Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Vanishing Gospel

Watch this video.

In an unassuming village north of Jerusalem the gospel began. It had been foreshadowed in many ways and through many prophets, but no one actually understood what would actually happen. Some dreamed of a special prophet while others though of a high priest after the lineage of Aaron. Most Jews had long since stopped anticipating any coming Messiah, and those who did viewed him as a deliverer from the national bondage in which Israel continued to suffer. To be sure most Jews had blurred the lines of personal redemption and national ransom.
But the Author of the gospel began His journey in Bethlehem and walked the Galilean countryside for over thirty years before He arrived one day, that day, in Jerusalem. Riding upon a donkey He parades into Jerusalem to the shouts and praises of the crowds who were given a fresh breath of hope for their nation. But soon their hopes would be dashed and the death of this Messiah seemed to only add to their suffering and shame. They were not interested in being mocked; they desired a Victor.
Fast forward to the evangelical climate of today. Jesus did not come to begin a “movement”. He came to redeem a lost race one sinner by one sinner. His ministry was not to spread just love; His ministry was to seek and save that which was lost, which at its core was a ministry of love. But the eternal rescue had a price tag that was much greater than just teaching truth. The price that would be required would be His very life through unimaginable suffering. It is quite out of vogue today and almost impolite to discuss the sufferings of God’s Lamb The gospel has been slowly replaced by words of men’s wisdom.
Rob Bell is not the only teacher who has strayed, but he provides a looking glass into what now passes for Biblical Christianity. Stories and poems and human reasoning provide spiritual nourishment for believers and unbelievers alike. Men with communication skills and wistful personalities attract millions of gullible followers many of which have solid doctrinal backgrounds. But the deception that compromises and even obliterates the gospel is a strong demonic force that is clever and sophisticated. This is no Joseph Smith saying “An angel told me”, no, this mirrors a one man show on a stage as he waxes philosophical and opines with great literary deftness. There is nothing wrong with literary devices and creative communication mediums, but what must be addressed is what is being taught by men like Bell.
To begin with there is no cross. Men like Bell desire to pass by the cross and manipulate the resurrection as a metaphor for a new beginning for the universe. The new spiritual genre is very erudite, witty, and appealing to the western mindset which says “entertain my mind” rather than “challenge my life”. While being careful to maintain certain residuals for former Christian practices such as communion and baptism, the message has been altered and continues to migrate away from Christ and His gospel. And now the gospel is presented by witty slogans and catchy phrases. They are not the gospel.

Deception flourishes when certain conditions are present.
Deception cannot take over people indiscriminately and without their consent.
There are compelling and convincing arguments to be made on most spiritual propositions regardless of their Scriptural veracity. Sometimes error is more compelling than truth. So what are the ingredients for deception?
1. The person who is presenting a deception many times is a compelling and persuasive person himself. That always enhances the process.
2. It helps if the teacher is fully deceived and convinced of his own words.
3. The hearts of the listeners must be open for deception. That state can occur by many methods including the charismatic nature of the teacher, however a desire for something new combined with an agitation about the same old thing (your father’s religion) are a major component of opening a heart for deception.
And so deception flourishes and grows today.
Guard you heart because the enemy of your soul desires to deceive you.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Blind Redundancy

I was born in 1952. By then the practice of Christianity had been smoothed by time and culture. But how can a believer come to understand just what the New Testament commands apart from the compromises that have crept into the faith over the years? I mean how can we be sure that we are not embracing a significantly diluted and compromised brand of Christianity? And let us not forget that the nature of deception is a lack of perspective.
I suggest that a healthy reading of how believers used to live their faith will lend some of that much needed perspective. It is so easy to compare ourselves with ourselves and to surrender to what you were born into and what everyone else thinks and believes. After all, we all know people who love Jesus and their spiritual lives are no different than ours. Doesn’t that authenticate our own expressions of the Christian faith? And therein lies one major problem.
There is safety in numbers, and in that safety we find comparative reassurance and affirmation of our own spiritual lives. I mean how could so many people be so wrong? It takes great courage to even suggest that there may be much more than what is practiced by those around us who we love and appreciate. And if some of those peers happen to be family it presents an even greater challenge to take an honest inventory. So often we are prisoners to the present and blinded by other people.
But by taking a look at previous generations and preachers of former times, we may just get a rude awakening. When we read about John Wesley, George Whitefield, Charles Finney, and many, many others we are faced with a startling reality. Their spiritual lives and ours are in conflict. And in order to resolve that conflict, we must believe that either they were obsessed legalists who sacrificed much needlessly, or we are living a profoundly compromised brand of Christianity. The two have very little common ground.
But that perspective is very unsavory to the modern mindset of believers since it presents a spiritual tension and undermines the contentment of the modern church. And when someone presents such a juxtaposition they are considered either negative or self righteous or both. Long ago the western church has abandoned the idea of spiritual disciplines and sacrificial lifestyles that are in stark contrast to the culture around them. But without entertaining the notion that we are living a life that not only violates God’s clear Words, but is even at odds with many historical expressions of a New Testament life, we are doomed to continue as is.
In other words, we can never overcome our spiritual inertia until we overcome our denial. And the core element of beginning a journey to worship and obey Christ in the manner that glorifies Him can be summed up in one word - time. If we are willing to devote sacrificial amounts of time to spend seeking His face we can experience a deepening and even an awakening in our spiritual lives.

