Deception

What Chickens Can Teach Us

A year or two ago, we got some chickens. This past summer one escaped without us noticing and was found without her head just a few yards from the safety of her pen the next morning.

We googled what takes off just the head and then leaves the rest of the chicken (you’d be surprised at the answers!) and then filled in any gaps or places in the pen that would provide a way of escape.

Unfortunately, this was not our last headless chicken. The other night my husband went down to the pen and found a headless chicken inside the pen. He was furious. What in the world?? How had this happened??

More googling.

Did you know that chickens are very curious creatures? Apparently, this can get them into trouble.

Apparently, some animal (we are thinking a raccoon) put his paw in the pen at a place where it was dug out just a bit under the fence. When the chicken got close enough to see what was going on, he grabbed her head and pulled. Only there was not enough room to pull the entire chicken through. And so, yet another chicken lost its head.

Had that chicken curbed its curiosity it would still be alive today. But it just couldn’t resist and moved closer and closer to the fence until BAM!! Its life was over. In the course of a few seconds.

Oh, upon this experience, I couldn’t help thinking how much like chickens we are! In several different ways!

First, there are the chickens that stood by and watched that chicken approach danger.

Some of us are so curious. We just can’t resist getting as close to the fence as we possibly can.

And, as we approach danger, all of our “chicken friends” just watch. No one says a thing because–for goodness’ sake!–we might be offended. People care more about us being offended or mad at them than they do about saving our spiritual lives. Have you ever thought of that?

When it comes right down to it, if we are honest, our unwillingness to speak up against sin and false teaching is more about our own selfish desire to avoid any pain and suffering than it is about truly loving someone.

Warning that person that is steeped in false teaching or caught up in a habitual sin is taking a big risk. A risk that may cost us a relationship or even our reputation. For most of us, that risk is too high.

And so we stand by as we watch others approach real spiritual danger. Pretending we care but not caring enough to speak the truth.

And then there is that chicken that approached the danger. Let’s talk about her for a moment. Oh, how close to the world we want to get, thinking we can go just one more step to satisfy our worldly desires. But, in just a moment, the consequences for getting that close can destroy our lives. While it can never kill us if we are truly saved, it can–and usually will–wreak havoc in the lives of both ourselves and our family. Sin always brings destruction. Creeping closer to the world, being lured towards the edge by the raccoons of this world is always a bad idea.

And then there is the chicken-keeper. My husband. The guy who built the fence. Now, we are not perfect chicken-keepers. To say the least (I can hear my family laughing now!) But even as a non-lover of animals, he was downright angry about some wild animal killing his chicken and worked hard to protect the others by placing boards around the bottom and doing all he could temporarily until a more permanent solution could be put in place.

This reminds me of John 10, where Christ is our Shepherd and He promises to take care of us. He builds the fence of His Word around His sheep (which never needs mended) as our protection. But sometimes we seek to escape the boundaries of the Word. We disobey its commands, we love the world, we love a hidden sin, we are beguiled by a wolf dressed as a sheep…and, while we can’t lose our salvation thanks to our Good and Loving Shepherd, we pay consequences that are so very costly.

You know, pastors are supposed to follow Christ’s example and protect the flock in his care. They are to preach the Word, regardless of popularity and people-pleasing, in order to truly love their sheep.

So sadly, many seem to be so much more caught up in “building a business” than loving the sheep in their care. They seem to care much more about the numbers than they do about spiritually strengthening and protecting their congregation.

This is such a sad commentary on this even sadder church era.

How thankful we should be for the pastors out there who lovingly and selflessly care for the spiritual needs and protection of their flocks. There are still some out there and what a blessing they are to the true Church. And to the sheep that sit under their care.

So that’s what I’ve been thinking through after the unfortunate chicken incident. May we give as much attention to protecting the spiritual welfare of those we love as we give to protecting their physical welfare. The world is a dangerous place and filled with raccoons, owls, hawks, foxes, and minks. They are all after your heart. After the heart of your spouse. And especially after the hearts of the next generations– your children and your grandchildren.

We are charged to love them by protecting them. And this will never happen by letting them skirt as close to the fence as possible. Instead, we must teach them the boundaries of God’s Word and set the example for them of living by those same boundaries. And, through it all, realize that all of it is impossible without the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who have been saved through faith in Christ alone.

May we pray diligently for spiritual protection and monumental courage for ourselves, for our families, and for our pastors and other church leaders, in a mainstream church that’s so far gone it is almost unrecognizable.

 

 

 

Comparing Two Religions (that go by the same name)

Yesterday I saw a clip¹ of a well-known “preacher” declaring/demanding with his congregation that God’s material blessings would rain down upon them. With gusto, they prayed that God would give them money in its various different forms. It was disturbing. To say the least. I couldn’t help but contrast this to a couple of sermons² on suffering that I was listening to by my brother, Pastor Dean Good, a bit later.

And that’s when it hit me: It’s really not all that difficult to tell true Christianity from the fake Christianity. 

In the simplest of terms, True Christianity is God-centered and Fake Christianity is self-centered. But let’s unpack it a bit more, shall we?

True Christianity is God-centered. It is about the depraved and wretched sinner finding peace with God through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, on the cross (John 3:16), turning away from their former, sinful lusts and now living for God (Ephesians 2:2; Colossians 3:7). To elaborate further, its message is denying self, taking up your cross, and following hard after Christ (Luke 9:23); it is submitting to God’s will and obeying His Word (James 4:7; John 14:15). It is focused on eternal glory rather than temporal reward (Matthew 6:19-21; Colossians 3:2). It is a desire to be holy that supersedes the desire to be happy (I Peter 1:15-16) It is understanding that our citizenship is in heaven and we are pilgrims and sojourners on this earth (Hebrews 11:13; I Peter 2:11). It is focused on sharing the Gospel and sharing the truth of God’s Word (Romans 10:15; I Timothy 2:4).

Let’s contrast this to the fake Christianity that has overtaken most Christian churches, bookstores, music, and conferences these days–

Fake Christianity is self-centered. It is about a hurting, lonely human being going to God to get their needs met. It is about continuing in sin and declaring God’s approval upon that sin. It is about coddling self, following your dreams, and following hard after your heart. It is ignoring God’s will and His Word. It is focused on temporal gain rather than eternal reward. It is focused on personal happiness. And its focus is on this earth’s citizenship, with much energy put towards fixing the world and making it a better place.

