Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Silence of the...

FREEDOM. What does it mean? Who does it apply to? Is it really free? These are all questions which have come to light over the generations. Once again, the question has come to light in the form of the media. As many of you have probably heard, Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, recently made several racist remarks while in an argument with his girlfriend. If you listened to the audio clip, you probably heard her baiting him into saying more and more. Whereas I question the ethics (or lack thereof) within the deceit, he did still make the statements. Though he may have been baited, we know that the only thing to come out of the mouth of a man is that which is already in his heart (Luke 6:45). Ultimately, we have seen that Donald Sterling is a bigot. This is the inescapable truth. As a result, Adam Silver, the Commissioner of the NBA, took action in the form of banning Sterling from anything NBA related and fining him $2.5 million. On top of this, he is pushing for Sterling to be forced to sell the team to a new owner.

There are many out there who think this is a valiant move. Donald Sterling is the new trend. A quick look at Facebook, Twitter, or any other media outlet will show countless individuals praising Silver for his quick decision. There are herds of celebrities who are condemning Sterling as a hateful bigot. Multiple sponsors of the Clippers have withdrawn their support. It’s clear what the world thinks of this man. On the flip side, you have others who feel the punishment is unjustified since they were the beliefs of a single man in his private life. They say that, since Sterling never publicly vocalized his beliefs and never discriminated against anybody, he hasn’t done anything worthy of a punishment. Personally, though I think he is a despicable man, I still find myself in the latter category. However, for the purpose of this blog, that’s neither here nor there.

In this moment, I’d like you to think of the future. We’ve seen how the lynch
mob mentality can silence individuals. Let a man speak an opinion that goes against what the masses believe and he’s sure to receive backlash. We saw this when Chick-Fil-A President, Dan Cathy, made a public comment regarding his belief in marriage being between one man and one woman. The backlash was everything from vandalism to sponsor withdrawal to media fire. Where will we, as Christians, stand in the future?

While I see Sterling in the current news, I can’t help but think of what lies ahead. You can agree or disagree with the NBA’s decision but it won’t change the fact that we all need to be concerned about our freedom to follow Christ unashamed (Romans 1:16; 2 Timothy 1:8). You may think this is unrelated. What on earth does a bigot being shunned and punished have to do with a Christian standing up to values that God Himself has instated? Well, how do we define values in the world? Can you honestly say that your values line up perfectly with the values of the atheist next door? Do they align themselves perfectly with the homosexual across the street? For that matter, do they even align themselves perfectly with the professing Christian in the pew next to you on Sunday mornings? Truth be told, values differ from person to person regardless of their walk of life. That being said, if we are to take the different walks of life into account, we can see a stark contrast between what Christianity teaches as good and what the world professes to be good (Isaiah 5:20). As a result, if you stand for Christ, you are sure to receive backlash at some point.

We live in a world where atheism is on the rise. Whereas I don’t hate atheists, I will unashamedly speak out against atheism as I find it to be blasphemous against the Lord. I’ve learned to refine my methods over the years but there are still many who view me as arrogant, ignorant, or hateful. Just as with Cathy, if a Christian dares to say marriage is between one man and one woman, he is viewed as an anti-gay bigot. While it isn’t a fair assessment, sadly, it is the way it is. If a man such a Sterling can be silenced for NOT vocalizing his beliefs, how much more should we expect to be silenced when we DO proclaim ours? What kind of punishment does the future hold for Christians who stand for Christ? Taking it one step further, will we see a day when Christians are punished simply for holding a private belief in Christ even if they never make it known? In fact, we have a biblical example of this in the form of Nicodemus (John 3:1-21). He had to sneak out in the middle of the night to see Christ because, if he had made his beliefs known, he would have not only been punished but he also would have surely lost his status as one of the Sanhedrin. Joseph of Arimathea is another prime example (John 19:39).

I think we’ve taken our freedom and liberty for granted for far too long. This didn’t always exist. There was a time when followers of Christ had to live in fear of what the masses would do to them if they ever found out what they believed in. Christianity is being shunned more and more by the world. It’s being viewed as an organization which consists of nothing more than hypocrites and extreme zealots. As this caricature gains popularity, I foresee many problems coming our way. Are you prepared to be silenced?

~ Travis W. Rogers

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I Am A Wreck

I am a wreck...
No, seriously I am a mess...
I am a walking talking mess of a man...
There isn't a day that goes by when I am not fully and painfully aware of this reality. In fact, more often than not, I am reminded of this truth by the people I am closest to; those who live with me on a daily basis and interact with me because they really don't have a choice. You know the type of people I am talking about; wife, kids, family, friends, fellow members of my local body. Those type of people. The kind of people that each of us has in our own little world and sphere of influence, the same kind of people that each of us is surrounded by on a daily basis. I know this probably shocks all of you to read this confession by me, but I felt it best to get it out there in the open sooner rather than later.

See, I say things and do things all of the time that I do not mean to be offensive. Things that I do not even realize at times that are hurting people I love dearly. And it isn't my mouth or my hands or my feet that get me in trouble. It is my heart.
But here is something even more revealing, I am an even bigger wreck than that. I am the kind of wreck that doesn't just do property damage; you know the kind. The kind that puts a hole in your roof. Nope, more than that, far worse really.
I am a train wreck...
I am a massive train wreck of a man...
I am a full on, stop the presses, call out the local media and take pictures of the bodies left behind kind of train wreck...

