Monday, September 30, 2013


II Pet.2: But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
Oprah Winfrey interviewed Rob Bell which will air in November. About Bell’s views she said, "The ideas Rob sets forth in his books Love Wins and What We Talk About When We Talk About God opened my heart and my mind.”
That is probably the most revealing and accurate critique to date.

Beware. Sometimes friendly and winsome and intriguing are conduits for error. Many cults have adopted a hyper-friendly approach in proselytizing and many are very effective in so doing. People like Joel Osteen and Rob Bell and Rick Warren and Joyce Myers and others have leveraged their affable ways in order to draw people to themselves. Although a believer should not be quarrelsome and unfriendly, just a friendly and winsome approach does not always lead to truth. Personalities can be very powerful and often attract a large following, but strong and persuasive personalities also can lead people far astray.

You see, in these days where people demand more and more excitement and become quickly disinterested with almost everything, the old paths are not only unappealing, but they are now looked upon as the spiritual dark ages. So men like Rob Bell provide thought provoking philosophy which titillates the mind and makes people feel superior in their view of Christianity and Jesus as well. Instead of digging deeper into Biblical truth and what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ Biblically, we now have more and more people making their own path which accommodates their flesh and their intellect.

And one of the residual effects is that men like Bell and Warren and Osteen become extremely wealthy. One wonders just how energetic and perseverant these men would be if their ministries were overwhelmingly rejected and led them into poverty or worse yet nailed them to a cross. I believe we already know the answer to that question. But the three men I mentioned represent three distinct wings of the progressive movement which still calls itself Christian. Rob Bell leads the philosophical wing, Rick Warren leads the utilitarian wing, and Joel Osteen leads the hedonistic wing. Let me explain.

The philosophical wing of Christianity (the religion) loves to surmise and question any and all foundational truths, and in the end it presents a string of never ending thoughts with no absolute answers. In fact it suggests that absolutes evolve over time and within different cultures. It tears apart any and all doctrines that seem to be completely supported by Scripture because in the end this wing questions the Scriptures themselves. And when the eternality, validity, and immutable exclusivity of Scripture as it pertains to truth is compromised then truth becomes up for discussion and is at the whims and thoughts of each individual. Cultural reason is the prism through which this kind of theology arrives at truth.

This kind of approach to Christianity strips it of any power and renders it little more than a never ending revolving door of questions which make people feel intellectual. The cross is no longer the path to redemption and in fact the cross is almost ignored since men like Bell have a difficult time bringing such a violent act into these modern times. This growing phenomenon has become a cathedral of western intellectualism attempting to find a place for eastern mysticism. It is dark and poisonous but like Jonestown there are many thousands if not millions who swear by Rob Bell and all he stands or doesn’t stand for.

The utilitarian wing strives to make Christianity a religion which is designed as a tool in the hands of man that is like a Swiss knife with all the attachments needed to make your life a success. It makes friends with all other religions and seeks to build muddled bridges to other spiritual practices. In essence this kind of teaching is a western religion which accommodates democracy and capitalism and is a partner to patriotism. This kind of utilitarian religion eschews the deeper life and any hint of mystery.

Rick Warren is considered the champion of such teachings. And yet men like John Piper have had Warren speak at their conferences. Yes, men like Warren wear all kinds of hats and are adept at being camouflaged as to their true beliefs. It also helps to be friendly and affable and have very few enemies because you literally stand for very little and even what you do stand for you present in nebulous and smooth sounding words.

And the hedonistic wing is an open appeal to the greed of men. It makes no pretence and it does not hide its carnal appeal. In fact it changes the very nature of God and makes Him the servant of man and a cosmic Santa Claus. Behind designer suits and wide smiles this theology offers people a life of health and prosperity brought to you by the divine power and will. It is quite astonishing and revealing in these last days that we would even have to refute this kind of diabolical nonsense. This prosperity message used to be confined to very small corners of Pentecostalism but it is now mainstream in many churches and it permeates “Christian” television.

God Himself is a hedonist in this teaching and He exists to help sinners achieve a superior portfolio. New houses and new cars and growing bank accounts are supposedly gained by giving. Can there be any greater deception? And can the motivation for such a teaching be any more exposed? And yet the greedy heart of men is so strong that they, like a compulsive gambler, keep pouring money into the slot machine in hopes that God will hand them their pot of gold. And all the while men like Joel Osteen become extremely wealthy and present themselves as examples of what can be gained through faith and giving.

