Key people need to be “Buffeted”

wave

 

I know that this series on Key people has been interrupted a few times and  there has been an obvious irregularity to the posts. I want to tell you that the reason for the sporadic postings is a personal issue that I will briefly address.

Truth be known I got discouraged.

I’m not proud to admit that, nor am I ashamed to tell you that I have been taking a long look at the Jude 3 Fellowship and why I started it and what has and hasn’t happened since its inception.

Originally my expectation was that once I completed my book,  Fatal Drift…Is The Church Losing Its Anchor? I would be traveling around the country doing interviews and book signings and most important of all…I would be speaking at churches.

Now I must say that I have spoken at some churches, and some para church groups but on the whole I just didn’t seem to get the message of the book out sufficiently to create some momentum.

Frankly the publishers gave me the impression that they would arrange for the book to get into bookstores and would arrange for signings and publicity. As it turned out they merely got it on distribution lists and did no marketing at all.

That being said, I can report that once I actually get in front of a congregation, there is is great interest in the topic. Since I don’t have a staff or and clerical support, it is left to me to administrate, and contact pastors, and to try and get interviewed on the radio.

So for now, I am going to try and be more regular in my posts in this venue and trust that the Lord will get me where He wants me to go.

Now back to the topic of “Key People”. So far, we have talked about the process of making a key:

  1. Present a blank
  2. Get “Locked in” for the entire process
  3. Keys are “Cut” not made
  4. The sharp edges have to go though the Grinding process to take off any rough edges
  5. Once the grinder has done its work then the key must be “buffeted

Now I put the word Buffeted in italics because when the man at the hardware store was giving me a tutorial on how keys are cut, he made mistake. I am sure he meant to say “Once the blank had been cut, and ground, it still need to be “BUFFED.”

When he said buffeted, I knew that I once heard that word used in the  Bible. It is used to describe someone who is being tossed about in a wind storm or pounded by the waves of a storm-tossed sea.

To become a Key person is to submit to a process and stay locked in to a regime that involves periodic seasons in which you and I are buffeted….storm-tossed….or generally caught up in a whirlwind. In seasons like these, the last vestiges of the sharp edges are literally blown away.

Job’s children were all killed when a strong wind knocked down the house in which they were celebrating. Yet it is also by means of the whirlwind that God Almighty eventually speaks to Job.

The office of the pastor/teacher involves preparing people for the inevitable storms of life

“And he gave… some to be pastors and teachers ‘to equip the saints for the work of the ministry…that we be no longer babes; tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine…by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming…” Ephesians 4:9-14

I don’t know about you but I feel like the church is in the midst of storms right now. I took great comfort from reading Psalm 107: 25-30. I hope you will too…

“For He spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves. They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away.

They reeled and staggered like drunken men; they were at their wits’ ends. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble and He brought them out of their distress.

He stilled the storm to a whisper the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm and he guided them to their desired haven.”

Buffeting is not punishment. It’s necessary preparation. Going through a storm or being buffeted by the waves is not to prove your strength or bravery…it is to teach you and I dependence upon the One Who can calm any storm by the word of His mouth.

Calm me down Lord. I trust You that I will get to a safe haven. Amen.

 

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The Hack

 

Note: I am interrupting the series on Key People due to the urgency of what follows

On March 3rd…. Coming to theater near you

The Shack

the shack

This past weekend I had to privilege to speak at a colleague’s church in Junction City Oregon. I titled the message “The Hack.” I preached about the whole issue of what the late Francis Schaeffer called ‘True Truth.” Millions of people have read The Shack, a novel by William Paul Young.

I had the privilege of meeting with Dr. James DeYoung, a Seminary professor who wrote the book Burning Down the Shack. Dr. De Young was a close colleague and neighbor to the author of The Shack, and his (De Young’s) book chronicles the intentionality behind the runaway best seller. William Paul Young, years before publishing The Shack, wrote and defended a paper to do with the doctrine of Universal Reconciliation. The Shack represents his effort to get us all to reconsider the very nature of Godburning down the shack

Universal Reconciliation basically asserts that if there is a Hell, it is not for punishment but rather a place of adjustment and purging from which all, even the Devil and the Fallen Angels, will one day make it to heaven. I challenge anyone reading this to try and square that notion with the Bible…particularly Jesus’ own remarks.

In my message, I next talked about how these progressive notions have infiltrated the church. I told the sad story about the late Francis Schaeffer, whose book The Great Evangelical Disaster (1984) was eerily prescient and predicted the very struggle in which we now find ourselves embroiled.

Another author named Schaeffer wrote a book that has subtitle in which be bids ‘farewell to God’ and announces he has abandoned his faith. Yes that’s right… Francis Schaeffer’s son basically refutes his father’s important work and says the following.

“I’m glad for my dad’s blessed hypocrisy”

Frankie Schaeffer in an interview offers this telling glimpse into his attitude. The Huffington Post described him this way,

Frank Schaeffer is a New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books. Frank is a survivor of both polio and an evangelical/fundamentalist childhood, an acclaimed writer who overcame severe dyslexia, a home-schooled and self-taught documentary movie director, a feature film director of four low budget Hollywood features Frank has described as “pretty terrible.” He is also an acclaimed author of fiction and nonfiction and an artist with a loyal following of international collectors who own many of his paintings. Frank has been a frequent guest on the Rachel Maddow Show on NBC, has appeared on Oprah, been interviewed by Terri Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air and appeared on the Today Show, BBC News and many other media outlets.

Frank Schaeffer in an interview is blunt as he describes his motivation for writing his book, Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God.

One of my aims is to unhook them from the Bible as something to follow instead of their conscience…I want to introduce the younger evangelicals to the idea that they have to re-calibrate their loyalty. They can live by the Bible or live by Jesus. They can’t do both.”

Frankie Schaeffer also appeared with Emergent ChuMcClarenrch guru Brian McClaren.

