Jesus Christ Prison Ministry

September 2019 Newsletter

  • Mark: The Calling
  • Testimony for God's People
  • Ministry News

Mark: The Calling

 

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Even though I have had a couple of years of formal theological study in college, I am very ignorant of what the world calls, “Theology”.  I have no college degree.  In fact, I almost flunked out of grade school due to my many handicaps: dyslexic, narcolepsy, a touch of autism and a mind that was unable to grasp information.  Point blank, I was a basket case of stupidity.  Dumb and dumber.  (Still am!)

However, all of that only proves the power of God.  When God called me to this ministry in 1997, I had nothing.  This ministry is an impossibility by human logic.  It is not possible!  But God is in the “impossible” business.  That is how He shows His power, majesty and grace.  Calling an ignorant, stupid, ex-con on parole to work for Him was totally insane. 

However, from childhood I have always had the presence of God in my life.  He has revealed Himself to me many times in many ways.  The problem was, as the child Samuel was unacquainted with the voice of the Lord, I also was unable to recognize the moving of God in order to know what to do about it.  Unlike the child Samuel who had the priest Eli to guide him, I had nobody.  But as I look back over my life, I see so clearly the power of God guiding and leading in my life. 

On my own I read much from the Bible and other inspired writings.  I suppose one could say I was driven by the hand of God without realizing it.  I had no idea of the future God had in store for me.  Looking back upon a life that I had considered a failure, I now see it was the training ground for the success of this ministry.  God does work in mysterious ways.

Having spent the first 40 years of my life in a Sabbath-keeping church, everything I understood about “Christianity” was filtered through church propaganda.  It wasn’t until I was sent to prison that I was able to break free from the psychological chains of church in order to begin seeing clearly the truth of Christianity.  I read and studied, reading the Bible over 35 times while in prison.  At the time, I had no clue of the future God was preparing for me.  Being as dumb as I was, even the “clues” God gave me went bouncing off my hard head. 

Yet, when I paroled, and the Spirit of God came to me dictating and directing the book “Change Your Life Biblically”, I began to see the reason for all my past experiences.  Even today I sit in awe of the power of God in how He brought 47 years of past experiences to bear so dramatically upon the work of this ministry in the present. 

I relate this information solely to give you a “head’s up” as we study through the book of Mark.  The information I share may not agree with the worldly “experts” of the theological schools, but it is information the Spirit of God has provided.  I can only give what I have been given. 

“The chief subjects of study in these schools (of the prophets) were the law of God, with the instructions given to Moses, sacred history, sacred music, and poetry. The manner of instruction was far different from that in the theological schools of the present day (Andrews University, etc), from which many students graduate with less real knowledge of God and religious truth than when they entered. In those schools of the olden time it was the grand object of all study to learn the will of God and man’s duty toward Him.”  PP 593.

Our churches, homes, educational and medical institutions no longer teach people their “duty towards Him”.  It is all about duty to church, religion or denomination.  I pray you will allow the Spirit of God to touch your heart with a renewed understanding of Christianity as we study the book of Mark together.  Let us “study to learn the will of God and man’s duty toward Him.”

Mark 1:1 to Mark 2:28

This is the beginning of the gospel of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. 

The Catholic Church has so dominated “Christian” theology for the last 1,500 years that few are able to see the truth.  If you get your first thought wrong, everything thereafter is wrong, no matter how “right” the facts may be.  In a court of law if the evidence was tainted outside of proper legal procedures the judge has the right to throw it out, even if it is important to the case.  Even if the evidence is true, making the defendant guilty, because it was obtained in an unlawful manner, the judge can let the defendant go free.

We need to look at the “evidence” again through untainted eyes.  The “theology” of today’s Christianity has been obtained in an unlawful manner and needs to be thrown out.  Christianity today is not the Christianity of Jesus or the early disciples.  Christianity today is repackaged paganism. 

The “true” gospel is not a “gospel” about Jesus.  The “true” gospel is "what" Jesus taught and lived.  That is a huge difference.  To teach a “gospel” about Jesus is to teach a salvation of “belief”.  But salvation is not a “belief” about Jesus.  If it were, the devils would be saved since they believe in Jesus more than you or I do.  James 2:19.  The true “belief” is an understanding of what Jesus taught and how He lived.  Believing in the historical Jesus will not give you salvation.  You must believe in what Jesus taught, and put that teaching into action in your own life in order to be saved.

The “beginning of the gospel” is not about the life of Jesus, it is the “gospel” Jesus taught from the creation of the world.  In the beginning He taught the gospel to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  He taught the gospel to Noah.  He taught the gospel to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  The gospel had been renewed to the Israelites over and over again every time they abandoned God for the pagan forms of worship.  Finally, God Himself, in the form of Jesus Christ, as the Son of Man had to come personally to again give the “Gospel” to His people.  “For to us was the gospel preached, as well as to them”.  Hebrews 4:2.    They had rejected it and replaced it with church services, ceremonies, traditions, rituals and feast days.

The first “Christians” were just “Jews” who had been freed from church bondage of ceremonies, traditions, rituals and feast days in order to live the core salvation truths that have always been necessary for eternal life.  As Paul stated, “For they are not all Israel, that are of Israel”.  Romans 9:6.  Christians were the true “Israel” God wanted Israel to be: holy, perfect, sinless and commandment keeping.  Modern pagan theology wants to separate “Christianity” of today from the true Jewish Christian Gospel Jesus taught to the people of His day.  But that is not what Jesus did.  True Christianity is “Christ-like”.  Jesus, as a Jew, was sinless, pure, holy, perfect and commandment keeping.  All the things He commanded the Israelite to be for eternal life in the Old Testament, we are to be in the New Testament in order to enter Heaven.  “Salvation comes from the Jews.”  John 4:22.   Let us listen now as Mark begins telling the true story of the Gospel as Jesus taught and lived it.

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See! I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way. 

First, we must understand that the New Testament is only a continuation of the Old Testament.  In the Old Testament, in Isaiah, about 700 years before Christ, we have a statement from God declaring that He is sending His messenger ahead of the Messiah who would continue to preach the Old Testament gospel to Israel.  Nothing has changed.  Nothing is said about sending a messenger to change the gospel.  God, through Isaiah, was looking down through time and saw a time when His covenant would again have to be “renewed”.  It would have to be “renewed” because His people would break it again and again and again.  

He is a voice calling out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way for the Lord! Make his paths straight!’” 

Whether it was Noah, Enoch, Elijah, Elisha, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, the Minor Prophets, John the Baptist, Jesus or the disciples, the gospel has always been the same.  It is a continuum.  The “good news” God has been giving to the world since Adam is about stop sinning, be perfect and to keep the Ten Commandments in order to get eternal life.  The Israelites were no longer on that “straight” path.  They had wandered off.  They were to get back on the Old Testament path of righteousness in order to “prepare the way for the Lord”.  That “straight” path could not and would not be different from the path that God had already laid down in the Old Testament.  God does not change His salvation path.  Hebrews 13:8.  There has always been only One way to the One truth that leads to the One Life.  That path has always been obedience to the Ten Commandments.  Sin is the breaking of the Ten Commandments which leads to eternal death.  1 John 3:4.  In order to have the “hope” of eternal life, we must keep ourselves as pure as Jesus was.    “How blessed are those who are pure in heart, because it is they who will see God!”  Matthew 5:8. Anything that would keep you from living the perfect, sinless and commandment keeping life would require repentance in order to return to the straight “path”.  “God requires perfection of His children.”  COL 315.

