Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Worship of Man

THE WORSHIP OF MAN
 
We have been called to be "clothed in humility". When people attempted to worship Peter they were rebuked. Peter himself refused to be crucifed right side up because He thought himself unworthy to be crucified just like His Savior. The earth is drenched in the blood of unknown martyrs who gave their lives for Jesus and were never known or honored by God's church.
And yet today we have the open worship of man aropund the world. Look at the pictures below of several Roman Catholic popes. I ask you, is that the humility to which God calls us. Let us not even discuss their doctrine of salvation by works, or as you see below their worship of Mary, but just look at the pope's get up. Look how they have made some ecclesiastical clown suit designed to lift him up and be adored as the representative of Jesus here on earth. And millions bow down to hin.
 
 
 
 
 


 

Is it not open idolatry? Does it not both repulse and grieve you at the same time? How did they go so far away from what Jesus came to do and teach? Instead of living a quiet and humble life, this ecclesiastical construct takes its leaders and makes them some sort of “Holy Men” in the tradition of heathen cultures and false religions. I am Irish on my mother’s side. My great grandmother and my great aunt were riding in a car a ling time ago. They passed the rectory, where the priest of that parish lived, and my grandmother, a little girl then, saw a plumbing and heating truck outside the rectory.
She exclaimed that the priest must be getting his toilet fixed. My great grandmother smacked her across the face for saying such a thing. Why? Because many people considered the priest so holy that he rarely had to go to the bathroom. Millions have similar superstitions about priests and popes. My point is that men have taken the faith once delivered to the saints and turned into a system of liturgical works highlighted by the elevation of certain men. The Roman popes have been assigned the status of the Vicar of Christ on earth, and he dresses like a god among men. It is a disgrace to the cause of Christ, and yet many protestant leaders consider him to be an example of a great Christian.
 
 
 
    
 
 
  
 
Just when you became comfortable with condemning the Roman Catholic Church because of such practices, along comes these men and thousands like them. Displayed as idols and painted with false but alluring imagery, these kinds of “protestant” men are following in the same footsteps as the Roman popes. Millions flock to hear and to see them, and millions venerate them as if they were the very representatives of Jesus on earth. Millions upon millions of dollars are spent on fancy advertisements, photography sessions, air brushed pictures, and all kinds of manipulative imagery and wording that lifts these men up as gods.
Yes, the evangelical community has their heroes who are also given some kind of divine status, and the community has made them millionaires many times over. The television programs are professionally tailored to provide the most alluring imagery and cause the masses to go into an obedient trance designed primarily to elicit funds to feed the beast and line the pockets of men and women like these. And this is being “clothed with humility”? Being filthy rich, dining in the finest restaurants, receiving the adulation of men, and being presented as an elevated spokesman for Jesus, that is humility? Before we isolate the Roman Catholic Church for their worship of man, we must take a long look into a protestant mirror and see how the western church commit’s the same fraud.
 
 
One of Kenneth Copeland's homes.
 
 
One of Creflo Dollar's homes.
 
 
One of T. D. Jakes' homes.
 
So the Son of God was born in a stable and had no where to lay His head, and yet his supposed servants live in opulence and great wealth? Where is the moderation that is called for in Scripture? Are these kind of extravagances representative of a humble life? This is not Christianity at all. This is the product of another gospel and another Jesus. And the only reason that the evangelical community is not overwhelmed with grief and horror is because we have been deceived on some level concerning the faith as well. There is nothing Christian at all about the western church.
But popes and prosperity preachers still provide a smoke screen for our own excesses and spiritual compromises. Like a murderer who has committed 2 murders but pronounces judgment on a serial murderer who kills 30, the so called “orthodox” community lambastes the excesses of these men but refuses to hold up God’s Word and take inventory of our own expression of the faith. And do not believe for a second that this is only about humility. The entire faith of Jesus has been infected with all kinds of cultural and self serving viruses. And even with these unbelievable indictments openly displayed, the church as a whole remains content, self centered, and continuing to practice a religion that is little more than a comfortable part of a well rounded western lifestyle.
How do we say to a lost and dying world that we have the Creator of all things living inside us, and He has made His power available to us, and because of our spiritual birth, we are now completely new creations that have no affection for the things of this world? How can we say that without the unsaved accusing us as being a fraud and a pack of liars? We have systematically constructed a religion that suits us and fits nicely within the community of darkness. Our expression of faith is so Christless that we can easily join hands with unregenerate people is they espouse certain moral positions.
Be advised, when humility left the church, Christ left as well. We still have our buildings; we still have our heroes; we still have our money; we still have our earthly freedom; we still have our orthodox doctrines; we still have our local fellowships; we still have our entertainment; we still have our earthly retirement; we still have our music; we still have our baptism certificate and our church membership.
But we no longer have Christ.
Some trade.



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What is the Word of God?


WHAT IS THE WORD OF GOD?

Heb.4:12 - 12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Has God communicated to this world, and if so, how and where? That is the question for all of us. All of us know about the collection of “books” called the Bible, but if that is God’s voice, God’s Word, then just how is to be received and how is it to be understood? And now that God has delivered His Word to us, just what part does God actively play in that Word and what is our responsibility to that Word? So many people believe the Bible is God’s word in a sentimental or doctrinal way but never embrace it in such a way that it literally transforms the way they think, feel, and act.

The written Scriptures commonly called the Bible are not a collection of wise saying and guides for a successful earthly life. They are not some quaint stories which have a moral underpinning. They are not the writings of men who had a religious experience. These are the direct communication from the Creator to His creation. And when taken as a whole we can see the plan and execution of God’s redemption through Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a miraculous mystery.

But as education increased, so did arguments and discussions over doctrines and systematic theologies and words and all sorts of issues pertaining to both the essence of the Bible, the exclusivity of the Bible, the reliability of the Bible, and the meaning of the Bible. But let us be clear. Even though some things must be presented and defended concerning the Bible, and even though the Bible is the source for all spiritual truth, the Bible must be an action book or it is little more than a religious periodical.

And there is a deep and undeniable relationship between reading the Scriptures and obeying them. One without the other is helpless and projects a clandestine form of self righteousness. Reading it with an open and seeking heart infuses our beings with spiritual power and guidance beyond what our human minds can conceive. That is another great mystery and gift of grace. One can do works that resemble the works of Jesus without consuming and directly obeying the Word of God, but one cannot actually do the works of Jesus like that. The symbiotic relationship between the written Scriptures and the life we lead cannot be compromised. If we are to emulate and obey our Master we must do it because of His Word and not because we think it is the right thing to do.

With the avalanche of Bibles with all different translations and paraphrases and study notes and attractive covers there seems to have been a decrease in thirst for the truths contained in those Scriptures. Millions of professing believers now accept almost anything that flows from the lips of a famous teacher. Everyone has their favorite preacher or favorite doctrinal community and they avidly drink from that theological well. And pastors by the tens of thousands spend much time thinking about how to attract bigger crowds and create a larger membership roll as well as how to use the Bible in order to elicit greater offerings. And most of these pastors would unequivocally say the Bible is the Word of God and most would even say it is inerrant, and yet they use it to manipulate people and promote their own agendas.

The dilution of the Scriptures has taken place to such a degree and for so many decades that they are now hollow and powerless as it pertains to our lives. If you do not steal or get drunk you are a Bible believer. But when read and embraced literally and without a culturally manufactured interpretation, they cannot do anything but revolutionize our lives to the point of being fanatical, especially when juxtaposed against the culture and the average and accepted life of a church member. The western culture has so influenced the interpretation of the Scriptures that the culture is now embedded within the Word of God and our traditions, mores, politics, economics, and generally our entire way of thinking has become our word while the Scriptures themselves have been made subservient to our western culture.

