Friday, August 31, 2012

The Unseen Majority


II Ki.6: 13 And he said, Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan.
14 Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about.
15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?
16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
17 And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

Jehoram, the son of Ahab and Jezebel, was the King of Israel. He was always double minded and the Scriptures say he did evil. But by God’s grace the people of Israel were spared and given several chances to repent of idolatry. God used the prophet Elisha to speak to Jehoram, however his obedience was always temporary.

But through the ministry of Elisha, the King of Israel escaped the clutches of the Syrian army several times. In fact, the King of Syria was so vexed he inquired of his servants as to who was the spy among them. His servants told him that there was no spy, but the Prophet Elisha was telling everything to Jehoram, even about things the King of Syria was speaking in his own bedroom. It was a metaphor, however it revealed the extent to which God was using Elisha.

Now the King of Syria sent his army and surrounded the place where Elisha slept in hopes of capturing him. One morning when the servant of Elisha awoke and went out he saw a tremendous gathering of men and horses and chariots surrounding the house. He ran in and told Elisha and in a panic he asked Elisha what they were going to do.

Now please allow some license here. I can see Elisha sliding his feet over the side of the bed and stretching his arms up in the air while yawning widely. He brings his hands to his eyes and rubs them. “Good morning”, he says to his servant. “Did you hear what I just said, Master?” “Yes, I did,” said Elisha. “Well what are we ever going to do?”, said the servant.

Elisha rises and says, “Give me a minute. OK, our army is much greater than theirs.”

What? Where?” The servant still believes his master is still somewhat asleep.

Elisha asks the Lord to let his servant see the invisible, and behold! The mountains are full of horses and chariots of fire.

There is such a principle of faith in this narrative. We live in a world filled with fear, and the church has followed suit. Listen to professing believers moan about the economy or the coming Islamic state. And what is their answer? Another king, another president. Yes, that will turn things around. People in America live with an unspoken fear. And that fear has invaded the church as well. Believers fear they will lose their jobs, or their finances, or their health, and they fear all sorts of things like Muslims and liberals.

But notice what Elisha said. “Fear not” And what were the words of the angels on the night when Christ was born? “Fear not.” And why should we who are believing followers of Jesus not fear? Because we serve the Risen Christ, and the hosts of heaven are more than anything here on earth. What could upset a person who has the guarantee of eternal life and the innumerable hosts of heaven as his rear guard? God has not given us the spirit of fear.

Do we doubt what the end of all things will bring? Do we trust in the systems of men or do we trust in the living God? Do we think that any of God’s enemies can circumvent His eternal plan? Well, God has given us instructions from which we dare not deviate. Paul called the gospel the power of God to everyone who believes, so why do those who say they believe turn to all sorts of other so called powers? Attempting to bring the kingdom of heaven down to earth through a voting majority is little more than witchcraft. It is a vain attempt to leverage the will of God through the arm of man’s flesh which include all kinds of unholy alliances. What purports to be evangelical Christianity today is an earthly façade.

Do we even believe in heaven or angels or the power of the Spirit or the overarching authority of Christ and His Word anymore? Look how millions of professing believers are completely entangled with the affairs of this life in this election year. Listen to their caustic verbiage and their hopes that just one more election will add coins to their coffers. If you really observe the situation through the eyes of the Spirit it will seem like Christianity has all but vanished from the planet. Christ saved us, forgave us, transformed us, inhabited us, and sent us as sheep into a world of wolves with the admonition to be harmless as doves. And yet here we are with people who claim to know and follow Jesus bellowing out incendiary language and joining redeemed hands with unredeemed hands in order to attack and conquer the very fields in which we are called to be harvesters for Christ.

Oh children of the Most Merciful God, let us remove ourselves in spirit and in truth from the evil systems of this present world. We are surely in this world but we must never be of it. Ours must be a humble confidence that understands the power of our God but wields that power in ways foreign to this world of selfishness and braggadocio. While they lift lit torches we must proceed on well worn knees. While they speak great and swelling words filled with lies and distortions, we must speak the truth in love, seasoned with salt, and willing everywhere to speak of the hope which lies within us. And to be sure our hope is not of this world.

How can we once again summon the true spirit of Christ to become the driving force within our lives and the church itself? Have we strayed so far and embraced such falsehoods that the path that leads back to Calvary has all but been erased? Have the fowls of the air eaten the bread crumbs which might point us back? But even though the church as a whole may continue to wallow in the pigpen of this fallen world and all its ways, each individual can and must repent and present his mind, heart, and body as a living sacrifice. God desires to mold us into the image of His Dear Son.

Let the trumpet sound and let the call go out. Behold, the Bridegroom comes! We must not engage in all these worthless games, eternity looms large and men’s souls hang in the balance. Forget about Obama or Romney, neither one is the answer to anything. The latest poll taken of conservative voters reveals that even abortion is not the deciding factor in people’s votes. So that means even people who are concerned with moral issues and who believe voting helps things will still vote with their pocketbooks. Yes, the entire thing is a sham and a fraud and has many believers walking in a deep deception.

But take heart, all you who diligently seek Him. Never think more highly of yourselves but think more highly of Him. He alone is our answer, and He alone is the mark for which we strive. We grieve for our wayward brothers and sisters but we rejoice in Him and the freedom in which we walk. How many years have we wasted with temporal worthlessness, but no more praise His Name! God has shown us great patience and grace but we still know we have not arrived. But we no longer battle against flesh and blood.

It is not the gays with whom we strive, It is not the abortion doctors with which we do battle. It is not the liberal or the atheist or the Muslim that causes us to put on the whole armor of God. No! We do battle with the unseen forces of hell that seek to take us off course and thereby help in damning the souls of men. The devil does not fear voting blocks or elections; he fears the gospel lived and shared by believers whose lives reveal much more than orthodox written doctrines. The devil fears the Christ that is allowed to live through His redeemed followers.

And that requires much more sacrifice and diligence than a voter registration.

Without a Soul or a Savior


Without a soul - Lacking sensitivity or the capacity for deep feeling and passion.
Without a Savior - Wandering with a message that cannot save.

What kind of passion does it take to give one’s life for something? The nineteen terrorists that crashed their planes on 9/11 were willing to sacrifice their lives for a cause. What kind of fanaticism does that take? What kind of faith is so strong that even one’s own life is gladly sacrificed for your beliefs, or even more poignant, for the Master of your faith? Men will volunteer to give their lives to defend their families and their way of life, but who will give their lives for their faith?

Believers in Jesus Christ will say they would gladly sacrifice their lives if asked. If it came down to that they say they would die for Christ. But what they fail to realize is that they have been asked to sacrifice their lives already. We are all called to be living sacrifices for the Lord Jesus Christ. We have lost the will and the desire to explore just what that means and all the present implications. The western version of Christianity has high jacked the Scriptures and used certain phrases like “the abundant life” or “I wish that you would prosper” and they have taken those clipped portions and constructed a faith which requires no sacrifice at all.

It is impossible to communicate with words just how deeply the Christian faith has been deconstructed and turned into a faith of convenience and personal aggrandizement. We have retained some of the words and symbols, but for the most part we practice a westernized form of what used to be the faith of Jesus. After the Industrial Revolution certain segments of civilization began to gain education and material things. And like the first lick of an ice cream cone, each step forward created a thirst for more. Work days became shorter and the home became littered with all kinds of modern accoutrements.

