Sunday, April 24, 2016

Spiritual Zombies And The Dark Path

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

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

 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them."

(Romans 1:18-32 ESV)

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—

(Ephesians 2:1-2 ESV) 

The rejection of God has lead our Nation down a dark path. A spiritual dark age is upon us. And it appears God is giving us over to the idols of our hearts. We all either worship God, or some "god substitute." Our imaginations have become darkened, and  once unthinkable lifestyles and actions have become mainstream. Through the use of mass media, the political, economic, and educational systems, we have been re-programmed as a society. 

Believing in absolute truth is seen as archaic, and backwards. Those who stand for biblical truth are viewed as dinosaurs. That's not to say all those that work in the above mentioned fields are bad people. Many still hold to their faith, and even some non-believers still believe  that a society should practice common sense values. But we are now living in a morally bankrupt Nation, that has been influenced by spiritual darkness, in all spheres of our society. 

There has never been a time in history when things were perfect. And the "good old days" were not always that good. And not everything in modern society is negative. Some progress has been made on social issues.  But if we continue down the present path we are on, we will lose whatever good progress that has been made.

God will give individuals and societies over to what they desire most, even if it destroys them. The worship of our new "sexual freedoms" and the desire to live outside God's rule, is idolatry.  

Zombies are "dead men walking" (or women). And I believe we are witnessing the mass demonization of our society. We now call "evil good and good evil." We are trapped in a world of political correctness that denies the truth, and perpetuates lies. The New Age philosophy that we are 'our own gods'  seeks to absolve us of our guilt. Without a sovereign personal Creator, we get to live by whatever standard we choose. 

 In the name of love we refuse to warn others , and choose to ignore  harmful behaviors.

Love and truth go hand and hand. And a denial of truth in the name of love is actually hate, and a perversion of reality. What is the answer to this mass deception, and spiritual darkness? We must (and I'm talking about the Church) fully embrace the Kingdom of God again. Christians must  submit to God and resist this darkness. We must first leave our own idols, and embrace the Gospel again, if we are to lead our society out of darkness.

 Disciples of Jesus are called to be the salt and light of the world. It's our responsibility to love and show compassion to a dying world. It's time for us to practice what we preach. - Bobby

Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Call To Discipleship

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. ( Matt. 16:24 NET)

Discipleship is not an option of the Christian life. We are all called to follow Jesus. This may look somewhat different for each individual. Because God has gifted each one of us in unique ways. But the call to every disciple is a summons to total commitment. Jesus' call to his people ( no matter what our profession is) is to follow. We are to learn the ways of Christ, and to grow in them. Jesus gives us power and authority to advance his kingdom. And His Kingdom is not of this world.

This is not about excreting earthly or political power, and domination over people. Although it will effect social change in the lives of many in our communities. But,  the delegated authority Jesus gives is in the unseen spiritual realm.

Without spiritual transformation we can only modify our behavior somewhat, by will power. In the "upside down" Kingdom of God, the weak are strong, and the strong in this present age, are weak. The model for greatness that Jesus offers is, servant-hood. Jesus the un-created eternal God of the universe, came to serve people, and so should we.

We serve them in practical ways like feeding the poor, and teaching others about the Kingdom of God. Prayer is often one of the most neglected, and unrecognized forms of serving. It's mostly a hidden calling.  Interceding for others in our secret prayer closets goes unseen, but makes a powerful difference in peoples lives. 

One must develop a long term strategy, and not grow weary when wrestling in prayer, on behalf of others. We are engaging in spiritual warfare on behalf of people Jesus died for. He died for our sins and rose for our justification, and  to free us from spiritual bondage.

The importance of personal, one on one prayer ministry for individuals, can't be emphasized enough. It is a powerful ministry for the local church to engage in. This ministry of healing  prayer is important in our fight against the evil one, who seeks to afflict people,  both spiritually and physically. - Bobby

Friday, April 08, 2016

Lawlessness Is Increasing

"And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."

(Matthew 24:11-14 ESV)

Many of the Churches in the western world have fallen asleep and are no longer watchman that warn our society of the danger we face. And we live in a culture that is more afraid of offending people than God. Pagan spirituality is becoming the norm in our newly 'liberated' society. Babylonian religion (excessive materialism, sexual sin, and the worship of idols) has infected the Church. While our digitally  distracted population is being brainwashed by various forms of media and talking heads, to embrace a new morality. 

This is the spirit of  anti-Christ that is alive and well in our mist. It denies the power of God to transform the human heart, and seeks to silence those that point to Jesus as the only answer to our deepest need. True spirituality, Christian spirituality,  is only found in Jesus who sets captive hearts free.

