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LIFE IS BASEBALL, Not Tennis

tonyconigliaro - Copy         “There’s a few guys whose sparkling baseball careers were curtailed early. Tony Conigliaro, a young star for the Boston Red Sox in August of 1967, took a fastball to the face and was never the same. He said he heard the ball—a hiss—but didn’t see it.”

.          .          .

         I played many seasons of men’s softball over several years. Had a lot of fun. I built teams and coached. I also ran youth baseball leagues and coached teams for a few seasons and often took my teams to batting cages. Sometimes, after being egged on, I stepped into a cage and took some hacks. The other coaches there were impressed. I was a good hitter. But I was never within a million miles of real baseball.

         I remember I once put my young son in an 80 mile-an-hour cage and he was doing well. 80 miles an hour is pretty fast for a kid. He was a good ballplayer, and tough. Then the silly machine threw one inside. My son didn’t flinch. Couldn’t get out of the way in time. Nobody expects a consistent machine to suddenly go that wild. The ball smashed off his hand and did a pretty good number on one of his fingers, drawing blood. He stood his ground. I knew it must of hurt pretty bad but he took it like a man.

         On another occasion at an indoor facility, I had my players at a batting cage taking their turns. These were thirteen and fourteen year-old kids who, in real games, were facing about 70 mile-an-hour pitches on average at best, so I probably had them in a cage at about that speed. While there, I noticed another cage set up with a much better machine. No one was using it. I asked around. There was a guy there who I think had played some minor league ball. I asked him how fast the machine was slinging it. We were about to find out. While standing outside the net to the side, close by the plate, someone put a ball in and the other guy, standing right beside me, put a gun on it. The ball was hard to see. Just a blur. Slam. It thudded loudly against the tarp backdrop. The guy squinted a little looking at the radar gun readout and said, “94.” Hmm, I thought. It looked a lot faster. “Would it be okay if I stepped in?”

         It had been a long time since I saw anything that fast. I was older and wanted to see what would happen. I got a helmet and a bat and planned to let the first pitch go by to see what it looked like. I’m standing there in the box in my stance ready for some serious heat, watching the machine, the ball, the release… Slam!

         I didn’t see it. That’s what I told someone later. Actually though, maybe I kinda did. Just barely, maybe. Maybe it was sort of a blurry elongated whooshing white bullet. Or a fuzzy aspirin tablet. Or maybe I was imagining things. It only takes four tenths of a second for a good fastball to reach the plate, but reaction time is only a little over a tenth of a second. It was more like seeing the release of the ball and then immediately hearing it slam into the tarp. I thought, as I’m standing there just getting buzzed, “There’s no way that’s only 94.” It was pretty quick. Maybe if I took a few more pitches and adjusted to the speed, and… I stepped up again, even more ready this time with a heightened sense of awareness. Machine… ball… Slam! Tarp.

         No chance. I walked out. That was that.

MAJOR LEAGUE SPEED

         At that time, an average major league fastball was probably just barely 90 miles-an-hour. By 2008 it was 91. Three years ago it was 92. That’s really fast for normal humans. Speed continues increasing. Fastball speed denotes limited effectiveness for hitters.

NolanRyan - Copy         Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan was the first guy clocked at 100 miles-an-hour forty-two years ago. Using sophisticated radar equipment set up by Rockwell International during a game, he actually hit 100.8 on that occasion but many have said he threw harder in his career, at least 103. Very few can throw that hard. He kept throwing in the high 90s even in his forties. There’s a guy playing now that can throw 105, but he’s only a reliever and he averages much less. Randy Johnson, also a first ballot Hall of Famer, could throw 100. A 6’10” southpaw, Johnson could scare the heck out of you. So could Nolan Ryan. Nolan Ryan was throwing so hard in high school he once broke a kid’s arm. There were kids who were scared to death to step up to the plate. When major leaguers, as good as they are, have the same apprehensions, it speaks loud and clear about the ramifications of blazing baseballs and what they can do to a man.

         There have always been a lot of guys who could throw really, really hard. But most were wild. One thing about the major leagues that a lot of people don’t know about is that pitchers are expected to have relatively good control. Everyone uncorks one from time to time or misses badly. But rookies who are somewhat consistently wild in a clueless sort of way, in that there does not appear to be any rhyme or reason to their wildness, make veteran ball players angry. I mean, they get pretty upset. They can tell the difference right off. Major league pitchers are expected to stay in the zone. It’s hard enough for a batter to hit 100 mph pitches as it is without having to worry about one hitting you in the head. You have to trust the pitchers to keep their pitches in a relatively tight zone around the plate if they throw that hard because there is often no way to get out of the way if a ball comes at you. Getting hit always hurts but getting hit by a pitch that fast can do serious damage.

RayChapman - Copy         Baseball careers have been ruined by hitters getting hit by pitched balls. One player back in 1920, in a game between the Yankees and Cleveland at the old Polo Grounds in New York, got hit in the head by a fastball. A shortstop for the Indians, his name was Ray Chapman. They rushed him to a hospital and did all they could but he died the next day. He is the only player in major league history to lose his life playing the game. Two years ago, Giancarlo Stanton, a star player for Miami, got hit directly in the face. He couldn’t get out of the way in time. The ball smashed flush into his face causing multiple fractures. Regarding speed, the ball was “only” 88 mph.

         There’s a few guys whose sparkling baseball careers were curtailed early. Tony Conigliaro, a young star for the Boston Red Sox in August of 1967, took a fastball to the face and was never the same. He said he heard the ball—a hiss—but didn’t see it. He was out the rest of the year and the entire 1968 season. He made it back in 1969, winning Comeback Player of the Year honors, and also had a great 1970 season when he had many career highs. He was done, though, after half a season in ’71 and a brief return attempt in 1975, his eyesight being permanently damaged.

Dickie Thon - Copy         Back in the early 1980s the Astros had a very good young player destined for stardom named Dickie Thon. Then one day he got hit in the face, the ball breaking the orbital bone of his left eye and damaging his eyesight. After a long recovery and ongoing vision problems, he played several more years but was never again the same player. He was, however, a major leaguer, and that says a lot. These baseball players have to be commended for getting back on the horse, especially after such gruesome injuries. Facing barely visible baseballs that can potentially kill you is a gutty thing, but even more so when perfect health and eyesight is long gone.

BASEBALL AND LIFE

         Like these guys, many people have been almost destroyed by life, coming about as close to total disaster as possible, but somehow saving themselves on the brink. They fight. They overcome. Many very courageous people come into this life seriously behind the eight ball and yet still manage to make life work. Life is hard enough as it is, but to have to face it with disabilities, or poverty, or some other almost impossible circumstance makes life almost not worth living. It is hard to even try. But humans have a secret weapon: We are made in God’s image. And the Lord is not a quitter. We all have the ability to win regardless of circumstances or setbacks.

         No one understands more than the Lord Jesus how hard life can be. He never did anything wrong but was attacked often. There were multiple death threats. So many people hated Him and still do. This proves another thing about humans: Humans can hate, often for no legitimate reason. Haters can destroy people. So, as I said, living life is hard enough as it is but when good people sometimes have to wade through dirty floodwaters in the process, it makes for a challenge. But it can still be accomplished. One can get up each morning and make up one’s mind to be victorious and get the job done.

