Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Radical Cross

A. W. Tozer was a very unique man of God.  He saw things like very few man ever did.  Interestingly, he was saved in the attic of his parents after hearing a street preacher leaving work in Akron, Ohio.  After doing some street preaching himself, he was called to pastor a storefront church in West Virginia. Thus began his long and great work of pastor and editor.
Many saw him as a modern-day prophet and he dared many who listened to him to walk the narrow path.  He didn't care which friends he had, those who understood him stood by him.  What should stand out is Aiden Wilson Tozer never had any biblical seminary training.  How did this man learn so much?  Simple: the Holy Spirit and his separation from the world.  Complete and iconic.
In the book "The Radical Cross," the first chapter points out what American Christianity ignores in the attributes of a crucifixion.  We think we see it as a thing of beauty, a shiny garb around our neck or a tattoo on our arm.  We are ignorant of the power of God through the Cross, as noted in 1 Corinthians 1:18.  
It is not the resurrection that we are talking about, this occurred three days later after Jesus was slain.  We need to see the cross for what it truly is, an instrument of death and destruction.  Let me go through briefly what the cross was, how the power of God pertains to it, and how it reflects to Christians.
First, as already said, it is a symbol of death.  Everyone who was sentenced and nailed to it succumbed to it.  It left no one still alive, even the Son of Man.  It had no mercy, no compromise; the only ultimatum it gave to its victims to come off was death.  Once you knew you would be crucified, death was the only option you had on getting off.  
Crucifixion was bloody and gory.  Your friends no longer walked by your side.  They did not want to be affiliated with you anymore.  Even the disciples fled and were nowhere to be seen.  Pain brought from the nails, the stretching of the body by the wood and gravity only added to the eventual demise.  Lastly, also consider where Golgotha was; on a hill for all to see.  It was a sign of humiliation and shame.
How does all of this apply to us?  Interesting that many Christians and pulpits quote Galatians 2:20, where Paul said I have been crucified with Christ, not I but He who lives in me.  Paul also said that as the sufferings of Christ abound in him, so consolation also abound by Christ (2 Corinthians 1:5).
We are not called to be physically crucified.  We are called to crucify the old man (Romans 6) and bury him.  Jesus said no one is worthy to follow him if he does not take up his cross (Matthew 10:38).  Another saying Jesus told was to "deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me (Matthew 16:24).  Note what need to do; deny ourselves first, take up our cross, THEN we follow Him. 
We can only have the abundant life what Jesus desires us to have until we sentenced the flesh to death.  Look at Paul went through in following Christ.  Stoned, beaten with rods, flogged, shipwrecked and imprisoned.  All this and he never wavered.  Once the old man was crucified, all that was left was a spiritual man wanted nothing more than to preach Christ crucified and holy solitude with the King.

Sorry to say, the crucifixion of Jesus leads us to the gate but the path requires us to take up our own cross.  The sufferings we will go through, trials, tribulations, mockings; this is the nails to the flesh, for none of the forementioned the flesh wants to endure.  If you love the luxury and freedom in America, all the gadgets and fine living, maybe this is what is keeping you from carrying your cross.

Jeremiah 9:23-24


Michael  

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Divided People of America

The internet, social media in particular, is now destroying America, in my personal opinion.  All you need to do is perform a deep research on how people feel on certain issues and you will see how divided we are.  The election and inauguration of President Donald Trump have exemplified and amplified the fractures in our freedoms for the last twenty years.
Many liberals, (especially the LGBTQ factions) have been making demands they want, regardless of the freedom of others in speech, religion, and media.  There were riots (no such as "peaceful when businesses are looted and cars set on fire) on the day of the inauguration, a Women March that had more to do with pro-choice and their hatred for Trump than women rights, and the current abyss in Congress with the continual movement of the left.
Conservative views, in general, have not changed drastically in the last fifty years or so, in my opinion.  The Western Church has been changing to meet the will of the culture which, in turn, has caused her to stray away from the firm apostles' creed and foundation of the Word.  While this has happened, it has weakened her influence on the culture around her.  Instead of her making her mark on the culture through holiness and repentance, she has taken in the world and watched the structure change to pragmatism and humanism.  Because of this, she does not possess the power to transform itself to holiness.  Thus, she has become more willing to conform to the culture for her pleasure than her willingness to bear her cross.
In my fifty plus years of being an American, they change from the 1970s to now is extraordinary.  I am ignoring the technological advances, our gain of knowledge in all areas.   I am specifically noting our view and our purposeful neglect of what our freedom truly stands for to the citizens of America.  
It is a real sad state of affairs when people take their right to protest and free speech, then use it to voice their views with intolerance and hatred.  I have seen vulgar language on both sides of the agenda.  I have even seen very disrespectful speech against the very genre of people who fought to defend that same right to speech.  It is ironic how Americans have used the freedom of speech to divide or even threaten others because of differences of beliefs, views, and religion.
Hypocrisy fills America's social media and airwaves.  UC-Berkeley was a scene of a riot recently, all was done in protest of free speech, in which Milo Yiannopoulos was going to speak.  Christians bakers who politely refused to bag a cake gets slammed with a six-figure lawsuit, while Ellen DeGeneres retakes an offer for Kim Burrell to appear on her show, for her speech against gay marriage at a church.  At this writing, there is a court fight over immigration about letting just "anyone" in through our borders yet, we lock our doors at night to protect what is close to us.  To top of the proverbial cake, we have sanctuary cities that break laws of immigration.  California (of course) is looking into being the first "sanctuary state" (IMHO, they already hold the distinction).
Individuals and groups have been making threats for special rights over others.  We have the hate crime, which only is used with a one-way mirror.  Marriage has been changed to accept the "pursuit of happiness."  The cry is not "finally, equality," it is if you get an inch, continue to go the mile.  Sadly, we see people and special groups use these freedoms for themselves.  Now that Donald Trump is the 45th President (only three weeks + in), people have taken their being upset to new levels.
We have the elements for a profane civil unrest.  Racism has risen exponentially, due to some elevating even the smallest of issues.  There are groups that supposedly promote one thing, while they look forward to following their true, hidden agenda.  The economy might be stable, but as long as our government continues its unsurmountable deficit spending, the experts believe it is inevitable.  
Many liberals are trying to stoke a fire they will realize later they don't want.  The abyss of political and social extremes grows wider by the day.  Others are willing to lie (or believe in a lie) to keep the ignorance against anyone that refuses to agree with their views.  They are more open to degrade the other side.  Social media has become a dessert lover's dream for those to desecrate anyone who they believe is intolerable to their mindset.  Hence, they keep digging a bigger ditch and blame the right for the gap.
America is in trouble - financially, politically, socially, and spiritually.  The Church needs to get right with God - and soon.  I cannot say if any major unrest will bring martial law or will it usher in the Great Tribulation.  The ingredients are there in the world.  The selfishness has infiltrated the Western Church.  We need to get on our knees.

