Wednesday, December 7, 2016

"KNEE-MAIL"..... ENERGIZING PRAYER STARTS WITH HUMILITY

(JESUS)... in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear. (Hebrews 5:7)
Now think about this for a second - the Ancient of Days, Whose goings are from long ago (Micah 5:2), is offering up prayers and supplications. The Oxford Dictionary defines Supplication as "the action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly".

Now, double down on this - Jesus Christ - Yahweh, Who actually created all the Heavens and the Earth and everything on them, is pleading with humility to the Second Person of the Holy Trinity - our Father Who art in Heaven. File this at the top of the Holy Stack.

Then the very Savior of the World, Who gave up His very Throne in Heaven to come down and live as a mere man. The very Savior Who speaks and the winds obey. The very Savior Who commands a fig tree to wither and it shrinks from His presence. This very God, the Great I am, is crying literal tears and crying out loud. The vehement prayers and pleadings indicate a passion and intensity which we can come close to replicating.....if we pray to the Father, as the Son showed us here!

Jesus not only showed us WHAT and HOW we should pray in the Lord's Prayer. In Hebrews 5:7 (above), He gave us the example of the proper attitude for the man, woman and child of God with which we should approach our kind, gracious, wonderful heavenly Father. This attitude of humility is more than significant, it is the very essence of our foundational understanding of just Who God is.

Therefore, here is the kicker. We know, from the testimony and teachings of the Holy Spirit, God is pure, sinless and self-existent. He was always God. Before Abraham was, "I Am". There was never a time in eternity past, when Father and Son - Elohim and Yahweh - never existed. YET JESUS HIMSELF, CO-EQUAL WITH THE FATHER, HAD GODLY FEAR!!


It says so in the God-breathed inspired verse above. The Prayers of Yahweh, called Yeshua (Jesus) in the Hebrew language since He saves His people from their sins, feared God! How could God fear God? This is an obvious truth. Remember just who Jesus was when He was praying, pleading and passionately calling out to His Father as recorded here. He was God Who became mortal. He did not release His Diety in becoming such a mortal. He just chose to set it aside for 33 years. However, He did know Who He was!

He was also wise! The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom! Solomon, whom God called the wisest man on earth, never had a fraction of the wisdom of Jesus. For most of his life, Solomon disrespected and dishonored God until he returned to his senses in the Book of Ecclesiastes.  Jesus never was like that because He, the God/Man, knew the fearsome, awesome Power of the Father Whose Glory will not be denied. He knew it FOREVER! So the Creator himself, respected and showed the proper reverence in prayer.

Here is also what this great verse tells us: Christ was heard because of His godly fear! Because He pleaded and cried out to the Father in all humility with reverence, respect, honor and humility - Jesus' prayers were heard....and so can ours.

They can be heard because the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead on Resurrection morning, lives in us. The same Holy Spirit Who is given to EVERY believer from every part of this world, at the point of conversion to a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, has the same power to release power prayers like Jesus did throughout His entire time here on the earth, 2000 years ago.

All we have to do release that power in prayer and energize our prayer lives, is to follow His pattern. It could not be any more clear. For our "knee-mail" to be read in Heaven, after we click SEND- we MUST have the same and proper FEAR of the LORD which comes from a spirit of humility and which will them configure our thinking and attitudes into the mindset we need. It is this mindset which reaches the Throne Room, in Jesus' Name. It is this mindset which will then cause our prayer offering to rise up like a bowl of fragrant incense before our Father, Who art in Heaven. Amen

Monday, December 5, 2016

NATIVITY SCENES: MANY CULTURES....ONE JESUS!

"But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity." (Micah 5:2)

FROM BETHLEHEM, ISRAEL - BIRTH PLACE OF THE LORD JESUS, THIS SET IS MADE WITH OLIVE WOOD.
(All photos are from the annual Nativity Festival held at the Springfield Illinois CHIARA CENTER. Click here for website)


This Peruvian Retabios is 
unique to the Andes of 
South America. It is used to 
tell Bible stories to local 
indigenous folks who are 
not as educated as 
westerners.

Native American (Southwestern USA)

 T'is the season for 
Nativity Sets, Nativity Scenes or Creches all over the world!  This is also the time of year when all kinds of debates happen across North America and Europe about Religious Liberty and Christianity.

