Don’t Get Onboard!

lusitania sinking

Few people today remember or care to recall the sinking of luxury liner RMS Lusitania, destroyed by German submarine torpedoes in May 1915. It was a catalyst to USA entry into WWI. The 1,198 victims included millionaires and commoners and carried works of art by Monet, Rembrandt, and Rubens. But what may be lesser known is that all who boarded had been warned of enemy attacks on that specific ship. The warnings came from the Germans themselves, posted in major newspapers….

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Reporters investigating those who perished and the survivors found that all aboard had scoffed at these wartime warnings. They fully believed that the Lusitania was “too big and too strong” to destroy.

Why should we care about this demolished sinking ship today? It seems that many American Christians are investing emotional and spiritual time and resources into saving the luxurious traditions and lifestyle of the USA. Even though this country is sinking, many root their loyalties onboard a ship that God Himself declares destined to sink into darkness.

Increasingly worldliness – not gross sinfulness – stealthily contaminates our faith and deafens our ears to God’s call.

God warns and exhorts His people throughout scripture to separate themselves from unbelievers, living apart from mainstream world culture and values. We are not to get onboard with the world….

“…friendship with the world is hatred toward God…Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world is an enemy of God” James 4:4

In his book, Love Not The World, Watchman Nee expounds upon God’s ongoing cry for His people to separate from this world. I highly recommend this easy to read book as every line holds liberating truth for the believer…

“Separation to God, separation from the world, is the first principle of Christian living.”

“Do not let us think for a moment that Satan opposes God only be means of sin and carnality in men’s hearts; he opposes God by means of every worldly thing.”

“…everything belonging to the world is under the sentence of death. We still go on living in the world and using the things of the world, but we can build no future with them…”

“…there is a mind behind the system…an ordered system, ‘the world’ which is governed from behind the scenes by a ruler, Satan.”

“Indeed, unless we look at the unseen powers behind the material things we may be readily deceived.”

“How watchful we need to be lest at any time we be found helping Satan in the construction of (his) ill-fated kingdom.”

“The essential character of the world is Satanic; it is at enmity with God. To see this is to find deliverance.”

As Americans, we are at critical junctures in our country, much like watching a slow train crash with precious cargo. The greatest temptation for many of us is to join in the foray, fight for ‘upright morals’ and make a stand for…for what?

We are called to ‘stand’, steadfast in our faith, trusting in Jesus and His word, even upon loss of all and life itself. “He who stands firm to the end will be saved”.

Those souls boarding the Lusitania foolishly denied posted warnings of destruction. With God’s unchangeable and trustworthy ‘warnings of destruction’, we have no excuse to get onboard the world’s course. We cannot and are not called to change it nor can we delay the promised culmination of all nations under the rule of the antichrist.

I press these truths into my own heart, that I may not get onboard the wrong ship and later mourn a missed call, a neglected task or intended purpose for my life from our Heavenly Father.

As the Body of Christ in the world, our choices have eternal value and consequences.

Press on brothers and sisters!

Armed for a Higher Battle

Heated battles in Washington spark flames in the hearts of many believers, including me. It takes daily discipline in God’s word and in prayer to rein in the fervor. I first worked on a political campaign as a teen – and that senator is still in office! Most tantalizing for believers though, are the esteemed ‘Biblical’ values touted in this arena. It is a snare however, drawing us in ecumenically with others to fight a worldly battle that holds no eternal victory.

“Surely the nations are a drop in the bucket…Before Him all the nations are as nothing…” Isaiah 40:15

“Be careful”, I warn myself, “not to invest your heart into something that is nothing.”

It is of utmost importance for us as believers to know where we’re placed in in the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:18), His gifts and callings. We’re not honing our skills and sharpening weapons for worldly battles but spiritual battles – those that hammer the forces of darkness while honoring and glorifying our sovereign God.

“Preserving our way of life” is no threat to Satan or any demon. Jesus didn’t come to live a good life and He never said we were either. We are called, as the Body of Christ, to display the “manifold wisdom of God to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms”. Ephesians 3:10 may specifically relate to the profound working of God, making Jew and Gentile ‘one man’ in Christ as Paul proclaims through the chapter. However, the ‘manifold wisdom’ – complex, intricate, multifaceted wisdom – speaks of our mandate as ‘church’, to confound and triumph over “rulers, authorities, powers of this dark world, and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

National politics fall far beneath such conquests. According to God, they “…are regarded as dust on the scales”.

Worldly battles ignite our flesh but spiritual battles mandate death to the flesh, gaining ‘strength through separation’, in the prayer closet and shut away into God’s word. Those who ‘pick up their cross’ will become increasingly broken yet stronger and geared up for battle.

What is God’s call? Perhaps we can see that His call is not for us to be dependent upon church buildings, organizations, denominations, or activities. As A.W. Tozer once said, many churches gather together for fellowship unlike the ‘local lodges’ after their ‘coffee hour’. The Lord, however, seems to invest His call to those most dependent upon Him. His commission doesn’t come with accolades but the burdening of our heart from His heart, that inevitably leads us to minister and serve.

The world doesn’t care about spiritual battles or victories. Who cares or even knows when a drug addict finds deliverance through the Holy Spirit? Or when the loneliest souls reconcile to their Father in heaven and join in His family? When elderly meet God through His Body, when the proud are convicted of sin, when the sinner cries out, “how could I have lived like that? Rulers, authorities, powers of this dark world in the heavenly realm take notice when they suffer loss and defeat through the lives of ordinary mortals who serve at the behest and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Like most people, I have definite social and political inclination. Still living in NYC part of the time, I have strong feelings which can be impassioned through the media and the willful direction of my heart. But I don’t want to champion candidates or legislation – I don’t want to fight for that drop in the bucket….

I want to be useful to God’s Kingdom, commissioned by Him that He might work through me. No matter how small the assignment may seem, there is no greater honor in all this world.

Press on brothers and sisters!

“Christians On The Brink of Losing Religious Freedom”…Is That A Bad Thing?

Embedded within ‘Christian politics’ and campaigns is the ongoing rally by Christian leaders, pastors, TV celebrities, authors and watchdogs to preserve our religious freedoms. This is especially prevalent during this pre-election season. (Here see here for example) The ‘danger’ and ‘risk’ of losing religious freedom and constitutional rights even provokes leaders and ‘shepherds’ to influence their churches and communities toward various candidates based on extra-Biblical criteria.

I am a Christian and an American, but wonder if we so cherish ‘religious freedom’ more than God’s call to holiness and separation.  Do our values and priorities resemble those established by the apostles and Body of Christ in the New Testament – under the New Covenant? There are no Bible verses or precedents to undergird our rallies for government favor and support.  Jesus Himself certainly had the power, popularity and influence to effect change and establish ‘religious freedoms’ and the people wanted Him King to do so!  But neither the Lord nor the apostles ever used their following or influence to implement governmental change, even though believers were oppressed, persecuted and tortured.

I understand that the opposite of ‘religious freedom’ can lead to great suffering. Millions have perished and lives destroyed at the hands of persecutors.  The Armenian Genocide perpetuated by the Ottoman Turks as well as the holocaust of WWII are only two examples. Horrific and wicked acts continue today through radical Islam and other groups. I am grateful to live in a ‘free’ and ‘safe’ country and pray that those suffering can find such refuge. So how could all this clamor to secure ‘religious freedom’ be a bad thing?

1. Our Christian forefathers, moved by the call of God, relied on the power of  the Holy Spirit to establish the Gospel in the world. They never depended upon the ‘rights’ bestowed by any government.  They expounded ‘separation from the world’ as a mandate, hardly aligning with secular governments. Alignment with the world never brings the world nearer to the Lord but compromises us, conforming us more to the image of the world.

2. The American Church as a whole is addicted to worldly freedom, enjoyment and prosperity. We extol our ‘freedom to worship’ but isn’t worship birthed in our heart, most genuine in the privacy of our prayer closet? No one can interfere with those who worship as Jesus defines, “in spirit and in truth”. Moreover, no one can stop us from our greatest call, “to be conformed to the image of Christ”.  Is our alarm stirred by impending threat upon the business of Christianity in our country? Does our enjoyment, even pride, come from our prosperous megachurches and ‘gains’ we claim in changing social values?

“When the church was persecuted, it was powerful.  When the devil saw that persecution wasn’t killing the church, he made them prosperous.”  Zac Poonen

3.  How will Americans stand in these last days?  Rather than girding ourselves in the Lord     and the power of His word, many of us choose to bask in ‘religious freedoms’.  “When” not if trouble or persecution comes, many of us will fall away.

“What was sown on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.” (Matt 13:20-21)

4. Is God grieving about our possible loss of ‘religious freedom’ or is He grieving at our lack of holiness? How different would we be if we tossed our moral and political compasses away and joined together in seeking holiness before God?

5. The quest to secure ‘religious freedoms’ necessitates inclusive collaborative actions. Supporters are finding ‘common ground’ amongst many types of faith.  This innate drive of self preservation is a snare that will prepare many to accept the growing body of ‘ecumenical Christianity’.  Loss of discernment is worse than loss of ‘religious freedom’ – one day a net will cast wide for a one world religion and most will be ready to join.

Of course losing rights and freedom is a ‘bad thing’.  I don’t want to be persecuted, attacked, rejected or killed. I don’t even want a sneer or harsh word toward me. But the closer we draw to the heart of Christ, the further we should stand from the world’s arena. Our devotion to the Lord is necessarily tested through loss, harm, persecution and suffering (I Peter 1:7).   Our strength to endure and to honor God is directly related to our separation unto Him.

True strength flows from our dependence and confidence in Him.  The quest for political influence and preservation of rights increasingly promotes a wrong vein of dependency for Christians. When trials of faith come upon us, we will not be like the tree planted by the water, our roots will be shallow – planted in a temporal and condemned world.

God is for His people. He wants to indwell us, move through us and enable us to be “the light of the world” and “the salt of the earth”. But that doesn’t come from securing our rights, it comes from dying to them….  ‘Pick up your cross and follow Me’.  

A person carrying the cross of Christ has no rights.  They are dead to the world around them.  They are totally dependent on the life of Christ to empower them, to give them life, and lead them to victory.

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