Author Archives: uncompromisedchristianity

HOW COVID19 EXPOSED THE TRUE CONDITION OF THE CHURCH

Pastors that I know who lead large churches tell me that they’ve lost literally hundreds of members due to the pandemic shutdowns. These people neither watch online nor have returned to church when in person services resume. This phenomena has led to discussions about what the church will look like after covid19, which has led many to say that we’ll need to “rethink” and “redo” how we do church in the future and will need to “relaunch” after the pandemic is over. In other words, we’ll need to be creative and “think outside the box” in order to entice these people back to church.

How sad. I believe that the loss of so many people who have decided not to return to church is just a symptom of a deeper problem – many of those who attended church in the past weren’t really in love with Jesus. Their relationship with Him was shallow, and they did not have a solid biblical and theological foundation. They occupied a chair or place on a pew on Sunday mornings, but their heart was far from Him.

Which brings up the cause for this tragedy – the church didn’t build them up in their faith. All this talk about “revamping how we do church” is a serious indictment that we weren’t “doing” church correctly before the pandemic hit, and covid19 just exposed this.

The church today is saturated with lots of “stuff” – myriads of programs, high energy praise bands, the latest technology, latte bars and lounges, rock star pastors that exude “cool”, and services that include movie clips, skits, interpretive dance, motivational sermons, and a casual laid back atmosphere where we are encouraged to come and “have fun”.

I wonder, where is Jesus in all of this?

Sadly, while His name in mentioned in church services, He is not the focus. The focus, unfortunately, is on everything but Him. If we had put the focus on Him, this idea of “redoing” and “relaunching” church would be moot. In the last 30 years or so the church became so clever and cute that it forgot that it exists for one purpose – to bring Him glory. Worship services are supposed to be just that – times to worship Him collectively as a church family. Sermons were supposed to be geared to help Christians grow deeper in their faith, not to give a theologically light feel good motivational speech centered on “me”. Praise bands were supposed to lead us into the presence of our awesome God and set the atmosphere for true worship, not to entertain us with their dazzling array of skills and smoke and mirrors performance. Programs were supposed to enhance our spiritual growth, not be times of social activity with just a smattering of theological content.

We got it all wrong.

If we were doing it right, we wouldn’t feel the need to redo that way we do church in order to get people that we lost to to church. Being innovative, having more programs, enhancing the technology we use in the service, exuding more “cool” and being more “relevant” aren’t the answer. Jesus is.

Jesus is enough.

If we had just focused on Jesus to begin with, we wouldn’t find ourselves in the situation we currently are in. If we would have just kept it simple and poured our energies into magnifying Him and going deep into His word, that would have been enough. My friends, Jesus is ALWAYS enough. If people would have really known Him deeply and had a deep love for Him, they would flock back to church because they want to know Him more and worship Him with their church family.

Jesus is enough.

The enemy has distracted us with many other things to get our focus off of the One who was, is, and always should be the main focus of everything. There’s nothing wrong with simple Christianity. We don’t need latte bars, fancy bands, overbooked church calendars to keep people busy, or every technological gadget on the market. We need to magnify Jesus. When we highlight these other things, the focus gets placed on them. When we highlight Jesus, the focus gets placed on Him. And that is where it is supposed to be. When He is the center of all we do, everything else takes care of itself.

Is it time to “redo” the way we do church? Yes! It’s time to make all the other “stuff” in church smaller and make Jesus bigger. It’s time to simplify things and focus on Him. it’s time to build a strong, unshakeable foundation in people by going deep into Scripture. It’s time to guide people into a deep, intimate relationship with Him.

In the words of John the Baptist, “He must increase, and [we] must decrease”.

Jesus is enough!!

IT’S NOT OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY

It’s a phrase that you see and hear everywhere – on church signs, on church websites, in sermons, and in contemporary Christian music. It’s a phrase that people gravitate to and have accepted wholeheartedly. What is the phrase? “It’s okay not to be okay”.

This is true in the context of those who have not trusted in Jesus as Savior – those who are not saved are unregenerated sinners who come to Him in their rebellious lifestyles and, when they repent of their sin and by faith trust in Him, they are forgiven and born again. They don’t have to “clean up their act” before being saved. The indwelling Holy Spirit will empower them to to do this after they are saved. So, unbelievers come to Jesus in a “not okay” state.

