church

Time to Wake Up

Last night at 12:22am, our phone rang. It jarred me out of a very deep sleep and my heart started pounding. It’s not usually a good thing when the phone rings at night and my thoughts went immediately to our parents. It ended up being an automated call about our company’s security system (at 12:22am!) and I started to breathe easily again. But it took a long time for my heart to stop pounding and my brain to slow down.

A few hours later, we woke up to a short beep. We looked around, couldn’t figure it out, and closed our eyes. We were just about back to sleep when we heard it again. It seemed to be coming from my nightstand. I decided it must be some kind of low battery signal from my alarm clock. I unplugged the clock and we settled down for a couple of more hours of sleep. But, no. There it was again! At this third beep, I flew out of bed, turned on the light, and examined my table. Finally, my husband said he thinks it’s the phone. The cordless phone (which I had answered at 12:22am) had lost its charge and was begging to be put back in its cradle. How it lost its charge in just a few short hours is a mystery. That particular phone rarely leaves its cradle and was sitting on it when I answered during the night.

Those rude awakenings made for a rough night of sleep. No wonder I feel so tired this morning.

Those sleep interruptions remind me of the life we are living now. We so badly want to go back to our normal ordinary living but we keep getting jarred awake by discouraging and often nonsensical happenings. We will live for a few days–perhaps even a week or two–and we can forget how much the world has changed. But then something vividly reminds us.

I wrote parts of what you will read below on Facebook the other day, but decided to expand here as many of you are not on Facebook and, also, because I did not include or expand on certain things due to space. I want to warn you that this first part is going to be somewhat discouraging but just keep reading. It gets better.

As we catch bits and pieces of news these past days, we see many disturbing things. In America, It seems like almost every day we hear of laws that will strip us of our rights. We hear of terrible things happening at the borders. We hear of people dying from Covid and from the vaccine. And we hear about supply shortages and higher expenses. Meanwhile the government is throwing money it doesn’t have at its citizens to pacify them. This can’t end well.

There are perhaps even more disturbing happenings from across the world, where we hear of extreme lockdown measures that continue to keep people from traveling even within their own countries. There are massive protests across Europe about these lockdowns, which we never hear about in the mainstream news. A pastor in Canada was recently released from a five week stay in jail for his church’s in-person meetings against his province’s health guidelines. And then there are the reports coming from Israel that there is “medical apartheid” going on. If you aren’t vaccinated, you are viewed as Enemy #1 and with their newly instated “green pass”, only the vaccinated are allowed to eat at restaurants indoors, go to events, and even shop in some stores. Many of their citizens have been forced to be vaccinated or lose their jobs. Now keep in mind–this is over a virus that has a death rate that is actually less than 4% (and that death rate has been falsified in so many ways and with the falsifications being proven by so many different studies and reports that it is hard for any thinking person to deny it.) There’s much more going on in this world. But that’s enough.

Not only is the world in chaos but the church at large is also in major chaos. Here in America, we read of a famous “Christian” singer who was recorded shouting obscenities at his son. We see an ugly debate over a recent Christian book and the promotion of Bethel by a much trusted Christian. The promotion of wokism and social justice in Baptist and other once-solid churches is now the norm. The church has been on a bad trajectory for quite awhile but it has taken on warp speed. Why does it matter what is happening to the American church? I believe it is because she has been a beacon of the Christian faith in this world for many years. It has been she who has sent thousands of missionaries across the world and it is she who has been one of Israel’s greatest supporters. As this American church weakens and is overtaken by apostasy, so the darkness won’t only increase in America, but across the world. (Did you know that many mission organizations aren’t even sharing the Gospel anymore? Or if they do it is as an “add-on” to the person’s current religion? There is much going on in the world of missions. Be careful whom you support.)

What is especially interesting to see is the efforts to draw all people into a one world religion (which we have been told is coming in Revelation 13), with many once-trusted figures joining with false teachers or promoting false doctrine. I recently saw a “Christian” company who is re-making their company with an emphasis on Buddhism, while still claiming to be Christian. I’ve heard of “Christian” pastors and teachers joining with Islam. In fact, it is so common that it’s been given a name: “Chrislam”. There is just so much wrong with the modern day mainstream church across the world. What I have written is just a glimpse into all that’s going on.

But let me encourage you! As the American church has weakened, the true church in other countries is growing. Oftentimes, this is happening in countries where there is much persecution and cost for being a believer. The true church is still so wonderfully alive and well and will always remain so until the Lord returns for her. Yes, she will be small but perhaps we are simply gaining a new understanding of Matthew 7:13-14? Our Lord told us the gate is narrow and few there will be that find it.

Then there are weather events. Did you know that last year in America there were 16 ‘one-billion dollar’ weather events? This means that insurance companies had to pay out at least one billion dollars in coverage. There are usually under ten per year. And this year the Texas freeze has already been a three billion dollar event. So not only is the world going crazy, so is the weather. And that’s just in America. This pattern continues across the world, with an increase in hurricanes, volcanic activity, and earthquakes. The official data shows this increase in activity. I think we can all agree that the weather has seemed to sense the mood of the earth. We hear that it’s global warming causing all this havoc. I tend to believe it is the beginning of the birth pangs as predicted in Matthew 24. Of course, I could be wrong. It’s just an observation.

Meanwhile, technology is exponentially increasing, making possible the mark of the beast as predicted in Revelation 13. One can easily see how the green pass in Israel and the mandatory chipping of employees in Sweden are stepping stones to the mark of the Beast. (Let me be clear: The vaccine is NOT the mark of the beast.) Yes, how they will make the mark of the beast possible is becoming just a little clearer with each passing day. Technology is also now available to see the two witnesses in live time from anywhere in the world through satellites. Anything that we thought was impossible forty or fifty years ago when we read Revelation is now possible. It’s mind-blowing when you really stop to think about it.

And then, finally, the last thing I want to touch on is globalism. I have thought for many years now that it would be quite impossible to have a one world government with a strong America. I believe that we are watching the intentional take-down of this country. I do not say this lightly. The evidence is clearly there. This, along with the failing economies of other countries around the world, will pave the way for a global government. They are already discussing it. Just look up the World Economic Forum and read some of their chilling plans.

I haven’t even mentioned the activity in the middle east that is lining up with scripture in a way that could only be supernatural.

It’s funny because I never really thought before 2020 of the many details and changes that would need to be put in place for the Revelation 13 scenario to come to the world. But now as we are living them, it makes so much sense. It’s not like you can just suddenly have a one world government, a one world religion, and a mark of the beast that is needed to buy and sell. These things can’t just happen instantly. There must be much happening in the years before that.

Now you may be saying to yourself right now “I don’t agree with you“. And I want you to know, first of all, that I am not trying to change your mind. I don’t think it will really matter what we believe about world happenings when the Lord returns. Second of all, I am so gladly willing to hear evidence to the contrary. I would gladly admit it if I am wrong. I simply ask you to do some research on your own before commenting with negative words to this post. Spend some time finding out about the vaccine from doctors who are losing their licenses and reputations to sound the alarm. Read a few news sources that are not carefully controlled. Dig into history to find out the background of current events.

