The Song of the Season

I believe this song, with one tweak, is the song of the season. The tweak was to change the individual references of “me” (for example) to community references of “us”; to expand the psalm-like prayer into a more transcendent cry from the body of Christ. Of course our individual worship in the Lord is wonderful, but our corporate worship is exponentially multiplied in beauty and power.

LORD JESUS, POUR OUT THE NEW WINE!

In the crushing
In the pressing
You are making
New wine
In the soil, we
Now surrender
You are breaking
New ground

So we yield to You and to Your careful hand
When we trust You we don’t need to understand

Make us Your vessel
Make us an offering
Make us whatever You want us to be
We came here with nothing
But all You have given us
Jesus, bring new wine out of us

In the crushing
In the pressing
You are making
New wine
In the soil, we
Now surrender
You are breaking
New ground (hey)
You are breaking
New ground

So make us Your vessel
Make us an offering
Make us whatever You want us to be
We came here with nothing
But all You have given us
Jesus, bring new wine out of us
Jesus, bring new wine out of us
Jesus, bring new wine out of us

‘Cause where there is new wine
There is new power
There is new freedom
And the kingdom is here
We lay down our old flames
To carry Your new fire today (oh today)

‘Cause where there is new wine
There is new power
There is new freedom
And the kingdom is here
We lay down our old flames
To carry Your new fire today

So make us Your vessel
Make us an offering
Make us whatever You want us to be
God, We came here with nothing
But all You have given us
Jesus, bring new wine out of us
Jesus, bring new wine out of us
Jesus, bring new wine out of us

Make us Your vessel
Make us an offering
Make us whatever You want us to be
We came here with nothing
But all You have given us
Jesus, bring new wine out of us
Sing that again, make us

Make us Your vessel
Make us an offering
Make us whatever You want us to be
God, we came here with nothing
But all You have given us
Jesus, bring new wine out of us
Oh, Jesus, bring new wine out of us
Jesus, bring new wine out of us (oh, Jesus)
Jesus, bring new wine out of us

It means we’re getting back on the altar
Let’s sing this to render everything, Lord
New wine out of us
Jesus, Jesus, bring new wine out of us (keep going)
Jesus, Jesus, bring new wine out of us
Oh, Jesus, bring new wine out of us

‘Cause where there is new wine
There is new power
There is new freedom
And the kingdom is here
We lay down our old flames
To carry Your new fire today
Where there is new wine

‘Cause where there is new wine
There is new power
There is new freedom
And the kingdom is here
We lay down our old flames
To carry Your new fire today

So make us Your vessel
Make us an offering
Make us whatever You want us to be
We came here with nothing
But all You have given us
Jesus, bring new wine out of us, Jesus
Jesus, bring new wine out of us
Jesus, bring new wine out of us

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Which is greater? Jesus or the bible?

I’m writing this commentary because so many Christian men that I have chatted with over the years seem to aggressively elevate the importance of “right doctrine” and “correct theology” to an idolatrous level, in my opinion.

In John 5:39, Jesus said that we search the scriptures seeking eternal life, but they testify of Him. I think He’s obviously elevating Himself over the written word. Not degrading the word, but simply stating that He is the word incarnate, and intimacy with Him is to be sought-after more so than simply amassing knowledge of the written word.

Also, the mind can be lustful just like the eyes, belly, or flesh. What does the mind lust after? Knowledge. It loves to fill itself up with knowledge, knowledge, and more knowledge; to the point that it gets filled with argumentative pride. But in 1 Corinthians 8 we learn that “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up”. Once again, like Jesus elevating Himself above the written word, Paul is elevating the Spirit (love is a fruit of the Spirit) above simply amassing knowledge that may or may not bear any fruit. He even goes so far as to call the amassing of knowledge idolatry.

Brothers and sisters, the written word is great, especially when used as a tool to grow in intimacy with Jesus and for the Spirit to renew our minds and transform us. But Jesus Himself is: Life, Truth, Beginning, End, Door, Alpha, Omega, Resurrection, Bread, Living Water, Way, Advocate, Bridegroom, Shepherd, Creator, Dayspring, and so much more…everything. All things are summed up in Him.