Just an open reading of the Sermon on the Mount, three chapters, reveals a serious breach in interpretation and practice within the church. How can we explain the wagon train of believers whose lives have been spiritually empty during the week coming and going to church every week without any sense of repentance or at least a semblance of godly sorrow? In fact, they leave feeling blessed and a sense of affirmation and self worth. Church has become a short religious picnic. And the preacher has provided the meal which nourishes the flesh and is careful not to disturb the general feeling of gaiety. In fact, the preacher knows that if his church experiences any membership decline his job may very well be in jeopardy. To say he is double minded is to be kind. And with that kind of compromise the sheep become more and more addicted to the thoughts of men and not the Word of God. How else can you explain tens of millions of church members and huge auditoriums filled with people and a multiplicity of activities and a vast array of media outlets that reach hundreds of millions and yet with so little affect?

The problem is not the lack of communication skills, or not enough advertisement, or the lack of church goers, the problem is that the church no longer believes the Word of God. And many churches who would say the same thing are legalistic and even self righteous but their lives bear little difference than the liberal or seeker church down the street. And yet who shows any concern about the situation except a handful who are concerned with Joel Osteen and Rick Warren and Rob Bell, but not about their own condition? Who dwells upon the cross? Who is broken in times of deep and penetrating prayer? Who is so consumed with Christ and His redemptive goodness that they are moved to many tears?

Let someone sing a moving song at church and people’s eyes may get moist. But where are the soft lights that illuminate the night watches in homes, to say nothing of the church house? The Word clearly teaches that the end may be soon, but where are the shepherds who arrive at church some Sunday mornings after fasting and praying all night and they step behind the pulpit and instead of delivering a sermon they deliver the voice of God warning the hearers to flee from the wrath to come? The church service is so redundant and so contrived.

Watch as the television preacher struts across the platform and tells some story and receives thunderous applause from his listeners. Listen as the television huckster promises the listeners money and success if they plant some financial seed to him. The music programs are accomplished and moving, the buildings are great and colossal, the sermons activate the emotions, and yet when the curtain goes down all things remain the same. And tens of millions of believers go about complaining about the culture and their own circumstances. And in the midst of it all the Bible is read as a story or a doctrinal guide but not as a life command that requires sacrifice and self denial. And unlike Gideon everyone is accepted in this religious army regardless of how they drink from the brook.

Doctrinal hubris and cultural relevance have robbed God’s Word of its power in our lives. And the verses that seem way too culturally incongruent are massaged by exegetical masters in order to refine them into a more acceptable rendition and a more culturally sympathetic understanding. When it says whoever marries her that is divorced causes her to commit adultery, well that kind of rhetoric must be not just softened, but it must be completely explained away so that divorce can run rampant in the church but still be seen as the unpleasant norm. But that is just one obvious way in which the church marginalizes the Bible.

But let’s face it. If we are not willing to get off the cultural and narcissistic treadmill for a moment and take a long and deep look at the Scriptures, then the church will remain nothing more than a religious part of western life. If we cannot even see, much less admit, that something is desperately wrong and that we must be a large part of the problem, then we are doomed to continue the present, redundant religious expression. If we are not willing to completely surrender to God’s Word in a way that revolutionizes our lives, then we will remain the same, content with the powerless norm.

So what is the Word of God? If the written Scriptures are the communicative revelation that came directly from God through the use of human instruments, then what must be our response? It is so self righteous and self serving to make inspiration and inerrancy the overwhelming cornerstone of our faith but then relegate obedience to that Word as a passionless pursuit which finds most of its expression in a weekly trek to a certain building and an orthodox nod to a handful of moral issues. In fact, that kind of lifestyle belies the claim that we believe the Scriptures are God’s Word. Orthodoxy is measured by creeds and not by deeds.

We must, as believers, reduce our lives to wet clay as we approach the Word of God. We cannot rely on men and their interpretations as our standard and mold our lives according to what men say and teach. We must read and pray and read and pray and surrender our beings to what God has said and commanded. This is no easy task, and our flesh stands to combat our most sincere efforts. Our natural minds will suggest the absurdity of literally understanding the Scriptures, and the flesh will gladly provide many alternative interpretations and applications which will satisfy everyone involved. Satisfy everyone except the Lord Himself.

When we compromise the Word in order to accommodate our lusts and align ourselves with the normal church member spiritual depth we can enjoy some earthly contentment, fulfillment, and affirmation. However in so doing we will forfeit any and all divine favor and glory. There is great glory in serving Jesus with all our hearts, but that requires sacrifice and self denial. Nothing is born of God without travail. The path to a western life that is labeled as “Christian” is very smooth. The path that follows Jesus goes against everything the culture suggests and is traversed against the winds of this world. It is difficult.

But miraculously inherent within this labor of love is a sense of His presence and His glory which transcends human understanding. Suffering is endured with joy. Persecution elicits rejoicing. Mourning turns into dancing. The valley becomes an altar of praise. The temporal is vanquished in the eternal. Who can know it? This is the fruit of a life which not only believes things about the Word of God, but believes its teachings with such a surrendered heart that it submits itself fully to God’s mirror and bows to the Potter’s wheel. And when you have seen the Word in that light, and when you have been even for a moment on the Potter’s wheel, you realize that this is not the end but this is and always will be a journey. You will be defined by what you are pursuing and not where you are. Where you are will always fall short, but where you are going and Who you are following will by faith continue to openly manifest the spiritual birth still alive and growing within you.

That is the power and value of God’s Eternal Word. It must be held much higher than a printed page or a statement of faith. The only essence of inerrancy that can be claimed as legitimate can only be found in how much of our lives actually surrender to that inerrant Word. All the rest is little more than a doctrinal squabble.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

God Forgot to Give Arabs A Soul

**GOD FORGOT**
TO GIVE ARABS A SOUL
 

There once was a Savior named Jesus Christ. He was kind and gracious and a friend to sinners. However His message of redemption eventually became archaic and irrelevant in these more modern times.

The woman in the short video is Brigitte Gabriel who runs an organization dedicated to provide hatred against Arabs and the Palestinians. She is Lebanese and claims to be a Christian. Do you think her words are virulent? You have no idea, but did you see people applauding and smiling when she says Arabs are barbaric and have no souls?

So where do you think she was speaking these things? A Klan meeting? Neo-Nazi gathering? No, this was a gathering sponsored by the “Rev.” John Hagee. Oh yes, this was supposed to represent Jesus. And this woman’s views, although rarely spoken in such exposed terms, are very popular among evangelicals here in America. Arabs have no souls, she suggests to rousing applause.

And you thought that Islam was the only religion of hate? No, in today’s politically and ethnically charged atmosphere a new brand of Christianity has been formed. This kind does not turn the other cheek. This kind does not forgive. This brand of Christianity promotes war and violence and gets involved in any war which defends or promotes certain countries. If the country is America there are no holds barred. Bombs away! If the country is Israel, same thing.

But if the country is Darfur, this Christianity raises a lot of money by providing heart wrenching pictures, and then they keep a lot of the money to pay for the luxurious lifestyles of their leaders, and they might send a little humanitarian help. But they do not suggest military help because it is not in the national interests of either America or Israel. And anyway many of the starving children in Darfur are Arabs and have no souls. And remind me again, who was it that was barbaric? The video reminds me of a scene from a famous movie where the mob was discussing ways in which to make a great deal of profit by selling drugs. One of the mob bosses stands and says,

“…I don't want it near schools! I don't want it sold to children! That's an infamia. In my city, we would keep the traffic in the dark people, the coloreds. They're animals anyway, so let them lose their souls.”

Many people were shocked at such language, but at least that mob boss believed blacks HAD souls. And if you remember no one at that meeting was even shocked at his words, much less objected. But that kind of talk has become familiar in evangelical circles, especially as it pertains to Arabs or liberals. Hatred has now been embraced and practiced within the hearts and lives of supposed followers of Jesus Christ.

