Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Reunion
Although I reject violence now, I was a witness to many miracles the Lord did in the lives of American soldiers. And I do admire those who place their lives for the cause of others. Those of us who reject war must never turn a self righteous eye to others who have shown much bravery.
I heard a soldier named Tim Lee who had lost both his legs in Vietnam, and because of that he gave his heart to Christ. Tim recounts in his testimony how a Christian black man in his company named Lee Gore pricked his heart. On the very last day in Vietnam before Tim Lee was to return home, he stepped on a mine. Losing blood, both his legs, and perhaps his life, his friend Lee Gore picked him up and rushed him to medical attention and saved his life.
Tim Lee became an evangelist. He had not seen or heard from Lee Gore for over 9 years, and the church where he would preach located Lee Gore and secretly flew him to the service. It was a patriotic service with which we are all familiar, but that is not the issue here. At the end of his message, this is what happened.

A Reunion!
A Powerful Immoral Vessel
Believing followers act surprised when unregenerate sinners act like unregenerate sinners. And when they espouse political positions that are counter to Biblical morality, believers seem outraged. But we are supposed to reach out to the lost, not cloud the gospel with all kinds of moral and political wrangling.
What would the average evangelical believer do if he had met the woman at the well in John chapter 4? He might have mocked her in a newsletter or blog. He might have picketed the well for allowing such a woman to drink there. He might have called his representative to find out where he stood on divorce and cohabitation. He might have provided proof that the founding fathers of that well never meant for a woman such as this to use it.
But Jesus did none of those things. In fact, He exposed His knowledge of her sin to reveal to her who He was. And after she knew He was at least a prophet, her heart becomes curious.
Jn.4:25-26 - The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.
26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.
ou cannot be shouting and condemning and still reach out in God’s redemptive love. But the template presented by THE Redeemer is redemptive. Of course the woman was a sinner, and in fact the disciples it seems were somewhat perplexed that the Master would even speak to such a woman. Do you want to play a part in that skit? Go ahead and befriend an openly gay man in order to draw him to Christ and watch the evangelical Bourgeoisie question your heart and mark you as a compromiser.
This woman had five husbands and was now living with a man who was not legally her husband. Her credentials as a sinner were unquestioned. Morality? She had none. She even had some knowledge of Scriptural things, but she was probably considered a mongrel and an enemy of true Jewish ethnicity. A Samaritan? She wasn’t worthy to even be spoken to. She is exactly why Jesus told her about the defense of marriage act.
But what if she was a Muslim in today’s evangelical climate. What if she practiced Sharia Law? Or what if she was a lesbian? Or what if she had just been to a pro-choice rally? What if she was Nancy Pelosi, Rosie O’Donnell, and Rachael Maddow all rolled up into one? There are millions of professing believers that would look with disgust at such a person. How do I know that? Because they already do.
But what if instead of a Samaritan woman it was Benjamin Franklin who came to the well with one of his many mistresses? What if George Washington came being attended to by a dozen slaves? What if it was Thomas Jefferson while reading a copy of the Bible in which he removed all vestiges of Christ’s deity? There are millions of professing believers who would treat such men with honor. How do I know that? They already do.
But regardless of this woman and her open immorality, look what happened.
Jn.4:28-30 - The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,
29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?
30 Then they went out of the city, and came unto him.
et me ask you this. After you were saved did you go witness to your whole city? And in light of who this woman was, to say nothing of her social standing because of her gender, she boldly tells all the men that Jesus is the Messiah! And she was so exited that she left her waterpot! And when she was telling the men about Jesus, she didn’t even have time to adjust her living situation. But the men were so taken by her passion, they left the city and went to meet Jesus. Wow! The first altar call and it was given by a Samaritan woman and the entire city went forward!
Jn.4:40-42 - So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.
41 And many more believed because of his own word;
42 And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.
ow, theology 101 already! I love this story because it exposes our own hypocrisy and moral self righteousness. The western evangelical church prides herself on her moral stands and conservative credentials, but we don’t have an ounce of the power and passion of this loose woman. We hold up our Bibles and loudly claim to believe it entirely, but it is apparent we don’t believe this story. Oh we believe Jonah and the great fish, but not how Jesus ministered to sinners.
We love dirt and gossip. Instead of Jonah and the revival we see Jonah and the great fish. Instead of Rahab the woman of faith, we see Rahab the Harlot. Instead of Samson who gave his life for God we see Samson and Delilah. You see, the natural man needs to demean others as stepping stones to his own elevation. We are very afraid of being vulnerable and being seen in the sinner’s pig pen, even if we have gone into the muck and mire in order to present life through Jesus Christ. Someone might think we are partaking of their sin. Relax, we are not partaking of their sin, we have enough of our own.
You know what? If we could replace ten thousand evangelical preachers with the spirit of this Samaritan woman, warts and all, we might have a revival that would cause the entire nation to leave their comfort zone and go out to meet Jesus. But I guess we will have to live with what we have. But be encouraged. There are enough liberals, gays, abortion doctors, immoral people, and all kinds of sinners in general to satisfy our unspoken need for an excuse for our powerlessness. I know Greek and Hebrew and my systematic theology is orthodox so how can I sully that with associating with known sinners?

I'm just glad someone didn't get a hold of that Samaritan woman and disciple her to be just like us.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Enter Politics - Exit Christ

It appears that United States soldiers inadvertently burned some copies of the Quran. No one suggests it was malicious. President Obama apologized for the mishap to the Muslim community. Enter politics.
Three of the Republican candidates, who claim to be Christians and believe the Bible, condemned the President for apologizing. They say you do not apologize for a mistake, and anyway what about the acts of violence perpetrated upon Americans. This illustrates with observable clarity the vicious hypocrisy that grows in the fertile but fallen ground of American politics.
If you accidentally and inadvertently step on someone’s toe, do you apologize? Of course. And has anyone heard of the golden rule? If I’m not mistaken it’s in the Bible. So let me get this straight. The dictates of the Scriptures, and the moral conduct of Christians, can be altered when our enemies act in a way inconsistent with what Jesus taught? Our faith is now reactionary and dependant upon the actions of others?
Let us burn the Bible and start all over since it means nothing anymore. And this new Bible should have as its template the Constitution of the United States. And in this new edition of the Bible, Jesus could give us an update.

Jesus says,
Dear brothers and sisters,
After reviewing some of the things I said in my last book, I realize now they were way too difficult and completely unrealistic. Having proof read some of my previous comments, let me present you with some updates that are much more pragmatic and culturally acceptable:”

* Hate and kill your enemy.
* Worry about the economy.
* Be overtly proud about where you were born.
* Reject humility since it suggests weakness.
* Yield your allegiance to Jesus and your denomination and your country and even your political party.
* Go ye into all the world and spread the gospel and democracy.
* When you are persecuted squeal very loudly.
* Watch and pray and legislate.
* Blessed are the politically active.
* If someone smites you on your cheek, go to war.
* Feed the poor sparingly lest you appear liberal.
* If someone asks you for your coat, tell him to get a job.
* If Caesar is conservative, support him.
* The founding fathers are the modern day apostles.
* Vote without ceasing.
* Rejoice evermore if the Republicans win.