To me–and I know to many of you, as well–it is so clear that the end is near. Everything the Bible predicted is either happening or being set up to happen.

How does one live in a world that is getting ready to end?

It can be tempting to fear and to be anxious. It is tempting to just withdraw and ignore.

And, honestly, I don’t pay much attention to the news anymore. I am not going to change what is happening by knowing about every detail. And we aren’t really getting real news anyway. At least not in America. We are getting a very scripted narrative.

Does anyone else find themselves hunkering down in the midst of all of this and just living a more simple life? One where family, work, and church are the main priorities?

That’s what I find myself doing. And, honestly, if it wasn’t for the wonderings and uncertainty of the future, I’d be happier for it. There is much to be said for the simpler life.

Actually, “hunkering down” is probably not the best term to use. I don’t mean that we shelter in our houses and don’t go out. I am referring more to a life where we invest in our families, treasure fellowship with like-minded believers, and have conversations that actually matter with both the unsaved and the saved. A life where we focus on what’s important.

Our families need us. They need us to be engaged and communicating and laughing with them. They need us to turn away from our phones and our TVs and our activities to love them and teach them about God and His Word.

Our church families need us. I have heard from several different people now how difficult it is to find people to serve in various ministries at local churches. This is so discouraging. We need to be actively serving as we wait for the Lord to come. This is not the time to back out of all of our church ministries.

Our communities need us. I spoke with a woman yesterday whose family is deeply hurting from this past year. Their extended families have been deeply affected economically by Covid and they are trying to help them. But they, themselves, had to take a 10% pay cut. It’s been a rough road to travel for them. I am sure her story could be told a million times over across the world. In fact, many are facing much worse things. Some are struggling to even eat. We need to support those who are hurting however we can. We need to boldly share the Gospel when we are given opportunity. We need to show God’s love in this harsh, harsh world.

It’s time for the alarms around us to wake us up to what’s important. It’s time to wake up to the fact that we are probably never going back to our old “normal”.

This reminds me of the verses from I Thessalonians 5:5-11—

You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be [a]sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.

11 Therefore [b]comfort each other and [c]edify one another, just as you also are doing.

We mustn’t sleep as others do but watch and be sober. We are children of the day. Children of the light. And we must keep our eyes open and our armor on.

And don’t forget that one of these days we will be raptured! The Lord has promised that we will escape the wrath to come. We are not going to be here while the earth experiences the worst seven years in its history. Oh, praise the Lord for keeping His own from this terrible time.

Meanwhile, as we traverse the land of “limbo”, waiting for whatever is next, we need to make the best of it and appreciate what we have now. We need to be actively serving our Lord and sharing the Gospel. And we need to be sure we are growing deep roots of faith so that we can stand firm and face whatever may be ahead.

This is not the time to be resting and waiting. We need to be in the Word, learning who God is, learning to trust Him. Another thing that has been tremendously helpful to me is reading stories of missionaries and other Christians who have gone on before us. These are incredibly faith-building and are a wonderful reminder of God’s care and provision in the worst of times.

So hang on tight. It looks like we may be in for quite a ride. But let’s be sure to hang on to the right thing. Stuff will decay. People will let you down. Glory will fade. Only God and His Word are a sure anchor in the turmoil around us.

And so let us cling to Him alone. He will never fail us for He cannot fail.

 

How the Church Was Fooled

Ah, what a ride we have been on. It didn’t start in 2020, you know. It started way back when most of us were completely unaware. While we were busy and distracted and being entertained, things were being orchestrated behind the scenes to bring us to where we are today.

While that was all going on, things were also happening in the church, where priorities were shifted and changed. The church lost its spiritual impact and became a watered down, social institution. How did this happen?

I think there are many changes and deceptions that have led the church to where she finds herself today. Shall we take a brief look at them?

Superficial Youth Groups  — Sometime shortly before my own youth, the young people were separated out from the adults and fed a diet of entertainment and fun. While there was some shallow teaching of the Bible, the main gist of youth groups became fun. The young minds that used to be built up in the faith by the older generations were now left to be filled with the fodder of this world. Many grew up to walk away from church, as what they received there was fairly useless.

The Numbers Game — A big thank you to Rick Warren for turning church into a popularity contest. Somehow the church bought his lie and, over the course of just a few years, the health of a church started being based on the amount of people that attended it. In order to gain those all-important numbers, pastors started to move away from biblical sermons and, in their place, offered short, self-help talks that made people feel good. No more talk about sin and repentance, for that was offensive. It became all about the numbers.

The Change in Music — The worship service became centered on worldly music, which usurped the place of the sermon as the center. Serious, doctrinally-sound music was pushed out of the way and in its place came shallow, mystical tunes. This has taken a huge toll on the churches, both in dividing the masses and in causing many to base their worship of God on their feelings and experiences, rather than on daily obedience and holiness.

Dominion/Kingdom Now Theology — Many who claim to be Christians are currently working feverishly to build God’s Kingdom now, right here on this earth. Despite the biblical evidence to the contrary (that we are not to be building God’s Kingdom on earth), many have bought this lie and this will fold them right into that one world religion that we know is coming, according to Revelation. Anyone who believes that humans will build God’s Kingdom is quite susceptible to the cries for peace and a better world.

Social Gospel — The social gospel has moved the hearts of Christians from pleasing God to pleasing man. It has moved the heart of Christianity from the true Gospel (Salvation through faith in Christ alone) to helping our fellow man. Our spiritual health is determined by how much we help our fellow man and how nice we are to everyone. Everything else the Bible teaches is pretty much ignored.

Judge Not — The church bought the lie that we are never to judge our fellow man. This left man to do as he pleases without any accountability. It effectively crippled the churches so that they could not confront or deal with blatant sin in their church fellowships. But the Bible teaches in multiple places that we are to confront sin and judge the fruit of someone who claims to know Christ.

Christianity Became About Me— Once again, I believe we have Rick Warren to thank for this. His Purpose-Driven Life became the textbook for many a Sunday School Class in the 90s. Piggy-backing off the self-esteem movement, it moved the focus of the Christian life off of God and onto the individual. Obedience, separation from the world, holiness, and purity were discarded and in their place came following dreams and finding purpose. This was going on long before that book was published, but I do believe this was what finally landed the church solidly in self-based religion.

God Only Cares About My Heart — Christians starting using this to justify their worldly choices. And the world came like a flood into the church. Of course, anyone saying this does not know their Bible very well, since God makes it abundantly clear that a pure heart will yield a fruitful life.

We Have to Be Like the World to Win the World — Oh, what an insidious lie! Why would anyone want what we have if we look just like them? Again, Christians wanted to fulfill their own worldly lusts and this was a way they could have their cake and eat it, too. But this was not without ramifications and their minds became darkened and sensual. And more of the world poured into the church.

Positive Words are Godly, Negative Words are Sinful — This is NOT in the Bible, but thanks to the likes of Schuller and Peale and many others, being “positive” has become the defining trait of someone who is a “Christian”. And if someone dares to speak negative words about a false teacher or the state of affairs, well, then they are sinning. Many believe this. Maybe even you believe this. But is this what we read in scripture? It surely is not. I encourage you to do your own study and find out what the Bible says about this.

Love and Unity Are Always More Important Than Truth — And, finally, somewhere along the line, love and unity started taking priority over truth. As truth became unappreciated and unnecessary, lies crept in and took root in the hearts of so many. Without discernment and a love for the truth, Christians were left susceptible to all the lies mentioned above and so, so many more. Love is important. But it is not more important than the truth. And, yet, whether we are talking in intellectual terms or practical application, most Christians have come to believe that love and unity are more important than truth.

 

As I think on what the Bible says about the last days, all that is going on fits in quite well. What we are actually seeing is the false church parting ways with the remnant. So what can we do?

I think of Jude when asked this question. It is here we receive counsel and wisdom about what we should do and how we should respond–

Jude 17-23– But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They[f] said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment[g] stained by the flesh.

As division and strife in the churches are caused by worldly people who are devoid of the Holy Spirit, Jude encourages us to build ourselves up in the faith and to pray in the Holy Spirit. In other words, keep growing and keep praying! He then goes on to say that we are to keep ourselves in the love of God, which is our shelter in any storm, and then quietly wait for His mercy.

As for the deceived and lost around us, we are to have mercy, and, as God gives opportunities, help to save them.

This and only this is our calling. We are not called to fix the state of the church (or the world, for that matter.) We are not told to berate and argue with the scoffers.

It is my opinion that, due to the many lies and deceptions that now define today’s worldly church, she is beyond repair. It has not been an instant change but one that has been deviously carried out by Satan over the course of many years. These lies and deceptions have reached their tentacles into every denomination and almost every Christian home. What we are seeing now is simply the fruit of all the labor that has been put into preparing the “church” to be folded into the coming one world religion. Isn’t it becoming so clear now?

So be aware and continue to build yourselves up in the faith through prayer and through the Bible, our only anchor in all of this craziness, until the end. And, someday, maybe soon now, we will all meet together in glory to praise and glorify our great God!

 

Please NOTE: I have purposely not included verses or references today. If you have read this blog with any frequency, you will know that this is quite unusual as I almost always try to back up what I am saying with scripture references. But today I am asking you to search the scriptures for yourself. If something I said in this post doesn’t seem biblical to you, please look into the Word to find out. Please feel free to email me (see contact info in menu above) if I can answer any questions that you have regarding what I said above. I love hearing from my readers! :)

Revival: What It Is and What It Isn’t

The word “revival” has always been tossed about freely by Christians. It is our hope for this temporal world, it would solve what ails the culture, it would fix so many problems.

I hear this word more than ever now, as the culture grows darker and darker. “There could still be revival,” is heard often by those whose fervent hope is to get back to some type of normalcy. Whose hope is to start the culture in a more positive direction.

But what exactly is revival? And is it something we can and should expect? These are the questions I’d like to take a look at today as our world grows increasingly darker and our hope for this world teeters on the brink of extinction.

Merriam-Webster gives this definition of Revival as it relates to religion–

(1) : a period of renewed religious interest

 
Dictionary.com gives this definition–

an awakening, in a church or community, of interest in and care for matters relating to personal religion.
 
So we can see that Revival, as it relates to religion, means an awakening in matters of personal religion. In fact, one of the most famous revivals of all was called “The Great Awakening”. It happened in the mid-1700s and the two most famous men connected to it are Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield, although there were many lesser-known men (and women) used by God during that great time.

What brought about such revival? Many years ago I read Iain Murray’s Jonathan Edwards (which I highly recommend, by the way). As I recall, there were three very important keys to that famous Revival: 1) Prayer and 2) Repentance of sin and 3) Separation from the world.

Fervent, frequent prayer was the fuel of the revival and the people’s repentance of sin and separation from the world was the result of that prayer.

The church in that day was much like the church of this day, in that many people went to church to ease their consciences but there was little true religion.

I remember thinking as I was reading: This sounds so much like today.

We always think we are so much worse, but there really is nothing new under the sun.

So, given the definition of revival and the three important components of revival, should we expect revival?

I think it is important to say, first, that none of us knows what is ahead. We never have known but, now more than ever, the future is unsettled and uncertain. As you read anything I say below, please keep this in mind. We can only guess where we are at on God’s timeline by reading the signs. None of us can know definitively or specifically.

What I do know from reading scripture is that in the last days (which I strongly believe we are in because of the signs given to us in the Bible), times will wax worse and worse (Read 2 Timothy 3 and Jude). People will not truly turn to the Lord but they will pretend to be godly while loving their sin and this world.

From these passages, I don’t believe we should expect revival on any large scale, although there may be scattered pockets throughout the world.

But, of course, I don’t know.

Here’s what I do know:

Much of the talk of Revival these days is not true revival.

How do I know this?

It is because, while there may be talk of a vague repentance, there is rarely talk of repenting of specific, personal sins and never talk of turning from the world.

Most Christians who declare revival as this world’s solution rarely, if ever, encourage people to turn from not only their sin, but also from their fascination with and love for this world.

And, yet, can there be true revival without it? I think not.

James makes this extremely clear in chapter 4, verse 7–

Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

We cannot be in right relationship with God if we are in love with the world. And when we hear calls for revival, we never hear anything about this.

Christians are quite comfortable in this world. They live their married lives like the world (Dad is not the head of the home, moms leave their children to go to work); They parent like the world (they don’t discipline, they ignore what the Bible teaches); They watch, listen to, and read the same things as the world. They wear the same things as the world, letting even their precious teen girls dress in such a way to draw sexual attention to themselves so that they are accepted by their friends (I am shocked and dismayed at the many Christian parents who allow this. I cannot even believe it. And I see no conviction about this. From any direction. I’ll climb down off my soap box now. This has been puzzling me for years now.)

Christians look like the world. It is hard to see any difference, really.

And I am convinced more than ever that Revival cannot come while we Christians are steeped in this world.

If we want to bring true revival, we must wean ourselves from this world.

So how much do we actually want revival? How concerned are we for souls? Or are we more concerned about getting back to our comfortable, convenient lives and the world we believed we lived in? These are questions worth our consideration.

If true revival means fervent prayer (by true believers) and turning from sin and from this world, what is all this talk about revival among false teachers (and those who we thought were true teachers that are joining with false teachers)?

I think that is a great question.

You see, there is such a thing as fake revival. And it will be characterized by many people coming together with worldly music and raised hands, powerfully moved by emotion. The truth of God’s Word in these meetings means nothing. Personal repentance of sin and commitment to separate from the world are never a part of these kinds of meetings. It is an ecumenical unity based on feelings.

I believe there will be many fake revivals. In fact, there will be a last, great fake revival when people take the mark of the beast as an act of worship. People will bow at the feet of the Antichrist, believing he IS the Christ (Revelation 13).

It is so important that we carefully examine any rumors of revival by these standards. What is driving it? Is it fueled by prayer? Is there a focus on repentance? On turning from this world?

As we ponder these things, I think we must also realize that true revival starts with individuals. You and me. While we may not expect a wave of revival to overtake this nation or the world, we can perhaps start mini-revivals in our own homes and churches and communities. This can happen through much prayer and our own personal turning away from sin and this world. It is a painful process and we can expect much marginalization and ridicule, but it will yield fruit. Perhaps not as much as we’d hope for, but God will always use a life dedicated to Him for His purposes and His glory.

So pray for Revival. But make sure you are praying for the right kind of Revival and for the right reasons.

I want to leave you with these words by David Cloud on this topic of Revival–

The heart of the tree is being eaten away even as the watchers are pleased at keeping a few leaves alive. Some type of revival could happen if individual Christians and individual churches would repent of an adulterous love for this God-hating world, repent of setting the affections more on things below than things above, and earnestly beseech God’s help. Who knows how far the forces of evil could be driven back? God has never needed a majority. Gideon’s vigilant few are enough. But so many churches are like Sardis; they have a name that they live, but they are dead. They are comfortable in the world, not pilgrims but dwellers, mighty for pot luck but weak for spiritual warfare, zealous for video games and sports and consuming fleeting hours on social media vanity, but not zealous students of God’s Word, passionate for parties but not for prayer. (From Friday News, Nov 13, 2020)

 

Attacking Messengers, Crucifying Dissenters, and Belittling Questioners

Over the past twenty years or so, I have experienced the vitriol of those blindly following a person or a cause. Social media is the mecca for such interactions and to post a dissenting comment has made anyone come to expect sarcasm, anger, and even hatred. I have talked with others who have experienced this, as well.

This dynamic takes place anywhere people are gathered online. It seems a lot worse right now, but perhaps that is because so many of us are relegated to online interaction. Somehow when people get online, they remove all inhibitions. They would never, ever talk to someone face-to-face the way they talk to someone online. At least, I hope they wouldn’t!

But there are a lot of debates and disagreements and controversies going on online right now and I wanted to make you aware of a few things to look for as you watch this all take place.

By the way, while this does take place in the secular world quite a bit, we understand that they are unbelievers and have rejected God’s ways. While it is interesting to observe, it is certainly not surprising. However, it borders on tragic that this is the same approach of many in the evangelical circles. People that you trust. I encourage you to look for these as you encounter quarrels and controversies in these current days.

It is a three-pronged approach, where one, two, or all of these prongs may be used to put down the “enemy”. I wanted to make you aware of them because it is critically important that we recognize them and then move them aside in order to look at the real issue at hand. They are a decoy. They are a smoke screen to draw your eyes away from the real issue. Don’t be deceived.

Here are the three prongs–

1. Attack the Messenger. Instead of answering the accusations, they will attack the messenger. They will call them all kinds of names, put them down, make them out to be unloving, unkind, divisive, and unintelligent. They will dredge up old sins. They will cast doubt on their integrity. This trick is as old as the books, but don’t let them fool you. And, hey, in some cases, maybe the person sharing the message is some of those things. This still doesn’t release us from investigating to see if what they are saying is true. Beware character assassination. It is a bright red flag and should lead you to mistrust, rather than to trust, the person conducting it.

2. Crucifying Dissenters. How dare you disagree? You are NOT allowed to disagree and so we will crucify you with our words. I am not sure when the world changed but I see leaders encouraging their followers to act like this. Secular and Christian alike, their followers are using words to spread venom and hatred and, rather than discouraging this type of thing, the leader seems to encourage it. This is because it is an important part of the three-pronged approach. They are counting on their followers to silence anyone who disagrees. Blind loyalty yields a passion that will stop at nothing to defend its subject.

3. Belittling Questioners. If someone simply asks a question, they are belittled and mocked. If an accusation is raised and an honest questioner simply wants to find out more, they find out very quickly that, this, too, is NOT allowed. No questions may be asked of someone who has been faithful to the Lord for fifty years. No questions can be asked of the governor. No questions can be asked of the singer or the author or the pastor. No questions can be asked of the government or the politician. No questions allowed. Period. If you dare to ask them, people will call you selfish and question your character. They will call you names and ridicule you. All this, for simply asking a question.

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As I write this, my heart is heavy. It is especially heavy because I see this being used in the Christian world as much, or even more, than in the secular world. It is a treacherous world we live in these days. Please be on the look-out for these things. They are signs that all may not be right. Not a guarantee, of course, but definitely worth some research.

Before I close, I want to add one more {very important} thing–

As believers, we are called to respond differently! People are watching us. They see what we post and they are reading it.

Everything we post, whether it be a tweet, a Facebook post, a comment on a post, a comment on a news article or blog post, and anything else should be carefully worded with LOVE. There should never be biting sarcasm, anger, or vitriol spewing forth from our keyboards. This is a dishonor to our heavenly Father.

Make no mistake about it: We are in a spiritual war.

As we fight it, let’s be an asset to our King through truthful, loving, and kind interaction with others. Satan wants nothing more than to create havoc and chaos within the church. We can’t fall for his bait.

I don’t know where all this is headed. Or rather, I think I do. The world and the church has gone off in a direction over these past twenty years or so that I find most disheartening. But, thankfully, we know God is still on the throne. As His servants, may we carefully discern and examine all things. As His witnesses, may we do all we can to be a bright and shining light in this increasingly darkening world.

 

Time for a Change

Have you ever felt like you were in a spiritual battle when you started to really give sincere effort to read and study the Word? There’s a reason for that.

Satan knows that the power for the Christian life is in God’s Word.

It’s not in a book about God’s Word, it’s not in some mystical experience that could be God (but surely isn’t), and it’s not in the music that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. These are counterfeits. They are designed to make us feel close to God without really being close to God. 

It’s called deception.

I am amazed at how few Christians study the Word. They say they are a Christian and, yet, there is no love in their heart for the Bible.

Of course, we can see why this is.

The church has, ever so steadily, been moving its focus from the Bible to other things. Things like entertainment, programs, social justice, and political agendas.

And so its people are left without the nourishment of the Word, without the protection of the Word, and without the reward of the Word. And they do not even realize it.

It wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I really started digging into the Bible. It was then that I started actually understanding what I believe.

I am so ashamed to even write this. How could I be a strong believer and wait that long to study the Word?

While I was full of conviction and dedication and commitment to God, my half-illiteracy of the Word was a very real encumbrance.

So this is why I write. Many of you have read all of this before. I’ve included it in earlier posts. But I just keep thinking about this right now.

God’s Word has been relegated to the background by most Christians as they try to live their lives the best they can. They search out books, counselors, and even medication to help them cope when life throws a curve ball. While these things aren’t necessarily wrong, why is God and His Word always our last place to go? Why do some of us never open up the Word to search for answers there?

I remember hearing someone say about twenty years ago that the next doctrine that would be severely attacked is the sufficiency of God’s Word. Boy, was he right. This is being attacked in so many ways, it is hard to keep track.

The mainstream church is teaching its followers that–

The Word is no longer sufficient to help us with our problems.

The Word is no longer sufficient to deepen our intimacy with God.

The Word is no longer sufficient to teach us the Truth.

The Word is no longer sufficient (or relevant enough) to reach the lost.

This lack of interest in and disbelief in the power of the Word has even trickled into biblical, conservative churches. Maybe even your own church…

Oh, how sad! How tragic!

For the Word is sufficient for all of these things and so much more!

And Satan knows it. And THIS is why we feel spiritually attacked when we make an effort to study the Bible. THIS is why Satan and his minions are attacking the Word so fiercely, inside Christendom and without.

Sometimes I feel like a broken record in writing this but, truly, if I can accomplish no other thing than to draw fellow believers to actually study what they say they believe, I will feel like I did something to further God’s Kingdom on this old, broken, sorry earth.

For too long now, we Christians have declared our faith in God and, yet, have relegated His Word to a shelf somewhere. Many don’t even get it out to go to church anymore because churches aren’t even using it.

So maybe it’s time for a change.

If you call yourself a Christian but make no time for God’s Word, then it is probably past time for a change.

If you, like me, have become aware of the inestimable value of God’s Word in your life, then why aren’t we saying anything to other Christians around us? Perhaps we need to change, too. Those of us who get it must speak up! We must encourage believers to get in the Word.

We need to change, too–we need to be bold and courageous enough to point people to the Word in a church scene that just doesn’t really care.

All we need for salvation and eternal life is in the Bible.

All we need for life and godliness is in the Bible.

All we need to be close to God is in the Bible.

All we need to know to reach the lost is in the Bible.

It’s all there.

So let’s study it, know it, and encourage others to do the same!

____________________________________________________

Recently, Pastor Dean (my brother) has been preaching on Psalm 19, which has naturally led to sermons on God’s Word. A short series of those sermons, titled “The Inestimable Value of God’s Word”, may encourage you as you reflect on what I wrote here today. I thought I’d go ahead and share them for anyone who may be interested–

The Inestimable Value of God’s Word, Part 1

The Inestimable Value of God’s Word, Part 2

The Inestimable Value of God’s Word, Part 3

By the way, you can find the whole series here (just scroll down until you see Psalm 19 in the lefthand column). It’s a great series and I highly recommend!

 

View from a Palm Tree

It was the day after Christmas in the year 2004. Out in the Indian Ocean, a great earthquake rumbled beneath the deep waters. It drove the water up, up, up until a giant wave was formed that started moving towards land.

Meanwhile, people moved about their day. Villagers may have been doing dishes or laundry. Tourists were probably eating breakfast or laying on lounge chairs by the water.

Suddenly, without warning, the colossal wave hit land. Some may have spotted it earlier and started running away from the wall of water. Others may have been hit completely unawares.

One thing is for sure: There was no escaping it if you were in its path.

The Tsunami of 2004 will be remembered as one of the worst natural disasters of all times.

Those in the path of it were absolutely defenseless. No amount of courage, fight, or willpower would have removed them from the path of the water. Oh, it might have helped them to survive the aftermath but they weren’t changing the course of that wave.

The water crashed against the shore and destroyed everything in its path–with the exception of a few people who were blessed to find a tree or some piece of wreckage to cling to.

If you’ve been reading the blog a little while, then you know that I firmly believe that we are in the last days. As scripture teaches so clearly, the last days are made up of the great Apostasy (Jude) and the creation of a one-world economy and religion (Revelation 13).  We will not be able to buy and sell without a mark on our hand or forehead (also Revelation 13). I could give other Bible passages that are coming to life right before our eyes along with a myriad of real-life examples that leave little doubt that this interpretation of scripture can hardly be denied. However, that is not the focus of this particular post.

What I want to focus on is the Tsunami of the Apostasy that has crashed over the church and swallowed most of her up. The few churches and individuals that haven’t caved and are clinging to the Bible as their final authority are like those who are clinging to a palm tree while the debris and chaos flows by. The wave encompasses all they loved about their church. All they believed about their pastor. All they trusted about celebrity Christianity. It has washed away most of their families and friends.

I’ve been really thinking about this the last few days. We are in a different position than we used to be as believers, at least here in the United States. The time for fighting against the Apostasy is over.

While we may win some skirmishes here and there, the battle for the US church is over and we have soundly lost. But so I expected. If we read what’s coming in Revelation 13, it makes SO much sense. Other passages, like Jude and 2 Timothy 3, also fill us in. God told us this would happen. We have no need to hang our heads in defeat. We still win in the end.

But, here and now, we probably need to recognize that we are done fighting against the “system”. The system is here, and just like a tsunami, it has forever changed the landscape of Christendom as we knew it.

So, if we aren’t supposed to fight, what are we supposed to do?

The end of Jude answers this question–

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.

We can summarize this in two words– persevere and rescue

First, we need to persevere in our own faith in submission and obedience to God’s Word and keep our eyes focused on Jesus–the author and finisher of our faith. If we focus on what’s going on around us we will all too soon become discouraged and hopeless. The view from the Palm Tree is so ugly. And so we must look to the Word and to our Savior, if we are to be filled with joy and peace during this time. We will be be victorious over all of this wickedness! We are already victorious over sin through Jesus Christ, our Savior! There is still so much to praise God for!

Second, we need to rescue those God puts in our path who want to be rescued. Many will scoff at us or simply be irritated with us for exposing the darkness. But, every now and again, there will be someone who comes along that needs someone to talk to. God has opened their eyes to the mysticism or the ecumenism or they just feel like something is off in a book they are reading or the church they are attending. God will give us these opportunities and we need to take them.

I believe that the time for fighting is over. The wave has crashed and the Apostasy is HERE. Now, we hang on to God’s Word for dear life and offer help to those who actually want it. But we aren’t going to stop the devastation of the wave. The water is flowing into every crack and crevice and pulling up with it the last vestiges of traditional, biblical Christianity. The Christian religion is rolling itself right into the coming one world religion.

The remnant of true believers just keeps shrinking. We knew the path was narrow–but I am not sure we realized it was this narrow… (Please note: I am not doubting the salvation of some who may be deceived for a time. I am no judge. I am just providing an overall picture of what’s happening and am certainly not judging individuals.)

This is not some conspiracy theory. And it’s not some “holier than thou” essay.

If you don’t agree with me, I still love you as a sibling in Christ. I just ask that you do a little research with eyes that are willing to see. I don’t say these things to discourage or to anger anyone. I simply am writing about what I see going on. I feel like I’ve been in a state of shock for two years, as I have watched almost every beloved and trusted Bible teacher, author, and speaker be washed away by this wave. I feel almost numb as I watch “Christian” universities promote mysticism and the social Gospel. I feel alarmed as I see outright heretics on the same platform with those who were seemingly solid. Something is not right. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize that something is not right.

If you do agree with me, then I hope that you will realize that you are not alone. I am over here clinging to a palm tree, too. God has so graciously spared us (to Him alone be the glory for this! You and I didn’t do anything deserving of this!) and we can encourage each other–at least for now–through online communication. If we are so blessed to have family or friends who see this, too, (or better yet, have a church that hasn’t flowed into the chaos) then we aren’t hanging from the palm tree alone. This is something to thank God for! I am not on my palm tree alone and I couldn’t be more grateful. Somehow it makes it so much more bearable. But…if you feel alone, please know that you are not alone. There are others out here who are watching the destruction roll by and are weeping with you.

God has not abandoned us. In fact, all that is going on confirms that the Bible is true and that the predictions of Revelation are being fulfilled. Let us keep clinging to our trees by building up ourselves in God’s holy word. Let us keep shouting out encouraging words and holding out our hands to those who want to be rescued. Let us point all we come in contact with to the Bible–our only anchor and source of hope.

It’s not going to get easier. But, one of these days, we are going to get to escape, before things get too bad. According to God’s Word, we will not be here to experience the onslaught of God’s wrath and judgment on this evil world. So let’s keep looking up! One day we will meet each other in the air! I believe it won’t be too long now!

 

 

Real Christianity

I was talking with someone recently and they were mentioning to me how most Christians seem to believe that the most important character trait any believer should have is that they are a “nice person”. While being nice is a good thing, being a Christian is so much more than just this. But, I, too, have found that “niceness” seems to trump telling the truth, forsaking the world, and even sharing the Gospel.

There is a real clash of philosophies going on currently. What makes it especially tragic is that this clash is taking place between two groups of people who would call themselves Christians.

One is right and one is wrong. We need to look in the Bible and study it to find out which is which.

It is only through the study of the Word that we can finally understand that Cultural Christianity is not Real Christianity. When someone calls himself a Christian, we must comprehend that there are two very different definitions for this word.

This became so clear to me as I prepared to speak on this topic last weekend for the women of a small Baptist Church. I thought I’d like to share some of what I learned here today.

What is Real Christianity? And how is it different than Cultural Christianity? Let’s take a look–

First, Christianity is based on the Bible alone. God’s Word is the authority for our faith, and this authority is derived from the fact that God has complete authority and He tells us that the Bible is His Word. (see I Thess 2:13; Romans 13:1; Matthew 28:18)

As opposed to Cultural Christianity: Here we find a faith that is based on experiences, feelings, and emotions. We hear things like “God told me” or “God wants me to be happy”. The Bible quickly shrank in importance and influence as the focus of this false religion turned towards these things.

Second, Christianity is a rational, logical faith. It makes sense. It is based on a rational understanding of scripture. While there are some things that are mysteries to us, these things are not irrational. We are called to use our minds (and not shut them off) when we are saved. (see I Corinthians 2:16; Ephesians 4:22-23; 2 Timothy 1:7)

As opposed to Cultural Christianity: Where we find a religion that is based on mysticism. Doctrine, Theology, and Bible Study are discouraged, as the focus turns towards the subjective and the sensual. It doesn’t have to make sense. Holy living and separation from the world is scoffed at and deemed unnecessary while special messages, visions, and impressions become the litmus test of true faith. A rational understanding of sin and repentance and salvation is irrelevant in a religion that makes experience the only thing that matters.

Third, Man is a sinner. There is nothing we can do to make ourselves right with God or to earn eternal life. (See Romans 3:10-12; Isaiah 64:6)

As opposed to Cultural Christianity: Which teaches that man is basically good. The only thing he really needs Jesus for is to fix his problems. How often have you heard a CCM song or blogger talk about how beautiful and worthy you are? That is one of the easiest red flags to spot in cultural Christianity.

Fourth, Salvation comes through Jesus Christ alone. There is no other way to God (John 14:6), it is not of works (Romans 3:27-28), and it must be understood and acknowledged by the person (John 3:16).

As opposed to Cultural Christianity: Where we will find a variety of heresies regarding this. First, we will see many religions accepted as “Christian” that require works. Religions such as Catholicism, Mormonism, and Jehovah’s Witnesses are clearly false, since they require works in addition to Jesus’s finished work on the cross. We will also find the heresy of Universalism, which says that all men are saved, whether or not they know Jesus personally. The author of The Shack has publicly acknowledged that this is what he believes and yet his books are still labeled “Christian”. That’s because it is a cultural Christian book but certainly not a biblical one.

Fifth, Christianity is God-Centered. Our choices, decisions, and life direction should all be based on what will most please God. We desire to submit to His will in all things. We are willing to sacrifice our own desires in order to live a godly life. (See Romans 12:1 and Galatians 2:20)

As opposed to Cultural Christianity: Here we find a self-centered religion filled with mantras like “Follow your dreams” and “Find your purpose”. It is in this kind of Christianity, people rationalize their sin because they are their first priority. God is to bend to their wishes and desires and they call on him to do their bidding like one would call on a fairy godmother or magic genie.

Sixth, Christ calls us to live a holy and pure life. (I Peter 1:13-16). We strive to live a godly life filled with the fruit of the Spirit (Romans 12:9-12; Galatians 5:22-26), decrease sin in our lives (Romans 6:12-14), and to separate from the world (James 4:4 and I John 2:15).

As opposed to Cultural Christianity: Where we find that relevance is all that matters. Separation from the world and holy living are viewed as negative and legalistic, while the “be like the world to win the world” is the only form of evangelism. (Which is obviously not working, by the way. Because this method is not found in scripture. Anywhere.)

Seventh, Christianity is about the cross. Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross for our sin and his resurrection and victory over death is the message of Christianity. It is what happened at the cross that makes us right with God and gives us the promise of eternal life. (see Romans 5:10, I Corinthians 5:18-19)

As opposed to Cultural Christianity: Where we find a false religion that is centered on finding personal purpose, understanding my worth, or making the world a better place.

 

And so you can so obviously see that, when we actually sit down and open our Bibles and do a comparison, these two religions–although going by the same name–are nothing alike. In fact, they are polar opposites.

One centers on God. The other centers on man.

One has a high view of God and a low view of man. The other has a low view of God and a high view of man.

They are two separate religions. Two separate and utterly different religions.

So don’t be fooled.

I encourage you to keep these differences in mind as you talk with fellow believers, evaluate materials for your home or church, bring in special speakers, choose what books to read, what pastor to listen to, or what radio station to turn on.

Be diligent, be steadfast, be cautious.

 

Test all things; hold fast what is good.

