Sunday, September 30, 2012

Devotion to Jesus

Before we can understand what that means we first must come to terms with the definition of the word “devotion”.

Websters: religious fervor; an act of prayer or private worship; a religious exercise or practice other than the regular corporate worship of a congregation; the act of devoting of time and energy; the fact or state of being ardently dedicated and loyal;

Well even the world defines devotion in some profound ways. Notice that Webster does not gloss over the word but gives several penetrating revelations of devotion. We are not speaking of being a baptized church member or giving in the offering plate or having a bumper sticker on your car. None of that can be called devotion since they require very little if any real sacrifice. And we cannot be devoted to Jesus if we do not know who He is and what He requires of us. That must be foundational for any discussion of spiritual devotion.

The Person called Jesus is the Creator of the universe. So many misinformed believe that God (Father) created the universe and Jesus was just there. But the Spirit reveals that Jesus Himself was a participant in all creation.

Jn.1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

This is not just a FYI truth. This is vital to any understanding of Who Jesus was and is, and it completely undermines all the theories that Jesus was not God in the sense that the Father is God. The eternal deity of Jesus Christ must be completely understood or it becomes another Jesus referred to by the Apostle Paul, and that is spiritual death. He was, He is, and He always will be the Most High God. God has revealed Himself in three persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I cannot fully describe the mystery of the Godhead, but the deity of the Son must never be compromised or diluted.

There is no power but that which emanates from the Lord Jesus. He holds and wields all power throughout the universe, and even though things have been placed in a fallen state because of sin, do not for a moment forget that there is coming a day of judgment followed by restoration. And at the helm of that event will be the Lord Jesus.

It is impossible for a human mind to completely understand the breadth and scope of the Person of Jesus Christ. He is beyond our imaginations. But God has graciously given us a revelation of Him through Scripture and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And therein lies the foundation of any devotion for Christ. The Scriptures are an unfathomable gift from God and we are to treat them as if they were spoken right from God’s mouth. In effect, they were. And they are a light unto the path of spiritual devotion. But be aware that over the years the path to devotion has been so watered down because of the cultural diminishment of the Scriptures that most of the church no longer even know what devotion looks like.

Those who would follow Jesus with sacrificial devotion are called to forsake everything.

Lk.14: 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

What a statement. So in order to be a disciple, a devotee if you will, of the Lord Jesus we must forsake all. What does that mean, and why haven’t we been seeking an answer to that question? If we desire to follow Jesus in devotion then why have neglected and ignored His Words as they apply to that very issue? If Jesus said no one can be His disciple if he does not forsake everything, then should it not be essential to discover the meaning of those words? Why isn’t that the driving force of our lives, to forsake everything for Christ?

Well, the western church by and large has jettisoned any hint of that kind of sacrifice and self denial. Being a follower of Jesus now only requires a tepid belief system which is primarily designed to wind up in heaven and not so much for a life lived with remarkable devotion which is completely at odds with the surrounding culture. We have been sold a bill of goods that says Jesus paid a way to eternal life but how we live in this life is up to us. That is not only unscriptural but it is spiritually dangerous. As Charles Spurgeon once said, “We must never rely on our conversion experience, but we should always be turning from sin unto Christ.”

The fast paced culture of success and capitalism has completely altered our understanding of what it means to be His devoted disciple. Imprisoned by the prevailing culture the church has systematically deconstructed the Scriptures and now interprets them through a western cultural prism. In other words, if the Scriptural mandates seem painfully at odds with an average western lifestyle then the Scriptures need to be whittled down and remolded. And now people by the millions love and follow men like Joel Osteen, Rick warren and Rob Bell. And what these and other men teach is not only a diluted form of the New testament, it is completely antithetical with everything revealed in the New Testament.

No longer are people called to forsake all and become a devoted disciple of Jesus. They are now called to get everything and have God become a disciple of them. That is not an overstatement. That is exactly what has happened. God has become the errand boy to fulfill the dreams of professing believers in the western church. And preachers who should be the living example are at least in the upper fourth of their congregations in wealth. And while they play golf and talk incessantly on the phone and have lunches with movers and shakers, the prayer closet is basically bare. And compared with many hard working stiffs, preachers spend more time with their families than many in their flock even though they present a different scenario. One preacher told me to always seem like you’re in a hurry when anyone is watching.

Is that devotion? No wonder the flock is in the slough of despond and is unconcerned with their own spiritual state. They see an example of compromise in the pulpit every Sunday. But devotion to Jesus Christ runs deeper than just these external, perfunctory religious practices. It renders all things as subservient to Jesus Christ, and it in fact dies to all our dreams and aspirations and desires. Contrary to the Osteen lies, God is not interested in promoting your dreams. He calls you to a life that fulfills His will and in that life is eternal glory.

Oh how we have lost our will to follow Him and we have lost any appetite to deny self and lift Him up. Read again the words of Webster. He describes devotion as that which is done separate from the gathering and above that which is practiced by the congregation. That means that the gathering on Sunday morning reveals very little about your commitment to Jesus Christ even though the local church has suggested it is the ultimate litmus test. The depth of your devotion is revealed in what you are and what you do and what you believe when no one is watching. And it is also revealed when you refuse to consume without personal investigation what the preachers and teachers tell you to believe.

And there it is. And it happens to preachers as well. Perhaps 15 years ago I came to a revelation that what I was told to believe in Bible school and by the “orthodox” community was not necessarily true and according to Scripture. And while all my preacher friends remained steadfast in their belief systems, I began a journey which would detach me from the intransigent community called evangelical. It did not mean I would reject what I knew about Christ or redemption, but it did mean that year after year I continued to awaken to the fact that the church had moved away from Christ and His teachings. And just because we could regurgitate certain orthodox doctrines did not mean we were following Christ.

And when I would discuss some of these things with preachers most would admit to some needed alterations, but most were much too afraid and blind to even set out on any journey to investigate what was true and what was not. You can understand that when a man’s family depends upon his support, and that his support comes from his congregation, that he would naturally avoid any upheaval which might jeopardize that situation. I know, I was there. But no man can serve two masters, which is what is rampant in the present local church construct. The man with a large church is given more authority and is deemed to be a better preacher than one who has a small church. And when your church grows you either get a big raise or you move up to a lager church. That is a devotion to consumerism and not to Christ.

So it is the internals which must be devoted to Christ. Do not look around for a myriad of visible examples to which you can set your sights. No, you must read the New Testament as if your life depended upon it. And you must pray without ceasing that the Spirit will both guide you into truth and crucify everything within you that is not of Christ.

So our devotion must be expansive and it must affect every area of our lives. My brother once shared with me about a believing girl he knew in college. He told me she would walk into McDonald’s and ask Jesus what she should order. My brother thought that a little strange, however I mow believe she was closer to devotion than many church leaders.

