Sunday, December 30, 2007

Carrying the True Cross

Since I am blogger challenged and am not proficient in posting copies, go to this address (Rick Ianniello's blog) and see a slide show that is absolutely devastating.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Jesus Stands Outside the Church

Rev.3:20 - Behold I stand at the door and knock, if any man hear my voice, and open the door I will come in to him, and will sup with him and he with Me.

No longer is the church consumed with Jesus, in today’s fast paced and modernistic genre the emphasis is on man and his desires, not on pleasing God. The church throughout history was as flawed as its people, but there seemed to be a common desire, to serve the living God who had called and saved them. Paul himself preached Christ and Him crucified and yet today the preaching of Jesus and His cross is negligible compared with the panoramic topics that center on man. Jesus stands outside the church doors and knocks.

Some churches now resemble a community club complete with dancing and drinks and every activity that seeks to satisfy the insatiable desire of the western hedonistic heart. Jesus is a by product who is used not worshiped by an eclectic group whose pleasure seeking spirit binds them together. Let us call it as it is, these type of relevant churches are a disgusting display of the flesh and reject the holiness of God. Everything is geared to meet man’s needs and desires and not to provide a forum to seek God and His will. These in essence have strayed from being New Testament churches, they are now community gatherings with a pinch of Christian residue that has been twisted to minister to man and not to Christ. Jesus stands outside the church doors and knocks.

There is little fragrance wafting from the lives of the church goers that would draw a sinner to ask of the hope within them, no, today the advertising budget in the church must be substantial enough so as to draw the fleshly appetites of sinners. Sinners are no longer drawn to a Jesus lifted up, they are now attracted to the multi-faceted activities of the church and a Jesus who is the activities director. And when these sinners are drawn to these churches, they fall in love with the church and their organized programs and not Jesus Himself. There can hardly be a more shallow call to believe and follow Christ as exists in many local assemblies today. Some repeated prayer with a subsequent church membership and you are in, but that is not and never has been New Testament Christianity. Jesus stands outside the church doors and knocks.

And so the believers leave the gathering and go back to their lives within the community. And where is the difference that should be so evident in the life of those who follow Christ? The commitment to God’s Word by the average professor is not only shameful, most do not even crack the Word - ever. And if some pray before a meal that serves as the totality of their prayer life. Smoking, drinking, cursing, carousing, and greed are just a few of the outward behaviors that belie the claim that they serve the risen Christ. Sacrifice? That is a lost word within most Christian circles and moderation now means we can partake of everything in moderation, not a life that forsakes questionable activities. Jesus stands outside the church doors and knocks.

How can it be that those who wear the name of the One and Only God of Redemption can live so carelessly and be comforted and exhorted to do so by their very pastors? It is because the Jesus they claim to serve is not the Risen Monarch who sits and reigns upon His heavenly throne, this Jesus is another Jesus, a part of our group, a buddy who goes with you in approval no matter where you go or what you do. That is another Jesus and upon that caricature the evangelical world is constructing its theology and practice. Our Dear Lord suffered unimaginably for sin and yet we now take sin so lightly and even redefine its parameters so as to accommodate our lifestyles. Where is our desire to please our Heavenly Father, and where is our determination to come out from among them and be separate? Jesus stands outside the church doors and knocks.

But how are we held accountable who see such happenings within the evangelical church? Are we just supposed to speak words that delineate such Scriptural departures and with that God is pleased? One of the greatest and most subtle deceptions within the church is the feeling that those who have some discernment about the purpose/seeker/emergent venues of evangelicalism have little discernment about our own sin, shortcomings, pride, and powerlessness. We can write books and oversee blogs and write great and swelling words of correction and reproof, but can we turn the light of God’s Spirit upon our own lives and churches and be driven to repentance ourselves? We have been deceived into believing since we are doctrinally orthodox we stand filled with God’s Spirit upon the earth and that our witness is as powerful as the former preachers we love to quote so often. Just a surface perusal of the lives of Whitefield and Wesley should bring us humbly to our knees and almost embarrassed to quote them. Jesus stands outside the church doors and knocks.

No one can bring the entire church to repentance but the Holy Spirit, but we are responsible for our own spiritual walk before Christ. Are we sacrificially surrendered? Are we consumed with Christ and dedicated to the prayer closet? Do we reject the spirit of this world and embrace the fellowship of the Spirit? Are we content with being persecuted and sometimes lonely, or is our appetite toward the things of this world? Who or what do we love more than Christ and how does our lifestyle reflect the fact that we seek a city whose builder and maker is God? Does Jesus have the pre-eminence in every aspect of our lives? Is He Lord of all? In order for Christ to come into the church and rightly take up His throne He must enter through the hearts of His people. Is your heart wide open to Him totally? Jesus stands outside the church doors and knocks.

And now the glorified Lion and Lamb is shut out from His own blood bought church, and inside where His people should dwell is a mixed multitude. Many if not most today have no perspective as to what a committed Christian used to look like, and indeed most reject it as a time captured culture from which we have moved. Which preacher spends two hours a day in prayer and which pastor wrestles passionately over his messages, realizing he will face Christ one day and give an account? Which preacher ascends the pulpit with avenues of tears etched upon his face and looking haggard because of the late night watches? How many congregations are worried because their pastor seems to be losing weight without realizing that he has been called by God to powerful and secret fastings to seek God and His power? Jesus stands outside the church doors and knocks.

Maybe Jesus desires smiling politicians as pastors whose online joke book provides some entertainment for his listeners. Maybe the Lord loves a pastor who can organize but not agonize, one who can deliver a polished message about finances or marriage or some antiseptic topic du jour that satisfies but never challenges much less convicts. Maybe Christ is pleased with churches that have thousands of parishioners and maybe one small and insignificant prayer gathering. Perhaps God desires more time spent in music preparation than his people falling upon their faces before the Father Almighty. Maybe God smiles when people leave the gathering feeling good about their spiritual situation even though they will return to their careless lifestyle that reflects no more of the Lord Jesus than their unbelieving neighbors. Jesus stands outside the church doors and knocks.

Ok, my words are wind that blow through and mess up my own spiritual hair and I find many, many mirrors as I write. But I am not the standard, I am a voice who by God's grace cannot help but speak that which I believe the Spirit allows some insignificant believer like me to see.

Lord Jesus, Your church is in a mess. We have built idols in our high places, we have sought the world and not You, we have not walked in Your love, and we have held services without the fullness of Your presence. Come in Lord Jesus and take Your rightful place of majesty and authority. Revive us, Lord Jesus, revive us.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Partial Circumcision or Partial Salvation

Gen.17:10-11 - This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
Rom.2:29 - But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

Col.2:11 - In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

God had promised Abram a great nation whose population would be as the stars of heaven. In Abram and Sarai’s haste they agreed to let Hagar give birth to their child, mistakenly assuming God would accept that child as the promise. They called the child Ishmael according to the angel’s command and by God’s grace he would pronounce an earthly blessing upon this child, but Ishmael would never be the child of God’s promise and the one through whom would come the Messiah.

Now God visited Abram when he was ninety years old and affirmed His promise of a child which would be born to Sarai in her old age, and before Isaac was born God commanded all the male children born a Jew to be circumcised upon the eighth day. Now Abram, Ishamael, and all of Abram’s company were circumcised according to the command of God concerning the covenant. The seed that would give life to Isaac would now come through the covenant sign of Abram’s circumcision. The promise of God’s Word inherent in the child Isaac would come forth later outwardly sealing what God had already established before the worlds were made.

Please take note there is no command in the Old Testament that ever indicates that partial circumcision would ever be accepted. The only acceptable sign of the covenant was the removal of the foreskin totally from every male child born in Israel. There was no provision for partial circumcision, it was to be total. This act of obedience would have a significant symbolism for the coming New Covenant, one that was based upon better and enduring promises. This New Covenant would be substantiated through the shed blood of God’s own Son, and those who would enter this blood covenant were called also to circumcision, not of the flesh but of the spirit.

Listen carefully as Paul connects the Old Testament with the New through the shadow of circumcision, but with one major and important difference. No longer does God require the circumcision of the fleshly foreskin, no this new circumcision must be the cutting away of the sins of the heart. This circumcision is much more painful than Abram’s circumcision but it also demands a complete circumcision. Those who by faith come to Jesus Christ must be prepared for this circumcision, whole and complete, and holding nothing back. Process to be sure, but a complete surrender to that process is the sign of genuine faith.

There is no such thing as a partial commitment to Jesus Christ. Just as a partial circumcision would have been rejected in the Old Testament, so will a partial commitment to Christ be rejected by God. Can you not see the plethora of half hearted commitments to Jesus Christ today, and in those so called commitments lives the eternal danger of damnation. This is no game and no trifle, this is the ultimate issue of all seriousness. We have both minimized and also expanded God’s grace and have stuffed it into our own definitions and by doing such we have sometimes completely misrepresented the grace of God. The grace of God covers everything and it is limitless in the life of a believer, but that grace does not come through grace, it comes through faith. That is an important distinction because some now teach that God’s grace is automatically placed upon some who either have made a lukewarm commitment to Christ, or worse yet, that God’s grace will cover those who have never even believed in Christ.

