Category Archives: Spiritual Disciplines

These posts infuse Christian Precepts into our lives as practiced beliefs; they are the disciplines we put into practice in our daily life.

Declare to Jacob his Transgression

Micah 3:8 “I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.”

The last thing I want to do is inspire someone who is not called of God to start rebuking the Church. God calls the humble, not the prideful, and empowers them by His grace and the Holy Spirit to preach His living word to the stubborn, obstinate, and self-righteous. But rather, I want to expose a deception that claims God does not send His servants to expose transgression.

Ezekiel 3:18-19 “When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die’, and you do not warn him, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet if you warn the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your soul.'”

God does raise up servants, whom He charges with His word to preach against the wicked. He gives them an anointing and a responsibility to carry the message that He gives them. These preachers are not to speak where God has not spoken, nor are they to be silent when God has spoken!

I believe cowardice on the one hand, and presumption on the other, are the primary reasons the Western Church is in such decline – cowardice on the part of those who were entrusted with God’s message to rebuke and warn but didn’t, and presumption on the part of those who were not call to preach but did!

Isaiah 66:2 “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”

God does not look upon the proud, the contentious, the arrogant and boastful; He will not call them to be His preachers. God looks upon the humble and contrite of spirit, and upon the one who trembles at His word! He does not call those who are ready to “call fire down from heaven” (Luke 9:55) to preach for Him without first reforming them, rather, He calls those who say “we are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done” (Luke 17:10); neither does God call those who use His word for their own purposes, but He calls those who quake within at the sound of His Word!

The Church is not purifying herself through the blood of Christ and the washing of the water of the Word like she is called to; so many continue practicing sin and are not mournful for it, but instead, many even boast in this! The Church must open her ears and begin listening to the truth being preached by God’s true servants.

Ephesians 4:17-18 “From now on you must not walk as the Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their minds, having their understanding darkened, excluded from the life of God through the ignorance that is within them due to the hardness of their hearts.”

In closing I wish to encourage those who are called by God to preach His word: if you preach God’s word, you will be surrounded by enemies and those closest to you will turn on you, but do not fear!  For “the LORD is your light and your salvation; whom shall you fear?  The LORD is the strength of your life; of whom should you be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)  You will not be without trials and tribulation, but Christ is your portion and the hope of your soul; delight yourself in Him and you will not be disappointed!

The Cross

Are you struggling with addictive sins?

“If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” ~Luke 9:23

Self-denial in response to Jesus is how we pick up the cross to follow Him. The cross is the Truth of the Spirit by which our flesh is put to death.

As remarkably simple as this is to understand, it remains a gruesome and painful discipline to practice!

These two elements of self-denial and truth are necessary to Christian living; “if you love your life”, as Jesus said, “you shall die, but if you lose your life for My sake, then you shall live” (Lk 9:24). You must forsake your life- denying yourself, in response to Christ, of those things that are so desperately craved by the flesh.

IF YOU HAVE ADDICTIVE SIN: when you feel the impulse of sin in your flesh, reach for the Bible and mark those words whereby you are called by Christ to forsake the flesh and read them; kneel yourself in prayer and do not rise until the Holy Spirit has accomplished His work and you are free again in Christ! Persevere in this and you will find that the flesh will die and you will be free!

WARNING: beware of self-righteousness being masked as the cross. You may recognize the tell tale signs of this when you begin preemptively denying yourself things that Christ has not called you to forsake and then binding them on others. The wisdom here speaks this way: let that which Christ has spoken in the Word be for all, and keep that which is spoken in your conscience be for yourself.

“For many are walking in such a way that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ. I have told you of them often and tell you again, even weeping. Their destination is destruction, their god is their appetite, their glory is in their shame, their minds are set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, from where also we await for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our body of humiliation, so that we may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working of His power even to subdue all things to Himself” ~Philippians 3:18-21

The Glory of Christ

I am yet again arrested in my study by the splendid contemplation of the glory of Christ!  And surely it is by the Spirit of Christ who dwells within me that I can sense Christ’s own zeal to reveal His glory to me! 

“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with me where I am”, Jesus prayed, “that they may behold My glory…” (John 17:24)

I must wonder, do I know how strongly Christ desires to reveal His glory to me?  For surely if I knew, if I was really convinced and convicted that Christ longs for me to see His glory, I would be renewed in my faith daily and my love would not grow weary! 

