Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Enemies - What Do We Do?

Matt.5:42-44 - Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
43 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;
Lk.6:34-36 - And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Rom.12:19-21 - Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
t has been a steadily rising phenomenon within western evangelicalism, until it has become accepted and practiced with no inward conviction whatsoever. It has been embraced through all sorts of different monikers and labels, and it has become a plentiful source of carnality, as well as the impetus for inter-congratulatory accolades within the “We are orthodox” community of faith. It thrives with a seemingly endless amount of fodder with which to stoke its fires.
This is the expansive way in which the church identifies, targets, and attacks its “enemies”. If we adhere to the New Testament there are enemies of the cross and enemies of the gospel and enemies of Christ. The core element was always spiritual. But in today’s evangelical climate, particularly in the west, the definition of enemies has been expanded. Our enemies are now liberals, and socialists, and protestors, and gays, and an assortment of other sinners who are lost and exhibit certain moral views that are unbiblical. They are now our enemies.
But where is the gospel in all this? And what indeed are we suggesting? Are we saying that only lost sinners who remain within accepted parameters of sinful behavior are objects of our love and Christ’s redemption? It is very unseemly and uproots the very Person of Christ and His gospel. And it also reveals a striking devaluation of the depth of our own sin, especially before we were regenerated. But the western church has embraced a form of legalism that fights a cultural battle but ignores the loving battle for the souls of men.
“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.”
s that practiced with passion and enthusiasm? Do believers really love Barney Frank or Bill Clinton or President Obama? And what level of hypocrisy demands with conviction an orthodox definition of the Trinity but can simultaneously ignore the teachings of Christ about loving your enemies? And those who speak evil of lost sinners and who report the daily behaviors of fallen man in order to energize hatred for those “enemies”, have in their doctrinal statement and declare with vigor that the Bible is inerrant! But the Scriptures that command love for our enemies are somehow diluted if not completely ignored. Are they not just as inerrant?
And the New Testament goes much further. It commands us to help and feed our enemies. But so many in the church wail and complain about the latest tax situation and the liberal agendas and in so doing they are drawn away from the gospel and the open teachings of Christ. And the world sees us as nothing more than a bastion of moral dictates that enjoys a good fight. How despicable!
And so many seem to feel that God is calling them to defend America. And standing upon that carnal foundation, they spew forth castigations toward lost sinners with no regard to the sufferings of our Savior Who died to save them. This nationalistic and moralistic battle continues to violently misrepresent Christ and obliterates the gospel message. But we can take solace in the fact that we have our enemies in our crosshairs rather than in our vision of the cross.
God has His enemies, and He will deal with them. But our enemies are three fold: the devil, the world system, and our own flesh. The church has now adopted a world view that reserves redemption for written doctrinal expressions, and the western church, by and large, exhibits a pathological lack of compassion. And sometimes it is these “enemies” that bind together fellowships and certain orthodox cliques. It is most disturbing and unfortunate.
But the heart of the law is love. Love God and love others. But in this climate of discernment and moral safaris, the love thing has lost its fervor and even its meaning. Love is for the Valentine’s Day banquet at church, but not for the HIV infected gay person, and certainly not for the liberals who seek to destroy America. Love is now defined by our emotions which must be energized by that which deserves our love. And so the church kicks the publican to the curb and loves the orthodox brother who champions what we champion. What a revelation of circular self gratification.
But we have not learned this from Christ, who died for His enemies. Just the Sermon on the Mount is enough New Testament to unmask us as frauds. And loving your enemies does not come just because we decide to love them. That kind of love can only come through His power and sincere prayer that asks, even begs, God to change our hearts. And we as saints must smell like goats, even while being sheep. If we continue to stay an arms length away from the lost, to say nothing of hurling verbal projectiles in their directions, we not only are straying from the teachings of Christ, but we have created another religion not unlike Islam.
Oh yes, when we construct a religion of rules that evangelizes through moral adherence and political force, then we are practicing a religion of laws with a light smattering of Jesus. Yes, Islam light, without the violence.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christian Research Network Endorses the Philosophy
Ayn Rand
I would like to draw your attention to an article posted on Christian Research Network. It is entitled “Should Churches be Helping Occupy Wall Street” and it is posted by a woman named Marsha West who is a contributor to CRN. It openly links to this article. Ms. West is a professing believer who is a nationalist and a moralist. The sad part is that this site used to be primarily involved in confronting doctrinal heresy within the visible church but now has slid into the political morass as well as a noticeable shift toward nationalism.
But I found this post especially arresting since it deals with an issue that should separate Christians from the rest of the religious continuum. I want to deal specifically with West’s post and the outrageous article to which she linked. Just the paragraph she copied is an astounding misrepresentation of the faith taught by Jesus Christ and should be an affront to all who claim His name.
The Occupiers are Socialists and they are at war with America, not the same kind of war that our military fights overseas, but war nonetheless. It is an internal, ideological war. They want to obliterate Capitalism and any church that helps them has taken sides with Socialism and is supporting our enemy.”
That sentence was written by a woman named Charlotte Cushman who admittedly is a student of the Jewish philosopher named Ayn Rand. If you read any of Ayn Rand’s works you may quickly see that she does not subscribe to the Biblical truths set forth by Scripture and Christ Himself. In fact, she declared that selfishness is a virtue and altruism a vice. But look at those words! If you help people who do not agree with your nationalistic philosophy, especially capitalism, you are aiding the enemy? And since when do we derive our life guidelines from unbelievers? You see, nationalism and the patriotic spirit are poison to the humble and sacrificial life that follows Jesus.
And in the same linked article we have these words,
As Ayn Rand said, "The right to life is the source of all rights -- and the right to property is their only implementation. Without property rights, no other rights are possible. Since man has to sustain his life by his own effort, the man who has no right to the product of his effort has no means to sustain his life."“
Oh my. How in God’s Dear Name can a blog who claims to be Christian, much less who also claims to lean toward the reformed side of things, link to such outright heresy? And this is a blog which also touts its discernment credentials and asks for financial support as well! This is heresy at its very finest and yet since patriotism is so strongly embedded in the mind of so many believers they can and do embrace people like Ayn Rand and Charlotte Cushman?
Read those words again. Without property rights no other rights are possible?? What kind of moon man talk is that? And then there is this from that same article:
If a church truly wanted to help the Occupiers I would suggest that they tell them they can spend the night in their church provided they watch some videos or read some books that would educate them about the history and morality of Capitalism. Now that would be real help -- for them and for us.”
Can there be any more anti-christian and anti-gospel nonsense than this? And yet this is posted on one of the discernment sites that claims to be a “leader” in the confrontation of error. To be fair it was not posted by the administrator, Ken Silva, but I should think that he should remove it and print a retraction. That would be the only honorable and Christian thing to do. This is not some interecclesiastical squabble. This is blatant heresy and humanism.
I will soon be posting about appropriate Christian behavior and attitude toward our enemies as taught by Christ.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Treachery of Inclusivism

