Monday, December 17, 2007

Coming Out For Unity

The apostle Paul said, “I appeal to you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same understanding and in the same judgment” (1Cor. 1:10). Just hours before his arrest and crucifixion, Jesus earnestly prayed for those who would believe in him, that “they all might be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they may also be one in us, so that the world might believe that you sent me (Jn. 17:21).

The unity of His children is a matter of the highest concern to our heavenly Father. And His will in this matter is why we have come out of all sectarian religion. Just look around, and you will see that every religion that is of man on the earth is hopelessly divided. And for God’s dear children to join any of the sects within these religious systems, including the one called Christianity, automatically separates that believer from God’s other children who join other sects. Supporting one sect’s doctrine and traditions is to oppose the efforts of other believers who support the doctrines and traditions of other sects. We are opposing each other as long as we belong to sects with conflicting doctrines and rituals.

Since God’s will is for His children to be one, as He and His Son are one (Jn. 17:20-23), then it must be His will for all us who believe in Jesus to forsake all that divides us. He can heal us! But this healing can never happen as long as we cling to our preferred sect.

We, and others like us around the world, are badly misunderstood, and we have been criticized severely for refusing to participate in anything that would divide us from God’s dear people, but I maintain that what we have done is the only reasonable course for the children of God to take. We live in this country, and are divided by geography from most of God’s people in other lands. But we can do nothing about those kinds of differences. But we can do something about our choice to join or not join a denomination and sect. We have been shown by Christ Jesus to love our fellow believers too much to do that.

Admittedly, it will require a mighty miracle for God to unite us, even if we all do His will and abandon the sects which we have joined, but should we not at least make ourselves available to our Father in hope that He might at least possibly do that miracle? In just six days, God created this entire universe out of nothing. Think of what he might do for us if we would just co-operate with Him and give Him a chance! On the other hand, please consider this: If we refuse our Father’s call and cling to the sects and denominations we have chosen, there is no possibility that we will ever be one, as the Father and the Son are united. Is that what we really want?

If we love fervently one another, and if we love our heavenly Father with all our hearts, then surely we will feel compelled to come out of all that divides us and to pray, as one, that Jesus will show us truth that will heal the breaches in our fellowship. Does it make any difference how impossible it seems now? Our God is mighty! He can unite us, we believe, if we will but co-operate with Him. Oh, let’s trust our heavenly Father to help us be what He has always wanted us to be! He can make it possible that we “speak the same thing and have no divisions among you, but be united in the same understanding and in the same judgment.”

The apostle Paul told the saints in Philippi that he wanted them to have the same love, one for another (Phip. 2:1-4). I, and others I know, hold you so dear to our hearts that we have forsaken everything under our control that would divide us from you. Now, how much do you love us?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Happy Is The man Whom God Corrects

From Sister Ashley.

Lately, it has been stressed that we need to know why we are here, and know that this way of life is what we want. Of course, this makes you go through a period where you "check" yourself. Asking God how you're doing, if anything needs fixing, etc. A friend of mine had the best testimony the other week, and in it she was saying she had been going through a time like that. She was wondering if in her heart she was 100% for God’s way of life. And she said the Spirit reminded her of everything she has gone through in the past year or so, and how she gave up something that she'd always wanted, marriage and a family, because the man she was married to didn't want God anymore and was very abusive, physically and mentally. But she didn't have to keep loving God. He was showing her that she did have a heart to do what is right, and that she showed it by the life she chose to continue living.

Well, last week, I was going through the same thing, asking God if I really had a heart for him, and the same thing happened. I started remembering everything that I have gone through this past year. I lost my father, brother, and my mother to this world, but I hung in there, by the grace of God. And then He blessed me beyond what I could have imagined. During this past year, I have been scourged to the bone by God, and I was thinking about that, and I was reminded of a conversation with Token a few months back. I was very sick, and she came to see me. She was rubbing my head and said "God sure does love you." I looked at her, kind of wondering where that came from, and she reminded me of the scriptures in the bible referring to God chastening those He loves. And when you think of that, what love it is! Not that it feels good to be chastened at the time,but afterwards, the cleanness and the love in it overwhelm the rest. Here are the scriptures that I found referring to the love of God's chastisement, from such great men as John, Paul, Job, and David (you can tell that they had their share, but loved God for it):

Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: (Job 5:17)

Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law; (Psalm 94:12)

The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death. (Psalm 118:18)

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (Hebrews 12:6)

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. (Hebrews 12:11)

But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:32)

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. (Revelation 3:19)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Road To Salvation

Good afternoon Bro John,

I drew near to the Lord this morning, and this is what I heard.

If you are overtaken in a fault, you do not need to repent of the fault, you need to repent of the road you are on, the road that had the fault on it. There is no sin on the road to salvation. This road, the road of the Spirit, leads home to Christ and it knows the way perfectly. Sin is not on this road.

On this road, a living road, God is always communicating with His children. Like a shipmaster constantly guiding. He never stops tweeking the wheel. God is a living voice in our inner ear, and if we follow, then we are being led by the Spirit, and that makes us sons of God, according to the scriptures.

We need to seek to learn the voice of God, knowing that it leads to salvation, and follow it perfectly. We should expect for it to tell us things that we would not have thought of. Or give us instruction that we would not have chosen on our own. If we were doing all the things that it told us already, we would have no need for it.

Sometimes, it might tell us to do something that we may not especially want to do. Or tell us to refrain from something that we see no harm in or might enjoy. God may give us such instruction with no further insight into it. Our place is to obey, not asking why before we do it. Asking our Father why we should do something is the lesser attempting to qualify the motive of the greater. To ask why is to say "Let me see if your reason is good enough for me to carry this out." That is what children are doing when they ask why before following the instruction of their parent, and it is not good in the sight of the Lord. If left to grow in children, it will produce an adult defiant to authority and unable to obey God without some painful reconditioning.

Men should obey the Lord with complete submission, knowing that everything He does is for our good, even when it hurts. And by that, we are made fit to be followed by our wives in the same manner and then we can, with all confidence, require our children to follow us both.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Feeding the Lambs

It is the tendency of the human fleshly nature to shirk its responsibilities. A person “walking in the flesh”, as Paul would put it, will be inclined to escape duty, sometimes by making another feel that the duty is his. And this can happen among believers as well as those of the world.

It is a father’s responsibility to lead his family in the ways of Christ. It is not a pastor’s responsibility to teach anyone else’s children about Jesus and the truth of the gospel. The flesh would have a parent to take the children to religious gatherings and be content with that for their education, but there is nothing that can ever take the place of godly instruction from the parents, at home, especially instruction from the father.

It is the shepherd’s responsibility to feed the sheep, but it is the ewe’s responsibility to feed her lambs. The sheep know the shepherd’s voice; the lambs do not. The little ones follow their parents wherever they go, and they trust their parents. It is the parents’ responsibility to know who they are following.

It can be flattering to a minister when the congregation begins to laud him and lean on him and look to him for spiritual guidance for their whole families. It can puff up a man to think that he can actually feed the whole families of other men, but to try to do that is a self-destructive trap. To labor to supply others’ families the spiritual meat which the head of each house alone is ordained by God to supply is too much of a burden for any man. It is to spend one’s strength doing what is another’s responsibility to do, and no man is capable of bearing that burden for long.

Fathers, guide your own children, whom God has placed in your care, “in the fear and admonition of the Lord.” No one can replace you in your children’s eyes. Mothers, diligently do your part in teaching your children of the ways of God. No one else can do that for them as you can. Everyone in the body has a part in the life of everyone else in the body. But no one in the body can play the part of anyone else, for “God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He wanted. But if one member were everything, where would the body be?” (1Cor. 12:18-19).

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Uncle Joe, 2: Peace

After Uncle Joe had been healed of cancer, he continued to receive a disability check from the government until his health so much improved that the checks were discontinued. During the time that he was receiving the checks, he was consumed with Bible study and writing little messages which, to this day, almost no one has ever read. The following quote is taken from one of those little messages. It is a wisdom that is obtained only by those who find themselves utterly alone with God. This is the place Uncle Joe found himself in 1959 when he was given no more than ninety days to live. He spent the remaining thirty-seven years of his life praising God and testifying of the value of finding oneself alone with God.

“Before peace can be established in any country, there must be a conquering power. The aggressive forces of evil must be subdued by a power greater than they. This is also true in the life of every individual. No man or woman has ever found peace until the power of God’s holy Spirit has driven out the natural human tendency toward rebellion and strife.”

The nature of man is sinful and stubborn and must be subdued by God before anyone can have peace in his heart. We must be delivered from ourselves! May God help us to submit quickly to His authority and to receive Him as conqueror of our souls. He demands our unconditional surrender, and only those who yield to His demand ever experience the joy of real peace.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In God's Presence

After Uncle Joe had been healed of cancer, he continued to receive a disability check from the government until his health so much improved that the checks were discontinued. During the time that he was receiving the checks, he was consumed with Bible study and writing little messages which, to this day, almost no one has ever read. The following quote is taken from one of those little messages. It is a wisdom that is obtained only by those who find themselves utterly alone with God. This is the place Uncle Joe found himself in 1959 when he was given no more than ninety days to live. He spent the remaining thirty-seven years of his life praising God and testifying of the value of finding oneself alone with God.