And in the midst of all this was a group of people who believed in Jesus. Perhaps many of them guarded themselves against the onslaught of material things and the spirit of materialism which always accompanies material things. But even if those believers who were living at that time resisted the allurements being enjoyed by their unsaved neighbors, the next generation was born without knowing or experiencing the faith in a much purer time. These new believers saw no point in rejecting what everyone was enjoying, but they knew they would have to make some doctrinal room for all this excitement over all this earthly new.

And make room they did, and each successive generation expanded these doctrines and began to absorb what the world had to offer. Now a television, for instance, is not evil in and of itself. But it provided a vehicle through which evil could enter each house without having the evil entity enter physically. But as believers added the modern inventions within their homes, much of which was innocuous, something very sinister began to take place. The spirit of materialism and personal happiness through material things began to seep into the hearts of believers and eventually in the church itself.

So the Scripture that warns that believers will “heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” was beginning to be crystallized. And what that means in modern parlance is that since believers liked the things of this world and desired to seek more of them, they subtly and openly demanded that their shepherds fed them what they desired. And in order to achieve that end, the shepherds must also come in with the same attractions to the things of this world. And they did.

And little by little, footstep by footstep, and increment by increment the church not only tested the waters of the temporal allurements, and not only embraced the systems of man, but she began to teach them as coming from God. And material things and the systems of man were no longer inanimate tools about which to be very wary, but now they were part and parcel of the divine plan for the redeemed. Slowly but surely man’s life and man’s happiness began to be taught as God’s ultimate purpose. Serving God was constricted to be exercised on Sunday mornings and with every service God would rush to shower you with blessings which are now defined as material and monetary. Any kind of sacrifice was carefully crafted so as not to significantly interfere with the step by step climb that leads to more and more prosperity.

And after many decades, and after many alterations to the faith, the church eventually became a religious practice which enjoys all the artifacts of hedonism, and all the systems of this world, but maintains a thin veneer of Christianity that is remarkably empty of the life and teachings of Jesus. But the western culture by this time has become very proficient at organization and creativity, which the church has embraced and used to revolutionize the practice of the faith. And while maintaining in writing the foundational doctrines of the faith, the church has been able to significantly alter any resemblance in practice to the early church, or more importantly, the clear teachings of Scripture.

And this metamorphosis has become so successful and so penetrating, that even when confronted with the clear teaching of Scripture our hearts and minds cannot even see or accept them in their purist application. In other words we have become brainwashed. Like attempting to deprogram a cult member, the average western believer walks in all sorts of false assumptions and with a comfort level supported by the teachings of the church and the lifestyle of those believers around them which resemble their own. And armed with this kind of buffer any deprogramming can only begin with a miraculous move of God’s Spirit within each individual heart.

The leaders of the church are powerless to guide the sheep toward Christ since they also have the added chains of vocation, personal financial support, human voices of praise, and the unseen but powerful intoxication that comes with preaching before a crowd. Believe me, those kinds of chains are extremely powerful. And when the world has imprisoned the leaders, then the church is at the mercy of the spirit of this world because believers by and large receive the words of their pastor as coming from God. This western ecclesiastical system is a self destructing construct which is spiritually void but insists it alone serves up God’s truth.

Even the forceful protestations about inerrancy and believing the Bible have become little more than doctrinal hubris designed to elicit the applause of men and stroke our religious egos. And with all that and more, the western church operates without a soul. Going through the redundant motions which are accepted as defining a church, believers by the millions become content with activity and all kinds of positive feelings. Most believers will not stay at a local church if they do not like the pastor or if they do not find fellowship with others. And with that clearly in the mind of church leaders, most pastors are professional smilers and strive to create a community atmosphere. There is nothing wrong with smiling or having a community, however when they become the core and the power of the church then what we have is a religious club.

And in addition the church must have an enemy with which to occupy her time and give her a sense of standing strong for truth. So who better to set up as a convenient piñata but the lost kingdom? So we can articultae all the sins of the lost kingdoms of this world and only give a blind genuflect to our own. Like the Wizrd of Oz, we magnify the sins of the world while exhorting everyone to pay no attention to the church behind the cutain. We pay more attention to the sinful expression of the unredeemed than we do to the Savior and pursuing a living reflection of Him.

And the church uses all kinds of sleights of hands in order to pacify our spirits and keep us from any painful self examination. Listen as believers catsigate the gay community. Listen as they assign divine motive to natural disasters. Listen as they demand an entire country adhere to Biblical morality. Listen as they preach capitalism and democracy. Listen as they exhibit a genuine hatred for Muslims or gays or liberals. And all the while they are creating a self righteous fog which blinds them to their own spiritual condition. And while the culture continues to deteriorate, and while this same culture continues to infiltrate the church, there still is no call for a solemn assembly or all night prayer gatherings to seek the face of God. We cannot see that there is anything wrong except what is wrong in the other kingdom.

Without a sacrificial and remarkable seeking of Christ in all things, the church loses her soul, and in so doing, she loses her Savior. And when I speak of seeking the face of Jesus believers look at me as if I am some mystic monk. That right there should tell us something. If the glory of God is in the face of Jesus Christ, then should we not seek it? And since the average pew dweller sees the Christian faith in terms of moral convictions, political conservatism, and religious activities then he is blind to the very essence of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

Every church should be a seeker church, but not in the accepted way western believers think. Our gatherings should be prayerfully set out to seek Jesus in all things and not to seek new members. But when a local church relies on clever slogans and manipulating music and over staffed organization, then you may very well grow in numbers. But you will be left with a religious expression without a soul and without a Savior. That does not mean that most evangelical churches do not mention Jesus in their doctrines or even in their messages, but it does mean that when juxtaposed against Scripture and the life of Christ the church lives in the power of the flesh.

And so here we are, dead to Him and alive to ourselves. Millions upon millions of professing believers pile up large amounts of money, enter into large amounts of debt, carelessly enjoy all the offerings of a hedonistic culture, spend little time in prayer, almost never witness, and laboriously go through the redundant motions of the western ecclesiastical structure. Soulless and hollow, and void of a true expression of the Savior. Repentance and revival are the only paths to a resurrection of the faith once delivered to the saints. But I sincerely believe before any real repentance can take place, and before our eyes can be truly opened to the situation, and even before we can receive the power necessary to be freed form our bondage, there must be a miraculous resurgence of prayer in all its mystery and power. Jesus told us that when we have offended someone we must go and speak to that someone.

Without a stunning awakening to elongated and sacrificial prayer
we remain hollow, soulless, and following ourselves and not the Savior.
How tragic, how very tragic.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

So Many Voices


So many sermons, so many songs, so many teachings, so many opinions, so many doctrines, so many perspectives, so many theologies, so many versions, so many churches, so many denominations, so many expressions, so many - so many - so many voices. So many, so many.

I Cor.13: Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

(Please note - These verses are only for a Valentines Day Banquet.)

