Monday, May 28, 2012

The Mystery and Necessity of Prayer

The Mystery and Necessity of Prayer

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

Heb.11:6 - But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

We are being systematically robbed. Let us be honest at least with ourselves and with God. How often do we seek His face? If we are not seeking something from Him, how often do we recline in His presence and diligently seek Him? And when I say “seek Him” I do not mean to recite a list of our petitions before Him. I actually mean spending a lavish amount of time in His very presence and seek His face with all its glory.

Do our hearts burn within us to be in His presence and to search Him out in Spirit and in truth? We are so tempted to spend time in so many other things that we have neglected the greater part. Martha is our mentor while Mary sits at His feet alone. In fact, the church as a whole has lost the practice as well as the desire to dwell in prayer and meditation. We have allowed the cares of this world to rob us of our Master’s glorious presence. And we have even allowed the correction of falsehoods to overshadow our own private devotion to Him.

God does not redeem us so that we can preserve and defend the truth. That is a byproduct. When we are redeemed, we are grafted into God’s family and we become a child of God. Now when a baby is born to its parents it quickly begins to communicate by facial expressions, laughing, and even crying. But when it reaches the age of three, that child should be speaking with its parents. If it isn’t then there is a problem. All parents are thrilled to hear their child form words and communicate, and eventually that child tells its parents he or she loves them.

Now all through the child’s life he communicates daily with his parents. he listens to them, he receives direction and help, and he grows in his love for them through that communication. So why is it that those who have been born again into God’s family take so little time to communicate with the Father? Why can so many live the Christian life with so little prayer? And why does the church emphasize everything but prayer? It is the scourge of western Christianity that we are too busy with the things of this world and too busy with the things of church that we have almost abandoned prayer.

But those who knew Jesus best asked, “Teach us to pray.” They had watched Him and His devotion to the Father and His elongated times in deep and penetrating prayer. They saw Him separate Himself and get alone with the Father, and they heard Him teach about the worthlessness of stilted and redundant prayers. In reality, there is no way to walk in Christ without a vibrant and soul searching prayer life. And because prayer is difficult and requires a sacrifice of time, energy, and selfishness, most professing believers know nothing of its power and glory.

A professing believer is considered “mature” when he can regurgitate the cardinal doctrines and when he is a faithful tither to a local assembly. He is then a candidate for leadership. But where is the commitment to the secret life of prayer that basks in His presence and intercedes for God’s people? A professing believer can be a “voting” member of a church and never pray. And the pastor can be a great organizer with corporate leadership skills, and he can be personable and eat lunch with others several times weekly, and he can be a great golfing buddy to selected members. But given the amount of time he spends with all kinds of activities and phone calls, where are the many, many hours he should be spending in prayer? And he is the example the flock follows.

Let us be honest, we all struggle with our prayer lives. But if we surrender to the culture and what has become the painful norm, then we will continue to slog through this life with very little fruit. You cannot grow fruit in a fallow and hardened ground. And Christ cannot be manifested through a prayerless life that wholly depends on the flesh. But the church has succumbed to the dictates of a western lifestyle and rather than rejecting the dictatorship of its allurements and necessities we have cleverly incorporated them into our lives and by inference we suggest they are the Christian norm. The only problem with that is that the New Testament teaches the exact opposite.

Without Me you can do nothing,” Jesus said. What can that possibly mean? Does it mean we take a painting of Him with us? A cross around our necks? A copy of church doctrine? Surely Jesus was referring to a devoted life that seeks Him diligently in the closet of prayer. Yes, this is a lost practice in the church. Prayer is not sensational and is not results oriented. Prayer is a great mystery but also a great gift. Prayer breaks us and also makes us. Prayer fills us with God’s Spirit and crucifies that which lives against God. Prayer transforms a surrendered life and begins a journey that allows Christ to reveal Himself through a human conduit.

Prayer is not some “Polly want a cracker” begging. It isn’t some spiritual science that when perfected allows you to get material things from God. In fact, most of us already have more than enough material things and struggle to resist being imprisoned by them. Prayer is a secret and invisible glory that allows a redeemed sinner to speak with the Monarch of the Universe. Prayer allows an entrance into God’s throne room and in a mystery we speak with a Friend as well as our Master. Prayer takes the authoritative scaffold of Scripture and infuses it with unspeakable revelation and the glory of an understanding beyond our human intellect.

And as the old prayer warrior I heard in college say, “Prayer is the only attachment we have been given to God’s omnipotence.” Anything thought or done without prayer is of the flesh and does not bring God glory. Years ago a Chinese pastor was given a visa to come to America. His trip was paid for by American evangelical pastors, and he spoke at many churches. And at the conference he was the primary speaker and he spoke on prayer. He was awestruck by the buildings and books and organization of the western churches. When he returned to China the believers were anxious to hear a report.

What did he see? What kind of believers are in America? Where did you speak? How were you treated? The pastor answered all of these questions and more. And then one believer asked, ”What impressed you the most about the American believers?” The Chinese pastor replied, “How much the Americans can accomplish without God.” What was he saying? This humble Chinese pastor was taken aback at how little prayer figured into the western church. You see, prayer is the absolute core of the Chinese church and it is the main reason why they have grown more rapidly than have the western churches, even though they have operated under a brutal dictatorship.

Prayer, my friends, has been lost to us. If a believer bows his head to pray over his food in public he is considered extremely bold. Prayer takes sacrifice and humility, and both of these qualities are eschewed in a hedonistic culture. Listen to believers complain about gas prices and interest rates and economic conditions. Their complaints mimic those of unbelievers. Western believers cannot endure sacrifice, and when it involves money and inconvenience, they are quick to murmur and attempt to vote away their problems.

Humility is considered a weakness in a culture that boasts about its political accomplishments. In fact, I have heard thousands of pastors boast, “I believe the Bible is the Word of God!” Sure, but do you reflect it? And Who provided you with the grace and the faith to believe it? And why do the mixed multitude sitting in pews clap when you say it? It is nothing more than religious theatrics designed for self elevation and to entertain the gathering. But it takes genuine and even rigorous humility to discipline your life in order to pray with passion and brokenness. No one will applaud you in the prayer closet; no one will buy Cds of you praying; no one will buy a 20 dollar ticket to a prayer concert; no one will assign you a “doctorate” because you pray.

Yes, prayer is unsensational to the flesh. Many times it is a lonely practice whose rewards may come in the life to come. There are few examples to follow, and prayer will quickly require a rejection of all that is you and an embracing of all that is Him. And the flesh does not go quietly. It will bring an entire arsenal against any believer who sincerely seeks the face of God through sacrificial prayer. I’m afraid the devil does not fear our organization, nor our growing membership rolls, nor our well oiled youth programs, nor our wonderful music ministries. He does not fear the oratorical prowess of our preachers, nor our visitation programs, nor our stands against the moral decay.

But what the devil does fear is when and if God’s people commit themselves to a life of serious and devoted prayer. The devil knows that has the potential to affect the course of nations. Look into a bathroom mirror. As you turn your head to attempt to see your profile, you will notice that your eyes must remain affixed upon the mirror. You see, you yourself cannot fully see your profile, to say nothing of the back of your head. And so it is in the Spirit.

You and I can only see a limited perspective of ourselves, but the Holy Spirit can see us from every vantage point. The question is are we desirous to hear what then Spirit wants to share with us about us? Or since we have an orthodox doctrine, do we feel as though only minor alterations are necessary and we can see what needs to be done without the Spirit? Are we champions for truth or are we willing sacrifices that are personally slain daily on the altar of truth? Is God’s truth just a sword for His enemies or is it a sword indeed for us as well?

