Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Poor, Money, and Violence

This is in response to a commentor's good insight:

Jn.3:8-14 - Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
9And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
10And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?
11He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.
12Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?
13And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you.
14And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.

We know that the mission of the followers of Jesus is preaching the gospel of redemption, however it seems the fruit of such believers has much to do with how they treat the poor and how they view money.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Godless Christianity

In the moment that professing followers of the Lord Jesus take up weapons to kill other sinners, or support the behavior that does so, they are godless, regardless of their doctrine.
Let Him Who Has Ears...

Lift up your eyes and incline your ears. Feel the hour and breathe in the atmosphere that tingles with prophetic anticipation. Do not just let it excite, but let it incite you as well. For over 34 years I have heard and have preached that Jesus was going to return. There were prophetic charts and books like the “Late Great Planet Earth” and many bumper stickers that heralded His coming again. Time lines and dates and signs were prevalent, and of course there were the misguided date setters.

There are many, many signs that Jesus is coming again soon, but perhaps the greatest and most revealing sign is that the church does not expect Him, and in many ways does not even want Him to come. We have all heard the Left Behind series, and for the older among us we watched the “Distant Thunder” and the “Thief in the Night” type films. Who can forget Larry Norman’s haunting song “I Wish We’d All Been Ready”? Eschatology has become an art form with all the media accoutrements but without the soul searching power that should accompany such unsettling realities.

Most believers would much rather listen to a sermon on “Biblical Finances” than “Behold He Comes”, and even if they listen to a message on His return it provokes no more substantive change than does a message on Solomon’s Temple. We have heard it all before and our wayward and narcissistic hearts thirst for something new and beneficial to our earthly existence. Can you imagine that! We have become bored with the glorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ!! And there is a vast ocean of difference between believing something doctrinally and embracing something as a passionate and demonstrative core of your very being.

The question is this: If the return of Jesus Christ cannot stir the church then what can? But at the same time the situation mirrors Christ’s own words that when “you least expect it” He will come like a thief in the night. How much more can the church “least expect it”? We are fast asleep with only the things of this world to awaken our desires. But how often do believers even muse about the eminent coming of the King, much less be filled with daily anticipation? And even though the prophetic narrative of His coming is ominous and filled with foreboding, where is the fear of God at all? Surely there will come a time of great glory and rest for those who know Him, but before that time God will come with certain judgment.

But I reach out and exhort each of you, and most of all myself, let us stir up ourselves and look for His coming in a way that authenticates our stated belief. I confess that the evil one even uses the condition of the church to create self righteousness and false contentment within the hearts of those who see and grieve over the current state of western Christianity. But we must never let that take root in our spirits since we ourselves stand wholly and completely by His immeasurable grace. But our journey, our duty, and our passion is Him.

He is coming, and He is coming soon. What is literal and what is metaphoric is immaterial when compared with the fact of His coming. If it is not literal celestial horses then it will be something far greater and beyond our understanding. But Jesus Himself promised us that He would return, and that like the faithful and watchful virgins we should keep our lamps lit and like the master of the house we must be awake when he comes.

You will not hear about the coming of Jesus in the next presidential race, and in fact you will hear precious little about it in church except the occasional and perfunctory reference that contains the excitement that is equivalent to announcing the local college football win. But it is an amazing and astounding and profoundly ethereal event that is from another world and kingdom. And although the world and much of the church ignore it and continue to run to and fro, it is precisely this event that will change the course of eternity and set in stone the eternal destiny of every person conceived in the womb.

Does that not excite and enthrall you? Have we not yet realized the shallowness and emptiness of the things of this world? Let the Spirit identify those things of this world from which we draw contentment and satisfaction, and let us repent and set our affections of things above. It cannot be fathomed or spoken by the lips of men what awaits those who love His appearing. How will we wish we had been more attentive to Him and His coming when indeed He arrives. Just the brush of millions of angels will immobilize us, but nothing can compare to the brilliance of His Person.

Oh Lord Jesus, we have gotten so caught up with Martha’s kitchen that we have forgotten what it is like to sit in Mary’s place and learn and worship at your very feet. We have allowed the creation to obscure the Creator, and we have become embroiled in fights that are not of Your kingdom. Our desires have been tethered to things and positions rather that more and more of You. Your coming seems like some religious myth while the things of this world seem like the reality, when in fact it is just the reverse.

We beseech You, O Lord, to awaken in us the spirit of Christ that revives and remakes our entire lives from the inside out. We desire you, we need you, and without You we are dead. Come soon, Lord Jesus, and ascend into the throne where only You can reign. We bow to You and Your eternal sacrifice and willingly and passionately confess that Jesus is Lord. Amen.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Gay Marriage

The state of New York has legalized gay marriages. (pending the Governor’s anticipated signature) Of course, the evangelical community will now claim the sky is falling and we need to increase our voting block, as if up until now New York (or any state) had been righteous and moral. But in reality, there is only one sin that doomed the world and it had something to do with eating and not homosexuality. Sorry.

Any uncovered sin will damn a soul forever, whether it be homosexuality or going 28mph in a 25mph zone. Without Christ we all are condemned.
Who is Most Culpable?

There is this child, born to Muslim parents, and reared in a Muslim society. He is taught to hate Jews and Christians and all who are outside the Islamic faith. It becomes a part of him. He embraces that teaching and grows up to become an Islamic zealot who believes that violence is the way of Allah and jihad is Allah’s will. He eschews the comforts that his money could provide him, and he lives his days in seclusion. His name is Bin Laden.

There is this child, born to Christian parents, and reared in a pluralistic society. He is taught to love everyone and that Jesus is the only way to eternal life. He makes a profession of faith as youngster and is baptized. Little by little his life strays from where the footsteps of Jesus lead. He is consumed with success and financial prosperity and he embraces many of the hedonist trappings of the culture. He believes in evangelism but does not witness personally. He is a faithful member of his local evangelical church and he strongly dislikes Muslims, liberal politicians, gay activists, and others who go against his moral belief system. He has many names, but his most prominent name is “American”. He is willing to die for America but not willing to live for Jesus.

