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.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

The Narcotic of Preaching


The Narcotic of Preaching

Ti.1:3 - But God has in due times manifested His Word through preaching...
Ti.1:7 - For a bishop must be blameless as the steward of God, not self-willed...

To all of you who have never preached to a group of people who have come to hear and for the most part affirm what you say, I am going to slide the curtain back ever so gently. To speak to people in a convincing way can be somewhat of a self energizing experience, but when you portend to speak for God it goes to a much higher level. When the Word of God is preached through a humble, prayer filled, and anointed servant of the Most High God, it is a glorious and mysterious ministry of the Spirit that redounds to the glory of the Almighty. To fully reveal the sacred and accountable honor given to a called human being to handle the unchangeable Word is impossible. It may sometimes be to only a hand full of listeners, and it may sometimes deal with somewhat practical issues, and it may sometimes seem mundane and redundant, but it is still the most important event that will happen on planet earth.

When the Congress of the United States of America meets to decide whether to go to war or not, that is important. But that can never compare with a faithful man with a tattered suit, fresh from the presence of God and filled with the precious Holy Spirit, who stands to proclaim God's Holy Word to five little AIDS infected African children. The importance in the heavenlies of any man called and in obedience preaching the eternal Word is paramount, regardless of the number of listeners. I am convinced that if a preacher was shipwrecked on an island, and every Sunday morning for two years he rose and preached to himself and the ocean, that the audience of heaven would be listening and God Himself would receive glory from this faithful prophet of God, isolated in the earth but surrounded by a cloud of invisible witnesses.

God is His Word and the Word is God. Go ahead and try and capture that with human words and thoughts and we do nothing but detract and confuse the eternal mystery. A loving, redeeming, caring, sovereign, and glorious mystery, but a mystery none the less. And the oxy-moron is that the more of the mysterious essence of God's Word we perceive, the more of the Word we understand. The breath of God Himself inhabits His Word and while it is the fine china of Christ's body on earth so many today are making it the paper plates and plastic forks of man. To exhale and speak God's Word to eternal souls is the most sacred and trembling responsibility any man can claim. It is the finite proclaiming the infinite; the sinful proclaiming the Holy; the partial truth proclaiming the whole Truth. You see what I mean? Where can I find the words that can fully unfold the gracious and powerful calling of preaching God's Word? My words are poor carriers to your minds, only the Spirit of God who wrote His Words can make them alive in your spirit.

But within this calling lurks a loathsome and hideous temptation that all preachers have sometimes succumbed to unknowingly and knowingly. The chameleon like characteristic of our flesh adapts over time to appear religious and can subtly inject into us a feeling of invincible authority and unassailable justness of what we say and, yes, even who we are. There is a spiritual endorphin rush that can accompany a man preaching to a group of listeners with an acceptance that he speaks for God, and the format can easily lift up a man while even repeating Biblical verses. And when the number of listeners grow, the man can systematically add his words and ideas to the very Words of God and then they become impure and he becomes lifted up in his own eyes and in the eyes of his followers. And if it goes unchecked by Spiritual repentance and humility, the preacher starts to become addicted to the sound of his own voice and the acclamation of his people. What began as a God exalting ministry of heralding the Word of Almighty God, becomes a self aggrandizing exercise in human manipulation and the returning feeling of prideful power he receives from his agreeing listeners. None of that is of God.

What are the warning signs of this transformation? When a preacher speaks carelessly and publicly about any and all subjects, that man has himself as an idol. When men speak openly about their sex lives and give advice for men and women, he is carnal and probably has some type of imagery addiction as well as desecrating God's Word and his calling. When you hear or read a message on humility from a preacher and it seems so incongruous to the atmosphere of his overall teaching, that is a warning sign. If a preacher never weeps, his heart may be cold. When there is always an upbeat quality to a man's messages, that man is entertaining not preaching. If a preacher allows himself to become rich, he is compromised. When a preacher speaks the truth of God's Word but he is puffed up and prideful, he has been seduced by his own voice and personality. There are many more signs that only the Holy Spirit can make application to each individual man. And many times I have taken pride in an article I have offered here, disgustingly assuming that I came up with the thoughts and words, when it is all the Spirit and none of me if it is truth. And if any are not truth, let them burn on the trash heap of all the other works that were of me.

