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Sometime’s your vision just needs to be cleared

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Have you ever given thought to how easily we can become complacent in just about every aspect of our lives?

For example, how many times on our jobs are we simply going through the motions? We’ve done it the same way so many times that now we don’t even have to think about it. We just do it, giving no thought to any new ideas or methods that may help to make the job easier or more productive. Along the way we miss things that are right in front of us, but all that matters is the doing.

Or have you ever considered the daily route you take to school or work? How many of us can remember the 1st time we took that journey? We were careful to stop when we were supposed to and turn at the right intersection, all because it was new to us. Fast forward a year and how much thought do we give to that same task? I dare say not much, if any at all. We could get there with our eyes closed.

This is what happens when complacency sets in. It clouds our vision. It destroys the anticipation of what might be. We miss new and exciting things that are right in front of us because our senses have become dull.

Did you know this very same thing happens to us in our service to the King? If we’re not careful, church becomes routine. Just another mindless task that we could simply mail in if we chose to do so. And we can definitely miss some incredible things that He has for us.

In his address to the seven churches of Revelation, Jesus confronted the apathy and complacency that had infiltrated the church near the close of the first century. No less than five of the seven churches had serious internal concerns that Jesus called attention to. [1]

  1. The church at Ephesus had lost its first love
  2. The church as Pergamos harbored those that taught false doctrines
  3. The church at Thyatira permitted false teachers to deceive God’s people
  4. The church at Sardis had become weakened to the point of death
  5. The church at Laodicea had become lukewarm to the point of being rejected

Apathy, coldness, indifference, and complacency marked these five churches. Though they all had different specific issues, they all shared a common malady: their vision of who Christ was had become dim and cloudy. They no longer saw Him for who He was.

Today, many of us are in a similar situation such as the churches of Revelation were. We do not love like we did when we first came to know the Lord. Gone is the zeal and enthusiasm for the things of God. Gone also is Christian love for one another. Worse still, many of us aren’t even aware that it’s gone.

We tolerate any teaching that comes from the pulpit because frankly we don’t really care. We don’t “fact check” what is being taught, instead we simply nod in agreement while keeping one eye on the clock. What does Biblical literacy matter anyhow, isn’t that what we pay the pastor for?

So many of our churches are on spiritual life support because they are no longer connected to the vine. Just as a severed branch will remain green for a little while, so it is with churches that have disconnected themselves from the Source of their strength. Like the church at Sardis, the grim reaper is at the door.

Without the passionate flame of the Holy Spirit continuously burning within us, we too become lukewarm and eventually cold and lifeless.

Fortunately, none of these things has to happen. Every one of them is preventable. All that’s required is to ask the Lord to help us. Ask Him to reveal to us where we are with Him.

Are we hot, cold, or lukewarm in our walk with the Lord? Do we love like we did when we first came to Christ, or do we love selectively or not at all?  Do we love the truth of God’s word, or are we content with any doctrine? Are we as connected as we once were, or are we in dire need of a Holy Ghost transfusion?

I’m praying that the Lord will open all of our eyes so that we might see ourselves exactly as he sees us. That he will remove the scales from our eyes and gives us 20/20 spiritual vision.

Be faithful to Him dear friends…

Ron

[1] Revelation chapters 1 & 2

 

 

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

Sexual abuse in the Church: has this become an acceptable sin?

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Readers of this blog are well aware that I have not shied away from taking to task the many sexual predators who are part of the Catholic Church hierarchy. Whether the abuser is a Priest, a Bishop, or a Pope, there is a seemingly endless trail of shattered and broken lives in the wake of the unprecedented abuse of the Catholic Church’s many deviant and perverted sexual predators.

That is not to say that the Catholic Church stands alone in its abuse of innocent boys and girls. Far from it. As today’s church rejects the clear teaching of God’s Word, thus becoming less Christ-like in the process, it is becoming more and more like the world, willingly taking upon it the sins and iniquities for which Christ died.

