Replacing Easter

What is society afraid of?

What is Christianity afraid of?

What are you afraid of?

Society is afraid of the truth. Christianity is afraid of being offensive. As for what you are afraid of, that is something only you can answer. My goal is that this post will have you thinking about why you do what you do.

Easter is a great time to bring this subject matter to light. Let me explain. For almost 40 days, many have been practicing the idea of “Lent.” They have no clue why they do it except that it is part of their religion. Many have not a single thought about God, but want to make sure that they cover all the bases just in case. They will live like the world every single day, except for a special day or two in the entire calendar so their “God” box will be checked. This leaves them feeling good about themselves so they can have a sense of being a “Christian.” Yet, the heart condemns those who think they can please God by pleasing themselves.

For years, I have worked with many people who can live, talk, and act like a minion of the evil one every single day. Yet, in one swift moment, as soon as they find out that you are a believer, they can and will proclaim, “Oh, I am a Christian.” The follow-up questions are quickly followed by silence until it grows awkward and the person soon finds something else with which to occupy their time. Or, in the better scenarios, you hear the response of, “Well, that is private and is just between me and the Man upstairs. Besides, who are you to judge me? The Bible says, “Don’t judge!”

What types of questions might we ask of any individual with whom we may meet? This could be another family member, a friend, a neighbor, or a work colleague.

“Where do you attend church? Where are you in fellowship each week with other believers seeking to remind the world that we are not of this world, but that we are just passing through?”

“What about your relationships? Are you married or just living in a way that goes contrary to the Word of God? Why would you want to be living with somebody who does not share your views, if you are a true believer?”

“Do your words and actions reflect that you are different, or do you strive to be just like those around you? Would your Sunday appearance give forth the reflection of a hypocrite, or a genuine believer longing to be more like Jesus Christ despite the difficulties of living a life of holiness?”

Despite the awkward silence or vocal calls about not judging, Easter and Christmas find more people claiming the name of Christ than any other time of the year. They are willing to give up things for Lent, but not for Christ. Far too many think that they are meriting favor or grace with God by giving up chocolate, meat, intimacy, or whatever.

When the forty days of Lent arrives, people flock to services for Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, or Easter Morning service never to be seen again til Christmas. Yet, for all the fasting or giving up of things, nothing has changed in their lives. They produce the same cursing, same vulgarity, same illicit relationships, and not one thing to indicate that they have actually spent time with Jesus Christ and are a new creation.

As for society, just look at our workplaces. Lies, deceit, and dishonesty rules the day. Few are willing to take a stand, and when something is said as a reminder, those speaking up are quickly removed. What does this have to do with Easter time? Simply this. These same practices and philosophies have moved from universally being accepted as part of the workplace to being fully accepted in the circles of so-called Christianity.

Let me be very blunt!

Easter is NOT about a bunny that lays eggs!

Easter is NOT about furry chicken that lays candy!

Easter is NOT about egg hunts, bouncy castles, and clowns on a Sunday.

Easter is supposedly to revolve around the holy Person of Jesus Christ. The reminder of the week prior to the Sunday should be a solemn reminder of the price that was carried on the cross. The wrath of God the Father was poured upon His only begotten Son because of the sins of mankind. It pleased the Father to bruise and crush His own Son because of the cursing, the vulgarity, the illicit relationships, and all sin that separates us from a holy God.

Christianity has allowed society to tell us that Easter has nothing to do with Jesus Christ. We are not allowed to speak of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on Calvary, but we can speak the religion of secularism and commercialism all day long. Nobody has one single problem with that. The world and the church have now merged in such a way that it is almost impossible in most circles to know where one starts and one ends.

If you are a true believer and have placed your faith in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation, then this next section is a solemn reminder and exhortation to you and your family.

This coming Sunday, we will have the privilege of celebrating the most glorious even that has ever transpired in all of human history. Nothing can top what took place almost 2000 years ago. Let me summarize what this Sunday SHOULD mean to you.

