Monthly Archives: January 2013

“Way of the Samurai Sheep” > Page 3

Subtitle: “I’M NOT SUPERMAN”

Subtitlesub: “The Thousand Word Articles”

Why are some people extremely attracted to the good news of the Gospel, and others extremely repelled?  And two more questions that in an odd way relate to this. Do we try too hard, and in the wrong way? Have we created too many bells and whistles in our effort of trying too hard in the wrong way?

I hope you all feel sorry for me, because I am a cowboy trying to obey the Holy Spirit in embracing my sheephood. Most of you probably know that cowboys and sheep never really got along too well. I told one reader that the joke is on me! However, let me be quick to say that I am seeing such a new world between God and I that it has become my “delight” and “adventure” to pursue this trail! In other words, I’m loving it!

So…as I am seeing new things…I couldn’t help but notice a certain modus of operandi that Paul practiced!

“When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness – timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.” (I Cor. 2:1-5 NLT)

Now he goes on to explain that with more mature believers he goes into deeper things, but I’m relating this to our efforts to evangelize. In our own personal efforts to be a witness, do we try too hard in the wrong ways? We can never try too hard in the right ways, such as prayer, worship, study, and walking in God’s anointing, but how about other things we do because we are just so sure that if we answer every question and explain every option, surely, this one will be saved! If we can just be eloquent enough in our speaking! If we can sound smart enough, and come across “cool” enough, then surely some will be saved? Or does it have anything to do with any of that?

It seems plain to me that the Gospel itself is a test. First of all, Jesus revealed in John 6: 43-44, that no matter how hard you try to be Super Witness, (2nd cousin to Superman), no one comes to Jesus unless the Father draws them!

“But Jesus replied, Stop complaining about what I said. For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me…”

So here we are trying to be so impresive, and jumping through every hoop, when Paul said he deliberately tried to avoid impressing them, came to them in weakness, simply presented the Gospel story, and then waited to see who would be “attracted” to it, or not! We can tell the story standing on our head if we think it will help, but if the Father does not draw them, it is for nothing! So how does he do this? How is it decided who is drawn and who is not? The answer seems to lie in the Gospel message itself!

Jesus specifically commanded us to go into the whole world and preach the “Good News” (Gospel) to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved! (Mark 16:15-16) No fancy bells and whistles, simply tell the story of the Christ child who came to pay our price for sin on an old rugged cross, he died, and rose again! While you’re at it you might heal a few folks, cast out demons, and raise the dead! Like I said, we can never try too hard in the “right ways”, but folks, we need to relax and let the Gospel do what it is meant to do, because part of its’ function is to reveal the lovers of darkness!

If you are a born-again Christian today, can you explain why, when you heard the Gospel story, you were drawn to it and believed, but your best friend was not?

I think Paul gives us some answers in the very previous chapter of where we started.

“The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.” (I Cor. 1:18)

“We who are being saved”?

“So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1: 23-24)

“Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.” (1:21 NLT)

Paul, himself, calls his preaching foolish! And yet! Some of us when we hear it are strongly attracted to it, as silver and gold! Precious in our sight! While the world looks at it and mocks, ridicules, scoffs, and persecutes those who would believe such a stupid thing!

How do they fail to see the beauty of it? How do they fail to see the utter “LOGIC” that no man can save himself, and it only makes sense that a salvation by GRACE would be the only CORRECT answer? How do they not see it? How can they look at a scenic painting on a wall and laugh at you if you suggest it was the accidental result of an explosion in a paint factory, and yet swallow hook, line, and sinker that this whole universal cosmos is a complete freak accident?

CONCLUSION: I have written all this under the subject of embracing our sheephood, because…Paul understood that he did not have to be a Superman to get people saved. There is much more at work in the Gospel message than any mere man can manage. We need to be faithful to pray and “just tell the story”, say it in love, but then let go, and let God.

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“Samurai Sheep blip!”

Here is a quick spiritual blip that came to me as I was in prayer this morning.

Jesus is the greatest of warriors, but he is the warrior of love, a spiritual warrior, a warrior of righteousness, representing the Kingdom of God which operates by a different set of precepts and laws that are totally foreign to the ways of man. The Kingdom ways are so totally foreign to our own way of thinking, that it means a great transition in our own living and understanding for us to “follow” the Lord and produce the Kingdom in our own life.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT)

So…if the Lord is to be the Master we choose to follow…then what does it mean to be samurai for Christ?

