Blog Archives

DEFINING NEW WINE (AND EMBRACING ADULTHOOD)

Blog Pic 101317         

      The Millennial generation has now overtaken the Baby Boomers. This development parallels the fading dominion of “old wine” Christianity.

.

         We are on the threshold of a vast new transformation. The bulk of the coming-of-age Millennial generation, those born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s to early 2000s, likely will not be engaging in anywhere close to the same degree of hands-on, practical, do-it-yourself utility and blue collar work of past generations. In general, while brilliant and exceptional in many areas of expertise, its skill set is lacking in the use of tools and, though gaining, has less aptitude for practical self-reliance.

       As a result, since Millennials number in the 80-90 million range, the home improvement industry is particularly panicked about the upcoming diminishing demand for its products. To remedy the potentially huge future problem, how-to videos and tutorials on an extremely elementary and basic level have been created, such as “How To Use A Tape Measure.”

         Sound familiar? What are the otherwise veiled common denominators of the largely unchurched Millennial generation and traditional church congregations of past and present? How are these alike? Do both share commonalities through no initial fault of their own, such as being adulthood challenged, sheltered, dependency-bred, and subjected to Groupthink? (Traditional church congregations in general are rarely taught to graduate and go on into individual ministry, for example, as commanded in the Great Commission.) These common characteristics indicate far too much “old wine” influence and a dearth of the new.

NEW WINE

        And He was also telling them a parable: “…And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’” [Luke 5:36-39]

OLD WHINE

         Christians have labored for centuries trying to figure out this passage or trying to figure out why the Lord used it in the first place, since the subject matter causes discomfort in some circles. Yet it remains a classic “eyes and ears” parable of which the true understanding is often missed. Rather than seeing the deeper meaning and making the correct application the Lord is calling for, however, the passage often evokes the prohibition response among those Christians who believe wine is not good. Instead of censoring the Lord Jesus or taking Him to task for NT wine references, of which there are many, perhaps they should try to see what He’s getting at.  

         I say this because immature and out-of-touch past generations of Christians with such an attitude have also missed the boat on other spiritual teachings. Missing the one addressed by the New Wine parable, though, is enormously problematic since it directly regards the pure practicality of reaching the lost without forcing them into largely dead impractical religion and non-spiritual constructs. For example, it didn’t help that for much of the time since it was first published in 1611, many Christians only had a King James Bible with no alternative or were not allowed one that may exist, especially, of course, in England and the English-speaking world. Because the KJV was state-sponsored, it forced millions into accepting every word and punctuation mark therein without question. Yet, on the all-important New Wine and New Wineskins passage, a deeply important parable, the KJV translators got it really wrong by referring to the wineskins as bottles.

         Right. They all had glass wine bottles in the first century. But according to some, those people apparently were not allowed to drink the wine therein anyway. What grandiose minds are these who project their convictions on all prior generations? There is a reason we have better translations today. Yet there remain millions of Christians at present who refuse to use any other Bible and even insist other versions are sinful. This is evidence of remaining endemic authoritative bias which disallows the necessary developmental steps toward gaining maturity. It creates a purposed distance from the Lord’s pure teachings by an agenda-based clergy promoting subjugation to them and their old wineskins.

         Ironically, I guess we may say, the incorrect KJV translation of the New Wine passage proves the gist of the Lord’s New Wine parable.

FERMENTATION (SPIRITUAL EYES AND EARS ALERT)

         The process of fermentation changes mere grape juice into a completely different liquid with different properties. New Wine is wine still undergoing the fermentation process.

         In Biblical times, as fermentation commenced and the juice of the grapes foamed up, somewhat dynamically, the process was allowed to take place only in open vats or containers for obvious reasons. After this initial substantial fermentation the wine was poured into small containers made of animal skins, but it was most important that the skins be new and fresh. Why? Because the wine was still undergoing fermentation and the skins must be new, strong, and flexible to allow for further expansion. It was sometimes the case that the new skins filled with New Wine appeared close to bursting.

