Tuesday, May 26, 2015

IDENTITY THEFT!


Marketing in the 21st century has taken a serious turn for the worse...All you have to do is listen to the news, watch a commercial or browse the internet. No matter where you go something is being thrust in your face that makes you think you need it or should be afraid of it. Every program has an agenda, every news story is bent, twisted and exaggerated, every talk radio show claims to discuss the unadulterated truth from an unbiased perspective. They want to give you the benefit of their wisdom, because just presenting the facts and letting you form your own conclusions would be far less interesting and far less lucrative. 

The definition of success in most countries today is determined by wealth and power. No matter what your nationality or skin color, you are bombarded with highly specialized marketing that daily interrupts your ability to decide what is right and wrong in your own mind, replacing it with what you should think. This usurpation of thinking and making an informed decision based on the facts at hand is undermining more than 5000 years of recorded human history. Public opinion, lead by the merciless and relentless marketing efforts of those in a position to gain wealth and/or power, have permanently stunted the growth of independent decision making on a massive scale. Shame on us for turning victims into criminals...Shame on us for turning wrong into right...Shame on us for making black and white into gray, so that no one can discern the truth from a lie, winning from losing, guilty from innocent, beautiful from ugly, good from evil, weak from strong, or war from peace.
Our Lord's message to the people in Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea ring loudly with His opinion based on personal observation of each city. To Sardis, He says, "I see right through
your work." "You have a reputation for vigor and zest, but you're dead, stone dead." To Philadelphia, He says, "I see what you have done." "You used what you had to keep my Word." "You didn't deny me when times were tough." To Laodicea, He says, "I know you inside and out..." "You're not cold, you're not hot..." "You brag that you are rich, that you have it made, and that you need nothing from anyone." Verse 18 in Revelation 3 says, "Here's what I want from all of you:"

  1. BUY YOUR GOLD FROM ME-it's been through the refiner's fire. Then you will be rich.
  2. BUY YOUR CLOTHES FROM ME-they have been designed in Heaven, you have gone around half-naked long enough.
  3. BUY YOUR MEDICINE FROM ME-with this medicine you can see, really see.
One of the seven churches or a combination of them, spells out your life whether you like it or not. These are not my words, they are His words of truth to live by everywhere and anywhere you go from birth, through death and into eternity. You may buy some silver or gold in this world because the marketeers have stolen your attention away from God. You may have purchased your clothes at one of the many places advertised every day, and finally we all make monthly trips to fill our prescriptions, so that we can live healthier and longer, but a prescription from Jesus opens your eyes so that you can see what He does! This sight fills not just your head, but your heart and soul. Only then will the perpetual noise of this world be filtered, so that you can live with contentment, in peace and harmony with true discernment and  God-given wisdom. This identity can never be hacked, stolen or altered. Your name is "indelibly"written in the Book of Life.



Please BUY from GOD, he is open 24/7.

It starts on your knees...

God Bless,

The Digital Disciple



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

THE DEEP FREEZE

                                          FROZEN IN ICE

It's been months since my last post...I said I would be out for surgery on my left hip, and as of today my mind is clear enough to begin my study. By the way,  our Heavenly Father has made it abundantly clear to me that I am behind. My surgery on the hip was amazing. Advanced capabilities, especially on wound closure and infection reduction are light years ahead of my last hip replacement some seven years before. I will start with the positive and tell you what happened to me in the areas of pain and medication management in the O.R., the recovery area and in my room. 

While it was not funny at all during the last week of October and all of November, my family and I were run through the proverbial 
mill. The good news is that I, quite literally, lost my mind for four days, because I was accidentally given pain medications that I have been allergic to for many years. Lack of historical information and incomplete current records, caused a meltdown in the recovery room, the hospital room and the first few days in rehab. When dealing with morphine, it's close family members and synthetic derivatives, you get a Chinese fire drill of the worst kind. These medications immediately caused hallucinations 
and no pain relief. I was in surgery for less than 2 hours, but spent more than 5 hours in recovery. I was writhing in pain and screaming at the top of my lungs, while the nurses and doctors tried to relieve the pain and wake me up at the same time. Despite all my antics, I was not awake, so I missed all of the fireworks. Unfortunately, my wife did not...


                                    PARTIALLY FROZEN IN ICE

But now I am back, very late, but back! I am still in outpatient rehabilitation, but I am without most pain and now must get my strength back physically and spiritually. There are 3 more churches that Jesus, through the angel of each church, makes known His heavenly opinion of their earthly lives. If you have noticed in the first 4 churches, Jesus handed out very few compliments, and coupled caustic, excruciating judgement on how they are really deceiving, not only themselves, but also the other believers around them.

Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea are the names of the remaining cities.  Each is away from the sea with their own established trade routes that are their lifeline to the ships in the port cities. Sardis was the furthest north west. Jesus said that this group of believers had a reputation for vigor and zeal. On the surface, this sounds pretty good, so you have to look closely...You see, a reputation is something that you are known for by things you have done in the past. Jesus is saying, you started out like a rocket with the true gospel and then, once the fuel ran low, you stalled, falling back to a place before where you began. Those of you who exist in frigid climates know that as long as your vehicle is moving, it's warm and functional. If moisture sneaks in and condenses, it is likely to freeze the flow of the fuel. What happens then? Condensed moisture that freezes might seems insignificant, until you can't start the vehicle. That little bit of moisture can stop the most powerful engine in its tracks, and then the heat soon dissipates and the whole vehicle stops, frozen in time and space. 


                                    COMPLETELY FROZEN IN ICE

Spiritually the same thing happens in our lives. Jesus calls this state of Christianity, "desperate," in Revelation. Nothing started can be finished as long as your spiritual fuel line is frozen. Sometimes moisture gets in without your direct involvement. Sometimes it seeps in just a little bit at a time, as you compromise yourself and/or your God. Sometimes you are just careless with your gift from Jesus himself, causing yourself to stumble and fall. Sometimes you trip over those obstacles placed in your path by the evil one and his followers. A frozen Christian man or woman is in the words of Jesus, "desperate." You can't see, feel, touch, or smell anything. Being physically alive on the outside, yet spiritually and/or emotionally frozen solid on the inside is worse than repelling down the wrong path. Going up or down means you are still able to move and think for yourself. You can contact God at any time. If you are frozen, you are in the worst place possible in this life. Believe me, I know about this first hand!

Sardis once teemed with life and enthusiasm for their Lord and Savior. Fortunately their "freeze," did not happen instantaneously. You are not flash frozen with no hope. It always starts with that little bit of seemingly harmless moisture that initiates the process of a frozen heart and soul. If you are experiencing the chill of Sardis in your life, it's time to turn up the heat, start the fireplace and move forward for God. 


                                     THAW OUT WITH GOD

Friday, October 17, 2014

BOOK OF REVELATION: CHURCH AT THYATIRA

We have just competed a review of sorts for the first three Christian churches spoken to directly by Jesus himself. In each case he compliments and even praises the good, but exposes each of their soft underbellies of sin. These first 3 churches were port cities that Rome depended on for shipping and receiving everything from captured slaves to fabrics, dyes, leather and steel for weapons. Each of them brought prosperity in their own way. The world had global commerce even then..

Further inland in modern day Turkey were the last four churches, from north to south, as follows:
  1. Thyatira
  2. Sardis
  3. Philadelphia
  4. Laodecia
Thyatira was unique not only because of their thriving early church, but also because they processed the imports from the port cities discussed above. They took the dyes, especially purple, and produced colored fabrics to be made into clothing. They took the leather and made belts, sheaths, boots and anything else you can imagine. All of the remaining 4 churches were part of
Roman ingenuity and planning that brought raw materials from any where in the known world, and then processed it into finished goods ready to be sold. 

Their Christian church had many superlatives, and Jesus even called their work, "impressive."
  1. They had the LOVE.
  2. They had the FAITH.
  3. They had the SERVICE.
  4. They had the PERSISTENCE.
Lastly, they improved on these everyday. However, all of these attributes were void of the main ingredient. According to Jesus this chuch had an exemplary Christian exterior presented to the world, but there were no roots on the inside from a contrite heart, fear of God or repentance. Their underbelly was and is EXPOSED to Jesus every minute of every day, just like ours. The exterior meant little to our Lord, if the foundation of their Christianity was not genuine on the inside. Please listen to these words because they are an indictment to me, as much as you! At the end of each church Jesus writes: "Are Your Ears Awake!" 
Often in life, were can hear things, but never really pay attention, just ask my wife. During any football game on a Sunday afternoon, I generally watch at least the 1st half...Susan often talks to me from the kitchen. I can here it, but I am not paying attention to her, I am focused on the game. Consciously or subconsciously men and women, "turn a deaf ear" and are only truly AWAKE to the sounds of football. Jesus receives the same deaf ear and lack of attention from us. He talks, and it goes in one ear and out the other, while we pay attention to what really has our full attention, like Balaam, Jezebel and the Nicolaitans in their day. Our God given tympanic membrane (ear drum), when vibrated by any sound, including speech, sends the signal to the inner ear, where it is interpolated and sent to the brain. When we are not listening to Jesus, just like my wife, it goes in my ear, but never makes it to my brain, because my brain is otherwise occupied. Jesus is relegated to vying for time within our brain everyday, but fortunately God's grace is sufficient.

