Dead Soldier’s Victory

February 28, 2013


No soldier goes to war desiring to die for his country.  He desires that the other soldier die for his country.  He wins the war by coming home to march in the victory parade passing by those he loves and loves him.

In the Lord’s army, the soldier must be dead to win.  He must first come to Christ’s Cross for salvation where the old man dies and he becomes a new creation thus inducted into Christ’s army.  Then he must take his cross and die daily to win life’s battles though Christ has won the war.  He can only live a life of victory as a dead man for then Christ can bring him to a new level of life through impartation of His resurrection power.

In losing his life he gains it and walks in victory until his last breath when he enters into eternity to march in the victory parade where he will pass in review before his beloved Commander-In-Chief who loved him enough to die for him.  Yea, O death where is thy victory?  It is dashed into bits by the Captain of the Hosts and the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!   Alleluia!  Maranatha!

Mars Hill Christians

February 28, 2013


Acts 17:19-21

19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?
20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.
21(For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) KJV

I am convinced that much of what is called the Evangelical Church are modern Athenians. I cannot even keep up with all the new things crop because Christians are apparently bored with the manna God has given them and must seek leeks and garlic to be happy.

The abuse of the gifts is nothing new as Corinth had a corner on that fiasco. Now we must find some new program, fad or buzz word to stimulate the growth of the Church. Really? I don’t see things like purpose driven, seeker, emerging, radical or missional programs in the Word. The Christians were doing the seeking as they went into the world, not figuring out how to make Church a Burger King where folks can have it their way.

Indeed, what really stimulated the Church was more often than not martyrdom. Don’t see anyone suggesting 40 days of martyrdom, emerging martyrdom or even missional martyrdom though many of our brethren around the world are participating in martyrdom without a brand or mission statement. Certainly without all the digital paraphernalia and dramatics we have. Indeed some have been branded with the marks of Christ and Paul, but they are not wearing the latest t-shirt with a logo or a wristband saying, Martyrdom Now! or DyingforChrist.org.

It is amazing how the Church grew so well in the fist century with no mass media to podcast and youtube or praise bands to follow around. There was no pre-campaign sweeps of the neighborhood or full page ads in The Daily Scroll or Athens Weekly.

One lady once told me that it was hard to go to a church where nothing was going on. Hmm, we had prayer, singing, preaching. outreach local and abroad and sometimes meals together. The ordinances were being offered and practiced. That is pretty much all they had in the 1st Century, I am not picking on her for she is a product of the times, I know what she meant, but it really is not what Church is to be.

There were no marriage retreats, 12 step programs, yoga, weight loss classes, Mother’s Day out, etc. etc. They met together to eat everyday and prayed until power came upon them and at times endured an Apostle preaching to midnight after having put in a normal 12 hour day. We want their power from maybe one hour a week with 45 minutes of music and a 15 minute message so we can get to Luby’s on time or make it home before game time. Fat chance of that happening.

You’ve seen the bumper stickers that say, “Life is ____! Everything else is details.” That is the problem. Paul said, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” When we get to life is Christ and the rest is details we might start to see something happen in the Church in spite of our buzz words and new things.

We don’t need to try and model their format. My DIL told me of a church that does house church most of the time and corporate worship according to their philosophy. That was not what made the Church grow, That format is not sacred any more than meeting in multi-million dollar buildings that will be gone in an instant when this world is burned up. Bad stewardship is never good, but no style is the key to winning souls.

New colleges spring up all the time and everyone has a new slant on one doctrine or another and yet it is usually just a change of clothes for an old teaching be it true or false.

We love education to the point of near idolatry and we snub people who did not go to our school or have our advanced degree much like James warned about greeting the rich person and shoving the poor man to a corner in the room so the rich man can be front row center. Yet, the bulk of men chosen by Christ never finished high school and many of the churches in the West were founded by men with eighth grade educations because the highly trained men wanted the plush parishes and popular pulpits. That may also be part of our bane and blame for a palsied church.

