Monday, February 18, 2013

The Journey of Death that Leads to Life and the Journey of Life that Leads to Death


Matt.10: 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

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.

What is life? What is death? Are these terms just defined by a blood flow or a consciousness? Is life a compilation of years? Is it a collection of material things and wealth? Is death the loss of material things? Well, as far as the world is concerned that is exactly what men mean. And men measure life and death in those ways. But just what is Christ speaking of when he uses such terms?

No one can understand the things of the Spirit unless the Spirit reveals them to him. And the Spirit will not reveal those things to an unregenerate man. Only when a sinner is redeemed and transformed by the power of that Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ can a human being understand the things of the Spirit. And when we have been given the mind of Christ only then can we know that life does not consist of the abundance of things, and that death does not mean the cessation of the muscle known as the human heart. It is almost impossible to describe to a lost person the experience of being born again, but that spiritual experience changes everything. Yes, I said everything.

The world and everything that is in it suddenly appears very different. The things we once assumed were important now seem peripheral and even the enemies of our spiritual beings. And the word “life” now can only be understood in conjunction with the Lord Jesus, and the word death is now history for us since we died at Calvary. The only death we now seek is the death to our own ambitions, our own desires, our own ways, our own understanding, and literally a death to our own carnal life. Although no one seeks a physiological death, we no longer fear its implications. As Paul said, “To live is Christ and to die is gain”.

So why do we cling feverously to this life and all its allurements? Why do we allow our flesh to dictate our desires since the path we say we have chosen cannot, must not, lead to where we desire to go. The divine path is stained by the stripes meted out upon His back, and that trail of blood leads to the place of death, Golgotha. And it is there we die to live. In this there can be no compromise or dilution. And where is the church calling and exhorting us to come and die? The abundant life that is so often touted is only found in an abundant death.

This is not psycho-babble or the brothers Grimm. This is the very essence of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Sacrifice and self denial are a great privilege and reflect His glory while raining joy within our souls. But in today’s evangelical three ring circus self denial is seen as a problem and self affirming and self elevation is encouraged. Preachers are gods and churches are centers of performing arts. Watch the television and the so called Christian programs which are filled with accomplished thespians who make merchandise of the sheep and the goats.

The abundant life is now defined as what pleases me and my own desires. Serving Jesus is now sowing seed which means giving money to preachers. This is not just a minor aberration of the faith. It is not even a major aberration of the faith. It is not Christianity at all and it preaches another Jesus altogether. And people by the millions watch these demon circus acts and they send in their money in hopes to see a Genie grant their wish. The entire evangelical landscape is awash in doctrines of demons and an open display of the spirit of antichrist. Make no mistake, regardless of which Christian television show you watch, it is all against the gospel.

How can you explain men like David Jeremiah and Charles Stanley and even the most orthodox among us, how can you explain that God wants them to support these ungodly stations that pour venomous deception 24 hours a day? Do we join hands with those who present a false Christ and a false gospel? I watched in horror as David Jeremiah stood on the platform at TBN with all those false teachers and heretics and gave a message on giving. How far have we gone? How much of the spirit of Balaam will we tolerate?

In order to come to this place of spiritual ambivalence you must marginalize all things eternal. In fact, the concept of eternal punishment and eternal reward seems like religious mythology when measured by the spiritual behavior of the church. And even though you might say you believe in those things, the church has invented ways to expedite the salvation process in order to stamp the word “saved” on a sinner and quickly make him a part of the ecclesiastical machine. But there is no aura of the eternal in the American church. The entire construct is set up to deal with and enhance the earthly life of its congregants. The eternal realities are alluded to infrequently and in doctrinal terms however they constitute almost no passion within the church.

We cannot return to Christ in an hour or a day or even a month. We have been so contaminated by the culture and by the false church and by the spirits of antichrist that much repentance is necessary to even begin to seek His lovely face once again. This hedonistic culture has constricted itself around our beings and has all but squeezed out His life from us. The end is upon us and we still play games? We still march like lemmings to worthless voting booths to elect the next liar and we think we serve Christ? It cannot get any more serious.