Without a revival of prayer the church will continue to meander through life, buoyed by our orthodoxy and soothed by our condemnation of others. And when a nobody like me identifies the lukewarm core of the church, or when I delineate the false teachings of others, the question is not do we see it. The ultimate question is are we driven to our prayer closets so that we can intercede for the situation and so that we ourselves can repent and be changed. And if indeed you and I do see these things, well then we are held to a greater level of accountability.

Personally, I have much fallow ground left in my prayer closet, and I am grieved over my often lack of thirst for His presence through elongated seasons of prayer. I ask God to help deepen the stakes and lengthen the cords of my commitment to prayer. And without controversy it is true, my Lord and Savior, without You I can do nothing. May I decrease and You increase with each passing day. Please, I beseech You, may You have all the preeminence in my heart and life. Lord, that is not altogether true yet.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Challenge Continues

The Challenge Continues

If I assess the spiritual climate among true believers based upon my e-mails, I believe two things are occurring as it pertains to nationalism and politics. On one side there are many who have awakened to the idolatry of such things. On the other side many are digging in their heels. Idolatry in any form is a stronghold, but when something as deep as nationalism and politics is involved, and because these things were ingrained in us from the time we were able to understand speech, well that kind of idolatry is very difficult to see.

Even in a year where the carnality of such issues is so stark, millions will still refuse to pray and fast and seek the face of God. Why sacrificially seek out God when your mind is already made up? But all this hub-ub over politics would be just a fringe issue if it didn’t so deeply compromise the integrity of the Word and the spiritual lives of millions of professing believers. The church is jam packed with lethargic and lukewarm believers and nationalism is a large part of their compromise.

I have sat in a pew behind church members who I greeted every Sunday. The man had a questionable testimony at best, and Sunday morning was the complete expression of his faith. He never showed any emotion during worship or preaching. He just sat quietly through the service. But on patriotic Sundays he was much different. And when that church sang some patriotic song like “God Bless America”, that man cried. What else could so demonstrably reveal idolatry?

I used to believe television was a great hindrance to spirituality and purity before Christ and I still do. But now all the social network avenues are rapidly challenging television in that area. Television might incite the flesh toward promiscuity and adultery, but social networks provide an avenue to make those connections. But those are outward manifestations of spiritual compromise and sin, while nationalism is not only a disguise for such compromise, it is embraced by the church as God’s will. And when deception and sin is embraced by the church then any hope of spirituality is lost until the church repents.

It is an amazing display of evil ingenuity when the enemy of our souls was able to use earthly freedom to imprison us. It is a masterpiece of deception and delusion. While the church was focusing on the sins of others and the current moral melee, the evil one unleashed a cunningly devised assault that captured the hearts and minds of professing believers. And while denouncing homosexuality and abortion, the church began holding hands with the very earthly institution that had condoned and protected such things.

And a misunderstanding of the ramifications of human government made a clear path to this deception. Many believers suggest that since God ordained human government that He also ordained the church to be active in it. That would be like suggesting that since God created whales we should also be involved with Green Peace. We are commanded to honor and pray for our leaders, but our Leader has always been Christ and Christ alone. It isn’t just fascist and totalitarian governments that present a danger to the church, it is also democracy.

While fascist states may be dangerous physically to the church, democracy presents a danger to her integrity. And in the realm of the Spirit, spiritual integrity is the cornerstone of our faith. Thousands of martyrs have kept their integrity and faith even while being burned or hanging from the gallows. So when the church lays down her integrity and embraces and pledges allegiance to any fallen system, then all vestiges of spiritual power and integrity begin to rapidly erode.

The press loves to place a microphone into the face of a minister and preacher and have them lend their opinion about politics. And it is a sad state of affairs when our preachers are political pundits rather than gospel conduits. You see the world loves to hash and rehash over political and moral issues. How many talk radio and television programs are there? And the political wrangling about this year’s election began well over a year ago. Each new poll and each new commercial and each new set of economic figures provide a forum for more useless chatter.

But we must be about our Father’s business. The dead can elect the dead, but time is drawing to a close and the wheat is not yet in the barn. It is unnerving to many believers when you suggest that there must be such a remarkable line drawn between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. Since the church has slowly morphed into little more than an American political force with some predictable religious overtones, many believers are spiritually asleep and unable to see how our distinctions have been swallowed up by the tide of culturalism. In essence, we have been assimilated and imprisoned, and through decades of systematic reinforcement we have embraced our chains.

And the results of such a monstrous compromise have been devastating. The church operates as a powerless, debt ridden system of oratorical prowess, human organization skills, and a collection of Sunday morning pilgrims whose effort to arrive at the building dwarfs any efforts or sacrifice offered throughout the week. Does that assessment disturb you? Have you ever read the Book of Acts or much of church history? Have you ever read the Foxes Book of Martyrs or some of the great awakenings? We have become quite adept at constructing a comfortable religious club that lives nicely within a culture of hedonism, greed, and idolatry. And what is our claim to spiritual power and distinctiveness? Our doctrine.

Hmm…that seems oh so pitiful and yet oh so real. But there is one thing that binds most churches in America, whether they be conservative or liberal, Mormon or Baptist, gay or straight, charismatic or Calvinistic. These churches all pledge allegiance to the secular government of America, and with each man made national holiday they celebrate their compromise and idolatry. And where does this celebration take place? Surely in a park or downtown auditorium. Perhaps a rented hall or a special occasions facility?

No, they celebrate their allegiance to America in the church sanctuary and during a gathering that is supposed to worship the Triune God. And in the midst of such pageantry and idolatry, the congregation remains unaware of how unbiblical is their practice and how the Spirit is grieved. This scenario does not occur in isolated pockets throughout this nation. No, it is practiced in every corner of the Unites States. And curiously enough, the nation to which they pledge embraces a pluralistic religious position which was designed by the founding fathers.

If you are told often enough what you see and what you must believe you see, and if you are taught that over a long period of time, many times your own eyes become useless and dormant.

Here is a Memorial Day that will last forever: Memorial Day.

Friday, May 25, 2012

An Open Letter

An Open Letter to Believers
Who Wish to Vote This Year

Allow me a couple of paragraphs as a way to explain my own point of view. Most of you know I believe the political system to be a fallen and carnal exercise. I do not vote and I do not particularly care who is elected. In the Old Testament, the people clamored for Saul and God gave them their desire. That was the first sample of democracy, which is basically sinners desiring to govern themselves.

But if you remain unconvinced, and if you still believe voting is God’s will, then you cannot, you must not, vote for Mitt Romney. And you cannot vote for a pro-choice candidate like Barak Obama. But why not Mitt Romney? The Scriptures are very clear about alliances with unbelievers, and especially open Christ deniers. Mitt Romney is not just some benign unbeliever who refuses to believe on Christ. He is an active member of one of the most powerful and successful cults on the planet.

This cult denies the deity of Christ and preaches a works gospel. So in essence, they preach another Jesus and another gospel. And the Scriptures clearly tell us not to bid such people “Godspeed”, to say nothing of supporting them for leadership over us. It is most alarming that many evangelicals who believe Mormonism to be a cult have little problem voting one in as president. And why would they do such a thing?

Three reasons. First, some believers have placed allegiance to their country over allegiance to their Redeemer. Second, millions of people including believers have an open hatred for president Obama. But the third reason is in fact the lynchpin of modern politics - money. Believers will vote for a Christ denier because they believe he can fix the economy. Now whether he can or cannot is not the issue, but the horror of such Biblical compromise is not less heretical than that exhibited by Rick Warren or Joel Osteen, both of whom will probably vote for Mitt Romney.