Remember not all who were circumcised in Israel were actually saved, Hebrews tells us that some who bore the outward sign lived in unbelief. What then can we make of those who do not even bear the outward sign? Those who refused to be fully circumcised were to be treated as the heathen not as recipients of God’s grace even while they were living in disobedience and unbelief. To expand God’s grace without the exhibition of obedience that comes through genuine faith is to change the gospel and give false hope to millions of lost souls who rest in their partial and non-effective Christian life. Within the pews of the thousands of evangelical churches in America there dwells a massive mission field that includes Sunday School attenders, choir members, and many who are committed to their church and not the Lord Christ.

One cannot come by faith to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and ask for a partial circumcision, one that protects the precious flesh and only commits that which is convenient and painless, no, that is not the gospel and many have followed its pernicious way. In the Old Testament it took time for the wound of circumcision to heal and indeed it was painful, but there is no provision for any other route to obey God’s command. So it is with the circumcision of the Spirit, it is painful and takes a lifetime to be fully healed and resolved. Then why do so many feel comfortable in their sin and careless living and their lack of sacrifice and seeking of God’s face? It is probable that many professing believers have been born in Ishmael’s legacy and not of Isaac’s. They have born of the illegitimate bondwoman and not the Son of promise.

What do I mean by that and just who does Ishmael represent? Ishmael is the symbol of the ways of man, the human way of salvation and not according to the promise of God’s Word. Ishmael is attractive, and just as Abram felt the attraction of his flesh toward Hagar so do many feel the attraction of the flesh toward these new and enticing words of man’s wisdom that change the essence of the gospel and offer Ishmael at the expense of Isaac. You see the birth of Ishmael was a natural act of the flesh while the birth of Isaac was a supernatural act of the Spirit. And we now have so many professions of Christ that are void of the supernatural and mirror the birth of Ishmael and yet are accepted as from God. God says “throw out the bondwoman and her child” because there can be no mixture.

God will not accept the works of the flesh, only the works that emanate from the Spirit Himself. No partial salvations, no partial commitments, no partial faith, and no partial circumcisions will be accepted by God. And to insinuate that God’s grace can be applied to the doorposts of tepid and lukewarm “believers” is wresting the Scriptures and giving false hope to sinners. Remember, desiring to avoid hell and desiring to go to heaven are used by the Spirit to open eyes, but salvation comes not from those things but by fully believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus doesn’t show the way, He is the way and only in Him can we find eternal life. The scraps that pass for commitment today are an affront to Christ and His gospel. Not only are people’s lives careless and fleshy, they no longer desire to become inwardly and outwardly sanctified and fit for the Master’s use. And even further, many teach that we no longer have to desire that depth of discipleship, God accepts us all just as we are.

Oh beware my friends, partial circumcision doesn’t lead to partial salvation, it leads to death. The feel good gospel has stretched out its tentacles and choked the truth from the gospel and is drawing millions to a convenient and shallow conversion. People are changing part of their minds but their hearts are far from Christ. The lusts of the world are now presented as gospel attractions, but the humble servant of the cross is rejected, repackaged, and disseminated for the consumption of the careless sinner. Anything that requires sacrifice or separation from the hedonistic dictates of this world is rejected as legalism and archaic. We are in desperate need of an awakening within the church, however the church is now primarily in the hands of false prophets and ear tickling teachers. New and exciting, but barren and dead.

God help us to break up the fallow ground, sow in tears, and seek His face until He reigns His power upon us again.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Thrust in the Sickle

As an introduction to support this article, I want to bring this revealing and disturbing fact to your attention as a preface to my essay. Today, 12/23/07, on Fox News Live Chris Wallace asked his guest Joel Osteen if Mormons were Christians. Pastor Osteen said:

"Yes, I believe they are".

We now have evangelical preachers endorsing anti-christ theology as Christian. Watch and pray, the end is upon us.


Rev. 14-16 - And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud [one] sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.

Listen closely to these words concerning the gospel and the end times. The time of grace grows perilously short and if anyone will be granted entrance into eternal life it must be soon for the door to God’s ark of mercy begins to shake in preparation for the end. I speak of your mate, your children, your loved ones, your neighbors, and I speak of the billions around the world where thinned ranks of gospel missionaries labor. Do not take lightly this warning, the gospel itself is rapidly being changed and the cloud of deception now covers much of what used to shine the light of God’s truth. You and I must awaken to this calling as the Holy Spirit makes it clear there is no rolling back the time nor the apostasy now rolling with growing determination. This is the time when we must go not stay.

Let us first evaluate our own discipleship before our Lord and Master. Are we concerned about what grieves Him, and do we see what He now sees and communicates to our spiritual eyes? As the church sinks into the self indulged malaise while still camouflaging its shallow commitment with activities and new teachings, where are we personally? Are you and I content and even rejoicing in the depth of our sacrificial walk with Christ, or have we been diluted through the cares of this world and the compromise of the church? Do we run to His Word daily with anticipation of its great treasure and the strength of its truth that will continue to change us? Does that Word find its life and expression through our lives in such a way that as Peter observed we are called “peculiar”? And if not in the abundance that it should be, are we ready to repent?

God desires to use His people as conduits to reveal His glory and preach the everlasting gospel to the nations. How many of us can claim that we are adequately prepared for such a calling? Our one and only desire should be His glory and the spread of the only truth that can save this world from the fires of an eternal hell, this my friends is not trifle or fringe issue, this is the very center of God’s majestic plan. What a privilege, what an honor to be called into His service and given the power to glorify our Master to family, friend, and stranger alike. But have we made an unwavering commitment to His Word in such a fashion as to seem fanatical to our lukewarm surroundings? His Word, oh His Word, there is the only food for our souls and yet we have fasted from its life giving essence. Let us return with our faces set like a flint, reading, meditating, and obeying the Word with faith and vigor.

Like Gideon, a soldier with the armor of God along with His wisdom, will survey the battlefield with the eyes of the Spirit. If we look toward the field coupled with the sight of the wayward church, we should take note that the days are evil and the souls of men hang in the balance. The authentic gospel dwindles and a humanistic gospel that partners with other religions continues to move across the doctrinal landscape. It is embraced by the flesh and the desires of men who have usurped God’s Word and changed the truth of God into a lie. And all the while in the midst of this battle the unsaved masses walk in darkness not realizing their eternal peril draws ever so near.

So here we are, confronted by the Spirit’s calling and conviction that not only illuminates us to the desperate situation but commands us to repent and serve Christ with all our hearts. If we are to reach those we say we love as well as strangers who Jesus loves, we must thrust in the sickle and in God’s power harvest the last harvest before the Lord of the Harvest returns to take His justice upon this world. The unsaved neighbor you wave at as they pass in their car stands precariously on the edge of eternal judgment, should we not be loosed from our social consciousness and share the gospel with them? If we do not care for their souls surely we care about our Savior and His calling to us.

Many of you have unsaved family members who you perhaps have shared Christ with in some fashion and they have rejected Him. You have become wary of creating a rift within the family and so you hesitate to share with them again. Oh I beg you, Jesus Himself said His gospel would create breaches between the closest of families but that should not be our deterrence. Love them and be as kind as possible, but time still constricts around their souls and you may be their only hope to hear the gospel. Are you willing to suffer persecution or will you guard the status quo in order to maintain peace at the expense of their eternal destiny? Thrust in the sickle in the power of the Holy Spirit!

Lift your eyes higher and see the fields around the world. If ever there was a time to deepen our commitment to overseas missions it is now. The Word has a presence on every continent and according to Christ’s prophecy the end is at the doorstep. Pray and pray and pray that God will call and send missionaries in these last days to preach the gospel to every creature. If you cannot go, you must partner with those who have gone and are going. Listen closely and you will hear God’s heart beat communicated through the Spirit that grieves for the unsaved and unreached masses. Do we care that God cares? The end is upon us and more seriously upon them, let us thrust in the sickle around the world to the glory of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice!

So let us see ourselves again as emissaries for the Lord Jesus, whose abundant life exists fully within His will. Perhaps the sickle mentioned in Revelation has already been thrust invisibly by the Spirit, but God exhorts us all to take its handle and wield it to God’s glory. The day is far spent and the night is upon us, let us honor our King and live His life throughout the world. This will take repentance and a unswerving passion to preach the everlasting gospel to every living creature. What an honor.

Thrust in the sickle!

Friday, December 21, 2007


MaryLk.1:46 - My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.

Mary...A little insignificant peasant girl from the loins of David and from the loins of Judah, from which the Lion will spring. Just being faithful in her walk with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and not expecting anything special. Humble and obedient and obscure, but Jehovah had been watching. Jehovah had been guiding. Jehovah had chosen...her. The human ark of the New Covenant Lamb.

Mary...Before Jesus was born, before the shepherds worshipped, before the wise men brought gifts, before Simeon blessed Him, before Anna prophesied, before John the Baptist identified Him, before the Roman soldier knew who He was, before all of those and other declarations of who Jesus was, Mary identifies Him as "God my Savior" while He was still in her womb.

