Tag Archives: teaching

A Translation of Mark Chapter 1

RomansText1The Lord is continuing to show his people many things. Of course, you wouldn’t know that if you’ve been checking what I’ve been writing lately. I’ve actually got quite a few things I could write about (How Israel’s enemies are over-reaching, and a Red Sea event is approaching, how the Lord is building his Body into an ethnically diverse community where everyone in it has the best job in the world, how lines of demarcation are coming in the Church that will change our perceptions of Christianity, and how the Lord is about to answer the cry, “Lord, help me learn to love,” among other things—and that’s all fairly recent). But I haven’t been publishing a lot lately because it feels like God’s people are a bit distracted, and even a bit angry and impatient with each other over political choices (we should probably read 1 Corinthians 1:10-13 over and over so that we continue to be patient and love one another even though we may prefer different political candidates).

However, I know that one thing that draws us together is a love for the Word. Back in November, I posted a translation of Romans 8 that I had done, explained a bit about my credentials, and why I did that translation (You can read that post HERE). It was only one chapter, but it was well received.

At about that same time, I began teaching through the book of Mark, and decided that when I teach at our congregation, I will use my own translation of the scriptures I am teaching whenever time allows. I have especially focused my attention on the Sunday morning messages and the book of Mark. I actually started doing this with Mark chapter two, but went back and translated chapter one just to have the whole book translated by the time I finish.

Over the course of the next several weeks, I will be posting my translation of the book of Mark. We are currently in chapter six. So I will publish a chapter a week until I catch up with where we are, and then I will publish the chapters as I finish them.

As an added bonus, you can listen to the messages that I taught using my translation if you so desire. I remind those who attend our congregation every week that we are using my translation from the Greek language as we study Mark. However, I ask them to bring their favorite version of the Bible along so that they can compare the choices I have made in translation compared to their translations. Many times I will also mention why I made a choice that their favorite translations did not, and explain the reason and implications of the way I translated it.

For instance, did you know that in Mark 3:21, that when Jesus’ family thought that he was “out of his mind,” that the Greek word used can refer to an ecstatic religious experience? That certainly fits the context far better than the “out of his mind” translation. Thus, I translated that verse, “When his relatives heard about this, they set out to take control of him; for they said that he was overcome with religious ecstasy.” That makes a huge difference in our understanding, don’t you agree? Actually, the implications and the applications are completely different than the traditional translation. You might want to listen to my message on Mark 3: 21 to see why. You can listen to the audio HERE, or download the video HERE. You can find all my messages by going to NewDawn.org, our congregation’s web page, and following the appropriate links to either audio or video copies of the messages. You can also stream the three most recent messages from the front page of our site.

Please feel free to ask any questions, especially about chapter one. I hadn’t started doing this while I was teaching chapter one, so if you listen to the teachings from chapter one, I am not using my own translation yet. However, you can often hear reasons that I have chosen a particular translation direction just by listening to my teaching on that scripture. Enjoy the variety, and I trust the new translation will help with our understanding.

Mark 1:1-45
A Translation by Randal Cutter

1:1     The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

1:2     Just as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “Behold I am sending my messenger before you, who will prepare your journey.

1:3     “A voice calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord. Make his highways straight.’”

1:4     John came baptizing in the desert, and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

1:5     At that time, all the region of Judea, and all those in Jerusalem, went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

1:6     John was wearing camel hair with a leather belt around his waist, and he was eating locusts, and honey gathered from the fields.

1:7     While he was preaching, he explained, “One stronger than I am is coming after me. I am not even worthy to stoop down and loose the thong of his sandals.”

1:8     “I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you in the Holy Spirit.”

1:9     In those days events transpired so that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

1:10   As soon as he came up out of the water, he saw the heavens rent open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.

1:11   Then a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son. I am well pleased by you.”

1:12   Then the Spirit immediately compelled him to go out into the desert.

1:13   As a result, he was in the desert forty days being tested by Satan. He was with the wild animals, but the angels were attending to him.

