Blog Archives

EVERY TIME A DOOR SLAMS A PASTOR GETS HIS WINGS

“Next…”

“Hi. I’m Mrs. Jones. I sit in the third row every service, and…”

“I know who you are Mrs. Jones.”

“Well I know that but I wanted to make this official because it is an official thing we are doing here isn’t it?”

“Okay yeah go ahead.”

“Well, I think you should preach on the things that make people feel good but not so good that they won’t get the message, okay?”

“What does that even mean?”

“It means you should preach real good but not get too off or wacky.”

“Wacky? Wacky?”

“Well, I think you know what I mean so you just do that…”

“Next.”

“Pastor, I think you should be cognizant of the fact that people work hard and are busy and need things that are strong but not so strong that it adds to our burden okay? Because life has many burdens and…”

“What do you mean ‘Preach strong?’”

“Okay, I mean strong like in doing it in a way that we get a good message but not something weak but good. You know, strong.”

“Okay, strong. I’ll try that. Next.”

“Pastor Bailey I really like that you are giving us this opportunity to tell you what to preach and, no, wait, not tell you what to preach but suggest, er, to tell you what we would like, or need, er…”

“So what is your, uh, suggestion?”

“So, my thing is I like those kind of Scriptures that are like verses of poetry, you know? I really like those especially because they look great on little wall plaques or bookmarks and I like when I can go to church and picture in my mind mountain vistas and seascapes and scenes of nature. So I think poetry verses are good.”

“Poetry verses? (Are you for real?) You mean Psalms?”

“So, I don’t know what that is but if its poetry verses then I guess yes…”

“Sigh… Next. Please.”

“Pastor, I think you do a great job but we need more teaching! I like real teaching so we can get in deep! Are you familiar with Matthew Henry? Now he could get in real deep and we could all learn…”

“You want me to read Matthew Henry Commentaries from the pulpit?”

“Well no, not especially, but like that, because we need real teaching!”

“Okay, thank you. Real teaching. Please close the door behind you. Thank you… What do we have so far Jennifer?”

“It looks like you are supposed to preach things that make people feel good but not so good that they don’t get the message. Nothing wacky. And it must be strong but not too strong because people are tired. And, oh, it must involve poetry verses and also be deep teaching. Deep. Teaching. Got that?”

“Are you sure this is in the contract?”

“Page 16, Clause 3.”

“Do I have to listen to anyone else tonight?”

“Only one more. It says you must seek five new members each week.”

“Each week!”

“Yes. I’ll get the last one… Who’s next out here?”

“Me!”

“Okay, come in…”

“Hello Pastor!”

“Hello. Well?”

“Here’s what I think. I think you should preach whatever the Lord puts on your heart.”

“Do I even know you?”

“I’m new.”

“Okay. So you’re new. Hi. I’m George Bailey, er, Pastor Bailey. Good to meet you. Your name?”

“I’m Clarence. And I know all about you! What’s important is that you obey the Lord. That’s my advice.”

“But I have to obey all those people! It’s in my contract.”

“I know, but…”

“And next week it’s five more! And then the next! I can’t do this! I must be off my nut! This can’t be happening! I wish I was never born!”

“Oh, you mustn’t say that! …Wait. …You know, I think that could work! …Okay, you were never born. You don’t exist.”

“Don’t exist! Wait a second! This all sounds familiar! Are you some kind of angel or something?”

“Why yes.”

“Great! Now you’re the new pastor too! Later! Don’t hold my calls, Jennifer…” (Slam)

© 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

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.

.

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.

.

         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.

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.

AWAY IN A MANGER: HE FIXED HIS TENT AMONG US

Blog Pic 12.24.18        

         And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. [John 1:14]

.

         In the preceding verse, the word “dwelt” comes from a Greek word which means “To fix one’s tabernacle or tent,” and “To dwell.” There is no doubt this Greek word came from a Hebrew original. God Himself fixed His tent among us.

