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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"Now" means now. Romans 8:1

There is no expiration date on God's guarantee that His children will never be condemned.

The Busiest and the Most Powerful Entities On Planet Earth: The Devil and the Holy Spirit

The population of planet Earth is quickly approaching the 7 billion mark, or so I'm told. (Did you know that all 7 billion of our inhabitants could fit into Jacksonville, Fla., when given a 2 foot square space to stand in? I think that would be pretty cool, providing everyone bathed first). And of the nations containing those 7 billion souls, many are at war. Their leaders are occupied with either conquering others or defending themselves from those who wish to conquer them. As incredible as it is to me, there are in the 21st century, men who want to "rule the world." That is insane. No, I mean truly insane. But there's more to the picture than that. There's stuff going on behind the scenes that most of our 7 billion souls are blissfully unaware of.

"Satan is alive and well on planet Earth!" Excuse me, Hal Lindsay. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians in what we refer to as Second Corinthians describing Satan as "the god of this world." "But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this world has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them" (4:3-4).

Imagine that. 7 billion minds that Satan wants to deceive (and, yes, that includes true disciples of Christ. 1 Pet.5:8; Eph. 6:10ff). And don't miss that point made by Paul; the god of this world has blinded "the minds" of those who reject Jesus. Folks with blinded minds don't realize that they have been blinded from seeing the truth of the gospel by the devil himself. They honestly think that they just choose not to be converted. Some sincerely think believing in this Person called Jesus is silly and utter foolishness. Some reject Jesus because they can't bear the thought of giving up those dark practices they love so much. And some just don't care one way or the other. And they all think they come to their various conclusions on their own. "If it's going to be, it's up to me," said that heretic Robert Schuller from his "Crystal Cathedral."

Now, back to the title of this post, "The Busiest and the Most Powerful Entities On Planet Earth: The Devil and the Holy Spirit." They are not equal in any since of the word! "Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world" (1 Jn. 4:4). "The devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." The devil is pretty darned busy. He has to "roam about," or, "walk about," to do his dastardly deeds. He is not omnipresent. Nor is he omnipotent or omniscient. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand being God, is everywhere all at once, using men and women of God to tell lost souls about the good news and teaching the disciples of Christ all that they need to know. The Holy Spirit, being God, is indeed omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient, all present, all powerful, all knowing.

Satan is the busiest but the Holy Spirit is the most powerful Entity on planet Earth. Whenever and wherever the gospel is preached (or "shared"), that one proclaiming the good news can be assured that the Holy Spirit is present to do the will of the Father and the Son, and that will will be accomplished. We sow, we water, we plant, but God gives the increase. Trust Him, not yourself, to do just that.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Loving my freedom in a non-sharia nation

I'm sitting here at my computer. I have internet access. I can read anything I want to read; I can post anything on facebook and twitter and my blog I want to post.

The television is on downstairs and Jeopardy is on. In about twenty minutes "Wheel" will come on. Then, I'll watch "Bones" and "The Following" and "Castle." I'll run back and forth between my tv and my computer as I get ideas for my book or facebook. I'll be in and out of the Holy Bible all day, taking notes and adding inspired thoughts to the book I'm going to have published. It's a wonderful way to spend a Monday.

I do not like most of the junk on television these days but I support the freedom to produce them we have as Americans. By junk I'm referring to the plethora of "reality shows" that I find to be innocuous
but stupid.

I am a Christian and have been for 39 years. I can worship at any local church I choose, even if it's not Southern Baptist (put a smiley face emoticon here). And I support the freedom Presbyterians and United Methodists and Episcopalians and Roman Catholics have to worship as they so choose.

As an American living in a growing Southern town, I have access to hundreds of restaurants, dozens of movie theaters, hundreds of city/county parks and museums. There are thousands of grocery stores in our county selling such a wide variety of grocery store stuff that it boggles the mind.

There are restaurants where I can go with friends and have a cold beer if I so choose or a mixed drink or a glass of wine. I can eat pork or beef barbecue in any number of places. I love fried fish and fried chicken and fried pork chops.

I can travel freely throughout our wonderful nation. I can enjoy the sights and sounds of our nation's capitol or "The Big Apple." I have always loved looking at the statues erected in honor of our founding fathers and our national heroes in DC. I can go across country and enjoy California or Washington State. I can stop outside of California and see the Grand Canyon and the "Badlands."

