Author Archives: On The Porch

About On The Porch

On The Porch is based on the Book of Acts fellowship who met on Solomon's Porch and then went to the homes. It was about a relationship, worship, and community. And, while focused on their spiritual beliefs, it overflowed into every part of their life. One passion for the Lord and for one another meant a passion for the world.

Eternal Value

As I begin my withdrawal from social media I’ve discovered that many of the thoughts/topics that filled my mind no longer seem interesting to me.  Of course, much of the time was consumed with obtaining information for topics on a regular podcast I did for almost 8 years.  Now that I no longer do that particular podcast I’ve come to realize that the time consumed in research no longer appeals to me.  The revelation has been that although my efforts to inform and reveal insights to the listeners were sincere, the information itself had no eternal value.  It changed minds, gave knowledge, may have touched a heart but didn’t change, heal or repair a soul.  It had no eternal value.  My desire now is to focus on things that have eternal value.

Philippians 4:8  And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Colossians 3:2  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

Beautiful sunshine

RJ Grund

Anti-Social Media

SocialMedia

As we see the exposure of social media for the trojan horse it was always meant to be we have to decide what to do.  Do we sever all ties and shut down all of our accounts?  Do we ignore the information flooding out about the deceptive practices of the social media giants?  What do we do?

I don’t have an answer for you.  I can only answer for myself.  And, after prayerful consideration, I am moving away from the social media giants.  Is that too little too late?  It probably is.  What we are learning now about Facebook’s data collection practices of all Facebook members and even non-members, we have to realize that the horses are out of the barn.  Even so, we must close the barn door anyways so as not to keep the predators out.  To do nothing at all is as foolish as entering the quagmire to begin with.  Once you realize you’ve stepped into quicksand you don’t just sink to the bottom and die.  You fight with all your might to extricate yourself and get free.

You have to ask yourself the question – has social media helped you, hurt you or do nothing at all?  All the time spent on social media acting “social” really is deceptive.  All of the people you are connected to on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. aren’t really your friends.  Some may be but most are total strangers that you’ve now given access to your personal and family life.  In fact, you don’t really know if they are who they say they are.  Maybe, like me, you’ve reconnected with friends or family you lost touch with. That seems to make this all worthwhile but truthfully all it did was make it easier.  A little more effort expended in finding a home or email address, mutual friends/family or a simple Google search (which brings another set of questions too) may have done the same thing.

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As you see, there really is no simple answer to this quandary.  What is simple is the fact that all of the social media giants have sold our data to third parties.  It’s how they offer their sites for “free”.  Aldous Huxley and George Orwell had visions of this type of society.  They just didn’t think it would be this easy.  And, they most certainly didn’t think their fiction would become a blueprint for these events.

What do you think?

Share your thoughts and comments.  All comments will be monitored.  Any profanity, abuse or off-topic interaction will be deleted.

Richard

Conformity

 

“Character is always lost when a high ideal is sacrificed

on the altar of conformity and popularity.”

Charles Spurgeon

 

John 12:42 ( NKJV ) Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 

In the above scripture we see that many rulers believed in Yeshua/Jesus but because of their fear of being put out of the synagogue, they did not confess that they believed in Him.  Their fear of man and man’s reaction to their choice kept them from being open about the faith.  They were conforming to the expected norms of their society instead of being open about their beliefs.

What is conformity?

Conformity – behavior or thought that is socially acceptable or expected; agreement, correspondence, or similarity in structure, manner, or character.

In the Spurgeon quote, we see what happens when we sacrifice our ideals for acceptance.  We lose our character and integrity.

Psalms 29:5 tells us that fearing people is a dangerous trap.  In the KJV and the NKJV the word for a trap is “snare” which is a hook or a noose.  Generally, it means something that is elevated off of the ground so that once the target is hooked it cannot get any footing to escape.  So, when we give into the fear of man, of what people think about us we lose our footing and cannot get away.  We cannot take a stand for the things we should.  We become powerless.

One of the best examples of this other then the above scripture and the story of Nicodemus coming to speak to Yeshua/Jesus at night so that no one could see him is the Apostle Peter after the Lord has been arrested in Luke 22:54-62.

We see in this part of scripture that as the Lord is being led to the house of the high priest Peter follows at a distance (verse 54).  He wanted to be with the Lord but his fear kept him in the courtyard with the crowds that had gathered.  In verse 56 we read where a servant girl recognized him as a follower of Yeshua/Jesus.  Because of fear he has lost his integrity and commitment to the Lord and denies he knows Him (verse 57).  He tried to fit in with them but once you know the Lord you cannot fit in no matter how hard you try. I wonder what was going on inside of Peter at that moment.  In a split second, he denied he even knew Him.  Did he duck his head and try to hide?  Probably.  But when the enemy sees you compromise he smells blood, your blood, and the demonic sharks begin to circle you.

