Wednesday, May 27, 2015

OK, OK, I Confess .... I Am Abnormal

Considering the direction the world is going and the fact that most government leaders are in office at the will or consent of the majority of their constituencies, I therefore,, must conclude that .... I am peculiar, different ... abnormal. I am not in agreement with the majority of the world's people. Whether inferior or superior is not the question here. The question is, do I agree or disagree with the majority of the human race. The percentages of various religions in the world, rounded off, are approximately this .... 7 % in a host of lesser religions,  7% Buddhist, 13% Hindus, 14% Atheists and Agnostics, 24% Muslim, 32% "professing" Christians and 3% lost in the shuffle. So, if all 32% of "professing" Christians were indeed born again disciples of Christ, I would still be in a 1/3 minority. But that isn't the case. I probably don't closely agree (Doesn't mean that many of these others aren't saved) with more than ten percent of professing Christians. Which means I am in a minority of about 3% of the world's population. So I am not in agreement, at least concerning my faith, with 97 % of the people in the world. You can't call that "normal". So I am abnormal.

The majority obviously chooses minimal security and food in preference to freedom. The majority prefer Socialism, Communism, fascism or some other 'ism' to free enterprise. Judging by what the majority demands of TV programming, movie pornography and public sexual display, abortion and same sex unions ... I must conclude that .... My beliefs are those of a small minority.  But, after three and a half years of ministry, miracles and holy majesty, Jesus only had 120 gathered in the upper room before he was crucified. That was a smaller minority than I am part of.  That was even more abnormal than me.  No wonder the majority of the world dislikes Bible believing Christians more than any other religion. Jesus said to those early Christians in John 15:18-20..."If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth youRemember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you .... "

Since Jesus forewarned us eight or ten times that his disciples, his followers, would be persecuted, if we choose to be his disciples, we should expect his warnings of persecution to be true. So "voluntarily" following Jesus is asking for trouble from the world and is not "humanly" normal. That means it is abnormal. If you are a Bible believing, born again Christian, you too are abnormal and as peculiar as I am.

My conclusion to these realities is .... Jesus Christ was and is, among the world's populations, also in a minority and I am in His minority ... exactly where I want to be, where I must be. But I would not exchange my relationship to Christ for all the gold, silver, precious stones, money, power and fame in the world. I would not exchange it for the whole world itself, the universe, or a million years of perfect health and happiness or even eternal life ... without Christ.  What is "normal" about that? So I might as well confess it ... I am abnormal, odd, peculiar, strange .... But my problem is not that I am so terribly abnormal, but that I am not nearly abnormal enough.... more like Jesus. What about you? RB

Monday, May 25, 2015

Mustard Seed Faith Hears Mustard Seed Voice, Sees Mustard Seed Light

Mustard Seed Faith, Voice, Light

If God speaks to us in that "still small voice",
As he whispered to Elijah of faith and right,
He can reveal himself for your free will choice
By candle light in this latter day dark night 
And if that small voice or light cause to rejoice,
We need no louder voice, no brighter light.
 So Seek your Savior... His light, His voice. 
         ........ Rayburn Blair at 84........

"And Jesus said unto them .... verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." Matt. 17:20.

"And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he ... stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?" 1 Kings 19:12-13.

"The same (John the baptist) came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe ....That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world."  John 1:7&9.

"Every man" means:

Monday, May 18, 2015

I Profile Snakes, Spiders, Very Young Drivers, And Judge Greasy Cafe Floors, Electric Wires, And Toilet Talk

When God sent Samuel to interview the sons of Jesse to choose a new king of Israel, Samuel started with the oldest, tall, dark and handsome, and most obvious choice, and then worked his way down to the youngest, and least obvious choice. God rejected each of  his older brothers. God's choice was David. If God hadn't been there, Samuel would have anointed the first son king and would never have seen or cared to see young David. But God was there and told Samuel, a very good and spiritual man, he was wrong and instructed him ...."... Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." 1 Sam.16:7. 

We understand that God looks beyond the flesh, the "outward appearance" into the heart to the true, inner feelings, thoughts, lusts and ambitions of a person. It is much more difficult for we humans to understand that the outward appearance of a person does not usually reveal much about the true inner character. We cannot see the mind or heart, the love or hate the faith or doubt, the sincerely or deception within someone. We can only see or hear what a person does or says. We see their actions, clothes, cleanliness, tattoos, and rings in their noses or tongues. We cannot hear their thoughts or beliefs. We hear their words, comforting or cursing, lying or laughing. So if we cannot see the true person, inside the flesh, all we have left is, as God said, "the outward appearance", plus our past experiences with them, and God's word, to judge who and what they really are. And be sure, we will judge people if we have any dealings with people at all. You will judge the "baggy britches gang" of cursing, sneering, young men, wielding guns, and coming toward you in the Detroit ghetto you get lost in some night ..... The con-artist who calls you on the phone and won't let you say no but rattles off his sales pitch on and on. The guy or gal at work who continually hits on you.... or your wife or husband. The other guy who constantly wants to borrow more money.... The guy who curses every other word. We will judge people. But Jesus said "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." Jn.7:24. The word "appearance" is limited to what we see. How can we "Judge righteous Judgement" if we cannot see into the heart and mind of a person? He must mean to judge people only by the standards of God's word. Jesus was looking into the hearts of the religious leaders, of that day, when he said...."Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness." Matt.23:27. These men looked holy on the outside, in their religious regalia, but inside were full of rottenness. 

