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The dangerous sin of Indifference

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Now, just the mention of the “S” word is a complete turn off to most people today, of this there can be little doubt. That three letter word conjures up other words such as judgement, guilt, and condemnation. None of which are exactly going to have people clamoring to read this post.

I get it.

Speaking of the “S” word, most Christians are aware of what Jesus referred to as the Unpardonable Sin, the blasphemy of the Holy Ghost. According to Jesus, every conceivable type of sin can be forgiven except this one. [1]

That may come as quite a surprise to those who see God as a ‘Grandpa’ figure that winks at every rebellious act of his grandchildren.

While often misunderstood, this statement makes it very clear that this should not be taken lightly, and to say that this is the single most dangerous sin that could be committed would not be an understatement.

There is another one of those “S” words to be avoided that I believe to be of equal importance today, and while not necessarily dooming the offender for all of eternity, nevertheless is of such importance that I believe it merits our attention.

I’m referring to the sin of indifference found in Revelation chapter 3. This is where Jesus confronts the church of Laodicea for their lukewarm condition. So important was this to Jesus that he said that because they were neither hot or cold, but lukewarm, he would vomit them out of his mouth if they did not repent. [2]

That’s because the church of Laodicea lacked a certain key element in their devotion to Christ, and that missing ingredient was passion. Thinking they had it all, Jesus had to remind them that he knew their works, and that they were lacking some very important things.

Imagine Jesus showing up at your church next Sunday and telling you that!

The Laodicean church was a very prosperous church. They were a church on the move. They were the church that didn’t need anyone or anything. If any church knew how to ‘do church’, it was this one. They had it all figured out. No bake sales and building funds needed here, that’s for sure.

They had a major problem though, which was that they were simply going through the motions of ‘doing church’. On the surface, they appeared to be “blessed and highly favored” (a newish term I personally find somewhat arrogant, but that’s another post).

If you haven’t figured it out by now, the Son of God has a real problem with His church not being totally dependent upon him. It’s true because when we become self-reliant, we act as though He doesn’t exist.

Here in America many of our churches are are blinded by the sin of indifference just like the church of Laodicea was. Speaking in broad terms here, our churches are ridiculously wealthy when compared with those in other countries, and what has this gained us?

Has our religious wealth bought us a closer walk with the Lord? Have our overflowing coffers stemmed the tide of worldliness that is so pervasive in our churches today? Have our riches enabled us to mount a successful counter attack against the evils of society? Are our collective billions eliminating hunger, drug abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking, or the homeless problem?

We all know the answer to these questions is a resounding NO. Just as the church of Laodicea found their riches to be their undoing, so it is with many of our own churches today. In essence we, like the Laodicean church, are rich and increased with goods, but are unaware of our own nakedness and blindness before the Lord. [3]

The Church was never intended to be like this. Even a cursory look at the book of Acts reveals that the true mission of the Church was to go and make disciples. [4] It was never intended that the church become fat and lazy, content to rest upon its laurels. God’s Church was always supposed to be a doing Church!

God has warned us in many ways that this would happen as the church crept closer to the time when Jesus would come the second time. He warned us through his word  and he warned us through the mouth of his servants. [5]

Consider the following response to a questionnaire from a major US newspaper in the latter part of the 19th century. This paper had sent out a question to many of the prominent people of the day, and it just so happened that the founder of the Salvation Army was given the question. Below is his reply to “what are the chief dangers that confront the coming century?”.

“The chief dangers which confront the coming century will be Religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, Forgiveness without Repentance, Salvation without Regeneration, Politics without God, and Heaven without Hell”. [6]

Amazingly, every point that William Booth made well over 100 years ago has come to pass, both in the Church and in our present society. Allowed to fester unchecked, this is what the sin of indifference brings: a counterfeit Church.

We do not however, serve a counterfeit God. Far from it! The God we serve is “able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that works in us“. [7] For this very reason, I believe that from within this present day Laodicean church the Lord is raising up a people that will once again trust Him to do what he said he would do.

Beloved, we serve a God who knows our very thoughts. So intimately does He know us that he hears the cry of our heart. In fact, he has numbered every hair upon our heads! This is how deeply our covenant relationship with Christ runs.

All around us is despair, ruin, and fear. Yet we are urged onward by the One who abides within us, for greater is He that is within us than he that is in the world. That my friends is the promise of God. Our walk with God is not dependent on the circumstances around us, for God is above all.