“OK, these are a few of the changes I have made. Look them over and let me know if I need to change anything else. After all, I am YOUR servant.” - Jesus

The Law is Death
Gal.4:9 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.
Col.2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
Rom.2:23-29 - Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?
24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.
25 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.
26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?
27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?
28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
o ahead and try and keep the law. But the warning is this: If you choose the law to be your way of redemption then you have surrendered grace. And when grace disappears you are bound to keep the law perfectly and completely. One minor transgression and you die forever. One disoebdient bite of a piece of fruit and you are damned. Perhaps that gives you pause?
In reality every single person born is already a law breaker from his first breath through his great uncle Adam.
II Cor.3:7 - 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:
Most evangelicals would never believe that a sinner could be saved by obeying the Mosaic Law. They would espouse a salvation that is purely by grace through faith. But then why would these same believers believe that obeying the Mosaic law after salvation could sanctify them? Notice the above verse says that the glory of the Mosaic law was to be done away. Why? Because its glory was in its prophetic headlights that shined on the Lord Jesus, and inherrant in that glory was its demise after Christ died.

Heb.7:18For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.
19For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

Why did millions of gallons of animal blood have to be shed? Why was the blood applied to all the furniture in the Tabernacle? Why was the blood sprinkled on the mercy seat on the Day of atonement? And why was it all to cease one day? Because all of it pointed to Jesus and provided a shadow and example of what was to come. And when Jesus shed His blood and died for the sins of the world the Mosaic law ceased as it pertains to God’s people.
II Cor.3:9-11 - 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.
he Mosaic Law is called the ministry of condemnation, while the New Covenant is called the ministry of righteousness. And there is no doubt that the Mosaic Law was of God and had glory, and that glory was in its weakness. You want some Biblical meat? Here it comes.
Heb.7:1-12 - For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;
2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;
3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.
4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.
5 And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:
6 But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.
7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.
8 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.
9 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.
10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.
11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
We first read about this mysterious figure called Melchizedek in Genesis.
Gen.14:18-19 - And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:

After Abraham rescues Lot he meets Melchizedek and receives bread and wine from this high priest. Now the priesthood was to come through the tribe of Levi and also through Aaron. But look at Hebrews 7 verses 1 - 3 and notice that Melchizedek had no lineage and was “made like unto the Son of God”. Many people believe that Melchizedek was a Christophany, or a per-incarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus. I believe this very well could be true. The bread and the wine are probably a very specific prophetic shadow of both the Lord’s Supper as well as the Lamb of God’s coming sacrifice.
But who could know that back then? There needed to be some vehicle by which God could direct and nurture and teach his people about His redemptive plan. Just like the fire by night and the smoke by night, God had to guide His people carefully to the ultimate payment for sin, the cross. And so God chooses a servant named Moses and gives him the redemptive road map called the law. This law had many commandments and God knew no one could keep them all.
But since God changed the priesthood, what else did God change?
Heb.7:11If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
12For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

But God also provided a way to receive forgiveness for their sins, the blood offering. And Jesus, the High Priest after the order of Melchisedec, is both the administrator of the sacrifice as well as the sacrifice itself. The blood sacrifice is the core element in the law. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. So day after day, month after month, and year after year the priests would sacrifice animals for the forgiveness of sins. But those priests offered the sacrifice for their own sins as well. But in this New Covenant, we have a better Priest, a better sacrifice, a better promise, and a better Lamb. The law has accomplished that for which it was given, and now we rest completely in Christ and we serve Him. We do not serve God because we read it upon tablets of stone.
We serve Christ because we love Him with our whole hearts and we are His servants. We have been bought with a price, and we gladly belong to Him. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. We praise God for the law that came through Moses, but God Himself has come and now lives within us. If the law could sanctify us then God need not send the Holy Spirit for our guide. The life of a believing follower of the Lord Jesus is not a dualism. Jesus is Lord. So when we do not lie it is because the New Testament teaches us, as well as the Spirit, not to lie. It isn’t because the commandments of stone say the same thing.
If you desire to obey the Law of Moses, you must obey it all. The divisions of ceremonial law and moral law and sacrificial law are man made divisions meant to accommodate a misguided desire to obey some of the law.
Rom.10:4 - For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
When we sin now the Lord does not treat us as lawbreakers but as children in need of correction. Our freedom is not a license to sin, far from it. If we have been born again, and if we have a love for the Lord Jesus, we will not need the law for obedience. There are commandments that overlap the Old and New Testaments, but we are creations of the New Covenant not vestiges of the Old.
Gal.4:3-7 - 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.
ow in full disclosure, and with an honest attempt to avoid legalism and judgment, I do not celebrate holidays or any days for that matter unless you count Sunday. No Christmas, no Easter, no Thanksgiving, no President’s day, no Memorial Day, no 4th of July, no day at all. I consider all the days I just mentioned to be heathen, and observing "Christian" days is not only a throwback to the law, but it indicates we do not celebrate those things every day. Paul calls those things the “beggarly elements” while Christ is the substance.
Do with that what you will, I place no man in my bondage, but any embracing of the law is an affront to Christ and His grace. Christ fulfilled the law, and in that the law is holy (separated for its divine purpose).
Gal.2:21 - I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
Gal.3:12 - And the law is not of faith: but,
The man that doeth them shall live in them.
How do you gain the righteousness sufficient to be saved and justified before God? Everyone knows it is by faith and faith alone in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Then how can we add to that righteousness by obeying that same law which cannot gain one iota before God?
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?
aul is clear here. He is not speaking of salvation by the works of the law, he speaks of sanctification by the works of the law. Both are equally hollow in large part because no one can obey the law. No one. Outwardly or mentally. Christ was often accused of breaking the law and often the accusation was accurate in man's understanding. Paul’s life was in constant jeopardy because he taught believers to forsake the Law of Moses, and Paul had to convince James that the Gentiles need not abide in the law. James was a hard shell Jew who had much to learn.
The entire book of Galatians, as well as Romans and Hebrews, was written to refute the melding of the Law of Moses with the covenant of Promise, the covenant of the Spirit. To embrace any part of the law is to embrace a part of Hagar, but Isaac is our foreshadow, he being the son of Promise. "Cast out the bondwoman and her son". If you have placed yourself under the law then be set free today. Remember, I did not steal from my earthly father because it was against the law. I did not steal from my father because I loved him and he was my father and I was his son. I hope I need not make the obvious application in the Spirit.
I realize there many believers who are still zealous of the law and will aggressively defend its place in our lives. They are wrong. Let me leave you with these verses that openly rebuke, reprove, and exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
Gal.5:1-6 - Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised,
that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

