A Sanctuary for Saints and Sinners in Need of a Saviour.                                   Luke 18:9-14

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The full Feature Film Script " Travesty " was reviewed over  a 7 week period during our Sunday Illustrated Messages. It was broken down into different scenes and then Pastor Richard shared Bible verses that reflected the content of those scenes. Below is the weekly review of those scenes.  To read Travesty, please click here.  To read the Three Act Structure of the Film, click here and to read the lyrics to a RAP song 'Merchants', please click here.

Travesty, it’s a revolutionary word ... who’s willing to preach it? As you’ve read the Three Act Structure and the full feature film script, you can see that the topic is about the merchandizing of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The sin of putting a price tag on the gifts that God has freely given to us; whether it is any illumination, inspiration or revelation that we receive freely from God.

David Briar, a man who started Jubal Dove Productions as a non-profit ministry giving people the opportunity to give what they could for the things he produced, is then blinded by ungodly, smooth talking people, to include for-profit business ventures (book, CD, film etc. sales), not relying solely on non-profit donations, and from there, the demise and downward spiral begins.

When Jesus sent the 72 disciples out in Luke 10:4-12, he said that when they went into the cities and homes, they were to eat and drink what was set, offered, or provided for them ... because the laborer deserved his wages. Notice that Jesus says whatever ‘they’ set before you, not what ‘you expect them’ to set before you or give to you? They didn’t charge money for their evangelistic endeavours. Don’t those who author Christian books, literature, music, teachings, prophetic insights, entertainment, and the like, come into our churches and homes daily, yet we’re having to ‘pay’ for their ‘services or ministry they produce’ to come in, instead of them receiving what we’re able to give them for their services and ministry?  Jesus sent his disciples out, commissioning them with His fullness to preach the Kingdom of God, to be a blessing, to give freely, to teach, preach, heal, cast out devils, prophesy ... all at no cost! It was free!

For the most part, those who sense a call on their lives for ministry (in whatever capacity that looks like) have the same prayer as Isaiah when he said, “Here am I, send me!” We’re passionate about doing what God has called us to do! Yet we lose faith and doubt when we don’t see the provision, we start faltering and get our eyes off Jesus like Peter who steps out on the water and starts sinking, and we end up sliding into the world system of trying to bring in the money so that ultimately we can do what we feel we’re called to do.

I believe that’s why Jesus was continually admonishing his disciples, and continues to admonish us, about their/our lack of faith. If God calls you, He’ll provide for you! If He calls you out, don’t you think He’s big enough to bring in the provision or finances ahead of time to do what He wants you to do? Or maybe you’re to just step out and watch Him provide! Then when you minister and go into homes and churches via books, music, arts, literature, preaching and teaching, you don’t have the cloud over your head about how you’re going to pay for it. Then, the saints can give what they’re able to, not grudgingly or under compulsion, but joyfully, cheerfully and freely to support you!

Simon, who was renowned in Samaria for his supernatural sorcery powers, became a Christian. But when he saw the gifts of the Spirit in manifestation, wanted to buy the ‘gift’ that he saw in Peter and John in Acts 8:14-25. Peter says; “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.” To look at it from a different perspective, we can’t sell our gifts. Peter said ‘THE GIFTS THE HOLY SPIRIT HAS GIVEN TO US ARE NOT FOR SALE!’ Jesus has freely given them to us; whether it be an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher; or ones who have the word of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healings, working of miracles, discerning of spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues; gifts of helps, administrations or anything for the edification of the body of Christ, they’re not to be accompanied with a price tag. The vehicles that are used to give or use these gifts, i.e. books, music, Christian concerts, CD's, teachings, film, entertainment, etc., should not have a price tag on them.

This script isn’t disqualifying that a laborer in the ministry, called to minister in some capacity, doesn’t deserve wages, we know that they do. What it is saying is; don’t put a price tag on what Jesus has freely given to you. Trust Him! Step out on the water in faith and see His provision! Be radical! Go against the tide of the culture! See God provide above and beyond all that you could have asked or thought of! Walk by faith and not by sight like our hero’s of faith in the book of Hebrews!