Humility to us preachers is very elusive, and many times we claim it because we know we should but not in the uncomfortable and stinging reality that obviously crucifies our flesh and makes us the off scouring of the earth. Attend a Bible conference and listen as each preacher is introduced as if he was Gabriel himself. If you hear of a conference which will have no fancy advertisement, no registration fee, no four star accommodations, no tapes or albums sold, no list of coming preachers, no frilly introductions, no workshops, and suggests three days of fasting for all who come, let me know. Boldness and humility are two siblings birthed by the same Father of Spirits, but I confess I have yet to concoct the right mixture, and if I thought I had, that would probably be a good sign I hadn't. I believe we need a revival of contrition and brokenness, led by preachers. This bellicose and caustic rhetoric that flows from blogs, pulpits, books, and on television needs a strong dose of "physician heal thyself". That doesn't mean that God will not speak a strong Word through someone, he often does and especially in these days. But where are the strong words about us? Forget about the usual and deserving whipping boys, what about us? Are we so humble and bowed before our Maker, and are we so sensitive to our own flesh, and are we so addicted to the presence of God in our prayer closets that we don't need a Word of repentance from God? We think way too much of ourselves, and when a man thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. So what does that tell you? We have tens of thousands of deceived preachers speaking their own words which they substantiate by wresting God's Word. And we have lost the definition of humility long ago, not to mention the lifestyle and example of it. Oh we can teach humility and brokenness, but who actually lives it, and the preaching ministry has long ago adapted those terms to mean what they say they mean, not what God says they mean and certainly not what the earthly life of the Lord Jesus revealed. The mirror of God's Word has become a looking glass to others, and oftentimes the branch filled eyes seem articulate about the speck filled eyes of others.

This call is to all of us.
Let us not live on the narcotic of our own preaching and creeds, however Biblical. Let us humble ourselves and pray, and turn from our wicked ways, and let us seek the very face of God Himself. And let us reject the satisfaction of anything in this world and follow hard for the Living Water of the presence of God. And if you truly enter the very presence of Jesus Christ, you will be humbled and broken. If you are not, it wasn't Him.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Kidnapping of the Bride

