Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Anti-Gospel View of Moral Demands


Eph.2: 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

To expect and even demand that people who obviously do not follow Jesus should support moral issues that can only be fully understood through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit is not only illogical but self righteous as well, especially considering that we only hold our views by the Spirit's enlightenment. Can there be any greater unproductive demands on a lost and dead world? How can a blind man be required to step over a chair that is in his way? How can a deaf man be required to give a review of Beethoven’s fifth symphony? It is akin to demanding a car run without gas, or even more explicitly, without an engine.

And yet how much of the western evangelical church castigates dead people because they cannot understand Biblical morality? Even Calvinists of many stripes accuse lost sinners of espousing unbiblical moral principles even though their theology contends that only God can enlighten them to divine truth. In essence, we stand amidst a graveyard and holler at skeletons. But we seem to receive much affirmation by our hollering, and in fact we seem to suggest that God Himself desires us to scream at dead men in lieu of offering the way of life which is the everlasting gospel. The very last command Jesus gave before He left this earth was to preach the gospel. He said nothing of parading our moral convictions.

Oh how we stand and proclaim our own moral self righteousness knowing full well that the dead are busy burying the dead. But it makes for a good sermon and self affirmation. And if, perchance, someone is hung from the gallows for his moral beliefs, what pity, what consternation, and what outrage would emanate from within the evangelical community? We cannot even abide words and laws that are incongruent with our moral convictions, so what in God’s dear Name would we do if some among us would be crucified for their moral convictions?

Moral crusades are antithetical to the gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, the gospel is for the immoral. Those that have a fallen view of morality and self image are the mission field. They were us. And in many ways, when juxtaposed upon the overall teachings of Christ, they are still us. Grace is not something used and then discarded as if we have arrived. Grace is the spiritual essence of redemption that is embraced in a moment for a sinner to be born again, but it then remains as a mainstay throughout our earthly lives.

We seem to quickly and conveniently forget just how patient the Lord was in bringing us along as it pertains to Biblical truth and specifically Biblical morality. But once we reach a certain point in our journey, is it Biblical to throw out a moral tarp and identify all who are not under such a tent? And after we see and identify those whose moral views are incongruous with Biblical absolutes, are we empowered by the Spirit to attack, judge, and present them as targets of our condemnation? And if so, then is the gospel an offer for them to align themselves with moral absolutes or is it the door to a redemptive journey which should lead to that truth?

The cart before the horse illustration is applicable here. In fact, given the present representation of Christianity as a set of moral tenants, we run the real risk of subtly convincing conservative unbelievers that they stand justified before God. And because of the many political machinations and the moral crusades, that is exactly what many conservatives believe either overtly or subliminally. That is significantly counterproductive to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is not about making sinners better; it’s about making them brand new. And beginning at the moment of conversion that will be a lifelong process.

But over the years the evangelical expression of Christianity has formed a list of issues about which all must follow in lockstep, while the liberal wing has expanded the doctrinal borders to include heresy. But in Biblical reality there are only a few truths necessary to become a believer. One must believe that Jesus died for your sins, and that He alone is the Savior of all mankind, and that He resurrected from the dead, and perhaps a few more are essential to a born again experience. Many of the truths we all have come to know and embrace are part of the journey and not part of the prerequisite. If inerrancy of the Scriptures, or eternal security, or even the Trinity were prerequisites of salvation, I would never have been saved. You see, we have taken the Door and adorned it with all kinds of issues that are not part of grace through faith alone. Let the Spirit do His work. And in reality issues like nationalism and just wars and heterosexuality have become part of the doorway to salvation in these modern times.

The complex maze of morality and the finer points of doctrine have shrouded the clear and simple gospel of Jesus Christ. And now sinners must jump through a series of manmade hoops in order to be announced as “saved”. But even more egregious, the church reaches out with caustic words of moral indictments that identify the obvious, and in so doing we inadvertently present a works gospel. In 1975 when I was born again I had never set foot in an evangelical church. I knew I was a sinner, but I had no idea about the Mosaic Law and I really was not severely convicted of my sin. I only knew, by the Spirit, that Jesus was the only way to eternal life. And upon that truth I committed my life and soul.

If someone had argued about smoking pot or abortion or some other moral issue I would have immediately tuned them out. “If I be lifted up…”, said our Savior. The love of God through Christ has been marginalized through certain moral tenants. The church does not energetically criticize sinners who are divorced or who accumulate great sums of wealth? Why? Because those moral tenants are breached fully within the community of faith. But homosexuality and abortion are like skeet shooting; they present available targets which can be shattered by unkind words and attitudes of condemnation. But Jesus did not come to condemn the world; He came to seek and save that which was lost. At least that is what He said.

How often do we intercede with tears for those sinners who display lifestyles that are an affront to God? Do we stay up late or rise early in order to beseech the Lord on their behalf? Or do we pronounce sentence in the midst of the fellowship of like minded believers? I believe that for every time President Obama’s name is lifted up before Christ that same name is spoken with disdain among men. That is not the faith. That just mirrors what the people without Christ do, and that is a disgrace. If ours is not the ministry of reconciliation then just what is our calling?

For too long we have refused to see the distinct difference between speaking correction within the church and going without the camp bearing His reproach. And when that line is broken, the church becomes a judge rather than salt and light. Redemption and condemnation are mutually exclusive. I mean that when we condemn sinners our whispers of the gospel become useless wind. We are bearers of good news to those who desperately need to hear it. We should never want to come across as bearers of rules and moral codes.