The Lord tells us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. How much greater a yoke could there be by supporting an unbeliever to rule over us? This is very serious business. When Jerry Falwell Jr. welcomes a Mormon to speak to the graduating class of Liberty University, he was asked about Romney’s Mormonism. He replies that first we need to save a nation and then we can worry about doctrine. WHAT???

Do you know what doctrine is? Doctrine is the teachings of the Word of God, so in effect Falwell is denying God’s Word in favor of supporting a man who denies God’s Son! And let me remind you all of something that I have not heard anyone address. This man, Mitt Romney, gives millions in support of a cult that continues to deceive millions and leads people into a Christless eternity. He is no bystander, he is an active participant against the Son of God and His gospel. Would God support a man who actively denies His Son and teaches others to do so?

II Pet.2:1 - But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

Joseph Smith was a false prophet who brought in damnable heresies and drew men away from the Lord Jesus. Would you vote for him if he had a good economic plan? If not, then how can you cast your vote for one of his disciples? The compromise is treacherous. Step back and take a look at what the political system demands of you. You must either vote for one unbeliever who embraces unbiblical morals, or you must vote for another unbeliever who denies Christ and whose morals continue to evolve. Would God endorse such a system or such men? And if you insist on voting, you must then write in a candidate who is pro-life regardless of his economics. Economics is an extremely poor excuse for compromising your allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ!

Matt.10:32-34 - Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

By casting your vote in support of a man who denies Christ and gives millions to spread a false gospel is tantamount to denying Christ yourself. And if you enter a voting booth and give your support to a man who follows another Jesus, then if you have any integrity at all you must stand up on Sunday morning and confess before all that you no longer believe the Bible. God doesn’t give His commands with political caveats. He does not make allowances for active cult members to be supported by His own followers!

Do not be deceived, the evil one is stealing much spiritual integrity from millions of professing believers. And let me add another deception that is inherent within the system. When those who do not know the Word of God see millions of evangelical believers lend their support for a Mormon, they assume that the different versions of Jesus are not important and that Mormonism along with all the rest of the Christian aberrations are equally as good as the other. In other words, your support of a Mormon will aid in the deception which ultimately will lead unsuspecting sinners to a lost eternity. You may not have intended that, and you may not have realized that, but now you do.

So if you wish to remain loyal to the Lord Jesus, you only have two options. You can abstain from voting and spend the next four years in prayer and studying the Scriptures concerning the subject, or you can write in another more suitable name. But I assume most of you will not be tempted to vote for President Obama, But if you enter the voting booth this November, and if you are tempted to vote for Romney, stop and ask the Father if a man who openly denies His Son and teaches another Jesus is His will for your vote.

And since you have read this post from this obscure blog and authored by a bone fide nobody like me, I am asking the Spirit to use it to illuminate all things spiritual in your heart concerning this fallen political year in this fallen political system. You think the country’s going downhill because of liberal morals? Well, make sure you include another sign of spiritual decay in this country and the western church.

Believers are supporting a man who actively supports a religion who has stripped the Lord Jesus of His Godhead status, and who besmirchs the grace of God through Christ by a religious system of works. Go ahead and lend your support of that but do not attempt to support Christ as well. You cannot serve two masters.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Two Demographics

Two Demographics

If you follow this political season, even as a spectator with no real interest other than its entertainment value, you will hear about demographics. How is this particular candidate doing among the blacks or the Latinos or among white women. And when the candidate sees that he is trailing among a certain demographic, he attempts to massage his message in order to appeal to that particular group and take the rough edges over any issue they would find objectionable. You might call it the Osteen way!

But to us who believe God’s Word and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, there are only two demographics - lost and saved. Before 1975 I had never heard the terms “lost or saved” in a religious context. I had never heard the term “born again” either. Of course those terms are becoming more and more out of vogue and antiquated within the hip evangelical community. The material universe is now more important than the afterlife, and many dinosaurs like me are criticized for emphasizing the eternal.

And when we point out the hollowness of politics or the idolatry of nationalism, we are accused of practicing a form of piety. I must plead to a level of guilt if piety means an elevation of the cross and resurrection and the redemption of Christ over all else. But I am sort of a paradox. I believe in abstaining from alcohol and tobacco, and yet I do not make those moral laws. I believe that homosexual behavior is a sin, and yet I believe gays can be redeemed with less than a perfect moral exhibition. I believe that the Scriptures are God’s infallible Word, and yet I do not embrace the vicious battles over inerrancy. I believe Christ created everything, but I cannot be imprisoned by the 24 hour creation day.

So in essence, I believe Christ and His gospel are over all other issues and that the exclusive gospel message must have its rightful place and passion. Christ will not share His glory with any moral issue, and denomination, any nation, or any famous preacher. And in that vein there are only two kingdoms - the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. I believe there are only two places in eternity for every soul, and where that souls spends eternity is solely based upon his relationship or lack thereof with Christ.

Please do not take your eyes off of Christ in this political season. The pottage of fallen politics will seek to rob you of the glory of your spiritual birthright. It is full of sound and fury but signifying nothing. It only mentions Christ to gain votes. Its lips sometimes draw near but its heart is far from Christ. It seeks to classify people according to voting blocks, and it tailors its message according to its audience. It gobbles up and spends obscene amounts of money in an unvarnished attempt to bend people’s minds and leverage their allegiance.

II Cor.5:14-20 - For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ…

The world knows each other in the flesh and according to its designs. But we know each other in the Spirit, and we look upon the whited fields with spiritual eyes of redemption. We have been made new and we are supposed to be continually becoming new. There is no time to walk in the counsel of the ungodly, or stand in the company of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the scornful. The entire world lies in the wicked one and we have been called to the ministry of reconciliation. The nations will one day be burned away, but only that which is in Christ will live in eternity under His glory.

Only Christ can reconcile a lost soul unto God, and only through faith in His redemptive work can a soul be saved. We are not liberals or conservatives, and we are not Republicans or Democrats, and we are not black, white or Latino. We are ambassadors for Christ and for Him alone we live. Have we so quickly forgotten His pain and suffering? Have we lost sight of the blood and gore He endured? Are we now too sophisticated to preach the cross? Do we now operate by our own intellect and not by His Word?

Resist being swept in by the undertow of the carnal carnival. Surrender your whole heart and do daily sentry duty to resist the clever attacks of the enemy and the machinations of our own wandering minds.

Ti.2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

In the end, and for all eternity, there will be only two demographics. A redeemed people with Christ, and a lost people in hell. Those are the facts. I do not delight in the plight of the lost, and I will not have deserved or earned my place with Him.

Halleluiah to the Lamb of Glory!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Just so no one can accuse me of not having a sense of humor, here's a little something from someone's deranged mind!

The Truth About Christian Television

The Truth About Christian Television
Before I give an honest critique about Christian television, allow me to sum it up with a broad generalization which I believe to be accurate. Christian television these days is little more than a money raising vehicle, much of which gets pocketed by the star of each program. In 1975 God used Billy Graham to lead me to Christ via television. Now I do not agree with everything Billy Graham does or believes, however back in those days his association bought expensive time on secular stations and preached the gospel. Today, Christian television does not preach the gospel.

I do believe that God desires the church to use any and all technologies in order to reach the lost. But that is not what Christian television is doing in these last days. Preachers and ministers are gaining great wealth and popularity through television and believers and unbelievers alike are funding these spectacles. And even if you can identify certain programs that preach Biblical truth, these programs support the networks that continue to expose people to all kinds of heresy and error. And that makes those “orthodox” programs culpable since they lend their support to these ungodly networks.

