Spiritual Warfare Prep

Spiritual Warfare Prep
We Are In The Lord's Army

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Deity Of Christ - The Bible Is Very Clear

Allah Akbar is the chant. But is it really true or is it just wishful thinking? The way to fight against lies is using the weapon of truth. But I don't think we know how important it is to be defending the truth.

  I think in America today, we are lulled to sleep. It is more fun to watch a Harry Potter movie than it is to spend time doing spiritual warfare. What is more, we don't even see that we are in a battle. Or, maybe its just that we don't really care.

   Well, the Muslims care about what they believe in, but what they believe in is false. They believe a lie. So, we can look at what the Bible says about who God is.

  What does the Bible say about God? Is Jesus God? Is Allah God? Both the Old and New Testaments have a lot to say about this.

  Both the Old Testament and New Testament are about God being one. There is only one God, but He is Triune. The first clue of this is in Genesis 1:26 where it quotes God as saying, 'Let us create man in Our image."There are also references in the Old Testament of the Holy Spirit.

        God is so complex that our minds cannot fathom Him. Take for example, the fact that God is uncreated. He never had a beginning. Any point in eternity past, God goes beyond. Think about God also not having a limit. He has no boundaries. We are finite and we have a top and bottom part to us. But God doesn't have a top where He is stopped at. Any boundary where you think God's presence stops at, He goes beyond that point.

  But there are some interesting verses in the New Testament as well. Did you know that Jesus was the One who actually created everything? According to Colossians 1:16, He created all things that are in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, thrones and dominions, principalities and powers. All these things were created by Him and for Him. He also holds all things together. We also see this in John 1.

  In John 8:58, Jesus was talking to the Jewish people who were arguing with Him. He had just broken the loaves of bread and multiplied the fish for the people to eat, and they followed Him around because they were hungry. Everything was fine until Jesus started teaching them who He was. Then they started arguing. They weren't ready to hear this news, nor were they willing to change their way of thinking. Toward the end of the conversation in the Bible, Jesus tells them that He was before Abraham. They struggled with that as well. But then Jesus laid something very heavy on them, that they really couldn't handle. He said, "Before Abraham was, I am." Now that sounds like a strange sentence unless you understand Jewish history.

    In the book of Exodus, God was raising Moses up to lead the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt. Moses asked God what he should call Him. God responded by saying that His name was "I am". So, one of God's special names was 'I am". When Jesus said that before Abraham was, I am, the people understood what He was saying. He was basically calling Himself God. Of course, this was too much for the Jewish people to handle and they were ready to stone Jesus, but He got away.

   After God created Adam and Eve, the devil came into the Garden and wanted them to sin against God. If he was successful, then, in a sense, they would be under the rulership of the devil. So, the devil came in and tempted Eve first. God has told them that they were to eat anything in the Garden except the fruit from one of the trees called, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The devil lied and told them that they really wouldn't die if they ate this fruit and they would become wise like God. Eve fell for the lie and then Adam comes along and she gives him some of the fruit. God came after them and provided them with a covering because they now were sinners and needed an atonement. But God made a special promise to them. Actually, the promise was made to the devil and God was going to send someone who would give the devil a death blow. This is promised in Genesis 3:15 and it came to pass when Jesus died on the Cross. When He died, death was defeated, and all the powers of darkness were disarmed. Of course, the greatest act in History was when Jesus arose from the dead. He came out of the grave and was seen by many people.

  In the Old Testament, in the book of Isaiah, God says that there is no one like Him. There is only one God and nothing matches Him, or even comes close. All the idols in the world do not even compare to the true and living God. Jesus lived on earth for about 33 years, and He lived a perfect life without ever giving into temptation to sin. No human being has ever done that and never will because sin has tainted all of us and it is impossible for us not to sin. The Bible says that Jesus was tempted like us, but without sin. That is the reason why He could die for our sins. If He sinned, He would never have been able to die for our sins. But He is without sin, and He will always be our Advocate because we are sinners and need Someone to plead for us before God's throne.

   In the Old Testament, we read about the first Passover. How it came about was when the Israelites were in the land of Egypt, they were made slaves and were treated harshly. God was giving direction to Moses on leaving the land. Every time they started to leave the land, the Pharaoh would pull them back. Then God would send a plague to punish the Egyptians. The last plague was one in which a Death Angel was going to pass over the land and kill every firstborn son in each household. The Israelites were instructed to take a lamb, take the blood and place it on the door posts of the house. It had to be a lamb without blemish. When the Death Angel passed over the houses, he would see the houses which had the blood on the door posts, and would pass over those houses. That is where the word 'Passover' comes from. Because the Israelites obeyed God, they were protected, but the Egyptians were not protected and each household had someone who died. The wailing of the Egyptians that night was loud.

  It doesn't take too much thinking to see the connection of this event to an event in the New Testament. First of all, in the Gospel of John, John the Baptist was talking about Jesus in the first chapter. John the Baptist and Jesus were actually cousins, yet, John the Baptist was so honored and humbled by Jesus presence that he made some good statements. One of them was, 'I am not worthy to tie His shoelaces". One other thing he said was, 'Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world". Now, Jesus is the Lamb of God. I wonder if John the Baptist knew that Jesus was going to die for our sins.

   Just before Jesus died on the Cross, He celebrated the Passover with His disciples. He took some bread and referred to it as His body. He took the wine also, which represented His blood that was going to be shed for the sins of many. Jesus became our Passover Lamb. His blood protects us from the Angel of Death. It protects us from the Judgment of God.