John was baptizing in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism about repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 

And there you have it.  John was just another “Old Testament” prophet sent by God to teach the people the original Old Testament gospel.  As the Old Testament prophets taught the people to repent in order to obtain forgiveness of their sins, so John the Baptist and Jesus would do the same.  “He opens their ears and instructs them, commanding them to repent from evil.”  Job 36:10.  Repenting means to turn away from sin.  If you turn away from sin, the only other direction is to be living the sinless, commandment keeping life: perfectly.  There was no “new” gospel.  Again, keep in mind, there was no “New Testament” until 300 years after Jesus.  For three hundred years the Christians learned how to live the Christian life from the Old Testament.  They followed in the footsteps of Jesus.  All Jesus had was the Old Testament to learn from and obey.  He taught from it and lived it.  Then He commands us to follow in His footsteps.  “He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”  Luke 16:31.  Jesus rose from the dead and the churches are not listening to Him.

People from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were flocking to him, being baptized by him while they confessed their sins.

Interesting “change” of words here.  John taught the people to “repent”.  But in this sentence we read where the people came, not to “repent” but to “confess”.  There is a huge difference between repenting and confessing.  You can confess all you want, but that has nothing to do with getting into Heaven.  Criminals caught red-handed usually “confess”, but they are not “repenting” of their crimes.  They are not interested in changing their ways.  Same with the Israelites.  They came confessing to look good, but their hearts were still unwilling to repent and change their lives.  They loved their sins way too much to repent.  The whole concept of “Saved by Grace” today is no different.  It is all about “confessing” but refusing to “repent”.  

Now John was dressed in camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. 

Simplicity!  I don’t see much simplicity in ministers, pastors, churches or denominations today, do you?  Money, money, money is all I see and hear from them.  Have you ever looked at the suits they wear?  Not exactly “camel’s hair with a leather belt around” the waist.  How about the cars they drive and the homes they live in?  I truly believe churches today are on the wrong path.  None are following the example of Jesus.

He kept proclaiming, “The one who is coming after me is stronger than I am, and I am not worthy to bend down and untie his sandal straps. 

Humbleness.  I don’t see any humility in ministers, pastors, churches or denominations.  Just ask them to teach the teachings of Jesus and watch how prideful they get.  They don’t want to teach any truth that would drive the people away from their church and deprive them of their money and influence.

I baptized you with water, but it is he who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” 

The ministers, pastors, churches and denominations of today do baptize with water, but they do not baptize with the Holy Spirit.  To have eternal life you must be baptized with the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit has been baptizing people since Adam.  Nothing new here.  2 Kings 2:15.

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 

Jesus did not need to be baptized.  He did not need to repent from anything.  He was sinless, perfect and commandment keeping.  He was letting John fulfill his mission as the messenger who was to prepare the way for the Messiah.  His baptism was God’s way of “presenting” Jesus to the world.  However, baptism has nothing to do with eternal life unless you repent of your sins and live as Jesus lived: perfect, sinless and commandment keeping.  That is how you are filled with the Holy Spirit.  Baptism to a Christian is the same as circumcision to a Jew.  It simply said, “I now belong to this group”.  Paul made it very plain that  “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but obeying God’s commandments is everything.  1 Corinthians 7:19.  The same goes for baptism.

Just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens split open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.  Then a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love. I am pleased with you!” 

Yes He was.  Why was God pleased with His Son?  Because Jesus was living the perfect, sinless and commandment keeping life.  The Father in Heaven was letting the nation of Israel, and the world, know that the Messiah had come and was ready to teach the gospel: again.  Jesus had been trying for over 4,000 years to teach the gospel through His prophets, but very few church people were listening.  Now He came to present the gospel again, personally.

Keep in mind, the people were still under the Old Testament.  They were still teaching the Old Testament.  Jesus read and studied from the Old Testament.  Jesus learned as a child from the Old Testament how to live the perfect, sinless and commandment keeping life for His eternal life.  That is how He received the Holy Spirit.  There would be no “New Testament” for another 300 years.  The Old Testament were “Scriptures” to Paul.  Paul taught them for eternal life.  2 Timothy 3:15-17.

At once the Spirit drove him into the wilderness. 

When people are baptized today, they are driven into churches and denominations by unholy spirits.  That is not the example of Jesus.  True Christians will not be going to church but into the wilderness to talk to God and get instructions from Him for their lives.  Paul, after he was baptized, did not go to church to get instructions.  He went into the wilderness following the example of Jesus.  Galatians 1:17.  I do not understand how churches can call ourselves “Christian” when they do nothing that is Christian: Christ-like.

He was in the wilderness for 40 days being tempted by Satan. He was among wild animals, and angels were ministering to him. 

If you live the “wilderness” experience in your life, you will be tempted by Satan.  You will be among wild animals.  But you don’t have to worry about Satan or the wild animals in your life since angels of God will minister to you as they did Jesus.  All of God’s people have been protected by God’s angels as they lived the “wilderness” life.  Church does not bring us under the protection of God’s angels since God never commanded us to go to church.  Disobedience is the same as rebellion.  No rebellious person will be in Heaven.  To have the protection of Jesus you must be obedient to Jesus.

Now after John had been arrested, Jesus went to Galilee and proclaimed the gospel about the kingdom of God. 

And yes, if you live the Christian life, you too will be persecuted and possibly arrested.  But notice, Jesus went to Galilee and “proclaimed the gospel about the kingdom of God”.  He wasn’t proclaiming a “gospel” about Himself.  He wasn’t proclaiming a “goody-goody” religion of “saved by grace”.  He was teaching the original Old Testament gospel about how to live the perfect, sinless and commandment keeping life in order to enter the Kingdom of God.  Interesting note, Jesus never mentioned the word “grace” during the thirty-three and a half years He lived on Earth.  Since Jesus came to teach us how to get to Heaven, obviously, grace is not important to know for our eternal life.

He said, “The time is now! The kingdom of God is near! Repent, and keep believing the gospel!” 

And there it is again.  The Kingdom of God has always been “now!”.  Since the creation of Adam the kingdom of God has been near.  It is in our hearts when we “keep believing the gospel”.  “keep believing”.  Jesus did not come to teach a “new” gospel.  He taught nothing “new” since to do so would have made Jesus a liar.  Jesus told us in the Old Testament not to add or subtract from the Old Testament or any of God’s words.  “Do not add anything to what I command you, and do not take anything away. Obey the commands of the LORD your God that I have given you.”  Deuteronomy 4:2.   Jesus came to warn the Israelites again that they were sinning and needed to “repent” from those sins and come back to the original true gospel of the Old Testament by believing, not “about” Jesus, but in the gospel.  You can “believe” all you want about Jesus and never make it to Heaven.  But if you believe the “gospel” as has been taught since Adam: stop sinning be perfect and keep the Ten Commandments to get your eternal life, you will have eternal life.

While Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew. They were throwing a net into the sea because they were fishermen.  Jesus told them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishermen of people!” 

