Enough…

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned–every one–to his own way…
[Isaiah 53:6]

The Jewish prophet Isaiah wrote this sometime around 700BC. I think that was also around the time that I made the last post on this blog.

However the drought is over. I am no longer going to keep quiet for the sake of a false peace. Starting tomorrow (November 1st, 2011) I am planning to post something at least six times each week. There is so much to say, and so little time to say it.

I am going to begin this hopefully permanent flurry of activity by explaining why the Bible refers to us as sheep, and what it means to have gone astray.

And then I am going to talk about the wolves that have infiltrated the flock. God’s flock.

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
[Acts 20:28-30]

He doesn’t like it when wolves masquerading as shepherds attack His sheep.

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds”, declares the LORD.
[Jeremiah 23:1-2]

“Wail, you shepherds, and cry out, and roll in ashes, you lords of the flock, for the days of your slaughter and dispersion have come, and you shall fall like a choice vessel. No refuge will remain for the shepherds, nor escape for the lords of the flock. A voice–the cry of the shepherds, and the wail of the lords of the flock! For the LORD is laying waste their pasture, and the peaceful folds are devastated because of the fierce anger of the LORD. Like a lion he has left his lair, for their land has become a waste because of the sword of the oppressor, and because of his fierce anger.”
[Jeremiah 25:34-38]

Of course, much of the trouble with contemporary Christianity cannot be blamed on the leaders of the churches. We are all responsible before God for our own actions, thoughts, speech and attitudes. We have all – with few exceptions – become lazy sheep, lounging around in the swampy pasture beside stagnant water. We think we can cuddle up with the world – join in with its pagan, occultic pastimes such as Halloween, or its twisted ‘holy’ days such as All Saints Day – and avoid any negative consequences.

We can’t.

Enough.

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Security

Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house; I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you. After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

[ John 14:1-4, NCV ]

It's just as well I won't need these, 'cos Heaven or not, I'd still lose them

Jesus Himself is building a home for me in heaven. But as I’m sure you will remember from your Bible, Jesus is a Carpenter, not a locksmith. HE provides all the security I need to know that I will be perfectly safe in heaven. I will not need to lock anything away. And you know what? I won’t be needing those preferred customer tags either – because I will automatically be a preferred customer EVERYWHERE! I CERTAINLY won’t be needing that Ace Hardware tag, ‘cos nothing will ever break or fall apart.

When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more,
And the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair;
When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.

When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there.

On that bright and cloudless morning when the dead in Christ shall rise,
And the glory of His resurrection share;
When His chosen ones shall gather to their home beyond the skies,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.

Let us labor for the Master from the dawn till setting sun,
Let us talk of all His wondrous love and care;
Then when all of life is over, and our work on earth is done,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.

[ When the Roll is Called Up Yonder ]

Will you be there? Do you have the security of knowing for sure? Later today (or tomorrow… next week/month??? at the latest) I am going to share my personal testimony on my blog. I will describe how I came to know the One who is building a home for me in heaven. And if I can have that kind of security in my life, anyone can. So if you can’t imagine a day when you won’t be needing any keys or locks or whistling key fobs so that you can locate your keys when they relocate themselves from where you know you put them – come back later for the Good News!


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I am subject…

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

[ 1 Peter 5:5, ESV ]

Before I continue this blog, or more specifically before I use it to present things that may be offensive, controversial or even divisive, I need to briefly underline the fact that I do not, and will never, see myself as being some sort of lone voice in the wilderness. I do not for a moment think that I am the only one who has an insight into what is going on in the church and in the world, and I am certainly not wanting to give the impression that I am out to bring anything or anyone ‘down’. As has been lovingly pointed out to me by various people already, Christians are all charged with the task of helping to edify the Body of Christ. We are to be loving, generous, supportive and constructive.

It is easy to look at what I have been saying recently and come to the conclusion that I am anything but focused on those things.

Ultimately, I believe that I have been called to bring some issues to the attention of my brothers and sisters in Christ, and to the attention of anyone else who is interested. The very nature of these issues means that a lot of my time is going to be spent talking about error, false teaching, and yes – false teachers. But I have to do that in a way that always gives the ultimate attention to the wonderful truth that I believe.

That truth is Jesus Christ. It is who He is. It is what He has done. It is what he is going to do in the future….

And it is what He is doing now.

