Sunday, September 21, 2014

Again and Again and Again - The Cross

AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN
THE CROSS

To most the cross is a religious symbol. To some it is a talisman. To some it is a martyr. To some it is sad. To some it was a death of a Jew. And to some it was the payment for our sins. But to the masses of unbelievers and believers alike it is mostly ignored on a daily basis and it only enters the mind briefly on Sunday mornings…sometimes.

But the cross where the Lord Jesus suffered and gave His very life is the deepest and most profound mystery of all eternity. Once a sinner has embraced Jesus as Savior and become born again by God’s Spirit most trudge along in this world with a shallow and stagnant recognition of the cross in the redemption process. But few have opened their hearts and beseeched the Spirit to guide them into the sacred treasures that are embedded within that cross.

It is the revelation of God’s shekinah uncovered to the world. It is the place where the Holiest of All was carried out from inside the Tabernacle and instead of blinding eyes it gave sight to whosoever would look and live. Who can really know it? That God became a man is a colossal mystery, but that this God-man would, or even could, die is injustice at its very zenith bringing forth an eternal justice for those who actually were unjust.

The pure and innocent Lamb was slaughtered publicly and that horrific event was recorded so that all generations could know it. Do you understand how much you still do not understand about that glorious mystery? To recite some theology and some doctrinal treatise and then walk away as if you can now move on is to mock that bloody tree indeed. This gift to humanity can be fully received by simple but powerful faith, but to open that gift will take a lifetime. To use it once and only once is to abuse it.

Oh the wonder of Jesus and His passion! How can God, who knew the depth of our sin and the complete and utter enjoyment of our sin, how can a holy God find love for such miscreants? And how can a holy God enter into this time and space as one of us? And how can a holy God who needs nothing but yet comes to seek and save that which was lost? And how can a holy God allow Himself to be impaled upon a tree He had made, and then battered and beaten and mocked, and then this holy God writhes in mortal pain unlike any other, and then this holy God dies?

That remains in another league of comprehension. But once you realize you have only scratched the surface, and once your heart begins to beat for more of Him, then and only then can the Spirit guide you into realms unknown in the natural. It is there where you will find eternal bread and living water and treasures of knowledge that somehow can change your inward being from one glory into another. And it all begins and ends with that cross.

I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by to know no gain or loss,
My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.

And yet do we abide? Do we recline under the shadow of its mighty wings? Do we draw our very life from its power? Does it break and humble us so that it alone can receive the glory? My glory all the cross? Should we not bow quietly before the cross of our Lord and gaze at its crimson power and open our vessels in order to decrease our sinful selves and increase this Crucified and yet Risen Lamb? Please do not get lost in the metaphors and treat this as a wonderful story alone. This is much more than a story even if you have come to understand its meaning and power.

This is God’s heart, the very essence of Who He was and is and ever will be, being laid down for all human kind. This is the Great Shepherd searching diligently for His lost sheep through a path of repulsive wounds and excruciating breaths and bloody sweat and cruel taunts, and driven by a love we can never know in all its fullness. But one day we shall see Him as He is and on some level we will be like Him.

But let the expectation of that coming day of eternal grace propel you to seek Jesus and His sacrifice with a passion and determination that makes the world wonder why and makes the visible church deem you as self righteous and fanatical. And lest we ever feel proud about all that just remember this: To see with spirit eyes the Spirit pull back the veil ever so slightly and allow you to see and more fully understand the crucifixion of Jesus the Christ will humble you beyond anything you could ever imagine. You will be viscerally reviled at your own sinful self and at the same time you will experience a redemptive love that can only come from God and placed within you by His Spirit. In essence, you will be overwhelmed.

And then you will seek to return to that place again and again.
If not, then you still have never come to Golgotha.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Sheep of Babylon

THE SHEEP OF BABYLON

The Scriptures accurately reveal that humans have a fear of death. It is subliminal and sometimes overt. We exercise and take medication and visit doctors in order to avoid it. But when you have the assurance of eternal life it alters the way you feel about your earthly life. Yes you still enjoy food and some entertainment and sports and family and many other things. However, now your focus has changed. You now live with eternal eyes. To be sure they come in and out of focus but that is due to our own vacillations.

