Friday, December 28, 2007

The Politics of Wealth: Dt 8:18

"But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day." (Deuteronomy 8:18)
In my country, we live in a politically charged environment where the differences between the various socioeconomic groups of our population are exploited for political ends. It is not uncommon to hear talk about the "two Americas, the haves and the have nots." There is also much debate over the tax brackets with some politicians complaining about "tax breaks for the rich" and wanting to increase the taxes on the wealthy in this country. I suppose it is to be expected that issues involving money would be easy fodder for politicizations, but what does the Bible have to say about wealth? And how should civil government apply biblical truths about wealth and apply them to policy decisions? This scripture teaches us several things about wealth.
  1. Wealth is the provision of God. In a now famous speech, Congressmen Richard Gephardt referred to those who were wealthy and high achievers as "winners in life's lottery", yet this scripture clearly teaches that wealth does not happen by chance. There is no "life's lottery" where some just happen to win and gain wealth while others continually "purchase" tickets and never win anything. It is God who gives people the ability to make wealth, not chance or fate.
  2. Wealth is not evil. While not everyone who becomes wealthy does so by ethical means, and not every wealthy person uses their wealth for noble causes, this does not mean that wealth is evil. Wealth is the provision of God and therefore not intrinsically evil. It is not wrong to be wealthy just as it is not wrong to be poor.
  3. Wealth is not automatic. This scripture teaches us that God gives us the ability to gain wealth and not wealth itself. Just because someone has the ability to gain wealth does not mean that they will become wealthy. It takes personal effort, diligence, and perseverance to put those abilities to work to produce wealth. Sometimes, poverty is not the result of lack of ability but lack of effort.
  4. Wealth is not equal. It is a reasonable interpretation of this scripture that God does not necessarily give the same ability to gain wealth to all people, nor is it reasonable to believe that all people will use the abilities given to them by God with the same effort and effectiveness. We should not expect or seek a social system where everyone is equal in terms of wealth and riches. God proportions to us our abilities, talents, and giftings as He choses, therefore we should not expect everyone to be equal or for life to be equatable.
  5. Wealth is created. Wealth involves investing raw ability and talent into enterprises that can produce wealth. The process of creating wealth should involve the production and delivery of products and services that are valued by others. Contrast this with gambling. In gambling wealth is exchanged, depending on luck, instinct, and sometimes trickery, rather than being created.
So what should be a government's position and policy on wealth and the wealthy? Here are some of my thoughts based on this scripture.
  • It is not the government's job to guarantee wealth. Wealth is the provision of God not the government. The government should never establish themselves as the providers of the people. In a recent presidential debate, someone asked the presidential candidates what they would do to help them to "find a job?" The candidates should have responded by saying, "Nothing!" Wealth is our responsibility, to use what God has given us, not the governments.
  • Government should not attempt to equalize wealth. God does not guarantee that wealth will or should be equal, and neither should the government. Unfortunately, in my country, the income tax system had become largely a system for the redistribution of wealth. The rich are taxed and their wealth given to others in the form of various social programs. It is not the government's job to make equal what God has not.
  • Government should not attempt to neutralize personal responsibility in creating wealth. Programs like welfare and the minimum wage serve only to reward people with "wealth" with out regard to personal effort. Welfare provides income without, in many cases, requiring the recipient to work, or even seek work. The minimum wage provides a minimum level of income without regard to a person's work ethic, their productivity, or their value to their employer. In these cases, a person's income level is decided by the government and not by their God given abilities and the effectiveness to which they use them.
  • Government should not foster the gaining of wealth through gambling. As I stated above, gambling is a means to gain wealth that does not provide for the actual creation or production of wealth. Whether gambling should be allowed in the private sector is debatable, but I firmly believe that it is wrong, immoral, and improper for governments to sponsor and promote gambling. It may provide revenues to the government, but it promotes an activity that I believe is contrary to the scriptures.

David Robison

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Forgetting God: Dt 8:10-14

"When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you. Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery." (Deuteronomy 8:10-14)
With all that the Israelites saw and experienced, all the miracles and provisions from the Lord, Moses felt it necessary to warn them not to forget God. How is it that, with all they had been through, they could forget God? Most of us who are believers cannot fathom forgetting God, yet many do. What Moses reminds the people is that, forgetting God is not about divorcing God from our thoughts but rather straying from His ways. Moses warned them not to forget God by "not keeping His commandments." When we depart from God's ways, we are in essence, forgetting God.

Jesus taught this same idea when He asked the people, "Why do you call Me, 'Lord , Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46) Jesus clearly linked knowing God with obeying God. If we confess we know God but fail to obey Him then we are, at best, deceived. Jeremiah also taught the same when He prophesied, "'Did not your father eat and drink and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; then it was well. Is not that what it means to know Me?' Declares the Lord." (Jeremiah 22:15-16) When the children of Israel walked in God's ways, it went well with them and they were blessed. When they knew God it was expressed though their lives as they walked in His ways.

Today, let us not forget God by pursuing our own ways; seeking after our own interests and living by our own rules and morals. Let us purpose in our heart to live a life that is consistent with the one we know. Let us determine to be Christ-like, to live a life patterned after Him. In so doing, we will ensure that God is remembered in our hearts, soul, mind, and body. Let us today, remember Him.

David Robison

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Rushing towards the Promise: Dt 8:15-17

"He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint. In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. Otherwise, you may say in your heart, 'My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.'" (Deuteronomy 8:15-17)
Why does it seem to take so long to go from promise to fulfillment? The Bible is replete with stories of God making promises, only to wait years to bring them to fulfillment. Consider just three quick examples,
  1. God promises Abraham a son, but waits almost twenty five years to bring it to pass.
  2. God speaks to Joseph about the day that his brothers would bow down to him, yet the next dozen or so years were spent in slavery and imprisonment before he saw his brothers again.
  3. God reveals to Moses that he was to be the deliver of God's people, but he then spent forty years in the wilderness, in obscurity, before he faces the "burning bush".
In the above scripture from Deuteronomy, it had been forty years since the children of Israel left Egypt and they have yet to step foot into the Promised Land.

So why does God so often delay between promise and fulfillment? I believe, in part, that it is so that we will always remember who it was who promised and who it was who brought the promise to pass. We have seen it over and over, people who rise quickly to the top, only to be shipwrecked by their success. Sports and entertainment provide an abundance of examples of young people who quickly gain the spotlight; many receiving multi-million dollar contracts. However, for some, their success is also their undoing. They loose sight of where they came from and who they used to be. Even worse, they forget who it was that gave them the abilities and talents for which they are praised. Far too often, those who rise to the top without having to suffer the struggles along the way, fall prey to the same deception that Moses was warning the Israelites about, "My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth."