The teachings of Jesus are completely abandoned in favor of the nationalistic teachings of the day. While the martyrs once died for Jesus, today the poor must die for America in the name of Jesus. It is a pathetic portrait of the faith that once practiced self denial and pacifism. Hatred is now an evangelical commodity. No longer defined by humility and humanitarianism, Christianity shouts with nationalistic boldness and calls for the blood of the soulless masses who dare to attempt to alter our hedonistic lifestyles.

Armed with a mangled view of prophecy created by a montage of Old Testament verses that are forced into New Testament truths, the evangelical community blindly supports Israel in almost everything it does. Believing that God will bless them, millions upon millions of American believers march in lockstep with the support of Israel even though that support may be obviously at odds with the teachings of Scripture. That support is so deep and so extreme that men like John Hagee suggests that Jews do not need Jesus to be saved.

The eternal souls of men are now residual and even irrelevant because the affairs of this world need attending. And many do not believe Arabs have souls, just as many whites did not believe blacks had souls. The hatred of man against man has always been a breathtaking phenomenon, however that hatred and spiritual hubris has made its way into the church. Nationalism and its Siamese twin patriotism are the twin towers of compromise and even apostasy. The western church is so self righteous, so hedonistic, and so absorbed in its own self interests that it no longer even considers the souls of men except for a minor doctrinal aside.

But in the spirit of nationalistic fervor, I have recrafted some Scriptures that more accurately reflect the Americanism and Zionist flavor that God espouses today.

Love your enemies as you blow them apart.

But in lowliness of mind let each esteem others inferior to themselves.

Don’t suffer persecution but meet it with force.

Blessed are the war makers.

For God is a respecter of persons.

If a man smite you on the cheek, annihilate him.

For God is willing that most should perish.

For God so loved democratic capitalists, that He gave His only Son.

The parable of the socialist Samaritan.

Let your speech be seasoned with caustic rhetoric.

But the greatest of these is military might and lower taxes.

For the drones of the Lord run to and fro.

For what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his retirement portfolio.

If a man asks you for your coat tell him to get a job.

Be equally yoked with unbelievers if they love America.

And whosever’s name was not found as a Republican was cast into the lake of fire.
Count the cost of political adds.


Seek ye first the intent of the founding fathers and all these things will be added unto you.

Follow me and I will help you get out the vote.

For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, but especially the Arabs.

Go into all the world and preach the good news to every creature unless they hate you.

You see, doesn’t that fit much better in today’s church perspective?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Say What??

SAY WHAT??
 
 

 
Ya gotta love nationalism. It's always sees through one eye.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Western Evangelical Church


THE WESTERN EVANGELICAL CHURCH
USING THE GOSPEL
FOR A CLOAK OF HYPOCRISY

If the gospel of redemption is a foundational doctrine for your theology, but if it finds little expression in your life and words, then you are a hypocrite and you are using the gospel as a cloak for your carnal and condemnatory life. And if this same gospel doctrine does not forbid you to embrace idols, then you are a hypocrite. And if this gospel doctrine allows you to join hands with infidels, then you are a hypocrite. The number of hypocrites in evangelical circles is growing with each passing day.

Robert Morris, the pastor of a mega church, recently had Glenn Beck address his congregation and called him a believer. Kirk Cameron endorsed the influence of Glenn Beck. James Robison had unbelievers speak at his recent conferences. Just what has happened and is continuing to happen to the church? Who could have believed such things only a few decades ago? What deceptive leverage is being used to lead the church into both compromise and apostasy itself? Surely this must be a significant signal that the end is near.

Franklin Graham called Islam a wicked and evil religion, but he took down any negative mention of Mormonism from his internet site on cults. He reason? "If I want to win a person to Christ, how can I call that person a name?” Some hypocrisy here. Are we called to give our lives for Muslims or make them give us theirs through bombs and drones?

But the situation has spiraled to such a great degree that the gospel has become a mere doctrine which can be spouted when appropriate at certain meetings or at the end of political sermons, but it no longer seasons our lives and our lips. In fact, evangelicals can berate and castigate and demean all kinds of sinners, and they can join forces with infidels and cults, and still pretend they believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. The sad truth is that they now embrace a false gospel that still speaks the same words but has completely morphed into a different meaning altogether. This kind of gospel is nothing but a new and improved version of stone tablets.

And in today’s evangelical community if you can nod to a written doctrine, and better yet defend that written form, you are pronounced “orthodox”. And armed with that label you are free to roam around and demean sinners, castigate liberals, and generally spread words and attitudes of hate. And you can kneel before banners of red, white, and blue, and when asked if that is appropriate for a follower of Jesus you can point to your written doctrines as a proof of your doctrinal purity and as a license to do what the heathen do. In effect, you are using and abusing the gospel as cover for your deep compromises. And that canopy provides cover for violence, hatred, self righteousness, idolatry, greed, and a joining of the hands to any and all heathens, cultists, and even the most hateful and virulent voices of our age. But because your statement of faith has a traditional gospel construct, that absolves you from obeying the words and ways of Jesus. How wonderful.

But this is how far the church in general has sunk. Earthly battles now define the church. Its leaders are false teachers who in one hand hold the golden doctrinal tablets but the other hand is tightly joined to Mormons, unbelievers, and an array of unholy alliances. And hardly anyone really notices. But every two or four years Christians march into fallen voting booths and make God subservient to mob (majority) rule. It is an incredible act of spiritual treason which at its core is greed. Oh yes, if your eyes and ears are open you can see and hear evidence that indicts the heart and motives. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

I have come to see written doctrines as not only worthless as they are currently formed in the western church, but as they are used they are cloaks of self righteousness and “get of jail free” cards to act and speak like the fallen sinners all around us. And like a picky eater, the church separates a few chosen doctrines and feasts on those while ignoring and even disobeying volumes of teachings from the lips of our Lord and the New Testament writers. If You believe in the Trinity you can be hateful. If you espouse the virgin birth you can be greedy. If you believe in God's sovereignty you can complain. If you believe in the inerrancy of Scripture you can shout the sins of unbelievers from the housetops. And if you believe in the deity of Jesus Christ, you can frolic with those who do not. That is some Christian construct we have adopted.

But let us face facts. Most of what I have described has not come through the emergent church or liberal theologians. It isn’t Brian McLaren or Rob Bell or Joel Osteen that is shepherding the evangelical community to these unbiblical pastures. This is coming directly from all kinds of popular and respected leaders. And in these fellowships and movements men like James Robison join with Kenneth Copeland; Franklin Graham joins with T. D. Jakes; Southern Baptists join with Word of Faith leaders; and Calvinists join with Rick Warren. And without argument just what is the undertow that drags all these people together?

It is the open idolatry of nationalism. For years we assumed it would be the emergent church or the liberal theologians or the Joel Osteens or the prosperity movement that would cause the church to depart from Christ, and in some ways they have. But the tsunami of compromise and spiritual blindness was right in the churches we thought were orthodox and doctrinally pure. I mean those churches would never recommend Joel Osteen or Rick Warren or Kenneth Copeland, in fact they taught against them. But the love of an earthly nation brought them all together under the mission to “save a nation”. The Great Commission must wait since we have an Alternative Commission about which to attend. The president of Liberty University said it openly when he said, “We can worry about doctrine later, for now we have a nation to save”. That was in response to criticism that he invited Glenn Beck to speak at Liberty.

Does it ever occur to anyone that God has never been interested in “saving” any nation at all? Redemption is in the blood of Jesus, and that blood was shed for sinners not for governments. We don’t have a nation to save, we have a church that needs to repent. Does not God use persecution many times to purify His church? Doesn’t God send missionaries into some dark places in which they will hazard their very lives? Didn’t Jesus Himself come into a desolate land of sin and rebellion? And didn’t He leave without changing it? We are called to preach the gospel to every creature, and if God has already told us the overwhelming majority would chose the wide gate of destruction, then how can we believe democracy is a divine construct? Does God desire the heathen to rule over us?