However, way too many born again Christians have adopted this phrase for their lives. They love this phrase because it justifies their sloppy, mediocre lifestyle that is far from the standard set by Jesus for those who would follow Him. Pastors and musicians tell people that we are all flawed and messed up but it’s okay because Jesus loves us anyway. Well, yes, we all are flawed Jesus does loves us with an unconditional love. That’s not in question.

However, it’s not okay for a truly born again believer in Jesus to not be okay. Why? Because truly born again believers have the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity indwelling them, and He equips them with everything necessary to live a God pleasing life that glorifies Him. Look at these verses:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3).

These verses tell us that we have everything necessary to live a godly life, and that’s because of the indwelling Holy Spirit. You see, we have the power to be “okay”. Now be careful here. I’m not talking about perfection, as no one in this life will ever be perfect (Jesus was the only one to walk this earth in perfection). But what I’m talking about is a life that is on the journey of true discipleship, a live that hungers and thirsts for holiness and righteousness, and a life that tenaciously strives to make God smile. A life that knows there are higher heights to climb and deeper depths to plunge. A life that is never satisfied and content with where they are at spiritually.

Sadly, in today’s Christianity, the bar of discipleship has been set way too low, so low, in fact, that most Christians are satisfied with just a shadow of the life they have been called to live. Most Christians just shrug their shoulders and say “well, I’m not perfect and God loves me anyway, so everything is fine”. What a defeatist, pathetic resignation.

Jesus, however set the bar extremely high. Read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, and look at these statements by Jesus:

Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me'”. (Luke 9:23)

“In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples”. (Luke 14:33)

Wow, these words that tell us that it’s not okay to be not okay. Jesus is telling us that we are to be sold out disciples, surrendered to Him and devoted to Him above everything else. Being not okay is just an excuse for not surrendering to Him in every aspect of our lives and not dying to self so that He can be Lord, and I mean truly Lord, of our lives.

Scripture often tells us to live a life here on earth worthy of our awesome God:

” As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (Ephesian 4:1)

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel…” (Philippians 1:27)

“…so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God…” (Colossians 1:10)

“For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children,
encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory”. (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12)


All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering”. (2 Thessalonians 1:5)

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ”. (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)

What is a life that is worthy of God? One that is passionate for Him, and is thus passionate for holiness because such a life glorifies Him and dives deep in intimacy with Him. A life worthy of God is the life that dies to self, embraces spiritual brokenness, and is on the journey of surrender to Him. A life worthy of God lives in the attitude of humility and repentance, being quick to acknowledge sin when we, in our imperfection, fall short of His holy standards. But alas, most Christians don’t want this. They want just enough of Jesus to get to heaven but not enough of Him to make Him Lord of their lives, so they live life carrying the banner “it’s okay not to be okay”.

Tragically, far too many Christians have taken the high bar that Jesus set for His followers and lowered it to make themselves feel good and to justify their mediocre walk with Him. However, for those who are the journey of true discipleship and holiness, for those who intentionally die to self and surrender their wills to Him daily, they are the ones that bring glory to Him (which is why we exist). This leads to walking in His manifest presence, which leads to the full, abundant life Jesus said He came to give (John 10:10).

My friends, don’t buy the pathetic fad phrase of the day – “it’s okay not to be okay”. Strive, in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, to live according to His standards, not the popular notion of shallow Christians. Surrender all of yourself to Him, follow Him with all your heart, and live a life that is worthy of our glorious, awesome Savior. This is life at its pinnacle.

WAS THE ELECTION A GOOD THING?

