Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Heart of a Believer


Ps.27: Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.

(Please read all of Psalm 27)

Matt.6: 19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

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

When we use the term “heart” as it pertains to things of the Spirit we are not referring to the human organ that pumps blood. It refers to the inner man. It is the spirit that is you and that which you think and that which controls you and that which you are. It is unseen and really cannot be known except by God and to a lesser degree you. It is your heart that will dictate how you think about things and how you speak and how you will act.

Now before you were saved your heart was completely wicked. Even any good deeds you did were done because it made you feel good to do them. It was all a ministry to yourself. In fact you were your own god and religion was just another way to pad your resume. But to please God we must seek Him diligently and we cannot do that without a change of heart.

We can read all the wonderful theologies about what happened to us when we were reborn, however that does not automatically translate into a broken and contrite heart. To walk in the Spirit requires much more than a correct theology. To be dead to self and alive unto God is a sacred path which I believe is plowed by prayer, planted by God’s Word, and then watered by both the Word and prayer.

So once again I submit that we as western believers know more about Christ in our minds than can be found in our hearts. Theology without a new heart made into His likeness and translated into thoughts, words, and deeds is just theology. Vitamins that are still in the bottle are useless to our health. The change we need begins in the heart and then works its way out into every area of our lives. And when our hearts are changed we often think and speak and do what the Spirit directs rather than having to debate and wonder. And this post is about a changed and malleable heart which is submitted to the will of the Spirit and to the things of Christ. And in that pursuit we turn once again to the sacred place called prayer.

The church has for so long downplayed the importance of prayer and practiced it with so little sacrifice and passion that most believers do not even understand what a passionate prayer life looks like. A fifteen minute verbal prayer spoken over a breakfast coffee is considered vibrant. Or a score of sentences spoken while driving is the usual multi-task exhibition of prayer. How many believers go to a place apart from distractions and literally agonize in prayer? How many have no consideration of time or schedule or phone calls when they go down into the sacred caverns of prayer? How many will take an entire day sometime and just fast and pray and worship all day long? How many? You tell me.

But becoming a believer who prays with conviction and passion and whose walk in the Spirit is fueled by prayer is no easy task. You cannot just “make up your mind” and then go and do it. Like adhering to a diet only to falter so are many believers who sincerely wish to meet with God in a powerful and sacrificial way but who stumble and fall and remain defeated. This is a new day and a new year and our God is s forgiving and restoring God. What a Savior!

We will not “arrive” in prayer during the first week or the first month. In fact, prayer is a sacred journey of much labor and much reward. This is one of the few places that when we arrive we see even more land ahead of us. Even Paul said that he had not arrived but he pressed toward the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus. And to fulfill that calling and please our Father we must pray earnestly. It must not be a perfunctory religious practice which seems benign and has no impact upon our lives.

The particulars can be worked out as the Spirit leads. But the initial question must always be are we hungry enough, and have we had enough of redundant Christianity which has no power and does not affect us on a daily basis? And are we still searching for Christ in a deeper way since we came to faith, or are we moored at the dock with the rest of the professing believers? And if you knew for sure that you could see and experience Christ more deeply than you could imagine, are you willing to sacrifice to find that sacred place? And the question that should make us tremble: How much in love with Jesus are we?

Psalm 27.

Please Lord Jesus, break our hearts completely this year and pour Yourself into them. Open our eyes to whatever displeases You, and use us to openly glorify Your Holy Name. We refuse to be satisfied with a life which only receives comfort through Your Words. We desire to be placed upon the Potter’s wheel and be molded into Your image. Strengthen us in our pursuit of meeting with You in prayer. We need nothing but You in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Amen.

Room in the Inn?


There was no room in the inn for the unborn Jesus. He knew He would be born in a stable and so He came. But now He does not ask us to make a room available to Him. Our entire inn must be His and given to Him as His dwelling place. How many rooms in our hearts are being occupied by people and things other than Jesus? Jesus will not sit at a round table with others and offer His opinion. He is Lord and yet He will be patient and gentle and keep trying to lead us into His presence. But in the end either we worship and obey Him as Lord, or we still treat Him as if He dwells in a stable.

A Call to Prayer


“Pray without ceasing.”

How does a car move without gas? The answer is it doesn’t. It’s still a car and it still may have value and it still may be comfortable to sit in. But it cannot move. It is lifeless and stationary. Who among us can say that 2013 saw our prayer lives filled with much sacrifice and many morning watches and many night watches? Could we be satisfied with what we offered up to our worthy Savior and the time we spent dwelling in His presence? And how significantly and wonderfully were we changed during the course of the year because we had sought Him in the prayer closet diligently?