Inculsivism is the teaching that every person born will be saved, and that hell, if it exists, will be empty. Some even go so far as to suggest Satan himself with wind up in heaven.
Matt.25:46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
Matt.13:42And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Rev.21:8But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Unless you play fast and extremely loose with the Scriptures, there is no denying that they teach a two place eternity. One is with Christ, and one is a place of eternal justice. I need not sensationalize the atmosphere of the place called hell, but suffice to say it must be beyond our comprehension. That of course is the reverse in the place called heaven.
And since the teachings of Scripture do illuminate us to the place called hell, would it not be our divine duty to warn people about such a place and the prospect of them spending eternity there? But instead of a passionate and compassionate warning, the church has systematically relegated hell to the doctrinal abstract, even constructing church services designed to make people feel better about themselves. Of course no one would suggest that every service be centered on hell, but in today’s evangelical atmosphere the subject is rarely broached and if it is touched upon it is with such dispassion that almost no one could be convinced that we actually believe such a thing.
But as if this spiritual lethargy is not enough, there is a growing movement afoot that teaches that there is no such place as hell, and even if there is, God will not send anyone there. They say God will save everyone, and in the words of a prominent false teacher, “Love Wins”. And the implications of such a teaching have eternal consequences. If you are a Calvinist, then it changes nothing and that should make the consequences very minimal and relegated to an affront to God’s truth.
But if you believe, as I do, that Christ died for ever single sinner, and that all men were in the redemptive heart of God, then convincing people that hell is not even a prospect is a vicious and damnable heresy that can soothe a sinner’s conscience and harden his heart toward the gospel. It can and does blind a sinner to the offer of redemption and many will die in their sins and spend eternity in the place they were told did not exist. Souls are in the balance.
This new inclusivism has many false components. Many of these teachers suggest that Jesus can be found in all religions, which is a blatant rejection of Scripture. It is another facet of the social gospel which diminishes the sacrifice at Calvary and applies redemptive value to the works of man. It also suggests that a monotheistic view can circumvent faith in Jesus Christ and elicit the eternal grace of God. All this without a personal faith in Jesus Christ.
Of what use is the Great Commission if all are to be saved? The inclusivist, or universalist, claims that the Great Commission is only to inform sinners that they are already saved so that they may lead a more fulfilling life. This is absurd and bears no resemblance to Scriptural Christianity and is an affront to all those who have given their very lives to reach the lost. It is not just the “easy way out”, but it is a lie spawned from hell.
We should not revel in the damnation of sinners, but we also should not give it a passing nod either. If indeed everyone who dies spends eternity in one of two places, and if indeed every sinner has been offered eternal life through Jesus Christ, then that must be the overwhelming priority of the church.
Jude:23 - And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
For all intensive purposes the church has lost the fear of God, and if we do not have a healthy fear of Almighty God, then how can we expect the lost to understand the consequences of their sin? And as the days go by with all of us either battling or surrendering to the cares of this present world, the gospel message suffers. And in the vacuum of authentic and passionate preaching about eternal consequences, the message of inclusivism comes to fill it.
I always feel uncomfortable defending the doctrine of hell because it is so unpleasant to even consider, and I am well aware of how short I fall in my own attempts to warn others and share Christ. But regardless of how we measure up to God’s truth, it is still truth. And we are commanded to preach His truth and not just that truth which we obey perfectly, which is none of it.
Beware of these false teachers. But also, let us pray earnestly that God will break up the fallow ground in us and the church at large so that we can with compassion, urgency, and passion share Christ with others as we warn them about their eternity.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


a : religious fervor : piety
b : an act of prayer or private worship
c : a religious exercise or practice other than the regular corporate worship of a congregation
Rom.5:6-8 - For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
e use the terms saved, believers, Christians, and other labels to identify people who hold Jesus as Lord and Savior. But these terms sometimes are not much more than a religious stamp that only differentiates us from Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and all the rest. And these terms have become so commonplace and overused and generously applied to almost anyone, that many unbelievers use them as pejoratives.
No one says, when referring to a believer in Jesus, that there is a cross bearer, or there is a living sacrifice. The Christian brand has been reduced to a diluted, after market item that bears a striking similarity to all the other brands, including the cultural brand. But there is a world of difference between being saved by Jesus and being devoted to Jesus. There are literally tens of millions of people in this country who claim to be saved but who exhibit little evidence of being devoted to Christ.
I like the fact that Webster identifies the private aspect of devotion. When the preponderance of your spiritual life consists of two or less hours on Sunday morning, then you can hardly be called a devoted disciple. And to a large extent, those two hours on Sunday mornings represent the only aspect of some “saved” people’s spiritual life. And while the church has become a well organized center for the saved, it has also lost the meaning of devotion.
The weight of our devotion to Christ can be measured by the time we spend in prayer, meditation, the Word, and in private worship. In short, what you practice when no one is around is who you really are. And it can also be said that the amount of time you spend with Christ privately is in direct proportion to your personal revelation of Who He is. It is most disturbing to see how the church has let the devotions of the inner man fall by the wayside while we continue to build buildings, gather financial faith pledges, defend doctrines, and generally stir up all kinds of religious activities.
We have westernized our so called discipleship and even incorporated the cultural impurities into our lives and our worship. We now are devoted to the cares of this world and of our own personal endeavors. And our children are now reared in a Christian home that watches inordinate amounts of television, speaks carelessly about other people, and is consumed with the worries associated with money and things. Rare would be the case where the children of the home hear the prayers of their father or mother coming through a locked bedroom door. And rare would be the case where the children have become accustomed to seeing their parents spend quantities of time pouring over the Word of God. And the next generation adds to the dilution of what is means to be a devoted follower of the Lord Jesus.
But let us take a moment and meditate upon the object of any devotion, the Lord Jesus Himself. For our devotion should never emanate from a legalistic structure or even a desire to appear devoted. Our devotion must come from a deep and penetrating love for the Lord Jesus that is empowered by an ever growing revelation of Who He is. If Christ is our Lord and Savior, and if He indeed purchased eternal life for us, then just sheer gratefulness should produce a level of devotion.
But do not misunderstand what I am about to say. Jesus, the Lord Christ, the Second Person of the Triune God, is more than just our Redeemer. And our devotion to Him should not be exclusively about us, although that is always a consuming element. Jesus is the Creator of all things. He has always been exalted and high and lifted up. His being is beyond beautiful and beyond splendor. He reigns with regal magnificence, and His very presence shines with unimaginable glory. He is all powerful and all knowing. He is perfect in mercy and perfect in justice.
The Apostle John gets a passing glimpse on Patmos and falls at His feet as though dead! The same apostle who rested upon the bosom of Christ sees the Risen Christ for but a moment and is undone before Him. Paul is allowed a glimpse and goes blind. Our Lord is much more than can be approached by the human mind. As Spurgeon once observed, “Upon the very first glimpse of the Risen Christ we will think ourselves a thousand fools to have ever been allured by anything upon this earth!
August and without blemish. Majestic and covered in His own glory. Surrounded by hovering Seraphim and worshiped by all creatures. This Jesus is the King of all eternity. But we cannot, and we must not, escape the reality of what this God has done. To understand His colossal majesty we need not look just to the vast expanse of the heavens. The wonder of creation is breathtaking, and His power is revealed in its greatness. Nature itself is a mind bending wonder.
But in order to grasp a more complete vision of the greatness of God we need to travel to a small hill just outside the City of Peace. God can make a universe with but a word, but Christ had to suffer to purchase us. God suffers? If we meditate upon such a notion it must take us into the realm of the sacred. To speak of God in all His immortal power and glory, and then see Him on a Roman cross, is incongruous to the natural mind.
But there He is. High and lifted up once more, but with bloody wounds etched upon His battered frame. The word “love” rolls so effortlessly off the human tongue. But this kind of love shakes the foundation of its meaning. God’s love is much, much different, and it is displayed in a way which screams injustice. But His injustice is our redemption. Do you desire to elevate your devotion to Jesus? I do.

