Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Jesus is looking for a hot date

John and Ashley had a great first date. Dinner under candle light. A walk by the ocean under the moon light. They talked for hours about life, love, and everything in between. John was walking Ashley back to her house when he started hinting he might want a kiss to end the night. Ashley wasn't so sure and smiled the subject away. When they finally arrived at her house all the lights were out and it appeared that everyone was asleep for the night. John leaned against the door-jamb and looked longingly into Ashley's eyes. Using his smoothest, most charming voice he asked, "Didn't you have a good time?" Ashley answered back quickly, "Oh, yes! I... I just want my first kiss to be special. To be about love, not just feelings." Thinking quickly John responded, "That's just it. I think I love you more than anyone I've ever known. I just want to show you." Ashley didn't say anything. She was looking at the ground not wanting to hurt John's feelings and risk not getting to see him again. John tried on more time, "It's just  a kiss. It would mean a lot to me." At that moment the porch light came on and the door opened. Ashley's little sister was standing there looking half asleep but said firmly, "Dad says just kiss him. And if you won't that I should. And if I don't want to do it he will come down and kiss him himself. But will ask him to please quit leaning against the intercom button?"

I am having a hard time figuring out why people who claim the name of Jesus don't seem to understand or know that Jesus was very clear in what he was here to do for us and what he wanted to us to do for him. I've heard the Salvation by Grace side. And the Forgiveness by works side. And then there is the Jesus Will Save Everyone No Matter What They Do. That one just makes me laugh. And a whole slew of ideas in between. You would think that what God wants for us and from us would be the easy answer and the how would be the hard one. But for some reason everyone has got this backwards. Everyone is so sure on prayer, worship, church, giving, missions, and personal study. But hell would freeze over if you ever got the same answer from two people about what the Gospel is and what the Gospel requires. It's like knowing what to do while in school, but not knowing how to apply.

I have some shocking news. Salvation isn't by grace or works...technically. Jesus said the first and greatest commandment is love him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. He also said if you love me you will obey me. So loving Jesus means obedience to the commandments. Whoa! That sounds an awful lot like the Old Covenant! You can hold that order and the chips too, right? But then Jesus also went on to say that once you have done everything he told you to do to call yourselves unworthy servants for you have only done your duty. Ugh... this is getting confusing. Are we under the law or aren't we? Is it grace or obedience? Earned or free? The thing about Jesus and the Bible as a whole is that you have to read it as a whole not in parts. Sounds exhausting, but there is no other way to go about it. And don't trust anyone else to do it for you. Just because  they say they have been to Bible college and read it cover to cover does not mean they are not lying, do not believe them. Read it for yourself and get to know the Shepherds voice. That way no matter who you are listening to you will not be led astray because you will know if it comes from Him or not.

Thankfully, Jesus didn't leave us hanging on this most fundamental, elementary step. The answer is simple, it's just not easy. And He did that on purpose. Those who seek will find. But those who do not seek will not find. No one stumbles upon the truth of God without effort. He doesn't allow it. I'll give you the simple run down, but it is up to you to search out the truth of this. You must know it for yourself in your heart. Knowledge of the head seems the same as knowledge of the heart, but it is not and it is a pseudo foundation to stand upon and you will fall when the storm comes. The truth is it is grace and works. Jesus requires that we give Him everything and He gives us everything in return. Jesus is offering us a trillion dollars in gold and we are staring at him blankly and saying, "I don't have anywhere close to a trillion dollars!" and He replies, "Okay, give me everything in your pockets." and then we pull out a crumpled dirty five dollar bill and he gives us the full reward. People get all fussy about those who say we must do things to qualify for salvation and say, "You can't earn the gift of salvation!" That's true. What you bring to the table is basically worthless. These say that you don't have to do anything to be saved except to believe in Jesus. Don't you know that even the demons believe, and shudder? The other side of the fence gets all fussy when you say that it isn't our actions that give us entrance to the throne room. They say that our actions garner us rewards in heaven. That is also true. But God doesn't owe you anything. It is His generous nature that awards you your rewards. Believe me, you do not want Jesus bringing out the balance sheets of your life and paying out accordingly. The beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair. Even if you lived a perfectly correct life it would not equal the value of the trade that Jesus is making. Only the priceless God being offered in payment for the gift is sufficient. You owed the bank. He stepped in and payed your bill. Now He expects you to give-pay Him everything you have got even though it will fall far short of the balance originally due.

If you correlate yourself with the name of Jesus at all it behooves you to find out the truth and sweep of what this means. Don't forget the words of Jesus in Revelations, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.  Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent." You will know a tree by it's fruit; and salt water and fresh water can not come the same stream. The secret and mystery of salvation is passion. Passionate pursuit of Jesus and all that He is. Jesus judges the motivations of the heart. You can do right with the wrong motives and be condemned. Or you can do wrong with the right motives and be forgiven. But the key is to quit lying to yourself about why you do what you do and your actions will start to change dramatically. Seek the truth, repent, and never look back. We are the Bride and He is the Bridegroom. Jesus is looking for a hot date. I will leave you with this simple, but profound mathematical truth:

         1 x 1 = 1, valuable.
 (-1) x (-1) = 1, workable.
    1 x (-1) = -1, worthless.

Feel free to comment or ask questions! 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

No such thing as free

This subject has been weighing on my heart for a long time. I have prayed and prayed and prayed for clarity from the Holy Spirit for longer than I can remember. And God has honored my pleas. I know that the initial reaction to this for most will be to reject it. But I plead with you ask the Lord to open your eyes, ears, and mind. This a foundational concept. More and more are starting to see that there is something inherently wrong with the Church but have a very hard time pinning down exactly what it is. It is because these spiritual foundation stones that we have laid down in our hearts were either not the proper stone or they were laid improperly and so everything built upon them was skewed and wrong even though the materials with which we built on top of the foundation were good. Not everything is as it seems. Sometimes this is because Jesus used double meanings for the things He taught and other times it is because wolves in sheep's clothing presented preconceived notions before presenting the Word and so altered the understanding for the listeners. Here is an example of the first type of double meaning:

1) "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days."

Though the pharisees scoffed at this claim, we now know that Jesus was not talking about the physical temple, but His body and His coming resurrection. This is an example of the second kind:

2) "And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification."

I don't know who had the idea to translate this Greek word as free, but it is grossly misrepresented and has lead to an entire generation standing upon a falsehood. The Greek word here is χάρισμα or charisma. It is the same word we use today that means:
  1. Compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others.
  2. A divinely conferred power or talent.
The literal definition of the Greek word from a theological standpoint is:

           A gift of grace, an undeserved favor.

The pharisees didn't want to understand Jesus, I am sure, but I am also sure that when He said He would rebuild the temple in three days His disciples didn't dismiss Him. They probably thought He was about to either do something mind blowing or He must have meant something else and they just were not getting it, as happened often. It is here that the idea of the free gift of God has always left me scratching my head because it doesn't match the very clear things that Jesus also said such as:

"For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?...In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple."

This doesn't sound free does it? This sounds costly, very costly! And what about the series of parables that Jesus told about the Pearl of Great Price, The Hidden Treasure, The Lost Coin? These all speak of people recklessly abandoning their lives and giving everything so that they could possess this infinity more valuable treasure. It was at this point that I did the word study on this word free or charisma.

This is a case of mistranslation, many translations do not even include the word free in the verse from Romans, but simply render it: gift. But I think gift doesn't adequately describe what it is Jesus did for us and gave us. I believe the word should not be translated without price or price-less, but priceless or incalculable or may favorite that the thesaurus brought up: worth a king's ransom. I don't think it could be said any better!