So here comes a brand new year. The world offers all kinds of resolutions, but we should offer repentance and resolve. This is no game we play. I truly believe the most compromised, minimized, and almost ignored part of the church and in the lives of individual believers is prayer. And I also believe without an awakening to the paramount importance of prayer for our walk in the Spirit we will just recreate what we have always done. There is life in prayer. It isn’t just presenting God with a laundry list of what you want Him to do, but it is in reality a transfer of His life to yours. And there are many giants that work tirelessly to keep us from having a deep and robust prayer life.

We must see our Redeemer as He is and then realize just how He deserves our time with Him. And should we not hunger and thirst to be with Him? And the reason we do not hunger for time with Him is because the cares of this world have choked out any vision we have of Him. And subsequently we live in reliance upon ourselves. Let us be honest with each other. Prayer is the most difficult of the spiritual disciplines because it demands our time and it demands our utter humility. We hold on to our time as if it was gold, but we do not wish to spend that gold upon He who has granted us eternal life? And prayerlessness is the mark of an atheist. But prayer not only summons the powers of God’s kingdom, but it changes us as well.

A car can look like a car and smell like a car and be pushed into a garage like a car and yet without fuel it has no more power than a front porch chair. The question comes down to this: Do we believe in Jesus and do we truly desire to follow Him? This kind of Christian life which prays so little is a fraud. And even we who attempt to set prayer as a religious observance without abandoning our own schedule and time is a feeble attempt to create an observance rather than an elongated time in God’s presence and threshingfloor.

I sincerely believe that the absolute key to walking in the Spirit is prayer. And in this coming year we need to make a commitment to make prayer a priority which muscles out so many other activities and distractions. I hope that we can go deeper in prayer than we ever thought was possible. We need to run to the healing balm of His chastisement.

But can we peel back the layers and expose the church for the harlot she has become? The church frolics in the land of the heathen while the prayer closet is empty. Go to the average church service and prayer is a mere token. Is there wailing at the wall for the souls of sinners? There are mothers and fathers whose children are one heartbeat away from hell and yet the church smiles and nods and claps without a hint of brokenness. The entire thing is an affront to a Holy God. Is it any wonder why the world laughs and mocks us? We are a mockery and a sham!

When the church stops praying then all that is left as a religious shell. And since you will not be challenged by the local church we must challenge each other. Away with all the idols which steal our time and then our hearts! And if the time for the end of all things is near then what must the Spirit be saying to anyone who has ears? Would He not be urging and exhorting all who call Jesus Lord to fall upon our faces and repent? God cannot hear prayers that are not prayed.

What kind of people name the name of Jesus and do not pray or just go through the prayer motions? We are quick to take umbrage when the world approves sin but do we not see our own great sin? The precious Spirit of God told us that Elijah prayed and it did not rain for two years and yet we treat prayer so disrespectfully? There can be only one reason for our prayerlessness. We don’t believe there is a God who listens. But we soothe our prayerless consciences through moral crusades and worthless elections and larger buildings with larger congregations and all sorts of preacher celebrities. But it isn’t enough to see the vacuous nature of it all; we must fall on our faces and seek His face once more. No more “Polly want a cracker prayers”. We must repent and cover our hearts with sackcloth and ashes until we receive His grace and power once more.

Tomorrow is a new year. And we all will give an account for what we do with it. This may be the last year we have upon this earth. Let us be consumed with His power, His grace, His commands, His directions, His presence, and all for His glory! But that will only come to pass if we are clothed with humility and make prayer the power of our lives!

Before you do anything in 2014, lay down a foundation of prayer regardless of how long it will take. The branches are starving for the Vine.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Worship of Man

in the


If you gathered a congregation together and told them to make an idol but that they could not make a golden calf, what would be the next “best” thing? I believe the article reveals a level of idolatry which is breathtaking and blasphemy at its zenith. These people are going to spend many millions of dollars to immortalize men in stained glass windows in a chapel at a Southern Baptist seminary. Even if it was Wesley or Luther or Spurgeon it would be wrong, however these people are those who led the conservative fight within the SBC over the last twenty years.

You see, this is the doctrinal idolatry of which I have spoken. It is not worshiping the Lamb of God but it worships men who wear the “conservative” or “orthodox” moniker with human pride. They are not known for giving their lives like Jim Elliot or David Livingston or any of the martyrs. The men who will adorn the place of worship are those who present their Christianity on tablets of paper and then are lifted up as heroes of the faith. And while millions starve for food as well as the gospel, stain glass windows are being placed before the eyes of so called worshipers to the tune of many millions of dollars.