and pray that we will be known as devoted followers of Christ.
Behold He Comes

Matt.24:3-13 - And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
he world sleeps while they are awake, and the church by and large mirrors the world. The days are evil and continue to constrict the time of His arrival, but the church continues to act as if He will never come, except for the Second Coming embedded in our doctrinal statements. If we stop and consider the implications of His coming, if indeed it is a literal reality that is as real as His first coming, then how is it that we are so lukewarm and content in our present spiritual state? And even the most militantly orthodox among us live lives so unremarkable within the culture that their distinctiveness is almost completely doctrinal without what should be a corresponding lifestyle.
If we truly and completely believe that Jesus is coming again, and if we believe that the signs are closing in around us, then why are our lives so redundant and so fully camouflaged inside this fallen culture? The answer is as painful as it is simple: We do not actually believe what we say. Doctrine without works is dead. Just defending truth with words and Scriptural exegesis falls immeasurably short of an observable exhibition of the authenticity of our beliefs.
If there is a lack of passion that escapes the parameters of “normal” behavior as set forth by the unbelieving culture, then those around us have every right to remain unconvinced of that truth, and especially unconvinced that we ourselves are convinced of that truth. In short, if we are living in a fallen culture and are exhibiting a reasonable facsimile of those around us, save a few spoken convictions about a few moral issues, then we are by all standards frauds.
The believing followers of Jesus must have some attributes in word and in deed that profoundly distinguish them from those who refuse to follow Christ. And these words and these deeds must be arresting and observable and with such a peculiarity about them that those in darkness are confronted with what we believe simply due to the overwhelming weight of our idiosyncratic existence. To put it simply, we should be like Jesus. And in that context, we should also be looking for His return in such a profound way that it affects our being and significantly alters our entire lifestyle.
And I say this with conviction: Jesus is coming soon. This is no time to settle in and rest in your orthodoxy. This is not the time to sup from the world’s cup or get caught up with earthly issues. If the Son of God is on the brink of His return, then we cannot be entangled with the affairs of this world and its antichrist system. But it is not enough to refrain from participating in what the world believes is important. No, we must be diligent in allowing the Spirit to transform our thoughts, our speech, our hearts, and our very lives.
The old cliché is still applicable. What would Jesus do? And how would Jesus live today if He Himself lived right beside you? No wonder the lost world doesn’t even feel confronted with the question that Jesus Himself asked: Who do you say that I am? The lost world continues to field moral grounders from the church but rarely is confronted with line drives that target the question that can save men’s souls. If Jesus is coming back soon, and if we say we believe that, then everything is on the table. And to be honest, we have a great deal to change personally and collectively. If we are to be believed, then mere words will not suffice.
Lk.12:39-40 - And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.
40 Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
Ti.2:11-14 - For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
his temporal existence will soon be over, and the other side of eternity will soon begin. Churches by the thousands have workshops and Sunday School lessons about many earthly endeavors. Marriage, finances, health, and politics are but a few of the hot topics that saturate the evangelical church. But where is the class entitled, “Preparing for Eternity”? How about a class about prayer that instead of teaching about prayer does nothing but pray?
How tragic it is that we who claim to know and worship Him have so diminished His coming that it has little if any effect upon our lives. He is the Blessed Hope that we should be anticipating. Our hearts should be bursting as we envision bowing before our Majestic Redeemer in all His unspeakable glory! But alas, the cares of this world have overtaken us in ways that bind us to the temporal and blind us to the eternal. And in our present condition we lose such blessings that can only come from God’s Spirit. Only the Lord can bless us for no earthly reason and with just a shaft of light that lifts the veil ever so slightly and rewards us with a fresh revelation of Him.
In the Tabernacle the shekinah glory rested upon the mercy seat between the cherubim. It was a taste of God’s glory. But God’s glory in all its fullness was embodied in the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus the Christ. John said, And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. But that glory was shielded by His borrowed human form.
When He comes again, the shield will no longer filter His eternal glory. And His brilliance will fill the heavens and we will join the angelic hosts and worship before Him. That coming reality can never be captured by words, but as believers the vision should imprison our hearts and minds in such a way as to mold our lives accordingly. We will see Jesus.

Oft times the day seems long, our trials hard to bear,
We're tempted to complain, to murmur and despair;
But Christ will soon appear to catch His Bride away,
All tears forever over in God's eternal day.

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life's trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Allurement of Imagery

The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic, and cultural conditions of the times. This began a major shift in human history, especially in Europe and North America. And somewhere after 1850, that same Revolution took another quantum leap with the combustible engine and the spread of electrical power. And during the 1800s the camera began to emerge with still photographs.
Later on came color photography, and in the late 1800s the first movie camera was used, and today, with all the upgrades and added features, the video cameras and television cameras present images that are almost perfect. Combined with different angles, special features, and clever editing many times what comes into our homes seems almost like being there.
Now before all this took place preachers could only reach those within the sound of their voice or those to whom they could provide their writings, provided they could or would read. And those preachers who moved crowds had to either have the anointing of God upon their lives, or they had to have an unusual oratorical prowess. But times have drastically changed.
No longer does anyone have to have a call upon their lives, much less an anointing upon their ministry. Through the miracle of technology the masses are now affected and influenced by the power of a superior media that presents people in an imaginary light and which covers their humanity and enhances every area of their image. It also magnifies their communication skills, and replaces anointing with a fictional abstraction. In short, it is masterful way in which people are manipulated and controlled.
And “poof!”, you have the modern day Christian television phenomenon. This is now the genre where equipment is the essential and not the message. The most egregious misrepresentation of the gospel can be presented to millions of people and it can and does elicit a following as well as generous financial support. But had the preacher been dressed modestly and without makeup or background music or carefully edited testimonies by some of his followers, well then the outcome would be substantially different.
Hollywood realizes the power of imagery and perception. The rallies at Nuremburg were great examples of manipulation through imagery and visual pageantry. And the church has learned well from the world and now incorporates these techniques and reaches through the television screen to capture people’s minds and open their pocketbooks. Millions of people surrender their minds to the allurement of religious falsehoods showcased in an atmosphere of theatrical exploitation led by air brushed thespians.
It is this kind of technology that the enemy has used most effectively to gain the hearts and minds of shallow believers and religious minded unbelievers. The eye gate seems to be the most prominent of all the senses and when it is compromised, most of the time the heart and mind follow.
Matt.6:22-23 - The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

And this kind of deception plays right into this modern day technological fairy tale. Instead of Biblical truth and the Person of Christ being the captivating power, it is now the production expertise. And all it takes is a one hour or even a one half hour skillful production and many minds have been led into the abyss, albeit with wonderful color and timely close ups as well as enticing words of men’s wisdom.
And the false teacher makes false promises and portrays God as sitting back and waiting for your monetary offering before he will grant you your earthly wish. That isn’t God, that is the money changer that Christ abhorred and whose tables He overturned. And though these heretics make such outlandish and Scripturally vacuous statements, the cinematography and overall theatrical production overwhelms people’s senses which dulls the spirit, excites the flesh, and leads them astray.
And voilà! You have the western evangelical church that follows man and the culture in which it lives. Who, in years passed, would have ever dreamed that preachers would teach that God wants His followers rich, and that the way to that wealth is to give to men? No one would have believed such a thing! But technology has replaced spirituality; accumulation has replaced sacrifice; self esteem has replaced humility; and imagery has replaced authenticity.

