Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hatred is not Christ

Hate is not tempered by religion; Christian hatred is just as deadly as Islamic hatred. At this blog a post was made about the Thanksgiving proclamation of President Obama. I have already addressed the inconsistency in Ingrid’s accusing Ravi Zacharius for not using the name of Jesus and her excusing George Washington of the same oversight. Of course her unredemptive hatred for the sinner named Barak Obama continues to be fed by any news item that fits within her political crosshairs. But when you hate, and when you print and project hatred, you invite even more breathtaking examples of disrespect and hatred. This one comment that she approved was under the post to which I linked:

“At the White House outdoor "Thanksgiving" photo-op, Hussein Obama pardoned a 45lb Jaindl turkey to live forever more in Disneyland. The symbolism is eery. Why? Shades of the concentration camp commander in "Schindler's List" who practiced pardoning in a drunken state, but resumed shooting inmates from his balcony. Too harsh, you protest? Not really. Just imagine those jive turkeys as you and I. With an outstretched hand, Obama will give a thumbs up or thumbs down, Nazi style, to pardon you to live forever more in his secular Disneyland where there is no right or wrong except as he defines, or he will condemn you to a forgotten world of irrelevant indignant religiosity, and/or death at the hands of the executioner.”

Every time I believe I have read the most vile and despicable things from a professing believer, I am taken aback by something that is profoundly unchristian and hateful. I will assume the commenter is young and that time will change his heart, but I cannot turn a blind eye to the forum that trains young hearts to hate. Hatred is powerful and contagious. Brethren, even if you participate in the political arena, remember to be Jesus and not an unredemptive partisan voice.

The gospel dies where hatred begins...
He Offers Himself to You...Again

I have come across a source of great and unique inspiration to me. A man named Michael Beck was a thriving fashion photographer and yet his life seemed empty. One day he believed the Holy Spirit spoke to him and he dedicated his life and talent to Jesus Christ. He now uses his photography in a very unique and challenging way in order to get people to consider Jesus outside the confines of religion and tradition.

Here is his website.

I found this picture especially challenging.

I cannot help it, my heart is always open to new expressions of my Savior; ones that draw me ever closer to Him and make me widen my understanding of Who He is and What He does. Of course I deal with theological issues, but I refuse to let my heart become calcified and petrified and unable to be moved emotionally because I am exclusively tethered to doctrinal examinations. He is my raison d’etre and He is my life. I have met Him many times and I have also refused to meet Him many times.

Jesus cannot be put into so many words and with that we are satisfied. He is beyond words and He is above words and He IS the Word itself. We do not draw our breath from some combination of elements; we draw our breath from Him. We do not walk by a mastering of gravitational balance; we walk in Him. We do not see through the optic nerve; we see through Him. We do not hear by sound waves; we hear Him. And we do not speak through vibrating vocal chords; we speak through Him.

How can we communicate the love we have for Him? It is unlike any earthly love, and the combination of emotion, gratitude, humility, and brokenness can only be understood by another who loves Him as do you. Loving God is a mystery only eclipsed by His love for us. We see a man portraying the part of Jesus, and we know he is just a man, and yet the Spirit allows us a vulnerable emotion that is unmistakably directed at the Great Messiah Himself. We do not even know if this man is a believer of the Person he portrays, but it doesn’t matter…we are.

As I perused these photographs I was taken back to the time when I first met Jesus. I did not come to Christ in a church, He found me on a mountain. When was the last time you discarded, at least for the moment, the cares of this world? When have you left the inter-theological squabbles and cleared your mind? And when was the last time you just fellowshipped with Jesus? Only Jesus? Have you lately recalled the time you first met Him? Have you remembered the times where He revealed Himself to you in special and profound ways? Have you been brought to tears over His grace and goodness?

Clear out some time, lean back, and meditate on these photographs with the One they portray. Open your heart to freshness that brings revelation of Him and commitment to you. The world will continue to spin and the universe will continue to exist. But there is no greater calling than Him. He was, He is, and He always will be.

He offers Himself to youagain.
The Manhattan Declaration

Recently a group of people signed what they called The Manhattan Declaration. It was meant to express outrage over some moral issues. I was asked my thoughts. I will answer with a parable.

The Owner of many pieces of property brings his hired servant out to view his land. As they both scan the landscape they notice thousands of dead corpses laid out across every piece of property. The Owner points to these corpses and instructs the servant to take the electronic paddles that he provides for him and go corpse to corpse using the paddles against each chest. The Owner tells the man that every once in a while a corpse will come to life, but that he should not be discouraged when most of them do not. The Owner also informs the servant that the servant himself was once dead and laid among these same corpses until someone placed the paddles on his chest and he came to life. The servant understands and the Owner departs.

The servant begins to go to each corpse and place the paddles against each chest and activate the electronic surge. He has done it to scores of dead bodies when all of a sudden one person comes back to life. The servant is surprised and ecstatic and rejoices with the now living person. The servant goes back to using the paddles on each corpse. After a while the servant begins to realize that these corpses give off a decidedly foul odor. And along with their smell, they draw many insects and scavenger birds. The entire atmosphere deteriorates and the servant begins to feel very uncomfortable.

When the environment becomes very unbearable, the servant puts down the paddles and sets about to perfume the corpses in order to alleviate the odor. He also begins to use pesticide in order to chase away the insects. He erects scarecrows to scare away the scavenger birds as well. The servant becomes almost consumed with attempting to improve the ambiance of his piece of property, and he calls out to the servant who is working on the adjacent piece of land. He and the other servant complain together about the residual effects the corpses are having on their respective work environments.

They call other servants together as well, and sure enough the other servants are experiencing the same problems. So the servants decide to sign a petition that states emphatically that they do not appreciate the odor, the insects, and the birds that seem to gather around these corpses. In fact, they become so passionate about their cause that they become deceived into thinking the corpses can actually hear and understand them. They pass out these petitions to the corpses and even tell them that they better quit smelling, and quit drawing insects, and quit being a source for scavenger birds.

Even though the corpses cannot hear them, these petitions make the servants feel bold and strong. They have made it public knowledge that they do not agree with these unfortunate circumstances and that in fact they are strongly opposed to odors, insects, and birds. Some of the servants even create organizations that are meant to oppose the unpleasant aspects of the fields and leveraging change through numerical strength.

But while the hearts of these servants may be sincere, they have actually been deceived. And there are two distinct deceptions at work here.
**First, their campaign against the residual effects of rotting corpses has attracted servants that do not serve their Owner, and bound by a common cause, they join with servants who are enemies of their Owner. Their Owner is not pleased.**
**Secondly, these energies against the outward effects of death have taken them away from their assignment and calling. The Owner did not promise them a pleasant labor environment, and He did not instruct them to complain about the things that are unpleasant. In fact, the Owner knows only too well about the horrors of laboring among corpses and He offers rewards for those who go about His business with humility, grace, and sacrifice. But instead of continuing to use the Owner’s paddles, these servants have now set their eyes upon their circumstances. Unwittingly, they now have become slaves to the corpses instead of obedient servants of the Owner.**

Creating and signing petitions, manifestos, or declarations may seem noble and bold in the short run, but we as servants of the Most High already have our manifesto. We already have our assignment, and we must be about our Father’s business. We serve the Lord of Life in the midst of corpses where we ourselves were once laid. They do not need our moral engagement and they do not need our outrage because they act like corpses.

They need Jesus, the Lover of corpses Who offers them eternal life through His cross. We cannot afford to be distracted by the glitter of moral causes, and if persecution is God’s plan for us, let us receive it with joy in our hearts and a song on our lips. How privileged would we be to be allowed to suffer for His Matchless Name! We have a manifesto already written to those corpses, so let us sign it with our lives regardless of the environment in which we labor.
Heb.12:2-4 - Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Offense of the Cross

The Apostle Paul and the early Christians were known, and sometimes hated, for their belief in and preaching of the cross. They were not the kind to push themselves in people’s faces, however they were bold in their proclamation of the cross of Jesus Christ. They did not concern themselves with how the Roman government conducted their business, or the current moral issues of the day. Theirs was the gospel and the cross was the core. And it was this cross, the death implement that was known throughout the Roman Empire, that was the reason they were hated and persecuted.

