There’s a saying that The Church cannot be destroyed from the outside. The point being that if it fails, it fails from the inside. I’ve personally witnessed a lot of these failures. Not just in different churches, but in families, partnerships, workplaces, schools, and other ministries. The culprit can usually be summarized as some combination of a Jezebel spirit and an Ahab spirit. Here’s why. Continue reading Jezebel + Ahab = Fail
1. Atheism IS a religion. The reason atheists get their priorities enforced by the government, despite being a loud minority, is because they claim to not be subject to the “separation of church and state” by choosing a very specific and arguably incorrect definition of “religion”. If true Christians don’t reject their propaganda they will soon outlaw most expressions of our faith in favor of theirs.
2. Churches SHOULD NOT accept tax-exempt status. It’s fascinating that the very “shepherds” charged with teaching the “sheep” about faith cling to tax-exemptions as though they could not survive without them. Pinocchio, meet your strings. We’ve already written about this in detail, but this is a great opportunity to sound the alarm again.
3. A “church” isn’t The Church, The Body, or The Fellowship of the Saints. Especially not “mega-church“. Do not be guilted and manipulated by the Jezebel, Ahab, “the great harlot”, or “Babylon the Great” and definitely don’t be guilted by “clergy” as though you owe them the same allegiance that we give to our “One Teacher” (Matthew 23:10).
Please consider these carefully and pray about asking your friends at your churches if they’d help you try to improve their local fellowship by not tolerating these things.
On 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
There is an old and cheesy joke that goes something like this: “How do you know there was a car in the Bible?” Answer: “Because, the disciples were ‘all in one accord'”… HA HA HA!
The KJV uses the phrase “in one accord” in Acts 2:1 on the day of Pentecost to describe how the disciples were together and unified on that day, but soon after, Acts 10:44 to be exact, it’s more than just the disciples partaking in this unity:
“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.” Continue reading In Two Accords
“…the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them.“– Luke 9:53-55
A common theme here has been how “the wind and the waves” don’t obey even the most pious of fake religions, humanistic governments, and especially not wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing “christians.” Even devout believers have faced fiery furnaces where God did not rescue them. Most of the disciples succumbed physically to the fires, stones, crosses, and blades of men. Yet when has evil had the capability to “call fire down from heaven” upon its enemies the way that Sodom and Gomorrah, Egypt, Korah and so many others have learned of the judgement of God? Not until modern times have humans had this power. Continue reading Anathema
Latter-day Saints are not Christians any more than a person standing in McDonald’s is a hamburger.
Our first post of 2016 is going to get back to some early basics of R2 theology and the most basic of those basics is that a denomination cannot define a follower of Christ. I tweaked a quote from Keith Green from the message below.
Jesus only said the word Ekklēsia translated as “church” twice in all of the New Testament. Once in Matthew 16:15-19 and again in Matthew 18:17. These discourses should be concerning considering how much stock Christians put in the building and politics of their local “church”.
Before going further it’s important to note that the word “church” itself is derived from a different Greek word, “kuriakos” which only appears itself twice in the New Testament, in 1 Corinthians 11:20 and Revelation 1:10. It means “the Lord’s”. Ekklēsia on the other hand appears more than 100 times, and NOT just in the New Testament. How could it appear earlier than Christ Himself? Well, that’s the problem. Ekklēsia may not mean what you’ve been led to believe that it means. Instead, it means any formal assembly.
In Matthew 18:16-17 Jesus says: “But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.“
Translating the word Ekklēsia to mean “Christian body of believers” may be technically correct in this context, but only because of the context not because of the word itself. He is simply stating that rather than “one or two others” escalate it to the larger group. He was most likely not endorsing yet another Sanhedrin type of hierarchy. The Sanhedrin was an “Ekklēsia” as well.
The word can be used to represent any assembly, especially civil assemblies of elected officials. In fact, in Matthew 16:18 – the only other time Jesus uses the word – he establishes more specific context for this very purpose: “on this rock I will build my church“. Note the word “my” in there. He does not say “the church” in this instance. Remember that word “kuriakos”? He has essentially specified that the assembly Peter will build is His (“The Lord’s”) because Ekklēsia does not imply it alone.
Translators and the neo-Sanhedrin found it convenient to translate the word as though all mentions of “assembly” meant Jesus’ assembly and then went further to insinuate that the entire “body” of believers could also be defined as such. As you probably already know, it’s this same convenient decision that leads to the Catholic establishment of the Pope as the “only” fleshly “head” of the entire body of believers. The “body” and each “church” were different things in Jesus’ words, yet later people changed them to synonyms.
We’ve discussed before the importance of the later verses of Matthew 20: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” to the proper understanding of what Jesus was establishing. If we must choose just one passage to hang our hierarchical hat on, then Matthew 20 is the less self-aggrandizing of them. Of course, properly interpreted, these scriptures are not in conflict. Jesus did establish an assembly, a flat assembly of brothers of which He is one of us, and God is our Father. This culminates in His being “The King of Kings”, yet our King is also our brother. It’s truly the greatest story ever told.
