Friday, January 31, 2014

Reality Check

Then the chief priests and the elders assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Yeshua in some sly way and kill Him. – Mat 26:3-4

Literally, the highly regarded church leaders came together to plan the assassination of a man known to be innocent. These were no ordinary men; but rather, the pastors, evangelists, teachers, etc. of the day. They would have been greatly respected. Their advice would have been highly sought after and taken very seriously. People would have modeled their lives based on the words of their mouths. They were the considered spiritual elite, with men and women willingly submitting themselves to their authority and contributing to their support. Yet, here they were planning to commit serious sin merely to keep those positions of honor.

Jeremiah’s Israel was also plagued with men of revered spiritual station who ignored God’s law. The spiritual leaders of his day were complicit in child sacrifice, idol worship, and spurning God’s laws. I’m certain they, too, had grown quite comfortable with their authoritative role.

In fact throughout history man has been afflicted by those who claim to represent God, but are clearly far more concerned with themselves than the things of God. We have seen these men wield great earthly power and live opulent lives, openly flaunting an obvious a disregard for our example. (Remember, Christ never owned a home and had to borrow a ride. Mat 21:1-3, Luk 9:38) Some have even gone so far as to declare themselves equal to Christ, and their word as God’s law.

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. – Act 4:12

In addition, many have staunchly insisted that the common man should never attempt to interpret the word of God without their explicit guidance. Implying that the word of God was in no way intended for the common man, but only for those educated according to whatever denomination, etc. that particular leader adheres to. (Interestingly, it appears that none of the twelve were nearly so highly educated.) In effect the attitude is that while Christ did die for man, He did not desire to educate man on the value of that sacrifice. To be sure Christianity has been profaned because of these men.

In reality, men who seek such great power and wealth have, by the very nature of that quest, already disregarded the things of God.

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” – Mat 6:24

Still, they can appear to be holy while robbing others of their fortunes. They can speak the Scriptures without ever having been transformed by them. And, certainly, they can appear gentle and kind while conniving against the innocent.

I once knew a man, ordained by the church, who used to go to the local late-term abortuary. His “service” was to assist mothers in coming to terms with killing their children. He was a soft spoken, kindly-smiling, well-educated man of apparent affluence and outwardly gentle manner. Smiling sweetly, he would assure the mothers, “We don’t do anything mean to these children. Our methods are kind and gentle. You will not have wronged your child by aborting them. God is not going to be angry with you.”

How do I know? Well, he tried these assurances on me. Not that I had gone for an abortion, because I had not. No, he was just trying to convince me to stop pleading with the mothers to not kill their children -- stop offering them blankets, stop offering them assistance, and, most importantly, stop speaking the Scriptural truth.

Obviously, well to most anyway, this man did not work for God. He was nothing more than a wolf, profiting from the children’s deaths. However, to the unwitting he looked and sounded very proper. He was Biblically educated, had all the right credentials, and was, in fact, a properly ordained minister. He even had many of the right connections, being approved of by many. Certainly, he had the right approach, appearing gentle and compassionate. And by his affluence, he seemed to be espousing a very reasonable philosophy. Yet, his tongue spewed out nothing but self-serving lies.

Before you get too fired up against this man, look back at Matthew 26. The point is that sometimes those we value as spiritual leaders can be completely wrong. And it isn’t always so obvious, especially when the decisions are made – like they were with Christ – by a selected few in private.

Just like the Levitical priests of Christ’s day, denominational leaders today gather to discuss how to deal with the issues of this day. In these meetings abortion, for example, has gone back and forth -- at one point being considered, at another ignored. Yet, when the Scriptures are fully considered, it is clearly an issue for the church. On the other hand, some teach little besides prosperity, as if God really wants to bless a nation that ignores the shedding of innocent blood (Exo 23:7). Even some are saying that there are no more miracles. God has gone silent, according to them.

Obviously, not all Christian leaders are this far afield. The thing to remember, though, is that all Christian leaders are human; and therefore, fallible. So, what do we do?

