickness, disease or infirmity, for where in heaven would the storehouse be? They do happen to us though, and God should not be charged with guilt when He uses these times in our lives as opportunities to test us, and mature our faith. Frankly, it makes perfect sense to me…when nothing’s wrong, I never even see the test, and there is no contest of faith required.
When I told God I would follow Jesus all the days of my life, I volunteered to be tested. I did it to myself, and if I can be helped through the tests that come, and draw closer to Him in the process, it’s well worth it to me. I don’t have to like the process, but I do value it.
At this stage of my life my armor is all dirty and dinged up. Some doctor asked me the other day if I had ever had any operations, and as I fleshed out the answer I felt like a human pincushion. I even forgot several rather dynamic events – they just got lost in the haze of time. But God has seen me through faithfully, and He’s been faithful even when I haven’t been. He has a perfect record with me, and I don’t foresee any changes.
By the way, that ‘line of demarcation’ I mentioned earlier is always moving farther up and farther in, as C. S. Lewis wrote, but the only way to move it is to cross it. I can’t count the times I’ve failed God, and I can’t count the times He’s picked me back up and dusted me off. He never fails, and He can be trusted.
My job is to meet God’s conditions; His job is to make good on His promises. Christianity is a divine/human partnership on all levels, and right now is a perfect time to figure that out. I really feel sorry for those who think their “religion” will see them through – especially in these times. For the Christian, religion is a luxury they cannot afford.
Testing is usually uncomfortable, but it is necessary. I think testing is the broccoli of God – great for you, but definitely no fun to eat! If you’re serious in your faith, you will be tested…you may as well volunteer for it.

John

06/24/2017

Sometimes He Comes To Me

Filed under: Real Life Christianity — John Miltenberger @ 19:12

In the darkest of nights, in the most seemingly dire circumstances, sometimes He comes to me. Alone in the strange hospital room, wired up with IV’s, hooked up to blood pressure cuffs, hurting from all the traumatic, abortive attempts to start lines into veins that roll, dodging the needles, bruised from the wounds and scared at the overshadowing prognosis, He comes to me. And when He comes, everything is made right, and nothing broken remains unfixed, even though outwardly there is no visible change – when He comes, everything changes and nothing is the same.
He came to me last year, as I lay in a strange hospital, miles from my home town. Strange, tormented sounds echoed down the dark, empty hallways outside my room, but even listening to the screams of some tormented person down the hall, and the clicks and pumping sounds of all the computers monitoring my welfare, function by function, He came to me there, and comforted me in the dark room. And when He came, there was for awhile, no darkness, no fear, no overwhelming loneliness, just Him and His peace, and His presence filled the room from top to bottom, from corner to corner, and all was right with the world. He comes like that sometimes, and I am only fully alive in His presence.
I thought back on His visit to me that night, and I longed for Him to visit again. I cannot compel Him to come no matter how hard I try; it is entirely up to Him. I looked back to that time, last year, and thought perhaps it was a singular event, perhaps brought on by the music I had been listening to, or perhaps one of the pain killers in my bloodstream had softened my difficult exterior in some way. Perhaps I was just lonely and scared enough to merit a visit. I had never been sure what brought about His presence other than His decision to do so.
But then a few days ago, I was again lying in a strange hospital bed, far away from the familiarity of my own surroundings, and I was “wired up” to the machines and computers that reported on my vitals to nurses I could not see. The room was dark in the middle of the night, but this time, the hall outside my room was silent. I was very alone, and fighting the incessant fear that kept whispering that my life was forever changed for the worse…and He came to me again.
Might sound a bit over the edge to some, but I assure you that sometimes He comes to me. How do I know? The very atmosphere changes, and I can feel my heart soften. I begin to praise Him, not because I know I should, not even because He is worthy of it; I praise Him because I cannot keep from praising Him. Tears, unusual for me, begin to well up in my eyes, and a deep joy quietly comes to view in my soul…and time has no meaning and things of earth, so important before, suddenly just simply don’t matter at all. He comes to me like that, and I feel alive for the first time since the last time He came to me. This is the Jesus I know.
He decides when to come, and I can’t compel Him to do so – He is never at my command, but He comes to simply show me He loves me, and is thinking about me. I am not alone in the darkness of my circumstances; I am with Him, and the prognosis of educated men have no value in His presence.
This morning, fresh from my release from the hospital, still in some shock, like one blindfolded and beat up by an unseen crowd, I awoke in my own bed, and a song I have on a playlist somewhere was floating in my head. Several times today I thought of the song, but paid it no mind…I was busy, you know. But then as I watched my wife fix supper, I couldn’t deny it any longer, and I put on the playlist…and when the song that had been in my head all day began to play, the atmosphere in my living room changed, tears began to well up in my eyes, and praises I could not stop began to pour out to Him, straight from my heart.
Sometimes, He comes to me, and I am only alive in His presence. I sincerely hope He sometimes comes to you.
That’s the Jesus I know….