Oh yes, Jesus was not looking for disciples who were sitting in church.  He was looking for disciples who understood their duties and responsibilities.  These were hard working men, not churchified sissies.  He wanted men who could go out among the people, not encase themselves behind walls.

So immediately they left their nets and followed him. 

Many are called to “go fishing for Me”, unfortunately, few are willing to leave the world and follow Jesus.  They just love their “nets”, church, excitement and money way too much.  I understand why so few will be saved.  However, Simon and Andrew were willing to leave a very successful business, their homes and all they had to follow Jesus.  They trusted that if they worked for God, God would take care of their families.  The same is true in my life.  As I have given my life to Jesus, He has taken very good care of my children.

Going on a little farther he saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat repairing their nets. 

Again, Jesus chose men who understood the concept of waiting patiently for the catch.  Putting forth the endurance necessary to be successful.  James and John understood the concept that in their “down time”, they were not to be off sitting in church or playing games, but “repairing their nets” for the next catch.  These were men Jesus could count on to take responsibility for the work that was soon to fall upon them.  They would not lose faith, become discouraged or leave for their own wants and wishes.

He immediately called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. 

James and John were not poor.  They had “hired men”.  They had a very successful business to inherit from their father.  It was totally insane to abandon it for Jesus.  But they did.  Their hearts were ready to put years of fishing to work fishing for Jesus.

Then they went to Capernaum. As soon as it was the Sabbath, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 

Jesus did not “go-to-church”.  He went to church because that is where the Jews would be on Sabbath.  He went, not to be “taught” but, “to teach”.  He set the example for us.  “As was His custom, He taught them.”  Mark 10:1.  If you are going to church to sit in a pew, you have no eternal life.  If you are teaching from the Sabbath School Quarterly, you have no eternal life.  If you are teaching people from the Old Testament to stop sinning, be perfect and to keep the Ten Commandments to get their eternal life, you are following the example of Jesus and will have eternal life.  

The people were utterly amazed at his teaching, because he was teaching them like one with authority and not like their scribes. 

The scribes and pharisees had “authority”, but their authority was nothing more than church authority.  They were teaching church traditions, ceremonies, rituals and feast days.  They were teaching from their Sabbath School Quarterly while the people slept.  They taught about the prophecies that pointed to the coming Christ.  Yet nothing was taught about changing the heart.  Jesus came and brought the Old Testament alive by teaching the requirements of God for eternal life.  He made the Old Testament real in their personal lives.  Jesus had the “authority” of the Bible and His Father.  Jesus was following the examples of the great leaders of the Old Testament.  Here is an example from the Old Testament.

“All the people gathered as a united body into the plaza in front of the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded for Israel.  . . . Ezra the priest brought out the Law before the assembled people. Both men and women were in attendance, as well as all who could understand what they were hearing.  Ezra read from it, . . . from early in the morning until mid-day . . .  All the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.  Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people . . . all the people stood up.  Furthermore . . . the descendants of Levi taught the Law to the people while the people remained standing.  They read from the Book of the Law of God, distinctly communicating its meaning, so they could understand the reading.”  Nehemiah 8:1-8

They were not in “church”.  They didn’t gather for a “religious” meeting.  They gathered in a public place to hear the “Word of the Lord”.  That is what was missing from the church of Christ’s day.  That is what is missing from our churches today.  We are not reading from the “Book of the Law of God, distinctly communicating its meaning, so they could understand the reading.”  That is not done today.  That is what Jesus did.  He cut out all the church rituals, services, traditions, feast days and ceremonies in order to cut to the heart, the “Book of the Law of God”.  The people were taught how to live in obedience to the Ten Commandments.

Many today claim they are reading from the “Book of the Law of God” as they read from the New Testament.  But that is not the “Book of the Law of God”.  Matthew to Revelation is taking the people back to the Old Testament.  That is the “Book of the Law of God” the Bible refers to.  It teaches the “gospel” of the Ten Commandments and how to keep them.

We have truly lost all reverence for God’s Word.  When was the last time your congregation stood for half a day to hear the Word of the Lord?  Most can’t stand sitting in church for an hour, let alone all day.

Suddenly there was a man in their synagogue who had an unclean spirit. He screamed, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” 

The devil is always trying to take the eyes of the people away from Jesus and His authority and the “Book of the Law”.  Even if the statements of the devils are “factual”, as this devil’s outburst was, it wasn’t from God and it had nothing to do with eternal life for the people.  Knowing who Jesus was had nothing to do with their eternal life.  And yet, churches, pastors and ministers of today are following the devils in taking the eyes of the people off of the “authority” of what Jesus taught and places them on topics that have nothing to do with eternal life.  You can argue over, fight about and talk all you want about who Jesus is, church policy, what to eat, drink and wear and how soon Jesus is coming, but unless you are living in obedience to His teachings to be perfect, stop sinning and keep the Ten Commandments to get your eternal life, you will not get to Heaven.

But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” 

We need to rebuke our pastors, ministers, churches and denominations for their senseless and devilish arguments, screaming, yelling and putting forth topics that have nothing to do with obedience to Jesus.  It is all church nonsense.

At this, the unclean spirit shook the man, cried out with a loud voice, and came out of him. 

There are a lot of wicked spirits in churches that are shaking people, crying out in loud voices and disrupting the work of God.  Many churches are desecrating what should be a “holy” place with kids banging on guitars, drums and other instruments in the name of “worship”.  Get out of your churches now and go sit quietly at the feet of Jesus listening to the power and authority He has over the unclean sins in your life.

All the people were so stunned that they kept saying to each other, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He tells even the unclean spirits what to do, and they obey him!” 

What is sad, the unclean spirits knew and obeyed Jesus while our churches today do not know Jesus and refuse to live in obedience to His authority and commands.  And no, it was not a “new teaching”.  The teachings of the “Book of the Law” had been “lost” and usurped by church teachings of rituals, services, feast days and traditions.  

At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee. 

The fame of Jesus was not attributed to any “entertainment” as our churches have today.  He didn’t entertain, He taught them with the power and authority of the Old Testament.  The casting out of the demon was simply an accomplishment of that duty, not a “put-on” show.  How far our churches have fallen.

After they left the synagogue, they went directly to the house of Simon and Andrew, along with James and John. 

Jesus didn’t stick around to sign autographs.  He didn’t stay around collecting accolades and praise.  He didn’t pass the hat.  He didn’t come for that.  Have you read your denominational paper lately?  It is far from the spirit of Jesus.

Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying in bed, sick with a fever, so they promptly told Jesus about her. 

Jesus didn’t tell them to make Peter’s mother-in-law a media event.  He didn’t tell the disciples to gather a crowed to watch Him preform a miracle.  No, here was a person in need of healing.  She had opened her home to Jesus and Jesus returned the favor.  How Christian.

He went up to her, took her by the hand, and helped her up. The fever left her, and she began serving them. 

There was no yelling or screaming.  There was no speaking in tongues.  There was no falling down.  Christianity isn’t about putting on a show, it is about serving.  Our churches are serving the devil.  She opened her home to Jesus, He served her by healing her.  She got up and “began serving them”.  Service: all of Heaven is one big “service center”.  Everyone is serving everyone else.  There is no selfishness or “self” in Heaven.  