Where is the offense of that cross today? Why have we western believers manipulated a form of persecution that centers on morals, or politics, or freedom, or marriage, or even abortion, and yet we are not known for our embrace of the cross of Jesus Christ? Drive around your Anytown, USA and read the latest sermon series on the church signs. How many are preaching a series on the cross? Read your newspaper and search for a message series on the cross. Peruse the blog nation and look for the cross. The tragic reality is that the western church has relegated the cross as ancillary and subordinate to a host of other “issues”.

We have elevated everything from finances to relationships to sexual fitness ahead of the cross. We argue and debate about election, regeneration chronology, cultural principles, and we generally only trot out the cross as either a proof that we still believe in it, or similar to some holy day that comes around once in a while. And amidst the relevant teachings that are aids to our everyday lives, the cross seems out of date and a doctrinal antique. It appears as unsophisticated and without a definitive purpose in a well rounded western lifestyle.

And as we battle against everything from the emerging church to taxes, we have indeed lost our distinctiveness as it pertains to the cross. Sinners do not equate us with the cross anymore, and in fact we have successfully become known more for what we are against than what we are for. We are far more famous for our anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, and anti-Islam stands than we are known for our pro-Jesus position, to say nothing of the absence of a “pro-cross” position. And much of the church relishes in its new found persecution of morals and issues and is completely blind to the fact that we have left our first love. It is a sad day in Christendom.

Most evangelicals, from emergent to orthodox, would never openly deny the cross as a tenant of our faith. Most would find a prominent place for that cross in their statement of faith, and many teach about it a few appropriate times during the calendar year. Many believers have a cross as jewelry although many would never publicly speak about its redemption. So we as believers in America, estimated in the millions, are now just one religion among many; known for a host of issues and social/political voices but hardly ever associated directly with the preaching of the cross. The cross lays dormant among us and seemingly dead to the darkness around us.

But let us return to God’s Word and see what the Spirit reveals through human pens about the cross and its offense. Listen to what God says is His priority and what actually brings authentic and glorifying persecution.

I Cor.1:17-18 - For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

The great apostle was not concerned with counting baptisms, and in fact he did not baptize. Listen today as denominations either rejoice or lament in the number of their baptisms. But not Paul; Paul sets his face like a flint to preach the gospel, and he elevates the cross as the centerpiece of that gospel. He is not concerned with numerical accolades associated with his ministry, God forbid, he is only concerned with his faithfulness to proclaim Christ and His gospel and lifting high that wondrous cross!

Gal.5:11 - And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.

Paul isn’t going to preach the law. He will not reach back and cull out the teachings of Moses that illustrate moral dos and don’ts, those types of directives are for the church and those that are alive in Christ. But to the kingdom of darkness Paul will preach Jesus Christ and His cross, and for that Paul will suffer persecution. In fact, Paul states that if he would preach Moses and the law he would be accepted in some circles. Back then it would have been the unbelieving Jews that would have lauded Paul, and today it will still be conservative unbelievers, Jew and Gentile, who accept us and even join with the church because we preach morality and the tenants of our moral law. But if we preach Christ and His cross we would see how many conservatives, even some conservative evangelicals, would run for cover and abandon our cause when it became the cross.

Gal.6:12 - As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.

As long as people acquiesced to the dictates of religious ceremony they would be accepted. And so it is today, only in today’s religious theatre we have made many idols and treated them as religious tenants. A lost person can be a hedonist enemy of Jesus Christ but if he or she is pro-life they have a place at our political table. The church is ready and willing to join hands with unbelievers and lukewarm professing believers, and even cults, as long as they become “circumcised” by the ismail of conservative political and moral perspectives.

Gal.6:14 - But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

Where is our glory? What has happened to the glory that once rested upon the church as they roamed the world? Why has the church been drawn into the useless harangue of the issues of the world and left the cross in the sanctuary? We claim that the wall between the church and the state only prevents the government from ecclesiastical interference, and that the church still should have a voice in the government. But what voice do we speak? Do we speak the cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, or do we speak a stream of moral and political perspectives to dead men and women who need Christ and not moral adjustments? We have traded the glorious shame of Christ’s cross for the hollow victory of political leverage.

Eph.2:15-16 - Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

There can be only one message since there is only one way to obey the commandments. That message is the cross through which our Master has offered reconciliation to all sinners. Worthless is the great commission of moral issues, and empty is the gospel of commandments. The cross is God’s message and the cross is God’s power. Go ahead and scurry about with the beggarly elements of political causes and moral issues and see if God’s power rests in those modern instruments of the law. Go ahead and find solace and contentment in your political battles and strategies and see if sinners are converted through the gospel of democracy. The cross cannot just be included, it must be the exclusive zenith of our clarion call at the expense of all other noble, important, and even urgent concerns.

Phil.2:7-9 - 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. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

Can we not be brought to tears when we see how little we have made of our Blessed Savior and His Blessed Sacrifice? The horrors He endured are treated as doctrinal relics that are of little value in the modern discourse and the post modern marketplace of spiritual ideas. We boast in our numbers; we boast in our moral perspectives; we boast in our buildings; we boast in our political clout; we boast in our national conferences; we boast in our theologies; we boast in our orthodoxy; we boast in particular preacher heroes; but where is the uncomfortable and remarkable boasting in the cross of Jesus Christ? Not using the cross as some religious talisman that is employed as a Constantinian reference to ensure our standing in the orthodox community, but as the constant theme of our faith and life. It would seem we are embarrassed by Christ’s cross in mixed company and we will engage the darkness on its own terms.

Phil.3:18-19 - (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

Why does Paul refer to some as “enemies of the cross of Christ”? God must consider the cross of His Son to be sacred if he singles out men as enemies of that cross. Perhaps we are not enemies of that cross, but are we cowards of that cross? If the cross was our banner and our constant theme, how often would we be invited to appear on television talk shows? Christians are welcomed as conservative voices on political and moral matters, but if they insisted on preaching the cross of Christ how often would they be welcomed? The cross is an offense, our conservative issues are welcomed. And in the end, many have joined hands with enemies of the cross in order to eat at the pottage bowl of political leverage. That just may be the greatest compromise of all.

I Cor.1:12-13 - Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

Look what Paul says here. He did not say, “Was Paul resurrected for you?” He did not say, “Did Paul do miracles for you?” He did not say, “Was Paul born of a virgin for you?” In an effort to restore unity among the brethren and eradicate human idolatry Paul references the crucifixion of Christ. Does that speak to your heart, dear friends? What is the tie that binds us all? The cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the fountain from which we must all continually drink. The cross is not just the altar upon which we found redemption but now we move on to bigger and more relevant spiritual issues – NO – the cross is the life blood of the church and to the degree the church moves away from the preaching and teaching of the cross is the degree to which the church dies.

I Cor.1:22-24 - For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

The kingdom of darkness desires to know what you believe on an array of issues. The political world inquires as to which president you support. The religious world wants you to declare your doctrinal slant. And when presented with such inquiries, when will we as believers immediately profess our faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice of the cross as the only way to eternal life? Paul did not change his message to accommodate the prevailing political issues of the time. Paul did not shrink from preaching the cross because some would be offended. Paul knew, as should we, that the preaching of the cross draws sinners by the power of the Spirit.

I Cor.1:1-3 - And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.

How far have moved away from that “church growth” concept? I challenge you to google Christian conferences for the last year and see if how many conferences you find on the cross. You will find conferences on marriage, shepherds, finances, worship, growth, poets, modern Christinaity, and a long list of topics. But you will find the cross is scarce among popular conference topics. And look how Paul approached the preaching of the crucified Christ; in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. What makes us tremble today? The economy? Terrorism? Job loss? When was the last time you witnessed someone exhibit demonstrable discomfort simply because they were aware of the sacred power of the cross of Christ? When the average evangelical pulpit gets around to mentioning or even preaching on the cross of Jesus Christ, they usually do it with such composure that it comes with little supernatural power and is received no differently than last week’s message on raising teenagers.

