Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Grieve

At Rutgers University there was a freshman who was very good at playing the violin. He seemed to be a nice, howbeit frail person, and he lived with another student. This freshman asked his roommate if he could have the room to himself for several hours on this particular night and the roommate agreed. But what this freshman did not know was that his roommate and another student conspired to place a camera in the room and feed a live stream that showed this freshman and his male friend engaged in sexual activity.

But when the freshman found out he had been shown to the internet, he went to the George Washington bridge and jumped off, committing suicide.

My heart breaks for such hopelessness, and I am always angry at the smug and careless attitude of the church in dealing with gay people. The vitriol and hatred that emanates from many believers is absolutely without redemption, and the way the evangelical world has singled out homosexuality as some higher level of sin is self righteous. Who would be attracted to a church that cries more for their dogs than they do hopeless sinners? And what gay person would even consider the claims of Jesus if he feels his same sex attraction is an insurmountable hurdle before he could ever come to faith in Christ?

I have been on the George Washington bridge more times than I could ever count. To jump off it would indicate a desperation that I have never known. I grieve for sinners who feel so alienated from redemption that their own lives are no longer worth living. Shame on the church of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Israel - An Evangelical Idol

I believe that God has a plan for the Jewish people in the future. All those who believe in Jesus at the end will be saved, and it appears as though Scripture gives us a hint at such a coming event. And that event just may be a fulfillment of a divine covenant. Until then, the secular nation called "Israel" should be left to God and not become a rallying point for Christians.

We live in a polarized world that views most things in a political and financial light. And here in America the evangelical church has constructed a theology that compromises the gospel of Jesus Christ and is a significant detour from what was taught and believed by the early church. But specifically I want to address the issue of Israel, the secular nation. If you have been a part of an evangelical church for any length of time you probably have heard how believers should support and defend Israel because that is what God desires from us. And because the Scriptures clearly teach that God has an eschatological plan for the Jews, the church has parlayed that into a present day doctrine. But just because the Scriptures give a future glimpse into God’s redemption for the living Jews in the end as they believe in Jesus, that does not mean we should get involved, much less take sides, concerning the support of Israeli causes. Their cause is not ours.
Examine and digest the words of the Apostle Paul and you will find he viewed “Israel” as a people and not as a nation to defend. It was always in the context of ethnicity and Paul’s heart was their redemption, not protecting their national borders. His words toward Israel were never geographic and he never stepped into the remedy for Roman occupation. Paul would never have formed any alliance with unbelieving Jews, and in fact, they hated him.
And since we are against interfaith dinners and alliances, why is this any different? Unsaved Jews in this age are no more lost than the Arabs that hate them. The final covenant eschatology concerning Israel is in God’s hands, but Paul would never have thought that his fellow countrymen had any wisdom since they have not the Spirit. When we rally with such people we inadvertently give them the idea that they are alright with God, or at least we dull the edge of evangelism (interfaith dinners).
An American Jew named Caroline Glick who writes for the Jerusalem Post and is the darling of many evangelical Christians in America wrote these words:

I have more in common with conservative Christians than I do with Jews as long as they don’t force their religion down my throat.”

And when she says she has more in common with American conservative Christians she reveals how the cross in our lives and lips is no longer a stumbling block to anyone. Unbelieving Jews have no problem with our silent theology as long as we cooperate with them on issues of Israel’s national problems and make the cross a secondary issue. In Paul’s day unbelieving Jews sought to kill him; in our day they love us as long as the cross doesn’t come between us. The cross has become just a tenant of our theology which takes a back seat when nationalism, America’s or Israel’s, is at stake. We have become a saltless and dim bevy of activity that strives for earthly causes while claiming a commission from heaven. Or as R. G. Lee once said,

A shallow steam of piety that runs a fresher course on Sundays.”

Our championing of the national interests of Israel has weakened, and in some ways, entombed the gospel under a grave of politics, nationalism, and the golden calf called “conservative”. The cross no longer divides anyone since it is not an issue on which discussion ever takes place. As long as someone believes in the morals, national interests, and foreign policy as do we the cross can take a back seat. Let us not be distracted from the divine and the eternal by being entangled with the noble issues that are temporal and passing. There is only one gospel, and there is only one calling. While we join hands with unbelievers of any stripe we do a disservice to them. Anyone who has read my thoughts knows I exhort us to love and show compassion to the vilest and most demonstrative sinners among us, but alliances with unbelievers is a detriment to the cause of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Obsession with Scandal

Everyday a professing believer falls into some kind of immorality or scandal. It can be a preacher, an elder, or some obscure individual. But no sooner has the scandal, or even the prospect of a scandal, surfaced, people are drawn to it and communication begins. The press dispatches its reporters, and if it involves a prominent believer the television jumps out of the blocks with reports of accusations complete with pictures and videos of the accused. They rush to interview members of the congregation who are only too willing to offer support, doubt, or even castigation. And armed with those on scene videos the television updates its ½ hour reports meant to lend a helping hand to the frenzy. And the cause of Christ suffers because of the infidelity compounded with the spread of the news.
Read the Christian blogs as they present the reports along with a pitiful “he claims he is innocent” disclaimer that is nothing more than a self serving attempt to be “fair”. But so many believers miss the entire Biblical principle that calls us to not only show some constraint, but to let such scandals be dealt with within the community of faith. And furthermore, we must not take on the mantle of spreading the news of scandal even if you can convince yourselves that the person involved is a heretic and you are attempting to encourage other believers out of that particular Christian genre to leave it. It is never right to do wrong in order to accomplish a greater right.
Salacious details and torrid rumors add to the atmosphere of true and false gossip, and while these things swirl the Spirit flees. And the moral umbrage we all attempt to exhibit reveals more self righteousness than it does a moral basis for condemnation. And what, pray tell, are we attempting to do with our republications of scandals involving believers miles away from our contact sphere? Are we attempting to show people we are dead set against sexual promiscuity and adultery? Are we trying to convince others that they should stay away from this particular offender? The national press will do a wonderful and pervasive job of doing that, and they will gladly besmirch the name and cause of Christ without any help.
But the underlying truth is that scandal is attractive to the carnal curiosity and extremely hard to reject. Scandal excites and increases self righteousness, neither of which are offset by the perfunctory “pray for him”. And just what should we pray for? Should we beseech God that He would use the secular news media to provide us with more horrific details so we can pass them along to the shark frenzy already in full throttle? And what does it say about us when the moderate Muslim world hesitates to criticize their own, even in the face of open terrorism, and yet believers in Christ rise to every opportunity to magnify and broadcast the sins of one its own? And in case you haven’t noticed, when the professing believer who falls is in the “unapproved” doctrinal neighborhood, the energy and swiftness to make known the unfolding events is considerable and much less measured than if someone within the “approved” camp fell into scandal.
The entire spectacle is scandalous and does a serious disservice to the cause and Person of Jesus Christ. And the real scandal is that our sins are not trumpeted by God around the world. And just how should we deal with scandal within the body of Christ?