The Industrial Revolution was supposed to be used to spread the gospel.

It wasn’t supposed to replace the gospel.
Give Thanks for ALL Things?

Can I give thanks for -

God’s correction in my life?
The personal hurts that have made me stronger?
God’s forgiveness when I have sinned?
My poor health?
Fiery trials?
Uncertain finances?
The rebuke of the Spirit?
The times I’ve needed to repent?

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


While President, George Washington gave emergency financial and military relief to French slave owners in Haiti to suppress a slave rebellion. President Washington also signed bills into law that allowed slave owners to recapture their slaves in any state. And when plans were made to sell off one of his female slaves and separate her from members of her family, that slave ran off and made it into the north. When that female slave wanted to discuss her situation with Washington, he said he would not deal with a slave as an equal. He personally owned as many as 300 slaves.
This is the President that made Thanksgiving a national holiday exclusively for white people. Another man made holiday designed to feign spirituality, give faint praise to some God, and to positively impact the economy. I often wonder how the sin of gluttony glorifies God. And there will be considerably more football watched than prayer.
Americans…no one can match our self righteous ingenuity.
Unashamedly Worshiping Jesus

Lk.7:36-50 - And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat.
37 And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,
38 And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
39 Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.
40 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.
41 There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.
42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?
43 Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.
44 And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.
45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.
46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.
47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
48 And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.
49 And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?
50 And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.
love this story. Imagine this lowly woman of a sordid reputation having the audacity to enter the house among the spiritual Bourgeoisie, the Pharisees and the disciples of Jesus, and she began to weep. All the dry eyed doctrinal elite in the house were offended and murmured among themselves. In fact, had the Pharisees had their own blog they would have written about the awful compromise that this Jesus of Nazareth showed by allowing such a slut to worship Him. And the comment thread in their article would be filled with people magnifying such a disgraceful compromise and loudly suggesting that they themselves would never have allowed that woman anywhere near them.
You see, in the workings of the ecclesiastical structure certain sinners have been tagged and bagged and are persona non grata, unless of course they publicly repent and show a track record of at least one year of monk-like separation from their former selves. And if this woman happened to be a lesbian, oh dear God in heaven, that would have brought the house down. I mean come on, a lesbian coming to Jesus, without the required portfolio of good works and fruit authenticating repentance, and Jesus allows her to worship Him? And obviously she still had many unforgiven sins since Jesus forgave them.
But while the Pharisees and to some degree the disciples watched with different levels of disapproval or at least bewilderment, Jesus begins to strip them of their self righteousness. He addresses His own disciples with an uncomfortable comparison with this woman, and in so doing exposes their hypocrisy and elevates the heart of worship beating within that woman.
Let’s face it. The disciples were in the presence of important Pharisees who were the church officials of their day. How would it have looked if they had been seen bowing down to Jesus or being overly affectionate? It was still early in His ministry and they must maintain some decorum. So they all shuffled into this Pharisee’s home and sat down ready to eat. Perhaps the disciples felt like they could make inroads with these Pharisees and an uncomfortable display of love and submission to Jesus would present a problem.
But here comes this woman, entering with complete abandon, and disrupting this men’s club. But she does not care. And she comes in and begins to weep. Many times I cannot hold back the tears myself when I read this story. Believers by the millions file in and out of church where supposedly they met corporately with Jesus, and their eyes have never even been moist. But this woman weeps openly before strangers and in the presence of important men. She does not care who sees her or who judges her. Why?
Her entire being is focused upon Jesus the Christ. And she carries with her an ointment of great value which she lavishes upon Christ. And notice what the Scriptures say. The woman stayed behind Jesus. She would not even dare to move in front of him, but she wept and cleaned His feet from behind with her tears. Dear Lord in heaven, how shallow is our worship these days? How many songs does it take to whip up a congregation before they even feel a tinge of emotion? And how often is that emotion a direct result of the beat and melody and volume of the music and not the overwhelming worship of the Lord Jesus?
So here she is, cleaning His feet with tears and wiping them with her hair. How many women spend much time with their hair on Sunday mornings without spending five minutes with Christ before church? And how many would gladly and enthusiastically allow their hair to be mussed up if the Spirit so imprisoned their hearts in worship that they fell down in Christ’s presence? And we men are no better. Can you not see how we have worshiped our outer man and given to Jesus whatever is left over or whatever the praise team can pull out of us?
And finally the woman spills the expensive ointment upon His precious feet. The entire spectacle interrupts this important meal and elicits condemnation form the Pharisees. And their condemnation was not so much about the woman, but about Christ who should have know who this woman was if indeed He was a prophet. How disgusting is the pride of man, and there is nothing worse than spiritual and religious pride. And there they sat, aghast at what they just witnessed and with the fragrance of the ointment invading their senses.
But get ready, for Jesus explains it all. After He rebukes the disciples for even entertaining condemnation for this woman, Jesus unfolds a colossal truth. This woman, a sinner, loved much because she has been forgiven much. And her love for Jesus was so great and so strong that embarrassment was never an issue. It did not matter that she interrupted a dinner; it did not matter that important people were there; it did not matter that Jesus' own disciples might object; it did not matter that these men knew her reputation; nothing mattered to her. All she knew, all she wanted to know, is that jesus had forgiven her for her many, many sins and in light of that she was overwhelmed with a love so strong the earthly etiquettes were of no consequences.
Again I weep as I write this since I also am overwhelmed both by how Jesus has forgiven me and also how tepid I so often am in my obedience and worship toward my Wonderful Lord and Master. Let us be painfully honest, we are nothing without Christ. All our successes, all our possessions, all our friends and family, all our so called intellect, all our overstated writing skills, all of it is nothing more than a colossal pile of refuse and animal waste compared to knowing Jesus the Christ!
And the redundancy of our spiritual experience has petrified our hearts in such a way that we now worship and adore our King of Kings with self imposed parameters so as not to be seen as extreme. We have gooten used to the cross. God forbid that we might drop to our knees once in a while in church, I mean how would that look to others? And if we began to weep loudly in the presence of others we might be judged as unstable. Oh yes, we have freely received the eternal forgiveness of God’s Son and have been called to one day live with Him forever, but in return for that eternal extravagance we remain reserved and unremarkable with the ecclesiastical culture.
I mean there has to be some protocol that prohibits demonstrative expressions of grateful worship that emanate powerfully from a heart that has been illuminated to the monumental cost it took to ransom our souls, right? This woman, this sinful woman, exhibit’s a spiritual abandon that should make us all weep. Why has the church settled into a redundant and predictable display that belies what we say we believe, to say nothing of how it belies the glory of the Risen Christ?
And this woman worships Christ before His passion and before His sufferings. And here we stand. We know all about His intense sufferings and the blood soaked sacrifice. We know He was beaten unmercifully in our stead. We know they shoved thorns into His scalp and while the blood covered His face they mocked Him - for us. We know it, dear God. And still we are tepid and reserved in our expressions and we can go to and fro for years without a single tear, to say nothing of being so broken we are undone - publicly.
We know about the lashes administered with enthusiasm upon His back. We know His body was shredded while wicked men laughed and mocked. We know that even before the cross His beautiful body was riddled with deep and penetrating and vicious wounds, and that He became a blood soaked mess, and yet we can take communion without one tear of pathos and unbridled gratefulness? And this woman knew none of that.
And we know how His limbs were nailed to a cruel, Roman cross. Not just hands, but feet? Nailed!? Oh my dear Lord, how often have we heard the facts of that event as if we were listening to the news? I could not bear to watch the feet of my worst enemy be nailed to a plank. How can I bear to think the Lamb of God, my one and only Savior, had His feet nailed with large, dirty spikes? I am not ashamed to say I can hardly see the computer screen.
And they took this bloody human shell and lifted Him up into the air so that all could jeer and mock. God, our Creator, nailed to a Roman plank. And can you not see his chest heave as He seeks breath? And there He is, writhing in pain, but He asks the Father to forgive these wicked and vile men???? And we are so quick to judge almost anyone for the smallest infraction? The serpent that was lifted up in the wilderness was made of gold. When it was attached to its wooden stake it felt no pain and experienced no shame. But here is the Son of the Living God, impaled upon two wooden stakes, and suffering beyond all human knowledge.
And we know all that. This woman did not realize that, but yet her worship was unrestrained and spoke of a grateful heart that did not even know about how those feet she washed would one day receive nails. But still her heart was so full that she could not hold back her broken worship even though it meant being judged by others. And why is it today that we know all about His sufferings and how the cross, with all its gore and glory, exposes the love of Almighty God, unspeakable and full of glory. And yet with that knowledge we have allowed the culture to mold our worship and restrain us from any remarkable acts of worship and obedience?
How can we go day by day and year by year with a dry eyed, doctrinally petrified expression of a life that supposedly follows and worships the Christ? This woman’s act should not only shame us, but it should lead us to take inventory of Christ and His cross, juxtaposed against the weight of our sins, and that should, that must, lead us to deepen the stakes and lengthen the ropes of out spiritual tents. It should break our hearts...for Him. Lord make it so…
Some Humor!
Have you seen this on the news? Some politician is speaking and suddenly someone shouts out, “Mic check!!” Then that person says something and the crowd repeats him, and he says something else and the crowd repeats that. It is both creative and silly, and on some level rude. But I have to laugh because what is being shouted is no more silly than what the politician is saying.
I think it started with the Occupy Wall Street people to help amplify a speaker’s voice without an electronic microphone system. One of the more entertaining moments is when Karl Rove was speaking and someone shouted, “Mic check!!” Then he said,
Karl Rove is the architect! (referring to Rove’s political label)
(The crowd repeats this)
Karl Rove is the architect of occupy Iraq!
(crowd repeats)
Karl Rove is the architect of occupy Afghanistan!
(crowd repeats)
At this juncture Rove shouts out,
If you believe in free speech you’ll shut up!
You know what? I used to think professional wrestling was silly and entertaining. I have a feeling this coming election cycle is going to be better than a Ringling Brother’s Circus show! Let me try it.

