Are You Serious?

It can be difficult to know who is!

It’s always been a challenge for me to figure out and I suspect others probably wonder  the same about me! Of course at times I wonder how seriously some things actually should be taken. Perhaps it’s because of my analytic nature that I focus so much on details and have a tendency to be more literal in how I understand things. I’m someone who’s quite serious,too much so in fact,who’s trying to interface with a read the fine print “Just Kidding” world.

This fixation of mine seems to play out most noticeably in my relationships, both personal and professional. I don’t think it’s really so unusual or remarkable in any way,on the contrary! I see this mindset as being rather common hence the familiarity of the phrase in our culture. However,when combined with any sort of OCD or perfectionist tendencies it typically leads to disappointment and frustration on the part of all who’re trying to understand the appropriate roles of the respective parties in any given situation.

Enough setup?

Looking back on my spiritual journey which for me began at age nine or ten it seems to of,almost without fail, follow a distinct pattern. I find myself being drawn into “all things spiritual” until I reach a point where I can’t find answers to my questions or perceive “it” or myself, as somehow being in contradiction or one of us not living up to the associated claims. All of this is based on or evidenced by how I see “God” manifested in the world, in myself,and in other Christian people I know. At times the answers I do find seem to conflict with what’s taught or simply lead to more questions.

Here’s one…

Is Christianity the perfect ideology for people with low self esteem?

The idea of redemption was never hard to sell to me…As a youth I was so full of self loathing that the idea of being someone other than myself or a better version of who I was seemed like an answered prayer! (I’m still rather frustrated on this score) There are times that I think Christianity would be the greatest thing in the world, that it’d be worth screaming from the rooftops about if it simply did what it claims to do! I suppose that yet again I’m just “doing it wrong” but it’s awfully hard for me to conceive of a God who loves us so much and yet Who would make it so complicated or confusing to be redeemed or to get a taste of that victorious life we’re teased with!

In first Corinthians fifteen Paul talks about our faith being in vain. I don’t think I’m taking too great of an interpretive leap here to juxtapose the relevance of his statement to our spiritual lives. To me He seems to be saying that if Christ didn’t walk out of the grave then what we believe is in vain. If we’ve been crucified with Christ,born again and are in truth new creations in Christ which will someday rise just as He did,why are so many of us still dead in our sins?

“Because someday hasn’t come yet dummy and as long as you dwell in this tent of flesh,you’ll fight this battle regardless of how you feel about it”…The Holy Spirit

WOW! He’s in a mood today…

Anyways, my point is that if our new lives in Christ aren’t a miracle of some kind isn’t what we’re believing also in vain? I understand the eternal aspects of this statement but I also have to believe there are significant implications for our here and now lives as well! It is a bit confusing when you read what Paul says in Philippians about his own righteousness.

Philippians 3:9

KJV And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

Or verse 12 of Chapter three in which Paul goes on to say…

12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

And of course this confusing admission of his own inadequacy.

Romans 7:14-16

KJV For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

Obviously Paul saw himself as a work in progress! That he was running a race,not that he had finished one…

There are however ways to know we’re on the right road!

Galatians 5:22

KJV But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

Certainly I”m not SO arrogant to in any way expect more from myself than Paul did!

Or am I?

Or pigheaded enough to be unforgiving towards myself when God the Father has already seen fit to forgive my many sins…

Surely not!

WHEW! Glad that’s been cleared up…

So, then what am I really so unhappy about or what are my real expectations?

Oh not much…

I once heard an analogy when I was in addiction recovery that related to what’s known as “recovery time” and “clean time”. It served to help distinguish the differences between them. The phrase “clean time” relates to how long someone has gone without using whereas the term “recovery” is an indication of the healing that’s occurred in someones life, of how much of the causative component involved in a persons addictive behaviors have been dealt with. Clean time is also known as “white knuckling it” the idea being that a persons sobriety is a function of their own “self will” and that inevitably it will fail.

Recovery time is so much better because once we understand the reasons we used to begin with we’re much,much less susceptible to their influence. Nothing is quite so liberating to an addict as understanding why it’s not just “okay” to be who they are and sober but how actually fantastic it is! They’ll never go back to using because they understand how much better off they are where they’re at! It’s no longer a struggle to stay sober,because from this new perspective you know that YOU’VE WON! And that you can live in victory over your addiction because you have something that’s SO much better!