1:14   Later, after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee preaching the good news about God

1:15   by reporting, “The time is complete, and the Kingdom of God has drawn near. Repent and believe the good news.”

1:16   At another time, while he was going along beside the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.

1:17   Then Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you into fishermen who catch men.”

1:18   At once they dropped their nets and followed him.

1:19   After he went a little further, he saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John mending their nets in their boat.

1:20   So he immediately called them. Then they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired workers, and followed after him.

1:21   They went into Capernaum, and on the next Sabbath, Jesus went into the synagogue and was teaching there.

1:22   Those in attendance were overwhelmed by his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not like the scribal scholars.

1:23   Right at that time, a man who was in their synagogue and had an unclean spirit shouted out

1:24   demanding, “Why are you bothering us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”

1:25   So Jesus rebuked him and said, “Be silent and come out of him!”

1:26   After it convulsed the man, and cried out with a great cry, the unclean spirit left him.

1:27   Everyone was so astonished that they questioned each other asking, “What is this? It is a new teaching demonstrated with authority. He even commands the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”

1:28   Consequently, the report about him quickly went out everywhere into the entire region of Galilee.

1:29   When they came out of the synagogue, they went directly to the house of Simon and Andrew. James and John accompanied them.

1:30   But Simon’s mother-in-law was lying down with a fever, so they spoke to Jesus about her as soon as he arrived.

1:31   Then he went to her. He took her by the hand and raised her to her feet. At that moment, the fever left her and she was able to begin serving them.

1:32   Then when evening came, when the sun had set and the Sabbath ended, they brought to him everyone who had any type of illness, and those troubled with demons.

1:33   So the whole city was gathered at the door.

1:34   At that time, Jesus healed many who had various severe diseases. He also sent many demons away, but he did not permit the demons to speak because they knew him.

1:35   He rose early the next morning while it was still dark, and went out of the house. Then he traveled to a desert place where he spent time praying.

1:36   Then Peter and those with him searched for him.

1:37   When they found him, they told him, “Everyone is seeking you.”

1:38   But Jesus said to them, “Let us go to other cities that have a market places, in order that I also might preach there. I have come for this very purpose.”

1:39   So he went into all of Galilee preaching in their synagogues and compelling demons to flee.

1:40   Then a leper came to him. He pleaded with him on his knees and said, “If you are willing, you are able to heal me.”

1:41   Jesus was filled with compassion, so he extended his hand and touched him. Then he said to him, “I am willing. Be clean!”

1:42   The leprosy immediately left him, and he was clean.

1:43   Then Jesus bluntly warned him, and immediately sent him away.

1:44   He said this to him, “See that you tell nothing about this to anyone, but go show yourself to the priests and make the offering for your cleansing that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

1:45   But when the man had gone, he began to share what happened openly, and spread the word everywhere, so that Jesus was no longer able to come into a city openly. As a result, he remained outside in desert places. In spite of this, people kept coming to him from everywhere.

——————————————————–

Subscription Notice: I have found that the most dependable way of notifying subscribers of a new post is through email. So I have added an email subscribe option below. Just add your email address and click subscribe (you will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription—so check your spam folders if you don’t). You will receive an email alert whenever I publish an article. Your emails will be used for no other purpose.


 

Image credit: Randal Cutter/iPhone 6s (Berean Version)/Photoshop Oil Paint Filter

Romans Chapter Eight

RomansText1Many of you know that, among the other things that I do, I also teach biblical Greek when needed at MorningStar University College of Theology. Since my normal focus for this blog doesn’t require a lot of Greek, I rarely reference it. But recently I was reminded of something that I often take for granted. I was at a pastors’ meeting, and was using a Bible program on my iPhone to check Greek and Hebrew references. Whenever the person who was speaking referenced a nuance of the original languages, I would check it. I usually check references to the original language because, on occasion, I will find that the person who is speaking has overstated the case for the meaning of a particular Greek or Hebrew word. Like a good Berean, I always have my iPhone at the ready.