Gal.2:20 - I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

The resurrection has its undeniable power in the life of a believer, but look how Paul places the crucifixion of Christ in his life. Paul says “I am crucified with Christ” and He “gave Himself for me”. How many rights does a dead man have? How much political power can a corpse have? What citizenship can those who live in Christ and are dead to this world have? The cross of Jesus Christ is not only to be preached and proclaimed, it is the instrument by which we find life through our own death. If indeed we are to be living crucified lives that render ourselves dead and remove the self stone and allow the life of Jesus Christ to come forth and live in our place, where are the fruits of that colossal truth?? Are we not embarrassed by such teachings as we juxtapose that truth against the reality of what passes as the Christian life today? God forbid the world could ever truly understand what we say we believe for we would rightly be exposed as frauds and hypocrites. And it isn’t just that we have not attained the reality of such truths, it is much more that we no longer pursue or even believe such things today.

Gal.3:1-3 - O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

Look into a mirror here. Paul speaks to the believers at Galatia who have set about to become better Christians through the law and outward means. And tell me, beloved of God, what would these things be in today’s ecclesiastical atmosphere? Inventory the list of things by which church goers are assessed as growing and mature. Church attendance, tithing, teaching Sunday School, pastoral support, ordination, church leadership, political activism, and many other outward elements that are used to proclaim a believer is mature in the faith. And yet Paul, in verse one, makes reference to the crucifixion of Christ as the centerpiece of spiritual growth. What a profound statement Paul makes, and how contradictory it is to today’s theology. To think that the cross of Jesus Christ is central and in fact indispensible to a believers spiritual growth.

Rev.11:7-9 - And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.

The Spirit through the Beloved Apostle identifies Jerusalem as the place “where also our Lord was crucified”. Perhaps that is also telling if we have ears to hear.


There it is for all of us to see. The Word of God openly displays our continuing defiance as we plow spiritual paths with human oxen and without the blade of Christ’s cross. Everything is discussed and everything is an issue for the western evangelical church. We have eternal freedom in Jesus Christ through His cross and yet we complain and bemoan the loss of so called “freedoms” given to us by some earthly government, as if they could ever add to the freedom we have in Jesus Christ. And why are we blind to such things? It is because we have left the cross for greener and more current spiritual issues and we no longer preach the cross as if it is our very lives. We have become earthy; bound to the things and concerns of this world.

The church takes its place at the gates and discusses what the world desires to discuss. Begin to discuss the cross of Jesus Christ in the general discourse of the world and see how many participate in that. Even most of the church will become quickly bored and uninterested in such a discussion, to say nothing of suggesting a return to its primacy. What would happen if the church by the millions dropped what they were doing and took up the cross in a fresh and dramatic way? What would occur if a large host of believers left the political and nationalistic landscape and set a new course that was led by the preaching and living of the cross of Christ?

There are approximately 150,000 Amish people living in the United States, and yet even with such a numerical few they are widely known for their lifestyle. Just because they have eschewed the western lifestyle they have become famous. How is it that evangelicals number in the millions and yet we are unremarkable as to our lifestyle and nondescript as to our message? Where is our power? Where is a peculiarity? Where is the marked distinctiveness of our lives and message? Where did the axe head fall? I suggest we left it at the cross, and we went searching for a better life and a better message. And I also suggest that until we return to the cross in repentance and unconditional surrender, we will continue to drift aimlessly in a world of darkness, with our only difference being some muffled lights that shine insignificantly under an array of temporal baskets.

The cross may be offensive, but it the only way to serve Christ.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Eternal Kingdom

Supporting war on any level is unchristian and undermines the spiritual essence of the Kingdom of God we profess to serve.

Rick Frueh circa A.D. 2009
A Call to be Different
A Call to be Jesus

In the movie “Consipracy” Dr. Wilhelm Kritzinger objects to the Final Solution, the Holocaust. He tells General Heydrich this story:

A man had grown up loving his mother dearly. But his father was extremely abusive and this man grew up to hate his father. His mother died when he was 30 but the man did not weep for her, he just treasured her memory. Ten years later his father died and this same man wept uncontrollably.

You see, the man had let his hatred for his father almost become his motivation in life and now that motivation was gone. His life was now empty.

I Pet.2: 9 -But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;

Let the followers of Jesus Christ be different and peculiar in this generation. Army doctors who knew Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, said he was “belligerent, defensive and argumentative in his frequent discussions of his Muslim faith”. They also remarked that “his behavior, while at times perceived as intense and combative, was not unlike the zeal of others with strong religious views”.

It is profoundly sad that many unbelievers who read that description of Hasan would equate him with some Christians they know. It is true that we can isolate certain events in the life of Christ and formulate a depiction of His approach and demeanor centered on those events. But it also true that the overwhelming essence of the life of Jesus was one of grace, humility, and redemption. One only read the Sermon on the Mount to be presented with major principles of self sacrifice and self denial.

Who are we? Are we moral warriors or cross bearers? Are we called to fight for our earthly rights or are we called to suffer persecution? Look around and listen as professing believers write scathing articles about “liberal” politicians and support their aggressiveness with a bold faced lie that suggests America is a gift from God. Listen as they murmur and complain about anything and everything that does not go their way from the President to healthcare to taxes. And if you are honest, how can that be considered compliant with the New Testament commandments for a disciple of Jesus Christ? It is not.

We are called to a peculiar life that seems at odds with the hustle and bustle of earthly issues and battles. Our humility should make us vulnerable in a world of defensiveness and aggression; however the weapons of the Spirit go against the wisdom of this world. The caustic venom spewed by some believers is counterproductive to any genuine manifestation of Christ. We should never allow the darkness to choose the field of engagement, but we should live a life of brilliant salt that shines redemption high atop a mountain called Calvary and not Sinai.

I fear Christianity has dwindled down to written theologies that are resolute in their effort to remain Biblically accurate, but continue to drift further away in its personal reflection of Jesus Himself through the living epistles who profess His name. But we are called to BE different, not just believe differently. And this difference should not be microscopic; it should be profound and startling in its observation. I continue to struggle much more in my manifestation of Him than I do with my statement of faith, and none of us should feel content with that situation.

Is anyone even listening? How many believers have stepped down from the stage, taken a seat, and watched and listened to the interactive play among the community of believers? In many ways we have become a caricature and a cartoon that behaves in seriously flawed ways. When Wild E. Coyote got a rock dropped upon him that was ten times his size it was funny because it was so absurd. But when believers crush others with their word weapons we seem to find that valiant. Does anyone even look for self righteousness anymore? We understand what the word humility means, however its practice lies with the Holy Grail.

There is everything right with defending the gospel and confronting those who are dismantling and changing the path to eternal life. However there is nothing right with attacking individuals for everything from moral failure to political perspectives. We are followers and imitators of the God man Jesus Christ and our lives are supposed to reflect and project Who He was and is. We are to be different in a world of different shades of darkness. Our uniqueness cannot be some moral platform shared by conservative unbelievers, and in fact our lives must be boldly consistent in their humble love and graciousness. We must be Jesus.

Think about those words: We must be Jesus. The weight of that thought is staggering in the natural to say nothing of the supernatural. I can be bold. I can be understanding. I can be forgiving. I can be judgmental. I can be angry. I can be compassionate. I can be gracious. I can be harsh. And most of all I find it easy to be myself.

But I find it very difficult to be Jesus.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pick Your Abomination

In April of 2008 Ingrid Schlueter lambasted Ravi Zacharius for writing a prayer for the National Day of Prayer that did not use the name of Jesus. Her exact words were:

“According to the truth of God’s Word, the entire counsel of God, we do not pray in “God’s Holy Name” to God the Father. We pray to God the Father in the name of His only Son, Jesus Christ, who alone provides us access to the Father.” The entire post is here. The post was presented in the category of abominations and false teachings.

But today she posts a prayer construct given by George Washington in this post. You may notice that there is absolutely no mention of Jesus anywhere, and in fact, Washington uses generic verbiage that includes the phrase “that great and glorious Being”. No mention of redemption, the cross, the gospel, or the name of Jesus Christ. And President Washington asks for God to “protect and guide all nations and sovereigns” and with this caveat “especially such as have shewn kindness unto us”. Real New Testament Christianity.

I get it. Ravi is an abomination while George is a wonderful intercessor.

