Category: Emergent


Plenty has recently been said about The Shack, however for those still desirous of defending its message and meaning, please carefully and biblically consider what the author actually believes about the Bible, humanity, repentance, and God’s forgiveness found in Jesus Christ alone.

A Reminder- As Christians, we must never be ignorant of deception and its destructive devices. (2 Corinthians 2:11) Very few lies, especially when designed to infiltrate the truth, immediately expose their true desires. Instead, much like a Trojan horse, they often mask their actual intentions by wrapping themselves in fragments of the truth. Once being brought in, they quickly plant seeds of doubt, deception, and distrust all designed to direct people outside the safe and stalwart walls of the truth, leading them, ultimately to destruction.

Lest we forget, Satan infiltrated the perfect, original garden, subtly planting deceptive seeds in the heart and mind of Eve. (2 Corinthians 11:3) He had (and continues to have) one clear outcome broken into three basic steps- Doubt, Deception, and finally, Destruction. 

Arguably, Young has accomplished Step 1, successfully entering the Christian world by means of The Shack. His newest book, Lies We Believe About God, clearly launches readers headlong into Step 2.

(Excerpts below are directly from Lies We Believe About God)

W. Paul Young on the condition of man-

“Many of us believe that God sees us all as failures, wretches who are utterly depraved.”

“Yes, we have crippled eyes, but not a core of un-goodness. We are true and right, but often ignorant and stupid, acting out of the pain of our wrongheadedness, hurting ourselves, others, and even all creation. Blind, not depraved is our condition.” (Chapter 2)

God’s Word on the condition of man- 

Romans 7:18– “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”

Romans 7:24– “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

W. Paul Young on Salvation and The Gospel-

“So what is the Good News? What is the Gospel?”

“The Good News is not that Jesus has opened up the possibility of salvation and you have been invited to receive Jesus into your life. The Gospel is that Jesus has already included you into His life, into His relationship with God the Father, and into His anointing in the Holy Spirit. The Good News is that Jesus did this without your vote, and whether you believe it or not won’t make it any less or more true.”

“God does not wait for my choice and then “save me.” God has acted decisively and universally for all humankind. Now our daily choice is to either grow and participate in that reality or continue to live in the blindness of our own independence.”

“Are you suggesting that everyone is saved? That you believe in universal salvation? That is exactly what I am saying!”

“Here’s the truth: every person who has ever been conceived was included in the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. When Jesus was lifted up, God “dragged” all human beings to Himself (John 12: 32). Jesus is the Savior of all humankind, especially believers (1 Timothy 4: 10). Further, every single human being is in Christ (John 1: 3), and Christ is in them, and Christ is in the Father (John 14: 20). When Christ—the Creator in whom the cosmos was created—died, we all died. When Christ rose, we rose (2 Corinthians 5).” (Chapter 13)

God’s Word on Salvation and The Gospel-

Jesus Christ- “I am the light of the world: he that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12

Jesus Christ- “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

Jesus Christ-  “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by Me.” John 14:6

Revelation 20:15– “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

May we always carefully and biblically consider what lies beneath the surface of everything we read, watch, and listen to, especially as they relate to the Only True and Living God, His holy and sanctifying Word, and His salvation found solely in Jesus Christ.

“Then said Jesus to those… which believed on Him, If you continue in My word, then are you My disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32

Robber or Redeemer

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“Now at that feast the governor was accustomed to releasing unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will you that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?” Matthew 27:15-17

Pilate said, “But you have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the Passover: will you therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews? Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.” John 18:39-40

From the cereal isle at the grocery store to the food court at the mall, there’s no doubt this world is inundated with an almost endless amount of choices. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements featuring the “latest and greatest” of everything. It’s no wonder we’ve almost become completely desensitized to the daunting amount of decisions staring at us day after day. Yet, in spite of this mountainous menagerie, our choices really don’t have to be that complicated. You see, when it’s all said and done, we are left with only two simple, but absolutely crucial decisions in all that we believe, do, say, and think – the robber or the Redeemer.

When Christ was led before the people, Pilate gave them a choice, Barabbas or Jesus.  The people had arguably made hundreds of thousands of choices in their life times, yet all those decisions could all be boiled down into one of these two categories, the robber or the Redeemer.  The same can be said for all of mankind throughout time. Although material is not necessarily good or bad, our hearts, being stubbornly self-willed, tend to allow us to become completely distracted by the lusts, pleasures, and pain of this planet. In a very real sense, we are often more than willing to be robbed of the joy and peace and wonderful knowledge of Christ for what is, at best, a measly bowl of stew. (Genesis 25:29-34). When examining the presence and power of the robber and the glorious reality of the Redeemer, there are definitely some things worth carefully considering. Here are just a few.

The Robber: Destroying the Foundation
This sin-soaked world, comprised of the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, only has one goal, one aim… to steal all the glory from God!  Jesus called Satan a thief and a murderer and reminds us that he comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.  Even though he is the thief of all thieves, the devil obviously cannot actually steal the Lord. Nor can he kill the truth. And he most certainly cannot destroy the Word of God.  Some might wonder about Psalm 11:3… If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? Doesn’t this verse teach that the foundations can be destroyed?

There are two vantage points to consider when examining this verse, man’s and the Lord’s. Considering the Lord, we know there is nothing that can stand against Him, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Since this is the case, we can logically and biblically conclude that this verse is not saying that God’s Word can actually be destroyed. However, mankind’s love for and access to God’s Word can most definitely be rotted, replaced, and ruined.  I have absolutely no power to actually destroy God, but I most certainly have the capacity to infect and influence the hearts and minds of myself and others, causing a lost desire and direction for the truth, in essence, stealing away the one true foundation. So although the foundation, that is to say, God’s Word, endures forever, we do know that our appropriation, understanding, and application of that foundation can assuredly be robbed from us.

One example of this is found in the parable of the soils (Luke 8). The “birds” (the devil) snatched the Word from the hardened heart, therefore removing the only foundation that will endure forever. Did the Word actually get destroy? No. But the Word was robbed from taking root in the hardened heart.  So, it might be better to say the robber’s strategy is an attack of the heart, an attack designed to prevent us from seeking and being satisfied in the Lord and the truth of His everlasting Word. This attack often involves offering us deceptive distractions and distorted doctrines in an effort to keep our hearts calloused and “dull of hearing”. (Matthew 13:15-16, Hebrews 5:11)

The Redeemer: All Things New
So many have said that we all have a God-shaped hole in our hearts that only Jesus can fill, and while this is true, it is not completely the case. Jesus does not come to simply fill the hole in our old, selfish hearts. No, He comes to remove the stony heart and transplant a new and living heart, His love and life, in its place.  God’s Word calls this the new birth. (John 3) Jesus does not simply fill our old, prideful, flesh-driven and glory-gleaning hearts. He does something much more amazing! He gives a total and spiritual heart transplant. God’s promise to Israel through Ezekiel is also a promise to all who desire to receive His full and free forgiveness in Jesus –  “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh” Ezekiel 36:26.