The two religions are as opposite as day and night. And, in fact, one is pure LIGHT and the other is pitch black.

We want to pretend like there is not that big of a difference between the two and that it is a complicated thing to discern. Honestly, most of us just want to ignore it all. We do this because so many family and friends we love and respect are caught up in the fake. We may even be caught up in the fake ourselves.

And so we don’t want to declare it’s fakeness, because the consequences of doing so will be painful and costly.

Can I tell you the honest truth? I have been caught up in the fake at times. Perhaps we all have.

When I say it’s not difficult to tell the difference between the true and the fake, that is true. But it can grow fuzzy to us sometimes– mainly because we want what we want. Let me explain.

None of us wants to deny self. It goes against everything inside us to do so. And yet, this is what we are called to do as believers. We are not called to this without help. Upon salvation, the Holy Spirit comes to our aid. Our desires are gradually changed so that we not only desire to do what’s right but we begin to understand the reward in turning from sin and pleasing God. But the flesh always resides in us and we are always in a battle against it.

And so, even as believers, we can get caught up in sin and deceit. We desire something and we know it is not God’s will. Or we hold a relationship with a person more dear than we hold our relationship with Christ. Or we choose to gratify our flesh (eating too much, going places we know do not please God, watching sin on a screen, wearing clothing that is immodest, lashing out in anger, gnawing endlessly on that favored worry or fear, choosing to hold a grudge, etc, etc.) and, suddenly, we are full-out focused on self.

And, in this state, we will often find ourselves rationalizing, excusing, and leaning into that fake Christianity that would give us reasons to do what we want to do.

So, no, it’s not difficult to tell the difference between the only true Religion of light and the religion of darkness that goes by the same name. But, yes, it can be hard to actually admit the difference.

To the unbeliever, true Christianity sounds terrible, doesn’t it? I mean we really can understand why the unregenerate flock to the Christianity designed to please self, puff up self, fulfill self. That is what the natural man wants to do.

It isn’t until the Lord fills us with His light that understanding and insight come. It will never make sense to give up everything to gain nothing in this world unless the Spirit opens our eyes to the Truth. Well, let me rephrase that: We gain nothing that looks important to anyone in this world. We do gain much, even in this temporal life lived on earth. We gain peace and joy that is based on the Lord, rather than circumstances. We gain the daily tender care and loving-kindness of the God of the universe. We gain the Comforter and the Helper. And so much more!

If you are burdened for someone caught up in the fake Christianity, pray that God would open their eyes. Pray that He would show them how little they have to lose and how much they have to gain! And if we, ourselves, struggle with releasing our grip on this world and desire that fool’s gold of false religion, then let’s pray for ourselves, as well–that God would show us, through our study of His Word, that following Him is worth it, no matter the cost!

 

 

¹Bill Johnson and Bethel Church pray to the god of Mammon

 

²Sermons from I Peter 4 by Pastor Dean Good (so worth listening to!) —

The Exaltation of Jesus Christ (Part 2)
Following the Example of Christ

Next in the series (for anyone who wants to listen):

Following Christ in His Rejection (Part 1)
Following Christ in His Rejection (Part 2)

 

 

A Lesson from the Candy Store

The colorful exterior drew our eyes. We had stopped next door and so we decided to walk into the colorful building, which was full of candy. Lots and lots of candy. Everywhere you looked was candy — Gummy candy, hard candy, jelly beans, Pez, vintage candy, ice cream…you name it, it was there.

We wandered a bit and let the grandkids each pick out a Pez. I didn’t see anything that really struck me in the expensive candy shop so I was prepared to walk out without anything—until I spotted the wall of jelly bellies. I don’t actually love regular jelly beans but these always tempt me. I don’t know how they make those jelly bellies so flavorful but somehow they do. I looked at the big red containers holding those beans. They were surrounded by jelly belly advertisements and jelly belly pre-made containers.

What struck my eye were the new flavors. I had never seen jelly bellies such as these before. Oh, these would be fun to try! I grabbed a small plastic bag and grabbed a few beans from each of the containers that struck my fancy.

We paid for our candy and left the store. In the truck, I eagerly opened my plastic bag and pulled out a bean and stuck it in my mouth.

Ohhh…yuck! Just yuck!

“These are not genuine jelly bellies,” I said with disappointed disgust.

“Really?” Asked my husband.

“Nope, definitely not,” I tried a couple more just to make sure.

Where had I gone wrong? What should have warned me?

Well, the unusual flavors were a definite warning sign. Why would that store have flavors I’ve never seen before in even the 49 flavor bags of these famous jelly bellies? How dumb of me not to have thought of that.

And then as I thought of the red containers, I remembered that nowhere on them had they claimed to be jelly bellies. They were just surrounded by the words “jelly bellies” to lead people to believe that what the large containers held was genuine.

I had been deceived.

I was out of a few dollars and given a dose of humility. It was what it was. Not a big deal in the scope of life.

But as I was thinking about this yesterday, it came to me that this is a great example of how we get fooled spiritually, too.

False teachers like to surround themselves with those who appear genuine and many times probably are genuine (which is probably a good part of the reason why Paul and John are so adamant that we can never be friends and conference partners with false teachers. See Romans 16:17 and 2 John 1:9-11).

False teachers also like to look just like the genuine. They appear so similar that it is hard to see the difference.

Unless…

You realize they are offering different flavors. They are offering interpretations of scripture that veer from the traditional interpretation. They change the meaning of a word or they change the definition of a long held doctrine.

It is easy to get duped by false teachers these days. They are everywhere. They look real on the surface. And they are so often surrounded by those we would call “Solid Bible Teachers”, who give them credence.

They are like that candy that looks genuine. Smells genuine. Is surrounded by the genuine. But this is not candy. And we have much more to lose.

So may we all be smarter spiritually than I was in that candy store. May we pray for discernment and wisdom as we navigate the veritable smorgasbord of false teachers who twist scripture and change the truth of God’s Word; teachers that are nowhere close to genuine Christianity despite their label of “Christian.” 

