To Walk Among Giants

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(Photo of me at Muir Woods, California – Spring 2017)

Proverbs 4:23…”Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

What are your ambitions? Your dreams? If you could achieve just one thing to a high level, what would it be? For me, I want to walk among the giants. I want to leave this earth having made a Godly difference in a giant way. I once believed that ambition included fame, adoration, my name…known all over. God relieved me of that belief. When I asked him to make me good soil for his word to be sown (the mantra of this site), the very first place he brought the plow was to my massive ego. He determines my steps, so I don’t know what’s planned for tomorrow, but for today, none of those things are in the cards for me. So can I still walk among the giants?

I study Billy Graham like he’s a laboratory. Same thing with C.S. Lewis. I comb their work seeking the essence of their messages. How do they communicate so effectively, one through speech, and the other through words? But I’m not C.S. Lewis, and anyone that’s ever heard me give a public speech, knows full well I’m not Billy Graham. I’m Gary Abernathy. God had to first teach me that I was made unique as are all his creations. I have a purpose. My job is to fulfill that purpose, and not to emulate the giants…but to walk among them. The definition of giant had to be changed in my mind. So my ego was churned up by the plow (often painfully, sometimes embarrassingly so), and the influence of worldly things that filled my heart were ripped out, and God made fertile soil for which he could begin to plant. “Everything you do flows from it.” I needed a heart transplant, and God’s been in surgery doing that for years now.

Being saved by the blood of Christ, we are eternal beings. Eternal. We are not complete in this temporary state. Neither was C.S. Lewis, and neither is Billy Graham. Acceptance of the gift of Christ, is to sign the waiver for construction to begin on your eternal destiny – perfection. To be fully Christ-like. We are 100% destined to be perfect in the sight of God, and so, we are already giants no matter our skills and purposes, our reach and scope. To begin to comprehend such is the beginning of finding true purpose. God sends this blog out to all corners of His earth. But when it reaches a reader in Malaysia, or New Zealand, Taiwan, India, Saudi Arabia, the UK, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Russia, Peru, Mexico, or all the readers in the USA, it’s not my name being spread, it’s His seeds. We are sowing seeds. Growing giants.

What is flowing from your heart? Anger? Depression? Confusion? Addiction? Worldly influence? “Above all else, guard your heart.” What is being poured into us is what will flow back out. My favorite Billy Graham quote is this one:

“God has given us two hands – one to receive with and the other to give with. We are not cisterns made for hoarding; we are channels made for sharing.”

Our choice in this formula is in what we receive. The rest is pure function of how we were designed. Godly in, Godly out. Or, Garbage in, Garbage out. All of us have a certain degree of garbage flowing from us, and it’s our responsibility to test ourselves constantly for it, and to remove the impurities that were received. Tainted seeds die in the ground. Understand? This is not me preaching from the place of perfection, but explaining from the place of having learned and in process of doing.

If I’m to walk among the giants in the purpose of sowing seeds, what flows out from me to you must be of Godly quality. I’m wasting my time and energy if I’m tossing out dead things. Where do you wish to walk? Among the dead? Or among the eternal?

Gary Abernathy – Seed Sower

 

 

 

The Joyfulness of a Man

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(Photo by me on a tight rocky trail in the NC Mountains – Oct 2016)

Psalm 16: 9-11…”Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

A few nights ago my family ordered Chinese for dinner, and there were the usual batch of fortune cookies tossed in the bag. I opened mine and it read – “The joyfulness of a man prolongs his days.” Being a man who reads Psalms and Proverbs on the daily, I instantly recognized the sentiment as Biblical truth. Throughout the teaching of scripture, joy is presented as a primary (and eternal) result of God’s gift of salvation. If we truly understand just what it is that’s happened to us in accepting Christ, we couldn’t possibly be anything but joyful. The Apostles speak to that constantly in their messages. Paul giving us the ultimate example as he sings praise in prison chains. Yet, we live here in this world, and it’s forever bringing us back down to its dreadful level. We lose sight of the light as we continue on God’s narrow path. Darkness creeps in on us without warning sometimes. When it is said to – “Put on the Armor of God” – we get this imagery of being a warrior fighting off obvious foes and their seen weapons. In reality, it’s our joy that’s most often left unguarded, and it’s by stealth it comes under attack.

The fantastic singer-songwriter, Lucinda Williams, has a song titled, “Joy,” that I thought of when starting this post. “You took my joy – I want it back.” She’s going all over looking for her joy that an abusive man had taken from her. It’s worth a listen on YouTube. The piece Lucinda is missing is she’s looking for her joy here and she’s never going to find it. We must go to the source. The Shepherd is our joy. Lasting, eternal – joy – only derives from the Spirit. Ask any mega-lottery winner how “joyful” they are a few years into their winnings. Earthly things cannot and will not provide lasting joy.

“The joyfulness of a man prolongs his days,” said my cookie. Proverbs 17:22 says…”A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” If you do a Google search of – “What does the Bible say about Joy” – you’ll receive a long list of links. I prefer the website, Open Bible, as they provide all scripture links related to a search topic. This is a good assignment for both believer and non-believer. Do you have a cheerful heart or is your spirit crushed? Learn why to either answer.