It means we must embrace humility. Pride is our enemy, and we must learn what it truly means to be the “sheep” of his “flock”. Pride is amazingly deceitful in its ability to creep in on us.

“Look, I am sending you out as sheep  among wolves.” (Matt. 10:16 NLT)

Remember , Pride is Poison to the Anointing. (Selah).

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“The Way of the Samurai Sheep” > Page 2

SUBTILE: “I’M NOT SUPERMAN”

SUBTITLESUB: “The Thousand Word Articles”

PRIDE is POISON to the ANOINTING.

I would also dare to say that if you are not in Prayer, you are in Pride.

Why is this so important? The world wants to see real Christianity, and if Pride is Poison to the Anointing, then they are not seeing it if we are trying to be Mr. Superman. Let’s see if one of the greatest of Apostles can shed any light on this?

In II Corinthians 12: 5-10 we find Paul explaining: “That experience is worth boasting about, but I’m not going to do it. If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (NLT Version)

Now add to that what we pointed out earlier concerning the Church of Philadelphia, where Christ says, “You have little strength”, and then he opens a door for them that no man can close!

When we recognize our own spiritual poverty, (First Beatitude),  and humble ourselves to embrace our “sheeplikeness”, that is when God, our Shepherd, can come on strong! Like John the Baptist said, “I must decrease, and he must increase”.

I am the sheep; he is the Shepherd. Catch the vision!

Welcome to another page of “The Way of the Samurai Sheep”! Perhaps a totally ludicrous thought, and yet is it any more hard to understand, or visualize, than, “When I am weak, then am I strong?” Are we not basically saying the same thing? If there is such a thing as an undisciplined and disobedient sheep, then there is also such a thing as a disciplined and obedient sheep, and I call that, samurai!

The more I look at this, the more it seems that the greatest power lies in “humility”, which leads to “obedience”. So, the Way of a Samurai Sheep is the way of humility. We do not realize what a hard thing this is for us to do! Even Paul had to be guarded against pride, and so important was this that God assigned a tormentor to him just to make sure it happened!

Looking through the eyes of my sheephood has taught me to take my hands off of things, and spend more time in prayer! Remember the scripture where Jesus said, “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes, and harmless as doves.” (Matt 10:16) Not only does he tell us we are as sheep, but he goes on to tell us to be shrewd as snakes! Sheep are already pretty harmless, so the dove part is sort of a re-emphasise, but shrewd as snakes? What’s that all about?

Snakes have no hands! How do most snakes attack? With the mouth! We are to keep our hands off, but have a sword proceeding from our mouth! Whether it is in prayer, or quoting scripture, speaking our faith in God, binding the enemy, or whatever! Have enough faith in God to keep your hands out of it, and speak God’s will! (I hope this makes sense without a page on this alone, but this is part of the samurai sheep picture!) What I mean by “keep our hands off”, is simply to quit rushing ahead of God and trying to do things in our own power! We need to get back to the Anointing! All we’re doing is burning ourselves out and not showing the world what true Christianity is. The samurai sheep must learn to hear, and follow, as sheep do, but not rush ahead. This does require discipline and wisdom on our part. Wise as a serpent!

My 1,000 words are going fast, but…I don’t know how many times God is going to keep bringing us back to II Chronicles 7:14?  However, he does keep bringing us back, because it is the only hope for our future, and the first step of that spiritual formula is to “humble” oneself, or you get no further.

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

God, himself, resist the proud, but gives grace to the humble. We are so spiritually impoverished, the only way we accomplish anything good is by God’s grace, and even that is not our own, but it is God’s. What an honor it is, and it should be enough for us to simply be a vessel that God rides in on. What a powerful and glorious thing it is to be a part of what God does on earth! For us to be able to stand in the gap, and to know that God moved in the earth because of his love for us!

Pride is Poison to God using us! Superman is a myth, a lie from the devil! Paul knew the power of humility! However, it is true that the Super Shepherd has a flock of blessed sheep! Never underestimate what the Good Shepherd will do for those who are his own, and walk in his ways.

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“The Way of the Samurai Sheep” > Page One.