In essence, what we are witnessing today is the proverbial “I want my cake and I want to eat it too”. In other words, the Church wants to be recognized as Christ’s representative here on earth, but at the same time want to indulge itself in the vile sins of the world. Such are men and women who have had their conscious seared with a hot iron. [1]

That being said, it would be unfair of me to fail to call out these same types of predators who ‘worship’ in other churches, so today’s blog will center around the recent sexual abuse scandal that has been brought to light in the Baptist church.

Before I begin, I am well aware that this is not a popular subject. There will be no “Amens!” shouted from the pew. No one will applaud this message because the truth is most people would rather not know of these abuses in the Church.

When I speak on subjects like this, it usually generates silence. No one wants to believe that their church leader could be guilty of such heinous behavior. And besides, the attitude that some things are best left unsaid is just as alive in the church today as it always has been.

All of that aside, I recently came across an article in the Houston Chronicle that details a pattern of sexual abuse in Baptist churches in Texas going as far back as 1998. In that time, approximately 380 Southern Baptist church leaders and volunteers have faced allegations of sexual misconduct for their abuse of over 700 victims.  [2]

The pattern of sexual perverion and abuse in these Baptist churches differs little from that which is taking place in the Catholic Church. Indeed, a summary of the article linked above details a very similar approach to sexual abuse.

“Many of the victims were adolescents who were molested, sent explicit photos or texts, exposed to pornography, photographed nude, or repeatedly raped by youth pastors. Some victims as young as 3 were molested or raped inside pastors’ studies and Sunday school classrooms. A few were adults — women and men who sought pastoral guidance and instead say they were seduced or sexually assaulted.”

So, a reasonable person might wonder what in the world is going on here? These are not isolated incidences of a rogue minister gone bad. This is a clear and established pattern of sexual corruption and abuse. This is also a very clear testimony to the fact that these ‘ministers’ are wolves in sheeps clothing, unregenerate in heart.

How can such things be permitted to happen, or better yet how could these predators have been allowed to remain in positions of power and authority?

One of the answers to those questions, and there are many, is that there is an expectation that members of the church, in particular the clergy, will conduct themselves in such a manner as to exhibit the highest moral and ethical behavior possible. They are,after all, supposedly representing God as they fulfill the duties of their position.  [3]

That is the expectation at least, one I believe that is shared by most.

Because the expectation is that the clergy will always take the high road, it can be difficult for laypersons to believe that any of them could actually be capable of committing such acts of sexual violence against our childeren. Thus, it makes it easier to either disregard an allegation or choose to simply look the other way when confronted with the evidence.

Disregarding ANY allegation however is completely unacceptable, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. I can think of no place where this should be permitted, most certainly not the Church. Choosing to look the other way in the face of sexual abuse allegations is tantamount to saying “I don’t care”.

Every single sexual abuse allegation MUST be investigated to the full extent of the law, and perpetrators found guilty must be punished according to the same extent of the law. Anyone found guilty of covering up sexual abuse in the church is just as guilty as the perpetrator, and MUST share in the guilt of the offender and must also be punished accordingly.

Beloved, these things are taking place because the Church, just like the world in which she abides, is systematically severing its relationship with the Almighty. Having convinced itself that it is above reproach, there is nothing off limits to it as she seeks to disregard the clear admonition of scripture to “come out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing…”. [4]

Church leaders of every denomination would do well to read again the words of Jesus as he spoke to the Laodicean church this warning:

So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.” Rev. 3:16-19

Rest assured, the day is coming when every deed will be judged. No one will escape the judgement seat of Christ. Not Catholic, Baptist, or any other religious person.

In that day, Jesus said that he would separate the sheep on his right hand from the goats on his left hand. Many will be shocked to see those they had held in high esteem being ordered to stand with the goats, as their sins will be made known to all. [5]

God’s Church deserves better then this. Jesus Christ was mocked, beaten, and whipped until nearly dead. Forced to carry the instrument of his own impending death, He staggered through the streets until reaching the place of execution. Without hesitation He allowed his hands and feet to be nailed to the Cross, after which He was elevated above the earth so all could see Him. Hanging there naked, blood pouring out of his body, he became the Supreme Sacrifice for the sins of all men.

