Here I Stand

2021 has hours left…then…BOOM…2022; which I pray is not 2020-2! ’21 was a horrible year in many regards…”but God”…

I end my ’21 postings with this – a declaration of my narrow-mindedness concerning some aspects of the Christian faith.

The list is not exhaustive, but close. Meaning these are nonnegotiable. I have a lot of opinions (which are, ah, like elbows; everybody’s got a couple), and I have my own beliefs about a lot of secondary stuff (that may not be secondary to you).

But these are absolute. They are not “my” truth…they are TRUTH:

  • Jesus Christ is, always has been, always will be God – specifically the Son of God, part of the trinity (Father Son Holy Spirit)
  • The Bible, in its original autographs (original writing) is inspired by God. Men wrote as they were moved by the Spirit of God. There is no “new” revelation; God’s Word is complete.
  • The Virgin birth is fact; without it we would have no hope.
  • Jesus lived the perfect life on earth; the life we could not live; and died the death we should have died.
  • Jesus was tempted in all things; but remained without sin. Therefore ANY temptation is temptation; and not sin (though it can give birth to sin).
  • Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sin. His substitutionary death, and His resurrection (in which He was declared to be the Son of God) is my only hope.
  • All things were created by, for, and through Christ Jesus. “All” means “All.”
  • God is absolutely sovereign.
  • Faith in Christ is not a good way to heaven, nor the best way; it is the ONLY way to heaven.
  • Salvation occurs when one turns from sin (repents) and believes/trusts in Jesus and the gospel and aims at following Jesus.
  • There is a place called hell, which lasts as long as does heaven. Every human spends eternity in one of those two places.
  • Jesus Christ will return. He will not be early; nor will He be late.
  • Abortion is the unnatural death of a human being.
  • Homosexual behavior is sin; as is premarital sex, extramarital sex, sex with a dog etc. All sexual sin is “sin against the body”(1 Corin 6)…that means “all”…I don’t blame the “gay” community for thinking Christians are homophobic as that is how we all too often come across. I make it a goal to never discuss the sin of homosexual behavior without mentioning other sexual sins; to include pornography.
  • The USofA is not “God’s country”. Jesus is not a republican, nor a democrat.
  • All Christ followers need to be in community; not forsaking the gathering together; usually called “local church.”
  • A ‘chrisian’ racist is a contradiction of terms.

Most will note I have not listed some things Christians fight about.

That is because I will not die on those mountains; nor will I break fellowship with a Christ follower who views those things differently than I do.

For some that is a deal breaker.

So be it.

Some may be shocked or mad that I haven’t listed something they believe is nonnegotiable. I respect that and am willing to listen to arguments that the particular issue should be on the list.

What are your nonnegotiables?

SITREP

Probably most of you know the title stands for “Situation Report.”

No words from me, except that this text is the SITREP for the end of ’21 and the course of ’22. Arm up (stay or get in the Word)! Pray up! Stay alert, stay alive!

Difficult Times Ahead (2 Timothy 3.1-9 csb)

But know this: Hard times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, demeaning, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people.

For among them are those who worm their way into households and deceive gullible women overwhelmed by sins and led astray by a variety of passions, always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so these also resist the truth. They are men who are corrupt in mind and worthless in regard to the faith. But they will not make further progress, for their foolishness will be clear to all, as was the foolishness of Jannes and Jambres.

Struggles in the Christian Life

10 But you have followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, and endurance, 11 along with the persecutions and sufferings that came to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. What persecutions I endured—and yet the Lord rescued me from them all. 12 In fact, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 Evil people and impostors will become worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you, 15 and you know that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God[a] and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Delta Yankee Oscar Tango

Drove my children nuts…

Every time they’d start griping about somebody or pointing something out about another person I’d say, “Delta Yankee Oscar Tango.”

They knew, for I had drilled it into them, that this acronym meant “Do Your Own Time.”

DYOT was something drilled into my head when I was a guest of the state (in Oregon State Prison).

It’s a decision that needs to be made and acted on immediately upon arrival in a maximum security institution.

If you identify with one of the gangs, you end up not only doing your time, but theirs also. If you stay close to just one other inmate, you will do his time in addition to your own.

The guards and others are observing, if not interfering. If you run with a gang or a certain individual they note it…mentally and physically by including a note in your “jacket” (file) that will be seen by the parole board.

So the best way to live is by doing your “own time.”

Works on the street, also.

And it’s biblical…John 21.20-22:

So Peter turned around and saw the disciple Jesus loved following them, the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and asked, “Lord, who is the one that’s going to betray you?”  When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?”

“If I want him to remain until I come,” Jesus answered, “what is that to you? As for you, follow me.”

So the Lord counseled Peter…and me…and you…to “do your own time.”