McClaren in his book Everything Must Change called for a moratorium on anyone even discussing gender issues. He neglected however to mention (the New York Times did…) that he had already ‘presided over‘ the union of his son with another man.

Emergent Church guru Rob Bell, whose book Love Wins made the case that there is no Hell (at least not the one talked about in the Bible.) is yet another writer who sold lots of books. (By the way… Bell left the pastorate after hitting the mother lode and now has a program on Oprah Winfrey’s network) Bell is on record as saying,

“We shape our God… and then our God shapes us”

So, why did I title my message The Hack? Listen to this definition of Hacking.

Computer hacking refers to the practice of modifying or altering computer software and hardware to accomplish a goal that is considered to be outside of the creator’s original objective. Those individuals who engage in computer hacking activities are typically referred to as “hackers.”

Let me close with this. Do you think that The Shack and the writings of Frankie Schaeffer and Brian McClaren, and Rob Bell accurately reflect the Bible? The next question is reasonable to ask. So why then are Christians raving about the upcoming movie?

Please visit the website of King’s Grace Fellowship (Junction City Oregon) Later this week they will post a podcast of the message I preached last Sunday. I go into much greater detail. For now, it is my purpose to alert you that this movie will make a big splash and believers are already confused as to what to make of it. It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit (a.k.a. The Spirit of Truth) will guide you in your response.

Contending…

Dr. J.

 

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The Grinder

metal filingsEver suffer a paper cut? For such a small wound to cause such discomfort is quite remarkable. I worked in a metal fabrication shop for a while when I was in college. I discovered something else at least as miserable as a paper cut…a metal shavings cut.

After the machinists were through, I would be tasked with handling the shavings left over from the fabrication process… a tiny, almost invisible metal shaving can cause an annoying, miserably painful cut.  It’s impossible to handle these miniature razor blades with your bare hands. Even with the proper gloves you can still get cut.

In previous articles I have been talking about what it means to be a ‘key person’ in such a time as this. To recap, we talked about the whole notion of being a key person—that the world’s definition of a key person has to do with traits or abilities that make one indispensable. To be a ‘key person’ in God’s economy of things, however, is the opposite. To become a key person (like the first step in copying a key) the first thing is to ‘present a blank.’

The next step in making a key (or a key person} is to get and to stay ‘locked in for the entire process.’ You will remember that I wrote that if the blank key is not locked in, once the cutting starts—things will spin out of control and the key will be ruined.

Next I brought up an important point. As I watched a man make a copy of a key for me in my local hardware store. the man said. “Keys are not made—they’re Cut.” He went on,

“Now that the blank is locked in…everything that has cut the one key will now cut the blank.” The motor whirred—the metal was cut and sure enough, the blank became a replica of the original.

My hardware tutor now said,

“Put on these safety glasses—This is when the sparks fly. You can’t handle the new key yet…until the sharp edges are ground off. It’s time for the Grinder.” He was right. Sparks did fly as the grinding tool removed the sharp edges.sparks flying

What I offer next for your consideration is an observation that it has taken a lifetime to get my head around. It is not possible to become a key person in the Hand of God without experiencing the grinder of accountability. “As iron sharpeneth iron, so one man sharpeneth the countenance of his brother.” (Proverbs 27:17) We each of us and all of us have sharp edges that can only be dealt with by interacting with others—even if the sparks fly!

When I attended the Basic Course for Navy Chaplains, our training consisted of chaplain specific skills and protocols and military training, such as

  • the proper wearing of uniforms
  • military courtesies
  • military justice
  • And drilling (marching in formation) Lots of drilling…

I considered myself to be somewhat athletic and coordinated. I was stunned to learn that it is not so easy to take a rag tag group of ministers and priests and train them to function as one unit. I was surprised to learn that sheer repetition—in tandem with others– is the only way to learn to move as a unit…all the while listening for the next command…the command to march and the command to halt…and the command to change direction.

The paved area where we practiced drilled was called “The Grinder.” As we neared the end of our basic training, it was rewarding to no longer hear many feet randomly hitting the pavement, but one footfall, one unit in sync and intentionally listening for the next command.

To be a key person is to be one who has an attitude of submission. “Be subject to one another” said the Apostle Paul. The Greek word translated ‘subject’ is actually a military term meaning “finding one’s place in ranks.”

Is there anyone who has served in the military who does not remember the command “Dress right…Dress”?  You immediately line up directly behind the man in front of you and extend your right hand to the right to insure proper spacing and alignment with those next to you.

My hardware store Guru closed his tutorial on the Grinder with this. “Now that the sharp edges have been ground off, you can handle it.”

Here is an exercise that may help us to see how the Lord uses people to deal with our sharp edges. Next time you are in church. Imagine the pastor saying “Dress right dress!” Then picture yourself lining up behind someone you might not usually associate with. Then extend your arm to the right and realize that you are in ranks with some other people you might not ‘prefer…’

Then as the pastor preaches the Word of God, remember that we read in Hebrews, “The Word of God is alive and active, sharper than any two-edged sword; piercing to the division of joints and marrow, soul and spirit… discerning the thoughts and the intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

That sort of truth can either cut you, or carve an image in you. I guess which outcome results has a lot to do with how we receive it.

 

Dr. J.

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My best friend went to heaven

wonderful-life

Note: This is the message I ‘shared’ on the occasion of the home-going of my dear friend Pastor Larry Johnson

My name is Jim Jenkins and I was supposed to be conducting this service today. Due to Ice storms in Oregon where I live and glitches in airline reservations I am not able to be there today. I’ve asked his daughter Melissa to read this.  Before she begins, she will say,”Please turn to the person next to you and say ‘Praise God…I’ve heard Jim preach before…and he goes on forever…even longer than Larry!’”

As I thought on what I may say on this occasion, the movie It’s a Wonderful Life came to mind

What follows is the back story you may not have known about the star, Jimmy Stewart and the Director Frank Capra.