The gospel of grace is the eternal revelation of the heart of the Father. It is His love through Christ that we must allow to shine through us. Salt and light and a city on a hill are what we are called to, not some moral policemen. When the early apostles came before the church in Jerusalem, Peter exhorted the brethren to understand that even the fathers of Israel could not keep the law, so to place that yoke upon the lost is not the way of the Spirit. And that is true today as well.

In order to preach morality we must leave preaching Christ. Christ died to redeem us from hell and make us a brand new creation in Him. Yes our morals will change, but only because we have been given a new heart. But choosing certain moral issues makes us feel moral and righteous. But I have news for all of us.

Regardless of how righteous we think we are,
our only righteousness comes from Jesus Christ by grace through faith.
And it is Him we should be lifting up.

Noble is that Soul

Noble is the soul who is blind to his own needs so he may see the needs of others.

Noble is the soul who see the needs of others as more pressing than his needs.

Noble is the soul whose needs are few.

Noble is the soul whose needs are met by God rather than his own significant energy.

Noble is the soul who meets his lusts with a non-negotiable denial.

Noble is the soul who recognizes temptation as poison.

Noble is the soul who refuses to hear the cries of his flesh.

Noble is the soul who treats everyday as belonging wholly to Christ.

Noble is the soul whose lips refuse to be an exit door for complaining.

Noble is the soul whose mind is the dwelling place for Christ.

Noble is the soul who can love without reviewing a résumé.

Noble is the soul who almost cannot bear compliments.

Noble is the soul who walks inside eternity.

Noble is the soul who treats money like a ministry and himself a conduit.

Noble is the soul who lives as a pilgrim.

Noble is the soul whose worship makes others uncomfortable.

Noble is the soul who closes his eyes at night having done the will of God.

Noble is the soul who life resembles a cross.

Noble is the soul whose ears are inclined to the Spirit.

Noble is the soul whose mouth and feet bring glad tidings.

Noble is the soul who rejoices in his eternal gift and his absolute unworthiness.

Noble is the soul whose God and Redeemer and Savior and Master and Sacrifice and Shepherd and Prince and Governor and Provider and Supplier and Wisdom and King and Lord and Life is Jesus.

Noble is that soul in the eyes of God.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bowing Before Him


Let your mind rise into the eternal. Let your heart be given wholly unto His Spirit. This world is fleeting by and the birth pangs of a new age approach. The end is almost here, and the end will be the beginning for those who know Him. There is not one single thing we have ever done to deserve what awaits us, and what awaits us is unspeakable and full of glory. The finest tongue of any preacher inspired and empowered by God’s Spirit has not been able to touch the hem of His garment. He is beyond us and He awaits us.

There is much talk about this and that, and there is much muttering and complaining about almost anything. But release the bonds that keep you imprisoned and soar with Him now as you look forward to bowing before His very Being. What in this world can compare with just one moment being in His presence and gazing into the brilliance of His face? He is King, He is Lord, He is Redeemer, He is Creator, and He has allowed Himself to be seen as a man for you.

What kind of love lends itself to mocking when that love is perfect and pure? And when God Himself condescends with limitless bounds knowing what awaited Him, how can we understand that holy love? He knows us; He knows our often failures; He knows we so desire this world; He knows we are prone to wander; He knows all of that and much more and yet He awaits, He awaits for our entrance. And the very instant we walk into the expanse of His throne room, and as we see the unfathomable brilliance of His being, will we not know exactly what grace is? How will we feel then about our self righteousness? What work will be we feel justifies our presence in His? How will we feel about all the energy we used trying to fix an unfixable world?

Oh what a day! And the streets may be gold and the gates may be pearl. The seraphim and cherubim may be spectacular. The blood washed throng may sound a sound of praise that reverberates throughout the halls of heaven. It may all be too wonderful for words to be sure.
But just to see Him, oh just to see Him. He who preachers lifted up; He who received our adoration; He who walked the earth; He who we prayed to; He whose name is holy; He who was and is and always will be our everything. Just to see Him who the angels worshiped and the writers penned. It so often seemed so ethereal and yet now we see Him. What will this world mean then?

So as you hear all the wrangling of men and the worthless nonsense that men call important, lift up your eyes and look with the eyes of faith unto Him from whose face the worlds fled. And remember, all this will culminate for the believer in His presence. And the grace that brought us to Him, will then allow and empower us to praise and worship Him. What a privilege! What a glory! Unimaginable here and now but then an unspeakable reality! Can you not feel your heart rise to Him even now? This has been given to you through grace alone, and the Creator God paid with His own Son, and this was for you and me?? Did he not know who we were? Did He not know how often we would disappoint Him even after we were redeemed? He did? Oh my, oh my.

He could have prepared a wonderful place of immense glory were He might visit once in a while. That would have been infinitely more than we deserved or even that we could fathom. But no, He decreed that we would come and spend eternity with Him. Oh does it not seem impossible? And yet all things are possible through Him. This kind of love is completely beyond us. These poor words of mine may even tingle our souls, and hopefully they do, but after we catch one glimpse of the Risen Christ these words will be so insufficient as to almost be a lie.