If not, move your computer cursor over 2010, and copy it.
Paste it over 2011, 2012, et., etc,…

Thursday, February 24, 2011

His Name

As Christians we are called to minister to people’s earthly needs. However, we must always strive to attach the name of Jesus and His gospel to whatever we do. If we do “good works” and do not share His name, then we are exhibiting a subtle form of self righteousness since the people will give us the credit.
The Constitution of the United States

In St. Petersburg, Florida another police officer has been killed by a suspect's handgun. There is a misleading statement that is usually made by what a “conservative” citizen repeats. It goes like this:

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

Every American President that has been assassinated has died at the hands of a gun. Over half the police officers killed in the line of duty are gunned down and about 30% are due to vehicular accident. There are approximately 30,000 gunshot deaths in the United States every year. I would like to rephrase the above statement about guns.

“Guns don’t kill people, people with guns kill people.”

The American attitude about guns is directly connected to the 2nd amendment to the Constitution. Beside the obvious necessity to alter the Constitution when the culture and populace changes, many Americans view the Constitution as some kind of “holy writ”. Even recently a political movement referred to the 2nd amendment as some kind of foundation to their cause.
The startling facet of this issue is not only the insanity of having so many guns available, legally and illegally, but that believers espouse the 2nd amendment as well. There are many spiritual issues on that front. The issue of nonviolence comes to mind, but I want to address another aspect of this issue, an aspect that has many consequences. The issue to which I refer is the undue reverence that many believers attribute to the American Constitution, as if some governmental construct can be inspired and even divinely directed. That is borderline blasphemy.
I realize the gun issue is a secular one and since I am not involved with politics I let the dead bury the dead so to speak. But when God’s people give such honor and even reverence to a secular document it has become an idol. Let us be clear, the Constitution is a man made document meant to govern a certain citizenship. But we as believers have an authority that is not only greater than any constitution, but it must be the ONLY authority for those of us who believe in and follow Jesus Christ.
To think that one day professing believers would get embroiled in secular causes and even strongly demand their right to have weapons of violence (hunting excluded) does a disservice to Christ and is a demonstrable departure from the practices of the early church. It smacks of Constantine and his subtle compromise to the faith upon which many have added deception upon deception through the centuries. It would actually be impossible for us to identify just how far the church has wandered from Christ, even for some of us who see many things in the church that need repentance.
It is very easy in these days of constant communication and news cycles to get caught up in battles and verbal skirmishes and position taking, all of which are not of our Father’s kingdom. We have been called out and we should be, we MUST be, a peculiar people who live apart from the dictates of this world while maintaining a deep humility since none of it was of our own doing. But in order to be a peculiar believer in this present ecclesiastical climate you will have to endure much scorn from many professing believers.
Just share among the brethren how you feel about the Constitution and nationalism as a whole and watch the snow flurries commence. You have touched one of the modern day idols and you will quickly find yourselves not only in the minority, but in many cases professing believers will draw away from you. But share the plot and visual effects of some nudity filled R rated movie and many believers will be drawn to you.

God help us to see the pure light of Christ and Hi gospel once again.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Simple it is. Rest you should.

Matt.6:24-34 - 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.
25Therefore 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?
26Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
28And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
34Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

When I was a child I never worried about food or clothing or if my parents would take care of me. It really never entered my mind. And yet so many believers worry about God taking care of their needs. And in today’s modern culture many false teachers claim that you must know how to get things from God. They sell their Cds about how to get finances or some other miracle from God. Of course the key ingredient is sending money to them. It is a pitiful and shameful spectacle.

But Jesus Himself exhorted us to trust in the Father.

As Yoda would say,
“Simple it is”.
“Rest you should.”

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Holiest of All
Remove your shoes, for the place in which you stand is holy ground.