Mic check!!”
(echo mic check)
Politics is worthless!!”
(echo politics is worthless)

Hey, this is fun!
( A small dash of humor for us all!)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

At What Point Does He Become

Another Jesus?

II Cor.11:3-4 - But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. (NIV)
here is no greater issue than the Biblical presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now to be clear, anyone who teaches that a sinner can be saved through someone else is a lost, false teacher. I hope all of us would agree to that.
But there are many teachers who use the name of Jesus, read from the Bible, and boldly proclaim that Jesus is Lord. They even say that Jesus is the only way to eternal life. Their verbiage is peppered with portions of Scripture and they would be considered mainstream in their theology, even if some of their theology is not.
I would think that the most egregious example of using the name of Jesus and accepting His divinity, but presenting a completely different Jesus than the one revealed in Scripture, would be all the different streams of the health and wealth movement. And believe me, there are many, many streams of that theology. And that theology presents to us a conundrum, because most of them claim to be preaching about the real and Biblical Jesus, even while they describe His attributes, intentions, and purposes in direct violation to the Scriptures that define and reveal Him.
You do not have to search any further than Christian television in order to hear some preacher teaching about a Jesus who lives to please you and who wants to shower you with much wealth, happiness, and perfect health. And believe me when I tell you that what I just said minimizes the utter grotesque caricatures that now pass for the Lord Jesus, especially in the west.
So there can be no misunderstanding. These preachers are not just teaching about Jesus from a slightly different perspective. This isn’t just a squabble between Calvinism verses free will. No, indeed, this is a monstrous falsehood that goes beyond any reasonable interpretation of Scripture. And many of these preachers have so mangled the Biblical vision of the Risen Christ that we can safely say they are no longer preaching Jesus. They are now preaching a character of their own creation who they call Jesus. In short, another Jesus.
Now this is serious business. And this Jesus is inseparable from His gospel, so that anyone who preaches another Jesus also preaches another gospel. And Paul calls them accursed. Again, this is no insignificant skirmish among generally orthodox believers. When you deal with changing the gospel and changing the identity of Christ Jesus, you have entered into the supernova of falsehoods and the pinnacle of all apostasies.
And let us take it even further. The health and wealth teachings are not the only sect of Christianity who are guilty of presenting a false Jesus. There are many liberals and many within the emergent movement who have subtly eroded the clear picture of the Risen Christ and systematically molded Him into a nebulous religious figure who has a foot in all religions. There again we have another Jesus.
Beware of these modern day, self proclaimed prophets who draw disciples unto themselves while using the name of Jesus as leverage.
Acts 20:29-30 - For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
he wolves are here and many stand behind pulpits. Many write books. Many sell Cds and teaching helps. Many dress in the finest fashions and many drive very expensive automobiles. Many hire members of their own families to enjoy their ill gotten gains. Many hold "lectures" that require tickets. Many mock the historical teachings of the church, and many deconstruct the true image of the Risen Christ and reshape Him into a divine bell hop that jumps to our every desire.
Many will tell you that if you give money as some kind of seed that God will be your genie. Many will tell you that you need not ever be sick. Many will tell you that God will favor you if you give money to their “ministries”, which in truth are just collection plates for their own greedy pockets. But all this emanates from a false Christ. And rarely, if ever, will these fund raising thespians mention the cross except as another stepping stone to your earthly gain. All make man the center of the faith, and many will claim special revelation at some point.
They, my friends, are to be summarily rejected and left in God’s hands. I would not want to be in their shoes.
Col.1:17-19 - And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
o you like to be misrepresented? Do you enjoy it when lies are told about you? Christ, the Risen and Exalted Christ, must have all the preeminence. He deserves it and His sacrifice is a looking glass into His redemptive nature. We should not speak of Christ lightly, and we should reverence His mighty name always. But in this post modern world a new Jesus has sprung up. And not just one new Jesus, but a host of them.
This Jesus needs no reverence and He resembles a cosmic Santa Claus that runs to rain earthly pleasures upon all who line the pockets of other men. The deception is breathtaking and the gullibility of those who profess His name is tragic.
This is not the Christ before whom John fell down as though dead. This is not the Christ before whom angels bow. This is not the Christ around whom seraphim hover saying, “Holy, holy, holy, LORD God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” This is not the Christ before whose face the nations fled. This is not the Christ who comes in great power and glory and consumes the disobedient with the sword of His mouth.
This modern Jesus is a mirage, a creation spawned from the lusts of men, and a blatant lie dressed up as a fairy tale. This Jesus cannot save, cannot deliver, cannot redeem, and cannot hear the cries of men. This Jesus has been constructed to bring cars and houses and clothes and money to sinful men. This Jesus is an angel of light who is nothing more than a Luciferian image. This Jesus is the pathway to eternal death.
Behold, we now have modern descendants of Uzzah who present the Christ upon ox carts of their own evil imaginations. The Jesus they preach deserves our scorn rather than our worship. They have molded a calf from molten gold and labeled it “Jesus” and beckoned everyone to empty their pockets and reward the evil sculptors. But like Ahab, the people desire prophets who will tell them good things.
Jer.5:30-31 - A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land;
31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?
nd the people today love these false prophets and are willing to give in order to fill their personal treasure chests without question. And the enemy continues to sow tares that speak evil concerning Christ even though their words seem pleasant. It is quite the spectacle. But I will add another post later that I pray will speak to our hearts concerning how we speak about, live for, and worship the Lord Jesus.
Spurgeon on Christmas