That’s what I want from my spiritual life!

I’m tired of white knuckling it!

And I can’t stand the frustration of the failure that comes with it.

Which is what most religion comes down to in my opinion

and I definitely don’t believe in that.

What I do believe in is love.

And it’s transformative power!

So what I want is a personal encounter with it, or Him…

1 John 4:8

KJV He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

After all that I’ve been through…

all that I’ve seen and done.

I have to be honest enough to say I don’t have it!

which gives me the perfect opportunity to end this post using my title and the likely reaction to it by some!

Are You Serious?

The Sacrifice of Praise

In our society, if we don’t abide by the law, chances are at some point we could find ourselves answering to a higher authority. And then there are the laws of physics, far more absolute and impartial, but even they are subject to a “higher law”. Here’s an example…an airplane is much heavier than air and therefore according to the law of gravity it cannot fly. But when the law of thrust and air flow are introduced into the equation guess what? It flies! Because of the over-riding principles of a “higher law” which has dominion over it,what was impossible becomes possible.

The other day I was talking with a friend and I mentioned how glad I was to be “On this side of the cross”. I’d been reading some of the old testament books and was overwhelmed by all the sacrifices they seem to be constantly making. His reply to me was “We still make sacrifices,the primary difference being that everything we do now to honor God has to do with our hearts and not our hands!”

And he was right!

Mankind is still under the law,the wages of sin is still death! And of course the great news is that Christ’s death on the cross paid our sin debt freeing us from that penalty! Christ fulfilled the requirements of the law on our behalf and gave “Whosoever Believes” the opportunity to come under a new covenant based on higher precepts,or commandments. Ones that can’t be satisfied by anything less than the sacrifice of our own most precious possession…

Our Love!

Jesus told the Apostles this…

John 14:12

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

Healing people,feeding thousands with practically nothing,raising the dead,turning water into wine, these are just a few of the things Jesus did! How is it possible for us to do these things which are impossible based on the laws we understand? By understanding a higher law!

1 Peter 2:24

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Didn’t Christ die to redeem us from the curse of sin,sickness and death? If that’s true,and I believe it is, then the manifestation of what Jesus said then is possible in the here and now! More than that, it’s a foregone conclusion…ye were healed! The victory has been won! We simply must, by faith, acknowledge this truth and the power of the higher law Jesus the Christ died to make available to us!

We’re called to proclaim His Kingdom!

Luke 10:8-9

 And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.

Matthew 4:23

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.

The kingdom Jesus spoke of is a place where there is no sin. No sickness,pain or death. It’s a restoration of The Father Gods creation to it’s original condition as it was when He pronounced it “Very Good”. Not crippled,or sick, or afflicted in any way

Genesis 1:31

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

The gospel is “Very Good News” and I believe that the stronger our grasp is on the reality of the higher law which rules there, the less power the laws of this present, perceived kingdom can have over us! We simply subscribe to a higher truth,Gods truth! We choose to operate in it! Choosing to believe what He says about every aspect of not only our lives but the lives of others and the world as a whole…in short,by our adoption into His kingdom we adopt a whole new belief system that transforms everything about our lives! As a result, we’re empowered to speak to the deception’s of Satan’s kingdom and command them to flee!

Healings, deliverance’s, manifested blessings of all kinds!

Wouldn’t you like to see that?

I believe it’s possible,in truth,I think it’s required!

But first, would you give it up for God?

Whatever it is that you love most…

Just like Abraham did with Issac.

Except Gods not asking for your son,

He wants YOU!

To perform a sacrifice of praise, to put your pride on the altar…

And then stand back!

1 Peter 2:5

 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

How Do I Know?

A story was told to me many years ago about love. About how when we’re truly loved by someone whom we see as being wonderful the effect is transcendent. We’re lifted up, empowered, the phrase used in the story I heard was…

If I said it was because of the way He so faithfully provides for the physical needs of my family and I, which I believe He does, I wouldn’t be able to explain why it is that God loves everyone but some in this world go without.

