Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Just a Praise Post!

I cannot restrain myself. I was writing about Jesus and the cross and I was overwhelmed with a myriad of emotions. I just want to openly and unashamedly praise His Matchless name!! Most of you do not know who I was and what kind of a disgusting sinner I was. You talk about the gays? I sold drugs to high school kids. I planned on robbing a bank and killing the guard. I was a rabid heterosexual sinner who engaged in unbridled promiscuity. I stole and hated and used His name in cursing and was a very violent man who rode a motorcycle. Go ahead and talk about the gays if that makes you feel like a truth warrior, but you do not know who I was.

You would have much preferred walking on the same side of the street with some gay person than you would have on my side. I might have killed you. I cannot help but bow before Him and shield my eyes from condemning anyone else. I deserved hell. I DID NOT WANT GOD BUT HE WANTED ME!!! Sometimes I cry, sometimes I dance, sometimes I shout, sometimes I meditate, and sometimes I just act like a fool for Jesus and sometimes I do it all! I wish I was more of a fool for Him.

I open this comment thread for anyone and everyone to praise the Risen Christ! It’s about time He receives all the preeminence in a comment thread. I was so unworthy, you have no idea. I know who I was and He surely knew me even better and yet He came to rescue me from what I deserved and He gave me what I surely did not deserve. How can I thank Him? I wish to sacrifice the air in my lungs to praise Him!

Jesus, You are everything and we owe You EVERYTHING! To think of Your cross and Your blood sacrifices not only leaves us breathless but removes any pride or self righteousness. Halleluiah! What a Savior! Let everything that has breath praise Your Holy name!! I openly strip myself of all useless issues and lay before You in immobilized worship. I submit myself to Your Lordship and I say in front of all the angles and whoever reads this little blog that I have no life but Yours!

Do You Really Believe in Redemption?


My oldest son teaches history at a local high school. In case you haven’t noticed, these are not your father’s high schools. Things have changed dramatically. The culture is in a rapid state of decay, which is to say it continues to reveal what it has always been. With the family unit in shambles the children are without even the structure which can provide some outward parameters for their behavior. And needless to say the challenge for teachers is very great as well.

Last year on the first day of school Jon was addressing his class and one child, a sophomore, was being continually disruptive. He ignore several warnings until eventually Jon sent him to the office. Now this kid had been dismissed from another high school for his behavior, and although he was a sophomore he was several years older than his peers since he had been left behind a few times. He was a black teenager that stood above 6 feet tall, and as he left the class he purposely went face to face with Jon in front of the entire class as if he was challenging Jon physically.

Jon, who is a bodybuilder kept his cool and the kid left the class without further incident. His name is Xavier. Later on Jon and Xavier and a few members of the administration gathered together to discuss the incident. Xavier slouched in his chair and appeared either disinterested or angry or both. The administration asked Jon what he thought should be the course of action. Jon looked at Xavier and said that he was willing to start fresh if Xavier would agree to two things. First he would show Jon respect in the classroom and secondly that if he had any problems he would come and talk them over with Jon. Appearing a little surprised by the turn of events, Xavier agreed and Jon and he shook hands.

As the school year progressed Jon noticed a change in Xavier’s behavior. He used to be a D and F student, and now he was an A and B student. And he no longer disrupted the classroom. This change eventually became the norm. Xavier now saw Jon as a friend and mentor, and he hung around Jon as much as he could. And Jon insisted that Xavier showed his report card to all of his teachers.

Now the administration had been looking for a reason to dismiss Xavier because of his past behavior and because of his age. He would not graduate until he was 20 years old. So they called another meeting with school officials and with the person who oversees those kind of dismissals. Jon and Xavier were invited to participate in that meeting. The head administrator spoke to Jon and told him that they would go with whatever Jon thought was right. Should the school dismiss Xavier because of his advanced age?

Jon looked at Xavier sitting next to him and told him that this was now a matter of personal responsibility because Jon would take some responsibility for Xavier, but it would be up to him to step up and make Jon and everyone else proud. The meeting ended with allowing Xavier to stay in school. Love covers a multitude of sins. But that is not the end of the story.

A few days ago Xavier came up to Jon and informed him that his father had died. He showed Jon a picture of his father on his phone (see, times have changed) and told him a few other things. Xavier told Jon that he had never met his father, and that his father had been murdered while in prison. Jon had not known this. Ok, all you moralists who rant about the breakdown of the family unit but show little compassion and understanding for those who are the products of such a breakdown; You who believe in redemption but refuse to put flesh on its doctrinal bones, can this kind of story open your eyes to redemptive opportunities rather than shouting at the darkness? You who have been redeemed, do you seek the redemption of others?

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Jesus That Kills


I have addressed this subject before in many posts but this one is especially applicable.
Bloodshed in His name.