Oh Lord Jesus, Creator and Master of all there is and ever will be, we raise our lips and our hearts only to you and we worship the Redeemer we know and the fullness of Him we will one day know. You are our life. We cannot imagine life without You. Hallowed be Your name. May You receive all the glory and honor and blessing, and cursed by our lips if they ever speak any glory to ourselves. We are unprofitable servants, but You have made us Your sons and daughters and even brothers. We bow before Your majesty, You alone are worthy. We say with Your Seraphim,

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. Amen.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Gallows of Nationalism


Nationalism is not just another perspective of how Christianity should live within a fallen culture.
It is the hangman’s noose that has asphyxiated the church until she is a dead man walking.
Hitler and Stalin and Mussolini all loved and used nationalism.
But nowhere does Jesus teach anything of the sort.
It can no longer be denied, and we can no longer mince words. We can no longer make room for the spectacle of politics being a part of a believer’s life. It just cannot be. Anyone who professes to follow Jesus must see how damaging it is to the cause of Christ and to the very heart of a person. No one can claim to be guided by God’s Spirit and still remain active in American politics. For years now we have made room for sincere believers as they have played the fool and engaged in the destructive venue of politics, but there is no more room. If you are still engaged, you must repent.

There is no time left for niceties and shallow discussions about the founding fathers and having a voice. All that is gone and all that remains is Christ. You must evaluate everything through the prism of His Word and life. Please do not use some moral issue as your standard. There is a vast difference between being pro-life and pro-traditional marriage and following Jesus. If you do not see that then you must return to the gospels and understand His life and heart. This is no time for earthly machinations and rallying people to “take back America”.

This is a time for serious believers to get serious and realize we have been given a fool’s errand. Our time and energy and even God’s money is being wasted on temporal pursuits while the eternal is relegated to written doctrines. Politics is a veritable cesspool that engages in character assassination, verbal abuse, self promotion, and obscene amounts of money. It is absolutely opposed to the Kingdom of God regardless of which politician uses God’s name. It is an open practice of earthly idolatry which harms the soul and disarms the believer. We as believers cannot wait any longer to gently convince our brothers and sisters concerning the depth of this compromise. We must speak the truth and pray that the same Spirit which brought us out will begin to lead great masses of believers out from among that which sorely displeases our Master.

There is no time to elongate the discussion. The carnal aspects of the system are so blatant and so systemic that they are undeniable. A choice has to be made. But I fear that many believers do more rationalizing then they do fasting and praying. And if you rationalize, you will not change. And ten years from now if Jesus tarries you will still be chasing ghosts. But if there ever was a time when God needed to use all of us it is now. But unless millions step off the political treadmill and seek the Lord with passion, the church will remain little more than a religious and somewhat moral curiosity.

So I exhort you to take a few weeks or months and diligently seek the Lord. I am confident the Spirit will speak to your heart, not because I believe I am right, but because God’s grace opened my hardened and blinded heart. I reject any notion of superiority and I embrace the truth that I stand upon His grace alone. This is not some doctrinal back and forth which in the end means nothing. This issue of nationalism and politics has sucked the life out of the church and now the western evangelical church is on life support. But just like the bloodletting of old, the path we are on is what is killing us. The path upon which Jesus walked is all but lost.

The time for arguing is over. It leads nowhere. The time for us to fall upon our faces and seek Christ in all His will and ways is now. The time to read the gospels as if they are our template is now. The time for us to rise from the dead and become New Testament believers who passionately desire to think and speak and act like Jesus is now. The world is imprisoned in darkness, and their only recourse is to argue and fight over temporal issues that fade and change with each passing year. But we are called to be sentries of the eternal and ambassadors of the Lord Jesus and His gospel.

It is time, my brethren, to shake off the grave clothes and come forth.

II Tim.2: Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 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.
3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4 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.

The church is not only entangled with the affairs of this life and this world, but it now has entered into an intimate relationship with the fallen culture. And this relationship keeps growing in scope and depth. And like an addiction, the church cannot seem to even see what is happening, to say nothing of turning away. And local churches are like crack houses which supply people with enough drugs to keep them coming back. Do you think that analogy is too severe? Do you think that goes too far? Well people have become addicted to the local church, and the local church has undergone a metamorphosis in order to supply people with what their flesh desires.

No longer do men of God stand and call people to follow Jesus. Now the church has its Sunday morning fix of some praise music, some announcements, some greetings, a little message, and back home until next week. And people go through the motions with little if any observable changes, to say nothing of a complete transformation. The numbers are there; the buildings are there; the organization is there; the staff is there; the music is there; but where oh where is the power of a life that follows Jesus? No, the church has become an American religious institution, and that my friends, is death.

We think we can steer the fallen ship safely into port by the sheer power of political weight and voter registration. The ship is not leaking…it has sunk. The sooner we come to that conclusion the sooner we can seek Christ and His power once again. Until then we will continue to address the carnal with the carnal and in so doing we diminish Christ. What if it were true? What if this modern church was anything but what the early church and His followers were like? What if God was speaking and no one was really listening? But what if you and I entertained that idea and sought the ministry and guidance of the Spirit?

Well, that would be a start. But there is much fallow ground to be unearthed, much repentance to be embraced, and much more of Jesus to discover and follow. If we truly, down deep in our very beings, desire to have Christ and nothing but Christ, then we must surrender fully to whatever the Spirit says and leads. This is no smorgasbord. This presents the truth that Jesus is Lord. And if you and I believe that much more than a quaint religious phrase, then let the funeral begin. We must die. Only then can we see the stone rolled away and ourselves resurrected in His image.

But this will be no ordinary funeral.
In fact, your funeral will be the only funeral at which you will dance.
You see, once you die the gallows no longer can hold you.
You are free…free in Him.

