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EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101 (Lesson 19)

How is it possible that this former hot-tempered don’t-mess-with-me Simon the fisherman could wax so eloquent and preach so powerfully in the face of a hostile crowd on such a momentous occasion and actually break them? This was the dynamic transformational power of the Spirit of God now dwelling within Peter in action. A short time before he was empty and emptied out. He had nothing. Then came the Upper Room experience. And then Peter became a new person and his foundational Early Church message bears that out. He continues in our next passage toward the heart of the matter. 

INTRODUCTION   

Ch 1: LESSON 1   LESSON 2   LESSON 3   LESSON 4   LESSON 5   LESSON 6   LESSON 7

Ch 2: LESSON 8  LESSON 9  LESSON 10  LESSON 11  LESSON 12  LESSON 13  LESSON 14 

Ch 2: LESSON 15 LESSON 16 LESSON 17 LESSON 18                         

LESSON 19

Acts 2:33-35

33 “Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. 34 For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, 35 UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET.”’ [1]

The Lord Jesus was the first to receive the promise of the Holy Spirit. He was destined to be first in all things, but before then He would be essentially last. He started at the very bottom like most of us. He entered the world in humility. He subjected Himself to lies and gross mischaracterizations throughout His life and ministry. When He needed help from friends and family such help was often not there. This even happened among His own disciples and even His chosen twelve. One betrayed Him. The rest ran off in fear, abandoning Him. He was left completely alone and vulnerable to suffer disgusting attacks from evil disgusting people who possessed absolutely no inkling of spiritual awareness or the fact that they were serving the devil. With no protection He was led into a den of pompous religious bastards bound for hell intent on trashing His holy Name and inflicting as much pain and suffering as possible.

This is how low the Lord had to go—last in all things—the last Man on the planet—treated worse than anyone ever had been or ever would be—for us. And they were just getting started. Their long awaited Messiah had arrived. The great King rejected by their forefathers. The One the nation rebelled against from the start and continually snubbed and rebuffed. They were made a nation by Him, this One standing before them, and delivered by Him—repeatedly. He went through centuries of profane treatment instigated by a profane stiff-necked people devoid of gratitude and unworthy of His love. It was the door He had to go through. Things would get really bad before they got better, the latter of which was His main motivation:

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. [Hebrews 12:2-3]   

HE MADE HIS ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET [PSALM 110]

The Creator came to His people and they nailed Him to an execution stake. They chose wrong. Because of their raging anger and hate what was left of their nation, held together by the Romans, crashed and burned and was destroyed forever, including their great city and indispensable temple. And the vast majority of those offenders responsible for the Great Revolt and destruction likely went straight to hell.

He who became last, however, CAME BACK TO LIFE. Death could not hold Him. Whatever evil they did to finish Him off had the opposite effect. He became the prophesied First Fruits on the morning of Nisan 17, the very day of First Fruits. He then traveled exponentially up the right side of the graph blasting far into the highest heaven and took His rightful place at the Right Hand of God with all authority in heaven and earth: 

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. [Colossians 1:15-18]  

THE OUTPOURING OF THE SPIRIT

It was the Lord Jesus who “poured forth this which you both see and hear.” John the Immerser said it was the Lord Jesus who would baptize in the Spirit. If you’re still tangled in the trinity consider this:

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” [John 14:26]

“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me.” [John 15:26]

Is this just a syntactical mix-up in Scripture? On the one hand the Lord Jesus clearly states that the Father will send the Spirit. Exactly one chapter later to the very verse the Lord Jesus says He will send the Spirit. He also says the Spirit proceeds from the Father. If the Lord Jesus sends the Spirit which proceeds from the Father, is it not then obvious who the Father is?

Also, in these two verses He identifies the Spirit as “the Helper,” “the Holy Spirit,” and “the Spirit of Truth.” Then to reveal His identity even more, in John 14:18 He identifies Himself as the Spirit:

“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 14:16-18] 

OPENING THE DOOR FOR THE DOOR WHO STANDS AT THE DOOR

“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” [John 10:9] [2]

It is incumbent for every Christian to seek out and receive this infilling of the Holy Spirit. Christians can either go forth in the anointing of His Spirit or attempt to make it without Him. The latter doesn’t work according to His original plan. Far too many Christians insist on serving God according to their own limited strength and ability and the world suffers for it. America is falling fast because of it. Great Christian counterfeits, through their money-grubbing, power-grabbing deceptive agendas, have been created in this regard which have captured the vast market share to the immense detriment of real believers. These shysters treat the Lord the same way those other guys treated Him, in that they reject the spiritual reality first experienced by the originals—those who had no care or concern for what the world thought of them but plowed ahead toward becoming the best disciples they could be, intent on having and exercising the same freely-bestowed power He possessed.

No matter how much they try, the pretenders will never create a socially-acceptable okay-with-sinners Lord Jesus, or put Him in a box, or project forth a “clean on the outside” hypocritical we-aren’t-weirdos persona without also eliminating the Power of His Presence.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock…”

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Please note that the use of all caps in the NASB denotes Old Testament passages occurring in the New Testament.

[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.

EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101 (Lesson 18)

The apostle Peter is keeping his audience enthralled by quoting yet another OT personality, King David, with a compelling prophetic illustration of a thousand years past.

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INTRODUCTION   

Ch 1: LESSON 1   LESSON 2   LESSON 3   LESSON 4   LESSON 5   LESSON 6   LESSON 7

Ch 2: LESSON 8  LESSON 9  LESSON 10  LESSON 11  LESSON 12  LESSON 13  LESSON 14 

Ch 2: LESSON 15  LESSON 16  LESSON 17

LESSON 18

Acts 2:25-32

25 “For David says of Him, ‘I SAW THE LORD ALWAYS IN MY PRESENCE; FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, SO THAT I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN. 26 THEREFORE MY HEART WAS GLAD AND MY TONGUE EXULTED; MOREOVER MY FLESH ALSO WILL LIVE IN HOPE; 27 BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES, NOR ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY. 28 YOU HAVE MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE; YOU WILL MAKE ME FULL OF GLADNESS WITH YOUR PRESENCE.’” [1]

David lived from 1040 to 970 BC. There had never been any actual proof of his existence and many high hats deemed him a mere literary construct. This changed dramatically in 1993 with the discovery in northern Israel of the Tel Dan Inscription. We now have archaeological proof of the Lord’s noted ancestor.

Tel Dan Inscription

Photo: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem/Israel Antiquities Authority (photograph by Meidad Suchowolski).

Though we know he was not a perfect man and was sometimes guilty of egregious sin, he was also well acquainted with godly sorrow and extreme repentance. As “a man after His own heart,” whom “the Lord has sought out for Himself” (1Samuel 13:14), David was chosen not by man, as was Saul, Israel’s first king, but by God Himself.

In the above passage (the all caps denote OT in the NT), Peter sets the stage by quoting Psalm 16:8-11, written by David. The Psalm itself gives greater clarity than the Acts reading in that the author claims “I have set the LORD continually before me” (Psalm 16:8). David chose to be close to God and for that he was confident of his life and eternal future. He then draws deep and prophesies the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: “Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay” (Psalm 16:10).

THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES

Closer proximity to the Lord means a greater understanding of His heart. David saw and heard things in the Spirit that few did. His understanding of the Messiah went far beyond the limited perception of David’s times. This lack was arguably worse in the Lord’s time and the decades preceding His arrival. Though the last Hebrew prophet—Malachi—left the scene in the early 400s BC and there was thus no prophetic word by which to gauge the times preceding the Lord, a few had nonetheless received an inkling of what was up, as seeing “through a glass, darkly” (1Corinthians 13:12).

How was this knowledge gained? It certainly wasn’t through mental perception but by an exhaustive study of the Scriptures, and primarily of course, the prophetic content. There was much to choose from.

The Essenes, out by the Dead Sea, proponents of the Zadok priesthood, had initially separated themselves unto the desert in roughly 200 BC after discovering proofs that the existing temple priests were illegitimate. We have their collected works, the illustrious Dead Sea Scrolls, the first few of which were discovered in the late 1940s, that testify of the Messianic track they were on. The members of this Hebrew sect, and undoubtedly other obscure and unknown individuals, understood the times far better than the major denominations—the Pharisees and Sadducees. The “unlearned and ignorant” Galileans were on the cutting edge in this regard.

THE SON OF DAVID

29 “Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 And so, because he was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE, 31 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY. 32 This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.” 

In continuing to drive home his point, Peter, like David, exceeds the common perception of the Messiah. He is attempting here to shed full light to whoever can hear it that the King of kings is far more than a mere military leader or future national figurehead. He quotes Psalm 132:11:

The LORD has sworn to David a truth from which He will not turn back: “Of the fruit of your body I will set upon your throne.”[2]

Many Bible expositors miss his point entirely as did the Jewish religious leaders of that time. Any mention of David’s son sitting on his thrown is often attributed to Solomon. But this man never fulfilled the many requirements of the position. The prophets referred to an everlasting kingdom led by a King who would rise from the dead.

Why did the learned men of the times not discern this otherwise clear prophetic content? How did they miss it? Why could they not see that the Messiah is God?

—They never witnessed nor believed in the Lord’s resurrection.

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Please note that the use of all caps in the NASB denotes Old Testament passages occurring in the New Testament.

[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.

EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101 (Lesson 17)

He did the impossible. He defeated death on our behalf. Peter continues his Pentecost message by telling the throng that “Death Could Not Hold Him.” Neither will it hold His real followers.