Our country is now in control of a party whose platform has no room for God or His moral absolutes. In fact, it is actually anti-God. Many Christians are alarmed at the election results and are deeply concerned about losing religious freedom and the potential of immoral laws being passed. Additionally, many Christians are devastated that their hero, Donald Trump, will no longer be their protector in Washington. To be sure, President Trump was a force for Christian values – appointing pro-life judges and standing up for the rights of the church by affirming our religious freedom, for example. But, I wonder, is it really such a bad thing that the election went the way it did? Too many Christians held President Trump as their champion in the midst of an immoral society and as God’s chosen man to bring the United States back to Himself. Unfortunately, our hope was placed in a flawed human being instead of God. Now we have no one in Washington who will defend Christianity. Perhaps we Christians will finally come to realize that a politician or political party aren’t the answer to the darkness that envelops our nation. Perhaps now we will finally realize that God is Sovereign over the rise and fall of nations, and He is the only one who can save us from the mess we find ourselves in. America is at the point where human intervention is useless. As a nation, we have been so brazen in our rebellion against God that nothing less than a sweeping move of God in revival will save us. Perhaps we, the church will finally, finally, finally fall on our faces before our holy, righteous God in repentance for our own sins, the sins of His church, and the sins of our nation and cry out to Him for mercy and revival. Perhaps now the church will finally get serious about prayer with a sense of urgency because America is on the threshold of judgment. Perhaps now we will tear down our idols that we have built in the form of a politician and political party and put our hope in God alone. Perhaps, now, God might send revival.

WHY WE EXIST

For centuries, everyone from philosophers to theologians to thinkers to everyday people have wrestled with the purpose of life and have pondered questions like “why am I here?” and “why do I exist?”. Many theories and ideas have surfaced from hedonism which says we exist for our pleasure and happiness, to existentialism that says we are masters of our own fate and captains of our own ship, to illusionism that says all life is just a mirage and we need to realize that we are just a microscopic part of the universal oneness, to those who say that we exist only as a result of random chance as byproducts of evolution.

These answers result in hopelessness, emptiness, and inevitably lead to the conclusion that life has no real value. Is it any wonder, then, that suicide among young people is so high? Without meaning and purpose, hope is vanquished and it’s natural to become despondent. And those who live without meaning and hope think that their only way out of this meaningless existence is to end it. Also, is it any wonder that the moral condition of our society is in such a horrible condition? If this life is all there is, if there is nothing beyond our few years on this planet, then we might as well eat, drink, and be merry right now, and do whatever brings us happiness now, which leads to seeking that pleasure in sex, drugs, alcohol, cheating to get ahead, materialism, and other behaviors that are totally self centered.

However, there is a very simple answer to the questions “why am I here?” and “why do I exist?”. We exist for God’s glory. Period. Every human being is an intentional, specific, and unique creation of God, and we exist because He wanted us to. He created us to be worshipers of Himself and to have a deep, intimate relationship with Him.

My friend, your heart is beating at this very moment and you are breathing this very second for one purpose – to glorify Him.

He is the Creator and sustainer of the universe, and, as it says in Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands”. All created things declare His glory by their very existence even though they are inanimate things or a part of the animal world. How much more, then, should we human beings, the only part of His creation that is created in His image (which means that we, unlike the other parts of God’s creation have an eternal soul, have the ability to make moral choices, and can have a relationship with our creator) bring Him glory. Such an awesome, powerful, majestic, glorious, righteous, and holy being as God is worthy of and deserves nothing less than our undivided worship.

Life is not about us. It is about Him. When we live with this reality as the driving force of our lives, we will than experience the reality for which we were created, and life will have full meaning and purpose. We will then live with hope and confidence in the future because we belong to Him and know that our eternity is secure in the blood of Jesus. We know, without any doubt, that this life is not all there is.

How do we glorify God in our everyday lives? Simply by dying to self and surrendering every facet of our lives to Him. And this is evidenced by our obedience to His Word. We glorify Him in our marriages when husbands truly love their wives as Jesus loved the church and when wives respect their husbands as the God ordained leader of the family. We glorify Him in our families when we teach our kids Biblical truth, invest our time into their lives, and set a godly example for them to follow. We glorify God in the workplace by working with excellence, honesty, integrity, and character. We glorify God in our entertainment choices by viewing movies and television programs, logging on to websites, and reading books and magazines that meet His standard of moral purity. We glorify God in our finances by being content with a simple lifestyle so we can invest in His Kingdom work on earth. We glorify God in our church by humbly serving where He leads, caring for our church family, and not causing dissension. We glorify God in our spiritual lives when we spend consistent time in prayer, studying His Word so that we know what we believe (theology), why we believe it (apologetics), and how we believe it (practically living it out), and by maturing in our Christian walk. And we glorify God in our interactions with others by being humble servants instead of putting ourselves first.