         This is why everyone with knowledge of wine-making knew to never put New Wine into old dried-up wineskins because such containers would never be able to handle the ongoing fermentation process. If this principle was violated the old skins would crack or tear and be ruined by the New Wine, which would spill out and be lost. Incidentally, and in light of what I have been addressing in several recent posts, the fermentation process lasted about forty days. This means something. You might want to take a look at those recent posts.

PUTTING THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE

         The parable of the New Wine and New Wineskins appears only in the three synoptic gospels. It is apparent that Matthew and Mark were referencing Luke. Only Luke actually refers to it as a parable. Yet in each occurrence, the parable appears somewhat out of nowhere, especially in Luke, and there is no explanation. No one asked about the spiritual or allegorical meaning when the Lord addressed it. It is just there, and then the narrative moves on. What does it mean?

         We can find a clue simply by looking at the fermentation process. In His teachings regarding new beginnings and the necessity of both a New Covenant and new approaches to spiritual life, the Lord also referred to the absolute necessity of a new birth, meaning a spiritual birth. He is referencing by these illustrations a must-metamorphosis or a transformation from one stage to another, just as we are presently on the threshold of a vast new spiritual transformation. He also claimed that such a personal change, or birth, was both dramatic and all-encompassing.

BECOMING FULLY MATURE

(1) A butterfly lays an egg on a food plant

(2) The egg becomes a larva, or caterpillar, and the caterpillar grows rapidly

(3) When fully developed, the caterpillar enters the pupa stage and surrounds itself in a chrysalis

(4) When metamorphosis is complete, the pupal skin splits and a fully developed butterfly emerges, illustrating the final stage of maturation, and it soon takes flight

         Through the Lord’s mysterious ways, a relatively non-attractive many-legged worm thoroughly grounded and munching leaves and whatnot is inexplicably transformed into a lightweight beautiful butterfly able to escape the weighty hold of gravity. Remember, this is the same creature during all four stages. It merely exists in different forms on the way toward becoming fully mature, or complete.

DEVELOPING INTO SPIRITUAL ADULTS

“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” [Matthew 5:48]

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” [Matthew 19:21]

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed (metamorphoo) by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. [Romans 12:2]

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you… [Philippians 3:14-15]

           [The Greek word translated in the preceding as “perfect” or “complete” is teleios. It is defined as “mature, full grown, adult, or completed.”]

THE PROPER FRAME OF REFERENCE 

         Mere grape juice released through a violent crushing process somehow begins to be instantly transformed into another substance with powerful properties. What does this sound like? What does the Lord mean by New Wine and New Wineskins? Correctly defining these terms means we must first determine the proper frame of reference. The answer would seem to be otherwise obvious, since we have an Old Covenant and a New Covenant. The Old made possible the New, but the New replaced the Old. The New Wine replaces the old wine. It was a fact that due to the wine-making process of those times, the fully fermented wine lasted only so long. Old wine was wine stored for about a year or more, but it sometimes only lasted for about three years before turning into vinegar, though that could happen earlier.

FOR YOUR CHILDREN’S CHILDREN’S CHILDREN

          It follows then, that wine-making must be ongoing. There must always be a new batch of wine on the horizon. (Think Great Awakening.) The Feast of Tabernacles, which we just completed, was an annual time of harvesting the fall grapes. It was a time of great joy. All of these facts are clues.

        The Pharisees and Sadducees represented the old wine that had degenerated into sour vinegar. Those guys could not get any more sour.

         The Lord was bringing forth the New Wine with His new kingdom. The refusing-to-be-transformed religious killjoys hated both. They rejected the new birth as do most “Christians.” Little did they know that they were actually playing right into the Lord’s hands, however, in that by crushing Him they were assisting in the process of bringing forth a brand new vintage, the best New Wine of all time!