"We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas: first, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be said or sung in Latin or in English; and, secondly, because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Savior; and, consequently, its observance is a superstition, and not because of divine authority."

C.H. Spurgeon
A Time to Rejoice!

II Cor.:11 - …In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.
aul praises the Church at Corinth because they repented and allowed the Spirit to change them!
Today, I am greatly encouraged. A little more than a decade ago God began to deal with me about the compromise of nationalism. I began to see that a believer should not have divided loyalties. I also saw the profound lies that I believed about the creation and nature of America. I had been sold a bill of goods and for almost 20 years of knowing Christ I practiced idolatry.
It all began with this piercing question: “Where in the New Testament is the church given permission to violently overthrow their government, even over taxes?” That question was posed to me by my best friend. I had never thought about it like that, and if I was to be honest about the Scriptures and honest with my own commitment to God’s truth then I could not just shrug it off.
Within a few days, after pouring over Scriptures I had read hundreds and perhaps thousands of times, I was faced with a choice. Either I would continue to ignore God’s truth and close my heart to God’s Spirit, or I was going to have to begin a different spiritual journey, one that I was sure would be met with resistance from friend and foe alike. I mean back in those days Rush Limbaugh and the “I hate Bill Clinton” atmosphere was at its peak within the church. (Sadly, some are still stuck there.) What a time to reexamine my patriotism!
In a very short time it became obvious that I couldn’t just address the issue from the safety of Scriptural philosophy without any practical implications. My youngest son attended Christian high school and was a starter on the varsity basketball team. Every game they would play the national anthem and people would stand with their hand over their hearts. And sometimes during school functions where parents were invited, they would recite the pledge of allegiance.
Now you may think these are minor things and in the greater context of what Christians around the world have to deal with I would heartily agree with you. However these were the challenges that faced me personally. What would I do? I did not desire to draw attention to myself, and I surely did not desire to cause my son problems at school. So when these rituals took place I would stand politely but I would not say the pledge or hold my hand over my heart. No one ever said a thing. I believe they did not notice.
And so my journey began. At first there was only a few believers who would even discuss it and fewer still who agreed with me. In fact, every time a brother or sister admitted to seeking out the Lord on the issue I was rejuvenated. And after the first few months of feeling superior, God humbled me and removed that ugly attitude of self righteousness, Isn’t that our constant battle in all things?
So here we are, almost 20 years from that point. But I have noticed something very unexpected but greatly encouraging. More and more people are shedding their nationalistic clothes and have found a new found freedom in Christ that had been compromised by their allegiance to an earthly power. Praise His matchless name! But do not think we arrived here through our own power and our own overstated intellect. God forbid! It has been all through the Spirit and God receives all the glory. But I am astounded to find so many fellow believers who have had the same basic experience. It is wonderful and it exalts Christ.
So to all you out there be encouraged. You and I are not alone. Now there are many levels in this view of which I speak. I no longer vote or say the pledge or embrace any earthly country as my own. I am an American because I was born here and America claims me. But I no longer see worldly affairs through American eyes, and I attempt to see people as lost or saved regardless of race, nationality, or political persuasion. And yes, the more I stepped into this liberty the more I clearly saw the great compromise within the western evangelical church.
I am no longer in love with capitalism or any other man made economic system. I no longer believe that moral legislation can replace the gospel. I now see the gay sinner as the same as the heterosexual sinner. I now see talk radio and television for what it is: A carnal arena of self righteousness that is void of any divine redemption. I no longer support the wars of men, and I believe abortion will end when the church becomes the sacrificial embodiment of the Lord Jesus and the hearts of men are transformed through our witness.
But today I rejoice. Many hearts are being changed. But let us tell the truth to each other. Just coming out from nationalism is not nearly enough. There is much spiritual ground we have yet to possess. And to whom much is given much is required. In some ways we are the more accountable to God. And unless there is a revival among us, even a small and local revival, we will remain grasping at spiritual straws. But today I give thanks to God who is so very patient and forgiving toward us all.

Monday, November 21, 2011

First Lady Booed
The First lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of the Vice President, traveled to Homestead, Florida in order to rally support for military families as well as simultaneously shout, “Gentlemen, start your engines!” They were noticeably booed.
I got to thinking, where would they have received a more inhospitable and rude welcome?
The church. Which, by the way, many of the NASCAR fans attend. Ignorance is bliss...
A Widespread Scriptural Departure

Gal.3:1-3 - O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
hat a wonderful book is Paul’s letter to the church at Galatia! Combined with Romans and Hebrews, it lays out the case that we are no longer under the law, and that the New Covenant is one of the Spirit rather than one of the law. It is quite understandable how the early church might have become confused as to the complete and liberating nature of the New Covenant, but it is perplexing how those of us who have the written New Testament can continue to believe and practice things that speak of the law and fulfill the lusts of the religious flesh.
How many believers believe on the Lord Jesus Christ by faith, are born again, and then begin a journey that is filled with legalism and ecclesiastical observances that are antithetical to the Spirit and are in fact an attempt to meld the Mosaic Law with the covenant of grace? And some of these things are very obvious while others are very subtle. But the evangelical church has unwittingly embraced things which are contrary to the teachings of the New Testament and to the direction of God’s Spirit.
After the Reformation, Protestant denominations began to form. And some denominations, although rejecting the basic theology and structure of the Roman Catholic Church, still retained some of its practices that speak of Moses rather than of Jesus. The pastor wears a robe like the Old Testament priest, candles are lit as in the Tabernacle, there is an altar like in the Tabernacle, and many of the services are liturgical rather than led by God’s Spirit. All these things are shadows of the law and hinder true worship in the Spirit.
Of course some churches have gone way overboard with this freedom and have constructed services that are more entertainment than they are worship. We are not to use our freedom in the Spirit for an opportunity for the flesh, and that is what many churches do today. But the Spirit calls us to worship the Risen Christ from the heart without the manipulation of outward extremes that are either practices of the law or wild and carnal theatrics. But Paul goes further.
Gal.4:1-10 - Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;
2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.
3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:
4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
8 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.
9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.

