Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Update

Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

This is Joseph’s daughter, Kristin. I am writing on behalf of my dad to update you on his current situation. I believe he shared briefly on this blog about his court date yesterday. He was called into court because of some alimony charges that have accrued since he left his previous employment and has been walking this path of ministry. Without going into a lot of detail, the time in court went much the same as when he faced this about a year and a half ago, ending with him being put into the local detention center for a period of time. Right now we don’t know how long it will be, a month was mentioned, but we will still have to wait to find out that information. He asked me to post this update so that you will understand why he isn’t responding to correspondence via email at this time.

I would like to make his mailing address available for any of you who would like to write to him at this time. I am sure your notes of encouragement would mean a great deal to him, as well as any other correspondence you desire to have. His address is as follows:

Joseph Herrin
E-Pod
Houston County Detention Facility
203 North Perry Parkway
Perry, GA 31069

Feel free to send your letters to him at this address, but the letters should not contain any items or money, only pictures are permitted. Anything else you would desire to send can still be mailed to his PO box.   


In thinking of all that has taken place in the last couple days, I am reminded of God’s words through Isaiah:

Isaiah 55:8-11
8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
 declares the Lord.
9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.        

God, in His infinite wisdom, has seen fit to allow this trial to come at this time. I am confident that He will accomplish His purposes even in the midst of these difficulties.
My dad has already seen God’s hand at work in giving him opportunities to share with some within the detention center. Pray that God would open doors for my dad to speak life and truth to people within those walls. Also, would you join me in praying for God’s purpose to be accomplished in each of our lives who are involved? I know that each trial He brings us through He desires to use to form the character of Christ in us, to give us His heart, purify our motives and help us to reflect Him more clearly. It is my desire that I would reflect Christ clearly, and that He would purify my heart and help me to understand His will. I know this is my dad’s desire as well, and we are resting in God, looking to see what He will do through all of this. I know that He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than we are able to ask or even imagine. That is the God I am trusting in. He will accomplish His purposes through this time.




Thank you for the notes of concern that have already come in for my dad- He is doing well and at peace. Thank you for your continued prayers!

May God bless you and keep you. Let’s continue to fight the good fight! Our momentary light afflictions are nothing to be compared with His glory that is to be revealed in us!

In Him,
Kristin   
 


Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws  
Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com    
Mailing Address: Joseph Herrin P.O. Box 804 Montezuma, GA 31063

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The following two audio messages express a message that I believe urgently needs to be heard by those sons and daughters of God who wish to be found pleasing to Him on the day in which we must all give an account. This is a message I shared a number of times last year as the Father led me across America to speak to a remnant among the body of Christ. This particular recording was made in Fort Worth, Texas.

I have cleaned up the audio on this recording, removing background noise and improving the volume, as some had noted that an earlier recording posted was difficult to listen to.

I encourage you to please take the time to listen to this two part message. I know the length of two hours is more than most American Christians are accustomed to, though lengthy discourses were common in both the Old and New Testament.

Nehemiah 9:3
While they stood in their place, they read from the book of the law of Yahweh their God for a fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped Yahweh their God.

Acts 15:32
Judas and Silas, also being prophets themselves, encouraged and strengthened the brethren with a lengthy message.

I believe those with a heart’s desire to know truth and walk in it will be well rewarded in listening to these messages.

I also ask that the saints pray for me as I go to court in the morning. I am to be there are 9 A.M.. Let the Spirit guide you.

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days,

Joseph Herrin

video 

  video


Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws    

Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
c/o Fair Harbor RV Park
515 Marshallville Road
Perry, GA 31069-3016

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Contrasts

Joseph Herrin (05-19-2011)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity...
[Opening line of Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens]

We live in an hour when both darkness and light must come to their full manifestation. The prophet Isaiah wrote:

Isaiah 60:1-2
Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of Yahweh is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; But Yahweh will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.

The earth is becoming an ever darker place, yet it is at this season that Christ will raise up a people who will be to the praise of His glory on the earth. This will be a firstfruits company of true disciples. They will follow the Lamb wherever He leads. They will be marked by their love for God, and love for one another. This remnant will be bold and courageous. They will perform exploits in the name of Yahweh. This peculiar people, the called out ones from the earth, will love truth, and eschew error, and for all these things they will be hated by all peoples.

Mark 13:12-13
Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

We live in an age of ruin, and an age of restoration and renewal. Kathy Furman, a sister in Christ from Arizona, informed me a few days ago about Barack Obama’s new campaign theme. You may remember that his chosen campaign theme for his first run at the presidency was “Change You Can Believe In.” This later evolved into “Change We Need.”

It has recently been announced that his new campaign theme will be presented in a question and answer format. The question is “Are You In?” The affirmative answer for a supporter of Barack Obama is “I’m in!”

http://www.barackobama.com/im-in-splash-2

Kathy pointed out to me that in this age of text messaging and Twitter accounts, the question poised by Obama’s new campaign would be written in the following manner:

R U IN

RUIN is the change coming to America and the world. A day of disaster and desolation is at hand. Barack Obama marked his first inauguration in front of the Lincoln Memorial singing the song “American Pie” by Don McLean. The phrase, “This’ll be the day that I die” is oft repeated in this song. 500,000 Americans joined Obama in singing this song during his first inaugural ceremonies.  Dark days are ahead for America, yet it will also be a time of great glory for a remnant of God’s people.

Do not misunderstand me, I am not implying that the world will recognize the presence of Christ in this remnant of true disciples, nor that the world will admire them. Christ prophesied that the world would hate His disciples. A day would come when men would put Christ’s disciples to death thinking they do God a favor. Despite the outward appearance of the righteous being overcome by the wicked, the saints of God will truly conquer and walk as overcomers.

Romans 8:35-37
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

Revelation 12:11
“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.”

We are facing a day of RUIN, but also a day of renewal and restoration. My daughter Kristin, and two young women whom she is close to, Mary Ann and Nicole Yoder, are working on getting their first music CD prepared. They went out into a local wheat field yesterday to take some pictures to be used on the album cover.


Kristin, Nicole and Mary Ann
(Click on picture for larger image)

The name of their group is New Beginnings. When I speak to my daughter, and observe the lives of these three young women, I see something pure and innocent in the midst of a perverse and wicked generation. In an hour of darkness, God is yet reserving a remnant unto Himself who have not bowed the knee to this fallen world system. Those who walk in the light will grow brighter and brighter, even as the world becomes increasingly dark.

I have shared openly the progress of the bus the Father has led me to convert into a motorhome. The Father could have given me a brand new motorhome had He wished to do so. The same is true about my friend Randy Simmons who is laboring to restore a 1980's vintage Monaco RV. I could name many others, including one sister in Christ who wrote to me today and told me she and her husband have been led to purchase a 1980's Airstream and to renovate it.

What is up with all this restorative work? The Father does nothing without purpose and design. My bus will be forty years old in 2012, the year of the next election, the year when the Mayan calendar ends. Forty is a significant number throughout the Bible. It is associated with trials and testing and tribulation.

