Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Today's Evangelical Children


Never discuss or understand what true revival is.

Never see people weeping uncontrollably in a church service.

Never experience the presence of God in an unusual way.

Never see their parents on their face in prayer.

Never know what appropriate dress is.

Never experience an elongated church service directed by the Spirit.

Never watch as their pastor preaches on the street.

Never be part of a week long fast.

Never see the church hold an all night prayer meeting.

Never see the pastor weep behind the pulpit.

Never be part of a foot washing service.

Never be challenged over and over for a full time ministry calling.

Never see premarital purity as the norm.

Never be surprised by divorce.

Never see adultery as abnormal.

Never see the pastor refuse a raise.

Never see debt as unbiblical.

Never live without a television.

Never see worldly music as a spiritual hindrance.

Never believe that alcohol should be avoided.

Never not hear some coarse language from believers.

Never believe prayer is more potent than votes.

Never watch their parents witness to a stranger.

Never see people as excited in worship as they are about sports.

Never be a part of a family altar.

And while growing up in that kind of a spiritual climate, they will still insist they know what Christianity is. But sadly, they don’t.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Magnifying the Sins of Others

Jn.8: 10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

This passage is one of hope, compassion, and redemption. But the evangelical Pharisees have often accentuated the word “Go and sin no more” instead of the obvious overall theme. In fact many evangelicals mirror the attitude of the scribes and Pharisees much more than they do the spirit of Jesus. Of course Jesus told the woman to go and sin no more, just like He has told us many, many times. And I now publicly ask all of us: Did we obey Him to the letter? Who among us can say with accuracy and truth that after we met Jesus we have never sinned since?

You see, in their haste to hold people to their own standard they minimize the compassion and redemption of Jesus. In fact it wouldn’t surprise us if those scribes and Pharisees who left stood nearby waiting to follow that woman so as to pounce upon her the moment she stumbled. Some of the most popular “Christian” blogs are a continuing exposé about the sins of others. And they invite a literal feeding frenzy from the self righteous, evangelical piranha who consistently feast at the bottom of the lake.

Oh how we love to share the misery of others. And when someone stumbles the some people treat it like a salve which ministers to the flesh and creates the falsehood that we ourselves would never do such a thing and we offer our disgust and outrage as evidence of our righteousness. But the issue is not are the sins of others as well as ours worthy of divine correction. No, the issue is who is qualified to spread the news like we are reporters for the National Enquirer? And it is one thing to do a documentary of someone’s sin, but it is another to confront false teachers and error. Do not confuse the two.

Let us ask ourselves this question: If that woman went away with a knowledge of who Jesus was, and if she set out to walk a different path, would Jesus reject her is she stumbled once again? If that be the case then heaven will be empty. Only God knows those that are His. But God knows something else as well. He knows all of His true children sometimes stumble. Sometimes it is a small sin, but sometimes it is a sin which brings reproach upon the faith. I have attempted in eight years on the internet to avoid rummaging through people’s personal failures. Let God deal with them.

But if you wish to follow that woman around there are many blogs which will gladly help you on that journey. But if we desire to follow the One who forgave her, then I suggest we pray for that woman and ourselves as we seek Christ through our occasional stumbles. And every time you stumble and ask Jesus to forgive you He will. And if you listen carefully you will hear Him say every time, “Go and sin no more”. I wish I could say I obeyed that command perfectly throughout my Christian journey, but I cannot.

A Different Jesus

Mk.2: And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.
And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.
And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.
And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.
But there was certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,
Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?
And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?
Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?
10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)
11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.

Most western evangelicals seek God’s hand rather than His face. They desire material blessings rather than the forgiveness of sins. Repentance is an ecclesiastical relic but prosperity gets top billing today. In this narrative it would seem plausible that these Jews would strongly resist the notion that a man could forgive sins. They were blind to who Jesus was. It was to be expected and Jesus once again performed a miracle to reveal His divinity.

But what could be the excuse for evangelicals who own several Bibles and carry them to the gatherings? For many years as a pastor I towed the right wing line. I knew theology and doctrine and Greek. And yet I could only admit to myself inside that something just did not seem right. It wasn’t until I revisited the teachings of Jesus and read them literally and without peer pressure that I began to have my eyes and heart opened. And little by little I began to experience a dramatic epiphany which made what I used to believe seem more and more off center and actually blatantly wrong. And my awakening was so dramatic and was so at odds with what “orthodoxy” had told me that it was well over a year before I would share what had happened in my heart.

The Spirit did not change my views on the deity of Christ or the gospel of Christ or any of the foundational truths that are obvious in Scripture. But the Spirit did change my previously held views on important issues such as nationalism, the treatment of sinners, the singling out of gay sinners, politics, and how clandestine self righteousness can be as it burrows its way into your heart and hides as “moral convictions”. And all those things when embraced can not only cloud your spiritual vision, but they can eventually formulate a different faith as well as change the gospel by their influence on its perception.

And this is part of the lesson we can learn from this portion of Scripture. This is a very cloaked phenomenon here. When you have been raised in a certain culture and you have been taught certain things that are not even open for discussion then you embrace them by default. And these things become a conduit for your perspective about most things Biblical. So if Jesus teaches something that seems extreme and may have implications that would bring into question “settled law” among your community of faith, you quickly dismiss any interpretation that would be a danger to what you know you believe.

And the human nature has a built in defense mechanism which can provide safe interpretations that are more compliant with your preconceptions and thereby relieve any tension. Most evangelical church members are not deep students of the Bible, and fewer still are those who seek Christ through much prayer and fasting. And therefore most embrace what they are told and have come up with their own defense of their position regardless of any Scriptural evidence to the contrary. And if their favorite preacher holds to a position it has become theirs as well. This is commonplace within the evangelical community. If Charles Stanley or Adrian Rodgers or some other famous preacher holds to a position it becomes settled law in the hearts and minds of those whom hold them in high esteem. It is a part of human idolatry.