When evening came, after the sun had set, people started bringing to him everyone who was sick or possessed by demons.  In fact, the whole city gathered at the door. 

How sad that the people were so controlled by church indoctrination they were not able to enter into the joy of the Sabbath by coming to Jesus to be healed of their sicknesses and diseases on the Sabbath.  They thought they had to wait in their homes until after the Sabbath ended.  The Sabbath was made to bring wholeness to the whole person.  The Sabbath is not to be served, but a day to serve others.  It is a day for service, not church services.

He healed many who were sick with various diseases and drove out many demons. However, he wouldn’t allow the demons to speak because they knew who he was. 

The healing Jesus did was nothing like what you see in the churches or on TV today.  It wasn’t for the show.  He wouldn’t even allow the demons to speak about Him because they would have tried to make a “circus” out of it.  Our churches would be turning it into a moneymaking opportunity.  Jesus wanted people to understand their need of Him, not just to heal the body, but to cleans the soul and heal it of sin.

In the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus got up and went to a deserted place and prayed there. 

If that were today, the ministers, pastors and churches would be calling in the media and doing all they could to capitalize on the “show”.  Jesus “went to a deserted place and prayed”.  The churches brag about following the example of Jesus in their services, but how few follow His example in going to a deserted place and praying.  We need to learn how to pray more effectively.  Our prayers are an insult to Jesus.  Most of our prayers are so selfish.  Jesus prayed for others and for strength to serve.

Simon and his companions searched frantically for him.  When they found him, they told him, “Everyone’s looking for you.” 

Most people today are searching “frantically” for someone who can draw attention and bring fame and fortune.  That is what the disciples, at this time, were looking for.  They had been brought up in the church and understood that was what church was about.  They did not know God as of yet or the true spirit of Jesus.  But they were learning.  The majority of the world today are on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and other social media sites not to serve, but to glorify themselves.  They are up there to bring attention to themselves.  Everything is done for self.  That attitude will not be allowed into Heaven.

“Let’s go to the neighboring town,” he replied, “so I can preach there, too, because that’s why I came.” 

Yes it was.  He came to present the gospel to the world.  A gospel that had been forgotten and substituted with church.  He didn’t sit in “a” church as a “member” smugly patting Himself on His back thinking He was saved.  He was out beating the bushes looking for hearts to cleanse and lost sheep to save.

So he went throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

What are you doing?  Are you sitting in church, or are you out preaching and driving out demons.  Is your love driving out the demons of hurt and pain in the hearts of others.  Our love, and the truth about Jesus, can drive out the demons of pride, arrogance and selfishness.  You have the power at your disposal to drive out of people the demons that are destroying their lives.  All you have to do is get out of your church and begin sharing the gospel with those around you.

Then a leper came to Jesus and began pleading with him. He fell on his knees and told him, “If you want to, you can make me clean.” 

The leper was considered a very sinful person.  It was believed that a leper was under the curse of God and had no right to eternal life.  At some point in his life he had offended God so much God had turned His back on him and he was left in hopelessness.  This concept did not come from God.  It is not to be found anywhere in the Old Testament.  Yes, God did punish Miriam for her pride, but He also healed her.  God taught the Israelites that sickness came upon people because of their disobedience to the laws of God.  However, if they lived as God commanded, according to the health principles, they would live long and healthy.  As far as sicknesses for sin, they were not abandoned to their sin or sickness, but a way was provided for them to get sin out of their lives and be healed.  Naaman is an example of God’s willingness to heal a repentant sinner in the Old Testament.  But the church made other people’s sicknesses a badge of honor for their own self-righteousness.  They ignored the condition of the sinner and the sick and refused to offer them hope or help.

But the leper had heard of Jesus and the love He had for sinners.  Hope was building in his heart.  The purity of Jesus was revealed to him and he desired to be cleansed, not just of his leprosy, but of his sins.  When he came into the presence of Jesus he saw what the church members could not see, a love that could conquer sin in his life.  He fell to his knees and asked to be made clean.  Notice, he did not ask to have his leprosy taken away, he asked to be made clean.  He wanted a new life.  He wanted to live without sin.  When Jesus took the leprosy away that was the outward demonstration of what had taken place in the man’s heart.  He was forgiven of his sins and made totally clean.

Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand, touched him, and told him, “I do want to. Be made clean!” 

Jesus is full of compassion for sinners.  He does want to make us clean.  He doesn’t much care for those sitting in church or observing feast days, etc.  But those who recognize their sins, realizing their filthy lives, willing to bow before Jesus and confess their unworthiness, Jesus is willing to heal.  And notice, Jesus “touched him”.  It was illegal to touch a leper.  That act would get you disfellowshipped from the church.  He would become an outcast.  But Jesus, who didn’t care about churches and did not belong to any as a church member, was only interested in one thing, bringing healing to one who desired to be set free from sin.

Has the world rejected you, dear reader?  Do you feel lonely, cast off and abandoned?  Many are sitting in a church, or a cell, feeling unwanted.  Many think they are honoring God by sitting in church or observing Messianic traditions.  Don’t look to church, get out.  Jesus is waiting for you to come to Him.  He will reach out and touch you with such power that you will never again care about what man or church thinks.  You will serve Jesus with a new heart of love and obedience.  You will be clean in Jesus.

Instantly the leprosy left him, and he was clean. 

When Jesus comes into the life, you are clean.  Don’t go looking into the garbage can for your sins.  Stay out.  Walk with Jesus.  As long as you follow Jesus, living His perfect, sinless and commandment keeping life, your past sins are gone.  

Then Jesus sternly warned him and encouraged him to go at once, saying to him, “Be sure that you don’t tell anyone.  Instead, go and show yourself to the priest, and then offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded as proof to the authorities.” 

Again, we see where Jesus is not looking for publicity.  Publicity would only hurt His cause.  The authorities were already angry with Jesus for taking the attention of the people away from their church and authority.  Jesus did not want to do anything that would bring about His death before the appointed time.  Jesus lived in perfect obedience with the Old Testament.  As Solomon said, “There is a time and a place for everything”.

In Leviticus, God gave specific instructions on how a man cleansed from leprosy was to be readmitted into Jewish society.  Jesus instructed the man to follow the Jewish temple laws of cleansing.  This had nothing to do with his eternal life.  However, Jesus was using this legal requirement in order to reach the priests and authorities.  As they examined the man they would admit that a miracle took place.  By confirming his cure, the people would know that Jesus did cure the man and it wasn’t a hoax.

But when the man left, he began to proclaim it freely. He spread the news so widely that Jesus could no longer enter a town openly, but had to stay out in deserted places. Still, people kept coming to him from everywhere. 

Of course he did.  You and I would have done the same thing.  When something good happens to us, we love to share the good news with everyone we can.  But his enthusiasm hurt the cause of Jesus.  Jesus was no longer able to move about as freely as before.  Those who wanted to come to Jesus quietly, to have their sins forgiven and their lives healed, found it harder to do so because of the mobs.  The mobs were only interested in the “show” and the “fame”; to ogle Him as we do movie stars and other famous people.  The devil was doing a great job at keeping Jesus from doing His work more effectively.  

