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Archive for March, 2011

Brad, the lesson from such stories is that God was taking care of us long before we knew Him. Before we were born, we were already His, whether we knew it or not.
jdc

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Darren’s story [when he was delayed, and saved by God from a car crash] sent a shiver down my spine. PRAISE GOD! . . . . and it reminded me of when God saved me from peril on two occasions in the same location.

First: the definition of “peril”: a condition of imminent danger, exposure to the risk of harm or loss. Something that endangers.

PART I.
Los Angeles, 1988-89.

In the Angeles National Forest, where Bekah witnessed that massive fire in the San Gabriel Mountains just above the border of Alta Dena and Pasadena, I used to go hiking frequently when I lived in L.A.

On one occasion, one of the first times I ever felt a “hint” of God’s existence, I took a late afternoon hike, alone, boulder-hopping along a semi-dry creek bed, exploring the deep canyon. As I continued upstream, further into the woods, I noticed it was beginning to get shadier, as the setting sun was heading toward the west. I figured it would be getting dark in about an hour and a half. So I kept plodding along, not considering that I would have to eventually turn aournd and head bakck towatrd the trailhead, and boulder-hopping would be dangerous after dark. Nevertheless, my curiosity compelled me to persevere, wondering what I would see around the next bend, and then the next. The canyon walls were turning darker shades of grey, athough I continued to disregard that warning sign that night was approaching.

Suddenly, the strap on my daypack broke. It was an inconvenience to carry it slung over one shoulder, but I still continued hiking. A few minutes later, my watchband snapped off, and my watch fell into the loose dirt on the hillside . I scrambled around for it, and found it, luckily. I thought to myself, Sheesh, what more could happen? Then it happened. Jumping across the dry creek bed, I felt a sudden sharp pain in my thigh. “Owwww. . . what?!” I thought I’d pulled a muscle or snapped a tendon, it was such an immediate, stinging pain . I pulled up my loose pant leg to look at my injury. . . and a bumble bee dropped out of my trouser leg. How he got inside my pants I haven’t a clue, but he left a stinger in my thigh that was paralyzing.

Instantly, the thought occurred to me that God was trying to get my attention. “It’s time to turn back” was the “feeling” I felt in my heart. As the voice of God continued, it seemed to say, “Do I have your attention now, Brad? Curb your enthusiasm. Resume this exploration another day. It’s too late in the day to continue. Heed my warning. It’s for you own good.” I pondered the challenging feelings and thoughts, and I chuckled. It took a lot of humility to suppress my boyish instincts and obey that common sense message that I knew was right. I started my hike back the way I came, limping slightly from the pain of the bee sting. And sure enough, the night seemed to approach faster than I had estimated. I crossed a precipitous cliffside, over a waterfall, in the remaining dim light of dusk, and by the time I arrived back at my parked car, it was very dark indeed. Had I lingered in the canyon for much longer, I would’ve most likely been in danger of greater injury than a bee sting.

In the early springtime of 1989, I decided to explore the canyon again, starting farther upstream in the forest and hiking downstream along the creek bed. I took a companion this time: Bret, my best friend’s teenage son. We had our little backpacks, with minor essentials for a day hike; some gloves, emergency rope, extra socks, food and water.

We followed the creek, whose water was flowing more fully this time around, and did the usual boulder-hopping, getting nicely wet all along the way. We traversed a couple of cascades, and they were easy to pass over, going downstream, yet, in the back of my mind I wondered how hard it might be when we would have to climb up over those waterfalls on our way back upstream.

After we had hiked about two hours along this creek, we came upon a considerably larger waterfall, which we also traversed with relative ease, but at the bottom of the waterfall, around the bend, appeared another cascade that stopped us in our tracks, literally and quite thoroughly. It was a forty or fifty foot drop, straight down. Our exploration was finished. Our hike was over. We had come to a dead end. As I peered over the edge of this cliff, I resolved to turn around and get a good start back the way we came, but as I glanced behind me at the waterfall we had just climbed down, with its rushing water pouring over the rocks, I suddenly felt a bit trapped. We seemed to be in a fearful predicament; being unable to go any further downstream and wondering how we were going to climb back over the previous cascade, which was about twenty-five feet high.

