Saturday, April 24, 2010
Bret Michaels, singer of 80’s rock group Poison has suffered a massive brain hemorrhage. I will not make light of Michaels condition and will not belabor his sinful lifestyle. I will say that Michaels, like we all were, is a sinner. He needs God’s grace to rush in and take over his life.
Michaels is in need of our prayers right now. He is part of the ultimate statistic of mortality, 1 in 1 will die. But, for Michaels, he is being afforded the opportunity for countless millions of Christians to approach the Holy Throne of God with the request to save this man, for health and his family’s stake, yes, but more importantly from the pits of hell.
As of now, it is unsure of Michaels’ cognitive condition. A massive brain hemorrhage doesn’t sound very good and I am no doctor. I know there is the real possibility he could be incapacitated, and not able to understand anything anyone says to him. But, I know God is exceedingly merciful and desires all men to come to repentance. This includes Bret Michaels. He is no more a sinner than you or I were at some point in our lives until God intervened.
So, I ask that each of you that read this little ol’ blog to take a moment and pray for Bret Michaels’ salvation. This could be the wake up call he needed to see how sinful he is and his need of a Savior. Pray that God puts people in his path that will adequately share about our Lord’s saving grace, about the redemptive work of Christ, whose blood was shed for him at Calvary. Pray that this will be used by God to convert Bret Michaels so his testimony and life change will glorify God and in turn work in others lives to bring a saving faith to them as well.
Remember, we were all sinners saved by grace. Michaels’ sinful lifestyle may have been televised and reported on to the public, but I can honestly say our sins are and were just a repulsive to God. Did He save you and take you from your sinfulness? Then why would you think a rock star is any different?
Sunday, April 11, 2010
"The world is more alive at night…it's like God ain't looking." - Elvis
John 3:19-20 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. - God
After writing the blog post yesterday on the Beatles alleged quote “The Beatles are bigger than Jesus” I started thinking more about Elvis. I had said that I had always heard you either loved Elvis or the Beatles, not both. I think that saying actually dissuaded me from liking the Beatles through life, mostly because my mom, grandmother, dad and brother were all Elvis fans, which naturally made me an Elvis fan. (On a side not that is how many people profess to be Christians as well)
So, I have often wondered about Elvis’ true spiritual condition. Was he a Christian? No doubt he was a great entertainer who loved music since childhood. Elvis was quoted as saying, “Since I was two years old, all I knew was gospel music. That music became such a part of my life it was as natural as dancing, a way to escape from the problems. And my way of release." This goes back to his upbringing in the Assemblies of God church in Tupelo as a child. His mother, no doubt, was a model for his musical and spiritual choices then and throughout his life.
Elvis was known to sing gospel songs during his concerts, during rehearsals and notably surrounded himself with famous Southern Gospel groups. These included The Imperials, The Sweet Inspirations and JD Sumner and the Stamps Quartet. Elvis’ penchant for gospel music has been the influence for many gospel singers ever since, because of that you will likely hear his arrangement of “How Great Thou Art” in 99% of church services. Elvis’ live recording of this song always gives me goose bumps. But little bumps through my follicle system are not enough proof that Elvis actually meant the words he was singing. Elvis was also a huge giver. He was known to give cars away on the whim. But that also does not mean since he gave Sonny and Red each a Cadillac that he did so in the spirit of Christ but instead that he was just a giver by nature. This may be mostly in part that he did not have much when he was growing up and wanted to spread the wealth, not a bad thing but also not something that says “Yes, Elvis was a Christian”.
I have become very skeptical of Elvis actually being a born again believer. Many reasons are behind this, but most notably his lifestyle and that I never actually heard him profess to know Christ in interviews or print. After researching on the web, I still can’t find anything pointing to Elvis’ Christianity other than his singing of Gospel songs and his upbringing in a Pentecostal home. There are many people that would say I am being judgmental and that I can’t say for sure if Elvis was a Christian and I agree, I do not know for 100% certainty that Elvis was or was not a true believer.