These are three of the major wings of western evangelicalism. They are all illusions which bear the name of Christ and pretend to represent the faith but which ultimately are elaborate and appealing deceptions. They continue to lead millions astray.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Cross Fades as the King Prepares

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So much of evangelicalism today downplays and even ignores the cross. Some “orthodox” churches teach that Christ only suffered and died for a small handful of sinners and thereby they diminish its glory. The cross itself is now viewed as an archaic relic of doctrines of days gone by. Now man’s lusts and desires must be exalted and the church is consumed with achieving man’s success.

No longer are we looked upon as bondservants for Jesus or unprofitable servants indeed. Now we hear fairy tales about ascending the cultural ladder and accumulating as much wealth as possible because God is in all of that. Instead of humble and outwardly innocuous servants of Christ we see preachers who look and prance like runway models and who speak great and swelling words that tickle then ears and appeal to the flesh. The evangelical world has become little more than a religious appendage to a hedonistic culture.

And as I said the cross is no longer the core of our theology to say nothing of being the absolute pursuit of our lives. Humility is now a sign of weakness. Self denial is now legalism. Poverty is now an enemy. And love is now for oneself. Because this condition has come upon the church both rapidly and slowly we are blind to the depth of the apostasy that now openly permeates within and without the church that calls itself “Christian”.

And what used to define and even consume a believing follower of Christ has all but vanished. A walk of holiness; a life of constant prayer; a cross bearing walk; a unquenchable hunger for God’s Word; and a life that is deeply and daily committed to be like Jesus are all gone now and the carnal tongues of gifted men and women soothe the conviction that the Spirit wished to bring. And in the midst of this worldly transformation the cross has been relegated to a subordinate status. It is now the ghost of Christmas past.

The teachings of Jesus which were supposed to be the light which the world could see are now compromised by hedonism, self esteem, and nationalism. Love and meekness and kindness and mercy and an astonishing commitment to the poor and downtrodden have given way to an industrialized, capitalistic expression which seems to be openly at odds with the teachings of the One we say we are following. Individualism has muscled out any observable community which is so different from anything else on earth that it at least should draw some interest and curiosity. But alas, the essence of Christ and His calling has been so diluted and so compromised and so lost that the church has long since left any thought about seeking a return to Christ which is unaffected and uninfluenced by the things and thoughts of this fallen world.

And acknowledging these things have taken place and are now mistakenly accepted as the true faith, we must see that true Christianity is very rare in the west and is probably practiced primarily by individual people rather than churches as a whole. The evangelical church in America is addicted to an earthly narcotic. It is called POWER. It is achieved through communication outlets, large crowds with mailing addresses, promises of material blessings, slick books and other materials, and of course money derived from people through creative manipulation. In essence it is based upon Carnegie’s book called “How to Win Friends and Influence people”. Find out what people want, create a program which promises those things, and like magic you have power over people. And now we have many preachers whose word is much greater than God’s Word for many millions of listeners.

And then we return to the cross. What has this generation done to the importance and primacy of the cross of our Lord Jesus? I realize that the cross does not fit into this technological and wealth accumulating culture. But that is exactly the point!

I Pet.2: But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;

We are supposed to be different. Not just a little religious, but drastically different. And as the culture manifests more and more of its depravity the difference should become more and more striking. But instead the church feeds alongside the goats and partakes of their pasture of self indulgence and self affirmation and we fill our bellies with the food of devils. And instead of being a peculiar people we blend in nicely with the conservative heathen. Choosing to carry the banner of a few moral issues we eschew the rich teachings of Jesus which reveal a transformed life. In short the church has become the religious wing of a hedonist culture where the cross of Christ is found in jewelry and refrigerator magnets rather than a living expression through a redeemed follower of Jesus.

And so we are left with a choice. We either follow the world or take up our cross and follow Him. There is no subset between the two. No common ground; no mix of the sacred and the profane; no some light and some darkness. The choice is stark and demands of us to become living sacrifices for Christ. The two paths never cross and never meet. They are parallel one to another. One path leads to death and the other leads to life. And in a stunning irony the path which leads to life demands our death, and that path which leads to death accommodates the earthly life.

Phil.2: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Within those verses lives the Christian life which mirrors our Savior’s life. As the Baptist said, “He must increase but I must decrease”. The power which comes from the Spirit comes through self denial and through being clothed with humility. It is everything the modern church is not. Think on this: How can the essence of the cross find expression in our lives? Unless we die to ourselves our spiritual expressions are carnal and fleshly and are everything the cross is not. But if we die daily we become a conduit for the greatest event and the greatest power the world has ever known. Everything is found in His cross and in heaven He still bears the marks of remembrance which redound to the glory of His grace…forever.

As the cross fades into oblivion within the church and the lives of professing believers, He who wore the crown of thorns prepares to make His glorious entrance to once again reveal the majesty of His sacrifice.
He came as a suffering servant but He returns as the King of all Kings!

