Will the Real Christians Please Stand Up?

This is different than probably anything I have ever written. I have wanted my writings to be a means of encouragement to those who are struggling or who need a pick-me-up. I do believe, however, that God laid this on my heart so I hope you will bear with me for this very solemn post. I am sure most of you have heard about what is happening over in Iraq; however, if you can’t handle the details, feel free to skip to the second paragraph.

I have read a couple short articles on the atrocity that has been happening in Iraq the past few days. I didn’t read more than that because, honestly, I can’t handle it. My heart is breaking for those people, however, as I pray for their strength and comfort. Many watched their children beheaded or cut in two. They had to flee their homes which have now been taken over by this terrorist group. I am reminded that Christian persecution has not ended. For a while, it has been out of sight and out of mind, but I am endeavoring to begin praying for the persecuted church like never before.

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Here in America, we have had it so easy. Any persecution we have faced has been really minor compared to what our Brothers and Sisters in many other countries have experienced. I am grateful for this but I don’t believe this freedom will last forever. We very well may live to see the day when our lives are in danger as well. If this doesn’t happen in my lifetime, my children and grandchildren may see that day. Would I stand firm as so many martyrs have done and boldly declare that Jesus is my Lord? The Sunday School answer is, “Yes!” I know that’s easier said than done though. I think I would probably have the boldness to die for Christ but what about being tortured day in and day out for months on end? Or what about seeing my children tortured in front of my eyes? Is my faith and devotion to Christ strong enough to withstand those things?

I am not trying to scare anyone. Life is plenty scary and uncertain without me adding to that. But I do want to tell you that this is the time to choose who you will serve. This is the time to get as close to God as you can without any compromise. If you are not fully surrendered to Him now and willing to do whatever He asks of you, you will not be instantaneously willing to suffer for Him when that day comes. Second Timothy 3:12 tells us that “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” It’s not a matter of “if”; it’s a matter of when and to what degree. The call is still the same, however. “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13).

I am challenging myself as I challenge all of you. Whether you agree with me or not that America will see immense persecution, I hope you will at least agree that this is a wake-up call. Christians in other countries are being massacred while we live a life of extreme ease. If this doesn’t break your heart, it is way too hard. We do not live here because we are special. We have been the recipients of God’s gracious mercy. Every day that we wake up, we should be rejoicing and asking God how we can best serve Him with the time that He gives us on this earth. God told the lukewarm Church in Laodicea that He would spit them out of His mouth. I can’t imagine anything more dreadful.

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God, give me a renewed determination to live for You wholeheartedly. Remind me daily to pray for my Brothers and Sisters who are being persecuted for Your name’s sake. Fill me with the fire of Your Holy Spirit so that I do not become lukewarm or mediocre. Continue the work that You’ve begun because You are faithful! And please give comfort and a special grace to Your people in Iraq who have lost their homes and seen friends and family members brutally murdered. No one could get through that with You. Let them feel Your presence in the midst of their grief more than ever before.

Superman Goes to Church?

Yesterday evening, I posted this on my Facebook wall. No, this was not some off the wall church, but a long-established church considered well within the realms of evangelicalism. Some preachers of old came from this particular denomination and would probably roll over in their graves if they knew what was being spoon-fed to gullible sheep.

“Well that church visit was a one-timer only! We knew we were in for a treat when the sermon notes had a picture of Clark Kent / Christopher Reeves with a big Cross in place of the “S” on his chest. The sermon title says it all, “Super Christian, A Fat Woman, and an Old Camera.” Wow, two hours of our lives we will never get back.

During the message inspirational talk, the first large chunk of the time was taken up trying to get the hearer to see how they relate to the Superman of the movies. Basically, we each have our Kryptonite and the reality is that we are far from being SuperChristian. However, if we work hard, in 5 years, we can become closer to the SuperChristian ideal than we are today. It only takes a desire on our part to use our willpower to change.

Here were a couple of quotes from the person who was tasked with delivering the whole truth of Scripture, but failed miserably:

“Love is the most powerful change agent in our lives. So we must love God and love ourselves. The change process includes asking Him to be your Lord and GIVE Him authority for what you become in the future.”

Shades of Joel Osteen. How much biblical knowledge does a person have to unlearn in order to spout these kinds of comments to a listening congregation? Even worse, how shallow does a believer have to be in order to accept these comments from the pulpit?