DRUNK ON THE HOLY GHOST

          When the 120 were filled with His Spirit in the Upper Room they acted very differently. Their actions were out of the ordinary. What transpired on that morning did not look at all like the standard, dour-faced, traditional, institutional, stuck-in-the-mud, ultra-religious old wine that was “good enough.” Instead, they were all filled with incredible JOY and displayed never-before-seen bright shining faces, dazzling smiles, and much laughter. They were overcome with the Lord’s overwhelming love. Highly concentrated LOVE was all around them and spilling forth everywhere. By their love everybody appearance and manner it looked to outside observers that the Upper Roomers had been swimming around in a giant vat of New Wine:

         And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.” But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them:

         “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:

         “‘AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,’ God says, ‘THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS; EVEN ON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN, I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT…’” [Acts 2:12-18] [1]

          We are on the threshold of a vast new transformation toward real spiritual adulthood.

          “New Wine must be put into fresh wineskins.”

         © 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


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

Advertisements

AMID CHRISTIAN DIVISION AND LEFT-RIGHT HATE FEUDS, REAL COMMUNICATION HONORS THE GOLDEN RULE

         Much of what passes for open dialogue remains agenda-based, market-driven, and brand-centered. It majors on division and ignorance rather than love and an honest search for truth.

.

THE NEED FOR NEW WINESKINS

         Concerned Christian people continue to discuss the fact that with each succeeding generation here in America, more members of the younger generation are opting out of church membership and decline attendance at churches. The claim is made that as many as two-thirds of young people are “walking away from the church” by the time they reach college age. I hear what should otherwise be quite learned and mature ministers speak about the American culture diverging from the traditional church to the point that a great divide has transpired and something within the American culture must change quickly in order to stop this process or all will be lost.

         I say ministers such as these have got it all backwards. They are making excuses for their own irrelevance and inability or unwillingness to reach out effectively. They continue to insist on old wineskins and the rejection of new wine. Of course, many ministers and churches have long since watered down their programs to virtual nothingness in their efforts to be seeker friendly. They offer almost zero conviction for sinners looking to be saved. Their programs are essentially spiritually worthless though they may appear to be successful outwardly. Some of these have even managed to grow into mega churches using this approach. Instead of being salt and light, they have lowered themselves to the culture, which has absolutely no salt and no light.

THE REAL AND CORRECT APPROACH

         This is the opposite approach that should be taken. The Lord Jesus never took this approach. He told the truth regardless of what it cost Him. Though He would go anywhere and talk to anyone regardless of their condition or station in life, He never lowered Himself to become like the culture but commanded that we must become like Him. That’s bold.

         It’s the picture of an otherwise impossible, incredible personal strength bringing forth reactions in others of utter shock and soul-shattering conviction while wrapped in pure humility and grace.

         This was the great love of God within a Man doing all to reach us, but with a heavenly respect we do not deserve and completely devoid of compromise. In other words, God is expressing His greatness and devotion by never changing or reducing His greatness but also relaying that He will pay any price for us even unto dying for us. Quick question: How many great and powerful people do you have in your life willing to die for you?

         The reaction to the powerful presence of the Lord Jesus by the unrepentant evil forces was, as in accordance with natural law, opposite and equal. No one continually attacks a righteous man, for example, and eventually kills him in a rage if that man represents no threat to an evil kingdom and is the epitome of Mr. Nice Guy. Though warm and accommodating, the Lord is also the epitome of salt and light—spiritual salt with its powers of preservation and accentuation, and a shining light that both reveals the path ahead and exposes all the evil minions and their disguised and disgusting operations and enterprises.

         When the Lord Jesus walked among them His commanding presence was greatly felt and duly noted. Sinners were scared. Demons were petrified. Strong men were taken aback. He was the opposite of the wimpy pastors of then and now.

         They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. [Mark 1:22]

         “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks.” [John 7:46]  

CULTURE SWING?

