Evangelical Self-Delusion

Evangelical Self-Delusion

The following is from RC Sproul, Jr and cuts me personally to the very core of my self-justifying, slothful life.  I hope it will do the same to you.  Read and be warned.

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Evangelical Self-Delusion

It is because we love the world so profoundly that we think we’re already being persecuted.  That is, we see ourselves as bold prophets confronting the sin of the world because we vote for candidate approved by the National Right to Life.  We watch pundits on CNN mock us.  We might even face a moment or two of awkwardness at work when word leaks out we’ve opposed to murdering babies.  We conflate having our feelings hurt with being burned at the stake.  We think that because we are, mostly secretly, part of that group the secular world thinks weird and mildly dangerous that we are Polycarp.

Of course the even more craven wing of the evangelical church only encourages this.  That there are those who profess to be evangelical who vote for Democrats is proof to us that we are the hard-core ones.  We are the bold, world-denying ones because we still have a Huckabee campaign sticker on our car.  The truth is we’re like those Nazi’s who wanted to oust Hitler because he was just crazy.  What they wanted was a more sane and reasonable Nazi regime.  We may be less of a problem than our brothers to our left, but we are still the problem.

This is one of the reasons why I strive to encourage people to go visit their local abortion mill.  We go of course to prophesy against those who work there, or those who are customers there, but more to come face to face with our own failures.  One cannot spend two hours outside the mill and come away thinking, “I need to work harder next election cycle to get the less pro-abortion guy into office.”  Instead one beats ones breast crying, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.”  One comes away repentant.

What clued me in to this delusion, however, isn’t the abortion issue, but the homosexual marriage issue.  We have witnessed in less than half a decade a titanic propaganda triumph of the left.  Gay marriage has gone from a bizarre pipe dream among the fevered brow flouncers down at Queer Nation to a civil right.  Decent people who were naturally repulsed by the perverse assault that is gay behavior suddenly are made to feel like Bull Conner.  And if there’s one thing evangelical Christians can never abide it is being considered not nice.  Watching the rhetoric ratchet up even over the past few months I began to imagine the actual beginning of genuine persecution of the church.  They will not abide our conviction that they are in grave sin, so surely they will come after us.

Then I realized they will never catch us.  We are too good at retreating.  If for forty years we have failed to stand for the babies such that either they became protected by law, or we became martyred for our faith, then neither will this latest moral sexual atrocity cost us our comforts, our ease, our respect.  In five years there might be a few of us still talking among ourselves about what should be done about homosexual marriage.  We might have a few fringe ministries trying to scrape by and fight a battle the rest of us have forgotten.  But it will become as much as part of the landscape, and invisible to us as abortion has become – just a seedy reality we don’t approve of, but would rather not think about.

Of course we’ll still be busy growing “grace based” churches.  We’ll still hold conferences on living gospel-centric lives.  We’ll still write learned defenses of what Jesus actually said.  What we won’t do is depend on His grace, while repenting of our failure to call the world to repent, as Jesus told us to do.  And the world will know us for what we are, mildly annoying, but harmless.

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The Fellowship of the Unashamed

The Fellowship of the Unashamed

The following was written by a young man in Rwanda the night before he was murdered for his faith.  In 1980 he was forced to either renounce his faith in Christ or face death.  He chose the latter and was killed on the spot.  His final words, found nailed to a wall in his home, sums up his faith and life and defines the courage that marked the early church and is conspicuously missing today.  Read these words prayerfully and ask the Lord to move His church from lukewarmness to spiritual fervency.

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I am part of the Fellowship of the Unashamed.  I have the Holy Spirit power.  The dye has been cast. I have stepped over the line.  The decision has been made— I am a disciple of His.

I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.
My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure.
I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions, worldly-talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity.
I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded.
I now live by faith, lean in His presence, walk by patience, am uplifted by prayer and I labor with power.
My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear.

I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, hired away, turned back, diluted, or delayed.
I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, pander at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have preached up, prayed up, paid up, stored up and stayed up for the cause of Christ.

I am a disciple of Jesus, I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know and work till He stops me.  And when He comes to claim His own, He’ll have no problems recognizing me.
My banner will be clear!

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The Abiding Believer

The Abiding Believer

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (John 15:10).  Jesus faithfully obeyed every commandment of His Father and He called that abiding.

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Some Christians think they can pick and choose which commandments of Christ to obey.  If they don’t like what is commanded, they simply ignore it or explain away their disobedience with, “I just don’t see it that way; I don’t believe it like that.”  If people do not like a pastor’s call to be holy, they just leave and go looking for a pastor who will accentuate the positive.  That is why the terrible plague of apathy is sweeping over the church today.  We have been so afraid of works, so riled up about legalism, that we have given obedience a bad name.

How is it possible for a branch in Him not to abide?  Jesus said: “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (verse 6).  Can it be any clearer?  Abiding includes rest and responsibility.  It is possible to be in Him, connected to the vine, and not have a flow of life with which to bear fruit.  Abiding has to do with absolute obedience to the commandments of Christ because every branch has a free will—a life force in it.  The branch is not passive; it must draw out the life from the vine.  “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you” (verse 7).  This brings out that the Word is the Father’s pruning knife.  How can any branch bear fruit if the Word of the Lord is ignored, unknown, neglected?