1. He laid aside His glory as the all-powerful majestic King of all Creation and came down to this sin-cursed earth.
2. He was born in a lowly stable showing the stark opposite of what He had enjoyed for all of eternity past.
3. He was welcomed by magi as well as lowly shepherds who guarded the lambs that would be sacrificed each Passover.
4. He grew in wisdom and stature and lived in obedience to the commands of both His earthly parents and the will of His heavenly Father.
5. He spent 3 ½ years walking the dusty roads of Galilee, Judea, and Samaria preaching the kingdom of heaven.
6. He was betrayed and abandoned by every one of His disciples.
7. He, the King of all Creation, was beaten, mocked, scourged into a bloody mess, and then hung between earth and heaven.
8. He bore upon Himself our sins and was ultimately forsaken even by His own Father in heaven because God the Father could not stand to look upon sin.
9. He became sin on our behalf and became clothed with our filth so that we would be clothed in His righteousness.
10. He died and was buried like a common criminal in a borrowed tomb.

But Sunday was coming!

There should be no doubt that the disciples had contacted the local businesses to ensure that bouncy castles were set up outside the tomb to celebrate what was going to happen. There should also be no doubt that the apostle Peter, having just denied the Lord three times earlier that week, was the instigator in setting up an Easter Egg hunt in order to entice the children of the murderous hordes to come to their service so that they would have greater numbers. There should be no doubt, based on what we see in modern Christianity, that the early New Testament church was prepared with the latest jokes and frivolity after having just seen the King of all Creation die and be buried.

Dear brothers and sisters, do you see the hypocrisy in the above statements? If it does not bother you to see the entertainment on any given Sunday in church, then it is time to examine your heart to see whether you are truly of the faith. If the only thing you can think of is, “Well, what you say may be true, but the Bible says not to judge,” then you have failed miserably to comprehend the solemnness and the seriousness of what this Sunday is all about. If you think that Easter is about the bunny and candy eggs, then your pastor and church have failed in their responsibility to teach you the truth of the gospel.

Easter is NOT about you and your perceived needs!

Easter is about the conclusion of the worst week in the history of mankind!
Easter is about the reality of the sacrifice that Christ made on Calvary!
Easter is about the truth Christ came to save sinners, of whom I am chief!
Easter is about the defeat of sin, hell, Satan, and the grave!
Easter is about Resurrection Sunday!
Easter is about Jesus Christ coming back to life victoriously!
Easter is about Jesus Christ one day coming for all who believe on Him!
Easter is about change and becoming a new creation in Christ!

Today, you have a choice. You can choose to continue replacing Easter with the world, or you can stop setting your affections on the things of this world, and setting your affections on the things of heaven.

My purpose is not to judge the world with my words. My thoughts are to be a beacon in the wilderness shining a light that points others to Jesus Christ, and not to Mark Escalera. My desire is to be a gentle reminder that true believers are called to be different, not the same as the world.

We are NOT replacing Easter in our home, but we will joyfully, reverently, and humbly celebrate –

Resurrection Sunday!

He is risen! He is risen indeed! Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Be Faithful

Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find? The righteous who walks in his integrity—blessed are his children after him!   ~Proverbs 20:6-7.

When I was a child, I was amazed at how many adults did not keep their word. They would promise, “One day, I’ll _________” but, alas, that day never came, and I would be disappointed.

When I was a teenager, my mom hired a man to tune our piano. I enjoyed watching him, and he talked to me as he worked. In the course of conversation, I mentioned that I like southern gospel music. He told me he would take me to a concert sometime. At that time, I’d lived long enough to know people often said things they didn’t mean so I didn’t figure I would ever see him again. A short time later, however, he called and asked if he could take my brother and me to a concert. This was over 25 years ago, and I still remember his kindness. He could have gone to the concert by himself, and I would never know, and I probably wouldn’t remember him but he took time to honor his word, which still blesses me today.

promise

It is sad to me how many young people walk away from the Lord or never embrace Christianity, even when they have grown up in church and in Godly homes. I’ve fought to understand why, in order to be able to stop this trend. I believe a big reason for this is due to the hypocrisy they see in their parents and others in the Church. I know this is not the only reason an adult child will rebel but I expect it is the case in many situations. Young people pick up on whether people are real or phony, honest or crafty.

Even as an adult, I want to surround myself with people I can trust. I get so tired of dishonesty, backbiting, double lives, etc. I pray often that God will help me to be faithful. I want to be dependable, loyal, and trustworthy. I want to be faithful to point others to the Lord, not only in word but also by example. I believe if the world saw more faithfulness in God’s people, they would desire to know this God as well.