Mary...God borrows Mary's virgin womb with the unspeakable blessing of Himself. Not "a" miracle but "THE" miracle. The divine seed of God and the human egg of Mary combine to give life to the sinless "seed of the woman" as first prophesied in Genesis. Mary was obviously a Godly and Spiritual young woman and even though she must have been incredibly unsettled by the chain of events, she humbles herself and praises her Lord. God must have granted her a wonderful and unique covering of His grace that He had planned before He made the worlds.

Mary...The rumors, the embarrassment, the wonder, the pondering, all must bow as her soul magnifies the Lord. Just an angelic visitation must have been an amazing event, but when she as a 14, 15, or maybe 16 year old young virgin is told that she will be pregnant, she immediately asks "how can this be?". Pregnant? She truthfully confesses, with a quiet, trembling voice, that she has never been with a man and Gabriel confirms that as true. You see, not just "an" angel but the arch-angel Gabriel. Imagine the splendor, the brilliance, the beauty, and the aroma of heaven that must have been experienced by Mary in the presence of Gabriel.

Mary...Now, as she has been told she will be pregnant, Gabriel informs her that the baby will be a boy and His name shall be called Jesus(Joshua-"Jehovah saves"). Gabriel says that He will be called "the Son of the Highest". After she asks how, Gabriel tells her it is the Holy Spirit that will perform this miracle, and as Gabriel leaves he calls her baby the "Son of God". Wow. Mary has just had a one-of-a kind church service created just for her. With Gabriel the preacher, God prophesies to Mary about His will for her life and she surrenders. As she metaphorically comes down the aisle she bows at the altar and says,"be it unto me according to thy Word".

Mary...Just a righteous girl, chosen by Jehovah, invaded by God's Spirit, kept by God's grace, blessed among women, the earthly mother of God. Mary will be with Jesus throughout His life. She is with Him in Jerusalem at 12 years of age; she is with Him at His first miracle at Cana; She follows Him during His ministry; she is there as He stands before Pilate; she watches Him carry His own cross; she stands at the foot of the cross and watches her son be murdered, crucified; she is there as he is taken to a borrowed tomb. Beside the natural horror of seeing your son murdered, what must Mary have thought Spiritually. Did she think it was over and the Romans had killed the Messiah?

Mary...It is significant that when Jesus is resurrected we find no accounts of Mary being there. The risen Christ is now stripped of all earthly ties and Jesus tells His disciples to go tell the brethren. No mention of Mary. The sword that Simeon had prophesied about has pierced her heart, and she is now just a disciple of Jesus. The maternal miracle is now over, but a new one is on the horizon.

Mary...The Day of Pentecost. The disciples are praying in the upper room and God feels it necessary to mention that Mary was among them. The last mention of Mary. She has fulfilled the mission God gave her and she is now a follower of Jesus. A humble, broken, Spirit-filled follower. And one day she dies, and as she enters the presence of Jesus she bows with the other saints and worships the King of Kings. That's right. This is not a mother-son reunion. She received a breathtaking reward for her earthly faithfulness, and she places it at the feet of, in her own words, "God my Savior". God broke the alabaster box of Mary's life, spilled it out on His Son, and the aroma of her humble faithfulness will last forever.

Mary...a priceless gem of God's grace.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Death of Discernment

Ps.96:13 - Before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.

There is much talk of discernment these days and in fact there should be. It is impossible to keep pace with the avalanche of new and exciting and utterly false teachings that are now being embraced within Christian circles. Think about these teachings:

There is no hell
Everyone will be saved
Jesus was not unique
The cross was not primarily an atonement
The Scriptures are not authoritative
Homosexuality is not a sin

Those topics and more would have caused Christians to faint fifty short years ago but today they are accepted in mainstream evangelical circles. Why can believers sit and listen to preachers reconstruct Scriptural doctrines that no longer resemble the truths that have been established and are reflected in the Word itself? The answer is two fold. First, many churches have unregenerate sinners sitting in the pews who desire a religious form and a spiritual structure in their lives and the lives of their family, but they do not desire Christ. It is a sad but devastating fact and no wonder, more and more churches do not preach the gospel in a way that confronts the sinner to abandon his sin and embrace Christ.

This phenomenon has been growing for decades and now church membership is usually a tool to lock in money but not a way to have a person examine his spiritual standing before God. And the sermon menu includes all the earthly favorites that attract the carnal appetite and not challenge the spiritual commitment. Some appeal to greed, some to lust, and some to the auspices of the intellect. Watch as millions sit and enjoy a message on improving your sex life, or how to get rich, or a deep grammatical and etymological treatise that says a lot without saying anything. It is a redundant religious exercise that sells books and Cds but starves the spirits of the listeners. That is where we are in the church today.

Now the second reason of this wave of new teaching and thinking is that even true believers have lost any personal sense of discernment when it comes to God’s Word. Many of the new waves are being championed by younger people and not the older with their wisdom. And we do not have to wait for any D-day as it were, the crossing is complete, the beachhead has been established, and like driver ants these movements are moving with haste capturing everything in their way. Through printed material, online pod casts, traveling seminars, conferences, the personality of preachers, and miles and miles of discourse these movements have not only found legitimacy they have been embraced as the needed correction to historical Christianity. All while supposedly mature Christians sat and listened without objection.

So if you have been praying for a wayward son and he calls you to say he is attending Rob Bell’s church what are you to say? You are torn between your son’s step toward restoration and the serious issues you have with Rob Bell (or others) and there the devil has caused confusion. Do you see how insidious the devil is in his strategies? The intricate plans are interwoven in both open and clandestine ways so as to maximize what he is doing and Christians are content with the status quo. Like termites that secretly infest the inside of the house structure only to eventually bring the entire edifice down without any warning, so is the structure of Christianity as we know it being secretly dismantled and eventually it will be completely destroyed. And what will we say then? Many say that that day is upon us and like Samson we were asleep and don’t even know our power is gone. I personally do not believe the momentum can be assuaged, but when we stand before Christ we will give a personal account, not an answer for the masses.

No longer do believers scour the Word breathlessly to discover new treasures that satisfy the soul and established doctrines that protect from error. The average believer only desires Scriptures that will positively affect his life, nothing sacrificial or challenging, just some help making his life a success. And he shows no interest in seeking Christ and all His glories, just being His Savior is enough. And so when winsome teachers begin to unfold a teaching about Christ that departs from sound Biblical doctrine this believer is unaware of the departure and in fact embraces this exciting new revelation. Millions are being plucked weekly as these fresh teachings capture the lusts and by-pass the spirit. And what is dangerous is that most feel good about themselves and their spiritual condition.

The average church goer would not even have a working grasp of what discernment is and its place in a believer’s life. This is so very sad when we consider the Lord has so graciously given us His written Word along with great men and women of God to unfold its treasures under the anointing of God’s Holy Spirit. The doctrines that are being tampered with are not fringe issues, many of the fringe issues are already gone. These teachings are altering basic and foundational doctrines that evangelical denominations from a wide spectrum would consider established truth. And yet the average professor of religion drives to “his” church, sends his children to their well organized places of care, and wanders into the sanctuary without a thought, much less a prayer, about the Biblical authenticity of what he will hear. Most of the time the sermon title is all he should require.

The allurement of the new that activates the flesh and silences the spirit is in control in the evangelical community, and it is a fact that preachers stand before their listeners and teach abject heresy to believers who once were orthodox but now are dull of hearing. And the younger generation rejects grandpa’s Christianity and demands excitement and things that are relevant to their modern day lives. Does not your heart break when people say that the glorious Scriptures with their unfathomable majesty are not relevant for today’s believers? I cannot imagine what the angels must think when they have seen their Creator pay our incredible price for sin, give us the Holy Spirit, place His eternal Word into our hands, only to have us treat His Word as an antique and not powerful enough to be relevant today. It is blasphemy.

There are voices albeit rare who continue to warn the body about the doctrinal donnybrook taking place in so many different venues of deception, but they are for the most part voices in the wilderness that fall on deaf ears. And even though some voices of discernment are somewhat caustic and expansive in their parameters, they still are voices that identify some of these heresies. But where is the discernment in the pews? Where are the Godly Sunday School teacher who has studied His Bible for decades, taught it faithfully, and would never allow that type of doctrinal error to be preached from the pulpit under which he sits? There are some to God’s glory, but we need more. Even though I am a staunch Arminian, combative at times, I would 100 out of 100 times sit under a Calvinistic preacher who held to the cardinal doctrines of God’s Word than I would sit under any of these new and relevant preachers. That is how strongly I feel about what they are doing to God’s Holy Word.

So what do we do in the midst of this Biblical free-for-all? We stand strong in what we know to be true, strong, humble, and unwavering. And we teach our children the Word of God and warn them about these false teachings and teachers. Sit with them and watch someone like Joel Osteen (for instance) and teach them straight from his own lips and let them also point out error. I have done this countless times with my three children and when my grandsons reach the age when they can understand I will do the same. The television can be a productive classroom to help you insulate your children from false teaching. Invest in your children.

Look for opportunities to speak with other believers who do not discern, and do not show scorn when someone says they like someone who you consider a false teacher.. You must be careful and patient, remember when the doctor prescribes pills for your illness you do not take the entire bottle at one time. Pray for them and try not to treat them as part of an agenda, but lovingly share some things that may give them some thought. Try not to speak negatively about anyone specifically, especially the pastor or people they would respect. It is a mine field to be sure but perhaps God will use you. Always, always be humble, not a show of humility but a genuine humility that recognizes you do not know it all and anything you do know is by the grace of God. And remember God loves even the ones who are deceived and spreading deception.