Again we see the worship of men and the “accusing and excusing” that emanates from having a nation as your idol. Hypocrisy is often presented in shades of red, white, and blue, sometimes offered by modern day representatives of Betsy Ross. (I couldn’t resist. lol )

Sunday, November 22, 2009


As I watched the advertisement for the movie “The Patriot” I could not but help wonder: What does it say about believers when we find exhilaration at America winning the Revolutionary War but most never find objectionable the fact that Mel Gibson’s character teaches his youngest sons to kill?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Classic Irony

The evangelical right is now bothered by the evangelical left getting involved with politics. Let us not forget that Ted Haggard was the president of the NAE and was a spearhead of religious politics – on the right. And the religious left is drawn to the political left just as the religious right is drawn to the political right, but SURPRISE - all politics is wrong, kinda like all war is wrong. If we professing believers only had a God who we could trust, notwithstanding our many verbal claims that we do, perhaps a lot less things would bother us and a lot more things would get done for the true Kingdom.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Who are the Real Soldiers for Christ
Many of us as believing followers of Jesus Christ happen to live in a country called America. As such we are to obey the laws of the land, and if any law is against the teachings of our faith we are called to obey God rather than man. But as much as we can we should strive to live in peace and humility, modeling and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
For the most part we have the freedom here to share the gospel as the Spirit directs us. To be sure all of us do not use that freedom to preach and share as often as we should. But in recent times there has arisen a Christian sect that positions themselves squarely within the political theatre and are prepared to both be offended and to organize some kind of assault at the slightest hint of persecution, or what passes as persecution these days. And with that structure in place almost anything the government does is met with umbrage and a sense of outraged entitlement.
Just recently the government desires to pass a hate crimes bill which is supposed to make any crime committed against someone because of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation of a more serious nature. It seems as if the motive is correct. But some Christians are all up in arms about it since, for one reason, they believe they may be restricted in their speech and preaching. Of course that interpretation of this bill is another opportunity to express outrage, even if it turns out to be inaccurate. But let us investigate further into what we as believers are called to even when the laws of the land are not what we would desire (which is most of the time).
Here is a news report about preachers going to Capitol Hill to protest this bill since they believe it will restrict them in teaching and preaching the Bible. Now these preachers and other bloggers like you know who are tossing and turning in their sleep over this hate crime bill. Of course it must seem peculiar that followers of Jesus are against laws about hate crimes, but there is something even more disturbing. These Christians are bemoaning the fact that they may not be able to say that homosexuality is wrong. That interpretation is dubious at best and is in the same neighborhood as “Madeline Murray O’Hare is getting all religious programs banned from the airwaves”. Some Christians love to cry “Wolf!”
Let us assume for the moment that the government passed a bill that stated no one could preach the gospel anymore. What would be our response? Would we protest and write our representatives? Would we call Obama the antichrist? Would we wail and bemoan our persecution and would we quote the “founding fathers” as proof of the Christian roots of America? Or should we do as did Daniel when after he had heard the decree that no one should pray to any God but King Darius lest he be thrown to the lions? Daniel went right away to the upper chamber in his house and with the windows opened he prayed to Jehovah as he did three times a day.
Where was the outrage? Where was Daniel’s petition? Where was his impassioned “we’re losing our rights” speech? The principle is this: If the government passes a law that restricts your expression as a believer then we are called to humbly do what God has commanded and be willing to suffer the consequences for His name’s sake. All these “The British are coming!” blogs are nothing more than complaining forums and in fact bemoan the very persecution Christ told us would come and Peter said we should endure it with patience and humility. Some Christians lead a lifestyle of complaining about their circumstances, even in the midst of unimaginable wealth and prosperity.
The greatest thing that ever happened to the Chinese church was governmental persecution. But we in America deem it our inalienable right to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which is the humanist manifesto. We as believing followers have no rights, just privileges. And one of the greatest privileges that can be afforded a follower of Jesus Christ is to suffer persecution for His name sake. Why then do so many complain and murmur about the smallest of issues including wearing a “One Nation Under God” pin? Do we even know what genuine persecution is, and are we willing to suffer any indignity for Christ’s sake with humility and joy?
And some blogs are information stations that do nothing but inform the continually outraged masses of the current set of torturous persecutions. We have morphed into a multitude of squawkers who resist the slightest suffering and lean on a constitution rather than the Supreme Sovereign. How will the world ever see Jesus in us if we continue to meld into the faceless crowd of political lobbyists, all of which clamor for their particular issue? When we use the same weapons as does the kingdom of darkness can we expect people to ask us about the hope that lies within us; the hope that should guide our attitude and lifestyle?
Here is an account of authentic Christianity in the face of genuine persecution:
In the winter of 320 AD, the Emperor Licinius, who was emporer of the East, broke his agreement with Constantine, Emperor of the West, in the Edict of Milan to end the persecution of Christians. Lucinius ordered all Roman soldiers to renounce Christianity and to offer a sacrifice to the Roman gods. Licinius was persecuting Christians at this time. His edict reached the Thundering Legion at Sabaste, and the order was passed down to the legionaries. Forty Christians in the legion withstood threats, beatings, and torture and refused to obey the edict, choosing instead to obey a higher authority:
"You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them"
In retaliation, the legion marched the men to a frozen lake where they were ordered to remove their armor and clothing and stand naked, as a form of torture to death, on a frozen lake. The legion lit a large fire on the shore with a warm bath and food to tempt the Christians to make the pagan sacrifice, renounce their Christian faith, and save their lives.
The commander told them, "You may come ashore when you are ready to deny your faith."
The men began to pray,
"O Lord, 40 wrestlers have come forth to fight for Thee.
Grant that 40 wrestlers may gain the victory!"
The mother of the youngest legionary was present, and she enticed her son to abandon the others. There was a centurion named Sempronius on the shore at the warm house. On the ice, the remaining Christian legionaries continued to cry out,
"O Lord, 40 wrestlers have come forth to fight for thee. Grant that 40 wrestlers may gain the victory!"
In response, Centurion Sempronius confessed Jesus as Christ, removed his armor, weapons, and clothing, and joined the 39 remaining Christians on the lake. The next morning the Forty Martyrs of Sabaste were found on the ice and forever recorded their faithful resistance in the annals of history.
Notice they called themselves “wrestlers” even though they did not resist suffering for Christ! They knew that suffering persecution for the sake of our Blessed Lord and Savior is a sacred calling and an opportunity to preach Christ powerfully through their triumphant victory gained through the prism of suffering, and in this case, death. How holy is this account!! Does it not bring conviction to our hearts, we who murmur with the slightest irritation? Against this true story and others like it, how can we claim the same Christ as did they when we are engaged in resisting the smallest amount of cultural discomfort and we confront it with outrage and spiritual pique?
And when the centurion saw their courage and their surrendered will, he became a follower of Jesus Christ and his first act of worship was his death. What do the governmental centurions see in us today? What would ever make them evaluate the claims of Christ when his followers balk at inconvenience and are unwilling to bear the consequences of spiritual persecution? Those that walk in darkness see that so many Christians are just like they are, and just have a different point of view but surely not a different way of life.
We are pitiful as we set about to set ourselves as offspring of the true martyrs. But when you hear about some hate crimes bill, overcome hate with the only weapon that we have:
The love of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Mystery of Deception

Webster defines deception as - the fact or condition of being deceived.

I thought I knew what deception was, at least in the general sense. It is a lie, disguised as truth, and that attracts people in such a way that they believe a lie. You usually assign deception to the gullible, or the susceptible, or the uneducated. They would seem to be the easiest targets of deception.

But I was unaware of the strength and depth of deception until I saw it unvarnished in the internet world. And this deception captures true believers who have a working knowledge of the Scriptures and who once embraced, and even championed, the truth. I do not speak of lesser issues, however important, but I speak of the very white hot core of theology, namely redemption. How does a sinner get saved and what is the gospel are the non-negotiable truths that must authenticate a minister and ministry. And this truth must be more than some tacit statement of faith, this truth must be woven unmistakably and forcefully throughout the writings and messages of the ministry.