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INTRODUCTION   

Ch 1: LESSON 1   LESSON 2   LESSON 3   LESSON 4   LESSON 5   LESSON 6   LESSON 7

Ch 2: LESSON 8  LESSON 9  LESSON 10  LESSON 11  LESSON 12  LESSON 13  LESSON 14 

Ch 2: LESSON 15 LESSON 16

LESSON 17:

Acts 2:22-24

22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— 23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24 But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.”

Imagine that. He defeated death. One of the first sermons I ever remember hearing from my first pastor was entitled something along the lines of “Death Could Not Hold Him.” This man was a great preacher. He could paint a word story that kept us enthralled, filled with emoting and tone changes, teaching all the while. He made a man feel like he was there.

So one thinks about this tricky human condition called death. We seem somewhat invincible in our youth—working all day at hard physical toil, staying up late at night, always having so much energy, a few hours of sleep and we’re back at it. But then slowly but surely a few things start going south. The only thing to do is continue staying a step ahead of the grim reaper. We go from laughing in his face to eventually facing the fact that he will win. Facing this reality can be a killer.

SAVED

But thanks to the Lord He saw a young man with a hungry heart longing for truth and presented an opportunity I did not mess up. Dodging a million bullets since—those unseen slugs that often otherwise find their mark— the Lord blessed with a never-say-die desire to keep moving forward. This comes only by His Holy Spirit. If you live for God you will get knocked down. You can either stay there or get back up. And this is not because death does not await, but because death will not win after all. Because my Father GOT BACK UP, I will too, and so will you if you put your trust in Him. In the meantime the victory comes by laughing death in the face anyway and trying to live absolutely as long as possible working and living for the Lord the whole way. My advice is quit thinking in terms of years remaining and start thinking in terms of decades remaining. More decades means having that many more opportunities to serve the Lord who saved us from death because He died in our place.

There was an old church song we sang in my rookie year that sums up what our attitude should be in this regard. It had a big impact on me because it wasn’t just a song but my life. It was called The Old Account. It featured these lyrics:

There was a time on earth when in the book of Heav’n

An old account was standing for sins yet unforgiv’n;

My name was at the top, and many things below—

I went unto the Keeper, and settled long ago.

Long ago, long ago,

Yes, the old account was settled long ago;

And the record’s clear today, for He washed my sins away,

When the old account was settled long ago.

The old account was large, and growing every day,

For I was always sinning, and never tried to pay;

But when I looked ahead, and saw such pain and woe,

I said that I would settle—I settled long ago.

Until one becomes a real Christian one will never know just exactly what the Lord did by becoming one of us. He actually risked everything. Now, stay with me here because this might get a tad deep. God wanted to ransom humanity. But it obviously could not involve coercion. Each person must decide on his own. But no one could ever defeat death because no one could live without sin. Once Adam released sin into the world all humans have become smitten with it, or might I say slapped upside the head. Someone would have to enter humanity and live a full life without ever committing even a single sin. Someone must be able to actually keep the Law of Moses without violation. You see where this is going.

And no, God didn’t spy His good young Son and tap him on the shoulder and tell Him to go. No father would ever do that to his son. A real father would always go in place of his son. The reality is that the Son did not exist until the Incarnation. There was no such “Eternal Son” in heaven. The only God there was God. And He would have to go Himself. But when He arrived on earth He would have to live a perfect life, something otherwise impossible for us mere mortals. Yet, if He had only sinned once, and it was certainly possible, the entire plan would have been wrecked. There would be no spotless Lamb of God to sacrifice. There would be no Blood of the Lamb to cleanse us of our sins. All humanity would be lost including the Lord Himself. And death would win. And the devil would win the universe.

The Good News is that the Lord did not sin. Not once. And because of that He confidently looked death square in the face with no fear. He would certainly die but would not stay dead. Why? Because “Death Could Not Hold Him.” 

For many Christians, a probable majority, there is little or no self-identification with the Lord’s great sacrifice. His sacrifice may be acknowledged but that’s no good. It must be applied. And that can only happen if a person surrenders to Him completely, holding nothing back, and burning all bridges in the process. We must throw ourselves upon the altar of burnt offering and die in order to receive His help and be reborn. There is no other way. Halfway Christianity takes people all the way to hell.

MISSION POSSIBLE

“Your mission Jim, should you choose to accept it, is to get the big idea that God became a Man, lived a life of absolutely no sin, followed the path and plan perfectly, and then sacrificed it all for you. He knew He would be getting back up, but what He really wants is to see you get back up.”   

I will leave you with one of my favorite sayings of the Lord Jesus that perfectly typifies His powerful no fear approach to His coming death. He always knew what would happen. It was why He came. That didn’t make it any easier but that much more difficult. How many of us guys, if we knew the death we were about to die, would stick with the plan? But not only did He stick with the plan, He slammed death, hell, and the grave as wimps! He called them out for the lowdown disgusting sorry idiots they are and was even willing to let them hit Him first with their best shot. And boy howdy, did they ever comply. Even then, though, it was not enough. They knew the stakes. They had their opportunity. And they failed. They failed because He was too much Man for them. They simply did not understand who they were messing with.

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up!” [John 2:19] [1]

© 2020 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.

ALL HOPE HAD VANISHED: THEN THE LORD SPOKE LIFE TO DEATH

     

     He had just been at Capernaum. A Roman centurion’s slave was on death’s door. Due to the centurion’s great faith, the Lord Jesus was able to heal the sick man without ever even seeing him.

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         He traveled with His disciples south from the northern environs of the Sea of Galilee through small towns and fishing villages along the west shore and then out across the plane to the southwest. Passing by the 1,886 foot rounded peak of Mount Tabor jutting up obtrusively on the right about six miles east of Nazareth, they continued on past Endor to the south. Arriving at the outskirts of the ancient town of Nain they were soon accompanied by a large party of locals no doubt enthralled by the many wonders and miraculous happenings associated with the Lord.

       However, rather than any expectancy regarding the immediate event in process before them upon entering the town, all parties adopted a hush of respect for the great mourning suddenly in their midst. A lonely, bereft widow had just lost her only son. Just inside the gate of the village, amid the weeping and wailing of mourners, the Lord’s disciples turned attentive caring eyes toward the procession playing out before them—a dead man was being carried on a crude bier in the opposite direction on the way to the hillside tombs within eyeshot close by. Amid the ordered tumult, the Lord’s gaze fell upon the dark-clad grieving woman whose life’s misery was now compounded beyond bearing. Her much crying since the dread event had lapsed into an intolerable somber anguish without any foreseeable remedy during her few remaining years.

         This was her only son, her only begotten son, a dead son of a dead father. What hope was left? If not for this otherwise chance meeting with someone whose life and mission could relate, who had always known His eventual fate and the dreadful effect it would have on His own mother, and who is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities,” the bedraggled procession would continue onward to the place of death and perpetual remembrance.

          But that was not going to happen. Not this time.

         When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.” And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. [Luke 7:13-14a]

        I believe He was weeping when he told the woman to stop weeping. What could she have been thinking? How incredulous she must have been in that brief moment. Do not weep? What? But she followed His movements. No one said a word. He walked over and placed his hand on the coffin. The procession stopped. The usual ongoing heartbreak and pain associated with life in this world stopped. All eyes were upon Him. He acted in such a way that no one had a chance to impede His interruption, as all were likely shocked at what was playing out before them. What is this stranger doing?

         And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother. Fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and, “God has visited His people!” [Luke 7:14b-16]   

SPEAKING TO A DEAD MAN

         When something is done, it is done. It is over. This is what we are taught. Life teaches us this, often brutally. Yet the New Testament narratives persist in telling us this is not necessarily true. Are these just a bunch of old stories? Did the Lord actually do all those impossible things? Once one considers such he may as well throw it all out—throw out the New Covenant, throw out the Gospels, throw it all out. It’s either all true or none of it is true. Though many have done this and will never express any real faith in the Lord, others have seen His hand. It may not be as dramatic as the events of this story but are life-changing nonetheless. In many cases it is not the Lord stopping a horrendous event (often because He will not violate human will) but giving us the otherwise impossible strength to deal with it and overcome it. Such is just as viable and powerful.

         For example, though he gave this poor grieving widow her only son back, he did not stop the man from dying in the first place. He did not stop the death of His friend Lazarus. He was notified that Lazarus was sick but purposely waited two days before he headed over there. His sisters suffered great grief. He also did not stop His own death and thus allowed His mother to suffer terribly as a consequence of it. But in all three cases He raised the dead. In two cases he brought great joy to grieving mothers by doing something otherwise impossible.

         Everyone will die. We know the above two guys died twice. But the Lord promises that those who have faith in Him will rise again. There is a resurrection coming for all. Some will be resurrected to eternal life.

         In the meantime it could well be the case that something has died that the Lord wants to resurrect in the here and now. Maybe it’s something that suffered death as a result of spiritual attack and warfare. Maybe it exists in a weakened condition needing a spiritual jolt to live again.

      Whatever is attempted for the Lord will suffer attack. Some attacks are powerful. Sometimes such attacks succeed. It could be that the attack was so potent and soul wrenching that one cannot muster the strength, ability, or desire to fight back effectively. One wonders of how many things the Lord wanted done that never got done due to losing spiritual battles. Sometimes we do fight back but can’t quite get there. We try. We give maximum effort. We exhaust ourselves in the attempt. And we still know we must try again until we finally succeed.

         Regardless of how it all works out or what is supposed to happen, don’t ever forget that the Lord in fact spoke to a dead man. He did it more than once. Imagine the people standing around that heard it. And then, shockingly, the dead man also heard it and actually responded.