But there is a terrifying thought that plagues my mind; it is more frightening than any other nightmare I have ever had: it is the thought that the human mind and human spirit might become altogether inhospitable to the glory of Christ!  What I mean by that is that the mind might become so inhospitable to the glory of Christ that it simply cannot endure the contemplation of His glory by faith anymore; that the human spirit might become altogether adverse towards the glory of Christ and could no longer abide before the face of Jesus Christ!  Oh God what a frightful thought! 

A second frightful thought to me is this; that some poor soul could hear what I’ve just said and be so unmoved as to say within themselves, “well I never think on the glory of Christ and I’m ok, so what’s the deal?”  That someone could come to the point of realization where they perceive that they do not think much on the glory of Christ and have such darkness in their mind so as to reassure themselves in this condition that they are still ok is a truly terrifying thought to me! 

What’s the big deal?”!  I’m not embellishing my speech right now; I really do have to ask myself how “carnal” and how “dark” have our minds become today that we are not struck by how little Jesus Christ is glorified in the Church. 

What’s the big deal?” is that God has divinely and extraordinarily shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of His glory in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6); to glorify Jesus Christ is the great work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:14)!  And sometimes it seems like we don’t at all seem disturbed that Jesus is not being exalted and glorified among us!

I am not talking about the emotional experiences, exuberant demonstrations, or the magnificent performances that have become the cheap external substitutes for the glory of Christ in our day.  I am talking about the heart-bending, faith-building, strength-giving, hope-rising, love-purifying glory of Christ that captivates the soul with the beauty of His holiness!

John Owen wrote the following:

Let us live in the constant contemplation of the glory of Christ, and virtue will proceed from him to repair all our decays, to renew a right spirit within us, and to cause us to abound in all duties of obedience.

It will fix the soul unto that object which is suited to give it delight, complacency, and satisfaction… when the mind is filled with thoughts of Christ and his glory, when the soul thereon cleaves unto him with intense affections, they will cast out, or not give admittance unto, those causes of spiritual weakness and indisposition.

And nothing will so much excite and encourage our souls hereunto as a constant view of Christ and his glory. 1

1. The Glory of Christ, The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, 1850-53, (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1965), I, 460-461

I came across this quote from something John Piper wrote on the glory of Christ, and I cannot raise any more apt response from my heart than  “amen!”

The soul that is fixated on the glory of Christ is not so easily rattled!  Such a bond with Christ will, as Owen wrote, cast away or give no place to our spiritual weaknesses and indispositions.  But such a bond with Christ will also draw in and give sanctuary to those divine attributes of God that give us great spiritual strength and inclination that we find utterly lacking in our flesh!

Why, when such a delight awaits us in Christ, might we feel so burdened by deep contemplation of the glory of Christ? 

It may be that we are driving the Holy Spirit from His sanctuary in our heart.  Consider carefully Ezekiel 8:6 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11,19 & 20.  If we drive the Spirit from the sanctuary of our heart by sin, we drive away Him who is appointed to glorify Christ from the very place in this fallen world where Christ’s glory is revealed! 

It may also be that we have not exalted God to glory in our own lives, nor have regarded Him as holy.  Consider carefully Leviticus 10:3.

Whatever we find that drives the glory of God from our minds so that His glory cannot abide long in our hearts and in our minds, my heart is stirred today to call on the Lord and ask for the grace of the Spirit to reveal Christ in glory to me!

“Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts…” (1 Peter 3:15)

The Preacher

What is a preacher?  What’s the function of a preacher?

I think it’s helpful when discussing different parts of the body to reiterate that the Body is healthiest when every part works together with the whole towards faithfulness to Christ (Ephesians 4:16). Every member is vital to the healthy functioning of the Body as a whole.  But what happens when the multiplicity of Body parts stops working in unison and the Body begins to be deceived and led astray?

God sends His preachers to call the Body back into the way.

“Preachers” come in many different forms- they are not a stagnant office.  Preachers are those God entrusts to deliver His message to His people; there have been many preachers in scripture called to be deliver God’s word; Solomon (Ecc. 1:1, 12); Noah (2 Peter 2:5); Jonah (3:1-2); John the Baptist (Mark 1:4); and Jesus (Mark 4:17). The apostle Paul wrote, “for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth” (1 Timothy 2:7 and 2 Timothy 1:11).

