Tuesday, August 28, 2012

True to Form

I had a great opportunity to attend a local crusade recently; local in setting, but national in origin. A midst 600 or so attendees, I noticed several who were familiar. Some because of their former attendance at our local church, others because of their relationships with others in our local town. For the most part, greetings exchanged with these were warm and open, but there was one group within the formerly described set that I neither had opportunity to speak to, nor am I certain that I would have taken opportunity to do so even if it presented itself. And the reason will be clear momentarily....
This particular family showed up one day with another family who had moved into our town and begun to attend our church. At the end of the service, the first they had ever attended, they announced they were moving to our town and promptly began looking for a place to stay. Someone from the church had a house for rent and within hours, a lease was in place and the moving began. Over the next few weeks, this family began inserting themselves into every relationship, family and activity of the church...and town. Soon they began announcing how they had been led to bring in foster children to their home. This was soon followed with new announcements of more children coming in, then how they were quitting their jobs to "focus" on these new kids. Disturbingly, soon after the father figure in the house, began to miss most church services and activities, because he needed to stay up all night with the kids and play video games to keep them happy. Then additional kids in town would flock to this house and join in the revelry. Then more, and more and more....
Things began to fall apart soon after that, police arrived to investigate windows shot out of the local school by several of the "hang-er-outers" of this family. Fights with other kids ensued and general mayhem began to be the theme of the day. Parents who did not allow their kids to hang out were belittled or mocked and every commitment made in the beginning was soon dropped as routine as putting garbage in a trash can. 
One day there was a "new" sudden announcement that they would be moving to a far east state and within weeks they were on their way, dropping off a few of the foster kids on the way...too much trouble to take them along. The church was left with bounced checks from the offering received from them, the landlords left with unpaid bills and a huge mess, but all in all, most were happy to see that they had moved on.  Over the next months, news would trickle in through some still connected via social media or other method about how wonderful the new business was they started, how they had been interviewed in the local paper proclaiming how God led them around to each new venture, etc.  And just as suddenly, they reappeared on the west coast, down the hill and back into the town. Calls to some of the folks they knew from church, calls to other kids who used to hang out and guess what....new invitations, new groups of kids hanging out playing....yes, you guessed it, video games all night long. Several of the kids invited, when denied permission by their parents were lambasted and berated as fun stoppers and worse.
Now what is the common thread? What is the evidence that must be weighed? For these claim a relationship with Christ, but all fruit, all that has been produced to date is in direct opposition to God's Word. The principles of honoring parents, obedience and respect are thrown away; being faithful in your vows, discarded. 
As if a further indication, at the crusade, when the music stopped and the preaching began....yep, you guessed it again, they got up and left. Its all about the entertainment, not the substance. All about fun and games, not reality of life and death....death to self, life IN Christ. And they continue on to the next group of unsuspecting youth, to the next batch of sheep to eat and prey upon...reminds me of what Peter cautions in 2 Peter 2:  For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error.  While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.  For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”
Am I judging? You bet, with the discernment of God's Word and the understanding that the same measure that I judge with will also stand in my own examination, but that I do not fear but rather welcome, for that is the examination of the Holy Spirit daily in my life without which I would have no proof of my own relationship with Christ!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Wrong Remedy

A local social group, that meets under the banner of Religious Organization (per the IRS guidelines) touts its origin as being there for, "for people who really haven't felt at place in a church. Sometimes we feel out of place because church is something you did (or were dragged to) as a kid, sometimes we've just gotten bored, sometimes it's because we opened our heart to people and were hurt because of it. " And so, they decided to start a para-church ministry that meets in a church? Wouldn't that kinda be like church? They have music and preaching and other church stuff...led by wonderful people who have rejected the authority and clear instruction of God's Word, caused great divisions in the places they've come from and now they are....leading? How in the world does this happen? It happens because it is exactly that, IN THE WORLD. It is a "come close to Jesus so you feel better" ministry, by people that have rejected the very Lordship of Jesus Christ. The fruit of their lives is scattered all over the mountain, yet they have achieved this status of "being" the ones who now lead, the way they want; doing what they want, when they want to. The success of this supposed remedy is based on their ability to gather other similar souls and place them under the all accepting banner of "love". However this delusion, manifested in the complete disregard of spiritual accountability, works best at just forwarding its recipients faster to hell, than if left to their own ways. This is because of the assumed cloak of "religiousness" they quickly and proudly wear, while demonstrating the balance of Galatians 5:19's works of the flesh. They really think they are achieving harmony with God, or as they themselves say, "where they can "belong to believe"-that is, where they can be nurtured and discipled into faith in the one true God and in Jesus Christ whom He has sent". Sounds good until you consider that NO ONE can be nurtured and discipled INTO faith. Faith in Jesus Christ is because the Father has drawn them, not because fleshly humans have convinced them into this state of mind. The faith that saves is in Jesus Christ; it comes by the conviction of the Holy Spirit of our sin and our need for a Savior. It is IMPOSSIBLE to disciple a lost human in God's Word because according to God's Word it is not their nature and they cannot understand it, period! Someone who has responded to conviction of the Holy Spirit, believes (whether understanding much of God's revealed Word or not) and confesses their belief, can at that time begin to understand God's Word because it IS their nature. A new nature, not the old recycled nature in another attempt to pacify guilt with some sort of spiritual leanings.
If the root is holy, so is the tree....said Jesus! And yet week after week, this band of merry accepters just whitewashes any behavior as long as you fit into their semblance of "love". I find the Love of Christ to be very different...He left no one to continue in their sin who truly followed Him. He had the harshest words and condemnation for the "religious", who for the sake of followers would cross the earth just to make the one twice the son of Hell that they already were. This is a pattern that these in this group follow....it's not whether you are truly regenerated...it is just whether or not you choose to fit into their group and play along. If you choose otherwise, then you are just one of those "judging" types that doesn't love.
But doesn't true love, agape love, put every possible obstacle in the way of Hell by requiring the greatest sacrifice ever made? Not to allow man to continue in the flesh, but to be changed into the very children of God!! Now that is love!
A friend that loves...will wound and those wounds will be faithful to produce a right response in me. They will be the call for pause that makes me reflect on the validity of my actions before God, not self and they will stand in the way of the remnant of the flesh that desires to cast itself headlong over the cliff of sin and lust. Oh, for a faithful friend!

Recent update: In the evolution of this group, much has changed over the last months. There is a core of people rising up who are solid and sincere in their relationship with Christ and the direction has turned from one of "church runaways"and "easy believe-ism-ers" to a viable Bible based ministry. (still shallowish, but moving much deeper into what Christ demands of those who are His) Some have left that were part of the above described folks, a few remain...but by the Grace of God, they may be rooted out and exposed for what they are or even better, they might accept correction and grow in God's grace, mercy and love....by far the better route. Stay tuned, God is still working and the fruit of His labors is always good!! My opinion of the one under whose direction this ministry works has radically changed...my perception was skewed and wrong; his heart is right and in that particular arena, it is exciting to see what may be the future!!