Preaching Without Speaking

Preaching Without Speaking

Imagine reaching thousands upon thousands of people and almost never having to open your mouth. Sounds impossible doesn’t it? Other than the fact that millions of professing believers think they can actually accomplish this kind of thing by just living a Christian lifestyle among the lost, there is truly a way which you can do this. Gospel tracts.

Passing out gospel tracts is the only true lifestyle evangelism that can reach the lost without necessarily saying anything. Of course, this may not always be the case. There will be conversations started based upon the curiosity of those that take some of the tracts that are passed out. But isn’t that the goal of lifestyle evangelism? Projecting the life of Christ so that people ask you what makes you different? Well, gospel tracts will most certainly do that! But the best part is, if you are unsure, fearful, not eloquent, or just don’t know where to begin in your evangelistic endeavors, gospel tracts are not just a great starting point, but a formidable weapon in the Christian artillery that can be carried around until we enter in the joy of the Lord.

I cannot express how many times someone has told me they cannot be a regular, consistent, and purposeful witness simply because they wouldn’t know what to say, or because of their perceived lack of ability. They prefer to let their “light shine” so that their good works will glorify God among the heathen. When I introduce the fact that gospel tracts can help them overcome those fears and apparent lack, I am met with a resounding, “No thanks,” or with other terrible excuses as to why they cannot pass out a simple piece of gospel literature. It astounds me with the amount of timid excuses people make concerning why they “cannot” reach the lost, you’d think that passing out tracts would be going out of style!

When it comes to the idea of lifestyle evangelism, if you really want your light to shine before men, pass out gospel tracts! It is a dynamic way to fulfill what you’re hoping to accomplish if speaking a word about the gospel is hard for you. Most of the time, you’d be surprised how much of your lifestyle is of no concern to the unbeliever. That is until you hand them a gospel tract. If I am suspecting correctly, some of us may want to develop the relationship first so that we can reach them more intimately. Perhaps even serving them so as to open doors for the gospel. Nothing wrong with service and friendship. But if you really want them to see Christ in you, tracts will definitely make that happen at lightening speed. Folks may not chase you down, but you will get the gospel to them, which subliminally is our professed purpose for living our lives before the lost anyway, isn’t it?

If you want to know what it would be like to preach to thousands of people without saying a word, pass out tracts. If you want your light to shine to that cashier in Walmart, give them a tract after you pay. If you want your waiter to know that you love Christ, leave a generous tip (I MEAN THAT), and leave a gospel tract. If you want your co-workers to know you love Jesus, ask them for their address, send them a gift, and put a gospel tract with it. This goes for your family, friends, and any one else you want to see Christ in you, the hope of glory!

It’s not a problem that gospel tracts may not be your “thing.” But if you don’t choose this option and prefer instead to continue in your Christian walk hoping the lost will recognize something in you about Christ, and you choose never to regularly, constantly, and purposefully communicate the gospel toward, family, friends, co-workers, and strangers, then you are a hypocrite and are being apocitic. You’re not practicing lifestyle evangelism, but lifestyle hypocrisy. God has graced us with an amazing gift – eternal life. He’s given us minds to comprehend the gospel, and mouths to tell it. Since that is not enough for some of us, He has given us the printing press by which we can order tracts by the box full. If that doesn’t tickle our fancy, and we are somewhat literate, we have pen and paper at home by which we can use to spread the gospel in our writing if we don’t like the print of others. Regardless of the mode, true lifestyle evangelism is worked out through a Christian not just living out the commandants of our Lord, but teaching others to do the same (Matt 28:20). If it is still too much for you to at least give someone something that can preach the gospel for you if you feel like you are unable, then cast your Christian profession aside and embrace your title as an unbeliever.

“If Jesus is precious to you, you will not be able to keep your good news to yourself; you will be whispering it into your child’s ear; you will be telling it to your husband; you will be earnestly imparting it to your friend; without the charms of eloquence you will be more than eloquent; your heart will speak, and your eyes will flash as you talk of his sweet love. Every Christian here is either a missionary or an impostor. Recollect that. You either try to spread abroad the kingdom of Christ, or else you do not love him at all. It cannot be that there is a high appreciation of Jesus and a totally silent tongue about him. Of course I do not mean by that, that those who use the pen are silent: they are not. And those who help others to use the tongue, or spread that which others have written, are doing their part well: but that man who says, “I believe in Jesus,” but does not think enough of Jesus ever to tell another about him, by mouth, or pen, or tract, is an impostor”   

– Charles Spurgeon, Sword and Trowl March 1837

– Until we go home

Verbal Pornography

We live in a dangerous age. Wrong is now right and fully acceptable in the eyes of a sick, sin-darkened world. What is even worse is that the church has often sought to fully endorse the Corinthian and Laodicean attitudes of this amoral society. America is no longer a post-modern society, but a society where morals are what you decide to make them.