         Understand, though, that I am not referring to the routine. I am not talking about excellent ball players who work less than their teammates and still do well because they are so loaded with talent and have always been supported. I’m talking about guys who have to fight with everything they have for many years when no one gives them the time of day or any chance, and they know if they stop it’s all over. There are men who played long careers in major league baseball when pretty much no one thought they were worth the effort in their youth. What they lacked in exceptional natural ability and pure talent, and often greatly lacked, they made up for with very hard work and hard training and by never giving up.

         Other players with incredible talent were initially barred from the major leagues simply because of their skin color. But because of their work ethic, perseverance, and love and respect for the game, many became solid major leaguers, some became Hall of Famers, and a few became the greatest of all time.  They HAD to believe in themselves early on because next to no one else did. It is the same with perhaps millions of Christians with no outlet or support for their callings, though churches are ubiquitous.

Willie Mays Hank Aaron Roberto Clemente - Copy

Future Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron in 1961

         Some players quit too soon. They believe the naysayers and never make it. They walk away before giving it their all. This brings me to something so many Christians just don’t get. Multiple congregations have been taught incorrectly by quack ministers that making it to heaven is a cinch. They really believe that. For them, everything is rainbows and butterflies. Christians are getting killed for their faith and they’re out there like Julie Andrews singing and traipsing their way through mountain meadows—spiritual flower children living in a daydream world. Living for the Lord is NOT easy. Heaven is NOT guaranteed. Membership in the Lord’s community is NOT a right. Salvation is NOT to be taken for granted. It never has been. It’s not supposed to be. If it is than I can assure you it isn’t, if you get my drift.

         “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” [1Peter 4:18 NKJV]

         Living for God can be done, of course, and must be done, but it can be the hardest thing one can ever do. To understand this is to consider the opposition. Why is there so much opposition? If there was no wolf hounding a believer’s every step and no devil tempting us and lying his fool head off and no hater humans trashing Christians at every opportunity and no sinful flesh always reminding us of our weakness then, yeah, maybe living for the Lord wouldn’t be so tough. But that’s not reality.

         Maybe this is why I love baseball so much. The sport is basically impossible, and it’s certainly impossible to master. If it was easy anyone could play it. Those with any sports brains at all knows there is nothing harder to do in all sports—baseball, football, wingsuit flying, noodling giant catfish, whatever—than successfully hitting baseballs. There is no greater skill required for anything else. It is in part why so many millions of good baseball players never come within a million miles of making a career in the major leagues.

         It is even hard for the very best. The masters can’t master it. Even the very best of the best can be humiliated right out there in front of everybody and often are. A player can step up to the plate one day doing nothing discernibly different and suddenly see the ridiculous-to-hit blazing aspirin tablet transformed into a big old bouncy beach ball and start smacking it all over the field like it’s the easiest thing he’s ever done. Then suddenly that same player can’t buy a hit. His ability vanishes. He becomes a total baseball moron. His teammates quit talking to him. They figure he’s jinxed enough and they don’t want to be jinxed. Coaches keep trying to help him, looking for flaws. Sometimes players figure it out and make adjustments. But a lot of the time they just suddenly start playing well again. They move out of the slump as if it never existed. Out of the blue. “I’m back…” Teammates lighten up. All is well.

         If you’re a real Christian struggling right now, this is what you HAVE to remember: It’s temporary. Unless you quit. Don’t quit. Don’t ever, ever quit. There is always hope. Things will turn around. Things will definitely get better. Though we may get hit with a hundred mile-an-hour fastball right in the noggin we can get back up and play again. Baseball careers can be ruined by injury but there is no injury or disability that can stop a real Christian from completing the course. Again, all people, Christian or not, are made in the image of God. That image is sometimes hard to see but the Lord knows how to clean us up and get us right and anoint us and help us. He wants us to know that whatever happens is not the end until it is the end, and until then all things remain possible.

IT HAPPENS TO THE BEST

TedWilliams - Copy         I want to tell just one more baseball story. Ted Williams was among the three best baseball players in the history of the game. He had a goal early in his career to become the greatest hitter who ever lived. I believe he achieved it. Umpires would sometimes call a pitch a ball only because Williams didn’t swing at it. They knew he had much better vision than they did. It is said that Ted Williams probably had the best eyes in major league baseball history. To be the greatest you have to have great eyes. You also have to be intelligent. You have to know what’s coming at you as soon as possible and make split-second adjustments.

         In the late 1950s before a spring training game, there was a minor league kid phenom in the Baltimore Orioles organization with a legendary reputation pitching to his team in batting practice. His name was Steve Dalkowski. Ted Williams was watching him from behind the batting cage. The kid was known to be incredibly fast. I mean really, really fast. But he was also wild, as most kids that fast are. It’s very difficult to control a baseball thrown that hard. In later years, many people thought this kid threw harder than anyone ever had. Cal Ripkin Sr., a well-respected longtime player and coach, caught Dalkowski in the minors and reportedly said his pitches would easily clock out at 110. This was before radar guns. Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver said the kid threw harder than Nolan Ryan or Sandy Koufax or anyone he had ever seen. Umpires said the same.

         Ted Williams was intrigued. He had heard of the guy but never saw him before. He decided to step in and face the kid. See what he had. So the greatest hitter who ever lived stepped up to the plate. Several baseball writers standing around the cage suddenly grew quiet and gathered around, knowing something really cool was about to happen. In proverbial hushed tones, hard to do at batting practice, the reporters and other players watched as Williams took a few practice swings and indicated to the kid pitcher steve-dalkowski - Copyto bring it. Dalkowski, solemn and serious in this special one-time historical moment, moved slowly through his weird windup and uncorked a laser, a sonic fastball. It came in high and tight and disappeared into the catcher’s mitt after passing inches from Ted’s face. He never flinched. Whoa. What was that? As you’re watching the long ago scene play out in your mind—the ball in the catcher’s mitt, Ted Williams standing there, frozen—we’ll take up the story from Pat Jordan in The Suitors of Spring:

         “The catcher holds the ball for a few seconds. It is just a few inches under Williams’ chin. Williams looks back at the ball, then out at Dalkowski, who is squinting at him. Then he drops the bat and steps out of the cage. The writers immediately ask Williams how fast Steve Dalkowski really is. Williams, whose eyes were said to be so sharp that he could count the stitches on a baseball as it rotated toward the plate, says that he did not see the pitch, and that Steve Dalkowski is the fastest pitcher he ever faced and probably who ever lived, and that he would be damned if he would ever face him again if he could help it.” [1]

         He made the right choice. Ted Williams, the man with the greatest baseball eyes of all, didn’t even see the ball.

         He was lucky. Whizzing baseballs close to the head happen all the time but players usually see them and can react. Dalkowski’s pitch was so fast that Ted Williams was completely defenseless. He could have easily gotten beaned and suffered a major, career-ending injury. He could even have lost his life. It is said that Dave Chapman, back in 1920, got his cleats caught in the dirt and this contributed somewhat to why he couldn’t get out of the way in time before that baseball busted his skull and did end his life. It didn’t help that the pitcher who hit him had a reputation for being a headhunter. Steve Dalkowski wasn’t a headhunter. He was just hopelessly wild. He was a good guy who was always concerned about hitting people. He was too dangerous. As a result, the man with the fastest pitch in history never made it to the majors.