So the question for us is, why do we not hear when Jesus speaks? We have discussed the analogous distractions above and in prior posts, but how are they related directly to those Christians in 96 AD. Those examples on their own don't mean to the average Christian today, except once in a great while my parents or grandparents would call someone a "Jezebel." Interesting that the stigma of that name still has meaning today. So the question remains, why do we not hear? (As an aside, what also scares me is the fact that many of us in 2014 don't really SEE or FEEL much either.) The answer is focus...Your focus, just like mine remains on those things we deem vital to us right now, in this life and on this earth. They are FIRST. Until your focus changes and makes God first, you have little to no chance of hearing what is in God's Word, whether your read it, study it or even memorize it. You also have little chance to hear your own conscience or your heart with all the noise in our lives. It's there, but even, "the still, small voice," gets muffled.
Thyratira was a bustling city. Jobs were plentiful and life was good. The church for all intents was a model of Christianity, because even Jesus recognized it from Heaven. So what's wrong with this beautiful and loving church? Ever hear of an X-ray? It's a high powered jet stream of gamma radiation that can literally see through your skin, flesh and blood to see what's inside! If you have a broken bone, an X-ray will enable a doctor to see the damage, because it cannot be seen with the naked eye unless you are Superman. Come to think of it, Superman is a good analogy, because he had X-ray Vision. He could see through walls and pretty much anything else. Now take your vision and add X-ray capability to your eyes, you get a weak approximation of how our Lord looks at everyone of us, every day. The inner workings of your soul are visible to him, just like the X-ray. If you are laying down watching TV or sleeping, he would see your perfect, but lazy self on the couch from the inside first. Now this is deep, so "hear" me when I tell you that Jesus does not rely on what's happening on your outside, including all of the good you have done for the church, for the widowed and for orphans or strangers. He died for what is on the inside of the people of God, the inside! Our souls cannot be white on the outside and black on the inside. That is where it counts NOW, wherever you live, wherever you work, and wherever you sin. Jezebel sinned by adultery and teaching free love. She caused early Christians to fail Jesus by teaching them, as their "prophetess" that they can defile themselves in the world of unmarried sex, without consequence . We thought free love was invented in the 60's...Not so, it's been around for thousands of years. 

The Nicolaitans took it one evil step further, by adding non-Christian doctrine and new idols of worship into saved people's belief system. Underneath Thyatira's beautiful, safe and discreet religious umbrella, sin slowly crept in, one small toleration at a time. Once you try on sin and have no immediate repercussion, it begins to feel good; and then you rationalize it to make it legitimate in your own mind. Having been there myself, you may not give up your salvation, but you certainly become tainted in the eyes of God and worthless in the fight against evil in this world, including the winning of the hearts and souls of others. The GRACE of our God is the only thing keeping you or anyone from immediate consequences; however, without repentance, it will come soon and so will He.

My surgery is next week, so I will be down until around Thanksgiving. FOCUS on Jesus and STOP rationalizing evil. Make God more important in your life than the TV, the computer or the book. It is the only way to break the cycle of sin that Satan deftly slides into your world. 


The Digital Disciple







Wednesday, October 1, 2014

BOOK OF REVELATION: CHURCH AT PERGAMOS






                                          MEANT TO BE READ OUT LOUD      
Interestingly I started this post several weeks ago; however, it had vanished when I opened it up today to continue. I had several paragraphs completed and was ready to finish it, but I had to start over. During this last week I found some new resources devoted to the Book of Revelation, that are frankly incredible. These important books will become a big part of my future research. They are filled with amazing clarity from two different men whose vast knowledge and unique interpretation of every key word provides an additional level of knowledge, so that conclusions drawn can be more accurate. Clarity is always in the eye of the beholder, but intellectually honest translation with no hidden agenda is rare. Not only do they provide an educated opinion of their own, but they also provide the historical context. From my vantage point, their views are didactic and filled with deep expository accuracy. The actual words of our God, in the Word of God, provide not only an amazingly powerful tool, but also insight into what our Lord has on his mind. In fact, in Revelation the Word of God is pictured as a two-edge sword.
                                     THE WORD OF GOD IS LIKE A TWO-EDGED SWORD

This was the most popular sword in the world at that time, because it was strong, sharp and symmetrically steady. In John's lifetime, this Roman sword was superior to all others. No matter the parry or thrust, this weapon could quickly cut left and then right, slash from any angle or lethally stab. It could be wielded with reckless abandon or precisely guided for maximum damage. This same sword could save or protect it's owner from certain death. John saw this two-edged sword coming out of the mouth of our Lord. Whether that vision was being described as an analogy or a literal divine sword, you come away knowing the Word of God's absolute power and infinite protection, physically, emotionally or spiritually. 

Today we have two-thousand years of sword making history, but even the infamous samurai sword not as sharp the pointed "V" at the tip of the sword that resembles a dual-edged scalpel today. I bring this up because despite the Word of God's power to cut, slash, or thrust, it could also be used as a scalpel to meticulously penetrate any individual heart or soul. By the way, this spiritual surgery can cut on the way in and cauterize on the way out, while simultaneously providing comfort to the weary, strength to the weak, shelter for the fallen and salvation to the lost.


                                     EVERY PAGE IS POWERED BY GOD      
Revelation 2:12, written to those in Pergamos begins with the reminder from the Angel to John, that the words of Jesus flow out of his mouth like a sword from its scabbard, and that what follows must be presented to the Pergamos church perfectly as directed. There is a lesson here for all of us... Each word from God is powerful and protective. Each word can cut out your sin, whether past, present or future, healing you as He molds you according to his divine plan not only your responsibilities in this life, but also the next.

The best example I can think of is my pending surgery. I will be having my left hip replaced at the end of the month. My surgeon with a set of scalpels will pierce deep to excise the damaged joint, just like the Word of God repairing your soul. Both can mend the problem, but leave a scar. I will carry this scar permanently, and it will remind me what had to be done for me to walk again. God will leave a scar in your conscience to remind you what had to be done for you to walk with Him again.


                                                                                        GOD KNOWS WHERE YOU LIVE
Jesus said, "I see where you live, and I know what you do for a living." Unfortunately, it is right under Satan's throne. These true believers were holding on boldly to the name of Jesus, but allowed themselves to be right smack in the middle of the crowd that believed in Balaam, who was an "an enemy agent." He tricked Balak into throwing "unholy" parties on their pilgrimage. They also socialized with the Nicolaitans. They mixed their belief in Jesus with the doctrines of evil, right under the nose of Satan. Those believers were rendered ineffective for God, and God said, "ENOUGH!" You cannot ever take one part Jesus, one part Balaam and one part Nicolaitans and try to mix them...Take a look at your church and what is condones. Is it under the seat of Satan, making the true believers ineffective and basically useless to their God? If Satan and all that this life has to offer cannot cause you to recant, the evil one will settle for making you permanently impotent in the eyes of Jesus.
                                                                         THIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO STAY THE COURSE               
If you, your church, your family, your friends and neighbors are caught up in this type of religious triangle, recognize it, admit it, and then change it. God knows that many have tried. It is NOT easy, but he promises you the "hidden manna" and a "smooth white stone" with your new name in Christ inscribed, and it's only for your eyes to see!!

Ever hear of the "hidden manna?" or the "white stone." Consider that for centuries manna fed the Hebrew nation and kept them alive, especially in the desert. If you recall, even when they got fresh manna daily for every person, some tried to steal it, some tried to hoard it and others just go so used to God feeding them, they expected it every day. In return God was never even thanked. "Hidden manna," was not for everyone, and we do not know if it was actually physical food. We know that there was a spot for it beside the altar in the inner chamber. The "Beit HaElohim,"or the House of God was a long hall, shaped like a rectangle, with the Ark of the Covenant at the rear. Entrance was only for the House of Levi at the beginning and later only Priests. It was where God actually had a presence. Special manna my not have been bread at all, in fact, I believe it has more to do with being fed spiritually, rather than physically. A special stone was used in ancient days as a gift to someone who had performed in some special way, above and beyond the call of duty. It was common for soldiers and gladiators to receive these for their victories. This stone could be any smooth stone, because the preciousness of the gift was in the engraving. Only you would be able to see and know your name in the next life, and you would be the only one to know until you entered his Kingdom.

God knows we tolerate sin in our lives. He also knows that we associate with others who believe in other gods that will eventually infect us over time. Balaam pushed the powers of lust and libation and the Nicolaitans did that too, as well as changed immutable doctrine about our Lord and Savior. When Jesus uses the word, "hate," we should stand up and take notice, without question. Too much fraternizing with the "enemies of God," can prove to be eternally fatal...If you want the hidden manna and the inscribed stone, you will gather everyone you know and love, while plotting another course.


                                                                                       
                                         THE SUPREME TWO-EDGED SWORD

God bless our continued understanding...

The Digital Disciple


Thursday, August 21, 2014

BOOK OF REVELATION; THE SEVEN CHURCHES


We remain knee deep in the early chapters of Revelation. I am purposely going slowly, so that both of us can savor the words of Jesus to the seven early churches. Each church is being held up to the light, and our Lord and Savior is evaluating their performance. Each one has their list of positives, and their list of negatives. These words are POWERFUL, deserving extra time and commitment to fully understand. All scripture has a level of difficulty, because we will never understand the nuances of Hebrew or Greek. Most of us have a hard enough time understanding the nuances of each mother tongue that we represent, making it easy for charlatans to manipulate the meaning and application of translation. Every time a man tries to interject "new" meaning or change the pillars of our faith, beware! Even if you are a new convert,  God has special, individual plans for your life. Here are just a few to stimulate divine enthusiasm:
  1. God Almighty has selected you by having Jesus and the Holy Spirit work a miracle inside of you. Your soul that was black and destined to be controlled by Satan has forever been made white and pure. Our reaction to that event was like winning a lottery, but over time it begins to fade and needs to be stimulated by the Word of God and prayer.
  2. Since you won the lottery, because of your belief and acceptance of Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are forever special. 
  3. The words that John of Patmos wrote in Revelation are direct, hard-hitting and individualized by church. God even sent an angel to oversee the process, so that is was done exactly correct. When I proof-read my posts, I read them out loud, then I double check with spell check and triple check with grammar check. Even then my lovely wife finds my errors, usually after I have published it.
  4. When Jesus is quoted in other parts of the Bible like the Gospels, it is the inspired Word of God for sure; however, in the Book of Revelation God sends an angel to do all the checking. For some reason, maybe the complexity and intricacy of the vision this passage is made from  incredibly precious words. 
We already discussed the Church in Ephesus two posts ago, so we are now ready for Smyrna. To find this on a map, you need to know that this city is present day Izmir, located in Turkey. Smyrna was a port city and was prosperous for the time, and yet the Christian community was extremely poor. Jesus said they had endured suffering, slandering and were subjected to Jews that were pretenders. Jesus even says that these Jews belonged to "The Synagogue of Satan." If that wasn't enough Jesus says that there is much more suffering ahead for them. Specifically he says that some of them will be put in prison for 10 days by the "devil", making this a kind of a prophecy inside a prophecy. Jesus then says that if they remain faithful, "even unto death," that each will receive a special crown of life, and with this crown all the "faithful" will not, "be hurt at all by the second death."