My prayer this Lords day is that we would shake off the heavy bands of indifference and press towards the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus. Call upon the Lord to renew the passion you once had for Him. Replace the cloak of lukewarmness with the fire of the Holy Spirit and see what the Lord will do in your church and in your life!

Be blessed,

Ron

[1] Matthew 12:31

[2] Revelation 3:16

[3] Revelation 3:17

[4] Matthew 28: 19,20

[5] 1st Timothy 4: 1-3

[6] William Booth, Salvation Army

[7] Ephesians 3:20

The very same Jesus

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For all of the talk about the demise of Christianity, it is interesting to note that Christianity remains the largest religious group in the world among people who lay claim to some form of religion.

Of course, we know that within Christianity there are dozens of different denominations, as well as hundreds of offshoots of these mainline denominations.

Additionally, there is no way to measure the sincerity of one’s relationship with Jesus. Is every person attending church really a Christian? Who but God can say?

As confusing as all of this sounds, it is important to point out that there is one central truth that binds all Christians, churches, and denominations together.

Jesus Christ is the head of the church.

Denominational and personal beliefs aside, this is an immutable, non-negotiable fact.

To the unsaved world, however, Jesus is typically viewed as just another historical figure, or at best some type of prophet, or religious wise man, one who long ago died and faded into obscurity.

It is this mindset that I want to delve into with this post. This worldly perception of Jesus, that he existed from an historical perspective only, is unfortunately alive and well in the church today.

It’s true, we Christians sometimes have a tendency to think of Jesus as was instead of is. Perhaps this is because we are constantly being inundated with worldly viewpoints on the person of Jesus. TV shows for example, are notorious for portraying Jesus in the past tense.

In the rare instance when they might mention the resurrection of Jesus, it almost always comes with the obligatory wink wink. Their thoughts of course are that no intelligent person really believes in that resurrection stuff.

So, it isn’t too difficult to understand why Christians can sometimes lean towards the world’s viewpoint, especially if we focus more on the world’s opinions than the truth of God’s word.

This is why we might hear someone say something to the effect of “if only Jesus were here today” when reflecting upon the current conditions of our world. They are thinking of Jesus as was instead of is!

So many times I hear believers talk as though Jesus is a million miles away, abiding comfortably in some far off galaxy called Heaven, oblivious to all that is happening in our lives.

To be sure, scripture does teach that Jesus is now sitting at the right hand of the Father(Acts 2:33). But scripture also teaches that though he departed from this earth, he did not leave us alone.

Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.   John 16:7

His Spirit abides within each of us who have accepted Him as Lord and Savior. That means that the very same Jesus that walked the shores of Galilee also now abides within you.  He is NOT a million miles away from you!

I hope you caught that. The very same Jesus….

Why should any of this matter to you, and why is it something to think about?

Look at it this way: the next time you call upon the Lord, would it make a difference in how you approach Him if you understood that he was in fact already abiding within your heart?

What if the next time you think to yourself “if only Jesus were actually present here with me”, you approached the situation from the position of “Jesus, I know you are with me. You said that you would never leave me or forsake me, and that you were a very present help in the time of trouble”? (Hebrews 13:5, Psalm 46:1)

Would that not change your perspective? Of course it would! Instead of wringing our hands in desperation, wishing and hoping, we acknowledge his presence by affirming our faith and trust in him!

The Christian church today must have a fresh revelation of who Jesus is, not who he was. We must recapture the truth of the ages that Jesus Christ is alive forevermore, and he resides in our hearts!

My prayer is that we would have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church today. God’s word is alive, it is anointed, and it is inspired.

It is speaking to us today, revealing the risen Savior to the lost and hopeless. May we open our hearts to know that the very same Jesus that walked the shores of Galilee some two thousand years ago is alive and abiding in our hearts this very day!

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

Too stubborn for God

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If you had to name the one attribute of YOU that you wish you could change, it’s likely that stubbornness would be at or near the top of your list. Seriously, read the definition below, and for a real eye-opener read the synonyms as well. Do you see yourself in any of these words?

Having or showing dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.
synonyms: obstinateheadstrongwillfulstrong-willedpigheadedobduratedifficultcontraryperverserecalcitrantinflexibleiron-willeduncompromisingunbending.

See what I mean? Not a very flattering picture, is it? Yet I must confess that my name should be written right alongside the definition of ‘stubborn’. Might I find yours there as well?

There was a man in the Bible that also wore the moniker of stubborn. His name was Saul, the very 1st king of Israel.

King Saul was given a very specific assignment to attack the armies of the Amalekites, a people who had dealt treacherously with Israel by ambushing them when Israel came out of Egypt. Per the word of the Lord, it was now payback time.

The problem was that king Saul only partially obeyed God. Instructed to utterly destroy every trace of the Amalekites, Saul and his men instead kept for themselves the best of the spoil.

But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed1st Samuel 15:9

There is a key word here that you don’t want to miss: unwilling. Saul and his men were unwilling to fully obey the command of God. Do you know that when someone is unwilling to do something, that the decision not to do it is a choice?

Think about it this way; if you are willing to do a thing, you don’t think twice about it. You just do it. Being unwilling however means you had to make a conscious choice not to do it. See the difference?

That’s what Saul did on that fateful day. He knew what he was told to do, what he was supposed to do. He was simply unwilling to obey once he saw all of the good things that were his for the taking. Only they weren’t his for the taking!

All of this incurred the wrath of God. So angry was the Lord over this, that he sent the prophet Samuel to go and confront king Saul and tell him that because of his disobedience, God would take the throne from him and give it to someone better than he.

Here are the words that Samuel spoke to Saul.

Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
He also has rejected you from being king.”  1st Samuel 15:22,23

What Samuel was telling Saul here was that God placed a much higher value on obedience to His word than any burnt offering or sacrifice. He then calls out two traits of Saul that God hates: rebellion and stubbornness, equating the sins of witchcraft and idolatry to them. In case you’re wondering, those two sins were about as bad is it could get. In fact, either of them could cause you to be put to death.

Saul was too stubborn to be used of God. All the Lord wanted him to do was simply complete the assignment he had been given. Saul, however, thought he had a better plan. Isn’t that the hallmark of stubborn people? They (we) always have a better way of doing things, or so it would seem.

How many of us can look in the rear-view mirror and say ‘if only I had listened to the word of God’….? This should cause all of us to take a look inward and see if stubbornness has taken root in us.

Stubbornness is actually an outward expression of an inward rebellion that is at work in our hearts, and it must be defeated if we are going to move forward in our walk with God. Prayer, the study of God’s word, and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit are the weapons God has given us to defeat this enemy called stubbornness.

Let’s use them, in Jesus name!

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

 

While America Rages Within…

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God is still calling…

Still drawing us by the power of the Holy Spirit…

Still reaching out to this lost world…

In the midst of a world gone crazy, He has not given up on us…

And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold”.   Matthew 24:12

While men grow colder and more distant, there is a God who asks us to simply surrender…

To surrender our will and take up our cross daily…

To follow Him…

Is your desire to know Him more?

These are desperate times…

Are you desperate for Him?

These are times when we need God’s safety and security…

While America is on the verge of imploding…

Here I am, down on my knees again…

Surrendering…

Is God really doing a “New Thing”?

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You hear preachers say it all the time: ‘God’s doing a New Thing today’. This implies that the hearer should be expecting God to do something great, something that has never been done before.

In preacher circles, this is what is known as a cheer-leading statement, one used to elicit an exciting response from the crowd. After all, most people like to be in on a new thing coming down the road. And what could be bigger and more exciting than God Himself doing something new?

If you were to Google “God is doing a new thing”, it would bring up about 170 million results. You can take your pick from memes, rap songs, sermons, and videos. In other words, there’s something for everybody!

See, I told you people really want to be in on a new thing!

I have heard this repeated so many times in church from so many different preachers that I’ve lost track. Where does this statement come from, and what does it really mean? And who is it speaking to anyway?

Well, the phrase is part of a verse of scripture found in the Old Testament book of Isaiah. In context, this verse belongs with verses 43:16-28 in which God reminds Israel that it was He who delivered them from bondage, and it would be He who would bring them back from exile.

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. Isa. 43:19

This verse speaks specifically to the Jews. It does not speak to the church, nor does it speak to individual Christians. There is nothing prophetic about it apart from their soon return from Babylon. It was spoken to the nation of ancient Israel. Period.

It’s incredible how we Christians will take a verse here and there and somehow invent a new doctrine, as is the case with the above verse. Then again, we are living in the time when Paul said that men would turn their ears from the truth.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.  II Tim. 4:3, 4

Yet this does bring up an interesting question, at least in my mind. Why are God’s people always looking for the ‘next big thing’?

Why do we constantly need to be told that God is up to something? It seems that some believe that unless we are fed a steady diet of ‘new things’ we will lose interest and begin to drift away.

Which begs the question…

What is wrong with us?

Here’s what I think. I think if we were to humble our hearts, commit to seek His face on a daily basis, spend quality time alone with him in prayer, and study to show ourselves approved unto God, we would find that we would never need to look for the ‘next big thing’.

Our lives would be so full of excitement and enthusiasm coming directly from the Holy Spirit that we would no longer need to hear about ‘a new thing’.

We would be living it every day!

Now that’s something to get excited about!

Be blessed!

Ron

 

 

Which is better,being perfect or being anointed?

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A week or so ago my wife and I were asked to sing a song at the new church we’ve been attending for the past few weeks. Being thrilled for the opportunity, we gladly accepted the Pastor’s invitation. We chose an older song that was both familiar to us and one that my wife thought would bless those in attendance.

After practicing the song a few times at home we were ready by the time the mid-week service rolled around on Wednesday. The only music was me on the guitar, and due to some issues with my guitar’s pickup I wasn’t able to amplify it but had to play through a microphone. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but in this case I was not able to hear it clearly while we were singing.guitar sunset

To make a long story short, I stumbled a few times both while singing and playing. The worst was when I tried to play and sing a particular note but because I couldn’t hear it well enough, my fingers went one way and my voice another. Huge embarrassment right there!

Anyway, we got through it and took our seats. Much to my great surprise a lady whom we didn’t know came to us and shared that that particular song was exactly what she needed to hear. Soon, others also expressed their appreciation for our heartfelt song.

Meanwhile, in musicministry-v3spite of all the wonderful comments, yours truly was none too happy over his poor performance. Which brings me to the thought behind this post.

I beat myself up for several days because I was embarrassed at not hitting the right notes, so much so that the resident Princess reminded me that being perfect seemed to be more important to me than ministering to someone’s need.

Ummm…OUCH!

I knew exactly what she was getting at. Rather than permitting the Lord to work through us to minister to a hurting heart, imperfect as our song was, I wanted instead to display perfection in our capabilities. Did you get that…OUR capabilities?

Now, don’t get me wrong,  I believe we should do our best no matter what avenue of ministry we’re working in. To be sure, our version of the song that night would not win any contests, but what it lacked in perfection, it made up for that in that it touched someone’s heart.

When you get right down to it, isn’t that what ministry does? It reaches the heart and does the work of the Holy Spirit, a work that we ourselves cannot do. It is only when we yield ourselves to the Spirit that He is able to accomplish what needs to be done.The-Ministry-of-the-Holy-Spirit

All of us have been called to minister in one way or another. In fact, Peter tells us that “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God“.   1 Peter 4:10

My prayer is that I will get out of His way and permit Him to do what He knows needs to be done. If that involves a sour note or two, what does it matter so long as the end result is someone being strengthened in their walk with the Lord?

Have a blessed day!

Ron

 

The Missing Piece of The Puzzle

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Salvation. Isn’t that our end goal, to spend eternity with the Lord and all the saints who have gone before us? Well of course it is you say, why on earth do you think I call myself a Christian if I didn’t believe that there is a heavenly home awaiting me?

I have observed something very odd, or curious, in the church today. Something that has probably always been there yet I hadn’t thought much about it until lately. It’s the phenomenon of salvation without repentance. Think about this for a few moments. There are a great number of well intentioned folks out there knocking on doors, greeting people on the sidewalk, grocery store, and yes the church, whose purpose is to win sinners to the kingdom of God. That is awesome my friend.

It goes something like this: “Hi there. My name is Ron and I’d like to ask you a question. Are you a sinner? You are? Well, did you know that Jesus died on the cross for your sins? You do? Great, now will you receive Him into your heart as Lord and Savior? You will? Fantastic! You are saved! You are a Christian! The word of God declares that you are saved!

Of course this is a very simplified account and I use it here to prove a point. Do you see anything missing from the above encounter? Was there any mention of repentance? Where is the work of the Holy Spirit in my little evangelistic outreach? Do you suppose that one reason why we see so many start out for Christ but fade away is because there has never been a repentant heart?

What I’m trying to say is this: except the Lord draw us how can we be saved? It is one thing to say that I am a sinner, it is quite another thing to experience the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. The result of all this is that we have people believing something (without knowing what they believe). They have never experienced the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration.

That’s the missing piece of the puzzle. That’s what I’ve been observing.

How about you?

Ron