         Tony Conigliaro didn’t see the ball either in the end, and thus never saw it change course toward his head. Same thing happened to Dickie Thon, except he saw it but with not enough time to react. The ball sailed in and unexpectedly kept sailing in. It happens sometimes. These baseballs did what experienced players didn’t think they would do. The pitches acted out of character according to the players’ experience. The baseballs escaped the customary zone. While cognizant of the risks and fully alert, these players really had no chance, but unlike Williams and Conigliaro, Thon, Stanton, and Chapman at least saw the ball at some point.

FROM OUT OF NOWHERE

Herb Score - Copy         The worst thing life can throw at you is what you never expect or see coming. There is absolutely no defense against it. But know this: Even though the world is somewhat random, God is not the author of chaos. Human beings can learn through proper teaching and experience what to guard against, be careful of, and when or when not to take calculated risks. There is an unknown element we must deal with, however. It is the only element that certainly is completely random. You can’t really plan for it. You can only defend against it in part, and then only generally. It can act as a 100 mile-an-hour baseball coming right at your head like a heat-seeking missile reacting to your reaction and chasing you down until it pounds you. If you can see it you have a slight chance. Otherwise, forget it.

         What is the one unknown element? The element is human choice. If human choice is in the power of evil it can get you. Knowing one’s enemy, then, is one’s only defense. Therefore, you better identify the evil as evil or you will have no chance. You will be blind to the threat. Evil works best when it disguises itself as being harmless or good. This is why two-faced people are the bane of society. They pretend to be something they are not to improperly gain something they want. In short, they cheat. They lie, they deceive, they manipulate, and they connive—with a false front and a smile. They are masters of the Judas kiss.

         Many Christians decide, therefore, as a way to protect themselves, to simply reject their spiritual responsibilities. They abscond from their duty. They refuse to go to war. They know there is an enemy and that the spiritual fight will cost them. They don’t want to be a target. So they decide to never get in the game. They would rather watch the game at a distance, safely tucked away in the stands. They decline to engage.

         What’s worse, they believe they will go to heaven anyway. This is why some baseball fans make huge emotional investments in their chosen teams. They want to be part of the game and a member of the team but the only way to achieve it is to merely identify with the players and watch from afar. The actual players are working. They’re having fun. They’re getting paid. If they win a World Series they have even more fun and get paid more. Super fans don’t get paid. They don’t even play. They only convince themselves they are part of the team though they make no contribution whatsoever except going to the game and finding their place in the crowd, or following religiously on television. Sound familiar? 

         Real believers, unlike the unreal variety, don’t do this. They obey their Lord and engage the enemy. Attending to their callings make them subject to attack. As a result, many have taken a sock to the head. Or got a broken arm (this just happened again in a major league game a few weeks ago). Tony Conigliaro suffered a broken arm from another errant pitch earlier in his career. It happens more often than you think. What else explains so many real Christians suffering so many attacks and injuries? Why do so many real Christians get killed? Why do many have their lives destroyed or almost destroyed? It is not because they deserve it. It is not necessarily because they were not prepared, though it could be they trusted the wrong people. It mainly happens because they answer the call to war.

         “But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, and you will be hated by all because of My name.” [Luke 21:16-17] [2]

THAT’S GONNA LEAVE A MARK

         If you’re gonna play baseball you’re gonna get hit. Even on defense. A ball can make a bad hop and hit you right in the mouth. I got smashed below the knee on a bullet from left field while sliding into second one time. Had that injury for a while. Blew up like a balloon. While pitching one time a guy hit a rocket line drive right back at me that was hit so hard I couldn’t dodge it and took it right in the thigh. Lucky for me. Even the umpire winced, stopped the game, and asked me if I wanted to come out. I said hell no and kept pitching. That injury to my quad was pretty bad and lasted months. I got hit in the back a few times going in to third base. One time I did it on purpose, moving over with my back to the ball (I didn’t see it but knew it was coming) so I wouldn’t get thrown out. That didn’t feel so good. But I was safe.

         I saw a runner coming into second on a double play once who didn’t get down in time and took a rifle shot from the shortstop directly to his forehead. It was pretty loud. He went down in a heap. I saw a pitcher get hit in the head on a line drive and the ball shot straight up into the air after beaning him. That was reallyAP SCHILLING BLOODY SOCK BASEBALL S FILE BBO USA MA loud. I saw a man right in front of me severely break his ankle sliding into third. Heard the crunch. Not good. Then there’s all the many destroyed knees, pulled and torn muscles, infinite hand injuries, broken fingers, and etc that players suffer every day playing the game they love. Anyone who has ever played for a while has seen these things. Injuries are simply part of the game. The only way to avoid them is to stay off the field.

         For those followers of the Lord reading this who have suffered some bad stuff due to the evil choices of others, remember first that the Lord warned us. He said it would happen. The devil and his people are wicked. There’s your explanation. The Lord suffered a little bit too. They even killed Him but He got back at them by not staying dead. So remember, with the Lord, the impossible is always possible. Putting our trust in the real Man, the best of all time, allows Him to work wonders in our lives. Whatever the challenge, whatever the struggle, whatever the impossibility, whatever you’ve been through, whatever you’re going through, whatever your goals are and the mountains you face, the Lord can open your eyes to answers. There are always incredible promised lands awaiting us all, sometimes just around the corner.

         So here’s my advice: The Lord Jesus will always do His part in your life if you let Him, and because He doesn’t want to mess up your objective by getting in the way, or treating you like a kid, or doing everything for you, or disallowing you from achieving great things according to His will on your own, or ruining the sheer fun of playing the game—

         Step up to the plate and dig in.

         Life is baseball, not tennis.

         © 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

         Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church


[1] The Suitors of Spring © 1970 by Pat Jordan

[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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DEFINING THE WORTHY: Qualifying Clergy, Church, and Ministry Donations (2)

         “How in the world did Paul learn directly from the Lord since the Lord had already died, was resurrected, and went to heaven? How was it that Paul appropriated the Lord Jesus as his new and only Rabbi?”

.     .     .

         Most official ministers are not aware of how the Lord Jesus financed His ministry, and there is a very good reason for that. Actually two reasons. The first is a basic lack of knowledge, which is completely understandable in that most members of the clergy are taught by other clergyites in official Bible schools, seminaries, and colleges. Very few of these people learn spiritual truths as did the apostles and even Paul—directly from the Lord.

         This method is actually the New Testament model. One may learn the basics as a rookie in churches and Bible Studies from any number of sermons and teachings but at some point must graduate to higher spiritual learning. The apostles were certainly well-versed in Scripture prior to joining the Lord’s school, and the apostle Paul was likely the most well-versed, but these men had no knowledge of the spiritual things the Lord Jesus must teach them. It is why they were often such hard cases and gave off the appearance of being clueless though good-hearted Forrest Gumps. If it had been any of us it would have been the same.

         That’s why the general Christian clergy attitude is so defeating and backwards regarding higher Christian education. It is far too controlling, egg-headed, and dogmatic. It leaves little room for free thought. In case you may think I’m starting to drift here, I must remind all that the apostle Paul learned the Gospel directly from the Lord out in the desert somewhere. He never went to any official New Testament school. And in case one may think he was the exception, this was actually not the case. The Lord Jesus made it clear that He must be our only teacher:

         “But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.” [Matthew 23:8]

         Regarding this fact, how in the world did Paul learn directly from the Lord since the Lord had already died, was resurrected, and went to heaven? How was it that Paul appropriated the Lord Jesus as his new and only Rabbi?

         For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.

