A Blue Rose

blue rose

I needed to go to the store for some needed items, which included light bulbs, paper towels, trash bags, detergent and Clorox. So off I went.

I scurried around the store, gathered up my goodies and headed for the checkout counter, only to be blocked in the narrow aisle by a young man who appeared to be about sixteen-years-old. I wasn’t in a hurry, so I patiently waited for the boy to realize that I was there. This was when he waved his hands excitedly in the air and declared in a loud voice, “Mommy, I’m over here.”

It was obvious now, he was mentally challenged and also startled as he turned and saw me standing so close to him, waiting to squeeze by. His eyes widened and surprise exploded on his face as I said, “Hey Buddy, what’s your name?”

“My name is Denny and I’m shopping with my mother,” he responded proudly.

“Wow,” I said, “that’s a cool name; I wish my name was Denny, but my name is Steve.”

“Steve, like Stevarino?” he asked. “Yes,” I answered. “How old are you Denny?”

“How old am I now, Mommy?” he asked his mother as she slowly came over from the next aisle.

“You’re fifteen-years-old Denny; now be a good boy and let the man pass by.”

I acknowledged her and continued to talk to Denny for several more minutes about summer, bicycles and school. I watched his brown eyes dance with excitement, because he was the center of someone’s attention. He then abruptly turned and headed toward the toy section.

Denny’s mom had a puzzled look on her face and thanked me for taking the time to talk with her son. She told me that most people wouldn’t even look at him, much less talk to him.

I told her that it was my pleasure and then I said something I have no idea where it came from, other than by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I told her that there are plenty of red, yellow, and pink roses in God’s Garden; however, “Blue Roses” are very rare and should be appreciated for their beauty and distinctiveness. You see, Denny is a Blue Rose and if someone doesn’t stop and smell that rose with their heart and touch that rose with their kindness, then they’ve missed a blessing from God.

She was silent for a second, then with a tear in her eye she asked, “Who are you?”

Without thinking I said, “Oh, I’m probably just a dandelion, but I sure love living in God’s garden.”

She reached out, squeezed my hand and said, “God bless you!” and then I had tears in my eyes.

May I suggest, the next time you see a BLUE ROSE , whichever differences that person may have, don’t turn your head and walk off. Take the time to smile and say Hello. Why? Because, by the grace of GOD, this mother or father could be you. This could be your child, grandchild, niece, nephew or any other family member. What a difference a moment can mean to that person or their family.

From an old dandelion! Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest up to God!

“People will forget what you said, People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel!”

Purim 2017 is Today –Sunday

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Purim banner, holiday greeting

­­Book of Esther… (Purim 2017 is March 11th and 12th)

In the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on its thirteenth day … on the day that the enemies of the Jews were expected to prevail over them, it was turned about: the Jews prevailed over their adversaries. – Esther 9:1

And they gained relief on the fourteenth (Adar/March), making it a day of feasting and gladness. – Esther 9:17

[Mordecai instructed them] to observe them as days of feasting and gladness, and sending delicacies to one another, and gifts to the poor. – Esther 9:22

Purim is a time of recalling the story and bible history of Haman, Mordechai, Queen Esther and King Ahasuerus; aka: Artaxerxes. As Jews of Judaism sit to eat and drink, there is no limit to how much they drink as long as Jews/Judaism do not misbehave (i.e. sin) for if they are drinking to fulfill the mitzvah, a mitzvah should not cause them to sin. There is no limit to how much they can sing, dance or relate insights into the strange but true story that took place a bit more than two thousand years ago. Purim centers on those who descended from the Babylonian captive Jews who did NOT RETURN to Jerusalem after being released from Babylon captivity; at that time called New Persia.

Ad d’lo Yada means that Jews/Judaism can drink until they no longer know the difference between blessed in Mordecai and cursed in Haman. Drinking to the point of being drunk is a point that Judaism is at odds with most other religions. In some religions alcoholic beverages are strictly forbidden and in other religions being drunk is forbidden. Judaism however makes it a mitzvah (which means only on this one day) and indeed Jews/Judaism must understand why!

