Darkness of Not Following God

This coming Lord’s Day at Eastside Baptist I will be preaching from Isaiah 8:16-22

“…they have no light of dawn. Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.”

Here in this section of the book Isaiah addresses two major matters.

  1. Isaiah will show he is satisfied to live committed to God,
    and
  2. Isaiah warns of those who will trust in others will live in darkness.

God’s word is either a lamp to your feet, illuminating the path or darkness falls upon those who curse Him.

Gather with me on this coming Lord’s Day, if He allows, and let’s look unto Christ as our only real hope.

 

Ecumenical Universalism is not the same as Religious Freedom

Full disclosure: I was not personally present at the event I’m writing an opinion about…

What took place on Saturday morning in Twin Falls appeared to have been more of an ecumenical attempt of universalism that amalgamated pieces of many beliefs into essentially a castrated god of nothingness.

To speak up for religious freedom does not mean we put our gods aside and pretend we are worshipping the same god. When that happens you are not at a religious freedom rally, you are at an ecumenical worship service where every god but the God of the Bible is worshipped.

Religious honesty is needed today.

We can sit down at the table and dialog of our differences without compromising our convictions and setting truth outside the door.

Where I am an advocate of religious freedom for all, I in no way support or participate in universalism disguised as religious freedom.

As a pastor of a biblical ordered church, I do not support any event that is not intellectually honest or biblically true as a valid voice for true religious leaders.

I will be brief in my response to what was called a religious freedom rally at the Twin Falls City Park on Saturday, December 2, 2017.

Granted, again, I was not present…

Prayer cannot be mutually given to whatever god you want to say you are praying to. For example: if a Muslim man is praying to his god, Allah, the Mormon man cannot at the same time say amen or agree with his neighbor on whose God is being prayed to. If a Christian man is praying in the name of Jesus, the Mormon and Muslim must inquire if he means the Jesus of their books.

If a religious freedom rally is what you want with people of differing religions and you begin with prayer you have at that moment acted against your conscience by putting your religious freedom upon the alter of universalism. You have ceased being who you say you are and stopped believing what you profess to believe.

I’ll stand for religious freedom all day long. But I will not put my conscience aside to pray with someone to their god in hopes that my God will understand. In a day where religious integrity is needed most, religious leaders should be articulating with greater clarity.

This pastor preaches a Triune Godhead. No honest Muslim would ever join me in a prayer to this God. No honest Mormon would submit himself the the authority of this God. To do so, both would be required to repent of their worship of their current gods, unless they are secretly ecumenical universalist, like many other false professors calling themselves Christians.

Religious freedom is not what is celebrated at an ecumenical, amalgamated gathering, of confused religious leaders.

I suport religious freedom. I denounouce any other kind of false representations of misleading wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Where is the Nation’s Morality

The current spiraling of sexual immoral behavior of politicians, news reporters, and Hollywood producers is tragically really nothing new. But it is ruling the news most days.

A nation troubled by the sexual misconduct of irresponsible men and women are at the same time complicit by the promotion of a hyper sexualized nation.

If we, as a nation, are going to be honest in our conversation about what’s going on (really, about what’s been going on) then we are going to have to not only talk about Hollywood and politicians, we are going to have to talk about the public school campus, we are going to have to talk about the half time show at the Christian school basketball game, we are going to have to talk about what our home-schooled children are doing on the internet, we are going to need to talk about morality.

Hollywood has been pushing the envelope since the industry began. It set standards because it knew there were limitations. Then the government began to set standards because even the government knew there needed to be limitations and standards that a moral nation needs to have in order to have a decent behaving population.

This is complicated and yet quite simple. The institution ordained by God to be a moral compass in any nation is not the movie industry or a self appointed wise man, who eventually will show himself to be the worlds greatest fool but is a church of redeemed followers of Christ. The pillar of truth in the land is not a senator, school teacher, sports coach, dance team sponsor, actors, athletes, news anchors, or movie producer. It is a duty given to a unique people of redeemed from the wrath of God known as a church.

Where are you church? Is Dancing with the Stars really your standard for wholesome entertainment for your children? Is American Idol really your clothing standard for the coming Lord’s Day? Is any sitcom on any network really going to instruct your children on acceptable behavior and appropriate topics to talk about?

What if the church spoke into our culture again with conviction? What if we spent our money differently? What if we reconsidered the source of our entertainment? What if we looked to not just elect “moral” people, but godly people? What if we reinvented the education system? What if we engaged social media differently? What if we didn’t let the industry that pushes immodest clothing styles tell us how to dress? What if we didn’t let the immoral nature of our old flesh entice us to look at them?