Find other like minded believers who generally see what God has shown you and grow together. But do not use all your time dissecting false teachers, this is another deception of the enemy. Build each other up with prayer and meditation on the goodness of God’s Word. You can get so caught up with those with whom you disagree that you spend must of your time thinking about their errors and researching to find more. Eventually this also will remove any spiritual power even when you think you are speaking truth and discernment. Use your discernment to evaluate your own devotional life with Christ and sometimes allow the Holy Spirit to be blunt about the needs in your own spiritual life.

Always remember flesh and blood is not your enemy but the spirits of wickedness. Keep yourself in the love of God and spend as much time discerning your shortcomings as you do the error in others. This war takes no prisoners and it will not be won with requited venom, it will be won by Christ Himself. He demands of us to exalt Him and His Word both in doctrine and personal practice. It is a spiritual challenge to aggressively confront error while remaining humble and in God’s love, but it is a challenge that the Spirit of God can accomplish in and through us.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Exalting the Sacred

What have we done today to the sacred things of God? We have orchestrated worship by the power of the sound system, we have made prayer a perfunctory exercise, and we have completely ignored the lack of God’s presence in our midst. The ark of God’s presence lays silent outside the church walls and His own people do not even recognize it or care. If God’s tangible presence ever manifested itself in the average church service the people would run out into the streets for fear, not even knowing who it was. We could all learn from King David’s example.

The ark lay at the house of Obededom. The Scriptures tell us that it was a blessing to the entire family and that news had reached the ears of King David. Now David was the most powerful king upon the earth and his political power had no equals. He could have dispatched a legion of Levites to go and bring the ark back to Jerusalem, after all, David himself had conquered and established the city of Jerusalem for God’s glory. All he had to do was say the word and all would be obliged to carry out his command.

But David was not only a king, he was a man after God’s own heart. When he heard the ark was blessing another man’s house and that it still was not in Jerusalem his spirit was moved within him. Can you imagine such a scene? David calls his servants and the high priest and tells them to prepare an entourage to go to the house of Obededom to carry the ark to Jerusalem, and David himself would lead this sacred delegation. This was the king, the chief political figure in all the land, but King David would strip himself of his earthly power to humbly go and do the priestly work of the Lord.

So off goes this mighty caravan of Israelites led by King David to bring the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem. King David comes forth as a priest, heading up the most sacred of journeys and laying down his kingly robes for the presence of God. This time there would be no ox cart of human design, no, the Levites would bare the ark in accordance with God’s Holy Commandment. King David call for the leaders of the Levites and commands them to sanctify themselves before the Lord, he desired everyone’s heart right before God. The Levites were ready and the staves were in place to carry the ark of God.

David calls for the Levites that lead worship with instruments and singing and Chenaniah, the leader of the worship of Jehovah. So here we are at the house of Obededom, ready with the ark, and a loud and holy worship full of singing and playing of instruments rises up before the Lord, praising and singing as a sweet smelling savor before the God of the ark. King David has stepped out of his kingly garments and wore a linen ephod which was generally used as a priestly garment. The spirit of praise was mightily in their midst and the Levites carry the ark six steps and David offers seven bullocks and seven rams unto the Lord before they go any further.

The reverence and fear that David had for His Lord was palpable, and the entire entourage enters into the great sacrifice unto Jehovah. Can you smell the burning animal flesh and the smoke that rose toward heaven? This was no plain moving expedition, this was a journey of worship. And as the offerings were burned totally, the singers lifted their voices unto the Lord and the musicians began to praise God with a loud sound of undeniable praise and worship. Can you imagine the people who lived in that area, including Obededom and his family, watching this spectacle and seeing and experiencing the testimony of the Lord? Singing and shouting and playing and praising the Lord of the ark.

And then the King of all the Land gets so caught up with the presence of God that he begins to dance. Not just an insignificant sway that blends in with the crowd, oh no, David, dressed in a priestly garment goes in front of the ark and begins to swirl and jump and clap and dance with all his might before the Lord God his Deliverer. Still inside the yard of Obededom David is dancing before the Lord, the king who sits on his throne in Jerusalem in solemnity is now unashamedly dancing before his Lord in front of his subjects and any spectators. The political figurehead has come down from his earthly throne to dance and worship before He who sits upon the throne of heaven. What an example of humility and reverence.

As they approached Jerusalem we find David still dancing, still worshiping even now in front of all Jerusalem. They bring the ark to the tabernacle that David had prepared for its habitation. Oh the shouting and praising and the spiritual electricity that must have gone through the entire city. Again they offered up sacrifices unto the Lord after the ark had been set upon its resting place. Then David, again acting as a priest, blesses the people in the name of the Lord. And with the enormity of what had taken place still fresh, David does something that has prophetic implications.

David passes out a meal to every person to partake of. It consisted of bread, flesh, and wine and it was given to everyone. What could this meal mean? Those of us who have partaken symbolically and spiritually of this meal recognize it immediately as a foreshadow of the Lord’s Supper and the revelation of Jesus Christ and the coming New Covenant. What a glorious rehearsal concerning what we call communion, and notice it was within the context of worship. The entire city of Jerusalem bowed in worship and communion as they rejoiced in the return of the ark of the covenant. This meal again summoned images of the supper on the night of Passover where God’s deliverance was present mightily.

The festivities are over, the worship service has now ceased and the heart of King David was full of God’s greatness. He returns home only to find his wife, the daughter of King Saul, had been watching him dance before God. She scorns him and rebukes him for lowering himself as king and dancing like a commoner before the entire city. How could he humble himself before his subjects and risk losing their respect? How foolish, how base, and how unlike the king that he is, she insinuates.

Has David now come to his senses by her words? Has he sullied his reputation by his actions? Will he now take inventory about what he has done and regret getting carried away with the atmosphere of the day and becoming a spectacle before the people? On the contrary, he reproves his wife and not only justifies his unabashed worship before God, he informs her that in the future he will act with even more abandon in his demonstrative praise and worship toward Jehovah. This open show of worship before God did not come as an orchestrated act of pageantry, no, this emanated directly from the heart of the King. David loved his Lord and he was not ashamed to show it before the entire world, friends and enemies alike.

How often do God’s people today get caught up with the things of this world at the expense of the things that are sacred to Christ? Morality and politics, position and success, and so many other things that hinder our worship before our Lord and Savior have laden us with weights that tie us to the secular and keep the sacred at bay. David did not choose to keep his position as King, he was much more interested in exalting that which was sacred to him and his Lord. Do we march into the church building encumbered by so many things that our spirits are entangled with worldly issues? Finances, children, employment, and a laundry list of earthly cares tie us to this world and restrict our worship that should be His and His alone. We care about what others may think if we raise our hands to our Master and in that we are in bondage. We would not want anyone to see us weep with worship before God, someone may disapprove. Oh how pitiful we sometimes are when in the light of Who Jesus is and what He has accomplished for us and yet we are still timid and retrospect in our praise and worship for Him.

How can this be, how have we become so scripted and confined in our brokenness before our Wonderful Lord and Savior? The sinful woman marches through a room full of judgmental men that included Pharisees, a spectacle to be sure, and she bows down with an ointment with which she anoints the Lord Jesus. Her devotion to Him was more powerful than the scorn she knew would come from others in his presence. But Jesus was moved by her act of worship and shamed His own disciples. Are we concerned what others may think about us or is our devotion to Him who has delivered us of such magnitude that ridicule and scorn must give way as nothing as we worship?

Do you think that those already in heaven measure their worship and remain within culturally accepted parameters? Do the angels withhold themselves so as not to be seen as fanatical, or do they cover their eyes and feet and say, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty”? And yet professing believers who claim to have been washed forever in the Lamb’s blood enter the place of corporate worship and lightly participate in the orchestration with no depth of worship that captures their spirit outside the worship leader’s guidance. Where is the Lord God of Elijah and where is the spirit of King David?

I speak not of contrived emotionalism but I do speak of reverent and broken worship that is congruent with the Person to whom we offer ourselves. Just as David prepared himself, so must we as believers prepare our hearts to come before our Lord. When a blood washed sinner comes in authentic worship before his Lord, that is well pleasing to our Savior and Lord. Remove the Babylonian garments of this world and put on the garments of praise. Our Lord summons us into His throne room to bow down and worship the King, and in that we will be blessed and changed, and most importantly Christ will be lifted high and exalted in that sacred act.

Monday, December 17, 2007

And so we Slumber...

If you listen closely you may hear it. And if you hear it you may understand it as well. The end draws near with the fanfare of Biblical prophecy and yet without the warnings that should accompany such a colossal climax. The faith to believe what Christ has said has in large part vanished, and the coming wrath of Almighty God is no longer believed. Like a magnificent locomotive, God’s wrath, fueled by the prophetic promise, makes its way through history and will soon visit the sins of this world. Does it seem like a medieval fairytale to your ears? Are those type of truths relegated to former and less educated ecclesiastical communities? Are we past stories like that, stories that should frighten and yet now are mocked?