Later in the New testament as “Ekklēsia” gets repeated in different contexts, Paul does establish designations based around the gifts that Christ doles out (Ephesians 4:11). However, even that is not modeled by institutional assemblies today & did not appear to be hierarchical in Paul’s view. Where are all of the roles? Apostles? Who even knows what that is? Prophets? A large portion of professing believers reject the existence of Prophets at all (of course they do, what modern pastor could tolerate a modern prophet?). The fact is plain to see. If Jesus were actually establishing “church” as we know it today, He would certainly have mentioned it more than twice and He wouldn’t have directly commanded His followers not to establish hierarchies.
What Jesus mentions many more than two times is “Kingdom”. In fact before Pilate He explicitly states: “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” – John 18:36
What kind of madness, idolatry, and abomination have we perpetuated at the behest of power hungry neo-Sadducees? Perhaps an abomination that causes desolation? Have we really watched idly as all of the sins of the Pharisees have been imitated in what we now refer to as “church”? Even Tyndale chose the word “congregation” over “church” because of the danger he foresaw. Please dear brothers and sisters, please consider this last part very carefully.
We are not proposing that everyone quit going to “churches” on Sunday. Only God can guide one to that decision. The world is very confused and opposed to anything that would please God. So God may well call you to work within the “congregations” or as we call them “clubs” to see the gospel preached. Even if you attend the best club you could imagine we simply ask that you do not enter those doors with the belief that you are no longer in the world, rather enter those doors as a way to face the world. Enter those places as “salt & light” and as an opportunity to be such in a place that should encourage such.
When you find that they do not encourage such, take joy in knowing that Jesus’ Kingdom transcends the walls of any building. Remember what Jesus told the Samaritan woman 2000 years ago, and take this to heart. Even if those at your local church oppose you, it doesn’t mean that God opposes you. Persecution comes in many forms, even inside of Christian clubs. The truth has been whittled down century-after-century, so speaking the whole truth today will not be popular, even in “church”. Yet buildings aren’t where Kingdom worship happens. No, Jesus told the Samaritan woman, 2000 years ago:
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” – John 4:23
Be the kind of worshipers our Father seeks despite what people do. Modern churches are imitation kingdoms. Often built to appear like castles themselves they amount to a man-made idol. The imitation kingdom is complete with little kings, little queens, and even court jesters. Many convinced that they are serving God by lording over people. The imitation is meaningless compared to “Spirit and Truth”.
So go out as “sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” This is not truth that those attending religiously will want to hear. Yet if we are patient and shrewd the chains of religion can fall away and better yet, we can assist new believers in avoiding those chains. You will have enemies, many are invested far too deeply in their model of Christianity to admit these problems. They won’t want people set free after all that’s been invested in installing those chains. We ourselves often don’t want to be set free once we’ve “tried so hard” to be “part of something“. Yet the only thing we are part of that matters is Christ, we cannot add anything to that but lies.
As 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.
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.”
I am in the midst of a storm. One that has me waking up and wrestling with demons night after night. These demons are loud, and speak to me in my own voice. They start out seemingly constructive. Offering ideas on how to alleviate this suffering asap. Promising me control and victory.
Once they have my attention they proceed to flood my mind with thoughts. If I recoil, they offer ideas, when I take the bait they offer hopelessness. The cycle continues for hours.
My tribulation is that I have been accused of something despicable in a very public way. Something that brings my second most cherished role into doubt. My own fatherhood. Care to guess my first most-cherished role?
While the accusation is wildly and slanderously false, for nearly a year now that hasn’t stopped me from reliving every tiny misstep or misthought I’ve made leading up to this.
As I type, my 15 month old son is cruising around me, babbling, tripping, falling, bumping his knees, bumping his face… “boom boom”… and the cycle begins again.
As he wanders around at my feet he’s avoiding different “no no”s, like the computer cord, or his latest favorite feats like standing on tables and chairs. He’s avoiding them, because he has been taught to. My wife and I are firm believers in: “house-proof the kid”, as opposed to: “kid-proof the house.”
There are a plethora of reasons for this. The most important being the conviction that our faith in Jesus gives us concerning the scripture: “raise up a child in the way they should go.” This conviction begins as a general thought but that general thought becomes the basis for some pretty specific practices. Since my 15 month old son is our 6th fabulous child, we do have the nerve to suspect we’re doing something right. That “nerve” is a rather large sin in our society today. Especially if we also have the “nerve” to credit the Bible and Jesus.
We live in a “progressive” world where the Bible is being eradicated from its stature everywhere. Even in churches. Part of this “progression” includes the general societal consensus that a traditional father role is problematic. Ironically, feminism does not work in reverse, as society’s modern philosophy develops contempt for gender roles of any kind there is one role that only women can fill to social satisfaction. It is the role of parent. The only way a man can safely participate in this from the world’s perspective is if he’s a “Mr. Mom.” Otherwise, he’s expected to sit in a recliner watching sitcoms with characters just like him, one hand in his waistband, and the other on a tv remote.