THE KIDNAPPING OF THE BRIDE

II Tim.3:13 - But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
On February 4, 1974, Patty Hearst was kidnapped from her Berkeley apartment and immediately underwent a sweeping brainwashing. By April, she had embraced her captors to such a degree she was trusted to help rob a bank for which she was later convicted. Now when someone is kidnapped and subsequently joins their abductors it is called the Stockholm effect named after a famous bank robbery in Sweden in which the captives developed an affection for their captors.
In the year 1517 a young monk nailed the 95 thesis's to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany and the Reformation was born. Now Martin Luther was very flawed as a person who sometimes had a heart for God and sometimes had an appetite for wine. He was a rabid and vitriolic anti-Semite, but just as God uses imperfect people like you and me, God chose to use Martin Luther. Although the Holy Spirit had much work to accomplish in the theology of the church in subsequent generations, the main theme of this mighty move of God was that salvation was by grace through faith alone and that all teaching must be based solely on the revealed and written Word of God. Miraculously, the Lord had revived and reestablished His church and separated her from the apostate Roman Church.
In later years the Holy Spirit weaved fabrics of revival through America, England, Wales, and other places where saints sought the Lord in prayer and a Sovereign God heard their cries and graciously sent a fresh move of His Spirit which initially brought the believers to glorious repentance, and eventually reached lost souls for the glory of God. There were always some doctrinal differences, but for the most part they were non-essentials that did not affect salvation. Christ was preached, the Word of God was held high, and salvation was by grace through faith alone. Baptists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and other denominations strove to advance the kingdom of God.
By the 20th century the Industrial Revolution had matured. With the new technologies, primarily of travel and communication, greed, avarice, competition, and capitalism took a quantum leap in Europe and the western world cultures. As the kingdom of darkness prospered, it cast its eyes on God's bride, only to find that she was gazing back over the wall of God's Word and onto the growing and attractive evil. From that point on it did not take much coaxing to allure the bride out of the protection of the Word and into the excitement of the humanistic culture. One stroll around the devil's dance floor and the bride was mesmerized while not even aware that the evil one was closing the door behind her. She had been abducted and she didn't even know it. As a matter of fact, she was enjoying her new found friends and wonderful freedom, all the while not seeing the shackles that had been placed around her legs. She was in bondage by the one who had promised her freedom.
No longer would the church have any criteria by which to test new converts for their own good. No longer would God's people have to sacrifice anything, on the contrary, they could now lay up for themselves enormous amounts of treasure on this earth and actually teach that it was God's will. Worldly leaders? Yes! Fleshly entertainment? Yes! Millionaire preachers? Yes! Mesh with the culture? Yes! Sanitize the message? Yes! Her dance card was full and she was having the time of her life dancing with Rome, Mormons, liberals, physiologists, politicians, Carnegie, Peal, universalists, and anyone else who at least believed in a god. And to soothe her conscience she changed God's Word to accommodate all her hedonistic ways.
Most egregious of all, as the bride lay in Lucifer's bed, she turned and asked if they could have a membership drive designed to attract as many sinners as possible. Lucifer not only agreed, he said that he had many great and effective ways to reach people. But most importantly he insisted that God's Word must be thoroughly camouflaged since that was what turned people away to begin with. The bride agreed. Lucifer said that there were some principles that could be used as they kicked off their campaign. What do people want; What do people like; What do people need; What makes people happy; and what parts of the Bible do people most strenuously object to - cut them out. The bride wasn't completely convinced, but Lucifer said it all was to reach as many people as possible, "After all wasn't that what God wanted?". That made sense to the bride and she quickly acquiesced and the planning began. Upon these new tactics Lucifer would hang a few token Scriptures and pronounce his theological work of art a "masterpiece". And by and large the church has entirely bought this "masterpiece" and hung it in the gallery of thousands of pulpits for all to admire.
Now this little metaphorical narrative is either the musings of a Spiritual paranoiac, or it is an accurate representation of the subtle deception that continues today throughout the church. And against the backdrop of the August Word of God it appears much, much worse than we can imagine. And like a gigantic and multi-pronged python, the deceptive tentacles of the spirits of anti-christ have wrapped themselves around the hearts of the pulpits of most evangelical churches today and have crept down into the pews and are now squeezing the truth out of the hearts of God's people. And anyone who "cries aloud" with a warning against this obvious departure are rejected as trouble makers and divisive. But in the example of Luther, even though the bride has fallen in love with her captor, should we not still attempt to rescue her? Just because her captor is upbeat and friendly should that absolve us from speaking the truth? Just because her kidnapper offers us a peace treaty, should we sign it? Just because her abductor has a much more fleshly and attractive message, should we change ours to compete?
Some of us know first hand what we are talking about. Some of us have danced on the purpose driven dance floor and being fully deceived we sincerely thought we were helping God out with our creative strategies. And by some gracious miracle, we were rescued by the Spirit of God and mercifully debriefed. So do not think we hate those still trapped in the "cotton candy" ballroom of humanism with a thin layer of "lip synched" Christianity. No, we love them and we will continue to raise the bullhorn to our mouths and loudly exhort them to "come out from among them and be ye separate, says the Lord". The only hate we have is for the one that kidnapped her in the first place. His works are evil, his message is death, his gospel is counterfeit, his words are lies, his plan is deception,

but his time is short.

Lord Jesus, send us your power to destroy the works that the Deceiver has wrought. Let your powerful Word begin unraveling this humanistic avalanche and set the captives free. Fill us with your love, make our words strong and clear, keep us ever humble, and in ALL things...

GLORIFY YOURSELF!! 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Christianity Without Jesus

CHRISTIANITY WITHOUT JESUS

There is scant interest in Jesus even within the church. There are conferences by the thousands about everything but Jesus and people will travel and spend thousands just to attend and be motivated or moved or learn something. But where are the conferences that are completely about Jesus? Jesus Himself exhorted us to learn of Him and yet we treat Him as a doctrinal fait accompli and in no need of any thorough or passionate pursuit.