So when Jesus forgave the man his sins, and if a Scribe had said, “maybe there is something to this man”, then perhaps some of the people might have given pause. But since they questioned and mocked Him, then most of the people followed in suit. It is human nature at its finest. How many evangelical church members would be willing to question almost anything about what they believe? And how many overly busy western church members would take significant time in prayer, fasting, and a vulnerable study of the teachings of Jesus? And believe me when I tell you that is what it takes to break through all the tradition and entrenched error.

And we live in a consumer culture which wants and wants and wants some more. It is never satisfied and each year there has to be newer cars and newer toys and newer gadgets and newer clothes and yet who even achieves complete contentment? And little by little that same spirit has seeped into the church until church members desire the same things as the unbeliever. Addictions and divorce and materialism and hatred and nationalism are no not only part of the church member philosophy, but they are part of the church’s practice and dogma.

And the perception of Jesus is that He sees things as do Americans. In fact most evangelicals perceive Him as championing America and its causes around the world. And they dress Him up in capitalist garments as a pro-life and a pro-traditional marriage Savior who rides the landscape slaying all the political and moral dragons and if He has time He might share the gospel with much less vigor than He does His other agendas. And when you have reached that kind of perspective then you may have left the faith. And many who read this might say about me with the Scribes in the above narrative, “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies?” But I can never retaliate against you for I once stood among you. And I can only share what I have seen and heard and what I pray for you as well. Seek the true Jesus, find Him, and follow Him with all your heart.

Seeking the Bread of God

Acts 2: 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

And a long lost portion of Scripture in this chapter was recently found. It reads:

48 And the believers went to Rome to borrow money for a wonderful building. And when it opened they invited the unbelieving Centurion to cut the ribbon.
49 The people elected a pastor and paid him handsomely. And after they had selected a handful of men and women for a praise team they handed out parchments around Jerusalem which invited people to come experience their wonderful worship experience.
50 The elders asked the people what they wanted in a gathering and then they gave it to them. The pastor become known for his rants against the Roman Emperor. After a while the believers realized the unbelievers who came were uninterested in prayer and so they replaced prayer with announcements and greeting time. But to their credit there were a few perfunctory prayers which were short and sounded amazingly like last week’s prayer. Everyone was happy indeed.
51 In a few short years the gatherings registered with Rome and nestled into the culture with no real difference to say nothing of any influence. In fact Rome invited their pastor to give the invocation for the next Caesar. The church became a political force with which to be reckoned.

Of course these verses are my own, but I hope we can see just how far the western church has strayed from the Biblical model. This is sad and tragic and I believe also has necessitates the Spirit’s withdrawal since there seems no appetite for repentance. And now the church no longer hungers for the Bread of God sent down from heaven. It seeks chills and thrills and entertainment and organization and politics and everything the world desires as well. Let me offer this:

Jn.6: 32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.
34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.
35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

This is one of many portions of Scripture which reveal with clarity that Jesus confessed openly that He was God and was sent from Heaven. Of this there can be no argument. And that is why we must reject and confront all cults which teach otherwise. And be advised, this is no game of semantics. He who denies that Jesus was God in the flesh and was eternal is an antichrist. When it comes to this we are not to be timid or merciful. We are to stand for Christ and rebuke those who teach otherwise.

But the Roman Church has taken these wonderful and sacred truths and turned them into a self serving ceremony. This teaching from the lips of our Lord brings forth the life giving essence of Himself. He alone gives life and life eternal. But make no mistake He also gives life upon this earth. We who have been changed by His power know that we just do not just await heaven to experience his power and presence. No, we are continually being changed into His image and just knowing Him makes life in the here and now an experience of unspeakable value.

In the Jewish everyday life bread was the common sustenance which sustains life. But when Jesus called Himself the Bread of Life many who had followed Him with some interest turned away. And here is where the evil one has adopted a more effective and sophisticated method of deception. Instead of people walking away from Jesus they can retreat to a tepid and soothing presentation of Jesus that accommodates the flesh and endorses a lifestyle which cannot be reconciled with the teachings of Jesus. This phenomenon is sweeping the western version of what is called the “church”.

But actually the word “church” is translated “the called out ones” in the Greek. But we have taken the word Church and stripped it of it power and made it refer to a building or a place or a denomination. But if you are a part of God’s church you have been called out from among the world and you have been called to follow Him who makes all things new. It is no building. It is no denomination. It is no set of doctrines. The true church is the assembly of born again believers who have responded to the Spirit’s call and through the Spirit’s power of regeneration have been made new creatures who follow Jesus.

The Hebrew language employs many literary devices in order to drive home truths. Jesus told about plucking out your eye or cutting off your leg. But that is hyperbole used to make a serious point. And when Jesus speaks about eating His flesh and drinking His blood He is making a profound spiritual truth by the use of horrific and even offensive word pictures. In the end, the western church has rejected the Roman Church’s interpretation but they have created their own dull and impassive interpretation. One of the lessons to be learned here is that it is not enough to reject certain heresies if we create our own benign, inoffensive, and painless manifestations of the Word’s and teachings of Jesus.

The reality is that if the western church was actually confronted with the words of Jesus without cultural and manmade dilutions it would be offended just as were the people in John chapter six. The very fact that millions of church members can go back and forth every Sunday and not feel a tinge of conviction about the life they are living in direct disobedience to the teachings of Jesus openly reveals the self serving and powerless essence of that religious practice.

But here is a pertinent and penetrating question which should follow the verses in John chapter six. What does it mean to eat the Bread come down from heaven? How many church members have even considered such a question?

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

From the religious right weather channel:
“There is a hurricane forming in the Caribbean caused by low pressure, warm waters, and God’s hatred for gay people.”

