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Prophets have “Bad attitudes”

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God places prophets among His people. They have the daunting task of speaking God’s word for Him. Prophets have to endure many accusations. Disloyalty is very commonly a charge against prophets. Many times we also hear that prophets have bad attitudes. These “bad attitudes” presumably prevent their voice from being heard. People do not want to hear from someone who has a bad attitude. What does the scripture say about this accusation? Do prophets have “bad attitudes?”

Here are some Scriptural examples:

• Jeremiah said “amen” to a false prophet even though he knew that the false prophet was not telling the truth. Jeremiah 28:1-17.
• When Jeremiah spoke God’s words to the people, he was accused of disloyalty – of speaking against Jerusalem. “And the priests and the prophets spoke to the princes and all the people, saying, ‘This man deserves to die! For he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your ears.’” Jeremiah 26:11.
• Micaiah mocked Ahab and his prophets by telling Ahab what Ahab wanted to hear even though he knew it was wrong. Micaiah mimicked the false prophets. Why would he do that? He knew they were wrong. I Kings 22.
• Elijah was accused of disloyalty – of being the “troubler of Israel?” He answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and have followed the Baals. I Kings 18:17-18. Elijah also mocked the prophets of Baal.
• Moses told the people to not leave any manna till the morning. “Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them.” Ex 16:19-20. Couldn’t he have reasoned with them? Did he have to be angry? Did he have a bad attitude?
• Amos told the truth and was told to leave and not prophesy at the house of God. Couldn’t he have been a bit more tactful? Did he have to alienate the people like that? Amos 7:7-17.
• Samuel told Saul, “you have behaved foolishly” Those are harsh words to speak to a king of Israel – a leader of God’s people. Why would Samuel talk like that. Did he have a bad attitude? I Samuel 13:13.
• Gideon – destroyed his father’s idols. How disrespectful is that? Judges 6-8.

God calls prophets to tell the truth.
God sends prophets to tell His people the truth.
God commits prophets to tell His people to return to God

Gratitude and Praise

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I owe the Lord a morning song


I owe the Lord a morning song,
of gratitude and praise,
for the kind mercy he has shown
in lengthening out my days.

He kept me safe another night;
I see another day.
Now may his Spirit, as the light,
direct me in his way.

Keep me from danger and from sin,
help me thy will to do,
so that my heart be pure within,
and I thy goodness know.

Keep me till thou wilt call me hence,
where never night can be,
and save me, Lord, for Jesus’ sake;
he shed his blood for me.


Amos Herr – 1890

Justice

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BUT let justice roll down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.

The analogy is striking. God calls for justice. Justice is to be as common and as pervasive as waters. The result is righteousness. Righteousness, then, will flow as a mighty stream.

Somewhere along the way you may have tried to dam up a stream. It works for a little while and then the stream over comes the dam.

That is the way justice and righteousness impact a culture. That is the way they produce a culture. That is God’s message – justice producing righteousness. No righteousness? No justice!

Love, joy, and peace are important but without justice all is lost. God is just. His Kingdom is a Kingdom of justice. Someday He will restore and repair all injustices. Now is the time for us as His children to live lives of justice in our day.

We bemoan the lack of righteousness in modern culture. Restore justice and righteousness will return. That is the Jesus way. That is the God way. That is the Holy Spirit way. Justice based on the truth of God. Justice producing trust.

In a culture of righteousness there is no sin. No immunity from punishment. No manipulation. No escape from accountability. No excuses for injustice. Men and women are held responsible for their actions. That is God’s way. It is what we need now.

Amos lived in a day of injustice. Prophets were not allowed. Truth was not tolerated.
They hate him that reproves in the gate, and they abhor him that speaks uprightly.
Wise men kept silent – Therefore he that is prudent shall keep silence in such a time; for it is an evil time.
Amos’ cry was for justice and righteousness. That is the cry today.

Has God called you to speak? Has God called you to be an “Amos?”
Speak – God is with you. Call for justice so righteousness can prevail.

Strong or Broken?

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It is easier to raise strong children
Than it is
To repair broken adults.

Fredrick Douglass
1855

Mennonite Revival

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Mennonite Revival

In the summer of 1967, our family traveled to Roxbury campground for some meetings. Roxbury was a dance hall that was purchased by the Brethren in Christ church and converted into a Holiness Campground. It has a large tabernacle than can hold many people. Many such meetings were being held across the country.

