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.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Change

CHANGE
 
We talk about change in a person’s life that authenticates his conversion experience. And well we should. However what do we mean when we say “change”? After a bone fide conversion a sinner usually gives up things he used to enjoy. Drugs and drunkenness and cursing and smoking are some of the usual suspects. And indeed being freed from such things does glorify God and provide a witness to the world of the power of Christ.

But let us not stop there. In fact they are only the beginning. But so many professing believers become satisfied and complacent just because they do not run with the old crowd and party as they used to. But there are hidden issues of the heart that loom large as it pertains to being like Jesus and following His teachings.

There is coveteousness and unforgiveness and idolatry and self righteousness and hatred and malice and honesty and just to name a few of the “don’ts” of the heart. But there is also love and mercy and grace and humility and selflessness just to name a few of the “do’s”. So often professing believers stop at some of the outward sins and disregard the sins of the heart.

II Cor.7: 1- Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Look at that! Paul divides sins into two categories – the sins of the flesh (outward) and the sins of the spirit (inward). But notice with full attention how we are to cleanse ourselves of these sins. He calls the Word of God “promises”. Wow, what a glorious term! Even those verses that correct and indict us are promises. Even the warnings of eternal punishment are promises. Everything God says are promises backed by the full integrity and authority of Almighty God. It is an incredible gift we have been given. It is God’s eternal and infallible Word.

So I have been saved for almost forty years. I have read through the Scriptures many times. I have preached thousands of times. I have written many things and I have taught the Word of God. But I still am in desperate need of having the Word through the Spirit prick my heart and change me. Unbelievers give up drugs and violence and stealing and the like. But a true believer never steps down from the potter’s wheel and claims he is finished. Our salvation was finished at Calvary but our sanctification will be an ongoing process until we meet Christ.

The first step is to read and meditate and allow the Spirit to reveal to your own heart the Word of God. Allow your heart to be revealed to you. Look deeply into your own heart by the illuminating ministry of the Spirit. Are there things there that are not of Christ?

Heb.4: 12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

I never want to give the impression that I have arrived. Far from it. But what a glorious gift of grace when the Spirit takes God’s Word, illuminates my understanding, convicts me of my sin, and then forgives me and empowers me to repent and change. It is a great mystery and an unseen power which glorifies God within my own heart. To think that God not only redeemed my soul but also guides me with His Spirit, and then conforms me to the image of Christ is an immeasurable act of grace even post-redemption. And can I reveal something which is both to my own shame and the glory of God? Through forty years God has forgiven me of some of the same sins many times. Can you even begin to imagine such a grace? Such a love? Does that not convict us when we refuse to forgive because that person has committed the same offense against us?

So we who love Christ…just what is our calling? Yes we are to win souls and spread the gospel, but as it pertains to widening and deepening our relationship with our Savior, what is our calling?

Eph.4: 1 - I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called…

This calling is our vocation. It is our “career” so to speak. And we are to pursue Christ and submitting ourselves to His potter’s wheel. And our heart is where sin abides and hides. How many of us have hidden some sin within our hearts and yet enjoyed the falsehood of an outward appearance? Men are ignorant of our sin and yet God sees and knows. Man looks on the outward appearance but God sees the heart. The church has become consumed with the outward man and has profoundly ignored the heart. And yet the issues of God’s life proceed from the heart.

We are called to seek Christ and change throughout our Christian journey. There can never be a time when we sit back and tread spiritual water. Have we lost our hunger and thirst to be like Jesus? Are we content with how far we have come and thereby we no longer labor for the personal metamorphosis which honors God? When was the last time you were profoundly experiencing the Potter’s wheel? When was the last time you were broken because you realized how holy He is and how stagnant you are?

Change honors and pleases God. Yes, one day God will change us completely and we will be like Him. But until then we have been given an incredible gift of grace. He has called us to be like Jesus, and He has promised to empower us when we truly seek Christ. In the 60’s people watched the Beatles so much that they literally changed their appearance and their speech and their clothing in order to look like them. They idolized them.

In order to be like Jesus we must sit at His feet, listen to His words, and surrender to the ministry of His Spirit. We cannot change ourselves. That is always legalism and is fraught with self righteousness. But when we are changed by God’s Spirit deep within our hearts it pleases the Father. Thoughts and intents and motivations and attitudes that are against Christ must be crucified. And like David we say,

 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

The secret sins of the heart are the most difficult to see and the most difficult to renounce. But our wonderful Master has promised to reveal our sin and forgive us and to help us repent.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