Well, first off we need realize that God is never as inept as man thinks He is. He doesn’t make mistakes. He says exactly what He means and means exactly what He says. Further, having been intimately involved in the lives of men and women throughout our history, it follows that He remains so. Remember God does not change? Neither does God lie. So when He makes a promise, He honors it.

We have His word recorded for our use. Don’t buy into the ridiculous idea that only those educated by the church can understand it. God is NOT that inept. Therefore, we can take Him at his word when He says:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to whom who knocks the door will be opened.” – Mat 7:7-8

Brothers and sisters this is not a maybe so promise; but rather, a guaranteed assurance. If we seek, He will answer. If we ask for understanding, He will give it. As long as we are seeking in earnest with perseverance to His glory, He will respond. It’s just that simple.

What am I saying? Simply put, just because one is a leader, doesn’t mean everything that comes out of one’s mouth is straight from God. The Bible was given to us for a reason, that we might know the truth. God is still listening and responding to those who earnestly seek Him. So, do not just accept what you are fed, rather verify it. It could make an eternity of difference.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The True State of The Nation

by Betty Baker Bailey

Weep, for the children are dying;
More every passing day.
Weep, for the mothers are crying,
As in their hearts they pay.

Weep, for those who are trying
The children's lives to save.
Weep, for those denying
There is a life to save.

Weep, for those believing
They only need to pray.
Weep, for those deceiving
The innocent each day.

Weep, for ours is a nation
Whose time is passing by.
Weep, for those whose station
It is to fight and die.

Weep for the proud,
Who think they lead the way.
Weep, for the crowd
For they will surely pay.

Weep, with great sadness,
For the time is growing near.
Weep, allow no gladness,
Instead their cries do hear.

Weep with your heart.
Weep with your soul.
Weep and draw apart.
Weep and be of woe.

Weep, for we are guilty.
Weep, for we are weak.
Weep, for we are filthy.
Weep, for we do sleep.

Weep, for none are ready
For the coming day.
Weep, and be not steady.
The time has come to pay.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

In Honor of the Children: "Little Innocents"

Little Innocents
by Betty Baker Bailey

How do you sleep little child of my heart?
Are you afraid of the sounds in the dark?
Does your little heart race at your mother’s voice?
Are you terrified of her need for choice?

How do you dream little child all alone?
Do you think how you’d be if you ever got grown?
Do you wish for a kiss or a warm full breast?
Do you long for the peace of a safe night’s rest?

How is your life, little one, do you play?
Do you turn?  Do you kick?  Do you push away?
Do you look at your hands . . . your fingers or toes?
Have you reached out and touched the tip of your nose?

How do you grow, little one, in the womb?
Does each new cell bring the dread of your doom?
Do you hate each change?  Do they bring you fear?
Do you wonder why no one seems to hold you dear?

How do you fight, little one, for your life?
Do your little feet kick hard against the knife?
Do you try to hold on when the suctioning starts?
Does it hurt when they pull your limbs apart?

How do you die, little one, do you cry?
Do you wonder why your mom believed the lie?
Do you grab at the one who breaks your neck?
Do you doubt that anyone gives a heck?

How does it feel when you’re tossed to the side?
Do you hear or see the ones that denied
That you were alive in your mother’s womb;
That they killed you and put you in the tomb?

But what do they do with what’s left of you?
Do they put you away in a box that is new?
Do they sing you a song or shed a tear?
Or do they laugh a little and go have a beer?

Did you know your eyes are worth some money?
That your parts are used like bees use honey?
Though no one cared enough to let you live
They all care to see just how much you can give.

For each precious part there is now a price.
The ones who killed you think it’s quite nice.
They all line their wallets with your skin
And call it “just research” to your kin.

They who took an oath to “do no harm”
Destroy the hope of the unborn.
Taking little lives, they call them naught
Earning a profit from the anguish they’ve wrought.

And where is mom while this is done?
Does she fight for the life of her little one?
Is she screaming for help or running to hide?
Does she not hear the cries from deep down inside?

And dad, who’s so strong, why does he not care?
Does he not know the torture you endure there?
Doesn’t grandma or grandpa hear your plea,
“Will no one . . . no, no one please care for me?”

But wait, little one, surely there must be laws?
To take guiltless life must truly give pause?
Some penalty, some cost, some great price paid
By those who dare make your little light fade?