During the flood of Noah’s day it rained for forty days and forty nights.

The Israelites wandered for forty years in the wilderness until an entire generation died off.

Christ was led into the wilderness for forty days where He fasted and then was tempted of the devil.

The Lord has referred to my bus as an ark. I continue to get it ready, according to the Father’s instructions. Recently He instructed me to add a trailer hitch to pull the cargo trailer He gave me last year on my birthday. A few days ago I was led to organize the cargo area on the top of the bus roof. I had purchased a custom length, heavy duty white tarp to cover the area. My daughter helped me move some things to the roof area.


“The Dreamer” with Cargo Cover on Roof
(Click on picture for larger image)

This unit is nearly complete. A sister who has followed the progress on the bus with interest wrote to me yesterday and asked me what I had left to do. The bus is actually quite livable now. I have been living in it since January 1st. I have also driven it some small distances recently, about 20 miles at a time. It is handling nicely.

I do need to replace the front tires, as they are dry rotted and cracked. I have yet to install a water heating system. I am planning a solar water heater. I also have a solar panel, and would like to add to it as an off-grid means of charging my auxiliary batteries. Adding another battery, or two would also be nice, if I am to ever use the bus off-grid. I need to have the rear axle pulled to replace a leaky rear seal. And the wheels have yet to be painted.

As the Father directs me, I am taking care of those projects He indicates I am to attend to. Whether He will have me do all of these things, I am not certain. It is hard to imagine what will be needed in the future. I am confident, however, that if I continue to listen to Him, all things will be in readiness when they are needed.

Why then, is the Father having so many people fix up old vehicles? Undoubtedly, there is a parable in it. I mentioned before that the bus the Father gave to me has a symbolic history. It began life in 1972 as a school bus. Sometime in the 1980s it was sold to a church and used for quite a few years. It was later sold to another church, and they held it for some time. It was then sold to an individual who used it to attend NASCAR races at th Atlanta Motor Speedway. The platform on top of the roof was added as a viewing platform. They would sit in chairs up there in the infield of the race track and watch the cars zip by.

When I purchased the bus it had visible elements from all of his various incarnations. The church began as a place of instruction. We read of the early church and its activities in the book of Acts.

Acts 2:42
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Children who go to school do many similar things. They attend to the teaching presented to them. They eat while at school. They fellowship with their peers. In some Christian schools they still pray, but prayer has been removed from the public school system.

Like the Carpenter Bus I purchased, the church has devolved into a platform for entertainment. It has lost sight of its original purpose. God has directed me to transform this bus into a fit habitation. The Lord is soon to return and He is looking for a purified temple to dwell in. His people are that temple.

God is at work to call forth a people out of the houses of entertainment and confusion (Ever try to watch cars racing round and round an oval track. It will leave your head spinning.) He will take this “body by Carpenter” that has been in existence for many years, and transform it into something clean, pure, and purposeful. He is raising up the ancient ruins. He is accomplishing a work of restoration.

Isaiah 61:4
Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, they will raise up the former devastations; And they will repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations.

There is much being signified by the actions of the people of God in this hour. Let us put our hearts into the work. Let the Spirit lead and guide. RUIN is coming to America and the nations, but a work of restoration and new beginnings is coming to a remnant portion of the body of Christ.

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.

Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws    

Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
c/o Fair Harbor RV Park
515 Marshallville Road
Perry, GA 31069-3016

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Wilderness Sign

Joseph Herrin (05-16-2011)

There have been a number of important signs in the news that have been clearly marked as parables pertaining to Christians. The previous post spoke of an event in the town of Los Cristianos, whose name means “Christians.” This post will look at another news item that has been marked out as a message to Christians. Let me begin by posting excerpts from two news articles relating to the story.


B.C. woman missing for 7 weeks found alive

A Penticton, B.C., woman who went missing seven weeks ago after she and her husband’s car disappeared during a road trip to Las Vegas has been found alive.


Rita and Al Chretien were the subject of a massive ground and aerial search when their car disappeared near Baker City, Oregon.


Late Friday, hunters found Rita Chretien in the couple’s gold-coloured minivan in Elko County in northeastern Nevada, about 400 kilometres from where the couple was last spotted on March 19.


The Elko Daily Free Press reported that a couple out riding four-wheelers spotted the Chretien's van in a ravine about 14 kilometres from a ranch at the edge of the Humboldt National Forest.


Rita Chretien was able to tell her rescuers that her husband Al had left the vehicle on March 22 to get assistance.


“His current whereabouts are still unknown,” said Cpl. Dan Moskaluk Friday night.


Moskaluk said Rita Chretien subsisted on water for seven weeks (Note: She also reportedly had a bag of trail mix, some candy, and some other limited food items). She has been medevaced to Nevada and her son Raymond and daughter-in-law Jen are on their way to Nevada from Penticton.


Elko sheriff's detective Sgt. Kevin McKinney was quoted in the Elko Daily Free Press saying Rita Chretien “sounds like she's coherent and very hungry.”


The couple, who own an excavation company, left their Penticton home on the morning of March 19 to head to Las Vegas to attend a trade show. They were last seen on video surveillance getting snack foods at Baker City, Oregon, gas station.


The family had commissioned an aerial survey of the area but could not find any trace of the couple’s vehicle. Locals said the mountainous terrain the couple travelled on were treacherous and roads at the time of their disappearance were slick and wet.


Moskaluk said details are still trickling in but said it’s unbelievable after seven weeks Rita Chretien has been located.


“No one was holding out much hope for this to end well. This is nothing short of a miracle.”


Moskaluk said officials are still looking for Al Chretien.
[Source: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/987496--b-c-woman-missing-for-7-weeks-found-alive?bn=1

"Death by GPS": Warnings about the devices
May 16, 2011 11:10 AM
(CBS News)

As more and more motorists become increasingly reliant on directions from GPS devices, experts are warning that putting too much faith in the gizmos can lead to trouble - sometimes with deadly consequences.


The problem, reports CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker, has obtained a nickname all its own - Death by GPS.


The situation was highlighted when a Canadian couple got lost in the Nevada wilderness after following GPS directions to a dead end in that wilderness, police say.


Rita Chretien was found in the couple's van earlier this month, after seven-and-a-half months (Note - This is an error. She was stranded for seven weeks). Her husband, Albert, who'd gone for help, is still missing. Rita is now out of the hospital. An intensified search for Albert began over the weekend.


It was, says Whitaker, "a tragedy caused by a blind faith in technology."


"They had a Magellan GPS ... mounted on their dash," says Sgt. Kevin McKinney of the Elko County, Nev. Sheriff's Department.


Though rare, Whitaker observes, incidents like that one happen enough to have earned that macabre nickname of Death by GPS...
[Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/05/16/earlyshow/leisure/gamesgadgetsgizmos/main20063222.shtml#ixzz1MXfyV8WP]

Various details of the story can be gleaned from reading different accounts. Let me begin with the couple’s last name, Chretien. Chretien is an Old French name meaning “Christian.”