Jesus Christ is the head of the Christian church. He is the only Pastor that His church needs. The Biblical description of the church actually tells us that the church is His body. The church is His bride. These may be strange concepts to even some Christians, but I believe that these concepts are Biblical. I also believe in the Biblical form of church leadership that places the responsibility for the health and direction of a local assembly of Christians under a group of elders. And, I believe that I am directly subject to these elders, who in turn are responsible before Christ for the way in which they lead the local Christians.

Therefore I want to make it clear that if anything I write on this blog is determined to be in error, or to be in any way undesirable, by the elders I am subject to –  I will stop or change or otherwise modify what I am doing at their request.

Here is a link to more information about this topic:

Biblical Eldership

It is true that this blog, and my Facebook page for that matter, are not church related ministries as such. But because of the subject matter and possible audience for what I am going to be writing, I willingly place myself and this blog under the authority of my local elders. Those who know me ‘in real life’ will know who to contact if they are in any way concerned about my writing or the tone of what I say. My desire of course is to be directly submissive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but part of that is being subject to the local church leadership.

As a Christian, I am called to lose my life and abide in Christ as the ‘Vine’ from which all real life flows. I am a branch on that vine, and have no life of my own if I am doing what I am supposed to be doing.

I pray that I have no life of my own, and that I am genuinely doing what I am doing for the glory of God and the precious name of Jesus.

He is all that matters.

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My New Job

The Lord told me,
“Shout out loud. Do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Tell my people that they have refused to obey me.
Tell the family of Jacob how much they have sinned…

[ Isaiah 58:1, NIRV ]

March 4, 2011 was many things to many people. To Libyans, it was another day of fear and turmoil. To the residents of Christchurch, New Zealand, it was another day of coming to terms with the destructive power of the earth. For hundreds and thousands of men, women and children around parts of this world, it was just another day rummaging through the vast garbage dumps they call home – trying to find some trash to turn into money for food. Sometimes, they even eat the rotting food they find as they search for salable plastic bottles, or the holy grail of dump diggers – copper wire.

So why, then – amid all the ongoing suffering, death and horror of this world – did I think March 4, 2011 was an appropriate day to use my Facebook page to call one church leader a ‘wolf’, and suggest that another church leader is possibly on the slippery slope towards wolf-hood? And why, on March 5, 2011, do I still think it was appropriate – and am still planning to continue ‘showcasing’ such things?

I was literally horrified by some of the responses to this thread on my Facebook Wall. Horrified. And I am sure that in turn, there are going to be people who are horrified that I am continuing this discussion in this manner on my blog. Why do I think that this is so important that I am willing to risk offending, upsetting and perhaps even alienating people I love and care for very much? I am so arrogant that I think my thoughts and insights (such as they may be) are worth jumping up and down about – loudly, and in public?

Firstly – why am I horrified? Among other reasons, people I still look up to and respect verbally jumped all over me in public. I am horrified that what I said (and will continue to say) offended and upset them so much that they felt it was appropriate to respond in the way that they did. I am horrified at what their response means. It means that they do not understand how desperately serious and deeply rooted the deception in the contemporary ‘Christian church’ is. I am horrified that they don’t realize what Rick Warren is, and what John Piper may be becoming by associating with Rick Warren.

Secondly, what happened after I stopped commenting on the Facebook thread yesterday afternoon? I went to pick up my wife from work, told her what had been going on, asked her to read everything (including private communication in our email accounts), and told her I valued and cherished her opinion and was not going to continue the discussion until she had an opportunity to challenge me if she felt I was in error. So we arrived home, and I went for a ‘lie down’ (my head was a bit sore by this time!) and opened my Bible for my daily reading. I freely admit that I am by no means fully consistent in the daily plan I am currently following, but I always realize that I am making a mistake when I miss a day or three along the way. Daily immersion in God’s Word is unfathomably important for all Christians! Before I opened my Bible, I asked the Lord to show me something… anything… that I needed to see in connection with the ongoing Facebook saga. And then I opened the Word to the start of my day’s section…. The verse I quote above was the opening verse.

Now, is that the end of the story? Absolutely not. I am incredibly wary of this method of receiving direct instruction from God. I am both absolutely convinced that it can and does happen, AND that it is endlessly abused by those seeking some sort of justification for their actions. What was I to do? As I lay there, the events of the day (and the possible consequences of them) ran through my head. I am utterly committed to following God’s will in my Christian walk, but of course I know there are plenty of times when I don’t. I miss things, misunderstand things… but I am confident that God is forgiving. We confess our errors, receive forgiveness, and move on.