In verse 58 another person notices him and says “You also are one of them.”  Instead of proudly saying “Yes I am!”  he says “Man, I am not!”  It most likely got easier the second time.  Compromise always does.  For an hour no one said anything to him except his guilty conscience speaking inside his heart and the voice of condemnation in his ear.  By now Peter is probably bound up by fear.  Fear for the Lord’s well being, fear about what would happen to them and fear that he would be found in the courtyard and punished as well.  I will bet it was the longest hour of his life and just like the enemy to back off just enough to catch you off guard.  And then comes the final slip of the knot.  The final wrap of the snare around Peter’s ankle.

Luke 22:59-62 ( NKJV ) Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.” 
But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 
And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 
So Peter went out and wept bitterly. 

And the Lord turned and looked at Peter.

In a split second, Peter’s heart was broken because he knew that not only had he let the Lord down but he knew the Lord saw it.  When their eyes met no words needed to be spoken.  What did he see when he looked into the Lord’s eyes.  Sadness?  Sorrow?  Disappointment?  It’s not like the Lord didn’t know he was going to do it.  He had told Peter so only hours before.

Luke 22:31-34 ( NKJV ) And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.” Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.”

By these words we know He knew Peter would fail the test –  and when you have returned to Me.

Verse 62 tells us so much more then our English language can say.  In the original Greek that was translated into the KJV in 1611, it says that Peter didn’t just weep.  The words used for “wept bitterly” means he sobbed and wailed violently.    You know what that is.  Gut wrenching, violent chest heaving sobs.  The kind of sobbing where you cannot catch your breath and it hurts so bad that death would be pleasant.  Peter had looked into the eyes of the Man who for three years had not only been his Master and Teacher but also his best friend and knew he had let him down.  How would you feel if you knew He was watching you at your moment of conformity?

Adding to that pain was the knowledge that John was inside with Yeshua/Jesus.  In John Chapter 18 we read that John had gone in with the Lord while Peter waited fearfully outside.  He was supposed to be the leader and the strong one and he was outdone by the youngest of the disciples.  This would be a sad ending if we didn’t already know that when the Lord rose from the dead an angel told the women who had come to dress the Lord’s body in Mark 16:7 to tell the disciples and Peter (bold letters mine) to meet the Lord in Galilee.  How cool is that?  The Lord wanted to make sure Peter knew he was welcome.

You see the Lord knows your failures.  He’s seen the end from the beginning and He knows where and when you will fail Him but He’s already making a way for you to return to Him.  He didn’t stay to Peter “if you return to Me” He said, “when you have returned to Me.” He’s already made a way for you when you fail that test.  An angel is waiting to be dispatched to remind you where to meet Him.

No matter what you’ve done He’s letting you know you are welcome to come back.

If you understand what happened to Peter, you can understand why he never backed down again.  He was bold for the Lord and set his heart to never let the Lord down again.  We see that in his answers every time he was arrested and told to stop preaching about the Messiah.  We see it in his boldness after the Upper Room.  He stood up in a public square filled with thousands of people, maybe millions of people, and preached the first sermon of the New Church.  That boldness was born from brokenness and sealed by love.

Where are you right now in your walk with the Lord?  If push came to shove would you stand up for Him and His Word or would the fear of man ensnare you?  How easily do you compromise or confirm when the risk is your livelihood or acceptance from people who you want to impress?  Is there anything in this World that can keep you from boldly and publicly saying ‘YES!” when they ask “are you one of them”?  Or, will you drop your head, hide your eyes and deny Him by your words or your actions?  Just sitting in a pew isn’t enough.  We are called to live it for everyone to see.

Matthew 5:14-16 ( NKJV ) “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

You might be saying “I want to be like this, but I don’t know how!”  What is your fear?  What could it cost you to take a stance for the Lord?  Is that cost worth what it does to you inside?  Is it worth giving up your character for?  Is it worth losing your footing and being ensnared by that fear?  Only you can answer that question.  Personally, I don’t know any other way to live.  I have to live with that Light shining no matter what the cost.  I love Him so much for what He’s done for me and how much He has loved me that I believe I would have been like John.  I would have marched into Caiaphas’ house with Him and been standing at the foot of the Cross too.  He died for me.  Can I do any less than live for Him?!  But, even if I were like Peter I know that He will be waiting for me to return and embrace me with open arms as He did Peter in John Chapter 21.