Jesus Himself said “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?” So millions of church going people seek fulfillment in this life and treat eternity like a trapeze artist treats the net below. It is more of a “just in case” than it is a living reality. Few desire to place all their eggs in one basket although if pressed they might make that claim with their lips. But this thing called “Christianity” has never been the religious wing of a western lifestyle.

The true faith calls for our lives. It beckens us to forsake all even in the midst of all. It commands us to deny self and take up a cross. Those are flowery words which when taken literally present a colossal reality. To follow Jesus is a living death experience which brings forth joy unspeakable and full of glory. This is beyond religion. This is the highest calling for anyone born of a woman. It is life and life everlasting.

But be aware that this is the only path which leads to eternal life. It is not an elective, and we are called to unravel both its mystery as well as its practice throughout our lives. Imperfect as we are, and walking completely in His grace, we are still called and empowered by the Spirit to come out from among them and be separate. We live and breathe and have our being in a kingdom not of this world.

But just as in Jerusalem, the walls have been burned with fire and crumbled down and the visible church for the most part has been carried off to Babylon where millions have found comfort and pleasure and self esteem. There are a few Daniels and a few Ezras but for the most part they are seen as eccentric relics and many times ridiculed. Their voice seems so distant and out of touch because after all there are well coiffed and learned men who are feeding the Babylonian sheep through spoons of personality, oratorical prowess, and enticing word’s of men’s wisdom. And the sheep of Babylon love to have it so.

And little by little the ecclesiastical community has constructed a wonderful religion which costs nothing except a token offering once a week and a building fund pledge. And the music is wonderful, the activities are wonderful, the buildings are wonderful, the staff is wonderful, the preacher is wonderful, and the fellowship is wonderful. Yes, everything is wonderful. And when someone weeps it is almost always concerning a personal grief or problem but never over the souls of men or the condition of the church. So all energies are directed as assuaging anything which inhibits personal happiness.

The modern day church world is consumed with fixing men’s earthly lives and by so doing their interest, much less passion, concerning men’s eternal souls is almost non-existent. The Spirit which causes John Knox to say to God, “Give me Scotland or I die!” is now just an historical curiosity. Are there all night prayer meetings of intercession? Are there many tears of grief? Are there fastings for power to reach souls? Do congregations deny themselves and beseech God to be used to spread the gospel top a lost and dying world?

To be honest, the faith which follows and preaches and lives Jesus has all but been replaced by a human faith which uses Jesus’ name but practices what He never did. And souls all around us are perishing. The only explanation is that we do not believe it, and we cherish our own lives more than the souls of men. What a disgrace.

I have no timetable for the Lord’s return, however I do know this: There is coming an end. The story of humankind will come to an end. It will not be because of any terrorist group or any world war or any natural disaster. The end will come swiftly once it begins and it will come at the hands of the Creator. The same Scriptures which teach love and patience and grace also reveal a terrible day when Jesus will return and visit the entire earth with His wrath. Does that seem so out of character to you?

Well that is because pulpit profiteers have presented to you a false and incomplete vision of Jesus. I urge you to read through the New Testament yourself in one month and listen to what the Spirit tells your heart.

What if you became aware that the western church construct was built upon the desires and needs of man and not the desires of God? In other words, what if for an unguarded moment you entertained the idea that all of the was working against the purposes of God and His kingdom? And even if you thought about it for an instant, would you have the spiritual energy to seek the truth? Let me put it another way. Do you really want to know the truth? Or are you satisfied with others telling you what they say is the truth? After reading the Book of Acts, and after knowing the plight of the martyrs, can you honestly suggest that what goes on now is the powerful salt and light God calls the church?

In essence, is this really all there or does following Jesus require a much deeper commitment which also comes with an inward glory that eclipses anything here on earth and alters your mind, heart, and life? Or is the redundant display of Sunday morning caravans which change nothing and is as powerless and predicable as an Elk’s club meeting?

Each one of us will have to decide these questions, but it must begin with consuming God’s Word and with an open heart to the voice of the Spirit.

But we live among the sheep and the goats in Babylon. The goats love it. They wallow in it. It meets their lusts and fulfills their dreams. It captures their hearts and ministers to their souls. They live and breathe within its fallen power. But in an amazing and disconcerting truth, most of who call themselves “sheep” feel the same as do the goats.