When I say “living for Jesus” I do not mean the saltless expression of Christianity that claims a moral and political difference as its manifestation of Jesus Christ. The tepid and dispassionate lifestyles of the western church goers is not what I consider “living for Jesus”. Those that interpret the “abundant life” in material terms are not who I consider are “living for Jesus”.

Tomorrow, July 3, 2011, many churches will honor and bow down to a country named “America”. They are sincere, but they are wrong. God has one nation, the church, and we are to be holy. It is a sad spectacle and an abomination to worship idols, regardless of how you present it. Many believers will gather together supposedly to worship God, but they will put their hands over their harts and pledge (vow) allegiance to a secular and idolatrous nation.

We need not pray for our nation if we are not going to repent ourselves as the church. She has ceased being holy and separate, and now she is a comfortable part of a well rounded western lifestyle. Sadly, she has no uniqueness and she has become one religion of many. Let us intercede for ourselves personally and for the entire body of Christ. And amidst all the patriotism and glorification of democracy, let us weep. We have been called to obey those in authority and to live peaceably with all men. However, we have also been called to be decisively and observably different. And most of all, we are called to be humble. Titus reminds us of whence we came. Let us not forget.

Ti.3:1-8 - Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,
2To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
3For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
4But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
5Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
6Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
7That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
8This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

nd before we are so quick to annihilate those who fervently serve a false god, let us ask ourselves this question: “Are we fervently serving the One True God?” The speck is oh so convenient, but the mote continues to fulfill its purpose. Take your eyes off of others and beseech the Christ to open to you a new and fresh revelation that changes your very heart and life. The days grow short and the end is rapidly approaching. There is no more time for national games and moral badminton. The gospel of Jesus Christ must be our consuming passion until He comes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

No Hope

At the end of the day you're another day older
And that's all you can say for the life of the poor
It's a struggle, it's a war
And there's nothing that anyone's giving
One more day standing about, what is it for?
One day less to be living.

At the end of the day you're another day colder
And the shirt on your back doesn't keep out the chill
And the righteous hurry past
They don't hear the little ones crying
And the winter is coming on fast, ready to kill
One day nearer to dying!

Eph.2:12 - That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

The need is great and the fields are white.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Body of Christ

The body of Christ is an eclectic group. It is made up of many different races, many different ages, many different languages, many different sizes, many different talents and gifts, and many other distinguishing features. But we all have two things in common. We are all completely forgiven of all our sins through Jesus Christ, and we all still struggle with sin on different levels.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Things of This Present World

I find that almost everything pulls at me and attempts to make my mind and heart stray from Christ and His gospel. And when I say “everything” I mean bad things, good things, and even benign things. The challenge for me is to explore and discover a way that walks in this world but is unaffected by this same world.

Jn.17:14-16 - I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

Jn.3:30 - He must increase, but I must decrease.

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

We are to be separate from the world, and Jesus must increase in our lives, and ultimately we must die so that He can live. Am I dead? Do the things of this world attract or even distract a dead man? Have you ever heard a corpse complain? Have you even been to a viewing and seen the dead person sit up in the coffin and demand his rights, or complain about taxes, or have a critical spirit? Do the deceased exhibit self righteousness? Does a corpse desire money?

But in John 17 Jesus openly reveals that the power to stay in, but not of, the world lies in His Word which He has given to us. The old American Indian believer said that there were two dogs living inside him, one white and one black, and these two dogs fight all the time. When asked which dog wins the fight the old Indian remarked, “The one I feed.” And so it is with us as well. Our fallen nature feeds upon this world, and demands more and more, and everything around us willingly nourishes that carnal man. But the new man inside of every believer needs nourishment as well. But that kind of nourishment does not come naturally. It must come supernaturally from the power of the Holy Spirit through the power of God’s Word.

Matt.8:19-22 - And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
21 And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

Was there anything wrong with a man burying his father? Of course not, but our Lord put it in perspective. We are so caught up with the things of this world, even the good or innocuous things, that it compromises our walk with Jesus Christ. In fact, we have compartmentalized discipleship and now feel that ten minutes with the Daily Bread reveals a faithful follower of the Lord Jesus. One famous pastor suggested that you can worship God while taking out the trash. Multitasking worship? What a disgrace. And yet when it comes to the duties and entertainments of this world, there is almost nothing that we do for only ten minutes. Oh how we have maligned our precious Savior and made believing in Him so unremarkable and nondescript that we have blended into a culture that is antichrist at its core.

And to the average believer the things of this world do not tug at his heart because he is avidly participating in them and enjoying every minute! And in an horrific display of carnality and rebellion, many churches not only encourage such lifestyles, they bring unrighteous behavior right into the fellowship itself! And the end product is that every community has groups of people who frequent a church building but have no salt and no light and are very content to be so. The church considers numbers and buildings to be the revelation of God’s blessing and power. But the congregation is weighted down with the cares of this world.

Heb.12:1-2 - Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

How many believers have given everything just so they can serve others and preach the gospel, and yet we fare sumptuously at the table of demons. How many believers today in other parts of this world are being persecuted severely for their faith and even been slaughtered for Christ, and yet western believers recline in carnal luxury and profess their sacrificial path of discipleship. What does it even mean anymore to be a follower of Jesus Christ and what cost are we paying? Let us quit pretending and stop the repulsive charade that keeps soothing the church with spiritual lullabies and presents the steps of Jesus as a path to personal fulfillment and pleasure.

And please let us cease the self serving definition of persecution that suggests that authentic persecution comes from being criticized about gay marriage, abortion, or some other political or moral issue. Let us open our eyes and look into God’s mirror and admit that we are not persecuted because of Jesus. In fact, we are not persecuted at all. But what would real persecution look like in this western and pluralistic society?