We see the fruits of dryness springing up all over the Lord’s vineyard— adultery, fornication, drinking, drugs— because the pruning process has stopped with so many.  The word of God is His knife, a two edged sword.  The majority of Christians today do not know the Word of God because they do not read it.  It is impossible to bear the fruit of righteousness without His Word abiding in you.  Neglect of the Word is causing barrenness and bringing a terrible withering to God’s people.

The abiding believer is one who loves and fears God, who hungers for the Word and trembles at His power of conviction.  He delights in having the Word prune away all hindrances, prays that the very life and likeness of Christ will be ever-increasing in him, and grows more and more mature in obedience and love.

By David Wilkerson (1931 – 2011)

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Our Misplaced Focus

Our Misplaced Focus

From Oswald Chambers:

We look for visions from heaven, for earthquakes and thunders of God’s power (the fact that we are dejected proves that we do), and we never dream that all the time God is in the commonplace things and people around us. If we will do the duty that lies nearest, we shall see Him. One of the most amazing revelations of God comes when we learn that it is in the commonplace things that the Deity of Jesus Christ is realized.

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Maintaining the Presence of God

Maintaining the Presence of God

This is exactly what I needed to hear today. It is from the late David Wilkerson.

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God attaches a condition to His presence in our lives and it is found in 2 Chronicles 15.  In the previous chapter, King Asa had led the armies of Judah to a great victory over Ethiopia’s million-man army.  Yet Asa testified that it was God’s presence that had scattered the enemy.

“Asa cried unto the Lord his God, and said, Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. . . .So the Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa” (2 Chronicles 14:11-12).

As Asa and his armies led the triumphant procession back to Jerusalem, a prophet named Azariah met them at the city gate with this message from God: “Hear ye me, Asa . . . the Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.  Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God.  But when they in their trouble did turn unto the Lord God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them” (15:2-4).

Here is the secret of getting and maintaining the presence of God in your life.  The Lord reminded Asa, point-blank, with no holds barred: “Asa, don’t ever forget how you got this victory.  You sought Me with all your heart when you were in trouble and I sent My presence to you.  It was My presence that put your enemies to chase!”

Now Azariah was telling Asa, “Do you remember what the kingdom was like before you came to power?  Everything was out of kilter, with no law, no guidance, no righteous teaching.  Everyone was a law unto himself, doing his own thing!”

This is not a complicated theology.  Anyone can have the abiding presence of the Lord if he or she will simply seek Him for it.

“The Lord will be found of you” (15:2).  The Hebrew word for found here is matsa, meaning “His presence coming forth to enable, to bless.”  In short, this verse tells us, “Seek the Lord with your whole heart, and He will come to you with His presence.  Indeed, His presence will be an almighty power that emanates from your life!”

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The Human Side of the Nativity

The Human Side of the Nativity

Recently I have been pondering the events surrounding the birth of Christ.  The Nativity, as it is known.

But I have not been pondering the stuff we preach about every December.  You know, the supernatural side of that birth, the star in the sky, the annunciation of the angels to the shepherds, or the coming of the magi with gifts of great value.  No, I have been thinking about a man and young woman.  Tired.  Alone.  Rejected.  Seemingly forsaken.  They were frightened as Mary’s labor pains, sharp, deep and increasing in intensity and frequency, signaled that the birth of Messiah was drawing near.  And they were terrified at all that wondrous birth would entail.

Two people.  Two lives.  Two different stories.

The following is a song that, for me, captures the heart of young Mary as she gives birth to her Son, our Lord, Jesus.  It is written by Andrew Peterson and sung by Jill Phillips.  It’s called, “Labor of Love.”

Listen and reflect on that night, from the heart of Mary.

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maryIt was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyway that night
On the streets of David’s town

And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother’s hand to hold

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
Every beat of her beautiful heart
Was a labor of love

Noble Joseph by her side
Calloused hands and weary eyes
There were no midwives to be found
On the streets of David’s town
In the middle of the night

So he held her and he prayed
Shafts of moonlight on his face
But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the faith
That could make the mountains move

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
Every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love
Little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
It was a labor of love

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And then we have the story told from Joseph’s side. This moving song is from Sawyer Brown titled, “It Wasn’t His Child” from their 19th album, True Believer. Listen to the Nativity as told by Joseph.

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josephHe was her man, she was his wife
And late one winter night
He knelt by her
As she gave birth
But it wasn’t his child
It wasn’t his child

Yet still he took him as his own
And as he watched him grow
It brought him joy
He loved that boy
But it wasn’t his child
It wasn’t his child

But like a father he was strong and kind and good
And I believe he did his best
It wasn’t easy for him but he did all he could
His son was different from the rest
It wasn’t his child
It wasn’t his child

And when the boy became a man
He took his father’s hand
And soon the world
Would all know why
It wasn’t his child
It wasn’t his child

But like a father he was strong and kind and good
And I believe he did his best
It wasn’t easy for him but he did all he could
He grew up with his hands in wood
And he died with his hands in wood
He was God’s child
He was God’s child

He was her man
She was his wife
And late one winter night
He knelt by her
As she gave birth
But it wasn’t his child
He was God’s child

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