  Something to take note of while Jesus was dying for us: In the Old Testament, God gave instructions on building a Tabernacle, then later, a Temple for worship. There was a special room set aside for the priests to enter once a year. Inside this room was the Ark of the Covenant, Aaron's rod, and a jar of manna. The Ark of the Covenant was significant because God's Presence was on the Ark. No one could see God and live. If people touched the Ark of the Covenant, they would die. Even the priests who went into the Holy of Holies, which was the special room they went into once a year to offer the sacrifice, were at risk of dying while bringing the offering in, so a rope was attached to their legs, in case they had to be pulled out of this room, for no one could go in this room and live. But, while Jesus was dying on the Cross, the curtain that separated this room from everything else, was torn in half, from top to bottom. Jesus' death was powerful enough to end the separation between God and man because of sin. Now human beings could come into God's presence without being killed, if the person is covered in the blood of Christ. (A person who is covered in the blood of Christ is one who trusts in Jesus as his or her Savior from sin).

   You might be asking yourself, 'If Jesus is God, then why didn't He know when the end of the world was?'. There is a section in Philippians which tells of Jesus humbling Himself and laying His power as God, down. He was still God, but in order to serve us by living on earth and dying for us, He had to lay His glory aside. He would have it back again, but for that time period, He laid His glory down. He operated as a man like us, but lived in the power of the Holy Spirit.

  Jesus healed people and raised them up from the dead. He healed deaf people. He healed lepers. He changed water into wine and cast out demons. Most of all, He became the Ultimate Sacrifice we needed to have in order to take our sins away and to set us free from sin, and from sin's hold on our lives.

    There are many prophecies in the Old Testament about Jesus coming, which He fulfilled. Isaiah 53 gives a vivid description of what He was going to be going through. It also tells us that He was going to take the burden of our sin upon Himself. One other verse says that it pleased God to crush Him.

   The One who created us also died for us. And He also rose from the dead, something that had never happened before, nor has it happened since. This kind of resurrection is different than the ones where Jesus prayed over someone who was dead and they came back to life. Those people did not receive new bodies yet, and eventually they died. But Jesus has a new body, and one day, people will too.

   Why is the deity of Christ important, you might be asking?  If Jesus is truly God in the flesh, then other religious belief systems are invalid. If Jesus is God in the flesh, then Allah is not God at all. Jesus did not have a Father called Allah. Allah never sent His Son to earth to die for people's sins. There is only one true God. It is either the God of the Bible, or it is not. If Jesus is God, then Mohammed is not God's prophet. Nor is Joseph Smith. If Jesus is truly God in the flesh, then Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses are wrong. They do not believe in the deity of Christ and they have a works mentality of salvation. If Jesus is truly God in the flesh, then there is no work we can do to be saved or to add to our salvation.

   Either the Bible is entirely correct, or it isn't. The Bible is actually one continuous story, of a God who created human beings who fell into the slavery of sin, and how the God who created them worked a plan throughout the whole Bible to redeem mankind from sin.

  You have to understand that sin is not something we are entitled to. We live in a generation where we feel like we are entitled to have whatever we want or think we need. When it comes to selfishness and the pleasures of sin, we feel entitled to those as well. Instead of seeing the danger of sin, and sin as our enemy that we need to be freed from, we see it as an asset, although we know it will keep us out of heaven. We devise ways to think that somehow Jesus died to take the penalty for our sins, but that we can still hold onto our precious sins. Nothing could be further than the truth.

   All religions have a form or method that is held by them, that they believe will get people into heaven or will get people right with God. Every one of them has some kind of work involved. Mormons believe that a person needs to believe in Jesus, but after that it is his or her responsibility to do good works. The belief in Jesus opens the door for salvation, but the person is responsible for continuing to do good works. In Islam, there are 5 pillars to follow. Even then, no one knows if Allah will allow them into heaven. Jehovah's Witnesses believe in good works as well. They will quote verses like, 'Faith without works is dead' to mean that we also must work to have faith. Even many 'Christian' groups, although possibly unaware, believe in good works adding or providing salvation. But the Bible is very clear that it is not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saves us. Not by works, but by faith alone are we saved. Yes, works will accompany our new life in Christ, but they are not what saves us. Only One lived a perfect life, and we get in on His score, not ours.

  One last thing to cover on this is that, according to the Bible, Jesus is the only way to heaven. There is no other name given to men, whereby we must be saved. Jesus said He is the only way to the Father, and in another place it says that there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). If the Bible is a book that makes perfect sense from beginning to the end, and if it is truly God's love letter to us, then we need to look into it and know what it says to us. The Bible is not a bunch of hit or miss quotes or stories. It is a continuous story of God reaching fallen human beings and providing redemption for them. No one has to work to try to reach God any more. God has reached out to us by sending His Son to us. God sent His Son, not just to set an example for us to live by, but to provide the sacrifice we needed to have to cover over our sins, and to provide a death that would give a final blow to the Enemy of our souls. None of that is provided for in the Q'ran or the book of Mormon. There is no God reaching down to His people in those books.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Things I Am Irritated At

  O.K., I shouldn't be irritated should I? I should be grateful, and I am grateful for all that I have and all that God have entrusted to me. I can count my blessings and be in tears because of what I have and how I have been so richly blessed. Then why I am irritated and what makes me irritated? What should I do about this problem?

  I am irritated whenever I see or hear slander. This never really bothered me until I found myself in the middle of situations where people were being unfairly publicized. It's not only with people though. Did you know that the soy farm industry slandered the coconut industry in the 1970s and caused the coconut industry to loss money. It was all because of false reports and set up 'tests' to prove that coconuts were not as nourishing as people were discovering them to be. I have had relatives slandered as well as people I know in the church, as well as people who are well known in other churches. Even if the slandered person is at fault, there is no need to go public with the issues. If a person is considered 'dangerous' it still does not have to go public. If God is not big enough to allow the criminalized person to be caught and dealt with, and if we have to go outside of the Bible's parameters to make sure everyone knows how bad a person really is, then we need to do something else besides church.