Not only do we receive a new heart, we also receive a renewed mind. The Bible calls this the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16) Jesus does not desire to fill a portion of our self-centered, “me, myself, and I” preoccupied mind. No, He instead gives us a renewed mind. Being born again means we receive a new heart and a new mind.  This is the truth of the new birth only made possible by the righteous Redeemer of the world, Jesus Christ. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” 2 Corinthians 5:17.

The Reality: Being Born Again is Just the Beginning
Jesus represented all of humanity and as that perfect representation, the Last Adam walked the walk mankind (the first Adam’s race) was always supposed to walk. Just as Jesus fully and freely laid down His life to the will of His Heavenly Father, so too are we to do the same. Jesus does not steal our old nature. He is no robber! He truly is the remarkable Redeemer! He paid our sinful price in full, offering all who are willing to come to Him. He purchased us from the slave market of sin, self, and Satan and in its place, He offers us new life in Him. Jesus freely offers His Spirit, His nature, as the great exchange for all who are willing to turn to Him, all who choose to be redeemed. But this exchange is not the end. Actually, it’s just the beginning. Just as in all births, being born again means there’s a lot of growth to come.

Even though those who have been born again have passed from death to life, having received a new heart and new mind, there is still the presence of the old man and of this broken, sinful world. That is why, for our good and His glory, the Lord requires us to bury the old man by daily turning from ourselves and this rebellious world to the True and Living God, Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever and ever, amen!

My Reasonable Responsibility: Wearing the Redeemer’s Clothes
Although the old, selfish, and rebellious man has been dethroned, he will not be completely eradicated until the rapture or in death. Oh, what a day that will be, to see without the fleshly veil, my great and glorious King! Oh, what a day that will be!!! So, in order to keep myself from being robbed by the riches and cares of this world; if I am to prevent myself from having my love of Jesus and His Word stolen through subtlety, then burying the old man daily is a must! (1 Corinthians 15:31, Colossians 3:4-11)

Great, but what are practical means necessary to keep from being robbed of the depth and beauty and glory of the Lord? “Just give me a list,” says the baby Christian. “Tell me the things of this world that Satan will use to rob me of the knowledge of Christ. Then I will be prepared.” The Bible definitely gives us some broad and sometimes even detailed lists of what we should “take off/mortify”, however it is interesting to note that God’s Word does not account for every single, specific danger we will face in the world. I’m sure there are many reasons for this, but arguably one of the main reasons has to do with our hearts.

I’m sure we’d all agree that even good, godly things have the potential of robbing the throne of the new heart, the throne only Jesus deserves to sit upon.  So, it’s not necessarily just about following a list of do’s and don’ts. It’s more about diligently guarding our hearts daily. (Proverbs 4:23) It’s about putting on the full armor of God so we can daily stand against the wiles of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11-24) Mortify the old man, yes!  Make no provision to the flesh, yes! But we have the privilege and responsibility of putting on the new man by clothing ourselves everyday with Christ. “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” Romans 13:14.

Get to know the Good Shepherd’s voice by reading His Word often, praying fervently, knowing our righteousness is in Christ, and obeying our Heavenly Father willingly and wholeheartedly.  Then, and only then, will we be able to prevent our hearts from being robbed of the amazing beauty and joy found solely in Jesus Christ, our great and glorious Redeemer!

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth.” Job 19:25

Jesus said, “All that ever came before Me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” John 10:8-11

Open BibleIf there ever was an attribute which remains reprehensible regardless of its modern day adornment, it would be that of ungratefulness. There is something quite disheartening in watching someone receive a gift with a heart absent of real gratitude.  Although many areas of selfishness/self-centeredness, mostly due to marketing and manipulation, have successfully won over the hearts and minds of the culture, there is nothing that can cover up the egregious attitude of being unthankful. 

I cannot think of one book, TV, or movie character that has stood the test of time which has displayed such a self-centered heart, yet ungratefulness plagues us in real life perhaps now more than ever. This is much in part thanks to what many have deemed the self-esteem movement.

Over the last several decades the pro high self-esteem movement has literally plowed and paved its way into the very fiber of our postmodern thinking and behavior. But there are more than a few ironies facing the self-esteem philosophy and sadly, even more casualties. One such casualty standing at the forefront would arguably be that of genuine thankfulness.  

Certain characteristics in life have quite natural outcomes. When someone is spoon fed (from the high chair) the necessity of having a high/good self-worth, self-esteem, self-image, etc. we should not be surprised when that child grows up to be a very confused and disillusioned young adult.  Despite a high self-esteem being touted as the wonder drug of the 20th century, nothing could be further from the truth.  

Geneticists have worked tirelessly in recent decades, discovering how to modify today’s foods to appear bigger and brighter, but often other attributes are lost in the process.  A similar principle can be observed in people’s attitudes and actions. In a culture literally in love with itself, there are often other, much more nutritious characteristics that are deleted, due in part to our anxious efforts of self-exaltation. One of the nutrients often missing is that of genuine and lasting thankfulness.

Consider the child that is repeatedly told he is so special and so important that he deserves everything and that “having it his way” is just the way it should be.  This child feeds on books and tens of thousands of hours of TV shows and movies essentially telling him the very same thing. He’s given many fabulous and expensive gifts, only reinforcing the delusion. It doesn’t take long before his emboldened and enriched self-esteem is off the charts. This will undoubtedly lead to a reduction of other characteristics, namely thankfulness. After all, why be thankful, when you wholeheartedly believe you deserve the best and the most?  

But one might argue that even a selfish child is thankful for receiving a long desired present. True, however, this is a different sort of thankfulness altogether. It is a fleeting, fleshly thankfulness, not one born out of true, selfless gratitude. It is produced only temporarily, if, in a sense, as the soul’s way of expressing pleasure for getting what it already believes it deserved in the first place. (If you don’t believe this, watch what happens when people are kept from getting what they think they deserve. It really doesn’t matter the age. Often children are just not as good at masking their true feelings.) In fact, it won’t be long before even the extravagant gifts will not be enough to satisfy that child’s insatiable appetite of self-aggrandizement. Soon even the presents will bring nothing but ungratefulness, always believing he deserves more and better things.

