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Thursday
Dec132018

Lessons Learned from the Cemetery 

Hebrews 9:27 

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment  

I have learned two lessons from the cemetery.

The first lesson is about humility. 

All people who are alive today will one day die and most likely be laid to rest in a cemetery. If you want people to know that you existed, you have a burial plot, as it is the most logical way to advertise your life. The humility is about the reality you will one day die and face your maker. You cannot escape that day, and the only thing you can do about it is to prepare for it. The resume that God sees when you die and stand before Him will indicate how much you prepared for that day. Getting into heaven is like a line item on an application. The first question will be: “Did you accept My Son Jesus Christ as your Savior?”  Yes_______   No________

The rest of your resume will be how you lived your life and will be the criteria for God to reward you for a life well lived. It is about how humility factored into the way you lived out your life. 

For example:

Psalm 15 explains how God defines the character of a person, and each listed item is based upon humility:

 

  1. Integrity
  2. Righteous work
  3. Speaking truth
  4. Does not slander
  5. Does no evil
  6. No reproach against a neighbor
  7. Despises reprobates
  8. Honors those who love God
  9. Swears to his own hurt
  10. Does not change values
  11. Does not lend money for interest
  12. Does not take a bride

 

As I have said in the past, behavior matters, and the real heroes in heaven will be those who exhibit these character qualities. 

We know that God will shake the heavens and the earth one day to see what will stand the test of value and importance. At the end of Psalm 15 it says that those who live by character will be those who have these characteristics in their lives. They will never be shaken. The world will be shaken, but those who live by the character of God in their heart will not be affected.

The second lesson I have learned from a cemetery is how wise cemeteries are.

Let me explain:

Recently walking through a cemetery I realized that cemeteries don’t give you the race of the deceased. They mention the dates of birth and death, and maybe there is a scripture verse or a verse from a poem. It never says, “Here lies Caucasian Larry Kutzler”, or “Here lies African-American…Asian…etc.” You don’t know the race of the person who is buried in that grave, and it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter to the deceased either, because heaven isn’t segregated by anything. I asked myself “if it doesn’t matter in death what race we are, then why is it so important for us to know it when we are alive?” There is so much baggage connected to race in this world, but won’t it be nice that it won’t have any impact in the next? Cemeteries are so peaceful; no one shouting their opinions, no political rhetoric, and no more fear about dying, because those buried are already dead. 

Well there you have it, my two lessons. I hope you have been preparing for cemetery life already, because it won’t be long before you are there. I remember my mother telling me as a boy, “life is short - don’t miss it”. 

Keeping it honest and truthful….K 

 

Tuesday
Dec112018

While we are at Rest

I listened to a sermon the other day about how we need to find rest and I thought to myself about the legislation that is being presented around the country to force Christians into compliance to the gay agenda. 

Earlier this year California proposed legislation that said Christian counselors couldn’t use any kind of counseling that suggested gay people need to change. Now, in Austin Texas you have gay activities that want to pass legislation that would force churches and other Christian organizations to hire ministers/leaders who are gay. 

 If the Austin, Texas, ordinance requiring Christian churches to hire homosexual and transgender pastors is not brought down, it’s just a matter of time before that requirement comes to your town.

Along with such requirements will be the collapse of First Amendment protections altogether in America, Texas Pastor Council President Dave Welch warned Thursday.

In comments to the Christian Action Network, Welch said that the difficult decisions that member churches made to stand and fight in Austin is a decision all churches need to make nationally.

“In the past, we have too often waited and watched from the sidelines, silent,” Welch said. “We decided that that is not possible anymore, that’s not acceptable.”

https://christianaction.org/coercion-to-hire-homosexual-transgender-ministers-will-go-national/?fbclid=IwAR2MWXbrqut96_RKPU8fQ5oU74U34Te1mPPCbkTqmAX24SYi7SqxJxrrCzc

So as I pondered this and listened to a sermon on rest, I realized this has been how Christians fight back - they rest. It may be true that we are to rest from our search for truth, because we have found truth in Jesus Christ, but resting from the fight to push back this gay agenda is not what is needed today. 

Our first concern is to build God’s kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ, but at the same time we need to stand our ground in defending our right to be heard, and our right to practice our faith without interference from government. I am sure that the Muslim community will not stand for any ordinance that requires their leadership to hire a homosexual to conduct ministry for them.

Now whether this move in Austin, Texas succeeds or not, the real question remains, will Christians resist the legislation that will require us to accept the gay lifestyle as normal human behavior? Of course we have seen more and more Christian universities compromise their stand on this issue, and whole denominations have also bent a knee to the gay agenda. My question is; when will we say enough?

