yet, with respect to the promise of God

“Even so, Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT (his faith) WAS RECKONED (counted) TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham” [Galatians 3:6, 7]

Periodically I find myself changing my blog title here depending upon what circumstances I find myself in from time to time. The preface “inside the tent” is always used and precedes a title or phrase which accompanies it. It initially spoke of a remnant, then of a season of personal brokenness and now refers to a time where I sense my faith is being renewed. Each title is meant to reflect seasons that either I as an individual or we as in the corporate body seem to be reflecting upon or learning. Now you understand the reason for the recent change to the title this site bears as of this writing; Inside the Tent, of another son of Abraham.

Without minimizing the importance of having Christ’s righteousness credited to our account (as is true for every born again Christian), I want to use this study to specifically address Abraham’s faith and whether we are following in his footsteps in relation to the many promises of God that concern us. We know that once the issue of justification has been settled before God and harmony restored, we can now “reach out and touch” our inheritance through our union with Christ. Paul speaks of God’s work of reconciliation here in Romans 5:1, 2;

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exalt in hope of the glory of God”  (the hope of sharing in God’s glory)

“For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it” [Romans 8:24, 25]

In short order, most of us that call ourselves Christians could discover a multitude of promises that God has given to us as His children. Although some of the promises of Scripture address specific groups of people (like national Israel) while other reflect time periods in the future, others to individuals such as Abraham (Genesis 15:5), their is no lack of God’s promises that are specifically addressed to God’s sons and daughters in this age we now find ourselves in.  Some of these promises are unconditional, while others have conditions that must be met in order to enter therein. Either way, the question I want to ask in relation to these promises is blunt and yet simple:

Do we really believe God?

I would hope that most of us as believers would concur with this statement: We practice what we believe. If I believe the Bible to be God’s written word to mankind, I will treat those words with the utmost respect. I will not treat them as a casual thing or as if God didn’t mean what He said or had others write to us. In other words, I will not say I believe what God says while promoting the opposite of what I say I believe:

  • God says there is one mediator between man and God, the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Timothy 2:5) Therefore, is it permissible for any man to be a middleman between God and myself without hindering or usurping Jesus’ mediation? Wouldn’t such an act be inconsistent with what the scripture above teaches?
  • Jesus claims to be building His ekklesia upon which the gates of hell will not prevail. (Matthew 16:18) Therefore, is it permissible to equate His ekklesia with a modern day church that men build? Wouldn’t such an act be inconsistent with what the scripture above teaches?
  • God says that the manner Christians are to assemble is to be interactive in nature- “as each one has” (1 Corinthians 14:26) and that the words of others are to be judged on the spot. (vs. 29) Therefore, is it permissible to forego the specific scriptural instructions for gathering and replace them with a “church service” where the majority are relegated to silent observers among the assembly? Wouldn’t such an act be inconsistent with what the scripture above teaches?

The fact is, most professing Christians don’t really believe what they say they believe. There actions prove what they believe, the three examples above are obvious examples of how people claiming to be Christians entirely ignore what God actually says and yet still claim to be following Jesus. Yet Jesus is not at the center of any of the above- He is not preeminent!

The three examples above are not promises to be enjoyed, but rather commands to be obeyed. It is not just a mere loss of the benefits of a promise, but a counterfeit practice that often hinders a promise from being able to come to fruition. Jesus warned religious men of his day who were esteeming their own practices (traditions) as equal or more important than His commands and what would result:

“Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:

‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR FROM ME. BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’

“Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” [Mark 7:6-8]

PROMISES HINDERED BY MEN’S TRADITIONS ABOVE

Promise: “I will be a Father to you” (2 Corinthians 6:18)

The context of the verse is in relation to the command to not be bound with unbelievers (or those like those above who live hypocritically inconsistent and disobedient lives not according to Scripture)

