Friday, April 28, 2017

Read II Timothy 4:1-8 and Take Heed

I've been studying churches as of late. Something my pastor said a while back has stuck with me. Doctrine has been replaced with emotion. Truth has been replaced with efforts to soothe itching ears. Follow along.

The Apostle Paul, in his second letter to Timothy, exposed most churches in our culture today. He said this:

II Timothy 4:1-8
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure, afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Paul was warning Timothy of what was to come. Paul's letters were to fellow believers, not to the lost people. He was telling the Body of Christ what to look out for. If only we'd heed his warning.

Does the mission of a church involve meeting the worldly emotional needs of people who seek to be comforted in their in sins or does it involve glorifying Jesus and imploring people to please God? Many churches default to the former rather than the latter. They strive for one of two things; people in pews or the lack of strife amongst its entrenched donor base. If a pastor and a church focuses on the Gospel, sometimes toes will be stepped on. The Word of God and the Holy Spirit will make people uncomfortable. That isn't a bad thing, contrary to popular belief. Preaching should lead to conviction and action. If it just scratches an itching ear, it is likely not Biblical and most likely, a load of garbage.

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

The ability of the Bible to be both and a tool for instruction and comfort is unique. A preacher of the word must be able to preach all parts of the Bible and, through prayer and study, help the people he pastors to be able to apply the Word to their lives. There are so many things in today's society, from media to government to public education to cultural rot, that seek to diminish the importance of the message of the Bible. It is up to Christians to put away the nonsense and do their best to hold fast to what God has preserved for us.

Here is an example of what I mean. In this passage, Jesus is telling his followers that those who have forsaken all worldly blessings for the cause of following Him will be blessed with everlasting life.

Matthew 19:29
And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands. for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

This message isn't popular in many prosperity preaching churches or in many so called seeker friendly churches. Too many churches preach that the Christian life is just all sunshine and lollipops. In reality, living a Christian life enables people to get through the tough stretches of life becasue we have a promise of something better. We know our eternal home is in heaven so we can have victory over life's struggles. In today's churches, when something bad happens, the people aren't equipped to overcome so they wash out and blame God, when in reality, it was likely their own flesh that caused their hardship. If they had been taught and led in the proper doctrine, they'd know that God is not the author of deception.

I Corinthians 14:33
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

II Peter 1:19
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

When we try to blame God when something bad happens, it just makes our faith weak. Our situation was most likely of our own making. That's been the case for much of my life. We must be willing to listen when the Holy Spirit steps on our fleshly toes. Praying for forgiveness and repenting is the most effective way to move forward in the Christian life. Leaving behind the baggage of the past is a must, but we must account for that baggage and then leave it behind. It won't help us get to where we need to go.

Lastly, if we acknowledge that doctrine is essential, once we come to the saving knowledge of Jesus, we must follow His commands. One part of   the Bible frequently left out by modern churches is the last commandment He gave His disciples. The Great Commission must be our mission statement.

Matthew 28:18-20
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

If we won't endeavor to do what God has for us, we might be "believers", but we can't call ourselves Christians. To be a Christian means we must strive to be more Christ-like. This must be the mission of our churches, to make Christians and not just believers.

I look forward to hearing what you have to say. Respond below.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Middle East - My Take

I've hesitated to wade into this arena. I am, by no means, a foreign policy expert, but I am a student of history. Here goes...

Israel is the only country in the Middle East that I really care about(being blunt). There are certain minority populations in other countries, namely the Kurds in Northern Iraq, who need our concern and efforts to protect them. After more study though, I am coming to the point of saying we need to contain the spread of Islam to the west and actively work to evangelize the Middle East. As we know from history, politics follows culture. Without breaking the culture of Islamism, the Middle East will never advance any further. They will remain tied to their seventh century ideologies.

Ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you that I'm a fervent follower of Jesus and I would be willing to die for my faith. I'm fine with people being fervent in what they believe. Their fervency crosses a line when it involves killing those who don't share their beliefs. I don't see any Baptists or Amish people killing in the name of God. I do see Muslims killing in the name of Mammon Allah. We have to be willing to call a spade, a spade. Islam is the problem.

Where Muslims are engaged in fighting other Muslims, I see no need for us to intervene. If they strike out at the US or any of our close allies, I believe we must stop using "surgical strikes" and "sending messages" and we should start leveling cities and whole countries. Wars must be entered into to be won. I am somewhat conflicted with the idea of killing civilians, but the Muslim world only respects strength. The 59 poorly placed Tomahawk cruise missiles aren't strength. The strike was a poor attempt at sabre rattling. The Islamic world needs to see whole cities leveled in order to respect the power we have they are laughing at the West and the US right now.

Regime change in the Middle East is a fool's errand, a folly. Deposing Saddam may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but the result has been horrible. The same goes in Libya. As much as I want to see Syria's head of state assume room temperature, the result would be a huge vacuum of power. That void would be filled by one of two things. Either Iran and Russia would rush in and replace Assad with a similar leader or ISIS takes Syria and gains in power. Neither situation advances our interests, so, short of turning Syria into a glass parking lot, I see no reason to involve US assets in the region. Call me cold hearted, but when all results are bad, choosing to not get involved is prudent.

I am more convinced that a large scale war is not out of the question in the next 15 years. China, Russia and their North Korean red headed step child are all making noises. Iran wants to be the dominant Islamic power in the world and the forces of ISIS/al Qaeda/Wahhabism(all radical Sunni Muslim groups) want to do the same. With all of this, I don't see how a large scale hot war can be avoided forever. Something will cause these festering conflicts to go kinetic. I think the US would be well served to mind our own house and build our military up. The one area of the federal government I agree with is the military and its job to protect American interests.

I believe we broke the Soviet Union with our military strength and ability to out equip that backwards groups of commies. We must be willing to do the same to the ChiComs, Putin's Russia, the NorKs, Iran and ISIS, all while shrinking government here at home. Our military spending, while huge in comparison to most other nations, is a now small portion of the federal budget. If a real shooting war starts, we must no longer think about collateral damage and precision strikes. The time to return to strategic bombing and mass attacks to assure victory is at hand. War is terrible. We must want to shorten its duration and achieve total victory. World War 2 has to be the template. Achieve victory by completely breaking the will of your enemy to engage in battle and destroy the enemy's ability to make war by any and all means necessary.

I war does come, the only good to come from that war would be the ability of Christian missionaries to go into the conquered areas and help rebuild and win souls for Christ so that the conquered nation could then be placed on the right path.

Political correctness and identity politics have no place in the business of war.

This is just a short take. As I continue to research this issue, I'll wade into the deep end of this cesspool.

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