Are not the two greatest commandments to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and the second is equal, to love your neighbour as yourself, Matthew 22:36-40? If we do good to those who do good to us, what credit is it? The sinners do the same. If we lend those who lend to us, what credit is that to us? The sinners do the same thing. If everything we do then in ministry is motivated by love, then we’re to minister that love through the gifts Jesus has given to us...expecting nothing in return, then our reward will be great! Luke 6: 33-35.

This message is meaty and controversial, we know that. But let’s ask the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to see if there has been compromise in our lives in the gifts, calling and election.​​​

September 20th, 2015 - Travesty, Part I (Scenes 1 - 7)

Non-profit ministries and companies are under tighter scrutiny than ever before in North America. The misuse and misappropriation of the generous giving of both saints and sinners has caught the eye of governments. It wouldn’t be surprising that in the next years, should the Lord tarry, that this could be taken away from us and that we’ll no longer be able to receive tax right offs for our financial giving. The moral credibility of this scene begins unfolding as we see that thousands of everyday people who have supported Jubal Dove with their monthly support has been undermined and lost. The misappropriation here is that Steven is using these non-profit dollars that he’s received from Jubal Dove, for his personal gain as you can see with his conversation with his accountant Gloria. He is only concerned about himself and not that of his staff. His love for power and wealth at others expense doesn’t trigger conviction at all. Proverbs 3:27 says; “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do it,” and Proverbs 28:27 says; “He that gives to the poor shall not lack: but he that hides his eyes shall have many a curse.”

Televised fundraising and other fundraising ventures in both the secular and church worlds are common practice. Any method to raise support is considered. It almost becomes a competition to see who can out give another and also can be used to manipulate the audience to coerce them to give. It’s great to be generous, but the Bible clearly outlines how are giving is to be in Matthew 6:1-4; "Take heed that you do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise you have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Jesus is talking about giving to the poor, but it should be common practice in all of our giving. Our reward is through Jesus, not through man.

Fornication and adultery is as prevalent in the Christian community as it with non-Christians and it ought not to be so. I Corinthians 10:11-13 shows clearly that temptations will come in these areas, but there is always a way of escape.  It’s called ‘to flee’ temptation. James 4:7 also says; “Submit therefore to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  We see seduction, bribery, manipulation of money and power floating around the leaders at Jubal Dove. Judges 16:5 says; “And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, ‘Seduce him, and see where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to humble him. And we will each give you 1,100 pieces of silver.’” Sally is acting the same way as Delilah did with Samson, prowling around seeing whom she can seduce. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, he explicitly says in Matthew 6:13; “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”  All kinds of temptations fly in our face daily and Jesus knew that it would. Let’s pray daily that the Father delivers us from the temptations that the devil would hurl at us.

Both bribery and false prophecy transpire as the evening goes forward. In the Illustrated Message called Lord, Lord that was shared on August 9th, we talked about how much false prophets exist. Exodus 23:8 says; “Take no bribes, for a bribe makes you ignore something that you clearly see. A bribe makes even a righteous person twist the truth.” Can the righteous person be bribed; it clearly states that it does happen.  Proverbs 17:23 also says; “The wicked accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the ways of justice.”  Micah 3:11 says; “Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they lean upon the LORD and say, "Is not the LORD among us? No disaster will come upon us." We could think that the decline in morality and godliness are only a thing of this century, but clearly it’s been going on for thousands of years. The word of God clearly reveals that those who practice such things are deceived.