Sadly, this pattern is a deceptive and tragic trap, one ultimately set by the enemy of our souls, and one many corporations and psychologists have been utilized to employ, having profited greatly. Breeding discontentment will naturally lead people to spend more in hopes of  satisfying their already discontented hearts and minds. Who better to benefit from this sort of philosophy than retail companies? Perhaps that is why so many of them are the leaders in self-centered advertising. Another business  benefiting would of course be psychotherapy. After all, who better to seek than a therapist  to “cure” the pain and emptiness that this sort of discontentment eventually produces? Sadly, much of today’s church is no different, seeking psychology and the next big sale to satisfy instead of the Word and indwelling Spirit of God. Is it any wonder we see so little vibrancy and victory in today’s Christianity?

Arguably there is a simple philosophy that our culture has bought into from birth.  It says that most, if not all people begin with a low self-esteem. Whether due to circumstances or something broken within, that low self-esteem must be overcome at all cost if we are ever to succeed as successful human beings. In order to do so we must enjoy a high self-esteem diet of flesh enhancing philosophies and practices.  Only then can we overcome our maladjusted beliefs and begin soaring like we were always meant to do. As tasty as this might sound, this is not how God designed us to live. We were not designed to raise ourselves up, but rather to lower ourselves down and instead raise God up.

Only in magnifying Jesus can we truly find genuine and eternal contentment and fulfillment. This is why God’s Word reminds us that godliness with contentment is great gain. “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life…” 1 Timothy 6:6-12a 

The actual name for a high self-esteem is pride and pride is really nothing less than self-love. It is the very heart of all that hates God, seeking to exalt itself above Him, stealing the Lord’s rightful place upon the throne of every human heart. Despite what most schools, commercials, “professionals”, retail companies, and story books tell us, it is not having a high self-esteem that will ultimately fulfill us. Nor will it ever produce real thankfulness and gratitude. Only when we sincerely and desperately cling to the Great and Glorious God will we find the truth and truly be thankful to the Lord. Only when we understand that it is because of our willful rebellion against God that we deserve nothing less than Hell, only then will we truly embrace God in His forgiveness and love found in Jesus Christ alone.

Only in humility will thanksgiving not only be produced, but also bring about an abundance of the Life of Christ in us and through us. If pride is the ultimate culprit, then humility can be the cure. Like the sun, Jesus burns away the prideful fog obscuring God’s greatness, helping us to finally humble ourselves, coming to grips with the very real and freeing fact that we are really nothing. We will finally realize it is the Lord, not us, Who deserves it all! We do not “deserve a break today” and we most certainly should not seek to “have it our way”. Instead may we humbly seek His perfect and plentiful way. May we wholeheartedly desire to see the Lord in His true beauty and splendor. Then we will begin to see our discontentment and ungratefulness burn away and finally begin to understand what it truly means to “abound in Christ with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:7).

Pulling Back the Curtain

imageSin is so terribly destructive, so utterly diabolical! Sin is so horrific that it’s true power and perversity are arguably unfathomable by the human mind. How much more so for the father of lies, the father of sin!?

We dip and dabble at it as if certain sins are permissible. We tolerate sin in our lives and sometimes even encourage it as if it’s as harmless as a squeaky screen door. Perhaps our reluctance to resist the devil (in the Lord’s strength of course) has something to do with our own perspective of sin and the father of it.

What if you discovered you were born into a family that had been hunted and killed for years? What if you also discovered that there was one person behind it all, a person only known as the prowler? You are forced to grow up on the run and after a decade of fear, the unthinkable happens. Your parents, your brothers, and sisters are all trapped and killed. Some how you are able to get away, only to go on the run again.

Another decade goes by, and you finally think you’re safe so you decide to settle down. Not too long after you move into your first place, a package arrives in the mail. Wrapped in beautiful, shiny paper, this intriguing gift causes you to let down your guard. There’s a small card attached. Your curiosity gets the best of you. You open the card. The message reads, “Dear Boy, I hope you accept my gift. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. Your Friend, The Prowler.”

Would you open the gift? If not, then why? Why not open a present offered by the one responsible for hunting and destroying so many?

Of course, it’s not always so black and white with Satan, the enemy of our souls. Or is it? Perhaps it is that clear, but because of our deep personal devotion to the flesh, we often allow the issues to become muddied so we really don’t have to think too much about them.

Maybe if we’d ask the Lord to seriously pull back the curtain on sin, Satan, and our own selfish hearts, we’d begin understanding the deep destructiveness of the worldly nets we’ve wrapped ourselves in. Perhaps if we’d sincerely ask the Lord to give us eyes to see the sinfulness of sin and the beauty of Himself, we’d choose to leave this world’s temporary temptations alone, instead clinging wholeheartedly to the only gift that truly and eternally matters, Jesus Christ!

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“But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, has abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. That as sin has reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:15-18, 21

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Whether in a novel, a crime show, or while at work, we have all heard this phrase borrowed by the world time and time again. However, as they understandably do so often, those who  use it strip the phrase from of its actual and powerful meaning. Sadly, many in the church have heard it said so often, they too have perhaps forgotten what Jesus is really teaching His disciples.

Early on in my Christian walk, John 8:31-32 were two verses that had a tremendous and even life changing impact on me. “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If you continue in My Word, then are you My disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32. It occurred to me that Christianity, although filled with an amazing testimony regarding the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ wasn’t simply a story that changed my life. It wasn’t one religion among many which just happened to be the one that worked for me. No, Christianity was and is and always will be built upon the bedrock of the truth.

So often people get saved and are then brought into a local church body. They are quickly put to work, staying busy with activity after activity. Soon Christianity is solely defined by the activities and friendships and the Word is marginalized in place of the work. Although there is an important place for the work, unless the Word of God is put first, the work we are doing might very well end up being the work of men, not the Lord.

Once a born again believer realizes, truly realizes that Christianity isn’t merely about a changed life or the work one does; once the Christian really begins to see that Jesus is the one and only way to the Father of Life because He is the truth, then that believer has finally begun standing upon the solid ground.