At the Name of Jesus


If the church spoke the name of "Jesus" as much as it speaks the name of "Obama" we might all be carried off to jail.
Ps.19: 14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

The Drone Principle


A man was told that there were two men inside one of the houses down the street who were planning to do him harm. He also was aware that inside some of the other houses were women and children who were not part of these two men. But the threatened man made a very large bomb, walked over to the row of houses where he thought the two men might be, and he threw the bomb in the midst of those houses. The two men that sought to do him harm were killed, but so was everyone in several adjacent homes which had women and children.

When someone asked the man how he could do such a thing and still follow Jesus the man replied that he did not pretend to follow Jesus. “How could I say I follow Jesus and do what I did”?

That man was correct. No person or nation could claim to follow Jesus and drop bombs in a neighborhood hoping to kill someone but realizing others would die as well.

Well,” you ask, “What are we supposed to do”?

If you are a follower of Jesus you are supposed to pray, share Jesus with your enemies and love them, and in the end…well…you might just have to die. The Jesus you say you follow did just that.


Have You Wept?


Jn.11:35 – Jesus wept.

So often we assess a person’s spiritual life through the prism of doctrine or church attendance. Do you read the Bible? Do you pray? And of course those things have a substantive place in the life of a believer. But are you broken before Him? I mean is your heart actually open and broken before Jesus? How can we know?

I ask you this question: Have you ever cried alone when you are praying or reading God’s Word?

I do not suggest that tears are the proof of one’s depth of discipleship, however I do contend that they should be a part. How can we go on with dry eyes when all around us is death? And how can we understand the immense sacrifice given for us and yet it never elicits tears of joy and worship?

I guess what I am saying is has your heart ever been so invaded by the love of God and the person of Jesus Christ that you lose control of your emotions, even if you are alone? Many of us have wept in a service when the Spirit is moving among His people and a collective voice of praise is going forth before the Throne of God. But when was the last time you were so moved just by being alone in His presence? Does your heart have some fallow ground? Has all the religious and political rhetoric hardened parts of your hear so you only see the cross doctrinally but it no longer impacts you spiritually and emotionally?

We live in a culture that desensitizes us from almost anything. And we seem to only be moved through theatrics or a carefully constructed atmosphere of visual effects and impacting music. And although there is nothing wrong with some of that, can we be moved by the sheer weight of what Jesus has done for us? Who can stand before Him emotionless? Who can bow before the cross with a distracted heart? Who can understand the power of His resurrection without being overwhelmed?

So go ahead and live in the arid landscape which presents a dry-eyed doctrinal creed as proof of its devotion to Christ. I have been there and have found it wanting. I prefer to live and breathe in blood stained pastures where the Great Shepherd is more than a written doctrine. And as He grants His sheep embraces of love in the spirit, those who know Him are once again reduced to humble and broken servants consumed in worship. Who can explain it? What words can convey what transpires in our hearts when we cannot hold back the emotion and the tears? Yes, we have heard about the cross, and yes, we have known this Jesus, but somehow, someway the Spirit rains upon us seasons of refreshing even when we meet Him once again.

So please do think us strange when we weep in His presence. Those times reveal the hidden ministry of the Spirit which reduces the strongest among us to tears. Before Him we are undone. Before Him we see who we once were and who He has made us now. Before Him our best deeds run for cover lest they suggest anything of us. Before Him we are transported beyond what our human eyes can see, and beyond what our human minds can understand.

There is nothing like bowing before Him and being transfigured from glory to glory. The tears you may see are tears of wonder and amazement and unspeakable gratefulness. Brokenness is a gift of grace which cleanses the soul and glorifies God. When was the last time you were utterly broken before Him? And that spiritual breaking allowed you to do some deep repentance about things you had been ignorant. In this fast paced, drive-thru culture we have rejected the sacred time with Him that is much more than a perfunctory devotional time. If we spent 1/100 of the time with Him that we do watching television, or listening to music, or taking with others we might be transfigured into an image that is startling to others.

When was the last time you wept in His presence? Do you ever weep over the plight of sinners? Over your children’s souls? Over the backsliding of the church? Over your own sin and complacency? It is past time we fell on our faces and wept before our Christ. Jesus wept over Jerusalem, but must we have dry eyes over the situation as it now stands upon the earth? Can we hold back the tears when we think about what He has done for us?

In this present evil world sometimes we cannot help but weep while we mouth the words, “Even so, come Lord Jesus…”.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Is Jesus Against Gun Control?


Could there by anything more revealing about the American evangelical church than the energy and intransigence shown about the right to own guns including assault rifles and large magazine clips? You would assume that followers of Jesus would be unquestionable proponents of a less violent society, and even, I know this is a stretch, have some compassion for many of the criminals whose upbringing had much to do with their violence. You might think that, wouldn’t you?

Oh but you would be wrong at least within the general populace of the western evangelical community. You see, we now believe in an eye for an eye. We now believe that Christ commands us to kill someone who assaults us or threatens our property or our life. You see, we now believe Jesus agrees with the Constitution even though His teachings seem to indicate otherwise. You see, we live in the real world and the teachings of Jesus are nice sayings but many of them are impractical given today’s circumstances. I mean, let’s get real here.

The opposition to even reasonable gun control which includes a demonization of President Obama and a misrepresentation of how wide the controls suggested are, is an incredible revelation of just how deep nationalism has penetrated into the mindset and heart of the church. It is both sad and disturbing. You might be able to understand the passion behind the pro-life movement, and even the traditional marriage movement, even though the gospel is our calling. But how can we understand the pro-gun movement within the church? How can we make sense of believers who say they follow Jesus and yet in the face of widespread violence, even violence against children, and yet they remain entrenched in the archaic premise of the 2nd Amendment?

