Thursday, January 30, 2014

And Men Played No More...

And the world turned while men played. Years passed, yea even centuries, and men played. Wars raged and other wars were planned and men still played. Children died and men played. Disease crept into healthy bodies and murdered its hosts while men played. Typhoons and earthquakes and tsunamis harvested millions of lives and men still played. Marriages by the tens of millions failed and men played. Adultery and all kinds of promiscuous behavior were practiced and men played. Children turned to drugs and violence while men still played. Human slavery and trafficking ran rampant and men played. Rich men robbed poor men and all the while men played. Lies were spoken as truth and yet men still played.

But one day Jesus returned and men played no more...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The American Lie


There is an on open self righteousness which emanates from the American culture and psyche. We are born into that illusion, and if you will, that lie. We hear it coming from the lying lips of politicians. We hear it from teachers. We hear it from preachers. We are told that if we work hard we can achieve anything we can dream. That is humanism in its highest form. And just like the phrase “the pursuit of happiness” it makes us our own deity and designer of our own destiny.

Here is a revealing poster which desecrates all the sanctimonious attitudes of western believers and unbelievers alike. It makes a mockery of almost all we have been taught since we were born. And as believers, we should now know better.


Monday, January 27, 2014

His Story Through Me


I grew up in the mainline Lutheran Church in which my mother was the choir director and my father attended at Easter and Christmas. I went through the three mandatory years of catechism and was confirmed as a member and took my first communion. I was absolutely as lost as Hitler no matter what the church said about me. After high school I entered a life of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. I quickly spiraled downward until in 1974 I conspired with several of my friends to rob a bank. We had chosen a rural bank which had one elderly guard and we were committed to kill the guard as we were agreed that we didn't want to go to prison for the twenty mandatory years that New Jersey law required. Before the robbery took place I was involved in a street fight in which my finger was almost bitten off (pretty tough fight, huh?). I ended up living on the street.
 Since my mother was deceased and my father would have no part of me, who could blame him. So I hitchhiked to an exit on the Garden State Parkway, and then I stood outside the exit and hitchhiked. Four black men picked me up and drove me to the exit just off of Route #3 where this year's Super Bowl will be played. My aunt in North Jersey took me in. So in 1974 my mother's sister, who was an atheist, took me in to live.
At the outset I was still healing from the injuries I incurred from the fight and I took some welding classes provided by the government. It was during that time that my brother took me to Broadway to see the play "Godspell" which even with all the things that it could be criticized for God used it to start a searching in my heart. I mean I reasoned in my heart that if Jesus was who He said He was I wanted to know Him. For the next several months everything I saw spoke to me about Christ. A bumper sticker on the car in front of me; a statue in a cemetery; a radio station I accidentally turned to; and finally a Billy Graham crusade on television. Now this was before the advent of "clickers" and you had to get up to change the channel. As I ate my sandwich I decided to wait to change the channel until after I ate. As I listened I became mesmerized by the topic he was preaching on because I had never heard it before. He was proclaiming that Jesus was coming again. I had never been told that before, and it put a totally different light on my search. If He was returning to this earth again it meant two things to me, first it meant that Jesus was real and alive. Not just a historical figure that taught us to love our neighbor, no, He was all that He claimed He was, God in the flesh. Secondly, if He was returning, what implications did that have for me? Needless to say I was consumed with the Spiritual reality about the Lord Jesus that transcended religion.
I couldn't escape it and it was in my heart constantly. One night in March of 1975 I climbed up the face of Garret Mountain in North Jersey overlooking New York City and I said out loud "Jesus, if you are the Son of God and the only Savior, than I want to know you". The Scriptures declare that "whosoever comes unto me I will in no wise cast out". On that night the Holy Spirit revealed to me who Jesus was and by faith I became a follower. I had not hear an audible voice however what I did hear was unmistakable.

Now I was as theologically unsophisticated as one could imagine. I had never heard the term "born again" but when I first heard it I thought that was a great phrase because it described what happened to me, I didn't even know it was the Lord Himself that had said those words. My witnessing approach back then was to ask people "Do you know Jesus?" and when they said yes they knew Him I would respond "No, I mean really know Him. He is alive!". People would then look at me with the discomfort that something in me was unbalanced. My atheistic aunt would chide me that it was alright to let Jesus help you get off drugs but don't get fanatical about Him. But I couldn't help but be fanatical, after all, if it was true that everyone that dies will spend eternity in either heaven or hell what else really matters.

I went into Manhattan and purchase a King James Bible and brought it home. Since at first I could not understand many things I began to read the words in red. I would take the Bible out of its box, read the words in red, and place it back in the box. I remember how shocked I was the first time I saw someone write in their Bible! To say I was green is an understatement, but I was born again and would never be the same.

Today, almost 40 years later, I still claim Christ. I have been most imperfect through the years, but God's grace has always been my strength. It has been an amazing journey, but the best is yet to come. Praise the Lamb of God Who took away all my sins!

God's Word

I Sam.3: …And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision.

We live in a day where Bibles are printed by the millions. The come with all kinds of colors and textures. They come with large or small print. They come with notes and concordances. They come with maps and indexes. They come with men’s names on them. They come in all sizes and with protective coverings. They are bought as gifts or to add to your collection. Would it be safe to say that almost every house where even one person goes to church, and some where no one does, has more than one Bible? I am speaking of America.

Men place their hand upon a Bible to be sworn into public office including the Presidency. Many have a family Bible as an heirloom. Secular bookstores sell Bibles by the scores. Christian bookstores with engrave your purchased Bible for free. The Bible is the greatest selling book of all time.

And yet there are parts of the world where true believers do not have Bibles. They must rely on a minister to read from his and sometimes he himself does not have the entire Bible. Although the number is being reduced, there are still some languages and dialects without the Bible translated into their own language. For these and others the Bible is indeed rare.