Only a few decades ago scientist thought that the universe contained several hundred million stars. Then they thought there was more than one galaxy. And today they know there are hundreds of billions of galaxies each with billions upon billions of stars. Light travels at 186,000 miles per second and the closest star to ours can be reached if you traveled the speed of light for over four straight years.
On the other extreme there are approximately 50 trillion cells in the one human body. And there are approximately 200 trillion atoms in one human cell. The cell was not “discovered” until the 17th century, and the theory of atoms began in the 6thy century but it wasn’t certified until the 18th century. Yes, man has an inflated view of himself and his intellectual prowess.
Absorb the enormity of creation and its colossal complexity. Our minds cannot even comprehend these things. But as you surrender to the majesty of creation, go a step further. Think about the Creator of all that is. And when you meditate upon the material universe, also remember that time itself was also the handiwork of such a deity. Everything from the ability to think and the ability to feel is a created gift. This is the Creator and His glory. And those who understand these things and yet deny even the existence of a Creator are called fools.
But now, as we proceed, we must remove the sandals from our hearts and minds because we are entering the sacred and the Holy of Holies. This Creator desires us to know Him and has provided a way to know Him on the only level upon which our finite minds can navigate. You see, in our present state we can not even fully comprehend His creation, much less digest the insurmountable completeness of His Person. In fact, when we attempt to describe the Trinity we are reduced to using such pitiful examples as eggs and water. The very nature of God as a spirit stands untouched and undefined by man. Our God is beyond human imagery.
Again we move further into a sacred realm of the glory. This God, who has lent us many names that describe Himself, is a God of reationship. Father, Son, Master, Lord, Friend, Healer, Comforter, and all the rest lift the veil ever so slightly, but still with intense revelatory majesty, and those glimpses overwhelm those who actually meditate upon Him Whom they describe. Science refuses to address the Creator, or it caricatures Him as a “force”. But this Creator is much more than just some self sustaining force that exists in the abstract.
When we reach this chamber we cannot rely on the visible universe or even the stories of men. Only God the Spirit can open our hearts to the wonders in this spiritual land. The Spirit lifts the veil high enough for the lowest sinner to enter, and in this hallowed place intellect vanishes. Oh yes, this is the dwelling place that can only be entered by revelation. Try and use your natural understanding and you will be denied entrance into this eternal glory. This is the brilliance of Who God is and what he has done and is doing.
So this God wishes to meet and fellowship with us, and he desires to reveal Himself and His heart to a finite and ignorant race. He uses voices, and burning bushes, and smoke and fire, and thunder and lightning, and borrows the vocal chords of men of old and speaks prophetic wonders about Himself. Centuries of all kinds of revelations come forth with a variety of words and metaphors. But God has a secret which He had placed neatly within those prophetic words and incubated until His appointed time. God’s ultimate revelation would arrive in Bethlehem, and God would take on the form of a man.
The Incarnation was beyond the ability of man to comprehend, much less forsee. In fact, the very reason for such a thing is far beyond all human reason and seems to defy what man thought he knew about God. Why would the Creator desire to come in the form of His creation, to say nothing of His rebellious and sinful creation as well? God as a man living among men; it was an unthinkable phenomenon. And this was not just so man could get a clear revelation of who God was, no, there was a more wonderful and confounding purpose for this deity in human flesh.
He came to die. You read me correctly, God came to die. You have now arrived at the chikinah glory of God. This God is love, and this love was beyond human understanding. Most people would not die for their friends, even if their friends were wonderful people. But who would die for one’s enemies? Who would lay down their lives for those who hated them? And what kind of loves makes the righteous die for the unrighteous? This is the mystery of all eternity: That God could and would die as a man as a substitute for the punishment justly due His own enemies.
Redemption on this level must be believed and received by faith. It can be believed in no other way since it makes no earthly sense. But the deepest part of this redemptive mystery is the cross. A heathen implement designed to elicit the greatest amount of pain and suferring as well as provide a colossal public indignity would be the redemptive vehicle of divine choice??? The Redeemer willingly and designedly surrenders to death, the death by crucifixion, and offers the whole world eternal redemption and eternal life through His unfathomable sacrifice.
Go ahead and claim to understand it all and reveal yourself a self righteous fool. The simplicity and horror of such a spectacle boggles the mind and embarrasses the wise. Modern and sophisticated man is supposed to believe such a thing? Scientist scoff and philosophers mock. Learned men laugh and religious men refuse such nonsense. Politicians drape themselves in token representations of cultural Christianity while charlatans preach a religion of self aggrandizement. Self proclaimed theologians dissect His sufferings and reduce the cross to nothing more than an example. Cults spread a false Christ and deceive millions.
But for those of us who completely by His grace have been led into a personal experience with the Christ, we can only testify of Who He is and what He has done. Mock if you must but we have been to the foot of the cross and we have not only seen His oozing blood and His ravaged body, but we have felt that blood cover our very beings with a joy unspeakable and full of glory! There is nothing with which we can compare with the soul cleansing experience of a personal redemption through faith in the Lord Jesus. We have been broken and the Potter is reshaping us. We have seen Him upon that cross and we have seen us there as well. He is our very life.
So lift up your eyes into the clear night sky and as the light of the stars enters your eyes remember this: The Creator of all you see and of the eyes with which you see it loves you and desires you to know Him. But you will not know Him through a telescope or a microscope. You will not know Him purely by investigation or through an intellectual process alone. You can only know Him by visiting a hill just outside of the gates of Jerusalem. And if the Spirit illuminates your heart and mind and gives you sight, and if you see the Creator dying upon a wooden cross, and if your heart rises in childlike faith toward Him, then and only then can you know Him as He is.

How can I be so sure?
Because I did not share a story told to me.
I shared the story I live.
I know this Jesus and it changed me forever.
A Light in the Darkness

I beseech you my brethren, watch the present and increasing political machinations with great sadness, realizing how deceived mankind is and how anti-gospel is all of it. Rejoice and give thanks that you have been rescued from such foolishness and hatred. Pray for those in power, but never give allegiance to that which does not profit.

And in the midst of those who claim to have all the answers, and the constant demeaning of each other, let us shine the light of God’s love through the prism of the Crucified and Risen Lord.
Grieving the Lord Christ

Heb.3:8-19 - Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.
Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)
Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?
And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

Eph.4:29-31 - Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
30And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
31Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

God reveals Himself to us in many anthropomorphic symbols that are for our benefit since we humans can never comprehend the Godhead in all its resplendent majesty. God is a spirit and has no hands or feet as we understand them, but those and other metaphors help us to understand better our Heavenly Father and the Risen Christ. And as it speaks of in the above Scriptures God can be grieved. Think on that for a moment. I cannot grasp what that actually means, except when I compare it to human grieving.
Grieving is an emotion of the heart, and the word heart is another word God uses to describe His innermost “thoughts and desires” (both are more anthropomorphic terms). It is so easy to view God as a dispassionate entity who runs things like an all powerful android or an impersonal force. But God has revealed himself as an all powerful deity that has feelings, relationships, and a heart that beats with redemption. Resist the temptation to explain God apart from the revelations that He Himself has provided. Aside from the impossibility of such a task, those who attempt to add to Scripture in order to present an expanded vision of God always end up with a false caricature.
Besides, the written revelations of God provide enough material for wonder and glory to last throughout eternity. But one day we will see and experience the Risen Christ, the Heavenly Father, and the Holy Spirit in such spiritual reality that new bodies are required in order to live. And as we meditate upon such a God, and as we comprehend the depth of His love that both desired and provided for such an unequal relationship, do we care about grieving Him?