“The nearer we get to God, the harder we seek Him
because in His presence, we feel our weakness.”

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Social Introductions

From a home prayer meeting in 1969

Uncle Joe testified in a meeting in 1969 and left us this pearl. I’ll summarize how he started his testimony that day:

I think we ought to forget about all that formal, social introduction to each other when we meet the children of God and let God introduce Himself. Let the Spirit of God in each of us have fellowship through each other, and then we’ll know each other, and we won’t have to ask very many questions. We don’t have to go through all that commotion the world goes through in order for us to get acquainted. God’s already acquainted with Himself, and we belong to Him. We’re all one family.

This testimony reminded me of an observation made by Sister Donna not long ago. She laughed when she thought of how often we all have greeted one another when we meet and the Spirit of God would fall on us. After that blessing of God was given, we often back up a little and then do the obligatory, "How are you?" But the holy Ghost has already told us how we are! It is as Uncle Joe said, just let the Spirit within us have its fellowship among us, and we will know each other. And we will know how each other is really doing by the feelings of the Spirit within us. We will not have to go through the usual, worldly motion of introduction and inquiry..

The apostle Paul said something like this when he told the Corinthians that he was coming. There was some controversy among the saints at that time, and Paul said that when he arrived, he would know how everyone was doing by the power of God that they had (1Cor. 4:19). I doubt very seriously that when Paul arrived in Corinth and gathered with the saints, he shook their hand and said, "How ya doin’?"

Of course, this can be taken to an extreme and make people afraid to ask any questions of each other, but Uncle Joe’s point was a good one. We really do not know how anyone is doing unless we know their spirits, and with enough spiritual discernment, there will not be many questions that we need to ask.

Pearls from the Preacher

"The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd."
Eccl. 12:11

From a home prayer meeting in 1969

When I listened to the sermon of that Sunday afternoon prayer meeting in Grandma’s house in 1969, I wrote down some of the wisdom that I heard. Here are a few examples from Preacher Clark:

"When you quit seeking God, that’s when you quit getting God."

"You know, a hypocrite never bothers anybody but another hypocrite."

"I’m not even worthy of the honor and the praise of the clean children of God until I get equipped to stand the persecution of the others."

"I’m the happiest man in the world that I know. The happiest man in the world that I know is me because I’m not battling disappointments. If it doesn’t go like I’d like it to go, then I like it the way it does go. I rejoice in tribulation. I praise God for tribulation."

"You’re not going to win anybody to Christ until they decide they want to be like you."

"If you fall in love with the Lord, you won’t have a hard time being true to him."

"Just tell me you love Jesus, and you’re my friend."

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Know Thyself

Hey Pastor John!

I have been listening to the Philippians/Colossians teaching series that you did and we are preparing as a series for everyone. I heard you say this last night on one of the CDs, and I wrote it down:

"If you know why you are doing what you are doing, and why you are where you are, what can intimidate you? What you want and need to know is you. What you want to know is you, in God.

Who are you? What are you after? Where did you come from? How did you get here? And, what's your point? Even Socrates said, 'Know Thyself'. He knew that is where you needed to start.

Know your own heart. Know your own mind. Pray, 'God, show me myself!' If He shows you that new creature He created, you are going to like yourself."

Then, I thought about what you told us last Sunday when reading in Ephesians chapter 4. What seemed like "commandments" in the New Testament are really descriptions of who we are in Christ. If you don't know you, you can start there! 8-)


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The God of Eternity

"I know that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever."
Solomon, in Ecclesiastes 3:14
Bro. John:

I want to share something that the Lord gave me today about how important it is to submit ourselves to God’s love.

Yielding to the Spirit IS submitting to God’s love. It is letting God love us. I was thinking on that this morning, and how God has a purpose in everything that He does. The Lord spoke to me and said, "I am the God for Eternity." Then He began to teach me what that meant.

God is not a "temporary fixer-upper." What He does for us when we yield to His Spirit goes towards readiness for Eternity. His touches are FOR Eternity. He does something in our souls that is lasting. God is FOR Eternity! And what He does for us is for Eternity! He is not offering His love to us for us to sit and watch it fall. What else can you call the Spirit than the love of God in action? It is only in submitting and yielding to that love through His Spirit that we will find the "forever" touches that will prepare us to live with the "God for Eternity". Nothing is temporary with Him. He means it for Eternity.

When I woke up this morning, I got my coffee and was going to catch up on the news. The Lord said, "Why don’t you spend some time with me?" Praise God! I am so glad that I did. I started reading in Colossians, and then was led to read in Ecclesiastes, and ended in Joshua 7. God had something for me in every place I read. The news reports would have been temporary; what God had for me took my heart towards Eternity.

Later in the day, thinking about what the Lord had shown me earlier, I found in Ecclesiastes 3:14 what Solomon said: "I know that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: Nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it; and God doeth it, that men should fear before him."


Thank you, Sandy. That is so good!

I learned from your testimony that when God is blessing us, He is doing something in us and for us that He intends to last forever. He is not preparing us just to survive the next few hours. He is the God of eternal things. If we understand that, then when God blesses us, we will be more likely to hold on to our blessings.

Now, we know that when God blesses, the blessing doesn’t decrease. It is an eternal thing. If we lose the joy, it is not because God didn’t give us enough of it; rather, it is because we went somewhere where the blessing was not. We left it behind. When I thought on that, I realized that holding on to the blessings God gives us is what the Bible calls being faithful. We are faithful when we refuse to leave the place where God blesses us. We are faithful when we refuse to be drawn into a quarrel, or join in a dishonest scheme, or go anywhere, spiritually, where God’s blessings are not given. The faithful man stays in that spiritual place where God blesses.
Let’s hold on to the attitude that God blesses. Let’s keep walking in the way that God blesses. Let’s keep confessing Christ and loving our neighbor as ourselves because those are "places" where God blesses.

Your testimony reminded me of some words from Darren’s new song (what a holy song that is!): "Doesn’t everybody know the feelings last forever?" Our fellowship in Christ lasts forever, for, being from God, it is a forever thing. May God give us strength to stand fast in the place of that holy fellowship and not be lured away by the flesh or by unclean spirits.

Pastor John

A Greater Is Here

"Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfection. . ."
Hebrews 6:1

In the verse above, "leaving" does not mean denying or ignoring; it means building upon. All the truth God reveals now builds upon truth that was revealed before.

No one truly understands or believes in John the Baptist’s baptism until he understands and believes that John’s baptism is no longer to be practiced. The truth of "one baptism" does not deny or ignore John’s baptism; it simply leaves it behind as we are brought nearer to God. If there is anyone on earth still making the animal sacrifices that Moses commanded, that person does not understand animal sacrifice as well as I do because I have left it behind. By the grace of God, I have believed those sacrifices were of God, but I am now closer to God than the Old Testament characters who had to perform such sacrifices. In Christ, I am beyond those works of the Law. In Christ, I understand those animal sacrifices, and, understanding them, I do not participate in them.

Jesus didn’t deny that Solomon had wisdom from God, but he did say that "a greater than Solomon is here." He did not deny or ignore the fact that Moses’ tabernacle or, later, the Temple in Jerusalem was holy, but he did say, "in this place, is one greater than the temple." He knew the story of Jonah was true and that the whole population of Nineveh, over one hundred twenty thousand people, including their king, repented at Jonah’s preaching. But he told a group of Pharisees, "a greater than Jonah is here." We do not deny the truth God revealed to the prophets and elders of Israel by leaving their revelation behind to draw closer to God. On the contrary, we deny that Jesus is greater than those Old Covenant men and objects when we do not leave them behind.

Paul knew that the Law of Moses was holy (Rom 7:12). He did not deny that. He made it perfectly clear to all his listeners that he understood the glory of God was in the Law and its ceremonies. Nevertheless, he had left those things behind as he built upon them to view the surpassing excellency of Christ. He wrote, "Now if the ministry of death written in letters engraved on stones was so glorious that the sons of Israel were not able to look steadily upon Moses’ face because of the glory of his countenance (which glory is being brought to an end), how is the ministry of the Spirit not more glorious? If there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound with glory. For indeed, that which was made glorious has come to have no glory in comparison to the surpassing glory of Christ." (2Cor.3:7-10). Paul neither denied nor ignored the holiness of the things God had given to Israel, but he left them behind. He rose above them to live in the Spirit of Christ.

In Christ, we leave behind what once were holy things, such as holy days and Sabbaths, physical circumcision, an earthly temple, the burning of incense, and ceremonial robes. We do not deny those things were of God. We leave Moses behind because a greater than Moses has come. We leave behind the burning of incense that God commanded Israel because, in Christ, we have a better kind of fire, so much purer and more acceptable to God that the old kind loses all its glory. We leave behind the animal sacrifices God commanded because a greater sacrifice has now been made, one that was so precious in God’s sight that He is now willing to forgive all the sins that have ever been committed by mankind on earth, if those people will simply approach Him in the name of Jesus for it.