   I am not a Bible scholar, although I have spent a lot of time in the word. But I get irritated when people diminish the power of God to try to fit a belief system that will protect them from getting too emotional. I am not going to name anyone here, but I have heard Godly people put down anything that has to do with emotions or worshiping God using our emotions. A person once made fun of a couple of songs that were out. I can't for the life of me figure out what it wrong with these songs. One of them is sung by Big Daddy Weave and the words that this person found disturbing are 'every I breathe You seem  a little bit closer, I never want to leave, I want to stay in Your warm embrace, Oh basking in the glory shining from Your face...". I can't imagine what is supposed to be wrong with this song. Here's another one sung by Phillips, Craig, and Dean: "I am a friend of God. I am a friend of God. I am a friend of God He calls me friend." I think I would be honored to be called God's friend. I am puzzled and don't get it. I guess personally, if you don't like those songs, it is o.k., but to think they are heretical or wrong, I am really puzzled. By the way, I have heard that PCD made a statement saying that they do not believe in modalism. So, either they changed their belief system, or they realized that everyone and their brother believes that they are modalists and want to set the record straight.

   The third thing that irritates me ties in with what I just wrote. I am tired of people throwing away the baby with the bath water. Practically speaking, I am tired of people developing teachings that limit God's power and give the few examples of people who operate in the spiritual gifts in a wrong way, making them the standard for spiritual gifts usage. We live in a fallen world and wherever there is truth, there will be counterfeits. There will be people from cults using the 'spiritual gifts' (although they really aren't using the spiritual gifts from God). There will be professing Christians using the spiritual gifts, but in a wrong way. Why would we be surprised? Then there will be Christians who are immature in their spiritual growth using the spiritual gifts much like the Corinthian church did. They do need correction and they do need someone to disciple them. I think that is where the church is lacking today. We are very unteachable, and when we come to Christ, we don't let go of that independence and wanting to do things our own way. It is hard for us to understand what discipleship looks like and how we are to respond to it (based on the Scriptures). I also know the 'discipleship' itself has been abused and many have been hurt by it because it was not done Biblically. But both discipleship and the power of God can be seen in the Scriptures and both can be embraced today, if used humbly, by those who are called by God to the church.

   There is no need to have conferences which divide people in the body of Christ on this matter. We need to stop arguing with each other and do what God says. All of this is to be on the foundation of love, and the greatest love that has ever been manifest was on that day when God's holy, perfect Son died in our place to pay the penalty for our sins. Can't we at least look at that and be grateful to God, and as a result of our receiving this love, can't we give this to others in the body of Christ? Are we so hung up on being politically spiritually correct that we miss the love and grace of God? When we hate others in the body of Christ, we are dividing and we are not loving. God tells us that others will know we our Christians (that we belong to God) by our love for one another. That includes being patient with others, not knocking other believers over because of their struggles with sin, or, their use of, or disuse of the spiritual gifts.

   I wonder what God thinks of the church today? I would imagine that He would be sad, especially when we know better. But I have to look at my own heart and my struggles with people. Sure, I pray that God will have mercy on the slanderers. I pray for unity in the body of Christ. I pray for healing and the love of Christ in the church (His Body). But I also know that I am susceptible to sinning by being angry and irritated. I have lost my focus on the Cross because I am too busy watching people stab each other and call names and make fun of other believers because of what they believe in and are living out. So, my confession is just that. I would like to turn my gaze back toward God, and off all the trouble. I am the one who needs to be prayed for. I am the one who needs to bask in God's presence and draw close to God. Thanks for allowing me to vent. I will pray once again the prayer I saw in the back of a Power magazine years ago dealing with marriage problems. "Lord please change my marriage, and begin with me." But it will have a couple of different words. "Lord, please change my world, but begin with me first." If I continue to dwell on the bad things, I will be the one to become bitter and angry. That can snowball and I could end up in the 'gall of bitterness' as Peter described one person as being in. I will be the loser. So, I will choose to worship God again, and let go of the things that irritate me today.

Friday, September 5, 2014

My First Date With My Husband And What God Was Doing in My Heart

  I formally met my husband at the Winter Park Youth Center on October 23, 1971. I did not know the Lord yet, but God was definitely working in my heart.

  During this evening, after I had cancelled a babysitting job, I was walking around and there were some big round wooden tables. A guy was at one of them, and I passed him a couple of times. Of course, my method of meeting guys during this time was to *smile* at them. It didn't take long for them to notice me usually, and respond.

   Even though I was not a Christian yet, I had an impression to meet this guy, so I did. I didn't know that there were rules to follow so I gave this guy my phone number. He called the next day and set up a date to go to a homecoming dance, to which I automatically responded in that I would go. I also invited him over to the house because I knew my parents were not going to let me date anyone they did not yet meet.

   My parents liked this boy, and I would be allowed to date him. But he asked me out for a strange kind of date. He would not tell me what it was, but he told me that I would like it because it has music. I was puzzled and unsure of whether I wanted to go on this date or not, and I have to give some background information as to why I was apprehensive about this date that would occur on a Monday night coming up.

   About six months before this all happened, God began to deal with my heart. There was something He wanted me to know. This all happened when I was 14, at the time when my grandmother passed away. I was continually experiencing an awareness that God wanted me to know something. Never could figure out what it was though. At this point, my heart was hardened to the Gospel. I did fear God up to a point, but now it was my turn in life to call the shots, so I thought.

   For my early school years, I didn't really know how to talk, so kids would pick on me and take advantage of that. Kids would bully me around and get me into trouble for things I should not have done, and by the time I was 13, I got really tired of this. I decided to turn the tables around and use my looks as a weapon against people bullying me around. I started bullying people around. I even beat people up now and started fights with people. But now, God was working in my heart, and I wasn't willing to respond, for if I did respond, I wouldn't be able to have power over people anymore.