To sum it up, we glorify God when the primary desire of our heart is to know Him intellectually, pursue Him relentlessly, approach Him reverently, love him intimately, follow Him unconditionally, worship Him passionately, stand up for Him unashamedly, serve Him excellently, and enjoy Him gladly.

We exist to bring Him glory. Life is not about us. Life has been, is, and will always be about Him. When we embrace this truth, our lives will take on the greatest meaning and purpose possible in the human experience. May this define us in 2021.

THE VITAL CONNECTION BETWEEN BROKENNESS AND REVIVAL

Many Christians today have realized that we desperately need revival. Whether it’s an end times revival (as I wrote about in my last post) or a revival to get the country back to God so we can glorify Him as we proceed into the future, it is our only hope. I’ve written quite extensively on revival in the last twenty years, as God has placed a heavy burden for this deep in my heart. I’ve also written extensively on the crucial importance of spiritual brokenness (which includes surrender and dying to self) in every follower of Jesus.

And there is a vital link between brokenness and revival. In fact, without spiritual brokenness there cannot be revival. Let me explain.

Brokenness is our deep understanding that we, in and of ourselves, are helpless without God. When left to ourselves, we are a mess and are far from glorifying Him. Brokenness is when we realize this, hate our sin and our mediocre walk with God, surrender control of our lives to His Lordship, and die to self (the old nature that is worldly and not glorifying to God). Brokenness is when we, in an act of our will and in total desperation, abandon all rights to ourselves to God and let Him be in control. Simply put, without spiritual brokenness, we cannot truly glorify God the way He deserves. To be sure, brokenness is a life time journey that needs to be cultivated on an ongoing basis, but the initial decision to make this a permanent part of our lives is one that we all need to make. (author’s note: see detailed discussions on brokenness in the posts “The Wholeness of Brokenness” and “Lord Break Me – A Bold and Daring Prayer”; on surrender in the posts “Its All About Surrender” and “Signing the Blank Contract”; and on dying to self in the posts “Dying to Self – the Key to Life” and “The Three Words that Change Everything”).

How, then, does brokenness tie into revival? Revival, which brings complacent, lukewarm, and/or backslidden Christians back to life, comes only when God’s people see their sin, take responsibility for it, repent from the depths of their souls, and cry out to God for forgiveness and mercy. It is humbling ourselves before our holy God and doing whatever is necessary to regain a deep, intimate relationship with Him. It is performing radical surgery in our lives – getting rid of anything and everything that doesn’t bring Him glory. It is realizing just how much we need Him and just how much we want Him. It is a dying to self because you know your old self will never glorify Him and never grow into deep intimacy with Him. It is surrendering to Him because you know that only He can give you the strength and power to live in His will for His glory.

Brokenness is understanding with our minds that we need Him above everything else in life, and desiring with our heart that we want Him above everything else in life. It is a deep rooted humility that knows that you have nothing to offer Him but your brokenness, and coming to Him in total dependency in everything in your life.

A broken spirit is the one God will revive.

And when God revives a broken Christian, the results are incredible – a renewed love for and devotion to Him; a God empowered life that hungers and thirsts for holiness because he/she understands that without holiness it is impossible to glorify him; a life that is a shining light that bears much fruit for the Kingdom of God in this dark world; and a life that exhibits peace, joy, hope, and purpose because he/she abides in the glorious presence of God.

But, it all starts with brokenness. Allow me to say it again – without spiritual brokenness there can be no revival.

Many today quote 2 Chronicles 7:14 when discussing revival: “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land”. If you look closely, this verse is all about brokenness – “humble themselves” (in deep acknowledge of their sin), “seek my face” (surrender totally to His Lordship), “turn from their wicked ways” (die to self by repenting of their sin and doing radical surgery to cut out anything that is not pleasing to God). Yes, many people quote this verse, but I wonder how many are really willing to be broken by actually doing what it says.

My friends, our nation needs revival. The church in America needs revival. I need revival. Do you? Are you willing to come to Him in total brokenness so that He can bring a glorious revival in your life?

There can be no revival without spiritual brokenness… in me…and in you.