Undeniably, our firm foundation is Jesus, yet as He reveals in John 8:31-32, our faith becomes solid when it is exercised with the understanding that God’s Word is uniquely and unequivocally true. We need not run to the popular preacher nor to the pop-psychologist, but to the Word of God to know the truth. There is no college, no institution, no religion on the planet that can offer what the Bible can.

Jesus didn’t say that facts will set men free. He said the truth found in God’s Word alone would bring real and eternal freedom to the souls of men. Christianity is one hundred percent based on the truth and nothing but the truth, period.

Unfortunately we tend to wander from the Word, leaning instead upon the words of men. The natural man loves the “all natural” flavors produced and peddled by other men. Yet, there are those who long for something more, something better. There are those who, perhaps for years, have done the “church” thing, yet now realize men and their activities can never truly satisfy. Only the truth will do!

In these two amazing verses, Jesus tells us many things. First, He declares that He is God. He does not say, “If you remain in God’s Word.” He says, “If you remain in My Word.” He is saying the Word spoken to the faithful followers of the LORD from the beginning of time has always been His Word. Jesus truly is God.

He also teaches us that His Word is not simply true, but that it is sufficiently so. Jesus does not say, “If you stay in My Word, you will know part of the truth.” We are promised to know ALL of the truth pertaining to everlasting freedom. God’s Word is truly sufficient. One of Satan’s greatest strategies among believers is not to deny the truth of God’s Word, but instead to deny its sole sufficiency. Once people buy into this horrific lie, they will then be willing to drink from all sorts of muddied streams, all in hopes of discovering some drop of pure water.

As strange as this sounds, this one strategy has literally and repeatedly crippled the body of Christ from walking in the true power and victory God has intended for her. May we not be ensnared any longer!

True freedom comes exclusively from God’s Word. Despite their many claims, absolutely nothing this world offers can produce eternal freedom, nothing. Neither psychology nor religion, neither education nor entertainment will do. The ways of man will always fall short of eternity and often lead to temporal destruction as well.

Those reading these two verses should also inquire about the freedom offered by Jesus. Freedom yes, but freedom from what? Jesus is not providing freedom to go live our own lives independent of divine authority. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Simply put, God’s Word promises to sufficiently bring freedom from sin, from self, and from the power of our first father, Satan.

God’s promise also ensures freedom to finally love and serve the One we were made to worship; the Living and True God, the Creator and Savior of the world. This is the freedom found exclusively in the Word of God, the Word not based on the sinking sands of man’s opinions or Satan’s devices, but rather the Word which is the truth and nothing but the truth.

On this Lord’s day, may we praise and thank Him for His wonderful reminder to stop feeding the flesh. May we cease from fearing and following the words and ways of men. Instead let us wholeheartedly love the truth of God revealed to us by His Holy Spirit as we remain in the glorious, eternal, and sufficient Word of Truth!

“And we know that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20

A Celebration for Fun?

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What if a church decided to start a new celebration, one that they could teach to the lost? What if, for some unknown reason, they chose to have it take place on a very important pagan date, a day those worshipping creation (rather than the Creator) especially cherish?

The event would have children dress up in costumes magnifying man and all his vain imagination could fathom. Some could even choose to dress like wizards and witches, skeletons, zombies, and ghosts.

Once the date and costumes were decided, the church would then start sharing the new tradition with their neighbors, reaching out to the lost. To keep everyone coming year after year, they decided they’d need an incentive, so a decision was made to give out lots of candy to all the children who participate.

After the first few years, the adults might decide they too want to join in the festivities, so there is another committee formed to plan what to do for them. They decide to encourage the grown ups to  decorate their houses inside and out, but they too are asked to put up things reminiscent of darkness and death.

There could also be greeting cards and adult costumes, all to help everyone learn about and remember the church’s new celebration. Plus, the more people participating, the less likely individuals will be to stop joining in.

Just as the planning is almost done, someone in the back of the room stands up to ask a question. “What if some question the timing of our event and choice to represent so much darkness, especially since our call is to shine the Light of Jesus,” he asks. Everyone turns back again to the front to hear from the committee members sitting at the head tables.

After a brief pause, one of the members smiles. “We’ll simply explain to everyone in the church that we’re doing it all in the name of fun,” he suggests. “Then, just in case our neighbors wonder, we’ll tell them we really don’t believe any of the things we’re doing. We’ll say we’re just playing make believe. That should suffice.” Everyone nodded in agreement and then finalized their plans for the church’s newest and most fun celebration yet.

“Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion has light with darkness? And what concord has Christ with Belial? or what part has he that believes with an infidel? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
2 Corinthians 6:14-16

Bible Light Bulb ImageThere are many questions and even more supposed answers about eternity. Lots of people have said there are many ways to get to Heaven.  After all, don’t all spiritual roads lead to the same place? Does it really matter what religion we follow?  If we’re simply sincere, devoted, and passionate about whatever we believe, won’t it all work out in the end?  Can’t my good works outweigh the bad things I’ve done in the past?  How can we really know for sure?

What’s the Answer?

Maybe you’re wondering some of the same things.     If not, you should be. After all, eternity is a lot longer than the few short years we’ll spend on this planet.  Asking good questions is important, but finding the right answers is even more crucial! If you’re lost and stop to ask someone for directions, it really does matter whether the directions he/she gives you are right or wrong. So in hopes of preventing anyone from getting even more lost, let’s examine several of today’s most popular myths.

We’ll examine seven basic misunderstandings/ myths in pursuit of discovering the true answer to how we can know for sure we are going to Heaven.

MYTH 1: The majority must be right. Just because people have answers doesn’t mean those answers are true, even if a majority agrees. A survey of 35,000 American adults shows that 70 percent believe there are many paths to God, but just because a majority believes the same thing doesn’t necessarily make it true.  Consider Hitler’s Nazi Germany. Just because many were in agreement with Hitler doesn’t make what he believed and did correct. Following the majority isn’t the answer!

MYTH 2- Sincerity is what matters.  Just because someone is sincere in a belief doesn’t make it right.

  • Does it matterif a sincere pharmacist puts the wrong pills in a bottle?
  • Does it matterif a surgeon sincerely believed he removed a kidney when in fact he removed the liver?
  • Does it matterif a woman ate a poisonous mushroom, even though she sincerely thought it would be good for her?

It is possible to be very sincere, but be sincerely wrong. The critical question is not whether someone is sincere, rather what is the truth?  Sincerity is not the answer.