From Germany, where the
 "Baby Jesus is not added to the
 Nativity Scene until
 after Christmas Eve!
From India, Mary in sari
All of this fades in light of the wonder and beauty of the true meaning of the Christmas season. It is precisely times like this which caused the great Francis of Assisi, over 800 years ago to create the first ever Live Nativity Scene. Francis (the founder of the Franciscan Order of Priests) noticed in his land of Italy, that people were more interested in the festive aspects of Christmas and gift giving than what Christmas really represents. So he got a cave, some real animals and began a tradition which has lasted ever since. We are so grateful to this kind and gentle saint, Francis for what he did.


Handmade classic from Italy
From Springfield, Illinois
Over these 800 years, with the rapid spread of Christianity, Christmas around the world has taken up a most unique flavor, for an event which honors the same person - Jesus Christ, the very Son of God! While visiting a recent Nativity Festival locally, the impressive array of depictions of the Birth of the Christ Child is so amazing to behold. The creativity and cultural differences between the nations are only surface deep when you really boil it down. However, each piece of artistic design and work reflects the strong individuality of every tribe and tongue.


From Korea
The photos here represent such a wide range of cultures: from Native American to Korean....from Honduras in Central America to Central Illinois....from Africa and India to the authentic olive wood, from the little town of Bethlehem. Some of the raw materials used are just phenomenal - from straw, to wood shavings to porcelain to marbel to brass etc....all manner of creation!! These sets of Nativity creches all show the love, devotion and detail which represent just a fraction of the wonder, majesty and magnificent of the Greatest Person Who ever walked this earth- the Lord Jesus Christ!
(Photos from the Nativity Festival at the Chiara Center, Springfield, Illinois - website here)
From AFRICA
From Honduras, made from straw
From China, handcrafted w/some wood shavings

Thursday, December 1, 2016

PRAYER AUTHORIZED.....THEN ENERGIZED

The great men of prayer in the late 19th century were humble, yet giants of the Faith like circuit-rider Preacher Robert S. Sheffey and the prolific Christian author E.M. Bounds. Bounds is is known for his timeless works on Prayer, left behind for all believers of all ages to be encouraged....simply by reading his books!

Bounds said the following, as a man of God who had tremendous energy and passion in prayer. He said  "Prayer as spiritual energy makes way for, and brings into practical realization, the promises of God.  God's promises covers all things that pertain to life and godliness and that have to do with time and eternity".

The words "Prayer as Spiritual Energy" here is intriguing, if you think about it. Twice  in the Bible, Jesus said in Matthew Chapter 6 where this energy comes from. He says in Verse 6 in part "....pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly". Then again in Verse 18 (in part), Jesus confirms that "your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly". 

Putting aside the word "reward" here in these two verses spoken by Christ, we instead need to focus on the Person Who gives the rewards - Almighty God, Father of Lights, Heaven and Earth! This is crucial as we ramp up and fortify our prayer lives, in these uncertain days and times. It is God Himself Who looks down on His subjects (we); and empowers His children via the same Power that raised Jesus from the Dead - the Holy Spirit. Our spiritual energy comes ONLY from Him and without filter. Sin can be an obstacle, but the Energy is always available.

Therefore, one side of the equation is in place - the Holy Spirit of God, in us. He, the Spirit is a gentleman and never imposes His Will on the born-again Christian. He sits in wait to be allowed to empower and relay the fulfillment of the Promise with Which He came, when we first accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. 

The other side of this equation depends entirely on us. It is incumbent upon the Christian to respond to our Generous, Gracious, Good Father with the same passion with which He has imputed to us. Our example is the Lord Jesus Whose Passion for Abba led Him to pray "Our Father Who art in Heaven, Hallowed is Thy Name!" This manner of praying is especially beneficial to us in times of despair. When we get that scary medical report or financial disaster hits or there is a family tragedy, do we retreat and pull back our praise, love and adoration for our God? No! Ten times no!

Here is where our Spiritual Energy needs to match up to the Embedded Energy, courtesy the Holy Spirit, so that the praise and glory of God can get us through this unto victory! Here is where we prove the statement by the great prayer warrior EM Bounds to be true! Here again, is what he said in part: "Prayer as spiritual energy makes way for, and brings into practical realization, the promises of God". There it is - PRACTICAL realization of our God Who promises to never leave or forsake us. Therefore, we must not retreat but go bold with God, full of passion in our pleadings.

