Now I do not consider myself to be a fearful man; after faithfully serving 24 years in the military (in a combat twice – Beirut, Lebanon 83-84 and Port a Prince, Haiti 94), traveled abroad for many many years, been shot once, brought life in and took life out of the world there is not much else that can move me to fear.  I guess the only thing I am really afraid of is my self.  I do not trust my self as far as I can throw me.  I do not know about you my friend, but my selfish heart is deceitfully wicked above all things.  But, there is not much that really scares me, except the word of God.  If we do not have a healthy fear of God and His word we have missed the mark and have failed to know God. We should be extremely terrified of God to the point we will be obedient to Him.  Why because no obedience, no fear or respect for God.  We have lost the respect and fear of God in the sugar coated love and lollipop message of cheap grace.  Well my friend grace is not cheap it cost Jesus His life and if we desire to experience grace it will cost us our life too.  Do we not realize God could destroy us with a mere wave of His hand? Pastors, teachers, and evangelists that teach God is only a God of love do not really know God.  Their reality of truth has been blinded by the greed and presumption in their heart.  It has been my experience if you see a huge church filled with many people the message of the Cross is not being taught there. The Gospel message does not draw big crowds, Jesus found that out when He had 5,000 and then 4,000 come to see Him do some miracles and fill their bellies, but when He went after their heart (the target of the word of God) they had no stomach for the truth just like today.

To understand God the Bible tells us who and what we must know, “But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:23)  There they are, what a bit of revelation!  To know God we must understand God’s “lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness.” My friend not just His “lovingkindness,” but His “judgment” and His  “righteousness.”  Any time we talk about judgment people clam up, we do not like being judged even by God, well we better get use to be judged now because if we wait until later (say when we get to heaven) we will pay a greater, heavier price, and endure a greater loss to be able to enter in to the next things God has for us.  And God’s “righteousness” do we really think we can wrap our minds and heart around God’s “righteousness?” Why do we sing songs to God telling Him how righteousness He is?  I think God already knows how righteous, holy, and longsuffering He is. It is us who must learn and my friend we will never learn how righteous, holy, and longsuffering God is by singing or dancing. Oh no my friend, this is an acquired knowledge and understanding that comes by way of soul searching and honest reflection as to who we are in God, being pummeled to our knees by life, enduring God’s dealings and judgments, by experiences, trial and error, losing to gain, God filling the solitude places in our heart after we have willfully allowed Him to empty us of the world and our self.  These are the making places in God we shun for the leeks and melons of the pabulum denominational prosperity and cheap grace messages.

There is a verse in 1 Corinthians that really brings me to my knees and causes me to shiver with fear and trembling, which is a good thing in our lives if we are going to have the respect and honor for God and His word.  Paul too had this concern and fear as well as any person who recognizes the inability they have within themselves as compared to the task that God has called them to.  In Corinthians Paul writes, “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.  Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27) The word “castaway” (in the NKJV disqualified) is Strong’s #96, and is translated      not standing the test, not approved.  Never forget the truth of the word of God is found in the words as the Holy Spirit ordered them in the text and in Spirit.  Here Paul is saying after I have run my race and finished my course, after I have preached the word of God to millions, after I have done all of these things God would find me not standing the test, not approved or disqualified. Maybe this article is for all of the pastors, teachers, and evangelists who read my articles I do not know, but I do know I do not want to be a castaway, disqualified when I stand before God. The word “castaway” is further translated, unfit for, unproved, spurious, reprobate.  How could we be a part of the Gospel message, proclaim it with all zealousness, with all our God-given strength and ability, but when we have finished our life and our race is done we are found by God to be, unfit, unproved, spurious, reprobate.  I do not know about you my preacher friend, but this gives me great concern.  I do not want miss heaven.  It all goes back to; it is not what we do for God that counts, but how we do things for God.  I wonder what the “test” is in the first translation of the word?  Is there a test we will have to pass to be able to enter in?  You bet there is.  The next two words in the translation tells us the test we must pass to be able to enter in, we must be approved. The “castaway” was not approved, or he never qualified for the position, oh he held the position and many looked to him for guidance and leadership (like many pastors and leaders in the church today), but he was never approved by God.  Did you know we must be approved or qualified for positions in God?  God is not going to give you His things just because you have asked Him into your life, oh no.  Forgiveness for sin yes, free (except for Jesus it cost Him His heavenly and earthly life) for the asking, but there is a process of spiritual growth and development we must willfully enter into to be approved for God’s things.  It is no different than going to a bank and trying to get money for a loan.  The loan officer says, show me what you have, what credentials, what collateral can you back this loan with?  Well, God is no different.  God says, “show me how much you love Me through your obedience, how much of your self-life have you willfully allowed Me to kill in you, how much of the world have you allowed Me to empty from your life?”  What have you done with the things I have already invested in you?”  “What have you learned of me being humble and lowly in heart?” These my friend are the questions and more God will enlarge us with to see if we qualify for the next thing God has for us.  This is the process God uses to find if we are fit or a reprobate, one who knows not right from wrong, a scoundrel, a dishonest person, one who knows no honor or integrity.  This life-long process while on earth God uses to mold and shape our character and nature into the very character and nature, the very image (icon) of Jesus Christ. I do not know what God will use to add to our spiritual growth and development in our next life, but you can take it to the bank, God will have a process whereby we will continue to grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

