Saturday, December 31, 2011

Giving to Missions

In 1993, on our way to a business appointment, my partner, Chris Stebbins, and I began to discuss missions. We lamented the fact that so much money given to missions went to administration, etc.. We wondered why there could not be a direct conduit that would funnel all the money given directly overseas to faithful missionaries. It was on that morning that “Uttermost Parts Fellowship” was born. From that day forward, a portion of our salaries went directly to overseas missionaries, and every believer who felt led to give could be assured that ever single penny went directly to missions. From 1993 Chris and I have never taken one single penny personally. Never.
Chris does all the clerical work since I myself am not gifted in that area. He has also provided lodging for our missionaries in his mobile home that houses his wife and four children. Our main thrust has always been Africa. We have flown African national pastors to America as well as helped believers travel overseas. It has been the joy of my Christian life! Chris does most of the work.
But if you are looking for a place to support missions and with the confidence that all your money goes overseas to missions, I am going to provide the address. In 6 years of blogging I have never asked for funds and never provided the name and address for our missions association. And if you give, Chris will provide you with a statement at the end of the year which is tax deductible. I do not beg. Let the Spirit lead you. It may be another six years before I mention it again.

Uttermost Parts Fellowship
P.O. Box 61
Crystal Springs, Fl. 33524

God bless.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Rose Colored Western Glasses

I often visit a site called “Apostasy Watch”. I had been visiting it before its administrator, Steve Lumbley, began publishing some of my posts. Like all of us about any blog I like some of his posts better than others, but I wholeheartedly agree with his overarching theme. It is worth visiting. It is at that site that I have found some new friends and been encouraged because there are many believers who are awakening to the reality of the spiritual decline of the western evangelical church.
And one kind of post that can be found at Apostasy Watch are accounts of persecutions around the world. We believers in America live an incredibly sheltered and fictional lifestyle, especially as it pertains to the Christian faith. All around the world in many different places our brothers and sisters in Christ are being harassed, persecuted, and even martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ. It is impossible to accurately assess the number of believers who have lost their lives, and it is impossible to weight the amount of persecution that takes place on a daily basis.
Wives have watched as their husbands have been slaughtered; parents have had their children taken from them; fathers rot in totalitarian prisons; men are denied work to provide for their families; and all this suffering goes on with little notice, compassion, or help from the western church. Rarely is a tear shed, and rarer still are the midnight lanterns lit in a prayer chamber filled with believers interceding for their brethren. We are living in a fantasy world of our own self serving creation.
Read the writings from and about the Apostle Paul and you will see a heart that beats for His brethren around the known world. Paul did not settle into a nice, Roman neighborhood and read some newsletter between watching football games. His life was consumed with serving Christ, and a large part of that service was ministering to His persecuted brethren. In fact, He himself embraced his own persecution and victoriously went to his own sacred martyrdom.
Where is that spirit today? How can we go day after day in a dry eyed stupor being slaves to the culture and the dictates of our own desires? People, real people, who trust in the Risen Christ are suffering greatly and yet we who swim in abundance walk with blinded eyes and stopped up ears. Does it not break your heart that your heart is not broken? What kind of disciples are we when we care more about the welfare of our pets than we do about the welfare of our brothers and sisters? It is our sacred duty to investigate opportunities to serve, as well as stir up our inner man and give sacrificial time to deep and penetrating prayer for those on the “front lines”.
Can you imagine your children being taken from you unless you denounce your Savior? You struggle to pay your bills, but what if your husbands and fathers were whisked away during the night and imprisoned unless they recant their profession of faith. Soon after John Bunyan became a believer, he began to preach wherever he could. The authorities had him arrested. But the judge was disinclined to have him imprisoned, so he asked Bunyan if he would curtail his preaching voluntarily.
Now remember, Bunyan was also the primary source for his family's food, shelter, and welfare and if he went to prison his family would suffer greatly. But when Bunyan was offered the deal from the judge, he replied, “If you release me today, I will be preaching tomorrow!” He spent many years in prison, and he wove shoe laces to provide something for his family, and while in prison he continually preached to scores of prisoners. Oh yes, while in prison the Spirit led him to write the greatest Christian book ( beside the Bible) ever penned called “The Pilgrim’s Progress”. Where, I ask you, is that spirit today? And today we see millions of carnal books like “Your Best Life Now” and “The Purpose Driven Life” that devalue the faith sold to millions and the proceeds designed to make carnal men millionaires.
It is literally impossible to juxtapose the faith of Bunyan against the faith of the western church and not come to the conclusion that they cannot both be Christian. And if we are living in the land of spiritual apostasy, then each believer has a mandate from the Spirit to come out from among them and be separate. Not in a spirit self righteousness, and not haughty, and not by the power of your own flesh, but with a humble and broken spirit of personal repentance we must submit ourselves to God’s Spirit and take up our own sacred cross which we have so diligently avoided.
Oh yes, we in the west live! But God continues to call us to die. We are addicted to the narcotics of self, material, and earthly self esteem. And only the Spirit can wean us. Millions of our brethren around the world are waiting for an awakening in the west that allows God to use the recourses that are His to help His people and reach the poor with material needs and the gospel of Jesus Christ. But what exactly is it that keeps us from sacrificially following the Lord Jesus? In a word, idolatry. The book of 1st John is known as the love book. But it is not just coincidence that the very last verse says:
Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”
Many times in the life of God’s people in the Old Testament they would attempt to serve and worship God while retaining and constructing idols upon the “high places”. These were hills upon which idols were raised and reverenced and given places of spiritual elevation. But God never allowed them, and He would refuse their worship until those idols were removed from those high places. How primitive you say?
Well we have idols in high places today. Politics, nationalism, hedonism, entertainment, sports, relationships, dating, sex, success, and the highest of all - money. Until we are willing to completely tear down and renounce those idols then we will continue to be in bondage to them while using a thin blanket of religion to cover our sin. To think what God could do with a few million believers who would repent of our sins and embrace the Apostle Paul’s testimony before the elders of Ephesus.
But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”
And there it is! To the extent we count our own lives dear is to the extent we do not count His life dear. But how glorious would it be to connect spiritually with the body of Christ around the world! I realize that most of them do not have a light show, or state of the art sound systems, or magnificent auditoriums, but are those things what move us? And if so, then who are we really serving?
Be prepared. If by God’s grace He removes the rose colored western glasses the church now wears, we may be shocked. It is much worse than one can imagine, and in fact, those who speak like me or Steve Lumbley are considered unbalanced, critical, and even cultish. But I contend that our words cannot fully expose the depth of the spiritual treachery being loved and practiced in the west. And I also publicly state that I have much, much territory to cover spiritually, and that I must never suggest that my life aligns itself fully with everything I say, or even that my life or yours should be our spiritual template. God forbid! Friends, it isn’t my life we should be looking at - it must always be His and His alone to the glory of Almighty God! Let us seek His face with a love and passion that denies this world and ourselves as well.
I Tim.6:14-16 - That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:
15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Profound Question

A commentor named Lisa asked this question:

I have a serious and sincere question. I've been thinking of this for a long time and last night finally framed it this way.Remember when Wm. Wilburforce was fighting to end slavery in England?And there was a group of people who boycotted sugar because they said that there was too much "blood" in it?Today, as citizens of the U.S., how do we avoid living with blood on our hands?We are not to fight against flesh and blood. We are to love our enemies and pray for them. But how do we get thru our days without blood on our hands?We cannot boycott oil. It's impossible.Even if we gave away our vehicles and rode bicycles there is oil in the manufacture and maintenance of bicycles. In our electricity is oil. No lights, electric ovens, refrigerators, computers... In almost every single thing we buy is oil -the plastic, the manufacture,the transportation.How do we go about not participating in the killing? Have you ever thought this way?A little while ago I came across a bit of video showing a couple of little Libyan girls who'd been horribly maimed by our bombs. One had a chunk our of her leg but she was apparently in shock because she was just quietly staring at the other little girl who couldn't stop screaming because she'd had her lower jaw shot off. How can we, as citizens of this country, not take part in and truly distance ourselves from what America does? Is our whole lifestyle drenched in blood and we don't even see it?
Thank you, Lisa
Jn.17:14I 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.
15I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
16They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
17Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
18As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
I Jn.2:15Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
17And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for
od has ordained that His people, His church, stay in the world to shine His light. We are not to be of the world or love the world, but we are to be a light to the world. When those lines are blurred, the light goes out. But let us address some of the things Lisa brought up.
When the church takes up the spear, or the sword, or the gun, or the bomb, at that moment the church becomes as godless as the hordes of Mohammed. There can be no gray area when it comes to violence and the taking of human life. The church continues to follow the false shepherd of this world who gives reasons and just causes for its use of horrific methods of violence and killing. Of course it stems from nationalism and the pagan allegiance to a secular institution, allowed and ordained by God, but never meant to be the light for the path of God’s people. The western church has been so assimilated by the surrounding culture that it can no longer discern right from wrong, or the temporal from the eternal, or the spiritual from the carnal.
Preachers by the thousands, some even good and sincere men, stand before their people and lead them into idolatry, witchcraft, and violence.
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?
he things of God’s kingdom cannot be accomplished through the power of the flesh, and in fact attempting to do so is witchcraft. No one can read the New Testament and stand upon its teachings and condone violence. But when it comes to nationalism and patriotism, the Scriptures often bow to the customs and prevailing culture. To place your hand over your heart and pledge allegiance to a piece of cloth is as pagan as it gets. And yet millions of professing believers do so and with the public suggestion that God is in it all.
The marshalling of human voices in order to leverage legislation always leads to compromise and unholy alliances regardless of how noble the legislation. And if we are to boycott then we must boycott all things since this world cements them all together. We as believers are called to humbly obey the secular laws, but we have never been called to make them. Our law is the Spirit that is woven into every Word that proceeds from God’s holy mouth. And when we mix earthly law with God’s eternal law we mix the holy with the profane.
We have forgotten that we are pilgrims in this present world. This is not our life; our life is hid in Christ with God. Our eyes must be filled with redemption and the higher calling of the everlasting gospel.
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.
t is not only sin that hinders us, but many are the weights of this world and its cares that burdens our spirit and compromises our testimony. Activism in the affairs of this world is the enemy of God’s kingdom. Our activism is ministry, and whether it be feeding the poor, or visiting the prisons, or reaching lost sinners, our calling and motivation must never come from this world. Everything we do and say must emanate from Christ and through the power of His Spirit. Even Jesus Himself paid unfair taxes without complaining and certainly without organizing a political protest.
An earthly, noble cause is many times the enemy of heaven. Some causes seem so well meaning and seemingly compassionate, but if they are unattached to the gospel of redemption then they are little more than window dressing for the Titanic. Do you see how difficult it is to keep our hearts on things eternal and unseen? But that is our challenge, our command. Do not settle for the small raisons of this world when God offers the colossal grapes of Eshcol, grown and fed in the garden of His kingdom! Oh how tragic it is to see the church bow her knee to all the different idols of this world and attempt to attach God’s name to them.
What does it mean to be a “living sacrifice”? To whose life does God refer, and what sacrifice does He call us to? The western church knows precious little concerning sacrifice, and in fact, she avoids it and teaches that any inconvenience, and financial downturn, and illness, and any barrier to earthly success is of the evil one. Saturated with this present world, the church turns to earthly causes and earthly remedies to soothe her hardened conscience.
Our God reigns, and He is eager for His people to turn once again to Him and Him alone. God will not share His glory with another. And God will not pull up a seat at the table of ideas, political causes, and human reasoning. Oh yes, His grace will many times overcome misguided human energy. And like Wilburforce and others, His grace is sufficient. But do not equate God’s grace with God’s will. All of us have known His grace, even when we stumbled and fell. But it was not God who blessed or orchestrated our stumbling. That must be owned by us alone.
The video of that Libyan girl is but a drop in the bucket when compared to the sufferings in this present world, and especially those caused by man’s wars. But what would happen, you say, if we did not confront Hitler with violence? We need not worry about that, the world will meet violence with violence. We must not wring our hands while we attempt to figure all things out. We must look to Jesus and His Word, and the consequences belong to God. Where are the martyrs if all believers meet violence with violence?
Again, to be a sacrificial disciple of Christ in this world is a sacred, yet difficult calling. We must continually renounce our own feelings and reason and plans. The things of God nudge at our hearts, while the things of this world shout at us. All that is in the world, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, are all enemies of God’s kingdom. But like the Greek sirens, they are all alluring to our fallen nature. And even the seemingly good and noble causes can be a distraction at best, or idolatry at worst.
So be very, very careful, my friends. And do not allow yourself to be puffed up just because God has led you out of such worldly practices. And have much patience with your brothers and sisters who still cannot see. Remember, you were there not too long ago, and it is only by God’s merciful grace that you have taken another step into His glorious light. We all have many more steps to go.
Dealing in Death

There is nothing like invading a country and spending a trillion dollars and thousands of lives to remove a dictator. But it does not end there! Now we can sell them billions of dollars of weapons.

This article spells it out.

From the article:
Among the big-ticket items being sold to Iraq are F-16 fighter jets, M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks, cannons and armored personnel carriers. The Iraqis have also received body armor, helmets, ammunition trailers and sport utility vehicles, which critics say can be used by domestic security services to help Mr. Maliki consolidate power.
Yes, war is big business and you always need a steady stream of killing machines. Ya gotta hand it to mankind. We have figured out how to make a profit from war. And in a stunning display of ingenuity we can even sell weapons to the country we invaded not long ago. And just to jog your memory, who was it that sold weapons and weapons technology to Saddam Hussein? Yep, it was America!
The circle of death continues!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Accusing or Interceding - Not Both

One cannot drink and spit out simultaneously. One cannot pray and order food at the same time. One cannot hate and love at one time. And one cannot intercede and accuse simultaneously. Notice that last one. When you read scathing accusations from believers aimed at lost sinners you can be assured of one thing: They are not interceding for those sinners. And when, after their vicious diatribe against those sinners, they suggest that we pray that they repent and believe the gospel, you can also be assured of one thing as well.
Their hollow calls for prayer emanate from a self righteous heart and are only meant as religious camouflage.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Foundations are Faulty

