Replacing Easter

I believe this post that I originally wrote three years ago is even more applicable today. I have edited a few parts. This Resurrection Sunday, I pray that all true believers will be encouraged.

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What is society afraid of?

What is Christianity afraid of?

What are you afraid of?

Society is afraid of the truth. Christianity is afraid of being offensive. As for what you are afraid of, that is something only you can answer. My goal is that this post will have you thinking about why you do what you do.

Easter is a great time to bring this subject matter to light. Let me explain. For almost 40 days, many have been practicing the idea of “Lent.” They have no clue why they do it except that it is part of their religion. Many have not a single thought about God, but want to make sure that they cover all the bases just in case. They will live like the world every single day, except for a special day or two in the entire calendar so their “God” box will be checked. This leaves them feeling good about themselves so they can have a sense of being a “Christian.” Yet, the heart condemns those who think they can please God by pleasing themselves.

For years, I have worked with many people who can live, talk, and act like a minion of the evil one every single day. Yet, in one swift moment, as soon as they find out that you are a believer, they can and will proclaim, “Oh, I am a Christian.” The follow-up questions are quickly followed by silence until it grows awkward and the person soon finds something else with which to occupy their time. Or, in the better scenarios, you hear the response of, “Well, that is private and is just between me and the Man upstairs. Besides, who are you to judge me? The Bible says, “Don’t judge!”

What types of questions might we ask of any individual with whom we may meet? This could be another family member, a friend, a neighbor, or a work colleague.

“Where do you attend church? Where are you in fellowship each week with other believers seeking to remind the world that we are not of this world, but that we are just passing through?”

“What about your relationships? Are you married or just living in a way that goes contrary to the Word of God? Why would you want to be living with somebody who does not share your views, if you are a true believer?”

“Do your words and actions reflect that you are different, or do you strive to be just like those around you? Would your Sunday appearance give forth the reflection of a hypocrite, or a genuine believer longing to be more like Jesus Christ despite the difficulties of living a life of holiness?”

Despite the awkward silence or vocal calls about not judging, Easter and Christmas find more people claiming the name of Christ than any other time of the year. They are willing to give up things for Lent, but not for Christ. Far too many think that they are meriting favor or grace with God by giving up chocolate, meat, intimacy, or whatever.

When the forty days of Lent arrives, people flock to services like Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, or Easter Morning service never to be seen again til Christmas. Yet, for all the fasting or giving up of things, nothing has changed in their lives. They produce the same cursing, same vulgarity, same illicit relationships, and not one thing to indicate that they have actually spent time with Jesus Christ and are a new creation.

As for society, just look at our workplaces. Lies, deceit, and dishonesty rules the day. Few are willing to take a stand, and when something is said as a reminder, those speaking up are quickly removed. What does this have to do with Easter time? Simply this. These same practices and philosophies have moved from universally being accepted as part of the workplace to being fully accepted in the circles of so-called Christianity.

Let me be very blunt!

Easter is NOT about a bunny that lays eggs!

Easter is NOT about furry chicken that lays candy!

Easter is NOT about egg hunts, bouncy castles, lattes, and clowns on a Sunday.

Easter is supposedly to revolve around the holy Person of Jesus Christ. The reminder of the week prior to the Sunday should be a solemn reminder of the price that was carried on the cross. The wrath of God the Father was poured upon His only begotten Son because of the sins of mankind. It pleased the Father to bruise and crush His own Son because of the cursing, the vulgarity, the illicit relationships, and all sin that separates us from a holy God.

Christianity has allowed society to tell us that Easter has nothing to do with Jesus Christ. We are not allowed to speak of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on Calvary, but we can speak the religion of secularism and commercialism all day long. Nobody has one single problem with that. The world and the church have now merged in such a way that it is almost impossible in most circles to know where one starts and one ends.

If you are a true believer and have placed your faith in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation, then this next section is a solemn reminder and exhortation to you and your family.

This Sunday, we have the privilege of celebrating the most glorious event that has ever transpired in all of human history. Nothing can top what took place almost 2000 years ago. Let me summarize what this Sunday SHOULD mean to you.

1. He laid aside His glory as the all-powerful majestic King of all Creation and came down to this sin-cursed earth.
2. He was born in a lowly stable showing the stark opposite of what He had enjoyed for all of eternity past.
3. He was welcomed by magi as well as lowly shepherds who guarded the lambs that would be sacrificed each Passover.
4. He grew in wisdom and stature and lived in obedience to the commands of both His earthly parents and the will of His heavenly Father.
5. He spent 3 ½ years walking the dusty roads of Galilee, Judea, and Samaria preaching the kingdom of heaven.
6. He was betrayed and abandoned by every one of His disciples.
7. He, the King of all Creation, was beaten, mocked, scourged into a bloody mess, and then hung between earth and heaven.
8. He bore upon Himself our sins and was ultimately forsaken even by His own Father in heaven because God the Father could not stand to look upon sin.
9. He became sin on our behalf and became clothed with our filth so that we would be clothed in His righteousness.
10. He died and was buried like a common criminal in a borrowed tomb.