One cannot just print some nice sounding theology in a statement of faith that seems to be orthodox, and then take license to speak and preach everything but the gospel, and in fact, speak and preach things contrary to the gospel of redemption. And the Biblical veracity of a preacher’s beliefs must not fall exclusively on the statement of faith, there must be irrefutable evidence of that truth in his teachings as well. A statement of faith without works is dead. How authentic would it be for a college class to advertise itself as a class that teaches the way to get to the Moon by spaceship, but the class only discusses things here on Earth? And when someone asks if this really was a class that teaches the way to get to the Moon, the other classmates point to the class description in the college advertisement.

See,” say the classmates, “it says right here that this class is to teach the way to get to the Moon.”

Yes,” you say, “but he doesn’t teach anything about getting to the Moon, he only teaches about the Earth.”

Well,” the classmates respond, “you must listen real hard to discover anything about getting to the Moon, and in fact, the professor assumes he is speaking to people who already know how to get to the Moon, so what’s the point?”

And when faced with that scenario, or something similar, the truth becomes obvious: The professor is not teaching people how to get to the Moon. In fact, one might question if that professor actually knows how to get to the Moon. The same can be said with preachers who teach about anything and everything but never teach the clear gospel message, much less give an impassioned plea for sinners to come to Christ. And when that void is pointed out to those who are “in his class”, they say he is teaching those who already know the gospel and it would only be redundant. But they maintain he believes the gospel and as proof they offer the statement of faith.

That kind of deception centers on the idolization of man at the expense of the truth of God’s Word. Believers who have appreciated some of the new and avante garde teachings that are called “emergent”, get connected to a man and that connection can quickly become unhealthy and counterproductive. And the departure from the gospel is not instantaneous and startling; it happens slowly and over a period of time.

Heb.2:1 - Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

A preacher usually doesn’t become a heretic overnight, it happens very slowly and often the deception occurs in him first. In an attempt to relate, which is not a bad thing, combined with a discontent with the old methods of communication and Scriptural interpretation, the preacher begins to search for the new and the innovative as it concerns truth. It begins with innovative perspectives on truth, usually juxtaposed on the many vulnerabilities of orthodox entrenchments, and eventually it progresses to a departure from truth rather than a more lucent and understandable communication.

And along the way these men pick up many types of followers. They can be the disenfranchised, the intellectual, the searching, the liberal, and an array of lost people looking for a religion that fits their mold. And as is the case with other social, political, and religious genres, once a person becomes enthralled with a man it is most difficult for him to see anything wrong with his teachings. When a person assumes a preacher is genuine, learned, and orthodox, he will process everything that preacher teaches through that perspective and he will hear and read everything he teaches with the most charitable orthodoxy, even taking the most obvious heresy and stretching it with a tortured kinship to Biblical truth. And those who question the preacher’s teachings provide fuel and energy for his defenders since they take up an offense for that preacher. Of course those who are vicious and demeaning are not productive either.

Those are, in my opinion, some of the mechanics of this deception. But I continue to wonder and have questions as well. How can a believer diminish the sufferings of Christ’s cross and present a bloodless gospel? How can a ministry be considered Christian if it vacates the teaching and preaching of the cross? I once heard a friend who leans emergent say, “The resurrection is more important than the cross!” Why would someone say that, as if you could place levels of value on the gospel events? The obvious reason is that most emergents devalue the cross just by its absence in their teachings as well as their theology. And that, my friends, is the pinnacle of deception.

How can we devalue and diminish the cross of our Blessed Savior? How can we take those wondrous and mysterious sufferings and count them as just an equal part of the Biblical narrative? All the millions of gallons of animal blood that was shed under the law of Moses shouted forward to the blood that was shed by God’s Perfect Lamb! Are we going to politely acknowledge that redemptive slaughter in our “statement of faith” and then move on to things more relevant and refreshing, thereby revealing the true nature of our perspective of the cross?

And what shall we say about our brothers and sisters before us whose blood and ashes testify of a level of commitment to that cross? Tradition tells us Peter so valued the cross of Christ he requested to be crucified upside down so as not to be confused with the cross of Golgotha. The evangelical land upon which we walk is soaked in the blood of the martyrs. They were persecuted not because of acts of kindness toward others, but because they would not renounce Jesus and His cross. And when we refuse to teach and carry that cross in our messages, we shame the memory of those martyrs and we do despite to the Spirit of Christ Himself. It is a deep and profound deception.

I am open to a discussion of how we treat and reach the gay community. I am open to a discussion of new ways to evangelize. I am open to a discussion of different styles of music. I am open to a discussion of church service constructs. We should all be open to the Spirit as it concerns fringe issues. But the firewall begins and ends at the gospel. There can be no discussion about redemption and the exclusivity of Christ and the absolute necessity of a personal born again experience. We will never trade the blood of Abel’s offering for the product of Cain’s hands. And yet sincere believers are being swept away from the blood of Christ through the enticing words of men’s wisdom.

I would welcome a challenge to a more perfect emulation of Jesus. I would welcome the rod of correction for all of us as it concerns our too often neglect of the poor and needy around the world. Go ahead and point out, to our shame, that we do not seek to exhibit those words in red. Let us open that dialogue and ask God to awaken us all through repentance and a renewed heart to seek Christ. But as soon as you tamper with the gospel, and as soon as you elevate those works as redemptive, and as soon as I cannot find the true gospel in your words, then you can count me out.

I used to think that the emergent movement sought to bring the church into a more living expression of Christ while scrupulously retaining the gospel message. No one should think that anymore. And the tragedy is that genuine and sincere believers are being deceived, and true to the very nature of deception, they do not realize that they are deceived.

This is no game of doctrinal chess, and this deception has eternal consequences. Remaining humble and non-descript about our own struggles of discipleship while openly confronting and exposing these deceptions will ultimately be the real challenge. The Lord Jesus doesn’t need our help, but He commands our obedience and faithfulness. These are trying times in which we live, and there is an unseen battle that rages with ferocious sophistication, using nuanced mendaciousness to appear as something that they are not. These deceptive spirits will showcase the harsh self righteousness of some as proof that their brand of orthodoxy is not Christian and against that backdrop they will urge people to conclude that the new truths are of God.

The seriousness of these present events cannot be overstated. Believers will waste their time on worthless political back and forths while the urgency of God’s gospel remains a foundation rather than the eternal spearhead by which the church engages the lost world. Love without the cross is an eternal lie and spiritual murder. When we discuss the gospel and its metamorphosis there can be no melodrama and no exaggeration. Life and death are at stake, and those who accommodate are complicit. We will all give an account one day for how we addressed those who are teaching eternal death dressed up as redemption. Lethargy is sin and silence is being a passive enabler.

The days when God chose prophets and spoke to them exclusively are gone. Every believer with a Bible must be God’s mouthpiece. Humility must be in our spirit, but within that humbleness must be forthrightness and even confrontation. All of us come short of what we should and could be for the Lord Jesus Christ, but that still does not provide an alibi for ignorance or silence. In fact, a loving and sincere warning based upon God’s Word and not the accuracy of your own expressions of that truth is the essence of humility. Do we care about sinners? Do we care about Christ? Do we care about the cross? If we do care then we cannot remain as silent spectators and hope for the best. We must rise up with humble boldness and preach and live the truths of redemption.

Perhaps some will be enlightened to this deception and come out from among them. I believe, should Jesus tarry, that there may be a growing number of “ex-emergents” who will give testimony to the delivering power of the Spirit of God.

Pray for them and pray for yourselves as well.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fiery Trials

What American Christians call “fiery trials” is an affront to God, defiles true martyrs both dead and alive, and is an astonishingly novel way to exhibit clandestine self righteousness.

Rick Frueh circa A.D. 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Human Condition

The human condition. It is completely impossible for the human mind to envision the concept of holiness. We often settle for a “without sin” definition and with that we have constructed some point of reference around which we can wrap our minds. Although that may suffice for the purposes of systematic theology, it is a pitiful and powerless mental safe house. It affords us the luxury of a discussion without the necessity of understanding the subject. Go ahead and provide some verbal or written outlet that presumes to broach the subject of holiness and the first step you take is usually a step backwards camouflaged as a step forward.

