Saturday, March 31, 2012

But in the End, We Grieve
Those of us who by God’s grace have come to see and identify the heresy and the apostasy in the western church continue to speak out. Sometimes we name names, and sometimes we speak about truth. We often mention spiritual practices that compromise, and we often mention issues of power, violence, and money. There is an abundance of material with which to deal, and hopefully our words are taken as warnings. We will continue to speak, warn, and plead.

But in the end, we grieve. We grieve over deceived brethren that are walking a path of compromise. We grieve over the abject hedonism and greed that so often is exhibited by professing believers. We grieve over the massive divorce rate among believers and even preachers. We grieve over the state of our young people who were born into a diluted brand of Christianity.

We grieve over how the Word of God has been maligned and treated with so much disrespect. We grieve over the complacency about the lost in favor of how we can advance our own personal agendas. We grieve over millionaire preachers whose example has led many astray. We grieve over how the exclusivity of Christ has been challenged and eroded in our churches. We grieve over how much money it takes to run even the smallest local church.

We grieve because we have become prisoners of the culture and not prisoners of Christ. We grieve because violence and war is now embraced as part of God’s kingdom. We grieve when the plight of foreign missionaries is given so little attention and concern. We grieve when we see entertainment become the focal point of a worship service. We grieve because some of our friends distance themselves from us because we cannot remain silent.

We grieve when the communion service is streamlined to fit into a schedule. We grieve when sinners are told they are born again simply because they repeated a prayer. We grieve because the cross is no longer the center of Christ’s ministry. We grieve when adultery is rampant among professing believers. We grieve when the church castigates sinners rather than love and pray for them. We grieve when preachers spend more time golfing than they do praying.

Oh yes, we attempt to expose errors in doctrine and practice. And we speak out against the deepening compromises in the western church. We confront them with Scriptural truth. We contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. We do all that and more.

But in the end, we grieve.
Your House is Left Desolate
Acts 2:42-47 - And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Acts 3:1 - Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

Acts 4:29-37 - And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,
30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.
31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
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.
36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,
37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

Acts 6:4 - But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

Those who say they believe in Jesus and are followers of His life and teachings do not have the luxury, much less the authority, of creating their own spiritual practices and calling them Christian. It is disingenuous, misleading, and even deceitful to give lip service to the Christ while constructing a religious practice that ignores large portions of His Word and even openly practices things that are at odds with that same Word. But that is precisely what much of the western church has done.

The evangelical expressions of the gathering we call church are the source of the spiritual independence that continues to stray from the Scriptural mandate. And when the foundational institution is significantly flawed and is infecting those flaws throughout the body, then the individual believer ultimately lives with a bastardized expression of a disciple of Christ. Like a computer virus, the infected teachings and practice that claim to be of Christ but are not, affect every area of the church collectively and individually. It is most sad and hurtful, and it grieves the Spirit as well as openly displays another Jesus.

Do not assume that this phenomenon is relegated to the Osteens and Warrens and Bells of the evangelical world. No, this contamination is widespread in the west and has infiltrated even the most “orthodox” of ecclesiastical expressions. And in an ingenuous deception, the enemy of our souls keeps the most orthodox groups in their own bondage by using the most grievous spiritual offenders as blinders within the so called orthodox community. In essence, when we in the orthodox community become obsessed with false teachers we slowly but surely lose the energy and indeed the perception needed to see and address our own Scriptural compromises. Our discernment of others, regardless how Biblically correct, becomes a stumbling block in our own corporate and individual spiritual lives.

And this kind of deception only accumulates more deception when practiced over numerous generations. And we are reinforced in our own deceptions by comparing ourselves with ourselves, and by seeing how Biblical we are in comparison to the compromises and even apostasy of others. And human idolatry, which is prevalent with the church, is another form of reinforcement. The church has its favorite teachers and preachers, and not only are we willing to give great credence to what they teach and say without much personal investigation, but we are willing to make them rich. We hold their personages in great admiration.

And if I were to list the names of the men and women in the west who have gained a following it would number in the hundreds and perhaps thousands. And their following numbers in the millions. Believers by the millions watch “Christian” television and remain ignorant that all the different programs teach something at odds with each other, and most of them teach another gospel and another Jesus. Indeed, Christian television has become a gold mine for preachers and a disgrace to the cause of Christ.

But the absurd, lavish lifestyles of the more famous preachers should not blind us to the way the average local assembly lives and believes. Even though the volume of prosperity is less, and even though many preachers would reject the so called “prosperity message”, the local church in general practices a form of the same. The believers have come into the local church with a culturally disfigured view of Biblical truth, and that perspective creates a fissured foundation whose cracks widen with every decade. So the Person of Christ as expressed through the church and His people becomes little more than a culture of religion that is known primarily by their moral views, which are usually one or two main issues. Obviously divorce and remarriage is not one of them.

And since people are in great debt to the world’s financial system, compromise is inevitable. And since the people are in great debt, they have little difficulty approving great debt for the church as well. And billions of dollars of mortgage interest given by God’s people go back into a fallen system and are used by that fallen system to fund all sorts of antichrist systems. And this is what we say is God’s will and way? Can we even say that with a straight face anymore? Take another look at my original verses.

There seems to be an indication that the early believers were in financial covenant with each other, even to the degree that the wealthy sold their wealth in order to minister to the believing poor among them. Now think about that for a moment. How often do we appeal to the early church fathers to understand some church doctrine, but we seem to gloss over this early practice? Let us say for arguments sake that Jesus does not desire the church today to mirror what they did in Acts. I am not willing to say that with full conviction, but let us assume that for now. But even if we are not to have all things in common anymore (Can you imagine even implying such a thing in the west? There would be violence in the sanctuary!), do not these verses provide for us the heart of God concerning wealth and material things? Even if we are not to sell all our earthly goods, how should what the early church did, recorded and published by God’s Spirit, affect what we believe about wealth and what we practice in the community of believers?

I am fully convinced that at the heart of nationalism and patriotism in America is the love of money. It is at the very core of the “American Dream”. And the church has embraced such a notion and changed the way we believe and changed the way we exhibit our faith and the Person of Christ. And today, that which should be obviously unbiblical and at odds with all the Jesus taught and lived, is embraced and practiced by thousands upon thousands of local churches who name His name. How in God’s name can that be? How did we get so far off course?

And this deep compromise is not hidden under layers of deception that are not easily unearthed. No, the compromises and blatant Scriptural disobediences by the western church are obvious to anyone who has not been blinded by culture and by years of systematic indoctrination by false teaching and by false practice. Give a Bible to a new believer with absolutely no Biblical knowledge or history, and ask him to read the New Testament through and through for two years. And after he has done so, ask him about how the church and the individual believer should live within this hedonistic culture.

Ask that believer about debt. Ask that believer about Christian cruises. Ask that uninfected believer about staff salaries and personal sacrifice. Ask him about capitalism. Ask him about national allegiance and pluralistic democracy. Go ahead, ask him. And when I suggested that scenario to one of the leading Christian teachers in America, his astonishing reply was, “That is why we need teachers.” What!?!? Look at what he is saying. He is suggesting that an uninfected and virgin view of the Scriptures must be brought into conforming with the majority by teaching him what we believe and how we practice it. And unconsciously, that man has identified the very crux of the problem.

So I am openly contending that the western church by and large no longer practices the teachings of the New Testament. I am contending that the culture in which we live has so affected and infected our lifestyles, as well as our thought processes, that we have become blind to the teachings of Scripture. Have you ever seen a picture that is designed to deceive your eyesight? And because you believe you are looking at something else, you are tricked into seeing what you think you see and not what you should see. That is called a visual trick, and magicians use that to trick and amaze us.

But that is what has happened to the western church. We read Scripture with a preconceived view of truth that has been formed by reason and the surrounding culture (A great portion being the educational system), and our Scriptural interpretation comes to us through that cultural prism and not through the Holy Spirit and the literal truth that seems so at odds with everything we think we know as “settled law” within the ecclesiastical expressions and beliefs we have come to embrace. In short. We think we see truth but we have been fooled by our own altered state of spiritual reality. Our Christianity has been refashioned to conform to western cultural mores and now our hearts and minds are deceiving us into believing lies. It is quite a sophisticated process. And it can rightly be called spiritual magic or witchcraft.

