Sunday, 15 November 2015

What Jesus said

Weekly Thoughts

Now I Get It #1

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How to Have a healthy & Balanced Faith
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Many Christians think they are walking with God but are the most unhappy, cynical, and hurt people around. Why is that? Because their faith is actually in religion, not in God, yet they think they are being 'Christian' and doing what God wants. How does a believer identify poisonous elements of religion in their faith, and how can they return to a pure and simple faith? This series identifies characteristics of poisonous faith and points the way to simply loving God and walking with Him. You'll be able to instantly recognize a religious spirit, know how to steer clear, and know how to walk hand in hand with the Father and the Lord Jesus.

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Hi all,
Barb's dad was legendary for using one word when he meant another, or completely messing up the pronunciation of words he meant to say, which caused great amusement for all.
One time he was working on something and couldn't get it fixed, and I walked up to ask how it was going. "I can't figure out what's wrong, I'm constipated over this whole thing!" he said in exasperation, not realizing he had meant to say "I'm frustrated!" (I think, but we never knew exactly what he meant when he said such things) I just chuckled to myself as he was at that time, my future father-in-law.
Barb inherited that word-mix-up gene which has provided me (and her) no end of amusement over the 50 years we've known each other. (We go back to when we were about 7 years old)
The other day I made some Chorizo (choe-rees'-oh) sausage. Chorizo is a Mexican sausage that is fairly spicy, reddish in color due to paprika and chili powder, and is often served with eggs or chicken. Not trusting sausage in general as I don't want any ears, oinks, moo's or tongues in my sausage (I don't want to taste anything that can taste me back, lol), I make it myself so I know what goes into it. I especially like it with eggs in the morning or I add it to Huevos Rancheros (look that one up up if unfamiliar). 
The trouble is, Barb can't pronounce Chorizo (choe-rees'-oh). When she asks if we have some, she asks for 'Cho-Zorro', which makes my sausage sound like a 19th century Mexican folk hero who carves a big 'Z' on his meal! (Zorro is a Mexican hero of literary fame, with several movies made about him as well) 
Chorizo or Cho-Zorro, we both know we are talking about my home made Mexican sausage.
But that isn't always the case with Bible passages
In this series I will set many passages to their Jewish and Roman culture and history, because many people haven't been taught scripture in context, and therefore believe a passage, let's say, is about 'Cho-Zorro' when in fact it is talking about Chorizo.
What Jesus wrote in the dust
We are told in John 7:2 Jesus went up to Jerusalem to the Feast of Tabernacles. Tabernacles celebrates God living with man and is the last of the 7 Biblical festivals found in Leviticus 23. John 7:37-39:
"On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out saying, 'If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink. He that believes on me as the scripture has said, out of his belly will flow rivers of living water.' But this He spoke of the Spirit, which those who believe on Him would receive, for the Holy Spirit was not yet given because Jesus had not yet been glorified."
While this is beautiful in its own right, it takes on greater meaning when we understand the cultural context. A ceremony within the Feast of Tabernacles is the "Beit Hashoevah" or "House of the Waterpouring", and it was conducted daily for the full week of the feast.
While sacrifices were being made in the Temple, a group of priests went out the Eastern Gate of the temple to a nearby valley to cut willow tree branches. These branches were believed to be about 25 feet in length (7.5 m) and the priests made a column, each with a branch. As they in made their way to the temple, they walked in unison and swung the branches back and forth as they walked.
This swinging of the branches in unison created a rushing wind symbolic of the Spirit of God. As this was going on, the High Priest and Assistant went out of the temple via the Water Gate to the Pool of Siloam and filled a gold pitcher with water known as "Mayim Hayim", or "Living Water". The Assistant filled a silver pitcher with wine. Note: Silver in the OT always stands for righteousness, gold for purity and holiness.