 

 

What Makes You Really Angry?

I think we’ve all been angry at some point or other. There are probably some universal causes of anger–such as inept or rude customer service representatives; arguing children; or being betrayed by someone you trusted.

And then there are some causes of anger that seem to be more related to our personalities. Some people get angry at laziness or lack of common sense in those around them. Others get angry at circumstances beyond their control. Some people get plain mad at God when things don’t go their way.

We know that anger is not a righteous emotion. Most of the time.

There is that little caveat in Ephesians 4:26 where it says, “Be angry and do not sin.” This means there is sometimes a righteous cause for anger.

What is something that should make us very angry?

As I was studying in preparation for my upcoming study of Galatians, I realized that the main thing that should make us angry is any attack on the Gospel. Read these verses to see just how serious this is–

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert[a] the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be [b]accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6-10)

These are not simply Paul’s words but these are God’s words. We can see from these verses that God takes an attack on the Gospel very seriously. Let anyone who warps and twists the true Gospel be accursed (which means devoted to destruction; imprecate evil or misery upon.)

Has the deluge of false gospels being pandered today made us immune? What other reason can there be that Christians aren’t up in arms regarding the countless attacks on the true Gospel? Why aren’t we defending it and refusing to allow the lies to creep in? Even in to our own “Bible-believing” churches?

What must God think?

I am not sure I ever really gave this much thought until reflecting on these verses yesterday (and listening to some sermons regarding these verses.)

There are two specific ways the Gospel gets perverted. Every perversion falls under one of these two.

First, there is grace plus works (legalism) perversion. ANY presentation or teaching regarding the Gospel that adds any works is not the true Gospel. This means that if you “need to get baptized” to be saved, it’s a false gospel. If you need to take communion or pray to saints in order to be assured of your salvation, it’s a false gospel. If you need to eat certain things, wear certain things, do anything to be saved, it is a false gospel.

Second, there is the hyper-grace (licentiousness) perversion. This perversion denies the many passages that call us to live a life pleasing to Christ. It denies that we become a new creation in Christ and, instead, says that, since we are no longer under law, anything goes. Here the Gospel is given without the message of sin and repentance. It is more focused on fire insurance rather than a lost and hopeless sinner’s reconciliation with God. Say a prayer and be saved–no fruit necessary, according to this false gospel.

These false gospels are dealt with all throughout scripture but in Galatians, Paul speaks specifically to both of them. Think with me for a moment what you know about many who lump themselves in with the modern day religion of “Christianity”. What do they teach about the Gospel?

If they are not preaching the true Gospel as is clearly presented in scripture they are not actually our brother and sisters in Christ. And this should upset us! This should make us mourn for the thousands–millions–who believe a lie about their eternal destiny. Not only do they believe a lie –but they believe a lie under the guise of Christianity and true Christians are not doing anything about it. Instead, they are encouraging them in their false faith and joining with them, declaring that “we are siblings in Christ”.

This is simply appalling! When you really think about it–could there be anything more unloving than allowing someone to believe they are truly saved– when they aren’t??

But we tend to get more upset about a spilled drink or an unexpected bill than we do about this tragedy taking place across the globe. Oh, how self-centered we are. How self-centered I am.

If we believe the true Gospel, then we need to not only live by it but pay attention when there is a departure from it. We need to stop making excuses and rationalizing away the damning differences. Like Paul, we should be up in arms and ready to defend the Gospel boldly and courageously!

 

*I have a page on the blog called “What is the Gospel?”, where we take a look at what scripture has to teach us about this subject. You can find it here.

*In 2016, I wrote about in some detail regarding some common false gospels. You can find that post here.

*I am looking very forward to my study of this book. If you are in the 2022 Growing4Life Bible Reading Challenge, I hope you are looking forward to it, as well. And if you aren’t in the challenge, it’s not too late to join for the rest of the year. Find out more information here.

 

The Power of Social Media

I was following a woman on Instagram who filled her stories with interesting information. Most of it I already knew. Some of it was new. And I was skeptical of quite a bit of it, as well. But she talked about Jesus and the Bible and the return of Christ and, so it seemed, even if a bit misguided, that she was fairly solid.

Until the day she had her followers ask her questions.

Oh, my, what a mess! She was encouraging mysticism while warning against mysticism. It would have been comical if it wasn’t so sad. She was speaking of Christ and His coming, while turning the attention of her followers to the books that “didn’t make it into the Bible” along with scripture. Oh, the danger of this! She is clearly so confused and I can’t help but think of the many women she is leading into confusion right along with her by answering those questions with authority and as if she knows.

For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

(I Corinthians 14:33)

And then, recently, we have been watching many in the reformed crowd, who have been historical amillennialists (believe we are in the millennium right now) turn post-millennial (believe we need to prepare the earth for Christ’s return before the millennium can start). What does this mean? Well, simply put, it means that these powerful presences on social media are encouraging their followers to change the culture and fix the world in preparation for Christ’s return.

For example, Dale Partridge, well-known and trusted by many believers, recently said this (emphasis mine):

“Sadly, the “Left Behind” series has shaped America’s eschatology more than scripture has. As a result, the church has become chronically pessimistic, disengaged, and now embraces a culture where we wait for decay rather than work toward dominion. Do not retreat, revive!”

Wait…what?? There are Christians who actually believe this? Yes, many. Maybe most of them now.

He is accusing the eschatology (the doctrine of last, or final, matters) of Left Behind as being unbiblical. While I don’t necessarily condone the movies; the ideas of the rapture, tribulation, and thousand-year reign are clearly in scripture.

If Partridge doesn’t believe this, then what does he believe IS scriptural? From that quote, we must assume it is the false doctrine of Dominionism. This is the false teaching that we must prepare the earth and build God’s Kingdom before Christ can return. (I probably should write about this false teaching of Post-Millennialism/Dominionism so you can see that this is clearly not in scripture, no matter how many people say it is.)

