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The Sounds of Silence in God’s House

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Have you ever felt grieved over something you cared deeply about, but had no control over? Lately, I’ve been feeling this way, like someone who just stepped out of the pages of the Old Testament.

Like Jacob of old, I have wrestled with the Lord over this post because I know as soon as it is read, I will be branded a critic of the Church. Unlike Jacob however, I have given up trying to hide my feelings any longer and admit that I am defeated.

Let me explain.

Whenever it became necessary for the Lord to deliver a message of correction to His people Israel, often He would raise up a man or woman and instruct them to go to the people and deliver the message. We refer to these servants as Prophets.

These Prophets are scattered throughout the Old Testament. Some we have labeled as “Minor Prophets” while others are called “Major Prophets”. All of them were called of God for a specific task and season in the history of Israel.

Of the many things these Prophets had in common, one was that they all shared a burden for God’s people. They bore this spiritual weight in their hearts because the people loved the pleasures of sin more than they loved God.

Oftentimes, as in the case of the Prophet Jeremiah, the magnitude of the weight they bore would reduce them to tears and cries of anguish. [1]

While I am certainly no Prophet, I can empathize with them because of something amiss among God’s people today. In fact, if I dwell on it too long, I become almost grief stricken. What is it that has me feeling this way?

It is the sound of silence in God’s house.

It is the realization that the church no longer desires revival; thus, she no longer travails in expectation of a new awakening. Rejecting the call from above to “come out from among them” [2], she has decided instead to align herself with the world, and in the process has rejected the Lord of Glory.

There is no longer a sound of weeping and anguish in the house of God over our spiritual barrenness, and the sound of this silence is deafening.

The church of Jesus Christ has married the world and thus has come under its spell. In doing so, the church is now more impacted by the world than the world is impacted by the church. Who can deny this truth?

We have sold our birthright.

I grieve because the church no longer wants God, but rather has discovered a way to carry on without Him. Remove the Holy Spirit from the church? No problem, hardly a soul will notice as we carry on with our regimented programs disguised as religion.

In our efforts to appease the masses, we have compromised all that made us unique, and our birthright has been auctioned off on the altar of pragmatism. We have copied the error of ancient Israel, who rejected the Almighty in favor of a flawed and imperfect king. [3]

I am distraught over the absence of Holy men and women of God, those who have been in His presence and now carry with them the burdens of a people gone astray. Where are those who have heard His voice, who have received the clarion call to sound the alarm and cry aloud for the church to return to its former glory? How long will they remain silent?

Incredulously, in the span of but a few generations the church has become little more than Sunday morning entertainment. Impassioned, God-inspired, soul searching sermons have given way to polished speeches that have more in common with the mantra of positive thinking than they do with the Word of God!

Instead of preparing our hearts for an encounter with the Holy One, we have created a sterile, guilt free environment where our hearts will never be pricked, and our conscious will remain unseared.

This environment is better suited for a coffee house or a nightclub, places where one never need concern themselves with being confronted with the sin that permeates their life.

We dim the lights and crank up the sound system in our efforts to mask the reality that we no longer walk in the Spirit, therefore we are resigned to manufacture a spirit of our own. The cheering thousands are proof enough that we have found the right formula.

Never mind that weeping and anguish of soul are no longer found in God’s house. The church now exists to make us feel good about ourselves, and all who enter its doors have entered a “Guilt Free Zone’. We have created a safe place where sin is never acknowledged or confronted. Come as you are and leave as you came.

We do not want revival. We do not want a return to the old paths. We do not want a fresh revelation from God as to the pitiful condition our souls are in. No, we want none of things because if we did, we would have them!

If the church wanted revival, it would have revival. It would pay any price in order to once again be endued with power from on High. But the church does not want revival because to have it means she would have to divorce herself from the harlot, worldly system it has aligned itself with.

The church is not inclined to return to the old paths, where the good way was [4]. To do so would force us to choose whether we will be hot or cold. To return to the old paths would force us from our lofty seat on the fence of mediocrity and lukewarmness, and we are quite comfortable there, aren’t we?

Instead, we want to be like the world in nearly every respect, while still calling ourselves “Christian”, and we will stop at nothing to accomplish this goal.

What has this illegitimate marriage given us? It has given us a parade of sexual predators in the church that has left untold thousands broken and bleeding in its wake.