The chapel is named after a man and the place reserved for prayer is adorned with a woman’s name. And just why do these people have their name emblazoned upon places reserved for spiritual disciplines? It is because they were rich and donated money. This kind of blasphemy should make us tremble with fear because God’s cup of wrath must almost be filled. Just because it says it’s a seminary does not mean it teaches Jesus.

What can even be said? This kind idolatry goes beyond the normal car or house or clothes worship. This is Greek humanism brought right into the place of worship. And so called conservative Bible “scholars” believe this is right in God’s eyes? You can memorize the entire Bible, recite all the orthodox creeds, and be militant about the inerrancy of Scripture and still not be following the True and Living Christ. The end times are upon us. How much more can God take?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Modern Scribe Atmosphere


Gal.2: But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:

The Scribes were a Jewish sect within Israel that were teachers of the law known as the Torah. They also taught the oral traditions as part of the law. They were to be honored above people’s own parents. They would usually sit on a platform a little higher than the students and as they taught they would allow questions. It was among the Scribes that Mary and Joseph found the young Jesus as He listened and asked them questions in Luke chapter 2. As it pertained to the law, the written and oral Word of God, the Scribes were the final authority.

We have their “ancestors” even today who lead people to doctrines without leading them to Jesus. They shuffle through all kinds of Scriptures and maybe even come up with the correct pieced together interpretation. They challenge them about sound doctrine and sound exegesis and sound theology but they do not challenge them about an undeniable and remarkable revelation of Jesus found through their lives. And without living doctrine your written doctrine is not sound.

They are known in the evangelical community for their orthodoxy and their array of opportunities to purchase their “stuff”. They are considered “Biblical scholars” whatever that is, but they are not known for their compassion or love or moderate lifestyles. People by the millions hang on every word they say and when they say something provocative the lines are drawn and the battle begins. Their interpretations are given great weight simply because they are well known and have distributed much literature defining their own view on Scripture. They are often quoted as if that carries the day in any Scriptural discussion.

Now if teaching is strictly confined to the written page then that is all we need. If we can memorize a certain set of doctrines and call it a day then that is what we must “do”. And then when a set of men form a semi-circle on a platform and offer bits of their doctrinal elitism then let us film these conferences, distribute them to all orthodox believers, and let us watch them every night for devotions. Who really needs the Bible when you have the exegetical magisterium?

And if correct written doctrines comprise the totality of what it means to follow Jesus then let us print T-shirts with our doctrines so that the lost can see we are following Jesus. I knew a man and his wife who were graduates of Bob Jones University and he felt called to the mission field. He applied to be accepted in training and in raising support but he was turned down. This man was as orthodox as can be and supported the doctrines and policies of Bob Jones University. So what6 was the reason they turned him down? Because he just could not bring himself to agree to a pre-trib rapture view. He believed in the rapture but he leaned either mid-trib or post trib. You see, the magisterium demanded strict adherence to their set of doctrines.

I have found it very difficult to communicate with clarity and fullness just what I believe the Spirit is saying in today’s community which calls itself orthodox. We have polished our fine doctrinal china and presented it to each other and thought we were following Jesus. We can correct many doctrinal miscreants that either misinterpret the Scriptures or use them for their own aggrandizement or power. And in this day they are many to be sure. But that is not following Jesus. The New Testament does not call us to a ministry of discernment. It calls us to discern, however when we speak of ministry we speak of Jesus.

There are official titles for some ministries such as teacher, elder, even such things as helps. But even those believers who do minister within those titles are also called to be Jesus to the lost world. But we have so exalted knowledge that now what we know is considered primal if not exclusive. So the pastor claims he studies for many, many hours during the week to deliver a half hour message. Only God knows how many hours went directly into that preparation, however that is a lot of time for one half hour. And there are two things about that. Some are lying when they speak of many hours, and the others are preparing an articulate speech which people find interesting and which showcases his oratorical skills rather than passionately exhorts and challenges believers to draw closer to Christ and go without the camp bearing his reproach.

This is a subtle obsession with not only remaining safely within our doctrinal borders, but also to teach our doctrine at the expense of teaching Jesus. Does that seem confusing? Well what has happened is that the church has created an elite class of leaders who oversee committees, write books, play golf, speak for hours on the phone, read Christian literature, counsel people, plan calendars, and prepare messages. And so many times the phalanx of that ministry is filling people’s intellect with the knowledge of Bible interpretation in an organized fashion we call doctrine.

When I was ordained the men asked me questions. The questions were about doctrine. Did I believe that salvation was by faith alone? What did I believe about the Bible? They asked my views about prophecy, gifts of the Spirit, and other questions that centered upon doctrine. But they did not ask me whether I was helping the poor. They did not ask me whether I was visiting prisoners. They did not ask me about loving the brethren and sinners as well. They did not ask me about my prayer life. They did not ask me whether I tried to eat with lost people in order to win them to Christ. No, all their questions were of the doctrinal variety.