Good works are mostly outward, visible things like giving, helping, teaching, witnessing, encouraging and showing kindness like the "good Samaritan" in Luke 10. A traveler was attacked, robbed, beaten and left for dead on the Jericho Road. A very religious priest came along and walked around the wounded man. A religious Levite walked by, looked the man over and went on his way. Then an outcast, half-breed Samaritan came along, treated the man's wounds, put him on his donkey, took him to an inn, took care of the man, then left money for the inn-keeper to care for him until he was well and promised to repay any extra when he stopped there the next time. If you looked upon the "appearance" of the priest and Levitt in their religious vestments and upon the common, outcast Samaritan, who would you judge would have showed compassion and helped the helpless man?

James, the half-brother of Jesus, challenged, "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: (but) shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.  Jm.2:18. James went on to say, "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." Jm.2:26.  Faith itself is invisible, but the "works" of faith are clearly seen by everyone. And yet good works do not necessarily reflect a good heart. Even so, good works, an outward show of true faith, is all we can see and know of a professing Christian's inner faith, heart and commitment to Christ. Those things cannot be seen except by the person's outward actions.

The only way to judge the danger of a spider or snake is by outward appearance.
When my son Rex, his mother and I were discussing this, he saw a small woolly black spider on the door. I looked the spider over (profiled him) and said "He isn't a Black Widow or Brown Recluse so he is probably harmless." Then I realized I was judging that spider by his "outward appearance" not by his little heart which I could not see into. I judge snakes the same way. There are only four poisonous ones natural to the U.S. If the snake isn't a Rattler, Moccasin, Copperhead or Coral, he is not poisonous so I pardon him for looking evil, and let him live. Like it or not, almost everyone judges certain characteristics of people, unknown to them, as a good sign or a bad sign of that person's potential for good or harm and much of the time we will be wrong.

The Apostle Paul warned us to ..."Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil." 1 Thess.5:21-22. We have to judge a thing if we are to "prove" it and "abstain" from it, and if that thing is being offered to us by someone, we have to judge them to be wrong in what they are doing. "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God...." 2 Cor.10:5. Sometimes we have to judge or discriminate or conclude that a person is not the kind of friend God would have us run with. Parents must help their children cull out certain friends whose words and actions reveal who they really are inside. It isn't enough for you teens to second guess your parents by saying,  "Just because he curses, lies, does drugs, steals and gets drunk doesn't mean he is all bad.... nobody is perfect".  The parents opinion is nearly always more perceptive, but even when wrong, they are still God's appointed authority over you.

"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."  Eph.5:11. "fellowship" signifies at least one other person. So he is saying, you must determine or judge if the actions and lifestyle of that other person are "unfruitful works of darkness" and then "have no fellowship" with that person but "reprove them". Tell them what they are doing is wrong.

"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly...." 2 Thess.3:6. Are you judging him if you tell him he is wrong and "withdraw" from him? Not if you are judging his actions or words, as contrary to God's word, and are not condemning him but "reproving" him. I think that would be, in the 
words of Jesus, "righteous judgement". Jn.7:24. RB

Sunday, May 17, 2015

How Are We Like Our Creator God ... And Heavenly Father?

The beginning of the human race, of each of us, in the loins of our first father and mother, is recorded in Genesis 1:26-27. "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." Clearly, God made human beings in His own "image  and likeness" and commanded that we have "dominion", or sovereignty, on earth over every other creature as He has sovereignty over the universe and everything in it. He intended us to be His Children, the King's sons and daughters, princes and princesses to love Him and be loved by Him. 

The word "image" in v.26 is the Hebrew word "tselem" and it means "a visible appearance or presence". Adam and Eve "looked kin to" their Creator, Father, God. A related Hebrew word is "tselel" and means the "shadow" of a visible person or thing of substance and presence.  Real things of substance and presence make shadows. One of the attributes of God is Omnipresence or All-presence. Our Father, God is an infinite presence and we are a tiny finite presence in His "image". This word "image" is exactly the same word which the Prophet Daniel used when he interpreted King Nebuchadnezzar's dream and said, "Thou sawest a great image...." An "image" is an iconic replica of something else. We are, in appearance, in the image of our Father God.