Television is very alluring and through slick imagery it bends the minds of those that watch and like the Greek sirens of old it draws people toward spiritual shipwreck. And when you see men like Franklin Graham endorsing people like Paul and Jan Crouch of TBN, then you realize just how sacred these money making cows are. People will endure all kinds of blatant compromise just so they can gain access to the air waves and into people’s hearts and minds and ultimately into people’s wallets.

If you dared to watch an entire day of Christian television you would see an incredible array of dog and pony shows. Anointed oil, blessed spring water, spiritual rocks, and magic handkerchiefs are but a few of the religious talismans offered to the gullible. Screaming and yelling and telling people their names and physical conditions are popular on these networks. And most of the men and women advertise their upcoming meetings which are also great money making schemes.

Many people have their favorite preachers and watch them religiously. And when that preacher comes to town and rents out an auditorium, it is filled. Books and Cds and other trinkets will be on sale, and an offering will be taken. Let us unveil the dirty little secret. These meeting are very lucrative or else they would not be holding them. Money is the petrol that runs the engine. Most of these preachers stay in hotels with lavish accommodations and they do not eat at McDonalds. The entire spectacle is a waste of God’s money and an affront to all that Christ lived and taught. And it isn’t confined to the false teachers. Even “orthodox” teachers and preachers hold such meetings and rake in the big bucks.

But as lucrative as these meetings are they pale in comparison to the money making vehicle of television. And as if the normal offerings were not enough, the Christian networks hold at least one telethon every year. And the managers bring in a gifted money raising false prophet who promises all kinds of divine favor to those who give. In fact, if you listen to the man or women who steers the telethon, it goes way beyond the absurd. If it wasn’t so tragic it would be comical.

But I have heard people say that there are a few good and edifying programs. I ask them if they would reach into a spittoon and search for a penny. I ask them if they would shop in an adult bookstore if it had a Christian book section? I ask them if unholy alliances are God’s will. I ask them if they would partner with Mormon’s to reach people in Africa. You see, the compromise that emanates from these networks is diabolical. It isn’t just a minor disagreement over non-essentials. It is a spreading of damnable lies and soul deceiving heresies. And the program that you identify as edifying supports these heresies. So when you see the ungodly lifestyles of Jan and Paul Crouch, and you gasp with horror, remember that all the programs on TBN contribute to those lifestyles.

So with all the Bibles and books and Cds available to us, we still need to watch cleverly crafted television programs? And when you watch one hour of such a program, do you also pray for one hour? Beloved, I have stated what should be obvious. Christian television isn’t just worthless, it is undermining the gospel itself. If you desire to please God than you should avoid watching and supporting the modern day expression of Christian television.

The pictures of ministers holding black African children or Haitian refugees are shameless. If you could see the homes these preachers live in, or the cars they drive, or even the jets they own, you would get a glimpse into just how much they care about starving children. Christian television has no conscience and will do almost anything to raise a buck. And in reality, that is what it’s all about. Thousands of preachers have gotten rich through this medium, and that includes men and women who do not even believe in the “prosperity message”.

So there it is. Christian television is no longer evangelistic. It has become a sham, a pyramid scheme, and a religious Ponzi scheme as well. If we were shown today’s brand of Christian television 30 years ago we would have been horrified. But since deception usually comes little by little, we have become numb to it and desensitized to the absurdity. In fact, if I were to say that God told me that the first ten people who send me $1000.00 would receive a special miracle in their family and in their finances, I would probably receive several checks.

That clearly outlines the state of western Christianity. The Lord demands a forsaking of everything, but the church continues to accumulate wealth and ask God for more. God has become the servant and we have become the master. God help us all.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Glory of the Cross

The Glory of the Cross

Gal.6:14 -  But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
And so amidst all the fists and fury and the fire and dust, it always comes down to this: What was the cross and who was that dying on it? All the issues of today fly violently around us, and the media reports them in order of the importance the world places upon them. Sensationalism and drama are the order of the day, and information packaged in arresting verbal and visual colors captures our hearts and minds. Fear, uneasiness, discomfort, as well as an abundance of alluring stories about all kinds of human generosities and valiant efforts pepper the air waves and create swelling emotions within us.

We are pawns to the world’s whims and willing prisoners to their agendas. Our eye gates manipulate us and our ear gates deceive us. From the four corners of the earth we are torn away from our first love and tortured with the spectacle of the temporal. Even inside the church we are bombarded with a variety of earthly wonders and cares, and we are challenged with the delicacies of this passing world. Like jingling keys in front of an infant’s face, we are constantly urged to look and long for that which is perishing. It is diabolical and yet quite successful.

In today’s expression of the faith commonly called “Christianity”, the cross has become an obscure doctrine which appears more frequently as human jewelry rather than a bold and unambiguous proclamation emanating from church pulpits, to say nothing of a living demonstration through the prism of a believer’s life. And whether it is palatable to the modern doctrinal palate or not, it is precisely this cross which determines the eternal destination for every human born of a woman. The cross is still God’s exclusive path for eternal life.

Millions who lightly profess the name of Jesus have no use or time for His cross. They are mesmerized by the things of this world. Whether it be material things, or political issues, or sports, or Hollywood, or any number of temporal things, these church members live without any authentic or demonstrable love for His cross. It is both beguiling as well as tragic.

The cross is not just some religious talisman which has special powers to help sinners succeed in this life. It will not aid in lottery tickets or sporting events or political elections or even earthly success. In fact, many times it can interfere with our personal plans and dreams. His cross is not of this world. It has never been of this world. And Jesus Himself was not of this world. The entire narrative that played out on Golgotha was a sacred spectacle of colossal proportions and eternal ramifications. Human words can never fully reveal it power and majesty.

But what was the cross and who was that dying upon it? It seemed like just another Jew being punished by Roman hands, and to billions today it still seems like that. Even among the pews inside evangelical churches the cross barely receives a nod except among the words of their statement of faith. The cross is treated like Christianity 101 which all of us have taken and now have moved on to bigger and more sophisticated spiritual depths. But that view is both ignorant of the glory of that cross as well as disrespecting its scope and continuing power. It remains necessary for all believers from15 year old who is a one month spiritual babe, to the eighty year old missionary who has faithfully walked with Christ for sixty years.

It is most difficult to imagine God with the mind. Just attempting to image the length and breadth of His creation is more than we can achieve, so to completely imagine the Creator Himself is beyond us. But we have been given a portrait wherein we can gain insight with our finite understanding. God has not remained hidden, and in fact, He came in the form of sinful flesh. He came as a man and walked among us and saw to it that even we who were not there received an expansive narrative of the Incarnate life of God. Again, it is beyond us to understand why the Creator went to such lengths for the likes of us, but He did. And knowing that we could never emulate Christ in our own power, and knowing that we were headed for a disastrous eternity, God came in the flesh to die. Even that very thought seems so incongruous and muddles any human logic.

As unsophisticated As it seems to today’s modern intellect, the question that will determine the eternal divide is “What was the cross and who was that dying upon it?” The wisdom of man is foolishness with God. It is inconceivable, and frankly insulting, to the natural man to suggest that a dead Jew impaled upon two Roman planks is the key to eternal life. The world is obsessed with technology, war, power, and making money and it has no time to investigate an issue about which it deems as archaic foolishness. It is a miracle of immense proportions that the Holy Spirit in these last days still can find a heart that is open to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Who is Jesus? He is both the Creator of all there is as well as the only Redeemer of mankind. Oh yes, it seems like such Greek mythology, but in reality it is the explosive and dreadful truth that will judge every human being. Imagine all creation standing before the Risen Christ as he judges His own creation with righteousness and authority. Yes, imagine the future reality. And even though many have created another Jesus and have minimized and compromised the authoritative revelation of the real Jesus, His revenge will be when He is revealed from heaven with great glory and the consuming power that emanates from His very mouth. View it as a cartoon if you must, but one day you will beg for another chance and you will experience a trembling within your being as you realize that you have lost everything and that the worst that can be imagined is now your eternal destiny.