The world is on the brink of total economic collapse, and war rages now with a worldwide conflagration eminent. Oh yes, I am overly dramatic. If you believe that then go about your business. But I tell you in all sincerity and without using me as a yardstick, the deception surrounds us like a thick fog. The only way out is through the cross of Jesus Christ. We must bow to His death and die to our ways. Life, true life, can only be found in Him. But this is not the message and surely not the practice of this modern ox cart church. The western evangelical church is not even carrying the Ark on a forbidden ox cart anymore. It has thrown the Ark away and it now carries itself on alluring ox carts of gold, silver, and promises of personal success. And deceived mobs follow their pernicious ways while dancing to the music of demons.

This deception is so strong and so enveloping that even if the church knew Jesus was returning this year it would change little. Can you even comprehend the strength of such a deception? The devil has systematically implemented his plan and slowly the evangelical church has been steered away from Jesus and toward itself. And words like mine seem like the ramblings of a mad man to the majority of contented church members. Watch them shake hands and smile and bow to one another Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. The prophetic climax is knocking on our doors and yet the preacher delivers his sermon with a predictable redundancy ending to make way for the afterglow in some restaurant or in front of a football game. Same songs, same offering, same announcements, same time, same next week.

People’s children are walking away from Christ and are in a world of spiritual crisis and yet the church rehearses its same dry eyed performance once again. And we believe the world will see Jesus and His Word through us when we have less urgency and less anguish than if we lost our dog? This is the faith that saw men drawn and quartered by the sword? This is the kind of spiritual expression that fed lions? This self serving, emotionless practice is what demanded men and women to be burned? What kind of lie are we living here? Our hearts are not broken, our lusts are not put to death, our prayers are benign, our fastings are for diets, and our gatherings are timed. And in the midst of the most destructive demonic forces since before the Reformation that have brought in the high places right into the church there is still no trace of spiritual desperation?

We have used His death for our statements of faith and our choreographed baptism and in our “Easter” pageants, but we ourselves refuse to die. A thief has come in and sown tares among us and has deceived the wheat. But we still have “church” and we go home, remove our clothing, and settle in for another week just like the last. We have fulfilled our religious obligation and let’s face it, things are getting worse and there is nothing we can do about it. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is Christianity, neatly packaged and well worn in a culture of utter darkness.

Sacrifice can be seen only in church history, if people are even curious about that history anymore. Our children have never heard of Jim Elliot or John Huss or George Whitefield or Hudson Taylor or John Wesley or David Brainard. Most will live and die and never read a sermon by Charles Spurgeon or D. L. Moody or Jonathan Edwards. Most will never know all night prayer meetings ever existed. Most will never even consider a one day fast. And most will not even know what a revival is. Our children think divorce is the way of the church. They think debt leveraged luxury automobiles are God’s blessing. They have never seen a service dedicated solely to prayer and the Lord Supper. They have seen preachers going into a theatre to see some R rated movie. And this…THIS.. is the faith we are leaving to them?

Yes, this kind of Christianity serves its purpose in our lives. It soothes the soul and provides a forum for our spiritual and moral convictions. It accommodates every age group of our families. And it can fit nicely into our busy schedules. All in all, the western brand of Christianity is custom made for a well rounded American experience. And in the end Christ died so we can live it up. That, my brethren, is what the church has become.

If the evangelical church in America can ever become salt and light in accordance with God’s Word, the entire construct must be demolished. We must repent and tear down the cultural scaffolding and weep over what we have done. This is not time for some minor alterations or a tweaking of the system. Everything must be placed upon the table and presented before God and we must allow the Spirit to burn everything that is not of Him. Everything. And while the flames of God are still burning our ecclesiastical construct, we ourselves must step forward and allow those same flames to burn the dross within our own beings.