What justice will judges and rulers give you?
Surely they will defend you, as is your due?
Or will they also turn their face aside
And in their dark hearts the truth hide?

Let’s go to those who claim to speak for God;
Those who say they follow where Jesus trod.
They most surely must be screaming out in anger,
Warning against the impending danger.

Whatever will become of such a nation
Where innocents are given no earthly station;
Where helplessness is such a horrible curse;
And death is meted out to those who nurse?

Oh, where have you gone little one of my heart?
Little eyes, little fingers, little toes, little heart?
Do you look down on this world from Heaven above
And wonder . . . yes, wonder, what is this thing we call love?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Need to Share Christ

Christians are commanded to share the gospel. Christ died so that we might be reconciled to God. To not share this truth is to say we do not value that sacrifice. Eternity is forever. How have I helped anyone if I feed them for a day, but ignore their eternal destination? As Christians we certainly do care about the day to day needs of others, but we are compelled to also reach out to their souls. Hell is real. We are not talking about just the absence of God, but serious eternal punishment. Many who do not believe think that the absence of God would be nothing of consequence. What they fail to realize is that God blesses everyone in this life. Think about it. It doesn't just rain on the saved. The sun doesn't just rise on the saved. The absence of God equates to total depravity, then add punishment for rejecting the offer of His Son as your atonement. To ask a Christians to keep Christ to him/herself is to ask that they cease to be Christian. Because to be Christian is to be so completely moved by God's effort to save you -- knowing how utterly sinful and useless you are without Him -- that we cannot keep such good news to ourselves. That is what the gospel is -- the good news of God's great love for us who no more deserve it than a slug deserves to wear diamonds.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Necessity of Right Priorities

Then Yeshua came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth is
given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching
them to obey everything I have commanded you. – Mat 28:18-19

When we look at the way the Lord lived, we see a life of selfless, simplicity regarding the treasures of man. He never owned property nor did He amass physical wealth. Though He knew Judas was stealing from Him, it does not appear that the Lord even spoke to him about it. The reason for this is really very simple. Material wealth was not the Lord’s priority; but rather, the souls of men.

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near. – Mat 4:17

From the very beginning the Lord made it clear that He did not take human form to better Himself. No, He came that we might be reconciled to God. Being the Son of God He could have demanded a throne, mansions, etc. Certainly if anyone deserved to live as royalty, it would be Him. Yet, He neither sought it nor seemed to regard it. Neither did wealth or position sway Him, for He tended to the great and the small with the same regard.

In this parting instruction, Christ commands that we go and share the truth of the gospel. That we teach the importance of the obedience of faith, and that we baptize them into the family of God. Blatantly absent is even the suggestion that we are to focus on our own personal wealth.

We see the same selfless simplicity in the lives of the Disciples. Their time with the Lord, with the obvious exception of Judas, taught them to look for more important and eternal things. Paul did not even seek the rightful support of a Disciple, though he surely served as one. Instead, he preferred to pay his own way. He did not want it thought that he was motivated by anything other than an obedient reverence for the Lord.

But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with
anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. – 1 Cor 9:12

When the Lord sent out the Twelve, He gave them explicit instructions:

“As you go preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal
the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.
Freely you have received, freely give. Do not take along any gold or silver
Or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or
sandals or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his keep.” – Mat 10:7-10

Here again He fails to advise them to seek monetary benefits. Instead He asked them to point out that eternity is inevitable, and that the choices people make affect where they’ll spend it. In fact, the only payment they are advised to seek is for the provision of their immediate needs.

After the resurrection the Lord instructs Peter to “feed” His sheep (John 21). It is significant that He does this three times, because it tells us that feeding the flock is an integral part of a shepherd’s call. The words used for “feed” mean to provide nourishment and act as shepherd to. While material care does enter into the equation, it is spiritual care that is to be given the primary consideration. Notice that once again, the Lord does not tell Peter to seek his own personal gain or material blessings for this effort. He is to be diligent about tending to the needs of the flock, but not concerned with material gain for himself.