Paul spoke of certain men who "profess to know God, but in works they deny Him" (Tit. 1:16). This is a wise observation. There are many who profess to know that Jesus is Lord of all, but they continue performing ceremonies as if he is not. Their works deny what their mouths profess. Don’t let your works make your words worthless. If the Messiah has really come, then let us act like it and leave behind all those things God once used to foreshadow his coming.

This is a far better covenant than the first one, so much better, in fact, that every holy and good thing in the first covenant has lost its glory. We do not deny or ignore the fact that God anointed certain people and things under the Old Covenant; still, we have left it behind because Jesus, a greater than all those people and things is here, and we refuse to deny him.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Two Ways To Be Delivered

"I know, O Lord, that your judgments are right,
and that you in faithfulness have afflicted me
David in Psalm 119:75

If we do wrong, God is faithful to cause us to suffer for it, if in no other way than in causing us to suffer the heavy feeling of condemnation in our hearts. A large part of God’s work in our lives is to cause us to feel guilty when we have erred, and it is a precious gift from God to be able to feel bad for doing wrong.

There are many people on this planet who can commit great wickedness and yet suffer no pangs of guilt at all. These are the people God hates. Conviction for sin is part of the chastening of God, and God chastens only those whom He loves (Rev. 3:19). Without chastisement from God, no one can possibly repent. Man has nothing within him that causes him to feel like repenting for evil; conviction for sin comes only from the Spirit of God.

The chastening of the Lord is more precious than gold. It is an invitation from God to come be forgiven. David knew this well, and he wrote (Ps. 94:12-13), "Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy Law, that thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity." It made David tremble to think that God would refuse to chasten him when he needed it, but he knew God would be faithful to His people and correct them for their errors, "for the Lord will not cast off His people, neither will He forsake His inheritance" (Ps. 94:14). The man whom God will not chasten has been forsaken by God.

Jesus will work with us for years, constantly making our conscience feel guilt when we are overtaken by a fault. This is part of what being a Savior means, for by the pangs of guilt we are prodded away from the way of sin. It is then, when we turn from sin to God, and God then forgives and cleanses us from sin, that we experience "deliverance" from the guilt that burdens our heart when we have sinned.

Another Way of Deliverance

But being forgiven and washed from sin is not the only way to be delivered from feelings of guilt for sin. We can also be "delivered" from that burden if God ceases to grant us those feelings of guilt. Over the years, I have seen several cases of this. I have heard testimonies from those who have claimed to be delivered, when what had really happened is that they had provoked God for so long and had resisted His conviction so stubbornly that He finally turned them over to their own will. He stopped convicting them for sin. The relief they felt was not the relief of being forgiven and cleansed; rather, it was the relief of not feeling any more conviction from God for what they were doing wrong.

When, after long years of patient forbearance, God finally turns a person over to his own will and refuses to chasten him any longer, that sinner may feel happier and freer than he has felt in many years. And in the cases of this that I have seen, those people usually feel as if they have been released from a sort of prison. Some even assume that they have taken a step of faith into a higher realm of fellowship with God. But that is the way of God’s curse. It is a "strong delusion", as Paul said, and under such a delusion, one thinks he is traveling one way when he is, in fact, going in exactly the other.

It is possible to be delivered from sin, or to be delivered over to it. Either way, we will feel a great relief. The only question is, what kind of relief do we want? The kind that is true and real, or the illusion that makes us think we are something we are not?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

What Do You Do With Your Shame?

"If I covered my transgressions as Adam
by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom . . ."
Job 31:33

"He who covers his sins shall not prosper;
but whoever confesses and forsakes sin shall have mercy."
Solomon, in Proverbs 28:13

From a conversation with Brother Paul Curtsinger

The Apostle Paul said that "some men’s sins go before them to the judgment, but other men’s sins come behind." In other words, some men are wise enough to confess their sins to God and let those sins be washed away by the blood of Christ now, before the Day of Judgment, while other men foolishly attempt to hide their sins, supposing that they will somehow get by, without coming clean. It is far better to confess sins now than to hide them, because confessed sins are forgiven, but hidden sins will be held against the sinner in the Day of Judgment. Job said that Adam attempted to hide his sins, but Adam found out that hiding in shame behind bushes in the garden did not help him at all.

In my conversation with Brother Paul, he said to me, "My shame drove me to God, but Adam’s shame made him hide from God." That testimony made me realize that what we do with our shame will determine our eternal destiny.

We all have felt shame, for "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." So, knowing what it is to feel shame is a common experience for the inhabitants of earth. The only difference there will have been, then, between those saved in the end and those who will be damned is that some people’s shame drove them to God, while others hid their shame in their breast and put on a happy face.

Where is your shame? In your breast or under the blood of Christ Jesus?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Cast Out With Love

From a conversation with Paul Curtsinger

God loved Adam. He created him, and then spent many days walking with him "in the cool of the evening", teaching him, showing him His creation, and just being his friend. He freely gave Adam dominion over the whole earth that He had created, keeping only one small thing on earth from the first man: the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When Adam followed his wife’s suggestion and ate of the forbidden fruit, he did more than disobey God. He betrayed his best friend, the One who had freely given him all things and trusted him with the care of the earth.

Until my conversation with Brother Paul, I had always read the story of God casting Adam out of the garden of Eden from Adam’s point of view. But Paul brought to my attention how God must have felt when He cast Adam out of the garden. God cast him out, and then God set cherubs at the gate, and a flaming sword that turned in every direction to keep Adam away from his former home, forever. It must have broken God’s heart to watch Adam and Eve sorrowfully walking away. God loved Adam.

When, after gaining the knowledge of good and evil, Adam realized that he was naked and hid from God, God’s love for Adam remained constant. He grieved over Adam’s sin; nevertheless, He made clothes for Adam to wear so that he would not feel ashamed. And when He cast him out of the garden, He said something that is often overlooked when the story is read. He said that He was casting Adam and Eve out of the garden because doing so was what was best for them (Gen. 3:22-23).

Once Adam was defiled with forbidden knowledge, God wanted to protect Adam from the tree of life, "lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever." Had Adam eaten of the tree of life after he ate the forbidden fruit, he might have remained forever in the fallen state he was in. God sent Adam away from the tree of life because he loved Adam, to prevent Adam from becoming irreversibly stained. God sent Adam away from the tree of life so that He could save him.

That The Spirit Might Be Saved

Shepherds of the "flock of God" on earth bear a degree of responsibility such as God bore concerning Adam. It isn’t safe for disobedient members of the body of Christ to be allowed at the fountain from which the body drinks when they gather. In extreme cases, it is best for disobedient believers to be put out of the Assembly, to be prevented – protected, really – from drinking of the water of life while condemnation is in their hearts. The Law of Moses showed that drinking holy water from God’s temple could kill if there was condemnation in the heart of the person who drank (Num. 5:11-31). When Paul heard that an immoral young man was being allowed to continue to worship with the saints in Corinth, Paul wrote the Assembly and demanded that they repent and cast out the transgressor, and that he be handed over to Satan "that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (1Cor. 5:5). Paul knew that it was extremely dangerous for that sinner to eat the manna of heaven and drink the waters of life with the saints, and that he would have a better chance of pleasing God if he were removed from the presence of God’s people. Did Paul hate the young man? Of course not. He was giving him his best chance to meet God in peace.

There was no government in Corinth, and so, there was no standard of holiness enforced. Consequently, there were many guilty spirits in the congregation who drank regularly of the water of life. The results were just as anyone would have predicted who knew the Law of God. "Because of this," Paul wrote, "many are feeble and sick among you, and quite a few have fallen asleep." And he added this admonition: "Let a man examine himself; only then is he to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, not discerning the body, eats and drinks damnation to himself."

God loves us, even when He has to be severe in His dealings with us. He will go with us until the end, doing whatever gives us our best hope of eternal life. The ungodly cannot see the burning love that was there when Adam was cast out of the garden, and they may not see the love that will cast them out, either, when there is God’s brand of government among His people.

"I Still Love You the Same"
Elijah J. Clark
- April 19, 2007 -

Verse I
Years unremembered before I knew you –
Oh! The times we shared,
As if all I did was create you anew.
But here we are; did you ever care?
Since you left Me, time has rolled by...
Or, my friend, has it at all?
Come to me, lest you die.
Will you hear My gentle call?

I still love you the same,
As the day we first met.
I never did anything to turn you away,
But forgave you of your debt.
And then you owed Me your life, your feelings,
Yet I’m still calling your name.
To tell you from the depths of My heart,
That I still love you the same.

Verse II
You thought you had moved on, to bigger, better things.
You thought you had played the highest card-
You thought My pain couldn’t change.
But the moment I knew what you had done,
The moment you laughed at me,
I saw the end of your sin, your shame,
A light recreating my victory,
Because I still loved you.

