Saturday, September 27, 2014

Glowing Tabernacles

GLOWING TABERNACLES
 
In the Covenant of the Spirit we as believers are the tabernacles of God. The Old Testament tabernacle was made of wood and linen, but in the New and Final Covenant the tabernacles are made of flesh and blood.

II Cor.4: For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

We are in reality not only the tabernacle of God, but we are the ark of the New Covenant in which God dwells. But in the Old Testament God’s presence was reserved for the high priest every Day of Atonement. All who might attempt to enter the Holy of Holiest would die in God’s presence. The Ark was carried upon wooden staves because to touch it meant death as Uzzah found out. But conversely, in the Covenant of the Spirit, all who seek and find God’s presence find life and life eternal. It is a sacred mystery which has redeemed souls by the millions since the Day of Pentecost.

But after we are redeemed, and after the Spirit enters our beings, what then? That seems like some discussion question but in reality it represents the essence of what it means to be inhabited by and follow Jesus. And it is a question which is now rarely asked because professing believers think they know and are really uninterested in finding out things that may cost them deeply. Oh how the church seeks prosperity and answers to human dilemmas and problem solving, but where is the passionate seeking to please God by becoming a glowing tabernacle for Jesus that shines His light to a dark and lost world?

Let us strip away the convenient metaphor and search diligently for the truth. If you are comfortable with feeling warm and fuzzy and acknowledging the elegance of this tabernacle metaphor then you will resist advancing into inconvenient and uncomfortable and self denying territory. This is a land where sight dies and faith lives. This is where the things of this world grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. This is the land where you both die daily and you live daily as well. This is hallowed ground that is covered in His blood. This is where true miracles are waiting to be apprehended by sacrificing our wills and laying hold of Him in all His magnificent ways. This is a land which will cost you a lot…everything.

But when we have understood the sacred metaphors and the priceless truths presented unvarnished in Holy Writ, it is then we must allow the Spirit to take God’s truth and make present application which through His power can use flesh and blood to convey that truth through thought, word, and deed. This is no trifle. This is the challenge to all who wish to follow Jesus and take His redemption to desperate human souls. He must increase and increase and increase and we must decrease and decrease and decrease.

The process of living Jesus and authentically revealing Him through your life must begin with a fundamental understanding of just what is going on here. We must take our theologies and light a fire to them and allow the smoke to travel into our hearts and minds. The stakes are of greatest seriousness and the glory of God is also greatly involved. If we allow the cares of the world to fill our hearts and minds then we will not be able to follow Jesus at all. The knowledge of eternity is part of the fuel that empowers a true disciple. Jesus did not come to earth to change the culture. He came to change eternity for whosoever would believe.

And therein lies the most profound truth of all. Man’s fall was complete and hopeless. Christ’s redemption is complete and filled with hope. But through the years the church has diluted the gospel into all kinds of formulas and quick fixes and something used to enhance men’s earthly lives. It is almost breathtaking to see the lack of depth or cost connected with the modern gospel. It  is now a ticket to heaven that costs nothing either in its purchase or in its journey.

To be called to follow Jesus rises higher than just to pay your taxes without cheating or letting someone go in front of you in a grocery store line. It is a path which costs everything and comes with a reward unknown in this world. To each genuine believer there is an inward light, an inward fire, an inward presence, all of which emanate from God. And that glow desires to shine through a human life and into the world. And through selfless acts of love, kindness, grace, mercy, and others this light can be used by the Spirit to communicate Jesus the Christ. It is a mind boggling ministry which takes place in the invisible spirit world because it is impossible in the flesh.

But, sadly, the western church lives by the strength of its eyes and not by the strength of its faith. And in so doing the tabernacles have grown dark and cold. I see an occasional post on my timeline which comes from a blog called “Right Wing News”. That in itself should tell us all we need to know about how the evangelical world has played the harlot. We can never be a glowing tabernacle if we are perceived as conservative or Republican or even as pro-life. And when we are seen as national patriots it dilutes the gospel and blurs any hint of the Lord Jesus and His passion.

We must invite and beseech the Spirit of God to completely illuminate our hearts and minds and then as we understand the soaring truths that are inherent in Christ we must humbly but energetically submit to everything He desires.

But the first step is to see the culture as an enemy of Jesus in every way. The moment we see any part of the culture as friendly toward Christ is the moment we enter compromise and eventually complete assimilation. And when you become assimilated in the culture an incredible and powerful phenomenon takes place. You actually fall in love with the part of the culture you deem as moral or at least innocuous. And through the sheer weight of practice and participation and experience you no longer see the spiritual enemy that the culture actually is. You may be a tabernacle but you no longer shine or glow. Your witness has been extinguished and you cannot even see it because you now consciously and subconsciously evaluate your spiritual walk by comparison with others if indeed you evaluate it at all.

But if you sincerely and passionately desire to shine for Christ you must set a course. And that course must begin with a research of what Jesus taught. And that research must be accompanied with much prayer, contrition, fasting, and a relentless pursuit to emulate what you learn. Why are we not the most compassionate people in the culture? Why are we not the most gracious people in the culture? Why are we not the most humble people in the culture? Why are not the most humanitarian people in the culture? Why are we not the most loving people in the culture? Why are we not the most redemptive people in the culture?