The Old Covenant was filled with all kinds of observances of days and years and feasts and circumcisions. The worship structure was in accordance with the Mosaic Law, and it contained many outward structures and elements upon which people set their hearts. Because they were not inhabited by God’s Spirit, God provided an outward structure that helped them in their worship, as well as prefigured Christ and the New Covenant which was to come. But when Christ died and resurrected, and when the Spirit descended and entered believers, the Old Covenant was to be done away with forever and only used to illuminate Christ through the teachings if its many facets and observances.
Can you remember after you were saved how the Spirit allowed you to see Christ in the Old Testament through things that unbelievers can never understand? All the feasts, the Day of Atonement, the scape goat, the Passover, the sacrificial lamb, the golden candlestick, the shew bread, and on and on and on it goes! All of which, although no longer observed, shine an unmistakable light upon the Redeemer and reveal their original divine purpose. All things, I SAID ALL THINGS, point to the Lord Jesus!
But Paul admonishes the believers at Galatia who had fallen under the spell of Jewish men who desired to mesh Christ with the law. And they had begun once again to observe the days and years and ceremonies associated with the Old Testament law. Were they saved? Yes, I believe they were. However they now were not worshiping God in the Spirit but in the flesh through the law which was now, by Paul’s own teachings, done away with.
II Cor.3:6-7 - Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:
Rom.10:4 - For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
e are no longer under the dictates or practices of the law, but of the Spirit. That means that we do not commit adultery, not because the Mosaic Law says we should not, but because the New Testament says we should not and the inward conviction of the Spirit forbids us as well. As Paul said, we should not use our freedom from the law for uncleanness, but that does not diminish the fact that we have liberty in Jesus Christ. The law has done what it was meant to do - lead us to Christ. But when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ the grave clothes of the law fall from us and we should not put them on again.
In Romans Paul understands how this freedom could be misunderstood. He even asks rhetorically if we should continue to sin because we stand in grace. But instead of referring back to the law, he states that we are now dead to sin through faith in Christ. Reckon, Paul says, yourselves dead unto sin and alive unto Christ. Do you see? We don’t look to the Mosaic Law for direction, we look to Christ! Praise His matchless Name!
But now I want to address a subject that many cannot even consider. We as believers must walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.
Rom.8:2 - For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
If you remove from the law its divine purpose of being a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, you are left with nothing but death. It is the ministration of condemnation and it must not be given a seat at the table of grace. That is why insisting on posting the Ten Commandments is nothing but posting death. We are not called to post the Ten Commandments; we are called to preach Christ and Him crucified! The moral self righteousness and the desire to change society through the law has blinded the eyes of much of the church.
But now the pilot has turned on the “turbulence ahead” sign and you may want to buckle your seat belt. There is an observance and a practice within the church that is decidedly unchristian, but is so entrenched and so filled with sentimentality that most believers will not give it any scrutiny. It is observed and practiced by believer and atheist, Jew and Gentile, and is a main staple of this fallen culture. In fact, this observance serves to support much of the economic fabric of the culture and is a main source of personal debt. The world has called it “Christmas” and the church has followed suit.
There can be no more hollow and hedonistic practice than Christmas. It is the only so called birthday celebration where the party goers give each other birthday presents. And it does not matter that Christ was born in the fall, it still serves to scratch our religious as well as our material itch. And it does not matter that we are not supposed to observe things like that. People sit in pews and follow the dictates of their church with little or no scrutiny, and if they become enlightened to the unscriptural nature of such things, they often don a robe of judgment, condemnation, and self righteousness.
I do not want to wear that robe. However, even if Christmas was allowed and taught in the New Testament, do you think that in its present form God would approve? But in fact the observance of such days is another throwback to the law, and Paul’s letter to the church of Galatia is exactly what we need to hear today, just as if Paul was writing directly to us! It is unseemly how the church has embraced the fallen cultural observances. We consider ourselves so spiritual when we reject Halloween, when in fact, Christmas is much more grievous in its scope and practice.
Let us just take the monetary implications. Let us say that there were 20 million adult professing believers in 1960 (I am being conservative I think.). And let us say each believer spent $100 on Christmas through gifts, food, and travel (I am being conservative I think.). That means that we spent 2 billion dollars upon ourselves each year, and without adding inflation and more believers and what the local churches spend, that means that in the last fifty years we have spent over 100 billion dollars on ourselves observing a practice we say belongs to Christ. To be fair, the number is probably closer to 1 trillion dollars.
Now I ask you, without even referring to the teachings of Scripture, is that something the church can defend? With billions of people without adequate food and water, and with billions of people in need of full time missionary outreaches, how can we continue such a thing? And does it not make you ponder when the world is so comfortable observing the same event? What does that tell us about the spiritual essence of Christmas? It is not a witness or even a stumbling block to the lost - it is religious cotton candy!
I am not a legalist. There are many believers who love and serve the Lord Jesus who observe Christmas. I understand that. But that does not make it right in the eyes of God. And I know it is so entrenched in our culture, both secular and religious, that it is most difficult to even examine. And when we think of our children going without Christmas, well then we cave in quickly. I realize that. And as I said, it is very easy to become pompous as self righteous when you have left that kind of observance.
But I cannot stay silent, and I simply desire to present what I believe the Spirit would have of me. I suggest no private revelation or any loftier communication with God not available to all believers. But I truly believe, when examined in a cultural vacuum and without the pressures and influences of this fallen world, that observing Christmas cannot be defended and is an open affront to the teachings of the New Testament and the Spirit of Christ.
And if you see some of what I am saying but you cannot as yet fully abstain from Christmas, can I suggest a first step? Instead of saying “Merry Christmas” or even “Have a Blessed Christmas”, say “The Savior of the world has come!” At least that accurately represents the glory of what Bethlehem was all about!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Conversion: : an experience associated with the definite and decisive adoption of a religion

That is Webster’s view of it, but let us who have been converted amplify and clarify that definition. A true Christian conversion is when a sinner turns from his unbelief and wholly believes on the Lord Jesus Christ to save his soul. But in these days of purpose driven, seeker sensitive, and Osteen-esque celebrity pastors, these are some of what now passes for a “conversion”.

A person comes forward being manipulated by music and emotion.
A person repeats a prayer dictated by someone he believes to be a guide.
A person’s life is so unraveling that he is willing to try anything.
A person is manipulated by friendliness and a well oiled ecclesiastical machine.
A person loves the atmosphere of the church and wants to be a part.
A person wants God to help him out of his earthly mess.
A person joins a church and is baptized.
A person transfers his membership.
A person loves the choir and joins the church and is baptized.
A person is moved by the oratorical prowess of the pastor and makes a profession.
A person has friends in the church and joins as well.
A person loves what the church offers his children and he joins.
A person wants to insure he goes to heaven.
A person is looking for a purpose.