THE TIME OF HIS VISITATION

         It was in the autumn of the year. The Feast of Sukkot or Ingathering was the last on the annual calendar. It was a weeklong event celebrating the harvest. Also called the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths, it hearkened back to that in-between time in the vast and lonely Sinai desert when Egypt was long gone and in the remote recesses of their rear view mirror. The Promised Land was up ahead in the distant future. It was an unsettled time of transition and hope.

         “You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” [Leviticus 23:42-43]

        These booths were crude, temporary dwellings. Constructed of entwined boughs and branches from desert flora and brushwood, these canopied shelters served as impermanent homes as commanded by the Lord. As in all things spiritual with fleeting types and shadows, their otherwise ostensible purpose and full meaning was known only by Him. The Hebrew word is sukkah. The first time it is used in Scripture, it refers to a corral Jacob built for his livestock, the location of which eventually became the settlement of Sukkoth east of the Jordan.

         In escaping Egypt and entering the unknown and ultra-challenging wilderness of Sinai, the sons of Israel were a nation in the making and a people on the move. Forty years of wandering were on tap in order to learn to walk by faith and know the voice of the Lord. It would be a hard lesson for the current populace of that time, being thoroughly engrained with worldly vestiges of a foreign and pagan nation. It would take long years for the Lord to extract the fetters which opposed spiritual life and add the building blocks of circumcised hearts and willing minds. In His own wisdom He chose an unruly and rebellious people with stiff necks and hard hearts to eventually show forth His glory and to bring to this world the hope of celestial communion.

         These rustic booths of branches were thus a stark opening lesson in spirituality 101—that of pure and holy humility—the door which makes all else possible. Whoever declines the offer and refuses to cross this threshold chooses instead to harbor their pride. It should thus be obvious that God chose the most humble of circumstances to enter into this world.

AWAY IN A MANGER

        While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” [Luke 2:6-12]

      Newborn babies are completely vulnerable. They are entirely dependent on their parent’s love and protection. God had carefully chosen Joseph and Mary if for no other reason than their great faith and obedience born of a humble nature to serve and please the Lord. Mary did not understand why she was chosen but she readily complied. Joseph had a tad tougher row to hoe and it took a few angelic visitations to get him on track. As long as these two remained faithful all would be well, but there was no guarantee.

         There is also no guarantee for anyone in this life outside the will of God. Without faith it is impossible to please Him. Each of us enters this world just as the Lord did but each of us is also initially unaware of God’s purpose. Discovering His purpose is the true quest of life. It is what gives our lives meaning. He’s got it all covered as long as we don’t rebel. We know by the life He lived that rebellion and disobedience were never part of His nature. Some of us learn the lesson somewhat easily by comparison to those who fight all the way. For the majority, it is far too high a price and for them, this life is the only home they will ever know. In the drive to escape all things humble they construct the most humble and temporary life of all compared to the glories of heaven.

         The tabernacles of the Lord’s people are temporary. They are necessary for now. We exist to please Him and nothing pleases Him more than to take care of us, rescue us from the ravages of sin, and bless us. This demands a process not at all unlike the process He chose to be with us. He meets us where we are.

       And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. [Luke 2:13-16]  

GETTING OUR WINGS

        I love the Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life and the overall message it conveys. It illustrates the important role of each person and signifies the far-reaching effect each of us has on the lives of others. We all know the line spoken by George Bailey’s young daughter at the very end of the movie: “Look Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.” For every person who overcomes his or her personal pride and surrenders to the Lord, the same thing happens. A miracle takes place.

        “I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” [Luke 15:10][1] 

         By humbly giving our lives to the Lord as He gave His for us, we also effectively fix our tent as He did. From such humble beginnings, He is then able to bring us out of Sinai into our personal Promised Land, a place of greatly meaningful service to Him and to others.

          I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.    

         © 2018 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.

LINK: Exactly eight years ago, in late August of 2010, the Lord spoke to me very clearly: “WE ARE IN THE EARLY STAGES OF A NATIONAL GREAT AWAKENING.”