Saturday, December 31, 2011

THE POWER OF CHRIST IN US IN 2012.

A BOLD, STRONG, POWERFUL, COURAGEOUS 2012.
THIS IS WHO WE ARE IN CHRIST.
A. Brother

Who are we, brothers and sisters?

          We are the bold!

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity,
but a Spirit of power, love, and self-discipline.”
2 Tim. 1:7

            We are the strong!

“It is God who arms me with strength
and makes my way perfect…
He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.”
2 Samuel 22:33-35

            We are the powerful!

“…who through faith…shut the mouths of lions,
quenched the fury of the flames…
escaped the edge of the sword;
weakness was turned to strength…
who became powerful in battle
and routed foreign armies.”
Heb. 11:33,34

           We are the courageous!

“Have I not commanded you?
Be strong and courageous.
Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged,
for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9

            Brothers and sisters who truly seek Christ, it is time.

          Time for the redeemed of the Lord to say so, and come out of hiding.  To gather together and seek Christ Jesus, and His face continually.  To forsake the world and hold only to the Lord our God.

“Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;
say to those with fearful hearts,
‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come’…”
Isaiah 35:3,4

            Who are we?

          We are the remnant.  We are the remainder who will not bow the knee to Baal.  We are those who love and seek the Lord alone, and do not love the world, or worship its false gods.  We take root by the Holy Spirit and bear the Spirit’s fruit in our lives.  We live the life of Jesus on earth.  We are His Body, His Temple, His Flock.  We are those who live by faith and not by sight.  Faith in the Son of God, who died and rose and lives eternally for us.
          We are those who do not by our own efforts or our own righteousness try to rescue or redeem ourselves.  We wait upon the Lord to do that.  We wait on Him to renew our strength.  We are the descendants by faith of Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Joseph, David, the prophets, the apostles, and all our brothers and sisters through the centuries who’ve followed in Jesus footsteps.

          Who are we?

          We are fellow citizens with God’s people and members of the household of God.  (Eph. 2:19)
          We are not American or British or Mexican or French or Japanese or Gambian or Pakistani or Brazilian.  We are not slave or free.  We are not male or female.  We are not rich or poor.  We are not black or brown or white.  We are not educated or uneducated.  We are not farmers or politicians or doctors or laborers.
          We are all one in Christ Jesus, a great fellowship of those who love Him first, and give living proof of His existence over the entire face of the earth.  (Gal. 3:29)

          We are the justified!
          We are the free!
          We are the loved!
          We are the conquerors!

“…in all these things we are more than conquerors
through Him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers, neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Rom. 8:37-39

            Brethren, let us stop hiding, cowering, whimpering.  Today we must pray and seek the face of the Lord and not stop until He fills us with His Holy Spirit and gives us the powerful gifts He has promised.

“But you will receive power
when the Holy Spirit comes upon you;
and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem,
and in all Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 1:8

            Like the small remnant of people who were left after Jesus ascended to His Father, we must pray and wait upon God until He answers us.  We cannot become powerful and courageous ourselves, because as Jesus said, we can’t do anything apart from Him.  We must let the Lord change us and work in us and empower us with His own Spirit within us.

          Brothers and sisters, let us band together and be who God made us to be!

Friday, December 30, 2011

IN YOUR UNENDURABLE PAIN, DON'T GIVE UP NOW, BROTHER OR SISTER..

Dear Brother or Sister:

You are in the middle of a terrible circumstance.  It looks, smells, feels, and acts like a tragedy being played out in your life.  It is is horrible, and your pain is unendurable.  You are close to the edge, wishing you were dead, wishing you'd never been born.  How incurable your situation is.  How despairing your heart is.  Who will deliver you from this?  When there is no hope, how can you have hope?  When we see nothing but blackness, where can light be found?

Christ knows this exact pain.  He is there with you, though you can't see  Him.  You have believed, but now, in your extreme pain, you find yourself alone, or seemingly alone.  That's ok. That's normal.  Christ went through the agony you are, only ten thousand times worse.  He had known perfection, and a life of fullness and bliss with His Father.  Yet here He was, among mean, ugly, nasty humans, whose best actions were rags in comparison to Gods' holiness.  Here He was, among them but not of them, eating with them, drinking with them, walking among them, and experiencing their ridicule, their disbelief, their petty objections, their blindness, their hatred and their weak-love that He knew He couldn't really trust.  He was betrayed and left alone by everyone, and felt complete abandonment even by His Father.  "Father, Father, why have you forsaken Me?" He cried in His extreme pain and loss, naked and ridiculed by all, bleeding and dying in agony, while the Heavens were shut to Him.  In this far country, this strange world ruled by evil, He was alone.