It happened again. A hurricane came streaming into the Gulf of Mexico and slammed into the New Orleans area. And the voices began to get louder once again. Oh they were always there, but this provided a platform for greater volume and greater certainty. Yes, it seemed they were only waiting for another opportunity to speak for God. As in the case of Hurricane Katrina, these voices surfaced with a fresh explanation of natural disasters.

Hurricane Isaac made landfall seven years to the day that Hurricane Katrina had done. And here were these precious people, many of them poor minorities, running from another disaster. Many had lost their homes seven years ago, and now they faced the very real prospect of another tragedy. There would be many churches that would help, and many believers from all over the country would give time and energy to minister Jesus to these people.

But the voices came alive again. Many places around the internet suggested God was again judging New Orleans for their gay celebration. Never mind that this is a free country and most people in the New Orleans area were not gay. Never mind that this is the hurricane season and New Orleans is in a dangerous position always. The self righteous moralists have set their cross hairs on the gay community and with no more compassion than a guillotine they let ‘er fly! God was again expressing His displeasure with any gay celebrations.

Never mind that San Francisco was experiencing nothing of the kind. Never mind that many of the people of New Orleans are poor and heterosexual. Never mind that God so loved New Orleans that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Never mind that God has commanded His followers to help the poor while He reserves the right to violently destroy their lives? Never mind all that.

The modern day air conditioned prophets have zeroed in on God's true heart. We always thought He loved the world and died for our sins. Now we know, through these self appointed prophets, God plays favorites. Hugh Heffner enjoys a long life of debauchery and hedonism, but the poor people of New Orleans have earned a special exhibition of God’s judgment while men like Rob Bell and Joel Osteen live off the fat of the land. Who knew what this God was capable of?

Never mind that many children suffer without electricity. Never mind that old people in nursing homes suffer more than normal. Never mind that schools and churches and shelters are being bombarded. Never mind that if it was God’s judgment then churches should not help. Let His judgment sink in fully.

But amateur Bible game players love to say that the name “Isaac” meaning laughter and God is laughing at the calamity He has showered upon these people. And God is efficient. He killed two birds with one stone by taking another swipe at Haiti on His way to new Orleans. God is so wonderfully thrifty!

Never mind that God has spoken to us through His Son in these last days. Never mind that His Son gave His life and now desires all men to be saved. Never mind that only a few New Testament passages deal with the sin of homosexuality while a literal plethora of verses deal with greed and avarice. While the levees of Plaquemines Parish are being put to the test, the Mormon tabernacle in Salt Lake City stands untouched. I wonder if God knows what the Mormons are teaching?

These voices are filled with prophetic hubris and a visceral hatred for sinners who do not have heterosexual credentials. Heterosexual sinners can even help believers in earthly endeavors without professing Christ. Never mind that when a heterosexual sinner comes to faith in Christ no one demands he empties his bank accounts of all ungodly gains. Never mind that when this same sinner comes to faith he is not told he must give up lusting after women. But let a gay person even test the redemptive waters and he is told in no uncertain terms he must renounce his same sex attractions before he can even approach Jesus.

But these hurricanes are a very neat divine trick. I wonder why God waited seven ,long years before flexing His destructive arm again? The voices tell us its because the number is special to God. Again, God is so clever. Never mind that every gay person in New Orleans will most likely continue in his lifestyle, and he will certainly be turned off by the hatred shown him by these voices. Never mind that those of us who have been born again only know what is sin and what is not because we have been indwelt by God’s Spirit. If only we had been ravaged by a hurricane we could have known a lot quicker.

I guess the age of grace means nothing anymore. If God is killing certain sinners today, perhaps we should help Him. Never mind that now we are commanded to love our enemies but God can rip them apart. And how does God explain the contradiction of the message of the cross and the message that God wants you dead? Never mind, never mind.

My heart is grieved over the state of the church and the voices that speak from a moral perch of their own making. Millionaires like Pat Robertson proclaim the judgment of God over Haiti and the gay community, and men like Jerry Falwell revealed that 9/11 was God’s judgment on the gays. Never mind that the entire nation of America is consumed with sex, hedonism, and all things pertaining to money. How can we see the pictures of the suffering people of New Orleans and sit back and in effect say, “Well done, God!”? But the game of "pin the tail on divine judgment" is satifying to the flesh.

This is not the faith of Jesus. This is the faith of Moses. And no one can embrace Moses and Jesus. You will love one and hate the other, even though you profess to love both. We have forgotten what the cross means and what the cross shouts out! It should grieve us to hear these vacuous voices speaking things about which they are ignorant. Yes, there is coming a time of judgment which will take an infinitely greater form than a category 1 hurricane. But until then let us be Jesus to people who suffer. It rains on the just and the unjust, but when that happens God commands the water soaked just to give both raincoats to the unjust in His name.

So many voices. Please, only listen to His.

The Verse No One Really Believes

Rev.20: 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Think about the implication of that verse. It assumes we all believe in eternity. And it assumes we all really care. It assumes a lot of things, but God in his matchless grace has revealed to us a coming horrific event. Everyone dies physically, but there is something called the second death. Now if that is true, and if everyone who is born spends eternity in one of two places, then what should believers do and how should believers live?

Hell is a very difficult truth to believe. I mean really believe. To imagine souls spending eternity in a place of torture has been so antithetical to western culture and hedonism that it has been reduced to a residual tenant of doctrine which has almost no authentic expression in our lives. It is so profound, so horrific, so incredible that the church basically ignores it except for some minor cameos. But if it is true than how can we continue in this pathetic and redundant and unremarkable thing we call the church?

If the world really understood what we say we believe they would have some legitimate questions concerning our behaviors. If we really believe all unbelievers spend eternity in some kind of torment than why haven’t we told all of our neighbors? Why haven’t we given more to missions? How can we spend so much time and energy on temporal things? Where is the breathless passion that should accompany such a belief?

The honest and painful truth is that part of the church does not believe it outright and says so, while the other part says it believes that verse but does not behave too much differently that the unbelieving element. That is not just a problem, that is a disgrace. Now I ask you, if there are two and only two places where souls spend eternity, should that not be the basis of our faith? And if heaven and hell exist, then does that not make the cross and the resurrection a profound sacrifice to rescue and ransom and redeem any and all souls who believe?

Tell me, what good is politics? What eternal value is nationalism? What do wars accomplish in the light of eternity? Think about that hard and long. In the light of eternal life and eternal death, what is the calling of the church? And yet the western church flocks after the dead voices of men like Rick Warren and Rob Bell and Joel Osteen because professing believers and unbelievers desire to increase their pocketbooks and enjoy this temporal life to its carnal fullest. But have we become deaf to what Jesus said?

Lk.12: 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.

And deceived men and women have taken these verses and somehow manipulated them to mean you can accumulate great wealth as long as you serve God. The pressure of the western culture of hedonism became much to hard a burden to bear. So the church had to westernize the Scriptures in order to alleviate that burden. We so often believe that living under a totalitarian regime is a burden and that our Chinese brothers have a difficult time not succumbing to the persecution of their atheistic government. But we are deceived because we do not recognize that spiritual persecution can come in many forms, including the allurement of the material things of this world as well as the systems of men.