Find out where your thoughts and decisions have led you to conform.  Ask the Ruach HaKodesh/Holy Spirit to change the way you think.  That’s what the Apostle Paul, who knew all too well the cost of following the Lord, meant in Romans 12:2.

Romans 12:2 ( NKJV ) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. 

Romans 12:2 ( NLT ) Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. 

When you do you will feel that rope slip off of your ankle and you will be set free from the snare of this World and what people think about you.

You will never be the same!

Shalom & Blessings,

Richard J Grund

 

 

 

Lessons Learned from Irma

Hurricane Irma, which formed on August 30th and dissipated on September 13th, was the most powerful hurricane since Hurricane Dean in 2007. It was the most intense storm since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  It had sustained 185 mph winds for 37 hours.  That makes it the strongest and the longest sustained intensity on record.  Hurricane Irma spent more time as a CAT 5 hurricane than any other storm in recorded history with as much cyclone energy as an entire Hurricane season.  It inflicted catastrophic damage in the Caribbean, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina.  The death toll has risen to 82 with an estimated 62 Billion Dollars in damages.  Millions are without electricity in Florida and the Caribbean.  I was without power for a sweltering 7 days and 8 nights. Some may be without power for weeks or even months.  And, in the midst of it all, there were lessons to be learned from Irma.

When you strip away the “toys” and wealth and the perks of society, we are all the same.  Whether you spent your time in a home, hotel, or shelter we were all people in need.  Some of the worst destruction was seen by those who supposedly live the “good life” with a home on the water.  Movie and music stars saw their Million Dollar vacation homes on Caribbean Islands treated just as disrespectfully by Hurricane Irma as every other home in its path.  Who you were or how much money you had meant nothing to those pounding winds and waves.

I was raised to believe that no one was better than anyone else.  We all put our shoes on one foot at a time and until I hear of someone being able to jump into their pants both legs at once, that goes for pants too.  What makes us different is the lies of this world and the manipulation of society.  Children don’t see skin color as a difference until someone tells them it is.  Societal status is inflicted up us to keep us “in our place”.  And, none of that comes from God.  if we measured ourselves by Him and His Word we would know that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made in His image.  We would also treat each other accordingly.

Not having the electricity to keep the TV on or my laptop charged forced me to limit time on my devices to listen to Him more.  Sometimes it takes being still to know that He is God and that we need Him.  I suspect some people prayed during Hurricane Irma that had not prayed in a while.  Events like Hurricane Irma force us to be plugged into Him and not into an outlet.  Was it uncomfortable?  My mind told me it was but in truth, it was no less uncomfortable than life before technological comforts.  We talk about the “end times” but do we consider that the fear, trials, and stress of Hurricane Irma (and those that come afterward) could just be a prelude and preview to the end of days.  I have considered all of the above and more.

What have you learned about yourself and this world during the last week?  Whatever it was, hold on to it and keep it close at hand.  The power is flowing once again to distract you away from the simplicity of a life whose heart, mind and soul are set on God.  He rewards those who diligently seek Him and want to be with Him.  And, all I truly want, is just to be in His presence.  That to me is my reward.  And, when I am doing that it causes me to appreciate the things of value in my life – family, friends, and pets.  Everything else is replaceable.

Thank you, Hurricane Irma, for reminding us of what really matters.

 

Exposure

 Ephesians 5:11-14 11  Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. 12  It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13  But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, 14  for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Messiah will give you light.”

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The Apostle Paul was referring to the depraved practices going on in the Ephesus caves.  Bacchanalian orgies and rituals were being done in secret and some in the church either knew about it or were still participating in them.  The new Believers in Ephesus had come out of that darkness (Ephesians 5:8)

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Notice that he doesn’t say anything about the workers of darkness but instead focuses on the darkness itself.  Darkness is the absence of Light and is exposed when the Light of Truth is shined on them.  

Expose (Greek: elengcho) means to reprove, rebuke and testify against.  It’s a verb and therefore indicates action.  And the Light in question is the fiery Light of the Holy Spirit:  John 16:8 (NKJV) 8  And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

The Spirit of Truth is one of the greatest weapons against the powers of darkness.  And, again, that means we must act to do so.  Do not be fooled though and think there will be no reaction from the enemy.  No, the enemy will be fierce in its reaction and we should be ready for it.  It HATES being exposed.