We are being sold a lie by those that say Christianity should be kept out of the market place of ideas. Even many professing Christians have bought the lie that to make a judgment based on the teaching of the Apostle Paul is hate speech. ( see Romans 1,  I Tim.1:98-11, I Cor. 6:9-10)

 The teachings of Jesus are being distorted by both liberal and conservatives to further their agendas. And those that are looking for guidance from political leaders, and seeking for a political messiah, are embracing a false hope.

The seeds of rebellion that were planted in the counter-culture youth movements of the 1960's and 70's, have become full grown. We are seeing the fruit of those days as we experience the demonic inroads in our society today. Lawlessness is the fruit of  moral anarchy, as rebellion to our Creator has become normalized. And living a Gospel - Christ - centered life, is now seen as foolish, and archaic.

The Bible warns of the increase of lawlessness in the last days.

The good news is that God is raising up many radical Christians in our day. Radical in the sense that they are moved by the compassion of Jesus to help the suffering, and seek out the lost. They reach out to hurting confused people with the love of God, not hate. 

Many of us have been wounded deeply, and have stumbled in our walk with God, but we refuse to give up. As we discover the nature of this warfare, we see  that our real enemies are other - worldly, and demonic, not people. Satan uses the movers and shakers in this present evil age as pawns to enslave people.

This present world order is going to crash and burn, so now is the time for us  to pledge our allegiance to  Christ, and his Kingdom. - Bobby

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Awaiting The Resurrection: A Prayer

"O God, Creator of heaven and earth: 
Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb
And rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the
coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life;
who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
One God, forever and ever. Amen."

- Brett McCracken

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Way Of The Peaceable Kingdom by Kyle Stoble

Scripture: Isaiah 11:6-8, 30:29, Psalm 16:11
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,  and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den. And you shall have a song as in the night when a holy feast is kept, and gladness of heart, as when one sets out to the sound of the flute to go to the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel. In your presence there is fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Isaiah presents an evocative image of peace that radiates forth upon the arrival of Jesus. Invoking the imagery of animals dwelling together, lying beside each other, and even a nursing child playing by the cobra’s den, Isaiah paints a picture of total harmony in God’s world. It is as if an equilibrium had been discovered by the presence of this “shoot of Jesse,” a harmony founded upon the spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and strength, and of knowledge and fear that rests upon him (Is. 11:2). Maybe most importantly, the coming One is marked by delight in the fear of the Lord, will not judge based upon what his eyes see, nor what his ears hear, but is the One who judges in righteousness (Is. 11:3-4). Bracketing the moving imagery of the lion and the lamb are declarations of knowledge. To know the Lord is to understand the kind of harmony he desires, just as it entails embracing the nature of the harmony he is calling us into. This mini-section of Isaiah closes with a comment about the nations seeking this harmony. This one, the one who brings peace, will be sought out by the world because of the nature of the peace he offers.
Attending to these themes, Fritz Eichenberg carved “The Peaceable Kingdom,” not as bare exposition, but as a prophetic declaration of the way of Jesus. In the foreground we are confronted with peace and the harmony of the created order. Animals rest upon one another, natural predators sit comfortably in each other's presence, and a young child cradles a rabbit with a snake close by. But the scene is never comfortable. The world around them is foreign to their order, and the harmony they experience is discordant with the way of the world. The discussion of the nations from Isaiah reminds us of this reality, and the city on the horizon of the woodcut highlights that the peace they share is prophetic in nature. The scene in the foreground is witnessing to the coming way of God in a world that has not yet accepted it.
Eichenberg points us to the calling within Isaiah’s prophecy. This is the “path of life” that the Psalmist declares (Ps. 16:11), the path that Jesus illumines and embodies in his own life. This path, the path of the cross we meditate upon in Lent, is foolishness to the world (1 Cor. 1:18). Its power lies in its weakness rather than its ability to dominate, control, or defeat. It is a prophetic witness against an order that destroys itself – it is the embodiment of Jesus’s declaration that those who seek to save their lives will lose them (Lk. 17:33). Eichenberg’s call is for courage in the face of the evil of the world; not simply courage to stand against the world, but courage to stand against the world by adopting the harmony of peace and love against domination. Eichenberg calls us to have the courage to carry our cross in weakness in a world that calls us to embrace strength in power for domination.
Father, grant us courage to follow in your way of weakness, even when our hearts long for power to control and dominate. Help us to stand firm against the evils of this world by walking in your way, and  Lead us in the way of the cross. 
Kyle Strobel, Assistant Professor of Spiritual Theology and Formation