I realize some will categorize my words as hyperbole and sensationalism, as melodramatic and metaphorical, and as chock full of histrionic literary license. But even if a small portion is true, then without Christ you are undone. God ahead and listen to the temporal sirens that draw you into earthly battles. Go ahead and incline your ears to the Rob Bell’s of this world and draw internal comfort from falsehoods. Go ahead and follow the vacuous pragmatism of Rick Warren that erases the mystery and replaces the sacred divine with the common earthly.

So what was the cross? It is everything. It is the answer everyone is searching for in all the wrong places. It is the eternal fountain of life. It is the life saving, life giving sacrifice for all who believe. Its power operates in a dimension above and beyond this time and space reality. It seems like so much religious folklore but it has transformed millions of lives for over two thousand years. It has been attacked and maligned and redefined and ignored, but still it stands undaunted. The cross is a glorious mystery that paid for our sins and purchased for us an entrance into eternal life.

There is no other way. Since Cain’s human effort, man has continued to pave his own way to eternity. But all have been miserable failures and religious shams. The cross alone is the culmination of the millions of gallons of animal blood spilled under the Mosaic law. However all that blood shed at the hands of the Aaronic priesthood could never atone for sins, it could only postpone the punishment. But this cross provided the eternal punishment that would be meted out upon the innocent Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus. And when He uttered the word, “tetelestai”, it was finished. Nothing could be added, and nothing could detract.

In this new and more modern expression of Christianity, the cross has all but been abandoned. Preachers deal with all sorts of relevant topics, however the cross seems strangely absent. The Rob Bell’s and the Rick Warren’s and the Joel Osteen’s mention it in passing but refuse to raise it up as the exclusive pinnacle of God’s redemptive plan. In its place are human efforts, human dreams, human intellect, and all things human and earthly. And when the cross is diminished and diluted and for all intensive purposes ignored, it ceases to be Christianity at all.

And again I reiterate, when time ceases to be, and when creation has run its course, and when the last person is born to a woman, then everything under the sun will be of no importance and of no significance whatsoever. The acts of Julius Caesar, the conquests of Alexander the Great, the Egyptian civilization, the discovery of Christopher Columbus, the leadership of George Washington, the courage of Abraham Lincoln, and the victory of World war II, all of these and all the acts of all men will fall to the dust when the Godhead reveals themselves and judges every single sinner born upon this earth.

Then the question will be put to each of us. What was the cross and who was that dying on it?

Beloved, the cross is not made of feathers, or lined with velvet, it is heavy and galling to disobedient shoulders; but it is not an iron cross, though your fears have painted it with iron colours, it is a wooden cross, and a man can carry it, for the Man of sorrows tried the load. Take up your cross, and by the power of the Spirit of God you will soon be so in love with it, that like Moses, you would not exchange the reproach of Christ for all the treasures of Egypt. Remember that Jesus carried it, and it will smell sweetly; remember that it will soon be followed by the crown, and the thought of the coming weight of glory will greatly lighten the present heaviness of trouble.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Westen Church - Embracing Sin

The Western Church - Embracing Sin

Matt.6:19-21 - Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

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

I Tim.6:5-8 - Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

I Tim.6:9-10 - But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Now before you begin to salivate while anticipating an exposé on homosexuality or abortion or some other moral issue du jour, allow me to present to you a sin in which almost all of us participate. It is a very serious and grievous sin, and one to which the Lord Jesus referred many times. In fact, it is addressed often throughout the New Testament and it is identified clearly as deplorable. This sin is one that does not make the table of contents on the discernment sites. It is a sin that I must confess to as well. I have openly and defiantly committed this sin in opposition to the overt commands and directives of the New Testament. And the western church as a whole has been so swallowed up by the culture that it no longer even considers this a sin.

This sin has many different forms, but it revolves around one thing. Money. This is the dirty little secret that flourishes quite nicely within the current framework and teaching of the western evangelical church. The average evangelical church assigns this sin to the prosperity movements, but that is just a ruse in order to camouflage our own sin. It is a spurious attempt to accuse and excuse sin through a prism of degrees. If you tell ten lies and I only tell one, then you are a sinner and I am not. Or at least my sin can be forgiven while yours cannot.

As a backdrop I would like you to answer a question. What issues do you hear about from the pulpit most often? Is it homosexuality, or abortion, or socialism, or American exceptionalism? Biblical inerrancy? I would guess that these are prevalent topics within evangelicalism. But for ever verse about homosexual behavior there are twenty verses about greed, avarice, worry, stockpiling money, and the allurement of material things. In fact, if you exclude the topics of the Lord Jesus and His gospel of redemption, the topic of money and all its various tributaries is a New Testament theme. And that was written to a relatively poor culture compared with today’s standards.

The phrase “You can’t see the forest for the trees” is very applicable in our present situation. We are so consumed with the sins of others that we are blind to the grievous sins within the church itself. Sure divorce and adultery are rampant, but the church at least gives a half-hearted rebuke of those sins. But with materialism and the blatant accumulation of personal wealth, well, the western church teaches that to be a divine blessing and in fact a divine motivation. In fact, most western evangelical churches embrace and practice capitalism in the very same manner as does our culture. Most even teach it is the divine will.

The church recites the few verses about same sex behavior and rails consistently about that sin. It has become almost an obsession. But when confronted with this verse:

- “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:” -

the church finds a comfortable place for it in its theology. When it comes to teachings about money, the church exhibits an amazing ability to navigate around the literal and into the realm of situational ethics and relativism. And all this while loudly and proudly proclaiming to be “Biblical literalists”. The same mouth that trumpets the twenty-four hour creation day manipulates Matt.6:21. The same statement of faith that proclaims the Bible to be inerrant shaves the rough edges off of such inconvenient verses. The western church teaches that as long as your “heart is right” you can seek and accumulate all kinds of wealth, and in fact, God will bless you in that endeavor. And if you tithe then the sky’s the limit!

Take for instance this teaching:

Matt.6:28 - And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

How many believers spend more money on clothing than is necessary based upon fashion and a greater enhancement of their appearance to others? How many believers spend inordinate amounts of money at restaurants when they could just as easily eat at home? How many believers drive more expensive cars than is necessary including thousands of dollars of borrowed money? And how many believers are content with food and clothing? Is it not obvious that through a conscious manipulation of the Scriptures the sin of greed and narcissism runs rampant and is actually embraced by the western church?

Of course that is if we take the words of Jesus and the New Testament as a direct communication from God Almighty. Who are we fooling? And before we go any further my point is this: The church has become moral hypocrites who use the sin of others as cannon fodder while not only ignoring their own sin, but fully embracing it as the divine way. The church teaches that material gain is God’s blessing and capitalism is God’s vehicle. And we fully practice that teaching.

But when a misguided soul suggests that same sex attractions are God’s way since he was born with them, we do a self righteous rain dance and condemn him to hell. But the principle is the same. Both are not only suggesting that a sinful practice is not sinful, but that it is God’s design. And yet many people will read these words and still not see the connection. The blindness is that deep and entrenched. When it comes to money, the deception has become widespread, deep rooted, and completely embraced by the church through a systemic commitment to the culture instead of a sacrificial surrender to the open teachings of Scripture.