I Thessalonians 5:21

 

Sometimes Chairs Break

The other night I was sitting with a friend on a porch swing that has been in our backyard for many years. In my arms I held my youngest grandson in my lap and I was leaning him down in front of me and then pulling him back up to make him laugh. We were having a grand old time when, quite suddenly and without any warning at all, the swing pulled away from its anchor and we landed on the ground.

Other than a jolt to my back, we were all okay. I was so very thankful that, in God’s Providence, the swing had crashed when my grandson was up and not down. It could have ended much worse.

I rubbed my back a bit and my friend and I went on with our evening, but there was lesson in what happened and it did not elude me for very long.

Swings break. Chairs break. Things we have trusted to hold us sometimes don’t hold us. They may break quite suddenly, like what happened to me on Saturday night. Or they may slowly start to erode away in the elements until one day you realize the chair is no long trustworthy.

This same thing can happen with people. Leaders. Singers. Authors. Preachers. Pastors. Churches.

Just because they have been trustworthy for a million years does not mean that they are incapable of slipping or changing direction. We need to understand that just because someone has had a wonderful ministry for many years does not automatically keep them immune from making a bad decision or falling away completely.

I have especially noticed undying, passionate loyalty among certain camps within evangelicalism. There is a seriously unhealthy idolization of these men and women that breeds a serious lack of discernment.

Currently, the joining of the true teachers with the false teachers is taking place in all circles and camps. I can’t think of one that has not been compromised in this way.

While I have been watching this kind of thing happening in overdrive over the past few years from most corners of modern day evangelicalism, it’s now also happening with teachers I’ve trusted for many years to stand firm to the end.

What is going on? And why are they doing this? There is just no possible way to answer these questions.

However..

Just like we need to realize that sometimes we need to stop trusting the chair that holds us, so, too, we need to understand that men we have trusted for years are capable of leading us down a wrong road. When someone makes a really bad choice to partner with a false teacher or to say something that isn’t biblical or to promote a new age author, this should raise red flags– no matter who they are. It should lead us to be just a bit more cautious and a lot more watchful. Is this a one-time bad decision or is this a direction they are going? Only time will tell. But if we close our eyes to it, we are making ourselves so very vulnerable.

The fall I took when that swing dropped was a hard one and it could have been so much worse. It could have been avoided had we realized the swing was in need of repair. Sometimes we can’t see things coming and we are caught off-guard. But sometimes we can. If God opens our eyes to an inconsistency or false teaching or a bad choice by someone we have trusted, then we must be willing to face that fact bravely and without rationalizing it away.

Does this mean you never use the chair again? Not necessarily. Some chairs must be cast aside because they are beyond repair. But sometimes chairs can be fixed. Occasionally, someone will recognize their error and return to truth. This doesn’t happen often but it does happen. One bad choice or one partnership with darkness does not make a heretic. We don’t want to be head hunters.

The main point of this post is to challenge you to only be perfectly loyal to God and His Word. No man or woman deserves our loyalty to the point where we rationalize unwise and even sinful choices. No human deserves this kind of loyalty. (If they are truly following Jesus Christ, they don’t even want this kind of loyalty). I’ve said this often but I see this as a really big problem as we navigate this confusing time of compromise and wrong choices made by people we have trusted for so many years.

I am growing less and less enamored with anyone that has a platform. I see a huge level of joining together with false teachers across the board. Ecumenism is worming its way into all areas of evangelicalism. I can’t think of one that has not been affected.

So if you don’t take anything else away from this post, I beg you to remember this–

Sometimes chairs break. We trust them but sometimes they break.

This is a very important thing to keep in mind as we navigate the strange synthesis of those who have a history of adhering to biblical doctrine joining with those that clearly don’t.

Just in case you think I am a little over-the-top, I remind you of these important verses–

I Timothy 6:3-5 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the [a]doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, [b]useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. [c]From such withdraw yourself.

Please Note: We are to withdraw from false teachers–not invite them to conferences.

 

Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather [c]expose them.

Please Note: We are to expose false doctrines–not pretend like they don’t exist.

 

2 Timothy 3:5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

Please Note: We are to turn away from those that pretend to be godly but don’t do things according to God’s Word–not join with them at conferences.

 

Romans 16:17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. 

Please Note: We are to avoid them–not quote them in our books.

 

Look, let me say one more time–I am not judging motives or hearts. But I think if we are going to be honest, we have to say there is something wrong here. Men and women who have taught that it is not right to join with false teachers are turning around and doing what they have preached against. It doesn’t Make. Any. Sense.

Get frustrated with me. Or call me negative. Or cancel your subscription to Growing4Life. None of those things changes the facts. Chairs are breaking and eroding all over the place and the only people that get ridiculed and bullied are the ones who actually acknowledge that it is happening and venture to ask a couple of questions.

There is no way to know who is making an innocent mistake and who knows exactly what they are doing and we can’t even begin to guess. But we should acknowledge that, for whatever reason, it is happening.

So stay in the Word and give your loyalty to God alone. Don’t rationalize away a bad choice. Acknowledge it and stay watchful. God is faithful and will keep us on the narrow path, if we but trust in Him alone to lead us.

 

What is Your M.O.?

Frustration filled the voice of the caller. She had just had a meeting with someone and they were inflexible, unkind, and unhelpful. The real rub was that the person she had just talked to was supposedly a Christian–the kind that actually holds to what the Bible teaches.

This can often be the M.O. ( *modus operandi) of Bible-believing Christians. I am not sure how or why this is but, too often, the terms “unloving” and “harsh” apply all too well to those who call themselves believers.

On the other hand, love and kindness are often what we encounter when we meet up with Christians that care very little about doctrine. Despite their disinterest in most of the Bible, for some reason they have grabbed hold of the passages about love in the scriptures and they take them seriously.

Why is this? Why is it so hard to be passionate about truth and love?

There are probably a few reasons that make sense. A commitment to truth can yield arrogance in a prideful heart. Because of that commitment to truth, they consider themselves better than those who are not committed to truth. Another reason may be that they believe to be separated from the world means not talking to, not conversing with, having nothing to do with the world and so they respond coldly to anyone seeming to be from the world. And, of course, for most it may simply be cultural. They know no different and they have never even thought of being different. They are like their parents and their grandparents and their aunts and uncles. This is the way of the church they grew up in. The legalistic, judgemental church where you must wear the right thing, say the right thing, and do the right thing in order to be a “good Christian”.

In an age where the majority of those who call themselves Christians are ignoring all biblical commands in favor of living a worldly life, there are still a handful of us clinging to biblical truth.

But how is God going to use us if, as we cling to truth, we forget about love?

Loving others should be part of who we are. In fact, in I John 4, we read this–

 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, [d]how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

Loving others is not simply a command. It is a test for whether or not we are a true believer!

Love is not an option but it is, rather, a natural outpouring of God’s work in our lives. If it is missing, we have serious cause for concern.

