Evangelize or Fossilize!

The short comment caught my attention. It was at the very bottom of the article in a great magazine I receive and read faithfully. That means there are a number I receive and seldom read. This one receives first place on the pile of “read when you have time” articles and magazines – read from cover to cover and saved. Yes, it is that good!

The comment – “Evangelize or fossilize”. How true! A Church needs to be constantly evangelizing or else, without new believers and new blood, it will become ingrown, stagnate and then fossilize – often without knowing the process is going on – as it moves slowly but steadily to certain and eventually spiritual (and physical) death.

The same can be said for individual believers. Many are the “walking dead”. Their spiritual life got up and went. In it’s place they have spiritual death and often are not aware that a change has happened. Again, it takes place slowly but steadily and usually unnoticed.

The solution to this comes from the very lips of Jesus. He said, to the Church and thus to individual believers who make up the Church, “Go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing, teaching, equipping, discipling, releasing and thus multiplying” so that the Church and the individual Christian can grow and continue to experience life and that life abundantly.

Only when the Church and individual Christians settle down and stop evangelizing and sharing the Gospel does the Church and the individual become stagnant, lack life, and begin the slow process of dying with a whimper as the world ignores it and does not even notice.

How is your relationship with Jesus? Dynamic, exciting, full of life, adventurous, and growing? How is your relationship with other believers – the Church? If one is not doing well – the other won’t be doing any better. Fossilization!

The solution is simple – begin to share Jesus and the Gospel with people on a daily basis (evangelize). Take what you are learning and apply it right away to your life and your witness to others. It is not difficult and people are hungry. You will even sense an open door into their hearts and minds because, when you are alive in God and doing what He told you to do, you will notice what many miss – the opportunity to personally share with that person.

Would the Real Christian Please Stand Up

When I was a kid there was a television show (when television was still black and white – yes, I personally knew Noah and his family as well as Barney the Dinosaur) … called “To Tell the Truth” where three contenstants posed as the same person and then the panel of regulars would have so many minutes to ask questions to determine who the real “Mr. Brown” was. Then the host or moderator would say – “Would the real Mr. Brown” please stand up” at which time we would see if the panel got the right one or not.

We were looking at identity theft – knowing whose you are so that you could know who you are and accomplish all the Lord has set out for you to do …

Well, since you are “in Christ” – it is good to know what has been accomplished for you by Christ and what is thus yours through grace … so that, as a real Christian, you can stand up and stand tall. Would the real Christian please stand up.

As someone who is “in Christ” as a result of being born again the Bible states that the following is fact in our lives…

Romans
I have been justified—completely forgiven and made righteous (5:1).
I died with Christ and died to the power of sin’s rule over my life (6:1-6).
I am free forever from condemnation (8:1).

1 Corinthians
I have been placed into Christ by God’s doing (1:30).
I have received the Spirit of God into my life that I might know the things freely given to me by God (2:12). I have been given the mind of Christ (2:16).
I have been bought with a price; I am not my own; I belong to God (6:19,20).

2 Corinthians
I have been established, anointed, and sealed by God in Christ, and I have been given the Holy Spirit as a pledge guaranteeing my inheritance to come (1:21; Ephesians 1: 13,14).
Since I have died, I no longer live for myself, but for Christ (5:14,15).
I have been made righteous (5:21).

Galatians
I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I am now living is Christ’s life (2:20).

Ephesians
I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing (1:3).
I was chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy, and I am without blame before Him (1:4).
I was predestined—determined by God—to be adopted as God’s son (1:5).
I have been redeemed and forgiven, and I am a recipient of His lavish grace (1:6-8).
I have been made alive together with Christ (2:5).
I have been raised up and seated with Christ in heaven (2:6).
I have direct access to God through the Spirit (2:18).
I may approach God with boldness, freedom, and confidence (3:12).

Colossians
I have been rescued from the domain of Satan’s rule and transferred to the kingdom of Christ (1:13).
I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins. The debt against me has been canceled (1:14).
Christ Himself is in me (1:27).
I am firmly rooted in Christ and am now being built up in Him (2:7).
I have been made complete in Christ (2:10).
I have been buried, raised, and made alive with Christ (2:12,13).