If we can come to that realization - that the God Who saved us, authorized us (John 1:12) to approach the Throne of Grace FREELY, then we can remain fueled with high octane Holy Ghost power towards a passionate prayer life. Then we can shout out, with dunamis - dynamic power, what the psalmist said here in Psalm 138:1-3:
138 I will give You thanks with all my heart;
I will sing praises to You before the gods.
I will bow down toward Your holy temple
And give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word according to all Your name.
On the day I called, You answered me;
You made me bold with strength in my soul.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

TIME TO REBOOT..... TO HOPE

Senior citizens in the west are treated as almost a disposable group. I have seen in first hand, in over a decade of ministering to and at Senior; Retirement and nursing homes. To be fair, many residents in these homes do need professional medical and other care which they may not be able to receive at home by themsel
ves. However the Lord has a great message for those feel lost, lonely and neglected.  If I had a dollar for every person who told me that our service to them, on a regular monthly basis, makes it easier for them to get through the week, I would be a rich man (in worldly terms).

There is a way for those who are aging, as we all are, to turn to the Lord, get out of the funk they're in..... and just reboot. The great inventor Thomas Edison, founder and creator of the functional light bulb and the record player, once lost over $1 million in property and equipment when his place burned down in West Orange, New Jersey. Think of all the things this genius inventor lost in that fire. One million dollars in 1914 was a huge fortune. Yet Edison said the following “there is value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Now we can start anew!”

Imagine how different things can be for folks in their later years….and even the modern depressed younger generations, if they just turned to the Author and Perfecter of our Faith – the Lord Jesus Christ? His Words, the Words of the Father, inspired by the Holy Spirit are the Trinity of Excellence – timeless and true for all ages of all time. Yet, only even 9-11% of Christians even have the Biblical worldview necessary to live in that peace, joy and contentment. Look at the powerful teaching and encouragement from even a small portion from the Prayer Book of the Bible – the Psalms. Psalm 71:9-14 is the plea of a person who is older. Yet, the Scriptures applies to everyone and a young single mom, or a soldier away from home can place his or her name in there and have the same power from Above as the plea reaches heaven.
Psalm 71.
9    Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
Do not forsake me when my strength fails.
10  For my enemies speak against me;
And those who lie in wait for my life take counsel together,
11  Saying, “God has forsaken him;
Pursue and take him, for there is none to deliver him.”
12  O God, do not be far from me;
O my God, make haste to help me!
13  Let them be confounded and consumed
Who are adversaries of my life;
Let them be covered with reproach and dishonor
Who seek my hurt.
14  But I will hope continually,
And will praise You yet more and more.
The inspired author is asking for the Lord not to cast him in Psalm 71:9 (Do not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength fails). Sometimes the combat vet with extreme PTSD returning home, or the abandoned teenage girl under peer pressure or the young father struggling to pay medical bills for both his autistic son and an indigent parent DO feel unwanted, unloved and without a lifeline.  Sometimes it feels as if the silence from Heaven is even more overbearing when you’ve spent most of your Christian life talking about the goodness and trustworthiness of the Father. Yet, no help is around the corner.

In times like these, we do not just stop there in verse 9. We do not jump in with the crowd, who sound eerily like Job’s friends and the unbelievers who mock Christians and tell us “God has forsaken him….there is none to deliver him” (Verse 11). We press on. We pray on. We persevere on. We never give up.

We keep reading on and praying ahead and looking up and forward saying, as in Verse 12 in an even MORE intense plea “Oh God do not be far from me….make haste to help me!”  There is nothing wrong with desperate prayers, because if we stick with it. If we stay faithful. If we never ever give up, give in or throw in the towel. If we lift our eyes up unto the hills from where cometh our help...from where our help cometh from the Lord, the victory will come. Though weeping may endure for a night, joy cometh in the morning.

We may be in pain - young, old, middle-aged. We may feel forsaken. We may see the mocking and the scoffers making fun of our faith. We may even question our faith but HOLD ON! But look at what's coming! HOPE! Hope never dies! Faith is substance AND evidence so we do have a hope.

Look at verse 14 "But I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more"! That's powerful. Sometimes the thing we are praying for never gets answered or is answered in the negative. We never turn back because the Eternal City lies beyond Jordan! The Eternal City where the King lives across the cold running river with its unknown currents and turns. But we have Hope based on the substance of our Faith. This will never leave us stranded.