Everything we know about Jesus we have gleaned from the Bible. There are no longer any living people who walked with Him upon this earth. Everything we know about His teachings and how we should live is only in the Bible. Our entire belief system is built upon the Bible. Even our so called interpretations should be predicated upon the Scriptures. Without the Bible we could only make things up as best we can, and considering the massive differences we have already our faith would be useless.

But the Scriptures are not just information. Jesus said His words were life and they are spirit. That makes the written words of Scriptures different than any other written words. This is a great mystery but filled with glory nonetheless. Now an unredeemed sinner cannot understand the Bible except as it pertains to who Jesus is. The Spirit of God can use Scriptures to open a lost heart and enlighten that sinner as to Jesus being the Savior and Lord of the entire world. That is exactly how I came to Christ. In fact, after I was born again it took a while before I understood much of the Bible but the Holy Spirit was a patient guide and teacher.

The Scriptures are no longer received as the Word of God. They are now sermon material, good advice, stories with lessons, Judeo-Christian ethics, and something to defend against unpatriotic enemies. And that is the reason why they no longer change people, because in the end, all those things are just unbelief.

Now I would like you to watch THIS.

Where is that hunger in the American church? It is gone now. The Bible is just the best selling book but it is not treated as God’s Word.

Friday, January 24, 2014

How Personal is the Faith?


I know people who will say, if asked, that they are believers in Jesus Christ and they are headed for heaven. They believe in grace and they can give an acceptable form of the gospel and most go to some local church which falls well within the acceptable parameters of the evangelical community. They have been baptized and they have given money and time to support their church which also supports missions. They carry their Bibles to their church on Sundays and open it to the passages requested by their pastor and many even attend a Bible study class on Sunday mornings. There are multiplied millions of such people who live in America.

But there is something wrong. Very wrong. Like I have said I know many of these people. Most seem nice and are responsible American citizens. They keep up their house, they pay their bills, and they raise their children to be responsible and moral and even to become professing believers. They can and will converse with you about politics or the economy or sports or the weather or a number of topics. But if you look deeper than those kinds of superficial exchanges you will find that they have little if any genuine hunger for Christ and His kingdom.

They will gladly give you their opinion about Miley Cyrus or higher taxes or the current president, but rarely if ever will they, or can they, discuss what Jesus has ministered to them recently. If you speak of being broken before the Lord their expression reveals a combination of bewilderment and suspicion. They are uncomfortable hearing or discussing such sacred things, and that kind of sharing is done on a spiritual level about which they are completely unfamiliar. And if while sharing something deeply spiritual and personal you get a little choked up they are extremely uncomfortable since they have no common reference point with which to process such a display.

That requires a basic and fundamental question about the essence of the faith that claims to know and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. How personal is it and what does the word “personal” mean? Is the Christian faith something that can be acknowledged and embraced by nodding to a certain set of doctrines? And after acknowledging personally the veracity of those doctrines what should be the fruits of that confession? When I was confirmed in the Lutheran Church as a teenager we had to finish three years of catechism and then about 10 of us were confirmed as members of the church and we took our first communion. In effect we were publicly acknowledged as true believers in Jesus Christ. But many if not most of us were not. The year was 1969.

And how can I say I was not a true believer? Because after being born again in 1975 I had no doubt that I had been born again and had been lost before. And how could I be so sure of the difference? Well there are millions of believers who have similar testimonies. You see before 1975 I had no hunger for Christ and the things pertaining to His kingdom. I did not read the Bible, I did not pray, I did not discuss Jesus, I did not witness, I had no interest in missions, and in general nothing had really changed. I was a member of a church and that was the extent of my spiritual life. But is that what is a revelation of an authentic experience with the Risen Christ? Is that a legitimate testimony of being born again and walking in the Spirit?

We are faced with quite a spectacle in the acceptable community of the faith here in America. It has been birthed over many, many decades and other generations have seen this spectacle although this generation has not only seen it in great volume, but this spectacle has now been embraced by the evangelical community. There are many millions of people who have as much hunger for Christ as did I before 1975 and they also have been baptized and accepted or confirmed as true believers in Jesus Christ. I hope you can see the problem. I hope the problem is revealed to you in such a way it shakes your being. This is not just a problem…this is a shocking crisis.

And let us be honest with ourselves as well. We who can understand what I am saying and can see what has happened? We have become inoculated to this situation. What I mean is that we know and live with and even are related to some of these people I have described and we no longer have an urgency and passion in our prayers and dealings with them because we have allowed familiarity to strip us of what should be deep concern. And over the decades these kinds of professing believers who really express almost not hunger and thirst for Christ have been assimilated into the church and are treated as full blown believers whose faith is within acceptable parameters. And it is very difficult to remain active inside that kind of compromised culture and not be compromised ourselves. But if you step outside the safe and inoculated atmosphere of the institutional church you should be able to see more clearly what has happened and the dire circumstances that many church members may be walking in but who remain unaware and ambivalent to it all.

Am I suggesting I know who is a true believer and who is not? Of course not. But what I am saying that something is very wrong and the situation has many profound and tragic implications. And do we even care about these people anymore, or have we grown so accustomed to the pitiful state of the faith that they are allowed to walk among us without strong prayers or tearful overtures? And here is the ultimate implication. Is it possible that many millions of church members who are defined by my description will ultimately be revealed as being unregenerate? Are we willing to embrace their passive profession and let the chips fall where they may in eternity?

I have found so many of these same people who are aggressive in their judgments of unsaved people. They speak all kinds of harsh words about people based upon a miniscule knowledge of who they are and their circumstance. Just recently a man named Richard Sherman made a spectacular play to win the game and send his team to the Super Bowl. A few minutes later a reporter shoved a microphone in his face and Sherman went off about his prowess and his opponent’s lack of it. For about 40 seconds he was over the top. The reporter was a white woman and Sherman is black with long dreadlocks.