And yet, He says to you now, He calls you to take the same road.  The narrow road of pain and suffering.  So that you will know the blinding Light of His Truth, His joy, His love, which will come to you after Gethsemane, after Golgotha, after your death on that daily cross.  He calls to you now to submit to this dying, with tears, as you cry out "Father, Father, Why have you forsaken me?"  For He knows your resurrection is right around the corner.  Your stone will be rolled away, and you will see the Light again.  And your future will be lived more and more, as you go through these dying times, in His Life.  He will become your all, your Lord, and your Life.  His Way will become your Way.  His Truth will shine more and more out of your eyes and your heart.

Don't give up now.  You are almost there.  And He will carry your body, and dress it, and lay it in the tomb, and He will call you out from that grave as He called Lazarus out.  "________, (insert your own name) come out."  Those will be His Words to you soon.

The narrow road is full of difficulty and hardship.  Yet it's rewards are beyond explanation.  Continue on this road with many of us.  Christ will hold you, and Christ will redeem you from the hand of the ruthless and the evil, even when all seems dark and lost.

Blessings on you today in Christ.
A. Brother

Monday, December 26, 2011

LIVING WITHOUT FEAR: FOLLOW CHRIST, NOT THOSE WHO ARE TRYING TO LEAD YOU ASTRAY

GOD IS NOT FRUSTRATED OR CONFUSED
A. Brother

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit,
but test the spirits to see whether they are from God,
for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
1 John 4:1

“I am writing these things to you about those
who are trying to lead you astray.  As for you,
the anointing you received remains in you,
and you do not need anyone to teach you….
just as it has taught you, remain in Him.”
1 John 2:26,27


            There are many so-called ‘Christian’ movements out there today.  There are many ministries, and many voices, claiming many things.  There are large organizations building their own life, recruiting people, taking in money, and claiming to be doing God’s work.  It is a confusing and frustrating world, a subculture of noise and clamor.
          But it’s always been this way.
          We must not think God is frustrated or confused.  Our Father is absolutely Sovereign, and those of us who will be standing at the end of all things will stand on the absolute Twin Pillars of God’s Truth.
          First, we stand on God’s Word.  Scripture is our written Truth.  We measure all things by its clarity, by its light.  “In God’s Word it says…” should be one of our most used phrases.  This is essential today, when the winds of apostasy blow through the churches, and men throw out their own words like confetti on the ‘christian’ parade.  (I de-capitalized the word on purpose to emphasize that Christ is not in most of this charade.)
          Many of the ‘modern’ and ‘postmodern’ men and women who preach and teach let go of the Word in favor of their own words.  They think up bright and shining phrases that hit the market well.  We must not just shake our heads in disbelief at their tactics, but brothers and sisters, we must speak out and say, “This does not measure up to the Word of God.  I don’t care who says it, or who writes it, or who thought it up, but Scripture says…”
          God’s Word is true, and those who seek Christ must find Him in it.
          Second, we stand on the witness of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus said that the Spirit would remind us of what He taught, and be our confidante and comfort, our guide and help in knowing the Way.  We hold to the Word, and we listen to the Spirit to confirm it in our hearts and minds, so that we can stand in the day of testing and evil.
          The Scriptures quoted above stand in testimony to this Truth.  If we remain in Christ, and He remains in us, we will bear much fruit.  His fruit means the fruit of the Spirit, including love, faith, hope, and all the others.  If we don’t remain in Christ (and it is impossible to remain in Christ without clinging to His Word), then we don’t have Christ.  John’s first letter to the churches confirms God’s Truth to us in this matter.
          Each of us who is in Christ has the Spirit’s anointing to understand and know the things of Christ.  He will teach us, and we must not just rest on the words of men, or follow men.  This is where all apostasy and turning away starts.  By listening to and following men instead of being anchored in the Word and in the Spirit of God.

          Brothers, today we must fight, but forget all the political and cultural and social fights out there.  The battle for the Kingdom of God is a spiritual battle, and must be fought with spiritual weapons.  The Word and the Spirit!  God is Sovereign, never fear.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

WHAT I TELL YOU IN THE DARK, SPEAK IN THE DAYLIGHT.

PROCLAIM FROM THE ROOFS
A. Brother

            “What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight.  What is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.  Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.”  --Matt 10: 27,28

            “’You are Israel’s teacher,’ said Jesus, ‘and do you not understand these things?  --Matt 3:10

            “The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue…He…wakens my ear as one being taught.  The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back.  I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.  Because the Sovereign Lord helps me I will not be disgraced.  Therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I will not be put to shame.”  --Isa 50: 4-7

            There is no ecclesiastical, institutional call for those who speak the Truth of God from His Word.  The call that comes to them comes in the darkness, not in the glaring lights of worldly publicity.
            God’s spokesmen and watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem are not picked for their advanced degrees, and their detailed knowledge of the intricacies of biblical scholarship.  In fact, there is no earthly reason for their being chosen for such a difficult, lonely, arduous task.  Only God knows the reason for His choices.  And His Chosen are given their call by Jesus Himself, not by men or man-made organizations.
            We are confronted daily with the blatant apostasy of the people of God.  As Jesus was maligned and hated by the religiously motivated men around Him, so we will be maligned and hated by those who stand for religion today.
            As in Jesus’ time, the teachers of Israel will often not understand God’s true purposes as shown in His Word, and will often stand in opposition to them. 
           
