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THE MIRACULOUS DRAFT OF FISHES

But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. [John 21:4]

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DAY FOLLOWS NIGHT

And darkness is obliterated by Light.

Anyone with an ounce of spiritual understanding knows very well by now that a probable majority of those who call themselves Christians in America are spiritually clueless, especially when being clued-in matters most. For example, a great many instantly bought into the false virus narrative early in the year and most have apparently refused to budge since. As one who has been doing my part in trying to wake Christians up over the last few decades before it became obvious to all that most were snoring away and living in a nether world, and not being appreciated for disturbing their deep slumber and whatever Sunday school dreams they were having, now that it has become not only obvious put proven to be so, those who see know there is not only a Great Awakening currently taking place but also that said majority “did not know that it was Jesus.”

He’s right over there, standing on the beach. But they didn’t know. They had no clue. They failed to detect His presence. Why? Maybe because they barred the door to His presence. Maybe because they were working in darkness. They were working fruitlessly. They were having church and throwing their nets and preaching to one another and catching nothing and mainly spending much energy and effort achieving not a dadblamed thing. Sound familiar? “But that’s the way we do it!” Said one. “That’s the way we’ve always done it!” Said another. They fished all night and caught nothing. They were used to working at night catching nothing. It was part of their culture. This is the picture of our present dead head Christians who insist on an alternative gospel that coddles the flesh and pacifies simple minds.

UH OH. WHAT’S THIS?

Then the day began to break. That is, spiritual Light began to shine. Light started to come upon their dark little world. Their sight began increasing beyond the mere gray waters beside the boat to several yards out and beyond. Vague shadowy shapes began appearing off in the distance, the ambiguous outlines of great hills and landscapes separating from the dark gray sky, and then a few individual trees and eventually the distant shoreline. They were done fishing and were about to announce the benediction and head for restaurant row.

Then the daylight progressed to the point that a form became visible on the beach—it was a Man, a Man appeared, standing there alone—but who was it? They didn’t know. They had no clue. The Light had come but it didn’t register. They didn’t get it. Then they actually saw the Lord but didn’t know they were seeing the Lord, thinking Him to be just a man, a man they didn’t know. They should have known, because they used to know this Man. But they were spiritual deadheads and didn’t get it.

Then He spoke:

“Children, you do not have any fish to eat, do you?” [John 21:5]

They all began thinking, what? What’s He talking about? We never catch any fish. We come out here after sunset, work all night fruitlessly every Sunday, never accomplish anything whatsoever spiritually, then close the service and head for the buffet line before it gets too long. What does He even mean, have fish to eat? And who is this guy? He doesn’t look familiar. But He does appear strange and somewhat otherworldly.

“No.” They said.

AND THIS IS WHERE IT ALWAYS STARTS WITH THE LORD

He, of course, knows that a probable majority of Christians are a bunch of stubborn smiling half-wit lame brains who oppose the Lord more often than support Him. They wouldn’t touch an Upper Room experience even if there was money in it. They are absolutely fine and dandy with Christianity in the dark. Light makes them uncomfortable. It shines too close to home. It reveals them for the pretenders they are. And they really don’t like it when the Lord sends them a messenger, especially if the messenger is the Lord Himself.

So here we have a strange conundrum. These Christians were fishing. But they were not really fishing for fish. They were just going through the act of fishing. They would cast out their nets, draw them in with not so much as an old beer can, and repeat the process ad nauseum all night long. This was their life. It was their tradition. “My daddy taught me. My daddy’s daddy taught him. And his daddy did the same going way back. It’s all we’ve ever known and we ain’t about to change.” There could be no variation in the venue, no matter how dumb the whole thing was. But there was something in that question asked by the Stranger that wouldn’t leave them be. They felt like idiots answering Him but when they did a little spark went off in their closed minds. A few brain cells were suddenly activated and every one of them cocked his head in unison like a dog hearing something far off that no one else heard.

“Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you will find the fish.” [John 21:6a]

This was the dumbest thing they ever heard. You might as well have told them to overcome their dead church institutional custom with a real live jumping Acts Chapter 2 spiritual happening! And yet even though they had been told forever that all that Acts 2 stuff had died out with the apostles and there had never been any fish in the lake though we must go through the motions anyway and always have, they suddenly were compelled to obey the Stranger.

So they cast it, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great quantity of fish. [John 21:6b] 

What just happened here? We were always told this would never work! Where did all these fish come from? You would think that after a million casts by multiple generations over several centuries that one of them would have caught at least one fish at some point but they never did because they were fishing in the dark and kept insisting to all and all future generations to never change a thing because this is how we do it and people who actually catch fish are WEIRD, especially in the daytime. But the miracle before them began changing minds post haste. Light dawned. Recognition came.

“It is the Lord!” [John 21:7][1] 

Instantly, when something so incredibly miraculous takes place everyone immediately knows it is God. There is no question. And they tell everyone they know. And they lose all semblance of caring about church social standing and street cred.  

Of such are Great Awakenings.

All Christians must do is quit laboring fruitlessly in darkness, find the Light and walk in it instead of running from it, recognize the Lord instead of treating Him like a stranger, and do what He says rather than refuse His will.

Then people wake up.

Then the dead are raised.

Then the Gospel works.

Then your nets, whatever they may be, are miraculously filled to overflowing.

© 2020 by R.J. 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.

FINDING OUR ORIGINS: HOW DID WE GET HERE?

Christians believe in a Creator. We believe the Creator made us in His image. Christians are also highly intelligent and knowledgeable, and prove that faith in God and scientific fact are not mutually exclusive.

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Though proponents of secular science insist there is no God, they are also forced to believe in an unexplainable original uncaused cause. They must admit, no matter how distasteful it may be, that they’ll most likely never make it to the rainbow’s end. They have no idea how Creation, or the “Universe,” came to be at its earliest instant, though they content themselves with the highly implausible possibility they may figure it out someday. In the meantime, the surrender towel they threw into the ring remains there, above the canvas, stuck forever in suspended animation. For them, discovering the origin of Creation has reached a dead end. They can go no further. Though such anti-God proponents et al are saturated with scientific knowledge up to that point, if indeed their vast pronouncements of scientific reality are indeed factual, their otherwise powerful brains come up short at explaining beginnings. Could it be their absence of faith makes the original uncaused cause forever undiscoverable to them?

TRACING OUR ROOTS

For those who engage in the work of genealogy, often inspired to trace their personal family tree, it can be an intriguing and exciting adventure, especially when finding a slightly harder to locate previously unknown link in the chain. They continue going back in time adding more pieces to the puzzle. As they do the effort grows more difficult. The people one searches for become increasingly harder to find. Though one may have success in the early going mapping out ancestral generations, even going back several centuries, one discovers an eventual unwelcome interval when the trail is lost, when he must expend more time and energy on finding the next ancestor in line who has inadvertently perchance made himself scarce, than discovering all the other ancestors up to that point. Inevitably, whether Mr. Scarce or another after him is eventually found, one will reach a dead end. There will be no more ghosts of the past located.

Upon reaching this place, a person must simply face reality. The records grow scarce to the point of non-existence or at least it appears that way. With no written records one has nothing to work with. There is always the hope that maybe something will be found to grant another clue but the odds are against it. Even professionals with relatively unlimited budgets can only go so far.

ONCE UPON A TIME

As a way to remedy such an occurrence, what if one simply started making things up? What if one simply began creating ancestral characters? As an aside, we know that primitive people with no written records have oral histories stretching back into the distant past. They particularly honor the great ones of their bygone times who performed outstanding deeds to better the cause of their people. In time, the honor they give such ancestors becomes ancestor worship. And inevitably, such great ancestors become deified. They transform them into gods. Later generations approaching and appearing in the present accept such “history” without question. They believe wholeheartedly in the legends of their clan. It helps to make them what they are though much of their history is contrived.