I could say that I know God loves me because He sent His Holy Spirit to be a guide and counselor to me who leads me in all things but His Spirit is like the wind. You can’t actually see it…even though you can easily see it’s effects!

Would it be easier for people to understand how I know if they could experience His peace? If instead of feeling anxious about their circumstances,both present and future,they could cast their cares upon Him knowing He cares for them?

 That’s a lot of “If”s” in one sentence…

I used to walk through life carrying heavy burdens that I couldn’t put down! I know Jesus loves me because He took my burden of condemnation and sin and made me free!

What about the way Jesus is working in my life to heal me from all of the wounds I’ve suffered from the weapons formed against me by my enemy, continually transforming me by the renewing of my mind…

Would my testimony be convincing?

Oh I know! It’s the joy I feel in my life which is the fruit of His Spirit! It’s very attractive to others but can be so difficult for them to accept because it’s a gift!

All of us have placed our faith in something. Mostly in the things we can see like science,technology,and of course people! Every time we pay attention to anything we give it tribute and power in our lives. If we place our faith in Christ it can be said of us that though we may be in this world we’re not of it.

Our faith is the only requirement for us to receive our Father’s real love! But have you ever tried to explain what love is to someone? If so,you no doubt know it’s futility.I can tell you how much God loves you, I can show you in His word how He’s shown it, I can let His love shine through me for you to see, I can show you a world of miracles based on His love for you, but would it be enough?

The choice belongs to each of us,to decide what it is we believe.

Of course the responsibility for those choices is ours as well!

In His Presence!

In the past few weeks just prior to Pentecost Sunday and in the partial week since it seems as though I’ve been thinking, talking, writing, reading blogs, articles and “tweets” about, watching video’s, and listening to other people talk…

all about the same thing!

It’s just like Bill says in this video, between bites of lunch…It’s a move of the Spirit, a fresh presence of Jesus one can only describe as an “encounter”. Jesus is showing up in miraculous ways and reaching out to His Church, to the people who are truly seeking Him and who are dependent upon His Holy Spirit to empower them for His mission works which are to begin within the church first and move out from there. Some are being healed, others delivered from crippling emotional wounds, still others from stagnant and prideful religiosity, The mission is the same, it’s a great co-mission between Gods Holy Spirit, Jesus and through us to deliver the captives! The miracle is that none of the weapons formed against Gods children can prosper in His Holy presence which is being poured out, He causes the lame to walk and the blind to see!  The manifestation is His Glorious light and His presence that we carry with us into this dark, and dead world!

It’s said that fear is the beginning of wisdom, in that verse to fear means to be in awe of who God is. We’re taught that no sin can come into the presence of a Holy God and I believe that’s true but why? After all, Satan is the father of lies but didn’t Satan come before God to talk to Him about Job? Could it be that our misunderstanding of this is whats keeping us from experiencing a life changing fullness of His presence? When we finally come to a place where we know what we are and seek to repent be forgiven, are we still afraid to come into His presence because of our attention wrongly being placed on the sin’s of our past and those we’re yet to commit, on OUR profound unworthiness instead of His agape love? What if the reason no sin can be in Gods presence is simply because of how much it breaks His heart?  Some don’t believe God has feelings and that the descriptions of such in His word are allegorical and simply for the benefit of our understanding but I don’t agree! All of us love our children, can you imagine having them paraded before you in any condition other than being in perfect health and how that would affect you?


I think some people’s perception of God and the idea of being in His presence are scary thoughts because they imagine the experience being something similar to that of Dorthy in The Wizard Of Oz!

Surely at some point in your life you’ve encountered a stray dog who’s been severely mistreated by people. Even though it may be starving and you’re holding out food to give to it, it will approach you with fear and almost against it’s own will,with  it’s head down ready to run at the first sign of your displeasure. Sadly,  because of their life experiences that’s how many people feel about love and so consequently they also feel that way about approaching God who actually IS love!