It has given us a litany of ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ [5] disguised as clergy who reject the teachings of scripture in order to cozy up to the world, thus allowing every conceivable and base lifestyle to stand in the pulpit and declare their own twisted version of ‘truth’.

It has given us an anemic and sick substitute for Christ’s church, the very church He bled and died for. What is supposed to be His Body has been rendered powerless to stem the tide of sin and degradation that has enveloped it.

Such a church has forfeited its birthright and is no longer Christ’s representative on the earth. It is a counterfeit, and the deafening silence from within its lukewarm walls is proof enough that she is in danger of being rejected by the Lord. [6]

May God have mercy on us…

Ron

 

 

[1] Jeremiah is often referred to as the “Weeping Prophet because of his own words in chapter 9, verse 1: Oh, that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of my people!

[2] 2 Cor.6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you.

[3] 1 Samuel 8:19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, No, but we will have a king over us.

[4] Jeremiah 6:16 Thus says the Lord, Stand you in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and you shall find rest for your souls. But they said, we will not walk in them.

[5] Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

[6] Rev. 3:16 So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth.

 

 

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Being separate from the world does not mean ignoring the world

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In such a time as this, when the lines of distinction between the church and the world are growing ever more indiscernible, we must exercise caution in order not to fall prey to deception and false teaching.

While there are a great many beliefs today that are outright heresies, there are also beliefs that contain a modicum of truth yet miss the mark entirely when applied incorrectly.

Such is the case with the teaching that Christians are to separate themselves from the world. Certainly, no true follower of Christ should argue that we are not to emulate the world and its behavior. Nor are we to align ourselves with its un-Christ-like ideologies. Scripture makes this very clear; I believe.

We must be careful however in our application of this teaching because God has called us to be salt and light to this world. Or to put it another way, if we are to be effective witnesses for Christ we must interact with this world. We cannot hide our light under a bushel. [1]

To sequester ourselves apart from the world is to destroy both our witness and our credibility. The world today is in desperate need of a Savior, and you and I have been assigned the awesome responsibility of taking the Savior to the world, not hiding Him from the world.

It’s true that God has called us to be a people set apart unto himself. Sadly, due to a misapplication of this concept, many people use this as justification in setting themselves up as morally superior to everyone that doesn’t subscribe to their erroneous doctrine.

We see this attitude on display among pseudo Christian cults, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, as well as certain “fringe” Christian groups like Oneness Pentecostals. Both groups consider themselves to be the “elect of God” and anyone not in agreement with their doctrines as apostates, thus condemning any “outsiders” to be lost. [2]

Obviously, we need to examine the scriptures in order to determine the truth about the whole notion of separation from the world. Here is what Paul said about this in his teaching to the church at Corinth.

And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.”

 Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.”

“I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.”
   2nd Corinthians 6:16-18

So, is Paul teaching that Christians are to have nothing to do with those outside the church of God? Of course not! That is the hallmark of a Pharisee, to see oneself as superior to others because of religious position or tradition. [3]

Paul is saying here that once we have been born again, God’s Spirit takes up residence within us and we then become His dwelling place, or temple. As such, God both lives in us and walks with us, all of which means we are on intimate terms with the Creator.

This special, intimate relationship requires that we abstain from those things, or idols, that defile our hearts and corrupt our intimacy with the Father. We may be in the world, but not of the world.  [4]

What are these idols Paul speaks of, the ones we are to come out from and separate ourselves from? Some are obvious, such as having no other gods in our lives, but some are not so obvious. And dare I say they can be different for all of us?

An idol is essentially anything that comes between you and your Creator. Whatever consumes the bulk of your time, or so much of it that you have little time left to worship God, is an idol.

For some of us it is sports. Maybe TV takes all your time. Or a job that demands most of your waking hours. It could even be your boat, golf clubs, or fishing rods. For some of us it’s our electronic devices, such as cell phones and iPads.

What Paul is NOT saying in these verses is that we are to cut off all contact with anyone who isn’t part of our tribe (church). True enough, we should not hang around with people who are obviously negative influences. None of us should desire to become best friends with the neighborhood drug pusher, for example.

The fact remains however that even the worst among us needs a Savior, just as you and I did at one time. We may not have been the neighborhood drug pusher, but we were just as lost as they now are before coming to Christ. Our hearts were just as sin-laden as any other lost person. [5]

After all, sin is sin, and lost is lost. Race, ethnicity, income, ancestry, or any other factors notwithstanding, everyone needs the Savior. That’s why Jesus came: to seek and save that which was lost. [6]

Paul tells us that because God now dwells within us, we are the sons and daughters of God. As such, our light should shine before all men that they might come to know Jesus Christ as Lord. [7]

Come out from among idols? Absolutely! Separate ourselves from those things which turn our hearts away from the Lord? Without question!

