Before this pandemic struck, I started to do some baking. I decided I wanted to try and make things that I really liked so I set out to make items like pitas, baklava and Portuguese tarts (Pastéis de Nata) etc. I love hummus and biscuits so I had already made those but I am always looking for better recipes. Every time I saw a new recipe that looked interesting, I would text it to myself so I wouldn’t forget. So I set out to make things I had never tried to make before. We live in a day where the recipe book is not all that necessary unless of course it has been your go to for years or no Internet. I am a visual learner, so finding recipes online works very well for me. There must be millions of recipes on line, so I thought, how hard could it be? Turns out not to be too hard but practice definitely helps.
                For example I looked up a recipe for the Pastéis de Natas and found one that seemed doable. Not only were the ingredients written down precisely, I could also see what the process looked like, how it was supposed to look and the end result. In the case of the tart, they are supposed to really crunch on that first bite because of the wonderful layers of pastry. I love these tarts because of the custard filling but I also found out while making them why the pastry is so good. The answer seems to be layers of butter! So I set out to follow the recipe and surprisingly they turned out really good. I even have a video of the crunch of the first bite. The problem (not really) I found was that unfortunately you had to eat them all quickly because unlike a lasagna, they were not good left over. Now having taken that item off the list, when I have the urge for a Portuguese tart, the local bakery will suffice. That way I can just get one or two.
                Now that there is a pandemic a foot, it seems like everyone is baking, especially bread. Since my daughter has moved home during this pandemic, she loves to bake (great at it) and everyday it seems between my wife (who is an awesome cook) and my daughter and myself we are trying something new. My daughter’s bagels and pretzels were a hit, as were the Asian dumplings my wife recently made. While the videos of these recipes make it look easy, it actually isn’t too hard to follow along and make something you have never made before as long as you follow carefully. When I was making a whole bunch of items before, like rustic breads (okay the first ones weren't great) and no not with a bread-maker, my wife said to me; can you make something that doesn’t have carbs. It turns out the answer was no. I found that putting leafy products and vegies in the stand mixer just gives you a tossed salad and how boring is that? But when you put flour, sugar, salt, yeast and mix it together, wow something amazing and wonderful comes from it and the smell of it cooking even better like the pizza dough today.
                No my blog hasn’t turned into a cooking / baking blog but having said that did you know that taking the little husks off the chick peas totally changes the consistency of your hummus, just saying. What a pain it is, but worth it. Did you know that bagels and pretzels are dunked in boiling water before you bake them; who knew? Yet I digress. No there are enough blogs out there teaching you how to cook and bake. I think everyone just borrows from each other and makes it their own. And yes some do it better than others. What I did find when following these recipes was it really did make a difference when you actually did what they said. If I had said, do these tarts really need all those layers of butter in-between the layers of pastry rolled over and over or I will just leave out one of the ingredients, they would not have turned out. Actually it does make a difference to the end product.
                Yesterday I talked about Jesus being the bread of life. I love bread especially when you go to a restaurant that gives you fresh bread with some oil / balsamic to dip in before the meal. (Note to self –put on the list of to do items!) This week I am going to talk about the bread of life a little further but today, like following a recipe, there is a right and wrong way to follow God’s way. Unlike baking bread if you get it wrong, there are eternal consequences. Today in the church we see everyone going their own way and yes the end result actually looks like God is blessing them. For years churches have followed the likes of Saddleback (“The Purpose Driven Church”). When you look at this you see they have defined what a healthy church looks like not by what the bible defines it as but what they say the bible says it is. There is a difference. Interestingly enough when I read the description of the twelve characteristics of a purpose driven church, healing and casting out demons is not one of them. It is just a business model of doing church. Then you have Willow Creek’s ideology on leadership. As of late you can see that man should not be worshipped yet the church will keep going and telling you how to lead and people will still follow. Then you have whoever else has been successful selling their recipes for success yet these are different recipes from God’s. Yes many of them have made something spectacular or so it seems. Churches like Willow Creek, Crystal Cathedral, Harvest, both Mars Hills and the list could go on and have all made the news. Yet there will be others that rise up and take the place of each of these leaders who will then promote a new philosophy or vision for the future. The problem is even though millions of people are following, doesn’t mean what you are following is truth. It is a version of the truth but not God’s word as they have decided to go their own way. Judges 21:25 “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” If you turn the page to Ruth you will see a famine happening as I talked about yesterday. Ruth 1:1 “In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land.” Today there is a famine of hearing the word of God and everyone is still going their own way. People today think success from a worldly perspective is a sign that God is blessing them but they forget God does not bless you for going your own way. In Saddleback’s case, by changing God’s purposes to their own purposes and then calling them God’s purposes, you then can be successful. Deuteronomy 29:19 “When such a person hears the words of this oath and they invoke a blessing on themselves, thinking, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way,” they will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry.” Disaster has already come because the church has been deceived even though week after week they still promote their own ways