The priests with the willow branches would circle the altar 7 times as animals were sacrificed, then lay their branches over the top of the sacrifice, forming a tent or sukka over the top. As this happened the High Priest poured out the Living Water at the sacrifice as his Assistant poured out the wine, and the people gathered sang together Isaiah 12:3:
"Therefore with joy shall you draw water out of the wells of salvation." (Hebrew word for 'salvation' used here is Yeshua, for that is what Jesus or Yeshua means).
And that is why Jesus, Yeshua, cried out that He was the Source of the true Living Water on that last day of the feast. To everyone listening, they would have understood He was saying He was that celebration in the flesh before their very eyes. That is why they wanted to arrest Him (7:44), and yet marveled.
But wait, there's more!
During the week long festival of Tabernacles and Living Water, the priests read multiple passages about Living Water, and on the day after the Feast ended which was the 8th day (Shemini Atzeret), there was a celebration on that 8th day called "Simchat Torah" or "Rejoicing in the Torah (Word)".
All week long the whole nation celebrated Tabernacles, living in tents, celebrating God living with man. Everyone of those 7 days they also celebrated that He is the Living Water by the Spirit shown in the wind created by the willow branches, and on the 8th day they tied it all together to rejoice in the Word.
John 8:1-2 tells us after the feast, the next morning, or the 8th day while they were celebrating the 'Rejoicing in the Word' day, Jesus came into the temple and a woman caught in adultery was brought to Him, and He was asked:
"Now Moses in the law commands us that such a one should be stoned to death, but what do you say?" This they said to tempt Him that they might have something to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground, as though He hadn't heard them."
"So when they continued asking Him, He stood up and said to them, 'He that is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her.' And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. And those who heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one beginning at the oldest, even to the youngest, and Jesus was left alone and the woman standing before Him." John 8:5-9
What did He write?
People have asked that questions for centuries, but I think the answer is revealed in the Feast itself. For all 7 days of the Feast of Tabernacles one of the passages read was Jeremiah 17:12-13:
"A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary, O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be ashamed, and those who depart from you shall be written in the earth (their names), because they have forsaken the Lord, the Fountain of Living Waters."
The writing of names in the dust of the earth stands in contrast to writing the names of believers in the Book of the Living, and Jeremiah makes the point their names, or their lives, being written in the earth means they are doomed and will be forgotten as easily as a puff of wind blows away the dust of the earth.
This explains why they went out convicted by their own conscience (all who forsake you will be ashamed), from the eldest (who had the most authority, sins, and would have been the ones initiating the execution order for the woman) to the youngest.
But notice the verses right after these in Jeremiah, verses 14-15, for this is what the woman received when Jesus told her He didn't condemn her:
"Heal me O Lord, and I will be healed; Save me, and I will be saved, for you are my praise! Behold they say to me, 'Where is the Word of the Lord?' Let it come to me now."
If that doesn't bring you to awe of our Lord, wait, there's more
The Feast of Tabernacles was also known as the 'Feast of Dedication', the 'Feast of Lights', and 'The Season of our Joy' because Solomon concluded the dedication of his temple at this feast. The custom was to place 4 big lamps in the temple, the main one was called 'The Light of the World'.
That is why Jesus said in John 8:12, "I am the Light of the world". Now His statements about being the Source of Living Water, the Light of the World, and Him writing in the earth seem so much more vivid. Hope that is a blessing to you, I get excited everytime I read those chapters and wanted to share that with you.
Next week, veils, braiding hair, and cutting off the hem of a exciting! But for now, I'm hungry for some Cho-Zorro. Blessings,
John Fenn and email me at