I know that Elvis sang gospel songs, surrounded himself with gospel singers, talked of his upbringing in a Pentecostal home, had a bible and was very giving. But, I ask you, how many other people live this same lifestyle today? I know many people that profess to be Christians and back it up by things along the road of their life, even a prayer the recited as a child is pointed to. The question is, do these things make someone a Christian? Are these things fruits of a Christian? Or are these things simply a lifestyle instilled from childhood into a man that really loved and admired his mother?
One path Elvis lead through the later part of his life was spiritual in nature. But the spirit he was seeking was definitely not the God of the Bible. He was known to have been heavily researching Hinduism, Judaism, numerology, Theosophy, positive thinking, the new-age and meditation. None of these things beneficial or relevant to a true Christian. In fact, many in his inner circle were growing increasingly worried over his path into the spiritual realm away from the Bible. Presley was seeking something and that is proof that he did not have the True God present in his life.
Many people will by now be saying, “Jeff, you’re a little harsh here. Elvis was just wrapped up in his lifestyle and stumbled from time to time. Sure he made mistakes, sure he did things that were not good in God’s eyes, but hey, he was raised a Christian and sang Christ centered songs.” This is no more than what millions have done and continue to do daily, justify themselves. The bible says you WILL be a new creation in Christ, that God will not allow you to be taken from His hand. So if those are true, how does someone, with the rebirth in Christ, and remaining in God’s hand stumble into a constant and habitual sinful existence?
Elvis’ sinfulness is well documented. His bevy of women, penchant for drugs and cursing are all common knowledge. But, Christianity is not a balancing act between good works of philanthropy and songs being sang outweighing the lifestyle chosen to pursue. I would very greatly like to say that Elvis was a Christian. But I think I can say confidently, unless he truly repented of his sins before his death in 1977, he is burning in a relentless flame in the depths of hell. It is very possible that that night in ’77 Elvis did see himself as the sinner he was and his need for the imputed righteousness of Christ. I pray he did, as I pray that others I have known and have passed did.
The fact remains that many are still in the same situation as Presley. They are trying to work their way to heaven. They line the pews every Sunday, they donate regularly to their church and charities, they sing Christian songs and have Christian friends, but they have not trusted God’s Word and in the sinless Lamb who bore their sins. They know a lot about Him, but yet do not know Him personally, just as many know a lot about Elvis; they never knew him in a personal manner. If you are one that justifies yourself instead of trusting in Christ for that, then you need to repent now. Your sins are on your own head and you will be accountable before a Holy God on judgment day. You will stand before the Father with the Son beside you and instead of Him showing the scars of your sins as proof that He knew you, He will say “Depart from me, I never knew you.”
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Today marks the 40th anniversary of the breaking up of the Beatles, although the “official” breakup did not happen until 8 months later in 1970. Like them or not, they made a huge impact on the music industry and countless millions of people. Not even being a fan, I could still probably sing along to several of their songs, that after years of listening to the radio just kind of sunk in to my memory.
A popular saying over the years has been “You either love the Beatles, or you love Elvis. You can’t like them both.” I guess I was the Elvis fan growing up in the 70s, so I may have been subconsciously affected by that statement and purposefully avoided anything the Beatles did. But I still can’t ignore the mark the Beatles made on society.
The most notable thing that stands out to me was the John Lennon quote, “The Beatles are bigger than Jesus”. I have even used this as ammunition to persuade people to not listen to the Beatles, kind of a trump card to say, “See, these guys slandered the Name of Jesus, you don’t need any part of them.” That was a mistake on my part. After reflecting after my conversion on music, these guys are and were the same as any other person out there. Any other musical group of marginal success could say the same thing today, and sadly be correct. Actually Lennon had never said this (real story here), but it was actually the sad state then and it is a sad state now.
What was attributed to Lennon was stating an obvious; they were bigger than Jesus in their day. They probably still are. But this was not some kind of braggadocios statement where the Beatles were portraying themselves as gods. The statement was actually a very good assessment of how their followers had MADE the Beatles gods to themselves. Sadly, this is the same state, if not larger today, of the public view of God.