John 3:20-21 (NKJV) 20  For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21  But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

We are seeing this now in the world as the battle between Light and darkness rages on every level from politics, media, religion and societal values.  And, as verse 14 of Ephesians 5 mandate WE MUST WAKE UP!

triumph-of-evilSilence and inaction is implied consent. And, that cannot continue.  As those who live in the Light we must shine that Light into the darkness and expose it.  Confront it.  Rebuke it.  Or, allow it to triumph and become defeated by it.

So, my closing thought here is this, Ephesians 6:13 (NKJV) 13  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand firmly in place.

Dig those heels in and SHINE!

Richard J Grund

Baby Girl

Baby Girl
by
Richard J Grund
 
For a few years now there has been a feral cat that comes to our home to be fed. She was led here by our next-door neighbor’s cat who showed her his feeding dish outside our door. Yes, he’s our next-door neighbor’s cat but she’s not home much so he comes here to be fed. We got him an outdoor dish and one day there she was with him. They must have had a bad break up because he hisses when he sees her now but still lets her use the dish. He doesn’t drive her off or attack her as he does any other cat that thinks they’ve struck cat gold.
 
She’s a very petite little lady. And, very skittish. She would eat the food but if you were anywhere in the vicinity she would take off running. Not too far mind you but far enough to be out of reach. It appeared that she did not trust people. One of her ears had been tipped so it appears someone had her fixed and turned her loose. We would speak to her in soothing, loving tones every time we saw her and never chased her. Over time she would move away from the dish but not as far as before. Her sweet, small feminine face would look at you from a distance. There was no way to know how old she was. So, we started calling her Baby Girl because she was so small and very much a girl.
 
Over time she would wait to be fed and when we went back inside she would venture near the dish. Always looking and watching for another cat or for someone coming by. If either of those happened she’d run underneath our fence and off into the yard. Just one sound from our door and she’d be off and running. We had no idea where she went or where she stayed at night. Sometimes during the day she’d lie in the sun off the side of our driveway and when it got too hot would slide under the shade of a tree or my SUV. We never gave up trying to win her trust. Eventually, that effort would pay off.
 
One day I opened the door to see her sitting at the end of the walk near our front door. She was waiting to be fed. I spoke to her, saying “Hello Baby Girl”. She watched me carefully to make sure I didn’t move toward her. And, I never did. I would place the food in the dish and change the water. Before going back inside I’d invite her over and tell her to come eat. Once the door was closed she would come over to the dish. This went on for weeks until one morning she was just a few feet away from the door. She was now showing up last thing at night as well. She knew she had a good thing going. I greeted her as I always did and set down her food. She had come realize I would not hurt her nor try to grab her. This was our new routine until one day the ice was broken.
 
On this morning when she was at the door and I set the food down she was suddenly right next to my feet. I dared to risk petting her that day by lowering my hand so that she could see it and put it near her head. She didn’t move so I gently touched her head. I gave it a gentle pat and soft scratch behind the ear. She leaned into it and the rest they say is history. Every morning and night she’d be out there to be fed. Waiting to have her head rubbed, ears scratched and to rub against my legs. Baby Girl and I were friends. She was always looking at the door to open or the window for me to look out. When I opened the door, she would meow away her story for the day and we’d go through our routine. I would take the dogs out early in the morning usually, around 6 am and she’d be waiting. If she wasn’t there I’d worry about her and when she showed up that night, I’d lovingly scold her for frightening me. I’d get a few meows; a leg rub and we were good.
 
About a month ago both she and my neighbor’s cat went missing at the same time. I suspected someone had taken them. They’re both black and there are people that use black cats for ritualistic purposes. It upset me because I feared for her safety and wellbeing. I’d come to care for her and would want to know if anything ever happened to her. Outdoor cats don’t have long life expectancies and I had come to realize that Baby Girl wasn’t as young as she appeared. One day she looked up at me in the bright sunshine and I could see her eyes were clouded with cataracts. She was obviously older than we knew. No matter. However long it was that she had we wanted to be safe and pleasant. Not seeing her waiting for me that week hurt our heart. My wife too had fallen in love with her and even though she didn’t let Deb pet her she did wait for the food from a nearby, safe distance.
 
Then, one morning after about a week as I glanced outside there she was. Thinner but seemingly unharmed. I grabbed some food, dumped the entire can with kibble in a paper plate and ran outside. I told her how much we missed her and worried we were about her. She meowed the whole story as she snaked in between my legs rubbing them furiously. And, the neighbor’s cat was found the same day. I believe they got away together from whoever took them. She would have made someone a great lap cat if not for how feral she was. If we did not have two big dogs that we knew would not accept her, we would have tried and brought her inside. But that was not an option.
 