There is a special relationship God desires to have with those He calls His children. He does not want that relationship impeded by other men, even religious men who far to often foster dependence upon themselves and to the religious institutions that they rule over rather than upon Christ. God calls those who do so antichrists- for they take the  place of prominence in a Christians life that only Jesus deserves. Religious men all but guarantee the impossibility to be dependent upon Jesus as the one mediator alone because they are regularly encouraging the saints to walk in the pollutions of man’s religious inventions where his “open door policy” is standard. The promises of intimacy through “I will welcome you,” and “I will be a Father to you” hinge upon certain conditions spoken of here in 2 Corinthians 7:1;

“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh (whatever might stem from the flesh like immoral behavior) and spirit (like false religious practices and traditions that oust truth and proper practice), perfecting holiness in the fear of God”

Promise: “I will build My ekklesia; and the gates of hell will not overpower them”

There is a special relationship God desires to have with those He calls His children- corporately. Jesus says that where two or three are gathered together in His name that there He is in their midst. (Matthew 18:20) The very word “ekklesia” refers to a corporate gathering of people who have been “called out” (in a Christians case from this world and system after being born from above, but later, even from man’s systems of religion as well). There is a special unity of relationship within these “two’s or three’s” where Jesus is uniquely expressed as “each one” plays their part (contributing their unique spiritual gift to the others for edification) It is this united core of believers functioning as a single man to which the word of promise is given: the gates of hell shall not prevail. Despite any attempt to make this relate to church or church related activities is mere fantasy land. The gates of hell are prevailing against everything church related as the statistics plainly show. Once again the promise relates to what God has actually said, not what religious men tell us or think God has said.

AN OBVIOUS INCONSISTENCY

When the average professing believer reads their Bible and compares what they read with their daily experience, well, what more needs to be said…..they just don’t compare. The church (ekklesia) we read about there doesn’t remotely resemble what we see today. The miracles we read there don’t remotely resemble what we see today. Even the Jesus of today’s Christians seems altogether different than who we often read about. How can this be?

Many a man, many a preacher would tell us that things have changed. That because we live in a different time, a different culture, a changing world, that somehow this warrants an altogether different gospel and different approach to those in need of it. Others are forever trying to fix or restore what appears to be a compromised or dying church, to try and resurrect what Jesus never put His life into in the first place. Neither of these will suffice. You cannot fix the gaping hole in men’s hearts with a band aid. There must be a return to the actual promises of God.

yet……….

It goes without saying, that if Jesus promises:

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out,” that Jesus will keep His promise. Furthermore the Scripture says in relation to Jesus, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED” We are speaking here of justification, but is that all? Wouldn’t it be a disappointment to read promise after promise and yet never have those very promises fulfilled in our lives? Are you content to settle for that?

It also goes without saying that as Christians;

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” [Hebrews 11:6] This verse is found within a passage where ordinary people like us lived by faith even though:

“All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth”

Today we see, at least in part the promise of our God unto Abraham. Despite his circumstances, in hope against hope he believed (he still believed despite what appeared like a hopeless situation) so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE.

Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb;

yet,

with respect to the promise of God, he did not waiver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform” [Romans 4:18-21]

Three things characterized this man Abraham to which we should take note.

1. He knew what specific promises applied to him personally.

2. He had a responsibility to believe what God had promised despite how long the wait and despite how seemingly impossible the fulfillment might appear.

3. His ongoing testimony to those around him was one in which he not only refused to waiver in unbelief, but grew stronger in faith despite waiting upon God for the fulfillment of what God had promised.

Now might we ask, “Which of God’s promises apply to me personally?” Is their not some promise I’m in need of at this very hour, at this very moment? What if God has promised-

  • (Proverbs 1:33) Freedom from the dread of evil
  • (Matthew 11:28-30) Rest
  • (1 Corinthians 10:13) Escape from temptation
  • (Philippians 4:7) To grant peace that surpasses all comprehension
  • (Philippians 4:19) To meet ALL our needs
  • (Romans 6:14) Sin not being master over us
  • (Matthew 16:18) To build His ekklesia
  • (Ephesians 4:13) To be built up to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

And just to cover those we forgot to mention……..“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power which works mightily within us, to Him be the glory in the ekklesia and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” [Philippians 3:20, 21]