Please don’t however, turn away from anyone in need of a Savior just because they aren’t like you. Don’t distance yourself so far from them that you can no longer have compassion on their plight.

Remember: that was you and I at one time.

Be blessed, in Jesus name.

Ron

 

[1] Matt. 5:14,15…You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

[2] Jehovah’s Witnesses are a cult because they deny the deity of Christ, which makes them anti-Christ even though they claim to be ‘Christian’. John 1:1 states “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. In their New World Translation, Jehovah’s Witnesses translate John 1:1 as “the Word was a god”, thus denying Christ His divinity.   Emphasis mine

[3] Matt. 23:1-7…Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.

[4] John 17:14…I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

[5] Colossians 1:21,22…And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight

[6] Luke 19:10…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.

[7] Matt. 5:16…Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

 

 

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

 

The Beast has been unleashed

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On December 31st, 2018, the Rev. Justin Hoke, pastor of Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church in Weed, California, posted the following on the church’s outdoor sign. [1]

113fb3f1-ebf0-4e5e-a8de-2bfed70ef050

Unfortunately for Rev. Hoke, LGBT activists descended upon the church last Sunday, claiming the sign was “hateful.” Later, these activists vandalized the church sign. Far worse than that however was the shameful lack of support this pastor received from his congregation. Persecution is to be expected whenever one takes a stand for Godly principles, being abandoned by one’s congregation,however, is not. [2]

In light of that sad state of affairs, the Rev. Hoke was forced to write the following on his Facebook page a few days ago:

“As of today, I am no longer the pastor of Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church.

After much prayer and counsel, I have decided that it is best to briefly communicate what has taken place.

1. I was informed by our other elder that he felt he could no longer follow my lead as Pastor of TBPC.
2. I was informed that essentially all but one couple in membership would leave the church if I continued as pastor of TBPC.
3. Our other elder and the couple felt that those who left would likely return if I would leave.
4. Our other elder was agreeable to stay and assume the pastoral responsibilities.

Therefore it was determined that it would be in the best interest of the local body for us (TBPC and the Hoke family) to part ways.”

So what we have here is a minister of the Gospel who stated three irrefutable,Biblical truths on his church sign.

  1. Bruce Jenner is still a man
  2. Homosexuality is still sin
  3. God’s Word does not change,even if the culture does

Incredibly, his entire congregation (save one family) decided that it was better to side with the LGBT activists than their own pastor,and left the church. Rather than standing firm upon the truths of God’s word, this congregation bowed their knees to Baal, soundly rejecting God, His word, and their pastor. Instead of supporting their pastor and his family by upholding these truths, they took the cowards way out by throwing him under the bus.

The fact that this could even happen is evidence that the spirit of antiChrist, which has always been present (though largely kept under wraps), has been unleashed upon America and is no longer being restrained. This should serve as a warning to all Christian leaders that the freedom to declare the whole counsel of God is now a part of America’s past. [3]

Indeed, the Beast has been unleashed!

This is only the beginning of course. Don’t want to support an unholy agenda by baking a cake for a homosexual couple? Then you will be shut down so you can’t bake a cake for anyone. Soon, these events will become commonplace, hardly raising an eyebrow.

It isn’t too far on the horizon when the Devil’s advocates will sit in the sanctuary, secretly recording a gospel message, carefully listening for anything they can remotely twist into “hate speech” so they can call in their ‘activists’ and destroy more pastors and their congregations.

What these so called ‘activists’ are willingly ignorant of however is that these same tactics have long been employed by ruthless regimes of every type in order to weed out the “subversives” who seek to overthrow the government by their “heinous deeds” of worshiping God. The only difference between them and groups such as LGBT and others like them is that the latter have managed to garner the support of the liberal elite in both Hollywood and Washington D.C.

Thus, they wield an unprecedented level of power to destroy the family and as much as possible whatever is Godly by ascribing the words “hateful” and hate speech” to all who dare oppose them.

But let’s be honest here, shall we? Was it the sign itself that caused such an explosion of anger and hate from the LGBT activists, or is something else the cause of their outburst? Was seeing words that refute their lifestyle and their agenda really what triggered this explosion of hate from them?