If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
man builds a house. He lays the foundation, constructs the walls, and attaches a roof. Then he sets about to furnish the inside. Paint, trimming, and furniture complete his dream house. But not too long afterward the house begins to leak. Cracks begin to appear on the walls in almost every room. The ceiling begins to sag. In general, the entire structure begins to show signs of instability and erosion.
The man calls an expert to come and give him a diagnosis of just what the problem is. After an entire day the expert tells the man that the problem is with the foundation, and no amount of patch work will fix this problem. The entire house must be razed and the foundation laid once more. That alone will solve the problem. If the man does not do this, the expert assures him the problems will only get worse.
And so it is with the church, especially the western version of the Christian church. Our foundations are faulty, and through the affects of Constantine, and the Industrial Revolution, and the hedonistic culture, and men with perverse hearts and minds, the church has slowly but surely slipped its Biblical moorings and drifted into a religious system that is more closely related to the culture than it is to the teachings of Jesus.
But no amount of fix up will work. Shout about the Rob Bells and the Rick Warrens and the Joel Osteens all you want if that makes you feel better. But until we completely raze the ecclesiastical structure we have created and allow the Holy Spirit to lay again the foundations of our faith in both doctrine and practice, the cracks will continue to multiply. Until we allow God to open up our own blinded eyes we will continue to exist in a room full of cracks where the rain of this world floods in, but we soothe our own conscience by pointing out bigger cracks and more rain in the room that others inhabit.
The western church has fallen into a cultural and self serving ditch, and instead of praying and repenting our way out, we’ve built a church house in that very ditch. The ditch has become our spiritual home and we have incorporated the surroundings into our religious practices. And buoyed by our adroit display of heretic hunting, the little foxes have become embraced giants. And in the end, we no longer believe the Scriptures; we believe our own diluted and manipulated interpretations of them.
Let us imagine you took one hundred believers and asked them to sit and listen to God’s Word. And you read Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7, the Sermon on the Mount, and then you asked those 100 believers if they actually believed the literal meaning of those words, most would say that they do. However, just a cursory investigation would reveal that what we believe is a watered down version of those words, a version that conforms to the culture and bows to the circumstances. To actually believe the Sermon on the Mount would require a drastic revolution within the church; one that would completely confront each individual believer and one that would necessitate a profound metamorphosis of the normal church structure and practice.
Can you really believe that when everything is placed upon the table for scrutiny that we would not step by step see a plethora of things about which God is not pleased and for which there are no Scriptural foundations? And after we begin to identify more and more beliefs and practices that are antithetical to the New Testament, would we not come to the conclusion that the entire spiritual edifice has been built largely upon what is reasonable and acceptable and traditional and cultural rather than what is Scripturally mandated? How can it be that the Spirit inhabited followers of Jesus Christ, living in a culture of hedonism, sex, and violence, blend in so nicely and are so accepted by the darkness at large? And the Sunday morning march of the lemmings are a mockery and an open rebuke to what we say we believe.
Day by day, month by month, and year by year things remain the same and yet the church laughs and smiles and pledges allegiance to the very cultural poison that has killed all the spiritual power she once had. The religious treadmill continues unabated which insures that no penetrating inventory will ever be taken. Inconvenience is avoided at all costs, and any hint of a spiritual mirror must be pointed away from us and at someone else. We have become assimilated and insulated. Content and satisfied. Open to revival if it costs us nothing.
Now I believe in the soon and eminent return of the Lord Jesus. But I also believe that there is always a window of opportunity for all of us. And if the church at large will not step through that window, the individual believer can and must. But to extricate ourselves from the chains of this world is not an easy proposition. And to see clearly where the axe head fell and where we need to repent is very difficult. When we stand in front of a mirror we cannot see ourselves with anything but our own eyes. Therefore our view is subjective and limited.
So in order for us to see our spiritual condition through the eyes of the Spirit, we need to deny our own perspectives and opinions and allow the Spirit to filet our hearts open before Him. It is no pleasant task and it is indeed a painful journey that sometimes leads to areas of the heart that we once considered settled law. If we are to be a living sacrifice, then we must present ourselves upon His altar to do with as He pleases. It is His good pleasure that we seek, and it is His will alone which must be our consistent desire.
Have we not as yet grown weary of this powerless exhibition of religion that belies its own confessions simply by the way it is practiced? Are we so blind and in such spiritual slumber that we cannot see, or refuse to even entertain, the notion that there is so much more that God wishes to do with and through us? Have the cares of this world so overtaken our hearts that we will not even admit we have fallen out of love with the Risen Christ? To what depths of hypocrisy are we willing to go? Without a blush of embarrassment we can still gather with the redundancy of a football crowd only to return to the unremarkable lives we left temporarily to fulfill a religious obligation. And this is supposed to be a replica of the Lord Jesus in all His glory?
Where is the life imprint of the cross about which we speak in such glib, doctrinal parlance? Why are we left alone in this culture, neither enduring persecution nor constant inquiries emanating directly from the conspicuousness of our lives? This is what portends to be a living manifestation of the resurrection power of Jesus the Christ? This is the paltry exhibition that blends in with other religions and whose so called power lies in its systematic theology with our lives seemingly quarantined from any tangible spiritual power.
But still there is no atmosphere of crisis, much less of desperation. Still we thank God for His blessings, material mostly, and greet the new week as we greeted the former. And we believe that this is the light of the world which will present the eternal Lord to the kingdom of darkness? In that we are both liars and self deceived. Read again the New Testament with a broken and contrite spirit and see if you can confess with a truthful heart that we have only minor adjustments to make.
And read again the passion of the Lamb of God. Spiritually ingest his sufferings, His groans, His agony, and place them upon your own personal soul. Understand once again what was paid for your eternal liberty; comprehend the length and breadth and depth of His redemptive love for you; open your heart once again to His sacrifice and humility and shame born for all to see for you. And if those truths do not burn away the dross and ignite your spirit, then you still do not understand. This is not the time to settle in, get comfortable, and watch the show.
This is the time to die to that God hating bully named self. Do not expect others to catch any vision the Spirit may give to you. If you need encouragement from others to continue this journey you will fail. But if you can look to Christ daily, and if you genuinely and sacrificially desire to be conformed to His image alone, then your path will be arduous and painful as well as glorious and majestic. And I will make you this promise without fear of contradiction:
If any of us seek Him with our whole hearts and allow the Spirit to use us for His glory, none of us will regret it on that day when we see Him as He is. Tear down the faulty foundations and rebuild the foundation of Jesus Christ. And upon that Rock, build a life of sacrifice, love, and worship.
Rev.3:18 - I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Life is in the Blood

Ex.12:12-13 - For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.
13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.
hroughout the Old Testament God revealed a consistent ingredient in His path to redemption and deliverance. That ingredient was blood. There were literally millions of gallons of blood spilled for the sins of Israel, collectively as well as personally. The blood sacrifice had been stamped upon the spiritual understanding of God’s people. That was the core element in the Mosaic Law and it was the shadow of the perfect sacrifice that was to come, the Son of God’s own blood.
For most people the sight of blood is startling. And after many centuries the blood stained brazen alter probably became mundane in the midst of Israel, and its significance became cultural rather than spiritual, and although understood in the context of the law, it became stale. The practice of animal sacrifice administered by the Aaronic priesthood also became very predictable and redundant. As time went by all those things pertaining to the blood sacrifice became part of the religious culture and lost its spiritual weight. The Jewish people had settled into a very superfluous religious expression.
But there was something very important about all this blood, and although the forgiveness through animal blood was only temporary and had to be repeated, it all pointed to one, spectacular event that would only happen once and never repeated again. The blood that was to be shed from the veins of Emmanuel would more than suffice for all the sins of all mankind, and Christ would only be sacrificed one time. But let us not romanticize the vision of the cross. And let us not just stuff it with doctrine and hang it upon some theological wall to be admired for our antiseptic orthodoxy.
But after the Spirit of God illuminates our hearts and reveals the redemptive significance of the cross as well as the significance of the Person who adorns it, we should not stop there. We should never be content with the doctrinal abstract, but we must proceed further into the realm of spiritual awakening that expands our hearts, flood our souls with greater understanding of His sufferings, and a redemptive realization that explodes with gratefulness and worship. The cross in all its glory competes with all the accoutrements of this jingle-jangle culture that accentuates the temporal, the technical, and the sophisticated while diminishing the eternal, the simple, and the unvarnished.
And like the blood sacrifice in the Old Testament Tabernacle, the cross has become mundane and inconspicuous within the current evangelical practice. It has a place in our expedient doctrinal statements, but it has become commonplace and unremarkable. We know Jesus died, we know He shed His blood, and we know He suffered, but that no longer moves us the way it once did. The blood was placed upon our doorposts, the death angel has passed over us, and now it is time to move on. The blood is now history rather than present reality. We have used the blood to gain eternal life and now it has been all but discarded except in a very few songs and as a theological footnote. How tragic.
Do we incline our ears to hear His groans? Can we hear the pounding of those nails or the mocking of the crowd? Can we hear His voice as it calls out to His Father? And are our eyes opened to that blood - all that blood? Smeared all over His face, and dripping down upon the earth below Him, and running down His side, and mingled with His matted hair. Yes, all that blood. Here we are almost 2200 years later and do we still hunger and thirst to see, hear, smell, and experience that glorious cross? We were dead and now we live! We were lost and now we are found! We had no hope and now we have a sure hope! We were blind but now we see! We knew not God but now we have been made His sons and daughters!
There can be no talk of Christ’s birth without speaking of His death. Much of the church avoids the subject, and some consider it a sign of defeat. But that blood is the river which flows right into the throne room of God and into eternal life. That blood is life, and everything without that blood that claims life is an imposter. Christianity without the cross is nothing more that a religious system without redemption. I realize we live in a sophisticated culture and that many people are very educated, but man’s wisdom becomes worthless when it is in competition with the cross.
The last enemy is death, and the only victory over death runs right through the cross. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Shake your slumbering soul and awake to a new revelation and a new love for that cross. The blood of God’s lamb is on the doorposts of our hearts and we are safe - eternally. This is what the world is searching for in all the wrong places. But after we have found the cross, and it has found us, our seeking journey has only just begun.

Ps.27:8 - When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Preeminence of Christ

Col.1:12-18 - Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 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.

The western church has lost the Christ. We are obsessed with many, many things. We obsess over the sins of the lost; we obsess over church buildings; We obsess over earthly success; We obsess over this nation; We obsess over moral causes; We obsess over certain preachers; We obsess over church programs; We obsess over foreign policy; We obsess over romance in marriage; We obsess over politics; We obsess over holidays; We obsess over church membership; We obsess over cars; We obsess over clothes; We obsess over makeup; We obsess over sports; We obsess over fitness; We obsess over vitamins; We obsess over heretics.
We are obsessed, alright. But why are we not obsessed over the Lord Jesus Christ? Where is the observable preeminence that He should have in all things? Why have we made Christianity a religious system rather than a lifestyle that is unswerving in its commitment to serving, following, and worshiping Christ? Is He before all things just in the doctrinal abstract, or is He before all things in the practical manifestations of our lives?
We have not only had our sins forgiven through Him, but we have also been translated from the kingdom of darkness into the glorious kingdom of God’s Dear Son! And is it not reasonable to expect that citizens of that kingdom manifest a startling difference from the citizens of darkness? How is it that our lives are not so arresting, so conspicuous, and so remarkable that those without Christ are constantly confronted with the claims of Christ through the distinctiveness of our lives, to say nothing of our verbal witness?
Paul tells us that Jesus is the very image of the invisible God, and we as His imitators and His living lanterns are to present Him through word and deed. This does not mean just doing some things He might do, but it is substantively more than that. It is serving Him by being Him. It is being crucified with Him so that our lives are now lived by the faith of Him. This is no easy task, and it takes uncommon commitment. We must sacrifice our thoughts and desires and embrace His as our own. And although the sacrifice is great, the reward is much greater.
Paul tells us that Christ is the head of the church. That doesn’t mean just in doctrine. Oh no, doctrine is where He begins. The revelation of Jesus Christ as prophesied in the Old Testament and revealed fully in the New Testament is our foundation. How many believers are under the delusion that defending the doctrines about Christ seems to be the Great Commission? But we are not following doctrines; We are following the Living and Risen Christ! If it seems like semantics to you then I would urge you to retreat to a prayer closet and seek His face.
The importance of Scripture is undeniable, and the Spirit guided interpretation of that Scripture is foundational. But how many have pitched their tents there, constructed a doctrinal fort, and spend most of their spiritual energy defending that fort against all foes? But our Lord commanded us to go outside the camp, bearing His reproach and spreading the good news of redemption.
Col.3:3-4 - For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

Notice those words, “Christ, who is our life…”. This much more than just aligning yourself with an orthodox interpretation of Scriptures concerning Christ. This goes way further than reciting the Apostle’s or Nicene Creed. This requires sacrifice and painful self denial. This is a calling to the mystery of the cross and its application to our own lives. This is a calling to die, and allow Him to live in your place. This must be a passion, an obsession, to walk in His steps. And that, my friends, transcends this “do’s and don’t’s” Christianity that does little more than satisfy the flesh.
The western church desperately needs to once again focus and become obsessed with Jesus Christ. Our first love has become a doctrinal tenant and has been relegated to little more than a rubber stamp that identifies us as a different religion from Muslims and Jews, but does not burn within the church with such incandescence that even sinners might take notice that we “have been with Jesus”. (Acts 4:13) If we desire to be known for our moral convictions and our doctrinal orthodoxy, we can sleep well with the knowledge of that accomplishment.
But if we desire to live in the unmistakable revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ every single day, well then, we have a cross to keep and “miles to go before we sleep, and miles to go before we sleep“.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Take the Christ out of the “Mass”.
You Want Reality?

Would you like God to break your heart for others? Would you be open to allow God's Spirit to lift you out of this western caricature and transport you into a reality we cannot even imagine?

Then read THIS.
Where is Our Hope?

Syrians are being murdered in the streets
Egypt is in chaos
Europe is on the verge of economic collapse
The US Congress is a partisan disgrace
The Republican presidential field is a mess
The abortion mills are in full force
They lower taxes for the rich and raise them for the average
And the western evangelical church no longer follows Jesus

And you think there is hope outside of Christ?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pat Robertson Whines Again

Read this.

Will anyone ever believe the Sermon on the Mount? You know, when men shall say all manner of evil against you for my sake rejoice - and all that jazz. And where did all this “They would never do that to Muslims” come from? Do we compare ourselves with Muslims?

Heb.12:3-4 - For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

Jesus endured the cross, but we squeal like stuck pigs when we are mocked.
Christian television, a real disgrace.
The Law Misplaced

I am well aware that everything is doctrine to a certain extent. Nothing is learned without teaching. But there are some believers who thrive on doctrine, all doctrine, and who hold it in such high esteem as to make it an idol. And if we are to understand the difference between holding fast to doctrinal truth and replacing Christ with doctrinal truth, then we must discipline our minds to a more sophisticated and nuanced observation. This is not for the Biblically illiterate, or the spiritually lethargic, or even the doctrinal Bourgeoisie who insist they have arrived. This is for those who seek the face of Christ and desire to be completely broken before Him in unabashed humility.
Picture Jesus sitting upon a pedestal. And this pedestal sits atop a scaffold of interconnected truths, which are all designed to construct the pedestal upon which the Lord Jesus might be raised in all His glory. Of course the top platform of the pedestal is shared by the Father and the Spirit. But the scaffolding itself was never meant to be the object of worship, nor was it designed for us to rest in as a spiritual oasis. The purpose of the scaffolding was to glorify Christ, and its design was always Christ exalting.
As a primary example, let us examine the role of the Mosaic Law as it pertains to the New Testament revelation of Christ and His gospel.
Gal.3:24 - Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
The word “schoolmaster” is “Paidagwgovß” in the Greek.
Paidagwgovß: a guardian and guide of boys. Among the Greeks and the Romans the name was applied to trustworthy slaves who were charged with the duty of supervising the life and morals of boys belonging to the better class. The boys were not allowed so much as to step out of the house without them before arriving at the age of manhood.
The Paidagwgovß was a trusted slave in many Greek and Roman households. He was so trusted that his value was to oversee the lives of the male children. And one of the duties of this servant was to take the boys to their teachers safely and faithfully. It was there that they would acquire the education they needed including the learning of their particular theology. But when the male children reached maturity, the Paidagwgovß was no longer needed.
But in many evangelical circles, preachers continue to preach the Mosaic Law as pertinent to the Christian faith. It is not. After the death and resurrection of the Son of God, the law was to be “done away with”.
II Cor.3:5-11 - Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
6 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:
8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?

9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.
10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.
11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

Now what do the words “done away” mean to you? In the Book of Acts the apostles and disciples preached Christ, his death and resurrection, not some amalgam of the Mosaic Law. In fact, Paul’s life was always in jeopardy because the Jews accused him of forsaking the Mosaic Law and encouraging others to do likewise.
But man’s fallen nature loves law. Why? Because following some law leads to self righteousness and the bondage of the flesh. The Pharisees were a direct product of the Mosaic Law, and in their blind self righteousness they failed to see Christ. And so it is today. But today some attempt to marry the law to Christ. Sabbaths, and holy days, and baptisms, and food regulations, are only a few of the ways in which some churches embrace the law.
Rom.8:1-4 - There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
he law condemns while the Spirit gives life. Paul tells us that gentiles, who never embraced the Mosaic Law, are a law in themselves. And if the law was meant for evangelism, why was the Holy Spirit sent to convince the world of sin? Look at verse two. The Mosaic Law was death and to those who know the Son and walk after the Spirit, we are free from the law. Why do some wear the law as some sort of moral talisman? Is Christ not all sufficient? I emphasize once more:
Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
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.
ou do not attach a corpse to a new born infant! Does that mean we are free to sin? Paul says, “God forbid!” But when we sin we are no longer law breakers, but disobedient children. I have used the illustration before. I tell my son not to go into the shed in the back yard. One day I discover he has entered the shed. I confront him and he admits his guilt. He is punished.
But one day the kid down the block jumps my fence and goes into my shed. I look out and see someone in my shed and I call the police. Why do I call the police on the kid down the block but I don’t call them on my son? Because he is my SON! He is not a stranger. He has a covenant with me, and in fact he is my flesh and blood. You see? Those who embrace the Mosaic law diminish the sonship we have with our Father.
Picture a man with a brown paper bag. Inside of this bag is one million dollars. One day the paper bag bursts and the million dollars comes spilling out. The man is exhilarated and dumbfounded. He picks up the millions dollars and begins to loudly rejoice. But before he goes to tell others he insists in preserving the ripped up brown paper bag. And when he tells his family about his good fortune, he shows them the million dollars but insists they also look at and admire the torn up paper bag.
Beloved, our motivation for living a holy life of service to Christ must never be the law. For as Paul observed, The love of Christ constrains me. Oh the freedom that is in Christ! The law was a schoolmaster to pre-illuminate the coming Savior. The blood sacrifice was a picture of Calvary, but when the substance arrives the shadow disappears. That is why we no longer sacrifice animals. Christ died once for the sins of the world! Halleluiah, what a Savior!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Leave it to Unbelievers

Malaria is a rabid killer on the continent of Africa. It kills millions of children. Bill and Malinda Gates donated 700 million dollars to a research company that has now come up with a vaccine. The initial test results are extremely encouraging, with an almost 50% reduction. So all it took was additional funding?
Well at least the American church can claim ornate auditoriums, high tech sound systems, exorbitant salaries, Christian cruises, and all sorts of expenditures including vast amounts spent on advertisement. But what about the malaria ravaged children of Africa?
We can leave that stuff to unbelievers like Bill Gates.
Wolves and Deceivers

Acts 20:28-30 - Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
29 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.
aul is about to leave Ephesus and he calls the elders before him. He warns them of spiritual wolves who will come after he leaves to spiritually decimate the church. He exhorts them to watch and protect the sheep. His heart breaks along with theirs as they say their good byes. If there ever was a pastor’s heart it was beating inside of the Apostle Paul.
Paul also reminds them that,
“I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel.”
ow things have changed since then. I do not believe it is sensationalism to say that most of what claims to be Christianity in the west is another religion with the name of Jesus forced upon it. It should break our hearts to see what men have done to God’s wonderful gospel. So much of it portrays God as a financier rather than a crucified and risen Savior. And rarely, except on Good Friday, do we hear about those divine sufferings and the grievous wounds. The church has turned its back on the Lamb.
Christian television is a disgrace. The overwhelming majority of programs are filled with a man made religion that bears no resemblance to the Christ of the gospels. Most programs are about getting God to enhance your life, and the way is usually through the giving of money. The wolves stand in pulpits and unashamedly preach things that are antithetical to the Kingdom of God and the teachings of Jesus. And like wolf pups, the people eat the regurgitation that spews from their lying lips.
The entire ecclesiastical structure in the western church accommodates and enables an atmosphere conducive to hirelings and not shepherds. The pastor does all sorts of things that have no benefit spiritually for him or his people. His messages are filled with humor and anecdotes that are designed to uplift rather than to present truth with which the Holy Spirit can work. The redundant spectacle of the Sunday gatherings are little more than self help sessions of encouragement, and though the sheep are spiritually emaciated, they leave with a warm and fuzzy feeling.
Not too long ago, even when I was saved in 1975, someone like Joel Osteen would never have been embraced by such multitudes. But today the wolves run in packs and teach things that destroy men’s souls rather than implore men to believe the gospel and follow the Lord Jesus. The average pastor spends more time on the phone, or on the golf course, or in restaurants than he does in penetrating and sacrificial prayer. These wolves have not snuck in through a side door. They walked right through the front door and without shame changed God’s gospel and made it a tool for man’s earthly success.
Many preachers live in mansions; many pastors have airplanes; many drive very expensive automobiles; many wear designer clothes; many have expansive financial portfolios; many have numerous investments; many have the gift of gab rather than the gift of preaching; and many have little or no prayer lives. And other than a passing reference, Jesus is nowhere to be found. But make no mistake, even the orthodox churches are in desperate need of a spiritual revival. For we ourselves must also embrace some of the blame for allowing such wolves to grow among us. Like Samson, we don’t even know our power is gone.
And many evangelical pastors lead their people to love and serve a fallen nation. They allow its banner (flag) to be displayed in the place of worship, they celebrate that nation in the worship service on the 4th of July, and many even place their hands over their hearts and pledge their allegiance to it right in a worship service. And then, in an act that is completely contrary to the teachings of Christ, they support this nation's wars and lead prayers to the Father that He may grant American soldiers the divine power to kill more of them than the enemy kills of us.
You do not consider those men wolves? Maybe not in the same category as the Joel Osteens, but they have been deceived through nationalism, and the embracing of violence as a means has been used of Satan to eradicate the power of Christ in the church. We are no longer a peculiar people. We now are patriotic Americans who happen to use the name of Jesus from time to time. And please do not forget that Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, Robert Schueller, Rob Bell, Kenneth Copeland, and all the rest are also very patriotic as well. Should that not be an obvious red flag to all of us?
And so here we are, awaiting the year 2012. The western evangelical church is a creation of the culture, and we remain blind to not only what we have become, but blind to what we could be for Christ.
Jam.5:1-3 - Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.
3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
Rev.3:15-17 - I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

And while some believers rot in Chinese prisons, and others have been murdered in Pakistan, and others hide in Muslim nations, and others have been macheted in Uganda, and others have contracted fatal diseases because they ministered to the lost, we can go about our business and have a “merry christmas”. And the western believer continues to seek his “best life now” and refuses to seek Christ.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Worse Than Black Metal Music?

There is a thing known as “black metal music”. Some of it is very dark, and some of it is outright satanic. You would not believe some of the lyrics and stage shows. It definitely has a negative effect on those who listen to it. But there is something in our culture that is hundreds of times more detrimental to our youth. What is it?
Divorce. And many divorced people scold those who are involved with dark music. I would suggest that we in the church clean up our own act before we climb the moral pedestal.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Jesus was an Occupier?

Jessie Jackson likened Jesus to Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and he said "Jesus was an occupier" referring to the present "Occupy Wall Street" movement. Read about it HERE.

Jesse Jackson is consistent. He continues to represent Jesus, another Jesus, as a good deed doer with a humanitarian mission to rid the world of all injustice. He equates the mission and person of Christ with Gandhi, Mandela, and Martin Luther King. One person even questioned his sincerity since Jackson himself is very wealthy, with most of his wealth being leveraged by the system the occupiers are confronting. Classic irony.

But this is just the kind of message people long to hear, and when they embrace this Jesus they will have lost their souls.
***Christoper Hitchens Dead at 62***


I do not go on Facebook, however my children do. My oldest son told me that a professing believer, a Bible college student with a Calvinist theology, posted about the death of Christopher Hitchens. He said that Hitchens was now “maggot food”. It is darkened hearts like that which profoundly misrepresent the heart of God.

Christopher Hitchens has died at age 62. He was a brilliant man and I always found him intriguing. He wrote the book “God is Not Great” which outlined the many ways in which religion has contributed to the world’s ills. He was basically correct.
However his analysis was fatally flawed. His research centered upon the sins of man and not the Sinless Savior. In the same way Gandhi allowed himself to reject Christ because of the flawed lives of professing believers, so Hitchens rejected all religion due to the inconsistent ways in which man has expressed his religion.
I feel sad today for Hitchens, as I do when any unbeliever dies. Today, Christopher Hitchens has discovered that everything he believed was eternally wrong and there is nothing he can do to change his situation. Let us all use this opportunity to witness once again to those around us who are currently in danger of the same fate as Hitchens. Perhaps the Spirit can open a hardened heart before it is too late.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The War in Iraq is Over


What Have We Learned?

On May 20th, 2003, troops from several countries, but mainly from the United States, invaded Iraq. At its height America deployed well over one hundred thousand military troops in Iraq. There have been almost 5000 American lives lost in the war, and tens of thousands of other casualties both physical and emotional. At least one trillion dollars will have been spent. At the end of 2012, all American troops will have been withdrawn.
But what have we learned from this nightmare, especially as believers?
We learned that we can glorify war and assign it some lofty goals.
We learned that people lie to push through their agendas.
We learned that Iraqi oil did not pay for the war.
We learned that the Iraqi government is very corrupt.
We learned that by instinct, Americans will rally around almost any war at first.
We learned that while people are perishing, we can still go to Disneyland and enjoy our own pleasures.
We learned that politicians use war to leverage their own political causes.
We learned that fear is a great tool in manipulating people.
We learned that we can watch war live on television while eating chips and dip.
We learned that many soldiers who lived will never be the same.
We learned that America chooses her wars according to the personal perspectives of its leader.
We learned that we could not live with the cruelty of Saddam, but we can easily live with the unspeakable horrors in the Sudan.
We learned that companies made huge profits in the Iraq War.
We learned that some politicians had vested interests in some of those companies.
We learned that war turns some soldiers into murderers.
We learned that terrorism can be used as leverage for increased military spending.
We learned that while people lie dead in the streets and others suffer intensely in hospital beds, we can claim victory like a giant pep rally on the deck of a war ship.
We learned that war has become very antiseptic in its presentation.
We learned that believers can pray that God will help Americans kill more effectively.
We learned that we really don’t care at all about the Iraqi people.
We learned that war in general is one massive lie.
But tragically, and if we are honest, we haven’t really learned a thing.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Robespierre Christianity

Today’s average evangelical believer robustly endorses war when earthly freedoms are threatened. In so doing, they are subscribing to what I call “Robespierre Christianity”. Put simply - Virtue by terror.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Leave the Scriptures Out of This

Bloomberg News sent a correspondent to Iowa to interview evangelical Christians about who they are supporting in the upcoming caucus. Many are vigorously supporting Newt Gingrich. When asked about morals and family values, several quipped,
The economy is a family value”.
I would suggest that the economy is a god to many.
Matt.6:23-25 - 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!
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

If only the Scriptures were relevant.
The Poison of Positive Thinking

II Cor.7:1 - Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Phil.2:12 - Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
We live in an evangelical world whose mission is to make people feel good, always. In fact, every service is designed to end with an emotional crescendo that catapults the congregation out the door with a fleshly effervescence. Warnings and conviction and fear and solemnity are out of the question. Those things do not fill the pews or the collection plate. And so we have little more than some religious stroking that can be described as infectious cheerleading.
The seriousness of God’s Word has been discarded and certain pieces of the Word have been fused together to present a pleasant caricature that is void of eternal consequences. The “fire and brimstone” label is used to mock preachers who declare the entire counsel of God. And even faced with the eminent appearing of the Great God we still are playing religious games.
Rom.3:18 - There is no fear of God before their eyes.
e have all but lost any fear of God. In fact, with clever cunning and adroit translations we have changed the meaning of fear and replaced it with some sort of comfortable reverence. The church does not fear God because by and large they do not know God. People have been spoon fed a tepid from of the divine, one who fits snugly within a western lifestyle and one who demands nothing and asks nothing. In fact, the God who is presented within evangelical circles lives His life to serve us!
II Cor.5:10-11 - For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men;
f you examine this portion of Scripture closely you will see that Paul is speaking to us all, but in the context of speaking primarily to believers. The terror of the Lord? That seems like it is for some medieval superstition about God, but yet here it is in the Word of God. What have we done? We’ve made God an ice cream man who desires His people to gorge themselves on all kinds of fleshly delights without any discipline or sacrifice. And God seems to be the life of the party.
Where is the call to be sober and watch? The end of all things is at hand and yet the people dance as if Christ has delayed His coming. These are serious times, and although God grants us His joy and peace, He also calls us to be very serious about the things that are eternal. Our eyes, in fact, are supposed to look at things eternal and not things temporal. But oh how the visible church has not just diluted the message, but has created another religion that bears little resemblance to what is outlined in the New Testament. Even our times of communion have been trimmed to fit our schedule.
And so we are groomed to feel good about ourselves, good about where we are spiritually, and good about God. Any negative aspects of God’s kingdom, or any consequences for disobedience or careless living have been eradicated. The entire evangelical landscape is nothing more than a religious business, constructed to keep people involved, and driven to keep a positive tone on everything. The carnival atmosphere of some services attract the carnal man, and the manipulative power of the church leadership has been honed into a fine craft. And many, many, many preachers are now millionaires with many more financially well off. The entire ecclesiastical construct smells of fallen man’s self serving motives.
II Thess.1:7-9 - 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:
9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
nd can we remain tearless and carefree when confronted with such a coming scene? Let us be honest, the church by and large no longer believes such nonsense. Laughing and dancing and partying and self esteem are on the church docket. This talk of a cataclysmic event, unparalleled in its force and scope, is irrelevant in today’s western self love fest. And we allow God a seat at our table but do not recognize Him as Lord of All. When Christ comes and consumes those who have rejected the gospel, will that induce positive thinking? When the stench of billions of dead carcasses roams the earth like a thick fog, will that be uplifting?
It is of paramount importance that we present and portray our God clothed in His own attributes and glory, and not some cuddly, divine puppet who follows us around in order to shower us with more things. He must be revealed upon the scaffolding of His own revelations. Upon the first millisecond of Christ’s appearing, the games will end. It is time for those with ears to run to the Rock lest that Rock grind them to powder. Oh, you don’t like that kind of God? Well go to the evangelical church down the street. They have a god you will enjoy.
This Love is Not of God

I love this country!”

I Jn.2:15-17 - Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Let Them Die and

Decrease the Surplus Population

What if your children came running in and said that your next door neighbors were starving to death. They asked, “Can we help?”
Perhaps you would quickly respond with some food from your pantry as well as hurrying to the grocery store and purchasing food stuffs for your neighbors. And when you went over to deliver your help, you saw that indeed your neighbors were starving to death. I suggest that your conscience could not allow you some of the luxuries you were accustomed to while the knowledge of your neighbor’s plight was fresh in your mind.
You see, the proximity of that crisis demanded your help and even your immediate sacrifice. Who could turn a deaf ear to such a need?
But that need, as well as many others, exists in reality around the world. So in effect, it is the proximity of such a need that elicits our response. And if people are starving to death outside the boundaries of our own neighborhood, then we are comfortable with our inaction. And indeed, the local church can, with a clear conscience, borrow millions of dollars to build buildings in which to meet now and again, while millions starve to death without the knowledge of Christ.
But at least we can claim to be against the prosperity message.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Determinism teaches that God orchestrates everything. All things happen at His very will.

Determinism paints a divine picture of an august deity who is self absorbed, and creates a race of dead puppets. Now this deity pulls the strings on a select few of his fallen marionettes, and without their own choice, makes them praise Him through the manipulation of his own power. And with the knowledge that God is literally praising Himself, he is pleased.

And voilà, you have determinism. Hollow, meaningless, and nothing more than a religious Muppets show.

Jn.4:23-24 - But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

How did you like the church you visited?”
It was great! I loved their worship service. Their praise and worship was awesome!”
Have you ever heard someone say something like that? Have you ever said something like that? Well let’s deconstruct that and see how man centered that phrase is and how worship has now become an entity unto itself. Here some church advertisements:
Anointed worship! Inspiring praise and worship! Awesome worship!
These are just some of the Madison Ave. type of advertisements concerning a church’s worship service. But before we can address the carnal nature of those caricatures about worship, we must appreciate the nature of worship itself.
Worship is an attitude of the heart, and quite probably the word attitude is severely insufficient. When a heart, redeemed in divine blood, beholds even in part the glory of its Redeemer God, it begins to worship. And that worship must be without compromise and distraction. That means that you cannot, as Rick Warren suggests, worship while you take out the garbage. You can praise God while working, but worship cannot be multitasked.
And what an immeasurable privilege it is to be allowed to worship a holy and august God. Would you want Charles Manson worshiping you? Well, without God’s grace that is exactly the word picture when we are allowed to worship the Risen Christ. That should bring into stark relief just how deep and consuming is the grace of our Redeemer God!
But worship is always a reflection of God and not of itself. We should not be enamored by worship, but by our God. That is why when we elevate the act of worship over the recipient of worship we do err. Most of the time when people say they loved the worship they are speaking of the music, the atmosphere, and probably the demonstrative aspect of the congregation.
But true and God honoring worship can take place in quiet moments, or during the communion service without music, or when singing a meaningful hymn. I love praise and worship music, and I have been known to dance in the aisle (rarely), and I have been brought to tears scores of times, but it must never be the music or the beat that elicits worship form our hearts. It must always be the revelation of our Great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.
The church has cheapened this thing called worship. We have made it our own franchise and even made it different brands. Many churches use their style of worship as their reference point when promoting their particular local assembly. But let me suggest something to you. Much of the Chinese church meets underground. And some walk as many as twenty miles to meet in the protection of a forest, and cannot use any instruments lest they be discovered.
Now these Chinese believers must worship God quietly, without instruments, without amplification, and yet they often fall to their knees weeping and with hands raised. I ask you, how authentic must that worship be? But how many songs does it take to prime the worship pump for the average western service? Do you see what has happened? We have made worship a thing and not a natural and supernatural expression of who God is.
Let us be very vigilant about our hearts which will aid us in true and spiritual worship. In the end, it is not about worship, for that is a looking glass. It is about the glory of the One True God, and the majesty of the Risen Christ!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Palestinians

I will, I have to, from time to time deal with the unchristian aspects of this coming election. I hope it will challenge us all. Another teaching moment surfaced this past week. One of the candidates, Newt Gingrich, was evangelized by his then mistress, and now wife, and he became a Roman Catholic. He was a nominal Southern Baptist.
During an interview on an Israeli news outlet, Gingrich called the Palestinian issue “invented” and rejected their right to form a nation for themselves. He suggested they should have assimilated in other countries. I do not care about the political issue here, I want to address the spiritual aspects of the situation in the Middle East as well as exposing Gingrich’s attitude as unchristian and shockingly arrogant.
When Britain gave the land to the Jews there were approximately 750,000 Palestinians living in what is now Israel. Perhaps 50% fled for various reasons, and when the first Israeli government was formed they passed laws which hindered those Palestinians from returning to their homes. It was a real mess.
Now we as evangelical believers have been taught that the 1948 formation of the Jewish state was a fulfillment of prophecy, and perhaps it is. But in this church age we are not to align ourselves with any group, political or ethnic, but we are to be vessels of redemption. The notion that God has no regard for the plight of the Palestinians is very unbiblical and misrepresents the Redeemer and His mission.
Prophetic realities aside, we seem to forget that unsaved Jews are as fallen and self serving as unsaved Gentiles. The nation of Israel is not always right, and like every other nation on earth they do not always deal with people with compassion. But the church must always have a compassionate element in all we do and say. But politics sucks the life out of everything spiritual.
And so you end up with this man, or any man, committing adultery that culminates with marriage, but pompously addressing the plight of the Palestinians as callously as if they were pieces on a checker board. And much of the evangelical world cares little for them at all, and basically supports the secular nation of Israel in whatever it chooses to do. And yes, I believe the Scriptures clearly give a future vision where God fulfills His covenant with Abraham and most, if not all, of the living Jews believe on Christ. But until then we as believers now must follow Him and not Israel.
How can we say we love Jesus and yet are respecters of persons? If you were born a Palestinian, and you have heard your grandfather tell how he lost everything in 1948, would you be bitter against the Jews? Of course you would. The Palestinians need Christ, just as do the Jews. But watch as all these politicians pontificate about Middle East policies, and watch as they all attempt to outdo each other in their support for Israel.
And when you hear all this bombastic rabble, and when you see all the speech that exalts a nation and not the Christ, remember this:
Col.1:18 - 18And 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.
If it isn’t redemptive it isn’t Christ.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The Only Way

Jn.14:6 - Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
verything is hollow and temporal without Christ. There has been a debate, which has intensified in these last several decades, concerning social justice, social gospel, and the emphasis or de-emphasis on humanitarian works in the lives of believers and the church as a whole. One side emphasizes humanitarian works to the detriment of the gospel, while the other side gives a disingenuous nod to humanitarian works without any real concern.
But let us be unequivocal concerning the gospel message. There can be no compromise, no dilution, and no downplaying of the Lord Jesus and His gospel. Any humanitarian works done by the church and/or its individual believers must have a gospel message component. And when I say component, I do not mean the ambiguousness of kindness that is duplicated among unbelievers and other religions. Kindness can open doors, but it is not the gospel.
There is perhaps no greater mistreatment of lost sinners than showing them kindness without sharing Christ. That just may be the most unkind thing you could do to them. In essence it mocks them and keeps from them that which alone can save their souls. And yet many believers feel fulfilled when they lend a helping hand to the needy, even when they leave them without lifting up Christ. This is no spiritual elective, this must have at its foundation the message of redemption through the Lord Jesus Christ.
I realize that the claims of Christ are scandalous and that He is a stumbling block to this darkened world, but He must always be the banner that is flown high in our lives and in the life of the church. We should be quick to help the poor and needy, but that must be wrapped in Christ. Every cup of cold water is meaningless if not given in His name.
We must never let loose of this basic, universal truth:
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
If we ever get too sophisticated to believe that then we will have left Christ.
The Pastor's Straying Heart