When we (me and my family) were heading over to Germany the pastor of the church we were attending gave us a warm send off and the gift he gave me personally was this verse, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.  (2 Timothy 4:16)  Many times God brought this verse back to my attention. Every time I would read past it the Holy Spirit would prompt my spirit and my heart to the importance of this verse for me and those who I minister to.  It is a shame the pastor and I did not stay in touch over the years, he took a broad denominational way and I took the narrow path less traveled.  I tried contacting him a few times, but he wanted nothing to do with us, seems he forgot his many words of mentorship to me and this verse.  I hope he has not become a castaway.

One of the main ways we can become a castaway is to deliver the word of God in a spirit that is not consistent with the Holy Spirit.  There is to be a flow and stream from the Holy Spirit that comes out of the vessel sharing the word of God to the people.  This is why the vessel must be of a clean heart and clean hands.  In the Old Testament the High Priest had to purify their body and clothing before they could speak for God, if not often they were killed by man or God depending what was going on.  If the vessel of God shares the word of God out of anger, wrath, or bitter spirit then the people will receive the anger, bitterness, and wrathful spirit in their heart. Or if the vessel of God shares the word of God out from a fore knowledge of some sin or problem in the church then the people will receive the word of God in confusion and strife, because the word will be mixed with the facts of this foreknowledge.  When I travel I go out of my way NOT to find out what is going on in the church.  This way I can speak out from a clean heart and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to the church what they need to hear.  James gives us the standard to what the vessel of God should be and how he should deliver the word of God. “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”  (James 3:17-18)

One of the fastest ways to become disqualified or a castaway is to sow the word of God in “partiality” and/or “hypocrisy.”  Again when we know what is going on in a church or the “he said she said” we lose the Spirit of God and all that comes with it.  Please notice the order:  “the wisdom that is from above” (the order of things in the Bible are critical for understanding) “first pure,” “then peaceable,” “gentle and easy to be intreated,” “full of mercy and good fruits.” How could someone sharing the word of God be a castaway when they share the word that is pure (we must have a pure heart and clean hands), peaceable (the peace that passes all understanding that only God gives), gentle and easy to talk with (like Jesus who said He is gentle and lowly of Spirit), and one who is “full of mercy” (not one who gives mercy when needed, but one where mercy flows out of their bellies like a stream of water) and “good fruits” (one whose works are good and noble, one whose works have been accepted by God to plant into the ground to reproduce again and again).  I do not know about you my pastor, teacher, evangelist friend, but I do not want to be a castaway or disqualified. I will be honest I have tried to do my very best, not in doing the many things for Him, but to become the vessel I need to become to be able to speak for God.  What an awesome responsibility to be able to speak for God.  Maybe that is the reason why doing in God instead of becoming is wrong and will end us separated from God forever, the stakes are high.  Let us see how low we can go to get over the bar.