In my own life, I can now look back and see how the years past have prepared be for my present blessings. I don't know if I could properly have handled my many blessings if not for the challenges, tests, and lessons that have lead me to this place. This scripture should encourage us all to embrace and give thanks for the times of our testing and trials; for the times of obscurity. For I believe that the more time God spends on us in preparation, the greater His plan for our lives must be.

David Robison

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Why the wilderness: Dt 8:1-6

"You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. Thus you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him." (Deuteronomy 8:2-6)
For forty years, the children of Israel lived and wandered in the wilderness, yet these were not wasted years but rather years full of the purpose and promise of God. Their time in the wilderness was not merely a time of punishment for their lack of faith, but is was a time when God was preparing them for the promised land. It was a time of both trials and blessings. Certainly it was a time when God tested them and humbled them and even exposed them to hunger and thirst, but it was also a time when God supernaturally provided for them; their clothes did not wear out and He provided food and drink for them even in the middle of the desert. In the end, there were two key revelations that God was trying to teach His people.

Who am I: God humbled them "to know what was in your heart" and to know weather or not they had a heart to obey God. Is wasn't that God didn't know what was in their heart, but He wanted His people to know what was in their heart. Our wilderness experiences with God are meant to show us who we really are; who we are in the depths of our heart. When times are easy, it is easy to have faith and to follow God, but when hard times come, we are tested and we learn the true quality of both our faith and our obedience to God. Difficult times show us places in our lives where we must grow and where we must learn to trust and lean on God. Wilderness times help us avoid self deception and helps us to remain humble and to acknowledge our need and dependency on God.

Who is God: God desired that His people come to understand that their trials and blessings proceeded from the hand of a loving God. God was not treating them as a mere master or lord, but as a father. If God did not care for us He would either simply leave us alone of summarily destroy us, and in both He would be justified. But God was demonstrating Himself to His people as one who loved them; as a father loves his children. God's discipline and testing in our lives is evident that we are His children and that we are loved by Him. "But if you are without discipline , of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons." (Hebrews 12:8) Whether times of trial or times of blessing, we must learn to received them both as coming from the hand of our loving heavenly Father.

David Robison

Thursday, November 15, 2007

New Survey

Here is the results from my previous survey:

How would you best describe yourself?

I am a Christian: 27 (79%)
I am some other religion: 3 (8%)
I am not a believer: 1 (2%)
I am not sure what I am: 3 (8%)

Be sure to check out the new survey question. Enjoy!
David Robison

Overcoming Sin: Dt 7:12-26

"If you should say in your heart, 'These nations are greater than I; how can I dispossess them?'" (Deuteronomy 7:17)
Sometimes, when faced with my sins, the task of overcoming them seems too daunting to even attempt. My sins seem too large and my will power and moral strength too small. I want to overcome my sin, but I'm not sure if I can. I easily identify with want Jesus said, "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak ." (Mark 14:38) Fortunately, God has not left us to ourselves in our fight against sin. Not only has God given us the power of His Holy Spirit, but He has also given us a plan to overcome sin. Here, in part, is God's plan for us.
"you shall not be afraid of them; you shall well remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt: the great trials which your eyes saw and the signs and the wonders and the mighty hand and the outstretched arm by which the Lord your God brought you out. So shall the Lord your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid." (Deuteronomy 7:18-19)
When facing sin, we must first learn not to be afraid of sin or its hold on our life. We must remember that we have been saved, that we are no longer orphans, and that we are now children of God. We must remember what Paul said, "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32) God did not save us to leave us to our own devices. Salvation was merely a first step; our reconciliation with God. Now that we have been saved, God has freely given is all things "pertaining to life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3) and is now at work in our lives giving us the motivation and strength to overcome sin. Paul reminds us, "But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us." (Romans 8:37) The truth is that we are overcomers, we are able to overcome sin, and we have all we need to be victorious, not in our selves but because of the one who now lives is us. "Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27)
"Moreover, the Lord your God will send the hornet against them, until those who are left and hide themselves from you perish. You shall not dread them, for the Lord your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God." (Deuteronomy 7:20-21)
At times, I find myself willing to live "at peace" with my sin. As long as I can hide it and as long as it stays in the shadows and doesn't bother me too much, I am willing to let "sleeping sins" lie. However, God is not content with my hidden sin. Even when I am not committed to the eradication of my sins, God is, and it is for this very purpose that He as called me and made me His son. "But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth." (2 Thessalonian 2:13) God is committed to our sanctification, even more so than we are. One of God's strategies in our sanctification is to employ His "hornets". God has a way of bring our hidden sins to the surface, of flushing them out of their hiding places so we can deal with them and be free of them. I had a friend who, every time we went out to eat, his order was always messed up, and every time he got very upset. After a while I suggested to him that maybe it wasn't the waiters and waitresses, but maybe it was the Lord. Maybe it was the Lord sending His hornets to get at an area of his life. God is faithful to bring our sins to the surface and, when He sends in His hornets, we must be faithful to deal with what He brings to the surface.
"The Lord your God will clear away these nations before you little by little; you will not be able to put an end to them quickly, for the wild beasts would grow too numerous for you. But the Lord your God will deliver them before you, and will throw them into great confusion until they are destroyed." (Deuteronomy 7:22-23)
Our perfection and our sanctification does not happen overnight, nor is it imparted to us immediately and completely upon our being born again, rather it is a process that starts with our salvation and continues until we finally stand before the Lord; completed in His presence. Paul reminds us that, "He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6) If God were to show us the sum total of our sin, we would be overwhelmed. This is why Jesus told His disciples, "I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now." (John 16:12) God does not expect us to become perfect all at once but rather little-by-little, one sin at a time. This is the great difference between the enemy's condemnation and God's conviction. The enemy wants to show us all our faults and convince us that we are hopeless causes, while Jesus shows us a specific sin, asks us to repent, and then gives us the power to overcome the sin. As we deal with each sin in its turn, we enter into a process of sanctification that takes us "from glory to glory" (2 Corinthians 3:18) and from righteousness to righteousness.
"He will deliver their kings into your hand so that you will make their name perish from under heaven; no man will be able to stand before you until you have destroyed them. The graven images of their gods you are to burn with fire; you shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, or you will be snared by it, for it is an abomination to the Lord your God. You shall not bring an abomination into your house, and like it come under the ban; you shall utterly detest it and you shall utterly abhor it, for it is something banned." (Deuteronomy 7:24-8:1)
Sin must be dealt with. It is not enough to learn to "cope" or "coexist" with our sin, we must defeat it and overcome it. The world does not understand such a radical commitment against sin. Peter, speaking of those who knew us before we gave our hearts to Jesus, says "In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you." (1 Peter 4:4) But even if the world should malign us, the price of sin is too great, and its ruin and destruction can last a life time, and even an eternity. Jesus spoke of how we should be radically committed to purging sin in our lives. "If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell." (Matthew 18:8-9) We were made for glory, we were made for the presence of God, but sin separates us from our eternal purpose in God. As we commit our selves to God's process of sanctification, we open ourselves up to our true calling and purpose in God and, as Paul reminds us, "we derive our benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life." (Romans 6:22)

