Monthly Archives: December 2017

REAL CHRISTIANITY DEMANDS IMPOSSIBLE VICTORIES: RISING TO THE CHALLENGE IN 2018

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       Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” [John 2:19]

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         We call it the Church. This word is from the Greek word Ekklesia. The Hebrew word is Qahal. It refers to the entire worldwide congregation of the Lord Jesus. Relationally, it is a spiritual community composed of all believers working together. It was known in the beginning as “The Community of the Called-Out Ones.” It has never referred to a single denomination though some have appropriated the title.

         The Church is not a building. Though we call them “churches” today that was not the case in the beginning. In fact, there were no official church buildings for THREE CENTURIES. The early believers met almost exclusively in private homes. They did not “go to church” in order to “have church.” Real Christians ARE the Church.

         The best chance the enemy had at destroying the Church was destroying the Lord. If God’s enemies could manage to kill Him before He did any more damage to their kingdom they would succeed at eliminating the possibility of the Lord’s movement reaching the powerful spiritual level it was blessed with at Pentecost. The devil knew he could never allow that to happen or he would lose it all.

         So the Lord had to be destroyed. They tried it several times, even at the beginning of His ministry at Nazareth, but continued to be woefully unsuccessful. No matter how hard they tried they couldn’t get Him.

          They claimed He was a liar, a false prophet, and certainly a false messiah. They said He was demon-possessed. They insisted He was crazy, something even His own family considered. They also said He was a drunk and a glutton. Imagine that. After a forty-day fast? Those idiots did everything they possibly could do destroy Him and His reputation. They attempted to destroy His good Name. Many were convinced by their lies.

       But those who felt compelled to believe in Him were never convinced by such falsehoods. They knew all of these false pronouncements were lies. They knew the Lord’s enemies must lie about Him and slander Him in an attempt to destroy Him so they could save their own lives and their own reputations. They had previously succeeded in convincing almost everybody that they were right, that they were legitimate, that they were in religious control legally and by divine right. This meant the entire temple complex. It meant every synagogue. The bad guys had taken control of the entire operation.

        “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” [Luke 16:13-15]

          They dressed very well for the part. They did anything they could to look like holy men, to look like men separated out by God for His purposes, and claimed exclusive religious authority over the people. They created a higher caste in which they deemed themselves the only worthwhile members. They relegated everyone else—the 99%—to the lowest of the low and thereby created another class, one of voiceless nobodies with no authority, and denied them a proper spiritual education, allowing them to be taught only the false doctrines and dogmas of their exclusive club. Whoever dissented was made to pay. They even violated the Law of Moses by creating their own unwritten interpretation that eventually gained more prominence than the Law itself.

        “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” [Matthew 23:23-28]

        When the time came for the Lord to lay down His life and fulfill His calling as the Sacrifice Lamb to buy back our freedom and rescue us from sin and death, His enemies pounced. They worked very hard for that opportunity. They could hardly believe their good fortune. They had lied about Him repeatedly and did everything they could and it finally paid off. All of their filth and innuendo and slimy lies and slander and libel finally came to fruition.

        When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.” And all the people said, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!” [Matthew 27:24-25]

         After the Lord had already been beaten up to an inch of His life and was hanging on the cross those people still were not through. They had to keep pounding away verbally to get in as many shots as they could before He died.

         Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him. [Mark 15:29-32]

         We all know the rest of the story. The Lord died. They killed Him. They released as much of their hate and vitriol as they could. For almost three days the Lord’s reputation was completely destroyed. He was just one more false prophet who met His fate. All the great things He had done in His ministry were largely forgotten. Even His own close disciples huddled in fear, knowing they could very well be next. There was no solution for this incredible miscarriage of justice. All was lost.

         Then the Lord Jesus did the impossible. HE ACTUALLY RAISED HIMSELF FROM THE DEAD JUST LIKE HE SAID HE WOULD.

          They did indeed destroy the Temple. The enemies of the Lord were exulting in their great success. They had eliminated the threat to their wicked and despicable kingdom. And yet, forty years later they were the ones who were destroyed forever.

        “For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” [Luke 19:43-44]

         And while some were talking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts, He said, “As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.” [Luke 21:5-6]

         Though they killed the Lord and killed a great many of His followers in the first major persecution wave of the early Church, He didn’t stay dead and all of His followers gained eternal life. But Jerusalem was destroyed. The temple was destroyed. Those evil people were all put out of business. And every single one of the Lord’s people thrived. No matter what anyone tried to do to them they kept going. They kept preaching. They kept teaching. They kept loving. They often suffered greatly but then just got right back up again and kept on going. They would never stop unless they were killed. Nothing anyone tried worked. If they died they went to heaven. If they stayed alive they kept doing the work of the Lord. They pulled together. They worked together. They loved each other. THEY EVANGELIZED THE ENTIRE ROMAN EMPIRE AND THEN WENT TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.

