Category Archives: Gifts

Real Hope

after thousands of years humans still worship themselvesAs her husband packs his bags, the FLOTUS declared yesterday that: “America is now a country without hope.”

What an incredible life lesson about placing our hope in a person, any person. Political campaigns are designed to do just that. To rally the atheists to fill the Jesus-shaped hole in their hearts with some candidate charlatan. Are we just going to do that again? Does a new president just mean a new golden calf? I hope not. Continue reading Real Hope

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Profound Faith

Profound FaithWho doesn’t think of moving mountains when we think of faith? For human eyes a mountain flying though the air on its way to be cast into the sea would be truly profound. A person confirmed dead living again – to human eyes – is truly profound. Yet, imagine a world with mountains flying around at whim and millennia old men comparing their multiple causes of deaths. Continue reading Profound Faith

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A Good Tree Cannot Bear Bad Fruit

good trees don't bear bad fruitA good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” – Matthew 7:18 (KJV)

Picture Jesus speaking King James’ English for a second. Ok, stop. Funny stuff.

So much of our understanding of scripture is skewed by our lack of understanding of primitive living. I say primitive with the utmost respect. In Jesus’ time, and for thousands of years up until just recently, it would be common knowledge how to provide for oneself. How to get food, what was safe to eat, what wasn’t. Continue reading A Good Tree Cannot Bear Bad Fruit

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A Response to Bibliolatry

honest abe on the internetOn 4/14 at 7:07 AM Jeff wrote in response to the 96 Theses statement:

“Again: Why are Paul’s miscellaneous and often random organizational precepts, which in fact, if not in practice, have long been obsolete and dead in themselves…”

…his full, unedited rebuke is available there: and can be summed up as: “What we need is reformation from the likes of you and your ilk.

This is my response to his zealous rebuke.

Dear Jeff, Continue reading A Response to Bibliolatry

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Sabbath Day

Sabbath day restAs my family worshiped with music this morning I heard something new to me. As the music peaked and dipped, each progression building and building to an apex holding there briefly, and plummeting away only to repeat I got a glimpse of the analogy of life that is man’s pleasure with music.

My young daughter was pouring her heart out, seemingly capable of remaining ecstatic indefinitely despite the songs going up and down, up and down. My favorite part of any song, for years, has been the building up. Each similar progression more passionate than before until plateauing with excitement.

Human enjoyment of music seems to revolve around some universal law within all of us. Sure different cultures have different preferences, but today, just now, it seems to me that music comes from something spiritual. A knowledge deep within us, that echos the ebbs and flows of life. That reminds us that our flesh is not made for, nor can it withstand, the joy that never ends.

This will not turn into another “without evil there’d be no good” deception. However, I suspect that what I noticed this morning, is that life as we know it always has been and always will be characterized by “wind and waves”.

Today marks the 3rd or 4th week that I’ve been “making my body a slave” (1 Corinthians 9:27) from Friday evening to Saturday evening. This has been every bit as difficult as breaking any addiction or pushing through any challenge that I’ve experienced. I’m literally addicted to working, to being entertained, and even to jumping back and forth between the two while seldom being content with which to do when. The Sabbath day command, demonstrated by God at the creation of the world, and commanded via Moses in the 10 Commandments, is an important counterweight to the inundation of the modern world.

Here is not where I declare that the name of the day is critical to this observance. What I will say, is that “going to church” has never really seemed like an equivalent to the 4th command in my opinion. In fact, going to church really only resulted in swinging back and forth like a pendulum between wanting work and wanting entertainment. Perhaps that’s why there’s music, then preaching, then music, and maybe more preaching, peppered with praying, and then music, then preaching…

God got my attention about this weeks ago when I realized that so little of what I worry about is important. This problem was so bad that the things that were important weren’t getting much attention at all. The cycle is ridiculous. In the midst of my frustration with my own animal instincts I felt a strong conviction that I can and should work hard, but I must be able to stop when the time is right. I must acknowledge my Father, and that The Sabbath was made for me, not me for it (Mark 2:27) because I must rest between peaks. I must have enough faith to be still on a regular basis. I must pause and reflect and every week that I fail to do that makes the next less likely.

