The Tragedy of Apostasy

First, you might be asking, “What is apostasy?” For the Church or the Believer in Jesus Christ, apostasy is basically the falling away from the truth; willing rejection of the truth of God which a person once believed.

My previous post talked about influence and that who is influencing each of us matters as well as who is influencing those people matters. On one hand the Believer should realize that the apostasy of the Church (this isn’t talking about the Catholic church, this is in regard to the NT Church) is made known to us in scripture (Matthew 24:10-12) yet so many don’t recognize it or speak up to expose it. (It is happening now and it is happening fast!) Why? I believe it is because we don’t want to offend the other party and that is the tragedy of apostasy. Believer’s today would rather ignore or tolerate false teaching and keep “the peace” or for the sake of “unity” or to keep from losing a friendship, business opportunities, ministry opportunities, or even to keep from losing popularity with the masses. This. Is. Tragic. Influence is a huge part of it. Beth Moore is probably a really good person apart from her now progressive theology, but the fact remains her doctrine, her theology is no longer Biblically sound – how did she get there? Influence. Who is influencing her? Well, look at who she follows on social media and you will find numerous Emerging/Progressive Christians.

Who do you follow on social media? Why do you follow them? Most likely you follow the people you do because you are a “fan” of what they do…music, movies, Christian leader/teacher etc., or you agree with their thinking and/or theology/doctrine. Have you ever looked at who those Christian teachers are following? You should. It is very eye opening! If who you are following are following and being influenced by others who are not Biblically sound, that is going to trickle down to you at some point. Would you recognize it? Would you even care?

Recently I received a message from Creo Collective a group of Emerging “Missional” pastors and leaders within the EFCA (I wrote some about this in my post Just Like Tempering Eggs), this message was to persuade me that it is not Emergent. I had already done enough research to know that isn’t really the case. Who they follow online also shows that they are aligned with the Emerging Missional Movement. Here is a quick list: Ed Stetzer, Scot McKnight, Alan Hirsch (look at who he follows and you will find the Pope, other EMC including apostates Rob Bell and Brian McLaren), Brad Brisco, Dan Kimball, Reggie McNeal, Erwin McManus, Brennan Manning, Jen Hatmaker, Eugene Petersen, Richard Rohr, Caesar Kalinowski (will find him following EMC and progresives like Brandon Hatmaker), Hugh Halter (you will find him following Jen and Brandon Hatmaker, Rachel Held Evans-LGTBQ advocate/ Christian, Gungor – progressive musician, Rob Bell an apostate, other EMC people) Andy Stanley, Matt Chandler, Jeff Vanderstelt… What’s my point? This is a short list of who Creo follows online – it is a list of EMC leaders, contemplative spiritualists, and even progressive Christians (social justice, LGTBQ advocates). Then if you look at who these people follow, it isn’t really encouraging. Another thing you find among this group and those they follow, is ecumenicism – basically anyone who labels themselves a “Christian” is a brother/sister in Christ….um, this is not Biblical. Because in this list you have Jen Hatmaker, and she and her husband have rejected God’s Word regarding homosexuality and are actually apostates of the Christian faith. (Isaiah 5:20) We are to separate ourselves from such people, not embrace them (1 Cor. 5:11). In this group you will find the embracing of the Catholic faith (not a Christian faith based on Biblical doctrine) … all because of unity, tolerance and everyone is made in the image of God etc. One of the main markers of the Emerging Missional (coined by Brian McLaren) is less importance on doctrine or the sound teaching of it and heightened focus on relationships with people and good works, another marker is having conversations rather than share the gospel, another is ecumenicism/universalism (unity of ALL faiths), another is social justice (which is basically Marxism and not Biblical). Creo Collective and the EFCA are very much connected to the EMC and Progressive Christian movements, and they aren’t alone so is the Southern Baptist Convention, the Wesleyan Church, Presbyterian etc. How can pastors and leaders be influenced by such people and maintain sound Biblical teaching? They can’t. Whoever is influencing them, is shaping what they think and believe about ministry, life, society, and God’s Word (1 Cor. 15:33) In these denominations, there are handfuls of pastors who are rejecting these things, but they are the minority and that is tragic.