MYTH 3: Pretty good is good enough. One of the greatest lies ever believed is that human beings can be good enough to get to Heaven!  I’ve heard this so many times and at one point even believed it myself.  I’ve even had professing atheists tell me if there is a ‘God’, then when they die they’ll be okay because they’ve been pretty good. Here’s the thing, being pretty good isn’t the real issue. God’s standard isn’t pretty good, it’s perfection. After all, God isn’t simply pretty good. He’s perfect.

Being pretty good isn’t the answer.

MYTH 4: Religion is good enough.  At some level, all religions say we must do good works in order to be right. Biblical Christianity is totally unique.  In religion, man has to reach up to God by his good works. In Christianity, God reached down with the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. He was crucified for the sins of the world. If religion, rituals, and traditions worked, Jesus would’ve never had to come and die.  Religion is not the answer!

MYTH 5: My future good deeds will make up for my past bad deeds. Here’s the problem. Let’s say you get a speeding ticket for driving 55 in a15 mph school zone, then stand before the judge and tell him you’ll never speed again. Will that make up for the crime you’ve already committed?  No. What if you tell the judge you’ve driven through that area many times before, always following the law? Will that make up for your crime?  No. We don’t get extra credit for following the law. The law requires that we follow it completely. That’s the whole point. Following the law tomorrow will never make up for the fact that we broke it today.  Simply said, the price has to be paid!  Future good deeds are not the answer.

Myth 6: I’m a good person.  We all tend to compare ourselves with one another; forgetting people are not the standard.  We did not make this universe, and we did not make the moral laws any more than the physical laws of this universe. God is the Creator, and He is the standard, not us. All one has to do is look at God’s law, which can be boiled down to the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20)  to see if we really are good people, if we measure up to the holiness of God.  Here are a few of God’s moral laws:

  • “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”  Telling the truth is the backbone of any society and the Bible. Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man, that He should lie…” God is truth.  Have you ever told a lie; even a “little” one?
  • “You shall not steal.” Have you ever taken something that is not yours?
  • “You shall not commit adultery.”  Jesus took this commandment to a deeper level when He said, “If you have even looked upon someone with lust, it means you have already committed adultery in your heart with that person.” Matthew 5:27-28. Have you ever looked at someone with lust?

Now things get a little more interesting.  James 2:10 says, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”

So if we’ve even broken one of God’s commandments, we’ve broken them all.

 I ask you again, “Have you broken any of the Ten Commandments?” If you’re honest, you’ll have to say yes. Since we’ve all broken God’s law, it’s clear no one is really a good person.

Here’s the truth:  The reason sincerity, religion, and good works just don’t cut it is because they all originate from men and according to God, we’ve all willfully sinned. That is to say, we’ve all come short of God’s standard of perfection. Period!  We’re not the solution, frankly we’re the problem.

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

God knows we’ve sinned.  We know we need His forgiveness. “For I will declare my iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.” Psalm 38:18  

The shedding of an animal’s blood reminded the Israelites that death was a result of man’s choice to rebel against his Creator. It was also a clue of God’s faithfulness to one day send One who would pay the ultimate price by dying for all of humanity, One who would not only die, but take the spiritual and eternal punishment we deserve so our penalty against God would be fully paid. A male lamb without spot was used in the Old Testament for a yearly sacrifice to God. This was a clue that One would come, not as a spotless lamb, but as a sinless man and God to die for the sins of the world.

“The next day John saw Jesus coming unto him, and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29  

Jesus is the Lamb of God that the Old Testament pointed to, the One that would be the final, complete, and eternal sacrifice to God the Father by dying on the cross for our sins. God the Father literally poured out the anger and wrath we deserve upon His Son!

“He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Are you ready to repent (turn) and put your    belief in Jesus and His finished work on the cross for you?

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for your sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures…” 1 Corinthians 15:3-6  

Myth 7: Christianity is just too narrow-minded.  With so many religions around the world, this might seem reasonable. Jesus claimed to be the only way to Heaven, yet many believe this is too narrow-minded. But is this bad? When I walk through the front door, does it ever bother me that there’s only one door? When I enter a gas station or a store, do I ever stop to complain when there’s only one door?  No. One door doesn’t mean anything other than there’s only one way in.  One way, in reality, makes it simple. There’s one way, making it very easy to identify both the true and the false doors.  Yes, one way to Heaven is narrow, but narrow doesn’t mean it’s bad. The God of the Bible says He’s one God (Deut. 6:4), so why not only have one way? God doesn’t want us to follow a lie. All may enter, but we must enter His way, not our own. Being too narrow just isn’t an excuse. Believing there are many ways to Heaven isn’t the answer.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  Matthew 7:13-14

 THE TRUE and ETERNAL ANSWER

The answer of eternity is found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ!  You have two choices. Sadly, most choose the wide road to exit planet Earth. The other way is the narrow road which is covered with the blood of Jesus Christ.

WHICH ONE WILL YOU CHOOSE?

“If you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.  For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the Scripture says, “Whosoever believes on [Jesus] shall not be ashamed.”  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Romans 10:9-13  

“For [God] says, “I have heard you in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I helped you: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”  2 Corinthians 6:2  

There is only one way to get to Heaven. The true path is through Jesus Christ and Him alone. You must make this decision before you die. There’s no second chance after death.

Repent and believe on Him for the forgiveness of your sins before it’s too late.

(Originally produced and distributed by Once Lost Ministries)

Entertainment-ChristianityWhen considering wolves in sheep’s clothing, we might envision some slick-haired salesman lugging his box of snake oil from house to house. Yet too often nothing could be further from the truth.  There are many warnings from Scripture admonishing the saints to pay careful attention as we traverse through this planet’s deadly terrain. We are instructed not to believe every spirit, but to test the spirits (Jeremiah 29:9; Matthew 7:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1) indicating that the enemy of our souls is very good at keeping up appearances.  Sometimes it’s not only difficult to detect a false teaching or teacher, but often it’s even more difficult to come to grips with the notion that an inspiring, talented, enthusiastic young adult might actually be used as a mouthpiece of Satan.

Granted, we should use godly wisdom in discerning whether a person leading others in the enemy’s lies is simply misguided or really out to deceive and destroy. The times in which we live are most definitely filled with muddied waters. God’s Word clearly indicates there are a growing number that are not only deceiving, but also being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:13)  There are those who actually believe they are doing God’s business (John 16:2) when, in fact, it is the god of this world they are serving. This brief article will not deal too much with the latter, but instead will hopefully serve as a warning and an encouragement in examining one very defined avenue of lies presented by one specific person.