The origin of Purim and the mitzvah of the festive seuda meal dates back to the majestic banquet that King Ahasuerus (also known as Xerxes or Artaxerxes) made in the capital city Shushan; see Daniel 8:2. Ahasuerus was the king of one hundred and twenty-seven countries or city-states. He ruled the world from India to Africa. This banquet lasted one hundred and eighty days (six months!) and was to celebrate King Ahasuerus unification of his kingdom. Drinks were set out and all participants could enjoy as much as they desired; no one was forced to drink or to stop drinking.

The king drank so much that he became drunk. In his drunkenness he boasted of the beauty of Queen Vashti. He ordered her brought to him and his ministers naked, that all should realize that indeed she is the most beautiful woman in the world. Vasti not being drunk of course refused. The king was incensed that she refused his (drunken) request and he ordered her to be eliminated. How, we do not have those details but she is never again mentioned in scripture or secular records. We can use culture of that time to speculate. If one even dared to enter the presents of the King without being asked, it meant instant death.

JIV NOTE: Many modern day women libbers point to this instance of denying the request of a husband as creating the right of other wives to do the same thing as at this time in history. Those in the king’s court feared that would happen in Persia and demanded a quick and threatening punishment for Vasti. We still do not know of her punishment but knowing the now Arab and Islamic world from this same area, it was probably very severe even though she was probably right.

After her elimination the selection of the king’s new bride began (and subsequent queen). We know this was Esther. Mordecai was Esther’s uncle. After Esther was established as the queen he heard of a plot to kill the king. He reported it to Esther who reported it to the king who investigated and found it to be correct. The king had the would-be assassins executed. But somehow he ‘forgot’ to give a reward to Mordechai.

In the meantime, the wicked Haman the Amalekite, the greatest anti-Semite in his generation, had become appointed Prime Minister of the greater Persian Empire. He was a descendant of Amalek who had no historical love for the Jews having attacked them when they left Egypt; i.e. Amalek was a Canaanite descended from Ham.

Note that knowledge from our Old Testament college course connects a few dots with this information from the Book of Esther; i.e. Egypt, Israel, 12 spies in Promised Land, Amalekites giants and the wandering of Israel.

Haman had a huge ego and he wanted all to bow down before him when he became Prime Minister of Persia. Mordecai was the only one (and only Jew) that refused. This of course infuriated Haman. Haman began a plot to exterminate not just Mordechai, but also his people the Jews of Persia/Babylon.

Mordecai told Esther that she should realize that the reason God anointed her to become queen was in order to rescue her people. It was up to her to do something. She knew that the king’s weak spot was a good brew and although they did not have Jack Daniels and Johnny Walker in those times, they did have strong wine. She held a drinking party for King Ahasuerus and Haman. King Ahasuerus wondered why she invited Haman. He also noticed that Haman was feeling quite pleased with the high status accorded to him by the royal family of Persia (formerly known as Babylon; now Iran).

The king asked Esther the reason for the party and she declined to tell him telling him that at another party she will reveal her purpose. In the meantime the king went back to his palace a bit suspicious or at least quite curious of Haman.

The Old Testament tells us that very same night, the king could not sleep; Esther 6:1. He requested his scribe to read to him from the Persian archives. When the reader mentioned Mordecai and how he saved the king’s life he asked what reward had he been given. The reply was nothing. Ah ha, the king reasoned because he did not reward this man, no one has come forward to tell him what is going on between Esther and Haman. He wanted to know why Haman was invited to Esther’s party!?

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Haman had other plans for Mordecai the Jew who would not bow before him. He built a high gallows to hang him. Unfortunately for himself and fortunately for the Jews of Persia (today’s Iran), at the next drinking party that Esther arranged for Ahasuerus and Haman, she revealed to the king that Haman planned to kill her. She being a Jew was under the wicked Haman’s death decree to eradicate all Jews.

The king became infuriated. Being bit tipsy ran out of the room to think. Haman realizing his personal jeopardy and difficult predicament fell to his knees in front of the queen to beg for mercy, but being also a bit tipsy fell onto Esther. That was just as Ahasuerus re-entered the room. Imagine the shock of Ahasuerus  to see his top minister lying on top of the queen! He did not hesitate one moment to call for the guards to take Haman and execute him immediately. As the Bible tells us in the book of Esther, Haman was hung from the very gallows he planned to publicly hang Mordechai.  This was between 486 and 465 B.C. This is recorded in the bible and Persian records.