If you add up all the gun murders, all the gun suicides, and all the gun violence, and compare it with all the incidents where guns prevented those crimes, you will find some startling statistics. But when someone prevents a crime because he is armed, many hold it up as proof of the worth of guns, while they ignore the sweeping violence across the land. Of course there is no guarantee that gun control will curb gun violence, but should believers be on the wrong side of this debate? Even if you somehow believed in the 2nd Amendment, shouldn’t you remain humble and quiet and just trust God rather than join with the mindless clamor?

But this is how far the church has strayed and walked into the carnal morass as just another clamoring voice that demands what it demands. How can that be Jesus? But in this modern expression of the faith what Jesus taught is recited to children while the adults use His name indiscriminately in almost all situations. And the byproduct of such an expression is that the lost world has come to see Christianity as a set of morals and a faith which overwhelmingly supports the American Dream. And now, guns of all things, are championed by believers. Even if you are a hunter or a recreational gun owner, shouldn’t you be concerned about the spread of gun violence? And if it means relinquishing some of your guns, is that too much of a burden or an abrogation of your rights?

But even if we believe any kind of gun control will not work, we as believers should remain silent while the kingdom of darkness accuses and excuses each other and in general fights tooth and nail to defend its so called “rights”. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ you have only one right: To serve at the Kings desire. All other rights are manmade attempts to accommodate his lusts. Even earthly freedom is misused in order to create an atmosphere where man can pursue his own happiness. And that is humanism which is antichrist.

Who would have thought that the Church of Jesus Christ would become so entrenched in nationalism that it would energetically defend its “right” to own a firearm? And in fact no one is now suggesting they do away with the 2nd Amendment, only that certain more volatile weapons be restricted. And yet believers cannot even humbly acquiesce to that? This is a sad day in a long line of sad days for the church. We have sold our spiritual birthright for a mess of Constitutional pottage.

I beseech you, dear believer, remove yourself from all these earthly and fallen debates. Even if you do own a firearm remain humbly prayerful and silent. These kinds of Constitutional altercations obscure the gospel when believers get involved, and they significantly and profoundly misrepresent Christ. Nationalism and politics do much harm to the cause of Christ when the church gives voice to that which is temporal.

Col.3: If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

What we must do is separate the attributes of a Jesus follower from the attributes of a citizen of America. To begin with we must be aware how different they are, and at times how opposed they are to each other. Any attempt to create an amalgam will always result in a spiritual compromise as well as a dilution of the nature of Christ.

It is generally considered a good quality if a person stands up for himself and is aggressive in his earthly pursuits. Defending yourself when you are in the right is not only expected, it is applauded. Speaking your mind is a wonderful attribute, and a competitive spirit is encouraged from the earliest age. Having a formidable self image is an asset, and demanding your rights is wholly American. And as an American you must be proud of your country and you are taught that it is the greatest country in the world. All in all these and other self expressions are considered attributes for a citizen of America.

But are those the fruits of the Spirit? Are those the attributes that Jesus taught? Jesus taught a life of humility, even a humility that reflects the cross. The New Testament teaches us to refrain our tongues from unwholesome speech and a critical spirit, as well as speech that demands our rights. Our speech is to be filled with grace and mercy, and we are to consider the plight of others more important than ours. We are to consider our earthly life as completely subservient to the life in the eternal. And when we are mistreated or persecuted, we are to take it humbly, patiently, and with a sense of joy since we have been counted worthy to suffer for His sake.

Now there are two portraits, two outlines, and two images. One captures what is considered a healthy and prosperous life here on earth, while the other draws a picture of what a life that follows Jesus should look like. Can they be any different? But yet believers so quickly shrug off the spiritual and put on the earthly. We demand rights and we fight fire with fire. We are offended when we are persecuted, and in fact we take some interpretations of the Constitution as spiritual persecutions. We have created man made labels and now we see people as liberals and conservatives. No longer do we see people as lost and in desperate need of redemption because the earthly issues have clouded out the eternal vision.

And so now we have professing believers, members of evangelical fellowships, clamoring forcefully for their rights to carry guns, and even assault weapons and large ammo clips. Can there be anything more profoundly against the teachings and nature of Christ? And even if you are a hunter or a recreational shooter, how can you make this debate your own? We are living sacrifices and if it comes to turning in our guns so be it. Let the world see that this means nothing to us; ours cause is Him.

No guns? But still Christ! Higher taxes? But still Christ! Gay marriage? But still Christ! Illegal immigrants? But still Christ! Taken to jail? But still Christ! Led to the gallows? But still Christ!

Brothers and sisters who believe in and follow Jesus, do not fret! Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever! Let the kingdom of darkness have their disputes. Let them argue among themselves. Let them demand rights or take away rights. What concern is that to we who are dead to this world?

Step back and lift up your eyes. We see Jesus! Let the Spirit lift your mind and heart up from this present world and open your eyes to the world to come. Rejoice! Our fate is settled in heaven, and no man can take away our rights in Christ. We have been grafted into God’s eternal family, and the freedom we have in Christ Jesus cannot even be compared with any earthly freedom.

Rom.8: 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Look for the glory which is from above, and patiently endure all things for His sake.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Blatant Immorality in the Church


I Tim.6: 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

The western evangelical church has conveniently outlined moral absolutes in sexual terms and avoided outlining them in terms of money. It has been a clever diversion to emphatically point to the cultural deviations from Biblical standards of morality in the sexual realm while engaging and enjoying the deviations from Biblical standards in the realm of money. It continues to be most self serving to allow yourself the widest breach of Biblical truths while exacting justice for those miscreants who breach the Biblical truths that you do not breach. In common parlance that is called hypocrisy.