What I didn’t realize while I was at the pastors’ meeting, is that the person to my right could clearly see me reading Greek and Hebrew scriptures from my iPhone as the speaker referenced them. At the conclusion of the message, that person told me what an amazing thing it was that I could work with the original languages. It was clear that the person saw it as a great blessing. I agree with that assessment, but rather than feeling a sense of pride, I am simply grateful that the Lord took me through an education system that had required me to learn the biblical languages. I do not suffer from any illusion that I would have sought those skills on my own.

As a result of the interaction at the pastors’ meeting, the Lord was able to remind me about Romans 8. He reminded me that he wanted me to use the skill set that he has given me to work on a translation of Romans 8 that is more accurate and meaningful than those that are available. That, actually, is not as difficult as it sounds. Most translations are done by a committee. Each committee member has theological prejudices and understandings that may actually close some areas of the Scripture to his or her understanding. Since it is a committee, there is no guarantee that the most appropriate or meaningful translation will be the one chosen.

The other problem translators have is the one of tradition. The King James Version has left its mark. Unless a new Bible is clearly labeled a paraphrase, it will not do well if it strays too far from the King James Version. Since so many of the newer translations have stayed fairly close to the King James Version’s choices in many areas, it has made it very difficult to break from the crowd with any sense of legitimacy.

Do not get me wrong, most modern translations are amazing tools for our growth in Christ, and the scholarship has advanced in profound ways from the days of Wycliffe, Tyndale, Luther, and those scholars who labored over the KJV. Our translations are special gifts from God, and the fact that we have so many good translations at our disposal is an incredible blessing. However, for the reasons mentioned above, every translation has strengths and weaknesses.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: At this point, some of you may simply want to scroll down to the translation of Romans 8 below. I’m about to get into a bit of grammar. Some of you will find it very interesting. It may put some of you to sleep. You know who you are. Scroll down now if you need to do so.

For those who are still with me in this paragraph, I will give an example of how the King James Version often sets the direction a translation can or will take. In Romans 8:28, the KJV translates the Greek in this fashion: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” This is a well known translation of the Greek, but it has theological difficulties in the English translation, and grammatical difficulties from the Greek. However, it is such a well known passage of Scripture, that newer versions are almost forced to stay somewhat close to it. I’ll give several examples from newer translations:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (ESV)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (NIV)

The NIV breaks the furthest from the KJV by making God the subject of the sentence. Instead of the rather nebulous concept of “all things” somehow working themselves out for good, the NIV clearly shows that God is the one who works all thing for good. That is significantly different than the other translations, and I certainly agree with that choice of the NIV translators to make God the subject.

There is still a puzzling problem with the verb. The verb most naturally means to “work with someone,” not to “make things work together.” None of the translations above incorporate this rather awkward fact into their framework. However, the verb clearly indicates that God is working with someone. So if God works with someone, it would be nice to know who that someone is. Actually, there is only one option: those who love him. The Greek phrase translated “those who love God” is in the dative case. The verb “works with” almost requires that it be followed by the dative case. These two phrases are like magnets being drawn together. “God works with” must irresistibly attract “those who love him.” Thus, this becomes the most grammatically and theologically appropriate translation of the verse:

And we know that God works all things for good with those who love Him; with those who are called according to his purpose.

This is a very natural reading of the Greek language of Romans 8:28. I polish it a bit in my translation below, but in my view, it is the only reading that makes the most sense grammatically and theologically. I am certainly not the only Greek scholar who translates it this way, however, the versions have stayed away from it (although the NIV did place this option in a footnote). My suspicion is that they stay away because it is too radical of a departure from the tradition.

Please note that the theological implications of this sentence are staggering, and far different than the traditional understanding. In our normal understanding of this verse, God is working behind the scenes so that all of the things that happen to us, whether good or bad, work out for our good. What it actually states is that God is working with us, and we are actively engaged in working with God so that all things result in good. In the traditional translations, we are recipients of the actions of God. As corrected, we are participants in making all things result in good. In the corrected translation we become agents of God working to bring positive change in a world where negative things happen. All things are most certainly not good, but we actively partner with God to release as much good as we can into even the most awful situations.