David Robison

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Make no Covenant with Sin: Dt 7:1-11

"When the Lord your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you, and when the Lord your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them. Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you. But thus you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire. For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth." (Deuteronomy 7:1-6)
While there is grace when we sin, there is not grace for sin. God has extended His grace to us to forgive us when we sin against Him, but He does not want is to remain in our sin. The grace of God has not appeared to excuse us of our sins but rather to teach us how to walk free from our sins. "For the grace of God has appeared , bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age." (Titus 2:11-12)

God warned Israel that they were not to make covenants with the enemies of God; those who sought to inhabit the land that God was giving to them. Instead, they were to embark on a systematic campaign to eradicate the enemies of God from the land and to destroy the remembrance of them and their sinful ways from the face of the earth. In order to live holy in the Promised Land, they could not afford to live with mixture; part holy and part sinful.

The same is true for us with regards to our sin. We cannot afford to tolerate or excuse our sin. Our sin is not to be coddled or indulged rather it is to be overcome and defeated. There is no truce or detente with sin, there is only victory or defeat. We cannot wink at our sin, we must be serious about removing it from our lives. In Romans 8:13 Paul tells us to "put to death the deeds of the flesh." This is the attitude we must have. At times it may even mean destroying our idols; the places and ways we make room for sin in our lives.

Sin is not our friend, it is not a welcomed companion, rather it is the source of many of our hurts and broken relationships. Only by confessing our sin can we receive forgiveness for our sin, and only by the power of the Holy Spirit can we walk free from our sin. Let us choose to walk free.
"But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts." (Romans 13:14)
David Robison

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Doomed from the Start: Dt 6 (Part 2)

The second reason I believe that the Old Covenant was doomed from the start is because it depended upon the people of Israel remembering someone with whom they had no relationship.
"Then it shall come about when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied, then watch yourself, that you do not forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery." (Deuteronomy 6:10-12)
It was inevitable that they would grow distant and drift away from God. While in the wilderness they daily saw God's presence: a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. They also daily experienced God's miraculous provision for their lives: fresh manna each morning and their clothes never wearing out. However, as they entered the Promised Land, things would change in two very specific ways. First, as they took possession of the land, they were dispersed far from the presence of God. Except for those who lived near where God chose to place His presence, they no longer saw or experienced His presence on a daily basis. Yes, they were to appear before God at the regular feasts, but on a day-by-day basis, they did not "know" God in any intimate way. Secondly, as the generations passed, many of the new generation had no first hand knowledge of the miracles and power of God. They had never seen the miracle of the manna, they had never seen any miraculous healings, nor had they seen the power of God expressed though His judgments. They heard stories but they lacked their own first hand account of these events. In the end, without a personal relationship with God, they drifted farther and farther, and eventually "forgot" God.

Thirdly, as the years passed, their faith with God became more cultural than experiential.
"When your son asks you in time to come, saying, 'What do the testimonies and the statutes and the judgments mean which the Lord our God commanded you?' then you shall say to your son, 'We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord brought us from Egypt with a mighty hand. Moreover, the Lord showed great and distressing signs and wonders before our eyes against Egypt, Pharaoh and all his household; He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He had sworn to our fathers. So the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today.'" (Deuteronomy 6:20-24)
While the Israelites were very good at passing down their national history, they failed to instill their faith in God from generation to generation. They had a cultural awareness of God and His work in the forming of their nation, but they lacked the present day faith and vital relationship with God that He seeks with all His people. Knowledge and history of God is not enough, we need faith and a relationship with God. Without such a relationship, any covenant with God is doomed to failure, even from the start.

David Robison

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Doomed from the Start: Dt 6 (Part 1)

"Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the Lord , the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey... So the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today. It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the Lord our God, just as He commanded us." (Deuteronomy 6:1-3, 24-25)
Throughout the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses lays out the conditions of the covenant between God and the Nation of Israel. A covenant which, if they would be faithful to observe, would grant them long life and prosperity in the new land into which they were about to enter. This was a covenant not based upon their relationship with God but rather upon their faithful and strict observance of the laws and ordinances established by the covenant. As excited as they must have been, standing ready to possess the Promised Land, it was a covenant doomed from the start.

It was not that there was anything wrong with the covenant or its laws, for Paul reminds us, "So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good." (Romans 7:12) Rather it was the inability of the law to produce righteousness within them that was the problem. "Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life , then righteousness would indeed have been based on law." (Galatians 3:21) Though the people didn't know it, they were entering into a covenant that they were completely unable to keep.

I believe that there are at least three reasons why the Mosaic covenant failed.

"These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart." (Deuteronomy 6:6) External pressures and reminders to observe the law will never server to create in us a heart to observe the law. Moses counseled the Nation of Israel never to forget the requirements of the law. "You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:7-9) But for all their external reminders, symbols, and exhortations, their hearts were rebellious and they consistently failed to keep God's law. For example, it is not enough to have the Ten Commandments prominently displayed in your house, unless they are written on your hearts, we will most certainly fail in our attempts to keep them.

We need to let God write His laws on our hearts. "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be My people." (Hebrews 8:10) When God wrote the Ten Commandments, it was said, "He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God." (Exodus 31:18) In the same way, as we grow in our relationship with God, He will write, with His own finger, His laws on our minds and our hearts. Without a relationship, they are just external laws, laws we are unable to keep, but with a relationship with God, then His laws become a part of us and His Spirit empowers us to keep them and to live Godly lives.

More to come... David Robison

Saturday, October 06, 2007

His acts and His ways: Dt 5:23-27

"And when you heard the voice from the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes and your elders. You said, 'Behold, the Lord our God has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice from the midst of the fire; we have seen today that God speaks with man, yet he lives. Now then why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any longer, then we will die. For who is there of all flesh who has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? Go near and hear all that the Lord our God says; then speak to us all that the Lord our God speaks to you, and we will hear and do it.'" (Deuteronomy 5:23-27)
I was struck by the difference between the people's and Moses' response to the presence of the Lord. Moses responded by going up into the presence of the Lord to receive His word while the people responded with fear. Moses was drawn closer to the Lord while the people drew back. Why does the presence of the Lord cause some to draw near and others to shrink back? I think the key difference was that the people of Israel knew about God, but Moses knew God. Consider the observation that David made:
"He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel." (Psalms 103:7)
The son's of Israel saw God's acts, deeds, and miracles. Moses, however, knew God's ways, character, and nature. The people knew what God did, but Moses knew God. Moses had a relationship with God. Moses knew His nature and His character and was not afraid of His presence. The people, however, only knew of what God did, they didn't have a relationship with God. Because of this, when God came, they're response was fear.