But you must admit these Babylonian sheep sure do know how to have church, but they do not know how to be the church.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

The Calling of the Cross

THE CALLING OF THE CROSS

Matt.16: 24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

The heart, the soul, the core, and the very life of the faith has given way to manmade schemes and desires of the flesh. No longer does the church follow hard after the cross. No longer do we embrace hardships and sufferings like a badge of discipleship for Him. Now we wallow in evangelical games which profit nothing and lead us away from that magnificent tree. Oh the shame of it all! Oh the profound treason!

But, dear friends, let us take a journey once again and implore the Spirit to emblazon this cross upon our very hearts so that we become its willing prisoner. In an insidious strategy the religious flesh has taken what must be our life and made it a doctrine. But that cross, this cross, radiates a spirit which seeks ears that can hear and eyes that can see and hearts that will open. But beware, this spirit leads to a place of suffering and death. It is a place of profound spiritual delight wrapped in profound anguish. It calls us to die.

How can we describe the Creator with human words? He alone is infinite and all powerful. He has no guides. He needs no advice. He does not think because He knows all of time from its beginning to its end. His glory is blinding. His beauty is breathtaking and challenges the imagination. His glory burns the soul. He is august and untouched by any imperfection. He is THE magnificent being. Oh how can we even speak at such a vision?

All things are within His plan and all things were created at His breath. All things still consist by Him alone in some unsearchable way. His dwelling place, if we can even call it that, is the expanse of heaven itself. The most beautiful beings ever created hover around Him calling Him holy. To say that sight must be spectacular is to diminish the fathomless sight of the Risen Christ whose very face lights up eternity. So how and why would such a Being desire man? What is man the He is mindful of him?

The incarnation. A miracle of miracles. Reduced to infant sentimentality by the church, this baby was where deity kissed humanity and eternity stepped into the temporal. This was Yeshua veiled in human flesh. This was the Word made flesh. There can be no mistake…this was God come down to find and save His sworn enemies. Can you even bring yourself to embrace such a thought? God comes as a man and dwells among men. Step away from the stifling effects of organized Christianity and just look at what we say we believe. It is profound. It is preposterous. It is scandalous. It is foolishness. But it is the Truth that alone can set men free.

But there would be a price. But what kind of a price would mean anything to the Being who made everything? He who made and owns all the gold and silver in the universe, and He who could make as much as He desired, had to pay a price to redeem mankind. But let us be honest as we parade around our “orthodox” credentials about this thing called redemption. We are children pretending we know it all. We are blind men describing what we see. We are deaf men tapping to a favorite song. Because in the long run redemption with all its layers soars above and beyond our pitiful religious minds.

This Jesus, this Redeemer, this cross is the mystery of all mysteries. Men like me attempt to showcase its wonder and beauty and blood and yet when all is said and done it stands unvarnished by human thoughts and words. Human words inspired by God’s Spirit can draw us closer to the cross, but nothing can add nor subtract from the sheer wonder and penetrating spiritual force which has no equal. And it is the deepest of tragedies to watch as man’s church has taken the cross down from the centerpiece and replaced it will all kinds of earthly issues and things of human interest. And in so doing professing believers no longer seek the cross nor do they feel a real sense of its necessity in our daily lives. But there is no faith without the cross, and men and women by the millions walk in a counterfeit faith.

But the cross in all its resplendent mystery saves the soul to those who believe and thrills the heart to those who seek it again and again. There is no redundancy when you see that cross. The Divine Being, the Son of God, writhes in pain and bathes in His own blood. The scene shouts anything but redemption. It is the zenith of injustice. It is repulsive on every level. But a partner in communicating this event is God’s Spirit. In fact, He is more than a partner. He is the essential communicator and the One who can reach men’s hearts with a message that cannot be truly believed in the natural.

Dig deep into its mystery. Dig deeper. Dig deeper still and you have only just begun. Its power and glory are without measure. And this is the cross that Christ commands us to pick up and carry. In fact, it carries with it a stigma.