But Sunday was coming!

There should be no doubt that the disciples had contacted the local businesses to ensure that bouncy castles were set up outside the tomb to celebrate what was going to happen. There should be no doubt that the apostle Peter, having just denied the Lord three times earlier that week, was the instigator in setting up an Easter Egg hunt in order to entice the children of the murderous hordes to come to their service so that they would have greater numbers. There should be no doubt, based on what we see in modern Christianity, that the early New Testament church was prepared with the latest jokes and frivolity after having just seen the King of all Creation die and be buried.

Dear brothers and sisters, do you see the hypocrisy in the above statements? If it does not bother you to see the entertainment on any given Sunday in church, then it is time to examine your heart to see whether you are truly of the faith. If the only thing you can think of is, “Well, what you say may be true, but the Bible says not to judge,” then you have failed miserably to comprehend the solemnness and the seriousness of what this Sunday is all about. If you think that Easter is about the bunny and candy eggs, then your pastor and church have failed in their responsibility to teach you the truth of the gospel.

Easter is NOT about you and your perceived needs!

Easter is about the conclusion of the worst week in the history of mankind!
Easter is about the reality of the sacrifice that Christ made on Calvary!
Easter is about the truth Christ came to save sinners, of whom I am chief!
Easter is about the defeat of sin, hell, Satan, and the grave!
Easter is about Resurrection Sunday!
Easter is about Jesus Christ coming back to life victoriously!
Easter is about Jesus Christ one day coming for all who believe on Him!
Easter is about change and becoming a new creation in Christ!

Today, you have a choice. You can choose to continue replacing Easter with the world, or you can stop setting your affections on the things of this world, and setting your affections on the things of heaven.

My purpose is not to judge the world with my words. My thoughts are to be a beacon in the wilderness shining a light that points others to Jesus Christ alone. My desire is to be a gentle reminder that true believers are called to be different, not the same as the world.

We are NOT replacing Easter in our home, but we will joyfully, reverently, and humbly celebrate –

Resurrection Sunday!

He is risen! He is risen indeed! Blessed be the name of the Lord! And can it be that He died, was buried, and rose again for me!

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Deuteronomy 32:35 (King James Version) 35. To me belongeth vengeance and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.

I read throughout the Bible where God punished Israel (and even other heathen countries) for their rebellion against Him and His laws. And I also read where eventually they cry out to God for repentance. They come to the place where they realize that they have wronged God and turn back and beg for mercy. Of course, God stays His hand and gives them relief from their punishment and all is rosy for a while.

I look at society today and see a completely different sort. I see a people who are so intelligent and logical that they can explain the most horrendous events away and never be none the wiser as to their origins.

I see a people who not only have the greatest hate for God, but seem to get offended at the drop of a hat when He is mentioned.

I see a society that sneers at the Christian and detests his existence.

If you mention that pandemics and suffering originate from the sovereign hand of God, they laugh you to scorn and pity your ignorance (Eph. 4.18).

What has changed? Why don’t people throw themselves to their knees in remorse and cry out for mercy anymore?

It’s the same God that runs the show. It’s the same God that is growing angrier by the day over man’s rebellion. It’s the same God that keeps the fires of hell stoked for the day of Judgment.

Yet, man as a whole, just carries on as if life is bliss and all is well in heaven and earth.

I like how Jonathan Edwards relates the picture of a spider being held over the fire. My wife hates spiders with a passion. She would rather put up with thousands of mosquitoes rather than live with one spider. I picture her having to hold a big, juicy, squirming spider by the leg as it frantically tries to crawl back onto her hand. I know for a fact that it wouldn’t be too long before she hurled that vial creature into the consuming flames.

Man is indeed walking through life with a countdown timer ticking. Second by second, tick by tick, man is creeping ever closer to the day he will stand before God and give account for his life on earth. Yet, life seems to continue as normal. Yes, we have quarantines, isolation, social distancing, etc., but how many of us have had genuine thoughts of repentance, reform or revival these last weeks? How many of us have literally been stopped in our tracks by this whole trial and looked up?

Not very many I’m afraid. If the church isn’t turning to God and crying out for reform, then why should the world? All the world sees is a disobedient church rebelling against the orders from our local governments and doing what they can to skirt the rules. How does this make Christ look, seeing as we are supposed to represent Him?