It is important that we do not become content with the substance of God's gifts, blessings, and miracles and fail to acquire a relationship with the giver of those gifts, blessings, and miracles. As exciting as our experiences in God may be, they should never become a substitute for a relationship with God. God describes the difference between His relationship with Moses and that of even the other prophets of his day.
"Hear now My words: if there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. Not so, with My servant Moses, he is faithful in all My household; with him I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings, and he beholds the form of the Lord." (Numbers 12:6-8)
There are many people today who are seeking for an experience, a dream, a vision, or a manifestation, yet, as important as those may be, they can never compare to a "face to face" relationship with God. Visions are one thing, but an open, "mouth to mouth" relationship with God is another. Visions and experiences will one day cease, but our relationship with the Lord is eternal. Let us receive with gladness the experiences we have in the Lord, but let be willing to go beyond experience to have a whole hearted relationship with Him.

David Robison

Monday, October 01, 2007

Reason and Revelation: Conclusion

A little over three months ago I started this adventure in examining the relationship between reason and revelation. One of the primary motives for writing these nineteen articles was to attempt to change the discourse when discussing which mode of learning was preferable: Reason or Revelation. I wanted to show that it is not one or the other, either your given to reason or your given to revelation, rather that both are needed and necessary. Revelation is necessary because it is how we obtain new knowledge, but reason is also necessary because it is how we assimilated that revelation into our everyday lives. Without reason, revelation would come and go but we would never be changed, and with out revelation, we could reason all we want within ourselves, but we would never come to know the sublime and the hidden truths that are all around us.

When we run into problems, it is usually not because we have drifted too far to one side or the other, towards reason or towards revelation, but rather it is most often caused by a problem that is deeper and more systemic in our lives. Our problem is usually not that we have too much reason or too much revelation, but our problem is most often a problem of the heart. The primary factors that affects our learning and our growth in knowledge and understanding is the condition of our heart and the depth of our relationship with God. If we focus our attention on these two areas, then most of the rest of our lives will automatically fall into place.

Each one of us learns and processes information differently, but what we all have in common is our need for relationship with God and our need to be cleansed by Him in our hearts. I hope these post have been helpful. I would greatly enjoy hearing what you think. Drop me a line or leave a comment.

David Robison

Friday, September 28, 2007

Reason and Revelation: Reason (Part 4)

Reasoning in our Hearts

While we all at times reason with others, and may even reason with God, our primary mode of reasoning is in our hearts. Some have relegated the realm of the mind, intellect, and reason to the soul, but Jesus makes it abundantly clear that when we reason, we reason in our hearts. Consider the following scriptures.
"But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 'Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?' Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, 'Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts?'" (Mark 2:6-8)

"But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side..." (Luke 9:47)
Reasoning is not a soulish activity but rather a process that takes place within our hearts.

The problem with our reasoning is not the process itself, but rather that it is limited and affected by the condition of our heart. If our heart is clean and pure, then so will be our reasoning, but if our heart is polluted by sin, then too will be our reasoning. "To the pure , all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled." (Titus 1:15) Here are some examples from the scriptures of how the condition of our heart can affect the quality of our reasoning.

"Their inner thought is that their houses are forever and their dwelling places to all generations; they have called their lands after their own names." (Psalms 49:11) When our hearts are full of pride we loose sight of the brevity of life. We will not live forever nor will our works. Pride causes us to misjudge the things that are of first value and can lead us to pursue things that temporal and passing away.

"Abraham said, 'Because I thought, surely there is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.'" (Genesis 20:11) Abraham judged king Abimelech and the people of Gerar, not based upon facts or observations, but rather based on presumption and prejudices. Presumption blinds us to the truth and distorts our vision of reality.

"These things you have done and I kept silence; you thought that I was just like you; I will reprove you and state the case in order before your eyes." (Psalms 50:21) Just because we believe something does not make it true. Believing as true that which is really a lie is called deception. Regardless of the source of the deception, it will keep us from obtaining the truth as long as we insist in holding on to it.

"Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, 'The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good.' For he thought, 'For there will be peace and truth in my days.'" (Isaiah 39:8) God had just declared judgment against Israel, ye Hezekiah received it as a "good" word. He failed to grasp the gravity of the word of God because his heart was selfish and he thought only of himself.

"And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, 'Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?'" (Matt hew9:4) When we harbor evil motives in our heart we are no longer able to judge between good and evil; evil becomes good and good becomes evil. When we reason with evil motives, we always arrive at the wrong conclusions.

"The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless." (1 Corinthians 3:20) When, in our hearts we reject the knowledge of God, then our reasoning becomes futile. It is only when we open ourselves up to, and submit to, the wisdom of God can we reason effectively and grow in our knowledge, understanding, and insight.

"When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things." (1 Corinthians 13:11) It is the Father's will that we would grow in our knowledge and understanding and in our ability to reason well. While we are born again as a babe in Christ, we are not to stay a babe, but we are to grow up in the knowledge and love of God. At times this will mean putting away some of our childish reasonings that we might learn to reason as an adult.

"For she thought, 'If I just touch His garments, I will get well." (Mark 5:28) While the scriptures are replete with examples of how the condition of our heart can negatively impact our ability to reason well, here is an example of how a heart of faith can lead us to healing and freedom. When faced with the hopelessness of her situation, this lady reasoned with faith and, in reasoning with faith, she was not disappointed.

David Robison

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Reason and Revelation: Reason (Part 3)

Reasoning with God

While we my often delight in reasoning with other people, God Himself invites us to reason with Him.
"'Come now, and let us reason together,' says the Lord, 'Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.'" (Isaiah 1:18)
In our pursuit of knowledge and understanding, God has not left us alone to our own devices, rather He has invited us into His presence that we may gain from His understanding, wisdom, and knowledge. When faced with the profundities, quandaries, and conundrums of life, God has offers to share His answers with us.

Much of understanding is perspective. When life ceases to make sense, it is most often because we have lost a proper perspective on life. When we open ourselves up to God's perspective then things that seemed hard to understand all of a sudden become more obvious and easier to grasp. Things that are murky become clear and things that are hidden become revealed.