Another aspect of this issue about spiritual hubris and the doctrinal elite is the ever waging war about Bible versions and translations. Of course I do the necessity of addressing certain things that seem intentional as it pertains to weird English interpretations and the softening of certain words, but all in all it can become just another platform for elitism and a scribe mentality. I usually read and quote from the King James but I refer to other translations and of course the original languages when necessary. But when someone asks me what version they should embrace I usually say that there are ten or so good ones so pick one and obey all of it.

But can you see what lies at the bottom of this Bible version war? It is doctrine. When I was a young believer I read from the King James and the Living Bible. That is considered very liberal in orthodox circles. But I would ask you this. Here is a man who strongly stands for the KJV and his life reflects about 60% of what it teaches. But here is a man who loves the NIV and his life reflects about 80% of what it teaches? Now the orthodox community would to some extent discount the latter man’s spiritual walk based largely upon the Bible version he espouses. The other man is completely embraced because of His KJV stand. You see, written doctrine is always king within much of the orthodox community.

But in the end there are men whose academic prowess and original language credentials bring them into prominence as spiritual leaders. What they believe and why they believe it as well as how they can doctrinally defend what they believe muscles out HOW they believe what they believe. What has happened that now shapes the evangelical community is how we understand the Bible, and how we organize its teachings, and how we adhere doctrinally to its teachings, and it can even flow down into what you understand the Scriptures to be. And in the end how you live what they say becomes an elective course. In fact, what we say and believe about the Scriptures completely overshadows how our lives reflect what we believe. When a man is “orthodox” people are referring to what he believe regardless of how he lives.

So following Jesus becomes an exercise in doctrinal academics and not a self denying, sacrificial walk which thinks like Jesus, feels like Jesus, speaks like Jesus, has compassion like Jesus, and lives like Jesus apart from the dictates and influences of the secular culture. And when you have a self affirming focus on orthodox doctrine then eventually a scribe mentality is formed, and then certain men become the ruling magesterium within that community. They do not hold the title of pope or emperor or cardinal or any other name which would exalt them as having Biblical knowledge that transcends the common believer and therefore elevates their status, but in practice and in the atmosphere that has been created they are seen as such. And it all stems from a certain type of gnosticim which claims special insight into the Scriptures which can only be gleaned by certain men who have certain academic credentials.. They were once called the scribes. They are alive and well today. And this entire mindset makes the Bible some kind of code and makes following Jesus complex.

Learning what the Scriptures teach, including to the smallest point, and defending that overwhelmingly by matching verses and themes but without assigning obedience as an equally important doctrinal exegesis, is idolatry. Let us diligently seek the glorious and profound simplicity which is in Christ.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Ecco Homo!


Jn.19: Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him.
And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe,
And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands.
Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him.
Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!

Oh how can my heart continue to beat when I think of what my Savior endured for me? Look how they scourged Him and beat Him and spit on His face and then when He is bloodied beyond recognition they mock Him. And there He stands, a shell of a man, and Pilate yells “Ecce homo!” which means “Behold the man!”.

Look what they have done! Look what we have done! Look what He has done! Oh my dear brethren, as you look at the photograph which is a visual representation let us not forget that He endured the reality of such a vicious beating which after Pilate’s mocking will lead Him to a cross. And did He realize that most men would reject Him? Of course He did. But did He realize that wicked and greedy men would use Him for their own gain? Yes, he did.

And here we are listening to men who are preaching some kind of golden goose and they call him “Jesus”. But that is not Jesus. What we hear today are enticing words of men’s wisdom. They make Him a patriot and a financier and a medicine man and a hater of sinners. But look at Him! Behold the man! Ecce homo! Is this the Jesus men are preaching and following? Are we called to use His wounds and unbearable beatings and His elongated sufferings and even His death so that we may play the harlot and reap what this world has to offer? Are we not called to walk in His steps? Oh how great a sin men are committing when they use His name to line their own greedy pockets. It is blasphemy at its zenith.

This world has always been a den of thieves, but as Jesus saw in His day wicked men have used the world as their template and turned the faith into a den of thieves as well. And in this day the deceptions are much more sophisticated and lucrative than they were in Biblical times. Preaching Christ and Him crucified is no longer relevant. Today we must have all kinds of earthly promises. We must hear great and swelling words from self taught orators who use sacred words as if they were coffers. The wounds and sufferings of His sacred body are all but forgotten. Perhaps we drag them out at Easter time and drum up some sentimentality, but the church has no appetite for that story anymore. It has grown stale. It is no longer appealing. We have heard it too many times and it is not only unpleasant, but it is not conducive for excitement and the general gaiety sought after in the gatherings.