The events described in the Book of Esther began around the years 483–482 BCE, and concluded in March, 473 BCE. This is the same location from where Daniel had a vision (Daniel 8:2).

A quote from my Levite Priest friend in Tel Aviv: “Thus through drinking and drunkenness the Jews were saved from destruction. Therefore to commemorate the miracles that happened then, we today imbibe more than normal. Jews are generally not drinkers and therefore this is a difficult *mitzvah to perform. But when one considers that G-d directs the entire universe even to the point when each leaf that falls off from a tree it is guided by G-d to where it will land, we must realize that G-d will protect us if when we drink our desire is to fulfill the mitzvah of Ad d’lo Yada.”

*Mitzvah means “for one day only.”

P.S. Like manmade denominational rules, this is a Jewish celebration not ordered or sanctioned by God.

 

Murphy James

The Coming Change On How We Train Leadership

Murphy JamesThere seems to be a great need in the Body of Christ in the way we train our leaders but most especially our ministers. What do I mean by this? It has been my experience that our top leaders, those who train and lead our ministers have been taught to chase the wrong things. As a result of their training they are passing on those flawed leadership priorities. We have so far deviated from the Biblical pattern of raising up our leaders that we no longer seek to duplicate the methods Jesus used and instructed His disciples to follow.

ifollowjesusI do not wish to disparage or blame anyone for this tragedy only to look for and diligently pray that we return to the biblical examples left us by our Lord and savior. It has been said that 1800 ministers a month in the United States are leaving the ministry. In our own denomination the average age of our pastors has increased dramatically and churches that need qualified ministers are taking longer and longer to fill. I talked with a pastor just the other day who said he does not know any pastors who enjoy what they are doing but rather are going through the motions in obedience to their calling. This scenario is not new to me, for over ten years ago a beloved minister was sitting in on one of our elder’s meetings and when it was over and the elders left, he began to weep. He said very sadly, “Bob you are the only pastor I know that still loves what he is doing. The rest of us are just being obedient.” Obviously, he was speaking from deep wounds and did not speak for everyone. Yet there are far too many Godly men and women who fit Ezekiel’s sad vision.

Ezek 37:1-3 NKJV

37 The hand of the Lord  came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord , and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones.

2 Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry.

3 And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

In many ways this vision of Ezekiel is a perfect picture of much of the ministry today. Broken, scattered, divided, and dry. Where is this frustration coming from? How many men and women of God must be sacrificed on a broken system before we seek to find out what is wrong? I write a great deal on the broken men in leadership but what about the precious wives who are often times the ones who suffer the most? I remember my precious wife once had the wisdom to say to me, “Honey, I will always love you and always be your wife, but I will not stay here to watch this church destroy you. I will be at my Mother’s. and when the Lord releases you from here I will be ready to go with you.” Her wisdom was great enough for me to change what I had been falsely taught and put my family first. I changed very quickly and was able to save my marriage and my sanity. I learned that the first church I must pastor is my own family. It is here that we learn the real skills that matter in Godly leadership.

How did we get where we are, and why I am I writing like this? Yet more importantly is “how do we change?” The dear Holy Spirit is taking many of us down into this valley of dry bones and requiring us to walk up and down in it until we see just how dry, how divided, broken, and lifeless it truly is. May He keep us there until we are ready to totally give up on the present system and allow Him to put His words of life into our spirit and empower us to Prophesy until our ministers are filled with life and power once again.

Ezekiel walked this valley so thoroughly that he knew no human plan, program, or strategy could bring life into this valley. Indeed, it is our confidence in programs and plans that has largely created this valley of despair.  There is a place for programs, but they must never be the priority. For many decades now, we have run to conferences and seminars to learn about an effective program that we can take back to our churches to see them grow. Yet how many conferences have we attended that focused on the top priority of Christ likeness?

The error it seems is that our leadership think that Christ likeness is something we are responsible to gain on our own time, and it is their responsibility to teach us methods and programs. In reality, we must see the passion of our leaders to be like Christ, and the relationship building they are doing to pass that passion on as their chief priority.

I have and still do love my leaders. Yet in all of my interactions with them, I cannot remember a time when I was inspired to be more like the Christ life reflected in them, save one. This is a great departure from the admonition we receive in scripture.

