Monthly Archives: February 2019

THE SECOND COMMANDMENT PROHIBITS GRAVEN IMAGES: WHAT WAS GOD THINKING?

Blog Pic 2.27.19        

       God is against graven images. He is against idols. It is why the ancient Jews expressed a vigorous rejection of such imagery. There must be a compelling reason.

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         The Hebrew word for idol is pecel. It is defined as “a carved, graven, or sculpted image.” God’s injunction against such images is further defined by the Hebrew word temunah, which follows it. This word is most often translated as “likeness,” and is also defined as “form, similitude, picture, or shape.” What God is describing here is basic statuary of any size. Here is how Merriam-Webster defines the word statue: “A three-dimensional representation usually of a person, animal, or mythical being that is produced by sculpturing, modeling, or casting.” [1] That pretty much covers it.

         “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” [Exodus 20:4-6 NKJV]   

      The preceding is the second commandment as it appears in the list of the Ten Commandments, which is known in Hebrew as the Ten Words (Aseret HaD’vareem). This list of ten, or Decalogue, appears twice in the Old Testament, in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy. The ten comprise an initial set of compulsory imperatives directed to the nascent nation of Israel which had just been delivered from prolonged Egyptian bondage. The commandments were designed as a foundational moral code and components of a covenant. From these ten we can construe the behavior and way of life essential for right standing with God. We can also discover what is most important, i.e. our relationship with Him, since the first three commandments refer to how mankind must think of God and relate to and honor Him. The last five commandments tell us which sins and bad behavior God considers to be the most heinous and despicable, which must be eradicated at all cost in order to create an ethical and peaceful community.

THE HISTORICAL SETTING, CIRCA 1446 BC  

         The descendants of Jacob had arrived at the mountain of God in the early part of the third month after the Exodus. God had wasted no time in bringing them to an unprecedented supernatural nexus in the remote wilderness of Arabia. The great mass settled in and camped below the majestic mount, while Moses ventured up to meet with God. After getting his instructions he returned, gathered up the elders, and delivered the covenant pronouncement he had just received. The people immediately agreed to it wholeheartedly. Moses climbed the great mysterious height once again to relay the message to the Lord. He was instructed to tell the people to consecrate themselves, wash their garments, and prepare for the third day. They must all be warned to not go up the mountain or even touch its border on pain of death.

         So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder. The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. [Exodus 19:16-20]

         Take a moment and consider what you just read. Does it sound believable? Biblically literate Christians in general become notoriously complacent regarding such passages due to their familiarity with accounts such as this one, often to the point of no longer being effected by them as they should be. But rookie believers or non-Christians must see them differently. One cannot read this for the first time and not be emotionally affected. It gives us a picture of God many would rather not reflect upon.

         There was thunder, lightning flashes, a thick cloud upon the mountain top, and the incessant high decibels of a ram’s horn. All the people down below were shaking in fright. Can you imagine being in that place, having never experienced anything close to that? There was fire, ascending smoke, and the entire mountain quaked violently. Picture Moses actually having to go up there. I would think God was dead serious about the covenant He was making with Israel and expected everyone else to be as well. Whoever may happen to discount the severity of the setting and not respect the laws God was giving may likely be beyond hope.

EDITING THE SECOND COMMANDMENT

         Would you believe that a particular Christian denomination which embraces statuary decided to eliminate the mention of idols and graven images in its preferred version of the Ten Commandments? Agree or disagree, editing the Ten Commandments is a bold move. Perhaps they may wish to mull over what happened at the mountain of God and reconsider. Though they have no discernible respect for the commandment, have never repented for the obvious editing, and justify their actions persistently, God had specific spiritual reasons for the prohibition and has never rescinded it.

        There is something in that particular denomination that is vitally dependent upon graven images and idols, so much so that it was willing to actually remove one of God’s commandments in order to keep them. What is it, exactly, about these graven images and idols? What spiritual power do they have? How are they used? Why could they not do without this statuary? Why are the leaders of this religion so willing to confront God Himself and insist they will not be subjected to His commandments? The ancient Israelites did the same on countless occasions. They often refused the whole counsel of God and took to picking and choosing what laws they would comply with and which to reject.

         This exact attitude also leads to pure idolatry, in that people choose to create a deity to suit themselves.