The meetings featured speakers from the Mennonite communities across the USA. The messages had one theme. “If you want to have a church for the future, you must do something now.” Speakers addressed subjects of acculturation that were beginning to threaten historic understandings and practices of Anabaptist groups. The meetings attracted many concerned people like ours. They identified with the messages. This was the beginning of developing the Conservative Mennonite Churches as we know them today in 2022.

Many of the issues were obvious and observable. Television and more modern religious music, more expensive and brightly colored vehicles, clothing styles and colors that did not express modesty and separation from the world, influence of public schools, acceptance of military service, for these and other kinds of issues a revival was needed. The cultural momentum of the various Mennonite conferences across the country was in a decidedly liberal direction. Acculturation was afoot. Revival was needed. Was it possible? How could it happen? What would be the cost?

New concerned fellowships were begun by men who saw the need to make changes that would preserve a healthy approach to life and Christianity. Revival did happen. Changes were made. Bible schools were begun. New congregations were begun. Personal decisions were made to return to more practices that would preserve Scriptural values in life. Rules were made to preserve truth. Rules were made that would provide guidelines for life. Many of those rules served well for many years. Times changed.

Revival today in 2022. Is it needed? Is it possible? It is needed and it is possible.
What are the differences in the revival of the 1960’s and the needed revival today in 2022?

The issues of the 1960’s were visible and obvious. Current issues are hidden and undetectable. What are the issues today? Can they be dealt with? How can they be dealt with? Moral issues plagued Israel. Moral issues are the plague today. Moral issues are now hidden on screens in the privacy of personal life. Wrong thinking is constantly imported via social media. These matters are not visible. They are easily hidden. You can look good and not be good. We are not prepared for this.

Where are we?

  1. The world has changed – Social media has come in the back door and is now ubiquitous – everywhere. We, especially young men and women, are now completely inundated – swamped with social media. Sin is imported into life via our devices. We are not prepared for the changes.
  2. Rules will not help – Rules work for things that are obvious. They do not work for private life. It must be the commitment of the heart and mind. Follow the rules and all is well. What happens if it is not?
  3. The power of the Holy Spirit – is the only power capable of keeping us free from sin. It has always been that way. Only now, it is imperative. The only way.
  4. Discernment is needed – For people raised on rules, too often they are not prepared to be discerning about life. Why can we not say ‘no’ to sin?
  5. Revival is always against the flow – It was then. It will be now. Revival means standing alone. Alone with God is not alone but it always seems that way.
  6. Prophets are needed – it will take men of discernment and courage and wisdom to bring revival again.
  7. History of revival – Israel had a cyclic history of revival and failure. That seems to be the way of God’s people.

It is once again time for revival.

Men – The Answer

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Men – The Answer

What is the problem with the world?
Men are the problem in the world.

What is God’s answer to the problems in the world?
God’s answer to the problems is Godly men.

God made a beautiful world.
God made a beautiful garden in the world.
God made a man and placed him in the garden.
God told the man to take care of the garden.
God made a woman so the man would not be alone.
God wanted them to live in perfect harmony together.
They didn’t.

Today we still have the same problem.
God’s answer is still the same.
Men of God are the answer.
Men are called to take care of God’s garden.
Men are to live with the women God placed in their life.
That is God’s plan.
It is not complicated.

Men – be faithful to your God.
Men – care for the women in your life.
Men – honor the women in your life.
Men – respect and protect the girls in your life.
Men – pornography is wicked and offensive to women.
Men – keep it out of your life.
Men – porn is destructive.
Porn is Satan’s way of destroying life.
It is Satan’s way of destroying your life.
It is the hidden sin that is destroying lives.
You must decide – porn or love – porn or life
You cannot have both. It is either – or.
It is life or death. You cannot have both.

Be a man of God – you cannot have it both ways.
God is calling you to be His son, like His Son.
Decide to do right and do well. Today.
We were made to live in God’s garden.
With the woman He gave so we would live together.
Today.

Memes

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Memetic theory

Just as genes are passed on by human procreation, memes are passed on by cultural imitation. If that is true then role models are the most important element in the formation of a culture.

A meme is a unit of cultural transmission. It can be an action, word, idea, practice, concept, belief or any of a host of other possibilities.

How are role models chosen? How can the models be changed? How strong is the system? What are the critical elements of the system? These are critical questions. The culture answers these questions.

If culture is based on imitation, who is to be imitated? How is this decided? Who are the role models? How are role models chosen? What values are used? How are factors modified? How are they adapted?

On the personal level – can personal responsibility be eliminated by subscription to the memes? It can be altered but cannot be eliminated. We are personally responsible for our lives and our behaviors.