The 1946 movie It’s a Wonderful Life is now a Christmas classic… It was the first movie actor James Stewart made when he returned home after serving as a pilot in World War II. His military service was an experience that left him adrift and not without psychological fallout.

Author Robert Matzen writes about this postwar period in the actor’s career in the new nonfiction book, Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe, and said that during the course of his research, he spoke with “the guys that flew with him, who told me about the fact that he went flak-happy on a couple of occasions – which means, shell shock, battle fatigue, what we now know as PTSD. He wasn’t afraid of bombs or bullets. He was afraid of making a mistake and causing someone to die. That was his endless stress, and that’s what ended up grounding him.”

Which is to say that much of movie character George Bailey’s angst was, to some extent, Stewart’s own. Before agreeing to do the film with director Frank Capra (recently back from the war himself), he considered quitting acting altogether.

It’s a Wonderful Life helped set him back on a path in Hollywood.

“The war had changed Jim down to the molecular level,” Matzen writes. “He could never begin to articulate what those four-and-a-half years, including 15 months in combat, had done to him. One thing he could do was express a bit of it on-screen.”

The following is an edited conversation with Matzen about Stewart and It’s a Wonderful Life.

Q: When did Stewart return stateside after the war?

A: He flew his final mission at the end of February 1945 and he was grounded because of his PTSD issues and then he came back at the end of August.

He returned to Indiana, Pennsylvania, where his parents lived and he’s home for a week or 10 days and realises, “I have to go back and face Hollywood. I’ve been away for five years, other people are taking my roles.” There’s a whole new generation of leading men that are younger or more vital, and he didn’t know where he fit anymore.

So he goes back to Hollywood and has no place to even live – he lives with Henry Fonda, who offers him a room. Fonda had just come back from the Pacific, and they both just sort of unwound and didn’t get any job offers. The only job offer Stewart had was, Louis B. Mayer, his old boss at MGM, said, “Let’s do The Jimmy Stewart Story – we can show you flying over Frankfurt, we can show you as a military hero.” And Stewart said no. He wouldn’t talk about it.

Q: Why wasn’t he getting job offers?

A: He came back looking like hell. There’s a before-and-after photo in the book that shows him in 1942 looking all youthful, and then in 1944 looking like hell. And now there were stars like Gregory Peck who were getting roles he might have gotten.

 But it was only a couple of months until Capra called with this idea of It’s a Wonderful Life.

The back story here is that Stewart, very publicly, when he got back from the war was asked, “If you’re going to make a picture now, what do you want to make?” And he said, “A comedy, I have to make a comedy. The world has seen too much trauma and horror and suffering.”

So when Capra calls, Stewart gets his agent, Lew Wasserman, and they sit down with Capra, who tries to tell them the story, telling him about this role and how only Stewart can do it and it’s about a guy who wants to commit suicide. And Stewart’s like, “Well, wait a minute. That’s not what I want to do.”

Q: What was it like on set, since it sounds like Stewart was a reluctant participant?

A: Capra (Who had some severe PTSD of his own; having filmed the atrocities of the death camps and the horrors of war) had supreme confidence in this story. Stewart not so much, but he got on board with it. It was this sense of, “This is our last shot. Hollywood went on without us, we’re not getting any younger, and if this bombs after we’ve both been away for five years …”

They started shooting at the beginning of ’46 and it was a long shoot, it went into June. It was a very expensive, exhaustive production. It cost $3 million to make the thing.

 

Q: Was Stewart also on edge because he was still working through some of his PTSD?

 A: Oh, absolutely. At this point, he had just started to eat again. He always had a high metabolism and always had trouble digesting food, and during the war it got worse and worse. He himself said that the only thing he subsisted on was peanut butter and ice cream. He just hadn’t been able keep food down. Now he’s starting to gain weight. But he’s still having nightmares and the shakes and the sweats. He’s got some hearing loss now, from the sound of the bombers on those seven-, eight-hour missions. So now you have an actor who, it’s not easy for him to hear his cues.

 Q: He wasn’t of the Method actor generation, but it sounds like he was, intentionally or not, drawing from his life in that performance, especially those scenes that reveal how untethered or frantic George Bailey is feeling.

 A: It was a personal and professional risk, playing that role. While he was making that film, he was questioning the superficiality of Hollywood and acting in general, and Lionel Barrymore (who plays Mr. Potter) said to him, “So, are you saying it’s more worthwhile to drop bombs on people than to entertain them?” And that really hit Stewart and was one of the things that turned him around and made him think, “OK, I do have an important role and there are things to be done.”

 Another writer talked of Stewart and George Bailey and the inevitable similarities

George was frustrated over his unrealized youthful goals which he thought would have made a world of difference. What appeared to him and a few others as commonplace and routine was just the opposite. Then Angel Clarence gives him heavenly help at the critical moment.

The connection becomes unmistakable between George Bailey and Jesus’ explanation of the last judgement in Matthew 25. We can picture George someday surely standing there among the sheep asking Jesus, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or see you thirsty and give you drink? When did we welcome you away from home or clothe you in your nakedness? When did we visit you when you were ill or in prison?”

 

And the answer George would get hear: “I assure you, as often as you did it for one of my least brothers” — the people in Bedford Falls like Ernie the cabdriver and Burt the cop who came to the Bailey Savings and Loan; the immigrant families over whose heads you put a roof; the misguided like Violet to whom you gave a helping hand without thought of repayment; bumblers like Uncle Billy who you treated with patience and love; those ill like Zuzu who you cheered and uplifted; those whose lives you saved like Old Man Gower and you kid brother Harry; and the Bailey family that you sacrificed for — “you did it for me.”

But before that George is blessed. Clarence the angel shows him what the town would be like and how others would have suffered if he’d gotten his wish and were never born. Psalm 91 was taking over — “For to his angels he has given command over you, that they guard you in all your ways. Upon their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”

That’s not all.

