Monthly Archives: June 2009
June 26, 2009
A certain minister had a reputation for being eccentric. One Sunday morning, he told his congregation that he believed his church was dead. You can imagine the murmurings from the pews when he said, “Come back tonight, I’m going to preach the funeral service of the church.” The members were shocked, the attendance for the evening service was larger than it had been in years.
In front of the pews was a casket and as people sat in stunned silence, the pastor delivered the message. After the last amen, the pastor said, “Some of you may not agree with me that this church is dead. So that you may be convinced, I am going to ask you to view the remains. I want you to file by the casket, one by one, and see who is dead!
In preparation for his unorthodox presentation, the minister had placed a mirror in the bottom of the casket. It is obvious who everyone saw when he came to view the deceased. (This excerpt taken from David Jeremiah’s book, Escape the Coming Night, pages 67-68).
Those of you who read my commentaries know that I spend a good deal of time ranting about the condition of the church in today’s world. That certainly isn’t about to change any time soon as long as the current “state of affairs” continues.
However, I do and must admit that I haven’t spoken enough about each of our own responsibilities concerning personal growth. Certainly we need to hold our church leaders accountable for teaching sound doctrine. But also, we each must take responsibility for ourselves as well.
As an example, we see in Christ’s seven-church teaching of Revelation 2 and 3 that no matter what condition the main body was in, there was always a remnant that persevered, no matter what. — These people that constituted the remnant didn’t look around for excuses nor did they play the “blame game”. They took it upon themselves to rise above the predominant sins of their fellowships and made a difference. — Should we be any different?
Let’s for a moment look back to the beginning. The church was primarily underground and persecuted. – Look at Paul. He was not popular in his day. He was little-known, despised and rejected. — And what about our savior, Jesus Christ? As Billy Graham so aptly said, He was “Despised and rejected with nowhere to lay his head. He was born in another person’s stable. he died outside the city walls, an outcast, having come to his own who received Him not. He was buried in another man’s tomb.”
In His footsteps followed the heroes of the faith who were tortured, mocked, imprisoned, stoned, torn asunder, slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, afflicted, tormented. They wandered in deserts, in mountains and in caves of the earth. (See Hebrews 11:37-38)
Now let’s fast-forward to today. Still, in many parts of the world, being a Christian means suffering and martyrdom. – At last count, some fifty-two nations reject Christianity with a vengeance. Here in America, however, giving your life to Jesus brings little persecution. – As a matter of fact, unlike our predecessors, its difficult to separate we Christians from the rest of our society.
Again, we can talk about the reasons, but our primary mistake is that too many of us have geared our lives to gain worldly favor. We argue that humanity is more “Christian” now that we need not suffer as our forefathers did.
The truth is, times are not brighter. We Christians are a foreign influence, a minority group in a heathen world. — If we, as individuals and the church, are acceptable to this present age of spiraling sin — If we are not stirring up trouble and suffering reproach — then God have mercy on us! — If we are at peace with this world, then it is because we have sold out to it!
Simply stated, we in the church are making a great mistake by trying to make Christianity popular and pleasant. We have taken away the cross and substituted cushions. — But Christ said the world hated Him and He predicted that it would hate us. — As Dr. Graham said, “He invited us not to a picnic, but to a pilgrimage. He offered us not an excursion, but and execution.”
Nowhere in the New Testament do I find that Christians are to expect to be popular and successful. Quite frankly, the more you live and profess your faith in this world, the more isolated you will become.
As all of you are aware, I truly believe that we are living in the last hours of the “times of the Gentiles” (see Luke 21:24). – Matthew 24:12 says, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.“
Are you a Christian and proud of it? Are you willing to profess your faith regardless of political correctness or personal safety? — You should be able to say with Paul, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16).
Continuing, Hebrews 10:25 states, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the day approaching.“
I close this week with encouragement for each of you to stand strong for the Kingdom of our Savior. — Remember, no matter what the circumstance, it is only about sharing the love and eternal salvation of our great King, Jesus Christ.