Picture in your mind a group of people whose mind and heart were set upon things above and not the things of this world. Watch them as they eschew politics and nationalism with a loving humility and void of any pride. See them love their neighbors as themselves as they live far below their means but far above their circumstances. But what is this?! They are being arrested because they refuse to allow their sons and daughters to sign up for the draft. But look at this! As they are brought to jail they are smiling and singing and lovingly interacting with their captors.

And when the number of such people reaches into the thousands and tens of thousands, the politicians are forced to create caveats for such zealots because the jails are overcrowding and the prisoners are being converted. The situation is unbearable to a secular society. The believers are set free and they publicly profess their gratefulness for the new law and the treatment they received while in jail, but they give God all the glory. They forgive their captors and in fact take joy in their imprisonment! What shall we do with such a peculiar people? Watch these same people reaching out to the poor and the disenfranchised. Look how they love the gay community. “But aren’t you against gay marriage?”, they are asked. “That is unimportant, we are here to speak of Jesus and show others His redemptive love”, they reply. What, no controversy? No, they will not be distracted from His gospel.

Think of a group of people who are veracious in their reading, meditating, and obeying God’s Word. They do not think highly of themselves, and they are willing to minister love and redemption to the most vile of sinners and from the poorest to the richest among us. Their inward and outward contentment is contagious, and the love they show to each other is mystifying to the outside world. Money is a tool and is not to be wasted upon things that do not promote God’s kingdom. These people consider themselves God’s servants and stewards.

This eclectic group of believers are very diverse and have many different talents and gifts, but their commitment to Jesus Christ is the bond which cements them together. They cherish their communication with the Heavenly Father, and prayer seems to be a life force. It is not unusual for the lights to be on into the night because people are praying. Their children have witnessed first hand their parents commitment and devotion, and they have seen many, many miracles and moves of God. In fact, so many lives have been dramatically changed that the hearts of the children yearn for more of Christ. They know nothing of church fights and political hatred and church hopping.

I know, this is just a fairy tale and defies the reality of what now is. But if we continue to make and mold ourselves using the template of the work of man’s religious hands rather than the revelation of God’s Mighty Word, then we will continue to drift downstream empowered by the current of culture and the dictates of the kingdom of darkness. Make no mistake, the kingdom of darkness is very religious and seeks an amalgam with the kingdom of Light. But when you have such a composite, in essence you have a diluted and distorted caricature of the Church of Jesus Christ and a glaring misrepresentation of the Lord Jesus Himself. And when a few generations pass with this kind of compromise, including adding more compromise with each generation, then the church is blinded to itself and compares herself with herself. It is an unspeakable tragedy.

But I do hear the Spirit’s voice calling whoever will hear to come out from among them and be separate. I hear that voice beckoning believers to examine themselves and take steps of repentance and renewal that will cause them to seek the face of Jesus Christ.

Rom.12:1-2 - I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Away with the tepid lifestyles that conform to this world. Have we been so long away from the glory of God that we no longer desire it or need it or much less seek it? Do we even remember? How can we convince the world about the august majesty of the Risen Christ when the lives of those of us who claim to know Him, and love Him, and walk with Him are so inconspicuous, even when dwelling inside a community of darkness? It is time for a revival, both personal and corporate. Not one of these “signs and wonders” dog and pony shows that only do despite to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

But I refer to a spiritual awakening that shakes us to the very core of our being. I am not suggesting just getting us out of our “comfort zone”. No, I am purporting a revival that brings forth a fresh revelation of the King of Kings, and that fills us with brokenness and places us upon the glory of the Potter’s wheel until the hands of the Spirit molds us from one glory to the next. It is a process filled with pain and glory simultaneously!

But soar with me now, and imagine something beyond the very imagination you are using. Envision a revelation of the Spirit so wondrous and so transcending that it demands a personal response from all who receive it. Meditate upon a vision that brings Christ into such a reality that it violently obscures the present life and presents us with the glory of a life consumed by His resurrection power! I am not speaking of subjective imagery that electrifies in a church service and dies just as quick; not something that depends upon music and lighting and the eloquence of a pastor. And when this awakening touches a believer's life he can never be the same.

And what then of the things of this world?

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Lord has Risen!

The world is filled with troubles and tragedies. Bad news consumes our ears and millions around the world suffer. Most of us live in a culture which promotes selfishness and greed, and which lends itself to stress and worry. Marriages fall apart and many which survive do so with a major degree of dissatisfaction. Children either openly rebel, or after their teen years they live in spiritual apathy. The radio and television airwaves are filled with hubris, and the hosts rail on about others while either suggesting we return to the founding fathers or suggesting we abandon all sense of morality. And our daily schedules are insane with little or no time for prayer and meditation or seasons of calm spiritual reflection. In many ways we have become like robots.

But take in a deep breath because there is some good news. In fact, there is wonderful news which should consume our thoughts and drive our spirits and lift our lives above the battle and the drone of this present world.

The Lord has risen!! He has risen indeed!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jesus Speaks on National War

Jn.18:35-36 - Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?
36Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

When we overly concern ourselves with the discernment of others, we run the very real risk of missing things about ourselves which are in desperate need of discernment. One of the reasons that I am mostly rejected among the discernment crowd is because I often point out serious shortcomings about our own “camp”.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Low View of Prayer

There is a great mystery in prayer. The Scriptures clearly declare that God answers prayer, and not just in a perfunctory way when we happen to stumble upon His will. And when some suggest that God orchestrates everything and prayer is just an exercise and cannot change anything but can only align itself with what God is already decided, well that emasculates the essence of prayer. That is not to say that God is not sovereign or that He jumps at our every whim, but it is clear that in the mystery of prayer God glorifies Himself when He listens and acts to our requests. It is simplistic but true, God always says yes, no, or wait. The low view of prayer is to suggest that our requests are nothing more than an attempt to voice what already has been decreed without regard to any of our requests.