Decades later, Stewart recalled the moment eventually leading to the revelation. In that scene, George believes his life is a shambles, and he’s on the point of despair. Yet deep inside him there’s a spark of insistent hope

Stewart explained that he followed the script, pleading, “God…God…dear Father in heaven…I’m at the end of my rope. Show me the way.” And as he said this, Stewart said he “felt the loneliness of people who had nowhere to turn,” and his “eyes filled with tears.”

“I broke down sobbing,” he said. “This was not planned at all, but the power of that prayer, the realization that our Father in Heaven is there to help the hopeless, had reduced me to tears.”

The spontaneity stayed. Director Frank Capra worked hard to transform the unscripted, unrepeatable, heartfelt honesty into a telling close-up of that moment in the story.

Years later it also brought to mind how Psalm 91 ends: “He shall call upon me and I will answer him, I will be with him in distress; I will deliver him and glorify him; with length of days I will gratify him and will show him my salvation.”

Capra, the Norman Rockwell of movies, explained in detail what he had wanted to accomplish in It’s a Wonderful Life. One major goal was “to show…that each man’s life touches so many other lives.” Though in his isolation and desolation George Bailey didn’t know it, that’s exactly why the townspeople were at the very same moment praying for him.

 

It also reflected Capra’s major ideas and intentions in making movies.

“I will show the overcoming of doubts, the courageous renewal of faith,” he wrote in a book, “…and I will remind the little man that his mission on earth is to advance spiritually…my films must let every man, woman, and child know that God loves them, and that I love them, and that peace and salvation become a reality only when they all learn to love each other.”

The prayers of the Bedford Falls townspeople that Christmas Eve were answered. George gets the rare gift of seeing that his supposedly commonplace, routine life has truly been a wonderful life — a life that’s tremendously helped make others’ everyday, ordinary lives shine as worthwhile and wonderful too.

 

So, who was this Larry Johnson

  • Known frequenter of donut shops
  • Dachshunds fanatic
  • The one who honored WWII veterans by opening their meetings with invocations he took weeks to prepare
  • The one with such respect for Civil War history that he bought uniforms to re-enact Civil War battles
  • And with brother Ron… Shot Stonewall Jackson (See Gods and Generals)
  • The one holding the hands of parishioners as they died
  • Who held babies and children as their parents were being were arrested in the middle of the night
  • Who cried every time a police Officer was killed in the line of duty
  • Who prepared to preach with a care and study worthy of Charles Spurgeon
  • Who stared down Cancer and followed His Lord to the end

Who’s Larry Johnson?

It’s easy…sometime over this Christmas season lift a glass and give a toast…

“To Larry Johnson… The richest man in the world”

Dr. J.

 

 

Sources Cited

http://www.ncregister.com/blog/joseph-pronechen/jimmy-stewart-its-a-wonderful-life-and-psalm-91

 

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/how-james-stewarts-war-service-affected-its-a-wonderful-life-20161205-gt4h6w.html

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Keys are “Cut”

We have been posting a series of articles to do with the subject Key People at the End of the Age. We began by talking about the popular view that so called ’key people’ are somehow, by virtue of their education, or pedigree or skills or innate character traits, deemed to be indispensable. Hopefully I showed why that notion is not compatible with the kingdom of God

No, a key person in the Kingdom of God—especially in days like these which very well could be the end of the age referred to in the Bible–must go through some things. So we come to the process of how keys are made. What is the process and what is the significance of each part of the process?

First we talked about Presenting a Blank. Next we talked about the absolutely necessity of staying locked in for entire process. Today I’d like to meditate on the idea that keys are cut not made. Made speaks of fabrication and human creativity. Cut refers to conformity and the external actions of God that produce character.

When I originally went to the hardware store to get a key made or copied, the man went out of his way to explain every step of the process in great detail. It was no different when it came to this step. He said “You originally asked me to make a key. Allow me to correct you. Keys are not made they are cut. Once the key is locked in, then the cutting takes place. Everything that cut this key will cut the blank to make the new one…the copy if you will.key-cut

The sound of a key being cut reminds me of the sound the dentist’s drill makes when he or she gets deep into drilling a molar…a different bit is used and it makes horrible sound. The dentist will (if one whines like a small child as I am wont to do) explain that this drilling is necessary before the filling takes place. That’ll preach!

Why, I have often wondered, is it necessary for us to suffer?

C.S. Lewis in his book The Problem of Pain wrote,

“Let Him but sheathe that sword for a moment and I behave like a puppy when the hated bath is over—I shake myself as dry as I can and race off to reacquire my comfortable dirtiness, if not in the nearest manure heap, at least in the nearest flower bed. And that is why tribulations cannot cease until God either sees us remade or sees that our remaking is now hopeless.”

Lewis’s mentor, George MacDonald wrote

“The Son of Man came not that men might not suffer but that our sufferings might be like His…”

“Tribulation worketh…” wrote the Apostle Paul. Tribulation (Thlibow in the Greek) means to be forced through a narrow opening. It is the word the ancients used to describe a mother’s birth canal No one could ever argue that there is no suffering in childbirth. No, for new life to begin, there must be contractions, pain and anguish… in order that new life can be birthed.

Some things no longer fit… for instance the umbilical cord that connected (past tense) the baby to its mother… No, now the child must face the trauma of birth to breathe the new air of the new realm into which it has been born. So it is with suffering or cutting. To release or reveal the diamond the diamond cutter must take his hammer to the rough-cut stone that will yield the precious stone.

To be a key person, we must share in the sufferings of Christ. “It has been granted to you to suffer” said the Apostle Peter. Paul, his second letter to the Corinthians, said that our ability to be any comfort to others is contingent on our own experience of God’s comfort…as we suffer.