In fact I am an even bigger wreck than a train wreck...
I am catastrophe of epic proportions...
I am the collapse of a mega-building...
I mean if I am being brutally honest about myself, which I think we should all be, I am far worse than I could ever imagine on my own. Nothing drives this home to me like living in a world surrounded by the self-professed righteous and upstanding people of the world. I am seemingly surrounded by people inside the church and outside of her that have it all figured it out, and they are not afraid to make sure that I and everyone around them are aware of this. It is like living in a shadow all of the time. It might be cool on a hot day, but once you have been there in the shadow long enough you begin to crave the light and the heat of being exposed to something real and transparent.  In fact like anything in God's creation, you need the light to grow.

I just don't have it all figured it out. I don't have it in me to try and convince anyone that I do. I am a wreck. I am embrace that. And it is not done gleefully either. It is done in sorrow and brokenness. I am grieved in my heart at the damage I have done to those I care the most about. It is devastating to me to realize that I have caused irreparable harm to so many relationships that are so important to me. Not the least of which is the damage I have done to my family.

I have been doing this Christian walk thing for a bit over ten years. That is barely spit in the wind compared to most of the people I know. In fact many of the people I know who are brethren are far younger than me and having been walking with Christ for a lot longer. What I wonder is how can so many seem to have it all together? How do they get to that point? Because I struggle all of the time. Sometimes I don't even struggle, sometimes I see sin sitting at my door and I pick it up and carry it across the threshold and welcome it in. I've got nothing figured out but this one thing, I am the chief of sinners. And I will wrestle with Paul to admit this truth:

12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.Amen.
1 Timothy 1:12-17

This is what I am pushing at here. I just can't be perfect, I can't be everything that others seem to be. I am not capable of walking around with the facade of perfection or perfect composure that so many others seem to muster. Maybe this is my weakness and sin. No wait, not maybe, it is in reality my weakness and my sin.It is where I am. And as much as I strive every day to not be that person, I continue to fail and I need to know I am safe living that out transparently. It is this reality that drives me daily to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is this knowledge of who I am without Christ and even who I tend be with Him, that keeps me from being an even bigger arrogant and condescending jerk than I would be on my own.

This is the reality of who I am. This is the reality I live with every day. And maybe this confession will forever taint me in the eyes of so many within the Church Universal. But it is out there, and it is real, and while I regret the fact that I am all-too-often a willing accomplice in my weakness and sin. It is needful for me to be transparent in this way for the very reason that Paul gives in verse 16 above, "But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life." So I may never serve as a leader or as an example to anyone in a local body anywhere that I live, but God will work through me for His purpose of displaying to the lost people of the world what His perfect patience and forbearance look like.

So yes, I am a wreck of a man. And oh how I hate it, but because of it I never forget my God and what it is He did for such a wretch as I. A blasphemer and a persecutor and an insolent opponent. I will never forget the pit He pulled me out of according to His loving and sovereign will because I simply could never merit such love and grace...

And to those of you that I so often hurt and damage. I am so sorry, I am so very very sorry... 

Soli Deo Gloria!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Heaven is For Real

So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. ~ 2 Peter 1:19

Heaven.  It is the place most desired among men.  Heaven.  It is the place that garners so much intrigue in the minds and conversation of men.  Heaven.  It is the place that holds such mystery as to what it is really like. With so much wonder of this place and with it being the destination of so many, what is it like? Who goes there?  What takes place there?

Well first of all, God is there.  Yes, God, very God who created everything and rules over everything.  He is there.  Heaven wouldn't be heaven if God was not there.  Yet, isn't it strange that men created in His image do not want to have God on earth but when they come to die, they want to be in heaven, where God dwells?

    “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them ~ Revelation 21:3

What else can we expect in heaven?  No tears.  No death.  No sadness.  No pain.  No sin.  "Hey, wait a minute, leave that sin stuff out of this!"  No, no, we're talking about murder, theft, abuse, things like that.  "Oh, ok.  Proceed."  Yeah, things that you did on earth.  You know, all those times you murdered another with your hatred because after all Jesus, the God of heaven, said whoever hates his brother has committed murder in his heart.  (Matthew 5:21-22)  But we'll stop there as that alone is enough to condemn you to that other place that very few want to go to.

          and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”~ Revelation 21:4

This is just a taste of what we know of heaven and just how do we know about heaven?

The Holy Scriptures.

No other source.  Not men nor 4 year old boys who have visions of heaven.  Nor hucksters looking for a buck from gullible people with pockets deep enough to throw good money down the dirty sewer of cleverly devised fables. (2 Peter 1:16)

So when Todd Burpo tickles your ears by exploiting his own flesh and blood by telling you that Jesus rides a rainbow colored horse, disregard it as at best, an overactive imagination from a kid still euphoric over a visit to the Emerald City.  At worst, and probably more likely, a dad who has given his son the kool-aid of a fish story the size of Greenland.  Or when you're told that Mary the mother of Jesus has dark hair and brown eyes (tough stretch on that one) and has a light over her head, please point that description out to me from scripture!

But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. ~ 2 Peter 1:20–21

Halos?  Really!?  Why did God wait 2000 years to tell us and to use a 4 year old boy?  We're told that we get to "choose if we want to walk or fly."  Of God we're told, "we can feel his love everywhere."  Feel love?  Again, really!?  How do I feel love?  Is that like feeling my toast is hot?  Gabriel "looks like God" or is it the other way around?  I'm confused.  Gabriel and Michael are "taller than Jesus but Jesus is way more powerful."  By now, you may be saying (I hope you're saying!) you're making this stuff up.  I wish I were but in actuality the Burpo's are.  Go ahead check the FAQ on their website.

Well that's enough of that!  I hope it is for you as well.  I'm past the point of wanting to throw up.  Such foolish lies are a mockery of God and tools of Satan to deceive you.  Oh, and don't expect to run into Michael Landon up there either, that is unless he placed his faith solely upon Christ's satisfactory atonement on Calvary before he succumbed to pancreatic cancer in 1991.