1 Cor 4:16 KJV

16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

1 Cor 11:1 KJV

11 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

Phil 3:17 KJV

17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

It is very difficult to write on the need for change without becoming negative. We must not allow ourselves to walk in criticism or use negative methods to bring about the change that is needed. We must always remember it is Christ who is building His Church and the gates of hell will never prevail against it, but we must also know when Christ is speaking to us about change.

I will try to state how I see that our present system works. As I have watched over the past thirty years of ministry, I have seen some amazing things happen. What do I mean by this? In my area the leading cutting edge ministry, when I first came to this region, was the ministry of a church called Resurrection Life. It seemed they could do nothing wrong, and that everywhere they started a church it grew to a thousand or more. Right now, that ministry is waning and another ministry is gaining prominence and every church it starts seems to grow in the thousands. Yet when we look more closely at these ministries we are seeing that it is almost if not all transfer growth. One of our good churches lost 600 members to the Harvest Ministries.

Here is what I see happening. These ministries have come up with a program and method that is superior to other ministries in caring for the flock. So much so, that they draw great numbers of transfer growth. Many of our own sheep have flocked to them. Yes, indeed they do have a great system of caring for the members of other churches. They are superior in their abilities to meet the needs. Yet I have not seen the kind of Christ-like change in the members they have gathered. Do not mis-understand me in what I am saying. I am very grateful for these ministries and what they are accomplishing. Still it is not the pattern that is impacting the unsaved with believers who are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

food_factoryPerhaps, I can better state it like this. There once was a factory that produced the most delicious food. When asked how much of that food they were able to bring to the market and sell they said, “Oh, we cannot sell any, we need all that we have to feed and care for those here in the factory.” Then another factory came along with better methods of producing a tastier product, and they grew much larger than the other one and they were asked, “How much of this excellent food are you able to make available for others to buy?” They too responded, “Oh, we do not have any leftover, we need all that we make to feed our workers.” This is what I have seen as the pattern for much of what we see here in America. Can you see what I mean? Oh I know that some of what we have is getting out saving the lost and reaching the world but, dear one, it is very little. It seems we need all of our strength and energy just to care for those we have. We must not disparage what we presently have, but we must recognize the truth of what we are calling church growth is not really the church growth the Lord is after.

Yes, and I can say that at one time the ministry that I led developed a better system, and many flocked to what we had. I, too, counted that as a kind of success and found identity in the “church growth” that was happening under my ministry. Yet I am here to say there is a better way. Earlier this year I heard the Lord say I am going to take Oak Crest back down to its very foundations, so that what is built again is built upon me. My character changing presence will be the priority, and programs and methods will be in their proper time and order. Indeed, I was called into the Holy of Holies to experience what the Lord wants to do.

Guest Blogger

Robert D. Roberts

 

The Empty Egg

Jeremy was born with a twisted body and a slow mind. At the age of 12 he was still in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would squirm in his seat, drool, and make grunting noises. At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy just irritated his teacher.

One day she called his parents and asked them to come in for a consultation. As the Forresters entered the empty classroom, Doris said to them, “Jeremy really belongs in a special school. It isn’t fair to him to be with younger children who don’t have learning problems. Why?

there is a five-year gap between his age and that of the other students.”

Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue, while her husband spoke. “Miss Miller,” he said, “there is no school of that kind nearby. It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this school. We know he really likes it here.” Doris sat for a long time

after they had left, staring at the snow outside the window. Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul. She wanted to sympathize with the Forresters. After all, their only child had a terminal illness.  But it wasn’t fair to keep him in her class. She had 18 other youngsters to

teach, and Jeremy was a distraction. Furthermore, he would never learn

to read and write. Why waste any more time trying?

As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. Here I am complaining when my problems are nothing compared to that poor family, she thought. Lord, please help me to be more patient with Jeremy. From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy’s noises and his blank stares. Then one day, he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him.

“I love you, Miss Miller,” he exclaimed, loud enough for the whole class to hear. The other students snickered, and Doris’ face turned red. She stammered, “Wh-why that’s very nice, Jeremy. N-now please take your seat.” Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter. Doris told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the

idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg. “Now,” she said to them, “I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Miss Miller,” the children responded enthusiastically-all except for Jeremy. He listened intently; his eyes never left her face. He did not even make his usual noises. Had he understood what she had said about Jesus’ death and resurrection? Did he understand the assignment?