I have noticed it to be true in ministry, that often what I share about my own sufferings is the very touch point by which the Lord uses the lessons of suffering in my life to comfort another. One of the most powerful experiences I had at Ground Zero occurred when we as chaplains were tasked with accompanying family members who lost loved ones on Sept. 11th to the actual “Pile”… to see the only real grave their loved ones would have.

On the very first trip, the Mayor’s point person for caring for family members introduced the team that would accompany these grieving family members to see the horror that was Ground Zero. As Lt.Telesco,  a psychologist with the NYPD, told the group of fifty family member on that first trip.

“There is one other group of folks that are going to make this trip with you” She then introduce a goup of survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing. These folks traveled to New York at their own expense to be with you today…because they understood that they above anyone else might know something of what you feel today.”

Wow! It was like a warm blanked being placed on you as you lay on the Emergency room gurney.

To be a key person in such a time as this will, of a necessity, involve suffering and tribulation. We can grouse at it, whine about it, or embrace it. If we are locked in to the process, The Holy Spirit will help us.

Remember the incident in the Bible where Jesus used a coin to teach his disciples a lesson.  One of them picked up a coin. Jesus said, “Whose image is on it?” “Caesar’s” they replied. Well then said Jesus, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”

The word translated image is derived for a root word Karaktehr from which we get our word character. It means literally to carve or stamp an image into a medium using a sharp instrument. Sounds like ‘cutting’ doesn’t it? Even Jesus Learned obedience through the things He suffered

T.S. Eliot wrote a powerful poem

The wounded surgeon plies the steel

That questions the distempered part

And beneath the bleeding hands we see

The sharp compassion of the healer’s art

Resolving the enigma of the fever chart

To be a Key Person in days like these it is necessary that we must suffer and “share in the sufferings of Christ in order that the we might share in his glory” (Romans 8:17)

I close with the words to a chorus we used to sing

Make me like you

Make me like you

You are a servant

Make me one too

Lord I am willing

Do what You must do

To make me like You Lord make me like You

 

Dr. J.

 

A reminder that we are fast approaching the end of the year… which means this is the time for you to make any charitable donations in order to claim them on your taxes. Won’t you prayerfully consider a donation to the Jude 3 Fellowship? I would love to begin to conduct chapel services and seminars all around the country. This of course requires a budget. If you are interested, please hit the DONATE button below. Thank you. The mailing address of the Jude 3 Evangelistic Association is

P.O. Box 667, Monmouth, OR 97361

 

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Locked in For the Entire Process

This is part three of a series of posts I’ve titled Key People at the End of the Age. In the first article, I talked about the whole notion of being a ‘key person’ and what the Word of God says about the subject. What and who we deem to be indispensable, the Lord views in an entirely different fashion.

Next I talked about how physical keys are made and how the process begins with “presenting a blank.” If I have learned anything after almost forty years of ministry, it is that the Lord doesn’t need my advice. In fact, all I bring to the equation is weakness and sinfulness and a penchant for pride and stubbornness.

I believe it was Bill and Gloria Gaither who wrote “Something Beautiful.” One lyric sticks in my memory.

“Something beautiful…Something good. All my confusion He understood. All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife…but He made something beautiful of my life.”

So now we come to an essential part of the process of becoming a key person for God’s Kingdom purposes. In keeping with the analogy of the actual making of a key we need to back to the hardware store guy who was lecturing me on the process of making a key.

locked-inAfter he showed me what a blank looked like. He said, “Now we’re ready to place the blank into the machine.” He then warned that the blank must stay “locked in for the entire process” or it will be useless. It is also dangerous if the partially cut jagged metal flies off the machine before the process is done.

The other day I was talking with my neighbor Bob. He’s a coach and we talk sports sometimes. We were talking about the World Series. I confessed that I had hoped the Indians would have pulled it off but acknowledged that the Cubs won it fair and square. Bob said “Yeah, I’m not into it for the whole season but when the playoffs come around I follow baseball.”

I’m like that too. When it is highly publicized and current fodder for the water cooler discussions I trot out my minimal knowledge of baseball and opine as to who is the best team. You and I know for any individual or any team to reach the pinnacle of their sport, it is required that they give their all—In years of obscurity and fighting through pain and suffering recurring injuries and failure.

I think that there is a misconception out there today that to be a Christian, all you need to do is make a profession of faith and ‘identify’ as a believer. When Jesus told his disciples “Follow me” he wasn’t inviting them to read the box scores every now and then, and go The Sports Authority store and buy the team gear. No, He did not mince words. He said “Take up your cross and follow me.” I remember hearing of the little girl saying her prayers with mommy at bedtime. Kneeling at her little bed, She folded her hands, closed her eyes as tight as she could and said…Dear God….Please make me like Jesus….Only NO NAILS.”

Now I don’t know how you reacted to that story but I remember when I first heard it, feeling uncomfortable, thinking, I’m just like that. I want to be perceived as being with Jesus but I balk at the nails, and the reproach associated with walking with God in times like these. I experienced a great deal of anxiety as to whether I had the ‘right stuff’ to be a disciple. My conclusion? No I don’t have the right stuff…and I’m sorry to break it to you, but neither do you.

The Apostle Paul said the most encouraging thing to the believers in Philippi

“I thank my God every time I remember you, in all my prayers for all of you. I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until, now, begin confident of this—that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus  Phil 1:3-6

In another letter…the last letter he would write before his execution, he wrote to Timothy “

“And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and I am persuaded that He is able guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.” II Tim 1:11-12

Please note that Paul didn’t write these things from a villa on the Mediterranean. He wrote from prison. In II Timothy, he was ‘chained like an animal’, cold and lonely….’Come before Winter’ he wrote …and bring the cloak…the warm one…”

Clearly Paul stayed locked in for the whole process…literally to the last ‘cut’. The Lord will help us to stay locked in. He has committed to us that His Holy Spirit will help and guide and comfort us

Are you in? “Whosoever will, let him come….”