But the heathens do rule over this earth and the whole world is lies in the wicked one. BUT WE ARE NOT OF THIS WORLD!!! When will we once again realize we are sojourners and pilgrims who have no earthly dwelling place? Our lives are in Christ with God, and the life that we now lead we live by the faith of the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us. This is no word game or some astro-projection exercise. This is a walk of faith in the Spirit and surrendered to the Word of God. No one and no thing commands our allegiance but Christ, and if we as the church walked in that reality it would not be many days before we all found the tip of Satan’s sword. But as it stands now we can recline and bask in the culture and become energized by causes that do not bear His name.

It is extremely difficult to live within the framework of the gospel when we are surrounded and bombarded by all sorts of carnal systems and the spirits of antichrist. And when the church invites them in and sanctifies them and teaches them as truth, then the sheep are scattered and many newborn sheep are born dead.

All over this world are hurting and suffering people. Little girls who have been molested by their fathers or a family friend. Little boys who are consistently beaten. Drug addicts who walk with unbreakable chains. Families who grieve for fallen soldiers. Rows of rooms in children’s hospitals filled with heartbreaking sights. Hundreds of thousands who live everyday with thoughts of suicide and thousands upon thousands who bring those thoughts into reality. Millions go hungry every day; thousands of children are forced to commit violence in Uganda; girls bodies mutilated because of wicked superstitions; hundreds of thousands of rapes; orphans by the millions; and against the horror of all these and more, God is calling the church to save a nation?

This is gospel blasphemy of the highest order. It is spiritual savagery. It takes the gospel of Jesus Christ and uses it to pursue the carnal dreams of men. And instead of being the message of eternal redemption, the gospel is now a doctrinal Sam’s club card that is checked at the door and allows its holder to enter the warehouse of Jesus’ teachings to be purchased and obeyed at a discount rate. This is where we are as a church. Repent now. He may come before the Mayan’s thought. Jesus said He would come when we do not even expect it. In this present evangelical climate, that means He could come at any time. Who know, who cares.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bullets and Swords and the True Faith


BULLETS AND SWORDS
AND THE TRUE FAITH
A Martyr.

Another Martyr.

And another Martyr.


To fully understand and appreciate this story and all its ramifications, we must put down our western eyes and pick up the eyes of God’s Spirit. In the third link is a man who believes on Jesus. He is not a conservative. He is not a proclaimed pro-lifer. He does not boldly state his position on traditional marriage. He has no economic policy except to feed his family. This man has become a believing follower of Jesus, and not just in word, but he is active in the underground Christian church in an extremely hostile environment in the predominantly Islamic country of Somalia.

He was not involved with attempting to change the political ways of his country, and he was not gathering votes. He was not invited to appear on talk shows, and he did not listen to Rush Limbaugh or Shawn Hannity. He attended no Tea party rallies, and he did not consider the founding fathers of Somalia as anything before God. He had a wife and four children which were put in jeopardy when he served Christ, but because he had an experience with the Risen Christ he could do no less.

He was a true servant of Jesus Christ. His name and life would have never been publicized except under the circumstances of his death. While certain preachers in the west are heralded as spiritual giants and have made massive amounts of money personally, this man lived a moderate and humble life. No television programs; no best selling books; no huge auditoriums; just a humble servant of Jesus. There can be only one conclusion: Either this man was following the true Jesus, or we in the west are. It cannot be both.

Now this kind of martyrdom happens frequently around the world. But the stories are such downers, most local churches would never read them from the pulpit for fear it would quench the contrived uplifting spirit the service is designed to create. Visitors might be turned off, and if these kinds of stories were read regularly the congregation just may get the idea that spending millions on large meeting places is a waste considering the plight of believers around the world. And besides, there are mortgages to be paid so the overwhelming portion of the offering must stay in the States.

How far have we wandered from Christ? Do we even acknowledge that these are our brothers and sisters in Christ, or because they do not live in our country do we consider them second class citizens and mostly good for a moving story? Countries like Somalia, Pakistan, India, Nigeria, and many others regularly put Christians to death and imprison many others. Their families are persecuted and they struggle to survive, and yet we live in spiritual Disneyland and remain oblivious to their plight because we are blinded by our own selfish concerns.

There are literally thousands of persecutions that go on weekly around the world which have nothing to do with moral and political issues. These believers are persecuted because they name the name of Jesus and profess to be His followers. While we raise up church giants through advertisements and widespread media, God raises up spiritual giants by the edge of the sword. While we spend millions on conferences these believers spend their lives for Jesus. While we take “Christian cruises” these believes take a bloody journey to heaven.

To say the western church has committed apostasy is now almost an understatement. We have systematically constructed a new and different religion and placed the label “Christian” upon it. It says it is Christian, but like a fake Rolex watch it is anything but the genuine article. While the true faith is made in heaven, this kind of religion is man made. But all over the world there are widows and fatherless children as well as orphans who have watched as their spouses and parents have gone faithfully to their death. Therein lies the glory of God.

Take a moment and reflect on such things. And in that light can you not at least see that there is something wrong here? The western believer complains about politics and taxes and gas prices and house equities and liberals and gays and socialists and health insurance and neighbors and all kinds of things. It is a carousel of carnality which goes on not only unabated, but is encouraged by the church. And today, this very day, someone will die because he or she was a follower of Jesus. And the western church cries crocodile tears when we are spoken against. Christians even suggest that we are being persecuted here in the west because people speak against us or because we cannot have a manger scene at city hall. What a complete sham!

But while we recline in the prosperous atmosphere here, bullets fly, swords slash, and heads are chopped off. And what is the church’s response in the west? All night prayer meetings? No! sacrificial giving to our brothers and sisters in peril? No! More volunteers to go oversees to spread the gospel? No! Brokenness before our Lord? No! The western church loudly proclaims how horrible the Islamic faith is and we soothe each other’s conscience because we are not like them. How many sermons and books and articles are written that denunciate Islam and provide a laundry list of its despicable nature. And of what redemptive value is that? We continue to live in our own cocoon.

Oh Dear Lord, break our hearts today. We have lived unto ourselves, and while our brothers and sisters have suffered greatly we have lived in abundance. We have self righteously suggested we are being persecuted while blood continues to be spilled around the world. We have become despondent over elections while widows and orphans still strive to serve Christ. We have complained about our own circumstances while millions of our brethren suffer need.

Lord, we need a mighty move of Your Spirit in our lives and in our churches. We cannot and will not seek it ourselves, so You must do in us what we do not even desire to be done.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sleeping at the Apocalypse

SLEEPING AT THE APOCALYPSE

The book that was placed last in the canon is called The Revelation, or The Apocalypse. Although it contains a multitude of prophetic revelations both plain and hidden in symbolism, its main theme is the coming of Jesus Christ back to this earth. It outlines the climax of all human history, and it sounds the death knell for the unredeemed both living and dead. With alarming language and some horrific imagery, this book reveals some future events that are beyond our imagination and even when taken as metaphorical should strike fear in everyone’s heart. This is no Dante wannabe, this is a coming reality which will shake the earth.