SUBTITLE: “I’M NOT SUPERMAN”

I have been anxious to start this series of articles. One reason I have been so anxious is because I do not know where this is going to take me? The thought of a samurai sheep totally intrigues me, but when I picture it I almost laugh! I definitely feel God leading me down this path and yet I don’t know where it actually goes, and where it actually ends up? I might be as surprised as anyone who reads this! I love it when God does this to me! I hope that you will find the vision of a samurai sheep as intriguing as I do, and be interested in where that vision takes us.

What makes me think there even is such a thing as samurai sheep? Why do I feel so strongly drawn this direction? Lets start with a short list:

1.) This path of embracing our “sheephood” has disciplines just like any path has. Every chosen path has its’ own disciplines, and if we desire to walk that path we must be willing to embrace those disciplines. I have a long history of equating the word “samurai” with the learning and practice of disciplines. A disciplined lifestyle. A focused lifestyle. Even as the Disciples were called “disciples” as they embraced the teachings and lifestyle of Christ. I even use the terminology in my book, “The Last Christmas of Jonah Joe”. I refer to Joe as being samurai for Christ! Therefore, if I am looking at the disciplines involved in belonging to Christ’s flock, and I desire to know what it means to have a flock, sheep, and Shepherd mentality, then I relate this to a sheep with a samurai attitude, the desire to be focused and dedicated to this vision.

2.) It is a path of “humility”, and if you do not think humility is a discipline, then I beg to differ. As Christians, humility should be high on our list of virtues, but as long as we see “ourselves” as Superman, or trying to be Superman, then how humble can we be? Believe me, embracing your sheepness will humiliate you. Is that the same thing? Well, it is something most of us don’t go around talking about, because? Yes, you get the picture. However, our Christ put it this way :

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matt. 5:3)

This was one of Christ greatest teachings, and I do not believe this is referring to financial poverty as much as it is embracing and recognizing how spiritually impoverished we all are. Everything we have actually belongs to our husband, the Christ! Without our Shepherd we are nothing but spiritual wrecks and dead sheep! (Which is what happens to sheep without a Shepherd.)

3.) In the chapter of Matthew 10, I find two interesting statements that are rather close together. Jesus calls his “Disciples” together and imparts to them authority to cast out evil spirits and heal diseases. Then in verse 16 he says:

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

Then he goes on to tell them how many things they will suffer while performing their ministry, for they truly are sent out like lambs of sacrifice, and yet they somehow accomplish great things before they die! They turn the known world upside down! But take note of vrs 34, same chapter, same teaching!

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace; but a sword.”

Do you see it? I send you out like “SHEEP”. I have not come to send peace, but a SWORD!

So we are sheep with a sword, but what does that mean?

The Samurai lived and died by his sword. It was his life, and his soul! We have a sword, too, but how does a sheep use a sword?

It is my goal to keep each of these articles at close to 1,000 words each. I might call them, “The Thousand Word Articles”. So lets see how much farther we can get?

Ephesians 6:17 tells us that our sword is the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. So do we pull out our leather Bible and hit the devil up aside the head with it? Do we try to run a heathen through with those golden edges? No, but just like Christ is pictured in Revelation coming back with a sword proceeding out of his mouth!

I personally believe, the Word has to be in our belly first, the deep parts of us, and it proceeds up out of our belly and out of our mouth. What proceeds out of our mouth?

Breath! Spirit! Words of God spoken by the force of breath, life, and Spirit! It is a living thing! And it comes out of our mouth, but whose is it? It is the sword of the Spirit! It belongs to Christ just like everything else and we are receiving it through marriage, but it is not us! We are the vessel the Word rides in on! As the sheep of his flock, when we get in trouble we speak his word and the Shepherd shows up to take care of his sheep! We caused the Shepherd to show up! We caused a move of God! But it is God who moved, not I! I simply declared to God, the angels, the devil, all the demons, and the circumstances what the Word of God says, and if I am indeed a sheep in his flock, and not someone trying to be Superman, but all the glory goes to God where it should be, then God’s will (and not mine) is going to be done!

SHEEP FOLLOW! Where God leads me I will follow and embrace his will for me. That is what a samurai sheep does. Job said, though he slay me, yet will I trust in him. (Job 13:15a)

We have started this subject with a slight overview of where we are going, but my 1,000 words are up, so until the next time!

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New Update on Jonah Joe!