Each day each of us as God’s sons and daughters have to decide whether we are to continue to believe God or whether we are simply going to give up hope. Just because we read in Scripture of how the final days of mankind are going to play out, the lack of love and the absence of faith, does that mean we must become those people? Are we to just assume that because so few faithful Christians live near us that we will always be alone? Because most professing Christians have compromised and rejected the fear of the Lord, holiness or repentance that God cannot alter this situation or their lives? That God can’t raise up from some rocks people who will adequately and worthily praise Him? What about His promise here:

…even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist [Romans 4:17]

Friends, trust God in believing with Abraham. Do we not see our own promises from a distance as well at times, do we not welcome them even though we still wait for their fruition? Do we not also confess that we are strangers and exiles on this earth? Are we not those who through faith and patience inherit the promises?

The promise of Abraham is for us, and to those of successive generations after us as well.

“In the same way, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement  to take hold of the hope set before us” [Hebrews 6:17]

We want to leave a testimony, we want to leave a legacy of those who not only believed God, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, being fully assured that what God has promised He is able also to perform!

We want to leave the evidence that holiness does matter, true repentance is possible, that we can walk beyond the muck and mire of this world system all about us. We want to trust God to alter our lives, that we might alter our neighborhoods and leave the true message and practice of the gospel for all to see. Is that what you are believing God for, or have you allowed yourself to become a victim of the inevitable?

Oh Father, restore in us the faith that once characterized your son Abraham. Let us not resign ourselves to what might appear to be, but hold out for greater things, in your hands for all to see.

Use the few, the chosen, those holding no merit of their own, whatever the road, whatever the cost, may we trust You for that which is yet full grown.

For the time will pass, the day will be done, when no longer can we work or beckon grace through Your Son,

So while it is light, and the door open wide, may we seek You in faith, to convict as we abide.

Forgetting what was, and believing what is, Jesus in triumph, through all the days we may live.

 

-the end

 

 

Divide and Conquer/The Positive

“All things are wearisome; man is not able to tell it”

“The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun” [Ecclesiastes 1:8, 9]

If we’re entirely honest, those of us looking back upon our lives in institutions can very much identify with the verses above. Oh the times we tried to reinvent the wheel, to improve upon some aspect of our “ministry,” thinking we were always on the cutting edge of some great work or revival. Year after year, promise after promise, new ministry after new ministry and yet how little were people changed and then not for long. Only after having exhausted every effort were we brought to our weary end where God showed us the vanity of our own doings.

Sadly, today’s professing Christian world is still “not able to tell it.” Yes, they see that many of their ways and best made plans are not working. Yet instead of recognizing that the problem resides with them, they re-double their efforts and go down the same road all over again with just some minor adjustments. After this fails too, they go for the long overdue overhaul, yet this only touches the surface and can only penetrate skin deep.

YOU’VE SEEN IT

That old church on the corner you used to attend. The one that used to teach the word. The one with the 70 some old grey haired shepherd who just wanted to be faithful. Then the mega church was built down the street. Instead of the same old boring routine the neighborhood was now offered a young and animated pastor, large choir, a pipe organ, segregated Sunday school classes, a host of new programs, babysitting, 3 services and tons of parking! Who wouldn’t want to check that out, right?

Sadly, its the same old boring stuff all over again after the dust settles. It may look better, it may sound better but in the end it offers the very same thing as before- nothing more, unless more noise is what you’re after. The new place functions much like the new neighborhood grocery store or gas station- we all like new, so we’ll try it, that is until the next new one comes along. That’s the reality of most people’s religious experience, unless the church continually reinvents itself regularly, the patrons are heading for the door looking to get on board the next exciting “Christian” movement or trend that comes down the line- and one will.

IS GOD IN THE SALVAGE BUSINESS?

The answer is, “Yes,” but not in the manner we often think. We have made the assumption that God takes our old lives and strengthens them in order that we might live differently. The equation might look like this:

OLD ME + GOD’S POWER = VICTORY      In a very similar way we also view the church like this:

OLD WAYS (covenant) + GOD”S POWER = INFLUENCE UPON SOCIETY OR UPON THE WORLD

Is the above Christian living? Is this what the Scriptures actually show to be Christianity?