         But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia… [Galatians 1:11-17]

         Official Bible schools, seminaries, Christian colleges, and churches are not as open and transparent as they purport to be. They are each agenda-based though this fact is often played down or concealed. Each of these institutions has their respective, unique, and exclusive teaching agenda. They each have their own distinctive curriculum and teaching format. Thus, one establishment will frequently disagree completely with another regarding doctrine, liturgy, or ecclesiastical infrastructure, which makes them contradictory!

          Because they are agenda-based and not purely New Testament-based, they will be lacking in some of the Lord’s teachings, will have introduced some of their own dogma which is not representative of the Lord’s teachings, and will thus not fulfill the Lord’s directive that He must be the only Teacher.

         Let me put it this way: Elementary school prepares us for junior high, which prepares us for high school, which prepares us for college or university if we get that far. Some go beyond this. A university degree thus prepares some students for master’s or doctoral programs. Therefore, as disciples of the Lord, it is understandable to learn the basics through lesser and general means.

         I know in my experience, after being filled with the Holy Spirit, I had an insatiable appetite for the Word of God. I was attending church services four times a week but was also doing the bulk of my reading and study on my own. It didn’t take me long to read the entire Bible. I was also engaged in much interaction with many different believers. I got familiar with different denominational beliefs. All of this served as great background and foundational learning. During that early time I also did what I could to buy books and slowly start building my library. All of this set the tone and served as vital prerequisites for greater learning directly from the Lord.

         This is where things get interesting. A disciple starts receiving revelation and learning that goes beyond the received education of most, simply because most Christians do one of the following:

  1. They do very little if any Bible reading or study on their own.
  2. They depend far too heavily on whatever preachers or teachers they submit to and rarely go beyond that agenda.
  3. They develop an attitude of suspicion and eventual criticism toward anything and anyone that is not fully ensconced within their own little Christian world.

         Regarding the latter, Christian schools of higher learning do exactly the same. Generally speaking, this does not mean that much good cannot be learned in such institutions or even in churches. The key is being led of the Lord Jesus. What is vitally necessary, then, if one is to progress as an effective and mature disciple and learn directly from the Lord, is that one must move on from basic convention at some point to arrive at that place of higher spiritual learning the Lord has for each of us.

         “I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me.” [Proverbs 8:17] [1]

         © 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

         Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church


[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.

DEFINING THE WORTHY: Qualifying Clergy, Church, and Ministry Donations (1)

         “How was it possible that the Lord could just go up to men and call them into ministry, telling them to leave their jobs and livelihoods, without somehow taking care of them and their families financially?”

.     .     .

         Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” [Matthew 8:20]

         No one is more selfless and humble than the Lord Jesus.

         I have promoted a truth on this site in several posts and comments that I have never heard preached or taught anywhere else. It has to do with the Lord and money. How did He finance His ministry?

         Most Christians never consider this question. Here’s the bigger question, however: How was it possible that the Lord could just go up to men and call them into ministry, telling them to leave their jobs and livelihoods, without somehow taking care of them and their families financially? These men were all working very hard to make a living. Their wives and children needed them. How could they just drop everything and walk off with the Lord? Who would take care of their own?

         The reason this equation is a stumper and head-scratcher for many Christians is probably because they have been taught the Lord was poor. The preceding passage of Scripture seems to denote this: He had nowhere to lay His head. But the apostles, their wives, and their children had to be provided for during the Lord’s ministry and their simultaneous spiritual education. The necessary money was certainly not coming from the synagogues or other rabbis. This leaves only one possibility: It came from the Lord. It was He who had the money. There were later donations, of course, but He didn’t go around making collections of the vast sums He would need prior to His ministry.

         When one considers all the people He had to take care of, including as well older relatives dependent on these apostle families, the number is substantial. I’ve written before that it could be like it was when Jacob and his extended family moved to Egypt at the behest of Joseph. There were seventy people (Genesis 46:27). It was roughly the same with the Lord.

         In our day, we have what is virtually the very opposite: One man becomes a preacher and puts the onus on the many to provide for him. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The standard in the recent past was that a local preacher would take a church and receive the tithe. This was his understood entitlement. If the church was small he would not receive much and would have to work like everyone else to supplement his income. Larger churches had more money. You see where this is going…

         The only answer, then, for how the Lord was able to start His ministry from scratch and immediately stock it with chosen disciples was simply that He had to pay their way. He provided for them. This meant He had to have money. Where did He get it? HE EARNED IT. He worked very hard as a carpenter and builder until He was thirty years old. He took care of His mother and siblings after Joseph died. He saved His money for His later purpose in life.

         But He was also provided for as well, long before He could provide on His own. It was a picture of divine providence in which heaven was interspersing itself into the needs of humanity according to scriptural promise, investing in the One who would later give everything He had, when the One was very young…

         After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. [Matthew 2:11] [1]

         © 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

         Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church


[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 PEOPLE vs. THE ESTABLISHMENT: Defining the 2016 Presidential Election

ARISE, SHINE        

         The world is changing before our eyes but the majority still sleeps. There comes a point when one must acknowledge that sleepers continue sleeping not because they need any more rest but because they have thrown the alarm clock out the window.

         Truth is the alarm clock. Establishment purveyors have barred it from the premises. They have chosen their respective versions of shallow, sleepy time reality for all under their care and are thus causing many to miss the boat. Noah’s Ark is floating off. You know the rest. (“Hey Noah! Wait up!”)

         Keep in mind that many who end up very hot and bothered will end up that way for the same reason so many Pharisees did.

WHITEWASHED TOMBS

         “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” [Matthew 23:28]

         What the Lord is saying here is that it was relatively simple to fool simple-minded people who are taught to strain out gnats but swallow camels. The current PROBLEM, however, is so big it has expanded way beyond the proverbial elephant in the room everyone there refuses to acknowledge.

         It is no longer a mere elephant. It is a DINOSAUR. It is the biggest and baddest dinosaur that ever existed and it exists right in front of everyone and most people cannot see it, refuse to see it, don’t want to see it, and force themselves to be blind so they will never have any chance of seeing it. It is therefore hidden in plain sight. Why are so many Christians in America so willingly blind and asleep?

THE GREAT AWAKENING

         But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” [Ephesians 5:13]

         We are in the midst of a powerful awakening in this country but as always, it is often the “Christians” who see it last. I remember many years ago when I first noticed this phenomenon. It came through music. I noticed very few if any innovative Christian musicians and writers back then. Christian music would never change until secular music changed. When secular music developed different styles the Christians would copy it. When it went off in a different direction the Christian music would go off in that same direction. These people were obviously not following the Lord but the world.

         Why were they not more innovative and creative? It was largely because they were being told by the industry what was acceptable. They had also been raised in such a way that they took their cue from church leadership instead of reaching a place of maturity to think on their own. Whether they were naturally innovative or not, they could never be innovative because they were trained to be the opposite.

         This is why the Lord was so against the Pharisees: They had made everything illegal except what they allowed, and everything they allowed was what kept them in power.

         Sound familiar?

      The coming presidential election in America is completely and absolutely unprecedented. This has never happened before in American history. So don’t be fooled. This is not about the usual.

         It is NOT about Republican/Democrat.

         It is NOT about Liberal/Conservative.

         It is NOT about the usual opposites playing against one another. This game was started by those in power long ago to keep Americans fighting among themselves and against one another instead of fighting against the evil elite in power. It is why the evil elite have been so successful in gaining power and wealth and keeping power and wealth, and why Americans in general have surrendered and gone to sleep.

