Monthly Archives: July 2009

July 31, 2009

Quote – “Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise.” – Sam Pascoe
I received an interesting e-mail this past week from a Christian brother and this quote was the opening salvo of a well-written “indictment” of the condition of the American church, by Dave Daubenmire.
Needless to say, it stirred my interest because the article went on to list many of the problems in the church that I’ve been ranting about of late.
Also interesting is that my wife and I are currently sharing the Gospel of Mark and the same day this e-mail came, we touched on Chapter 7, verses 6-8 which say,
 “He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
   ” ‘These people honor me with their lips,
      but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
      their teachings are but rules taught by men.’
You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”
So — is it true? Has America’s churches become an enterprise? — The word enterprise in our culture generally relates to business and certainly some churches would fall under that heading.
We do have quite an accumulation of church “personalities” that have evolved over the landscape of our land in recent years. – Accompanying the “big business” mentality today are doctrines that preach personal wealth, how to be a better you, earth worship and the like. We even have the “emergent church” mentality that’s watering down the basic fundamentals of our faith to accommodate sinful lifestyles.
How convenient! – Church has become a place in our society to come and “salve the spiritual guilt” of our lifestyles. – As Coach Dave says so well, “The self-serving American church is a pathetic step-child to Christianity’s founding fathers.”
Plainly said, the aforementioned modern church’s “adjusted doctrines” are false and misleading. To be blunt, this so-called “feel-good” gospel of today is a fraud!
2 Timothy 4:3-4 puts it before us in plain and simple terms – 
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.
So what is the truth? – Jesus taught self-sacrifice, not self fulfillment. Hebrews 9:26-28 depicts this sacrifice – 
Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Then, Hebrews 10:10 shows how this sacrifice made us holy — 
We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
And what about the rich young man who asked Jesus what he must do to receive eternal life? Jesus answered in Matthew 19:21,  
If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Plain and simple, he was told to get rid of his earthly wealth and this would give him treasures in Heaven. — Just because some 2,000 years has gone by doesn’t give us license to reverse this teaching.
Matthew 19:23-24 goes on to explain the dangers of earthly wealth. It says, 
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
To put a wrap on this position, let’s look at the original apostles. With the exception of John, all paid the price of self-sacrifice with their lives — and John’s walk was no picnic. He ended up in exile.
We all know that love demands sacrifice. We need to ask ourselves what we’ve sacrificed for our faith. Are we involved in spiritual warfare or spiritual welfare?
In my recent studies, besides prophecy of course, I’ve been seeking God’s wisdom as to the real truths of scripture. – Like many of you, I was raised in the Americanized, watered down, altered for convenience approach to church. What I am discovering is that we’ve missed an incredibly important point in this ever-evolving process.
I certainly won’t, and can’t, go into it’s entirety in this writing, but to briefly highlight, the Evangelical movement in America today is using a “flat Bible” approach to define its overall doctrine. More specifically, the “flat Bible” concept puts the Old and New Testaments on the same level.
What this creates is that except for Jewish ceremonial and dietary laws, Evangelical morality closely resembles Old Testament morality. Oaths, accumulations of wealth, participation and justification of war, and divorce and re-marriage are acceptable for Evangelicals because they were acceptable in the Old Testament. 
But what does Jesus say? – Let’s look!
2 Corinthians 3:6 – 
He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Hebrews 8:6-8 – 
But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.
For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 
But God found fault with the people and said:
   “The time is coming, declares the Lord,
      when I will make a new covenant
   with the house of Israel
      and with the house of Judah.
Hebrews 9:15-
For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. (Also see Hebrews 12:24)
Luke 22:20-
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. (Also see I Corinthians 11:25)
So what does all of this mean? – I’m simply trying to illustrate that when we are given the opportunity to pick and choose what is best or most convenient for a given situation, we will almost always take the path of least mental and physical resistance. 
Consider these scriptures for a moment.
Matthew 7:21-23 says, 
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
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.
As the title says, its not easy, but truth is truth. — And its better than self-deception.
I urge you to look closely at your own ‘walk with Jesus’. — Are you going through the motions of church for an hour or so a week and nothing else? — Can people tell you apart from the world? — Are you picking and choosing the elements of your spiritual life that make you comfortable and unchallenged? — Are you rejecting, like so many today, the parts of scripture that don’t fit your lifestyle?
2 Timothy 3:16 states, 
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…
I’m sure that when Jesus and the writers of the New Testament penned the ‘inspired’ teachings, the intention was never multiple choice!
To close, in a final quote from the coach’s article, he says, “People have asked me to start a church. I tell them that they are nuts. Truth empties churches, it doesn’t fill them. A friend of mine says guys like me would be the Dr. Kervorkian of church growth.” — I’m sure some of my friends and acquaintances feel the same about me. —
But, wait a minute! — I thought this was a prophecy website!
– Thanks for indulging me — 
Until next time,
Red