            That is all the more reason we cannot fight this fight with the weapons in our hands.  We cannot stand if we don’t put on the full armor of God, because we are set among the tares, and they will be constantly working to choke out the Word of God and make it ineffectual.
            But God is the God of the impossible, and He will do it for us.
            Right now, brother or sister, you may love the Word of God because you are called to be a watchman on the walls, a prophet among the people of God.  God’s Word may be your life’s blood, and your constant companion day and night.  You may pray without stopping, keeping your ears open to the Spirit, trying hard to understand everything Jesus gives you.  You may hear His voice speaking in the wee hours, in the morning hours, even when you go about your work or spend time with others.    
            You have waves churning in your heart and mind at the wrong around you, especially the wrong in the churches.  You look at the Truth given us in Scripture, and you wonder where it went.  You look at the behavior of so-called believers in Christ, who gather together and worship Him in comfort, yet who don’t carry out even the most basic of Christ’s commands, and you are in pain at this state of affairs. 
            Your soul, like Lot’s, is vexed at the sin around you.  And you are not primarily upset at the world, which careens toward self-destruction because the lost don’t know any better.  You are primarily angry and frustrated at the gap between how you see the Church shown us in Scripture and the life of the churches today. 
            You pray daily for God to raise up men and women who will speak these things boldly.

            What I am going to say is from the Spirit, and from the Son’s heart, and is the Father’s will for this time, though it is hard for me to say because it puts me on the line as well as each man who listens and hears and is willing to obey.

            We are those who must obey Jesus and speak in the light, shout from the rooftops what He tells us in the dark and whispers to us in our ears.  We are those who must obey His call to tell others what He is saying.  He is demanding of us what Jesus talked about in the Parable of the Minas.  That each of us has just one mina, one life, and that must be given wholly to advancing the Kingdom of God, regardless of our personal business, regardless of any worldly agendas we may want to pursue.
            Some of us, the spokesmen and watchmen He has called, are busy with our nets, trying to catch fish.  Some of us are collecting taxes or busy with our corporate jobs.  Some of us are raising families, and have our own businesses.  Some of us are in “fulltime Christian work”, and are busy doing things for the churches, or other organizations.  Some of us are laboring as carpenters, as Jesus did.
            But each of us is required to build the Kingdom of God first, and to put aside our own agendas and plans.  Jobs and earthly pursuits come last.  Your search, men and women, for career fulfillment comes last.
            Many of us are like the man who told Jesus he couldn’t come with Him because he had personal obligations that prevented it.  Jesus said, “Let the dead bury their own dead.”  --Matt 8:22 
            Do we think that Jesus can’t take care of us and ours if we follow Him?
            Today, even if you’ve spent time away from the Lord, and have sinned greatly, you are called to obey.  As Paul, the murderous, violent man whom God used so mightily, we who have sinned and been away are now called to tell the truth where we have promoted lies.

            Today, if you know this call of God in your heart, you are to obey, just as God is taking all other crutches and excuses away from me, and telling me to obey.
           
            What do we do?
            Speak out today to others around us about what God is saying.  We are to obey Jesus, and be His true disciples, and that means we stand with Him, not with religious men.
            We must forsake our nets, and follow Jesus.
            We are to be willing to suffer with Jesus outside the gates of the city, setting our faces like flint as He did, and be willing to endure the mocking hatred of the religious crowd if we are to fulfill His calling. 
            Remember Jeremiah in the cistern, up to his neck in mud, starving, and yet unyielding in His commitment to God’s Word.
            When the disciples saw Jesus cleansing the temple in Jerusalem of the money changers and the merchants who had taken over Israel’s central place of worship, they were reminded of Psalm 69, the prophetic Word that David spoke about the coming Messiah. 
            May it also be true of us as we awake each day and listen to Jesus speak to us, and as we are faithful to follow in His footsteps.

            “I am a stranger to my brothers,
            an alien to my own mother’s sons;
            for zeal for your house consumes me,
            and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.”  --Ps 69: 8,9

            As our Lord Jesus promised to His disciples, we won’t lose anything in this life that won’t be given back to us a hundredfold, both now and in eternity.
            We will be given brothers and mothers and sisters and fathers and children and the warmth of family now, in the form of the Body of Christ.  We will have greater riches than any we could have from the world. 
            That’s why our Savior says to us:
           
            “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”  --Matt 19: 29

            So, if you are in the muddy depths, look up for God’s deliverance, brother.  If you are on the lofty heights of success, look down and rescue your brother who is alone in his struggles.  Get together and be the Body of Christ, proclaim what God reveals in His Word from the rooftops.  Do not hold back.  Let’s present the Lord Jesus with ten minas for every one He’s given us when we stand before Him.

