Christmas is a problem for followers of Jesus because it is a manmade holiday. We know that the early church started to take over some pagan holidays and move the pagans out or assimilate them into the new order of social-political- religious world of the late first century after the fall of Jerusalem in AD70. We followers don’t want to show disrespect but the world has taken over all these holidays. Nowhere does the Gospel record state any date or exactly what transpired. We know the “Magi” men who visited were almost two years after the event, but the “3 Wise Men” look good in our plays, displays, and cards we send. The Virgin birth is a Holy event and our good intentions during the season may fall short of adoration the brave Mary deserves, but we try to show our love for the Savior and give generously every day. We as followers are not commanded to celebrate the holidays. We have liberty in Christ to enjoy each other and practice our “One Anothers” We do enjoy the days off, the family(?), and the gift-giving, feasting and fellowship of good friends, neighbors and family all around the Christmas table, fire, turkey dinner, misiletoe& holly (yes I know it is of pagan origin) and decorated tree. What we do for our savior is each day is lived for Jesus, not just special days or festivals. We are called to be followers, not fans that just show up for game days so God can count noses and nickels on special days we argue over. We are called to give every day to those that need what we have, “The least of These” not each other that are fed and happy off of the produce of God’s bounty. Is there a lonely widow/er in your community? Is your neighbor disabled? Any hungry?
Celebrate the “Good News’ of the Gospel with them during this season.
Matt 25:31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.
32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,
36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Do you believe the statement Jesus makes? He claims to be the only way to God, the One God of Israel, The Ancient of Ages, The Alpha and the Omega. The Word of God. Does anyone find salvation in any other?
We need more conversations on where we want our Church to be in the next few years and beyond. I don’t see the answer to our problems as yet but we must have new bottles for new wine. We can allow the world to see us so divided and so scattered in our divided camps and ask them to join us??? That is absurd! Quit doing that! Get out of your comfort zone and meet your neighbors, care for them, pray with them and for them. Feed the hungry, clothe and shelter the homeless, check on and care for widows and widowers in your community. Be the Salt that savors your neighbors life, shine the Light to the lost, wash feet of your brothers and sisters.
Take a leap of Faith and learn what God’s Word says for yourself. Find someone to read and study with. Learn God’s word from God. The tools we have online today are handy, fast and reflect in some cases the latest discoveries in history and science.
Click on the highlights and read what the Word says about the Water of Life! The link will take you to one of the many bible study sites for an in-depth look at the different translations and all kinds of study aids. Before you get lost in the weeds and rabbit holes on the net, take time to read God’s Word and speak to Him directly for wisdom
Read the Word in Greek of the original writings by using Strong’s Concordance
17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.
Are you thirsty? Or full of the water found in the world? The original books or letters of the Church were written on fragile products that were around when Paul was a pup. None of the very first originals are extant or laying around somewhere like last weeks best seller. Most of what we have is dated after 150 AD for scraps and pieces of the pages that were laboriously hand copied by people in monasteries, public houses(library) or church buildings. After 70 AD the second temple is destroyed by Rome and
The Babylonians destroyed the temple Solomon built and may have taken the Ark or not depending on who you ask. That was where God met man in the form of the high priest. As a follower of the Way of Jesus, we are the dwelling place of the El Shekinah and God speaks through His Spirit to our spirit. After the destruction of the first temple and the second temple being crushed and destroyed along with the city of Jerusalem by the Romans,
there was no Jewish temple in Jerusalem and we won’t see the return of the Temple that God dwells until we see the New Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven. We are the Temple and the presence of God is within us. Learn the lesson of the “Woman at the Well”, “God is Spirit we must worship Him in Spirit and Truth” Jesus spoke to this outcast, a racially divided woman the powerful truths of God. He is Spirit! He is outside of our physical boxes where we try and place the Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Wonderful Counselor. The discovery of the dead sea scrolls verified the accuracy of the Old Testament or what the devout Hebrew calls the Torah and Prophets. The books were gathered in several stages to come down to us as our many translations and copies. The most recognized translation is in Old English of Shakespeare and contains some prejudice towards the Roman and leans toward the protestant church somewhat. All that has led to a lot of division. The King James Version is one of the worst translations and yet will be OK to use if you know what to watch for. I love the language of the KJV and love to read it out loud. The words are Old English and carry some peculiar meanings in some passages. The original books or letters of the Church were written on fragile products that were around when Paul was a pup. None of the very first originals are extant or laying around somewhere like last weeks best seller. Most of what we have is dated after 150 AD for scraps and pieces of the pages that were laboriously hand copied by people in monasteries, public houses(library) or church buildings. After 70 AD the second temple is destroyed by Rome there was no Jewish temple in Jerusalem and we won’t see the return of the Temple that God dwells until we see the New Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven. We are the Temple and the presence of God is within us. Learn the lesson of the “Woman at the Well”, “God is Spirit we must worship Him in Spirit and Truth” Jesus spoke to this outcast, a racially divided woman the powerful truths of God. He is Spirit! He is outside of our physical boxes where we try and place the Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Wonderful Counselor. The discovery of the dead sea scrolls verified the accuracy of the Old Testament or what the devout Hebrew calls the Torah and Prophets. The books were gathered in several stages to come down to us as our many translations and copies. The most recognized translation is in Old English of Shakespeare and contains some prejudice towards the Roman and leans toward the protestant church somewhat. All that has led to a lot of division. The King James Version is one of the worst translations and yet will be OK to use if you know what to watch for. I love the language of the KJV and love to read it out loud. The words are Old English and carry some peculiar meanings in some passages. Check out Hebrews 6:7 for an example. Would a person reading God’s Word in “Middle English” or “Early Modern English” be considered speaking in tounges if the Holy Spirit is leading them to read? We can use online tools to find the Greek meaning of the words of the bible. We can form our own opinion and come to our own understanding of the Truths of the New Covenant. Link here.