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” – 2 Corinthians 6:14

The NT Church is falling away at warp speed! I believe the reason why is that there are no longer clear lines as to what is really Biblical Christianity and what is not. If you look at what is happening in society right now, we are seeing scripture leap off its pages, and the Bible says that when these things happen, there will be a great falling away of the Elect…that’s the Church. We have allowed so much unsound teaching into the Church through influence and now the Church is conditioned to it. If our spiritual mentors have taken a turn towards a ditch of false teaching, we need to call them out on it and if they don’t listen, we need to separate from them, but most of us don’t. Why? Most likely we don’t want to admit that the people that have had an impact on our spiritual journey have managed to jump the track into something that is no longer Biblically sound. A year ago or close to it when the Lord started me looking into Caesar Kalinowski, it opened a box of people who I had enjoyed learning from that I would need to step away from (Look into one false teacher and your search will naturally take you into a circle of others who teach the same) – if we missed something that showed the move to an unbiblical direction, we repent, separate from them and warn others about them. The tragedy of apostasy is the Church today would rather appeal to the feelings of men rather than stand for the truth of God’s Word. That’s it. StraightUp!

The Weight of Influence

Why does influence matter? Do you ever ask yourself this question? I have come to realize that influence does matter – it matters a lot! Have you ever wondered how strong, biblically sound Believer’s end up veering off the narrow way into a very wide ditch? I have asked God this question more times than I can remember and you know what He has shown me – INFLUENCE. Just because someone starts out solid in their Christian faith does not mean they will end that way if the people they allow to influence them are not sound, it will eventually have a negative impact on them as well. 1 Corinthians 15:33 “Be not deceived; Evil company corrupts good habits.” or “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” This is about influence. It matters! I have been thinking about some of the people who have influenced me as a Believer over the years, and you know what I have realized? Many of them have allowed some sort of unbiblical thinking or practice into their “Christianity” most likely because of someone who has had a spiritual influence on them. Some of these are pastors or ministry leaders and yet someone has had enough influence over them that now they are not completely inline with sound doctrine, and they teach that to those under their authority. Have they forgotten that pastors and leaders are held to a higher standard of accountability before the Lord? I don’t know, but it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Our influence as Believer’s in Jesus Christ carries a great amount of responsibility. Why are so many so easily or willing to accept teaching that contains error? Why do we need to learn from those who teach a mix of truth and error? A little error makes it all error! Gal. 5:9. The Bible says that we are to have nothing to do with those who teach false teaching or promote false teaching.

2 John 7 “Many deceivers have gone out into the world; they do not confess the coming of Jesus in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the anti-Christ.” 2 John 9 “Anyone who does not remain in Christ’s teaching, but goes beyond it does not have God.”

Yet, there are people all over the place being influenced by such teaching right now – today!!! The Bible says that such people are to be accursed – under a curse. That’s intense! There is weight and responsibility to who is influencing us and how we are influencing others. The Lord brought the title for this blog to mind about a week ago. I wasn’t really sure where He was going with it so I have been praying asking Him, “What are you getting at?” He gave me real life flesh and blood answers! In the course of a few days this is how He answered – I had a CCM artist pop up in my social media news feed and she was joyfully promoting a new book she was just getting started on written by a Progressive Christian pastors wife. A post prior to that one showed this same person demonstrating contemplative prayer. This CCM artist is followed by thousands of women and now her influence to these women has done two things: 1. gave a thumbs up to Christian women regarding this progressive Christian as someone good to read and follow. 2. She introduced a spiritual practice to these women that is not of God and not biblical, so now all these women see that “it’s all good”…No it’s not. Then another day, a church connected to a friend of a friend, shared a book by a contemplative spiritualist on their social media for those in their church to find after a pastor had apparently promoted it. WHY??? This stuff is not biblical!

So, as I have thought on and prayed about “the weight of influence” this is where the Lord has brought me. Pastor’s, leaders, mentors, etc. who is influencing you? Do you take the time to research the people you are listening to, watching, quoting, studying? Do you know that most of the “leaders” that impact pastor’s and leaders today are not biblically sound? How can I say that? Research…lots of it.

So again, do you know who is influencing you? Do they use basic Christian lingo (Jesus, gospel, discipleship etc.) but on a deeper level believe and promote the social justice gospel/cultural marxism? Do they believe and promote universalism and ecumenicalism? Do they believe and promote contemplative spirituality/spiritual formation/mysticism? Do they believe and promote the idea of being missional or incarnational? Do they believe and promote the story of God narrative over the Biblical gospel? Do they believe and promote relational evangelism (cultural Christianity) over Biblical evangelism? Do they believe and promote a prosperity gospel/WOF? Do they believe and promote the idea that the Church is to dominate all major areas of society and change the culture? There is so much more…but if you are saying yes to any of these, you are being influenced by false teachers. Why? The Bible doesn’t tell us to filter out the false teaching, it tells us to reject it. If we cannot find solid, sound, Biblical resources to learn from, then perhaps it is time to focus on the Word of God rather than elevating the thinking and concepts of men above it. There is weight in influence. That’s it. StraightUp!