In one of the Psalms of Asaph, the psalmist reflects on a time when he was unable to understand what was happening around him. In his own understanding he tried to understand it, but could not. He recalls, "When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight until I came into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end." (Psalm 73:16-17) While he tried in his own understanding to make sense of life, it only deepened the trouble in his soul, but when he came into God's presence, his perspective changed and he began to understand what was going on around him.

One of the greatest mistakes we make in our search of knowledge and understanding is to forsake the source of all knowledge and understanding. We are quick to run to others and seek their advice, counsel, and reason, but we are slow in coming to the Lord. We want understanding, but we fail to come to the one who can give us understanding. In our reasoning, we must never forget to reason with God.

More to come... David Robison

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Reason and Revelation: Reason (Part 2)

Reasoning with Others
"Jesus said to them, 'I will also ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John was from what source, from heaven or from men?' And they began reasoning among themselves, saying, 'If we say, "From heaven," He will say to us, "Then why did you not believe him?" But if we say, "From men," we fear the people; for they all regard John as a prophet.' And answering Jesus, they said, 'We do not know.'" (Matthew 21:24-27)
There were many things wrong with the reasoning process used by the chief priests and the elders of the people, least of which was that they "reasoned among themselves". One of the ways we reason is in the company of other people. Reasoning with others is not always a bad idea. When Paul had a dream at night, he submitted the revelation to those who were traveling with him.
"A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us.' When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them." (Acts 16:9-10)
After hearing and considering the revelation, the entire party "concluded" that it was a word from the Lord and that He was calling them into Macedonia to preach the Gospel. Reasoning with others can be a good idea, the problem comes in our selection of, and the quality of, those we chose to reason with.

Rehoboam has succeeded his father Solomon as king of Israel. The people came to him and requested of him that he lighten the load and burden that his father had placed upon him. Rehoboam first turned to the elders that had served his father. Their counsel was, "If you will be kind to this people and please them and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever." (2 Chronicles 10:7) However, Rehomoam rejected the counsel of the elders and turned instead to the counsel of the young men who had grown up with him and served him. Their counsel was, "Thus you shall say to the people who spoke to you, saying, 'Your father made our yoke heavy, but you make it lighter for us.' Thus you shall say to them, 'My little finger is thicker than my father's loins! Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.'" (2 Chronicles 10:10-11) Rehoboam listened to the counsel of the young men and, as a result, the people revolted and the nation of Israel was divided.

Rehoboam's problem was that he limited the spear of people he reasoned with to those who were like him and who agreed with him. He specifically chose people who would give him the counsel he desired and who would not challenge his assumptions, conclusions, or will. We often do this in the church as well. We set up small groups around common beliefs, activities, or ministries. For example, all the prophetic people get together in one group while the teachers are in another. We separate out the young and the elderly into their own groups. We have separate groups for young parents and empty nesters. We have two Sunday services, one traditional and one charismatic, so that people can be comfortable in their own group.

When we limit our reasoning to be with others who reason like us, we can miss much of what God wants to show us. It can be likened to two groups who are studying an elephant. One group positioned in the rear and one in front of the elephant. As long as the members of each group only consider the reasoning of others in their group, they will only ever have one view of an elephant. However, if the two groups share revelation and reason between them, they will all have a more complete understanding of elephants. Elephants are multifaceted, and so is God.
"So that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places." (Epheasians 3:10)
No one, by themselves, is able to fully comprehend the manifold, or multifaceted, wisdom and grace of God. However, if we are willing to listen to and consider the revelation and reasoning of others, even those who are different from us or who might disagree with us, we will be embracing a process that can lead us to a fuller understanding of God, His Kingdom, and His creation.

David Robison

Monday, September 10, 2007

Reason and Revelation: Reason (Part 1)

Reasoning is when we take what we already know, combine it with revelation, and arrive at some new knowledge, understanding, and insight. Revelation alone is insufficient to bring us to new understanding and knowledge. Consider what Jesus said in the parable of the sower and the seed.
"When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road." (Matthew 13:19)
Jesus speaks of the one who hears the word (revelation) but fails to understand it (reason). The Greek word for "understand" means to "put together" or to "mentally comprehend". It is not enough to merely receive revelation, God wants us to "put it together"; to combine it with what we already know that we might grow in knowledge and understanding. James referred to this as "in grafting" or "implanting" the word (James 1:21). This process of bringing together both the rational and the revelatory is the heart of reason and is the process by which we grow in knowledge and understanding.

Reasoning is a process, and it is a process that is executed with various levels of success by different people. Often, the reason we arrive at wrong conclusions is not because our base knowledge or received revelation was faulty, but rather because our reasoning was flawed. Learning, understanding, and insight are limited by the quality of our reasonings.

Over the next few posts, I want to look at some of the various ways we reason and what counsel the scriptures give us as to how we reason.

More to come... David Robison

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Reason and Revelation: Revelation (Part 5)

The Father
"At that very time He [Jesus] rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, 'I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.'" (Luke 10:21)
There is knowledge and information that God has hidden from the minds of men. By His own design, He has chosen to hide knowledge from those who would seek after it by their own reasoning and understanding, and He has chosen to reveal it to whomever He pleases. "All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him." (Matthew 11:27) There is knowledge that is beyond our intellect, wisdom, and imagination. This knowledge can only be obtained through revelation.

One of our greatest sources of revelation is the Father. The Father wants to reveal Himself to us and is waiting for willing vessels in which to pour His revelation into. Here are three things that the scriptures teach us about revelation from God.

First, God wants us to live a life of revelation. In praying for the church at Ephesus, Paul prayed, "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe." (Ephesians 1:17-19) Paul prayed that, not only would they receive revelation, but that they would have a "spirit of revelation". Revelation was suppose to be a lifestyle, a regular part of their life; part of what defined them in their spirit. Revelation was not meant for a select few, but was to be a common aspect of a normal Christian life.

Second, a revelation of the Jesus is to be the foundation of our life in Christ. Consider the revelation that Peter received. "He [Jesus] said to them, 'But who do you say that I am ?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' And Jesus said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.'" (Matthew 16:15-18) I believe that the "rock" that Jesus was referring to, upon which He was going to build His church, was the revelation that Peter had as to who Jesus was. It was to be upon this revelation that Jesus would build His church. Revelation is foundational and it should form the foundation of our relationship with God. It is one thing to have knowledge of God, but it is another to have revelation of God.

Third, the agent of revelation is the Holy Spirit. Paul reminds us that there are those, "Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him."(1 Corinthians 2:9) Yet he also goes on to encourage us that, "to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God." (1 Corinthians 2:10) The things that are hidden are revealed to us through the agency of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told us, "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you." (John 16:13-15) The Father has revealed Himself to the Son, and the Son reveals the Father and Himself to us through the Spirit. The key to receiving revelation from God is in having a relationship with the Spirit. Apart from the Spirit, we cannot know God. We must draw near to Him and listen and receive His revelation.