Correction and redemption, with an emphasis on redemption.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Where is the Mystery?

Mystery - a religious truth that one can know only by revelation and cannot fully understand. (Webster)

There are many mysteries in the known universe. The pyramids; gravity; and even how the brain works are all mysteries to the limited capacity of man’s understanding. But before the Industrial Revolution and the Renaissance humans were filled with superstition and even spiritualism. But after enlightenment and the spread of intellectual knowledge, much of the world moved away from such things and began to embrace a more scientific and rational approach to creation and the meaning of life.
For the most part religion, and specifically Christianity, was considered unintellectual and unsophisticated and just a residual leftover from a more unenlightened time. And many strains of Christianity added to that perception by adopting a harsh, judgmental, and moral crusade brand of Christianity. They knew all the answers morally, politically, and spiritually. And basically they operated with a throwback to the Great Crusades mentality with redemption only part of a doctrinal creed and not a vibrant and tangible manifestation in the lives of those who claim to follow Jesus.
Perhaps we can see the error of our ways, and without altering the truth of redemption found exclusively through faith in Jesus the Christ, we can adopt a more Christ-like existence that is far more engaed with sinners. Perhaps we can began to repair the breach the church has constructed with sinners by its long standing tradition of self righteousness and self serving aloofness. And without participating in their sin, perhaps we might be willing to embrace sinners, even the most demonstrative among us, with a love that is so deep and vulnerable that it opens itself up to speculation of compromise and even the condoning of sin.
Jesus and His redemption is a great and wonderful mystery. It spans the ages and eclipses the understandings of the greatest minds and yet bows to children. It is the mystery that includes many components like violence, sin, blood, death, resurrection, and the Incarnation itself. Its story is a child’s fairytale but is also the eternal absolute of all truth itself. It is much more profound than a “do this - don’t do that” approach, and living in that mystery demands the shredding of the past and the continuing metamorphosis of His life. In fact, living in the mystery called Jesus is a daily walk of faith and humility that seeks sinners and is most comfortable when in the company of those who need redemption.
Away with all our rules and regulations that are carnal constructs designed to insulate us from contact with sinners who need the light of the mystery we claim lives within us. And away with all our moral and political campaigns that do nothing but separate us from sinners and run to and fro attempting to fix this leak and that. And the western church has become a giant money changing hole that is designed as stations of self gratification and spiritual elitism. So we can continue to live without mystery, and behave with the western redundancy that mirrors our unbelieving neighbors. A dog, a lawn, a picket fence, and a retirement plan. So we march or trudge on, imprisoned by the pragmatic and void of the mystery.

Or perhaps we can be like Jesus.
But perhaps we will have to research that very issue once again and see what He really said and did.
Or perhaps we can just do what we have always done -
live with no reason for others to suspect a mystery.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Who Do You believe?

Which preachers and teachers do believers espouse?
Usually the ones they listen to most or last.
Sola Scriptura

Sola scriptura (Latin for “by scripture alone") is the doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. This theology rejects tradition or the words of any Christian leader as on the same plane as Scripture. This doctrine was in part a refutation of papal authority (ek cathedra - the pope can speak with absolute divine authority) and Roman Catholic traditions that had gained equal authority as Scripture itself. It is an important doctrine in order to remain faithful to the teachings of Christ and the inspired authority of written Scripture. If we accept other avenues of information to be considered as coequal with the written Word, then we dismantle the foundation upon which our faith is based. Many, if not most, cults have fallen prey to this deception and embraced extra biblical teachings as absolute truth. (Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Charles Russell, etc.)
But as important a doctrine as it is, it can be believed and not practiced, which in essence, manifests a lip service and not a genuine faith service. In other words, if you say you believe in sola scriptura but do not adhere to what the Scriptures teach, then you do not actually believe in that doctrine. Of course there are cults and liberals who claim to believe the words written in the Bible but by their actions and teachings they in reality deny them. And so it is within the orthodox community. So often we are doctrinal taxidermists who stuff our doctrines with words and platitudes and long verbal phylacteries of personal pronouncements of faith, and hang them as dead trophy creeds. And yet we are unwilling to see, much less admit, that we fall embarrassingly short of manifesting a living representation of those doctrines we so loudly and eloquently defend.
I have for some time now called us to examine the words of Scripture in light of their literal meaning and how they should affect our lives and lifestyles. And when we deal with the discrepancy between what we say we believe about the Scriptures and what we practice, then we are actually addressing the core of our faith. When a man loudly and unequivocally claims that a certain woman is his wife, and then he willfully and without conscience continues to commit adultery, that is a serious situation and calls into question all sorts of issues concerning that same man. And it becomes especially indictable when the openly adulterous man contends he is being faithful to his wife and loudly judges others that he contends are not.
And so we have the case with a segment of the western evangelical church, and specifically those of us who calls ourselves orthodox, or conservative, or Biblical, or whatever other man made term we use in order to suggest we are completely faithful in following Jesus. That in itself is quite distasteful and self righteous. But I want to look specifically at the doctrine called “sola scriptura” which many wear as a badge of superiority but claim it is a badge of faithfulness. So often these doctrines, when compressed into neat little phrases, become rallying cries and unifiers among those who vote “yes” when polled about their stance on such things. And yet when they are placed in a living line up, they blend well into the ecclesiastical collage called the western church. And why is that? How is it possible that a believer who not only believes the Bible, but also makes its exclusivity a defining hallmark of his theology, can live a life that is so unremarkable in the midst of the evangelical masses?
This is where I suggest we have become blind to what the Scriptures actually teach, and the shadows of our man made doctrinal idols, blended with our self righteous and smug attitudes, have darkened the words of Scripture and have, over time, eroded the obvious meaning of their teachings. And this situation is allowed to continue unchallenged because of another mainstream idol, the Christian pastor and teacher. So when new believers are born, they are directed to listen to the pastor as if he knows what the Scriptures teach and without his guidance they may fall prey to either liberalism or some wild extremism. And these new believers are taught what to believe, how to act, and what level of spiritual intensity is acceptable. And the spiritual assembly line reproduces in like kind, and instead of vibrant and powerful spiritual nurseries that are filled with an insatiable hunger to serve and exalt the Risen Christ that eclipses and rises higher than their spiritual parents, we give birth to compromised duplicates. They look like us, talk like us, act like us, and believe like us, and with that we are pleased and they are approved.
And of course they all subscribe to sola scriptura, thank God. I mean what would the church look like and be if we abandoned sola scriptura? The western world would be going to hell in a hand basket, and our glaring light would be dimmed. Abortion might be legal and all sorts of sexual perversion might break out. Our Christian nation might turn to pluralism and this culture might spiral down into abject hedonism. And the church might be filled with divorce and adultery, and our youth might be disenchanted with our faith altogether. And if we rejected sola scriptura the church might be deceived into borrowing billions from the secular financial institutions, and we might end up paying more in interest for buildings than we do for missions, widows, and the poor. Thank God we have that hedge of protection around us known a s sola scriptura.
Sola scriptura (in which I happen to believe) is not a hedge of protection around the church. It has become a spiritual lullaby that comforts us, warm and cozy on a doctrinal rainy night, and we fall asleep contented and well fed. But we believe in sola scriptura and yet by our actions we do not believe in scriptura itself. That is a big difference. And we hoist a doctrinal banner that flutters in the wind and is powerless in the midst of a people who energetically behave in accordance with their beliefs. The children of darkness embrace their darkness without apology or compromise while the children of light are reduced to shouting “Light!” and hope someone hears light because they surely cannot see it.