Are His desires ours? Are His purposes ours? Do we strive to please Him?

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

The knowledge of God is interconnected with the knowledge of His will and the obedience of the same. God does not just spread His sacred mystery around to everyone, including the careless and uninterested. He will not reward the disobedient with deeper revelations of Himself to be trampled upon and treated like some benign information that is a curiosity rather than a hallowed treasure. These glorious glimpses are New Testament burning bushes that awaken the spirit and brand the image of Christ deeper and deeper into those who seek His face. Far from being some a religious practice, seeking the Risen Christ with all our hearts is the ultimate and eternal labor of love.
And how can we live so nonchalantly, enjoying that which pleases our flesh but grieves our Wonderful Lord? Have we lost the spiritual sensitivity that cherishes His presence and recoils at anything that seeks to diminish our relationship with Him? And when we allow the little foxes to roam with familiarity, it will not be long before the larger foxes establish their own dens. And in a startling display of a seared conscience, millions of professing believers can grieve God’s during the week, gather with the saints on Sunday, and go through the motions of worship without the slightest tinge of conviction or remorse.
But instead, let us walk with the spiritual delicateness that acknowledges the glorious treasure of knowing and loving our Heavenly Father, the Risen Christ, and the Glorious Comforter. Let our lives be a continuing source of divine pleasing rather than a source of divine grief. Put down the implements of Martha’s kitchen and rest beside Mary at the feet of the Master. We all have experienced enough of all this world has to offer, and we have nourished the flesh and pleasures of sin for a season. The end is rapidly approaching and the events of this present world are cascading down toward the apocalyptic milestone that will literally shake the foundations of creation. He is coming.

Eph.1:16-23 - Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Eternity and the Soul

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life
was cast into the lake of fire.

That is the most devastating verse in the entirety of Scripture. After all, what shall it profit a man if he gains the entire world and lose his own soul? While the church entertains itself and misrepresents the Risen Christ in a thousand ways, souls pass through death’s portal and enter into a Christless eternity whose circumstances cannot even be fathomed. The western church treats the cross as a ticket to “your best life now” and false teachers lead blind souls into a gospel void of authentic redemption.
Jesus Himself has been maligned and is now treated as the heavenly butler assigned to do man’s bidding. Ring the bell, pull the cord, or say the right incantation and God will come running to enhance your earthly existence. The western church has constructed, or better yet concocted, a religion that calls itself “Christianity” and parades and advertises itself with media outlets but without the supernatural exhibitions of remarkably changed lives. The idols of the Old Testament high places have been replaced by the idols of high priced and adulated preachers and singers.
What think ye of eternity? When has the church become obsessed with eternity? Our theology speaks of eternity and we profess to believe in the eternality of every soul, but our preaching and practice has been imprisoned by the here and now. With great sums of money saved up and great sums of money wasted on trifles and entertainment, the church should be embarrassed to proclaim a belief in eternity. I am not suggesting a perfection since we all fall very short, but I am suggesting we have rearranged the New Testament commands and made them bow to the dictates of our culture and our flesh.
Bring back just one soul from eternity and what subject do you think he would magnify? Would he speak of how to protect your finances? Would he request a “Christian” cruise? Would he place his hand over his heart in allegiance to any country? Or would he, with tear filled eyes, beseech saint and sinner alike to lift their eyes and seek Him who rules eternity? I know we all must work and eat and do those things which make us inhabitants of this earth, but our hearts should burn within us with eternity and the things which define the King and His kingdom.
Eternity is not just a concept, it is a place of existence. Most people have more faith in the existence of the Martian surface than they do in eternity. And the church moves in the redundant behavior that is a lullaby to the world and profoundly belies that which comes from our lips. I contend that upon the first glimpse of the Risen Christ we will all fall on our faces in both worship and regret because we will realize in amazing truth just how we have minimized and diminished the glory of eternity and of the Lord of All Creation. And one day God will wipe away those tears which just polishes another facet of His amazing grace.
I beseech you, my brethren, let us all ask the Spirit to release our souls from the earthly and lead us into the glory of His eternal glory, even while we retain the bonds of flesh that keep us here. Our Glorious Redeemer reigns this very moment in a majesty and splendor that cannot be comprehended with a finite mind. And when we think that He has prepared a place for us in that same glory, we are undone in broken worship and praise. It all seems like a dream now, but one day that dream with unfold into an reality whose expanse has not even been imagined. May Jesus the Living Christ receive all the glory, and honor, and blessing that is rightfully His for all eternity.