The bottom line is this - when the rubber meets the road and when trouble comes, reboot! Yes - start anew! It matters not if we are 75 years old, retired on a park bench feeding pigeons at 9 am or a 25 year old in the drive up line for a morning Java - start anew. Hope is around the corner. Reach out and grab it! Start anew by grasping for the Ancient Words from the Ancient of Days - Holy God. By doing so, a new God-ordained paradigm, which will immediately come into alignment with the Plans and Purposes of God to confirm our Hopeful Future! Glory to His Name. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

THANK YOU, LORD, FOR YOUR BLESSINGS ON ME

The old gospel song says “I know not what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future”…..and so, it goes.  There is absolute Truth in that statement with Jesus Himself instructing us to not worry about tomorrow because Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:34b)

Living Life in the moment is where it is at…simply because this is literally ALL we have! Each breath we take is not our own. We are allowed to stand downright upright on this here planet called Earth, because of the Grace, Mercy and Love of God.  Living on borrowed time should really spur us to gratitude, tremendous gratitude because we are just not our own. Even those who do not believe in the God of heaven – Yahweh – have the Law of God written on their hearts.  They may live like He is not their God, but His indelible signature embedded on their souls tell us otherwise. On that Great and Terrible Day of the Lord, all will be revealed and sorted out. But for today, we who are being saved, have so much to be humbled in thanksgiving.

I remember a very rare time where a small measure of self-pity suddenly washed over me and just as quickly, the Lord reminded me of how fortunate and blessed I am to have even the simplest blessing in life. He did it in the form of a song, by of all things, a country station playing a song by Montgomery Gentry called "Lucky Man". It reminds me of how God has been not just to me, personally but just about everyone who lives in western democracies and can move around freely, eat until full and dress with clean clothes while driving a nice car.

It brings to mind the following Psalm of Thanksgiving, in part, from a man after God's own heart - King David:
I will give You thanks with all my heart;
I will sing praises to You before the gods.
I will bow down toward Your holy temple
And give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word according to all Your name.
On the day I called, You answered me;
You made me bold with strength in my soul......(Psalm 138:1-3, NASB)

When have we not called out to the Lord and He did not answer? He is Yahweh Jireh, the Lord Who provideth good things to His Children. The earthly half-brother of Jesus reminds us in James 1:17 that "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning". 

The perfect gift could be the roof over your head, when you were worried you had no place to rest your head. It may be the check which showed up in the mail to buy that full tank of gas, so we can go to work next week. It may be the invitation to dinner from the nice older couple at church, just when you were tired of eating leftover meatloaf three days in a row. There is no shifting or waffling with our Heavenly Father - Abba, Who loves us greatly. He is as fixed as the North Star and never changes. Because He is immutable (I, the Lord, do not change - Malachi 3:6a), He can be trusted. Therefore, His promises can be relied on. He gives and gives and then gives some more. We are alive and well today, because He gives....and because He lives. Because He lives, we can face tomorrow.

So, we are thankful and oh so grateful to You, oh God. Thank You, Lord, for Your blessings on me.
   

Saturday, November 19, 2016

LAST MINUTE CHRISTMAS MIRACLE - "BELIEVE"- OPENING DEC. 2, 2016

  A MOVIE REVIEW
"BELIEVE" - The Christmas family Drama due for national release in U.S. Theaters on Friday December 2, 2016 is a powerful, gritty portrayal of the current condition of small town America in crisis. Yet, in this crisis is the eternal embers of Faith, Hope and Love......overpowering greed, political corruption and cynicism - a perfect portrayal of America in 2016.

IMDB describes the plot thus: "In a small town going through tough economic times, business owner Matthew Peyton (Ryan O'Quinn) struggles between his desire for financial success and the responsibility of funding the annual Christmas pageant. Desperate business decisions ruin his popularity and angry employees seek their revenge. When Matthew meets Clarence (Isaac Ryan Brown), a joyful boy who believes in miracles, he must make a choice: do what's best for himself or give faith a chance by opening his heart to help his community". (Click on link for website).

But it is more than just a story of love and faith overcoming sin and despair. What the writer/producer Billy Dickson accomplishes about 75% of the way through the story seems to be the root cause of some of the decisions people make in life, that affect their current condition. Yet in that moment of self-realization, when God uses the most unlikely people and circumstance to trigger the response which leads to restoration, comes the breakthrough which leads to healing, love and eventual victory. The uncovering of deep emotional scars and wounds comes in the dark night of the soul, where many people sometimes seem too comfortable to hide.
The grittiness of the casting, (with Ryan O'Quinn - JAG, ER etc..- as "Matthew Peyton", a blue-collar millionaire auto parts manufacturer/supplier going through hard times in any-town "Rust Belt, USA"), is outstanding. This is foundational to grasping the direction of this 21st century Christmas story. As a man who lost his parents in an accident, raised by his grandfather and thrown into the role of "benefactor" of both the town's major employer and Christmas pageant producer, Matthew is the original reluctant inheritor of the town pageant where all the local mom and pop vendors based their Christmas hopes for the shopping season. Hard economic times, fueled by a crooked accountant stealing the company blind and working for an outside crony to take over the Peyton Plant, seem to be leading to the cancellation on this one annual event which the town depends on.