So here we sit feeling sympathy for the persecuted church in other lands when we ourselves have laid down our faith and pledged allegiance to the totalitarian regime we call democracy and capitalism. Earthly freedom has demanded our obedience and we gave them much more than that…we gave them our hearts and our faith. And when the dust settled, it was revealed we now practice a faith in many ways diametrically opposed to all Jesus lived and taught. And the world sits back and watches the western evangelical church and just what do they see?

We borrow money just like they do. We enjoy many of the same avenues of entertainment. We go wild after sports as do they. We have a set of morals as do they. We divorce and remarry just like they do. We save up money for ourselves just like they do. We are involved with politics just like they are. We pledge allegiance to a secular country as do they. We go to war when called like they do. Except for a two hour pilgrimage on Sundays our lives reveal very little difference.

And yet we say we believe that pesky verse in Revelation? Can we even pretend to kid ourselves? The reality of eternity has been all but lost to the church. People file into the auditorium having spent little if any time with Christ. They chit chat about worthless things and shake hands and nod to friends and strangers. Down they sit in their pew and either look over the program or look over the crowd. A sense of eternity? Not on your life. Tears for lost souls? Nope. A holy gnawing at their hearts to see souls swept into the kingdom? Come on.

The choir is practicing their special, the preacher is looking over his notes, men are directing parking, ushers are ushering, parents are dropping off their children, and the entire complex is awash with activity and hustle and bustle. And now it is time for the “service” to “begin”. Please see how we have crafted a gathering that was meant to worship God and change us, and we have molded it into a reflection of attending a school play or a music recital. We have been called to physically separate ourselves from the normal environment and gather to seek His face and together seek all things eternal, but here we sit ready to experience just what we experienced last week and what will come next week as well.

The curtain opens and the worship leader stirs the crowd with much of the same exhortation he used last week. The music begins and little by little the crowd warms up and “gets into it”. The music is designed to crescendo at the end and prepare the crowd for the message. And since we cannot depend upon the deep and sacrificial prayer lives among the crowd to have prepared hearts, we must rely on using music to uplift hearts and make everyone feel good. And that is done with great precision. “A great worship service” is always the goal, which is usually measured by volume and enthusiasm.

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

The preacher steps behind the pulpit and opens up his notes and begins to speak with the same passion as he did last week and with the same passion he will next week. He is a good speaker and a nice man and he may even tell a few jokes or amusing anecdotes. We are on the home stretch now, and in football season being concise is of the essence.


And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Your mind wanders, you have heard much of this before. The preacher is a good teacher and he exegetes the Scriptures well. Some preachers give a topical message which entertains and even blesses your heart. He has made some good points and you have been careful to watch over your children sitting next to you. You may even sneak a peek at your watch.

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

You can hear it in his voice or even see it on your outline that he is reaching the end of his message. Perhaps you close your Bible and shift your body. You may hear some light shuffling throughout the congregation. A few even leave their seats to take their places for some post message duties. As he enters the traditional post message invitation, the gospel is given a passing reference and perhaps the preachers asks for people to make a decision.

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Counselors take their place down front. We are headed for the benediction and the closing prayer. Everything has gone according to plan and you are dismissed. Scores of people file out just as they had filed in. Smiling and nodding and walking toward the doors and their cars, they have completed their religious obligation without a hitch. It’s lunch time now. See ya next week.

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Now picture a house in your neighborhood. There are children inside, and their parents. There is a party going on in the house, and people are parking their cars and entering the party through the front door. But unbeknownst to everyone the entire back half of the house is engulfed in flames. The partiers are clueless. Now in response to that crisis, you call your other neighbors and hire a man to teach you about the reality of that fire.

You play great music and your gatherings are well organized. You hold these meetings week after week. The meetings do not interfere with much of your schedule, and after the meetings everyone returns to their homes and resumes their normal lives. When your house becomes too small for the meetings, you borrow money from the bank and build a beautiful auditorium in which to meet. You print out pamphlets to let everyone know that you believe there is a literal fire in your neighbor's house, and that you also believe there is only one way to rescue those inside that house.

Yes, you are orthodox. During those meetings you speak with other neighbors and encourage them to become active in the home owners association. You and others pass out a manual which has guidelines for the way your lawn looks, the color of your house, and many other things about your house. You see, you yourself was once in that house and gleefully partying, but you had been rescued. But after escaping the fire, and after reading the manual, you realized you needed to make some adjustments to your house.

But as you made these adjustments, you realized that the smoke from that house was becoming annoying. In fact, it was detracting from the overall appearance of the neighborhood. The yelling and music and general debauchery in that house was irritating and outside the parameters laid down by the home owner’s association. You seek out others who feel as you do and vote to make those in that house paint their house, manicure their lawn, and hang up Christmas lights in December. Oh yes, you hope and pray they get out of there before they die.

At the next meeting, after the service, someone asks you why you hold these meetings. You look at him amazed.

“Don’t you see the fire blazing in that house over there?,” you ask.

“Yes,” says the man. “But don’t you know people are dying in that house?”

“Of course,” you reply. “Here is our statement of faith. You will see we really do believe that”.

“But the situation is desperate. I mean something has to be done.”

“I know, but I have so many other things to do.”

“But don’t you care?”

“Yes we care, look at our statement of faith.”

“Well I am confused.”

“I would like to speak with you some more, but I am hungry. Hey, come back next week and join a class.”

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Yea, right...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

If Olny Obama was White


Rom.2:11 - 11 For there is no respect of persons with God.

I often feel embarrassed by some who claim they are Christians. But in the past four years I have felt not only embarrassed, but ashamed for our Lord. I literally hate racism. I cannot even watch movies like “The Great Debaters” because I get so emotional when I see how the blacks were treated. And in the past four years I have heard all kinds of racist terms, both clandestine and overt. Who are we kidding? Forget about the issues about which we would disagree strongly with President Obama, we as believers are commanded to show love and respect.

And yet day after day after merciless day talk show hosts lambaste him and call him all sorts of derogatory names, and millions of believers follow suit. And you call yourself a follower of Jesus? It has been shameful to see all the professing Christians embrace the carnal verbiage, and do not kid yourselves interwoven in all this is latent and not so latent racism. No one claimed George Bush was not an American. But the President has had to defend even his citizenship.

But this is what politics does. It openly elicits the fallen nature and uses debasing terminology which is counter to the entirety of New Testament teaching. And why do professing believers not realize what they are doing is wrong and how antichristian they are behaving? Two interconnected reasons. Politics and because their pastors are imprisoned by the same spirit.

Regardless of his policies the miracle is that a black man was elected in a country which once imported slaves. But during the virulent verbiage used against the President you might think that the church would be noticeably different in their approach. But just as the church was during slavery she either remained neutral or was complicit. Many have called President Obama a communist, a Muslim, a Kenyan, the welfare president, a socialist, a European, a terrorist, an anti-Semite, an elitist, an many other more derogatory names. What they did not call him was a faithful husband, a loving father, a patriot, and a son who made his mother and grandparents proud.

Oh yea, another thing the church never calls him with a scintilla of Christ’s love and compassion - lost. Even if I did vote I could not vote for President Obama, but I can love and pray for him. I do not believe God is interested in earthly elections. I believe Christ is interested in spiritual election. And that can only come through the gospel. That should be our exclusive “platform”.