ALL THINGS NEW

When Jesus was crucified, buried and raised after the 3rd day, this ushered in the New Covenant in His blood. This New Covenant was to be celebrated regularly amongst Christians during the weekly practice of what became known as The Lord’s Supper. It was a corporate gathering of the saints every week where this shared meal was prominent. It was a celebratory time where they both remembered what Jesus had done and reminded Jesus of His promise to return for them. Although it isn’t a present day practice among most professing Christians, we might want to consider what this New Covenant actually entails.

When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.” [Hebrews 8:13]

What part of the Old Covenant can be joined with the new? Can any part of the old be joined with the new? Can any part of me be joined with the new? In other words, “Can anything deriving from my old nature be useful in serving God in this new day and new covenant?

“Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have been passed away; behold, new things have come” [2 Corinthians 5:17]  Notice the past tense of the verse. How can old things be passed away?

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I (the old nature and resources) who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” [Galatians 2:20] 

A REVELATION OF WHAT IS NEW

In our day, very few professing Christians really understand the extent of what Jesus has made new within the context of His New Covenant. Over time the fullness of this revelation is brought to light by Him. This often includes Him stripping from us what we have often found dear in structured religion and includes:

  • The fact that our old nature cannot offer anything in our service in Christ and had to be and was crucified with Christ (fact)
  • All Christians are given an entirely new nature to replace the old via the Holy Spirit (fact)
  • We must learn reliance upon this new nature and can only live this as we die to our old selves practically (application)
  • We die practically by embracing the cross of Christ daily (application)
  • This new nature flourishes within the new context (environment) where it was meant to grow with others (fact)
  • This new spiritual entity is a local ekklesia filled with living stones that He brings together in time (fact)
  • That each Christian can and should co-labor to this end (the establishing of local spiritual communities of people) (application)

NOW YOU HAVE REALLY SEEN IT AND DONE IT

The result of recognizing the above facts causes quite a stir amongst others who have yet to discover said revelations. One cannot mix the old with the new. But being our human selves we are bound to share our new found revelations which will no doubtedly:

  • Get us in trouble with our church leaders
  • Likely restrict our ability to speak or lead in church
  • Eventually cause us to leave our church or get us thrown out

GOD MEANS IT FOR GOOD

If you are seeking God and  abiding in Christ regularly, than you have an awesome promise to embrace.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” [Romans 8:28]     And what is that purpose?

“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…..” (verse 29)

And how is this purpose accomplished? I would suggest that it is this:

We are being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ as we are given a revelation of Him that requires a step of obedience. For example, it can be revealed to someone that there is only one true spiritual body of Christ. But this very person can then convince themselves that dividing that one body into a smaller named body is an acceptable practice. Because this decision is not consistent with the revelation given, the promises related to the revelation are practically hindered. We’ll talk more about this in a later post. What is important is this: We must walk in a manner that is consistent with the revelation of Jesus that we have received.

A CROSS-EYED PERSPECTIVE

For every human being, the manner in which they live affects the manner in which they view things. Everyone desires to view things from their own perspective, from the perspective that is in line with their own personal interests. Even as Christians, we find it very difficult to refrain from doing this. Instead of viewing all of one’s blessings as coming directly from God and being sustained by Him as a result of our obedience, men place more confidence in worldly voting polls and others forms of self effort in order to hold onto what they say are their “rights.” I’ve got some bad news for you folks who think this way.

1. As a Christian, you have no rights.

2. God Himself is restricting the rights you think you have for causes He deems necessary.

Far too many Christians have preconceived notions about God that simply are not true. Does God always want the more conservative candidate to be the president of the Unites States? Does He want our borders closed off to immigration from other countries? Does He want us to continue building more and more churches?

People don’t know what God really wants because they have never died to what they want. That’s what embracing a daily cross does, it keep us as individuals from reverting back to our own way of thinking, our own ideas, our own strengths, our own anything. If you think you have a right to anything, that’s just proof you are not really controlled or maybe even owned by God the Holy Spirit. A dead man can’t exactly exercise his right to anything now can he?