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God should be listened to by all, saved and unsaved. At this time of year, as we inch closer to remembering Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, shouldn’t we be focusing on allowing this wake-up call to cut through the cobwebs and mental fog and really shake us up?

What’s so different between this calamity and those we read about in the Bible? Same God. Same sin. Yet, we seem to feel like this is just a virus and it doesn’t really concern us (Prov. 28. 14).

At no other time in history are we as a society faced with so much that can confuse, deceive and destroy us. Some between 40 to 60% of everything we’re told online is fake. The problem is, which part? It is virtually impossible to figure out what’s true and what’s false. And in doing so, you will run into many sources that make their stance sound like the real one. Argh! Even when it comes to Scripture. If you look online you will literally find hundreds or even thousands of interpretations regarding Revelations and eschatology. How on earth can anyone find the truth anymore?

I have had many conversations with Christians in person and online and I have only found a very small few that I can actually talk too and agree on most everything. Notice I said, ‘most everything’. But then there’s those who call themselves Christians and believe such erroneous ideas that you stand back and shake your head in disbelief. Just because one calls himself ‘Christian’, doesn’t mean he’s saved. That’s for sure!

In my experience, one truth seems to outweigh everything else when it comes to God. That truth is His absolute sovereignty. God is supreme and all-powerful and in control of the good and the bad. Every creature is on a leash and He controls them all. There is no such things as free will and there is no such thing as some sort of battle between good and evil. God controls the devil and allows him to do His bidding just as He does everyone else, and no one, no matter how powerful he is, can operate outside His sovereignty.

This truth separates the true believer from the false convert. The true believer will embrace God’s sovereignty and rest in its comforting shadow, while the false convert will fight and struggle against it.

This deception has all but ruined the church, but it has done something amazing. It has revealed the tares and separated them off from the wheat. Now we can tell them apart! Now we can know who’s genuinely saved and who’s faking it.

Unfortunately the world doesn’t care about the wheat and the tares and all they see is a bunch of hypocrites.

At this time of year, when we celebrate God’s wrath passing us over and the the beautiful work of Jesus Christ washing us clean from all sin, we must ensure that we act in such a way that brings glory to Jesus Christ and makes the world take notice. They do watch us and they are aware of the fakery of the church. I see this all the time in satires and jokes.

Jesus deserves to be held in such high regard that any notion of sin would be so abhorrent that we would run away from the temptation faster than a COVID-19 symptom party. Paul speaks of carrying around the dying body of Jesus Christ in his daily life. How would that change your way of doing things if you were given the task of carrying the bleeding Lamb of God around all day? Everytime you went to sin, you saw Him staring at you through swollen eyes? Everytime you wanted to sin, you would hear a whisper from bleeding cracked lips, “Don’t”.

I think more of us need this daily reminder. We take life to flippantly. We waste way to much time and leave far too much behind us on a day to day basis. This, I suppose is the downside to eternal security. We don’t have to do anything to earn or secure our salvation, so most, if not all of us, become complacent and comfortable. This is indeed a tragedy. Instead we are suppose to be running the race, spreading the seed of the Gospel to all mankind, and being the ACTIVE ambassadors we were commissioned to be.

Yes, the sinner is in the hand of an angry God, and the more he sins the greater God’s hatred and disgust grows against him, but we as Christians are supposed to be the light that shines in the darkness that gives the lost a beacon of hope to latch onto. If we adopt the dimmer switch of compromise, then when the darkness thickens, the lost won’t see you.

 

Facing a Task Unfinished

Is there any wonder as to why we STILL face an unfinished task?

There was a time when prayer accompanied the cry and call to missions throughout the evangelical church of Jesus Christ. Sadly, those days are rare any more for there is little prayer and no longer any calls to serve and deliver the gospel message.

“Facing a task unfinished
That drives us to our knees
A need that, undiminished
Rebukes our slothful ease
We, who rejoice to know Thee
Renew before Thy throne
The solemn pledge we owe Thee
To go and make Thee known

Shaken in Prayer

To begin with, I recognize that this post may not be well received due to the subject matter. I speak of prayer. Some would argue that prayer is a good thing and that they practice prayer in their homes and in their churches. Others ignore prayer because it is something that they seem to be afraid of being present in their lives.

One source defined prayer as – “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.”

As true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we know that prayer to an object of worship or to any man-made deity is of no avail. Even as Christians, it is important that we come before God in prayer in the right manner or He will not hear us.

On the side of self-deprecation, I know I am NOT where I need to be (or should be) when it comes to the discipline of prayer. Prayer takes discipline and it is hard work. Part of this is because it opens us up the face of the Almighty.

Facing God in His own throne room is humbling and allows no tolerance for the pride of depraved creatures. If we think that we can approach God on our own terms and ask based on the whims of our desires instead of what the Holy Spirit utters from the depths of our innermost being, then we are duping ourselves.