David Robison

Monday, August 27, 2007

Reason and Revelation: Revelation (Part 4)

"But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons." (1 Timothy 4:1)
One of our primary sources of revelation is the spirit realm. However, not everything that comes to us from the spirit realm is from God. Paul specifically warns Timothy that, especially in the last days, people will be listening to and following the teachings and doctrines of demons. We must be discerning when receiving spiritual revelation as to what spirit, or kind of spirit, the revelation is from. The bible speaks of unclean spirits and of the Holy Spirit. This is why John charges us, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1) When it comes to spiritual revelation, we should be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves." (Matthew 10:16 NKJV)

One of the ways we can open ourselves up to the influences and impressions of demons is through drug use. The Greek work for sorcery is "pharmakeia" from which we get our English word "pharmacy". Many religions around the world use drugs to archive an altered state of mind through which they hope to gain enlightenment. However, in reality, the "enlightenment" they are receiving is merely the communications of demons. This is what makes the drug culture so destructive. It not only destroys the body, but it also open our spirits up to the pollution of demons. The impact of drugs go far beyond the impact to our mind and body, they can lead to the destruction of our spirit.

In seeking revelation, especially spiritual revelation, we must be certain of from whom we are receiving revelation. Muses, spirit guides, inner voices, personal "angles", are all substitute names for demons. Our only protection is to ensure that, in our seeking, that we are seeking the Lord Jesus Christ. Only when our search is centered in God, will we be sure of the source of our revelation.

More to come... David Robison

Sunday, August 26, 2007

My first poll

I've added my first poll to my blog. Check it out on the right hand side and cast your vote!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Reason and Revelation: Revelation (Part 3)

Teachers and Preachers
"The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law." (Deuteronomy 29:29)
Revelation is cumulative. What I mean by this is that the revelation gained by one generation can be passed on to the next, who, along with the revelation they gain themselves, then pass it on to the generation that follows them. When God wants to reveal something to mankind, He doesn't need to reveal it to everyone, He can simply reveal it to a few who then pass it on to others. In this sense, revelation can be taught and imparted. After Jesus' resurrection from the dead, He appeared to His disciples and gave them revelation concerning the scriptures. "Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures." (Luke 24:45) They then, in turn, took that revelation and passed it on to others. This is why John said,
"What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life -- and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us -- what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete." (1 John 1:1-4)
John had received revelation about Jesus that he wanted to pass on to others so that, though their shared revelation, they all may have fellowship with one another. Paul also understood this principal when he told Timothy, "The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." (2 Timothy 2:2) God also intended parents to be one of the primary teachers of revelation. This is why He told His children, "Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when the Lord said to me, 'Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words so they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.'" (Deuteronomy 4:10)

In our search for revelation, we must not neglect the revelation that God has given to others. We must be as willing to receive from teachers, preachers, and other Christians as we are to receive directly from the Lord.

More to come... David Robison

Monday, August 20, 2007

Reason and Revelation: Revelation (Part 2)

There are many sources of revelation. Here are but a few.

The Creation
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes , His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." (Romans 1:18-20)
One of the sources of revelation is the world around us. We can receive revelation through our study, observation, and experience of God's creation. Many great advances and discoveries have been the result of observing and experiencing nature. This picture shows Sir Isaac Newton "discovering" gravity by watching an apple fall from a tree. While I don't know if it is true that the apple actually hit him on the head, the story persists that it was by watching apples fall that Newton pondered and formed his ideas on gravity. The experience of the falling apple was like a spark that ignited his curiosity and his existing knowledge and lead him to profound understanding of gravity.

The revelation we can gain from the world around us is not limited to knowledge of this present creation. It is also possible to gain knowledge of God through our study of his handiwork. God Himself has left clues to His existence and His nature in all that he has made. When we look and experience His creation, it is as if His very voice is speaking to us, giving us revelation of who He is.
"The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world." (Psalms 19:1-4)
The truth of God is evident all around us, it we are only willing to see and acknowledge it. To grow in knowledge, we need more than a mere academic approach to life. We must not only observe but we must also experience the world around us. I had a friend that was an anthropology student. However, when he got saved he left the university and wrote all his class mates telling them that he had studied life long enough and now it was his turn to live it. There is a revelation that is only gained when we participate in life. This is why Jesus said,
"But go and learn what this means: 'I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'" (Matthew 9:13)
It is not enough to simply study the laws of nature, we need to experience them as well. Jesus said, "go and learn", not "study and learn". The world around us holds mysteries untold, but when we engage life it opens up to us the finner revelations that it holds.

More to come... David Robison

Friday, August 17, 2007

Reason and Revelation: Revelation (Part 1)

In chemistry, a catalyst is a compound that assists in a chemical reaction. For example, in the chemical reaction pictured here, ethene is converted to ethanol using steam in the presence of phosphoric acid. In this chemical reaction, phosphoric acid is a catalyst. Apart from the presence of phosphoric acid, ethene is stable, but when phosphoric acid is present, it triggers the chemical reaction to produce ethanol. A catalyst triggers a transformation of a substance from one form to another. I believe that, in the same way, revelation is a catalyst. Revelation triggers a transformation of our current knowledge, understanding, and beliefs to something new. Revelation is the trigger to bring us to a new understanding, new knowledge, and possibly even new beliefs. Without revelation, we simply will not grow in our knowledge, especially in our knowledge of God. We can reason all we want within the context of our current knowledge and understanding, but without revelation, we will never arrive at new knowledge.

While some knowledge is easily obtained by simple study of the world around us, other knowledge has been hidden by God. God has hidden knowledge that is only discerned by revelation. Consider what Jesus said, "I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight." (Luke 10:21) Learning takes more than our own personal efforts and reasonings, we are dependent on the catalyst of revelation to transform what we know into new knowledge. No one, no matter how smart or wise they are, can learn apart from revelation. Consider this scene from the Book of Revelation,
"I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?'" (Revelation 5:1-2)
John saw a book that contained the knowledge of what was to be and to happen in the end times. This knowledge was sealed up and hidden from knowing. An angel makes a proclamation asking who was worthy to open the book and to bring forth the revelation of future things.
"And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it. Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it." (Revelation 5:3-4)
In all of heaven and earth, no one was found who was able to open the book and to look inside it. The book was a closed revelation, it contained knowledge that could not be known or discovered, unless someone could open its seals. John understood what this meant, there was knowledge that was to be known, but it was hidden because there was no one to make it known.
"And one of the elders said to me, 'Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.' And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne." (Revelation 5:5-7)
Finally one was found worthy and able to open the book, Jesus Christ. The point of this story is that we are unable to know the full extent of the wisdom and counsel of God apart from that which is revealed to us by Jesus Christ. If we are to grow in knowledge, then we must be able to receive the revelation of Jesus Christ. Revelation is the key to growing in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.