Ephesus was told that they lost the zeal and zest from the early days of their salvation. They were walking down the path of righteousness, but there was no spring in their step, proving that just walking and talking is not enough for our Lord. To be a complete example internally and externally, you have feel the joy, fear the Lord and openly give him the glory. When the newness of their salvation wore off, they lost their mojo. Jesus is telling them that mindless routines in our Christian walk with lead to complacency and compromise. If we religiously tread water instead of swimming with gusto, we will eventually damage ourselves and our Lord. Blind lethargy is what shakes out when Smyrna is evaluated by God. Jesus does not count your appearances in church or the number of time you pray. He is all about quality, not quantity. One prayer from the heart will always trump 10 prayers born of habit.
Ephesus lost its mojo, and Smyrna was headed for more suffering and slander. Back then Jesus was teaching and prophesying to all of the believers in the early church. My personal opinion is that all seven of these churches received distinctive exhortations by God for more than one reason. Jesus knew that they were just as apropo then as now. Every believer past, present and future needs this divine medicine. It is apparent that everything told to these 7 churches was to provide insight for the ages. John says, that he saw the "seven golden lamp-stands" surrounding our Lord, "even as he sat on his throne." What a privileged sight to behold!!

If you don't have anything in common with these early churches, you have missed the point...Believe me, God was talking to all the believers then, as well as all believers to follow over the centuries. It includes all the believers suffering in Iraq, it includes all those believers slaughtered in Nigeria, it includes all the believers in war torn Ukraine, and it includes every military believer around the globe, who must wonder when all the bloodshed will end. It includes the rich, the poor, the homeless, the persecuted, the slandered, and those being ridiculed each day for their faith. I guarantee that Jesus sees not only what you are doing on the outside, but knows the truth of every motive, feeling and emotion on the inside. He knew that that the believers of Ephesus had lost their mojo, just like he knows each of us at a level we cannot comprehend, and he promises that if you persevere and remain faithful, you will not feel the sting of death. Below is a synopsis of each of these Roman churches that date back to 300-400 AD.
  1. Ephesus – The desirable church that left its first love (Revelation 2:1-7). Ephesus was the influential capital city of Asia Minor on the Aegean Sea. Ephesus is now known for its huge metropolis of ancient streets, arches and ruins.
  2. Smyrna – The persecuted church that suffered poverty and martyrdom (Revelation 2:8-11). Smyrna was located north of Ephesus in a powerful trading position on the Aegean Sea known for its harbors, commerce, and marketplaces. The primary ruins of Smyrna are located in the modern Turkish city of Izmir.
  3. Pergamum – The worldly church that mixed doctrines and needed to repent (Rev 2:12-17). Pergamum is located on the plains and foothills along the Caicus River in Western Turkey. It was considered a major city in Asia Minor since the 3rd century BC, and became a Greek and Roman hub for temple worship.
  4. Thyatira – The false church that followed a seductive prophetess (Rev 2:18-29). Thyatira is located in western Asia Minor about 42 miles inland from the Aegean Sea. The ancient city was known for its textiles and dyeing trade, and is now known as the Turkish city of Akhisar.
  5. Sardis – The "dead" church that fell asleep (Revelation 3:1-6). Sardis is located on the banks of the Pactolus River in western Asia Minor, 60 miles inland from Ephesus and Smyrna. Popular ruins include the decadent temples and bath house complexes.
  6. Philadelphia – The church of brotherly love that endures patiently (Revelation 3:7-13). Philadelphia is located on the Cogamis River in western Asia Minor, about 80 miles east of Smyrna. Philadelphia was known for its variety of temples and worship centers.
  7. Laodicea – The "lukewarm" church with a faith that’s neither hot nor cold (Rev 3:14-22). Laodicea is located in the Lycus River Valley of western Asia Minor, a primary trade route between the cultures of the West and East. Laodicea was known as a primary hub for the Roman aqueduct system.

Next up will be the church at Pergamum. This is the church that accepted the "Nicolaitans" and allowed them to infiltrate their congregation of believers. You might call this the first unitarian or universal church, because they shared the beliefs of all religions.

May we learn that our walk on God's path not only needs discipline, strength and endurance for all of the challenges ahead, but that it must remain fresh with plenty of enthusiasm, joy and happiness. You know if you are on the path he has laid out for you, but only God and you know what really going on inside. The world will know if in addition to what you say, you remain enthusiastic when you are persecuted, full of joy because you are never alone, and happy knowing that you will pass from this world to the next in the blink of an eye.