Just as the world and God’s people together slumbered when Christ came in Bethlehem, so does the world and Christ’s church slumber again even at the advent of His fearful return. The babe comes now as a Lion, vengeance as His mission, and the power of His own Word as His irresistible weapon. The imagery of such an event betrays our reality and we return to our doctrinal slumber, believing our creeds but not the reality about which they stand. But our unbelief hinders nothing in God’s unfolding plan, and we sleep at our own peril. Why should the world care when their Christian neighbor lives as if this world is our final destination?

And so we slumber…
Preachers teach us how to get the most out of this life, but few warn about what is on its way. The uncovered objects of God’s coming wrath sit in pews and listen to little lectures on success, marriage, and an assortment of “how to” messages that mirror Home Depot presentations. Where in God’s dear Name is the prophetic voice still crying in this present wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord”? Why do the services end with a smile and never with a fearful shiver? The immeasurable wrath of God has been promised and the Lord is not slack concerning His promises, what He has said that will He also do. And yet the church has treated God’s promises as tools that enable us to cascade successfully through this life of pleasure and advancement.

And so we slumber…
We dwell in the age of God’s grace and with that knowledge we have spoken lies that unsuspecting sinners have believed. We have told them God loves them and in that true statement the church has misrepresented the Almighty by revealing the most desirable essence and attribute of God without the balance of His mighty justice which must judge all uncovered sin. Oh yes, you say, but my sin is covered by Jesus. Is it? How can you be sure when you desire not the things of God and have no thirst for the nectar of His Word? How can you be sure when you have placed your eternal destiny upon the repeated words of someone else’s prayer of salvation that you were told to mimic? That is your security, a few mumbled words?

And so we slumber…
The events of this present world manifest the truth of God’s foretold warning, and each dawn could be the final day before spiritual calamity. We should be desperate and yet we are satisfied; we should be weeping and yet we laugh; we should be in fear and yet we are confident; we should be praying and yet we are playing; and the days go by unnoticed and unremarkable. Hundreds and even thousands of missionaries live in peril throughout the world as the church in America plans its next enjoyable outing. The unseen war rages in the heavenlies while the church knows no spiritual battle.

And so we slumber…
We sit in small groups and dissect the Word to see how it affects our everyday lives and we refuse to address the ramifications of neglecting so great salvation. This is no small issue and the coming of the Great God in all His glory is no trifle. People sit and imagine how wonderful it will be when Jesus takes His throne in Jerusalem and they fail to realize that event will be cataclysmic for billions of lost sinners. Bursting through the clouds He comes with vengeance in the brightness of His Words and with an entourage of warring angels set for destruction. This is no grocery store novel, this is what will happen only a thousand times more savage than any human mind can understand.

And so we slumber…
So listen again and hear what the Spirit is saying to the church. You desire to hear pleasant things, good things that soothe your soul? Do you not desire the truth? And if the truth is unpleasant and unappealing to the flesh and yet it is the truth, then glory to its Author. There continues to travel in the heavenlies a dreadful appointment, headed by the Lord of all Justice and adjudicated by His Word. This is no Lord of the Rings fantasy, no Star Wars Trilogy, this my brethren is the coming of the King of Glory, Creator and Ruler of the Universe. Sound the alarm and plow your hearts, let the nations tremble at the sound of His chariots for behold He comes in fury. The cup of His wrath is almost full and the angels prepare themselves to serve their Master. All creation will witness a spectacle that eclipses everything seen heretofor, and the Lord Jesus will be magnified in one final, violent triumph. This will not be for man to question, this will be the Lord’s doing and it will be in its own way marvelous in our eyes. There can be only one reason for our apathy about God’s coming retribution, we do not believe what God has said.

And so we slumber…

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Rebuilding the Tower of Babel

And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and tower whose top may reach unto heaven…

There came a time when the human race had drifted so far from the knowledge of God that they conspired to build a tower so tall it would reach to God’s dwelling place. Of course God destroyed their communication and scattered them across the face of the earth. They were attempting to reach God through the strength of man and his intellect, irrational and absurd, but they tried nonetheless.

Surely after so many centuries have passed and with the written canon of revelation completed along with the printing press spreading God’s Word throughout the world, we would know better by now. I mean with everything we now know about the material universe, medical science and the body, and all the wonders of creation, surely we know now how august and sovereign the Creator is and how feeble are our attempts to capture him with anything of our own making. Surely, right?

I would have liked to say that there is a movement underway, but I must more strongly contend that there is a movement already in place, entrenched in most evangelical churches, and spreading systematically throughout almost every corner of the Christian community. It has erected an invisible Tower of Babel that uses the intellect, communication, and the strength of fallen man. Words like “destiny” and “empowerment” and “success” as well as “self-image” and self-confidence” are the building blocks of this new Tower. Faith and confidence has now been placed upon man himself with only a tacit bow to God’s power in our lives. We have become humanists with a religious flavor, pitifully successful.

It isn’t just the heretical “health and wealth” movement which demonstrates that deception can so blind people’s eyes they will embrace anything regardless if it is obviously unbiblical. This humanistic Tower has infiltrated what used to be strong and conservative churches, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, and a list of denominations that would have roundly rejected such teachings three decades ago. The difference between the self help and the religious sections in your average book store is negligible.

The people of God in Judah many years ago had turned from trusting the Lord and were trusting their own cunning and prosperity. God raises up the prophet Jeremiah and he warns them with these words:

Jer 9:23 - 24 - Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.

Their hearts were not after the Lord, they were idolizing their own minds, and in so doing they would soon be carried off into captivity in Babylon. The church by and large has already been carried off and are now gleefully continuing to build upon themselves and not Christ. Lip service is not service but lies, and accommodating Christianity is not Christianity but hedonism. When the shepherds preach about the sheep and not the Great Shepherd you may know God’s Spirit has left. When the sheep have their eyes on themselves and not their Shepherd you can recognize they are lost. And when the sheep are interested in becoming fat not faithful then the Lord must use the rod of correction. When God called the captives back to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple, the overwhelming majority could not and would not hear the Spirit’s call for they were comfortable, happy, and prosperous in Babylon. And they had made friendships with the heathen that now shaped their theology, certainly not God’s Word which would not even surface until God led Ezra to find it again.

Today many look at the world and its practices, and from that they take some Bible verses and show the listeners how to participate in those lifestyles while still maintaining their spirituality. And further it is promulgated that we as God’s people living in Babylon must dive into the culture and make it better which is the methodology used to bring in God’s kingdom. It came as quite a shock to me when I learned that more and more movements no longer believe in the rapture, no longer believe in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ with wrath, no longer believe in the supremacy of verbal preaching and witnessing, and in general no longer believe in the very lynchpins of the faith I had learned just three decades earlier. By the strength of our minds, the strength of our humanitarian efforts, the strength of our unity, and the strength of our hospitable lifestyles such a Kingdom Tower they say will eventually be built around the world.

And although some who discern the unbiblical nature of such movements are unkind and proud, when the leaders of these new movements are challenged you may well find that same venom spewing from the lips of those who claim to be more gentile and tolerant. I have found that the carnal flesh knows no theological boundaries, it is alive and well across doctrinal lines. And just as some orthodox groups have come dangerously close to making certain men idols, so it is with these new movements. Everyone has their favorite and many preachers have gained such notoriety that many followers will believe almost anything they say even if it uproots what they have known for years. Newness and excitement have replaced thoughtful discernment and Berean certainty.

Now this shift has not just happened silently, no, it is being promoted and taught as God’s will. Peter gets out of the boat at Jesus’ beckoning and for a moment he walks on water. But then he begins to sink and not because he takes his eyes off the Master, but they now say he took his eyes off himself and his capabilities that should allow him to do what Jesus does. Could there be any more obvious example of humanism in the church? Everything now revolves around man not God. Religious and secular methods, gimmicks, promises, sex, power, money, music, dancing, movies, lectures, are all now touted as the tools God uses to draw men to Christ because Christ Himself and His precious cross are no longer relevant to our sophisticated society, they are above all that. That plan was hatched in hell and carried out through a strong deception that has carried the church away to where she desired anyway, spiritual Babylon.

God no longer wants moderation for His people they say, He wants us rich and enjoying every inch of our disgusting culture with all the accoutrements. Being like the world is a good thing now and preachers strive to look like Madison Ave. advertisers and their wives like fashion plates, or looking like a teenager and his girlfriend, take your pick. Success is now judged by the eye and not the humility of the heart which is exhibited by the life. It is all proclaimed as well intentioned which means little to God. The good King Uzziah who did right in the sight of the Lord thought he would act out his good intentions before the Lord. So one day he went into the Temple to light up some incense before God as a show of praise, after all, he was the King. God not only did not receive his offering he struck him with leprosy until his death and he was cut off from the Lord’s house. It was in the year that Uzziah died that God gave Isaiah his holy vision. God does not desire good intentions, He desires and demands obedience.