Holiness is a mystery only unraveled by Him Who is holy. God did not achieve holiness, He is holy. And we, as blind spectators, dialogue among us as if holiness were our own field of expertise. If we cannot grasp the concept, what hubris is it to explain the reality? The unholy sit at the gates of truth and bandy about the profound mysteries as if they were easily within our ability to unpack and present on some flannel graph presentation. Taking the Taj Mahal and reducing it to an Appalachian lean to, and using that lean to as a conduit through which we can see and appreciate the glory of the Taj Mahal, is hopeless. Let us understand holiness best by understanding that we are powerless to understand it.

Against that insurmountable mountain, let us now understand the human condition as it compares to God’s holiness. We, as a race, are lost in an incomprehensible condition of absolute depravity, both as a status and in practice. There are no beings that compare with humans as it concerns evil imaginations, deeds, and self righteousness. The Scriptures rightly describe us as “inventors of evil things”. The human race was not satisfied with exercising the panorama of evil already afforded us; we must invent more and more evil with which to exhibit who we really are.

We are not just adrift in a sea of evil, we are the architects of more powerful engines that carry us farther and more quickly downstream toward more and more perfect expressions of evil, all the while maintaining the mirage of philanthropic compassion and a pursuit of righteousness. What a breathtaking deception! What a piece of work is a man indeed! And in order to divert attention from our own deeds, we amplify the horrific deeds of others. As long as we seem far from being Charles Manson we suggest a more diluted essence of evil and on some level a milder form of depravity.

But as soon as the hint of holiness enters the room we are all undone equally and without a vestige of good, to say nothing of righteousness. Holiness reduces us all to what we really are, rebels and self serving creatures determined to have everything serve our carnal needs. Our minds are imagery cesspools that replay and create mental movies of all kinds of wickedness and savagery. Leaving aside the lie we tell ourselves about ourselves, our imaginations and thought processes envision everything through prisms of subjective judgments. Sitting in the front row, we review and critique the human play as if we alone have motives fair and bright. Everyone else is subject to evil surmise and the subjective evaluation of our own conjecture concerning their motives and hearts. In short, we have improved upon Copernicus by making ourselves the center of everything.

The human race murders. Some murder for profit while others murder by compunction. Some murder for greed and others murder for land. Some murder only adults while others murder children, born and unborn. Some are satisfied with one murder while others murder as a lifestyle. Some murder with their own hands while others are buffered by guns and bombs. And the entire human race are serial murders, executing many in the killing fields of their own minds. Oh yes, we are all placed at the scene of the crime called murder.

This spiritual condition is so vile and corrupt we are called simply “dead”. It is impossible from that vantage point to see with any clarity the contemptible debauchery that sin represents to a kingdom of righteousness. Sin is not just a kingdom infraction; it is active wickedness designed to undermine the foundations of that kingdom. Sin tears at the basic fabric of God’s kingdom and represents a death fissure in the foundation of holiness. Sin cannot be diluted and there can be no spiritual negotiations that make an allowance for sin in God’s kingdom. Sin is fatal.

When we are outside of Christ we are dead men walking. On the outside we appear alive and well while on the inside we are spiritual terrorists continually looking for ways to rebel against the King. When Adam sinned the spiritual breach was eternal and judgment was immediate, comprehensive, and eternal. God explains it to us in terms that we can grasp on some level, but to understand eternal death is far beyond our capacity to assimilate. Hopeless, helpless, lost, and dead…that is the human condition. Do not attempt to euphemize our plight, for in so doing you will minimize the cost of redemption. Words are poor vehicles for carrying the weight of our spiritual condition and only the Spirit of God can convict and persuade us, but He can never fully enlighten us concerning the eternal peril in which we stand outside of Christ.

So here we lie.
Next scene: Enter grace.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Suffering as a Witness

Perhaps the greatest non-verbal witness for Jesus Christ is when a believer’s suffering produces a humble and grateful joy.

Rick Frueh circa A.D. 2009

Sunday, November 08, 2009

No Wonder Sinners Don't Like Saints

Jesus! What a friend for sinners!Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,He, my Savior, makes me whole.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!Hallelujah! What a friend!

Saving, helping, keeping, loving,He is with me to the end.

He was called a friend of sinners, and He was accused of partying with known sinners. He allowed a promiscuous woman to worship Him in public, and He consented to her emotional and demonstrative act of adoration. She anoints Jesus on His head and feet with expensive ointment and then dries it with her hair; all this while openly weeping before Him. That is very uncomfortable to the modern ecclesiastical palate, since we must remain subdued and with a semblance of decorum in our churches. And what is even more disturbing, both to us and the Pharisees that witnessed this extraordinary event, is that this woman had a reputation around the city.
She was a “sinner” and the Pharisees, the ODMs of their day, knew it, of course, and were quick to archive her history. Jesus, though, knew their hearts and quickly pointed out that this woman was expressing her love for Christ based upon the greatness of His forgiveness toward her. It would be nice to assume that ever since this woman met Jesus that she never stumbled again and certainly never committed the same kind of sin that was her lifestyle before. That would be a nice scenario, however the Scriptures do not give us any insight to that, and in fact, if her life had already changed so dramatically at that time perhaps the community would have been aware of it.
Regardless, Jesus received her worship and made it completely clear that He was absolutely at ease in the company of sinners like her. The only people with whom Jesus was uncomfortable were religious leaders who were in the business of cataloguing people’s sins and separating themselves from the downtrodden and sin oppressed masses. The Lord could not abide such high browed religiosity and they received His rebukes from time to time. But to be sure, the Sinless One welcomed the company of sinners.
Fast forward to the church today. Is the church a friend to sinners in this generation and in this culture? Are we so secure in God’s grace that we allow ourselves the vulnerability to love and reach out to the lost, regardless of their sinful lifestyle? Read the internet and see the heart of the church revealed in some quarters. Much of the church’s insatiable need to judge cannot be satisfied with just fellow believers; many must roam the darkened landscape searching for sinners and their sins with which to feast upon and offer it to others. Rather than being their redemptive friends, they heap judgment and mockery upon their heads. Not content with the condemnation that already rests upon them, these vultures must amplify and add to their hopelessness.
Do you wonder why sinners do not like many Christians? Let us look through the eyes of a lost sinner and see what they must see.

*If I were a lost poor person and I heard professing believers aggressively be against healthcare for people like me, I would not like Christians.
**But if I was a lost poor person and I saw professing believers aggressively helping me, I would like Christians.

*If I were a lost single mother of three who had an abortion and I heard professing believers call me a murderer, I would not like Christians.
**But if I were a lost single mother of three who had an abortion and I heard professing believers tell me Jesus offers forgiveness, I would like Christians.

*If I were a lost gay person and I heard professing believers say God hates me and is going to send me to hell, I would not like Christians.
**But if I were a lost gay person and I heard professing believers say God loves me and gave Himself for people like me, I would like Christians.

*If I were a lost Muslim and I heard professing believers castigate me and my religion, I would not like Christians.
**But if I were a lost Muslim and I heard professing believers say that Jesus love Muslims, I would like Christians.

*If I were a lost young teenage girl and I heard professing believers assail Miley Cyrus, I would not like Christians.
**But if I were a lost young teenage girl and I heard professing believers tell me Jesus understands and offers hope, I would like Christians.

*If I were a lost liberal Democrat and I heard professing believers attack me as un-American, I would not like Christians.
**But if I were a lost liberal Democrat and I heard professing believers say that Jesus takes no political sides, I would like Christians.

*If I were a lost illegal alien and I heard professing believers say I should be arrested, I would not like Christians.
**But if I were a lost illegal alien and I heard professing believers say that they loved me anyway, I would like Christians.

*If I were a lost pacifist and I heard professing believers unashamedly support war, I would not like Christians.
**But if I were a lost pacifist and I heard professing believers separate themselves from violence, I would like Christians.

*If I were a lost black person and I heard professing believers excoriate President Obama, I would not like Christians.
**But if I were a lost black person and I heard professing believers speak words of acceptance and racial reconciliation, I would like Christians.

*If I were a lost Mexican and I heard professing believers claim God loves America best, I would not like Christians.
**But if I were a lost Mexican and I heard professing believers claim God loves all people equally, I would like Christians.