If we truly believed the Bible we would begin to grab hold of these truths because they are established and forever settled in our lives as believers – the real Christian would stand up

If we believe that the Bible is inspired and the Word of God to us – then we would walk them out daily in our lives – the real Christian would stand up

If we believe what the Lord states about what is ours through grace we would live a different life than we do right now – one filled to overflowing with life as Jesus came to give us life and for us to live it in abundance … the devil came to steal, kill and destroy as we saw yesterday. Sometimes it seems like the devil is winning…

If we believed then the real Christians would stand up and the world would take note and listen to what we have to say – because our lives would be living proof that the message of the Bible is true and that Jesus really is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Would the real Christian please stand up!

The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius

Remember the song – you are that old, uhm!

I almost titled this blog – “The sky is falling, the sky is falling”

Well, yesterday was 08-08-08 and Christians everywhere, you guessed it, were finding spiritual signifigance in the fact that the three numbers – day-month-year – lined up TODAY. Wow! Spell that backwards – Wow! (Really, spelt backwards it would be !woW)

The planets are lining up just as they should. Well, of course they are. God created them and set them in motion and they are doing just what God set them out to do.

Reminds me of the time when I took a class on the Old Testament tabernacle. It would be funny if it were not so sad… I must be aging well because I am beginning to refer back to ancient events … ah! Like a good wine I am mellowing. (Just to keep the negative mail down – have not had a drink in over 30 years…)

The professor was passionate about the dimensions of the tabernacle as set out by God and told to Moses. This wall was to be 8 by 10 and the number 8 meant and the number 10 meant … which means the wall stood for… I was just hoping the wall stood!

I’m sorry but I seemed to have missed something in her explanation – yet, I passed the class.

About the same time a non-believing radio DJ in our city (from a now defunct and off the air radio station) changed his last name because numerology told him that this new last name totalled a better number than his old last name. Sigh! Maybe the station should have checked what the total of their 4 letters was … ah! Now I have discovered the reason that oldies station went off the air. Too late!

My Point – yes, I digress a bit as I get older but I have not lost my marbles yet … Okay, you guys and gals – some think I lost my marbles many years ago.

Let me tell you the signifigance of 08-08-08 … it is the 8th of August, 2008. That’s it! Period! That’s all she wrote.

Why must we act like we are in first year university taking a class in English – and between every line of the some obscure poem by some well know poet we have to read in sexual connotations and find sexual meaning – Gee, I thought Robert Frost was writing on having fences separating yards in New England so that people knew their boundaries and remained good neighbours. Did I miss something?

I have had a number of calls and a number of emails about the spiritual signifigance of 08-08-08 from some well-meaning Christians … What should I tell them?

You see, I have been busy today, like any day, doing the work I am paid to do, writing and researching for Sunday’s sermon and getting into conversations with tattooed and pierced skateborders in really tight and seriously skimpy swimsuits (suntanning and smoking it up after a few hours of boarding) who practice on the same bike trail where I walk my dog… same as I did 08-07-08 and the same routine I will find myself involved in today 08-09-08 except it will be different people I get to talk to about Jesus because it is a Saturday and the skateborders will not be out today. Today – some seniors and a bunch of jocks playing a game of touch football while their girlfriends watch.

Ah! The world is unfolding as it should and all is well as the planets align and … don’t go there.

Spiritual “Identity Theft”

As Christians, our identity is tied directly to the fact that we belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. We can know who we are and our place in life only because we know whose we are and thus who we are. We cannot know ourselves – our personal identity – without knowing FIRST who we belong to. Our identity is found only in Him.

However, as I talk and fellowship with people who call themselves believers and who truly believe they are saved or born again – it is evident that they are clueless when it comes to their identity in Christ. This truth is quickly discovered simply by asking them what they believe their purpose in life is. Usually they have no idea. If they don’t know what their purpose is – it is a sure sign they have lost any sense of their identity or who they really are. If they don’t know their place and purpose in life (what they are called to do) – they have forgotten whose they are – that they belong to Christ – and therefore they have forgotten who they are. Many times they’ve had help in forgetting, in losing sight of their true identity.