There are two extremes to theology is this issue. One such extreme is called “open theology” which ridiculously suggests that God Himself doe not know the future. Of course that is preposterous. The other extreme is Calvinism or what I call “closed theology”. That theology suggests that God not only knows the future, but He has orchestrated and decreed everything that will happen. That also is preposterous. But we know from the Scriptures that God listens to and acts upon the prayers of His righteous people.

You have not because you ask not” is just one of scores of Scriptures that directly link our prayers to God’s intervention.

But do not discount the immeasurable honor just to communicate with God and the way we are changed just by residing in His glorious presence. That alone would be the ultimate gift. But somehow and some way God has mysteriously incorporated us into the fabric of His will and given us the command to obey Him and the ability to pray with faith and scriptural foundation. Of course God is sovereign over all of it, but divine sovereignty must not exclude any and all human interaction which is meaningful and substantive.

We are more than just created marionettes that dance at the whim of the Creator for His entertainment like a king surrounded by court jesters. The life of a disciple is more than just a card in a cosmic game of divine solitaire. The relationship between God’s sovereignty and man’s will always be a mystery, however it is still a reality. We dare not discard prayer as just a perfunctory exercise that like cotton candy enters the mouth with a promise of fullness but immediately reveals its hollow center. Prayer is serious business, and prayer that touches the heart of God is spiritual labor that cannot be allocated to a multi-task practice.

And therein lies the heart of the matter. Are we willing to spend significant time in prayer, time that we normally use for other pressing issues? Are we willing to lose sleep while we pray? Are we willing to refuse food in order to pray? If prayer changes nothing than of course no one would feel the need for such sacrifice, but if prayer is more than just a rhetorical duty, then perhaps we all must take a fresh and more penetrating look at our prayer lives.

Jn.15:5 - I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."

What a profound and revealing verse of Scripture. If we can do nothing without Christ, than how are we sure we are operating inside His power and not our own? There is a direct and proportional relationship between how much power is of the flesh and how much power is of Christ with the defining factor being how much we pray. And yet most believers and most churches have many activities and outreaches with proportionately very little prayer. Most of our children have never seen or attended an all night prayer meeting, to say nothing of that on a regular basis.

How many children have opened their parents bedroom door to find one or both of them on their knees seeking Christ? How many have witnessed their parents refusing food for a day or more in order to crucify their flesh and receive His power in prayer? Have they ever seen their pastor on his face before God in weeping and brokenness as he intercedes for the souls of the lost? Maybe they have seen a church call for fasting and prayer for a building program, but that my friends is an affront to Almighty God. Precious souls hang in the balance and the church is on autopilot with their activities and programs.

The prayer closets have been abandoned and the power is gone, but like Samson we do not even realize it. The church has placed her faith in talk show hosts and political figures and forms of governments while the real enemy has laid waste to her relationship with the Risen Christ. She worships a doctrinal Christ and is content with the redundant and predictable expressions of Christianity which are nothing more than a form of godliness but void of the promise of spiritual power. And still the smiles and jokes sustain the average Sunday morning gathering which includes the powerless sermons which change no one.

Rarely does a believer travel to the morning gathering expecting to be changed at all. In fact, the same person who came last week enters the building this week by spending more time dressing up his body than in authentic prayer. And if the church will not even rise early on Sunday to seek and worship Christ, what can we expect on Monday through Saturday. Do I paint a negative and bleak picture of the situation? Oh, but the question you must ask is do I paint an accurate depiction of the western practice of Christianity? Jesus Himself proclaimed that His house should be a house of prayer, and yet the church does everything but pray. Have you ever entered the gathering and heard the pastor call the church to an entire service of prayer? But we will have concerts and pageants and guest speakers and youth days and many other designated days. Many churches will even have entire services in appreciation and loyalty to America, but never an entire service devoted to praying. The closest we get is a four part series ON prayer, but even among those four parts there will not be one Sunday morning where the entire church fall before God IN prayer. Not one.

There is a pervasive low view of prayer in the western church regardless of our doctrinal assertions and our bellicose rhetoric. Until that changes, today will be yesterday and tomorrow will be as today. Perhaps that is what quenches your thirst. I do not believe God is pleased with it, and He deserves more than the monstrosity that we have created and called “the church of Jesus Christ”. It is a fake Rolex to be sure. If we had the same love for prayer as we have for doctrine and music then revival would have already swept the country!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A False Christ

One of the most grievous and heretical manifestations of Christianity is not the emergent movement, or the liberal theologians, or the social gospel of works, although they are heretical. It is the insufferable twisting of Christian truth to accommodate many forms of violence and death.

If one was given a Bible immediately after he believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, and if that believer had no religious background whatsoever, and if he was sheltered from other believers so he could glean his entire belief system from the Scriptures alone, that believer would never come to the conclusion that violence under any circumstance was permitted in the age of Jesus the Christ. The New Testament is absolutely clear, and the “you have heard but I say unto you” principle makes a clear distinction that the New Covenant comes with soaring truths and principles that demolish that which we thought we knew.

In fact, the teachings of the New Testament, if taken literally, are revolutionary and profoundly contradictory from all cultures and all human reasoning. The word “provocative” falls way short in describing the teachings of Christ. Jesus doesn’t just stop at “love your enemies” who may or may not have been given the opportunity to persecute you or treat you unkindly, but Jesus goes much further. Our Master says,

Matt.5:43-45 - Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 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;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

The implications of that truth are mind boggling and without the parameters of human understanding. In fact, that teaching alone is so profound, and so paradoxical, and so against what we have been taught and saw practiced all of our lives, that the church has incorporated allowances to deviate from that teaching and still be called obedient believers. Most believers will sin against that teaching even at a T-ball game in which someone treats them or their child unkindly. But the implications of that teaching go far beyond a T-ball game.