The Harmony of Redemption


THE HARMONY OF REDEMPTION

There are many things in the Scriptures that are confounding. Mysteries abound and the way God operates sometimes seems very disturbing. In the Old Testament there are any number of events that would lead one to believe that God was not like Jesus, who actually was God. That in and of itself is an enormous conundrum. Jesus invites the little children to Himself and yet God wipes out entire cities. You can pretend you understand or even create some tortured reason, but if we are honest we must admit a finite understanding of the ways of our God. God kills the entire planet save eight, but John 3:16 tells us He loves the world.
I do not understand all the workings and intricacies of an automobile, but I do comprehend the basic principle and the purpose around which all those workings function. Lift up the car’s hood and see the swirling mass of wires and hoses and metal, and you can be sure of one thing, they all are designed to make this car run. Some help make the ride comfortable while others are an integral part of internal combustion. Some keep the engine cool; some aid in creating electrical power; some distribute that power; and some are the actual chambers of mini-explosions. But the goal is travel and in one way or another all the parts work together to accomplish that task.
And so it is with the divine interaction with fallen humanity. The entire Scriptural syntax coalesces around one overarching theme - redemption. We may not understand all the working parts and how certain actions are helpful in that endeavor, however we can still see redemption being shepherded along by the skillful and omniscient hand of Almighty God.
In John Steinbeck’s classic “Of Mice and Men”, Lenny is completely dependent upon his friend George. Lenny is mentally retarded and is lost in a world of unsympathetic men. George takes care of him. But when asked, Lenny admits to another man that many times he does not understand what George is saying. But still Lenny loves and is devoted to George. And so it is with followers of the Lord Jesus. We know much more about Him than we need to in order to be convinced of His absolute love and grace, but there are things about God we cannot understand while in these earth suits.
I think sometimes that the world is turned off by our smugness and unwillingness to humbly admit that we do not have all the answers. When we dilute God down to formulas and moral codes and religious rituals it comes across as self righteous, and many times it is. But the gospel, the message of God to mankind, is glorious in its simplicity. There is no deeper or more profound issue than redemption, however God has made the door to redemption accessible and easy to understand. Perhaps its that simplicity to which the pompous intellect of man objects.
And I ask this question: If redemption is the main stream of Scripture from which all other issues are tributaries, then why do we argue about things that are not only subordinate, but many times pollute the pure stream of redemption itself? Scripture is only cohesive if it is permeated by the presence and power of redemption. Without redemption, Scripture becomes a collection of thoughts and events that are widely scattered and very varied in their topic and understanding. Redemption, redemption through Jesus Christ, is the brilliant light that shines throughout Scripture, and redemption must be the prism through which we interpret all Scripture.
Even judgment and punishment are the negative side of the redemption issue. They are tools that God can use to prod a sinner into the redemption provided by the Eternal Redeemer. Sometimes the prospect of judgment can be a most loving tool. But we as the redeemed must never lose sight of that gracious redemption, and we must seek ways to further illuminate it to those who dwell in darkness. This is no religious game, and unless you believe that God has decided to only redeem a miniscule company of sinners, then you must believe that God has given us a divine mission. And that mission is to be conduits of His redemption.
There is no higher knowledge than the knowledge of Jesus the Messiah and the spiritual context of His passion. When a sinner realizes that Jesus was God’s Son and that His death and resurrection was the only act of eternal redemption offered by God, then upon a simple act of faith that sinner steps into the expanse of eternal freedom and life itself. “Learn of Me” exhorts the Savior. But how often have we left the sacrifice and gone chasing after things which do not profit redemptively? And sharing Jesus is the message of redemption.
Instead of sharing Jesus we castigate gay sinners for their sin. Instead of Jesus we do battle with liberals over money. Instead of Jesus we enter into strife over how the lost world acknowledges marriage. Instead of Jesus we organize movements designed to address all kinds of sins. Instead of Jesus we share our views about capital punishment. Instead of Jesus we argue over which version of the Bible God likes. Instead of Jesus we are forceful about the earth’s age. Instead of Jesus…instead of Jesus.
There will come a time in the future that all humans will have to face God. Some will have had their sins covered and stand in the glory of His grace. But others will stand uncovered and with the vileness of their sin exposed and awaiting eternal judgment. And on that day those who have no redemption may cry out an indictment against us. They may well point out that we were so caught up in moral causes and denominational divisions and Biblical debates that we reduced the message and lifestyle of redemption to a small part of the ecclesiastical experience. In fact, they may well point out that we spent an inordinate amount of time money on buildings, books, music, mortgage interest, doctrinal defenses, and a plethora of church activities, while allotting the message of redemption only a nominal share.
And in the face of such an indictment, we just may have to bow our heads in silence. Or, we can mitigate such a prospect by elevating Christ’s redemption to a place of supreme importance in both message and practice.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Cross


The Cross

Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand,
the shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land;
a home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way,
from the burning of the noontide heat, and the burden of the day.

Upon that cross of Jesus mine eye at times can see
the very dying form of One who suffered there for me;
and from my stricken heart with tears two wonders I confess:
the wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness.

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 nor loss,
my sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross
.