I want a visitation, a personal encounter with Jesus! Like the Israelites I want to pass over the Jordan into the presence of His blessing and rest. Joshua Made two piles of stones that day to mark the significance of what had happened, the first one on the bank from smooth river rocks that were taken out of the Jordan and another in the middle of the river where the ark stood as the entire nation walked past. I believe the stones he used to make the second pile were gathered from the land and were in a much rougher sharper condition than the smooth ones he first used, their roughness symbolizing our present sinful condition. The smoothness of first stones was the result of the influence of the water, placing them in the river represents the Holy Spirit’s work on our hearts of stone and just as it was with the Israelites who did cross over into Canaan it took an act of faith to make the waters part and repentance or the circumcision of their hearts to enter in! Through my experiencing the presence of Jesus and His wondrous love,  I too must leave my own sin or “Egypt” behind before I can cross over into and all He has waiting on the other side for me!

Something About Faith

If asked, many Christians can to some extent explain the basis for their faith. What they say may seem intangible,because it is by nature “unprovable”, but in their hearts, it is fact. They’ve never seen the Red Sea part, or manna fall from heaven. Never seen a blind man given sight or watched an altar be consumed by fire. What they’ve seen are very personal revelations of God in their lives, an answered prayer or an unexplainable peace in a time of trouble. A timely blessing or provision of some kind but nothing that couldn’t be perhaps explained otherwise by someone with a mind to.

John 20:29

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

Faith is an interesting thing in that the more of it you have, the less of it you need. Faith brings such abundance into our lives that we see the substance of it manifested, and furthermore, we know that based on the faithfulness of our God that His provision having been seen in both the past and the present is tantamount to proof of it in the future.

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

The story of the prodigal son is the story of man. Who left his first estate to wander in rebellion and ultimately found himself in squalor.  Upon his return, he sought only to be a servant considering himself unworthy, but instead his father welcomed him back as a son with great joy!  It’s our knowing who we are in Christ and that the Father isn’t mad at us, and mostly that we are still loved that form the crucial basis for practically everything about us! Our faith is simply the acting out of these beliefs!

I’m saddened that so many Christians have instead chosen to continue on as the servant. Don’t misunderstand me, I am a servant as well, but the relationship I’m lamenting is one which denies our real identity and birthright.  Paul described himself as being a “bond servant” which is someone who serves out of love, not obligation!  Christian people who serve under a feeling of unworthiness or  condemnation will seldom ask of the Father the things that a son would because they don’t believe they’re entitled to ask let alone to receive them. Faith rests on the knowledge that we ARE entitled not only to ask but to receive all good gifts and blessings from the Father through our adoption as sons which was the purpose of Christs work on the cross!

At this time of the year, and in this economy, most of us are thankful to have a few presents under the tree. Why is it that we have sold so short Gods gifts and his intentions toward us? Perhaps we’re not expecting anything great from Him this year.  I believe He wants us to pray for peoples healing’s, and for all blessings, not as “beggars” but as representatives of the reality of His love in this world!

I was inspired to write this message by the reality of it’s truth in my own life and circumstances. As we’ve continued on in our ministerial endeavor Gods purpose and provision continues to unfold before us in some very amazing ways.  It’s encouraged me to experience more and more of what God has for me, and wants to do through me! There truly is “something about faith” that lifts us up out of this fallen world and into an unimaginable world of possibility which is made possible merely because we believe that it is so!

Down to the river…

river shots001

Hi! Altonwoods here, (not my real name)…And I’ll be your guide today as we go “down to the river” to do whatever it is that people do at the river! Yesterday was the last day of school around here and my daughter has been bugging me to take her. I’ve also been wanting to try out the new camera I bought my wife for mothers day, (awwwww, so sweet of me!) another reason is I wanted to try and get another shot of this plant that I found last year about this time down here!


This is it…It’s like a giant pink honeysuckle that smells amazing! I found out it’s called a Mountain Azalea…So , we went in search of it but we were too late! It had already bloomed. After that we decided to go down and see the big spring that’s kind of back in the woods.