            

Friday, December 23, 2011

REAL OR FAKE? YOU BE THE JUDGE.


ARE THESE FLOWERS REAL?
A. Brother

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness
and self control.”
Gal. 5:22

Early in the morning, as He was on His way
back to the city, He was hungry.
Seeing a fig tree by the road,
He went up to it but found nothing
on it except leaves.  Then He said to it,
“May you never bear fruit again!”
Immediately the tree withered.
Matt. 21:18,19

In our kitchen my wife has several beautiful vases of flowers.  In the interest of upkeep, these flowers are fake.  They never wither, never need watering, and never fade.  The colors are bold and vibrant, and the leaves look real.  Though they are man-made, they mimic flowers in the wild, and can fool almost anyone from a short distance.  Fake flowers of silk or other fabric, skillfully crafted to imitate the real thing, serve many purposes in our lives these days, don’t they?

Think about Christ’s attitude toward the fig tree in Matthew.  What did He do when He found out, that though real, the fig tree was not producing anything of value?  When Jesus came to that fig tree, He demanded only what is natural for fig trees to produce.  The fruit was missing.  He rightly decided that the fig tree was worthless, as its only purpose in life was fig production, and it was not doing what it was designed to do.  It looked good, it gave shade, it was a beautiful addition to the landscape, it gave every indication of being the real thing.  However, it wasn’t.  It was just “taking up space”.

So today there are many who claim Christ, who say they believe, who say they are “Christians”, who are just “taking up space”.  They look good, perhaps even beautiful.  They dress right, and say the right things, and attend all the right functions.  They are active, and smile, and have color, and sit in the right spots.  Like the fake flowers we have in our kitchen, and the fig tree that was real yet didn’t fulfill its function, so these people aren’t real.  The Christ-life is only faked, and the religious life bears no fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Today, we must test ourselves.  Are we real in Christ?  Are we not only hearers of the Word, but doers?  Are we bearing the fruit of the Spirit of God in our lives on a daily basis, so that when Christ stops by and is hungry, He can partake of the natural result of our obedience? 

Or are we religious Christians, sitting in church, walking around, bearing leaves and having trunks, throwing shade, looking to all the world like a fig tree, but inside, we are barren and without the rich, nourishing fruit that comes from a life in Christ?

Brothers and sisters, many of us need to stop.  We need to stop!  Did you hear me?  We must consciously stop what we are busy doing—the urgent things—and begin the important things God requires.

We must repent of our religious fakery, and become true and vital growing, fruit-producing Christ-followers.  We must decide we want Christ, not Christianity.  We must decide we’re tired of looking good, and desire to be good.  We must want to fulfill that natural function for which Jesus called us to Himself.  We must want to bear fruit that lasts.  Fruit of our natural union with Jesus Christ, which is the fruit of His Spirit.

Are you living in love?  Are you filled with hope, and joy, and kindness?  Are you patient, and gentle, and focused on others rather than yourself?  Are you strong and firm in your faith in Christ?  Do you know His suffering, and the power of His resurrection?  Are you putting off the old woman or man, and putting on the New Creation, this New Man or New Woman God has designed you to be?

If not, then stop and get out the Word of God, and let Jesus Christ go to work in you.  He is faithful, and He will act on your behalf. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

THE NEW CROSS IS NO CROSS AT ALL.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ:  This is the best analysis of what has happened to the truth of the gospel in our times that I’ve ever read.  It is straight from Scripture, and straight from the heart of God.  We would do well to take this to our hearts, give this to others whom we care about deeply, and spread this powerful word to all who claim Christ today.
A. Brother

THE OLD CROSS & the NEW
A.W. Tozer.

ALL UNANNOUNCED AND MOSTLY UNDETECTED there has
come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles.
It is like the old cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial;
the differences, fundamental. From this new cross has sprung a
new philosophy of the Christian life, and from that new philosophy
has come a new evangelical technique-a new type of meeting and
a new kind of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same
language as the old, but its content is not the same and its
emphasis not as before.

The old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam's
proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect
the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not
opposed to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and, if
understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and
innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life
motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure, only
now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious
movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor.
The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher
plane morally if not intellectually.

The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic
approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old
life before a new life can be received. He preaches not contrasts
but similarities. He seeks to key into public interest by showing
that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers
the same thing the world does, only on a higher level. Whatever
the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the moment
is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the
religious product is better.