The same way that music takes us up to a moment that we cannot remain in, so can 6 days become a building and exciting overture to an incredible climax that cannot last more than a day, but should be cherished while it lasts, only to repeat the week again like the verses of a song. When Friday preparation becomes a bridge leading into yet another beautiful chorus, life is a song.

This idea (and some thoughts from a dear friend a year ago) really convinced me that my flesh cannot exist on a spiritual apex for long any more than the exuberance of a worship chorus can last all week. This reality about human existence has been described in so many ways, perhaps best in the mythological phoenix, that lasts for mere moments in a blaze of glory.

blaze of glory, flesh cannot exist in spiritual joy for long

Similar to the pendulum back-and-forth between joy and the mundane, I’ve often considered even the joy I experience to be meaningless for the simple fact that it is so temporary. While it’s true that we all seek eternal joy, it’s important that we realize that our flesh is incapable of it. It’s drastically important.

Here’s where things are going to get a bit nerdy. You see early in the 2nd century a movement arose among Christians called “Montanism” named after its founder Montanus.  Montanus had started out as a priest of an ancient cult that worshiped a “goddess” they called Cybele. Worship of Cybele included: “…orgiastic ceremonies in which her frenzied male worshipers were led to castrate themselves, following which they became ‘Galli’ or eunuch-priests of the goddess. Cybele eventually came to be viewed as the Mother of all gods and the mistress of all life.”

After Jesus’ resurrection, just about the time Montanus “converted” to Christianity, another tradition had become prominent among the orgiastic worshipers of Cybele. An initiation that included the cutting down of a pine tree, after which the initiates buried it and worked themselves into a frenzy for a night after which they raised it up again.

You may be wondering where this nerdy dive into a peculiar history of early Christendom relates to The Sabbath, and I’ll get to that in a shake, but maybe you’re making the connection already? Montanus’ infiltration into Christianity brought with it a distinct discontentment with the “boring” worship of the early Church. In summary, he tiptoed around orthodox teaching as he gathered a flock. Emphasizing acceptable, but eye-raising practices such as “new prophecies”, “holy rolling”, and speaking in tongues. His very first followers were “prophetesses” (Prisca and Maximilla) who gained a lot of attention with their “ecstatic prophecy” whereby the “orgiastic frenzy” characteristics of Cybele worship infiltrated Christian circles leading to several hundred years of binge & bust “charismaticsm” among otherwise meek and humble followers of Christ. Galatia is specifically noted as one of the places that this created a large divide.

As Montanus gained clout he began paying people (a practice forbidden up until this time among Christian churches) to teach his ideas, which had evolved via false prophecy to include a firm belief that Christ would return on a mountain in Phrygia and that women could leave their husbands so long as they join Montanism. Some more ardent opponents of Pentecostalism have gone so far as to refer to it as “neo-Montanism”.

Whether or not the Assemblies of God necessarily worship Cybele, or were founded by Montanus, would be a matter of blatant dogma that I will not descend to. Even in the 2nd century the early practices of the Montanists were accepted by the Christian orthodoxy. When we recognize that church attendance does not equate to spiritual identity then it’s fairly certain that many true believers would be part of either movement. However, it’s also important to note the specific weaknesses these movements exploit. A weakness common to all. Discontentment.

Day-after-day, week-after-week, Christians behave much like non-Christians in our pursuit of success and prosperity. So much so, that there’s really not much difference anymore. Non-believers go to the country club, believers go to church. The kind of passion that stirs in seeds that fall on shallow soil (Matthew 13:5) can and often does lead to an expectation that each spiritual high experienced needs to be followed by more and more, bigger and bigger, with no end. There is the distinct temptation to go bigger and further with each time around. As Jesus points out, they sprout up “quickly”.

The Sabbath, is a purposeful pause. If we focus all of our efforts on sprouting leaves and branches, and none of our efforts on deep roots, we all risk the manic exasperation of a complete basket case. Conditioning our minds to expect more and bigger, louder, and flashier. Something in modern times exacerbated by the effect of television on our brain development.

Our brains have become addicted to stimulation at an unprecedented rate. Even the worshipers of Cybele weren’t as addicted to extremes as modern humans. These extremes may seem like drive and hunger and passion, but they are more chains for those who are decieved into thinking they are nothing if they aren’t louder and more flamboyant than everyone else.

The charismatic movement boasts the largest meeting attendance of almost any other club. Some rival professional sports in their ability to fill a stadium on a Sunday, under the guise of Sabbath observance. Yet, we still know, that Jesus said:

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
– Matthew 7:13-14

So are we to believe that the most popular movement is the most correct one? I for one believe that’s a risky proposition that defies Christ Himself. Instead, as for me and my house, we’ll look to original prophecies rather than hunger for new ones. We’ll be content with being small, and let Christ be great. Call it old fashioned, but Saturday will be the day of rest for us, to break up the unending bombardment of “orgiastic frenzy” that characterizes modern society. After all of that, if our Heavenly Father wants something supernatural from us, then we trust His anointing will come in His timing, and not by our orchestration.

“…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
-Joshua 24:15

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A Christian without persecution is like a bird without wings.

Bird without wings“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” – James 4:4

Western Christians have become dangerously accustomed  to comfort. So accustomed that many are ashamed to say much even in a church Bible study. At some point, somewhere, many a theology gets skewed by incorporating a lie that persecution, trials, and storms in a Christian’s life means that Christian has done something wrong. The Bible seems to say the exact opposite; that trials are a hallmark of Christian life and persecution a badge of honor:

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  – Matthew 5:11-12

So why do so many Christians avoid conflict like the plague? Is such a thing compatible with Christianity at all? Can we follow Christ without taking up our own cross? I contend that it’s not likely.

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” – Luke 9:23

“But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” – Matthew 10:33

Being the sort myself that doesn’t shy away from charged topics I’ve heard the: “you’re not Jesus” line enough times to realize that a lot of people are waiting around until they become perfect to begin to be willing to speak up for Christ. Which really only means they’ll never speak up. Where does this “you’re not Jesus” line come from anyway? Sure, plenty of Bible writers recognized that “He must become greater, and I must become less…” but those are the same writers that were preaching Christ regardless of the consequences.

Even while Stephen was stoned in the street after saying things that those people did not want to hear, Stephen was not perfect. Nor was anyone but Jesus Himself. So the idea that someone must be completely blameless and perfect to experience Matthew 5:11 persecution is silly. We humans are clumsy (a great song about this) and terribly flawed. Our hearts are consistently deceitful. This flesh and blood “bag of bones” that God gave us for a short time is as corrupt as the dust it was made from, but that doesn’t change the fact that within this “temple” is a “lamp-stand” that is the image of God that He shared with His children. Our Heavenly Father loves us anyway.

He loves us and He expects us to follow in Christ’s footsteps to Holiness. That means speaking truth, being willing to be disliked, perhaps even mocked, or maybe even sued? What are these threats compared to the stonings, beheadings, and crucifixions that our brothers & sisters have faced? Here in Western Christianity some are more afraid of someone rolling their eyes at them than Daniel was afraid of the lions’ den, or Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who faced the fiery furnace. What happened!!!!?????

Well, firstly we are just too comfortable. We have thermostats, indoor plumbing, cars… We live daily face-to-face with deceptions that tell us that life is supposed to be comfortable and easy. It’s not, especially for Christians. If everyone who call themselves “Christian” were speaking up for Christ’s commands in the face of today’s threats, our nation would be a different place. Instead, for the sake of comfort, Christians cower. Where are the Davids or Josephs of the 21st Century?

“Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.” – 1 Samuel 17:34-36

Where is that kind of courage? I sure can’t claim to have it. I may not cower at church meetings but in society I’m afraid. I’m afraid that my finances, freedom, even my family will be threatened if I share “too much” about Jesus. Even when I don’t cower at a church meeting, that doesn’t mean I’m not afraid of all of the emotional heartache I’ll be strapped with for a long period after. That sadness stinks, but despite the doubts we should remember that we’re in good company. Even Elijah lamented the outcome of bravely proclaiming the word of the Lord, and Joseph suffered for it too…

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” – Genesis 50:20

Who doesn’t think that Joseph was persecuted by his brothers? Put yourself in his shoes, sitting at the bottom of a well, or chained to a wagon train headed into slavery. Having bragged to his brothers about how they would all bow down to him. “Why did I say something so stupid? Just because God gives me a dream doesn’t mean I have to go announcing it to everyone within earshot. Especially not my older brothers… especially not about them bowing down to me…”

Oh, but it gets worse. Now he’s being carried off in shackles for having not been willing to sleep with his master’s wife. “How terribly unjust that I’m a slave in the first place, how could God love me or care about me at all? Now this lady wants me to do something like this? I could have gotten some revenge but instead I ran away and now I’m arrested for ‘rape’? Why do I even try?”

I hope you’re starting to see my point. Nobody told us that we need to wait until we’re perfect and blameless to face our own Goliaths. In fact, waiting around only means that we’re missing the point. Life is short. Even as the King of Israel, with all of the wealth and luxury that went with it, David laments throughout the Psalms of the enemies, trials, and pain that he lived with daily:

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. – Psalm 32:3-4

My prayer for any that may read this is that we’d all be willing to face giants. Not sitting in front of the TV on Sunday afternoon watching highly paid athletes imitate battle. Instead that we’d get in the fray of real-life. It can and will be every bit as grueling as an NFL line of scrimmage.  In fact more-so, because there are no safety nets, helmets, or pads in the battle against principalities and powers. Even the referees are usually our enemies. Just ask Joseph, or David, or pretty much any of the writers of the Bible.  Can you name one whose life consisted of constant comfort? The reason you cannot, is because a Christian without persecution is like a bird without wings.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33


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rag·a·muf·fin     raɡəˌməfən/

a person, typically a child, in ragged, dirty clothes

raggamuffinAren’t we ever ragged? Prodigal sons whose very birth was a mess only to be followed by mess after mess and mistake after mistake.

It is tempting to assume that since society “loves us” that we are above average, maybe even exceptional. What if we always pay our bills on time? What if we earn tons of money and regularly donate to charity? No matter how upstanding a citizen we are, we are lacking. In fact, the more upstanding we are perhaps the more lacking as well.

Matthew 23:23 says: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”

Dill and cumin huh? Impressive? In that society it was. Everyone could see them doing what society admired. Today Jesus may have said something more like this: “Woe to you, progressives and liberals, you hypocrites! You have a pink ribbon bumper sticker and donate to Hillary’s campaign. But you have neglected the real matters that please me–justice, mercy (especially to babies) and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, and not invented the former.”

Society’s standards are subjective morality. They are humanistic inventions that change with the times. Pink ribbons represent “a cure for cancer” that has yet to be discovered. Ironic isn’t it? That society is looking for healing and celebrates the fact that they haven’t found it? Isn’t it incredible these days that for a large portion of society if you do not agree that a woman should be allowed to murder her own child then you are a “bad person”? Let’s face it, even being a foster parent doesn’t have much to do with “widows & orphans” or even Jesus for that matter. Instead, it’s more about allowing oneself to be a tool for “society” (code for a few elites who think they know what’s best for everyone else).

If you aren’t convinced yet that society’s standards are corrupt, then just consider recent actions that our “omniscient” government has undertaken in the last month:

1.  Determined that no crime is committed when the IRS director directs the IRS to antagonize and criminally pursue any organization that she is ideologically opposed to.

2. US aircraft bomb Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan.

3. Sign an illegal agreement with Iran to allow them to again be enriched by international trade despite their leadership proclaiming: “Death to America.”

I could keep going, but you get the point. Society’s idea of “morality” is not moral at all. Instead it is selfish “thank you for loving me and always making me feel good about myself” stuff. Absolutely secular humanism. Love is NOT about making me feel good about the things I do that harm myself and others. Yet to society it is.

Therefore, I again contend that we are ALL raggamuffins. Especially those of us that don’t feel like raggamuffins.

“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” – Isaiah 64:6

Until we understand this we cannot ever approach God in a way that we’ll be able to hear Him. Even once redeemed, even as beloved children, we still must always recognize grace. Without that our egos are not kept in check and pride makes us deaf to the Holy Spirit.

Our realization that “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” makes us raggamuffins. We are simply not good nor capable – apart from God – of any good. I’m not saying that we should be timid about truth. Abortion is murder. Homosexuality is sin. Nothing about grace should ever water down truth. In fact, our recognition of our own shortcomings is more truth.