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/chr%C3%A9tien

The woman who survived had the first name Rita, which means “pearl.” I first looked into this name in 2005 when Hurricane Rita struck the New Orleans area, flooding the city a short time after Hurricane Katrina had done the same. Pearls throughout the Scriptures symbolize purity, holiness, and that which is highly valued.

Another article mentioned that Albert Chretien had been warned to not put too much trust in the GPS unit’s navigation abilities when he purchased it. This parable contains an underlying theme of misplaced faith.

Albert and Rita Chretien owned an excavation company in Penticton, British Columbia. They were heading to Las Vegas to attend a trade show. There are some symbolic elements here, as Las Vegas is known as “Sin City.” Additionally, Satan is stated to have fallen in part due to an unrighteous focus upon trade.

Ezekiel 28:15-16
You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you. By the abundance of your trade you were internally filled with violence, and you sinned; Therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.

I believe the fact that Las Vegas is called “Sin City,” and it is one of the premier destinations for trade shows in the United States, highlights the relationship between merchandising and transgression. An inordinate emphasis on increasing one’s ability to make money has led many into transgression resulting in grievous loss.

I Timothy 6:9-10
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Let me emphasize here that I am looking at this event as a parable of the church today, not as a judgment upon this particular couple. When viewing tragic occurrences in this world it is good to keep in mind the following words of Christ:

Luke 13:2-5
And Yahshua answered and said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."

In this event are two individuals with a last name meaning “Christian” who are headed to “Sin City” for a trade show. They are using the best technology of this world to guide them, and have placed an inordinate confidence in it, despite being warned not to do so. Albert, who was driving, decided to take a “scenic route” to Las Vegas, and was misled by the GPS unit onto roads that were impassable. Snow and mud had made the way very difficult, and when they were far out into a wilderness area where they had no cell phone service, their van became mired in the mud.

Albert tried to free the van by shoveling the mud away from the vehicle, but this ended up being a futile effort. The couple were stranded on March 19th, and on March 22nd, the husband decided he needed to go find help. He continued to rely upon the GPS unit that had led him astray, taking it, and a cell phone with him. He has not been heard from since.

Christians today (Chretien in Old French), are continually looking to unsafe sources of guidance. They rely upon the arm of the flesh, and natural reason, to guide them through this life. The vast majority of Christians today are led by their soul, rather than being surrendered to be led of the Spirit.

Romans 8:14
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

Proverbs 14:12
There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.

Even when man finds that following the counsel of his soul has led him to perilous places, he will rarely abandon looking to the soul for counsel. This is the only manner of guidance most men have practiced, and they have placed inordinate emphasis upon it.

In the various news stories, details are found about Rita Chretien’s experience. As her husband was seeking to deliver them by going for help, Rita rested. It is reported that she slept much during her 49 day ordeal. It is also reported that each day she prayed and asked God what He would have her to do that day. This is the method of guidance that Yahweh desires His sons and daughters to embrace. A remnant will be brought to do so as they find themselves in perilous places in coming days.

Rita was isolated in this remote wilderness location for seven weeks. This is seven sevens, denoting a fulness of rest. She had ceased planning her own way, and had resigned herself to the fact that God would either save her, or she would die where she was at. This too is the attitude that God is seeking to find in the hearts of His sons and daughters. They must cast their lives entirely into the Father’s hands, entrusting their welfare into His hands. Whether He chooses life, or chooses death, they must yield their lives to what Yahweh chooses for them.

E.W. Bullinger, in the book Number in Scripture, has this to say about the number seven:

In the Hebrew, seven is (shevah). It is from the root (savah), to be full or satisfied, have enough of. Hence the meaning of the word "seven" is dominated by this root, for on the seventh day God rested from the work of Creation. It was full and complete, and good and perfect. Nothing could be added to it or taken from it without marring it. Hence the word (Shavath), to cease, desist, rest, and Shabbath, Sabbath, or day of rest.
[Source: http://philologos.org/__eb-nis/seven.htm]

Rita, the Christian who bears the name Pearl (purity, holiness, of exceeding value), came to a place of rest while in the wilderness. In contrast, her husband was restless. He was still relying upon the same source of guidance that had led him into the predicament, to find a way out, and it was unable to save him.

It may seem contradictory that the number seven also bears the meaning “to be full or satisfied, have enough of.” Rita had very little to eat during her seven weeks in the wilderness, reportedly losing twenty to thirty pounds in this time. That which God would have His people to be filled and satisfied with is Himself. Christ said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” Christ was born in Bethlehem whose name means “house of bread.” Rita had a Bible with her, and it is reported that she read it continually while stranded in the wilderness. While her flesh was starving, her spirit was being fed.

Had the Chretiens (Christians) reached Las Vegas, they would undoubtedly have had an abundance of food and entertainment to feed the flesh, but would have been starved spiritually. This is the condition of much of the church today. They are sating themselves on the things of this world, but have little appetite for God, and His holy things. Many spend endless hours in front of the television, in reading novels, and pursuing an unending series of entertainments. They are focused on business, seeking to be increased in the material possessions of this world, while giving to God an hour or two of their time on Sunday and Wednesday nights. Even this time is often less about focus on God, than upon eating and entertainment.

People of God, the Spirit of Christ has been giving many signs this year of a great shaking coming to the church. The devastating earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand was a profound parable of coming judgment. These further stories serve as additional witnesses of this work which Yahweh will accomplish at this time.

Christ is coming back for a purified bride. He will lead His people through wilderness experiences in order to remove the flesh and bring forth a spiritual creation. How many will manifest the faith in God revealed in this woman who placed her life in God’s hands for life or death? How many will seek to deliver themselves, looking to their soul to guide them, and their own strength to save them?

Rita Chretien was found in her gold van. Gold, and the trying of our faith are related in the Scriptures.

I Peter 1:6-7
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Yahshua Christ...

Revelation 3:18
I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich...

There is a wilderness experience all overcoming saints must pass through. An hour is at hand for a remnant of God’s people to embrace such an experience. Some who are led to this experience will perish as they continue to look to their own soul to guide them, and their own strength to deliver them. Others will surrender their lives to the Father. They will rest from their own labors. Their end will be glory.

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.


Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws  

Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
c/o Fair Harbor RV Park
515 Marshallville Road
Perry, GA 31069-3016

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Update and a Parable in the News

Joseph Herrin (05-14-2011)

I have not had much time to post blogs recently as other activities have kept me busy. When I awoke Wednesday the Spirit instructed me to go out that day and get a trailer hitch installed on my bus so that I could pull the cargo trailer Yahweh gave me last year on my 49th birthday. The day I purchased the trailer was an amazing day as well, which I wrote about at the time.

http://parablesblog.blogspot.com/2010/05/on-road-with-holy-spirit-part-2.html

The manner in which the Father ordered my steps to acquire this trailer hitch Wednesday was equally remarkable, and pregnant with symbolism. I cannot share all the details at this time, but I will provide a picture of the new hitch on the back of my bus.