        They create a god in their own image, according their personal wants and desires. Rather than live under the command of God and subject themselves fully to Him, and thus rightfully subject themselves to all of His laws and teachings, they instead make themselves the personal arbiters of God’s laws. It is the same with so many Christians who refuse to believe in and follow the entirety of the teachings and commandments of the Lord Jesus but instead create syncretic hybrid religions loosely based on Christianity, Christian denominations, and various offshoots.

         If one has a proper attitude before the Lord he knows he must either follow the Lord Jesus completely or not follow Him at all. Such a person knows he would be better off never following the Lord at all than submit to a false or incomplete form of Christianity. Once we choose the Lord Jesus it is never in our power to choose what He does with us or what He wants us to believe. When we choose Him we also choose His entire curriculum. When some people insist they are Christians but refuse the Lord’s full curriculum or create another, it is a clear sign of rebellion and disobedience on their part and signifies that their heart has yet to be circumcised.     

WHY IS GOD AGAINST IDOLS AND GRAVEN IMAGES?

         I don’t pretend to know the whole counsel of God on this subject, but it should not be difficult for us to figure it out. One may recall that the Israelites, after having experienced the incredible spectacle of God on the mountain and agreeing wholeheartedly to the covenant, shortly thereafter decided to make a golden calf and engage in extremely wicked acts right there in that same location. Somehow or another, that false idol had assisted them in their bad behavior. Even though they saw the effects of God’s presence on the mountain, they were more impressed by a three dimensional crafted idol which they could easily behold with their natural senses. God would prefer that we behold Him supernaturally, though we can’t see Him. He would prefer we do not make counterfeits that substitute for Him or spiritual things. Statuary may be legitimized as mere representations or art, but God has a different opinion. He says that creating idols, graven images, and statuary eventually leads to worshipping and serving them.

         “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” [Exodus 20:4-6] [2]

         He is a jealous God. He refuses to allow the imposition of any false gods or deceptive demonic entities in His place. He demands that we worship and serve Him and not be led astray into serving idols. He loves us enough to tell us the truth—that He is the only One who is both loving and compassionate, and able to save us. He shows great lovingkindness to those who love Him and keep His commandments. What happens to those who don’t? What happens to those who edit His commandments?

         Somehow or another, though the advocates of statuary vociferously deny this, there is a hidden understated worship of these abstract representations, though they may be mere statues and works of art. They portend a mental visual within the minds of their beholders which overrides reality, to the extent that reality is replaced with a faux portrayal which serves to reject reality and the desire to discover truth. The people who accept these carved images as benign eventually accept them as genuine representations, but they are not photographs. They are not even good representations, in that they do no service to the original organic flesh and blood historical figures but are mere stylized versions heavy on presence but lacking in human frailty and flaws.

         Regarding representations of otherworldly figures or those whose actual portraiture is unknown, the creation which results is based merely on the whim of the artist or whoever may be directing the artist. Whoever then may behold such statuary as genuine realistic renderings can be convinced, often easily, that whoever or whatever is supposedly represented had actually appeared as such though there is obviously no proof whatsoever. For example, whoever carves a statue of Moses is merely making up the resulting image since no one knows what Moses actually looked like. No one knows what any Biblical character looks like. But this has not stopped Christians from several denominations which reject God’s second commandment from manufacturing millions of statues, paintings, and iconography throughout most of the Church Age. And it has not stopped millions of beholders from becoming grossly spiritually confused, sidetracked, and barricaded from spiritually reality.

         Rather than attempting to experience God in some grand architectural wonder filled with statuary and beautiful art, I suggest heading out to a distant, desert wilderness all alone. If fortunate, one may meet the same Person Moses did.

         © 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. 


[1] © 1995 Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus, Tenth Edition.

[2] 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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BUSTING PETER OUT OF JAIL: THIS IS WHAT PRAYER CAN DO!

Blog Pic 2.7.19

       I originally posted the following two weeks ago on the morning of the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC. It illustrates what powerful prayer and intercession can accomplish.

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THERE COMES A TIME, WHEN YOU JUST KNOW, THE LORD HAS THIS…

       Peter sat uneasily against the grimy wall of his darkened cell, chained to two hardened Roman soldiers. He thought about what just happened to his good friend and fellow apostle James.