ARE THESE THE LAST DAYS FOR AMERICA?

Our country, and the world, is in turmoil – a global pandemic, governments exerting almost dictatorial powers in the name of protecting its citizens from the pandemic, economic disaster, hard working people losing their businesses and jobs in record numbers, racial unrest, anarchists roaming city streets burning and looting at will as they attempt to overthrow the very foundations on which our country was founded upon, and a corrupt, dysfunctional government more concerned about their political power than the country or their constituents. People look around with a sense of fear, dread, and anxiousness, and wonder what the future holds.

Are we living in the last days? Is Jesus coming back soon ?

It is very important to keep in mind that the Bible very clearly states that no one knows the day or the hour when Jesus will rapture His church, which will usher in the events of the end times. In what is referred to as the the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24-25) Jesus taught about the end times and the signs that would accompany them. In Matthew 24:36 Jesus said:  “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”, and He said this in Matthew 25:13: “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”. Thus, all of those who set dates for the second coming of Jesus are dangerously overstepping Jesus’ words. Jesus did, however, in the same Olivet Discourse, tell His disciples, and, by extension all of those who would be His followers throughout the ages, to be watching for the signs that would precede His second coming and to be ready (Matthew 24:33, 42-44, 25:13).

The signs that will precede the end times are are found in many places in the Bible (the books of Daniel, Matthew, Revelation, etc). To be sure, every generation since Jesus’ ascension thought that He was coming back in their days. But, obviously, He didn’t. However, at no other time in human history have events and circumstances that the Bible says characterize the end times lined up so remarkably as they do today.

Are we living in the last days? Only God knows, but, to bring it a little closer to home, are these the last days of the United States? As I study what the Bible teaches about the end times, there is never a mention of any nation from the west. Nations from the east, north, and south are mentioned in the passages about the end times (Ezekiel 38:1-6, Daniel 11:40-42, Revelation 16:22) but never one from the west. Why is this? I believe it is because the western world deteriorates into irrelevance and self destructs before the events of the last days start to unfold.

Look at western Europe, it is virtually irrelevant in the world as it has crumbled spiritually and morally. Canada has never been considered a world power, but they, too, have crumbled spiritually and morally just like western Europe. And the United States? We are doing our best to follow their path into oblivion. Yes, the U.S. is still the most powerful country on earth, but our brazen rebellion against God is sucking the very life out of our nation. I believe that America has tested God’s patience for too long and has crossed the line in its wickedness against God. And there’s no going back.

Just take a look at the state of our country. Abortion has taken the lives of over 61 million human beings, homosexuality is now accepted as mainstream, the sacredness of the marriage covenant as God designed it has been disgraced to include the legalization of gay marriage, casual sex (the “hook up” generation) has replaced God’s design for sex as being between one man and one woman in the context of the marriage covenant, gender is now based on the feelings of individuals and can be “changed” at will, prayer and any mention of Jesus has been banned from schools, right has become wrong and wrong has become right as political correctness has replaced God’s moral absolute laws, and the church has played the harlot with the world and become just like it. Do you think we have crossed the line?

Is there hope for America? I’m reminded of the Biblical account of King Manasseh’s reign over Judah, which, at 55 years, was the longest reign of any of the kings of Israel. He was so wicked and he led the nation into such deep apostacy that all hope was gone. Even though he repented at the end of his life (2 Chronicles 33:10-20) it was too late. His wickedness was so great that God was going to bring judgment on Judah through the nation of Babylon, which destroyed Jerusalem, slaughtered myriads of Jews, and took the rest captive back to Babylon. Even though his grandson, Josiah brought about a remarkable revival in Judah before Babylon conquered it (2 Chronicles 34-35), it was too late. Four times the Bible says that God was bringing judgment on the nation because of the sins of Manasseh (2 Kings 21:11-13, 23:26, 24:3-4; Jeremiah 15:4) in spite of his repentance and Josiah’s revival. The wickedness of Manasseh had been that vile, and God’s incredible patience ran out. America, are you paying attention?

Has the United States, like Judah under Manasseh, crossed the line of wickedness to the point of no return? Has God’s patience with us ran out? I am definitely not a prophet, but I believe so. And if so, we shouldn’t be surprised at the chaos that we are seeing in our nation, which is the result of our thumbing our nose at God for too long. And thus, just as the Bible prophecies, there will be no longer a power from the west in the end times events. Just how God will bring judgment on our nation is unknown, but it will be perfectly justified.

If indeed we are living in our nations waning days, what, then, do we do? Just curl up in the fetal position in fear and just hope that the rapture happens soon? Absolutely not! We need to be praying fervently for an end time revival. As God used King Josiah to bring about a revival in Judah before His certain judgment came, He can use us to bring one more revival to America before His judgment falls on our nation. This is our prayer, that God would hear our cries of repentance for the sins of our nation, the sins of the church, and our own sins, and send revival to His church in America. A revived church will glorify our awesome God and can be powerfully used by Him to bring many lost people to salvation before Jesus comes back for His church. In the midst of the growing darkness, an end time revival, a Third Great Awakening would be awesome!

As I said, my friends, I’m definitely not a prophet, and I dare not say “Thus says the Lord”, but these are the things I see as I read Scripture and observe the condition of our nation. I challenge you to study the biblical teachings about the end times and build a biblical theology of eschatology (the theology of the end times).

Finally, will you pray with me that God would send a powerful revival in our days?

SHOULD A CHRISTIAN EMBRACE THE “BLACK LIVES MATTER” MOVEMENT?

With the tragic, horrific death of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter group has taken center stage with demonstrations around the country. People of all races have joined the demonstrations, and more and more people of all ethnicities have joined the movement. But the question is: should a Christian embrace the BLM movement? Well, the answer to that is both yes and no.

Yes we should embrace the idea of Black Lives Matter in the sense that social justice must be given to all people regardless of race. Yes, in the sense that racism is diametrically opposed to God’s Word, and thus is sin. Every human being is an intentional, unique, specific creation of God and was created in His image, meaning human beings, unlike any other parts of God’s creation, have a moral will, an eternal soul, and the ability to commune with their Creator. Thus, all life is precious and sacred – Black White, Asian, Latino, Native American, and mixed races. The life of the 93 year old man with Alzheimer’s disease who doesn’t know his name or recognize his wife or kids is sacred, as is the child born with Down’s Syndrome, as is the tiny fetus in the mother’s womb. As Christians, we must champion equality and social justice for all human beings because God loves everyone.

No, we must not embrace or join the Black Lives Matter movement because their agenda has aspects that are totally opposed to Biblical morality. The “What We Believe” section of the BLM website includes these statements:

“We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.”

We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.

We foster a queer‐affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual (unless s/he or they disclose otherwise).

As you can see, the BLM movement rejects God’s design for sexuality by denouncing heterosexuality and embracing “queer” lifestyles, for gender by rebelling against God’s sovereign choice of gender for each person as either male or female by “deconstructing cisgender [i.e. denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex] privilege” and affirming transgenderism, and for family by “disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure” by saying “villages” are needed to raise kids instead of just parents. Thus, we, as followers of Jesus, cannot be identified with any organization or movement that promotes non-Biblical principles.

So, my friends, we need to be thinking Christians, thoroughly using our God given ability to discern right from wrong instead of relying on the knee jerk reactions of our emotions before jumping on a band wagon. We are responsible for our choices, so we must approach every situation with a Biblical world view. The Bible is the final and only authority on every matter of doctrine and practice, and, being God’s Word, it will always lead us to truth.

AN “EYEWITNESS” ACCOUNT OF THE CRUCIFIXION

Hi my friends. As we approach Good Friday and Easter, I thought I’d share this video of the apostle John’s first hand account of Jesus’ death on our behalf. It is my prayer that it might give you a deeper understanding of what Jesus went through on our behalf, and that you would grow deeper in love with Him and surrender all of yourself to Him. To Him be the glory forever!! Happy Easter!

LESSONS WE CAN LEARN FROM A PANDEMIC

I’ve been asked if the current corona virus pandemic is God’s judgement on the world for our rebellion against Him. Well, the answer to that loaded question is “yes” and “maybe, maybe not”.