It does not mean we are not saved, but it should suggest to us that we must address our own sins before we use the sins of others as camouflage for our own. Slowly but surely the church has learned the way of the heathen and we have long since abandoned any authentic conviction about the use of money and material things. Moderation now means whatever the bank will allow you to borrow in pursuit of material things. Even preachers have become wealthy. From John MacArthur to Charles Stanley, from Rick Warren to David Jeremiah, and most local preachers, their salaries and accumulated wealth mirrors that of the fallen world. In fact, most churches design their salary packages according to the cultural norm and the size of the church as well as the number degrees the pastor displays. That is the world’s system in open practice. And I did not even mention the lucrative business of Christian singers and music.

(I must admit I enjoyed a bit of carnal enjoyment when thousands of churches who rail against the gay community used Ray Boltz’s music, and suggested they were mightily anointed, and even wept during some of his songs, only to discover he was gay.)

Peruse the discernment blogs and identify the issues. There are the regular heresies, the Rob Bells and Rick Warrens, there are the Joel Osteen categories, and many even include a Barak Obama and socialism section. Then there are the health and wealth sections, the contemplative prayer warnings, the neoCalvinist sections, and the many compromising associations a la John Piper and Rick Warren. And there is a continuing information stream about everything gay. Yes, the discernment blogs have the apostasy market covered. But how many address the money issue outside the well worn mantra of the prosperity folks? And even though the prosperity preachers are heretics, they have become straw men that provide cover because their teachings and practices are so inflated and blatant.

But you that condemns others for stealing, dost thou steal? And you that castigate others for unbiblical practices, dost thou practice unbiblical things as well? And you who confront others for Biblical manipulation, dost thou also manipulate the Scriptures? I often wonder what would happen if the western evangelical church at large made a covenant among themselves and allocated one year to concentrate exclusively on their own sins and a transparent and fresh look at the Scriptures endeavoring to be stripped of any preconceived ideas. How God might use that year in our lives!

But life goes on with a redundant regularity and void of any demonstration of the Spirit. The church will open its doors today to tens of millions of members and after another typical service those same members will return to their unremarkable lives and prepare for the same rat race on Monday that was there last Monday. This year’s election will provide some elevated passion and emotions, but nothing eternal will occur. And if the economy gets better, they will re-elect the president. If it gets worse, perhaps we will have our first Mormon president. Did you catch what will be the deciding factor? Yep, money.

So the church continues to wallow in the pig pen of the cultural norm. And she continues to justify her own wallowing by standing against the wallowing of others. It is quite an astonishing feat to justify our own spiritual condition by comparing ourselves with others. It is more astonishing when you consider that the New Testament teaches against such comparisons. But when money is involved, there seems to be no real parameters for compromises. Anything and everything is spiritually legal. But one day all of us will have to stand before God and give an account for our lives. And when the church is taken out of this world and billions of dollars remain unused in Christian bank accounts, and when fallen financial institutions have been fed by billions of interest dollars from individual believers and churches collectively, and when our debt laden church buildings become the property of the fallen world, what will we say to God then?

I know. Let’s tell Him about the gays.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Believing Must Also Mean Following

Believing Must Also Mean Following

The man loved Jesus with all his heart. Since that day thirty years ago when he believed that Jesus was the Son of God and that faith in Him was the only path to eternal life, Stephen’s life had never been the same. He married a believing woman and they started a family. Throughout their marriage they were active in a Baptist church and more often than not they prayed together. They both had a heart for missions, and many times they had visiting missionaries over for dinner.

They had two boys and one girl, and they all went to Christian schools. The family portrait for the church directory looked almost like a Norman Rockwell painting. Stephen was so proud and so thankful to God. His firstborn, a daughter, graduated from High School and attended a Christian college. She aspired to be a missionary, but eventually met a Christian young man and they began a life together.

His oldest son also attended a Christian college and felt called to be a teacher in a Christian High School. After he graduated from college he was hired in a large Christian High School and met a wonderful young lady who taught English. They were married in that church and one year later saw their first born enter the world. Stephen was bursting with gratitude.

Their youngest son was always somewhat different although never openly rebellious. But when he entered his senior year in High School it became increasingly evident that there was more than just a different personality. This boy never showed any interest in girls and he kept to himself. He seemed pleasant and was a good student. Stephen was not overly concerned.

But somewhere in the middle of his senior year, Stephen took his son on a fishing trip. It would be just the two of them. They drove the rented boat to the middle of the lake, put their lines in the water, and waited for a big bass to come calling. But as they waited, they began to talk. At first it was about sports, then it was about what his son would do after High School, and some other things. But then his son asked his father a question.

“Dad, can I ask you something?”

Sure,” replies Stephen. “Anything.”

Do you ever feel like you’re…different?”

“Just ask your mother!”

No, I’m serious. I feel as though I am completely different than other guys my age.”

And here is where I come out of the narrative and enter into my personal perspective. The young man was confiding to his father about his difficult feelings. He did not feel the same way about girls as did his male friends, and he struggled with feelings about other guys. Being raised in the church he knew what the Scriptures said about those feelings, and that just added to his struggle.

Now any father knows how he feels about his children. Whether adopted or from his own loins, a true father experiences affections for his children that go beyond what he is capable of actually expressing. Our hearts speak to us in ways that are more easily revealed by mothers, however our feelings of love and affection are unmistakable. So what does a father, a Christian father, feel when his son or daughter reveals that they have same sex attractions? He knows that they will struggle almost their entire life, and he also knows that there are no neat and succinct incantations that can chase away such feelings.

Most Christian fathers have heard very unkind words spoken by believers about gay people. And when someone they love reveals that struggle, the vicious things people have said swirl around in that father’s head. There are many thousands of Christian families who are experiencing the heartbreak and confusion associated with a loved one who has same sex attractions. I cannot imagine what a father feels whose son has confided in him about his “different” feelings and that same father has to endure the insensitivity and the harsh rhetoric emanating from the ecclesiastical and conservative strongholds.

Even some famous people have called for gay people to be killed, and I have read a face book entry by one of my former high school classmates calling for the same. Many times indifference is all a gay person can hope for. The church has paraded her doctrinal credentials concerning homosexuality but has refused to parade her credentials concerning love, humility, and grace. Those attributes seem to be confined to allowing a car to cut in front of you during rush hour. How very sad.

People all over the world experience deep and penetrating pain and fear. And since faith in Jesus Christ is the exclusive way to eternal life, the church has been called to be both a gospel life and a gospel mouthpiece. But that kind of witness takes a self denying sacrifice, and the easier course is to join a moral fight that “boldly” embraces a portion of Biblical truth while assigning other portions to a much smaller dimension. To use homosexuality as a proof of your “orthodoxy” is theological cowardice as well as a clever disguise concerning your vast failures to not only live up to the life of Christ, but your refusal to even see it.

The “do unto others” verse is nothing more than a worn out cliché which has been so eroded that it means nothing in today’s fast paced and self absorbed community of faith. We are too busy championing moral and economic issues to be bothered about how we treat people, to say nothing about how we see them. The faith that is supposed to share and emulate the Lord Jesus has all but disappeared in the west. We now have constructed an ecclesiastical structure which pays our “servant” leaders handsomely, produces all kinds of professional materials to guide us in Biblical “learning”, and in general exists for the encouragement and glorification of man.

And when an issue like the gay issue presents itself, the church continues to make full use of such a thing by being reactionary. And when a preacher says that homosexual behavior is a sin, and when the listening congregation nod and loudly say “Amen!”, well they all can retire to their homes, overeat and watch football, but with the satisfaction that they have not succumbed to the world’s liberal agenda. However that is not the complete story.