Well that short exchange sent off a firestorm among all kinds of people. Many were offended and outraged, and many came to his defense even though they thought he may have made an heat of the moment mistake. But here is my point. I have spoken to professing believers who witnessed that incident and some were outraged and judged Sherman harshly. They said he was way out of line and acted like a thug. Some black people receive the term thug as related to the “n” word. But still they were very visceral in their judgment of Sherman. But when I told them Sherman had apologized it did not dilute their judgment. When I told them that Sherman had come out of the deep ghetto it did not dilute their reaction. When I told them that Sherman received a scholarship to Stanford University and graduated with a 3.9 grade point average it meant nothing to them. When I asked them if they had watched any other interviews with Sherman some said they had not but that did not temper their feelings. He was a thug. And when I said he had made a mistake the reply was that he had made a BIG mistake. This is from professing believers.

I am astounded and taken aback by such indiscriminate condemnation and complete lack of mercy or redemption. But do you see how the natural man reacts when he is fortifying his religious brand? Morality is the mortar by which the fleshly man builds his religious house and the sins and failures of others often provide more bricks for additions to that house. And those bricks are cemented in by the mortar of that person’s own self serving view of his own morality and Biblical prism. And when that is the case then where is any spirituality? Where is the understanding, to say nothing of the passion, to represent the Person and teachings and Spirit of Jesus Christ?

There is a large segment of the evangelical community who see and understand Jesus through doctrinal and moral eyes and have no real understanding or revelation of what Jesus actually taught and how He lived and, yes, how and why He died. And if we take that painfully to its logical conclusion they see another Jesus. This is serious business and we must address it while striving sacrificially to remain broken and humble ourselves. There must not be any hubris as we open our eyes to what is happening in the Spirit. People’s souls are at stake and what we see and do must all be to glorify Jesus and not highlight any of us. In fact as we understand the vacuous nature of the church we should also examine ourselves. We still have far to go and we must beseech the Spirit to enlarge our hunger and thirst for Christ as well as our capacity to love and serve Him.
I will have been saved for forty years next year. And within that forty years there have been times when I was cold toward God. I knew it and of course so did He. But I could not be happy with that kind of life. I knew something was wrong and sometimes I extended that condition but I could never escape that conviction within regardless of how small I tried to make it. I had been with Christ intimately and in the sweetness of worship and obedience, but now He seemed very distant. He was still there but I wasn't. And yet there are people who can live their entire life like that but with seemingly no conviction at all. That is a profound inconsistency concerning a true believer.

So how personal does the faith have to be before it is the true faith? Deeply and profoundly and observably personal and it should lead all of into a humility which renders us broken and submitted before Him. Anything else is just religion wrapped in morality.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Little pointed Humor


Sunday, January 19, 2014



In order for us to continue to live as we do we must do two things.

We must reject the teachings of Jesus


We must not believe there is a hell.

And fueled by those two things we can continue to live unremarkably within a culture which lives with such a remarkable passion for sin.

How Did Things Ever Get so Far?


Vito Coreleone: How did things ever get so far? I don't know. It was so -- unfortunate -- so unnecessary.”

Are we looking for too much of a utopia? Are we taking the Scriptures far too literally? I don’t mean our worthless theologies which proclaim our orthodoxy because we say the Scriptures are inerrant. If there ever was a paper doctrinal tiger it is that one. Who cares what you say you believe ABOUT the Scriptures. How do the Scriptures dictate your life is the ultimate theology. But if we allow the present state of Christianity to influence our interpretations of Scripture then we can find much contentment in lowering the bar. In fact most church members would be bewildered by the suggestion that things have drifted so far.

But if we truly receive the Scriptures as God-breathed and God’s eternal Word, then we must ask ourselves are we asking too much. Do we have our head in the clouds and is that kind of theology over the top and completely unreasonable? But instead of holding fast to the supernatural essence of Jesus and His teachings we have created a theology of situational ethics and futuristic events which affect nothing in our lives. And if perchance someone holds us to the teachings of Jesus in their literal form we consider that person as unbalanced and even unreasonable.

So are we expecting too much from us who say we follow Jesus? I mean do the multiplied millions who claim His name set the standard? Is there a danger when we read the words of Jesus and apply them literally to our lives? Is that a destructive wildfire which harms the norm? If God could erase your memory and you recalled nothing about Scripture at all except that Jesus was Savior and Lord and you began to read through the New Testament without commentary, what would you think? We have become so inoculated to the words of the New Testament that even the most startling exhortations do not move us anymore.

And why is that? It’s because they have all been diluted and explained in terms that have been influenced by the culture, and it’s also because none of your fellow believers seem to do what they say literally. So we can read a verse like:

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

And as we read those words we have a buffer already built in by the secular and the ecclesiastical culture which allows us to make them some spiritual guidelines about how you view money but surely not literal in any sense. If we would take those words as a literal exhortation how could we exist in this western culture? It would be way too fanatical and so we dilute them to suggest a heart attitude rather than a specific obedience. This is just one example of how the church has bowed to the culture and incorporated all kinds of fail safes as we interpret Scripture.

Lk.14: 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

This verse sums up a teaching from Jesus that exhorts us to count the cost before becoming His disciple. And just what cost would that be? Is Jesus suggesting that we should present that cost in a sharing of the gospel? In fact is that cost a part of the gospel? And does that cost include more than giving up cigarettes and swearing? So a man can “accept Christ” and begin to “go to church” and stop being a adulterer and stop getting drunk but he can still strive for material things and corporate advancement and save large amounts of money for his retirement? He can take out a mortgage for a house which exceeds his needs and take out a car loan which also exceeds his needs and still he has “forsaken all”?