Tell me how a 4 year old Burpo was given such privilege yet the Apostle Paul was forbidden to speak of the things he saw?

And I know how such a man....
was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:3–4

Tell me how nowhere.  No, no, nowhere in scripture can we find these foolish descriptions of heaven. Nowhere do the apostles of Christ speak of these things.  Nowhere can we substantiate these things with the authoritative word of God as given to His saints whom He chose to speak through.

Oh and because people need such help in understanding this make believe heaven a movie has been made and produced by T.D. Jakes.  Yes, that T.D. Jakes.  That lover of money that doesn't even believe in the Trinity but an aberrant view called Modalism.  The only thing he has to gain by producing the movie version is a few more Bentley's compliments of the unwary public looking for another misrepresentation of the Christ of heaven.

But back to what scripture says about heaven.  Go ahead and look.  2 Chronicles 18:18 and Acts 7:55 tell us this great description of heaven, specifically the throne.  They saw God on His throne and the host of heaven.  They saw God and Jesus on His right side.  And......well, that's it!  That's the description.  We've already seen above the Apostle Paul's description of heaven.  Look in Ezekiel chapter 1 and 10 or Isaiah 6.  Tell me how it matches with Todd's, er Colton's, account of heaven.  It doesn't.  Because the "Heaven is For Real" account is the imaginations of a huckster looking for some cash.

So what did the biblical authors see or express?  They were fearful unto death.  They saw glory.  They saw majesty.  They were deeply aware of their sinfulness and God's holiness.  And guess what, they were visions. They were not death experiences where they went and came back.

Who has ascended to heaven or descended? ~ Proverbs 30:4

No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. ~ John 3:13

Friends, please!  If you're giving attention to such stories, if you've tossed some bills into that fire, turn your mind away from such folly, such cleverly devised fables.  If you must have fables, pick up a storybook.  Seeking after and believing such fables is dangerous for your soul and may lead you to see with real eyes and feel with real feelings the horrors of that other place that is quite hotter and quite full of pain, agony, and tears.  A place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth where the worm never dies and the fire is not quenched.  (Mark 9:44, Luke 13:28)

So in the end, why are we so enamored with heaven?  Why are churches flooded with people who typically wouldn't darken her doors except when Easter or Christmas or catastrophic events happen?
Because unbelieving people desire to enjoy life and then enter some eternal rest where they get a life of ease devoid of all the problems earth has presented to them.  Nice stories of heaven make people feel good but feelings are subjective and never a trustworthy source of hope.

There is only one who provides that.  Christ.  For He is the hope of glory, the reward of those who diligently seek Him, the desire of the nations.  If we're looking for anything but the Christ of heaven, we are looking for ease and we will not get heaven.  Look to Christ and get more than you ever could have hoped for or imagined!

 I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.
The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.
In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed;
and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it;
and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. ~ Revelation 21:22–27

Is your name written in the Lambs book of life?  If so, look for Christ.  If not, look to Christ and He will make you fit for heaven but it will take some laying down of all other gods and following Him alone.

He must increase,
~ Kevin

Friday, April 18, 2014

What if I Told You that You are Abusing Your Freedom in Christ?

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything."
1 Corinthians 6:12
"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father". 
Philippians 2:1-11 

 The chain on the door of your house serves little to no purpose when coming between you and your enemies; those who wish to do you harm. It is in reality the dead bolt and the door frame that keep you safe from those who desire to break in and steal from you and do you harm.Which of us with a loved one, home alone, would want that loved one to answer the door to a stranger with nothing for protection but a chain anchored into the wood of the door frame by slender little screws? I would imagine that none of us would. Which of us would leave our children home on their own without a deadbolt on the door? How many of us would be comfortable with that as our sole source of security at night as we sleep?
No the reality is that we want as much security from the threats of the outside world as possible. This is not meant to imply that we honestly believe we are perfectly safe at all times while in our own homes. But it does mean that we take precautions. And if we do not we are idiots. And if we are not taking reasonable precautions for our loved ones, especially when we are not able to be there to watch over them, we are worse than idiots, we are wicked.

So we take those precautions. We make sure our doors are secured. We set the handle lock. We set the chains. We set the deadbolt. Then we, well at least I do this, recheck the doors and the locks. It is because I love my family and I know that even with a firearm beside my bed while I sleep and on my hip while I am awake, the deadbolt gives me some time to respond. I check my widowed mother's doors when I am at her house visiting. I do this to make sure that I know those locks are functioning properly because I cannot be there for her in the same way I can be for my family. She knows that I am a phone call away and can be there before the local law enforcement. She knows this just as my wife and children know that anyone attempting to enter our home uninvited is going to have to come through me. But the truth of the matter is this, I can't be home all of the time. I cannot be just a phone call away for my mom if someone comes to do her harm at all times.

So in light of that reality what would anyone think of me if they learned that I took all of the deadbolts off of my doors and left my wife and children home while I was on duty at night with nothing more than a chain on the door? Honestly? What kind of response would I get? That chain just doesn't offer much by way of security for my family. In fact not only can it be easily snapped out of the wall with a bit of force, a clever person could easily reach inside and remove it with little effort.The end result being that I did not watch out for my family. And all of my protestations that I have a gun and will be there to help as soon as possible does nothing to keep them safe. And if I use the excuse that I just don't feel the need to have a deadbolt because they are so restrictive, I express little to no concern for my loved ones. And if my response to any person who challenges my commitment to my family is to tell them to butt out and keep their opinions and standards to themselves; the only conclusion that can be drawn is that I am an arrogant and moronic fool.