The church salivates for more “how to” messages and more studies about aspects of our lives. In fact most of the western evangelical church is a study of humans rather than a study of Christ. It is humanism all dressed up as church. Yes, there are commandments in the New Testament about marriage and children and work and other aspects of our lives, but the overarching and reoccurring theme is Jesus. And while we study life adjustments or emotional controls or philosophical and psychological counseling and treatment the reality is that most of these issues could be treated with a stronger and relentless pursuit of knowing Jesus.

But long ago the church looked in the mirror and instead of abhorring that which it saw it become infatuated with itself. And professing believers became a project which by and large was without Jesus. A healthy marriage, a healthy self image, a healthy bank account, a healthy body, a healthy career, and in general a well rounded and balanced citizen of earth is now the ecclesiastical goal. But that is not Christianity at all.

It is astonishing just how much Jesus has been marginalized and removed as the centerpiece of our journey. In other words He is no longer Lord of all. The carnal sirens have all but drowned out Christ. I cannot even begin to imagine just how much the Spirit grieves over what has become of the visible church, which by New Testament standards is not the church at all. Let us individually renew our faith and pursue the knowledge of Jesus beyond what we think we knew yesterday, and let us walk that pure path which seeks the glory of God which is found in the face of Jesus Christ.

And be aware that this journey is not about finding more facts about Jesus. It is about finding more and more life in Jesus and having your life transformed into His.

Listen to what pastors and preachers say about the crisis in Gaza and you will understand who are following Jesus and who are not. The blind allegiance to the secular nation of Israel is against any and all the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament. I heard John Hagee, a heretic of epic proportions, say that we must cut off all humanitarian support for the Palestinians until they acquiesce to certain demands. I guess “love your enemies” was added by evil scribes and was not part of the teachings of Jesus.

The entire thing has been manipulated and fed to western believers. The conflict in the Middle East is not our affair nor does it have anything to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ. But while we sit in air conditioned safety it caresses the flesh to take sides with fallen nations, and we refuse to see that Israel in the Old Testament was a shadow of the coming church. They were God’s people and just like the church they were almost always compromised and filled with believer and unbeliever alike.

Josh.5: 13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?
14 And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant?
15 And the captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.

We should not be interested in being on anyone’s “side” but God’s. The things of this world are actively working against the purposes of Christ and His kingdom. But it is so easy to get caught up in the politics of it all and make judgments based upon what we perceive as right and wrong because we see things through American eyes. But until you see that it is ALL wrong and that there is no one that doeth good, no not one, then you will continue to make all kinds of carnal judgments about who is right and who is wrong.

And worse yet if you listen to preachers who are more American than Christian then you will make judgments about which nations God loves and favors. And that, my friends, is heresy at its zenith. Repent and allow your heart to awaken to the things and teachings of Jesus. This world’s undertow is filled with strength based upon reason and political perception and the ebbs and flows of man’s exercise of his own power. And the western church has heard the voices of these evil sirens and by and large the church has not only invited the world into the church, but it now follows hard after the world and all its fallen machinations.

Beware all ye that desire Christ. It is impossible to follow Christ and the world. And in this day and time of great spiritual deception you may well be confronted with reassessing the very foundation of what you were taught and what are lies still being spread as God’s truth. The deception is much more sophisticated and much more powerful than we can almost imagine. In fact, somewhere decades ago an intersect was crossed. And at that juncture the faith called “Christian” became so contaminated and so off course that it now turned its back on Christ and headed for greener pastures. And the sheep began to feed in that pasture and the grass was plentiful and sweet. And the visible church grew in numbers and buildings and financial power and political clout.