Fortunately, we had some rope, but only a short length.

No matter. God had planned for this to happen. He set it all up, and provided for our escape.

Lying on the ground, right next to me at the water’s edge, was a huge coil of heavy gauge wire. I guess it’s called “piano wire.” I can’t imagine what a huge coil of galvanized wire was doing lying there on the rock near the top of the waterfall. But we made no haste in using it for our ascent.

Applying my the Eagle Scout know-how, I joined our rope together with the length of wire and lassoed it around a rock way up near the top of the falls. It was anchored strongly enough to proceed with our climb, so with gloved hands we pulled ourselves upward, getting soaked in the waterfall. After accomplishing that, we kept on going, through the creek, and the remaining obstacles weren’t quite as challenging.

When the day was done, we sat and talked about how fortunate we were, but neither of us mentioned God’s grace at all.

Now, reflecting on that curious situation of being stranded between two waterfalls, but being “given” the rescue wire to escape, I am riveted at the wonder of God, and the situations that He gives each of us, to teach us. . . . to trust in Him. . . to BELIEVE in Him.

We are so slow to believe. Here a little, there a little. . .

Eventually He gets us—- if we’re HIS.

:^)

Brad

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Going Slow

Pastor John:

I was riding home with Jacob late from a game last week down a old country road, not really thinking about much. Jacob ask “Daddy, why are you driving so slow?” I said, “I didn’t know that I was… ” I looked at my speed, then came upon a curve and a very dark section of road, and there was a speeding car in my lane! I had no problem at all getting out if the way because of my speed. I then told Jacob, “That’s your answer.” I love Jesus! He us saving us every second…

Paul

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Yes! That is one reason Jesus is called our Savior. He is saving us constantly. We just need to stay under his wing.

Pastor John

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Hey Pastor John,

One more thing. I was thinking about God’s patience and how he let the tares grow with the wheat, and I thought that is one more reason to stay close to God. We are closely knitted with each other, and if we stay close to God, we will know who and where the tares are, and how to live holy amongst them.

God Bless,
Michelle

Sorry just another thought……
You know how God used Satan to judge people who didn’t live according to the law, its easy to see how Christianity is used by Satan. They don’t see the “heart” of it! They are just using law and ceremony to live, and that is not living. It’s like Christianity is not “seeing” the true meaning behind Jesus’ sacrifice. It must be so heartbreaking to Jesus to see whats going on. Wow…..that’s big. What a huge lie is being believed. I mean, I understood “coming out of Christianity”, but I think I’m just starting to see just how horrible Christianity really is.

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Hi Pastor John,

I have been reading “The Father and Son” chapters that Amy sent out. Wow I’ve had so many feelings and emotions. I was amazed at Gods order. From the beginning there has been such perfect order. Even in the midst of what seems to be horrific chaos God had everything in His perfect order. It makes trusting in Him easier. I know that we’re all given a measure of faith but when you understand His order it seems to help my faith. I was thinking when my life seems completely crazy if I just humble myself to the Lord and do His will (even if I don’t understand) everything will be ok. God is in control.

And when I read about “Concealing the Truth” I was just completely dumbfounded. How amazing when you said that the prophets didn’t even know the right questions to ask and how they told about visions that they themselves could not understand. Not only does it make you appreciate the truth when you hear it but it makes me even more thankful that the Lord has given me His precious Spirit. Not only can we be moved by it but that it actually resides within us! How blessed we are how amazing God’s love is. I know that we live in a very stressful time, a time where sin seems to be devouring everyone, but in the same instance, to be able to live in a time where we actually have the Spirit in us and to be able to understand……. (beginning to understand) the Son and God’s amazing love is amazing, precious, overwhelming and exciting! I can’t tell you how many times I was reading and just had to stop and close my eyes and just let it all absorb in. Wow…….sometimes I feel like my heart is going to explode. I wanted to get on top of the building and just scream, “Thank you Jesus!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” — and even that doesn’t even begin to explain how full my heart has been.