I spent most of a day getting the hitch installed, and procuring the various parts I needed to go in the receiver. I still need to run wiring for the trailer lights. I have purchased the material needed, but have yet to perform the work. I have to tap into the light connections at the front of the bus. Determining which wires to tap into is the difficult part for me. The work itself is not hard.

Thursday morning I rode my bike into town to get the electrical parts needed to hook up the trailer lights. I returned just a few minutes before a brother in Christ, Joe Boes, arrived for a visit. He had driven down from the Atlanta area. We spent the rest of the morning and a good part of the afternoon together. It was a blessed time of fellowship.

Friday I spent the day catching up on e-mail which had been backing up on me due to my other activities. I spent this morning answering what remained.

I have not commented on any articles in the news of late, although there has been plenty that has been significant. An article today caught my attention, and I am led to bring it to the attention of those who read this blog. The news story comes out of Los Cristianos, a Spanish town on the Island of Tenerife. Los Cristianos is Spanish for “Christian.” Following is an excerpt:

Woman murdered by decapitation in Los Cristianos
http://www.canariesnews.com/2011/05/13/woman-murdered-by-decapitation-in-los-cristianos-tenerife/

Checking a number of news sources, I was able to piece together the details of this event. Decapitation, although shocking, is used significantly as a symbol in the Bible. John the Baptist died by being beheaded. We also read of the saints being beheaded in the book of Revelation.

Revelation 20:4
And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Yahshua and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands.

It arrests my attention when I read of a bizarre beheading in a town named “Christian.” The news details add a further symbolism to the event as the attacker was crying out that he was a prophet of God. An Associated Press article contained the following statement:

Local media reports said the suspect left the store shouting “I am God’s avenger and I come to mete out justice.”

http://www.canariesnews.com/2011/05/13/woman-murdered-by-decapitation-in-los-cristianos-tenerife/

The 62 year old British woman who was beheaded had the first name “Jennifer.” This is a Cornish variant of the name Guinevere made famous by the bride of King Arthur. Although the name means “Fair, white and smooth,” Guinevere was known for her adulterous relationship with Lancelot, and her betrayal of her husband to Mordred. Certainly there are significant things to be observed in this, for the church has also been betrothed to a King, yet has acted the harlot. Indeed, John describes the Great Harlot in Revelation, the Spirit of Yahweh calling out “Come out of her My people, lest you participate in her deeds and partake of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4).

The act of beheading is not intended to be understood in merely a literal sense in the passage from Revelation chapter 20 verse 4. Revelation is a book of parables where truth is conveyed through signs and symbols. The act of beheading symbolizes surrendering one’s own leadership to take Christ as Head. A Christian cannot have Christ as their head as long as their own head remains intact. Paul writes:

I Corinthians 11:3
But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

For Christ to take God as head, He had to remove His own head. He testified to this as He is repeatedly quoted by the apostle John in his gospel as saying, “I never do anything of My own initiative. I only do the will of the Father.” That the Father was Christ’s head was demonstrated conclusively when Christ surrendered to drink from the cup of suffering in Gethsemane. Yahshua testified that his soul was crushed as unto death as He wrestled with this surrender, yet He came forth victorious as He stated, “Father, if there be any other way, let this cup (of suffering) pass from Me. Nevertheless, not MY will, but YOUR will be done.”

This is what it means to have one’s head removed. We must remove our heads to take Christ as head, in the same way that Christ had to remove His head to take Yahweh as head.

I believe the Spirit is testifying through this event that it is time for a number of Christians to experience this beheading. Yahweh is about to accomplish a divine intervention in the lives of many who have until this time not yielded their lives fully to Christ. Some of these have acted much like Guinevere. They were once espoused to Christ as pure virgins, but have gone after other lovers. There has been some betrayal of allegiance, yet they will be able to acquire for themselves white robes as they submit to the experience of beheading.

Revelation 7:13-17
Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?" And I said to him,  "Sir, you know." So he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

What occurred in this attack in Los Cristianos happened very suddenly. It took place in what was considered to be a very safe place. It was an unanticipated event. Yahweh will do a sudden work in many lives as He leads them to take Him as their head, removing their own head. They will surrender to go where He leads, and to do what He directs. There will be suffering, and sorrow, but also great grace. In the end He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and there will be unspeakable joy.

A couple other details of note are that Los Cristianos is on the island of Tenerife. Tenerife means “white mountain.” The name is derived from the snow capped volcano on the island. Tenerife is renowned for tourism with its sandy beaches where people go to expose their flesh. The second largest Carnival in the world takes place on Tenerife attracting over a million people annually. Carnival is the debauched festival observed in other locales such as Rio De Janeiro, and New Orleans. The word “carnival” literally means “flesh raising.” That Christians have given themselves over to the pursuit of pleasure, and have become fleshly is evident today. There must be a return to the disciple’s cross as the saints surrender to take Christ as their head.

Tenerife is the largest island in the Canary Islands. The Canary is a bird that is associated with alarm and warning, hence the expression “a canary in a coal mine.” Canaries were used before electronic detectors, to warn miners of a build up of methane and other deadly gases in a mine. The canaries, being more sensitive to changes in the air they breathe, would fall over dead if toxic or explosive gases reached dangerous levels, warning the miners to flee to the surface.

I am persuaded that God is about to do a sudden work in the lives of many. Some who have been unwilling to embrace the cross, and walk the afflicted path, will be made willing. They will surrender their heads, and take Christ as head.

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.

Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws    

Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
c/o Fair Harbor RV Park
515 Marshallville Road
Perry, GA 31069-3016

Monday, May 9, 2011

When Sheep Fight Back

Joseph Herrin (05-09-2011)

Artwork by Douglas Alves Ferreira

Several people have written to me asking about various Scriptures that could be viewed as supporting a Christian’s right to defend themselves against those who attack them. The two main examples they have given are Stephen when he gave a defense before the Jewish leaders, and Paul as he was repeatedly brought before the Jews and the Romans and charged with various transgressions.

As Christians we are charged to “study to show ourselves approved unto God... rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15). To find God’s approval, we must arrive at His mind. Without question, man has various biases. These biases become evident when he seeks to arrive at an understanding and application of Scriptures. The saint who approaches this subject of suffering needs to be cognizant of the fact that the flesh in which he/she dwells has a strong aversion to suffering. The flesh will look for an interpretation of Scriptures that will provide a way to avoid pain, loss, humiliation and everything else that is a part of taking up the cross and following Christ. The flesh will not willingly embrace an afflicted path. It is always casting about for some way to walk on that broad and easy path while having some hope that it too will lead to life.