“Yes” in the sense that all sickness, disease, famine, natural disasters, pestilences, and death are the result of sin. When Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, disobeying God’s clear command not to, sin entered God’s perfectly created universe and all of creation was cursed. There would now be calamities like hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis, The climate would be severe at times and the ground would now produce weeds that could be controlled only by hard labor. Disease entered creation and human beings would now get sick and die. So, all of these negative consequences of the fall are, in a sense, God’s judgment on sin.

The “maybe, maybe not” answer to the above question is that the current pandemic could be a judgement on our present society for our rebellion against Him, however, it could also not be God’s judgement. There have been numerous pandemics over the course of history so the question could be asked, then, “have all of the pandemic in history been God’s judgement”? We are not prophets so none of us has a direct pipeline into God’s dealings with mankind. So, then, the corona virus could be God’s judgement, but, on the other hand, it very well could not be. However, we know that God is sovereign over His universe, is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. This pandemic didn’t take Him by surprise, and He is not at a loss on what to do about it. He can let it go on indefinitely, or He can stop it in the next minute. Regardless of what He chooses to do, He has allowed this to happen, and God always has a holy purpose for everything He does or allows. He is not fickle or capricious, but rules His universe with purpose and intent in the context of His holiness. When He allows something like a pandemic or natural disaster to occur, we must take a step back and ask ourselves “what is God trying to tell us in this, what can we learn?”

So, then, what might God be trying to tell us in this current corona virus pandemic? Is God, perhaps, tearing down the idols we have built for ourselves? Is He trying to break us of the things that we have put ahead of Him? Let’s take a look.

Sports have become a major focus in our culture, but now we have had to live without the constant barrage of sports on television 24-7. There was no March Madness, no NBA or NHL games, no XFL football, no Major League baseball, and no golf. We have found that we can survive without these obsessions.

We can no longer go to a restaurant and sit in the dining room to have a meal. We either get take out or cook at home. Likewise, we can no longer go to a movie theater, concert, or amusement park. Our entertainment choices have been severely limited.

We can no longer go to the supermarket and buy whatever we want, as we cannot be certain that those items will be in stock. We have taken for granted the blessing of having a gazillion choices and fully stocked shelves in which to choose from. (On a side note, will any of us ever look at toilet paper in the same way after this is over?)

The idol of busyness has also been torn down. Instead of running around from early morning to late at night taking our kids to myriads of athletic and extra curricular activities, they now must stay home, and we are finding out that life does go on without these endless sources of stress.

The idol of our retirement investment portfolios has been obliterated. So many of us were basking in the booming economy and skyrocketing stock market, and we took our eyes off of the One who alone is the source of all of our needs. We put our trust in Dow Jones instead of the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, and, in a sense, lost our reliance on God.

And finally, for many people, the jobs that we thought were our right to have and took for granted suddenly vanished. The source of income for many people has now been dried up, and we now long for the jobs that we took for granted and so often complained about.

You see, my friends, tragedies like pandemics and natural disasters, perhaps unlike anything else, humble us and help us hit the reset button so that we get our eyes back on where they belong – on Jesus. We realize that we are not captains of our own ship and masters of our fate. We are not in control of the events of life, and the earthly things we trust in are transient at best. The idols we have built, often inadvertently, are straw houses that can be blown over in an instant.

So, my friends, during this tragic pandemic we all find ourselves in, lets ask God to show us the idols we have built for ourselves, and then refocus on the one who is the only one worthy to be worshiped and trusted in. Let’s acknowledge that God, and God alone, is Sovereign, and let us respond by surrendering totally to Him. This is the only thing that will give us peace and hope in these dark days. And remember to be the hands, feet, and mouth of Jesus in your community, helping those in need, and offering the words of hope that is only found in Him alone.

DON’T BE MEDIOCRE

Lyrics on many contemporary Christian songs have the repeated idea that we are all flawed and messed up, but it’s okay because God still loves us anyway. The bottom line is that it’s okay to be not okay. While it’s pretty obvious that we are all flawed and God loves us regardless of this, it’s not okay to be “not okay”! As believers in Jesus, we settle for mediocrity in our lives way to easily. Allow me to explain what I mean.