The Roman Emperor Constantine had crosses painted on the shields of his soldiers in order to elicit God's blessings on his battles. Now we discover that the Army had Bible verses etched into the scopes on the rifles. History repeats itself. It is not enough to enjoy the fruits of violence, killing, and mayhem, but we must drag Jesus into it as well. Depravity and sacrilege reign supreme. These are the verses etched upon guns:

Jn.8: 12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

II Cor.4: 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

An article published on The Blaze, a right wing publication connected to Glenn Beck, suggested that the mandate was an attack of Judeo-Christian values. Here is a quote from that article:

“Questions surrounding purported attacks on faith in the United States military continue to abound. Over the past few years, many critics have decried perceived attempts to remove Judeo-Christian values from the ranks. A new report claiming that the Army has mandated that troops remove Bible inscriptions from their weapon scopes will likely only add to the debate.”

(source here)

Ok, we as believers must consider just how vicious and convoluted the extreme darkness of the culture and the fallen world at large is when Bible verses can be placed upon weapons in the killing fields and then we suggest that is a way to represent Christianity, the gospel, and Jesus Himself. Consider the implications of those verses. The scopes are used to line up your targets, human targets I assume, so light is what is used. So those verses about Jesus being the light openly suggest that our Savior, being the light of the world, will help soldiers be more accurate in their killing.

It is very difficult to fully expose the tremendous paradox in all of this and the profound antithetical nature of such a practice as it pertains to Jesus and His teachings. I mean it actually boggles the mind. I guess I could equate it like drawing a side of bacon on Israeli scopes, or drawing a hamburger on Hindu scopes. It is extremely shocking that this practice actually existed. To use the New Testament to support war and violence, and to use those particular verses is so disgusting, so alarming, and so viscerally distasteful that it should make all who follow Jesus physically sick. It is hard to imagine something more at odds with our faith.

But now that the government has ordered the practice to cease and the verses removed, the religious right, right on cue, rise up in religious umbrage. They suggests an attack on “Judeo-Christian values”. Let us be clear here: There are no “Judeo-Christian values”. That is a man made term designed to present some amalgam of the Old Testament and the New Testament moral tenants and it is used to describe the moral foundation for America. So in essence it is presented in defense of the culture rather than a true and principled outline of God’s ways. It is a myth but comes in handy as a nebulous moniker which elicits patriotism for a country rather than a self denying following of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So not only is it astonishing that Bible verses were used on gun scopes, and not only is it astonishing that those particular verses were used, but now the cultural sect of Christianity which follows the founding fathers more than Jesus are up in arms (pun intended) about it. Just when I thought the faith of Christ could not be any more compromised and redefined than it already has in the west, this is exposed. If Jesus is involved in helping men and women line up their gun sites and blow people away than let us at least be honest and throw away the New Testament. I mean all that love your enemies stuff is a bunch of hogwash and we need not even consider it anymore. In fact, America is now the golden calf and with a few Bible verses painted on it we can bow down and worship openly what we now worship between the lines. And we can place Bible verses on all our bombs and keep accuracy records to determine which ones hit their targets more often and use those verses in the future. It’s insane.

So that is an attack on Christianity? No, when they started placing Bible verses on guns THAT was an attack on the faith. Can there be any deeper compromise and blasphemy than that? War has now become a favorite son of the church and now we print God’s Word upon our weapons. Ok, has anyone ever heard of Constantine? His spirit still lives on today here in America. He was a Roman emperor who before a great battle saw a vision of a cross in the sky and a voice telling him that through this cross he would be successful in war. He painted that cross on all his soldier’s shields. How barbaric?

History repeats itself. We are not just satisfied with going to war preemptively, but now we drag Jesus into it openly and for all to see. Now I ask you, when some Muslim sees those verses on our guns what does he think? Of course he believes that he is fighting against Jesus and that Jesus is his enemy and that Jesus must hate him. And it isn’t just the religious pagans that support this practice. It is also a large section of professing evangelicals. Instead of spreading the light of the gospel they have embraced some wicked amalgam of violence and killing and Jesus. It is an amazing feat that takes the faith of Jesus and transforms it into a vehicle for democracy through war.

Can you just imagine a soldier peering through his scope that says that Jesus is the light of the world, and he gently pulls the trigger and his bullet races toward his target and “Wham!!” the person’s head explodes into bits of flesh and blood all over the ground. The lifeless corpse falls immediately onto the ground. And looking up and realizing what has happened, the soldier rises to his feet and loudly proclaims, “Thank you Lord Jesus!” And gazing lovingly at his rifle he once again reads the two verses etched into the scope:

Jn.8: 12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

II Cor.4: 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

And we wonder why Muslims feel that they are in a war against Jesus and that Jesus hates them. Oh when we will we as believers realize that we have nothing in common with this world and this culture, and yes, this country? When we will see souls in the light of the cross and not as earthly enemies? And make no mistake there is a connection between war and money.