Why? Because we are not actually following Jesus nor do we actually wish to follow Him if it means all those things. We have our doctrines, bathed in orthodoxy, and that is what we believe constitutes following Jesus. And that is why we can hate liberals and gays and still consider ourselves as Jesus followers. That is why we can participate in the dreadful system which is constructed and practiced against what Jesus taught and still we consider ourselves as Jesus followers. That is why we can covet money and things and still consider ourselves as Jesus followers. It all stems from a friendship with the world and an ignorance of Jesus.

But if we truly wish to be incandescent tabernacles for the Master we must not only become thoroughly versed in His life and teachings, but we must spend quality and sacrificial time with Him. Think about it. Why do we “have devotions”? Why do we define a quiet time as reading Our Daily Bread and saying a two minute prayer? How can we get up to go to church and arrive without spending time with the One we supposedly are going to worship? The answer is simple. We have been assimilated by the culture and there are many things like Martha that consume our time and thoughts. And so we have created neat, little “devotional” times which by comparison to earthly interests are embarrassing. So instead of being a living sacrifice we give God a minor offering and go about our busy lives. That is not being a disciple at all.

So in order to become a glowing tabernacle we must diligently pursue Christ as if our lives depended upon it. We must reject the things of this world and seek those things which are above. It is imperative that we studiously and prayerfully take inventory of our lives and see if there is any compromise within us. To love Christ is to loathe disobedience or even ambivalence. To love Christ is to despise your own flesh. To love Christ is to reject the spirit of this present world. To love Christ is not to give him a ten minutes devotion, but it is to present your bodies a living sacrifice…holy and acceptable.

But when and if we are glowing tabernacles which allow Christ Himself to shine brilliantly in and through us remember this eternal truth. Jesus will get all the glory. And that, my friends, should stir all of us.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What Will We Tell Jesus?

WHAT WILL WE TELL JESUS?

Ez.33:6 - But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.

Go ahead and argue about its origins. A widespread polio vaccine grown in monkeys in the 1950's was involved. We know it came from monkeys and was spread disproportionately by gay men in North America, but it originated and was spread in Africa by heterosexual sex. That conversation is now moot and self righteous on some level. Now listen to the situation today.

7000 Africans die every day of AIDS. Now compare that with the 1500 total people that died in New Orleans because of Katrina. Compare that with the 150,000 people that died in the tsunami. The number of people that die of AIDS in Africa in one month eclipses that number. The 200,000 monthly AIDS deaths in Africa leave some 100,000 orphans behind. Some are infected and some are not. Many Africans believe that having sex with a virgin will cure you and so there are hundreds of thousands of rapes of girls all the way down to 8 years old take place every year. Not only does that traumatize the girl, it usually infects her.

The physical death of an AIDS infected person is one of the most excruciating anyone can imagine. In Africa most AIDS infected persons are rejected by their families due to superstitions, as a matter of fact most Africans refer to them as "sick people" rather than admitting what they have. They die alone and in unbelievable pain.

Now aside from the indescribable horror of their physical deaths, the Spiritual implications are mind boggling. 7000 people die and go to a Christless eternity every day. Since their families abandon them, they are wide open to someone coming to help them. The government is so overwhelmed with the disease that they don't care if you preach Popeye to them as long as you give them water, sheets, and general help. It is the largest and most wide open mission field in history. Most are not Muslim and they have Bibles in their language. The only segment of the body of Christ that is equipped to reach them is the American evangelical church. We have the people, we have the money, we have the transportation, and basically God has made us the stewards of His resources to use for His kingdom. The wealth we have is for His use not ours.

If the American church stopped spending the billions on new buildings, individually lived well below their means, and made reaching these helpless people the major focus of their calling we might be able to "rescue the perishing". We are content with conferences, books, tapes, buildings, houses, clothes, restaurants, entertainment, Christian cruises, and many other cultural entrapments. Even while we speak out against the doctrinal falling away in its many forms we must open our eyes to the Spiritual holocaust. Nehemiah's workers carried both a hammer and a sword.

Now I wonder, what will we tell Jesus when He asks us "Why did you lay up for yourselves the treasure I specifically told you not to?". "How often did you weep for the perishing?" Why did you peruse the internet on a 50 to 1 to prayer ratio?" "Why did you let the unsaved rock stars show more compassion?" "Where were the all night prayer meetings to bring down my power?" "Why did you cry at seeing portrayals of my Son's death but it did not move you to sacrificial acts of ministry?" "Why did you read this article and still do nothing?"

This situation is but one of many across the world. Souls are perishing physically and spiritually and yet the church plays. Can you imagine people are paying a fee in order to hear someone like Joel Osteen while millions are without food and water and medical care? It is a monstrous betrayal of all Jesus lived and taught. The embarrassing and but revealing fact is that we do not truly believe what we say we believe. We have left Jesus and followed after our own fleshly desires. Yes, the church has become a whore.

What will we tell Him...

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.