To arrive at truth as we study the word of God we must quiet our soul, and arrive at a place of contentment where we simply want to apprehend the mind of God. We must be satisfied with whatever the Father might reveal to us. It is clearly the will of God that His sons and daughters suffer many things in order that they might arrive at spiritual maturity. The fruit of the Spirit is developed in the face of adversity. When else does a man need longsuffering other than during extended seasons of suffering? When does man need gentleness? Is it not when his flesh is provoked to respond with harshness? The experiences of this present age are designed to provoke a response of the flesh that the spirit man might rise up and put the flesh to death.

The trials God puts His sons and daughters through are often described as “fiery.” We are like precious metal, gold or silver. When taken out of the earth these metals have impurities in them. A refiner will heat the metal to a very high temperature until it enters a liquid state. When this happens, the impurities inside are released and come to the surface where they can be removed. This is the same process the Father subjects His children unto time and again. He desires that we come forth in complete purity before His eyes.

The role of suffering in bringing forth mature sons was revealed from the first book of the Bible. There is a profound parable contained in the curse that befell the woman when she sinned. God does everything by design. He could have chosen anything He desired as the consequence of sin. What He chose was intended to reveal a deep truth. Eve, the wife of the first Adam, is a type of the Church, which is the bride of the last Adam (Christ). This is brought out in numerous passages.

Ephesians 5:31-32
"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

What God spoke to the woman in the Garden is intended as a natural picture of spiritual truth. The physical world reveals deep truths of the unseen Kingdom of God. Consider the following words as a parable.

Genesis 3:16
To the woman He said: "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you."

The woman is the church. She can only bring forth children through sorrow and pain. Even though this is the manner of bringing forth children, the church’s desire will remain toward her husband, Christ. He shall rule over her. As the church submits to her Head, she must obey His call. Yahshua has said, “Take up your cross and follow Me.” This is an invitation to embrace pain and suffering. It is the only manner in which children can be brought forth.

You may recognize that there is a problem with this parable. Most of the people in the body of Christ today are NOT submitting to Christ for Him to rule over them. They are NOT heeding the desire of the Husband. It should be kept in mind that Eve was formed from a remnant portion taken from Adam’s body. Christ too has a body. The bride of Christ is not the entire body, but a choice portion. There is a remnant that is taken from the body of Christ to become His bride, even as there was a remnant taken from Adam’s body to fashion Eve. If you would be part of the bride of Christ, your desire must remain toward Him. You must submit to Christ ruling over you, even when His pleasure in your life leads to pain and sorrow.

If Christians approached the study of the Scriptures with these things in mind, understanding the necessity of suffering, they would be less apt to misinterpret passages such as those relating to Stephen and Paul. Let us look carefully to what is revealed in these encounters.

The word “defense” is often used in relation to the acts of these men as they stood before their accusers. This is an appropriate word. Paul used a Greek word that is correctly translated as defense when he spoke of standing before his accusers.

II Timothy 4:16
At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me.

The Greek word translated as defense in this verse is “apologia.” It is the same root word from which we get our English words “apology” and “apologetics.” Apologetics is a fancy word one often finds in association with seminary studies. The World English Dictionary defines apologetics in the following manner.

•    The branch of theology concerned with the defense and rational justification of Christianity
•    A defensive method of argument

Our English word “apology” has greatly changed in meaning over the years. It originally meant “a defense, excuse, or justification in speech or writing, as for a cause or doctrine.” This word is still used in this manner today, but more often it is used to denote a person asking for forgiveness, demonstrating contriteness for some action, or words. This was not Paul’s meaning, however. He was giving a defense using rational justification. What must be determined is “what was Paul defending?” Was Paul defending himself, or defending the message he was preaching?

Let us begin by looking at Stephen’s “defense” before the Jewish leaders. Stephen gave a lengthy speech. The entire event is found between Acts 6:8 - 7:60. In Acts 7:2 Stephen begins his defense. He starts by speaking of Abraham, then speaks of Jacob and Joseph before ending with a long section on Moses. It is evident from this entire passage that Stephen is not defending himself. He is defending Christ as the one that all the prophets and patriarchs looked forward to. Stephen ends his defense with the following words:

Acts 7:51-53
"You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it."

If Stephen were motivated by a desire to deliver himself from suffering, this was not the way to do it. It is quite evident that self-protection was not Stephen’s motive. The reaction to Stephen’s words was intense and violent hatred. Those present gnashed their teeth at him, drove him outside, and stoned him to death while Stephen prayed that God would not lay these things to their charge. Among those in violent opposition to Stephen was Paul, for he had not yet been converted.

Soon afterwards we read of Paul’s conversion experience as he was on the road to Damascus where he intended to arrest and persecute Christians. He had a dramatic encounter with Christ that left him blinded for a season, and he was led into Damascus by the hand. God sent Ananias to speak to Paul.

Acts 9:15-16
The Lord said to [Ananias], "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake."

Undoubtedly, if Paul had set his mind to avoid suffering, he would have been working against the will of Yahweh. Those who would suggest that this was Paul’s motive when he gave a defense before the Jews and Romans have misjudged the man. Consider the following testimony from Paul’s own lips.

Colossians 1:24
I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church...

Acts 21:13
Then Paul answered, "What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Yahshua."

These words were not a mere idle boast. At this time Paul had already experienced most of the following:

II Corinthians 11:23-28
Are they ministers of Christ? - I speak as a fool - I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness - besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.

Paul was not focused on self-preservation. His focus was upon fulfilling the ministry entrusted to him, and finishing the course set before him. Paul was striving for the prize, and did not count his own life precious, so that he might be able to finish his course with joy.

Acts 20:22-24
And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Yahshua, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

In these words we find Paul’s true motive. This must be ever kept in mind as the saints look at the various encounters Paul had with the Jews and the Romans. There were occasions when Paul spoke a word that delivered him from suffering. Following is one example.

Acts 22:24-29
The commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, and said that he should be examined under scourging, so that he might know why they shouted so against him. And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, "Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?" When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying, "Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman."  Then the commander came and said to him, "Tell me, are you a Roman?" He said, "Yes."  The commander answered, "With a large sum I obtained this citizenship." And Paul said, "But I was born a citizen." Then immediately those who were about to examine him withdrew from him; and the commander was also afraid after he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.

There may also come occasions in the life of the saints where speaking up may deliver them from unnecessary suffering. It is evident from the pattern of Paul’s life that he was not consumed with a desire to escape suffering. Five times he received 39 lashes. It is recorded that Paul submitted to such lashing at the hand of the Romans on another occasion, only revealing that he was a Roman citizen after the fact.

Acts 16:37-40
But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out." And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans. Then they came and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from the city. So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.

What was Paul’s motive in revealing this information AFTER he had already been beaten? Undoubtedly, Paul had concern for the other Christians who remained in this city. It would greatly temper the attitude of these officials to know that they stood in some peril for an illegal act, leading them to pursue no further harassment against the Christians Paul left behind.