Several days later, Jesus returned to Capernaum and it was reported that he was at home.  Such a large crowd gathered that there wasn’t room for them, even in front of the door. Jesus was speaking his message to them when some people came and brought him a paralyzed man being carried by four men. 

Again, the disciples were not out front selling tickets.  Well, maybe Judas was.  Jesus was not interested in fame.  We was “speaking His message to them”.  And what was “His message”?  Of course, Old Testament concepts on how to live the perfect, sinless and commandment keeping life.

Since they couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof over the place where he was. They dug through it and let down the mat on which the paralyzed man was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he told the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 

The crowd only saw a paralyzed man.  Jesus saw the heart.  They saw one who was an outcast from the church.  Jesus saw one who was a member of His family.  The crowd was keeping the man away from Jesus.  Jesus was drawing the man to Himself.  The man wanted his sins forgiven.  The church was not willing to forgive or accept him, therefore he turned to Jesus.  Jesus filled his need.  Jesus answered his unspoken desire.  Forgiveness was more important than physical healing.  For many inmates their greatest desire is to be forgiven.  They just don’t know how to ask.  But Jesus reads their pain and is willing to tell them, “Son, your sins are forgiven”.

Now some scribes were sitting there, arguing among themselves, “Why does this man talk this way? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 

Church people are always arguing.  For some reason, church people think it shows their superior knowledge in the Bible if they can find something to argue about.  What fools.  However, the scribes were right, no one can forgive “eternal” sins but God.  We are to forgive people who have sinned against us.  That is between us.  But eternal forgiveness can only come from God.  That is why, after asking for forgiveness from your brother, you are then to ask God for His forgiveness.  Going to church without being reconciled with the one you have hurt or has hurt you is useless.

At once, Jesus knew in his spirit what they were saying to themselves. “Why are you arguing about such things among yourselves?” he asked them.  “Which is easier: to say to the paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, pick up your mat, and walk’?  But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. Then he told the paralyzed man, “I say to you, get up, pick up your mat, and go home!” 

Oh yes, Jesus was God.  He was the “Son of Man” on earth, having been born of a human, but He was God, having been one with the Father from eternity.  He was God and had the authority to forgive eternal sins.  The sins the man had committed were against God.  He had broken God’s Ten Commandments and it was the prerogative and character of God to forgave Him.  Another principle: God cannot heal physically unless the soul is first healed and brought into oneness with God.  James 5:16.

So the man got up, immediately picked up his mat, and went out in front of all of them. As a result, all of the people were amazed and began to glorify God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” 

No, they had not.  All they had done was gone to church, observed feast days and rituals.  If they had read their Old Testaments they would have “seen” it done by God in the past.  But it hadn’t been done in about 600 years since the people made church their god and were not walking in obedience to Jesus.  Now the Old Testament was coming alive right before their eyes.  The God of the Old Testament was standing before them doing the same things He had done in the Old Testament.

Jesus went out again beside the sea. The whole crowd kept coming to him, and he kept teaching them. 

They kept coming, but not for truth.  Jesus kept teaching, but they were not listening.  He was just a good show to entertain their dreary lives.  They had church for their salvation, but their church wasn’t as exciting as Jesus.  We do the same today.  The name of “Jesus” is used for nothing more than a show to bring in the crowds and make money.  People go to church for their salvation.  They don’t want to go to Jesus.  Church tells them what they want to hear.  Jesus tells them what they don’t want to hear: truth.

As he was walking along, he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus, sitting at the tax collector’s desk. Jesus told him, “Follow me!” So Levi got up and followed him. 

It is interesting that with all the “good” church people following Him, he bypassed them all and chose a “sinner” to follow Him.  I can almost hear the gasps from the crowd.  I wonder if Jesus chose Levi because he was doing his duty and not sitting in church.  He was not interested in Jesus for the show.  Levi was a man who understood his obligations and didn’t care about the entertainment.

Later he was having dinner at Levi’s house. Many tax collectors and sinners were also eating with Jesus and his disciples, because there were many who were following him. 

I suppose one reason Jesus chose to have dinner at Levi’s house was to get away from the “good” church people who wouldn’t be caught dead in his house.  In this ministry, I find it is easier and more enjoyable hanging out with “sinners” than “religious” church people.  All church people do is gripe, complain, condemn, argue and judge.

When the scribes and the Pharisees saw him eating with sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 

Of course!  The leaders had to be there to keep an eye on Jesus.  They had to continuously bring up all the “sins” and “bad” things Jesus was doing.  He just wasn’t keeping the feast days, traditions, fasts, rituals and church policies the way they wanted Him to.  He was truly a bad example for church people.  People needed to be in church, not hanging out with “sinners” and tax collectors.

When Jesus heard that, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a physician, but sick ones do. I did not come to call righteous people, but sinners.” 

It is amazing how church people get around this text by claiming “we are all sinners”.  But they wouldn’t be caught dead with a “real” sinner.  Church people just don’t get it, they are the “healthy” people in this story, but it is the “sinners” who will be in heaven.  Why?  Because sick people recognize they need a doctor.  Church people feel absolutely no need for Jesus.  They think of themselves as “healthy”.  If church people actually recognized their sinful state, they would get out of church and go kneel at the feet of Doctor Jesus to become healed.

Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees would fast regularly. Some people came and asked Jesus, “Why do John’s disciples and the Pharisees’ disciples fast, but your disciples don’t fast?” 

While Jesus is talking about living the sinless, perfect and commandment keeping life for salvation, church people are always trying to change the direction from obedience to God to obedience to the church.  They are always nitpicking, griping, complaining, judging and measuring themselves by themselves.  But never are they measuring themselves by the standard of God: the Ten Commandments.  Thy just love to talk about the proper way to hold a church service, the proper hymn to sing, the proper music to play, the proper clothes to wear, the proper food to eat, the proper name to call Jesus, argue over the “trinity” and how to hold the feast days, etc., but never will you hear church people talk about how to live in obedience to the Ten Commandments.

Jesus replied, “The wedding guests can’t fast while the groom is with them, can they? As long as they have the groom with them, they can’t fast.  But the time will come when the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.”

The church people wanted an argument.  Jesus was not going to enter into an argument with the church.  Jesus had spoken over and over and over again about what was required for eternal life and the church people were not listening.  Therefore, He simply stated a fact, there will come a day when the “wedding guests” will fast.  But it will be a fast that has nothing to do with church or show.  It will be a true and meaningful fast, a sorrow for the loss of the Groom.  And be assured, the “wedding guests” were not church members.  Not then, not today. 

“No one patches an old garment with a piece of unshrunk cloth. If he does, the patch pulls away from it—the new from the old—and a worse tear is made. 

Churches, feast days, traditions, rituals and services were the old garment.  They had to be thrown out.  They were full of holes.  Trying to fix them would only make them worse.  People are doing the same today.  They love the old, comfortable garments they have been wearing.  Instead of throwing them out, they are attempting to patch the church rituals, feast days, ceremonies, traditions and services onto their sinful characters.  Won’t work.  They are still old, rotten and sinful.  Only a complete change, a totally new creation will be accepted by God.  Putting on a front, the whitewash of the church, will not work.

And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will make the skins burst, and both the wine and the skins will be ruined. Instead, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.” 