Our precious Lord stands drenched in His own blood and is swelling all over His entire body and before all Jerusalem the Roman Prefect yells out “Ecce homo” as if to shame the Jews, mock Jesus, and perhaps convince them the man had endured enough. But think about what passes for the faith these days. And if perchance during a western church service with all its excitement and bells and whistles an image of this Jesus would be presented would it not seem so very out of place? What? What kind of a church would it be if the beaten and tortured image of Jesus would have no place within it?

Go ahead and cling lightly to your orthodox doctrines while you go about your self serving lives and claim you are following Jesus. Go ahead and spray the fake blood on a church members body as he plays Jesus and then return to your western feast. And as you congratulate the players in your pageant you will be ignorant of the fact that you only know the sufferings and death of Jesus within a doctrinal cage. And if we measured your knowledge of Jesus based upon the relentlessness and passion and self denying pursuit of Him would we conclude He is your life?

If we meditate upon our Lord and the events of His passion we will experience a place of deep worship that is also scented with a kind of acceptable melancholy. If your eyes have never felt tears for Jesus and His sufferings then you are unaware that you are starving for truth. Do I believe it is this bad? I believe it is worse than any of us can understand. The gospel lies stricken in the streets. The people who use His name live as if He is dead and gone. And Christ is repackaged as an American capitalist who will do anything to defend Americans while supplying the church with everything the church members lust after.

But take a look at the picture. Of course it is just a man, an actor, but does it not break your heart when you think about Who He is and what He has done? Behold the man! Behold the Lamb! If we ever lose sight of Christ in all His glorious sufferings and in His death then we have nothing but abject idolatry which is what is left of most of the American evangelical church. The church can withstand seeing a bloody Jesus a few times a year on special occasions, but a steady diet of that would be offense to people’s cultural sensibilities and make for empty pews and no one wants that.

How many people look at us and think “Behold the man” and are referring to our Lord and Savior?

A Religion of Hate

So often we hear these days that Islam is a religion of hate. And there are many sects who practice hate and violence and call it Islam. But Christianity in the west has become a religion of hate. But in reality it is no longer Christianity at all. As you watch this video I would like you to imagine Jesus saying the things that this apostate preacher is saying. Here is the transcript above the video:

“To all humanists and atheists listening to this telecast: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness will not be in danger in any way if someone says ‘Merry Christmas’ around you.  Someone will argue well it’s a Christian prayer … well yes it is and this is the United States of America that was founded by Christians on Christian principles according to the word of God.
 And then the humanists argue and what about the atheists and my response is “What about them?”.  No one is asking you to be baptized in the site of a manger.  No one is going to pass the collection plate if you buy a manger.  If you pass a manger scene and someone is singing ‘Joy to the World,’ you can take your Walkman and stuff it into your ears, or you can call your lawyer. Or you can just exercise your right to leave the country.  Planes are leaving every hour on the hour. Get on one!  It’s time for the majority to rule this nation!”

This false teacher even goes so far as to lie about the pagan origins of Christmas. He even compares saying "Merry Christmas" with the blood of the martyrs. Men like these champion earthly freedoms instead of the freedom found in Christ. The freedom found in Christ is humble and meek, while the freedom found on earth is brash and self serving. And the audience claps with glee because they say "Merry Christmas" defiantly. What a sad farce.

Now this results from an idol worship of a nation called America. And why shouldn’t this man worship America? He is a millionaire many times over and his entire family, including his second wife, have prospered immensely from this bastardized form of Christianity. He is the man who says the Jews do not need Jesus to be saved and that the Jewish people should keep their children away from the gospel. I wrote about that HERE.

Labels and pejoratives continue to feed the carnal nature of the church. Instead of saying lost people who need Christ we say they are atheists and humanists and liberals and all sorts of other people who act like the sinners many of us used to be. This is where Christianity now is and the gospel is something to be defended but not lived and shared. And just who is the gospel for? Is it for those who have cleaned themselves up and walk with a shadow of religion and show an allegiance to this nation and its Constitution? And then and only then are they candidates for the good news. What utter blasphemy.

Men like him spread hate for gays, and hate for liberals, hate for atheists, hate for Muslims, and hate for the Palestinians. What should be a faith which walks in gospel redemption has now been clothed in visceral arrogance, hedonism, and a hatred which is at odds with all Jesus taught. This kind of language flies in the face of the “love your enemies” teaching from the lips of our Lord. And just how do men like Hagee get away with such unbiblical and demonic attitudes and language? It’s because his audience also worship America and seeks personal wealth. Can you imagine fighting over the pagan holiday known as Christmas and suggesting Jesus is on a crusade to keep His name in the Roman Catholic title?