Next to the food dish is an old cat carrier we had. I set it up with a soft rug on top and a bathroom rug inside. She would sometimes lay on top when it was warm and even took to sleeping there at night. A few weeks ago, we got hit with a cold spell and I worked on showing her the inside of the box where she could stay dry and warm. Once she discovered it we found her sleeping there regularly. We would look out the window after she finished eating and she’d be inside the box asleep. Sometimes she’d look up with those felines eyes, give that blink and contentedly go back to sleep.
 
By this time, she was not coming by alone. Another feral cat with a crooked paw was coming by too. Now I was setting down food for two. He was much more feral than she and didn’t seem to like people. But, I eventually won him over too. Just yesterday morning he was at my feet watching her get petted and touched. Although he didn’t lean in for it, he didn’t run either. He even let his tail touch my leg but moved when I lowered my hand toward him. It would only be a matter of time before he would be getting petted too. It was great to see her have a friend and when the food arrived it was a head-butting, purring love fest between the two. So much so I’d have to step carefully because they’d stay right in front of the door.
 
This morning I was up early. I looked outside expecting to see her and her friend as I had for months now. Neither one of them was there. This happened periodically that they would sleep in somewhere. They had full bellies from the night before. So, I thought they were sleeping it off. But, I kept going to the window to check on her arrival. She was never there. About 10:30 am our neighbor’s cat, whose name is Baby but we call Moochie for obvious reasons, was at the window demanding to be fed. When I say demanding I mean it. So, I got his food and headed back to the dish. That was when I saw her. One of her sleeping spots at night was near our car where she could dart underneath if in danger. There she was. She had been there all along. My heart jumped to see her. It appeared she was sleeping. I called out her name. She didn’t move. She wasn’t sleeping.
 
Sometime during the night, she must have passed. From the open eyes and tongue hanging out, it appeared to be a stroke. We have had cats and I’ve seen this look twice before. I simply muttered, “Oh, Baby Girl…” and shed a tear for a feral cat that had won my heart. She had been gone for a while as her body was already stiff. She probably died not long after I fed her last night giving her one last scratch of the head and getting one last rub of my leg. I buried her in her favorite spot next to the driveway. This had become her home and we her family. I figured she deserved at least to have that. Maybe it was more for us than for her but it felt right. I would never have to wonder now where she was or if she was safe. She’s home.
 
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your justice like the ocean depths.
You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.
Psalm 36:6 (NLT)
 
Richard J Grund

Don’t Break the Seal

This morning while preparing to make our morning smoothies, my wife couldn’t get the bag of frozen fruit open.  I told her to use her thumb to break the seal and it would open.

Immediately my warped sense of humor inspired me to blurted out, “And, that is never a phrase to use around prophecy teachers.  It triggers them.”048

At first it was meant as a wise crack but the more I thought about it the more it became a serious thought.

In today’s digital society everyone who has an idea, thought, theory or simple mental short circuit can post it online, build a following and make money.

Everyone is either a “prophecy teacher” or a “watchman on the wall”.  Because of that we not only get a wide range of teachings but an equally wide range of overreaction to any world event.

1 Corinthians 13:11-12 (NLT) 11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

All that we know now is partial and incomplete.  He will fill in all the blanks in the twinkling of an eye.  At that moment we will realize how off we were in trying to discern His actions.

Isaiah 55:8-9  (NKJV)

8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.

9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways,

And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Hold loosely to what you think you know as “revelation” and make it line up with The Word.  Don’t manipulate The Word to match your “revelation”.

It won’t work.

He made sure of that.

Be careful to preface any insight or revelation with the fact that it is a belief or a theory but may not be a fact.  Oh, and the “thus says the Lord” thing went out of style in the 1600’s.  In case no one told you, He doesn’t speak in King James english.

There is no doubt that the days ahead will be tumultuous but in the midst of it all we can live a life of the peace that surpasses understanding because we belong to Him.

Study, prepare and pray.  We are told to do that.

Then, trust Him and let God be God.  We are told to do that too.

Who knows, He may surprise you with a rainbow when you were expecting a storm.

And, He may shock you with lightning when you, or someone you follow, “prophesied” sunshine.

transformers3-shia-running-fullOh, and for the fun of it sometime, run into a conference room full of prophecy students listening with baited breath for the next recycled teaching or new revelation and shout…”the seal is broken”.

 

Just don’t stand in the door way.

Richard J Grund