Our Enduring City

As a pandemic peters out, our nation implodes with rampant rioting, looting, and destruction.  Spilled blood, ashes and rubble can in no way reveal actual ruined lives, grieving hearts, and fearful, anxious souls.

While I do believe in peaceful protests, rage and depravity are deepening brokenness and painful divisions.  What say You Lord, to those who mourn for a country, their city, their community that they love? 

For American Christians, the hard truth that should order our lives and structure our perspective is this:

“Love not the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”  (I John 2:15)

The Apostle Peter and others note our standing in this world…

“To God’s elect, strangers in the world…live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear….Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world...”

Because of America’s freedom, opportunities, and the prosperous fruits gained from moral living and hard work, American Christians have so intertwined and blended in with unbelievers that the Gospel message has no distinction and worse, our contented lives leave no true longing for God’s Kingdom…

…until perhaps, our world begins to crumble.

When our world is crumbling, we must remember who we are, the ‘ekklesia’ – “the called out ones”, God’s people called to live as strangers and foreigners.

There is a foray of racial, political, and criminal fervor beckoning us all to jump in at some juncture.  But believers are called to navigate the narrow road – God’s word, God’s call, God’s way.   Jesus said,  “…narrow is road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  I want to be one of that few!

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Would you put your money here?  Neither should we invest our heart in this world.  

As a social worker and retired law enforcement officer, I care deeply for my community.  I avail myself to serve and pray to be a light.  But I know that this world cannot be fixed, it will not improve, but will, in fact, downward spiral into further darkness and chaos toward that day of judgment.  Whether we push a broom or sit as CEO, now is the time to hear from the Lord, “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” and we need the reward of His presence and infilling more than ever.

 

From Genesis to Revelation, an overriding truth is evident:  for God’s people, strength comes from separation – separation from this world, separation unto God.  God is not partial to Americans, but to His “treasured possession”,  the Body of Christ, and we are from “every tribe, every nation, every tongue”.

Injustice, loss, grief and utter destruction are real and painful.  But may the Lord detach our hearts from the things and fervor of this world.  I pray that the Holy Spirit lift our heads and focus our hearts as our spiritual forefathers’, “…they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”

Everything that can be shaken will be shaken so, “Love not this world….”

“For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.”    (Hebrews 13:14)

Maranatha!

Prayer in the Plaza

Many readers, family and friends may remember our community battles here with Columbia University’s ongoing land grab in New York City, posted here ,  here, and here    for example.  Commandeering housing and small businesses, they set their sites on our street to take a stretch of it for their ‘plaza’.  While the community fought to save our street, the wheels of political and financial power spun against us.  Soon part of our street was closed and the work began.

However, as believers, we grip a hold of God’s sovereignty, even in times of loss, defeat, and disappointment.  “Who knows”, I thought in the end, “maybe we can use the plaza for a Christian event or something…”.  Admittedly I was sour to them though as they closed the street and began their work, “I won’t step one foot onto this plaza!”

That was last year.

All of that is inconsequential to the crisis here in NYC with Covid-19, deeply shaking us all.  While close friends are suffering with this illness, community members have died, and friends and relatives go bravely to work in hospitals and correctional facilities, I prayed, as many do, what might I do, Lord?  Yes, we help those who are affected, sharing and delivering groceries but how can the Lord be exalted?

While praying one morning, it came to me that the ‘plaza’ is adjacent to the hospital.  All the students left weeks ago, it is just a vacant area with chairs, tables and planters.  Ambulances speed by, hospital staff scurry to work….I need to be there, I need to press in and pray and take a stand for the Lord!    

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I sit right behind the sign

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My daily prayer meeting, 10-11am, includes me and the Holy Spirit – and others who are joining in from their homes.  Prayer points include:

  • Prayer for nurses and doctors, EMS, hospital support staff – firstly for brethren who are serving, may the Lord undergird them, speak words of life to them overflowing to coworkers and patients.  For all those who have heard the Gospel, who may have an ember of faith, may the Lord fan those embers into flames and ignite a living faith.  Lord, let them sleep well at night, give them rest, encourage them in every way.  Speak to those who don’t know You, draw them to Your word and let them find strength in You.
  • Patients and their families –   Be a source of healing, Lord, physical, emotional, and spiritual.   Lord, many are now at the edge of eternity.  I pray that there may be a harvest even now, let a believing nurse, attendant, or food service worker speak an apt word, an appointed word.  For those patients suffering who have heard the Gospel, Father in heaven, fan those truths within them and bring them to repentance and safe into Your arms.                                                                                       I pray for their families who tragically say goodbye at an ambulance, never to see their loved one alive again.  Comfort them Lord, and draw them to You.
  • Encouragement for support staff in health care and law enforcement –  they are often hidden away from limelight – food workers, custodial and maintenance staff, nurses aides, secretaries/receptionists, suppliers.  Draw them to You Lord, let them find their strength in You.  Put a song in their heart as they work, often behind the scenes.
  • For law enforcement, NYPD, NYFD, DOCS, and security teams – encourage them,  strengthen them Lord, protect them from criminal assaults and virus infection.  I pray for the believers within, such as Correction Officers for Christ and those in the NYPD,  let Your Holy Spirit pour forth through them, sharing Gospel truths even to the inmates.
  • I pray for all those passing by –  hospital staff, dog walkers, residents –  Lord, let them read the sign and kindle their hearts to ‘PRAY’,  let that word stick to their hearts and follow them.  Let them begin to think of You.

There are many other points to pray as the Lord leads.  Over all this I am also praying…Lord, don’t waste this affliction.  Bring our community, our city, our state, our nation to repentance.  Confound our self-reliance and our pride in this time of shaking and turmoil…in Your mercy turn our eyes upon You. 

This can be our finest hour to rise up and honor God through this darkness.  May the Lord loosen our grip on this world,  give us greater hunger for His word and deepen our devotion to Him.  May our remaining days count for Him and fulfill His purposes – no matter how big or small they may seem.

 

The Forgotten Door to Power, Position and Peace

We were created for a place of power, position, and peace and yet our quests for them often lead to futility and disappointment.

Rather than reset our compass,  we dig deeper in ourselves for inspiration, motivation, and self confidence, cheering ourselves on with words of “gusto” and “empowerment”.   Seeds of self promotion and self-actualization were sown long ago with a dark promise,  “…your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  Satan’s design for man mirrored his own downfall –  exaltation of self – selfish ambition, self love, self importance and self reliance….separation from God.  

But the position God plans for us, the peace He promises, and the power He avails to us is far greater than any ‘self actualization’.   His personal love and plan for each of us will lead to places where He awaits, with a calling only He can fulfill.   

The life lived by faith in Christ is one with eternal value. 

The will of God is unique to each individual life. God has created each of us specially unique in that there is not, nor will there ever be anyone like you.  He has also placed you here on earth in this time and generation in the country and ethnicity for His own desire.  Your impact in this world is nothing without Christ; it’s all about surrendering our will unto His.   (Excerpt from Anchored in the Cross  3/15/18)  

Hollow and temporal achievements in this world can never compare to the work of the Holy Spirit through the life of a surrendered believer.  Sadly, today’s church has lost the power, the peace, and the position before God.  They are ‘safe’ places for personal sin, without conviction and without a loving challenge to pursue God’s holiness.

From ancient days to this present moment, through broken yet indwelt believers, and through His living word, God desperately calls us.  Fellowship, salvation and eternal promises come forth only through this forgotten door…

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“…we can boldly enter heaven’s most holy place because of the blood of Jesus. By His death, Jesus opened a new and life giving way…” (Hebrews 10:19-20)

Church agendas of ‘good works’, excellent music, special events –  campaigns against every social ill – can never reconcile us or anyone else to God.  Nothing at all in us can please or satisfy God.  In view of God’s holiness the Apostle Paul declared, “In me dwells no good thing.”    From this revelation opens the life giving truth:  The blood of Christ alone brings new life.  He restores us to God, and indwells our hearts.  (Read what God did while we were sinners…  in Romans 5) 

Our flesh and soul often suffer regret, remorse, and self condemnation leading to inconsolable emotional suffering.  But “godly sorrow”, as described in II Corinthians 7:9-11, is a blessed drawing of the Holy Spirit leading to true repentance.  There, at the foot of the cross, the door opens to the power of the cross:  forgiveness of sin and deliverance from the power of sin.