Gal.6: 17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

The Greek word for “marks” is stigma. The Apostle bears the stigma of that cross in his body. But in this technologically sophisticated world what kind of foolishness is this? Who speaks of the cross in public? Do you hear conversations at restaurants about the cross? Do you hear many sermons about the cross these days? Do you see professing believers deny their earthly rights so that the cross of Jesus can shine through them?

The vast majority of church members love the resurrection and they even use it to suggest power and success and new beginnings in their earthly lives. But the cross is hard to assimilate into an earthly life. It seems like yesterday’s news and an accomplished event which cannot be duplicated today. While that event was a once in the universe event its power and glory and manifestation should be observable and real through a believer’s life. And when men ask us why we follow Jesus it should be an invitation to speak about the cross. This is no doctrinal dissertation. This is the cross from which eternal life flows.

But if we are to actually deny ourselves and walk in the power of redemption then we must seek the humility and the humiliation which Christ openly displayed upon that cross. That must be foundational however that is a difficult journey which goes against everything we have been taught and everything our flesh tells us. No one can really know Christ without knowing the fellowship of His sufferings. But our natural man recoils at suffering and avoids it at all costs. In fact because the faith has become so diluted and powerless we suffer very little persecution. And to suggest that issues like Chick-Fil-A or Hobby Lobby are persecution of our faith is an embarrassing display of our understanding of the cross.

Jesus is mocked. Jesus is scorned. Jesus is whipped. Jesus is spit upon. Jesus’ beard is plucked. Jesus is punched. Jesus wears thorns. Jesus is nailed to wooden beams. Jesus bleeds. Jesus is speared. Jesus dies. And yet we live in virtual luxury and wear our culture proudly? And yet our view of suffering is when the air conditioning goes out? How can we claim to understand, much less carry, that cross if we complain about things so small? What kind of insult do we do to Golgotha when we live so invested in a culture that hates Christ?

This, my friends, is the faith. And if we are unwilling to seek that which Jesus taught then we cannot claim to follow Him. And it is impossible to know Him and yet not strive to follow Him. The church is filled with those who know about Jesus but do not know Him. And at the very center of the church’s rebellion is a repudiation of the cross and all it did and taught.

But to the believer who has ears the Spirit calls us to that cross. Either we embrace that journey or we create a journey all our own. John the Baptist gave a great one sentence essay on discipleship when he said, "He must increase but I must decrease". But the Spirit takes it a step further.
 
We must die and He must live.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

We the People and the Pursuit of Happiness - II

WE THE PEOPLE
and the
PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

Chapter Two

Part of the problem is the apathetic and ambivalent lives of much if not most of the evangelical community. That does not mean people do not get interested and even excited about things, but mostly about other things than a sacrificial and self denying pursuit of Jesus. It seems like a colossal paradox to suggest that those who profess Christ do not seek Him in any substantial way. For the most part professing believers assign their church membership and participation as the ultimate sign that they are born again believers.

But the evangelical church that lives in America is distinctly American and pays allegiance to the country in which they live. And we have been taught such things since birth. But why is that true? The answer is simple and embarrassing and is generally two fold. First people do not scour the Scriptures to find out who Jesus is and what He teaches. They rely on preachers and the influence of the ecclesiastical community to form their belief system. Secondly people are in debt to a culture which has afforded them material gain and a comfortable lifestyle. And so they have woven America into the Biblical narrative going so far as to insist a divine beginning and a continuing divine favor for this particular country. And an unholy amalgam has been created which embraces the fallen and rejects the sacred.

Please be aware that a church’s statement of faith is meaningless these days. You can say anything and contend that you believe it. And you can embrace all the so called “cardinal” doctrines of the faith and still your focus and practices deny the entire thing. Most pastors wield earthly and organizational power while Paul said he was the offscouring of the world. The entire construct is antithetical to all Jesus taught and lived. And yet this same ecclesiastical structure claims His name. It is a monstrous deception.

To be sure the western evangelical community is empowered by “we the people” and the “pursuit of happiness”. And although these two phrases are carnal and without the Spirit, the church people do not, and cannot, see them for what they are. An enemy has come in with stealth and sown tares among the wheat of God’s Word, and now the church bears chains they believe are of God when in fact they have imprisoned the masses. It is impossible to explain the color red to a blind man, but how much more impossible when he thinks he already knows?