I trust that the translation of Romans 8:28 whets your appetite so that you are eager to read the entire chapter of Romans. Translations by one translator certainly can also have their issues. However, one translator works without a committee, and thus can make choices that more clearly indicate what he believes is Paul’s intent. You will be able to see if I have achieved that objective.

I present my translation of Romans 8 here to fulfill an assignment that the Lord gave me, and to provide a clear and workable translation of the chapter:

Romans 8:1-39

  1. Now then, there is no sentence of death for anyone who is in Christ Jesus.
  2. For the power of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus set you free from the power of sin and death.
  3. For what the power of law was unable to do, in that it was weak on account of the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and He punished sin in the flesh of his Son for the sake of those who sinned.
  4. He did this in order that the legal requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who are not walking according to flesh, but according to spirit.
  5. For those who live only in flesh think of fleshly things, but those who live according to spirit think of spiritual things.
  6. For the thoughts of the flesh release death in all of its manifestations, but the thoughts of the spirit release unmistakable life and peace.
  7. For the thoughts of the flesh are hostile to God because the flesh is not submitted to the principles of God; it is unable to do so.
  8. And those who are living according to their flesh are not able to please God.
  9. But you Romans are not living according to flesh, on the contrary, you are living according to spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in your midst. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
  10. But if Christ is in your midst, the body has death working in it on account of sin, but the spirit has life working in it on account of righteousness.
  11. And if the Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from the dead lives in your midst, the One who raised Christ from the dead will also release life to your physical bodies through His Spirit dwelling in your midst.
  12. Now therefore, brothers, we are in debt, not to the flesh to live according to fleshly principles,
  13. for if you live according to fleshly principles, you will most certainly die a premature death. But if instead you put to death the fleshly deeds of the body with the Spirit, you not only will not die prematurely, you will have life in you,
  14. because as many as are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
  15. For you did not receive a spirit that is in bondage to the fear of death, but you received a spirit of divine adoption by which we cry, “Abba Father!”
  16. The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
  17. Now if we are children of God, then we are also heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer together with Him in order that also we might share in glory together with Him.
  18. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us.
  19. For the creation is filled with confident expectation as it eagerly awaits the revealing of the sons of God.
  20. For the creation has been subjected to futility, not willingly, but because the One who subjected it to futility has absolute confidence
  21. that the creation will be released from slavery to decay, and will be brought into the freedom and the splendor of the children of God.
  22. For we know that the whole creation together groans and suffers even until the present time.
  23. But creation isn’t the only one, we who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan in ourselves awaiting divine adoption, the freeing of the entire body of believers.
  24. For this hope we have been rescued, but it is no longer hope when you can see it. For who hopes for what he sees?
  25. But if we hope for what we do not see, we are patiently waiting.
  26. And likewise also the Spirit helps with our weakness. For we do not fully understand the absolute necessity of prayer, but the Spirit himself appeals on our behalf with inexpressible groans.
  27. And the One who examines hearts knows what the thoughts of the Spirit mean, because it is by the will of God that the Spirit approaches the throne on behalf of the saints.
  28. And we know that God works with those who love Him so that all things result in good; He works with those who are called according to His purpose.
  29. Because those He foreknew, He also set on a path to conform to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.
  30. And those He set on that path, He also called. And those He called, He also pronounced righteous. And those He pronounced righteous, He has also given honor.
  31. Therefore, what shall we say to these things? If God is our champion, who can oppose us?
  32. Indeed, He did not spare his own Son, but delivered Him up on behalf of us all. Since that is true, how will He not also, working with His Son, freely give all things to us?
  33. Who would dare bring an accusation against God’s chosen ones? God is the one who has declared them righteous!
  34. Who would dare bring a guilty verdict? Christ Jesus, the One who died, and more than that, was raised to life, He is also on the right hand of God and He is always pleading before the throne on our behalf.
  35. Who can divorce us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, dire straits, harassment, famine, nakedness, peril or threat of sword be able to do it?
  36. Just as it is written: “For your sake we are put to death the entire day; we are counted as sheep for slaughter.”
  37. But in all these things we are completely and overwhelmingly victorious through the One who loved us.
  38. For I am fully persuaded that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither current events nor future events, neither earthly powers,
  39. nor powers in the heavens above or in the depths below, and nothing else in all of creation is able to divorce us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

I trust that you are edified and encouraged. If you have any questions about the translation, I am more than willing to discuss the nuances of the translation with anyone who desires. I know that one question many readers might have is, “Why, in verse 9, do you translate Paul’s words as ‘You Romans,’ when the Greek word for Romans is nowhere to be found?” Ahh, that is a great question. I am glad you asked. The answer is that Paul used the plural form of “you” in several places in that section. It is obvious at those points that he was not addressing a hypothetical person (using “you” in the singular), he was addressing a group of people to whom he was writing. That group of people was the Romans. Whenever the “you” is plural, I have attempted to show that he was addressing the Roman congregation as a whole, rather than only the individual.

I trust you will be blessed by this translation. If you share it with others, you might want to link back to this blog so that they can see the reason for some of my choices, and ask questions if they are so inclined.
——————————————————–

Subscription Notice: I have found that the most dependable way of notifying subscribers of a new post is through email. So I have added an email subscribe option below. Just add your email address and click subscribe (you will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription—so check your spam folders if you don’t). You will receive an email alert whenever I publish an article. Your emails will be used for no other purpose.


 

Image credit: Randal Cutter/iPhone 6s (Berean Version)/Photoshop Oil Paint Filter

The Winnowing Has Begun

TrainsThe Body of Christ is currently being separated into two groups. One group will be used in amazing ways in the days ahead. They will unleash the power of the Kingdom of Heaven with such love and grace that the world will stand in awe that such things are being done by mere humans. Those in this group will become God’s end time agents who will help turn Satan’s kingdom upside down, and will initiate the restoration of all things (see Acts 3:19-21). The other group will find themselves on the outside of God’s purposes, looking with longing and regret on what could have been.

The good news is that the group you join is your choice. The bad news is that many are currently choosing the path to disaster.

The Lord recently gave us a picture of the choice that we now face. The picture was that of two trains that run on parallel tracks side by side. The trains look almost the same. They appear to be going to the same destination. For all practical purposes they will run in the same direction at the same speed for quite some distance. But in the end, only one of the trains will get to its destination. The other will suffer loss.

The Lord then said that the two trains are the Encouragement Train and the Discouragement Train.

The Lord has warned us that there is a wave of discouragement coming. He issued a strong warning that it will be such an intense wave of discouragement that many will begin to waver. Even as he gave us this advance warning, he mentioned the Discouragement Train and said, “Don’t get on that train!”

I know this warning is necessary. I have been surprised at the amount of discouraging hype that has recently been released in the body of Christ. Relatively prominent teachers have released predictions about the times in which we live. I do not know their intent, or the full extent of their teaching, but I have seen the results. I have seen an onslaught of fear and self-focus among God’s people. Fear and self-focus are not a fruit of the spirit. Instead, they are evidence that we have boarded the Discouragement Train. If you have given in to fear and self-focus, get off that train right now!

Do not misinterpret what I am saying. I believe that there are certainly difficult times ahead. But one thing I know, we do not get through those difficult times by endlessly parroting what this moon or that seven year cycle portends for the future. Difficult times are upon us. Get over it. The world is under judgment. Get over it. We overcome all of it by focusing on the Kingdom authority we have been granted in Jesus Christ. We overcome it by focusing on our mission and purpose in a lost world as we lay down or lives for those around us. We overcome it as we have always overcome every obstacle in this new covenant era—by the blood of the lamb, the word of our testimony, and not loving our lives so much that we shrink back from laying them down if necessary.

Jesus told his disciples, “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you” (Luke 10:19). He said that before his victory on the cross. Now that he has crushed Satan’s head, we have even more authority, and more power to overcome. We are overcomers. There is nothing that Satan can unleash against the Body of Christ that is able to overcome it. The gates of hell, all the evil that Satan is capable of marshaling against the Church, will not be able to stand against the power of God’s overcomers. Rather than focusing on the judgment and the evil, why don’t we focus on our job description? Why don’t we extend the Kingdom of God and the shelter it provides (see Matthew 13:31-32) wherever we go?