*If I were a lost store clerk that was having a bad day and a believer reported me, I would not like Christians.
**But if I were a lost store clerk and having a bad day and a believer showed me grace, I would like Christians.

I can hear some now. “We are not supposed to get people to like us.” No? We are supposed to be light not heat. We are supposed to be salt not cyanide. We are supposed to represent the Redeemer, not the executioner. We must make it clear to the world that we stand upon the ground of grace and not law, and that through no personal effort have we been redeemed. We should model the Good Samaritan and not the moral police. But if you believe that God only chose a few sinners to be saved, and that God makes them believe, then how a Christian acts is irrelevant to evangelism.
With the way some speak and act, it is quite understandable that many unbelievers resist Christ based largely on what they know of some believers. In so many ways the church has taught a model of Jesus Christ that is inconsistent with the life and character of the Savior and the teachings of the New Testament. So often we have projected spiritual and moral hubris and repelled sinners rather than loving them. Harshness and condemnation among professing believers is one level of sin, but harshness and condemnation of lost sinners is significantly more egregious.
We should not be amazed that lost people do not like believers. Have we helped them? Have we eaten with them? Have we approached them in grace and humility and showed them God’s love? Have we looked beyond their sin and with their souls in mind have we given our lives for them? Or have we amplified their sin and condemned them, all the while lip synching the gospel? Oh the depths that depravity will plumb, even the residual effects of such depravity in a sinner saved by grace. Even while standing exclusively upon the rock of grace, we have so often offered the ladder of law and commanded the sinner to climb.
In the end, the Spirit of God desires to draw sinners to Christ.

And we must be Jesus to them, not Moses.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Called to Suffer for His Sake

Perhaps the greatest non-verbal witness for Jesus Christ is when a believer’s suffering produces a humble and grateful joy.

Rom.8:17-18 - And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

II Cor.1:5-7 - For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.

And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.

Phil.3:10 - That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

I Pet.4:12-14 - Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

Acts 5:40-42 - And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

II Cor.6:3-10 - Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,

In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; By pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,

By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;

As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;

As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

Phil.1:28-30 - And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.

For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

I Thess.3:3- That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.

For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.

II Tim.2:11-12 - It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:

If we suffer, we shall also reign with him:

I Pet.:18-24 - Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.

For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.

For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

I Pet.3:14 - 17 - But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

II Cor.4:15-18 - For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.


This is not a post; this is a message to the church. I have no credentials but God’s Spirit and I claim no special revelation apart from that which is clear in Scripture and illuminated by the Spirit of God. But this message can change the spiritual direction of some if they sense the Spirit’s enlightenment, and let it never be that anyone would change because of the persuasiveness of my words. But there just may be those out there who sense that something is wrong in the church apart from the usual battles concerning the gospel. Somewhere we have taken a detour and everyday much of the church moves further away from Christ, even as some stand for Biblical truth.

There came a time when the Deceiver presented his case to the church. He suggested strongly to us that God desired us to stand up for our rights and be bold in our culture. This boldness, Satan suggested, must recoil at persecution and resist any suffering whether it be political, financial, or even spiritual. This philosophy has taught us to attack back when we are attacked by the world, and we have learned how to complain and murmur when persecution and suffering is brought upon us.

No longer do we endure patiently for Christ’s sake and, in fact, we are vigilant for any hint of inconvenience, much less persecution, and we quickly and aggressively challenge anything that in context is just a mild irritant. We are ready to exhibit outrage when we perceive that “Christianity” is under “attack”, and without hesitation we rise to castigate our tormentors and organize campaigns to confront these unwarranted afflictions. Suffering is foreign to us and we refuse to receive it unchallenged. The church demands to be respected and heard in any issue, be it moral or political, that she deems necessary. While Christ was called “that fellow” and worse yet “Beelzebub”, we renounce anyone who would dare assail us in any manner.

The world has forgotten the picture of the Suffering Servant since the church has long since discarded that tired and worn caricature. People now see Jesus as a moral crusader who spoils the enemy’s camp with caustic words, political leverage, and a host of soldiers who demand their rights in this earthly kingdom. Silence is not an option and patience is now weakness. Suffering to the glory of God is completely out of vogue in this new and political ecclesiastical atmosphere. Revival comes every four years in November, and after the election the church either declares victory or begins a four year campaign of bellyaching and evil speaking.

Humility has been lost long ago and self righteousness is now called “standing for truth”. And when you read the Scriptures I gave and discern the principle teaching that is open and obvious, we should ask ourselves how we ever morphed into a cultural machine rather than a dramatic redemptive light embedded in a world of darkness. The distinctive characteristics of the church, those reenactments of the Lord Jesus, have been pushed aside. And the cross, the pinnacle of Christlikeness, is now just a tenant of our faith, neatly printed in our statements of faith, gospel tracts, and systematic theologies. The sufferings of that event are long gone, and the church seems profoundly uninterested in replicating them on any level.

We do not want sickness, we do not want poverty, we do not want shame, we do not want to be marginalized, we do not want humiliation, we do not want persecution, and we do not want to suffer. And we can complain with the unsaved when general financial or healthcare sufferings come to all of us, but when we are singled out for criticism as believers we will burn the bridges and return fire for fire. There is nothing different or remarkable about us since those in darkness see how we react when attacked or inconvenienced; we react just like they do. If you complain, it is not suffering.

But these are not the commandments we were given, and these are not the manifestations of the One we profess to follow. In fact, we were told to expect persecution and suffering. And we were told that they are miraculous opportunities to demonstrate the reality of a kingdom not of this world and a King who is above all. The evil one is quite satisfied with our tit for tat games, but he is terrified should we ever seriously take upon the lowly and meek yoke of our Redeemer. Instead of the church being the unchallenged example of power through humility, most people today assign that to Gandhi. How pitiful.

I have heard people attempt to dilute this teaching and make room for the flesh by asking, “Are we just supposed to be doormats?” That sentence represents an attitude that is blind to our calling, and in most cases we are indeed made to be suffering doormats. Is the cross better than a doormat? All our lives we have been raised in a culture of competition and bravado, and the church has significantly bought into that philosophy. We cannot compete on the battlefield of western self esteem and power shifts. Our power is made perfect in weakness and our strength is in Him. Our light is diffused in earthly battles and Christ as brought down when we leave our calling for self platitudes of moral courage. It requires the greatest of courage to deny ourselves and allow His gospel to radiate, especially when it is so tempting to confront evil through arguments and political savvy. And when our so called “rights” have been removed, we must view it as an opportunity for a greater and more perfect revelation of Him who laid down His rights.

Does true spiritual boldness come through the same venues as does earthly boldness? Or does spiritual boldness take on a unique manifestation, one that defies human reasoning and that has no logical chance to accomplish anything? Are we to throw our hats into the constant harangue of moral and political disputes, or is our calling dramatically different than the accepted norm? Somehow we have lost the will to suffer for His sake, and we have redesigned a suffering construct that allows us to feel persecuted about moral and political issues, many times because believers are just as verbally violent as their unsaved counter parts.

I do not have the faith to expect the church as a whole to awaken to the pitiful expression of Christ we have now become. The evangelical machine with all its nationalistic and political accoutrements will continue to march to some mirage they call victory. But there just may be some individual believers who have had enough. And in these moments of frustration, they can reassess the entire Christian experience juxtaposed against the teachings of the New Testament. But this will not be easy since the Spirit may lead us into areas of startling discomfort and profound redirection. And there will be those around us, some very committed to Christ, who will attempt to dilute and dissuade us from this journey back into the Scriptures.

And our flesh will rise up and resist any significant change. And if our flesh cannot keep us from our task, it will fill us with judgment and self righteousness and a feeling of spiritual superiority; all of which is completely at odds with our pursuit. For a start I suggest reading the verses I printed at the beginning. Meditate on them and read the chapters from which they came. Ask the Spirit to sweep away entrenched thoughts and beliefs you have that are road blocks to being like Jesus. And when you find teachings that are thoroughly against what you have been led to believe, then repent and begin to believe the truth. And in all things pray, pray, and pray some more.