New power, through the life of Christ within us, new position – the right standing before His throne, and new peace, through Christ “which surpasses all understanding”…..God awaits us.  And Jesus declares,

“…I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”   

door with snow pinterest

 

The REAL Independence Day

We all look to celebrate, especially as this world and our personal lives may hold such cause to lament. In fact, I often pray for reasons to celebrate, for laughter in my soul, for joy that makes my feet dance and arms punch the air.

But the bad thing about man made ‘celebrations’ is that whatever you bring into it, sadness, defeat, loss, sickness, disappointment, you will end up bringing out with you at the end. Man-made celebrations tantalize the flesh with sensory pleasures….fireworks, food, drink and parades….but are powerless to reach the needs of the heart or release us from what really oppresses.

It is our heart and soul that long for victory and celebration.

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Momentary pleasures are but a distraction

To celebrate freedom from England or any other government can never replace the true cause for man to rejoice – the freedom to approach God, the freedom from sin, from guilt and all that would separate us from our Heavenly Father.

“But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”  II Corinthians 3:17

The Bible says that the devil blinds us, taking us captive to do his will; that sin is a bondage, a prison, from which only our Savior and Deliverer can destroy.

I pray that on this Independence Day and every day our families, our neighbors, our community and country will look deeper for a true reason to celebrate. Lord, stir our hearts away from the temporal.   Let us rejoice as heaven rejoices, when a sinner – anyone separated from God – turns from his ways and trusts the Lord Jesus for forgiveness and new life. When a person is not just born into this world but born again into the family of God, that is cause for us to dance and shout!

May we see the Holy Spirit move and save those around us and celebrate as the Kingdom of God advances – freeing us from all that would ensnare and oppress – and leading us boldly to the Throne of God.

“For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”  Colossians 1:13-14

Recognize These Birth Pains?

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Drag Queen Story Hour NYPL – in many other states as well

This above scenario troubles me in several ways. Firstly, while people have the right to live as they choose (within the law) there is grief in seeing a man happily dressed as a woman. Secondly, what could be more disturbing than celebrating this in a public venue of children? The answer – that parents, guardians of the children, are offering up their children to a value system, validating the very morals that offend God, and robbing them of the innocence that could be theirs.

There is no ‘freedom of choice’ when children are prevented from considering the choice to know God and His ways. Parents will undoubtedly shield them from the heart changing stories of Noah, Abraham, King David, the Apostles and our Savior Jesus Himself.  Most children today do not hear of God’s love, so costly and powerful but emotionally feed on stories like Worm Loves Worm, a story depicting same sex marriage.

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Like child sacrifice to Moloch, here spiritual lives are freely given up….

Finally, the logical challenge goes forth, like a warped altar call….

 

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With enthusiastic invite he asks, “Who wants to be a drag queen when they grow up?”

What could be worse than children being indoctrinated with such sexual values? Worse than the parents bringing them to such an ‘altar’?

A silent – or complicit – or unloving church.

“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” (Matt 24:12)

When Jesus describes the “birth pains” in the end times before His return, there seems to be a causal relationship between ‘lawlessness’ and the believers’ waning love. Betrayals, persecutions, and apostasy –an increase in wickedness – turns the love of many cold.

Here is the saddest part of the Drag Queen library presentations: most of the church has lost her grief and love for the souls that have no hope without God.

Much of the western church ‘avoids’ persecution or betrayal by ‘hiding in the world’, camouflaged by the same values. Others resist controversy and conflict by avoiding the bold truths that would convict man’s heart toward repentance.  For followers of Christ, the ‘cost’ of proclaiming the truth rises exponentially with wickedness.

There is usually no love found in ‘protesting sin’. It’s hard to find a precedent for it in scripture. But loving that ‘woman at the well’ doesn’t mean ignoring her sin or colluding with her sin. It means having a grieving love for her soul – a love that can’t resist telling her the truth so she might repent.

The ‘silent church’ does not represent the Jesus Christ. The ‘protesting church’ does not represent Jesus either. Worse is the ‘compromising church’ which Jesus warns He will vomit out of His mouth.

These ‘birth pains’ are coming faster and more painful. The devil laughs as men dress as women, men marry men and children are led into sexual and gender confusion. He may even laugh when we protest, boycott or petition these cultural changes. But Satan never laughs at the burdened heart crying out to God for the lost, deceived and confused. The devil isn’t laughing at the pleas and petitions to almighty God to deliver man from captivating sins.