         But a few refused to keep sleeping and have managed over the last few decades to begin waking others up. As a result many ARE waking up and are beginning to see the real battle and the one driving the battle against them. People are seeing that the establishment is not only corrupt but can be defeated.

         Americans are finally beginning to see the devil.

         Satan is being exposed.

THE WHITEWASH IS COMING OFF

         “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.” [Matthew 23:27]

         No, this election is not about the usual Divide and Conquer strategy. The paradigm has changed completely. This coming election is just another sign of what is really going on in America. It is a symptom of the Great Awakening. Therefore, the 2016 Presidential Election is only about one thing:

         THE PEOPLE vs. THE ESTABLISHMENT

         This exact phenomenon happened in the first century. The Lord Jesus was not pro-Pharisee. He was not pro-Sadducee. He was not pro-Herodian. He was not pro-Zealot. He was not even pro-Essene.

         HE WAS PRO-KINGDOM OF GOD! And His kingdom is all about love and freedom. It is about liberty. It is about salvation. It is about getting out of spiritual prisons. It is about human beings being released from the debilitating effects of sin and spiritual slavery. It is about having a powerful King who is also a loving Father, instead of being ruled by evil people who are sold out to the devil.

         Keep in mind that the Lord is never restricted by humans. He will even use humans that look completely unacceptable. What else is He going to do? Who wants to step up first and say, “Hey! Use me because I am most acceptable and perfect!”?

         The reality is such that such people have been claiming this for centuries, yet they are nothing but whitewashed tombs. The people the Lord actually works through know what they are, have accepted their humble status, and are humble to the core. They NEVER seek the glory due only to the Lord, but they will certainly step into the spotlight if the Lord directs them to.

         The Lord was in the spotlight. Peter was. Paul was. All the apostles were. The 120 on the Day of Pentecost were. But they were not in the spotlight because they chose it or thought they were worthy of it. They were in the spotlight because the Lord Jesus put them in it. They didn’t want it but willingly complied. This is in part what made them worthy of it.

THE LAST SHALL BE FIRST

         It is about being a Servant. The Pharisees and many Christian leaders of today are not servants at all but spotlight-seekers. It is no different in Washington D.C. There may be a few who are for real but the majority are sellouts. They have sold their souls to the devil for money and power. Americans are sick and tired of it. But they have been sick and tired of it forever.

         That’s why what is transpiring now in politics is an extension of sorts of the spiritual Great Awakening. Real Christians in America are also sick and tired of Christian Pharisees and Christian Sudducees and Christian Herodians and Christian Zealots and Christian Essenes in power running many churches and ministries. It is an obvious sign that as these Christian pretenders have gained so much power and most of the leadership positions that the country has sunk deeper into oblivion with no apparent cure.

         Now, there has always been a Christian witness. There have always been good things getting done. There have always been people being born into the kingdom and doing good work for the Lord. But if we relate our current times to those of the first century, we see many parallels. We see a nation that had become the most corrupt in its history. And we also see a movement that began toward light but in great need of a Leader right when the Leader showed up! The few people who wanted light and salvation recognized Him. A huge unprecedented spiritual movement began in that nation long ago that had NEVER happened before. A few saw it coming right before the Lord Jesus arrived and tried to step into His place but they each came to nothing.

         The movement was all about The People vs. The Establishment because almost everyone in power of any kind had become corrupted and they were spreading the corruption to all the people. The Lord Jesus was driving the movement then just as He is now. That He must use human beings is a simple necessity. The apostle Paul was being used in a very powerful way but the man kept talking about his shortcomings and fallibility. His humanness did not disallow his use. God can and will use anybody if their heart is right.

         It is time for all real Christians to wake up and get with the Lord’s program. We live in an unprecedented time. No one must be revered above the Lord Jesus or it will stop the flow of His Spirit and direction. But everyone, not just an elite few, must know they are worthy because He has made us worthy. Each of us can be used and must be used. Our forebears of long ago were used mightily and destroyed dinosaurs. So will we:

         “Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.” As He said these things, He would call out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” [Luke 8:8] [1] 

         © 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

         Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church


[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.

SEE ALSO:

THE AMERICAN POLITICAL CLIMATE IS FIXING TO BLOW SKY HIGH (3/15/16)

PROPHETIC WORDS FROM LAST NOVEMBER AND THE FIRST REPUBLICAN DEBATE (8/6/15)

SHOUT TO THE LORD

FREEDOM OF SPEECH

         If you claim to be a Christian and your voice is not being heard, the odds are good that your words have been censored. Your voice has been silenced. Your speech has been imprisoned.

         The first thing the Lord Jesus does with new disciples is free their speech. He encourages people to talk. He did this in His ministry.

         In fact, He chose the freeing of voices as the principal sign of Pentecost.

         Whenever you read a passage in the Gospels about the Lord healing a mute person, it is a sign for all—a Miracle Parable—that reveals His intention to free the voices of His people. The mute people in the Gospels were not only real people in real time, they were also parabolic types of muted people throughout time—those whose voices have been shut down—those whose speaking has been disallowed.

         Now that you know this, look at the real meaning in the following:

         They brought to Him one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty, and they implored Him to lay His hand on him.

         Jesus took him aside from the crowd, by himself, and put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva; and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him, “Ephphatha!” that is, “Be opened!” And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly.

         And He gave them orders not to tell anyone; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it. They were utterly astonished, saying, “He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” [Mark 7:32-37]

YOU ARE WORTHY

         First Amendment rights do not apply in many churches. If one’s mode of Christian congregating disallows for communication and spiritual edification through the use of EVERYONE’S voice, then that mode contains a serious flaw. It is a flaw that results in spiritual problems for the congregation as a whole, because it silences whoever has the anointing of God to speak and be heard but cannot, due only to man-made religious conventions that oppose the will of God.

         It is no secret that the majority of Christian congregation methods disallow anyone from talking except the chosen few—the very few chosen few. We all know this is true. Christians have been conditioned to keep silent in the churches.

         Yet the Lord Jesus says:

         “What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.” [Matthew 10:27]

         (Just don’t say it in church, okay?”)

         One of the reasons Christian blogs have exploded on the internet within the last five or ten years is because many if not most of these Christians had nowhere else to speak. Most were never allowed to speak in church or even in Bible studies. Our entire framework of Christian meetings and congregational gatherings has only ever allowed for the voice of the one percent, which results in religious control rather than free expression, and the consequent dumbing-down of the great majority.

         The greatest evil, however, perpetrated by those who buy into this anti-God system that silences the voices of 99% of all Christians, is making them feel completely unworthy, and thus unworthy of speaking.

SUPERFLUOUS STAGE PLAYERS

         The Lord jumped all over the Pharisees’ case and kept telling them they were nothing but a bunch of evil actors (hypocrites) pretending to be something they were not who gained and kept control over the masses of people by transforming everything into a stage play with themselves as the only participants, and certainly as the only ones with speaking parts.

         So what do many later Christians do? And what do the Christian elite of the present do? They transform everything into a stage play with themselves as the only primary participants, and certainly as the only ones with speaking parts.

         In fact, if one were to remove the stages, platforms, and dual-class seating arrangements which always separate the chosen few occupying their positions of control from everyone else, making real fellowship impossible by forcing the 99 out of 100 to focus on the backs of everyone’s head instead of their faces, there would be little “Christianity” left in America. Almost everyone has been conditioned over long decades and even centuries to adopt these strange formats which were never used as fellowship formats by the Lord Jesus or the early community of believers.