Do I have the freedom and liberty to take that position? Sure. Just like I have the freedom and liberty to take all of those precautions and even more. Sure there is a point where one could be considered to be overreacting. Those overreactions need to be avoided as well. But it isn't often that one could be accused of taking too many precautions when it comes to seeking to protect their loved ones. In all honesty isn't that all of the push back against guns in homes these days? How many do you need? Isn't it a danger to your children? Can't one of them get hurt by a gun? How many do you need really? And our replies are almost always to tell those complaining about our gun possession that we will determine how to best protect our families and that there is no level we wouldn't go to to protect them. In fact we will teach them to be safe with guns and how to treat guns with the proper respect. We will even teach them how to use them. Because sadly in our day and age they will probably need to at some point. But those precautions are far better for them than a weak chain on a door that even the most inept criminal can blow past.

So what I am pushing at here is that there is such a thing as being too close to the edge. There is such a thing as not taking the proper precautions. And there is no place where this is more evident than in the Christian world. These days we are being inundated with message after message that those in Christ have the liberty to do whatever they would like. Of course those who say this would stop short of condoning outright sin such as murder our adultery, or robbing a bank. But they push their liberties to the edge. And they do not stop there. They push their liberties out in to the public square daring others to question their freedom in Christ. And when they are challenged they erupt with accusations of legalism and "pharisee-ism"; often calling those who challenge them immature and stuck drinking spiritual milk.

But here's the deal. They are being selfish. They are actually being immature and proving that they do not understand the scripture references I started with. Yes all things are lawful to them, but is that lawfulness a good idea? What example is it setting for their loved ones? And not just their families, but those who make up the Body of Christ. That is the reality of our freedom. It requires us to be extremely mindful of the Body as a whole. As the old adage goes "With much freedom comes even greater responsibility..."

The Philippians 2:1-11 passage that I listed above pushes on us with this. It presses down on us with a great and wonderful weight. And why? Because God is telling us in this passage that our personal preferences are not even to be on the horizon for us. We are to be so concerned for others and what their needs are that what we need or are free to do in Christ doesn't even appear as a blip in the radar of Christian liberty. But why? Because Christ, the God-man, Second person of the Trinity, did not hold onto what was rightfully His as the Son of God. He didn't cling to it refusing to let it go. He didn't cherish His equality with God as more important than why He was sent to earth.

Jesus wasn't looking out for His own interest when He came. He was about His Father's business and was looking out for the interest of others. This is world changing. This is a paradigm shift for the believer; because it is because of Christ thinking this way that we have been redeemed. This forbids us from getting so close to the edge of sin that we are in danger of going over. Not in a legalistic sense, but because we love others in the Body, and we should love them so much that despite our freedoms in Christ we do not want to lead them right up to the edge of sin. We don't leave them standing alone with nothing between them and the world but a flimsy chain on the door. Why? Because at the bottom of the cliff is death and the enemy that seeks to devour them can break that chain off the door without a thought.

When self-centeredness invades our Christian liberty it is no longer liberty but sin. And that is what I am seeing in the Christian world so much as of late. 
There is this pervasive mentality that my liberty trumps your needs and if that bothers you than too bad...
You need to grow up and mature...
You need to arrive just like I have, so-to-speak...

Brethren may this never be. Just as we would watch out for our families and do what ever was in our power to protect and defend them, we should be doing the same for the Body of Christ. If you wouldn't let your children play on a path with a fatal drop, why would you want to lead the Body to that same edge? And don't be mistaken, when you flaunt your liberty and brag about how much of it you have and what exactly you are going to do with it; you could very well be leading someone to the edge of sin and death.

See, our Christian liberty is much like the chain on the door. It is the last line of defense from the enemies waiting to come in and harm us. It isn't meant to allow us to get close to the enemy and  hang out with him. What we should be doing is setting the deadbolt instead of trusting the chain to protect us. The deadbolt is obedience to God and His commands. The deadbolt is laying down our lives for others. The deadbolt is looking out for the interest of others and setting aside our preferences. Because we love other believers.

These are the same types of precautions as checking and rechecking the locks and the doors. This is the guy who invests in a gun for personal and home defense. Sure some are going to accuse him of overreacting, but his loved ones are at risk and he couldn't give a rip what others think. He wants to protect them. So, just as he teaches his children to respect the gun, he teaches them to respect the law of God. We teach others in the Body to respect the law of God; not to earn His pleasure but because it is good and right for us to do so. Do you think I am crazy? Out of mind? What did King David have to say:

"97 Oh how I love your law!
    It is my meditation all the day.
98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
    for it is ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
    for your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the aged,
    for I keep your precepts.
101 I hold back my feet from every evil way,
    in order to keep your word.
102 I do not turn aside from your rules,
    for you have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
    sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through your precepts I get understanding;
    therefore I hate every false way."
Psalm 119:97-104

The law of God, God's word was like honey on his lips and he loved to meditate on it. David was like us, he was not saved by law keeping. He was saved by grace through faith in the promised coming Messiah. And because of that he loved the law of God. This should be the same for us. Our delight in God includes delighting in His commands and those commands are to protect us. They keep the door firmly bolted against the enemies that wish to come in and steal and kill and destroy. The law is like a handgun in the hands of a protective parent seeking to defend his children.

This reality should put an end to the flaunting of liberty. It should humble us; send us to our knees in prayer for those we are to love and watch out for. We should be spending more time teaching others to love the law of God then we do spending time teaching them or calling them to flirt with the edges of sin that lurk on the outskirts of our liberty in Christ.