For example, I know some who claim the name of Christ who believe that it is acceptable for homosexuals to sin all they want provided they do it behind closed doors and don’t bother anybody else. However, sin and depravity is never enough for those walking apart from God and out of the rebellion of their hearts. The sin that is acceptable today for them will never be enough until it is fully out in the open and others have been ensnared by their depravity.

To say that their sin is ok as long as it is behind closed doors is a dangerous path because once that becomes acceptable, those who prey on others will seek to get others to say that it is acceptable as long as it is behind closed doors. Before long, we have fully endorsed the rank wickedness that destroyed the Roman Empire in which not only was homosexuality accepted but so was the sale of slaves for sexual purposes (any age and gender).

What would never have been acceptable in any polite company when I was growing up in the 70’s is now fully open. It is endorsed by Hollywood by that which enters the eye gates and even Christians are laughing at the smut. We attended a church once that included times of “fellowship” when the men / women would get together for a night out which included “R” rated movies. What kind of picture does this paint for the world who cannot see Christ in us, but only more of themselves?

destroys-relationships

If they even care to check out what is going on, very few parents are complaining about the material that is being forced upon their children to read in public school settings or what is being openly displayed at the local public libraries. There was a time school plays and activities would never have been considered risqué, but those days are long gone and now we find in the news even today that middle schoolers were given a word search game as part of their class activity that was based fully on the smut entitled “50 Shades of Grey.”

Books like “50 Shades” are becoming bestsellers and turned into movies. Men and women are buying this verbal pornography by the millions and then wondering why their marriages are suffering. It continues the trend set by books like “Twilight” in which a very old 104 year old vampire man preys on a young, innocent teenage girl seeking sex. Seriously?!?!?!

No true father would permit or endorse such behavior in his own home, yet even fathers who claim the name of Christ are permitting their daughters and their wives to fawn over the characters in these books and movies.

Dear sisters in Christ, this type of reading material is no different an impact on your mind than the dangers of visual pornography is to the men and boys in your home. These words are designed and written in a way that does not bring you closer to Christ, nor to your husband. While two wrongs never make a right, you cannot complain about what your husband is watching if you are filling your heart and mind with the same kind of trash he is. You are both wrong before the Lord. It is hypocritical for you to complain that he is cheating on you with a computer screen when you are cheating on him with what you reading on the printed page.

Dear brothers in Christ, we are called to be observant in our homes. We might pride ourselves on not allowing the vulgar, sexually-charged rap music of the world to enter our homes, but we are permitting our wives and young girls to be embraced by that which is not truly a reality. This is sin before God. Their hearts and lives must be guarded jealously or you will lose them. Brothers, it is hypocritical to think that you are justified in not protecting your heart by what you watch if you do not also care what books can be found on your bookshelves. Your wife will NEVER live up to the expectations that the world creates in your heart and mind, and you also will NEVER live up to the expectations of what the world wants to offer your wife through what she reads.

frayedrope

Divorces are taking place on an ever-increasing basis within the church by those who claim the name of Christ. Husbands and wives have filled their heads with trash and then want to claim “irreconcilable differences” on their divorce papers when their spouse does not live up to the torrid expectations of the latest best-selling book on the New York Times list or the latest box-office hit from the pit of Hollywood. If you think the smut and trash of the world is harmless, then you are living life at the bottom end of a frayed rope. You are but one small strand from total destruction.

Pastors and shepherds, we must be willing to address the truth of Scripture and warn the flock of the dangers that are being faced. This does not mean that we need to ride hobbyhorses or only speak about the latest fads. However, it does mean that we must be willing to open our eyes to the wickedness that is desperately seeking to swallow our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We must call out the dangers for what they truly are. It is hypocritical to call out to the Lord to save marriages if we have not warned of the impending doom that we saw taking place in the home and ignored it.