When some "muscle" from the local union, connected to a high city official, almost kills Matthew in an assault outside an inner city building, a young boy named CJ (Isaac Ryan Brown as Clarence Joseph) rescues Matthew from almost dying in the street. CJ and his beautiful mother Sharon Joseph (Danielle Nicolet, Central Intelligence etc.) nurse Peyton back to health and from there the story takes off, as CJ's simple, yet unadulterated joy and faith in life (and God, the Life-giver) show Peyton a side of life he has never experienced.

The former Scrooge-like Matthew Peyton, who denies he is "Scrooge", then becomes the benefactor to many cold and homeless people living in the abandoned slum where CJ and Sharon live. The human interaction, crime and political intrigue accelerate as the movie then speeds up to a powerful and gripping conclusion. In all of this, though, Producer/Writer Dickson does a great job weaving humor, love and joy and the importance of Faith in the film as a young child (CJ) leads the hardened despairing business man (Peyton) to "believe". This ultimately happens when CJ is almost killed in fire set by the crooked accountant Albert Bagley (Kevin Sizemore - Woodlawn, Fear of The Walking Dead Flight 462). 

The hospital room scene leads the now broken Peyton to Sharon's well-used Bible. He finally admits his brokenness to an unconscious CJ in his hospital room. Peyton then confesses that he finally believes. He never actually says in Whom he believes, but the viewer should know. The Name of Jesus does appear on a sign at the end of the film when the town finally gets its pageant off the ground. There is a lighted sign which says "JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON"....and that He is! There are some discussion of Faith, the power of prayers and "righteousness" during some of the tough scenes in the movie. In addition, the movie website Resources tab does have PDF's for small group discussion and is worth checking out. Click here.

This could be the surprise faith-based hit for the 2016 Christmas season and definitely worth taking the family to the local theaters, across the Heartland. BELIEVE is rated PG and is a production of POWER OF 3 ENTERTAINMENT PRODUCTION. Click here for BELIEVE, the movie website.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

ROCK SOLID FAITH FOR TROUBLED TIMES - PART 4

FOLLOW THE LAWGIVER, NOT MAN'S TRADITIONS
Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day. (Colossians 2:16)
The third warning from the Apostle Paul is even more relevant today with a certain small percentage of Christians returning to the “living under the Law” by becoming part of the Hebrew Roots Movement and other Torah-centric streams of religion, which do not line up with Scripture at all.  Some follow the tenets of the traditions of men and do things which are not prescribed in the Bible.

The traditions of men tells us to fast on certain days and then do not fast here but fast there. Then these tell us not to eat meat on certain days but eat fish on this day only and on. Some measure the length of hair, dresses and ban make up on women or even certain musical instruments.  Are these done to prevent Christians from being themselves or even having “fun” at church? Maybe.

What it really could be is the human instinct to be in control, rather than obey the dictates of God while operating freely within His parameters. He HAS given us a huge measure of freedom. He has even given us the freedom to mess up and then make it right. However when it comes to His work, His Word and His Church, it is preferable that we NOT go extra-biblical or chasing after man-created doctrines of cheap grace.

Another thing to look out for is what Paul warned about in Galatians with the Judaizers.  These were people who said they were following “The Way” (the name Christians were described before they were called “Christians” for the first time at Antioch). They claimed to believe and follow the Teachings of the Lord Jesus, but brought over all 613 Laws of the Old Testament with them and then tried to force born-again non-Jewish believers to follow the impossible.  

There are new versions of the Judaizers today and the main one fall under the umbrella of the “Hebrew Roots” movement.  The Hebrew Roots movement are really nice gentle folks, who have good intentions of obeying God to the max, yet choose to follow Torah (or the very Letter of ever dietary and other law, including the Ten Commandments). The problem with this is that no human being can ever, in all the history of humanity, keep every letter of every Law of God – all the time.  Ever! So this is why God sent His Son – the Messiah Yeshua/Yahweh – to be the “propitiation”  or satisfaction of the Obedience of Every Letter of all the Law, which He did at the Cross.

Anything other than trusting in the very fact that Jesus has paid it all and only HE can forgive our transgressions against the Holiness of God is virtually looking for judgment under the Law. What the Hebrew Roots movement, where I have a good friend deeply involved, is putting on themselves is a load which they cannot ever carry, while they lose the true meaning of Grace! With this burden comes anxiety, trepidation, fear and minutiae which prevents the authentic believer in Christ from resting in Him…His Truth…and the Joy His Salvation brings.