         Is the American culture growing farther away from God in a general sense? That argument can certainly be made although one must recognize the fact that there are millions of righteous people here existing in relative obscurity off the social media radar. They get little or no press. Their presence must be factored in instead of us going only by the great sins of the headlines and major media. Therefore, rather than the entire country about to fall off a cliff with no hope of a turnaround, what is actually happening is that there is a large contingent of unacknowledged Americans living their lives in such a way that better defines them as mountain climbers rather than cliff fallers.

         This means the entire construct of a divided America being the difference between good wholesome conservative church-goers on the right who have been correct all along and should not even think about changing, and another group of largely young leftist liberal activists intent on replacing whatever remains of American traditional righteousness and morality is not only pure nonsense and completely wrong, it is not conducive whatsoever to bringing real spiritual solutions and honest communication. In addition, if one were to total up the membership lists of these two groups one would discover that they don’t come close to comprising all of America. One would actually discover that about half the country is missing and largely unaccounted for. Where are they?

         Many are not attending church or marching in the streets. They simply don’t buy into the Divide and Conquer strategy put forth a few decades ago designed to drive major media ratings and earn corporate profits. This unrecognized population group also sees that untold billions of dollars are being wasted not only by bloated government programs but also by what may be termed ineffective traditional Christianity doing what it has always done, and it does not want to be a part of that scenario either. It may be that the bulk of these Americans are not avowed Christians but they have a level of righteousness that often exceeds that of the other two groups.

         Many social justice warriors on the left thoroughly believe they have joined a righteous cause and some of their arguments are solid. Many conservative traditional Christians on the right have also proven to have solid arguments as well. The big unknown and largely undefined group of Americans that do not fit either category also have solid reasons for living the lives they live and believing as they do. The odds are that these three groups will remain separate and continue to believe their respective ways are the best, although I must note that the third is not actually a group by definition, but simply a collection of all those who are not in the other two. The first two groups, in a general sense, wrap their entire identities within their group’s practices and mores and are most likely to be more strident and less likely to change. They are forever stridently defending their positions against one another as if doomsday will quickly descend without their contribution and that the earth will blow up or Christianity will be destroyed. Thus, both reject any attempt at dialogue toward finding common ground.

COMMUNICATING WITH LOVE AND RESPECT

         The third group? Not so much, which makes it unique in that it is often more open minded and willing to listen. It has not bought into the left-right paradigm and consequently remains free. And this is the key. Once one has jettisoned communication and refuses to promote dialogue and discussion with sincerity and humility, then one has eliminated the only means of bridging the gap. Remember, the reason someone came up with the concept of the political right and left is because the people on these sides have usually gone beyond the point of no return regarding the middle, which is supposedly inhabited by everyone else. (But I don’t mean the muddled middle, the dwelling place of apathy and a disregard for staying somewhat informed.) I am instead referring to the location which has no left, right, or middle compass bearings. This is the place where people can communicate with both sides and promote such communication. Though many reject the idea, it is actually possible to communicate with people in which one has no discernible agreement.

         For Christians, isn’t this exactly what we are supposed to do? Did not the Lord command us to go out and witness and share the Gospel? And are not the odds fairly high that we will find disagreement in the process?

         Real Christians understand that it is often the case that a person must be compelled to leave a burning, sinking ship only because he or she does not perceive that the ship is burning and sinking.

         Real Christians are sent out on rescue missions knowing full well they may be blasted by the very people they are trying to help. It is that way in sharing the Gospel with non-Christians. Sadly, it is also that way in attempting to share truth with Christians. Both have their fallout. Elements of both will reject you. But opening lines of communication with both can also be richly rewarding.

         I am glad someone was persistent with me when it came time to share the Gospel. I may never have met the Lord otherwise. And I am also glad that once I became a Christian other believers were willing to share more truth with me. Much of the latter, however, eventually did not come through personal discussion but by literature. This is why written works and books are so greatly beneficial. The authors thereof do much research, capture facts and truths of the ages, and preserve them on the written page which lives on after their passing. Books have an extremely long shelf life, pardon the pun, and exist as an excellent form of learning and communication though it is obviously not direct. Also, we live in a time when almost all preserved books and publications of the past, even the ancient past, can be accessed. This is proving excellent in the discovery of greater truth, especially when it comes to Biblical truth and the Lord’s teachings.

