PREACHCRAFT SANS FRAGRANCE

Reposted from a comment on a friend’s post:
In this season, there is a very not-quite-so-profound realization that we are, hopefully, coming to realize.
It is not just about integrity or skill in preaching taken alone.
And people are smarter and they yearn for more than than well-crafted, apologetically-driven, eexceptionally-studied spiritual mugging after the fashion of Ray Comfort or RZIM.
The accurate defense of the faith means nothing if people cannot discern the tenderness and affection of the Father of Lights strawed through our exposition. There has to really be a sense that we have been with Him more than we have been with the text.
It is not even about the tired maxim of “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.
The bottom line: in this season, people have to be able to smell the fragrance of Christ on our lives in order to know that we do, indeed, “have the goods”, and therefore, be finally given a reason to “pay for the goods”.
We have to have real skin in the game, not merely five hours of good study and at the top of our preachcraft expositionally.
You can preach till the cows come home verse-by-verse, but people will not invest their own skin in the game in the walk after and with Christ until they know your skin is first in the game.
Have we been with Him, or have we merely been with IT?
Are we merely pennywise because we have only been with the text, or are we exceptionally wise because we have marinated in The Only Wise (Jude 25)?
If, on one hand, people smell the fragrance of Him, they will at least have no excuse for not coming.
If, however, on the other hand, people do not smell the fragrance of Him, we will have no excuse, and they will be fully justified in ignoring us.
We must invest that time in having been with Him in order to be clothed with His fragrance. And before we will seek Him rightly as it comes to expanding the kingdom, we must have the right affection for them.
There is that intangible quality of tenderness toward the people not yet of G-d, in order for them to respond well.
Preachcraft alone forces us to rely on cunning speech and persuasion.
Fragrance on the other hand will yield the fields that are white from season to season.
Psalm 91 shows us part of this dynamic of how to avoid mere preachcraft.
#secretplacesofelelyon
#shadowofthealmighty
#preachcraftalonesucks

When Is Buying a Bible Wrong

When you buy it with the wrong motive.

I have learned a whole lot about the work of dealing with Bibles in the last 20 years.

I was not prepared for the idea that a Bible can be defiled to the place where, like a flag that has been worn beyond repair, it must be dealt with in an appropriate manner.

My old ESV Study Bible has recently been the victim of a fit of anger when I was dealing with a situation at home. And (confession and vulnerability are good for the spirit of one who is designed to walk as a leader in the church), it was severely damaged in that issue.  No people were harmed, though I was wrong in what I had done. 

All that said, later, my wife later asked me about that particular Bible, and I ultimately realized there was a connection to several negative emotional events, and then she asked me where I had gotten it.

It had been a present for Christmas, back when I had celebrated Christmas, from my ex-wife.  It was bought in the context of an unrighteous, unyielded, unequally-yoked, and ungodly relationship.  And in short, its purchase was an act of rebellion.

As I flipped its pages with this revelation, it dawned on me.

Spirit of anger.  Purchased with a wrong motive.

The bible had become a terrible mixed bag.  For it had become a place where I had learned both great revelation, connected with the L-rd, and had done a great deal of memorization.  It was the bible I have used in my lengthy conversations with Eric Hatch during our long study of Ezekiel, and for whose understanding and reading of that prophetic book I remain exceptionally indebted.  However, it had also been a place of significant mental blocks, choppy flow in relationships, and it was the book in which I found solace in the midst of a rapidly deteriorating marriage, and over which I had engaged in several verbal fights with my ex-wife.

The initial even of friction after that bible’s purchase was in church a few days after I had bought it, when one of my then-toddler sons had taken a pen and graffiti’d in it.

And so, tonight, I did what for many Protestants would be unthinkable.

I burned that old Bible.

And as I burned it, I felt some pushback and shifts, and some nasty demonic retaliation, and a definite sense of cleansing.

For the record, there is a principle that I think someone needs to hear.  And regardless of the pushback, it bears saying slowly and reading deliberately.