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         Agrippa was a bloodthirsty bastard. In his twisted mind he knew he could curry favor with the Jews by arresting followers of the man they called Yeshua of Nazareth. The Jews hated the Herods but made use of them. It was a symbiotic love-hate relationship. The Herod family—Idumean Jewish pretenders—were not unlike the inbred Roman imperial family. Their genealogical chart went off in every direction including sideways and often doubled back upon itself. The members thereof were not only plagued by abnormal DNA and sick minds but immoral behavior that would gag a maggot.

         His grandfather was Herod the Great. Through Agrippa’s close ties to Roman royalty, including a close friendship with Caligula, he eventually became king of the restored environs of his grandfather’s vast domain, including Judea. A cold and tactless political warrior, he knew early on he would have to bring the Jews and Romans into closer proximity, which he did accomplish, but only at the expense of the Jewish followers of the Lord. He figured correctly that such people were expendable and would do nothing for his kingdom, and most likely surmised them to possess an opposing kingdom. He stood strongly for Jewish orthodoxy and this put the Jewish Christians at odds with Rome and furthered the gap with the religious Jews who saw the Community of the Lord as a heretical faction.

          Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword. [Acts 12:1-2]

         This happened very fast. The Lord’s people were caught somewhat unprepared at the sudden vengeance directed toward them. James, possibly the oldest apostle, probably put himself in peril at the start by stepping out to take the brunt of the brutality against his people. He likely sacrificed himself to protect the others. It didn’t help that the unbelieving Jews hated him all the more due to his strong personality and manly stature. Some say this Son of Thunder had a fiery temper to match Peter’s. Before anyone could do much to stop Agrippa’s treachery James was quickly executed for all to see, likely going out the way of the Baptist.

          When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. Now it was during the days of Unleavened Bread. When he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out before the people. [Acts 12:3-4]  

         Peter was quickly rounded up and arrested as Agrippa was told by the Jews that he was another ringleader. Something had to be done speedily because a blood bath was in the making. The unbelieving Jews reveled in the emerging murder spree and wanted to wipe them all out. Agrippa knew he would gain ever greater favor with every believer killed. In no time at all the leadership of the early Church would be no more. What to do?

         As Peter pondered his fate He no doubt thought of his times with the Lord and his own early ministry. Had he misheard Him? Would he not actually live to a mature age as the Lord had implied? He wondered how it had so quickly come to this. He was chained to two Roman bikers and two more guarded the door. Three other sets of four replaced the previous ones every six hours. It looked like each new set was more gnarly than the others and undoubtedly threw their weight around. These were rough characters. Peter was no longer the bad dude he used to be. In his former life he could have taken any of them and made them pay dearly. James too, and probably John. The early apostles were very tough men. The Lord chose no pansies for apostle work. But Peter’s priorities had changed. Much fasting had sapped his physical strength in the intervening period of the early Community and the edge was taken off his spirit as he grew loving and kind, and in greater control of his notorious temper.  

         He was ready to go. There was nothing to be done. It may be a few days yet because Agrippa knew he’d better wait until after the eight day feast. James had likely been killed right before Passover, close to the very time his Lord had also been executed. In the interim Peter would make his peace and ready himself, but was greatly worried about his fellows. What would happen to them all?

          So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God. [Acts 12:5]  

         Of course, they were all thinking the same thing and decided that rather than accept mass death they would pray for no more death. It was a tall task, but they went for it. They would pray for Peter and for each other. They would put their faith to the test and find out if spiritual power really did work on such a scale. Outside observers would have called them utter fools for believing any such thing. The faithless knew there was no way this could ever end well.

         They decided to act anyway, against impossible odds, and before long a level of prayer had risen up majestically in Jerusalem that knocked the devil over on his ear. Mature Christians know the great power of prayer and one had also better know that the enemies of the Lord were backed up on their heels. They were feeling a great weakness coming over them and a curious fear. Agrippa himself no doubt became deeply concerned in his dark soul that something was happening he could not explain. He felt fragile and scared. Unseen demons knew the feeling. And they didn’t like it. It was enough that massive sinister spiritual forces began shifting around in an unsettled state, their former confidence and unity shattered. The great incessant prayers of the Jerusalem Community were having a profound and powerful effect.