I’m just like most everyone else and I do not enjoy being unhappy. For a great deal of my life I didn’t know I had a choice in the matter. I’ve learned, by the gift of the Spirit, that I not only have a choice, it’s already been made for me. If I’m not filled with joy, it’s only because I’ve allowed the world to temporarily take from me what it cannot produce. Misery loves company. I had wandered from the safety of my Shepherd. Many a lost sheep aren’t aware enough to turn back off the path they’ve taken. But we are to run back to the shelter of our Lord, Jesus Christ. It is He with an easy yoke and light burden (Matthew 11:30). It is His pure love that provides true joy. His Spirit, living within us, is the only source of – Joy.

How do we gain eternal joy? By continually pouring provided joy outwards. Hint…The source well is bottomless.

Gary Abernathy

WheWMMav The joThe

 

 

 

 

 

What Can Be Trusted?

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(Photo taken by me in Savannah, GA May 2017 – Madison Square & St. John’s Church)

Proverbs 3: 5-12…”Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Honor the Lord with your wealth, with your firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.”

I was standing on the balcony of the admission’s building of the Savannah College of Art & Design this past weekend, and across the way was the cross atop the gorgeous steeple of St. John’s Church in Madison Square. I’m like a young boy with these things, in that I still have that youthful amazement when gazing on such glory. In that space of Savannah there is a lot for the eyes and brain to absorb. It’s stunning in its nature, architecture, and history. But it’s the cross overseeing it all. I began thinking about – trust.

The headquarters of the infamous General Sherman are right beside that church. His “March to the Sea” ended in that square. Southerners revile his name, because his “hard hand of war” ruthlessly slaughtered many thousands to demoralize the Confederacy and bring an end to America’s Civil War. Yet, Sherman also liberated thousands of slaves along that same march. There are no good guys in war. Only winners, losers, and the innocents caught up in the game. Slavery in America co-existed with deep faith, and it was God who brought them a deliverer for their trust placed in Him.

Also in that same square is the first “Lodge of Perfection” of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, issued by the “Mother Council of the World” in nearby Charleston, SC. The creepy and mysterious 33 degree Freemasons. Albert Pike, the former Confederate General, who is the only Confederate with a statue of remembrance still to this day in Washington, D.C., and his gang of whatever they are. Trust them? No thanks. But still, I see that cross overlooking their doings, too.

Then there is the Sorrel-Weed House, considered the most haunted in Savannah, a city well-known for its spooks. The house first belonged to a wealthy shipping merchant named, Francis Sorrel. He fell in love with one of his slaves, a beautiful girl named, Molly, and the two of them romped around until being discovered by his wife, Matilda. Matilda leaped from the second story balcony to her death in the courtyard below. A few days later, Molly was found hanging from a noose in the carriage house. It’s said that even now, the two women haunt this home. What a sordid example of man’s most repeated sins – greed and sexual immorality. Trust in that? But yet, there is the cross rising above the home.

The history of this square goes all the way back to the Revolution, and its name is in honor of America’s 4th President, and framer of the Constitution – James Madison. In the square is a statue of memorial for, William Jasper, of the 2nd Continental Regiment of South Carolina, who was fatally wounded in the American and French failed attempt to break the British lines, which began at that square.

So there I stood on that balcony with my oldest daughter, named – Madison – overlooking all of the mind-blowing history of that one small area, and listening to her explain what she does for her work there as a student ambassador for SCAD. Staring at that cross and thinking about trust. She occasionally works sitting at the desk inside the doors of that building welcoming guests and potential students. I joked that she should say to those that need to wait, “Why don’t you go stroll around my square (Madison) and I’ll come get you when it’s time.” More proud of her I could not be, as she soon will enter her sophomore year. Madison is a performing arts major. She kinda likes the drama. I think God placed her in middle of one of the most dramatic squares in American history for a reason. I trust Him.

What can be trusted? We tend to assume that the times we are currently living are out of control, and all that came before might have been bad, but they weren’t as crazy as the present. Wrong. God is always in control as the chaos of man rages wild. That cross looking over this particular square symbolic of His ever present status.  In Proverbs, and many times in scripture, we are instructed not to put our trust in our own understanding, but to trust the Lord. There is a plan, and by submitting to his will, we will prosper within that plan. It’s the submitting where man takes issue. And places like Madison Square remind us of the tragedy we leave behind.

Today finds my family in ongoing trials and uncertainty. It also finds us prospering in God’s promise to our rendering trust in Him. In God We Trust. Amen.

Gary Abernathy

Is the Pope Right? Is it better to be an atheist than a bad Christian?

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Matthew 7: 13-14…(Red Letters – Words of Christ) – “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Full disclosure: I’m not Catholic and I don’t trust the intentions of the current Pope. I haven’t since moment one of his mysterious coming about, and I do not still today. For that very reason, because I also don’t trust myself, I pay attention to what he says. We are no different a people today than those that eventually nailed Jesus to that cross. I know this about myself, and I know this about humanity, and so, I keep my mouth shut about the teaching of the Pope. Mostly. Jesus shocked the world as it was with his words…so does this Pope. I might not trust him, but that doesn’t mean at all I don’t listen to what he says and attempt to process the information. End of disclosure.