So today we have legions of Uzziah’s who have entered the church and offered up incense of their own making and not that which pleases God. After all, we’re all children of God and believers in Christ, God will see our hearts and smile at our misguided efforts to present Him to the world and worship Him together. And off goes the church following their own intentions, sniffing the modern culture like a wild ass sniffing the air, and discounting the holiness of Almighty God and the honor that His glory deserves. The Bible and all that it teaches is discussed as if it must bow and conform to us and our ever changing cultures and not the reverse. The presence of God is manufactured with lights and music and events and conferences but surely not the result of many months of fasting and prayer.

We argue whether it is right to watch certain television programs yet we know it is right to abide in our prayer closets but we don’t argue about why our time is given to our desires and not His throne. The wrath of God approaches on time, headed for the inhabitants of this earth, and not only are there very little warnings, but the church has changed her theology to accommodate her conscience. Herod words of old ring true today, “What is truth?”. The Tower continues to grow as the walls of God’s Word continue to fall down. The creativity of men, our etymological prowess, our cultural modifications, the contextual adaptations, and our sophisticated understandings of contemporary Bible principles have revolutionized the entirety of Christianity itself.

The tower is well under way, and the bricks are being laid faster each and every day. Inspect the foundation and you will find the cornerstone missing, for this tower is being built on the whims of man and not Christ Jesus the Chief Cornerstone. One day it will fall and take all who have climbed inside it down. We cannot but remain faithful to Christ and His Word, humbly admitting our worthlessness and His supremacy. There is no tower, no bridge, and no way to God but by faith in Jesus the Christ and all other attempts are useless affronts to a Holy and Gracious God. Remove not the ancient landmarks, for in them we will find our eternal hope and everlasting rest.

In Christ alone is our strong tower.
Plucked from the Mindless Race

I Cor. 9:24 - Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.

In the midst of it all, in the midst of life, there must come times of refreshing and contemplation about what and who is happening. How can we be quite satisfied with simply providing a house of flesh doing nothing more than existing as a creative life form? Working, going, thinking, planning, laughing, crying, and a thousand other processes should not be our only portion in this world, we have been called upward into an invisible relationship that transcends all that can be known by this world. Our purpose, inherent by our Creator’s design, speaks to us ever so softly through our sin laden consciousness and stirs in all of us a sense of estrangement from Him who has made us and exists around us.

Our raison d’etre, our reason for being, stalks us with an empty frustration that can only be temporarily muffled by the things of this world but can never find satisfaction until the Creator satisfies it by Himself with Himself. The dolphins, the bears, the fish, the lions, and all of creation has its place and struts and frets its time upon this earth with a resignation to its own specific purpose, but not so is man. We run to and fro drinking from every and any well that offers some outward solace, but they can never quench this relentless mystery that plagues our innermost thoughts and doubts. The entire world suffers and groans with a desire to be set free from this prison that most are unaware of while others deny, but all share alike.

Like runners in a deluge we move with great and cumbersome effort toward a non-existent destination of our own imaginations, some with confidence, but most ambivalent about the post life direction. But still we are haunted by thoughts and questions that have no answers and our hearts can only be assuaged by the knowledge that our fellow runners labor with us in darkness. We run in darkness, we play in darkness, we grow in darkness, and we die in darkness. Darkness becomes our anchor and in it we feel we find refuge and surety. We are its children as well as its victims.

And as we run well within the darkness with only the sound of our sinful footsteps to be heard, our spirits hear a voice that is like nothing we’ve ever heard. This voice calls to us with words and truth that slows our gallop as we listen to see if we desire more. And if our hearts are inclined, we continue to slow and listen inside the empty sinfulness of our spirits. We listen, we listen, and we hear. Like a bit in a horse's mouth we begin to turn toward that voice strengthened by a power that is not of ourselves, and for the first time we feel the possibility of hope. Faintly at first and not as yet distinct. Our flesh still hinders our vision but the drawing truth begins to crystallize until one day, one glorious day, we get our very first glimpse of salvation.

Not only an escape and surely not of this earth, but this salvation takes on a human form, a form most of us have seen with our earthly eyes before but somehow it appears much different. The religion we had relegated to a minor consideration suddenly bursts forth with an amazing light, the center of which is this form. As we run to it we find it chasing us as well, and the closer we come the clearer we see this form, tragic and yet glorious, humble and yet supreme. And then it happens, through the deluge of this world and through the fog of your own sin we see Him, the sin bearer, Jesus, the author of eternal life. We have never seen Him like this before, He now seems like the universal Lord of everything, the answer and destination we have unknowingly been searching for. He is the Savior, yes, the Savior.

In the moment that we embrace Him for who He is we are changed. The earthly migration that continues to run through the deluge of the things of this world suddenly seems different, we have been detached from it all and yet still standing in its midst. What is this feeling of release and newness, and why do we now experience a permeating reality of eternity? The crowd still runs with worthless intensity but you have become a spectator, freed from the bondage of that race that heads nowhere. Oh glorious freedom from sin, a freedom that now empowers us to enter a different race, camouflaged alongside your former race, but noticeably and wonderfully different. Gone is the fog and nebulousness of the destination, gone is the mindless journey that draws comfort from the rest of the runners, now comes a strength that is drawn from the Author and the Finisher of the narrow and yet expansive race we now run. Do not look back, your glory is Him and He is with you and ahead of you.

Have you been plucked from the futility of that empty race? Has your forgiven soul been rescued from the bondage that kept you headed for destruction while promising you freedom? And once being freed, have you fully bowed and embraced the life Giver who has not just freed you from that awful deluge, but has beckoned you into a light that cannot be seen with human eyes and cannot be known by human minds? Is He now your very life and do you run to Him always with the footsteps of worship and service alike? Let your compassion and your witness go out to those former friends still captured by the evil one’s course, but let your heart, your whole heart, every be His.

Heb.12:1-2 - Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Heavens

"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handywork." (Psalms 19:1)

I became an amateur astronomer back in 1974. I went out and purchased a small reflector telescope, the kind that can at least locate Saturn and its rings. I looked at the moon and at Mars, I saw Venus and Jupiter with its four major moons. All this was very exciting to me and as yet I was not a believer but I was convinced all this did not materialize by chance. And then one night there came an intersect. The planets can only be seen at certain times of the year and even then some of the planets are further away if they happen to be on the opposite side of the Sun. So I had to wait to see Saturn, and during that wait the Holy Spirit had started a process of drawing me to Christ.

I had begun to read the Bible and speak with the only other born again believer I knew at the time, my brother Eric. Eric took me to see “Godspell” on broadway and God used that in my life, but as yet I had not been born again. So all these things were revolving around in my mind and heart when at last I arrived upon a night in which Saturn would be able to be seen. Now it was best seen at 3:00 A.M. and I had to stealthily bring my scope outside and in the coldness of March in New Jersey I began to look for it. To the naked eye it appears as a slightly gold star, but soon I had found it in my finders scope. I went to the eye of the scope and peered into the black of the universe while working with both hands the handles which slightly move the scope to search for the object.

And there it was, Saturn. Silently sitting in a backdrop of darkness it paraded itself with the glory of her rings, and although the rings certainly were not as bright and clear as in the pictures taken by much greater telescopes they could be seen nonetheless. And alone in a Clifton, New Jersey front lawn, I peered at Saturn forgetting the chill and filled with amazement and awe. I continued to work the controls so as to offset the rotation of the Earth and keep Saturn in view.

As I looked away from the telescope and looked at the tiny object in the night sky I had a holy moment. I experienced a confirmation in my spirit that was unmistakable and communicated to me that not only was there a Creator, but that He could be known and His name was Jesus.
Several days later, on another cold night, after watching Billy Graham on television I climbed the face of Garret Mountain overlooking that same front lawn and believed on Jesus and have been His unprofitable servant for these last 32 years. The Savior’s love and faithfulness to me has never wavered, even when I have not always been what I should have been. But through the years I have watched as Space Shuttles and orbiters and the Hubble Telescope have become operational and given us an even greater glimpse of the wonder of God’s creation. I have from time to time been overwhelmed at His power and glory in creation and this post is one of those times.

I stand breathless to think there are several hundred billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, and even more breathless to know there are several hundred billion galaxies. Think on that for a moment just to primarily get both a glimpse of the greatness of God and the utter and profound limitations of your own pedestrian intellect. If you stood on the equator with a handgun and faced east, and when you shot that gun the bullet traveled at the speed of light around the earth it would go through your body seven times in the first second. And we all know that when the ray of light leaves the Sun it takes 8 minutes to reach the Earth which is 93 million miles away. Now imagine that light goes past the earth and travels for one year at the same speed. That is a lot of miles, approximately 5 trillion miles. But to reach the closest star from our own it has to travel 4 lights years. That is the closest star. And remember I said there are several hundred billion stars just in our galaxy.

What about other galaxies you ask? The closest galaxy to our own is the Andromeda Galaxy which is 1 and ½ million light years from our own. I could go on but this is just the tip of the iceberg concerning the immenseness of the Lord’s creation. But let my pause here for all the calculations and mind boggling facts about the creation pale in comparison with the One who created everything. Yes, the heavens declare the glory of God and God’s own handiwork paint an awesome and yet incomplete picture of God’s glory.