July 18, 2009

Can any of you believe that 2009 is already over half gone? — It is so hard to fathom how rapidly the end-time prophecies of scripture are unfolding. In just these past six months we’ve seen a rapid acceleration of God’s agenda.
For starters, its amazing to watch the international movement towards globalization. What many don’t realize is that with the world charging down this path, it will only make it easier for the coming Anti-Christ to seize control.
Also, we are watching the world’s moral values declining at an unprecedented pace, record levels of violent crime, Israel’s increasing isolation, and the continuing world-wide economic meltdown, which will ultimately increase violence, civil unrest and general global chaos.
I know I talk, teach and write about this stuff constantly — but its still amazing to observe, even for a ‘seasoned veteran’ like me. — And hang on ’cause its only going to increase in intensity.
Matthew 24:8 describes it as “…the beginning of birth pains.” Also, as Matthew 25:13 clearly states, we will not know the hour or the day but Matthew 24:33 does declare that we will know the season. — “Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.
Back in May, in my commentary, “Signs of the Times”, I commented on the end-time events portrayed in Revelation, chapter six — the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse — famine, war, pestilence and death. — Today, in this writing, I want to focus on two of these — famine and pestilence.
While there is much going on right now in these two areas of prophecy, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if no one knew because we are not seeing it on our traditional news outlets. — Guess we’re too busy with Michael Jackson and Sarah Palin’s kids.
To start, let’s look at Revelation 6:8 – the fourth horseman. It states, “I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.
Also, Luke 21:11 says, “There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places…”
First, Famine — Webster’s definition states: 
1) An acute general shortage of food 
2) Any acute shortage
Here’s some highlights-
•  “UN Warns of Catastrophe As Hungry People Top One Billion” – In a June 12, 2009 Reuters article, it stated “High food prices have pushed another 105 million people into hunger in the first half of 2009. — The head of the UN World Food Program said that this raised the total number of hungry people to over one billion.” The article went on to say the world faced a “human catastrophe” as more and more people struggle to get a decent meal. – It concluded by saying that, “This year we are closing in on average four million new hungry people a week, urgently hungry!” 
•  “G8 Food Summit Set Out to Fight Famine” — In an April 18, 2009 article, The Independent stated, “It is a crisis of almost biblical proportions. With almost one billion people living with permanent hunger, ministers from the world’s largest producers and consumers of food met in Italy to try to avert a permanent food crisis of an unprecedented scale.”
The secular article closed by saying, “Indeed, it may not be too dramatic to say that they will be trying to defeat no less a set of enemies than the four horsemen of the modern apocalypse.” 
•  Oxfam, a UN advocacy group, commented in an MSNBC article on July 6th, “Chronic Human Hunger May Be the Defining Human Tragedy of This Century”.
Also, these headlines:
•  Tibet – “Drought Now Worst in Memory” 
•  Syria – “160 Villages Abandoned Due to Famine”
•  S. Asia – “Hunger at 40 Year High”
•  India – “Drought Threatens Entire North”
•  Canada – “Crop Outlook Bleak as Drought Ravages Prairies”