Visual and verbal pornography is seeking to destroy our homes. There is nothing that Satan and his minions must enjoy more than to see those who are true believers being swallowed up by the millions with the filth of the world. The evil one wants to destroy your marriage.

Christian women, he wants you to think that it is acceptable for you to find a release in your life from the “mundane” that you find so tedious. The books and movies that demean your husband and marriage are just as bad and as wicked as what he may be involved with. It is not reality. God will not be mocked. Vampire love stories and sexual bondage novels are a totally depraved and warped destruction of what God has created to be holy. You are tasked with protecting your daughters as well so they can go to their wedding being pure in every way.

i still do

Christian men, you want a wholesome marriage? Stop longing after what is not reality. Stand up and be the kind of man God demands you to be. Be a true man who shows true deference to a lady. Be a godly man who points others to Christ, not detracts from the loveliness of the Savior. Be the father who protects his young boys and girls from the depravity of the world that only wants to destroy them.

Godly marriages are not based on anything Hollywood or the New York Times best-seller list has to offer. They are built day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute on sacrifice, service, and Christ-like love. Your lives will NEVER resemble Hollywood or the best-seller lists because those are far from Christ. Flee from that which will destroy you. Seek forgiveness from the Most High and learn to trust and love again in a way that others can see Christ in you the hope of glory.

Are You Genuine?

I can’t imagine anything worse than being called a hypocrite: “a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, especially one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.” People used to joke about moms who would holler at their children but, when the phone would ring, the tone of voice quickly changed as she answered, “Hello.” I’ve been in ministry for over 25 years, and I remind myself often that, if I am not living what I preach, I should not be preaching.

This does not mean I never have a bad day. I can become frustrated, overwhelmed, stressed, etc. but I work to overcome so I can walk through those times in a way that honors God. When I fail and I know I have grieved my Father, I ask His forgiveness and His help to do better.

I don’t want anyone to ever look at me and see another Christian who has failed. I want them to see that God is real and at work in the lives of His imperfect people. Without Him, I am not a blessing to anyone but, with Him, there is no end to the ways He can use me if I will allow Him to do so.

hypocrite

If you are struggling to live Godly in Christ Jesus, the answer is not to give up. Continue to draw near to God, ask for His help to become the person you know you need to be. If you have been unkind to others, tell them you know you were wrong. It may take them time to forgive you but at least you will be taking the first step to a victorious walk with Christ. Habits are hard to break so you may find yourself repeating the sin you’ve repented of. Every time, as soon as you realize you’ve done it again, go to God and ask His forgiveness and His help to say No to those things. Whether anger, pride, selfishness, lust–whatever the sin–God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I, for one, am very grateful that He is continuing the work that He began in me. May I ever praise Him for it.

Is it NOTHING to YOU?

A popular song written by a godless man named John Lennon includes the following lyrics:

“Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…Imagine”

Tragically for Lennon, he was wrong. Thankfully for those still living, he was wrong.

imaginetrib

There are many who try to imagine there is no heaven and no hell. They think that if they merely use the power of positive thinking that eventually everybody in the world will simply “live for today.” Yet, Lennon wrote in a world where depravity abounds more and more. He wrote of a world that knows war, famine, and disease. His words struck a chord of hope, although a false hope, with millions though and still do today with people who are just living for today. These individuals think that they live in some kind of utopic stupor, and if they only imagine hard enough things will change.

King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:9 that “there is nothing new under the sun.” Less than 350 years later, we find a prophet who is sits weeping and wailing before God facing this same challenge that we see today.

The remaining inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem are living in a utopic stupor. They believe their problems are going to get better. The people approach Jeremiah and even ask him to pray and seek the face of God in Jeremiah 42 on their behalf. Then, they promise him that whatever the Lord says whether good or bad, they will be willing to follow. God speaks with Jeremiah and receives word that destruction and devastation will fall upon the land from the king of Babylon.

Immediately, the people seek forgiveness from God, turn from their wicked ways, and God relents and grants pardon! Praise be to the everlasting God for His abundant mercy! This is the way the story SHOULD have ended.