is one of the oldest manuscripts of the early Church. Written somewhere between 100-150 AD or earlier or much later depending on who you ask. This document could predate some of the New Testament writing. The document outlines the doctrine of the early church. In no way do I see the document as more than a man’ ideas copied from God’s Word with a man doing the editing. Does the document add to or take away something for or from the Gospel? Do you know where all the rituals, rules and regulations came from in your Church history? How much of today’s divided Christianity can say when this (fill in your practice) practice or tradition started? Does the practice reflect what we see in the first-century church of Acts? Or a later addition that may or may not be inspired or blessed? Example: An old covenant tradition, a rule of the Torah or prophets example is used in our worship of Jesus as God enthroned in His Kingdom. Where is the follower of Christ to find our altar? our High Priest, our Reverend, our Father, our Saints? If I understand Galatians, especially 3:26-27 our women are not servants beneath men but equal with the men, If there is a rank or level of Holy that one and all can not achieve without prejudice or malice then that is not holy and is of Satan. The offices of elder and deacon are either in a proper place within the body or it is not. Is the humble servant missing from your meeting? Does your church follow the “church” traditions of the middle ages or the early Church of Acts?
Why do we mix covenants that say things we don’t need to say, do things we don’t need to do, require things we can’t do, or do things we should not? Where do we find a need to pray to another mediator to cry “Abba” to our God? Is God not powerful enough that He needs anything? Has He not told us what He likes, and does not like? “Obedience is better than sacrifice” 1 Sam 15.
As Paul states,” Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the LORD ’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back? For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.” Romans 11:33 NLT
I love the language of the King Jimmie version because I read Shakespeare when I was a child, I know most of the goofs and missing/added words by various powers since the ink dried on the Apostle John’s pen. “Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him*, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? This is the disciple which testifieth of these things and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” John 21:24-25
Imagine how the Noah and the Ark story would have worked in today’s “Church” Gen 6:22
Noah, “Shem, where is the invoice for those boards from Lowes?”
Shem, “Dad the sale was on and Ham said you would not mind if we saved a bundle over the top dollar Acacia Wood and they were all out of Gopher Wood, Yeah Japeth asked around the construction people that are experts in building stuff said it does not matter what wood you use besides all that data is old and out of date, Man! that gopher wood won’t float long anyway, nobody builds rafts out of it. “Look dad! The stuff is known to sink after a few months so that wood won’t save us!”
Would the boat the boys would build in my imaginary story Float! Or save anyone?
What did Noah do? Gen 6:22
You know the rest of the story, the real story is that Noah obeyed as did Moses when handed the plans for a tent of meeting, the dwelling place of God “El Shekhinah”. God did not need it. Men needed a place to say to the nations “Here is our God” like God requires a Holy place to meet us, a set apart place. Men require physical objects in worship. God requires perfection in obedience. We need Grace, not ritual and trappings of pomp. The very best of the people in the history of the Jews were as filthy rags, of the worst sort! From David to Judas all were failures in keeping the covenants. In the presence of God, we need all sorts of props and helps to look good. We think this helps, the show, the grand buildings, the crowds of fans, the excitement, the feeling, the correct words in the ritual make the magic work while the Holy Spirit hides in shame over His creatures. We do the rituals with pomp and circumstance to rival courts of kings and rock concerts while our King washes our feet for the example that we ignore as we plan the program. “Our Righteousness” is still filthy rags We say unity and do divisive things. We claim to do all Jesus commands. We fail and can never “Do” enough!