Oh how my heart aches when I see just how mangled men have made the teachings of Jesus and instead formulated a concoction of earthly logic, manmade necessities, and humanistic philosophies of nationalism and divided allegiances. Two nations go to war and within these two nations are followers of Jesus. So are the followers of Jesus in each respective nation supposed to support their nation in this war? Are they both supposed to enlist and fight for their respective nation? And if by chance they meet on the battlefield, and assuming they are both born again believers, which follower does Jesus help to kill the other? Oh the absurdity and absolute horror of such earthly constructs. But this is what happens when we refuse to receive the teachings of Jesus in the abstract and make them applicable to our own earthly parameters. We have learned the ways of man and then taken hold of the teachings of Jesus and force fed them into all kinds of worldly situations and philosophies. And instead of the teachings of Jesus having an impact upon earthly understandings our earthly understandings remain solid while the teachings of Jesus become mercurial and easily poured into the machinations of man. In fact, we now openly suggest that Jesus will help aid us in all our ways regardless of whether they are aligned with His truth.

Bible verses on guns. Why did Jesus come and why did He leave us His Word if in fact His own church was going to change it to fit our own craftiness and carnal motivations? And now people scream about an attack on our Judeo-Christian values? What are values anyway? Values are something that have worth. But what value is there in certain moral tenants and ethics without Jesus? In fact we are called to preach Jesus to those who hold beliefs in direct opposition to the truths and values found in Jesus. Yes, they are called lost souls. But now we consider our rights and our views as values and the church willingly joins hands with unbelievers to protect those values even if it means at the end of a gun or under the power of a bomb. Oh Dear Lord, where oh where did we leave You and go a –whoring after the ways of man?

And in a stunning display of hubris and compromise, many who wholeheartedly support war and Bible verses on weapons have very little Bible in their hearts. Selah.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Without the Apocalypse There is Only Apostasy


Col.1: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Rev.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:
2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

If you were forced to describe the contents of all the 66 books of the Bible in only two words those two words would most certainly be: Jesus Christ. In open narratives and revelations, and in metaphors and types and shadows, and in examples of animals and humans, and in obscure ways and obvious ways, and in many, many other ways the Scriptures fit perfectly together to form a patchwork quilt that when held up against the light of the Spirit says Jesus Christ. It is He who is the center of the divine narrative both before and after the creation of the material universe.

Even the Book of the Revelation is looked upon as a futuristic voyage and so it is, however the book itself says it is the revelation of Jesus Christ. So what that tells us that with all the bowls and vials and trumpets and beasts and even churches, the Book of the revelation is centered upon the apocalypse of the Risen and Victorious Christ. The word “apocalypse” is the transliteration of a Greek word that means simply, the open and unmistakable revealing. I asked a Greek man to explain it to me and he shoved his hand inside his pants pocket, grabbed hold of his car keys, and brought them out of his pocket and opened his hand and showed his keys to me in the open palm of his hand. That, he said, is apocalypse.

And it is quite impossible to aptly and completely communicate just how august and core Jesus is to everything. Jn.1: 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. Yes, He made everything that is. Everything. And Paul tells us that all things consist by Him as well which means if He were to remove His power and presence from the universe it would immediately collapse under its own fallen weight. The third Person of the Godhead who has taken upon Himself the name of Jesus is not only an image of the invisible God, but He is God.

We have often heard these words: Jesus was God in the flesh. And many times we have used those words to prove our orthodoxy and disparage heretics. Fair enough. But let us return to those words and investigate the sacred essence and profound depth that those six words actually reveal. What do we mean when we say “God”? That seems so elementary and yet we rarely even give it much thought. It is such a generic term which is used by wicked and corrupt men as a sort of a talisman but in reality is hollow. We say “God bless you” when someone sneezes and people say “Oh God” when they are afraid or startled. We sing “God bless America” which treats God like a blessing machine which reacts to our worthless words. Yes, the word God itself has become a colloquialism stripped of its august meaning.

The word “god” came from a Saxon word meaning good. In essence it has no deity in it but over the years we have adopted it to mean almost anything. But there is only one deity and all the rest are fables and superstitions and even demonic. But God, Elohim and Theos, is THE one and only deity. He is eternal and was not created but He created everything. In the Old Testament many times the scribes as they were copying the Hebrew texts and after they wrote the name of God they would destroy the pen and some would even wash themselves just because they so revered the name of God. But even the church throws around the word God as if it meant very little. Even the heathen use the term feely and without any thought.