I don’t want to join these ‘story hours’ but neither do I want to ignore them or protest them. I am grieved at the drag queen, the attentive children at his feet, and the deceived parents who usher their children into this arena. But if we focus our eyes on eternity, our view of all this changes.

All may suffer from these ‘birth pains’ described in Matthew 24, the tribulations that precede Christ’s return,  but only those reconciled with God, who ‘endure until the end’ will have the joy of His return. For the unsaved, ‘birth pains’ will not lead to joy of Christ’s arrival but the dread of meeting Him as Judge.

‘Today’ is always the right time to adjust our hearts and minds increasingly to the heart of our Lord. I pray for a heartfelt burden to plead for all those at ‘story time’. I pray that God reminds me frequently to pray for every ‘story teller’, every child in that audience, and every parent that applauds the ways that offend God.

Lord, I pray that you enlarge my heart toward the things that grieve Yours.  Please share Your burden for souls and lead me in prayer.  Let my prayers be aligned with Your will and be fruitful.  I pray for that ‘story teller’, bring him to a place of conviction, raise up a controversy in his heart.  Save him that he may tell Your stories.  Take away the false peace of those parents and pull back the curtain of deception.  Shake the hearts of families with the truth that, without You, there is no peace, there is no order, there is no hope. 

“But he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:13

Who is God Looking For Now?

“Too bad you missed that prayer meeting – it was so exciting!

I always get a puzzled look from others when I share about the Times Square Church Worldwide prayer meeting.  Prayer meeting? Exciting? The large gathering of multicultural believers, the online fellowships around the world and most importantly, the presence of God make this prayer meeting so exciting.

So encouraging and stirring in fact, I am presenting my notes from Pastor Carter’s message preached during Tuesday’s prayer meeting, 6/20/17:

Thoughts on Faith and Prayer – Who is God Looking For Now?

We are living in a time of immense pain, perhaps unrivaled since the civil war…What type of people is God looking for now?  The kind of people who can push back this pain…In Biblical history when the enemy came in to destroy, God sought for a person or people who would stand in the public place and declare who He is.

Matthew 5:14-16, “You are the light of the world…”

In the time of Judges…people rose up but then fell to laziness, complacency, fell into darkness…God raised up a voice – Gideon.  He didn’t believe or see that he was a ‘mighty man of resources’ because he looked to himself, not the power of God that could  be his…we are like that – not knowing the strength we have in God…when God sends you to do something, His word is all you need to get it done – whatever He’s spoken to your heart…

You don’t need a diploma, resume, credentials…just belief in what God will do!

God sent Gideon to be a light on a hill – and God will give us His torch, smash the jars and cause our light to shine.  All we are to do is declare the victory that is in God, not us!  They made a public declaration of who God is and how our victory is in Him…God brought confusion upon the enemies and they turned on themselves…He used a people whose hearts wanted to honor Him…

What does God need from people today?  What kind of people is He looking for??

Gideon mustered a large army…~ 32,000…God said “reduce it”…first, tell all the fearful to GO HOME.  Twenty thousand men went home while 10,000 remained.  Fear says, “God is not able.”  God said, ‘those who are afraid to go public – send them home.  They are not a light on a hill’.  

The worst thing that God can ever tell us:  “I have a battle to win – go home!”

That doesn’t mean we don’t struggle with fear…we are not called to an absence of fear but to overcome fear.

God continued to decrease Gideon’s army…took them by the water…water always represents the Holy Spirit.  Then sent them to a hill – He wanted a people who would venture out, willing to go public.  And He looks today for a people to speak on His behalf to the addicted, the afflicted, the marginalized, radicalized, the broken…This is where the victory is…The devil has done all he can to silence the church.  By God’s grace we’re going to say what God gives us to say…

We are the light that God has set upon this present hill…we must proclaim, ‘It is the power of God that you need in your life – the power of God will heal your home…the power of God to break your addictions…to give you a sound mind…it is the power of God that brings clarity, a future for your children…It is the power of God alone alone that brings healing to a nation…brings unity to every race, every culture, every people…

The church will rise and be counted…like Gideon’s tiny army against a huge army…we must stand and declare to a lost generation that there IS salvation, there IS a Savior, there is a heaven and a hell…and a bridge called ‘the cross’ between the two… 

The church is going to rediscover her identity in these last days, by the grace of Almighty God!