The Spirit of God cannot be poured into your old life.  You have to kill the old life.  You have to commit manslaughter on yourself.  You have to murder your old self and bury it.  The Spirit of God must have a new mind, a new wineskin to inhabit.  Otherwise, trying to pour the Holy Spirit into your old way of thinking will only burst your life and destroy it.  Get out of your old church and lifestyle.  Destroy the old man and become the new man God wants you to become.  You must be “born again” in order to be accepted by God and enter into Heaven.  You must be perfect, sinless and commandment keeping.  Anything else is the old wineskin and will be “ruined”.

Jesus happened to be going through the grain fields on a Sabbath. As they made their way, his disciples began picking the heads of grain.  The Pharisees asked him, “Look! Why are they doing what is not lawful on Sabbath days?” 

It wasn’t lawful according to the church, but nowhere in all the Old Testament will you find it unlawful by God’s standard.  If the disciples had been “harvesting” the grain for sale, yes, that was forbidden on the Sabbath in the Old Testament.  But to satisfy their hunger, it was perfectly legal.  Yet, here again, we find the church leadership not interested in truth, but in maintaining their church authority for “looks” and the show, rituals and traditions.

He asked them, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need?  How was it that he went into the House of God during the lifetime of Abiathar the high priest and ate the Bread of the Presence, which was not lawful for anyone but the priests to eat, and gave some of it to his companions?” 

Since they were so concerned about obedience to “church laws” Jesus gave an example of how even David and the priest Abiathar understood that the “church laws” were not important for salvation.  They were just pointers to Jesus.  But when necessary, all the temple services, rituals, ceremonies, traditions and feast days were to be “broken” when it came to the good of humanity.  They had nothing to do with eternal life.  Only the keeping of the Ten Commandments are required for eternal life.

“It is when the vital principles of the kingdom of God are lost sight of, that ceremonies become multitudinous and extravagant. It is when the character building is neglected, when the adornment of the soul is lacking, when the simplicity of godliness is despised, that pride and love of display demand magnificent church edifices, splendid adornings, and imposing ceremonials. But in all this God is not honored. He values His church, not for its external advantages, but for the sincere piety which distinguishes it from the world. He estimates it according to the growth of its members in the knowledge of Christ, according to their progress in spiritual experience. He looks for the principles of love and goodness. Not all the beauty of art can bear comparison with the beauty of temper and character to be revealed in those who are Christ’s representatives.

“A congregation may be the poorest in the land. It may be without the attractions of any outward show; but if the members possess the principles of the character of Christ, angels will unite with them in their worship. The praise and thanksgiving from grateful hearts will ascend to God as a sweet oblation.”
PK 565-566.

Then he told them, “The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath.  Therefore, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” 

Jesus created man first.  Jesus then created the Sabbath as a blessing for man.  God did not create the Sabbath first and then man to be a “slave” to it.  The Sabbath was to be a blessing for man.  The requirements of the Sabbath were to be for man’s joy, happiness and blessings.  He was to rest from his normal, daily work and activities to refresh his soul, clear his mind and rejuvenate his spirit.  Our lives were not meant to be a round of grinding work.  God loved us so much He gave us the Sabbath as a gift to be unwrapped every seventh day.  It was to be used for the health and welfare of mankind.  We are to use that day to bring joy and happiness to others.  We are to visit the sick, help the poor, feed the hungry and clothe the naked and spend lots of time with Jesus.  Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath.  The “Lord’s Day” is the 7th day Sabbath.  Jesus is love.  He created the Sabbath to be a day of love in our lives.  As Jesus is constantly giving and refreshing our lives, so we are to do the same to others on His 7th day Sabbath.

It is also a day for drawing closer to Jesus.  Through the week we can get a bit sidetracked from the Lord.  Therefore, use the Sabbath to come closer to Jesus.

 

Prison Mission Report

 

 

 

Testimony for God's People

 

My Dear Family in Christ,

As a “family”, our goal is to lift up each other before God all day long.  There is no time for selfishness or self-seeking.  We must encourage each member of this family to live in holiness.  This world is soon to pass away and all that will be left is our characters.  God can only take to Heaven those characters that can live in a sinless, perfect and commandment keeping environment.  Probation has been granted us to change our characters.  However, if we are wasting probationary time, there may not be time enough to accomplish the task. 

“In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Christ shows that in this life men decide their eternal destiny. During probationary time the grace of God is offered to every soul. But if men waste their opportunities in self-pleasing, they cut themselves off from everlasting life. No afterprobation will be granted them. By their own choice they have fixed an impassable gulf between them and their God.” COL 260.

Let us listen now to the voice of God through His servant.  Let us make every minute that God has graciously provided for us count.

Christian Recreation

I have been thinking what a contrast would be seen between our (Christian) gathering here today and such gatherings as they are generally conducted by unbelievers. Instead of prayer, and the mention of Christ and religious things, would be heard silly laughter and trifling conversation. Their object would be to have a general high time. It would commence in folly and end in vanity. We want to have these gatherings so conducted, and to so conduct ourselves, that we can return to our homes with a conscience void of offense toward God and man; a consciousness that we have not wounded nor injured in any manner those with whom we have associated, or had an injurious influence over them.

As I look about our “Christian” communities and church members, I am saddened by the lack of “Christian” conduct.  There is way too much folly and vanity in our churches, our homes and in our social gatherings.  We seem to think that if we mention Jesus, start off with a prayer or meet on “Sabbath”, that will make it a “Christian” meeting.  God is not in our churches, our homes or our gatherings.  Why?  Because the focus is not to change the life, but to show off our pride, ego and vanity.  There is so much gossip in our churches, our homes and gatherings that the pure angels of God cannot attend.  There are so many divisions, clicks and “groupings” that it is impossible to go home with a clear conscience.  I am beginning to think that wounding and injuring others has become a “Christian” duty in our churches.

Here is where very many fail. They do not consider that they are accountable for the influence they daily exert; that they must render an account to God for the impressions they make, and the influence they cast, in all their associations in life. If this influence is such as shall have a tendency to draw the minds of others away from God and attract them into the channel of vanity and folly, leading them to seek their own pleasure in amusements and foolish indulgences, they must give an account for this. And if these persons are men and women of influence, if their position is such that their example will affect others, then a greater sin will rest upon them for neglecting to regulate their conduct by the Bible standard.

Before God sent me to prison, I was very guilty of that paragraph.  But since I was a member of a prominent Sabbath keeping church, it was the norm and “everybody” did it.  There were no Christians to teach me.  Changing the habits of a lifetime can be hard work.  I understand why Jesus said we must “strive” to enter the Kingdom of God.  I don’t see any church members “striving” to enter the Kingdom of God.  They strive to get to a pagan church once a week.  They strive for the things of this world.  But are they striving to change their lives for Heaven?

The occasion we are enjoying today is just according to my ideas of recreation. I have tried to give my views upon this subject, but they are better illustrated than expressed. I was on this ground about one year ago when there was a gathering similar to this. Nearly everything passed off very pleasantly then, but still some things were objectionable. Considerable jesting and joking were indulged in by some. All were not Sabbathkeepers, and an influence was manifest that was not as pleasant as we could wish.