Now, of course, let me say here, there is a worldly definition for love that does not apply when we are having this discussion, right? The kind that agrees with sin, that applauds the sinner in their sin, that affirms and approves, no matter what the choice. That isn’t love. That is foolishness.

But when it comes to real love and kindness–what would people say about you?

Personally, I have come to realize that when I get in a discussion regarding something I feel passionate about, I can become rather intense as I discuss. I don’t mean to be harsh or unkind but I have finally recognized that this is how some people perceive me. I have gone back to apologize more than once and try to stay very conscious of this tendency, but I am still learning how to balance my passion for truth with heartfelt love.

It is important to consider what is our M.O. as we walk through our lives. When our family and friends think of us, do the words love and kindness come to mind?

I have written many posts about loving the truth because it is so important and because it is so terribly lacking in today’s church. But we also need to recognize the importance of love.

Let’s consider three reasons that we should–and even must–love others–

First, it is commanded and proves that we are a true believer. This could not be clearer, as demonstrated by the verses above.

Second, no one wants to listen to us talk about anything–much less God and truth–without love. If someone speaks to you in a harsh, unkind, or sarcastic way, do you even care what they are saying? They have already discredited themselves and their words considerably.

And, third, life is so much sweeter when we love. Have you thought about that? If we are all caught up in manmade rules and policing others, we lose so much joy. When we can understand that God takes each person on their own journey of spiritual growth and that we are not responsible for them, it yields so much more peace and joy in our lives. Whether it is our child, our spouse, or a friend, we must release them to God and just keep loving them and challenging them with biblical truth as we are given the opportunity. But there is no need to pound truth over their heads or to spend our lives frustrated and irritable. And there is certainly no cause for thinking that we are somehow better than they are. There, but for the grace of God, go I!

 

Oh, how important and necessary is this balance of truth and love. One without the other is like the day without the night. Both must be present in order to function best as a believer. The fact that both are present is not only an assurance of our salvation but is a demonstration to the world that we belong to Christ.

So go out and show some kindness! Love the people God has placed in your life today!

 

* modus operandia particular way or method of doing something, especially one that is characteristic or well-established.

 

Saving the Starfish

This morning’s post is really specifically for my fellow discerners. For those that have a passion for discernment, who see what’s going on, and feel frustrated that so few seem to care.

What brought it to mind recently was a story someone shared with me. They had been falsely accused by a local newspaper. They decided to meet with the editor, complete with stacks of files in hand of proof that refuted what had been said. As the conversation progressed, this statement was made: Well, our reporters don’t get paid enough to do research.

Come again??

They don’t get paid enough to do research? But isn’t research over half the actual job of a reporter??

This is a ridiculous statement and yet it was made. At least according to my story-teller. Whom I don’t know very well.

But this story made me think of something I’ve run into again and again. I’m sure many of you have, as well.

I’ve noticed an interesting trend among many believers: They will often make assumptions without doing any analysis.

They, too, don’t have time to study the scriptures and compare it to what a certain book or author has to say and yet they will tell someone who has done that research that they are wrong.

I’ve run into this more times than I can tell. When you share that a certain author or teaching isn’t biblical, they will disagree with you and then say something similar to the reporter, perhaps like–

“Well, that’s all fine, but I don’t have time to do research like you.”

or

“I don’t have the gift of discernment.”

Somehow the implication is that we do not need to discern if we are lacking the time or the “gift of discernment”.

Of course we know that scripture would clearly show that this is not the case. No one, no matter where they are at in their Christian journey, has the right to be lazy when it comes to anything we allow to impact us spiritually. We have no right to make assumptions and develop opinions about authors, biblical passages, pastors, and blogs without proper analysis. And, yet, so often we encounter those that declare that there isn’t anything wrong before actually doing the proper research to see if the sharer is wrong or right, according to scripture.

Just as a reminder for us all, I Thessalonians 5:21 reminds us to:

Test all things; hold fast what is good.

We are to test all things. All. Things. Nothing should get into our heads or the heads of our children before it is put to the biblical test.

You can also check out Ephesians 5:8-11 and Romans 12:9. Honestly, Paul makes the case in many places for the need to be on our guards. To not accept things at face value. And to stand firm on the Word.

Let me add here that should someone take the time to study the scriptures and prove me wrong, I would gladly–yes gladly!–change my mind. I know many of you feel the same way. You, along with me, are committed to scriptures and not to your own opinions.

We get no joy out of pointing out false teachers or spending time focused on compromised celebrity Christians. No joy at all. In fact, it deeply saddens us. Those of us who truly have a heart for discernment and see the big picture of what’s going on are not relishing this at all. We are heartbroken at the direction it’s all going and totally baffled that so few people see it.

The question so many of us wonder is why do we so often encounter Christians who are utterly unwilling to look at any proof we may offer regarding a popular book or author or preacher that shows clearly that they are not teaching truth?

And what do we do with this?

What can we do?

We can’t change their minds. Just as we can’t make a reporter do research before printing something as truth in a local newspaper, so we can’t make a Christian study the scriptures and fill them with conviction about their favorite author.

It’s probably one of the hardest things we encounter, quite frankly, this stubborn refusal to see the danger with nary a glimpse at the biblical proof.

I’ve learned there isn’t really anything we can do. We can speak up once or twice. And we can pray.

Until a person is willing to open their eyes to the truth of the state of Christianity in this current culture, there is nothing else we really can do. And to try to do more will often destroy relationships.

But every now and again, God will put someone in our paths who wants to know. Someone who is willing to lift their head out of the sand and face the truth of what’s going on in popular Christian culture. These are the ones we have the joy of serving.

And it is a joy, isn’t it?

If someone would have told me even ten years ago that I would be here–ridiculed and hated for presenting clear proof of the departure of favorite teachers and authors from the scriptures I am not sure I would have believed them. It has changed so fast it makes my head spin. So few people unwilling to see the truth. So few people who care about discernment at all. And then there are those self-proclaimed discerners who care more about attacking and maligning people than they care about God’s Word–destroying and ruining the reputation of anyone who would even lean that way.

It’s a frustrating place to be. And many have backed away because it is just too painful. I get it. I have, too, to a certain extent. And yet, Satan would like nothing more than for us all to back away and let it all happen right under our noses.

Someone once said–

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

Let us not be good men and women who do nothing. Let us gather strength from each other and encourage one another on in this road that God has put us on.  And may we remain passionate about staying true to God’s Word. May we never be about our own glory or about ripping people apart. May being unkind never be a part of our ministries. May love be the heart of our ministries.

Stay strong, my friends. The train has left the station, so to speak, and Christianity will never be the same again.

I’ll close with a familiar story–

A boy and his Grandpa were once walking on the beach where thousands of starfish lay marooned. The tide had gone out and left them helpless. They would dry up and die without intervention. The Grandpa started throwing the starfish back in the ocean one by one.

The boy, scanning the ocean shore, said, “you aren’t really even making a difference.”

Grandpa replied: I am making a difference for that one.

One by one, we, too, can make a difference.

 

 

 

 

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