On Thursday, February 23rd, Pope Francis speaking at a morning mass, made the statement that it’s better to be an atheist, than a scandalizing Catholic. The exact quote is this: “So many Christians are like this, and these people scandalize others. How many times have we heard – all of us, around the neighborhood and elsewhere – But to be a Catholic like that, it’s better to be an atheist.” As he often does, his words have set off a firestorm. I’ve read a lot of the social media comments on the various posts, and they are exactly what we’ve all come to expect in today’s wildly heated rhetoric. “False prophet, anti-Christ, evil, etc.” But……………is he right?

Immediately after Jesus Christ spoke the Golden Rule (common to all religion) as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew –  (7:12) “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” – he speaks to the wide and narrow gates. Christ doesn’t randomly order things when he’s teaching. Those two are connected by grand purpose. 1. Here is the one simple rule that all goodness on earth will teach from beginning to end. It sums up the entirety of the Creator’s law. 2. Though you must follow the law, you’re incapable of doing so because of the disease of sin, so I’m here to fulfill the law for everyone. To create the path to life. To save you. Very few will sincerely follow the path I create.

Is it better to believe there is no God at all, than it is to acknowledge that God exists but to not live in accordance to his law? To claim the benefits of the path of Christ, but to not “put in the work” of the Kingdom? The problem with what the Pope has decreed is that our works, no matter how great or small, have zer0 to do with our salvation. And the problem with what those Christians that are like that is…they have never found that narrow gate. Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you’ll never see it even if you’re standing directly in front of it. Big glaring arrows point to it screaming – “THIS WAY TO LIFE. GO THIS WAY.” Won’t see it. It’s the same as wisdom’s call in the Old Testament.

“Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech.” (Proverbs 1: 20-21). “But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you – when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord.” (Proverbs 1: 24-27).

“Bad Catholics,” as the Pope puts it, or bad Christians in general, aren’t of Christ, they are of the world’s religious concept of him. When we sincerely come to Christ the Holy Spirit is sent to us. Jesus lives within us. A beacon that will hone in on that narrow gate, and transform our worldly concepts to righteous, eternal life. We begin to become the keepers of His law, not by our own doing, but by the presence of Christ living within us. This process is transformation. The length of the process is anyone’s guess. God will use us as per his plan. I myself, having the spirit and that beacon of light, most certainly am not fully transformed, nor do I know when I ever will be, but do I expect it while still alive on this earth? I certainly do. I can testify that even today as I stand, I’m world’s apart from the man I looked at in the mirror even 5 years ago. The process is noticeable. The successor to Peter should know this the same as I do. So what point is he trying to make? It’s better not to believe at all? I can’t buy that. The slightest bit of faith will draw Christ’s visit eventually. Whether the door is opened and Jesus is let in, is the decision of the person in that moment. And they will know it’s happening. The atheist doesn’t even believe there is ever a door to open.

Let’s take another polarizing world leader for example: President of the United States, Donald Trump. It’s clear to any Christian with the Spirit, that Donald Trump has either not had “the moment,” or he’s very early in the process of transformation. So, toss him in the Pope’s declaration if that’s the case. Because he’s certainly used the imagery and words of faith to rise to his position. Most Christians voted for him. I’ve said little about him since becoming elected. I’m watching. I opposed him very loudly in the Republican primaries. It was a brutal eye-popping experience. If that crowd around him are Christians, then they have a God-given purpose that allows for a lot of things that don’t jive in a Christian nature. They intentionally painted an actual Spirit-filled Christian, Marco Rubio, as a former homosexual that engaged in wild sexual bubble parties. Doing this through their own “fake news” sites. But they’ll never admit that. I saw it. And it hurt Senator Rubio’s campaign tremendously. The type of Christians the Pope refers to ate it up with a big spoon, and sent it back out gleefully. A “bad Christian” can do a whole lot of damage in this world. One could make the argument in this instance for a kind, considerate human atheist, being far more preferable than that type of Christian.

However, I’m watching President Trump intensely. I listen to almost every public speech and announcement he makes. There is certainly still that determined  purpose within him, but I also see change continuing to progress. It’s VERY faint, I’ll grant you that, and you have to know what you’re looking for…but it’s there. A softening here, a rounding out there…subtle…but sincere. For example his revised stance on the “Dreamers.” His heart has been moved. That’s the Spirit. Not him. It will be an interesting study in transformation (or proof that he never was converted) the next 4 years. I suspect that by 2020, you’ll see a MUCH different President Trump than the one you see today. Because I do fully believe he’s a seeker. And I have to take his word that he’s been saved. The proof of that will be in his further transformation. Do I prefer that man over a Godless human? Every single time. Because I know that he’s moving towards the perfect ideals of our creation. So, Pope Francis, while I do understand your point, I must disagree. It’s a reckless statement that causes the very thing you’re railing against – scandalizing.

But who am I to question the Pope? I’m just a man hacking my way through the underbrush of a tiny path. But I sure do see that glorious light in front of me. Do you?

Gary Abernathy

 

 

 

Feeling Ever So Tiny

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1 Samuel 17: 41-47…”Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. He looked David over and saw that he was a little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. He said to David, ‘Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?’ And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. ‘Come here,’ he said, ‘and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!’ David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.’ “

I’ve recently returned from a great adventure in England and Scotland. My feet strolled the streets royalty have criss crossed, and my heart soared at magnificent works of architecture and achievement, done by human hands for the glory of our God. The origins of Western Civilization rushed at me around every turn, and God’s presence walked beside me on every path. The souls of great humans gone before stared at me from their tombs and haunts, and the ghosts of the lost who took the wrong paths poked at me from their dark spaces beyond my meager present. It was a daily exercise in being overwhelmed.