Today, the devil has the whole world jesting, joking and making merry.  In the political arena, each side is jesting, joking and making merry of the other side.  Without the Spirit of God, the influence manifested in the world and our churches is not as “pleasant as we could wish”.  It will only get worse.  Christians are no longer leading the way in purity and in righteous influences.  It is the churches that are leading the way to jesting, joking and moral decay.  They have rejected the Ten Commandments and have accepted “saved by grace”.  Therefore, they believe they can do anything they want and still be saved.  How satanic.

But I believe that, while we are seeking to refresh our spirits and invigorate our bodies, we are required of God to use all our powers at all times to the best purpose. We may associate together as we do here today, and do all to the glory of God. We can and should conduct our recreations in such a manner that we shall be fitted for the more successful discharge of the duties devolving upon us, and that our influence shall be more beneficial upon those with whom we associate. Especially should it be the case upon an occasion like this, which should be of good cheer to us all. We can return to our homes improved in mind and refreshed in body, and prepared to engage in the work anew, with better hope and better courage.

We believe that it is our privilege every day of our lives to glorify God upon the earth; that we are not to live in this world merely for our own amusement, merely to please ourselves. We are here to benefit humanity, to be a blessing to society. And if we should let our minds run in that low channel in which many who are seeking only vanity and folly permit their minds to run, how could we be a blessing to society, a benefit to our race and generation? We cannot innocently indulge in any amusement which will unfit us for the more faithful discharge of ordinary life duties.

We want to seek the elevated and lovely. We want to direct the mind away from those things that are superficial and of no importance, that have no solidity. What we desire is, to be gathering new strength from all that we engage in. From all these gatherings for the purpose of recreation, from all these pleasant associations, we want to be gathering new strength to become better men and women. From every source possible we want to gather new courage, new strength, new power, that we may elevate our lives to purity and holiness, and not come down upon the low level of this world. We hear many who profess the religion of Christ speak often like this: “We must all come down upon a level.” There is no such thing as Christians coming down upon a level. To embrace the truth of God and the religion of the Bible is not coming down, it is coming up upon an elevated level, a higher standpoint, where we may commune with God.

For this very reason Christ humbled Himself to take upon Him our nature, that by His own humiliation and suffering and sacrifice He might become a steppingstone to fallen men, that they might climb up upon His merits, and that through His excellence and virtue their efforts to keep God’s law might be accepted of Him. There is no such thing here as coming down upon a level. We are seeking to plant our feet upon the elevated and exalted platform of eternal truth. We are seeking to become more like the heavenly angels, more pure in heart, more sinless, harmless, and undefiled.

I am sorry to say, I don’t see one church, pastor, minister, church leader or denomination seeking to become “more pure in heart, more sinless, harmless and undefiled”.  They are all trying to become more like the churches of the world and less like Jesus.  It is all about church.  Like the people of Israel who wanted a king to be like all the other nations, so I see churches that go to church on Sabbath wanting to be like all the Sunday churches.

We are seeking for purity and holiness of life, that we may at last be fitted for the heavenly society in the kingdom of glory; and the only means to attain this elevation of Christian character is through Jesus Christ. There is no other way for the exaltation of the human family. Some talk of the humiliation they endure and the sacrifice they make, because they adopt the truth of heavenly origin! It is true that the world do not accept the truth; unbelievers do not receive it. They may talk of those that have embraced the truth and sought the Saviour, and represent them as leaving everything, giving up everything, and making a sacrifice of everything that is worth retaining. But do not tell me this. I know better. My experience proves it to be otherwise. You need not tell me that we have to give up our dearest treasures and receive no equivalent. No, indeed! That Creator who planted the beautiful Eden for our first parents, and who has planted for us the lovely trees and flowers, and provided everything that is beautiful and glorious in nature for the human race to enjoy, designed that they should enjoy it. Then do not think that God wishes us to yield up everything which it is for our happiness here to retain. He requires us to give up only that which it would not be for our good and happiness to retain.

Did you notice, “and the only means to attain this elevation of Christian character is through Jesus Christ”.  Nothing there about going to church.  Nothing there about belonging to any denomination.  Nothing there about listening to your pastor.  Nothing there about keeping the feast days.  Go home, open up your Bible and learn how to attain the character of Jesus.

Even though this ministry has very little, it sits on four acres with a pond, 86 trees, four lawns, two turtles, two ducks and two dogs.  We sit at the base of mountains and couldn’t ask for anything better.  What joy the Lord has brought us.  I only want what we need to do His work here at the ministry.  God is so good.

That God who has planted these noble trees and clothed them with their rich foliage, who has given us the brilliant and beautiful shades of the flowers, and whose lovely handiwork we see in all the realm of nature, does not design to make us unhappy; He does not design that we shall have no taste for, and take no pleasure in, these things. It is His design that we shall enjoy them and be happy in the charms of nature, which are of His own creating.

When people ask me what church I go to, I share with them that God has given me a “church” far greater than anything man could devise.  I can sit among nature here reading letters from inmates, answering them, and enjoying our “fellowship” at a level sitting in church could never attain.  Church siting is selfish, Christianity is serving others.

It is right that we should choose such places as this grove for seasons of relaxation and recreation. But while we arehere it is not to devote our attention to ourselves merely, and fritter away precious time in amusements which will encourage a disrelish for sacred things. We have not come here to indulge in jesting and joking, in foolish talk and senseless laughter. We here behold the beauties of nature. And what then? Shall we fall down and worship them? No, indeed. But as we behold these works of nature we should let the mind be carried up higher, to nature’s God; let it be elevated to the Creator of the universe, and then adore the Creator who has made all these beautiful things for our benefit and happiness.

I love sitting in the gazebo by the pond, under the Popular trees watching the ducks and turtles.  During the summer there will be many birds also enjoying the pond.  Some big birds fly in.  Hawks and Falcons make wonderful “friends”.  

Many delight in lovely paintings and are ready to worship the talent which can produce a beautiful drawing, but where do those who devote their lives to this work obtain their designs? where do the artists get their ideas of things to put upon canvass? From nature’s beautiful scenery—from nature, only from nature. Individuals devote the entire strength of their being, and bestow all their affections, upon their tastes in this direction. Many withdraw their minds from the beauties and glories of nature that our Creator has prepared for them to enjoy, and devote all the powers of their being to perfection of art; yet all these things are only imperfect copies from nature. Art can never attain the perfection seen in nature.

The Maker of all the beautiful things of nature is forgotten. I have seen many who would go into ecstasies over a picture of a sunset, while at the same time they could have the privilege of seeing an actual and glorious sunset almost every evening in the year. They can see the beautiful tints in which nature’s invisible Master Artist has with divine skill painted glorious scenes on the shifting canvass of the heavens, and yet they carelessly turn from the Heaven-wrought picture to paintings of art, traced by imperfect fingers, and almost fall down and worship them. What is the reason of this? It is because the enemy is almost constantly seeking to divert the mind from God. When we present God and the religion of Christ, will they receive them? No, indeed. They cannot accept of Christ. What! they make the sacrifice they would have to make to receive Him? Not at all! But what is required? Simply the heart’s best and holiest affections for Him who left the glory of the Father and came down to die for a race of rebels. He left His riches, His majesty, and His high command, and took upon Himself our nature, that He might make a way of escape—to do what? to humiliate you? to degrade you? No, indeed. To make a way of escape for you from hopeless misery, to elevate you at last to His own right hand in His kingdom. For this the great, the immense, sacrifice was made. And who can realize this great sacrifice? Who can appreciate it? None but those who understand the mystery of godliness, who have tasted the powers of the world to come, who have drunk from the cup of salvation that has been presented to us. This cup of salvation the Lord offers us, while with His own lips He drained, in our stead, the bitter cup which our sins had prepared, and which was apportioned for us to drink. Yet we talk as though Christ, who has made such a sacrifice, and manifested such love for us, would deprive us of everything that is worth having.