I Cor.1:17-24 - For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
Oh dear ones, where is the cross? Why have we sold our hope for a mess of pottage? Why do we preach morality and patriotism and family and finances and everything else under the Sun, but backpedal the cross except for some perfunctory asides that make us feel good about our doctrinal selves? Watch as some well known pastor is invited to be on Larry King and listen as they speak of homosexuality, abortion, moral values, traditional marriage, and the political issue du jour. But cup your ear and see if they spend any time speaking about the cross. Sadly, your ears strain in vain.
Do we not believe the cross and its power survived the Industrial Revolution? Do we now believe the preaching of the cross is so unsophisticated to the modern mind that we must now use other means that are more palatable to the unsaved spiritual taste? I mean, what idiot would converse with Stephen Hawkings and share the cross of Jesus Christ with his massive intellect? We might be mocked for such an archaic idea. So many churches have become circuses designed to either ignore the cross altogether, or slip it in the back door so as to avoid any real offense. The cross has become an offense to the visible, western church. God forgive us.
We have become so wise in our own eyes, and so crafty and cunning. Experts in the art of communication, entertainment, effective lighting, moving music, and relevant preaching, we have abandoned that which the Apostle says is the power of God. And jettisoned along with the cross of Jesus Christ is any cross bearing in our own lives. We desire the resurrection, or at least the newness of life, without the suffering and shame of the cross.
Most Christian television and radio is an affront to God and His message. The Christian bookstores have no conscience and Biblical compass; they are nothing more than money making enterprises. But so are many churches. Ask your church for the list of sermons and sermon series over the last five years and see how often the cross is the theme as compared with earthly themes. And more personally, think about how often you worship Christ for that cross in your daily walk, and recall any time where you actually shared that cross with a lost person in the last five years.
Compared with the cross, we have no problem sharing with a lost person how Jesus can help his life. But a crossless Christianity is no Christianity at all. And I do not mean just having the cross as a conspicuous part of our religious creed. There are many “orthodox” churches who have as part of their creed the words “Jesus died for our sins upon the cross”. Oh yes, we believe that! We are not liberal or emergent and our statement of faith proves that and reveals how orthodox we really are. But as I said, in mixed company and when on the national stage, the cross doesn’t even make the topic list, much less be the core theme.
The cross is our life, and it should be the banner of God’s people. Should Jesus tarry the cross will continue to be ignored and even maligned. Many emergents have suggested it represents defeat and even cosmic child abuse. Many modern day thinkers no longer embrace the cross as wholly redemptive, and many now suggest it is a spiritual example of what we should not do to others. But those things are easily recognized as deceptions and departures from the obvious teachings of Scripture, but there is a more subtle deception. When we take solace in the fact that we see that deception and remain steadfast doctrinally concerning the cross, but we are deceived as well. You see, when the evil one cannot get a people to deny the cross or change its redemptive message, he showers them with pride while they themselves move away from the cross, not doctrinally, but in their words and lives.
And voilĂ ! The cross has become a doctrinal relic that no longer actually has a discernible place in our everyday lives, and is a fringe issue in many of our gospel presentations. Let’s be honest, the idea that a dead Jew on a Roman instrument of extreme public torture is unsavory and sounds so out of place in any reasonable discussion of spiritual things. With the rise of education, and with the advent of technology, and with the elevation of our standard of living, the message of the cross seems so primitive and unrealistic. So unless we actually believe the words of the New Testament, we are left to our own wisdom and spiritual strategies, which in fact, is exactly what Paul warns against.
And faced with such a dilemma, we can only address our own plight while praying for the body of Christ collectively. It just may be that the western church will not return to faithfulness to Christ and His gospel, but God only holds you personally accountable. And meditate upon this thought: If I was the only believer on earth right now, how would Jesus desire me to live and speak? And if I was the only believer on earth today, when I died would Christianity die with me? Is there anything concerning Jesus in my life right now that would warrant persecution? Are people around me affected by my walk in Christ, either positively or negatively?

The cross of Jesus Christ is the power of God.

And take notice of these last two lines,

Content to let the world go by to know no gain nor loss
My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.

Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand,
the shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land;
a home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way,
from the burning of the noontide heat, and the burden of the day.

Upon that cross of Jesus mine eye at times can see
the very dying form of One who suffered there for me;
and from my stricken heart with tears two wonders I confess:
the wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness.

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 nor loss,
my sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

This Young Man is Gay

THIS YOUNG MAN IS GAY
LET THE STONES FLY!
 
I cannot help but cry. This is why Jesus came, and yet this young man is exactly who the church maligns and rejects and votes against and, yes, even hates. Where oh where have we left Jesus?
 

Comments Closed

COMMENTS CLOSED

FYI - Most of you will not care but I have blocked any comments on my blog. I just cannot read anymore arguments and back and forth between people. Even when I post about Jesus and His cross people find it necessary to either provide their own commentary or point out something I missed or argue with each other. And for the most part these are people who would agree with me on false teachers and the slide of the modern church. But they are blind to their own carnal nature which is bathed in self righteousness. I cannot read any more useless arguments.
I realize my blog is very insignificant and has only a few readers so do not think this is a very big event. Most of you will not care but I believe God's Spirit is grieved with my comment thread. Gone.