This is the True Leader of the Church! I submit to you that any man or woman who is guilty of perverse sexual sin against His Church, has never had an encounter with Him!

Ron

 

[1] 1 Timothy 4:2

[2]https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/investigations/article/Southern-Baptist-sexual-abuse-spreads-as-leaders-13588038.php?fbclid=IwAR2BdtoC8nvXuizrZhBcvQ5vAz9AA8lgWGltfCZDnDO1BAsQPcDEpwFH4VM

[3] Titus 1:7

[4] 2 Corinthians 6:17

[5] Matthew 25:32-46

 

Driving a square peg into a round hole

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“Not wanting to appear judgmental, we mistakenly try to make biblical truth fit the culture around us.”   A.W. Tozer

What an astounding statement made by the Rev. A.W. Tozer regarding the Christian Church. Especially so, considering Rev. Tozer passed away in 1963!

We can only imagine what he would think were he alive today, seeing as how the Church has wandered so much further into compromise and the worldliness which he foresaw as the Church’s greatest impending threat of his time.

To be sure, no one wants to hear about subjects that prick the heart, yet it is necessary to bring them to light. God has always demanded that His truths be shouted from the roof tops! If you doubt this, might I suggest a cursory read through the Major Prophets of the Bible?

With a keen awareness of how much emphasis is put upon blending in with society, the Church bends, twists, and does back flips all in the name of relevancy so that she may maintain some semblance of importance to a culture largely devoid of the knowledge of God. All in the name of not wanting to be seen as judgmental, of course.

Isn’t it strange that for nearly 2000 years the Church did not concern itself with how the outside world perceived it, while now the opposite is true? For nearly twenty centuries the focus of the Church was on faithfulness to God. Now…not so much.

This is a travesty unlike anything we have seen in recent times. For the last 50-75 years the Church has been so consumed with the process of reinventing itself in order to become more like the world, that for all intents and purposes she has ceased to be The Church.

Indeed, despite the command to come out of the world, the Church has rebranded itself to be nearly indistinguishable from the world. And this world is suffering greatly because of it.

It is no different than taking the square peg and driving it into a round hole. On the surface,these are not a match for each other. However, if you get a bigger hammer and drive the peg harder, eventually some semblance of “fit” comes into being. It isn’t pretty, and a keen eye will certainly notice that something is amiss with this “match”. But hey, we made it work!

Oh, for certain it is religious, but it is an anemic counterfeit of the once powerful Church that was founded upon the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Having prostituted itself with erroneous doctrine that tickles the hearers ear, it is unable or unwilling to stand solely upon the truth of God’s Word.

The Word, after all, is offensive to the masses. It always has been.

On that note, let anyone dare bring to light the current state of backslidden Christianity, and he will soon find himself the target of legions of modernist churchmen and liberal theologians who think that God has instituted a new plan for the Church of today.

If anyone dare mention the deplorable condition of this Laodicean Church they are immediately branded as divisive, judgmental, a bigot, and a host of other not so pleasant names.

I say this with all sincerity, but in case you haven’t noticed, the Church is under an attack of biblical proportions. No longer is the Bible considered the standard for living. No indeed, that antiquated way of thinking has been replaced with an “anything goes” mindset.

And I’m referring to the Church, not the world!

Our churches no longer proclaim the Word of God, but rather a fashionable “gospel light” that is designed to be easy on the ears and even easier on the conscience. Can’t have the Word bringing conviction to our unregenerate hearts, now can we? No indeed, not if we are to become “one” with our culture.

How in the world did things get this way? Well, the prophet Isiah had a pretty good idea what contributed to the downfall of Israel, and I think it sums up the condition of the Church as well.

There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.    Isaiah 64:7

When people, God’s people, fail to call upon Him the end result is what you see all around you. The Church has a form of Godliness, but lacks the power of God to do the work it has been called to do. Why does the Church not rouse itself from its slumber and call upon the name of the Lord? Read on for the answer!