Let it also be said that in today’s lukewarm Christian climate, there is a powerful embrace and strong misunderstanding regarding the “live and let live” philosophy pervading every facet of our earthly existence. Instead of being the new and improved super highway it’s cracked up to be, this broad road of tolerance is in actuality paved with the blood of the saints.  Over the years, many have given their lives for the Gospel’s sake and yet today, there are whole segments of professing Christianity unwilling to take a stand on the exclusivity of eternal life found in Jesus Christ. They are however all too ready and willing to embrace a vast array of wickedness and deceptive darkness in order to display their friendship with the world; all in the name of tolerance (and enlightenment).

Jesus, however, had a much different proclamation regarding the fellowship of darkness and light.  His prayer to the Father was that we would be in the world, but not of it. John 17:15. We’re also reminded that “friendship with the world is enmity (hatred) toward God.” James 4:4. How can there be true fellowship between light and darkness? Yes, we should be friendly, but never friends with this world and it’s dark philosophies and practices. How can light embrace the darkness and still call itself light?

It was stated above that it’s sometimes most difficult to come to grips with the fact that certain personalities might actually be leading others in a false direction.  Any good salesman knows that one of his most powerful tools is his own personality.  Not to say there’s anything necessarily wrong with working on having a pleasant personality, but we all know there are certain dispositions in which people tend to gravitate.  Someone peddling falsehood with an unlikable attitude might be easily dismissed, even exposed.  But someone who comes across genuine, someone energetic and interesting to listen to, perhaps even musically or artistically talented might be much more difficult to detect and even harder to speak out against.

Society has always been a lover and worshipper of man’s wisdom, strength, and wealth. Unfortunately, much of today’s Christianity is not much different.  We prop up certain actors, pastors, and speakers on billboards, Christian magazine covers, TV segments, and in bookstores. They are looked up to as our heroes and heroines, giving them the seats of honor within our hearts and minds, forgetting it is God alone that deserves all the glory, honor, and praise.  Some of these people are given full and free access to the pulpit, allowing the sheep to be fleeced and fed worldly manna over and over, causing them to grow anemic and impotent against this world and its destructive methods. Instead of reminding the sheep of the hope we have in Heaven, too often these false teachings encourage listeners to grow their roots deep into this planet, letting go of their heavenly hopes. Of course this is not true of all those on the “stage” today, but one thing is for sure, Christians are not immune from the power of personalities.

As saints, we are set apart for the service of our King, not those who set themselves up as earthly authorities.  Sadly, too many churches have started much in part because of one person’s magnetic personality.  As believers, we are not to sit idly by in our labor of love unto the Lord, nor are we to sit in silence, quietly giving approval to falsehood proclaimed to the masses.  Are we not called by God to expose the works of darkness?  Ephesians 5:11. Are we not called to reprove, correct, and exhort with all longsuffering?  2 Timothy 4:2  This world is daily peddling its false doctrines to the church and we too often just politely smile. Over time the church has become an unwitting participant in receiving and assisting in the circulation of their snake oil.  May we diligently ask the Lord to remove our dull hearing and blind eyes and instead give us careful, discerning hearts and minds to detect those things that are sometimes difficult to see and hear.  May we ask the Lord to give us a love for the truth, a love for Jesus Christ!  May we desire to earnestly feast on His Word, spiritually fasting from this world!

The world lines up to have its flesh entertained, loving pleasure more that God, and sadly God’s people too often love to have it so.  Church meetings have not remained a time for the saints to gather and proclaim the glory of God, but rather a place we go once a week to be entertained.  We might as well sell soda and popcorn at the doorways.  We go to our movie theaters and concerts on Friday nights and then expect the same show on Sunday mornings.

Above were mentioned some of the positions lifted up in today’s Christian world, but one was intentionally omitted. It is arguably one of the most powerful positions in the Christian world today.  It is the title of “Worship Leader”. This person, perhaps even more than the pastor, has the power to “prime” and direct the audience week after week.  This article is not meant to address the many facets of worship, however suffice it to say that music is an extremely powerful tool, one that can easily access the soul, often bypassing logic and reason.  Perhaps more than any other medium, music is the vehicle most often chosen to drive an audience in a particular direction.  If you disagree, try watching any cinematic masterpiece with the sound off.  You cannot go to just about any retail restaurant or popular clothing store without being bombarded with music.  And not only is it a powerful main character in the world of entertainment and marketing, but it’s also a tremendous tool in promoting false doctrine and seductive spiritual counterfeits around the world.

Some musicians propped up and circulated by today’s “Christian” platforms and pulpits are at best novices in the faith, puffed up through the adoration and accolades of men, while others are truly false teachers masquerading as angels of light.  Sadly, due to their talent and strong stage presence countless thousands within the body of Christ have found themselves distracted and directed by the darkness derived from the spirit of this world.  What is perhaps most troubling is the readiness by which so many musicians and worship leaders are received and promoted regardless of their lifestyles, doctrines, and associations.  Mature pastors and elders within the body should know better, however too often they are the ones promoting and even hosting concerts and conferences that help sow the seeds of this world’s teachings of tolerance, fleshly faith, and false unity.

It’s bad enough to be peddling snake oil, selling some worthless, yet benign elixir to the masses.  How much worse to be packaging and promoting a product that not only doesn’t work, but in all actuality is poisonous to all who partake?  The remainder of this article will examine one such peddler, yet it is not the intent here to examine his motives but rather the facts at hand.  As with any persuasive and positive personality, it will perhaps become easy for readers to misunderstand the intent behind the remainder of the article.  There is no desire to malign on a personal level nor is there any desire to disparage this musician’s character or perceived intent; however there is clearly a destructive message being sold to the masses, often to the most vulnerable, the youth within the visible church at large.  The person in question is musician and evangelist, Matt Maher.

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Matt has been propped up and promoted around the world as a Christian singer and songwriter and is currently touring cross country with the several well known groups in “The Rock and Worship Road Tour”.  Matt hasmattmaher both written songs for himself, as well as for several within the Christian community.  Perhaps one of his most recognizable songs is “Your Grace is Enough” which was released a few years ago and quickly accepted within Christians circles around the world.