Just Like Tempering Eggs

In July 2019, I watched some video training by a guy on Facebook that was shared by one of my pastors. I quickly saw some things that really were not inline with scripture. As I began to look a bit closer into him and those who he is connected with in ministry, as well as those who endorse his books, I found a line leading right into the Emerging Missional Church Movement. As I continued looking into these people, I eventually stumbled onto a connection of this in the EFCA (Evangelical Free Church of America).

In my looking into these people and others connected with them, I came across a couple of articles about the EFCA and contemplative spirituality on the Lighthouse Trails website from 2013 and 2014, but nothing more current, so in February of this year I sent a Letter to the Editor sharing with them what I was finding and asked them what they were seeing more currently, so below is my letter, their response and a comment that was left by an E-Free pastor. I have prayed about what to do with this information for weeks, and as I continue to have conversations with people and their concerns about false teaching and just things that are not biblically sound happening in their churches or churches of people known to them, I believe it is time to share this.

ME:

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

I know you have posted some things regarding the EFCA back in 2013-2014 and contemplative spirituality, but I haven’t seen anything more current so I thought I would share some things with you that I see. As a member (Technically) of an EFCA church, I accidentally stumbled across some things that, if correct, should be concerning to anyone who is attached to the EFCA.

So, as you probably know, in June 2019, the EFCA removed “premillennial” [belief in a thousand year reign of Christ after the tribulation] from their SOF and replaced it with “glorious return.” I wondered why, and this past Fall, I found the answer. There is a Vimeo video online of the President of the EFCA sharing why he wanted people to vote yes to the language change from premillennial to glorious return. What was his reason? A group of young pastors who wanted to credential under the EFCA but they couldn’t say they agreed with the premillennial view. I could be wrong, but that sounds like compromise. On June 19, 2019, the amendment was approved.

Then, in a search about the “Emerging Missional” movement, a blog post showed up on the EFCA website titled “Understanding the Missional Church” dated May 2012. The EFCA is going in the direction of the Missional Church movement or at least part of it is. Inside the EFCA is a grass roots group of pastors and leaders who desire to live and be “missional”*— that group is known as Creo Collective. Now, might this be the group of pastors who weren’t sure they could agree with the “premillennial” view? You have to Google Creo Collective (www.creocollective.org) to find them as they don’t just show up on the EFCA website.

I should mention that it is my understanding that not all EFCA pastors agree with the direction the EFCA is headed (however, that is not the case in our local church). From what I can tell, this movement is actually a part of the Emerging Church or at least it would appear that way. Why? Well, in 2018 Creo Collective trained EFCA pastors and leaders on the APEST model as taught by Alan Hirsch and his book Forgotten Ways. Alan Hirsch, as I believe you know, is an emerging church leader, and he is endorsed by many other EMC leaders. When you look at people Hirsch quotes, they are not people most Christians would be quoting. He tends to quote contemplative spiritualists, social-justice teachers, progressives, Catholic priests, etc. When I looked on the Creo Collective FB page for 2020, the first thing that comes up for training (coaching) is spiritual formation and later in the schedule is more training (coaching) on the APEST.

What’s my concern? Is the EFCA in fact lining up with the Emerging Church movement? What do you at Lighthouse Trails see happening?

Watching, C.J.

The following is the response from those at Lighthouse Trails. Their comments are used with permission and may not be used without their verbal or written consent.

LT:

“We agree that there are some EFCA leaders and pastors who are not promoting or embracing emergent church teachings or heading in that direction. However, we also share your concerns about EFCA as a whole and about their present leadership and direction. What we were observing in 2013 and 2014 regarding the EFCA has now borne its emergent “fruit.” As you can see in this 2011 recommend resources list, EFCA had made the decision to go down the contemplative mystical path. And now today, as you have pointed out, partly through EFCA groups like Creo Collective, they have followed the “natural” course that contemplative leads to—emergent, “progressive,” social justice; and based on what has happened to so many other denominations, we predict it will only get worse for the EFCA. Once a group starts down the contemplative path, only a determined and committed effort and desire to stop will keep that group from going full-blown emergent, socialist, and ultimately anti-Gospel.