Look at society today, the musicians are treated like royalty and God is mocked. You mention the name Jesus and you are instantly an outcast. I am fine with that, and any true believer should be, we are not of this world (John 15:18-19). But, take any group or person on the charts today, Jonas Brothers, Lady Gaga (who is no lady at all), Beyonce’, Taylor Swift, Carey Underwood, Jay-Z and still even the Beatles, and compare their followings to that of God. You will soon see that the public makes idols of these performers. Not necessarily the performers putting themselves into that position, but being placed there by adoring fans. That is where the egos come in and these entertainers then start doing the same thing their fans do, they deify themselves. This is true for most of the professing Christian artists in the mainstream music category. I would even say it is true in the “Contemporary Christian Music” segment as well.
What it boils down to is idolatry. The supposed Lennon quote hit the nail firmly on the head when attributed to him decades ago. People are sinners and they need to fill the void that God put there to long after Him. Not a “God shaped hole”, but a desire to know the God of the universe. Music is but one outlet people use to fill that desire, drugs, alcohol, sex, video games, kids, sports and any other thing put before God is the same as what Lennon supposedly said, “------ is bigger than Jesus”, insert your idol there.
You need to examine yourself and see if you have a right standing with God. Try everything by fire and see what the all-consuming fire of God burns before His throne. God demands your full love and attention; He will not compete with your idols. I truly urge you to examine your life and see what excites you. Does the thrill of an action movie bring more joy than the thrill of witnessing to a lost person? Does the sounds of any song on the radio cause you to start singing along while you have a hard time remembering the words to “And Can It Be” during Sunday morning services? Does the sight of your spouse cause your heart to skip a beat, but the thought of God just make you want to turn the lights out to try and hide from Him? If you answered yes to any of those, then you have some idols. You have filled your heart with desires that God requires of you. But the good news is that God wants you to realize you have these idols and He wants you to give them up willingly. He will even help you with this; He will give you the desires of your heart if you just ask.
I will definitely not be using the supposed John Lennon quote to deter anyone from listening to the Beatles again. There are many more reasons to not listen to the Beatles instead of me misquoting yet again. God has graced me enough to know that anything can be an idol; anything can be taken and made to look like a golden calf in the sight of a jealous God. I ask God daily to take my idols and to turn my gaze upon Him, to look to Him for everything, to give me the thoughts of thankfulness for His grace to me in what He has gifted to me, a beautiful wife that reflects His love for me, kids that teach me how He loves me and wants me to be as forgiving as He is, people at work that do not know Him that give me opportunity to brag on what He has done for me, brothers and sisters that He has allowed me to become close to that reach out to me with His hands, music that radiates His goodness, food that shows that He is the bread of life and I need to feed on His Word as my body needs to feed on that food. I am thankful that God chose me, the Master and Creator who spoke everything into existence loves me and desires to show me just how much He does love me.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Seems like we’ve got a bit of an epidemic on our hands. David Duchovney, Tiger Woods, Jesse James and now Bruce Springsteen. Anything familiar between these 4 men? These men are claiming to have contracted a newfound condition, which is called sex addiction.
Let me break it down even further and tell you what it is and what it’s not. First I will say that all men are addicted to sex, so yes, it is true these men suffer from the same thing all of us men suffer from. Men are inherently sexually natured, they thrive on it and if not kept in check leads to what these men are currently battling…… divorce. Actually every person ever born is addicted to sin. We can’t get enough of it, that is, unless God changes your sinful nature into a spiritual nature.
I will in no way condone or even give credit for the “sex-rehab: these men are or have already embarked on. These men are sinners against God and against their spouses. What God designed to be a reflection of the marriage between Jesus and His Church has been defiled and these men try to justify what they have done by calling it an addiction. Hogwash! Society now looks to what these men have done with a compassionate heart thinking “poor guys, they can’t help accidentally having sex with all of those women. They are the victims here.”