The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears
him into a cleaner and a jollier way of living and saves his self-
respect. To the self-assertive it says, "Come and assert yourself
for Christ." To the egotist it says, "Come and do your boasting
in the Lord." To the thrill-seeker it says, "Come and enjoy the
thrill of Christian fellowship."

The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current
vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public. The philosophy
back of this kind of thing may be sincere but its sincerity does not
save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It misses
completely the whole meaning of the cross. The old cross is a
symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human
being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started
down the road had already said good-by to his friends. He was
not coming back. He was going out to have it ended.

The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing;
it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep
on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it
had finished its work, the man was no more. The race of Adam is
under death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape.

God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin, however innocent they
may appear or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the
individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness
of life. That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the
ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to
the souls of its hearers.

The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it intersects it. In
coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane;
we leave it at the cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground
and die. We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as
public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ
and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to
make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of
sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets,
and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.

God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life
out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross. Whoever
would possess it must pass under the rod. He must repudiate
himself and concur in God's just sentence against him. What does
this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life
in Christ Jesus? How can this theology be translated into life?
Simply, he must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and
then go on to forsake himself. Let him cover nothing, defend nothing,
excuse nothing. Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let
him bow his head before the stroke of God's stern displeasure and
acknowledge himself worthy to die. Having done this let him gaze
with simple trust upon the risen Saviour, and from Him will come
life and rebirth and cleansing and power.

The cross that ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to
the sinner; and the power that raised Christ from the dead now
raises him to a new life along with Christ. To any who may object
to this or count it merely a narrow and private view of truth, let me
say God has set His hallmark of approval upon this message from
Paul's day to the present. Whether stated in these exact words
or not, this has been the content of all preaching that has brought
life and power to the world through the centuries. The mystics,
the reformers, the revivalists have put their emphasis here, and
signs and wonders and mighty operations of the Holy Ghost gave
witness to God's approval. Dare we, the heirs of such a legacy of
power, tamper with the truth? Dare we with our stubby pencils erase
the lines of the blueprint or alter the pattern shown us in the Mount?
May God forbid. Let us preach the old cross and we will know the
old power.  (-A. W. Tozer, Man, the Dwelling Place of God, 1966).

Sunday, December 18, 2011

NATION BUILDING VS. KINGDOM LEADERSHIP

FROM TIME TO TIME I COMMENT ON A BLOG WRITTEN BY A FRIEND OF MINE.  IT IS A DISCUSSION AMONG SINCERE MEN WHO WANT TO SERVE CHRIST.  HERE IS A DISCUSSION POSTING I MADE TODAY, AND SINCE IT IS RELEVANT TO MANY "MOVEMENTS" AROUND THE WORLD AMONG CHRISTIANS, I WANTED TO REPOST IT HERE.

A. Brother

I hope I’m not too late to make a comment, guys.

You had me view a video of a speaker from JESUS CULTURE: A New Breed of Emerging Revivalists.  This movement seeks to train a new generation of Christian leaders who want to evangelize the world.  There is a heart for God there, though I would never seek to judge individuals.  The very idea of another self-proclaimed "movement" within Christianity curdles my blood.  It is just this mass thinking, these large-scale attempts to change the churches, that speaks so loudly of our disconnect from Christ.  He was never looking for mass movements.  He was always choosing and calling one man at a time, and looking for the few who would actually follow Him and obey Him.  Another movement like this just adds to the seriously flawed thinking the churches have: that it is in "packaging" some sort of driven, self-purposed, highly-marketed movement that the proper sort of change occurs to the Body of Christ.

One area of serious disagreement I have with this speaker: He is equating leading with nation building. We are a “holy nation” set apart from the nations of this world. Any leading we do will be for the Kingdom of God, which is not of this world. Therefore, to call as he does to the Body of Christ to seek to lead the nations of the earth is a false call. God is not seeking leaders of the nations, He is seeking men who will lead His Kingdom.

Remember the qualifications of a leader in the Kingdom. “Many of those who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” Christ calls His leaders to be servants, and be willing to be like Paul, who was “last in the parade.” We are to die, and show in our dying to self, and our willingness to take the lowest place at the table, that we are Christ’s. That is leadership in the Kingdom of God.

This young man is part of a movement that has been around forever in the churches. When I was young, forty years ago, there were preachers and teachers proclaiming in mass meetings that Christians were to lead this country into righteousness, and be leaders in politics, business, education, and all other areas of life so that we could remain a Christian nation. Unfortunately, as history shows us, God the Father is not interested in nation building in this world. And because the churches are so far from His calling, His Son’s clear call to show ourselves chosen by our willingness to die, to be last in this world, to carry that rough old cross with joy in our hearts, then the churches and the churchianity they have spawned have lost their influence. This country has more mega-churches than ever before, and more Christian music, and more Christian radio, etc, yet is further into darkness than ever before. Could it be we have missed the call? We have refused what David Gale says, and I agree with, that call to be nothing for Christ? To give up everything to follow Jesus?