         On the very night when Herod was about to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and guards in front of the door were watching over the prison. [Acts 12:6]      

         Peter stirred sleepily. He tried to understand what was happening. In his groggy state he thought he heard someone talking to him. The snoring unwashed soldiers beside him did not make things any easier. He had become accustomed to the jail, as least as well as one might, and had been blessed with an unearthly spiritual strength to handle the rough treatment, the dank smells, the darkness… What is more, he actually felt the prayers on his behalf. He was becalmed and strengthened by them. He should not feel this good under such circumstances. He was not only resigned to his fate but had an ongoing peace as he waited for the fast approaching time of his murder. But who was speaking? Was this a dream? There was a glowing form…  

         And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and continued to follow, and he did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened for them by itself; and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.

         When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I know for sure that the Lord has sent forth His angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.” [Acts 12:7-11][1]  

            © 2019 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 FUTURE IS NOW: FROM PREDICTED CHURCH DECLINE TO THE PREDICTED GREAT AWAKENING

 

Real Christianity

       

      I began the early research of Real Christianity, The Nature of the Church, in 1992. The Lord told me then what the future would be. That future is now coming to pass.

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       Mine was a voice that got it right. The book is a record from the past correctly foreseeing the future. Though soundly rejected at the time, including by the leadership of my own fellowship that I was dutifully supporting per the Lord’s will, the Lord revealed to me why the disintegration of traditional Christianity in America would not only continue but accelerate. If you’re into prophecy and possibly followed the major prophecy teachers of that time who never saw the Great Awakening coming, the following passage from my book may interest you. It was originally drafted almost twenty-five years ago:

         “If the ruling clergy class has been mandated by Jesus to be the movers and shakers of His teachings in this country, it has apparently messed up. Whatever guilt they do carry they steadfastly refuse to acknowledge, which makes correction impossible. This is why God is removing them—they refuse to act wholly on His behalf. And if you don’t think this is true, that they’re becoming history, check the stats. Their numbers are dwindling in this country, while the numbers of “nobodies” who simply want to do God’s will are rising dramatically. Will America be saved? No. But when certain people get out of the way and other people mature en masse, hundreds of thousands of hungry souls will find salvation, and America’s greatest great awakening will take place.” [1]

         There has been tremendous transformation, much Christian turmoil, and great spiritual warfare over the last quarter century. Many never understood the long term goal or supported it and preferred a dying status quo. This always happens in the early stages of reform and correction. Because there remain many disaffected Christians with dubious resumes and axes to grind, and by which people may judge yours truly, I am listing the following aspects of my overall profile to demonstrate a solid career church attendance and participation record, not to crow about accomplishments but to illustrate my dedication and faithfulness to the Lord. I spent many years as a dutiful church-going Christian attending untold numbers of church services and related assemblies. I bought into the program. I honored authority. I gave it my best. You might say I paid my dues. At one time or another I participated in pretty much every church-related and non-church related volunteer (non-paying) ministry task there was, including the following:

  1. Extensive street witnessing
  2. Wide-ranging personal evangelism and counseling
  3. Church follow up and visitor chauffeuring
  4. Sunday School recruiting director and bus driver
  5. Church seasonal program participant (multiple)
  6. Church seasonal program carpenter and set builder
  7. Church building remodeling
  8. Church property maintenance
  9. Usher (church and major offsite productions)
  10. Church softball coach and team builder
  11. Church services recording engineer
  12. Choir
  13. Post service prayer counselor and altar worker
  14. Pulpit preacher
  15. Group Bible Study teacher
  16. Home Group leader
  17. House church creator and director
  18. And much more

        I also engaged in extensive personal Bible study, reading, and research, becoming familiar not only with Scripture but also secular and historical knowledge relating to Scripture for use in witnessing and teaching. As I grew more knowledgeable I inevitably began discovering the differences between how churches and ministries were conducting themselves in relation to how our spiritual forebears did things in the beginning of the Lord’s Community. These differences fell into three principle categories: (1) Church Doctrine, (2) Church Format, (3) Ministerial Authority.

         Though some Christians reach the point I did, most of these apparently come to the conclusion that the departure from original norms was justified, most likely due to their investment in church culture and an unwillingness to attempt reform. I did the opposite. I believed in and fully supported the original teachings of the Lord and the apostles. And though I tried to maintain excellent relations with church authority (a notoriously challenging endeavor) and most often succeeded, I began attempting dialogue on the many new issues I discovered. Most ministers would acknowledge the differences of course, but never go beyond any elementary attempt to apply correctives. Most never did anything. Because I had to tell what I knew and teach what the Lord taught me, open ministry doors began to close. I had to find another venue. This is when I began to write. Long before I wrote my first book I wrote many notes and detailed Bible studies, and recorded extensive research. I had to get what I knew on paper. It was a lonely pursuit but was such as it had to be.