THE SQUEEZE IS ON/BUT FROM WHOM?

There are only two choices each of us as individuals can latch onto in any given day. Either this world and its leaders are ultimately controlling our surroundings or God Himself is. When men attribute difficulty or tough times to other men and leaders, they will resist those leaders and if pressured enough take matters into their own hands. As history has already shown, many a man will commit all manner of evil, often resorting to violence to safeguard his supposed “rights.”

To the contrary, real Christians trust God despite what circumstances they might find themselves in. They praise God for what they have day by day, knowing they deserve nothing at all.

In the future, I strongly suggest not getting caught up in the things that seem to surround Jesus and get back to Jesus Himself. When you see the foundations of your religious institution falling apart, when your esteemed leaders compromise and fall away, when your worldly allegiances and even brothers betray you, when America is reduced to ashes and when all you have left to cling to is Jesus Christ with a noose around your neck, REJOICE and again I say, REJOICE!  IT IS HE, SHAKING WHAT CAN BE SHAKEN, AS OF CREATED THINGS, SO THAT THOSE THINGS WHICH CANNOT BE SHAKEN MAY REMAIN!

 

-the end

 

 

Divide and Conquer/The Negative

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven- A time to tear down and a time to build up” [Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3b]

How often have we heard the refrain; “United we stand, divided we fall?” It has become over the years a common motto for a variety of causes, from the themes of popular writings and songs to propaganda used to convince our own citizens to support various wars. The concept seems to be that  if for some reason we do not stay united, that we can easily be destroyed. It therefore becomes a rallying call of sorts to marshal the troops or lets says masses into a particular direction or pursuit when somebody or a bunch of somebody’s deem this to be necessary.

AN OBVIOUS EXAMPLE

In America, we like to pride ourselves on, “well ourselves.” We have become so arrogant as a people and have convinced ourselves of our own greatness and invincibility. Regardless of what so called crisis happens next, the wonderful people of America will coming running from their four corners to solve whatever issue or problem is at hand. Whether that problem is 911 some years back or the hysterical fabrication of man’s triumph over the forces of evil in the fictional movie Armageddon, our united forces of humanity just cannot fail. We come out ahead even when fighting against the God who promises to literally destroy mankind’s ingenuity and devices in the aforementioned war. Such is the vanity of men’s pride and their so-called triumphs.

On one hand, America has interests abroad, and in the name of those interests our so-called elected leaders do everything they can to unite the masses in the direction they want them to go. Regardless of which primary political group has the most control, they do everything they can, regardless of how dishonest to convince you and every one else of their good intentions. They know that “their agenda” relies heavily upon convincing the masses of what they say.

These very same people, when it comes to issues they oppose, will do anything and everything to see that those agendas do not come to fruition. They will purposefully cause chaos, lie to our faces and start a war in a moment’s notice. They actively support the divide of political parties in order to keep the masses from standing against them. For example, it’s easy to think that all the benevolence and benefits our government dispenses is all in good will, but in reality it only creates slaves that will bow in a moment to their beckon call. Don’t think for a moment that this isn’t orchestrated on purpose.

A DIVIDED ATTENTION AND AFFECTION

In America, and under the guise and deception of the aforementioned freedom, most people devote their time and energies using this freedom for their own causes and purposes. They go about looking for ways to use this freedom to please themselves, to live for whatever they think they can get this side of heaven. Somehow even the professing Christians seem to think they have this “right” because they live in this country. Little do they see that freedom is almost always a precursor to laziness, laziness which breeds apathy, apathy which eventually chips away at their so-called freedoms. Despite these ever increasing troubles, joe Christian just keeps trodding along, being relatively content provided he can still do as he pleases. Little does he realize that God Himself is soon to call him to account, each will be tested by the onslaught against everything they say and show that they value.

“MY RIGHTS” (Even what he has (thinks he has a right to) will be taken away)

Think about one of the many “rights” or “freedoms” professing Christians regularly complain about losing these days.