II Peter 2:1-3 says; “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” Is the truth of Jesus Christ being brought into disrepute in our generation? Clearly it is from what we’ve just read. Jeremiah has a strong word when he says in Jeremiah 14:14-15; “Then the Lord said to me, ‘The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds. Therefore this is what the Lord says about the prophets who are prophesying in my name: I did not send them, yet they are saying, ‘No sword or famine will touch this land.’ Those same prophets will perish by sword and famine.” Here are a few other Bible verses that relate to this; Matthew 7:15-16, Jeremiah 14:14-15, Jeremiah 23:16, Luke 6:26, John 10:12

One wonders how this can be! Peter says in I Peter 5:8-9; “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Bringing these scenes to a close, we see both David and Sarah are living a double standard life as there is lying, deception and adultery in their lives. Colossians 3:9-10 says; “Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him,” and in Ephesians 4:25; “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.”  David then has a moment of sobriety, so to speak in the midst of the corruption; he has a conviction of sin. It’s like he is prophesying to himself when he quotes Philippians 1:21; “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

As followers of Christ, let’s allow the Holy Spirit to examine our hearts to see what we need to change or repent of. John 16:8-11 says; “But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”

September 27th, 2015 - Travesty, Part II (Scenes 8 - 17)

Lots of drama unfolds in the scenes we’ve read! We see Jose, now homeless, being taken advantage of by his fellow Christian employee, Steven’s radical phone call from a long lost friend and a major confrontation with his pastor who confessed to being coerced by Steven’s father, David, to prophesy falsely over him. Here are a few thoughts and scriptures that I’d like to share.

James 5:1-6; “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you.  Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.  Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.  You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.” Here are a few other scriptures you can read; Malachi 3:5, I John 3:17, Leviticus 25:17 and I Thessalonians 4:6.

How often do we see Christian organizations, churches and ministries take advantage of their laborers and employees, while the leadership is generously taken care of? Like Jose, many who serve in ministry have such a zeal for God and can be made to think that it’s all about service and not so much about financial compensation. As Christians let’s not oppress the wage earners who serve tirelessly.

How often does God use the foolish things in this world to confound the wise? I Corinthians 1:26-28. It seems as though Rob was a foolish thing in the world’s eyes. Yet Rob was the vessel God used to jolt Steven, it was a wakeup call, a turning point from this simple call from a long lost friend.  A few scripture verses I’d like to highlight are the following; Hebrews 13:5, Luke 16:13 and I Timothy 6:9-10. Let’s be careful how we let money influence the decision in our lives.

Many may not know this, but in North America, maybe in other countries also, royalties are paid to songwriters for every song sung in churches. So every worship song you sing, money is being paid to its writer. If churches are not paying the royalties to the singers through the companies who handle royalties, law suits can ensue if so desired. Again I come back to this, what we’ve freely received from the Holy Spirit, the words that are in songs, they’re not to be merchandized like the world does.  Take a moment to meditate on I Corinthians 2:10-13. I believe it’s a loose – loose scenario when Christian musicians and bands refuse to minister if they have a certain financial requirements that dictate their yea or nay answers. Those whom they’re to minster to loose and they themselves loose as they are putting a price tag on their gift. Are there costs to get your music (teachings or books) out to the public? Certainly, but as I mentioned last week, if God has called you and gifted you, HE WILL provide for you in unimaginable ways if you walk by faith, not by sight. It might cost you to give of your own money and ministry money advance the gospel though the arts, books, music, publishing etc., but trust the Lord to give back to you as He promised He would in His word when it comes to sowing and reaping principles. Giving not expecting anything in return.

Tasha is quite the character isn’t she! I’d just like to leave this verse with you to read; Ezekiel 34:2; “Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord God, ‘Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? ‘You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock.’”.

I’m sure some of the Bible verses that Steven meditated on when he was on his leave of absence when he was convicted by the Holy Spirit of how he had compromised and merchandised, realizing backslidden state, were ones like; I John 1:8-10, I Timothy 6:17-19, Colossians 3:1-2 and Isaiah 55:6-7. Godly sorrow produces repentance, II Corinthians 7:10.

