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Sunday
Apr232017

Unbelieving and Perverse Generation

Luke 9:41

“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.”

When Jesus called his generation an unbelieving and perverse generation, He wasn’t being very politically correct. In fact He was being direct and honest. His followers/disciples were not too aware of what His mission was, and how it was going to be fulfilled. They were so enamored over His power to control the demons of his day that they never focused on His mission of the cross. That mission was totally off their charts. In fact it never was in their understanding until much later following His resurrection when they started to get the idea of why He came. I don’t think it is much different today. Are we a believing generation who follows Him?  If you were going to assess what you know about the Church what would you say?  Have we perverted what it means to follow Him?  Is His Kingdom the most important motivation in our lives?  Do we think about miracles and how they can be possible in everyday life?  Do we think about how to discern our times and find hope in knowing that God has it all under control?  I wonder what criteria Jesus would use to call our generation perverse?  He saw His own disciples having a one-track mind, and it wasn’t a mind whose best interest was focused upon Him.

The 21st Century Christian perversion:

Leaders lead in terms of strength instead of weakness.  Yet it seems to me that God says when you are weak, then you are strong.  But nowhere do we have seminars on weakness. No one wants to be known by their weakness, yet it is in this weakness that God is best seen.  So most of the time our leadership is dependant upon some kind of success in order to be popular and successful. We have to have a model of a mega-church in order to gain any attention worthy to minister to the masses. This could be a perversion of what it means to deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow Him.

The attitude of repentance is often relegated to people who for the first time have come to Christ. Yet I have found that most seasoned Christians are some of the most needy people when it comes to repentance.  People who have been around the church culture have forgotten that repentance isn’t just for the first timer at an altar. If you have had relationships in the church, the chances of you needing to ask for forgiveness is great, and what is even greater is the need for repentance.  The most hardened, least self-aware people on the planet, are long-term Christians who have been around the block spiritually. They act like old people who have been married a long time - they know they are married, but they don’t act like a couple.  I have found that repentance has significant relevance for people who have been saved for 25 years or more, because they have become indifferent and unconscious of their behavior that may not be pleasing to God. I am not exaggerating when I say this, but some of the rudest, uncaring people I have ever met in my life, have been Christians. They have been mean and completely unaware that their behavior is not Christ-like, and they don’t care who they hurt as long as they get their own way.  Surprising isn’t it when Christians act like this that they forget who they represent.

Perverse generations are also those people who follow Christ because they fell in love with something about Him that makes Him and His ways attractive to them. Perhaps it’s the fire insurance against hell that is provided with belief that makes them want to be a Christian. However, many of the types of people I alluded to in this blog are people who are probably believers, but they are not believers who have been disciplined in His Word, nor do they understand their purpose of how to live in Christ. There are Christian leaders who specialize in specific areas of ministry and are quite prolific in these areas, but they do not have much understanding on how to live out other areas of the gospel.  There are people who have discernment ministries who can tell you the next Biblical event that will take place, yet will not love their neighbor. We have worship leaders who can lead a congregation in worshipping the Lord, but fail to live out a moral lifestyle.

We have pastors who can peach and lead a congregation with methods like a CEO, yet do not know the Lord.  My point is simple: you can have a position in the church, you can be known by many as a Christian leader, you can have a long-standing reputation as a Christian, and yet never be disciplined as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

It was the behavior of those who followed Jesus in His day that provoked Him to call them unbelieving and perverse generation. It is our behavior today that would invoke Him to say the say thing. It doesn’t matter what you know, or what you have experienced as a follower of Christ, if you don’t understand that being a Christian isn’t about you, your accomplishments, your aspirations, or your pedigree. It is about your sacrifice for Him and if that is not happening then you are an unbelieving and perverse generation.

Sorry to be so blunt, but it is time that we call Christianity what it has become: “Ichabod, the Lord has departed.”  He has departed because we have not come to the altar of belief where we leave ourselves and pick up the new self in Christ.

This is a hard word to digest and many may not receive it, but the greatest stumbling block to revival in the Church is our unwillingness to become self aware and practice the art of repentance.

Spend some time thinking about what was said here and ask God to help you digest for yourself.

Keeping it honest and truthful...K

 

 

 

 

Wednesday
Apr192017

Conservative People Are Not Exempt As Sexual Predators

Fox News has had it problems in the last few years with some of their top executives and now their top cable news anchor being accused of sexual harassment.  In fact, as all the news stories reported, between O’Reilly and Fox News Corp they paid out 13 million dollars worth of settlements to the accusers.

Just because you have the right conservative political view, it doesn’t make you a saint. In fact, just the opposite is true. When I attended a Christian University years ago and it was a very conservative school, but the immorality among the student body was surprisingly high. At that time, I had just given my life over to Jesus and I thought everyone at the school was like me, hungry for God, eager to learn, and morally right.  I was so surprised by what I experienced that I thought I was going to the University of Minnesota.  It was my first experience with religious folk who worship God on Sunday, but during the week they lived as if He didn’t exist.