Friday, December 05, 2014

Fake Christianity

What would you say if you walked into a baseball park and you saw twelve men on the field? As you watched you saw they were playing with three baseballs at one time and the batter was allowed to steal first base. Everyone was only allowed one strike and if he fouled off a ball he was automatically out. Each inning had only one out unless it was the home team which was allowed five outs. There was only two innings. But when you take out the official baseball rule book the players adamantly profess that they believe it. You are bewildered.

I believe we would say they were not playing baseball even though they say they believe the established rules. They were playing some other game which although was played upon a similar field had no resemblance to the Abner Doubleday creation.

And so we are faced with this new and modern version of Christianity which has left the teachings of Jesus and now operates with a whole new set of teachings.

The following video was taken at an April 2014 meeting of the National Rifle Association.



Sarah Palin is a professing believer and an evangelical church member. And yet she can stand and be smug and humorous about torturing terrorists and using baptism as a joke as well. What kind of Martian world are we now living in? So when you can receive applause because you champion violence and torture and you smirk as you do it, how in God’s name can that be Christian? It isn’t. Palin and millions like her are observing a completely different religion even though they use some of the same terminology and claim they believe the same book.

But Palin is a public example of what millions and millions of evangelical church members believe and practice. And if we were privy to all the private and kitchen table discussions I believe we would be shocked at how unchristian they can be. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. What is being touted as Christianity across America is not the faith at all. Jesus is being used and abused and shoehorned into all sorts of verbiage and beliefs and practices that are no more of Christ than a Buddhist Temple.

This cannot be fixed. It has strayed too far and its roots are so deeply entwined around the culture, the economy, and the country that there is no remedy. Can you fix Islam? Hinduism? We, as individual believers, must repent and move away from this shell of religion and set our faces to learn Jesus once again and follow Him. But beware. Some of the things that are still in our hearts that we do not even suspect will be identified by God’s Spirit. The right wing rules we thought were what God wanted will be challenged and friends and family might accuse you of turning into a liberal. But resist being an earthly or political label. We are followers of the Lord Jesus. Let the world attach to us the monikers they feel makes them comfortable.

But I will let you in on a secret. When, by Gods grace and not your own intellect, the Spirit of God sets you free to pursue Christ without the constraints and errors of the modern church, you will be shocked at what you used to believe. It will become so clear to you that you will own yourself a fool in previous days. And yet there will be much more ground to cover. In fact, it will seem as though you are taking a journey in a land you never knew. And you are.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Victory at Golgotha

Victory at Golgotha

Jn.19:16-18 - Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led Him away. And He bearing His cross went forth into a pace called the place of the skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha. Where they crucified Him, and two other with Him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.
I Sam.17:54 - And David took the head of the Philistine, and brought it to Jerusalem.

God. Jehovah. Jesus. All the attributes of God are interconnected and are inseparable and exist as one. But if there is one central revelation of the nature and fullness of Almighty God that more wholly unveils who God is to man it is the cross. If you could take all sixty-six books of the Holy Scriptures and follow each verse and each sentence like a divine path to its source and intended destination they would all gather at the cross. It is this magnificent act of sacrifice, death, and victory that defies human understanding and without the personal apocalypse of the Holy Spirit it is foolishness. Justice and injustice; death and life; angels and demons; beautiful and grotesque; eternally planned but captured in 360 minutes; lamb and lion; goat and ram; common and royal; Roman and Hebrew; and God and man.

And the Savior Himself told us that the Old Testament Scriptures that the Jews studied, recited, and even wore as jewelry spoke of Him. If you took a verse from Chronicles that only listed three men in a genealogy and as such seemed insignificant and unrevealing, and if you distilled it down by the power and guidance of God’s Spirit using the context in history, and the lives of the men listed, and other interconnections of the Spirit you would still find the cross. And with that understanding, the following story of David and Goliath is an historical and Scriptural alabaster box that when broken fills the heart of the spiritually minded believer with another glorious glimpse of the cross.

Even the little four year old vacation Bible school child has heard the story of how David defeated Goliath with just one God empowered stone to the center of Goliath’s forehead. It is a true story of God’s great and miraculous power over evil that can be revealed through any surrendered vessel and with the weapons of God’s own choosing. God sends His prophet Samuel into the house of Jesse and He instructs Samuel to anoint the future king inside this humble house. Now Jesse brought seven of his sons before Samuel being sure that the king would come from one of these. But Samuel did not have the witness of the Spirit about any of those seven and after inquiring about any other sons Jesse sends for his youngest, David. And David comes into the house stinking of sheep and in a blur he feels oils running down his face and hears Samuel talk of the King of Israel. The Word tells us at that very day the Spirit came upon David.

Not too many days later the Philistines were locked in battle against the children of Israel and they sent out a giant named Goliath to challenge anyone from the Israeli camp to fight him and decide the war. All the Jews were afraid and they did not know what to do so they did nothing. As it happened in God’s providence Jesse sent David with some food for his brothers and when he arrived at the camp he heard Goliath defying the army of the children of God. So David, anointed by God’s Spirit, asks, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the Living God?”.

They eventually let David face Goliath and with one providential stone Goliath is hit in the head, falls to the ground, and dies. So David runs to the corpse of Goliath, picks up Goliath's own sword, and severs his head off of his body, and upon seeing this the Philistines fled and the victory was won. Why did David cut off Goliath’s head? Well it represented a visual display of total victory and was proof that the enemy was completely defeated. But now follow as we go further through this historical account that will lead us to, yes, the cross.

Many times after a battle in Old Testament times the victorious army would behead the vanquished army or its ruler using that bloody act to symbolize how great their victory had been. In those days it was also a common practice for armies to display their victory by placing the heads of the slain rulers or military leaders upon stakes so other would be adversaries would take notice and fear. In Judges chapter seven and II Kings chapter ten and elsewhere are examples of the heads of the defeated being used for emblems of victory.