That Bible in your hot little hands, follower of Christ, is not the living, breathing Word of G-d.

According to Hebrews 4:12, Jesus is.  If you want the meaning of Hebrews 4:12 and the identity of the Word of G-d, you need to read the entire context of that verse.

And as we are at it, consider the following fact.

Sacred cows make the best hamburger.

Arthur Burk

Here is the fact, and sacred cow, gang. 

The distinction that we often make in our word studies between Logos and Rhema is artificial.  Those words are actually used interchangeably in the New Testament for “word”.  We like to use the concept of logos to describe the written word, and rhema to describe when the word becomes revelation and living and breathing in us, but such an attempt at distinction that Scripture does not consistently make is unwarranted.

Furthermore, which word do the New Testament, the Mercy John, and the writer of Hebrews use to describe the L-rd Yeshua?

Answer: LOGOS….  Not the word you would think for living word, but the word we classically associate with the idea of the written word.  That alone tells us that our ideas of word studies may have begun to embrace ideas and mentalities akin to magic incantations.  Besides, gang, just because we can list all the meanings found in a concordance does not mean we have the full understanding of a word.  Words in the original languages of Scripture are precisely like words in our own language.  They do have meaning, but that meaning is primarily found in the context of the passages in which they are found.  Words primarily have meaning relative to whole of the verse or passage, chapter, book, ch in which they are nested.

For the purposes of our word studies, the words logos and rhema are used interchangeably.

Gang, there is a news flash here.  The Bible is not your magic book to learn the right incantations for making the spirit realm behave as you want, nor is it the key to success and all of your wildest dreams. 

Growing in your relational connection with the Man and the L-rd is.

ACQUIRING KNOWLEDGE OF WORDS VS. ACQUIRING THE HEART OF THE TRUTH BEHIND THOSE WORDS

Many followers of Christ have grown to value the acquisition of the knowledge of the text of Scripture, but have stupendously failed at the acquisition of understanding the principles behind the words they have dutifully memorized. 

As such, many have grown to treasure both the English book that is the translation behind the text of Holy Writ and the concept of biblical literacy, yet we have a long way to go to see the flowering of both widespread understanding and wisdom.  I am hunting for the fullness of our understanding of the Word of G-d.

It’s not about the book, and I enjoy reading that book as much as the next person, so if the following pictures, that serve as a memorial to the end of that turgid season, offend you, then perhaps ask yourself why they do.

It is about the Man.  We read and study and ingest and execute the principles written in the book in order to connect more deeply with the man.

If all we do is treasure a book, and that book keeps us from walking with the Man that book describes, then something needs to shift.  If the Bible is the most important THING in our life, then it risks becoming a sacred cow, and our valuing its words can turn to bibliolatry.  And if something is defiled and cleansing it is not the answer, then we need to consider that it needs to be removed.  Remove the branches that have stopped bearing fruit.

Just some thoughts.

Concerning Cessationism Of The Gifts Of The Holy Spirit

This post is not my usually-verbose set of thoughts, gang.
Rather, it is a quick-and-dirty, drive-by, Sunday morning hose-down and plea for consistency.
However, I wanted to cover some ground on those who like to believe that the miracles and other gifts of the Spirit have ceased.
For once, let us be consistent in our theology, those of us who are cessationists.
Here are my thoughts.
If some of the gifts have ceased, then why not all of the gifts?
If the gifts have ceased, then discernment has ceased.
If discernment has ceased, then there is no way we can supernaturally tell of the spirit behind the words or actions of a person.
If the gifts have ceased, then no one can be physically resurrected from the dead.
If the gifts have ceased, and the miraculous have ceased, and the miracle of raising someone from the dead does not take place, then let us be consistent and assume and assert that NONE the miracles in the book of Revelation, performed either by the L-rd or by the enemy, can take place.
However, if we assume that literal miracles can take place in the Scripture, then let us believe that they also can take place in the here and now.
Do let us be consistent, and let us cease wrangling with bad interpretations of the text.