It is very early in the morning of Good Friday of 2014 as I pen this. And I wonder if we were to spend more time contemplating what Christ endured from the garden, to the cross, and then under the wrath of His Father while He hung there for six hours, if our liberty would seem like such an important thing. It is my prayer that this would touch each of our hearts and compel us to think of others as more important than ourselves and move us to conviction and repentance in whatever places we may need.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Rediscovering Joy in the Grip of Conviction in the Hands of Our Sovereign God

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
    nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and chastises every son whom he receives.”
Hebrews 12:6

We live in a day and age where the thought of conviction, let alone chastisement for wrong doing is frowned upon. Sneered at even. If you dare mention that it is good and proper for someone to feel remorse or guilt over something that they have done wrong, you will very likely be labeled harsh or critical.And if you so much as sniff at the idea that an individual's conduct may be indicative of an unconverted heart, despite their profession of faith, you may find yourself run out of whatever fellowship you were part of.

Yet I wonder if these things are indicative of a deeper problem.What I am curious about is whether or not this problem stems from a failure to understand how joyous something like conviction truly is.What we are used to dealing with in our time is comforting the man who is wallowing in the depths of his sin. A true believer is broken over their sin and when this brokenness sets upon them we should leave them to it.
I do not mean to imply that the vast majority of people who are entrenched in sin and begin to show the affects of their brokenness are coddled by the true believers they encounter. What I mean to say is that we often mistake the brokenness for repentance and seek to lift these people up out of the depths of their despair. And all-too-often what is needed is for these grieving souls to be left to their despair.

Bear with me for a moment with this thought. Let us consider King David and his sins. He looks out and sees Bathsheba bathing conspicuously on the roof of her husbands home. He allows temptation to turn to the sin of lust and that lust leads to adultery. That adultery builds into even greater deception as Bathsheba bears the child of her sin with David and he plots to mask his duplicity by sending for his faithful friend and loyal commander mistakenly thinking that Uriah will be as possessed with desire for Bathsheba as he was. Uriah proves the better man and his loyalty to his king at a time of war outweighs his rightful desire for the woman he was rightly married too.

David cannot bear being made a fool of, even if no one else is aware of his sin. In his anger and fear of being
exposed as a philandering cheat and betrayer of friends he plots to have his faithful warrior friend, who has slept outside the door of his palace awaiting word from his king, murdered by being placed in the thick of the worst combat. Uriah dies and David rushes to marry Bathsheba to cover his sin.God's anger is kindled against David, a man after God's own heart. 

In 2 Samuel 12 God sends the Prophet Nathan to David (by no coincidence Nathan means gift of God). Nathan relates a story to David of a man who takes severe advantage of his neighbor and when David reacts in indignation Nathan points at the king and says:

"7You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul.And I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more.Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’11 Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun.12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’”13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord,the child who is born to you shall die.”15 Then Nathan went to his house."
After this David retreats in despair and brokenness. His servants attempt without success to coax him from his depression. David remains inconsolable and eventually his child dies as a result of his sin. David immediately gets up and begins to conduct himself normally. His household is bewildered. And David eventually pens Psalm 51:
 Have mercy on me,O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
    and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
    O God of my salvation,
    and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
    you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
    build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19 then will you delight in right sacrifices,
    in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar."

In the midst of his conviction David speaks in terms foreign to us today. He cries out to hear joy and gladness while experiencing the worst thing a parent could experience, the lost of a child. And worse than that this pain at the death of his son is a result of his own sin against God. And while he is still in the midst of this despair he cries out to be upheld and to have the joy of his salvation restored. He never asks for his sorrow and brokenness to be lifted. He does not asks to be made happy, how could he? Because in verse 17 he reveals the depth of understanding that he had and why he was called a man after God's own heart.David new that God wanted broken and contrite hearts when His people sin against Him. And more than that, the fact that we can feel this kind of pain in the midst of committing treason against our Lord should compel us to find our joy in our sorrow.

Look I am not talking about being giddy and gleeful in the midst of brokenness. That is really exactly what I am pushing against here. The last thing the Church needs today is a bunch of Tigger Christians running around. You know the types I am talking about. They are the ones that no matter what is happening around them they cannot be dissuaded from plastering a fake smile on their faces and acting as if nothing phases them. Yet they don't stop there, they won't rest until everyone around them is doing the same. This isn't realistic, nor is it biblical. These are the people that when they come across another believer in the midst of despairing over their sin they do everything they can to cheer this person up. They remind them that God does not want sad followers. They remind them that the world does not need to see our frowns but our smiles. They come up with cliche after cliche and just can't seem to grasp that sometimes, brokenness and despair and contrite hearts are more in tune with God then the person who plasters on the fake smile with the "fake it til you make it mentality".

They seem to forget that it is in Matthew 5 that we are taught by Christ that those who mourn are blessed and they will be comforted. This isn't mourning over the loss of a loved one. This isn't sadness over a rough spot in the road that is simply a product of living in a sin cursed world. This is mourning and agonizing over sin. This is being grieved deep in our souls over the myriad acts of treason that any of us may be prone to on any given day. Christ is relating to us that while we are feeling that sorrow, that conviction, we are in a good place. A place that offers us comfort and should bring joy in the midst of our sorrow.

But where does that joy come from and why? It comes from knowing that He is before the throne of His Father making constant intercession for us according to Hebrews 7:25. There is joy in our brokenness over sin because we know our hearts have not been so completely hardened so as to leave us without hope. This is more than a mere concept. It is apparent throughout scripture. Sin, in the believer, leads to conviction. Failure to respond to the Spirit's leading in this leads to a slow and gradual hardening. The harder the heart becomes the more turmoil and pain in the believer. This constant pressure has a cumulative affect on the believer and eventually they will break.They belong to Christ so they must break, but the longer this goes on in them the worse the fall.