But I draw your attention to I Samuel 17:54 - And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem; and he put his armor in his tent.
There are at least two things that are peculiar to this verse. Why did David take the head of Goliath to Jerusalem? And also it should be noted that the city of Jerusalem did not as yet exist. It would be founded by David at a later date but it seems that the Holy Spirit was proclaiming it prophetically as "Jerusalem" for a reason. The practice of placing the heads of defeated enemies upon wooden stakes also served to warn travelers of the power that was in the city because many times the heads were staked high outside the city. Of course after many days the weather and the birds would strip the heads of all their flesh and eventually all that was left was a skull attached to the top of a wooden stake.

So when David took the bloody head to the future city of Jerusalem he would have placed it high on a stake to warn others of God’s power and to proclaim this great victory over the Philistines and that this city belonged to the Most High God. Several years later David would take over the city from the Jebusites and name it Jerusalem, the city of peace.

Rom.16:20 - And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet.
Fast forward approximately one thousand years and journey to a place just outside Jerusalem. Look, there is the place of a skull, Golgotha. Close to four thousand years earlier God had prophesied this day by telling Eve that her seed, the Lord Jesus, would bruise the head of the serpent. (Gen.3:15) Oh yes, there was something significant and symbolic about the head of Goliath.

More than any other identification in the New Testament Jesus is referred to as the son of David. In Matt.1:1 it is the first description in the New Testament of the Lord Jesus as “the son of David”. And in the very last chapter of Revelation Jesus refers to Himself as “the offspring of David”. So from the beginning of the New Testament all the way through to the end Jesus is named the son of David. The greatest Patriarch, the greatest king of Israel, the greatest warrior, and the most compassionate and intimate servant of Jehovah was David. And of course he was just a shadow of the coming Son of the Living God. But Jesus, at the place of a skull, annihilated the enemy and won the victory over sin, death, and Satan himself. This was the prophetic fulfillment of the victory David had won over Goliath when he had placed his severed head at Jerusalem as a sign that loudly spoke of a coming victory at Golgotha.

Through all those centuries the skull itself was now gone but because the event was so significant people had referred to this place as the place of a skull. It was at this very place that King Jesus, still wearing human appearance, slew the giant and forever severed his head and held it up openly throughout the world and for all eternity. And just as the skull was placed upon a wooden stake to display the victory, the Lord Jesus, Moses’ serpent, was placed high upon a wooden beam just outside of the city of Jerusalem to warn and woo the whole world to the everlasting victory.

And everyone who looks and believes in true faith that this sacrifice is the complete and only way into the Celestial City of Peace, the heavenly Jerusalem, will be allowed into the Great City and more importantly the very presence of the Risen Christ, the Son of David. And the Scriptures declare that one day the Lord Jesus will actually rule and reign for one thousand years sitting upon the throne of his father, King David.

Remember, this magnificent and everlasting victory was once pictured in the story of a little shepherd boy who defeated the enemy with one stone and the anointing of God. Every Word that God has spoken is intertwined with all His Words and they are sewn together with one scarlet thread that winds around and through the victory that was won at Golgotha, the place of a skull.

Bethlehem, David, the valley of Elah, a stone, victory, a head, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jesus, Nazareth, Passover, Jerusalem, Gethsemane, Ciaphas, Pilate, Herod, thirty-nine stripes, a robe, thorns, mocking, a sentence, a street, a walk, a skull, two thieves, soldiers, Mary, John, nails, a spear,
blood, blood, blood, blood, blood, blood,
blood, blood, blood, blood, blood, blood,
blood, blood, blood, blood, blood,

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Moses Called...


Ah yes, legalism. It’s as old as Moses, and it’s as popular as the Beatles. It comes in so many forms, and it transcends generations. Male or female, black and white and tan and yellow, fat and skinny and tall and short, it has a genre for all types and ages. It is satisfying to the flesh and it is famous for creating crusades, denominations, and systematic theologies. Legalism is when believers cull out certain outward behaviors and either make them either a necessity for salvation or a necessity for being “right with God”. In almost 40 years of being a believer I am still looking for the believer who is completely “right with God” because of something he does or does not do, and that is even without examining his or her thought life which many times would rival a toxic waste dump.

The new starting quarterback for the SF 49ers is a man named Colin Kaepernick. His short term as the starter has been extremely good. He is now being criticized for his many tattoos. Wow, for a minute I thought I was in church. Tattoos, although not mentioned or dealt with in the New Testament, find their way into some churches as standards or lack thereof of…well…something. And do not fret if you are unable to find this subject in the New Covenant because there are talented men and women who can cast a line backward and reel in a prize Mosaic catch. And they can take that catch, place it on a plaque, and display it handsomely on the doctrinal wall formerly known as “grace”.

Israel just approved 3000 more West Bank settlements. China has stealth technology. The United States is going to spend 4 billion on new fighter jets. The world teeters on the edge of economic collapse. Violence still rages around the world. Children are molested and raped around the world. And tattoos get under our skin? The church is filled with adultery and divorce; our children are leaving Christ; addictions are widespread within the church; preachers are becoming filthy rich; billions upon billions of evangelical dollars go to pay mortgage interest; but tattoos are the demons we must exorcize?

But tattoos are just one example of legalism, which when unpacked is self righteousness. Believers so desire to feel righteous and vindicated by what they believe that we add to God’s Word. And armed with those outdated weapons, we wield them against all kinds of miscreants who refuse to tow the line to our dictates. But legalism is a hard task master and requires an enormous amount of self righteousness and Biblical compromise. While the legalist contends that others compromise the Scriptures, he himself is compromising the essence of the freedom in Christ.