And when one compromise has been cemented into the church and the lives of believers, another one becomes less difficult to embrace. After a number of decades the compromise becomes immobilizing and removes any authentic spiritual power, and after many, many decades the beliefs and practices of that church can no longer be identified as Christian. Regardless of the five or four or three solas or whatever you present as your qualifications for being “orthodox”, in practice we have become a religious cultural institution that blends ever so nicely with a well rounded western lifestyle. The words of the prophet have come true,

Matt.15:8-9 - This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

And so millions of pew dwellers sit and are comforted by their faithfulness to their local gathering, but are unaware of either their eternal predicament or their shallow and convenient lifestyle. But the music is moving, and the collective goal of building projects binds their hearts and minds. But as Jesus once observed about Jerusalem, your house is laid waste even through you say you are “rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing”.

And it is not enough to become aware of these things. Far from it. Those to whom the Spirit has given a clearer vision are the more accountable and will give the greater answer on that day. Without a massive revival there is no answer. The situation is so desperate and so desolate, and there is so much that needs to brought down, that only the Spirit is able to do all that needs to be done. And the entrance to that kind of move of the Spirit of God can only be paved with unusual, penetrating, and elongated prayer. Without a move of prayer nothing can be accomplished but that which is of the flesh.

So here we stand, indicted personally and collectively before our God. Most could never receive such a message, and many will even become angry. But perhaps there are some who receive an imperfect but legitimate assessment of our spiritual condition. Perhaps some will disregard the flawed messenger and embrace the Spirit’s exhortation. Perhaps some will have their eyes opened and the hearts turned and begin a long journey that is not without sacrifice and suffering. Perhaps there are a few. Perhaps.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

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

It is most unseemly, and openly unchristian, and against the entirety of New Testament teachings, for believers to be involved, one way or the other, with the current health insurance debate. In fact, to be involved with any of the world’s “money” arguments is being involved with an antichrist system.

But the erosion of the path of Jesus has taken place over many, many decades until that path is no longer discernable, and the Scriptural signposts that lined that path have become obsolete with no more literal impact than a newspaper editorial. If anyone can read the Scriptures I have posted and say that Jesus allows us to worry about our finances, and even more startling to argue in the context of the fallen financial schemes of this world, then they are either liars or substantially deceived. But in either case, they do not believe in the teachings of Jesus.

Apostasy is when someone or a group leaves the truth and begins to believe in and follow false teachings. It has most prevalently been defined within the context of theological errors that misrepresent the Person of Christ or the method of salvation. And there are legions of false teachers and false churches that fit that description. However many, if not most, who would classify themselves as watchmen or discerners ignore the elephant in the ecclesiastical room.

The overwhelming majority of the western church gets involved in all sorts of things that completely misrepresent the teachings of Jesus. And when it comes to nationalism, politics, and economic issues, the emergent crowd joins hands with the orthodox group. Osteen and MacArthur and Warren and Jeremiah and all the rest join hands, mouths, and hearts in earthly issues that are openly restricted by the Master. Believers criticize their government leaders; believers worry about economic issues; believers exhibit unreceptive attitudes toward Muslims; and believers by the millions attempt to serve two masters - money and God.

And so the believer who would never enter into a pact with a Mormon or an unbeliever, speaks and behaves like his next door unbelieving conservative and in so doing he brings an open shame to the Lord Jesus and by his speech and actions and attitude that believer proves that he does not believe the words of Jesus. All of us fall short of complete obedience to the words of Christ, but no one can openly disobey them and say that they are in fact obeying them and still claim to believe them. Especially when His words on a given subject are glaringly clear.

How has the church strayed so far so as to live in complete disobedience and yet with no conviction? The backslider realizes his condition and is conflicted within his own spirit. But here we have millions of professing believers acting in utter disregard for the teachings of Jesus and yet with no inward confliction. And many would rightly identify Rick Warren and Rob Bell and Joel Osteen as false teachers that teach things contrary to God’s Word, and yet they themselves are caught in a monstrous heedlessness as it concerns other teachings from the Word of God.

Obedience to the New Testament commands to believers is not convenient, and when taken literally and at face value, they go against all that the culture would consider reasonable and normal. But the western evangelical church has so diluted His words, that believers can openly ignore them and live as do their unbeliever neighbors, and not even be aware of their disobedience. And their preachers not only do not speak words of correction to the flock, but they speak words of encouragement.

I Tim.6:7-8 - 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.

In light of how the western church speaks, thinks, and lives, those words are either moon man talk, or they stand as an open indictment of all we have come to accept as Christian. I honestly do not believe I have ever met someone who is truly content with food and clothing. But what is more startling and disheartening, is that the church no longer sees that as a goal, much less a New Testament teaching.

An Olympic high jumper tries to clear the bar set at six feet. After many misses, he takes the bar and sets it at two feet. He clears it easily and leaves the bar set at two feet for the rest of his Olympic career. And the church has taken the teachings of Jesus, the New Testament, and by diluting its interpretation and application, the church has embraced a form of Christianity which unashamedly ignores hundreds of New Testament teachings, as well as the overarching theme of the New Testament itself.

But in order to avoid the inconvenience and embarrassment of a spiritual inventory based upon the teachings of Jesus, let us continue on our current path and enjoy the temporal fruits of an earth bound life which is fully engaged with the issues that concern the kingdom of darkness. But what about the kingdom of God? Well, that can wait until we get to heaven. After all, that's where the teachings of Jesus will become relevant.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Fear of God is Gone
Matt.10:28 - And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Acts 5:11 - And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
Rom.3:18 - There is no fear of God before their eyes.
II Cor.7:1 - Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Rev.19:5 - And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.

And now we live within the walls of the castle called “New Evangelicalism” where man is king and his whims are truth. And long, long ago the wicked dragon called the “fear of God “ was slain and the people felt much, much safer. That horrible dragon used to scare sinners and saints alike, and it would affect almost everything people believed. In fact, it would many times affect people’s behavior. And in those days when God’s people gathered to worship the Great King that dragon would somehow find his way into those meetings.

That dragon named the “fear of God” roamed around with impunity and even some who were not of the castle, which used to be called just “Evangelicalism”, seemed to live with that dragon in mind. But after many, many years that old dragon became an unbearable nuisance. The people of the castle who used to speak often about that dragon began to ignore it. And when others would mention the dragon the others would change the subject or even suggest that the dragon was a fable which had no place in these modern times. After a while the name of the castle was changed to include the word “New”.

And here we are in 2012 and that dragon has long since gone and our children do not even remember a time when the fear of God was a revelation, much less an influence in our lives. The church has absolutely no fear of God. The preachers live as if there is no God and the people push the pause button of their self centered lives long enough to attend one or more of the gatherings and fulfill the ancient traditions. These gatherings change nothing except to soothe many consciences. In fact, the god that is presented in those gatherings bears little resemblance to the God of Scripture. But the gatherings provide a forum for a brief kind of human fellowship.

What does the Great God see when He scans His kingdom today? He sees preachers acting like clowns. He sees great evangelical cathedrals built with the borrowed money from heathen institutions. He sees the need for staff grow exponentially in order to organize the activities and keep the sheep touched. He sees His people treat the Bible as a racing form that helps them become winners. He sees that prayer has become an elective which is mostly audited by the masses. He sees such shallow professions of faith that almost any tepid murmur repeated by instruction is considered a conversion.

Now it is impossible to actually see and understand a true revelation of the Living God and not have some fear for Him. I realize many preachers dilute the meaning of fear and change it into a benign reverence, but they are wrong. We should always have a deep and abiding reverence for our Great God and the Risen Christ, but we must also have a godly fear. Yes, we should be afraid. That does not diminish the intimacy with which we can approach our Savior, far from it. In fact, a godly fear only enhances our relationship with He who is our very life.

But without any fear whatsoever, we have created a god of our own choosing. And just by seeing the overall condition of the evangelical church we can see there is no fear of God. Who trembles? Who quakes in His presence? Who offers his life as a living sacrifice anymore? There is more portrayal of God as a blessor than there is as someone to be feared. When the Apostle John fell as though dead before the Risen Christ, just which God was that? And if that was our God, then where is that same fear and worship?

We have stripped God of His glory and the gatherings that should be about Him are now about us. Much of what takes place in those gatherings is designed for our excitement, our enjoyment, our blessing, our entertainment, and to alleviate any conviction that may come from God’s Spirit. After all, the preacher doesn’t seemed very concerned, and he is always smiling after the service, so what is there about which to worry? Church is now about us and not about Him.

And when Paul reveals that when Christ returns He will exact a fiery vengeance upon all the unredeemed inhabitants of this planet, why does that truth not actually resonate with God’s people? Is it because we do not really care, or more likely that we do not actually believe it? Let us be painfully honest here, if Jesus is coming back, and if when He comes He will bring a divine judgment upon this world, then how can we with a straight face suggest that our lives and church related actions actually mirror such a coming event? If we who profess His name are ambivalent, how can those without believe?