But Jesus and the New Testament as a whole has much to say about wealth, money, and the allurement of material things. Sometimes we treat sexual commands as absolutes while we treat commands concerning money as suggestions or guidelines. Of course there is a convenient reason for such a double minded view of Scripture. When Scripture deals with sins that we ourselves are not committing then we stand firmly upon their literal meanings including energetically applying them to those who are observably committing those sins. But when Scripture ventures into our own lives and practices we often treat them gingerly and with kid gloves and rarely do we take them literally or with the same energy as we did the others.

And so it is with money. We in America live in a culture consumed and driven by money. The system is designed to accommodate the rich while the poor sometimes get some help that is just enough to soothe consciences. But even the poor are enslaved by the love of money. The love of money runs over America like lava from a volcano and the populace swim eagerly in it with hopes of increasing in their wealth. And the church by and large swim right along with them.

In fact, a large portion of the church believes and teaches that it is God’s will to prosper His people through their tithes and offerings. And that teaching is not just within the so called “prosperity” crowd, it is also taught among your run of the mill evangelicals. Subtly, cleverly, and with an ingenious cut and paste approach to Scripture, the western church has made room for whetting their beaks in the cesspool of greed and avarice while still claiming to “believe the Bible”. When evangelicals suggest that God has blessed America they mean primarily in the realm of wealth. Even preachers use the term “American exceptionalism” to indicate a level of superiority somehow given by God and always tethered to money.

The “love of money” is not an emotion, it is a practice that emanates from a lustful heart. And what kind of practices exhibit a love of money? There are many, but here are a few:

When we borrow money to fulfill our lusts.

When we save up sums of money for our own use.

When we are allured by advertisements.

When we seek financial gain.

When we believe all financial gains come from God.

When we believe all financial setbacks do not come from God.

When we worry about money.

When we do not live in moderation.

Money is a colossal stumbling block to believers in the west, but because we blend in so nicely we are blind to our compromise. And because we define morality almost exclusively in sexual terms we remain ambivalent and ignorant to the many ways in which we grieve the Spirit as it pertains to greed, avarice, and all things related to money. Sin is most profound and damaging when it is not only unrecognized as sin, but when it is embraced and practiced as a benign part of a believer’s life. And even more spiritually crippling is when sin is defined as the blessings of God. When that has gained entrance into the church then all spiritual power has been lost.

Money, when loved and used selfishly, represents humanism. It openly implies that we not only devalue the eternal, but even more grievous we do not actually believe in the eternal regardless of our doctrinal lip service. If you read the New Testament through in several sittings, and if you write down the verses that pertain to sins about money, you will find an amazing collection that compare in volume and in magnitude to the verses dealing with sexual immorality. The first great sin in the early church resulted in two deaths. It was lying to the Holy Spirit about money.

We have rewritten God’s Word in order to accommodate our western lifestyles. All of us. And because we view money through western and capitalist prisms we feel no conviction about borrowing great sums of money when we feel we need to move up materially. In fact, churches borrow millions of dollars from the fallen banking system because they can no longer bear packed auditoriums which Chinese believers could only dream about. So what are we to say about our brand of Christianity? We must admit it has bowed to the surrounding culture.

So the next time your hear a preacher speak out forcefully about homosexuality (he dare not say much about divorce) see if he addresses the sin of greed and avarice or the love of money. You will see that the church has used sexual sins to provide a diversion to her many sins concerning money. Of course if the preacher dares step into that realm he runs the risk of compromising his own “salary package”. But as long as the evangelical community lives well within the accepted parameters set by the culture we will continue to practice a redundant expression of the religion called Christianity without the power promised and displayed in the Book of Acts as well as in many revivals throughout church history.

But we can always continue to castigate the gay community or the pro-choice crowd. Or we can support and participate in a fallen political system which wastes obscene amounts of money just to change faces every four years. Either way, we can employ windows and not mirrors.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

We Won't Get Fooled Again


During the 1950’s the average family began to see some prosperity and had an accepted set of morals and even went to a church. The “Leave it to Beaver” concept was alluring. And when some of us came to faith in Christ we were introduced to a system of do’s and don’ts. We were presented with some parameters within which all who believed in Jesus must fit. Most of us bought into it. Of course there were those rare rebels like Keith Green.

But as we walked with Christ through the years we began to see things about which we could not understand. I mean the church was openly capitalistic and enjoyed most of the trappings of the hedonistic culture. It just did not make sense. But even while many in the congregation walked in compromise, they seemed to have a list of things which must be considered taboo in order to be “right with God”. The usual list consisted of rock music, long hair, loose clothes, beards, modern Bible versions, and anything that could be construed as “hippie”. And with that we all fell in lockstep.

Now it wasn’t enough just to have or even agree with that list. You must judge and criticize anyone who violated any of its tenants or even those who fellowshipped with those who did. And this was no game; this was serious. The preacher had several choice rants that would pepper his sermons concerning compromisers. Of course we never heard about the evils of violence and war, or the evils of greed and capitalism, or the evils of condemning sinners. Those things were accepted norms within our brand of evangelicalism or fundamentalism.