I realize that temptation is everywhere, and the more famous and wealthy you become, the more you have to sweeten any temptation. This is why conservatism is not the answer. It has some foundational truths that often bring Christians into the fold, but don’t let it fool you - conservative politics can be as slippery as the left is when it comes to immorality.

You can change your point of view, you can even change your political party, but if you don’t have a change in your heart, you are still a scoundrel controlled by sinful behavior regardless if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. Sin has no respect for persons, it can corrupt the most liberal of Democrats, and it can corrupt the most conservative of Republicans.

There was an old saying in the church where I became a Christian:  “Your sin will surely find you out!”  I found that saying to be so true, not only in my life, but also in the lives of notable people around me who seemed to be so right, but ended up so wrong. You never know how another man lives his life in secret, and it is those secret lives that will ruin and stain your soul. I have had the privilege of counseling hundreds of people in my career, and I have heard it all. Nothing today shocks me because I have come to realize that without a heart change brought about by the saving grace of Jesus Christ, there is nothing out of bounds as far as what people will do.  The grace of God brings us to Him, and it is His grace that changes our hearts.

We will always see the famous fall, and the righteous sin, but it is by the grace of God there go I. 

May God have mercy upon all of us, and may we cry even louder tonight:, “God change my heart that it may know you in a way that I will never again willingly sin against you.” 

King David had the same idea following a moral failure as he writes in Psalm 51:

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Now that’s a prayer!

Keeping it honest and truthful…K

Tuesday
Apr182017

God’s Desire To Restore

Ezekiel 36:22 “Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. 23 I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.

24 “ ‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28 Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.

It is in the nature of God to restore.  It is one of the characteristics that define who He is. No matter who you are or what you have done, His nature is to restore. In fact even before God brings judgment, He warns those to whom judgment will fall.

Amos 3:7 “Indeed, the Sovereign LORD never does anything until he reveals his plans to his servants the prophets.”

God does not want any to perish, not even the wicked.

Ezekiel 18:32 “For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!”

God brought Israel back into the land and they again became a nation like He promised. This sign is the most significant sign that proves we have entered into the last days. After 2000 years, Israel is back in the land, never again to be removed from it. Why?  Because God promised it!

Amos 9:15  “I will firmly plant them there in their own land. They will never again be uprooted from the land I have given them," says the LORD your God.”

God’s nature is not to abandon but to restore. Will God abandon?  Sure, when He is ignored and He gives people over to their own ways, and allows their wickedness to be their judge.  It is much like the saying, “if you live by the sword, you will die by the sword.”  If you live apart from God and His ways, then you will be turned over to your own evil ways and you will die because of those ways. That is what Romans 1 tells us will happen when people ignore God.

However, Paul writes this in 2 Corinthians 5:17-18:

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 

19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

Christ became God’s ultimate act of restoration. He restored all people through a one-time act of obedience unto death by Jesus Christ. This act of restoration became the underpinning of what God does through Jesus Christ. He forgives and removes sin, which in turn, restores a broken relationship with Him. That is why the Bible calls this the free gift of God, no man can earn it, inherit it, or be born into it.  This free gift has to be received by every person by an act of the will to trust God for the gift. It is then an act of receiving it, believing in the gift, and then acting upon the gift as a pardon and as a result this privilege is granted to you. Jesus provides a pardon of all your sins, and He grants you the privilege of entering into an eternal covenant with God for all eternity.

God’s great miracle of restoration was Israel - a sign to all who believe that He is a God who fulfills His promises. Israel is a sign that we can trust God and that He will never let us down or renege on the promises we read in the Bible.

Let’s face it: God is a restorative God. He wants none to perish, but all come to a saving knowledge of the Savior.

Take some time today and reflect on the restorative acts of God that you see in the Bible. How about the restorative acts you have witnessed in your own life, or in the lives of the people around you?

God’s emphasis has been and always will be about restoring people to Himself.

Keeping it honest and truthful….K

 

 

Friday
Apr142017

The Night Of Betrayal

Matthew 23:12 That day Herod and Pilate became friends--before this they had been enemies.

I find this verse fascinating because it illustrates how people who are often enemies find common ground.  These two men found a friendship around mocking and convicting an innocent man. Both men interrogated Jesus and both came away knowing he did nothing worthy of being on trial.

History tells us that both men played a part in the death of Jesus even when they had no reason to be involved. The one baiting the hooks of these two leaders to make Jesus out to be guilty was Satan and he was working extremely hard at setting up the players to make everyone betray Jesus.

1 Corinthians 2:8 “None of the rulers of this age knew this wisdom, for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Satan had tempted Christ in the wilderness several years before this trial, and was unsuccessful in tempting Christ to be worshipped and glorified. His goal is always to tempt god’s people to compromise, and when he was unable to tempt Jesus in the wilderness, he decided he would orchestrate his death.  I am sure Judas didn’t think Jesus would be crucified; I think he thought Jesus would be forced into taking over Israel and usher in His kingdom. Judas like so many Christians today, wasn’t paying attention to emphasis of the life of Jesus Christ.