         The lesson to be learned here is that if you are a real Christian you will certainly have enemies who will hate you and want to take you out. It all depends on the effect you are having upon those enemies. If you are a Christian in love with the world you will be safe, of course, but friendship with the world is enmity with God. Here is an example of the proper attitude of real Christians:

         But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”

        They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. [Acts 5:34-42]

        There is a Great Awakening coming to America. Christians are waking up. Many have been bound by religious garbage. But so many of you reading this know exactly what I am talking about. You have been attacked in the past and have been trying to recover ever since. Some of you have suffered greatly and wonder if you will ever regain the fight and spiritual vitality you once possessed. It appears as though the enemy has gained the victory and even that the Lord doesn’t much care. These are all lies. The enemy will get his. Here is my advice:

         Even if you have not suffered so much but know you are not operating at top speed and full strength, you must allow the Lord to raise you back up by raising yourself up. I am not referring to some lame self-help stuff. This is a purely spiritual situation. The Lord has called each of his children to go work in the fields and no one else can do your job. You must take the time right now to begin reevaluating everything and determine to return to full strength in this coming new year. I will close with this:

         Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. [Isaiah 40:28-31]

         The Hebrew word for “wait” in this passage is qavah. It means to not just wait passively but to wait patiently, eagerly, hopefully, and expectantly. It is an active word connoting being filled to the brim in faithful anticipation of what the Lord is going to do, namely, that He will provide NEW STRENGTH and ENERGY and POWER and will overcome all of one’s weariness and tiredness, and by implication even lethargy. Then one will RUN without getting tired and WALK without getting weary. This waiting eagerly for the Lord will allow one to receive strength enough to run a spiritual Ironman Triathlon! So we must not just sit around waiting in a static sense but wait dynamically and actively and with great faith. The waiting itself is waiting in strength which we provide in anticipation of the Lord’s providence of GREAT STRENGTH that only He can provide. It could be that the more we put into the waiting, the greater the Lord’s providence will be!

         Don’t ever forget that real Christianity demands impossible victories. In the Lord’s case they threw everything they had at Him and even killed Him but it did no good. They still lost. They were the biggest losers this world has ever known and so are those who attack the Lord today and His people. Such attackers are losers, and unless they repent they will prove it eternally by losing their souls. Don’t let them stop you, especially those wolves in places of authority dressed like sheep.

         Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to WAIT for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” [Acts 1:4-5] [1]  

          © 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. 


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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Let Every Day Be Christmas 2017

       This really is a great time of year, of course. Regardless of whether one is a practicing Christian or not, people in general have a greater tendency to appropriate the spirit of Christmas during the holiday season. Most are nicer to one another and more accommodating. Many live out the Golden Rule by visiting friends and relatives, engaging in quality fellowship and family time, smiling a little brighter, giving gifts, helping others, and loving one another.

         In other words, we all generally do as the Lord Jesus taught us to do. Though it is not really His birthday, we celebrate it at this time and it makes all the difference.

         After the holidays, however, most people go back to their regular lives of disobedience and indifference toward God. There is a quick return to doing things our way, living our way, sinning our way, demanding our way, hating our way, and forgetting all about the wonder of Christmas.

      This means Christmas is merely a time to briefly touch upon the reality of human existence and the answers and gifts each of us has for each other. It is a faux construct revealing the truth of how most of us wish it could be but will never be. It is a time to celebrate the mere idea of the Christmas message. It is a time when people doing good things is culturally legal, where one’s good heart blends with everyone’s and brings no personal disdain as a do-gooder or clueless nice guy. People set aside their prejudices and hatred because the pressure’s off. We get a lift from giving. Joy is allowed a place in our hearts. Those who rarely smile grin a little.

      But it is all only temporary. The New Year will bring a return to the rat race and justifiable lying, cheating, and slander. Bad attitudes are only placed on hold during the Christmas season. People do not actually repent. People do not actually embrace the Lord and obey His teachings. As wonderful as it all is, Christmastime is an aberration.

         Why can’t we live out the spirit of Christmas all year long? Some of the reasons are as follows:

(1) It would no longer be a special once-a-year season.

(2) Too much work! (Decorating, shopping, entertaining, family—Yikes!)

(3) People cannot fake love for that long.

         The real reason?

       Most people refuse to make the giant leap toward real repentance and living a spiritually-disciplined lifestyle. Most people cannot conceive of possessing an inner joy all year long. Most people do not know the Lord Jesus and do not want to know Him. And this includes most “Christians.”

         It is far easier to obey one’s will than His will.

         It is far easier to be deceived than know the truth.

        I recently stated in the comments section of this blog that most churches would never allow the Lord Jesus to be in charge of their operations. This also holds true for most of us who say we are Christians. But for those fellowship groups who would agree to let the Lord be the boss, let 2018 be the year we accomplish this at a higher and faster rate, and to a greater degree. Let real Christians do the same. Let us truly love one another, help each other, and see about one another. And let it last all year long.