In our hyperteach computer age, we hear a lot about the perils of identity theft and how to avoid it. So we choose safe Web sites that use encrypton and other safeguards against a hacker stealing our vital statistics and, with them, our identity.

But identity theft is not a new phenomenon – in fact, it’s one of the oldest in the book, our Enemy’s number one strategy. He wants to steal your awareness of who you really are. While God’s purpose is to bring you life to the fullest, Satan has a plan for you to settle for so much less than what you were made for.

The Thief’s plan is to steal, kill, and destroy. He knows if he can steal your identity, he will kill your dreams and destoy your purpose in life – thereby literally killing and destroying the real you. Thus we have a great number of Christians who are spiritual ‘dead’ for all intents and purposes and who have ceased to exist on the Christian radar as their dream and purpose have been stolen or worse – destroyed completely.

So, what should we do about it? Thanks for asking! Many years ago I read a great book by Dr. Neil Anderson. Called “The Bondage Breaker” one of it’s key points is the need for a Christian believer to know – from the Bible – who they are “in Christ”. In other words, find out what the Bible says about you now that you are saved. What does the Bible state is true for the believer and their ‘life in Christ’?

I have taken the liberty of listing the results of the study of the scriptures that Dr. Anderson undertook to answer his own question regarding the identity of the believer… for some readers it may be review but for many it will be a revelation of truth that explodes in your spirit. We have used this list for many years in our ministry and appreciate what Dr. Anderson has done for the Church through his writing and research. (http://www.ficm.org)

The Christian’s Scriptural Identity and Position

The following statements summarize your scriptural identity and position in Christ …

Who Am I?

Exodus
I am not the great “I am” (3:14; John 8:24, 28, 58), but by the grace of God, Jam what 1am (1 Corinthians 15:10).

Matthew
I am the salt of the earth (5:13).
I am the light of the world (5:14).

John
I am a child of God (1:12).
I am part of the true vine, a channel of Christ’s life (15:1, 5).
I am Christ’s friend (15:15).
I am chosen and appointed by Christ to bear His fruit (15:16).

Romans
I am a slave of righteousness (6:18).
I am enslaved to God (6:22).
I am a son of God; God is spiritually my Father (8: 14, 15; Galatians 3:26; 4:6).
I am a joint heir with Christ, sharing His inheritance with Him (8:17).

1 Corinthians
I am a temple—a dwelling place—of God. His Spirit and His life dwell in me (3:16; 6:19).
I am united to the Lord and am one spirit with Him (6:17).
I am a member of Christ’s body (12:27; Ephesians 5:30).

2 Corinthians
I am a new creation (5:17).
I am reconciled to God and am a minister of reconciliation (5: 18, 19).

Galatians
I am a son of God and one in Christ (3:26, 28). I am an heir of God since I am a son of God (4:6, 7).

Ephesians
I am a saint (1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:2).
I am God’s workmanship—His handiwork—born anew in Christ to do His work (2:10).
I am a fellow citizen with the rest of God’s family (2:19).
I am a prisoner of Christ (3:1; 4:1).
I am righteous and holy (4:24).

Philippians
I am a citizen of heaven, seated in heaven right now (3:20; Ephesians 2:6).

Colossians
I am hidden with Christ in God (3:3).
I am an expression of the life of Christ because He is my life (3:4).
I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved (3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4).

1 Thessalonians
I am a son of light and not of darkness (5:5).

Hebrews
I am a holy partaker of a heavenly calling (3 1)
I am a partaker of Christ; I share in His life (3:14).

1 Peter
I am one of God’s living stones, being built up in Christ as a spiritual house (2:5).
I am a member of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession (2:9, 10).
I am an alien and stranger to this world in which I temporarily live (2:11).
I am an enemy of the devil (5:8).

1 John
I am a child of God and I will resemble Christ when He returns (3:1, 2).
I am born of God, and the evil one—the devil—cannot touch me (5:18).