With the mentality of this being an “addiction” it joins the ranks of alcoholism and overeating. All of these things, if done outside the confines of their design, will bring destruction. Er, uh SIN. Call it what it is people. It is sin against a Holy God and trying to offer a man centered explanation is nothing more than justifying a wicked man. Check out Proverbs 17:5 for what God thinks of those that try to justify a man in sin. But this is just another example of societies downward spiral to destruction.
So, what can we do about this? All we can do is pray for these people, pray that God will be merciful and save them from their sinfulness. I will not entertain what these men claim to believe spiritually, because if it is not God centered it is false. If God was these men’s focus they would not be cheating on their wives and they would not have, to in turn, lie about their condition. I am not going all “Britt Hume” here, but these men need the God of the bible, just as we all did and still do. Outside of the grace of God, we would all be mired in sins trap. Only through the great richness of God’s love has He pulled me from my love of sin and focused me firmly in His Word and in His hands.
I can do nothing good without God’s mercy upon me; I was just as vile as all of these men before God saved me. I may not have ever physically cheated on my wife, but Jesus said that if you even look at a woman to lust after her, you have already committed adultery in your heart. (Matt. 5:28) Ouch. That kinda stings doesn’t it? He got to the heart of the situation, literally. Jesus was saying that your sins are not what people see, they are what is in your heart and mind. What people see are just the outward signs of the internal condition. He again addressed this with the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-22; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 18:18-30) but with his love of money. Jesus did not question his assertion that he had kept the whole of the law since childhood, He went straight to the young rulers heart, to his love of money.
Jesus said that your love of even your mother and father must seem like hate compared to your love of Him. (Luke 14:26) Can you say that? Or are the gifts of your family an idol to you? Through Jesus all things were created, so the Father, through the Son, gave everything you have to you. Do you love the gift more than the giver? Do you act like a spoiled kid on Christmas? With a “mine, mine, mine” attitude? Or do you praise God for His goodness to you? Being ever thankful for everything? Praising Him for the food you eat, the water you drink (or diet coke in my case) and everything else? (1 Cor. 10:31). If not, then you may be in the same condition as the rich young ruler. You may have a lot of idols in your life that you love more than God. This could be a sign that you do not truly know God, so I ask that you seek His Word and see that you are His. (2 Cor. 13:5, 2Pet 1:10). Repent and turn to God, seek and you will find Him, ask and it will be given.
Do not allow society to conform your mind to its lies. You must guard against these things and stay focused on the Truth of scripture. If it does not align with scripture it is false, no compromise. Call sin what it is and do not make it shiny call it addiction or anything else. It is sin, pure and simple and God hates it.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
“Allow me to discern for you, that you should not read discernment blogs to help you in your discernment.”
That is the message I am hearing these days. Especially now that John Piper has invited Rick Warren to the Desiring God Conference. These with the rally call to abandon discernment are the same ones that, before the internet and blogging, used to use the name “fruit inspector” for those that had a penchant for biblical discernment.
My question, when did it become acceptable to not be discerning? Why are blogs belittled for relaying information that is needed and usable in the aid of discerning what aligns and doesn’t align with scripture? I have a tendency to be on the discerning side, even in my writing. Maybe that is why I welcome brothers and sisters that have a gift of discernment in these dark days. Not to say that all discernment blogs are accurate, but I feel for the most they are usable tools to aid other believers in developing a view of what is attacking Christianity.