Happiness is a shallow word. It implies a human emotion which can come from all kinds of sources. People are happy watching a ball game or a television show or receiving a raise at work and a million other things. And the fallen heart seeks happiness. It does not seek Christ. It does not seek the spiritual welfare of others. It seeks its own happiness and when it finds it then it incorporates it into its religion. Let us be perfectly honest. Most believers look over the fence and see the unbelievers having a wonderful party and they become envious and begin to rationalize their own practices. And let us be even more honest here. Most professing believers do not really even believe in heaven or hell and therefore live their lives with a thin veneer of religion and hope they arrive in heaven if there is even such a place. But while they are on earth they desire and lust after their own happiness.

In the end there is a religion whose stated beliefs do very little to alter their lives. Sacrifice and self denial are rejected, and as long as people claim to be pro-life and anti-gay marriage they can claim to be followers of Jesus. Morality and patriotism have replaced a surrendered and crucified life. Seeking moral battles has replaced being a humble witness for Jesus. Instead of loving your enemies they can castigate them. Brokenness is weakness. Humility is compromise. But in general the religion called “Christianity” is a set of beliefs without a living sacrifice.

We the People and the Pursuit of Happiness

WE THE PEOPLE
and the
PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

Chapter One

This is a very important subject and one in which I pray everyone will give due diligence in reading and understanding. The subtleties of deception and the evil from which it emanates are extremely sophisticated and camouflaged. If you shoot a gun at a target and your aim is one degree off it will not be long before the bullet is many feet off. And so it is with deception and compromise. What begins as a small fox eventually destroys the vine itself.

The two phrases in my title come from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. They represent a spirit which is not of Christ. In fact those same documents refer to a unnamed Creator and a nebulous force of nature but the name of Jesus is completely missing. That, my friends, was no accident. But the overall message was crystal clear. This was of the people, by the people, and for the people just as the humanistic Greeks had constructed it. And since it was people driven, it would be of no surprise that these same people desired to be free to pursue happiness. Yes, in the words of Victoria Osteen, “God wants you happy!”

Earthy freedom and democracy sound so right and logical. But in essence all forms of earthly governments are products of fallen man who cannot help but be permeated with human desires, lusts, and ambitions. Any impartial and rational person can see the greed-filled monstrosity that American democracy has created. And yet people will excuse it by saying it is still better than anywhere else. That is some tortured logic. And to believers how can that possibly be God’s will? But with every election fueled by lies and obscene amounts of money the electorate vote for the candidate they believe will help their chances at happiness which is overwhelmingly connected to their own finances.

And when you take a step back and examine the entire spectacle and see how sinful and fallen it all is you must wonder how the church ever got involved. Many of us now have repented of our own blind involvement. The evil one deceived us into championing moral issues and in so doing we thought we were representing God. But moral causes were never a New Testament crusade, and like Newton’s Law of Thermodynamics eventually those causes give way to all things economic. It is a very slippery slope.
 
The most effective and powerful deceptions are those which seem right. Who can be against earthly freedom? Who can be against being happy? But those questions as they are structured are deceptive in and of themselves. It is not that we are against those things. But we are pointing out that when they are embraced as coming from within the Kingdom of God then we have strayed from the faith. My battle has never been to convince lost people of the evil of politics or patriotism. I have attempted to correct a great deception and compromise which is embraced within the church, and my perspective is not limited to the one I now hold. I have been under that deception and I know all too well the strength that it has.
But let us return to the open and subliminal message of “We the people” and the “pursuit of happiness”. Can there be any greater expose of humanism? And even though the documents throw a bone to God in the form of some uncertain and unspecific references, they are humanistic documents which the evil one has used to confuse, distract, and profoundly deceive the church. This is not some argument over women deacons or Bible translations or most other church disputes. This issue has permeated the hearts and minds of professing believers and the church as an institution until the Christian faith as believed and practiced in America is basically an American community overlaid with some Bible words.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

THE HOLY GOD

THE HOLY GOD

A pastor is a spiritual shepherd who feeds and protects the sheep. Joel and Victoria Osteen claim to be pastors but they are no such thing. But Victoria Osteen stood before the people and openly revealed the heart of the modern church. Watch this 30 second clip.