How puny a creation I must be to even dare to set foot in the works of the greats? Their massive presence filling up the space inside the walls of a structure such as Westminster Abbey. Darwin at my feet, scoffing at the joke that I am, while Chaucer tweaks me to my left getting the inside joke of the hat I brought along with the image of his chanticleer. T.S. Eliot, from his tomb, surely sensing what an idiot I found myself to be, sending my eyes to words of his that read…”Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” I went too far. Way too far. So did David in the scripture above, as the giant Philistine warrior stood disgusted he would even dare to speak. I was in so over my head in the United Kingdom words cannot describe.

Intellectuals greeted me and engaged me. In London, I strolled the city with a man with more knowledge in the dust of his jacket than I possess in my entire lifetime. In Edinburgh, Scotland, I walked with a woman owning a doctorate in Scottish History and specializing in the Christian heritage of the land. Cambridge paired me with an elderly woman so intensely steeped in the Christian heritage of the highest schools of learning on earth, that I barely dared to breathe a word in response so as not to give away my shame of ignorance. Even my restaurant manager in Cambridge, at a lovely place named, The Varsity, possessed a brain so far exceeding my own as he told me stories of the ties between Cambridge and Jerusalem, that I began to wish I had never met him…so maybe, I wouldn’t feel as stupidly tiny as I felt at that moment in front of his establishment.

I am but a speck of dirt in God’s creation.

Or as it is said in the Sayings of Agur in the 30th Proverb, “Surely I am only a brute, not a man; I do not have human understanding. I have not learned wisdom, nor have I attained to the knowledge of the Holy One.”

But as with Agur, I know where to find these things. I know to whom Greatness is reserved. I know His Son. He intercedes for me. He sends me. He gives me purpose. He uses me. He loves me. David, too, was a puny speck of dirt. These things do not matter. God matters.

In the picture above, I was strolling the “Path of Scholars” in Cambridge, England. C.S. Lewis, in poor health during his 9 years as a resident fellow at Magdalene College, would walk the same path. Many great names did the same, easing their souls, finding inspiration for great works and important studies. And there I was…the stupid speck of dirt…having the gall to walk the same path. All of us feel tiny in life sometimes. This is a good thing. I wholly believe God had many purposes for sending me there, and that one of them was the continuing process of destroying what was once a large and flourishing ego of self. Thank you, Lord. Continue to purge me and refill me.

Are you feeling small in this world? Invisible? Afraid to speak because your ignorance will show? Know that there is a God. He will deliver you. Transform you. Love you. Call out…
Gary Abernathy

 

 

Equal Justice

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Proverbs 11:1…”The LORD detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him.”

God provided man with free will. Since the beginning, man has used that free will to exert dominance over each other starting with, Cain and Abel. “Oh, God finds you more favorable huh? Ok. I’m just going to kill you. Solves that.” And on we’ve gone. All of human history is an ongoing story of who dominates who and the inevitable judgment to follow. What’s truly fascinating, is that each new generation of would-be dominators believes they’ve invented something new. This current age in America a prime example.

Equal Justice has never been known in the world. It’s a fantasy in a worldly sense. Justice is extremely real spiritually. There is equal justice and it will be applied. For that, we can be absolutely certain. The cross was the judgment. Christ took all of it. Our salvation. But still, despite the ultimate gift, man’s free will prefers short-sighted, ignorant, worldly fantasy. Spawned by the sentiment of Genesis 16:12…”He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” There are over 100 references in biblical scripture to “weighted scales.” Do a Google search using that pairing. You’ll receive them.

Recently, I witnessed a young Puerto Rican man and a young African American man, friends, performing in a skit of improvised quick wit. The one kid, in complete innocent humor, referenced the enslavement of the other kid and his would-be selling on the block. Because of the preferred status of the 2 races in play, the joke was absorbed by all as simply – awkwardly acceptable from whom it was given. I made no outward expression at all. It was a trap of the most deadly kind. The psychology at play was that currently, it’s quite ok for race defamation of even the lowest kind, as long as it’s the races who’ve most recently seen evil persecution placed upon them doing it. That’s not equal justice…that’s just the next form of persecution rising. But nobody sees that. Man does not wish to see that. God’s equally weighted scale doesn’t operate in that fashion. Evil does not repay evil on human terms. Justice belongs to God alone.

Man is simply obsessed with these shells we’re in. The flesh. All evil revolves around the desires of something that lasts but a breath and then returns to the dust from which it came. We are not flesh and bones. We are eternal souls. Pastor, Max Lucado, posted on Facebook the day of this writing the following insight: “When God sees you, he sees his Son, not your sin.” That’s the identity of the believer. Jesus. What shell that believer happens to be in on earth makes no difference in any possible way. It’s a shell. God sees either a soul bound for judgment or a soul that’s been redeemed. All of those souls equally guilty under spiritual law. It’s not a difficult concept to grasp; we just simply don’t want to. God’s Kingdom is the coming equality. Man will never achieve it. Man will just continue on the cycle of replacing dominance with dominance. In a modern sense, consider rival street gangs. If one kills a member of another, the other kills two of it in revenge. This cycle never stops. Who will dominate who? This is all that man’s sinful heart cares about. Today’s equality warriors, cloaked in all their self-perceived robes of righteousness, are only in truth seeking revenge on the past generations of dominators. Then they will exert themselves into the same role and become the enemy they were fighting. It’s the work of Satan. Not their desire for deserved justice, but their gall to believe they have the right to administer it.