  • The right to bear arms
  • The right to free speech
  • The right to free exercise of religion
  • The right to home school their kids
  • The right for churches and religious institutions to not pay taxes
  • The right to retain the traditional definition of marriage

Now, can I ask a really searching question? Who is it that is really restricting your so-called rights? Is it these so-called liberals in Washington? Is it all these homosexual activists with their evil agendas? Is it anyone and everyone that is attempting to restrict or take away what you think is your right? If you do, then I’ve got some really depressing news for you.

God doesn’t just ask mankind to seek and obey Him, He demands it. And if one is not actively cultivating dependence upon God, he or she will most certainly become dependent upon something or someone else. Job made this clear:

“If I have put my confidence in gold, and have called fine gold my trust, if I have gloated because my wealth was great, and because my hand had secured so much; if I have looked at the sun when it shone or the moon going in splendor and my heart became secretly enticed, and my hand threw a kiss from my mouth, that too would have been an iniquity calling for judgment, for I would have denied God above” [Job 31:24-28]

Dependence upon anything or anyone outside of God Himself is idolatry and brings God’s judgment and equates with denying Him. Do you think there’s even a small chance that America has committed such a crime- that maybe her citizens have put their trust in their Almighty Dollar just one too many times? That maybe our confidence is resting in our military might, our past victories or benevolent citizens? Isn’t it even remotely possible that judgment is at the door and daily escalating due to our reliance upon ourselves? Hasn’t God promised in relation to specific nations:

“At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it. Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or plant it; if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it.” [Jeremiah 18:7-10]

Here is the indictment to those who will set aside God’s commands for their own selfish rights:

 Wisdom shouts in the street, she lifts her voice in the square; at the head of the noisy streets (where commerce is King) she cries out; at the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings:

“How long, O naïve ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing and fools hate knowledge? Turn to my reproof, behold, I will pour out My spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; and you neglected all my counsel and did not want my reproof; I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes, when your dread comes like a storm and your calamity like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.

Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but they will not find me, because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord. They would not accept my counsel, they spurned all my reproof. So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way and be satiated with their own devices. For the waywardness of the naïve will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them.

But he who listens to me shall live securely and will be at ease from the dread of evil.” [Proverbs 1:20-33]

Contrast the neglect and complacency in their desire for God compared to their diligence when they were in serious trouble.

A PREMIUM ON DIVISION

Now contrast the diligence men pursue in an attempt to be better than other men compared with the attitude all men are required to have toward their fellow man.

As human beings, we need not look far to see the premium we place upon being better than somebody else or for that matter, everybody else. We have an insatiable desire “to be the best” and most people would utilize every means they could in order to be recognized as such. Here are just a few examples from the world of sports.

  • The prevalence of performance enhancing drugs being used by athletes and the extent of the lies they tell in order to keep their cheating hidden from the general public
  • The manner in which individual athletes take nicknames to themselves such as “Great One” (Wayne Gretsky) or “Mr.Hockey (Gordie Howe).
  • Becoming so popular and rich that a sports figure has their own “brand name”
  • The value men place upon the # of championships they have won
  • The plethora of sports statistics we never seem to get enough of and the constant pursuit of exceeding a past stat
  • Using other people’s contract $$ as a basis for our own similar or higher contract
  • The never ending dispute on talk radio over which athlete is better, greater etc in various sports
  • The way “hate” and “rivalry” among sports teams is spoken of as a good thing
  • The risk people take considering the extreme nature and danger of some of these sports
  • The constant daily tallying of the types and numbers of  medals various countries have won in Olympic competition
  • The manner we readily involve ourselves and our children in these competitive sports without even considering the affects upon ourselves and them. To us its just fun. We just assume our children will be able to give their all in “beating the competition” and then be best of friends after the game.