         Up until the last few years we were all subjected for the most part to direct censorship and a complete lack of access to other points of view and the truths inherent within such truths. Now the only thing stopping a searcher of truth is laziness, a lack of spiritual hunger, or a stubborn attitude in insisting one already knows it all and has it right. The latter attitude is what has always caused evil people to gain control and authority over others and imprison them within the confines of fake knowledge, false interpretations and narratives, and downright propaganda. Indeed, using this particular means is how the devil is often most successful. Rather than communicate such people greatly prefer to repress truth and indoctrinate.

         “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” [Matthew 7:1-2]

         There is a right way and a wrong way to communicate. It must never be for purely selfish reasons. It must be because of a desire to help others. It must be because one is compelled to share truth and answers with those who are searching for it and need it. Communication must model the Lord’s method. He obviously knew His teachings would last two thousand years and taught in such a way to reflect that, and in a manner that translates into all times and cultures. We should all know that there is no law against godly love and most people will see no need to defend against it. This is why our communication will be incredibly more effective if we show forth the love of God and make the person we are talking to the object of respect and honor rather than simply wanting to win an argument.

         The Golden Rule of Real Communication is that is must be based on the Golden Rule.

         “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” [Matthew 7:12] [1]   

         © 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


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

Leaving the Grateful Dead and Creating Great Wineskins: An Oil Field Story (2)

         And He was also telling them a parable:

         “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old.

         “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined.

         “But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.

         “And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’” [Luke 5:36-39]

.

         When the Lord Jesus prepares to bring real revival He must first create a real community.

         Since He only works with and through people, such people must be real disciples. They must be born again. They must be new. They must be filled with His Spirit. Without willing, obedient, and fully submitted participants—new wineskins—He cannot work, create, or pour out new wine. We know this from His Word.

         Creating the new necessitates leaving the old.

         And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” [Luke 9:59-60]

         Though it is obvious that the Lord Jesus is all-powerful and can do whatever He wants whenever He wants, it is also the case that He has given human beings a free will. People must choose. People must choose Him. Otherwise He cannot bring forth new life.

         Therefore, free will restricts God.

         Strangely enough, though, what most people don’t know is that free will also restricts free will.

         Let me explain.

The Lucas Gusher at Spindletop Hill, South of Beaumont, Texas. January 10, 1901SPIRITUAL DYNAMICS OF THE OIL FIELD

         I have worked many years in the oil fields of Texas. When I was a rookie learning operations and equipment I became aware that much of the stuff we were using was old and outdated. The old stuff was still in use for two reasons: It still functioned and to replace it would cost money.

         The oil field is different like that. Because of the nature of ongoing boom and bust cycles, those who make their living in the industry have long since developed a traditional corresponding attitude. Those smaller companies who are invested in old equipment that still functions continue to use it even though it is outdated and advanced technology has created upgrades. It is the effort to work on the cheap and maximize profits while the getting is good.

         During a boom when a lot of money is available, one would think the equipment would be upgraded. But I noticed that money was at such a premium even when it flowed that few wanted to use it to make upgrades as long as the old equipment still worked. People feared the inevitable bust and were afraid to spend, not sure if they would ever get their investment back. In other words—in a classic case of the counterintuitive—in times of plenty wallets often got even tighter.

         Why spend money on new stuff when the old stuff still worked? Why upgrade the method when the existing method has worked for decades? Why treat people well when you could save money by treating them like cattle? Instead of thinking about spending for the future, a much greater price is paid in great inconvenience, more effort, more repairs, and more headaches.

         Sound familiar?

        Of course, the larger companies had capital to spend. Some newer companies began with the latest technologies. Their initial investments were in the best equipment and rigs of the time if they could afford it and had relatively long-term contracts. But for smaller operators, it was always a matter of using the past in the present.