Over the space of almost eight years I have written about the dangers and heresy of nationalism which is the love and allegiance to an earthly nation. It continues to change the faith once delivered to the saints into a faith which defends the Constitution, pledges its allegiance to a fallen entity, attacks all who exercise their rights if they do not please us, embraces the idea that God desires to make you financially wealthy, and that we will lay down our lives to defend a concept and lifestyle which is antichrist. The day the church embraced the lie that America is a Christian nation was the day we left following Jesus.

So millions sit in pulpits and hear caustic and arrogant words of hate spewed against all sorts of miscreants who preachers believe are compromising their fairy tale vision of America, and then these same millions go to a restaurant or go home satisfied with the thought that they had heard the truth and had met with Jesus. Both of those thoughts are damnable deceptions. I have no idea who is saved and who is not. But I fear for the salvation of those who profess a faith in a Jesus who is so extremely at odds with anything Scripture teaches about Him. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons follow another Jesus by their teachings about Him. So how can we say anything different when men like Hagee teach a Jesus who has nothing to do with the revelation of Himself in Scripture? I used to think that men like Hagee who have a “sound” statement of faith about Jesus but who exhibit a false Christ in their attitudes, speech, and actions were saved but severely misguided. I now do not have that confidence. The deception may be much more profound than that.

Take heed to what I am sharing. This issue of nationalism is not just some minor aberration within the faith which taints some element of our faith. No, this is a foundational issue which given enough time changes the heart and mind so dramatically that eventually it alters the faith altogether. And the end result, as we can see and hear in the video, it completely changes the truth about Jesus Himself. You can believe the Westminster Confession, the Apostle’s Creed, and the Nicene Creed but if you love and pledge your allegiance to a false Jesus through nationalism you are in grave danger. You may not express it the way John Hagee does, but make no mistake nationalism is a great sin against Jesus and it completely undermines the faith He taught.

I ask you, I beg you, I beseech you, examine your heart and see if there is anything which smacks of hatred toward sinners or a love and allegiance for anything upon this earth. And if there is then repent and cast out the bondwoman for she has no place within the house of Jesus. This kind of thing should break our hearts and make us determined not to follow in the footsteps of these heretics but seek out and diligently follow in our Lord’s blood bought footsteps. May we be like Jesus and not just like good citizens.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Denying of Self


Matt.16: 24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

Lk.14: 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.

Lk.14: 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
And the question is, "Are these not Scripture?"

We live in a culture, a mindset, and a community where “me” is the supreme focal point. There are no words with which to draw out the colossal depravity of this self centered culture. It sees everything through the prism of personal desires and lusts and opinions. This kind of life has grown so strong and has become so accepted that rare is the person who even questions any of it. In fact, this hedonistic culture will collect armies comprised of unbelievers as well as professing believers who both will die to defend itself.

Even the smallest irritation, discomfort, or inconvenience elicits many levels of complaint. We have never learned to deal with those things with patience and understanding. Could we not make a long list of things when driving that aggravate us? What do we feel when the drive thru line at the fast food restaurant is not moving? How about a slow moving line at a retail store? If we go to a store and they are out of what we wanted how does that affect us? We cannot find our favorite shirt; our favorite television show has been preempted; the food we ordered has not been served promptly; we receive an unexpected bill; and on and on it goes.

These things affect us almost on a daily basis. We have become greatly distressed over inconvenience on almost any level. That which affects us adversely is consciously and subconsciously considered an unjust affront to us personally. We feel as if we are being mistreated even when it is a common occurrence that happens to everyone. You see, it is all about us. And within the church suffering is explained and prayed for as if it all comes from the devil. Yes, this culture of prosperity, indulgence, and self satisfaction has seeped into the mindset of the church. And after many years that mindset has even found its way into Biblical doctrine. In other words the western believer sees God’s blessing as a promotion or a raise or a bargain or success or anything which enhances the life and standing of an individual believer.

But that has never been the way of Jesus nor is it the core teachings of the New Testament. No longer does the church desire to walk in His steps. What would Jesus do is an embarrassing phrase used in jewelry and bumper stickers without actually understanding the essence of that statement. Emulating Jesus, or even allowing Him to live through us, is much more than being pro-life or anti-gay marriage or even carrying your Bible to school. We have gathered a set of ways in which we can pat ourselves on the back because we have taken a “stand for Jesus”. But following Jesus is not a battle against the culture or even the kingdom of the lost. This life demands we deny ourselves to please our Master as well as give our lives for those who do not know Him.