This isn't easy for me to talk about. I am one of those often fraught with feelings of despair over my security with Christ. There are moments where I am convinced that there is no way I can truly belong to Him. However it is in those moments that I often find myself experiencing reassurance from God as He reminds me that He holds me safely in the grip of His hands.It is not that I hear personally or audibly from Him, but I do know that the promises of Holy Writ are such that I will never be cast out. That if I confess my sins He is faithful and just to forgive my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. He will not lose me because I have been given to Him, promised to Him from before the foundation of the earth.

These words and thoughts of comfort are our joy...
They bring us godly joy in the midst of godly sorrow that leads to godly repentance...

And the solution for us in the midst of this joyful conviction is the same as the solution for the unbeliever in the midst of sin. It is the cross of Christ. He hung there for our sin. It was nailed there with Him because it was placed on Him on our behalves. So if He could endure the cross for the joy that was set before Him, then we can find our joy in the pain of conviction that comes from being rescued by Him when He hung there for us...

Soli Deo Gloria!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How Much Does Bad Theology Cost?

     FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY! Imagine your favorite product is sitting before you on a shelf. How much would you be willing to pay for it? At what point does it become unobtainable? I was walking through Target the other day and noticed there appeared to be red signs everywhere declaring sale after sale. Some items were drastically reduced whereas other items were marked down by a mere 9 cents. Seeing the latter, it was cause for a chuckle as I imagined consumers seeing a red sign and not even bothering to see how the store was "targeting" them as ignorant consumers. However, chuckling was replaced by awe as I walked through the toy aisle. There were red signs EVERYWHERE! For these products, they had removed the original yellow sticker and didn't mention the original price (or the savings) on the red one. All it mentioned was the sale price and the relatively short date range in which you could expect to receive such a deal. That was when I noticed a lone yellow sticker that had been overlooked by an employee. Imagine my shock when I saw it had the exact same price as annotated on the red tag! There was literally no sale on these items. The store had just slapped a boatload of sale tags on the toys while never even lowering the price. Perhaps even more astounding was the fact that the shelves were empty! I wondered if I was the only one left in the world who compared prices and did research before just blindly throwing my money away.
     It was at this point that my browsing led me to the book section. Though there were no sales, I saw the books you see in the picture to the right. It was a normal enough sight. Books marked a penny shy of the next whole dollar. Marketing tactics and product placement showed nothing out of the ordinary. However, lurking beneath the surface was something that would probably be missed by most. While there is no doubt the masses are willing to pay $12.99 for the latest Joel Osteen book (the best seller list proves this fact), I believe this to be only a secondary problem. The question is not how much you are willing to pay for a paperback book. The question isn't even how much you are willing to pay for bad theology. No, the question is, "How much does bad theology really cost?" I dare say, if you were to find any of these books at a yard sale for 25 cents, you have overpaid. In fact, if you were to receive them as a free gift from a friend, you have still overpaid. The cost of bad theology isn't a broken wallet but, rather, a broken walk with Christ. Are you prepared to pay such a price?
     Maybe you're a fan of Joel Osteen. I once knew a Christian who loved God with all his heart. He took every opportunity to evangelize to the lost. I was sharing my opinion of Osteen with him and he instantly became offended. I never would've guessed he was a fan of the smiling pastor. He went on to say that, though Osteen wasn't the most theologically accurate, he had a desire to help people overcome their burdens and feel encouraged. Therein lies the problem. If one isn't theologically accurate, it doesn't mean they have a slight flaw. It means they are theologically inaccurate. The danger is great because everything else will flow forth from this. For instance, if one has an inadequate view of sin, it will naturally lead to an inadequate view of man's status before God. If he has an inadequate view of man's status before God, he will naturally have an inadequate view of Christ's purpose and accomplishment. Once we cross into this realm, is it any wonder why so many believe it only takes seven steps to become a better you? Osteen teaches that one simply has to keep pressing forward, be positive toward yourself, develop better relationships, form better habits, embrace the place where you are, develop your inner life, and stay passionate about life. How inwardly self-centered can one be? This is excellent advice so far as worldly wisdom in concerned but God paints a very different picture. He tells us the wisdom of this world is foolishness (1 Corinthians 3:19). He has made it very clear that the wisdom of this world only leads to not knowing God (1 Corinthians 1:21). So why do I say this seemingly friendly advice is foolishness? Upon what ground do I stand? To this, I respond that I stand on the solid rock of Christ and stand firm within the pages of Scripture. Scripture alone will make a man adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17). If you truly want to become a better you, I implore you to stop relying on you. The more you choose to follow these pawns of Satan, the more you wind up being nothing more than a puppet on a string. Don't be deceived. Don't exchange the truth for a lie (Romans 1:25). As an individual, there is nothing you could ever do to become better. Sure, you might achieve worldly success. You might even fancy yourself to be a success story in the world of self-esteem. Osteen has said, "As long as you're doing your best and desire to do what’s right according to God’s Word, you can be assured God is pleased with you." Sadly, this is a bold faced lie. It sounds sweet but smells like sulfur. Doing your best will never please God. Following Christ will please God. Even then, it isn't based on what you are doing but on what Christ has accomplished and what the Spirit prompts within you. No, if you rely on worldly wisdom to get yourself right, you'll be waiting a long time.
     Perhaps even worse is the following quote taken out his new book. "Too many people say negative things about themselves, about their families, and about their futures. They say things such as, 'I'll never be successful. This sickness will get the best of me. Business is so slow I don't think I will make it. Flu season is coming. I'll probably catch it.' They don't realize they are prophesying their futures. The Scripture says, 'We will eat the fruit of our words.' That means we will get exactly what we've been saying." The premise of his latest work of fiction is that the Christian can simply declare what they want and God will show favor on them through the form of blessing. Reader, this is simply untrue. It is a mockery of the Word of God. In fact, it is a mockery of God Himself. It is understandable how one could be so intrigued by such promises of health, wealth, and prosperity. After all, in this economy, what could it hurt to try on a little Jesus and get some cash? How deplorable!
     All of this is bad theology and, sadly, it's just a very small amount of the filth that has perpetuated itself within the Church. It uses Christian verbiage. It wears a friendly smile. It comes dressed in a fancy suit. It tells you that you can have more. It throws around Bible verses taken out of context. Even worse, it slanders the truth and brings destruction (2 Peter 2:1-2). The Greek word translated as destruction in this passage literally means final damnation with eternal misery in hell. Instead of following Osteen, I recommend you be an imitator of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1) and remain is the Word (John 15:7).
     Following any other "wisdom" costs way too much. How much are you prepared to pay?
~ Travis W. Rogers