         I remember one day in my first year, when working on an old rig that had been cobbled together in the yard from parts going back decades, I asked a worker with much more experience what had occurred to me early on: “Why are we still doing things this way?” I’ll never forget his answer:

         “Because that’s the way they did it in the fifties.”

         It was then that I noticed a completely different phenomenon. Not only did the people who were invested in old, outdated equipment insist on using it until it was scrap beyond any possible repair, they also insisted on doing things “the old way.” There was great reluctance to adapt to anything new.

         From this I learned three things:

         (1) The old-timers who spent a lifetime working their way up from the bottom in much toil and misery and had gained a better position of employment with greater authority and salary only knew what they knew. They knew a lot, of course. They had a ton of experience. They knew how to run a rig. But they knew little that was new.

         They had a hard time learning and adapting to new technologies. Their entire beings, brains, and brawn was an incredible collection of everything done in the oil field from many decades past to their present.

         Though they had worked extremely hard and learned it all, they had become hardwired to history. It was all they knew.

         (2) The second thing I learned from this strange dynamic is that it was like pulling dinosaur teeth to get anyone on a rig site to clue me in on a few things so I could do my job better and easier. There were so many times early on that I had to go through my work in the dark, just barely aware of my surroundings and how everything worked. I was trained enough to do the job just barely—that’s the way training was done. A man learned the basics quickly and then broke out into the field. So I had to learn a lot on my own on rig sites.

         My employers were happy. They liked me. I was a great worker. I did my job. But they also would only invest so much. They invested in the minimum toward their employees. If you couldn’t hack it you were gone. I hacked it. I was forced by the culture to learn my job the way everyone else had always had to learn. Unless you knew somebody or were born into the oil field with a supportive family or friends, you were on your own. No one who knew anything was talking.

         Also, nobody wanted anyone else to know how little they did know. People acted like they knew more than they did. So, on top of not knowing and wanting to know, one could not reveal that they didn’t know or they would lose rig site credibility. Cred is very important in the oil field. But one had to earn it. Low level rig workers would clue me in to some stuff here and there, as long as things were worded right and all the protocol was respected. They had had the same problem and could relate. But the higher ups were generally clammed up.

         You know why? It wasn’t just to make the new guys squirm and feel like idiots, and for the joy that such actions brought them. It wasn’t just because men had to earn respect by working their butts off and figuring stuff out on their own. No one ever helped most of them when they were coming up and they were bound and determined to do likewise.

         (3) It was mainly because they didn’t want anyone taking their job. They learned as rookies that knowledge in the oil field was power, and the more one knew the better off they were regarding the constant competition from new workers. Whatever they learned they put into practice but they never shared the information.

         If you wanted to learn you would have to learn the hard way as they did. You would have to man your post the best you could though feeling like an idiot much of the time but never letting anybody know it. It’s how you climbed the ladder. You would have to be treated with supreme disrespect and indifference by condescending closed-lipped and close-minded rascals. You would have to be an idiot until you figured it out on your own.

         Once you did figure it out you gained respect. I reached a point where it suddenly all came together. All the puzzle pieces fit. I saw the big picture. I got the big idea. I went from working in the dark to walking fully into the light. I learned it all the hard way, and it was very hard. Once a man goes through that process, he can afford a little swagger. I arrived at a place where I demanded respect without saying a word and I got it.

         Whoever does not understand this is still in the dark.

         Regarding Unreal Christianity, it explains everything. It explains why Unreal Christianity is still in the Dark Ages. It explains why it rejects the New Wine of the Spirit and why it refuses the Lord’s real community.

        Rather than leave dead works and dead religion, the grateful dead thereof have invested everything they have in Old Wine, Old Wineskins, burying dead fathers, and spiritual darkness.

         “If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” [Matthew 6:23] [1]

         [To Be Continued.]

         © 2015 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.