Also on the ‘famine’ front, in an article from AG Weekly dated April 1, 2009, it stated , “A virulent strain of wheat stem rust, UG99, that has now spread into Iran and threatens other wheat producing regions of Asia and eventually the entire world.”
Then, in another article from twincities.com dated June 21, 2009, it summarized by stating, “Crop scientists fear  the UG99 fungus could wipe out more than 80% of worldwide wheat crops.” It closed by saying, “It’s a time bomb.”
Continuing on with this “positive” information, in an article posted on IrishCentral.com, the headline read, “Irish famine blight fungus hits Rode Island crops.” This purportedly is the same virus that caused the potato blight in Ireland in the 1840’s that decimated the population. — Then on July 11, Yahoo.com News reported that this same blight is killing potato and tomato plants in home gardens from Maine to Ohio and threatening commercial and organic farms.
But I’ve got to close the famine portion with this one. – The New York Times reported just this week that drought and water policies are drying up the Euphrates River! — We prophecy students have always wondered and debated on how the King of the East, with its 200 million soldiers, would cross this mighty river as it comes to engage the Lord in the Battle of Armageddon! – Well now we know — it’s drought!!!
Now, Pestilence – Webster’s say of this:
1) A deadly epidemic disease; plague
2) Anything regarded as harmful
Here are some highlights –
• As of June 11, 2009, the Swine Flu pandemic officially began, this according to an MSNBC News article. — Certainly we saw this same flu earlier, originating in Mexico, but experts say that the next time around, it could be much more serious. — Since that time, it now appears to be strengthening and these same experts claim that it has very similar markings as the Spanish Flu of 1918 which killed millions of people worldwide. — And now they say it could even mix with Bird Flu. Who knows – all we can do is watch.
Just a couple more:
•  The Australian reports that a new Malaria strain is a “global threat”
•  WHO (World Health Organization) calls for “urgent action” against global epidemic of drug-resistant TB 
•  And on and on….
I know this is “heavy” stuff, but I really don’t think most of you realize this is all going on. – And again, the reason I want to bring it to you is to show how Bible prophecy is being fulfilled before our very eyes. — And, from that perspective, it is not so dark. In fact, it inspires me to get to work for the Kingdom because the Lord is showing us how short time really is before His return.
Matthew 24:6-8 says, 
You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” 
In this passage, Jesus says that these things must happen. That means they will. – But also, 
I Thessalonians 1:10 tells us, “…Jesus who rescues us from the coming wrath.” In addition, Revelation 3:10 states, “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.
Here’s the bottom line! Scripture tells us everything if we just study it, learn it, and then apply it!
Finally, 2 Peter 3:8-9 states, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends; With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
We do not know how long the Lord will tarry before He returns for His church. – He doesn’t want to lose anyone — but we do know He is coming soon.
So what should we be doing in the meantime? — Because its going to get worse before it gets better, its not a bad idea to have 30-60 days of supplies on hand — not to hoard, but to be prepared to help one another. – And most importantly, spread the Good News of Jesus and His coming reign. – Lord knows, the world needs it, and with Him, there need not be fear and trepidation – only joy of what is soon to come.
Luke 21:28 reminds us, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Until next time,
Red