And then when I read about the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. The way he was beaten and torn. It broke my heart. I know that Jesus died for me, but when I read about how his face was so badly beaten that you could not recognize He was human, and how they mocked and ridiculed Him, and how you could count the bones in His body, it is just heart wrenching. Even now, writing this, I’m crying, the pain He must have felt. When I was reading, I had to stop, it hurt too bad. I told the Lord that I’m so sorry He had to go through so much pain for a wretch like me, but I’m so very thankful that He loved us so much. His love is truly amazing and something I don’t think any of us will fully understand — how wonderfully blessed we are! We have a loving and caring Master that is looking over us. It made me ask for forgiveness all over again, and when I asked Him to let me see and understand, it had a whole new meaning for me. The truth is precious I don’t ever want to forget that.

And when I began reading about Gods patience……….it is terrifying. But also I felt thankful. I mean, I’m thankful that He is patient with His children. But I believe it also makes me fearful, which is good. I’m thankful that when I fall, He will have patience and help me up, but it makes me fearful that I don’t stay down too long.

And when I read about Jesus going to sit on the right hand of His Father! Again my heart wanted to explode. It makes me want to make it that much more to be there in that perfect place.

Thank you for writing this. I also thank God that He led me to His truth!

God Bless,
Michelle

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Hi pastor John,

I’ve been thinking about chapter 6 of the Father & Son book – there is too much there to take in at one sitting, but it felt so good going over it last weekend. As you mentioned on Wednesday night, it really seems almost preposterous to even attempt to contain an account of the revelation of God and His Son in a single book. The content of the book so far is so meaty and full that if God’s people out there read it – I mean really read it and humble themselves to it and to Jesus – it is going to change them, and try them. I know it’s probably going to be a long time before it is finished, but I can hardly wait to see what God does with it. Maybe it’s not even meant for this generation. Is there even anyone out there now who can take in some of the things Jesus has been showing you in this work? It seems they can hardly take in just the basic milk of the New Birth. Well, God knows, and that’s His business!

Anyway, I had just a couple questions as I was reading back over chapter 6:

Regarding the part on “wheat and tares” in heaven: How is it that God would allow sin in His presence, if “sin can never enter there”? Could it be that in heaven (before the Son was revealed), when angels, cherubim, Satan, and other heavenly beings were speaking with God, that they were actually speaking to God through an “Angel of the Lord”, similar to how God spoke to men on earth? It just doesn’t seem possible that evil-hearted beings could possibly be in the very presence of God, and that perhaps God was in His own “upper chamber” of heaven (so to speak) until heaven was purged.

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Oh, we need not be concerned that God will be polluted. The prophet Habakkuk felt that way, and said to the Lord, “Your eyes are too pure to look at sin!” (1:13a), but Habakkuk’s real point was what came next, when he asked God, “Why do you do it?” (1:13b).

As you know, Vince,”Sin Can Never Enter There” is the name of a song, but it was not a law that was always in place in heaven. It has, however, become the law of heaven that “sin can never enter there” since the Son was revealed and took his place at the Father’s right hand and set all things, everywhere, in order.

The Psalmist said that God condescends to even look at things in both heaven and earth (Ps. 113:6), and it is said that “the heavens are unclean in His sight” (Job 15:15), and since we now know that when the Father glorified the Son, He “made him higher than the heavens” (Heb. 7:26), there must be somewhere beyond heaven where God dwells. After all, He must have been living somewhere before the Son created these heavens and the earth, right?
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Is the heaven that exists now (the one that was purged and now includes paradise) going to be destroyed and a new heaven created at the same time the new earth is created (Rev. 21:1)? Or is it the new heaven now?
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No, this is not the new heaven that John saw in Revelation 21. This is the one that will be destroyed, just as Peter said in 2Peter 3.
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And if it’s not now the new heaven, what is wrong with it that God still plans to destroy it (seeing that now there is no evil there)?
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Sorry. That’s not my department. 🙂
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My next question is, what exactly is a throne? I’m thinking particularly about thrones in heaven. I know that John saw physical thrones in heaven, (and they even live and speak!) but what are they? Do they simply represent a position of power and authority or are they something more?

I think that’s all for now. Thank you,

Vince

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Of course, the word “throne” can be symbolically used, but what John saw was real, and the thrones he saw represented some kind of authority that he did not explain, and may not have been told. Beyond that, all we can do is wait and see what we see when we see Jesus! Then we will not only understand the things you mention, we will also learn whether or not if the “thrones” we will receive when we reign with Jesus (Rev. 20:4) are symbolic or real. Either way, we are going to be happy.