The second word, in v.26 regarding our similitude to our Father, God, is "likeness". The word likeness in Hebrew is "demuth" and means more like "a life in action, emotions, seeing, hearing feeling, tasting, loving and reasoning. We are a finite "image" of our Infinite Creator, Father, as children are in the image of their earthly father. And we are a finite "likeness" of our Infinite heavenly Father's mind, emotions, knowledge, power, presence, talents, reason sovereignty, and free will. He created us sinless as He is sinless but gave us a finite free will to choose, as He has an Infinite Free Will To Choose. We are not God or gods but are "Children" of our Father, who is God.. We have a small "presence" and small "likenesses" of our Heavenly Father. God is Omnipresent; We are mini-present. God is Omnipotent; We have mini-powered, God is Omniscience; We are mini-knowledgeable. God is OmniSovereign; We are mini-sovereign. God has OmniAgape Love; We can receive His love and in turn give a smaller bit of His Agape Love to others. God has OmniWill; we have a mini-will.

The words "image" and "likeness" are two different words. "Image" has more to do with God's outward appearance. "Likeness" has to do more with His inner attributes of character. Likeness is a much deeper characteristic than image and speaks of God's marvelous, inner qualities.

So, since it was our Creator God's infinite sovereign will, when He made us, to give us humans a tiny, earthly bit of His universal "dominion", or sovereignty, for our use, free will choices, and responsibility,  He will not overrule Himself. His own sovereign will created us with a will that we might be thinking, decision making, likenesses of Himself , as his children to voluntarily obey and serve Him.

Man's God-given free will to choose was first exercised in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve chose, by their own human sovereign will, to disobey God and do what He told them not to do. We can't blame their free will, disobedient sin on God. It was His sovereign will that they have a will to decide, but it was their choice to sin ... not His. God allowed Adam and Eve to sin; He did not make or want them to sin. He wanted "children" who would choose to love and obey Him not just images but likenesses of Himself to love and be loved as children not will-less dolls, puppets or pawns.

As a pastor, I have been asked many times, "Why does God let wickedness happen?" The answer is that He, in His sovereign will, gave us a bit of sovereign will and will not override His own sovereign will with another sovereign will. If He did it would mean He made a mistake and was wrong in giving that bit of His own "likeness" to us. He does not make mistakes.

That is why he came to earth as the Son of God, in a human body, so that body of flesh could die and pay His own determined price of sin, death, in our place for our sins. Thus, He opened the door of redemption that "whosoever will" may be saved. Rev.22:17. He paid the price and bought us back to restore us, as He first created us in the Garden .... as His children, in His image and likeness .... if we will accept Jesus Christ's death to cover our guilt of sin. RB

Friday, May 15, 2015

Suspicion, Surmising, Gossip, Rumor, Accusation, Arrest And Conviction Of Innocence

It is hardly true that "things are not always what they appear". Things are never exactly what they appear. Situations are far too complicated for all their facets to appear ... on the surface. People are always, at least somewhat, different in public than at home and even more different in their heart of hearts than even there. Only God and they know their true self. That is why Jesus cautioned us, "Judge not, that ye be not judged". Matt.7:1. The Judging person will always judge either too harshly or too leniently ... but never exactly accurately.

We are all complicated and uniquely designed, widely and variably experienced, and each exposed to millions of differing environments and associations, thoughts and responses.

Of necessity we must draw certain personal conclusions and suppositions of situations and of people, in order to make decisions. But human surmisings are never quite on target and must, therefore, be controlled lest they become unjust, suspicious and "evil surmisings". "He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings ...." 1 Tim.6:4.

It happened to Jesus. He was mistrusted, then suspected, then rumored, then accused of being a "glutton", of being a "drunkard", of being allied with "evil" associates, and finally of being possessed of the devil and was crazy....
Matthew 11:19   "The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners." It got worse in John 10:20 "And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?"

All of these accusations, no doubt, played a part in the public outcry that Jesus be executed. Now, how do you suppose God judged those judgers of Jesus?

We must be very careful about suspicions, "gossip" and "evil surmisings". This means guarding our thoughts, our tongues .... and our ears, against hearing, thinking or gossiping about others. The consequences are far too destructive and we shall give an account for "evil surmisings", and "gossip" to our great judge. Each of us has control or what we think and say to the detriment of others. RB
"And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets."  1 Cor.14:32. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Just One Remedy For This Terminal Condition

Be sure of this .... If you allow a sin, any sin, to remain in your life, without dealing with it, like a single cancer cell, it will reproduce itself, compounded into a multitude of other cells or sins ... and eventually destroy your life. That is why God's word declares flatly ... "The wages of sin is death...." Rom.6:23.