In the end we must take a personal journey which shuts out the church, and shuts out the things of this world, and desires to shut out the voice of your own flesh. And when we arrive time and time again to that sacred place, we must do business with God and allow Him to do business with us. I cannot overstate the worth of such a place. This is not a physical place but it is much greater than a physical location. This is a place in the Spirit that brings us into God’s presence by grace through faith. This place is a holy place where sins are forgiven and minds are renewed. This a place of revival and restoration. This is place where the Sword of the Spirit slices off that which weighs us down in our journey to Christ. This is a place where His life swallows up ours. This is a place so sacred and so filled with glory that we are surprised by its intensity and arrested by His Person.

This is a place which empowers us to be crucified and surrendered to Him alone. This is a place where things can be revealed to us which cannot be believed in the natural. This is a place where our eyes are opened to things about us that cause us to repent and things about Him that cause us to embrace. This is a place where devotion is deepened again and again and again, until that devotion ends in the reality of eternal devotion.

Spirtual Voter Fraud


Spiritual Voter Fraud - Convincing followers of Jesus that voting accomplishes something for God‘s kingdom.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Governments - Are They Ordained of God?


Rom.13: Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
6 For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

Let us at the outset present what is the semi-orthodox interpretation of these verses. The overarching theme is obey your government because God has put it in place. I realize that is an over implication, but it still is what is generally taught from these verses. But I would like to address certain inconsistencies as well as certain hypocrisies that arise from that interpretation.

If you believe God has ordained every particular government then you must believe God set up Hitler, Stalin, and Mao to name just a few. And if you actually believe that then you are at least consistent with your view of government even if that seems grossly inconsistent with what we know of the heart of God. There is no wiggle room if you suggest God directly ordains all particular governments throughout history. And for all you Republican-esque believers, that means that God has ordained the Obama administration including his infanticide policies.

Again, if that is what you believe than so be it. But if that is your view, then how can you moan about it? How can you say that God ordained the Obama administration and then complain and murmur about it? That either means you really do not believe it or you are a hypocrite. To me that view is preposterous. How can God ordain Hitler and then command us to obey him? And does God suggest that Hitler was a “minister of God to thee for good”? Come on, let us get real here. It is disingenuous with Scripture to take a few verses and make them lord over the preponderance of New Testament teaching.

Even in the Book of Acts believers disobeyed the dictates of the government and went to prison because of it. The Foxes Book of Martyrs is full of believers who were put to death because they refused to obey the government. And if they were not supposed to do so, then that book is about evil doers. The entire notion is unreasonable and at odds with what we know about following Jesus. You cannot follow Jesus and follow fallen, earthly governments as well. We are to be law abiding people who humbly go about living the gospel of light within the culture of darkness.

But read again those verses from Romans chapter 13 and in them you will find no admonition or even suggestion that we as believer participate in government. It seems reasonable to interpret them as God having ordained the concept of human government, but not that He ordains each and every single government. How can we stand for righteousness and believe God ordains unrighteousness? No, human government is ordained by God but of course as in all things man has manipulated it and changed it in order to achieve his fallen goals. God ordained marriage but do we believe God ordained each and every single particular marriage? And do we believe God approves of what has become of marriage?

Luke was a physician but do we believe God has ordained physicians to abort the unborn? Just because God has ordained offices and principles does not mean that man has not taken them and made them his unholy tools and at odds with the divine plan. God ordained and made man with hands but that does not mean He ordained us to use them to commit violence. You see, God ordained human government but man has taken that and made it an affront to God’s holiness and plan. But when possible we are to live quiet lives of humility and grace. And when the government commands us to do that which is against God, we must be willing to humbly refuse. And when the government restricts us from serving God, we must humbly disobey. All things in humility.

But nowhere does God say He desires His people to get involved with the earthly governments of man. It is a noble idea to place believers in government in order to influence it towards God’s desires, but however noble it is not according to the New Testament. When we get invloved with the fallen systems of this world they invariably change us. In fact God seems to specialize in shining His light the brightest through His people when they are persecuted for His sake. Many times the most oppressive regimes have produced the most vibrant expressions of Christlikeness in believers. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. Some of Paul’s epistles were written in prison.

But fast forward to today and here in America. Much of the evangelical community believes it is their duty to participate in this fallen American system. They huff and puff about all kinds of things, money being a mainstay. And every two or four years the church gets all worked up and involved about the politics and their candidates. And when pressed they refer to Romans chapter 13. But that is an inconsistent interpretation, and the American political landscape allows both sides to suggest that there candidates need to be elected. How can believers suggest God elected the present government but only because He couldn’t find enough evangelical votes? The entire concept is illogical and more importantly unbiblical.

II Tim.2: 3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

The third verse not only exhorts us to sacrifice, but defines us as His soldier exclusively. No one can fight for two countries and wear two uniforms. And if we are His soldiers, we wear a different armor and we fight with the weapons of the Spirit and not of the flesh.

But look at verse four. There we find an exhortation to not get entangled with the affairs of this world. Well we know that we are supposed to work and support our families, so what are these “affairs” about which Paul speaks? These are the world’s systems which are trusted by man to effect change. These are not prayer closets, these are not fastings, these are not the gospel witnesses. These are politics and war. And Paul tells us that these do not please Him who has enlisted us in His spiritual army. The governments of man are not the battlefields of God’s army of light. We do battle with the gifts and callings of the Spirit. And our allegiance is to Christ and Christ alone.

Be not deceived, anything earthly that demands our allegiance is antichrist. And it is a great mystery as to how and where the western church has pledged its allegiance to an earthly government while attempting to suggest it still pledges its allegiance to Christ. No man can serve two masters. No man. Can you imagine an earthly soldier storming the beaches of Normandy. And when he reaches France he begins to frequent the French bars and clubs and theatres while the battle still rages. And in a startling display of duplicity, he enlists in the German Wehrmacht because he feels like he can effect change in that wicked army. He would be considered a traitor!

The problem with American believers is that they fail to see the utter duplicity in their enlistment in earthly affairs and specifically this earthly government and the cesspool of politics. And many, if not most, view this nation as beginning as godly and having strayed off course. And that is in fact patently false. Even Israel in 1948 was not a godly nation. So here are millions of professing believers who have been told not to get entangled with the affairs of this world and yet they attempt to wear the armor of light along with the uniform of Americanism. And in effect, they are spiritually AWOL. They have put on the enemy’s uniform and have abandoned Christ. Yes, it is that significant and that diabolical.

And all this stems from two distinct falsehoods. One is the misinterpretation of Romans chapter 13, and the other is the fanciful view of America and its origin. And impacted by those two deceptions, the church which should only live in America has become the American church. America has impacted the church and the church has had precious little impact on America. And the visible church still insists that through political leverage, voter registration, education, Supreme Court appointments, and a massive influx of evangelical participation the tide can be turned. It is a fool’s errand.

