Saturday, October 30, 2010

Revealing The Truth!

Happy Reformation Day! Throughout history, when the people of God lose their way, he steps in with the truth and revival takes place. Webster's dictionary defines reform as: To form again or to become formed again. The Lord began to reform his church before the 16th century, which led to the split between the Roman Catholic Church and those who would be called the Protestant Church.

In 383 A.D. Jerome translated the scriptures from Hebrew and Greek into Latin. With diversity of language throughout the empire, no other translations were made for almost a thousand years. The Roman Catholic Church was the source of all scriptural knowledge and the Word of God was kept from those outside the clergy.

With this knowledge came the power to rule and control. Unfortunately, those who held the "keys to the kingdom" abused their authority. Any dissidence towards the church was met with crushing blows and extermination in some cases. The people of Europe wanted to separate from the iron fist of the Church.

The exquisite timing of the Lord never fails to amaze me. Although Martin Luther is credited with igniting the fires that lead to reformation, because of the doctrinal errors discovered in the Roman Catholic Church, the Holy Spirit was already moving in many hearts in Europe. From the Puritan and Waldensian movements in France 1170 A.D. to the inspiration of John Wycliffe to translate the Old and New Testaments into English 1380, seems the whole known world was hungry for the Word of God.

The Renaissance age, 14th through 16th century, brought with it a season of culture and enlightenment, even commoners were learning to read. While many scholars fled the Eastern Church in the 15th century, with the rise of Islam over the Christian dominated regions, many ancient documents came with them. With the invention of the printing press in 1456, this set the stage for the end of papal authority and rise of reformation.

It was October 31st, 1517, when a monk named Martin Luther nailed to the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral, 95 errors of the Roman Catholic Church in doctrine and in practices according to the scriptures. This fire which began in Germany quickly engulfed Europe. Tried as it may, the Roman Catholic Church did not prevail in their attempts to extinguish this fire.

The scriptures were being translated and read in the language of the people. The Word of God began to change lives and revival began in the hearts of the people. Many leaders arose out of this movement, reformers like Zwingli in Switzerland (1522), John Calvin in France (1536), William Tyndale in England (1535), and John Knox in Scotland (1559). Many others joined the reformation fever, but for lack of conviction returned to the Catholic tradition.

From this reformation came many of the denominations of the body of Christ, which sprung up different regions of Europe that are prevalent today; Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist and several sub-denominations of each.

I remember the words of Jesus, “Upon this rock I will build my church and all the powers of hell will not conquer it” (Matthew 16:18 NLT). It's a statement that the Lord is in control, protecting, guiding and leading his church on earth until the final chapter.

We, as the body of Christ, may have different religious upbringing, but it is our responsibility to read the Word of God and obey it. Just as the holy fire ignited Europe in the 16th century, may the Holy Spirit once again renew our hearts and minds to the truth!!

“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT)

Copyright©2010 tathorpe – All Rights Reserved-

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Don’t Ask About It – Don’t Tell About It

We hear quite a lot in the news these days about the military “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy. This thinking has infiltrated most of society. We have isolated ourselves from others in our homes.  The only relationships we are willing to invest in are cyber relationships. Behind this wall of defense, we can be anyone we want to be, without any true investment. Before cell phones or the internet, we had to make an effort to develop relationships.

As Christians, we know that our Father is all about personal encounters that build relationships. We have to be out there in society building and restoring relationships. If we are truly loving and caring people, we should see the pain in someone’s life; know that they are lost and confused. Being able to see right through a fake smile, a cheery response, and inquire deeper, if we care to know. This is where the “don’t ask-don’t tell” lie gets it’s feet. Do we really care about one another?

The scripture says that in the last days sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold (Matthew 24:12). I’ve seen this in the last two decades. Neighbors don’t know neighbors; families are separated by divorce and many people live secret lives in turmoil, afraid to ask for help. This is evident by the cyber bullying that drives our youth to suicide.

The lie that has spread in the Christian arena and reveals it’s self as “faith is a private matter.” Many Christians seem to think that “living a quite life and minding your own business” means not to be too concerned with another’s struggle or their salvation. We are the vessels chosen by God to share the good news. Being salt and light to the lost, not resting on our laurels, secure in our own salvation. We have an enemy who will stop at nothing to tear us apart and prevent the spread of the gospel.