Secular science does the same. Rejecting any idea of a Creator, an original personal uncaused cause, they insist on finding purely scientific and factual answers without getting bogged down in foggy legends or what they often term religious nonsense. On the surface, of course, this is good. On the other hand, however, without keeping an open mind to possible spiritual origins beyond their understanding, even though much in such a field is obviously suspect and easily refuted by facts, such people have a decided tendency to grow ever more cynical. It is why many of these people refuse to believe in God. The concept of God looks like a fairy tale. Some of them consider invoking God to be a cop out. And with such unbridled skepticism it is only a hop, skip, and a jump into outright mockery. With such an arrogant attitude which insists only on the use of what their intelligent but extremely limited brains can fathom, they eliminate the very place where the bulk of answers are found.

In the meantime, they must continue with their version of Creation based purely on the discoveries of the scientific method. They continue going back in time (by the billions of years) explaining to the best of their ability how it all came to be. And then they reach the same dead end. They are at a loss to explain it any further. Their only conclusion for the riddle of the Universe is an original uncaused cause. An unknown beginning. Even if they go back to a single point from which the entire Cosmos emerged or burst forth, there is no satisfactory scientific explanation for that single point. How did it get there? Do they think the process of minimizing the Universe to a single subatomic particle in the great distant past makes it easier to understand and accept our origins? Intelligent thinking people know better. The scientists know better. They still refuse, however, to consider a possible spiritual reality or something or someone beyond their ability to see or perceive.

So they make things up. In much the same way primitive tribes construct a legendary reckoning of ancient ancestors, filling in gaps as they go with fictional stories based loosely on suspect oral histories, so must science, the supposed facts people, come up with “answers” to fill in their knowledge gaps in order to complete the story, or their version of events. For backup they rely on one another. It becomes nothing more than circular logic or baseless biased reasoning. It happened that way because we say it did and we are the ones who know because we are the ones with all the credentials. And thus science destroys their one major caveat by becoming religion.

BREAKING FREE

I understood early in life that there must be something more. Looking around and sizing things up brought me to the conclusion, even as a kid, that things simply didn’t add up. Rather than plunge ahead into life with no thought of trying to figure it out, I always allowed for a belief in what may be termed higher things. Though unknown, of course, there must be something else out there I could not perceive but could at some point possibly discover. Such a belief and inevitable search allowed for a drag of sorts on doing what society expected and demanded regarding full attention toward excellence in completing a prescribed course. We understand that devoting full attention to whatever it is we must do makes the job easier.

However, as we mature and face our responsibilities, we collect out of necessity a growing number of hot glowing irons in the fire at the same time, each of which demands our attention, and therefore the idea of devoting full attention to any single one can only happen on an effective piecemeal basis. For those whose lives are so simple they only engage in a single activity and can thus give full devotion to it, I would think their chances of success would be relatively high in that particular field. For most people, however, they must devote themselves to any number of activities, engaging in them all at the same time in turn, like the guy who juggles bowling balls and meat cleavers. Life gets tricky that way. But it also tells us, through our previously unknown ability to excel at several activities at once, that we can spare some time for higher things as well, even though the latter might not be a top priority.

However, until our personal search for truth moves to the top of the list, we will never excel in that endeavor. And without such excelling God will forever remain in the distance.

© 2020 by R.J. Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

CIVIL WAR IN THE CHURCH REVISITED: ON THE DECEPTION OF APPEARANCES

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Three years ago I wrote a truth-revealing post that struck deep with many readers. It referred to an ongoing pretense problem within official Christianity.

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It is called The Real Civil War in the Church. There’s a link at the end. Here is a brief excerpt:

“Real Christianity is the only hope America has left and most American Christians don’t want real Christianity.”

THIS PRESENT DARKNESS

If you have control, if you have market share, if you have great amounts of money rolling in, and if you share great popularity, the odds of obeying the Lord are greatly lessened. In other words, who needs God when everything is going so well?