With all this churning in my head, I returned to the computer to find a private message from a dear friend. Without going into details, I responded, he replied, and I had before me a wonderful example of how God spoke to this individual in the same way. Direct message, perfectly relevant to a pressing situation, given via a daily reading from the Bible.

So I discussed everything with my precious wife, who I know God brought into my life to be a helper, comforter and encourager… who I know from many experiences will tell me exactly what she thinks…. who I know prizes her relationship with her Lord and Savior more highly than she prizes her relationship with me….

I am confident that I have received a new job from the Lord. Maybe not new as such, but a new confirmation that I am being asked to publicly, loudly and directly highlight areas where God’s people are being deceived into rebellion against God and His word.

Wow. Me? I am a baby Christian. Although I have been a sinner saved by grace for many years, I have stubbornly and repeatedly laid around in the weeds of laziness, ignorance and comfortable living. For most of my teenage and twenty-something life, I hardly exercised my spiritual muscles at all. I was content to be all snuggled up, warm and cozy, inside a cocoon of easy faith. God had done everything for me – I knew that. I knew there was nothing I could or can do to add to the salvation I had accepted. So why bother? Why challenge the world? I wasn’t of it, so why get out and about in it? If I did, I knew I would meet things that would force me to take a stand. And who wants the stress or embarrassment or cross-bearing that comes with that?

Not me. I still don’t.

But I slowly came to the understanding that if I didn’t grow in my faith… in my knowledge of God – who He is, what He has done, and what He is going to do… if I didn’t above all grow in my personal relationship with the One who gave His life to save my soul, then I may as well jump under a bus for all the use my life would be. God wants His people to pick up their cross and follow Christ. He wants His people to know, grow and show. We have God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in us!

I don’t think the Holy Spirit enjoys lying around in the weeds of my laziness, ignorance and comfortable living.

So if I believe that God is telling me to do something, I need to do it. Not because it in any way adds to my ‘goodness’ or makes me a ‘better person’. Never. I need to do it because I love God, and when you love someone – ya do your best to please them without expecting anything in return. I believe God is asking me to shout out loud and don’t hold back. I’m to use my life as a trumpet, screaming in the ears of people I love, respect and admire. People I have perhaps placed on pedestals. People who disagree with some of my theological musings as I grapple with understanding this incredible gift of salvation that we have. People who are older, stronger, and far more productive in their walk than I have ever been.

OK God. I will do the shouting, but please – PLEASE – give me the words to use. This is not about me. This is not about my brothers and sisters in Christ. This is not about Rick Warren, John Piper, Tony Blair or Oprah Winfrey. This is not about anything other than Your will, Your glory, and the precious name of Jesus. Use me, break me, mold me and make me into a channel through which your truth can flow. I believe I am going to be talking about many things that are facts wrapped up in lies. Things that if mentioned in many Christian circles would get a blank stare at best, and a swift dismissal and rebuke more often than that. But there are facts that need to be found and presented so that Your people discern the signs, so that Your people are not destroyed through lack of knowledge, so that Your people can be like the Issachar family – men and women who understand the times and know what to do.

This job has been given to me, but I can’t do it. You have to do it through me. Your wisdom, not mine. Your thoughts, not mine. And above all, Your love, not mine.

I am in Your hands.

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Orange ones, Yellow ones, White ones, Green ones…

My Chemical Romance

Welcome to the first post in a new corner of my blog! It is called ‘Things I Won’t Need In Heaven’, or “Sayonara, Signs Of Sin’.

Nope. These (including all the little ones that can’t be seen in the photo, but are lurking underneath the others) won’t be coming with me, and that alone is surely worth a rousing HALLELUJAH!

Here is the theme song for this series:

Sing the wondrous love of Jesus,
Sing His mercy and His grace;
In the mansions bright and blessed
He’ll prepare for us a place.

When we all get to heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory!

While we walk the pilgrim pathway,
Clouds will overspread the sky;
But when trav’ling days are over,
Not a shadow, not a sigh.

Let us then be true and faithful,
Trusting, serving every day;
Just one glimpse of Him in glory
Will the toils of life repay.

Onward to the prize before us!
Soon His beauty we’ll behold;
Soon the pearly gates will open;
We shall tread the streets of gold.

[ When We All Get To Heaven, Eliza E. Hewitt ]

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