I am willing to stand and be counted among the ‘foolish’…oh, to the Midianites it must have looked like an insane battle plan…300 people against 135,000…what a site! You had to know God was in that!…

And I know that God is with us when we choose to openly declare His name and talk about His victory…with the compassion of God in the center of our being, we call the lost from every place to His wonderful plan of free salvation and the promise of power to live a new life….

Who wants to go?  Who wants to go to the top of the hill?

Whether you are afflicted, addicted, filled with sorrow, whatever your circumstance – you too are invited to come to that hill called Calvary, invited to receive the strength of God, have your sins forgiven, receive divine purpose in your life…you too are called to hold up your torch and say, ‘follow me as I follow Christ! I know where victory is!  I know where love is, where healing is…it’s all at the cross of Christ!’

My prayer is, Pastor Carter declared,

“Wherever You call me to go, whatever You call me to do…may I have the privilge of being an ambassador of Your power…Let me not boast of myself but boast of You, Your cross Your victory…let me be a light in this dark generation…”  

 

Oh Lord, let that be the cry of my heart too!

What about you?

 

http://www.tscnyc.org/webcasts/tuesday-7pm/

or find the message later in sermon queue for Worldwide prayer, http://www.tscnyc.org

Better, join us in Times Square or online, Tuesdays 7pm….

 

Restricting God – Let Me Count the Ways…

Many of us are frequently stirred and humbled by the testimonies of missionaries and servants of God. From Biblical times to present day, men and women proclaim the power of God as He leads them to hidden places of suffering. Surrendered vessels who seem totally insignificant become agents of Most High God, affecting lives for eternity.

And we want that too! Who wouldn’t want their temporary life here to matter in God’s Kingdom? Who, knowing the Lord, wouldn’t want all His purposes and intentions come to fruition? And so we too cry out, perhaps at an altar, perhaps in our private prayer….

“Lord, use me, send me! I want my life to matter, to count…”

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THEN our flesh speaks ‘sense’ into our cry,

“BUT Lord…”
….don’t send me any place hot, you know how I hate the heat. I would be miserable
….you know I couldn’t go very far, you know my limits, I have responsibilities…
….don’t send me to blah-blah, I could never eat that food, and the bugs are ginormous. Agh, Lord send someone else there
….send me to truly needy people, not to those blah-blah; they’re always trying to rip off the system
….I would serve in a hospital ministry but the germs… and who really knows if those comatose people can even hear the Gospel?
….prisons are, well, dangerous. I’m too old….I’m too young
….please don’t call me to serve in my own neighborhood,  that’s too boring!
….if I go there, if I do that – wouldn’t I lose everything?

By the time we’re finished we’re no longer stirred…we’re discouraged!

Underneath is unbelief  which doesn’t really restrict God but restricts us from grasping His best for our lives.

American Christianity may have a foundational flaw embedded from our culture of ‘rugged individualism’ and ‘opportunity’ and ‘freedom’. We defend the rights to excel, possess, invest and express.  True Christianity smashes that self-reliant lifestyle. No one naturally wants to die to ‘self’ but when we resist complete surrender, resist the cross of Christ, we risk missing His perfect call upon our lives.

“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”  Jonah 2:8

I for one am not at the place of total surrender. I want to be though, especially in these last days where prophecy points to the soon return of our Lord. I hope for a deeper burden for the lost, not stoked by fleeting and temporal emotions, but one birthed by the Holy Spirit which defies my emotions and intellect.

Would anyone join me in prayer?

“Lord, thank you for saving me and abiding within me. I believe that, no matter what failures mark my life, no matter how ordinary or limited I perceive my life, You are not limited and You can never fail. I pray for a calling, a heavenly burden that will overshadow and nullify every fear and obstacle. Help me to trust You, Lord. Don’t let me imagine remote and ‘fantastic’ things while missing the ‘woman at the well’. Loosen my grip on the things of this world and help me to walk with a view of eternity. In Jesus name, Amen.”

“God promises not just to save us but to give us a full and meaningful life.”  

“We are called to be a testimony to the world that God is alive.”