The word “revelation” is the word “apocalypse” in the Greek. My Greek professor explained it like this. A man has keys in his front pocket. You can see the bulge they make, and you can hear them as he walks. But when he reaches down into his pocket and pulls them out and opens his hand with the keys in it, that is an apocalypse. He has revealed his keys openly. And this wonderful, mysterious, and unsettling book is rightly called the Apocalypse, or The Revelation. And though it reveals many things with metaphorical language and shadows and glimpses, the first verse states the unquestioned them. This is the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Rev.1: 1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

I do not profess to know with specificity all the events and players mentioned in this book, and I doubt anyone has it all figured out. But like many prophecies, it teaches them in somewhat hidden language and with many kinds of literal metaphors. But regardless of the minute details, the overarching theme is evident. God will judge all creatures upon this earth, and Jesus Christ will come again. And in that context the inhabitants of the earth will suffer greatly with all kinds of divine judgments. Do not mistakenly believe that those of us who extend grace and believe in nonviolence in this gospel age are ignorant to the coming wrath of God which will be poured out with a vengeance upon this earth.

Jude tells us that some will be saved through the fear of God. And if we believe even the most gracious interpretation of this prophetic book we must feel a sense of foreboding and apprehension. This is no prophetic game, and this is no “pin the tail on the antichrist” recreation. This is as serious as it can get. This is the line between eternal death and eternal life. No one can escape. No one can hide. All of us will be a part of this either upon this earth or from the perspective of our Redeemer. The Lamb of God will return as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

This prophetic chronicle warns of a time of trouble which eclipses anything the earth has ever seen or ever will. While the world plays all kinds of games this horrific benediction approaches. Even to a casual observer who pauses for a moment the signs grow increasingly ominous. We in the west live in a cocoon insulated by entertainment, sex, greed, and the consuming influence of earthly power and politics. This is now the season for an obscene amount of shopping and gluttony all wrapped up in some innocuous religious sentimentality. We love holidays regardless if they are Biblical or not. These man made observances that provide platforms for many kinds of sin and spiritual witchcraft are treated as golden calves. And even if they were aligned with New Testament exhortations, there is little solemnity and much unbridled hedonism.

But while we party and play the world continues to march toward an unimaginable prophetic cliff. Men talk of financial cliffs, budgetary cliffs, economic cliffs, but even the church is silent about the monstrous cliff of divine intervention and wrath. Talk shows chat about nothing; men and women gain popularity; governmental systems are worshiped; morals are now political sides; and yet the only fear is the fear of losing wealth. The evangelical church is a well organized picnic designed to make people happy and feeling good about themselves. And Christian leaders have become idols with great and swelling followings while their bank accounts swell. And even if the church does talk about prophecy it is never with a palpable sense of urgency and eminent dread. Compare this: During the primary season candidates castigate each other so deeply that you could never expect their support if the other won. But as soon as the party nominates a certain candidate, the other politicians express their full support for the person they recently denounced. All of us are shocked by that kind of disingenuousness. And because their rhetoric is so easily changed we deem politicians as liars. The whole system is a lie.

But listen as a preacher talks about the end times. He reads certain unsettling portions of Scripture, and he suggests that the signs are growing exponentially. He eloquently communicates his thoughts on the state of the world and even gives a kind of warning to his listeners about the coming judgment of God. But as soon as the “service” is over, that same preacher smiles and shakes hands and greets people as if the performance is now over. And just like his congregation he hurries to the restaurant to eat sumptuously and enjoy some light hearted fellowship. Now I ask you, does he really believe what he just said from the pulpit?

I share once again an example I believe illustrates the point. A man sits and watches television in his home. He hears a knock at his front door and he lets in his neighbor. The neighbor sits with this man and they both watch the football game. They chit chat about their lawns, the current fiscal situation, and what the local football team should do to guarantee a playoff berth. They eat a sandwich and drink a beer. But without taking his eyes off the game, the neighbor says without raising his voice,

“By the way, Fred, as I walked up your driveway I noticed your back bedroom was engulfed in flames.”

Now I ask you, would the owner of the house even for a moment believe his neighbor? In fact, does the neighbor even believe his own words? Surely it must be a joke. With such a statement, and if that statement was in fact true, wouldn’t that almost always result in some behavior out of the norm? And if a preacher suggests that Christ’s return is eminent and full of God’s wrath, wouldn’t that be accompanied by some kind of emotion that would alter his normal everyday behavior if he indeed believed it?

Listen, I know we cannot live completely undone every single moment of our lives. I realize we are called to care for our families and have some relaxation and even some light hearted fellowship. But that is not my point here. Why is there never a day or a week in which we are so broken over the wrath to come and the plight of the lost that we lose our appetites and are driven to boldly witness to friends and family and strangers? Why are we never driven to elongated seasons of fasting and prayer? Why do we weep over a movie or a dog and yet shed no tears over eternal souls? And how in God’s dear name can a preacher preach about the coming judgment (if they ever do) and step down from his speech and exhibit the same emotion, the same behavior, and generally the same demeanor as he did last week? And after sharing the horror that he says is on its way soon, how can he, at least that week, go and play golf, watch television, and enjoy lunch times with his preacher pals within a spirit of gaiety?

Oh, but the answer is very simple. He really doesn’t believe it. There is a vast difference between believing a doctrine and believing a truth. One is of man and the other is of God. One is used to support your orthodoxy while the other breaks you. What have we done? We have created a doctrinal monster which affects our lives so little that we can live unremarkably within the kingdom of darkness. We have made political issues more important than the gospel of Jesus Christ. Year after year we celebrate the same holidays as do the heathens and feel so sentimental about Jesus. People like Fred Phelps will travel across the nation to spread hate and yet we can live decades without witnessing to anyone.

And the church writes books and produces movies about the coming tribulation period but they afford little more than prophetic entertainment while providing wonderful financial compensation for their authors. Bring back a handful of early church believers or a few martyrs and ask them to assess the current western church and they may likely conclude there is no western church at all. How can a believer wait outside a department store for many hours the day after Thanksgiving but never spend hours praying into the night? The whole world is aflame with sin and hurdling toward a Christless eternity and yet the church comes and goes with such predicable ambivalence? Can we even kid ourselves anymore because we surely are not fooling God.

With the Middle East smoldering; with the world on the verge of economic collapse; with violence permeating the world; with nuclear weapons spreading into unstable hands; with all kinds of curious weather events; and yet the church continues to paddle downstream and enjoy the festivities of this life. This is not, nor has it ever been, the true faith called Christianity. Giving presents to each other and suggesting that celebrates His birth? Presenting His Second Coming in a doctrinal museum? Accumulating debt alongside the unsaved? Divorcing at a rate that competes with the unregenerate? Building great edifices mortgaged by the heathen? Pledging allegiance to a system of antichrist? Visiting monuments erected to the glory of men? What kind of faith is that?

And still the wrath of God hangs over this world only delayed by the redemptive patience of God. No wonder Jesus asked if He would find faith upon His return. Instead of hanging our heads in shame and seeking repentance with all our beings we long to be stroked and reassured of our intrinsic worth. We enjoy seminar after seminar and book after book and Cd after Cd on how to have a happy marriage, and yet where are the voluminous seminars about fasting, praying, and having a self denying devotion to Jesus? Forget about seminars about fasting and praying, where is fasting and praying even practiced?

Even some heathen cultures and tribes sense and predict some sort of cataclysmic end to all this. They are correct in principle but without the only answer. It is all too tragic. The apocalypse is upon us but still it has no affect on us. And if the righteous are scarcely saved, what will happen to the lost? Oh can we ever regain a sense of the eternal and a real and tangible sense of the impending doom? Is it all just some religious Dungeons and Dragons, or is it a coming reality with a force unknown to us in this life? I certainly am not the example nor is my life what should be emulated. However I am a voice that speaks some uncomfortable truths about us all.

This is the end. In the words of Jesus spoken to Judas, “What you are going to do go and do it quickly”. Haven’t we dipped our ladle into the pleasures of this world enough to satisfy our earthly lusts yet? Must we have more of the same? Doesn’t your heart yearn to be released from the prison of the redundant here and now and allowed to soar into the realm of God’s Spirit? Are you not even concerned about your own soul, or have the comforting voices of religious sirens convinced you that there is nothing about which to be concerned?