         My hope this Christmas is that it will continue being Christmas. Keep buying gifts and giving gifts. Keep entertaining and blessing others. Keep the wonder and the happiness and the love. Make your heavenly Father proud. Indeed, make Him cry tears of joy. Move His heart with your attention to His curriculum and course of personal conduct. Make Him pleased with your discipleship. Honor Him as your Lord and Savior who stopped at nothing to bring you abundant life. Love Him with all your heart and love one another as you love yourself.

      Be blessed this Christmas. Be very, very blessed. Remember the One who made it possible. Thanks to all of you who have read my articles, commented on them, and passed them on to others. I especially want to thank those of you who have subscribed and allowed me to send out my email updates. You have all been a great blessing!

        It is my belief that 2018 will be a pivotal year in many respects, but mostly as a year when an even greater number of real believers will be born into the kingdom, when many Christians will rededicate their lives, when many more solid groups, spiritual communities, and fellowships will be formed, and when the Lord’s people become even greater salt and light for such a time as this.

         It is impossible to lose when on the Lord’s side. Allow the wonder of Christmas to stay in your heart all year long. May we all be real and may we all keep loving.

         And may we all have a Merry Christmas.

         © 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

WHY THE CHRISTMAS STORY IS ALSO A PARABLE

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      “Okay, here’s what the Lord’s going to do. He must go stealth. The enemies are always waiting at the doors and ready to pounce. He will bypass them. He will go in under the radar. They will never recognize Him.”

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      “But that’s going to make things very difficult for the people He chooses to work through.”

         “Yes, but they love Him. They know what they signed up for. They will answer His call.”

       “It would seem some would never answer that call. They may even think it was the enemy. Anything that would cause so much discomfort, rejection, and pain may be seen as coming from the wrong source.”

         “Yes, but that is only true for those who don’t really know Him. The ones who hear His voice, well, they will certainly act. They will obey. They will know it is not because He doesn’t love them or is purposefully causing them to sacrifice so greatly without a higher purpose somehow being involved.”

         “How does He manage to do this?”

     “He speaks to their hearts. He shows them things in their spirit. It is a form of communication that escapes detection from outside sources, and those who receive cannot even readily relay what it is they hear because they sense no one will understand.”

          “So they act.”

         “Yes. They act. He knew Mary would act. He knew she would obey. It was completely her decision, of course. But that’s what a calling is. It is not only the Lord telling people they have been chosen or called into a particular service, it is also that He already knows they will say yes. They say yes because they hear His voice and love Him, but also because they know deep within that the calling He gives them answers a very deep need and desire in their hearts. They want to serve, but they want it to be right. Many serve incorrectly, thinking they are serving Him, but never get the satisfaction they desire, or that deep feeling in their hearts. They feel like they are working very hard but not getting anywhere. This never happens with Him. Those who hear His voice and obey know something substantial happens when they do. They know they are entering an area in which their soul is satisfied, filled, and blessed. Mary knew this.”

        Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

         And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”

         Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. [Luke 1:26-38] [1] 

         © 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

THE TRUTH DIALOGUES: Episode 3

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    “In discussing people beyond the reach of justice and majorities uninterested in truth, where does that leave the endeavors of honorable individuals intent on necessary reform?” 

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         “Reformation is always an enterprise of individuals. It is always the individual who sees the need for reform. Though there are usually a great many individuals who see such a need, only very few actually act upon it. The larger part of that equation—the decision-making process which chooses eventually to not act—is most often based on mere self-preservation. Most people would rather not rock any boats because they know they will receive bad reactions and negative feedback and some of it may be severe. Most are intelligent enough, if that’s the right word, or at least aware enough, to figure this out ahead of time.”

         “Even though they know there is an injustice, they would rather keep quiet?”

        “Yes. Of course. It is almost never the case that grave injustices are performed in the dark and stay there, hidden from everyone. It is that the perpetrators thereof deal in a very high level of intimidation.”

          “They use fear to keep people quiet.”

         “Everyone knows this. It is why the bad guys are often so bold in their schemes. They know someone always notices what they do, even if done in secret and in the dark, and it is often many someones, but they also know most will never act to expose or stop them. It is like that famous case several decades ago, though in microcosm, of a murder that took place late at night in a teeming city in which many people heard the screams of the victim but no one acted to save her.”

         “There is the phrase, ‘I don’t want to get involved,’ and the operative word there is involved, in that becoming involved in another person’s problem could potentially cause too much personal discomfort.”

         “Yes, and it is not at all just discomfort, or even pain that they fear, but also concern for one’s reputation. This is why most people prefer to run in groups in which everyone thinks and acts roughly the same and in which there are no deviations from the norm.”

         “And thus no deviants.”

         “Yes. Most people would rather be part of a crowd and not deviate from the parameters or mores of the crowd because such a deviation would be a pox upon their reputations. They know the members of their own group would look askance upon such behavior and might even rebuke them. Such efforts are initial lead-ins to possible further censuring in order to do whatever may be necessary to keep such wayward members in line.”

         “Because wayward members may cause a chink in the group’s armor, so to speak.”

