Monthly Archives: January 2015

“There is Christianity and then there is Christian culture. They are not the same.”

It has been my observation that many of our most popular Christian leaders have perfected the art of emotional manipulation of their followers using clever combinations of wording and phrases that are, essentially, Christian “power” words.

These leaders speak a spiritualized “Christianese” loaded with dynamic generalizations that appeal to those who value excitement over substance.

Many words are spoken and often “prophesied” that sound as though they are inspired by the Spirit of God but are, instead, inspired by a spirit of religion. Commonly, these statements are loaded with sweeping generalizations describing the next big thing that God is going to be doing. Exciting Christian power words and phrases are sprinkled throughout their messages displaying an appearance of spirituality. But it is never really possible to determine what is actually, specifically meant by these declarations. And yet, many Christians seem to be swallowing the bait – hook, line, and sinker.

Sadly, this Christian subculture has become a replacement in many Christian’s lives for an intimately dynamic and personally transforming relationship with Jesus. John Eldredge, in his book Beautiful Outlaw points out that “there is Christianity and then there is Christian culture. They are not the same.”

 

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What does it mean, to “worship the Father in spirit and in truth?”

1/23/2014

(John 4:21-24)  21 Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Jesus is describing here how worshiping God in spirit and in truth is primarily an inward operation for New Testament believers. First, the Holy Spirit dwells within us speaking truth to our spirits and guiding us into all truth.

John 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

It could be said then, that we are worshiping the Father in spirit and in truth in any particular area of our life where we are currently submitting our wills to the Holy Spirit’s leading of truth.

Commenting on worshiping “in spirit and in truth”, Matthew Henry says, “The stress is not to be laid upon the place where we worship God, but upon the state of mind in which we worship him.
We must depend upon God’s Spirit for strength and assistance, laying our souls under his influences and operations; we must devote our own spirits to, and employ them in, the service of God (Rom 1:9), must worship him with fixedness of thought and a flame of affection, with all that is within us.” (John 4:4-26 / from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible)

Is there a giant cow in your life?

1/18/2015

All too frequently, strongholds of anxiety and fear can take hold in our lives because of childhood perceptions of past events.

When I was a young boy, I saw a mother cow giving birth to a calf in a barn. At the time, the cow seemed to me to be as large as an elephant. It was scary to me! Years later, as we drove by a pasture with mature cows grazing, I asked my parents, “Why are all these cows so small!?” After being informed that the cows were a normal size, I asked, “Then how come that cow I saw giving birth in the barn was so huge?” My parents smiled and told me, “That cow wasn’t so huge, you were just so little at the time!” Although this made sense to me immediately, I still had difficulty allowing this explanation to change the way I felt about cows because my memory was based on an especially vivid experience.

In a similar way, if we have difficulty translating our original childhood perceptions into mature and healthy Christian perspective as we become adults, it may be because we have inwardly developed fear based perceptions about ourselves, others, or life in general. We may often react the way we do to circumstances today because we are relying upon either a conscious or subconscious referencing of perceptions from past experiences.

Whether we have precise memories or relatively vague recollections of past events, it is frequently our original perceptions that have the most substantial influence on us today – especially if they are related to abusive or traumatic events in our childhood. But now we may need to stop and ask ourselves this question: Does it really, still have to be such a giant cow in my life, today?”

With the counsel of the Holy Spirit, we can apprehend the necessary grace to escape the bondage of past memories imprisoning our souls today in cages of fear and dysfunction. Fear and shame melt away before the warmth of the light of God’s grace. God’s grace, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can shine into the darkness, dispelling the power of old memories, so that the love of God may come to reside where the darkness of fear once dwelt.

As we practice allowing this truth to become steadfast within us, we have this promise and exhortation from the Lord:

“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you all things

and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
Peace I leave with you;
my peace I give you.

I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled
and
do not be afraid.”

John 14: 26-27 NIV

Wonderment

1/13/2015

Revelation from God is frequently realized when preceded by a wonderment of God. So, guard your heart when any person suggests that your wonderment of God is inappropriate, misdirected, or representative of spiritual immaturity.

noun: wonderment
1. a state of awed admiration or respect.
“Corbett shook his head in silent wonderment”

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. – Psalms 19:1-4.

The End of an Age

6/9/2015

The time is growing short. It is the end of an age and mankind is racing irreversibly into a time of ever-greater chaos and confusion. A time of great commotion and disturbance. A time of pandemonium. A time of stark contrasts. It will be as Ecclesiastes 3:8 reveals, “a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” A time that has been prophesied by men of God and written in the book of God.
As Christians this should not take us by surprise. In a few short days or years the Lord will return for His church. Then the judgments of God will fall with relentless inevitability upon the unbelieving inhabitants of the Earth. And man will, as predicted in scripture, clench his fist and curse the God of Heaven and Earth.

