Thursday, December 22, 2011

GOD WITH US

In 2005 my family and I moved to Tennessee. For our two sons, it was a traumatic move from the place of their birth. The only place and people they had ever known. My oldest was just entering his senior year (very unhappy...), and my youngest was just entering the teen years.

We had to leave a wonderful German Shepherd/Rhodesian mix dog named Rusty behind. Sandy and I figured another dog would be a good thing. We were looking for a smaller dog that might survive Sandy's clean-freak fanaticism (You might say Ken's recent fake/real house illustration hit 'home').

The first ad we answered was the last Schnauzer puppy, a female runt, of a sweet lady named Joyce. It was the first litter of her dog, and she felt like she was selling her grand kids. We were not sure if she was buying us, or we were buying her dog... Somehow we both ended up satisfied, but she would be checking up on us!

That was Saturday. On Sunday, we went to the Church we had just decided to attend. Greeting us at the door was, you guessed it, Joyce. We all felt the 'click' of a cool celestial conspiracy.

We moved to Dillsburg a few months ago. On our third visit to MRC, we had just sat down, when a lady I had never seen before came bounding across the sanctuary. With this great big smile she said, “HI! I can't believe you are here! It is so good to see you!”

I grabbed Sandy's hand and was ready to swear I did not know this woman. Noticing my terrified face, Connie quickly explained that she was our next door neighbor and had seen me in the yard with our Schnauzer. Out of our huge community, with hundreds of churches, our next door neighbors 'happened' to attend MRC. Once again, in a brand new place, Sandy and I noted another celestial 'circumstance'.

Don't get me wrong, but it wasn't Joyce and Connie that were important in those events. They are both really wonderful ladies! But it was who was standing behind them, clear as could be, in those moments. Immanuel. God with us.

In both places, at both times, through both ladies, He brought peace on our earth and joy to our world.

Because of Immanuel, we have, and wish you a truly Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Virgin Nativity

Isaiah 7:11, 14 (NLT) “Ask the Lord your God for a sign of confirmation... Make it as difficult as you want—as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead.” Wow! What a challenge! Do you want confirmation about something? Ask for any sign you can imagine. But the offer is deferred. So God takes up His own challenge; Isaiah 7:14 ...the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). For thousands of years Jews have pondered the challenge avoided by Ahaz, but forced by God. A sign 'as high as heaven or as deep as hell'. A pregnant virgin? Everyone knew that was silly impossible. For thousands of years. Of course there have always been girls who could not understand how their pregnancy occurred. And yes, there have been myths about sex with gods. But never did pregnancy and virginity go together in any of these incidents. Sensible people knew. Until God stated His own sign. The sign will be a virgin birth. And until Joseph and Mary. For the first time, someone had the audacity to claim impregnation by God... and still be a virgin. Luke 1: 26-38 (NLT) In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”  29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”  34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”  35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God... 37 For nothing is impossible with God.”  38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her. And from Matthew 1:18-25 (NLT) This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, her fiancĂ©, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.  20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:  23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child!       She will give birth to a son,    and they will call him Immanuel,       which means ‘God is with us.’”  24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus. Oh, scoffers with sly smirks mocked believers on that one! For the last two thousand years smart people knowingly acknowledged the claim as a 'symbolic' story... or less. All believers could do was quote the Angel, “With God, all things are possible.” Right... Until the early 1940s. Thousands of years after the sign was pronounced, nearly two thousand years after the sign was fulfilled, artificial insemination was first successfully performed on a human. The possibility of a virgin bearing a child was scientifically proved. Science finally caught up with the sign. Now a sign always is less that the event it validates. But this, this was not a small sign. It was a sign 'as high as heaven, as low as hell,' pronounced by God Himself! What event on earth could be greater than a sign like that? Nothing on earth. Only Immanuel. God with us.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lovers In A Dangerous Time by Bruce Cockburn

Don't the hours grow shorter as the days go by You never get to stop and open your eyes One day you're waiting for the sky to fall The next you're dazzled by the beauty of it all When you're lovers in a dangerous time Lovers in a dangerous time These fragile bodies of touch and taste This vibrant skin -- this hair like lace Spirits open to the thrust of grace Never a breath you can afford to waste When you're lovers in a dangerous time Lovers in a dangerous time Sometimes you're made to feel as if your love's a crime But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight Got to kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight When you're lovers in a dangerous time Lovers in a dangerous time And we're lovers in a dangerous time Lovers in a dangerous time My favorite lines? “Lovers in a dangerous time” “Spirits open to the thrust of grace” “kick at the darkness until it bleeds light”