The Protection of and Privacy Given the Mercy AND the Ruler/Judge/Deliverer

Put the altar in front of the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law–before the atonement cover that is over the tablets of the covenant law–where I will meet with you.
Exodus 30:6 (NIV)

Let’s draw a clear dynamic.
1) The RJD is as vulnerable as the Mercy.
2) Just as the Mercy needs protection so the RJD needs protection.
3) The Giver has the connection to the friendship of G-d and, as a result, is placed as a further guardian, with the diversity of various prayers poured forth in friendship on behalf of their friends the RJD and the Mercy, in front of the veil that is a protection of and advocating for the RJD and the Mercy.
4) Givers, you are designed, with your depth of capacity for well-stewarded friendship, to protect the vulnerability of the Mercy and the RJD.
YES THE RJD IS VULNERABLE.
Most of the time, because the RJD is a machine, and they will keep chugging past betrayal, people will not consider the RJD to be hurt when they have been mistreated, but even the most hard-earned machine, who is designed to be the ultimate father of the Redemptive Gifts, has a heart and is designed to have a heart, and is designed to father from the deep places of that heart.
Therefore, even when the RJD does not act like they need help, they do need community and help.
Givers, partner with the Holy Trinity in the process to shield not just the Mercies, but also the Rulers in your life. Love them.
Pray for them.
Advocate for them.
Take the hits that are necessary and become their foxhole buddies even when they don’t think they need them.
For if you do, you will have an INTENSELY LOYAL friend in them.

While Hunting For Curriculum…

I have become a home school teacher to my two boys.

Having written a whole lot of thoughts on theology, and thought quite a bit about things biblical, political, cultural, and civilizational, I have had some opportunity to develop some definite thoughts.  

I am considering some variant of classical education, or at the very least, some elements of that concept.

While in seminary, I had the chance to read, “The Colonizer and the Colonized” by Albert Memmi, a book I highly recommend.  And he discussed the importation of the culture of those who colonize a plot of land and its indigenous people.

As I was perusing some fora and message boards and pondering the design of my sons, I came across the following “gem” concerning the journeys of Columbus on a review of a book that is part of a reading list for classical education model:

When a town near me voted to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day that motivated me to educate myself about Columbus. I appreciated the historical background that George Grant supplies so that I could understand Columbus in the context of the times in which he lived in. It helped to be introduced to feudalism which is a foreign concept to many of us. Also understanding the impact of Islam’s Holy War gives us insight into Columbus’ goal to collect the funds necessary to reconquest the Holy Land. Columbus was a man of faith and while he might not have been the best manager he had great courage, perseverance, and commendable goals. Spreading Western civilization to distant shores was a great achievement.

Comment By User “Evan” from Review of “The Last Crusader: The Untold Story of Christopher Columbus”. Found at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1699258.The_Last_Crusader
Accessed November 22, 2018

Now, I mostly agree with this comment, but what gets me is the very last line.  The spreading of one’s civiliation may be a great achievement, but whether it is a positive or negative one is debatable.  As someone who has been trained for cross-cultural ministry, and as someone who has considered the question of how much of our experience as Western Christians, I am reticent to consider that EVERYTHING anyone did as fully great. 

As someone who has become a Libertarian because of Ron Paul and the concept of how he viewed diplomacy with other nations, I find our policing the world mentality to be a few shades on the deplorable side.  Our surveilling our citizenry with the PATRIOT Act and the TSA is a questionable legacy that, for better or worse, is somewhat of a byproduct of President Lincoln’s effort to preserve the Union.  And while I am well that the Union was preserved, there are some after-effects that give me pause.  One such after-effect has been the gradual encroachment and imposition of federal control on the several states’ rights (I am not talking about slavery as the right of a state, given the way “States’ Rights” is often interpreted).

To the extent that any person or nation uses its natural resources and manpower to convert a target culture into a reflection of its own, it runs the risk of damaging the natives.