But God, not the word but the Deity, is beyond what we could ever imagine. So when you consider all this as not only the central element of Christianity, but Christianity itself, then you must see how the western church has so decimated the faith that it can no longer be considered Christian. Not only has the church decentralized Jesus, but it has relegated Him to back burner status. Oh yes His name appears on some innocuous statement of faith, and His name is sometimes mentioned in passing, but He is not the controlling object of our walk, our faith, and our worship. He has become an embarrassing talisman whose reason for being is aiding humans to different levels of success in this life. And even some false sects of Christianity openly teach that Jesus will help you only after receiving some form of monetary gratuity.

And what I have just described is called apostasy. The word apostasy is a transliteration form the Greek word which means to reject, fall away from, or defect from. And that clearly defines the modern church as it flows down a path of self elevation and the open pursuit of wealth and all the accoutrements in this life. The Christian men and women of God in years gone by would be considered off balanced and completely out of touch with reality. They would be religious extremists. And those saints of old would have a difficult time finding a local fellowship that they would consider a New Testament church.

You see the word “Christian” was almost a pejorative that was hurled at early believers. It was meant to convey the idea that these people reminded the culture of the one called Christ Jesus. That word has now been emasculated into little more than one of the great religions of the world. Do we really remind others of Jesus, or do we remind them of moral conservatism or American exceptionalism? In fact evangelicals have lost the very image of what it means to follow and imitate Jesus. The Jesus that is heralded in mainstream evangelicalism is not the Jesus of the gospels. His name is the same, but this Jesus walks and talks and acts differently than the One Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote about. Anyone born after 1950 has grown up into a religious system generally referred to as Christianity which has presented an American Jesus with all sorts of cultural disfigurements. This Jesus has been made to bend to our culture and to our lusts.

Do you believe that is too strong? I challenge you to read the New Testament through in one month with passion, patience, and intensity. Go ahead and fast sometimes as well and then tell me if what you have read mirrors what is being diffused in the community of faith. Wealthy ministers, gatherings which specialize in entertainment, large debt ridden buildings, millionaire singers, preacher idolatry, a focus on the temporal, and the unremarkable practice of faith within a culture of darkness are just a general description of how Jesus Himself has been drowned in a sea of hedonism sprinkled lightly with His name. Sacrifice? Self denial? Separation? Holiness? Prayer? Brokenness? An insatiable desire to know and follow Jesus? Shame on us if we would even attempt to defend ourselves.

But where there is no passionate apocalypse of the Lord Jesus Christ, then there is apostasy. Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith so how can we continue to minimize Him among the community of faith? He is our High Priest and the Lamb which takes away the sins of the world. Missionaries all over the world are preaching His gospel, while the west fishes in worthless holes of self indulgence and cultural adjustment. The apostasy has set in but the wheat is not yet in the barn. The church slumbers and dances at the same time to the alluring melodies of these modern sirens. But cast off the words of men and remember the words of God.

Col.1: 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

To Know Him


Phil.3: 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

Oh the unspeakable joy of knowing Christ! Only those who have been awakened by the Spirit to find that Jesus is the Creator about whom they wondered and searched the night skies can understand this death to life experience. And when we realize that He alone is the Redeemer, and that He loves and beckons me to come and dine, well what words can drip from human lips that give the sufficient wonder and gratitude for such surpassing knowledge? Jesus loves and died for me and desires to fellowship with me?

How often do I despise myself and all my hidden and open shortcomings and yet Jesus knows them perfectly and yet still desires to meet with me and forgive me of the litany of sins I often attempt to hide and minimize? Oh this is no religious science or just a doctrinal treasure. No, this is what men have searched for in their own strength and thought they had found by some philosophy or some equation or some moral tenants. This experiential knowledge can be described through careful exegesis and doctrinal dissertations, but oh how pitiful they are when compared to what happens within us! The experience surely eclipses the description.

We were lost but then found; we were blind but now see; we were dead but now alive! I can recall that a few days after I was born again I was walking on 8th Avenue in Manhattan in New York City. The hookers were still there, and the peep shows were still open, and men were still selling drugs, and the entire ambiance still reeked of sin and degradation, however something was different! I walked with a slight smile on my face and I seemed to have found a new love for these demonstrative sinners with whom I once roamed. You see, I knew Jesus now and my perspective was now alive with God’s love and Christ’s redemption.

But throughout almost forty years of knowing Jesus and with varying degrees of faithful discipleship, I still believe the key to following Jesus with a passionate love and obedience centers around this core pursuit. “That I may know Him…” Yes we know Him doctrinally and within the gospel narratives and within all the overarching truths of the epistles. Yes we know all those things which hold infinite treasure. But if we awaken each morning with a drive to know Him this day in the Spirit, and with an inward experience that makes everything our doctrinal head knows come alive, well then the word of our testimony will not have to be pulled down from the shelf and recited with a stamped date from the past.