While EFCA doctrines of belief statements still adhere to biblical principles, there are definite indications they are compromsing in order to keep everyone happy. We must remember that doctrines of belief statements are not enough to show an accurate gauge to how biblically healthy a denomination is. What must also be looked at are the various movements, recommendations, groups, pastors, churches, and offshoots of a denomination because those are what give a far more accurate glimpse into the future of that denomination. Creo Collective, plus the EFCA connections to emergent leaders such as Alan Hirsch are two examples of where EFCA is going.

One of several examples we saw of EFCA’s apparent compromising in order to keep everyone happy is a statement made about Replacement Theology** where they make allowance within their denominational structure to accept it or reject it. And coupled with their recent vote to remove the word “premillennial” (a word that would generally include Israel’s role in the last days scenario), our concerns that EFCA is indeed becoming emergent are only heightened.

*Missional: Replacing the term missions; it strives to improve society through social justice. De-emphasizes evangelism to the lost. Emphasizes being relevant and connected to the culture.”

The following is a comment left by an E-Free pastor after my letter was posted on Lighthouse Trails website, again I was given permission to use his comment. This is not a pastor I personally know nor is he from my state or district.

“As a Pastor of a EV Free Church I can tell you that you are correct that there has been a massive turn towards Emergent Spirituality within the EFCA. I have labored to warn leadership at our District and National levels concerning the dangers of Spiritual Formation, Contemplative Spirituality and their Social Gospel leanings. All of those efforts fell on deaf ears. Our District leadership has invited Emergent Speakers for district leadership meetings and they have endorsed such heretical mystics as St John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila. Our little church will not be embracing any of that. We are going to stick with the Bible and the simple gospel message of the cross. We are not interested in the latest church buzzwords and business models. We are definitely in a time of Apostasy and I am thankful for Lighthouse Trails, the Berean Call, and men and women such as Dave Hunt, Warren Smith, Ray Yungen, Caryl Matrisciana, Trevor Baker and others who have had the courage to stand for the Lord in these last hours. My prayer is that the church would wake up and cast off the works of darkness! Our prayers are with you! Endure dear saints, the Lord is coming soon!”

Over the past few months I have talked with two other E-Free pastors who confirm the concerns expressed in this post.

So, why do I post this? Because people need to know. We are in serious times in society and in the Church. As I have prayed as to whether the Lord would even want me to put this out there, He kept bringing to mind the process of tempering eggs. I love to make Creme Brulee, and when you do that, you have to temper the eggs with the hot cream little at a time. What I got from the Lord in His bringing this to mind, is this, deception comes into the Church a little at a time just like adding a little hot cream mixture to the eggs a little at a time so the eggs adjust to the change that is taking place and eventually you can just mix the rest of the cream in without worrying about messing up the eggs. That is the same thing with deception coming into the church, it comes a little at a time, tempering you so that you are conditioned to the change that is taking place, by the time people realize what is happening they will already actively be supporting and living in a Christianity that is no longer about a biblical gospel, a biblical Jesus, or even a true biblical Christianity. This post isn’t just for those connected to the EFCA it is for any Believer in Jesus Christ who is seeing some things that appear to be out of line of Biblical Christianity – it is time for the Church to wake up! That’s it. StraightUp!

Don’t Be Duped!

Are you being duped by your church? Does sound doctrine matter? YES! Doctrine in the simplest form is “teaching” and the Word of God is clear that what we teach is to be sound doctrine (teaching), meaning what we are teaching or being taught should not be anything that is not supported by scripture. This includes taking scripture out of context and twisting it to fit an idea, concept, method or philosophy that isn’t found in scripture. Can people teach false doctrine and still proclaim they are about the gospel, discipleship, Jesus? Sure they can, however, it will not lead people to a biblical Jesus or a biblical gospel.

Again, I’m going to pull apart the unbiblical teachings of Caesar Kalinowski – and there are many! You will hear these same teachings from his friends and ministry partners Alan Hirsch and Hugh Halter. (These guys are Emerging Church leaders. Look them up. Their social media alone is very eye opening). One of the main ideas that is taught is the discipling of nonbelievers. This is NOT supported at all by scripture, however, it is the base you need to create a more cultural friendly kind of Christianity. What does Caesar and others use to support such teaching? Well, they don’t have any scripture to support this idea, so they say the disciples were pre-converted. If Jesus discipled nonbelievers then we do too. Again, this is not supported by scripture. Caesar will also say that we disciple nonbelievers because we disciple our kids, but this is NOT supported by scripture either. In any way you look for a definition of a disciple from a biblical perspective, you are going to find that a disciple is a committed follower or learner of Jesus Christ. Unbelievers are neither committed to following or learning the ways of being Christian. (Acts 2:38, 2:41). We know from the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19) that the disciples of Jesus (including us) are to go (as you go) preaching/proclaiming the gospel. (they change this out with using the unique language of the Story of God – NOT the gospel). We are to see others come to be followers and learners of Christ..that is NOT unbelievers. Now, however, scripture DOES support the disciples being true followers of Jesus. Jesus’ call to the disciples wasn’t “Hey, come pray this prayer and be my disciple” it was “FOLLOW ME” and these men obeyed Him immediately- they LEFT EVERYTHING! (Matt. 4:18-22. Repeats in Mark 1:18) Then Jesus calls Levi (Matthew) in Mark 2:14 with the same command “FOLLOW ME” and up he went immediately. Later we find Jesus with his specific group of men from whom we have the 12 apostles. (Mark 3:13-19).

“Jesus’ call to come follow him is more than an invitation to pray a prayer- it was a summons to let go of their lives and find a new life in Him and for Him.” – Unknown

Perhaps the disciples were actually more correctly converted disciples than those of us today. Who or what have you given up to follow Jesus? What has it cost you? Something to think about. For them the call was “Follow Me” the act of faith was getting up, leaving everything behind and following Jesus. Then, there is the claim that we disciple our kids, so we do in fact disciple nonbelievers. NOPE. This is NOT supported by scripture either. God’s Word tells us to TRAIN up our children (Prov. 22:6), not disciple them; these are two very different ideas. Most Believers would understand that the point of discipleship is to teach a committed follower how to live their new life in Christ according to God’s Word. The scriptures speak of “training” our kids- in the Hebrew “Khanak” means to dedicate. The same word is also used in regards to dedicating such things as a house, a temple, and an image. (Deut. 20:5, 1 Kings 8:63, Dan. 3:2) however only in Proverbs 22:6 is the verb Khanak translated “train”. Khanak speaks to setting aside, narrowing, or hedging in. So, we are told in scripture to train or even shape our kids so as they grow up they will know and desire to follow Jesus. There is a big difference between shaping our kids to come to Christ and discipling them to walk it out (following Him). The teaching by Caesar and others that the disciples were pre-converted, therefore we disciple nonbelievers is simply unbiblical. The Word of God does not support it. Don’t be duped. That’s it. StraightUp!

A New Kind of Christianity – What?

Have you heard this? Maybe you have heard something like one of these – “A new way of being Christian”, “Reinventing the Church”, or “Re-Imaging Christianity”. You might be saying yes or you might be shaking your head no and thinking what?! These are statements you will hear from “evangelical Christians” (Those who are connected to the Emerging “Missional” Church movement) who think that the Church needs to change in order to be more relevant to today’s society and culture, but actually, it is all a bunch of false gibberish, ideas, philosophies, concepts and methods that are not biblically sound. There is only one way to be a Christian (through repentance and a profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior), that doesn’t change and the Word of God doesn’t change because God doesn’t change. (Hebrews 13:8) the Word of God and the Gospel are just as relevant today as they have ever been- that will NOT change! Whether a society accepts God’s Word as absolute Truth or not, the fact remains that it IS!

So, what does something like “A new way of being Christian” mean? Well, it means being a culturally friendly Christian. It means softening the Gospel so you don’t have to feel weird or sacrifice a friendship because you shared the Gospel and someone got offended, so now you have one less friend. What does this soft gospel look like? The Story of God (A summary of the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation). Sorry but this is NOT the biblical Gospel! Jesus never commanded the disciples or us to go share the “Story of God” – Jesus never shared the Story of God. Jesus told people, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is near.” When we soften the Gospel so that we don’t offend people, we are denying who Christ really is and what He really did on the Cross. The Word of God tells us, that if we deny Him before men, He will deny us before the Father. (Matthew 10:33) Think about that! Jesus will DENY you before His Father if you deny Him before men- that should scare the milk duds out of you! The only thing that is relevant in any culture at any time is the Word of God and the biblical Gospel, Jesus lived, died, and rose again. Repent and call on the name of Jesus and you will be saved – that’s it.

One such person who promotes The Story of God in his book The Gospel Primer is Caesar Kalinowski. Now there are many things with this guys overall “doctrine” that should raise flags, but for now I am going to focus on this book. It is not biblically sound. Just the concept of learning and telling the story of God over the pure biblical Gospel is not biblical. This book, which I have read through, has a few things that should send up red flags, as if any more are needed beyond the obvious. Personally, this book sounds like nothing more than conditioning. It is all about getting you, the Christian, to second guess what you believe and to get you to rethink what and how you should be sharing the “gospel” – Pg. 65 He writes, “But if we want to tell our stories in ways that others who have not learned this UNUSUAL DIALECT will relate to and connect with, we need to RETRAIN ourselves to proclaim the gospel using language that communicates good news in words that the listener will understand.” Um, NO!!! Sharing the Gospel as demonstrated in scripture is NOT hard to understand, it is offensive!(1 Cor.1:18) … and we can’t have that now can we? (that is sarcasm) We do not get to change that! The Gospel is not meant to make people feel good or even happy. There is a cost to following Jesus.

On another page 1.1 he writes “In a nutshell, we can sum it up this way: The gospel is that God himself has come to rescue and renew creation in and through the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Why does creation (which includes you and me) need rescuing? Because of sin. There is a huge problem in this, this is kingdom now theology and it is not biblical. Jesus did not live, die and resurrect to rescue and renew creation, Jesus died and rose again to redeem HUMANITY from SEPARATION from God because of SIN. This planet we live on is His provision to sustain His creation (you, me and every other human) but He did not shed His blood to save the earth. In this same section, he writes, “In order to effectively equip our missional community to be “fluent” in the gospel (he isn’t talking about the biblical gospel), we will need to create a culture where it is normal to speak the gospel to each other regularly, naturally.” This is conditioning! If you hear something enough and do it enough, you can convince yourself it is right. This is not! Then there is the whole concept of being “missional” the main concept of the Emerging Church. No where in scripture are we told to be incarnational or missional. They are not biblical concepts. They are however, the idea of people who think they have figured out a better way to be Christian. This book is published by Missio Publishing, a publisher for emerging and progressive Christians like Brandon Hatmaker. The editor of this book is Hugh Halter (check out his FB page) who is also an Emerging Missional Church leader who is endorsed by Brian McLaren another Emerging Missional guy (Google him or even find him on YouTube…this guy is NOT a Christian). The Word of God says we are to have NOTHING to do with false teachers. Caesar is surrounded by them. That’s it. StraightUp!

United Why?

Hurricane Church

This is a photo I recently took of an old “church”- it makes a wonderful picture. As I stood looking at it, the Lord reminded me, “This is not the Church. This is an old empty building.” Even in the state that this building is in today, if a couple of Believers gathered in it to pray, worship, read scripture, this building would be a Church. The Christian Church is made up of people. People who believe that Jesus is the Son of God, He died on the Cross for our sin, and that God raised Him from the dead – this is what makes a Biblical Christian and it is they who make up the Body of Christ- the Church. One of the greatest deceptions in the Church today is that we need to be united with all who claim to be “Christian” or even those of completely different faiths, unity shows love and peace. However, there is a serious problem with this mindset. You cannot unite the Body of Christ with those who do not believe faith alone, in Christ alone. You cannot unite the Body of Christ with those who do not preach a biblical gospel. When the Christian Church seeks unity with other “churches” for any reason other than the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Church is actually uniting with false churches. Just because there is a building labeled a Church, doesn’t mean they are His Church. The Word of God speaks a lot regarding unity of God’s people. (Psalm 133:1, Ephesians 4:13, John 17:23).

“I in them and you in me, so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” -John 17:23

Look at what Jesus is saying, “I in them…” we know that when a person confesses faith in Christ they receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit – the presence of God in the life of every true Believer. The command to love one another and to have unity is to His church, His Body! Those in whom He dwells through the presence of His Spirit. This is not about love and unity for the sake of peace between all faiths, this kind of unity is actually making the Church unequally yoked and we are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. Why is that? When we are unequally yoked most often it is the Believer who will change to fit in rather than the nonbelievers- again, INFLUENCE. When the Church finds unity with others who are not truly apart of the Body of Christ, His Church, guess who actually will have the greater influence? Not His Church. There is an entire movement happening within the evangelical Church where because of “unity” people are bringing unbiblical practices into the Body of Christ- false teaching and unsound doctrine all due to being unequally yoked and influenced by those who claim to be Christians, but are not biblical Christians.

Should the Church be united with other denominations that preach a biblical gospel? Yes, absolutely. But if we are tying our churches to others who do not preach a biblical gospel, those strings of unity need to be cut. The unity of the Body of Christ involves the love between Believers in its reflection of the love between the Father and the Son- it is this that should draw the world’s attention to the reality of God’s love and the reality of Jesus as the Son of God, the resurrected Savior. That’s it. Straight Up!