         I continually discovered that ministers in general were not interested in anything non-relatable to their personal beliefs, doctrinal statements, and church formats. Nor were they interested in greater truth or returning to our roots if it meant anything related to actual change. Most saw such reform efforts as entirely inappropriate at best and that they bordered on rebellion or heresy. Their attitude was often based on a fear of personal disruption and inevitable church problems. They insisted everyone in the congregation must buy into the program and remain in that place to assure church success, or something substantial, including their job, may suffer. I also discovered that the majority of church goers simply do not care about reform or doings things God’s way. Most Christians prefer to remain relatively spiritually unaware and allow their chosen leaders and authority figures to do their work for them. Many remain statically fixed on the teachings of mainline theologians and authors of the past or become swayed by flashy speakers and writers of the present. They end up trusting them instead of the Lord Jesus and often never progress beyond an elementary level. They are thus exceptionally easy to manipulate and make real revival impossible.

         This is in part why the Lord began telling me what would eventually happen to such churches and ministries in America. He began showing me the future. I tried my best to warn people. Few ever listened. Thus, what has happened to churches since, and it has only been a quarter century, has come to pass exactly as I was shown way back then, and even before that. The latest statistics, seemingly unbelievable as they are, are such that approximately 6,000 to 10,000 churches in America are dying each year on average. That’s about 100-150 per week.

        The above author cites no research but another quite reputable source, Church Leadership, claims that 4000 churches were dying annually in 2007. That was an average of 77 per week. If those trends held it would certainly account for 100-150 closures per week at present. Because the majority of traditional Christians in the past never progressed, noticed the trends, or heeded the warnings, but instead fought off any reform effort as if it was the enemy, most of their venues were unprepared for the vast American cultural change that began emerging about thirty years ago.

THE LAST BECOME FIRST

         They also didn’t understand that a powerful new group, very small in numbers at the time, was being formed by the Lord to usher in a new generation of reform in order to bring His full teachings to the fore. This group was composed largely of unconnected individuals who suffered various levels of persecution by their own brothers, much like the patriarch Joseph. The traditionalists also did not care that the new emerging generation of younger people wanted more than simply being told to come to church, to sit in church, to stay quiet in church, to go along with the church program with no questions asked, to participate only superficially in church, and to pay church tithes to support something they couldn’t wrap their heart around. Many of us in the prior generation did all that for many years but never received the full benefits we were striving for. We trusted in and respected an authority that ultimately proved itself to be cowardly and non-spiritually responsive. The next generation, however, had less church influence and were largely never indoctrinated to stoically accept things as they were and dutifully comply with a set-up that did little or nothing for their heart.

         This is in part why America now has an extremely large population of people with no religious affiliation. It is also why the long-standing American church tradition is fading rapidly. Traditional churches have no answer for this. Their programs no longer work. Many churches have become infested with cultural rot yet still refuse the Biblical directive. Many others have tried ever more watered-down programs but those don’t work either. Such efforts are actually going in the opposite direction.

THE RISE OF THE NEVER CHURCH CULTURE

          The young religiously unaffiliated Americans are categorized as the nones. According to the following article, Exodus: Why Americans are Leaving Religion—and Why they’re Unlikely to Come Back, in 1991, the year before the Lord called on me to begin my first book, the nones represented a mere 6% of the American population. In 1972 it represented 5%. There was a slight rise in the 1980s. Thus, in the 19 year period of 1972 to 1991, this small religiously unaffiliated subsection of the American populace ranged only from 5%-8% and stayed relatively stable. It was not until 1993 that the nones began an upward track on the graph. By 1996 their numbers had shot up to 12%, doubling its population of only five years before. This marked 1992 as the year of demarcation, the very year I began my book. This was not a coincidence. It was the year that American Christianity began changing dramatically.