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

American Christianity

If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. ~ Luke 9:23

We were American Christians.

The "Christianity" I was born into looked like this; 23 Easter's of baskets of chocolates, coloring eggs, hunting for candy eggs and plastic ones with money in them and as I grew older, champagne brunch. In fact when I got married at 29 I was still looking at "Easter" baskets when Spring rolled around and gravitating towards them like some strange tractor beam had locked on me.

Then there was Christmas, 23 of those also.  Memories of a fat man with a fake beard in a red suit and a tree that literally had gifts that stretched out 12 feet for 180 degrees.  Vivid memories of food and family and ingrates within my family who complained with body language or verbally that they wanted more, something better, as if what they received was not enough.  If there was a mirror, I would have seen myself too. You see, we were American Christians.

    For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
             and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:3–4

Yet, not one, not a single one, no, not a solitary memory of my ears ever hearing the name Jesus Christ.  Did I mention there was not once I ever heard the name of Jesus Christ?  You see we were American Christians.

Not only had I never heard the name Jesus Christ in my 18 years at home or the following 5 years coming home for the "holidays" except as a curse word, but I only went to church once, when at about 13, my dear aunt lovingly took me to a foreign place that taught a spooky false gospel.

Because you know, there was no need to actually worship or dare go further and follow Jesus because my mother covered that for us by singing in the choir when she was eight.  Even more safety was provided because my grandmother did the same as an eight year old.  That's it!  That's all it took and we were good, we were in.  So my mother was taught.  You see, we were American Christians.

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven... ~ Matthew 7:21a

My dad?  He was raised a good Irish Catholic, being a Celtic mutt, in New England.  He, along with the rest of my Celtic kin, could drink some beer with the best of 'em and still be ok because he never killed anyone and he worked hard to provide for our family, never stole.....well except for that good natured fun with my uncle and younger brother when we helped ourselves to a few avocados in the rolling hills of Fallbrook. Despite being somewhere near 7-13 years old, neither my brother nor I can ever forget that shotgun and the yells as we hurried away to the safety of dad's getaway vehicle.  But no worries, you see, we were American Christians.

but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. ~ Matthew 7:21b

So Easter and Christmas were quite alike, they were all about us, all about me.  After all, we were American Christians.

But then one day this kid, while thriving in his sin and enjoying his mockery, was knocked off his horse and thrown to the dirt.  This Jesus who he was intrigued by, by of all things, a wicked and depraved rock band, suddenly became reality and the greatest threat to his life he'd ever experienced.  (Funny how God used that wretched band to prompt him into a bookstore to buy a bible and sneak away before someone caught him.) A very real horror of the weight of his sins was like the burden of carrying an elephant placed upon his weak, frail frame.  Those crazy religious zealots that were his neighbors 8 years earlier were strangely looking quite sane.  All the "tomorrows" had disappeared and it was time, God's time, to bow his knee and call Him Lord.

You see, it was necessary because after all, he was an American Christian.

Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not______ and _______? (Matthew 7:22)

Pick your good deed.  It doesn't have to be prophecy or miracles or casting out demons.  It can be helping granny across the street, being nice to your sister, giving money to MS.  It might be going to church on Easter or Christmas.  It might be saying a prayer for someone who is sick.  But know this, that without holiness you nor I nor great-grandma Jean will see the Lord.  Why?

Because without faith it is impossible to please God.  Because your sins, yes you are a sinner, your sins will keep you out of heaven.  Because the wages of sin is death, spiritual death.  Because you must confess those sins.  Because you must forsake those sins.  Because you must follow Christ.

for whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he is guilty of all. ~ James 2:10

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. ~ Romans 3:23

the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 6:23

That was mine, that is your condition, before saving grace.  The problem is my sin and your sin keeps us separated from God only to be brought near by the blood of Christ, the blood of His cross.  That is the bad news and the good news.  The gospel.  What must be done is to repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15) and trust fully in His work on Calvary.

Foul!  Foul?  The cries come forth from many at such a thought.  How dare you classify my life as Christless, Godless, as one damned and going to hell!  Because after all, we're American Christians.

He must increase!

~ Kevin

Monday, April 14, 2014

Stop Going to Church on Easter

Before you get all excited and start firing mad comments to me on Facebook or in email, please take the time to read what I have to say. Because I am relatively certain that at this point you have no idea what I mean when I say “Stop going to church on Easter.” And if you have already determined to be upset with me then this entire article may have more to do with you than you think.