Don’t believe me? Consider every example in modern entertainment. Men are either “cro-magnon sperm-donors” or “Mr. Mom” there is no acceptable version of: “father” to be found any longer. From Al Bundy of “Married with Children” (cro-magnon), to Danny Tanner, to Homer Simpson of the Simpsons (need I explain?), to Joel Graham from “Parenthood” (Mr. Mom). We will never again find a Charles Ingalls, John Walton, or Ward Cleaver in popular entertainment. In fact, even families with any children at all are becoming unusual in entertainment today. (I would love to discuss the Adam Braverman character from “Parenthood” as the token partial “throwback” however that would take me on a longer tangent than I’m already on…)
Ok… a few more sentences on this tangent. When I watched the show (“Parenthood”) I did relate significantly with the Adam Braverman character. I realize that I’m little more than a partial throwback to the strength that used to be admired in fathers. Yet even a partial throwback has become too much for society to tolerate. If you naively believe otherwise it’s only a matter of time before your values will be challenged.
So here I am, a “hindrance to progress” with my “backward ideas” about fatherhood; now standing accused of a figment from the demented imagination of some very disturbing people who have established themselves as authorities on parenting. Ironically, the main culprit, is not even a parent herself. Twisting an accident (as attested to by multiple medical personnel) into an act of violence based almost entirely on my nerve to describe my faith and what it means to be an involved father. A million times since have those demons (and my attorney) reminded me: “if you’d only been an uninvolved father, if only you told her what she wanted to hear: that you leave the parenting to the woman of the house.”
She didn’t like my idea of what it means to be a father, and therefore declared me guilty of abuse. To do this she was willing to fabricate a list of “confessions” from me and sign her name to it. I can only imagine how she justifies the lies in her own mind. In her own mind she’s “protecting children”, but in real life she’s victimizing fathers who have the nerve to still lay claim to their God-given role in the household. I imagine the post-abortive mother has a similar method of rationalization. In her own mind, she’s “protecting her child”, but in real life…
My feelings are still raw. I doubt they will ever dull for the rest of my life after having experienced this injustice, but there’s something much more important here. I’m hardly the first to be a victim of injustice.
You see, the big shenanigan that I’m really guilty of, is allowing my children to fail, allowing my children to cry, and not always rescuing them from their own conundrums. We have 6 of them, and so far we’ve found that they learn pretty quickly that certain situations merit tears and others don’t. You see? I admitted to a non-parent that I watch my children approach stairs, I hide, and watch, and if they endanger themselves I rush in to rescue them at that second. This has worked with all my children. After a few events I still watch them, but they don’t endanger themselves. Then after a few more events, I simply trust them. Just because I trust them doesn’t mean we don’t have accidents, but we didn’t put up a baby gate, that led (partially) to an accident, and that accident led to my values verbalized, and my values verbalized led to false accusations.
The more important thing in the midst of these raw emotions is God. God our Father. God my Father. If He’s who He says He is, wouldn’t He behave the way He does? God’s parenting skills aren’t subject to feminist ideology and slanderous bullying.
If God behaved the way “the world” expects a Father to behave, He’d be putting up “baby gates” all over the place. He’d intervene every time we endangered ourselves and we could live recklessly without concern. Yet that’s not what He does. Instead, He gives us free will, and loves us enough to stay out of our way for the most part. That’s why John 14:17 says: “The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him.”
The more “progressive” society becomes, the less capable of recognizing our Father it is. As society redefines what it means to be a father, our Creator Father becomes more alien to them. For most, this is all the evidence they need to believe that they have no Heavenly Father at all, because in their minds, if they did, then: “he could never allow such things to happen.” But in real life… He must, otherwise we’d be slaves, even animals, but not beloved and trusted children. Sometimes He even allows His child to die. Here’s what Jesus had to say about that: “If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28)
If He’s who He says He is, wouldn’t He behave the way He does? He is omnipotent and omniscient far beyond myself as I vigilantly hide watching my son walk into the mud I’d warned him to stay away from. As I am wondering when/if I should intervene to rescue him, doesn’t God know exactly when the time is right? If/when it turns out there are some unexpected bees, or thorns, about to make my son’s ordeal worse, is there anything unexpected for God? “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give …” (Luke 11:13) !!!???
So here I am, stuck in some mud, stung by bees, scraped by thorns, and crying out for God to show Himself and rescue me. The son, telling my own Father, how to parent me. How silly I am when I tell God what’s best for me. So much more silly than my 7 year old telling me that he should play video games all day long. Why so much? Because, my opinions are not always going to be better than my kids’. God’s opinions are always better.
If He’s who He says He is, He would behave the way He does!