I have rarely heard a more succinct revelation of a fallen and religious heart. And as the prophet said, “And the people love to have it so”. The entire concept is that exists for the pleasure and happiness of man, and that He feels good when we are happy. That lie is so layered it is almost impossible to fully unravel the completeness of its deception. But at the core of such a diabolical falsehood is that most of the church does not know the True and Living God.

The Apostle John would lay his head upon the chest of Jesus in love and companionship. But when that same man saw the glory of the Risen Christ he fell at His feet as though dead! The average “worship” time in an evangelical church centers around the well rehearsed music and the wonderful praise team and its leader. After fifteen minutes or so it ends with a prayer and the people sit down. So John falls at His feet as though he were dead and we sit back down as if nothing happened? But in reality nothing did happen. We feel blessed and refreshed and we are now in a good mood. Yes, we sang songs and perhaps clapped and lifted our hands but we did not meet God.

Worship has become an event. “The worship was great this morning!” “Come visit our church. We have great worship.” Now we can grade worship as if it was a contest. It is all about the music and the leader and the songs and how anointed the worship leader is. It has long since ceased to be about God. As people look around and clap and sing without being affected except feeling “happy” there are created being around God’s throne who do nothing but say, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” And yet we can pretend to worship and quickly change to some announcements. We are not fooling anyone.

The Apostle Paul met with Jesus and he was struck blind and yet people can go the entire week without prayer and on Sunday morning they worship God? No, this is not true worship and the object of our worship is not Jesus, it is our own flesh and a god of our own making. In the Old Testament they fashioned a calf out of gold and called it god. In these dark days the church has fashioned a man out of gold and called it god. Gone is the majesty. Gone is the glory. Gone is the holiness. The priest would wear “holiness unto the Lord” on his priestly headpiece. Today men and women wear “Santa Claus” on their hearts.

It would be a monumental undertaking to fully expose the spiritual treachery that goes on in most evangelical churches. How many times after the worship music ends does the church leader say something like “God is good, isn’t He?” As flippant and meaningless as saying “God bless you” when someone sneezes. When does the man of God stand up with tears running down his face and through trembling lips and a contrite heart he says, “Oh my dear believers God is a holy God and I am undone this morning.”? I am not suggesting that must happen every time because even that can become a tradition and a form, but why does it never happen?

Holiness is not just some attribute of God that we learn in systematic theology. It is not gained by not sinning or doing good works. God IS holy. It is part of the makeup of His eternal Being itself. There are no human words that can fully reveal the Thrice Holy God. Only the Holy Spirit can illuminate a man’s heart with thoughts and impressions and revelations which pull back the veil a little more and allow him to see more of Him from whose face the worlds fled. And when we receive that astounding vision by the grace of that same God we cannot remain the same. To see the Lamb, the Lion, the Redeemer, and the Lord of Lords permeates our beings and burns within us. This is the God of all creation and He is holy.

So how can a group of people come together and worship this august and holy Being without sometimes being completely undone and filled with awe and repentance? The answer is simple. They, as Mrs. Osteen correctly pointed out, have come to feel happy. But the church has concocted a redundant spectacle which excites the flesh. For the most part people come to church for the community and not to meet with a Holy God. Just the carefully orchestrated order of service and the time allotted shows a disrespect for the Spirit and for God. Sunday after Sunday people come and go just like they did last week and like they will next week. It is a finely tuned religious pageant designed to uplift spirits and make people return. But it is not a genuine hungering and thirsting for the presence of a Holy God.

And this is also why a fallen culture as wicked as this one can not only live comfortably alongside professing believers, but it can even go to church! That is an astounding revelation. Unsaved people of all stripes sit Sunday after Sunday in church pews and even like the pastor and the music and enjoy the human fellowship. But God’s presence was not there or they would either flee or believe. Does that seem like some throwback to more archaic days when God used to manifest Himself among His people? Yes, it is. And that is deeply sad.

But let us not plead ignorance. God will not share His glory. God does not exist for man’s happiness. God is interested in man’s holiness not man’s happiness. Many sinful things make men happy. When a married couple who are millionaires and dressed to the nines stand before people and speak damnable lies it reminds me of when the antichrist will profess himself to be God. In fact it is that same spirit that speaks through false teachers like the Osteens. But it is not enough for us to point out these heretics and their lies. No, we must examine ourselves and pursue holiness. And just what does “pursue holiness” mean?