Mark 11:15-18; “And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, ‘Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.’ And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.” If you haven’t watched the Jesus film, I’d encourage you to do so. The scene of Jesus cleansing the temple is very heavy. What do you think Jesus would do if He came into our church foyers today? What would he see that could cause him to overturn tables and throw out money makers?

This awakening that Steven is going through shows him how he was misled by both his father and pastor. Both were seeking their own interests and ambitions, and not those of Steven. Steven seeing that Jesus is the rock of offense confirms that he’s on the right track as he confronts his pastor with his selfish motives for personal gain and prosperity. Even so, Steven and Pastor Gil each confront the other about their misuse of Gods gifting and God’s money for personal gain. I Peter 2:7-8; “Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone and a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense. They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.” Jeremiah 23:30-32 says; “Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” says the Lord, ‘who steal My words every one from his neighbor. Behold, I am against the prophets,’ says the Lord, ‘who use their tongues and say, ‘He says.’ Behold, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,’ says the Lord, ‘and tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies and by their recklessness. Yet I did not send them or command them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all,’ says the Lord.”

What are personal applications to our own lives? Are you guilty of:

Being a lover of money ... to make yourself and your ministry rich at the expense of others?
Mistreating your employees?
Taking advantage of fellow Christian laborers or volunteers?
Giving false prophecies, manipulating words for your gain?
Withholding wages of your laborers?

In the midst of all of this, the Bible makes it clear, that if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Ask the Lord to cleanse you today.

October 4th, 2015 - Travesty, Part III (Scenes 18 - 34)

How does the secular mindset affect the call, the cross, and ultimately the compromise it brings into our lives? The word 'secular' is an adjective denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis.  Synonyms are: nonreligious, areligious, lay, temporal, worldly, earthly and profane. Here is what James says about earthly wisdom, James 3:15; “This [superficial] wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly (secular), natural (unspiritual), even demonic.

Steven’s life is turned around as he came to realize that secularism had crept into his life and had affected his calling, the impact of the cross and compromises he had made. Secular business principals of a+b=c had governed his life. Everything was calculated. Jesus says to give up on a+b=c and watch Him move in miraculous and supernatural ways. Our flesh or carnal man wants the secure way of following the Lord knowing that if we market our gifts as the secular do, we have the security of a certain amount of income based on sales. Steven stepped out in faith and out of the worldly secular mindset and started giving freely. Jesus talks clearly about denying yourself once you take up the cross and follow Him since He has called you.

Luke 9:23, “And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross daily [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me].” Luke 14:25-27; “Now large crowds were going along with Jesus; and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life [in the sense of indifference to or relative disregard for them in comparison with his attitude toward God]—he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow after Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me] cannot be My disciple.” Matthew 8:18-22; “Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to cast off for the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Then [on His way to board the boat] a scribe [who was a respected and authoritative interpreter of the Law] came and said to Him, “Master, I will accompany You [as Your student] wherever You go.” Jesus replied to him, “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Another of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father (collect my inheritance).” But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me [believing in Me as Master and Teacher], and allow the [spiritually] dead to bury their own dead.” On a side note, there is a lot of talk and chatter about ‘being true to yourself’. Let’s be true to Jesus and deny our ‘self’.

As a Christian what does the cross mean to us? We wear the cross in jewelry, people get it tattooed on their bodies, and they think it’s cool and not saying that it’s wrong. But if we identify with the cross of Calvary, here are some verses from the Amplified Bible we need to meditate on to see its power and influence on our lives. I Corinthians 1:18; “[The Wisdom of God] For the message of the cross is foolishness [absurd and illogical] to those who are perishing and spiritually dead [because they reject it], but to us who are being saved [by God’s grace] it is [the manifestation of] the power of God.”  I Corinthians 15:31; “I assure you, believers, by the pride which I have in you in [your union with] Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily [I face death and die to self].” Colossians 3:5; “So put to death and deprive of power the evil longings of your earthly body [with its sensual, self-centered instincts] immorality, impurity, sinful passion, evil desire, and greed, which is [a kind of] idolatry [because it replaces your devotion to God].” Galatians 2:19-20; “For through the Law I died to the Law and its demands on me [because salvation is provided through the death and resurrection of Christ], so that I might [from now on] live to God. I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