Dr. J.

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Present Yourselves

key-blank

As we continue this series I’ve titled Key People at the End of the Age, a little background is in order. A number of years ago I went into the hardware store to get a key made. The man took me to where the key machine was and then he somehow morphed into “Infomercial Man”. He began to speak louder as if to draw a crowd…which he did.

He said, “So you want a key eh?” He then showed me small carousel of what appeared from a distance to be keys. He said, “The first step is to Present a Blank.” He took one off the carousel. “Now this looks like a real key but as you see it is a blank.”

For our purposes let’s liken this to our initial experience as disciples of the Lord. We hear the gospel, the Holy Spirit convicts us of our need for a Savior. We are born again. Now what?

This Sunday I had one of the happiest days of my life. I was visiting the Church my son and his family attend. The occasion was the dedication of their baby boy Noah. Protestants as a rule don’t believe in infant baptism. There is however often a ceremony in which the parents present their baby—as if to say “We are dedicating ourselves to raise this child in such a fashion that he or she will walk with God, and follow Him all the days of their lives.”

Hannah in the Old Testament brought Samuel to the Temple and ‘gave him’ to the Lord. Mary the mother of Jesus along with Joseph brought the boy Jesus into the Temple to offer a sacrifice and to acknowledge that the Boy belonged to God.

Back to our ‘Blank Key’ analogy. The blank looks ‘like’ a key but won’t be a functional key until it is shaped into the use determined by the one who is making a copy of another real key. I’ve been conducting retreats and speaking to groups of young people about this lately. Somehow in our fiercely independent, autonomous age, we’ve gotten the wrong idea of what it means to be a person who follows Jesus.

I’ve heard it many times that the goal of Christianity is to GET…more success…more money…promotions and favor with the world. Listen to what the Apostle said in Romans 12:1

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable will of God”

The Greek word translated present comes from 2 Greek words which means to stand beside, to proffer, to exhibit or to yield (Strong’s Dictionary of the New Testament) Paul uses a derivative of this phrase in the last letter he ever wrote, Second Timothy. He tells his young lieutenant Timothy

“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and kingdom

Preach the Word, Be ready (or Instant) in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires—because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers, and will turn aside their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” II Timothy 4:1-1-4

 

The word translated ready or instant means “to stand UPON. To be present…to be ready to take a stand” Strong’s Greek New Testament Dictionary op.cit

The image that comes to mind for me is the scene at either The Marine Recruit Depot in Oceanside California or its counterpart at Paris Island, South Carolina. A young man or woman has raised their hand and taken an oath. Up until now the Marines the new recruits have dealt with have been very friendly and the exchanges were very positive. Now they are picked up at the airport and taken by van or bus to boot camp. The moment the Drill instructor enters that van. Life as they knew it has changed forever.paris-island

They are screamed at and goaded prompted and otherwise scared into lining up on a curious set of footprints painted on the concrete.

The message is painfully clear that they will no longer walk as they please. They will walk in tandem and literally in formation with others who have “presented themselves.” The very command for a military salute is PRESENT ARMS. Nothing is easy by design. It is the most rigorous experience many of them will ever endure in their lives. Yet the history and the lore and the mystique is clear. They are literally standing where countless other Marines have stood… on the very same footprints!

To be a Key Person at the end of the age, I think we would do well to understand that we begin by presenting our bodies as a blank…submitting to the will of God—that yes, may involve suffering and reproach and even death for some. But in order for the Lord to use us we must understand that there is a cost involved.

Jesus didn’t call fans to celebrate his renown. He called disciples to share in His reproach and suffering. Any takers?

Maybe our salute should be “PRESENT—Blanks”?

 

As you approach the end of this tax year, won’t you consider a gift to the Jude 3 Fellowship? Your gift is tax deductible and now more than ever it is vital that this message get spread as broadly as possible. You can also designate a monthly amount. Anything will help. God bless you. Just hit the Donate button and follow directions.

 

Dr. J.

 

 

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Key Man Insurance

key-man

It struck me funny the first time I heard the phrase. I was speaking with the pastor of a large church. In our conversation he used a term that I had never heard before—Key Man Insurance.  What didn’t feel right to me was the notion that a man or woman could be deemed so indispensable as to be designated the “key” person. (without whom the organization would suffer such loss as to require an insurance policy on his life)

Now I knew that big businesses employed such strategies to cover their losses in the unlikely event that the chief executive should die unexpectedly. One insurance company described the need for such insurance this way,

“Protect yourself and your business by insuring this key employee through a key person life insurance contract. Key person insurance is a life insurance policy purchased on the life of the owner of a company or a key individual in your company. The intent of the life insurance policy is to protect the financial success of a company due to the death of that employee.”

Is there such a thing as a ‘Key Man’ in the church? If the church has (as many have in our day) adopted a corporate model and structured the church as a business, then I suppose putting a price on the value of a man or woman’s life make sense. It’s the other implication though that bothers me. It is the notion that any of us is indispensable. If we carry this notion to its conclusion, then the early church should have died out with the Apostles. If you think about it, Peter and James and John and Paul and the others could be seen as Key People. Yet the church grew and continues to grow long after they died.

In the series of messages to follow, I would like to address the subject, Key People at the End of the Age. the phrase, the end of the age may seem to some of you to be a bit dramatic. Let me begin by saying that Bible makes it clear there will be a period known as the Last Days. Are these the Last Days? No one can say for sure. But are things taking place in our day that were prophesied in conjunction with or leading up to the end of the age? I think a case can be made that yes, there are things taking place in our day that have apocalyptic implications. The word apocalyptic comes from two Greek words which can be translated ‘to take the cover off…’

More on this later. For now, at the outset of this series, I want to ask, “What might it mean to be a Key Person in the Hand of God during consequential, turbulent times such as the period of history in which we find ourselves?”