My thoughts on this are based on recent encounters in my life with Christ, and His clear Word. We must “de-culturize” and drop our modern filters. No amount of rousing preaching from a stage, with hands in the air all over, and shouts of “amen!” will change things. Only the “on the knees” time in quiet with our God and our Lord Jesus will change us. And only those few banding together who know this will experience the true life of fellowship in the Body of Christ that the Lord of the Church intends.  No mass movements allowed.  Christ is Lord, and He will achieve the Kingdom's goals in His Way.

God’s blessing on you all. Thanks for letting me comment.

BLIND ADDICTION TO TECHNOLOGY PROMOTES SEPARATION.

A NOTE ON HOW BLIND OBEDIENCE TO TECHNOLOGY SEPARATES PEOPLE.
A. Brother


I've been wanting to post in my blog something on this vital subject.  We have lost our family and community culture in the west due to our love and passion for all things convenient.  Yesterday I had a discussion in our office with a woman who brought up her resistance to having an iphone because she feels so crazy as it is in her life. 


 I commented that it was really the invention of the telephone that was the most massive and sudden shift in society, and that ever since then, we have been working on more technology to separate ourselves from one another while appearing to be more connected.  It is a deception that has taken hold at all levels.  


Nobody is ever "in the moment" anymore.  We are never with whom we're with.  We're always connecting somewhere else while we ignore the ones we are standing or sitting with.  When we're doing something, we're trying to figure out what we'll do next.  When we're at one party, we're making sure there are more parties coming up.  When we walk down the mall with two friends, and all three of us are on our cell phones talking with other friends, we are conveniently avoiding depth of relationship, and any commitment to it.  


Time has come to resist, and back out of this race for separation.  Christ-followers should thoughtfully begin this process, rejecting the knee-jerk options that are coming at us fast and furiously.  We have mistaken, even in the churches, connectivity for communication, and clicking for closeness.  


Watch the new Sprint commercial, with the dark-haired girl going through the endless cycles of her days, new phone in hand and in her face every moment, no matter what she's doing, and unable to concentrate on where she is, unable to notice anyone or anything that isn't on that little screen.  "Unlimited data" is the pitch, and ironically, to me, this commercial makes that life of chasing little characters on a screen seem ridiculous and small, and totally undesirable.  


However, the blindness is upon us.  God help us, in Christ, to live in this moment, in this day, and to put down the instruments of separation.  Use technology, don't let it use you, brethren in Christ.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

BACK TO THE FULL MESSAGE OF CHRIST AND THIS NEW LIFE


CHRISTLESS CHRISTIANITY
A. Brother

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus
to…the faithful in Christ Jesus
from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Eph. 1:1,2

“In love He predestined us to be adopted
as His sons through Jesus Christ
And He made known to us the mystery of His will…
which He purposed in Christ
to bring all things in heaven and on earth
together under one Head, even Christ.”
Eph. 1:4-10

The Father’s focus on Christ means our focus is to be on Christ.  Christ is the beginning and end of all creation.  He is God’s purpose, and should be our purpose. 

If we have truly been “born again” by the Spirit of God, it is because of Christ, and we no longer live, but Christ lives in us.  We are to changing daily into the image of Christ, having the mind of Christ, exhibiting the fruit of Christ’s life in our character, and following in His footsteps to Gethsemane on to Golgotha each day carrying our crosses, dying to self, being transformed by the power of God into New Men and New Women.

This was the “full message of this new life” (Acts 5:20) carried into homes, businesses, synagogues, temples, public venues, and by all means possible by the apostles and other disciples.  Their message was all about Christ.  His preeminence, His supremacy.

Today, we suffer the neglect of Christ within our churches, and among our most prominent teachers and preachers.  These men and women talk about so many things.  They give us words and words, by the millions, and lots of “talk time”, and lots of “face time” with them.
We see them in bookstores, their faces large and smiling on the covers of their newest books.  We see them on television, pacing and gesturing, giving out their newest and greatest thoughts. 

They talk about…God.  They talk about the “Christian life”.  They talk about being positive, and getting hold of God’s promises.  They quote all our favorite positive Scriptures.  They have a new thought, a new angle, an interesting story, a powerful anecdote.  They give us their newest approach to living the Christian life in a more effective way.

Yet, how does this resemble, even in the least, the “full message of this new life” we have been given in Scripture?