The Christian must guard against developing a theology of avoiding all suffering. There are times when Christ will deliver His people from the mouth of the lions, but there are also times when He would have them to embrace suffering. We must be content with whatever Christ chooses for us. There is no virtue in suffering when it is not the will of God. There are few today who err in this direction, however. The vast majority of the saints are erring by seeking to avoid all suffering. The doctrines of the church today have led many to conclude that Christ suffered so that they need not do so.

Christ said that ALL who would be His disciples must take up their cross and follow Him. Yahshua warned His disciples often that men would persecute them. Paul manifested a proper balance in his life to suffering. He did not go out of his way to avoid it, yet when the Spirit directed him to speak a word that would alleviate unnecessary suffering he spoke it. We too must be led of the Spirit in all things. I have stressed so much this subject of suffering as it is almost completely rejected, avoided, or misunderstood by the saints today.

A brother in Christ wrote to me yesterday the following:

Paul in many ways defended himself with wisdom the Holy Spirit gave him.  He used logic and divine wisdom AND the power of government to extricate himself away from probable death at the hands of the Jewish authorities, or being crucified by the Romans.  He also appealed to his own citizenship rights as a roman to get himself out of prison and a fairer trial at the hands of Caesar...

What this brother is referring to is Paul’s defense before the Roman Governor Festus. When Festus asked Paul if he were willing to return back to Jerusalem to be tried before the Jews, Paul answered in the following manner.

Acts 25:9-11
But Festus, wanting to do the Jews a favor, answered Paul and said, "Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and there be judged before me concerning these things?" So Paul said, "I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you very well know. For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar."

Was this an act of self-preservation, as the brother suggested? Was Paul simply seeking to get a hearing before Caesar, because he thought he would get a fairer trial? If we study the word of God as workmen that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of God, we will find that Paul had previously been told by God that he must go to Rome. Paul was not seeking to escape suffering, but rather to accomplish the will of God, and to finish his course and ministry. Prior to this encounter with Festus in chapter 25 of Acts, we read the following in chapter 19.

Acts 19:21-22
When these things were accomplished, Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome."

Note the highlighted words. This determination to go to Rome was not something Paul cooked up in his soul. He had no intent to go there to escape from the Jews. The Spirit had revealed to Paul that he must go to Rome. Yahweh affirmed this to Paul again, a short time later.

Acts 27:21-26
Paul stood in the midst of them and said..., “For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.' Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.”

In examining the various “defenses” that Paul gave, there is great evidence that Paul was not defending himself, but rather he was defending the message Christ had entrusted to him. Perhaps the greatest example of Paul’s focus is found in his words to King Agrippa, Bernice and Festus. This great defense is found in Acts chapter 26, comprising the entire chapter. Paul testified of his early life as a persecutor of the Christians. He speaks of his conversion and the ministry appointed to him by Christ. The effect of Paul’s words are revealed in King Agrippa’s response:

Acts 26:28
Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You almost persuade me to become a Christian."

Truly, this was Paul’s heart. He was giving a defense of Christ. There are some who would point to Paul’s various encounters with the Jews and Romans to support a contention that it is the will of God for Christians to take up a defense of self. Some are even advocating an armed defense. I have Christians who have written to me who are creating fortress like structures, and have prepared themselves by acquiring guns and bullets. People of God, such actions are not the will of the Father. Such a mindset is contrary to the pattern we see in the suffering of Christ and His disciples. How will the saints ever fulfill the following words penned by Paul and John if they set their focus on fighting evil men through physical force?

Romans 8:35-39
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Yahshua our Lord.

Revelation 12:11
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.

It is not coincidental that sheep are mentioned in both of these passages. Christ has given to His disciples the parable of sheep as they encounter evil men and women in this world. He demonstrated by His own life and death what the behavior of His disciples should be.

Isaiah 53:7
He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.

Christ was perfected as a son through the things He suffered. So too must we be brought to spiritual maturity through similar means.

Philippians 1:29
“For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake...”

Acts 14:22
"We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God."

As yesterday’s post testified, we are to be as sheep in the midst of wolves. The disciples of Christ are to conduct themselves wisely as serpents, they are to beware of men, while at the same time being “harmless as doves.”

Paul was not always perfect in this. On one occasion as he faced the Jews, he was ordered to be struck by the High Priest. Paul responded with reviling words:

Acts 23:1-5
Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, "Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day." And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?" And those who stood by said, "Do you revile God's high priest?" Then Paul said, "I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, 'You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.'"

People of God, it is truly wresting an interpretation from the Scripture to conclude that this passage supports adopting a combative attitude towards one’s accusers. Paul admitted his error.

Do you really want to rely upon your own cunning and strength to deliver you from the hands of evil men? There is no peace in such a course. You will always find someone more cunning, or more powerful and determined than you. Let us entrust our lives as Christ did to the One who judges righteously. Yahweh will not deliver us from all suffering, which is why many choose rather to lean upon their own abilities. Yet He has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us.

Isaiah 43:2-3
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior...”

Yahweh has determined that His people must be perfected through suffering. This message is found from Genesis to Revelation. Let us entrust our lives to Him, setting our eyes on the finish line. Let us adopt the attitude of Paul, not counting our lives as precious that we might finish our race with joy. Let us leave room for God to defend us. We are sheep. He is the Shepherd. His rod and His staff will protect us. Don’t take up the responsibility for your own defense. Admit your weakness in this area. When we are weak, He is strong.

I am confident that God will put every man and woman to the test in this area. He will prove to them whether they have acted wisely in that which they have chosen to look to for their deliverance and protection. If you are setting your confidence in the arm of the flesh, your confidence will be tested. Let the saints of God place their confidence in Yahweh.

How easy it is to begin to take up one’s own defense, only to see that the fruits of the flesh begin to manifest.

Galatians 5:19-21
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are... hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders... and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

When we begin to enter into strife with other men, it is difficult to keep our flesh out of it. When delivering ourselves becomes the focus, we lose sight of our call to be conformed to the image of Christ.

It requires faith in God to look to Him to deliver us, while at the same time asking Yahweh to be merciful to our adversaries. We are not apt to “speak a blessing when reviled,” or “bless those who curse you” when we have set our minds to contend with others. The fruit of the Spirit is revealed as we do not count our own lives precious to us. Then we are able to perfect the manifestation of patience, peace, gentleness, humility, longsuffering, and self-control.

Have you never been in a conversation where you began to defend yourself, only to find yourself losing patience, becoming angry, your voice rising, and speaking things you later regret? The surest way to avoid falling into a manifestation of the flesh is to not seek to defend it. Accept the blows of others with patience. Entrust your life to the Father.

I Peter 2:19-20
For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.

If you want to find in Scripture some justification to defend yourself, and contend with your adversaries, you will no doubt find it. Ask yourself, however, “Will following such a course  lead to a greater death to the flesh?” On the other hand, will choosing to not resist an evil person lead you to a greater humility and conformity to Christ? Yahshua said, “Whoever strikes you on the right cheek, turn to them the left also.” For the sake of conscience, this is the course I must choose.

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.


Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws    

Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
c/o Fair Harbor RV Park
515 Marshallville Road
Perry, GA 31069-3016

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sheep and Doves

Note: I thank everyone who sent me birthday greetings yesterday (May 7th, 2011). It was a significant day for me as I marked by 50th birthday. As I think back over the past year of my life, I could not have imagined all of the experiences that the Father would lead me through. I spent four months traveling the country, speaking at fifteen different locations. The Father led me from Georgia to Tennessee, Missouri, Texas, Arizona, California, Washington State, Idaho, South Dakota, Illinois, and Indiana. I met with many brothers and sisters in Christ, and made some wonderful new friends.

Along the way, the Father blessed me by letting me see some sights that I had long desired to see. I visited Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, and Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks in California. What amazing grandeur there is in Yahweh’s creation! Randy Simmons and I also paid a visit to the Oregon Dunes where we rode four wheelers across the mountains of sand, and chased one another through the hairpin turns of the smaller dunes near the Pacific Ocean.

Returning to Georgia, the Father unexpectedly gave a school bus back to me, and directed me to convert it to a motorhome. Many of you have followed my progress in that labor, contributing to the work in significant ways. After several months “The Dreamer” was ready for me to move in. What a blessing it has been to be living in this much larger accommodation since January 1st of this year.

During this past year the Spirit of Christ led me to write a new book, Laying Down the Law, to keep up a large correspondence via e-mail, to continue to teach through the Parables Blog, and to expand the Parables Newsletters that are mailed out to prisoners, and others who have requested them.

There have been trials along the way. In a number of places where the Father directed me to share His word, the message was rejected. Those teachings shared via the Internet have also met with strong opposition on many occasions. There were difficulties in traveling in a 25 year old van across deserts and mountains, but the Father saw me through it all. As I recently shared, the year ended with notice that I must go to court again in a couple weeks, and face the threat of more jail time. There is grace even in this, for it has led to a deepened faith as I fully entrust my life to Yahweh’s hands. I have been humbled to observe a number of brothers and sisters praying fervently on my behalf, some even with fasting.

Today as I write this, the date is 5-8, grace and new beginnings. We never know what a year will bring to our lives. In an hour where the world is becoming an increasingly tumultuous and unsettled place, where political upheaval and natural disasters are daily in the news, where the world financial markets are teetering on collapse, it is good to know there is a place of peace that the people of God can run to in a time of need. In the presence of Yahweh there is peace. In His hands are mercy and joy.

I can look back over the past year and declare, “Look what God has wrought!” I begin a new year of life resting securely in Yahweh’s hands. I have a Spirit of anticipation. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. Praise Yah! Hallelu-Yah!

Sheep and Doves
Joseph Herrin (05-08-2011)


Matthew 10:16
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

This post builds on the previous two. It will take a further look at the subject of non-resistance toward those who would do harm to the saints. In the Scripture above, how many positive animal types do you see, and how many negative? If you said, two and two, then I invite you to look again. There are actually three animals who are used as positive types for the disciples of Christ, and only one that is listed as a negative type.

You see it now, do you not? Christ compared His disciples to sheep, doves and serpents. There are character types specifically alluded to by each of these animals. Christ does not want His disciples to have every characteristic of these animals, for they each have their negative aspects. He has in mind certain and specific positive characteristics of each of these creatures.

When Christ speaks of sending His disciples out as sheep in the midst of wolves, He has in mind those characteristics of a sheep when it encounters a wolf. Sheep are in this instance innocent, helpless animals. Sheep are not known to fight with wolves. They are very ill prepared to do so. Sheep have no fangs, no claws. They do not have an aggressive, or combatant nature when facing wolves. Their main defense is to cry out, alerting the shepherd who cares for them, or to run.

As the sheep of Christ’s pasture, there are times when the people of God are exhorted to do either, or both, of these. The following Scripture exhorts the saints to not be anxious, but to let God know of their need. We are to cry out to Him in a time of need, maintaining our confidence in Him.

Philippians 4:6-7
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Yahshua.

To understand this attribute of a sheep trusting in the Great Shepherd, there is no better passage of Scripture to look at than the 23rd Psalm. David was a shepherd boy in his youth, and later he was chosen by God to shepherd the people of God. As a shepherd of sheep, David manifested the heart of Christ. David was watching over his father’s flocks, even as Christ watches over His Father’s flocks.

David recounts how he rescued his father’s sheep from the mouths of a lion and a bear. He laid his life on the line to safeguard the sheep. Truly, they could trust in him. David was no mere hireling. Should danger appear, or some predator threaten them, all the sheep needed to do was raise their voice and the shepherd would be quick and ready to defend them. As Christians, we have such a Shepherd who cares for our souls.

John 10:11-15
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”

Notice here that Christ describes an encounter between sheep and a wolf. What should the sheep do when the wolf comes? They should raise their voices, crying out to the Shepherd to help them. The Good Shepherd watches over us. He will most certainly attend to the voice of the sheep. He will not forsake them. Nothing can separate the disciples of Christ from His love.

Sheep may also at times be instructed by the shepherd to run. The Shepherd, aware that danger threatens the flocks may lead them to hastily depart one area to abide in another that is safer.

Matthew 10:23
When they persecute you in this city, flee to another.”

Understand that what is being taught in these Scriptures, and through the example of the sheep, is not that the sheep should be driven by fear. No! The sheep will always expose themselves if they run in any direction that the Shepherd does not instruct them to run. Christ was both a sheep, and a shepherd. He is called “the Lamb of God.” When He conducted His ministry upon the earth He was never driven by fear. At times He entered deliberately into areas where men were seeking His life, for it was the Father’s will that He go there.

John 11:5-11
Now Yahshua loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. Then after this He said to the disciples, "Let us go to Judea again." The disciples said to Him, "Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?" Yahshua answered, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.  But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him."

As long as we are walking with God, we are walking in the light. Though we walk through dark places, if the Light of the World is our shepherd, we remain in the light. There is a correlation between the words of Christ above, and David’s words in the 23rd Psalm.

Psalms 23:4-5
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies...

Valleys and shadows can be dark places. As long as we are walking with the Shepherd, we need not fear for our lives. The Shepherd will never lead us to an experience that will prove harmful to us. True, we may be called to suffer physically. Many have already died as martyrs while following the Shepherd. Yet, they experienced no spiritual, or lasting harm. The grace of God was with them. They did not face their adversaries alone. The Shepherd stood with them. Paul gives such a testimony at one point of his life.

II Timothy 4:16-17
At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion's mouth.

We know that Paul was not always rescued from the lion’s mouth. He suffered many things for Christ, yet he never suffered alone. So too will Christ, our Shepherd, strengthen us when we are called to stand and endure suffering for His name. There are times, however, when He will direct His sheep to flee to avoid suffering unnecessarily. Christ during His ministry heeded the guidance of the Spirit. There were times when the Spirit directed Yahshua away from harm. This began even before He was born.

Matthew 2:13
Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him."

