Don’t Create A Monster

monsters-inc-25306We are in danger of creating a monster!  How is that you ask? By abandoning the truth of scripture and  “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Mk. 7:7).  It seems Pastors are teaching what ever suits them using religious language to help people be successful, happy and reach their dreams and potential.  In American Christianity today there is no doubt that an ugly caricature is growing at an alarming rate.  We are seeing  “worship centers” (I will not call them churches) who want to build the size of their numbers by man-centered sociological, psychological rules rather than by the written Word of God. Then there are the media versions of Christianity that are like infomercials for blessings such as, weight loss, marriage,  healing and deliverance.

Since we never would desire to create a monster, we must have every good intention to create something good. That may be the intention of ministers and their staff members today. But no matter. Monsters are a creation of the imagination run amuck. Like the fictional Dr. Victor Frankenstein, Ecclesiastical Scientists (I will not call them Preachers)  focus on playing God by creating life from dead flesh.  They are attempting to either imitate or replace the work of the Spirit by man-centered principles that are “born of the flesh or products of the sinful nature of men.  They want to create people in a religious mould. The One True God asks,  “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal 3:3).  The church growth movement is an religious experiment like no other in today’s form of humanistic Christianity. Rather than relying on the tried and tested testimonies of the scripture they test and try marketing techniques on people in churches. They are salesman selling soul dope and religious paraphernalia. It has ended up creating a religious monster, destructive, worldly and odious.

Only the power of the Holy Spirit can regenerate, only Christ can save and we are but men who should put our entire being into knowing Christ! Oh that America would repent of this great evil-that we have forsaken the Lord and turning churches into fleshly creations of idolatorus imaginations! Oh preachers are much too civilized, born and bred themselves in a religious matrix, and they are unwilling to face the truth and offer people the blue pill that keeps them slaves fed with religious misinformation that blinds them to the shining face of the Son of God (2 Cor 4:4).  They are the most diabolical agents of Satan, shimmering angels of light ( 2 Cor. 11:13-14). I think preachers need not only to offer the red pill but say like  Morpheus, “Remember, all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.” 

But is the truth enough for the man behind the pulpit today? The Gospel is a hard pill to swallow, scripture is dangerous to his projects and activities. American church goers  love the fleshpots of Egypt and are losing their freedom (Gal 5:1). They are forfeiting it for a false sense of security and a knock off God made in their own image. They are moral, weight watching, non smokers, non drinkers, heterosexual pro-life Republicans and so people see them as Christian. This is not enough to help those who are dead and lifeless in sin. You may find as you stand before God you worshipped in vain and all you learned was wrong.

Oh minister friend let your plans come to a screeching halt in the presence of a holy God. Let all your fleshly ideas unravel and your comeliness, vigor and strength become pale in the presence of the radiant light of God’s presence (Dan. 10:8)! Stop this foolishness and let the Lord Jesus of the Bible reign in your minds and hearts! The French theologian John Calvin stated, “Man’s mind is like a store of idolatry and superstition; so much so that if a man believes his own mind it is certain that he will forsake God and forge some idol in his own brain.”  The greatest idolatry is found right in the human heart-that is why all our notions, dreams, visions and goals must without another thought surrender to the Bible and it teaching about God and serving him.

People are lawbreakers in God’s sight and are hell bound souls-preaching the cross of Christ and the gospel serves as a warning to them. Left to themselves they will go to hell with ease. Like C.S. Lewis said, “The safest road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”  The man of God will warn them with no self interest. The man who shivers and breathes heavy even to correct his congregation is a gutless, spineless jellyfish. The greatest tragedy among pastors is when they step up to the pulpit with a message geared to “meet the needs of the people” rather than a message that is worship to the God who actually only can meet the needs of the people. Many pastors today are big schmoozers skilled at politics rather than “men sent from God” from the burning deserts where they have learned to hear the voice of God in the scriptures alone.

They reject the classical Christian Creeds and Confessions saying that they are inventions of man and tout, “I don’t have religion but a relationship with God!” or “We only need the Bible!”  But reject the systematic teaching set forth in scripture by the Reformers and hammered out by men of God in history. They constantly bend, I mean change the rules by introducing something they learned at the new Meccas of Saddleback or Willow Creek.  On the other hand, some will try even more extremes that range from a Toronto Blessing or Lakeland Revival.

Have they forfeited their relationship with Christ to be a servant of men? Paul’s idea of spiritual growth was “that I may know him” and his idea of ministry was to “make known Christ” was yet how often have we preached on the attributes of God that conveniently leaves out his Sovereignty, wrath, holiness, justice?! The grace, mercy and love preachers speak of today is not the same as scriptures testimony of the Lord but they have reinvented a more palatable version of Christ, the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit in the name of being in sync culturally.

Theology needs to have a prayer meeting and knee-ology needs to go to school. Forgetting the call has weakened the gospel ministry into religious science and clinically tested churchianity. It is turning people out in the church who are confused in their relationship with God.  That is the heart of the problem with religion and that is why the Reformation began in Europe because people ended up religious slaves! God heard their groanings and cries and sent men like Moses the man of God in the humble Reformers.

Many pastors purvey a  flimsy, spiritual sentimentality that calls for spiritual disarmament and focus on the pop-culture spin doctor theology. They are creating a monster.  The diseased infectious church growth movement is the bogus invention of spiritual mad scientists who for lack of courage to preach the Bible as it is and have embraced motivation psychology above the Word attempting to get the evil world system and the church in a strong relationship on some spiritual E-harmony commercial saying, “We love you” and can match you on 29 points of compatability!  It is a false advertisement when in fact they cannot love someone they are lying to.

Martin Luther in his commentary of Galatians said: “To this day you will find many who seek to please men in order that they may live in peace and security. They teach whatever is agreeable to men, no matter whether it is contrary to God’s Word or their own conscience. But we who endeavor to please God and not men, stir up hell itself. We must suffer reproach, slanders, death…The world is crucified unto me,” means that I condemn the world. “I am crucified unto the world,” means that the world in turn condemns me. I detest the doctrine, the self-righteousness, and the works of the world. The world in turn detests my doctrine and condemns me as a revolutionary heretic. Thus the world is crucified unto us and we unto the world.”

It is time for the men who stand in the pulpit to know that God’s judgment will fall like rain upon them removing them from their positions unless they repent! The Lord is passionate for his justice and his glory in his church,“For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.” (Isaiah 62:1) and he gladlywill  replace the ecclesiastical scientists with men who preach the truth, “I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence, “And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” (Isa. 62:6-7).

How many leaders will end up like Victor Frankenstein that as soon as his monster came to life he said, “the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.”

 Tell them the truth-don’t create a monster!

The Trouble With Our Theology

pointing-finger

“After that four hundred years of stillness there came this amazing man, John the Baptist. He shocked their culture. He upset their theology.

Nobody’s going to church. Why? Their all going out to hear a man in the wilderness.

What’s he doing-raising the dead?

No, he isnt.

He’s raising hell.

Did he raise the dead? No he did not raise a dead man but he raised a dead nation. Dear Lord, we could do with a John the Baptist in every city of the nation tonight…

Oh, they loved to hear him because he believed in..but not only believed it but actually raised the dead.  The trouble with our theology, its all on the blackboard. Our theology is all in textbooks. It has no life, it has no breath, it has no power, it has no authority…

How in the world could Jesus stand in the middle of the crowd of angry vexed people? He’d antagonize them. He’d reveal their spiritual bankruptcy. They were just getting over the shock of John Baptist standing there in the wilderness. They couldn’t fathom it.

Why are people going?

Read the third chapter of Luke…even the Roman soldiers went…they were fascinated when they heard him.

Nothing like this in Rome, Caesar has nothing like this.

Here is a little strange man with a leather girdle wrapped around his loins and an old camel skin wrapped around his neck and people are swarming from everywhere…

He uses that nobody likes, “Repent…repent!” Not only confess your sin, forsake your sin, repent,  run away from it!

Then Jesus comes up afterwards…Don’t you think the next day after he turned water into wine that everywhere they were saying. “Didn’t you hear what he did? They ran out of wine last night and he turned water into wine.”

“This is the man that tosses people out of the synagogues…this is the man that kicks over the extortioners.

This is the man that says to learned men, “You are the enemies of God.”

Merciless.

We are preaching an acceptable gospel today, making it as painless as we can. All we do is give people a shot to put them to sleep so they’ll get to hell quicker. We need some hell fire preaching on repentance.

The was a portion of a video message preached by Leonard Ravenhill called, “Are We Longing For Repentance?”

Afraid of the World?

ss-090427-swine-mw06_ss_fullRecent comments from our Vice President about the swine flu or A1-N1 caught my attention as I am sure it did yours.  The Whitehouse had to rephrase his comments (of which I am sure they will do again)  about avoiding subways planes, or any close areas and head for an open field and calm the fears of people when it came to this flu which has hit the world in  pandemic proportions. Now it seems that the swine flu is old news and we hardly hear about it.  But I saw the analogy in many Christians relationship with the world, meaning the people of this world.