EVERYONE PARTICIPATES

         Yes, whenever the Lord spoke to large numbers of people, all were focused on Him. But whenever He taught His disciples, He sat down among them in a rough circle using an open and organic format, so they could all see one another as well. This format greatly aids in the development of koinonia in which each person is allowed to contribute and thus develop spiritually as a real disciple. Using one’s voice allows one to mature.

         Thus, what they had was dynamic. Everyone was part of the process. Everyone had a voice and was allowed to use it. Real Christianity thus exploded fast and the Gospel traveled fast and MILLIONS ended up in the kingdom of the Lord relatively fast. It happened that way because everyone was being used of God instead of the mere “chosen few” who demand control and their own authority much more than the spiritual interactivity arising from koinonia.

         Those real Christians were allowed to use everything they had for the Lord, especially their voice.

         So there’s your clue: If you are not allowed to speak in your Christian meeting, it is most likely not the Lord Jesus holding you back. He wants you involved. Your input is needed. Nothing can replace your voice.

COME ALIVE: THIS IS THE JESUS GENERATION   

         From this we know it is not the enemy from without that is holding back the Great Awakening, since the Lord has given His people power over such enemies. The real enemy is much closer to home. The real enemy is the power vested in compromised Christian leaders and all those who support them in forcing their own personal agendas in part through silencing the voices of millions of believers, and making them what is essentially a quiet collective supporting without question those in control, and rendering all potential Pentecosts absolutely impossible.

         IT IS OFTEN THE PEOPLE CONTROLLING THE STAGE, PULPITS, SPOTLIGHTS, MICROPHONES, AND TV CAMERAS WHO DISALLOW THE VOICES OF EVERYONE ELSE.

         It is obvious they consider themselves as the only ones worthy and everyone else as unworthy.

         “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” [John 7:18] [1]

         In order to be the Lord’s celebrity one must be an anti-celebrity.

         This is why the Lord often has to do something outside the scope of ultra-organized religion to get anything done. It is why John the Immerser stayed out in the wilderness. It is the only way to overcome the control of the religious leaders with only their own interests and enterprises at heart and not the Lord’s or those of the majority of the people. Whenever such controllers are in authority it inevitably shuts everyone else out, other than, of course, their hand-picked, sold-out, “safe” ones who only speak what they are allowed to speak. Indeed, that which is allowed by them to be spoken is often not of the Holy Spirit, which proves further the deadness of most church services and why the Lord Jesus is not in charge.

         Before they silenced the majority’s voice, they silenced His voice.

         So again, the Lord’s model for His lively, spiritually-healthy, vibrant, organic Community and also for Great Awakenings involves first the opening of deaf ears and the removing of tongue impediments so that every single one of His people can “begin speaking plainly” as did the mute man, and “speaking the mighty deeds of God,” as did all of those in the Upper Room.

         And since all Great Awakenings begin with Great Repentance, one of the first things everyone must do is repent for allowing their great power of speech to be silenced and not made available for the Lord’s use.

SHOUT TO THE LORD

         Real Christianity involves ALL of His children and ALL of their voices.

         As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, shouting: “BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

         Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”

         But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” [Luke 19:37-40]

         © 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

         Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church


[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.

CHANGES OF A LIFETIME

         The world is going to hell. And even though any Biblically-literate Christian knows this, based on any number of many prophecies and references in the Holy Word of God, there is still a giant disconnect in actual application to our present.

         We say it. We hear it. We read it. But it sounds so strange when somebody actually MEANS it. It sounds scary as Hades when we actually hook up the wires and smell the ozone and see the flash and it all hits us at once.

         THE LORD MEANS IT. HE IS SERIOUS. THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING.

         It is no dream, but a nightmare, one of yooge proportions.

         The world is going to hell.

         In my lifetime I have seen the greatest changes in the moral sphere that America has ever seen. I used to think about my grandfather who was in his late teens when the Wright Brothers took off and left the earth for a few seconds on a windswept beach, having put their bicycle-building and repairing expertise toward flying in the sky instead of riding streets. Their impossible act led to a jet engine a few decades later which my grandfather saw at about fifty, and then, in his mid-eighties he actually saw men go to the moon. In one lifetime my grandfather, a range-rider and cowboy, saw all of this.

         And what have I seen? I have seen a time when there used to be loving moral families with fathers and mothers and children who took care of one another and stayed together and loved first and sacrificed and had happy times though not much money because they understood love and respected it and were blessed. And now innocent little children are being taught that there is no such thing as mommies or daddies or boys or girls and there are no gender standards whatsoever and the only thing this will do is further screw everyone up to the point that confusion reaches an apex of undefinable proportions. “What am I?” “That’s for you to decide.” “But I don’t know!” “That’s your problem.”

         The world is going to hell. Because it keeps listening to so-called experts who specialize in channeling the devil and all the devil wants to do is the opposite of the Lord, and the Lord is GOOD and HOLY and PURE and GREAT and LOVING and KIND and PERFECT and all He wants for us is the best. But we live in a world going to hell…

         People of the present think things have just recently taken a turn for the worse but our own Supreme Court went totally reprobate OVER 43 YEARS AGO.

         In 1971 the blues rock band Ten Years After had a song called “I’d Love To Change the World.” I can guarantee you they weren’t conservative Republicans or church-goers. The opening lyrics to the song said it all:

.

         Everywhere is freaks and hairies

         Dykes and fairies

         Tell me where is sanity…

 .

         I’d love to change the world

         But I don’t know what to do

         So I’ll leave it up to you… [1]

 .       

         The world had certainly gone nuts by that time which means the world in our time has gone stark raving mad. And the inmates running the asylum are convinced of their own morality which is the actual opposite of real morality and with every new wave of unbelievable demonic dogma foisted upon us there is heard the distant strains of ancient words echoing forth to those who still have ears to hear:

         Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;

         Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;

         Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

         Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight!

         Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine and valiant men in mixing strong drink,

         Who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away the rights of the ones who are in the right!

         Therefore, as a tongue of fire consumes stubble and dry grass collapses into the flame, so their root will become like rot and their blossom blow away as dust;

         For they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. [Isaiah 5:20-24]

         WHY DID GOD SEND PROPHETS? What else could He do when both the civil AND religious authorities joined up with the devil? What else could He do when He could find so few to stand up for Truth and Love and the Lord’s Holy Way?

         The prophets knew their ultimate fates and their deaths proved exactly what they were speaking out about—that the authorities who used to be good a lifetime ago have now gone bad and have sold themselves out like cheap prostitutes to the highest bidder.

         The only chance left is the same chance there always was, though He used to be honored much more than today.

         My grandfather grew up with horses and buckboards and lived to see a moonshot in a single lifetime.

         I, on the other hand, have lived to see the world shot.

         But evil men and imposters will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. [2 Timothy 3:13]

         My advice is stand with the Lord Jesus. Be bold. Preach the Word. Fight the good fight of faith. Be a light in the darkness. Answer hate with love. Don’t back down.

         Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. [Ephesians 6:10] [1]

         The Lord’s kingdom is forever.

         But the world is going to hell.

         © 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

         Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church


[1] © 1971 Alvin Lee 

[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.

LIVING IN THE MIRACLE REALM: Connected to the Vine (3)

         Miraculous works were not only a sign proving the legitimacy and authority of the Lord Jesus and His ministry, they were vital to carrying it out. His overall ministry has never ceased but continued with His original disciples and continues at present. In order to achieve what the Lord has called us to achieve we must use every ministry tool and weapon that He used. We must live in the Miracle Realm.