John

06/17/2017

Do It Again, Lord!

Filed under: Real Life Christianity — John Miltenberger @ 19:44

Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. [Lamentations 3:22-23; NKJV]

‘When the voice of the Lord has awakened the church, the voice of he church will awaken the Lord, and the power of God will be manifested in the saving of sinners.’
Arthur Wallis, In The Day Of Thy Power

We are a static species. If God moves upon us in power and wonder one day, we codify it in our experience and seek Him only within the bounds of duplication, yet God is limitless…He reaches out to us anew, and in new ways, each new day. But we would not have it so.
Although we know better than to seek God within the static limits of past experiences, and none of us would both seek Him new for today while at the same time restricting Him by how He’s moved in the past, it is what we most naturally do.
What if God wants to reveal Himself to us in new ways? What if the limits of our previous experiences are too constrictive for His Spirit to move in today? What then? We’ve seen some great revivals in which God has moved upon men’s hearts in incredibly life-changing ways. Replete with powerful miracles of healing and deliverance, true trademarks of the work of God, we read written accounts, and our hearts burn within us. We cry out, “Do it again, God!”, but what if He wants to ‘do it again’ in new and different ways…are we ready for that?
It is my belief that we must seek God as little children, and little children always live in the “right now”; easier for them than us, because as little children, they don’t carry the burdens and baggage of history, as we often do. They aren’t hampered by previous experiences, for compared to us, they have none. They simply come to Him because they feel safety and love in His presence – and they trust well.
I believe God wants to do a new work in our time, a work unhindered and unlimited by any past history. It will be done, of course, within the confines of His word, for He will not act without it, but a new work in our day. And when we pray to be made ready for it, as we should, for so we are moved upon by His Spirit to pray, we should know that in fact, we honestly don’t know what it will look like when it crests the horizon.
I say, let God make me ready, for I do not want to be left behind or sidelined by my own, preconceived, stifling expectations.
Do it again, LORD…but do it Your way; a new way, a way that may indeed be new every morning – as You are new.
Make us ready for that!