But if limited atonement were actually true, we now know how God chose who He would save. It seems God really loves white westerners with a few Chinese sprinkled in. Sorry Mister President, Jesus considers you a godless socialist who he did not have in mind at Calvary. If your father had been white you would stand a better chance.

Let us not just hold to some moral and economic issues we call “conservative”. Let us be Jesus to the world. God is never in the majority here on earth and he has no use for the election results of men. Love and obey the Lord Jesus. Those results will one day be counted.

Addicted to Earthly Blessings


Eph.1: 1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
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:
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Have you even walked in a mall or store with your young child or grandchild? Most of us have. And sometimes they ask us incessantly to buy them something. “Can you buy me this? Can I have this? Please, please get me this.” Yes, we all can somewhat relate to that. But is that what we desire to emulate before our Heavenly Father?

Look at those verse in Ephesians. Now I ask you, can earthly riches and rewards compete with these great and precious promises? We have been blessed with ALL spiritual blessings which come part and parcel when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. How often have we thanked and blessed our father in heaven for these? An extra $100 comes in and we leap for joy but these eternal riches are ignored. The church has lost almost all sense of the eternal as she gazes upon the things of this world and longs for what the kingdom of darkness treasures.

The western church has become addicted to earthly blessings and in so doing she is a prisoner of the temporal. And when we seek the temporal we forfeit the eternal. It is a colossal shame to see what has happened to the church as she has been consumed with herself. Christian television is completely for personal aggrandizement. And with a monetary tip, false teachers promise the gullible masses that God will do whatever they want Him to do. And now most of what purports to be Christian is not Christian at all. The west practices a religion constructed and concocted by the lusts of man and not the Spirit of God.

Entire teachings are centered upon how to ask God to provide things for you. Picture some sheep gathered together attempting to figure out how to get the Shepherd to care for them. What a false and diseased picture. We have placed our eternal souls in His hands but we need special incantations and passwords to get the Father to take care of us here? Jesus said the Father already knows what we have need of. And look around you and see how the unsaved fare sumptuously without asking God for anything. It rains on the just and the unjust. Dare we suggest our Father cares not for us? God forbid.

Col.1: 9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Oh look and see what the Apostle Paul prays for his flock in Colossae. His prayers are lofty expressions of a deep spiritual essence. He knows that “my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus”. New cars? New houses? New clothes? The apostle does not lust after things. Peter reiterates the same.

II Pet.1: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Notice the phrase “through the knowledge of Him”. These heretics that suggest God is motivated by money are a disgrace to the cause of Christ. “Learn of Me” beckons our Gracious Lord Jesus. And in these days of pleasure and hedonism it isn’t just material blessings that the church salivates for. We are seeking to be removed from all suffering and unpleasant predicaments. But that is not at all what the New Testament teaches us. No way, no way. We are even to give thanks in the midst of a storm regardless. Now I ask you to pay attention to these next paragraphs since they are the heart of the cross filled life.

I Cor.4: 10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.
11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;
12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

Please notice how the disciples are treated.

II Cor.4: 8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

Again, they are in fellowship with His sufferings.

II Cor.6: 4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;
6 By pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;
9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;
10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

Who would desire such a life?

II Cor.11: 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
We see another faith than the one that is commonly called “Christianity” today.

II Cor.4: 13 We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;
14 Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.
15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Oh but look! See all the things that Paul and the others were subjected to including hazarding their own lives. Hunger and disease and beatings and imprisonment and shipwreck and all kinds of perils, and yet…wait…can this really be…Paul calls them “our light affliction”???? every time I read those words I am undone and I recoil at how many times I have complained or felt persecuted. And yet the western church gives money to some god to help them out of any kind of sufferings which is nowhere near what Paul experienced. Our light affliction??? Please. Do not attempt to convince me that what now purports to be the faith that Paul taught is anything like that.

Rejoicing in suffering today? No one can even believes that. Millions of dollars are donated so that false teachers can fly around the world in the lap of luxury. And the money is given in hopes that whatever is bothering people will be alleviated. It is a mockery and a blasphemy. And the church is not interested in escaping the lusts and corruptions that are in the world. The church now embraces and enjoys those same lusts. Yes, the walls have been burned with fire and the sanctuary is filled with hollow ministers which speak enticing words of men’s wisdom and not the Words of Almighty God.

But instead of seeking earthly blessings, let us return to seeking the “knowledge of Him”. Looking unto Jesus the Author and the Finisher of our faith must be our passion. The church has long since left seeking His face, so every individual must surrender to a pursuit of Him with little or no companionship with others. If you have a mate or some friends who have a kindred spirit you should thank Christ every day. The time is not coming but is already upon us where each believer must stand alone if necessary.

Is.40: 7 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.
8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

I Pet.1: 23 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.

Set your affections upon the King Eternal and His eternal kingdom. You will see Him soon.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Go Ahead and Try to Fight It


There are literally hundreds of thousands of born again believers in America who are now having an internal struggle. These are not just pew dwellers or “I said the sinner’s prayer once” type of believers. These are people who truly love Christ and their lives have been changed forever. They do not waffle on the Word of God. They have a genuine heart for souls and they support missions. They are followers as well as believers. But as I said they are having quite an internal struggle within their own hearts.

Many of us have experienced the same kind of struggle. I believe God’s Spirit is quietly and not so quietly moving and trying to move in perhaps millions of believing hearts across America and into Canada as well. This is not a struggle between faith and unbelief, but this is a struggle to seek the mind of God on a variety of subjects. Some of us were so comfortable with what we knew and what was right and what pleased God. The last thing we needed was the Holy Spirit of God upsetting our Biblical apple cart. But He came in and little by little began to create a holy unrest with the status quo and in a very short time we began to question things we had assumed were settled law.

We did not question the person of Christ or the exclusivity of His redemption. We did not question salvation by grace through faith alone or the supremacy of the written Word of God. We still believed in heaven for the redeemed and hell for the lost. Yes, all the usual orthodox doctrines remained intact. Some of us toyed with some aberrant avenues along the way, but we never gave ourselves completely over to them. Some dabbled with the prosperity nonsense; some tried a little Rick Warren; some tasted a little of this and a little of that. But this was different.

At first it was just a little hint and we did sentry duty so as not allow the doors to swing too far open. After all, we did not want to be some kind of fanatic or worse yet, a liberal. So when we first heard the voice of God’s Spirit question the value of all this political mess, we kept most of it unspoken. I mean people would think we were some kind of evangelical hippie. But the Spirit remained relentless. And although we were at the door, it continued to open a little more each month. Sometimes each day. Sometimes each moment. Sometimes a thought or question would enter our minds that seemed so radical and out of the accepted path of western evangelicalism that we fought it.

But soon our questions had such a ring of truth, and soon our eyes began to be opened and we saw things in a different light. Some of the things we saw were so startling we wondered how we could have ever missed them. Some of us had a mate or a friend with whom we could share our questions and thoughts. Sometimes they were encouraging just because they listened without condemnation. But sometimes they said “What!?” Suffice to say peer pressure was certainly an obstacle even coming from some family members. This was not a journey we asked for or sought, but there was no turning back now.