I don’t want to be an enemy with God, do you? James, Jesus half-brother, head pastor of the church in Jerusalem and author of the Book of James says in James 4:4; “You adulteresses [disloyal sinners—flirting with the world and breaking your vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world’s friend [that is, loving the things of the world] is being God’s enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” It’s not saying to not love sinners or worldly people, but not to love the secular, carnal and the worldly things. Clearly, if we do love the secular, carnal and the world, we are enemies with God!

Secular/carnal versus the Spirit of God; Romans 8:5-8; “For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [which gratify the body], but those who are living according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit [His will and purpose].  Now the mind of the flesh is death [both now and forever—because it pursues sin]; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace [the spiritual well-being that comes from walking with God—both now and forever];  the mind of the flesh [with its sinful pursuits] is actively hostile to God. It does not submit itself to God’s law, since it cannot, and those who are in the flesh [living a life that caters to sinful appetites and impulses] cannot please God.” Paul says in Romans 12:2; “And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].”

Some closing thoughts to bring it home to our personal lives. Is something secular deterring you from following after your call? Have you compromised in your walk with God in your marriage, family, work ethics, finances by allowing a secular mindset to rule you? Has the media world seduced your mind to think it’s good and pleasant to allow secular movies, books, music, sports, media, sitcoms, diverting you from serving Jesus whole heartedly?

Are you trying to allow light and darkness (secular) to cohabit? II Corinthians 6:14 says in the New Living Translation, “Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?”

If so, all you need to do is repent of your sins and ask Jesus to wash you and cleanse you, and then He’ll give you the grace and power to be able to change as He takes Lordship in your life!

 ​October 11th, 2015 - Travesty, Part IV (Scenes 35 - 48)

Servanthood vs. Entitlement

A common thread this week in the script is servanthood. Steven, Bob and Myra have the attitude of a servant. They have the opposite of what the world has. The world's attitude is a sense of entitlement. Entitlement means:

The fact of having a right to something
The amount to which a person has a right
The belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.

All three could easily have this entitlement attitude, after all, they’ve worked hard, they’ve done their due diligence, they’ve sacrificed, they were groomed into their positions and they’ve worked their way to the top in their individual worlds. Regardless of our place in society, a sense of entitlement is real. It may be obtained by inheritance, royalty, business, birthright, but it can also be just the attitude of,  I’m my own boss, I answer to no one, I can come and go as I please in regards to ministry, I'm accountable to no man. 

Jesus is our ultimate and supreme example of being a servant and His example is exactly opposite of entitlement. Philippians 2:4-7 says; “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this same attitude in yourselves which was in Christ Jesus [look to Him as your example in selfless humility], who, although He existed in the form and unchanging essence of God [as One with Him, possessing the fullness of all the divine attributes—the entire nature of deity], did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped or asserted [as if He did not already possess it, or was afraid of losing it]; but emptied Himself [without renouncing or diminishing His deity, but only temporarily giving up the outward expression of divine equality and His rightful dignity] by assuming the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men [He became completely human but was without sin, being fully God and fully man].”

Paul goes on to say in Philippians 3:7-8; “But whatever former things were gains to me [as I thought then], these things [once regarded as advancements in merit] I have come to consider as loss [absolutely worthless] for the sake of Christ [and the purpose which He has given my life]. But more than that, I count everything as loss compared to the priceless privilege and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord [and of growing more deeply and thoroughly acquainted with Him—a joy unequaled]. For His sake I have lost everything, and I consider it all garbage, so that I may gain Christ.” Jesus says the following:

  • Matthew 20:25-28; “But Jesus called them to Himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles have absolute power and lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them [tyrannizing them]. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your [willing and humble] slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many [paying the price to set them free from the penalty of sin].
  • Matthew 23:11; “The greatest among you will be your servant.
  • Mark 9:35; “Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.