And we must not leave still protecting our own ways and our own wills. When we leave the church behind and seek the reconstruction of the Spirit, we must go through the death process of the cross, and then walk in newness of life. And in that newness of the resurrection we will find joy and peace and humility and grace and mercy and love. And like Mary in the garden, we will see Jesus. And if that is not our desire than let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.


Anonymous said...

Not only has the GOP lost it's identity, so has the Church. It's assumed the identity of a false Christ, for sure.

Go to a church where the doors are locked all week, except Sundays, and Wednesdays. Try to get a meeting with the pastor or his staff, and it feels like trying to get a meeting with a CEO. The whole church facade has been exposed. It's nothing more than a business that caters to the staff rather than to it's customers. Men of God have less trials and tribulations under their belts than do their flock. If they are broken, they don't show brokenness. They treat brokenness as though it's shameful. It's not cool anymore to be broken. One must be "arrived" and look victorious, fresh, strong and in the front lines, not look old, tired and defeated. Churches only want the new energy. No others need apply. Pastors don't want to spend time with old fogeys. They want the world, travel, rubbing shoulders with their peers and being promoted.

And it's true, we are so narcissistic that we expect God to fix our Carnival Triumph cruise problems; we can't see the spiritual Titanic on our doorstep. Our society has a poor-me victimhood problem; or a "we aren't going to take it anymore" mentality problem. If christians are like that too, it is definitely time to get out of the "her" in Revelation.

Cherie C. said...

Since when is the seriousness of life and death a drama? Nothing overly dramatic about it. This is a serious issue. One I must say I am quite weary of. I feel more and more alien every day. As I grow in the Lord, I see life and death differently. What life do I have here? A life of constant struggle and I do not mean financially. My life with Jesus is on hold, and I am stuck here. Battling every day the things of this world, and that includes the church. I got on the parkway this morning, a road I travel most every day, and as I approached the entrance I noticed in the sky not less than six airplanes spewing something out the back. I remember what my sister told me it was and I groaned out loud. Then when I got on the parkway I suddenly felt like I was on unfamiliar territory. Like I wasn't from where I live. Her telling me about chemtrails and other sinister goings on and this momentary feeling of being where I do not want to be was disconcerting. Evil is nonstop, in the church, out of the church, no matter. It is on 24/7.

I sometimes ask when I can get off this planet. So much clamor, where is the peace? With Jesus. Paul thought it gain to die, and I agree. I am alone on this planet in a crowd. I see people, loved ones and others and I get an ache in my stomach at the thought of going alone without them. Then I remember I am already without them. When Jesus came into my life, they walked out. This journey of death that leads to life can be a lonely one, but at the same time I know what waits at the journey's end. Perfect love, perfect peace. Perfect Jesus.

Although weary, I travel on, imperfect, and full of questions. But.....

I know that daily devotionals some may find the lazy man's Bible study, but I like them, and yes I still have my quiet time with God's Word. But these days for good or ill, I always have Scripture in front of me at least hourly if not every few hours. Like an infant needing food. Well anyway, I have a daily devotional app on my IPod.

Today's is Matthew 11:28
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Pastor, I can see your weariness in this post. God has your back dear brother.

We will, I am afraid be dealing with this great apostasy until Jesus comes to get us. Hurry Lord, we need you now, and forever. I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I am willing to give my life. I strive to be what He wants me to be even when my flesh says otherwise.

I am dead to this earthly life, who's with me!

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie C.

Cherie c. said...

Yes, if you must know this post makes me pine for the Lord to come back.

Cherie c.

Cherie c. said...

"I am dead to this earthly life, who's with me!

When I wrote this, you all know I meant spiritually, right?

There will be no catching space ships, or asteroids, or any nonsense like that, not what I meant. Just want to make that very clear.

Cherie C.

Kim said...

I agree wholeheartedly with you, Rick. I am crying out to those who will listen or see and not throw rocks at me (many want to and tell me I am so "pessimistic" or "negative"). Where's your positive attitude, Kim?