We have a watered down, baby version of this message, with lots of human psychology and the best marketing thrown in.  They bring us a “Christless Christianity”.  It has the appearance of wisdom, the appearance and sound of Christianity, but it is just form without substance, without power.  We have known so many of these ‘prophets of profits’ over the last 100 years in America.  Just go to your local Walmart book section and see their faces dominate the “Inspirational Book” section.  They are where they are because they preach a gospel of compromise.  Popularity among the masses is strong assurance that they have left the Christ who was rejected by the masses.  They have focused on the wrong things.

“But even if we or an angel from heaven
should preach a gospel other than
the one we preached to you,
let him be eternally condemned!...
Am I now trying to win the approval of men,
or of God?  Or am I trying to please men?
If I were still trying to please men,
I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Gal. 1:9,10

These people, and there are dozens and hundreds of others who could be put on the list, may have the best intentions in the world. But their intentions are meaningless according to Scripture, because they all share one thing in common.  They have preached either just a part of the “full message”, thereby crippling and keeping in immaturity many Christians, or they have preached a Christless Christianity, which focuses on using human psychology coupled with Christian principles from the Bible to give us new ways of living. 

Some have preached a Christ who is undemanding, one who never threw the moneychangers out of the temple, and who never talked about giving up one’s own life to gain Christ.  Many have never talked about the Narrow Gate, or the hard road of life with Christ, or the dying to self, or the suffering we must go through to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Others have focused on what they call the “promises of God”, and His obligation to keep us safe, shelter us from the storms of life, and bring us prosperity for our faithfulness.

God’s message has never changed.  Look at Paul writing to the Ephesians.  The entire letter is about Christ.  God’s purposes in Christ, our calling in Christ, the Church’s purpose in Christ, and how Christ is the focus of all creation.  How Christ’s coming again will fulfill all the Father’s work with us.  Not a hint of human psychology.  Not a hint of personal marketing or glorification of Paul’s ministry or life.  He was all about Christ, and Christ’s all-sufficient power within to heal us, to help us, to empower us to live godly lives in this present evil age.  Paul taught Christ to us, and we must listen.  All the New Testament is the Christ message, and has no resemblance to much of our modern babbling.

Brothers and sisters:  Christ is to become our focus again!  We must stand for Christ, not for Christianity.  We must be willing to leave our comfortable teachers, our soft pews, and our positions of prominence among the so-called churches, and teach and preach and bring the Word of God any way we can to God’s people.  We must stand up where we are and demand that those who claim to speak for Christ speak about Christ!

Seek Christ today, and His Word.  Find those who are preaching and teaching the uncompromised, Christ-focused Way, which the original apostles and disciples died for.  Jesus Christ will help you Himself, and give you all you need as you learn with Him. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

PUTTING ALL "AT-RISK" FOR CHRIST.

FEARLESSLY
A. Brother

“Pray also for me,
that whenever I open my mouth,
words my be given me
so that I will fearlessly make known
the mystery of the gospel,
for which I am an ambassador in chains.
Pray that I may declare it fearlessly,
as I should.”
Eph. 6:19,20

Fearlessly.  How I would like to reach that point with Jesus.  Paul experienced fear, it is obvious, because otherwise he would not be asking others to pray for him, that he would “fearlessly” proclaim and declare the truth.

We all struggle with this.  Those of us who love Christ and are walking in the light, who want only to live for the Kingdom of God.  We know fear.  We know the fears of losing the friendship or outward respect of those we care about.  We know the fears of being ostracized by co-workers.  We know the fears of being thought of as weird or strange, branded as overzealous or fanatical by those who call themselves Christians.

We may have family that opposes us.  We may have people in positions of authority over us in life who could do us harm if they wished.

Whatever our position, we always think we have much to lose.  Paul did.  Whenever he spoke fearlessly, he ended up being flogged or stoned.  And eventually, he knew he’d be killed for fearlessly proclaiming the gospel of Christ.  Both pagan and religious hate the true gospel, because it pierces to the heart of their sin, and exposes with light the darkness they live in and are comfortable with. 

Jesus was our example.

He was fearless when it counted, in the face of deadly opposition.  Hundreds of thousands of our brethren through the centuries have faced deadly opposition, fearless when it counted, and stood the test, giving their lives when called upon.

Yet today, in America, and other affluent nations, we are afraid to say anything, and it is not for fear of losing our lives.  It is for fear of losing our comfortable positions.  We have compromised with the world to the extent that we count on all our “Christian comforts”.  We are as affluent as the world.  We love our nice homes, our status, our toys.  We love our outwardly fine family relationships.  The inside may be rotting, and our children and other loved ones may be going to hell on an express train, but we will not risk rejection by sharing the gospel with them.  We won’t risk our important business connections.  We won’t risk our money.  We won’t risk anything really.  Our fears are winning.

We will express our outrage all day about political matters.  We will declare our indignation at the economic situation.  We will proclaim our opinions without a care.