I can speak out negatively against our government leaders in accordance with my First Amendment rights. I love this country and the freedoms we have here.

These rights, my friends, are being threatened everyday. No, not only by our current and corrupt leaders in Washington, but by the encroachment of Islam and its system of law, sharia. When I say "system," I'm using the term in the loosest of ways. Sharia is an unwritten way Muslim imams and other Muslims interpret and apply the teachings of Muhammed and the sunnah, centered, of course, on the Qur'an. This is the singular greatest threat to individual liberty the world has ever faced. And if you don't believe that, then you're not paying attention.

Or, you have been deceived by the voices of liberalism and progressivists and those blindly advocating for a multicultural society that serves only to pave the way for the strongest in that mulitcultural society to bully its culture into the position as the only culture. Islam is such a culture.

For a record of Islam in today's news as it massacres Christians, go here.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Desparate Times Demand the Gospel

The "gospel" has been seriously redefined by false teachers like Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, the Copelands, the Shullers, T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, Jessie Duplantis, and many, many others. Does anyone remember what the gospel is?

I watched Osteen a couple of weeks ago and thought "what a great motivational talk." He made me feel pretty darn good. He is so lovable. He starts with "something kinda funny," gives an encouraging motivational pep talk peppered with funny stories and some heart-tugging stories, and ends with an invitation to "accept Jesus into your heart." My question is, if I'm already so blessed by god or whoever and all I have to do is declare what I need over my life, if my "words prophecy my future" as Osteen claims, then why do I need this Jesus you barely acknowledged in your pep talk? Indeed! Why do I need God?

Not long ago I visited a "charismatic" church with a dear friend. I heard basically the same Osteenish message I heard on tv. I've recently listened on line to two local pastors and heard a couple of pretty good sermons from the Bible. I'm thankful anytime I hear a word from the word. And while these two on-line sermons were from the word, my concern is that based on recent surveys, most (yes, "most") church-goers who hear these sermons on the family and the all too common "how to" sermons, do not know Jesus Christ. What good do these sermons do the lost?

It behooves every God-called pastor to occasionally present a clear and simple presentation of the gospel of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ. No, you are not "preaching to the choir." You're preaching to people among whom are the lost and deceived who are totally satisfied with life the way it is.

They love coming to church because it makes them feel good. And I mean it makes them feel like they're genuinely "good" people. But when they're not "in church" on Sunday morning, they're no longer a part of anything that could possibly pass for the church. The "church" is the place they go on Sundays. And now, away from that building, they no longer act like the salt of the earth.

Church-goers must hear the gospel. If for no other reason than making them accountable for hearing it and keeping the pastor's hands clean of the blood of all men.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"Those Deceitful and Lying Residuals In the Christian's Mind"

Just today I was lusting for something I do not want; I want to commit sexual immorality with some young lady. But I really, honestly, sincerely do not want to do that. That desire is merely a "residual" from my life before God by His grace through faith in Jesus saved me. No, seriously! I do not want to fornicate. And in almost 39 years, thank God, I haven't.

Before God graciously saved me, I lived in sexual immorality. I was a drummer in a popular band in our area and, well, you can figure it out. Plus, I was brought up to be promiscuous. I was "dead in my trespasses and sins, I once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience." I lived and moved in a kingdom that is characterized by such behavior; I lived in the kingdom of the devil, the kingdom of darkness. And I found as I began my life in Christ surrounded by this kingdom of the devil that those dark things so ingrained in my heart and soul and mind still resonated in me ... and too often found a new believer who caved under the temptations and pressure of their siren call.

And that's what makes repentance such a beautiful call. What great gifts God has given those who are in Christ, the gifts of repentance and confession.

Are you aware of a verb form in the Greek New Testament known as "the negated present imperative?" If you aren't, let me tell you about it. This can be an encouragement to all believers wrestling with some form of sin.

The negated present imperative is when the New Testament author writes to a church or individual and says "Do not continue doing what you are now doing! Stop it!" It means that the author and the recipient know what is going on, what sin is being committed, what present action must be stopped. It means that the believer is doing something now that he or she should stop and can stop doing. For instance, in Ephesians 4, v.28, Paul writes, "Let him who stole steal no longer." We can read this phrase this way, "Let him steal no longer," or, better for our purposes in this context, "Do not keep stealing! Stop it! Some of you are still stealing like you were once accustomed to doing. Stop it!" "Steal no longer" is the negated present imperative. It's simply a command to stop doing something that one is currently doing.