Now hitting a little closer to home:

  • The multiplication of “brand name” churches and satellite campuses
  • The number of people in the local pastors’ church congregation
  • The number of books and “Christian” resources in said leaders name he sells and whether he has his name on some version of what people call the bible.
  • The size and influence of one’s self made religious organization
  • The worldly leaders that said Christian rubs elbows with over the course of a year
  • The number and type of religious degrees one professes to have accumulated
  • The spiritual titles one either calls themselves or others call them
  • The number of church programs our church has verses others
  • The continual pursuit of “renewing the church” (or people of God though some man’s ministry or organization)

Just so you know, I am not against people playing sports, even competitive sports. The problem is that we are not being honest about the effects playing these sports are often having upon ourselves as Christians. In the least they teach our children to model after what this worlds people do, expose them to unnecessary risks at times and at worst promote their sports heroes in a way that most certainly is idolatry. We are called to be lights in this world friends, and that’s the primary reason your child or you should ever be involved in competitive sports. Somehow I find it difficult to reconcile the command to “lay down my life” with winning at all costs. How about you?

WE LOVE WHAT WE VALUE

I wonder how many of us would admit that we have an altogether unhealthy attraction and even dependence upon “sports.” Whether that attraction is fueled by the violent hits in the NFL, the occasional fan chaos that erupts in international soccer events or by what is so obviously characteristic of an obsession through “March Madness,” the proof of our adoration hangs on our walls, is proudly displayed on our clothing and is spoken about with such devotion others might easily conclude that we worship “it” or “them” above all else. Does not God Himself say that out of the overflow of one’s heart they speak. Despite of all our devotion, one would be hard pressed to explain just why or how these games became so important to us. One thing we know is sure: The goal is to beat any and all of one’s adversaries and to accomplish this at any cost. The result of our or our idols rare or occasional success to the top: the glory of ourselves and our teammates and yes, even the fans! Somehow I find this more than just a little questionable for one claiming to be a Christian. I think we can assume that if the above describes you, your spiritual life is being fed to the lions in one of man’s coliseums whether you realize this or not.

The US against YOU mentality

If we’re entirely honest, all of us live to varying degrees with this exact mentality in one form or another, we have been trained from birth to divide and conquer. For some, that means being trained by Palestinian leaders to hate their neighboring Jews. For others, that means avoiding or neglecting to recognize people of other races and cultures. For some, even professional sports gives them the outlet for justifying hating their neighbor and committing all manner of inappropriate actions toward others. Whether at home, in the workplace or among friends, we all despise losing or being the “least of these.”

I CAN DO BETTER

Returning to the above, remember the examples I gave in sports and religion where people were trying to outdo one another? Yea I know, you likely think its no big deal. But as a Christian, “Do you think it might bother God Almighty that you or your son or daughter devotes more time and attention to being competitive and winning than they do the things of God? Have you never considered that this might be or border upon idolatry? What about the list of ways above where I showed you how Christians and their creations constantly compete against their brothers and sisters for people, money and influence in their communities? Are these not synonymous with dividing the saints for the purpose of eventually conquering them?

I want to give you a specific example of exactly how man will use his own ingenuity and creations to divide the people of God whether they realize this or not. I’m not sharing this to condemn anyone’s particular motives, but to prove exactly how failing to obey God results in dividing the saints and ultimately aids our adversary in conquering over them. Please read what I am going to share carefully and then go to the website of this organization to verify what I am sharing herein.

Over the years most of us have seen numerous attempts to reform the church or Christians in general. From organizations like Campus Crusade and The Navigators to movements like The Jesus Movement or Promise Keepers, each has a thrust or a specific mission the founders aim to accomplish. Today not much has changed, the biggest and baddest these days being Purpose Driven, Word Faith, New Apostolic Reformation and the Emergent Church. All of these are specific streams or “movements” which all claim to be under the banner of “Christian” and helping to usher in a new reformation. I’m not going to discuss these today as I have before. Instead, I want to focus upon a smaller organization, and yet one which claims to be able to accomplish very similar goals as those above. Here are exact quotes from their internet site found upon their About Page:

“Inspiring the revolution of second”

“I am second is a movement meant to inspire people of all kinds to live for God and for others.” Here are some of the ways they claim you can help do this:

  • Talk to us
  • Spread the revolution of second
  • Start an I am second group
  • Serve through an I am second community service event
  • Organize your own I am second events
  • Sign up for an I am second expedition

Then a summation:

“I am second is designed to help people discover their purpose in life. Have you discovered yours?” followed by this:

“To find out more about the people and leadership team behind I am second you can check out Who We Are.