We now have two ways of ordering “The Last Christmas of Jonah Joe”! I should have thought of this sooner! Our book continues to be carried in Brown County, Nashville Indiana, at the bookstore known as: “The Book Loft”, and they also do mail order! So if you would like to give them a call at 812-988-0202, they would be happy to ship you the book. I will add this phone number to our side bar information.

This is an amazing time we live in. As a baby-boomer, I do not find all these new technologies easy to keep up with, and as much as it baffles me in many ways, every effort I have made to learn even just a little has been well rewarded! As my wife and I were looking at our new website, and I explained to her that what we were actually looking at was a store! A store that someone can enter into, look around, and decide if they would like to make a purchase? How cool is that?

My little store only has one book to offer at this time, but I have four other books written, and all of this has very much inspired me to work towards getting them on the shelf of my store. What a tremendous day we live in. I’ve already chosen the second book and I am hard at work going through it again, in an effort to get it just right. I don’t know how God is going to do this, because all of this requires a certain amount of money to produce, and we all know how challenging finances can be. So one step at a time, I hope to eventually fill my little store with books that inspire us all to live a little closer to our Lord. Amen.

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Better Late than Never! / Jonah Joe!

Yes it is finally true! God sent an angel to help me out, and they created me a website in which “The Last Christmas of Jonah Joe” can be ordered, and paid for on PayPal!

This has been quite a quandary for me that really put a handicap on my Christmas plans for Jonah Joe. However, we have persevered, and there is a potential opportunity in the development stages that will take everything to another level if it works out! (More on that later.) I should know by March! In the meantime we continue to make slow but steady progress towards our goals. The website problem with PayPal has now been solved. Praise God!

We are only focusing on orders from America and Canada at this time, as overseas shipping is so expensive I would recommend waiting for the ebook, which we do plan to have before next Christmas.

I’m proud of the website we now have. Feel free to check it out and leave comments. To order “The Last Christmas of Jonah Joe”, simply click on this link: www.cowboyforchrist.webs.com

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“Mr. T”

SUBTITLE: “I’m not Superman – Part III”

For those of us who are old enough to remember, who can forget, Mr. T? He was a member of the “A – Team”. These were a group of ex-military men who could take on any mission, and somehow get it done. They were experts! The elite!  And Mr. T. was the muscle of the group. Rough and tough! A man’s man! Macho! With lots of gold chains hanging around his neck! You did not mess with, Mr. T, because he was big enough, bad enough, and strong enough to take you down if you did! He was a type of Superman. All of the “A – Team” were supermen. The best of the best with a reputation to protect! Every episode was another chance to prove they still had it. Whatever “it” was? Whatever “it” was, they had it, and it made them winners! Yes, Hollywood loves to portray that Superman is real, and we can be one too, if we try hard enough.

Sometimes the Church falls into a similar mode, as we have been talking about in the previous two parts of this article. We begin to believe that God’s power flowing through us is our power. Reality check! Never forget, we are just the vessel God shows up through! (And we might even fail at that!) We are the donkey Christ rode in on! We still live on a fault line! (See Part II)

Let me ask you this, “Who wrote the Bible?”

Did the Apostle John write the book of St. John, or did God write the book of St. John?

To the casual observer I’m sure it looked like a man named John sitting at a table and writing, but is that what was really going on? The Bible says it was written as God moved through men and inspired them with the words! (II Timothy 3:16) John was actually like a pen in God’s hand, as God wrote the Bible! We’re not supermen, were just a people who a super God can show up through!

I have a friend whose earlier life inspired this article. I am sure he would rather fail at trying to be Superman, than succeed at being a sheep. (And perhaps that is what he is doing?) We met quite unexpectedly, slowly got to know each other a little bit, and then he blew me away when he revealed, one day, that he almost had his Master’s Degree in theology! This man, who I had no clue was even a Christian, had been an ordained minister, extremely active in the Church, red-hot on fire for God, and believe me, he started preaching me a red-hot sermon right then and there, while my mouth hung open, and he had hardly even touched a Bible in years! Then he confessed to me that he had lived two lives.

My friend did not want his real name used, but his name starts with the letter “T”, and I could not resist naming him Mr.T, because in many ways that character fits the type of Christian that he was! He even laughed when I told him the name I had chosen! (He knew it fit.) Yes, my friend was a “Superman Christian”, until the day some things went very bad, and in his opinion the Church failed to be there for him, and he walked out of the Church determined he would have nothing more to do with it.