The Hebrew Roots movement is not the only philosophy of man which can divert us from the pure milk and honey of the Gospel, but at this time, it is one of the most popular ones drawing Christians out of churches into an almost ascetic lifestyle, that goes against Jesus’ Prayer for His followers in John 17:20-26. The Roots movement, it’s older cousin the Messianic Torah-centric UMJC and others affect conduct in attempting to fulfill an already fulfilled Law. Things like Mormonism etc are cults which have nothing to do with the Bible, the Gospel of Jesus or the Kingdom of Heaven.
(Click here for more on the "Hebrew Roots Movement" and here)


The bottom line, in all these three warnings from the Apostle Paul to the Colossians, is – as it was then, it is now. We MUST be vigilant and be on the alert as Jesus warn us, because our adversary the devil roams around like a roaring lion, ready to devour us. He – the devil – uses strange and evil teachings and philosophies to distract us from the beauty and simplicity of the Gospel of Christ. Don’t let him – stay close to God. Read the Bible, it’s great for the soul (Max Mclean).

Friday, October 21, 2016

ROCK SOLID FAITH FOR TROUBLED TIMES - PART 3

BEWARE OF THE FALSE THEOLOGY OF THE DAY
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, which are based on human tradition and the spiritual forces of the world rather than on Christ (Colossians 2:8)
Most folks alive today have an absolute wrong notion of heaven, hell and how a person gets to either future permanent residence. The ignorance concerning these two critical life matters is astounding.   People will pay more attention to what they wear, eat, drive and watch on TV than the condition of their eternal soul…that is, until they wake up on the wrong side of this life. They do not comprehend that God is serious about His Word, His Truth and just about who He lets into His Heavenly Kingdom.  For over a decade of street and other evangelism and speaking in depth with lost souls, I do not need George Barna or Pew Research to tell me that only about 12-15% of people calling themselves Christians are actually born again, or heaven-bound Christians.

This is such an important paradigm for the people of God that Jesus Himself used His own chosen vessel – the Apostle Paul – to warn all Christians for all time, via his (Paul’s) instructions to the Colossians.  Jesus loves His followers and disciples so much that He sent these warnings, for all time, which we will do well to heed, until He returns!

In part 1 of this short series, we looked at two of the most dangerous cultural fads, which are attracting a certain amount of younger Christians for many reasons. First, who is against stress relief, fitness and good health….while dressing cool and listening to mysterious sounds, so you can sound spiritual? Except that these now acceptable western habits are completely anti-Biblical and their adherents will be held to account for them.

Today, we look at the application  to 21st century meaning for verse 8, next, of Colossians 2. Today, we look at the application  to 21st century meaning of this verse. Moving on from the mystic (Contemplative “prayer” and “Mindfulness”, we take a glance at two major strains in the Christian world about which we need to be on guard.

SOCIAL GOSPEL:

Many recent in-depth surveys of millennials who call themselves Christians care more about “social gospel”….than the actual real gospel itself. This is more of a testimony to the socialist and godless indoctrination they received in public schools and colleges than anything else.  While they are correct to care about what happens to the less fortunate and those who need a helping hand, they learned to do it from the viewpoint of a system which is anti-God and anti-Biblical worldviews. Again, to emphasize, there is absolutely nothing wrong with medical missions, caring for the hungry and thirsty and cold. This is Christian Compassion. When it is mandated by a central authority AND when there is NO sharing of the Love of God in Christ, it is just that - good works and nothing else.

James tells us that Faith without Works is dead (James 2:17).  But the so-called “Social Gospel” is a whole other creation, where certain quotations from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount  are not only taken out of context but are the only portions of God’s Word, which the leftists use from the Bible. It would be amusing to see and hear people who do not believe in God, the Bible and Jesus as Lord and Savior.  
WATCH THIS TWO MINUTE VIDEO ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOCIAL "GOSPEL" AND WHO JESUS REALLY IS:


PROSPERITY GOSPEL:
"Name It And Claim It"
Along with the godless “Social Gospel”, comes another corruption of the Truth of Christ, which the Lord is warning about in the Scriptures. The Bible is the living Word of God, sharper than any two edged sword and for all time, until He returns.  Some practitioners  of the equally as ungodly Prosperity Gospel are so worldly, devoid of any Godly wisdom that they are just as dangerous to the eternal souls of their followers as the social gospel people.