The teachings of Christ that are overtly non-violent and overtly redemptive as it pertains to the earthly life of a believer seem to be easily dismissed by the majority of the visible church. It is not only acceptable to kill your enemy if you do it in the name of your country, it is commendable. Now there arises a serious problem when such behavior that is so contradictory to the teachings of Christ is applauded and practiced by those who claim His name. In order to relieve such spiritual tension the church must either make the Scriptures completely allegorical, or the church must interject caveats propelled by the force of their particular culture and national allegiance. Most evangelical churches choose the latter.

In order for such open manipulation of the Scriptures to be accepted it must be taught to each generation from birth. Any questions about that particular subject must be met with firm resolve and even stern rebukes. Patriotism must be the canopy under which all sorts of spiritual disobedience can flourish. Once the secular and the spiritual have been joined together and anointed as God’s will and way, then all sorts of Scriptural mischief can come flooding in with little or no notice. But the secular must always and continually bow the knee to the spiritual in the lives of believers and in the general assembly of the same.

That means that whatever we do in the natural must never countermand the dictates and teachings of Scripture, for if we blur that line all is lost. And when we come across Scriptural teachings that are so uncomfortable and so inconvenient and so deeply out of touch with cultural realities, we must die to our own reasoning and live within the freedom of those teachings. The process in which the church assimilates into the culture is extremely clandestine and is sometimes so powerfully deceptive that the church often embraces such a process. And as the process welcomes more and more compromise, the power and Person of Jesus Christ grows less and less present and/or observable.

This evil process is also multifaceted and very cunning. It even uses deception of others to deceive those who are accurately identifying that particular deception. The same believers who would aggressively challenge the heresies of Rob Bell or Joel Osteen, will show extreme allegiance and loyalty to a system that is overtly antichrist. In fact, they will kill to protect such a system. And so deception in others is used to deceive those who see it in others. Is that not a marvelous and stunning method of perpetuating evil?

But the most serious repercussions of such deception is that we no longer worship, obey, and teach the True and Risen Christ. To teach a Christ that calls for vengeance and who aids in the murder of your enemies, to say nothing of women and children, is not the Christ of Scripture. That is every bit a false caricature as those who might teach a Christ who will turn a blind eye to sin and one day save everyone. This issue might seem like a fine line of theological perception, but in reality and spiritual practice it is of great importance.

Listen to the issues over which the coming political year wrangles back and forth: homeland security, economic prosperity, the founding fathers, and the high cost of healthcare. Do they represent the interests of Christ? Even the moral issues upon which the church used to hang their political hats have faded considerably. Make no mistake about it, should Jesus tarry, gay marriage will come and abortion will still be legal. Even the times when the “pro-life” Republicans controlled the White House and the legislative branch saw no move against abortion. Our God is pro-life, but He is much, much more than just anti-abortion. He is the Redeemer and He has good news for all mankind. It is time we who bear His name practice His Person.

If Jesus would come for a visit before He comes in all His glory, I sincerely believe He would teach things that would not only astound us, but it would cause us to fall upon our faces in repentance and contrition. But in reality, He has already come and left us His Word. Perhaps the time has come for us to study it once again with a ready and willing heart to obey what it teaches regardless of what we have been taught by sincere believers. Or, we can just go on as we are.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

God Our Savior

Heb.11-6 - God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
3Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:
4Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
5For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
6And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.
here is no God but Jesus. I realize God has revealed Himself in three Persons, but Jesus is the cornerstone and the prism through which any accurate revelation of God can and must be seen. Many religions use the generic term for “god”, but without Jesus they are all false caricatures of the Creator. I personally feel that the oneness of the Trinity is much more one than we can even imagine. The perception that many of us have about three gods moving and acting and even being completely separate I fear is finite and significantly erroneous, but it is to be expected since the finite is limited in its understanding of the scope of the divine.

We are limited, but blessed, with the Scriptural revelation of God, and Jesus is at the very center of all of those revelations. Even the Old Testament speaks of Jesus according to Christ Himself. The question that must be at the center of all theology must be, “Who is Jesus?” And in the world of the cults, the Person of Christ is usually the favorite target of falsehoods. And while wholly anchored in the scriptural revelation of the Lord Jesus, there is also a realm where he that believes is called to manifest such faith and love in ways that go beyond his doctrinal creeds. There is a subtle but significant difference between loyalty to a dogma and loyalty to Christ Himself.

The entire company of Old Testament priests and prophets were mouthpieces that on many levels gave insight and witness to God, His will, and His coming Incarnation. But when the Son came forth from a virgin, the revelation of God, His will, and His very Person was completely revealed in that same Person. God now speaks through His Son, and all Scriptures, regardless of the topic, must be eternally tethered to God the Son named Jesus. The Person of Jesus goes beyond just a mere prism through which God speaks and reveals Himself; the Person of Jesus is God and is the Word and is the only and complete revelation of the being known as God.

So who is God? Jesus. Of this there can be no compromise or negotiation. Absolute truth cannot be negotiated or cushioned, and the fact that Jesus is God is the zenith of all absolute truths. It cannot coexist with anything that claims otherwise. Other religions, however sincere or beneficial to the earthly man, must not only bow to the Lord Jesus, they must be obliterated. The mystery of God is revealed in Jesus without any damage to that mystery. And any religion that claims that Jesus has another name is revealed as a lie.

And so our spiritual allegiance is called upon to be placed entirely upon the Lord Jesus, for if we parse out our allegiance to anything or anyone other than Jesus, we have denied Him. To deny Jesus is spiritual and eternal death, regardless of how we dress up our denial. Jesus is the Monarch of all Monarchs and the Master of all Masters and He holds a place high above any and all earthly pretenders. The day will come, and is rapidly approaching, when Jesus will return to be revealed to all living creatures as the Risen and Glorified Christ. And of His kingdom there will be no end.

