She did What? WOW!!!


The more I look, the more I realize how the Word of God is synchronized. Sometimes because of our lack of understanding of the culture and times of 2 thousand years ago we put things in the context of our own specific culture and reasoning. Obviously that presents a problem. Each culture, each country produces its own uniqueness and to really appreciate the history, the music, the tradition and other nuances one must try to become acquainted with those different aspects. So when we read the Word of God, for an example, we must understand the culture, the time and the people the Scripture is addressing. How does it line up with other factors found in Scripture?

We will be in the season, within a few weeks, where Christians will be remembering the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus the Christ, commonly known as Easter. It is also the same time of the Jewish Holiday Passover. Coincidence, no I think not. Maybe, just maybe in order to bring even more clarity of the perceived ending chapter of Jesus’ earthly life, we need to go back to the beginning.

Luke 2:6-14“And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger. Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.””

As an American, chances are one of the first songs you learned as a child was “Mary had a little lamb”, remember? “Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb…Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow….” I believe upon close inspection we will find yes, it is true. Mary indeed had a little Lamb.

Have you ever wonder why the shepherds were out watching over their sheep at night? Who were these Shepherds that the angels made the announcement found in Luke 2:11-12? How did the shepherds know where to go to find this babe? Why did they not have any hesitation or discussion as to what direction to take? After all it was not like the angels gave them a location. The answer is simple. These were not ordinary shepherds. They were “Priestly Shepherds” and the sheep they were guarding were “Sacrificial Lambs” which were used during the Passover. Because these particular sheep were used for sacrifice they had to be watched 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These sacrifices had to be perfect and anyone wanting to buy a lamb for the Passover would come to Bethlehem to be guaranteed of getting “the best”. Bethlehem was considered in that day the “Holding Pen” for the “Sacrificial Lambs” so on this night Bethlehem became the “Holding Pen” for God’s Sacrificial Lamb, Mary’s baby. Is it no wonder that the angels would appear first to these “Priestly Shepherds” and they would be the ones to first join Mary and Joseph in welcoming “THE ULTIMATE” sacrificial Lamb, Jesus Christ. If this indeed is true, then the nativity scene we traditionally see at Christmas with the baby Jesus surrounded by cattle, and sheep and donkeys in a lean to shelter is not a reasonable picture of this birth event. I point back to my initial comments in understanding the times and culture. If truly Christ was born in a special place for special sheep for a special event then the environment would have to be favorable for the expected outcome.

MICAH 4:8 “And thou, O tower of the flock (Migdal Eder), the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem, O tower of the flock” –

Migdal Eder was the watchtower that guarded the Temple sheep that would be the sacrificed in Jerusalem. Again these were not just any sheep and the shepherds who watched over them were specifically trained for this job. They were educated in the requirements and it was their job to make sure that none of the animals were hurt, damaged, or blemished.

Migdal Eder was where the shepherds would watch over their flock from the second story and the first story was where the newborn lambs were placed from the fields of Bethlehem. The shepherds would wrap the newborn lambs in SWADDLING CLOTHES to protect the body of the lambs which would be offered as sacrifice at the Temple just about four miles away in Jerusalem. Swaddling clothes were used to tightly bind the new lambs from being bruised and injured by thrashing around. I imagine it provided a form of comfort just like when a human baby is wrapped in a blanket at birth. The lambs would be laid in a manger until they had calmed down. They immediately understood where to go to find the newborn Messiah, Jesus Christ. He would be found where the angel had told them, wrapped in SWADDLING CLOTHES lying in a manger in the lower floor of the tower of the flock, Migdal Eder. Jesus was born in Bethlehem where all sacrificial lambs were born, and died in Jerusalem where all sacrificial lambs were killed. He was born as the Lamb to be sacrificed to take away the sin of the world.

Abraham saw the arrival of the Lamb. When he was going to offer up Isaac, Isaac asked where was the sacrifice. And Abraham said, my son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering:

In order for Christ to be the Passover Lamb of God, He would have had to fulfill the role in its entirety. The Lamb had to be born in Bethlehem, without blemish. He would have to be a male and in the prime of life as a one year lamb was accept to be in prime strength. A man in his early thirties is to be assumed to be in his prime.