It means to pursue the Crucified and Risen Christ and until He fully apprehends you.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

We Will All Laugh at Gilded Butterflies


We Will All Laugh


at Gilded Butterflies
This phrase from Shakesphere’s (I am a fan.) King Lear is a wonderful observation that can have many applications. He said this referring to his two treacherous daughters who sought to add to their own fortune by stealing his. A butterfly is a beautiful insect, and the word “gilded” indicates having an additional and unnecessary and even overdone application of gold or silver or some other attempt at beautification that makes its appearance rather gaudy. So rather than enhance its beauty, the gilding in effect renders it excessive and ostentatious.

So a monarch butterfly soars in its natural beauty. But if it were to be gilded by the hands of man, it would not only lose the majesty of its original beauty, but it would also lose its ability to fly. So in effect, the gilding would not only make that butterfly pretentious and inappropriate, but the gilding would prevent the butterfly from flight. In fact, the gilding would kill it.

I would like to make a gospel application to the phrase and its meaning. The gospel itself soars with majesty and power simply based upon the strength of its truth and its Author. It is profound in its spiritual content yet simple in its narrative. And after a while, this simple narrative becomes unappealing to the mind of fallen man. And yet the craftiness of this fallen mind does not just reject the gospel outright; it seeks to alter it in ways that seem more intellectual and more compassionate and more beautiful.

Men continue to guild the gospel with all sorts of things derived from their own imaginations. And in a daring display of hubris and vain imagination, men guild the perfect Son of God with the works of their own hands. There are several things about Calvinism that I admire even though I am decidedly not a Calvinist myself. I admire the way the reformed crowd generally and emphatically deny that men’s works have any part of salvation and that God alone must be given all the glory.

To add to or subtract from the perfect Son of God is not only dangerous, it is spiritual treason. This is no game of show and tell, this has eternal implications. The Crucified and Risen Christ needs no enhancement from the fallen creativity and self righteous contrivances of men. And when men gild the Savior with human works it not only diminishes His very being, but it renders His redemptive power as useless and without the grace necessary to save.

Just as a gilded butterfly becomes a prisoner to its artificial clothing, so do any and all projections of the Christ that have the weight of Adam’s nature as an ingredient, regardless of how polished and religious. The gilded Christ is no Christ at all, but they are all nothing more than New Testament golden calves which cannot hear, cannot speak, and cannot save. The gospel message is not only superior to all other spiritual messages, it is exclusively superior. All other messages regardless of how intellectual, how compassionate, how inclusive, or how melodic to the soul are nothing more than imposters and counterfeits that sing as the sirens of darkness.

The colossal nature of the gospel is contained in its childlike simplicity. The august brilliance of Christ’s gospel is the love that constrained Him to bow an immeasurable distance in order to rescue those who were His very enemies. That is the unfathomable depth of the simplicity that is found in Christ. Ungilded and unvarnished, the gospel message contains the redemptive power of the Creator. To add frills is to openly deny its completeness, and like sweet poison it is palatable to the flesh but death to all who partake.

Never be ashamed of the simple gospel. Never be ashamed of Bethlehem’s stable, or the dust of Nazareth, or the submission of Jordan’s baptism. Do not be ashamed of the rejection of His countrymen, or the denial of His own disciples, or the heartbreak of Gethsemane, or the chains of wicked men. Embrace the shame of the mocking of Herod, and the washing of Pilate’s hands, and the call for His murder. Wear the badge of His scourging, present your face and receive the spittle that dripped down His face, let His thorns wound your own head, and after you have clutched them all to your own bosom, privately and publicly, there is but one last thing you must do.



Espouse the cross.


Do not just identify with it doctrinally or emotionally.


Seek it, desire it, and die.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Spiritual Pedophiles


Spiritual Pedophiles

I Cor.3:1-3 - And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat, for hitherto you were not able to bear it, neither yet now are you able. For you are yet carnal.