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying,

The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord,

and of his Christ;

and he shall reign for ever and ever.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fallen Man’s Love Affair
with Knowledge
Eph.4:12-14For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
From science to literature to philosophy, man is enamored with knowledge and acquiring more and more. And without exception, this quest for more knowledge has at its core a desire to enhance his life and surroundings as well as provide a platform for his own adulation from within and without. We have become imprisoned by knowledge and information regardless of its worth, to say nothing of its eternal value. And along with this obsession for knowledge is a penchant for voyeurism.
The gossip columns and the exposés of people’s sins and the reality television combine to provide a colossal waste of time designed to titillate our senses and entertain our basest instincts. And they are intrinsically addicting as well. We have spent trillions of dollars just to watch a skateboard roam the Martian surface and take wonderful pictures of large rocks hurdling through the void of space. Being an amateur astronomer I must admit I have enjoyed the Hubble pictorials, but at the same time I realize that most people gaze at creation as if it appeared on its own.
Even the church now considers knowledge the sign of discipleship and Christian maturity. One of the most overrated elements of the believer’s portfolio is a knowledge of Hebrew and Greek. Long ago men have translated the Hebrew and Greek for the “common man”, and I am sure God does not require original language credentials to be like Jesus. But that knowledge usually adds to the spiritual hubris of those who consider such things as a sign of spirituality. I have known many an original language aficionado who was not anything like Jesus, and I have known many a believer who does not have a good grasp of English who is a humble servant of Christ.
In these later years the “how to” classifications of the Christian experience have become very popular. How to be successful, how to be prosperous, how to be healed, how to walk in the Spirit, and the entire laundry list of how to’s are considered discipleship tools. The entire thing is designed to learn how to get God to do things for you and it is completely man centered. Picture a flock of sheep. In the corner are some sheep who are learning how to get the shepherd to take care of them. Absurd.
The Christian pilgrimage is not about God serving man but it is about man serving God. Listen as believers argue over the 24 hour creation day as if that was a central element of walking in His steps. All kinds of end time chronologies are sifted through as well as date setting and attempts to either mesh science with Scripture or disprove science with Scripture. Humility and brokenness are lost disciplines, and prayer is a perfunctory exercise that continues to be shallow if practiced at all.. We display an arrogance that shouts how little we need God since we know so much and have books and CDs and DVDs on ever subject known to man. Advertise a Christian conference with a popular speaker and the place will be packed. Hold a prayer meeting with nothing scheduled but prayer and you will attract a corporal’s guard. Knowledge has replaced the deeper life and people come to have their emotions stirred and be “blessed”.
Systematic theology is studied like microbiology and those who have a working knowledge of all the “ologies” are teachers. But the knowledge spoken of in the Scriptures is the knowledge of the holy, the knowledge of God. We can get information about God from the Scriptures that provides a foundation of truth, but in order to gain an intimate knowledge of Christ we must spend time with Him. That, my friends, is the zenith of all indictments of the modern day church that has volumes of knowledge but cares little for seeking Him.
The church has all kinds of helps for marriages and singles and children and yet divorce, adultery, substance abuse, promiscuity, and sin in general run rampant through the church as well as the pulpit. And people believe that with more knowledge and workshops we can overcome these issues. But only through a deeper like of prayer, fasting, and spiritual meditation can we walk into greater realms of commitment and Christlikeness. But that takes time and sacrifice which are in short supply in this fast paced world. Even the church gatherings are orchestrated in order to move like clockwork so everyone can be through at a “reasonable” hour.
Again, we have a love affair with knowledge and not so much with Jesus. In high school you cannot take algebra II unless you have passed algebra I. But in the church you can read all sorts of books and move on to the next one even if you haven’t even begun to implement what you have read already. The small groups “discuss” topics or even “go through” a book of the Bible but have little interest in becoming living sacrifices that overtly reflect what was “discussed”. And the smallest group of all, God and His child in the prayer closet, is an historical curiosity that has long since become extinct.
The most sacred knowledge of all is the knowledge of Jesus that has become so intimate and so dynamic that it observably affects the life of the one who gains such knowledge because the inward man has been and continues to be transformed. And the things of this world have become so strangely dim that the light of Jesus Christ shines unmistakably through his lips and life. God’s heart beats within him and the knowledge that moves and motivates him is in knowing Him through His death and resurrection. Sounds so archaic and out of touch.
What we need are people who are not as interested in knowing about God
as they are in knowing God, and therein lies the eternal difference.
Pray for the Egyptian People

For thirty years the United States backed a corrupt and totalitarian regime disguised as a democracy in Egypt. Many people were imprisoned and many people were given unearned positions of authority because of loyalty to that regime.. All of this was because Mubarak was an “ally” of America. Human rights and the democracy America so often voices were sacrificed when “national interests” were at stake.

When will believers learn that the American government, or any government for that matter, is not the way of Jesus? Let us pray that the quickly unfolding circumstances in Egypt will provide a platform for the gospel, and that the Christian church in Egypt will not only be protected, but will be given the grace of boldness for Jesus. The Egyptian people are loved by God and they need Jesus.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