Don’t compare. Don’t envy. Don’t judge unrighteous judgment (you have to judge righteous judgment).

Delta Yankee Oscar Tango.

Great/Best Witnessing Tool

I was converted by reading a rather whacko book that introduced me to the Bible at the age of 26. I was in a Texas jail cell en route to prison…had no clue what the Bible/gospel was…but in reading God’s inspired Word His Spirit – without my permission by the way – and when I didn’t know He existed – and when I didn’t know the difference between a pentecostal and a king-james-only baptist -His Spirit used the sharper than a two edged sword Word to convict me of sin, judgement, and righteousness and to draw me to salvation.

There was no human being involved – “just” God’s Word.

There are many great ways to share your faith. The best is to share your story; and thus I am convinced the main reason people don’t share their faith is that they are not sure they are saved, and have not “worked out their salvation with fear and trembling.”

But I am convinced a best way to share faith is simply to stock up on some gospels of John..probably cost you a buck a piece.

When prompted, ask a friend or associate if they will accept a gift of the gospel of John, ask them to read it, and then ask if you can follow up in a couple weeks to discuss it.

“Oh, Jack, they will never accept it.”

“Shoot, Jack, they may take it but they will never read it.”

“Jack, to be honest I’m not sure if I have enough guts to try this.”

Why not?

People expect us to talk about what is important to us.

Whatcha got to lose? Maybe they will say, “no.” But maybe…because you have prayed and acted…maybe they will take it…maybe they will read it…and maybe the John portion will perform its stated purpose.

What stated purpose?

The last two verses of John 20 are the “mission statement” for the gospel of John:

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Maybe also consider buying several portions and giving it to friends, with a note asking them to read it and then follow it up a couple weeks later with a phone call.

Really, what do you have to lose? And what do they have to gain?

What Did Mary Know?

One of the great mysteries of life is how a certified ding like Mark Lowry could write lyrics like “Mary, Did You Know?”

I type that with all respect; I’ve had occasion to meet Mark very early in his career and a few times later. He is a poster child for ADD, and loves Jesus crazily.

By God’s good grace I’ve also met the guy who wrote the music, Buddy Green. He and I sat in my office in New York years ago discussing great theological themes, like how much we both enjoyed the Beatles.

Anyway…I like the song. And I’ve heard, over the years, many smart people blast it.

A friend recently commented on one of my threads that he hated the song “because it’s a waste of time. Yes… she knew. Luke 1:26-35.”

Well, here’s the text he cited: “26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged[a] to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you.”[b] 29 But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. 30 Then the angel told her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end.”

So what exactly did she “know?” And how much did this teenager really grasp? Did she go thirty plus years knowing her Son was going to die such a horrific death? Doesn’t seem like that would be a joyous motherhood.

A few times Scripture records Jesus telling the disciples exactly what was going to happen to Him on what we call “passion week.” The Word continues to say they understood none of it.

How come?

Beats me.

But I will continue to enjoy “Mary, Did You Know?” and am hopeful that non-Christians will hear it and begin to wonder…

Jesus Prays…for Me? for You?

Hebrews 7.25 always shakes me: “Therefore He is always able to save those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them.”

The King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the resurrected Savior makes time to pray for us…for me???

What does Jesus pray for us?

Certainly we do not know the full answer, but John 17.20-23 gives us some specifics:

“I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word.  May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one.  I am in them and you are in me, so that they may be made completely one, that the world may know you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me.”

I’m not real bright, but three times in the passage Jesus prays for “oneness,” for unity.

I type this on Sunday morning. Soon I’ll head out to church…a Southern Baptist church. Many of my friends will head out to a Nazarene church, an Assembly of God church, a Methodist church, a Pentecostal assembly, etc.

And that’s okay by me. We are brothers-and-sisters in Christ; not identical twins.

We can and do differ on secondary things. Some are calvinistic; others more arminian. Some don’t know the difference (I wish I were you!)

Some are pretrib, post trib, mid trib; we differ on the ways we look at other aspects of eschatology.

Gasp. Some speak in tongues, some don’t.

Some believe “once saved, always saved,” while others believe you can lose your salvation. (and others, like me, sometime wonder if you can give it up)

I don’t think those secondary doctrinal differences break our oneness…unless..unless…we start loving our pet doctrines more than we love unity.

Colossians 2.2 reads, “I want their hearts to be encouraged and joined together in love, so that they may have all the riches of complete understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery—Christ.”

The ESV reads “knit together in love.

I like that…yarn that goes around other yarn to become stronger.

Maybe we can be more unified if we’d “go around” those secondary things and strive to obey the command to “love one another.”

It’s not compromise.

It’s obedience.

It’s answering, in a way, the prayer of our Lord.