Finally, let me leave you with a previously used statement — one that I find uplifting and relevant to our purpose in this world:
We are the Light of the World
“The evening news is a commentary of the darkness of our world. It is a graphic visualization of the absence of God in many places in our communities —
So — what is the real problem? It is not just the presence of darkness — it is also the absence of light. —
We can pierce the darkness in the name of Jesus!!
Light exposes darkness and light symbolizes the presence of God. – Light represents all that is good! – We are the light!!”
Until next time,
June 19, 2009
Matthew 24:10-11 says, “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”
Here I go again, quoting from one of my favorite and most referred to chapters in the Bible, Matthew 24, but nobody says it better than Jesus concerning the conditions of the end-times.
Just a few days ago my wife was reading it aloud to me and, as always, I was struck by the sheer clarity and preciseness of His teachings.
Let’s start by talking about those that turn their backs on their faith. — To have “peaks and valleys” is one thing, or “dry spells” as we refer to them, but to “turn away from the faith” is quite another matter.
How can this happen? – What could cause people to turn their backs on such a wonderful savior? — Let’s look at some of the reasons why this can and will, as Jesus says, take place in these difficult times.
I believe it starts with the foundation built either on rock or sand. Matthew 7:24-27 states, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
We already have seen what’s taken place in Europe. Church attendance is down to 5% of the population in most places. – People have simply walked away from their faith because it stopped providing the foundational truths of Christ’s teachings. They became complacent and lukewarm, and as a result, they died a spiritual death.
Can this happen in America? – You bet it can and it is! — I remember back when I went to church as a young man, I never heard anything about the third part of the God-head, the Holy Spirit. He was “put up on a shelf” because of His controversial aspects. — As a matter of fact, all I really needed to do back then was “say” that I accepted Jesus as my savior and that was enough. I then received my “Get Out of Hell Free” card and went on my merry, sinful, hypocritical way. — I believe it was called “Eternal Security”.
What about today’s young people? These statistics I’m about to share may shock you, but here they are. — Less than 1% of the youngest adult generation in America has a Biblical world view. — This “Mosaic Generation”, those between the ages of 18-23, rarely have a biblical worldview as defined by the Barna Group.
A biblical worldview, as defined by the Barna study, is —–believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is completely accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on Earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today.
George Barna, who directed the research, commented on the “troubling” generational pattern that suggests, “Parents are not focused on guiding their children to have a biblical worldview.” He goes on to say, “One of the challenges for parents, though, is that you cannot give what you do not have.” — The research goes on to show that only 9% of parents have this worldview!
Enough about the kids and their parents! — What about the churches they’ve been attending? Isn’t that the true purpose of the church? — To teach the fundamentals, or ‘worldview’ of our faith? I notice crosses out front of most of them. — I wonder how many of us really realize the full meaning of that cross.
Warren Cole Smith, an evangelical journalist and author of A Lover’s Quarrel With the Evangelical Church, says that most mainstream churches have lost their way. – Instead of sticking with core biblical principles, they promote feel-goodism, technological fads, and church-as-entertainment. He goes on to say, “For the sake of money and power and status and celebrity — we’ve made ‘church’ easy.” — I believe he is very accurate in his statement. In just the past eight years, I’ve personally experienced this in many instances.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 says, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.“
For different reasons, Christians of various sorts have tinkered with the gospel of Christ as though it needed adjustments. — No major alterations, most will tell us, but just some minor tweaking here and there. — And these changes often begin by their declaring that there is no real change involved — simply a shift in emphasis.
Here’s just a couple of examples:
◆ Brian McLaren, an “emerging church” leader, described the future way of life for the Christian. In an interview July 28, 2008, on christianpost.com, he said: “I think our future will also require us to join humbly and charitably with people of other faiths – Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, secularists, and others – in pursuit of peace, environmental stewardship, and justice for all people, things that matter greatly to the heart of God.”