   During the summer right after my grandmother died, we went up north to visit. I was thinking that this would be good for me, because this impression concerning God would probably go away while I was on vacation. But it didn't. In fact, it continued. I was constantly wondering what it was God was trying to communicate with me, but at the same time, I wanted to be ignorant of this awareness, because I wasn't willing to give up my desire for control.

   One time we were in the car, and a religious program came on (which was very rare). I plugged my ears because I wanted to play like I was ignorant of whatever God wanted me to know. I developed a phobia of being in a place where I would happen to hear about God and whatever it was He wanted me to know. I was learning to protect myself from this ever happening when all of the sudden my new boyfriend wants to take me to a place that he won't tell me what it is, except that I will like it because there will be music there. What if this place has to do with God? What will I do? Should I bring earplugs just in case?

   Monday night came, and my new date arrived to pick me up to bring me to this mysterious place that would have music. Oh no, we arrived at a church building! What is this? He explained to me that it was called, 'Young Life'.

   I sat at my very first ever 'Young Life' meeting as scared as could be. But I did sit and listen. I saw a lot of people there that I knew were not Christians. Some of them were smoking right there. Should I get out my cigarettes and light one up too? It was very strange indeed, and I did not understand the message that was given, but, I did stay there through the whole thing.

   We had gone to a couple more 'Young Life' meetings during that year, and it got easier for me to go to them. Whatever it was that God wanted me to know still eluded me, but the awareness was still there. My husband to be would ask me questions like 'Are you a Christian?' to which I would respond back 'yes'. He was really troubled by my baptism experience, and I was troubled by his continually bringing this up. I called the reverend at our church and asked him about baptism. Eventually, my boyfriend took me to talk with his pastor, at his church building about baptism. The pastor was very kind and realized that I didn't have a clue of what he was talking about. So, the pastor read a little booklet to me called, 'The Four Spiritual Laws' and asked me at the end, if I had ever prayed a prayer like the one written on the back. At that moment, it became clear to me that I didn't have a relationship with God. I was now beginning to see something about this awareness of God, and what God was trying to communicate to me.

   I took the booklet home and read it over and over again. I still didn't get it, but it was beginning to make some sense to me. I did pray the prayer in the back of the book, but not sure how much of the Gospel I grasped at that time.

   God used the relationship I was developing with my boyfriend to position me to respond to the Gospel. The following year was a struggle, for this boy I was dating and I were growing close together. But there were things he didn't know about me that probably would have made him end the relationship. The way I wanted to run my life and control my relationships with others would have interfered with my relationship with him. So, one day, very clearly it came to me, that I could either continue on with this relationship with this young man, or, I could go the other direction (which I was going anyway, but not in front of my boyfriend). I couldn't have both at the same time. I really loved my boyfriend though. What will I choose?

   If I continued in my rebellion, I would not be able to respond to God. I could give all that up and turn to God, and keep my boyfriend, or, I could just continue to try to impress my friends/enemies and bully people around and manipulate with my looks. I had to think hard on this. Either choice, I would have to give up something precious to me. I would either have to give up my boyfriend and my opportunity to know God, or, I would have to give up my control and manipulation, which I seemed to be very successful at during that season.

   God arranged for me to meet other people who were Christians, and they encouraged me as I responded to God. By God's grace, I let go of my ego and the other world that I was in, that would have bitten me in the end, anyway. It wasn't easy, but it was for the best. Honestly, I don't know where I would be today if God hadn't intervened. I have a feeling that I might now even be alive today. I am so grateful that God was putting things in my awareness about Him, and for the friends who I met because He put them in my life.

   I would not trade my life for anyone else's or any other option, no matter how grand it could have been. Even though life has been difficult, God has always been there and provided grace and help during the seasons of difficulty. Now it is my turn to help others to learn to hear from God. God gives us the ministry of reconciliation, which reconciles people back to God.

   Everyone needs to be reconciled to God because of sin. Sin is like a disease which everyone has. The only cure for it is the Gospel message. We sin because we are sinners, and we enjoy our sin. God can give us new hearts that are greater than our love and hold on sin. The power of God is so great that we can be free from sin, and the desire to live in sin.

   The essence of sin is simply loving ourselves instead of God. We all do this in many ways. Some of us are openly evil and end up in prison. Others are quietly evil, just basically self-centered. But God can help us all because He sent His Son around 2,000 years ago to die for our sins. He committed no sin, so He could die in our place.

   During that time, God the Father put all our sin upon His Son, Jesus. For three hours, the sun didn't shine and darkness was upon the earth. Jesus uttered these word, 'It is finished', which meant that everything necessary for us to be free from sin and to be cleansed from sin was accomplished. Another amazing thing happened though; the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies was torn in half. You might ask, what does this mean?

   The Holy of Holies was a special room that only a sanctified priest could enter during certain times of the year, and with a specific type of required sacrifice that was directed by God. If anything were wrong with anything in this event, the priest would die. In fact, I believe that there was a rope attached to him so he could be pulled out if necessary. No one could just enter this room where God's presence was in, or they would die. But when Jesus died, the curtain that separated this room and kept it secluded was torn in half. This simply meant that God and man could now be reconciled again. Now people can go free! We don't have to be slaves of sin anymore.