        “Yes. The group must protect itself, that is, its shared interests, against anyone who may attempt to subvert it and its cohesion, even if it comes from within. This is why it is always the case that the first enemy a reformer faces comes from his own group and never from without. And there are always very strong members in the controlling circle of the group with the most vested interests who bring the strongest attack. As a perfect case in point, the Lord Jesus was betrayed and killed by members of His own nation, though they used an outside political intermediary, the Romans, to get the job done.”

         “And that is quite the irony, is it not?”

         “It certainly is, in that the group was threatened by the reform efforts of one of their own, and in order to protect the group from outside influences in order to keep it pure, it enlisted the help of the most powerful outside influence to eliminate the threat.”

         “What does that say for that particular group and for such groups in general?”

        “I would say that if such groups have to resort to that level of devious subterfuge to stave off its own necessary reformation, it not only proves the dire need for its reformation in the first place but also reveals that real reformation for such groups is often not even possible.”

         “Then Jesus was not actually trying to reform it?”

         “No. He was actually revealing it for what it was and attempting to rescue people from it. Though He would have liked to bring reform and could have, He knew it was not possible simply because the group was not willing. It works the same way with individuals. The Lord gave everything He had to save and was willing to die for everyone, but he won’t waste His time with unrepentant and unwilling people. Even so, individuals who do not hold membership in groups are easier to save in part because they are not compromised and hindered by peer pressure, and the worst form of that is religious peer pressure.”

         “It is the ruling supremacy of the group.”

         “Correct. And the people of the group have already bought into it to such a degree that their liberty and individual consciences have been compromised without them realizing it. People become bound. Their loyalty is misplaced. Their minds have been undermined. No one can break out of such a condition except through one process. The individual must have somehow retained in his possession something very important that the cultish control of the groupthink mechanism failed at some point to eliminate.”

         “And what would that be?”

         “That would be an overriding and uncompromising love for the truth.”

         © 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.   


THE TRUTH DIALOGUES: Episode 1  

THE TRUTH DIALOGUES: Episode 2  

SPIRITUAL PRACTICALITY OR PRACTICAL SPIRITUALITY? A QUESTION OF BALANCE

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        Many years ago several members of our church were returning from a service on the other side of town. There were maybe eight or ten of us, all young adults.

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         It was kind of funny because we were in one of those standard yellow school buses that had a former life transporting kids all over creation and we could probably fit our entire congregation within its cavernous confines. It was an old bus. Someone had probably bought it for a song after it was retired and then donated it. Most of us were brand new born again believers.

         Anyway, here we were, fresh from praising the Lord in a small black Pentecostal church that never failed to be a blessing. We visited many such churches back then and it was always a great experience. My first time in one of those churches allowed me to see two things immediately—those believers didn’t mess around. When it came to praising the Lord they gave it everything they had. The preacher, the singers, even the worshipers in the pews—no one held back. The second thing was that we all had the same intentions and love for the Lord. When you meet another real Christian for the first time, even if on the other side of a very large city or cultural divide, you instantly meet another brother or sister. Such divides do not matter. Having the Lord Jesus in common and loving Him with all your heart does that. We are all part of His family.

        We were almost back to our church that night. Then our fun time in our big yellow school bus that became a church bus suddenly stopped. The engine died. It wouldn’t start. Now, though I was in my early twenties, I had already been completely immersed in the practical side of life and had many an untold number of such experiences with cars. I was used to having a car break down and was also used to finding a way to get it back on the road. If that didn’t work you dragged it off to a garage somewhere to get it fixed.

         It’s funny how I look back at those times now. We couldn’t afford wreckers. That was far too much a luxury. If your car broke down, you and a friend got a towing chain and set off on an adventure. If you didn’t have a chain you used a rope. It was not at all as easy as it may sound. A LOT could go wrong when you’re out on the road or a highway linked together like that. But it was cheap. In fact it was free. And that was a good thing, of course, because any other alternative meant doing nothing since it involved too much money already dedicated to other things.

         I say all that to set the scene for what was about to happen. Again, I was very familiar with the right way to go about doing whatever must be done to get a dead bus back on the road. But that night was different. It was different because I was different. I had recently become a born again believer and was fired up. I had just been in a powerful church service where the place was rocking. The preacher wasn’t some laid back drone going through the motions like you see in some churches, but an anointed minister of the Gospel who took the Lord seriously and believed in the miraculous. (You know, like a baby being born in a manger who happens to be God.) 

         So when the engine died and my natural inclination to go help fix what was wrong was supposed to kick in it didn’t kick in. I had a completely different mindset. I thought it was wrong to immediately respond in a practical manner with no regard for a spiritual effort. I felt it was time to be serious about the Lord! Didn’t He tell us to seek Him? I told the others we needed to pray about it. We needed to pray right away and ask the Lord to fix whatever was wrong. Silence… Crickets… Nobody said anything. I think they all knew they had to honor the sentiment of what I was expressing. They knew I was right but they also knew they better get out there and find the problem. I was having none of it. We were going to pray and the Lord was going to fix the old bus!