This is no game of doctrinal gotcha, or even a disagreement over gospel methodology. Little by little the church has lost the truth. Oh yes, we still have it on our statements of faith. We still mention these things once in a great while from the pulpit. Just enough to suggest we still believe it but not enough or with enough passion to support our contention that we do believe those truths.

And along with the fear of God the place called hell has also disappeared from evangelical speech, prayer, and practice. Who really thinks about hell except the weak minded who battle with depression and a fractured sense of personal security? But for those who are successful participants in this culture, well they have no need of a place called hell except for a quick mention in our systematic theology. But if we are to love and believe in the Person called Jesus, then we must exhibit a spiritual consciousness that inwardly and outwardly affects our very lives.

And that life transformation goes way beyond not drinking or smoking or cursing. It transcends just being a part of a local church or owning several Bibles. It travels beyond being a student of the Word or a full time minister. Under the immeasurable weight of Scriptural truth and the revelation of Who God is through the prism of the Lord Jesus Christ, our lives should be revolutionary and utterly remarkable in the midst of such hedonism and spiritual darkness. As it stands we blend very well and our moral and political mini-crusades are little more than irritants to the lost world.

But our lives are so much like those who do not believe that our faith is seen by others as nothing more than a source of comfort drawn from religious traditions handed down through the centuries. Fear? Are you kidding? We are more afraid of Sharia Law then we are the Risen Christ and His Word. All is quite and nice, peaceful and prosperous, until someone suggests that Iran may be building a nuclear weapon and then the church becomes afraid and supports any and all kinds of violence to alleviate our fears. And after we bomb Iran and reduce the nuclear threat we can return to an atmosphere that is quite and nice, peaceful and prosperous, and without the inconvenience of the fear of God.

So here we are behind the walls of the New Evangelicalism, safe and sound and free to create a representation of God which has been disfigured to accommodate our lives and our desires. This God, the God we preach, is not an irritant. He does not significantly meddle in our lives. And if we are a generous giver in our local church, this God never meddles. I mean after all, God has not given us the spirit of fear. Right?

Like Lou Costello once sang, “I fear nothing when I am in the right”! And the western church does not fear God. But we do fear one thing and one thing only. We fear anything that would encroach upon the comfort of our lives and the pursuit of the American Dream. That we fear.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

In Search of Jesus
Can you see it? Can you feel it? Can you touch it? It is everywhere and all around us. It is the misery and suffering that invades so much of what we call the “human race”. Today, right now, there are countless beings suffering with intense and excruciating pain, both inside and out. Women, children, boys and girls, and men. Some will die before you are done reading, while others with continue to writhe unsparingly in the throes of affliction and despair. For millions there is no healing, no easing, no cure.

It is not God who is blind to this living tragedy, it is us. And most disheartening is the way God’s own people have marginalized the plight of others if not ignoring them altogether. How can it be spiritually acceptable for some to eat cake while others have no bread? Is that a reflection of the God we serve? Or is it a reflection of the god we serve? While millions argue about the nature of capitalism, millions have no water. And when that discussion is active in the body of Christ, well that is a tragic irony and a disgrace to the Savior.

And to what can we attribute such a monstrous expression of self centeredness? What reason can be given when God’s own people, gifted with eternal life and every spiritual blessing in Jesus Christ, decide to be militant about their own elevated financial circumstances while walking around millions of Jericho bound sinners lying wounded, naked, and bleeding? What possible reason can be offered for such a display of mockery toward the faith of Jesus?

There is no excuse, but there is a reason. The western church of Jesus Christ has left the teachings of Jesus and now espouses the teachings and practices of the culture in which it lives. And after many decades, the teachings of Jesus will seem so radical that the church will reject them in their literal purity and attach a more convenient and comfortable metaphorical interpretation. And though that may appease our petrified consciences, it still is accompanied by the screams and groans of those who still suffer, still cry, still are beaten, still bleed, and still lie dead in their sins. And if you listen with His ears, those screams are not muffled echoes of years gone by, but they are ever present calls for help.

Where is God in all of this? But the more crucial question is where is the church in all of this? How many tears ever fall for these people, to say nothing of sacrificial action? While the church argues about economic systems and the ghosts of the founding fathers, sinners by the millions fade away into eternity. And millions more are captives of an existence that we would not allow for our own pets. And yet we claim to follow Him and His teachings. We are not just stretching the truth, we are grievous liars.

Can you see it? Can you feel it? Can you touch it? Does it even move us momentarily only to fade away by the bright lights of our own lives? No, it is a fairy tale which has no more response than does the stories from Grimm. The words of Jesus have become stories that are not even as entertaining as the words of Grimm. And while we can laugh and enjoy the ride called “It’s a Small World” at Disneyworld, others are on a reality ride of lamenting whose destination is eternal suffering. Can that even be true anymore?

We have created a spiritual calling that includes national allegiances, moral crusades, and all kinds of love of money issues. And it is most ingenious how the words of Christ can be read on a Sunday morning gathering without the slightest hint of conviction or the recognition that we are not doing them. Our god is our statement of faith, our church membership, and the talisman of our former baptism. But His words are like a pleasant wind that will pass as quickly as the final “amen”.

Matthew 25:34-36 - Then the king will say to those at his right hand, "Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me."

Mk.10:21 - Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

Luke 14:12-14 - He said also to the one who had invited him, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

Luke 16:19-25 - There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.
In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.' But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony.

Lk.19:8-10 - And Zacchae'us stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold."
9 And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.
10 For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost."

Ah yes, stories about Jesus. So enriching, so comforting. He was so wonderful, wasn’t He? It is most unfortunate about those poor people, I mean really. Democracy and freedom would bring them peace and prosperity. That is what they need. Let me write my building fund check and see God bless me. God lives to bless me. I hope those who suffer find some relief. And the mother in Darfur whose infant dies at her dried up breast, well it's those Muslims who created that mess. Tisk, tisk.

Prayer requests? Please pray for my friend who will be traveling on her vacation. Oh, and pray for my automatic pool heater which is making a weird noise. I think I need a miracle. Ok, church is over. Let’s hurry in order to beat the line at our favorite steak house. Hopefully we can eat and make it home in time for the kickoff. By the way, did you see the way that girl was dressed today? And brother Adams died his hair. I guess he wants to look younger. This new church building will be spectacular when it is finished. Maybe the air conditioning will work a little better than it does now. Remember, we need to get Obama out of there and return to the good old days. Oh Look!! The parking lot is almost empty at the steakhouse. God is so good.

Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

In search of the one called Jesus.

Friday, March 23, 2012

"Hate Your Enemies," said another jesus.

Religious thespian Pat Robertson believes Tim Tebow got a raw deal from the Denver Broncos because he was traded to the New York Jets. I guess the scope of the preacher’s authority has expanded. And while Peyton Manning is a hall of fame quarterback who is now a Denver Bronco, Robertson mused that it would “serve them right” if Manning reinjured his neck. His exact quote given over the airwaves was:

"And you just ask yourself, OK, so Peyton Manning was a tremendous MVP quarterback, but he's been injured. If that injury comes back, Denver will find itself without a quarterback. And in my opinion, it would serve them right."

I mean all that stuff about loving your enemies and all that stuff in I Corinthians chapter 13 must be way overblown. And if you can be a Christian and not follow Jesus nor believe in His teachings, then Robertson is a Christian.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What Shall We Do?
Matt.24:36-39 - But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

II Tim.4:3-4 - For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

It is impossible to pinpoint the exact day of our Lord’s return, however the days are evil and the faith once delivered to the saints has slipped away. We have watched as entertainers professing to be preachers have tickled ears and excited the masses. Conferences are held that promise to help pastors elicit funds from wealthy parishioners, and to provide techniques to increase membership roles and Sunday morning attendance. Unbelievers like Benjamin Netanyahu are invited to speak to believers, and millions of professing believers believe Jewish people can be saved without Christ.

Preachers live lavish lifestyles and teach a Jesus who is the head of a ponzi scheme that seems to benefit preachers the most. The western church has built another golden calf and millions worship it with great vigor. Churches by the tens of thousands are in debt to the world’s institutions and billions of church dollars in mortgage interest go to fund all sorts of sinful and hedonistic enterprises. Christian television is no longer Christian, and the Madison Ave. advertising strategies help sell books and Cds across the western world.