Verse III
So this light is burning in My soul
It protects Me from the hatred you chose,
That sin and the cold.
The holiness – the fire – it burns;
Into the sky it reaches. It keeps My feelings warm,
So that when you come back to me,
Like wax I’ll cover, reshape you;
I’ll command you – breathe!

Without God

Without God

"At that time, you were without Christ,being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise,having no hope, and without God in the world." Ephesians 2:12

If you worship God because you know you should worship God, you are worshiping God in vain. If you pray because you know you should pray, you are praying in vain. If you serve God because you know He is worthy to be served, your service is no more acceptable to God than that of a Buddhist priest, who also knows that God is worthy to be served. The whole world, the same world that John said "lies in wickedness", knows that God should be served, that everyone should pray, and that all people should worship God. That understanding is the foundation of every religion of man on earth, and being motivated in the service of God by that understanding is the very thing that makes all of man’s religions worthless for obtaining salvation.

Understand this, and fear God! The worship of God is by invitation only. No man can "do God service" whom God does not first call. And the only prayer that ever reaches God’s ear is the prayer inspired by His Spirit to be prayed. No one can love God whom God does not first love. To think otherwise is to think more of yourself than the truth calls for. The flesh hates the truth about itself, but it is incapable of righteousness without God. "God is a spirit," Jesus told us, "and those who worship Him, MUST worship Him in spirit and in truth." But how can this be? Man does not have God’s Spirit; nor does he have God’s truth. How can he possibly worship God acceptably if he must worship Him with things that he does not have? It is obvious that God must give man something before man is able to worship God acceptably. Is it too much for us to confess that, left to our own devises and power, we cannot worship God as He MUST be worshiped?

Once, Jesus’ disciples were stunned and frightened because of the narrowness of the gospel Jesus preached. Then they asked him who could ever be saved if what he was preaching was true. Jesus replied,"With man it is impossible. But with God, nothing shall be impossible." Jesus knew that man was hopeless unless God helped him. Paul told his Gentile converts that they once were hopeless because at that time, they were "without God". My friends, without God – God Himself, not some abstract idea about Him – we are sinning, no matter what we think we are doing. We have no choice but sin, if we are without God.

What is the difference between our worship and that of Old Testament worshipers if we worship God because we know it is time to worship him? Under the Old Testament, God’s people were instructed by the Law as to the proper times to worship God. Consequently, there were multitudes who went to worship God, not because they had any fellowship with their Creator, but because they knew it was time to go. This kind of worship is worship in the flesh, and it is useless for the redemption of the soul. Now, the Law that instructs God’s people is the holy Spirit within them, letting them know when and what to do in their service to God. I know that God said, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge," but the knowledge of God that saves us is not a knowledge of the proper day or hour to worship God; nor is it the knowledge of the proper styles of dress for worship; nor is it even a knowledge of the Bible. The knowledge that saves is the knowledge of God! The knowledge of God teaches us that the only acceptable service to God is that service rendered from a heart sanctified and led by the Spirit of God.

Man cannot initiate contact with God. Every prayer, every religious deed, every longing that arises from man’s nature is in vain. There is nothing "of man" in the kingdom of God. God must condescend to initiate the contact, He must give us something to respond to in order for our prayer or service to be in the right direction. God must call us to worship; otherwise, we worship God in vain. God must call us to prayer; otherwise, we are praying according to the flesh, not the Spirit. God must call us to His service; otherwise, we will find ourselves doing evil while we think we are doing good, just as Paul did before God reached down to him. There is nothing in us that knows how to worship, pray, or serve God acceptably. "Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father", and only what comes down to us from Him is acceptable in His sight.

Jesus told his disciples, "Without me, you can do nothing." Of course, Jesus knew that they could go fishing without him, or work at their tax tables without him, or perform any natural task in the flesh without him. But he was talking about serving God. He was telling his disciples that there was nothing in them that God would accept without it being prompted by the Spirit – which Spirit they did not yet have! And Jesus was not speaking only to his disciples; he was speaking to us all. Without him, none of us can do anything right in the sight of God. But with Him, can there be anything impossible?

You cannot understand these things and be proud. This knowledge, which comes from God, will create humility, and faith in the true God; it will inspire prayer that is acceptable; it will move you to cry out for God’s presence, so that you will not sin. This knowledge will fill you with the fear of God, lest He choose not to dwell among us and leave us to our own thoughts and ways. Our hearts, without God, are "desperately wicked," (Jer. 17:9) and hopelessly ignorant. Paul said that in our flesh, that is, our nature, "dwells no good thing." David sang, "Every man at his best state is altogether vanity." Men with the knowledge of God know that without Him, they are completely and hopelessly without power to live righteous lives! We must have God to lead us in our daily conduct and choices, our worship, our praying, and our service to Him, for if we do not have God in our midst, we are wasting our time even being alive. Without God living in us and guiding us, we are breathing in vain. We are like blind men groping in the dark, imagining that there is something for us to find.

Please join me in crying out to God for His presence to be among us, and for His power, which alone can keep us from sin, and for His mercy to forgive our vain imaginations and efforts, and to give us something to which we can respond. For without that, there is absolutely nothing right that we can possibly do.

If you understand this, you will be always at the ready, just in the hope that God will lead you to do something. His word is precious, His feelings are perfect, His will is holy, and if at any time He condescends to share His mind with us, who are we that we should hesitate or fear? We are rich if God has thought upon us. That is the knowledge which, not having, will destroy God’s people now, as it did Israel long ago.

No Hell?

"I say unto you, my friends, be not afraid of them that kill the body,
and after that have no more they can do.
But I will forewarn you whom you shall fear.
Fear Him, who after He has killed, has power to cast into hell.
Yea, I say, fear Him
Jesus, in Lk. 12:4-5

The verse above poses a particularly difficult challenge to the notion, held by many, that there is no hell. If there is no hell, if the wicked simply disappear and no longer exist, then what is it that Jesus is warning us that God can do to the wicked after they die? If the wicked have no life after they die, then God can do no more to the wicked than men can do to them. If there is no hell awaiting the wicked, then all that anybody in heaven or earth do to them is kill them, and that is contrary to what Jesus taught.

The Jehovah Witness sect, among others, teach that hell is simply the grave, and that the wicked, once dead, just vanish into non-existence. The official Jehovah’s Witness web site states that "Since the dead have no conscious existence, hell cannot be a fiery place of torment where the wicked suffer after death. . . . The Bible hell, then, is the common grave of mankind where good people as well as bad ones go." But if that were true, if hell is the just the grave, then men, contrary to what Jesus said, do have the power to cast dead people into hell. Why, they do it all the time, and they are paid for their labor by families of the deceased. It is called "burying people".

The grave is not what hell is. Jesus warned his friends that God has power to cast dead people into a place that is beyond the power of men to cast them. And when God casts the wicked into hell, He is not burying the wicked dead; He is damning them.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Passing It On

When Moses was sent by God back to Egypt, forty years after he had fled that country, he began his journey back with his Midianite wife, Zipporah, and his young son Gershom. On the way, they spent the night at an inn, and during the night, the Lord let Moses know that He was very angry that Moses had not circumcised Gershom. In fact, God was so angry that He was at the point of killing either Moses or the boy (the Bible is not specific about which one). Realizing that God was furious at the boys’ uncircumcision, Moses directed Zipporah to circumcise her son, and she did, but with great displeasure. When the operation was over, she took the boy’s circumcised flesh and angrily threw it at Moses’ feet, screaming at him with a cruel accusation.

This scene should never have taken place, and God knew it. He had done all that was necessary to make for peace and joy between Moses and his wife, but here they were, in bitterness and strife, at least on Zipporah’s part. But why? What led to this heartbreaking scene between Moses, his wife, and God, at an inn on the road to Egypt?

Circumcision: The Sign of the Old Covenant

God’s precious covenant with Abraham is often called the covenant of circumcision because circumcision of the male descendants of Abraham was the sign of that covenant. God told Abraham on the day that He made this covenant with him, "This is the covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your seed after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised. You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. He that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house or bought with money of any stranger which is not of your seed. He that is born in your house and he that is bought with your money must needs be circumcised. And my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut of from his people; he has broken my covenant" (Gen. 17:10-14).

Immediately after this life-changing, holy visit from the Almighty, Abraham circumcised his son Ishmael, all his male slaves, and even himself, at the age of 99! A year later, when Isaac was born, Abraham had him circumcised on the eighth day, just as God had commanded. Later, when Sarah had died, Abraham married a woman named Keturah, who bore to him six more sons, whom Abraham also circumcised on the eighth day.

One of those six sons born in Abraham’s last years was named Midian, and when Midian and his five brothers came of age, Abraham sent them to the east, away from Isaac, with riches enough to begin building for themselves homes and new lives. It was from these descendants of Abraham that Zipporah the Midianite came, but she apparently knew nothing of circumcision. Obviously, Midian, or his immediate descendants, failed to pass on to their offspring the truth about circumcision. Somebody in the genealogical line between Abraham’s son Midian and Moses’ wife Zipporah did not consider circumcision to be important enough to command his children to continue in it. And in time, the sign of Abraham’s covenant with God became a strange thing to the family. So strange, in fact, that it enraged Zipporah that Moses would demand such a thing, even though Moses, knowing he had displeased God by not circumcising his son, was moved with great fear of God to do it.