Sometimes when I read the words of Jesus I wonder if we really know what being a disciple is these days. The modern definition and revelation of being a disciple or a follower of Jesus is without personal cost. Give up a few obvious sins and “poof” you are in. Look around and see how everyone else lives and follow suit. And if and when you come across these “problem” Scriptures just remember they surely cannot mean what they seem to say literally. Come on, let’s be reasonable.

Matt.5: 43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

And verses like these also fall by the wayside and are compartmentalized. They might mean your cantankerous neighbor but they cannot mean America’s enemies. You see, even God’s Word must bend to the patriotic culture. And when we do not even pretend to take God’s Word literally then we make the Bible a book of religious writings which when used properly can have an advantageous affect upon your life. And then these writings can lend themselves to a variety of messages that comfort and soothe the conscience and add some religious garnish to a life lived well within the cultural norms.

How did things ever get so far? When we replace the Word of God with our milquetoast interpretations then the faith veers way off course. When our theology replaces our life-ology then our faith becomes paper. When Jesus the Living Being is replaced by jesus the caricature and when prayer is replaced by organizations and when worship is replaced by music then we have invented a faith unlike the true faith. All of these things have led the church far astray from what is the true expression of the faith which follows Jesus. And after so many years rare is the person who knows something is very wrong, and rarer still is the person who fasts and prays and seeks the face of the Savior with such diligence and passion that he or she will not be denied.

Oh dear brothers and sisters, is there any chance we could be painfully honest and allow the Spirit to remove the scales that have covered our eyes? We stand so far off course that a minor adjustment cannot even begin to set our feet upon the path which bears His mark.

Gal.6: 17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

Let us go ahead and place our lives against that litmus test. Do we bear His marks in our bodies? Do we even know what it truly means to bear His marks in our bodies? Do we even desire to know what that means? Can you not see just how shallow and hollow and self serving we have made the faith that claims His name? What do we do least in our lives? We must sleep and we must work, but after that what consumes us? Is it television? Is it music? Is it eating? Is it driving? Is it fellowship with others? What do we do least? I would guess that time alone without distraction with God in prayer, meditation, and worship is somewhere near the bottom of the list.

It is true that Paul did not have the distractions that we now deal with. That is very true, However Paul did have something that changed his life and made other things subservient to this one thing. Paul had an experience with Christ. He could not deny that He had met the Living Christ. And that initial encounter drove Paul to seek more encounters. And with each encounter Paul desired more. And each encounter changed Paul in tangible ways. It would bring to his remembrance his first encounter with Christ; It would both satisfy and also create more of a thirst for more of Christ; It would energize his faith and infuse it with more of Christ’s life; it would remake him to be a little more like his Savior; It would make the things of this world appear as worthless as they are; and it would make Paul long for heaven.

So in light of those things what is wrong with the church that most professing believers do not experience that which Paul did? There must be two possible answers.

Perhaps many church members have had no authentic experience with Christ. It is entirely possible that literally millions of evangelical church members have never really been born again. Oh, you say, but who has had a Damascus Road experience like Paul? Do not underestimate the power and ministry of the Spirit. Who can be translated from the kingdom of darkness and the blindness of that kingdom into the kingdom of God’s dear Son and have their eyes fully opened and yet not manifest a change? God does not rely on the Road to Damascus to regenerate souls. But I fear that many church members have had no spiritual experience with Christ and therefore cannot really have any hunger to meet with Him again. They have not met with Him at all yet.

Secondly many believers who actually had a life changing experience with Christ and who can give testimony to that wonderful event no longer seek Christ and therefore their lives and hearts have grown cold. Yes they feel a kind of exhilaration on Sunday mornings but their spiritual lives have been dormant for some time. They no longer run to get alone with the Redeemer and bathe in His presence and be broken by His Spirit and walk back into the darkness of this world changed once again. They know the creeds and they appreciate their church and they support missions but they do not walk in the Spirit fresh from His throne room and with an anointing to live His life with Whom they meet regularly and with great passion.

Their faith has become a religion. Yes, they have been redeemed and yes they love the Lord Jesus, but the freshness and the power and the hunger have all fled. They now walk as card carrying evangelicals who know on which side of all the moral causes they should stand and they know what sins they should avoid and they even know the difference between being lost and being saved. They are in Christ to be sure. But where is the fervency, the passion, and the relentless hunger for more of Him? Where are the tears that sometimes accompany a personal visitation of the Spirit Who ushers them into the unmistakable presence of Christ which not only cannot be denied, but which overshadows them and literally transforms them anew and afresh? And the next day the go about their earthly tasks with a longing to get away and be with Him once again. And when they leave their jobs that longing becomes excitement as they drive home.

And as they do what must be done at home they have an appointment of glory almost raging through their beings, They are not interested in television or exercise or anything else that isn’t necessary. They long to be with Christ and while they perform the tasks of Martha they have Mary’s place in their hearts. And as they steal away to be with Him they once again bow before Him and offer themselves as living sacrifices. Oh yes, it may not be as long a time as they would like, but it is a time separated just for Him. And as they place their head upon their pillows sometimes they literally smile. They have been with Christ today and with that they find sweet slumber in His hands.

Do you believe that even generally describes the spiritual lives of most believers? And what kind of faith do we really have if we claim that the things of this world that Paul did not have keep us from our Savior? Go ahead, and change places with the Apostle Paul. Would we even dare to suggest such a thing? So Paul’s life is filled with in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.  Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.  Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.”

Distractions? And yet with all these things and more this apostle lived on meeting with the same Jesus he had met on that dusty road. And have we no shame? Can we even mouth the words of some excuse? Are we that self centered that we are not even convicted as we read words like that? No one can believe the Word of God and not spend much time with Christ in prayer and meditation and worship and repentance. No one. Knowing the Bible and all its teachings without spending uncommon time before the Lord is like a glove without a hand. It might be smooth and pretty but it is lifeless.