More to come... David Robison

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Washington DC Missions Trip: Report 3

My 11 year old daughter is presently in Washington DC on a short term missions trip with about twelve other 11 and 12 year old children. Please pray for them as they serve the Lord and learn about missions. Here is their third report:

Hi everyone!

Thank you for your prayers! We've had so many blessings from the Lord this week that only Nic & I recognize because this is our 6th year doing this particular trip. Yes, we've had low humidity, no traveling problems, wonderful wonderful accommodations, got lost only once and that was only for a few minutes (No Nic, let's not try Hwy 29 for a shortcut!) We've had favor regarding the Capitol tour tomorrow as the one we had scheduled was canceled due to a funeral.(Sen Warner's office) Thankfully, Sen. Webb's office was able to schedule a tour for us! Amazing!

No one has blisters, sunburns or any other visible problems. There is some homesickness (of course) and some grumbling. It's pretty safe to say most of these kids have never worked hard for 5 hours three days in a row. They're tired but right now very excited seeing the end of our third day. Many have expressed amazement that their parents work 8+ hours a day! Wow!
They appreciate you more!

Last night our time at the Homeless Women's shelter was very sweet. The ladies received the children enthusiastically. They played a couple of songs on our handbells, did a skit about being rejected by 'friends' or the world and Nic showed them the gospel doll presentation and talked about Jesus, the healer of broken hearts. We got a chance to visit with and pray with many of the ladies and of course they were delighted to receive the blessing bags. Thank you to all of you who helped us gather the items to put in them.

Today we're wrapping up our last hour at SHARE and then driving to Arlington Cemetery for reports at the Lee-Custis House and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Dinner at Taco Bell in Arlington and then a evening stop at the Jefferson Memorial. Tonight we'll all be in bed by 10pm as we have a very early start tomorrow. We have to be at the White House ready to go in at
8:15! Yikes!

Again, thank you for praying for us. We're spending a lot of time trying to teach them some important life lessons along the way...........only using edifying words, obeying your leaders, not grumbling, doing your best whatever you're doing, being extra careful in public restrooms, putting others before yourself .............the list goes on.

We pray that this time spent with us in our nation's capital will be life changing in many ways. One thing for sure.......we can't do this in our own strength. Keep on prayin'!

No reports tomorrow or Friday as we'll be out & away from a computer both days.

Blessed to be a blessing,

Pastor Cheryl, Nic and Margarita
and YOUR DC Missions Team 2007

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Washington DC Missions Trip: Report 2

My 11 year old daughter is presently in Washington DC on a short term missions trip with about twelve other 11 and 12 year old children. Please pray for them as they serve the Lord and learn about missions. Here is their second report:

This is Katie again writing for Pastor Cheryl. The internet is still down at Share Organization (please pray that the internet will go back up - it has been a setback for the organization), so I will relay a message from the DC team!

Everyone is doing well - Pastor Cheryl said the kids are extremely grateful to be there. They're all a bit tired, but happy!

Today, they are bagging 1-pound bags of dry beans in a warehouse with no air conditioning. Please pray that they will stay cool and continue to serve with cheerful hearts! After working at the warehouse, they will spend some time visiting the Lincoln memorial, Korean memorial, Vietnam memorial, as well as the Roosevelt memorial. Later this evening they will participate in an outreach at a women's homeless shelter.

Pastor Cheryl also wanted me to convey a praise report! Last night the children were able to pray with Crystal, one of the Share employees - she has been unable to sleep well for the past several nights. This morning she told the team that not only did she sleep, but she was able to sleep in! Praise God!

Please continue to pray for the team!


Monday, August 13, 2007

Washington DC Missions Trip: Report 1

My 11 year old daughter is presently in Washington DC on a short term missions trip with about twelve other 11 and 12 year old children. Please pray for them as they serve the Lord and learn about missions. Here is their first report:

Hi everyone!

This is Katie (I'm the receptionist at New Life Providence Church!). Pastor Cheryl just called and asked me to send out an email update for her since she doesn't have internet access at the moment.

The team just finished up 5 hours of work which included bagging 5,000 pounds of rice! Everyone is in good spirits and is looking forward to an afternoon of site-seeing and exploring the city. Pastor Cheryl also wanted me to let you know that their accommodations are excellent, and she will send out another update tomorrow.



Thursday, August 09, 2007

What do you have to give away?

This is a message I preached on 9/25/2005. It challenges us to look to see what we have to give a way to those in need. Before we can give away the Kingdom of God, we must first receive the Kingdom of God. This message is about 35 minutes long. At the end, my wife joins me to share her thoughts as well.

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David Robison

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Reason and Revelation: Range (Part 4)

The Surprise of God

This is perhaps the greatest example from the scriptures of a man who's range was blown to pieces by God.
"Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. A voice came to him, 'Get up, Peter, kill and eat!' But Peter said, 'By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.' Again a voice came to him a second time, 'What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.' This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky." (Acts 10:9-16)
What God was asking Peter to do was unthinkable to him. How could he disobey the law of Moses? How could he transgress the traditions of his elders? How could God be commanding him to do what he had grown up to believe was sinful? I tried to think of what an equivalent request might be for me. It would be as if God came to me in a dream and told me to start preaching the Book of Mormon. Personally, I don't believe that the Book of Mormon is divine but rather simply a fable or novel. How could I take up preaching a false gospel? This is akin to what God was asking Peter to do. The vision left Peter perplexed.
"Now while Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be, behold, the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions for Simon's house, appeared at the gate; and calling out, they were asking whether Simon, who was also called Peter, was staying there. While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, 'Behold, three men are looking for you. But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself.'" (Acts 10:17-20)
Instead of summarily dismissing the vision, Peter pondered what it might mean. A few days later, when he arrived at Cornelius' house, He understood what God was trying to tell him.
"As he talked with him, he entered and found many people assembled. And he said to them, 'You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean. That is why I came without even raising any objection when I was sent for... I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.'" (Acts 10:27-29, 34-35)
All of a sudden, Peter understood. God was calling all men to repentance and reconciliation with God, not just the Jews. Where before, Peter would have never even consider going to a gentile with the gospel, now he is the first to bring them the good news. That day, Peter's range got expanded to include even the gentiles.

It is always good to have well thought out and reasoned beliefs and opinions, but we must always leave room for the "surprise" of God. We must always leave room in our range for what we don't understand; for what is beyond our present understanding. We must be willing to be taught and shown new things by God. We must be open to God "blowing" our minds and expanding our range. After all, the goal is not to form tightly crystallized ideas, but rather knowing God, and in that process, I am sure that we are going to find lots of surprises along the way.