When such good fortune happens to non-believers they always fall for the notion that they are responsible: They worked hard. They used their brain. They proved themselves better than the competition. They’re good looking. They have great personalities. They dress well. All of these common bromidic conceptions are nothing more than false fronts to be deceived by.

This same dynamic happens to Christians. Spiritual pride is not a new thing. It obviously stems from personal pride which extends itself into a false persona with a Christian wrapping, proving that Christians can be just as self-deceived as anyone. Success is always measured in such circles in the same tired ways. Though a probable majority is self-deceived, it is not as if they didn’t have help. Christian leaders deceiving Christian followers has always worked extremely well for several reasons. One is that Christian followers always give way too much credit to their religious overlords and treat them as demigods or always above reproach. In other words, as non-human.

It doesn’t matter than we have the mile-long written Word of God pronouncing repeatedly the foibles, weaknesses, bad character, failures, and outright deliberate sin of such leaders. Moreover, their sin is perceived as not sin, or they were subjected to extenuating circumstances, or they were under too much stress due to the great job they’re doing, or their compassion caused them to fall to temptation, and saving the best excuse for last, the devil made them do it.

Real Christians have thus come to understand that Christian leaders are just as flawed as non-leaders, and they further understand that the Lord Jesus had to be sinless though subjected to the same temptations we all are, not only because He must present Himself for sacrifice as the spotless Lamb of God, but also because we all need a Leader to look to and follow who is never overcome by sin and failure. The rest of us humans do not qualify. This includes Christian leaders. This especially includes Christian leaders who believe themselves to be above it all. They prove by their actions, behavior, willingness to take control, and absolute unwillingness to subject themselves to God’s discipline and timing that they deem themselves worthy and better than the rest.

NEW COVENANT LEADERSHIP

This is actually an easy one but has become greatly complicated, again, by the wrong people in charge. Such people may have been given a spiritual mandate of sorts by the Lord but often have trouble accepting His limits. The key, and for good reason, is to always strive for the proper balance between the Lord’s overall absolute leadership in concert with His working through the challenging medium of humanity which always has a tendency to want more authority than God allows.

The way the enemy overcomes such limits is by attempting to convince certain people they are superior, greater, advanced, more worthy, etc. Christian followers must be convinced their leaders are much better than they, their followers, are or they won’t follow them. Both have become convinced of the superior-inferior fallacy and accepting of the false clergy-laity divide. There is no shortage of those who believe themselves qualified and reining them in is like herding cats.

Let’s say there is someone who photographs extremely well. Let’s say this person has a personal magnetism, a great personality, looks great in great clothes, and has enough confidence to almost make the devil jealous. But this person is not really into morality. You can plug this type in anywhere and use them as tools. Of course, some of the people who qualify as such, those with a conscience, know what they really are regardless of their many such blessings and will attempt the humble road and refuse to be used as props or manipulate others through their props. These account for only a few, however. The rest become politicians.

Sadly, however, many become church leaders. Before you jump my case on this please consider three men that God put forth before us long ago to prove this truth—the first three kings of Israel. They were King Saul, King David, and King Solomon. All three of these men had outward attributes far better than the rest. Saul was both tall and handsome, a living cliché. David was said to be a very good looking guy, was a stout warrior and leader of men, an excellent musician, and you get the idea. Some have described him as an All American Israelite. Solomon, one of David’s many sons, must have also shared David’s outward characteristics. His mother Bathsheba was obviously a babe and David was so smitten with her beauty he committed adultery and had her husband killed. That’s some powerful beauty right there. Solomon also shared this family characteristic as well but used it to the nth degree. He was so wise he had 900 wives. Right. 