If you really want to see a 1st Century church then grasp the 1st Century spirit. Let’s get back to a daily meeting, not because the form is powerful but because the commitment to the next life is powerful. Daily fellowshipping in prayer would keep the brain trained and focused on the main thing. Daily study of the Word and exhortation would also do the same.

Not punching the clock in church would be something! We sit for hours at ball games, theaters, etc. but demand God to meed our need in a 15-30 minute session 1-3 times a week. Four if you make it to Sunday School. Discipleship or whatever you call it. Imagine everyone showing up at 6 for supper and into the auditorium at 7 and staying until 10 or midnight. It would cut down on the idle hands are the devil’s workshop as there would be less time for most of the stuff we do that doesn’t profit much for here or the next life. Saturday would be the church wide outreach.

What no church sports leagues? When would I play golf or fill in the blank. Well, they did not have that stuff, remember? All they had was time to do was pray, learn, witness, care for one another and die for Jesus? Hmm, I guess that is real radical Christianity. Ah, but it is not a new idea so the Athenians would not go for it. Wait! It is a new idea for this age so wrap it in a pretty cover, change a few words to modernize it and make up some buzz words. A good CEO, I mean Pastor, might be able to sell it. Get the Pastor of Assimilation to buy into it and it is a winner!

Sounds like a cult to us doesn’t it. If i tried to get a church to do this they would boot me to the curb in a heartbeat, but if I suggested we all start wearing glitter to look like the Twilight Vampires and only have night services lit by candles with Elvira wannabes as ushers I would probably pastor a church of thousands.

2 Tim 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
KJV

I once though this only referred to the cults who deny the deity Jesus or the deity of the the Holy Spirit and the apostate denominations, but I fear it describes far too many Church groups in America. We have lots of form, pomp and circumstance but lack the power because we deny that is what we are lacking. We just some new thing to stimulate the believer and unbeliever alike.

1 Cor 9:16-17

16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. KJV

Acts 20:22-24

22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:
23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.
24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. KJV

Phil 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. KJV

Until we get men like the Apostle Paul and others who speak and live the life Paul speaks of in these closing verses we will never have more than form for such power in the life comes not from conferences, degrees, programs or buzz words. It can only come from the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and Christ living in us. May we get there before the Rapture we so joyfully await becomes a day of regret and despair as we stand before the Bema and watch our lives we thought were bring precious jewels to becomes a bonfire to make a Aggie jealous! Maranatha

The L Card

February 26, 2013


Heard a preacher today say that the only ones who use the term legalist are the ones under conviction. No, he was not a fighting Fundie. He was a non-denom. I had that handle laid on me many times over the years by people who did not know what it really meant. I had just hit on a problem they had even though I did not know it at the time. When you preach on every sin but theirs you are bold and taking a stand. When you hit them then you are a legalist.

In fact, legalist is like the race card.  Whenever you are losing a theological debate or cannot justify your actions you just drop the L card and the person is supposed to realize their ignorance and spiritual bigotry and shut up no matter how many verses or facts they have amassed.  They obviously lack love and grace and should be snubbed as the Pharisee they are though that is not very fair, you see.

Paul would be a legalist by today’s use of the Word as he would tick off a whole bevy of TV and radio preachers with these words.

1 Tim 6:3-6

3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.  KJV

Yet. Peter backs Paul up and says what is going on with those who discount or disrespect Paul’s teachings.

2 Peter 3:14-18

14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. KJV

Here is a description of a real legalist according to the Word.

Acts 15:1-2
15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. KJV

Trying to mix grace with Law or making anything but faith and faith alone the Gospel is the legalism Paul fought against in his epistles.  It was not standards or the lack of them.  It was making works a part of your salvation be it by adding the law of Moses or some ritual or doctrine of man.  THAT hammers and labels a lot of groups and preachers.