So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

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.

I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.

These are just a small sampling of Scriptures that have been diluted and culturally manipulated so that they actually have no substantive meaning. And how repulsive is it when the western church lives in lockstep with their Babylonian neighbors but rises to proclaim “sola sciptura!” and we think ourselves the servants, much less the prophets, of God. And the absence of God’s presence and power in His body does not alarm us and like Samson we do not even know His power and presence is gone. Buildings, music, books, sermons, youth groups, Christian schools, seminars, conferences, and all the rest have replaced the power of the Spirit that produces conviction, repentance, brokenness, divine love, and a thirst to know Christ and be conformed to His image. And men like Bill Mayer and Christopher Hitchens speak lies about Jesus but speak the truth about us, God’s people.
There is a growing company of believers who have become so disenchanted with the church and their own stagnant and unremarkable spiritual journeys that they are forced to confront the entire situation with nothing withheld from scrutiny. And let it be known that self righteousness loves this kind of self evaluation and repentance. I have often found that during times of deeper commitment and devotional growth I experience a strong temptation for self righteousness and carnal judgment. I have at times succumbed to that temptation.
But many long for Christ to burst forth afresh in their lives, free from the constraints of human contrivance and ecclesiastical prisms. Before that kind of resurrection can come forth something else must take place.

And that, my friends, will not be pleasant,
but it will be glorious in His sight.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Who is Baal?

And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? If the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.

Baal comes in many different forms. The most deceptive and alluring is when he comes as Christianity.
Two Wars

There are only two wars that can be fought.
One that has already been lost in Eden and one that has already been won on Calvary.
One is morality and social order, and one is life and life eternal.
One is fought with voting booths and political leverage and the other is fought by surrendering.
One attempts to malign its enemies while the other attempts to love its enemies.
One is concerned with its own lifestyle while the other denies itself.
One looks to the founding fathers while the other looks to the Father God.
One looks to preserve personal wealth while the other forsakes all.
One looks to have a voice in the affairs of this world while the other looks to give a voice in the affairs of the gospel.
One demands its rights while the other submits to God's sovereignty.
One organizes in the board room while the other meets in the prayer closet.
One treasures earthly freedom while the other rejoices in spiritual freedom in Christ.
One seeks victory every four years while the other dies daily.
One enlists soldiers from all religions while the other only enlists those who vow allegiance to Jesus Christ.
One uses conservative sheep and goats while the other only uses sheep.

In which "war" are you enlisted?
It cannot be both.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Behold, I Show You a New Way

A certain group of believers lived in a city that they protected from any and all oppressors. They did send out missionaries to reach lost people in the world.

Eventually a certain group of unbelievers came to capture their city and place these believers in bondage. These believers fought hard and with much violence, and they prayed that God would give them favor in their quest to defeat these aggressors. But in the midst of this war a little 10 year old girl came to the elders and claimed she had heard from God and desired to share His message to them. The elders were skeptical, doubting that God would pass them over to give a message to this young and untrained little girl.

What is this message that you think God has given to you?”, asked the elders.

The little girl stood up and calmly shared what God had told her. “God has asked me to tell you that He desires to love and save these aggressors, and that He abhors the violence that you are using against them. Furthermore, the Lord desires for you to submit yourselves to Him and submit yourselves to their oppression. Lay down your arms and surrender to them immediately.

The elders were astonished at what the little girl had said, and they quickly and without hesitation rejected her message and could never accept it as coming from the Lord. But after several days of praying and fasting, the Spirit opened their hearts to the possibility that this message was indeed from the Living God. And in two weeks they surrendered to the aggressors and submitted themselves to their rule. But although they had done what they believed God had commanded, they were still perplexed as to how this could further the cause of Jesus Christ.

Years went by and the community of believers, now in subjection to their captors, began to love and pray for those same people who had invaded their city and altered their lifestyle. At first the captors treated the believers with harshness and without compassion, but after a while they began to notice how humble and loving the believers were to them, even in the face of such adversity. And in spite of their efforts to remain untouched by these believers, it eventually became evident that the Spirit was using these believers in their lives. And miraculously a few of their captors secretly believed in Jesus Christ, until there were many believers among the captors. Some even came out publicly.

The little girl who first received the divine message grew up to be a Godly woman. One day one of the original elders, now way up in years, came to her and asked her to more fully explain the message she had received so many years ago. The woman told her story.

The Lord desired to bring a mission filed into our midst, but for so long we resisted His efforts, and even with violence we killed those in that mission field in order to protect a way of life that was so often not His way at all. We had placed our way of life and our earthly community above the redemptive purposes and calling of Christ. And yet, when we surrendered to God’s direction and allowed ourselves to be taken captive upon this earth, we released the redemptive power of God that began to work in the hearts and lives of the people we used to view as barbaric enemies.”