If the creation boggles and confounds the mind, who is He who made it with just a Word? What kind of power creates something out of nothing, and as vast as the visible universe is so is the vastness of the atomic reality that escapes the eye. This Creator cannot be captured in the confines of human understanding. Oh we can grasp the general concept and usually build upon that foundation with carnal and self serving ideas, but no one can understand the Holy One Himself. And only when that Creator reveals Himself on our level because of the graciousness of His divine will can we see with the eyes of our understanding. We are unable to see and know God apart from God Himself.

Now I want to take us on a little futuristic journey that surpasses anything we can dream about. If the created universe cannot be fathomed by our minds, then the Creator, the Risen Christ, is surely beyond our capacity to imagine. Will we have eyes as we know them in this dimension or will our optic capabilities in heaven be far beyond what we now know? Will we be able to experience someone’s presence by a glorified and eternal set of unimaginable sensory faculties that eclipses mere sight and translates recognition into experience? So as we enter the very throne room of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and we recognize the Lamb of God sitting upon a throne, we will have been given a celestial body that will have the ability to see Him as He is.

In that moment, unspeakable and full of glory, our greatest earthly imagery will be rendered as nothing and we will see, hear, smell, understand, and experience the presence of the Eternal God. All that God was and is and always will be flash all at once. The Creator, the Provider, the Lawgiver, The Healer, the Life Giver, the Burning Bush, El Shadai, the Rock, Abraham’s Promise, Jacob’s Ladder, Bethlehem’s Babe, the Young Temple Teacher, The bread and loaves and the miracles, the beatings and mockings, the lashes and crown, the road to Calvary and the blood on Golgotha, the cross and the unspeakable death, the empty tomb and the Risen Christ, and yes the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, all of these things and thousands more will flood our new awareness and we will under the weight of Who He was and Who is forever fall upon our faces and with brokenness and joy worship at His feet.

You see, at that moment His material creation will seem so unremarkable against the glory and majesty of His Presence. We have sensed His presence in our prayer closets and beside the sick bed of our child, we have experienced His presence among other believers and when we were converted, and we have felt His indwelling in our mortal bodies and even were awed by His creation, but now we are in the very presence of His heavenly dwelling place not just for a visit but forever. Do not doubt it for a moment, and my poor words are just some temporary kindling wood that will one day make room for a reality that will set the universe on fire with His magnificent presence.

Oh yes, the heavens declare the glory of God, but like a town crier announcing the coming of some dignitary, these heavens will roll up as a scroll and the one whose glory they declare will appear. And for reasons that can only be described as mysterious love, all those who have believed in this Creator, Jesus, have been included in His eternal plan. Not just spectators behind protective glass, not just vacationers and not just rotating visitors, and even not just as angels, no, we will see Him as He is because we will be like Him and be granted the divine prerogative to be what we most desire anyway, worshipers.

The heavens declare God’s glory, and one day we will see Him who they declare in all His glory.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Say the Name

Acts 4:12 - Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Phil.2:10-11 - That at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow of things in heaven and things in earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

There is something inherent about the name of Jesus when spoken by a child of God that brings God’s presence into our lives in a special way. I will not pretend to explain it or dissect it in some systematic theology, all I know is that when I in faith speak His matchless name He comes to me in a way that I cannot fully describe. I am not promoting some eastern mysticism, but I am promoting a movement out of our stale and everyday religion and into an intimate spiritual relationship with our wonderful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

So often we get caught up with learning and have neglected our relationship with Jesus. That’s right, do we speak His name in our cars, do we speak His name in our prayers, do we breathe His name in our times of need, and do we say His name in public so that all may hear and we have the honor to share who He is? When you are in a situation in which you cannot find God’s will do you just speak His name or do you mumble some scripted words that give the impression you know what God desires? Can you humble yourself before the Lord in such a way that you weep before Him and just repeat His wonderful name or is that too emotional and subjective for your taste?

There are times when God receives us as faithful students of His Word and our prayers and worship reflects that, but there are those times when God’s heart is melted toward us as we fall before Him stripped of all pretense and pride and we speak His name as if we are speaking it fresh and for the very first time. Those times of intimate worship glorify the Father and draw the fullness of God’s Spirit into our very beings and we are transformed by His power. Any attempt to capture that inside a systematic theology is useless, but Jesus will always manifest Himself well within the teachings of His Word. If you can never come out from your mind and for a while speak strictly from your heart you are missing a spiritual time with Jesus that cannot be expressed through words.

Am I talking of subjectivity? Absolutely, the subjectivity of your relationship with Christ through the Spirit that doesn’t always have to recite the tenets of your systematic theology, but we can come before the Savior and break the alabaster box of our hearts and pour it out before Him. This is not the time for new revelation but this is the time for healing and mending and spiritual intimacy that breaks and strengthens you in a way that cannot be explained. These are times when only brokenness can enter, and like Jehosaphat we say “neither know we what to do but our eyes are on Thee”. These are the times the Apostle Paul said came “through much tears”. You may hear your lips confess sins you have forgotten you committed, and you may feel the salve of God’s blood bind up your wounds and say “Your sins are forgiven, go and sin no more”. There is little that can compare with a genuine time of cleansing before our Lord and Master.

So speak the name of Jesus more and more, and refuse to pray with your mouth when your heart is somewhere else. Speak His name over and over until the Spirit uses the power in His name to break up your fallow ground. Do not rush in to God with a laundry list of things you want Him to do, no, take the time to experience His presence and let your lips and heart lift up the praise due His matchless name. Speak His name and then speak it again while you bow before Him. This is no algebra class, this is the mystery of a sinner saved by grace beckoned into the throne room of the Risen Christ, so let us never treat it like the drive through window of a fast food restaurant.

Almost two weeks ago my health again began to deteriorate and we made the decision that the ambulance must be called. As I lay in my bed burning with fever and detesting the return to my second home the hospital, my son came and bent down next to me. I had shared with him just yesterday how the Spirit had encouraged my just to say the name of Jesus, and in tears we repeated that wonderful name, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. I received spiritual strength just from that time of saying the Master’s Name, Jesus. So sometimes, refrain your lips from contrived sentences, and more with your heart than your lips say…Jesus.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, You alone are worthy of everything…Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…

Friday, November 30, 2007

Cause Captured Christianity

We are Christians, believers and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. We by God’s grace have been given light that can now see the Risen Christ, our sin, and what He has accomplished in our stead. Upon our conversion we start a journey to surrender all of our lives to Christ, and our mandate is to preach the gospel to every creature. Why every creature? Because God’s heart of redemption beats for all sinners everywhere. The Father hasn’t chosen a bunch from America, very few from Iran, a bunch from England, very few from India, and so on. God’s spilled blood of forgiveness is for everyone and His desire is for His gospel to be carried to every sinner. That is our commission, our mandate, and it should be the heartbeat of the spiritual body of Christ as it was in the incarnate body of Christ.

But so often we get caught up with other causes, other issues, many times causes that we would never have championed aside from the illuminating grace of God. One of these causes that we so often find spiritual solace in is abortion. Abortion is the murder of the unborn and it is a sin against God. Every Christian should abhor the practice and many women have come to Christ and experienced the forgiveness that only God can give after having had an abortion. Praise God for His mercy and grace!

But abortion is not our message or even our calling, preaching the gospel is. The only reason I am against abortion is that I became a Christian and the Holy Spirit graciously led me into that truth. Now when we have that perspective we must always remember two obvious realities, one about ourselves and one about others. First let us never forget or act as if we gained this knowledge on our own and that we somehow should behave or speak in a prideful or self righteous way about our position concerning abortion which actually is God’s position. There is such a thing as being fervent in conviction but humble in tone and communication. We have been given an amazing gift after God saved our souls, we were inhabited by the Spirit of Truth who systematically began a process of illumination that continues to this very day.

When I was first saved I still believed in evolution so I became a “theistic” evolutionist which means that God used evolution as part of His plan. It was about a year later that I saw that evolution was incompatible with any literal reading of the Scriptures so I repented and was changed. But without the Spirit I still would have clung to that view. Should I now be proud about my view and look down upon others who haven’t seen what God has shown me? Jesus Himself told us that his disciples shouldn’t feel proud about their Jewishness and that God could make stones praise Him. God hates pride and the pride that sometimes emanates from His own children is particularly repulsive considering they were born and kept by God’s grace and not of themselves. So if you are pro-life, be clothed in humility about it. Some of my personal heroes are the women that work in Crisis Pregnancy Centers all around the country. Not only do they reach out to girls and women in crisis, they present and live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Only eternity will reveal how many women and sometimes their families will spend eternity with Christ because of the humble and sacrificial witness of a Crisis Pregnancy worker.

The second reality is that only the gospel can change a person, and if we desire to save the unborn it must be done through the regenerating power of the Spirit of God. I find it abjectly repugnant and even unchristian to criticize the unsaved for their blindness in this area. Even the lady who was “Roe” in Roe v. Wade has changed her stance because she came to Christ. Like hollering at a blind man to watch where he walks, we as believers take a page from Fred Phelps when we castigate the spiritually blind for not understanding spiritual or even moral issues. How easy it is to pick apart the lost, how hard is it to shed tears for those same people. It is so easy to use demeaning words that call people murderers and the like, but when do we pray and fast for those who are caught in the deception?