The Digital Disciple




  1. 1. Ephesus – The desirable church that left its first love (Revelation 2:1-7). Ephesus was the influential capital city of Asia Minor on the Aegean Sea. Ephesus is now known for its huge metropolis of ancient streets, arches and ruins.
  2. 2. Smyrna – The persecuted church that suffered poverty and martyrdom (Revelation 2:8-11). Smyrna was located north of Ephesus in a powerful trading position on the Aegean Sea known for its harbors, commerce, and marketplaces. The primary ruins of Smyrna are located in the modern Turkish city of Izmir.
  3. 3. Pergamum – The worldly church that mixed doctrines and needed to repent (Rev 2:12-17). Pergamum is located on the plains and foothills along the Caicus River in Western Turkey. It was considered a major city in Asia Minor since the 3rd century BC, and became a Greek and Roman hub for temple worship.
  4. 4. Thyatira – The false church that followed a seductive prophetess (Rev 2:18-29). Thyatira is located in western Asia Minor about 42 miles inland from the Aegean Sea. The ancient city was known for its textiles and dyeing trade, and is now known as the Turkish city of Akhisar.
  5. 5. Sardis – The "dead" church that fell asleep (Revelation 3:1-6). Sardis is located on the banks of the Pactolus River in western Asia Minor, 60 miles inland from Ephesus and Smyrna. Popular ruins include the decadent temples and bath house complexes.
  6. 6. Philadelphia – The church of brotherly love that endures patiently (Revelation 3:7-13). Philadelphia is located on the Cogamis River in western Asia Minor, about 80 miles east of Smyrna. Philadelphia was known for its variety of temples and worship centers.
  7. 7. Laodicea – The "lukewarm" church with a faith that’s neither hot nor cold (Rev 3:14-22). Laodicea is located in the Lycus River Valley of western Asia Minor, a primary trade route between the cultures of the West and East. Laodicea was known as a primary hub for the Roman aqueduct system.





Thursday, August 14, 2014

VIEW ON INCREMENTAL EVIL



Incrementalism is the single best arrow in Satan's quiver...It is a subtle approach to change masked as genuinely positive, and since it always comes in slow, bite size chunks over time, you do not even feel that you have been deceived until too late. The Latin word, "increscere" means simply to to increase, but the rest of the word holds the key to understanding the true meaning and ultimate usage, and that is, "mental." In Latin it's "mentum" for singular or "menta" for plural. You may have heard this phrase used in many courtrooms by lawyers, "non compos mentis." It means not of sound mind or insane." Now take this knowledge and apply "insanity or non compos mentis" or incrementalism to a few examples such as:
  1. political changes
  2. biblical changes
  3. minority changes
  4. majority changes
  5. belief changes
  6. value changes
"Change" has been the mantra of new generations for centuries. Almost all change appears to be logical and rational on the surface. It's when you understand that often, just below the surface there are many less obvious agendas at work. For example, moral boundaries in this decade have been stretched beyond recognition. How do you change the moral fiber of a 300 year old country? One small, bite size chunk at a time, so that no one in their right mind could be against, like feeding the hungry, caring for children, and assisting the old. All of these are fundamental concepts are found in our Bibles today. We are told to care for all those in need out of all that we produce. Meals on wheels, no child left behind, Social Security, and Medicare all were all positive social changes at the beginning with the best of intentions, at least most of the time.

Remember the days when if you had a problem you settled it between the two parties. No lawyer, no courtroom and no arbitration was ever needed, just plain old, common sense. In the OT, Moses said, "An eye for an eye." It was a simple, but perfect metaphor and justly expedient. Today, it's no longer justice being pursued, because of a conflagration of laws, both new and old, have been torturously manipulated, so that we can't tell the victim from the criminal. Consider these examples of manipulation below. They all started out on a righteous path before men made their changes over time.