Fourth Quarter: Time to Wake Up

When I played basketball in high school we would have games where it seemed as though we were sleeping through the game, but then the fourth quarter would come and the coach would yell at us, “Wake Up” – she was telling us to pay attention and look alive so maybe we would finish the game well. This is the picture the Lord has been showing me of the Church (The Body of Christ made up of those who profess to believe in Jesus, the Son of God who died on the Cross and whom God raised from the grave…). The picture of a sleeping Church, a comfortable Church. The problem with sleepy, comfortable churches is they are more susceptible to deception, false teaching, unbiblical ideas, methods and concepts. We have got to wake up. We have got to start paying attention to what is coming into our churches and even to who and what we allow to influence us in our personal walk with the Lord. The past few weeks the Lord has been reminding me of the importance of ‘influence‘ and those we allow to influence us…even on a more personal level, who I allow to influence who I am as a Believer. It goes beyond us. Think of one or two people you allow to influence you as a Believer. Do you know who influences them? Do you know who they are attaching themselves to and what do those people reflect in what they believe as ‘Christians’? Does this really matter? Absolutely!

Who you spend time with the most is who you will become.

Who we allow to influence us as Believers, they are going to be who influence our thinking, our beliefs, how we live that out. So, what happens when the people we allow to influence us begin to drift from sound biblical teaching because of those who influence them?! We will find ourselves heading into deception. Influence can be good, but it can also be like yeast infecting the entire loaf of bread. In Matthew 16:11-12 Jesus is talking to the disciples, cautioning them about the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees – influence. Their influence and teaching (doctrine) would be harmful to them. What happens when you have been influenced by someone who is being influenced by others who are not teaching sound biblical teaching AND you begin passing that same unbiblical influence on to other Believers? We are accountable for that – Guess what?! This IS happening in the Church. It is happening with people who influence thousands of Believers daily! It’s happening in local churches all over the country and it is ALL because of the influence of others who even though they are not walking in Biblical truth, they are given room to influence.

It’s the Fourth Quarter Church, if we want to finish well we have got to WAKE UP! Are you teachable enough that the Lord has the ability, the freedom to show you who or what you are allowing to influence you as a Believer that is not inline with sound Biblical teaching? Are you willing to ask Him to show you and then remove those influences? (Honestly, I have had to do this over the past couple of weeks as I have come across some things with people I enjoyed learning from, but they are clearly not walking in Biblical truth and I can’t walk right with the Lord if I continue to allow these people a place of influence in my life. It is so disappointing.) We need to get back to being influenced by the Word of God most and to cut the threads of anything that is not biblically sound. That’s it. StraightUp!

A Small Dish of Poop in the Brownies

My last post was about deception in the Church (Poop in the Brownies). Deception looks like false teaching, using the Word of God out of context and just flat out heresy.

We would never eat a pan of brownies knowing there was a little “poop” in them, so why is the Church so accepting of it in the theology of some who are going out training and teaching in the name of the “gospel” or in being “missional”? If you aren’t familiar with the concept or methodology of being “missional” or “incarnate” you might want to do some research. Here is a question for you; do you know the Word of God intimately enough to recognize what is almost right in someone’s theology? We as Believers don’t need discernment to recognize right from wrong, we need it to recognize right from almost right. Should we tolerate or accept this kind of teaching or theology in the Church? Absolutely not! (1 Timothy 6:3.) We have the whole counsel of God – the Bible is complete! (Acts 20:27) So really we have no excuse to be “tossed here and there” as (Ephesians 4:14) mentions because we should be reading, studying God’s Word that we will recognize anything that is out of line with it. Jude 3 tells us to contend for the faith, we need to recognize even the slightest unbiblical teaching, we need to speak up and “contend” for truth not accept it or tolerate it.

So, what might “poop” in the brownies look like today?

When we reduce Christianity to a negative system where fasting becomes more sacred than feasting, law wins out over grace, and correct theology becomes more important than Divine encounter, we in effect become the modern – day pharisees whose ministry Jesus was set against.” –

Truth is narrow, but grace is wide.” –

That makes me want to vomit! I didn’t put the name of who said these, but I will tell you they are impacting hundreds of churches and Christians regularly. If you don’t see the issues with the above statements, you don’t know truth. Those are “poop” in the brownies of theology that is flooding churches EVERYWHERE. We should not accept it, we should not tolerate it and we should not partner with it. That’s it. StraightUp! (I hope you share this one)

Poop in the Brownies

How much poop could be in a pan of brownies before you would decide not to eat them? We will come back to this later, but in the mean time think about it.

There are “Christians” out there today that want to teach your kids that God simply wants to be their best friend forever.