         According to the quoted source, the nones increased to 14% in 1998 and remained stable until 2004. But then it promptly rocketed rapidly upward, ballooning to a whopping 25% by 2016. After only 24 years since the pivotal year of 1992, their number had astonishingly grown fourfold. This is the same time period that churches in general engaged in a rapid die off. There is presently no end in sight to this phenomenon and any applied remedy of the present is for the most part too late. This changing church landscape is an obvious fast-happening disaster for those who wrongly decided years ago to stay in spiritual Egypt or the Sinai. Currently, the religiously unaffiliated represent almost one in four Americans. The church world is now suffering major loss with no cure yet it still obstinately refuses to change and get in line with what the Lord wants to do. Because they have been rejecting the corrective for decades, they don’t have a clue how to stop the process and their destruction continues.

         Most continue to blame it on the sinful culture, a ridiculous notion that only proves their ineffectiveness, irrelevance, and spiritual laziness. They obviously don’t know what the early believers faced regarding a sinful societal culture or they simply refuse to acknowledge it. The Roman Empire world of the first century was such that most church-going Americans, if transported in time, would be shocked to their core at what they saw. It was a thoroughly lost and wicked culture reveling in gross idolatry. But the early Church thrived anyway against powerful odds. The gist is that the Lord can do anything, anywhere, and wants to. He wants people free from sin and spiritual bondage! It seems that His greatest effort, however, is simply trying to find people who will honor Him and join His cause. Most of those who refer to themselves as Christians in some form or another simply refuse to obey and follow Him. They invent their own low wattage Christian hybrids and substitute these for the real thing.

WHAT ABOUT REAL CHRISTIANITY?

        Conversely, remember that small, persecuted, obscure, and rejected group that existed a quarter century ago? Well, with this group something quite different has happened. As dead churches died off it has grown exponentially. Churches may be shutting down by 150 per week on average but real Christians have gone in the opposite direction. Real Christianity is on the rise. For those paying attention who are close to the Lord, this is obvious. Though most of these real believers are effectively invisible, their effect is not. It reminds me of unseen, unknown prayer warriors who do their work in obscurity. The non-believing American culture has certainly gone in the tank and grows more sickeningly depraved every day due to no checks on its behavior, but these people are now losing the cultural battle. They had the world by the tail until about two or three years ago but now their paradigm is suffering major cracks and is on a downward slide. They are also beginning the inevitable historical process of destroying one another.

         Thus, a new American culture is emerging, based on the old ways, the ancient paths, and the foundations fought for and won in a righteous revolutionary battle 240 years ago. Real Christians are returning to their roots, following the Lord in big numbers and are undoubtedly affecting the culture in a positive way. It is a movement based on discovering, establishing, and standing up for the truth. These people are meeting and advancing in the same style as their early forebears—behind the scenes, in small non-descript venues of any number of forms and variety, and also through the greatest invention and change agent in human history—the internet. The World Wide Web is directly comparable with the advent of the Gutenberg Printing Press of circa 1450. That remarkable invention dramatically changed the world and ushered in the modern period. It allowed for an immense increase of knowledge and communication which led to the Protestant Reformation and the Age of Enlightenment. What happened then is happening now but on a much larger scale. The world is waking up.

        I encourage all of you to stay faithful and strong. These times are largely unprecedented and we are greatly blessed to be alive and involved in whatever work the Lord has called us to do.

POSTSCRIPT  

          For those of you reading this, especially my faithful readers, please be informed that a spiritual attack against this site is apparently in process. I started this blog in May of 2011. Readership grew steadily. 2018 was a record year. January of 2019 was a record for that month. Then something happened which caused the site to become somewhat invisible as confirmed by some of you.

         In general, Christian reform efforts are always opposed by the status quo and I have been personally quite familiar with this over many years. Yet the Lord is always faithful. Real Christianity, The Nature of the Church has had a decided impact on those who heard the message and supported it but was otherwise rejected by the majority. I could tell you some seriously shocking stories of underhanded efforts by so-called Christians, but this is nothing new. It is par for the course. My first book was far ahead of its time but the message inherent within it is timeless and remains fresh, especially now. It is thus a message for today and can assist in sorting out what has happened in the transformation of American Christianity over the last quarter century. For more information you can go to my author page here. I ask only for your prayers. There is much work to be done. Thank you and be blessed.    

         © 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.      


[1] From Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church © 2001 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.]

 

THERE COMES A TIME, WHEN YOU JUST KNOW, THE LORD HAS THIS…

Blog Pic 2.7.19        

        Peter sat uneasily against the grimy wall of his darkened cell, chained to two hardened Roman soldiers. He thought about what just happened to his good friend and fellow apostle James.