  1. The Word of God has been translated, decoded,  and deciphered by all mankind over the centuries, relegating it to an excuse for division, strife and hatred, none of which was ever intended by the authors. It started out in small pieces over time. Each book and/or letter was carefully crafted just like the Book of Revelation by John of Patmos. Jesus told John exactly what to write, so that the future would no longer be an enigma to believers, and it was meant to be understood by all. The Bible was never meant to cause wars, damage nations or be the subject of man's dissection and interpretation, and yet for the last 2000 years we have never stopped our ridiculous machinations. So the book itself, started with inspiration and best of the best of intentions by the writers. Regardless that holy book became the worst possible justification to slaughter, starve and altogether disrespect by color, country and creed. To this day, mankind uses it to justify sinful acts everywhere in this world. Part of its eternal beauty is that it was meant to bind us together, not sacrilegiously used to rip us apart.
  2. Dr. Martin Luther King was a Pastor and Christian first, while remaining a staunch supporter of civil rights and civil disobedience. He has been gone now for 46 years. If you actually read, "I Have a Dream," you will understand that nowhere in this remarkable speech from 1968 did he mention the use of force, rioting, or killing. He was careful to spell out in detail how his dream could be accomplished by establishing all us as equals, not only in the sight of God, but also in our everyday lives and in every community. Not only did he give this speech in our nation's capitol, but it has been recorded for posterity as the most important speech of the 20th century. Dr. King wanted to bring people together, not separate them. He wanted every color to play, work and raise their families together without fear and without prejudice. Like our Bible, Dr. King's speech has been ripped apart, misinterpreted and misrepresented for 46 years. It was the right time. It contained the right words. It was the right speaker, and yet at this point in time it continues to be abused for the cause of racism. Slowly, but surely his words have been twisted and turned to meet someone's desire to fuel the fire of discord, strangling the minds and lives of many.
  3. The Founding Father's of our country gave us, The Declaration of Independence, and the US Constitution. Many of us have never read these documents much less studied them for their own edification. I watched Jay Leno one night when he had his reporter asking questions to people in LA. With microphone in hand, he asked the crowd what they knew about these two historical documents. Half had heard of them, but couldn't remember anything of substance about them. The other half never heard of these historical documents. Just like one and two above, the passage of time and the short-term memory of mankind has diminished, distorted, and all but destroyed the original intentions of the writers, one bite sized chunk at a time. "We the people" has been slowly transformed into we the government right before out very eyes. Today our principles of governing have morphed from values founded in our country's history and a genuine love of God, to an ever growing octopus of confusion, collusion and conflict. There are so many tentacles and moving parts of the ungodly leviathan we have made, we don't even recognize any branch of the US Government anymore. The historically impartial Dept of Justice has now become politicized, polarized and paralyzed. Legality based on the laws of our land has, slowly but surely, been eroded, and now jurisprudence everywhere makes it up as they go along. If they don't like it, they ignore it or change it on their own. Our congress is so corrupt, so arrogant, and so not interested in serving, "We the people," it forces you into denial, because you can't believe that they would stoop so low. And finally the President of "change" has done anything but make genuine change with the country's best interest in mind. His job has been politicized and publicized to the point that right and wrong, good and bad, and any other boundary by our laws are all virtually extinct. 

Currently I am knee deep in the book of Revelation. I am on my second complete reading, because it's difficult to comprehend the truth of John's visions. The examples above have been predicted in the Book of Revelation. Not only am I trying to determine what God said about the days, weeks and years leading up to Judgement Day, but I am attempting to understand the verbal images of the end of the world as we know it. The opinions about this book could wallpaper the world; however, I do not believe that God was being purposely esoteric, so the answers are there. They just require more digging and more praying than any other book in the Bible. 

"We the people" of God are participating in this nefarious incrementalism every day. For example, look hard at the time you spend with God. Chances are that over time, you have done what most of us do. You short-change God and your soul for something more important, and it seems to have a good, rational reason. Really our logical minds have replaced what is supremely important, and made something less important than God become more important than something going on in your life right now. Satan smiles every time we sacrifice the health and happiness of our soul for something that produces immediate results, gratification or satisfaction. 

One thing about the mystery of Revelation, that is unmistakable. Our God wants all mankind in heaven with him. Clearly, even after the rapture, everyone will have the choice to believe in God or not... I remain fascinated by his long-suffering and magnanimous grace over centuries of being maliciously maligned, denigrated, disparaged and vilified, by every nation on earth, including his "chosen." 

There are many reasons I believe in God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Certainly I can see the mountains, the rivers, the trees, the flowers, the sunlight, and feel the wind. He makes himself known to every one of our senses, if we just allow him to do so. I see the animals, the insects, the birds, and the fish; each with a purpose in a God created eco-system created to sustain all life and waste nothing. But most of all his love is truly beyond compare. After all these years of our sin and disbelief, he still cares. After killing his planet, his lakes, his streams and his wildlife, he still cares. After all the arrogance, the stealing, the manipulating, the killing, the idolatry, the gluttony and the swearing, he still cares. I could go on, but hopefully you get the point. Finally, the Book of Revelation is explicit about the fact that you can call on and stand up for God at any time and in any place. So if you do not believe today, and you don't believe tomorrow, please understand that you will get a last chance to repent and believe with your whole heart. He did it in Golgotha for the thief on the cross next to him, and he can do it for you. It's always been that way, and will continue to the end.


The Digital Disciple






Friday, July 25, 2014

THE SKILLED ART OF COMPROMISE...

It is apparent to me that much of my success in business over the last 40 plus years stems from an innate ability to COMPROMISE. Being able to bring the two opposing sides of a disagreement together is an art. Most attorneys make their living this way, and each of us in our own daily lives go along to get along. Creating a "win/win" scenario is the ultimate compromise, where both parties walk away feeling that they have won something. Here are some common compromises from our every day lives:

We compromise daily with our children pretty much every day. When they are very young we bribe them stop crying, go to sleep or a myriad of other ways to control their behavior. It's a win/win. We compromise with our friends and families to keep the peace, on a regular basis. Everyone wins. We compromise with God, especially if we find ourselves over our head in deep trouble of one sort or another. Ever say to him, "if you just get me out of this, this one time, I will never, ever do this again?" You attempted to compromise with Him by promising him better behavior for His intervention. Young ladies, how many times have you compromised with your boyfriends, and vice-versa? Men, when you get pulled over by the police for speeding do you create a story for why you had to break the speed limit in order to get a warning instead of a ticket? You are trying to force a compromise. 
I could go on with how we compromise with our wives, our bosses, personal situations, professional situations and finally our religious belief system. 