And so today the church is no longer interested in Jesus. It is consumed with finances and material goods and careers and success and college educations and entertainment and television and sports and activities and singing and founding fathers and famous preachers and glossy teaching materials and church advertisements and elaborate conferences and whatever is happening in the kingdom of this world. But as for Jesus, well, we can just paste His name on whatever we want and declare that is who He is and what He desires. And in the end the western church will glow with modern buildings and wonderful music and compelling oratory and an atmosphere of excitement, but alas, it is just spiritual wreckage all dressed up as God’s church. The axe head is at the bottom of the water and most are not looking for it because we have made our own axe head which is much more interesting and alluring. God help us all.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Sham of Western Christianity

THE SHAM OF WESTERN CHRISTIANTY
 
This thing we call “Christianity” is a sham and a farce and in many cases it is eternally dangerous. It stands upon creeds and doctrines and certain morals and material blessings. It not only does not follow Jesus, it is not interested in knowing what Jesus actually taught. And when you discover the treachery of this organized religion and turn from it your journey has only just begun. I remember years ago when I began to read the words of Jesus anew and afresh and with an open heart. I began with Matthew chapter 5. It was only a couple of chapters before I was overwhelmed and completely undone because I could plainly see that I had been hoodwinked into following a religion and not Christ.
And to be honest I am still uncovering more of the religious hypocrisy every time I read His words. 
And to be perfectly honest every time I read His words without ecclesiastical refraction I also see my own major league shortcomings as it pertains to obeying His words. But no one can even attempt to obey His words if we distort and ignore and dilute His words so they become a comfortable part of a well rounded, moral western lifestyle.

Genocide - The Good Kind

GENOCIDE - THE GOOD KIND

A man wants to build a house. He looks around for some land and he 
finds where he desires to build.
But there are people already living on that land.
But he begins to build on the outskirts and a fight ensues between his family and the family already living there. Eventually that man annihilates the indigenous people and takes control of all the land. After many years the man forgets all the wanton bloodshed and he now rejoices in the glory of his new house and he thanks God for giving the land to him. You see, genocide can bring about good sometimes!
Thank you, American Indians, for the millions of lives you donated to the cause called America. 
It had to be done because Jesus wanted it that way.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

The Money Treatise by Jesus Christ

THE MONEY TREATISE
by
JESUS CHRIST
 
If we truly delve into the teachings of Jesus concerning being a disciple we will find a continuing theme. We call it “self denial” and within that term are some particular teachings that deal with money and material things. But be forewarned. These teachings carry with them some extremely uncomfortable issues which directly confront the western capitalist mindset and practice. In fact, they directly confront the image of Jesus the church has been teaching for many decades. So let us investigate what Jesus teaches about one of the most powerful forces on earth: money.
 
I Tim.6: 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (NIV)
 
We have been raised in a culture which revolves around money. It is ingrained in our minds and in our life practices. We think nothing of it since that mindset permeates every aspect of western life, and everyone we know lives within it on some level. Everything we have been taught, and everything our parents and educational system has groomed us for, revolves around success and money. And it is through that refraction that we understand Jesus and His teachings.
And we have also become very adept at taking the teachings of Jesus and repackaging them with a western, capitalistic slant which in effect neutralizes their impact by changing their very meaning. For instance we have defined the love of money as something akin to a miser or a Donald Trump kind of attitude. But in reality that ignores the love of money which is evident within the church on many different levels. You may even be poor and have the love of money. And you cannot, I repeat, you cannot follow Jesus and love and seek money.

I Tim.6: If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
But godliness with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

Just this portion of Scriptures exposes the unholy nature of the visible western church. Food and clothing be content? Who are we kidding? We don’t even strive for that much less possess it. And yet the Spirit uses terms like “foolish and hurtful lusts” and “destruction and perdition”. And make no mistake, you can be heading toward perdition and be heartily enjoying the ride. Would you not consider this issue of utmost importance when those terms are applied? So when was the last time a local church decided to pause and seek God with fasting and prayer and allow the Spirit to take God’s Word and reveal its unvarnished truth against its belief system and practice?