In the Vortex of Religious Death
God has spoken. His words are life. And His blood is eternal life. Stop for a moment and look at the spinning vortex of religious death. Listen to all the human voices that deny His words and speak their own. All around us the whirlwind swirls with demonic versions of Christianity that appeal to the flesh. If these are not the last days I shudder to think what they would be.
Like a giant puzzle neatly put together but then completely broken apart by a swirling wind, so is God’s truth in this culture. And you have pieces of truth here and pieces of truth there and they are all mixed in with falsehoods and error and man made schemes. Imagine a bridge spanning a deep and yawning chasm. If you remove a part of the railing it makes it more dangerous but it still is intact. But if you remove a piece of the floor the entire bridge collapses. No one can cross anymore.
This is what has happened in today’s Christian community. Considerable parts of divine truth have been removed, replaced, and in general manipulated in order to tickle itching ears and soothe the fallen religious consciences of millions of church goers. It is not just unfortunate, but it is certain death. There is only one guide that can point and lead us into a secure eternity. That is God’s Word.
I Pet.1:23-25 - Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
he music is over and the crowd begins to quiet down. A man rises and turns toward the crowd, a Bible in hand. He places the Bible on the wooden pulpit. He begins to tell a joke. The people laugh. The man holds up his Bible and the people hold up theirs as well. They recite the same mantra they recited last week. The man’s smile is infectious, and he and his wife look like they stepped off the top of a wedding cake.
It does not matter what day it is. The man talks about being persistent and determined. He speaks about embracing your own self worth. He speaks about advancement and prosperity. He may say the word Jesus at the very end, but Jesus seems so out of place in the entire spectacle. As I watch and listen I can imagine some movies I saw decades ago called “A Thief in the Night” and “The Mark of the Beast”. It depicted what the earth would be like when the Bride is taken away. And there it was, a smiling preacher telling encouraging stories about how human effort is divine in and of itself. It’s as if these men have thrown out God’s Word and started all over from scratch by creating their own Bible.
I had just been saved back then, but I never realized that these prophetic movies and their portrayal of lost preachers would be realized even before God comes for His church. And it isn’t just the Joel Osteens of this culture, but there are a literal myriad of false teachers and preachers swirling around and being spread through television, radio, and all kinds of literature and recordings. We are surrounded by damnable lies from all corners.
Regardless of where you live these kinds of churches are within driving distance, and if you are a "shut in" the television will gladly supply you with an abundance of heresy. Christian television is a disgrace and serves up a steady diet of apostasy while making a few men and women rich. The situation is much worse than can be adequately described and understood. I firmly believe no orthodox preacher should ever pay to be on Christian television and lend it any credibility. Go on secular television and reach the lost.
We stand in the eye of a vortex of religious death. Many places around the world have to deal with a few cults, but the basic gospel is preached in their churches. China, India, South America, and others have their problems, but they pale in comparison to the whirlwind of apostasy that is sweeping across the United States and Canada. We live in a culture and religious climate of death itself. Yes, like a marionette the strings of the flesh make the lifeless human puppets seem to dance around and enjoy much activity, but in reality they are dead and pursuing the path that leads to eternal death.
There will be millions of sinners who have been deceived by false preachers who will meet the second death. They believed the lies spoken by heretics who used the name of Christ for their own benefit and made merchandise of millions of people. There will be millions of patriotic, religious people who will be forever separated from God because they were deceived when they saw born again believers joining forces with them and the evil one convinced them that the were alright in God’s eyes.
Do not remain ignorant, if you join your life to a fallen cause and become yoked with lost souls you have become a tool of deception. The true and faithful believer should never be joined and compromised by unbelievers over abortion, homosexuality, marriage, nationalism, or any issue. They have no part in us if they do not know Christ, and they will never taste our salt or see our light if we are all in one giant melting pot. I wonder just how many millions of unbelievers in America feel very religious and God fearing since they embrace certain moral issues and they revere the founding fathers? And how many believers are reinforcing that deception? Think long and hard about that since for millions eternity hangs in the balance.
This current voracious hunger for spiritual licentiousness is destroying the hope for millions of souls who might otherwise be presented with the truth. The days are evil, and like the sound of a speeding locomotive the vortex of religious death continues to systematically gather passengers and carry them to a certain eternal death. The situation is desperate. We must watch and pray and be a light to the darkened souls who walk among us. Let the dead bury the dead. Let the fallen expend their energies in politics. Let the lost pursue success and money.

We must be about our Father’s business.

Friday, February 24, 2012

We Have Been Forgiven

Matt.26:27-28 - And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;
28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Eph.17 - In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
I Jn.2:12 - I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.
ll too often we have taken the glorious simplicity of the faith we call Christianity and we have accessorized it with man made commandments and man made traditions and a systematic theology whose complexity rivals the Unites States tax code. And in our religious enthusiasm to exegete every nanoparticle of Scripture and then act as if we have a complete and working knowledge of every single mystery, we obscure and sometimes obliterate the absolute core of our faith which is the forgiveness of sins.
And if being mature in the faith means taking for granted the forgiveness of our sins, well then we have moved into a degraded level of maturity. And at the core of our so called maturity and what is glaringly obvious and pervasive in the evangelical community, is the minimizing, and in many cases the absence altogether, of the cross of Jesus Christ. It seems as if we no longer need the forgiveness of our sins, and our original sin cleansing encounter with Christ where we were raised from death to life, is nothing more than an historical fact on our spiritual résumé.
To say the current emphasis inside evangelicalism is gospel wanting and weighted heavily toward man and things is to be generous. It highlights a profound lack of understanding concerning the depth of our sin and the labor needed to provide divine forgiveness. And since we consider ourselves spiritually erudite, the western church has taken Christianity, repacked it with attractive and alluring ribbons and frills, and presented it without the uncomfortable aspects of His passion. And when the faith is not burdened by such antiquities such as stripes and thorns and sweat and spears and spit and punches and all that repulsive blood, well we can now present a spiritual narrative which does not make us look foolish.
And voilà, you have a reasonable faith that is designed as a manual for mankind’s earthly success. And now we have molded the Christian faith into part of a well rounded western lifestyle that is wonderfully inconspicuous within the culture. Just as God intended. Fortunately we have learned a lesson from those ignorant and Neanderthals we call the “martyrs”. I mean how ridiculous is it to die for something you believe in? Today’s expression of the faith is so much more rational and defensible without resorting to extremism and a rather cultish behavior.