Saturday, September 21, 2013


If we do not often feel profoundly unworthy of God's redemption then we have not seen both our sinfulness and His holiness.

If you defend Jesus with sharp and vicious words then you are only defending yourself.

If you fight for your earthly rights then you have relinquished your heavenly freedom.

If Jesus taught that war was necessary when your lifestyle was threatened then Jesus was an American.

If you have truth with no love then you do not have truth.

If you believe that any of your own works help to make you holy then you are believing a lie.

If your Jesus is one of several ways to eternal life then your Jesus is not God’s Jesus.

If you treat man’s word like God’s Word then you are caught in idolatry.

If life in eternity really exists then what else matters but seeking it?

If we believe the Bible is true then we must obey it.

If Jesus is really returning to earth does the western church seem to be preparing for it?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Enemies of Jesus

There are many enemies of the gospel and to the teachings of Jesus. Liberal theologians; modern philosophers; prosperity teaching; television evangelists; the emergent church; and on and on the list goes. But I believe the single most insidious poison within evangelicalism is nationalism. It has become an accepted tenant of the faith and it makes the Word of God of none effect.

It is this man made principle which is shielded from the light of the Holy Spirit and is protected from the clear teachings of Jesus Himself. The tortured logic goes something like this: All the teachings about forgiveness, non-violence, humility, self denial, and being gracious to your enemies are rendered impotent and irrelevant when the interests of a nation are at stake and you happen to have lent your allegiance to that particular nation. The teachings of the New Testament are not applicable when you are defending your earthly citizenship. That is quite astonishing.

Professing believers will fight over this and churches and pastors teach, promote, and practice this kind of compromised Christianity with pride and boldness. And this kind of belief system renders the faith just an appendage to a well rounded American lifestyle. It means that the New Testament is little more than a history book and not only is not at odds with a hedonist culture but is practiced as an American faith. Persecution? For what? The church politically defends traditional marriage and its stand against abortion and these views are Biblically correct. However we can never be persecuted for Jesus’ sake since we like Hansel and Gretel have lost the way back to Him. The birds of nationalism have eaten the ancient landmarks and now we as believers are more American than we are Christian. And we do not even look for the path back. We live in nice harmony with the witch who is systematically starving us spiritually. Today we do not even loom for the way back. We live in harmony with the witch who is systematically starving us spiritually. Jesus is now a onetime get-out-of-hell Savior but He is far from being Lord. And if we do not see and teach Him as Lord, than just who are we teaching?

Of course the obvious question is this: Do the teachings of Jesus transcend anything here on earth? Are His teachings pervasive in any and all circumstances or is there a major caveat? If you believe that your allegiance to a nation changes His teachings then you believe national allegiance supersedes what He taught and lived. And that belief system can never be seen as the faith once delivered to the saints. It is a fraud and a bastard and yet it has an incredible stronghold upon the evangelical church in America. Flags adorn the place of worship and believers place their hands over their hearts in a show of allegiance. Where believers once were arrested for not bowing before a king, today believers bow before a secular and ungodly nation.

But even the smallest inquiry about the spiritual and Scriptural validity of such patriotism is met with fierce resistance. Human logic and human reasoning are foundation to defending such an earthly alliance and allegiance. And also at its core is an embarrassing rewriting of history which would make the brothers’ Grimm blush. This kind of belief is nicely packaged and presented with fanfare and emotion and is espoused by millions of professing believers. Many are well meaning people who have accepted what they are taught and thereby have become anesthetized toward any deep and uncomfortable search for Christ and His truth.

Much of the problem originates from seeing ourselves as earthly citizens rather than heavenly pilgrims. Instead of being carriers of the gospel ark to the whole world while on our way to Christ we have planted our stakes into fallen soil and now enjoy the forbidden fruit rather than the grapes of Eschol.

Lk.6: 46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

If you peruse the teachings of Jesus you will find that they are revolutionary and against even the accepted mores of this present day culture. His teachings are multilayered and the very fine china of human behavior. While this so called “Judeo-Christian” culture has established a few major tenants of morality the teachings of Jesus emasculate that fallen attempt to appear righteous and moral. In fact, the teachings of Jesus filet the heart and lay waste our outward shows of political and national religion which is nothing in God’s eyes.

We are called to obey the teachings of Jesus. It is quite curious that so many loudly proclaim the Law of Moses and its relevance for today while ignoring the life changing words of our Lord Jesus Christ. Just the Sermon on the Mount indicts the evangelical church at large. We have not just put the cart before the horse, we have made our own ox cart and left the horse within the doctrinal stall. But the teachings of Jesus are only burdensome when we embrace the tension between what the culture dictates and what Jesus has said. If we reject outright and wholly the dictates, mores, and morals of this culture then there is no tension. But if we embrace nationalism we embrace a Trojan horse full of compromise, dilution, and outright disobedience to our Master’s words and ways.