Friday, 6 November 2015

Crucifying thoughts

Hi all,
Last week I told the stories of 3 people who crucified old ways of thinking so they could begin thinking new thoughts: The teen who stole from stores and ran with the wrong crowd, the promiscuous girl trying to fill the void in her heart thinking each guy she had sex with might be 'the one', and the corrupt businessman who requested cash payments and then didn't report the income.
All 3 put their old thoughts to death on their mental cross that they might take up new life in their thoughts: The teen stopped stealing and broke his friendships with that crowd in spite of taunts and jeers, the girl kept relationships pure and focused on knowing her heavenly Father though now rejected by peers and the boys she'd once slept with, and the businessman who stopped asking for cash and when paid in cash, reported it properly while his peers shook their heads not understanding this sudden 'religion' in his life.
I closed by asking, what if they did not crucify those thoughts?
What if each person continued their walk with the Lord, but in that one area of thought in each of their lives, they rejected revelation from God and stubbornly refused to crucify old thoughts? What if they kept those old thoughts and protected them instead? Maybe because they liked being accepted. Maybe because they enjoy the feeling they got from the sin. Maybe because they believe they won't have any fun if they give it up.
They are still believers, but the first occasionally steals from stores and keeps those old friendships while also going to church and Christian concerts. The young lady loves God, but loves the attention and temporary high of promiscuous sexual encounters as well, and tells herself she is more discerning in who she sleeps with now, and the corrupt businessman, a leader in his community on the outside but with this one area he refuses to let God influence his thoughts.
When a person rejects revelation from God in an area to hold onto their own thoughts, each of these thoughts manifest as occasional actions which then become regular habits, which then becomes lifestyle, and the person is then 'past feeling'* in that area - the thought is now a stronghold. *Ephesians 4:19
How strongholds develop - not crucifying wrong thoughts
There is a passage in II Corinthians 10:4-5 commonly used in 'spiritual warfare' teaching, but when used that way is at least in part, in error.
"...we don't war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful to God for bringing down strongholds, reasonings bringing down, and every high thing lifted up against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.." II Corinthians 10:4-5
The weapons of our warfare are for pulling down mental strongholds which are reasonings, not about demons. This is how thoughts are crucified. You pull them down when they lift up against revelation and knowledge of God's thoughts on the matter.
The word 'stronghold' means 'fortress' - it is a military term, meaning a person like the young thief, or promiscuous woman, or corrupt businessman with ungodly thoughts would guard those thoughts as a military fort or castle might be defended, arguing or digging in one's heels to resist other's opinions or ideas.
These thoughts are strongholds defended by the person, meaning God's thoughts and everyone else's on the matter are shut out. That is what makes it a stronghold. There is no reasoning with such a person yet holding onto their well guarded reasoning means they shut out God in that area, and others, eventually making themselves an island all alone in their singular thought in that protected stronghold.
By contrast Romans 12:2 says to "Don't be conformed to this world, but become transformed (Greek: metamorphosis, to undergo a metamorphosis) by the renewing of your mind..."  
There is no other way to grow as a disciple of Christ, for the word disciple means 'learner'. Learning means examining and accepting new thoughts in place of old. You want to change your life? Start with killing your old thoughts and taking up new life in Christ's thoughts - about everything!
Like the young woman who slept with man after man thinking each might be 'the one' to fill the void in her heart, so too many Christians run to and fro to this conference and that, looking for 'the one' that will fill the void in their heart or heal them or heal their family, choosing to ignore the hard work of actually becoming a disciple and battling old thoughts with new, taking the old captive and then killing them on their own cross. Difficult, tortuous even, but that is why the Lord used the cross as an example. He knows the difficult process, but there is no other way.
Success against strongholds
For me it was that I didn't like myself. When my dad left our family when I was age 11, that rejection hurt all the way to my core. I was direction-less, searching for a father, for acceptance, for self-worth. As many children do, I blamed myself at least partially for their divorce, and hated myself for it.
After I was born again and baptized with the Holy Spirit I still had this stronghold of a self-hatred and rejection of myself, and no direction in life as a result. I just didn't care. About anything.  
But I began doing what the Bible said - renewing my mind and therefore underwent a transformation in my thinking. Every time a thought of rejection or hatred would come into my mind I would counter that thought with another; "I'm no good so not even the Father can use me/Jesus died for me so of course the Father wants me and can use me for His will." "I hate myself and feel trapped/The Father loves me unconditionally so He has to have a plan for me."
And many other mental battles like that. Those ungodly thoughts did not go willingly to captivity on their cross - I had to march them down one by one as each reared its ugly head in my mind, and see to it each died in the presence of revelation from my Father which revealed each as a liar.
I had to counter thoughts like that nearly every day, for about a year before His thoughts became first nature, and I knew I was loved unconditionally and I could trust Him. I refused the idea of not growing in Him - I wanted all of Him and the only way to know Him was to think like Him because He sure wasn't going to start thinking like me.
It was a similar process forgiving my dad, which I did at age 16, but it took 10 years before the feelings lined up with my decision. I had read in Mark 11:25 Jesus said 'When you stand praying, forgive...' which meant forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling. So I decided to forgive though I still felt hurt, rejected, and angry at the injustice of it all.
Those were genuine and justified feelings and I wasn't going to be religiously manipulated into denying the facts of the situation - it was not right that he did what he did and I was right to feel angry and rejected. But those facts had nothing to do with my decision to forgive him. The forgiveness was instant, the feelings I had to work through because my hurt and the injustice was legitimate and real, took 10 years.
Every time one of my siblings would bring up 'the divorce' it would stir strong emotions of hatred, anger, rejection and more, all over again. But I had to mentally and with determination, counter every thought of anger and hatred towards dad with "I forgave him years ago so feelings settle down because he is already forgiven." I did that over and over and over again through 10 years.
It wasn't until I was 26, looking at my wife and sons and wondering how in the world my dad could walk out on us when I was young, causing a huge void in my life making my teen years incomplete, that I realized the final piece of injustice I had to resign myself to was that I didn't have teenage years with my dad. Once I settled it that I would never get my teen years back, somehow becoming okay with that though unjust, as I was then in my 20's and there was no turning back the hands of time, the final feeling of rest and peace lined up with my decision 10 years earlier to forgive. Now I had the memories but no longer any hurt attached to each memory. He had been forgiven 10 years earlier, but now my feelings lined up with the decision.
There is no other way to grow in Christ than to do the dirty work of countering each thought of man/Satan with the thoughts based on revelation from the Father. It is a process, but the end result is a transformed mind and life. You can do it.