Today many ministries focus on little besides material wealth. Their leaders lead lives of outrageous opulence, urging their followers to “give in the manner they want to receive”. They attempt to trade the blessings of God by making it sound like God’s desire to bless is greater than all His other attributes. There is little or no focus on the cost of salvation, the believer’s obligation to faithful obedience, or the holiness of God. They teach the love of God, but ignore the fact that it was the holiness of God that required blood atonement for our sins. It’s a little like stroking a lion’s mane without regard for his teeth.

Here’s the thing: The Gospel of Christ is focused on souls. Our commission from Him is that we also be focused on souls. Look again at the Scripture from the beginning of this discussion. Search the New Testament. Christ did not teach that we should seek material wealth. He did not die that we might experience such wealth, either. No, Christ taught that we should have the priorities of God, seeking to reach the lost and teaching the truth of His word, and He died to provide salvation for our souls. He also taught that sharing the truth of the gospel required sacrifice.

Yeshua replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests,
but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” – Mat 8:20

“A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It
is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant
like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub,
how much more the members of his household!” – Mat 10:24-25

Some will still say, “What does it matter for blessings are also Scriptural?” Yes, blessings are Scriptural, but take a long look. New Testament blessings are far more concerned with healing, deliverance, peace, daily needs, joy, love, faith, the gifts of the Spirit, and etc. It’s not that God cannot give us earthly treasure; but rather, that His desire is that we have true treasure expressed by the evidence of His Spirit in us and an eternity in heaven with Him.

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love
the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You
cannot serve both God and money.” – Mat 6:24

The Lord is actually quite clear here. IF we are focused on wealth, we are NOT focused on Him. We will gravitate to God or make a god of money, because our hearts cannot be bound to both. Literally, if our priority is material wealth, then it is not set on the things of God.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust
destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves
treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where
thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your
heart will be also.” – Mat 6:19-21

Did your mother ever give you money for lunch that you spent on candy or junk food? Now, Mom, probably wouldn’t have minded if you had gotten a little something after you had lunch, but replacing it with junk was another matter altogether.

Just so focusing on blessings/prosperity perverts the order of God’s will. We are to seek Him first and primarily then, as we continue to abide in His will, these other things are added. Never are we told that it is acceptable for us to replace seeking to serve Him as our God with seeking to be blessed by Him. It is what many have done, but it does not reflect what the Scriptures teach.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these
things will be given to you as well.” – Mat 6:33

Being focused on wealth has led many down a dark and deadly path. God’s position of authority has been disregarded in our nation, because profit was preferable to His laws. Truths have been ignored, because unhappy pew warmers could result in a loss of tithes. Some avoid Christian businesses altogether, expecting to be taken advantage of there. Others have even gone as far as to assert that killing their children (via abortion) was “God approved”, because they deserved to be blessed monetarily. Certainly, faithful brothers and sisters have been tortured and killed the world over, while we fought to protect our economy. And there are so many more examples it’s just sad.

By its very nature focusing on wealth takes our focus off of the things of God. We have gone from exalting the Lord to exalting the profitability of the “business” of the gospel. Worse, when the pursuit of that gospel business jeopardizes a fellow believer, many claim that their right to be blessed surpasses all else. Yet, Christ is our primary example, and He took advantage of no one.

Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. – 1 Cor 16:24

This desperate need for prosperity is like a cancer. It takes the focus off of God and places it on things. True blessings and miracles are cut off, because our heart is not truly His. Even with the deterioration of this nation most fail to make the connection, but I tell you the truth: The preference of wealth over God is the root of much of the affliction we see today. If you have ears that hear, understand that the judgment we are experiencing is the result of our turning from the truth of Scripture to the love of wealth. In fact, we have turned so far, that many professing Christians do not really even understand who the Biblical Christ is.

The holiness of God does not allow for our hypocrisy. We are either His or we are not. If we are His, our hearts will be primarily concerned with the things of His heart. When our primary concern is the material blessings of this world, we have stopped serving Him and started serving ourselves. Most prosperity teachers do not cover this truth well, but the Scriptures are clear. The confusion is of man, because the heart of man – without God – is desperately evil, making good look bad and evil appear very delectable.

God’s peace.