So, learn who you are “in Christ” and no longer allow your identity to be stolen or tarnished by anyone – including the devil.

Got Your Running Shoes On?

The world says “seeing is believing”. The Christian states: “Believing is seeing”. Two totally opposite approaches to life and the things that make up life for the average human being.

However, it has recently seemed to me that many Christians have moved over to the “seeing is believing” camp. They need to feel wind move through a service, see gem stones on the floor or gold dust in the air or on their hands, free-flowing oil would be good, spot an angel, be slain in the Spirit, have a vision or receive a dream … and numerous other “events” that help the Christian to believe that God was there, that God touched them and that the preacher or prophet is anointed.

Instead, believe every word that God says. Believe the Bible. When I was first saved over 30 years ago there was a silly little saying – “God said it, I believe it, that settles it”. Maybe it is not so silly afterall.

Here’s a good piece of advice – never reduce your theology to your experience! Never limit your understanding of God to what you can see and touch. He is much greater than what you can see, feel, and touch. Don’t box Him in or limit Him in your life; don’t limit your understanding of Him by requiring Him to show you before you will believe – just believe because He said it. You see, God will not allow Himself to be boxed in like that.

Thomas – the doubting apostle – needed to see to believe (John 20:24-29). Jesus said to Him: “more blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe”. In other words, those who are walking by faith and not by sight are blessed.

How is your walk with the Lord these days? Walking by faith or are you, in many ways, waiting to see what is happening first before jumping in or getting involved or even getting excited about things?

We are to walk expectantly – because God is always up to somthing and we need to be excited, enthusiastic, anticipating what God is about to do, and ready to become involved while it is still in the “I believe even though I don’t see it” stage. We need to listen to the voice of the true prophets and apostles and hear what God is up to. The Bible states that God will always reveal His plan to them (Amos 3:7-8). But, be very careful, because there are many false prophets and false apostles out there.

Walking by faith and not by sight can be very practical. Do you have a passport? If not, then you are in rebellion because the Lord has commanded all Christians “to go into all the world…” and today, to do that, you need a passport. So, if God spoke to you today and told you to go to South America you would not be able to go … and thus would be in rebellion.

Do you have your spiritual (and maybe actual) running shoes on?

Running shoes? What have running shoes got to do with walking by faith? Well, the Bible tells us that we are to “run the race”

1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Paul himself tells us that he had his runners on and that he was running the race…

Galatians 2:2 I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain.

Walking by faith may mean running to keep up with what God is doing today or will be doing tomorrow. We need to be ready – and have our running shoes on as this is what it means to “walk by faith” … to be ready for whatever might be going on as the Holy Spirit moves.

It is time to walk (run) by faith and not by sight. It is time to live like men and women of faith believing God. It is time to get out your running shoes and finish your race. Run with perseverance and never, ever give up!

Spiritual Junk Food #7

How do we learn to eat right and move away from the junk food offered in many venues and by many preachers today?

Iverna Tompkins in a recent article speaks right into this issue. The points are her’s and the commentary is mine …

1> We must stir up hunger in our hearts by seeking God.

Too often we seek after or follow some preacher or minister – this priest, that pastor, the most prominent televsion preacher, a youth leader. We often seek after the latest bandwagon to come along – Toronto, Pensacola, Lakeland … We will flock to the current conference or crusade. But, we need to hunger and thirst for more of God.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

We are not blessed (happy) simply by being hungry – but because we are hungry for and craving righteousness. Righteousness is a gift from God that we receive when we are born again – we become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus according to Paul the apostle. That does not mean we are sinless but that we have repented of our sin and put our total trust and hope in God.

2> Secondly, and I sound like a broken record as I have blogged on this many times before – we must learn to discern. We need to be able to discern between the holy and the profane, between what is God and what is just good. We need to be able to discern between what God is really saying and what is simply a person’s idea or the thinking of the majority at the moment.

“Discernment is the ability to distinguish between what is true and right and what is false and inappropriate.” (Iverna Tompkins) This is then applied to each and every situation and teaching. The Bible states:

1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Paul tells us the same thing…

1Thessalonians 5:21-22 Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

Discernment is the start of a proper defense against untruth and subtle deception. The Holy Spirit can help us to know if we are facing the work of the devil or the wickedness of man. So that we can protect ourselves from what is not God although it may sound like God.

As I have blogged about this topic a number of times – each time I come back to the same issue. The only way to know the counterfeit is the get a real feel for the real. We learn to discern by learning how to “rightly divide the truth”. You learn to do this by following Paul’s advice to Timothy – “Study to show yourself approved”. We need to have our minds renewed through the Word (Romans 12:1-2) so that we will instantly recognize when something is not ‘of the Word’ but ‘of the world’. As we grow in the knowledge of the Lord and His ways we will continue to mature in our ability to see as God sees.

Spirit-led discernment comes from a well-grounded knowledge of the Word of God – our Bible.

Not a new problem…

Hebrews 5:12-14 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

So, Christian – it is time to eat daily from God’s Word. Cut all excuses and rationalizations. Stick your nose in The Book and learn His Word. This is what Jesus meant when He stated (a repeat from Deuteronomy)…

Matthew 4:4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

Jeremiah knew the same truth:

Jeremiah 15:16 Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.

So, we need to put down that novel, that remote control, that magazine or newspaper and pick up the Good News – the Word of the Lord – the Bible that sits collecting dust on the coffee table or bookshelf. Read it to gain knowledge and direction – knowledge of the Lord whom you follow and direction for the day. Read it in the evening (before bed) to still your heart and mind and fill your inner man with God-thoughts before going to sleep. You will then wake up with God on your mind. A great way to start the day – better than even Folger’s in your cup.

Spiritual Junk Food #6

As Christians we apparently lack discernment. We are no longer “picky eaters” but, instead, eat everything that is set before us without apparently questioning the source or the teaching. We don’t ask: “Is this material that is being taught good for me?” As a result, we are so full of “junk” or wrong beliefs that we are not hungry for the truth and for God’s Word any more. We settle for food that has not been “tried and tested” and so our thinking is often contrary to the Word (“As a man thinks, so is he”) and our appetite for godly principles upon which to base life is almost completely gone.

As a result of eating too much junk food the Christian…

1> Is basicly biblically illiterate and unable to discern truth from error when listening to someone who claims to be a Christian and a Bible teacher
2> Has no appetite for the Word of God and so seldom reads the Word and when they do they have little understanding of the Word they read
3> The concept of “study to show yourself approved” is no longer basic to the life of the believer
4> Is unable to explain the Gospel in such a way as to allow others to understand the basic message that the Church is mandated to preach
5> Is not aware of the basic doctrines of the Christian faith over and above the basic Gospel
6> Forgos their witness in favor of majority thinking
7> Puts popularity over purity in their list of values to live by
8> The fear of God has disappeared and the believer now fears man and fears not being politically correct
9> Is no longer interested in solid Bible teaching and so goes to Sunday worship for the song service which never does reach “worship” and then fades if the teaching is challenging them to change and requires some thought and application
10> Acceptance becomes allowance
11> Love loses it power because the believer is not willing to “speak the truth in love” or receive truth “spoken in love” and instead the truth is written off as judgmental, critical and non-Christian
12> Prayer is no longer practiced either in the individual’s life or in the life of the Church
13> Fasting is a way to convince God to do something on their behalf
14> The Word is treated more as a fortune cookie than as a guide for daily living
15> Water baptism is treated as an option – usually ignored by the believer
16> The Baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues are both overly emotional as well as embarrassing
17> Witnessing is, at best, something a few do as part of “the program” one night a week and not something that the “normal believer” would need to concern themselves about
18> No longer believes that there is only one way to Heaven – Jesus – but that other religions are good and speak truth and so people of other faiths are spiritual and safe from Hell, if there is such a thing as Hell
19> Has become a consumer and is no longer wanting to be a part of a “faith community”
20> No longer believes they have any responsibilities except to look after number #1 and certainly they do not have any accountability to other Christians
21> Runs from special to special – conference to conference – looking for the next “thing” and another jolt of God to last until the next new thing comes along
22> No longer looks to the local church as a place that feeds them and cares for them and where they can find and experience God
23> No longer deals with internal, heart issues but instead makes minor adjustments to lifestyle and external things hoping that everything will be alright eventually – self-help with a spiritual sugar-coating
24> Believes that Oprah and Dr. Phil are more relevant and “with it” than their local pastor is and that what they teach is good and wholesome and spiritual – and presented in a better way than the message their small, local church struggles to present

Should I go on?