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:

(2 Timothy 3:1)

 

But here’s my point of this post: Christians are being swayed and confused by those they follow on social media. I gave two examples but there are thousands more like them. Christians have followed these people and have found them to be biblical. They have grown to trust them for truth. They view their opinions as authoritative without ever going to the Bible to check if what they say is true. And I understand. It is a lot easier to scroll through social media than it is to get out your Bible and study it. It just is.

But if we have little knowledge of the Bible, then we will be unable to judge if what we are hearing is actually true. Most of us have also never been taught church history so it is easy to imbibe the lies that we read on social media or hear from our favorite authors and speakers.

One such example is the lie that the pre-trib rapture/pre-millennial eschatology is a “new” theory. It’s actually not. There are examples of many from the early church who believed in both the rapture and a literal millennium (It was called Chiliasm back then). It wasn’t until Augustine spiritualized the Old Testament that the eschatology of the church went impossibly askew. But most people don’t know this. I didn’t know this myself until only recently when I finally took the time to delve into the subject because the confusion around it is growing exponentially.

So, my caution for today is that we take great care in who we follow. If someone is talking about fixing the culture or building God’s Kingdom, be wary. If someone is talking about kooky, extra-biblical stuff and taking the focus off of scripture, be wary. If someone says something “new” from scripture that you’ve never heard before, don’t only be wary but research it.

This phenomenon of social media is scary. People can become “famous” overnight. They can go viral just because they put up a cute or compelling video. Just because someone can make a reel or gives interesting information does not mean that they can be trusted. Just because someone has an immense following on social media does not mean they can be trusted.

We’ve been conditioned to believe that where there is popularity there is truth. But I have personally found the opposite to be true: Run the opposite direction of the crowd if you want to find the truth.

So be careful. Be oh, so careful, who you follow. And do your own Bible Study. Do your own study of Christian history. I know, for many of you, your immediate response is probably “but that’s not my ‘thing’ “. I know it is not everyone’s “thing”. But, quite honestly, I am not sure, in this current age, that we can afford to say that anymore. The deception is growing exponentially and the bottom line is this: LIES can only be overcome with TRUTH.

Many of us have viewed eschatology as a “secondary issue” and thought it didn’t matter all that much. But we are finding out that it matters a great deal. For Satan is using wrong eschatology to prepare the world for the antichrist system.

May we be diligent and persevere in our study of God’s Word. May we be dedicated to interpreting it literally, grammatically, historically. May we be willing to do the work to test EVERYTHING by the Bible. May we be willing to research historical statements when necessary. May we be willing to stand strong, no matter the ridicule we get.

And may we gladly join the unpopular remnant in believing what the Bible clearly teaches: The rapture is close and the Tribulation is just around the corner.

It may be a negative message for the world, but for those who are redeemed, it’s the most positive message we could ask for at this juncture!

 

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,  looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

(Titus 2:11-14)

 

Some Thoughts About the Roe vs. Wade Reversal

The Christian world is full of joy and gladness at the reversal of Roe vs. Wade. And, understandably so. This will hopefully mean lives will be saved. But…

And, yes, I will use the word “but” because there is a huge “but” to consider.

Before I get into that, I want to give a bit of the big picture to what’s going on in America currently. There are two sides– the black and the white; the left and the right; the liberal and the conservative. There is a fight– what most would believe is a fight between the “good” and the “evil”.

But I would submit to you that those two sides are actually two wings of the same bird. They are not separate and opposite but actually working together to aid in bringing in the reign of the Antichrist. (Keep reading to understand what I mean…)

So what does the Bible say about the “culture war”?

It makes it pretty clear that believers are not here to change the culture. We are here to share the Gospel. Our purpose is not to make the world moral (for how would that even be possible without Christ??) but to win the lost. We are not here to change the politics of our nation but to make an impact for Christ. We are not here to build God’s physical Kingdom (do we really think He needs our help for this??) but we are given the privilege to help build God’s spiritual Kingdom (because we know He doesn’t really need us for this either but clearly desires to use us in this way).

Since Matthew 7:13-14 make it abundantly clear that the way is narrow and few are they that find it, we know that the typical response to our sharing of the Gospel will be rejection. We know that relatively few will repent of their sins and turn to Christ. While there have been occasional pockets of revival, it is clear from scripture that we should not expect this.

Now, with this in mind, let’s consider what is currently happening in our culture. You may have heard of the terms “Post-millenialism”, “Kingdom Now”, “Dominionism”, “Optimistic Amillenialism” and “Seven Mountains Mandate”. Basically (in a simplified nutshell), all of these teach that Christians are mandated to build God’s physical Kingdom on this earth right now. That we are to work together to make the world a better place, in order to prepare it for Christ’s return. Some of these say the Gospel will be what changes and prepares this world for Christ (which flies in the face of Matthew 7) and others don’t care a bit about the Gospel. But they all have the same focus: Preparing the World for Christ’s Second Coming.

This goes against all that is in scripture regarding the end of the age and the last days (Matthew 24; 2 Timothy 3). But, beyond that, we can see how it will play into the hands of the coming Antichrist. Why? you may ask. Simply because he will give the impression–at least at the beginning–that he is the Messiah, come to bring in His Kingdom in response to their efforts.

There will be a short-lived hope in the “peace” that he will bring at first (See Revelation 6). But that will last for only a short time before the real truth of the situation sets in for those who are entering the Tribulation.

With this in mind, I want to share something a friend of mine wrote about the Roe vs. Wade decision and its part in this battle between “good and evil” that is really just a theatrical play designed to prepare the world for the Antichrist.

Here is what she wrote–

It is leading more people to follow the post-millenial narrative which is completely unbiblical and dangerous. Even the so called pre-tribbers are joining the “cause.” Instead of looking to God’s Word, everyone is now fighting the “culture,” fighting the government. As if we are going to turn the tide of apostasy back towards God.

This decision has not changed hearts. Yes, praise God for saving babies!

But I even saw a post that said God is gaining ground in America!!? God has always been able to do as He pleases. And, yes, God hates abortion, but people are completely missing the point: A “moral” society does not equal a saved society. We are not to be transforming the culture, but instead sharing the Gospel!

Certainly getting rid of abortion is wonderful, but it is not our focus. In the end the majority of people are still headed to hell.