(Pastor Carter Conlon, Times Square Church)

 

 

When Good Works End In Spiritual Ashes

The abortion epidemic plaguing Armenia should be deeply disturbing, especially to Armenians. As spotlighted in the media, the prevalence of gender selection abortion alarmed organizations such as the United Nations and, subsequently, the Armenian government as a demographic crisis would soon be unavoidable.

The median number of abortions for women over 40 is eight, and some women have as many as 20 abortions in a lifetime.” (12/20/2011, lifesitenews.com) Even worse, with the availability of abortion pills, costing less than $1, women might remember medical abortions but many cannot remember how many times they have had drug induced abortions. Gender selection is the compelling, deciding factor in many of these abortions. So compelling and highly pressured, these women are opting for late term illegal abortions.

Yes, a demographic crisis is bad. But what I have realized stepping further into the issue is worse. Just weeks following my article in the Armenian Mirror Spectator, 2/18/17 Armenia’s Hidden Genocide, I was encouraged to learn of a presentation at the United Nations focusing on this specific problem, Prenatal Sex Selection in Armenia. World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization, led this meeting. I spoke briefly with the World Vision representative from Armenia to express my concerns and ask about their interventions.

“We work closely with the Armenian Apostolic Church”, she stated.

“Do you work at all with other Christian churches, Armenian evangelical churches or ministries? Do you ever have prayer meetings or present the gospel to any of these women?”

“No, we don’t do things like that. We partner with the Armenian Apostolic Church, they have the power.”

Yes, I silently agreed, they have power – political, financial, and social clout. The Armenian Apostolic Church could have eradicated this culture of abortion long ago.

“But don’t you see how priests go into these very hospitals and clinics, bestowing ceremonies and blessings while knowing that abortions are performed there?”

The representative smiled as though this were a funny irony instead of a tragic reality.

“We’ve been working together for 28 years” she added with enthusiasm.

I was aghast, 28 years and women are more desperate than ever!

Although I wanted to run out at this juncture, my husband and I stayed, front row, hoping to learn of some unexpected Christian intervention. However, the singular issue for World Vision and others there was gender selective abortions which, they noted, became widely prevalent with availability of sonograms. The presentation outlined the challenges and strategic interventions to resolve the demographic crisis: changing social norms and restructuring gender roles.

Sonograms did not start this problem, they were the flashpoint in an ongoing tragic lifestyle.

The ‘social gospel’, deeply rooted in organizations such as World Vision, is gaining popularity in megachurches and ministries. At face value no one objects to the mission of providing clean water, food for the hungry, or defending the oppressed. However, while compassion and good works are fruits of living faith, they were not Christ’s mission and can neither be ours if we are following Him.

Jesus, whose name means “the Lord saves” came to “save His people from their sins” (Matt 1:21). The heart of Christian ministry is deliverance  – that is why Jesus is called our Messiah, Savior, and Deliverer.

“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work”(I John 3:8).

What is the devil’s work? Since the beginning, Satan strives to sow rebellion against God into the heart of man, keeping man in the bondage of sin and despair. Scriptures resound throughout with the truth, “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ” (Romans 6:23) From Genesis to Revelation only one course of action reconciles us to Him and opens the gate of life: the turning point of repentance. Only through repentance can we begin any journey in life with the Lord and, only from that humbling place can we hope to obey Christ’s essential call, “Pick up your cross and follow me.”

Our total inadequacy keeps us totally dependent on the Holy Spirit of God. “Without me you can do nothing” declared Jesus.

While initial efforts years ago may have begun with prayer and compassion, the social gospel is now well fueled with generous funding of supporters, the collaboration of agencies and religions and the strategic planning of educated participants. Exciting events and team efforts, walks, races, fundraisers, outreaches, and community engagements unleash the ‘human can-do spirit’. Sadly, there is no need for the Holy Spirit, the One to whom we are called to surrender.

“Who Gets to Say What’s Possible?  You!” (from social gospel volunteer page)

The social gospel is fueled by the popular spirit, not the Holy Spirit. The popular spirit drives us to that which the world will affirm, reward, and esteem. The embrace and accolades of others also elevates our self-worth and confidence. But Christianity did not elevate the lives of the apostles nor most of Christ’s followers then or now. There is no self-worth or worldly esteem in the cross we are called to carry. If the Holy Spirit indwells us He will compel us to deliver that which the world rejects: the call of God to repent and walk in holiness, the only call with eternal value.