Perhaps she should call his parents and explain the project to them. That evening, Doris’ kitchen sink stopped up. She called the landlord and waited an hour for him to come by and unclog it. After that, she still had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse, and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day. She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy’s parents.

The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller’s desk. After they completed their math lesson, it was time to open the eggs. In the first egg, Doris found a flower. “Oh yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life,” she said. “When plants peek through the ground, we

know that spring is here.” A small girl in the first row waved her arm. “That’s my egg, Miss Miller,” she called out. The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Doris held it up. “We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly.

Yes, that’s new life, too.” Little Judy smiled proudly and said, “Miss Miller, that one is mine.” Next, Doris found a rock with moss on it. She explained that moss, too, showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom, “My daddy helped me,” he beamed.

Then Doris opened the fourth egg. She gasped. The egg was empty.  Surelyit must be Jeremy’s she thought, and of course, he did not understand her instructions. If only she had not forgotten to phone his parents. Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another. Suddenly, Jeremy spoke up. “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?” Flustered, Doris replied, “But Jeremy,your egg is empty.” He looked into her eyes and said softly, “Yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty, too.”

Time stopped. When she could speak again, Doris asked him, “Do you know why the tomb was empty?” “Oh, yes,” Jeremy said, “Jesus was killed and put in there. Then His Father raised Him up.”

The recess bell rang. While the children excitedly ran out to the schoolyard, Doris cried. The cold inside her melted completely away. Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket, all of them empty.

Submitted by Murphy James

Archeological Digs

On September 28, 2015 while continuing my 2-year archeological dig at the Murphy Jameshistorical Land of Kysor (park), I unearthed what is believe to be a third battle field. It is assumed this to be the traditional site where two rival tribes, using their 9 or 10 best warriors would engage in the clubbing of projectiles thrown at them thrown at them by a machine.

One at a time these very young and brave warriors would step in front of this machine. Each tribe member could defend with only a round long stick and quick reflexes. The machine was backed up by 9 or 10 members of the other tribe. Each tribe had a unique name. The goal, I believe, was to take out three of the opposing tribe at a time.

This ancient ritual included a dug out. Tribal members and reserve forces could hide while watching one of their tribal members step onto the field to wage battle with that machine. Some would be asked to “self-sacrifice.” Each youthful sacrifice would be met with cheers as another tribal member who had distracted the other tribe by hitting the projectile would advance further behind the lines of the opposing tribe.

This excavation continues. A box in the ground found next to the high ground mound shows where this tossing machine was tethered. If a tribal member was successful at defending him or herself with this rounded stick, s/he would then race behind enemy lines. Opposing tribal members would then throw the same projectile at the one who successfully hit it; all without further assistance from the tethered machine.

Over the past two years two other battle fields have been discovered and are now excavated. Those interested in this ancient ritual are welcome to visit and use these ancient fields of battle.

I have amassed significant information during my archeological digs as ancient tribal members stop by to share their experiences with the machine and opposing tribes. Some had sons or daughters who did self-sacrifice for their tribe. We must remember them and train future warriors.

The Living Word of GOD -Connecting the dots of the history of mankind

The Living Word of GOD -Connecting the dots of the history of mankind

Archaeological digs are very similar to deep study of the Bible. The more of this ancient history book we dig into, the more we realize it makes a lot of sense. One can’t dig just one hole in a research. The dots need to be connected by discovery digging. Eventually the dots connect themselves.

But there is one thing you lack….(Mark 10:21; NIV)

BLOG – August 26, 2015jStark3

But there is one thing you lack….(Mark 10:21; NIV)

Here is a passage that has a very broad application to major single item issues in our lives. The bible records that a rich young ruler approached Jesus and asked “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

The Rich Young Man (Mark 10:17-27; ESV)

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, onethinglooking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

This is not a passage that condemns wealth. Job, Abraham, Jacob, and others in scripture were very wealthy individuals; many camels, sheep, servants… It is about the possessions or in this situation the one possession that keeps us from living a full life with God. I recall a similar situation when preaching at a church many years ago. The preacher was ticking off a list of sins and an elderly lady sitting in the front row was vocally agreeing with each sin he identified. It goes something like this:

There are some here today who need to get certain sins out of their life. There are those here who have wondering eyes (amen mumbled the lady in the front row); those who seek wealth more than God (again she mumbled amen but a bit louder). There are those who cheat (Yes! Amen says the lady now audible to others). There are those who have tempers (Amen; now loud enough for those a few rows back). Some here have not supported the church as they should (now with a bit of a shout… Amen). There are those who have secret sins (Amen). Someone here is a compulsive liar (AMEN ). Someone here is an over-the-fence gossiper. With that the lady in the front row shouts out…”Now you are getting too personal!