The Lord showed us another picture recently. He showed us that he was setting out nets to trap those who were releasing fear among his people. When he told us this, I knew that some of the very things that have recently released so much fear in the Body of Christ were part of the trap. As the Lord showed us the trap, he said, “It is a huge challenge when you hang around chickens. Chickens have a tendency to make you doubt and second guess yourself. They are not encouraging at all. They’re always skeptical, and they are always chickens.”

The Lord is beginning to draw the chickens away to the Discouragement Train so that the chickens do not hinder the people of God. Then his people will board the Encouragement Train and can encourage each other once the chickens have been separated in the current winnowing.

There is a time soon coming, and even now upon us, where the righteous will shine forth as the sun exercising the authority of the Kingdom of Heaven. However, before that can happen, the winnowing must take place. Those who claim to be a part of God’s Kingdom will board the one train or the other. Those who preach fear and discouragement will be removed, just like the ten spies who discouraged Israel (see Numbers 14:36-38). It is a time like that which Jesus prophesied in Matthew 13 when he said,

“The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (Matthew 13:41-43 NASB)

If you are on the wrong train, I don’t believe it is too late to jump off, but now is the time. Get on the right train.

——————————————————–

Shameless Plug for Drinking Water in Kenya:

A friend of mine, Pat Selvey, is living in Kenya digging wells to save the lives of children there. He asked if I would advertise an opportunity to purchase a drilling rig. The ministry has already raised most of what is needed for the drilling rig. Here is what Pat wrote, and a few excerpts from the website:

There is a water crisis in Africa. In many areas waterborne disease is the biggest killer of children under the age of 5. Water born disease is preventable. Clean drinking water for 150,000 school children requires that Hydrating Humanity purchase a deep-hole drill rig. We have been able to raise over $265,000 so far. Our goal is to raise $300,000 as quickly as possible to get this drill rig purchased and deployed into the Kuria School District in Southwest Kenya.

Would you consider being a part of raising the additional money needed? Every dollar given in this fundraiser will be used to purchase this critical equipment. Your gift of $10, $50, $100, $1,000 or $10,000 gets us one step closer to helping kids get clean water for the first time ever! It truly is a gift that will keep on giving!

If you would like to help, or to find out more, click HERE.

——————————————————–

Subscription Notice: I have found that the most dependable way of notifying subscribers of a new post is through email. So I have added an email subscribe option below. Just add your email address and click subscribe (you will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription—so check your spam folders if you don’t). You will receive an email alert whenever I publish an article. Your emails will be used for no other purpose.


 

Images credit: tonygers / 123RF Stock Photo

Satan’s Counterfeit Flood

blueberriesThe flood is coming. It is intended to wipe away truth. It will overwhelm those who are not prepared. It must not succeed in overwhelming us.

Last November, the Lord began to direct our attention to this flood. He did it by telling Dawn and I that it was important to watch the season of the blueberry festivals. We did not quite understand his purpose, but when the Lord speaks, we listen. We checked when Florida’s blueberry festivals were held, and learned that April was an important month for blueberries in Florida. While we didn’t commit a lot of time to our investigation, April came and went without any real insight.

However, last week we had the opportunity to connect with a friend of ours at the annual conference for our ministry stream, the MorningStar Fellowship of Ministries. Our friend is a blueberry grower, so we knew he would provide insight into why the Lord may have spoken this to us. When we asked him about the blueberry festivals, he pointed out that the festivals are marketing events timed around the harvest. He then pointed out something about this year that helped us understand why the Lord had directed our attention to this year’s harvest.

This year, the blueberry crop in Florida was incredibly good. The crop was abundant, had a pleasing appearance, and was tasty. It looked to be a good year for Florida’s blueberry farmers. But then, just before Florida’s blueberry growers sent their fruit to market, the country of Chile flooded the United States’ market with lower quality blueberries. In a move that damaged U.S. growers, Chilean exporters held their blueberries in special storage—a move that greatly decreases the fruit’s flavor—waiting for just the right moment to gain market share in the United States. This Chilean intervention in the U.S. market harmed Florida’s growers, even though Chile’s blueberries were inferior to those produced by Florida’s growers.

While I listened to my friend’s explanation of this year’s harvest, the Lord showed me why he had drawn our attention to the plight of Florida’s blueberry growers. It parallels a battle that will be fought in the Kingdom.

Things are looking up in the Body of Christ. There is abundant evidence that it has been maturing. The Holy Spirit has been working diligently to prepare us. The yeast of the Kingdom of God has begun to permeate the Church in earnest. The Kingdom mustard seed is even growing to provide shade for the inhabitants of the world (see Matthew 13:31-33). We are approaching a time when the Lord’s Kingdom agents are going to release amazing fruit. It will be abundant, have a pleasing appearance, and be very appealing. We are looking to the harvest season with expectation.

But Satan has a plan to gain market share in spite of what God has planned. He plans to flood the market at harvest time with his inferior counterfeits in order to harm as many people as possible. Fortunately, the Lord is revealing Satan’s plans to us in advance so that we can sound the warning. When we are adequately prepared, Satan’s false fruit is easily distinguished from the good fruit. The writer to the Hebrews stated that those who have been ingesting solid food “have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (see Hebrews 5:14 ESV). Satan’s counterfeits may look good to the unpracticed, but they will always be apparent to those who have grown in righteousness.

The only people in danger of being taken in by Satan’s plans are those who have not been ingesting the solid food of the Word. This means that this is a time to hunger for the Word as never before. It is our protection from Satan’s deceptions. The apostle Paul wrote of Satan’s end times plan in 2 Thessalonians 2.

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10)

When we ingest God’s Word, we are demonstrating a love for the truth that will see us through the flood of deception that is about to be released. The only ones who will be fully and completely deceived are those who refuse to love the truth.

I learned something else as we spoke with my friend. He shared how he was responding to Chile’s attempts to seize advantage in the Florida market. He has been crossbreeding different varieties of blueberry bushes in order to produce larger blueberries that are sweet and flavorful.

The spiritual parallels to his plans are clear. In order to counter Satan’s plan, we must press into the Lord for even better fruit than we are producing now. We must be willing to cross our denominational streams (crossbreeding) to combine key truths in ways that produce even more fruit. When the true fruit of the Kingdom is then produced at an even higher level, the counterfeits become obvious.

I walked away from my discussion with my blueberry-growing friend with a two-pronged strategy. The first is to encourage all of God’s people to dive into the Word even more persistently. It is time for us to leave behind the sin and distractions that so easily entangle us, and to demonstrate a love for the truth. That will protect us from the deceptions of our spiritual enemy.

The second part of the strategy involves pressing in to the Lord for even more obvious and attractive displays of fruitfulness. It involves learning from each other as we each share what the Lord has taught us so that we might together produce even greater fruit.

We are approaching days in which Satan’s false works will flood the spiritual market. But we can withstand this flood. When we consistently step into the character and power of God, the imitations will appear faded and pale by comparison. More than that, we can expose this flood for what it is, a last desperate attempt by the forces of darkness to counter the growing spiritual fruit being produced by the Kingdom of God. This attempt will most certainly fail.

——————————————————–

Subscription Notice: I have found that the most dependable way of notifying subscribers of a new post is through email. So I have added an email subscribe option below. Just add your email address and click subscribe (you will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription—so check your spam folders if you don’t). You will receive an email alert whenever I publish an article. Your emails will be used for no other purpose.


 

Image credit: / 123RF Stock Photo

Aging is Indeed a Disease

timelineAs I have chewed on the concept of time, I have considered how something that was intended to bless us has become a harbinger of disease and death. In Eden, before the Fall, time would have passed without negative impact on Adam or Eve. Ten thousand years might have passed, and Adam and Eve would have looked and felt as they had on day one. Time, as it was created, did no harm to human beings. While the passage of time would have brought the young to maturity and robust adult life, the maturation process would have stopped there.