The devil held a meeting with all his wicked demons. He wanted input as to how best to deceive God’s people and the unsaved people alike. One demon spoke up and said,

“Let’s tell them there is no heaven!”

All the demons applauded. The devil thought is was a good idea as well. Another demon shouted,

“Let’s tell them there is no hell!”

The demonic forces erupted in loud and sustained applause. The devil thought that was even better. But one demon stood up and shouted out,

“Let’s tell them there is no hurry!!!”

The devil rose to his feet and proclaimed that as the best strategy.

And so it is today. Push the snooze button once again, there is no hurry.

Crossing the Line

CROSSING THE LINE

I do not believe anyone can accuse me of being unsympathetic to people with same sex attractions. In fact, I have consistently held out the hope of gospel grace to those folks. I am not legalistic by claiming anyone must be perfect to be saved, for if I did not one could be saved, me most of all. And especially when we are dealing with the sin of unbelievers, I take a gospel stand.

I even suggest patience when a gay person believes on Christ and does not adjust his lifestyle as quickly as some demand. That is the process of a post redemptive life. I had many outward sins several years after I was born again until I repented and by God’s grace left them. But what would happen if one of my grown children came out as gay? How would I react, and what would be my convictions concerning the church? These are serious issues in these last days.

First of all I would still love my child. I would reassure him or her of my love, and try to show it in many ways. I would not berate them or demand they cease and desist immediately. I guess I would pray with many tears and anguish as well. And if my child would still claim to be a believer I would not discount that out of hand. I would hope I could make room for the ministry of the Spirit rather than let the uncomfortable situation move me to any language of hate or any self righteousness. Most of all I would hope that any embarrassment would never enter my mind because I would know ho judgmental the church is about this issue.

But there must be a line across which we cannot go. We can never suggest we believe the Scriptures and embrace that lifestyle as valid. Although we must remain humble and always cognizant of our own sins, we cannot demonstrate a disdain for the Scriptures as it pertains to sin. The Scriptures and nature itself are clear, but we must remember they are also clear about humility, grace, and love. I realize the many tensions that presents as well as the fine line we are called to walk.

But even if my son came out as gay, I could never attend a gay marriage ceremony, much less perform one. I love my children with all my heart, but I must love Christ more. Much more. And I cannot and will not compromise openly by embracing unbiblical actions within the church. I would weep. I would fast. I would battle depression. But I could never be a part of such a blatant act of sin. And I have linked to an article that represents the dangerous nature of the emergent and liberal church. In an effort to exhibit love to his child, this leader has openly discarded the Scriptures and made them bow to his own thoughts. This is the line which must never be crossed. Even when we sincerely attempt to walk in God's grace as much as possible, there will always be a line that cannot be crossed.

So when you read some of my views about grace and love and the scope of personal redemption, remember this post as well.

HERE IS THE LINK.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Charlie America

CHARLIE AMERICA

Let’s say you believed a person was a Christian, but then certain things happened in that person’s life. He donated to abortion clinics; he rallied in favor of same sex marriage; he began a world wide porn business; he made much money selling drugs; he became extremely violent; he was consumed with financial prosperity; and he advocated for all religions to be accepted as divine. When you asked this person why he had changed, he handed you a book he had written many years ago. It stated that he would adopt no particular religion and that all religions would be treated as equals. Now here are some penetrating questions:

Would you still strongly suggest that person was Christian?

Would you pledge allegiance to that person?

Would you hang a picture of that person in your Christian school?

Would you go to war to protect that person?

Would you display that person’s family banner in your church sanctuary?

Would you raise your children to emulate that person?

But let’s say that person’s name was Charlie America. Why would you not love and follow that person’s teachings but you will worship and give your allegiance to an entity name America? They both have the same theology.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Freeing a Slave


FREEING A SLAVE

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

When the slaves were set free in America many times the former masters did not provide for them a new life. Millions of slaves, although now free, had to fend for themselves in a white and prejudiced world. Yes, they were now free legally but they remained enslaved in a world of bigotry and segregation. And many times inside they still saw themselves as slaves or at least as subservient to white people. The repercussions of the horror of slavery continues to reverberate all the way down to today.

Yes, the country has made great progress. Through education, sports, and many black Americans who refused to allow prejudice to keep them down, society has changed significantly. It is very sad that the church was never a leading entity in the post slavery fight for equality and justice, in fact it was sometimes a barrier or at least ambivalent. And much of the prosperity movement in the American church has enslaved black believers by appealing to their greed. And that lust for material things and personal wealth is obvious in all races, however in the black community there are unmistakable residual effects from being kept in poverty through the decades. They had been free from outward slavery but now they have been enslaved inwardly. But make no mistake, millions of white people have been enslaved as well.

But spiritual slavery cannot be overcome through proclamations and edicts. And it cannot be overcome through any outward adjustments or freedoms. Jesus clearly teaches us that true spiritual freedom can only come from the inside first and then it will affect us outwardly. The first and most important step is faith in Jesus Christ which sets the spirit free and makes a sinner a new creation in Christ. Without that everything else is just religion, insidious and deadly.

But after we are set free from the eternal penalty of sin through Jesus Christ our Lord, it is imperative we replace the inward rot with the new wine of God’s Word and the power of God’s Spirit. How often has the church created an assembly line evangelism which manipulates sinners into a surface profession of faith only to move on to the next project? Even if a person genuinely believes on Christ and is saved, he still is in desperate need of an inward cleansing and metamorphosis. This is called sanctification and it is also called discipleship. But so often if the person gives up smoking or begins to come to church or has some other observable change they are treated as if they had arrived. Nothing can be further from the truth.

The heart, or the inward man, is a powerful force all its own. When a person enjoys some outward victories which run far ahead of any substantive inward spiritual changes, the evil one convinces him of his spiritual strength. And that begins a dangerous path which so often leads to shipwreck. But, sadly, the church in general has become consumed with the outside and deals infrequently with the inside. And even taking it a giant step downward, the church now calls professing believers to an outward set of moral and economic principles and those who adhere to the party line are deemed “faithful Bible believers”. That is another man made phrase which presents an air of superiority and eschews the humility necessary to be a follower of Jesus.

The overwhelming essence of the faith called Christianity is an inward faith. It is birthed by faith inside the heart and soul of a believing sinner, and there it either grows or stagnates. The outward manifestations are revelations of that inward dynamic. But there is a danger when the outward becomes the pursuit and the cause rather than the effect and the natural residual flow. So when a sinner who is demonstrably immoral believes on Jesus and is born again and he leaves that immoral life, it must be because he has been changed from the inside out. But in today’s brand of Christianity in the west we preach, we strive, and we concentrate on certain moral standards and ecclesiastical parameters. So if you have given up some bad habits, and if you are nominally faithful to a local assembly, you are unquestionably a believer in good standing. But that standard lacks the power of the Spirit and parades the outside of the cup and assumes something about the inside of the cup which may not be true.

And since the church has adopted a political fetish, these moral issues, although restricted to a few, are now the gold standard for being a disciple. And love and grace and humility and mercy are not considered moral in this new construct at least when compared to abortion or traditional marriage. Those have become the gospel itself. So conservative people who share those moral perspectives can and do sit in evangelical pews weekly and feel good about themselves while millions may be sitting in eternal peril. But the preacher and the evil one, working in concert, have convinced these people that gays and liberals and socialists are the ones who stand under the weight of God’s wrath while the common hard working heterosexual capitalist may not be perfect but he is surely better than those miscreants. And that kind of Christianity is a recipe for spiritual death.

Lk.11: 23 He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.
24 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out.
25 And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished.
26 Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.