One more example. In his first letter to the church in Corinth Paul writes in our chapter 6 and v.9, "Do not be deceived." That is a negated present imperative. We can now understand that the Corinthians were in the state of being willfully deceived and Paul is commanding them, "Stop being deceived!" It can be done and you as a Christian can do it. We can control our longings to go back into whatever it is we're being tempted with and whatever it is we may still be doing. And we can do it by God's grace (not a flippant cliche) and by our personal resolve.

Now, beloved, stop flirting with those residuals of your past life. They pop up not because they're things you really want to do but because they were once a part of who you once were. They're familiar. Ok, sometimes we really do want to do some sin. But what I'm talking about in this post are those leftovers from the lost life that are rolling around in each of us deceiving us into believing that we want to go back and revisit them.

Occasionally I experience the horror of panic attacks. They are indeed horrible. They overcome me with little advance notice and there's absolutely nothing I can do about them, outside of taking drugs for such things. But now I know what's going on when they start. Now I can tell myself while going through this temporary insanity that it's not real. Those feelings of horror and dread I'm experincing are coming from a physiological problem. It's just a panic attack. Then I can handle it. I can even continue driving my car now when I'm expereincing an attack. I can now say to myself (a negated present imperative), "Don't let this have its way. Stop letting this physiological breakdown rule you. You will live through it."

And in the very same way we can tell ourselves, "Stop it! Stop being deceived by those residuals of sin that are making you think you want something that you actually do not want."

So, beloved, Stop it! Negate that temptation.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

False Teachers Rap

This man is on the money and pulls no punches. Listen here.

I have been preaching this since 1988. Unfortunately, few listen.

The "Whatever" Generation

The recent Barna Survery (found here) points out some rather sobering facts about the so-called church in America. The very disheartening findings reflect not only the willing ignorance and unbelief of those who label themselves Christian but a truth many of us have warned about over the past 30 years, pastors are not feeding their flocks the word of God. And as a result, the average pew warmer just doesn't care about their faith. They see little if any relevance or importance in what they're hearing. Of course, that implies that the average pastor doesn't either. And, after all, what really matters is "Your Best Life Now."

The promotion of every imaginable deviant behavior by America's entertainment industry has revealed the truth about the faith of many folks who still go to church as well as that of many who no longer attend. Media productions do not make us what we are, they just serve to bring what we are to the surface. The only remedy is the gospel. The only change-agent is the Holy Spirit. Whatev'.

So what if homosexuality is considered an abomination by God Himself. Whatev'. God can't be right. The happy homosexual couple on Modern Family is so funny and loveable.

So what if the word of God says that sex without marriage is sin? Whatev'. I can't think of one television show on at this time that doesn't promote (and, yes, I'm going to say it) fornication. Well, The Middle doesn't.

So what if husbands and wives having sexual intercourse with others is condemned by God. Whatev'.
These are just "extra-marital activities." No harm, no foul.

So what if Islam is "of the spirit of antichrist" and worships a false prophet and a false god. Whatev'.
Who's to say who is right and who has the truth?

So what if the Roman Catholic Church is a damnable cult and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Whatev'.

So what if Jesus said He was the only way to the Father. Whatev'.

So what if God calls for sinners to repent. Whatev'.

So what if eternal damnation awaits those who reject Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Christ, Savior, Redeemer and Lord. Whatev'.


Monday, April 15, 2013

The Living Word is our rest. Our rest from what?

Hebrews 4:1-16 Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. 3 For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, "As I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest," although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For He has thus said somewhere concerning the seventh day, "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works"; 5 and again in this passage, "They shall not enter My rest." 6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 He again fixes a certain day, "Today," saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, "Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts." 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. 9 There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. 14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.

To some degree, every believer is tired, burdened by the load of work that says God isn't pleased with me, I must do more. It is a lie from the "father of lies." It was the apostle Paul's problem before he discovered His rest in Christ (Rom. 7:14-8:4).

Paul was a believer who wrestled for a time with the place of the law and the place of grace, with Mt. Sinai and Mt. Calvary, with his flesh and with his inner man, that part of every believer that is born again. And he came to an absolutely unbelievable conclusion. It was so unbelievable, in fact, that many still don't believe it. We prefer working for our justification, don't we. And we do it, don't we? We try to be right with God even as those who are already made right with God by doing more, by being better. We feel lazy if we try to rest in Christ. And we resist our remaining sinfulness by denying it and then by vain attempts to pay for it ourselves.

"O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did. (my preferred punctuation) By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin, He condemned sin in the flesh that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit" (Rom. 7:24-8:4).

This is where we find our rest; He is our rest. We rest from the burden of the law of Moses and  the law of sin and death by the grace of God who has baptized us into the body of His Beloved. Jesus is the Living Word referred to in the Hebrews passage, not the Bible. The Living Word is our rest. We have believed and we have received. Now, rest. And while you're resting, read this.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

"Oops! I forgot about God."

It happens all the time. I go about my daily life of reading the word of God, praying, writing, playing solitaire on the computer, checking my email, facebook, eating, etc., etc.. (can you tell I'm retired?) And much of this while not really thinking about God actually and literally being inside me in the Person of the Holy Spirit. I live much of life without remembering that He's there and I'm always in His presence. That kind of living for a disciple of Jesus Christ is self-defeating. A constant awareness of our being in the presence of our heavenly Father is essential for a healthy spiritual life and for glorifying Him, which is really what life is all about.

And, no, this is not the old tool our parents used to scare us into being good little boys and girls when they told us "God's watching you!" That method of discipline may have worked for a minute or two but that was all. Our old Adamic natures really didn't care if God was watching or not. Still don't. For the believer forgetting about being in God's presence 24/7 is about our missing our Father's best. It's about remembering that He is for us and not against us. That's why I said this is self-defeating behavior.

Romans 8, verses 15-39, is a powerful summation of all that God has graciously done and is graciously doing in our lives through faith in Jesus Christ. I sum it up this way, "God is in us; God is with us; and God is for us." Why wouldn't we want to be constantly and consistently aware of His presence?

He certainly is "watching us." But not as a vengeful and wrathful God (He took care of all that in the body of His Son on Calvary so that we will never have to face His wrath. 1 Thess. 1:10; 1 Jn. 2:1-2). No, rather He is watching us as the loving Father He is toward all who are in Christ. Why wouldn't we want to be constantly and consistently aware of His being in us and with us and for us?


Saturday, April 13, 2013

"The B- i- b- l- e, that's not the book for me..." The church and the fatal disease of Biblical illiteracy

As a pastor/preacher since 1987, and a disciple of Christ since 1974, I am appalled by the lies Christians tell about their love for the Bible. And they do it with such fervor. But when I ask them about certain verses, where they are found, what is the context of the verses they allude to in conversation, I have found that by far they haven't a clue. Survey after survey affirms my observation.

In today's Charlotte Observer's Faith and Values section, 4-21-13, I found another survey that reports the abysmal neglect of the Bible by people who profess to love it. "Only 1 in 5 Americans read the Bible on a regular basis," while "88 percent of respondents said they own a Bible," and "80 percent think the Bible is sacred." "61 percent wish they read the Bible more, and the average household has 4.4 Bibles."

"Doug Birdsall, president of the American Bible Society said, 'People realize the Bible has values that would help us in our spiritual health, but they just don't read it. I see the problem as analogous to obesity in America. We have an awful lot of people who realize they're overweight, but they don't follow any diet.'"

Biblical illiteracy and millions of false professions of faith over the last century explain why the visible church latches on to every passing religious fad and every heresy propogated via our airways.

Jesus said this, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (Jn. 8:31-32). He also said, "And when he (the true shepherd of the sheep) brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers" (10:4-5). Those millions who have made false professions of faith follow false shepherds afterward.

If the dupes in the pews of some of America's mega-churches knew the word of God, more correctly, if they knew the Good Shepherd, they would flee these false prophets, false teachers, false apostles, false pastors/bishops/elders. But instead, these unregenerate church-goers embrace the non-sense spewing forth from these pulpits.