The social gospel cares about the oppressed people and communities of the world, as does the Red Cross and Crescent Cross. The danger is, however, that social gospel ministries present a ‘false Christ’ – one that is not grieved at sin and so came to die for sin. They present a god who is satisfied with alleviating the suffering of others, even if they die without salvation. The social gospel, like the spirit of this world, never wants us to consider hell or proclaim the soon return of Christ as Judge upon mankind.

Having lost sight of Christ’s mission, the social gospel is growing into an inclusive movement for those pursuing justice for immigrants, LGBT, and even tacit support for abortion rights – as long as it is not gender selective. When the “Truth that sets men free” – free from sin and free to approach God, loses the place of supremacy, good works turn into spiritual ashes before God.

“If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” John 15:6

The Hopeless and Futile Life of St. Barnacle and His Followers!

Saint Barnacle of Galilee is not well known but his legacy lives on throughout the generations, sadly continuing on today. He lived as peer to the Lord’s disciples in fact, he was alongside the fisherman Peter. That is when he first heard the Lord speak. Jesus’ sermons captivated this Barnacle and he soon decided to follow Him. However, Christ’s messages became more and more convicting and difficult to accept. The call to “pick up your cross” greatly interfered with his lifestyle and ambitions. Realizing though that Jesus is the Messiah, Saint Barnacle never really turned away but established a place outside the inner circle, farther from the ‘hem of His garment’ but close enough to hear at least the good messages. When the loaves and fish were multiplied, St. Barnacle and his followers were there towards the back. They missed parts of the sermon but did receive a meal.

When the Lord preached from the boat, St. Barnacle and his followers were the closest – they lodged themselves on the side of Christ’s boat but unfortunately, as barnacles they  were unable to ever leave – ever close, but unable to see Jesus. They could hear His preached word but never His intimate disclosures. When storms came, St. Barnacle and his followers were stuck on the outer side of the boat, unable to enter in and grasp a hold of the Lord. They never knew His peace.  They were distant when the Lord was crucified, and worse, they heard about the resurrection but did not witness it. They learned of the Upper Room but could neither receive nor conceive of the Holy Spirit’s outpour of might and power.

Saint Barnacle, perhaps not a saint at all, died on the side of Jesus’ boat as did many that gathered around him. A few followers however did manage to break away before that boat smashed against a rock. They continue to congregate today on the outskirts of ‘inner church circles’, never really entering in, never allowing Christ to ‘interfere’ with their lives, never really seeing the cross or accepting the call to die to self.

barnacles III

You may go places as a barnacle but never hear the Captain’s call.

Entire churches of barnacles gather today, content to live in the flow of the world,  using pearls of Holy Scripture to bolster and  coach their ambitions and goals.

“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their inching ears want to hear.” (II Timothy 4:3)

I pray that we turn from preaching that builds us up.  The Holy Spirit is seeking to dwell within us that we may truly walk as the Body of Christ in this world. His candidates are God’s representatives in this world – those inclined to “pick up their cross” and follow Jesus.

Proximity and familiarity could not save those outside Noah’s ark.

In these last days, noted by Jesus “as the days of Noah”, we are spinning rapidly toward His return as water quickly swirls toward the end of a funnel. Now is the time to consider and affirm our stand before the Lord. Have we truly entered into a life with Him? Are we His sheep that hear His voice?

I challenge myself and friends, resist the clamor of the world as it spins toward judgment. Let us not be bystanders in church, content with a pep talk from scripture. Let us find the flow of the Holy Spirit, where He is working, and pray to enter in. If your church does not preach the full Gospel, including true repentance and coming judgment, pray for your pastor, pray for guidance and depend on the Lord’s leading.

Barnacles never enter in but live in perpetual yet futile proximity and attachment to the boat. The intimacy, power, and presence of God is forever out of their reach….yes, forever.

Our short lives on earth today determine our place in eternity. There is no salvation found in proximity to the Lord.  We can all be stuck like barnacles, powerless in sin, complacency, and confusion.  But the Lord’s will is for us to enter into His life – He waits for us to turn.