We have many, many Bibles. We have read many, many verses. We have heard many, many sermons. But without a revival of spending time alone with God our knowledge just puffs up and has no manifestation in our lives. In fact, without a deeply committed prayer life we have head knowledge of God. We can claim we are not atheists, however we cannot claim we live differently than do they. And that, my dear friends, is a pitiful state indeed. It is so unfortunate and so unnecessary.

And how did things ever get so far?
It’s because we became content with what we know instead of seeking Who we know.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Unholy Olive Branches


In the past few years evangelical leaders such as Al Mohler and Ravi Zacharias have spoken at Mormon gatherings. Mohler spoke at Bringham Young University and Ravi Zacharias spoke at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. In perspective, this would be akin to allowing 100 years to pass and then evangelical leaders speaking at and befriending the followers of Sun Yung Moon. And this kind of compromise doesn’t just tarnish their reputation. No, there are many more serious repercussions. It is much more serious than smoking cigarettes or going to an R rated movie or even becoming dependent upon prescription medication.

This kind of compromise literally rips the very fabric of the gospel. It opens doors the Spirit never meant to be opened. It lends credibility to institutions built upon spirits of antichrist. It makes friends with the enemies of Christ. It is a compromise that ultimately may lead souls into eternal damnation. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints denies the deity of Christ and preaches a salvation of human works, to say nothing of a plethora of weird and absurd doctrines and practices. And all cults long for acceptance and membership as mainstream. And the LDS has found such partners among many evangelical leaders.

For hundreds of years the true church fought hard to keep its distance from the Roman Catholic Church. Even while loving its membership the true church openly taught about the grievous errors taught and practiced by the Roman Church. But little by little the walls began to crumble. And now the walls hardly exist and that kind of information about the RCC is hardly mentioned in evangelical pulpits for fear of losing members.

But no one could ever have foreseen what is happening today. The Roman Catholic Church at least believes in the Trinity and the deity of Christ. But now we are supposed to befriend cults? Who will be next? Will Mohler and Zacharias speak at Kingdom Hall or a Christian Science reading room and accentuate the “common ground” we have with them? This is a monstrous betrayal of the faith. Before I go further let us examine what the Word of God teaches us about being friends with such organizations.

Matt.16: 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

This confession that Jesus was the Son of the Living God is the foundation to our faith. There is nothing greater nor anything higher than that truth. Anyone or any group that denies that Jesus was God in the flesh and that He is just as much God as the Father is a spirit of antichrist. Even those who embrace a oneness theology still teach that Jesus was and is God. This is a non-negotiable truth and cannot be compromised, diluted, or accepted by anything but a clear and convincing confession.

Matt.10: 32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

Anyone or any group that refuses to confess Jesus as the Living Son of God is rejected by Christ. And if He rejects these heretics so must we. There is nowhere in the New Testament where we are given license to cozy up to those who teach damnable heresies. I will address the reasons why this is happening further in this post.

Acts 20: 28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

The Holy Spirit is revealing the future coming of ravenous wolves who not spare the flock but lead them away from Christ and draw them to themselves. Now who can fit this description better than Joseph Smith? Here is man who supposedly received special revelation about a host of things including that Jesus and Satan were brothers born from a relationship God the Father had with an angel. And that man’s error now imprisons millions of people, and that man’s false church has been exceedingly successful at making disciples of Joseph Smith.

II Cor.11: 12 But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.
13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Paul says he will cut off those false apostles and deceitful workers. And verse 15 speaks about these heretics being projected as ministers of righteousness. That means they stand for morality in all its forms. They are pro-life and pro-traditional marriage and they embrace the Ten Commandments. And so do the Mormons. However Paul calls them false apostles because they preach another Jesus. But Paul rebukes the Corinthian Church because they do not reject these heretics but in some way accept them.

II Cor.11: For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. (NASV)

These so called leaders in the faith today bow before the leaders of this cult and tacitly refer to the major differences in doctrine and theology and yet call them friends and co-laborers. I will reveal what labor they are engaged in together.

II Pet.2: But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

Again, who fits this description more than Joseph Smith? He brought in many damnable heresies and many have followed his pernicious ways. This cannot be seen as commonplace and just a major disagreement. This kind of falsehood removes the foundation of the faith and attacks the Lord Jesus Himself. They are enemies of Christ and His cross. This is a monumental deception which emanated from hell itself and was brought into the world through this one demon possessed man called Joseph Smith.

The Scriptures are clear. We as believers are to have no dealings with false teachers and cults. Our only dealings with unbelievers must either be on a non-spiritual way (co-workers, Little League, etc.) but we are not to have any alliances with unbelievers. But to speak at a cult gatherings, offer an impotent aside about doctrinal differences, and then claim they are friends is an astounding infidelity as it pertains to God’s Word. It is almost unbelievable. But there is an underlying reason for these unholy partnerships.

What would possess ordained men who are considered as orthodox to shake hands with cultists in their own buildings? Why would they show respect to their leaders and profess much common ground with heretics? How could they say they are friends and even co-laborers? The answer is very simple and profoundly diabolical. It is a common morality and patriotism which provides the glue which cements a relationship between the spirits of antichrist and believers. And this kind of deception is nowhere to be found on most discernment blogs.

Read through the discernment blogs and see if you find nationalism or moralism listed as a deception. In fact most blogs are involved with that kind of deception because they do not “discern” them as compromise or deceptions. This is a very serious deception because it is not obvious and it is embraced by men of God who millions of people admire. But evangelicals speaking at Mormon institutions is just the tip of the iceberg. There is much more to come.

Joel Osteen said he believed Mormons are Christians. Millions of evangelicals voted for Romney for president because they esteemed his economic and moral values a higher criteria than his view of Jesus. That in and of itself should expose the heart of the evangelical church. While claiming to espouse Scriptural inerrancy the evangelical church has lost all sense of the gospel. How can two walk together unless they be agreed? How can preachers tell young people not to date unbelievers when they are courting Mormons themselves? This in outrage and yet who is outraged?