Crushing the Head of the Serpent

         All I knew then was that I began to download stuff from God and it continued to arrive. The anointing was very strong. By that time in my spiritual walk I had already been with the Lord for several years, and in that time I had experienced and learned more than many Christians do in a lifetime.

         It was not necessarily according to what I wanted, but I learned from the very beginning that making a commitment to God will cost. It will cost a person everything.

         And I do mean everything.

         Eventually I had amassed enough writing to compose my first book. Then I did something I thought was perfectly on the up and up and the right thing to do. I put my book together in an excellent pre-published format and presented it to the eldership of the church I had been attending for the previous six years. I was full of hope.

         They shot it down. They rejected it outright. And they didn’t stop there. They picked it apart. Put me down. Said I was wrong. One brother I held in high esteem told me to burn it.

         I couldn’t believe it. I thought something really good was about to happen. Complete indifference would have been a lot better. You could say I was a tad disillusioned. That’s why, years later, when someone tells me he read my book I immediately ask, “And are we still friends?”

         But even though I never expected such a high level of battle, I would have it no other way. I never really had to utter the stupid phrase, “Bring it on!” This phrase is usually uttered by idiots who have no idea what they’re getting themselves into. All I tried to do was receive from God and get it right, and hopefully shed some light. But it seemed the battle would always find me.

         And I thought, “Why does this garbage keep happening?!” And then I thought, “Right. There’s a battle going on. Those who sign up for the real thing are immersed in unending spiritual warfare. And as a result, many good people are completely deceived and simply do not understand. And the devil and his people (especially the “Christian” ones) are complete morons, have no scruples whatsoever, and are as vile as a forty year-old fast food sludge pit.

         “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

         “You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.

         “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

         “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers.

         “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?” [Matthew 23:23-33]   

         Sometimes we make bad decisions and it costs us. Sometimes people make bad decisions against us and it costs us there as well. And sometimes we make the best decision any human being can make and it will cost us the most. It is one of the things that make living for God and answering the call somewhat agonizing.

         One wonders how one’s heart can ever be healed after being hit by an eighteen-wheeler, thrown off a cliff, fed through a wood chipper, cast in a dungeon, rejected by loved ones, and even trashed by a pastor or a good friend.

         Or nailed to a cross.

         I know all this sounds overly dramatic but those of you who have experienced what I’m referring to know. You know very well how painful it can be to make a decision for the Lord, follow Him, honor Him, and continue to be faithful to Him while also being the recipient of hatred, gossip, and forty degrees below zero cold-heartedness that you had previously thought people were not capable of rendering.

         And most of this stuff always comes from other Christians or those who refer to themselves by that title, and their modus operandi usually involves protecting their religious turf, religious ideas, religious misunderstandings, religious false doctrines, and religious MONEY that must continue to come in. The byproduct of all this is an outright religious hatred directed toward anyone who dare do anything that may be construed as questioning any minor part of their false religious kingdoms.

         “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.

         “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.

         “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well.

         “But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘THEY HATED ME WITHOUT A CAUSE.’” [John 15:18-25] [1]

         We are now living in a time when millions of real believers have thrown off a false religious yoke, have been delivered of deception, and understand fully why religious Christians do the stupid things they do. So many believers have been fooled by silly religious quacks that don’t care about them at all. And many have left their dead churches for places of life.

         The vast majority of churches in America still refuse to allow the Lord Jesus to have full control, but millions of individual Christians have allowed Him full control and are showing the fruit of His authority. And the Lord has created brand new wineskins and keeps creating new ones. And these wineskins properly contain His Holy Spirit and His work, and great things are happening!

         So remember, though the battle rages, the Lord is winning. The Great Awakening is coming forth and nothing will stop it, though religious Christians keep trying. More people are coming to the Lord right now than ever before, and this is happening because real Christians are doing something right! So whatever it is the Lord has called you to do, do it with renewed vigor, strength, commitment, joy, and faith, and don’t be deterred by detractors or circumstances, whoever or whatever they may be.