If Moses did not understand the importance of circumcision before that night in the inn, he understood it well from that time on. If, before that day, he was slack concerning the commandments of God, he never was again. He learned during his forty years in the camp of Midian to lightly esteem God’s covenant, and the sign of it – circumcision – but at the inn on the way to Egypt, he learned to tremble at the thought of not passing that truth on to the next generation.

When God chose Abraham,. He said He did it because "I know Abraham, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He has spoken concerning him" (Gen. 18:19). In other words, Abraham was not like Midian and his sons after him; he upheld the standard God gave to him and was not slack in commanding his children to do the same.

Tongues: The Sign of the New Covenant

I have seen first-hand the results of parents in one generation failing to pass on to their offspring the truth God had given to them. I have brothers and sisters who were taught the same truth I was taught by our father, but whose children and grandchildren now are complete strangers to the light of God because their parents behaved like Midian instead of Abraham. For whatever reason (God is Judge, not I) they failed to command their children to walk according to the law of God revealed to them. If I were to speak the truth to those offspring, it would seem as foreign to them now as circumcision was to Zipporah, and it might make them equally as angry and sarcastic toward me. That has been my experience, and that is why I understand this story of Moses and Zipporah as well as I do. I have lived it.

Isaiah, Jesus, and Paul pointed us to speaking in tongues or "stammering lips" as the sign of the new covenant, just as circumcision was the sign of the old. The baptism of the holy Ghost is the new birth as certainly as Jesus is coming back for his faithful saints. But most of Abraham’s descendants have not passed that truth on to their children. Ishmael, and Midian and his five brothers, all failed to keep alive the flame of God’s light in the world by making a stand for it. Only Isaac, of all Abraham’s sons, had sufficient understanding of the supreme importance of standing for truth in this sinful world and of upholding the standard of God’s truth in his house. But God knew he would, and Jacob after him. That is why He chose Abraham in the first place. He had found a line of men who would cling to the truth as if it was their very life. And after Moses was chastened by God’s wrath on his way to Egypt, he felt the way those two patriarchs did. And when God gave him the Law fo Israel, he commanded Israel to love it with all their hearts for, he said, "It is your life!" (Dt. 32:47).

The truth you have from God does not have to survive your death among those who knew you; it can die, and it will die, with you if you never pass it on. My hope is that what God has given me, above everything else, is what I am remembered for when I am gone. And I know that if I do what is right in God’s sight, that will be the case.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Claiming or Revealing?

I was praying a few days ago and was asking God to give me faith to believe every single thing that in the Bible He claims to be. He did. But He did it in a very unusual way. He gently reproved me for my prayer. I will try to put into words what I knew in my spirit as soon as I made that petition to God.

When I asked, ‘Lord, help me believe in my heart everything you claim about yourself", this is what I heard in my heart: "God has never claimed anything. Men do that because men can lie. Nothing God says about Himself in the Bible is a claim. It is a revelation."

Then I understood. When God said, "I am holy", He was not claiming to be holy; He was revealing to us the fact that he is holy. When he said, ‘I am the Lord who heals you", He was not claiming that He heals people; He was revealing to us that He is a healer.

Men claim many things, but God has never claimed anything. Solomon and Peter both referred to men who "boast themselves of a false gift." But if God says He is anything, or that He will do something, it is a precious revelation, and He wants us to trust Him so that we can benefit by the revelation of His power and goodness.

The next time you hear a man claim something about himself, ask this question: Is he just claiming that for himself, or is he, like God, revealing to others what God has given to him? Either one of those two options is possible, so don’t be cynical. Just be wise. If his words are more than just an empty claim, or boast, you will find it out soon enough. But if he is doing the way God does by declaring for your benefit a good work of God in his life, that will be made obvious, too. God will make sure of that.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

In An Acceptable Time

"You have given me the necks of my enemies that I might destroy them.
They cried, but there was none to save them, even to the Lord,
but He answered them not
Psalms 18:40-41

In spite of what one might have heard to the contrary, God is not always willing to hear people’s cries and to forgive. There are some evils that men and women commit that are so ungodly, that so provoke the wrath of God, He will not forgive.

Of the many biblical examples, the arrogance of the people in Jerusalem in Isaiah’s day provide us with a most fearful example of provoking God too much. When God sent prophets to plead with the people to repent and escape the coming disaster, they mocked those humble servants of God, and, instead of repenting, sent out invitations for an end-of-the-world party. "Let us eat and drink," they said to each other, "for tomorrow we shall die!" To this, God furiously replied, "Surely, this iniquity shall not be purged from you until you die!" Every one of those witty, unbelieving people are suffering in hell today.

Then there was Esau, who lightly esteemed the holy, singular inheritance from his great-grandfather Abraham and traded it for a bowl of soup one day when he was hungry. We are told that later, when Esau "wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it diligently, with tears." It was too late to repent, too late to realize the value of the blessing of God that had been freely bestowed on him at birth. God would not forgive and restore to him that eternal "pearl of great price" which he had foolishly traded for a temporary earthly benefit.

God’s wrath may also be provoked by a long-standing refusal to heed His voice and repent. It is unwise to wait too long to obey the voice of God. In Proverbs, Solomon said, "He who, being often reproved, hardens his neck shall suddenly be destroyed, and that, without remedy."

This is the truth that serves as the foundation for Isaiah’s earnest cry to Israel: "Seek the Lord while He may be found! Call upon Him while He is near!" This verse is meaningless if God can always be found, or if He is always near. If there will never be a time when God will not respond to man’s cries for help, then what was Isaiah’s point in that verse? Isaiah was telling his fellow Israelites that there was coming a day when God would not be found by them, no matter how much they wept and begged for Him to help them.

There is a time, appointed by the Father, when we are to call on Him, and there is also a time when it is too late to call on Him, when calling on God is useless because He will not hear us. Did you notice that in the verse quoted at the beginning, those who had become enemies of Jesus called on God for help when trouble came, but they received none? "They cried, but there was none to save them, even to the Lord, but He answered them not."

May God give us wisdom to ask in a time when the answer is being offered, to seek while He may be found, and to knock before the door to God’s mercy is forever closed. If God calls, please do not hesitate to answer. To have Him speak to you is a very great blessing, and a very great opportunity for life and peace which you do not want to miss.

The Hatred Is Still There

"Show your marvelous loving kindness, you who by your right hand saves
those who put their trust in you from those who rise up against them."
Psalm 17:7

God is keeping us so safe and full in this culture that we often forget what a terrible, vicious warfare is being waged against our spirits every moment. National and international news organizations spend untold millions and risk the lives of their reporters to bring to the nations pictures and stories of earth’s military conflicts, but the real battle, the battle for souls, is ignored by them altogether.

Multiplied thousands of wonderful brothers and sisters from centuries past were cruelly butchered because they loved what we love, and yet, what an easy life we have! They saw the truth that we now see, and they loved it more than they loved their own lives. They were good, humble men and women, and boys and girls, but they were abused, plundered, tortured, and executed because they knew what God has shown us and were faithful. But God is keeping us, at this time in history, from that kind of persecution.

Why is it different for us? I don’t know that I can answer that question fully. We know that God has not changed. And the Devil has not changed. The world has become prouder and more sophisticated, but at heart, it has not changed either. Perhaps things are different for us now because Christianity does not hold political power in its grasp as it has in centuries past. Christians played the major role in the cruel abuse of many thousands if not millions of God’s humble saints in the past millennium and a half, and that fierce hatred of God’s truth can still be felt wherever the spirit of Christianity is present. But God is keeping us from suffering what that spirit would like to do to us who know and love the truth.
Daniel prophesied that a very cunning enemy of righteousness would come who would destroy many of God’s people with peace. And I remember that in Jesus’ parable of the four kinds of soil, some believers who had overcame hot persecution by men were later themselves overcome by "the deceitfulness of riches, the cares of this life, and the desire for other things". In other words, pleasant things proved more effective in destroying some souls than difficult times did. In consideration of this, maybe our trial of living in this land of peace and plenty is a hotter trial of faith than that endured by previous generations who were abused and slain for the sake of Christ Jesus. Maybe the ease of life and the constant abundance of all things in our culture makes humility before God more difficult for believers than when they are persecuted.

Pray not to be deceived. If you love Jesus, this world still hates you, even at this seemingly easy time. God is saving you from the world’s vicious hatred because it is still there. God is keeping many from doing to us what they would truly love to do. The same hatred is there, though in a subdued form, that was there in years past, when godly men and women were being burned alive for nothing more than loving the truth of God more than life.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Thing That Convinced the Jews

"For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God."
Acts 10:46

Dear Bro. John,

Not so long ago, I was getting ready for work, and, as I was crossing the kitchen floor, I started hearing this preaching, not with my ears but in my heart. These are some of the things that I was hearing – and understanding, thank God!
The Jews would have considered it heresy for the Gentiles to claim to belong to Jehovah. None of the Gentiles were God’s chosen people, and everyone among the Jews knew it. Jesus himself said that they were dogs and said that they were not fit to be fed the children’s bread (Mt. 15). No Gentile’s claim to be accepted of the Lord would have carried any weight.