What does our work life/employment life look like? We’re diligent, show up on time or early so we hit the ground running, we get our work projects done for the day, we always want to add value to what we do, we seek to find ways to make improvements, be a team player ... and the list goes on and on, right! We know that at the end of the day, we’ll get our financial reward and maybe a bonus here or there. But even in all of our work, be it as an employee or employer, Paul says in Colossians 3:23-24 to do it as unto the Lord; “whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [greatest] reward. It is the Lord Christ whom you [actually] serve.” If Jesus is truly Lord in our life, then He's our boss, He's the one we serve and our commitment to Him should far surpass the obligations and requirements of our day to day work world. Do we hold ourselves to the same standards - or higher - in our walk with Christ in serving Him as we do in our work life/employment life? 

So with our best efforts in our work world we’re to do it as unto the Lord, how much more aught we to do it in serving Christ Jesus. All believers are called to ministry (servanthood) as it says in Matthew 28:19-20; “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” 

Christ emptied himself of His entitlements to become a bond-slave, a servant. Do you have a sense of entitlement instead of a lifestyle of servanthood?

October 18th, 2015 – Travesty, Part V (Scenes 49 - 51)

Casting Stones

In these scenes we see the moral decline of David Briar; his attempted escape with his secretary and the money from his company, leading then to his ultimate suicide.

The Lord always makes away of escape from sin. I Corinthians 10:13 says; “No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His word-He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy].

Sin always starts in the heart. James 1:14-15 says; “But each one is tempted when he is dragged away, enticed and baited [to commit sin] by his own [worldly] desire (lust, passion). Then when the illicit desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin has run its course, it gives birth to death.”

This is what happened with David. He shunned the conviction of the Holy Spirit in his life, allowing his conscience to be seared which led to his falling into temptation, sin and ultimate death.

However, as terrible as these sins are, Jesus always raises the ante on us in our lives!  For example, the adulterous woman in John 8 is caught in the very act of adultery and what’s His response; “He who is without [any] sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” He raises the ante even more in Matthew 5:27-28 where He says; “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’, but I say to you that everyone who [so much as] looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  He goes beyond the act and takes it back to the HEART. That’s where sin is conceived as we’ve just read.  
Please click on this link to see a short clip from the movie Jesus of Nazareth to see this scene.

How many today are ‘throwing stones’ at those who’ve committed adultery, male or female, yet they’re lusting in their hearts toward someone who isn’t their husband or isn’t their wife? Their vain imaginations are running wild, without restraint ... Jesus says it’s the very same thing as the ACT!

How about murder? Matthew 5:21-26 says; “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘you shall not murder,’ and ‘whoever murders shall be guilty before the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who continues to be angry with his brother or harbors malice against him shall be guilty before the court; and whoever speaks [contemptuously and insultingly] to his brother, Raca (You empty-headed idiot)! Shall be guilty before the supreme court (Sanhedrin); and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of fiery hell.” Again, Jesus raises the ante! 

Daily we’re being bombarded with the atrocities of murder around the world, and we’re horrified and angered about it. As horrible as it is, Jesus brings it again to our individual hearts that if we say what he’s just mentioned...it’s equal to murder! So how many people do we murder with our tongues every day? Proverbs 8:21 says; “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Our words bring life or death.

Jesus always took things beyond the Law; He took it one step higher to our heart, thoughts and tongue.  What words does Jesus use with the adulterous woman in John 8:11; “... Go. From now on sin no more.” Let’s close by reading 
Romans 6 in the Amplified Bible

October 25th, 2015  - Travesty, Part VI (Scenes 52 - 55)

Moral Within or Without Moral
Richard highlighted two types of persecutions that we can face.
1)     Persecution for righteousness.
As Steven has taken a stand for righteousness, division/persecution so to speak, has come in his family due to differences of belief even though they’re Christians; they’ve charted out different belief systems. Matthew 10:34-39 shows this clearly; “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword [of division between belief and unbelief]. For I have come to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS [own] HOUSEHOLD[when one believes and another does not].” He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me , conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me] is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death], and whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake will find it [that is, life with Me for all eternity].