Like a time funnel, all things are pointing toward the revelation of Jesus the Christ, and the entire universe, past, present and future will bow to Him, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. There is no other way; there is no other life; there is no other truth; there is no other God our Savior.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Eternal Life with Jesus

Why do people diet? Why do people take vitamins? Why do people exercise? Why do people take medicine? Why do people go to the doctor’s? People basically do all those things to live, to enhance their lives, and ultimately to extend their lives. People are searching for the proverbial “fountain of youth” as it were. What wealthy man would not give away all his wealth to add another twenty years to his life, to say nothing of living forever?

Jn.11:25-26 - Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.

With all the “ways” to seek eternal life there is still just one way to gain it. It is very difficult to believe that a Jew named Jesus is the only way to eternal life, but that is the very point. Only the Spirit of God can reveal that to a sinner, and only by the power of the Spirit can a person’s heart be opened to that truth. Jesus made no exceptions and He was not ambiguous about who He was and what he came for. This is the mystery of the ages, and this is the eternal paradox.

God came as a man and died in our place and rose again from the dead. And anyone who truly believes upon that truth will be saved and given the gift of eternal life. That seems so simple and so child like, but in reality it is that simplicity which is most profound. In fact, the foolishness of God is wiser than man. Just the thought of eternal life has been intriguing to mankind throughout history. But the uncertainty of life after death has led man to exert his energies to elongate and enhance life in this world.

But, sadly, the church has also reduced her focus on eternal life and in recent days made a dramatic turn toward the temporal. The revelation of who God is now centers upon the material and God’s ability to enhance our earthly existence. The “abundant” life is now the abundance of things and not the all consuming knowledge of Christ and the unspeakable contentment found only in Him. But why has eternal life been relegated to a church doctrine and not the centerpiece of all God’s gifts?

And what will be the crowning jewel of our piece of inheritance we call eternal life? It will be the fact that we will live forever in the very presence of the Risen Christ! That can hardly be imagined. To see the One to Whom we owe everything; to see Him in all His transcendent glory; to be allowed, yea beckoned, to fall before His throne and offer up the sacrifice of worship is beyond imagery and far beyond what could ever be considered earned. And that is what abundant life is made of - a foretaste of His presence and a daily experience of eternity.

How dare we make God’s promise of abundant life into finances and houses and cars and occupational promotions. How dare we reduce His majesty into things that provide earthly enjoyment for us. We have taken the Christian life and systematically removed the mystery and the eternal and we have reshaped it into things of this earth and moral battles. And now we have an unbiblical model where professing believers live and work and act like their unbelieving counterparts and once or twice a week go to and fro from a large building.

Years ago I did an experiment. The church at which I taught a Sunday School class averaged over 3000 attendees every Sunday. I would arrive very early to pray, but I found that when others arrived the conversations were mostly about earthly and secular issues. So I determined to listen to conversations and see how many were about Jesus or even about eternity. I realize this is difficult to believe, but in three months of listening to many hundreds of conversations I heard none about Christ or eternal life. None.

Now if there were no conversations about Christ and His gift of eternal life in church, how many would you surmise took place during the week? You see, we either believe it or we do not. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. So what generally we speak about is what lives and thrives within our hearts. If eternal things fill our hearts than we will speak of those things; if temporal things fill our hearts we will speak of those things as well.

Our theology speaks of eternity with certainty. We say we believe that all who are born again believers in the Lord Jesus will live forever - FOREVER - with Christ in a sinless paradise permeated by the glory of His majestic presence. This is quite a statement of faith, so much so that it should bring forth some observable, and even remarkable, behavior patterns in those who truly believe it. If a poor person who lives in squalor claims emphatically that he has millions in a bank account, but he never accesses such an account, then most would doubt that he has such an account.

We who claim to be on a journey to eternal life with all the incredible accoutrements, but pay so much attention and even fondness to the things of this present world, can rightly be dismissed by onlookers as either frauds or self deceived. What we claim to believe is so colossal, so monumental, and so staggering that it demands a corresponding lifestyle that indicates we believe on some level that which we say. The sad reality is that the church has fed its members a steady diet of temporal pottage that cannot satisfy and is completely at odds with the reality of eternity. We are prisoners of this world and only give a doctrinal nod to eternity.

But allow me to present to you a humble glimpse into what lies ahead to the believer, even though my poor words will be pitiful looking glasses into what words cannot adequately portray. I do not believe that heaven’s gates will be made of oyster spittle and that the streets will be made of literal gold. I believe that those metaphors as well as others only stand temporarily until we behold the unspeakable reality that goes far beyond word pictures. In fact, all descriptions of the place called “heaven” are temporal schoolmasters that will one day fall away as the substance is revealed and the vast and boundless expanse of heaven becomes our dwelling place forever. Again, words help but words cannot envelope.

The place is without sin or tarnish. The atmosphere is full of glory and divine ecstasy, and the tangible presence of the Triune God captures every living creature. It is impossible to be distracted for a moment while in the spiritual clutch of the August Lamb of God. Even though the general atmosphere is glorious, and even though all the accoutrements are ethereal and without comparison, the center of everything is Christ. Read the Book of the Revelation and you will find precious little about the revelation of the Spirit and the Father in heaven, although they are there. God the Father seems to have voluntarily taken a back seat in order to lift up and glorify God the Son in the midst of all creation.

God’s plan will have been completed, and redemption has produced the prophesied Redeemer in all His glory. Angels of all kinds bow in worship, and the throngs of blood washed sinners cannot stand under the weight of His immeasurable glory. The word gratitude seems so shallow when we are allowed to fully comprehend what was done for us and what we have inherited. What we called worship on earth will now seem a perfunctory religious observance when compared to the worship that will be given before the Risen and Glorified Christ.