I find this statement in the newspaper article almost laughable, "More than three-quarters of Americans (77 percent) think the nation's morality is headed downhill..." Ya think! They "think the nation's morality is headed downhill?" People, our morals hit the bottom of the hill decades ago. And furthermore, if you believe that higher morals is the answer to the churches problems, then you do not know the voice of the Good Shepherd and the grace of God that alone changes lives. Striving for higher morals is a purely human effort that takes the gospel out of the picture and turns man in on himself and his non-existent innate ability to earn God's favor.

But if you know the voice of the Shepherd, you have the Holy Spirit ... and you know these things.

Repent, visible church.

Monday, April 8, 2013

"How a good God can 'allow' evil to go on and on." An overly simplified take on theophany.

He can "allow" it because otherwise He would have to destroy this world, with all its occupants. And He has demonstrated time and time again that He doesn't want to do that ... just yet.

His mercy and grace and unfathomable patience lie behind all that He does and allows.

"Natural" tragedies are for the most part just that, tragedies that occur because our world and its environs produce them. These are part of the legacy we have inherited from our first parents.

"Man-made" tragedies are just that, tragedies we bring on ourselves because man at his core is bad, not good. We are a depraved race. This is also a part of that inherited legacy.

"Everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it." That's a saying that circulated during the early 20th century. We can't do anything about the weather other than keep an eye on it and prepare accordingly. Man-made tragedies are a different animal.

A "biker" once asked me in anger "why does God allow little children and other people to starve to death?" I answered, "He's going to ask us a similar question, 'why do you allow little children and other people to starve to death?'" God won't answer for man-made tragedies, man will.

Nothing about this world and its occupants is going to change other than the changed hearts of those individuals who by God's grace come to faith in Jesus Christ. And while Christians aren't perfect, we can and do make a little difference here and there in this fallen and dark world.

I'm looking for the fulfillment of prophecy that tells us that "a new heaven and a new earth" are coming on "the Day of the Lord."


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Passive righteousness or active righteousness? Or both?

We are free in Christ ... but not from ourselves or what others think of us, not yet, anyway. And that's ok as long as we are free in Christ now (and we are) and blessed by what God thinks of us now that we are in Christ.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Why Pastor Osteen? Why the liberal American media turn to Joel Osteen for his views

It may seem that Pastor Joel Osteen is the darling of the liberal media. He is not. He is their "useful idiot."

Osteen's rise to fame and fortune since he assumed leadership of his late father's church in Houston, Texas, is the perfect demonstration of what is described as "the cult of personality." One would think that a so-called "church" would be founded on the Bible and the truths it reveals, that God (the Trinity) is our Creator, that man is fallen, sinful, and ungodly apart from the grace of God, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He was and is God incarnate, that He lived a sinless life, perfectly pleased God the Father, suffered, died, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven in the presence of witnesses, and is going to return to wrap His work of redemption and justice up. But not Lakewood.

One might expect a pastor of international fame and one who is frequently consulted to address the pressing issues of the day (in particular, homosexuality) to know something about the Bible he holds up each Sunday and says along with the 40,000 + attendees and millions of viewers on television that they have what it says they have. One might expect that pastor to open his Bible and preach from it with authority and knowledge and actually point out the things they purport to have. But not Osteen. He quotes proof-texts to support what he thinks. And he is very appealing as he makes his points. And as God said to the prophet, "and My people love it so" (Jer. 5:31). That was God speaking to His "chosen people," the Jews. Today He can say that about the visible church.

One might rightly expect a "preacher" to quote the Bible frequently during his "sermons" or "talks," but not Osteen. His talks and his theology are based on the "I think" method of hermeneutics, not "thus saith the Lord." For an example of this go here. Osteen is absolutely clueless as to what comprises expository preaching.

It is clear that millions of American church-goers and the unchurched as well look to Osteen for the final word on whatever he might talk about. Oprah certainly prefers his word over God's word. The ladies on The View do as well.

Millions give the response that an acquaintance gave me one morning when we were discussing the false religion of Islam and another issue. When I explained from the word of God that Islam is of the "spirit of the antichrist" and said "that's what the Bible says," he replied, "Then I don't believe the Bible." This man is a church-goer, attending a church that is a part of a liberal denomination that debates the exclusivity of Jesus Christ as well as His deity. Literally millions of professing Christians openly deny the Bible's veracity.

Osteen's popularity with the mainstream media stems from his spineless theology and his willingness to compromise the word of God. He is a fool being manipulated by other fools and his desperate need for the approval of man.