Usually a legalist does not choose divorce or adultery or drugs as his sin of choice against which he rants. It is some periphery behavior, many times aligned to a more modern era, which elicits his hobby horse. In the above example it is tattoos, and that is a s good as any. Sometimes it revolves around honoring a certain day as holy. It used to be long hair on men or makeup on women or some other breach of an ecclesiastical construct set up by man. And when some unsuspecting saint steps over this legal line he places himself directly in the line of fire. Most of the time the legalist must be armed with some Old Testament fodder in order to complete the condemnatory ensemble.

Even today many legalists suggest a prominent display of the Ten Commandments in certain public places. But they are not using those commandments in order to create a thirst for Christ or a need for the gospel. That display is not to make sinners see that “the soul that sins it shall die”. No, quite the contrary. They contend that a prominent display of those Ten Commandments will, get this, help elevate the morals of the culture comprised of sinners dead in trespasses and sins. Oh yes, they suppose that lost and depraved sinners will elevate their sin game to an acceptable standard which will positively affect the culture which will ultimately satisfy the legalist and in turn create an atmosphere more morally pleasant to believers. Yes, I believe that is called narcissism.

Imagine a very large house completely engulfed in flames. You are in it, but as yet you do not know you are going to die. Somehow firemen come and rescue you. They bring you out into the street and suddenly you become aware of just how deeply your life was in danger. You look back at the house on fire and you are thankful you are out. You rise to your feet and begin to walk, but as you walk you hear the screams of people still trapped in that house. Their screams start to annoy you and you tell them to lower their screams. You realize they cannot stop screaming altogether, but you insist their screams are way too loud.

That is self righteousness toward the lost. But imagine that when you begin to walk you stop to purchase some shoes. Although they are a little painful, you still love them. But when you look at the feet of other people who were once in the fire with you, you notice they are walking in different shoes than are you. You hurry over and tell them they should purchase your kind of shoes because the firemen that rescued you command it. These other shoe wearers say that they have spoken to the firemen and they said nothing about shoes. And when they refuse to change, you go about speaking words of condemnation against those who wear shoes different than yours.

You see, it would seem to be difficult to place such man made restrictions upon people once we have ourselves been rescued by grace from the pit of destruction and despair. You would think we would err on the side of grace, and yet it is so easy to slip into self righteousness. In fact, the flesh demands it. And even though our theology shouts grace with boldness and even smugness, our flesh needs a consistent fix of self righteous condemnation and at least a small list of contrived dos and don’ts in order to feel spiritually content. Throughout the church age it has been an all too familiar ecclesiastical treadmill. Believers have made days and holidays and foods and tattoos and jewelry and all kinds of things their hobby horses. And like-minded people have formed ecclesiastical cliques bound together by one or more of these issues. It makes them feel spiritually superior and divinely favored. All of us are prone to such things, and many of us have participated in some form of this continuing phenomenon. Only after we are set free and repent can we see just how self righteous we were and are still sometimes.

There are some issues that are important but must never rise to the level of, legalism, even if they are Biblically sound. Of course all redemptive issues are sacrosanct and must remain sacred. But there are other issues that have varying degrees of importance and must be addressed, but they must never be our focus or our constant crusade. Politics, Halloween, Christmas, Bible versions, number of children, Biblical foods, prophecy, and others should be important but not be draped in self righteous legalism. We as believers feel very strongly about a host of issues and it is difficult to embrace things with anything less than the strongest conviction and emotion. And that can and does lead to legalism.

The gospel is a message of hope and redemption and freedom. It should never be made to carry legalistic baggage. Every true born again believer is on a journey and at any given moment he or she is either growing or retreating, but no one has arrived. But when we make things like tattoos an issue of spiritual depth or a staunch Biblical position, then we have entered the "no grace" zone. And in keeping with my title, “Moses called…he wants his stone tablets back!”

Monday, December 01, 2014

Being His Light

Jn.1: In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Matt.6: 22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

When light becomes darkness then the darkness with become greater and greater. And when darkness is called light then those seeking light embrace darkness. And so we live in a day where the light has become darkness and yet is still called light. Men and women are preaching darkness and calling it light and people are embracing darkness thinking it is light. And the churches which have a little light are claiming that have all light based upon what they say they believe. And millions upon millions of professing believers are championing causes which have nothing to do with the gospel which is the source of light in this age.

And here we stand, brothers and sisters. It seems to be getting worse and worse by the day. The light of the gospel is hidden under bushels of morality, social justice, money, ecumenism, nationalism, and a general and powerful narcissism. Truly we are in the last days. And in these there is a remnant who are being called to a greater personal responsibility. No longer can we trust the church as our guide since it has been so compromised as to be little more than a social/religious community center. So what do we do?

The situation is so overwhelming that there is no remedy especially a remedy which can be planned out with human strategies. I believe there must be a revival of prayer. That seems so simple but in practice it is a monumental undertaking. We have become so obsessed with the cares of this world that prayer is just one of many parts of our lives if indeed it is a part at all. And we have grown up in an ecclesiastical climate which promotes prayer while diminishing it in practice. And we all have been affected and infected with the practices of a backslidden and compromised church.

And dare I say because of this carnal climate we have lost sight of what true and spiritual prayer is and should be. Because of television and entertainment and a laundry list of other things not only has prayer been muscled out but we are now quite ignorant concerning prayer. The believer who prays for five minutes a day is now a prayer warrior. And if you here some of the prayers coming from the pulpit you will hear such shallow and redundant offerings so as to be a recording of last week’s pitiful prayer. It is a great tragedy

But here is where I will exhort me and exhort you. I have used the arbitrary date of 1/1/15 as a starting date for searching and digging the rich spiritual ground called the teachings of Jesus. And in that vein I will be posting the words that came from His human lips but were eternal in the heavens. You see, I believe the only way to follow Jesus is to devour His words and dig deep into their essence by the illumination of the Spirit. But in the past several months I believe I have been corrected by the Spirit concerning the absolute necessity of prayer if we ever hope to not only more fully understand His words, but if we desire to infuse His words and the power into our hearts and lives.