The vast majority of evangelical church goers must be classified as babes in Christ. With little if any meat being taught in the average activity laden local assembly, topped off by a Sunday morning thespian extravaganza complete with entertaining special effects, the average Christian has no real opportunity to grow. Now only God knows who has been born again and belong to Him, but suffice to say most of those who are saved are babies in Christ. Like a giant spiritual daycare center the "leadership" plans many activities to keep the attention of these little ones because, as in the natural, their attention span is very short and they demand constant attention and entertainment. Like jingling keys in front of infants these baby believers are carnal and need a constant diet of special singers, special speakers, special days, special videos, special programs, special themes, special offerings, and all sorts of attention grabbers. So as the high priced chaperones sit in the ecclesiastical park and watch the babies play on the various swings, jungle gyms, and see saws as provided by these hirelings and paid for by the babies' own money, along comes some familiar strangers to the "park".

Now these strangers are very friendly and sociable and they readily make friends with the overseers. With promises to the daycare heads of unlimited growth, and with that increased income, the trained workers have made a treacherous alliance with these strangers. These strangers embrace an attractive policy that has been around since Eden's sanctuary and they express an outward love and affection for these babies. They don't have to secretly climb an unguarded section of the playground fence, no, they walk right through the main gate held open by the ones that have been entrusted to care for the spiritual well being of these little ones. Oh these strangers are particularly subtle and creative, they can't be recognized as Mormons, Jehovah's Witness, or other well known strangers that would have never been allowed into the playground. No, they wear a bright badge of "evangelical" and without any screening they pass right through as invited guests.

Now once inside these "guests" unfurl a vast array of bright trinkets that quickly draw enormous crowds of unsuspecting babies. With spiritual candy they entice the carnal youngsters, and soon they have made friends and followers that throw away their milk in favor of this new and effervescent, spiritual elixir that seems to satisfy what their flesh has been craving. Oh how wonderful are these new "evangelicals"! But as everyone seems to be having a great time they keep hearing cries from outside their playground.

"after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock"

"even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies"

"And they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables"

"Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness"

"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ"

"and through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you"

"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith..."

But as they heard these warnings the strangers assured them that these words came from men of old and outdated minds so pay no attention. They just want to spoil our party, the men told them, and of course they believed them. As they gained a deeper trust from these babies these men began to be embolden in their approach. The babies had been taught that Jesus had built this playground alone, but these new "evangelicals" informed them that Jesus is known by many names. Allah, Moses, Buddha, Mary, and really any other name can be used as a synonym for Jesus, it's all the same person. They changed the curriculum, redefined terms, made the Bible an elective, and rearranged the entire approach to everything. And most disturbing of all these new teachers removed what little Biblical clothing these babies had, and then behind closed doors of deception, they spiritually raped these carnal youngsters with such skill and adeptness that it was pleasurable. Yes, these monsters were spiritual pedophiles whose mission was spiritual rape all along, and now they have impregnated new generations with deeper and more profound deceptions that promise to draw larger and more captivated crowds.

One day we will stand before the Great White Throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. On that day we will witness throngs that once played in these new evangelical playgrounds who responded to all the various messages that had departed from the only message that saves as taught clearly in the Word of God. Millions upon millions of unsuspecting earth dwellers that had been assured of their eternal destiny, are now discovering they were spiritually molested and raped by the father of lies and his emissaries. They are lost forever in the second death. Please don't let the shocking metaphor obscure the central truth I am humbly but forcefully trying to present. All the new purpose, seeker, and emergent movements and all their tributaries, no matter how genuine their authors are, are part of the end time destruction of the Truth. Spiritual pedophiles that prey on baby Christians whose Spiritual overseers themselves have been deceived into being joyfully complicit and reimbursed with fame, success, numbers, accolades, and most of all money.

A colossal tragedy of immeasurable proportions.

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived, But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Oh the heartbreaking tragedy! The greater evangelical church continues to be molested by the lusts of men and the lies of demonic forces. It is much worse than any of us can imagine and it extends to every corner of the evangelical community. If you really desire to see the spiritual depth of the evangelical world become a fly on the wall at their homes and see prayerless and wordless and careless lives. Listen as they gossip and complain and exhibit all kinds of hedonism. And they really love their church but they just don’t love Jesus because they have completely lost sight of who Jesus is. The end surely is near but the people rise up to play.