The Late Francis Schaeffer wrote an important book which was published in 1984. Some of you may have perked up at the mention of 1984. (the title of George Orwell’s apocalyptic prediction of the future) He titled the book The Great Evangelical Disaster. What he predicted in that book has come to pass. Here is how he described it

The Battle We Are In

As evangelical, Bible-believing Christians we have not done well in understanding this. The world spirit of our age rolls on and on claiming to be autonomous and crushing all we cherish in its path. Sixty years ago could we have imagined that unborn children would be killed by the millions here in our own country? Or that we would have no freedom of speech when it comes to speaking of God and biblical truth in public schools? Or that every form of sexual perversion would be promoted by the entertainment media? Or that marriage, raising children, and family life would be the objects of attack? Sadly, we must say that very few Christians have understood the battle that we are in. Very few have taken a strong and courageous stand against the world spirit of this age as it destroys our culture and the Christian ethos that once shaped our country.

But the Scriptures make it clear that we as Bible-believing Christians are locked in a battle of cosmic proportions. It is a life and death struggle over the minds and souls of men for all eternity, but it is equally a life and death struggle over life on this earth.”1

In another essay Schaeffer asks the important question that each of us must be honest enough to face—How then shall we live? Remember that he wrote this book in 1984. Now we not only countenance and abide the wholesale slaughter of babies in the womb, we lightly pass over the news of the sale of their body parts. The journalist who broke this story has himself been charged for having the temerity to do an undercover operation to document Planned Parenthood’s ghoulish practices.

Francis Schaefer was a key person of sorts in his day. He boldly spoke truth to an increasing pagan culture. He wrote, lectured and used the media to try and sound the alarm that the wheels were coming off our culture. In the articles to follow I pray that you and I will somehow get a grasp on the gravity of our situation and address the question Francis Schaeffer asked over thirty years ago. How then shall we live?

Let me conclude with this thought. You are not a key person because of who YOU are but rather…WHOSE you are

1   Schaeffer, Francis, The Great Evangelical Disaster, Crossway Books, Westchester Illinois, 1984

Important info as you approach the end of 2016. The Jude 3 Fellowship relies solely on the generosity of our partners. Your gift (s) are tax deductible. Also please note that Dr. Jenkins is available for speaking engagements at churches, youth and college groups, Seminary and Bible College chapel services and In-service training events. He may be reached at chap4sq@msn.com

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They are watching

Vanderlei de Lima

Vanderlei De Lima 2004 Olympic Marathon

During the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics, the camera panned to a group of no-name athletes from a nation that few could find on a map. One young man burst into tears as he entered the stadium. As he wiped away the tears and tried to compose himself, the commentator made a remark that captures the essence of that moment.

“Look at him… for most of these athletes, this is their Olympic experience…just getting to this point…enduring what they had to endure… to enter this stadium with the world looking on.”

Like millions around the world, I wondered who it was that would be given the singular honor to receive the torch, and light the cauldron to begin the games. Who could forget the surprise when Mohammed Ali emerged and fought through the tremors of Parkinson’s to hold the torch aloft and light the fire.

Everyone expected that it would be Pele’ an Argentinian… the greatest name associated with the game of soccer. For health reasons, he declined that honor just before the opening ceremony. Who would they choose? If I was to take a straw poll, I am certain that no one would have guessed, nor been able to name the man they picked to light the flame.

Vanderlei de Lima. You know…Vanderlei de Lima. Of course no one remembers that name. Two reasons come to mind. He is no Pele’ or Ali. And second, he lost the gold in his event.

“Alone in his apartment in south London, a 69-year-old man named Neil Horan watched a middle-of-the night broadcast of the opening ceremony for the Summer Olympics. Like other viewers, he wondered which Brazilian would get the honour of lighting the Olympic caldron. And when he saw that it would be Vanderlei de Lima, best known for being accosted by a spectator while leading the 2004 Olympic marathon in Athens, Greece, he was aghast.”

New York Times columnist John Branch sums up the incident

It was Horan who (at the 2004 Olympics) jumped onto the course near the 35-km mark and shoved de Lima into the crowd in Athens — “Put him aside like a rugby tackle,” he recalled in a phone conversation Saturday — and was blamed for de Lima finishing third.

“When I actually saw him with my own eyes, I really got angry,” Horan said. “I look at Vanderlei, and I think, ‘You would be nowhere near the star if not for me.’”

Horan a defrocked Catholic Priest had disrupted other sporting events. In 2003, laicized by the Roman Catholic Church and an outspoken believer that the end of the world was coming, Horan interrupted the British Grand Prix by running onto the racetrack, forcing cars to swerve past him.1

So right at a crucial point in the race of his life, an unsuspecting marathon runner is knocked down by a religious fanatic and loses the Gold Medal. Now, twelve years later, he is chosen to light the cauldron in Rio.

A few days after this strange turn of events, I attended the dedication of my newest grandchild, Camden Jonathan Riddle. My daughter Hannah and her husband Jonathan stood before a large congregation as Camden’s smile was flashed on the huge screen. Hannah read a prayer that she composed for the occasion. She prayed that he would be a “world changer” in his generation.

On the way out of church I just happened to see a man who (later that week) was about to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I happened to hear his acceptance speech. He freely acknowledged that it was the grace of God in his life that afforded him the coaching career he enjoyed.

I started to see a theme emerging when (at week’s end) I tried to contact my friend, Pastor Larry Johnson who is in the battle of his life due to a brain tumor. Larry and I have been in touch every week since we were ordained together into public ministry in 1978. He is having great difficulty in speaking but there is absolutely no doubt that he is has all his mental capacity, but his speech has been damaged by the growing tumor.Chaplain Larry Johnson

The enemy of our souls has no hesitation when it comes to impeding the progress toward the goal for those who name the Name of Jesus. In the case of the marathon racer, it was a defrocked priest whose twisted mind convinced him that the was actually serving God by attacking the runner in the midst of his race.

