Born Again & Baptized

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (4) Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” (5) Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” John 3:3-5

After that day the LORD called my name at age 5, my only memories that related to God for about 5 years are a smattering of Sunday school stories, random memories of sitting with my parents in the main service and falling into a deep sleep when the pastor would start preaching, and a ceramic rainbow that says “Jesus Lives” I painted one Sunday after hearing the story of God’s rainbow promise to Noah after the Flood. (I still have that ceramic rainbow which my wife hung over our window in the kitchen)

During those years, my dad had retired from the Air Force, and we proceeded to move often. Even more than I remember when he was in the Air Force. Most of the places we moved were in the desert, between California and Utah. When I was thirty-two I would discover why in a very clear conversation with the LORD on a Friday morning. (more about that another time)

By 1980-81 we were living in Utah, and moved around multiple times between Roy, Clearfield, Layton, and Ogden. We attended the First Southern Baptist Church (in Clearfield?) and the Pastor’s name was Lavoyd Robertson. I was ten years old, and one Sunday morning while sitting with my parents in the main sanctuary, the Pastor began preaching a sermon. This time I was wide awake.

I remember vividly his call to repentance, and asked that if anyone wanted to receive forgiveness of their sins, accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and escape the eternal flames of hell, to come forward.

My heart began to race. My lies that I had told, my fits of anger and outbursts, my hatred toward other kids for picking on me and making fun of my last name, all of it came to remembrance. At that moment I knew that I was a sinner, and was guilty before a Holy God. At the same, I wasn’t sure if I was going to get in trouble for “embarrassing” my parents.

I jumped to my feet and walked down the aisle between the pews and straight up to the pulpit. I wanted the forgiveness of my sins, I wanted Jesus, and I wanted to change. I also wanted to be baptized.

I don’t remember anyone else coming forward. But Pastor Lavoyd prayed and then had someone take my name and information and told me to go back and sit down, and that after the service someone would talk with me and my parents.
Pastor Lavoyd made the appointment, and soon afterward was at my house to talk with me about my decision. I remember him asking me pointed questions about why I wanted to be baptized, what sins I thought I had committed (to determine if I even knew what sin was). I had a clarity about the whole conversation, and spoke about what I understood. He was satisfied with my answers and spoke to my parents about arrangements for the baptism.

A few Sundays later, in front of the whole church, myself and a few others were baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as a demonstration of what God had done in us spiritually.

I still find it ironic that all of this happened in a Southern Baptist church (there were very few) in the heart of Mormon country. That would play a big part in the spiritual warfare that came against me and my family while we lived there.

“On the day that the children of Israel were led out of Egypt, through the Red Sea as a type of baptism, and into the desert. Saved by faith in the blood of the passover lamb, whose blood was on the doorposts, no longer slaves of Egypt, now children of the Most High God, led into the wilderness to learn to trust God. So it is with every disciple of Jesus Christ.” – taught to me by Jesus

Would You Buy Me a Cup of Coffee?

A Man Named Scott

This morning I had to get up early (5am) to take my wife to work by 6am. After dropping her off I decided to go to Denny’s to get a cup of coffee and something to eat and pass the time until time to go to work. When I pulled into Denny’s parking lot, there was a man standing near the front door smoking a cigarette. He was dirty and looked homeless.

As I approached the front door he asked me: “Would you buy me a cup of coffee?” I stood there for a few seconds considering his question and finally responded: “Sure.”

We walked in and sat at the counter. I expected one of the employees to say something about him, and prepared myself with an explanation. Instead, the waiter simply asked if we wanted coffee. I said yes and he came back with 2 cups of hot coffee. At this point I determined to buy the man something to eat if he wanted it. The waiter asked we wanted a glass of water and menus, and I looked at Scott and asked if he was hungry and he mumbled that he was so I answered yes. Scott told me he wanted the Santa Fe skillet and I nodded. When the waiter came back I ordered for both of us and began to drink my coffee. As I sat there quietly I began to think about the situation. I felt totally inadequate to meet this man’s overwhelming needs. As soon as I thought that the Holy Spirit reminded me that it is the little things that a make a difference. So often I overthink things and get so overwhelmed by all the things that could be done or need to be done that I bow out and don’t do anything, thinking that any small thing I do would be too insignificant. That’s wrong thinking. Jesus said WHATEVER you do to the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto Me.

While we continued to wait for our food I began to silently pray for Scott. “Lord have mercy on him. Pour out your lovingkindness on him. Whatever his circumstances are, bless Him and care for him.” As Scott was sipping his coffee, he began to quietly cry. I could hear that he was fighting to hold it back. The manager was walking by and heard it and asked if everything was okay. I nodded and then quietly turned to Scott and asked if he was okay. He mumbled yes and got quiet.