Matthew 2:19-23
Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child's life are dead." Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee.

Christ remained sensitive to the leading of the Spirit in His adult years of ministry. He did not go to places where the Spirit warned Him not to travel.

John 7:1
After these things Yahshua was walking in Galilee, for He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him.

These then, are the characteristics of a sheep that the people of God are to emulate. They are to not fight with wolves. They are not to seek to defend themselves. They are to raise their voices when threatened, making their needs known to the Shepherd of their soul. They are also to heed the voice of the Shepherd and be careful to do all that He speaks to them. When He leads them through the valley of the shadow of death, they should follow, trusting in His rod and staff to protect them. When He leads them away from danger, they are also to follow.

After describing His disciples as sheep among wolves, Christ then compares His disciples to serpents. “Therefore, be wise as serpents...” The word serpent is derived from the same root as the English word “sapient,” which means “wise.” Notice that this is not the same as to be cunning as serpents. The serpent in the Garden of Eden was described as cunning. The word cunning denotes a wisdom that has been given over to selfish pursuit. The one who is cunning is wise in a distorted way. They have become devious, full of scheming. This is not the type of wisdom Christ wishes His disciples to employ.

I have encountered Christians who are full of scheming. Their minds are given over to devising plots to protect themselves in coming days of calamity and persecution. Giving one’s mind over to devise schemes does not lead to peace. It leads away from peace, promoting a sense of foreboding and anxiety. The people of God are not to scheme. They are merely to follow the leading of the Shepherd when He urges them to move on. If the Spirit guided Joseph to protect Mary and Yahshua, will He not do the same with those who have been born of the seed of Christ?

The following passage contrasts the wisdom from God and the cunning of Satan.

James 3:13-17
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

The wisdom Christ desires for His saints to walk in is pure, peaceable, gentle, and full of mercy. There is no selfish motive behind it. Christ is the epitome of wisdom. He testified of Himself, “A greater than Solomon is here.” This wisdom was pure, for Yahshua ever lived to do the will of the Father. He never sought to please Himself. It is wisdom that the sons of God walk circumspectly among the people of this world. We are to walk wisely not only among those who have no profession of faith in God, but among those who do. It was the religious who claimed to follow the God of Abraham, who delivered the Son of God up to be crucified. The wisdom of Yahshua was observed as He answered the Jews who were scheming to entrap Him with their questions.

Luke 20:20-26
So they watched [for an opportunity to ensnare] Him, and sent spies who pretended to be upright (honest and sincere), that they might lay hold of something He might say, so as to turn Him over to the control and authority of the governor. They asked Him, “Teacher, we know that You speak and teach what is right, and that You show no partiality to anyone but teach the way of God honestly and in truth. Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar or not?” But He recognized and understood their cunning and unscrupulousness and said to them, “Show Me a denarius (a coin)! Whose image and inscription does it have?” They answered, “Caesar's.” He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” So they could not in the presence of the people take hold of anything He said to turn it against Him; but marveling at His reply, they were silent.
[Amplified Bible]

This is the type of wisdom that Christ is encouraging His disciples to walk in. He does not want them to be unwise, acting naively toward the fallen, or religious, spirits that surround them. In the same passage that Christ speaks of being wise as serpents, He warns His disciples to “beware of men.”

Matthew 10:16-17
"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. And beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues...”

Serpents are wise in this area. Ever since the fall of man, serpents have learned to act wisely around men. Serpents understand that there is a natural enmity between man and serpents.

Genesis 3:14-15
So Yahweh God said to the serpent... “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Serpents have learned how to act wisely around mankind. They seek to not draw undue attention to themselves. They remain hidden when they are around those who might strike them. Christ, in exhorting His disciples to be wise as serpents, is instructing them to walk and speak prudently among men. He wants them to “beware of men,” knowing that those who do not love truth, or fear God, will seek to tear and rend the people of God at every opportunity. There is a natural enmity between the children of the devil, and the children of God.

Matthew 7:6
“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”

When I first began the ministry to which Christ appointed me, I was quite naive. I did not walk in the wisdom of serpents. Even now, I am learning to walk more wisely. The last time I was summoned to the courts, I learned that other Christians who had taken an adversarial position against me were reading my blog postings to find any material they might possibly use against me. I have been aware for some time that my blogs continue to be read by men and women whose motive is nothing other than to find some charge to accuse me.

The Spirit of Christ has testified to me that He has called me to experience many things before my brothers and sisters are to experience the same. Yahweh provided a parable through the van He provided for me. Vehicles symbolize ministry. The van God gave me was an Xplorer. It had a Pioneer stereo, and Pathfinder tires. The Spirit has testified to me that God has been leading me as an Explorer and Pioneer through many experiences that I might encourage His saints as they must follow a similar course. One thing God has been teaching me is to understand that I am sent out as a sheep among wolves and I need to act wisely as a serpent.

People of God, I do not want any man or woman to walk in fear. It is not the will of God that we be consumed with paranoia, or that we demonize all those around us. There are times when the Spirit will direct us to expose ourselves to misunderstanding and criticism. There are even times when He will lead us to speak words that will elicit the wrath and violence of men. We are to always be sensitive to the Spirit of Christ. We are to act wisely as serpents. We are to “beware of men” as we follow that course God has appointed to us.

There are days close at hand when these words I write will be very important for a remnant of God’s people. Consider carefully the words of Christ that follow in this same passage where the disciples of Christ are exhorted to be wise as serpents and to beware of men. Just a few verses further down, Christ says:

Matthew 10:21-22
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name...”

People of God, I tell you plainly, the day is coming when the members of your own household will believe it to be the righteous thing to deliver you to the courts for punishment, imprisonment, and even death. Because the church has become apostate, having fallen away from the truth proclaimed by Christ, exchanging truth with lies, they will believe they are doing God a favor by putting the true disciples of Christ to death.

John 16:2-3
“They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.”

Is it not apparent that this earth is growing increasingly dark? The blood of tens of millions of babies cries out from the ground of America. The government is aggressively promoting homosexuality. Music and television has become perversely corrupted, spewing out rivers of filthy language, and obscene images, bringing spiritual death to millions. The church, in order to maintain its peaceful coexistence in the world, has been compromising more and more until there is almost no truth left in her. Soon, both the world, and an apostate church, will turn on the true disciples of Christ and deliver them up to persecution and death.

Christ says, “I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore, be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” This last comparison to doves is easily understood. Christians are not to fight back against the darkness through fleshly means. They are not to engage in armed conflict. They are not to adopt the ways of a fallen world in order to protect themselves. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal. The weapons of Christ’s disciples are not guns and bullets. It is a great paradox, but the disciples of Christ conquer as they offer no resistance to those who would persecute them.

Romans 8:35-37
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

The people of God are to be innocent as lambs, yet not naive. They are to be wise as serpents, yet harmless as doves to those they encounter. This was ever the example of Christ and His disciples. Let it be our example as well.


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Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
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