However, that is NOT what happened. Just one chapter later in Jeremiah 43, they immediately turned on the prophet and called him a liar. They told him and sought to influence others that God would not really send judgment to the land. Their words implicated them in their own sin as they tried to convince themselves that not only did Jeremiah not have a message from God, but that he was not a true messenger. The people’s imaginations were vain and their hearts were hardened.

Now destruction has befallen the land. War has arrived and the land has been besieged and then plundered. The physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of the people left has been destroyed by the wanton rape, murder, and assault by the foreign soldiers of Nebuchadnezzar’s army. Further, Jerusalem is in ruins. The glorious city that graced the hills of Judea, along with the magnificent temple built by Solomon, has been destroyed BECAUSE OF SIN! The sin probably did not even start out very big, but little by little they gave in to the lusts of their heart and God was quickly forgotten.

weeping prophet
Now, Jeremiah weeps and wails his heart-rending laments and cries aloud in Lamentations 1:12 – “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which was brought upon me, which the LORD afflicted on the day of his fierce anger.”

Can you see him sitting with sackcloth covering his body, throwing dust into the air over his head, his eyes swollen red and grotesque in shape, and his entire body racked with sobs as he ponders what has taken place? He is not denying the sin that took place either in his own heart and life, nor the sin that befell the nation of Israel and Judah. He wails because he has lived to see the results of what sin will do if left unchecked and unrestrained and then allowed to continue until judgment falls from God.

He is willing even for strangers to stop and lament with him. He wants somebody, anybody, to mourn and lament with him over the desecration of the temple and of Jerusalem. However, nobody is stopping. They do not care. Destruction arrived and even in the middle of its arrival, there are still some who are living in a dream world just “knowing” that things will get better soon. The problem is that “soon” will not arrive.

In Lamentations 1:10, we hear the prophet’s lament and like Nehemiah who would come approximately 70 years later, we understand part of what his concern is. “The enemy has stretched out his hands over all her precious things; for she has seen the nations enter her sanctuary, those whom you forbade to enter your congregation.”

His heartbreak is real. The glory of God rested upon the Holy of Holies in the Temple. It was such a terrible place to be if you were not the high priest who was allowed to enter just once per year. It was a terrible place even if you were the chosen high priest to go in where you would face God. I can imagine that more than one high priest must have trembled when he entered that sacred realm to offer the blood of the sacrifices as an atonement. Sadly, the trembling had ceased a long time ago. Worship was no longer present, and it was little more than a frivolous atmosphere that greeted those who still bothered to go and give worship and praise to God.

Now, the prophet has watched as foreign troops not only invaded the land, but completely desecrated that which was to remain holy. The soldiers trampled under foot the holy items and the holy place because they had no appreciation for the God that rules over all. Their only concern was in looting whatever they wanted and assaulting whoever they chose.

What a great tragedy that befell Israel, and the messenger of God is as devastated in heart, mind, and soul as the devastation that has even overturned the gates and stones of the city and temple.

Can you see the connection between what took place in Jeremiah’s day and today? Sin abounds more and more. The world is NOT getting better. The true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ cannot imagine a better world in this life because they are fully aware that the only way a better world will come is when the Prince of Peace appears.

But my concern today is not just in reading the laments of Jeremiah over the city. The concern that grows on me daily is that destruction is coming and few seem to really care. I am not concerned about those who belong to Satan and are under his control. My heartache comes from knowing that those who are claiming the name of Christ, those who are supposed to be working to make themselves pure before the return of the Lord, those who are to be different from the world, those who have been made a new creation in Christ Jesus and are clothed with the garments of His righteousness. These are the people to whom I write.

isitnothing

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

The buildings, in which we worship, have been desecrated underfoot by the feet of those who do not belong. God, long ago, laid out the demands for what He expects in worship from His people but these have been ignored.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

Pastors fail to preach truth because they are afraid of what they may lose, and prefer earthly treasures over heavenly ones.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

Leadership teams fail to hold one another accountable based on the standards of Scripture, and instead, seek to govern from business perspectives that are modeled after worldly psychological methods.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

Marriages in our churches are falling apart at the same rate as those in the world. Parents have little respect from their children. Fathers have failed to be spiritual leaders in the church and in their home. Mothers are taking on responsibilities that do not belong to them both in the church and in the home.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

Children are following hard after drugs, alcohol, and premarital sex. They are running away from the church because all they see is hypocrisy. Dad and Mom live during the week something different than what they portray in their once or twice a month church appearance.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