In John 1:29 – John proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.” In other words this is no ordinary man, this is the “Lamb of God”. Yes it is true!! Mary really did have a little Lamb! What other events significantly point out the fact that He indeed is the ‘sacrificial’ Lamb of God? We shall see next week.

Briefly, a couple things I saw in writing this blog post. First, the shepherds were not watching the flock from the comfort of the second story of the tower at night. When the enemy, wolves, bears and lions are most likely to strike in the darkness of night, they were in the field to protect. They took their call to guard, protect and serve seriously, boots on ground, realizing the value of those charged to them. What say you Pastors and Ministry Leaders? Second let’s give the innkeeper a break. There was no room in the inn because there was not supposed to be any room in the inn… and it’s not the innkeeper’s fault. In order to fulfill and satisfy Christ’s end, Mary and Joseph could not get in at the inn. Here a thought some of you have tried to get in with the in crowd and try as you might, you never really get in. It could be because you are pregnant with something special and it cannot be delivered in the company of the “inn” crowd.

Breaking News! Escape Plot Foiled….


It ALMOST happened just this week. One of the world’s most heinous prisoners almost escaped again. If this prisoner is ever let loose or escapes imprisonment he causes irrevocable harm to individuals and societies as a whole. What is the name of the prisoner? Last name- Quit, first name, Just! His power is immeasurable and his lasting effect is unknown, but we must continually, steadfastly and with diligent relentlessness guard this villain in order to achieve our potential and calling.

When we think of “guard” we immediately think to protect from harm, keep watch over: as in to guard a bank or guard the President.  But in this case I am applying the second definition of the word “guard”. That is to prevent escape or violence as in guarding a prisoner, or in other words, to surround, enclose, and to keep watch.

I was thinking on this passage the other day and I thought how true these words are.

Psalm 27:3 – “I had fainted, (I would let “Just Quit” free) unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”

We have all been there and yes sometimes we revisit this place periodically. This place is the mindset of wanting to quit. It’s funny. You see other day “Just Quit” was talking to me from his cell, whispering set me free. I was thinking why am I writing a blog? Are there people really interested in reading my thoughts? Why am I persevering through this change and why am I putting up with this environment? Open your eyes, nothing is happening. Yes I almost abandoned my duty and set “just Quit” free, but I remembered one of my loyal friends named “Just Believe” and thought I may not see it with my natural eye at this moment but I will guard my “quit”.

I grew up in the generation where cowboy shows on American television was big in the 1960s. Sometimes there would be an episode where a man was arrested and put into the jail and the sheriff or deputy would have to guard the prisoner. He would be assigned to make sure he did not escape but on top of that he would have to deal with external influences. Those influences were prisoner’s relatives that would issue threats and ultimatums. They would shout out warnings and demand that their relative be set free from the prison cell. That is the same scenario we go through today. The enemy of our goals speaks to our mind words of discouragement. This is mainly a blog on Christian thoughts but the scenario is not limited to Christian or religious experiences. It is relevant in all scenarios. You see there are many areas we are tempted to “just quit”. There are areas of relationships, personal disciplines, educational and career pursuits, eating and health habits, exercise and we are tempted to throw in the towel and let “Just Quit” out of jail. We get tired of the struggle, we get tired of the amount of time and effort it takes to achieve our goal that seems to move further away despite our pursuit of it. We get discouraged when we see others who have seemingly succeeded and everything for them has turned out right. But yet even more, we should guard against our “just quit”. Possibly, just possibly those who have achieved stayed on their post and guarded their “just quit”.

It is during the roughest, darkest times that we are tempted to abandon our position and to let “just quit” out of jail. We hear the voices of the external influences in the midnight hour demanding a choice of surrender and release. Understand this is not a religious issue. It’s a human issue that we all face. It does not the matter the religion, the denomination, the culture, creed or race. We all continually are tempted to give up and set free, “Just Quit”. No one is exempt. In guarding “just quit” do not submit to the relatives that are trying to get you to let him go free. I had fainted unless I believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. I would have quit, I would do something else, I would try it my own way when being a follower of Jesus Christ seems to be a slow unproductive journey at times had not I believed to see. I would have  “just quit” pursuing my Bachelors degree after starting college at the tender age of 50 had I not believed. I would have pursued unethical business practices had I not believed. I would not chase entrepreneurism had I not believed.