John

06/15/2017

Walking The Line

Filed under: Real Life Christianity — John Miltenberger @ 17:27

I have never claimed to be a good writer, it’s just something I love to do. I love the written word, and I like the mental struggle I often engage in to find just the right word or phrase with which to express myself. I sincerely hope, that those who read what I write will focus more on the “engagement” of ideas that might get provoked in their own minds as they read, rather than the shallow substance of “Who’s right, versus who’s wrong”, which will never be fully settled until we look back on these times from eternity. I don’t suppose Jesus is preoccupied with our prognostications on who is right or who is wrong; I do think He is focused on who is faithful, and who will stand by Him no matter what does happen.
Even more than writing, I love God’s word, spoken and written, and more than that, I find myself addicted to the vibrant life I’ve found in His word over the years. I haven’t spent the last seven decades evolving into a paragon of virtue and wisdom, rather, I’ve spent them in the hard-knocks school of life, which will no doubt continue until I look up into His Face. We are all in the same boat, even if all of us don’t necessarily share in the same destination.
In our modern world, with so much obviously out of whack on so many fronts, it is tempting as Christians to acquire a bi-polarity of focus. Many, if not most Christian writers, tend to be in the corner of worldly affairs, or to be in the other corner of other-worldly affairs.
It is extremely easy to see one corner full of those who seem to advocate wanting to fix the political and governmental world with Jesus, versus those in the other corner who want to flee the world and just be alone with Jesus, and while I see Jesus in both corners, I wonder just where does Jesus see Himself?
I’m reminded of the Bible verses, Joshua 5:13 and 14. In these verses, Joshua, Moses’ successor as the spiritual and military leader of Israel, was confronted by a man with a drawn sword in his hand, and since this was happening right before the fight for Jericho was to begin, Joshua asked the logical question, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” The man answered classically, “No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.”
I love these verses as they seem to shine much light on how God Himself views our earth-ness, as indeed the mystery of this Man is made clear as He tells Joshua to take off his sandal(s), for His presence on the scene has made the ground Joshua stands on to be holy. This Man holding the sword (the sword of the Word, no doubt), is revealed as none other than the Son of God in a pre-incarnate appearance. And indeed, God has always maintained a presence on the earth.
It must be noted here that the God of Heaven, in the Person of His Son, came down to confront Joshua, and the confrontation reinforced several things. First, the holiness of God appeared on the very ground shared by the feet of Joshua, and by extension, the nation of Israel Joshua represented. Second, the Commander of the hosts of heaven revealed Himself as such to show He was intimately concerned with the pending confrontation and destruction of evil on the earth, represented by those cowering inside the walled city of Jericho. And third, this great Commander was demonstrating His intended partnership with mankind, and His desire to work with and through man to bring holiness to the earth and to destroy evil, something later attributed to Jesus, the Messiah, who ‘came to destroy the works of the devil’ (on earth).
I could make many more points, but what I’m trying to show is that God is wholly concerned and involved in the events of earth, and His covenant-connected, chosen people represent Him while they are here. Through the New Birth and the New Covenant, that’s us.
Within a few days after this remarkable confrontation, Joshua got a close up, two-handed experience of a transformative encounter with God. On one hand, Joshua had an over-the-top spiritual experience of a lifetime, and in the other hand, he was soon to wield an iron sword dripping with human blood.
Joshua learned through experience what it was like to turn a burning bush encounter into earthly action, and maybe we should learn this lesson for ourselves. Joshua’s close encounter with God resulted in him being given the specific strategy to defeat a great walled, otherwise impenetrable city on earth. Encounter resulting in action…can we modern American Christians learn from this?
My conclusion is that Christians can not afford to be stuck in one corner where we think, eat, breathe and dream of affecting the world through politics and human actions, but neither can we profit the Kingdom of God by being so ‘heavenly minded we are no earthly good.’ Both have to be combined, and we have to learn to walk this fine line while avoiding the temptations to polarize into the corners. As God’s family, we need to live out the lesson Joshua learned before Jericho.
We were left on earth for a reason. Maybe it’s time to earnestly seek the Commander of the hosts of heaven, Who still has a sword in His hand, and once we find Him, ask Him for ourselves, “Now that You’ve come, what is it You want me to do?” I believe God is looking for just such men and women.
I want to be on that list.

John

06/13/2017

Out Of The Shadowlands

Filed under: Real Life Christianity — John Miltenberger @ 07:53

I usually shudder when I hear of Christian martyrs, and I fervently pray that if called upon to give up my life, God will glorify Himself by helping me die well.
These are things not often discussed by the brethren, as we meet for prayer or Sunday morning worship, but these are things I’d like to have pre-settled in my mind. Will I have what it takes? It is critical that we learn to trust firmly and doggedly in God while we have this window of time, for all times have their life spans, and all windows eventually shut.
Some would say these thoughts are too morbid to dwell on, and if we ‘dwell’ on them, yes, they are. But we are never encouraged in Scripture to live reactive, rather than proactive prayer lives, and to be fully ready, we must allow ourselves to be equipped for God’s service, in whatever form it takes.
Policemen carry guns not for the sake of morbidity, but to be equipped for any situation, but I think perhaps we have made ourselves too similar to England’s policemen in our spiritual readiness. Hoping for the best is good, but it’s not good if we enter the future spiritually unarmed and willfully naïve.
As we enter these times, times in which civil war may be imminent in our country, I have been praying that the children of God will be fully equipped to serve Him, whatever the future brings, for all is under the ultimate jurisdiction of our God. We must be made ready, and we must be willing to be made ready, or else we will shuffle along with our peers, firmly inside the invisible limits sanctioned by our particular churches. How is that wisdom? How is that ready?
For the last five years or so, I’ve been fervently praying that God would reveal the “real”, and diminish anything less, so prevalent in our Spirit-filled church congregations. Where are the real apostles? Where are the real prophets? You get the gist. Where are they?
I earnestly desire to see miracles of healing happen whenever healing prayer is offered. I want to see people raised from the dead and missing limbs grow out, and have it be normal! I want to encounter the fire of God as Moses did, and I want know we shake the walls of God’s throne room when we pray. We should be doing that; I know it!
I have to wonder…where did these burning, yes, ‘burning’ desires come from if not from God? I do know this – they didn’t come from Satan, and as long as my heart is humble, they haven’t come from me, and yet they torment me with desire, a holy frustration, and I cannot escape them! It is a bitter-sweet frustration, and it tears me apart sometimes.
I desire to see God’s Kingdom, His real Kingdom, rock this old world back on it’s heels, but other than a glimmer here and there, I have not seen it like I believe God Himself wants it to be seen. I also think that any hindrances to these manifestations of His presence are not on His side of the equation, and that concerns me.
We have those today who “prophecy”, by speaking good, scriptural intentions over others, and I’m not calling it into question, but where are the ones called to be Prophets by office? Where are the ones who will go where God sends them, having no agenda of their own, and repeat with conviction, the very words God puts in their bones? Where are the ones who are called and bound to do this even when it will be their death sentence to do so? Where are the Burning Ones who carry His very words?
I am desperately hungry for these to be brought forth on the earth, and I’m getting more desperate with every passing day. Never have we needed the “real” more than we need it now, and yet, time drags by as we indulge in the “normal” of the shadow-real. I know, it’s the best we can do, and it’s better than nothing, but that doesn’t make it real, and that doesn’t mean God is manifested the way He wants to be manifested through those called to burn for Him.
It is time for the great men and women of God to come forth from the shadowlands of the religious. It is time, but their coming forth must be fought for, because nothing worth having is cheap and easy.
No birth is without contention.