Seek your creator. In the wisdom and knowledge of, Proverbs, God gives us the map of how to ‘get along’ in this world. Study that book daily. Absorb the call most will ignore. The path is tiny and few will enter the Kingdom. Proverbs teaches us what the path looks like.

Proverbs 16

  1. To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue.
  2. All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD.
  3. Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.
  4. The LORD works out everything to its proper end – even the wicked for a day of disaster.
  5. The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.
  6. Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD evil is avoided.
  7. When the LORD takes pleasure in anyone’s way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them.
  8. Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice.
  9. In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.
  10. The lips of a king speak as an oracle, and his mouth does not betray justice.
  11. Honest scales and balances belong to the LORD; all the weights in the bag are of his making.
  12. Kings detest wrongdoing, for a throne is established through righteousness.
  13. Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value the one who speaks what is right.
  14. A king’s wrath is a messenger of death, but the wise will appease it.
  15. When a king’s face brightens, it means life; his favor is like a rain cloud in spring.
  16. How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!
  17. The highway of the upright avoids evil; those who guard their ways preserve their lives.
  18. Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
  19. Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.
  20. Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD.
  21. The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction.
  22. Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent, but folly brings punishment to fools.
  23. The hearts  of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction.
  24. Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
  25. There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.
  26. The appetite of laborers works for them; their hunger drives them on.
  27. A scoundrel plots evil, and on their lips it is like a scorching fire.
  28. A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.
  29. A violent person entices their neighbor and leads them down a path that is not good.
  30. Whoever winks with their eye is plotting perversity; whoever purses their lips is bent on evil.
  31. Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.
  32. Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.
  33. The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.

 

Jesus is King. Justice belongs to the Lord. Listen. Believe. Live.

Gary Abernathy

The Role of Bible Prophecy

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Psalm 16…A miktam of David…

“Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.’ I say of the holy people who are in the land, ‘They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.’ Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips. Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

If you ask me, this Psalm of David is prophecy for all the faithful. This is where the redeemed should be looking when they seek answers to the unknown…to the fearful sights, actions and paths of the world. It isn’t just David worshipping…this is David giving us the answer to what shall be our lot. This is living word. For us, God’s children, there is a “delightful inheritance.” We do not run after other gods seeking their assistance. We do not offer sacrifice to them for safety. Apart from God, we have no good thing. We are counseled by his Spirit…even in our sleep…and the path of life is made known to us. Joy is the prophetic word that belongs to us…because we are already, and forever shall be, in his presence.

My very first recollection of Godly teaching stems from around age 4 or 5. My family was in church when I was born, so God was being made known to me already, but this is my first memory…a neighborhood children’s bible study my mother sent me to. It was led by a woman in our neighborhood and we met at her house. I vaguely remember she was young with dark hair. I remember her giving us all children’s bibles. I also remember she scared me to nightmares. She was teaching us Bible Prophecy. The only memory I take from that event was her telling us that Jesus was coming at any moment…and one would be taken and one would be left. In my child brain, that boiled down to either me or my brother. I had no idea if I was supposed to want to be taken or left. I just knew she scared me to death. I never went back. Isn’t this the effect that most “teachers” of biblical prophecy have? It’s fear porn. And it’s a huge moneymaker worldwide.

I guess psychologically, that first learning stuck with me, because I’ve been interested in prophecy and the ties of world events to it ever since. It’s almost like she put a dark cloud over my head and I kept waiting for it rain for many decades. That is not how a soul reborn in the Holy Spirit sees the prophetic words given to us…we see them as 1) The promise of hope and justice; and 2) Tools of warning to non-believers. It’s within number two that “teaching” often goes astray. Put those tools in the wrong hands, and that’s how you wind up with a 5 year old scared in his bed at night that some mysterious person from the sky is going to yank him away from his family.

In my late 20’s when God was pulling me back away from the world and home towards him, it was once again prophecy that was used to get my attention. I was a young married dad feeling God’s call on my heart, and a television prophecy huckster, Jack Van Impe, started showing up in my orbit. “Y2K will destroy us all,” was the basic premise. “God is using the computers to usher in Revelation.” I might as well have been 5 year old Gary again. It wasn’t going to be me ,”left behind,” I’ll tell ya that. Into deep study I went…and I never missed Jack and his wife every Friday night. My wife watched too. What I wasn’t really noticing was Jack and the bride sure had a whole lot of merchandise to sell during their half hour doomcasts. The for sale merchandise is where you got the “whole story” you see. I did however start to get drawn in, and I even bought myself a “Jack Van Impe Prophecy Bible.” It’s very nice. All the doom is highlighted for you. I was learning a lot about Jack’s particular version of the “End Times,” but I wasn’t being drawn towards the gospel…I was being taken away from it…by fear. How you can physically bring a soul into Matthew’s gospel, but yet never teach them a thing about Christ’s love and hope, takes a special kind of talent. But God had sufficiently gained my attention. I began to question my Pastor, Chuck Wilson, about why he never talked about these things in church. Didn’t he know that Y2K was going to cause Russia’s missiles to malfunction and start Armageddon? For the love of Pete, man, warn your flock! I was way off base, but what did I know? God was teaching me a particular talent that he puts to good use with me now. I can discern “situations” on a highly skilled level. It took sorting through a giant mess of deception for years to learn that trait.

