Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Enemy Within

Search the blogs and bookstores, google the names of preachers today, and you will find conversations and dissertations on many Biblical subjects. The authority of Scripture, the deity of Christ, the resurrection, the victorious life, and many other doctrinal issues are prevalent in the Christian media. You will find volumes today on practical “how to” subjects like how to be positive, how to be successful, how to get wealth, and a library of man centered articles and books. You will find resources in systematic theology and great preachers of the past and church history and denominational perspectives. At your disposal are references that teach on how to avoid evil, and why certain movements are veering away from Scripture, and why certain men are false teachers.

But you and I will be hard pressed to find a discussion about the enemy lurking within each and every believer. Our enemies are often identified as the devil, or Rick Warren, or Brian MacLaren, or some other popular movement that can be seen. But the church is in desperate need of an uncomfortable and vulnerable discussion about a very real and influential enemy, the enemy that lives and speaks and motivates us from within. The enemy is us. We have been so guilty of not only ignoring this fallen enemy, but so often we have incorporated him into our Christian walks and crowned him as boldness or discernment or spiritual courage. This enemy has seduced us through vain words and hidden agendas and impure motives, and blinded us into moving forward without a chronic pattern of self examination.

The self examination we need is many times not about any subject or issue, but it is about who we are and with what spirit we are being controlled. Do not assume that crucifying the flesh within is an easy and painless process, just recognizing the need for such inventory is a deep and excruciating spiritual truth, much less surrendering to the Spirit’s unabridged death ministry to our flesh. And there are protected doors within our flesh that will subtly offer other compartments of sin in deceptive gambits designed to protect our most treasured elements of practiced self. Simply put, without a time of complete self examination we will continue to live with the accumulation of self deceived issues. And this pattern can live and breath within the life of even the most Biblically astute believers among us. In fact, Biblical knowledge is sometimes used creatively by our flesh to keep us from recognizing our own flesh that dishonors Christ while drawing near to Him with our lips.

The weapon that will defeat our flesh is humility, and Christ-like humility can only come through the fellowship of His sufferings which is…the cross. Paul tells us the example of our Glorious Savior, the Creator of everything, provided the light of His own incarnate life as our example.

Phil.2:7-8 - But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Those words, when read and understood in the context of who He was, must cut our hearts before us. Our God, our Christ, came as one of us. That in and of itself is beyond us, but when the Spirit lifts the veil and gives a sacred glimpse into the Incarnate God man, and reveals the depth of His humility that allowed, yea embraced, death…even death by crucifixion, we are undone. It must be understood fully that this truth cannot be understood fully even while being an exhortation for us to follow. Crucifixion was humiliating for the worst of sinners, but for the sinless Lamb of God the humiliation is infinite. And yet we are directed to emulate the essence of that humility and thereby deny the flesh the spoils of sin it so desperately desires. Let us examine even the fringes of such an undertaking.

If we are not willing to endure pain and rejection and humiliation in our own lives, then this journey is not for us. If we are going to pick and choose our path so as to avoid the deepest roots of our fleshly entrenchments, then we can retire to the comfort of what we call our Christian lives as we now experience them. But if we can admit to ourselves in distressful honesty that we are in need of the cross inside our very hearts, then we must prepare ourselves for the crushing weight of the Spirit’s convicting light and His loving but uncomfortably powerful ministry of correction and crucifixion through genuine, open, and unfettered repentance. And this repentance must touch the little foxes that hide within the camouflaged recesses of our religiously wicked hearts. And if there are no surprises, no sufferings, no battles, no embarrassments, and no attempts as justifying or minimizing, then we have only touched the surface.

Have we even asked the question as to how we can show strength like our Master while forgiving the very ones who are crucifying us? Is there a divine power that speaks through humility in the utmost of authority and does not need the verbiage that comes from our flesh? Can grace and correction ride within the same words? Can boldness and humility coalesce? And can the Spirit of Christ be revealed through a conduit who has an ongoing penchant for duplicity? And in the face of these and other questions, does it appear that while we are concerned with watered down theology we are content with watered down humility that in actuality gives place to the enemy of God, our flesh? The lack of concern over how the Lord would have us speak and behave in these days of accessible communication is astounding.

We need a revival of seeking God as to how to behave in the Spirit of Christ. Just saying “I am nothing” is not any show of obedience, a computer can mimic those words that all of us know are required to be said. This is where the Apostle James’ perspective is necessary to glorify our Master. Words without deeds are useless, and saying we are followers of Christ without at least a sacrificial effort to become like Him is just as useless. Speaking the gospel without living it has led us to the general stalemate we now find ourselves in these last days. And being doctrinally orthodox does not reveal the life of Jesus Christ within a professing believer, and in fact it seems that being a “self aware” orthodox believer continues to lead many into fleshly hubris instead of humble grace.

We do not need a new definition of the gospel, we need a new demonstration of it. Many of us have strong convictions about someone like Mother Theresa not sharing Christ with dying Hindus and Buddhists, however are we not brought to shame and conviction from her humility? The consuming arguing that pretends itself to be defending the faith is not only unproductive, it can be counterproductive. This kind of interaction comes from the enemy that dwells within us and yet has camouflaged itself as a spiritual warrior. It basks in its own measurement of Christ and His followers, it assumes an exaggerated view of its own knowledge of truth, and it engages others from a tangible aroma of self righteousness that constructs a deluded and imaginary battle for the truth in which unchristian behavior can be justified. In essence this enemy convinces us of the rightness of the cause and then proceeds to blind us to our own state of spiritual need by keeping us distracted by an inflated view of our own value as a divine spokesman.

But the enemy within all of us, the fallen brother of Adam, has so often been allowed to act out even within the body of Christ. We seem to rely on him to facilitate spiritual victory while using the other side of our mouths to tout God’s power and sovereignty. And part of this so called victory includes diminishing and laying waste to those saints and sinners with whom we take issue. This enemy is not content to gently and graciously present our point of view, he must take no prisoners and keep record of the scalps. He minimizes and justifies his own shortcomings while illuminating and magnifying those of his targets. He sees no truth in the attacks that come to him, and many times will leverage those people from whom the attacks emanate to cease and desist. But he presents his attacks as both warranted and motivated by God Himself and must not be silenced.