I initially heard about this organization on the radio. Then recently a new friend suggested I go to their site and watch some of the videos. Afterwards I forwarded the following thoughts in an email to him:

“There is no doubt that the testimonies I just watched were somewhat inspirational and the contributors did seem sincere in their apparent commitment to Jesus Christ. I found the one by the lead singer of Korn to be different than the rest, for only in his testimony was the result absolute abandonment to Jesus with no strings attached. In most if not all of the others, the former artists used their past “talents” and simply transferred them into the “Christian” arena. I find such an action highly suspect and their motives for supposedly receiving Jesus somewhat questionable. It’s highly likely that those with whom they associate are also questionable as to having genuine faith.

Sadly, the phrase ‘I am second’ is not even remotely scripturally supported. It would be much more accurate to say, ‘I am last,’ and ‘least of these’- meaning all of mankind. Needless to say, one who is least does not continue to promote themselves in any manner whatsoever regardless of what supposed talents they might possess. Christians that get paid monies to “exercise one’s spiritual gifts” does not resemble the free giving Jesus calls blessed but resembles more an act of one prostituting themselves for the sake of filthy lucre. No where in scripture do Christians even consider, let alone ask or demand to be paid for what God has given them for free.

In reality, and despite what appears once again to be a “good ministry” is just another man centered idea and attempt to get the message of Jesus around the world. The I am second campaign is all about ‘the ministry’ and everything from the T-shirts to the means they push “it” internationally prove this to be so. Regardless of who started it, it only sidetracks people once again from what Jesus is building on the local level through ekklesias. Instead of resting upon the real Jesus and following and obeying what He says in His Word, instead ‘I am second’ calls upon people to ‘join the revolution’ in the ‘name of I am second’ and along the construction lines of its founder and hired subordinate associates. If you read closely, one man, the founder of Interstate Batteries is running this show, by no means is it Jesus nor could it be.

Although this is not necessary to prove my points, I find it odd that not a single one of the many people testifying ever mentioned the authority of scripture or the need to repent from sin. The duck guys came close (try to do good) but this could easily send the wrong message. None of the speakers, despite talking about our need for Jesus ever mentioned or explained the true gospel. I would think, in obedience to Jesus Christ, that would be of far more value to those watching the videos than their support of a cause and organization which is using Jesus to support itself.

Jesus does not need another church, organization nor revolution originating with men to aid Him in accomplishing His will. He simply asks for the few faithful to join Him in what He is and has been building for 1700+ years. It’s downright amazing how many professing Christians not only refuse to do this, but actually think they are smarter than God in attempting to provide an alternative.

WE CAN DO BETTER

The primary problem with the organization above is the same as every organization and church that came before- they originate in the sinful hearts of men. We only need to look to the first three hundred years of the practice of Christianity God’s way to realize those people turned their world upside down. Likewise, we only need to look at the past 1700 to discover the results of man abandoning God’s way and replacing His way with what they believe is an acceptable substitute.

The obvious result of every religious organization and church despite the so-called good, is to divert the people away from devotion to the Person of Christ, the spiritual ekklesia He is building and the proper practice of sharing Jesus’ life one to another. This is done by introducing a secondary allegiance other than or in addition to Christ (such as a formal church or a group called I am second), a secondary methodology upon how to gather (such as church service or a I am second group) and finally the proof of where one’s devotion really resides though the promotion and recruitment of others to a church or organization instead of to Christ Himself. It goes without saying that where one’s heart is, that is where their treasure will be also- referring partially to their devotion and partially to where their resources are given in support of that devotion. That’s a quadruple whammy all in the wrong direction!

Next time we’ll discuss just how God Himself divides and conquers, and turns man’s own devices against themselves, all the while preserving and establishing the few who stay true to His Words.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts upon them…..is wise [Matthew 7:24]”

 

-to be continued