The current days are a mega-dream for those who wish to distort God’s word for profit and deceiving. The king of Christian prophecy writers, Tim LaHaye, has TWO books in Amazon’s top 6 Christian best sellers as I type. Business is good, brother. In case you don’t know who he is…Left Behind…and all the books that followed. Don’t get me wrong, Jack Van Impe and Tim LaHaye might be God’s greatest messengers…who am I to say? But what they do isn’t in accordance with Paul’s teaching from anything I discern in the New Testament. Speaking as one who was enamored with the work of both of them…none of their works ever led me to anywhere but having less money and a great deal more worry. The fruit is rotted coming off those vines.

So are the words spoken by Christ in Matthew 24 true? Is all of it true…the prophecy found cover to cover in the God’s word? 100%. Matthew 24: 6-8…”You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” That’s Jesus answering the disciples question as to what the signs will be of his returning. “See to it that you are not alarmed,” Jesus says, right before telling them…“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” Matthew 24:9. See to it I don’t worry? That sounds horrible. This is where the dividing line of understanding comes in. The reason we aren’t to worry is because our faith assures us that what Jesus has spoken to us is infallible. Though some of us may even be put to death, he promises not even one hair on our head will be harmed. It takes the spirit within you to understand what that means. The peace that promise brings despite facing a whole world that hates us and wants to kill us…can only be supplied by the spirit of God. If that spirit is not present, then the vault is open for fear to be exploited in a mighty way…and that’s what so many have and still do. Jesus goes on in Matthew 24…“At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.” Deception…something man is extremely adept at. Read the entire chapter. There is a lot more. It is our call to know these things. Jesus speaks in Matthew 24:42…“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” Which brings me to why I was taught the things I was taught…How to be his watchman. So I am. And what I can report to you on this day free of charge, and with no extra merchandise for the rest of the story, is this: We don’t know when he’s coming. That’s the truest statement anyone will ever say to you. You can purchase all the material you wish, written or produced by people far more educated than me, but at the end of the day all it says is…”We don’t know.” But they make it very compelling and interesting getting to that point…I’ll give them that.

So, if you want my little opinion, and you’re reborn in the Holy Spirit and saved by the blood of Christ…go to David’s words. Read a Psalm every day, and read a chapter in Proverbs every day. One teaches you how to get along with God, and the other teaches you how to survive in this world righteously. Do those two things…and no matter if a volcano swallows you, a marauding band of Christian haters attack you, a friend betrays you, a war engulfs you, an earthquake rattles you, or an asteroid falls on you…not one single hair on your head is going to be harmed. “See to it you are not alarmed.” That’s the role of bible prophecy.

Gary Abernathy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Disaster Strikes You

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Proverbs 1: 20-33 Wisdom’s Rebuke

Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech:

“How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings. But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you – when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord. Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

If you’ve ever been to Hollywood, CA you’ve surely picked up on the extreme diversity of fortunes in the area. The very heights of human fame and glory mixed side by side with the lowest depths we can sink. Shining wealth mixed with rotting decay. When I was walking around Hollywood last summer I took the picture above to capture that feeling I had. My hotel a hotbed of cool, and the outer surroundings a cesspool of desperation to gain entrance into that club. All around me plastic idols to worship, and human suffering and lost souls to absorb. Spray painted graffiti on a wall less than a mile from where the Oscars are held it reads: “Expect us cappin”…and I do expect such. That’s the nature of wicked man that has always played out. Wisdom calls out and no one pays attention when she stretches out her hand. She promises that when disaster strikes…they will call to her and she will not answer. She will laugh.

Last night in Australia, one of America’s iconic famous people, Madonna, had another onstage meltdown, as her life spirals out of control. While on stage in front of thousands, she begged to the crowd, “Someone please (F-word) me.” Then she pleaded to the crowd…”Somebody take care of me please. Who is going to take care of me?” Wisdom has turned her back. Madonna who once sang to an entire generation of impressionable young girls, “Papa Don’t Preach,” now begs to those aged fans to care for her, as they witness her implosion.

Kim Kardashian, world famous, fabulously wealthy, married to Kanye West equally both, and whose father is another world famous icon as an athlete, who is now a woman named, Caitlyn, just couldn’t help herself but to post a totally nude selfie to the world this past week. Never stopping to think of how much influence she wields, and what that behavior adds to the world below she lives on top of. She begs for more adoration down to her very flesh – worship all of me she pleads. Wisdom turns her back.

Richard Simmons, cultural American exercise icon and silly personality, who lives in the Hollywood Hills, was revealed this week by his friends to be of great concern and worry. Cutting himself off suddenly from the world over 2 years ago and holed up in his Hollywood mansion. Many fear he’s under total control by his housekeeper and manager. They called out in a published article for someone to help him. One friend even claimed voodoo and black magic are being used on him by the housekeeper. The occult. Richard Simmons…cut off from the world where is face is universally known.