But satire aside, the church has turned her back on the cross and the forgiveness of sins and has morphed into a religious side show. How dastardly! How cowardly! There is no salvation without the forgiveness of sins and there is no forgiveness of sins without the shedding of blood. If that seems like so much antiquated folklore then move on, the cross is not for you. And since the Osteen-esque church has jettisoned any resemblance to Biblical Christianity, then every believer will have to choose who they will serve.
And the choice that must be made is not like choosing what to eat at some local buffet. This choice may well impact your eternal destiny. Am I being a little melodramatic and sensational? Compared with what Jesus suffered on the cross my words are profoundly tepid. If your sins are not forgiven then you are headed for an eternal existence that is conscious and separated from God. I cannot describe such an existence however it is beyond unpleasant and it is forever. I know, what place does such verbiage have in this feel good religion they erroneously call “Christianity”.
But we must once again bathe ourselves in the glorious knowledge that we have been forgiven of our sins. We were not just some ambivalent sinners; we were consistent and studied practitioners of the art of sin. We could take sins already being practiced and make them a deeper and more devious projection of our darkened hearts. And when we became bored with the usual sin menu, we were adept in inventing new and more prolific expressions of sin. And in our fallen reason and fallen practice we became sin evangelists. We were some piece of work!
But one day by the grace of God’s Spirit we were brought face to face with a Holy God. And suddenly we became aware, albeit with a limited knowledge and appreciation, that we were sinners. And our spirits were awakened to our need of forgiveness. What could we do? Penance? Offerings? Good works? What could wipe the slate clean and wipe out the handwriting of ordinances that condemned us? Mantras? Incantations? Religious talismans?
Oh but then there was that glorious moment! For me it was on top of Garrett Mountain in Wayne New Jersey in March of 1975. In a moment, after God had pursued me relentlessly, I suddenly realized who Jesus really was! I can only share with you a limited narrative since what I experienced on the inside cannot be fully communicated. All of us who are believers came to that moment when the Lord Jesus comes alive with a sacred explosion in your spirit. And then something eternal happens.
The weight of your sin which you had gotten used to is lifted, and you breathe your first breath of redemptive air! I am reliving it again as I type. I mean if we ever lose sight of what He has done for us and who we were and who we are by His matchless grace, then we have lost everything. I have done hard drugs with needles, I have been drunk beyond reason, I have been in street fights, and I have engaged in all sorts of debauchery and immorality, but nothing - NOTHING - NOTHING - has ever compared with what I experienced that night in March.
And that is what is bewildering to me as it concerns this western, bastardized version of the faith in Christ. Have they actually had the born again experience? I had never heard the term “born again” on the night in March of 1975. But not too many days afterward I read the term and my heart leaped within me. I thought, “Yes, that is exactly what it felt like!” Of course, because it was God’s Word. I walked in forgiveness. And even though I still sinned and still was in God’s family classroom designed to make me like Jesus, I felt the eternal weight of sin had been lifted.
In some ways those days were unvarnished and unclouded by all the wrangling over all sorts of side issues. I was in love with Jesus and He was in love with me. I do not minimize the process of maturity we call sanctification, but what I do confront is when maturity expels the childlike faith that always glories in the cross and rejoices in the forgiveness of sins. That is not maturity, that is humanism. I am not ashamed to tell you that I have been saved for 37 years and yet I am almost overcome with emotion as I again revisit the cross of my Redeemer. Have we become so jaded and so doctrinally elite that we can no longer shed tears when we think about our Glorious Lord? Have we become so “mature” that we dare not weep in praise and worship before the Crucified and Risen Christ? If that is our lot than we of all men are most miserable.
So here we are in this world. The evil in tomorrow will take care of itself. But we have been forgiven. We did not deserve it, and in fact we have sinned many times since we were initially forgiven. Redemption is not a license to sin, but it is a covering for sin. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. It doesn’t say that man does not sin, but that God does not mark down his sin against him. Where does it go then?
It was nailed to the cross and it is now at the bottom of the sea of God’s forgetfulness. Listen, let’s be honest here, even after I was saved I still deserved hell just based upon the sins I committed after I came to know Christ. And yet I stand before God clothed in the sinless righteousness of Jesus Christ. Cleansed, redeemed, forgiven. What does the world have to compare with that?! Spurgeon once observed,
When we get to that Celestial City, and when upon that first moment we lay our spiritual eyes upon the Risen Christ, we will think ourselves a thousand fools to ever have been attracted to anything in this present world”.
Amen, amen, and praise the Lord.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What is Life?
Lk.12:13-21 - And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.
14 And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?
15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

What is life? Is it just the beating of one’s heart? Is it just breathing? Is it the enjoyment of things? Jesus, the Creator of all life, makes it very clear that life is none of those things. And yet, in this day of extreme hedonism the church has slowly but surely adopted a world view of life.
We have millionaire preachers flying in private jets. We have believers accumulating much money. We have believers surrounding their lives with all sorts of earthly accoutrements. And the church has assimilated material prosperity into its theology. Poor Abraham, he never realized his experience would be used and abused in order to make it seem like God desired all of us to have what God gave him. Gone are the spiritual lessons. Everything is now material and self centered.
“Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”Even in the face of such a direct and clear admonition preachers can manipulate and twist it to accommodate their worldly lusts. And in so doing not only are they promulgating error, but they are missing life itself.
Col.3:1-4 - If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
3 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.

Did you catch that phrase? “Christ who is our life”. OK, let me add some words from His own sacred lips.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life.”Come on, how much clearer can it be? And unless you have a personal agenda of lust you cannot deny that our life is Christ. And yet millions upon millions of professing believers walk around draped in death and without the life that can only be found in Christ. The church has relegated Jesus Christ to a redemptive theology but has kept Him outside the daily life experience of His professing followers. Houses and cars and clothes and success and salaries have crowded Him out.
Jn.15:4-5 - Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
To abide in Christ entails much more than embracing an orthodox doctrinal statement.Rev.2:2-4 - I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:(And I know you have uncovered false teachers like Bell and Osteen and that you are diligent to confront evil men…)3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.(And you have remained faithful to my Word and the faith once delivered to the saints.)
4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
And here we find an admonition to us who embrace an orthodox theology and even rebuke false teachers and heretics by name. Sometimes in our clear sighted energy to warn others of the errors of false teachers we neglect to lay ourselves before Christ. We sometimes are satisfied with defending Biblical truth. But the Spirit recognized the labors and patience of the Church at Ephesus, but reveals a serious flaw in their spiritual walk.
They had left their first love. This is no minor or fringe issue. In fact, the Spirit warns the believers at Ephesus that their candlestick is in jeopardy if they do not repent and return to their first love. Do you not think that this is a solemn issue that must be identified and addressed? What does the Spirit mean when He says “thy first love”? The word love is used loosely as a pronoun and obviously refers to Christ Himself. That much is clear.
But how can we who boldly espouse an orthodox doctrinal statement leave Christ, our love? That is the penetrating question that is rarely addressed within the church and within the hearts of individual believers. But it is not just an important question, it is the paramount aspect of a disciple’s life. Jesus must be our very life, and he must be our first and continuing love.
All to Jesus, I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.We must guard against getting so caught up with chasing error that we fail to see how far we have strayed from Christ Himself. That is not only possible, but it is a very slippery slope. Our relationship with Christ should be much more intimate and personal than just checking theological boxes. He is not just some doctrinal fort to be defended.
“Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.”We are His bride and His wife. That metaphor is meant to indicate an intimacy in the Spirit that surpasses head knowledge alone. God has left behind the stone tablets and has placed His very being inside the believer. How intimate is that? And yet how often do we live with a spectacular awareness of that immeasurable reality? And with that incredible truth, Paul makes this sweeping statement.
Gal.2:20 - I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
So class, Who IS our life? Is it not obvious that we have allowed all sorts of distractions and sins to rob us of the surpassing glory of His life in this present spiritual subsistence? Again Paul states a unfathomable truth.
Phil.1:21 - For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Say it out loud. Meditate on the veracity of its words. All of us know this sentence, yet how many know its experience? In light of just the verses I have shared in this post, does it not seem obvious that there must be more - MUCH MORE - to the life of a believing follower of Jesus the Christ? And if our love for Jesus should make our love for our mothers look like hate, then where oh where has such love gone? Have we not allowed that love to be parsed out among the things of this world?
Brethren, we have much work to be done with God and the road ahead can be a glorious path of repentance and revelation. To know Him is to love Him. And if our love has waned it is because we have relied on knowing Him from a past understanding and not a revelation of Christ that is as fresh as today. Our life is not just a string of adjectives.