  • Matthew 5:10; “Blessed [comforted by inner peace and God’s love] are those who are persecuted for doing that which is morally right, for theirs in the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].
  • I Corinthians 4:12; “We work [for our living], working hard with our own hands. When we are reviled and verbally abused, we bless. When we are persecuted, we take it patiently and endure.”
  • 2 Timothy 3:12; “Indeed, all who delight in pursuing righteousness and are determined to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be hunted and persecuted [because of their faith].
  • 2 Corinthians 4:8-12; “We are pressured in every way [hedged in], but not crushed; perplexed [unsure of finding a way out], but not driven to despair; hunted down and persecuted, but not deserted [to stand alone]; struck down, but never destroyed; always carrying around in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the [resurrection] life of Jesus always may be shown in our body. For we who live are constantly [experiencing the threat of] being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be evidenced in our mortal body [which is subject to death]. So physical death is [actively at work in us, but [spiritual] life [is actively at work] in you.”

2)     Secular persecution for moral failure / unrighteous living
When a believer has a moral failure, it’s not something that caught them by surprise; they chose to disobey God as we studied this last week. There may be repentance, but that person has become an open target for ‘persecution’ from without and within. This is what we see with Marshall towards David Briar, the casting of stones! He’s just milking the story it for all it’s worth. It’s similar to the story of King David, even though he repented for his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband, there were still consequences to his moral failure; his son that was born out of adultery died and his kingdom was torn from him and divided into two. It couldn’t just be swept under the carpet. As a matter of fact, in 2 Samuel 16:5-13, David himself realizes that his sins were open to public scrutiny and persecution when Shimei cursed him out. 
Read the story here.  Shemei was like Marshall. He was trumpeting David’s sin to everyone. It was V.I.P. News with Shemei! David knew he was wrong and had sinned privately and publically and now it was being shouted from the rooftops, because now his son, who now wants to be king, has taken over his household and is sleeping with David's concubines  on his rooftop before all the world to see. The word says that the sword would never leave David's house as a result, 2 Samuel 12:9-11. There is a very big difference between persecution for RIGHTEOUSNESS and secular persecution for MORAL FAILURE.  This doesn’t just refer to sexual sin, it could be any type of moral failure or unrighteous living that has brought you to the place you are today. If you’ve repented, the Lord has forgiven, but there may still be consequences to endure. Once again, this is not persecution for righteousness sake, but for moral failure.
A few other nuggets that we’ve read about in today’s message are:

  • Steven and Bob Mylon have developed a close brotherly friendship, like that of King David and Jonathan. Psalm 133 says; “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil [of consecration] poured on the head, coming down on the beard, even the beard of Aaron, coming down upon the edge of his  [priestly] robes [consecrating the whole body]. It is like the dew of [Mount] Hermon coming down on the hills of Zion; For there the Lord has commanded the blessing: life forevermore.” Where there is unity, there is a consecrating anointing. Steven and Bob stick it out together and they see God work on their behalf.
  • We see an angelic manifestation. Hebrews 13:2 says; “Do not neglect to extend hospitality to strangers [especially among the family of believers – being friendly, cordial, and gracious, sharing the comforts of your home and doing your part generously], for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it." The taxi driver/angel was sent to minister and strengthen Steven at a very weak time and he was encouraged.
  • Lastly, Romans 8:28 says; “And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose."
  • Go and sin no more; do things God’s way and in serving Him...it will go well; if you cover up ...it will not go well. Walk upright before God. Micah 6:8; “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion), and to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance of self-righteousness]”.

November 1st, 2015  - Travesty, Part VII (Scenes 56 - 59)

What a finale!