Do not fret, my brethren, we have eternal life…with Him.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Behold He Comes

There is coming an event, in fact an entrance, that will completely transform the entire world. God in the Person of Jesus Christ is returning to this earth just as He said He would. For those who know Him it will be glorious. But for those who have not been born again it will be eternally tragic. There is no middle ground, and there will be no second chances.

The men and women that are now teaching that everyone will receive a second chance are not only wrong, but they are being used of the evil one to give false hope to millions. The Scriptures clearly warn even believers to take inventory of their spiritual condition lest we rely on a shallow and false testimony. This is not some obscure doctrinal skirmish that has limited spiritual implications. This goes to the heart of what it means to be a believer and what it means to be born again. The issue can be summed up as this:

Does a sinner have to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, the true and only Jesus, and be born again to become a genuine Christian, and does that sinner have to do that before he dies to inherit eternal life?

That, my friends, cannot be massaged and debated as if there are many valid perspectives. If the scriptures mean anything, and if there is anything that can be called absolute truth, than this must be at the very center. But it is that very truth from which many evangelical leaders are moving away, and many teach new age mysticism couched in varying degrees of Biblical distortions. The human intellect when left to assess truth on its own is fallen and can believe almost anything.

But in the distance looms the second coming of the Lord Jesus. As His approach nears many are losing their faith to false and deceived men of intellect and communication skills. Will they be saved? I do not desire to get into a debate over “eternal security”, however the writer of Hebrews gives several warnings that to me indicate one should not rest on his historical spiritual laurels. But men are scratching itching ears and lulling people to sleep with vain philosophies and doctrines of devils. To compromise the exclusivity of Jesus Christ and the necessity of the born again experience is to deny Christ.

It is mind boggling to imagine that Jesus Himself will return one day to this earth. But make no mistake about it, this will not be a time of rejoicing and “getting to know Him”.

II Thess.1:7-10 - And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
9Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.

I cannot imagine how one can manipulate those verses to represent anything less than a horrific scene and a grave warning. And of course there are more. The incarnation has been revealed, the sinless life has been documented, and the labor of redemption has been finished. When the same Jesus returns He returns with great power and glory. No longer will He offer His face to human spittle; no longer will He turn a deaf ear to mocking; no longer will He submit to the fists of evil men; no longer will He turn His back to the vicious whips; no longer will He surrender to death. No, this same Jesus was crucified as the Lamb of God, but returns as the Lion of Judah!

But man resists any unpleasant truth and seeks to effect outright change in order to receive it as much more appealing and much more in line with human reasoning. I take no pleasure in the demise of the wicked, but I recoil at the pervasive teachings that soothe the souls of men who are in great spiritual peril. And to alter the truth is to lie. And these liars are the decedents of the sirens of Greek mythology who lured men to the rocks of shipwreck with their beautiful and bewitching voices. It is a spectacle that was foretold by the Spirit Himself.

But we who hold fast to that which has been given to us by that same Spirit through God’s precious Word can never rest and think more highly of ourselves than we should. For we stand entirely upon the grace of Almighty God and anything of worth within us is completely of Christ. And if by God’s grace we stand firmly upon His truth with a good measure of substance, then all the praise must go to Him and Him alone. If I arrive before my Lord and if He welcomes me with words that reward my faithfulness to His Word, then I will bow my face before Him and profess that my path was illuminated and empowered by God’s Holy Spirit alone, and I will reject any praise to my own human recourses and understanding.

We live in very perilous times. Sin increases with open bravado and violence covers the earth. Of course such things were true in times past, but man has increased his capacity for rebellion and sin. But at the very doorstep of eternity, much of the church has become restless and unsatisfied with the old paths. The church has craned her neck to see and desire the fruits of the world, and she has sniffed out greener doctrinal pastures where wolves graze. The ancient landmarks are ridiculed while the new ways are trumpeted. Jesus is used rather than worshiped. The Risen Christ is now a talisman that can bring material blessings like some eastern genie. His worth is now measured by His ability to pay the car payment rather than pay for sins.

But we must watch and pray. We look for His coming, not because he will punish the wicked, but because we long to see His august beauty and magnificence. This world has lost any allure to us, and only Jesus can satisfy the spiritual longing deep within our hearts. We have heard His story and we have read His Words. We have spread His message and we have worshiped Him in the Spirit. We love Him. But like the great Apostle Paul, we know that to be with Him is far better. And so we occupy and we wait. But make no mistake, we shall behold Him one day. That is what we live for and that is what we would die for.

Ti.2:13 - Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
A Form of Great Compromise

A house is engulfed in flames. All the neighbors gather around and watch as slowly but surely the house is destroyed. Many neighbors cannot see the flames and suggest that the reports of a fire are erroneous and based upon ancient neighborhood traditions. In fact, some neighbors strongly suggest that the homeowner has a right to have his home destroyed by fire. The homeowner himself sits in his living room, unaware of the grave circumstances surrounding him.

Now some neighbors claim that the way to respond is to outlaw fire, although the fire starts naturally from lightning or from the home owner himself. Some homeowners claim to love fire. Still the fire rages, and still the debate over what to do continues. There are some neighbors who desire to speak to the homeowner and tell him of the dangers of fire, and they also desire to educate the entire neighborhood as well. Many join in with this point of view. The fire is immoral and must be stopped.

There is much back and forth within the neighborhood but many fires continue to burn and many more are started. But there are group of neighbors who insist that the reason for these fires is because the homeowners are blind and cannot see these fires and they are deaf and cannot hear the warnings. These neighbors strongly believe that all homeowners need eye and ear transplants so they can see, hear, and understand. They suggest that until the homeowner receives new ears and eyes, he cannot and will not understand and change his ways. Just addressing the fires, they say, cannot solve the problem. In short, the fire is not the problem; the homeowner is the problem.
This weekend saw a gathering of evangelical leaders and presidential hopefuls. The men and women were “courting” the religious right in hopes of eliciting their votes next year. The main issues were abortion, gay marriage, national security, and the economy. I completely understand the entire political procession and all the temporal accoutrements that accompany such spectacles. Humanism demands the abilities and power of man, usually leveraged by force, or in this case, the gathering of numerical supremacy. That is exactly what the humanistic Greeks thought when they instituted democracy.