    Jesus provided the Ultimate Sacrifice for our sins. Up to that point, people who wanted their sins covered would have to slaughter lambs and offer them to God. Now we don't have to do that because Jesus died as the Lamb of God. He only had to die one time. Another spectacular thing happened though; Jesus rose from the dead! This has never happened before. Jesus was the first to rise from the dead! He stayed for a while and continued to teach the disciples. Then He ascended back to heaven. One Day, He will return to earth and will take with Him those who trust in Him. Only those who turn from sin and trust in Him will go with Him back to heaven. The others will go to a place of torment that will last forever. My mom used to call it 'the devil's fire' but the Bible calls it 'hell'. It is also referred to as the Lake of Fire. The devil will be in this Lake of Fire along with all his angels (demons, demonic realm). But sadly, all of us will be there too, unless we repent and turn to God by trusting in Jesus as Lord/Savior.

  For more information on the Gospel, please go to http://thegospelconversation.blogspot.com
or http://test4gp.wordpress.com 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Everyone Has Their Own Truth. What If My Truth Destroys You? What If Your Truth Is Lying To You?

  I was musing on the thought of how some people think that truth is relative. This is also known as post modernism, and I believe it is on it's way out, but this thinking is basically absurd. It goes something like this: Something might be true for you, but not for me, or vice-versa. An example of this would be, you might believe Jesus is the only way to heaven, yet Joe Blow doesn't believe that that belief system is truth to him. Yet, the post-modern person believes that both he himself, and Joe Blow will end up in heaven when they die.

   I actually have seen this in effect. We were talking with some young adults one time, and one of them professed to believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven. Someone produced a scenario giving the person a friend who is a devout Muslim. He asked her if she believed the Muslim friend would go to heaven, based upon her belief of Jesus being the only way to heaven. She had no doubt that her Muslim friend would go to heaven. Why though, someone asked? Because, to her, Jesus was the only way to heaven, but to her Muslim friend, Jesus was not the only way to heaven. Are you confused yet?

   What these people don't understand, is that everything seems to be ok with this way of thinking until your truth is sacrificed because of someone else's truth. Let's take the example of Islam. Radical Islamists believe that anyone who does not 'submit' to Islam should be killed. So, if my truth says that I don't want to be a Muslim, yet my encounter with a Muslim who believes I should be killed, whose truth wins? Should I be killed for the sake of the Muslim's truth, or should my truth prevail against his? Either way, one of us has to sacrifice our truth, and if that is the case, which one should be sacrificed?

   Would you be willing to hang onto your right to believe that all truth is relevant and lose your truth to someone else's truth for the sake of their truth, or, is there an outside standard of truth that everyone is supposed to conform to whether they want to or not?

   The Bible has a lot to say about 'truth'. In fact, Jesus said that He is the way, the 'truth' and the life, and that no person will come to God unless it is through Him. Was Jesus speaking the truth, or is it just truth for those who want to believe it? The Bible also says that every knee will bow at Jesus, whether they had believed in Him or not while on earth. Everyone, according to the Bible, will face God either in a terrible Judgment, or they will be welcomed into heaven, depending upon whether they responded to God's call to repentance and faith during their lifetimes. All of those who do not repent and turn to God will be thrown in the Lake of Fire. I wonder if those who are in the Lake of Fire will be saying, 'This can't be true!'

   I find it amazing that most of the people I encounter who believe in this doctrine of truth being relative, are on the college campuses, or, are college age students. What is ironic too, is that so many school shootings happen on college campuses. Why would we be surprised though, for if it is taught that every person has their own truth, and that truth is relative to what the person wants, then it would seem normal that people will come in with guns and shoot someone they don't like or are angry at. Their truth tells them that they need to do that. The Bible says that 'every man does what is right in his own eyes'. Hitler did what was right in his eyes. Every school shooting is done by someone who is doing what is right in his or her own eyes. And if their truth violates yours, that's too bad. You lose if you are the one who gets shot. It seems like this teaching is biting back those who promoted it in the first place.

   God is bigger than man's opinions or thoughts. If we think God's truth is not relevant to us, we are going to be mighty surprised one day. Every belief system will come to an end, but God's word will never come to an end. God's word does not apply to some, and not others. It applies to all, regardless of whatever the belief system is. Either Jesus will be a person's Advocate, or, He will be their Adversary. He will be an Adversary to those who reject Him. He will be an Advocate of those who forsake their sins and selfishness and turn to Him.

John 3:36  ESV
"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him."
1 John 5:12 ESV
"Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life."
John 14:6 ESV
"Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
John 8:31, 32 ESV
"So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,  and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 
1 Timothy 2:5 ESV
"For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. "
John 16:13 ESV
"When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come."
2 Thessalonians 2:9-11 ESV
"The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false,  in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness."

   So you see, when it all boils down to what people define truth as, it means (to them) preferences. It comes down to what we prefer, what we want. It is basically saying that there isn't any higher authority than that person's authority. It disregards God and what He says. It is basically everyone doing what is right in their own eyes. It's just that simple. 

   There is only one truth, and it comes from God. Everything else is just a counterfeit. Everything else comes from the Enemy of our souls. Who will you believe?

Monday, September 1, 2014

What About Those Who Have Never Heard The Gospel?

   What about those who have never heard the Gospel? Is it fair that they end up in hell? This question is probably the main question that Skeptics will bring up in a conversation about the Gospel.

   Not only Skeptics though, are troubled by this. It seems like most everybody has been troubled by this question, and many let it form their understanding of who God is.

   The goal of the devil is to get people, really all of us, to not trust God, or to think that God is not trustworthy. So, along with our human and limited reasoning, with the coaxing of the devil, many of us find it hard to trust in the God who created us.

   But let's look a little further into this. What does the Bible say about it? Do you think this question takes God by surprise? He already has answers for this if we just know where to look, and if we are really searching for the truth.

   "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,
  because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

    For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;  and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,  slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,  foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.  Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them." Romans 1:18-32 ESV
  These verses make it clear that people really do know God exists. What should we do if we know God exists? If we are wise, we would look for a way to know Him. We would understand that God is the creator and we are subject to Him. But in reality, no one wants to be subject to Him. So, we suppress the truth. We try to believe that God really doesn't exist, or at least in our minds, He doesn't exist. 
  The problem with humankind is called, 'autonomy' which simply is another word for independence. We don't want to depend upon God because we want to call the shots. We want to control our world. We want to be our own boss. If God really does exist, then we can't stay in that adulterous relationship we are in. That pornography business will have to go. That division between my siblings and me will have to be resolved, which means I won't get my part of the share of the inheritance (or what I think should be my share). Using elderly parents or handicapped children to collect a check from the government will have to be used on the parents or children instead of on ourselves. There will be no more stealing towels from Holiday Inn, or downloading music illegally from the internet. We won't be able to do those selfish activities anymore, if God is truly who He says He is. Plus, we will give account of all our evil actions on That Day and it won't be a pretty sight. 
   Yes, we enjoy being selfish and sinful, yet, when something goes wrong, we wonder where God is. We cannot live selfishly and expect God to take care of us. 
  In the above verses, it tells us that God turns us over to our unrighteousness. There was a time when each person knows God (not in the sense of having a relationship, but knowing that He exists), yet people do not see fit to acknowledge Him. They want to do away with Him. They will not be able to see Him after this unless they change their minds and truly want to see Him. 
   In the Old Testament, we can see where God tirelessly reaches out to people, but they don't respond to Him. Time and time again God patiently took the initiative to lead and care for His people, but most of the time they complained and rebelled. They wanted to be like the other nations, but God did not want them to be like the other nations. They were to follow and obey God, but their rebellion caused God to have to punish them many times. 
  In Genesis 6, it says that God's Spirit will not always strive with man. If a person persists on rejecting the authority of God, God's Spirit will not strive with him anymore. The person will become like the description in Romans 1, as seen in the verses above. 
   So, God does reveal Himself through His creation, and His creation can be observed anywhere on earth. If someone were to respond to God as being Creator, God would respond to that person. God would never turn away a person who is truly searching to know Him, and who will be willing to forsake all to know Him. But does that ever happen?
   We have accounts of people who have come to know the Lord, even though they have never heard the Gospel message, nor were they raised in a 'Christian home' or environment. 
   One lady, and I can't remember her name, spoke at a church about 35 years ago. She was from India, I believe. She had never heard the Gospel at all during her life time. God revealed Himself to her through dreams. Through the dreams, she learned the Gospel and came to know Christ. Another person in another Third World country was seeking God. There were no missionaries or churches in her land at that time. She actually saw part of a Bible verse in the sky, which helped answer her questions about God! God is doing amazing works in the deepest parts of the darkest places in the world!  Another group of people in a remote country, somehow knew that the answer to what they needed to hear would come in the form of a red color, which was the same color of a beetle in their forests. From the other angle, a man who had just bought a red jeep and brought it over to this country, reluctantly went through this area, and was overwhelmingly welcomed by the group looking for the red color like the beetle. 

In Revelation 5:9, we read these words:   
"And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation..." ESV

And in Revelation 7:9, we read these words:
"After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands..." ESV

  As you can see, the people who will be with the Lord will be from every tribe, people, and languages. We are not God, and we cannot see all the different people groups that are on earth. God's ways are so much higher than our ways. He does things we cannot even imagine. He has a 'ways and means' committee that we know nothing about.

   Remember, none of us desires to follow God. When given the choice, we turn the other way. Unless God is preparing the heart, and the person responds to God, salvation will not take place. Salvation is not just making a decision for Christ. It is turning wholeheartedly to God, and leaving our sins behind. 

   America has been known as the 'land of the free' and so it is, yet, with all the freedom we have here, no one chooses to follow God. Although I don't believe America is a Christian nation anymore, there are many pockets in our country that still hold onto the true Gospel, yet, no one really goes looking for these pockets. That's because our hearts want to turn away from God, instead of turning to Him. 

   We could be a nation which has the Gospel message in front of us 24/7, yet still miss the Gospel. So, if we are living in a Third World country, and God pulls on our hearts to know Him, we will come to know Him. He may use dreams. He may use missionaries. He might even use angels. Only God knows how people will be reached with the Gospel message. They will be reached, even if we can't do it ourselves. 

   The bottom line is this; if a person believes in God because of the evidence of creation, and that person wants to know God, God will find a way to reach this person. People generally turn away from God even with all the evidence of His creation. Ultimately, God will give these people up to a debased mind if they don't repent. All are accountable to God and are responsible themselves for responding to God. There is no excuse acceptable for rejecting God. 

  One final thought; when people say that there is not evidence that God created the world, that is evidence that they themselves have suppressed the truth. People who suppress the truth will not see the truth anymore. That is the nature of how it works. 

   For more information on the Gospel message, please go to: http://thegospelconversation.blogspot.com

Friday, August 29, 2014

My Heart Is Heavy Tonight

  When I first came to Christ, I looked back at my life and almost had many pity parties because I would think of how hard my life was. What I didn't know....

   I had a very good life considering we live in a fallen world. I had parents who had no intentions of ever leaving or getting a divorce, yet, inside I complained because I thought my mom was too strict and my dad never talked to me, for some reason unknown to me.

   One time, when I was 14 or so, I was so irritated at my family, that I ran away. I was gone for 45 minutes, and went to a convenience store to buy some cigarettes. Not sure why the guy who sold them to me didn't get into trouble!

  Oh, what a terrible life I had! Or, did I really have a terrible life?

  Now that I am older, I have met a lot of people. I talk to homeless people quite often. I still don't understand the dynamic of people being homeless, but nevertheless, it is still very real and prevalent.

   What I never knew until the past couple of years, is how so many people suffer. Not just with a headache or a broken relationship. I mean women who were raped continually by their fathers. Men who were beaten mercilessly for no apparent reason when they were little boys. Some women I know were raped by their brothers. A few of my friends had seen people being killed. Then there is the alcohol and drug abuse, and parents who are out to lunch because they don't even know what is going on. There are moms who sell their little girls out to men in order to get a service provided.

   Did you know that there are people who are skilled in working in mind control methods into children? In order to accomplish this though, they have to put the child into traumatic situations in order to create different personalities in these children. I know this is hard to believe, but I will recommend some books below to help us understand what is going on.

   What surprises me, is how common all this is today. For some people, this is just normal life. Do you ever wonder how a person can just go on a bus and blow it up? Have you ever seen a person who doesn't seem to have a conscience? There is a good reason for it. And the whole situation is most troubling.

   I live in a bubble, a nice safe bubble where I don't see any danger, nor can I imagine the things that really go on in the world. I don't have parents fighting in my house. I don't have men who live here that I don't trust. But, this kind of danger is going on today, and it is probably in every neighborhood, and it is in the church.

   The most puzzling part of it all is the dynamic of how hidden this whole thing is. For example, I knew someone who was a victim of the parents using Satanic Ritual Abuse on her continually. One thing she told me that was interesting was that an outsider would never even detect what is going on in the home. This woman's father looked like any other hard working dad, at least during the day. The mom, who was a witch, was well respected in the community, as well as being well liked. Yet, behind closed doors, the torture took place, but only at night, for the most part, as well as in hidden places.

   My friend shared a quote from Anton LeVay, which went something like this; "Serve God during the day, and serve Satan during the night." It makes sense that they would appear to live normal lives during the day, but at night, the activities of darkness take place.

   What are the results of this horrific activity? One of the main things that happens is that it affects people mentally. They are never mentally right and have a hard time separating the truth from the lies, and even trusting God is hard for them to do.

   Many years ago, my boyfriend took me to the movies. We went to a drive in, I believe, and the name of the movie was 'Tales From the Crypt'. I don't remember most of what I saw that night, but one scene stood out and I will never forget it. It was a scene where a man stuck his head in a hole in the ground. Whatever he saw when he stuck his head in the hole, was so terrifying that when he pulled his head out of the ground, he was never right mentally again. I think that is similar to what happens to children who are raped, who see people being murdered, who have violent parents, who are abandoned, and who are mercilessly beaten. These children see horror, and they are never the same.

   Many of these people are also in a type of slave/master relationship with someone, or maybe even more than one person. A common thing I see today, is a parent who has custody of the grandchildren, and is holding their own child in a sense, as a hostage. An example of this would be a mom who abuses her child, then the child grows up being warped without any sense of value or dignity, and this child has children of her own, yet, she is unable to take care of them, so the mom steps in and gets the kids. The mom also gets money then from the government, which is supposed to go to help pay for child support, but in reality, it gets spent on liquor or drugs. The mom has the daughter 'Baker Acted' so she takes the kids, and gets money from the government for the kids, but spends it on herself instead. If the daughter was able to function like a human being, she could get her kids back, and this 'hold' that the mother has over her daughter would be broken.

   You would be surprised at how many people use the government to get money. Not all people who take in foster children do this, but a good many of them do. The money that is supposed to pay for the children's needs, goes to the person who is fostering the children, and is used for drugs or alcohol. Homes with drugs or alcohol almost always lead to abusing children. Children go without because guardians are taking money from them and wasting it on themselves.

   I don't have any more pity parties for me on how hard my life was. I actually cry thinking of how good I had it as a child. I've come out of my bubble into the real world of people who can't seem to figure out what life is supposed to be about.

   At this point, I really don't know what to do about all this, but pray. It seems like God has me encounter these people on a regular basis and I know He wants to deliver them from their bondages.

   I really want to write this blog so that others can be aware of what is going on in this really dark world that we live in every day. Most people just shut their ears to the cry of these people, either because we don't believe their stories, or, we just can't handle hearing about that kind of suffering.

   I don't have an answer yet, but I do have some direction for help. In order to help people in situations such as the ones I have talked about, we have to have the context of their environment. I have a couple of books that are helpful in understanding what is going on in the lives of so many people that we see everyday.

   It would take pages to explain all the details of what makes this whole problem and why it is there today, but I will just recommend these books. Each of them brings a piece of the puzzle to help us understand so that we can help. Remember, these are people who you might work with, or perhaps it is a cashier that you see every week. Maybe it's your child's school teacher, or maybe it is the little boy who lives next door. The only way you will ever find out is by getting to know these people and investigating their lives by asking questions. It takes a special discernment and patient love to know how to help.

Keep in mind, that unless we humble ourselves, we are not going to be much help to the suffering. In the 1800s, for example, those who made up the church were mainly middle to upper class people. They looked at those who were sick, or those who had mental problems as if they had those conditions because of their sin. As a result, the whole medical field of psychiatry had been developed. It was the church's responsibility to help the suffering and weak, yet, those who were in the church disdained those who were afflicted. So, the sick and mentally ill turned to the world for help. You can see what a mess that has brought about for us today.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Are Christians Who Preach The Gospel Like Those of Westboro?

  I find it interesting sometimes, when people are reluctant to listen to us when we are preaching the Gospel. Occasionally, there will be accusations, like being a 'Gay basher' or even just being judgmental. But why do we think such things? Is there any veracity to such accusations?

   I remember as we would go to a little town called, 'Interlachen' there would be a billboard situated in the direction of facing the street as it was coming to the stop sign. It had verses on it like the section out of Romans 1 where God will judge homosexuals. The sign wasn't very grace filled, yet there was some truth on it. Something just seemed off though, and I could never figure out what it was. It resembled something that would have been designed by Westboro, but it wasn't.