Let us return to Christ with our whole hearts, and being clothed with humility, let us live and share the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ.
That, brothers and sisters, is the only answer for each and every soul regardless of which nation they happen to inhabit.



Matt.7: 13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Lk.12: 13 And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.
14 And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?
15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

Lk.20: 45 Then in the audience of all the people he said unto his disciples,
46 Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts;
47 Which devour widows' houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation.

Beware of false prophets; beware of covetousness; beware of the scribes. Perhaps the word of warning to the western church today should be “Beware”. There are all kinds of ravenous wolves and all kinds of temptations and all kinds of deceptions that swirl around us. We can no longer rely on the voice of ordained men to guide and protect us. The shepherds have become blind guides and their voice is little more than wind. But the Spirit warns us to beware.

We live in a day where the faith itself has been altered and changed in order to appeal to the fallen flesh of man. There is little appetite for prayer and fasting. The Word of God is treated like cotton candy. The gathering of saints is for activity and fellowship and not for a sacred convocation to worship the Risen Christ. The entire ecclesiastical construct is a cultural phenomenon and an affront to Almighty God. Nothing is sacred, nothing is holy, nothing is free from the dictates of the culture and the country.

It is important to beware of what is not of Christ, but it is equally important to allow the Holy Spirit to make our hearts a more holy place. Little is said about holiness and many times holiness is defined as not doing certain things. If you do not smoke or drink or go to the theatre you are holy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Holiness is not just a force or an adherence to some set of do’s and don’ts. Holiness is walking in a person. God does not just exhibit holiness, God is holy. His essence, His person, His everlasting presence is holy.

Man knows almost nothing about holiness so he sets about to invent some caricature and calls it holiness. But God has given us an inward place with our bodies that we call our hearts. It is a place where God can dwell by faith in Jesus Christ. In a mystery the Holy Spirit dwells inside of every true believer. Who can know the length and depth of such a mystery? Who can plumb the depths of that power? And how can we walk and live with such little recognition of that Spirit of Holiness within us? This is an amazing truth which should confound the wise and break us into little children who joyfully serve the Most High God!

When was the last time you searched your own heart and invited the precious Holy Spirit to do a complete inventory of all that remains inside your heart? I realize that may be a painful enterprise but there is also a great amount of glory as well. How many pew dwellers live as if there is no God and embrace all kinds of things that are not only foreign to Christ, but they are against everything the Spirit desires to do in us?

So many treat the Christian faith as some sort of Lord of the Rings fairy tale. While they give lip service to Scriptural truth their lives are pulled by the insatiable desires of this life. And the love of this world becomes the driving force behind most of how they think and live. And the local church at which they are members presents no spiritual challenges. They love the pastor and his family and their church provides them with all that they deem necessary to meet the needs of their family. Very little is spoken about meeting the commandments of God and serving Christ through sacrifice and self denial. Most churches advertise themselves as a place where you can get what you want and not a place which will challenge and exhort believers to live and die for Jesus.

I challenge all of us to break up the fallow ground within our hearts and cultivate that place as a sacred place of worship and service. We must resurrect a spirit of prayer which will seem almost fanatical in these days of ambivalence and carelessness. Somewhere along the line the church has lost any semblance of the spirit of prayer and intercession. Unless we return to that altar all our efforts will be of the flesh. If you desire church growth and excitement and crowds then you must be content and even pleased with the American church. But if you desire Christ alone and all other things residual and to His glory then the Spirit will guide you into all truth.

The Lamb of God has triumphed over sin and death and has provided the eternal victory for all who will believe. This is no game and it is not an alternative to the culture. This has eternity riding upon its wings. Awake, awake all you who are asleep! The Creator is ready to return in clouds of glory and in flaming vengeance which will shake the entire planet. Hyperbole? Sensationalism? Overly dramatic? Oh please do not allow your flesh and the deceiver to blind you to the truth. There is coming an event which will strike fear in every heart and will divide all humanity into two distinct and separate flocks.

One flock will be assigned to the evil shepherd who has never cared about the sheep, or should we say the goats. But the other flock will be led into the presence of that Great Shepherd forever. Has the word “forever” lost its sparkle to those who cling to the scraps of the temporal? Or has the church lost not only an eternal perspective, but does she even believe in forever anymore? What a colossal tragedy that a question like that can even be asked.

So what do we do? We must beware of the allurements of this world, and we must look deep into our hearts and lengthen the cords and deepen the stakes of the place where the Spirit resides and seeks to control and guide. God has created the entire universe, and He owns it all. But He seeks those who diligently seek Him and to those He saves His reward. And just what is that reward? Houses and cars? Money and power? Success and influence? Never, a thousand times never!! His reward for those who seek Him is HIM! What on earth can compare with the glory of the Risen Christ and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah??!!

The church has traded a deeper revelation for Him for a deeper revelation of the things of this world. Professing believers have allowed their hearts to be imprisoned by the temporal and in so doing they have surrendered the unspeakable glory of His majesty and the glory of His presence. I do not speak like some intangible mystic who seeks altered mental states, but I do speak about the reality of His endless glory shared to earthlings who have set their hearts upon Him fully and without compromise.

Beware of false teachers. Beware of covetousness. Beware of the modern Pharisees. Beware of settling for a copycat faith that rejects the true. Beware of being content with where you are. Beware of loving anything about this world. Beware of giving your allegiance to anything but the Lord Jesus. Beware of abandoning the prayer closet. Beware of removing the ancient landmarks. Beware of listening to the voices of the flesh. Beware of allowing evil spirits to gain access to your thoughts. Beware of being lethargic in your journey to seek His face. Beware of desiring things. Beware of treating God’s Word as part of a perfunctory daily devotion. Beware of following systems and not Jesus. Beware of having a divided heart.

Beware of taking you eyes off of Jesus even for a moment.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Jesus is For Sale


The western church continues to slide further and further into apostasy. There is no longer any standard at all. I thought that when Glenn Beck was asked to address the students at Liberty University it was a milestone in heresy. But within one year Liberty University has plummeted even further into the abyss of spiritual death. This time they have revealed they no longer practice Christianity, and their associations are a blatant affront to all that is sacred. Money and the capitalist system is now their God.


Donald Trump is a lost sinner and he represents all that is at odds with the way of Jesus. He is a practicing hedonist and filled with self righteousness. But that is to be expected since he has not been born again so he operates by the power of the fallen nature. His god has always been money and how to make it. Recently he has been embraced by some of the prosperity preachers, but now he is welcomed to what used to be an evangelical university. It is only that in name now.

Who would have ever believed such a thing? Who could have imagined that the church would embrace the ways of the heathen in such openness? I mean much of the community of faith lives in and practices and loves the capitalist culture, but they would still would reject Mr. Trump as speaking to the church. And what kind of shepherds would allow wolves to come in and devour the sheep, much less those sheep who believe they are called to ministry? These universities are supposed to be training the next generation of ministers and here they are poisoning their spirits with heathen advise as to how to make money.