That night of betrayal, all the disciples were guilty of running, hiding and betraying Christ. They all become a part of this great night of betrayal by following Jesus at a distance. They were not ready to die with Christ, they were much more concerned about their future hopes of seeing Jesus reigning as their hope for Israel. I am convinced none of the disciples were aware of the what was happening to Jesus, yet he told them this would all happen to Him.

Matthew 16:21 “From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.”

This night of betrayal is a great reminder about how we should live for the one we call Savior and Lord. If we would have lived back in Jesus day, I am sure most of us would have been as surprised at these events as the disciples. Jesus told his followers what would happen to Him, yet they were caught by surprise.  I see this living out in our present day when scripture reminds us of His coming again and most Christians ignore it. He even tells us what the conditions will be like just before He returns yet most churches don’t preach on it. They ignore it because their pastors are not preaching it. 

Researcher George Barna found that when his researchers asked the pastors about the key political issues of our day, 90 percent of the pastors agreed that the Bible does speak to every one of these issues. But when the pastors were asked if they were teaching their people about what the Bible says about those issues, only 10 percent of the pastors said they were.

Today is Good Friday, and I don’t think you are surprised by what the world is doing today.  You also don’t have to be surprised about what the scripture says is going to happen in three days on Easter morning. So you shouldn’t be surprised when Jesus arose from the grave as He said He would, and you can also count on Him to fulfill His words when He said He is coming again. Nothing should be a surprise because the record is clear, He arose from the grace, and He is coming again. No surprises. 

We have a great God whose word can be trusted, so don’t live your life like those disciples did on the night of betrayal, totally unaware of the events of God.

Keeping it honest and truthful…..K

 

 

 

 

Tuesday
Apr112017

It Is Time For Much More

I have a client whose professional career I have followed for some time. In the early days he followed the dictates of his profession to the letter of the law. In time he discovered that much of what he was following was not really the best practice, he was simply following the normal traditions of his trade. He began to change his methods and practices to relate better to his clients, and to provide a better product to the general public. What he discovered is that not all that he learned in preparing for his career was in fact the truth. He found that simply following what other people think is not a good rule of thumb to follow.

2 Timothy 4:2-3

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

The Apostle Paul teaches that the best practice is to be consistent in bringing God’s word forward in a way that instructs people in God’s Word. It requires us to be ready at all times, and to use methods that corrects behavior through rebuke, encouragement, being patient, and being precise in how you teach God’s word. Tradition can be a mindset in how you see scripture, and how you present it to others. I know a preacher whose only way to interpret the scriptures is through Martin Luther. In his world, it’s Martin Luther and the scriptures. Now, there are great teachers from the past whose writings can be helpful, but they are never to be the source of how we teach scripture. Too often if we use the great teachers, we may be proliferating a bias they may have had in their day, therefore we are furthering an opinion and a tradition, but not the truth. I like to study the history of the church, but one soon discovers that our faithful fathers made many mistakes.

One of the best practices that believers can orchestrate is to study the scriptures in a group setting. It doesn’t matter the size of the group, it only matters that those who you study with are firmly grounded in the faith. Some of the best times of gaining understanding is with a small group whose desire it is to pursue the truth.  It has been in these settings that traditions have been both explained and challenged, bringing people into the reality of faith in Christ, period. Preparing your heart is a worthwhile pursuit, but it was never meant to be an end in itself. Let me explain. 

Easter is just days away and I probably won’t be blogging any more this week, so let ask you one question. Does the resurrection Sunday have real significance for you, or does it seem like just another tradition? I know most people feel moved to celebrate Easter morning by going to a church service, but does this day, this celebration, bring meaning to you? Are you being changed by the message of the resurrection, challenging you to go beyond the simple Bible studies, and prayer meetings many of us think are spiritual work? I am not denying these activities don’t have meaning or purpose, but the message of the gospel is so much more.  We practice our practice so much that I think at times we have lost the purpose in who we are and to whom we belong. Just as my friend discovered that much of what he learned was not effective in what he was training to do, he had to discover much more because he wasn’t happy settling for mediocrity. The “much more” is what I am telling you is available in Christ, and the mediocrity of how so many people live out their faith is not impressing the world. May I remind you that our job as believers is to impress the world, because Jesus told us to do so!

That is why I like the passage in 2 Timothy, because it infuses some tough talk about getting people away from the mediocrity of stale faith.

Easter is a great reminder that we were not called to be mediocre people, the cross was not mediocre, and certainly the resurrection wasn’t mediocre.

There is much more to Christ than many of us have discovered. I hope you will pursue Him, and a great time to start is on "Resurrection day, because that day is all about Him. 

Keeping it honest and truthful….K

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