God put us in a valley between 10,000 foot mountains on the south and big rock piles of several hundred feet on the north.  We can look from East to West with little interruption.  Therefore, we have some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets.  I will go out and lift my eyes to Jesus and thank Him for His awesome “painting” just for me.  And then there are those times when we are able to see full, from floor to floor, huge rainbows.  Many times they are double rainbows.  It is as if they were given just for my enjoyment.   

Of what good would He deprive us? He would deprive us of the privilege of giving up to the natural passions of the carnal heart. We cannot get angry just when we please, and retain a clear conscience and the approval of God. But are we not willing to give this up? Will the indulgence of corrupt passions make us any happier? It is because it will not that restrictions are laid upon us in this respect. It will not add to our enjoyment to get angry and cultivate a perverse temper. It is not for our happiness to follow the leadings of the natural heart. And shall we be made better by indulging them? No; they will cast a shadow in our households and throw a pall over our happiness. Giving way to the natural appetites will only injure the constitution and tear the system to pieces. Therefore God would have us restrict the appetite, control the passions, and hold in subjection the entire man. And He has promised to give us strength if we will engage in this work.

In actuality, our churches have become like the paintings talked about.  We marvel at the architecture, glorify the man and think we are getting closer to Jesus sitting in a man-made building.  Get out!  Go home, to a park, a forest or somewhere you can contemplate the beauty and majesty of Jesus.  Putting a few potted plants in your church isn’t going to do the trick.  

The sin of Adam and Eve caused a fearful separation between God and man. And Christ steps in between fallen man and God, and says to man: “You may yet come to the Father; there is a plan devised through which God can be reconciled to man, and man to God; through a mediator you can approach God.” And now He stands to mediate for you. He is the great High Priest who is pleading in your behalf; and you are to come and present your case to the Father through Jesus Christ. Thus you can find access to God; and though you sin, your case is not hopeless. “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

I thank God that we have a Saviour. And there is no way whereby we can be exalted, except through Christ. Then let no one think that it is a great humiliation on his part to accept of Christ; for when we take that step we take hold of the golden cord that links finite man with the infinite God; we take the first step toward true exaltation, that we may be fitted for the society of pure and heavenly angels in the kingdom of glory.

Be not discouraged; be not fainthearted. Although you may have temptations, although you may be beset by the wily foe, yet if you have the fear of God before you, angels that excel in strength will be sent to your help, and you can be more than a match for the powers of darkness. Jesus lives. He died to make a way of escape for the fallen race, and He lives today to make intercession for us, that we may be exalted to His own right hand. Hope in God. The world is traveling the broad way; and as you travel in the narrow way, and have to contend with principalities and powers, and to meet the opposition of foes, remember that provision has been made for you. Help has been laid upon One that is mighty, and through Him you can conquer.

Come out from among them, and be separate, saith the Lord, and I will receive you, and ye shall be sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. What a promise is this! It is a pledge to you that you shall become members of the royal family, heirs of the heavenly kingdom. If a person is honored by, or becomes connected with, any of the monarchs of earth, how it goes the rounds of the periodicals of the day and excites the envy of those who think themselves less fortunate. But here is One who is King over all, the monarch of the universe, the Originator of every good thing; and He says to us: I will make you My sons and daughters; I will unite you to Myself; you shall become members of the royal family and children of the heavenly King.

We really do need to get out of our churches and turn our eyes toward Jesus.  Church only brings us down to the level of man.  Human thinking, human envy, human gossip, human praise, yet none of it will get you any closer to Jesus.  Cleans yourself from the filthiness of the church environment and go sit with Jesus.  Take your family to find God in nature.

Says Paul: “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Why should we not do this, when we have such an inducement, the privilege of becoming children of the Most High, the privilege of calling the God of heaven our Father? Is not that enough? And do you call this depriving you of everything that is worth having? Is this giving up everything that is worth possessing? Let me be united to God and holy angels, for this is my highest ambition. You may have all the possessions of this world; but I must have Jesus; I must have a right to the immortal inheritance, the eternal substance. Let me enjoy the beauties of the kingdom of God. Let me delight in the paintings which His own fingers have colored. I may enjoy them. You may enjoy them. We may not worship them, but through them we may be directed to Him and behold His glory who made all these things for our enjoyment.

Again I say: Be of good courage. Trust in the Lord. Let not the enemy rob you of the promises. If you have separated yourselves from the world, God has said that He will be your Father, and you shall be His sons and daughters. Is not that enough? What greater inducement could be presented before you? Is there any great object in being a butterfly and having no substance or aim in life? Oh! let me stand on the platform of eternal truth. Give me immortal worth. Let me grasp the golden chain that is let down from heaven to earth, and let it draw me up to God and glory. This is my ambition; this is my aim. If others have no higher object than dress, if they can delight in outward display and satisfy their souls with bows and ribbons and fantastic things, let them enjoy these. But let me have the inward adorning. Let me be clothed with that meek and quiet spirit which is in the sight of God of great price. And I recommend it to you, young gentlemen and ladies, for it is more precious in His sight than the gold of Ophir. It is this which makes a man more precious than fine gold, even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. My sisters, and you young people, it will make you more precious in the sight of Heaven than fine gold, yea, than the golden wedge of Ophir. I recommend to you Jesus, my blessed Saviour. I adore Him; I magnify Him. Oh, that I had an immortal tongue, that I could praise Him as I desire! that I could stand before the assembled universe and speak in praise of His matchless charms!

And while I adore and magnify Him, I want you to magnify Him with me. Praise the Lord even when you fall into darkness. Praise Him even in temptation. “Rejoice in the Lord alway,” says the apostle; “and again I say, Rejoice.” Will that bring gloom and darkness into your families? No, indeed; it will bring a sunbeam. You will thus gather rays of eternal light from the throne of glory and scatter them around you. Let me exhort you to engage in this work, scatter this light and life around you, not only in your own path, but in the paths of those with whom you associate. Let it be your object to make those around you better, to elevate them, to point them to heaven and glory, and lead them to seek, above all earthly things, the eternal substance, the immortal inheritance, the riches which are imperishable. 2T 585-593

Today, the church is the enemy.  It is the “antichrist”.  Go to Jesus.  Spend time with Him away from the distractions of the church, church people and church politics.  Go home and spend time with Jesus.

 

Ministry News

Thank you for your love and support of this little ministry.  Without your consistent, punctual, dedicated support, this ministry would not be able to continue the work God called it to do.  Thank you for letting the Spirit of God touch your hearts with the desire to support God’s ministry.

God bless each of you,

Ron