Of course not! What so enraged these people was the fact that someone would dare condemn their chosen lifestyle.  What really happened here was these LGBT activists were making a statement. And that statement was that no one, not even God Almighty himself can tell them how to live their lives. This was all about spiritual rebellion against the authority of God to govern our lives according to His divine mandate.

This outburst is just the latest in what has become a predictable pattern by those who oppose God. Oh, to be sure the methods have changed, as have the players in the game. New strategies are being developed almost daily in order to destroy the family as God created it. Rest assured however, that the chief engineer behind these activities is Satan himself.

There really is nothing new about all of this. As a matter of fact, it’s been going on since Satan first appeared to Eve in the garden when he coerced her and Adam into disobeying the command of their Creator. It’s the same mindset today, only instead of cunning, stealth, and deception, Satan now uses an “in your face” attack designed to intimidate God’s people into surrendering without a fight. [4]

Those who are wise understand where all of this is headed. The ‘children of light’ understand that these are the beginning days of the time when the adversary would unleash his power against all that is called Godly, thus causing many to lose their faith. [5]

Rather than cower in fear at those who oppose God and all that is Godly, our assignment is to pray for those who persecute and seek to harm us. Jesus teaches us that our weapon of choice must be love. We are not to return hate for hate, but must rise above the hate from those who oppose God. [6]

Be blessed, and pray without ceasing!

Ron

 

[1] https://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/article224506495.html

[2] 2 Timothy, 3:12

[3] 1 John 4:3

[4] Genesis 3

[5] 1 Timothy 4:1

[6] Matthew 5:43-45

Therefore the land will mourn

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It’s a dangerous thing for a nation to decide that God is no longer relevant. 

Whenever society enacts policies and laws that are void of any regard for God and his word, you can be sure that trouble will soon follow.

Any time that man becomes convinced of his superiority in matters of humanity and proceeds to embark on a path that takes him away from God, the remembrance of nations who long ago became extinct will remind him of the folly of such endeavors.

When mercy and truth are relegated to the furthest recesses of the mind and no place can be found for them in the halls of rulers, kings, or presidents, Satan is given free reign to pour out his wrath upon a society blinded by ignorance.

A people who have chosen not to retain the knowledge of God among them is by all accounts a people awash in sin and degradation, hopelessly entangled in their own filth, unable to know the cleansing freedom that can only be found in Christ.

1 Hear the word of the Lord,
You children of Israel,
For the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land:

“There is no truth or mercy
Or knowledge of God in the land.
By swearing and lying,
Killing and stealing and committing adultery,
They break all restraint,
With bloodshed upon bloodshed.
Therefore the land will mourn; …  Hosea 4

 

Our land is in a perpetual state of mourning, and as a result many have lost hope. Not just for today, but hope for a brighter future. Hope for a better tomorrow.

The most amazing thing about all of this is that God’s children do have hope. We, like faithful Abraham, are looking for a city ‘whose builder and maker is God‘ (Heb. 11:10).

Like the story found within the pages of the book of Hosea, we long for the day of reconciliation, when God gathers his elect from the four quarters of the earth.

We are living examples of a hope that is not of this world, but of a world to come where love rules and evil has been forever banished.

To many that sounds like a fairy tale, but to the Christian who is exhausted from years of unceasing spiritual warfare, it offers the promise of rest.  

I thank God that while I may be a resident of this earth, I am looking for the day when I become a citizen of heaven.

A place where mourning of any kind will never be heard again. Until then, may the Lord  somehow call us back to ‘the old paths, where the good way is…’   Jeremiah 6:16

Ron

The Glory of the Lord has departed

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Ichabod

What a strange word, and an even stranger name for a child.

Yet that is what a dying mother named her child upon hearing the tragic news that both her husband and father-in-law were dead, and that the Ark of God had been taken from Israel. 

While you can read all about this heart wrenching episode in Israel’s history in the 4th chapter of 1st Samuel, here is an excerpt that tells how it came to be that a distraught mother named her child Ichabod.

19 Now his daughter-in-law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, due to be delivered; and when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and gave birth, for her labor pains came upon her.

20 And about the time of her death the women who stood by her said to her, “Do not fear, for you have borne a son.” But she did not answer, nor did she regard it.

21 Then she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband.

22 And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”

This Ark of God is the very same Ark of the Covenant that went before Israel as they sojourned in the wilderness. Inside of it were the two stone tablets that contained God’s handwritten Ten Commandments, Aaron’s rod that budded, and a pot of manna.