Anyone can be called by God to be a preacher because “preaching” is simply “the act of exhorting, prophesying, reproving, or teaching”. That’s why we have Solomon, who was a king, but also a preacher. Noah, who was a patriarch (essentially an elder), but was also a preacher. Jonah was a prophet, but also a preacher. Paul, who was an apostle as well as a teacher, also identified himself as one “appointed as a preacher”.

The preacher is a functional position, not a stagnant office.  The preacher is known for his message, not his presentation or charisma. For the preacher, nothing is more important than what he has to say from God.  He never speaks for himself.  He is God’s messenger, and God’s messenger alone.

I believe the Church needs God-sent preachers today.  But where are these voices calling us back to God through repentance?

In view of the great evil’s in our society today, the lack of such voices crying out should be cause of grave concern and trembling!  It should drive every one of us to our knees daily, begging God to send out His servants to give us another chance to repent!

The Devil’s U.N. Arms Resolution

Some of you might be thinking that I am getting ready to write about Obama’s recent endorsement of the United Nation’s “Small Arms resolution”, but those of you who know me know that I’m not. I’m going to talk about something far more sinister: the Devil’s agenda to disarm the Church of the Sword of the Spirit.

How many times have you heard someone say “theology isn’t going to save anyone, they just need to be loved”? If you’ve believed this lie, then Satan has just taken his first step in disarming you of your most effective and divinely-powerful weapon: the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

Technically “theology” means “the study of God”, but to most people they simply equate it with the Bible period.

There’s an idea that people “are just hurt and needing love”, and I don’t disagree that people are hurt, but, this is not an accurate depiction of their condition as a whole. See, there are plenty of people who would not self-identify themselves as “hurt” people; they enjoy reasonably healthy relationships, love their jobs, and have lives full of healthy hobbies, but they are utterly and completely damned to condemnation. That is right: you can be a healthy, happy, reasonable citizen of this world and be condemned by God. Nurturing people’s emotional wounds is not the Church’s job; we were not called to be nurse-maid to the world. Don’t get me wrong, we tenderly care to the suffering- especially those of the Church Body- and we are eager to care for the wounds of those who have been cast aside by society. But the Church has traditionally understood that all this was a bi-product of our greater calling: to preach the gospel to a lost and dying world so that they can be truly and wholly healed by Jesus Christ and saved from their sins and the death thereby produced.

When we hear the idea expressed that we need to “set aside the preaching of God’s word” so that we can focus on “loving on the hurt”, we are hearing Satan’s attempt to persuade the Church to lay down our sword and stop fighting.

Certainly this approach will temporarily draw larger numbers, but, what will the end of this be? What will happen to those people once they are healed? They didn’t want God before they were hurt, and God wasn’t shown to them while they were hurt. What makes us think that they will want God once they are “back to normal” and doing well? God was not what drew them in the first place. And if they stick around, it will not be because of God, but it will be for the relationships that they have formed during their difficult times. While strong relationships in the body are vital, these relationships alone count for nothing if God is not their substance and life-source.

Yet the Church has shown a perplexing propensity to ashamedly throw down our swords the moment anyone cries “offense!”

Church leadership everywhere is scrambling to draw up “more effective plans” to reach the world without any offense; without exposing ourselves as being followers of Christ! But what this has produced is a generation of Christians who do not know the foundations of our faith- they do not know what they believe, or why they believe it- and they are unable to contend for the faith in a world composed of many very hostile world-views!
But as for me? I believe in God’s Word and trust in the Truth that is enlightened thereby. I believe that even when it appears that the Word only ever offends the world, it is accomplishing things that I cannot yet perceive and I will see the fruits of this work one day- whether in this world or the one to come. I will continue to preach the Word and live thereby until the end; I will walk in the light provided for my feet by God’s word, and beckon to my brothers and sisters to join me in walking the narrow path together.

Some argue that we cannot live by the Word because it is too divisive.

Yes, the Word is divisive; Jesus never concealed the fact that He “didn’t come to bring peace on the earth, but a sword”, as He said “for I came to set a man at odds against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Matthew 10:34-35). But, Christ also prayed “Sanctify them in Your truth. Your word is truth… that they may all be one” (John 17:17, 21), and again it is written, “be eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). Many divisions in the Body today occur not because Christ has divided, but because we demand our own ways and are unwilling to relent according to the heavenly wisdom that descends from above (James 3:17). Though these divisions are unnecessary, they nonetheless succeed in dividing the stubborn and divisive brother or sister from the body.

So I must ask, will you throw down the Word because you are ashamed of Christ and do not want to be set apart from this world as holy to God? Or will you take up the sword of the Spirit- the Word of God- and engage a relentless and vicious enemy?

It’s your decision. You decide.

IN TUMULTUOUS TIMES

In tumultuous times it is very easy to become distracted and get swept away by the tides of society.

By simple observation I believe tumultuous times are coming to the U.S.  We can easily see diametrically opposed powers lining up against each other that are utterly incapable of reconciling themselves to one another.  Even more than that, we cab see dramatic shifts in the bedrock of American culture and values; such shifts are fracturing families, friendships, and churches in ways that no one had previously imagined.  No country can sustain this kind of divisiveness for long before the sheer weight exerted on it by such contentions brings the whole thing crumbling down.  Unfortunately there is a spirit of divisiveness in the land and it is wrecking havoc!

It is easy in light of these events to speculate about the coming end times, and while we are assured of both the signs of the end times and the certainty of their coming, Christians must not become unstable or lose the soberness of our mind during these times.  It is imperative that we look to God for counsel in these days so that we may live blameless and holy in His sight in this generation.

So what is the Church to do as we look upon our nation that has long been the epicenter of lust, covetousness, pride, and violence; what are we do to as we see that same lust, covetousness, pride, and violence consuming the nation from the inside out?

STRENGTHEN THE HANDS WHICH HANG DOWN

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.  Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.  For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. ~Hebrews 12:12-17

The things we are observing in our time should only emphasize our need to “strengthen that which remains”; we need to look to those in our brotherhood that are weak, discouraged, weighed down but not cut off, and we need to strengthen them while there is time to straighten out our paths.

I believe it is a mistake to assume that we will get our houses in order when the pressure comes, when those things that will make up our trial arrive.

WATCH AND PRAY

Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation ~Matthew 26:41

Repeatedly Jesus exhorted the disciples to “watch and pray”.  The days ahead will be difficult for the Church, especially those who have not exercised themselves to godliness, and those who are disconnected from the body, but how much more perilous will those days be for those who did not “watch and pray”?

Do you know the signs of our dear Lord’s return?  Are you “keeping watch”?  Have you sought the Lord’s counsel lately, and besought His mercy?

PREACH THIS GOSPEL AND MAKE DISCIPLE UNTO THE END

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. ~Mt. 24:14

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. ~Mt. 28:19-20

Many in the Church today have laid down their swords in cowardice before a seemingly overwhelming enemy and refused to fight the good fight; their condemnation is just (Revelation 21:8).

But we are not without might in this generation; the power of God for salvation is sharp and sure, it has not been blunted, nor has it been compromised.

I believe that it is the duty of the Church in the face of all that we face to take up the fight with greater boldness and preach “repentance in the name of Jesus Christ in light of the Kingdom of God”; for the righteous to do any less is an egregious sin.

LET THE CHURCH BE THE CHURCH

I believe the day warrants the elders and pastors of the Church meeting together to seek counsel from God on how they ought to walk in these difficult times.

So what is the answer for the Church in light of these troubled times, and even more so as we approach the end?  I believe the answer is to let the Church be the Church!

 

Is Porn Sin?

If it came out that your pastor was addicted to pornography, would you ask him to step down?

If it came out that you were addicted to pornography, would you understand if your spouse left you for marital unfaithfulness?

Pornography is not talked about even though reports estimate that over 70% of the Church, and 30% of pastors, are addicted to it.  But it is more than that, pornography (which is adultery) is killing the Church faster than divorce and homosexuality combined because almost no one views it as even in the same league as adultery!  Pornography is right up there along with covetousness (which is idolatry) as one of the most tolerated deadly sins in the Church!

Listen up brethren.  Do you know why so many people in the Church remain addicted to pornography?

Because we do not have this:

“The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate.” Proverbs 8:13

“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28

Do you know that God hates your pornography? Or do you believe that He will simply scold you at the pearly gates and then welcome you in as a beautiful sinner that He simply couldn’t stand to live without?

Here’s what you need to understand about pornography; porn is not something outside you, like some external element of your life like food and drink, porn is the condition of your heart. That is right. Pornography is the condition of your heart. It’s not just a “reflection” of your heart, it is the condition of your heart. You lust after those who commit shameful acts with each another because your heart covets the things of the flesh.

I’m willing to wager that there are very few of you out there that understand pornography better than I do.  My corpse that hangs on Christ’s cross was addicted to pornography for more than 15 years of my life.

