Great is our LORD and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. (Psalm 147:5 NIV)

Christians have placed themselves in a box that they were never intended to occupy. From the sky where birds fly free, the box resembles four walls with a roof. Inside are many saints; outside are the “ain’ts”. The two are divided.

It is the four walls that offers a feeling of security and a sense of belonging. But no one ever becomes bigger intellectually or spiritually than their box. It’s impossible to live a life without limits strictly on the inside.

We do not need four walls to have a prison of our own making–but it helps. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Galatians 5:1)

Think lions, tigers and bears. Who wants a box when we were made to be free? “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) “And if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

Think lions, tigers and bears. Who wants a box when we were made to be free?

The first centuries of the Church were lived dangerously and free, outside the box. There were no physical walls that divided, only mental and spiritual ones to be exposed and destroyed. Today we tolerate many walls, including physical, intellectual and spiritual, inside what we call the church.

Soon God’s saints will again be freed by their Creator. Then those who love the Lord will not be told what to think. Each will sit under their own fig tree. They will know how to think, how to discern truth, how to test the spirits, how to understand prophecy and how to use logic (a sound mind for reasoning). They will use knowledge, along with the ability to apply Scripture to everyday life. Truth implies freedom. No one is free without truth.

Truth implies freedom. No one is free without truth.

When the walls come down, truth will be unleashed on ignorance, prejudice, intolerance, wickedness and superstition. Left in rubble will be the once proud walls of political correctness, enforced uniformity, philosophies and all “isms”. The walls that gave Antichrist the stage he needed to deceive the nations will never be rebuilt.

Nothing of value to the generations comes from doing church in a box. The church is people. (Where is the Church in Sardis? Where is the Church of Laodicea? It is no more than a pile of stone.) If we are to reach the lost, we must get off our padded pews and go where the people are.

It is time for Jesus’ followers to exit the building. Time to test our spiritual wings. Soar above the boxes. Touch down to rescue souls from walls of hate, fear and deceit. When the walls that divided fall inward, those who escaped will thank you and call you blessed.

For he [Christ] himself is our peace, who has made the two [Jew and Gentile] one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility… (Ephesians 2:14 NIV)

As long as people have been around, there have been walls. Walls made of stone, wood, brick or concrete, it does not matter; they are all designed to serve as barriers. Walls may act as fences to mark personal property or they may hide things from view. They may keep prisoners or zoo creatures in or keep unwanted guests out. Good purposes and bad, walls are what we make them.

Walls have been in the news. In America, the question was raised again about who should pay the $12-36 billion for construction of a wall along the southern border. This year marked the first time in American politics that a wall became a pivotal campaign issue .

Soon to be former-President Barack Obama reportedly has a wall of his own going up in front of his Washington D.C.-area residence. In an interesting juxtaposition, Mr. Obama has steadfastly opposed enforcing laws restricting illegals at the border, but, as ex-president and private citizen, he is erecting a brick barrier to prevent snooping.

No doubt walls have their place, such as protecting privacy, but ponder a moment their negative impact. First, building and maintaining them consumes time and resources. Speaking of negative impact, fear and insecurity–emotions that can enslave–are prominent motivations behind creating walls.

Walls provide a measure of security, which is why multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious (or non-religious) societies produce physical, mental and emotional walls. Each group vies for position. Keep out those who do not belong and keep in those who fit the mold–that is why walls are considered necessary. Dividing walls are inevitable when people choose isolation over communication.

Control is also why we have walls. I want to address this issue next in relation to modern Christianity and the church. As we go forward, consider this: The walls we build to divide are liable to collapse on us.

Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled. (Joshua 21:45 NIV)

It’s New Year’s resolution time. My brother Elijah and I were exchanging goals were were setting for this year. In the past, exercise and diet were at the top of my list. After a few weeks my good intentions had a tendency to dissolve. The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak.

We make a huge mistake if we attach our weakness to God. With Him, there’s never a gap between what he says and what he does. At Sinai, Israel vowed to do everything the Lord commanded (Exodus 19:8). Shortly after, they were dancing around an idol, giving a golden calf praise God deserved. Israel’s abysmal record of keeping promises is common.