You always have to be careful to the way you define the world. The world can be the actual planet on which we live which the Bible teaches belongs to the Lord (Ps. 24:1; Isaiah 66:1-2).  The word “world” also can be translated age or a time period. The  Bible calls this present evil age  in which the the small “g” god of this age Satan, rules over the minds of unbelievers  (Gal 1:4; 2 Cor 4:4).  In fact, the world can also refer to the order and arrangement of the system of evil or the “age of this world” that seeks to seduce people away from God and attempt to hinder the cause of Christ (Eph 2:2-3).

It is obvious that it is the world system that is controlled by Satan and his lies that with which we should be concerned. Although, people who do not know Christ as Lord and Savior are living lives controlled by sin, we are to love them and lead them to the Savior, not to be afraid of them or catching something from them.

Because such were some of you… 

In these areas I see people who say they are Christians going to several extremes.  Either they feel they can have one foot in the world and one foot in the church, meaning that they want to be able to say they are Christians and believe at least some of the tenet’s of the Christian faith. But they have made a grave error which is submitting to the “world system” that is controlled by Satan and his lies (Eph 2:2-3).  You cannot ally yourself with this world system or you end up being an enemy of God (James 4:4). But the Bible makes it clear that we need to stop acting like people who do not know Jesus Christ as their Savior (Jer 10:2; 1 John 2:14-16).

Then there are those who act so afraid of the world  they seem monastic and pietistic in their approach to it.  They even develop an attitude which says, “I am holier than you” (Isa. 65:5). I think at times we treat unconverted people  as though they were going to infect us with a virus of  sin.   This kind of Christianity is anemic and weak and they need to reexamine their lives in light of scripture.  We forget that we are still tainted with sin ourselves and were it not for Christ we would be in slavery to its power.

Jesus said that he overcame the world. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).  He did not say that we would be free from trouble and suffering. Bright sunshine and hard rain still falls on the righteous and the unrighteous. The scripture insists and that we must go through “much tribulation” before we reach our heavenly home (Acts 14:22).

It is only “in Christ” and in his his words that we can have peace. There is a rest that comes to us knowing that the welfare of our souls are in the hands of the one who said,  “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:28-29). 

This phrase “in me” is a loaded phrase. We are “in Christ”  the last Adam, the new life we have because of him as opposed to “in Adam” or the old man, the previous way of the sinful life.  The word “in” means a location or position. We are in Christ spiritually. What could this mean? We are positionally in Christ, God has saved us in Christ before the world began. That means that we were in him, together in him, joined to him before the very foundation of the world. That gives me peace in the midst of the storm.  What seems bad or what seems good to us does not matter when we know God in his sovereignty and providence is causing all things to work together for good (Romans 8:28).

What does the Lord require? Faith and trust in him. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5). Through the eyes of faith we see Christ as Victor seated at God right hand far above everything in this age and the age to come! We are in the victors seat with him and we do not have to be afraid of the world.

Your Wandering is Over

Wandering

“Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions? If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.” (Song 1:7-8).

I realize you have been wandering, dear one. The many buildings or places that are called churches are places where you can lose your way. I know you are looking for Jesus, so I hope you will pay attention for a few brief moments. Previously in this chapter, the Shulamite woman is awakened, convinced and longs in her heart for her beloved to, “kiss her with the kisses of his mouth for thy love is better than wine.” She has never experienced this before and she desires his affectionate kiss. She insists in so many words if anything is going to happen in their relationship he must kiss her first. In her eyes, the first act of love must be his right from the beginning because not every girl can kiss the King.

Is this not true of Christ and his bride? God has loved us as he loves Christ and that love was before the foundation of the world (John 17:23-24). That is the love of God that chooses us to be his own. His foreknowledge is not his omniscience alone, it is not based on what he sees is going to happen and bases his choice on the choices people make. He did not see us choosing him, we could not and would not (Rom 3:10-12)! Sin made us slaves without strength to reach out to the only one who could save us (Rom. 5:6). But Jesus saw us, he took pity on us! He loved us first! He fore-loved his people in Christ. “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19).  It also is reminiscent of  the cry of Augustine who said, “My whole hope is in thy exceeding great mercy and that alone. Give what thou commandest and command what thou wilt.”  (Confessions, Book 10, Ch. 24:40).  How we must pray, “Lord, you must start the work in my heart or I will be lost, wandering forever in a far more confusing place than the world, but religion which has no power or truth!”