Here you are church! Here is your day. Speak with compassion, conviction, and godly authority. Secure godly ministers to lead God’s church, not cleaver people in the ways of men.

We must stop being surprised by the failure of letting immoral people being the standard of morality and stop letting our children see them as their heroes. This year, instead of flooding the movie industry with our money, consider investing in books of real heroes. Introduce biographies of heroes of the faith to your children. These heroes are not perfect in all their ways, but they are governed by a holy God and redeemed to live differently.

 

Decay of Nations

I began preaching through Isaiah several weeks ago and am very thankful to God for these strong warnings. As one looks and listens to Isaiah warn the nation of Israel it is not missed why they were judged by God so harshly as they ignored God and His preacher.

I began preaching chapter three last Lord’s Day. Here, Isaiah informs the nation of what it will look like as the decay of the nation is in full effect. There are many things along the way that lead to this but Isaiah makes it very clear what the last days of the nation that rebels against God looks like. All nations should look closely at this. All Churches should pay close attention to this. Every family should stop and look into these words. Every professing believer should examine his life closely against the plumb line of holy Scripture.

Here is a general look at the entire chapter three. (Based on Isaiah 3:1-12)

  • There will be a removal of the great and mighty men. One of the first marks of decay is not a falling away of great men, but a removal of them. There will be a noticeable shortage in the land of wise, prudent, disciplined, discerning, honorable, skilled men of honor and valor.
  • The shortage of men of honor and valor will be replaced with incompetent, undisciplined, dishonorable,  and childish desires will seize them to attract selfish attention upon themselves and prolong childhood by delaying manhood.
  • There will be a rise of weak willed, moody, rude, arrogant, disrespectful, children who will demand from and oppress the elders. Many cities will notice a shortage of reliable and discerning leaders. Churches will water down the criteria for biblical leadership in light of this great shortage. Children will rule their homes with demanding behaviors that parents will give in to for fear of tyrannical tantrum raging children.
  • A generation or two of this without widespread correction of course will only intensify selfishness among society at large.
  • Disrespect for elders becomes the norm of the day. Where there is a lack of biblical social order in the home, in the church, and in the society, anarchy becomes a path most desired and appears appealing to the majority. This kind of chaos replaces peace with widespread unrest.

It is necessary for this progression to happen for a total collapse of a nation. If foolishness attempted to overthrow a nation ruled by men of valor and godly honor it would be thwarted with ease and a corrective course would happen quickly.

The family must recover. Husbands must pray that God would grant them courage and pray that God would give mercy to their wives. Fathers must instruct the children and mothers must gather and nurture the children. Parents must co-labor in this God ordained duty.

Where are you family?

The church must come out of her slumber. Pastors must lead, deacons must serve, congregations must secure the preaching post with heralders of truth. She must advance this gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ without any mixture of the philosophies of men or fallen angels.

Where are you church?

Where the family and church was once the birthplace and training ground that society looked to for principles of justice and good will, the majority are now petri-dishes of undisciplined selfish little boys and girls who demand others give them what they want while redefining and rebuilding a society that more impoverishes and distresses  with the markings or the Judges of what it’s like when everyone does what is right in their own eyes and hates that which is true and just.

Arise Church! to your duty! The day demands it! Our Lord commands us!

Go into this day and advance this Gospel, now!

 

Friendly Reminder

Friendly Reminder:

You will, if you haven’t already, begin to read stories online about what’s happening in Houston, TX and the surrounding areas following hurricane Harvey. Some will be true and some will not be true. Don’t be found as one spreading gossip. Leave gossip for the ungodly. Put off the craving of your old man to report untruths and partial truths.

When you see someone post something on social media be sure to research the story. Look for collaborating sources. Consider the source. Have you ever heard of this news outlet before? Do they report other news? Some sources report things just for the fun of it to see how many people will pass the story along.

Follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, be struck with compassion for the suffering plight of humanity that is wide spread from the path of hurricane Harvey, but don’t be so eager to be the first of your friends to break the gossip filled story that makes you an unreliable source of truth when you want a voice to speak the gospel.

Just a friendly reminder…

p.s.
Eastside Baptist Church will take up a love offering over the next few weeks to address disaster relief needs.