To Israel, this Ark represented the very presence of God in their midst, and it was a most Holy possession to them. To have lost the ark was to them the same thing as losing God, hence the reference to “the Glory has departed from Israel”.

As if losing the priest and both his sons in one day weren’t enough, the loss of the Ark had a profound impact upon the nation of Israel. When it was captured by the Philistines, along with it went Israel’s hope, strength, and courage. In short, the departure of the Ark negatively affected an entire nation.

From where I sit, I see an amazing parallel emerging right before our eyes. The world at large today, and in particular America, is suffering the same effects as Israel because in our world “the Glory of the Lord has departed”.

Or perhaps the sincerer assessment would be to acknowledge that the world has departed from God, believing it has found life without Him to be “our best life now”.

Whether through the crushing methodologies of oppressive regimes, or willful, deliberate acts of spiritual abandonment committed by the masses, it is a fair statement to say that the majority of people neither want or know God any longer.

To be sure, we have fabricated an image of God in our minds, one that we have created to serve us at our whim, to pour money into our accounts, to be at our beck and call when trouble arises, only to be shelved until the next crisis.

By and large however, we have abandoned our spiritual birthright and heritage because it is not the God of the Bible that we desire.

In our churches we no longer expect or want God to show up in our midst. For Him to do so would require us to humble ourselves and repent of our transgressions, and that does not compute with a people who only want God on their terms.

Deliberate or not, and I believe it is, we have effectively “engineered” God out of the church. Disguised as the ritualistic order of worship, we carefully plan our church services down to the most minute of details, thus ensuring that even if the Almighty should desire to come down and deal with our hearts, there has been no time allotted for Him to do so.

For many, there is no expectation of going to the house of God in order to meet with Him there. Instead, we go out of a sense of duty, or because we’ve been taught that it’s the “right thing to do”.

Instead of meeting with Him there, we are sadly content to sit and listen to a nice, ‘easy on the ears and conscious’ story about Him! In short, we have no intention of having an encounter with the living God!

This is the result of “the Glory of the lord has departed”.

The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule by their own power; And My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?   Jer. 5:31   emphasis mine

Your experiences are probably different than mine, however I have observed a peculiar phenomenon over these past four decades of my walk with God. That is that when man demonstrates a lack of zeal for God, his word, or his presence, God will not force himself upon them.

His Glory departs, leaving them to go about their religion without Him. In His absence is a cold, indifferent, faithless man-centered organization comprised of dead men’s bones. Good for nothing, entrapping men in its clutches, enslaving them in the bondage of religiosity.

Herein is the real tragedy of all of this: it was never intended to be this way!

Jesus taught that “whom the Son sets free is free indeed”, yet by our own actions we have established that we are not content to be free. Instead of freedom, we long to be chained to the same mistakes of those who long ago learned that “without Me, you can do nothing”. John 8:36, 15:5

As I look around this nation, am I the only one who mourns over what was, and what might have been? My soul is grieved over what we have done to the God who loved us enough to sacrifice His only Son for our sins!

For all of this however, I am convinced that all hope is not lost.

Nations will fall, as they always have when they have abandoned the God of heaven. Nevertheless, as He did in days long gone, I believe God has reserved to himself a remnant that are committed to Him no matter how difficult life becomes.

“Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”  1st Kings 19:18

My hope is in Jesus Christ, and in Him alone will I place my trust. I look to no party or person to give me hope for a better future. That ship has sailed, I am sad to say.

Only God can provide real hope for His children, and I intend to cling to His glorious  hope for the rest of my days.

My prayer is that His Glory never departs from you.

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

How secure is your lifeline?

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It’s been said that prayer is the Christian’s lifeline to God, and in this day of rebellion and licentious behavior that lifeline has become more important than ever.

So many vile, reprehensible events are taking place in our midst that one hardly has time to sort them out before the next one occurs. Mass shootings in churches, schools, and synagogues have become horrifyingly common place.

A reduction in violent crime by a mere 0.2% is somehow thought to be a success. Tell that to the 1,247,321 victims (or their families) who in 2017 were raped, murdered, robbed, assaulted, or violated in any number of violent ways. [1]

We live in a time when a new kind of slavery is stealing our children from us. According to the International Labour Organization, more than 1 million children are exploited each year in the commercial sex trade. [2]

Sin, no matter how you choose to define it, has taken control of our government, our schools, our workplaces, and yes even our churches. Just as the scriptures foretold:

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:  2nd Tim. 3:1

The foremost writer on the subject of prayer, E.M Bounds, said that “prayer is the most appropriate thing for a soul to do in the ‘time of trouble’. Prayer recognizes God in the day of trouble”.