So I am also going to strongly exhort all of us, me first, to seek with power and diligence to apprehend a more determined and a more profound and a more soul searching prayer life. The world needs light and they should find it in those who claim His name. And the only way we can be the light of the world is if His words and His Spirit control our lives and completely overshadow us with Him. Is that not the call of a disciple? Is that not what John the Baptist meant when he said, “He must increase but I must decrease”?

For too long we have elevated the Word even though our practice of it has been suspect. But we have minimized the practice of prayer as an integral and indispensible part of knowing and obeying the that same Word. And where there is little prayer there is little power. And so “orthodoxy” s become a powerless banner which most times elevates us rather than Christ.

But I am convinced that there is a world of untapped wonder that can only be experienced through prayer. In the Tabernacle of Moses the altar of incense stood for prayer.

Rev.8: And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.

And this altar stood up against the fabric wall which separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies wherein the Ark of the Covenant was. And upon the mercy seat between the two cherubim was the glory and presence of God. And when the incense burned upon the altar of incense the smoke would waft over into the Holy of Holies. Do you get the picture? Our prayers reach the very presence of God. It is a glorious mystery and a gracious gift to every true believer. But who among us can say we have used that gift to its fullest?

Prayer is a portal into God’s presence. It will change us. It will break us. It will provide for us. It will astound us. It will bring revelation. And most important of all it will glorify our God. Let us covenant to make this new year a year of prayer and the Words of Jesus. That should not be a novelty. It should have been a staple of the church for lo these many centuries.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Celebrating Christmas?

Celebrating Christmas?

Here is a good study on when Jesus was born.

Jesus was not born in December, and the holiday called “Christmas” is a man made construct designed primarily to benefit man and not God. It is curious that gifts are given to each other when Christmas is supposed to be a celebration of Jesus’ birthday. Where are His gifts? The holiday itself has become a spectacle of hedonism and consumerism with a touch of religious sentimentalism. Great and expensive Christmas pageants are presented around the country while other believers are persecuted, live in prisons, or even starve elsewhere in the world.

If the church began to celebrate Christmas during Rosh Hashanah or on Yom Kippur, it might be more appropriate. And if we celebrated it with joy and worship without the clamor of presents and credit card enthusiasm, it might be much more representative of our faith. The world has not adopted our holiday, we’ve adopted theirs. The New Testament exhorts us not to observe days, especially days which we have invented. When we mold our faith and our God into things that are events to watch and be entertained, then we have removed the spiritual essence of our faith.

The observable manifestation of Jesus should always be embedded in the lives of those who profess His name and follow His Lordship. Theatrical presentations can be used for evangelism, and some people have come to Christ through Christmas pageants, but the observance of Christmas has now become a western spectacle that is so void of anything resembling Jesus or the New Testament, that even Jews and other religions celebrate it without feeling that they are compromising their own faith.

I attempt to avoid being legalistic or hysterical about the issue of Christmas, but I do not observe it any longer. The most insidious forms of paganism are those which shroud themselves in Christian verbiage and even go so far as to claim to be Christian observances in and of themselves. When a believer dresses up his child as Moses and allows him to collect candy on Halloween, that might be an issue. However, at least no one claims that Halloween is a Christian observance. But what if Halloween began as a ecclesiastical holiday designed to promote giving as outlined in John 3:16? And if over the years the goblins and ghosts had consumed that holiday to where they were the focus and not God’s gift of His only Son, would it still be appropriate for believers to celebrate it?

Gal.4:9-11 - But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
he account in Luke concerning the birth of Jesus was specifically designed to reveal His divine birth, and present Him as the virgin born Savior of the world. No New Testament writers recall with any specificity that event, and Paul says only that “in the fulness of time God sent His Son”. The birth of Jesus was not meant to become a holiday, and surely not the disgusting display it has become today. It makes us feel good and gives us that Norman Rockwell holiday spirit, but it is a mirage and a deception that for the most part draws us away from Christ and not to Him.

And yet those that trumpet their literal Bible stance are reticent to even address the issue, much less repent and adjust their celebration accordingly. I do realize that in the course of what is entrenched and accepted I am considered a nut and a Scrooge. I take no pride in that and I am aware that many committed believers celebrate Christmas.. (The word itself is compromise.) But perhaps Jesus is not returning as soon as some of us believe. And if so, perhaps God wants to sanctify His people in anticipation of a mighty move of His Spirit.

I do not believe in a world wide revival, however I do believe pockets of revival are possible if God’s people are willing to allow themselves to be pruned by the Sword of the Spirit. But if we resist being challenged in the obvious issues, how will we bow willingly to the more painful and sacrificial ones? And in the end, what have we sacrificed for Jesus and His kingdom?

The Lord has place a difference between you and the Egyptians.

Where is that difference? Where is that sweet smelling fragrance that identifies us as humble reflections of the Lord Jesus? I ask you this question: What holiday do we as believers celebrate that the world does not? The truth is that the New Testament exhorts us not to celebrate holidays, especially those in concert with the world. The historical birth of God the Son was probably in September or early October, but the greatest replication of that birth takes place when a sinner believes on the Lord Jesus and Jesus is “birthed” inside his mortal being.