God is outraged! God sends His only begotten Son to suffer unspeakable wounds inflicted upon His body and the Father watches as His Son suffers and dies for His enemies. And now those who have become benefactors of that immeasurable grace through His immeasurable sufferings and death offer friendship to those who desecrate the Son of God? Can there be anything more worldly than denying Christ? And we are commanded not be a friend to the world, but today preachers of the gospel walk into temples that are worshiping idols and instead of rebuking the entire system they offer an olive branch? Just what Bible are they reading??

And again, with all the strength I know how, I openly expose nationalism and its Siamese twin of moralism as idols of religion and not part of the kingdom of God’s Dear Son. To embrace blasphemers because they pledge allegiance to the same fallen nation is blasphemy in and of itself. To join hands with doctrines of demons because they are pro-life is a disgrace to Christ and a massive confusion to the body of Christ. It diminishes the gospel of Christ and makes the incarnation of no importance. How deep was God’s self humiliation when He came in the likeness of sinful flesh? And we mock that inconceivable journey of love when we join with those who actually do mock it.

This Trojan Horse called nationalism and moralism has done much damage to the body of Christ. And those who profess to be discerners and watchman remain blind to this diabolical evil. Many of them are participants in the entire religious system. And even while unholy olive branches are being offered and unholy bridges are being built these watchmen are asleep and do not see how nationalism is the mortar by which these bridges are being built. When I was born again ( another lost term) in 1975 no one could have ever imagined that evangelical preachers who are considered orthodox leaders would stand in Mormon pulpits as invited guests and throw pleasantries to blasphemers.

But these unholy olive branches are being offered more and more with each passing day.
They are not God's olive branches, but they are the flowers of deception.

The Spirit of Prayer


Prayer is more than just muttering some words and then attaching Jesus’ name to the end. And true prayer that God hears must be offered in a humble and contrite spirit. The prayers today which are wound around taking authority and casting down principalities and declaring things are no more than self serving diatribes. Prayer used to be a sacred place where we meet with a Holy God and a Risen Christ and we ourselves were changed. And after much repentance and worship we made our requests known unto God with a benediction which said “Thy will be done”. And we were not ashamed to leave it all in God’s hands. Today men and women approach God and demand that He do this or do that and shower them with material things. That is not prayer. That is self righteous foolishness.

We are invited to come boldly before the throne of grace to obtain mercy and grace. So many use prayer as a vehicle to get their own way and to wield power that they know not of. The power they seek can only be found in the humility and brokenness they exhibit before our Great God. The King has pointed His royal scepter toward us and we can come before Him and speak. This is a great and sacred privilege which above all should change our hearts. They that come and command God as their servant have a self serving caricature of the Thrice Holy Creator. This is no “Polly want a cracker” time where we sit on the heavenly Santa’s lap and recite a list of our wants and desires. A true time of prayer is a holy place where we present ourselves upon His altar and the Spirit takes our lives and makes them a living sacrifice.

Anyone who has really entered into a true time of prayer considers his requests as secondary. To be sure God answers prayer, but when we truly wait upon the Lord in His very presence we are changed into His image. Can we truly bow before the Risen Christ and remain unbroken? I think not. Yes there are times when we can speak with our heavenly Father while driving or at work or at other times, in fact all times. But when we walk away from the temporal pressures and get alone with God and seek His face without time restraints, well, there is the holy ground. It is those times when we must become the wet clay that begs to be remolded. It is in those times when the Spirit pulls back the veil a little more and we are overwhelmed by what we see and experience.

Oh, just a tiny glimpse of our Lord and Savior and we are humbled beyond words. Suddenly the cares of this world seem so trivial and the burdens we have carried slide right off. We have been with Christ and the effects of that visitation are life changing. Oh that we would spend more time sitting at His feet and gazing at His face! This is not eastern mysticism. This is a sanctified and hallowed place where the Spirit works His ministry within our hearts. This is where the purist of worship comes forth with the Spirit as our Worship Leader. And this is where we are once again surrendered to Christ as our only Lord. Prayer is a colossal gift of grace. No one deserves it but few truly practice it.

After the Industrial Revolution many cultures began to be transfixed on material things and earthly success even more than before. It was now possible through hard work and inventions to elevate one’s earthly existence and be surrounded by material comforts. And in that process work and recreation became the two standards by which people measured their life and happiness. The country known as America was founded upon the entrepreneurial spirit, and the Revolutionary War itself was over money. And once America was free from the bondage of England’s taxes it experienced prosperity like no other in history.

And as prosperity and material accoutrements grew among the people the time people would spend in prayer was depleted. In fact prayer now became almost non-existent in the Sunday gatherings except for a few token prayers offered by one of the church leaders. And prayer in the lives of church members dwindled down until it is now an embarrassment to our God. And most people who even do pray do it quickly and at convenient times. The times which call men to separate themselves and spend elongated times before God have all but vanished. And yet every church still claims to believe in prayer. That is such a hypocrisy. And in a stunning display of self affirmation most churches even teach about prayer from time to time but still prayer remains a token among them.

Preachers are supposed to be given to prayer and the ministry of the Word. But most western pastors spend much time on the phone, much time a lunches with others, much time in church meetings, much time on golf courses, much time planning, much time at staff meetings, and much time looking for sermons. But if the truth were known just how much time the average pastor spends in prayer that man might be considered a heathen.

And when we do not labor in prayer and sacrifice other endeavors in order to pray than we reject God’s presence and power and we openly reveal that we believe we can do all things through our own strength. And what difference do we have from those who do not know Christ? And by living for ourselves we have forfeited the most vital and life changing power every offered to a believer. How many baptized church members have no idea what it means to be in and experience the very presence of the Lord? How many believe that God comes only through good worship songs and He comes in a little better when those songs go up a key?