The Church is in a mess – and, in most aspects of its corporate life, no longer healthy.

But there is a solution! (see Spiritual Junk Food #7)

Spiritual Junk Food #5

The Spiritual Junk Food:

Many today believe that they can “go to Church” simply by visiting with other Christians in a local coffee shop – Tim Horton’s, Baskin-Robins, Java Express, Second Cup, Robin’s Donuts, or the corner mom and pop restaurant.

George Barna in his book “Revolution” comments that in a few years this will be the predominate way to “do Church”. Others believe that the day is coming when there will be no need for the local Church, All activities pertaining to our faith lives will take place in homes and in the marketplace.

The Meat of the Word:

Hebrews 10:24-25 Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.

When we don’t meet with other believers we miss all that God is wanting to reveal to us. His revelation of truth when we are with Him daily during our quiet time or devotions is great. But He reserves some truths for when His people gather together for corporate worship and the teaching of God’s Word. God reveals certain things corporately and when we are not attending regularly or have stopped going altogether in favour of a latte at Starbucks on a Sunday morning – we miss this corporate revelation and thus miss “some of God”.

I am not sure why it is that we think we need to redesign and redefine Church. The Church is God’s idea not ours. It has changed a great deal over the centuries. Yes, man has messed with it and messed it up at times. No, it is not perfect and never will be this side of Heaven. But, it is God’s design and we must remember it is His Church and so He gets to tell us what it is all about and how it is to work.

The Church is people – not buildings. Good, we have that settled. However, the Church – the people – are called to gather weekly to fellowship, encourage, learn, pray, and worship. There are many scriptures that encourage the need for a place to gather together and worship. It is in this place that we are taught and discipled, and here that we learn to recognize and appreciate the gifts, calling, and the five-fold ministries Jesus gave to His Church.

This “have coffee will travel spiritually” is especially strong in the west of our nations. The ‘wild west’ was founded on rugged individualism – ‘just me and my horse riding off into the sunset’. This, of course, has been made famous in the thousands of western movies and television shows that have come out of Hollywood. But we need to remember that even The Lone Ranger had Tonto. We all need one another and the corporate body to speak into our lives – not just a select few that we like and appreciate who we can invite for a coffee when it is convenient and we feel like it.

In the local church we need to be sitting under the ministry of the “teacher” as this is a key to our spiritual growth as believers. This has been and still is one of the major ministries of the Church of Jesus Christ. There is still a great need for the five-fold ministry of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher in the Church today. They are gifts to the Church – not to individual believers.

Of course, today it is easy to simply pick our favourite teachers – television preachers, authors, internet church, CDs and DVDs … But they speak generally to the Body of Christ and they work like a shotgun with the teachings and ‘revelations’ they share. In the local church the teacher can work like a rifle and aim at one target that is specific to that local body and minister God’s Word to that area of need or hurt or growth…

When I preach locally in the church here – I can gear the teaching to the people. It is the same when I travel to other churches and teach at services or run special meetings. I can, and often do, go to the location months in advance to sense what is happening spiritually so that I can speak into the spiritual issues being faced by that local church or the town, city, and district.

However, as I write my first book – it is much less specific and much more “general” as I don’t know who will be reading it (if anyone) and what their needs are. As I write and prepare for the launch of our radio program on the 14th of September it is the same – a general approach to the Word as we shotgun it to God’s people.

We need the local church. We need strong local churches. We need churches that teach and preach the uncompromised Word of the Lord. Can never happen in Dunkin Donuts and never will. God did not design it that way.

Grow Up or Move On!