July 10, 2009

This past week I had the pleasure of meeting with a pastor friend of mine. I won’t say who he is, but his initials are “Dave”. 

Anyway, as we were sharing our “great wisdom” he told me about the theme he was going to go with in his fall campaign. — He shared with me how he was burdened for the “lost sheep” – those folks who once attended church, but now have chosen to not participate in any way. In his heart, he felt that his church needed to make every effort to bring as many of these “wounded souls” back into the flock as possible.
Of course, my first thought was that Jesus shared the same burden. In His teachings, He expressed in Matthew 18:12-14 the parable of the lost sheep. 
What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.”
Certainly, any time we share the same passion as Jesus, how could it be wrong?
But first, I think we need to look at why people leave in the first place — why they just walk away from their church, rarely to return.
Certainly we can look briefly at some of the obvious reasons such as doctrinal differences, internal politics, or simply the “human” conditions that cause lost or broken friendships and wounds that seem too deep to heal — but more importantly, I think the real reason for this exodus from the church is because we’ve gone away from the true word of God. The Bible and its foundational teachings are absent so there is no real substance to help overcome the problems that the enemy creates.  — Let’s never forget that Satan wants nothing more than to see people sitting in their homes rather than fellowshipping with Christian brothers and sisters.
Before we go any further, let’s look at what Jesus taught concerning the condition of the seeds. In Matthew 13:3-9 the Parable of the Sower shows us what will take place.
Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear.”
In the first instance, we see seeds that fell along the path. — And what happened? The birds ate them. — These seeds remind me of those who’ve either chosen not to pursue God or have attempted but received no foundation, no exposure, no substance, no training, no soil — and quickly perished. Scripture says in Mark 4:12: 
...so that,
   ” ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
      and ever hearing but never understanding;
   otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’
Second, we see the seeds that fell in rocky places where there was little soil. These seeds are those that seek and then flourish for a moment, but the minute any adversity comes their way, they also quickly fall away and perish. — Again, there is no foundation — no roots deep enough to help them stand in times of trial. – Matthew 7:26-27 says, 
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.
Thirdly, we watch the seeds that fell among the thorns — and were choked off by them. These seeds remind me of those who have, or are participating in some form of worship, but have been misled or deceived by all the outside influences that exist today. Certainly the world is one of the influences. James 4:4 says, 
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
Another is false doctrine. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 states, 
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.
– Also, 1 Timothy 4:1 says,
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.
Continuing, 1Timothy 6:20-21 goes on to say,
Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith.
I, along with many others of the faith, have warned about these dangers in today’s church. With the growing acceptance of alternative lifestyles and compromise, those “seeds” without a strong foundation will be choked off by these thorns that represent deception. – To sum it up, Matthew 7:21-23 says 
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
And finally, we see the seeds that fell in the good soil. This is obviously those of us who’ve either received or taught ourselves the truths of our savior’s kingdom. We are the seeds who have the foundations to weather whatever storms come our way. We are equipped to handle the storms of life.
Now lets go back to what we were discussing in the beginning — Pastor Dave’s vision of bringing the “lost sheep” back into the fold.
But before we begin this process, we must first look at what we have to offer these wounded souls. We must remember why they left in the first place, and not set ourselves up to repeat the same failed process. — Let’s face it, attendance in today’s churches is, for the most part, stagnant or declining. — It’s simply because we’ve lost the passion and joy of what it is to be in love with Jesus.
Tragically, many leaders in today’s churches believe that if they can “get them to attend church, the we have them.” — Nothing could be further from the truth! — To prove this, George Barna, a Christian pollster, showed that after the 9/11 attack, many unbelievers flocked into the church for about six-eight weeks. But when they looked around and saw what was – or wasn’t happening, they soon returned home to stay.
So what will make the difference?! What does the church need to do to change this?! Once again, let’s go to scripture.
The best example is in Acts 2:42-47:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
What do we see here? What did they do that changed the world?!
◆ First — They devoted themselves to teaching — they built the foundation (good soil) to weather the storms — (Remember, they were under tremendous persecution and still survived and grew!)
◆ Second — Fellowship. They ate and prayed together. (We don’t seem to have time for this anymore.)
◆ Third — In awe of God! — And because of this, many signs and wonders were experienced. (How often do we see this today?)
◆ Fourth — All were together and had everything in common. They knew each other. (Again, sometimes two hours on Sunday a.m. is all we have time for.)
◆ Fifth — Needs were met — Things were bought and sold to take care of each other.
◆ Sixth — Met together — daily in church or at homes — praying and eating and rejoicing together – enjoying the favor of all the people.
◆ Seventh — Their numbers grew — and more and more were being saved! (Is there anything more important than this?)
In conclusion, Pastor Dave’s vision is a good and honorable challenge and I believe more churches need to share in this. — However, the church needs to be prepared, in advance, to rise up to this challenge.
How do we do it? – The “Acts” church showed us how! — They simply lived by the simple truths of scripture — they didn’t just talk it!
Finally, Jesus says in Mark 12:30-31,
“…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. ‘There is no commandment greater than these.”
If we simply do this, the rocks will be moved and the thorns will die and these seeds will thrive — and there will be rejoicing in the Kingdom!
Until next time,
Red
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