This principle is very profound. We cannot just be satisfied with cleaning up our lives without creating and nurturing a spiritual growth in our hearts. This man had gotten rid of an unclean spirit, but he did not replace that spirit with a more powerful spirit of righteousness. And eventually that unclean spirit returned only to find his original place of habitation all clean and neat, but empty. That unclean spirit came with friends and a greater demonic power.

Therein lies an important principle. It is not enough to plant good seed and then walk away. Soon the weeds will take over. When we become believing followers of Christ many things begin to change. And so often we become fixated on our outward changes and we ignore the inward man. The cart rides before the horse. And when we elevate the outward above the inward and place great weight upon that which is seen over that which is unseen, we immediately wade into the waters of self righteousness. Like a painter pointing people to an exhibition of the paintings of which he is most proud, but exerts great energy to hide his personal flaws, so does the church create great and swelling banners of morality and conservatism, yet sweeps the voluminous shortcomings and sins under the carpet.

It is quite the spectacle. When we seek the inward man we are faced with our own mortality and sinfulness placed against the august greatness and holiness of our Redeemer. It is within that sanctuary where we do real and painstaking and glorious business with Christ our Lord. It is in the majesty of that threshing floor where we are brought low and humbled as we worship the Exalted One. It is when we are alone with Christ in our inner life where we are who we really are and not the person we so often pretend to be. The church has become a playground for pretenders who easily scale the lower hills of earthly morals but refuse to even acknowledge the unscaled mountains of the life and person of Jesus Christ.

Moral tenants can be so easily embraced on the pages of written doctrines and printed sermons. But to exhibit Christ through an earthly life is a mystery which requires much more than picking some low hanging fruit. It begins with the denial of self, which is in and of itself a colossal task. Self is an accomplished deceiver and as soon as its lordship seems to be placed in jeopardy it can perform all kinds of maneuvers designed to deceive us into believing it has submitted. But like a possum, it is only playing dead. It can even transform itself into a form of religion and an outward show of self denial, but all the while it is only waiting for an opening to once again stretch its fallen wings.

The flesh relies on being measured by the outward appearance. It can claim to have ceased certain habits and even pick up a few more acceptable ones. But again, those are outward awards which applaud the ability of the flesh and often times leave smoldering the fires of the flesh just waiting to be stoked once more. Oh yes, the inward life of a true believer is not for the weak of heart or the quick fix sinner. This kind of inward warfare is vicious which not only does battle with the spirits of wickedness, but often is most bloody when the war is between you and you. That battle rages and can only be won when one or the other is put to death. Unconditional surrender is the only option, and to reach some earthly armistice is spiritual defeat.

But how often, you ask, must we fight this war? Every single day, and every single moment. But do not conclude that this kind of life is without rewards and only a hard taskmaster. Oh no, there are treasures in the Spirit that cannot be explained. There are experiences of power that take away your breath. There are entrances into His presence which are truly mystical and yet completely tethered to God’s Word. There are layers of revelation of Christ that are universal truths and yet personalized just for you. It is the incredible ministry of the Spirit.

So there are two paths placed before us. One is the well worn path that seeks outward reformation and recognition. It is the path which has many comrades and walks in the shade while avoiding the heat of the sun. Yes, it is what man would call the blessed life. Tickets are selling fast.

But there is another path that begins with a warning to count the cost. This path has great and exceeding promises which live in the realm of the Spirit, but few earthly promises. The blessings of this path are unspeakable and filled with glory, but they cannot be measured by worldly standards. The path demands sacrifice. This path is a labor of love, but a labor nonetheless. This path tests the will and is filled with temptations at every turn. This path is never crowded and there are few encouraging voices in the earth. If this is the path you wish to traverse you must understand that many have started and become weary and changed paths. Discouragement will be a constant companion. Your flesh will kick and scream and reason with you. Look around you, who is walking with you? Even the most committed believers you know have avoided such rough terrain. You must have made a serious mistake.

But if your eyes are on that Celestial City you will find strength. If you believe your life abides in heaven you can make it. If the things of this world are strangely dim you can resist temptation. But remember the most important part of this path. Jesus is not only walking it with you, He has already walked it once before. Look at Him. Listen to Him. Love Him. Worship Him. With each step He will empower you to take another. And one more thing. The path I just described cannot be found here on earth. It is inside you. Your freedom from the slavery of sin is within you.

Do I sound like a dreamer?

Ps.126: When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.
2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them.
3 The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The World Has Ended for Some


THE WORLD HAS ALREADY ENDED FOR SOME

I watched a program about a heroin addict. She was 23 years old and had been an addict for many years. At the age of 13 her mother decided to live her own life and ran away. She shacked up with a boyfriend. The girl’s father was somewhat emotionless and was employed as an engineer. Needless to say none of them were believers. As the girl went from alcohol to pot and all the way to heroin, she still desired to contact her mother.

Finally she went to visit her mother and although the relationship was strained, she went several times. On one visit the mother’s boyfriend raped this girl. He raped her several times over the next few months but the girl kept quiet. Finally, she opened up and told her mother. Instead of calling the authorities (she was 15 at the time) the mother blamed her daughter for perhaps leading the boyfriend on. That lead the 15 year old girl into heroin.

Let me inform all you believers who suggest the world will end if gay marriage becomes legal. For some, like this girl, the world has already ended. And while we play stick our finger in the moral dike, millions like this girl need Jesus. I doubt the western church even cares anymore.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Love Your Enemies?

LOVE YOUR ENEMIES?

It sounds so simple and so simplistic and even so na├»ve. Because it is so remarkable and so fanatical, we assume it must be diluted and made to be observed in certain circumstances and ignored when it doesn’t make any sense. There are times when this teaching is illogical and seems to surrender to evil, when in fact it is those very circumstances where this teaching shines the brightest. But what if it costs us our lives? And therein lies the root problem, we desire to live and preserve our lives at the expense of living His.

But how can we love through violence? How can we love when we see people as enemies and not as living objects of redemption? I realize this teaching is way too radical for a Christian faith which has become predictable and nicely woven into an earthly culture. And the most amazing thing has happened. We have taken the Scriptures and made pretty little lines of flowery doctrines, stepped back, and admired our handiwork. In effect we have marketed the Scriptures to ourselves, and whatever teaching is uncomfortable, inconvenient, or costly we have whittled it into round pegs that fit into the round holes of our culture.

But so many of the teachings of Jesus cannot fit into the culture at all. And that is by design. His words confront the culture and are so revolutionary that we must either alter our thoughts and lives or alter His teachings. But like an innocuous Hallmark Card we have taken the “love your enemies” phrase and juxtaposed it upon certain quaint experiences in our cute little lives. We must forgive the one who cut in line before us. We must forgive that man who was unkind to our child. But let us be honest here. We do not even love our friends, much less our enemies. The word love has been so diluted and made so sensual that it carries no spiritual weight at all.

Come on, Jesus, let’s be real here. Surely you cannot expect us love those who hate us and are trying to kill us. I mean we live in the real world here. There comes a time when we must fight fire with fire. There will be time for hearing about loving our enemies in church, but when the circumstances demand it we must take up arms and fight alongside those who do not know You. That seems like the only way to preserve our way of life here on earth. We would rather not do it, but we must. It is the way of the jungle. Kill or be killed.

Below I have linked to two videos about a Palestinian man who is a Christian and is attempting to follow the teachings of Jesus. If you need your doctrinal fix as is usually described as doctrine, then you may look elsewhere. These kinds of teachings are not included in a western statement of faith, and they are not part of any cardinal doctrine list. What you will hear is raw obedience to a teaching that comes from Jesus under the most trying of circumstances. Open your ears and your heart and see what the Spirit is saying to this humble and unassuming man who claims to follow Jesus.