Just returning a book on how to cast out demons including a chapter or two on how to free people who have been deeply involved in the Masonic Lodge. Behind me on my “study table”, where I keep piles of books relating to upcoming teaching engagements and research projects, there is a section of books dealing with the Religious Spirit, the Jezebel Spirit, and the needless casualities of spiritual wars. I have also recently finished a wonderful book by Guy Chevreau called “Spiritual Warfare Sideways”. Worth a read.

Here is what I believe … after many years in the Church and in the trenches and as someone who works daily with people and has spent a life-time studying and watching people as I work at understanding this part of God’s creation.

I believe that if we are truly converted and thus born again – that we have been rescued from the domain of darkness and find ourselves in the Kingdom of God (Colossians 1:13).

I believe that Jesus redeemed us (purchased us back) and that what He now possesses He can protect until the day we go home to Heaven to be with Him.

I read a verse 30+ years ago that impacted my life. It is found in 1 John which is a book of the Bible telling us what it means to be really saved or born again. Here we find listed numerous fruits and life changes that should be evident in a person’s life if they are truly in a relationship with the living God through Jesus Christ. The verse…

We know that those who have become part of God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot get his hands on them. (1 John 5:18)

I believe that if we are truly saved – and our life is being lived according to Bible standards that you don’t need to think about nor deal with the Devil in any way, shape, or form.

I believe that we glorify the Devil and his work when we focus on what he is doing, the damage he is supposedly causing (usually the flesh controlling things), and the things his demonic forces are up to.

I believe that we need to realize that the devil was defeated on Calvary’s Cross and thus is a totally defeated enemy – that Jesus dealt with him and permanently defeated him with His death on the Cross of Calvary and His bodily resurrection from the grave.

I believe that if the believer will stay focused on Jesus Christ who is Lord in their lives (if He really is) and if the local assembly will focus on Jesus who is the Head of the Church – then the Devil will find no place to do his work and will simply move on.

I believe that when we talk about and focus on warfare, demons, the devil, and the darkness – then the Devil sees this as a great playground for his work and he sets up camp and begins to work hard to distract believers from the worship of the Living God. Often not hard work for him as so many believers seem so willing to go down what appears to be an exciting pathway.

I believe we do have demonic opposition – but they have been defeated by the work of the Cross and so don’t deserve a great deal of our time. If the Church and the Christian are walking with the Lord in a close and intimate relationship (John 17:3) then we will not need to even bother with them except…

I believe the exception is when we move from the Kingdom of Light out as ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) into the domain of darkness … then we will be dealing with people who are oppressed and possessed by darkness and the demons of Hell. Then, we, as believers, will need to know how to deal with the demonic realm – knowing our authority and the power that is given to those who walk in His authority.

However, I believe that if the person you are ministering to rteally wants to be saved and thus delivered from the darkness they have been embracing and living with – that there will not be a “war” or even a fight. The demons cannot stay where they are not wanted any longer and so, if the person wants to be free of them, we will not need to struggle with them – but simply command them to leave in Jesus’ name. The fight comes when the person is not being honest, is not repenting, and is not wanting to be totally free of the influence of the demonic darkness. Then you are simply wasting your time – it will be a real war as you fight more against the will of man than the power of the defeated demons. And, they will simply return to the person and bring their friends along with them (Matthew 12:43-45)

In the Christian Church there is an emphais on warfare – spiritual warfare. Great if we are talking about The Great Commission dealing with scouting expeditions into the domain of darkness to rescue the P.O.W. and bring him or her into the Kingdom of Light. Great if we are doing this at the guidance of the Holy Spirit and empowered by Him (Acts 1:8). Great if we are relying on God and not ourselves …

The prophet Isaiah repeatly warns against those who “rely on horses, who put their trust in chariots…but do not look to the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 31:1)

The prophet Isaiah is insistent: the people of God must attend to a warfare of worship.

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. (Isaiah 30:15)

He could say the same thing today in many streams of the Christian Church – “but you would have none of it”.