We might carve out an hour or two, to gather together but as quickly as the meeting is over, we go home and go about our own lives. Some believe they have done their duty by making an appearance and may leave feeling good, but do nothing with the encounter they have experienced. The purpose of meeting with God is to be changed, to be inspired and to go out and bring the gospel message to our neighbors.

Why are we not as eager as the early church to complete our mission? The scriptures say that God built the church and drew thousands to faith in Christ in short period of time. The growth came with believers risking everything to tell others about Jesus Messiah, not sitting in their homes praying for growth. They went out daily to tell everyone they encountered about Jesus; continued  to learn more about Jesus and to praise the Lord for everything he was doing.(Acts 2:41-47)

Can you remember that last time that a stranger brought you the good news about Jesus?
I believe the final moments of the Church age are here, and I there is little time left before the Lord comes as the conquering King and sets his throne physically on the earth. (Revelation 20:4) The bible describes the horrors for those who have rejected the saving grace of Jesus and many lives will be lost. A great time of wrath is coming; something more devastating than the world has ever experience or will ever again.

Don’t you think it’s time to do away with the “don’t ask about it-don’t tell about it” policy?

Copyright©2010 –tathorpe-All Rights Reserved-

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Songs of Worship

I love to sing! As a child Iwas always singing little made up songs until I learned real songs. I remember singing at the top of my lungs, “Jesus Loves Me” to the whole neighborhood! I am not a musician, I don’t play instruments, but music has always moved me and inspired my thoughts and attitudes.

Singing to the Lord is something special to me. It is my way of reaching out to an invisible God and touching his heart with my love and gratitude.  Through music the Lord has done the greatest work in my life. When I ran away from him, it was through music that he got my attention and then brought me to a place of surrender. To this day, he continues to convict, comfort and assure me through music.

I am reminded of the power that songs possess. It’s amazing, when we think or hear a certain song; it stirs memories of a friendship, a romance, heartbreak, or a certain event. Songs have the power to build up or tear down, just like words, when combined with rhythm they produce a deeper emotional response.  

Jesus said, “Out of the mouth comes the attitude of the heart” (Matthew 12:34 NLT).What we say or sing, reflects our inner most feelings. So if we are feeling happy or in love, there is a song for that. If we are sad, there is a song for that. If we want revenge, there is a song for that too!

God is completely aware of our thought life. Not one thought materializes without his knowledge. So when we are singing songs, he is fully aware of the attitude of our hearts. If we are praising him with honesty and truthfulness, he is pleased and will accept that worship. If our minds are on other things, then we are just giving the Lord lip service, he will not be pleased with our words of praise, honor or commitment.

Jesus also said, “And I tell you this, that you must give an account on judgment day of every idle word you speak” (Matthew 12:36 NLT). That is very interesting,  we speak so many words, just which of those are considered “idle”. After meditating on this scripture, the Lord revealed to me that all words have purpose, even those we sing. If we sing a song to the Lord and don’t mean what we say, it’s an empty promise.

Solomon put it this way in Ecclesiastes, “As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut. Don’t be a fool who doesn’t realize that mindless offerings to God are evil. And don’t make rash promises to God, for he is in heaven and you are only here on earth. So let you words be few” (Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 NLT).

Music stirs up so many emotions, it exposes our hearts to the beliefs we hold. The Holy Spirit convicts us of the truth and leads us to the place of true worship. Let us remember of who we sing and focus on him, he is the object our worship.

“Songs of joy and victory are sung in the camp of the godly. The strong right arm of the Lord has done glorious things!” (Psalms 118:15 NLT)

Copyright©2010  -tathorpe-All Rights Reserved-

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Season of Revival

I am not particularly fond of fall. The mountain of leaves that need removing; the shortened days and the frost that kills the last blooming flower in my garden. I enjoy the beautiful colors and the last few warm days, but sadness stirs in me the cold deadness of winter will soon arrive. Some long for the crisp chill in the air, cozy fires and all those comfort foods that add to our ever expanding waistlines.

Scripture says, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT). Like many of you, I don’t like change, I like routine it’s comfortable and predictable. We serve a God who is constantly involved in our lives. He moves us from our comfort zones where faith can become stagnate.