True Discipleship

Lk.14:25-33 - And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

Sobering words indeed. Do not the words of the Savior cast a convicting shadow over the shallow and self centered evangelicalism that is so often embraced by today’s western church? His words are not throwout lines for group discussions or Bible study ice breakers. These teachings go straight to the very core of what it means to be a Christian. This is no religious hobby that becomes a segment of a well rounded western lifestyle; this is the heart of being a true believing follower of Jesus Christ. But look around, and look inside as well. Does the passion and discipleship of the church reflect the definition of what it means to forsake all, or have we slowly but surely settled into a comfortable and convenient religious pattern that ultimately displays an open rebellion to the very teachings and model of the One we say we follow?
Only a blind man can read the New Testament and claim we are practicing its words and teachings. The question is can we allow God to break up the spiritual inertia that has most of the church immobilized even while they enjoy the benefits of the culture. Our church services are predictable and without the spiritual power that would justify our claims of meeting with God. Our churches are slick businesses complete with high paid staffs, sophisticated media venues, an array of all kinds of activities, mortgage payments, and all of it coated with short and impotent prayers that anyone would be embarrassed to describe with Paul’s word “labors”. It is quite ingenious.
But that cannot be what God desired when the Spirit descended with wind and fire. The devil changed his tactics, and Constantine removed the persecutions and tacitly embraced Christianity. And suddenly the church tasted the fruits of being an acceptable part of the culture and eventually they became part of that culture. And here we are in 2011 and with millions of professing believers who have little if any impact on the culture in which we live. In fact, some political movements like the Tea Party have a much greater impact on society than do the followers of Jesus. And yet the church remains unconcerned and placid and even contented to continue on the saltless road to lukewarmness. And in a breathless display of profound deception, much of the church does not even believe anything is wrong, except the conscience soothing mantra about the sins of the unsaved. Is this what we want? If it is then this is what we have.
But we must decide who Jesus is. Think about that for a while. Who is Jesus? Is Jesus the Creator of the entire universe including our own beings? Is Jesus the Master and Lord of our entire existence? Is He the only Redeemer? And are His words absolute truth without the dilution of cultural and linguistic manipulations? Is Jesus our very lives, or is He a component, or even an important component, that is showcased more vividly on Sunday mornings? Just who is this Jesus?
And when I ask who is Jesus I do not mean in the theological abstract. Everyone can recite the Apostle’s Creed as an answer to that question, but that is not what I am asking. Who is Jesus to YOU? I mean how does the reality of who He is manifest itself in our everyday lives? If the colossal nature of who He is does not translate in a colossal and remarkable metamorphosis of our lives then in reality He is still who He is but we do not believe it. Oh yes, let us not mince words since we have become very adept at that practice. We cannot have it both ways; Either we believe with all our hearts in the Lord Jesus Christ or we do not.
But what are some of the stumbling blocks in our lives that present small and great barriers to living a surrendered life? Here are a few:

* The western church structure and practice
* Television
* The tongue
* Money
* Family
* Self esteem
* Career
* Entertainment
* And other things

It is time to find our way back home, but that path is not well worn and can be accompanied with much scorn and with charges of divisiveness and self righteousness. To be sure your only reward will be your relationship with Him, but after all, isn’t that what we should be seeking.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Lost and Lonely People

There are millions upon millions of lost and lonely people who wander through life with unspeakable pain. This song by Petra speaks of a girl named Annie. Perhaps you know someone like this girl.

No one ever noticed Annie weeping
People all around, but she was all alone
Mama's got her meetings, Daddy's got his job
And no one's got the time so Annie's on her own

No one ever knew her desperation
People couldn't hear her cry out silently
Locked inside the bathroom she grabs a jar of pills
The medicine that cures becomes the poison that kills

And it's too late for Annie, she's gone away for good
There's so much we could tell her and now we wish we could
But it's too late, it's too late for Annie

Sadness fills the hearts of Annie's family
Daddy tries to comfort Mama uselessly
They hoped she knew they loved her, but they really didn't know
They just want to know why did their baby go

(2nd Chorus)
And it's too late for Annie, she's gone away for good
There's so much we could tell her and now we wish we could
We would tell her Jesus loves her, tell her Jesus cares
Tell her He can free her and her burdens bear
But it's too late, it's too late for Annie

If only we had known her situation,
We'd have tried to stop this useless tragedy
Annie's lost forever, never to be found
But there are lots of others like her all around

(3rd Chorus)
And it's not too late for Annie, she could be next to you
Don't miss the chance to tell her before her life is through
We gotta tell her Jesus loves her, tell her Jesus cares
Tell her He can free her and her burdens bear
Tell her Jesus loves her, tell her Jesus cares
Tell her He can free her and her burdens bear
You've got to tell her Jesus loves her, tell her Jesus cares
Tell her He can free her and her burdens bear
It's not too late