Some of you may just be beginning such a journey, while others of us have many years behind us. Be advised - you will make mistakes. Your greatest fight will be against your own self righteousness and impatience toward others. I can remember the Spirit allowing me to escape some bondage I had embraced, and when I shared it with others I was soundly agitated because not only did they not share my perspective, they summarily dismissed it. I had to learn to be content and praise God for what He had done without demanding a like minded audience.

But for those of you who are just testing the water, you are about to walk a path much less traveled. You may be tempted to fight it is since your familiar path has many more friends and not nearly as many questions. The only problem is that you cannot grow in Him if you turn back and settle into the spiritual hammock which allowed you to be spoon fed by others. If you had only refused to entertain that first inkling of something not quite right.

But here you are now confronted by all kinds of swirling questions. You cannot even listen to your pastor’s messages without hearing things that now seem antithetical to Scripture. Wow, and only a few years ago you swallowed everything without even chewing! Within your heart there is an unsettling about issues, and the list of issues is growing since they seem to be interconnected. Patriotism, tithing, debt, politics, war, salvation for gays, capital punishment, and others are now part of the list of considerations. We all might not agree on all those issues, however all of us who are on this journey no longer look down our noses on others. But after a few small questioning steps, the way back seems like a closed door. Can you unravel your mind? Can you deny what you have seen and pretend you never were enlightened to anything?

Do not be afraid, there are many, many believers who are somewhere on that same path upon which you walk. Look down and you may see the footprints of a no body like me. Yes, I walked where you are walking. In fact you may see some disturbed dirt where I resisted God and He showed me great love and patience. But please do not get the impression that I have arrived or I am better than those believers who might never even walk this path. I am not better and neither are you. We are all just servant disciples.

In fact, the more I walk, the more I see just how far short I am in accurately reflecting the power and the Person of the Lord Jesus. There are many believers who read this obscure blog who can say amen to that. That is one of the greatest as well as painful residual effects of having the Spirit open your eyes to idolatry and compromise. The more your eyes are opened to other things, the more they are opened to your own discipleship which seems very incomplete. You used to consider your spiritual walk as imperfect but within acceptable parameters when compared with others. However now you cannot even fool yourself into believing that pitiful comparison, and what others do or do not do can no longer be a cover for our own sin.

Yes it is painful, but it also glorious. Those of us who walk this path rejoice in God’s correction and His consistent and patience circumcision of our hearts. God’s Spirit is faithful to remind us where we came from and He infuses our hearts with love for our brethren, a kind of love that has never come naturally to us. And because we are questioning things that the local organized church energetically protects, we must walk in uncommon forgiveness when we sense we are being marginalized and rejected. Oh, and by the way, that walking in forgiveness thing? We have had different levels of success in that. But now we can no longer get away with it like we did before.

But now I have come to the main course so to speak. After you have repented concerning some issues whether they be nationalism or money or any number of things. After your comfort zone has been invaded, and after you have been broken, after you have experienced a breath of fresh spiritual air, something much more wonderful happens. In the midst of this issue transformation, you suddenly are graciously ushered into a fresh and thrilling view of the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh yes, this is the coup de grâce of all things spiritual. Assuming we ardently reject any sense of spiritual superiority, the Spirit leads us into a deeper and more glorious revelation of our Wonderful Redeemer and Lord. It is difficult to put into words, but it is nothing short of miraculous.

To be honest I did not fully expect it. Yes I was being released from things that had me bound and I was feeling a sense of freedom in my own spirit. But I should have known that was part of a much greater divine plan. The Spirit so desires to speak of Christ that He is willing to use any means to eventually get us to open our eyes to Him. The freedom from certain issues was just a vehicle to allow our hearts to more fully embrace Him. And again, words cannot describe what unspoken glory is unleashed when we worship Christ in spirit and in truth. Sometimes I feel as though I cannot help but sink to my knees in utter brokenness and humility. Sometimes I do just that. The things of this world seem to disappear and I desire nothing, nothing at all but Him.

Please do not see me as special. I just share this to exhort you. All of us still deal with the temptations of the temporal, but still there is more, much more than some are experiencing in the Kingdom of God. This spiritual kingdom does not worship creeds and laws. No, it is the Kingdom of God’s Dear Son. When will we realize that it all begins and ends with Jesus? Who redeems us? Who sets us free? Who guides us? Who loves us? Who is coming for us? Is it creeds and doctrines or is it He Who gave His life for us? Who do the angels worship? Whose light illuminates all of heaven? Who sits upon a Monarch’s throne? Who alone is worthy to be worshiped and praised? Oh please my dear brothers and sisters, do not turn the body of Christ, the church, into an organized collection of rules and cultural emulations.

It is Jesus, it is Jesus. Again I say, it is Jesus. Shuffle off all the chains of religion and culture and the systems of man and allow your spirit to soar with Him! Yes, the path to a fresh awakening does not lead to a club comprised of us who have seen the truth in these things. God forbid it! This path leads to Jesus. And when you realize that, your entire being is undone. You are being shaken by the Spirit and instead of heaven being consumed with the issues about which you are tempted to be self righteous, you now realize that is all about Him. Oh how can our lips express what we feel about His grace? I am such a stupid man with absolutely no wisdom of my own, and yet God showers me with His grace and I am allowed to enter His presence and worship my Lord. I often do not want to even be in my own presence and yet here I am in His.

How often do I think more highly of myself than I ought. How often am I impressed with my own writings and yet they are all nothing but gifts of His grace. How often do I succumb to the flesh and yet He embraces me. How often do I entertain feelings of superiority and yet I am nothing but a being of His grace. How often do I teach and yet I am aware of my own need of teaching. I have come a long way but I have much further to go. But I have come to am place from which I will not, I cannot, be moved.

This place is built and lives upon the Rock. I must not be distracted by politics or wars or boycotts. I must keep looking unto Him. I had lost it for too many years to return now. I will publicly reveal that rejecting politics or nationalism or bloodshed or moral hubris was easy compared with being like Jesus. I am so often not like Him even though I remain free from some of the issues I mentioned. Yes, I am so unlike Him, but I do not wish to remain so.

So go ahead and try and fight it.
You will be losing out on a journey filled with a glory which cannot be spoken.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Oh no! Am I a Liberal?


Somewhere along the way new lines were drawn and I think I have been assigned to liberal status. What happened? Not too long ago I used to be a card carrying member of the conservative, orthodox, fundamental, literalist, Bible believing, and evangelical American Christian Club. But when I look around, I seem to be out of lockstep with the party base. I mean I could shout “Amen!” with the best of them when some preacher began to castigate lost sinners or the Hollywood crowd or especially anything to do with the onslaught of the galloping hordes of gays or Muslims.