Parents want to come and cry out for prayer that God will bring their children back to the church. Their prayer should be first that God would break their own hearts and seek repentance for their sin and duplicity before God and before their children. Then, God will hear the prayer of the righteous person and may in turn be gracious in His mercy and longsuffering to bring salvation to the children.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

The unsaved are being permitted to become members of local body of believers without ever having made a true profession of faith in Christ Jesus. So, the churches are being taken over by those who care not one bit for the things of Christ. The buildings are filled with people who are man-centered, and not God-centered, and in so doing, they have become little more than social clubs.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

The gospel has been watered down so much that it is no longer recognizable as Scripture. It has become a little feel-good message that seeks to allow into heaven all who do not belong there. The message is so smooth and culturally relevant that myriads gather every Sunday and they are rarely, if ever, convicted over the depravity of their own hearts.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

Entertainment and programs are the order of the day because we are concerned that the goats may leave if they are not made to feel happy or good about themselves. Our worship does not reflect praise of God because we come to hear about God instead of coming to learn from Him and to offer the worship that is due His name alone.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

Our churches care little for true missions because we are rarely concerned about what we cannot see. More times than not, missions has been reduced to feeding the poor, building nice buildings, clothing the ragged, and educated the uneducated. Churches pat themselves on the back for having done something great for God while these same people head straight for hell because many so-called “mission societies and organizations” only preach a social gospel message.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

Prayer is mostly absent, if not, almost extinct. Prayer meetings and Bible studies are often attended by less than 5% of the total membership. And we wonder why there is NO POWER in our gathering together. We talk about it every now and then, but few are willing to give up some comforts in order to see something changed.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

Friends, we need more like Jeremiah who will weep and wail at sin, at the coming destruction, at the reality of hell and judgment from a holy, righteous God, at the sad state of affairs where people wink at sin and refuse to stand for truth, and also because of what is taking over in many parts of evangelical Christianity.

I am tired of worrying about what other people may think of me. My heart is heavy because I am afraid for too long in my Christian life that I have not been concerned enough about what God KNOWS of me.

My challenge with this post is to point out the reality of what is around us. The Scriptures are clear that if we forget God, we will face judgment. We need to get back to a standard that speaks of Holiness to the LORD. We need to pray, repent and confess our sins, turn from our wicked ways, and seek the face of the Almighty God. We need to pray that God does not allow such destruction among His people that somebody in the future will look back and lament about what happened to the church of the living God.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

Parenting – Making an Application – Part 3

Family of FourThe question we need to address now is how this problem of complacency or being hypocritical will look like in the home. Praise the Lord that this is not the case in every home, but these problems are found in many evangelical Christian homes of America. The problems exist because too many have gone too long with too little prayer, too little Bible study, and too little fellowship with other believers who will help hold each other accountable.

Listen to the solemn proclamation from God through the ministry of Hosea. Hosea 4:6 states, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.”

What a solemn verse to consider. The truth is that God is speaking to those who were willfully lacking in their knowledge of the holy. They have rejected the truth of God’s commands and the laws that He gave for them to obey. The awful conclusion is that by forgetting the law of God, He will forget the children that He granted as a heritage to those who keep His ways. We cannot draw any conclusion other than that we have a responsibility to be biblical parents, not just biological ones.

So, where or what exactly is the disconnect between biblical parenting and biological parenting when it comes to life in the average Christian home?

Let’s consider a few thoughts to put our role as parents into perspective and see if what we are doing is striving to be merely a biological parent or a Biblical parent.

While we intend on addressing marriage concerns within the home in another article, I want to begin now with the fathers because God has ordained a certain order even within the home. Fathers, we are called to be leaders in every sense of the word. It is an awesome responsibility and when taken upon our shoulders helps our home to have the correct perspective of who God is and what He requires of us and then of our homes. We will make this simple.

First, I want to share a personal illustration to point out the problem facing the men in our churches. As a young married believer, we were at a July 4th celebration. My wife was sitting with the women and I was speaking with several men, all of whom claimed to be believers.