Go on”, asked the elder.

Well,” the woman continued, “God’s power within us is greater than the power in the world. And even under oppressive circumstances when we submit ourselves to the humble life of the cross, God can and does reach those whose goal is to use and dominate us. In weakness we become strong. Have we sacrificed some of the earthly amenities and freedoms that we once enjoyed? Of course. But we gained treasure far beyond that which passes away, including the souls for whom Christ died. And instead of killing others, we died so they might live. That IS the story of Christ.

The elder walked away broken and humbled, but with a fresh revelation of just who is Jesus Christ and just what His mission is all about. You see, to what extent we follow the ways and dictates of this world, is to the same extent we are not followers of Christ. Everything must be scrutinized in the context of the life of Jesus, and especially those things we think we know. Everything must die in order for us, or anyone around us, to live.
That Bloody Sacrifice

This morning I watched for a few minutes from Westminster Cathedral what the Roman Catholic Church called “Votive Mass of the Precious Blood”. It is part of the Pope’s visit to England. Above the place where the Pope was sitting was a giant replica of the Savior hanging on the cross. Of course I do not believe the teachings of the Roman Church accurately reflect the New Testament, and their teachings on personal salvation are intertwined with works and the church itself.
However, I could not avoid being struck by the fact of how little the crucifixion and the blood of Christ are proclaimed in most evangelical churches. Aside from a doctrinal nod, and the obligatory Easter celebration and rapid communion observance, the precious blood, without which no one can be saved, is a fringe issue. Marital sex, financial wisdom, political issues, and a long litany of other concerns are posted across the church signs informing us of the next sermon series. But where is the blood? And even in a dry liturgical format such as a mass, the blood is front and center.
God forgive us for the ignorance and active rebellion in Your church as we have gone our own way and left that crimson sacrifice as a museum piece and not the life of the church. The gospel story and the narrative of the cross seems out of date and redundant and even irrelevant to a vibrant western lifestyle. It is so very easy to watch and criticize as the priests sprinkle water and distribute incense, and go about their ritual, but can we not see how we have relegated the blood to the periphery of spiritual life and teaching? The sufferings of our Blessed Savior have all but been forgotten, and carnal men attempt to make Him a base and common man who lived unremarkable in the midst of sinners.
The Creator of the Universe, disguised as a man, writhes with unspeakable agony as He endures the pain and grief for the sins of the world. Who can know it?? How can we, His fallen creation, look upon that with any semblance of comprehension that would be sufficient to glorify that event? How can I accurately see my sin emblazoned in and on this bleeding frame without consciously softening the blow in order to retain a morsel of self worth? I cannot understand such love and sacrifice, and I cannot but stand in wonder and awe of my own wretchedness and shocking nature. I would love to smooth the edges of my condition, but in so doing I diminish the sacrifice and the profound suffering endured upon those Roman planks.
This crucifixion appears in like kind of thousands of others, and I am tempted to attribute some greater pain to this one in comparison to all the rest. But if I dare connect or even compare others with this one I have committed a horrible transgression in scope, essence, and meaning. This death, this vicious and slaughterhouse death, was glorious in all its resplendent ghastliness. This death was life everlasting. But oh the blood. Most of us recoil at seeing much blood, and the sight of a bloodied soldier or a victim of a car accident causes us to turn away. But this sight of a blood drenched Jew, covered from head to toe with hideous wounds, causes a multi-faceted response inside those who worship this Lamb.
We are struck with awe, and we are filled with tears. We experience shame while experiencing thankfulness. We grieve and we rejoice! We fall on our faces and we also dance. Gazing upon the inflicted Lamb of God heals us in so many ways both known and unknown. This dying figure carries with Him the life we have been seeking. Oh yes, in this technological age of cars on Mars and asteroids slamming into Jupiter, this death just outside the walls of Jerusalem is still the only way for eternal life. Bloodied and beaten, scarred and scourged, and bleeding with a ferocity that covers His frame, this death is the mystery of the universe.
Lord we have forgotten You and Your costly victory. We have desired victory without suffering and healing without pain. We seek comfort and convenience and we have treated your cross as a doctrinal curiosity and not the very life it rightly deserves. We have become embarrassed to preach it or used it in pride and self righteousness as a proof of our orthodoxy. Long ago our fast paced lifestyles have etched out any elongated meditation before the thought of Your priceless scarlet gift. We are of all men most ashamed at what we have allowed your church to become.
Your blood still saves and still cleanses. Your wounds must still be fresh on our minds and lips, and your cross must be raised again in devotion and wonder. Yes we know You have risen from the dead and You live evermore, but the wounds you brought with you to heaven must cause us to proclaim again and again of your crucified labor. This world is hollow and our lives have swallowed up that which should be our theme and journey. Your sacrifice is still the exclusive portal to eternity and we must never make it one of many themes in our church business and our “this life” obsession.
How will we feel when we first lay eyes upon the Risen Christ in all His glory and wonder at His wounds? What excuse can we give when we see how pathetic this world was and how narcissistic was our life when we gaze at that which is unspeakable and full of glory? What shame will we experience when we see how useless were most of our squabbles and how self righteous we were in light of what immeasurable humility was present upon that death tree? And will we beg to be given another chance to scream His gospel across the four corners of the earth when we stand in front of a vision of living glory that renders us broken vessels of utter worship?

It is still the Savior; it is still His sufferings; it is still the precious blood;
and so shall it be forever. Selah.
The Centerpiece of Christianity
Christianity has become complex and unrecognizable in this western culture. The essence and focus of Christianity must always be that the Son of God died for our sins, was resurrected, and is coming again. Let us strip our hearts of that which distracts us from Him and His gospel, and let Jesus and His finished work be the very centerpiece of our life.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Would Jesus Smoke?

Being like Jesus will almost undoubtedly mean being surrounded by and interacting with all sorts of sin and wickedness. That redemptive interaction will almost always lead to speculation and judgment from others about your own conduct and participation. Jesus would not smoke, but He would certainly breathe in much second hand smoke.
We Have No Cause but Christ

In the midst of a violent and swashbuckling world that admires brashness and self projection, there lives a humble and unassuming community that lives and breathes in a kingdom not of this world. Our power is not derived from this world, and our power is not found in the normal thesaurus under the word “power”. In fact, our power is weakness, humility, and yes, even death. Any recognition and applause we gain from this life most times will diminish the same in the life to come.