Legendary rock music artist, Keith Emerson, shot and killed himself this week. His girlfriend said the 71 year old was deeply depressed and hurt by online comments mocking his playing ability at this stage in life. He suffered from nerve damage that left him not as talented as he once was. He had shows coming up in Japan that he feared he would play terrible during. He killed himself. His fans who rose him up, ultimately took him all the way down.

This past week, Randy Meisner, legendary bass player and vocalist from, The Eagles, was also involved in more iconic tragedy. 1 1/2 hours after police had left their home for a domestic disturbance call, his wife accidently shot and killed herself by moving a loaded weapon. Not long before Randy was involved in a foiled murder/suicide threat. His wife is now dead and he’s in lockdown in a mental facility in LA.

Even world famous Christian pastor, Max Lucado, recently felt a taste of wrath tied to complacency, when he dared to step out on a limb and call out presidential candidate and billionaire, Donald Trump. Pastor Lucado, author of many best selling books and bible studies, and having a net worth estimated around 10 million dollars gained on the back of Christianity, was shocked at the hit back he received from Trump’s supporters. I was proud of the pastor for having the guts to put his brand (his name) on the line to say something important. It showed that wisdom has been calling out and he heard her and acted. This leader who was so far disconnected to the reality of the world all around him, as he rested comfortably in a bubble of false teaching for profit, suddenly made a dent into Satan’s grip on this world. The result frightened him. It should have. Welcome to the spiritual war, Pastor.

When disaster strikes, who will have your back? Do you know? Can you run safely into the arms of God because your relationship with him is rock solid in teaching and understanding? Or will you be like Madonna…”Who is going to take care of me?” Disaster is going to strike…it’s assured. In my life it has struck several times already, and I’m only 49 years old. I run towards God and his protection. His grace. His love. His discipline. His rebuke. He has surrounded me with loyalty and I give it back equally. He has instilled in me values and knowledge to comprehend the moments I am in. These things haven’t happened by accident. I had to hear her. I had to see those arms stretched out and listen. I had to accept her rebuke.

One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to accept, and I still struggle with it, is not getting personal credit for the things I do. Why don’t I? God protects me from stories and endings like all the ones I just listed from just this past week. I understand that’s why, but I also live in this world where Hollywood’s exist and my worldly ego feels it belongs in them. God knows where that leads and I belong to him. He won’t allow me to go there. Thanks be to God. The rebukes will keep coming until I fully relent once and for all. Even Pastor Lucado…that’s not for me. That’s not my destiny. I work for Him. It’s just how it’s to be. Glory be to God…not to Gary’s. This is the most dangerous ground I walk upon, and that’s why all those stories above ring in my heart and capture my attention. Yet, even though I still struggle with this, God pours abundance upon me uninterrupted, as he uses me for his purposes. Always showing and teaching me the way it all works in harmony between He and his own. I want for nothing. My purpose full of meaning and wonder. I’ve come a long way in this lesson. I will not turn back. I hear her and adhere to her teachings.

Do you? When disaster strikes you…where will you turn?

Gary Abernathy

 

 

In God We Trust

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Proverbs 3: 1-10…Wisdom Bestows Well-Being…”My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commandments in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

The picture above is one of the two bibles that rest on the altar just steps away from where I write. One of them is my own study bible that originally drew my heart into hearing God’s words for me. The instrument that began to explain in detail to me why he created me. The other is the one pictured that belonged to my wife’s grandmother. A simple and devoutly faithful woman who lived in rural Kentucky her entire life. My wife Lisa holds her in the highest esteem. Her grandmother was God’s bedrock placed in her life as she grew up. The one who instilled the promise of salvation within her as she stumbled her way to eventually finding that promise to be true. When I put together that altar in the process of enormous change in my life to keep me grounded in relationship, and to display to my own family the vital importance of God’s daily presence in our lives, she quietly placed that bible along with mine. One day it wasn’t there and the next it was. When I pray daily, there is a symbolic piece on the altar where I ask to be made good soil for his word to be sown. There is a rock that I brought from the summit of Mt. Pisgah in an exercise of obedience, where I ask for just that…to be given strength to be obedient, and there are the 2 bibles. I place my hands on both, and I ask that his wisdom and knowledge be poured into me, so that it may come back out correctly for his will, his purposes, and his glory. Then I say, “And say hello to Lisa’s grandmother for me.” I do this mostly every day.

I never knew her grandmother. I only attended her funeral. She died from Alzheimer’s disease. I never got to meet this woman my wife holds in such high regard. But I know where her trust was. It was in her Lord. My wife has conveyed this to me repeatedly over the 20 years of our togetherness. Lisa, her mom, and her brother, pretty much fought the world alone as she grew up, with a faces coming and going, and her father abandoning her when she was too young to even know what that meant. But her grandparents provided home base. Grounding. God. I see these people I never met all over the 3 of them even today many years past their leaving the world. They were that strong of Godly presence. It was her grandmother that was God’s vessel for her husband and the three of them.