Sin, unrepented to God,  destroys our closeness to Him, if not his love for us. The word "death" literally means "separation". Physical death is separation of the spirit (life) from the body. Spiritual death is separation of life and body from God for eternity and is called the "second death" in Rev.21:8. "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."

Sin has become the substance and punch line of most comedians. It is the cause of most divorces and the reason for wars, crime, drug addiction, prostitution and all manner of corruption and dishonesty. As bad as all that is, it does not even begin to reveal the full measure of it's awfulness, in the mind of God. Heb.1:9 says, "God hates iniquity...." 

There are only three ways to measure how much God hates sin. One is by the enormous consequences He assigns to it. "Death ... the lake of fire ... for eternityEternal damnation upon all sin unrepentant of and unforgiven of God. That is sin which has not been washed away under the blood of Christ's crucifixion which only happens to those who have not repented and accepted Him as their Savior. That is what the entire Bible and Christs first coming is all about.

That brings us to the second means of measuring  the awfulness of sin, in God's mind. And that is by the price He was willing to pay to redeem us from our sin's equally awful consequences .... the hellish pain and horrific death of His only begotten Son on  that Roman Cross, in our place, for our sins, to save us sinners.

Finally, the third way to measure the awfulness of sin .... the amazing grace and the amount of agape love God had to have for us sinners that would cause Him to be willing to pay "the wages of sin" for us with the awful agony and death of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

All of that being considered, within our limited ability to even comprehend it, it makes no sense and deserves no mercy upon sinners who neglect or reject God's only remedy.... Christ's death... "...So that they are without excuse." Rom.120.

An Intellectual once asked me, "Blair, doesn't it bother you that sophisticated people might think you ignorant for believing that stuff?"  My answer, as best I remember, was ... "There are several tribes of fire ants in my back yard, all of whom believe only in the circle of their territory, what they can see, eat and defend ...  within the bounds of their senses and brain power. In their brains, my yard is all there is and the rest of the world, the sky, the Bible, God and eternity do not exist." RB 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Denzel Washington An Avowed Christian?

I haven't been to a movie in many years so I am not aware of the parts Denzel Washington plays or anything else about him except that he is a famous actor.
His pastor father and his mother are obviously Christians ... but what about him?
A secular news source, The Political Insider, did the following story about him in which he testifies to being a Christian. If he has the courage and conviction to admit it publically, in spite of Hollywood's influence, he very well might be.
Jesus said, "Judge not, that ye be not judged." Matt.7:1. Remember this is being reported on by a secular news source, The Political Insider. RB

Famous Actor Denzel Washington 
Said THIS About the Bible
From The Political Insider

There are plenty of reasons to think famous actor Denzel Washington would be a liberal. He’s a talented black actor who has been a success in Hollywood (two Academy Awards!). Statistics would make him highly likely to be an Obama-supporting secular liberal.

But that’s wrong! And Denzel’s comments about the Bible and his relationship with the Holy Scripture are extraordinary. He is a patriot, and is unafraid to reject the radical atheists on the Left Coast.

As he said in an interview, Denzel Washington is a proud Christian:

“I read from the Bible every day, and I read my Daily Word,” he told a reporter, adding that it was not difficult for him to grow up as the son of a preacher. “He wasn’t a taskmaster, but there were certain things you couldn’t do,” Washington said. “He had his own church, and it was a long Sunday, because you had to be there all day.”

“Everyone I grew up with didn’t have a father,” he continued. “I had a father. My father was a decent man. He was a very spiritual man and a gentleman.” He didn’t like going to Church when he was younger. But then he had a truly personal experience with Jesus Christ. And the rest is history!

“The minister was preaching, ‘Just let it go,’” Washington recalled. “I said, ‘I’m going to go with it.’ And I had this tremendous physical and spiritual experience.” “It did frighten me,” he said. “I was slobbering, crying, sweating. My cheeks blew up. I was purging. It was too intense.” He had plenty of questions – like any Christian does – and he continues to pray on a daily basis to guide him through his career:

“It almost drove me away. I called my mother, and she said I was being filled with the Holy Spirit,” he recounted. “I was like, ‘Does that mean I can never have wine again?’” Ever since that day, Washington has been a proud Christian, even going so far as to consider becoming a preacher.

“A part of me still says, ‘Maybe, Denzel, you’re supposed to preach. Maybe you’re still compromising,’” he said during a 1999 interview.

In the end, Washington decided to stick to playing preachers in the movies. He did, however, offer some creative advice for staying close to God every day.

“Put your slippers way under your bed so when you get up in the morning, you have to get on your knees to find them. And while you’re down there, start your day with prayer. Ask for wisdom. Ask for understanding,” he said. “Don’t aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference.” What a role model! He looks to a higher power, and is humbled by his God-given talents. By showing others how he lives his life, he is a great example for young people who might try to make it in Hollywood. No matter what, prayer and a personal relationship to God are essential to live a good life.