David Robison

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Reason and Revelation: Range (Part 3)

Not too big, Not too little, but Just right

While our range can be helpful in keeping us from being distracted by "every wind of doctrine," it can also limit and hinder us from learning what God wants to teach us. There are many examples in the scriptures of people who's range actually kept them from the knowledge of God.
"For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks , Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." (1 Corinthians 1:22-24)
It has always amazed me how Jesus could come to Earth and perform the miracles that He did and yet most people missed the importance of what was happening. Especially the Pharisees, who claimed to be waiting for the messiah, yet they failed to recognize Him when He came. I think in part, it was due to their limited range.

The Greeks sought wisdom and knowledge. Their range was limited to what they could know and understand. To them, the Cross was foolishness; it didn't make sense, it didn't seem logical. They had little use for revelation and were focused on what they could figure out themselves; what they could grasp with their own minds. The Jews, on the other hand, sought a sign. This was not because they were expecting a sign, but because they were closed to any revelation that did not fit into their understanding of religion. Any spiritual thing that did not come in a way that their religion expected they rejected, unless validated by special sign. This is why they asked Jesus, "The Jews then said to Him, 'What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?' Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." (John 2:18-19) The truth is that they were not interested in a sign. Even when Jesus did provide the sign of His resurrection from the dead, they still would not believe. No matter what the sign, they were not willing to receive anything that was outside of their nice, comfortable, religion. Perhaps no where can this be more clearly seen than in the following scripture.
"On another Sabbath He entered the synagogue and was teaching; and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him closely to see if He healed on the Sabbath, so that they might find reason to accuse Him. But He knew what they were thinking, and He said to the man with the withered hand, 'Get up and come forward!' And he got up and came forward. And Jesus said to them, 'I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to destroy it?' After looking around at them all, He said to him, 'Stretch out your hand!' And he did so; and his hand was restored. But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus." (Luke 6:6-11)
What more of a miracle could they have asked for? Yet they rejected it simply because the miracle was done on the sabbath. They rejected Jesus and His ministry because He would not play according to their rules; because He didn't fit inside their "box".

Both the Jews and the Greeks had developed a range that was closed. They had no room in their range for what they could not understand or for what was different than their expectations. When we allow our range to become closed, then our range becomes the proverbial box into which we wish to place and keep God. A range is important, but we must always be open to the idea that our range is not the same as Jesus' range. We must always leave room for that which we do not know, what we cannot understand, and what we do not expect. We must always leave room for Jesus, and allow Him to break out of the box we so often love to put Him in. We must always remember what God spoke about Himself.
"'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' declares the Lord. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.'" (Isaiah 55:8-9)
More to come... David Robison

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Don't call me Teacher: The Sermon

This is a message I preached on Oct 27, 2006 called "Don't Call Me Teacher." Is was the message that inspired my blog series by the same name. This message is about 23 minutes long.

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Reason and Revelation: Range (Part 2)

Examine your range

We each have a range of what we both expect to be true and what we are willing to accept as being true. Each person's range may be different; some larger and some smaller. Different ranges can be thought of as concentric circles as pictured here. As the concentric circles increase in size, they correlate to a range that is larger and more inclusive than the encircled range. For example, when considering spiritual knowledge, these four ranges might be:

A: Knowledge and truth that can be ascertained and understood from the physical world.
B: Knowledge and truth that is directly taught by the scriptures.
C: Knowledge and truth that is not necessarily taught by the scriptures but neither is denied by the scriptures.
D: Knowledge and truth that is spiritual in nature, even if it is denied by the scriptures.

Much of science today operates in the "A" range. While not always the case in the past, much of science is involved in the pursuit of knowledge that does not require an acknowledgment of God. Science today seeks to describe the world without reference to God and, in many circles, the inclusion of God in the description of the world is considered "non-scientific". This is why many scientists and evolutionist summarily dismiss the idea of a creator God because it does not fit inside their range.

Many fundamentalist Christians operate with a "B" range. They are willing to receive truth that is (in their perception) clearly taught by the scriptures, but they are leery of experiences and revelation that cannot be traced back to a concrete scripture reference. Throughout history, revivals have often been accompanied by strange manifestations; manifestations not explicitly noted in the scriptures. Manifestations such as jerking, swaying, and falling out or, being "slain in the Spirit". People with a strict "B" range often have difficulty embracing revival because they are unable to relate the strange manifestations back to the scriptures.

My wife is a regional resource person for the Catch the Fire Ministries out of Toronto Canada. Over the past few years I have had the pleasure to meet many people associated with this ministry and the ongoing revival that is happening throughout the world. Many of the people I have met have been "C" range people. There is an openness to experiences and revelation that, while not directly taught by the scriptures, is not discounted or denied by the scriptures either. Sometimes, these experiences have lead to new and creative ministry styles that have proven to be effected, even if they are not directly demonstrated in the scriptures.

Finally, those whom we would title as "new agers" would be included with those who have a "D" range. People who have adopted a "D" range are willing to accept any spiritual truth, even truth that is directly denied by the scriptures. Such examples would include spiritualists, mediums, palm readers, fortunetellers, channelers, and the like. For them, the spirit realm is wide open and anything spiritual is to be embraced and accepted.

While there is nothing sacred about these four ranges, they are provided as an example to help us think about our range. While each of us may have a different range, it is important that we understand what our range is and to examine it before God to see if He might desire to change our range; to increase it or to decrease it.

As for me and my wife

My wife an I have different ranges. For me, I accept as truth everything taught by the scriptures ("B" range), I accept as possible those things not denied by the scriptures ("C" range), and I reject everything denounced and denied by the scriptures ("D" range). My wife, however, is more accepting of revelation and experiences that would fall in the "C" range. She is willing to accept as truth those teachings that have been effective in bearing good fruit in people's lives. While the lack of a strong biblical foundation may make me skeptical, for my wife the evidence of the power and fruitfulness of the teaching is a witness of the truth of that teaching.

So who is right and who is wrong? Neither, rather I believe that our differences are due to the different grace, anointing, and calling on our lives. One of my primary ministry callings is as a teacher. As such, I am very concerned about the precision of my teaching. On the other hand, my wife is called to a more personal ministry of the Kingdom of God to the lives of individual people. As such, she is highly concerned with the power and efficacy of the scriptures. To her, the power and capacity of the scriptures is more important that their precision. The point is, I believe that, in part, our different ranges are due to our different callings by God. One is not necessarily better than the other, nor is one to be judged by the other, they are simply different.

More to come... David Robison