Jesus said, “I am the true grapevine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that does not produce fruit and he prunes the branches that do not bear fruit so that they will produce even more” (John 15:1-3 NLT). This is the season of revival.

The gardener prunes only in a dormant season and knows where to make exact cuts otherwise the vine will die. If grapevines are not pruned, the vines will grow wild quickly, produce no fruit, suffocate new growth and become diseased.

We all go through periods of abundance and times of need throughout our Christian lives. These are the seasons described in Ecclesiastes chapter 3. The Lord has determined the course of our lives, he moves us in and out of these times, as he directs the productivity of our lives.

I am beginning to understand what James meant when he wrote, “Consider it all joy when trials come into your life” (James 1:2-4). It is the cutting away of the spiritual deadness we may experience and to develop a deeper relationship with our Lord, then our lives will produce all that he desires.

One of the greatest lessons the Lord has taught me “A closed hand can not receive”. I may not understand why something is not good for me and I may struggle to keep it. Whatever I finally surrender, as an expression of love and faith, the Lord fills me with something beautiful like purer faith, deeper trust or clearer understanding. That is when I discover what I was holding on to was truly harmful to me.

While the vinedresser is cutting those things out of your life, let them go and seek his face. Renew your commitment to his Lordship. Our fruitful lives are yet another expression of his unfathomable love for us.

Copyright©2010 –tathorpe-All Rights Reserved-

Monday, October 4, 2010

Loving His Discipline

When we hear the word, Discipline, we imagine punishment of some kind, the loss of freedom or privileges. We believe that discipline is something for children; somehow we believe as adults that discipline does not apply to us. We forget that we are the children of God, and as his children he will discipline us.

Discipline is vital to our spiritual growth. Proverbs says, “My child, don’t ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don’t be discouraged when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:11-12 NLT).

Sometimes we get confused between spiritual warfare and discipline. I have gotten fooled by this many times. What I think is spiritual warfare, is actually the Lord correcting me. How can that be? It is a level of maturity and the amount of discernment we have developed in our spiritual lives. It shows how closely we are connected to the Lord and hearing his voice.

We are told to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), that is a vital command; that sustains our moment by moment walk with the Lord. If we pray only occasionally or on Sunday mornings, we miss out. We still have the tendency to wonder off in our own wills and ways, when the loving discipline of the Lord seeks us out and brings us back.

So how do we know the difference between spiritual warfare and discipline? The enemy's whole game plan is to divide and conquer. With that in mind, is there anything that you are not willing to talk to the Lord about? Have other things gotten in the way of your spending time with the Lord? The enemy will divert your attention away from God and cause you to focus on all the issues around you, causing you to worry or take matters into your own hands.

The Lord disciplines totally in love and draws us to a place of confession of sins, removing our fears and replacing them with courage, love and faith. We are free only in him. Once we have tasted his freedom and love, nothing in this world can ever satisfy us.

The writer of Hebrews put it this way, “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening-it is painful! But afterward there will be a quite harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way” (Hebrews 12:11 NLT). Some interpret that verse to mean punishment, referring to the pain involved, but I believe that the pain described here is the loss of communion with God, our lives become full of unrest and uncertainty.

Jesus said, “I am the vine and you are the branches. Remain in my love and I will remain in you. For you can do nothing apart from me” (John 15:5). That is discipline in a nut shell. Discipline is the training of the heart to seek the Lord and obey him through our decisions in all areas of our lives. If we don’t remain in him, we are as helpless as a boat adrift on the open sea. Our sins expose us to attacks of the enemy, which break our hearts and leave us fearful and hopeless.

The Lord's discipline is always for our good and his glory. It is his loving protection of us even if it causes us discomfort. It is hard admitting we have made a mistake and are walking out of the will of the Lord, but if we stop and take a good assessment of our lives, seek the Holy Spirit for guidance and confess our foolish behavior, we will once again enjoy the sweet fellowship of the Lord and becoming the people he called us to be.

I’ve come to love the discipline of the Lord, to learn to grow in his provision and protection, knowing that he delights in my life and yours!

“For the Lord is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap” (Proverbs 3:26 NLT)

Copyright©2010 tathorpe-All Rights Reserved-