Let me state this, failure is not related in any way to “just quit”. Failure at least shows attempt. When you fail at attempting something it rules out one formula and makes clearer the right formula. Many whom we most admire in the world have failed in their pursuit before grasping success but they did not give up and “just quit”.  No, do not shy from failure, but stay away from “just quit’s” best friend, the FEAR of failure. Their DNA is almost identical.

The Bible says Galatians 6:9 – “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (If we do not fail to guard our “Just Quit”)

So if you’re doing well and your intentions, motives and heart is to do well, guard your “just quit” however if you’re not doing well and in your heart you know it is not your objective to do well, set the prisoner free and “Just Quit” it.

I am in SOOOOO Much Debt!!


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The other day, I retrieved my monthly budget excel folder. I keep a log of all of my financial obligations. I list what I bring in and how much is going out to those I owe and what I am able to save or invest for that proverbial “rainy day”. It helps me to maintain a handle on what must be done, what I should prioritize and focus on. No one desires to be in debt. All of us would like the experience of being “debt” free. While I was looking at my natural budget file, the thought occurred to me, what does your budget folder look like, spiritually? How much debt have you incurred? Who and what do you owe? To owe some one is to be in debt, or even more sinister it means to “be bound to”. Think about it, when you are in debt to someone or something, you are bound and even in part a slave to that which you owe.

Just like I recognize my natural debts, what does my spiritual debts look like? Am I being diligent in this responsibility or am I accruing late charges and interest? In my personal budget folder I categorize my file into two categories, “one time pay offs” (ie. medical bills, furniture, clothing, repair expenses, credit cards, etc.) and “on going and revolving” (ie. food, gas, credit cards, car payments, insurance, mortgage, utilities, rent, etc.). Spiritually what expenses are in my two files? Wait… there not two files, only one. It is “on going and revolving”. All of my debt can be placed under this category. What are some of the expenses found in my spiritual file? Well, I owe you prayer, I owe you a smile, I owe you a shoulder to cry on, I owe you the gifts and calling on my life, the poem inside of me, the song, message, book, play, compassion, listen ear, a safe harbor, encouragement, recognition and validation. These are just a few, BUT they are not just my expenses, they are yours also. You owe the world the same.

The Bible says in Romans 13:8 to “owe no man anything, but to love one another”. So let’s call this one category “Love/ Forgiveness”. Why is forgiveness mentioned in this category? In order to truly love there must be perpetual forgiveness. The need to pay on our personal forgiveness expense is huge. There is a need to forgive the past and even present hurts that we have buried and tried to ignore but not forgiven. The old relationships, friends, parents, ministries, the ex’s, the ones that just walked away without any explanation or goodbye. Oh here is one we do not like to confess that is on our expense docket. We need to forgive…wait for it… GOD! I was talking to my wife on just yesterday and she was telling me about a friend’s 10-year-old son who is very mad at God because for over a year, the boy has been praying to God to heal his father who had a stroke and God has not done it. I told my wife that if I would have conversation with that young man, I would say that it understandable and okay. God is not upset with you for how you feel. In fact, (a confession)… even in my fifties, I have been angry and mad at God and needed to “forgive” Him. Do not look at me funny, be honest…you have felt the same way. There has been many times when God in our own estimation, disappointed us and let us down. Understand it is really not the person or persons you are forgiving, it is the perceived (real or imaginary, intentional or unintentional) offense you are forgiving. Many times an individual have no idea that you are harboring that debt.

In order to “owe love only” we must first realize the definition of “forgiveness”. It means to “abandon, forsaken, to let die, leave destitute and irretrievably broken”. We cannot truly realize Romans 13:8 unless we handcuff love to forgiveness. We cannot obtain the “new” if we are still in debt, bound and enslaved to the old. The latter part of Romans 6:4 reads “…even so we also should walk in newness of life”, so through what the Father did through the sacrifice of His Son we have access to the “new”. Understand not only did Jesus take our sin, the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:21 “For he who had not known sin made himself to become sin in your place”. AWESOME SAUCE! We are no longer bound to the penalty and power of sin. God, the Father “forgave” abandon, forsaken, let die, left destitute and irretrievably broken, the offense, the sin (noun). JESUS! (read 2 Corinthians 5:21 again) Did not Jesus cry from the cross, “Father why have you FORSAKEN me? (just something to think on