It is the end of an age and mankind is racing irreversibly into a time of ever-greater chaos and confusion. The time is growing short… and we should not be found muddling about in profitless bewilderment as are so many Christians in this day.

There will be times of exceptional spiritual opportunity as the Spirit of God is poured out like a mighty flood in various parts of the world. But there will also be intense spiritual antagonism, animosity from the spiritual realms unlike anything the world has ever experienced before. The time is indeed short and the enemy of our souls has an eye on the timetable. Revelation 12:12 declares, “Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”
The time is short and we are living in increasingly accelerated times. Times of fast food, fast knowledge, and fast money to satisfy our fast paced lives. But there is a great emptiness at the center of the whirlwind of our hurried existence. An emptiness shaped by the disappointment and disillusionment that is the inevitable result of our fast-paced fleshly striving for temporary inner fulfillment. The great void we are experiencing inwardly is the absence of lasting inner peace and true spiritual joy.

This deficit can never be remedied by the manufacture of man. It is not a device that might be fixed by human ingenuity. Nor is it an ailment that can be healed by temporary circumstances of happiness. Rather, it is a state of being which exists as a product of sin. Lasting peace and true spiritual joy cannot be found in life’s fast lane. Lasting peace and joy can only be experienced as we allow the great emptiness within to be regenerated and rehabilitated by the power and the presence of the living God.

This is the great deception; that apart from God we can achieve wholeness, contentment and fullness of life. In the coming times of ever greater chaos and disorder, men will embrace this deception like never before in the history of the world. The words of James reach out over the centuries to bring us a stern admonition. A warning about the decadence and deception of seeking temporary fulfillment through self-centered determinations:
James 5:1-5 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. 2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence.

Peace of mind is a foreign concept amidst the daily tumult of the world we are living in today. The riot and clamor of each new day compels humanity to try to distinguish between that which is reality and that which is deception, struggling each day to bring some semblance of order or sensibility to a decaying world.

The times of vast delusion are rapidly approaching.
(2 Th 2:9) “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders,
2 Th 2:10 and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
2 Th 2:11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie.
2 Th 2:12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. ”

If, as Christians, we believe the deception that abundance of life can be found within the framework of this world, we will undoubtedly strive to imitate the people of this world. We will forfeit spiritual freedom and inner contentment for the occasion of temporary happiness.
Abundance of life can only be experienced as we allow the great emptiness within to be regenerated and rehabilitated by our surrender to the life-changing power of the living God. Abundance of life will never be found in the accumulation of things. It can only be discovered through our submission to the transforming power of God’s redeeming grace. Our submission, our unconditional surrender, to the saving and transforming power of God’s grace is the only authentic avenue to lasting inner peace and joy.

The character of Christ developed within the soul of Christian men and women can be a victorious flagship upon an end-times ocean of growing despair and desperation. The soul that has discovered spiritual rest through faith in the finished work of Christ will be a brilliant light in the midst of the ever-increasing darkness of iniquity and depravity. The saint that dwells restfully in true inner peace and spiritual joy will be a beacon to the anxious and striving multitudes of humanity fruitlessly seeking fulfillment of self through worldly design.
These are the privileges of opportunity and possibility that God has blessed us with in these last days. We have been truly blessed in these troubled times with the opportunity of freedom from excessive anxiety and undue worry. We are blessed with the opportunity of immunity from the ravages of fear and distress. We are blessed with exemption from the misery and grief that will afflict a self-centered humanity with ever-increasing intensity as mankind refuses the everlasting peace and joy that are found only in the grace of God.

Ours is the opportunity of the blessing of the supernatural peace of God. A peace which transcends all understanding – guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. A peace that transcends the fluctuating situations and circumstances which make up our daily lives. A peace that brings us blessed assurance in a world full of uncertainty – confidence in the midst of a world overflowing with insecurity.

The time is growing short. But the peace and joy of Christ being formed within us is a timeless kingdom – everlasting.

Our greatest testing rarely occurs during the best of times

1/2/2015

{Daniel 6:19-22 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”
Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! My God sent his angel and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”}

It is often when we are at the lowest point of despondency and despair and ready to abandon God’s calling on our life that God will provide another opportunity to affirm our commitment to Him. He will ask us to trust Him and if we will, He will lift us steadily up from the depths into a greater effectiveness than we had ever experienced before. So remember, saint, that you also have been found innocent in His sight through the blood of Christ. No matter what depths you have sunken to or tragedy you have endured; God is always only waiting for you to look up and take His hand that He might pull you up from the depths to continue your journey with Him.