◆ Terry Neal, a faith reporter for the Hamilton Spectator stated, “We need faith, but the faiths of our fathers are tired now, or are spent forces. We must recognize this whether we are Muslims, Sikhs, Jews or Christians. We are now a global village, and only a global worldview will suffice.”
And of course, there are hundreds more that are less subtle and much more obvious, but you get the picture.
So we can see how easy it is for people to turn their backs on their faith in these days. – They have no foundation with which to weather the ever-increasing storms leading up to our Lord’s triumphant return.
The teachings of Matthew 24 go on to say:
◆ Verse 12 – “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…”
◆ Verse 10 – “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other…“
And 2 Timothy 3:1-5 really sums up these times by saying, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.“
I challenge each of you to read these verses carefully, completely and prayerfully. Then I challenge each of us to go to our church bodies and ask the tough questions — are our youth getting the fundamentals of our faith? – Are we, the adult body, being given the “food” to strengthen our foundations for these perilous times? — Or are we getting entertained and then followed up with ear candy?
Jesus said in Matthew 24:32-34 that we will know the “season” of His return.
“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”
I believe with all my heart that we are that generation.
Finally, in Revelation 3:14-22, Jesus tells us about the condition of the seventh church being lukewarm. He then goes on to say that He would “...spit you out of my mouth.” (Verse 15)
As I mentioned earlier in this commentary, as a young man I was never exposed to the true power of God through His Holy Spirit. I praise and thank God that I’ve witnessed this in my life! — Because of this blessing, I know I can now weather these coming storms. – My foundation is now solid rock!
Matthew 7:13-14 says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
Remember, we are the light of the world in these dark times. — May our light shine on as many as possible while there is still time.
Until next time,
June 12, 2009
Has anyone noticed?! – Are any of you seeing what I’m seeing?! — If you just stop for a moment from your crazy, racing pace of life and just look, you can’t miss it!
There’s an oppressive weight bearing down on almost every part of our lives — world conditions such as war, famine, disease, natural disasters — depression, suicide, families killing each other — friends and relatives suffering from various forms of pain and illness — even in our personal lives we live each day, we are watching the things we’ve grown accustomed to like job security and savings — even the very institutions we’ve long trusted, evaporating before our very eyes.
So what on earth is going on? Why, all of a sudden, is everything accelerating at such a rapid pace?
In Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21, Jesus Himself tells us that all these things must take place before He returns. Specifically in Matthew 24:6, He says, “Such things must happen.”
Certainly we do not know the exact time, but He tells us that we will know the season. Matthew 24:33 says, “Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.“
Having established that the end is near, what does scripture say of Satan? What will be his response? Revelation 12:12 states, “The devil is coming down unto you, having great wrath because he knoweth that he hath a short time.“
Know this that war is raging in the heavenlies. God’s angels are in full battle with the evil hordes of the devil, and as in all wars, there will be casualties. — Rest assured, Satan’s mission is to destroy every Holy Spirit-directed ministry he can find and he will not stop until our Lord’s triumphant return. — 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.“
In my work as a student and teacher of prophecy, I am continually reviewing today’s world events and how they relate to scripture. – But unlike most people, I’m not depressed by them because I see it as putting us one step closer to our Lord’s return.
2 Peter 1:19 says, “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.“
There you have it! This is the reason for teaching prophetic truth! — People are depressed and easily deceived in today’s world because they have lost hope — but prophecy reveals to us what and why all this is taking place. Once people begin to understand this, then hope returns and more victories are realized.
The Apostle Paul asked this question in Romans 8:35 — “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?“
Then he answered with this, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)
Remember time is extremely short and the enemy is making every effort to deceive us. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:14-16, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in Heaven.”
So here’s your challenge. First, check your “personal light” and make sure its not under that bowl. – Second, take that light and let it shine wherever you go. – Then finally, when someone asks why you are so ridiculously happy and upbeat in this perilous world, tell them about Jesus. — Then — just maybe — you’ll shatter the bowl that covers their light and help make the world a bit brighter.
Until next time,