 


Have you listened? Have you heard? Can you see?
How far have we strayed from what Jesus said?
Let us all repent and take a first step toward His life.
What the world sees now in the western church is nothing more than a normal western lifestyle with a few religious words sprinkled in for effect.
Help us, Jesus, to follow You whatever the cost.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

God Rejects Democracy


GOD REJECTS DEMOCRACY

Democracy was first instated by the humanistic Greeks who believed man was a god form. Remember that.

I guess it all depends on the outcome. So many professing believers have loudly suggested or implicitly implied that democracy is God’s way on the earth. Democracy ( representative republic) is a funny thing. For the most part people love it when they are in the majority and don’t love it when they are in the minority. So when elections and legislations go against their beliefs, they find democracy wanting. And even when democracy works exactly as it is intended, they fail to see that and instead, you guessed it, complain.

Yes, complaining is the new praying. Perhaps people feel that God now answers complaining and criticizing and fault finding. Instead of praying God inclines His ear to complaining, especially when the complainer feels strongly that his complaining is based upon truth. But is that what the Scriptures teach? Are we allowed to complain and murmur because what we are saying may be true? If you are basing that upon democracy than yes, complaining is part of the game. But if you are basing that upon Scripture, than complaining is sin.

But let us look at what millions of believers are complaining about. I have heard committed believers say that this years election was won because tens of millions of Americans desire government handouts. Mitt Romney suggested the same. But now I ask you this question: Isn’t that democracy working? I am not saying it is or isn’t true, but even if it is true so what? Isn’t that democracy? Even if the majority of the electorate are moochers and takers and abusers of the system, and they elect people who give them what they want, isn’t that democracy is action? Yes, that is exactly what a democracy is.

Now if you lived in a monarchy and the king did not want to have all his subjects dependent upon him, then he could do whatever he wanted. But in a democracy, the majority can leverage the system. And Scripture teaches that the majority will always be walking the wide gate of destruction while the narrow way has few travelers. There will always be more lost people than there are saved people. That is a Biblical reality, and in that context, why would God choose lost people to rule over saved people? It is a practical and spiritual paradox. The answer is God does not.

God is the Creator of all things, and even the idea of human government comes form God. But God’s purposes in human government must never, never be a companion and a friend to God’s purposes for the church. Human government, even if it allows for free worship, is still completely at odds with the commands and purposes of the true church. We do not worship because the government in which we live allows us to. Our worship and our obedience do not hinge, nor are they expanded, because we live in what some call a free society. That is completely irrelevant and must never be considered a friend to God’s people.

Much of the church has erroneously believed that democracy is a companion to God’s church. It is not, and although sometimes we are afforded earthly freedoms which seem to make worship more convenient, democracy is still an enemy of all things spiritual and to the true body of Christ. But once we lost an eternal perspective and begin to admire earthly systems, there then begins a process in which those earthly systems begin to be assimilated into the hearts and minds of God’s people. And eventually the church begins to compromise to such a degree it begins to decay. And if enough earthly poison has been embraced by the church it adversely affects the definition and presentation of the gospel itself.

And when a church reaches that point, its spiritual offspring are no longer born with the divine life of Christ but are rather born prematurely with a desire for the earthly benefits that come with change. In effect, you have millions of professing believers who have been fed a message of self aggrandizement, earthly success, nationalistic superiority, and a higher level of morality rather than the message of God’s dear Son. The motives within a sinner’s heart have been compromised to a great degree by the dilution and the cultural manipulation of the gospel message.

To put it simply, the church falls in love with its earthly surroundings, incorporates their love for their surroundings into their view of God, and openly and subtly invite the surroundings to affect and infect their gospel message and their overall view of Scripture. And when that kind of deception enters the church, it affects the reproductive process and results in serious mutations. Like mothers exposed to high degrees of radiation whose babies are born with defects and even born dead, so it is with the church when we have been so exposed to spirits of antichrist, compromise, and worldly systems and then embrace them as divine. It is a recipe for spiritual disaster.

And that is exactly what the church has done as it pertains to nationalism and democracy. We have embraced falsehoods and even made them part of our spiritual thought processes. It begins with a high view of man, and in this case the founding fathers. It travels further to a high view of earthly systems, and in this case democracy. It then even translates into a high view of human documents, and in this case the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. And once we relinquish the exclusivity of Scripture and the Lordship of Jesus Christ, even though we claim we are reserving them untouched, the process of compromise leads to deterioration which leads to heresy which ultimately leads to apostasy.

The western church has gone through this process and now is in the last breaths with the death rattle of spiritual death. Too hyperbolic for your taste? Too melodramatic? Oh yes, we who live in the village of doctrinal orthodoxy have insulated ourselves with straw men like Rob Bell and Joel Osteen and Rick Warren, all of whom lead their own regiments of heretical teachings and spiritual falsehoods to be sure. But we have used them as cover for our own spiritual compromises and overt practices of idolatry and spiritual rebellion. Nationalism, patriotism, and democracy are all enemies of Christ and until we see them for what they truly are in the Spirit we will continue down a path of apostasy and spiritual fornication. Yes, it is that serious.

As citizens in a democratic nation you are allowed to see the creation of this nation as divinely created. You are allowed to create fictional accounts of the founding fathers. You are allowed to have your own views about how God wants this nation to be a shining light for the world. In this democracy you are allowed to have all those kinds of opinions and views and more.

But as a citizen of God’s Kingdom you are not permitted such self serving freedoms. You are not permitted the luxury of complaining. You are not permitted to label people with caustic words. You are not permitted to join forces with unbelievers. You are not allowed to give allegiance to earthly governments. In short, you are not allowed to ignore or rewrite God’s Word in order to make it a source for earthly utilitarianism. God’s Word, God’s Spirit, and God’s people are not available for earthly use and to be lent for earthly causes, especially as it concerns changing environments that are more convenient and comfortable for our own lives.

And what has become most startling of all is to see how the western believer engages in all kinds of earthly devices and manipulations in order to promote a climate that is more advantageous to his own personal wealth. That is the unmistakable reality and it is a result of refusing to see wiles of the evil one through things which may seem innocuous but which are in reality the path to spiritual death.

And now, when the democratic process has not produced the results many believers had hoped it would, you see disappointment, depression, hatred, and a general climate of complaint. Democracy has worked, and although that is what the church has embraced as divine, the church refuses to accept the inevitable because it still walks in the fog of its own fallen imaginations. What a profound and self nourishing quandary. But as far as can be determined, the church at large is still blind to the real problem and continues to blame liberals, socialists, elected officials, and even voting lethargy among conservatives.

A handful of blind men gather together and buy a house in which they will all live. They all agree for a basic format for where the furniture will be placed, but that furniture placement can be changed as long as the majority desire that change. The problems are minor in the beginning, but when more and more blind people come to live in the house the problems begin to surface. Soon people are moving the furniture all over the place, and many blind people begin to trip and fall. They become enraged over how the furniture has been moved. They want the furniture to return to its original floor plan, but more blind people want it to evolve. The problem is not that the furniture has been moved; the problem is that the agreement allowed for the furniture to be moved. While the original blind people call the others blind, they cannot understand that they are blind as well.

The effects of nationalism and democracy have been far reaching within the evangelical community. This affection for the systems of man has not only compromised the church and eaten away her spiritual life, it has severely hindered the spread of the gospel itself. Christ cannot be joined to idols, and when that happens the Spirit of God is kept at bay. No longer can we look to Christ because Christ is not here. He is calling us to come our from among them while we are simultaneously calling Him to come and be a part of our carnal evangelical construct. There are not two masters; there is only one at a time. And that master is America draped in democracy.

If we ever hope to be free we must reject our idols and repent of our compromise. There is no hope but Christ. And there is no power but Christ. We have sold our birthright for the pottage of democracy, and has been evidenced by this past year, in democracy we have placed our hope. To pray to Christ to help with the systems of man is to pray to a false god. Do you love Christ or do you love democracy? You cannot love both. God continues to reject democracy.