When the Lord Jesus Christ was on earth, His prayers were addressed to the Father. Coming to the end of His earthly ministry, His sole prayer was, “Not my will, but Thine be done.”

During my weakness in body and having to adjust to the reality of vertigo, the matter of prayer has become more important to me. Maybe, one reason is simply because there are times that I am not able to do much but sit in my chair. The Lord being gracious to me has brought different individuals and situations to my mind and I have used my downtime to pray for them.

Sadly, having served in ministry for over 25 years, I find a horrifying reality is ever-present in our western churches. The reality is so horrendous that it is hard to believe that it would be uttered in more than very hushed tones in the deepest closets of our homes and churches. Yawning open like the whale’s mouth ready to engulf Jonah, it reveals nothing more than this:

The church as a whole does NOT want to pray!

“Whoa!” You, as the reader, would probably implore me to stop for a moment and reassess the situation. But ponder the difference in the church-at-large that we find in western circles and prayerfully, soberly, with weeping read these next three verses from Acts 4:31-33.

And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

Please, take a moment and go back and re-read ALL THE BOLD parts that I have highlighted.

Dear brothers and sisters, the person that spends time with God in prayer is an oddity. I am, by no means, referring to a perfunctory and ever so brief blessing over our meals. I am referring to that odd person who has chosen to punctuate their days with effectual and fervent prayer.

In my fifty plus years, ten decades, half a century – I have NEVER been to a prayer meeting where the gathered group was SHAKEN IN PRAYER!

I say this to my shame because I was part of the group. There were times I would pray aloud, while at others, I would meditate and commune with God silently in my soul.

But, again I say that I have NEVER been SHAKEN IN PRAYER!

Is it impossible for us to comprehend such a matter in the 21st century? Are we so far removed from the power of the Holy Spirit that we have quenched Him into silence?

Is there any wonder that we do not see revival?

Is there any cause for concern that the last known true revivals have not taken place in the USA or the UK for 80-100 years? Revivals such as the Welsh Revival in 1905, the Revival of the Isle of Lewis around 1950, and the East Anglian Revival in my British home counties of Norfolk and Suffolk.

ALL of these revivals did not come because a notice was put on a billboard, advertising revivals taking place at 7pm each night. They did not come because an entertainment group was brought into the church and whipped everyone into an emotional frenzy.

REVIVAL ONLY COMES WITH FERVENT PRAYER!

James 5:16 is a shame to my own faith, or lack thereof, in my own testimony.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Yet, our prayers far too often are merely a litany of petitions as we beg God for this and beg Him for that. We are like a child going up to Santa Claus at the local shopping mall with our little list and trying to use Him like a genie let loose from a bottle and desirous to give us our three wishes.

Today, we have not seen revival because we lack prayer. We struggle to maintain high levels of missions work because we lack prayer. The world demands our loyalty and our allegiance to their wicked degradations, and the church has long been bowing because they have no great power to give their testimony.

No prayer and we run like a scared dog being pursued by an army of soldier ants. My friends, we read the words of the wise King Solomon and wonder how ashamed he would be to see the redeemed of God turning this next verse on its head.

Pro 28:1 – The righteous flee when no one pursues, but the wicked are bold as a lion.

No, no, a thousand times NO!!! The verse does not read that way. The Holy Scriptures say this:

The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.

However, the brutal, painful truth is this. If we have no prayer in our lives – if we have not taken to ourselves the WHOLE ARMOR of God – then we will flee when the world is not even taking time to pursue us. The wicked are bold as lions because they think that they can laugh at the God of heaven and His anointed.

His anointed is you and I, if your salvation is found by grace through faith alone in Christ alone. That means that He has called you and I to be holy ones. He has called us and preserved us by His Holy Spirit given as a down-payment against the inheritance that is to come in eternity.

Further, when we are His children, we are to pray, even when we do not know how to. Romans 8:26-28 says that He takes even the groanings of our heart before the Father AND intercedes on our behalf. When the Spirit is helping us in our weakness, there is no wrong prayer that we can offer to our heavenly Father.

Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Have we noticed that Romans 8:28 is not a standalone verse? It comes AFTER we begin to pray with the mind of the Spirit that we can then claim verse 28.

Why? Because those who love God will have all things work together for good.

Why? Because we are called according to His purpose. It is His way and His will that matters. Prayer is NOT about us and our wants and even our needs. It is about learning to pray in a way that matches the will of God on earth AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.

— To be continued —

The Original Revival Hymn

I found this video on a Christian brother’s website. Paul, thank you for posting this to your site. It is truly convicting and right in line with what I have been sharing on my posts about “Spiritual Vertigo.”