These are a few of the conversion experiences that have replaced being born again by God’s Spirit. In order to fill pews and record baptisms the church has shunned prayer, witnessing, and holy living and has instead adopted a myriad of strategies designed to funnel sinners into a religious combine that accentuates the slightest profession of faith and almost ignores any future discipleship.
So voilà! You have a religious system designed by Eli Whitney. And when this kind of ecclesiastical system is allowed to develop and flourish for decades, eventually the church will have lost what it truly means to be a believing follower of Jesus Christ. And we have filled that vacuum with activity, buildings, ten steps, commitment cards, conferences, church softball leagues, week long Mission trips, Christian cruises, multi-layered Sunday Schools, more and more staff, moral crusades, political activism, conservative causes, and a host of other things that are now familiar to the local assembly.
And let us go back and listen to the Master. Just when He had great multitudes, the forerunner of today’s mega churches, Jesus preached this untimely message:
Lk.14:25-33 - And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,
26 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.
27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
31 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?
32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

Just when the membership rolls were exploding Jesus went and said something so outrageous, that many would leave the ranks. I mean come on, hate my own life? What kind of moon man talk is that? And the count the cost thing? Again, over the top. But when He suggest we all forsake all that we have, well then, there you have the makings of a cult.
Let us be honest. It is much more comfortable to live within the spiritual framework we have created today, than to address things that Jesus has said. I’m sure He will understand, after all, we’re all converted.
Black Friday
The Friday after Thanksgiving is known as “Black Friday” which denotes an incredible buying opportunity in many retail stores. In Florida people were lining up in tents in front of Best Buy on Saturday, one week before Black Friday. That is indicative of the world’s mindset.

When was the last time believers lined up outside a church except to pay to hear a concert or some Todd Bentley-esque dog and pony show? Unbelievers are hungry for money and things. Are we as believers hungry for Christ?

Given, Received, and Given Again

Matt.18:23-35 - Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
do not believe there is anything that kindles God’s anger more than someone who receives His forgiveness but refuses to forgive others. The heart of God beats with redemption, and the entire gospel narrative is all about forgiveness and reconciliation. To cultivate bitterness in our hearts is both to minimize our own sin and to downgrade the eternal expanse of God’s glorious salvation.
And when we look down upon sinners we do despite to the cause of Christ as well as completely misrepresenting the kingdom of God’s Dear Son. A believer’s humility should flow from a heart of gratefulness that realizes that he could never have earned his salvation and that only by God’s grace has he himself been rescued. Any hint of pride or disdain for the lost only reveals how little of a revelation of our own redemption we see.
And how ignorant we must look when we expend time and energy in exploring and castigating the sin of lost people. They are only exhibiting the natural outpouring of their unregenerate hearts. When we act surprised or offended, we reveal a kind of clandestine self righteousness that says, “We ourselves are so holy that sin offends us”. I wonder why the Word, the Son, stepped into this cesspool of sin and walked among the vilest of sinners and, oh yes, loved them enough to give His life as a ransom. Perhaps today Jesus would send out newsletters expounding the evils of today’s culture and the need for “conservatives” to join forces. Perhaps not.
But I wanted to use a present day illustration to hammer this truth home. There was another GOP debate on Saturday night, and it was sponsored by a conservative Christian association. As you know I care not for the politics of such events, but something was reported that caught my attention. The subject of the Occupy Wall Street movement came up.
Now one of the candidates named Newt Gingrich is running for the nomination. By his own admission, he has committed adultery at least twice and is now married to his third wife. He claims he has received forgiveness from God and that his faith has deepened. OK, no one but God can know another man’s heart.
But when asked about the Occupy protesters, Gingrich said, “Tell them to get a job, right after they take a bath”. And here you have another prime example of what Christianity is not. Here is where politics and economics strangle the life out of God’s gospel offer. And here is where the kingdom of darkness invades the church and displaces the true and authentic message of God’s offer of redemption.
To be forgiven of multiple infidelities, and to claim a deepening of your “faith”, and then demean the plight of other sinners is exactly what Jesus outlined in the parable I offered. But it showcases again the incongruous nature of politics, economics, and the gospel of the kingdom. Gingrich is not alone in this, in fact, much of the church and blog world practices this very thing consistently. And in so doing, they think they are representing Christ and battling against the forces of evil.
But they are deceived. And it is most sad because many of them have energies and skills that could be used effectively for the advancement of the gospel and not wasted upon the useless back and forth rhetoric that only stirs the pot without a shred of redemption. And on that GOP panel there were a handful of men and women who claimed to be committed believers but who said not a word of correction to Mr. Gingrich. Why? Could it be that they agreed with him?
I continue to contend that politics and its Siamese twin nationalism are destroying the very fabric of how a Jesus follower should think, speak, and act. And I personally know whereof I speak. I have lived and breathed on both sides of that spiritual fence. I invite all believers to come over to the redemptive side of that fence. I believe that is where Jesus calls us.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Glory of the Cross

Gal.6:14 - But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
The world continues to turn and my earthly cares and duties continue to swirl. Arising each morning my mind automatically ponders the day’s chores. The people, the places, the bills, and all the news around the world seem to imprison me. I have my creed and I have my personal testimony which seems much more vivid as historical than it odes in the present reality. But that statement from the Apostle Paul has far reaching consequences as well as many glorious caverns of mystery.
Do I arise from sleep as a dead man that is only alive unto Christ? Does the cross have a place in my daytimer, to say nothing of being absolutely preeminent? Have I compartmentalized the gospel so that I can go back and forth, in and out, upon my whim or when religious activity is taking place? Does the cross - the real and authentic cross - consume me, ever? And can my spirit rip the cross from the pages of systematized doctrine and make it my very life’s breath?

To think about and imagine those unspeakable sufferings.
To wonder about the wonder of it all.
To meditate upon the priceless sacrifice.
To hear the groans of the sinless Lamb.
To gaze at His excruciation.
To see the crimson blanket of redemption.
To bow before His humiliation.
To cover my mouth in awe and amazement.
To weep at my sin and His love.
To worship at this ghastly glory.
To beat my breast with repentance.
To beg for a greater reservoir of love for Him.
To marvel at such undeserved wounds.
To lay prostrate before the bloodied face of God.
To be consumed with this grisly sacrifice.
To glory in this sacred and eternal act of redemption.

He Loved Me With a Cross
He left a throne in heaven to come to Bethlehem
And I will not forget the way
He loved me even then
And everywhere He traveled
He spoke with words of love
That said He'd go to any distance
To show what I was worthy of
And when at last the dusty road
Had turned to Calvary
He picked up a rugged burden
So that one day I would see

He loved me with a cross
He loved me with a cross
In answer to the call of love
He loved me with a cross
And I could not imagine what
Loving me would cost
My Jesus went to Calvary
And loved me with a cross

He knew from the beginning
The price He'd have to pay
For my heart had gone so far beyond
What other loves forgave
I wasn't on that hillside
To see Him on the tree
But as my guilt was placed upon Him
I know that somehow He saw me

And I would be a sinner still
Enslaved by all my sin
If it hadn't been for Jesus
And the way He loved me still

He loved me with a cross
He loved me with a cross
In answer to the call of love
He loved me with a cross
And I could not imagine what
Loving me would cost
My Jesus went to Calvary
And loved me with a cross

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.