Well, I am positive about what Christ said to be watching for, and it is all around me, and they are all negative things!

The Lord is leading me to pray for some (what I consider) interesting people and things, but I know they are things that people don't really think of themselves, but these are real people and situations that are affecting the spiritual lives of many others. Last night I was lead to pray for Bill Mahrer and Kathy Griffin and the Hospital of Mercy ships that was shown on 60 Minutes Sunday and the people in Africa with facial tumors caused by tooth enamel that doesn't stop growing.

He wants us to pray for things happening around us, yes; but we need to look more deeply at people and situations that we might not give a second thought. This is the day and age of spiritual warfare and we must be praying for situations that it seems we can't really change. If anyone has ever read Frank Peretti's "This Present Darkness", you know what I'm talking about. The adversary is at work in the smallest of situations to work his evil deeds, and the church is out to lunch. We can only overcome him by the word of our testimony and the blood of the lamb. Prayer is the key, and sometimes, my pray-er just freezes up. We need set loose the prayer warriors!

Sorry, got off track there, Rick, but that's what came out.


Lorena said...

I love to come here and read all the comments and know that others are struggling as I do and get weary as I do...It's a lonely road traveled but then I remember I'm not really alone in all this...and besides, Jesus is with each of us and He said He would never leave us nor forsake us. That is so reassuring. He's with us everyday...or else what would be the point of anything?
Thank you Rick for this blog and to everyone who comes and sheds some light in this dark world...means much to me.

Chris Baumgart said...

Isaiah 58:12 *And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: though shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shall be called, the repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. -- everyone, our work in Christ is not done yet. Let us pray.

Anonymous said...

Love all posters here and though I don't say it enough, I learn from everyone's input and appreciate you all.

I'm Anon. by the way and was for a while Unchurched Anon., but I keep forgetting to write a salutation with the name. It shows how weary I am in all things, big and small.

I have a sister, who didn't even know that the earth had an asteroid passing close by the earth on Thursday. She hadn't heard about the comet either. She was busy getting ready for a trip. She doesn't listen to the news, because it's "depressing". On the other hand, I know what's going on and it affects me, plus I am shackled in this present condition, weary, tired, unwell. Practically every ounce of my being has no hope in this world. I was told recently that my lack of joy is because of depression. I know it's because of the times we live in. There are no outlets of relief. No friends, no work, no extended family. Most of the rest of the extended family, cousins, have all spread out over the continent; Most of my older relatives have passed on. There is only one ray of hope in me and that is that Jesus is Lord, and He is in charge of everything. Even if man thinks he is cunning and clever, he can never outdo God. Evil men will scheme and thrive only as God allows. But, He is in total control. I love that!!

Anonymous said...

Yes, Cherie, I agree with you. It feels more and more like we are "spiritually" dead to this world.

I'll always remember poor character Frank, in "Everybody Loves Raymond". In one episode, the men were complaining about the wives and their monthly problems. Frank said that there wasn't "a day goes by that I don't wish there was a comet screaming towards earth to bring me sweet relief".

I pray we find lots of spiritual relief and keep on that narrow road, not looking right or looking left. A sister in the Lord a long time ago kept reassuring us as she said, "With Jesus, we'll make it".

Anon. (unchurched or otherwise)

Cherie c. said...


Most certainly right, we will make it with Jesus.

Love to all

your sister in Christ Jesus,

Cherie c.

Cherie c. said...


I left you a message on the The Marine Corps Rifle Creed Blob Post.

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie C.

michael said...

Excellent Word! Reminds me of this verse from Isaiah and affects me the same:

The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. (Isaiah 50:4 ESV)

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I know that I'm not alone when I come to this blog and read posts like this one. I am also even more convicted to keep pressing on. To pray when I know I am suppose to. To fast, and not because it helps me loose ten pounds fast. To teach my homeschooled kids about those preachers of old and of those who came before us, "the world was not worthy of them"- to quote Hebrews 11. This post has helped me tremendously tonight. signed, D