Good hearing from you, brother Vince!

Pastor John

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Questioning Christians

John,

I recall back in 1992 or 93, I had not yet met brother Gary, but Jesus was working in my heart nonetheless. I had attended a Congregational Church group ( a liberal denomination), and for some reason I just wanted to get involved, to be an active member, so I joined a planning committee that wanted to arrange some Bible classes and some children’s groups. The five of us met in a back room with the (woman) pastor, who was pregnant at the time. She was a real control freak, wanted to do everything, and run the whole show. It occurred to me that she would probably be too tired during her pregnancy to carry the responsibility of running several committees in addition to her obligations of pastoring and writing weekly sermons (which were always very intellectual and elaborately scripted.) Well, being the helpful, sensitive guy that I am, I made the mistake of gingerly implying that she ought to take it easier, especially during her pregnancy. Oops! Wow, she snapped back at me with a harsh remark that was very unfitting for a pastor, and I think she even embarrassed herself by her temperamental reaction. She was a very proud woman. That really put me off. I never went back there again.

In another church, a year later, where I’d become more familiar with the pastor over several months, I asked him about speaking in tongues, and whether or not that happens at a person’s baptism. (I had just begun to read the Pioneer Tract Society’s tracts)

He chuckled, condescendingly, and said, “No, not everyone speaks in tongues, but we’re going to be having a class on Wednesdays to learn to speak in tongues. You wanna take the class?” At that very instant, I felt a deep compulsion in my gut to run from this man—-and I did—–and that was my last participation in Xty. A few months later I met Gary, and subsequently you and Barbara, in the spring of 1994.

I am still amazed that God enabled me to discern the wrong attitudes and wrong doctrines in Xty so early in my walk with Christ. Feels good to be rescued. Now look what His mercy has bestowed upon those who love Him!

Brad

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Hi John,

I agree with Stuart that other scriptures make more sense if in fact Jesus was not aware of Satan’s wickedness prior to the temptation. However, as you also said, Jesus may have known but humbled himself for forty days to the temptations of that wicked creature. Either way, it is very thought proving. Jesus was very humble in either case.

Another thought I had was that Satan uses Christianity to hide who he really is from men on earth, just as God hid who He really is from Satan in heaven. I can’t describe how thankful I am to be called out of Christianity. Otherwise I would be lost. Thank you John for all the hard work and prayer you have put into this book. It will probably take a long time to realize the full extent of what Jesus has given us.

Tom

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Hi John,

I have really enjoyed going over the Father and Son book again, I am so thankful that we have been allowed to understand some of the things that the Father has done with his Son. It seems like the more we learn about the Son, the more things open up for us to know and feel about our Father.

It is astonishing how much he really loves us and cares about what we know about him. He wants us to know him more then we can even imagine. One thing that really stuck out to me yesterday in the reading, John, was how everything in heaven was tried. There was not one being in heaven whose heart was not put through a trial or test to see what they really wanted.

Even his Son went through the temptation in the wilderness by Satan, to see what he really wanted, and he wanted to be with his Father and make a way for us to do the same.

I like what you said about the Son. He may have not known just what was going on with Satan in heaven. I am sure he felt something was not right with him, but the Father may have kept some things to himself about Satan at the time.

It would make more sense about what the Son went through in the wilderness if he was just learning how evil and wrong it was for what Satan had been doing all of the time he was in heaven, and why he may have felt that way at times about Satan. John, I just assumed or thought that the Son knew., since he created Satan, just what he was and how evil he had become. Wow. His thoughts are above my thoughts, and his understanding above my understanding! God help me keep my mind and my thoughts open and free of any wrong ideas about you. I know it will take him to do it, and his loving correction to change any wrong thought about him that we may have. And I know if we keep him first, he will show us everything we need to know. Thank you John

Stuart

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Thanks, Stuart. You may have been right, you know. The Son may have known everything about Satan all along. But the point was, we just don’t know, and there are some scriptures that make a lot of sense if he didn’t.

jdc

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