It is not enough for us to avoid certain sins and identify them as sin. We are also called to a more proactive life that must begin with denying ourselves. Before we can bask in the warmth of a doctrinal tanning bed, we must go without the camp bearing His reproach. Jesus did not come to castigate sinners or to parade His own perfect view of everything. He came to save that which was lost, and in that redemptive endeavor Jesus often was seen in the company of sinners who today would be sermon fodder for the Biblical Bourgeoisie. Why didn’t the Son of God just come to earth as a full grown man and die on the cross one week later? Why the 33 years? It is obvious that we are supposed to study, meditate, and emulate the life of our Master as revealed in the gospels. What other reason can their be?

But in today’s literate and enlightened church community, it is light years easier to embrace doctrinal truth than it is to emulate the Lord Jesus, which by the way is also doctrinal truth. Just a cursory reading of the Sermon on the Mount is an arresting indictment of how we have strayed from the essence of what it means to be a disciple. Church discipleship classes are taught exclusively in classrooms when they should be taught on the street as well. And when a believer can regurgitate our well worn doctrinal mantras he is proclaimed to be a disciple, when in fact he may be far from it.

A computer can be programmed to recite doctrinal truth, but only a true disciple can live a life that is demonstrably a revelation of the incarnate gospel narratives. I have primarily used the gay issue to provide a mirror, but this issue permeates the entire landscape of human culture. If we are followers of Jesus Christ, and if this culture is fallen in all its ways, then should not our lives be remarkable exceptions with such glaring diversions from the cultural practices that men everywhere cannot help but notice? But instead we have become an amalgam of moral tenants, capitalism, nationalism, and with a muffled set of redemptive truths that live on paper rather than beat inside our hearts.

When I became a believing follower of Christ in 1975, the term “born again” was still in vogue. When a lost person believed on the Lord Jesus Christ their entire lives were changed and continued to change. Today it takes all kinds of manipulation just to keep people coming to the Sunday morning gathering. Thirst for the Word? A dynamic and growing prayer life? A consuming desire to see souls saved? Weeping over people’s sins? Who are we kidding, that doesn’t even describe preachers anymore.

But we can take solace in this: We believe in Biblical inerrancy. Can there be any deeper and self serving hypocrisy that that?

Lk.6: 45 - A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
46  And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

God's Love

God's Love is Greater

And in the end the love you take is greater than the love you make.

Thank you, Jesus.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Parable

A Parable

God once thought, “How can I expose the fallen nature of mankind and the utter folly of human works so it would be undeniable?’

Within a nano-second He came up with the perfect plan. Allow man to hold an American presidential election.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012



Liberty chancellor, Jerry Falwell Jr., was asked on CNN if Liberty University considered Mormonism a cult. Here is his reply:

“Liberty has no official position on Mormonism. Our statement does not define Mormonism as a cult.”

If that is true, then Liberty University is a cult.

Living in the Kingdom of God

Living in the Kingdom of God

What is the kingdom of God, and what does it mean to live in God’s Kingdom? Does it just entail a few moral adjustments or adding a few religious observances to a normal western lifestyle? If there are two kingdoms and only two kingdoms, then should those kingdoms be observably different in almost every way? If one kingdom is a kingdom of divine light, and the other kingdom is one of utter darkness, then shouldn’t the kingdom of light be remarkable within a culture of darkness?

The kingdom of God is only inhabited by those sinners who have been born again by faith in the Lord Jesus, and based upon that act of faith they have been adopted as the sons of God. They are part of God’s family. Now citizenship in that kingdom comes with countless benefits as well as clearly communicated patterns of behavior both in the heart and in one’s life. These patterns are particular to a disciple of Jesus Christ, and although they are not grievous, they are completely counter to all that the kingdom of darkness believes and expresses.

Living in the kingdom of God is freedom unknown to the world at large. This freedom is far beyond any earthly freedom. This kind of freedom sets the soul soaring and even when imprisoned here on earth it still flies with the freedom of a soaring eagle. Paul can be shackled and beaten and yet he still can sing praise to God with the passion and freedom as if he was in the very throne room of God. How? Well Paul’s life was not bound to the dictates of this world. In fact his life was in Christ with God and his earthly body was a living sacrifice.

The kingdom of God comes with all sorts of paradoxical mores. In the kingdom of darkness the first is first, the living have life, self promotion is an art, and money is a goal. In God’s kingdom the first are last, dying to self is life, humility is divine, and the material things of this world are necessary but never sought. In the world’s kingdom they list the richest people in the world so they can be admired. In God’s kingdom the sore ridden beggar winds up with God and the rich man winds up in hell.

The differences between these two kingdoms could not be anymore pronounced. But somewhere along the line the church has slowly but surely adopted and adapted to the dictates of the kingdom of darkness and the culture that emanates from such a kingdom. So deep has been the compromise that there is little if any observable distinction between the people in the pews and the people in the pubs. It is sad and tragic, and the entire spectacle has left this western culture with little hope and precious little expressions of Jesus which might provide a redemptive light to a dark and hell bound kingdom.

When we are ushered into the kingdom of light, we are given the mind of Christ. This means that we think altogether differently than we did before, and our perspective is now eternal and not temporal. It should be an astonishing transformation that arrests the minds of those who knew us before Christ. Old things have passed and all things are becoming new. No longer are we tied to the reality that is offered by the world. Now our realities are unalterably tied to Christ and His kingdom truths. We have surrendered our earthly citizenship and we have become sojourners in this present world. Is that what we see today?

I would suggest that the ways in which the church has compromised are so deep and so varied that we are almost incapable of seeing our situation anywhere near an honest and truthful assessment. Our statements of faith and our doctrinal convictions are trotted out as meager expressions of the Risen Christ. But in life we borrow like the world, we love those who love us, we spend inordinate amounts of money on entertainment, we overeat with regularity, and we waste time with all kinds of things from television to Facebook to phone conversations and other social activities. While we profess citizenship in God’s kingdom we live like those in the kingdom of darkness.

I believe the only remedy is a radical and painful awakening to our state and a passionate pursuit to have our hearts and lives come into alignment with God’s Word and the direction of God’s Spirit. This is not a time for some minor adjustments, or for buying a new devotional book. This is a time for a lonely walk down a path that once again leads to the cross. This is a path of self denial wrapped in the glory of His presence. This is a time to forsake the things of this world and surrender to loving and serving our Wonderful Master. Oh how we have redefined what it means to be a believer until it has become convenient, comfortable, and very friendly with the things that allure those who do not believe. In essence, we live as we desire without any serious thought to what Christ has said and we call it “discipleship”. That is spiritual treason.

The kingdom of God is an invisible kingdom which adds citizens through the regeneration power of God’s Spirit. The only way God's kingdom is visible is through us. Once a living soul has been translated from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God’s Dear Son, that living soul must be transformed in every area of thought, word, and deed. But we have so often compared ourselves with ourselves and in so doing we have instituted a diluted and anemic form of Christianity. We love to say that one day the world might come to either imprison or kill us, but why would they do that? Our lives are nicely settled into this culture and even some of the political leaders confess Christ, so why would they come for us?

Of course the uncomfortable question is why haven’t they come for us yet? Religious freedom and a pluralistic society have quietly but effectively minimized our expressions of Christ and mostly confined them to a Sunday morning pulpit. In fact, thousands of pulpits no longer even mention Christ or they preach another Christ. The local church operates as a business and continues a redundant oblation that has created an unbroken chain of Sunday mornings that are as interchangeable as socks. We come, we go. We come, we go. We come, we go and all things remain the same since the father’s slept. And like Samson, we don’t even know that our power is gone…nor do we care.