If an alien body or factor enters a genetic system, the system will attack and attempt to destroy the alien. If a presumed alien factor enters a memetic system the system will attack and destroy the intruder. Hence, the continuance of the system. This is a constant danger. Memes must be monitored for accurate function in the system.

God’s design for maintaining the Christian Church is the Spiritual fruit and gifts that Christ places in His Church. These gifts become the controlling factors to provide the role models to be imitated.

This spiritual dimension is also controlled by memetic theory – however, the system can be and needs to be invaded by aliens called prophets. These fearless persons bring the God factor to the system. They bring the heart factor to the intact system that is intent on self-maintenance and on destroying any alien factor that enters or threatens the system.

The Bible is clear. Christianity is imitation of Christ. Follow Christ. That is Christianity. Accept the memes that support that process. Avoid the memes that do not support that process. Acknowledge the persons and prophets who earn their role and can be imitated.

Obey God or Man?

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Obey God or Men?

So one came and told them, saying,
“Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!”
Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence,
for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned.

And when they had brought them, they set them before the council.
And the high priest asked them,
saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name?
And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!”

But Peter and the other apostles answered and said:

“We ought to obey God rather than men.

“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.
“Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. “And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

When they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them.

Acts 5:25-33 (NKJV)

Discipleship and Discipline

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Discipline – The foundation of life

Discipline, very simply, is the foundation of life. It is the one rule you cannot break. At least you cannot break it and get away with it. What is discipline?

Discipline is discipleship. We, as humans, must be discipled. We must become disciples. If we do not become disciples we become egotists or worse. Disciples are followers. Disciples become leaders because, only those who know how to follow can really lead.

An unfortunate but recurring problem in modern (and postmodern) society is the lack of discipline. In strong-willed people this becomes a serious situation. If one is not a disciple, one’s will remains unbroken. If the will is not broken, the spirit is injured. The spirit can only be healthy if the will is broken.

We are to become disciples of our parents first of all. They are to break our will. In particular, the father is to break our will. Breaking the will frees the spirit. It is the spirit that responds to God. Without that combination (broken will and unbroken spirit) we become uncontrollable.

Too many times in the past, a father would break the will of the child and would also break his spirit. The Bible warns us against this practice. This is a wrong, and a destructive practice and it has produced a reaction. Today, on the other hand, many times, fathers are passively allowing any kind of behavior in young children. This is also wrong and is not discipline and does not teach the child discipleship. These children are growing up as uncontrollable. They believe that they have a right to do and say whatever, whenever and however they want.

This destructive behavior seems to be uncorrectable and uncontrollable. The person has been formed into a will that cannot be challenged without incurring wrath. Any attempt to correct that child is met with defiance. The defiance is deeper than just the will. It reaches to the spirit. The spirit is offended because it has learned that its way is right. It is the final arbiter of truth.

Children who have been neglected can easily develop this behavior. They know that there is no one who cares enough to intervene in their life. They have been abandoned. They are lost to the world. This world is a dangerous place – a place where one looks out for one’s self or dies. Survival becomes the goal – survival by any means necessary.

Sometimes the energies are turned inward – sometimes outward. Inward causes depression. Outward causes destruction.
As the child becomes a young adult the situation becomes impossible. They become physically strong and psychologically devious.

Discipline and appropriate punishment for wrong behavior bring resolution to life. The child knows that he/she should be disciplined for wrong behavior. If discipline does not happen he builds up a reservoir of guilt. Discipline displaces the guilt. Lack of discipline produces that reservoir of guilt. That guilt can be expressed as accidents, anger, financial failures, emotional stresses, marriage struggles, moral failings, etc.

Discipline is loving direction. It includes, but is not limited to punishment. Punishment is only a small part of discipline. Discipline values the person and attempts to develop the best characteristics of the person. Discipline sees the latent talent and works to encourage the abilities. It attempts to hone the skills into useful behaviors. It gently (and sometimes not so gently) shapes the will. The spirit then responds with the satisfaction of a job well done. The undisciplined person never has that rewarding experience. The experience of accomplishment is reward enough for the disciplined person. Life becomes example – example of life well-lived and loved. Appreciation for excellence is high.

When a person is disciplined he/she develops appreciation for those who do their work well. Undisciplined persons have appreciation for no one. They are self-consumed. Their existence is so fragile that they can never be wrong. They can never allow themselves to be corrected. That would be to admit wrong and they cannot do that. They have to be right at all costs. When their will is challenged, their spirit is attacked. When their spirit is attacked, they fight like cornered and wounded animals. That behavior is becoming prevalent even among “Christian” people. It is the result of a lack of parenting that produces discipline. The lack of discipline has produced a life out of control.