Matt has written songs for well-recognized Christian musicians such as Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin (i.e. I Will Rise), Philips, Craig, and Dean, and Bethany Dillon. Regardless of their mixed doctrinal beliefs, especially concerning eschatology (end times); all of these artists are some of the most instrumental in producing today’s worship music. They are embraced by churches around the world.  Needless to say, they have many avenues already paved, readily accessing the hearts and minds of listeners across the globe.  How easy it is for a false teaching or teacher to hop aboard, sharing lies that will lead listeners astray?

Although Matt Mahar is a talented musician with a warm and humble persona, although he is warmly embraced and promote by the well known performers such as Chris Tomlin and Third Day’s Mac Powell, he is far from a follower of the true Jesus Christ.  But please don’t take this writer’s opinion for it.  Here are just a few facts from recent years.

First consider Matt’s own words. He admittedly considers himself much more than just a talented worship leader. He sees himself as a music missionary. He was recently quoted to say, “It’s funny but more and more I see myself as an apologist and as an evangelist.  Songs are my tool.” From the same article, Matt was quoted to say, “I would love for them to not be thinking about me but to be thinking about God.  My hope is that they would have an encounter with God.  I hope it isn’t about the person writing and singing the song.  My hope is that the music would just whisk them away to a holy place.  That is my heart more than anything.” (Full interview link below)

On the surface that might sound biblical, but is he really referring to the Christian God? It is important to examine what else He has said and done.  Matt has not only given interviews for magazines and websites, but he’s also done many performances for a variety of venues. He has played and spoken at many Roman Catholic events including such prestigious gatherings as the World Youth Day.  Readers may or may not know that Matt has never claimed to be a Bible believing, born again Christian. He is Roman Catholic, through and through.

He does not try to, in any way, shape, or form, hide his love for the Roman Catholic church and its many false doctrines.  In one of his popular Roman Catholic songs entitled “The End and The Beginning”, he wrote, “If everything that the Roman Catholic Church taught were true what difference would it make in our lives? We believe that in every single Mass, through the power of the Holy Spirit, that the bread and the wine are transformed into the Flesh and the Blood of Jesus. Transubstantiation – Heaven kisses earth. We become a living tabernacle. So wisdom, be attentive. Steady my shaken mind. Let this be my reality. More than just bread and wine…”  This alone should be enough to convince anyone that Matt is at best a professing Christian. In reality, he is a devoted practicing Roman Catholic.

Even though this article is not meant to focus on the false gospel of Rome, it is important to at least point out the glaring difference between the true Gospel of Jesus and the false gospel of Rome. According to Rome’s official doctrines, anyone who believes he is saved by grace alone through faith alone is accursed, that is damned to hell.  (Council of Trent, Canon 12- “If any one shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified . . . let him be accursed.”) In order for someone to enter Rome’s heaven, he must not, as the Bible teaches, simply place his faith in the full, free, and finished work of Jesus. (Romans 3:20-28). Instead he is taught that sin is removed little by little, week after week through a series of rituals such as partaking of the Eucharist, reciting rote prayers, etc. Below are several You Tube links of Matt Mahar and his connections to Roman Catholicism, along with a couple other links as well.

Sadly, Matt has been warmly embraced by all variety of well-known Christian artists such as Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Mac Powell, and Philips, Craig, and Dean. Currently Matt is touring with several artists in “The Rock and Worship Road Show”, singing, speaking, and ministering to literally hundreds of thousands across the country. Some of the other artists on the tour include David Crowder, Jamie Grace, and Mercy Me. (Incidentally, the “Road Show” will be performing in Phoenix on March 22nd.)  Matt also recently made a guest appearance for Third Day’s concert at the Beacon Theater in New York City on March 3rd.

There are those in the Christian music world, such as Dan Haseltine from Jars of Clay, that don’t want to be held accountable for doctrinal errors they share, believing musicians should not be looked up to as teachers. This is dangerous enough. How much worse when an unbeliever dressed in wooly clothes sincerely sees himself as an evangelist and his music simply as his tool?  The question must be lovingly asked, of what does Matt considers himself an evangelist?  He clearly understands and supports Roman Catholicism. He clearly believes in the unbiblical idea that Eucharist has the power to cleanse partakers of their sins.  He most definitely embraces and encourages the practice of Rome’s false gospel to millions of youth and adults alike.  He has made no effort to hide any of this and yet, thanks to assistance of the Christian music world, his message and evangelistic crusade now have full access to the hearts and minds of tens of thousands within the true body of Christ.  How tragic!  Which is worse, the person openly promoting his false gospel or those claiming to know the true Gospel who hand him the keys to the front door?

So what are we to do? As far as I can see, there are three choices.  First, we could embrace Roman Catholicism and all of its false religious teachings, supporting it and saying nothing to all those who are being led astray.  Or we could choose to agree that Rome’s gospel is false, but still support the songs of artists such as Matt Mahar because they at least sound “Christian”.  The challenges in this article to identify the dangers of personality probably most apply to those who lean toward this second option.  Too often those who privately understand the falsehood of Rome’s gospel, will still support and even promote artists such as Matt Mahar because their music sounds so “Christian” and they seem so religious and sincere.

May we never forget when Rome speaks of God’s grace it has a completely unbiblical definition for it.  When Matt sings “Your grace is enough”, the Roman Catholic will inject his own traditional definition for grace, not the biblical one.  Rome teaches grace, but in order to enjoy and apply God’s grace, one MUST go to the Roman Catholic church time after time, partaking of its rituals and religious traditions such as the Eucharist.  Unfortunately, we too often make the mistake of assuming others have the same definitions as us. It is always important we listen carefully to what people are actually saying in order to discern truth from error, weighing everything against God’s Word.

Our third choice is one that many may find most difficult.  In Ephesians 5, Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit reminds us, “For you were sometimes darkness, but now are you light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Ephesians 5:8-11.  Not only are we instructed not to participate in those activities that promote false doctrines, we are also to lovingly, yet truthfully expose them.  This is the avenue that will often cause the most controversy. Darkness does not enjoy the light, nor do lies embrace the complete truth.  Of course, it goes without says that we are to always speak the truth in love, with the Lord’s peace and joy in our hearts, knowing it is His Word, not ours, that effectually works in the hearts and minds of broken and contrite men.

May this article both serve to instruct and encourage true saints to continue fighting the good fight of faith, never growing weary in doing well.  Remember, it is the Lord who goes before and behind. May we never lose sight of Him, having the sole intention of pointing everyone to Jesus Christ, and Him alone.  That might mean exposing and correcting from time to time. That might mean naming names once and a while. It might mean not going along with the popular Christian crowd, but in the end what could be greater than knowing we have chosen to make Jesus our one and only treasure now and forever?

“Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God…For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” 2 Corinthians 4:1-7 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in Heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see Him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:3-9

Matt Mahar Interview Article:  http://www.religionnews.com/2013/05/17/catholic-rocker-matt-maher-finds-cross-over-appeal-among-evangelicals/

More on Roman Catholicism: http://www.once-lost.com/ggapologetics/catholicism

More on Worship: https://unityinthetruth.com/2010/10/03/as-we-worship/

You Tube Videos: Matt Mahar, Roman Catholicism, and the New Evangelicalism

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eX5BeXkNZU LI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3rjEmPxcLI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ky0g_9dyhbU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIgGHA27nG4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYR_sZRv_c4

A Palette of Pageantry

Church EventWhy do we get so excited about the outward business and activity of the visible church yet often have so little thought or joy concerning the Lord’s eternal work within the inner man?

In the unseen heart and mind the Lord continues transforming and renewing the broken and weak into His victorious and sanctified saints. He mysteriously and gloriously plants His Eternal Word into all who are willing, breathes His breath within, and by His power, the Seed grows and grows, producing eternal fruit to both nourish that very person and those hungry and weary travelers he meets along the way.

Much of this amazing work takes place in the unseen realm, only becoming visible over periods of time. This is the godly life made known in and through true believers! This is what Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, called the mystery of godliness, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27

This is truly the marvelous work of the invisible God, yet instead of joyfully walking by faith, we too often choose to walk by sight; becoming enamored with the outward accouterments and pomp now calling itself the (post)modern church.

Sadly, many have traded the desire to marvel and rejoice over the inward work of the Holy Spirit for a palette filled with the pleasantries of outward pageantry. Instead, let us return to the old paths. Let us truly taste and see that the Lord is good! (Jeremiah 6:16; Psalm 34:8)Bible Light Bulb Image

“Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently: being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides forever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower thereof falls away: but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” 1 Peter 1:22-25

Gungor_I Am Mountain“I recently had the best meal of my life, an eight-course Japanese/sushi thing…and just the balance of the plates they’d bring and how they handled each of the flavors after the next to build to something, it was amazing.”

“That’s how I wanted to approach this record. To have a palate cleanser when its needed, something easy to go down, a breath for a second when things get too dark or heavy.” ~Michael Gungor, I Am Mountain, Bio (http://gungormusic.com/bio/)

Michael Gungor has definitely made some waves over the last year regarding his allegorical view of certain sections of Scripture. Although this is clearly a dangerous deception in need of correction, I can’t help but wonder why so little was said four years ago when he posted a three part reflection on his spiritual journey into all things contemplative.

One thing that’s fair to say is that Michael is not a hypocrite, at least on this. Unlike so many others involved in today’s “Christian” ministry scenes, he sure isn’t trying to appear biblically conservative, while secretly exploring mystical “Christianity”. His thoughts even four years ago were posted right on his website for all to read. Yet many churches, including what we might consider solid, line by line and verse by verse churches, either through ignorance or self-denial continued opening their doors to him month after month and year after year.

The few who said anything during that time were typically marginalized or worse, vilified, or simply ignored. After all, those choosing to speak up are often told not to say anything ‘negatively’ against what some so-called leaders label “moves of the Spirit”. A proper teacher of God’s Word, however, will never use this shabby excuse as a cloak to hide behind. No one is above being lovingly and truthfully corrected regardless of his/her popularity, personality, or charismatic presence.

The way to keep the unity of the Spirit is not found in turning a blind eye, but rather in exposing the darkness that is frankly running rampant in this modern or rather post-modern church era. We are reminded in Ephesians 5:11, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove [expose] them.” Nowhere in Scripture are we told to be tolerant of evil actions or evil doctrines. Contrary to the spirit of this age, tolerance does not pave the road to biblical unity, but instead is the bridge to the wide road leading many to destruction. Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit reminds us, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned; and avoid them.” Romans 16:11 [Emphasis mine]

LightInDarknessLight will never divide the light. Truth will never divide the truth. In reality, division is caused when darkness and deception are embraced and promoted by the saints, allowing devilish doctrines to be injected into the body of Christ infecting many and causing many to become unsuspecting carriers. They have then become transporters, whether knowingly or unknowingly, to a wide variety of deadly strains of false doctrine.

In the world, of course, it’s just the opposite. The world is already full of darkness and deception, so the light of God’s Word will definitely divide as the Lord shines into the darkness. “And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” John 1:5  

May we always be wide awake and alert in the times in which we live. May we never slumber or sleep, knowing the Morning Star is soon returning. “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts…” 1 Peter 1:19

“You are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” 1 Thessalonians 5:5-8.

As the saying goes, it’s darkest just before the dawn. We might believe reaching this world and sadly much of the professing church is a futile attempt, however, nothing could be further from the truth. With God all things are possible. We are not seeking a revival or reformation, but rather the salvation of the Lord. We look up for our hope and look around to fields for our labor.  We choose to take His yoke upon us as we faithfully and joyfully serve Jesus, letting His true light work in and through us, knowing with confidence that He who is in us is greater than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

May Jesus’ words truly encourage us! “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

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Here are a couple excerpts from a Lighthouse Trails article posted back in 2011:

Michael Gungor [gives] detailed information on how to practice contemplative meditation in a three part article.

He explains to his readers that he went on a “spiritual pilgrimage” in September 2010…”The first week was a week of silence and meditation at a spiritual retreat that I found by googling ‘best spiritual retreats in the world.'” He said that he went on this pilgrimage because he was “on the brink” and “didn’t really know what [he] believed in.” Gungor began his journey with a trip to the Vatican where he heard the Pope speak: “Not a bad way to start out my spiritual journey. Made me want to be Catholic actually.” After this, Gungor caught a flight to Assisi and on the flight he “listened to a couple Rob Bell sermons on [his] iPod.” Gungor explains that the retreat was “a cross religious retreat, so they had statues of Mary in the room next to a Buddha next to a Hindu something or other.”

In part 2 Gungor [does] what most emerging figures do – he de-emphasizes beliefs and doctrine, calling evangelism a “pyramid scheme” and says in many ways he agrees with the “new atheists.” He says he doesn’t  “believe in the old guy in the sky,” talking about God, adding: To me, God is the basic Reality of the universe. God is what is. That’s how Moses wrote that God introduced Himself, isn’t it? “I am that I am.” God is. Whatever is, that is God.

http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=6717

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