Of course, that is not the case since Adam and Eve fell. The passage of time now can wreak havoc on the human body. Although the elderly only made up 13% of the population of the United States in 2010, their medical care was 34% of the overall health care expenditures that year. As people age, it is normal in this fallen world that their health fails.

If you look up the word disease in the dictionary, you will find a definition like this one from Merriam-Webster online: a condition that prevents the body or mind from working normally. If normal is the state of being that we attain at full maturity, it is obvious that aging is most certainly a disease. As we age, our bodies no longer do the same things that they were capable of doing at the age of twenty-five when, for the most part, our bodies worked normally. The aging process often prevents the body or mind from working normally.

We must understand and embrace this concept if we ever want to overcome it. We have little power over the things we accept as normal in our lives. If we believe increasing limitation is normal for a Christian, we will never strive to overcome it. We will counsel the elderly to accept their lot, taking Solomon’s description of the aging process as normative, quoting the words of wisdom from Ecclesiastes about how to adjust to our “under the sun” existence (see Ecclesiastes 12:1-7).

And while we may think it is wise to accept our condition, we live in a far different covenant than Solomon did. We live in the Kingdom, and it advances as forceful people take hold of it. Jesus once called his disciples and “gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness” (Matthew 10:1 NASB). Jesus’ disciples were given authority to heal every kind of disease and sickness. Old age is a disease. Many of the maladies that the disciples healed, without any doubt, were maladies brought on by old age. In the same way that Jesus freed a woman who had been bound by a demonically imposed arthritic disease for eighteen years (see Luke 13:10-14), they also would have freed the elderly from the diseases that bound them.

Since our King doesn’t change, and since we carry his authority (see Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18f.), he stills sends his disciples to take on this scourge. When he stated that signs would follow those who believed, he included sickness and disease. That means that he has given us authority over old age.

But here is the important point: We will not pray against aging unless we recognize it as the disease that it truly is.

Aging is a manifestation of death in our lives. It is our enemy. The Lord had warned Adam that in the day he rebelled, there would be consequences. “For in the day you eat, dying you will die” (Genesis 2:17b My Translation). Most translations render the infinitive absolute as, “you will surely die.” That is certainly an appropriate way to translate an infinite absolute. However, it is also legitimate to translate it as I have. The Hebrew literally states, “Dying, you will die.” The Lord was warning Adam of death in all of its implications, including the aging process. When Adam disobeyed, death began to reign, and humanity began to age. However, the second Adam has defeated death. We are now in the process of overcoming it. Every healing, every resurrection, every prayer for good health is applying Christ’s victory against our enemy, death.

The apostle Paul wrote of Jesus, “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:25-26 NIV). While Christ has defeated death already, we are in the process of applying his victory to our world. We, as his Body, are putting all his enemies under his feet. We will have reached maturity, and Christ will return, after we have placed death under his feet. It is the last enemy to be overcome.

If Moses, who lived under a covenant of death (see 2 Corinthians 3:7-11), overcame aging, how much more should we, who live under the covenant of life, strive to overcome it? The mandate to overcome death in all its forms is not a part of the covenant Moses initiated. But that mandate is most certainly is in our covenant.

How can we overcome it, if we aren’t even trying?

If Dylan Thomas had been a theologian, and understood that the Kingdom advances as forceful people push forward, he might have phrased his famous verse this way:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and flame at close of day;
Pray, pray against the dying of the light.

——————————————————–

Special Subscription Notice: I recently found out, that for the last months, those who subscribed to this blog were not really subscribed. That error has been fixed. However, if you have not been receiving notices, simply reenter your email address below.

Subscription Notice: I have found that the most dependable way of notifying subscribers of a new post is through email. So I have added an email subscribe option below. Just add your email address and click subscribe (you will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription—so check your spam folders if you don’t). You will receive an email alert whenever I publish an article. Your emails will be used for no other purpose.


 

Picture Credit: Two blended pictures.
Trees Image credit: / 123RF Stock Photo
Face Image credit: / 123RF Stock Photo