 

        Agrippa was a bloodthirsty bastard. In his twisted mind he knew he could curry favor with the Jews by arresting followers of the man they called Yeshua of Nazareth. The Jews hated the Herods but made use of them. It was a symbiotic love hate relationship. The Herod family—Idumean Jewish pretenders—were not unlike the inbred Roman imperial family. Their genealogical chart went off in every direction including sideways and often doubled back upon itself. The members thereof were not only plagued by abnormal DNA and sick minds but immoral behavior that would gag a maggot.

         His grandfather was Herod the Great. Through Agrippa’s close ties to Roman royalty, including a close friendship with Caligula, he eventually became king of the restored environs of his grandfather’s vast domain, including Judea. A cold and tactless political warrior, he knew early on he would have to bring the Jews and Romans into closer proximity, which he did accomplish, but only at the expense of the Jewish followers of the Lord. He figured correctly that such people were expendable and would do nothing for his kingdom, and most likely surmised them to possess an opposing kingdom. He stood strongly for Jewish orthodoxy and this put the Jewish Christians at odds with Rome and furthered the gap with the religious Jews who saw the Community of the Lord as a heretical faction.

          Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword. [Acts 12:1-2]

         This happened very fast. The Lord’s people were caught somewhat unprepared at the sudden vengeance directed toward them. James, possibly the oldest apostle, probably put himself in peril at the start by stepping out to take the brunt of the brutality against his people. He likely sacrificed himself to protect the others. It didn’t help that the unbelieving Jews hated him all the more due to his strong personality and manly stature. Some say this Son of Thunder had a fiery temper to match Peter’s. Before anyone could do much to stop Agrippa’s treachery James was quickly executed for all to see, likely going out the way of the Baptist.

          When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. Now it was during the days of Unleavened Bread. When he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out before the people. [Acts 12:3-4]  

         Peter was quickly rounded up and arrested as Agrippa was told by the Jews that he was another ringleader. Something had to be done speedily because a blood bath was in the making. The unbelieving Jews reveled in the emerging murder spree and wanted to wipe them all out. Agrippa knew he would gain ever greater favor with every believer killed. In no time at all the leadership of the early Church would be no more. What to do?  

         As Peter pondered his fate He no doubt thought of his times with the Lord and his own early ministry. Had he misheard Him? Would he not actually live to a mature age as the Lord had implied? He wondered how it had so quickly come to this. He was chained to two Roman bikers and two more guarded the door. Three other sets of four replaced the previous ones every six hours. It looked like each new set was more gnarly than the others and undoubtedly threw their weight around. These were rough characters. Peter was no longer the bad dude he used to be. In his former life he could have taken any of them and made them pay dearly. James too, and probably John. The early apostles were very tough men. The Lord chose no pansies for apostle work. But Peter’s priorities had changed. Much fasting had sapped his physical strength in the intervening period of the early Community and the edge was taken off his spirit as he grew loving and kind, and in greater control of his notorious temper.  

         He was ready to go. There was nothing to be done. It may be a few days yet because Agrippa knew he’d better wait until after the eight day feast. James had likely been killed right before Passover, close to the very time his Lord had also been executed. In the interim Peter would make his peace and ready himself, but was greatly worried about his fellows. What would happen to them all?

          So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God. [Acts 12:5]  

         Of course, they were all thinking the same thing and decided that rather than accept mass death they would pray for no more death. It was a tall task, but they went for it. They would pray for Peter and for each other. They would put their faith to the test and find out if spiritual power really did work on such a scale. Outside observers would have called them utter fools for believing any such thing. The faithless knew there was no way this could ever end well.

         They decided to act anyway, against impossible odds, and before long a level of prayer had risen up majestically in Jerusalem that knocked the devil over on his ear. Mature Christians know the great power of prayer and one had also better know that the enemies of the Lord were backed up on their heels. They were feeling a great weakness coming over them and a curious fear. Agrippa himself no doubt became deeply concerned in his dark soul that something was happening he could not explain. He felt fragile and scared. Unseen demons knew the feeling. And they didn’t like it. It was enough that massive sinister spiritual forces began shifting around in an unsettled state, their former confidence and unity shattered. The great incessant prayers of the Jerusalem Community were having a profound and powerful effect.