What is happening in society is that truth is becoming unpopular. Not only does society prefer to “feel good about myself” but society is at war with truth. It won’t even want you to look in the mirror and see the raggamuffin. Instead society will flatter you and tell you how “important” you are, how “valuable” you are and so long as you deny truth and believe their flattery they’ll treat you that way too. They’ll feel terrible and may even call in an intervention if you dare to accept Isaiah 64:6 or the Gospel of Christ as truth. They’ll do it out of their version of “love” which again really amounts to selfish flattery.

Don’t buy the lie, even if it comes from the pulpit at a church somewhere. All of those selfish things we do daily. Those lies we tell, those sinful thoughts. They are evil. That evil still sways us and because of that we are unworthy of our status of “child of God”. We are unworthy, we are unholy. Christ is worthy, Christ is Holy. When we boast let it be in Christ alone. Only then will we completely rid ourselves of the idolatry of social morality. Only then will we be salt and light in this dark and bland world.

God bless you Raggamuffin!

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“You ain’t Him!” – The paradox of Christ-likeness.

In my 20 years of actively participating in churches, everything from “youth worker” at 18, to “youth pastor” at 20, to “worship leader”, to “missionary”… in all of those years and all of those places I’ve heard, and ashamedly said: “You ain’t Him” more times than I can count. It may be a bit cynical, but at this point in my faith I consider that to be famous last words. Here’s why:

There really is no orthodox question that God wants us to be “Christ-like”, and any reformation that claims otherwise would be amiss. However, within orthodoxy there is imagined and implemented a backdoor to this. That backdoor being that many reserve the right to decide exactly which of Christ’s traits one can demonstrate and other traits that are off-limits as they see fit. Ironically, this leads to them accusing others of not being “Christ-like” when those others are actually imitating Christ quite accurately. If/when an exhorter or prophet crosses this imaginary line they are accused, and if they answer the accusation with examples of Christ doing exactly what they’ve done they are reminded (as though they need to be) that they “Aren’t Him!”

My previous post mentioned the flattery of cons. That kind of flattery is more prevalent within churches than the Christ-likeness that we supposedly value so highly. In short flattery is patently NOT Christ-like. However, it’s forgivable and even desirable, especially among those that fancy themselves in authority over others. Since they are often the beneficiaries of such flattery. Am I the only one that finds unfounded flattery deceptive and downright offensive? I think not. It is right about now that I’d like to quote Paul, not as Christ Himself (since Paul also “ain’t Him”) but as a wise man that experienced first hand the primitive and frustrating process of exhorting other believers: “By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.” Yet somehow those that should know better will imagine everyone but themselves, even those “cruel” and “belligerent” exhorters whose spiritual gifts have not only been deprecated, but ostracized. I haven’t known many exhorters or prophets that could be accused of being “smooth” talkers.

So back to “famous last words.” The major problem with playing the “You ain’t Jesus” card is that it frees the wielder to decide for themselves which of Christ’s traits another is allowed to demonstrate and which they are not. In fact, they’ve made themselves the ultimate authority instead of Christ and set out to make others in their own image and not Christ’s at all. They are making disciples of themselves, not of Christ. This is an impasse, especially when they believe they have authority over you. You have reached a “shake the dust off your feet” (Matt 10:14) moment. Lies and flattery, gossip, and manipulation are all tolerable, but don’t you dare imitate Jesus.

We’ve discussed this “keys to the kingdom” dynamic before as it relates to Bible interpretation. A fallacious but effective technique that deceives others, whether pre-meditated or accidental, this is destructive: “a time is coming when the one who kills you will think he’s serving God.” (John 16:2)

So dear exhorters and prophets, and generally Christ-like people, do not allow others to pull you down to their level by demanding you stroke their egos or worship their partial image of Christ. Non-believers require kid gloves but for other believers to condemn you exercising your man-hands toward them despite their claim of being spiritually superior to you is a sure sign that those who have maneuvered themselves into leadership are dangerously arrogant. Unless God shows you hope for those principalities and powers, and I mean God Himself and not some sudden change of posture meant only to flatter, then do shake the dust off your feet and move on. For every person you spend your time with there is usually someone else that you are not. So don’t be sentimental, just recognize that there is more fertile soil to be found.