         It never happened. What I said was acknowledged somewhat but then ignored. A couple of guys quietly went outside to raise the hood. I couldn’t believe it. I got really angry. I got off the bus and began walking away. In the growing distance I heard it start up. They got the old yellow church bus running again pretty quickly. Maybe the Lord actually did do something. But by that time I was walking home. I wasn’t waiting for a ride back with my friend. While I’m out there not too far away on the highway still as angry as I could be my friend drove by to pick me up. I said forget it. Then he got angry. He drove on and I was left to my thoughts on a long walk back to my apartment. What in the world was I thinking? It’s pretty funny as I reflect back on it. I think the Lord enjoyed it all and probably got a good laugh. He understood, and He knew this was all part of the discipleship learning curve. I also think He was proud of me for thinking of Him first and taking a stand though the application left much to be desired.

         My behavior obviously was not the greatest, but I was serious about my new found faith. We see that same kind of behavior among the Lord’s own chosen ones in the gospels. It’s hilarious when it seems Peter wanted to fight everybody, for example. Those guys were always letting their unbridled masculinity run free. The cool thing about it all was that the Lord supported it. He made them that way. Sure, we must learn to channel it all correctly and He did jump their case on occasion, but Christian men should never allow for even a second the slightest effort toward religious emasculation. And if you want to know the one giant problem with organized Christianity, that’s it.  

        I certainly could have helped find the problem with that bus. You learn to do a lot regarding the fixing of cars when you’re young and you don’t have a lot of money. There are some of you reading this right now who have a practical need but no money to fix it. I understand. Sometimes, even though we are all so incredibly blessed as children of the Lord, we don’t have all that we need and must improvise or simply do without. But if we really believe in the Lord and what He can do, is there really a problem?

        Miracles are not practical. They also don’t happen automatically. They require faith. We must be serious. The Lord says this repeatedly in His Word and demonstrates it for us and proves it to be true. With Him, ALL things are possible. This is just fact. As a young man I was all gung ho for the Lord. I wanted us to pray about that old bus. I wanted to give the Lord the first opportunity to fix it. I knew He could. It would have been a great spiritual ending to a great spiritual night. But even though everybody there believed just as I did, no one agreed with what I felt we should do.

         Why is that? Why didn’t anyone else agree with me that we should at least pray first? I think we all know the answer. We must be practical when it is called for. There are times, though, when practical knowledge won’t work. Though we may be great at fixing things, there are times when it is beyond our ability and know-how to fix something. None of us are Superman. But the Lord is. And if the only way any particular follower of the Lord will actually engage in spiritual things is when all other practical possibilities are exhausted, I guess that’s okay. But wouldn’t it be best to be wise and seek Him first?

         This is the time of year when Christians the world over return to the beginning of the greatest story ever told—the one historical event that changes the spiritual direction and eternal destination of any person anywhere. The Lord Jesus can do anything. Anytime, anywhere, any place, under any conditions—there is nothing He cannot do. He has achieved mythological proportions for those few who actually see His life for what it is, yet most Christians can’t quite get there. This nonsense must stop. There is no such thing as practical-only Christianity. Real Christianity always requires the miraculous. The Lord will often put us in impossible situations just to prove it. Maybe you messed up or maybe someone else messed up or maybe no one messed up. Maybe it is simply the case that the Lord wants to bless you with a miracle. If you have a great need this Christmas and have no other way to make it happen, He can make it happen for you.

         It’s who He is. It’s what He does.

        And the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. [Matthew 2:9-11] [1]      

          © 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. 


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Longing for Camaraderie and Missing a Friend

        A good friend went home earlier this year. He was a part of this blog from the beginning and was nothing but a support from the start, over six years ago.

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         Every follower of the Lord needs someone like Don. He only ever had an encouraging word and a smile, and was willing to consider any truth. He left many messages here, in comments spread throughout my many posts.

         He was a gentle man but strong, and much loved by his family and so many friends. I don’t think it was even possible to not like him. Having already raised a family, he was still working at his profession into his mid-seventies. I met him and his wife at the end of a church service right before I created this site. He was pretty much my only reader in the beginning. I remember I kept plugging away. In my first year I wrote over a hundred posts and was still much invisible, but Don was always there.

        We would get together for Bible studies at his place. He even let me teach on many occasions. We had a good time. After I returned from a few years working on the oil rigs, we continued to meet every week or so, having informal study sessions, which is actually a euphemism for Don allowing me to talk. He was a great listener. He understood, I think, that I had a lot to say and few to say it to, but it’s always been that way. He would add, though, many wise words, even though he was not all that proficient or up to speed on all the voluminous spiritual knowledge we have available to us today.

         The Lord made me a teacher from the beginning with an anointing to search and seek out knowledge and truth, especially of course, His truth. I could never get enough and still can’t. I joke with people that I’m glad eternity is forever because I have so much work to do and so much to learn. Don would always allow me to tell him about all the recent revelations I was receiving from heaven’s downloads. He didn’t understand sometimes but never allowed that to be a cause of rejection. He was a traditionalist, I think, at heart, and had a disciplined west Texas upbringing, one of those kinds of raisings that so many Americans received, in which the number one rule was to serve the Lord in the light they had, in the way they felt was right. The second rule was to survive.