                You also need to realize satan blesses you for ignoring God’s word and going your own way. satan even attempted to offer blessing to Jesus. Can you imagine the arrogance of satan trying to tempt the bread from heaven with a loaf of bread. One of the other temptations satan offered was authority and splendor. Luke 4:5 “The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours. 8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” Unfortunately many have taken satan up on this offer and did not serve God only. The problem is they are completely unaware of the deception. There has been many who teach a false gospel yet are successful in the eyes of man and people flock to them, especially pastors and leaders who want to be more successful. They are willing to sell out for success but God is watching. Most in the church know that if you teach God’s word, people will flee and find another place more palatable. John 6:60 “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it? 66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” As we read yesterday, Isaiah 30:10 “They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. 11 Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!” 15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” Most tell their listeners what they want to hear because they know they will go somewhere else to get their ears tickled. 2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” You also have false leaders, preachers and teachers spreading their lies and telling you what you need to hear. People don’t know better so they are deceived. Jeremiah 5:31 “The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?”
                There is only one way and that way is Jesus. We follow Him by following His word not the words of men and women about his words. God’s words cannot be added to and taken away from and every church has done this. If you believe in a way such as Calvinism or Dispensationalism or Methodism or Catholicism or Lutheranism or any other “ism,” you have turned from “the way.” There is only one name and His name is Jesus, not Pope John (Francis) or John Wesley or John Calvin or John Darby or Martin Luther. What’s with all the Johns? The reason I can say this is simple; there is only one way, not multiple ways. Ephesians 4:3 “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” There is one Spirit who leads us to truth. John 14:26 “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 16:13 “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”
                When David was bringing the ark to its rightful place, he found out the hard way that there is only one way, the right way. God said obey my commands and that way has not changed. 2 Timothy 2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” If we are going to lead God’s people we need to make sure we are doing it His way not ours. James 3:1 “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” Here is what happened to David when tried to bring the Ark back. When the Philistines captured the ark they placed it with their own god. 1 Samuel 5:1 “After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. 3 When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4 But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. 6 The Lord’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumors.” Then they moved it to another place. “As the ark of God was entering Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, “They have brought the ark of the god of Israel around to us to kill us and our people.” 11 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and said, “Send the ark of the god of Israel away; let it go back to its own place, or it will kill us and our people.” For death had filled the city with panic; God’s hand was very heavy on it. 12 Those who did not die were afflicted with tumors, and the outcry of the city went up to heaven.” They then sent the Ark back to Israel and made sure it arrived. “13 Now the people of Beth Shemesh were harvesting their wheat in the valley, and when they looked up and saw the ark, they rejoiced at the sight. 14 The cart came to the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and there it stopped beside a large rock. The people chopped up the wood of the cart and sacrificed the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. 15 The Levites took down the ark of the Lord, together with the chest containing the gold objects, and placed them on the large rock. 19 But God struck down some of the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they looked into the ark of the Lord. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the Lord had dealt them. 20 And the people of Beth Shemesh asked, “Who can stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God? To whom will the ark go up from here?” 21 Then they sent messengers to the people of Kiriath Jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and take it up to your town.” 1 Samuel 7:1 “So the men of Kiriath Jearim came and took up the ark of the Lord. They brought it to Abinadab’s house on the hill and consecrated Eleazar his son to guard the ark of the Lord. 2 The ark remained at Kiriath Jearim a long time—twenty years in all.”
                The Philistines took the ark because of disobedience. 1 Samuel 2:27 “Now a man of God came to Eli and said to him, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Did I not clearly reveal myself to your ancestor’s family when they were in Egypt under Pharaoh? 28 I chose your ancestor out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod in my presence. I also gave your ancestor’s family all the food offerings presented by the Israelites. 29 Why do you scorn my sacrifice and offering that I prescribed for my dwelling? Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people Israel?’ 30 “Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that members of your family would minister before me forever.’ But now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained. 31 The time is coming when I will cut short your strength and the strength of your priestly house, so that no one in it will reach old age, 32 and you will see distress in my dwelling. 34 “‘And what happens to your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, will be a sign to you—they will both die on the same day. 35 I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his priestly house, and they will minister before my anointed one always.” Then God spoke to Samuel. 1 Samuel 3:11 “And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them.”