The picture for me that comes to mind is Nehemiah and the building of the wall around Jerusalem. 

Nehemiah 4:15-17 

Sword and Trowel

15 When our enemies heard that we knew their scheme and that God had frustrated it, every one of us returned to his own work on the wall. 16 From that day on, half of my men did the work while the other half held spears, shields, bows, and armor. The officers supported all the people of Judah, 17 who were rebuilding the wall. The laborers who carried the loads worked with one hand and held a weapon with the other.

It was a day of determination for Nehemiah and his leadership. They were determined that nothing was going to stop them from the building they were called to accomplish. Do we have that same determination?  That determination that we obey God at all costs, and say to our culture of compromise, “give me liberty or give me death?” These are very strong words, but I foresee a day that you will not be allowed to speak Biblical truth about moral human behavior. You can continue to minister about “rest” but you will never be able to call immorality sin. Christianity has turned into a culture of conformity, where we want to help people be safe, happy, and fulfilled. I wish someone would tell me where that is written in the scriptures. You have to insert that kind of thinking into the Bible, and derive that theology from misinterpretation. 

Here is the theology of the Bible. 
Matthew 10:38-39…and anyone who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, andwhoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

This should be our rallying cry for the Church. Sermons about not compromising, not giving up, and not being defeated should permeate our pulpits…not sermons about resting. 

Sorry folks, but if you think it will get easier for you as a believer in this world your hope is misplaced. If you want to hang on to what you have or hope to have in this world without any compromising, think again. Finding your dreams here will only lead to disappointment, but finding your dream in Jesus Christ you will never disappoint you. 

It is time to carry the trowel and the sword again, and you don’t need a permit to carry either one (at least not yet). 

Keeping it honest and truthful…K 

 

 

Sunday
Dec092018

Men and Culture

One of the most interesting people I have ever interviewed was an author by the name of David Murrow. David wrote a book called “Why Men Hate Going to Church.”His introduction on his website says: Women comprise more than 60% of the adults in the typical worship service in America. Some overseas congregations report ten women for every man in attendance. Volunteer ranks are heavily female.

No other religion suffers the enormous gender gaps that plague Christianity.

Over 90% of Protestant pastors and 100% of Catholic priests are male. But Leon Podles put it best: “The modern church is an army of women led by a few male generals.”

There are some disturbing trends that we have seen developing over the past few decades:

 

  • A growing percentage of young men are being out-earnedby young women, as women capture 60% of the higher education degrees required for success in today’s economy.
  • Today,less than a third of men aged 18 to 29 report feeling “completely masculine” compared with 65% of baby boomers.It is not uncommon to see many men choosing a green juice over a beer, meditating instead of watching the news in the morning, or journaling their feelings.
  • Popular political commentator David Frenchciting a new study claiming that millennial males are physically weaker, on average, than their fathers, French concludes that today’s young men are “losing touch with a critical element of true masculinity:” their “raw physical strength.”

 

I suppose there are many reasons why young men are feeling the pressure. Women have been pushing for more freedom from the gender roles that they have been assigned in past generations. They want to break away from being ‘the weaker species’ that has plagued them for centuries. I think that is why so many movies today have female superheroes making them equal to their male counterparts. Many boys grow up in homes with a female as head of the family and the male role model is absent. What I have witnessed in many families is that the feminization of males starts with the parenting. Psychology Today states: There is no question that today parents are being urged to encourage their sons to be sensitive to the needs of others, emotional, and helpful; and not to be aggressive. At the same time they are encouraging their daughters to defend their beliefs, take leadership roles, and be self-reliant and competitive.”

Young men have also been influenced by the gender-neutral trends of dress. They are wearing clothing that resembles more feminine styles; they are sporting more piercings and jewelry, and even wearing their hair in buns. It seems they are becoming more neutral in their statement of masculinity. I believe that young men are being influenced by a militant gay community, who feel that all people are gay and we are all in search of the right person to love. 

You might be thinking that this is all culturally driven and this kind of sexual revolution has been with us a very long time. It is true that the scripture tells us that sin kicked off the gender problems as stated in

Genesis 3:16:

“Then he said to the woman, "I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you." 

So men and women have had struggles about who is or is not in control ever since those days. Most of us would say that women in general have improved their status in society, but still have room to improve. My problem is never with the idea that a woman shouldn’t be given the same opportunity as a man, and therefore be less than him in all areas in the working world. I do think there is an order for the home, however male dominance is not it. A male is to set the pace in the home to protect those in that home, to provide for those under his care, and to procure a spiritual, moral, and justice foundation for that home. God expects him to lead his home in these areas. That does not place the woman in a second-class status, but she is to follow his leadership in the governance of that home. The male is to love his wife as a fellow heir of salvation and to love her as an important part of his leadership team. 