But the gospel, well, that is another matter.  Sharing our experiences with Christ to another person would jeopardize everything.  Caring about Jesus, and His agenda today, now that’s a different thing. 

We must measure the depth of our Christ-life by measuring the depth of our willingness to risk for His sake.  Unwillingness to risk for Christ means we care more about what we are risking than what we might gain for His sake, and for the Kingdom of God.  Let’s all take a hard look at what we’re not willing to lose today, and pray that God will raise us up like Paul to declare the mystery of the gospel, ambassadors even in chains, if need be.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

OUR "LITTLE BY LITTLE" JOURNEY INTO HOLINESS.

INSTANT HOLINESS OR LITTLE BY LITTLE?
A. Brother

“The Lord your God will drive out those nations
before you, little by little. 
You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once,
or the wild animals will multiply around you.”
Deut. 7:22

            Do we understand that the 40-year Promised Land trek was designed by the Lord God to test His people?  And that He does the same for each believer in Christ who truly wants to follow Jesus on the narrow Way? 

            Do we understand that this is a journey, full of danger and difficulty?  That God leads us, but it is our feet that hit the ground, and it’s our backs that lift the burdens?  That Christ will give us strength, and courage, and determination, and power, but that He actually has a purpose in testing us and disciplining us?

            God took His people into the desert for forty years.  Yes, they kept themselves there longer than necessary, because they didn’t exercise faith, but these things happened so that we can learn from them today.  So with us, God works in the same way.

            We have been taught that Christ brings peace, and a good life, and days full of hope and joy and love.  We have been taught that He brings us prosperity.  That when we leave Egypt (that former life of sin and rebellion against God) we will suddenly be transported into the Promised Land!  Rich with plenty, pleasure and the good things of life.  At ease on our couches, we will enjoy the plump fruits of righteousness that will bud from the tree, and grow quickly, and our lives will instantly reflect the glory of Christ.

            Unfortunately, like Moses, we come down off the mountain after seeing the glory of God Himself, and in the melee of worldly attitudes and sins that dance around us, the glory that was in our faces begins to fade.  We sometimes put on the veil, as Moses did, to pretend we’re still radiant with God’s presence, yet we are just masking its fading.  Brothers and sisters, I believe that much of our “church activity” is designed to mask the fact that we aren’t really experiencing the glory and holiness of Christ.  We are afraid to admit that if we didn’t have the noise and the crowds, and the loud music, and the media frenzy, then we would have nothing but the faded glory on our tired faces.

            We must read and listen to Moses in Chapters 7 and 8 of Deuteronomy.  It was never intended that the people of God meet Him on the mountain and be instantly transformed into a glorified, perfected nation.  NO.  They were to walk the desert, on foot, carrying all the gold and silver and precious gifts they had been given by the Egyptians.  They were to make a journey, and it was not to be easy or fast.

            Not only would they walk for forty years, learning the hard Way that God does not tolerate sin and double-mindedness in His true People.  But when they came to the edge of the Promised Land, they would be told they were entering another phase of the journey.  Now they would be forced to apply all they had learned with real people, in the real world, and face down the evil that lay in that Promised Land they were to inherit.

            We face our own evil every day.  I mean not only the world’s evil, but what lies within us.  God intends this picture of Israel entering the Promised Land to show us also what it means to let Christ cleanse us of sin.  He will do it, but He will do it step by step, “little by little”.  He knows that if at salvation we were instantly cleansed of everything in us that is not of Christ, we would soon be overwhelmed by evil that would come in and fill the emptiness that was there.  Here we see evil thoughts and intentions, wrong attitudes, sinful desire, all represented as “wild animals”.  These wild things spawned by Satan would take over where the evil human attitudes and actions that were there have been eradicated.  Like the nations before them, Israel would fall prey to these wild animals and, as Jesus said about the one emptied of evil spirits, “his last state would be worse than the first.”  When Christ drives out one bad habit, or one bad attitude, He replaces it with another, and mortars it firmly into place in the New Man, before He moves to the next.  If we are obedient, then in our lives, one after another of these evil, idolatrous nations falls to the Sword of Christ in us, and we drive them out gradually.

            This is how we attain holiness in Christ, brothers and sisters.

            Quit looking for an instant cure.  The disease is in the hands of the Great Physician, and He will prompt us to move against each cancerous cell until the whole mind and body are cleansed.  And that means our discipline is required, our holy patience is required, in order for Him to do His work in us.

            We must stop sinning, but it is Christ in us who will destroy these things as we move through the desert, and on into the Promised Land.  Think of the times in the Sinai when Israel sinned, and God then took action, swallowing up that sin with a huge opening in the earth, or sending a plague that took out the disease.  Israel bowed again before Him, and He led them on, closer and closer to the physical Land of Promise, which is a picture for us of our spiritual journey to holiness in Christ.

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