         The dead man sat up and began to speak. [Luke 7:15] [1]

         Is there something the Lord may be telling us?

         © 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


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

HATE MOB: FUTURE REPERCUSSIONS

Blog Pic 10.09.18         

         When they killed the Lord they thought that was it. He was dead. They dodged a howitzer. They would remain in power. And all their dirty deeds would remain hidden to history.

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         Except that particular scenario was not the way it turned out. Not long after the pathetic kangaroo court of strident misfits where lies ruled and truth was sentenced to death the vicious perpetrators quickly realized it was not yet over and made an otherwise brilliant political move:

        Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said, “Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’ Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.” And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone. [Matthew 27:62-66]   

         Once again, using the power of a foreign government for their own purposes as they had when they convinced Pilate to crucify their hated but innocent challenger, they convinced him to station a full Roman guard at the tomb. They also convinced him to seal it with the Roman stamp of approval whereby anyone who violated the seal would have to answer not to them but the Romans. One wonders how this menacing self-righteous mob had the wherewithal to engage in such outright subterfuge with nary a peep from their collective conscience. Perhaps they had no conscience. More likely they had no heart. Most likely they were getting their assignments from the dungeon master himself.

         There was money on the line, and much political power. Their enemy had the audacity to expose them for what they were—a collection of sold-out hell-bound idiots intent on using every trick in their ominous arsenal to stop what must happen and what God willed to happen. Did they know they were fighting against God? Would they have stopped if they did?

         With the tomb secure they slunk back to their evil lairs and dens of iniquity to wait out the remainder of the aforementioned three days whose passing would at last secure their future. They threw everything they had at Him. They destroyed His reputation. They said He was crazy. They called Him a drunk and a glutton. They later claimed He was a fornicator with a well-known harlot. They accused His mother in the worst way possible by claiming He was illegitimate. They even said He was demon-possessed. The Lord’s family members were mortified at what all these false accusations meant for their future.

         This hate mob knew it was either Him or them and it wasn’t going to be them without throwing everything they had at Him.

         In doing this, however, they unknowingly exposed themselves. Sane people looking on saw them not as they saw themselves, as holier than thou, as far better than lowlife unintelligent commoners. No, the outer world rightly saw them as crazy religious nuts, as people with an inbred sense of arrogance and narcissism such that all people everywhere must bend before them forever. This included the One who came to save them and deliver His people, from which they sprung, and from which they went off on an otherworldly tangent the likes of which the world had never seen.

        The three days were up. Now they could breathe again. Now they knew everything would be alright. The false testimony of lying witnesses had stood up! It was believed! The pretender had met His match in them. No one would ever again challenge their master of the universe status or try what He had tried. All possible candidates would surely hold back as cowardly dogs.

AND NOW IT BEGINS. NOW IT ALL BEGINS…

          While in such a state of deep contentment, sitting far back in their leather-bound chairs and smoking victory cigars, they reveled in their triumph. The morning light appeared over the Mount as a welcome harbinger of sunny success. Then suddenly, no, this cannot be, there was a great rumbling of the earth. The place shook like an olive tree during harvest. The front door was cast ajar. It seemed it would never stop. And then, there was quiet, several moments of quiet—a deathly quiet, only to be broken by distant hurried footsteps growing louder. A young man appeared in the door opening.

            Uh Oh.

     Still slack-jawed and open-mouthed, terror on their faces, they received the inconceivable news from the shocked and harried messenger.

         “The earthquake… The tomb… It happened just like He said! The Romans can’t explain it! Nothing like this has ever happened before! He’s gone!”

         Talk about your best-laid plans. The future repercussions were now unstoppable. They knew it. But nothing could ever keep them from fighting against the inevitable. And with every opposing move they dug themselves deeper in their holes. The holes became ruts. The ruts became graves. They could never go back. It was they who loosed the evil genie. And it was they who would now receive the full impact of the fate they meant for others.

         Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. [Galatians 6:7] [1] 

            © 2018 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. 


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

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

THE GREAT AWAKENING (2)

       The Lord Jesus died for individuals. By this He attributed infinite worth to each person. You are the crown of creation.

         All individuals are thus qualified to accept His grace. His grace is undeserved favor. He is willing to grant to every individual complete, absolute, total undeserved favor. One cannot work for it. One cannot earn it. One cannot purchase it. It is a gift, an extreme gift of the greatest kind.

       It did not come cheap. It cost the Lord Jesus EVERYTHING. He gave all He had and everything He is. He gave His entire heart. He put heaven on the line to come here and rescue us. But again, He did not do this as though He were rescuing a group. He is not in love with a group. He is in love with individuals. That He loves all individuals the same does not lessen His absolute love for all.

GOD IS LOVE

         The only person who could possess and express such love is the Creator Himself. There have been many arguments on this subject by people who claim that a loving, benevolent God would never allow for the existence of so much hate and evil as exists on this planet and that if He was all that loving He would at least put an end to it. However, those who bring this argument rarely or never identify the real cause of the hate and evil they claim God is responsible for. He is only responsible for giving human beings the ability and freedom to make their own choices. Some choose to manifest such hate and evil.

        He obviously does not desire such nor does He sanction it. He certainly allows it, though, but only because individual freedom is impossible otherwise. People must be allowed to choose whether they will engage in love or hate. They must be granted the ability to do good or evil. Otherwise they have no freedom. This would portend that God has no respect for them. In contrast, some religious “leaders” will certainly exhibit great disrespect for individuals in that they will do their utmost to curtail their freedom so as to get the results they desire and in so doing create religious automatons with bound minds and bound hearts. They might as well put everyone in jail especially those who might do something wrong even before they do it. These people are irresponsible.  

THE RESPONSIBLE PARTY

         The Lord Jesus, on the other hand, is certainly responsible for his Creation. It is why He has created something much better than anything mankind has devised and it is actually something He created in the very beginning that mankind deviated from. Thus, the culprit is not God and never has been God. The culprit is mankind. Mankind is the entity responsible for the creation of hate and evil. And mankind is not a faceless mass but is composed of individuals. Each individual is consequently responsible for his or her own sin.

        Some individuals feel remorse. Some individuals have a conscience in good working order and know when they do wrong and also want to remedy it. They wish it had never happened. They wish they had never performed the sinful deed whatever it may be and whatever weight it may carry. The Lord has made a provision for this. We call it repentance. We call it making a confession of the sin. It must be confessed. It must be acknowledged. It must be seen as sin. If so, it can be absolved. If we confess our sins to the Lord with the proper motive and a contrite heart and seek to do our best to end such an activity He will not only remove it from the record but do His part to help us overcome. This takes active participation. The inception of this participation is strictly between the Lord and the individual.

SACRIFICIAL LOVE

        The long history of the world’s various governments, in general terms, obviously denotes no such respect or love for individual rights but only the privilege of those few who compose the upper class. It is the same in both the secular and religious realms. The vast majority has always existed far below the small minority which wrested power. In the Lord’s Kingdom, however, there are no classes. There is only the Lord and everybody else. All are equal before Him. He shows no partiality. In His Kingdom the individual is afforded the most respect and each individual qualifies.

        As some, though very few, governments progressed, the people associated therewith understood that governments which govern best are those which govern least. This gave rise to individual liberty and individual rights which such newly formed governments were created to protect. This form of government, however, demands individual responsibility and maturity which also demands the necessary level of sacrifice for others, starting at the family level, and such must always be absolutely non-coercive. This form is closest to that of the Lord’s Kingdom in that people must be free to grow and develop.

         As for those tyrants, haters of mankind and supporters thereof who reject this truth, of which hell will largely be populated, their eternal judgment will be based on their lack of love for the Lord Jesus and for individuals. Conversely, the people who will eventually make heaven their eternal home are those who possess and demonstrate the same love for the Lord and for others that He demonstrated for each of us. We are not saved by this since salvation is by His grace alone, but this love is a byproduct of salvation. For those who insist that human beings are not capable of such love they have a failed argument. It is only an excuse on their part since they do not possess such love. Because they do not have it or care to express it if they did, they do not see how anyone else can. We have examples of this love in the multitude of individuals loving other individuals and often to the ultimate degree.

         Every day somewhere in the world there are people sacrificing their lives in some way for another. Some of them sacrifice in the greatest way. This is the greatest love. The Lord sees their sacrifice and records it. Those who love in such a way are not doing it for the record, to be noticed, or for some fake religious reason. They are doing it because they have love in their hearts for others even though they may not personally know them. How many risk their lives for another person in need that they had only just met?

         We often see this in disasters and accidents. For example, we saw a lot of this activity in the hurricane-spawned floods last year in the Houston, Texas area. Everyone was helping everyone it seemed. There was a massive amount of volunteer activity. Many contributed monetarily. Some gave great amounts of money that went toward not only saving lives in the moment but helping people get back on their feet after their lives had essentially been destroyed. Many people lost everything. But many people were also helped to make a new start.

THE POWER OF THE RESURRECTION

        That’s what happens when we give our lives to the Lord Jesus. He saves us from the destructive and alienating power of personal sin. His salvation requires a new birth. We make a brand new start! We become reconciled to Him. Old things pass away. We accept and receive His great love for us as seemingly mere individuals lost in a sea of humanity. But He knows our names. He knows our hearts. He knows each of us individually. Because of this, we are not to be characterized as “mere.” He died for you. He died for each of us. But He also rose again. This means that each of us, as individuals, can also rise again. That was the entire point of His life and resurrection.

         We can demonstrate this in the here and now. Like so many of the flood victims who were loved and assisted toward a brand new life after losing everything, so can each of us begin anew knowing we have a heavenly Father who loves us with the greatest love. His love is eternally self-renewing in that it overcomes everything that runs down or has run down. Since He is the Creator, He can overcome the natural tendency of deviation, dissolution, decay, and destruction from and of His perfect original creation of which each individual person is the greatest part.

         The Lord Jesus saves us one at a time. It is the only way He can eliminate hate and evil. We must cooperate with Him to eliminate any hate, evil, and sin in our own hearts. It starts with each of us. We are individuals. And each one of us means more to the Lord than His own life.

         And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new!” [Revelation 21:3-5] [1]

            © 2018 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. 


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

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

HIERARCHY HIRELINGS: How Incompetent Posers Gain Authority (Doh!)

         “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.” [John 10:11-13]

THE PETER PRINCIPLE        

         According to Laurence J. Peter in his best-selling book, The Peter Principle, “In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.”

         This management principle has proven to be absolutely true. It explains everything. It illustrates why we have so many incompetent people in the upper levels of power. It contrasts the real world of cause and effect, risk and reward, and survival of the fittest with the fake world of herds without predators.

         Two hunters deep in the woods are suddenly surprised by a very angry bear. They both take off running for their lives, the bear right behind them. One hunter yells to the other, “Do you think we can outrun him?” The other hunter says, “I don’t need to outrun him. I only need to outrun you.”

         This is the real world. It is why God created predators. Predators are the eliminators of incompetence in the natural world. Unless you stay sharp and at the top of your game the bear will get you.

         This is why incompetent people don’t survive long in real world applications. Many meet a quick end. There is simply no place for ongoing laziness, lack of ability, foolishness, stupidity, and bad decisions. The natural world teaches this. Incompetence is never rewarded or allowed. Natural selection means survival of only the fittest.

         In fake world situations, however, the opposite takes place. Rules are written to protect incompetence. Instead of rightfully being killed and eaten by angry bears, incompetent people not only survive, they thrive. Their bad behavior is rewarded. Everybody gets a trophy.

THE BACKYARD WARRIORS PRINCIPLE

         Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. [1 Corinthians 9:24]

         I remember when I was about eleven years old I had a birthday party at my house. We lived in a well-kept suburban working class neighborhood. As part of the birthday fun I set up an intricate obstacle course in the backyard. You had to run around the perimeter of the yard as fast as you could under and through this and over and around that—just a bunch of stuff I found laying around that I transformed into world class athletic equipment. Not bad for a kid. It was pretty cool. I had an old army tarp tied to the chain-link fence at a 45 degree angle that you had to crawl under. There was stuff to jump over, like a strategically located metal trash can. Things like that. You had to run the course while being timed. Whoever completed the course correctly and the fastest was the winner. We probably had some small prize.

         The rules were the same for everyone. I invited a bunch of friends over from school and the neighborhood. But someone also invited my young cousin, who was probably about seven or eight. If that wasn’t bad enough I also had an older sister hanging around who was sixteen or so at the time. She had an inordinate desire to lend what amounted to overwhelming assistance to those such as my young cousin who she thought were in great need, as a way to even the playing field. I had a different perspective. I have always been competitive. My concerns about her ruining the competition were soon realized.

         Some of us had already run the course. We gave it everything we had. When a kid was out there running around he was completely on his own. It was sink or swim. Figure it out. Don’t miss anything. Show respect for the process. Everybody else was watching making sure he did it right.

         Then it was my little cousin’s turn. And what does my older sister do? She starts running the course with him! He appeared to have no clue what to do but probably would have done okay if allowed to run by himself. I still have this mental picture of her leaning over slightly and running off with him with her arm on his shoulder guiding him around. He quickly yielded to her lead. She then decided he only needed to run less than half the layout! And here they come, cutting right through my well constructed obstacle course across the middle of the yard making a total mockery of the game! She’s still right there with her arm on his shoulder, leaning over, telling him what to do while running him back to the start.

         We did not appreciate this. Neither I nor my friends said anything. It was an era when kids showed more respect. She meant well. But what a joke. She almost ruined the whole day with that pathetic display.

         This is exactly how incompetence thrives.

THE JEREMIAH JOHNSON PRINCIPLE

         Again, in the real world only the strongest and wisest survive. America was founded by such people. So was Texas. The few incompetent people out on the frontier were soon dead if they didn’t manage to get back to civilization post haste.

         I am reminded of Robert Redford’s character in the movie Jeremiah Johnson, set in the mid 1800s. There was an early scene when he was way up in the frozen Rocky Mountains trying to catch fish by hand in an icy stream. He was soon in the water. There he was in the deep snow and ice splashing around doing his best to catch a fish to stay alive. The scene then switched to an Indian on horseback silently watching. Later in the movie when the same Indian recognized him in a different setting, he told another, “He fishes poorly.”

         But Jeremiah Johnson survived and then thrived. He figured out how to stay alive in a killer environment. Though he met friends, nobody held his hand. He overcame all obstacles, including some personal losses that ripped his heart apart. That movie was about the real world and survival.

         It is quite the contrast to our present world. Since that time America has largely become a vast, neurotic, socialist nanny state ruled over by bureaucratic incompetents and enablers with selfish agendas in which everybody, regardless of any achievement, gets a little trophy. Many would never be in their positions of authority without some big sister brotherhood opening doors, scripting their work, showing them the way, and refusing to let them stand on their own. It is the complete opposite of survival of the fittest. Because of the ridiculous policy of allowing incompetent idiots to become our “experts” America is going down fast.

         Now, before you think I’m stumping for a certain presidential candidate, I’m not. I’ve been saying this for decades. (That dude stole my thunder.) I have watched this contrary agenda develop over several decades. Of course, many people know what’s going on but almost everybody feels powerless to do anything about it. When some charismatic person comes along who says all the right things and claims to have the answers he gains an immediate following.

         But it rarely or never works. It’s always just words. Those that actually gain power never follow through. The only thing that does work in such cases is following the lead of someone who actually knows what to do and has a proven track record. Such good guys, however, are currently very few and far between, and are becoming extinct. The bad guys have taken over. The paradigm shift of rewarding evil and eliminating the good is almost complete. It’s why Biblical prophecy says the world would succeed in blowing itself up without the Lord’s end-time intervention. Corrupt doofuses in places of authority are the sole cause.

THE LORD JESUS PRINCIPLE

         There is only one Leader who can fix this mess. The reason America is cratering is due only to the rejecting of His leadership. There is no possible way to remove the preserving agent without falling into gross corruption. The more He has been rejected over the last several decades the worse things have become. Though few acknowledge Him, He is the one who holds everything together.

         Also, though the Lord Jesus is the best Father, He never spoils His children. Though He is our Shepherd, He is never the enabler of stupidity, laziness, or incompetence. He only rewards those who give it their all. Whoever will do things His way must be absolutely dedicated and must also be in it for the long haul. One will discover that following His lead allows one to grow stronger and wiser, and possess greater ability to overcome and thrive. He prepares us to be the best. His discipleship methods always work. He is a maker of champions.

THE UNREAL CHRISTIANITY PRINCIPLE

         The reason the Peter Principle has become a burgeoning reality is because the people in power have rejected the Lord’s proper authority and correct management principles. They have replaced them with bulky, unresponsive, impersonal hierarchies and shallow methodologies that reward morons and punish the strong, independent, honest, and righteous.

         GUESS WHAT? THE EXACT THING HAS HAPPENED WITHIN TRADITIONAL AMERICAN CHRISTIANITY.

         Pious pinheads and parading shysters have taken over the outward institutional format and are now the tenured cloth men. We know the majority of these guys have no clue how to right our wayward course or have any desire to, largely because they’re the ones who caused it. They’re invested in it. It serves them very well. These sold-out fakers only exist because foolish people keep throwing money in their coffers, which only enables them and their incompetence. Every time the Lord tries to correct them their supporters reward them. These power-tripping Christian “experts” eventually cold shoulder any real Christians in their vicinity, refuse to support them, and badmouth them, in the sinister effort to eliminate those who would rightfully take their job.

         But this has always been true. Thus, all real Christians must first learn to survive in this fallen world, then learn to fight, overcome, and thrive within it, AND THEN TAKE OVER. It’s how the Lord does things. It’s exactly how He did it. When He was crucified He looked like the greatest loser that ever lived. Three days later He became the greatest winner of all time. If we would be successful we must follow His lead, trust Him, and do things His way.

         This is why the Lord Jesus never coddles His children. He has no use for perpetual babies and whiners. He never hands out participant trophies. He requires us to run the race well without constant enabling. He calls us to follow Him even through the worst spiritual environments that will test us to the nth degree.

THE PAUL PRINCIPLE

         For correct spiritual perspective with respect to real discipleship, consider the fact that the apostle Paul once found himself dead under a pile of rocks. He suffered this fate doing exactly what he was called to do. The Lord Jesus did nothing to stop the brutal attack against him—He let Paul get stoned by a bunch of Jewish religious idiots.

         But He did bless him with a preview of heaven:

         I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows—was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. [2Corinthians 12:2-4]

         That’s pretty cool. And He did bring him back to earth. And He did give Paul supportive friends after he was dragged out of Lystra for dead who stood around him when he suddenly got up:

         But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. But while the disciples stood around him, he got up and entered the city. [Acts 14:19-20]

         Therefore, it is not that we don’t need help and support from time to time. We obviously should help one another. But such help is usually designed to get us on track or back on track. Both of these should be very few and far between events after our initial discipleship training. After that it’s a matter of running the race well without being hindered or enabled, both of which restrict our mission.

         If the Lord has given you honest and competent authority figures at present, be thankful. We need the wisdom of those who have gone before us who have gained the Lord’s wisdom. But in order to be the spiritual success the Lord needs you to be, you must work at becoming a spiritual adult.

         For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity… [Hebrews 5:13-6:1] [1]

         Live the adventure.

         Climb the Rockies.

         But watch out for rocks.

       © 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.

When Real Christians Die: Proving the Existence of the Unseen Spiritual World (2)

         For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. [1Peter 1:20-21]

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

         Non-believers often ask about proof. They must be reminded of living by faith. They don’t want to live by faith. They would rather live according to that tiny fraction of the light spectrum they can relate to with mere human senses.

         I remind them that the vast majority of all that exists cannot be perceived with the five senses. It is beyond what they see, hear, touch, taste, or smell. Scientists have proven this over and over. Yet, every time some new discovery is made the people thereof get all arrogant and full of themselves even though they must quickly admit they still have no clue about the majority that exists beyond the senses.

         They know it’s out there. Regarding the composition of the Universe, they know Dark Energy exists. They know Dark Matter exists. Dark Energy makes up 68% of the Universe. Dark Matter comprises 27% of the Universe.

         That leaves 5%. This 5% is what can be perceived with the five senses.

         “The rest—everything on Earth, everything ever observed with all of our instruments, all normal matter—adds up to less than 5% of the Universe. Come to think of it, maybe it shouldn’t be called “normal” matter at all, since it is such a small fraction of the Universe.” [1]

         THE GREATEST SCIENTISTS AND MENTAL GENIUSES ON THE PLANET STILL DO NOT HAVE A CLUE WHAT DARK ENERGY IS OR WHAT DARK MATTER IS, BUT ONLY THAT IT EXISTS. THEY DO NOT KNOW WHAT MAKES UP 95% OF THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE.

         They know it exists because of the way it affects what they know does exist.

         Yet, most of these people refuse to even speculate upon the possibility of the existence of the spiritual world.

PRAYER WORKS

         Millions of people know prayer works. They have personal proof. Many people have even kept records. I have seen the Lord Jesus answer my prayers so many times and sometimes in the most spectacular fashion. If any unbelieving egghead wants to challenge me on this he or she will get an earful.

         Yet, I understand that people living outside the kingdom of God have no clue. It is impossible for them to understand. They can either be smart about it and admit this or they can be not so smart about it and believe the only things that exist are those things picked up by the senses.

         At least the science boys and girls are intelligent enough to admit they know there is stuff out there even though they don’t know what it is.

         Much of this scientific knowledge is very recent. If you want to gain some understanding in this field you can go to NASA for a brief introduction here: Dark Energy, Dark Matter .

         The point of this article and the previous one is to reveal the fact that we all need salvation or will lose our souls. It is to illustrate that salvation is only possible through the Lord Jesus. It is to illustrate that a few, in the Lord’s own words, will actually accept the fact that they are sinners in need of salvation and will accept the Lord’s great sacrifice on their behalf and will in turn LIVE and then LIVE FOR ALL ETERNITY.

         These articles also reveal, however, that the vast majority of humanity will reject the only cure for the sin disease and lose their souls. Their existence will be limited to this earth and a short time after physical death while awaiting trial, and will thus fall short of eternal life. They will never gain eternal life because they decided to live only according to what they can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. Anything beyond the five senses and the 5% they reject as that which does not exist.

         They will discover their error too late to do anything about it.

LIVING IN THE SPIRIT

         Those who believe in, follow, and obey the Lord Jesus—His real followers, not including all the fakers—are not left with purely blind faith and no proof. As I said, I have seen the Lord Jesus do incredible, amazing, miraculous things over the years. I know He is very real, and I know everything He said is true because it all works. There are things we cannot see, hear, touch, taste, or smell but we know for a certainty that they exist, just as we know Dark Energy and Dark Matter exist.

         The Lord Jesus, however, has decided to speak in parabolic form in order to hide truth from non-believers who refuse to exercise any faith. Truth is a vibrant and very special commodity and must not be wasted on those who have no respect for it. As a result, one must work very hard to discover truth. One must do much research and study. One must receive revelation. ONE MUST PRAY A LOT AND SPEND MUCH TIME ALONE WITH THE LORD. The hidden things of God are hidden for a reason.

         The gaining of truth and salvation because of that truth does not come easy and never has. It is obvious then, that real salvation only comes to those who put everything on the line and dedicate their entire lives to the Lord Jesus and the pursuit of achieving real discipleship.

         The majority of people never do this. The majority of “Christians” never do this. They do work hard and some work very hard at other pursuits. They do seek to have good lives. The problem is that they dedicate themselves to merely temporary things that will never be translated into eternity. They dedicate themselves to believing false theories and narratives. In essence, they dedicate themselves to running with the crowd. Even if they believe there are things out there they do not understand they never try to gain any understanding. They plant their feet firmly in the here and now.

FOREKNOWN BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD

         Each of us has existed in the mind of God from before the foundation of the world. But the Lord has granted a free will. Most choose wrongly. The few who choose correctly enter into a secret kingdom that no one else knows about (or cares about). The Lord Jesus revealed this.

         It exists exactly as does Dark Energy and Dark Matter. It is real. Just because the majority rejects it does not mean it does not exist. It only means they are wrong to reject it. It means they have no faith or love for the truth.

THE RESURRECTION IS THE PROOF

         The Lord Jesus arose from the dead. For those not fully clear on the concept—those who cannot see spiritual things so well—it was God or God the Father who did the resurrecting. While this is certainly true and scriptural, it is also just as true and scriptural that the Lord Jesus resurrected Himself. He even said He would before He did. It was one of the main points brought up against Him at His trial. Those people were such spiritual idiots they didn’t understand He was not talking about Herod’s Temple. The ignorance of some people certainly boggles the mind.

         But these people were not ignorant so much as they were spiritually blind. They were great religionists and knew the Bible extremely well. But they had no clue whatsoever of spiritual things and thus judged everything by what they could see, hear, touch, taste, or smell.

         They did not know the Lord Jesus was YHWH. They did not know that the very God they professed had arrived among them as one of them. They murdered their own God, the only God, the ONE GOD.

         Of course, because there IS a secret kingdom and there IS a hidden spiritual world, they actually only murdered the human body of God—HIS TEMPLE. That is precisely why the Lord Jesus stated:

         “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

         The resurrection is the proof. It is also the proof for every individual real Christian when he or she is resurrected to new eternal life.

         But for every real Christian, there is also a pre-proof. The pre-proof is a real born again experience that comprises all the basic elements of the final resurrection. One’s born again experience prior to physical death is the proof that everything the Lord said is true.

         The Lord Jesus raised me from spiritual death several years ago. I have since discovered through much prayer, research, study, work, trials, tough times, VERY tough times, and many, many revelations that He is very, very real, that there is a secret kingdom, and that there is a whole lot of stuff going on beyond the five senses. That which one can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell is a mere fraction of what actually exists.

         Regarding the entire Universe, as stated previously, 95% of it is completely unknown. We know it’s there, however, but we don’t know what it is.

         It is the same regarding the spiritual world. It could very well be that 95% of our realm on Planet Earth is comprised of the spiritual and only 5% makes up the sensory. 

         Remember, the Lord could see the spiritual world as well as the sensory world. He revealed it through His life, teachings, and ministry.

          As proof, there are untold millions of examples of answered prayer, born again experiences, miracles, healings, and other proven works that prove it exists. Real Christians know this. They have accepted the atoning death of the Sacrifice Lamb on their behalf. They know that just as He raised Himself from the dead He will raise them from the dead, especially since He has already raised them from the dead spiritually.

         Millions of real Christians worldwide are proof by their own new birth that much exists beyond the surface. They exist in what is essentially seed form awaiting their new creation in eternity. The time will come when each will bloom forth, completing a great resurrection that began with a single seed brought forth by the Sacrifice Lamb.

            Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. [1Peter 1:22-23] [2]

        © 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] NASA: Dark Energy, Dark Matter. Last Updated: June 5, 2015 http://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/focus-areas/what-is-dark-energy/

[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.

First Day of Spring and Signs in the Sky: The Awakening Advances

         Today, March 20, 2015, is the actual New Years Day.

         It’s the first day of spring and begins the season of new life.

         It is also a day filled with celestial signs pointing directly to current world events and the American spiritual climate.

         Unlike the frozen spiritual tundra of the great white north where snow continues on Friday (see Tuesday’s post), and where Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and Charles Finney have long since been effectively rousted from their graves and kicked out of town, there are actually places in America where the Lord Jesus is honored and obeyed.

         Regarding the former reference, John WyCliffe (c.1324-1384), the Morning Star of the Reformation and the man who first translated the Bible into English, suffered much persecution in his life but also in death. This may be difficult to fathom but hatred for this man’s work by the Roman Catholic Church was so intense that forty years after his death, his remains were exhumed from his grave, crushed, burned, and scattered in the River Swift.

         Has not the same happened to the work and reputations of the men mentioned above? And of course, to the Lord Jesus Himself?

A NEW SEASON

         Regarding today, the day is otherwise known as the vernal equinox. On this day the planet levels out in its tilt as it does twice each year—it is the time when the most direct rays of the sun fall on the equator. In March, it signals the end of winter darkness and the beginning of the shift toward ever more direct sunlight for the Northern Hemisphere.

         Spring officially arrives at 5:45pm Central Daylight Time on Friday.

         But this is only the beginning of the beginning.

         There are many other celestial events taking place. Their simultaneous occurrences make this an extremely rare day and portend major change on the cyclical front.