We are living in a largely prayer-less society. The days when churches would meet regularly for prayer are a thing of the past, an abandoned relic from a time when the fire of God burned in the hearts of His people.

How shocking is this when you consider that the church was birthed in a prayer meeting! [3]

Which brings me to the crux of this particular post. As a child of God, do we actually pray anymore? I’m not speaking of praying over our meals, or ‘now I lay me down to sleep’ prayers.

Prayer is, of course, an intensely personal thing. Everyone does it differently, just as most churches approach prayer differently.

I’m referring to the kind of praying however that the people of God have done in the past when confronted by situations and circumstances beyond their control. In other words, the deep, heartfelt, one on one communication with God that we read about in the Bible.

Again, E.M. Bounds understood this well when he said that “A lack of fervency in prayer is the sure sign of a lack of depth and of intensity of desire; and the absence of intense desire is a sure sign of God’s absence from the heart”!

Take the prophet Daniel for instance. As a teenager, Daniel was part of the captivity of Israel when it was led into slavery by the Babylonians. So determined was he to not forsake the Lord and adopt the ways of the heathen, that he continued to earnestly seek the face of God even unto his 80’s when he returned to Israel.

Because the Lord had given Daniel great favor in the eyes of king Darius, many of the governors became consumed with jealously and plotted his demise. From this the famous story of Daniel and the lions den ensued. [4]

As the story unfolds, we find Daniel refusing to bow to the decree that there could be no worship of any type for 30 days, except it be the worship of the king. Daniel’s response to this was to continue to pray three times a day at his open window, a window that faced Jerusalem.

The prophet knew that his lifeline to God was prayer. In a strange land, surrounded by people and customs he was unfamiliar with, Daniel maintained his integrity by seeking God in prayer three times each day.

He clung to his lifeline.

The story of Danial and the lions den is remarkable for many reasons, not the least of which is that it mirrors our own circumstances today.

In just a few days, we here in America will be voting for our chosen candidates, a vote that many believe is one of the most critical this nation has ever faced. For weeks now we have been inundated with viscous attack ads that say nothing about what the candidate plans to do, but rather are all about how evil their opponent is.

The nation is on edge, uncertainty reigns in the hearts of the populace. “Blood in the streets” has been promised if the Democrats don’t take back control of the House. Funny how that inciting comment has gone largely ignored, isn’t it?

Christians, I’m sad to say, are just as anxious as the heathen over the upcoming election. One has to ask if Heaven is our home, and we’re merely pilgrims passing through, then why the fear over all of this?

It is because we have lost sight of whose we are. We say that Jesus is Lord of our life, but we live and act like everyone else who has no hope. This is a testament to how well Satan has done his job in dividing our heart’s loyalty.

It is because we do not truly believe that God reigns in the affairs of men. Christians are no different than the heathen who believe that man is in charge of his own destiny. If we truly believed that God was God and that He reigned in the affairs of men, we would not have one ounce of anxiety over the upcoming election.

But we have allowed Satan to garner a toehold in our minds, and he is exploiting this for all he is worth. The enemy of our soul is confounding us with doubt, fear, and disillusionment.

We are not looking to God as we should for hope, strength, and peace. Instead, we are looking for a candidate that we can throw our support behind who will lead us to the worlds version of the “Promised Land”.

Where are the modern day “Daniels” who will point out to us that we are not to cower in the face of societal unrest and uncertainty? Where are the seasoned Christians who have lived through tumultuous times by clinging to their lifeline to God? Have they too been silenced by the decrees of the unrighteous?

It was Joshua who uttered the famous words…

And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”   Joshua 24:15

And it was the Lord himself who said…

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.   Matt. 6:21

I know where my hope is. I know where my treasure is. I also know that I cannot let go of my lifeline to God. It is my only real security in these days of uncertainty.

Ron

[1] source: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2017/crime-in-the-u.s.-2017/topic-pages/violent-crime

[2] source : https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/nation-now/2018/01/30/sex-trafficking-column/1073459001/

[3] Acts chapters 1 & 2 reference

[4] Daniel chapter 6 reference

 

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