We have no cause but Christ.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


If Jesus came to earth tomorrow and began preaching and teaching to the western church, by the end of the first day the church would deny He was the real Christ and some would want Him crucified.

Or, we would repent in sackcloth and ashes.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Subtle Backsliding

The word “backsliding” has come to mean a believer who ceases to actively follow and obey the Lord Jesus Christ. In today’s ecclesiastical climate the word has been diluted until a professing believer may have to commit some heinous act in order to qualify as a “backslider”. But in general, when a believer begins to drink, or do drugs, or commit adultery, or even cease going to church, he is considered a backslider. We do not hear the word used anymore, and those of us old enough to remember the former days can recall praying for certain backsliders. We used to have prayer on Wednesday nights years ago. Imagine that!
But there is a subtle form of backsliding that goes unidentified as such. It is often demonstrated by believers who do not do drugs or commit adultery or get drunk. In fact, this kind of backsliding can be committed by believers who know the Word and are versed in doctrinal truth. This genre of backsliding flies beneath that radar. And this type of backsliding is subtle and roams freely within the community of faith. It entrenches itself in the lives of many believers who teach Sunday School, or who sing in the choir, or who even preach behind pulpits. This strain of backsliding lives unchallenged in many congregations, and in fact, these backsliders sometimes pray for others while being unaware of their own backslidden condition.
The people who are caught in this mode of backsliding are usually never prayed for as a backslider. Because this form of backsliding is usually not labeled as such, these believers are allowed to participate freely in the church’s ministry while embracing their backslidden condition. And this breed of backsliders actively reproduce in like kind. Unsuspecting believers are gathered up into the same order of backsliding and energetically seek others to enlist. Yes, this kind of backsliding is very powerful because it is so subtle and masquerades as a spiritual being.
This backsliding is not confined to one doctrinal camp; this backsliding moves in and out of all the different camps that name the name of Jesus. It is alluring and attractive. It is reinforced among those who are backslidden in this way. In fact, those who are backslidden encourage each other to remain so and strengthen themselves in their backslidden condition. Some preachers exhort their parishioners to surrender to and practice this very species of backsliding. Believers are told that God is calling people to backslide in this manner.
What is this “special” type of backsliding that is so clandestine and misidentified? It is called self righteousness, and it lives and breathes in power among much of the western church. A believer who does not do drugs, is faithful to his wife, reads his Bible and prays, and even supports missions, but is self righteous and proud, is just as backslidden as the drunk. The difference is that the drunk usually knows he is drunk and how he got that way, but the self righteous man is blind to his condition and often mistakes self righteousness for discernment and some mantle of prophetic correction, or in some communities using grace to mask carnality.
It is very subtle, and it is very powerful, and instead of hiding it becomes a chameleon. It will insist it knows the Word including the original languages. It will boast of being persecuted and attacked because it is standing for Jesus. It will spend much time in exposing others but precious little time addressing its own shortcomings. It will claim to be part of a remnant. It will delight in sharing the particulars of its persecution. It will continue a redundant drone about others. It may speak of the government and liberals and President Obama or President Bush, and it will complain about socialism or morality or homosexuality or Islam or almost anything outside its sphere of practice.
Redemption is just a doctrine and grace is divided into sections. The Bible is treated as an algebra book that can be parsed with a microscope and pieced together until the theme is lost. It posts articles about being filled with the Spirit with the unspoken and spoken suggestion that the writer is. Correction is never in house. Dead men are quoted as interpretive authorities. Humility is about verbally elevating the Scriptures and never about the appropriate debasing of the human conduit. And the entire spiritual ambiance of this class of backsliding is one of arrogance and superiority. Ultimately this backsliding presents itself as the champion of God’s cause and the caretaker of all truth, which of course, it knows all too well.
This species of backsliding is also its nature. And what could be more carnal and paradoxical than creating an atmosphere where self righteousness is robed with garments of the highest spiritual mission and calling? And what generation of backsliding could be more repugnant and counter to the gospel than self righteousness? Are there backsliders in God’s church? Of course there are. But make no mistake, some of them write books, some of them sing songs, some of them teach classes, some of them debate on platforms, some of them write blogs, and, yes, some of them preach. And some of them did not creep in unawares. Some of them are heralded as God’s warriors and came to prominence with great fanfare.
Now when one of these backsliders comes to a town to preach or hold a conference, their words are always meant to cement the base and to critique others outside their particular camp. Never do they call their own doctrinal choir to repentance in any meaningful way, and never, never do they admit to anything more than a benign doctrinal nod to their own human frailty. And after they have fared sumptuously in a post conference night banquet, they retire to the luxury of a hotel suite with all the trimmings. As they lay their heads down upon the cool smoothness of the pillow, they fall asleep confident that they have articulated doctrinal truth, enjoyed the adulation of the ecclesiastical proletariat, received a handsome gratuity along with their regular salary, and sold many books and CDs. It has been a profitable night. Does that not sound like the footsteps of Jesus?
You see, backsliding is a thespian with many faces and many roles to play. It can be so creative that it receives applause from the audience of believers and is honored as spiritual wisdom and sometimes discernment. It isn’t that this backsliding never speaks truth. Many times there is truth to hear from its lips and pen. But just like a filthy homeless man, surrounded by a cloud of dust, serving you dinner in a stray dog’s dish, the presentation makes the meal unpalatable and inedible. Like a drunken man sharing the gospel, so is this backslidden man when he shares God’s truth.
Humility is not an option, and it cannot be captured and mounted on a wall. Humility is elusive and it hides and resists. It does not surrender easily, and even when embraced it continues to look for any opportunity to escape. Humility does not come by nature, and along with its presence are thorns and pricks that cut us to our very narcissistic core. Humility is both a friend and an enemy. It draws us closer to Christ but leaves a trail of blood and bruises to every part of our ego and the spurious caricature from which we have allowed others to assess our spirituality. True humility filets our spiritual beings and exposes the repugnant entrails that we have so desperately attempted to deny, and more desperately attempted to keep hidden.
Authentic humility is very, very dangerous and profoundly vulnerable. In fact, when truth is spoken by a truly humble man, he is often anxious over the possibility that the truth he shares will be compromised by the authentic exposure of his own shortcomings and sin. And with carnal boldness being in vogue these days, humility is mostly seen as weakness and frailty. Warriors is preferred to servant; gladiator to slave; outspoken to soft-spoken; and brash to unassuming. Truth is seen as a war rather than a surrender. Sinners are seen as objects of ridicule and derision rather than objects of redemption.
Carnal boldness holds conferences; humble boldness holds prayer vigils. Carnal boldness markets itself; humble boldness shrinks from notoriety. Carnal boldness sells merchandise; humble boldness profits in the Spirit. Carnal boldness gains a following; humble boldness is never popular. Carnal boldness is practiced in public; humble boldness finds it voice in prayer closets. Carnal boldness speaks loudly; humble boldness speaks through tears. Carnal boldness claims to speak for Jesus; humble boldness hopes to live like Jesus.
And so it is. This form of backsliding has been exposed for the spiritual fraud it is. It has many human marionettes who dance to its dictates and perform its commands. But let it be known that this form of backsliding is a hunter, and it hunts all of us. We must rise daily with the knowledge that self righteousness is relentless and pursues us all with a passion unequalled by any of its fallen cousins. But this hunter can only capture live prey. It cannot kill that which is already dead. Therefore we can only avoid being abducted by this carnivore by dying first. And that prospect goes much deeper than doctrinal analysis and theological exposition. When it comes to dying to ourselves it involves an ancient practice that has long since fallen out of favor and exercise.