Just realized that I put wives right next to bosses...maybe a Freudian slip!
In Revelation 2, we find our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, talking to John of Patmos, It is a relatively small island off the coast of Greece. The Roman Empire used this island for the most hardened criminals that were never to mix with society again. The emperor at that time tried to have John burned in oil, but it failed, so in frustration he decided to get rid of John a different way, permanent banishment. To be sure this is the same John that wrote the Gospel of John and John 1, 2 and 3. This Apostle named John lived more than 90 years, outliving all other Apostle's of Jesus Christ, and he maintained a very special relationship with God from the moment of his salvation. He is said to have written the Book of Revelation when he was 92 years old...

Did you ever have a dream that was so real that it just blew your mind? I am talking about a dream in living technicolor, that caused you to believe that you were actually there, and everything that happened was absolutely real. My dreams are usually related to what I am experiencing in my real life at the time. If I have a deadline to meet, for example, I might dream about my frustration in getting the work done. Most of the time these are relatively short, black and white dreams, that are mostly forgotten when I awaken. Once every couple of months, I get a BIG dream. It seems to absorb my entire being. I have been told that I can cry, talk and scream, as my mind lives the dream. If I wake up and then fall back to sleep, usually I pick up right where I left off...

John's vision was provided by Jesus, himself and confirmed by an angel of God, so that when we read Revelation we must be cognizant of the fact that Jesus is talking and telling John exactly what to write verbatim, and an angel confirms it's accuracy and authenticity. At the beginning of his vision, John sees and has explained to him that the 7 stars and 7 golden lamp-stands have special meaning. They represent these seven churches in what ancient Rome called Asia:
  1. Ephesus
  2. Smyrna
  3. Pergamum
  4. Thyatira
  5. Sardis
  6. Philadelphia
  7. Laodicea
So let's talk about church #1, Ephesus...The first 7 verses are dedicated from God to them directly. Jesus starts out by complimenting everything positive that they are doing as a Christian church. Basically he tells them that he knows everything about them, including their deeds, their likes and dislikes, their hard work and even what they think. He knows they do not tolerate wicked people. The problem is, according to Jesus, that they have forgotten the "love" they had in the beginning. He says, "repent and do those things you did at first."

When we were "babes" in Christ, we were enthusiastic and supportive of every good cause. The smile on the outside truly reflected the new, inner beauty of a soul having been wiped clean. You were in Sunday school, you were in church, you were in prayer meetings, you sang in the choir, you witnessed for Christ, and you made a difference in other people's lives. Remember when you last read and studied the Bible on your own? Remember the last time you were on your knees before God? Remember the last time you told someone on the outside what happened to you on the inside? Remember the last time you chose God and what you know to be right, rather than compromise yourself and your Savior?

In Rev. 2:6, Jesus says that he likes the fact that their church "hates the practices of the Nicolaitans." Jesus then says he hates them as well. The actual Greek words mean that they "utterly detest them with no chance of change." This is a compliment to those early Christians at Ephesus, but it is the first and only time that Jesus uses the word, "hate," that I can remember. So it begs the question, who were these people, and why are they utterly detested by Jesus. 

The etymology of the Greek word, "Nicolaitans," involves two words put together. This compound word combines, "Nikos and Laos." Nikos means "conquer or subdue", and Laos means, "the people." Lots of people conquer other people; however, in this case the Nicolaitans were early religious conquerors and compromisers. Initially this group was Pagan, then they became Jews and finally they became "Christians." They taught that if you take Christianity, mix it with a dash of Paganism, and Jewish law and lore, everyone can be as one. All you had to do was water down your belief system enough to tolerate others in the name of unanimity. They attempted to get Christians to alter their belief system, a little bit at a time. I call it INCREMENTAL APOSTASY. It creeps in slowly but surely, and initially you actually embrace these minor changes. After all it brings everyone together. Over time these small, but poisonous cells form a tumor, and then the tumor metastasizes into your lymphatic system, destroying your ability to see good from evil, right versus wrong, and ultimately godly vs ungodly. Once it conquers your Christian lymph system, you will become useless to God, because you have no solid foundation or point of view.

"Conquering and subduing" God's people for any reason is hated by God. You must hate it too. Incremental growth of compromise in each of us concerning our Biblical founded faith in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, will make us soft and susceptible to anything Satan wants to whisper in our ear...

Please do not compromise one jot or one tittle, no matter the ridicule, the punishment, the ostracism, or pain. Remember that John wrote this from prison and used Jesus's exact words. Pay attention and don't let your Christianity ever get frayed around the edges, because it's only the beginning.

Sorry for the length, but I had much to say...We will continue with the other 6 early churches over time.

God Bless,

The Digital Disciple




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