When Hate Hates Hate

It didn’t take long to learn after returning from a remote weekend at Camp Perkins in central Idaho that hatred for others was the international headline from the Land of the Free, America. Many articulate articles, columns, interviews, and social media posts find me in agreement with many (Albert Mohler, Russell Moore, local radio, and a conversation with Renee).

I stand with Scripture that calls life a “very good” thing. God’s created order of all people everywhere is a right, holy, and beautiful reflection of the glory of God. It’s been said, and I agree, that the kind of behavior that was upon display in Virginia over the weekend is of a hellish kind. To treat another creation of God with such disrespect and hate is not godly and should be identified by all as such. And many, many people have spoken out against it.

Yet there seems to always be a massive disconnect when it comes to the issue of life in the womb. This kind of hatred is protected by laws, judges, congress, and governments of “civilized” people. Murder in the womb is defended by many of the people that many Christians are quoting on social media. This kind of disconnect is shocking. Think about it… some Hollywood not-a-hero says that what took place in Virginia on Saturday is appalling, and it was, but that same individual will be found on another day defending the right for a child in the womb to be hacked apart limb by limb.

Where is consistency today? Where is the exercise of discipline? Who is speaking today with disciplined consistency? This is what it looks like when hate hates hate?

When there is no pillar of truth in the community, people chase after all kinds of inconsistent voices.

Follower of Christ, discipline yourself with a consistent voice. Don’t confuse your friends by quoting from some Hollywood moral drifter and then within a few moments quote a Bible voice. If there is anything to say in a day like this it requires disciplined consistency. To be a pillar and buttress of truth, which your city needs, be part of the pillar and buttress not a confusing standard that is sure to crumble soon.

What if in your community you quoted your faithful pastor preaching sound timeless truths for all people everywhere rather than a flash of show lights from an industry that has as much hate, if not more, than what was shamefully displayed on the streets of Charlottesville.

There is a remedy to this; the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as defined by the Holy Bible alone.

Effective Ways to Reach Youth and Young Adults

First, realize that the title of my post today is with my tongue in my cheek, sort of speak. I’m not employing the title to attract readers.

When I’m away for a stretch of time I like to take a moment and catch up on my regular reading circuit of newsletters I subscribe to and bloggers I regularly read. I’ve just finished getting caught up on a few of those, most were deleted or flagged to read later.

Of note, there seemed to be an uptick of posts and columns that were addressing the most effective ways of reaching youth and/or young adults. Not just the random writer or publishing house trying to get readers from desperate pastors or leaders in churches that are facing pressure to increase the bottom line of attendance (which means the bottom line for funds), but there seemed to be several from what I would call are otherwise trustworthy sources and noteworthy authors. I decided to read a few of them to see what’s being said about the attraction of youth and young adults. These articles and columns come from denominations, churches and even secular sources.

There were three things that caught my “attention.”

  • The clip art or stock photos for the articles seemed more flashy than normal and an increase in photos of young people with more tattoos, body piercings, and seductive type clothing and facial expressions. I first realize that I’m now looking at everything in life from a 50 year old’s lens (which now includes bifocals). I respect that I can’t require all of the advertising world to appeal to my likes. But I do find it interesting a shift that is or has happened in what is presented as “normal” for what a young person looks like who is serious about a relationship with God. It is a significant shift mind you. To my pastor friends, look at that publishing house flyer again and notice the kind and type of clothing the publishing house is using in their stock photos. Notice the increase of youth and young adults with tattoos, body piercings and most noticeably the style of clothing across the board. Who will hold the publishing house accountable for telling (showing) the church what is normal and acceptable. What is being passed off as a flyer to promote a resource may more be a fashion magazine of trending styles. Does anyone else notice this? or have I really become the old man.
  • The selling of products and services. I respect that things cost money and there must be a recovery of product costs and time that people devote to their labor. I don’t fault this on anyone. But the increase of what I would otherwise identify as para-church resources (resources for churches and pastors that are not from churches and pastors). There is a business to be had by that which was designed to assist the church that is largely now instructing the church in what and how to do her work. Agencies and “coaches” to help the church evaluate her effectiveness and determine how to more effectively reach people is no new thing, but the increase in churches and pastors turning to these seems to be trending like a bull market.
  • The content of the blog posts, articles, and columns are still ignoring the sufficiency of Scripture. A recent, well respected author, who has the ear of many people across denominational lines and seen by many as a “missional” expert recently wrote about effective ways to reach youth and young adults. Because I like to read what he has to say, I read his article. I was shocked to not find one of the nine suggestions to include anything about Scripture. (before I go further: I get that it may have been an implied starting place so I’m not suggesting we gather on the streets with torches lit on our way to the publishing house, but if we are going to be responsible in our day, we can’t assume that the sufficiency of Scripture is an implied starting place of most ministers.) His nine suggestions used every buzz word you might find at any recruitment office of any business in town looking to attract a new clientele. Words like “community”, “service”, “worship experience”, “technology”, “authenticity”, “transparency”, “team”, etc. Not one word about God, Truth, Scripture, prayer, suffering, considering the cost of following, obeying, self-discipline, sound doctrine, equipping of the saints, biblical evangelism, etc.