Until we all find a way to die, we will continue to live as subtle backsliders.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Have We Risen?

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Those words, spoken by the Lord’s angel, reverberated throughout history, past, present, and future. The Lamb had been bruised, the head had been wounded, the blood had been shed, the body had been buried, but now the tomb was empty. The Christ had risen. The angel gives a divine command to the two Marys.

And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

It is not enough to believe the tomb is empty. We must see Jesus in all His risen glory. Of course we must proclaim His resurrection, but we must also behold the Risen Christ and enter into that same resurrection. “To know Him, and the power of His resurrection” is not some mystical muse and lofty philosophy. All power is found in Christ, and this is the power of the gospel itself. We, as believers in Him, must not have as our sole proof some literary creeds to which we cling but are contradicted by the lives we lead and the mundane devotional experiences we claim are conducted in the presence of that same Risen Christ. A vacuous spiritual journey belies any and all altitudinous proclamations of doctrinal truth.

I do not speak of unfettered and unbridled subjectivism that makes the Scriptures bow to the experience and places unwarranted authority on the one who shares his experience. But I am addressing the contingent of believers, numbering in the tens of millions, who claim His name and embrace His redemption and yet are no more remarkable in this darkness than any other cultural subset. We cannot at this present time see the Christ with the retinas of the flesh, but are we content to let our earthly eyes be our exclusive spiritual portals or do we have other “eyes” that can see deeper and farther than our optic nerves?

And this is a truism: One can share verbally that Christ has risen from the dead without ever experiencing the glory of His presence and the life changing redemption known only to those who have been changed by it, but no one can meet the Risen Christ and not be powerfully bound and motivated to share Him with others. And what does that say about most pew dwellers, members of an evangelical church, who go month after month without sharing His name and breathing his witness? It says they need a fresh awakening, a spiritual resuscitation, and a reinvigorated journey that breaks loose from the grave clothes of moralism, politics, ecclesiastical works, and the dominance of the things of Martha’s kitchen. It says we need a resurrection of THE resurrection that finds voice and depiction through the observable actions and demeanor of those He inhabits.

And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

Fear and great joy?? What a mixture! They were filled with emotions and who can blame them. Away with this emotionless Christianity that loves the stoic debate stage but shuns outbursts of passion and emotion. When was the last time you actually saw a preacher weep uncontrollably in the pulpit? In prayer? When was the last time you saw a preacher visibly shaken and filled with the fear of God? We preachers are great exegetes, but when it comes to a manifestation of that which we teach we are founding wanting. And when the Marys brought the word of His resurrection to the disciples, were they “matter of fact”?

Think about what we say we believe and what we say is true and what we say we have experienced. The whole world searches for the meaning of life and death. Great religions, false and fabricated, have sprung up and flourished simply because man is searching for life eternal. And in the midst of this we claim to have THE answer, and have not only met the Creator God personally, we claim He INHABITS US. And does such a claim warrant, and even demand, substantiation? Is it fair to those outside to require some proof that goes beyond doctrinal creeds and systematic theologies?

Imagine a man who smokes cigarettes but is an outspoken health advocate. When asked why he does not quit he replies that he does not need to smoke and he can quit anytime he desires. And when someone points out to him that smoking is at odds with his health advocacy, he still continues to smoke while teaching others the incongruity of smoking and good health. Obviously his words of wisdom lose their power and authenticity because his lifestyle speaks in terms louder than his words. If he does not believe his teachings enough to warrant adherence, then why would anyone else?

It is time for us to be consumed with Jesus in ways that far outdistance our neat little ecclesiastical models and significantly step out from the clutches of our fallen culture. We must, like Mary and Mary, share Jesus from a position of present experience and passion to a lost and dying world who are not even curious, much less impressed, with our present manifestations of the Risen Christ. But before any alterations can be sought, we must take a vulnerable inventory of how we live and how we think and even how we believe in the light of the words of the New Testament. We have become professional teachers at the expense of being Scripture in flesh.

And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

The gospel is much more than a message; it is life and life eternal. Stephen Hawking suggested recently that creation did not require a god. That is evidence of both the arrogance and ignorance of man, even a man who is considered “intelligent”. But we are believers in the Redeemer and we cannot shamefully rely on our tenants as our “proof texts” while allowing our lifestyle to lag way behind our teachings, publications, and, yes, blogs. It is time for an awakening.

Jesus is alive. He has risen from the dead. He is coming again. His gospel is the only hope for the world, and we are His only voice and His only flesh. Glorious extrication from this culture, not assimilation, is required. In short, we as believers in Jesus must allow the Potter to remake us in His image. I submit, that kind of transformation would be astonishing to the world, astounding to the church, and might possibly be a seismic event in the western culture itself that would be measured in souls.

There is no higher thought than Christ; no higher calling than redemption; no higher message than the gospel; no higher grace than His; no higher life than death; no higher love than others; and there is no higher glory on this earth than a believing sinner being entirely consumed with His life.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Welcome to Human Efforts

As far back as Cain, man has sought to elevate himself and has demanded recognition for himself as well as giving recognition to other men. Man continues to view his species as worthy of adoration and idolatrous admiration. Rock stars, Hollywood actors, sports figures, rich people, models, and men and women of political power are all objects of a form of worship.