Have you ingested what I am saying? What I am suggesting and contending is that what is overwhelmingly taught and practiced in western evangelicalism is not New Testament Christianity and does not follow the teachings of Jesus. Did you get that? Many of us who would agree with that statement were once walking in that deception. We are still not perfect and must pursue Christ with all of our hearts but our eyes have been opened to the diabolical attraction of nationalism. We are all unprofitable servants, however when the Spirit frees us from bandage we must walk toward the light and let the chains fall at our side.

If Jesus is to be Lord of all He cannot have any competitors. None of our allegiance can go anywhere else but to Him. We love our families and we have a God given responsibility toward them but our allegiance is to Christ alone. And if Jesus is Lord than we must know exactly what He taught and seek to allow the Spirit to conform us to those words. All of them and none other.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Taking Pleasure in His Preeminence

A woman on my Facebook timeline posted a paragraph which included this phrase:

Just imagine if Christ alone became our pleasure.”

Think on that for more than a moment. What if Christ was not just our duty and not just our gratitude but if He was our highest and paramount pleasure. What if Jesus was not only the force behind our lives, but He was what gave us unquenchable pleasure even in this temporal world. This temporal world is filled with all sorts of pleasures. Self gratification, material things, entertainment, sports, food, clothing, and many other things give people pleasure.

But what if followers of Jesus had more than a doctrinal commitment? What if Jesus became our very life’s pleasure and He was the preeminence in everything we thought and did? And this was not just a duty to orthodoxy, but this was what we craved and what we sought and what we thirsted after.

Col.1: For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
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.

What does the phrase “that in all things He might have the preeminence” mean? I mean we know what it is saying but how does it translate into our hearts and lives? We speak of money and sports and politics and world events and weather and a laundry list of other subjects, but where is Jesus in all of that? If He is to receive the preeminence in all things why is our speech not consumed with Him and His Word? Even the church has transformed itself into a help and good advice station rather than an oasis where Jesus is always high and lifted up.

Can you not see that in general Jesus has been relegated to the doctrinal books and statements of faith, but He has not been the focal point of the church for many decades. The Spirit does not say that Jesus should be preeminent on Sunday morning which in most circles He is not. He says that Jesus should be preeminent in ALL things. That, my friends, is a tall order and monumental in scope. But when we lose sight of it and ignore that exhortation we can settle into a nice and comfortable religious framework which soothes the conscience and strokes the flesh.

The world ministers to the flesh, but the Spirit ministers to our spirit. And instead of Jesus being the beginning and end of all we are and think, we have taken what pleasures us in the temporal and force fed a caricature of Jesus into that equation. It is spiritual treason at its zenith. How can we pretend to submit to the preeminence of Jesus in all things when in reality He does not even have the preeminence in anything?

Now with the concept of preeminence clearly focused in our minds let us move into sacred and spiritually sophisticated territory. It is one thing to completely surrender to His lordship in our lives and live under His authority. But it is quite another to have that lordship as being our unequalled pleasure. Can that be possible? Can we move from dedicated and dutiful servant and while still being that servant having it be spiritually pleasurable in all things? What would the church look like if Christ was our all encompassing pleasure?

But alas, we have settled for a world of lesser gods in which our gods are marionettes which dance to the strings of our desires. It is a world where men worship themselves through other names such as Redeemer, Savior, and Jesus. Far from being a pleasure serving the Risen Christ is such a stranger to the culture and present such a sacrifice that we are forced to manufacture another Jesus who acquiesces to our own thoughts and lusts. And the church believes they are giving Jesus all the preeminence when in fact we are preeminent. And yes, it is we who we serve. The things of this earth give us pleasure and we paste God’s name to it. The only one we fool is ourselves.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Sacred Times


There are some times when I am drained of all my dreams and all my wisdom and all my strength and even all of myself. I feel like that tonight. It is sometimes unpleasant but these times are sacred to Him. I have nothing and I am nothing but an unprofitable servant of the Redeemer. And there is where I am everything.

To live is Christ…

Sunday, September 01, 2013

The Poor


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

With stained glass windows, and with huge auditoriums, and with technologically advanced sound systems, and with great salary packages, the evangelical churches in America continue to build their own little kingdoms. But after proclaiming the gospel the ministry to the poor should be paramount to the church. Instead we look for charismatic speakers, great music programs, wonderful children’s programs, and a friendly atmosphere.

There are over 3 million homeless people in America. The average age of a homeless person is…NINE YEARS OLD.  If that does not break your heart you have no soul. Oh church what have we done?