The faulty Prosperity Gospel Theology used to be also called the “Health and Wealth” Theology, until people realized that you can’t “sow a seed” to some flim-flam crooked TV preacher wearing a $5000 suit and your terminal disease, from 40 years of smoking would go away. The Word Faith movement, led by some of the most popular people you will see on Christian Television, survives but they have mastered the art of making some of it sound Biblical.

Let’s say up front that it is easy to fall prey, via sheer human emotions, to the claims of the health and wealth charlatans when a person is down and out for a long period of time, and it seems like everything is falling apart.  Not- withstanding the plight of our persecuted brothers and sisters in other lands, comfort and life at the ready are staples of the Western Christian. When finances, fortune and fine health go south, who would not be concerned, even to the extreme,  about making the next payment or providing meals next week for the family.

Here is where Trust in the Goodness, Grace and Provision of God comes in. When the Prosperity Proponents proclaim potential wealth if we do “x, y and/or z”, and sometimes appropriate the Name of God or Jesus onto it, people in despair ears may perk on…that is, people who are not FIRMLY grounded in Biblical Truth.  In good times and in bad, the only way to stay in the Will and Wonder of God is to be fully aware of His manifest presence in our lives, through the Holy Spirit embedded in the believer, and then His Word. We MUST know the Bible and how it applies to our lives, if we are to stay true to Him and remain faithful at all times.

Remember just Who the Savior was, in His brief 33 years on earth and remember the fact that we are supposed to model Him. The Creator and Sustainer of ALL things – Jesus, Yahweh, the Alpha and Omega…the Beginning and the End, lived as an ordinary man on earth. He had no palace, no 40 bedroom house with gold fittings, private jet and BMW’s or Mercedes Benz chariots like Copeland, Creflo Dollar or Benny Hinn. The Lord Jesus had no home of His own, no place to sleep on a regular basis and depended on His best friends in Bethany (Mary, Martha and Lazarus) for their kindness and welcoming hospitality.

This is the Jesus we should follow, not the fiction of the prosperity gospel charlatans which will eventually land them and all their followers in hot water one day, before God. This is one of the warnings the Apostle Paul gives us, in Colossians 2:8.
WATCH THIS BRIEF VIDEO FOR MORE ON THIS UNBIBLICAL THEOLOGY:


Saturday, October 8, 2016

ROCK SOLID FAITH FOR TROUBLED TIMES - PART 2

DANGER: SOUL IN PERIL OVER SLY MODERN DECEPTIONS- Mindfulness & Contemplative Prayer
4 Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words.
The first warning (Col 2:4 above) concerns deceptive modern ideas about Christianity, Christology and the Certainty of your salvation, which sound good – but are completely ungodly and unbiblical. 

It is almost understandable why even sensible Christians could fall prey to some of the faulty teachings we see and hear these days because they sound so good, even biblical and makes the person feel good. In times of trouble, doubt, temptation and trial, if a brand new well-dressed and well-spoken author/speaker and even singer comes along with a new exciting take on an old problem, the appeal and response are tremendous. The bookstores – both Christian and secular – are full of books from every imaginable angle to make a person feel good about their lives….except the one angle that really matters. This is the matter of sin.

Every problem under the sun begin, results from and will never be resolved until we deal with the matter of sin., Instead, we have teaching from million selling books which tell us it is “Our Best Life Now”. Just in case anyone is confused, the best life for the Christian is NOT now, but in the eternal Kingdom of the Christ. Tell the Christian who is being literally destroyed in the persecuted lands, that his/her best life is now!!  The heresy does not get any better than “The Power of I Am”…..not “I Am Who I Am” (Yahweh”)….but “I am”… as in self-declarations of Biblical principles.  (No photos will be posted of these books here, so as to not promote them).

Now, there is nothing wrong at all with claiming the Promises of God as in “I am more than a conqueror”… or “I am a child of God, saved and redeemed”…..or “I am the chief of sinners….until Jesus rescued me”. This is proclaiming Bible truths. What is troubling and a violation of the Second Commandment is a famous pastor, who knows better, taking the Name of the Lord in vain to sell books! 

But there are other deceptive teachings and practices which unsuspecting believers should not only be aware of, but should avoid like the plague!  Two increasingly popular practices from very faulty teachings are Contemplative Prayer and Mindfulness. BEWARE OF BOTH!

CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER: 
In its simplest definition, Contemplative prayer is also called “centering prayer” or meditation. Now this meditation is not the same as the Bible calls for in Psalm 1 where we “meditate”, study, chew on and understand what the Word of God is saying to us. No, this centering meditation and contemplation seeks mystic experiences with God where Jesus is hardly ever in the picture. It requires emptying one’s mind and not praying on what is canonized Scripture, but what the gurus of this movement tells us what we may do to achieve “Spiritual Formation”. 

One of the dangers of this mysticism, where the practitioner sits in silence waiting to hear from God, while centering on a passage of some book by Thomas Merton, Dallas Willard or even chanting a bible verse/passage over and over, is that it can lead a person away from both Christ and Christianity. I know a person it actually happened to from Connecticut.  She was/is an avid blogger and stay at home mother of three children who was so caught up in being open to deceptive new thoughts and teachings she walked away from Christ, to her own eternal loss! This person had elevated the teachings of the Emergent Church and Ecumenism that she started reading, promoting and practicing. Ancient mysticism from both Hindu, some Catholic theologians and alleged Christian ones became woven fully into her spirit...and all of this while going to a mainline church in the center of Connecticut.

We had several disagreements including one with her co-“meditators” who instantly branded me intolerant. One day, Jessica wrote some chilling words.  She had gone to her church for the final time, looked around and “contemplated”  a while. She wrote that she looked at all the people with whom she had grown up her entire life and felt suddenly quite alienated from them. She felt , in fact, alienated from the entire state of being in a Christian church. She then said she felt sad, as then and there, she made the decision to walk away from the church, Christianity and reject Jesus Christ as the only Way, the Truth and the Life!

This is the kind of end result of years of so-called “open-mindedness” towards every strange philosophy of man and the devil.  This is the fruit of messing with strange mystic garbage, saying it is based on the Bible and promoting it to many, while fellowshipping with like-minded lost souls. I broke off any contact with this person because she and her family plunged headlong into pagan Hinduism, Buddhist “meditation” and all sorts of potential Baal worship. To the elite and the well-connected, this is the in-thing and makes them feel enlightened. To Holy God of Heaven and the Bible, this is storing up wrath for That Day. 

The slide into eternal separation from God, first began, because people listen to strange and deceptive words, which became practices. Which leads us to a new strange and unbiblical concept called “Mindfulness”. 
MINDFULNESS: Potentially, this is even more dangerous to the future eternal homes of millions of souls, as if Contemplative Prayer/Spiritual Formation were not enough. Mindlessness is leading people away from the Gospel weekly, while sounding good, easy and oh-so-modern and “cool”. In fact, this fits right into the template of those who call themselves “spiritual”.

According to dictionary definition, “mindfulness” is about focusing on a person’s awareness, mostly at the current moment, while concentrating fully on experiential stuff: thoughts, feelings and physical sensations. It has nothing to do with Jesus, God, The Bible or the Holy Spirit.  In fact, its origins are Eastern Mysticism, Buddhism and Hinduism rolled up into one! In fact the word “mindfulness” is a translation from the Buddhist “pali” term called “sati”. 

Proponents of this ungodly practice say it is good for Christians to do for good health, stress removal etc…etc…just like they do when they promote alleged “Christian” Yoga. Both Mindfulness and Yoga cannot be associated with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are an anathema to the pure Word of Christ and His Word which said “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5)“. If you speak to any true Hindu and practitioner of yoga, they will tell you exactly what it is – Hinduism.  Every movement is based on the “theology” of that earth religion.  Mindfulness is the same.  If the people promoting this stuff in public schools and general society were honest with you, they would tell the truth that it is part of the Eightfold Path OF BUDDHISM! Google it yourself. This will not be promoted in this article. 

There is a huge reason the Apostle Paul warns of these nice sounding ideas and diverse philosophies. Who would be against stress relief and being “in your right mind”. The issue begins as to where the beliefs used to address these issues originate. People go to hell – the state of eternal and FOREVER separation from God – not because of what they do, but because of what they believe. Many in modern Christianity which is a mile wide and half inch deep, were never born again and are easily led astray by these modern easy fixes for peace, joy and contentment. Some authentic Christians may even be fooled by this for a while. Both will face an Righteous God on Judgement Day with no answer for this deadly folly.

Of the many evils out there for their “Spiritual Formation” these two are the most dangerous, because they have been proven 1000 times over to  lead people away from Jesus Christ – the Creator and Sustainer of Life. A lot of these practices are promoted by the Emergent Church and their supporters in the megachurches.  (Click here to read more on the Emergent Church).  Our job as Authentic Believers and Followers of Christ is to stay faithful to Him, remain planted like trees by living water and be obedient to His Spirit. Anything else will cause loss – permanent and deadly.