For far too long I would not acknowledge what I just said above because I did not understand it, and was far too prideful to admit the level of depravity that my heart still embraced. But even more than that, I would not admit the severity of God’s judgment upon my sin!

If you do not have the fear of God, you will never wholly depart from pornography, you will simply take it under control to the degree that is acceptable in your life. And if you come to God on judgment day with that heart, you will not enter His Kingdom.

Brethren, with all the love of Christ I urge you today, REPENT!

You cannot overcome this sin with the gospel of accommodation.  Neither can you overcome this sin with the gospel of legalism.  The only way for your heart to be transformed is the true and authentic gospel of Jesus Christ, full of both grace and truth- embracing both the fear of God and the mercy of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

You must repent of this sin in light of the gospel.

Simplicity of Faith

Today I would like to ask the question “what is the simplicity of faith?”

I believe this question is so relevant because of the complexity that we see all around us bogging so many souls down till they become stuck and are unable to move forward.

To understand “Simplicity of faith” we must understand that it does not denote any measure of being “shallow”,  rather it speaks of the nature of our faith.

Simply put we are talking about a faith that walks in the Spirit with love from a pure heart, a clean conscience, and sincerity.

“Simplicity of faith” is had by those who walk in the Spirit by faith.  Whoever walks in the simplicity of faith does not have to see before they go because they are led by the Holy Spirit and the word of God illuminates their steps.  Therefore they walk with a mighty love that comes from a pure and undefiled heart, a conscience that is clear of any accusation of impure motives, and an earnest trust in the Living One who guides them.

Simplicity of faith receives with meekness the implanted word of God into the heart with joy and gladness for the salvation it brings!

The highest virtue of a simple faith is to “love God with all the heart, with all the soul, with all the mind, and with all the strength”- from such a perfect condition as this the faith of a child is able to walk in holiness to a degree that the greatest intellects and mightiest wills could never dream of!

 

The great philosophical minds sit around on leather couches debating what it means to “go and make disciples of Christ”, while those children of the faith lace up their shoes with gospel-readiness and go out to make disciples of Christ, being fully sufficient for the task because of Him who dwells in them!

Who has heard the living word of God speak and followed it with joy and gladness of heart?  This one has simplicity of faith.  And so walk, and so do, as those who walk by faith and who do by the power of the Holy Spirit!  Amen!

 

A Young Man’s Guard Against Pride

For the past month I have been reflecting on how young men can guard themselves from pride.  It seems that pride is perhaps the greatest foe young men of God face; it has the capacity to distort our zeal and our knowledge.

With this in mind, I want to draw our attention to a passage in scripture that I am convinced is appointed as guard to the young man’s soul against the awful onslaught of pride.

GUARDING THE TONGUE AGAINST PRIDE

The tongue is the favored instrument of pride; it speaks great boasts and is used to exalt itself over others.  We all know that pride can inflict great wounds as it uses the tongue to trample others down.

But what can be done to resist pride’s surge into our life so that we might have time to humble ourselves before the Lord?

Let every man be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. ~James 1:19-20

This discipline of giving place to others by exercising a readiness to listen and a slowness to speech is one that severely limits pride’s opportunity to take hold of the tongue for its own purposes.

If we as young men learn this principle, we will have a strong guard in our life against pride.

Giving place to others allows us to take a position of meekness and give honor to others.  It gives us time to consider our words and examine our heart.

HUMILITY

To practice this discipline it is necessary that we have both resolve and humility.  We must be willing to be last, and even unheard if necessary.  And we must have strength of resolve not to give place to the tongue that will surely “quake” within us as it seeks opportunity to speak those unwanted words of pride!

WHY SLOWNESS?

Reflect on “why” pride prefers a ready tongue to a reluctant one.

A ready tongue is unbridled and easier to sway, whereas a reluctant one is under the control of a greater authority and much more difficult to persuade.

Most importantly, the Devil prefers a ready tongue because a ready tongue cannot impart grace.  Grace takes time to cultivate.  It has the meekness of the Lamb.  But when it comes, it comes with the power of the King!

A reluctant tongue cultivates grace and is able to impart grace to its listeners.

EXHORTATION

In reflecting on my own past I have observed how the vast majority of my mistakes were made in being too quick to speak.

Be willing to listen and concern yourself with the concerns of others.  In this you will find wisdom and peace.