Man, those were the days. Everyone packed into one auditorium just salivating as we anticipated some leather lung preacher pounding the Bible and using verbiage like “taking back America” or “returning to the days when…” or “God made Adam and eve not Adam and Steve” or “God speaks through the KJV“. I can hear the thunderous applause accented by a loud chorus of amens. The juices were flowing and as the preacher threw out raw meat, like lions at a kill, we growled and showed our orthodox teeth and gleefully devoured every morsel. It was quite a feast! And after the service we filed out stuffed full of what we came for. Yes, those were the days alright. We were in the culture war and we were keeping our powder dry.
Well somehow I drifted to what some would categorize as the left. Of course we know that is erroneous since God is ambidextrous. But I have noticed that I can no longer enjoy a good pulpit slugfest like I had in the past. It has lost its sparkle. I found my heart becoming more compassionate toward those in bondage to sin. Bashing the lost and clumping people into categories no longer gets my juices flowing. Wow, what happened to me.
I guess I must apologize to the fundamental crowd. I guess I must hang my head and admit, like the cowardly lion, I have lost the vim and verve necessary for membership in the rabid moral crowd. Getting caught up in the red meat crowd just doesn’t appeal to me anymore. Let my identify certain issues that have escaped from my orthodox portfolio.

* I am no longer afraid of the gay agenda. (Right there qualifies me for a stake burning!)
* I can learn from many translations of scripture. (Uh-oh, release the hounds!)
* I do not revere the founding fathers. (Yes, I am a communist!)
* I do not vote. (Well, I have shirked my Christian duty!)
* I no longer break fellowship over eschatology. (Yes, they have revoked my pre-trib credentials!)
* I am not interested in changing the culture. (I am abandoning my grandchildren!)
* I believe women can wear makeup and pants. (Talk about blurring the lines!)
* I don’t celebrate the Fourth of July. (What’s next - Christmas?)
* I do not celebrate Christmas. (OK, now I have become just another heathen!)
* I believe in taking the Lord’s supper every Sunday. (Soon I will be moving in Ted Kaczynski’s cabin!)
* I have a desire to see Rosie O’Donnell be saved. (I know, God does not agree with me!)
* I do not sing hymns exclusively. (I guess I must like death metal praise!)
* I love Muslims. (That means I believe God is in all religions!)
* I no longer support war. (I am now a complete wuss!)

You see what I mean? Oh how I have drifted. And if those things disqualify a person from being a conservative (whatever that is) then I must be a liberal. I am now the enemy! But I can honestly say I am not bothered by it. I just desire to be like Him, and in that endeavor I quote from Robert Frost, I have “miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep”. Many, many miles.

The Heir of All Things

Heb.1: 1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:
4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
Many times Christians believe that God created all things and that Jesus is somehow just a touch inferior than the Father. That is patently and Scripturally false. Although the inward workings of the Godhead are a profound mystery, to say nothing of the Trinity in and of itself, the Scriptures make it clear that all creation came through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Throughout the world of religion there are many tests of faith.

Some must go on long fasts.
Some must become a church member.
Some must pierce themselves.
Some must walk on hot coals.
Some must pray 5 times a day.
Some must ascend certain steps of knowledge.
Some must perform feats of strength.
Some must go on certain pilgrimages.
Some must jump off a high place with a bungee around their ankle.
Some must wear a burka.

But what is now the modern test for western Christianity?

Back in 1975, after living a life of meaningless debauchery, I was injured in a fight. It was then I began to question the meaning of it all. If there was no god, and if this life was just a collection of molecules moving around in time and space, only to die just like a mosquito, then pleasure must be our only goal. Who said don’t lie? Who said don’t have sex without marriage? Who said do not steal? If there was no god, then all morals are man made attempts to make some sense out of nothing. And if there is a god and we cannot know him, then his existence is irrelevant. Think about it, though. What kind of a deity hides himself and just watches disinterested in man’s calamity?
But, I said to myself and anyone who was listening, if there is a God and I can know Him, then I want to know Him. And that was the beginning of a search which culminated in March of 1975. That was when I was rescued by Christ and came to know this God who not only does exist, but Who died for me so I can know Him.
If there is no god than nothing has meaning except within the miniscule and fleeting moments of the now. All human existence has no more eternal implications than does a rock. We must live for pleasure and for self. Caring for the needy just wastes what little time we have. And if there is no god then church and religion is nothing more than an exercise meant to soothe our consciences. And if you can steal to provide money for your pleasure, and if you can stay out of jail, then steal. If there is no god than humanitarianism is a deceptive waste. You only have several decades of existence and we all must make the most of it for ourselves.
Most of the world says they believe in a god and yet killings and violence and all kinds of perversions flourish. The entire world drifts aimlessly and pretends to seek the same redundant answers year after year. Men with educations and wealth send poor men to do their killing, and they call that freedom. Men with wealth create systems where they can gain more wealth. Nations quarrel and quarrel until war breaks out, and then we start all over again until we reach the same results. Pointless, hollow, and pitifully redundant. But still we claim to believe in the existence of a god.
But if God does exist, then only He can reveal Himself. And if He does desire us to know Him, then what better way than to come and tell us Himself, and as one of us. And so, having been raised in a mainline denomination and being confirmed as a church member, I realized that I was completely lost and I did not know God. Sure the mountains and the oceans and the heavens were evidence of the existence of god, but they were just cold, hard facts with no way to embrace them as god. I never even toyed with pantheism.
But one cold night on top of Garrett Mountain in Wayne, New Jersey I met Jesus Christ. I do not speak of joining a religion or embracing a denomination. I had an encounter with the Risen Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, and so I climbed up that mountain as a lost sinner and I scaled back down a saved sinner. Everything was new and different. Everything had changed. I was as green as grass and I had no earthly idea where to go to church. God was patient with me and little by little I grew as a believer. God subsequently called me to preach.
There was a God, and He has revealed Himself through Jesus Christ His Son. By His amazing grace I had an encounter with the Living God through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. But how many church members today have had such an encounter? How many have been born again, and how many have come to a personal knowledge and relationship with Jesus Christ? I am by no means setting myself up as the example of anything, however I am asking a very poignant question which carries with it eternal implications. If Jesus created everything, and if He is the heir of all things, should not His joint heirs by His grace live lives that must be seen as remarkably different than the run of the mill western culture lifestyle?
All that we know here on earth is coming to en end. When it became evident that the Titanic was sinking, all the passengers acted very differently than they had before that news became factual. So when we say we believe that Jesus will return, and that many signs openly reveal His coming as eminent, how can our lifestyles so closely resemble those who do not believe in Jesus? Millions upon millions of evangelical church members do not have, and perhaps never have had, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
God has in these last days spoken to us by and through His Son. It is our duty and our privilege and our calling to listen and follow Him. The times demand urgency by those who can see the signs. This is no time to remain the same. This is a time to awaken to what the Spirit is speaking to the hearts of those who will listen. The heir of all things will soon come and take hold of all that is His. And to those who by faith were grafted into His family, they will share in what is His victory alone.
But to those who spoke His name with their lips but did not have Him in their hearts, to those will come a fate beyond human words. Far, far beyond human words. Repent, the hour is upon us. The Heir of all things is coming quickly to claim what has been His all along.

Again I reiterate some of the tests and demands on those who follow earthly religions.

Some must go on long fasts.
Some must become a church member.
Some must pierce themselves.
Some must walk on hot coals.
Some must pray 5 times a day.
Some must ascend certain steps of knowledge.
Some must perform feats of strength.
Some must go on certain pilgrimages.
Some must jump off a high place with a bungee around their ankle.
Some must wear a burka.

But what is the test for followers of Jesus Christ? Faith in Him alone, and by that faith you are born again. So how does that faith manifest its reality in the heart and life of a true disciple of Jesus Christ? He believes differently, he thinks differently, he acts differently, and he lives a life sacrificed to the Lord Jesus. He has become a joint heir of all things and things mean very little to him. His desire is to love, please, and worship the Head Heir of all things. He lives for Jesus alone.
Take that test.
You may need to pass it very soon.

The Real Truth About Sin


Jude: 23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

In this verse we have a vivid picture of sin and its consequences. First of all sin demands judgment from the Creator. And this judgment is so immeasurable, so bottomless, and so eternally violent that it is to be feared at all costs. You do not desire such a portrait of God? You desire a more tepid and palatable deity where everyone’s sin gets a wink?

Acts 17: 29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.
30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

God has been merciful to mankind in not destroying us already. Luke uses the word “winked” but it denotes a patient overlooking. It means that God knew that Calvary was coming and He was long suffering with man’s sin, including man making God into material things like gold and silver or anything that man makes and enjoys. But now. after Jesus has suffered for the sins of the world, God is calling men to repent. We may see prophetic signs hinted at in the Scriptures, but the sign that God deems significant is that Jesus has died and resurrected. We may misread some prophetic events, but whosoever ignores or misreads the gospel is doomed.

And now all who stand outside the Ark of God’s redemption are standing in the middle of God’s judgment, all because of sin. It is very difficult for us to really get a complete understanding of just what sin is and what it has done. We say sin is disobedience to God and His truth, and that is somewhat accurate. However it goes much, much deeper than that. Sin is a manifested birth delivered from a heart teeming with unrighteousness. Sin begins in the heart and grows until it cannot be contained. Sin tempts us and calls out to a kindred spirit within our hearts. And when sin has made a connection, and if it is welcomed and entertained within us, it must come out as a living deed, and when it does it brings with it its brothers and sisters. But only one of these siblings can eventually kill its parent.

Sin is diabolic and crafty. It seems to have a recycling energy that grows in power and scope when it is allowed to flourish. It masquerades as many things including suggesting it serves God. It parades as works or righteousness. It comes disguised as a spokesman for God. In fact, it speaks and falsely identifies itself as the voice of God. It accuses others while excusing itself. Sin treats people as marionettes, although we all are willing participants. Through Adam sin entered into the world, but do not rise up and blame him since we have energetically followed in Adam’s footsteps and day by day added to the portfolio of sin we were born with. In the words of Jacob Marley, Adam gave us a chain to be sure, but we have diligently added to it link by link and now it is a ponderous chain indeed.

Sin is not a benign act of disobedience. It is not an innocuous act of rebellion that can be easily reversed. Sin is a direct and open act of treason toward God that calls into question His authority. Sins are arrows of warfare against the Creator and they leave a trail of death and destruction in each and every sinner. They attack the very character of the Creator God and in essence make man his own god. And most of all sin is death, eternal death. It is no trifle, and one seemingly insignificant bite of one piece of Eden’s fruit plunged the entire world into spiritual death. Sin kills and destroys, and because of sin every person born lives with the sentence of death over his life.

But since it is most unpleasant to think on such things, the human race has invented all sorts of religious cures which cannot save at all. In fact, the church has taken the Christian faith and defanged its message and made much room for sin. Even today you have millions of people who sit under preaching that never deals with sin and never deals with redemption. And thousands upon thousands of preachers are careful never to arouse fear in their hearers. They are false prophets who speak great and flowery messages that one day will be revealed as vacuous sand castles of religion which tickled the ears of sinners but never revealed the gospel at all. But many people have come to faith in Christ because they felt afraid for their souls.

Look again at the phrase “hating even the garment spotted by the flesh” in the latter part of verse 23. This is a metaphor not often comprehended by the occidental mind. It pictures a healed leper who discards his garments that are contaminated by that disease. Put simply it implies that after a person is saved he should discard the life that has contaminated his entire being. Theologians call that sanctification, and it means that after we are born again we enter a process where the Spirit begins to clean up our lives from the inside. Now no one ever becomes perfect before he dies, but all believers should be in that process.

Before we were saved we sinned with impunity. We embraced and enjoyed our sin. We excused ourselves by comparing ourselves to others and through a complete ignorance before God. Without the Spirit no one can really understand the seriousness of sin. As unbelievers we only desired to sin and not get caught, but as believers we desire to please God. Yes it is a struggle and none of us can claim we live every single second with a thorough passion to be like Jesus. But one of the reason we know we are saved is because we can no longer sin without feeling a conviction within us. Yes, there are believers who enter into sin, but if they belong to God they will endure chastening and sometimes even physical death. That is all in God’s hands.

Fools make a mock of sin. There are many fools within and without of the church. Sin is no trifle. It destroys the life and damns the soul. We live in a culture which loves and practices sin and teaches our children to do likewise. In fact, sin is so rampant and so accepted that anyone who really teaches their children Biblical principles is considered a Neanderthal. Just sit in a park or a mall and watch people walk to and fro oblivious to what will befall them because of sin. And if you really desire to see an open display of sin and hedonism, watch people during the Christmas season. It has absolutely nothing to do with Christ at all. (I will post on that later in the fall.)

So the real truth about sin is this. Sin brings eternal death. But the good news is that Christ can bring eternal life. The whole world lies in the wicked one and stands condemned before God. But that is not our mission or our message. We are not called to delineate the sins of the lost. We are to rebuke sin within the church, but we are to preach the gospel to the lost. The Holy Spirit convicts the sinner of his need of Christ while that same Spirit guides the believer into all truth.

The culture is awash in sin, and the Scriptures make it clear that sin will increase in the end days. In fact sin has been welcomed in the compromised western church. And now believers practice all sorts of things that only several decades ago would have been considered off limits. When I was first saved some of the church was even legalistic about being separate from the world. It was clone-like and we became followers of the law and not the Spirit. However today it seems like most of the evangelical community has become disinterested in any kind of sanctification, and when prosperity came to the culture at large the church by and large became partners in sin with the kingdom of darkness.

We now call the lost the “unchurched”. We never refer to the kingdom of darkness anymore, and satan finds more revelation in Dante than in the church. Hell is an unpleasant taboo while heaven can be assured by mumbling a few sentences. Yes, sin has taken its toll on the church and continues to push boundaries uncharted before now. Sex is now treated by the church as does the world with techniques and intervals and encouragements of all kinds. Preachers even appear in the marriage bed and preach. It is quite the spectacle and it is all a result of sin in the church.

We as individual believers must strive to walk in sanctification and holiness. We will never be without sin in this life and anyone who suggests they are is deceived. But we can press toward the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus. The visible western church has veered so far off course it now practices sin and asks God to bless it. We can no longer depend upon the local a church to guide us and exhort us, and in fact we can no longer trust it to teach us the Word of God. I am sorry, but that’s the way it is today.

Awake to righteousness and sin not. Sin is more devious and more destructive than we could ever imagine. A determination to consume His Word and spend much time in prayer allows us to walk in His power and have victory over sin.