Instead of following the Lord Jesus we follow the issue of the day dictated by the world. When the kingdom of darkness intends to pass a law, the church reacts. When the kingdom of darkness embraces sin, the church reacts. When the kingdom of darkness goes to war, the church joins in. When the kingdom of darkness hates its enemies, so does the church. When the kingdom of darkness seeks to spread its gospel via the voting booth, so does the church. And while living in a pluralistic nation that worships idols, murders its unborn, embraces all kinds of sin, and unashamedly suggests that it is the greatest nation on earth, the church places its hand over its heart and pledges allegiance to this nation.

And the contradiction is striking. No one can serve two kingdoms and no one can serve two masters. To offer your partial allegiance to another kingdom is to wholly deny your allegiance to the kingdom of God. And when you pledge allegiance to a nation and its culture, you inevitable begin to live within the framework of that allegiance. And the fallen culture begins to surreptitiously invade your thinking, and ultimately your life loses its salt and light. And Christianity becomes “one of many” religions instead of a walk of extravagant humility, love, and an observable expression of self denial and moderation.

But any radical departure must be a radical process. May I suggest a starting place? Begin by laying all your allegiances and alliances before the Lord with no preconceived ideas. Ask the Spirit to reveal which ones are hindering your spiritual growth and also which ones are unbiblical. And covenant with God to surrender fully to His will concerning any and all of them. Perhaps the Spirit may direct you in ways that may be painful, but with that pain will come the glory of the balm that soothes a heart surrendered to Him.

We are a citizens of the kingdom of God. It’s time everyone around us recognized that in dramatic ways.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Our Pristine Culture

Our Pristine Culture

There are approximately 175,000 homeless persons in America.

There are approximately 150,000 orphans in America.

There are approximately 2,400,000 people in prisons in America.

There are approximately 4,000,000 drug addicts in America.

There are approximately 250,000 deaths each year in America.

There is over three billion dollars spent each year in American strip clubs.

There is over fourteen billion dollars spent on porn each year in America.

There are approximately 18,000 murders each year in America.

There are approximately 30,000 suicides each year in America.

There are almost 20 million American children who live in homes where food is scarce.

There are approximately 75,000 alcohol related deaths each year in America.

There are close to one million divorces each year in America.

One in four American women will experience domestic violence.

More than 60% of all American marriages will experience infidelity.

But if gay marriage is made legal, our pristine culture will become tainted.

Compassion for the Lost?

Compassion for the Lost?

Lk.13:34 - O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!

Lk.19:41 - And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,
42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.

Jerusalem was the city of peace. It was the place of the Temple where Jesus had been circumcised. It had a long and glorious heritage before God, and was included in many, many prophecies. But when Jesus saw Jerusalem, he saw a city given over to idols and traditions and a self serving lifestyle that ignored God. In fact, they had killed God’s prophets and now enjoyed a religious construct that grieved the heart of God.

Jesus laments over their condition, and in fact weeps over their sin and their hard heartedness.

In this day of rebellion and sin, I have often suggested that our hearts be broken before God concerning the sin of the people around us. And when the blind sinners endorse that which is at odds with God’s will, we should feel some compassion for their hard hearts. We as believers, must share the gospel of the Lord Jesus through tear stained cheeks. If indeed they do not repent and believe on Christ, they will be lost eternally.

But I have had to begin to moderate the comments here on my blog because of the many nasty comments about sinners. Some who profess to know Christ blast all sorts of sinners, and berate me for even suggesting we view sinners with compassion. Some say that since God chooses who He will save, to feel sympathy for sinners is not God’s will. Some suggest that these sinners deserve what they will get. Some call down the wrath of God upon those who do not know Christ and who embrace that which God has called sin.

Abomination, condemnation, and destruction are but a few of the words some use concerning lost souls. Their words contain no mercy or grace, and surely no authentic concern for the plight of the lost. They even present spurious Biblical arguments against any feelings of compassion for the lost. It is most disturbing and as you can see from the example of our Savior, it goes against the heart of God.

Where have we gone astray and where is the ax head of His heart? Why have we become so familiar with condemnation and we treat compassion as a stranger? We embrace the phrase “Some save with fear” and reject the phrase “and some with compassion”. Our hearts have become like stone with a cold and lifeless theology etched upon its surface. The world lies in the wicked one and yet we stand along side he who condemns.

We wait for the next demonstration of a fallen heart and when it appears we pounce upon it like a lioness upon a wildebeest. We climb the pedestal of moral self righteousness and only make a hollow genuflect toward the gospel. We who stand and live only by His grace, preach Moses to a generation who need Jesus. There is no excuse for doctrinal hubris and for mouths that condemn rather than share the message of redemption. If we cannot give our lips for the lost, we surely will not give our lives. This entire culture has come to believe the church is a collection of moral policemen who not only run to and fro with moral judgment, but who also enjoy the fruits of a capitalist and hedonist society. In essence, they see us as hypocrites.

Where are our tears? Do we weep over our own powerless exhibition of Christ? Do we ever weep at all over the plight of the lost and their carefree spirit while on their way to eternal doom? We weep when our beloved dogs die, but our eyes are dry when lost sinners perish? How can that even be called Christianity? Oh dear God, we slumber while proclaiming we are awake.

Every year brings new revelations of just how far the western church has strayed. But this year the church has taken a giant step of self righteousness. There is no pathos, and doctrine has become an ecclesiastical Dagon. Our exhibition of Christ is written in statements of faith, but our lives are loyal to economics, politics, and well orchestrated bouts of moral outrage. Redemption is a doctrine. Humility is a doctrine. Mercy is a doctrine. Grace is a doctrine. Prayer is a doctrine. These are dead, lifeless doctrines that soothe the conscience and live in theologies but are dead in practice.

And now the devil has hoodwinked the church into chasing after political footballs rather than praying for God’s power in us. The same sex marriage question has quickly become the outrage du jour in the church. Yesterday millions of gay people were living together and having unbiblical relations with each other. But now, since the kingdom of darkness desires to call that relationship a “marriage”, the church runs to the front with self righteous indignation. And it is no secret how the church has “honored” the sanctity of marriage.

But the kingdom of darkness needs light. They are already condemned, not because some are gay, but because they have not believed upon the only begotten Son of God. This is not a moral tug of war or a struggle for the preservation of a nation. This is a battle for the souls of men and the war is in the spirit not the flesh. And if we can watch sinners with disgust and without a glimpse of emotional concern for their eternal souls, then we are arbiters of the ministry of death and not living epistles of the ministry of Christ.

The world needs Living Water but the church continues to hit them over the head with empty buckets. Put down these carnal weapons of death, and pick up the banner of Christ. Be clothed with humility, and speak words seasoned with salt. Have redemptive patience with those who are dead in trespasses and sins, and remember from whence you have come. There is coming a day of damnation that is beyond our ability to even comprehend. It will be a day of eternal horror as the wrath of God is poured out upon all who are still in their sins. It is coming.

But we have been called to work in the field and to help pluck many from destruction. We are mouthpieces of His wonderful grace and witnesses of His death and resurrection. The time for damnation is in God’s hands, but the time to go into all the world and preach the gospel is our commission. Do we desire to gather the sinners as a loving hen gathers her chicks? Cast your eyes upon the most demonstrative and repulsive gay person. Do you love that person with the love inherent in the cross of Christ? Can you find any tears for their soul? Or do your heart and lips ascribe judgment, condemnation, and a visceral hatred toward him and his sin? In a courtroom, the prosecutor and the defense attorney can never be the same person. It is impossible to accuse and intercede simultaneously.

Therefore, you must decide who you will be and what you will do. Will you contend for their souls, or will you condemn their sin? Will you fight for their salvation, or fight for the culture? Will you be Moses to them, or will you be Jesus? You only have one mouth and one heart.