I’ve talked to many Christians who constantly make bad choices, live lives that are are more worldly than holy, and have a shallow relationship with Jesus. When asked about this they just shrug their shoulders and say “oh well, I’m not perfect”, and then just settle for a mediocre Christian life. This shouldn’t be!! Do you see, when someone trusts in Jesus as his/her Savior, the Holy Spirit instantly regenerates them (John 3:3-8, Titus 3:5; which means they became a new person in Jesus), indwells them (John 14:16-17, Romans 8:9-11; which means His dynamic presence comes into their life permanently), baptizes them (Acts 1:5, 1 Corinthians 12:13; which means He initiates them into the family of God and now they are identified as God’s child), and seals them (2 Corinthians 2:2, Ephesians 1:13, 4:30; which means He forever marks them as belonging to God, and are protected by Him). Do you grasp this? If you are truly born again, you have God Himself indwelling you in the person of the Holy Spirit, and He guides you, teaches you, empowers you, and leads you through life. And because we have the indwelling Holy Spirit empowering us, we have everything necessary to live in victory in order to bring glory to our awesome God! I’m not talking about perfection, obviously, as our sin nature (the old self) hasn’t been eradicated, but a much deeper and richer walk with Jesus, and a holier life than most Christians experience.

Ephesians 1:3 says: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ“, and 2 Peter 1:3 states: “…seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence”. Isn’t that absolutely incredible? We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing and have been granted everything pertaining to life and godliness. Bottom line – we lack for nothing that will bring God glory in our lives.

Why, then do so many Christians settle for a mediocre life? First of all, what do I mean by mediocre? By mediocre I mean: a life that settles for worldly behavior instead of holiness: a relationship with God that settles for shallowness instead of intimacy; a life that is void of a deep knowledge of the Bible and theology instead of having a solid grasp of knowing what we believe and why we believe it; and a life that settles for defeat over temptation and sin instead of victory.

Why are there so many mediocre Christians today? Probably because they have never been taught the truth about what happens to us when we are born again, or, if they have been taught this, have not put these truths into operation in their lives. Well, the obvious question, then, is how do we do this, how do we put these incredible truths into operation in our lives? The answer is pretty simple but so hard for us to do – die to self and surrender totally to the Holy Spirit. We need to give Him the reins of our lives and let Him be in control of every aspect of our beings. Since God the Holy Spirit indwells us and empowers us with everything necessary that we need to live a life that glorifies God, we need to get out of His way so His power is unleashed in our lives.

But, someone might ask, since the Holy Spirit indwells me, why doesn’t He just take over? Because we must choose to surrender to Him. God doesn’t take over our lives by force. He has created us with free will, and we must choose to surrender to Him by an act of our will. To be sure, it’s what God wants for each of us, but He allows us to exercise our free will in how we choose to live. We must choose to die to self and surrender to Him. We must choose to hand Him the steering wheel and driver’s seat of our lives. We must choose to give up all rights to ourselves to Him. But, unfortunately, most Christians don’t really want to do this. They are afraid of where He may lead them, what He may want them to do, and what He might ask them to give up. So they live controlling their own lives, which leads to mediocrity – shallowness, defeat, and joylessness.

My friends, I believe that God has a specific destiny for each one of us in the life we live on earth, and this destiny will only be accomplished when we die to self and surrender to Him. This destiny will will bring Him glory, which is the only way to live a life of meaning, purpose, and joy. Let me encourage you, don’t be mediocre! It is Biblical truth that you have everything necessary to live a life that glorifies God. Don’t settle for anything less. Die to self, give Him all of you in complete surrender, and be on the journey of holiness. Remember, we exist for one purpose – to glorify Him. Life isn’t about us – our happiness, our pleasure, our success, or our fulfilled dreams – it’s about Him!! And when we truly make Him Lord of our lives, when we strive to be all He wants us to be through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, when we won’t settle for being mediocre in our Christian walk, then we will know Him intellectually, pursue Him relentlessly, approach Him reverently, love him intimately, follow Him unconditionally, worship Him passionately, stand up for Him unashamedly, serve Him excellently, and enjoy Him gladly. And this is a life worth living that makes a powerful difference for God’s kingdom in this dark world.

Oh my friends, in the person of the Holy Spirit who indwells you, you have everything necessary to live a God honoring, victorious life. Don’t settle for anything less. Don’t be mediocre!!