It was the one sin for which she felt was excusable and okay since it was her practice in life and unwilling to give it upa gossiper; “there is one thing…“ To keep this story parallel to our passage in Mark, she agreed with hearty amen’s to the other listed wrongs and wasn’t guilty of those other sins (in her opinion that is). But there was one sin she felt was too much to give up and in her opinion was justifiable.

The rich young man in Mark 10 (also found in Luke 18:18-23 & Matthew 19:16-22) asked Jesus what must he do to inherit eternal life. There is nothing in any of the passages found in Matthew, Mark or Luke to indicate he was not sincere. He knew Jesus was the Messiah, good teacher, and sent from God. He wanted to be a follower of Christ like the other disciples.

Jesus then listed (v19) a few laws of Judaism (10 Commandments); the young man replies…”all these I have kept since I was a boy (v20; NIV) Then comes the zinger; the point we all need to consider in our personal lives, worship, and faithfulness to our salvation. In verse 21 Jesus looks (emblepō; to fix one’s eye upon) him in the eyes and says… “One thing you lack,” (v21a; NIV) “go and sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven. Then, come and follow me.”

Note that Jesus didn’t tell him that he would never again have treasures or that he would no longer possess wealth. Jesus told him… “you will have treasures in heaven.” The word ‘treasures’ in the Greek is thēsauros; a coffer, box, or storehouse in which valuable things are deposited/stored. By deduction this suggests that his exchange of wealth on earth is but a deposit box for the wealth he would have in the storehouse of God in heaven.

Like the amen-lady in the story told on page one of this article, he was unwilling to “give up that one thing” that was too close to his heart; she: gossiping; him: wealth. It isn’t like he sacrificed much to live within the laws of Judaism. We are not told about this other than he has upheld these laws since a bay. This obedience to the laws made him a recognized, respected and good man in Jewish society and culture. This goodness is a given in his life since childhood. He sincerely wanted to follow Jesus, but on his own terms; willing to follow but wanted to keep one hand on his earthly security of treasures or desires. He was not willing to empty his earthly coffer of one particular thing in order to follow Jesus Christ; One thing you lack.

It isn’t a matter of giving up wealth or any one-thing, but it is a position or attitude of the heart. We can be more sincere than the pastor or leadership of a great or small church yet still covet one thing in life that seems too much to give up so Christ can completely fill and fulfill our life on earth. Maybe that one thing is telling an exaggerated story, a lustful eye, watching questionable movies, that drink that takes us to the red-eye of the wine, unwillingness to share in and nurture the growth of a child (Greek: pahee-dee’-on; a child or immature Christian), bear false stories, gossip, adultery, not giving due honor to those who deserve it whether it is earned or not, speeding, etc.

We should make a ‘study-note’ that in this situation it is but an example of other one-things we are not willing to surrender in order to follow God. Buying into political correctness does not assure it is correct with God just as is looking past evils, speeding, filing almost correct taxes, the white lie, not using our spiritual gift in church, and the like. Not leaving a tip worthy of being called a tip at a restaurant is NOT a sin but is politically incorrect, anti-culture and it is being judgmental or perhaps selfish. I have seldom met a wealthy waiter or waitress; often: the poor.

Before we are tempted to use this opportunity to begin staring in the face of incorrect political correctness go back to v21; ”Jesus looked at him and loved him.” This is agapaō love. It means Jesus loved him. I found this definition of two types of love:

There are generally two types of love spoken about in our New Covenant. The first is the Greek word phileō; it means a brotherly love, to be a friend, to have affection for. This is the most common type of love that we experience in this world and it’s an emotional love that occurs in almost every person to some degree. Whether they’re saved or unsaved, the average person today readily has this phileō, this emotional type of love within them.