Even pastors, theologians, and Christian leaders gain a certain unhealthy status within the community of faith. Believers will spend inordinate amounts of money and effort just to see and hear their favorite Christian leaders, to say nothing of singers, and they will travel thousands of miles in order to hear them say what they have already heard them say and what they could hear them say on recordings. When someone holds a national religious conference the entire amount of money spent collectively is nothing more than a sin that reflects the western hedonistic mindset.

The fact that many pastors, Christian authors, Christian singers, and an array of Christian leaders are millionaires or at least financially well off is a sign of how far the church has strayed in its pursuit of the footsteps of Jesus, and how high the church has elevated men and women over the actual works of Jesus. Political cause, religious trinkets, inflated church staffs, church mortgages, and other financial expenditures indicate a serious heart condition in the western church. It is extremely sad and the extent of the problem is probably past finding out since we have long since left any semblance of a perspective that is free from cultural impurities. The church has stepped out of the gospel revolution and stepped into the Industrial Revolution.

The atmosphere may not be spiritual, but at least it is air conditioned.

Although 9/11 was a tragedy when over 3000 people died, the greatest tragedy happened when one man took one bite of one piece of fruit and the entire human race died. Tragic irony occurred when some of the ones who died on 9/11 woke up in eternity next to the terrorists who murdered them. Today, September 11th 2010, 150,000 people around the world will die. Most of them without Christ. That is a continuing tragedy.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Being Faithful to Jesus

Being faithful to doctrinal orthodoxy does not always mean you are faithful to Jesus.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

A Warning? Indeed.

In this present time and age, there is a war that rages in the unseen realm of the spirit. The outcome of this war has already been decided, even before the first word of creation. But even though its outcome is sure, this war still rages with fierceness and great force. The enemy of God is sometimes base and carnal, oftentimes hateful and mean, and yet many times eloquent and charming. This war rages all around us and is mostly unnoticed. But it claims innumerable casualties in its swath.

Just why the King of the Universe has waited so long to bring the final battle is a mystery, but all who desire life eternal cannot wait until later. The King beckons all who will hear to come and enjoin themselves to Him and His kingdom by faith alone. Time is quickly dissipating. Tomorrow is today. All the endless discussions and all the ceaseless doctrinal games must soon come to an abrupt end, and with their end will come THE end. The day and minute is beyond our knowing, but the shadow of the cloud that signals His coming darkens the entire earth.

The church has long since been uninterested in speaking about His coming, and she is now content with dissertations designed to help us be us and not look for Him. Be assured that He comes again. Grace will be sorely tested in the lives of millions, and if God should draw the redemptive line just a little more narrow than is now believed, how many will fail of that grace? A warning? Indeed.

Tomorrow may never come. Today may be tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Admit it - You are a Partial Hypocrite

Considering the things you say you believe as a Christian, if you do not admit to being a partial hypocrite, you either do not actually understand what you say you believe or you are more than just a partial hypocrite.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Truth War Casualties
This is a post from 2007. I am reposting it because of reading about another manifestation of lost and troubled youth called "embedding".

Resue the perishing, care for the dying...

There are many teenagers who now go through a variety of emotional and sexual manifestations that are not only not mainstream, some are obviously bizarre and self destructive on many levels. One of the most intriguing and bewildering exhibitions of emotional instability is the phenomenon known as “cutting”. This is where a teen, usually a girl, will derive some emotional relaxation by cutting her own flesh. They will take a razor or knife or some other sharp object and cut the flesh on their arms or some other place on their body. Usually these cuts do not require medical attention so the secrecy of their actions remains intact, but why would someone cut themselves and what benefit emotionally is derived from cutting?
We may never figure out the reasons with any amount of accuracy, but we can know with complete assurance they are in desperate need of help. They, like the goth, gay, and other communities of the lost world, do not need mocking and ridicule, they need Christ to meet them at the very intersect of their crisis. How dare the body of Christ, saved only by God’s grace, ever mock or berate them or use them in any self serving posters like visual stepping stones to a further self righteous elevation. The Lord reveals that “such were some of you” and indeed we were, but through God’s grace we have been changed. But these “cutters” are so representative of the lost world, desperately seeking any way to relieve the pain and unhappiness that has burrowed itself deep within their hearts.
Have we learned nothing from the way we railed at homosexuals in the past and thereby misrepresented the gospel of Jesus Christ, and by that misrepresentation the devil blinded them to the only hope they had? Will we continue in like manner to hammer home the sin and the sinner along with it, or will we sacrifice our precious reputations and eat with sinners and publicans and gays in order to shine a redeeming light where darkness now prevails? And do we now buy into the false teaching that God hates the sinner as well as the sin and in so doing soothe our carnal conscience? And if God hates these sinners then so should we, but don’t worry, they hate themselves anyway.
And while the workers spend an abundance of time in the theological threshing floor rehashing the doctrinal points concerning people like these cutters, the real life children of Adam continue to cut themselves inside and out only to be mocked by posters and pictures and because they do not know the Ten Commandments. Are we willing to be cut in their place? He was. They have a hope which was given for their sins, but that hope loses something when it comes mixed with pride and condescending humor or scorn about them and their bondage. We are so ambivalent about the unimaginably deep pain that some experience from a horror that describes their childhood. We are indignant about some petty mercantile mistreatment and yet some of these kids walk daily with suicide as a companion searching for any hope, and if they don’t find it death will find them.
I have grown so weary of the meaningless banter and smug effervescence about the sins of others when the church as a whole lies exposed as having a heartless and restricted view of the suffering and spiritual condition of the entire world. Tonight there will be young girls who so hate themselves and their predicament that they will secretly wound themselves and somehow appease the inward battle momentarily. Who will reach out in love to them? Who will mend and not mock? Who will see their blood and remember His for them? Who will leave the doctrinal debate long enough to feel compassion about their souls? Whose eyes will be so like Jesus’ eyes that they will look past their rebellion, their makeup, their dress, and their language and see their souls?
There is much talk of truth wars these days, but is that truth restricted and confined to pen and paper, or is the truth alive and waiting to be carried by the recipients of grace to sinners who need it? Put yourself in her place, she is 14 years old and she comes from a broken family. Her biological father left when she was 8 years old and since then she has never felt the same. Her mother married the first man that she dated after the divorce and he began to molest this young girl three years ago. He drinks and has a violent temper, and he has threatened to kill her if she ever tells anyone. At 14 she has no idea what to do being both frightened and lonely.
Two years ago she began to secretly cut herself on her upper arms and it seemed to relieve some of the pain. So she crawls into a closet in her room and methodically wounds herself with a razor blade, leaving marks and bleeding cuts. She feels that it is the only thing that keeps her from taking her own life, she is all alone. Her pain is unbearable and some of the kids at school mock her because she dresses in black and keeps to herself with only a couple like minded girls as friends. She tries to avoid coming home as much as possible, so she endures the looks and disdain from people in the mall where she hangs out. She has no future and has almost given up. One day after her step dad had left visiting her again, she crawls into her closet with her best friend, the razor.
This time she can no longer bear it and with a final determination she deeply cuts her wrists and lays sobbing and dies. She will no longer be fodder for a discourse on methodology. She can no longer pose for a satirical poster. No one will have to roll their eyes in scorn when they see her. If anyone had shed any tears for her they may stop now. And yes, she went to hell so she can be placed into evidence on the orthodox side. And the tens of thousands of sisters who continue to walk the same excruciating path that she has now left will follow her one way or the other, it’s just a matter of time.
But there is One who allowed Himself to be cut for her and those like her. His cuts were not to relieve His pain and His sins, they were for her sins and the pain they brought. He desires someone to care enough to bring that news to her. Someone who is willing to disengage from the ministry of exposing sins long enough to take up the ministry of covering sins. Someone who would leave the well lit and self absorbed room of doctrinal badminton and enter the dark and dangerous room of sharing hope with the hopeless. Someone who is so enveloped with compassion that they could overlook her sins to get to her soul. Someone who would take a break from the truth war long enough to get that truth to her.