I love the bible, but if you never owned one you could have an intimate, powerful, and trans-formative relationship with Jesus by the Spirit. Knowing Him (deep intimacy with Him) IS eternal life (John 17:3). Not knowing ABOUT Him (like when we study a historical famous person’s life via biography) with head knowledge, but truly knowing Him like you know your wife, children, or best friend.

In other words, He’s a person to be known way more than a subject to be studied.

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The Source of All Dysfunction

Unless there’s a severe mental or personality disorder involved, there’s one thing that is the source of all dysfunction. These 2 scriptures give us clues:

1) [Psa 19:1 NKJV] 1 …The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.

2) [Col 1:17-18 NKJV] 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

From #1, when considering our universe, if the earth were 1 inch closer or farther from the sun, then our planet could not sustain life. The critical importance of the sun being at the center cannot be overstated. It keeps the universe in balance.

From #2, we see the God’s design for the individual, marriage, family, and church is that Jesus is to be like the sun in-and-to us. Head (means supply), center, first, and preeminent. And when He’s not these things, we have chaos, disorder, death, breakdown….dysfunction.

So what dislodges Jesus from being central? Juiced down to the core element, it’s self. Selfishness. Think about everything that you’ve experienced when dysfunction was present, and you’ll find someone putting their needs/wants/desires into the space of centrality. Nobody is perfect and we all do this from time-to-time, but if it’s a pattern then the “system” in which someone’s self is being consistently inserted will eventually decay and die; whether it be a marriage, friendship, church community, etc.

Also from #1, in Him all things consist. Jesus holds all things together. Our universe, our marriages, our relationships, our church communities, etc. So, when they don’t consist and they fall apart, we know He wasn’t center and preeminent.

If you’re experiencing dysfunction and breakdown, then you’ll be tempted to blame, make excuses, self-protect, and more; but all these are from the self, and contribute to the decay and dysfunction.

The key to turning dysfunction around into a growing and fruitful situation, is to consistently, day-in and day-out, month-after-month, year-after-year, decade-after-decade, put Jesus into His rightful place as head, center, and preeminence. And then you’ll see a proper orbit, balance, consistence, sustaining, and healthy growth.

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Marriage Troubles?

I know there’s a lot of people who are struggling in their marriages, and that’s so important because marriage and family are the front-line battleground. The enemy brings it to us here, because marriage and family is THE God-designed vehicle for passing down faith and grace from one generation to the next. (Side-note-News-flash for some: this transference is OUR job, not the pastor or Sunday school teacher’s).
 
So why are there so many gaps in our wall that the enemy can march right in and bring the battle smack into our living room and bedroom? I believe the answer is found in James 4; [Jas 4:1 NKJV] 1 Where do wars and fights [come] from among you? Do [they] not [come] from your [desires for] pleasure that war in your members? In other words, ** selfishness **. Far too many people get married because they’re looking to fill a God-sized love-hole with another human being, and no human is that vast. Then disappointment, disillusionment, blaming, cheating, and all kinds of selfishness sets in; and that’s really hard to recover from once it’s begun to grow.
 
So what’s the solution if we want FRUIT (love, etc) in our marriages instead of disappointment, strife, and cheating? Fruit only comes from one place, and it’s not the self. Jesus is the Tree of Life, and His fruit satisfies to the moon and back. His life and fruit makes things better and better over time, like aging good wine. Well, if I’m a believer and this fruitfulness isn’t happening, then what’s the problem. I may be a believer, but still living from my flesh and self instead of the Spirit; which produces death and rot. Fruit doesn’t lie. *** Look at your fruit and be honest with yourself. ***
 
[Mat 16:25 NKJV] 25 “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
 
This scripture shows the disease and the cure. Trying to “save my life”, “fight for my rights”, “get her to love or respect me”, etc are all examples of the death-filled process of “trying to save my life”. It’s all from the self, fear, pride, etc.
 
Learning to truly give my life away FOR HIS SAKE, is what brings Jesus’ transformational and fruit-growing life & kingdom into our marriages and families.
 