Let us clarify a few things here. 1) Yes, love is important and is the greatest of faith, hope, and love. However, for believer and unbeliever alike, only God can be the most powerful change agent in our lives. An unbeliever cannot truly love with a biblical love unless he or she is completely and powerfully changed by the God of the universe. For the believer, we are called to renew our minds and to die to self daily, not to love ourselves.

This kind of thinking quickly devolves into the false teaching that we must forgive ourselves and there are even churches that are teaching that in order to move forward in our lives, that we must learn to forgive God as well. This is blasphemy. God has nothing for which He can be forgiven. Only a sinful creature needs to be forgiven, and this comes from God for our wickedness against His holiness.

Here is another quote –

“God loves you just how you are and will love you completely EVEN if you never change.”

Excuse me while I get sick. My stomach should be ok in a few days, but my head will struggle for awhile. This is absolute drivel to coin a good Greek word. Is it true that God loves each of us? First, John 3:16 makes it clear that God loved the world that He gave the ultimate gift of His Only Begotten Son. However, in that same passage, Jesus continued and said in verse 36 that for those who do not believe that the wrath of God abides on them even now. God hates sin. God detests sin. God loathes sin.

This is the problem with much of evangelicalism. It wants to focus so much on the love to the complete, or almost complete, exclusion of the wrath of God. God is equally a God of love and a God of wrath. If there was no wrath, there could be no love exhibited. God had to hate sin infinitely in order to love infinitely.

Further, this last quote smacks of a complete misunderstanding of Biblical truths, and here is why. 1) God does NOT love you just how you are for you and I were once dead in trespasses and sins. The wrath of God bore down upon our heads and we were bound for destruction. God could not place His love upon that which rises in ultimate rebellion against His holiness because He accepts you the way you are. No, no, NO! If God loves you the way you are, then there would have been no need for Jesus Christ to have become the ultimate sacrifice.

2 Corinthians 5:17 makes this abundantly clear. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

God will be glorified in all things and one day, every knee will bow down before Jesus Christ. This will be true of those in heaven, or earth, or in hell. However, the Bible is clear that when God sets His love upon you and redeems you from the slave market of sin that you WILL NOT remain the same. You CANNOT be the same person and choose to abide in your sin with no discipline or correction.

If there has never been a change or if you never change, the wrath of God will remain upon you and one day, in the pits of hell, you will find yourself cursing God with all of your being.

If you are a true believer, then you will not be able to keep from changing anymore than a baby can by willpower choose to remain an infant.

So, while the sheeple were being entertained, the Holy Spirit must have been grieved. The music and announcement time comprised right at 60 minutes of the total service time. Many swayed and clapped with the music driven by the band at the front, but few sang. People laughed at the jokes and little anecdotes, and I presume they went away feeling like they had accomplished something special by filling in the Church/God box of their lives for another week. Yet, there was no change.

It was a very sad commentary on what happens when the pulpit gets away from the Bible as the standard, and a very sad commentary on what happens when the people in the pew have no clue whether what is being said is actually in the Bible or not. We were grieved at the realization that here was another full church full of people who had no clue what it means to biblically worship a holy, righteous God.

Superman is not real, but God is real. Superman does not belong in church, but God does (Rev. 3:20). Our God came into the world to save sinners and to change them. He doesn’t turn us into SuperChristian, but His Holy Spirit guides us into all truth so that we become more like an image of the Lord Jesus Christ.

How Much Do You Love Christ?

Oh Father, may you reawaken the first love we had for Christ when we were rescued from the pit of hell and from having to undergo Your wrath. May our hearts be overwhelmed with Jesus Christ so that there is nothing that will ever be first above Him.

Christ does not want prominence (first among many), He demands that preeminence. He must be the first and only one we worship.

Carnal Means to Attract Carnal People

Paul Washer speaks poignantly and directly to both pastors and church members. The Bride of Christ needs to wake up and remove those from their midst who keep them from following Christ. If you are following a church leadership that hates the true gospel of the Lord Jesus, you would be better to have a millstone tied around your neck and thrown into the sea then to sit under such teaching and leadership that is bound to the works of the flesh. Such a leadership is not honoring to Christ. If you know the truth and ignore it, you will be held accountable for what you know.