         This is a dynamic that so many have lost touch with. Back then and for so much of the history of America it truly was always a matter of survival. You had the Lord, if you did, and then you had some family and maybe a friend or two. And you had your wits and an understanding that life is very hard and only the strong survive. There was no government, for the most part, back then. There was, but it was so small, and it was distant, and for most Americans it had little effect. They were on their own. There was no nanny state. America was still very far apart and far away and distant horizons were everywhere. Those days have long since passed.

         Americans sprinted out west and then backwashed to the center and America became a place where all the detail started getting filled in and everyone started building out everything that could be. In time it became the equivalent of a person turning inward and then America began experiencing all levels of mental constructs and the problems that ensue when people lose their dreams and their way.

         Yet, it was only eighty years ago when there was still a frontier in places and so much yet to discover. The famed Route 66 began in 1926. People had an insatiable desire to seek out a good life with much energy and joy. Families stayed together. They had to. They needed each other. Their focus wasn’t on themselves.

        Then the whole thing blew up. The devil invaded with an evil agenda and most Americans didn’t know it was him. He would do his usual dividing and destroying and generally just deceiving everyone and bringing temptation and the resultant sin to epidemic proportions. Many American Christians continued to remain loyal to what they had always done, not understanding that the battle had expanded far beyond what it was before and would require much more Lord Jesus and much more of His Holy Spirit.

          The Lord obliged. He knew what we would need. And as always He was way ahead of us. It began about 1960. I have written about the phenomenon here several times. And while the 1960s were blowing up on the political front and on university campuses and in the streets, the Lord was bringing forth new spiritual life on a level never before seen and doing the impossible. Christians from all denominations were experiencing a new spiritual time in this country. Many Christians didn’t see it and most rejected it. But the Lord was proven right.

         My friend Don was on the cusp of all this. He felt more comfortable in his traditional beliefs and approach though he certainly progressed into the future. It had made him what he was. Yet, in my experience, he was one of a kind.

        Our many informal sessions are over now. There will be no more spontaneous Bible studies or talk sessions out on his driveway or in his garage. I think he understood that though I often engaged in much of the verbiage that it was what I needed. I needed someone to listen and gain positive feedback. It was a form of silent counseling on his part, yet he most often was always listening and open. He told me on occasion how much I had done for him and how much he had learned. This was truly real koinonia in action. We both attended to our callings and both received a spiritual benefit that would otherwise never be possible. Here was an older brother listening to a much more informed and knowledgeable younger brother. His hair had long since gone white. Mine was on the way.

         And now he’s gone. This is the fate of us all. Summer always gives way to fall and falling leaves, and an inevitable turn to dark winter skies and gently blowing snow.

        When Don passed away the winter was going. The annual rebirth was underway. Spring was almost here. Life was being born again yet again.

         The Lord is trying to tell us something. We must cross the spiritual frontier in the here and now and receive all He has for us and needs us to have, for His sake and the Gospel.

         Life is short and for some it is shorter than others. Though we possess God’s blessings and strength in the here and now and live to serve Him, and though life is often wrought with pain and tragedy, there is something good at the end of this temporary and often heart-rending realm for those who stay in faith.

          That’s where Don is.

         © 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

THE TRUTH DIALOGUES: Episode 2

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“At the end of our last segment you stated that majority opinion means absolutely nothing as an arbiter of truth. Perhaps you can take up today’s discussion based on that belief.”

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“To begin, the Community of the Lord Jesus is not a democracy. It is not about majority rule and never has been. It could never operate effectively that way. But on the other hand it is certainly not a so-called benevolent dictatorship, as I have heard it referred to, since such is fundamentally a contradiction in terms. Actual dictatorships always operate, and this should be obvious, according to no respect whatsoever for individual rights or freedom. The Lord has never operated that way and never will.”

“But God is in charge, right?”

“Well, of course He’s in charge but He never violates free will.”

“How can one have an actual organization under such guidelines? And does not the existence of God’s overall authority mean He is in charge anyway regardless of semantic professions to the contrary?”

“God is always in charge. He created the universe. But He also created human beings with a free will. He did this because he wants us to excel.”

“Please explain.”

“Let me start by saying we know very well what happens when one person takes control over other persons in non-voluntary situations. The controller gains power by siphoning the liberty of those he controls. In most cases the one in control always operates according to purely selfish interests and will eventually do anything to maintain control once he has it. It is the control over others that gives him his power. He uses his power for personal gain. Even in so-called enlightened societies this is true. It is why people in power must have their power checked by law.”

“And this brings us to the fact that a nation of laws is a much better place to live within than a nation ruled by people, correct?”

“Yes. Laws are put in place, agreed to by the majority, that even the leaders must abide by, and this keeps leaders from becoming lawless tyrants, because the law inhibits the leaders ability to wrest control and thus violate individual rights.”