Jeremiah 9:23-24

Michael

 

 
 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Christian quotes to Ponder

"You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary."
"How can you expect to dwell with God forever if you so neglect and forsake Him here?"
"Godliness is more easily feigned in words than in action."

Jonathan Edwards

"My talent is to speak my mind.  God won't object if you bury that talent."
"The Church recruited people who had been starched and ironed before they were washed."
"Any 'Christian' who takes for themselves any more than the plain necessities of life; live in an open habitual denial of the Lord.  They have gained riches and hell-fire."

John Wesley

"Churches don't need new members half as much as they need the old bunch made over."
"One reason sin flourishes is that it is treated like a cream puff instead of a rattlesnake."
"The only way you can keep a broken vessel filled is by keeping it under the tap." 
Billy Sunday

"You can always tell the power of a church by the number of people who attend the prayer meetings."
"My crusade is the wake up the Church from its spiritual lethargy, rousing it to the fact that it is being brainwashed and propagandized."
"Before there can be fullness there must be emptiness.  Before God can fill us with Himself, we must first be emptied of ourselves."
A. W. Tozer

"Jesus Christ went more willing to the Cross than we do to the throne of God."
"Are there not more millions of us who would rather go sleeping to hell than sweating to Heaven?"
"Christ is never loved until sin is loathed."
Thomas Watson

"The beginning of the way to heaven is to feel we were on the way to hell."
"A sin...consists of doing, saying, thinking or imagining anything that is not in perfect conformity with the mind or law of God."
"Obedience is the only reality... It is the real test of real discipleship among the Lord's people."
J. C. Ryle

"The early church was married to poverty, prisons, and persecutions.  Today, the Church is married to prosperity, personality, and popularity."
"If Jesus preached the same message that ministers do today, He would never have been crucified."
"It is much easier to wear a cross than bear a cross."
Leonard Ravenhill

Blessings,

Michael
Jeremiah 9:23-24 
 
 


Sunday, January 15, 2017

What We Truly Worship

In the region where I reside at this time, I am surprised how much the Green Bay Packers get praised.  Even churchgoers complain about going to church in a couple inches of snow but make every effort to get to the stadium two hours before game time.  These same people will sing quietly during worship yet, yell out loud when Aaron Rodgers throws a touchdown pass.We are guilty of what I am about to write.  I read this in a pamphlet from Duncan Campbell.  It was about spending more time getting our little things and assume our salvation as many go through the motions.   Americans hold more value in the worship of materialism than we do in our so-called "walk with the Lord." 
Many of us are addicted by social media.  It is amazing how we post when some arrive at church that "I am here to worship the LORD."  This may be harmless in itself but somehow we have related going to church as our sole means of worship.  Also, I see today that many Christians cannot worship without music to enhance the atmosphere.
It is sad we are willing to spend more effort on a football game that we are in preparing to be with God.  Worship is a constant act with us.  Yes, there are times we cannot be paying homage to the Almighty.  What we are willing to put our worth into can become an idol before our worship with God.
I am not here to write there are no real believers who are diligently seeking after the King of kings.  I question who do the saints of old seek God in prayer.  The office bearers who were praying for God to come happened to spend five hours on Tuesday and Friday night in a barn on their knees.  From my perspective, we should be ashamed.  Our prayer meetings hardly last two hours.
Even Leonard Ravenhill was shocked when he heard a Christian from Africa say to him that Americans don't know what worship truly is.  We last maybe a half hour and he said his church spends three hours in worship!  How's that for preparing to be in His presence?
Let me add one note.  There is a lost art in Christianity today that A. W. Tozer practiced many times.  Jesus, at times, became overwhelmed by the people many times.  His answer was to retreat and spend silence with His Father.  
You can worship in his presence without words or music.  Giving Him homage by your full honoring God.  Sitting or walking in holy silence, even waiting on Him, is a worthy form of worship.  Psalm 46:10a speaks volumes in ceasing from everything we do and paying all respect to the Most High, allowing Him to present Himself as our King, God and Father.
I am at a loss at words why this is no long sought after in our prayer time.  Do we have the patience or the time to sit in a quiet place and wait on Him?

Jeremiah 9:23-24


Michael