The other Greek word for love is agape (ah-gah-pay) and sometimes agapaō. This is a much rarer type of love that only comes from our Father in Heaven through His Son Jesus Christ. Agape / agapaō love is the love of Jesus shining forth from his and our heart. It’s that divine love that’s related to being obedient to God’s Word. (John 14:23) Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves (agape) me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love (agape) him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

The wealthy young ruler desired to follow Christ and Jesus loved (agape/agopao) him; not for his willingness but for his being a person for whom Jesus Christ was soon to die on Calvary and pay the debt of sin. “For God so loved the (entire ) world that he gave his only begotten son.”(emphasis mine). Here in the life of the rich young man seeking to follow Jesus on earth, we have a very familiar phrase that is often used by God the Father and his son Jesus Christ when making a promise or covenant. It goes like this; If you_________, then I (God-head) will ______________. In the case of this young man, it was a matter of giving up, not an easily identified sin, but something that he held more personal and of value than a fulfilled walk with Jesus. It was not the wealth, but his unwillingness to give up the “ONE THING” that kept him from Christ fulfilling His plan for his life… ours too.

Does the reader of this blog have just one inner secret of issue in life that keeps him or her from a closer walk with Christ? If there is, it is _(confidential)______                              _____________________ ?

The Voice of Hope

As soon as we wake up we are hit with all kinds of media from different sources. Cell phones ringing, texts from friends, Face Book, the news and even our own inner voice we call our conscience (self-talk). These “voices” will bombard us. I have found only One Voice that continues to give me Prevailing Hope.

too many voices

Our worst enemy is listening to the wrong “voices” of the world. The wrong voice may even be my own voice if I have a bad attitude or am tired of the world’s  system. Not that we are to ignore the reality of the world condition. However, I know without regular study in the Word of God and spending time communicating with the LORD including having a thankful heart  as Paul says to do; my days are dictated by what voices I listen to and believe and act on.

That is why I (we) must renew my (our) mind with the Word of God constantly. The Word of God is the Voice of Hope. It is the Truth and will never fail us. Apostle Paul said to rejoice always, always give thanks and he always prayed. It is God’s will for us as well.

Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NASB)16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

The Word of God, not the many words of men; is the solution to every problem we face. God is not religious; He is a loving Father. His plan for our lives is a forever plan with Him because He loves us with an everlasting love. The only way to prevail with hope is to have an ear for the Voice of Hope- The Living Word of God.Murphy James

Sustaining Joy

Murphy JamesEver wonder how some people have a joy about them even when everything seems against them? Then there are people who seem to have it all yet always complain and seem depressed! What makes the difference? Why are some totally devastated when their car breaks down yet another who had their home destroyed by a hurricane have inner peace and joy despite “losing it all?”

You will know a true follower of Jesus Christ by the way they live, and respond to difficult and challenging issues. The same is true of someone who is a church goer with no real relationship with the LORD. They are usually focused on self, consumed by their circumstances and live by how they feel rather than staying focused on a greater purpose of fulfilling their destiny in Christ. Knowing the LORD brings joy and the Word of God says for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Composite image of valentines coupleRemember being in love and all you looked forward to was seeing that special person? It didn’t matter how you felt because as soon as that person showed up everything was okay and you had joy unspeakable! A relationship with a person rarely produces a forever sustaining joy  because we are human and ultimately will let each other down at some time. BUT when we have true fellowship with the LORD this Joy is sustained because He never fails.  The key to sustaining joy in this world -for me, is knowing my destiny and knowing in Whom I believe. It is that simple. The LORD desires “whosoever will” (choose) –to know Him. Knowing Him gives sustaining joy nothing in this life can steal. Neither disease, not death, not ISIS, nor even a nuclear bomb has the power to steal our joy. Sustaining Joy comes from being intimately involved in an everlasting relationship with Almighty God through Jesus Christ. My future is in His hands so why should I fear?

Hebrews 12:2   fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Know what the joy set before Jesus was? It was doing the Father’s will. The Joy set before Him was knowing that “it is finished” at Calvary’s Cross, making The Way for you to become a child of God (which was God’s plan throughout history) became a reality.

Luke 15:7 I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

There is a sustaining Joy knowing the LORD. The only way to have this Joy is to get to KNOW JESUS.portrait of jesus holding the world