Exhorters and prophets are somewhat doomed by human nature to come and go in waves as they wear out their welcome. It’s a natural process that has existed since Adam & Eve hid their nakedness from God Himself. Darkness hates light so: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

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Putting the Con in Confidence.

The con in the word “conman” comes from the word “condfidence”. As we have come to recognize it today, cons are liars who are out to exploit people. In short they are evil.

If you’ve ever heard the saying: “fool me once shame on you” you may have heard the second half: “fool me twice shame on me.” We do have a responsibility before men & God to recognize fakes.

The trick to being a good conmen is being plausible. However just because what they describe may be possible, what makes them deceptive are the facts that they skip over. A common one being, what they offer isn’t usually probable. Think lottery ticket. They sell advice like lottery tickets and exploit hope in the process. There is nothing for them to lose in this process, they cannot, will not, and do not guarantee your success. They don’t even have to print tickets! They just build your confidence. The more confidence they can build the more “con” they can exploit.

Besides the lottery (“it could be you!”), another great example of a con is a company called Amway (formally known as Quixtar, formally known as Alticor formally known as Amway). They’re probably due for another name change soon. Here’s a quick look at conmen at work:

Does it look familiar? Think Church. Unfortunately, there is little soil more “fertile” than the hope of religion. Chant Jeremiah 29:11 or the prayer of Jabez enough times and Christians are all over the hope that comes from promises of success and riches. The catch? It’s a con.

This isn’t yet another criticism of the prosperity gospel, there are plenty of those to be found going back years. John Piper, David Platt… um Jesus. What this is is a warning to be on your guard against “confidence” men who puff others up with strings attached.

The reason Church is a common place to find this is because in Church we “encourage” and “compliment”. It is perfectly good theology to let people know the “good news” and to pat them on the back along their way. We highly value “encouragers” but “exhorters” are “too opinionated” and the prophets get outright ostracized readily. Remember, it’s the prophets that are hated and killed. If prophets are the buzz-killers of the Body of Christ the encouragers are the chocolate, caffeine, even crack. However, those encouragers, who can argue with them?

2 Timothy 4:3 : “For the time will come when people 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 itching ears want to hear.”

Sound familiar? Or how about this?

Luke 6:32: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.”

Of course everyone loves “encouragers” because we’re all sinners, even non-believers are… so we “love” those that “love” us. However Jesus didn’t dwell on this type of “love” much. It comes naturally to everyone. So it stands to reason that we shouldn’t be surprised if nothing supernatural follows behavior so natural as flattery. Yes, flattery. Encouragement’s evil twin.

Conmen thrive on flattery. They appeal to your ego, they appeal to your vanity, and to find an in they can even appeal to your emotions. However, what they often lack is the ability to deal with anything that threatens their image. If a conman gets caught in a lie that he can’t weasle out of he will flee. His intentions were never relationship or love, they were exploitation. They may have even believed that they were serving God and just getting a little bit of “reward” on the side. They should check out a guy named Achan in the Old Testiment who thought a little on the side was innocent.

In fact, let’s all consider Achan for a moment, because there’s a bit of him in all of us. It may be rare to find an actual sheep under the sheep’s clothing nowadays, but when we do it’s an amazing thing. So whether you are fellowshipping with other believers or not, don’t be surprised that it’s rare. Look in the mirror instead. Ask yourself what “reward” you’re trying to get for you time .  Even the smallest little trinket could be a major problem. Become the person that you long to find. To do that will probably require sacrifice, and almost certainly not be financially or socially profitable for you. But that’s when you can smile and say with confidence: “I am not a conman. I am not Achan, I am not robbing God.”

The rewards of sacrifice go to Christ, and He redistributes it as He sees fit. The great “socialist” in the sky & the only one qualified to rule that way.

For those of you that know conmen, recognize that Achan didn’t think what he was doing was terrible either. In fact, it was impossible to pin down the sin without God’s help. Nowadays God isn’t *usually* in the business of swallowing people up with earthquakes. So tread lightly, and test carefully, and bear 100% mercy. We’re not the judge, and we may discover that with God’s help we can rescue our brother from Achan’s fate. Even if you are sinless, you undoubtedly at one point were not. So put yourself in their shoes and be a rescuer not a condemner.

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