Similarly, the psalmist declares that it is the Lord who “…makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire. (Psalm 46:9)

And, God’s people are very clearly recruited in the fight against the darkness (soul winning), but the marching orders are otherworldly: “Be still, and know that I am God; (Psalm 46:10)

Jehoshaphat learned this lesson about warfare in 2 Chronicles 20 … He simply needed to have his people focus on Yahweh and worship Him and the rest took care of itself.

2 Chronicles 20:21-22 After consulting the leaders of the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the LORD and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang: “Give thanks to the LORD; his faithful love endures forever!” At the moment they began to sing and give praise, the LORD caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves.

If we stay focused on Jesus who has already won the battle – then even when in the front trenches of spiritual warfare on the streets and in homes winning the lost – we will not need to engage the enemy directly because he is already defeated. Remember, he is not able to keep any person from being saved or born again when this is what they want to do and have decided to do. Warfare – well, yes in the sense you are rescuing people from spiritual darkness – but there should really be little to no fuss once you realize that you are on the side that has already won. So, announce the victory of Jesus over the devil and watch the demons flee and the people be set free without a stuggle, fight or battle.

True Spiritual warfare – the battle for souls – is best managed when we simply keep our eyes on Jesus, listen to what He has already told us to do (“Go into all the world … win the lost”), and listen to the “marching orders for today”. Do what you are told to do and say what He told you to say today … no fuss – simply victory every time.

A final note:

What passes today as spiritual warfare is really a war with the flesh of gifted but unbroken people who decide that they know best and begin to oppose the leadership of the local assembly. Their pride and unbrokenness – and thus their flesh – come willingly under the influence of the Spirit of Religion, Jezebel, Absalom or Levithian and the “war” is on.

It is a ‘civil war’ of sorts but is best dealt with swiftly as it will cause us to talk our eyes off of Jesus (the flesh is good at causing us to do that) and off the real spiritual war of “seeking and saving the lost” (Luke19:10).

As in any family – rebellious Children should not be allowed to occupy center stage for long nor should they be allowed to control or dictate the focus of the life of the family … they should repent and get right with God (this is the real battle being fought) or they should simply move on if they are not happy campers in that local assembly.

What passes for spiritual warfare today should really be classified as a spiritual diversion and a tactic of the devil taking us away from the real war of winning souls.

The Lame Bible – Publish Saturday the 2nd of August

Well they have finally suggested it. And what’s that, you ask?

Someone has suggested that we need another new translation of the Bible. Sounds good!

This person would like to see this Bible come out in electronic form and not printed on paper. In fact, they don’t want it to ever come out in book form as this would defeat the purpose of this new Bible translation.

They are pushing to have it available in every Church – in fact, in every pew. They think that everyone should have access to it each time they come to worship … sort of connected to the back of the pew in front of them like the television screens embedded in the back of the seat in front of you on the newer airlines.

Of course, everybody would have a home and mobile copy of this new edition of the Bible as well. One for their home computer and laptop and a copy on their Palm Pilot, Blackberry or new i-Phone.

This new edition of God’s Word would be called the LAME Bible. This is an acrostic for Locally Adaptive Multi-faith Edition of the Bible.

This edition of God’s Word would allow every individual with access to the computer screen to edit out or add in whatever they wanted to. They can edit out the passages that they don’t like or don’t want the pastor to preach on. They can add what they think God might have really said or even what they would like God to say. This way they can feel safe and secure; they can be comfortable and not challenged.

An added benefit would be that they could take out all the passages that upset those of another faith – Baptist or Presbyterian; Jewish or Muslim. This would help us to be more loving and accepting and avoid all these arguments about which religion and which way is right. Wow! Good idea.

But here is the kicker – why bother with a new edition or another version when a lot of Christians already do just these things with their current Bible. They add their own meaning to passages in God’s Word or interpret the Word to suit their own lifestyle. They ignore what they don’t like and avoid what they find uncomfortable. They certainly don’t dwell on any passage that says we are different than other religions and that we have the answer and are the only way to go because that would be narrow minded. So, why a new edition when we are already doing everything the new Bible would allow us to do with our old Bibles?