Instead of colonizing and civilizing people groups, we must learn how to export the heart and meat of our faith, without violating the culture of our audience.

Exporting Judaism to those who do not understand kosher laws or the feasts of the Jews is just as noisome as forcing people to eat ham in order to prove they are saved.  Neither the one nor the other shows evidence or definable fruit of the redeemed life.  Letting the L-rd influence and transform them sovereignly is much preferred, because He can influence those nations gently without destroying or delegitimizing their dignity.  Further, don’t we want them to bear their own fruit rather than bearing fruit that matches our own?

Our job as believers is not to export the window dressing and taste in deco, but rather to export the spirit and soul of Christ, discern where Yeshua is already at work within a culture, and partner with that momentum and grace to ensure HIS desires are fully expressed, way more than our own desires. 

Seeing people converted to The One Man is one thing; seeing people converted to our way of thinking and civilizing is something entirely different.  This is why latching onto Romans 1 and Romans 14:1-7 is so blasted critical; look for where G-d has already clearly revealed himself in the inner workings of a culture, and work with that, and in the process, do not violate their consciences.

This may take a little more work on our part from our perception, but it keeps us from violating them with our zeal and our haste.

Find where G-d is at work, and work there, gang. 

On Feasts, Holidays, Time, and Weighty Matters

ISAIAH’S CORRECTION
There was a time when the L-rd commanded the nation of Israel, with a religious spirit, to quit celebrating the feasts that He gave them.
If you end up celebrating Jewish Feasts, standard holidays, or anything else, with an uncircumcised heart, then there is a problem.
As much a problem as if you celebrated Xmas with an uncircumcised heart.
THE HEART OF THE MATTER: BRING THE DEVIL TO A POINT OF LOSS OF EVERYTHING
G-d, IMHO, really doesn’t care what we celebrate, provided the heart is on-point and tender.
And as for the concept of claiming back a day whose origin has nothing to do with our Father, my thoughts are these.
G-d was there first.
And at EVERY point, the clowns and donkeys are supposed to lose. Everything.
And because G-d was on the date of December 25th first, I, as a Jew cede N. O. T. H. I. N. G. to that critter, who will burn.
So, my thoughts, tied with Romans 14:7, are: cede nothing.
Sanctify what He has given you to sanctify.
Leave be those who celebrate where you do not.
And engage with Him in the cleansing of time on all days, because He was all of theres (my coined word) first.
And yes, Yeshua wasn’t born of 25 December, but why should I cede what G-d created (a portion of time) to darkness?
Why should I cede yoga to the enemy? MOHA, disc 2, cut 4, timestamp 09:27-11:47.
That is Prophet attitude.
We did that with Samhain/October 31 and retreated to our cloisters, and look where it has gotten us.
Afraid of the craft….
Separated from the culture…
Many times we act like this or that holiday in the Christian Church is of pagan origin…
Or this is G-d’s calendar…
And we have become so careful when it comes to AGRESSIVELY CLEANSING the first level of holiness, the dynamic of time, we were designed to clean up, that we have lessened our posture of actively cleansing some of these time frames.
And so we fall back, and fall back, and make our Judaism or Jewish roots our safe place and give ground to the enemy.