When we celebrate communion, we do not eat candy straw out of plastic mangers. We eat bread and wine that represents the blood and body of Jesus on the cross, and we do that looking forward until He comes. But in true Israelite fashon, we have taken that which is good and made it into an idol. Do we celebrate the circumcision of the infant Jesus? In this latter part of December, I exhort you to take inventory of what is happening all around you. I believe the Spirit will reveal to you how much He disapproves of what men suggest comes from God. If you want to accurately observe the birth of Jesus, you will have to wait for naxt fall. This year's date has already passed.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Valley of Decision


In case you have not noticed in the last forty years there has been an increase in evangelicals with children who have come out as gay. And in these past couple of decades there has been many children of evangelical pastors who also have come out as gay. This has presented a major problem for parents and the church. Of course the initial reaction was horror and rejection along with many different kinds of repair treatment. In fact most Neanderthal evangelicals strongly opposed the idea that anyone could be born with same sex attractions. And when the child submitted to therapy with no results the child was shunned and treated as a pariah even if he himself abhorred his attractions.

Many such children eventually turned to drugs and many committed suicide. Being ostracized from the church and being treated like a major disappointment by their families many could not bear that burden. And try as they might they could not stop the same sex attractions and therefore they were told God hated them. And faced with this dilemma the church either buried their heads in some theological sand or they acquiesced and changed their theology concerning committed gay relationships. Both paths are the easy way out.

I have addressed the dilemma HERE.

But how do we present the gospel love of Christ without diluting the Word about other moral issues? How can we express unconditional love for gay people without giving the impression we condone their lifestyle? This is a gigantic conundrum and one in which most professing believers will opt out. And since most church members will never share the gospel with anyone it is easy to sit back and cast moral stones meant to prove you believe the Bible.

I can understand evangelical parents who are so concerned with their child’s welfare that they soften their views on same sex relationships, but how can preachers do the same? It is only when you are tested can your claim of believing the Bible be substantiated. And when you must bow to Biblical truth, which may be misinterpreted as rejection, then we must do it in humility and try to communicate our love as well. I do not have all the answers, but one thing I do know is that the church has refused to deal with this issue. We can go to lost tribes in New Guinea who murder and steal and worship idols, and we can show them unconditional gospel love. But to the gay people we sign worthless petitions and protest and join hands to confront the gay agenda.

And these issues raise the ultimate question about the essence of the gospel. The word “gospel” has been bandied about by all sorts of ecclesiastical movements. It has been suffocated with ceremonial ornaments which theologians say must be part and parcel of the good news. It has been whittled down to some repeated prayer and then showered with assurance as the confused “convert” listens to a trained professional. It has been changed to mean a social justice theology. But we cannot even pretend to know how to approach the gay issue without a clear understanding of the gospel.

The gospel is complete in and of itself. It needs no human works afore hand, and it requires no life reformation before it can be believed. In fact it requires the exact opposite. We must admit who we are and who we need. It is good news to the sinner from all quarters. The practicing gay, the lost church goer, the self righteous moralist, the murderer, the conservative politician, all of these stand on the same fallen ground and are in need of the very same gospel. So if we believe the gospel to be filled with His work and void of ours, and if the gospel is activated purely by faith, then all our moral requirements are man made heresies.

But so often the church has placed the cart before the horse. A promiscuous and adulterous woman desires to believe on Jesus and we rush to her aid. But a practicing gay person also desires the same and we recoil with an uncomfortable atmosphere. Do we believe in gospel grace or are there caveats for certain sins? Martin Luther was used of God but he was still given to temper and to drunkenness and he was a rabid anti-Semite. And yet orthodox men use his name in their theology and some in their church title. How can those people demand moral perfection from others while they champion a man whose flaws were so conspicuous? It is because the church has made homosexuality the boogie man of all sins.

But again we turn to the gospel. It is the only true agent of change, and that change can only happen after a sinner believes. Too many have used the word repent to mean repent of your sins when the Greek word means to change your mind. So when you repent and change your unbelieving mind and believe the gospel you will be saved. Do we present one gospel to heterosexuals and another to homosexuals? Dare we trust the ministry of the Spirit to change people after they are saved or must we provide a litmus test to special sinners?

The culture continues to spiral downward and sins which were in the closet generations ago are now front and center. Does that mean the gospel is no longer relevant? Does it mean we must change what the Bible teaches? Does it mean we must fight against flesh and blood? Does it mean we must legislate certain sins away? One thing it does reveal:

The voting booths are packed while the prayer closets breed cobwebs.

The church must decide who we are, who Jesus is, and what the great commission is.

The Magnificent Simplicity


II Cor.11: But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

II Cor.11: But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. (NAS)

Do not interpret the word “simplicity” as “easy”. The path which follows Jesus is simple but it is not easy. I like the word “purity” as given in other translations. When we add things or subtract things from the teachings of Jesus we have corrupted the Word and have created a human path rather than a divine one. Jesus Himself exhorted seekers to “count the cost”. It is easy to get all excited about Jesus but it is quite another to follow Him.

After the novelty wears off it is then we might see the depth of your commitment. But we live in a church world where men and women have softened and changed the Word so that they can have a larger ministry. The path laid out by Jesus does not resemble most of the evangelical world at all. You now have entertainment, human idols, secret revelations, and in general pulpiteering designed to satisfy and tickle the ears. Charles Finney once observed how incongruous it was when the sermon was on hell and yet people could file out smiling and shaking hands.

Read that verse again. It is demonic to tamper with the gospel. Men like Rick Warren and Joel Osteen and all the prosperity hucksters have done serious violence to the simple yet profound gospel. And in their wake churches by the tens of thousands preach and live a false gospel. It is difficult to fully live the gospel of Jesus Christ and when the flesh is presented with an easier way it jumps at the chance. The deception has become so widespread and so diabolical that men and women can say that this nation was created as a Christian nation and they say it with a straight face. Again, that kind of thinking makes the gospel impure and dull.

But we are called to share and to live the magnificent simplicity of the everlasting gospel. A hard road to be sure. We will have to deny ourselves the ingratiation offered by the western church and culture, and we must resist the temptation to compare ourselves with others. Our standard is the Word and the teachings of our Master. We have no license to learn the ways of the culture and the fallen kingdom all around us. The simple and hard and illuminated road is our calling which is filled with glory.