The word of our testimony will be found today because we have known and still know the Lord Jesus Christ as our exclusive raison d’etre, and in whom we live and move and have our being. Halleluiah, what a Savior!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

If Sinners Be Damned...

“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”

C. H. Spurgeon

Anyone who reads this blog knows that although I strongly believe in a free will theology my favorite preacher is Charles Spurgeon. And this quote from him should be the clarion call for Calvinist and free will alike. It sends chills up my spine since I fall very short of its exhortation. And this profound and penetrating call for evangelism comes from a Calvinist. And yet free will men like Rick Warren and Joel Osteen and Rob Bell prance all over the country selling a temporal gospel which soothes the conscience instead of bringing conviction.

In a few sentences Spurgeon has exposed the modern me/now gospel which comes in a variety of alluring flavors. Wrapped in the flag or materialism or promises of great health and prosperity, these fake gospels draw great crowds which thirst to get something rather than serve the Risen Christ. People do not flock to hear Warren and Osteen in order to light a fire in their souls for the plight of eternal souls. No, they come to be excited and blessed and to take in the atmosphere of celebrity. But do not be deceived, from the words of Spurgeon we have a template for which we must strive. Sinners must hear about Christ before it is too late. And the words of this man of God exhort us to a passion for sharing and preaching that reaches a level which substantiates the Scriptures and not our so often shallow doctrinal protestations.

When was the last time we wept in the Spirit for souls we know who are heading for an unfathomable eternity separated from Christ? Are we open to the Spirit’s leading if He would direct us to witness to someone which might cause us some discomfort or intimidation? Do not just read his words but ingest them into your spirit. Do our exertions really have teeth? So often in this moralistic climate the church castigates sinners rather than warn and pray for them. Legislation has become the gospel.

The worth of a vote has overshadowed the worth of a soul. And the church actively seeks to adjust the culture and improve our living conditions and create an atmosphere of economic prosperity, all of which does nothing for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Imagine a missionary arrives among the people he believes God has sent him. These people are idol worshipers and have no real moral compass. They engage in some bizarre sexual practices, they murder their neighbors, and they were very little clothing. Does the missionary begin to organize a movement to address those things? Does he sit around with other missionaries and castigate those tribal sinners? Does he listen to jungle radio as a Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh wanna be’s talk incessantly about how liberal and out of the mainstream these natives are?

That would be ridiculous you say? Well that is exactly what the church is doing today only these sinners are more worldly and sophisticated, but they are just as blind and just as lost. Even though the jungle fields are different than the urban fields the message of hope is still the same, the everlasting gospel. I feel the end is very near and any serious business done for Christ must be done quickly. If we are going to pray then we must pray now. If we are going to fast then we must fast now. If we are going to witness then we must witness now. If we are going to support missionaries then we must do it now. This is surely not the time to muse about things; this is the time to sacrifice and serve.

How many of us would give everything to have some of the years back once again? I know I surely would. As I look back with a more mature and convicting view I realize that I could have done so much more for the kingdom. But now I must make haste while the day is still here because the night is coming when no man can work. All of us owe our entire lives to Christ and these last days should be a living sacrifice for Him. If you have a spouse who shares your devotion to Christ than you are surely blessed above measure and you can reignite your passion for Him together. If you do not, like me, have that kind of bond, then we must be married to Christ in a way which gives us the strength we cannot receive from a spouse. It is difficult but He is worth it.

But think on this. In fact, do not just think on this but meditate upon it and let it marinate inside your heart until your heart is changed. God died for your sinful and rebellious soul. I said God died for YOU. Oh my, how can our eyes remain dry even while reading this unfathomable words? I do not deserve God’s love much less God coming and dying in my place. I am quite undone when I pause in this fast paced life enough to allow my heart and my mind to take in that glorious truth. God died for the horrible creature they call Rick Frueh. Oh my. I am filled with all kinds of emotion. Awe and gratitude, and love and wonder and brokenness and humility and bewilderment and joy and repentance and thanksgiving and indebtedness and unworthiness and reverence and amazement and worship and a mixture of them all fill my heart.

So if God loved me enough to die in my place, oh the mystery of that, then He must feel the same way for all souls unless He is a respecter of persons which He is not. And if God loves my neighbor just as does me, then what is He asking of me when the Scriptures exhort me to walk in His love and be an imitator of God Himself? I mean how should I feel about sinners if Christ died for me when I was still a sinner and in reality His very enemy? What is the Spirit speaking to us all? How far off have we strayed with all this earthly mess when in reality we have been called to love sinners and walk in His love as the days draw down? And look, dear ones, from the mouth of a Calvinist all we who boast of our free will credentials are rebuked and laid low. Yes, I am sorely rebuked by my better.