It seems the Church has thought that Jesus was too hard of a man and that we shouldn't make it so hard on people. To all the disciples He asked them to leave their business, wives, and probably children without even looking back. The rich young ruler apparently had lived a very good and moral life. But what did Jesus say that he had to do to receive eternal life? Did He say be charitable? Did He say give 10%? 20%? 50%? No, he said give everything you own away, come follow me and you will have eternal life. We have betrayed the people and have become the perverse and adulterous generation by allowing people to simply sit before a well groomed speech set to moving music and to simply come forward, ask Jesus to forgive their sins, come into their heart, be baptized and so be saved. Have we so easily forgotten what Peter said when asked what we had to be saved?

"Repent and be baptized..."

or Jesus and John the Baptists message while they walked the Earth

"Repent! For the kingdom of Heaven is near!"

How have we so recklessly forgotten the words of the prophet Jeremiah?

"No one repents of his wickedness, saying, "What have I done?" Each pursues his own course like a horse charging into battle."

or Moses' charge in Deuteronomy

"When such a person person hears the words of this convent, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks, "I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way... The Lord will never be willing to forgive him; his wrath and zeal will burn against that man."

I have heard some speak of the New Covenant as if it were a one sided promise. That Jesus will forgive all our sins and let us share in His inheritance if we just do the simple Billy Graham dance. Doesn't matter what happens between here and death, that's what grace is for. That is a lie. How worthless we have made Jesus' sacrifice if we think that the God of all creation who gave everything to be with us would trade it for nothing.

The Old Covenant wasn't flawed or evil. It was simply a typology, symbolic so that when the real thing came we would recognize it. The New Covenant is actually the same as the Old Covenant except that the symbolic parts were replaced by reality. There were three parts to the Old Covenant or Law

1)Laws of Cleansing
2)Laws of Ceremony or Sacrifice
3)Laws of Righteousness

The first two were replace by real cleansing and real sacrifice the third Law still remains. Remember at this point Moses' words when reading the Law to the Israelites,

"Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach."

When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was He replied,

 “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  

And this where most people stop, but Jesus goes on:

All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Obviously, Jesus abolished the Laws of Sacrifice and Cleansing. So what are these laws that describe what it means to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself? The Laws of Righteousness. And, Jesus gave us a definition of the word love in John 14,

“If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching...He who does not love me will not obey my teaching."

Love is not an emotion, it is an action. And with Jesus, love equals obedience. But as Paul tells us the Law or obedience cannot save you. And yet, it is still a requirement. The deal was always the same, "You give me everything you have got and I will give you everything I have got."

Our righteousness is rags before the Lord and so He has said, "Trade me you rags for my fine linen."
Our spiritual treasure is filth and manure and so He has said, "Trade me your filth for my fine gold."

Remember this, we have no rights before Jesus. We have no right to march into the judgement room and demand payment, our inheritance. This is what Jesus had to say about our walk with Him,

"So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'"

The starting point is doing everything He asks and then we beg for mercy. His gift is not cost-less, it is costly. It is not without price, it is priceless. We must trade Him everything for the gift. No such thing as free.

Feel free to comment or ask questions! 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The deal never changed, only the terms

I have started a practice in my own time that I think would be very helpful for all Christians in understanding the personality, loves, hates, and desires of Jesus. I read Old Testament passages and insert the name Jesus anytime Lord, God or any other name for God is used. This will dramatically change your outlook and understanding of the man Jesus. I don't believe this is blasphemous as Jesus himself said, "...that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." and John said about Him
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

Jesus is the God of the Old Testament. So with this in mind I want to quote a passage from Deuteronomy 29:19-28. I know this is kind of long, but please stick with me, this is important,

    " When such a person hears the words of this oath, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way.” This will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry.   Jesus will never be willing to forgive him; his wrath and zeal will burn against that man. All the curses written in this book will fall upon him, and Jesus will blot out his name from under heaven. Jesus  will single him out from all the tribes of Israel for disaster, according to all the curses of the covenant written in this Book of the Law.
 Your children who follow you in later generations and foreigners who come from distant lands will see the calamities that have fallen on the land and the diseases with which Jesus has afflicted it.  The whole land will be a burning waste of salt and sulfur—nothing planted, nothing sprouting, no vegetation growing on it. It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which Jesus overthrew in fierce anger.  All the nations will ask: “Why has Jesus done this to this land? Why this fierce, burning anger?”
 And the answer will be: “It is because this people abandoned the covenant of Jesus, the God of their fathers, the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt. They went off and worshiped other gods and bowed down to them, gods they did not know, gods he had not given them. Therefore Jesus' anger burned against this land, so that he brought on it all the curses written in this book. In furious anger and in great wrath Jesus uprooted them from their land and thrust them into another land, as it is now.”

Jesus said of himself, "I have not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it." and concerning his disciples, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."

Jesus death on the cross did not abolish all law or any law, but replaced it with a different law. And what is Jesus' new law? "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength" and the second, "Love your neighbor as yourself." All commands rest on these two things. So if this is what Jesus commands us now and this is also a summation of the Old Testament Law, what changed? The terms. In the Old Testament you had to follow the Law and love Jesus to the best of your ability and offer animal sacrifices to atone for your sin. In the New Testament you are to follow the law and  love Jesus to the best of your ability and Jesus' blood atones for sins once and for all. The difference is in the Old Testament the sacrifices never paid the penalty for sin they only pushed it back until a sufficient sacrifice could be made, Jesus' life. The difference between the New Covenant and the Old Covenant was that Law had many dietary, sanitary, and ceremonial commands and practices. These were all typologies so that when the real thing came they would recognize it. But the laws concerning righteousness never changed. Righteousness is still righteousness. And what God command in the Old Testament He still commands in our day. It has always been saved by grace. He has always accepted His righteous ones(Enoch, Moses, Elijah) that "loved him with all their heart, all their soul, all their mind, and all their strength" and "loved their neighbor as themselves". The rule has always been love me with all you've got, trust in me for everything and I will forgive you the rest. And the things that made Jesus furious with rage still make Him furious with rage today, make no mistake. Loving Jesus with all that you are was the ticket to heaven all along.

People often wonder why Jesus didn't address many social issues that plague our society today such as homosexuality, social norms, and politics. Many assume that since He didn't talk about them He must not care about them. The reason Jesus didn't reinterpret the whole of theology while on Earth is because He still stands by His words that He sent though the prophets.

I have never met a Christian that would claim Jesus didn't command us to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength." and "Love your neighbor as yourself." Everyone agrees these are good and right. Where the division comes is the interpretation of these. But we were given the interpretation, remember? "All the Law and the Prophets rest on these two." The Old Testament is Jesus speaking.

Don't think that you can say with the man from above, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way.”  Jesus gave everything for us. He expects us to do the same. Never forget:

"You are not your own; you were bought at a price.'

Feel free to comment or ask questions! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Milk Is The Cause of Cancer!

My wife and I were talking the other night about repentance and what it really means to repent. I understand this concept very well in my own heart. As the saying goes, "He who is forgiven much, loves much." But I often struggle to articulate the degree and severity that Jesus meant when He said, "Repent! For the kingdom of Heaven is near!" The Holy Spirit gave me a parable of sorts that night that says it more clearly than I have ever heard:

Let's say that I was able to definitively prove to you that the drinking of milk other than human was the direct cause of cancer as much as blood is the vehicle for transferring AIDS. Would you continue to drink milk? At all? Would you say, "I love milk, but I know it's bad for me, so I will start weening myself off slowly. This month I will drink only 10 glasses. Next month I will drink 9. And so on." This person would either have to be insane or they didn't actually believe the truth in the beginning. But it is true! So what would be the proper response? Stop drinking milk! Now! Then, I would start finding out what was made with dairy. Anything that had any dairy in it would be cut out of my diet.

This is the difference between a Paul-like conversion and the majority of 'Christians' I meet today. Many treat sin and purity flippantly. They assume that their life operates on their own time-table. They use grace as a scapegoat for sin.

"Sure you want to do good things and stay away from the bad. But we are all forgiven in the end anyway. Don't be so uptight about it. Enjoy your life and trust in Jesus"

These thoughts pass through a lot more heads than speak it. But there is an increasing number who are starting to speak it as well. Repentance means going out on the battlefield and defeating the enemy head on at the outset. And once the battlefield has been won you go throughout the towns and countryside routing out the enemy, leaving none alive. This is what repentance and the Christian walk should look like. Yes, you will be under constant attack from the flesh until the day you die. But you should be defeating the massive frontal enemy at the outset.

If a drug addict was trying to get clean the first step would be... stop taking drugs! Then he would begin routing out the causes of his drug addiction. The dealers, the co-dependents, the enablers. Then he would dig deeper and rout out the emotional causes of his drug addiction: depression, hurt, bitterness, regret, selfishness. In this way he would win the lifelong battle, but it begins by not taking the drugs! He can't say, "This month I will only take two hits of crack a day. And next month only one hit a day." That would be ridiculous! Everyone knows that wouldn't work and no one would believe he was serious about getting clean.

We all face the same battle and demon in varying ways. Stop sinning! Then find and cut out the things that make your sin possible. Then find out why you are committing the sin in the first place. This is the process of sanctification. This is holiness. Remember Jesus' words,

"If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."

Friday, November 11, 2011

Repent! For the Kingdom of Heaven is near!

"Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near."

Solomon had it right, "There is nothing new under the sun." What has been will be again. And it is. Jesus first coming was heralded by many prophets, but one man in particular paved the way, John the Baptist. His message was of repentance, commitment and purification. The Messiah came and conquered the world through spiritual victory and is coming again to conquer all kingdoms physically. But there is someone who will be coming in between these two comings that Christians have been anxiously looking for as well, the  Antichrist. The Beast. The abomination that causes desolation. And I believe his appearance is immanent.

Biblical prophecy is being set up and fulfilled around us everyday. First, I want to address a subject that is under much contention. The physical nation of Israel. Some say they are still God's favorites. Some say they are irrelevant. And many say a lot of things in between. There is no doubt that God favored and was fighting on their side in the Old Testament. Jesus definitely gave them the land of Israel as their inheritance. The question is was this promise nullified or revoked when the New Covenant was ushered in or because of the Jew's rejection of Jesus through His death on the cross. Generally speaking, most have no scriptural basis for this belief. At least I have never heard of any and don't think any can be found because of Paul's words to the Romans,

"I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! ... God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew... Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! rather because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious... I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that your may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved... for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable."

Israel's inheritance was not apart of the Old Covenant. It was an gift that stemmed from Abraham's faith and faithfulness. Israel was carried off into captivity and occupied many times, but none of these revoked their ownership of the land. Israel was even occupied in Jesus' day by the Romans. But as in Elijah's day, He has always kept a faithful remnant for Himself. And the promise and the inheritance is not revoked for the faithful on account of the unfaithful. The geographic land of Israel belongs to the Jew's ,the natural sons and the adopted sons, and it is where He will return to. It is where he will set His city. And He will fight for it.

"This is the word of the Lord concerning Israel. The Lord, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the spirit of man within him, declares:  “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem.  On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.  On that day I will strike every horse with panic and its rider with madness,” declares the Lord. “I will keep a watchful eye over the house of Judah, but I will blind all the horses of the nations.  Then the leaders of Judah will say in their hearts, ‘The people of Jerusalem are strong, because the Lord Almighty is their God.’
 “On that day I will make the leaders of Judah like a firepot in a woodpile, like a flaming torch among sheaves. They will consume right and left all the surrounding peoples, but Jerusalem will remain intact in her place.
 “The Lord will save the dwellings of Judah first, so that the honor of the house of David and of Jerusalem’s inhabitants may not be greater than that of Judah.  On that day the Lord will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the Angel of the Lord going before them.  On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.

I say all this to get to this: I believe the Beast and his false prophet are walking the Earth. Jesus it the descendant of the child of the promise, Issac. The false Christ will be a descendant of the false son, the illegitimate son, Ishmael. There has been some very alarming events in the news lately. This is the most disturbing:

"Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are convinced that the End of Days has come. They believe the Shia messiah known as the “Twelfth Imam” or the “Mahdi” will appear soon to establish a global Islamic kingdom known as the caliphate. What’s more, they believe the way to hasten the coming of the Twelfth Imam is to annihilate Israel (which they call the “Little Satan”), and the United States (which they call the “Great Satan”). We should not, therefore, be surprised that Iran is probing for weaknesses in American intelligence and homeland security. Khamenei told Iranians in July 2010 that he personally met with the Twelfth Imam. He also claimed to be the personal representative of the Mahdi on earth, and said all Muslims must “obey him.” Meanwhile, Western intelligence agencies say he continues to work with Ahmadinejad and the Iranian military to develop nuclear warheads and the ballistic missiles to deliver them.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/11/07/why-irans-top-leaders-believe-that-end-days-has-come/#ixzz1dPj0f400

There is a lot of time spent studying Biblical eschatology(end times study), and there should be. But take some time and read some Islamic eschatology sometime.  It is eerily similar to ours. Governments overthrown. Evil eradicated. Righteousness reigns. Messiah. God  reigning on earth. You would think you were reading Revelations. Except the names and winners are changed. You have to understand that the Antichrist and false prophet are not going to be against Christ. Satan never wanted to oppose Jesus. He wanted to be Jesus and have everything that He has. And He has been mimicking him ever since the beginning.

The world is so interconnected that globalization is the only option at this point for the politicians. We are in a bubble here in America. We see Islam and Muslims as fringe and obscure. And we still have a sense of Nationality and freedom. But

"As of 2009, over 1.5 billion or about 23% of the world population are Muslims.[1] Of these, around 62% live in Asia-Pacific, 20% in the Middle East and North Africa, 15% in Sub-Saharan Africa and around 2% in Europe & Americas" - Wikipedia

And this was in 2009. Islam is sweeping the world. I've often wondered why the U.S. is not mentioned in Biblical prophecy. We have such a instrumental place in the world. We are the concentration of the vast majority of wealth and power. We are said to be founded on Christian principles. Most Americans probably cringe inside every time the hear the word Islam or Muslim after 9/11. We know that the southern half of the U.S., at least, is armed to the teeth. How on Earth could this be true?: "All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast". I think Americans have demonstrated, despite our failings and disregard for Jesus' commandments, that we would fight to the death over our freedom. So how would America ever be in submission to an Islamic, Antichrist, world government? Maybe it is because we are not here. Everyone knows how much Muslims, and particularly Iraq, hate Israel and the Jews. But this fact is mysteriously absent from the headlines: Israel is the "little Satan" to them. America is the "Great Satan". And when all this World War lll starts going down who do you think will be their first target? God promised to fight on Israel's behalf and to secure His kingdom on that land. There was no such promise made for this land.

Be watchful. Be ready. Repent! Do not give the Devil a foothold. Remember  Jesus' words,

"Do not worry about what you will eat, or what you will drink, or what you will wear. Do not worry about your life."

"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me"

"If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints."

There is a great delusion coming and is already showing it's head today. Your enemy, the Devil, will use any and every tactic to devour you and get you turn away from Jesus. Purify your lives and be ready to give anything and everything for His name. Repent! For the kingdom of Heaven is near!

Feel free to comment or ask questions! 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Baby, I was born this way!

When Jesus created us and placed us in the garden he said that we were very good. We were ignorant and immature and yet, He was pleased. And then came the fall. We added knowledge to the mix and the the deal changed. The standard changed. We now had to follow a strict set of rules and guidelines to be righteous. None of us could do that though. That is not what we were created for. We were sheep entering a cheetah race. There was no way we could ever be complete and faultless. This is what the Old Covenant meant: we would have to be everything to anything and everyone at all times. We would have to have every answer right, every step right. Perfect wisdom that not only accomplishes His purposes in the moment, but for all eternity. We were not  created for this. This is why no one would every be able to fulfill it. The Law was a description of God and so God would have to fulfill it. And Jesus did. Then He gave us a New Covenant.

What is a covenant? Is it a free give-away flyer in the mail? Is it a loose deal between friends? I think the best way to describe a Biblical covenant is to use the definition of the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant was not optional. And the standards and requirements were not different for anyone. What is the difference between the Old and the New Covenant? It is the standards and requirements. Let me give a parable of sorts to demonstrate these:

The Old Covenant was like a standardized test. You have to study, study, study. Take the test and if you pass your in. And everyone gets the same test. Except, it was a pass/fail test not a sliding grade. And that is where the mistake comes in. People grade themselves against the Law and get A's, B's, C's and so on. Only, if you get a 99%, you still fail. And the test is on the complete realm of knowledge and wisdom. Everything that ever was, is, and ever will be. We could never possibly know. And that is why  Jesus had to come take the test for us, because only God could ever be that.

The New Covenant is more like a track race. The catch though is that there isn't a start or a finish line. You can start wherever you are on the track and there is no finish line for you to cross. Your only job is to run. Many prefer the Old Covenant to the New Covenant because it gives them a standard to judge themselves on. That is self-righteousness and it pales in comparison to the righteousness that the Old Covenant describes. There is no way to grade yourself on the race, the New Covenant, because you can't show how far you've run or how long until you cross the finish line or even how well you are running compared to your fellow racers because they are not running on the same track as you, though you can still see them. It's only about how much passion you run with. Have you ever been to a High School gym class? Some are giving it their all. Some are merely participating. Some are not participating at all. Have you ever seen an Olympic track race. That look in their eye; that desire and passion that they run with is what Jesus is looking for. Does it matter how fast or how well you run? Not at all. Have you ever seen a Special Olympics track race. The faces are the same. The passion and desire is the same. The speed is not. That doesn't matter, because you are not judged on the Law and if you have perfection in athleticism. You are judged on how well you ran the race you are in. This is the same parable that Jesus told in the parable of the talents:

  “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’  “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’  “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’  “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’  “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’   “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Run with passion. Give it your all. Take the truth that you know and live it to the fullest. Like all good athletes, always be looking for a way to improve you technique and performance. Make your coach proud. But don't ever think that your performance will be approved because of the ground you have covered. You can never reach a certain point and rest or run with less drive. Your race will sometimes be fast and some times slow based on the terrain and heat around you, but always remember that it's not the speed and distance you cover, but the eagerness with which you run. This was the original purpose. This is what you were created for. You were born this way. Run!

Feel free to comment or ask questions! 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Clean out the rot from among you

     "Then an Israelite man brought to his family a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.  When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand  and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear through both of them—through the Israelite and into the woman’s body. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped."

          When did we stop believing that God disciplines those He loves? The modern thought among Christians is that sin was something of the Old Testament and that now days Jesus views it more as an inconvenience that He will tolerate until  He returns and makes all things new; that He will gently persuade someone as long as they want to be persuaded, but that He is a gentleman and will not force His desires and beliefs on us. According to this bunch,  all the punishments of the Old Testament were to atone for their sins, as if God didn't have a choice in the matter. He did love them and that is why Jesus came, so that He wouldn't have to be so harsh and demanding with us anymore. Consider this,

"Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."

"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God."

Jesus has standards. He desires purity. "Be Holy, as I am Holy". Holy doesn't mean perfect, it means set apart for a special purpose. "You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." and, "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters." The hot words of our generation are compromise and tolerance. These words are not in God's vocabulary. I'm not advocating preaching fire and brimstone or aggressiveness towards the world. This message, this language, is against those who call themselves Christians and live as if they were apart of this world. Remember Jesus words,

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth."

Did you see the word He used there? "I know your..." Not faith. Not beliefs. Deeds! How you act. These worldly Christians argue for mercy and say that Jesus doesn't hold their sin against them. But that is not what His mercy is for. When Jesus completed and did away with the Old Covenant He didn't leave it at that. He established a new one. Which means He does something for you and you do something for Him. Will He accept us at the judgement throne if we live worldly lives? No. He will tell us, "I never knew you!" Does this mean He will give up on us if we turn our backs on Him while still alive? Never! "If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself." So what does He do? He disciplines. "For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself..."

Is this eternal judgement? The final Judgement?

"...That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep."

If you sin against Him under the New Covenant He may strike you physically or He may even kill you to keep you from poisoning the rest of the fellowship and dishonoring His name. Or He may discipline you verbally through another believer like He did Peter through Paul.

"When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?"

So what should we do about the unfaithful among us? We were commanded in this respect as well,

"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector."

This is clear in it's command. Confront sin, rebuke your brothers and sisters in love, if they will not listen and change their ways put them out of your fellowship and treat them with hostility as you would someone who worships Satan or another false god because if they will not submit to Christ that is what they are. He demands purity and submission. It is not optional.

How strict should we be about this? How strongly should we hold to this? This brings us back to the passage that I opened with. Take a minute and go read the 25th chapter of Numbers, it's exciting. No censuses or genealogies, I promise. So here we have the Israelites gathered together as an assembly. They have just heard directly from God regarding their most recent sin and have been given a direct command. Moses and the elders are before the Tent of Meeting weeping and repenting when this guy walks right by them chatting it up with a prostitute. Not Moses, not Aaron, not Eleazar, but Phinehas gets up and says, "No way, this stops right here, right now, today." He then proceeds to follow the guy into his tent carrying a spear. And while the guy is on top of his hired lady friend he drives the spear through both of them. This appeases Jesus and then the plague lifts. It wasn't the Israelites gathering together that made His anger pass. It wasn't their repentance or contrite hearts. It was action. So what is the mercy that Jesus bartered for us for? For ignorance and immaturity. "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." If you didn't know any better or are new and weak, there is mercy. If you have been told or are a seasoned believer, there will not be mercy.

But this is not only about eternal consequences, it has application to the here and now. A day is coming when the Antichrist will be revealed and I believe it to be soon, certainly in my life time. He is not going to be obvious. He is going to be the best "wolf in sheep's clothing". We must be diligent and not allow impurity and compromise to be among us. "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." And devour us He will. If you think you are too strong or too wise to be deceived or devoured you make the greatest mistake in confrontation; underestimating you enemy. What makes a wall safe and secure? A strong foundation and quality construction. If we allow impurity in the materials or poor workmanship in the things that make up our life we will not be able to stand in the day of trouble. He will divide us and pit us against one another. And He will conquer us. And will there be mercy if the master comes and finds us defeated?

"But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— IF you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel."

Feel free to comment or ask questions! 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The duty of all Christians

What causes understanding? What causes salvation? Is it not the Lord and Him only?

"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth."

"He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn--and I would heal them."

The driving goal of the western 'church' for the last two-hundred years has been to enlighten the masses. We have heard unending sermons and discourses on scripture and theology. We have traveled to every corner of the world passing our seed to the masses. We write books, tracts, and blogs (couldn't leave myself out) about everything God said and everything we think He said. It has turned into a circus. Flashing lights, silver tongued preachers, moving music, and a healthy helping of guilt, or pardon me... conviction. And we are proud! "Look what my words did! What change! There used to be only 25 people in here. Now, 250!" But we don't claim that do we? It's not our words! It's God's words! (In a humble voice)"I am merely a vessel." (right hand over heart, chin lifted high) Mmm hmm... how noble. But the change never comes. Our 'church' is full of thieves, liars, and the sexually immoral. And we give them grace and mercy where the Lord does not. We make them believe that God accepts them just as they are. That the blood of Christ was spilled for this very purpose. That we could all be accepted as we are. And they believe it because they want to believe it. They don't really want to abandon the world and it's ways, they like, no love, the world and it's ways.

To those of you who have seen this truth and are left standing around wondering, "What should we be doing?" I have some good news. A Gospel to be sure. God doesn't need you to save anyone. God doesn't need you to convince anyone. God doesn't need you to lead anyone. That is all His job. And He does it well. One of the first things you have to understand is this: God doesn't want anyone that doesn't want Him. I know, this is a hard thing considering the lies the 'church' has been telling for a couple of hundred years now. "God doesn't wish that any should perish", but that doesn't mean He is some poor angst-filled teenage boy sitting outside His crushes house singing and professing His undying love to a closed window.

"The LORD's eyes scan the whole world to find those whose hearts are committed to him and to strengthen them."

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth."

The second part of the good news is that all God wants from you is your undivided, passionate, rapt attention. Your only job is to love the lord with everything you are and have, to be true to the revelation that you have at the moment, to have an open heart and mind, to testify to the truth and be a living example of the righteousness that is God's kingdom.

"Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

We can not even effect our own spiritual growth. It is all in the Lord's hands and His only. God gives the growth. The only thing we can do is trust in faith. Trust that He will provide for our needs(water, food, shelter); provide the wisdom we need, and provide soft hearts and open minds, and provide the growth. We struggle and claw our way forward through the darkness thinking we are making progress. We are like small babies wiggling and squirming trying to get our way when all we have to do is be still and trust so that our Father can carry us, feed us, protect and comfort us. Does this mean that we should not worry about purity, obedience, and sanctification? Not at all!

"Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."

But the mercy that Christ bartered for us was to cover the ignorance and immaturity that we display as we passionately and radically pursue Him, not willful disobedience and self-worship or self-centeredness. I will leave you with the words of Paul,

"I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."

Pursue the Truth, love the Truth, testify to the Truth and leave the rest up to the Lord. It's His kingdom and His Bride. He will be the one to redeem her and gather her to himself. We live in blind, happy faith and sit in amazement as Christ opens our minds, eyes, and ears and reveals the real world to us, His awesome power, and the works He has done and will do.

Feel free to comment or ask questions! 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Goodness redefined

"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."

Persecution is all around us. The Body that resides in the middle east and the far east is facing open, obvious persecution. But the Body in the west is suffering equally, but in a much more deceptive and tricky way. We are led away and enticed by the bribes of the Evil One and are assaulted with doubt about our circumstances and the nature of God. It is the same tactic that Satan used against Jesus when He was fasting in the desert and Adam and Eve in the garden.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

Though evil will reside in people if they give way to it, it is not the only way it operates. One of Satan's greatest tactics is not to out-rightly oppose us. An enemy in the open is easy to take a stand against. An faceless enemy is a far harder adversary, as the American military has found through the last fifty years all the way from Vietnam to Iraq. He darts in and out and draws fire on innocent civilians. This tactic causes the advancing force to either become heartless and cruel and slaughter the innocent with the enemy or to become disheartened and surrender the fight altogether. Satan has lodged such an attack on the free church of the west.

We know that the scriptures says,
"I have been young and now I am old, Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken Or his descendants begging bread." and yet Christians are starving all over the world.

"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?" and "You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." and yet, we pray and we pray for healing, provision, and direction and are not given it.

We are allowing Satan to interpret the scriptures for us. If God promises and does not fulfill, He is a liar. How can the scripture speak one thing and reality show us something altogether different? It is because we have forgotten what a good father is. Jesus calls us to come out from among them. He means this in many ways; spiritually, socially, physically, and intellectually. As Americans we desperately need to separate ourselves from the spiritual powers that manipulate our country in social and intellectual ways. We have been indoctrinated with the evil concepts of self-righteousness and worldly goodness. The courts tell us that we are not allowed to physically discipline our children or teach them intolerance of what the world calls good but the Lord calls evil. We have applied these principals to God and have negated what we know to be true of His character and the lengthy history of His interaction with His people, the Old Testament.

Something must be understood. The Law was given to restrict man, not God. The law is the definition of what God is. Satan's sin in Heaven was that he wanted to be God's equal, which is impossible as, "A servant is not greater than his master." When Adam and Eve broke God's command in the garden they were falling for the same delusion that possessed Satan. The Law was given to show that man could never equal God and that wasn't what He wanted for us to begin with. And so once the truth of our inequality had been firmly established through thousands of years of history of man under the Law, Christ came and fulfilled that covenant so that He could join with His people in the way He meant to originally; through submission and trust, aka faith.

God was not and never will be restricted by the Law as He is the Law. And He, "is the same yesterday and today and forever." Do you not know that, " the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." God never stopped loving Israel. Not through their rebellion, Jesus' crucifixion, or even today. The Old Testament is just that, a testament to how God loves His people despite their faults and how He disciplines those He calls His children so that they can be brought out of evil and into purity and righteousness. Jesus death on the cross atoned for the penalty of sin and relieved  us of the legal requirement of perfection and completeness. But it did not change Jesus' desire for us to live in purity, consecration, and sanctification.

God did not discipline Israel in the Old Testament to save them from their sin, He already had a plan for that. He constantly and consistently disciplined  them because like all good fathers He wanted them to have goodness and to know truth. Only, He is the perfect Father and knows the ends and consequences of all decisions and actions. What may seem inconsequential to us is of the utmost importance to Him because he knows what results from it. What father would not give his child bread if he was hungry? What if the young child was having surgery later that day and was not allowed to eat for 24 hours so that he wouldn't vomit on the operating table and so asphyxiate himself and die. The father cannot possible explain what the doctors are about to do. It would only scare him and put undue stress on him. But the surgery is necessary to his life. And so even though his son is begging at his feet for bread the father says, "No son. I know you are truly hungry, but you don't know what is coming. You have to suffer for a little while so that I can save you life."

God still disciplines His children today. As Paul said, "For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.". This is also demonstrated in God's judgement on Ananias and Sapphira for their lying to the Holy Spirit.

There are many reasons "bad" things happen in this life. Jesus told His disciples, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." Or consider the story of Job. God said this about Job, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." Then Satan says that Job only loves God because God gives him good things and a nice life. And to prove Satan wrong he unleashes Satan on him, but tells him not to harm him personally. And then later unleashes Satan on Job himself, but tells Satan to not take his life. And what was Job's response to all of this? "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" and "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." Sometimes it is the natural consequences of physical life that  happen to us, i.e. car accidents, natural disasters, disease.

Yes, God could save us from all these things. I whole-heartedly believe that I will not live past the day that I am meant to, nor will die before it. But what happens in between will all be goodness from the Lord's hand. The point of life isn't living. Why is everyone trying to beat disease and danger? The Lord can save us from these things. He has done it many times through out history. But if He doesn't what do we get? The reward! Death is the prize not the punishment. But during this life there will be discipline and punishment. Goodness is defined by spiritual health and spiritual reward. If you find yourself in trying circumstances don't be so quick to beg God for relief. It may be discipline from the Lord. We should continually examine ourselves to see if we are allowing any impurity to live in us. God may be trying to save us from the consequences of our actions. Or God may mean for us to live a life time of suffering as the man that was born blind had so that at the proper time God's glory may be shown. Or God may be giving us opportunity to build up spiritual treasure in Heaven as I believe Job was for his faith and patient endurance. Or we may be given the greatest gift and a disease may lead to our death, Halleluiah! But if we tell people that God only means good for us in the way that carnal people interpret goodness we will set up new, weak believers to fail and make God out to be a liar in the eyes of the world. "May God be true and every man a liar!"

Feel free to comment or ask questions! 

Friday, September 30, 2011

We have got to learn to hate

"Jesus is THE TRUTH. The Bible is the TRUTH about THE TRUTH. Theology is the truth about the TRUTH about THE TRUTH." - Richard Wurmbrand.

Matthew 7:22-  ,"Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" Have you ever really examined what this verse is saying? Who are these people that Jesus speaks of as if they are vile? Lets look at the three actions that they are performing:

1. Prophesy. To prophesy means simply to speak the truth. Truth is the same yesterday, today, and forever just as God is because God is truth. So these people are speaking the truth and doing it in Jesus' name, so I would think it is safe to say that they are speaking the truth about Jesus.

2. Drive out demons. It is incredible that they have authority over spiritual beings and powers but also that they have discernment of evil spirits. I think this is something that is lost and forgotten especially among the church of our day. Jesus and his disciples were casting out demons left and right in their day. Physical ailments all the way from muteness to seizures were attributed to demon possession. These days we give scientific reasoning for all sorts of physical ailments. There are many that we have no cure for or know the cause of for that matter, and yet we say, "It's just a physical deformity or ailment."

3. Perform many miracles. Like with demons, we don't even know what miracles are in America. It is not a miracle if you pray over someone's pneumonia and then they take antibiotics and medication and get well in three to four weeks. Jesus' miracles were immediate and spectacular. Jesus said,  " I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." These people are full of faith and belief.

So we have men and women that are speaking the truth, have spiritual discernment and power, and are full of faith. And they don't make it in to heaven? Then who can!? I think I know what is missing.

There has been much confusion, it seems, from day one about the Judgement and who qualifies to be apart of Jesus' kingdom. It usually comes down to an arbitrary form of goodness, or a list of do's and don'ts or pure grace with no requirements. It is actually all of these and none of these at the same time. Under the Law, the Old Covenant, we were required to fulfill the whole law to be guiltless. It was established through one man, Adam, and so had to be and was fulfilled through one man, Jesus. I want to say at this point, God doesn't owe you anything. I say it again. God doesn't owe you anything! But He wants something, you.

So He established a new deal. If you love me, you can be with me. This is the simple truth of it. Do you want to go to Heaven? Love Jesus. That's it. But what does it mean to love Jesus?

1. You have to love what He loves.

2. You have to hate what He hates.

Jesus said, ""He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters."

The issue of alcohol is still debated among many. The Bible never says not to drink. It says don't be a drunk. But, many argue that it is only a matter of time or a matter of stepping over a line before that happens. Or that alcohol is only used to medicate emotional issues. This is not my problem. I love a mixed drink, it tastes good. Or a good beer is great when I'm tired and hot. I enjoy the stress relieving result of drinking alcohol as much as anyone who eats comfort food. I hate, capital H HATE being drunk. The feeling of losing control, dizziness, loss of inhibition and motor function. Becoming drunk or becoming a drunk will never be a fear or risk for me because I loath it like cleaning a clogged toilet  with my bear hand. There are those that this is not true for and Paul addresses that in Corinthians 8.

The point in this is: It is great that you love what is good. But do you hate what is evil? Do you long for the day when Jesus' righteousness will rule? Great. But do you also long with all you being for the day when all unrighteousness is destroyed? Consider this list of evil doers who will not inherit the kingdom:

"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;  idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." - Galatians 5:19-21

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." - 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

"Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.  They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,  slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;  they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.  Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them." - Romans 1:28-31

I highlighted a few things in these verses to point out that orgies, gays, and God-haters are grouped together with people that disobey their parents!

God loves the people He created. He created us in His image; and so we can gather a lot of insight into His character just by looking around us. If there was a person that every time they entered you home the beat you, raped your wife, tortured your children, stole you possessions, and defecated on the floor would you allow them into your house? As a Christian we would not hate them, but we sure wouldn't invite them in. God is the same. Have you ever been hurt by a friend, brought the injury before them and then they treated it flippantly and just kind of told you to get over it? This is what many are doing to God and I believe those from the passage in Matthew that I quoted at the beginning are doing and why he says I never knew you. He wants everyone to be a part of His kingdom. But He will not force us if we don't want to. Nor will he invite us if we do not love what He love and hate what He hates.

Grace is not meant to be a license for sin. This seems obvious and yet we give grace for certain lifelong sins because it doesn't seem important to us and so we assume it is not important to God. We tone down the truth to make it more inclusive and easier to swallow. But God isn't interested in being inclusive or easily acceptable. He has a desire and vision for His kingdom, but we will only be welcome if we desire the same things. Jesus said, "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." He didn't try to convince anyone of anything while He walked the Earth. He spoke the truth and if you agreed, come, if you don't, don't. God understands that we are limited weak beings. He created us. He is coming to destroy all sin and make everything new. He is happy to do it for you and I, but you have to want Him to do that as well or you will not be apart of it. You can't take the kingdom of God and then do as you wish with. It is not ours, we do not have rights to it. And God cannot be deceived. He will not allow us in to be a divisive force.

Feel free to comment or ask questions!
There is a verse in the Bible that is ignored or read over quickly almost always by all. We don't like it. We don't want to think about it. We rationalize why it can't be true or mean what it means. And yet it stands there steady as a mountain. A light of truth that cannot be snuffed out.

"But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." - Matthew 7:14. Most, MOST people will not be saved. Let that sink in. Most people will not be saved. Those making it in the kingdom of God will be a minority. A small group compared to those on the other side of the judgement throne.

God is a God of absolute morality. There are things that are unacceptable and always will be unacceptable. If we participate in them we are clearly not on God's side. But if we do not condemn them and take a stance against them we are guilty of passive rebellion. If the enemy is storming the castle, and he is, and you just don't resist or you don't sound the alarm; you didn't attack the kingdom, but you are just as guilty as those who did and will be lined up before the executioner with the rest. Love what God loves, but we must, must hate what God hates. We are the bride, He is the groom. Our wedding day is coming which makes this our engagement period. The engagement period is for practicing marriage. You are not yet rewarded with all the benefits of marriage, but are required to participate in faithfulness and decision making as if you were married. Do not prostitute yourselves out to the world and so commit adultery against your groom. Live in submission to God as He has commanded a wife to live to her husband. Love what your groom loves and hate what your groom hates. A house divided against itself cannot stand and He will not allow His house to fall.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Jesus is just good math

Math is the best. Try and argue with me and I'll give you a theorem to prove it! Seriously though, I love math more than any intellectual subject for one reason: There is only one right answer. It may be hard to get to that answer, but once it is found there is no debate about. It doesn't matter how you feel about it or what you want to be right or even what some expert says about it. It is either right or wrong. Also, there are concrete rules that guide how you do math. All you have to do is follow the rules and you will find the right answer.

          When I became a Christian I was eleven years old and had never picked up a Bible for more than a few seconds at a time and didn't do much more than flip through it. I didn't have parents that were grounded in the Word. As a matter of fact, my father thinks that reading the Bible makes you a worse Christian. I didn't have any personal drive for it either and then I was given the one of the biggest blessings and trials of my life to date. I was sent to Pinehaven Christian's Children's Ranch. The Ranch is a program for seriously troubled kids. It is located in the middle of nowhere in Montana and is completely isolated from the world. I was there from thirteen to eighteen years old. Their rules and punishments were very strict. I wasn't an outwardly rebellious kid, but I was a know-it-all and that didn't fly well there. I was grounded for basically the first two years I was there. Grounded there means no sugar, no laughing, no talking. You can't even include yourself in others conversations. You basically have to act like you don't exist. The only book you are allowed to read is the Bible.

         I love to read, so I spent two years sitting in a corner reading the Bible for about eight hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year front to back and everything in between. At first it was just a reading exercise for me. I didn't really grasp what I was reading. But the more and more I read, the more and more I understood and was able to see how it was all interconnected. But the most flabbergasting thing I found was the requirements of a Christian and the requirements of the Church, it's function, and organization. The things I read did not at all match up to the 'Christians' I was being instructed by everyday or the church I attended twice a week. Though I was vocal about it at the time I wasn't fired up with righteous indignation. I figured that they were just isolated, this wasn't how the rest of the Church was, and it wasn't really a big deal anyway. I would just love my Lord with all I had and be ready and willing when I was released back into the world.

         Once I was back in the real world I found more lively churches and thought the problem was solved. But my love of math started causing problems for my spiritual life. The more I 'worked' this equation of life and Jesus the more things were not adding up. I didn't have a final answer to check my work with but, as anyone seasoned in a field would know, I knew this wasn't going the right way. But I still held my tongue. I was still fairly new to the 'real' world and knew and realized I had a very limited view on life. Jesus has poured mercy on me for my ignorance, so who was I to judge others for what I didn't fully understand myself?

        I moved to Arkansas in 2004 a little before my 20th birthday. The next two years were unstable and wavering years for me. I felt I had missed out on a lot of fun and indulged myself to the fullest. I didn't take long for me to realize how unfulfilling  a self-serving life was. I went back to the only life and happiness I had ever know, Jesus. And go back I did. I rehashed and brought back the massive scriptural knowledge I had amassed as a teenager and truly devoted my heart, soul, mind, and strength to my Lord. In 2006 I enrolled in Applied Life Christian College and was attending Christian Ministries Church that it was attached to. It seemed I had found what I had been looking for. This church was full of people of all ages and people that seemed very excited and passionate about Jesus. The college was centered around hashing out the scripture and learning what it means to be a disciple. Their motto was "Doers of the Word" based on James 1:22. But, something still just didn't seem quite right. It seemed... forced.  Just before the spring semester started I attended the One Thing conference at the International House Of Prayer or IHOP in Kansas City, MO.

        I liked what they had going on at the church and college, but IHOP. Wow. The premise of IHOP is how David had 2,000 men and women who's sole job was to pray and worship before the Lord 24 hours a day without ceasing. And these people have capital P Passion. This had to be the life that Jesus was talking about. I encountered Jesus in a way I had never thought possible. I had always had a check in my spirit about the churches I attended and christians I met because their lives did not match up with the faith and power that the Apostles and early christians basked in. But now it all felt possible. I came back to Arkansas and did one semester at ALCC. By the time summer of 2007 came around the fire for the church and college had died down and the shine had worn off of what they had going on. After spending six months with them I could tell this was the same institutional, religious spirit I had been seeing all along.

         At this point I thought the only answer was to get back to IHOP. They were the only people I had ever been around that seemed to be actually living the Word as it was written. Their leader Mike Bickle is an excellent speaker and very insightful with a commanding knowledge of scripture. He has spent the last 30 years devoted to prayer. The worship is the most real and heartfelt I have ever experienced. It all seemed to be spot on from a distance. I wanted to be there more than anything but the Lord seemed to be shutting every door that would lead me to Kansas City. I was able to return to the One Thing conference at the end of 2009. Something was different. I don't know if it was there the first time I was there or if something changed, but something was wrong, very wrong.

           They had given themselves over to a spirit of possession. During their corporate prayer sessions people were acting drunk, having seizures, jerking their bodies and heads in repetitive violent motions and were crediting this all to the Holy Spirit. This behavior is seen commonly in another place, the Hindu religion.  I have seen all kinds of manifestation and signs that have been attributed to the Holy Spirit. There is no Biblical evidence or precedent for this behavior, but the most solid evidence against this is my own testimony. Not that I can prove it to you, but I love Jesus with everything that I am. I want nothing but to know Him, honor Him, and to be found faithful to what He has charged me with. I went to One Thing with an open heart to receive. I don't care how ridiculous or unpopular being a christian makes me. I have often said, "If to be saved Jesus said I had to make love to chickens, I would be a chicken lover." When these manifestations began they had no power over me. I felt no pull to participate. Any time the Holy Spirit has shown up in the Bible the consequences were not optional. The presence of God floors people across the board, not just those who want to be floored. But I did want to be floored. I wanted to be over whelmed. But this was not of the Holy Spirit and it literally made me sick to be in the room with these people.

         I have said all this to say this: "By their fruit you will recognize them."   Some other quotes of Jesus are, "If you love me, you will obey my commands." and "He who is not with me is against me." What are these things that Jesus requires of us? I have a compiled a list that I will leave a link to at the end of this.This is not the end all of commands. You are not guaranteed a place at the wedding feast if you follow all of these. But these are the guidelines by which we do the 'math' of Jesus. The right answer will be found inside these commands. Read carefully through these commands of Jesus. First, forget everything you have ever know or been taught about Christianity or the Church. Clear your mind as if you were from another planet and were hearing everything for the first time.  It will shock you how the church has been spitting in their Lord's face. The reason I started with the math analogy is because their is an enormous difference between failing in what the Lord requires and reasoning away why we don't have to follow what Jesus clearly commanded. Between not doing the math properly and trying to create your own system or rules. One is a matter of mercy, the other a matter of rebellion.

         I was discussing this with my wife and she said, "Most people don't know that they are following something wrong." and it does seem like ignorance would be a good excuse. But it is not an excuse at all because our source of information and wisdom does not come from man. It doesn't matter who is controlling the flow of information because we don't receive from man. If your heart, mind, eyes and ears are tuned to Jesus you cannot be fooled. Jesus said, "My sheep know my voice." and "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit , whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things  and will remind you of everything I have said to you." I am not a scholar. The greatest claim I have is that I have read the Bible thoroughly and have prayed and prayed for knowledge and discernment. I am just an average guy that has read the truth and sees the truth. Anyone who opens their heart to the Lord will see the same thing I see, because it comes from the same Spirit. I have nothing to gain from this. I not an anti-establishment guy. I am a legalist if anything. But the church is either deathly sick or dead already and obviously so to anyone that wants to open their eyes. That Day is fast approaching and many will stand before the Lord and say, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?"and He will say, "I never knew you."

        I'm not going to tell you what a Godly Church or Christian looks like because I don't have to. Just like Nebuchadnezzar didn't have to tell Daniel his dream, so you will receive the truth from the same Spirit that I did. He meant what He said and if you do not take it upon yourself to seek the truth regardless of the cost there will not be mercy.  There is no way of interpreting, rationalizing, or reasoning it away. I'm not here to convince you. I'm here to call you out. Be holy, set apart, for He is Holy. What many call the Church is not holy. It is indulgent and self serving. Not obeying the Lord isn't harmless or inconsequential. It's monumental and will determine your fate in the next life. There will not be any mercy for rebellion, whether it be passive or aggressive. There is only one model, one right answer that Jesus meant for His Church to be. Will we fail the test? There is no retake.

Feel free to comment or ask questions!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What the Church is, what the Church is not.