Sunday, February 06, 2011

The Apocalypse

Matt.24:37-39 - But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Dancing while eternity passes. The whole world continues to engage in power and greed and ethnic games as serious as death itself. But all the while, in an unseen continuum, time and eternity march toward an unimaginable climax when the Creator steps out from behind the shadows and reclaims that which has always been rightfully His. He has reached out to His creation, made in His own image, but for the most part His overtures have either been rejected outright or changed in ways that render them useless figments of man’s religious imaginations.
But in the face of rebellion and unmitigated ambivalence, the Father still exercises great and confounding patience. The Scriptures tell us that without the mercies of God we would, and should, all be consumed. This Creator Redeemer is holy. It is beyond our limited comprehensive skills to understand the term “holy”. We so often define it in the negative as being without sin at all and that is surely a weighty component of being holy. But we seem to be ignorant of the positive force of holiness which is within the Godhead and is that which creates and sustains all life and indeed all creation itself. That power is unfathomable to the human mind.
The Father God is a Spirit. We humans, enamored with our own mental prowess, do not even have a definition for a “spirit”. Think about it; what is a spirit? Some liken it to smoke, some think of it as a ghost, but wise men will admit to a complete lack of reference point with which to come forth with an adequate, or even an inadequate, definition. So God is a spirit and we cannot even grasp what that actually means. I hope that pulls the self righteous carpet out from under all of us because only through humility and contrition will God reveal Himself to a human, even in a limited way.
The coming end times visitation by the Creator is a breathtaking event that will be accompanied by a colossal show of divine judgment and force. I realize it is not popular in today’s pop culture evangelicalism to refer to such things, however no one has the right to change the Scriptures as the cultural climate and the religious palate change. The power of positive thinking is a vicious lie, and the “best life now” theology comes straight form the devil’s own deceptive darkness. Millions will one day wake up to find they have been following a deceived liar of which there are many, and in the final analysis they will have lost their souls. Devastating…
The scenario I have outlined doesn’t really do it justice since the reality and experience of what will transpire infinitely dwarfs our poor literary attempts to capture such things. The result will be eternally fatal for many, and eternal life for few. But let us be clear, the offer of redemption is for everyone. And He who will pass judgment is also He who offers Himself as eternal protection. The Great and Terrible Judge is also the Everlasting Redeemer!
For those of us who are already in the blood stained ark, we are in a journey to see and be with Him who has redeemed us and made us His very own. Again, we use such terms and yet we know they are just shadows and not the substance. To see and experience the everlasting Person of the Lord Jesus Christ is an event without comparison. The Apostle John had laid his head upon the chest of the Incarnate Jesus many times, but when he just caught a glimpse of the Risen Christ that same apostle fell at His feet as though dead! All who stand before Christ will be broken, some will fall in broken worship while some will be broken as they are cast away.
The whole world continues to search for significance, wealth, power, and some search for survival. But the script seems to have picked up the pace right before our very eyes. Complacency is a poison, and every new day brings a false sense of comfort and security. Throw a frog into a pot of boiling water and he will immediately jump out. But place a frog in a pot of cold water and slowly heat it to boiling and that frog will die. We get used to startling events one by one and the passing of days soothes our spiritual awareness.
Be not deceived. The stage is set and the curtains are slowly parting. The revelation of Jesus Christ is upon us. The apocalyptic overture is coming to a close, and the King of all Kings awaits the trumpet of His entrance. The world will melt at His presence and many will beg for the gift of death rather than face Him whose very face chases angels. The date setters are fools, but so are the fools who refuse to see the signs of the times. He may come today, or tomorrow. But be assured of one thing, He is coming quickly with a company of angels. And in His hands are judgment and redemption.

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

Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Affairs of Men

II Tim.2:4 - 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.

o what affairs is Paul speaking? Obviously we are to work, and buy, and live within our communities. But the affairs of the world are those issues that are important to man and unimportant to the cause of the gospel. These are the ever changing political machinations that consume the minds and hearts of fallen man. It is with this in mind that I share this. I heard a foreign affairs “expert” say this in referencing the Egyptian upheaval:

“Sometimes, like in the case of the Shah of Iran, our national interests are in conflict with our values.”

What this man was saying is that sometimes we must place our national interests above our moral values. So in the case of Egypt, Mubarak may be corrupt and have a military hold on his people, but because he is friendly toward the United States, and because another government may be much more dangerous, we must support him. Situational ethics at its finest.
And the pitiful aspect of this kind of thinking is that many who profess Christ agree with it. Forget about the golden rule, forget about blessing your enemies, and forget about the sovereignty of God, when it comes to the interests of America Christ must take a back seat. How completely unchristian and an open affront to all we say we believe. Millions hold up their Bible as truth, and loudly proclaim it to be inerrant, while they no more believe its words than does Hugh Heffner.
But the Apostle Paul is exhorting us to be different and remain unencumbered by the interests of a fallen world while we live and share the everlasting gospel to those who are in eternal peril. Oh how utterly sad it is to see God’s bride soiling her garments with things that do not last and with the ebb and flow of political juggling. God’s interests are completely unattached from the interests of man and his governments. But somehow the church has been deceived into participating in a real life game of Risk complete with armies, death, conquest, and a consistent roll of the proverbial dice.
I share this because I have received e-mails from people who eyes have begun to be opened through my meager words, and encouragement from others whose eyes have been opened before they came to my blog. But I say again with passion and humility that just because we as believers see the unbiblical nature of politics and nationalism, that in and of itself is benign if it does not result in a deeper life of devotion to Christ. Self righteousness is a fluid poison that can find a home in all of our hearts and like changing the oil in our cars we must be vigilant to inspect our hearts and dismiss and vestige of pride. Everything and anything we know has come by God’s grace and not the loftiness of our intellect.

Ti.3:3 - For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

I Cor.15:10 - But by the grace of God I am what I am…

Oh how blessed we are and oh how dependant we are on the grace of our wonderful Savior and Lord! I did not deserve salvation, and after I was saved I did not deserve the patience He continues to show toward me. And when God leads me into a deeper level of understanding, my flesh is eager to claim that victory and lead me into judging those from whose midst I just came. That is a constant struggle of which I exhibit an imperfect victory. But make no mistake, in the first and final analysis we owe everything to God and the gracious ministry of His Spirit.
The motives of the fallen nature are self serving and vacillate with whatever benefits it most. And only through the Holy Spirit can we acquiesce and surrender to God’s will, especially when His will is direct conflict with our own, which happens more times than we can admit. A surrendered follower of Jesus must have no will in any matter. That makes obedience a spiritual discipline and honors God. And while the schemes of man swirl around us, let us be anchored in the will and heart of Almighty God. Take no thought and do not worry about events and rumors of events, we stand upon the accomplished event that has secured eternity for us.
It is in uncertain times like these that sinners can see something different in us. Not a smug “I am not political” attitude, but a peace that passes all understanding and an exhibition of love that crosses the line between friend and enemy. Yes we must continue to see the fruitless labors of man’s flesh, but we must offer something remarkably different that draws men’s curiosity and ultimately draws men to Jesus. It is time for a massive revival among believers. This revival will not be welcomed, much less joined, by many in the church. But this revival may begin with a few.