Let us be honest since we do not wish to lie to God. The cares of this world have done battle against the prayer lives of God’s people and through many decades the cares have muscled out any fervency and sacrifice in prayer. And the results have been disastrous and widespread. Like a plague, the results of a lack of prayer have forced the church to resort to all kinds of entertainment and new and exciting and false teachings. Instead of the power of prayer the church now feeds upon the power of personality and the power of nationalism and the power of the ecclesiastical construct. And now the well oiled church machine is started up every Sunday morning and cranks out a service which satisfies the multitudes for another week. That is not the Christian faith; that is a religious machine.

But the prayer closet remains open for all who desire to meet and even dine with the Risen Christ. Imagine Jesus came back to earth for a week. And like Willy Wonka He sent out only one hundred invitations for believers to attend a dinner in His honor. And imagine you were one of the one hundred who received an invitation. But the dinner would be 1000 miles away from where you lived. Now I ask you, if you truly believed it was the real Jesus who invited you would you think it was too much of a journey. Would you think the expense of travelling would be too great to go? Or would you do anything you needed to do in order to get to that dinner? Of course you would walk if you had to in order to see and dine with Jesus.

Well that invitation has been given to all true believers. Jesus has offered an open invitation to His followers to come and dine with Him. And you and I have received that invitation. Do we talk about? Do we teach about it? Do we reminisce about it? Do we agree that it is wonderful? Do we make plans over and over to go? Or do we actually go and dine with the Risen Christ? You see this issue of prayer is more than just a perfunctory exercise which can find a convenient slot in our busy lives. And then when we say a few words we say “Amen” and walk away feeling like we have fulfilled a religious obligation.

True prayer takes place in the realm of the Spirit. It is a great mystery that is filled with glory. There is much we cannot know about prayer this side of heaven. But His presence, like the shekinah that dwelt between the cherubim, reveals itself when we pray. This is not transcendental meditation. This is not astro-projection. This is a profound sacredness which we have carelessly called prayer. It is a meeting on earth between He who dwells in the throne room of heaven and His pilgrim follower. The Lord’s Prayer begins with “Hallowed be Thy name”. Prayer is a time for worship and bowing before the Risen Majesty and allowing His presence to change your heart. It is a glorious mystery and it should be what we crave. The place of true prayer in many ways is a true season of escape from this temporal world and transports us into the eternal realm. And although we still have this clothing of flesh our inward man is awakened with spiritual life when we are in His presence. Besides life eternal with Christ in heaven, the Word of God and prayer are the two greatest gifts of grace.

Bibles have made a lot of money for people. But since prayer is not a financial commodity it remains an historical curiosity. The carnal man never realizes that the treasures of Christ await him in the prayer closet. So instead of Christ he seeks wealth, political power, national allegiance, and material goods. But there are a few, a very few, who know that He from whose face the worlds fled, meets with His own around the world in the secret place of the Almighty called prayer.

But before you enter into that place you must go with humility, brokenness, and a sense of your need of Him and His grace. And when you have a true visitation of His glorious presence and His all consuming holiness you should be shaken and changed by this incredible truth -

He desired to meet with you. Selah.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Blind Side of Discernment


One of the many, many things that is unsavory about politics is how each side can viciously attack the other when some scandal or shortcoming is exposed. And the sides just as viciously defend basically the same shortcomings or scandal when it occurs within their camp. It is predicable and hypocritical. The word “by-partisan” is a joke when it comes to politics. When examining the other side there is 20/20 vision, but when evaluation their own side the eyes go blind. This is how it has always been and it reveals the fallen heart of man as well as the vacuous nature of politics.

Within the evangelical community we have what is known as the discernment wing. There are thousands of blogs and newsletters and books and sermons which deal specifically with the slide to apostasy within the community of faith on many different levels. Although my blog deals with such things frequently I do not consider myself primarily a discerner. I am a pastor at heart. But I do speak out about the emergent church and the purpose driven model and false teachers from Joel Osteen to Rob Bell to Rick Warren and everywhere in between. But there are literally many thousands of men and women who consider themselves as discerners or a catch-all moniker a “watchman”.

Many of these men and women do a very good job of exposing error and falsehoods within the church. I have benefited from such information many times and I am sure others have as well. It is impossible to know all about everything as it pertains to false teachers and false teachings. These days many things come aboard very subtly and slowly infiltrate God’s truth until it has been changed. And many of these evil spirits look and sound very spiritual and sincere. We need discernment in these days of itching ears and false teachers.

But there is a blind side to all this discernment. You will be hard pressed to find discernment sites which openly rebuke and repent of things they themselves do or are in some way deficient. Where are the posts about how our prayer lives are an affront to Christ? Where are the discerning voices crying aloud about our lack of love? Where are the discernment posts that expose us for the hedonists we have become? I am not speaking about the liberal and the emergent and the mega church crowd. I am speaking about us. Yes, us.

Does discernment stop at the door that has our name inscribed upon it? Are we immune from an authentic and painful rebuke as it pertains to our own spiritual walk? Is discernment about error only for the Osteens and Warrens but we subtly give ourselves a clean bill of health just because we know the approved list of false teachers? Let us be frank. If we see clearly the sins of others but are measured and even blind to the depth of our own spiritual need then we have become politicians who are adept as castigating the other side but circle the wagons to defend our own orthodox camp.

And that kind of discernment, albeit true and beneficial in warning about wolves, is also detrimental to our own pursuit of Christlikeness. In fact, in many ways the evil one uses our own needed discernment against us. As we see spiritual apostasy, and as we are able to identify and reject Biblical error, there arises within us a sort of self righteous contentment and reinforcement. And feeding upon our discernment about others we lose the passion and pursuit of Christ which should be filled with personal humility and a steady diet of repentance. While we call Osteen and Warren and Driscoll to repentance we stand in great need of repentance ourselves.