But we had been fooled! This was not Christianity at all, but a mangled brand of legalism and Americanism. It was a revelry of rules and regulations, all of which detracted from the Redeemer Himself. And it was a breeding ground for self righteousness and a national fervor hidden in a matrix of certain moral standards. This cookie cutter religion imprisoned us in a doctrinal case of ice and even mocked any attempt to pursue a deeper life with Christ. The Bible was twisted, and to say evangelism was shallow would be kind. But we were part of the right spiritual clique.

But as I said, somewhere along the line something did not seem to add up. And when we opened our hearts and compared what we thought and said with what Jesus thought and said there was a startling disconnect. We discovered that the American church has slowly but surely created a brand of Christianity that seemed most unlike Jesus. How could this have happened? And when you venture into any kind of sincere questioning you were looked at with suspicion. It was a difficult time for many of us.

But when the Spirit sets you free you experience a comfort that can only come through His ministry. Even though you have no idea where this might lead, there is one thing you know for sure. You can never go back. Religion has the odor of decay. And adhering to a set of rules grows very stale very quickly. Although it tends to self righteousness, it imprisons people. And many of us became entrenched in such a system because we erroneously thought we were impressing God. We were not.

Of course there are things we should not do as well as things we should do. That is clear in Scripture. But separation from the world should not be our spiritual badge. What should be the hallmark of our faith is the strength and spirit in which we live the Lord Jesus. Sinners that walk in darkness should see in us a light that draws them to Christ. Our lips and our lives must be speaking and showing forth the Word of Life. And most projected is our love that always associates itself with Christ Jesus. In a world of greed and hate and self our lives should be the observable antithesis of all that.

But somewhere along the line man has taken the sacred freedom in Christ and turned it into denominations and cliques and rules and regulations. And in so doing the church has cast out the ministry of the Holy Spirit in favor of the assembly line construct. And when you become a part of legalism you immediately become self righteous. That alone should reveal how unchristlike it is. Moses brought rules; Christ brought life.

There was a day some of us were fooled, but we will not be fooled again.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Never Stop Praying

My oldest son, Jonathan, was raised in a Christian home. I was his pastor for most of his life, however when he was in his late teens he rebelled against God. For several years it appeared as if his life would be lost. I must admit I waivered between strong faith and despair. However through a set of circumsatnces I was able to spend time with him. God began to draw him back, and he rededicated his life to Christ. My youngest son never rebbelled to that extent.
Jon now teaches history at Riverview High School in Riverview, Florida. He also was hired as the varsity girl’s basketball coach and he brought on my youngest son, David, to be his assistant and to coach the girl’s junior varsity squad. Because he was new, the three best players transferred to other local high schools. They were ranked among the last in the division before the season began.
The regular season ended this past Wednesday and Riverview finished first in the division and received the only bye for the post season. Both of my sons not only worked tirelessly with the girls, but they served as bus service constantly since many of the girls have working mothers. Jon has tutored some of the girls in their studies as well. But the thing of which I am most proud is that these girls got to hear about Jesus as well as see what a life that follows Jesus should look like.
I want to encourage all you who have children or grandchildren. Things in the natural may seem bleak, but keep praying because the Spirit's ministry is never bound. You have no idea how far my son went into the world, and what Christ did for him He can do for your loved ones. Keep looking up!! Pray without ceasing!

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Only in America can you be Pro-Death Penalty, Pro-War, Pro-Unmanned Drone Bombs, Pro-Nuclear Weapons, Pro-Guns, Pro-Torture, Pro-Land Mines, and still call yourself “Pro-Life”.

** John Fugelsang **

And I would add, "Pro-Jesus"?

Receiving a Vision

If we could ever get a vision of Jesus we then could get a vision of ourselves which would alter our vision of others.
Rick Frueh
circa A.D. 2013

Bible Study

Bible study is more substantive on legs than in classrooms.
Rick Frueh
circa A.D. 2013

Loving Jesus


How much you love Jesus can be measured by how much you love your enemies.

Rick Frueh circa A.D. 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Jesus the Hater

Col.4: 5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Matt.22: 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Once again the pulpits of America have provided a sturdy structure for hate. And preachers by the thousands walked away from the true Jesus and embraced a Jesus who hates. Oh this Jesus who hates is orthodox and His systematic theology is impeccable. He has built great modern buildings and He provides wonderful worship music. He has a Biblical morality and he specializes in demonstrating His pro-life and anti-gay credentials. All in all He believes the Bible from cover to cover. In fact, this Jesus who hates believes the Bible is inerrant. Although this Jesus never attended any seminary, most orthodox seminaries have bestowed an honorary doctorate upon Him. The Jesus who hates is uber-orthodox!

A few of the more well known preachers took to the air waves of God’s love and tweeted these messages about President Obama.

"Praying for our president, who today will place his hands on a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know,” tweeted Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle.

“"President Obama 'spiritually blind' or 'evil hypocrite' in claiming MLK and disregarding the weakest,” tweeted John Piper of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis.

Let us never let an opportunity go by that can be used to spew the hatred and disdain we know Jesus loves and appreciates. And we all know that no one can be saved and be pro-choice. That is clear from Scripture. For whosever believeth in Him and is pro-life will not perish…. There it is, clear and convincing evidence that faith in Jesus is not enough. For by grace are ye saved through faith in traditional marriage. Again, convincing evidence that faith is not enough.