I want to be that for my family. I want to be so transformed by him that my family for many coming generations will thrive from the rock placed within our blood. I was the least likely and poorest person to pick for such a position. But God has plucked me from my wretched nature and continues to shape me how he desires. It’s an ugly process. Some days I feel like I’m already walking in heaven, and other days I feel like my soul is ripped up into an infinite shred of shame and tears. But as time has moved, my trust has grown strong in my creator. I do not trust my worldly instinct any longer, and when I need a reminder why, God provides it with mirrors into the horribleness of what that worldly instinct created. I recoil at the sight of it when I recognize in the moment what’s going on. As if for a split second, I get to see myself as he does. That altar I put up has a wood surface. My tears flow upon it. Just before typing this they flowed and I squeezed my eyes as hard as I could…as if wringing out a soaked towel. My tears to my hands and absorbed into the wood. I offer them to him in worship. My weakness turned into his strength. And maybe…he can use this soul for something good. Something righteous. Something holy.

In God we trust? Solely. Wholly. He will make our paths straight.

Gary Abernathy

 

Spiritual GPS

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Proverbs 16:9…”In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”

There is an old joke/wisdom that goes something like this (paraphrased)…A terrible hurricane was underway and storm surge began flooding a Godly man’s home. The water kept getting higher until all he could do was stand on his roof. He was full of faith and trusted the Lord would save him. Along came a rescue boat and they called out to the faithful man, “Grab this rope and we’ll take you to safety, Sir!” The man replied, “No thank you, the Lord is going to save me.” The rescuers moved to the next house. The water was now lapping over the roof and around his ankles. Here came another rescue boat just in time. “Grab the rope, Sir! You don’t have much time!” The man said, “No thank you! I trust in my Lord. Only he will save me!” The rescuers moved on. All of a sudden a Coast Guard helicopter appeared and down dropped a brave young rescuer to save the man. “Hold onto me, Sir. I’ll take you to safety!” The man was annoyed. “How many times do I have to say it??? The Lord will save me. Leave me alone!” The Coast Guard flew away. Now the water was crashing over the roof and the man was swept away in a huge wave. He drowned. The man arrived at the Pearly Gates and there was Peter. The man was angry and he said, “Hey, Peter…what happened there??? Y’all let me drown!” Peter replied…”We sent you 2 boats and a helicopter. What more did you want?”

Spiritual GPS is every bit as important as the global positioning system we’ve all grown so dependent on in this century. How do we know which way to go? It’s been my experience that it’s always the most simple direction staring us right in the face. But like the man in the story our faith is blinded by our own will. “In their hearts humans plan their own course.”

When I was 25 years old I felt certain my life course was all but set in stone. My career path had 2 options – one in business and one in music. I applied my time to both equally. I wanted music but kept business as my safety net. A man divided cannot stand, but I wasn’t smart enough to understand that yet. In my personal life, I was in a serious relationship that seemed for life. My home was in my birthplace and I didn’t believe that would ever change. The only outcome yet to be decided was the final career path. God’s steps never entered my equations.

Just 10 years later every single thing about my life was different. Not one thing left unchanged. Not in a million years would I have guessed any of the changes. First, God took me out of one relationship, cleared my mind, and then into the one he chose for me. As if literally coming straight down from heaven, this woman appeared in my lap. We’ve been together ever since. Then he sent a pastor into my life to open my eyes to my creator. It had never been effectively done by any other human, but this one succeeded. Then God transitioned me away from my own music pursuits and into service of his. I was in the first wave of “praise band” musicians that changed the face of the modern church. I went from playing original music in music venues and bars, to playing a beat up electronic kit (gasp) with a black gospel piano man/vocalist in church. “What? How did I get here?” The next thing I know life spun another circle, and I found myself a married dad of 2 children and living far away from my birthplace. Business gone. Music as a career gone. Past relationships gone. I was completely remade. A blank slate. “Start over,” my spiritual GPS spoke.

I’m now nearly 15 years past God’s hitting of my reset button. I have a fully different life in an entirely different place. Like I was placed in God’s witness protection program. The Lord establishes their steps. If we look at it from the Godly perspective it’s…”We can do this the easy or hard way. What’s it going to be?” I can just hear a guardian angel saying to another…”Why do they always choose the hard way?” Then they take the wrecking ball to our plans.

Are you surrounded by God’s signs and ignoring them like the man in the story? We are all guilty of this repeatedly in life. The way we learn to hone our spiritual senses to God’s direction is by putting our souls deeply into relationship with him. There is no shortcut to this. It requires daily prayer and daily scripture study. If your knees haven’t knelt in worship and prayer and your bible is covered in dust, it’s certain you’re trying to plan your own course. God is going to place his chosen where he sends them no matter what. It’s far more difficult when we aren’t in contact with him to understand the directions. Much of our misery is connected to this failing of our faith. Like the picture above, no matter how deeply we are buried, God is giving us directions. Can we see them?

Take some time reflecting on your past plans and what the reality you have today is. Find God among the changes and how he guided your path. Go back in your mind and try to spot the rescue boats he sent and were ignored. The people who came to warn us. The things placed in our lives that tried to change the course but we wouldn’t have it. God wants to prosper us and use us. He cannot when we are in rebellion. The consequences to rebellion is misery in one form or another. Some of the seemingly most fortunate people on earth are in reality in absolute misery. Kanye West comes to mind as a current example. Fame and wealth is overflowing with miserable humans. We can only find true peace and contentment, as well as purpose, when we are following the path our creator intends for us.

So what’s it going to be? The easy way or the hard way? Consider this post a rescue boat sent your way. Don’t blame Peter at the gate if you fail to grab the rope.

Gary Abernathy