Setting goals is important. If they line up with God’s will, expect plenty of resistance from the enemy.  Alone, we are no match for the evil one’s devices, but, if we hitch our resolutions to God’s promises, then no power can stop us. His promises switch the focus from our self-will to the Lord’s unchangeable word.

God is not a man that he should lie, nor a son of man that he should change his mind. Does he speak and not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? (Numbers 23:19)

This is where accurate understanding of prophecy (God’s unfulfilled promises) places us on track for the next level. When we know where the Lord is heading and what he’s certain to do, we are wise to climb on board and start to work. If our resolutions do not produce a greater sense of calling, we may be wasting our time. Our resolutions can easily fall short, but the Lord’s words will never fall short. He will achieve everything that came from his mouth (Isaiah 55:11).

Through these, he has given his very great and precious promises so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (2 Peter 1:4)

In this year, 2017, I, hereby, resolve to allow Christ to perform his perfect will through me.

To the Jews who had believed in him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32 NIV)

We live in unprecedented times. Never has truth been more reviled and tarnished. Could it be the vilification of truth (the Bible) and of truth-tellers (God’s prophets) is setting the stage for the Antichrist and his beast kingdom?

Jesus told his disciples that if they failed to hold to his teaching, they could not be his disciples. (Read into this the prophecies that many will abandon the faith in the last days.) After holding on and remaining obedient to Jesus, the faithful will know the truth and the truth will set them free. We learn freedom must be fought for; lies must be stubbornly resisted; obedience is non-negotiable and that slavery as well as death are products of rejecting truth.

As promised in the previous post, I want to put forward a proposition; namely, “Truth is essential to salvation.” I say again, “Salvation and truth are inseparable, one cannot exist without the other.” Examine the text below.

This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

From 1 Timothy 2:3-4, we ask, “Is there salvation without truth or vice versa?” No, the two merge for a divine purpose. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in prophecy. God our Savior wants everyone to be saved, but that is just our first baby step. If we are to walk, the first foot (salvation) must be followed by the other moving forward (truth) and so on. In this way, with salvation and truth, and by ruggedly opposing every sort of lie, we gain ground toward total freedom.

How many say that they are saved, yet are “indifferent” to prophecy? Perhaps it is because they swallowed the lie that the subject is confusing or a mystery Christians are not supposed to fathom. Do not be misled: To demonstrate God’s total sovereignty, tomorrow has been revealed in the Word (Isaiah 42:9, Amos 3:7, John 15:15). To be saved, the Lord wants everyone to grasp His truth–and that includes prophecy! Salvation (the future, the glory and heaven itself) belongs to those holding on to Jesus’ promises and warnings (truth).

Today, as we put “I’m saved” on as a helmet, do we dare leave truth behind? If we put on salvation, then around our waist also have on the belt of truth. In this age of deceit, do not risk being talked out of what you’ve gained. In this age of delusion, be careful if you think you stand, lest you fall. Don’t leave home without “truth”.

…but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (Hebrews 7:24-25 NIV)

As I watched the interview of Megadeath’s Dave Mustaine, the 30-year veteran of rock music’s “Death Metal”, a tear formed in the corner of my eye. It touched my heart as he spoke of the personal change since he “was saved”. He credits Fox News’ host, Bill O’Reilly (The O’Reilly Factor) for a back-and-forth on social media that created his openness to previously dismissed ideas. Mustaine indicated he has now embraced his role of modelling sobriety and encouraging decency among his fellow Death Metal musicians and their fans. From what I was hearing, Dave Mustaine demonstrated what John the Baptist referred to as the fruit of repentance.

Rock star Mustaine inspired some thoughts on the most important topic known to humankind, “salvation”. No one cannot afford to misunderstand what being saved means or misinformed about where we spend eternity.

In speaking of Christ, The Hebrews writer says “he (Jesus) is able to save completely [my emphasis] those who come to God through him,” what do we suppose this means? It implies there is “incomplete salvation” as opposed to “save completely”. A journey started but not concluded would be incomplete. “Undone” as in a half-baked cake or “unfinished” as in a half-built house where the owner quit because he did not fully count the cost, are synonyms. There is no glory in just making the team or lacking follow through.