.

WE MUST BE CONNECTED TO THE VINE AT ALL TIMES

         To achieve miraculous works, the following conditions must be applied:

         “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.

         I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

         If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.

         If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” [John 15:4-7]

         The word “abide” comes from the Greek word meno: “To stay or remain.” In order to produce spiritual fruit, it means one must maintain the vital spiritual relational connection to the Lord Jesus at all times.

         But again, most of those who call themselves Christians have never been connected to the Lord in the first place, and they remain that way because they have never had a real born again experience. Thus, they are unconnected.

         It is impossible to become a fruit-producing branch of the main Vine without a starting point.

         One must become disconnected from the fallen world of sin and one’s place in it. One must leave the old and join the new. This can only be done through a personal decision at some point in one’s life. And the only way to prove such a decision is correct is by the later production of the same spiritual fruit the Lord Jesus produced. Cultural Christians may be doing all sorts of humanitarian works on the surface and appear as real believers, but until they actually fulfill the conditions set forth by the Lord, they are incapable of spiritual works, and they will never perform the works of the Lord.

THE POWERFUL NAME OF JESUS

         Again, His teachings are very clear. They are not confusing:

         “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” [John 14:13-14]

         What I am going to say now will be strongly opposed, not by the enemy, but by the majority of Christians. The Lord said to ask anything IN HIS NAME. But the vast majority of “Christians” fail at the very beginning of their supposed conversion because they not only have never been born again as the Lord said we must be, but have never been baptized in the Lord’s Name. In fact, many have never been baptized at all.

          This is a much bigger problem than people think it is. (Please refer to my writings on baptism.) The Lord and the early believers knew that water baptism was vitally important. If one refuses water baptism in the Lord’s Name how can one be right with the Lord?

LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, SOUL, MIND, AND STRENGTH

         Regarding the lack of miracles, here’s another clue. The Lord Jesus said:

         “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”

         Most Christians refuse to keep all the Lord’s commandments. It is not possible, therefore, that they really love Him. They simply see Him as someone other than God and the fullness of their devotion is not directed toward Him. Thus, they will never perform the works of the Lord.

JESUS IS GOD

         And here is even more:

         “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” [John 14:12-18] [1]

         The Lord Jesus, THE TRUTH, is obviously also the Spirit of Truth. He just said it in the preceding passage. He is the Helper. He is the Comforter. He said He will not leave us as orphans, which clearly means, if we so chose, that He will be our parent, which means, HE IS THE FATHER. This entire passage in John 14, remember, is about identifying the Father.

         But also, as the Spirit of Truth, HE IS THE SPIRIT. He said He was presently with them, but would soon be IN them. “I will come to you.” That happened at Pentecost.

         There’s another giant clue: Most Christians refuse Pentecost.

         So there you have it. We have all the reasons we need concerning why some Christians cannot do the miraculous works the Lord Jesus did. Most Christians don’t come anywhere close to doing the same things He did, and sadly, most Christians are perfectly fine and content with this.

MIRACULOUS WORKS ARE A SIGN OF THE LORD’S PRESENCE

         You will find as you study the Gospel accounts in-depth that something very otherworldly was going on in the ministry of the Lord. Of course, most Christians know this and support it. But the otherworldly supernatural character of the Lord’s ministry continued after He ascended. It continued in the ministries of His real disciples afterwards, it continued after them, and it continues today.

         But don’t be fooled. There are obviously many charlatans and deceivers who claim miracles, signs, and wonders but the only sign many of them are concerned about is the dollar sign and the only wonder is how they continue to get away with it.

         Christians must never be content with surface-oriented Christianity or being mere cultural Christians. We must all be born again. We must all receive the spiritual power of the Lord. We must all enter the Miracle Realm and live within it, as did the Lord Jesus and all real disciples since His time.

         He is depending on us to be full-fledged mature disciples so He can work miracles through us and thereby fulfill all the abundant life promises of His Word for a fallen world.

         © 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

         Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church

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MUST READS:

         ENTERING THE MIRACLE REALM (Part 1)

         ENTERING THE MIRACLE REALM (Part 2)

         ENTERING THE MIRACLE REALM (Part 3)


[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.

LIVING IN THE MIRACLE REALM: Spiritual War (2)

         Miraculous works were not only a sign proving the legitimacy and authority of the Lord Jesus and His ministry, they were vital to carrying it out. His overall ministry has never ceased but continued with His original disciples and continues at present. In order to achieve what the Lord has called us to achieve we must use every ministry tool and weapon that He used. We must live in the Miracle Realm.

.

SPIRITUAL WAR

         We are in a war. It is the greatest war of all time. It has been going on continuously since the spiritual fall in the Garden when sin entered the world. The enemy knows all he has to do is apply enough temptation to get a person to sin and then everything spiritual in that person’s life will be cut off. Such a person will become spiritually blind and completely ineffective.

         Therefore, the first reason that most Christians cannot perform miracles as the Lord did is because they have sin in their lives. Of course, human pride is greatly offended at this and will oppose the solution all the more. Most Christians have never had a real born again experience and thus they have never truly repented, and thus, the blood of Jesus has never been applied. They remain in their sins though they may otherwise look and act like a Christian. They have never fully repented.

         Of course, such is Christianity 101. It is not that most Christians have failed the course but that they refuse to take the course.

         Many Christians go through their Christian routine knowing full well there is a weight upon them and a problem, but having no clue what it is or what to do about it, since they have rejected the otherwise obvious answer (sin), they cease trying to figure it out and simply learn to live with it. They accept a powerless Christianity and simply go through religious motions completely outside the Miracle Realm.

WHAT ABOUT REAL CHRISTIANS?

         For sincere believers—THOSE WHO ARE WILLING TO DO ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING THE LORD JESUS REQUIRES WHATEVER THE PERSONAL COST—there are also reasons why they are having a hard time manifesting the works of God.

         Again, we are in a war. Science tells us that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. It is the same in the spirit: EVERYTHING A REAL BELIEVER ATTEMPTS TO DO FOR GOD WILL BE OPPOSED—EVERYTHING.

         Therefore, if you really want to get it done you must understand that one attempt will usually fail. It is often the case that ten attempts will fail. If one is easily discouraged then forget it. It is not that the Lord is not involved, however, it is that the enemy is resisting. He is fighting you. You must overcome him. The Lord showed us how.

         Remember, Daniel prayed for three weeks without hearing anything at all. Then an angel showed up. The angel said the Lord heard Daniel’s prayer at the very beginning. But the angel, the messenger the Lord sent right away, had to engage in warfare with a powerful demon to get the answer to Daniel. That’s why it took 21 days. Daniel did his part by continuously praying and believing, and staying in faith for as long as it took for the answer to arrive.

OUR POWERFUL WEAPON OF FASTING

         The Lord Jesus was fasting all the time. He began His ministry with a 40 day fast. If one refuses to fast then forget it—one will never do the miraculous works of God.

OUR POWERFUL WEAPON OF PRAYER

         He was also praying all the time, sometimes spending hours every night in prayer, and there were times when He prayed all night long. If one refuses to pray the right way, or pray unceasingly, or pray IN FAITH, or pray as if all depended on one’s prayers, then forget it—one will never do the miraculous works of God.