                  Since the earliest days of the Church Universal (catholic is the proper term to use here, but too many people get mad at me when I use catholic because I keep using the word in a way that is vastly different than the way they use it.) But I have this to say about the word: 

So as I was saying, since the earliest days of the church there have been massive arguments about holy days and pagan days and when to celebrate and when not to celebrate and what to celebrate. Christmas and Easter especially have been burdened with accusations of paganism and idol worship. This article is not about those issues. So now that I have upset at least a few of you by clarifying this point I can now safely move on to my main point.

                  If you never darken the door of a church for anything other than Christmas and Easter stay away on Easter Sunday. I am serious. I don’t mean this to be mean, or harsh, I just want you to be fair to the man who pastors the church you are considering attending on Easter Sunday. As I write this it is Palm Sunday on April 13, 2014 - also referred to as the Triumphal Entry. It is the beginning of the Holy Week. This is the week that Christ rode into Jerusalem, and the Jewish people gathered there for the Passover were ready to make Him the king. Of course by the end of the week they had turned on Him and aggressively sought His execution. In relation to the modern church this week is normally marked by massive planning and coordinating of events to fill the church with individuals who would normally not attend. Pastors all over the country are attempting to write relevant messages that are meant to elicit emotional responses from the unwashed masses.

                  So stay away. What most of these men need to do is focus on feeding the sheep that are part of their congregation, not cater to a bunch of people who are claiming to be Christians.

That is what the gathering together of believers is supposed to be about in the earthly sense anyway. So if you show up there is a good chance that a faithful pastor will probably end up causing you to choke to death on the meat he feeds you or at the very least drown you with milk. Neither is pleasant and tends to be pretty final.

This week, starting with people praising God and ending with Christ being lifted up on a tree and buried and finally resurrected on the third day is a powerful week for the true believer. It is chock full of literal meaning and symbolism. These things are meant to be studied out, dwelt upon and spoken about with other believers. Good Friday is the day you will hear droves of genuine believers quoting the words of Christ from the cross. Phrases that when dwelled upon will often move believers to tears. 

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” 
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” 
“It is finished.”
See, what you Cheasters - Christmas and Easter only folks - need to understand is that these words of Christ hit us in the gut, they cut deep into our hearts, they kick us in the teeth. Christ, God in the flesh, was forsaken by the Father while He suffered the wrath due to us true believers; a wrath that was not due Him. While suffering that wrath and being cut off from the favorable presence of God, He still cried out to His Father to forgive us; the very ones who had hung Him on that cursed tree. Then, when the moment of His death came He cried out with His last breath “Tetelestai!” “It is finished!” 

He had accomplished what He had come to do. He satisfied the wrath of the Father against those who would believe. There was no more work to be done. He had fulfilled everything; an act that no human being could ever have accomplished.

Only the God-man could live the perfectly righteous life that He did.

Only the God-man could live in such complete and perfect obedience to the law of God so as to be untainted by sin and rebellion.

Only the God-man could suffer an infinity's worth of wrath against sin, for six hours on a wicked tree.

                  So stay away. Seriously! It isn’t because I don’t love you, it’s because I don’t want to see you looking like the throngs crying their love for Christ on one day, and then a few short days later crying out against Him in wicked rebellion and sinful treason. Because really, that is what you do when you show up on Easter or even Christmas. You come singing the praises of someone that in all likelihood you don’t know. You show up and you feel like you have done your thing to be right with God. You walk away feeling justified because you took the time to recognize the powerful meaning of such a somber and glorious event such as the Passover week and the resurrection of Christ. You walk away feeling as if God has been placated and pacified because you took time out of your busy year to stop by and nod your head in His general direction.

But the issue is that the empty tomb doesn’t really mean anything to you. You may have had an emotional response to hearing about it. But you probably haven’t understood that the Man Jesus Christ didn’t deserve to have ever laid there. And you don’t deserve the chance to ever leave the death that you are walking in. But that is exactly what the empty tomb is about.

It’s about you not staying in the death you so justly deserve. It is about you having the opportunity to take part in the Great Exchange that took place on the cross. The cross is where Christ took upon Himself the sins of all who would believe and in so doing took upon Himself the infinite wrath of His Father so that He would die and be laid in the tomb that is now so wondrously empty. That empty tomb is a reward, not for you, or even for me, it is for Christ. His resurrection from that place of death and rot was His reward for fulfilling the perfect will of His Father. That empty tomb is a promise to us that if we have believed, we will never taste the same death that Christ did. And even the physical death we will experience for having been born sinners is only temporary, because He has promised to resurrect us and give us glorified bodies. Not for us, but for His own glory. This Great Exchange now allows the believer to take on the righteousness of Christ.

So stay away. Please I am begging you to stay away if these things sound foreign to you. If these things sound silly to you or anger you, stay away. If you think that you need to show up and make an effort to appease God; or get your “Jesus fix” until Christmas, then stay away; because in all likelihood a true shepherd isn’t going to change up his plans for Easter Sunday. He is probably going to preach from whatever book of the bible he has been preaching from for the last few weeks or months anyway. He probably doesn’t have elaborate scams or plans to attract you or entertain you. He isn’t going to compare you to Christ. He isn’t going to read you or anyone else into the life of Christ. He isn’t going to call on you to discover yourself in the empty tomb. 

And anyone who does this doesn’t love you as much as I am loving you right now.

So please understand me, I want to worship beside you. I really do. But the worship service isn’t for the unbeliever. It is for the believer. And while I will gladly proclaim the glories of God to you as they are seen in the Gospel, I don’t want to see you offer vain worship on Easter Sunday. You see Jesus Himself has some not-so-nice things to say about people who show up in vain:

“This people honors me with their lips but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
Matthew 15:8-9

So please, before you show up on Easter Sunday, if that is your plan, repent and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And in case you missed it, I just got done preaching it to you.

Soli Deo Gloria!