Make your #1 priority to seek a deeper, more real, more sincere, more personal, more intimate, more frequent, more consistent, more flowing, relationship with Jesus; and you will see an increase of fruit over time. But the mindset has to be like farming. We don’t plant good seeds, and expect a harvest the next morning. It can take YEARS of sacrificial laboring, sowing, tending, watering, and weeding before the first fruitful plant grows. But if we’re doing it for HIS sake, then the eventual harvest is absolutely sure.
 
Some huge distractions from making a deeper relationship with Jesus your #1 priority are: Looking to your pastor to tell you what to think, thinking bible study and getting your theology/doctrines right are the same as intimacy with Jesus, believing that church attendance and tithing are what make you a good Christian, thinking that being a member of the right denomination matters, etc.
 
I hope many figure this out before it’s too late.
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The Doorway into the New Covenant

Some thoughts on experiencing the manifestation of the kingdom of God in our everyday lives.
 
The doorway to experiencing the grace, power, glory, goodness, provision, salvation, deliverance, abundance, healing, peace, restoration, etc of the New Covenant is …
 
*** repentance ***
 
Jesus is a cheerful and abundant giver, and said He has already given us all things for life and godliness. So if there’s an issue of fruitlessness, it’s not with what He has provided or is willing to provide. When we turn to Him, He delightfully forgives and provides; every … single … time.
 
So if there’s an area of our lives that is not experiencing the kingdom coming to bear on it (marriage, parenting, health, finances, friendships, business, etc), and it’s deteriorating rather than growing more and more fruitful, then
 
*** there’s an area of our life that needs repentance. ***
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Worried about false teachers?

Many people in the church seem to be concerned about false teaching/teachers, etc.  So I did a quick bible study on the word “beware” in the NT, and it’s pretty revealing. The most mentions of the word “beware” are in the NKJV, and the extreme majority of the warning is to beware of “Pharisees and Sadducee’s and Scribes” (The nonspiritual, ultra-religious leaders). It’s because they are hell-bent on trying to force their unspiritual, deeply studied, ultra-religious, restrictions on people who don’t have the spiritual discernment to realize that these leaders are not of Christ’s Spirit and are simply trying to control them via their vast doctrinal knowledge & speaking skills so that their targets feel shamed & feared into following their particular view of pleasing God.

As Solomon said, there’s nothing new under the sun. Same junk is happening all through the church today.

Follow Christ and study the word by the Spirit folks, and you won’t come under false teaching. But the carnal brain can be convinced of many ungodly things.

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Teenagers!

After parenting 6 teens for the last 8 years, and also having 14 more years to go to parent another 3 into adulthood, I’ve learned there are 2 major things that cause a truckload of teen-drama.

  1. Brain development – As puberty cranks-up and their bodies and brains go into hyper growth mode, one area of the brain begins to rapidly mature, and another waits a few years.  The Amygdala is the area controls immediate reactions and aggressive behaviors, and begins to develop rapidly during puberty.  The Frontal Cortex is the area controls reason, logic, self-control, wisdom, etc. This part doesn’t start to develop until a few years later; and in males, may not be fully developed until they’re 25 years old. As I’m sure you can imagine, this imbalance leads to a lot of impulsive and risky behaviors that horrify parents, like speeding, fighting, risk-taking, etc.
  2. Dating – As teens go through puberty and their bodies begin to “bloom”, something on the inside wakes up too, and it’s powerful.  They become subconsciously aware of the reality that there’s someone outside of themselves and their immediate family that is required to “make them whole”, and they immediately begin trying to stuff other teenagers into that “hole”.  The problem is that “hole” is actually meant to be filled by a relationship with Jesus instead of another human, and He’s the only one big enough to fill it.  Since a human can never fill the place of God, but the longing to have that “hole” filled is so strong, all kinds of drama erupts in a short order, because a human can never love us with the fullness that God can.  And since they’re not “feeling the love”, they either go through lots of break-ups trying to find that “right person”, or they get into ugly and hurtful drama trying to control each other.