The new birth occurs at a moment in time when the Spirit enters and God-life begins. As precious as newborn believers are, they are not complete. Ask a parent who loses an infant. Conception is life, but there is far more to life itself than birth. Salvation is life, but there is much to be added if we are to be completely saved. Conversion is necessary, but it is also incomplete. I could cite examples, including the friend who led me to Christ, but most know someone who prayed the prayer, yet never walked the walk.

Discipleship is the process by which babies in the faith are nurtured to maturity. Jesus commanded followers to go into the world and make disciples, not converts. Conversion is an experience; salvation is on a continuum as in a path. It is only complete when we finish our race and stand before the Lord to hear “well done”.

King James Version translators of Hebrews 7:25, used interesting terms. They wrote Jesus is able to save to the uttermost. Don’t be so fast: There is a height, breadth and depth to salvation many Christians will never explore.

We have a role in salvation to the uttermost. If our maturing is ultimately on us, so too is salvation in its “completed” form (i.e. 2 Peter 1:11). Do not tune this verse or its context out! Meditate on Peter’s teaching in 2 Peter 1:3-11 and take it to heart. It affirms the Lord does his 100 per cent, but then we must do ours and make every effort. If we do not, we will never realize God’s good purpose. Do we want to miss Jesus’ gift? (Jude 24)

Next time, we will highlight the one thing keeping God’s people from completeness.

Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” (Joshua 5:13 NIV)

Joshua was in full-battle mode. Crossing the Jordan and entering the Promised Land was not the goal. Driving out the Amorites and other pagan tribes was (cf. Genesis 15:16). Their leader and his fellow Israelites were ready to do the work for which they had come to Canaan.

One man, the man with the drawn sword, stood between Joshua and his battle against Jericho. Was his sword drawn to oppose Israel’s advance or was it to signify he would join Joshua in the fight? Was the man for or was he against? The question of which side the armed man was on was relevant, but considering his identity, it was the wrong thing to ask.

Like never before in the nation’s history, America is fragmented. The rifts are deep along political, cultural, ethnic, social and religious lines. So the question which group is right is not the correct one. It is like asking which of Canaan’s tribes were the best?

Informally we interview others asking–in a roundabout way–“Are you for us or for our enemies?” (It is one or the other.) The response Joshua received from the man with the sword speaks volumes:

“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Then Joshua fell face down to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does the LORD have for his servant?” (5:14)

“Do you support Trump for president or do you hate him?” is how many Americans are determining sides. “Where do you stand on this issue?” “What side do you favor in this conflict?” “What upsets you most?” Be careful, our questions and answers will place us in stereotypes. Humbly give an account for your hope, not your negativism.

We should ask ourselves “Am I on God’s side?” Regardless how smart or persuasive we are, the Lord isn’t for us as opposed to our enemies, but we can be on his side. For God does not show favoritism (Romans 2:11).

Rahab the harlot lived among Jericho’s idolaters. This woman heard that God had shown himself strong through Israel. She understood her city and way of life were coming under judgment, so she chose risking all and hiding the spies to siding with her people (Joshua 2:8-13).

Whose side are you on? “On the right side,” you say. Well, I’ve known some who were so right they were wrong. Being right is no excuse for being mean and hateful.

Take the side of love. Choose peace and unity. Insist on the side of truth. Opt for the side of goodness, compassion and mercy. Choose life and care for widows and orphans. You, too, may look up and see the commander of the Lord’s army. If so, fall on your face. Declare you are God’s servant. Take off your sandals for the ground on which you are lying is holy.

Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said, “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you will answer me. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know.” (Job 38:1-5 NIV)

In all the earth, there was no one like Job. Yet when it came time to sit in his Creator’s presence, he could only listen. When the all-wise, all-knowing God of heaven spoke, Job became silent. Whatever wisdom this great man had melted into nothingness .

Sadly, inside God’s vast universe, most opt to live inside a small, self-imposed universe called “a bubble”. In the realm of politics, living in a bubble means we are sheltered from outside sources such as opposing views or uncensored information. Conformity to accepted ideology is the order of the day. When asked for their opinion on a candidate or an issue, those in the bubble flip a mental switch and out comes well-worn talking points. If a bubble dweller hears a challenge, they become angry.