And Mr. Trump told the students to make sure they get even with their adversaries. When questioned as to whether that was a Christian principle, a spokesman for Trump said he spoke to Johnnie Moore Jr, who is the campus pastor and here is what he said:

"I conferred with Johnnie Moore at Liberty University and questioned whether Jesus would 'get even.' The answer is 'he would & he did.' Johnny explained that the Bible is filled with stories of God getting even with his enemies, Jesus got even with the Pharisees and Christians believe that Jesus even got even with Satan by rising from the dead. God is portrayed as giving grace, but he is also portrayed as one tough character – just as Trump stated."

Ok, now we have another Jesus and another gospel and another Bible. What is now being taught is completely antithetical to everything that bears the marks of the Lord Jesus. He is now, to them, a way to get wealth, a way to obliterate your enemies, and He is now anything you want Him to be. It is difficult to put into words just how blasphemous all this is. When you have been saved for almost four decades, you have seen firsthand how the church has sold Jesus for a mess of pottage and thirty pieces of silver. And what is at the heart of this apostasy? Nationalism and the love of money.

When Christ returns will He find faith on earth?
Unless He returns soon all He will find is a false church.

Is the Western Church Christian Anymore?


Any unbiased observer would have to come to the conclusion that America never has been a Christian nation. It was formed as a pluralistic nation and has endeavored to provide free expression for almost all religions. If measured in earthly terms, America has strived to live up to her pluralistic principles.

But living within those pluralistic principles is the body of Christ, the invisible and true church of the Lord Jesus. Many believers came to America to avoid persecution as well as establish a beach head for the gospel. That does not make the nation Christian, but it does reveal that since the beginning God has had His witness here. We as believers should not hate America but neither should we love it. We must be the “planting of the Lord” and bear fruit wherever we have been placed just as the Chinese believers should live for Christ in very different circumstances.

So often we have defined persecution in terms of oppression through force, but in reality the evil one brings much temptation through prosperity and with that he persecutes and deceives the church. It is very difficult to remain separate and holy when you live in the midst of a culture of hedonism, pride, and selfishness. If you do not do deep sentry duty you will become affected and infected by the culture. And with each piece of ground you surrender, it paves the way for several more. It is insidious and constricts like a python.

Over the last several decades the church has not only been compromised by the systems and practices of the fallen culture, but she has embraced them and even incorporated them into her own practice. Yes, our thinking has been so altered that we can hardly even recognize sin, much less the accumulative effect of all the little foxes. And when you taste some ice cream you always desire more. And when you experience the accoutrements of a fallen society that relishes in pleasure and self esteem, you desire more and more.

And with each additional layer of compromise the previous layer gets woven into the fabric of the acceptable. Layer after layer after layer forms a thick blanket of deception which strangles out any real spiritual insight. And like Samson of old we do not even realize that our spiritual power is gone because we have traded secrets and lifestyles with the Philistines. But what is the divine directive for believers and the church at large?

Matt.6: 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Col.3: If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Phil.2: 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Phil.2: 14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

These are but a few of the directives given to us concerning how we should live and what we should seek on this earthly journey. Do they seem at odds with a capitalist and hedonist society? They should. But they are God's description of authentic Christianity. This is walking in His steps and in His commandments. The commandments of Jesus, both by word and deed, are far deeper and much more profound than the commandments of Moses. How have we strayed so far? How have we rejected the faith and constructed a monstrosity made after the culture in which we live and not according to Christ in whom we must live?

And millions upon millions of professing believers do not even see a problem. That reveals the extent to which this deception has entrenched itself within the church. Moral crusades, political activities, capitalistic thoughts, America hubris, and problem solving through war have replaced the humble life of a follower of Jesus. Can you even understand what I am saying? Does it sink in yet? I am suggesting that what is being practiced throughout the western culture is no longer Christian. While we argue over whether America is a Christian nation we are blind to a more important and crucial question:

Is the western church a Christian church?

Go ahead and read those few verses I have provided and juxtapose them upon the behavior and practices of the western church. It does not take a linguistic expert to see just how different the New Testament definitions of what God’s church should be from what roams around with His name thinly attached. Through systematic compromises and deceptions the church has been diluted to such an extent that she no longer even seeks Christ, much less serves Him. It is not just a problem, it a disaster of titanic proportions.

A man walks toward a cliff. He does not see the cliff so he continues to walk. He is like a man who jumps from a thirty story building and as he passes the tenth floor he thinks the ride has been alright so far. But here comes another man who warns the walking man that he is walking toward disaster. The walking man looks around and sees no danger. But still the other man warns him. But the walking man sees many of his friends and men wiser than he walking with him. In fact, his loved ones that have since passed walked this same road.

The man keeps walking although he does admit that the path seems to deviate a little from the previous path walkers, but still his pastor and elders and other believers are still walking with him. He does not have the time to really compare this path with the path of the Scriptures, but after all many paths lead to God as long as the path uses the name of Jesus. And he has said the sinner's prayer and is a baptized church member.

You see, the church walks in a spiritual fog and refuses to even take any time to read a Biblical map to see if she is walking on the correct path. "Let the pastor read the map for me", say so many believers. After all he is a nice man who knows Greek and preaches a good message and visited my mother in the hospital. And on and on he walks while those that come after him walk even a little straighter toward the cliff.

The situation is enormous and desperate but yet the church sleeps on. I am convinced that even nobodies like me do not even see the complete extent to which the church has become a spiritual adulteress. But I do know something is very, very wrong. Is it possible that we have strayed so far from following Christ that the western church practices another religion, even though some of terminology is similar. I ask you to consider that possibility.

But even if we see that the path the church is walking is not the path of Jesus, then that only presents a half solution. Just seeing how the western version of Christianity is not Christian only sees the negative. And although that is the first giant step, it must be accompanied by returning to Christ and His life and teachings. But how? And where? And what? These are very pertinent questions that must be answered if we as individual believers are to begin walking the path of true faith in Jesus. But herein lies a great labor of love. Since the church rejects that path we do not have many examples to follow and although the Scriptures are the path, they must be reinvestigate with vigor, brokenness, and repentance. But do not be surprised when you read the Word of God through new eyes that you see things which cannot be. There are many things which will seem outrageous and must be manipulated since accepting them at face value would seem almost incredulous and fanatical. Because the accepted path is so antithetical to the life and teachings of Jesus, this new path will seem so foreign and so archaic.

Be prepared to reject and deny yourself and all that the flesh desires to have and to know. But once the western castle begins to crumble within your heart it will begin a cascade that will call into question things that you once believed were settled law. Yes, this journey is unsettling to say the least. But only the Spirit can minister peace in the midst of much unsettling. And during this journey you will come to a realization and awakening that clearly exposes what you have known about Jesus and how much there remains to know Him personally and spiritually.

Then church is entrenched in their practices and is almost afraid to seek Christ without the dictates of culture, morality, and the accumulation of environmental sculpting. It is much more comfortable to walk a redundant and unremarkable life that costs little, assumes much, and can get by through a pitifully small amount of personal devotion. Ecclesiastical autopilot is all most need and any adjustments must only come when the culture changes. Prayer and fasting? They now are historical accoutrements displayed upon the doctrinal taxidermist’s wall; museum pieces of days gone by which have been pushed out by the demands of a fast paced society.

To completely fall in love with Jesus requires an eye opening event followed by a painful choice. You will see just a first step, but inside your heart you realize there are coming more and more steps that require repentance and humility. And if you remain sincere and relentless you will have to ford some streams that will be uncomfortable and startling. Sometimes the difference between what you have believed and what the Spirit is now showing you will be personally unsettling and publicly embarrassing. And some truths will remain but how you project them must now be completely changed and flushed with humility, mercy, and love. Many things that used to excite you are now hollow and unimportant. Many issues will be dead to you. And there will be times when you question whether the western church is even Christian anymore. That in and of itself is a colossal indictment of what should be the loving and powerful body of Jesus Christ on earth.

Take your heart with all that it desires and all that is in it and place it upon the altar of God’s loving scrutiny. Do not be in a hurry, but allow the Spirit to carefully sift you and try you. And in the end, you should come forth as gold.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

9/26/12 - God is Warning This day


Yesterday President Obama spoke to the United Nations with a message of free speech and global cooperation. It was completely secular in nature as is the tradition of all American presidents. And all those who suggest that America is a Christian nation should take notice. Our leaders only refer to religion in an innocuous sense and never mention the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

But today, September 26, 2012, the President of Iran, Mohmoud Ahmadinejad, spoke to the same United Nations general assembly. Here is a portion of what he said.

"On one hand Marxism is no longer around and is particularly eliminated from the management systems. On the other hand, capitalism is bogged down in a self made quagmire and it has indeed reached a deadlock. And it does not seem to be able to come up with any noteworthy solution to the various economic, political, security, and cultural problems of the world.

But our mission is creating peace and lasting security with decent lives for all although a great and historic mission can be accomplished. Almighty God has not left us alone in this mission and it will surely happen. If it does not then it will be contradictory to His wisdom.

God has promised us a man of kindness, a man who loves people and loves absolute justice; a man who is a perfect human being, and his name is al-Mahdī (12th Imam). A man who will come in the company of Jesus Christ and the righteous. By using the inerrant potential of all the worlds men and women and he will lead humanity to achieving its glorious and eternal ideals.

The arrival of the ultimate savior will mark a new birth, a new beginning, and a resurrection. It will be the beginning of peace and lasting security and genuine life. His arrival will be the end of oppression , immorality, poverty, and discrimination and it will be the beginning of justice, love, and empathy.

He will come to return all children of Adam, irrespective of skin colors, to their innate origin after a long history of separation, linking them to eternal happiness and joy. The arrival of the ultimate savior and Jesus Christ and the righteous will bring about an eternally bright future for mankind, not by force or waging wars, but through thought, awakening, and developing kindness in everyone.

Their arrival will breathe a new life in the cold and frozen hearts and bodies of the world. He will bless humanity with a spring that puts an end to our winter of ignorance with the tidings of a season of blooming. Now we can see and we can sense the sweet scent and the soulful breeze of the spring. A spring that has just begun and that doesn’t belong to a specific race, ethnicity, nation, or region. A spring that will reach all the territories in Asia, Europe, Africa, and America. He will be the spring of all. The justice seekers, freedom lovers, and the followers of heavenly prophets. He will be the spring of humanity and the greenery of all ages. Let us join hands and clear the way for his eventual arrival with empathy and cooperation and in harmony and unity. Let us march on this fact to salvation for the thirsty souls of humanity to taste immortal joy and grace. Long live this spring!"

Iran is much more open and unashamed about their Muslim foundations while America tries not to mix governing with religion. We are pluralistic, they are not. But as you read his words can you feel the Spirit of God stirring up inside you? Many Americans will hear these words and set out to enflame a war against Islam, and in so doing they have completely missed the entire message.

The antichrist may be already on the scene. No one yet knows since he has not been revealed as of yet. But God is speaking and warning through a fallen man who worships a demon. Do we have ears to hear or do we still see things through the prism of America? The time is now and the clarion call is unmistakable. When will we fall on our faces and repent? Not America, but the church! This is no joke. This is not being sensational or melodramatic. The coming of Jesus Christ is at the doorstep and for all who have ears to hear we must embrace the voice of the Spirit. Demon possessed men boldly proclaim the coming of the 12th Imam while the leaders of the so called “Christian nation” talk about replacement referees.

But the church remains asleep. While we play some contrived game of global Risk the enemy continues to sow seeds of deception. And when men call for peace there will come sudden destruction. This wicked Iranian President spoke more clearly about his Muslim faith than Joel Osteen and Rick Warren and Rob Bell and Barak Obama have altogether. And those who hear can see that God is using the tongue of a mule to warn us.

I do not embrace some Mayan calendar, but when a Muslim speaks to the world about a coming man of peace, and mentions the Lord Jesus Christ, let us be driven to our knees and to the Word of God. Do not relegate it to politics or foreign affairs. There is something much more urgent going on here. The time we all say we believe and welcome is upon us. Even the heathen in their ignorance speak words of prophetic reality. We all have been warned. We all are responsible.

Today if you will hear His voice…

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Elephant in the Room


Another preacher once asked me which version of the Bible I support. I told him I usually preach and teach from the KJV, but I read most of them. I then added, “I encourage people to pick a version and obey all of it”. My point was that we have far outdistanced our obedience with our Bibliology, inerrancy, and original language credentials. There are many, many more arguments over the six day creation doctrine than there are about how to manifest the love of God in our lives.

The arguments over inerrancy far outdistance any substantive discussions over how to minister to the poor around the world. And on and on it goes. We have become obsessed with all kinds of doctrinal points, some very important, while we neglect the weightier issues altogether. The heart of the law is mercy, and yet where are the conferences about mercy? You have a segment of evangelicals which loudly suggest that parts of the Mosaic Law are still in effect, and yet their argument never centers around mercy. Many desire the Ten Commandments hung on school walls, but where are the hordes demanding "God is love" be hung?

With all the doctrines about the Bible and the teachings of Scripture, here is the elephant in the room: How closely and passionately do we live those teachings? Orthodoxy has been whittled down to proof texts and systematized theologies, but as it pertains to living proofs, well, they remain as unspoken and not directly tethered to what we believe. That is not only a problem, that tears at the very fabric of what defines a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. What we believe has muscled out how we live what we believe.

The Scriptures have become a resource for doctrine instead of a living and breathing spiritual mandate that now only directs but empowers. We arrive at all sorts of truths by comparing texts with other texts and lining them up in a neat little organized doctrine, but where are the doctrines that emanate from a living disciple and provide empirical evidence within and without the community of faith? Why must we rely solely upon a set of written treatises? Why don’t we carry God’s truth inside living epistles that provide remarkable manifestations of those truths? Succinctly and profoundly, why don’t we live and speak like Jesus?

This is no small question. If this has become a minor issue than what in God’s name have we constructed? And if that is not the core of our theology, then what theology are we practicing? And there it is. We outline our theology with linguistic efficiency and with those written statements we prove our Biblical orthodoxy. But as it pertains to how we live the life outlined clearly in the New Testament, that is up for debate. If someone is a member of an evangelical church and is faithful to attend and give and vote, that person is stamped a “disciple”. But where does the New Testament teach that as the template?

You see, the life of Jesus is used to exhort, albeit through a diluted cultural prism, while the writings of Paul are used as the foundation for our faith. My theology is definitively Pauline, however there is much more to being a Christian than just nodding approval to a certain set of doctrines. And it has become more and more unsettling to hear evangelical believers show such little concern for the poor, the weak, the wandering, the least, and the lost. Just giving pro-life lip service does not mean you are concerned with the poor and defenseless.

Can a Christian be separated from what he does and exist overwhelmingly on what he believes? Is that the teaching of Jesus or the New Testament? No one can honestly suggest that yet that is exactly what we teach and allow. The world knows nothing of Christian doctrine except what it sees and experiences through the lives of professing believers. When Jesus said we are to be salt and light did He mean in our statements of faith? Was He referring to the revelation of our lives? And if it is the latter, then we must enter into a long overdue discussion of how a believer should speak, feel, and live. There now are two communities of faith. One that sits in the pew, and one that is unremarkable within the culture. And those two communities are comprised of the same people.

The culture has invaded our thinking over and over again until we began to dilute the Scriptures in order not to make them appear fanatical. So in the last several decades as American post war prosperity began to explode and entertainment became the driving force of the culture, the church had to make a choice. That choice had to be made either with knowledge, or it became a choice by default. The entire church structure began to change. The pastor became more like a CEO and he was paid accordingly. His pastoral resources expanded and he had many sermon tools at his disposal. Slowly but surely his position took on roles that never were part of a Biblical shepherd.

He was now a fund raiser and building inspector. While his teaching ministry shriveled in depth, his counseling expanded. And his preaching became less and less Christocentric and now was a rehashing of his counseling. And as his flock became consumed with aspects of the culture and the success it promised the pastor evolved into a “how to” guide who took Biblical principles and wove them into directions for western success. The entire ministry became about the individual and not about Christ.

And just as alluring and imprisoning was the lure of numbers. Many churches were in debt, and the pastor sometimes did not live within his means. The challenge was to “build a church” and not feed the sheep. And when you seek to build a great church with large numbers then compromise becomes a well used tool regardless of how clandestine it seems. Your messages are tailored to meet what the people want. And since you are attempting to bring in more and more members you certainly avoid chasing any away.

And as this process was in full force something material to the cause of Christ became a causality. The definition and revelation of what a disciple is and should be was completely revolutionized. In fact, most times it was ignored. Self denial and sacrifice were considered obstacles rather than sweet smelling offerings to the Lord Jesus. Trials and tribulations were always of the devil and never tools of God to refine our faith into fine spiritual gold. Western boldness replaced spiritual humility. Sinners were considered enemies of our culture rather than objects of our tears and compassion.

And many times we were clever enough to retain the orthodox structure of our theology. Yes, in an incredible act of doctrinal slight of hand the church was able to outwardly embrace Biblical truths that were literal indictments of our lifestyles. Can you imagine such an accomplishment? Biblical teachings upon teachings were open rebukes to the accumulated discipleship violations that ran rampant throughout the western church members. But the church behaved as if they saw nothing wrong and continued on a path to more and more compromises and cultural friendships. Oh God, how could this happen??

Abortion and homosexuality were invited to become the western hobby horses in order to both conceal our own sins and also to soothe our consciences. The evil one had deceived the church and the western church delighted in that deception. She still does. And it isn’t just the liberal and emerging variety that are being led into deeper and deeper deception. It is also thousands upon thousands of “orthodox” churches as well. The entire construct is completely at odds with everything Jesus lived and taught and yet we still not only remain blind, but we even refuse to investigate.

It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled -- Mark Twain. E

Why is that so? It is because for someone to admit they have been fooled they have to swallow their pride. To say “I was wrong” is a bitter pill to swallow but it also can be the spiritual gate to freedom. What am I saying? I am saying that there is a bull elephant in the room. Not some minor adjustments. Not some more excitement. And even not just rejecting politics and nationalism, although they are major strongholds. I am saying that we must take a vulnerable and humble look into what the Scriptures say and passionately juxtapose them upon what we now believe and practice. In old fashioned terms we need a sweeping revival that places everything under the scrutiny of God’s Spirit, most especially us.

But if that prospect does not challenge you or even frighten you somewhat, then you do not realize the scope and depth of the spiritual surgery needed. And here is what I believe can be a first step. As I have said before, read Matthew chapters five through seven several times. Fast for a day if you can and read it through many times. Listen to the Spirit’s teaching. Receive them literally regardless of how incredible their application might seem. Pray much. Take your time. Pray much. And if the Holy Spirit allows you to see things that have been hidden before, remember them and embrace them. Pray much.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Nationalism - Marginalizing God's Word


The concept of nationalism and patriotism create all sorts of ways in which God’s Word is marginalized. And although I am going to list some ways, these are basically ways that are Biblically wrong but do not fully address how these ways are barriers to believers to do what is Biblically right. Perhaps I will address those in a later post.

But there are many, many ways in which nationalism and patriotism directly marginalize the principles and teachings of God’s Word. In effect, it places allegiance to an earthly country higher than allegiance to Christ. Here are but a few, but contained in each of these are many separate tributaries that lead directly to the idol of national allegiance.

* It stems from a desire for monetary prosperity.

Matt.6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

* It encourages violence as a way of protecting a certain level of this earthly life.

Matt.5:38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

* It creates an unbiblical connection with unbelievers.

II Cor.6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

* It encourages complaining about our circumstances.

Phil.2:14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

* It suggests that the gospel is not the exclusive vehicle for cultural change.

Matt.23:25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.

* It leads to many levels of discontent.

I Tim.6:7 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.

* It places sinners in different man made classifications.

Rom.23:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

* It openly and subtly suggests that American lives are worth more than others.

* It makes us demand certain things for ourselves.

* It elevates earthly freedom on a similar level as spiritual freedom.

* It creates an unbiblical sense of pride.

Rom.12:3 3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

* It endorses a governmental system which places Jesus with other gods.

Jn.14: 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

* It makes a desire for more money a central concern.

I Tim.6: 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.

* It openly suggests that America’s wars are God’s wars.

* It allows men and women to inflate their resumes and attack the resumes of their opponents.

Pr.27: 2 Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.

* It causes believers to support carnal and sometimes wicked men and women.

I Tim.6: 3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

* It endorses the great lie about the founding fathers.

* It is a clandestine form of humanism.

* It makes people like Muslims or Iranians enemies and not lost sinners.

* It plays favorites based upon moral perspectives or national citizenship.

* It treats illegal immigrants as illegal immigrants.

Ti.3: 3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,

* It build monuments to the glory of men.

* It spends obscene amounts of money to gain political power.

I have purposely left a space below some of my statements. Can you fill in the blanks?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Appealing to Conservatives

This guy has found a way to influence some conservatives to help the poor!

Patriotic Idolatry


Although I often disagree with Ken Sila and the site called Apprising Ministries, this post is very appropriate. It reveals where nationalism almost always leads.


Ten Paradoxical Truths


* The overwhelming majority of evangelical believers will help the poor and needy much more through their taxes than they do personally.

* Many believers complain about their taxes going to the poor and needy but they support an increase in military spending.

* Jesus commanded His followers to pay taxes to the heathen and brutal Roman regime without qualifications or complaining.

* The love of money whispers in our ear that most poor and needy people live where they are and therefore do not deserve a handout.

* Our ancestors came here and eviscerated the indigenous people but we need to send anyone who is here illegally back to where they came from.

* Christians have received God’s grace without works but we demand some level of morality or work ethic before we show grace and generosity to others.

* If we could only transform the culture through legislation and political leverage we could enjoy Christ much better.

* We punish our children when they lie but we vote for lying adults.

* Everyone manipulates the Constitution to say what they want it to say, and much of the church embraces the same process with the Bible.

*Our statements of faith say that Jesus died to provide eternal life for sinners, but our actions suggest He died to force the Judeo-Christian ethic on hell bound sinners.

It seems like we are caught in a spiritual Groundhog Day. As Sonny and Cher once quipped, "The beat goes on...".

Friday, September 21, 2012

Boycotts - A Petty Spectacle

This is where boycotts lead.

It is late in the afternoon and the lifeless body of the man Jesus is pried from two Roman planks. His blood is everywhere, and the stench of blood and sweat and death is almost overwhelming. They perfumed the body, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a borrowed tomb. The greatest life that had ever graced the earth was now dead, but the most powerful sacrifice was now complete. The strength of sin had been broken, and death had been vanquished.

Until the Holy Spirit would come, no one could fully comprehend what or why this had happened. Almost no one fully knew who this man was. Many thousands of men had died upon the planks of crucifixion, but no one had died like this man. He had given everything even though He had owed nothing. His followers were filled with a mixture of fear and despair. They had followed Him with hopes of deliverance, but now He was gone.

Many centuries later His followers know that His death would be greeted in three days with a glorious resurrection. And aided by the written revelations of Scripture, along with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can at least view His sufferings and death with more understanding and with the eyes of redemption. But we will never completely understand the depth and scope of His sufferings. Yes we understand them in doctrinal terms, and yes we can even understand the word “suffering”, but while we are on this side of eternity we can never fathom the length and breadth and height and depth of the love of God that flowed through those sufferings.

But on the day of Pentecost the precious Holy Spirit descended and inhabited the first New Testament believers. They were filled with boldness and power and not 90 days after the death of their Master they flooded into the streets and preached Jesus fearlessly. Some on that day would later meet their death in His name. Throughout the ages believers from all over would be scourged and tortured and hung and crucified and put to death simply because they gave witness to the Lord Jesus. Only God knows those who trembled but boldly spoke His name as they were burned at the stake.

The Foxes Book of Martyrs contains many first hand accounts of those whose death brought glory to the Savior. One man had told his fellow believers that as he was burned at the stake that he would raise his hand toward heaven even while being engulfed in the flames. He was brought and fastened to the stake, and the wood was lit. It is said that it was a windy day and the flames grew unusually fast. In fact, the fellow believers were sure that the flames had already immobilized their brother if not in fact caused his quick death.

But as they watched they gasped! That believer, shrouded in flames, lifted up his right hand toward heaven and it quickly fell to his side once again. No one could believe it, and God used that as a witness to many unbelievers watching that day. To even imagine such a thing is breathtaking. And then there is the story of Blandina which I have posted about here. And I have seen missionaries whose family had been attacked in a church in Pakistan almost lose their little boy and whose mother will always walk with a limp. But two years later and many, many months in a German hospital, they rose to praise the grace of God in our church and asked for prayers as they prepared to leave once again and be used of God to reach the same people with the gospel.

People like Joni Erickson Tada has suffered infirmities with grace and an open witness to God’s strength. All over the world, even today, believers have their lives in jeopardy because of their witness for Jesus Christ. And thousands upon thousands of bodies are now nothing more than ashes in the ground having given their lives for Christ but no one even knew. There is a long red line of blood shed by the witnesses of Christ that remains today. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.

But in America, buying chicken sandwiches because some entrepreneur said he believed in traditional marriage is pawned off as taking a stand for Jesus. Petty, pitiful, embarrassing, and a blatant lie indeed. The western church has completely lost its way and without a mighty move of God’s Spirit it will never find its way back to Jesus. The cross-less game of moral badminton has energized the flesh and led us into a colossal departure from all that is sacred and holy.

But in the meantime, we can enjoy chicken sandwiches and talk ourselves into believing we are following in His steps. Perhaps we can chew on those sandwiches while we gaze at the cross. May God forgive us for the monstrosity we have made and called it “following Jesus”.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Power of the Insignificant


Mk.12: 41 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:
44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

In the western culture big is better and number two is a loser. The list of the fifty wealthiest people draws much attention. The sports figures with the greatest statistics make the record books. Wealth is power, and wealth is influence. When a wealthy person speaks it carries weight in the public square, while the grandmother who is faithfully raising her drug addicted daughter’s children is ignored if not mocked. The entire culture is built upon the colossal, the grandiose, and the power of wealth and influence.

But that system cannot be found in the kingdom of God. Nowhere. This story of the lowly widow and how her contribution, albeit insignificant in the quantitative sense, was very significant to the mind and heart of Jesus. In fact, Jesus said that her contribution was more significant qualitatively than all the contributions of the rich. And therein lies an important principle as we view things in God’s kingdom. The quiet faithfulness of the non-essential peon may well be more impressive to God than the boisterous self advertisement of the company bosses. And while the television pastors and the mega-church leaders go on Larry King as some kind of spiritual experts, the humble old widow faithfully teaches her Sunday School class and plants seeds of faith within obscure people.

No pomp, no circumstance, and very little recognition upon this earth for such as these. No tickets for a “christian cruise” on Pastor’s Appreciation Day. This widow must trust God to make ends meet, but still her face shines with contented joy. Her opinion is worthless in the marketplace of the opinionated. She prays daily for her family and a small group of missionaries she knows. She prays for her pastor, many times while he is on the golf course with other movers and shakers. Only God sees her, and many of her family never call and never inconvenience themselves with a trip to see her.

She has a drawer of keepsakes which are nothing but junk to everyone else. But still her faith in Christ is strong as she struggles to get out of bed every morning. She never feels completely strong and healthy. Without Medicare she would have died. But many in her church rail loudly against these social programs even though they are completely unwilling to provide the same services themselves. She cannot afford to enjoy the same level of air conditioner that necessitates a sweater in the church auditorium.

While she hears so many loudly support certain political candidates and call others certain names, her focus is far from what seems to electrify others. She loves her little dog and she studies her Sunday School lesson plan with prayer and seriousness. No one will ask her opinion on anything. The prayer life of such an old widow is appreciated on some level, but it is treated as peripheral in light of the important issues of finances, building programs, musical pageants, conferences, and a long list of activities which attract the younger and more modern set.

Yes, in the eyes of the world, including the ecclesiastical world, she is most insignificant. She may not attract the attention of man, but the eyes of the Lord are upon her. One day she falls asleep and never awakens. The angels have escorted her into the presence of her Redeemer. She falls on her face before Him in her new body. The blazing eyes of the Risen Christ look upon her. His lips part, and all of heaven hears the voice of the Savior say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”

This one little and insignificant woman is now recognized before all creation. The power of the insignificant has now been revealed. And what is this we see? She has laid many crowns before the Lord while so many important preachers can only watch from behind their wood, hay, and stubble. So keep serving, keep praying, and keep your eyes upon Jesus because in the end, it’s His significance which will make your work significant.

Pro-life Lip Service

(And Very Little of That as Well)

The overwhelming issue in this election has to do with money. Taxes and entitlement and Medicare and jobs and etc., etc.. So when was the last time you heard the “pro-life” candidate speak forcefully and passionately about abortion? No one really cares about that. They only care about the duped pro-life vote. How blind people can be.

Giving to Missions

Giving to Missions
I was asked to repost this information.

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

Uttermost Parts FellowshipP.O. Box 61
Crystal Springs, Fl. 33524

God bless.

Go Into All the World and Redistribute

My previous dog loved to chew on a bone as do most dogs. But if anyone dared to take it from him, even for a moment, he would bite that hand. Most Americans are fully in love with their money and possessions. Let someone attempt to take anything from them and they will respond with predictable aggressiveness. And Americans certainly do not want the government taking our taxes and helping the poor and needy. “Oh but it’s not the poor and needy to which we object,” you say. “It’s the sluggards and deadbeats.” OK, I will deal with that wonderful Christian attitude later.

But the word “redistribution” has popped up again, so let me outline a pattern of redistribution on some level from God’s Word. I’m just guessing, but perhaps as we obey these verses and their principles some undeserving poor people will surely slip through.

Matt.19:21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
Lk.14: 12 Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. 13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:
14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.

II Cor.9: 9 As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.

Gal.2: 9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.

Jam.2: 6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?

Jam.2: 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

Prov.19: 17 He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.

Acts 4:33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
35 And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

There is much talk about “redistribution” in the political realm these days. Socialism and communism and all sorts of terms are meant to demean. The word redistribution is meant to infer a socialist mentality. Now here is where we as believing followers of the Lord Jesus must pause and sift everything through the teaching of Scripture. Nowhere in the New Testament are we exhorted to gain much wealth, in fact we are consistently warned against accumulating great wealth. We are commanded not to lay up treasures upon this earth, however those kinds of commands are pushed out to make room for a more capitalist mindset.

But to hear professing believers squawk about seeing their hard earned tax dollars go to poor and needy people, well that reveals a significant ignorance about the life and teachings of Jesus. Just the few verses I shared openly reveal a spiritual place for wealth that goes against this capitalist system. In fact, it reveals that the heart of God desires for His children to take care of the poor. The prevailing American theory of capitalist believers is that they should not be forced to care for the poor. It should be voluntary.

Oh please, who are we kidding? Can we really say with a straight face before God that we object to our money going to the poor because it isn’t voluntary? But yet we give our taxes to sports stadiums and roadway beatifications and parks and stocking lakes with fish, but when it comes to giving to the poor we murmur and complain? What kind of Christianity is that? It isn’t. Oh I know why we complain. It’s because our finances are so stretched because we give so much to the poor personally that there is no room to give anymore. And we believe God is going to buy that lie?

I do not vote, but if I did I could not vote fore President Obama or Mitt Romney. But as I hear how people castigate the notion of redistributing wealth I am forced to assume millions have no sense of the Spirit of God. To see and hear evangelicals spill their guts over having to share some of their wealth is an incredible spectacle and completely misrepresents the heart of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. How many meals have you missed in the last ten years because you have given all your money away to the poor? How many among us have never gone out and eaten in a restaurant in these last ten years? A sports event? A movie? A vacation? So what you are saying is that you fear that the entertainment aspect of your life may be constricted if you give to the poor?

The only way to avoid being found a hypocrite is to openly contend that God’s way is capitalism and entertainment for His people even if others suffer. Again, try and slip that one by the Father. And even more stark and disturbing, juxtapose that mindset upon the cross. Somewhere along the line we have lost all sense of spiritual direction and we now not only grasp harder and harder on this life, we fight alongside of unbelievers to secure it. This is not the faith revealed in Scripture.

We have even heard a recording attained surreptitiously where Mitt Romney openly demeans and disparages the poor, and even with this evidence believers still support him? And in a startling display of self righteousness, that is supposed to be the values party? The Democrats do not care about the unborn and the Republicans do not care about the poor. Go ahead, cast your vote for either one and then bring your gift to the altar. God will understand you were forced to choose the one who denies His Son and accumulated great wealth at the expense of others. Or you chose one who supports infanticide. God will understand, you must bow to the dictates of this fallen world.

But what if these poor people do not use their money correctly? Oh, you mean like us sometimes? God gives us air and yet sometimes we expel that air with caustic words of condemnation or complaining. Does that mean God should withdraw His air since we do not always use it correctly? Do you see how selfish we are and how we judge others who do things that we ourselves do as well? But yet we attempt to project ourselves as productive members of a capitalist culture consumed with pleasure, entertainment, and self worth. You know what? In that we are completely accurate. But self denying disciples of Jesus Christ? Perhaps we would have more success finding Sequatchie.

But Jesus earned redemption through His suffering and the shedding of His blood, and the very last thing he commanded of us is to go into all the world and redistribute that redemption. I for one am glad that deadbeats and miscreants and undeserving sinners were not excluded. That would have left me without hope.

Redistribution? They better read the 2nd Amendment before they come for my money. Jesus has prospered me enough to bear arms and protect my wealth. It’s God’s way, read your Bible! The love of money is the root of all evil. “But I don’t love money, I just want more”. Still searching for the Christian faith.