But what I cannot understand is why people who know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and who profess to believe He is the only way to eternal life, can engage is such temporal things and in so doing mask the gospel with moral ornaments and political dominance. The church in America continues to bring water buckets to a fire without realizing that the homeowner needs a new heart. How do I know this? Because I only am pro-life because I was born again. I only view adultery and homosexuality as sinful because God changed my heart. I was not convinced by science or political pressure or voting blocks, but only by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God AFTER I became a believer.

What shall it profit a man if he is on the right side of all the moral issues but loses his own soul? We cannot, we must not, soil our garments by participation in the cesspool of politics because in so doing we besmirch the glory of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ! This is not about “bringing America back to God” because America never was with God. America has always been a pluralistic nation that just like every nation considers her rights and her interests above those of other countries. Is that the teachings of Christ? American politics has infiltrated the visible church and deceived Christ’s disciples into believing that God calls us to protect America's interests. In fact, no follower of Jesus should love any country at all! (I realize some will desire to stone me for that one!)

I do not hate America. What I do hate is when we engage in sinful activities and somehow claim it is God’s will. If there is anything that can be called sin it is the America political extravaganza that is built upon the foundation of obscene amounts of money, power, judgment, self righteousness, and allegiance to a carnal system. I do take heart in knowing that many believers have come to realize that what we have been taught about nationalism, democracy, and political clout is against the teachings of the New Testament. But still many are weighted down with politics and “conservative” issues.

We have strayed from the cross and the empty tomb, and we have reduced the glorious labor of God’s Son into moral squabbles and national interests. We have made democracy an idol, and we have made the founding fathers into saints. But the early believers knew no such compromise, and the clear teachings of Scripture call us out to be a different and peculiar people. In the coming months you will see how the world seeks to accomplish their hopes and dreams, and you will see many churches support candidates based upon some moral stands and promises.

But shun your own self righteousness about it. Do not allow your carnal nature to be lifted up just because you do not participate in the political process. Most of us can remember when we used to be among the political throngs, but I can tell you that there is much freedom when God leads you out. Suddenly I can love a Barney Frank or a Michelle Bachmann or a Barak Obama. Why? Because I see them all through the prism of God’s redemption, and I stand completely upon the foundation of my own need of God’s grace.

As you see the coming political spectacle, remember to keep looking for Him who presented the greatest spectacle of all many years ago in Jerusalem. And He supports no political party or agenda.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Know This

If your church takes pride in rejecting and standing against accepting the practice of homosexuality, then know this. You have done no more than orthodox Jews and Muslims. Being like Jesus is more, much more, than just rejecting the obvious.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Word of the Lord is Rare

I Sam.3:1 - And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision. (KJV)

I Sam.3:1 - 1 Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD before Eli. And word from the LORD was rare in those days, visions were infrequent. (NAS)

We live in a spiritual environment of compromise, confusion, and outright apostasy. Just because there are millions of Bibles in America does not mean that the Word of the Lord is not rare. It is. Men and women of all stripes have elevated themselves and are drawing millions away from the gospel and the Risen Christ with their vain philosophies and their works based salvation. And in a stroke of diabolical genius, they have used the very words of written Scripture to do so. They wrest Scripture to their own destruction.

And on the other end of the spectrum lives the “orthodox” camp of believers who rail against these false teachers but are blind to the depth of their own spiritual need and the rampant self righteousness they often exhibit. In fact, while we should honor the Scriptures as God’s Word, we should refrain from worshiping those Words and making them an idol, especially our own doctrines. It seems like a fine line but it is an important distinction.

The Word is not believed in the West anymore. Just the Sermon on the Mount reveals the abject unbelief in the church. Believers lay up for themselves treasures, and worry about a litany of things. Christ’s teaching on divorce, if taken literally, would revolutionize the western church. And “offer the other cheek”? That teaching is rarely addressed much less obeyed. And who fasts anymore?

Lk.14:33 - So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

Who believes that in its unvarnished and undiluted form? Tell me, brethren, what indeed have we forsaken for Him? Do we live with debt? How many televisions do we own? How full are our clothes closets? How many shoes line our closet floors? Do we spend ridiculous amounts of money to eat out, and how much food do we waste? How much do we spend on our dogs and on all sorts of entertainment as compared with how much we give to the poor and to missions?

We have legions of Bibles and translations, but where is the Word of the Lord? Where are the words that present such transcendent truths and are filled with such power that they use believer’s lives as incandescent beacons that shine forth the Word of Life?

Phil.2:14-15 - Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
16 Holding forth the word of life

Where is that glorious light that undeniably marks the followers of Jesus? Where is the utter humility that allows a life to be abused for the sake of Jesus Christ without complaining or retaliation? Where are the lives that live in such moderation that they might appear to be eccentric? Why are the followers of Christ and His Word so blended into the darkened culture? We get “persecuted” for moral causes and stands, but rarely, if ever, for Jesus’ sake. Instead of being “epistles read of all men” we have settled for a place at the table that is one of many.

Our doctrines and systematic theologies have become museums of Scripture where we proclaim and defend theological positions and truths. But shouldn’t our lives be the canvas that exhibits those Scriptures most brilliantly? We boldly proclaim the Trinity and refuse to compromise in the slightest, but we are oh so willing to dilute and manipulate the “love your enemy” teaching. We love to doctrinally embrace the cross of Jesus Christ and its saving power, but are we willing to die there for the sake of the vilest of sinners?

The western church has become so backslidden and so hard of hearing that we do not even recognize our desperate need of a revival. In the midst of millions upon millions of Bibles in print, on Cds, and on the internet, the Word of the Lord is indeed rare.