This is serious issue because it is a clever deception and it also becomes a debilitating influence upon us all. To whom much is given much is also required. So we who by God’s grace have had our eyes opened to many things must never divert those same eyes from seeing and addressing our own spiritual errors. I do not speak primarily about doctrine although we have become very selective about our doctrines. But in general we have allowed ourselves great latitude about our own spiritual condition. We can copy and paste some exhortation from a dead man of God or some devotional from a Puritan and we enjoy it. But do we strive and labor to enter into that which we paste? While we rehearse the commitment exhibited by Wesley against the shallow nothingness of the modern preacher are we ourselves cut to the quick and go before the Lord in sincere repentance?

Oh that God would set us free from ourselves! Oh that our hearts would be pure before Him and not filled with all kinds of self affirming sin which shackles our walk before Him. Oh to be so filled with His Spirit that we could rebuke in His love without any hint of self righteousness. Oh that the Spirit could hold up a spiritual mirror that would reduce us to the abject servants we should be. Oh that we could experience the kind of humility which breaks us completely and remakes us in the mold of our Suffering Servant. Oh that God would set us free from ourselves. Yes, that man in the mirror has been my most relentless enemy and how many times dear God have I embraced him and not You? And have I not felt smug so often because I am not like those liberal doctrinal miscreants. And how many times when I do rebuke those who need rebuke do I delight in the affirming comments on my blog or FB page and I walk away feeling so good about myself? Oh if the truth were known would I not be deeply embarrassed before men and yet I am not embarrassed before You?

Why do I not speak with great eloquence about my own sin? Why can I hide behind my written doctrines and yet just Your Sermon on the Mount is a monumental indictment of my discipleship. Lord, I so often play the harlot in my heart. It is no secret to You and yet I am able to set it aside and speak to others? How often do my words about others hide the apathy I so often exhibit about following in Your steps? I do not wish to become immobilized by my sorrow or my confession about my own sins and shortcomings. But I do wish to be personally surrendered to all of You. I know I need more time with You and with a contrite heart to carefully walk the path upon which You walked. I abhor the self righteousness which crops up in my heart and which can so easily be covered by the sins of others. It is all to my shame.

And I reach out to all my brethren who do the work of God in the area of discernment. Let us, not just them, fall on our faces before our Wonderful Redeemer and cry out to Him in confession and repentance. Let us allow the Spirit to light a fire in our hearts which consumes our flesh and burns away all that displeases Him. Can we not pursue with abandon and great vigor a desire to be like Jesus? Is not that the greatest calling of all? And if we turn our discerning hearts toward ourselves will we not see that the little foxes have been given such license and we have played the fools? Look and see! The evil one has distracted us from our holy calling even while we were doing a service to the body of Christ.

I bow before the Risen Christ as a dead man yet filled with worship. But oh to be like Him! OH TO BE LIKE JESUS! When I worship Him and experience the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and as that same Spirit has given me such gracious glimpses of the Lamb of God, I wonder what it would be like to be like Him in thought, word, and deed. No wonder I am not asked about the hope which lies within me. No wonder my life does not yield such incandescence that those lost in darkness must either be drawn to Him or shield their eyes and turn away. So how is it I can walk in this world with the lost all around me seeing or feeling nothing? There should be a word more potent than repentance for ones such as I.

Release the hounds and uncover our nakedness! We have made holiness a doctrinal word and not a broken pursuit. We have defined love is ways which we have already met. We have presented grace in embarrassing words of men’s theological acumen. We have worshiped the Bible and rebelled against its teachings. We have talked about hell with dry eyes and a doctrinal hubris which must make the angels ashamed. We have patted each other on the back as if we have offered anything which actually cost us anything. We have created words like “orthodox” or “fundamental” or “Spirit-filled” in order to elevate ourselves in our own eyes. And we have taken the Lovely One who gave us everything we are or ever hope to be and we have made Him some doctrinal marionette who dances to our American lifestyle and approves our compromised hearts.

And we have taken lost sinners, made them repeat some words, and then openly lied to them. And ordained preachers stand relentlessly behind pulpits and spew damnable lies and caress the flesh of their listeners. We have mocked the Holy One and used His name to support our own agendas. We have built large and advanced buildings by leveraging debt through the same institutions we claim are not of God. And we have made the gatherings a place of fund raising and theatrics and announcements and a few precious minutes of worship and a few precious seconds of prayer. And men and women who have not spent one moment with God, and men and women who are practicing adultery, and men and women who have never known God feel right at home and blessed. What kind of unholy travesty are we attempting to hoodwink God with?

It all has become such a game. And this post is a self exhortation that makes me know that I cannot, I must not, you must not allow our uncovering of the false to satisfy our calling to the true. We should not sit down in the stagnation of orthodoxy and wait for Jesus to come. In fact, the church has been sitting and waiting for so long we need a revival just to be enlightened to all the things about which we have no knowledge because they have been lost to us. And prayer, its value – its practice – its sacrifice – its calling – its holiness – its power – its life changing essence, has all but been lost except for a few convenient scraps. Our wicked generation cannot bear to retreat from entertainment or work or the business of our earthly lives in order to seek His face without time restraints or a passion which captures the entirety of our minds.

I agree with and appreciate so much of the discernment that flows freely among those whose eyes have been opened. But just being against false teachings, and just being non-violent, and just being against nationalism, and just being pro-life, and just being for Biblical marriage, is not nearly enough. We are on a path which leads to Him. Read the Sermon on the Mount and see how many of the things I just mentioned are in there. Most are not. But there are a wealth of commands and exhortations and teachings which have all but been ignored but which were spoken by the One we claim as Lord.

It is time for repentance and a new and vigorous house cleaning among the “orthodox” community. And we who have Biblical systematic theologies must enlarge our coasts and see that to be a disciple of Jesus requires more than some written affirmations. It requires our lives.

Lk.14: 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

And after we set out on that course perhaps we can discern others much better.