Life inside a bubble offers a false sense of security. Recently, tens of millions of Americans were comforted by pre-election polls and by those repeating the mantra that evil Donald Trump could not win. On November 9th, their world turned upside down and their bubble exploded. Their shock did not transition into outrage toward those who misled and misinformed, but into hatred for Mr. Trump. The new story-line became “Trump stole the election”. The label of evil stuck. Anti-Trump rhetoric today feeds those who find comfort in a reconstituted and re-vamped bubble of hostility.

God lives far outside the tiny space of human bubbles. He transcends the ways of flawed beings and invites us to live above the rancor. We all have the option of dwelling in the bubble or in the freedom and constant thrill of discovering His boundless thoughts.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. (Isaiah 55:8)

Jesus exposed and burst the bubble of the Jews, as well as their religious “bubble masters”. Wherever Christianity has taken hold, it has always been strongly opposed. It threatens the status quo and frees captives inside the bubble. It liberates believers from the deceiver who demands complete control.

It was to those who lived life in the bubble that Jesus said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

 

 

… for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 NIV)

First, I do not consider myself a pessimist or a doom-and-gloom type. I have the blessed hope that comes through Christ. I’m a believer in God’s absolute sovereignty, and as such I am a student of prophecy. Since early on, I’ve liked history, psychology and been interested in the world around me. My favorite pastime is Sunday’s New York Times crossword puzzle.

Put this all together and you have a man who attempts to solve what God will do next. I have been wrong more than right. God’s ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not my thoughts, but I press on to know the mind of Christ.

Since the enemy is God’s puppet, I believe it is easier to know his schemes. He is relentless in his efforts to gain control of nations such as the U.S.  Never has the world or America been more at risk. I am not a prophet nor am I the son of a prophet. I study them and have written about them (ex. The Prophets of God). I do not claim prophet status, but if I was the enemy, I would see this as a prime time to strike.

America is splintered into factions. It has a weakened military and is in a critical transition period. There is perhaps a thirty-day window where the transfer of power from out-going president, Mr. Obama, to the incoming, Mr. Trump, is at its most vulnerable. Though Mr. Obama is leaving office, he remains the president until January 20th, seven weeks away.  In terms of what they project, Mr. Trump projects a strength Mr. Obama lacks. If I was the enemy, I would launch an all-out attack while Mr. Obama serves as Commander-in-Chief.

On the other side of the ocean, America’s enemies have had decades to develop their alliances and fortify their arsenals. They have used their resources to modernize their weapons systems and to formulate a strategy.

If I was the enemy within, I’d launch my attack at winter’s onset–that’s now. I would knock out heat, electricity (the power grid) and communications, cripple transportation, and then I would contaminate the water supply.

If I was the enemy, I would marshal ISIS members who’ve entered as Middle Eastern refugees, along with the radicalized Jihadists already here. I would free the incarcerated, mobilize the anarchists, anti-Christians, the anti-Trump and America-hater crowd, and incite them to loot, neutralize law-enforcement and set fires. I would do all in my power to induce chaos and wide-spread fear.

You probably got the picture?

Nothing short of national repentance will save America. I see little sign of that happening; not from the top down, or, for that matter, from the bottom up.

I do not have inside knowledge. I haven’t hacked any emails but I realize America’s destruction would have a ominous impact on the world. So, if I was the enemy, I would not let this opportunity pass. But, if I was the enemy, I have God pulling my strings and you know what that means.

But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6)

When such a person hears the words of this oath, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way.” This will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry. The LORD will never be willing to forgive him; his wrath and zeal will burn against that man. All the curses written in this book will fall upon him, and the LORD will blot out his name from under heaven. (Deuteronomy 29:19-21 NIV)

In C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the four Pevensie children found themselves in the mysterious land of Narnia. There they discovered a pair of talking animals, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver.  Intent on learning about Narnia’s curse where it is always winter but never Christmas, Mr. Beaver began to describe his hope in Aslan:

“Aslan is a lion-the Lion, the great Lion,” “Ooh,” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he–quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr. Beaver… “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you?”

To speak of Aslan without awe was to speak from ignorance. To suggest that he might be safe was, to Mr. Beaver, the height of folly. Aslan was full of virtue and goodness–but was he safe? Absolutely not! He’s the King! Since when are great king’s safe?

In America, after seventeen successive months of record-breaking gun and ammunition sales, November post-election purchases are reported down. Boosting the nearly year-and-a-half buying spree was anxiety over a “President Clinton” in Washington. Some of her “not for the general public” comments contributed to a belief Mrs. Clinton would challenge the constitutional right to bear arms. For a large segment of the U.S. population, privately-owned weapons provides a feeling of safety and security.