Paul wrote the Church at Corinth about the ministry we each have been offered. This is 2 Corinthians 5:13
If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Original art from Silas Reeves private collection
To those of the world that choose to not believe in our God and deny the ressurection, I have little common ground to build on. I will keep loving them and pray the Spirit moves them in and out of my life so that I can be ready for the experience to explain why I am “Out of my mind” to my neighbor and the next person I meet in my journey to home. Our duty is to be the person God has gifted and equipped to be. We defeat His purpose when we serve ourselves first and hoard God’s bounty. We cheapen the message when we claim His name as a follower yet live the lifestyle of a fan. We confuse the seeker when we say ” Here is Jesus! He rose from the dead, and then tell kids “Here is Santa, he sees you when you are sleeping” “If you are not good you won’t get a reward” or “The devil will get you” from various deities and sources, Example: Easter bunnies, tooth fairy, Halloween witch. Our children are raised on vapors of reality in a world where nothing is Holy or sacred. When you meet someone and tell them you are a radical follower of Jesus do you get the stare? The one where the person looks for snakes in a strange place.
No, I don’t handle snakes. Or do all those old testament rituals, rules and requirements under the old covenants of God with a man or a nation. My self-being an adopted child that assumes I am a Gentile obedient to the council of Acts 15 and no other, and “The Perfect Law of Liberty” as demonstrated by Jesus Christ on the Cross. James, the half-brother of Jesus, said “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” Your neighbors are waiting to be loved. When I taught High school I discovered that no one especially teenagers care what you know until they know you care. The same with your neighbor.
Does your building and programs drive the mission or does the mission drive the buildings and programs?
God created us for His purpose. We all have free will and choice to accept God’s payment for our rebellion, our sin. Jesus Christ is your savior or He is just another religious person in history. If Jesus is the “Mighty God” of Isaiah then He is the Wonderful Counselor of the same passage. Jesus is the Way or He is a side show on the road of life? “What must we do to be saved? is the question? Acts 2: states that Peter said ” Repent and be immersed for the forgiveness of sin, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” The text here is linked to a page that will give you the Greek and English word use. I like to know what the original Greek said so I can use the mind that God gave me to understand His Word. It is so difficult to understand! You must be a scholar of the Bible or a little child to understand God’s Word. As I become a student of the New Testament I rely on the Holy Spirit to use God’s Word that I read to come to me when most needed. When I talk to God I ask many foolish questions, many questions about like the disciples and the questions they had for Jesus. When will I die? What about him? When are you coming back? I know those answers somewhat and I don’t fear the outcome but like a patient going into surgery, I fear the physical unknown part of death. Time stops for those that are dead. What do the dead need of time? How we die is not important or significant to me. Funeral preparations past a sanitary conclusion to my physical body are a waste and poor substitute for sincere grief and grace. Don’t look for me here I am gone, Celebrate! Praise God you can party at my departing service. Give my clothes and junk to the poor. Sell any valuables and give the money to the poor. Take care of widows and orphans. Glorify God, not me. Did you bury me at sea? The sea will give up the dead. Will I be asleep? The same God that formed me in the womb will take care of my soul when that time comes. I will not be there I will be in the welcome open arms of my Savior. God saw all the days of our lives before we were formed in our mother. I pray that He finds you a humble servant and obedient follower of Christ.
Acts 2:37-39 Peter gives the Keys of the Kingdom to all.
When I sailed offshore I felt closer to God than ever before. I know I listened more to His word when alone, sailing, reading God’s word, offshore in God’s hand. Floating in His water by His law of physics, propelled by the wind blowing in the directions assigned by God for that day in our timeline. The event you can recall, even remembers with sudden clarity a minor detail that meant so much to the outcome of the adventure you went through, only by God’s Grace can be the answer of your safety! To say my survival after all of my prodigal, misspent youth and many sins I repented of with bitter tears were due to luck is a fool’s gambit. To trust in luck is like the Greek gods of the sea, Neptune and Zeus. If they are real, like mother nature according to weather news, then my God rules them and destroys them. They are not gods I follow.
Only would a fool say there is no god and nothing matters. They lose nothing, God allows the unbelieving choice to choose, they gain nothing for they believe nothing. Then another says “We have god here in our box. We will share free to all that adopt our rules and rituals of our religion” or worse we divide up into camps and squabble over which pope was married or what to eat on the day and time set by those in power that Jesus will come by and collect nickels and noses. We go so far in organized religion as to divide over music, names, titles, race, politics, and things of this world and many other foolish reasons that won’t matter in the New Heaven and New Earth! All that ritual and rules are worthless without Grace.
Time at sea becomes a visual thing and if I doze off I may not recall how much time has passed in my sleep or how many miles the boat has traveled and in what direction. Time only mattered when I want to know exactly where I was and where I was going.
By myself at sea, often sleepy and relaxed with a good breeze to fill the sails and the roll of the Gulf Stream pushing my vessel forward. I would doze, my bread timer would ring and wake me. A few times sleep had me and I awoke in a dream we had overturned, as before in a storm in the Gulf. For some waking may be faster than me. When I sleep hard deep sleep I have no recollection of time or space until I emerge to reality. First I am aware of is it night or day? God set that in place in the beginning so we would have rest & work time. If the compass is visible or the GPS is working I will determine my position. Am I where God wants me to be? My prayer to God is that we will go where He sends us. My face in the wind will tell me where my sail will have to bend for the direction I want to go. I may have a perfectly logical position or place to be and many good reasons for being there. Wow! Tell God your plans and listen for the laugh. One of the things about owning boats is you are never satisfied and all boats are compromises. We should never compromise on the command Jesus gave us to love one another. No matter what bad decision by me that was made back then, and there were many of them. I will place my faith with the creator of the earth, wind, and sea. If I am sailing without a compass and a map or the high tech gps, radar, EPIRBs, and radios I would want for safety and I have the means to obtain these items, my choice not own them would be foolish. I sailed before the GPS, we followed maps with compasses left over from WW2 in the jungle. Yesterday when I was a rebel and I could do anything I wanted to. Today I want all God has to help me serve Him. Today I want to please God by following the example of Jesus Christ in loving my neighbor. Yesterday I was lost with bad maps, local guides that were lost, bad intel on the terrain, an unjust war. I saw the Light and have studied God’s word. I use the word as light for my feet and follow Jesus. When I look for the Church of Acts or of Corinth, or Ephesus in today’s world I am hard pressed to locate them. Sometimes we have found them in buildings, sometimes in homes, on a boat, on a beach. Where and what day of your calendar did Jesus cook breakfast after giving fishing advice to his friends? Was that Church? Why not? One day time as we know it will be no more. For God, that type of time that has been His domain and how He views our world is beyond our understanding. Jesus told the woman at the well. “Time is coming it won’t matter where you worship. God is Spirit! “
I will shout “Today I will do my best to love my neighbor, forgive my enemy and wash the feet of my brothers and sisters” Nothing else matters, and everything that matters is Love’s opportunity.
When I got into trouble at sea it was my mistakes, bad decisions and poorly thought out plans. Much like warfare the quick and the dead are accounted for regardless of religion, race, national status, gender or any other qualification than all are sinners and lost. Most people drop God right about here. It is like you sailed off the map and ran aground. Now you are mad at the map maker for your choice to sail off the map. You pay for the damage and the tow, you and those around you pay the price for all we do in our rebellion. God forgives but physics still says falls at home is number 1 killer. My uncle left home when he heard that news. God is never surprised by our questions or actions.
Maybe if we look at our compass and direction in the wind, our position by the GPS we can find our way home, maybe God is very pleased with you right now where you are, doing what you are doing with love. If I was truly lost as I was a few times and had trouble, I used a VHF radio to call for help from the Coast Guard or Boat US. I would consider anyone with a boat of any serious use or size have BoatUS service. In fact, I feel it would be a foolish as a person that rejects Jesus because of the poor church models religious men have created and fed to the sheep all these years. Most people reject God and following Jesus because they had a bitter experience with someone or a church. Some have developed atheist views to cover a personal or shameful reason they are bitter with God. Foolish to allow someone else to push you away. Pour Grace on your bitterness. There are many good people in institutions that are doing good things. Some denominations run hospitals, schools, and shelters for the homeless, widows and orphans. Some are worldwide with charity and doing good things. When will we acknowledge that we are divided and those divisions keep us broken and weak? Jesus said the world would be won when we are One. Many of God’s people are sincere in the Faith they know and are told. They just don’t read and study God’s word on their own. Tradition and family give them an excuse to continue in the rut of religion and attendance. My call is to be a radical Christian, a follower, never a fan after knowing Him. Fans show up for ritual and follow rules, rulers and titles and all sorts of stuff I can not find in the New Agreement we followers of Jesus have with God. Fans are content to watch and pay $$ to support bigger and better programs and events to draw more fans. Fans enjoy being treated especially nice. Followers treat everyone special. There are no clergy or lay people in the New Testament Church. No power struggle ever helps, politics and power are Satan’s home game, he will win if you try to play. The leaders of followers of Christ are foot washers, servants and they love their neighbors. The foot washing is a metaphor for acts of service, things done for your brother and sister out of love, not the world’s love, of lust, strife, and evil done by men to others.
If I had known I was to have lived this long I would have sailed a little more and done a little more, but now I realize as Soloman that all is vanity, all is worthless. Only what is done for my Savior, Jesus the Christ, Mighty God, Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father!