The Bible is clear that gender has a difference and culture has it all wrong. Culture is no friend to the family or to men or women. No matter what is said or promoted in today’s world, men and women are different by design and that is a scientific, biological fact. We are even to be different in the way we dress as a male or female. 

Deut. 22:5 

"A woman must not put on men's clothing, and a man must not wear women's clothing. Anyone who does this is detestable in the sight of the LORD your God.” 

Confusion is the agenda of culture and we know who the author of confusion is. Our society is in the throes of another sexual revolution where gender is no longer a part of God’s design. If you get rid of gender, you get rid of any hierarchy that accompanies it. 

As followers of Jesus, we need to be about design. How did God design us, and what was His intention for that design? Our push back is about our right to stand for God’s design for men and women and not let the culture influence our convictions. 

Keeping it honest and truthful…K 

 

Monday
Dec032018

Everything Has an Agenda

I love it when you hear people say, “they have an agenda” because everyone has an agenda. Don’t you? Of course you do. You live your life by your agenda, whatever it is. My agenda has always been clear, I want to call people’s attention to Biblical truth that they may either have forgotten or may not seen before in the light of the scriptures. 

For example:

Let me ask you a question? When was the last time you talked about curses in church? Seriously, no one talks about curses, because curses are no longer a part of the Christian experience. All curses were nailed to the cross and therefore, like the law, it is no longer necessary to talk about it. It is much better to talk about grace than a curse. Does grace triumph over a curse? I would say yes, it does. Yet, curses still exist, and if I claim God’s grace and still live in disobedience, does God’s grace nullify my disobedience to God? This was the argument of the Apostle Paul in Romans 6:14-15 

For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. What then? 

Shall we sin because we are not under law, but under grace? Absolutely not!"

Disobedience to God while living in grace does not nullify your sinful behavior; it only becomes a smokescreen for your desires. 

So a Biblical curse is the consequence of behavior that is in opposition to God and His commandments. Again, my agenda here is to remind you that just because a verse is found in the Old Testament it does not invalidate its truth. Look at the following verses about curses:

Jeremiah 11:3 
You shall say to them, Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Cursed be the man who does not hear the words of this covenant

Jeremiah 17:5 
Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.

Proverbs 28:27 
Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.

Numbers 35:33
This will ensure that the land where you live will not be polluted, for murder pollutes the land. And no sacrifice except the execution of the murderer can purify the land from murder.

Jeremiah 3:9
Because of the lightness of her harlotry, she polluted the land and committed adultery with stones and trees.

Again if you search the scriptures you will find that there are three areas of behavior that pollute the land and the people. 

  1. Idolatry
  2. Immorality
  3. Shedding innocent blood

This is the agenda of the world. It is the agenda of Satan, and it is the agenda of anyone who does not follow God. 

Someone who claims to be a believer, but makes gods out of the things of this world, or dabbles in immorality and supports the killing of the unborn is, in my opinion, subject to the curses of God. We don’t like this kind of preaching because it makes us uncomfortable and that’s why it’s not done in most churches. 

The Grace of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us the opportunity to change and become His disciples, but it does not give us a license to sin against God with the expectation that I am beyond any consequences of my deliberate sinful behavior. 

Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 28 about God’s agenda against people who are willfully disobedient to His commandments. It would do you well to read that chapter and then ask yourself “what part of disobedience do I need to ignore?” If you are a follower of Jesus you can’t ignore any of it. My wife and I have been talking about all the men and women of God who have fallen over the course of our lifetime. Most of them were very prolific ministers of the gospel and were successful in making a strong case for the gospel, yet somehow they crossed the line into being disobedient to its claims. Why? That’s a good question but I am convinced that they believe their assurance of grace would trump the moment of disobedience and they would be fine. However, it doesn’t work that way.  

Sin has an agenda too, and it is to kill anything that belongs to God in your life, including you. In Deuteronomy 28:15 it says. However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you.”

The agenda of God’s grace brings you into a position where all sin has been forgiven, but the agenda of disobedience is to destroy that grace in your life. Remember obedience is not legalism, however, obedience is required for grace to have full impact in your life. You can never understand the full value of grace unless you stand with God in obedience to Him. Grace clears the way for you to stand with God. However, let’s be clear. Obedience is not a requirement to receive grace, but it is a by-product of how grace works in your life. 