A NEW LUNAR CYCLE

         In addition to the first day of spring, March 20th is also the day of a new moonthe beginning of a new lunar cycle. The new month officially began at 4:36am CDT early Friday morning. It is relatively rare to have a new moon on the same day as the beginning of spring.

         Yet, we’re only getting started. These events also signal the beginning of yet another cycle, one which corresponds to dovetailing the sun and moon into a workable calendar:

         235 lunar cycles (months of 29.53 days) fit almost exactly into 19 solar cycles (years). This period of 19 years is what some ancient cultures, including the Hebrews, used in their lunar-solar calendars, which incorporate:

(1) 7 years of 13 months (intercalary years) for a total of 91 months, and

(2) 12 years of 12 months totaling 144 months.

         These combine for a total of 235 months in an overall 19-year calendar which links the movements of the moon with the movements of the sun. Here’s the math:

         365.24220 (days in a solar cycle)  x   19 years   = 6939.60180 days

           29.53059 (days in a lunar cycle) x 235 months = 6939.68865 days

         (This is a mere difference of 2 hours, 5 minutes and 4 seconds over the 19 years. Pretty close.)

         But wait! There’s more!

FIRST DAY OF THE HEBREW MONTH OF NISAN

         Friday, March 20th is also the first day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar! This is an extremely important day and has great significance in both Hebrew history and in the life of the Lord Jesus.

         Now the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you.” [Exodus 12:1-2] [1]

         Nisan 1 is the first day of the first month of the festival, or ecclesiastical year. Most of the springtime Biblical feasts occur during this month. It was the exact day the tabernacle in the wilderness was first erected. It was also the month when our Lord died and rose from the dead.

         [Please see the links following this article regarding the month of Nisan for much more detailed information on the prophetic events of this season.]

A NEW SUPERMOON

         Along with these preceding events, the new moon beginning on Friday morning is also a supermoon, meaning that the moon is closest to the Earth in its orbit and must also be either full or new (in this case new and thus completely dark). (When a supermoon is full it appears approximately 15% brighter.)

         But wait! There is still more!

A NEW TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE

         On this same day, March 20, 2015, a total solar eclipse took place as the new supermoon passed directly between the Earth and the Sun, blocking out the Sun’s light. The eclipse began about 3am CDT.

         The full eclipse was mostly visible in the northern Atlantic and far northern Europe. It ended over the North Pole. Scotland experienced about a 95% darkening of the Sun, Germany 82%, and Italy about 50%. A partial eclipse was seen in Europe, North Africa, north-central Asia, and the Middle East. The eclipse was not visible in America, however.

         How rare is it when a total solar eclipse happens on the first day of spring? It’s relatively very rare, in that the last one to occur happened in the year 1662. That’s 353 years ago. However, there will be other spring equinox-total solar eclipses in the near future, the next one in 19 years and two more, strangely enough, at 19-year intervals in 2034, 2053, and 2072. These are repeating 19-year cyclical events normally happening in sets of four or five.

         As it happens, we had a 353-year period from 1662-2015. This will be followed by three 19-year periods in succession, 2015-2034, 2034-2053, and 2053-2072 which also correspond to the 19-year celestial lunar-solar calendars.

FIVE CONCURRENT CELESTIAL SIGNS

         The supermoon occurring at the same time as a total solar eclipse is more of a rarity than the spring equinox-total solar eclipse happening concurrently. That all three happen on the same day is exceptionally rare. And when the other events happen as well, with all their individual spiritual portents, this is a rare time indeed and very much worth paying full attention to and praying about, especially regarding the Great Awakening.

         Wow. Almost done.

SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE—WHAT TO WATCH FOR

         Regarding the number 19, it is the 8th prime number, and 8 is the Biblical number of resurrection and regeneration, and a new beginning. This is a great number, and a highly spiritual number with regard to spiritual awakenings. Keep in mind that the Lord’s resurrection could only happen after His death, and that spiritual awakenings only happen after much repentance, which is representative of death.

         Great Awakenings are always associated with persecution as well.

         The number 19, however, rather than the joy of number 8, is a different story. It is associated with rebellion and judgment, as well as spiritual trials and suffering. According to noted Bible scholar E.W. Bullinger, it is a number connected with Eve and Job. Putting these two numbers together at this time when so many rare celestial and spiritual events are occurring only furthers the proof that we are sailing into uncharted seas.

         NOW WATCH THIS: Early Friday morning in the pre-dawn darkness, the moon became new, meaning that it was completely blacked out from receiving the light of the Sun.

         It then passed in front of the Sun from our viewpoint here on Earth, completely blacking out the light of the Sun.

         Associated with these two black-out events will be the last waning hours of the season of winter, a season noted for cold and darkness. Death arrives for the winter of 2014-15 at 5:45pm CDT on Friday evening.

         Then, a second later, just as a new morning follows the end of night, the resurrection life of a new season will spring forth! At that point the darkness of the solar eclipse will be history. The moon will start gaining more light on its way to becoming full.

         A new Day will dawn, and with it we will cast off the cobwebs and deadness of a long winter’s sleep.

         The same will happen in the spiritual world, known very well by our real Christian forebears of the first century, and also by those courageous men mentioned above.

         Regardless of cold hearts and unreal brethren, the Awakening advances.

         © 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.

RISING AGAIN…

         The world was dark and cold. Defeat had become a matter of lifestyle, of accepting a great wrong against one’s hopes and dreams with no way to overcome the pain.

         And it was certainly pain, the kind of deep pain stored in the depths of one’s heart that it seems can never be excised no matter how hard one may try.

         There were “leaders” who had come along who claimed they had answers but their efforts never went anywhere, even though a few had gained relatively large followings. Yet, no matter what particular hope had come down the road and into the hearts of the defeated, though briefly, the light shined for merely a moment and was gone.

         It was as if the whole world was against each person, and that each person had no way to strike back effectively. The great pain carried by most was the pain of a defeat so strong and overwhelming that they must simply surrender to it and find a way to make life work.

         It is one of the most difficult things to deal with and make sense of, and in all probability the most difficult. People were created to overcome, to stand tall, to fight and win, to work hard and get things done, to put their heart into alleviating a problem, and to let nothing stand in the way of their freedom and success.

         Yet, the nation was broken. It had long ago been taken over by a brutal regime that had little or no compassion, and certainly no concern for the individuals who lives were essentially destroyed and enslaved. People kept working hard—they had to—but they were only working to stay alive. Survival was the big dream, or actually, it was the attempt to stay mentally tough against so much misfortune and no hope for the future. This “survival” was the manner in which one was forced to attempt a win, the way a starving man may grab at crumbs in hopes that he may find a piece of bread, and then, just maybe, something more.

         But it was the seeking of something more substantial that caused the greatest depression among people. If they could only just give up and accept a less than good life, a less than average life, or even a mere subsistence level life, then maybe that pain would go away. Maybe if they just gave up on dreams that kept stirring their hearts but never, ever came close to reality, then, and only then, could they maybe smile a weak smile and somehow be content with their lot.

         It was not to be, of course. No one can live like that for very long without finding alternatives to bleak reality that somehow make reality possible to stomach. It had all been going on for so many years and decades. People could actually no longer remember any actual good times but they still had the misty sagas that old people told on occasion, when long ago, their people lived in victory and strength.

         In a way, such stories, real or imagined, kept a spark alive but only a few really thought it could ever grow into anything more than that. So many people had tried for so long to overcome it all…

         Their houses had been broken into and ransacked. They were forced to vacate not only their homes and fields that they had worked so hard at building, but whole towns. Communities were destroyed. Industry was destroyed. The means to build it all back was completely removed. These evil despicable hell-bound demons in human form had decided that total destruction was the answer, and in their zeal to eliminate those good people they falsely characterized as evil, they had become evil incarnate.

         Their sweeping victories, however, gave them the aura of somehow being on the winning side, and that their grossly evil behavior was somehow justified even by God Himself. It was as if God had turned from His righteousness and honor, and sided with the devil, and that any unfortunate ones who fought the invaders would be crushed by God because the good people were characterized as being the devil.

         Why would God do this? Why would He side with evil? Why wouldn’t He help these poor destroyed people? Was their sin so great and the obvious sins of these invaders so unacknowledged that the entire cosmos had gotten turned upside down?

        As their lives, hopes, and dreams were destroyed, they remembered their Scriptures, the sayings of their holy book. They remembered the words that seemed to fit so clearly—

         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! [Isaiah 5:20-21]

         The confidence level of the invaders had grown exponentially the more they destroyed the land and its people. As the proverbial sharks smelling blood and swimming swiftly to the kill and engaging in a free-for-all bloodbath, so did these so called liberators fall into the most heinous of crimes. Looking past their own sins and thinking themselves as holy with justified and God-breathed righteous anger, and even as agents of proper judgment, they raped and pillaged and burned and murdered, and they exulted in it, they enjoyed it, it was a tremendous opportunity to release their evil passions like hardened, reprobate, insane criminals escaped from the worst penitentiaries.

         How could agents of supposed good engage in such incredibly sinful acts? And why do monuments built for their leaders exist to this day—statues and bronzes beholding their evil glory?

         As the majority of those in the Lord’s day who judged Him falsely of evil and agreed with His death sentence and torture, so do so many still to this day claim the side of righteousness while engaging in or fully supporting the most evil of deeds. They refuse to acknowledge the gross violations of the Lord’s teachings. It is a justification of the worst forms of hate and all that stems from it.

         It must be understood that the thundering hooves supporting these invasions never stop. They continue on in subjugating others, and others still, and overcome the innocent, and rob them, and destroy them, and justify it all.

         But the day will come when their juggernaut will come face to face with a higher power, the very power they had previously claimed was on their side, and they will at last meet their match, and so much more.

         In their current state, the subdued cannot imagine anything to change it, for evil has gained such a stronghold over them, and they are so small and outnumbered, and apparently defeated. But they remember what always follows, what comes next, what the prophets said about the righteous and faithful people, and it is then that the tiny spark in their deepest heart glows brighter:

         Evil is always stopped. It is only a matter of time. The temporary never survives against the eternal. Dishonesty, lies, deceptive agendas, fake historical accounts, and false narratives never defeat Truth in the long term. And the evil ones who ride high in their day and get away with so much will all eventually pay the price. Their time will come to an end. Their earthly kingdoms, like all previous earthly kingdoms and empires, and all their sordid gains will fail and come to nothing, and can never be translated into eternity.

         The real kingdom, though—the eternal kingdom of the Lord Jesus, inhabited by those who love Him and obey Him and are called by His Name—it will continue now and throughout eternity. And regardless of the pain and the many losses the Lord’s people have suffered upon this planet, their fate is good and bright—they will live forever in their eternal home.

         And one more thing: Those places and regions of the earth where the devil has historically wreaked the worst havoc are often the same places from which the Lord later brings forth the greatest Great Awakenings…

         “THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT, AND THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED.” [Matthew 4:16] [1]

         © 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.

Pressing On. Toward Resurrection. (Part 3)

         The conclusion of this 3-part article contains the answer many have been seeking. Times are rough for a lot of Christians the world over, and have been getting more difficult in places where things used to be better.

         Be encouraged.  

     

         …That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

         Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.

         Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 3:10-14] [1]

         I have been watching videos about underground Chinese Christians. One of the prevailing themes among their lives is the ongoing dedication they must pursue with so little apparent reward or accomplishment. They keep pressing on through each day, year after year, though things rarely get any easier or more comfortable. They often wonder why they have to suffer so much. The Lord keeps telling them the same thing He told the apostle Paul:

         “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” [2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV]

         The NASV says: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”

         What is this power, this strength, this dunamis? And why does it only kick in when we are weak? Is it not the very same power the Lord Himself used to live a perfect life?

         And what is this grace, this charis? It must be something tangible, like a spiritual IV packed with nutrients, and not simply God’s favor alone.

         A real Christian must be able to live off this power and grace when all else is unavailable. Did not the Lord of all Creation live a life of apparent outward weakness in order to be very powerful in the spirit? And did He not continually demonstrate this power? It is obvious then, that a person who is to be a real Christian must have this grace and power, this charis and dunamis. And he or she must be able to receive it by making themselves weak in the flesh and in the ways of this world.

         It is simply a fact that spiritual giants will appear as the opposite to non-spiritual people.

         This “weakness” and the requisite strength that comes because of it is what we lack. And we lack it due to simple laziness and a bowing to human nature. Most “Christians” are as fleshly as the day is long and therefore weak in the spirit. They learn to be weak in the spirit and that it is perfectly okay to be weak in the spirit often because their fake leaders are weak in the spirit.

         After a while an entire culture starts calving off like a massive landslide because the ones charged with being salt and light and holding things together became derelict in their duty.

         Like a great baseball player who stays out night after night drinking and fornicating and bringing much less than his “A” game to the field for his team and fans until the team suffers and he breaks down in a heap and retires early.

         Meanwhile, there was another baseball player of the same era who kept doing his duty every year and every game. He was somewhat off the radar, and no one realized how great his accomplishments were to the same degree. He was Mr. Consistent. Not a lot of flash, but he brought it every day. Rarely stopping due to injury, he continued bringing the best for his team and racked up the stats until he eventually broke an impossible record the other guy was supposed to break and should have but never came close.

         People who know baseball know who these players are, and many more just like them. The dedicated player also had a very rough row to hoe during his playing days and suffered many slights and insults but continued to soldier on. He was somewhat invisible for many years. The other guy was the darling of the media, characterized as a great hero, and got away with everything. Though he was a carousing drunk all the dads wanted their sons to be like him, but not so much the other guy.

         The Lord was like this. He would bring it regardless. It didn’t matter if anyone noticed, if it appeared as though He was accomplishing nothing, or if the whole blasted filthy rotten world and everyone in it hated Him without a cause. He was going to do His duty come hell or high water. He would complete His mission. You could not stop Him. He was a million percent dedicated. Regardless of whatever the circumstances may be, He would do and did do everything that was required. He pressed on like no one had ever pressed on and taught His disciples how to do likewise.

         And He strengthens us to do likewise. Therefore we are without excuse.

         Go spend twenty years in a Chinese prison for doing nothing wrong but everything right and then tell me how challenging your life is, especially when all God ever says is “My grace is sufficient, My grace is sufficient…” Will they get out of jail tomorrow? Or next year? Or ever? They had and have no idea. They are tortured and forced to endure the worst insults to body and mind but somehow maintain the ability to go on. And they do it with a big bright smile and tears of joy streaming down their face!

         What IS this grace anyway? And how does it fuel a person to do the impossible?

         One of the hardest things about being a real Christian is being continually dedicated against the tide with no sign of any kind of change for the better. You’re out on the ocean every day with nothing but a water and sky horizon and nothing ever changes, it seems. You feel completely alone though you know the Lord is somehow there with you. You feel like you’ve been cast aside and the only One that can help won’t help.

         In China, a few thousand dedicated believers felt exactly that way but pressed on anyway. One day they looked up from their spiritual drudgery and noticed their numbers had increased a little—to many tens of thousands. The tens of thousands continued to press on against the wind with no change to their very difficult lives or apparent change to the culture around them. Then one day they looked up and the tens of thousands had become millions. In a Communist country! Where real Christianity is outlawed! Where the worst forms of abuse were thrown their way!

         Still, they continue pressing on, pushing against evil in the way the Lord taught us. They press hard against a very powerful force the way one pushes a car down the road with the tires almost flat. This evil force is like a giant unseen mass of pressure suspended from the heavens to the ground that continually resists the Light and those in which the Light dwells. Yet, these unrelenting Chinese believers continue with marathon worship, unceasing prayer, forty day fasts, and incessant witnessing and evangelizing. They meet in secret house churches or wherever they can knowing they could be killed and tortured for it.

         And while the real Christians in China were growing from a few thousand to what is estimated at the moment to be close to one hundred million, most American Christians have become the opposite—a bunch of spiritually weak, lazy prima donnas and ultra-fleshly fakers watching their entire country go screwy and ultra-sinful without much concern about it or any plans to change it. 

        China will become a Christian nation in a few years while America is going in full reverse and the majority of Christians here remain willfully clueless.

         Until now.

         It started a few decades ago with a few thousand…

         © 2013 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. (Part 3 of 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.

Pressing On. Toward Resurrection. (Part 2)

         Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

         But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. [1 Corinthians 15:12-17]

2013 UPDATE: 19% of Americans Now Reject the Resurrection, Up From Only 7% in 2012 

         Unreal Christians make a mockery of real Christianity. They bring shame on real Christians everywhere. They refuse to acknowledge what is required. Their offshoot brands of Christianity are not for major leaguers, not by a long shot. Their “churches” are instead the haunts of adult T-ballers. Grown people acting like a bunch of five year-olds.

         They can’t catch, they can’t throw, they can’t hit, and they can’t field. They can’t do squat. They won’t do squat.

         They refuse. Put ‘em out there on the spiritual frontier in some foreign country where Christianity is banned and spat upon and see what happens. See how they stand the test where real Christians know they must stay in top condition and pray, fast, worship, study, and witness all the time as if their life and the lives of so many others depend on it, and such fake Christians will last about a second before they either get wiped out or become just another diabolical Judas.

         I don’t know how things are now, but when I was a mere lad of six in the first grade I had a big test the next day and forgot to study. I attended one of those schools where we all wore uniforms and the teachers wore black. And they meant business. I suddenly remembered as I was walking to school that I was going to get grilled that morning and quickly came down with the worst stomach ache ever known to any kid anywhere. I doubled over holding my gut. Of course, I was in no physical pain. My thespian skills were all for effect. I knew my mother was watching. I turned around acting all sick though I was perfectly fine and chugged back home, all the while doubled over and groaning as if I was gut shot. I knew the teacher and the whole class would humiliate me because I was not prepared. I thought it better to take a chance on my mother’s hoped-for compassion. She didn’t really believe me but did not force the issue, thankfully.

         Why is it that most Christians no longer have the proper attitude? Why do they not obey the clear teachings of the Lord? Why are they not dedicated? Don’t they know their soul is on the line? Do they know there will be a Judgment? Why do they think they can be disobedient or halfhearted and get by? Don’t they know they cannot be effective for God and be a good servant for others if they fail to do what is required?

         Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed 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. For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. [Romans 12:1-3]

         Enough of this country club garbage. Enough of this elitist, narcissistic, arrogant, clannish, and high-minded Christianity. Enough of this ridiculous man-made clergy-laity divide. The way up is down. The Lord Jesus clearly taught and demonstrated servanthood and humility, and that one must either follow His example or take a hike.

         And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” [Luke 9:23-26] [1] 

         Which brings me to the point of this article. This is the season in which we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. He was physically dead. He rose from the dead. He lived a perfect life. He never committed a single sin. He honored the Torah to the nth degree. He lived the most dedicated and disciplined life of any human being for all time. No one else has come within a universe of His perfection.

         But it was not easy. It was very difficult. It was difficult even on a daily and hourly basis. No single man has ever pressed on and walked out a life beset with so much pain and personal denial, with so much fortitude, ardor, and spiritual backbone. He was always focused, always strong, always on His game, and always working extremely hard doing everything that was required. He often walked alone among humans with little or no help from others. He was as dedicated as dedicated can be, and He set the perfect example for all of us.

         So we can sit around and be lazy and unproductive and a sorry example to the world? I don’t think so. Christians who realize they are called to the same dedication as the Lord are those who get with His program. They leave all other wimpified programs. They stop messing around with programs that don’t work and never will. They are forever seeking out the high ground, and higher ground. By getting down on their face, serving God and others, and putting forth the proper discipline, they’re climbing the Rockies, desiring that rarefied spiritual air attained only by the mighty few. They don’t want to be an adult playing around like a little kid, something most Christians have become proficient at.

         They want to be in the major leagues. They want to do what is required.

         They pursue the prize of the upward call.

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

“Pressing On.” Melbourne Mass Gospel Choir:

Pressing On. Toward Resurrection. (Part 1)

         There is a spiritual reality among Christians not often talked about or understood that is just as vital and all-important as any other.

         It is not popular.

         As in the case of physical persecution, this reality is often placed on a very high shelf, kept in a rarely used cabinet, or even locked away out of sight.

         Christians would rather not acknowledge its existence. And since most Christians have never seen much of a need for it and have gotten by without it, they would much rather keep it as far away from themselves as possible.

         The majority of those who refer to themselves as Christians are not even aware of it. Those that are aware often treat it is a non-entity or something to be shunned, and feel very uncomfortable whenever it may come up in a conversation or teaching session.

         Of course, there are many realities regarding real Christianity that nominal “believers” want no part of, and will argue against their necessity no matter how many Scriptures reveal their presence, point directly to them, and speak of their absolute need toward a successful and fruitful walk with the Lord.

         For example, fasting is no fun, but it works. Nothing can replace it. The Lord taught it, practiced it, and proved its effectiveness. But most Christians never fast. And most Christians will fight anyone who says they have to.

         I used to be part of a large congregation that taught and practiced fasting and prayer to a relatively high degree. We had to fast at least one day a week. We went on two-day fasts every quarter or so. Everyone was expected to participate and most did. We were taught to pray at least an hour every day. We had corporate prayer meetings that all were expected to attend. It was part of the culture. If you didn’t participate you were not doing your duty as a believer and member. We had all night prayer meetings. The church building and grounds were a center of spiritual activity and there was always something going on almost every day of the week. It was a hang out. A great place. Most members accepted and adopted this kind of prayer and fasting with no reservations, because: (1) It was clearly Scriptural, (2) It was very effective, (3) It was part of the culture, and (4) It was taught and mandated by the pastor.

         After a while, though, it became apparent that fewer members were complying. Some stopped because they had never disciplined themselves for such or made it part of their lives and spiritual lifestyles for the long haul. They were doing it because the group did it and they feared the pastor or being a deviant from the norm.

         It is the same reason so many people go to church or honor their leadership, denomination, or denominational beliefs and dictates. They are not so much into it as much as they are being put upon to do it. It is not really in their hearts to serve God necessarily, but more of a cultural thing. They feel good going to church. It gives them a lift of some kind. Their life throughout the rest of the week does not really reflect anything spiritual, however. They are certainly not fulltime, dedicated followers of the Lord, but feel they are doing enough to get by and that is all they really want.

         Once any form of persecution comes they quit. They get very angry when convicted. They don’t like it when their casual “walk” is exposed or their Biblical ignorance is revealed. When this happens, though, such people should be thankful for the apparent warnings. Because if real persecution ever broke out they would get destroyed.

         I like sports. I’ve played a lot of different sports. I know what it’s like to play alright and am also fully aware of the embarrassment of playing lousy. Sports will humble a person, regardless of how good one may be. You have good games and not so good games.

         The major leagues in any sport contain the cream of the crop, the best of the best, and virtual all-star teams of the greatest talent in the world. Yet there are times when these great talents look like idiots on the field or court and one wonders how they can be so boneheaded. The reality is that the action is so fast and the players so good and so much is at stake that the player who fails to bring his “A” game can look like an idiot pretty quick. A man should never step out on a football field during live action, for example, without being 100% focused and ready or he will get creamed and end up looking like a fool. It is hard enough as it is for the fully dedicated. Get just the least bit lax and someone out there will very quickly reveal your weakness and send you into next week.

         It always amazes me that out of millions of baseball players in this country, many of them very talented and dedicated, less than 800 are on a major league team at any given time. Some very, very good players have never made it to the show. How is this possible? How can someone so good be not good enough? Because there are others who are even better.

         It is said the hardest thing to do in all of sports is consistently and successfully hit a baseball. Most people can’t even see a baseball going 95 miles an hour from only 60 and a half feet away. Anyone who has ever stood in a batter’s box to face live pitching at that speed will confirm this. It takes an adjustment. Those that do it all the time do a very amazing thing. If they don’t work very, very hard and stay on their game they’re gone.

         But Christians? Well, most are taught that heaven is automatic. That God requires very little. That you can get away with anything. That such super dedication and discipleship shown by world-class athletes is completely unnecessary and even ridiculous. “No one can live like that!,” the false Christians exclaim.

         Hence, most of these so-called “Christians” and their dead, dull, boring, wimpy churches have set their own standard, a stupid standard, a rebellious standard, a very weak standard, and a standard in which sin and spiritual laziness is quite welcome. There is no salt in these places and very little light. They are composed of all those who would never make the cut on a good team or probably any team. They are no different than anyone else in any particular society and are a mere reflection of the world and not the kingdom of God. The devil is not the least bit afraid or respectful of them. And while they may look good now, there’s a hot place waiting.

         Meanwhile, real followers of the Lord the world over, in places like China and many Muslim countries, are currently lining up as those characterized in the following:

         Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. [Hebrews 11:35-38] [1]

         © 2013 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. (Part 1 of 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.

Embracing Suffering

         Though the Lord has always provided a place for me to stay, I have been essentially homeless for seven years. I put my house on the market seven years ago this month and began living out of a suitcase.

         I’m still living out of a suitcase.

         My house sold three and a half months later. I only got two legitimate offers. The Lord told me what the final selling price would be at least a month before.

         About that time, things were looking so bleak my realtor called to advise me it would probably be best to take it off the market. This was devastating news, especially since he was such an upbeat and optimistic guy. It was really bad news among an entire shipload of bad news. My life had by that time come completely apart but I kept manning the helm and being responsible. My heart was destroyed. I really don’t know how in the world I ever got through it all.

         When I received that phone call from my realtor I was out of town, pretty far away, and was making inquiries into a new job and a whole new life. It just so happened I was in the office of the friend of a friend at the end of the day, just visiting. There were four of us. After exiting to take the call I went back into the room and told the others. This was a crisis point. It was one of those things where you either got it right and won a spiritual victory or lost it all. Everything was on the line.

         The good news is these were godly men who knew how to pray. One of them had been on his deathbed in the hospital several years before with a very bad heart condition. He should have died but through the powerful prayers and faith of saints God healed his heart and raised him up. This man was always smiling. He wanted me to feel his grip and it was very strong. He was without doubt a living testimony to God’s greatness and love.

         I asked him to lead a prayer. Four men stood in a circle in that office holding hands. Eyes were closed. We began to pray. In the midst of the prayer a miracle happened. I suddenly had 100% faith. My whole former life was quickly coming undone but I suddenly had the faith that my house would sell. I had been very positive about the process before but this was different.

         God told me in no uncertain terms that the house would sell.

         I must reiterate the fact that the house had to sell, and sell quickly, or nothing else would have worked. Bad news was stacked up against me like backed-up cars on a freeway.

         After the prayer I quickly called my realtor and told him we were going full speed ahead and to keep working the deal. Exactly one month later on the exact day of the month I closed on the house at the exact price the Lord had told me about before. The selling price was not my asking price and there were counter offers, but everything got done just the way the Lord told me it would. Not only that, but it went right down to the wire. The closer we got to what would be the closing date the more it appeared that the house would never sell. The pressure increased dramatically. Everything hinged on the sale. But I had complete and total peace in my heart regardless of the negative circumstances because I knew what God had said. I kept telling others that it would be okay, that the house would sell, and that it would all work out.

         This was not blind faith. It was pure faith. After that prayer with three godly men the Lord told me what would happen and I was merely acting on what He said. I had to keep the faith, of course. And I had to maintain the course. And I did.

         It was an extremely difficult time. Everything was hitting me at once. Suffering seemed to be far too light of a word.

         This brings me to the point of this article. There are times we have to embrace suffering no matter how counter-intuitive it may appear to be. On a related front, psychologists talk of “going back into the wound” (as painful and apparently stupid that sounds), or healing can never take place. It’s like going through powerful white water rapids in a wimpy canoe with no surface guarantee of coming out alive on the other side.

         It is like going into the belly of the beast.

         The counter-intuitive nature of spiritual suffering most often causes us to reject it and stay clear of its embrace. But the Word of God clearly states:

         For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.

         For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many. [2 Corinthians 1:5-11] [1]

         Sometimes the pain is so great it does indeed appear unbearable. Sometimes we reach a point, like the apostle Paul, in which we despair of life itself. Sometimes the suffering is such that we consider life no longer worth living. But just as the sun goes down and brings on many hours of darkness, the sun will rise again. The long dark night will be over. The Comforter will come.

         The Lord rose again.

         We will rise again.

         © 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.