There is a chruch down the road from my house that has this on it's marque: "The church is not a hotel for saints, it is a hospital for sinners." This doesn't sound bad at first glance. But what really is the function of the church? Who really belongs in it?
For starters, the chruch is not a building. It is not programs or services. It is not full time staff, paid or unpaid. It is not people who claim to know Christ. The church is a people group as much as hispanics describes a people group regardless of their place of residence. There are not any unbelievers or false prophets in the church as their lack of allegience to Jesus automatically excludes them. And there is no need for a building or leader, as we already have a leader in Christ and the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said, "For where two or more come together in my name, there I am with them." and "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." If these things are true then why is almost every church in America set up like a funnel? All teaching, leadership, and council comes though or has to be approved by the pastor. Jesus is supposed to be the head of the church. Everyone has equal access to His truth and guidance. We as church members are all supposed to be recieving from Him equally. Yes, everyone has different gifts. But when did the pastor get elevated to such a position of authority? 
The word pastor that we see in Ephesians 4:11 is poimen. It is used only once in the entire Bible. ONCE! The word simply means shepherd. Biblically speaking, a shepherd is the loweliest of postions. It is often left to children! And that word does not mean teacher. The other positions mentioned in that verse are apostles, prophets, evangelists, and teachers. And these are positions Paul says are given to everyone.
We live in a slothful, lazy society. We like everything to be handed up to us on a silver plater like we are a bunch of princes and prinicesses. Think about the typical Sunday morining for most "Christians". They show up to a building they had no part in building. They walk in the doors and are greeted and given bullitens like they are congressmen entering the house or senate floor. The sit in chiars or pews they did not arrange, set out, or maintain. A band serves up for them pre-arranged music. The lights go up, the lights go down. The air is conditioned hot and cold. A man stands up front tells them whats right, wrong, and what God's revelation for the week is with no ability to question or challange him in the moment while everyone else is soaking it up. Then they are dismissed until they are welcomed again. People brag about their churches missions, outreach, and youth groups. But what does the massive majority of attenders have to do with what goes on with the function of this "church". 
I think Jesus had it right. If we ever had an example of what church is supposed to look like it was Jesus and his diciples. He spent day in and day out with them. He lived with them ,ate with them, worked, played, preached, and weeped with them. And, there was only twelve of them. Now, if God himself only saw fit to take on twelve apprentices where do we get the gall and arrogance to take on hundreds, if not thousands? 
Christianity is not a buffet. You don't go though at you own pace, pick out what you like and call it a meal. It is meant to be life consuming. You are a follower of Christ and then __________. Fill in the blank. And just as Jesus entrusted His task of dicipleship to His diciples. So should we. If a man has an anoiting from the Lord to be an Apostle then he should take on no more than twelve men under him. And their lives should be so entwined that they are insepreable. And when those are qualified, should go on to do the same with others. This is how diciples are to be made. 
Now, for the role of the gathered believers in this, aka the Chuch. The Church is simply a gathering of believers. It may be big, it may be small. But it is not the teaching, preaching, worshiping corporate outlet. There should be many teachers, preachesr, prophets, and apostles. The church should assemble together and anyone who has a word of prophecy, teaching, or worship should share it. And we should all look together to Christ for guidance. This gathering should happen in homes or parks or public spaces. There is no reason for there to be so many multi-million dollar buildings with the word church on them scattered across the country. I'm sure the exact amount of money spent would be staggering and sickening. We were never charged with setting up shop and getting comfortable. 
The church is not a hotel for saints, because we are not supposed to be stationary in this life. And it is not a hospital for sinners because the gathering of believers is not for unbelievers. Unbelievers are to be won in the streets, in our homes and workplaces. We are to preach the message of Christ to everyone. Those who see the truth and repent are to be welcomed into our lives and homes to be dicipled. Then, as diciples, join the gathering of believers. 
Don't take my word for it. Go back, with an open mind, and re-read the New Testament; more specifically the epistles. It is obvious that what we call church is nothing like what the early church had. Nor is dicipleship anything like the model Jesus gave us. This impersonal, rush'em in - rush'em out dicipleship is shallow and useless. Abandon the buildings. Stop depending on these Walmarts of Christianity to serve up your spiritual needs at a low low price and to take care of all the gruling, dirty details. Stop being isolationist and bring people into your lives and homes. Seriously, have them sleep on your couch if you don't have an extra bed for them. Live together, work together, play together, worship together, pray together. Heck, act like you are all of the same family! We are on this Earth for one purpose and one purpose only: to know Jesus and obey Him. We will be spending eternity doing things His way one way or another. It is about time we started practicing that in this life.

Feel free to comment or ask questions! 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Don't believe it! Because you can't prove it.

"The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood." - John 1:5

I've been involved in debates from time to time over orgins of life, scriptual veracity, theology, and many other topics orbiting around the issue of God. Some debaters are good speakers, some bring compelling evidence, and some are just convinced and cannot see beyond that. I believe with all of my being that God created life knowing what would happen before it began. I don't think it is out of control or He stepped in after things started going haywire and is now trying to recover something that was lost. He gave us this life with all the information in it on purpose. It seems perfectly logical to me that if you have a God who desires free will that he wouldn't overwhelm us with evidence for Himself and thereby leave us without a choice. There is enough evidence to go either way in any of these areas of debate. It really depends on what you want to believe. 

I didn't start our believing in God. You could say I come from a Christian background, but nothing was ever taught in my home and we rarely and inconsistantly attended chruches of all persuasions. I have always been an analytical person. I don't easily accept things that don't make a lot of sense. I started my spiritual journey believeing there was a force out there bigger than me, but wholly secular and evolutionist outside of that. Most, if any, that knew me as a young man would not recognize me on paper. I don't intend to spark up a debate on here. I do enjoy the intellectual exercise that a debate brings purely for athletic purposes, if you will allow me to use that word in that way. But, I have no desire to convice anyone of anything; and I don't think Jesus did either. Romans 8:28-29 says,  
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those that love Him and are called according to His 
purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers."
and in Matthew 13:11-12, 
"He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him."
These verses show that we can only know the truth of God by being given it. It cannot be taken or discovered. They also show that God already knows who will accept Him and who will not and that He is only interested in the ones He will be spending eternity with. When you read Jesus' interactions while on this Earth there are obviously two camps. The diciples who He painstakingly explains things to. And everyone else, who it seems He is only saying the things He did so that there is evidence against them, not so that they will understand. I think we should do the same. 

Don't be caught up in the rehtoric and endless arguments. I have been watching Creation/Evolution debates on youtube tonight and have posted some links below. The evidence is there but it doesn't matter what you say because you are not actually debating science with these people. You are debating theology because by accepting Intelligent Design/Creationism they must accept a Designer/Creator and that is what they refuse to do. Most want to skip the extremely basic and foundational science that pulls the rug out of underneath evolution right off the bat and transition into a mocking tone talking about a God in the sky, supernatural, and the Bible.

Every man and woman will be judged by the motivations of the heart because many 'moral' issues could be labeled either good or evil based on your reasons for doing so. Not everyone in the world has access to the wealth of information that we do and they will be judged accordingly, but we here in the US have no excuse. There is no explaination for life other than evolution or a creator. If it can be proven that it all started by a designer, then it behooves you to search out who that designer is and what he wants. Jesus said in Matthew 7:7,
          "Ask and it shall be given, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened to you."
Evolution is a religion as much as Christianity is. It interprits the data to support itself and takes great leaps of faith in the face of opposition.  Open you heart and mind and ask yourself why you enter the arena with a predisposed bias. Why is one or the other so repulsive that you will not even consider the evidence? Is it you hatred of God and desire to be the master of you own universe? It is frightening to think that we will be held accountable for all of our actions, words, and thoughts. Hatred of the truth  doesn't make it any less true. If I told you there is an office 500 feet above the peak of Mt. Everest would call me a liar and say it is impossible? Or would you see if a foundation had been laid on top of the mountain? And if a foundation is there, is there a first floor? And so on. If the foundation is gone there is no need to look for the upper floors of theology. But if the foundation is there don't scoff at the 50th floor before you examine if everything in between is evident and factual. You must either pass by or go through everything in between before you can discredit the higher tenants of a idea. And you must start at the begining, because if the foundation is wrong or gone the whole house of cards comes down. 

Feel free to comment or ask questions!