Our life is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Democracy for Dummies
From the Associated Press:
Just two dozen ultra-wealthy donors are behind a surge of million-dollar contributions to the new breed of political committees during the presidential campaign.
Millionaire and billionaire executives have unlocked their personal bank vaults to write seven-figure checks to support the campaigns of Democratic President Barack Obama and the Republicans vying to oppose him: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.
More than half of the $60 million collected so far by the new group of independently run super political action committees supporting presidential candidates came from just 24 wealthy Americans, according to an Associated Press review of financial reports filed by the campaigns. The super-sized checks amount to $33 million, and in some cases, the contributions of $1 million or more represent most of the money that several super PACs have collected.

And just how was this money spent? It was used to manipulate shallow minds through attack adds and slick commercials that inflate a candidates record as well as make absurd promises. So in effect, a handful of rich people are driving the election. So what else is new? And most of the Republican candidates promise lower taxes, a balanced budget, an increase in military spending, an abundance of great jobs, affordable health care, and one everlasting gobstopper for every American. And you believe them?
And President Obama promises to keep abortion legal, legalize gay marriage, listen to the war generals, and refuse to drill for oil because he treats the earth like a person. Believe him. And there you have it. Fallen man from all stripes attempting to promise a utopia on earth without the gospel. I would love to know which liar you will vote for this year.
All you followers of Jesus Christ, I hear the echo of a voice not bought and paid for by man. It is saying, “Come out from among them and be separate”. It does not surprise nor sadden me when I see the fallen spectacle of American politics. But it does sadden me when I see professing believers rolling around in that fallen pig pen. Hey Joshua, speak to us once again.

Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD

And the people answered and said, “God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods.”

Is that your answer as well?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

You’ve Been Changed - But
Are You Being Changed?
The last fifty years has seen many changes in the way evangelicals practice and live out their faith. It is obvious that none of us are perfect or even completely surrendered to the Lord Jesus, but that can never be an excuse for a lack of passion and pursuit of holiness and a life poured out for His glory. But some of the changes have been instrumental in steering the church and the individual believer way off course. And today we are mired in a dangerous mixture of the flesh and the spirit, which in effect is actually only flesh.
When our vision becomes clouded with the accoutrements of this present world we ourselves become slaves to them. And what began as honest expressions of the Christian faith has now morphed into talent shows and a continuing curiosity about the faith with no tangible and observable change in behavior or commitment. Many evangelical services are well crafted performances that are designed to arouse emotions and create an air of excitement and entertainment. And at the end of such displays, the masses leave just as they came. When that happens you can be sure they have not met with the Risen Christ.
With the advent of electricity, radio, television, and commercial recordings things began to change significantly in the culture and in the church. Music became a paid ministry and many gospel singers made a good living from their recordings. And people by the millions were blessed by the music. But something very clandestine happened as well.
Music, gospel and worship music, replaced the Word and became the spiritual mainstay among evangelicals. And many singers and groups became the focus instead of Christ. It was not designed to happen that way, but it did. And now the music in the average evangelical service is the driving force and is given the most time and prominence. There is nothing wrong with worship music when it is accompanied by a bold and broken proclamation of God’s Word, but so often that is not the case.
And the same is true of Christian books. Concordanceses and maps and commentaries and translations and yes, blogs are legion. How many have we read and been “blessed”? But how many scores of Christian books have we read without being changed by the Spirit through them? It is not enough to read books just to be interesting. But Christian books by the millions are bought and consumed without any substantive change in people’s hearts and lives. But one thing does change. Many authors have become wealthy.
But with all the music and all the books why is there still so little change in the lives of evangelicals? Why is there no revival due to the mountain of books and Cds and music and videos? We as western believers are overflowing with information about the Bible and the gospel. But the question is not how much do you know, but how much have you changed? And so often we are satisfied with recalling the early years of our conversion and recounting how we were changed back then. But how have you been changed lately?
One of the most prominent signs of a backslidden church is contentment. Not contentment in Christ, but content in where we are spiritually.
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;”
What is wrong? Why is this church content? Look what God says in the following verse.
“…anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.”
The reason we are content with our present spiritual condition is that we are blind to the things of the Spirit. We cannot see ourselves as God does, and so we create a false assessment of ourselves and of the church at large. Our view of the Crucified and Risen Christ has been obscured by the things of this world. And in order to pacify the flesh we entertain ourselves through all kinds of Christian gimmicks. And we have taken good things like music and books and have made them hollow idols. The entire spectacle is a pitiful expression of Christ.
Our desire and our pursuit must be to allow the Spirit to change us. And if we are not being challenged and changed by the Spirit then we are walking according to the flesh. If any man basks in the glory of the Risen Christ he must be changed. This kind of Christianity that lives and breathes without sacrifice and without a consistent experience of crucifying the flesh is not Christian at all. It is a religion that has stolen the precious name of Christ and uses it for its own aggrandizement.
Being changed and conformed into His image is a painful, humbling, and glorious experience. The flesh will resist death using all the tactics at its disposal. It will attempt to convince us that we are normal and comparable to other believers. It will lie to us and suggest that we are not in need of any dramatic change. It will become religious in an attempt to pacify us. It will throw up our Bible knowledge to us and entice us to admire our Biblical acumen. It will remind us of how we have supported missions and how we have witnessed to the lost. All of this in a bold attempt to keep us from stepping into a deeper revelation of Christ and a deeper obedience to His Biblical voice.
I Jn.4:16-17 - And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
o you not see it? Are your eyes still in need of salve? Has blindness so overtaken you that those words do not stir you to pursue that love made perfect? And how shall we minimize and dilute the phrase “as He is so are we in this world”? That challenge is not attained in a spiritual hammock. This is serious business and it requires much sacrifice and spiritual labor. Nothing is born of God without genuine travail.
Look fully into the face upon the cross. This is not some religious folklore or some Christian mythology. This is the way of life; this is the forgiveness of sin; this is the blood soaked Lamb; this is our banner, our faith, and our very life! The things of this world are our enemy, and they are closing in all around us. The desire of the enemy is to call our eyes to look away and gaze upon the lust of the eye and the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. But we must not just gently refuse; we must boldly and with conviction rebuke such temptations and look with love and faith to out Glorious Lord.
And while we look in worship and faith we are changed.