You see, what the modern church preaches and lives is a lie and filled with unbelief. It bears the fruit of them who have changed the Word in order to accommodate the flesh. And that often leads to a kind of universalism where anyone who makes any tepid profession is saved and the preacher never confronts church members from the pulpit as it pertains to worthless professions of faith. The bills are too high and the mortgage too demanding to run the risk of chasing givers away. And shallowness and emptiness gives birth to more of the same. While some churches preach some works based gospel most others preach a gospel without any cost and which they promise will prosper you in this life and the life to come.

But in the midst of all the religious noise can you hear the voice of the Spirit? Do you understand that in the midst of apostasy we now are given the individual responsibility of following Jesus? Do not lean on a preacher for in this western ecclesiastical structure he is busy building a kingdom. Do not lean on friends and family because most will not hear the Spirit because they are not listening. Christianity to most is little more than observing a few religious practices and then letting the preacher take care of all the rest.

Oh but the glory of the gospel which is filled with the glory of our Savior! Walk in that gospel presence every day. Incline your ear to His voice. Acknowledge His presence. Pray without ceasing. Rejoice evermore. Do not let your relationship with Christ become stale and worse yet a religious obligation. Stir up the gift that lives within you and endure hardness as a soldier. Humble yourself constantly and exalt Him alone. Let your speech be seasoned with grace. Cultivate a divine love for sinners and especially the true brethren. Consume the Word as if your life depended upon it. Pray with vigor and with a relentlessness and with a passion as if your plane was going down. Seek Him with all of your heart and do not be denied. Fall upon the Rock and let Him crush your flesh and break your being so you can be remade in His likeness once more. And realize that God has provided for us a way to Him that is simple and pure but which will have a high cost as the world counts cost. But now and in the end you will be blessed and showered with a glimpse of Him and the reality of His presence. And that, my friends, is a Pearl of great price!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Jesus - The Symphony of Truth


Absolute truth can be dangerous when parts are culled out and presented in a vacuum. For instance if we were to present a few verses from Leviticus apart from the revelation of Jesus then we can provide a platform for hatred and violence. I do not pretend to understand some of the Old Testament revelations of God, however I do know that in these gospel days we are to view and understand all truth through the prism of Christ. And unless we present Jesus completely attached to all His teachings then we are prone to present an incomplete and even a misleading picture of the Redeemer. This phenomenon is prevalent within the western evangelical community.

When the revelation of truth revealed in Christ Jesus is either compartmentalized or has varying degrees of focus, then we are launching out with our own caricature. Jesus is truth. I am the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus not only speaks the truth. He is the truth. And that truth when presented in all its fullness presents an eternal symphony. But if we redact His teachings we redact His Person. And in so doing we many times make truth a self righteous weapon and not the light which illuminates the Son of God.

So many preachers are like one of the ten Chinese men who described the elephant according to the piece they held in their hand. Not only were they incomplete, but they were inaccurate. Like listening to a symphony where only the drums played or only one flute played. So are these pitiful caricatures of Jesus which not only fail to uncover the mystery of His eternal fullness, but they force feed Him into some cultural or relevant box which satisfies the pew dweller and keeps them from seeking the depth and mystery of His Person.

This kind of talk is viewed in today’s pragmatism as esoteric and ethereal and really not beneficial in this temporal world. And yet if we collect truth in our hearts and allow the Spirit to piece it together in a way that only He can, well then, we begin to see Jesus. The entire Bible can be summed up in one word – Jesus. It all fits together. And if we have ears to hear we can enjoy and embrace that symphony which draws us and changes us.

Carefully we search out every note and every chord and every harmony and every key change, and then as the sheet music begins to take shape it jumps off the page and invades our hearts. Is it not a miracle? Jesus is revealed within our hearts and we not only fall in love with what we see and hear, but we long to be like Him. To be like Jesus is not like desiring to be like some mentor or earthly family member. This goes way beyond just imitation. This is the mystery of sanctification which allows the Spirit to literally change us into His image.

But that image cannot be one of our making or even some culling out of a few attributes which in reality require nothing more than some doctrinal genuflects. If we truly desire to allow the Spirit to conform us to His image it must be the entire and clear image. And if that image is truly Jesus then the conforming process will be slow and painful and will require a sacrificial allegiance to His Word as well as a denying of self. Those words are so easy to say and yet they present a monumental challenge in which the journey will provide ample opportunities to embrace a compromised contentment because we seem to have achieved a blending in with our respected peers. And our flesh will convince us that it should not really be this hard and that God understands our weaknesses and He knows our hearts.

But that would be an unfinished symphony, and if that is what you desire you can have it without much effort at all. I mean after all heaven awaits you one day so why all the labor now? Oh yes, my flesh speaks the same language as does yours. But is that what our Savior deserves? Is that what He desires? And if there is an intimate place where His revelation can enter our hearts are we to ignore it while we listen and enjoy the discords of this world? Do we really want to know Jesus? So often we understand truth as a set of absolutes and written doctrines and we fail to understand or perceive that all truth finds its source and its destination in Christ Jesus. “Learn of Me” exhorts our Master. Can that be an audited class which is offered in one semester and can be learned in our spare time?

But quiet time alone in deep prayer is a lost discipline. We must be entertained both in and out of church. Prayer, if any, has spiraled down to a “bless Aunt Minnie” type which cannot compete in length to the average television show. The early church for the most part was illiterate. They did not even have a Bible or spiritual books, and while the gatherings had times of teaching and corporate worship it was dedicated to much time in prayer.  And it was this life of prayer which so dramatically changed their lives that they were persecuted for His sake. And it wasn’t because of some moral stand or some offensive literature or some political organization. They were persecuted because they humbly but unambiguously followed Jesus and allowed their lives to demonstrate Him.

This was the symphony of truth known as Jesus.
Where is that symphony today?