And the worst part is that the so-called church is in a frenzy to rebel and to fight the culture, but they are not concerned with hearts. Post-millenialists think they need to fix the world so Jesus can return. They actually believe that they literally need to transform society so Jesus can come back! And this will all lead to the Antichrist because as they see society getting better….

Obviously the true Church will be taken in the rapture (on God’s timeline, of course). But as society improves and the Antichrist rises up touting peace and likely morals, he will show them great signs and wonders. They will believe he is Jesus, and they will worship the beast.

This is just another step towards the end, and it has actually led more people into deception. It is all part of the false light agenda. Satan is very clever, and he has shown people the evil in the world on purpose. The tyrannical government has pushed people to rebel. People are completely focused on the world, and they are fighting to fix it. And now the abortion law is overturned, and they think they are making progress. They have completely forgotten the great commission.

This is all part of the set up to pull more people into deception. God has brought judgment on our nation for our wickedness certainly. God sets up rulers to judge wicked nations, but the true wickedness is in the Church which is quickly moving into apostasy. And God has promised to send a strong delusion, and we can already see such blindness in the Church.

Let us stay humble and look to Him and stay in the Word. Let us share the gospel! God will keep His remnant!

I think she has summed up what is happening perfectly. We need to pray that God would show us the truth. That He would keep us from deception and give us wisdom and keep our eyes focused on Him rather than on the culture. To trust only Him rather than those humans who would mislead us into error.

I have been stunned and disappointed at the amount of “prophecy watchers” who are preaching rebellion and “culture-changing”. Something is not right. I have been stunned and disappointed at the amount of “Discernment bloggers” who will call out the obvious but still hob-knob with and promote those in their circles who have clearly fallen away.

Don’t. Trust. Anyone. Don’t trust you favorite author, preacher, speaker. Don’t trust your favorite discernment blogger or prophecy updater. Don’t even trust me.

Trust no one but God and His Word.

Yes, I know this sounds like a very negative way to live. I know many of you will be put off by such a message. But I believe with my whole heart that we are in an age of unprecedented deception that is leading to the Tribulation that we read about in Revelation. We don’t have the luxury to let down our guards. And so we must all put on our armor (Ephesians 6:10f) and view all with a healthy skepticism, just as the Bereans did in Acts 17:11. It is truly our only hope to understand what’s really going on and keep us from getting swept away into apostasy.

 

 

The Ingredient That Is in Everything…

A friend of a friend was diagnosed with cancer. The doctor he was seeing suggested that he stay away from a certain preservative that appears to either cause or exacerbate cancer. That friend told me what this doctor said.

I had never noticed this preservative before. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of it.

Before I go on, I must warn you. You may not want to know this. For if you believe what the doctor said (and I am still doing some research on this, although so far my findings would say, yes, it is true), it will eliminate many “good things” from your life. You will see it crop up in literally everything.

It’s in salad dressing. And lemon juice. It’s in every shampoo on a retail store shelf. It’s in fruit drinks and Turkey Hill unsweet tea (that one really surprised me!) It’s in kool-pops and popsicles. And a million other things. I’ve listed only a fraction of the places I’ve found this ingredient. It’s in economical store brand items as well as in expensive organic items.

So, I am just being honest, if you want your life to be easier and you’d rather just not know, just stop reading right now.

But I will continue for those of you who want to know the truth.

It is an ingredient called sodium benzoate. It is just plain old salt, according to one organic shampoo bottle. But is that what it is? Is that bottle being honest?

This preservative is not naturally occurring in any whole food. It is a lab-created ingredient created to extend the shelf life of certain items.

This should be of concern, given no one really knows its long-term affects. From what I can tell, it was only created in 2005 (I might be wrong on that, as it was hard to find the details of its history.)

So should humans be consuming so much sodium benzoate? Even if just a bit is added to a product, doesn’t our consumption of this additive add up quickly if we consume so many of those products?

I’m no chemist, so at this point I am just asking the questions. I think it’s a valid concern. I’ve started doing the work of reading ingredient labels and trying to avoid this preservative as much as I can. It seems nigh upon impossible to avoid it totally.

So are you seeing the comparisons of this ingredient to what we are seeing in Christianity these days?

The new Christianity (the mystic, self-centered, ecumenical version) is literally in everything. Once we are aware and start looking for it, we find it everywhere. While there are still a few pure churches, they are few and far between (as many of you can probably attest to). It’s an additive that comes in just bits and pieces at first. Although, unlike sodium benzoate, it is more like a terrible yeast that grows uncontrollably until it’s taken over the once-sound church or ministry.

But it begins as a bit. Just a tiny promotion of a false teacher here. A joining with a false church there. An almost invisible twist on the Gospel here. A book or movie recommendation there. Little things that look minuscule to the average church goer. But these little compromises spell disaster to the one who has taken the time to compare what is happening in this new Christianity to God’s Holy Word.

You see, you have to know what you are looking for and that it actually exists before you can understand what is taking place.

I had no idea what sodium benzoate was or even of its existence, before that one conversation. Unknowingly, I have been feeding and applying that to my body for years. And, of course, I must trust God’s protection.

But what is my duty now? Do I just ignore the truth and live life as normal? Or do I have a responsibility to share the truth and make some changes in my life? Changes that might mean giving up favorite products that I’ve used for years?

I am guessing you can see the clear parallel here. When we begin to see the truth of this new (i.e. false) Christianity, it requires something of us. And it isn’t a fun process. The truth rarely is. One by one, we start eliminating things that contain it. Books, music, movies, and other forms of compromised “Christian” entertainment. We start evaluating our churches and what they are preaching from the pulpits, teaching in their Sunday Schools, and using as books for their small groups and Bible Studies.

Whether we are discussing an unproven additive or a wave of unbiblical teachings, there will always be scores of people to tell you to relax. Trust the narrative. Stop witch-hunting. Stop being so negative. Stop doing your own research. Just. Stop.

But we can’t stop. Because it is the truth that sets us free. It truly is. It may be an easier road to not know it in the short term. But, in the long-term, knowing the truth is always best. Knowing the truth is what keeps you spiritually and physically healthy. It protects you from the harm and danger of the world. It keeps you from being deceived. Spiritual truth is what keeps Satan from devouring you.