John

06/12/2017

Is There Any Value In Controversy?

Filed under: Real Life Christianity — John Miltenberger @ 10:59

I’ve heard a lot of discussion lately that seeks to contrast what is called our
Western “Greek Mindset” with the mindset of the biblical authors. I’m sure you know the Greeks were biblically famous for loving a good debate, just for the sake of debate. Growing up in, and inundated within a North American “Greek Mindset” culture, I get the teachings about this mindset, and it is helpful in understanding the context of Scripture; I don’t want to minimize that.
Someone once said, “Your opinion of me is none of my business.”, and I’d like to lead off with that quote. I know up front that I could be taken to task, and quite likely graded down and/or labeled because of this opinion. So be it. I refuse in advance to accept any offense, however it arrives. Just to hold an opinion these days is to risk offending someone, and if you’re offended, do try to get over it.
That said, there have always been controversies about the meaning and application of many Bible doctrines. I’m not claiming to be a Bible scholar, and I don’t have any Bible school credentials and likely never will, but I’d like to pose an overarching question about controversies and doctrines, namely, What is the value of Bible controversy? Stated another way: Is Bible controversy, simply for the sake of controversy, worthwhile?
The controversy I would call into question here is the one that proposes we are not, in fact, in the biblically stated “last days”. Some very well educated men have come out with their opinion that we are not, and have made a case that the phrase “last days” refers not to the end of this age as we know it, but to the end of the Old Covenant.
In contrast, there has been for many decades, a prolific and widely accepted church teaching that we are indeed, in the “last days”. This position is often backed up with scriptures taken from Matthew 24. It is well worth reading, and I can easily understand why a controversy would naturally occur if one were to state we are actually not in the last days.
I looked up the phrase, “last days” in the Blue Letter Bible, and found these interesting New Testament (New Covenant) verses. Each one of these verses were inspired, and penned by authors living after the New Covenant was put into play by the death and resurrection of Christ:

[Act 2:17 NKJV] ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. (quoted by the Apostle Peter from the Old Covenant promise stated in Joel 2:28-32, and stated by him to be the one, the only New Covenant fulfillment).

[2Timothy 3:1 NKJV] But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:

[Hebrews 1:2 NKJV] has in these last days spoken to us by [His] Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

[James 5:3 NKJV] Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days.

[2Peter 3:3 NKJV] knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,

This might be a good time to mention that if we are not currently living within the framework of the “last days”, these (New Covenant) authors must have had it all wrong. Do we dare to imply that our “inspiration” is more “inspired” than what they wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, after the initiation of the New Covenant?
With regard to Biblical doctrinal controversy, I believe it is valuable insofar as it causes one to dig into Scripture in an effort to understand just what God intended us to understand, and clarify what one believes. That is a great example of ‘seeking His Face’. Outside of that, I see no value, but it is a great example of how our Greek mindsets seek to objectify biblical authors and their writings.
Really, with regard to the “last days” – or not, how does it matter what we believe as long as we live our lives according to the righteous standards of the Kingdom of Heaven, standards we currently do understand without any controversy. Indeed, why raise these contrasting viewpoints at all? Are we attempting to reinforce what we already believe, and therefore justify? Just asking; no accusation.
Frankly, I don’t care who is right, and who is wrong within this controversy, because whether we are living in the last days, or have thousands of years to go, or even if the last days have already occurred, my chosen allegiance and lifestyle remains unaffected. Jesus Christ was, is, and will always be the King of Heaven. More importantly to me….He is my King and my Savior, whatever “days” we’re living in, and He promised to return for me. Where is the controversy that impugns that?
Tomorrow, or next week, or whenever, it will rain again. I like to carry a raincoat in my car, just in case, but I’m not going to lose any sleep if the raincoat is not needed. I am prepared, I am ready for the rain, but I’m going to fully enjoy the days of sunshine God gives me in the meantime.
Last days or not, Rapture or not…history will happen regardless of our current opinions of biblical doctrines. And as those doctrines are clarified and placed into sharp focus by history, which will no doubt validate Scripture, and verify or invalidate our mere opinions, is controversy, just for the sake of controversy, of any value?
Frankly, I like the truth that I can live a blessed life in the Kingdom of God while I yet live, because of the cross of Christ, and His resurrection power living in me. That applies right now – today.
I can do that right now and in the days to come, regardless of whether they are the last days, or not. I don’t have time to debate or enter into controversies that yet remain unproven. I do know this about doctrines – all will eventually be made clear.
My job is to love and serve Jesus Christ with love, loyalty and devotion, and with respect to any historical timeframe we are, or are not in – that is where the rubber meets the road for me.
That’s what’s on my mind today, and I will not debate it.

John

06/09/2017

Christians In Politics? Are You Kidding?

Filed under: Real Life Christianity — John Miltenberger @ 14:55

Several days ago I posted on Facebook a 1.5 hour long video of Dutch Sheets talking about America, and how there still is a God-ordained destiny for our country. Among other things, Dutch stated that God had told him, “I AM GOVERNMENT.” According to Dutch, this was given to him as an apolitical statement.

Many Christians, and apparently many Christian leaders as well, stay away from political topics like they were some form of plague. Of course, this was not the case in the late 1700’s, or we would either be living in a British Commonwealth or speaking German.

The fact is, America has been more blessed than any other nation in history precisely because American Christians invested their lives and fortunes in American government. These radically brave men and women of faith understood something we’ve forgotten in our “fatness”, namely that if our freedoms, based upon our Constitution, fall prey to the Globalist elites currently exposing themselves, our homes won’t be our own much longer, and neither will our families.

The irony to me, is that who among us wouldn’t defend our families to the uttermost of our abilities, up to and including taking a life, if our children’s lives were weighed in the balance? I cannot imagine any parent cowardly enough to turn tail and merely whimper while their children were being slaughtered, if they yet possessed the ability to stop the threat. Without the ability to defend our own homes, we will eventually lose them, and everything and everyone in them. And if we don’t have the freedom to raise our own children, some stranger in government will. Yet our modern pulpits remain mostly silent; politics is dirty, don’t you know?

I think it may have been Finney who said that politics only became dirty when Christians got out of it, and any casual look at the erosion of our freedoms just since World War II, would bear that out. I’m totally on board with the primacy of world wide evangelism, but I doubt those evangelistic efforts would be as fruitful if American Christians had to live in gulags due to non-engagement with the politics of their government.

I believe in the statement Dutch Sheets says God gave him: “I AM government”. God created government, not man, and while He sits enthroned far above all governmental entities, our American political system, composed of political parties, is what we currently have to work within, and it’s obviously broken. Should the heathen be trusted to fix it?

Our political system is chronically sick and broken because it has been feeding itself on the increasingly potent poison of partisanship, and it may well be fatal if Christians don’t once again get involved. If God created government, why would He tell His own children, who will someday rule the world with Him, to stay clear away from politics?

Of course the Globalists hate us. Hate has always been their family trademark. How can we think to plunder their camp without risk? Like Jesus; like disciple. Well, we were warned!

Hatred is what they do…are we Christians good with that? Will they be allowed to run our government and rule our country because we think we’re too good to get dirty? Can’t we simply pray God’s blessings upon them and leave it at that? How would that work if God is waiting for us to step forward with the authority He gave His disciples when He sent them forth, while we wait for God to “do something”?

If the creator of government, ‘is government’ , how can we remain in good standing with Him by abdicating our God-given authority to the God haters pulling the strings of power in our place?

Personally, and this is just me, I’m praying that first, God will impact our government with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Prayer should always come first, and it can bring about better, more permanent cures, but secondly, I’m also praying God will remove every person and every governmental system that is tainted by corruption. And as far as I’m concerned, how He does it and who He targets is totally up to Him.

God has plans for America and His people living there; it’s time we got back on the right track.

This piece reflects my personal opinion, nothing will arrive in the mail!

 

John

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