TIME FOR ADVENT
It is time for us to watch our Husband whip these critters’ butts.
It is time for Him to Advent Himself into our reality and for us to encounter Him, whatever that looks like.
He is intensely interested, not only in our dates, nor only in the form of our celebration, but also in our authenticity and in the authenticity of our celebration, and that we celebrate in accordance with our design.
HOW WE TREAT OTHER FAITH EXPRESSIONS
It is time for those of us who are Jews and non-Jews to learn where the grace is in December 25, not just condemn that day and burn it at the stake. We must shift to a place where we drive for community of irrepressible life-giving, because December 25 has enough of a peak, when it comes to the celebration of community, that we can really cleanse it.
STRIP DIONYSIUS OF HIS POWER ON THAT DAY
Also, for those who still celebrate December 25 after the fashion of the church, it to is a good idea to sanctify it apart from the spirit of Dionysius (excess).
I WAS HEALED ON CHANUKAH
The major reason I personally separated from Xmas has less to do with pagan roots.
Given Yeshua was likely born during the High Days, likely Sukkot, I am part of the affirmation of that tabernacling imagery.
But that isn’t even the reason I separated from Xmas.
I separated from it because of the absolutely drunken excess and idolatry of credit card spending, stabbing people over that XBox, the worship of that day, and the FORCED PRESSURE AND DISTRESS that people put their families under during that time. We make such a pattern of unhealthy spending and pressure that we forget the treasures of our community around us.
Further, it was during December 8, 2012, Chanukah, I had an encounter with Adonai Elyon, and He restored my laughter. And at that moment, He put me on the Jewish calendar. And as a result, my spiritual year starts every Chanukah, that week COLOURS my entire year.
THE PRIORITY OF ROMANS 14:7
And because of Romans 14:7, I categorically no longer preach ANYONE else onto a Jewish calendar or say it is more holy or more righteous than any other timekeeping device. And I personally want my FB contributions to be the most non-FB FB page in th community. As an act of overt warfare.
As a Jew, I am just gonna challenge those who are so tied up in studying the feasts and celebrations of Judaism, to consider that maybe there is something available beyond the feasts.
There may be and opportunity, in terms of redemptive grace to lean into in this time of year (Advent/Xmas) and, instead of hanging it all up, denouncing is as pagan, quoting Jeremiah (which has little to do with Xmas trees), that maybe there is something else, another use for this time of year.
BACK TO THE BEGINNING
And if you will recall at the beginning, I related that there was a time when the L-rd had a bellyfull of the Israelites celebrating feasts and refusing to bring justice.
Unless Father says to you specifically otherwise, it does not matter much what we celebrate or castigate in terms of holidays.
And we have enough of a two-way backlash between Jews and non-Jews in terms of contentions that has grown possibly to the place of sowing discord and we might consider if we need to step away from that attitude.
TITHES OF TIME VS. WEIGHTEIR MATTER
Overall, it does not matter what we celebrate if we neglect the weightier matters of the Torah: Justice, Mercy, and Faithfulness. (Matthew 23:23).
He wants your heart way more than he wants your mint, dill, and cumin.
And if he has your heart, then the mint, dill, and cumin will go where they are supposed to go anyway.
MODUS OPERANDI
Cede nothing.
Cleanse everything.
Steward your prayers, your presence, your gifts, and your service.
Redeem the days that you don’t even think can be redeemed.
RESOURCES FOR PONDERING THIS TOPIC
And for another solid resource, I would recommend Witchcraft by Craig Hawkins. There is a link below.
Enjoy, gang.

Many Thanks…And Also Some Thoughts On Transition



To those of you who have started following me at some point since I started this blog following my transtion from Google over 7 years ago, thank you.
The posts transitioned from Blogspot we’re definitely indicative of a rougher set of days–days from which I was disconnected.
I understand now why I was disconnected. I was unheard by many people, when I was designed, evidently to be heard. So much was locked up in me for decades. And now, having spent years apart from my timeline and also from my effective voice, there is a place for this river to rush.
And it will not stop.
I know now the significance of those words Father uttered at the end of my Sophomore Year in college.

Do what you enjoy.