While standards are a good thing and needful to a degree, especially in the early development of a Christian, they do not save nor even sanctify as a Christian is sanctified when he/she is saved by faith in the work of Christ.  You will never be more sanctified than the day you are saved.  You mature in your faith and learn to discern good from evil, which sound doctrine aids, but you are once for all saved and sanctified no matter if you mature or stay a child in the faith.  That is because it is all of Christ did about our sin, not about what we do about our sins.  Rewards and fellowship are lost depending on our actions but the gifts and callings of God are without repentance in that once He gives He does not change His mind about what He says are eternal issues.  Blessings are temporal and can be given and withdrawn if we do not seek to walk in His will.  We can even be called home early if we choose to stay in willful rebellion, but we will go home.  In disgrace, yes.  Why? Because of His grace and work which can never be disgraced.

Most of the things people call someone a legalist for are things that are fleshly or earthly. The early Christians struggled with how they should be separate from the World and yet live in the freedom that grace brings especially Jews, but also the Gentiles who were never under the Law.  Paul said that all things are lawful, but not all things are profitable and that we should never cause a weaker brother to stumble and not to please ourselves just as Christ did not please Himself.

Yet, many Christians think that there is very little responsibility in the Christian life thinking it is like the Outback commercials where there are “no rules, just right.”  Yet, if you read the epistles there are many rules given to Christians including rules about the gifts and how they are to be practiced in the assembly.  Indeed, some things are more strict than the Law.  One had to physically commit adultery to be guilty.  Now, you only have to think about it.

If I do not drink, I don’t have to worry about getting drunk or offending a brother and no one dies.  If I do, even if it is lawful, I run the risk of being under the influence.  The ancient Chinese said that first the man takes a drink, then the drink takes a drink and then the drink takes the man.  I will offend many brethren who believe we should not drink and someone may die if I drive while under the influence.

My liberty is wrapped up or bound by my brother for I am never to cause him to stumble and be condemned by what I allow the Word says.  What I disallow in an attempt to be separate is not condemned unless I try to make it a part of salvation or say that it enhances my sanctification.  If I must err, is it not better to err on the side of caution?  Why walk a narrow line between liberty and sin?  Why risk damaging or destroying my brother with my liberty? Indeed, why let the Lost mock me for doing things they think are sin though I may be free to do it and thus give them another excuse to refuse salvation when no one dies if I don’t do it?

Indeed, much of what we debate over will not matter at all in eternity.  It is more about what we like here or what makes us comfortable.  Christians before our age used to ask what they could give up for Jesus and we want to know how much we can get by with and still get God’s blessings.  We all err, but most would rather err on the side of their perspective rather than caution and the weaker brother needs to grow up or shut up.  Frankly, I just cannot see that attitude in the Word.

In the end, we must all stand before the Bema and if I missed out on something because I chose to deny myself that activity or whatever because I did not want to risk it being sin or hurting a brother I am sure that what God will give me in return will far outweigh whatever temporal pleasure I might have experienced and what He gives will be eternal.  I would say that is a fairly awesome trade.

On the other hand, if I live my liberty to the fullest and get there and find out I was wrong and it is a sin then there goes a lot of wood, hay and stubble up in flames.  If I get there and the action or attitude was not wrong but I did not care what it did to my brother/sister it will still be wood, hay and stubble and I will be kicking my own butt as I see what rewards I lost.

So before you drop the L card, know what it really means and ask yourself if what you are all het up about really is a liberty in Christ or a sin you are trying to justify.  If it is not a sin and you can give a fair defense of it from Scripture either by verse or principle ask will I really be depressed or hindered if I don’t exercise that liberty?  Will I truly offend and cause someone to stumble?  What if I am able to have a glass of whatever at a formal dinner yet Billy Bob sees me and is emboldened to try it and gets hooked or just gets drunk and dies in a car accident because he looked up to me as an example?  Is it worth it?