“Okay, we agree in general, but we still have the means with which laws are created that we must deal with, since you stated that potential laws must first be agreed to by a majority. Does not the same problem develop when laws must be established in this way?”

“Is there any other way to do it? The majority decides but with full respect for individual rights. Otherwise the voters vote against their own liberty. In the beginning God only had one law and that one law was designed for no other reason than to protect the first humans and their progeny.”

“From what?”

“From evil.”

“What evil?”

“The evil arising from an invisible sinister force that had taken residence on the planet before the creation of human beings.”

“Do you really believe that, the idea of an aboriginal sinister devil or serpent or whatever, that predated man? This flies in the face somewhat of scientific advances regarding the evolution of our species and appears as a scapegoat celestial bogeyman upon which we fix blame.”

“Instead of blaming ourselves?”

“Yes, but not in the way I think you mean it. The Genesis story created a bad guy on which to fix blame instead of addressing the actual guilty party.”

“So you believe guilt was involved.”

“Of course guilt was involved and it still is. Humans must find a way to blame someone other than themselves because the alternative implication is far too dark to deal with.”

“Meaning that human beings are actually very well aware of their propensity for evil.”

“We have many centuries and even millennia telling us all we need to know in that regard.”

“In that human beings are evil?”

“As a species we certainly have proven this over and again regardless of time or place. The record is there.”

“Yes, and it doesn’t matter if we are referring to common individuals with little or no control over others or not.”

“In that human beings have proven themselves to be evil because they perpetrate evil acts.”

“The Bible calls it sin. Non-Christians make fun of the concept. But sin is obviously real, as is evil.

“These are merely different terminologies for the same problem and the same potential darkness in people that people feel greatly uncomfortable acknowledging.”

“From a Biblical perspective, sin is defined as missing the mark. Philosophy calls it the problem of evil. Without going into great detail or falling into the trap of endless posturing and casuistry, let us simply acknowledge that evil exists and must have had a point of origin. From a purely amoral scientific perspective in which there is no God and everything exists as the byproduct of billion-year geologic and biological processes, evil still exists. It could be that we have affixed a label to undesirable actions but the undesirable actions still exist, and it is we humans who label such actions as undesirable. Most of us don’t like them. We say they are wrong. We get convicted when we do them, most of us anyway, and wish we had not. So regardless of terminology or belief systems, all human beings the world over have this exact conviction. We know evil exists and we wish it didn’t but we don’t know how to eliminate it.”

“But Christianity does, correct?”

“Before I answer that I want to address the idea that human beings became aware of their sin from the beginning and tried to do whatever they could to eliminate it. At first they tried very hard to simply stop doing bad things. That didn’t work so well but it did slow it down somewhat by those who put forth the effort by simply not obeying the ever-present seemingly natural impulses or giving in to bad desires. Then they tried using ultra-discipline techniques which as a byproduct created like-minded groups, some of which grew into ancient philosophical schools, predating Greece by multiple centuries, of course, and also man-made religions. These did not work so well either. Then we entered into the advent of Law. Law did nothing about the presence of evil. All it did was define it specifically and attach penalties, some very severe, to practices deemed bad or evil which the majority labeled as such. Thus, the fear of violating the law and facing stiff penalties, which would grossly violate personal liberty, kept many people from breaking the law.”

“And this is still the case today. One wonders then, how many people would revert to evil actions characterized as ‘breaking the law’ indiscriminately if there was no longer any law.”

“We already know the answer to this from what happened before law and by the actions of those who refuse to obey the law now. Many such people today are imprisoned because they are a constant unrepentant threat to the law-abiders who wish to live morally in peace.”

“Meaning evil can be checked by disciplined personal choice.”

“Yes. This is what the majority is left with. Not a complete elimination of bad behavior but the choice to try one’s best to be an agent of good. Yet there are still people on the planet who engage in whatever bad behavior they want, including great evil, in that they unofficially violate the law as a matter of course and never have to pay for their crimes.”

“Because they are above the law?”

“No. But because they are beyond the reach of the law.”

© 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.  


THE TRUTH DIALOGUES: Episode 1  

THE TRUTH DIALOGUES: Episode 3

THE TRUTH DIALOGUES: Episode 1

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 `

“Sir, you are on record of saying that one cannot be a good American and a good Christian, and that one must choose one or the other. Is that true?”

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“Well, I never said that. I said something some may think is related to your incorrect characterization, but not according to those terms.”

“What did you say?”

“I said there are times when a Christian must choose their Christianity over the desires of their ruling authorities.”

“But what does that mean exactly?”

“It means the same thing that Peter and John meant when they said real believers must choose the Lord’s will and preach the real Gospel instead of obeying opposing authorities.”

But when they had ordered them to leave the Council, they began to confer with one another, saying, “What shall we do with these men? For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that it will not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no longer to any man in this name.” And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.

But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

When they had threatened them further, they let them go (finding no basis on which to punish them) on account of the people, because they were all glorifying God for what had happened… [Acts 4:15-21] [1]

“Why would you use that passage? I don’t understand your reasoning or the application of that case in this discussion. We have complete freedom of religion in this country. How does Peter and John’s quote apply here?”