Just as Paul prophesied, society, and that includes the Church, has succumbed to the Spirit of the age.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,”                 2 Timothy 4:3 ESV

No longer do men of God stand boldly in their pulpits, armed with the Sword of the Spirit and the unadulterated Word of God. No, our pulpits are manned by hirelings who have not come prepared to do battle, but instead have armed themselves with the latest gimmickry in order to appease the masses who are clamoring for yet another “feel good about me” sermonette.

Throw away that outdated bible! It is a cancer in the minds of those who wish to create their own version of utopia. God is no longer needed, for we have within our ranks carefully chosen leaders who will show us a better way. After all, we have evolved beyond the need for Godly instruction, as man is now god of his own destiny.

From where I sit on the front row, I see an impending, catastrophic implosion of what we call the Church. What survives will be the last day remnant, or the real Church, that is fervently praying and looking for the return of our Lord Jesus.

Driving a square peg into a round hole accomplishes nothing. It doesn’t fit,nor are they designed to accommodate each other. It is wholly unnatural. Like the Church trying to be like the world.

Or like the Church,drifted apart from its Anchor.

If you made it this far….thank you. My purpose is not to offend, but rather to awaken the Church from the stupor that has engulfed it.

May the Lord richly bless you is my prayer,

Ron

 

 

 

This is What Happens When God Has Left the Building

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I have wrestled for weeks over whether or not to post this.Actually,anguish is a far better descriptor than wrestle.I have literally paced the floor over this.I have written it and then rewritten it at least six times.I set it on the shelf hoping it would disappear or somehow delete itself.Which, of course, it didn’t.

It is not my intent to offend,but rather to call attention to an unfolding tragedy.So with that out of the way,and apologies for the length of this post…

Sometimes it seems as though I’m setting in a room watching a movie,or more accurately a horror film,as I watch,listen,and observe our society in action.

From the humble beginnings of a people desperately searching for something better a scant two and a half centuries ago,we have morphed into a society our forefathers would never have imagined.Could never have imagined.

Sometimes I want to scream from the tallest building”what in the world has happened to us!”.

Even the most ardent,forward thinking framers of the Constitution could never have envisioned the nightmare that has now enveloped us.Were it not unfolding right in front of us it would be all but unbelievable.

My ancestors and yours,many of whom risked their lives to come to America,would hardly have thought of making the journey to come here had they envisioned the debacle which is now America.

The greatest symbol of freedom and democracy the world has ever known has been corrupted by it’s own success,and now more closely resembles the tyrannical empires of the past more than the beacon of hope she used to be.

Let’s be honest here,America is out of control. Not “spinning out of control”,which would infer that it is still possible to regain control. No,we are completely out of control.And we are spiraling into an abyss from which there can be no escape lest we repent and return to God.

If you’re like me and wondering how this could have happened,I offer this simple but poignant observation: We have all been willing partakers in this tragedy!

By our own actions,or lack of action,we all must share the blame.The Hell borne efforts to rid this nation of it’s dependence upon God are now firmly entrenched in our culture,so much so that God is a stranger in America today.

All all of us have blood on our hands.

We Christians have not prayed enough.We have not loved enough.We set idly by while millions every day depart this life for an eternity separated from God.Doomed.Damned.And we feel nothing for them! No burden felt for the lost,no empathy for those outside the Ark of safety.Nothing.

Think of all the time,money,and effort that the adversary has been spent on campaigns to reduce God to an afterthought at best.God defying court decisions,every imaginable wickedness and evil in high places. All have played a key part in the systematic overthrow of the conscious of this nation.We are numb.

for-we-wrestle-not-against-flesh-and-blood-but-against-principalities-against-powers-against-the-rulers-of-the-darkness-of-this-world-against-spiritual-wickedness-in-high-places

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The end result is an endless stream of blood in our streets. Murder rages out of control.Unconscionable  violence rarely causes an eyebrow to raise.

We are overwhelmed with a drunken,drug induced society incapable of righting itself in spite of incalculable dollars spent in hopes of rectifying the problems.

Democrats.Republicans.Independents.Two party. Three party.All have promised us that they have the answers.All have failed because at best all they can do is apply limited interventions,or bandaids to spiritual problems encased in darkness.

ch-5-political-parties-1-638

Slideshare.net

We are angry.Our collective voices ring loudly with the sounds of outrage.We rail against our government,this government of the people,by the people,for the people.