This is still a journey and not a destination. The reward will be the journey itself, and the glory will be the extent to which He shines through you. Stumbling will sometimes be steps forward, and frustration will be learning. And there may be an instant, perhaps a startling instant, when you consider the thought that this modern expression of Christianity is in many ways a contradiction to the New Testament itself. Never leave the redemption that is found in Christ alone. Never leave this so great salvation that is by faith alone. Never leave the gospel of Jesus Christ. But place your life upon the overhead projector, place Christ on top of your life, turn the projector of the Spirit on, and look at the screen and see how much of you is projected and how much of Him is projected.

And when you see it…
start to make the necessary adjustments with joy, humility,
and a constant vision of Him on your horizon.
But be prepared to endure the greatest suffering of all.
The denial of yourself.

Friday, November 06, 2009


Once you accept violence as a righteous means to a righteous end in some cases, then violent people everywhere only differ with you as to which cases are righteous.

Rick Frueh circa A.D. 2009
Another Emerging Church

There are teachings and teachers who reinvent the Person of Jesus Christ so dramatically that their portrayal of Christ is no longer authentic. There are those who deny His deity and make Him just a good man. Some deny His literal death and resurrection and make Him and His life a metaphor for life principles. There are some who deny He even existed at all. We call those teachings apostate since they have left the teachings of Scripture and no longer present the true gospel, or they have burdened the gospel core with so many other unnecessary artifacts that it has become another religion and not Christianity, even while the words that would make them Christian are buried deep within their teachings and can be excavated if given enough time and energy.

I am not attempting to be melodramatic here, but I have seen a shocking increase in ministries and blogs that have left the gospel almost entirely. The ones of which I speak would be orthodox in their statements of faith, but they have completely left the gospel building. And just as they would accuse men like Rick Warren of having one thing in his statement of faith but practicing something quite different, so do these blogs.

The specific trend I have seen are blogs that claim to be Christian but now have become secular stations that deal with moral and right wing political issues. They can no longer be considered Christian, and in fact, they have left Christianity for another gospel and another message. They are consumed with political issues and not just issues of abortion or gay rights, but monetary issues and taxes and illegal aliens, all of which they project in a decidedly unchristian tone, and in some cases, an unchristian position.

It is sad to see how the western church has succumbed to seducing spirits and left their first love. And this current propensity can be seen even among those who call themselves “discernment ministries”. The sirens of politics are being successful in luring ministries away from Jesus Christ and His redemption into the constant harangue of carnal battles over positions about almost everything. These blogs chaperone elected officials and are quick to pounce upon their votes and positions with little or no weight given to their spiritual standing or profession of faith. In essence they critique people and issues as if there were not an eternal stake in their lives.

This stems primarily from an unwholesome love of a particular country and a complaining spirit, as well as a rejection of the sovereignty of God, at least in large part. But it has slowly led unsuspecting readers into becoming entangled with the affairs of this world, compromising their testimony for Jesus Christ. Paul warned, “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier”. What affairs was Paul referring to? Since the Scriptures command us to work and do all the things that apply to surviving in this life, Paul must have meant getting involved in the schemes of men as they attempt to change the world without Christ.

You will notice that the unbeliever does not get involved with the affairs of the gospel, and in fact, he rejects it. So why then do we as believers feel it necessary to get involved with the affairs of the ungodly and the unbeliever? Two reasons. First, as I have already observed, is a sanctification of a country in our hearts. How blasphemous it is to display an American flag in our places of worship? And to add sacrilege upon sacrilege many churches pledge allegiance to that flag on Fourth of July celebrations (another heresy). When God provides something to help further His kingdom, He never desires His followers to fall in love and pledge allegiance to His provision. The distressing homage that some believers pay to the place in which they were born providentially compromises and dilutes the gospel. This has presented to the world a nationalistic hubris that suggests that the Creator has some affection for America, even above every other country. The truth is God has no affection for any country, only people, about whom He is no respecter of their race, gender, or national origin.

But the reason that so many “orthodox” blogs have strayed and are no longer Christian is for one obvious reason – they refuse to imitate Jesus. One can be so very orthodox in your theology but so unlike Jesus. Isn’t that a mindboggling truth? We can become so enamored with our systematic theology, etched out so precisely and orderly, that we have birthed a box full of doctrinal puzzle pieces that we suggest is Jesus. Some of these harsh, nationalistic bloggers should be thankful that some of these emergent men are not orthodox in their theology. They should be jumping for joy that Mother Theresa wasn’t a solid evangelical Calvinist. Why? Because some of these bloggers would be exposed as frauds when compared with these people; if they were orthodox in their theology.

What's in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet;

Juliet understands that Romeo is not a Capulet and is of the house of Montague, both at odds with each other. But her point is “What is in a name?” Romeo is who he is regardless of his last name, Montague.

Peruse the internet and you will find the phenomenon called blogs from almost every kind of genre. But let us constrict it to the assortment that call themselves “Christian”. There are devotional blogs, political blogs, theological blogs, chat room blogs, teaching blogs, personal blogs, discernment blogs, and other types of blogs that would consider themselves Christian. Of course the word “Christian” is a wide and catch all description that is sometimes accurate as it pertains to a blog, but other times it is just a seemingly non-functional tag that is nothing more than a tortured talisman.

In order for a blog to be Christian it must be…well…Christian. It should be Biblical and it should project the Person and Spirit of Jesus Christ in its tone and its calling. That definition in and of itself probably makes many blogs short of living up to being Christian. And if we cannot even agree upon what being Christian means, then we are all emergents. But we should know at least the basics of what a written revelation of the life of Jesus Christ would look like, and even while admitting no blogs are perfect in their Christ reflection, there are some who cannot be considered Christian even though they would claim a spiritual kinship to the reformers.

Any blog that searches news sources to find dirt about people, lost and saved, is not Christian. I am not speaking of blogs that deal with doctrinal issues and teachings, I am speaking of blogs that revel in regurgitating negative things about any and everybody. And some add their own giddy “I told you so’s” just to sprinkle some effervescent self righteousness. These blogs are void of grace, void of redemption, and void of any hint of the Person of Christ. And they not only draw like minded people to them, they reinforce and energize the same self righteousness in their readers.

You may call it “discernment”, but gossip by any other name is still gossip. And you may read an article such as this and see that these gossipers have a mental cache that incubates and cures like a fine piece of meat, and when the time is right, they heave out the record of people’s sins and juxtapose them against any present circumstances to provide a platform for sarcasm and “I told you so” to the applause of many. Of course these people wail loudly when others bring their past sins forward against them, oh yea, their sins are under the blood but the sins of others are fair game for a wolf-like re-digestion. These blogs and their magisterium are an affront to the cause of Christ and they represent the darkest underbelly of the evangelical world.

They rejoice in spreading the personal failures of others and they have taken on the carnal mantle of the sower, broadcasting the seed of judgment and demeaning attacks that excite the flesh of those who enjoy using people as piƱatas and by that reinforce their own confidence in themselves. It’s quite a clique, and the show combines amounts of satire, comedy, hate, self righteousness, and an array of news articles about everyone who has the “approved target” painted on their backs. And if you were a fly on the wall at many churches you just may hear such a gossip feast being consumed after church in the halls, the parking lots, and the local eatery. Sorry, people, but this isn’t discernment, this is gossip and it is a cancer of the flesh.

I hope and pray that some of you will see this for what it is and repent and avoid such viciousness. Here are a few things to look for if a blog is not pursuing the redemption of Christ:

* Do they demean and castigate the President?
* Do they call people creative demeaning names?
* Do they link to secular news articles that keep a record of people’s sins?
* Do they make morality their cause at the expense of the gospel?
* Are they strongly political?
* Have they made America an idol?
* Do they delete comments with which they disagree?
* Do women berate ordained pastors?

Yes, the blog hyperbolically named “crosstalk” is one of the more egregious examples of such a blog, but they are by no means an isolated case. And even blogs that are not nearly so appalling as CR but link to and approve of such spiritual horror are complicit, enabling, and on some level culpable as well. The devil isn’t confined to deceiving the emergent church; he continues to deceive across the board and targets all of us. The two greatest deceptions are related:

One deception removes redemption from the doctrinal statement.

The other removes redemption from their lives.
Both are emerging.