“Do we really have complete freedom of religion in this country?”

“According to the Constitution of the United States we do.”

“But is the Constitution actually being applied to uphold the beliefs and values of Christians? And for that matter, is the Bill of Rights actually allowed expression in churches? If Constitutional rights are not allowed in churches and if governments can bypass the Constitution as well, then where is legally-granted spiritual liberty actually allowed? Don’t we have reams of recent data in the political realm over the last few decades in which it is obvious that Christian beliefs are being attacked or at least not being supported as they should be, and that Constitutional support for freedom of religion is only being applied selectively, usually against Christianity but in favor of other religions and beliefs?”

“I am not sure what you are referring to unless you mean segments of far right Christianity or even forms of Christianity which the majority of Christians are against.”

“So, by characterizing those forms of Christianity under attack in America you agree that it is okay to violate the Constitutional rights of those particular Christians?”

“No, I do not mean that. I mean that some forms of Christianity are not supported by Scripture.”

“But who makes that decision? Where is the grand tribunal that decides such things? Who is the final arbiter of what constitutes the actual correct interpretation of Christianity? And who gets to decide which Christians have no rights and which Christians do? Should not all Christian individuals and groups have the same exact right to freely believe in and practice what the members thereof believe to be correct? Isn’t that what freedom of religion actually entails?”

“Although there is no great Christian Law Court which decides which form of Christianity is correct, I think that Christians themselves usually decide who is right by the sheer numbers believing in particular interpretations.”

“You mean the bigger the denomination or church the more likely it is right?”

“Not exactly, but it would appear that, if all Christians read the same Bible, that majority groups would appear to have the best grasp of what the Bible actually states.”

“So you are saying that one of the true tests of correct interpretation is that a majority must prevail and that Christian minority opinions and interpretations do not hold as much weight regarding their beliefs and should therefore not be granted the same degree of rights to protect their beliefs and practices?”

“Technically, the Constitution protects all Christian individuals and groups, even minorities. But when the large majority Christian bodies reject such minorities, it must mean something significant.”

“Is the something significant fair? Is it just? Is it legal? Is it supported by the Lord? Is the coming together of large bodies against the smaller bodies proof that the larger bodies are more correct in their beliefs? Or is it simply the case that the larger bodies are more powerful, influential, and therefore prejudicial?”

“How is it even possible that the larger bodies could be more prejudicial? Isn’t it obvious that the larger the Christian body the more likely such a body is scripturally correct? And doesn’t this then justify any partiality or bias it may possess against smaller Christian offshoots?”

“Do you hear what you are saying? You are stating that might makes right. I am not here defending non-Scriptural Christian beliefs though I will always side with the truth regardless of church or denomination size. Not only that, but freedom of religion is most directly applied to individuals, and must be. Your original query involved the question of whether or not a Christian must sometimes make a choice between his or her beliefs and authority figures who oppose his or her beliefs, and whether such authority figures, either religious or secular, including one’s prevailing government, can be allowed to censor and hinder the beliefs and practices of Christians. I never said a Christian must choose between his beliefs and his country, as you have implied.”

“But are not those two the same? Is not the government of a country essentially and effectively the same as one’s country?”

“Okay. I know you’re playing dumb here for the sake of argument or whatever, and you are trying to get me to say something in such a way that you can twist for your own purposes.”

“I’m not saying that at all. I understand perfectly well the difference between one’s country and one’s current government, but one’s current government in free countries who vote for their leaders is placed in power by the people who vote which means the government reflects the will of the people, which means one’s current government is essentially the same as one’s country at any given time, right?”

“No. Wrong. You could not be more wrong and I don’t believe you are shooting straight with me at all because that’s an asinine argument. One’s country is one’s country. It has in many cases existed a long time, often centuries, and is an entity completely separate from any government of that country which exists at any given time in its history. Also, people change. People become corrupt. Sometimes, if not most times, the corruption begins very small and escapes detection. The corrupt, through inside influence based on money and power, get away with things and continue in their corruption. When no one notices the corruption or no one successfully rises up to stop the corruption in its early stages it metastasizes and eventually grows to a place in which it cannot be stopped. But the corruption does not exist in a vacuum. It exists in the hearts of people. If the corruption, the evil, is not dealt with by the good, then the corruption prevails. We have seen this happen in many countries, in that a small cabal of corrupt ones masquerading as good guys deceives the people into believing in them and supporting them. Entire countries have thus become corrupted merely by deceiving the majority. The same thing happens in churches and denominations. So no, majority opinion means absolutely nothing as an arbiter of truth.”

“Though I don’t necessarily agree with all you are saying, you have brought up some very interesting points about how Christians must live out their faith in this changing world. Would you care to continue this dialogue in another segment soon?”

“Sure.”

“Okay. Thank you.”

© 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. 


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

THE TRUTH DIALOGUES: Episode 2

THE TRUTH DIALOGUES: Episode 3