We too can pay our debt of love, through our resolve to forgive, freeing ourselves from what has us shackled, enslaved and obligated to the pain, memories and power of past and even present offenses. Paying this debt is a conscious effort, especially in the beginning. Just as in the natural it must be planned and purposed. It just does not happen through mere happenstance. How much better our world would be if every man, woman, boy and girl began to make payment on their debt of love and forgiveness. Would we see so much conflict in our world? Would there have been and continue to be the countless numbers of wars where nations are against nations, tribes against tribes, races against races, brother against brother? Would those who espouse different religious beliefs treat each other so inhumanely understanding God have given all men free will and choice? Would there be the crisis in Syria, Russia, Ukraine, Afghanistan and countless other locations that have not been in the international spotlight? When will we pay on this “Love/Forgiveness” bill? I did write “we” didn’t I? Well anyway… let me pull out my checkbook! I am late with my payment. Not to just Christians or Americans… but to the world! “For God so love the WORLD that He “FOR” gave His only begotten Son…”

A “Selfie” of Jesus


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In the 1990’s there was a very popular phrase centered on a gifted and highly touted basketball player named Michael Jordan and every young basketball player wanted to be like him. He had a signature look and a habit of sticking out his tongue as he drove towards the goal of scoring a basket. He could score seemingly at will. So advertisers, seeing an opportunity, coined a phrase for all who played basketball. The phrase was simple. It said, “If I could “be” like Mike”. Everyone who played the sport wanted to “be” like Mike. That was their aspiration, their ultimate goal, to “be” like Mike. To this day, none have attained that dream.

The other day, examining my own spirit and life as a follower of Christ, I asked myself, why am I not like Jesus? After all that has been my aspiration, my spiritual goal, to “be” like Jesus. Do not all believers want the same? Have we not been told to aspire to “be” like Him? Yet walking down the corridor of my life, I found myself falling short many many times. While in the midst of those prodding thoughts I heard something most powerful. I heard you can’t “be” like me BUT you can allow me to “be” in you. With my lightning quick ability to comprehend the deep incomprehensible, I asked, “what are you talking about Father? (lol) This is what I heard…

First, you must look at your starting point. To want to be like says you are not a part of, so that makes you separate from. So for you to want to “be” like me says you and I are not one, not in unison but we are separate. Does this line up with the Word? I came to dwell in you, my temple, and for you to dwell in Me. I came to have unison. Just as the Father and I are one, we are one.”

During this time I was looking into a full-length mirror and the question came to me, what do you see? I said I see me. The response came back, no you don’t, to which I responded yes I do, to which I heard no… you don’t. What you see is a reflection, an image of you. There is a big difference. Secretly, hoping He would not hear me (hahaha) I thought, now you are just splitting hairs Father. BUT since according to Matthew 10:30 He knows the number of hairs on our head that would give him the adeptness to “split” them. (lol) But as I reflected on that image, that reflection, He continued to speak, and I slowly began to understand why I, Douglas, cannot “be” like Jesus, BUT He can “be” in me.

As I looked in the mirror I saw one head, a torso, two arms, two legs and hands with fingers. I saw my image with all its strengths and weaknesses. Head and body fitly joined in unison, as one entity. Then I heard how and why would the hand or arm or leg desire to “be” like the head? After all who are you? I am the body of Christ, the church according to 1 Corinthians 12. Ephesians 5 says Christ is the head of church, the body. Just as with the natural there is a need for only head. The hand should never aspire to “be” like the head, it will not happen.