So how in the world do we find this spiritually life-saving Truth?

It is in God’s Word. If we are in the Word and reading it and studying it with a humble heart and a readiness to obey, no matter the cost, God will show us the truth. We don’t need to study the ways of false teachers or make a long list of who has compromised. We can simply compare them to scripture and see, fairly quickly, if someone has compromised.

So what keeps people using sodium benzoate after they know the truth? What keeps people in the midst of false Christianity when they see the truth?

A few things probably.

Maybe laziness? It’s so much work to be diligent in keeping our lives healthy –both physically and spiritually.

Perhaps the cost? We often have to give up some of our very favorite things when God opens our eyes.

It could be the ridicule? The path of the truth is rarely popular and whether you are talking about a lab-created additive or a false teacher, you will deal with eye-rolling and disdain.

It is important we check our hearts for these reasons ourselves. When it comes to our physical bodies, we do have a certain responsibility to keep it healthy. But there is nothing more important than keeping ourselves spiritually pure and 100% committed to God and His Word. What keeps us from doing so? Is it one of the three reasons above? Or maybe something else?

This life is hard, isn’t it? I wish I could say I have this down, but I definitely struggle with the first reason, particularly. I can grow exhausted and in my exhaustion, I grow lazy. My flesh whispers “what does it matter, anyway?” and I give in. (That is one of the things I am looking most forward to in heaven– no whispering flesh!!)

But we must endure to the end. We may cave to laziness or an unwillingness to give something up or to the ridicule that is sure to come, but when God helps us to see it, we must acknowledge it, confess it, and then move on. Thankfully, we have a wonderfully forgiving God and He loves us dearly.

So let’s keep searching for the truth together in a world that hates it. And, I may add, even in a visible church that hates it. Because, whether or not we see it, it is always there and it changes everything.

 

 

Sometimes a Look Back Is Invaluable

The past is a tricky thing. Look back too often and you may end up in the quick sands of pride or bitterness. Never look back and you might repeat your mistakes. But there is always much to be gained by looking back at the lives of those who have gone before us. Unfortunately, this is generally neglected and viewed as “boring”.

I am deeply saddened by this because it is from these godly men and women of the past that we find examples of God-fearing, stand-firm-no-matter-what, holy Christian lives. God has always had His remnant–the true Church– woven throughout history. It has never been a group of great size or much popularity and it was often persecuted mercilessly. But it was always there.

If you have never heard of the Covenanters, the Huguenots, the Anabaptists, the Reformers, or the Dissenters then you may be unfamiliar with the persecution of the past. These are some of the more well-known persecuted groups. There are countless others.

Parenthetically, the true Church has been most persecuted by the followers of the false religion that goes by the name of Catholicism. It never fails to astound me to see the efforts to join with this church when I know the history of it. Only recently, I saw a video of Matt Redman and Chris Tomlin worshiping at the feet of the pope. These two popular artists are known by all. If not by name then by their songs, which are sung in churches around the world. Their apostasy in this way should alarm us beyond measure!

Protestants (named thus because they protested the false doctrines and abuses of the Catholic church) fought long and hard to divide from Catholicism. Many, many lost their lives pulling away from this false church to join Christ’s true Church. They lost their lives in horrible, unconscionable ways. Should we now join it in the name of unity and ecumenism? May it never be!

Some of the stories of these martyrs are recorded in a book called Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Which I read just a little at a time. It’s taking me years. Literally.

It’s actually a little overwhelming. So why would I even want to read a book like this?

There are a few reasons. I want to tell you what they are and then share a profound excerpt from the book itself.

First, one of the main reasons I like to read this book is to remind myself that God’s promises are true. He really will never forsake us. Even when we are overwhelmed by evil and wickedness in this life. Even when we are attacked, ridiculed, or betrayed. Prison, death sentences, or banishment can’t remove God’s grace and blessing from His children.

The accounts of these martyrs, recorded in this book written in the mid-1500s, are filled with amazing stories of God’s all-sufficient grace. Firmly standing on God’s Word, these men and women refused to recant in front of councils and in trials. There are many records of a martyr singing as he or she burns on the pyre. This can only be strength that comes from God.

So let me tell you… this is a LOT easier to write than to actually contemplate. We can tremble with apprehension when we consider what might lie ahead. But the testimonies of these faithful ones are a much needed reminder that God’s grace will be sufficient for whatever lies ahead.

Second, this book is a reminder of the price that has been paid by the true Church throughout the ages. Satan hates the Bride the Christ. He will do anything he can to shut it down. He has tried to snuff it out (persecution) and he has tried to join it (false religions that use the Bible). But God’s true Church lives on. Yes, it is small and unimpressive, by the world’s standards. But the Holy Spirit has moved and worked throughout the ages and continues to do so. The true Church will live on until she is raptured and taken home where Christ has prepared a place for her (John 14:1-4).

Third, a book like this (along with so many others that tell of the sufferings of believers in other times and lands) reminds us that suffering for speaking the truth should be expected. The Truth of the Word is never welcome to the world. Yes, the Holy Spirit continues His work of convicting and drawing individuals but it will never be the majority. The Word of God will never be appealing to the world at large, which loves its sin and wants no accountability. Wherever someone stands for Christ and His Word, there will be hatred and hostility. Some will give up their years in a prison or give their lives. Others will pay with their reputations or by losing precious relationships. Ridicule, attacks, and suffering should be expected. There is always a cost involved in following Christ whole-heartedly. Always.

And, finally, fourth, it is a great reminder that we need to fear only God. Matthew 10:28 says this–

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 

It is easy to get caught up in protecting our physical selves, isn’t it? I think many of us were surprised at how precious our lives were to us a couple of years ago in the midst of the 2020 craziness. We Christians thought we had our eyes on eternity but, all of a sudden, we had to actually ask ourselves that question. Do I have an eternal perspective? Or am I loving this world? That time made me really consider the hope that I had within me. Was it based on things above or was it based in this world?