Souls, my fellow believers, the souls of mankind. I cannot help but recall the story of the two Moravian boys who had read of a slave colony in the Caribbean. The owner would not allow any preacher to come to his island because they might cause some upset and disruption and fill the slaves with false ideas. These two young boys corresponded with the owner and sold themselves to him as slaves. The arraignment was made and the price of their enslavement would only pay for their voyage from Germany to the Caribbean. And they had heard from the Spirit and they were willing to sacrifice their entire lives so they could reach these slaves with the gospel.

Of course their family and friends could hardly believe what they were doing and they considered it almost insane. Why oh why would someone so young throw away their future with such unwise fanaticism? And yet the day came when the ship was to embark on the transatlantic voyage. The two young men boarded the ship and went together along the ship’s rail to say goodbye once more to their loved ones. There was much weeping on the dock as it was assumed their families would never see them again. But the ship was turned loose from the dock and began to drift to the sea.

But as the two boys looked at their family and friends one of them hollered these words,

“May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His sufferings!!”

Pause just one moment. Think on that. Receive those words into your spirit. There is so much there in that one sentence combined with who said it and where they were going and why. There is so much there. It is foolishness to those without the Spirit but to those who have tasted the goodness of God through Christ Jesus those words shatter our soul. These young men were sacrificing their entire lives to reach souls while the western expression of following Christ serves as a self serving pursuit to get more and keep more and still retain some semblance of a religious shell. Who exactly are we kidding?

Spurgeon did not believe Christ died for everyone and yet he exhorts us to plead and pray with a zealousness as if people’s souls depended upon us. Away with all our free will smugness since we must be the pinnacle of hypocrisy! Read his words once more and add the words of those Moravian boys and then juxtapose our lives upon the razor sharpness of their open conviction and then where is our smugness? The family right across the street is dying in their sins while we live our selfish lives inside the convenient walls of a domestic and religious clique. “Let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay,”, says the preacher. Fear and embarrassment and doctrinal contentment and a deep religious spirit have imprisoned us and made the gospel a religious relic rather than our very lives.

I hope we can all see the great need for a spiritual revival in our own hearts and lives. We need the Spirit to gives us a spirit of abandonment which walks in the desire and the atmosphere of the eternal and sees the temporal as a platform for sharing the gospel through word and deed. We need a sense of urgency once again. The suggestion that these are the last days must be more than some prophetic musings; it must be a catalyst for a devoted desperation to serve Christ in His whited fields.

Eph.5: 14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Ungodly? All of us!

So much of the church loves to excoriate certain sinners and to condemn certain sins with an effervescence they do not seem to have for their own sins. The gay community receives more than their share of righteous indignation. And the sin of homosexuality is openly used to make heterosexual sins seem normal and somehow within the realm of acceptable sins, doctrinally speaking. You see, heterosexual sins come redemptive ready while homosexual sins must be completely eradicated and forsaken before God can even deal with you.

But if we see things without a specific sin bias, then what I take away is the spectacular fallen nature of man. Jeffrey Dahmer would go to a gay men’s bar and seduce some unsuspecting gay man to come back to his apartment. Dahmer would drug that man, strangle him to death, and spend the night with the corpse and do things to it. In the morning he would dismember it including slicing of his genitals and beheading it and after consuming some of those “delicacies” he would save them inside his refrigerator for later use.

Can it get any worse? And yet here is the part which juxtaposes the unvarnished fallen nature of man against the glory of Christ’s redemption. That same man, Jeffrey Dahmer, came to faith in Jesus Christ and was gloriously saved. Repulsive, disgusting, abhorrent, abominable, foul, and even creepy. And yet Jesus loved Him and drew that man to Himself and by faith made Him His own child.

Many people would say such a monster did not deserve God’s salvation and love. Yes, I would say the same thing. The monster known as Rick Frueh did not deserve it either.

Rom.5: 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Living on the Edge of Fanaticism?


I am not sure anyone can truly be following Jesus in this culture without living on the very edge of fanaticism. In fact, in this day and age it may require falling off the edge. But the word fanaticism is a relative term which gets its definition from a comparison to the norm. If the normal Christian life and experience is so diluted and compromised as to be little more than a reflection of the common western lifestyle with a few religious words sprinkled on top, then any authentic discipleship which is defined through the New Testament must be considered fanatical.

The Webster’s definition of fanatical is “marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion”. I would add that it also entails a profound and uncommon dedication to something. And given those definitions just how fanatical are we? Is the culture feeding us to lions? Are we being led to the gallows? Are we being incarcerated for Jesus? Are we at least being shunned? Ok, last try, are we having an impact upon the kingdom of darkness?