The rest of the story is that Saul turned into a massive jerk, David acted like a jerk on several occasions, and Solomon became one of the greatest jerks of all time. All three did enough to bust hell wide open and rot there forever. But one of these three escaped that fate by having a quality most leaders and many Christians leaders do not possess. He was able, though he needed help, to see what he really was. When his spiritual sight was best David called himself a worm. He realized, however, that the Lord had called him to a high position in the eyes of the people but also that he must humble himself so God, the real Leader, would always be seen as such. Saul started out this way. So did Solomon, in a sense. Saul ended up going nuts and lost everything. Solomon became the first antichrist. David also sinned but followed it up with great, soul-ripping repentance.

This is what truly great people do. They know what they are. They know they are gifted but also know they are mere humans subjected to sin and temptation, and the best way to overcome is to take every opportunity to destroy pride.

BEAUTIFUL SPIRIT

“Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the LORD of hosts. [Zechariah 4:6][1]  

I remember when I was a rookie Christian. A bunch of us went to a small church in great revival. It was so awesome. The Spirit of God was powerful in that place. At some point I saw a young woman there. She was not physically attractive. But she was so filled with the Spirit of God her face was shining. Her eyes were bright. She had such a big smile. Everything about her exuded spiritual beauty. She was not physically attractive and yet she was spiritually beautiful. On the flip side there are stunning women with ugly hearts.

We know from Isaiah Chapter 53 that the Lord Jesus was not a physically handsome Man during His time here. He had no physical charisma. He had none of the outward qualities I described previously in this article. He did not look like Saul or Solomon but there are clues that he shared some of David’s characteristics. But we all know the bottom line. He was filled with the Spirit of God without measure. God is beautiful. And loving. And compassionate. And kind. God is 100% good. When He chose His human tabernacle, He did not choose to be the best looking. He did the same with His mother Mary, of course. Mary was likely just like that young woman I spoke to briefly at that revival and never saw again. Mary was not a looker but was the most beautiful woman on the planet as God counts beauty.

This is what the infilling of the Spirit of God does to a person. They become spiritually attractive because the Spirit of God is. And they operate from, by, and within the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is their strength and song. They are completed by God. Because of this they know what they are without Him, which is pretty much nothing. They therefore do not give in to pride. They determine they will not operate through mere humanness. Of course, the Lord helps such people in this effort. He demands we submit to His discipleship. Such will eventually burn off the spiritually worthless garbage. This should prove to all that many Christians, and certainly many so-called Christian leaders, never submit to His discipleship.

Rather than having spiritual eyes to see spiritual reality, they only see themselves and how great they are.

Instead of How Great Thou Art.

© 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.

Link to Cited Article: THE REAL CIVIL WAR IN THE CHURCH 

WAKE FROM SLUMBER: EMBRACE THE REAL KINGDOM

         Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” [John 18:36]  

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       The reality of the kingdom of the Lord is much more far-reaching than most Christians acknowledge. Many believers have made varying compromises toward this simple but extremely profound fact, that the Lord’s kingdom is thoroughly and unapologetically spiritual.

          It is something that cannot be replicated in the material world but that has never stopped Christians from trying. There have always been ongoing, incessant movements throughout the Church Age to demystify the nature of the Lord’s kingdom and thoroughly revamp it into materialistic modes and representations. There has always been the strange thought in many Christian circles that material representations and symbols are indispensable to a proper understanding of the kingdom, in that without such the reality of real spirituality is both unknowable and unapproachable.

        What this actually represents is complete ignorance of the Lord’s kingdom and an attempt to reformulate it into outward representations created to capture the mind and thus, the heart. But it doesn’t work. It only functions on a mundane level that many Christians are apparently satisfied with and only serves to cover up and cloud over the possibility of knowing the actual kingdom.

IMAGE IS EVERYTHING? NOT

         There is a reason the Lord God said from the very beginning to never make any kind of graven image or material representation of what is thought to be of the spiritual world or the things that comprise it. Invariably, if one is wont to create such, one will invariably create something sinister regardless of how benign it may appear outwardly. In the most obtuse sense, someone feels he must construct a small image to which he will direct his “spiritual” energy and thought, in that he may feel a strong need for such though completely ignorant of why or why it must be such. These efforts grow in time to full-fledged statuary of perfect human forms, something the ancient Greeks perfected centuries before the Lord’s time.