                When the Philistines came against Israel they began to defeat Israel so they brought the ark to the camp. 1 Samuel 4:5 “When the ark of the Lord’s covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook. 6 Hearing the uproar, the Philistines asked, “What’s all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?” When they learned that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp, 7 the Philistines were afraid. “A god has come into the camp,” they said. “Oh no! Nothing like this has happened before. 8 We’re doomed! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. 9 Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!” 10 So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11 The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died.” When God turns His face from us we loose every time. They also found this out in Deuteronomy 1:2 “But the Lord said to me, “Tell them, ‘Do not go up and fight, because I will not be with you. You will be defeated by your enemies.’”
                The church today thinks they can go their own way, do their own thing and get away with it but disaster always comes as it already has. Some have been pointed out already for their deception and while others will be shown for who they are later. There is only one way and that is God’s way. Here is where see David’s mistake. This idea was noble and it seemed right. They even said if it was the will of God and then they went ahead. Even though God’s word told them what to do they went their own way. It looked right but in the end it wasn’t. 1 Chronicles 13:1 “David conferred with each of his officers, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. 2 He then said to the whole assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you and if it is the will of the Lord our God, let us send word far and wide to the rest of our people throughout the territories of Israel, and also to the priests and Levites who are with them in their towns and pasturelands, to come and join us. 3 Let us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we did not inquire of it during the reign of Saul.” 4 The whole assembly agreed to do this, because it seemed right to all the people. 5 So David assembled all Israel, from the Shihor River in Egypt to Lebo Hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kiriath Jearim. 6 David and all Israel went to Baalah of Judah (Kiriath Jearim) to bring up from there the ark of God the Lord, who is enthroned between the cherubim—the ark that is called by the Name. 7 They moved the ark of God from Abinadab’s house on a new cart, with Uzzah and Ahio guiding it. 8 David and all the Israelites were celebrating with all their might before God, with songs and with harps, lyres, timbrels, cymbals and trumpets. 9 When they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled. 10 The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God. 12 David was afraid of God that day and asked, “How can I ever bring the ark of God to me?” 13 He did not take the ark to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 14 The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house for three months, and the Lord blessed his household and everything he had.”
                There are many in the church today celebrating their own plans and praising God for all the success of their plans, all the while they still go their own way. While many in the church have the massive buildings, considerable amounts of money and vast numbers, what they don't have is the power to defeat their enemies. This not only applies to the mega churches but to all churches. They are just simply well oiled machines or oilless clunkers. There is no healing; casting out demons and the Kingdom of God is not coming near. It doesn’t matter how new or old the cart is, it is still the wrong way. Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs 12:15 “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” Success is not based on popularity or a building or programs or books on the bestseller list, it is victory over our enemies, healing, casting demons and salvation and doing as Jesus did to defeat satan.
                Once David realized his error, he made the change. 1 Chronicles 15:1 “After David had constructed buildings for himself in the City of David, he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it. 2 Then David said, “No one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, because the Lord chose them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister before him forever.” (Deuteronomy 10:8 “At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister and to pronounce blessings in his name, as they still do today.”) 11 Then David summoned Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel and Amminadab the Levites. 12 He said to them, “You are the heads of the Levitical families; you and your fellow Levites are to consecrate yourselves and bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel, to the place I have prepared for it. 13 It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the Lord our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way.” 14 So the priests and Levites consecrated themselves in order to bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel. 15 And the Levites carried the ark of God with the poles on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of the Lord. 28 So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouts, with the sounding of rams’ horns and trumpets, and of cymbals, and the playing of lyres and harps.” You then can read David’s praise to God. 1 Chronicles 16:4 “He appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, to extol, thank, and praise the Lord, the God of Israel.” Read 1 Chronicles 16:7-36
                Don’t be fooled by a new cart or plans that seem good to everyone. Make sure you are following God’s plans as described in scripture. If you do not follow God’s plans accurately you will make only what your hands can make. You cannot manufacture the power of God with your own hands. When you follow God’s plan, it will look like God’s plan. That means the church will look like the church Jesus is the head of as described in scripture not as described by a mans idea in a book. Yes people will tell you this is God’s plan but the results will show you otherwise. Hebrews 2:4 “God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” Mark 16:20 “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” Psalm 5:8 “Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies— make your way straight before me.”