But let us assume that God has spoken to us verbally and let us know that Barak Obama is not born again. Ok, armed with that dirty little secret we can now proceed with reckless abandon and eviscerate him and his motives and publicly strip him of any pretences he might try to exhibit. You see, Mitt Romney can deny that Jesus was part of the Triune God and still receive our respectful language and even our public support, but Barak Obama must be verbally chastised. We must not allow him to escape without the open wrath of the Jesus who hates.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have reached a new low in our representation of Jesus. Due to the idol of nationalism and a love for this nation, millions have turned their backs on the true Jesus and have constructed a Jesus who hates. Oh they would insist that this is the Jesus who stands for righteousness, and with that they would suggest that unkind and hateful rhetoric directed at a specific sinner called by name is what Jesus would do. Yes, when Jesus died for that same sinner named Barak Obama He would later direct His followers to “get him!” And with no more effort than pushing a few buttons preachers sent out a message to the world which was loud and clear. Jesus is not fooled by lost sinners. He hates them and will display His anger with words that demean and castigate.

Now I do not profess to know for sure the President’s spiritual standing, but even if I thought he might not be saved regardless of what he claims, I have a different interpretation of the words that come from Jesus. I happen to believe that Jesus loves sinners. I happen to believe that Jesus is not fooled by my sin either. I happen to believe that the gospel is presented in grace. I happen to believe that my words should be gentle and filled with the love of God. I happen to believe that given the chance the Spirit would direct me to eat with President Obama and share Jesus with Him from a genuine heart of concern. Yes, I happen to believe in a different Jesus than the one that seems to roam around the evangelical neighborhood these days. I happen to believe that the same Jesus who gave His life for sinners knows their sin and desires them all to come to a saving knowledge of Him.

What have we done to the church named after Jesus? What kind of Jesus are we perpetrating on the kingdom of darkness? How can we hate our fellow man and profess we know God? Of course we know abortion is murder. Of course we know all about how God feels about traditional marriage. Yes, we know all that only because God’s grace has made us new creations and by God’s Spirit He has graciously led us into truth. So if we stand by grace, and if we only know by grace, how can we use that grace as artillery to wound and publicly humiliate those who supposedly we desire to see saved? To speak words meant to demean and flog and spiritually emasculate someone is openly at odds with the spirit of redemption, to say nothing of the command to pray for our leaders.

But such is the carnal motivation of most of the western evangelical church. It is now a contest between conservatives and liberal; between socialists and capitalists; between gay and straight. Forget about the great Commission and a place once called Golgotha, now is the time to leverage voting blocks. You cannot serve two masters. There is a vicious disconnect here that must be exposed. And once exposed it will present a choice between what we want and what He said. You cannot serve politics and Christ. You cannot love America and love Christ. Oh yes. That is the valley of decision which openly exposes the great compromise and idolatry running rampant throughout evangelicalism. You see, Rob Bell and Brian McLaren and Joel Osteen are not the only heretics among us. Men like Driscoll and Piper are spreading the destructive heresy of nationalism which may be more subtle than the usual doctrinal suspects but which still is a damnable heresy.

This issue of nationalism is diabolical and continues to deconstruct the faith once delivered to the saints. Perhaps the most powerful element of this deception is that is accepted and even embraced within churches which consider themselves “orthodox”. And because of this evil the love of God has become a joke; the ministry of reconciliation is a fraud; the grace of our Lord Jesus is ignored; and the gospel is now a banner of moral superiority. We were shocked when the children of Israel made a golden calf and worshiped it. I mean who could be so ignorant and idolatrous? But we have far outdistanced them.

We who have the Word of God, and we who have the Spirit, and we who know about Calvary, we have hardened our hearts, stiffened our necks, and bowed before an idol and pledged our allegiance to it. And the repercussions of such spiritual treachery become more and more clear with each opportunity to manifest that idolatry. It is far worse than we can imagine. In fact, such displays of the heart openly reveal another faith and another Jesus. Of what good is it to erect written statements of faith that commit to the deity of Christ and His redemptive sacrifice, but live and speak and think and display a completely different Jesus than is revealed in His own narrative? It makes our statements of faith just another self serving idol.

Paul endured all things for the gospel’s sake. We are commanded to love our enemies and to respond to evil with good. This moral crusade is an antichrist spirit and it emanates from a love for an earthly nation that many suggest is compatible with a love for Christ but which is in reality a denial of Him. They fashioned gold into a calf while we fashion a nation into Christ. The word "humility" should be wiped out of all ecclesiastical dictionaries and be rejected as truth. If we do not believe it let us be honest enough to quit pretending.

And if we are not going to strive to emulate the life and teachings of Jesus let us quit this mockery and flood the bars and whore houses. I have more respect for men who openly frequent the company of prostitutes than I do for men who claim to follow Jesus and spew words of self righteous hatred. Barney Frank openly states his sin, while preachers sin openly and say it comes from Jesus. This kind of witch hunt will only get worse as Jesus tarries.

The gospel is now built upon two main themes: abortion and homosexuality. Throw in a little capitalism and democracy and you have it all. But in this climate of moral hubris and “pin the tail on the sinner” one thing is for sure. If people do not call you a compromiser and a condoner of sin, then you are not showing enough of the love of God to sinners. Men and women left family and homes and some even gave their lives for the gospel's sake and to see sinners presented with Christ. But sinners today should not expect the same treatment.

I refuse to castigate President Obama or Barney Frank or the abortion doctor down the street. But I cannot claim any spirituality unless I am willing to give my life for them. My Redeemer and Master did, and I claim to follow in His footsteps. To be honest, I am not there yet, and in that I am undone. But one thing I do know, that if God is love and if Jesus is God, then the Jesus that hates sinners is a fraud.