There are two sides to every story and I have only heard the one, so I am trying to be careful to walk a line here. Mr. T told me some amazing things that he had seen and experienced. Fasting, prayer, and spiritual warfare had been a regular part of his walk with God. He had seen demons manifest in people, and been a part of demons being cast out. When he preached, the anointing was strong and the message red-hot. However, today he has the nick-name of “The Runner”, because he is running from God.

I understand there is a place for “hardcore” discipline and sacrifice, in order to seek a great anointing from God, but even that can be tainted with “pride”, and when it is, a fall is coming! I have walked that path, too, and if my friend is guilty of this, I confess to being guilty, too! I have learned that it is only a constant reminder of what I really am, a sheep, that keeps me in my proper place while God moves through me. In all the seeking and learning that I so much love to do, and all the thrill of when a new piece of the spiritual puzzle falls in place for me, I must never forget that I am still the prey, and not the hunter, therefore, I must stay on my knees in prayer.

I am not the power, and the power is not me. Sheep are weak and helpless creatures, but I have a real big Shepherd, and because he is my Shepherd, he has a habit of showing up whenever I need him! Not because I have any power, but because I have a love relationship with someone who does! I am the apple of his eye! I am a treasure he jealously guards! But I must embrace that, and be at peace with that, if I expect it to work. And yes, I play a part in that. I hope to make the next article about what it means to submit to the “Disciplines of Sheephood”. We have a path to walk, too! Learning to follow an invisible voice can be a real tricky thing! However, it is a powerful way to live!

In one of my short conversations with Mr. T, he continued to stand by the need for what I call hardcore Christianity. In hardcore Christianity, everyone is expected to live up to a certain measure that some supersaint has somehow exemplified, and usually there is no allowance made for the different abilities and callings we all have, therefore, making it very hard for most of us to live up to the imaginary line, and end up in a condition of spiritual burn-out, break-down, or just plain quitting. (This is the Superman Syndrome.) In this atmosphere we feel as if we constantly have to prove ourselves, but as the sheep, I’m no longer worried about proving anything. I am what I am by the grace of God, and God will either lift me up, or put me down, and I’m okay with that. Man is not the lifter of my head! God is! I am at peace in my Shepherd. I rest all things in him. My eye is not on some spiritual mark on a Jerusalem wall somewhere, but my eyes are on my Shepherd, and him alone. He knows what he has called me, and gifted me to do. I choose to rest in that.

When I was in my mid-forties, I decided I wanted to run a marathon. Now, I had always been a sprinter and running long distance was new to me. I was greatly surprised when I actually began to fall in love with it, and I put myself into heavy training. Yes, I loved this running long and slow thing, but I wanted to go faster! So I read many books, and I applied the training methods over a period of 3 years, but I never was able to become a fast long distance runner! Even though I loved it, and trained hard over a long period of time, I simply did not have the gifting to be fast! I was maxed out running a 7 minute per mile pace, while the winner ran 5 minutes a mile, or less! Actually, I could not even hold a 7 minute pace for the distance of a marathon, but did I finish the race?

Yes, I did, and I was not last by any means. I was 48 when I ran the race, but there were those even slower than I who was working just as hard, or harder. There are many things that go into our relationship with our Lord, and what he is leading us to do. Water finds its own level, and every runner finds his own pace. I learned to run my own race based on the abilities God had given me, and the level of training I was able to maintain. I know of many people who pushed so hard that they ended up injured, giving-up, could not finish, and some have even died of a heart attack!

When I have a passion for something, I put all my heart into it, but that does not mean I am meant to burn myself out trying to do it. It does not mean I am meant to lose my joy while doing the work of God. I like to whistle while I work with God. We have taken too much on ourselves. We need to get back to letting God be God, and us being his SHEEP.

So what are the disciplines of a sheep?

We’ve heard enough of their bad points, but what are some of their strengths?

In Part IV, I’m going to try to take a look at something I’m calling “The Way of the Samurai Sheep”.

For every chosen lifestyle there is a path, and for every path there are disciplines, this is what I call being Samurai, so what does a disciplined, dedicated, discipled, samurai sheep look like? Good question. This should be fun! Next week: “The Way of the Samurai Sheep”!!!

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