When God did turn to the Gentiles, it was going to take something straight out of Heaven to convince the Jews, God’s own people, that such a thing had happened, that the "impossible" had happened!
So, God filled the Jews up with His New Covenant first, the power and glory of the holy Ghost. He gave it to them first so that they would know it when they saw it on someone else. They had something from God and they knew it. Then, God opened the door to the Gentiles and filled them – the ones Jesus called dogs – with His holy Spirit. It was impossible, by every standard they had available to them, and yet it had happened. They knew that it had happened because they (the Gentiles) were now doing what the Jews did when they received it. Here is Acts 10:44-46: "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God."
They (the Jews) were astonished. But what was it that astonished them? What were they witnessing that had that effect on them? God had grafted in the Gentiles by pouring out on them the gift of the holy Ghost, and the Jews knew it because they heard them speaking in tongues, just as the Jews had done in the beginning. Peter and the Jews with him knew what was God and what was not. God had made sure of it. So, to borrow a phrase from Peter, "Who were they to resist God?"

God had sent irrefutable proof (speaking in tongues) to the Jews that the Gentiles were now God’s people, along with the Jews, and that they really had been given the real Spirit of God. Had the Gentiles merely have claimed to be washed from their sins, the Jews would never have believed it, and rightly so.
The Jews were sometimes proud of the fact that they were a special people to the Lord and were set apart by Him for Himself (e.g. Luke 4:24-29). But by God’s adopting the Gentiles into His family (if they repented and believed the gospel), the Jews had lost their status! It may not have been seen as a good thing by many Jewish believers, yet it had happened, and speaking in tongues proved it! The Jews who followed Jesus while he was on earth had been trained to know better than to believe the testimony of men. At the same time, they had also been trained never to deny the testimony of God! At Cornelius’ house, God had changed things, and then He sent His witness from Heaven to let the Jews know that He had really done it.
Paul said that speaking in tongues was a sign for unbelievers. Who could have qualified to be more of an unbeliever than a Jew that day? They would never have believed that God would baptize a Gentile into His kingdom. That was contrary to everything they had ever seen or heard, even from the Lord Jesus, who commanded his disciples not to go to the Gentiles (Mt. 10). It is easy to see why they were utterly astonished at hearing God’s testimony, the witness of the holy Ghost, coming through the mouths of the uncircumcised. But they knew God’s witness was true. They had received it themselves.
When did the witness ever stop? No man, especially a Gentile, could have convinced a wise believer back then that he belonged to Jesus without God’s sign – and he can’t today either. Would a man’s claim of being born again or "getting saved" have stood the test for a believing Jew back then? Would the Jews have been "astonished" if the uncircumcised in Cornelius’ house had listened to Peter and then said, "I accept the Lord as my personal Lord and Savior", or "I just got saved"? Of course not! Peter would have rebuked them for their foolishness. It has never been acceptable in God’s kingdom for men to declare themselves to be right with God! Man’s claims of holiness have never meant anything in heaven, whether under the Old or New Testament. Only the foolish are impressed by what men claim.
God did the wonderful work of cleansing Gentiles that day at Cornelius’ house, and He added His witness, speaking in tongues, to show His servants that He had really done it. No man at the scene could in good conscience deny that God had indeed washed away the sins of the Gentiles and taken them in. Thankfully, God is still showing the same great mercy to all who repent and believe, and He is still giving the same sign that He has indeed done it.
Jerry Durham

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Think On Things That Are Above

Hey there!

I have been listening to a cd on Colossians when you taught it after you had translated it. I pulled out my printed copy of Colossians and followed along with the cd. And I got to this part (3:1-4), and I just liked it and didn't want to keep it to myself.

Let me preface this by pointing out that Paul had already explained in Col. 2:12 that it is by baptism (of the holy Ghost) baptism that were are raised up with Christ. Colossians 2:12-13: "by baptism buried with him, by the which baptism you are also raised with him through faith in the operation of God who raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made alive together with him, forgiving all our transgressions."

Here it is (Col. 3:1-4):

(1) If, therefore, you were raised up with Christ, seek things that are above, where Christ is sitting at God's right hand,
(2) and think on things that are above, not on things on the earth,

That's not demons. They are not above. They have been cast down from Heaven to earth. So, they are no longer things that are above but of things of the earth. Paul said not to think on things of the earth but to seek things that are above and to think on things that are above. So, really, it is a waste of time to try to figure out or think about demons or spirits, or whatever things that cloud your mind or do not meet the criteria for "things that are above". Which brings me to my favorite Scripture in Philippians (chapter 4 verse 8):

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
For (back to Colossians). . . .

(3) You died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God;
(4) and when Christ, who is your life, shall appear, then you will also appear with him in glory.

Amy 8-)

Hi Amy:
People who spend their time thinking about demons are like them. Demons ceased thinking about "things that are above" while they still were in heaven with God. Jesus told Satan that "you savor the things that be of men and not the things of God" (Mt. 16). So, God threw Satan and the angels who followed him (demons) out of heaven and down to the place where they belonged. And he will throw out everyone else who savor the things of earth rather tha of heaven, whose minds are continually occupied with carnal things.

It's a warning. Where are our minds? What occupies our thoughts? Paul said that "to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." May God give us peace.

I suspect that those who are pre-occupied with issues about evil spirits have been given guidance from God some time in the past, guidance that they prefer not to folllow and so, they are trying to disguise their rebellion by an appearance of spiritual depth. Whenever anyone gets over-religious, or zealous about things that really don't matter, that is usually the problem.

Pastor John

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Rebekah's Memories

I’ve been thinking over some good memories that I have of learning things about God during the time that I was seeking the holy Ghost. One very special thing, that I will never forget, was something from Ashley. Ashley and I weren’t even that close at all at the time that this happened, during Thanksgiving 2001. This was the Thanksgiving that so many young people received the holy Ghost on that Friday night, including Chris Penman, Joey, Tyler, Josiah, Leah (who still lived in WA and had only been to NC once before), and Margo (whom had never been to NC before then!). And I didn’t get it. Me, who was 19 years old, been in the meetings my whole life, and was even John Clark’s daughter. I don’t think that it would be possible for me to express how I felt that Thanksgiving, but it was really awful. I felt that God really did not want me. I felt that I would never receive His Spirit. I felt like He must not love me -- that there was something really wrong with me. I knew that wasn’t true; but at the same time, I was scared that it was. Looking back, I can see now that there was noooo way I was ready for it at that time; I still had a lot to work on and learn and repent of and change. I didn’t see it that way at the time, but fortunately, that was irrelevant to God. :) I understand now that, although I really was scared and miserable, the real truth was that I was pouting with God -- mad that He didn’t do what I wanted when I thought that it should happen. Ha! Doesn’t work that way, Bekah. :) And God is no respecter of persons, either!! But, at the time, all I could see was that everybody seemed to be able to reach the Lord but me. I remember at one point that night while everyone was praying, Daddy sang, "Do Not Pass Me By". I felt like that is exactly what He did. And it broke my heart.

That, I think, was the closest that I ever came to "quitting". I just about decided that I wasn’t worth it, and I couldn’t keep going through this. I spent that whole next day completely miserable, and was so humiliated (how silly was that!) that I just kept to myself until most of the out-of-town company from around the world had gone home. It was one of the worst days of my life; and could possibly qualify as the worst. When I finally came out, I remember finding this folded up paper plate sitting on the table that said, "To: Rebekah, From: Ashley; Please let her read it first -- request of the author! :)" I thought, "What in the world??" I mean, I didn’t even really know Ashley much, except that she came to my house every summer that she got a chance over the years. When I opened it up and read it, though, it was like every single word was a tiny drop of encouragement right into my heart. It said:

"Hey Bekah! Sorry about the paper plate, but I had no other form of paper. I just wanted to tell you that I love you very much AND about something that happened Friday night. When you were on the floor praying, I got down with you -- whether or not you know, I was there a lot of the time. Well anyway, when I was praying with you, something kept saying in my mind over and over and over... "Jesus knows your heart... Jesus knows your heart" and one time when I was praying with you and Jamie, "Jesus loves you." I wanted to tell you, but I kept praying. I didn’t know if it was time, so I decided that I’d write you and tell ya!! He knows your heart, Bekah! He knows your heart and what you want! Keep seeking, I know He’ll give you your heart’s desires!!! Trust Him! I love you and don’t forget that! :) Love, Ashley"

I had stayed away from people that day so that nobody would know how I was feeling, and I know that Ashley could not have known what I was going through. After all, most people who are seeking the holy Ghost are sensible enough to realize that it’s a happy and wonderful thing to be seeking God, even if they do get a little discouraged along the way! And I realized after the fact, that nobody thought the things about me that I did. Everybody else knew what was coming if I kept on seeking! And when you’re on that side of it, watching, you can’t help but be excited for anybody who is on their way to what the old saints used to call "the blessing." :) I have no idea, looking back, why I was always so depressed about it! Well, I guess I kind-of do; I just didn’t have any faith in what God could do for me. Anyway, that is a moment that I will never forget, reading that little note. It did something down inside of me – I could feel the realness in what she was saying, and I had hope again that Jesus did actually feel that way. I just cried, feeling those little tender feelings creeping in, even though they were tiny, of the love of God. On top of that, it really touched me that Ashley would feel that way about me. As far as I could remember, I had never done anything to deserve that from her. But, I could tell that she meant it! And another thing, when I was a little girl, right after Grandaddy died, I found a little tin plaque in his house while they were cleaning it out that had Psalm 37:4 on it, "Delight thyself also in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." I remember taking that plaque with me and making up a tune to it and singing it the whole rest of the day, and ever since that day, it has been my favorite verse. Ashley didn’t know that either; but Jesus did, and he let me know that he would "give you your heart’s desires."