OUR POWERFUL WEAPON OF GOD’S WORD

         The Lord was also always quoting the Word. THERE IS GREAT POWER AND ANOINTING IN THE WORD OF GOD! He used it as yet another weapon. If one refuses to use the real Word of God then forget it—one will never do the miraculous works of God.

         Indeed, all three of these are very powerful spiritual weapons. They each must be utilized to achieve the will of God.

         © 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

         Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church

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         MUST READS:

         ENTERING THE MIRACLE REALM (Part 1)

         ENTERING THE MIRACLE REALM (Part 2)

         ENTERING THE MIRACLE REALM (Part 3)

LIVING IN THE MIRACLE REALM: Miracles Are Real (1)

         Miraculous works were not only a sign proving the legitimacy and authority of the Lord Jesus and His ministry, they were vital to carrying it out. His overall ministry has never ceased but continued with His original disciples and continues at present. In order to achieve what the Lord has called us to achieve we must use every ministry tool and weapon that He used. We must live in the Miracle Realm.

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THE MIRACLE REALM

         All of us wonder sometimes why our prayers are not answered. We wonder why we feel so out of touch spiritually and why the Lord seems to be a million miles away. While such things happen from time to time for dedicated disciples, for most Christians, they happen all the time.

         This is one reason: The majority of Christians in the world have never entered the Miracle Realm.

         Let me explain.

         The Lord Jesus said His real disciples would do the same things He did. Before we go further, please focus on His words in the following passage:

         “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” [John 14:12] [1]

         Now, consider that. The Lord spoke these words very sincerely. He left no doubt as to their meaning. The words apply to every real believer from that time until the present. He said that every REAL believer will do the same works that He did during His ministry and would also do even greater works.

         Now consider the following phenomena:

         The Lord Jesus could actually SEE otherwise invisible demons.

         The Lord was also well-acquainted with angels, as were the members of His early Community. You remember that Peter was busted out of jail by a walking talking angel the night before he was to be executed. Joseph, the Lord’s human father, had one dream after another featuring an actual angel appearing to him in dreams and giving him specific commands.

         The Lord Jesus Himself appeared to Paul on more than one occasion.

         All of these things happened as a matter of course in early Christian history. For most Christians since and for most Christians at present these kinds of things NEVER happen. Most Christian leaders are so out of touch spiritually they have joined the devil in claiming such things no longer happen, can’t happen, and haven’t happened since the first century. And because of this, most Christians have been taught to NOT believe.

         In other words, if it doesn’t happen to me or at my church then it simply can’t be real.

         This is what I term Surface-Oriented Christianity. It’s not spiritually real. It has no power. Whatever the denomination, it is as unreal as the day is long. I am not judging the hearts of individuals, but merely agreeing with the actual teachings and ministry of the Lord Jesus and standing on His Words instead of the words of any other.

         Let me explain something even further. As a follower of the Lord, I have been around a long time. I am very familiar with Catholic churches, Protestant churches of almost every form, Non-denominational churches, and many Pentecostal and Charismatic churches. I am very familiar with mega churches and many forms of small home groups. I could go on. I have been to roughly a million Christian services and meetings and conferences of pretty much any and every form.

         But very rarely, relatively speaking, have I seen or experienced the works the Lord did during His ministry.

         BUT I HAVE SEEN THEM. THEY DO EXIST.

         It is just that, again, relatively speaking regarding all Christian experience and considering all denominations, the Lord’s miraculous works are very rare. Everyone knows this. Some Christians even think they don’t happen at all and never could.

         There are reasons for this. I can tell you exactly what those reasons are, but I also know that most Christians are simply not interested. For the few who are interested and really want to break through and be used of God in a mighty way, stayed tuned…

         In the meantime I suggest the following articles:

         ENTERING THE MIRACLE REALM (Part 1)

         ENTERING THE MIRACLE REALM (Part 2)

         ENTERING THE MIRACLE REALM (Part 3)

         © 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

         Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church


[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.

Come Out From Among Them and Be Separate (Part 2)

         The word popular is defined by Merriam-Webster as : (1) Of or relating to the general public, (2) Suited to the means of the majority, (3) Frequently encountered or widely accepted, and (4) Commonly liked or approved. [1] 

         According to this definition, the real Lord Jesus is not popular. His message is not popular. And his followers are not popular.

         As a result of His non-popularity, it can be argued that what His enemies did to Him 2000 years ago would be done to Him again in any place at any time in world history.

         Those who have given their lives to Him and are attempting with all their heart to live according to His full curriculum know this, because they are being treated by non-followers as He was treated. During His sojourn here as one of us, some loved Him, but most hated Him. That is just a fact, and it is the same regarding real Christians.

         The Lord’s real teachings appear so foreign to unreal Christians that the following such pronouncements are often downplayed or rejected out of hand as the words of a religious nut:

         “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” [Matthew 10:34-38]

         Regardless of constant pronouncements to the contrary, there is and always has been a wide gulf between the real and the unreal. The real teachings of the Lord demand totality, while the various watered-down versions of counterfeit Christianity demand the opposite, and are always on the lookout for ways to make living for God easier and more inclusive. At the heart of the false teachings are two prominent pillars of non-separation that unreal Christians refuse to eliminate:

         (1) “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” [Matthew 6:24]

         (2) He said to them, “You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.” [John 8:23-24 NAB]

         “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” [John 15:18-19]

         Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. [1John 2:15-16]

         So who is to blame for the current state of America?

         If America is a Christian nation, who elected all the presidents, senators, and members of congress over the last century and gave them charge of the country?

         If America is a Christian nation, who is the real guilty party concerning our current state of affairs, being that “Christians” have always represented the majority?

         If America is a Christian nation, why have 55 million innocent babies been butchered over the last forty years, and why does the slaughter of innocents continue?

         If America is a Christian nation, why was a central bank created one hundred years ago that rules over all our financial affairs?

         If America is a Christian nation, why are spiritual awakenings and the bringing forth of greater spiritual and Biblical truth always fought against, and primarily by other Christians?

         If America is a Christian nation, why has national judgment been steadily increasing, and why is it now increasing exponentially?

         And if America is a Christian nation, why are most of those who refer to themselves as Christians in this nation acting not like their powerful Lord and Savior, but apparently afraid to be more like Him for fear of monetary or legal retribution? Or blowback from their leaders? Or the threat of disfellowship? And instead spend their Sunday mornings acting out their Christianity exactly like the little ones in Sunday School walled off from the world in false safety? This is not the separation God is talking about. Where is the great presence, real love, and spiritual effectiveness of those who turned the entire Roman Empire upside down?

         It should be obvious by now that institutional American Christianity in general has been dehorned and feminized like the rest of the country.

         Words alone are meaningless. The effect of our words is what matters. The fruit, or evidence, of the Spirit of God in one’s life is what separates him or her from the pack. Because the Lord Jesus said only few would discover and walk out the path of life, the community of real Christians will forever be a distinct minority in the world at large, but great numbers have never mattered to God.

         In fact, the Lord has always managed to do great things with a separated but unified few. [2] 

         You are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.

         Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. [1 Peter 2:9-12] [3]

         The Great Awakening is coming forth!

         © 2013 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [Part 2 of 2]


[1] © Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition

[2] Consider the story of Gideon’s battle with the Midianites… [Judges 6-7]

[3] 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.

For a current view of Post-Christianity in America, see this latest research from The Barna Group. Copyright © Barna Group. All Rights Reserved.