Contentment among us is a foreign concept.Divisiveness is the new commonality that binds us!

 

Indeed,implosion seems inevitable.

We have been blinded by the light.Not that Light,but this one: And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light”.    II Cor. 11:14

The god of this world has invaded our homes,our schools,our government,and yes especially our churches.Satan has ripped apart our society right in front of us,and we allowed it to happen with hardly a whimper.

God was declared out of touch with the new reality a long time ago. He became an unfashionable relic from a bygone era that must be dealt with in order for the hip,progressive and destructive agenda Satan devised for America to culminate in the travesty we now see before us.

And we,the church,did next to nothing to stem the tide. In our rush to become more like the world instead of separating ourselves from the world as we are taught in scripture(II Cor. 6:17),we the church are as guilty if not more so than the heathen we love to rail against.

Our pastors and church leaders have bowed the knee to Baal,to the great god compromise

compromise

theology.geek.nz

in order to distance themselves from the stigma of holiness and righteousness.We who sit in the pew each Sunday have clamored for teachers that will tell us stories that appease the conscious,all the while soundly rejecting the Gospel message as too strict and cumbersome.

This Christian way is too strict,they say,echoing the words of our Lord(Matt. 7:13,14). We want an easier path to follow,one that won’t cost us anything.

Considering all that has been said so far,and if you are still reading this,I have an announcement to make.One that I have agonized over for several weeks. One I take no joy in proclaiming and do not wish to make.

God Has Left The Building.

If He hasn’t,then why doesn’t He hear us? Could it be that we have become so used to this new normative of evil that we no longer care enough to cry out to Him? Has our collective conscious been seared with the proverbial hot iron(I Tim. 4:2)? Are we utterly incapable of determining right and wrong?

Has the line between good and evil become so blurred as to be nearly invisible to the masses? Where is the outrage from the church in America? Forget a National Day of Prayer. We are desperately in need of a National Day of Repentance!

Our pastors and church leaders are needed on the front lines of this battle,but they are nowhere to be found.Where are the voices from our pulpits declaring that we have offended a Holy God by our actions? Where is the call for repentance? It would seem that the sheep have been abandoned on the hillside to fend for themselves!

wpid-where-is-the-shepherd

Danhevor.wordpress.com

But Wait!

It can’t be that bad can it? Nothing is ever as bad as it seems.It will get better,it always does.Sure, we may have fallen a bit but we’ll turn it around.

After all,we just elected someone who promised to make America great again didn’t we? As if any man or woman can cure what ails this once proud nation.

I know many that maintain that America,  at less than 250 years old, is too young to die.I appreciate that sentiment. I understand where they’re coming from.No one likes to admit what I’m stating here.It’s not popular.It’s not good news.It reeks of despair and uncertainty.I will win exactly zero friends by posting this and no doubt incur the wrath of many.

I would counter the “America is too young to die”outcry with this: America is already dead.In fact,death occurred some time ago when America became “rich and in need of nothing”. She just hasn’t accepted it yet.Or perhaps remains willingly blind to her condition.

Because you say,‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…”   Rev 3:17

As I stated,we are blinded by the light from the deceiver who has positioned himself as truth.And we have bought it. Hook. Line. And Sinker.

And our silence is deafening.

Surely our decision making abilities (or lack thereof) must cause bewilderment in heaven!

No rational,sane Christian can argue that we are living in the Laodicean age of the church. The age of the great falling away.The age of compromise and rebellion against spiritual authority.Against the Ultimate Authority.

1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:

2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,

4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

5 having a form of godliness but denying its power   II Tim 3:1-5

Dangerous or perilous for who? Certainly for everyone.Specifically for Christians.To the watchful eye,every single one of these traits is evident in America today.And it’s about to get uglier than we ever imagined.

We are beginning to reap what we have sown.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.Gal 6:7

Serious students of the Bible know full well what has happened to the nation of Israel who,though blessed mightily by God,forsook Him for other gods.Israel,God’s own chosen people,was eventually consumed by the sinful lifestyle they willingly chose to follow after. One hundred percent of them suffered the consequences. No exceptions.No escape.

proverbs29-1

Lighthousetrailsresearch.com

This,it pains me to say, is America’s destiny.The destiny that we ourselves have plotted.We have chosen our own path rather than follow the path chosen for us by God Himself.

As terrifying as it sounds,the upcoming acts of this catastrophic drama are soon to play out one by one,and rest assured,there will be a final act.The curtain is going to close on all we hold dear.

How can we be so sure this is going to happen? Because God has done all that He could to restore humanities broken relationship with Himself. And we have counted it as nothing.We have cast the sacrifice of His Son aside and trampled his blood under our feet(Heb. 10:29). God will not remain silent.He never has.

So is there no Hope?

Absolutely! As long as there is breath in us we have hope! God Almighty will see us through every upcoming scene.For the Christian who has placed their trust in the Lord,victory is assured.No matter what happens,God is faithful to His children.

Like many of you,I cling to the promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us(Heb 13:5). As a matter of fact I’m completely dependent upon His faithfulness.I trust Him completely because I have no one else in whom I can place my trust,and He has never violated that sacred trust.

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History has taught us that governments will fail.Societies will crumble.Men have always brought destruction upon themselves by the poor choices they make.It is a seemingly endless cycle.

History has also taught us something more valuable than those things.Perhaps the greatest lesson of all is this:

God may have left the building,but He will never leave YOU!

No Matter What…

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I will remember what you have done for me O God.

I have not forgotten how you spoke peace into my heart when I was at my lowest point so many years ago. Job 38:1,which I had read many times before, suddenly came alive in my heart that day when I realized that you are God even in the midst of the most violent storm. I knew at that moment you were going to rescue my soul from the waters that sought to drown me.

I have never forgotten that “encounter”.

It has sustained me and encouraged me more times than I can remember. It has left an indelible mark upon my heart,as if You knew all along that this would be a defining moment between us.A reference point that I could draw from again and again.

Like I am now.

Your word has been a constant in my life. Is it any wonder the Word of God has been described as “a lamp unto my feet”? Surely there can be no greater road map in this life than your word,a guide that directs us even in the darkest of nights. Like an old familiar friend, it always calls me back to its pages should I become slothful and inattentive to its beckoning voice.

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Through the years I have rejoiced at the transforming power of your word. I have been witness to seeing the hardest hearts melt when confronted with the message of hope and renewal found within its pages. I have seen grown men and women literally run to the alter under the convicting,yet loving wooing of the Holy Spirit.

I often marvel at what some men consider to be miraculous,or at the numbers of people seeking miracles, when by the simple act of a wayward soul repenting of their sins the angels of heaven begin to rejoice. What else can men do here on earth that causes celebration in heaven? Can anything be more miraculous than the Creator reclaiming one of His own?rejoicing-among


As much as I wish it were not so, I have also been witness to my own failures. I have faltered,fallen short on countless occasions,and no doubt disappointed many people. I find that even at this stage of my life there is still much I do not understand about this covenant relationship with our Lord. There are days when I still have more questions than answers. Is this how it is supposed to be? That this sense of wonderment about unanswered questions will serve as our own “thorn in the flesh” to keep us on our knees?

You know how hard I have tried to become one of “them”,to fit in with the crowd. I’ve joined their ranks. Several times. Sat through the classes. Studied their course materials.Taken and passed the exams. Have the sheepskin in the frame. Attended their conferences. Shook hands with the “right people”. Held titles and positions. Yet for all of that, I did not fit in. I could not bring myself to “go along to get along” when my conscious balked at the shallowness of it all. For this I am branded a “what might have been”. I’ve heard “I don’t know what to do with you” more than once.

Still,no matter what,I will remember what you have done for me O God.

I will praise you,for I remember your kindness to me these many years. Though men and denominations have long ago abandoned me,and many others like me by the side of the road,yet you remain faithful to me.Your mercy endures forever.

I confess that I struggle to understand why my phone never rings. Why my inbox remains empty. Why the invitations have all dried up. Why so many that I poured into over the years have forgotten that I exist. Could it be that since I am no longer in a position to help them ascend the ladder,I am of no value to them? The “amens”, the slaps on the back,the firm handshakes of approval,now there is nothing but silence.

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Except from you O God.I hear your voice calling out to me daily.

Actually, I do understand. I am an embarrassment to the Laodicean church of this generation. There is no place for the likes of me in a church that has become so much like the world as to be nearly indistinguishable from it. I speak the truth in love,which means I refuse to soften the message for the sake of men; to do so would be to prostitute your Word.I am an anomaly,a throwback to a long forgotten age, an age before political correctness ensnared the church in its damning choke hold. I know no other way.

I will remember what you have done for me O God.

Where you are leading me I do not know,but time has proven that I can trust you to take me safely there.How I will get there remains a mystery,yet I know that you have it all worked out.

No Matter What.

I will praise You in this storm.

 

 

 

 

Church 2016: it’s all about the numbers

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A typical week finds my email inbox filled with the usual plethora of junk mail,solicitations,the occasional plea for money from a Nigerian princess,and a host of other offers “too good to be true”. email pic

On second thought, it’s just about all junk mail these days.

I have noticed a trend however in the emails I get from various ministries,and that trend involves numbers.Lots and lots of numbers.

Here is a small sampling of what I’m talking about:

“Do you want to see your church attendance grow by 30%“?

Five Reasons Church Announcements Cause Problems”

Seven ways members can actively prepare for sermons”.

Six Components of a Strategic Church Communications Plan”

Ten Sentences That Make Pastors Cringe”

“Avoid These 5 Bad Habits that Kill Church Growth at All Costs”

35 Random Thoughts and Tips on The Reading of Books”

Seven Church Facility Trends”

Five Reasons Why the Large Single Site Church Is Declining”

Umm…I think you get the picture.

Numbers. Apparently that’s what it’s all about.

Lest you think these samples are fictitious let me assure you that they are all from nationally known ministries and various denominations.I’m really not sure why I even get some of these because I sure didn’t subscribe to all of them.Wait…that’s why it’s called spam,right?

I’m not sure what’s behind the church’s fascination with numbers,but I can tell you that it resembles the world’s obsession with growth strategies and expansion planning with an uncanny resemblance.

Coincidence maybe?

I think not. From where I sit on the front row I hear an incessant clamoring for more,more,more.

More people in the pew.

More money in the offering plate.collection-plate-370x280

More and bigger facilities.

More of everything.

Except Jesus and His love.I can’t remember the last time I heard the call go out for more of Jesus.

What’s driving this insatiable appetite for more and bigger everything in the church?

I am of the belief that our carnal,or sin nature is the driving force behind all of this.Our nature is to want more of the things of this life more than the things of God.

It’s a heart issue.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.    Luke 12:34 NKJV

The church’s treasure is no longer Christ and His glory.It is in showing to the world that it is on equal footing with it’s wealth,opulence, and abundance.

In doing so the church has aligned itself with another church we read about in Revelation chapter three,the church of Laodicea.

Long gone are the humble shepherds who care for the flock God entrusted to them.In their place are PhD’s from the business community who know how to obtain financing and create mammoth structures that reach toward the heavens,yet know precious little about matters of the heart.

I cannot help but wonder how our Lord must grieve over this present generation.He who has given unto the church the words of liberty and life surely must wonder why that is not enough.

Why is the church not satisfied?

Why must the church always have more of everything but God?

I firmly believe in organization and structure in the church.But do we really need someone to tell us how to increase attendance by 30%?

Why isn’t 2% or 4% or even 5% sufficient,especially if the growth is real growth and not yet another bunch of church hoppers looking to have their ears tickled?

Six Components of a Strategic Church Communications Plan”? Really?  How about this for a “strategic growth plan”…

“if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  2Ch 7:14 NKJV

Sounds to me like there needs to be a return to the old paths and cry aloud to a Holy God who said He would hear from heaven.

That is of course,if you’re all about the numbers….

Ron