These are questions we believers need to answer now. We need to build our healthy fear of God, which will naturally diminish our sinful fears. We need to strengthen our hearts and minds through our memorization and study of the Bible. We need to redeem the time in these evil days and stop squandering it on frivolous, worthless things. We need to pray that God would strengthen and prepare us for whatever lies ahead. And reading a few biographies of Christians who refused to waver wouldn’t hurt, either.

Since I know not all of you will pick up a book and start reading, I wanted to share this small excerpt from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. It profoundly impacted me. I thought it may also do the same for you–

*A merchant of Prague, going to Breslaw, in Silesia, happened to lodge in the same inn with several priests. Entering into conversation upon the subject of religious controversy, he passed many encomiums upon the martyred John Huss, and his doctrines. The priests taking umbrage at this, laid an information against him the next morning, and he was committed to prison as a heretic. Many endeavours were used to persuade him to embrace the Roman catholic faith, but he remained steadfast to the pure doctrines of the reformed church. Soon after his imprisonment, a student of the university was committed to the same jail; when, being permitted to converse with the merchant, they mutually comforted each other. On the day appointed for execution, when the jailer began to fasten ropes to their feet, by which they were to be dragged through the streets, the student appeared quite terrified, and offered to abjure his faith, and turn Roman catholic if he might be saved. The offer was accepted, his abjuration was taken by a priest, and he was set at liberty. A priest applying to the merchant to follow the example of the student, he nobly said, “Lose no time in hopes of my recantation, your expectations will be vain; I sincerely pity that poor wretch, who has miserably sacrificed his soul for a few more uncertain years of a troublesome life; and, so far from having the least idea of following his example, I glory in the very thoughts of dying for the sake of Christ.” On hearing these words, the priest ordered the executioner to proceed, and the merchant being drawn through the city was brought to the place of execution, and there burnt.

Read what the merchant “nobly said” once more.

This is the bottom line, is it not? May we never “sacrifice our soul for a few more uncertain years”. May we never sacrifice our soul for a bit of popularity or in our desire to be admired by the world. May we never sacrifice our soul to keep the peace. May we never sacrifice our soul to be spared a moment of ridicule or embarrassment.

By God’s grace, may we never sacrifice our souls.

Oh, these are evil days as the world grows more and more hostile to biblical truth. But God still reigns and nothing can touch us until He says so. May we soldier on in full armor as His ambassadors in this world until He calls us home.

 

 

 

 

*Foxe, John. Fox’s Book of Martyrs (Or A History of the Lives, Sufferings, and TriumphantDeaths of the Primitive Protestant Martyrs). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.

The Apostate Church

Sometimes it is only when we take some time to reflect on the past that we can see the vastness of the change that has occurred. Take our own kids, for example. We live with them day by day, hour by hour, but we never specifically notice their legs growing longer or their brain maturing. It’s not until they’ve grown up that we think through all the various changes and stages and recognize the enormity of the change. Or take a struggling marriage. Little by little, couples grow apart and possibly turn to others for comfort rather than to each other. It is not until it becomes painfully obvious that the couple stops and wonders how they got to where they are.

All change is like that and enormous change is no exception.

A few years ago, I was talking with my oldest daughter about the many changes that are taking place in the church. She told me that Uncle Dean’s (Pastor Dean Good) series on Jude was so helpful in regards to this subject. Preached in 2009, it gives a great picture of what the church of the last days will look like and gave her much insight.

So I listened. And then I listened another time. And this past week, I’ve listened one more time.

(If you’d like to listen, you will find the series here. Scroll down to the bottom for the first sermon of the series, titled Living in the Midst of the Worldly Church, and then work your way up.)

You see, God doesn’t just leave us wondering what the last days will look like. He actually gives us a picture. And He tells us that as we approach the end of this age, the church will become, by and large, apostate.

So you may be wondering: What does apostate mean, anyway?

Apostate, in this context, means to abandon true, biblical faith.

So, think with me if you will of how this has happened (this is not from the sermon series but from my own reflection of history.). This change has occurred –not over the last five years, not over the last twenty years, but over the last century or more. The change has been so gradual that most of us never took much notice. At first, it was just certain denominations that abandoned biblical faith. Others would soon follow suit. But there was still a core hanging on. For most of the 1900s, there was this core of evangelical, fundamental churches that hung on to sound biblical doctrine.

I was born in the 1960s. By the time I reached high school that core was starting to be carefully and intentionally corroded. But I, along with millions of other believers, had no idea. Now, I can look back and see. The worship battles that took place in churches all over the country were part of that change. As was the “purpose-driven” (or can you say BUSINESS) model for operating a church. The push to move the church’s focus from the Bible to personal experience was not an accident. Neither was the insistence that we must be “relevant” if we were going to reach the lost (a lie from the pit of hell.)

We can probably all look back and see signs of change. Now. We couldn’t see it then. Because we didn’t know.

I remember my youth pastor showing us worldly movies as a “youth activity” in the 80s. And I remember a pastor bringing in the Purpose-Driven church book to the board my husband was serving on. I can see now that many of the “Christian” books I read and the “Christian” music I listened to were filled with mysticism and all other kinds of false (but oh, so subtle) doctrine.

But, as with any change, I couldn’t see it then. It is only in looking back that I can see these signs (and so many others) of a church that was falling into apostasy.

And this is where Pastor Dean’s sermon series was so helpful. Because God gives us a description of this church of the last days. And it matches perfectly to what we have been seeing take place, not only in America but across the world. This simply serves as one more reminder that the time is short. Eschatologically, the mainstream “church” is just where we are told she will be at the end of the age. Remember, this is not the true Church, which is the bride of Christ that contains the remnant of those following the true, biblical faith. This is, rather, an apostate version that uses all the right terms and phrases but is godless.

Titus describes these types of people in chapter 1, verse 16–

They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being [d]abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

Lots of “professions” of salvation but no turning from sin or from the world. This is an indication that a true life transformation has not occurred. When these “professors” gather together in groups and call themselves a church, they make each other comfortable in their worldliness and acceptance of sin. They gladly grab on to the pleasant promises of God’s Word (if they pay attention to the Word at all) but ignore or rationalize away any of the unpleasant parts.