  One day, while out sharing the Gospel, an older woman was sitting on a bench. I offered her a tract, and she asked me what it was, so I told her it was a Gospel tract. She was irate. She accused me of judging her, and told me that God was going to judge me for what I was doing. Hmm. I thought I was doing what the Bible says to do, from my heart. What was wrong with this picture?

   Years ago, when my mother was young, the Jehovah's Witnesses used to come around banging on doors. When you let them in, they would try to manipulate you to join their group. The reason they want a person to join their group is because they have a religion that consists of doing good works. I guess if you are a really good person in their religion, maybe you can be one of the Elite, or at least you can get into the other general heaven they believe in. A person's conversion to their group adds Brownie points, so to speak.

  Perhaps the thing that makes Christians look like Westboro is the way the Gospel is communicated by Open Air workers. Open Air workers use microphones to amplify their voices so they can be heard by everyone in large crowds or gatherings. Some also hold up signs that tell people to repent. That action is probably the closest thing to looking like Westboro.

  I am not against people using microphones or even holding up signs while doing evangelism, but at the same time, we have to realize that our message is not the same as the message of Westboro. Fred Phelps, who started Westboro (at least the way it became) claimed to be Primitive Baptist, but functionally, Fred Phelps was Peleagian. Pelagians take their teachings from a 4th century heretic called Pelagius, who believed that human beings are not born with a sinful inclination, but choose to sin. They believe that whenever a person sins, it is because he or she chose to sin, not because he or she was tempted to sin and fell into it due to the sinful flesh, which loves to sin. They also have an outer view of sin, meaning that sin consists of the things we do, not who we are. So, while they are preaching against a particular type of sin, such as homosexuality, they would see homosexuality as the sin that human beings commit. What they don't understand, is that in their hearts, they have pride, greed, envy, hatred, sexual temptations, lust, desire for power, desire for control, strife, idolatry, self-centeredness, and the list goes on. But why do they not see these things as sin?

   The Bible never says 'You shall not be proud', but it tells us to be humble, and if we are proud, God will resist us. The Bible doesn't say, 'You shall not be self-centered', yet the theme of self-centeredness is all throughout the Bible. So, in essence, they are sticking with the 10 Commandments, and some verses out of Leviticus that spell out what we are not to do, and they think that they are doing all of what the law requires. But are they?

   In the Old Testament, there are two commands. Both of these commands are the underlying commands for the 10 Commandments, and any other law God gives. One command says to love God with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength. I doubt if anyone is able to do that commandment, unless God enables him or her to. The other commandment says to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we do these commandments, then we will keep all the rest, because keeping the commandments is a heart issue, not an outward appearance issue.

  Do you think that those who work with Westboro really love God and other people? If they do, then why are they not preaching the hope of the Gospel instead of telling people that they are doomed to hell? Westboro is just another religion, among many others, but it is a religion based upon hate instead of love.

   In the New Testament, Jesus gives a new command, even though it is an old command from the Old Testament. It is to love one another. People watching us and looking on will know that we are Christians by our love for one another, and our love for other people. The problem with us is that we don't know what love is, and we don't have a proper definition of love, so, when it comes to 'loving God', or 'loving others', we think we are already doing it, but we probably aren't. But we can, because once we experience God's love for us, we can give it to others. We are freely loved, and we can freely love others.

   The Bible tells us that the Apostle Paul was constrained by the love of Christ. He was controlled by God's love. The is the normal life for a Christian. Reading through 1 John, you can see how strong God's love is for us, and in turn, our love for one another. We are to love strangers, enemies, others in the body of Christ, children, spouses, God, and many other things. But there is something that we are not to love.

   We are not to love sin, nor should we love the devil and his angels. By default, we love sin, because we are born sinners. When we are born again, we have a new heart that can't sin, and that new heart is filled with the love of God. Now we become complex beings because we can still live out of our sinful nature, and we can also live out the new nature, with a new heart, by the power of God. God's word instructs us to 'put to death' the sins of the flesh. We are to put on the 'new'. God's love is in our hearts, yet, if we choose to live out our sinful heart's desires, God's love will not be manifest. We are the ones who will suffer and God's name will be tarnished.

   The Bible tells us that 'by their fruits you will know them'. If you go out today and see a person using a microphone preaching the Gospel message, you will not know necessarily what the fruit of this person's life is, or his motives for preaching. But if a person is out there calling names to people, and being condescending, you can be sure that this person does not understand the love of God yet. Only when we see the seriousness of our own sin, will we appreciate the Cross. If we don't see the seriousness of our own sins, we will become like those of Westboro and will misrepresent the God of the Bible.

  Sure, there are Christians who look like jerks when they are preaching the Gospel. That's bound to happen. But then, how should we look at the commands in the Bible concerning evangelism? Should we dump the idea because there are similarities between evangelists and those of Westboro?

  Things to keep in mind:

1. Jesus commanded His disciples to preach the Gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15)
2. True believers in Jesus Christ have new hearts, yet still have the capability to sin and to misrepresent God.
3. The Bible tells us that true believers in Jesus Christ will be marked by God's love.
4. Westboro does not represent the true God. Westboro represents and false god of hatred and hopelessness.
5. Westboro is very contradictory. Unless they are preaching a message of hope for people to change, there is no purpose for them preaching at all. There is no reason to preach a message of doom, unless there is a way of hope.
6. True believers in Jesus Christ will not look like Westboro, although they may have flaws in their lives.
7. Always look to the Bible for the Standard, not people. People do not measure up to the Standard, and are in need of a Savior.
8. Once a person comes to know the Lord, he or she begins the lifelong process of sanctification. That moment is the beginning of new life, not the end of his or her story. No one arrives while living on this side of eternity.