         On the very night when Herod was about to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and guards in front of the door were watching over the prison. [Acts 12:6]      

         Peter stirred sleepily. He tried to understand what was happening. In his groggy state he thought he heard someone talking to him. The snoring unwashed soldiers beside him did not make things any easier. He had become accustomed to the jail, as least as well as one might, and had been blessed with an unearthly spiritual strength to handle the rough treatment, the dank smells, the darkness… What is more, he actually felt the prayers on his behalf. He was becalmed and strengthened by them. He should not feel this good under such circumstances. He was not only resigned to his fate but had an ongoing peace as he waited for the fast approaching time of his murder. But who was speaking? Was this a dream? There was a glowing form…  

         And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and continued to follow, and he did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened for them by itself; and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.

         When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I know for sure that the Lord has sent forth His angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.” [Acts 12:7-11][1]  

            © 2019 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.

AMERICA IS NOT BEING JUDGED!

       Many Christians continue to erroneously paint the entire country with a very broad brush. They could not be more wrong. Good is actually overcoming evil.

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         In my last post six days ago I revealed the truth of Selective Judgment. Regarding the bold, unapologetic political moves of the abortion industry last week, I asked the question: Is Selective Judgment Looming? The very next day judgment descended.

         A prominent state governor was exposed for being a hypocrite. Earlier last week he spoke in no uncertain terms about actually killing a baby that had just been born. On Friday, the day after my last post, a huge news story broke that served to expose the depravity of the abortion industry. Since then the mainstream media is doing all it can to reverse the process. This story, however, is not going away. It was featured prominently in the President’s State of the Union message last night. Ungodly practices are being exposed and condemned and the people who support such practices will no longer be able to hide.

          This is proof that America still has a moral conscience and that millions of Americans are good people living right and honoring the Lord. This is why Christians must stop insisting that God hates America and is bringing judgment. For example, there are Christians who actually support the idea of any number of doomsday scenarios, such as God allowing America to be struck with nuclear missiles. They talk about how depraved the country has become and that America must be severely punished. This perspective could not be more asinine and short sighted.

WHAT HAPPENED TO MY PRIOR POST?

         I’m not sure what happened to my traffic last Thursday but my post Re: Legal Baby Killing—Is Selective Judgment Looming? was effectively invisible. My post before that had received exceptional traffic. It appears as though many of you may not have known I posted anything at all last week. I wonder sometimes about the usual censorship suspects. I know the mainstream media always fights to ban Pro-Life news or anything that shines a light on the evil of abortion. Perhaps something of that sort is at play here. Whatever the case, the Lord is on the side of righteousness.

          Also, regarding The Notorious RBG, who has been missing in action for over six weeks, there was at last a claimed reported sighting the other day at a concert venue. But strangely enough, there was absolutely no evidence whatsoever. In a world of ubiquitous cell phones, this is curious. I waited until last night to see if she would show up at the State of the Union. She didn’t.

THE FUTURE OF AMERICA

         Many of us have children and grandchildren. We would like them to live in a great country. We would like them to be blessed. But the forces of anti-America have become so powerful they render such desires as evil. They hate the idea of America being great. Where the hell did these people come from? Why are they here?

         I assure you that the Lord Jesus is here to love us and save us, not condemn us. He has no plans to destroy America.

          He knows people usually end up destroying themselves without His intervention. It is His intervention that He cares about. He wants to save us, help us, and bless us. That’s what the Good News is all about. As Christians, we are supposed to be telling everyone the Good News, not that God is going to get you.

         The pastor of the previous President wanted God to damn America. That’s one of the most asinine messages to ever come forth from a pulpit. Such people are raving lunatics. The current President wants to make America great again, and for that he and his supporters are pummeled on a daily basis. By such behavior and rhetoric they are only hastening their own demise. Their treachery is being exposed. They are being outed for what they are.

          The same is true for the all the fake Christians who incorrectly see God as a destroyer of worlds. In reality, if He is forced to bring judgment, He does it selectively. One can read about this throughout the entire Old Testament. One can also see such judgment as it happened in the first century. When the forces of evil reach a place of such concentrated power that they defy the possibility of any societal corrective against their evil, and vast numbers of innocent people are being greatly harmed, something must be done to stop them. Otherwise they will eventually eliminate the righteous. Thus, the Lord fights on the side of goodness and supports those on the righteous side of battle for the sake of saving those who want to be saved and appreciate His great salvation.  

         “He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.” [John 12:45-48][1]

            © 2019 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.