And that is the profound paradox which has been lost to the church. We are not called to purify any culture by attacking the lost and defending our own sense of morality. No, never. We are called to be salt and light to those imprisoned souls who live in darkness and need to see Jesus. But the church has saddled the moral horses, and with democratic swords blazing we have sought out the miscreants who dare to be and act like the sinners they are. And if we see their efforts fail, and if we see legislation pass, and if we see conservatives elected, then we assure ourselves that we have won God’s battle. But in reality, a pitiful and unredemptive reality, we have won our own battle and left the gospel to our powerless statements of faith. In the midst of a spiritual tragedy of immeasurable proportions the church shouts the victory and plans the next building program.

There is magnificent and deep spiritual path which is filled with true life through a denial, a rejection, a renouncement, and even a death of oneself. To say this is an easy path which can be attained by head knowledge or a limited commitment to Christ would be to lie. To find the treasure of His glory and have it permeate your being requires a hunger and a thirst which in and of itself must be sought out diligently. To bring your thoughts into the obedience of His will and Word is always painful and unpleasant to the flesh. And once you embark upon such a journey you quickly see just how strong, subtle, and even vicious your flesh can be. If this were a onetime event we might be able to dive in with a great effort and determination and with a season of fervency crucify our flesh once and for all.

But that is not the path to which we are called. We have been called to a daily path which walks in the very midst of darkness and it has a battle within which reveals the flesh as resilient and relentless in its pursuit to direct our path along a road which has it as our master. It despises Christ and everything about His kingdom. It appears religious and moral but it has the spirit of antichrist as its fellow traveler. Everything about your flesh seeks to gently and with reasonableness lead you away from Christ and consistently lead to yourself. It is a path filled with affirmation and fulfillment and all kinds of temporal allurements. And perhaps the most profound deception along this path is that it has all kinds of signs which indicate you are following Jesus.

And yet there remains a glorious path filled with mystery, majesty, and spiritual treasures that abide within the Eternal Christ. The dimensions of this path are past finding out. This path is trodden upon with eagles wings, and even though it has nothing that appeals to the flesh, it strengthens the inner man who is made after His image. The world knows nothing of the resplendent essence of this self denying life. In a world which seeks its own to deny self is considered an aberration or a eccentric practice of some eastern religion. But that which confounds the wise and is invisible to the natural man is an incredible foretaste of a coming revelation which cannot be fathomed. Is not that which we should and we must seek?

But, alas, the church which still uses His name has studiously avoided anything close to self denial, and in fact, now embraces “self” as the fourth member of the God head. We have sold our birthright for an earthly stew. And thinking that this stew has been cooked and served by God, we have missed the banquet set before us that denies self and revels in and feeds upon Him. It is almost impossible for words to illuminate our minds to the monstrous infidelity in which the church is involved. Like a man whose adulterous relationship with his neighbor has gone on for so long he now can justify it in his own heart, so has the church justified and even championed its spiritual adultery with the kingdom of darkness.

Oh how much glory have I myself missed and fed my soul religion instead of Christ? I cannot undo the many times when I subtly rejected Him in favor of myself, but I can repent and proceed into the future with an unwavering hunger to deny myself and walk in the Spirit. All of us are faced with a choice. It is the same choice the Spirit has desired to set before us every single day of our redeemed life. Will we follow Him and crucify our flesh, or will we embrace ourselves and say we are following Him, or more likely will we walk a path which unsuccessfully makes the flesh and the Spirit co-laborers?

Oh what a treacherous people we are! Oh how great a sin we continue to commit! Jesus has become Lord of the doctrine but not Lord of our lives. And in a diabolical sleight of hand we have somehow worked ourselves into our precious doctrines, and while parading our orthodox talismans we have played the harlot. Like an adulterer who claims passionately his love for his spouse because he doesn’t want to lose her while he still sins with another, we have loudly proclaimed our love and faithfulness to our Bridegroom while we frolic between the bed sheets of this fallen world. It is a titanic betrayal which seemingly has no bounds. This spiritual situation is an earthly prison that reaches between unseen bars and passes plates of cotton candy which taste good for a moment and then vanishes. And there is no spiritual nutrition at all.

But we can never fully grasp the spiritual extravagance contained inside a spiritual life which completely embraces Christ at the expense of success, prosperity, and even the general respect of the community of faith. The undiscovered treasure that can be found in Christ when we deny ourselves completely and only think and speak and do what he Himself directs and empowers is a spiritual realm which is unspeakable and filled with glory.

And so to deny ourselves is to embrace and experience and reveal Him, Jesus. Isn’t that what the Christian life actually is? If it is not Jesus then it is a written religion which has a self help power and not the power of the Holy Spirit. And if that is all there is then let us eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die. But if it is Jesus, then let us die today and eat, drink, and be joyful unto Him. Your flesh is God’s enemy. And if you allow that serpent to live, and if you clutch him to your breast, he will certainly kill you before you kill him.