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Marriage, A Love Marathon

My own opinion is that [love] is felt most completely in marriage, or some comparable attachment of long duration. Love takes time. What are called "love affairs" may afford a wide, and in retrospect, illuminating variety of emotions; not only fierce satisfactions and swooning delights, but the horrors of jealousy and the desperation of parting attend them; the hangover from one of these emotional riots may be long and dreadful. But rarely have the pleasures of love an opportunity to manifest themselves in such riots of passion. Love affairs are for emotional sprinters; the pleasures of love are for the emotional marathoners. Robertson Davies

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Legalizing Murder and Sodomy

It is asserted by many that in these modern sophisticated times, we are the first society to venture where previous cultures have been restrained by ignorance and bigotry. Through a perverted manipulation of the legal system and a growing cultural immorality, we have not only 'legalized' the murder of children but are now in the process of desecrating marriage. But are we the first society to assert these 'rights' and establish 'laws' regarding them? This is a deadly farce based on arrogance and denial. You are not going where no culture has gone before, you are following a course that has destroyed every culture on that same path. Leviticus 18:1-3 (NASB) 1 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 "Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'I am the LORD your God. 3 ~'You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes. Please note that the word 'statutes' means, something prescribed, an enactment, statute:--New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Simply put; A formal law of the culture. The question then becomes, what were those old 'laws' that God prohibited? A list concludes with three; Leviticus 18:21-23 (NASB) 21 ~'You shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the LORD. 22 ~'You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. 23 ~'Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion. Simply put, those were laws legally allowing child sacrifice, sodomy and beastality. What is the consequence of a society legally embracing those things? Leviticus 18:24-25 (NASB) 24 'Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. 25 ~'For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants. I know you claim these words are not words of God, but simply words of man, distorted by translations and time. To me, however, they are then, all the more poignant. How is it that words of fiction expose repeated history and affirm your arrogance? You are determined to repeat the perversion of law, but deny the historic reality of it's consequences.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

ONE

Marriage is a man and woman divinely united as one. One person guarding your heart more than their own. One for time and storm weathered strength. One for the life-long commitment of spirits united. One that is familiar with my soul secrets. One that knows the good and bad, and still loves. One enjoying the fruit of familiarity. One that knows and delights in pleasing ALL the private and hidden parts of another. And most powerful? One intimacy that is shared with no one else. That is a climax that only happens in real marriage. Anything less is a sacrilege.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

CIRCUMCISION AND SUBMISSION

Exodus 4:24-26 (NIV)
24 At a lodging place on the way, the LORD met [Moses] and was about to kill him.
25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son's foreskin and touched [Moses'] feet with it. "Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me," she said.
26 So the LORD let him alone. (At that time she said "bridegroom of blood," referring to circumcision.)
Moses is on his way to confront the Pharaoh for the first time.
This is the deliverer chosen from birth.
Miraculously delivered from death into the very court of Pharaoh!
Trained for forty years in Egypt, and then forty years in the desert.
God has just convinced a reluctant Moses to return to Pharaoh.

Now God is ready to kill Moses...

At first glance, we might think this incident is primarily about circumcision. But, while the issue is circumcision, the cause of the situation is gender authority. The incredible consequence is that God is willing to kill Moses! Moses listened to his wife instead of God!

The essential mark of a Hebrew was the circumcision of all males. It signified the Covenant between the Israelites and God. We find that God used a outward symbol to signify a spiritual truth. God was willing to end His covenant with the Hebrews, if the condition of circumcision was set aside.

Apparently Zipporah abhorred the idea of cutting the foreskin off their newborn son. Instead of exercising his authority as the head of the home, Moses defers to Zipporah. And as a result, Moses is held accountable, not Zipporah.

What I find incredibly interesting, is that we find a parallel passage where an outward symbol is being used to represent the spiritual truth in the New Testament Church. Again, the issue is gender authority. Even more serious, the consequence is greater!

1 Corinthians 11:2-16 (NIV)
2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you.
3 Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head.
5 And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head--it is just as though her head were shaved.
6 If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head.
7 A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.
8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man;
9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.
10 For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.
11 In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.
12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.
13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?
14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him,
15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering.
16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice--nor do the churches of God.
In this situation we see a principle for not the just Chosen People, but also the Bride of Christ.

Instead of the circumcision of men, the outward expression is a head covering on women. God once again is using an outward symbol to communicate a spiritual truth. Paul clearly establishes that one of the distinguishing marks of God's Church is a visible expression of gender authority.

Instead of communicating God's Covenant with the Hebrews, the message is God's structure of authority. Is not rebellion at the root of every sin?

Instead of Moses risking rejection, we see a group of people risking separation from the Church. Paul is very clear in addressing those who reject this message. Speaking as an Apostle, he says there is no other practice. Then to doubly communicate the seriousness and consequence, he says, “neither do the Churches of God.”

Instead of Zapporah rejecting God's command, we see women rejecting God's structure of authority. This principle of gender authority is not only a consequence of the fall, it is a consistent practice and teaching all through the Bible.

Instead of Moses acquiescing leadership, we have the males of the Church failing to establish their position. Are we not with greater responsibility having the example and teaching of the whole Bible?

Do you realize that in both these situations, we see a direct repeat of Adam and Eve in the Garden? It's not circumcision or a symbol of authority, it's the fruit of a tree. It's not the Covenant or the structure of gender authority, it's obedience to our Maker. It's not Zapporah or women in a Church, it's Eve deciding to disagree with God. It's not Moses or men in a Church, it's Adam not asserting his leadership.

Even more amazing, in each situation the same question is diabolically asked, “Did God really say...”?
The rebellion of Eve and the failure of Adam to lead. The rebellion of Zapporah and the failure of Moses to act. The rebellion of woman in the Church, and the failure of Christian men to act.

The sad thing about this is that the American Church is not contentious about this issue. We simply ignore the message of this passage. We reject the truth that ALL Scripture is profitable for four things; doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. The only contention that arises is if someone brings this passage up!

I cannot sit silent. The American Church is in too much trouble. America is in too much trouble. We are watching the unraveling of the very fabric of our society, marriage and the family. I assert that this issue is at the start of that unraveling. 'We would not be judged if we would judge ourselves'.

Do a Berean study on what I have said here. Call me to account. For the sake of the Church. And your sake.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Weiner Syndrome

The fallacy that we can dress up immorality with designer morality is painfully exposed in the Anthony Weiner situation.

Now it is not the Representative desperately seeking to squirm his way out, but us, the witnesses. Twisting and turning, trying to patch holes in the deception that we can create good and evil.

That instead, we are hopelessly broken souls.

That there are cracks in the facade of the best and brightest of our heroes. That the swiftest tongue, the sharpest mind and the most promising leader will sooner or later self-destruct.

That in trying to cover one damaged consequence we ignore one victim and violate still another.

That we have no true way to redeem ourselves. That we can only limp along as long as we can.

We may ignore. Or pretend to forget. But the judgment always stands that those who do these things shall surely die. And die we do.

There is only one solution I know. One place any one of us can go. There, side by side, I stand on level ground next to Anthony. And you. At the foot of the Cross. If I confess my sins, He is faithful and just to forgive.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

She

She stole me, the involuntary consequence of passion.
She made me, the creation of day in and day out faithfulness.
She thrills me, the endless adventure of shared commitment.
She owns me, the flashing emerald eyes and curly red hair.
She is me, and I her, made one by Divine decree.

Friday, May 27, 2011

WHAT DID JESUS DO

Warn like God's Prophets did
When nations did what we are doing now
Watch with careful vigilance
When there are signs we see now

We tear asunder what God has made one
We prepare children of anarchy
We infinitely pollute our mind environment
We call evil good

When the Church is a Pollyanna bride
Will we not eat the grapes of wrath?
We want to Facebook
Instead of facing all The Book says

When I see these things
I want to shout, “LOOK!”
When I think about the consequences
I want to scream “FIRE!”
Is there any inferno like God's wrath?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Is There Anything Good About Men?

Why the current social perspective on gender roles has led to the Peter Pan syndrome and Amazon women.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Baumeister

Sunday, February 27, 2011

WATCHMANN

A while back one of my young relatives reading my FaceBook page posted, “Who are you?” I initially he was asking about how we were related. That was not what he wondered...
“Who are you” reminded me of a friend who once said to me, “You are a Crusader”. When I told two Pastor friends about it, they said, “Yea, a bulldog Crusader”. This is a result of my propensity to pick a issue and ride it for a long time.
I took both descriptions as negatives given the reputations of the Crusaders and Kirschmann stubbornness. I have since learned about the other side of the Crusader's excesses and the redeemed side of stubbornness. I pray God gives me the grace to stay away from the dark side of both those identities.
However, more important than who others think we are, is who God says we are. My name Gregory literally means 'watchman'. Hence my 'handle' many times is 'Watchmann', a play on my first and last name.
Here are the two key passages in Scripture about watchman;
Jeremiah 6:16-19 (NASB) Thus says the LORD, "Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls. But they said, 'We will not walk in it.'
17 "And I set watchmen over you, saying, 'Listen to the sound of the trumpet!' But they said, 'We will not listen.'
18 "Therefore hear, O nations, And know, O congregation, what is among them.
19 "Hear, O earth: behold, I am bringing disaster on this people, The fruit of their plans, Because they have not listened to My words, And as for My law, they have rejected it also.

Ezekiel 33:1-11 (NASB) And the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
2 "Son of man, speak to the sons of your people and say to them, 'If I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them and make him their watchman,
3 and he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows on the trumpet and warns the people,
4 then he who hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head.
5 ~'He heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning; his blood will be on himself. But had he taken warning, he would have delivered his life.
6 ~'But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman's hand.'
7 "Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me.
8 "When I say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you will surely die,' and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand.
9 "But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life.
10 "Now as for you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, 'Thus you have spoken, saying, "Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we are rotting away in them; how then can we survive?"'
11 "Say to them, 'As I live!' declares the Lord GOD, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?'

How does this identity of watchman show up in my life? The main areas are;
-Gender authority, the first issue affecting marriage and family where we have abdicated truth.
-Sexual morality, a binding darkness that sucks life and light out of the souls of men.
-Political morality, a top down destruction of Christian influence.
-And more recently, Islam, a designer religion from the pits of Hell.
I see these as major issues the our society and the American Church.

I don't consider my role as prophetic. It is simply observing the world in the light of the Word. However, like the prophet, the message is generally negative and the response is often rejection.

Nor do I consider myself above the fray. I have found too many personal 'thorns in the flesh', some of which I still depend on God's sufficient grace for. That amazing grip of grace and the faithful presence of the Holy Spirit personally give me hope to reach out to others. To 'kick at the darkness until it bleeds light'.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Consequence, a close friend of Reality slapped Ignorance and tripped up Denial to teach a lesson. I told Reality Denial is making Ignorance look like a fool. Reality said Denial will never change and Ignorance will never learn even though Consequence has no desire to be a bully.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

WHEN MY TIME COMES

No angel of death passing over me
When my time is not to be
It's Moses at my door I want to see

No more bricks, darkest Pharaoh
The greatest miracle Jesus did show
I AM shouts, “Let my people go!”

No Red Sea parting there shall be
My Jesus split the Dead Sea
Now the Promise Land I see

No stone tablets saying what should be
Where my body lays you see
“Perfected” the stone over me

Break the chains
From slave to son
Blow the trumpet
My freedoms won
Won't look back
My time is done

Friday, February 4, 2011

LOSS

Waiting for the why answers.
We run to the One who comforts.
Watching for the last tear wipe.

REAL MARRIAGE

Real marriage has always been and will always be a committed relationship between one man and one woman. Pretending or saying it ain't so doesn't make it so. Anything else will just join the list of fake marriages.



It is the only relationship that reproduces naturally (including a father and mother raising their children).



It is the only relationship that is the birthing place of every single other type of relationship.



It is the only relationship that reunites two completely unique parts.



It is the only relationship that sexually fit together by design.



It is the only relationship that restores a male and female to the original roots of our creation (pre-gender).



It is the only union that blends two different genders bringing perfect balance. A same gender union would lack diversity and be off balance.



All this says nothing about the culturally historic and religious distinctions.



It clearly has, needs and deserves a special and unique definition.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

BABYLONIAN BLUES

Got the broke earth blues
The bloody war blues
No badder blue than the Babylonian blues

Babylonian blues burden
I hang my harp on the willow tree
Wretched man what shall I do?

God and man breakup blues
Bring broke back blues
Biggest blues ever are the Babylonian blues

Looking for the eastern Sonset
I hang my heart on the rugged tree
Celestial City Celebration come!