         They heeded his advice. After summoning the emissaries and flogging them, they commanded them not to speak in the name of Yeshua, and let them go. The emissaries left the Sanhedrin overjoyed at having been considered worthy of suffering disgrace on account of Him.

         AND NOT FOR A SINGLE DAY, EITHER IN THE TEMPLE COURT OR IN PRIVATE HOMES, DID THEY STOP TEACHING AND PROCLAIMING THE GOOD NEWS THAT YESHUA IS THE MESSIAH. [Acts 5:40-42 The Complete Jewish Bible]

          © 2013 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.

Keep Your Lamp Filled With Oil

           There is a constant theme in the teachings of our Lord Jesus. He is forever telling us to stay alert, stay awake, and fight against deception. He tells us to stay prayed up, fasted up, filled up, read up, and lit up. Not only must we stay in His written Word, we must always stay close to Him, the Living Word. Living for God is impossible otherwise.

         Any real believer can be deceived at any time. Our enemy is no slouch. He is a very powerful deceiver, and Christians who downplay this or do not take the Lord seriously will have no chance. The more one turns his or her Christianity into a kindergarten Sunday school class, the more likely he or she will never grow up.

         “Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps.

         Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’

         And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.” [Matthew 25:1-13]

         There are false doctrines within overall Christianity that make a mockery of such teachings. The idea that one can never be lost once being saved plays right into the devil’s hands. Why in the world is the Lord ever telling us to stay alert? Sleepy time Christianity has institutionalized spiritual laziness and the rejection of sound teaching regarding one’s fight against deception. One of the worst things a believer can do is act as if the enemy has no chance against us or that one’s sin is somehow always being removed as if by magic though there be no real repentance or aggressive attention to spiritual details.

         Most Christians trust their guy in the pulpit, and though there are many solid ministers, there are also many solid quacks and spiritual pansies who side with the devil more times than otherwise. Letting some hand-picked man or woman or whoever might come your way be the central arbiter of your spiritual life is not Biblical. Remaining a dunderhead while trusting a Christian guru without staying close to God is very foolish, but this is often the norm in Christian circles. Good shepherds are relatively rare and should be respected, but appeals to authority other than the Lord will not be allowed at the judgment: “But look at all I did, Lord! My pastor/priest/reverend told me to do it that way! All my friends said I was right!”

         When believers let their lamp go out it is because they are living today on yesterday’s oil. The Lord alluded to new wine skins being necessary on given occasions of new growth and new spiritual output. Doing things the way we did it yesterday does not necessarily work in the here and now. It never works in the future. God changes course a lot and does new and different things all the time. Without following Him and paying attention one can never keep up. It is always sad to see so many Christians living in the past and refusing to allow themselves the refreshing renewing and change for the better that comes with truly following God.

         Do the journeys of the Israelites mean anything at all? God was always doing different things. He wanted no one to come up with a formula or plan or doctrine or belief system that would somehow give all the answers and make Him predictable. As another example, when the Lord Jesus healed the blind He always did it differently.

         From these simple truths we should know we can NEVER figure out God, but the reason why is not what you may think. A real living relationship with the Lord demands an ongoing newness and freshness, and such cannot be achieved or lived out by doing the same thing we did last year or last decade. Some Christians are so stuck in the mud they are still living in the wineskin of fifty years ago. As a result, they have little life. Their oil has long since run out. Their lamps serve no purpose. They give off no light. They missed the bridegroom long ago but act as if they are still waiting for Him.

         It will be a long wait.

         That’s why the answer is the non-answer. Living for God successfully means staying close to Him so one can hear His voice and thereby obey Him and do His will, whatever it may be. Therefore the answer is remaining in a state of real repentance, living by faith, praying always, fasting enough to get the job done, giving, and studying the Word. These are not answers so much as they are the means to the answer. These things help us to keep our lamps and oil flasks filled. We were made to be filled with the Spirit of God. We must always keep our oil supply fresh and our tanks topped off.

         And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. [Acts 13:52][1] 

         © 2012 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.