At the end of the day let’s remember everyone and everything has an agenda. It is the same principle that says, “follow the money” because then you will understand the agenda. God’s agenda is to have you live with Him for eternity, and the agenda of everything else is to keep you from accomplishing His agenda in your life. 

Keeping it honest and truthful….K 

 

Wednesday
Nov282018

Aging Disobedient Churches

The Atlantic had an interesting article by Jonathan Merritt on November 25 about “America’s Epidemic of Empty Churches.”

Here is a little of what he said: Many of our nation’s churches can no longer afford to maintain their structures—6,000 to 10,000 churches die each year in America—and that number will likely grow. Though more than 70 percent of our citizens still claim to be Christian, congregational participation is less central to many Americans’ faith than it once was.

Any minister can tell you that the two best predictors of a congregation’s survival are “budgets and butts,” and American churches are struggling by both metrics. As donations and attendance decrease, the cost of maintaining large physical structures that are in use only a few hours a week by a handful of worshippers becomes prohibitive.

“Years ago, the neighborhood church was the place many in America got together and, along with local schools, was where they got to know their neighbors. But this model is no longer relevant for many people, so churches have to think creatively about how to help people encounter others and God in their everyday lives.”

Mainline churches have been declining for years, partly because the congregation members continuing to age, and fewer younger families are attending those churches. 

The Minneapolis Star and Tribune reported that the decline of some churches is an opportunity for other churches

The clergy sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church is a likely factor behind its membership decline. The ELCA, the largest Lutheran denomination in the country, has seen at least 600 congregations leave since it voted in 2009 to allow for openly gay and lesbian pastors in committed relationships.

A major factor in the growth of Evangelical Protestant Christianity has been the group's consistent emphasis on starting new churches.

Most newly formed Evangelical churches are growing because they attract a younger demographic, and have a much more flexible message than the more traditional mainline Protestant churches. Churches in general find themselves encountering cultural dynamics that are not easily navigated. I do believe that the mainline denominational churches are in decline because they are the churches of an older generation. They also are declining because of their compromise with the Christian message. They have traded the gospel of exclusivity for a message of tolerance at all costs. The gospel was never meant to be an easy message nor was it to be a socially engaging icon for peace loving people. The gospel was a bloody cross where torture was used to punish and condemn. There was nothing nice about what they did to Jesus; it was a horrendous murder from which we based the foundation of our faith. 

So when we go to church and listen to homilies about how Christianity is everything but the cross, you are being cheated from hearing the truth. This is why our churches are empty. Who wants to go to a gathering where nothing is spoken about what’s on God’s heart? Listen, mister preacher, who cares what you think? You have an opinion just like the seven billion other people on planet earth, so keep your opinions to yourself we don’t care. Sounds mean right? Wrong, I want to hear a man or a woman speak about God in such a manner that it changes lives by challenging others to follow Jesus. People change because they encounter a living God - not a dead Mass or sermons on love. Dead churches are dead because the people leading them are spiritually dead.  

Jeremiah 4:22 “My people are foolish and do not know me," says the LORD. "They are stupid children who have no understanding. They are clever enough at doing wrong, but they have no idea how to do right!"

Churches that are growing may be just as bad spiritually. They know how to grow an organization of encouragement, but they don’t know how to grow people spiritually. Jesus calls us to sacrifice, to deny ourselves, to pick up our cross, and follow Him. The cross becomes the symbol of our devotion to Jesus, yet we have mega churches whose congregations are always in flux. I was told recently about the attendance percentage of one mega church where people attend once every three weeks. Now I understand that discipleship may not be built upon how often you attend church, but it might say something about how commitment is defined. However, that church is not dying it is growing. That begs the question, “is all growth spiritually healthy?”

Before you get too upset with me about any of this, just remember Jesus was not too inclined to be overly encouraging with the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3. Why?  Because they wanted to grow the way they thought they should, but Jesus had a different idea didn’t He?

The key for me as to whether a church is dying or growing is based upon how we yield to Christ. If you look at Deuteronomy 28:15-68 it tells us that there are curses for disobedience to God. These curses happen because you claim to know God, but you do not follow His commands. Churches today are not exempt from being cursed by God simply because they make a claim to ‘know’ Him. I did not place all the curses here, but this is what it says about disobedience:

However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you.”

In my opinion, this curse applies to churches that do not preach the whole counsel of God and by doing so, bring this curse upon their ministry. 

The Lord will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him. 

So if you are a minister of the Gospel or a church leader, your inability to see success in your work just might be more about your obedience than your giftedness…just sayin’.

Keeping it honest and truthful…K 

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