Deny yourself and step into a bondslave’s freedom called Christ.
(Please, I did not post this to generate any back and forth discussions or even for anyone to add their own Scriptural insights. Any comments should have a spirit that says "Oh me. Help me Holy Spirit to deny myself this coming year and submit completely to You".)

Slaying the Giants


In my lifetime I have seen the nation known as America grow as an aspirational culture which seeks many things which would be considered as vices by Scripture, but have now been embraced, encouraged, and even applauded by citizens who claim to believe in Jesus. This is a startling phenomenon to anyone who truly desires to follow the teachings of Jesus and yet hears words and sees actions which are completely at odds with everything our Lord taught us. If assessed within a vacuum it would be embarrassingly obvious that the Christian culture has been so contaminated by its secular environment that strong and unyielding alliances are now formed between those who profess Jesus and those who deny Him

And if that is not at odds with Scripture than the Bible means absolutely nothing.

II Tim.2: Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

If we genuinely hope to draw closer to Jesus in a way which changes our hearts systematically and dramatically then we will have to release many things which now keep us from Him. It is no longer a religious debate or a hodgepodge of differing perspectives. No, the mindless and benign debate over nationalism, patriotism, war, and capitalism has come to an end. The case has now been made and the Scriptures are clear. We must now choose who we will serve. There is no debate for those who wish to surrender all and follow Jesus. This is a clarion call for those who have ears to come forth and humbly and with repentance renounce our former allegiances with anyone or anything which cannot be considered part of Jesus.

And what is your giant? What Goliath do you still embrace? Yes we all must deal with our own sins, but just what general concept do you embrace, or which “topic” are you still mulling over, which should be left as either a sin or a weight which so easily besets us and keep us from that race which not only points to Jesus, but is Jesus? This is serious business and we all have a choice between the freedom of open discipleship or a stagnant profession which has for too long been treading water. We are faced with the obedience of our own way and will or dying to it all in a wave of unbridled worship and devotion. For too long we have avoided the personal sacrifice of our own crucified death made in His likeness, and instead we have rushed to the empty tomb and claimed we have risen from the dead.

But no one can arise from a tomb unless he has died. But the cross has become a ride in the Holy Land experience where you can be impressed while eating a hot dog as the Savior suffers, but as you leave you are certainly glad that you did not have to suffer. The resurrected life is a fraud without first a profound and painful visit to the cross. Jesus died for our sins and we can never be a part of that. It was and is finished. But the same Jesus who died upon the cross has called us to our own cross. That concept has been lost to the church. And it reveals that the church at large has rejected the Scriptures as God’s Word and in so doing it has rejected Christ Himself. The church turns on its doctrinal neon lights which proudly spells out their inerrancy credentials. But the self serving glow of those lights blind us to the undeniable fact that we have stopped following Jesus, and are now spectators to our own doctrinal fireworks.

Following Jesus has given way to a religion. It uses many of the same words and phrases, and it even uses the name of Jesus sometimes. But it does not deny self nor sacrifice anything because its pursuit is not of Jesus. There are so many teachings by our Lord which are forceful and compelling commands about the life which dies to live for Jesus. The commandments of Moses are easy compared with the commands of Jesus. And yet why does “living for Jesus” seem so easy and even effortless within this fallen culture? The answer is painful and obvious. We have softened, compromised, and even ignored the commandments of Christ in order to enjoy the fruits of this culture while maintaining a semblance of religion.

So how do we come out from among them assuming we actually desire to? There is no other way. We need a change of heart. There is no doubt the Lord rewards sacrifice and diligence. Our concentration must be upon Him, and then these things will be removed from our lives. I used to drink quite a bit of Coke soft drinks. And when I would give it up for only a month when I would taste it again it seemed way too sweet. And when we release these things from our lives something wonderful happens. The strength with which they held our desires weakens and our desires change.

But it is actually called repentance. Without it no progress is possible. To be granted a new heart we must reject the old one. But the giants guard the fortress. They are armed and ready for battle. When was the last time you laid everything – EVERYTHING – before the Lord and surrendered fully and allowed Him to return to you only that which pleases Him? The easy way out awaits you. We all are familiar with that path.

But anther path, His path, also awaits you. But in order to take the first step on that path you must be willing to deny yourself, and slay these giants. Which path do you desire? One will require spiritual warfare. One will find much fellowship. One may be lonely. One will seem like freedom but it will be bondage. One will seem like bondage but it will be freedom. But only one is filled with His presence. Go ahead, prepare your heart and get ready.