Media has created religious icons whose image has been so inflated that millions of professing believers will believe whatever their favorite preacher says without a shred of Biblical scrutiny. In fact, the Bible, although quoted, is no longer even relevant in this new evangelical tsunami. There are now only pockets of true Christianity in the west. And the fearful thought is that millions upon millions of professing believers have succumbed to a false Jesus and a false gospel and will perish in the end. How chilling to even ponder.

And it isn’t just the prosperity churches or the seeker sensitive churches that have slipped into a man made caricature of the church of Jesus Christ. The slippery slope has found its way into all sorts of churches that have an orthodox statement of faith. Christian counselors charge exorbitant rates just to help people. Secular psychology has replaced Biblical direction. When a church enters a fund raising venture, many now employ a fund raising expert who stays on staff long enough to elicit the funds and promise of funds necessary to build whatever it is the church believes it needs.

Slick presentations, wonderful literature, networking, Scriptural manipulation, and an array of techniques are employed in order to fleece the flock. And in the end, unlike the Biblical example of building the Tabernacle without debt, the church visits the bank with promises in hand and borrows from the world’s financial system. And they call it God’s blessing. And why? Because the western believer must worship in comfort and the preacher knows his church can only grow with new and bigger barns. It is a vicious cycle that runs on schemes rather than God’s Spirit.

This week I heard that a SBC church had paid a secular person in excess of $100,000 to be the pastor’s “personality coach” to leverage a greater ability to raise funds. It is most disgusting and heartbreaking as well. These kind of things happen all the time in seemingly orthodox churches. Instead of prayer and fasting and delving deep into God’s Word, preachers major in lunch, golf, telephone, twitter, committee meetings, and all kinds of worthless activities. Sermons can be purchased, and many preachers have learned long ago the value of a good music service.

Never in ecclesiastical history has there been so many churches with millions upon millions of attendees with little or no tangible evidence of God’s presence or power within a culture of darkness. And even being planted within the most hedonistic culture in modern times, and with every sin known to mankind practiced openly, the church goes unpersecuted and actually embraced by that same culture. But in reality, this is not the church of Jesus Christ at all. The Spirit has left and Ichabod is written upon the church doors.

But what about us? Is it enough to be able to discern the most flagrant ecclesiastical departures in others? As Christianity disappears from the western evangelical landscape, what is God saying to us? Do we sit idly by and become blind to our own powerlessness? Can we not see that even though we refuse to descend into religious greed and entertainment, we ourselves are in desperate need of a revival? While we excoriate Warren and Bell and Osteen and all the usual suspects, are we content with the tepid and redundant expression of our own faith? We can see the chains on Jacob Marley but are blind to our own bondage?

That, my friends, is THE question. What is our responsibility before our Master? As the church departs, are we to stand still and watch with self satisfying and self justifying disdain? The Spirit desires to filet us open before Him and for us to surrender to reinvigorate our own spiritual lives. That process will require some sacrifice. It will demand our time and we will be faced with choosing to continue to allow television and entertainment to dominate our lives, or choosing to go a different direction. Prayer will have to become a priority. A major priority.

This business of prayer will have to become a journey. Prayer has fallen out of favor among believers except for some paltry expressions and some lip service. Most churches have no authentic prayer meeting of any length or substance. The preacher is no longer a man of prayer and his congregation embraces what is important by seeing what is important in the life of the shepherd. People no longer rise an hour early or stay up an hour later to pray. Prayer has been lost to the church except in a perfunctory and fossilized form.

But make no mistake. Prayer, true prayer, is never easy. And without an unusual commitment from the church leaders in their own personal lives, then most of the believers will remain content in their present spiritual condition. We will compare ourselves with ourselves as well as think more highly of ourselves than we ought when we compare ourselves with all the false teachers. Contentment is good when it is in the Lord, but contentment can also be a blindness.

Oh for the days when the church had an impact on its surroundings. Oh for the days when men and women believers marched triumphant to their martyred deaths. Oh for the days when the church was consumed with Christ and believers counted their lives as sacrificial servants. Oh for the days when God’s Word was a believer’s life and breath. Oh for the days when self denial was a privileged practice.

Unless we once again unearth New Testament Christianity, we will be left with scraps that do not nourish, do not fulfill, and most of all do not please nor represent the Crucified and Risen Christ. There is still a fountain. There is still God’s Spirit. And there is still a Savior who wishes to fill the church with Himself. If we will hear His voice, seek His face, and surrender to His will, then and only then can we say with authenticity that Jesus is our Lord.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The evangelical children of today will grow up and:

Never discuss or understand what true revival is.

Never see people weeping uncontrollably in a church service.

Never experience the presence of God in an unusual way.

Never see their parents on their face in prayer.

Never know what appropriate dress is.

Never experience an elongated church service directed by the Spirit.

Never watch as their pastor preaches on the street.

Never be part of a week long fast.

Never see the church hold an all night prayer meeting.

Never see the pastor weep behind the pulpit.

Never be part of a foot washing service.

Never be challenged over and over for a full time ministry calling.

Never see premarital purity as the norm.

Never be surprised by divorce.

Never see adultery as abnormal.

Never see the pastor refuse a raise.

Never see debt as unbiblical.

Never live without a television.

Never see worldly music as a spiritual hindrance.

Never believe that alcohol should be avoided.

Never not hear some coarse language from believers.

Never believe prayer is more potent than votes.

Never watch their parents witness to a stranger.

Never see people as excited in worship as they are about sports.

Never be a part of a family altar.

And while growing up in that kind of a spiritual climate, they will still insist they know what Christianity is. But sadly, they don’t.
Racism - Alive and Well
If the young boy was white, and if the man who was the pursuer was black, would there be an arrest? The white neighborhood watch dog was white, and the young boy was black, and now the young black boy is dead. I live in Florida. Welcome to the racist atmosphere that lives in this and in other state atmospheres.

I heard today two phone callers demand for more white Buccaneer football players. You think that racism is a limited phenomenon? Just see what happens when your white pastor’s daughter desires to marry a black man. Loose the hounds !

Oh well. Let’s get back to dissecting the doctrine of the Trinity. That, my friends, will impact the world. Until then, let us rid the world of these Skittle carrying hoodlums. After all, the young man was probably not even elect.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

His Entrance is Momentary

If the astonishing explosion of prophetic signs today does not mean that these are the last days before He comes, then the last days themselves must be an horrific time indeed. May we all gird up our loins and make haste to find shelter under the shadow of His redemptive wings. The time has come, the storm is raging, and His entrance is momentary.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Strong Delusion - Capitalism and Democracy
Capitalist democracy is driven by the fallen nature of human beings. Think deeply upon that. Fallen sinners, with a light sprinkling of saints, ruling themselves through other elected fallen humans with a very light sprinkling of professing believers. Is this the kind of government God would create and endorse? Are we actually saying God desires fallen sinners to rule in His form of government? And in reality, we are a representative republic which governs through the sinners other sinners elect. And that convoluted mess is what God wants for His church?

Sin begets sin. And even if all the “founding fathers” were raging evangelical believers, which is absurd, the governmental structure they created is by design a format for sin. Capitalism is an instrument for greed, compromise, and the thirst for money and things. It is very difficult to understand how the western church has embraced such a system that is antithetical to Christ and His teachings. But the love of money along with the obsession over temporal things is an extremely strong deception. And like a black hole, when anyone embraces and participates in such fallen systems they are soon captured by its lies and many times they begin to champion those same lies. Get too close and you become a part.

But one of the most diabolical deceptions is this notion that we are free people. Now if you mean that we are free to make money, save money, spend money, create disgusting entertainment, watch pornography, get drunk, go to war, say blasphemies, worship idols and demons, then yes, we are free in that sense. But if you are speaking in terms of spiritual freedom, then no, we are not free. In fact, we are in deep bondage. And if you believe that the pitiful and redundant expression of Christianity exhibited by the western church is spiritual freedom then your definition of freedom is fallen.

Does God encourage, and in fact protect, the worship of idols? The first amendment guarantees all idol worshipers, including Satan worshipers, the freedom to do so and the governmental punishment to anyone who would restrict such a practice. That does not sound like the kingdom of God. Does God set up a system that protects sin? He doesn’t. Far from being free, the western culture is Orwellian at its core.

What really rules this culture? Sin, of course. But what vehicle actually manipulates it? Information fed through all sorts of mediums. Television, radio, internet, work conversations, newspapers, magazines, and others means by which information is manipulated and fed to the masses. A myriad of different factions capture the minds of listeners and reinforce all sorts of untruths and half truths. While proclaiming itself to be the zenith of earthly freedom, democracy is a bondage bully.