In the case of the NFL coach it was the long standing tension of who would be the first African American head coach. On more than one occasion, he spoke frankly about the setbacks and disappointments he had to endure along the way to receiving his Super Bowl ring.

In the case of Baby Camden, I was struck by the fact that in his lifetime he will most probably face challenges we can’t even imagine as he walks with Jesus in an age of lawlessness. I prayed for him.

Finally, I thought of Pastor Larry. He has served the Lord faithfully for over forty years. He has labored in relative obscurity. His columns appear in a newspaper that reaches thousands. His work as chaplain to his local police department cannot be measured for its efficacy in the eyes of God. His congregation would to a man say that he prepared to preach each week as if he was addressing thousands.

At a time only know to our Lord, each of these individuals will enter into the arena surrounded, and cheered on by a great cloud of witnesses. Van der lei Lima will (if he has walked with God) will have the satisfaction that the challenges in his race were not hidden from the Lord; neither was the injustice of the attack that thwarted him unnoticed by those whose races are long over.

Camden will enter, Lord willing, to experience the satisfaction of hearing his Lord say “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…enter into the rest of thy Lord.” For Pastor Larry, the battle is on. The Apostle Paul is looking on… as are Martin Luther, and Charles Spurgeon and Bob and Shirley his beloved parents. I can hear them. “The Lord is your portion… you are going to make it!”

Those entering the stadium in Rio were aptly called contenders. For someLighting the Cauldron who read this… it is time to get up and get back into the race. For others, it is time to find your help in the Name of the Lord. For us all, it is time to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.”

 

Dr. J.

 

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Contending or Contentious?

linebacker

Legendary Chicago Bears linebacker Mike Singletary…look at his eyes

If the last 5 years have taught me anything, it is that how we say what we say about the Bible and Jesus is very important…and very delicate. Note that I did not say that the Gospel or the Bible are delicate. No, I said how we come across as we attempt to communicate these timeless truths in an era of increasing lawlessness is of major concern.

I am remembering a guy from the seminary I attended who was formerly a linebacker on his college football team. He was extremely ‘ripped’ as the saying goes. He probably had a body fat index that would rival Olympic athletes. He also had an intensity about him that often came across as a menacing countenance. I knew him and I was intimidated by him sometimes.

A christian music artist (who was attending the seminary at the time) planned an outdoor concert in Los Angeles… right in the heart of Watts. We were at Will Rogers Park…right at the epicenter of the terribly destructive riots that had taken place just a few years prior. Donn Thomas, an African American musician, had invited a number of us to go along and minister to those who would respond to his altar call. My linebacker friend, let’s call him ‘Bill’ joined us as Donn began to play “Can’t Nobody Do me like Jesus…He’s my friend” and “Ain’t no Rock Gonna Shout in my place…Long as I’m as I’m Alive to Glorify His Holy Name…”

Donn ministered powerfully and he gave an altar call. Bill and I and the others began to pray with those we hoped to lead to the Lord. Bill (I forgot to mention that he also spoke in a very loud voice) was ministering to a young boy about 13. I watched as Bill got closer and began to speak louder. The boy began to back up and Bill continued to advance….

Finally the boy ran away. Bill chased him to the edge of the park and with one last attempt… he yelled at the top of his voice “Hey!! Jesus Loves You….”

Discernment type ministries are needed as never before. The very notion of objective, absolute truth is under continual assault, and the culture around  us is careening down the “Great Down Grade” Charles Spurgeon warned us about. We need as never before to “contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude verse 3)

A friend did me a great favor a while back. She read one of my posts and reflected back to me that my tone was a little harsh. (She was kind) In point of fact, as I reread what I had written, I would describe it as shrill and confrontational. How, I have been asking myself for months, can I communicate the passion I have about what I truly believe is necessary for the church to hear, yet not succumb to fleshly enthusiasm that is off-putting?

The King James version of the Bible uses the word contend in Jude 3 to describe the assignment we as believers have to hold true to the scriptures. The Bible also, however, uses the words contention and contentious to describe less than godly approaches that some well-meaning apologists are accustomed to exhibit.

“A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city and contentions are are like the bars of a castle” (Prov. 8:19)

In Romans, Paul concludes his letter with this directive…

“Now I urge you brethren note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned and avoid them.”

The Greek word translated divisions comes from two root words meaning literally ‘two stances’ ( hence the idea of division of something that was intended to be ‘one’.) The word offences describes a young sapling, bent for use of becoming a ‘trap stick in a snare’ (see Strong’s Concordance Greek Dictionary # 4624 and 4625) I’m not stretching the meaning to say that this word suggests “tripping someone up” by means of a snare.

Remember Paul is saying ‘Avoid them.’ (the ones coming causing divisions and offences) What then is the meaning of Jude 3 in which Jude is pleading with his readers to “contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints”? Again, the original language yields a rich meaning that changes everything. The word Jude used is a  derivative of a word from which we get our word “agonize”  It can mean to “struggle for” to “earnestly contend for.”

Elsewhere in the New Testament we are exhorted to ‘not be that guy’. What guy? Maybe our linebacker friend Bill who thought he had to tackle someone…to win a battle… in order to represent the truth. Paul wrote to Titus, “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work. to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle,  showing all humility to all men(Titus 3:1-2) The word peaceable in the King James version means “don’t be a brawler” The same word is used in Paul’s first letter to Timothy, he lays out the qualifications for leaders A bishop must be….not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous…” (I Tim: 3:3)

Here is what I gleaned from this brief study. To contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints is arduous, and frankly agonizing at times. What I/we need to guard against, however, is the tendency to adopt an attitude of combativeness with others in order to arrive at the truth. I don’t want to be a brawler. I don’t want to be ‘that guy.’ I don’t intend to ever back down, but I can pray, even agonize in prayer… that I contend for something rather than against someone.

Something to think about…

Dr. J.

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