I stepped out of the safety of what I believed was a profitable major, into doing what I loved.
And the workload went down.
I barely broke a sweat those, even working among feminists, lesbians, and all sorts of people who were contrary to my views and philosophy.
I took a class on Colonialist Lit from a Muslim immigrant from the West Bank.
I dealt with people who frequently enjoyed emasculating men, and I negotiated that process with skill because Father used that department to unpack a major strength.
My writing and work with words.
I learned how to write and that well precisely because Father told me to do what I enjoyed.
It was an exceptionally bright spot in the midst of a rough church season and prequal to a rougher spiritual season.
And from the beginning of darkness until today, I was able to read Holy Writ and write about it.
I began to be set apart as a Scribe.
It was during that dark season that TPH began.
It was during those early posts, where I worked to honor my first wife that those early posts happened.
Even on those posts, there I recognize the gall of wormwood.
Bitterness.
But thinking about the Scriptures was a light spot in the darkness.
So, for those, especially Brian Fulthorp of συνεσταυρομαι, the firstfruits of my followers, and an old, loyal Teacher friend, I have to express my gratefulness.
To every reader…
Of every post…
Of every rumination…
And every friend…
I offer heartfelt thanks…
And I can say, those early posts, made up of constipated thoughts, were rough.
And they form part of this blog.
Read them if you dare.
Heh.
And the newer posts do have a ease that flows across them.
And I am floored when I see the readership that is global. South Africa. American Samoa. New Zealand. Australia. Kenya. Sweden. Norway. Ireland. The U.K.. Ghana. Germany. France. Belgium. Ecuador. Taiwan. Canada. And the list goes on and on.
So, if you are blessed in reading this blog, and you think what we have to say here at TPH would benefit someone else, feel free to share.
I know I will be writing books as well. I have three in the works right now.
One on the names of G-d.
Another on this theme of Blessings of Stillness.
And a third on the letter to the Ephesians.
So, for those who have taken the time to read, and to enjoy my labor of affection, I am deeply honored.
And now…because I refuse to write without some such thought or another, on to the important stuff. On to the steaks!
A NEW SEASON
Pictured above is the near final clean-out that marks the clean end of a season.
The season of Missouri the separation from my sons, and the dumping of everything negative which that season represented.
Those are the majority of the remains of the bunk beds we bought for Isaac and Emmaus while we were in Southwest Missouri.
I was so glad to get rid of that because it didn’t fit the flow of anything I have had since my season in Connecticut ended.
I get really buggy and irritable when flow gets tweaked or out-of-whack.
And those bunk beds, designed so the lower bed was set 90° to the upper bunk in order to add shelf/drawer space on one side and a desk on the other disrupted flow anywhere they went.
And today, they were gone, and with them, a massive spiritual clog.
And on top of the deletion of that clog…

I left my job as a commercial Electrician’s Helper.
And my and Pam’s armorbearer transitioned to a season where she is songwriting again, and she is experiencing massive shifts in other areas as well. And I am dealing with some blockages as well in how I see my wife and my role and office of husband.
And Emmaus’ birthday, the 8th, included some significant breakthroughs for us as a family.
It is turning into
Α καιρός time.
A fitting season…
An opportune time.
This is a season of transitions, and we are getting some solid and massive field experience in learning how to manage transitions.
I am homeschooling my sons, I may have found a side hustle, I am working at finding and creating flow in my office space and garage space, I will have a second opportunity to significantly impact them.
I had them for the first six years of their lives, and now I will get them for at least six more years to make a better impact.
And there will be some pastoral transitions in which I will be able to engage with my family.
The καιρός season is not the same as a moment in regular time. Rather it is a window, a season, a movement.
Gang, this is a time approaching where we will have a chance to meet with our destiny. A window for reconciliation.
So, let’s dig in.

"But The Bible Says THEY Did It"

Lot had lived in Sodom somewhere between 14 and 24 years. Long enough to have two daughters born there who had somehow picked up the defiled mentality of the culture there, and brought it with them into the cave.
And the dynamic of Lot’s family devolved from walking with the L-rd righteously to one of fear and self-preservation.
P.S: To people who like to read the Bible with a critical eye and say, “this isn’t the Word of G-d. Just look at their behavior. This isn’t ethical. G-d and these people are monsters.”:
1) Just because the Bible says something took place doesn’t mean the Bible gives tacit approval of said behavior.
2) G-d’s commands of others are always given with a specific eye to their walking in sanctification, holiness, and righteousness.
Description ≠ Prescription.
As we read the Scriptures, let’s learn to distinguish and between behavior of others and what the L-rd wants specifically of us.