Ladies, is the fashion you are wearing worth it if it angers your spouse or children because they feel it is is inappropriate?  You know that unbelieving men will lust after you, but what if you cause a man or even a pubescent boy who is trying to be pure to lust when you sashay down the street or aisle in church?  Will how you sit in that outfit be a pure sight for the pastor or the men in the choir to see as they scan the congregation?  Is it really worth the risks to be in style?  What if your daughter goes you one better or you let her dress in a way that arouses her boyfriend and even her as she is feeling sexy instead of like a chaste young lady?  Is it worth the risk?

I can hear the L word being thought and even said out loud as I type this for I know many will have a cow over this especially that last part.  Modesty is considered just being covered as long as it is not in Saran wrap though the fit may be the same but the material is dyed.   You don’t mess with a fat man’s food or a lady’s fashion.  😉   One other point while I am there.  When your daughter wants to pierce various parts of her body both visible and normally invisible what will you say if you pierced ears?  Just remember all you are really debating is location and the amount of piercings. The OT will not help you.

Yes, you are free to seek holiness and righteousness and not all things are profitable to those goals.  Are you sure the brother is a Legalist and you are not a Libertine?  Both are L words and should be used correctly.

I am a preacher and pastor so I am required to do and say some things and if that makes me a legalist in the eyes of some, so be it. Let me exhort you in love, my brethren, that while I am not a legalist in the accurate definition of the word please take care in that while you are flinging the L word around you do not become the people in verses three and four of my closing passage.

2 Tim 4:1-4
:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. KJV

Maranatha!

All Roads Lead To God?

February 24, 2013


Eccl 12:5-7

5 Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:
6 Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.
7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.  KJV

The spirit returns to the God who made it, but then He decides what to do with it; keep it or put it in Hell. All roads lead to God, but not all lead to the Father’s house. The only door to it is Jesus.


Radio preacher asked the question “If you were to die, outside of your immediate family would your influence be missed?” Hmm, rough question. I suppose I would have to honestly say no as I am not famous. Some of my co-workers would miss my humor and some would not, but I would be quickly and easily replaced and soon forgotten. 😉 Some folks in my church would miss me and some of my former church members would miss me for awhile, but life would go on. You wouldn’t see my funeral on TV. It would just be a burp in the local news.

I could be surprised when I get to glory and find I have had a greater impact then I know, but I wonder whether it would be a positive or negative one. Not being perfect, and far from it, more people may have seen me or heard me in my worst moments than in my best. Will my life have caused some folks to be saved and follow Christ or turn away from salvation or give up their walk/ministry?

Scary thought this is and by God’s grace I hope I have some time to maybe move the scale to the positive side. To think someone may have gone or will go to Hell because of my testimony or rather lack of one is a horrible thought. Yes, they had free will, but I may have been a stumbling block on which they fell instead of a helping hand leading them the the Cross. Deep thoughts they are. How about you? What impact for God have you made or have you been a stumbling block or sitting on the bench waiting for the Glory bound train

The Main Attraction

February 19, 2013


The problem with the seeker church movement is that they seek to make Jesus attractive to the unbeliever and culture.  That is not our job.  He is the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valley who promised to draw all men to Him when He was lifted up.  You cannot add to that attraction.  Our job is to do all we can to keep our flesh from blocking their view to Him and removing satanic blinders and fleshly motes or beams from their eyes by sound doctrine that they might behold Him.  Once they behold Him the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory or grace or they will reject Him thus choosing the ugliness of satan and the love of this present world.   

There is nothing that we can do to make Jesus more attractive.  Too often all those efforts produce are distractions focusing those who need to see Him on those programs and fads that will not profit them eternally.   The intent or thought may be sincere but our thoughts and ways are not His for they are higher.  Let is choose those and just get out of the way allowing Him to do as He pleases through us.   The Greeks asked to see Jesus, not the coffee bar or the band.  Hide behind His Cross and He will do the rest.   He should always be the main attraction.