There are “Christians” out there today who take scripture and stretch it so that it fits their formula of how Christians should be doing the Christian thing. They talk a lot about the gospel, incarnational missional community (Christians and non Christians), discipleship (disciplining even the unbeliever). They teach going out and being like the culture to reach the culture. Go eat and drink and party because God loves a good party.

There are “Christians” today who will tell you its okay to just be you, your only human so go ahead drink, smoke, cuss, watch the Bachelor, etc. God still loves you.

Here’s the thing, all the things listed above are poop in the brownies! It’s deception! God doesn’t simply want your kids to think He wants to be their best friend forever. No! God wants them to know they are sinners in need of a savior, and that Jesus is that Savior through faith. They need to know this as early as possible. They need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, learning, growing into who God created them to be so that they can stand against the lies of the enemy. The Christian life is not a method, movement or formula. It’s a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. You can’t stretch His Word or take it out of context to make it fit how you want to live as a Christian. Christians are called to live different than unbelievers (the world, culture) we are not told to be like them to reach them. Christians are called to preach the gospel, make disciples and baptize them – you don’t baptize unbelieving people, therefore you don’t disciple them either.

The gospel isn’t telling “God’s” story, (a nice gentle story comprising the entire Bible in a nut shell) the gospel is that Jesus, the Son of God, came, lived, died on the cross and rose again defeating death and sin. The gospel is the Kingdom of God is near, repent and be baptized. Jesus called out sin and told people to go and sin no more. When people “soften” the gospel so that the unbeliever won’t be offended, that’s poop in the brownies. The gospel is offensive to an unsaved world. We don’t get to change the concept of what the gospel looks like so that we aren’t afraid of being rejected or persecuted for sharing it. Guess what! The gospel requires a natural tension, it requires the hearer to either accept it or reject it. Anything else is poop in the brownies. The gospel requires sacrifice on the part of the Believer, we know from the Word of God that preaching the gospel, sharing it with unbelievers requires us to be willing to be rejected, persecuted, unpopular etc. it requires us laying down self for the sake of the Cross of Christ. Anything else is poop in the brownies.

Let’s go back to the starting question, how much poop could be in a pan of brownies before you would decide not to eat them? Hopefully, you are saying, “Uh, none.” Have you caught on that the poop is deception? Deception is EVERYWHERE! The enemy is gaining so much ground and it’s because the Church has grown lazy, it’s sleeping. We are told to be on guard, to be watchful, alert and sober minded, but we’re not, so we are okay with a little poop in our brownies. Church, deception is darkness. There cannot be a little poop in God’s Truth. You can not have a mix of good and evil. God is a holy God, he isn’t going to use deception, even a tiny bit of it, for the purpose of His Kingdom. To think a little deception is no big deal, is a lie from the pit of hell. STOP eating poop in the brownies! That’s it SraightUp!

Always Possibility

Crab Apple Tree starting to blossom!

One thing I really love about living in the Upper Midwest is that there are actually four seasons unlike California where I grew up. However, I am not a fan of winter being the longest of the four seasons. Winter here was brutal this year and LONG! I noticed last week when we went to church everything was still just so dead looking, except for grass, then on Monday we had a warmer day and lots of sunshine (it was almost like a Narnia moment where Aslan walks through and everything blooms and comes to life) as I drove more and more trees seemed to bloom and pop out little green buds! So, what’s my point? There is ALWAYS possibility! For those who put their faith in Jesus, there is always possibility! (Mark 9:23) And Jesus said to him, ” ‘If you can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” (Matt. 19:26, Mark 10:27, Luke 18:27)

So, as I drove along amazed out how in 24 hrs. time trees went from looking dead and ugly to alive with the new life of little green buds breaking forth! It made me whisper a prayer of gratitude to the Lord for the changing seasons, but even more for the way He reminds us through His creation of His goodness, His love, His power. I found myself thanking Him that no matter how challenging a situation in life may be, there is always hope, there is always the possibility of something new. He is the One who can make dead things come to life again, (marriages, relationships, churches, businesses, physical well being etc.) He is the One who saves, rescues, restores, and heals. When we grow weary in the challenges, He will renew our strength. (Is. 40:31) When we feel as though things won’t change, they won’t get better, we will never accomplish what He has put in our hearts to do, if we will trust and believe, then there is ALWAYS possibility, because we have a God who is not limited like we are – He is always working, always making something new, I think we just have to remind ourselves to look for Him in all things at all times and find hope in the fact that He is making things new and one day there will be the ultimate realization of the newness of life in Christ. That’s it. StraightUp!

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new.”