Now realize this fact. We are not even fanatical when compared with the people who do not know Christ. How can that be? I mean let us just read a section from Luke’s gospel.

Lk.14: 25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,
26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?
35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Bear his cross? What cross do we bear? Forsake all? What do we forsake? We are not even distinctive much less fanatical. We blend in like camouflage. But we are afraid of the word “fanaticism” unless it applies to sports, Hollywood stars, music icons, or politicians. And one of the reasons that the word frightens us is because of the implications that may surface and that might place upon us some inconvenient demands. But what are the implications of being fully surrendered to Jesus Christ and being a fanatical disciple? Would not that person be absolutely remarkable within a culture of absolute darkness?

But another problem is that the church does not see the culture for what it is. We define evil in extreme terms. We all loudly proclaim that the acts of 9/11 were evil and so they were. But did we realize that most of what was transpiring on a daily basis inside the Twin Towers was evil as well? You see the entire wicked mess called the world lies in the wicked one and all that is in the world is fallen and evil. But if you say that in mixed company, or even share it with most believers, you will be seen as, yes, fanatical. You see, in order to understand what it means to be a fanatical disciple we must also understand how God sees this present evil world. But so many have made peace with this world and even joined hands with the kingdom of darkness in order to address this issue or that issue. And after you have walked with evil for a while it begins to seem not so evil and eventually it may seem friendly and a little misunderstood. And even though you might maintain what seems to be a safe distance from evil, it begins to have an effect upon your heart and mind and most grievous of all upon the way you see your faith.

That kind of life not only cannot be labeled as fanatical, but it cannot even be called Christian. But look at verse 33 where our Lord speaks of forsaking all. How easily those words flow from our tongues and how easily we can gloss over them and actually ignore them while reading or listening to them. That kind of deception has not only taken hold of us all, but it is practiced and embraced in the church. If we took just Jn.3:16 and Lk.14:33 and made them our template for life just what would that mean? I know, if we even took those words in a partial literal sense it would demand a level of fanaticism unwelcomed in this present evangelical climate.

This entire subject should not be easily dismissed or seen as something about which to just ponder. This cuts at the very fabric of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. The word “Christian” has been so bandied about that it no longer has any teeth. It is an innocuous religious term which is a collective for everyone and anyone who isn’t of some other religion or even considers themselves a “Christian” simply by default. And if you stretch out your arms and gather together any church that calls themselves Christian and gather them all in one place, that is what people believe is Christianity. The word itself has become a deception.

And people consider Muslims and white supremacists and Hasidic Jews and North Koreans as “fanatics” while they consider Christians as a multi-sected religion which fits in nicely within the culture with a few morality obsessed exceptions. But even the moralists glady join hands with non-Jesus moralists. And just a cursory reading of the Book of Acts reveals just how far the church has drifted. Paul is brought before Agrippa and instead of invoking his Constitutional rights and demanding counsel he gives his personal testimony. And when Paul was sent to prison with Silas instead of contacting Fox News to protest his treatment he and Silas pray and sing praises to God. Yes, there were fanatics in those days.

And do we think the secular culture has improved in these days? Do we believe the culture has moved closer to Christ or that the church has moved closer to the culture? And like Samson the church does not even realize, much less care, that our power is gone. No salt, no light, no city on a hill. Fanatical? Who could even pretend to lie like that?

So where do we go from here? I mean we have become so adept at minimizing the problem and setting forth the journey with no real sacrifice or self denial, so how can we even stop to address that which we cannot see and which we deny? Well each individual must allow the Spirit to take an inventory of his own life and reveal to him a substantive, albeit painful, progress report. Now we should not seek to be immobilized and retreat into a spiritual depression, but we should desire the most clear and comprehensive conviction about what is truth and what we have come to believe as truth.

And if we are honest about the teachings of Jesus and the entire teaching scope of the New Testament then we must admit that they are radical in nature and in substance. They are incompatible with the present culture and with anything that demands our earthly rights or incorporates greed or violence. And if we understand the depth of these radical teachings then we are faced with this proposition: To seek to obey them and live by them can be nothing short of fanatical. And to be honest you would not only be looked upon as fanatical by the world, but within the church as well.        

So the choice is oh so clear. We can remain within acceptable parameters in our faith which requires very little and raises no eyebrows and is generally compatible with the rest of the community of faith, or we can become aware that something is very wrong. And if and when we come to that enlightenment, then the journey has once again taken on a more significant challenge than we have previously thought. At that point we may realize that we have been processed through the wringer of a culturalized Christianity which through a system of clandestine demands has molded us into a narcissistic discipleship which enjoys all the fruit of Eden’s forbidden tree while rejecting the fruit of Golgotha. And like men in a police lineup, we all pretty much look the same. The sirens have sung and we have heard and sailed right into the rocks. However these rocks are comfortable and offer an expression of the faith which has just enough Biblical verbiage to provide a shallow defense but not enough to be considered fanatical. Instead of praying to extricate ourselves from these rocks we just placed a steeple among them, took up an offering, and called them church.