Like Israel who he found abandoned in the wilderness, he desires to take us from being infants in peril and nurture and clothe us with security and then develop us into “exceeding beautiful” womanhood so we are ready to mature ”into the time of love.”  (Ezekiel 16:1-13). There is a certain turning point in a persons life after regeneration where we begin to understand the Sovereignty of God in our lives as far as our sanctification is concerned. I am not speaking of another class of Christian but one who is growing in Christ.  The scripture teaches this is a point of maturity that develops in the life of a Christian where the milk of the Word is not enough, they must have meat, solid food (Heb 5:12-14). They also put away childish things because they are growing up. They become stable. Everything changes from babyhoodto adulthood (1 Cor 13:11). This woman is ready to know Christ as the lover of her soul and Christ hears her cry and will show her great and mighty things that she has not known! (Jer. 33:3).

She calls him, “O thou whom my soul loveth…” This is where wandering screeches to a halt. This kind of love is is so beyond any human love because it is birthed by the Spirit of God.  It is a love where any rival or competition to Christ begins to be put down by the increase of his government that is conquering the heart (Isaiah 9:6-7). Christ is loved by the Christian with their very heart, soul, mind and strength (Deut 6:4-5) but like the conquering of Cannan sanctification takes time. The child of God wants to love God more as they mature and this love must come from the deepest part of us. It is God who loves us first, and in turn we love him and that love makes us want to be near him and we learn to love him with the love he loves us with in some small measure.

She asks him, “where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon.”  She looks for the place where her soul can rest and she can eat “the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” (1 Cor. 10:3-4). God requires us to have faith in his provision and not wandering around attempting to find other secondary or tertiary sources rather than from Christ himself. Sadly, this is a common practice among people who profess to be Christians. “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” (Jer 2:13). Christ offers them the children’s bread and to eat from the food off of the Masters table. He calls us to come and dine! Christ is a good shepherd (John 10:11) who feeds his sheep and those who love him are only satisfied with him and the authentic spiritual food he offers! That is the whole mystery of John chapter 6. Christ offers himself as food for the soul, only he can satisfy.

Mature believers recognize how much they need the guidance and protection of God because they are more aware of the dangers around them, wandering is not an option. Satan is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8) and he feasts on wanderers. While Jesus is the tender shepherd that carries his little lambs in his arms (Isaiah 40:11) the person who desires the meat of the Word needs more. The Bible says, “And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.” (Micah 5:4).  God allows the soul to go through greater trials and snares-sometimes we are at our wits end. So the greater the test, the greater the care and power God places at our disposal. His great Sovereign power is shown by his provison for his people. He never grows faint or weary in doing this! 

When a believer matures they stop their wandering in the emptiness of performing mere external service to God they will begin to seek out a place where the LORD feeds his flock and gives “a rest for the people of God.” (Hebrews 4:9). This woman labored under the harsh rules of her mothers brethren and almost withered under the blistering hot sun and their constant anger farming their fields and neglecting her own vineyard. She left them behind for love of her King and now she does not want to be seen as one wandering aimlessly.

“For why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?” This is where the idea of protection from evil comes into play. Maturity results in the senses being able to discern between both good and evil. This scripture shows how much she hates the idea of being seen as a wandering woman. We should also hate the idea of being carried away by our own desires. Like her we should say “Why?” It makes no sense when I belong to the King and I am supposed to be under his care. Why should we substitute that relationship by looking even to his close companions when we can say “I am my beloved’s and he is mine!”  I have the One himself? Why?  WHY?

These companions of the Lord could fall into two classes: they could be true men of God who people look to rather than directly to Christ.  Like the Corinthians they divide into parties that say, “I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.” (1 Cor. 1:12). People have their preferences and their tastes and each on of these men preached the gospel but people separated and created division in the churches based on these men’s distinct ministries. They may have loved the down home values of Peter, the writing abilities of Paul had or the eloquent speaking ability of Apollos. These is a subtle idolatry. But people became distracted from Christ and were on their way back to the house of their mothers brethren because man centered religion is a cruel taskmaster.In these days we will hear many different religious authors, churches, movements, ministries, saying, ”Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not.”  (Mk 13:21). He is in that church, that revival, or this movement. No, he is always where he has been- in his Word.