You and I are an intricate part of a wondrous and mysterious body called “the church”. However there is a question we have all asked ourselves no matter what our faith or religious belief. That simple question is why am I here? What is my purpose? I think the answer is found just by examining your passions. What sets your heart aflame? Are you the hands of Christ showing compassion reaching out to others applying healing ointment and gentle touches of love? Are you the arms that gather the downtrodden and gently lay them to the breast for comfort and nutriments? Are you the legs that stand as strong pillars of support or means of advancement? Whatever part of the body we are, how do we allow Him to “be” in us? By walking in our call and being directed by His Spirit, which according to Scripture came to lead and guide us. This might not look like what we commonly associate with religious ministry. Someone passion is making quilts and blankets. They are not a preacher or Bible scholar, but how would the reflection of Christ look to the world if that person made little blankets for new born babies in crisis at a children’s hospital that are freely given to parents who are blanketed with fear for their child? How would the image of Christ look to the world where business people who understand the corporate world offer interviewing, resume writing and other training classes to those who otherwise would not know how to enter that world, for free. What about restaurant owners occasionally providing free meals to the homeless in their neighborhood? It is not all about money, it’s about Him. There is a young woman who just this week asked for me to fill out a reference form so that she might go on a foreign missions trip to a third world nation. Since she was a young teenager her desire has been to do missions. She is artistic, beautiful and talented and could be anything she wants to “be”, but the call, the pull to which she is submitting is to let Him “be” in her. Whether your passion is sports, acting, singing, writing, baking, cooking, sewing, entrepreneurism, teaching, preaching, music, nursing or missions, whatever your niche, how can we allow Him to “be” in us? That is His desire. There is a blog I am subscribing to by a young lady who just have recipes of Holistic healthy foods. That is ministry. How many physical live can be improved even saved by her passion?

http://stepheusebi.com

What does a “selfie” of Jesus look like? What is the image, the reflection the world sees? According to 1 John 3:2 only when He shall appear will we “be” like Him. Let’s strive to walk in our gifting. Let’s “be” the church allowing Him to “be” in us.

It’s official. I’m no longer a Christian!


I am giving up my “Christian card”. The term “Christian” is no longer what I want to be known as. Before you turn away hear me out. The word “Christian” is only found 3 times in Scripture, none of which Jesus’ uses. It was initially used as a derogatory term, like the “N” word. It was not a term of endearment. Gradually, through acceptance of it’s meaning “Christ like”, the word “Christian” became a standard for a religious viewpoint. For me, it is not the word, “Christian” that I can know longer align myself to, but it is the definition and the illustration of that word. Have you been paying close attention to our world today? Answer me this, what as an unbeliever would inspire you to become a “Christian” today? What can you point to that is universally the indisputable and unshakeable standard of the word Christian across the board? If the word’s initial definition is “Christ like”, then why does “their” Christ like, and “your” Christ like and “my” Christ like look different from each other’s? Is Christ schizophrenic? Is it denominationally or culturally, or racially or politically based? It appears to be the case based upon its nature of separatism. I am personally so ashamed of how so called conservative “Christian” have either bought into the ploy of politics or are treacherously hypocritical in order to reach a political goal. Their actions of name-calling, lying, denigrating, fighting, etc., is that “Christ like”? What is the draw to a un-believer? The word “Christian” has become a joke to the world because it leaves so much too one’s interpretation of the “word” and the personal manipulation of the one using the “word”. This too is also where the real problem lies. We argue and differentiate between the “interpretations” of the words of Christ instead of what He ACTUALLY did. I heard an “evangelical Christian” politician quote the Old Testament verse” “if you do not work, you do not eat” as a reason for not helping the poor and unemployment increase etc. Hhhmmm! I seem to recall Jesus saying in Matthew 25:33 – 40, “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me…. Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. How can one misinterpret or remotely over look that as a “Christian”? John 13:34-35 says “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples (not Christians), if ye have love one to another.”

Let me say this, I want to be identified only as a “disciple” and follower of Jesus Christ. He never once said become a Christian, but over 90 times He says, “follow me”. The word “follow” in the Greek does not just mean “trail” as we know it in the English language. It also means to be a particle of union or to be an attached piece to the whole. It means to copulative, bonded, yoked as one. His footsteps are my footsteps. His actions are my actions. His words are my words. His showing of love is my showing of love. If we mirrored Him completely and became His reflection in the earth would there be so many different “Christian” images? You might have your own interpretation on what He said and what He meant but you cannot question what He did. No I am no longer a Christian. I want to be a follower of Christ. I want to be one of His disciples. I also learn I cannot “be” like him, but He can “be” in me, but that is next week’s thought. So from this day forward… let me be a “follower of Christ”.