Yes, sit back and enjoy the show and do not worry. We need not call for help, and we don’t need a guide since we are nowhere near the edge of fanaticism. We have found warmth and safety within the rocks. And just remember, when Jesus said we must forsake all He was engaging in some religious hyperbole which makes for some great reading but about which no one should attempt to live.

So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. Yea, right.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The End Justifies the Means Theology


Let us lay a foundation here before I make a case that the western church and believers en masse have followed a path of least resistance and even employed unscriptural means to achieve a desired end. First, nowhere in the New Testament does it teach that we can use any method to achieve something that we deem as right. In other words, if we see something that is wrong, or if we see something that should be changed, we do not have the liberty to engage that wrong with another wrong. In essence we must walk in the Spirit and not the flesh.

Gal.5: 16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

There is no wiggle room here, and we must then assess everything through the unvarnished prism of God’s Word regardless of how absurd it seems. In fact, even when obeying God’s Word and walking in the Spirit seems like it will not accomplish what we believe needs to be done, we are still debtors to the Word and not our strategies. Sometimes this seems easy, but there are times where it requires a complete and illogical surrender to God’s Word even though our minds cannot understand how that can be effective. And in these last days those scenarios will become more and more prevalent.

But we must live upon this foundation: The end results are God’s business and not ours. That is a very difficult concept to grasp much less live. We as humans and especially in this culture of human effort and achievement are not only prone to depending completely upon our own plans and energies, but we have come to the place where we even think that is God’s will. And the real conundrum is that when we do achieve some desired results through our own schemes and power, then we learn to make them our template. And it does not take too long before we are walking in the religious flesh attempting to do good for God by the arm of the flesh.

And with so little time devoted to prayer it only adds to the necessity of operating in the flesh. We make a plan, use all kinds of worldly methods to achieve it, and then we ask God to bless it. Instead of praying and waiting on the Lord we set out on our own doing what things we think God wants. And the western church operates almost without exception within that scenario. We as westerners have been taught from birth to see something and go after it with all our might. We who were active in sports learned that principle and then we have brought it into the church.

But that principle is correct. The problem is that what we see needs to be completely through the vision if God’s Word and “going after it” requires prayer and love and humility and self denial and everything that follows and imitates Christ. You see? The principles that works in the world must never be dragged into the church. God ways are not our ways, and when we rely on our own excitement and energy and visions we quickly surrender the power of the Spirit for the power of the flesh.

The difference between the flesh and the Spirit is the difference between following Jesus and following ourselves. But make no mistake, the flesh is very crafty and can morph into all kinds of things including presenting itself as good and moral and even spiritual. But the flesh is the energy of death. And when we walk in the flesh we walk in death even though we might be saved. But the church has seen how the world operates and we have believed a lie.

We now believe things will change by the power of legislation and the democratic process and even war. And when we seek change through earthly vehicles we lend our minds and hearts to that which is perishing. And without realizing it our eyes become fixated upon the temporal and the things that are eternal become doctrinal resource material and not the exclusive power in our lives. We seek to change the culture which has never been our spiritual calling. And we think God doesn’t see what is happening or that He needs us to fix things? God forbid we walk in that delusion. By our words and actions we impugn the sovereignty of God and make the gospel of no effect. While we correctly reprove men like Joel Osteen for their worldly messages, we ourselves are caught up with politics and nationalism and all sorts of mindless conspiracy theories. The voting booths are full and the prayer closets are empty.

So let us view this through the Spirit but also in practical terms. We must start with what do our eyes see, and our ears hear, and what do our hearts desire? We are told several times to keep our eyes upon Jesus, and the moment we look at earthly issues and the constant machinations of man then we will soon be caught in its undertow. The Spirit urges and beckons and leads, while the world shouts and pushes and bullies. We must see with the eyes of faith the kingdom of God. We must look through eternity rather than the ever changing temporal issues. It is a discipline of the Spirit and it cannot be done by a partial surrender to the flesh.

Just what is the “end” for a believer? Our primary calling is twofold: To preach the gospel to every creature and to be transformed into the image of Christ. That is some heavy lifting, my dear brethren. And when you take that in thoroughly, then hopefully you can see that only spiritual ways can achieve spiritual results which please our Father. And the way of the Spirit can never include violence, greed, idolatry, self promotion, or earthly allegiances. It is a very curious thing about the life in the Spirit. The means are always in the Spirit, and the end belongs to God. And therein lies the peace which passes all understanding which keeps our hearts and minds on Christ Jesus our Lord.

Phil.4: 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.