Only submission to God and His Word can change those people. When they are confronted they are very repentant. They hate their behavior. They can pray and promise to do better only to have the behaviors surface the next day. Any challenge brings renewed fear. Fear strikes the heart and, in spite of the best intentions, the battle is on again.

How are undisciplined people different from egotists? Egotists only repent as far as they need to survive. They never truly repent. Egotists love themselves. Undisciplined people typically hate themselves but have no power to change. Egotists are controlled by insecurity. Undisciplined people are controlled by fear. They know they are destructive but are not able to control their actions. Another power is controlling them. Their self-hatred is the result of a lack of discipline.

Undisciplined people remain selfish. Children are self-centered. That is the way they are born. That is how they survive the first year of life. They cry when they have a need. Their cry is their message that they need something. Discipline is needed as the child gets to be one year old and older. If discipline is there, the child learns to respect order and authority.

If that discipline is not there, the child remains self-centered and selfish – demanding his or her own way and taking that selfishness into life, marriage, Church, work, etc. That selfishness is the source of lust and anger. The anger occurs when the selfishness of the person is threatened or when they have to share their life and ideas with another person. Loving discipline will remove that selfishness.

Discipline is motivated by real love – a love that undisciplined people have never experienced. Jesus said, Love your neighbor as yourself. Real self-love is also the result of discipline. It is not so much self-love as it is self-respect – respect of self begins with accepting self as a creation of a loving God – that respect then reaches out to and honors other persons.

The Apostle Paul kept his body in subjection. He did not allow his physical body to control his mind and heart. He was, in a word, disciplined. He had been a student of Gamaliel. Gamaliel was a demanding teacher. Paul learned that accomplishment was the result of diligent application. He was a student of the Covenant. He was a a Ph.D – a doctor of the law. As a Christian, he applied those same disciplines to the New Covenant. The world is still reaping the rewards of that discipline. God used him to spread the gospel to the entire Mediterranean world.

The Bible predicts lawlessness in the last days. We are there. We can still, in these last days, be lawful. We can and must display the law of God in our hearts and in our actions. God has laws. Gravity is one example. He also has Spiritual laws. They cannot be broken without dire consequences. World society is experiencing those consequences today. True believers are called on to display the love and discipline of a loving Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.

Train up a child…. Training is learning to respond properly to authority. When children are allowed to grow up without discipline, they then do not have a basis for which to respond to God and His Holy Spirit. They respond to the love and call of God but do not go on to be obedient followers of Jesus Christ. They obey when they feel like it and not when they do not. Training a child prepares the child to be a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Discipline also trains people to think. They then do not follow every false authority. They are discerning and strong disciples.

Are you a disciplined person? If you are not, God will provide that discipline. If you fall on that Stone (Jesus), you will be broken. You will be disciplined. If you do not fall on that Stone, that Stone will someday fall on you. Today is the day of salvation. Now is the accepted time. If you have not experienced loving discipline, it is waiting for you. In the Words of the Word, and in the words of God’s children, you can find love and discipline that will break your will and bless your spirit and you will be healed. That is God’s promise to you today.

Broken hearts can be mended. God is the Great Healer. He uses us to bring healing to each other. That is the call to us today. To mend the broken hearts.

I was disciplined as a musician and as an athlete. I spent hours practicing measures of music so that I could play them perfectly in the program. I spent hours practicing steps to throw the javelin. I have attempted to apply those disciplines to Bible study and teaching.

If, as diligent Anabaptists, we would apply the agricultural and occupational proficiency to our faith, we would be Spiritual giants. That is the call of God on our lives. Let us be about our Father’s business and lend our most diligent efforts to His Kingdom.

Troubled Hearts III

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Troubled Hearts

How to deal with troubled hearts?

Law and order – God has a plan. His plan is for His law to direct our lives and our cultures. When that happens, all is well. When it does not. Nothing is well.

Justice gives peace of heart. Knowing that authorities will bring justice to wrongdoing brings healing of heart to the community. ‘When sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily the hearts of the sons of men are fully set in them to do evil’. Lack of justice in a timely manner in the family, the school, the church or the nation promotes more injustice. That injustice then translates into troubled hearts because they cannot trust authorities to maintain peace.

God has a plan for your troubled heart. Order replacing chaos is His plan. His order replacing the world’s chaos is His plan for your troubled heart.