There was a great reformation that took place nearly 500 years ago that addressed many things that the modern church would do good to be reminded of. Where many of the things in the resources and articles are true they may not at the same time be truthful. Sure there are ways to effective gather a people together; but is that people a church?

If the church is to effectively reach anyone, not just the young, she must devote herself to God, His words, and His ways.

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD,
“When I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water,
But rather for hearing the words of the LORD.” (Amos 8:11)

Note to my preacher friends:
Don’t do what I’ve done in days of desperation because of pressure from men and employ worldly means, that may not be truthful, to attract a people. Rather, if there is any desperation, it is that if there is a famine coming from the current drought for hearing the words of the LORD that we are found successful in honoring God by feeding His people His words.

Trustworthy News

In a day when everyone wants to say other news outlets are “fake news”, can there be anything such as trustworthy news?

News reporters who report to a base will willingly say things that are not true to insight a people to say and do things for them.

If you forgot about this, then be reminded. If you didn’t know this, learn it quickly. Recently, Alex Jones and InfoWars.com have retracted inflammatory remarks it once reported as factually true after a lawsuit was filed.

When you listen to anyone talk about anything it’s always best to begin looking for primary sources they are using. If they’re not using sources, ask for them to verify. If they have a pattern of not using credible sources, stop trusting them and stop sharing their stories.

This is a good reminder for all of us.

Some guidelines for listening ears…

  • Listen for truth.
  • Don’t be satisfied with opinion primarily.
  • Read as many primary sources as possible.
  • Don’t share everything you read as fact.
  • Read and listen to media with awareness of what and who you are listening too.
  • Interesting media reports are more driven by opinion than truth.
  • Just know what’s influencing you. Don’t play the part of the fool by the manipulating media.
  • Attend local government meetings.
  • Ask good questions and listen for logically true answers before you formulate an opinion.

Why did it take a lawsuit to get truth from Alex Jones? Can Alex Jones and InfoWars.com be trusted as reliable news?

 

The Collapse of Simple Morality

It has become clearest in the past few decades that the public school education system has been on the brink of complete ruin. It’s rarely about education anymore.

Today, the Twin Falls Times News reported that some (my guess is very few) students at Twin Falls High School have not returned to school because of fear.

I’ll leave you to read the column or not. The link is HERE (http://magicvalley.com/news/local/education/spirit-day-sparks-backlash-at-twin-falls-high/article_7f4caae6-7c75-5e66-b20b-1fccacd04239.html)

My commentary is short. This is what the end of public education looks like unless there is wide spread repentance.

“God created man(kind) in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27

“For even though they (mankind) knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculation, and their foolish heart was darkened… God gave them (mankind) over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.” Romans 1:21-24

A reasonable voice must rise up at the Twin Falls school board meetings in the coming days.

Christian parents, your dialog with your children is not optional on these matters. You must teach your children right and wrong.

What has become of education is not a reflection on godly teachers, students, or administrators. Nor should anyone think that private Christian, charter, or home school is a morality safeguard, it may be worse in many cases.

Blasphemy

There are many in the land attempting to do what only God can do.

To think that one can achieve salvation through any means other than through Christ Jesus, the only begotten son of the Living God is a hope against hope.

It’s easy to look at the atheist and think how foolish their actions are. It’s easy to look at the cult followers as empty and heading to a dead end with no room to turn around. It’s easy to see the trappings of the religions of false prophets as of no help and filled with falsehoods.

Then there is the danger of practical blasphemy that some professors of Christ practice. To suggest that God needs anything from us or that we have any stake in how he should rule His created order is an equal act of blasphemy.

There is joy in the Lord. In the condition of helplessness we were once in, Christ came to us in our spiritual depravity and saved us from the deserved wrath of God that is fairly charged against us but was graciously placed upon our redeemer in our stay.

O for a thousand tongues to sing…

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