The Birthplace of Another Jesus

For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus…
here are all kinds of Jesus’s today. There is the prosperity Jesus; there is the all religions Jesus; there is the new age Jesus; there is the ecumenical Jesus; there is the emergent Jesus; there is the political Jesus; and there are any number of other Jesus’ that are preached, believed, and followed. But there will come a day when the real Jesus returns to earth. And He will be unrecognizable to those who followed all those other Jesus’s.
And on that day, the followers of another Jesus will have lost their souls…forever. Does that sound too harsh for you? Does it seem a little over the top? Is that seem at odds with the “love wins” modern theology? Are you having a little trouble allowing God to reveal His own plan? We all must bow to God Almighty instead of questioning the clear revelations in His Word.
One of the most egregious conduits for spreading another Jesus is the western church. Recently another preacher has stepped down due to many allegations of moral failure as well as the breakdown of his own family. But I want to illuminate something here. The allegations against him, which were settled out of court, were that he molested several teenage boys. But here is what most people missed.
He was accused of molesting them on his private jet! And how is it that so many fail to see a profound disconnect with Christ in these ultra lavish displays of self aggrandizement? And I would suggest that this kind of pastoral hedonism is a residue of a fundamental problem with the western ecclesiastical construct. The average evangelical church elevates the pastor in so many ways that much accountability is lost. In fact, most churches do not have a plurality of elders, and if they do, the elders are manipulated by the “head” elder.
And with that flawed system in place, it isn’t long before that pastor can read from the Scriptures, use the name of Jesus, but is actually preaching another Jesus. I find it very difficult to express in words just how far the visible church has stayed from preaching and following the true and living Christ. It is so far off that hyperbole is almost impossible. I liken it to explaining how wrong the Flat Earth Society is. It’s almost beyond belief.
But here we are. Today’s Jesus is a Santa Claus who wants everyone rich and healthy and exuding success. And the purveyors of such heresy enjoy a fleshly adulation from the masses as well as an inflated lifestyle that eschews the call for moderation. And when the flesh is allowed to rule, it does not just tread water, No, it grows in depth and power and is very creative as well. So when a pastor is given power without accountability, that pastor usually begins to stray.
The first place the pastor begins to stray is in the heart. He begins to be lifted up in his own mind, and refuses even the slightest correction. He thinks more highly of himself than he ought. Just the office breeds self righteousness if the pastor is not vigilant. And when modern day pastors begin to prosper financially through the power of their office, they become hirelings.
And slowly but surely, they begin to preach and live another Jesus. Be watchful for these rock star preachers. Be on the lookout for book signings and advertising campaigns that ultimately line the pockets of these hirelings. But the entire narrative is worse than just watching profligates parading as men of God. The worse aspect is that another Jesus is being represented.
In fact, many times the person of Jesus finds no place in their preaching, which is usually all about how to get God to do things for you. The entire evangelical landscape is littered with all kinds of other caricatures of Jesus. Let us take heed and continue to follow the Risen Christ and His path of denying self.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Despot Called Democracy

Democracy is just another form of despotism. In the case of democracy, the despot is man’s own fallen nature.
The Hypocrisy of Politics

The Republican Party likes to label itself as the “family values” party. Then why is a serial adulterer, who is currently married to one of his mistresses, the frontrunner in their primaries? The answer is simple.
Politics as all about money. All the other issues are mere window dressing. But the issue that must always be at the forefront of the church is this:
Who do you say Jesus of Nazareth is?”

That is what Republicans, Democrats, and Independents need to address. And when we as believing followers of the Lord Jesus watch the unseemly spectacle in next years political narrative, it should break our hearts. We used to be involved in that mess. And tens of millions actually believe electing their candidate will solve their problems.
And people will endure the self righteousness, the duplicity, the lying about their own records, the false promises, the demeaning of the other candidate, and the obscene amount of money that will be spent. It is estimated that this political season will spend more than a billion dollars just trying to manipulate people into voting for some candidate. The entire construct is humanism and antichrist at its core.
Do you want to please your Lord during this political cycle? Then retreat to your prayer closet in repentance and brokenness, and seek Christ with all your heart. Give your heart completely to Him and do not allow your heart to be caught up with anything but Him. There is only one cause and that is the gospel. Our system as believers is not a democracy. We live and breathe and have our being in a monarchy, and in fact, our life is in our Monarch.
During this time of utter foolishness and unbridled darkness, we could allow the light of Jesus Christ to shine through us most brightly.

Sunday, December 04, 2011


Matt.28:18-20 - And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
issions. One of the greatest evils that has come from the church has been its caricature of those words from our Lord. We, the wealthiest of all believers on earth, have found a way to create a mission construct that strokes our conscience and can present a plausible response to that commission, but is in fact a mirage of the religious flesh. To say it is unseemly is to praise it.
The western missions effort remains an effort of the flesh, restrained and convenient, and packaged in such a way as to soothe the western evangelical need to appear evangelistic. But anyone who has been part of a local building program knows that the money raised for buildings here dwarfs the paltry crumbs given to missions. It is safe to assume that there will be more spent on Christmas presents this year among believers than on missions.
Just what should be the guidelines for the support of missions as it pertains to the local body of believers? What sacrifice is too much, and what would constitute fanaticism? In order to evaluate our own view and response to missions we must juxtapose it upon the original template. And by “original” I do not mean the early church and apostles. The original missions effort has always been the Incarnation.
It is impossible to put into words the sacrifice revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ. Who can fully understand the great gulf that was spanned when God the Son came in the likeness of human flesh? Perhaps He could have used some of those resources to add rooms in heaven. Maybe build a place for redeemed teenagers. Perhaps whiter robes. But instead the entirety of an immeasurable sacrifice was birthed in Bethlehem and culminated in the lavishness of Golgotha. The incarnate alabaster box was broken and spilled out upon us.
Therein lies the glory of divine missions. In a practical as well as sacred sense, missions is putting feet to the cross. God knows how serious this business of eternity is for all mankind, and He has provided for us an example for which to follow. But to take the concept of missions and reshape it to fit nicely within an ecclesiastical budget along side of hundreds of hollow activities is a monstrous compromise and on some level turns its back on the cross. But of course every local assembly must have a missions program. It is our custom.
Little by little the surrounding culture has taken its toll upon the church until almost every area of the life of the church, personally and collectively, has been infected with a spiritual toxicity that emasculates its power and presents a counterfeit, not just a lighter version. And so it is with missions, which by any New Testament standard, should be the passion of any church which truly follows Christ. How is it that the laborers are few? Isn’t God calling enough or are our ears inclined to other things? Do you desire to know where people’s hearts are? Look where they spend their time and money. The same evaluation must be for the church.
Organize a Christmas pageant complete with a large choir and cantata. Watch the excitement; see the hours of sacrifice; look how much money is spent; and then listen to the exuberance after a successful presentation. But Bethlehem doesn’t urge us to recreate a nativity scene - it SCREAMS MISSIONS! Can you not see the disconnect here that has so grievously strayed from the commands of the Spirit? Do some people come to Christ at these Christmas presentations? Yes, to the glory and grace of God.
But that is hardly the point. Paul even admitted that when some preach Christ as a contention that sometimes the Spirit can even use that, but that does not mean we must recreate that either. But Christmas makes us feel good, and there is some entertainment value in it all, and it does serve to unify the church around a common cause. But if it is not of the Spirit then those things are still carnal.
Christmas is just an easy comparison. But when we view the entire passion of the church against the passion of Christ we are left with a gaping hole that we attempt to fill with programs, buildings, stuff, and the finer points of systematic theology. Did it ever occur to anyone that a sacrificial passion for missions might serve to strengthen marriages more than all these seminars? With the divorce rate still astronomical within the church, can we now admit all our expertise about communication and date nights and love speech doesn’t seem to be the answer?
A revival of devotion to Christ, and an awakening to a passion for missions, is the only cure for the ills of the western church. How dare we build gymnasiums and fellowship halls and spend incredible amounts of money on advertisement and only throw missions the proverbial bone. The western church in many ways is a fraud. The very last thing Jesus said before His ascension was to go into all the world and be a witness for Him. The western church has convinced itself that the path to rescuing souls from eternal punishment is found in adding butts to their own pews.
And the church has come up with a name for people who sacrificially give their lives in the cause of spreading the gospel. We call them “missionaries”. So what do we call people who really trust Christ? Believers? To separate the term “missionary” and only apply it to a small subset of believers is an affront to God’s command and indicts the entire body of Christ. But it reveals the pitiful level to which we are committed to the reaching of the lost. It has become part of the doctrinal culture but not part of the self denying manifestation of a believer’s life.
And so, after many centuries, and after assimilating the culture in which we live, the church has been able to incorporate a missions program that neither squeezes us financially, nor requires elongated times of intercessory prayer, nor necessitates the absolute offering of a believer’s life, regardless if he goes oversees or not. No one can claim we do not have a missions program. And let’s face it, we can live with that.