Status Quo Christian’s?

It’s an oxymoron isn’t it! The definition of oxymoron is “a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction” and the definition of status quo means, “the current situation, the way things are now, the existing state of affairs”. For example, 'they are content with the status quo and do not like change'.

Can Christians live in the “status quo”? It’s an oxymoron. Yet many Christians like living the status quo, they don’t want to be different, or want change. However, the word of God says in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; “...so come out from among unbelievers and be separate...”.

In these last scenes of Travesty, we see clearly that Steven Briar and Bob Mylon have broken out of what has become the status quo in the Christian community; that being the merchandising of the gospel of Jesus Christ. According to some in the script, Jesus is just good business and they market Jesus as the world does.

When you break out of the status quo, you can expect rebuttal, persecution, trials and the like, not only from the secular or worldly system, but also from within the Christian community. Here are some scriptures we read and meditated on showing how God will watch over you when you break through the status quo.

  • 2 Peter 2:9; “then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgement.” ESV
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:3; “But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” ESV
  • Ephesians 3:17-20; “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]; and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of god [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself]. Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and} do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us”. AMP

This is ours when we don’t follow the status quo. He will do SUPERABUNDANTLY MORE than we can ask, think or imagine!  Don’t you want to live like this?

Our hero’s of faith refused to live the status quo. They were different, they were pioneers, and they broke out of the norm. Be encouraged to not be a conformist as you read 
Hebrews 11 ! Go beyond the comfort of the status quo.

Psalm 91; “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand]. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust [with great confidence, and on whom I rely]!” For He will save you from the trap of the fowler, and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you and completely protect you with His pinions, And under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and a wall. You will not be afraid of the terror of night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction (sudden death) that lays waste at noon. A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but danger will not come near you. You will only [be a spectator as you] look on with your eyes and witness the [divine] repayment of the wicked [as you watch safely from the shelter of the Most High]. Because you have made the Lord, [who is] my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent. For He will command His angels in regard to you, to protect and defend and guard you in all your ways [of obedience and service]. They will lift you up in their hands, so that you do not [even] strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and cobra; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. “Because he set his love on Me, therefore I will save him; I will set him [securely] on high, because he knows My name [he confidently trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never abandon him, no, never]. “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. “With a long life I will satisfy him and I will let him see My salvation.” AMP

Psalm 27; “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the refuge and fortress of my life – whom shall I dread? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though an army encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, even in this I am confident. One thing I have asked of the Lord, and that I will seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty [the delightful loveliness and majestic grandeur] of the Lord and to meditate in his temple. For in the day of trouble He will hide me in His shelter; in the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock. And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, in His tent I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.”

We watched a short video which brings a chilling reality to what happens to us when we fall into the 'status quo'! It’s called 
Faith Uprising by Planetshakers.

In summing up Travesty, I’d like to leave you with I Corinthians 2 and verse 12 in particular where it says; “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the [Holy] Spirit who is from God, so that we may know and understand the [wonderful] things FREELY given to us by God.” Paul is referencing the wisdom that God has now given the church, which had been a mystery and hidden, but with Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, that wisdom has now been revealed FREELY to us by the Holy Spirit. So, our revelations, illuminations and inspirations....have all come FREELY from Jesus through the Holy Spirit who now lives in us.  If it was FREELY given, how can we ever put a price tag on it? Do you think you could ever pay back the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit for all they've FREELY given to you? So why do you put your revelations, your illuminations or inspirations up for sale?  Seems crazy right...but in the Christian world its being done day in and out. Christians should not live in the status quo. Be a hero of faith in this generation.   Let’s not merchandize nor put a price tag on anything any longer which came freely through the cross of Calvary.

A quote from Michael Faraday, an English chemist and physicist says; “The Bible, and it alone, with nothing added to it nor taken away from it by man, is the sole and sufficient guide for each individual, at all times and in all circumstances.”

The gospel is free but it will cost you your life.