These are pictures from last year but it still looks the same. We parked the car and started walking down the trail, the dirt down there is just amazing, black and moist, the product of hundreds of years of composting, plants and flowers blooming, sun is shining, life is so good! That’s when something happened, my wife Grace (not her real name) slip’s and falls trying to cross a small creek in a very muddy area. I heard her saying that she was going back to the car and a moment later she falls AGAIN! Boni (her real name) and I are over by the spring and I hear her screaming! When we got to her she was laying on the ground, crying, telling me that she thinks that she’s torn her rotator cuff and that she feels like she may pass out from the pain! (she fell backwards and “caught” herself, that’s the way I tore mine)

So, several things go through my mind just then…

1) All week long we’ve been talking about Jesus,healing, doctors, prayer, medicines, Christians, etc…

2) Was I going to have to take her to a hospital?

What happened next went exactly like this.

It’s Boni and me, crouched down next to Grace, listening to her wail, and then my daughter Boni say’s…

“Somebodies gotta do something!”

I knew what I had to do, so I reached down and laid my hand on her arm, and asked for her to be opened to the healing that was promised to us by Christ, and that her pain would go away, then I stood up and watched as she, after just a moment, got up and walked off a distance, I heard her say “Thank You, the pain is gone!” Which I really must admit was a surprise to me in a way. I believe in healing, I just was a little shocked that it could happen like this, all I know is what I saw…

So we just went on with our day, thanking Jesus!

river shots012

Here we are at my favorite swimming hole, we ate sandwiches and chips and we drank root beer! This is the Eleven Point River, most of the water comes from Greer Spring a few miles upstream. It’s a trout stream, the water temp is about 58 degree’s and it takes your breath away when you go in! Here’s a few more pic’s…
river shots011

Beautiful Boni with a ham sandwich in her hand

river shots010

Our heroine, “Grace”

river shots009

And of course, yours truly! signing off from, “Down at the river!”


What does it mean to be blessed? We say that we’re a blessed nation, constantly thanking God for our many blessings and praying for other people who we think are suffering or somehow in need of a “blessing.” Sometimes I wonder if we’re as blessed as we think. We see refugee’s in war ravaged places who are starving and have only the sparse clothes on their backs but what we don’t see or understand is that these people have a blessing WE don’t.
We just celebrated Thanksgiving…how thankful were you? Was it just another day? just another opportunity to over eat? or was it manna from heaven? Remember the story of the Israelites in the desert? They were fed “manna” that was new everyday. There were a couple of reasons for that, one of which was so that nobody could horde it… also, because it’s our nature as people to turn our back on God when we have what we need and God knew that. In order for them to continually experience the love and blessing it was necessary for them to be kept humble so that they wouldn’t forget or confuse the source of the blessing. God was blessing them by keeping them close to Him! God was blessing them by teaching them humility, God was blessing them by teaching them trust and dependence…

We’re so incredibly blessed in this country to have so many church’s and the freedom to worship God in the way we see fit. We dress up in our Sunday best and listen to preachers talk about how we’re not the church we should be. We kinda feel bad for a minute or two but it’s easy enough to brush that aside and contemplate what to eat for lunch or think to ourselves “How perfect! we must deserve each other because you’re not the minister you should be either” Meanwhile, somewhere in Sub Saharan Africa people are being delivered from demons and all kinds of disease, healed from sicknesses,truly brought into the presence of the Lord! These people may not have a three bedroom house or a buffet of food to pick and choose over but what they do have is a real relationship with Christ! They’ve been in his presence, they’ll never be the same.

What’s the difference between us and them? They’re believing on Christ for everything, they’ve got no other “safety net” to catch them, it’s absolutely a matter of life and death! That’s a right here and right now blessing not a “Lord, please continue to bless me and my family so that we don’t have to find out you’re really all that we need!” kind of blessing!

I think that there needs to be a drastically different approach to the evangelistic movement here in the U.S. We need to be treated like the spiritually poor people we are! We need to be given a crash course in honesty about ourselves and where we are. If we could somehow strip away all of the “window dressings” and our “prosperity” to reveal the truth perhaps then we might actually be “blessed.” If we could lay down our pride long enough to bend a knee before God and cry a few repentant tears we might experience forgiveness. Perhaps if we went through another “great depression” we might rediscover what it means to be thankful, to be dependent, and then, having “gotten over” ourselves…experience the love and blessing our Heavenly Father longs to give us!