It actually brings forth the most vociferous and committed factions and provides an open forum which is almost always contingent on one basic variable. Wherever the most money is spent is usually equal to the most number of minds that are captured. And the maxim continues: You believe what you hear and you become what you believe. And energetic forces vie for the leverage to change minds. And in fact, democracy has indeed changed hearts and minds until most factions operate within that system very nicely, including the church.

It is impossible to remain faithful to the practice of God’s Word while being involved with a system that is at odds with God’s Word. You may retain an orthodox statement of faith, but you cannot exhibit the teachings of Jesus while exhibiting the teachings of the flesh. They are incompatible. And the more you are operating within such a system, the more you become blind to its negative effects on your spirit, and in fact, the more that system changes your very view of the faith.

And this kind of sophisticated bondage is extremely clandestine and hides within evangelicalism. You may hear men of God decry the compromises and heresies of Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Robert Schueller, or Rob Bell, and yet those same men will stand shoulder to shoulder with those false teachers and pledge their allegiance together to a fallen system. Do they not see the blatant inconsistency? Is it not obvious that something is very wrong?

But this is how democracy works. It erodes Biblical convictions and it blinds us to the kingdom of God. We are consumed with national interests and economic concerns, and in so doing we severely compromise our convictions to God’s Word and God’s kingdom. And the evil one saw how he could not be effective in seducing us to openly embrace our fallen nature and its effects, so he seduced us into embracing a system wherein those effects could flourish. And so they have, and so they have.

In Orwell’s novel, “1984”, he describes a culture that is manipulated by a consistent diet of information contrived by the government and meant to control. The people worship the entity named “Big Brother” and they believe all kinds of absurd mantras suggested by this Big Brother. “War is peace” and “Ignorance is strength” are but a few. But when we assess Orwell’s overarching theme, we can see that we in the west have become pawns to what information we believe.

But what about the church? We are not of this world.

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.

The church has slowly but surely gotten herself all entangled with the affairs and systems of this world, and to relieve the obvious tension she has embraced them as God’s will. Nothing could be further from the truth and nothing is as obviously in conflict with the life and teachings of the Author of our faith. Capitalism and democracy may seem logical and reasonable when assessed through a comparative prism of all other systems, however that can never be the prism through which we as believers assess anything.

This deception it is ever so subtle. If we let down our guard and begin to see things through earthly eyes, the process of compromise has begun. And being reinforced by other believers, we are on our way to a full blown compromise that actually obscures, and in some cases fully changes, the gospel. It is inevitable. And without notice our spiritual allegiance to Christ and His Word morphs into a nationalistic allegiance with some moral accoutrements. That, my friends, is not the faith once delivered to the saints.

What seems right is in reality wrong. What seems wrong is many times right. There can be only one allegiance and that is to Christ. And our hearts and minds must be continually washed through His Word and we must do sentry duty to avoid the incursion of the spirits of antichrist which seek to dilute our commitment to Christ. And these incursions are very subtle and come in through such Trojan Horses like morality, nationalism, money issues, ethnic hatred, political agendas, and other subtleties. It’s not that we desire to stray from Christ, but it’s the nature of deception.

I commend all of us to reexamine and thoroughly digest the entire New Testament once again. In 2004 I challenged 100 Sunday School attendees to read from Matthew through Jude in two weeks. And while they read I asked them to see what the theme of the Scriptures was as it pertained to money. Many people did read that portion in two weeks. And those that did were actually amazed and disturbed by what they read. They came to the conclusion that the teachings of the New Testament were at odds with what they hade been told about money, material things, national interests, and democracy as a whole.

Again, these are no small issues since they actually do affect how we see our Lord, how we serve our Lord, and how we worship our Lord. And in these last days it is imperative that we return to a sacrificial exhibition of discipleship to our Master. Away with all these nationalistic allegiances and these worthless political wranglings. Away with all the hatred toward lost sinners and the constant clamoring for more economic benefits. Away with these unholy alliances with the children of darkness and the embracing of violence as God’s way.

Our kingdom is a theocracy, and the Risen Christ will not share His glory with any person or system of this world. Bow before Him and place all your views, perspectives, and all the things you were were taught and surrender to the purity of His Holy Word. We cannot serve two masters. If Christ is Lord of all, then serve Him and Him alone. Forever.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Afghanistan - An American Mirror
When copies of the Koran were accidently burned in Afghanistan it sparked a furor, but the mass killing of innocent women and children did not evoke the same amount of outrage. News reporters asked a cleric why.
From the New York Times:

The mullah was astounded and a little angered to be asked why the accidental burning of Korans last month could provoke violence nationwide, while an intentional mass murder that included nine children last Sunday did not.
“How can you compare the dishonoring of the Holy Koran with the martyrdom of innocent civilians?” said an incredulous Mullah Khaliq Dad, a member of the council of religious leaders who investigated the Koran burnings. “The whole goal of our life is religion.”

Isn’t that so astounding? Oh, wait a minute. Here in America millions of pre-natal babies are murdered, soldiers are killed and maimed every week, hatred is a political mainstay, and tens of thousands of people die at the hands of alcohol every year. And yet what sparks outrage in America? Birth control, the founding fathers, creationism, and the lack of displaying of the Ten Commandments.
You see religion is very important to us as well. Jesus? Not so much. Rick Warren is right, we have a lot in common with the Muslims.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Spirit of Cain Returns
Gal.3:1-12 - O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth,
before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.
5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
any evangelicals would strongly suggest that no one can be justified by the works of the flesh. And they also would believe that the works of the flesh can never achieve anything in the kingdom of God or the kingdom of the Spirit. And they would agree with the Apostle Paul when he contends that any teaching that elevates the works of the flesh to salvation or even sanctification status is spiritual witchcraft. They loudly and proudly refuse to genuflect to the works of the flesh in any spiritual applications, and most would see clearly that the works of the flesh have no part in God’s kingdom or in the life of God’s Bride.
And when asked if the church should use carnal schemes to change people’s hearts and minds, well most would answer a resounding “Never!”. Well then, what do we use to change people? Most would answer the gospel witness, prayer, and sacrificial acts of kindness designed to present Christ through the prism of our lives. And with that combination, we can hope for the salvation of souls.
A man begins to build a ship. He lives on an island. People ask him why he is building such a great ship, and the man tells them that a day is coming when everything on this island will perish and the only escape will be this particular ship. People mock him, and most ignore him and learn to live with him. Some people become convinced that the man is right, and they begin to help him build this great vessel.
There are some people on the island who are building other ships, but they are not seaworthy and will ultimately sink. They cannot save anyone. But many people on this island are interested in making the island better and more comfortable for those who live there. They meet regularly and discuss what changes should be made, and there is wide disagreement about that very issue. They argue and fight among themselves and do not get much accomplished.
These island people never refer to this man’s great ship, and mostly they ignore it. Some point to its craftsmanship and design, but they do not embrace it as a means of escape. Now while this man is working on the ship he becomes aware of the way the people are arguing, and he begins to pay attention to what they are saying. He becomes so distracted that he leaves his ship and attends their meetings. He presents his point of view and is met with a little support but also much confrontation.
Soon this man spends more time attempting to change the island than he does building an escape. Although he still believes his ship will ultimately be the only vehicle for escape, he still spends much time and effort making his views about the island known. He inadvertently becomes more interested in changing the island than he does building his ship. And in the end he and his ship become entangled with the affairs of the island and the ship slowly descends into a state of disrepair. The ship is no longer an issue.

And so it is with the church of Jesus Christ. Our Master left us with a clear commission called the gospel. We are not to be friends with the world’s systems and we are not to get entangled with the affairs of this world. But the church has become intrigued with changing the world through carnal methods and the meetings of mixed multitudes. We have offered our support to a melding of the believer and the unbeliever, and we go to their meetings, send financial support, and spend much time and energy to change this world through legislation. All night prayer meetings? Never!
This year thousands of evangelical churches will pass out pamphlets that compare the views of the different candidates. And this will be done at the worship gatherings. But you cannot serve two masters. You cannot dabble in the affairs of the world and still be completely faithful to the gospel message. The two are enemies and diametrically opposed to one another. One suggests that change can be effected through human voting blocks, while the other is committed to effect change by faith in the Savior alone.
One is spiritual while the other is carnal. One is faith while the other is works. One is of God while the other is witchcraft. One elevates the Risen Christ while the other elevates the collective power of man. One is a theocracy while the other is a democracy. One has life while the other is fallen. One is of Christ while the other is of Belial. One impacts the kingdom of light while the other impacts the kingdom of darkness. One is the commission of God while the other is the tradition of man.
And while God’s ship builders are away attending the meetings of men, the gospel ship is in desperate need of repair. The glory of that Ship is now just a couple of sentences on some statement of faith. And men who were called to believe and proclaim God’s Holy Word, now speak frequently and forcefully about the Constitution and its so called glory. The master now has two heads.
But in reality the church has left THE Head and is now frolicking like a wild ass in the pastures of this world. She snorts loudly about temporal things and butts heads with the wild asses in the pastures of darkness. And being enamored with her earthly power and all her activity, she, like Samson, doesn’t know she has lost her power from on high. Being involved with witchcraft does not always mean Ouija boards and pentagrams. It sometimes means an angel of light which convinces us that we can change this fallen world by the works of our own hands.
The more things change the more they stay the same. The spirit of Cain has returned indeed.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Seek Peace not War
Matt.5:38-40 - 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.
Matt.5:43-45 - Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
ar accomplishes some things. It protects certain countries and their land. It rescues people from dictators. It keeps dictators from expansionism. And it also accomplishes a few residual things like economic issues.
But war never accomplishes anything for the kingdom of God. It is completely at odds with all that Jesus lived and taught. It is not a viable option for those who truly wish to follow in the steps and teachings of Jesus.
Now if we wish to put aside the obvious teachings of Christ when they conflict with national interests, then we must also admit that we do not believe those teachings in the absolute. And this is the position that the overwhelming majority of western believers take without apology or without a viable explanation that relieves the obvious inconsistency. And to be perfectly honest, it is the perspective I once held with clenched teeth.
But if we are to be painfully honest, and if we can strip ourselves from the well worn traditions that we were taught as truth, then perhaps we can take a fresh and uninhibited look at what our Master taught and lived. I mean, isn’t that what the Christian faith is in its purist form? In fact, isn’t that what believing in Jesus actually means? Isn’t the embracing and the obeying of His teachings the definition of what it means to be His disciple?
I will be sixty years old in May of this year, and I am amazed at how many things I embraced without a thorough inspection of the Scriptures. And some things have gone unquestioned within the ranks of evangelicalism. In fact, to question them is often seen as rebellion or at least a sign of spiritual immaturity. Can you imagine such a thing? To question the use of massive violence as a tenant of God’s kingdom is seen as immature? Such is the nature of things when the systems and thoughts of this present world are given a place within the church and within the hearts and minds of God’s people.
I do not suggest that those who make a special place for war are not saved or do not love Jesus. What I am suggesting, from both experience and the open revelation of Scripture, is that their perspective on war is at odds with Christ and His kingdom. And this kind of compromise comes primarily through a melding of spiritual truths and nationalistic allegiances. It is most difficult to see when we have been taught over and over that being patriotic is a Christian virtue. And many men and women of spiritual maturity and who love Christ with all their hearts have been our mentors in this area.
But they are wrong, as was I. I realize it is uncomfortable to suggest such things since they are “settled law” within evangelical circles. But we must never bow to councils or creeds or the doctrinal traditions of men, regardless of their ecclesiastical status. And may I say that being free from this deception results in no small residual spiritual benefits. I say this with humility and meekness, that when the Spirit releases you from any bondage you can experience the air of spiritual freedom. But when such a bondage is as strong and as pervasive as nationalism and war, and when that bondage affects almost everything we do and think, well the freedom of such a deliverance is almost overwhelming.
But to even take a deeper look at these issues will cost you. You will have to delve deep into the Scriptures, and you will have to address the overarching theme as laid out by the Master. And you may not have anyone with whom you can dialogue about your journey since that journey is almost forbidden territory. But this I can promise you: That somewhere along that journey you may experience a startling revelation that awakens your very soul.
And this revelation is not just a different perspective about something. It isn’t just changing your view on an issue. It changes your very life, and if you assess that change against the knowledge of what you used to strongly believe, it should, it must, humble you before your Gracious Lord and Savior. You were wrong, and the Spirit corrected you. Does that not prove His love toward you? Unwarranted love? Unconditional love?
And when and if you are transformed by a fresh illumination of truth, you can never look back with disdain to those who remain where you were. Take it from me, the flesh desires to glory in anything the Spirit does. But we cannot succumb to any of that. The freedom that is found in the Lord Jesus also must free us from condemnation and self righteousness. Many will suggest we hate America, but we reject that indictment. We hate idolatry, not any country. Some will present all kinds of scenarios that are difficult to answer. What about Hitler, etc., are the most common.
I can only answer that God is in control, and that obeying the teachings of Jesus can never receive their validity through the prism of consequences. The outcome must always be placed in faith before His throne. Even an unbeliever like Gandhi leveraged the freedom for an entire nation through a philosophy that seemed doomed to fail. But we are not embracing a philosophy; we are embracing a Lord. And success must always be defined to the degree of dedication and obedience to our Lord. We reject the worldly definitions of success. To the world, the cross was a dismal failure.
The path that follows the nail scarred feet leads against the winds of this world. It is not an easy path, but the rewards are immeasurable. Violence and hatred are not on His path. What the world embraces as normal and reality are almost always at odds with the teachings of the God/man. The path of Jesus is a thrilling journey of humility and power. And His power is not physical; it is spiritual. And many times that spiritual power appears as earthly weakness.
And when we are weak, He is strong through us. But when we are strong in this world, He is weak in us. The entire Christian life is one of contrasts and conundrums. He who is weak is strong; he who loses his life finds it; he who is last is first; he who dies lives forever; he who is crucified is resurrected. It is a most exhilarating journey in which Christ increases and we decrease. To experience the life of Christ living through us is an experience which has no equal.
And it is against this surpassing life experience that we can see, we must see, that there can be no room for compromise and accommodation. War continues to be man’s way of protecting and defending lest he lose any of his earthly freedoms. But what does the world have to offer to a man who is eternally free? To us who have an inheritance reserved in the heavenlies, what on this earth should allure us? When we die to ourselves, what temptation is effective to a corpse?
So let the world contemplate and plan its next war. Ours is the gospel, and our war is with the enemy of our souls. To be free in Christ affords a redeemed soul a freedom that cannot be known on earth by those who seek it here. Watch and pray and seek Him with your whole heart and He will be found of you. Weep over the sins of this world, but do not be partakers of such things. The whole world lies in the wicked one and willingly they follow his ways. But not so we who claim Christ’s name.
Gal.6:16-17 - And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Caveat Called Grace
Jn.1:14 - And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
t is remarkable that He who is complete and full of all divine attributes is described as full of grace and truth. Why those two? Well, without truth there is nothing but moral and spiritual guesswork, which is always full of fallen human reasoning. So truth is foundational, and in fact, Jesus said He WAS the truth. But the Spirit also mentions grace alongside of truth.
I will not bore you with the same anemic definitions of God’s grace which are insults rather than revelations. But grace is the truth in which the human race has hope. All other hope is fleeting, temporary, and false. We live in such eye-gate bondage that often we miss the glory of eternal truth and grace. The tree in our front yard seems more real to us than God and His grace. But we must labor to be conscious of the surpassing spiritual truths which have and will continue to transform us until we are like Him.
But stop and think for a moment. Think of a friend or acquaintance or loved one who is outside of Jesus Christ. Or even think of someone famous who is demonstrably antagonistic to Christ. Look all around as you drive and in the marketplace and see the masses as they make their way through a dark and fallen existence. Indifferent to eternal realities, they embrace their earthly lives with vigor. The situation seems hopeless for millions.
We all know people who are living lives of debauchery and self destruction, and we have long since written them off. We no longer pray for them with any urgency, and we have lost any vestige of hope. But in the midst of penetrating darkness there is one caveat that can turn around a hopeless situation and rescue a sinner who is completely dead in his sins. That caveat is God’s grace. There is no sin too great and powerful that can resist God’s grace when called upon in faith by any and all sinners.
The situation looks hopeless, but grace is the caveat. The sin is overwhelming, but grace is the caveat. This wickedness is so powerful, but grace is the caveat. The lifestyle is so perverted, but grace is the caveat. This sinner seems so careless, but grace is the caveat. The demonic forces are so active, but grace is the caveat. You see, as long as this age of grace exists there is always a caveat to any and all situations.
His name was Mel Trotter. He was a hopeless drunk who left his home and his family for weeks at a time during drunken binges. The Trotter family hardly had enough to eat. One day his two year old little girl became sick, and instead of purchasing medicine for his little girl Trotter bought booze. Days later he returned home only to find his little girl in a coffin at the wake being held in his home. Although he felt it was his fault, Trotter noticed that someone had bought the little girl a pair of new shoes in which to be buried.
Trotter slipped the shoes off of the corpse, sold them, and went out and bought more booze. Homeless, drunk, and shoeless Trotter stumbled into the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago. He listened as the director gave his own personal testimony as how God’s grace found him and delivered him from a life of hopeless sin. Trotter went forward and believed on Christ. He became a mainstay at the mission and eventually Trotter became a powerful evangelist for Christ. Did you hear what I just said? Trotter was as disgusting a sinner as could be imagined, and yet the caveat was the grace of Almighty God! Halleluiah, what a Savior!! Not only was God’s grace sufficient for a sinner like Trotter, but it also used him as a vessel for preaching the everlasting gospel. Now think again of that loved one or that friend who you might believe is beyond the reach of God’s redemption. Think again.
The caveat is and always will be the grace of God. You think there is no hope for the Rosie O’Donnell’s of this world? The Barney Frank’s? The Vladimir Putin’s? The Rachael Maddow’s? The Sandra Fluke’s? Your nasty neighbor? Oh no my dear friend, do not limit the grace of God, and when we become overflowing vessels of that grace God can and does touch lives that we might consider outside the vicinity of redemption.
Let me take you a step further. I was a drunk, a drug addict, and a violent sinner. I rode a motorcycle and used a van as a mobile station for promiscuity. The adjective “debauchery” is far too timid for the life I lived. A few of my friends and myself discussed robbing a certain bank and killing the guard as we entered. We were not willing to go to jail for the 20 year minimum at that time.
But I was injured in a street fight and had to recuperate at my atheist aunt’s house. And one night I watched and listened as Billy Graham warned that Jesus would return some day. I had never heard such a thing. And one cold night in March of 1975 on top of Garret Mountain in Wayne, New Jersey, I was born again. You see I was lost, and after I was healed of my injury I intended to return to my former life. But the caveat was God’s grace. I climbed up the face of the mountain a lost sinner and I descended a saved sinner.
No one who knew me could believe it, and when I went to court due to my last drug charge the courtroom almost snickered when they saw me. No longer was my hair down to my back; no longer did I wear my bright red dog collar with gold studs; no longer did I have a roach clip dangling around my neck; no longer did I wreak of alcohol; and no longer was on high on amphetamines. I was notorious in the community, but many people thought I was just putting on a show for the court. I wasn’t.
Thirty-seven years later I still have absolutely no righteousness of my own. In my own flesh I am no better than I was back then. But God’s grace intervened and became the eternal caveat that changed my earthly life and my eternal destiny. And I say with the Apostle Paul,
But by the grace of God I am what I am.”
Do not discount the power of that grace. Do not consider yourself so sophisticated and Biblically literate that God’s grace seems like child’s play. It is by that grace and only that grace wherein we all stand. We have nothing - NOTHING- with which we can boast except in His matchless grace. So look around again, and see people as disgusting as Mel Trotter or Rick Frueh and think how God’s grace is just a mustard seed of faith away from transforming them forever. And when we embrace the reality of that possible narrative, let us all dedicate ourselves to be vessels of that gospel grace.
A final praise to God’s glorious grace. While I was studying for the ministry I became a cook at the Brown Derby restaurant in Clearwater, Florida. My personality is bigger than life, and I am 6’5” and I used to weigh about 275 pounds. I draw a crowd. I witnessed to everyone in that restaurant, and because of my size everyone, including the head manager, called me “gorilla”. I saw several people come to know Christ, including one 18 year old young man named Steve who worked in the salad department. Steve had a sister who was a waitress at that restaurant, and when he became a believer she was very disagreeable about his conversion. She wanted nothing to do with Christ.
After several years I left for a full time pastorate. I lost track of everyone there. Years later after serving as an associate pastor in New York City, I returned to Florida. The first Friday in Florida I was riding around trying to decide which church to visit. I saw a large building in Clearwater and stopped in for a brochure. The receptionist called for a staff member to come to the lobby. A young woman in her twenties came out with a brochure and handed it to me.
She looked at me and asked, “You’re Rick Frueh aren’t you?” I said that I was. She told me that she was the sister of the young man named Steve, and because of my witness she had become a believer after I had left. She was now a staff member at an evangelical church. You don’t believe in the grace of God? Someone the likes of me can be used to lead others to Christ? Oh my! If a sinner is still breathing his life is not yet fully written. It may be headed in the absolutely wrong direction and seemingly without hope.
But the caveat just may be the grace of Almighty God. Praise Him forever!

Happy Ishtar!

Happy Ishtar!
The evangelical church is no stranger to the traditions of men. While we excoriate the traditions of Roman Catholicism, we ourselves practice many man made traditions that reduce spirituality to shadows and forms. And when forms are observed, the substance is diluted.
Jn.4:23-24 - But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
n this New Covenant God desires us to worship Him directly and in the Spirit. But here we are with the completed Word of God, inhabited by God Himself, and yet we still need symbols? And instead of the intimacy of a one on one relationship, we still desire to place traditions and more beggarly elements between us? And these forms are not even in the Bible.
And we are approaching another of the unbiblical observances that has been invented by man for his own pleasure while disguised as a celebration of the resurrection. The resurrection should be celebrated daily, and on every Sunday, and in our own lifestyles. Even the lost celebrate this “Easter” which even by its name is pagan. The name “Easter” is derived from the name “Semiramis” which was later changed to Ishtar. She was the wife AND mother of Nimrod.
And yet the church has adopted this observance as if God has ordained it, when in fact the only observances God ever ordained in the New Covenant is the Lord’s Supper and baptism. I know, I am throwing cold water on everything. But the question remains: Do we actually desire to obey and worship Christ in the manner in which He Himself has ordained? Or will we be content to continue pagan rituals and bring them right into God’s house and claim God loves it?
The church has made the resurrection bow to a one day observance and it blends in nicely with Memorial Day, President’s day, and of course the Fourth of July celebration. People say it is such a small thing. I know, everything in evangelicalism is a small thing to us. And that is precisely why we are in the shape we are in. The little foxes have become voracious monsters that consume the very essence of our faith. We celebrate the resurrection by living it.

Happy Ishtar!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Once Again
The Gospel Deteriorates
There is nothing that can uncover the hidden hypocrisy of professing believers like the sin of the lost. Let a lost person sin, or advocate sinful behavior, and evangelicals by the millions will act as surprised as a child on Christmas morning. How can these people say such things and behave like this? Don’t they realize they are chipping away at our culture? And of course out comes the moral talisman called the “Judeo-Christian ethic” which is nothing more than a moral gospel. It is a man made concept designed to suggest a melding of the morality of Judaism and Christianity. Fairy tale land.
And this past week we saw the spectacle surrounding Ms. Fluke, a lost young woman who dared to ask for insurance for birth control. Release the hounds! And in a stunning display of spiritual compromise and carnal accommodation, evangelicals by the millions suggested that Rush Limbaugh was correct in calling her a slut and a prostitute. Can there be any deeper gospel departure? The church has long ago relinquished any credibility.
And preachers by the thousands ascend the ecclesiastical rostrum to denounce the woman and denounce the sin of promiscuity. How bold! Talk about shooting fish in a barrel. So you denounce sinful immorality as if you are some martyr? How about denouncing the sin of divorce and remarriage to those who sit in your pews? Are they not chipping away at your cultural climate? You who wish to reign down condemnation instead of redemption, clean out your own house.
How many of your church members had sexual relations before they were married? And how many were professing believers at the time? And those who did not “go all the way”, how many of them committed some level of immoral behavior before they were married? And they knew it was wrong, but but this woman is dead in tresspasses and sins. So go ahead and pontificate about the sins in your own church before you castigate a lost young woman. Judgment must begin in the house of God.
But evangelicals no longer see sinners like this young woman through the eyes of redemption. They no longer believe in the love of God which gave His only begotten Son for such as that. They see people as moral miscreants. Cultural enemies. Liberal malefactors. Sinful lepers. But surely not objects of God’s redemptive love. Sinners now are catalogued into classes, with the most disgusting class being those sinners who commit sins that are easily rejected by believing hypocrites. Sluts and whores and homos and lesbians and perverts of all stripes provide ample ammunition for our self righteous moral outrage.
You want moral outrage? The average evangelical church is filled with the sin called the love of money. Millions upon millions of professing believers are strapped with debt because of their unbalanced lifestyle. And the church itself is in debt to the world. The love of money runs as strong in God’s house as does immoral activity in a gay bath house. Does that not outrage you?
And this just in:
I Cor.5:9-11 - I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
10Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.
11But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
e are called to eat with people like Ms. Flute. We are called to have some level of company with her so as to share the love of Christ with her. We are supposed to be Jesus to sinners like her. But alas, we reject the Scriptures in favor of some moral outrage and a strong desire to return to the good ole days. We are such hypocrites. Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, but do not fear, we will take care of that for Him. The church has become a moral Jezebel.
But let us get to the heart of the matter. Let us expose the putrid underbelly of the western evangelical church. This woman’s sexual behavior is just a disguise for the real issue. There are men and women all around us who practice an immoral lifestyle, and there are people within the church as well. But the reason this young woman received such moral outrage is because she suggested that her health insurance provide her with birth control. And that might elevate our own premiums.
Oh yes, when it comes to our pocketbooks all bets are off and the gospel deteriorates into a moral argument with dead people. Any incursion into our finances will be met with carnal weaponry disguised as moral outrage and a stand against sin. We are so pompous and self righteous. God forbid anyone suggest praying for this woman without first making sure everyone knows where we stand on immorality. And if someone like Rush Limbaugh, happily married four different times, must be our spokesperson, then so be it.
If the devil himself was for lower taxes and traditional marriage we would support him. Blind guides! You strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. You parade your moral outrage while your churches are dark during the week and your televisions are blazing! Your staff salaries are exorbitant but you recoil at any suggestion of higher taxes. Your god is money and your idol is your own best life. You will gladly support almost any war, but you loudly protest this young woman’s suggestion of health insurance coverage. The dead are burying the dead and the church is consumed with covering the event.
And thank God this is an election year since all the moral issues can be front and center without a shred of redemption through Jesus Christ. What if Ms. Fluke was celibate but was a humanist? What if she was a devout Mormon who denied the deity of Jesus Christ? Would she have met with the same vicious verbiage? Jesus died for this young woman and millions just like her.
Mk.2:15-17 - And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.
16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?
17 When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
hat’s right. Jesus was a friend to sinners. Jesus would be considered a compromiser toady in many circles. Many sinners followed Him. I guess they did not hear His moral outrage. But in truth, the only moral outrage Jesus ever exhibited is to the self righteous leaders in the temple. What would we think if Jesus stepped back into time, and instead of rising to denounce sinners like Ms. Fluke, He denounced His own church? Perhaps like the pig farmers in Matthew chapter eight, we would do this:
And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.”
on’t worry, though, Jesus has already left us.
Living in His Holiness
I Pet.1:13-16 - Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
here is little talk of holiness in these days of boasting and careless living. But here it is direct from the Spirit’s mouth. We are called to be holy because our God is holy. In the Old Testament the High Priest would wear a turban with the words “HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD” emblazoned upon it. It was a powerful reminder that God is holy, and His High Priest was to be holy as he went about ministering unto the Lord. This holiness thing is nothing to pass over glibly.
The word “holy” in both the Hebrew and the Greek indicate a dedication to something and a separation from something else. Of course Biblically it means we are to be separated unto God and separated from the world. And that process is also called “sanctification” which is us being changed into the very spiritual image of the Lord Jesus. It is a glorious endeavor to which we must surrender fully.
But in a complete reversal to what usually occurs in this world’s system, as we become more like Jesus from the inside out, we become more and more humble. The world boasts in it accomplishments, but we must always be quick to give God all the glory. We can only boast in Christ and His redemptive labor, and God forbid we ever think more highly of ourselves than we should. Our life is a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow. There is no time to expend on temporal thing which do not profit in the kingdom.
II Tim.2:1-5 - Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
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.
hese words have become wind and so ignored in this present Christian climate. We no longer desire to keep ourselves unspotted from this wicked world, and if we do have a form of separation it is usually legalism and an expression of self righteousness and judgment. And instead of the weightier issues of the Spirit, we have created a “do and don’t” list which satisfies the religious flesh. And instead of holy vessels clothed with humility and filled with the grace of our Lord Jesus, we become moral judges that are filled with doctrinal hubris and theological combativeness.
But we have not learned this from Christ. This is a concoction of our own making. But the Spirit is drawing many people back to the Words that proceed from the mouth of God. Christ is calling us to surrender to a holy way of living. And this holiness is not predicated primarily upon the externals which should be residual. This kind of life grows deep inside the spirit of believers through a steady diet of prayer and God’s Word accompanied by a relentless pursuit to bring our hearts into a sacrificial obedience. And everything that the world deems important is of little consequence to a believer who is dedicated to seeking Christ and his own personal transformation.
We cannot be self satisfied with not smoking, drinking, or cursing. That must never be an end unto itself. No, we are called to much greater heights of Christlikeness that is so pungent in this fallen culture that it wafts among those with whom we live. And when people are confronted with an unmistakable difference in our lives, it is not some outward legalism or some worldly activism. They do not see us as moral megaphones that scorch the ears of everyone with loud and modern presentations of the Mosaic Law. No, a thousand times no!
We must be beacons of redemption that exude love and grace, sprinkled with salt and light, and that create a thirst for the Savior whom we serve. Let the game of moral badminton continue, but for us we seek to present and emulate the Risen Christ! How dare Christ’s body be sullied by all the earthly causes and the alliances with the children of wrath. They do not need us to reinforce their fallen morals and aid them in convincing themselves that righteousness can be gained through morality, political activism, and nationalistic fervor. What in God’s dear name have we done to His gospel?
Fallen television hosts invite evangelicals on their program and feel no conviction whatsoever in their presence. Of course the world desires a dialogue about the things that concern them, but how many invitations would be forthcoming if our lives were holy and our lips spoke only of Christ and the things of His kingdom? It is way past time for the church to fall on our collective knees and plead and beg and cry out to God to change us once again. We are incapable of changing ourselves, in fact we are incapable of realizing we need to change.
Our natural man recoils at the tension that always exists between what He is and what we are and what we should be. But such is the glory of that journey. The journey itself radiates His glory in our lives. Not that we have arrived since that glory awaits us, but when we diligently seek His heart and when we place ourselves upon His altar it is precisely that process which glorifies our Wonderful Master. And that, brethren, is true holiness.
But the natural man grasps at anything that can be a substitute for genuine discipleship. Anything. Yes, anything but humility. Anything but the prayer closet. Anything but showing uncomfortable love. Anything but denying self. Anything but presenting our hearts daily for the Spirit’s inspection. Anything but a life of moderation and voluminous time spent alone with Him. Yes, the flesh desires anything but those things. But they are the manifestations of holiness through an unholy vessel. And therein lies the breathtaking miracle of grace.
We are still imperfect. And we still stumble. But still in the midst of process the Spirit is able to take a crucified heart and infuse it with the very image of the Christ. It is almost impossible to comprehend. But this can only take place when we deny ourselves and embrace Him which goes way beyond the average and accepted paths that are presented in western pulpits. Preachers are more interested in encouraging rather than challenging. They desire to bless rather than correct. They teach earthly schemes rather than spiritual pursuits. In fact, many times churches bring the unholy right into the gathering that is supposed to be sanctified toward worship.
And as the lunch time arrives, millions pour out into their cars and resume their unremarkable lives that openly refute what their lips say they believe. Holy living has long since been swept aside for the more alluring aspects of this earthly life. Like a child standing on his tip-toes to see over a fence and watch a ball game, the church has looked longingly at the world’s party and desired an invitation. And since the world had no interest in the things pertaining to Christ, the church invited the world into its midst. And an unholy amalgam was formed. No longer holy, the church became the world with a little self serving temperance.
Like a man who smoked four packs of cigarettes a day reveling in the fact that he is down to two packs, so is the church when we claim we are not like the world just because we are not gay or shoot heroin. Somewhere long ago we have lost any thirst for Christ and His kingdom. We have become content with the shallow counterfeit and to even consider something more spiritually strenuous is considered extremism. Well, the Spirit is calling us to holy living that cannot happen overnight or because we spend ten minutes a day reading The Daily Bread. No, this path is a priceless treasure and God will not just toss it around like so much effortless pragmatism.
The path to holy living not only leads to Christ Himself, but it exists only in and through Christ. He is the beginning and the destination, and every step is His. It is most remarkable how the church has morphed into a system and in so doing she has left her first love, the Lord Jesus. But without a radical and sacrificial commitment to seek and obey and emulate Him, all is lost and we are only a handful of religious shills for the very world that hates our Beloved Savior. Jesus is our path, and that path is holy.
Gal.2:20 - I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Phil.1:20-21 - According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Acts 4:13 - Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
Lk.9:23-24 - And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.