I actually learned a whole lot from the KY kids, er, young people, while I was seeking the holy Ghost. The summer before I received the holy Ghost, summer 2002, everything was still falling apart & coming together at the same time out there in Louisville, and Daddy was spending almost every other week there. I went with him most of those trips, and it was out there that I really learned about the kind of life I needed and wanted. I looked up to Ashley more than anything – to me, she was a rock in the Lord. I wondered if she ever did anything wrong! And, of course, Maleah was always like that to me, too – I found an old letter that I had written to Maleah back around 1996 and had never sent, and we read it together not too long ago and laughed because I had written, "Can I ask you a question I’ve always wanted to ask you? Do you EVER have any problems? I guess not." Ha! But, that’s really what it seemed like to me! She was so happy and doing good all the time! I thought that I’d never be able to be like that. I just didn’t realize what the Spirit gives you. :) And Jason; that was the summer that I got to know him, and a good thing, too, because he was my brother-in-law six months later! And all the other young people, too. They were just so... solid. And I wanted that! I wanted to be normal and rooted and not up & down and swayed by this or that. I wanted what they had; I wanted God. It was during that summer in KY that the Lord told me what it was that I wanted to be. The way that it came to me was four "s" words that summed it all up: Simple. Stable. Strong. Satisfied.

Before, I had thought that simplicity = boring. Not in the Lord! Life gets exciting when you keep it simple! Why? Because being simple, spiritually, is what the flesh does not want – it’s a battle to keep it simple! Many people lose out with God or are swept away by other doctrines of man because the way of God is just too simple for them to keep. And stable! Oh my. That was what the Louisville crowd was not at that time, and I learned the great value of being stable in the Lord by watching what happens when you’re not. Up & down all the time is dangerous; that is being on the fence. And you can’t stay on the fence but so long before Jesus will knock you off one way or the other! And strong. That didn’t mean strong willed or strong self-control or strong in being able to resist sin or anything like that. It meant strong in the Lord. It meant being built on higher ground and not on the sand, so that when troubles do come, you stay rooted and unmoved. When I think of strength in the Lord, for some reason I think of the Embrys. That summer, I really watched Junior Embry a lot, and Jason, and they never seemed shaken by things. That is a very, very good thing to strive after. And satisfied. :) So many people, it seems, aren’t satisfied with where they are in God or with what they have from God. If you aren’t satisfied with your function in the body of Christ, it is more than likely because you envy someone else’s place, and that is dangerous because that can result in slander. And if you aren’t satisfied with what God has done for you, then you aren’t thankful for it, and you will surely lose it. Just be happy with what God has made you! Yay! :) Be like a little child; they are just content to be whoever they are. And if you aren’t satisfied with your connection with God or how full of the Spirit you are, then seek after Him until you get satisfied!
If a person is those four things in the Lord, they are going to be doing just fine. If you look at the ones around you who are really happy and free, you’ll see those qualities. And I guess you could add another "s" word: Sweet. :) That’s a good thing to be, too!
Just some good, good memories I’ve been thinking on lately. I think it’s always good to think about your testimony and all the things that God has done for you. It’s healthy; and it’s encouraging, too!


Wow, Bekah, this is very good – very, very good. That is a testimony that is worth telling – or writing about. I am glad that you hung in there. It always pays to trust God and do good, no matter what we feel at the time.

That’s really sweet, Bekah. And now, you are the four S’ the other one! :o)
I love you!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Politics of Harry Potter

Hey, this isn't much, but I thought it was neat. Today, I was looking at Wikipedia. They have "Did you know..." section.

One of the titles was, "Did you know that several universities now offer courses on the politics of Harry Potter?" Of course, I wondered what in the world a course on "the politics of Harry Potter" could possibly be. Under the link to this article, I read, "There have been many published theories that read politics and meaning into J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books. Often the theories conflict with each other, such as some writers who see Harry Potter promoting devil worship and others who interpret it as promoting Christianity." And I thought, "Well, they are arguing the same thing." :-)

I think that is incredible... that we know these two things to be the same: devil worship and Christianity.

It is incredible, Elijah. And only God can help us keep believing that truth in the facer of such opposition.

Stay humble, and there is no telling what else the Lord will teach us, or what good he will use us to do. And in the meantime, please remember that although participation in the religion of Christianity does glorify Satan, and even though God has precious children in there unwittingly doing that, He still loves them dearly. Always do good for them when you can, and never puff yourself up against them because of the truth you know.

Passing Time

Pastor John,

I wanted to tell you that I'm so glad that you said Saturday night, "We are just passing time on this Earth." Everything we do is just passing time and you were talking about the attitude of a servant.

Sunday I usually get sad b/c the work week is about to start again and the weekend is over. But, this time I thought, "I'm just passing time by going to work." Just look for opportunities as you pass time there!

I woke up at 4:30 am this morning and instead of thinking, "aww, it's so early, I want to go back to bed" like I do every morning, I thought, "Welp, I'm up early and passing time; it's all good." I thought about it all day at work. After work, I usually rush out to get home. Today, I walked and passed time enjoying my walk to my car and my drive home. I love thinking like this. Things don't seem as important - I mean being anxious about getting things done or stuff like that. I want to slow down and enjoy each passing moment, no matter what I'm doing. It feels like a big adventure, you never know what the master will have you do next. Meanwhile, just enjoy living life and wait on the master.


Beautiful, Maleah! Sounds like thoughts coming from a slave.

Solomon said, "He who hastens with his feet is sinning." There is no one who can be in a constant hurry and keep from sin. Righteousness includes faith and wisdom, and faith and wisdom teach us that we have nothing to do here on earth but pass our short time doing the will of God, until the Master comes and takes us home.

To paraphrase an old saying, "If you live in a hurry, you will die. And if you don’t live in a hurry, you will die. So, why hurry?" Hurry is not faith, and it is not wisdom.

Pastor John

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Now and Then

Sometimes when the Lord gives us a song, it teaches us. An example of this is the song "Now and Then" that the Lord gave me a few months ago. Here are the words:

- 1 -
Now I’m sharing Father’s throne and resting in His glory;
then I suffered all alone and bore your sin and shame.
Now the angels sing my song and millions tell my story;
then, I didn’t have a friend, and no one called my name.

Now, I sing a song of joy alone unto my Father;
then the song the drunkards sang disgraced me everywhere.
Now, whenever you feel down, I take it to my Father;
then, when tears fell from my eyes, no one even cared.

– Chorus No. 1 –
Now, I have a place of rest . . . from all the earth, from all its strife.
Then, I had no comforter . . . no help or home where I could hide.
Now, God’s mighty angels bow and tremble at my power;
then, men beat me to the ground and nailed me to a tree.

- 2 -
Now I’m sharing Father’s throne and resting in His glory;
but He has promised me that I can bring you here someday.
Now, I’m waiting for the time appointed by my Father;
then I’ll rise up from my throne and come take you away.

Now, I sing a song of joy alone unto my Father;
but then, we’ll lift our voice and sing together all His praise.
Now, whenever you feel down, I take it to my Father;
then, He’ll hold you in His arms and brush your tears away.

– Chorus No 2 –
Now, you have no place of rest . . . from all the earth, from all its strife.
Then, you’ll have a hiding place, with me at home right by my side.
Now, I sit and dream of then, when we can sing together;
then, upon the crystal sea, we’ll give our Father praise.

Pay close attention to the second verse (in bold). It is a thought I had never had until Jesus gave me this song. It tells us that, even though he is gloried now and sitting at the Father’s right hand, Jesus is not perfectly content because we are not yet home with him. We are not the only ones looking forward to the future; Jesus is, too. He died so that we might be with him where he is, ans we are not there yet. How can he feel perfect contentment until the reason he suffered and died is fulfilled?

