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!