So, the message to my teens has been “Even though it feels like I’m trying to control you, I’m really just functioning as your frontal lobe until yours is developed enough to govern you to the point that you won’t do irreparable damage to yourself or someone else”.  And “Don’t date.  Spend your time an energy with friends of the same gender, having fun, gaining vision for your future, and get to know Jesus.  Once you’ve matured to the point that you’re ready for marriage, then have some healthy dating relationships, and avoid all the drama”.  They certainly haven’t followed this advice perfectly, but the seed was planted, and helped them to make better decisions once they experienced some of the foolishness of going their own way.

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The Power of Beholding

I’ve meditating on the principle of “beholding”. Simply put, the principle is that we become what we behold.

(Beholding meaning more than just looking at something occasionally. Beholding is more along the lines of habitually gazing intently [pondering deeply] at something, so as to soak it up into your being)

So, if we become what we habitually behold, then:

* If we behold worldly TV, movies, sports, etc; then we become spiritually weak, selfish, & carnal believers.

* If we behold evil like porn & violent movies, etc; then we become depraved, deceitful, and dangerous.

* If we behold the law of God as requirements for being right with Him, then we become judgmental, self-righteous, demanding, rude, overbearing, graceless, legalists.

* But praise Jesus, when we behold Him, we become grace-filled, loving, kind, truthful, bold, wise, disciplined, etc.

Let’s behold the awesomeness of our Lord Jesus!

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
‭‭II Corinthians‬ ‭3:18‬ ‭NKJV‬

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A Battle Hymn by Charles Spureon

Forth to the battle rides our King, He climbs His conquering car;
He fits His arrows to the string, And hurls His bolts afar.
Convictions pierce the stoutest hearts, They smart, they bleed, they die;
Slain by Immanuel’s well-aimed darts, In helpless heaps they lie.

Behold, He bares his two-edged sword, And deals almighty blows;
His all-revealing, killing Word ‘Twixt joints and marrow goes.
Who can resist Him in the fight? He cuts through coats of mail;
Before the terror of His might The hearts of rebels fail.

Anon, arrayed in robes of grace He rides the trampled plain,
With pity beaming in His face, And mercy in His train.
Mighty to save He now appears, Mighty to raise the dead,
Mighty to stanch the bleeding wound, And lift the fallen head.

Victor alike in love and arms, Myriads around Him bend;
Each captive owns His matchless charms, Each foe becomes His friend.
They crown Him on the battle-field, They press to kiss His feet;
Their hands, their hearts, their all they yield: His conquest is complete.

None love Him more than those He slew; His love their hate has slain;
Henceforth their souls are all on fire To spread His gentle reign.

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Reality Check – Killing sacred cows

Bible study, prayer, going to church, accountability groups, singing praises, book studies, witnessing, giving, serving, and on-and-on.
 
All good things? Perhaps. But the “good” part of the tree of knowledge was still death. So, all these things can be death? Yep, for sure. Practically all religions have these same “good” things in their “to do lists”. The pharisees were masters of the scriptures and strict religious practices, but they chose their “good” over the Life that was before them, and also hung Life on a cross in order to protect their “good” religiousness.
 
So could it be wrong to encourage bros “to do” these things, when they’re seeking advice or counsel? Yes, it could be wrong, bcs just doing these good things could actually lead to death.
 
Jesus said “eat my flesh and drink my blood”, and that “rivers of living water will flow from those that drink of Him”. And that *knowing* (a deeply intimate word) IS eternal life. He also said that many folks who “do” a lot of things “in His name” will hear “away from me, I never *knew* you”.
 
So if we do all these “good” things, and encourage others to as well, for the sake of amassing spiritual/biblical knowledge and refining our religious practices so as to appear more holy than everyone around us, then we are destined for weeping and gnashing of teeth.
 
It feels good to be able to tell another brother what he should be doing. But is it really leading to Life to just constantly advise bros to read their bibles and pray? Probably not. If doing those things really worked, then there we be a whole lot more victory in the camp, and way less problems & struggles.
 
I pray we all learn how to give each other Christ. Christ is the difference. He is life, victory, healing, wisdom, inspiration, transformation, deliverance…everything. Those “good” things can perhaps serve as plates on which to serve/eat Christ, but if He’s not the substance of food on the plate, then the nourishment is actually death instead of life.
 
And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the *preeminence*. [Col 1:18 NKJV]
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