This lets us know that it is acceptable with God for us not to be perfectly content, either. We have peace with God; nevertheless, we all want something else: salvation. And Jesus will bring that with him when he returns for his faithful saints. We all – even those who have fallen asleep in Christ – feel incomplete while we are here in this world. We all who belong to Christ are misfits on earth, "strangers and pilgrims", and only the coming of the Lord will remedy that, for he will take us to the place we belong.

I always pictured Jesus as having reached the goal and, so, being absolutely and perfectly at rest, but the love for us that led him to the cross forbids that. He cannot be perfectly content until we are safely home, with him and the Father.

Friday, August 17, 2007

By God's Word

"Concerning the works of men, by the word of your lips
have I kept myself from the paths of the destroyer."
Psalm 17:4

Satan is the "destroyer" that David mentions in the verse above, and Satan’s principal mode of destroying the good among the saints is by using the first thing mentioned by David in that verse: "the works of men". Jesus said that Satan "savors" the things of men (Mt. 16:23). But why? First, because he envies the precious opportunity men have to obtain eternal life and fellowship with God. He wants what God is offering men. Second, Satan "savors the things of men" because by craftily using "the things of men", he can lure God’s children into his sphere of influence.

The devil has deceived the whole world (Rev. 12:9). That means that all men are under his delusive spell, and so, the things that are of men are under his control. That is what makes him "the god of this world." His influence is so pervasive, his craftiness is so subtle, that no one can escape his control. Everything on earth, every institution, every custom, every law, is working with the fleshly nature of every person to bring each soul under the dominion of Satan. But there is hope because there is truth, and David rejoiced in it.

The religions of man are "the things of man" that Satan loves the most, and the closer to the truth that a religion comes – without being true – the better he can use it. This is why Christianity is, to date, his most effective weapon in dividing and confusing God’s children. It speaks of the true Lord, and that is very good, but it does not speak truly of him, and that is very bad.
"By the word of your lips" is a phrase that points us to our hope. David discovered that what God says is the means of escape the confusion that is in "the things that are of man". By the word of God, David discovered the precious pathway of righteousness and rejoiced as he walked on it. By the word of God, David learned what was good and what was evil, and with the strength which that Understanding brought to him, he overcame the heavy pressures of this world to go the wrong way. When joy is in the heart, David discovered, the world’s call to sin seems nasty, no matter how prettily Satan paints it, and no matter what holy-sounding titles he gives it.
There is nothing of "the things that are of men" that is like the voice of God. Nothing of man’s medical knowledge can heal as God’s word can; nothing of man’s educational systems can enlighten as God’s word can; nothing of man’s art can comfort as God’s word can; nothing of man’s religions can guide into righteousness as God’s word can. When David learned this, he wrote, "Truly, every man at his best state is altogether vanity." And to that, we can add, "Truly, at His worst state, God is altogether and eternally good."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Ten Virgins Parable


Tonight when I listened to you telling about the wise and foolish virgins (Mt. 25), God cleared something up for me! I love these new thoughts! I was thinking how those wise and foolish all looked the same; they were not wearing different colored robes to show which was which; they weren't labeled "Wise" and "Foolish"; and they didn't call each other those names. They were all waiting for the same thing (the coming of the groom).

There was a question in my heart as to why the groom wouldn't open the door when the foolish virgins came back from buying oil. I didn't even know the question was there until he gave the answer tonight. The whole plan was designed to expose the hearts of those virgins. God designed it! And he designed it that way because He will not receive the foolish virgins into His kingdom. Praise God! He is not a beggar, and He is perfectly in charge of His house. Wow! That is big! I just love it! He does not want the foolish. Wow.


Sister Donna:
The foolish virgins dishonored the Bridegroom by not being prepared to greet him when he finally arrived. The fact that he "tarried" and did not come when expected is irrelevant. That was his prerogative. Those who truly loved him prepared for the possibility that he might be late; they made no claims on his time. That is genuine humility.

jdc, sr

This Is The Day

Dear Pastor John
The last day Shiela was in the hospital Bro.Tom was there. He told Shiela God had given her a gift. God had taken to death's door, yet extended her life so that she could have a greater appreciation for each day.
I keep thinking about that. These are my goals:

(1) To love God and keep His commandments to the best of my ability and with my whole heart.
(2) To love, care for, and do good to the hearts around me.

I know this is the only real way for me or anyone else to be happy. I woke up this morning with a song: "This is the day, this is the day, that the Lord has made, that the Lord has made. I will rejoice, I will rejoice and be glad in it!"
I think that is a commandment!


Hi Sister Sue!
Jesus said that all the commandment of God hinge on but two things: loving God supremely and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Sounds as if you got the point. That's good.

Pastor John

Falling Away

Pastor John,

This morning I stayed home sick form work and had a chance to listen to some of your teaching series on Galatians. While I was listening, you started talking about Titus and Timothy and what special young men they had been to Paul. When you got a little further into it, you started talking about those people who fall away from Christ and how we are to look at it. It really blessed me and I though I would pass it along. The excerpt is below.


Galatians Series Notes

Things were falling apart as Paul got older.

Titus left Paul. Paul was about to appear before Caesar. Titus couldn’t take the pressure.

Now I have this question for you: Was Paul fooled? Was Timothy a fake the whole way through? The answer is No. What God did for Timothy, and where Timothy stood with God, was as real as what Paul had from God.

Don’t ever beat yourself up and think you’ve been less than wise because somebody else is unfaithful to Jesus. Don't condemn yourself for loving people, and giving to people, and spending time and effort on people who later backslide, as if you have been foolish to do so. Paul loved Titus. He called him his own son; he took him to Jerusalem to show him off as THE example of Paul gospel for the Gentiles. And Paul was right to do every bit of that. It wasn’t Paul who failed to encourage. It wasn’t Paul who failed to discern where Titus really stood the whole time. Don’t condemn yourself when someone else errs, as if you have failed. Do not do that to yourself. And don’t do that to anybody else, either. There is such a thing as somebody good going bad, of somebody blessed who doesn’t appreciate their blessing, of having fellowship in the light with people who later wander into darkness or is overcome by a fault.

It happened to Paul, and it has happened to us. It’s nothing unusual. It has always happened and it will continue to happen until God thoroughly purges the body of Christ near the end of this age in preparation for the return of His Son for a bride "without spot or blemish or any such thing." There is such a thing of a child of God that you may love dearly getting weak in the faith and stumbling. It doesn’t mean you’ve been lacking in discernment.

On the other hand, I know you can discern weaknesses or faults in others. Every person who comes to the Lord brings some baggage of the past with them, and pride will lead you say (if somebody does fall away), “I knew it would happen all along”, as if you foresaw everything. Don't fall for that. That is just your flesh puffing you up. You didn’t discern anything anymore than anybody else did. They just never submitted to God's chastening hand to be made perfect. Then again, if you did discern more, maybe you should have been praying for that person more than others were praying. Did you?

According to one of Jesus' parables, only half of God's children will be saved in the end. Paul even mentioned a "great falling away" from the truth among God's children. It is a sad reality of spiritual life. The world attracts some of God's children and leads them away from Jesus. Others become stubborn when God chastens them (as He does all His children), and they harden their hearts against Him -- and us. Solomon said, "He who, being often reproved, hardens his neck shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. Things like that do happen. It’s been happening from the beginning. Jesus lost many people along the way while he was here who had some real conviction, at one time, for righteousness. Disciples leaving him and forsaking him is a reality that is plainly recorded in the Gospels. Look at John 6:53-65:
"Jesus therefore said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, if you do not eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood, you do not have life in you. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up in the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood dwells in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me, and I am living by the Father, so also that man who eats me shall live by me. This is the bread that came down out of heaven – not as your fathers ate manna and died. He who eats this bread shall live forever.

"These things he said while teaching in a synagogue in Capernaum."
"When many of his disciples heard this, they said, 'This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" And Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, 'Do you take offense at this? What if you should see the Son of man ascending up to where he was before? It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh is completely useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit, and they are life, but there are some of you who do not believe.' (For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe and who it was who would betray him.)

"And then he said, 'This is why I said to you that no one is able to come to me unless it be given to him from the Father.'"

Now read the next verse in John -- 6:66 (an appropriate number for this, don't you think?)
"At this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him."

Was the indignation of these disciples at Jesus' words a reflection of their spiritual condition or Jesus'? Should Jesus have felt depressed, as if he had failed? No. He was unmoved; he know he was doing the will of God. No doubt, those bitter disciples grumbled as they went away, "He's a fake!" or "He's a false prophet!", etc. Then, they would have gone away and slandered him to anyone who was foolish enough to listen. They would have encouraged Jesus to blame himself for their unfaithfulness to the light God had brought them. But Jesus was having nothing of it. Their unfaithfulness, and their unwillingness to be corrected by God was not his fault.

Remember this lesson, the next time one of your dearly loved brothers or sisters in Christ walks away, speaking evil of you and the way that they themselves once said was good and right. Jesus told us that it must be that some of God's little ones stumble and fall away (Mt. 18:7); just be sure that it was not for following your example that they fell.