Our food came and we both ate quietly and finished multiple cups of coffee. I finished first and determined that I would wait with Scott and not leave until he was finished. I asked if he wanted a to go cup for his coffee and he replied that he would. The Manager got a fresh cup of hot coffee to go for me and I had him give it to Scott. I paid the bill and walked Scott outside and left. He went back to where he was standing when had first entered the parking lot. As I was leaving I prayed another silent prayer for him. At the stop light the Holy Spirit reminded me of the command “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It’s so simple. It’s so easy so turn a blind eye to people like Scott and let them become invisible… the “untouchables.”

God has been so good to me even though I deserve punishment in Hell forever. I acknowledged this and thanked the Lord for His mercy and kindness toward me and for growing me spiritually. I say this because in the past, because of my past insecurity, I have done things like this but with an internal turmoil & anxiety about what someone might think or say and how I would respond. Not this time. I had peace and was able to hear the Lord so much more clearly this time.

It’s the little things we do that do matter. Nothing is insignificant to Christ Jesus.

Happy Purim!

Happy Purim!

Purim means ‘casting of lots’ (Esther 3:7). Casting of lots was used to determine God’s will when decisions were made, signifying God’s sovereignty in human affairs, especially of those who respect, love & obey Him.

In the story of Esther, Mordecai (Esther’s uncle) refuses to bow to Haman, King Xerxes’ Prime Minister. According to Jewish rabbinical tradition, Mordecai the Jew refused to bow to Haman the Agagite because Haman had an idol embroidered onto his garment, and bowing to Haman meant bowing to the false god as well. As a result, Haman’s rage is kindled against Mordecai and all of the Jewish people that Mordecai represents. Through a series of twists, Haman’s hatred and plotting against Mordecai and the Jews becomes his own undoing, and he is hanged on the very gallows he built for the public execution of Mordecai. Mordecai and Esthers’ faith in God and boldness to stand for righteousness in spite of the possibility of death is a key principle of the story.

The history of Esther is also an awesome account of God’s sovereignty and intervention in the lives of those who are His and love & obey Him, and how God is not hindered by the folly of mens’ decisions, even if those men are powerful leaders. ‘We know that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.’ – Romans 8:28

Love Constrained to Obedience – William Cowper

To see the law by Christ fulfilled
And hear His pardoning voice,
Changes a slave into a child,
And duty into choice.

I toll’d the precept to obey,
But toil’d without success.

Then, to abstain from outward sin
Was more than I could do;
Now, if I feel its power within,
I feel I hate it too.

Then all my servile works were done
A righteousness to raise;
Now, freely chosen in the Son,
I freely choose His ways.

“What shall I do,” was then the word,
“That I may worthier grow?”
“What shall I render to the Lord?”
Is my inquiry now.

To see the law by Christ fulfilled
And hear His pardoning voice,
Changes a slave into a child,
And duty into choice.

Update on the U.N. Piece Conference in Paris

After the passing of U.N. resolution 2334 a few weeks ago (23 DEC 2016), which declared formally that Israel is ‘occupying’ Palestinian land and declared Israeli settlements illegal, the U.N. rushed to hold a ‘Peace Conference’ in order to impose it’s will upon Israel and her people before the new U.S. President is inaugurated on 20 JAN 2017.

Israel has alleged that outgoing President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry helped orchestrate the passing of the shameful resolution that has placed an enormous amount of global pressure on the State of Israel, and has thrust Jerusalem to the forefront as the U.N. now seeks to divide Jerusalem against the will and promises of God (Zechariah 14:11-13).

All of this has been orchestrated right before the inauguration of incoming U.S. President Donald J. Trump, who has pledged renewed U.S. support for Israel and Jerusalem, against the actions of the current U.S. administration under President Obama.

Here is Pastor Jack Hibbs’ update on the situation:

A Call to Unity

There is a great call for ‘unity’ among the religious and it is increasing. They say ‘let’s overlook our differences in doctrine and come together’, but this is a ruse and spiritually disastrous. For it is written: “What harmony can there be between Christ and belial (evil), Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” 2 Corinthians 6:15. This includes ‘interfaith’ ventures like interfaith prayer events, interfaith evangelism, etc. This also includes participating in pagan rituals that have been modernized, like ‘centering’, ‘contemplative prayer’, praying repetitious phrases over and over quickly, yoga, praying to anyone other than Jesus Christ and God our Father in Heaven, etc.

There can be no true spiritual unity between those who hold to false doctrine and false gospels, and follow false christs, or false Gods.

As disciples of Jesus Christ, the body of Jesus Christ on earth, we are to love God and love one another, love our enemies and to pray for those who spitefully treat us. But we are not to join with them in spiritual endeavors nor compromise the doctrine of Scripture to save ourselves from persecution or to placate them, or think that by doing so will somehow soften their hearts.
No, a heart is only softened by the preaching of the Law and by the conviction of the Holy Spirit of their deadness and condemnation before a Holy and just God, and THEN the preaching of God’s mercy in providing His only begotten Son as the perfect and complete human sacrifice for all of our sins, and THEN the preaching of God’s unlimited grace toward any who believe by FAITH in Jesus Christ, in order to be born of the Spirit and sealed by the Holy Spirit, and to be transformed from the inside out, receiving God’s grace to be Holy and to overcome sin in their own lives and to be vessels of God’s Holy Love toward others in order to show them the way to receive that same everlasting life.

Know and understand that Christ did not come to bring unity to the world, but to give life to the spiritually dead: those who would lay down their unholy lives and take up his life, to separate the holy from the unholy, to separate the wheat from the chaff.

For He said and it is written in Luke 12: 49:
“I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished.

Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against—or two in favor and three against.
‘Father will be divided against son
and son against father;
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother;
and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’”

One might say: “but we are called to be peacemakers…” YES, to preach the gospel and teach biblical doctrine, and pray for others to be brought under conviction and repentance in truth and love in order that they would MAKE PEACE WITH GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST, then and only then will they be at peace with believers and believers at true peace with them in the spirit.

What Do I Tell My Child / A Person Who Has a Deformity?

What to say to people who are different or have a deformity? from disciplefish on Vimeo.

I am in a group on Facebook for Amniotic Band Syndrome (the syndrome that caused my grandson to be born with fused fingers, a cleft lip, a club foot, and a band wrapped around his right leg). The question that gets asked often by parents in the group is: “I am afraid that my child is going to be bullied for their ‘differences’ as they get older. What do I tell them?

This is the answer that I posted this morning. It is true for ALL of us, because all of us have ‘differences’ on the outside and the inside, and all of our bodies are subject to deterioration, and death. I hope you read it entirely and are encouraged.
—————
We live in a broken world that is under the effects of the curse because of Adam’s sin, but has been redeemed by the sinless atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And while the effects of the curse are still seen and felt, God has given us hope to look forward to the time when Jesus Christ will return and rule the people of earth and restore all things. In consideration of that, we are to instill faith, hope and love into our children and grandchildren.

So what do we tell our children / grandchildren that have a deformity? The truth:
Who we are is on the inside. Our body is not who we are, but a temporary part of us that is subject to the broken nature of this world. Who we are on the inside is really what matters most.

We were created by God to reflect His love, mercy, kindness, justice, and goodness. Not everyone is brought up to know or believe this, and as a result, they only look at the outward parts and treat people based on this. But we who know better and who have been taught and believed the truth can make a difference in their lives by showing them the person we are on the inside and teaching them through our actions and words who they are meant to be also.

David, a friend of God and a man that knew the heart of God and the love of God wrote this for our understanding: “You (God) created my innermost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together… Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days determined for me were written in your book (the Book of Life) before I came into existence.”

Jeremiah, another young man chosen of God for a special purpose was told by God (and recorded it for our encouragement): “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart (for a special purpose)…

Instill in your child that he or she was formed by God for a special purpose, and although something about them on the outside is “different”, God doesn’t make mistakes. In spite of their differences, He made them special on the inside, to show others who we really are in love, mercy, kindness, justice, and goodness. And that through faith in Jesus Christ, when it is time, each of us will receive a new beautiful body that is just like His and we will leave behind these bodies that deteriorate and are affected by the curse that will be removed at His glorious coming.

It is written in Thessalonians that Jesus “will appear in the clouds of heaven and we will be caught up to Him and will ever be with Him”, and in Philippians it is written that Jesus, “by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, WILL TRANSFORM OUR LOWLY BODIES SO THAT THEY WILL BE LIKE HIS GLORIOUS BODY.”

Encourage and build each other up in this truth, and don’t let how others treat you defeat you, or take away your joy, faith and hope in these things.

Called By Name

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you: I have called you by name; you are Mine!” Isaiah 43:1

My earliest memory of God was when I was about 5 years old. My father was in the Air Force, and my family and I lived in base housing (a three bedroom house provided for Air Force families) in San Bernardino, California.

The day I heard the call, my mom was outside watering her rose bushes, and my dad was at work on at the Air Force base. I was in the house heading for my bedroom when I heard a voice call out to me (not loudly) “Dane.” As soon as I heard it I stopped, turned around expecting to see my mom or dad, and answered “yes.”

There was no one there.

But the voice was right next to me, and it was so familiar I definitely knew it had to be either my mom or dad.  I turned around and continued toward my bedroom. Again I heard “Dane. (pause) Dane.” I turned around again and said “Mom, dad, did you call me?”

No one answered.

I ran to the front door, outside and around the house to where my mom was and asked her if she was calling me. She said no and told me to go back and play. Then I asked her if dad called me, and told her what had happened. She said no one called for me, and again told me to go play. I did as I was told, and went back to whatever it was I was doing. But the memory of that day was etched into my mind.

Years later, after I had walked away from following Jesus Christ at 13 and then repented at my dad’s deathbed when I was 21, I was reading through I Samuel. When I read chapter 3, the memory of that moment was suddenly at the forefront of my mind, and I knew for sure exactly who it was that had called me that day.

Joh 10:27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

Has Jesus been calling you?  He knows your name.

– Dane