And why do we use the Constitution to ”prove” abortion is wrong as if the Constitution is inspired? When will we realize that we as the body of Christ operate within another kingdom, infinitely higher than this democracy that we have attempted to portray as “Christian”, and with a written revelation not written by men but by God? Our calling is to live and preach Christ and all these causes will follow. Our life is Him, our passion is Him, and our message is Him. Grieve for the lost with all their misguided views and beliefs and remember God loves them and people like me used to be them. If Christ made Himself of no reputation and came down in the likeness of sinful flesh should we not humble ourselves and with words of weeping not caustic pride let our lights shine before them so perhaps they will repent and believe?

Our cause is Christ. Let the world dabble in politics, our cause is Christ. Let the world battle over morality, our cause is Christ. Let the world picket, protest, and boycott, our cause is Christ. Our cause will be Christ and Christ alone forever.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Abiding in Christ

Jn.15:4 - Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
Jn.15:6-7 - If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

The word abiding carries with it much more than staying on the Lord’s side, much more than being doctrinally pristine, and much, much more than being so convinced of your own interpretive worthiness that the majority of your time is taken with chasing ravens and not chasing Christ. This world is no friend to our Savior and it offers no genuine help to anyone who seeks to abide in Him, so if we actually desire to abide in Jesus we must bow down because the door is low and the entrance narrow and the applause is silent. And it is no even trade to sacrifice the glory of His presence on the altar of pursuing others and their errors.

Abiding is living and breathing in Christ, not just doctrinally and positionally, but a tangible and experiential life that operates mysteriously within the very Person of the Living Christ. Learning about it will not suffice and hearing about it will not bring its reality, it must be entered into with a sacrificial hunger that refuses to be assuaged by any obstacles and it begins with a complete surrender to the Spirit in our thoughts, which is a difficult challenge to any of us.

We are so given to our perspective driven thought life that slips the reigns of the Spirit’s control and usually results in measured carnality. It is the unseen and protected playground of our unrighteous mental behavior that we have let so fester that we no longer even realize how offensive it is to the Spirit of Holiness who dwells and abides within us. Oh we don’t usually think of heinous acts of violence or immorality, but we can casually judge and demean others sometimes with a simple glance which immediately provides enough kindling wood for a very comfortable fire with which to warm our fleshly and self righteous minds. And if our minds are not crucified and turned over to God’s Spirit we will never fully abide in Christ and partake of Eschol’s fruit.

It is not enough just to crucify our minds, we must enter into an abiding with Christ facilitated by the Spirit of God. In Matthew 12 Jesus gives a teaching about a man who drives an unclean spirit from his mind and although he has swept his mind clean he hasn’t filled his mind with anything else. The Lord says that not only does the unclean spirit return, he returns with other more wicked spirits. Our abiding in Jesus is more than a mental housecleaning, much more. It must require a meditation and embracing of the Savior in all His fullness, and our abiding comes with the full knowledge of His Lordship over our entire lives and a manifestation of that knowledge.

Please do not get the impression that we can think about Jesus during the day and in that is abiding in Christ, no, this will go much deeper than simply thinking, this abiding must bear fruit. Jesus Himself says in a very serious and warning manner that any branch that does not bear fruit is first pruned in order to help the fruit bearing process. This is no benign metaphor by which our Lord is saying He will gently remove some things that have hindered the growth of fruit. This is a painful and sometimes savage pruning that removes the things that like vines have surrounded our hearts and become the objects of our fleshly love. Have you every attempted to remove vines that have infested shrubbery? It is a painstaking and tedious process that requires some cutting and ripping and when you think you’ve removed all of them you suddenly see more that had eluded your eyes.

And such is the pruning process of God’s Spirit, necessary but painful. And as in shrubbery these vines are feeding off our hearts and sapping the spiritual strength that rightly belongs devoted to the True Vine. It will take time and there will be things that have remained hidden and have entrenched themselves as parasitic strongholds in our hearts and minds. And when you prune a bush that has been taken over by vines you will begin to see empty places that were camouflaged by vines but now make the bush much less full. And while we submit ourselves to God’s pruning we must be careful to replace these hollow places with the meat of God’s Word and the Person of Christ. There is no easy way but the end is glorious in its honor to our Lord and Savior. Embrace the pain and offer it as a living sacrifice of repentance.

As serious as the pruning process is, if there is no fruit the Savior issues an uncompromising warning. He says in Matt.12:6 that if there by no fruit that branch will be cast into the fire. While others may attempt to dismantle the eternal implications of the Lord’s teaching it would do us well to consider all the possibilities of His Words, even the most distasteful and unnerving.

But let us return to those who desire to abide, not just avoid getting thrown in the fire. What does it mean to abide in Christ since not only are we commanded to do that very thing, Jesus said without Him we can do nothing. The key which unlocks the door to abiding in Christ is found in Matt.12:3 and Matt.12:7 respectively. Remember the man who had chased the evil spirits away from inside him? Well the Lord says that the way in which we get clean is through His Word. What power there is in God’s Word when it is received by faith, it has the power to clean the evil and depraved heart of a sinner. Just because we live in a day in which Bibles are sold in grocery stores, do not let the fact that the Bible is sold as merchandise mold our thinking into believing the Bible to be just a beneficial book surrounded by other self help books on the shelf. The Words of those scrolls, now presented in Gutenberg’s form, are spirit with the Creator and Redeemer’s power inherent in their essence.

These Words can cleanse the vilest heart and wash away the most grievous collection of transgressions from any sinner born of a woman. And the miracle of conversion is that it is the processional of God’s miracle working power but it is far from the recessional, it is the first step of a journey that will be filled with the manifestations of God’s power both visible and unseen. And these Word’s will clean away the dross and weights and sins from a believing follower of the Lord Jesus, and this is the prerequisite to abiding in Jesus, the True Vine. The Word of God is the cleansing agent that alone has the power to cleanse.

And as awesome a miracle as that is, remove now your sandals and listen to the Savior as He lifts the veil and gives us gracious directions about abiding in Him. In verse 7 Jesus says that if we abide in Him and His Words abide in us we have power with Him in prayer. What did the Apostle who Jesus loved tell us that Jesus’ pre-creation name was? The Word, which was with God and which was God. There is not just a connection between God and His Word, God is His Word. Oh the mystery of the written Word of God that has been given to us! Somehow by the miraculous working of the Spirit God takes the written Word and infuses it into our spirits and in that process He manifests Himself to us. Beginning with saving faith when the believer experiences a personal Bethlehem as Jesus is birthed inside his spirit via the Spirit, from that moment the Word must now be his life. Continuing the metaphor of the Savior’s earthly life the new born Christian grows in grace and the knowledge of Christ by the power of His eternal Word which is in actuality Jesus Himself. Growing and growing this believer continues to mature until, if he is passionate and unrelenting in his pursuit, he arrives at Calvary, as did the Son of God.

Perhaps you were mislead as you reach the cross, maybe you envisioned a different kind of abiding in Him. You wanted to go to the empty tomb first and experience His resurrection without having to visit Golgotha first. Oh no, there is no resurrection without the cross. And what is the cross to us today? It is being so changed by the power of the Word of God that we can say with Paul, “I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live, but not I, Christ lives in me,” and with that reality comes the revelation that our lives are His and His life is ours.

Somehow over the years the church has lost the cross. Oh we still mention it and wear it as jewelry, but we no longer stress the sacrificial experience by faith that provides the avenue of death for ourselves and our fleshly appetites and desires. Embracing the cross is now limited to conversion and then is tossed off as one of the childish things. Nothing could be further from the truth, the cross must still be a place of cleansing and self denial for the believer, and without denying ourselves we cannot abide in Him. Much of what passes for abiding today is a counterfeit, and like being weaned onto low fat ice cream until real ice cream is too rich for our palates we have grown accustomed to a kind of low fat abiding in Christ.

We are used to having our spiritual commitment being a convenient part of our busy lives and it is usually the first part that is sacrificed when the time grows short. If a man reads a devotional book for fifteen minutes a day he is considered a devoted follower. Yes, he may be when compared with the measuring stick of today’s experience but he surely falls short of what the Scriptures declare as being a disciple of the Savior and indeed when compared with some of the saints of days gone by. When we stop for a moment, letting the cares of this world go, and we consider Who Jesus is and how He has drawn us into His life, should not seek to surrender to His life?

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.

The cross used to expose us to the wretches we are, but now it is misrepresented as a stepping stone for our earthly success. Abiding in some hedonistic definition of Christianity is not abiding in Christ, and in truth, abiding in Christ is rare today and its exhibition seldom recognized. Without the cross there can be no true abiding in Christ and the cares of this world, the shallowness of faith, and the lack of spiritual teaching hinder many from abiding in the Lord Jesus in whom are all the treasures of heaven and earth. Few desire more than the salvation of the cross, but when confronted with embracing the disciple’s journey of sacrificial faith inherent in the cross most turn aside. Jesus on the coss is believed, but our place upon our own cross is seen as fanaticism and surely not for today’s culture.

Oh come all of us who have believed on His name, embraced His sacrifice, and committed to follow Him for the rest of eternity, let us dig deeper in Him and shedding the works of our own hands let us abide in Him and Him alone. Forever.