And so the truth war was won after many, many literary battles, but, in the midst of victory, many sinners were lost.
What kind of victory is that?

Monday, September 06, 2010

Blind to the Forest for the Trees

Peruse the internet and read some of the online discernment blogs. You will see many of them take an easy mode of discernment as they reveal Glenn Beck’s Mormonism and claim it is an apostate view of true Christianity. Duh? And the Earth is the third planet from the sun. My sarcasm is meant to help you see just how far they have missed the point even while making a lot of theological noise. To make discernment hay over the unscriptural nature of Mormonism is easy and requires very little discernment at all. They are correct in condemning the actions of some evangelicals who now suggest that Mormons can be saved. It is one colossal mess.
But these discernment sites are missing the elephant in the room and the root cause of this particular and deadly compromise. I do pray that this situation will eventually lead them to reassess their own stand on a very prominent deception, and one in which most of them are held captive. It is nationalism. As one commenter here accurately observed, nationalism began with Constantine. Nationalism is the love and allegiance to any country, and it always leads to compromise, moralism, and unholy alliances. And in the case of American nationalism, it has even led to a teaching of divine superiority and favor upon this particular nation. And when I have confronted other believers about the Scriptural validity of such teachings I have often met with carnal and even vicious responses. I have touched the golden calf.
The issue of accepting Mormonism has been leveraged by nationalism, plain and simple. If Glenn Beck was a Frenchman, no one would have even considered the issue at all here in America. But because Beck is a rabid patriot, and because he lifts up the “founding fathers*”, and because he desires to repair the nation he loves, many evangelicals are willing to overlook his Mormonism and even embrace his personal salvation regardless of his doctrinal teachings. Nationalism has caused compromise and even grievous alliances that have begun a road to complete apostasy and evangelical collapse. But the discernment blogs have recoiled at Beck’s Mormonism and now positioned themselves again as protectors of the Holy Grail, but they remain completely blind to the underlying cause and the deep deception that continues to envelope them.
When a drop of water hits your head it is easy to shout about the water. But it is quite another to find the leak from which the water came. Two major spiritual shifts will occur because of this new wave of nationalism and inter-religious cooperation and passion. Many will succumb willingly to this deception and their patriotism will lead them deeper into compromise and gospel dilution. Some will hopefully be awakened to the deception they had embraced for many years. If you are in the latter group, I exhort you to come out fully, but guard against self righteousness and judgment toward others personally. The fact that Beck is a Mormon will be used of God to help his followers see the error of their ways. But many will attack Beck’s Mormonism and they will feel as if they are being discerning when in fact they are shooting at the wrong target altogether.

* It is noteworthy that many who castigate Roman Catholics for calling their priests "father" have no difficulty calling other men "fathers".

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Hopes and Dreams

Our hopes and dreams and aspirations are often our own worst enemies, especially when they are ours.

The truest heroes are those men and women who have followed and emulated Jesus in ways that affect others in spiritually profound ways but have remained well out of the limelight themselves.
The Keys to Eternal Life

The keys to the celestial city are in His hands. Can you hear them jingle as they call sinners from every corner of the globe to repent and believe? He holds the keys and He is the door. And while men seek life in all sorts of ways, He alone is the guardian of life which is eternal. So many have been misled into believing that the keys to eternity lie in their own labors, and while being well intentioned, they are striving to earn those keys. These keys cannot be earned and much less deserved. These keys already have the crimson stains that authenticate them as exclusive and genuine. They are not for sale. These keys are offered through simple faith.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

What Do You See?

I watched as President Obama had the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinians gather to talk of peace. The defense minister of Israel spoke of possibly allowing East Jerusalem to return to the Palestinians. Again, everyone speaks of peace. In the natural it all seems so well intentioned and with a modicum of hope.

Does anyone see what I see? In the Spirit?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Crying While We Dance

Those of us who have come to know and been changed forever by the Redeemer Jesus have reason to dance. The thought of eternity, eternity before Him, compels us to leap for joy and dance before the King. This world cannot hold us and this life ticks away as it takes another step toward Him. Surely our feet are marionettes of our hearts as they spring with the bounce of a child on Christmas Day. It is a formal ball; it is a beautiful ballet; it is an energetic celebration; it is a passionate exhibition; it is the choreography of the redeemed as a prisoner leaps before His Rescuer.
But lo, what is this that meets our eyes? Tears? The dancer weeps while he leaps and twirls for joy. Why the tears? Grief or joy? Both. Meshed within these tears of joy are expressions of the heart that knows that there are those who cannot dance. These tears speak of those who are not free and whose feet are rushing toward something unspeakably dire and dreadful. Their hearts cannot soar and are moored to this earth. And so many refuse the dancer’s invitation to join him and his Lord. That does not keep us from dancing, but if you look closely you will see the dancer crying while he dances.

One day we will dance with no tears.
Even so, come Lord Jesus.