It is a revelation of just how far the church has strayed when you see almost no tears of repentance and a continuing spirit of happiness permeating the congregation. The only time people feel mournful is when circumstances adversely affect them. But when professing believers are truly filled with the love and power of Christ then they must feel a sense of deep concern for everyone around them. And let us not be ignorant of this very fact: When a fallen culture is so strong around us then without a steady diet of repentance and a relentless pursuit of God’s Word concerning our hearts and our practices, then little by little the culture will take over with very little personal pain. And the church itself will eventually embrace the culture because the people demand it.

Most churches will take the easy road which is confronting gay sinners or the practice of abortion but they are blind to their own compliance with a sinful and hedonistic culture.

Although the issue is money, when we acquiesce to the thought processes and practices of a fallen culture concerning money we actually leave following Jesus. And the tentacles of compromise are long reaching and relentless. We still hear His name, we still hear the preacher quote His Word, we still songs that exalt Him, but God will not honor any of that when our hearts are so sullied by self interest and the spiritually toxic effects of an unimpeded cultural erosion.

Silently rearrange the furniture and the blind man knows nothing of it. So when the church becomes blind truth itself can be slowly changed without a whimper from those who claim to know it. And Jesus Himself, who is THE truth, becomes a prisoner of the moment and the culture. and aside from some powerless doctrinal descriptions, the teachings of Jesus begin to take on the pattern of the present culture. Before long you have a religious mongrel which does not resemble what Jesus taught nor does it seek it. And if you do not embrace and practice what Jesus taught, then you are following a false Jesus made with the brick and mortar of the culture and the desires of men.

Matt.6: 24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

This is part of the Sermon on the Mount. Where oh where to begin. Let us start with this question: Do we believe that Jesus spoke these words and do we believe them? Because if we truly believe them, they bring with them some startling and even outrageous applications and implications. Listen to the overwhelming body of professing believers as they lament about gas prices or interest rates or President Obama. Listen and they worry about this or that. Here is a story which may seem laughable if it were not so tragic. My youngest son went to Christian school. One of his teachers was complaining about President Obama in 2009 and he said he and his wife could no longer afford going to the Outback restaurant but now had to go to Chile’s. Now if that was not bad enough that same teacher drove a Mercedes Benz automobile. I submit to you that man had no idea what Jesus taught at all.

But that story is somewhat representative of the overwhelming spirit that pervades the church. It is all about “me” and all about my wants and my comfort. And in that spirit worry and complaining is allowed and shared. Instead of us being the clay we have made God’s Word the clay and poured it into a cultural mold. And what comes out are some convenient guidelines which require no sacrifice and no self denial. And in an ingenious manipulation those guidelines, wrongly called God’s Word, are actually steps to achieving our own desires in a culture built upon the desires of man. It is quite remarkable. But it has nothing to do with Jesus.

Money and things have become the goal to which we work and dream. Is it possible that God condones the debt in which the congregation lives? And can it be possible, in spite of the overwhelming Scriptural evidence to the contrary, that God even condones the debt leveraged to provide a place to worship Him? It is spiritually absurd to say the least.

Matt.6: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Do we take those words literally or are they suggestions about the heart rather than practical commands about how to treat money? Verse 21 makes it completely clear. But do we save up voluminous amounts of money and yet claim our hearts are not there? We make God out to be a liar and His advice not practical. So millions upon millions of believers feel a right to hoard up literally billions of dollars to which they can later dip into for personal pleasure. The exegesis is powered by common sense and earthly realities rather than a stark and unencumbered truth which stands completely upon the words that God has spoken.

But this points to a problem within the church that is pandemic and panoramic. Even those who shout from their self righteous housetops about believing in Biblical inerrancy cannot stand the scrutiny when it comes to the teachings of Jesus about money. You see, the hedonistic and capitalistic culture has so influenced the church that not only have we compromised God’s Word, but we now claim that God’s Word actually supports the dictates and practices of this fallen culture.

This, my brothers and sisters, is no small issue. Taken at face value the teachings of Jesus indict an evangelical culture which gladly uses Jesus in their doctrinal statements but which continues to practice that which He never taught. With each passing day the fog grows thicker and the slumber grows deeper until those sinners who desire to embrace Jesus are in danger of embracing an ecclesiastical construct rather than the true and living Christ. And that is truly no small issue.