I pray oh Lord, scrape us off from the sides of this world and draw us into Your Life, live through us that our lives might be blameless and truly matter for Your Kingdom, through whatever ‘good works you have prepared in advance for us.’ (Ephesians 2:10)

“…God Sends Them a Powerful Delusion..”

“They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” (II Thessalonians 2:10b and 11)

No matter how you turn these verses, the core meaning is fearful – God is taking action that will seal the doom of those who refuse to love the truth. Note, the verse does not point to those who don’t know the truth, but those who refuse to love the truth. This chapter speaks of both apostasy – “the rebellion”- and the antichrist, “man of lawlessness”. Many people, believers and unbelievers alike, lend an ongoing and lively curiosity to the arrival of the antichrist, sizing up various politicians, religious leaders, and world leaders. Many take great care to somehow ‘discover’ who this diabolical leader will be. However, few Christians are lamenting over the “great falling away” spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24.

Pastor David Wilkerson spoke of this ‘powerful delusion’ and the’ lie’ which the fallen will believe: “…the ‘lie’ is the same one Eve believed, ‘you can sin and get away with it. God will not punish you.’” I believe that the seeds of this lie grow and bear fruit as they are watered by love of self and a fearless propensity to contort the word of God. A demonic empowerment, grossly mistaken for anointing, emboldens church leadership to wrap Scripture around human logic and reasoning…“You can get away with sin, God will not punish you, He’s a God of mercy…wait a minute, is this really a sin? ‘This’ is love…love can’t be sin so this cannot be a sin, therefore God would not punish this and, moreover, God agrees with this. This is a good thing! Yes, that’s right, we should celebrate!”

“’Delusion’ is stronger than deception. Deception means that a person can be fooled about something. Delusion is a way of life in which one is perpetually deceived. People under delusion harden their heart permanently.” Dr. Grant Richison, Verse by Verse Commentary website

A tremendous amount of money, public relations, political backing and cultural grooming has been invested into transforming homosexuality from unnatural and ungodly to innate and celebrated. Is it ungodly? Even a spandex Bible could not stretch the truth far enough. Is it unnatural? Can anyone really insist, “it is natural for a man to put…” no, it isn’t.

The power of this agenda further creates a cultural divide as it asserts a wrong accusation:  if you’re not aligned with us, you are haters.  What?  Any loving parent – any loving person in fact- knows that love can withstand and exist within disagreement and differences.

As a parole officer I once supervised a middle aged masculine lesbian who lived with her ‘wife’. She was hostile to law enforcement which was greatly heightened toward me when I violated her parole. After spending time in jail, she was released to my caseload again, much to my dismay. I was amazed however when she came back into my office….her whole countenance had changed, she had a true peace. She shared with me, “I came to know the Lord in jail” and described her baptism and Bible study. She left the ‘gay’ lifestyle. I was in awe of the Lord’s transforming power as every week she presented as more and more feminine until she was wearing dresses.  She often shared about the life changes God brought about in her, lamenting one day, “How could I have done such disgusting things?”

Today’s apostate church would have celebrated her fallen state, validated her sin and obscured the life transforming power of Christ’s salvation and deliverance.  

The sinful seed in the demonic challenge, “did God really say” – is brought to utter fruition by the delusion sent by God. While the Lord invites the sinner and mercifully chastises the carnal Christian, there is little hope for those who rush forth to misrepresent and slander the word of the Sovereign and Holy God. Who can deliver you if God Himself sends a powerful delusion upon you, a precursor to condemnation?

There is a dark net launched and hovering over the world in preparation of the antichrist. The corruption of entire denominations facilitates the ‘coming together’ of many into one faith, with compromise as its cornerstone. True believers in the west will be tested as the Lord calls upon us to “stand”, “watch” and “pray”. “Let us not give up meeting together” but commit to encouraging, admonishing and ‘loving one another deeply’ in the Lord. As is the Body of Christ elsewhere in the world, we will be hated and ostracized by unbelievers and worse – by those who have fallen away. Those who have known the faith have the greater vantage point to oppose and betray. But the Lord is our Defender, our Advocate, and our High Priest.

May we stand faithful in the shadow of God’s Son, together under the authority of His sovereign Word and be that ‘one’…

“This is the one I esteem; he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at My word.” (Isaiah 66:2)