It is past time for all of us to expose this enemy that dwells within as the scoundrel he is, and unmask his false claims of spirituality. Truth is interconnected and must be taught and presented and even confronted within the context of other truths that are just as valid. Truth is not a weapon to destroy but in the gospel context it is a vehicle of redemption which should never be served on a cold plate of self righteousness. In fact, truth should be shared upon the wings of humility that should define an unworthy recipient of God’s grace. And sometimes the revelation of God’s truth is most exposed and glorified in what appears to be defeat, and boldness in some circumstances works against the gospel and its message. All of us seek to be John the Baptist, but not many seek to be the Lamb silent before His shearers.

Standing on the platform of complete grace we should, as Paul suggested, count everyone else as more important than ourselves. We have severely overestimated our own worth and divine calling, and we have limited and redefined the admonition of “defending the faith” by giving that assignment to this vile enemy within us all.

Perhaps there is no more effective way to defend the faith once given to the saints than to allow the Risen Christ to live our lives for us.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

An Unpublicized Perspective

Ken Silva and I are friends. We have had, as do friends, disagreements ranging from moderate to serious, but we remain friends. I want to share publicly what most do not know. It has been suggested that Ken is not even a brother in Christ, however in my personal interaction with him he has shown some fruit that even many who do not appreciate him have not shown. Both Ken and Mrs. Schlueter have criticized me and been criticized by me, but neither I nor they have ever attempted to attack the right to blog. And here is a small history of me on their blogs.

These are the links to articles by Ken and Mrs. Schlueter that have criticzed me.

Here is a link to an open letter by me to Ken Silva:

Here is the question I would ask. If I had posted such a letter about you, would you still be my friend? Ken still remains a friend and did not attempt to take down my blog because of my post. Is this not the behavior of a Christian? With anything I disagree with Ken about, he has acted as a brother in Christ even when I have confronted him publicly and in private. I always tell him I will still speak my conscience and he understands. In that I salute him for showing forgiveness.
Not many would continue to communicate with me given those circumstances, even the non-ODMs.

That is the rest of the story.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Lesson to be Learned
As of yesterday, 7/26/08, it seems that Ken Silva's blog named Apprising Ministries has been taken down by the server due to Mr. Richard Abane's complaint about one particular article. I print one ofv several comments I left at a blog named crninfo which was created to confront inconsistencies and falsehoods they see in Ken and other's writings.
"I have spoken out about some of Ken’s tone and verbiage, however that is not the question at hand. Mr. Abanes was and is completely wrong and refuses to accept responsibility. The overall question is also can any ISP be petitioned to remove offensive material by anyone other than an “award winning” author? How about the post here abot Bentley, can he claim libel and demand it be removed?
This needs to be a lesson learned by all of us. Every writer here, past and present, has gossiped and slandered and libeled in private and sometimes in some public comment, and yet where does God the Holy Spirit get to minister? If we submit to the secular words police about one thing then we are submitting to them in general.
Will a message about the exclusivity of Christ, or the sinfulness of homosexuality, or the wrongness of Islam, or the sin of divorce, and a thousand other things be considered offensive enough to some so that the server demands their removal? This particular issue is not about Ken, this is about the church and how we deal with issues.
Mr. Abanes should have withdrawn his request, but he remained not only defiant, but ridiculously suggested he never actually sues Ken as if that exonerated him from guilt. What if someone who isn’t wn award winning author with a ton of books and with Rick Warren’s influence contacted the ISP, would they have succombed to their pressure.
Of course Ken could have taken the article down and rewritten it or petitioned the server or whatever, but the fact remains, the action By Richard was unbiblical and despicable. To any “objective simpleton” Mr. Abanes is obsessed with defending Rick Warren from even the slightest criticism, and his comments sometimes seem to reflect that obsession.
No one can legitimately accuse me of being partial to Ken, but he deserves to be treated fairly regardless of how unfairly we might believe he treats others. Our squabbles within the church must NEVER be exposed to the world on purpose, and when it comes to words and opinions we should handle it as brothers. If this is how we as followers of Jesus Christ are to deal with language we do not care for, than take down this site and begin petitioning all the individual servers on the sites we do not care for. W e can use the same carnal leverage that Hugh Hefner, ACLU, and all the rest of the teeeming mass uses and we’ll blend nicely from under our bushel.
This entire thing is wrong and I predict Mr. Abanes will continue to use eloquence and his elongated literary style of question and answer to provide a well crafted defense of his actions. But this situation is where Ken’s ctritics within the body will be tested as to their objective Biblical position or if their disgust with Ken’s writings will trump dispassioned Biblical interpretation."
This, my friends is wrong. Regardless how I or anyone else feels about Ken's views and words, he should not be silenced by other brothers, especially in the secular marketplace. If that pattern continues, you and I will be next.

I Cor.6:1-2 - Dare any of you having a matter against another go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?

I grew up with two twin brothers two years younger than was I. We of course had our share of fights, but at a young age my mother gathered us boys at the kitchen table and told us that we should always stick up for each other outside the house. She taught us that just because we sometimes fought inside the house, we must always be brothers in the neighborhood.

Regardless of how deep our disagreements got sometimes, could you ever imagine brothers calling the police to settle our arguments? With the accessibility of communication these days, there will be a rise in disagreements and even confrontations. Our reputations and integrity will be questioned and even slandered, but we must never bring the world into our disagreements and even fights. Call Christian leaders to settle disputes, and if need be, suffer yourselves to be defrauded.

The opportunities for forgiveness in these days will continue to be many. Let us pray that God will give us the grace to exalt Him in these circumstances by stripping us of all selfish motives and not return evil for evil. Regardless of how strong and confrontational our differences may be, they must remain among us and the world has no part in God’s family. The recent issue between Richard Abanes and Ken Silva, both of whom are committed Christians, is a prime example. I have read the article in question and I saw nothing personal of the kind Richard suggested. But even if there were personal attacks, we must never seek justice from the fallen world. All of us have used verbiage that is unfortunate and incendiary in nature, but Richard was wrong in contacting the server that hosts Ken’s blog. I believe that crosses the Biblical line.

I pray this will be resolved without anymore rancor, but let this be an example in the future for all of us. All of our conversations and disagreements must be in house and the nose of the world’s camel must never be invited under God’s tent. Strong language, correction, confrontation, and even some things about which we later repent must never give place to malice that looks to world for justice. In fact, it would be better to fistfight than invite the world to stumble over Christ because of our actions.

We are brothers who stand by grace alone. I said grace alone.
If the Amish can forgive someone murdering ten of their precious little girls, surely we can forgive someone who says things about us.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A False Gospel

II Cor.11:3-4 - But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguilded Eve through his subtility, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For he that comes preaching another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit, which you have not received, or another gospel, which you have not been taught, why do you accept these things?

Throughout church history there have been many heresies that have found their way into church teachings. There have been doctrinal disputes over the deity of Christ, the inspiration of Scripture, the deity of the Holy Spirit, the existence of hell, the path to salvation, and a host of other false teachings concerning essential elements to the true gospel and also side issues. Some have taken root and produced cults while others have received very minimal popularity, but regardless we should always be testing the spirits to see whether or not they are of God. Our spirit should not be haughty and high browed, but strong and humble as well.

There are any number of false teachings today, some suggest they hold to foundational doctrines of faith while practicing compromise while others openly dismantle important teachings either openly or by constructing verbally nuanced mazes that can hardly be understood as orthodox. The atmosphere in evangelicalism is a mess, including the lethargic and hedonistic lifestyles of the average western believer, even those who haven’t succumbed to any false teachings but their lives are a false teaching in themselves.

But no other movement in the last 50 years has spread so fast and deceived so many in the west as the health and wealth movement which is sometimes referred to as the gospel of prosperity. Since the Day of Pentecost this teaching has never even been suggested much less tied to the gospel itself. A handful of men fifty years ago began suggesting that God’s covenant to Abraham extended to the individual believer today in a material way, and that in fact God desired everyone to become wealthy. Curiously enough the spread of this evil corresponded with a general prosperity in the west within which the falsehood could hide. And today multiple millions have embraced this unbiblical and preposterous teaching.

It is easy to see objectively what is at the core of this heresy, it is the love of money itself. And that kind of lust is most easily foisted upon those who struggle financially and even the most poor among us. When some false teacher tells a poor person that God actually wants to make them rich he has their attention through their lust. In this kind of falsehood the New Testament Scriptures are irrelevant since a complete reading of the that same New Testament reveals no such thing at all. In fact, most of the teachings about money in the Scriptures are a warning of their dangers not their pleasures. And in fact the Word clearly warns about these wolves who are fleecing the sheep.

II Pet.2:2-3 - And many shall follow their pernicious ways by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingered not, and their damnation slumbered not.

Yes, many millions will follow these false teachers. The New American Standard says,

(verse 2 ) Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned;

Could it be more clear? They preach a message of sensuality not of the Spirit. And the truth is maligned and compromised, and in fact the verse says the “way” of truth shall be maligned or defamed. And who is the way and the truth? It is Jesus Christ Himself. So these false teachers are preaching another Jesus and have changed and defamed Christ and His gospel altogether. They even use the profane term “gospel of prosperity” which is blasphemy. The Word gives ample warning against such heretics:

II Pet.2:14-22 - having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet.
These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error,
promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.
For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.
It has happened to them according to the true proverb, "A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT," and, "A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire."

These men have made vomit attractive and in so doing convinced millions to seek to be greedy and in God’s Name nonetheless. They have taken the pure gospel of the cross and resurrection and turned it a conduit through which to get money. Can there be any deeper blasphemy than that? Taking the blessed and bleeding Lamb of God and using His cross for financial gain is a damnable heresy. Anyone who sits and reads the New Testament through in a week will recognize the absurdity, to say nothing of the blasphemy, of such teachings. Of course there are three basic reasons people can be deceived to such a degree.

The first is a shallow knowledge of the Scriptures. The Bereans searched the Scriptures to see if these things were true, but today the average believer does very little reading, much less searching, of the Scriptures himself. I challenge you, even if you are already convinced that the prosperity teaching is heresy, to read the New Testament from Romans through Jude in one week. It will require sacrificing some of our accustomed lifestyle of entertainment and leisure, but you will be astounded at what you see anew and afresh when seen in its entirety and understood as a whole. That is the same challenge I issue to Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons who knock on my door.

The second reason is the idolatry of men. Today’s media can through techniques enhance the stature, appearance, and authority of preachers. Skillful editing, camera angles, and communicative techniques have been able to deceive millions simply upon the weight of visual and audio manipulation. Just attaching a new and glossy book cover can increase dormant book sales. And since many people draw their spiritual food through television it has become an art form through which deception reaches right into homes and captures the gullible. Many preachers are held up and followed as idols, and I personally heard Benny Hinn say “There comes a time when your spiritual stature is such that many will believe whatever you say”. How right he was.

The third reason is that the culture has cultivated unbiblical lusts within the church. If a believer has a lust for money he must either repent or suggest his lust is from God. And so the American mindset that seeks money and success and advancement, has now been turned into a theology by slick manipulation of separated Scriptures and a distorted teaching that uses Abraham as the golden goose. Fulfilling people’s lusts is much less painful than repentance and so millions flock to hear these spurious promises that are erroneously couched as the voice of God.

The truth is that if I can convince you by my words, others can convince you of the opposite by their words. You should, you must, search the Scriptures. I again challenge everyone to read Romans through Jude in a week or two, and with a special ear towards this particular subject. The Holy Spirit will give you an open insight to this unassailable fact - the prosperity gospel is a deep and blasphemous teaching that goes against every clear teaching in the New Testament Scriptures. Avoid even those who sympathize with these heretics.

I will be posting more frequently on this subject since it has become apparent many do not realize the extent and influence of this deception.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Thank You Tom and Ingrid Schlueter

I have had some disagreements with Mrs. Ingrid Schlueter who oversees a blog named Slice of Laodicea. But any disagreements I have pale in comparison to many things about which I agree. I applaud Tom and Ingrid Schlueter as they went to a prosperity conference that I had first discovered on a television commercial. Since Brother Ray Comfort, a faithful preacher of the gospel, had been invited and scheduled to speak at this conference and I had wondered if some of the watchman blogs would criticize this conference since Ray Comfort was speaking. To her credit and others, they did not show any partiality.

Tom and Ingrid Schlueter “endured” one of the services where a bona fide heretic, John Avanzini, spoke. I am recommending you go to THIS POST and read what she has written and listen to the links she has provided. Mrs. Schlueter has provided a revelation of breathtaking heresy, and in many ways this prosperity movement may be more influential than any other “evangelical” movement. And because many people get their Christianity from the media, these men have used television and radio and literature to lure millions into grevious error. We cannot, we must not, fellowship with these heretics and if I have understood correctly Ray Comfort has decided not to do so in the future. That is a good thing, so thank you Ingrid Schlueter, this post is one of your finest exposés and will be used as a warning to many.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Spirit of Redemption

Heb.9:12 - Neither by the blood of goats and calves but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place having obtained eternal redemption for us.

Everything God does today is redemptive. Love redeems, and God is love. It is God’s nature to redeem and it seems He does not relish judgment. Many times the Lord informs us that He is patient and longsuffering, not willing that any should perish. He is slow to anger and plenty in mercy. The story of the blind men and the elephant illustrates something profound.

In the story, six blind men approached the elephant and each one of them only grasped part of the elephant. They argued with each other about what the elephant really looked like. They claim the elephant is like a wall (side), like spear (tusk), like a snake (trunk), like a tree (leg), like a fan (ear), or like a rope (tail). Obviously they could not reach an agreement.

And of course the Lord has many aspects of His character that all form His perfect being. Many present one of His attributes out of focus and at the expense of all the rest. Some will say God is a vengeful God, others say God is just love, and others choose another aspect of God’s character to magnify. But the one compelling thread that cannot be ignored is that God is redemptive, in motivation and in nature. If those six blind men where describing the Lord, even though they each had different perspectives, they would have all found commonality in this one observation. Every distinct part of their singular vantage point was permeated with redemption regardless how different it was from the other different vantage points.

That is God, that is the Spirit, and that of course is Jesus. Redemption is God’s nature and His eternal motivation. When God came to this world He did not come to condemn, He came to redeem. Jesus was redemption incarnate, and in that the Father was well pleased. And when the Spirit was given, He came to speak of Christ and draw sinners to redemption. The coming judgment that God has warned about is not God’s first choice for any sinner, He desires redemption. Not a robotic redemption that comes from His will and not from the heart of His children, no, God desires to see His human creation turn to Him and be redeemed, and everything He does is to that end.

If that is God’s heart, so should it be ours. We should cultivate a soft heart of redemption for our brethren in Christ and the lost sinners in this world. The offer of God’s complete redemption through Christ is good news and it must be told throughout the world, for in reality, it is only good news when it is heard. We cannot afford to waste valuable time judging others and spending our time as a disciple exposing and investigating others and their sins and shortcomings, we must be about the Father’s business which continues to be redemption. Everything we do should be redemptive. Even our correction should have a redemptive essence within it and not just an air of self righteous condemnation. It is a challenge to redemptively correct each other.

But let us face the agonizing reality that people by the millions and even billions are living a dour and hopeless existence without even the hope of earthly fulfillment much less the hope of eternal life. They meander through their lives, blind to hope and separated from redemption that was provided for them. And we, as the representatives of the Redeemer, are commissioned to be ambassadors of redemption rather than judgment. We should view sinners as the lost sheep that Christ is seeking to redeem, not as objects of wrath to which God is aggressively seeking to destroy.

A 16 year old single mother gives birth to a baby boy. She is a drug user and the child is born underweight and undernourished. He isn’t given a name until weeks after his birth, and as he grows he is neglected and often has to fill his empty stomach himself, sometimes in the streets. This little boy will never know who his father is, and in fact neither will his mother. His mother once traded her boy for one pitcher of beer. His mother uses drugs chronically and lives a life of crime. Bad checks, prostitution, theft, drugs, and other crimes catch up with her and she goes to prison for robbing a gas station. Since no one wants him, the child is placed in a boy’s home usually reserved for delinquents.

Throughout his life this boy is abused physically and emotionally tortured. His mother never shows him any love or even care, and neither does anyone else. His diminutive size makes him a constant target of bullies and in the end he turns to crime himself and becomes emotionally damaged to the point of psychosis. He winds up in prison for half of his adult life still never experiencing one moment of love and affection. He is a human shell who will spend the rest of his sad life in prison.

Do you feel any compassion for this child? Does it tug even slightly on your heart for what has happened to that boy? If you could would you have reached out to him with your love as well as the love of God? Well that never happened in this man’s case, and he is known by a name which some man who wasn’t his father allowed him to have. His name is Charles Manson.

How many of us have had nothing but revulsion and even hatred for that man? We have considered him a sinner above most sinners, especially ourselves. We assumed God has rejected him as well, and redemption has been the furthest thing from our minds. We did not know his story - we did not care to know. We are interested in condemning sinners, not in their redemption. Our personal stories are so much more sterile than is Manson’s, and with that we stand in judgment. The church has lost its heart and its calling, and so many times we say and think the same way the lost world thinks about people. Instead our hearts should melt with compassion toward those who are without redemption. Please remember, when compared with God's holiness, we were just as sinful as Charles Manson.

Somehow in the circles of evangelicalism the spirit of redemption has come to be seen as compromise. The cross, compromise? Grace, compromise? God’s redemption, purchased by God the Son, is the message and ministry of His church in these days. The pain and suffering that envelopes the world because of sin cries for an answer, a healing balm, which is the Lord Jesus and His redemption. Our lips must speak of Christ and Him crucified and allow the Spirit to penetrate sin hardened hearts and bring them into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.

Everything God does is redemptive, and we should follow in His steps.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Arrogance and Ignorance

Arrogance. Ignorance. To the casual glance these words describe two different elements of a personal inventory, but upon further unpacking we will see that these two traits are Siamese twins and interconnected. It is difficult to place these behaviors in chronological order since they never stray too far from each other’s company. Ignorance is usually the precursor to arrogance, and arrogance perpetuates ignorance. It is without controversy that both these traits are supposed to be aggressively rejected by a committed Christian, one who is committed to exhibiting the Savior he professes to believe in and follow. But those two sins have subtly crept into the church and disguised themselves as boldness and courage and even elements of defending the faith.

Arrogance is contrary to everything Christian and not only flies in the face of the life of the One we should seek to emulate, but it departs from some of the greatest martyrs of the Christian faith. The Apostle Paul called himself the least of the apostles and the chief of all sinners. Moses was the meekest man who ever lived. Peter acquiesced to the apostleship of Paul even though it meant he no longer was the chief apostle. And the Lord Jesus willingly allowed His face to be the target of the spit of mocking sinners. The entire New Testament is replete with admonitions to humility and meekness and gentleness. And yet many believers and even preachers have taken upon themselves the mantle of a high and lofty prophet who is given a divine indulgence for spiritual hubris and disregard for personal lowliness, and all of this while claiming to be a self defined defender of truth and receiving verbal attacks as persecution. Obviously we have redefined persecution as well.

It is distasteful at the least and disgusting at the most for comfortable American Christians to claim persecution while across the globe believers are hunted, imprisoned, and even murdered for their faith. They are usually not persecuted for some doctrinal nuance, but rather they are hunted and attacked for their faith in Christ and their unwillingness to blend in sociologically with that profession of faith. In essence, they not only refuse to recant their faith in Jesus Christ, they refuse to be quiet about it as well. Men are tortured, killed in front of their families, forced to watch their families murdered, and incarcerated for decades. All because the were standing for the truth who is Jesus Christ. That is a far cry from the pretenders in the west who lose sleep over television caricatures of Christians and claim persecution.

The arrogance of some western Christians is palpable and causes division among other believers who hold to the basics of the faith. They exchange written smirks among their doctrinal clubs and provide hubristic amusement that is understood and enjoyed by the enlightened among them. All in the name of defenders of Biblical truth which seems to be a carte blanche for any other unchristian behavior as long as you espouse the five solas or the inerrancy of Scripture or the fundamentals of the faith. And many times if you dare to comment in the midst of the ongoing narcissistic party, you will be attacked personally and with some literary creativity that is meant to illustrate some intellectual prowess, disarm through depreciation, as well as attract applause from the gallery of comrades. It breaks up the monotony, but it isn’t Christian.

Now these types of behavior are not only arrogant, they are ignorant. They are willingly ignorant of the many exhortations of the New Testament as well as the object lesson of the life of Christ. Many of the evidences of the Christ life such as mercy, grace, and humility have been either doctrinally emasculated by redefinition, or they have been positioned in scenarios far less vulnerable and far less threatening to our reputations. In other words, we have become quite proficient in manipulating truth in order to afford the least inconvenient sacrifice for us personally, while at the same time projecting ourselves as objective protectors of the same truth we are compromising. Having your doctrine and eating it too.

And in many circles come the barrage of posts and articles about certain men or certain practices that are incongruous to Biblical truth, and yet where are the same posts about our own struggles and compromises of that same Biblical truth that we so often shrink so the subject matter avoids the convicting truth about our own attitudes, tones, enemy centered love, and the embarrassing truth about our lack of intercession for the ones we so freely criticize. Moses asked God to take his life instead of the deserving rebels he led. Paul wished himself accursed for the Christ rejecting Jews. And yet instead of standing between God and those who we believe are deceived, we love to sit at God’s side and pretend we speak for Him in judgment toward the people who may be rebelling. And instead of offering ourselves as a substitute for their judgment, we expect a divine reward for telling God to “get ’em”. A striking difference, wouldn’t you say?

And if indeed we had the entire and unassailable truth given to us by God’s angel himself on a gold cd, how could we still be so arrogant with that which we did not earn, did not know, did not learn, and indeed did not deserve? I actually believe God is more pleased with a believer that has 65% of the truth and has a tangible humility, than a believer who has 85% of the truth and is arrogant. And in order to justify our words and arrogance, we quote the dead preacher du jour as if that carries any weight with God. Spurgeon said this, or Edwards used these words, or some other preacher of days gone by used lofty and harsh language that is used as our template and indeed excuse. And in that we don’t justify our words, no, we present evidence that we have progressed little since these men roamed the earth. Breaking with the Roman Catholic Church in the Reformation is our landmark to which we’ve hitched our Christian wagon, never taking the time to realize we should have built upon that event and pursued a church that emulates the Lord Jesus in much more meaningful revelations than just systematic theologies.

We’ve had centuries to refine our mercy and grace and love that should authenticate the revelation of our Savior’s life, but instead we revel in the partial revelation of Luther or Spurgeon and others by assuming their Christianity is monolithically complete and must never change. So instead of being exhorted by the living words of Scripture revealed and expanded by the Holy Spirit in this millennium, we are tethered to the words of dead theologians as our Protestant apocrypha. And we often quote these men as if they would agree with us if they were still alive which necessitates concealing the fact that we are discarding some of the more unpleasant parts of their theologies.

And we can never come out from our arrogant ignorance until we allow the Spirit to hold up a mirror to our spiritual lives that exposes and magnifies the vast areas that are irreconcilable to the faith we profess. It is indeed possible to profess the entire systematic orthodoxy of Biblical theology and yet live, breathe, and act like an unbeliever. Until we realize that deception is not limited to written doctrinal areas, we will continue to be self deluded as to our own self righteous mirage. And these works that cannot save but must substantiate our faith in Jesus must be freed from the doctrinal prison of our own definitions. The works of a Christian must exceed just speaking the gospel, they must be revealed in acts of human compassion, acts of good Samaritanism, and even acts of personal behavior that can and should be used by the Spirit to evoke at least curiosity from onlookers. Why aren’t unbelievers confounded and confused by our speech and behavior that seems so contrary to the ladder climbing and self serving atmosphere of today’s world? Could it be that we have succumbed to that same spirit and only Christianized it so as to appear as though we are standing for truth, when in fact much of our communication can be viewed as protecting the peace by promoting war, or bragging about humility, or preaching the cross by crucifying others. How ignorant, how arrogant.

We deserve nothing and we’ve been given everything. Speaking the truth in love and seasoned with grace should come naturally from sinners who have gained nothing on their own and who personally abrogate God’s law daily in many different ways - and we claim to be undeceived. I am often criticized for speaking too much on humility and am told to attend to my own situation. I stand in total need of everything I have written, but I contend the church needs a revival of humility before we can see God move among us in power. How have we gotten to the place where humility is seen as compromise, arrogance as boldness, and ignorance as discernment?

I realize in some circles I will be a heretic, but God help me to be a humble one.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Scandal We Call

The Sermon on the Mount - part one

The message of Jesus that we have come to refer to as “The Sermon on the Mount” begins at Matthew chapter five and goes through chapter seven. We have quoted these words in many ways and have labeled the verses 5:3 through 5:12 as the Beatitudes. These words are lofty and sometimes pragmatic, and there are several teachings that are even shocking. Taken as a whole, this message is scandalous both in its content and the church’s refusal to obey. So much of what Jesus said in these three chapters has been interpreted down and adapted to fit neatly into our blended lifestyles. After all, the Lord could not possibly have meant all that He has said…could He?

I have read the Sermon on the Mount many times and have preached from its pages, and there are an innumerable amount of spiritual principles and commands that are both obvious and implied. The entire weight of these teachings is overwhelming when we attempt to understand them as unvarnished truth spoken to believers individually and the church as a whole, which is the body of Christ. I desire to briefly examine the words of Jesus against the backdrop of what we have systematically contoured them to mean for our own convenience. I will only need 10 verses for this post, that will be enough to give us an ample glimpse into how we have changed and ignored the very meaning and exhortations spoken by the One who we claim to believe and follow.

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The poor in spirit. We can surely take these words to indicate one important aspect of what we call humility. The western world rejects this type of thinking, and so does much of the evangelical community of late. The church is told to hold yourself in high esteem and to climb the ladder of success and fortune. The poor in spirit are usually run over and ignored, and many times are considered unmotivated and even lazy.

I believe the poor in spirit corresponds with the verse in Philippians 2 that says to esteem everyone better than yourself. That sentence in and of itself is a colossal challenge and if taken literally it should - it must - indict all of us. How many days do we rise from sleep with a passion to esteem everyone better than ourselves? Our problems, our lives, seem to consume us, surely not the burdens and issues that others are carrying. Do we cling to being poor in spirit, uncomfortably humble, and being willing to be ignored and even unnoticed? Have we allowed the Holy Spirit to so change us that when we are offended or attacked personally we immediately retreat to the cross and say nothing? With gladness?

Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.
There is so many heartaches that are concealed within the hidden corners of what passes for civilization. All over the world people mourn with little comfort. But this revelation first given from this mountain exhorts His followers to not sorrow as do others, for our comfort comes from above. Sometimes against the backdrop of tragedy is where the darkness can see the light most clearly. It rains on the just and the unjust, but comfort comes most specifically to the household of faith. The word blessed even indicates some supernatural experience that is entirely out of character with the circumstances. Happiness and contentment and even blessings in the very midst of mourning is a great light to our world. Exchanging mourning for dancing goes against the grain and glorifies our Comforter.
Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.
The meek. Webster says it is “showing mildness or quietness of nature”, and yet I am sure our Master referred to a spiritual quality much deeper and much more sacrificially reflective of the precious Spirit of God. This meekness is not some personality trait some may be born with, no this for all of us and comes at great expense to our egos and fleshly desires. This meekness can only come when we recognize who we were and what grace actually means. To understand the incarnation should bind us to this meekness since the Master we follow did not even demand a place to sleep, and He created a place to sleep for the entire world.

Moses was the meekest man who ever lived, and Paul said he was the least of all the saints. What kind of meekness is that, coming from the human conduit who wrote most of the New Testament Scriptures? This was certainly because Paul had seen the glorified Christ and that glimpse never left his heart. Have we seen the Christ? Oh not with earthly eyes that quickly forget, but with the eyes of the Spirit that sear His glory to our hearts and minds? The many times I have felt and experienced God’s presence in my Christian life I have inevitably felt both a sense of His greatness and my own unworthiness. And in a spiritual miracle I am both built up and laid low at once.

The church has become too self promoting and so narcissistic which is not what draws the darkened world. We can never outdo the world in self promotion or egotism, but sometimes the church tries. Oh let us humble ourselves under His mighty hand and allow His strength to be reflected in our meekness.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.
Righteousness. True righteousness, perfect righteousness, can only be found by faith in Jesus Christ so the Master must be adding a practical component here. We as believers are made perfect before our Maker by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, but we are commanded to work out our salvation with fear and trembling so we may present a visible representation of the power of the resurrected Christ. This righteousness which has been imputed to us will and must have an impact on our earthly lives as sure as electricity has an impact on a light bulb.

And the Master shows us that blessedness comes from hungering after that impact. Seeking and meditating upon our spiritual righteousness and thirsting to see its manifestation in our lives brings joy and contentment. This is sometimes depicted in strict and legalistic terms that sets out a set of rules about which to adhere, and when the believer meets these man made requirements he thinks he feels a sense of contentment before God when in reality he is breeding self righteous and not the righteousness of Christ. You see the righteousness of Christ when exhibited in a living follower of Jesus Christ has a much to do with others as it does with the believer himself.

There is some real conundrums when we examine the life of Christ against what we have constructed as practical righteousness. Some of the people Jesus communed with and some of the things he did we would condemn as compromise today. The life of Jesus would not be altogether accepted as separated in fundamental and conservative circles today. He got dangerously close to sinners, and he broke what everyone thought was the law of Moses. He never handed his disciples a set of rules etched in stone, and his harshest rebukes of those who loved Him centered upon their judgment of others and their sin.

You see, hungering and thirsting for righteousness is a journey of deep humility and brokenness because with the smallest part of self righteousness and pride the entire journey falls apart into a Pharisaical system that serves one‘s flesh and not our Savior. The core motivation for spiritual righteousness is usability in God’s kingdom and not for the praise of the believer. And in a sentence, hungering and thirsting for righteousness is seeking and demonstrating the heart of Jesus Himself to a world who desperately needs to see Him.
Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.
True mercy comes from a heart that both recognizes the awful situation of someone else as well as the grace of your own situation. So often we are tempted to take advantage of someone else’s misfortune which can provide us with a fleshly sense of superiority. So many people who have shown very little mercy for others seem to beg for it themselves when they are in need. Jesus tells us that mercy breeds mercy, and we should be children of mercy who are neither blind to the sin of others or blind to that same sinner’s need of mercy at a time when it would be so easy to ride the waves of judgment.

It is impossible to expound fully on the mercy that Christ has shown the world, and specifically those who trust in Him. Mercy seems to carry with it a sense that those who need it do not deserve it, and this is most true spiritually. We have been made recipients of God’s eternal mercy and emanating from that knowledge must be an eagerness to imitate the One who has shown us such mercy. It is better to give than receive, and in this instance we are promised a harvest from our seeds of mercy. Self righteousness hates mercy, and mercy disarms self righteousness. We are called to be the ministers of God’s mercy to a dark world in desperate need of mercy.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

God's Heart for the Prodigal

Israel was considered the Northern Kingdom which had split after the death of Solomon. It consisted of ten tribes excluding the Tribes of Judah and Benjamin which were considered as the Southern Kingdom. Israel had become prosperous and thrived in the commercial trade exchanges with many nations including and most predominantly Assyria. They had for all intensive purposes walked away from Jehovah, even constructing temples for Baal. In essence the Northern Kingdom was consumed with hedonism and idolatry and spiritual adultery. God was sorely displeased with them and eventually the entire kingdom would be conquered by the wicked Assyrians.

Throughout the book of Hosea God pronounces judgment and warning to His people, even directing Hosea to marry a harlot as an example of how Israel had committed such spiritual fornication against Jehovah. Just as the Southern Kingdom was commonly referred to as Judah, so the Northern Kingdom was referred to as either Israel or Ephraim which was the largest tribe. God becomes so frustrated with Ephraim’s backsliding and idolatry that in Hosea 5 verse 17 God says “Ephraim is joined to his idols, let him alone”. Can you imagine? The Lord God their Savior says He wants to leave them alone with their idols.

Much of the modern church in some ways resembles the ways of Ephraim, the spiritual adultery grows every year. Not just doctrinal compromise, but a fast paced pursuit of wealth and ambition that seeks the things of this world and not the eternal things of God. Immorality is rampant in the church and huge segments of young people are walking away from Christ as soon as they are on their own. Preachers are caught in infidelity and many give little time to their messages, in fact purchasing such messages in the many websites that now offer packaged sermons to the “busy” preacher today. And some in the congregation can spend Saturday night indulging in questionable places of entertainment and yet enjoy the worship on Sunday morning. The evangelical community is in spiritual trouble.

But there is another side to today’s spiritual battle that some in the church have refused to see. The Prophet Hosea obeyed the command of God and married a harlot and he suffered sacrifice in obedience to God and for Israel’s sake. Of course God was displeased with Israel and their spiritual harlotry, even saying to leave him alone. We cannot imagine how the Father God feels when his children who have known Him and His goodness go after the things of this world, but God has been gracious enough to give us a glimpse that we can understand. But in the midst of judgment and displeasure, and even after saying He would leave them alone, God says, “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim?. How shall I deliver thee, Israel?”. (Hos.11:8) God’s love prevails and He opens His heart to let us see that He cannot bear to reject His people, and indeed He never will.

A son works in his father’s fields faithfully. He is obedient to his father and works diligently to please his father who owns these fields. His father loves this son and appreciates his labor in his fields. But almost every day, this son reminds his father about the nature of his brother’s disobedience and rebellion. “Remember, Dad”, he says, “He is somewhere wasting your money and ruining his own life and your name”. This older son hardly ever misses a chance to rehearse his younger brother’s sins to his father in a not so subtle gesture to substantiate and showcase his own faithfulness. This older son refuses to see what he has been given and his own weaknesses every bit as deep as his brother’s. No, he just adds to his father’s pain and grief, because his father still loves his younger son and continues to hold out the possibility of his return. The older son wants no talk of his brother’s return and he will not join his father in any longing for that day. In a way, the older brother hopes his brother never comes back.

The father stands and peers at the horizon, tears blur his vision as he strains to see. What is he looking for and why does he wear a worn look of many days gone by? There are many new wrinkles in his face, wrinkles of love and wrinkles of concern, wrinkles of anticipation and wrinkles of forgiveness. But still he waits and looks…and loves…and longs. Suddenly there appears a figure silhouetted against the blue horizon, and this figure is slowing getting ever closer. The fathers eyes squint and his body tenses. The figure continues to move toward him and two eyes of love are riveted. This figure looks tired and walks with exhaustion, an exhaustion that speaks both of a long journey and the rigors of a sinful lifestyle now left behind.

The figure now, still a long way off, comes into recognizable range and the father dares to see him. Is it…could it be…it…is! Instantly the father’s feet begin to move, first a walk, then a jog, and finally running faster than an old man should. The son does not see the father approaching for he is looking downward in weariness and shame. The son looks up as he hears someone yelling and he sees his father upon him. Before he can say anything his father is hugging and kissing his neck, and while still out of breath the father is weeping and expressing unspeakable love and grace to the son he has so long been waiting for.

The son is overwhelmed at his father’s unbridled welcoming embrace, and he rapidly feels the shame and regret come up before him. His father doesn’t even realize what he has done including leaving him in the first place. The son bows his head, still wet from the father’s kisses, and he admits his awful sin and professes his utter unworthiness, not only of this undeserved welcome, but of even being called his son. His father would have every right to make him a spectacle and an object lesson of what happens when you sin against your authority and especially you own father.

But the father wipes away his tears, turns to his servants who have followed him, and he commands them to prepare a feast. “A feast?”, thinks the son. And as the son listens he hears his father tell his servants that this wayward son is to be the guest of honor at this feast, whose significance demands the fatted calf with all the trimmings. A flood of emotions fill the son and he hears his father shout to the on looking servants, “Rejoice, my son was dead and is alive, he was lost and is found!”.

We as the church have severely limited the love and forgiveness the Heavenly Father has for his backslidden children. God says he is married to the backslider, and as taught by the Great Shepherd Himself God is ever calling and vigilant to see his wayward children return to his loving side. Moses, just a man, asked the Lord to take his life and spare the rebellious children of Israel. Are we so arrogant as to relegate God’s compassion and redemptive love as less than a man’s? Why are we so quick to pounce, so quick to disassociate, and so quick to uncover the sins of our wayward and sinful brethren? That is not the spirit of Christ, that is the response of a self righteous religious system whose architect is the older brother. Are we so frightened of authentic and dangerous compassion that we must insure that all know we disapprove of the sins we so carelessly expose? Have we forgotten the unfathomable grace wherein we all walk, or the mercies that prevent our destruction? Do we find solace under the wings of the Accuser more than the everlasting wings of the Redeemer?

Do not think backsliders will go uncorrected and escape unscathed by their sin, no one does. All of us have experienced the correction of our Heavenly Father, but His rod seems to meet out pain, direction, and a love that the world cannot understand. It is not our calling to insure punishment, and it is absolutely not our calling to shout the sins of our fallen brethren to the world. Political enemies are ready to pounce upon the sins of their opponents for expediency, but that is not the heart of the Savior. Ours is to bind up the wounds, lift up the fallen, and never break a bruised reed. Ours is to watch and pray, fast and weep, and call with love and concern to those who have walked away from their first love.

I call on the body of Christ to take up the mantle of redemption and restoration as it pertains to the prodigals among us. Not just to be willing to forgive, but to be looking and longing to forgive and restore. There will be plenty of time to deal with the ramifications of their sin later, but let us set up the welcome home party around the prayer closet in which we tearfully beg the Spirit to return them to us. The Accuser will continue to condemn the very ones he deceived. The world will continue to mock those whose lives betray their profession of Christ. But we, His body, must be the source of forgiveness. Not just doctrinal forgiveness, but a forgiveness whose revelation astounds the world as they see how God’s love and grace can be active in a broken and rebellious life.

Dear Prodigal,

We do not know where you are or what you are doing, but we do know you have left the loving safety of our Heavenly Father. No one knows better than you how far you are from your Savior’s will for your life, and we want you to know our hearts are broken for you. We pray for your return always, and our love for you has not diminished, and it never will.

Be mindful that when you desire to return to walking with Christ, we are ready and eager to help you and welcome you back. We do not condemn you, but we also know that you must be aware that you are not where you should be. We are listening to every phone ring, every door bell, every car that pulls into the driveway, and we have a setting for you at every dinner table. Our love for you cannot be put into words, but His love will always be eternal. We pray you will both see clearly the mirage of this world, as well as one day hear His voice calling you by name.

The Body of Christ

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

***A Young Girl Who Once Walked With Christ is Struggling***



A young girl named Katy Hudson who now goes by the name of Katy Perry claims to be a Christian. As a matter of fact, she is a singer who put out a Christian album with some great words. But somewhere she has veered off course and now she sings secular music of a suggestive nature. Her looks have changed and she claims to idolize former Queen front man Freddy Mercury. She needs much prayer for she is heading toward shipwreck if she continues. Of course the secular press got a hold of her metamorphosis and reported it with a focus on her professed Christianity.

She is just news, they do not care about the direction of her life or what inward pain and struggle she must be going through. If she continues to spiral downward she will continue to make news, eventually being discarded if she ends up in the gutter. Fox news will not pray for her, they will not offer to help, they will not call her with concern, no, they will just shake their heads about the compromises in her life. They will willingly serve her up to millions of gossip hounds in millions of American homes. And if by chance she is experiencing some sort of depression, or a demonic attack, or even struggling with some other disorder or sin, they do not care in the least.

But Fox News will provide a pile on service that is meant to draw attention to her obvious plight by collecting her story and presenting it in the antiseptic forum of national news so everyone can have a morbid front row seat to see this girl deteriorate into late night humor and caricatures for head shaking over dinner. They do not care that she once walked with Christ, they do not care that she once sung for Him, they do not care that as a teenager she desired to be used of God, where were they and others when she was serving Christ? She did not make news until she was deceived and left her first love because that feeds the self righteous flesh. And they certainly do not care that they are voices to pass along other people’s misery - that is their job. But we can be thankful that Fox News has plenty of help to deal in the misery and backsliding of others. Here is one bottom feeder that is ever vigilant and eager to share the sin and pain of others captured by the evil One.

We print people’s sinful plights, Christ gave His life for them.

Compromising Compromise

The word is compromise. It can mean something good where two parties come together who were once at odds and reach a compromise that is acceptable to both. A parent goes car shopping with their child and he wants a high priced car but the parents want an inexpensive compact but they reach a compromise and purchase one in the middle. We all have compromise many times over our lifetime and probably should have done it more than we did. It can be a peace maker.

But then there is compromise as it pertains to Christianity which can be a bad thing. For instance, when a believer has been led of God to avoid certain activities but because of the influence of friends he compromises and indulges in the very activity that God has instructed him to avoid. That is sinful compromise. When a Christian is pressured to agree with something he knows is wrong and due to that pressure he acquiesces and agrees, that is compromise. It carries with it the diluting of something in our lives that should not have been diluted. Every one of us has compromised at some time in our Christian lives to our shame. And looking back we have repented and gone forward.

Probably the most tragic and destructive type of compromise is that which is public and done by someone of influence. When a Christian leader compromises in a public forum it can lead others to follow his example and be unaware that they are compromising God’s Word and will. When Billy Graham, whose preaching led me to Christ, speaks glowingly of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church he not only is compromising, he is leading others to do the same. So his compromise generates imitators of that same compromise. When Rob Bell goes to a conference held by the Dalai Lama, he is compromising and leading others to do the same.

That does not mean that their motives are impure, no, many times I have compromised while having good intentions only to later realize my motives did not sanctify my methods. Sometimes refusing to compromise is seen as harsh and inflexible, and sometimes it is painful ,because we feel we are hurting people. After I had been saved for about 2 years I went to Bible school near one of my aunts. She was not a believer but she loved me and I her. She was an avid fan of Florida dog racing, and since she lived alone she had no one to go ,with her. She asked me to go and with good intentions of spending witnessing time with her I went.

After several times going where she would bet on the horses, we started a conversation about being a Christian. During the conversation I mentioned that when a person comes to faith in Christ their lives are changed, they have hope, they have peace, and many times they don’t do the things they used to enjoy. I was referring to the life of drugs and debauchery I had once lived, but my aunt said quickly, “What about you? You go to the dog track.”. You see? I went to provide her with company and yet she saw that as a compromise as a Christian. I never went with her again. Good intentions are sometimes the conduit for compromise.

But we must be consistent in our discernment of compromise. It cannot just apply to those we have issues with such as Billy Graham or Rob Bell, it must be viewed with impartiality and sometimes must be judged with pain when it applies to someone with whom we agree on most issues. And so comes the reason for this post. I believe the health and wealth teaching, the prosperity gospel is heresy and not the gospel at all. Many if not most of the preachers that teach such nonsense are being made wealthy by the offerings of the gullible who have the love of money. The opulent lifestyles of many of those preachers are a disgrace to the Christian faith and they are without controversy false teachers. They receive messages from God that are at odds with written Scripture, and they wrest the Bible to make merchandise of their followers.

Along comes a conference called “Inspiring Excellence” which is hosted by a health and wealth preacher named Rob Thompson. The list of guest speakers is a virtual who’s who of the heath and wealth genre. As I watched a commercial for this conference I was absolutely floored when among all these heretics was also Ray Comfort, from The Way of the Master ministry. Below is the website for this conference.

Now here is my point. It goes without saying that when someone like Comfort participates in a conference like this he lends them and their false teachings some credibility. But here is my question, “Will the discernment ministries take Ray Comfort to task for this compromise with the same vigor and scorched earth method that they do with other preachers who are not of their camp?” I believe Mr. Comfort is a Calvinist of some sort, so will that temper the verbiage of some discernment blogs and in fact will some not even mention it? Many of these blogs have Ray Comfort’s ministry on their blog rolls, and yet here he is being advertised as a speaker in a conference that is sure to be a smorgasbord of heresy.

We will see if there is the same hue and cry about this that there was about Rob Bell at the Seeds Conference, or will they give him Piper’s Pass? What is Piper’s Pass? It is when John Piper invites Mark Driscoll to his Desiring God Conference but hardly anyone made mention of that obvious compromise.

My enemy compromises.
My friend has a mission from God.
Compromising compromise.