       We still have a great many examples of this ancient “art” and many more representations, of course, that have been created since. It gets seriously goofy when one lays eyes on the ridiculous stone figures of such people as George Washington and other founding fathers of America. This entire thing could not be more of a joke. I think Washington himself would be greatly embarrassed and would probably lead the charge in getting rid of them. One of the even more goofy efforts in this vein is the trend that began a few decades ago in constructing statues of baseball players outside major league baseball parks. Baseball players? Seriously? I like baseball but whoever signs off on this stuff needs to have their head examined.

         The Lord has always warned against any of this stuff because people can be so easily deceived and begin seeing these things as reality. But they are mere idols. Other than the Lord Jesus, every human being who ever lived is flawed and sinful regardless of what they or others may think. No human being is worthy of a statue nor is the human being in general worthy of such, nor is such a proper representation anyway. Everything about unregenerate humanity is actually antithetical to spirituality, the antithesis of honor, and screams out the need for humility.

THE DEFAULT MUST BE RADICALLY ADJUSTED

         Human beings are all going to hell without the Lord’s salvation. Regardless of all the good we know about everyone, there is also all the bad which must be acknowledged. Something must be done about it. Human beings can get so caught up in their own good looks or accomplishments, or the many material items they may have been able to acquire, and believe that all of that is somehow indicative of spiritual worth and self worth. It is not.

         Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” [Luke 12:15]

         The default eternal destination of every human being is hell. If something is not done to correct that then that is where one will end up. If one does nothing to change and attempt to get right with God one has no chance. But one must not only begin the process, one must see it through, no matter what it takes or how long it takes. Eternity is riding on it. The Lord stood before Pilate at His ongoing trial and stated this very clearly. Here was God Himself making it very clear that His kingdom was not of this earth. Pilate was an intelligent man but completely failed to grasp this truth.

         Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?”

         Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”

      Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him.” [John 18:33-38]

         Here was God. YHWH. The Great I AM. Standing before a mere human potentate. His rabid enemies right outside wanting to kill Him. This pretty much tells you all you need to know about the real nature of this world and of humanity. Why such a great divide? How did this happen?

         It is obvious that the real Gospel calls for radical change and transformation, something the majority of Christians have never engaged in and often shun. Many of these have substituted material representations and large material structures costing great amounts of money to build and maintain. Many have substituted counterfeit doctrines and teachings resulting in spiritual ignorance. What would the Lord say?

         Keep in mind that the Lord never wanted to be replaced by human leaders but allowed it only because people insisted. We also know He doesn’t dwell in houses made with human hands.

         Why then the temple? Again, the entire paradigm changed forever after the Babylonian Captivity. A second temple was built but it never had anything in the Holy of Holies. The Ark of the Covenant was gone and has been missing ever since then. The third temple built by Herod, that which authorities insist was actually still the second temple, was also empty where it mattered. Was this a sign?

DOING WHAT COMES NATURALLY

         And then the Lord came and they killed Him. They wanted the material. They wanted the money. They wanted the prestige. They wanted the honor. But the Lord said all of that was a complete joke and what one really needs is to get one’s spiritual eyes fixed. He stood before His inquisitors with nothing. This Man who made the universe, who created the planet, who set off Creation. This Man stood before them with nothing that they could see. And yet He was rich beyond measure. He would go through the process. He would allow them to kill Him. But He also warned them of what was coming and the judgment they would face. They paid no attention, just as most people pay no attention to what is required of them to gain eternal life.

         It would be good if all Christians would get spiritual. It would be good if we would all pay attention to actual spiritual reality. If we did the things the Lord actually told us to do it would make more sense. The things the apostle Paul taught regarding spiritual gifts would make more sense. All Christians would flock to spiritual truth and do all that was required.

         More Christians would wake from their slumber.

       While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.” [Matthew 27:19] [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.

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.