We abhor the flesh and all that is in this world. Change us, O Lord, into the image of Your Dear Son. We have no King but Jesus. We have no life but Yours. We are Your humble servants so speak Lord, Your servants are listening. We truly believe Your coming is nigh and the days are evil. But we need the power of Your Spirit to change us and use us for Your glory. And as the disciple who You loved said, we desire to be in this world who You are.
We cannot do that. You must do it in and through us. We beseech You, Lord Jesus, change us with an excruciating depth that breaks open this earthen vessel and brings forth the light of Your cross and resurrection. That can be, should be, must be our one desire.
A God Mandated Divorce
Heb.4:17 - Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.
The Spirit uses the name Ephraim, the second son of Joseph and one of the tribes in the Northern Kingdom, to refer to the ten tribes in the Northern Kingdom usually called Israel. The Lord says that these ten tribes are joined to their idols so let them have what they want. These tribes worshiped all kinds of idols and were enamored by their own strength. They even resorted to worshiping Baal. It was a deep time of spiritual apostasy.
But there are many prophetic looking glasses in Old Testament narratives such as this. God’s people were joined to idols, which can also be translated “married to idols”. Idolatry was rampant and when God’s people become married to idols it affects every single aspect of their spiritual walk. In fact, in many ways, it is such a sin that it causes a breach between the believer and His God. But God is relentless and He strongly convicts His people and commands them to repent.
Hos.11:8 - How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.
od’s hearts is filled with compassion, and so He still desires repentance. He wants restoration through repentance. God refuses to completely give up on His people. And so it is today.
The sin of nationalism continues to grow with breathtaking velocity and ferocity in these last days. The caustic verbiage and unholy allegiances are being practiced with great intensity. Millions of believers are married to their idol. And one of the tragic aspects of nationalism is that it is a Trojan Horse for all kinds of compromise and sin. But let us define nationalism and its Siamese twin patriotism.
When a sinner is born again he is translated from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God’s dear Son. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, has changed. Now that sinner usually does not realize the extent and the specifics of that change. When I was born again I knew I was different on that very first day, however letting the Spirit illuminate me to God’s will in all areas is a journey. Sometimes little steps and sometimes big steps are part of the process, but we should always be in the process of change. That change is geared toward making us like Jesus.
The easiest things to see are those which are obviously sin. Lying, immorality, drunkenness, drugs, and other things are easily recognized as unlike Christ and many times they are the first things to go. That is a good thing. But after we come to a level of maturity the Lord expects us to sharpen our listening skills in the Spirit and also to continue to be transformed with the same vigor we had in the early days of our conversion. But so often we get content and become spiritually petrified.
But one of the most difficult areas in which to change are those that are not of God but are accepted and practiced within the evangelical community. So when we are saved, and when we begin to worship at a local assembly, we can easily become deceived if that assembly practices something that is not in accordance with God’s will. Why? Because there are people in that fellowship who love and serve Jesus, and they being more Biblically knowledgeable than are you, there is a tendency to not only refuse to question that practice, but usually we unknowingly adopt such a practice.
And that is exactly what happened to me and in fact several generations of new believers. We came in as blank slates but in love with Jesus. And the more mature believers nurtured us and prayed for us and little by little we matured and our lives began to exhibit outside what had taken place inside. It was and still is a glorious time! There is nothing that is too much sacrifice for our wonderful Lord.
But hidden in the ecclesiastical construct was a subtle but devious sin. And this sin was so clandestine and so prevalent and so embraced that we did not even question it. In fact, we embraced it and taught it to those who came after us. Many of us taught it to our own children. I did. And I also taught it and practiced it to my congregations. It was the sin of nationalism, and in Biblical parlance that is the sin of idolatry.
I did not mean to lead people astray, I really didn’t. I desired to walk holy and with integrity before my Lord. But such is the nature of deception. You that follow Rob Bell or Joel Osteen or Rick Warren or others would do well to reexamine just what is being said and taught. But our generation became captured by the same deception, and without malice we were married to our idol. But it was extremely difficult to see and perhaps even more difficult to turn from.
When you even raise the question of patriotism being incongruent with the teachings of Jesus and His Word you will be looked at as if you have become unhinged. But it is not only important, but it is imperative that believers individually and the church at large divorce this idol. We must see it for what it is: a colossal weight on our spiritual integrity and an enormous hindrance to the gospel message. And shouldn’t that be what we are all about, the spreading of the gospel?
We have been caught in a snare and instead of asking God for the power to escape we have allowed the evil one to surreptitiously incorporate this idol into our very theology. And now we even pledge allegiance to this snare. Take a moment and look around and give some thought to the condition of the western church. Does it seem like God’s power is coursing through her veins? Are we penetrating the culture with the message of God’s wonderful grace? Or is the culture penetrating the church until the difference between God’s people and those that are lost is indistinguishable.
And if you see a problem, then it behooves us who desire to please Christ to place everything upon the altar and ask the Spirit to burn away that which is not of God. But let it be said that we have not just dabbled at idolatry, we have become married to it. And like Israel we have brought Baal right into our gatherings of worship. Does not just the suggestion of such a thing deeply disturb your spirit? Do we really desire Christ or are we going to settle for that which satisfies our carnal religious obligations?
But count the cost.
II Sam:24:24 -…neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing.
avid desires to offer unto the Lord a sacrifice, but instead of offering a free gift from someone else, David pays for it. He will not offer something to the Lord that cost him nothing. What a profound and glorious attitude! And if you desire to take a painful and uncomfortable inventory of your own spiritual life, and if that inventory includes an inspection of things that are “settled law” within evangelicalism, then be prepared to pay dearly in church circles. There are many things about which people will discuss, but there are some things that have become golden calves and precious to their hearts that will result in criticism and more if you dare question their spiritual veracity.
But in view of the price that Christ paid for our redemption and ransom, do we not owe Him - say - our very lives!? What is too high a price? Are we going to protect our reputation in the sight of men? Are we afraid to upset the status quo? Are we way too comfortable to even enter the prayer closet with open Bible in hand and beg the Spirit to do whatever surgery is necessary? Is it just about heaven or is it about serving the Lord Christ with all our hearts in view of heaven?
Our mandate is clear. We must divorce our idols whatever they may be. Of course we have some smaller idols, and they should be addressed as well. But the idol of nationalism has in these last several years risen to the top. And the Spirit of God is shining a light upon it and we can no longer feign ignorance. This is one divorce that God demands. God will never approve of spiritual bigamy, and when we are married to Christ and idols we are spiritually lawless. We are putting Christ to an open shame.
Forget about the Osteens and the Warrens and the Bells for a moment and allow the Spirit to search your own heart and life. Are you so certain about this issue, and have you fasted and prayed so deeply, that you will not even entertain the searching of God’s Spirit? If so, then this post is not for you. But if you are reading this and feel the slightest nudge to step into a more sacrificial path of personal scrutiny, I strongly encourage you to follow through. Yes, there will be times of discomfort and maybe ridicule, but I can assure you, Christ will more than fill that void and you will be granted by His grace a vision of God’s glory that surpasses understanding.
May God grant you the power and the perseverance to seek Him with your whole heart.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Never forget for even one moment.

This is life and life everlasting.

Nationalism Breeds Muslim Hatred

This morning Rev. Franklin Graham went on Morning Joe, a talk show, and did a disservice to the gospel.