As we sat there at the park, a woman wearing very little clothing jogged by. Two of the deacons and the pastor were in attendance and after she had passed out of earshot, one of the deacons commented, “Men, just because we can’t touch or eat the candy doesn’t mean we can’t look!” The pastor laughed his own agreement. To say I was stunned would be an understatement. They had broken the law of Christ to love God with all their heart, soul, and mind, and then to love their neighbor as themselves.

Christian men, I want to encourage you to be a testimony to the young boys growing up very quickly. This means that we must be careful what we watch, read, and listen to as well. Things that appeal to the flesh such as violence, vulgarity, and pornography will destroy your soul. You cannot feed on the filth of the world and expect those young boys watching you to have respect for their mothers and sisters.

Fathers, if your time is being invested in the trash Hollywood produces, you will never grow in your faith and you will never be able to keep your mind, heart, and body focused on exalting Jesus Christ. You cannot expect your children to respect your authority if you are not pointing them to Jesus Christ even in what you do for entertainment.

Now to the mothers in the body of Christ, Christian ladies, I want to encourage you to be a testimony to the young girls growing up very quickly. This means you must be careful what you watch, read and listen to. Things like “The Twilight Series” and Harlequin romances are demonic and no true believer should be filling their mind with such garbage that is completely and totally dishonoring to Christ. We would never approve of our beautiful daughters dating an old man much less an old vampire who wants to suck their blood in order to gain immortality. Ladies, there is no possible way to read things like this and keep your mind, heart, and body focused on exalting Jesus Christ.

As a pastor in England, I remember visiting a home where a group of people had gathered for a party. With but one exception, every individual claimed to be a true believer. As my wife and I walked in, these “Christian” women were talking about how “hot” a certain actor was. The wife of one of the deacons said, “If I had a chance to go on a date with no questions asked with that person, I would most definitely do it.” Her husband sitting on the other side of the room turned red and made a smart-aleck comment about who he would go on a date with as well. I made a comment to those present that this was no conversation that true believers should be having but was ignored. We excused ourselves, and the party continued. How tragic and hypocritical the picture they were painting to their children.

Mothers, if you are struggling with what your daughters desire to wear, maybe it is time to check the closet and see if it contains something not pleasing to the Lord. If it is not right for our daughters to flaunt their bodies for the attention they can get from males, then it should be just as wrong for mom to do the same. Here is a great question to consider. Would you wear to church what you wear when you are not at church? Would you be ashamed of your clothing if God walked up to you?

Parents, what our children see us filling our heads and hearts with will ultimately not only come out in our lives but will show up in their lives as well. We cannot expect to have any credibility when telling them they should not listen to the vulgar rap and hip-hop lyrics of the day if we are filling our own ears with the country, soul, or jazz songs that speak just as flippantly of God and of illicit relationships. We are hypocrites if we watch movies that take the Lord’s name in vain or portray any kind of sexual activity and then think that our children will not do the same.

Parents, we cannot expect our children to keep their bodies pure until marriage when we allow them to give away their hearts and souls every time they move from one relationship to the next. I would also say that our children will see us as hypocrites when we tell them to practice full abstinence but in front of them we laugh and smirk our way through the titillating sex scenes in popular movies. Lord willing, the area of biblical parenting in the realm of relationships will be considered in a future article.

For now, I want to conclude this second article by way of illustration. Two of our children are adopted. They have different biological parents. These parents did not care for them and in the providence of God, these beautiful girls became a part of our family. Sadly, our girls carry the scars of abuse because the gift God granted to these parents was not cared for. The main reason is because they were not biblical parents. Had the biological parents of our girls sought to be godly parents, there would have been no need for us to adopt them.

In like manner, there are many children today who are being scarred in ways that are not necessarily caused by physical or sexual abuse. Children can suffer through emotional or mental heartache. Further, being created in the image of God, we are called to fellowship with Him. When we fail to point our children to Christ and teach them His laws, we are scarring our children spiritually. Yes, it really is that serious because as biological parents we are called to biblical parenting.

Consider the words of Deuteronomy 6:5-9 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

As we concluded the first article, we will reiterate here, “Parents, there is an answer to the problem, but it will not be an easy fix. If you are in any of the situations I have described, the first step to change is to humble yourself before God. Confess your sin and repent before Him. Then, make the time to humble yourself before your children. Parents, your children already see your failures but will gain respect for you if you will humble yourself in this way. Admit your sin to them and ask for their forgiveness where you have failed in your God-given responsibility to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”