“For thy love is better than wine.”I wanted to complete the verse we started with. She loves her beloved with all her soul because his love is makes earth’s sweetest substance inferior to his love. It is actually plural or loves. He constantly lavishes and demonstrates his love for his own. Paul speaks of the mercies of God  (Rom. 12:1) or his many mercies (Psalm 51:1).  His compassions never fail (Lam 3:22).  Jesus is all you need and he satisfies you souls need for rest and refreshment. How sweet is the love of Christ for his people. It is like wine. The bread of his body and the wine of his blood are real food for the soul (John 6:35-63). The spiritual presence of Christ that we celebrate in the Lord’s supper is where we can lift up our hearts to the Lord and seek those things which are above where Christ sits at the right hand of God (Col. 3:1). Do not waste your time, money and energy on religious products that attempt to sell you a better, deeper relationship with God but enslave you to condemnation and guilt. God offers you the free wine and milk that is offered to those who are thirsting for Christ (Isa. 55:1). All Christ offers us for free is also better than those who sell us religion. He has found you dear soul, desring to feed and care for you and your heart cannot rest until it rests in him

Your wandering is over. 

There Will Be No Peace

2971049198_1b0df8dd00Lately, the popular Playing for Peace concept has been gaining momentum, especially with the Ben E. King classic,  “Stand By Me” video on You Tube. It is an incredible effort by sound technicians and well done.  I have to give them credit. People from all over the world never having met each other and singing the same song. After watching and listening to the Stand by Me Video you will understand the hard work that goes into such a project.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Us-TVg40ExM

Mark Johnson the creator of Playing for Change (playingforchange.com)  has the idealistic concept and as he puts it, “desire to inspire each other and come together as the human race and music is the best way to do this is through music…and the belief that we can do a lot more for this world if we work together than we ever can apart.” 

The Playing For Change Foundation (PFCF)  is attempting to raise funds for  the new Ntonga Music School in Guguletu, South Africa that will help children in extreme poverty. PFCF is also looking to build the Mehlo Arts Center in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Mehlo Arts Center is a creative writing school or “Talking Songs”” for the youth of Johannesburg. PFCF also is attempting to rebuild and enhance Tibetan refugee centers in Dharamsala, India and Kathmandu, Nepal. All of these things are incredibly important, especially creating a safe place for the persecuted and abused.

Music is powerful. There is no doubt about that.  Albert Einstein said, “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music. … I get most joy in life out of music.”  But music in its best form has no power to transform the human heart. We see the horrors of inhuman acts done to people and I applaud PFCF for wanting to do something about it.

That is is one problem that stands in the way of  PFCF: Human nature. No this is not cynicism talking, it is the undeniable evidence seen in the issues they confront. 

The scriptures say of people, “Their feet run to evil and they are swift to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; desolation and destruction are in their highways. The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths they have made their roads crooked;  no one who treads on them knows peace. Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.” (Isaiah 59:7-9ESV).

I am sure  groups like PFCF see religion, politics and such creating war. Who can argue with that. But religion or politics is never the culprit. I think people use this argument to oversimplify the issue but create non entities at which they can throw stones. It is always the responsibility of the individual and a matter of the heart.  There are those of us recognize the enemy is not out there, it is within. A enemy so intelligently corrupt, deceitful, so frighteningly warlike unless it experiences a radical supernatural change, there will be no peace. That enemy is within, and music cannot pacify it. There is no peace for the wicked (Isa. 48:22; 57:21).

The concept of music changing the world sounds good (and is not a new concept) on the surface but can it change the nature of people? Can Mark Johnson and PCFC  promise that? From my experience with people and especially in churches the style of music can  create great controversy and even division. Music is so diverse it represents entire sub cultures and people just are everything from stubborn to unpredictable even when it comes to the idea of taste in music.

Let me also state that words still have meaning. You cannot change that. Lyrics from the Christian worldview should reflect the truth about biblical doctrine. Are they singing the truth or do they need to focus on benign agreeable lyrics that gloss over reality-the reality that human beings are NOT inherently good and moral but there is some radically wrong with each individual. The fountain of their hearts is controlled by the sinful nature. they are radically depraved. Because of this they always will fight and have no peace. Marc and others like him unknowingly may be guilty of the error of the false prophets who offer superficial treatments for people’s mortal wound by giving assurances of peace when there is no peace. (Jer 6:14; 8:11). Music by itself cannot bring peace, or he would not have to use it to raise funds for his causes.

On the other hand, Jesus Christ is called, “the Prince of Peace” and unless the Jesus of the scriptures rules the hearts of people they will never manage their anger, and repent of their hostility or hate. I think churches and their preachers should focus more on the idea of peace, domestically and abroad.  But especially peace in the heart. Peace is the result and effect of righteous living (Isa. 32:17; 48:18). This would mean constant strife in the home, church and soceity shows that our heart are not right and we need to repent of the sin of anger. The Bible is clear, “The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” (James 3:18). 

May Christ give you the music of peace in your heart and you see his kingdom and his peace.