Now that it appears the nation elected a leader other than Mrs. Clinton, her side is expressing their high-anxiety. Claims that Trump is a racist, sexist, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, xenophobe have saturated much of the media. Anger mixed with fear is directed at the election winner as thousands voice their fear of a President Trump.

The insanity behind the insecurity is the convoluted thought people have about safety. Apart from Christ all peace is a false peace. Guns or friends in high places are not the answer. Identifying with the strong or bringing down powerful leaders are vain pursuits. There is no security in oligarchy or anarchy. Riches and technology don’t make us safe or why would the wealthy seek a walled underground fail-safe neighborhood?

According to Deuteronomy 29 (above) safety is an illusion for those choosing sin over obedience. Professing faith in God yet living like He tolerates evil is a dangerous path. By slandering and attributing evil to a fellow believer (“racist”, “Hitler”, “sexist”, “homophobe”, etc.), invites God’s judgment (James 4:11-12). (Trump and Clinton have stated they are Christians. The risk of angering God by slandering one of His own should silence us.) Is it because people mistakenly believe God is safe that they would chance repeating a lie? Fear God. Know what happens to liars (Revelation 21:8).

Just as there are false threats of violence, there are vain promises of security. In coming days, the forces of evil will attract uninformed Christians with the delusion they offer “peace and safety” (1 Thessalonians 5:3). For the godless, there is terror on every side.

No matter where we live, our only hope for shelter in a time of storm is Jesus. Saying we know the Lord, does not mean we are safe? By no means! He’s the King! Safe from hate and violence we’re not, but to people of good will and to all who love and fear Him, our God is a rock and refuge. Safe am I in the hollow of His hand.

“This is what the LORD says–your redeemer who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself, who foils the signs of false prophets and makes fools of diviners, who overthrows the learning of the wise and turns it into nonsense, who carries out the words of his servants and fulfills the predictions of his messengers.” (Isaiah 44:24-26 NIV)

With America’s election still on our mind, during breakfast my friend and mentor described a hand-out he received. It was passed on to him and his fellow church board members by his pastor. Catching his attention–then mine also–was the title “Destroy a Church in 4 Simple Steps” by Tim Challies. From the article, friend Dave received a revelation: The four steps that ruin churches are ruining our nation.

Briefly, the four steps Challies cites are: Reject truth; reject truth tellers, embrace false teachers and embrace false doctrine. If this does not describe the current charged political atmosphere, what does?  Rejecting Scripture, then persecuting those who stand on Christian principles, has raised its ugly head. Examples of Christians fined and persecuted for their faith are many–and grows daily. Odd to say that for a nation founded on Christian morality and religious freedom.

What will cause more fear from the news media than a politician who declares they follow Jesus? The same is true for those who exhibit common sense. Currently, illegals flood the U.S.’s southern border at the rate of 1500 per day. In politics to suggest immigration laws presently on the books should be enforced, is to be a racist and anti-immigrant. For those who reject truth and truth tellers alike, voicing opposition to their ideas is an act of war .

In politics false prophets are embraced as they are often in the church. Secretary Clinton was a prophet, as was President-elect Trump. The cult of personality is such that whatever she or he said or did was right. To her friends, doctrines Mrs. Clinton promoted were unquestioned. When she went down in defeat, it was because dark forces stole her destiny. Anger spilled over into the streets. Would the same reaction have occurred had Mr. Trump lost? Doubtful, because his side did not feel entitled nor were they as certain of victory. The cultist aspects of today’s politics is proof positive that it indeed is spiritual.

Is the tide of ruin in America temporarily halted? If the four simple steps destroying the country’s churches continues unabated, then there is no remedy. It is a contradiction for a Christian to reject truth, reject truth tellers, embrace false prophets and false doctrines. Whenever the cult of personality invades the church, as it has politics, then the death spiral begins. Paul wrote: “Follow me as I follow Christ.” Following human leaders without using critical thinking will culminate in the religious worshiping the beast.

Since all politics is spiritual, standing firm in the truth of God’s Word while denying everything opposed to Christ, offers the world its only hope of salvation.

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