Let it begin with me who needs it most.

Thursday, February 03, 2011


All across the Arab world there is a call for a “day of rage” tomorrow. Let us pray for our brothers and sisters in those countries, and especially the missionaries. May God give them grace and strength in the midst of persecution.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Sounding the Alarm

Some people call me an alarmist because I see many events worldwide that seem to fit into an end times scenario.

Yes, I am sounding the alarm.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Most High God
God had commanded Moses to lead the children of Israel down to Pihahiroth, which was probably near the southern mouth of the modern Suez canal. God tells Moses that it will appear to the Egyptians that the Jews are trapped, and that God will harden Pharaoh’s heart and he will pursue the children of Israel. And so it was that soon after the first Passover the children of Israel set out in obedience and camped in Pihahiroth and waited for God’s further instruction.
We can imagine the entire gamut of emotions throughout the camp. Confusion, excitement, and fear were just a few. They numbered in the millions, and they seemed trapped between the Red Sea and the approaching armies of Pharaoh. And when the dust of those armies became visible in the distance the children of Israel scolded Moses for having brought them to the wilderness to die. They even desired top go back and serve the Egyptians.

“And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will show to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”

Moses, the meekest man who ever lived, became bold with faith in Jehovah. But there was no sign of impending deliverance yet. Fear has turned to terror.

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.
And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.”

The Jews moved toward the Red Sea based upon the words of Moses. It would be very difficult to have three million people move in an orderly fashion, however we can assume they all stretched out for miles along the banks of that sea. The Lord had told Moses to stretch forth his rod toward the Red Sea and as he did the winds blew the water into great heaps and the Jews walked across on dry land. The armies of Pharaoh followed and were swallowed up by the Sea when the heaps of water came down upon them. A miracle to say the least.
But let us think about what transpired after this great miracle. Of course the people were dirty with dust, and the eastern side of the Red Sea was just wilderness and desert. They had not arrived in some housing development, and in fact it would have been much easier to stay in Egypt as slaves. The task before them was colossal, not to mention they did not even know where they were going. God had delivered them from Egyptian slavery by His hand alone, but now God would require much labor from their hands.
And this event so wonderfully pictures the salvation of each sinner. There is nothing we can do to move the Red Sea, it has to be all of God. He alone has paid for our sins and He alone can draw us to Christ. All that is required is faith which results in a moving forward. But our salvation is not because we moved forward, but moving forward reveals our faith in God. The children of Israel were not saved because they walked across on dry land; they were saved because God parted the sea. After they saw Pharaoh’s armies destroyed they sang and rejoiced in Jehovah!
But now comes the Christian life. When we become a born again believer in Jesus Christ things change. We begin to battle things we never saw as enemies before and we must search for spiritual food because the nourishment of this world is death. We have known and experienced God’s amazing saving power, but now we will experience the fellowship of His sufferings. What we had known is now gone, and what seemed to be our playground is now our wilderness. I can remember my first weeks as a believer and how the Spirit and my flesh did internal battle inside me. It was like I was in a strange land.
This journey to walk in victory will not be accomplished by bold words or aggressiveness. Truly our victory is in Him, and the way of Jesus is humility and selflessness. That does not come easy, and our flesh resists by overt and subliminal ways. The old paths are well worn and comfortable and they beckon us to walk in them, even suggesting we can keep our religion anyway. Many see us as fanatics and unbalanced, and our minds desire to trick us into embracing a more sensible Christian walk.
But Jesus exhorts us not to remove our hands from the plow and not to imitate Lot’s wife and look back. In our hearts we know there is nothing to which to return. Sure it would have been much easier to remain in our sin and enjoyed their pleasures for the season of our life. But soon after we are delivered the Spirit begins to minister to us in unspeakable ways that unbelievers cannot understand and which feed us with heavenly manna. They think it strange that you do not attend their parties or that you refuse the debauchery of years past. But in a miracle, we can find a joy simply by reading God’s Word, or praying, or fellowshipping with other believers that surpasses the exhilaration we once experienced in sin.
There are temptations to be sure and we can never claim perfection, but our new found hope gives us the strength to keep moving forward even when we stumble. And oh how we love to rehearse the story of the parting of the Red Sea in our own lives. Every time I share my testimony I relive the experience once again. But make no mistake, even though the glories of eternity await us, the journey here on earth will be a rewarding struggle. This world is no friend of Jesus, and the closer we walk with Him the more struggles we may have.
I remember a former drug user who was saved and in the ministry relating his own early Christian experience. He had been worshiping God in a church service and his spirit was lifted so high he realized he felt “higher” than drugs had ever taken him. As he left the church he shared that with God and he said God reminded him, “I am the Most High God”.
He sure is!!