The church of today (almost without exception) is a church focused on self instead of God. It is a church focused on experiences instead of the Bible. It is a church that views discernment and negative words as evil and instead warmly accepts any and all new fodder that has a the label of “Christian”. And it is a church focused on embracing the world instead of separating from the world.

There are few churches left –even the ones we have counted on to be solid– that have stood firm against the tsunami of change that has washed over evangelicalism.

I was struck when I was studying Titus last week. Chapter 1 gives this qualification for church elders:  holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

If church elders would have obeyed this scripture, many churches would have been saved. Instead, they were caught up in other trivial matters as the serpent stole his way into the hearts of the churches.

Because of the lateness of the hour, there is no saving the church as a whole. But, with God’s help, you pastors and elders can save your own churches and you moms and dads can save your own families.

So what to do? Jude helps us! Let’s take a look at verses 20-23–

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

22 And on some have compassion, [j]making a distinction; 23 but others save [k]with fear, pulling them out of the [l]fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.

First, we must build ourselves up in the faith through prayer. We cannot withstand this Tsunami of apostasy without Bible study and prayer. It is truly our only anchor in this unprecedented and giant wave of change. And we must persevere, keeping ourselves in the love of God through our submission and obedience, as we look for Christ’s return that will take us to our eternal home.

And then we act. We take whatever opportunities God gives us to help. Sometimes that will mean showing compassion on doubters as we take them to the Word and other times it will mean snatching individuals from the serious danger of apostasy. The wisdom of what is needed for each opportunity will only come through walking closely with God through prayer and Bible Study.

So this is what God has told us to do as we navigate these last days. But Jude doesn’t end there. He goes on to give these marvelous words to conclude (verses 24-25)–

24 Now to Him who is able to keep [m]you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
25 To [n]God our Savior,
[o]Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and [p]power,
Both now and forever.
Amen.

What an amazing reminder that it is God who works in and through us for His glory. And we cannot stumble if He is our guide. And, while our path may be difficult during earth’s final days, the day will come when we will be presented faultless before the throne–only because of Christ’s sacrifice. And then there is this wonderful reminder that the God we serve has all wisdom, glory, majesty, dominion, and power. We are loved and protected by the one and only God of the Universe. It’s an awesome thought.

And so we are not left without counsel and wisdom for where we find ourselves in these days–even if we feel lost and lonely in our own church. As Pastor Dean has said–expect to be persecuted by those who call themselves Christians. True, biblical faith is not and will never be popular (John 15:18-19). True biblical faith stands clearly separated from the world (James 4:4). True, biblical faith grows in holiness (I Peter 1:15-16). And true biblical faith avoids false doctrine (Romans 16:17).

As we compare these things above to the church of today, we can see the tragic departure from true biblical faith. May we unapologetically and courageously follow God’s Word as we strive to walk with God in this unique time of history. Only by God’s grace and mercy will we survive what is ahead. But God is able to keep us from stumbling! He will not forsake us.

 

 

On Racism

Do any of you remember when the Poconos in Pennsylvania used to be a hotspot for honeymooners? Back in the old days, international travel was only for the very wealthy or businessmen. Many of us only dreamed of leaving America and traveling the world. So when our fifth wedding anniversary arrived, we naturally thought about the Poconos. Only a few hours from here, it seemed a good place to spend the weekend and celebrate our five years. We left the kids with Grandpa and Grandma and headed out. When we arrived, we could see that even then already, their better days were behind them. It was already starting to look a bit run down. But we knew we’d have fun, anyway.

At dinnertime, we entered a room with tables for four. Much to our dismay, we were placed with another couple whom we didn’t know at all. This was not part of our plan and it was frustrating to sit with strangers on our anniversary trip. But, unbeknownst to us, God had a very special treat in store for us that would live on in our memories for the rest of our lives.

The couple that sat down to eat with us was a Nigerian couple from New York City. He was a police officer there and kept us entertained with many stories of both New York and Nigeria (it was there that we learned how different and luxurious American prisons are compared to the rest of the world.) But the most special thing of all was that this couple were vibrant believers. The bond we shared around that table was the bond of family. We were related in Christ and it was such an amazing time. It didn’t matter that they were black and we were white. It didn’t matter that they were from the city and we were from the country. We were family through Jesus Christ.

I have often thought of this dinner since this whole conversation about racism has cropped up in the “church” recently. (I use quotes because I don’t believe many God-fearing, Bible-believing churches have fallen for the lies that are being propagated by this movement.)

You see, when racism is truly non-existent in the Body of Christ, all people are treated with respect and love. No matter the color or race, all are welcomed in the bond of unity that we have in Christ. There is no special treatment or “reparations” for past hurts. We accept one another and think of others more than we think of ourselves.

This is not what you are seeing in this modern day movement. Not at all.

And this leads me to the conclusion that this movement is not of God, for they have not reached biblical conclusions.

I love Colossians 3:11–

where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

In a truly non-racist, unified church there is no thought to race or color. It isn’t an issue. Because we are all one in Christ.

Compare that to the shouts for fairness and the cries for reparations. Compare that to the discrimination that is now taking place against white males. Is this of God? Most certainly not. In fact, this is racism at its finest– sanctioned under the guise of evangelical religion.

Oh, how did we get here? How has this happened?

I want to close with this quote from James T. Draper, Jr., which is based on Titus 1:4. In this verse, Paul asserts that Titus and he have a common faith. I love what he has to say and I think that, although this is an old book, what Draper has to say is quite relevant for us all today–

“Titus was a Greek, Paul a Jew. But Paul was saying, ‘We have a common faith. (Titus 1:4) God loves us both. God has a purpose for both of us, God has a common desire for our lives and hearts.” God’s community is for everyone. His is a universal message, one that all can understand, one that all desperately need. It is good for rich and poor, young and old, black and white, educated and unlearned, men of all races, creeds, and nationalities.

That is the message of the Word of God. None of us are left outside by it. None of us are too insignificant to be touched by it. None of us are too untalented to be used in the community of the faith. That is the good news of the Gospel.”

So may I encourage you to look to the Bible for the answers to your questions about racism and not to the world? And particularly not to the mainstream church, who truly have it ALL wrong.

 

 

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