In this new breed of Christianity, nationalism overwhelms redemption and sinners are categorized into subsets rather than seen as sinners for whom Christ died. I was saved while watching Billy Graham, however nationalism has overtaken his son. When you go on international television and express such hatred for Muslims, you obscure the true gospel. When you come as an American, you cannot come completely as a Christian.
And the panel on this television show were quick to sense a double standard even though they are probably lost. All this hand wringing over who is in charge in Egypt or what is in the president’s heart is counter productive to the cause of Christ. And even while openly questioning President Obama’s faith, Rev. Graham suggested support for Santorum, Romney, and Gingrich - two Roman Catholics and a member of a cult. What a picture of gospel compromise.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Nationalism, Patriotism, and Politics

Nationalism, Patriotism, and Politics
Idolatry or God’s Way?
I remain simply astounded at the response to my posts on nationalism, patriotism, and idolatry. I am convinced the Spirit is actively doing a work of grace in many, many hearts. Just so everyone knows where I am in my journey I want to share. But do not think that your perspective has to mirror mine, or that you will be bullied if you are in a different place. But it would be edifying for brothers and sisters to sharpen each other’s iron.
I was brought up in a middle class home that went to a Lutheran church. I was baptized as an infant and I went for three years to catechism after which I was confirmed as a member. But I was still lost. But I was raised in a common patriotic family who watched the 4th of July parade and voted Republican. We always displayed a flag on the fourth.
But in 1975 I was born again. My life was changed and I was delivered from drugs and immorality and violence. But one thing that did not change was my patriotic perspective. I never questioned it and since all the new believers I met were also patriotic Americans it just seemed like a non-issue. And even after I became a pastor I held patriotic services on the fourth of July weekend. I can remember pledging allegiance to the flag on that Sunday as well as singing a couple patriotic songs. We were good American Christians.
During those years I can remember listening to radio and television people who held “conservative” political perspectives. Some would castigate the “liberals” and mock and berate them. And since being a politically active conservative seemed to be the evangelical way, I never questioned the Biblical nature of such verbiage.
When Iraq invaded Kuwait I can remember the patriotic pitch rising dramatically, and even in evangelical churches there was a frothing of the mouth concerning the coming war. The emotions ran high, and if someone even questioned all it they were considered liberal or at least some 60’s hippie throwback. And I can remember listening to the radio and television updates about how the coalition (America) was winning the war. Even the phrase “shock and awe” was a rallying cry!
It was around that time that men like Rush Limbaugh began what we now call talk radio and now talk television. And since we were all patriotic Americans who revered the Constitution and the founding fathers, we didn’t notice the caustic and self righteous rhetoric. Mocking liberals and demeaning jokes about President Clinton were commonplace and accepted even among preachers. The snowball got bigger and bigger and the evangelical church became very smug and self assured.
But in the late 1990’s something began to eat at my insides. I could not put my foot on it but something just seemed wrong with all the saber rattling and incendiary language. I would speak with my best friend about it and he too was feeling uncomfortable. One day he asked me for Scriptural support for a violent overthrow of the American government if we disagreed with its tax policy. I thought he had lost it!
I told him there was absolutely no Scriptural grounds for violence over money, none. Then he asked me why then would God support the Revolutionary War? And where was Scriptural support for that war? I was stunned. I had never even considered the Scriptural validity of the Revolutionary War. In the crowd I ran with that would have been considered treasonous just to ask such a question. In some circles it still is. I did a study of the New Testament just to allow the Spirit to guide me without any preconceived attitudes. It soon became obvious, I had been sold a bill of goods.
Our allegiance is to Christ and Christ alone. To pledge allegiance to any earthly government is a form of spiritual treason. It does not mean you are not saved or that you do not love the Lord Jesus, but it does mean you are blind to that form of open idolatry. If we are to be honest, it is indefensible. But I was blind and I had to repent. And I would suffer criticism and even verbal persecution from some who were my friends. It was surprising how personally believers take even a discussion in this realm.
And then there was the battle of self righteousness and any air of superiority. Whenever the Spirit guides me into a truth that substantially changes the way I think and behave, the devil and my flesh immediately urge me to feel superior to others with whom I had agree not too long ago. Isn’t the flesh such a diabolical and clever enemy? I still need to guard against that kind of feeling.
And in November of 2000 I cast my last vote for George Bush. And during the last 12 years I have examined many things concerning politics and the New Testament. While we are called to obey the authorities, we are never called to join with them. Politics is an unholy alliance of the saved and the unsaved. And when we resort to the ballot box, we dilute the gospel. The world sees us involved in changing the outside of the cup and subsequently they are not confronted with the eternal aspect of the gospel message. They see us as a moral religion not a faith of redemption.
So now I ask for your thoughts. This thread is open for testimonies, perspectives, and a general discussion.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Humbly Enduring Persecution
It has become quite fashionable in these last days to complain about persecution and to fight political fire with political fire. When the government seems to come against our Biblical beliefs, the church suddenly rises up in indignation and gathers its forces to do political and legislative battle. No longer content to endure persecution with humility and patience, the church morphs into a democratic force and arises to the battle.
When our religious rights have been violated, we speak loudly with condemnation and appeal to the Constitution as if persecution is something new to God’s people. The fellowship of His sufferings is something very unpleasant and not on the usual prayer menu. And since we live in a democracy, the church now employs carnal weapons in order to alleviate any discomfort or restrictions. Paul and Silas pray their way out of jail, and then refuse to leave when the doors pop open. Today we call our representative or our Senator and voice our complaint/concern. It never occurs to us to go to jail for Christ.
And so in the west you have different religious forces that guard their rights with a ballot box in one hand and the Constitution in the other. And not content with just being a voting block, the church over the years has given birth to many additional political organizations. Morals and the family are usually the cornerstones of these politically religious movements. And without intent, these political organizations remove the gospel focus and do battle on the political, moral, and democratic battlefield.
But let us consider something. Throughout the New Testament the Scriptures deal with the reality of slaves. And instead of recommending a revolt, or at least a spoken protest, the Spirit directs slaves who know Christ to obey their masters with humility and integrity so that their masters might see Christ in them. What an astounding spiritual directive! It does not mean that slavery was right in God’s sight, but it does shine a light on just what kind of sacrifice our lives should be.
Eph.6:5-6 - Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
Col.3:22-23 - Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God;
23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
I Tim.6:1 - Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.
Ti.2:9-10 - Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again;
10 Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.
I Pet.2:18-19 - Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. (harsh and unreasonable)
19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
ook at these verses. Let the magnitude of their instruction sink deep into your spirit. These are not some situational ethics or some minor moral dilemmas. These verses exhort slaves to serve their masters with heartfelt virtuousness and authenticity. Can you imagine such a thing in these days of “I demand my rights!”? The average believer has trouble working for less pay than he or she deems to be appropriate, much less to work with honor as a slave so that Christ can be magnified.
Where have we gone wrong? And when did it become unbiblical to suffer in unfair and unjust circumstances so that Christ might be glorified and made manifest to a lost world? Take a step back and see a wider perspective. Living in a democracy has robbed us of the glory of persecution for Christ’s sake. The slightest governmental incursion into our so called democratic rights is cause for a call to political arms, without even considering the possibility that Christ may desire us to be persecuted and if necessary go to prison for our faith.
As soon as we engage in the political war with carnal weapons we have removed any vestiges of humility and it is no longer about Christ, but it is now about us. Slaves are commanded to be humble and obedient, but free believers can get embroiled in the fallen game of political leverage? And instead of obeying the clear teaching of God’s word we can instead appeal to a fallen document called the Constitution? Please, the Constitution is not our guide or even our concern. The Word of God is our mandate and to its dictates and directions we must bow, joyfully.
The recent suggestion that the current administration is engaging in an attack on religion is true. But what is left out of that statement is that all governments are at odds with Christianity and are used of the evil one to surreptitiously dilute the power of Christ. And sometimes the ones that seem the friendliest to our faith are the most dangerous. Woe to the church that yokes itself with a fallen government and its fallen kingdom. Surely we as believers must anticipate persecution and we must endure it with humility, faith, and joy. The machinations of men and their governments are not our concern or our calling. The gospel is our mandate, and we must not let the seeming good derail the glory and the power of the message of Christ.
I Pet.4:12-13 - Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
h what a privilege it is to suffer for His name’s sake. Do not let democracy swallow up that glorious privilege. Oh that our lives were so filled with Christ that persecution was more greatly warranted. And if we are commanded by law not to do something God has commanded us to do, let us treat it as a holy sacrifice unto our Great God and let us humbly, yet openly, defy the law. And if the law forbids us to do something God has told us to do, then like Daniel let us fling open the window and humbly on our knees let us obey God.
There may come a day when we are hauled away because of our steadfast faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. That, my friends, would be a royal honor. Let us humbly prepare our hearts to do whatever the Lord asks of us. And let us not be entangled with the affairs of this world, but let us present our bodies a living sacrifice before God. O Lord, do with us what would most glorify You.
The Blessing
The word “blessing” has been completely mangled in the believer's vernacular and in fact is now more humanistic than it is spiritual. The average western believer that receives some monetary benefit or earthly promotion or even a good deal on some material item often claims that “God has blessed me”. But in context, the word blessing predominately refers to a praise, and in the Book of Revelation the word always refers to blessing God.
Rev.5:12-13 - Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
Rev.7:12 - Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and
might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
s you can see, the word blessing refers to blessing God. But throughout the New Testament the word consistently refers to spiritual blessings.
Eph.1:3 - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
Gal.3:13-14 - Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
o you not see it? These blessings are spiritual in nature and are of far greater weight than anything this earth can give us. Even the blessing of Abraham is a promise of the Spirit, not any material additions as some theologies erroneously teach. How many western believers reach for the pottage and ignore the birthright? The western church has assimilated the carnal cravings of the culture and adopted them into their theology. And in so doing they have made their religion about themselves and not about Christ.
Where is the hunger and thirst for spiritual blessings? Do we now interpret our lives through the prism of earthly wealth? Nowhere in the New Testament did believers go around proclaiming “God has blessed me!” because they received a check in the mail. In fact, many times the early believers rejoiced in persecution, and their blessings were found in Christ and not in the carnal fruit of Cain’s hands. And here is the only verse in any of the gospels that uses the word blessing.
Lk.24:53 - And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
he undertow of the western culture has captured the church and now the church has not only surrendered to the culture, it wallows in it. Material goods and financial prosperity are now hallmarks of western Christianity. And the word blessing has been kidnapped and forced to bow to the culture. And yet let me share with you a New Testament metaphor as it pertains to the blessing of God.
I Cor.10:16 - The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
ook! The Spirit calls the wine in communion the “cup of blessing” and correlates it to the blood of Jesus Christ. What a blessing, and yet that connection to the word blessing is almost completely ignored because the usual blessing-fest in church is completely tethered to material and temporal things. Is that the depth of our spirituality? How can a refund check compare to a deeper revelation of the Person of Christ? Why have we so degraded the sacred things of the Spirit in favor of the temporal ups and downs of this present life?
Christ Himself refused the temporal “blessings” offered to Him by the devil in the wilderness so He could proceed to embrace the “blessing” of the cross! And yet we call some unexpected money a blessing? Even the unsaved get money, and in fact, the unsaved have much more money than do God’s people. So the unsaved are blessed of God? Donald Trump is divinely blessed while Corrie Ten Boom was cursed? Hugh Hefner is blessed but the poor Chinese believer is abandoned? Look how we have demolished the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Yes, it is time to reevaluate everything. We must cleanse our minds of the temporal and allow the Spirit to renew them in the captivity of the Eternal Christ. Away with all this fanfare concerning the thorns and thistles of this present world. Away with the obsession with more and more money and things. Away with this new religion that calls itself Christian but is nothing but humanism. None of us are perfect, and on our very best day in our entire Christian life we were still in desperate need of God’s grace. But that does not mean we change the mark and lower the standard.
A little boy looked up and saw the moon in the sky. He picked up a stone and threw it at the moon and the stone fell to the ground. He did the same thing again and again. And old man who was sitting on the porch called out to the boy and asked him what he was doing. The boy told him he was trying to hit the moon with a stone. The old man laughed and said,
You’ll never do it.” The boy looked over at the old man and said,
Maybe so, but I’m getting closer than you are!”
We will never achieve perfection this side of heaven, but God has called us to seek holiness and walk in His truth. The church has lowered the bar to accommodate her own worldly lusts. And thousands of churches have left the faith and now preach an amalgam of cultural desires and practices but they still claim to be following Jesus. They are not.
Our blessings are in Christ and in heavenly places. The things of this world may be used of God, but they are not our heart’s desires. Many times God uses sickness for His glory. Many times God uses a demotion for his glory. And human weakness is God’s specialty for glorifying Himself. Remove the carnal glasses of this temporal world and gaze deeply into the wonderful kingdom of God’s Spirit. It is there we will find our blessing. When God divided the Promised Land between the tribes of Israel, there was one tribe that received no land at all. It was the tribe of Levi. Why did God not give them any earthly inheritance?
Deut.10:8-9 - At that time the LORD separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to minister unto him, and to bless in his name, unto this day.
9 Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the LORD is his inheritance, according as the LORD thy God promised him.
h please my brothers and sisters, remove the sandals from your hearts for this is holy ground! The Levite’s inheritance was the Lord Himself. In God’s Dear Name, who can know such a thing? And this was not just for the sake of Levi, it was also for those of us who would come much later. Do you not see it? Can your heart not wallow in such glory? Look and see and look and live! Let others drink at the world’s trough and call it a blessing. We have the Lord Christ! And what parcel of land can compare with the surpassing glory of knowing and serving our Wonderful Redeemer?
Our inheritance is not caught up in that which is rusted by time or eaten by moths.
I Pet.1:3-5 - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
ou desire a blessing more than the inheritance which is now reserved for you? And yes, the inheritance includes a new body. Yes, the inheritance includes the final declaration of forgiveness. Yes the inheritance includes being in God’s eternal dwelling place. Yes, the inheritance includes all that and immeasurably more. But the glory of our inheritance is something far greater than all these, and far greater than our minds can envision.
I Jn.3:2 - Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
ur inheritance, after the similitude of Levi, is Christ Himself. And the Scriptures can only give us a glimpse in this glory since human words are pitiful conduits of explanation. But one day, one day of eternal blessing, we shall see the Risen Christ as He is. Oh how great is our Wonderful Lord! It would have been way beyond what we deserved if Christ had prepared a perfect place for us separate from where He is. That would have been an eternal blessing.
But Christ Himself said He was preparing a place for us where He would be. You desire a blessing? Go ahead and hold some green paper in your hand with some picture of a man, and if you think that is a great blessing then look up to the heavens. THE blessing of all blessings awaits all those who know and love Him. And when we receive that blessing in the heavenlies that is Christ, what will we do?
We will BLESS the Lord forever!