I would even say that NOT being discerning is dangerous. Just the happy-go-lucky attitude that everyone that invokes the moniker of Christian is a Christian is ludicrous. I do not even take a man at my doors word that he is the cable man if he doesn’t have proper credentials (fruit) to show that he is, in fact, the cable man. I would hope that any true believer would want to be more discerning when Christ’s Name is involved in anything, even a profession. I guess that is why I believe it is blasphemous for some to say, “I’m a Christian” when they live like the world, look like the world and desire nothing but worldly things. (See my blog on blasphemy and idle words)
I believe the proper course of anything that is labeled of God should be looked at very closely to see that it conforms to the Word. Be as the Bereans mentioned in Acts 17 and search scripture to be discerning, examine to make sure things mesh with scripture or are, indeed, false. This reminds me of a recent “conversation” with a friend over facebook. I had mentioned that Christians needed to be discerning when listening to the group “Philips, Craig and Dean” because their theology was heretical. Even though they claim to be Christians, sing “Christian music” and are “pastors” in a church is prime example that superficially a lot of things look of God, but with a little discernment things fall apart. PCD are modalists, a heretical view of scripture that denies the True God of scripture, therefore negating anything that they do or say of Godly things. They do know the terminology, but so do Mormons and Jehovah Witness’, which is the same extreme I place the modalism view. Just as Muslims say they worship God, they in fact have created a god in their own image and forsake the God of scripture.
If you look back over my posts, there is a call for discernment. I try to speak it loud and clear and I pray that I never become mushy and accepting of anything and everything that invokes God. I hope that if you are one that has always taken things at face value that you will scratch through the surface and start a discernment habit. I believe that any true Christian will thirst for truth and discernment. I also believe that if the Spirit is in you, then discernment is also in you and you need it awakened. Gods Spirit will bare witness to our spirit, if you feel uneasy about someone then there is probably reason for that. Just as “good” discernment is valid when you feel an instant connection with other believers where Gods Spirit brings our spirits together.
Just be wise and do not speak out because of a personal issue you might have. Make sure that you are being Spirit lead and not emotionally driven. Many times I get upset at things and after reflecting and seeking Gods council I am usually found to be wrong and praise God for allowing me to keep my mouth shut. Discernment is a great gift and tool from God that when actually given by God is very beneficial. But remember Satan also uses things that can seem of God, but are actually counterfeit to confuse, he has also used the word discerning to cause division. Be careful, but be correct. Do not allow false teaching, doctrine and professions to slander and blaspheme the Fathers Name.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
John Piper, you have left many scratching their heads over your recent announcement that “America’s Pastor” Rick Warren will be taking part at the 2010 Desiring God National Conference.
When I first heard this a few days ago I thought that someone had mis-heard someone say something to somebody and just got the story mixed up. Boy, was I wrong. It is official and Piper has stated “I’m gonna need a lot of help to know why I should feel bad about this decision”. To which my reply would be – if you know there are major concerns by those in the same theological position and views that you have, then you already know WHY you should feel bad about this.
At first came my confusion. Then I realized, “Hey Jeff, John Piper has a lot more theological truths in his little finger than you have ever attained”. In fact Piper has been a teacher to me through his books and videos and I have a very high regard for him and his decisions. Just, right now, I do not fully understand this one. I am, however, becoming more open to see what the Lord has planned through this.
I, for one, know that someone can be full of many wrong views of scripture and of God. I know firsthand that God can and does bring people from those false teachings and beliefs to a better and more complete understanding of His Word and of theology in general. If you would have called me a Calvinist 5 years ago I would have argued with you that I would never even entertain the thought of the God choosing who He would save. But, the more I am drawn closer to God, the more understanding He allows me to attain. It is definitely baby steps for me. God had been very gracious to me over my whole life, from birth, to allowing me to live 30 years as a false convert in order to give me a heart full of compassion for others that believe the lies of the American church’s false gospel.
So, I am anxiously waiting to see what God has in store. I could give a whole laundry list of what Rick Warren says and does that do not align with scripture, but right now that is not needed. Right now I am being faced with the realization that God may have answered my (and many others) prayer that Rick Warren may have the scales taken off of his eyes and be shown the same grace and mercy I was shown, deliverance from a man centered gospel to a where the Gospel has to be, focused on God and not wavering at all.
Be in prayer that this is used by God to His glory. That lives will be changed, perceptions challenged and that Rick Warren will stand in front of the world and repent to the Father for his past stances on many issues, his man centered focus, his ecumenical flavorings and the other things I care not to mention right now.
Video from John Piper “explaining” his decision: