Category Archives: Grace

Turning the Tables and Kicking Butts

Not a terribly sanctified title, I suppose.  If this is a problem…well…get over it.

In the ancient Jewish culture, the seriousness of sacrifices was like a life or death matter. This was what people did to seek forgiveness or gain or keep God’s approval.  The thing was, there was not a Temple on every corner.  People had to travel to Jerusalem in order to exercise sacrificial rites, often traveling long distances.  Well, this is relative…we have cars, trains and planes, now…they traveled by foot or beast.  Long, dusty travel.

Since they had to travel, carrying animals for sacrifice was inconvenient, if not out of the question. So, it was acceptable to buy animals when they got into town. Some may wonder why Jesus would barge in there and start turning over tables and whipping to drive out sellers.  Here is a recount, from John 2…

13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15 Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!”

Let me repeat…this was an acceptable practice.  So, why would Jesus make such a production?

Price gouging.

Profiting from people’s desperation.

They were charging many times more than the animals would sell for otherwise.  If there were sellers elsewhere in town, prices were competitive.  But, at the temple, last minute, the prices were outrageous.

I have heard this taught with the focus on these guys selling stuff at the Temple, as Jesus exclaimed how it was to be a “house of prayer”, as He was “cleansing” the Temple of these profiteers who were selling on God’s property…that is, stuff should not be sold at all on Temple grounds.  This has also been the reason many churches won’t even have rummage sales to raise funds.

I don’t think this is the whole idea, though.  I believe He was protecting the people from being used by men wanting to make some fast money off of peoples’ desperation.  If we watch what Jesus was doing throughout His time, here, He often stood between the Pharisees (and other Jewish leaders) and the people.  In this case, the people were being taken advantage of in the name of what they would give to the Lord.

It’s not unlike when a lumberyard sells 25 dollar plywood for one hundred dollars, or more, or when fuel prices triple, just before or after a hurricane.

As I see it, we still have this problem.  Maybe you see it, too. People are being ripped of and taken advantage of in their quest to gain approval they don’t need, in the first place.  It comes with words…the convincing, manipulative words of men who, in many cases, profit greatly from the desperation of people.

Again…this is as I see it.  I am sharing my observations.

Tithing

Now, if you tithe, I ask, don’t fire back at me for this.  I am not asking you to agree with me…I am merely sharing what I have learned, in brief.

The popular Malachi passage was not addressed to the masses, but to the priests.  This was speaking about produce, not money and it went into a storehouse for distribution, not the synagogue for support of it or the Temple. Also, the idea of the local church mystically becoming a storehouse is unfounded.

Prosperity Teachings

Another way are the prosperity teachings.  This is a boldly indecent doctrine, raking in mass amounts of money with the lie of a promise that the giver will be “blessed”.  Some congregations have an attendee base made up of many financially struggling people who gladly give with the idea that God will raise them from their humble circumstances. However, the only ones making a fortune are the ones teaching these counterfeit messages.  The message appeals to greed, desperation and peoples’ desire to please God (by tithing/giving).  A few even give their last bit of money for nothing, because they want to find favor with God.

Where the money goes

In the US, seventy percent of the average church budget goes for buildings and salaries. Not feeding people in need, not clothing for the poor, not missions, not housing…that stuff all squeezes out somewhere among the remaining 30 percent.

Meanwhile, pastors are made into professionals and paid executive salaries in many cases, and buildings are made to be inviting and comfortable if not luxurious.  Somehow, this does not add up to what we can read about being witnesses, serving or being a pastor/elder…or even the “Great Commission”.

Manipulating the desperate ones.

It’s not always about money.

The invitation to go to Heaven or the threat of Hell after a long message appealing to peoples’ emotions, is a manipulative tactic to convince people to make an altar call. These altar calls often breed emotional responses and are the least effective way to lead people to the Lord, anyway.  But, those who do this are happy as they watch the droves come down the aisles and proclaim the numbers of those  who “came forward”.

There is also the threat of God’s disapproval over stuff deemed wrong as another manipulative tactic to keep members in line.  I have heard people…pastors from the pulpit, too…say how God can be disappointed in someone.  Wow…where did they get that idea?  What part of the Bible did God ever say, “I am so disappointed in you.”?

It comes down to Law.

If it isn’t bad enough for people to lean on the Law, they make Law out of things that really have no scriptural support, whatsoever.  What makes matters worse, the people who deliver that garbage are famous, sought after teachers, who are educated and have studied the Bible quite thoroughly.  However, one would think that they never studied the ministry and words of Jesus, Himself.

Have we forgotten about Jesus?

It just seems that simple.  Many of us claim, “The Bible plainly says…”, or, “It is clear in scripture…”, yet totally miss the simple and obvious accounts of Jesus’ ministry.  Of all the claims and declarations we can make, we seem to overlook Who we claim to serve.

Let’s get back to Jesus. Who He is. What He said and how He treated people while He was among men.  With that, we will see the old doctrines we have been following and pushing are not all they are cracked up to be.

For that matter, many of these old dogmas are just plain cracked.

Back to the Beginning.

It has always been about Jesus.  From the beginning, through the middle, now and on to Eternity.  Follow Him.  When we do that, we will begin to see how to live, serve and love His people and Him, as He has first loved us.

 

 

 

Advertisements
Tagged , , ,

Do Not Support PBA

My wife watches our youngest granddaughter 4 days a week.  The little one is 10 months old and enjoys watching Mother Goose Club.

Over. And over. And over, again.

What the heck, she’s adorable and it is all about her, anyway.

What does this have to do with this “PBA” mentioned in the title?

I will tell you with the story of the Three Little Kittens.  Hearing the several renditions of this old nursery rhyme made both me and my wife consider something about the story.

You know these kittens…the ones who lost their mittens.  The story has to do with PBA. What is this “PBA”?  I will get to that.  Now, let’s remind ourselves of the old story.

Basics of Three Little Kittens

It goes like this…they lost their mittens, mother calls them ‘naughty kittens’ and they are notthreekittens allowed any pie.  I am not sure what kind of pie…looked like some kind of fruit, to me. My cats don’t care for fruit. As for mittens – cats have no thumbs. Maybe they were really baby tube socks.

I digress.

Then, the little kittens find their mittens and their very pleased mother gives them pie. Problem here, is, they wore the mittens while eating the pie.  They, thus, soiled said mittens, which rendered them as ‘naughty kittens’, once again.

Can’t threaten them with no pie…too late for that.

This has a big problem, though…Mom served them the pie. Did she not notice the mittens?  Well, whatever.

The little creeps decided they would wash their mittens.  This pleased Mother Dear, once again.  With that, she noted she smelled a rat nearby.  Okay, now kids.  Don’t wear your mittens while mauling that rat.  It will only start all over again.

By this point, you are wondering what this PBA is all about.  Enough with these ignorant kittens.

PBA is Performance Based Approval.  

Often, people are approved or disapproved based on their performance.  Performance Based Approval is a serious issue within the Church.  How we act, what we say, what we do or don’t do, what we wear, how we talk, etc., etc.  There is more about pleasing others than there is in knowing that the Father is pleased with us.

The Father always approves of us.  While I am pretty sure He is not so thrilled when we act contrary to His design or desire for us, He approves of us.

Parents…don’t you approve of your kids?  Sure, they can be loud, disobedient, wall-coloring, sass-mouthed, fight-picking, booger-eating vermin.  But, really…you totally approve of them.  Not the booger part, just them.  How much more does the Father approve of all of us?

In the Church, people are graded.  How much they serve, what they do, how loudly they praise or how often they raise hands during worship.  How we conduct ourselves determines whether we can head up a ministry or even serve in one, or in some churches, where we get to sit.  Sure, there are things that we need to be wise about concerning certain issues.  But, too many are put into some sort of confines of man-made rules.

Look who Jesus chose as His twelve.  Judas was overly concerned about money, Peter was headstrong and had issues with Gentiles, James and John wanted to one-up each other and there was certainly a good share of argumentative questioning and doubt to go around.  Jesus also ministered to countless people who had nothing to do with Him after they were healed, taught or fed.

He approved of every single one.

Really?  Yes, He did.

Maybe we just need to get over ourselves or get off of our high horses.

God’s approval is not based on our performance.  Why do we demand certain performance in order to approve of anyone?

What this breeds, most often, is behavior modification.  People will act and talk in certain ways around their fellow Christians, whom they want to be approved by.  They can’t be themselves, they can’t have a bad day, they can’t have a hole in their jeans which are frowned upon for wearing in the first place.  They have to sing with a certain amount of apparent excitement, talk like life is one big victory, be sure to give tithes and offerings, have near perfect children, perfect hair and never be late to service.

All to win approval.

No.  This is too much pressure for people.

Love and grace have no performance demands for approval.  Say “No!”, to Performance Based Approval.

In this case, I do not support PBA.

 

One Warm Day

She looked out on the street and could feel the heat of the early afternoon sun as it poured through the window.  It was time to go get water.  The other women were back from the well.  She felt comfortable making the trip, in spite of the heat.

She didn’t mind the other women, really.  She didn’t dislike any of them.  It was just the comments since the last divorce.  Most of the comments were meant well…

“Oh, its a shame things went so badly for you, dear.”

“You know, if you had just made better choices…”

Then there were those that cut a little deeper…

“How many more men before you settle down.”

“What man would want a woman like that?”

Enough was enough.  It was better to endure the heat of the day, rather than put up with all the comments, whether direct or indirect.  Sometimes, there were looks, too.  She felt bad enough over her situation without the comments, even if some were meant with good intentions.

waterjarOff she went, jars ready to be filled.  It was about a mile, or so, up to the well her family had drawn from for generations.  As she walked, her mind wandered from one thought to another, as happens with any of us as we walk alone.  She pondered her life, she thought of the good friends she had, she wondered if God really cared for her and even wondered if those old jars would last just one more trip.

When she got to the well, she set down her jars, removed the cover and lowered the pail to dip for her first load of water.  As she raised the pail, she noticed someone walking in her direction.  At first, she didn’t think much of it…probably just another man coming to demand water. But, as the man drew closer, she noticed something different.

He dressed differently.  “Oh, no!  He’s a rabbi!  A Jew!  I have to hurry up and get out of here.  They hate Samaritans.”, she anxiously thought.

She began to hastily lower the pail to get the next scoop of water.  “He’s getting closer.  I’d better hurry.” But, no sooner could she formulate that thought, he was even closer.  He was close enough to talk to her…

“May I have some water, too?”, he asked.

He asked?  She thought. Usually, if a Jew lowers himself enough to say anything to a Samaritan, much less a woman, he snaps an order as if he were talking to a dog.  The fact that this rabbi is even in Samaria is unusual in itself.

With a suspicious tone while folding her arms in a guarded fashion, she answered him. “You are a Jew.  I am Samaritan.  We have nothing to do with each other.  Why are you asking me for a drink?”

He smiled, a warm, friendly smile.  It was the kind of smile a father would have looking at his beloved children.  She had no idea what to think of this guy.

He answered her, “You don’t know what God wants to give you, and you don’t know who is asking you for a drink. If you did, you would ask me for the water that gives life.”

She looked at him with suspicious, squinting eyes.  But, she had a reply.   “Sir, you don’t even have a bucket, and the well is deep. Where are you going to get this life-giving water? Our ancestor Jacob dug this well for us, and his family and animals got water from it. Are you greater than Jacob?”

She had no idea if this man was for real or just another mean-spirited Jewish leader about to give her a hard time.  Was he setting her up for a big put down?  He had more to say.

“Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again.  But no one who drinks the water I give will ever be thirsty again. The water I give is like a flowing fountain that gives eternal life.”

Eternal life?  This intrigued her. She used her sleeve to wipe some sweat from her face as she pondered her next statement.  She brightened up a bit and told Him, ““Sir, please give me a drink of that water! Then I won’t get thirsty and have to come to this well again.”

The man smiled a warm, understanding smile.  He looked at her and gently asked her to go get her husband.

Oh, great.

This was a topic that did not sit well with her.  She hated explaining her situation. She especially hated the derisive remarks and judgmental statements.  So, rather than admit anything, she simply said, “I don’t have a husband.”

She figured she dodged that one.  No giving excuses.  No explaining the previous marriages.  But, this man was special…he seemed to know things.  He told her something a stranger would not know.

“You’re telling the truth. You don’t have a husband. You have already been married five times, and the man you are now living with isn’t your husband.”

Her mind went racing.  How did he know that?   Did someone tell him about me?  But, he seems to know.  Let’s see if he is the real deal.

She stood straight up and spoke confidently.  “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.  My ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews say Jerusalem is the only place to worship.”

She figured he would just give another pat answer about Jerusalem, as she would expect a rabbi to give.  His answer was not what she expected.

“A time is coming, and it is already here! Even now the true worshipers are being led by the Spirit to worship the Father according to the truth. These are the ones the Father is seeking to worship him.  God is Spirit, and those who worship God must be led by the Spirit to worship him according to the truth.”

She was impressed, to say the least.  But, a little discouraged at the same time.  Like so many, she desired to see a savior.  She wanted to know the Messiah, because she knew the Messiah would have all the answers.  Then, she told the man, “When Messiah comes, He will let us know all things.”

He looked her directly in the eye and told her something that turned her life upside down.

“I am that one, and I am speaking to you now.”

At first, she couldn’t formulate any words.  She just stared at him for a few moments. Then, her eyes got wide and she began to get excited.

“Wait…what?  You?  Really?  Well, yes!  Yes, I think it is you!  Who else would know know what you know?  It’s you!  It’s really you!  I gotta tell somebody!  I gotta tell everybody! You’re Him!  He’s you!  Stay here…I’ll be back.  Don’t move!  They have to meet you.  They all have to meet you!  Let me grab my water jars…oh, heck…they’ll wait.  I will be right back!”

Off she ran, back to the village to gather as many people as she could.  She told everyone she could, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! Could he be the Messiah?”

Yes, dear woman.  He is.  As a matter of fact, you don’t know this, but He told His disciples that He had to go to Samaria.  Apparently, He had an appointment…with you. He had an appointment with your people, too.  You just saw love in a Person.

Love in a Person.

Jesus.

As His followers, we should show that same love.  The story of the Woman at the Well is one of the prime examples of how to treat a stranger, a sinner and a woman.  Jesus did not go to her with any more agenda than to introduce Himself to her and her people.

 

Tagged , ,

Surviving a Weird Life

Too many people grow up in adverse circumstances – poverty, abuse, broken homes, drug and alcohol abuse, and neglect to name a few.  Growing up in these circumstances can produce a variety of issues in the victims, that without proper intervention may have the possibility of turning into life-long problems.  The very least that occurs are memories that leaves one guarded and wary in certain situations.

homesweethomeMy upbringing started out fairly normal.  Mom, Dad, brother, sister, decent house in a wooded setting in a nice Essex County, New Jersey suburb.  But, things began to change.

By the time I was just short of turning eleven, my father had a massive stroke that rendered him unable to care for himself at all, keeping him in nursing homes for the rest of his life (25 years). This left our mother with the task of taking on the entire household herself, besides minding us kids.  There was one serious problem, though.

She was an alcoholic.

Looking back, our mother always had a drinking problem.  But, after our father was taken out of the picture, she became reliant on the bottle to get her through life.  This led to some pretty weird times, some even a bit terrifying.

Public embarrassment could pop up any time.  We often ate out and Mom would have her share of alcohol with dinner.  One time, my brother and I had to walk her out of a restaurant, as she could not steadily walk on her own.  We were not old enough to drive, so that made the ride home rather interesting, too.

One night, she decided we should all go to see a movie at the drive-in.  Being an alcoholic, she perpetually had alcohol running in her system, so even an evening at a movie was not without its events.

The one thing with some people who drink throughout the day is that they can appear sober for much of the day and suddenly go into a stupor, becoming irrational and unwise. This is the way it was for my mother.  My mother would suddenly get slurred in her speech and seemingly out of touch with present reality.

At a drive-in (old days of movie watching from a car), after being there for a bit, she had to go to the bathroom.  But, she decided that she did not want to walk the distance to use the bathroom provided.  So, she simply got out of the car and quietly squatted in a darker area between cars.  I have no idea if anyone saw her or not – I was staying low in the back seat.

I remember one night at a restaurant, I excused myself to the men’s room.  Upon returning, I saw my mother slouching down in her seat, drooling.  I turned around and went back to the men’s room and fought back tears of shear embarrassment.

Another restaurant adventure, she had two double dry martini’s and about two helpings of wine.  The ride home was terrifying, as we dodged oncoming traffic and just about every telephone pole.  Once we turned into the end of our road, she was heading toward the front of a house…I yelled at her and she veered off, crossing the road and took us into a well established oak tree.  We hit on my side. Ouch. Fortunately, it did not make my mug any worse.

For a while, being a passenger was not tops on my “fun things to do” list.  Even to this day, while I really don’t mind others’ driving, I would rather be at the wheel.

I was thirteen, at that time.  Life was weird enough just being that age.  Having to deal with public embarrassments was no thrill.  Of course, life at home was filled with many a loud argument between me and my mother.

That summer of the car wreck was also when her health began to decline.  She began to have leg pain, which is not uncommon for people whose main diet is alcohol. By early that October, she got pretty sick and called the doctor.  These were some of the last days of house calls, so he came over to see her.

After examining her, he came outside, where I was, took me aside and asked me a few questions concerning her drinking habits – how much, how often, etc.  He asked me.  I did say I was 13…right? I answered the best I could.  Looking back, it seems pretty weird that I was the one to ask about these things.  But, I guess I was the closest thing to an adult in the house (my sister is eight years younger and my brother, being deaf, was in a boarding school during the week).

Medication was prescribed for her and she was off the alcohol.  However, the DT’s (Delirium Tremens) were in full swing and the medication basically kept them at bay.  My grandmother (her mother) would be with her during the day and helped clean our disaster of a house and I had the night shift.  It continues to be weird.

If she had to go to the bathroom, I had to help her in as she was unsteady on her feet. That is more than enough for a thirteen year-old boy to go through.  But, every once in a while, she would have an hallucination.  No fun there, either.

She was ultimately admitted into the hospital.  She had cirrhosis of the liver and really should not have been home, at all.  What us kids did not know was how severe this was and our grandparents…her parents…kept encouraging the idea of “when she gets better…”.  She didn’t.

Back in 1975, liver transplants were still experimental, so that wasn’t even a thought.  In her state, the disease was fatal.  She died later that October.

It was the end of a very stressful, weird and surreal two and a half years.

It was even weird at her funeral.  It is not as if we had a great relationship, but she was still my Mom.  At the funeral, it was like I would start to cry and nothing would come out.  It was also surreal, to see a coffin, knowing there was a lifeless shell of someone I was talking to only a week or so before.

~There are so many more details, but I was not about to exhaust too much of one post on this.  I apologize for any apparent gaps.~

I learned a year later that God makes all things work together for the good.  For some reason, I took that to heart, just about right away.

I could see how events lined up – I lived with my paternal grandmother from about a year after my mother died, who took me to church, where I heard why Jesus died and how He wanted to be part of my life and share His with me.  A few years later, I would join the Navy, which would bring me to Virginia, where I met my wife.  Not only has she been the most solid relationship I ever had, but we had those four great kids (and now, adorable grandkids!).

I will likely never know the whole picture.  I don’t really need to.  I simply need to trust the Lord.

“Though He slay me, I will trust in Him” – Job

“Though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will not fear evil, because You are with me.” – King David

Many of us have or have had a weird life.  A hard life.  Maybe even a sad life. Perhaps a violent life.

We don’t understand.  We hurt and we cry, we yell and complain, we fight and struggle. We press on, maybe walking, maybe crawling.  We see light at the end of the tunnel, wishing it not to be an oncoming train.  Yet, there is something that always rings true.

The Father is no less loving.  He is no less God.

I survived a weird life.  Some might say it was sad, or tragic.  But, as the years have gone on, I have been overcoming the effects of what went on back then (still a work in progress).

There is a difference between surviving and overcoming.  One gets you through, the other puts you in the victor’s seat.

 

Tagged , , , , ,

If You Aren’t Reading This Blog, You are Missing Out.

I have some history with anxiety and depression. But, they haven’t just affected me – I’ve learned to detect them behind pained smiles, hurting eyes and in surface conversations. But, before we go any further, let me first make one thing clear: if you suffer from anxiety or depression, this is NOT another Christian blog […]

via 4 Reasons Christians are Depressed — just a jesus follower

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Others, Before Me…Part 2

Someone once called me a “kind man” because I handled a vendor (who had made a mistake) without raising my voice or berating him. I was being nice, but I think that being kind has just a bit more to it than being nice.  Anyone can be nice – some can even pull of a facade of niceness in order to manipulate others.  To be kind, however, takes real action and that would derive from goodwill.

Being nice is just a matter of pleasantness, gentle speech, gentle behavior and such. Anyone can be nice or even fake niceness.

To be kind, as per Greek defining, is full of service to others.

loveiskind 

Paul’s #2 hit in the ubiquitous love chapter is that love is kind.

This is more than just a nice thing.  This is action.  Love in action.

Love is action.

I love that definition…full of service to others.

Service.  To.  Others.helpinghand

Jesus told the questioning Pharisees that of all the Laws, the greatest included loving our neighbors.  Then, His New Commandment was to love one another.

Others.  Our neighbors (people, at large) and one another (fellow believers).

Love. Is.  Kind.

Action.  Serving others.

Serving.  It is not about self.

Jesus was quoted in Matthew and Mark, “The son of man did not come to be served, but to serve…”.  Jesus was totally kind.  He fed, He healed, He taught – He even washed the nasty feet of all those guys.  He never had prerequisites or conditions, except to be present and willing to receive.

Today, we hear of “random acts of kindness”.  I believe that, in the economy of love, kindness is active and it should be specific and deliberate.  No offense to the aforementioned statement, but I just think we should be more deliberate and targeted when it comes to serving others.

We live in a lost and hurting world.  Sure, you are now thinking, “Thank you, Capt. Obvious.”.  But, the best way to reach people is by actively serving them.  And, we should do it strictly to bless them…not just to “win them over”.

Kindness is a major outward expression of love.  In its true form, it does not come with an agenda, does not have any requirements of the receivers either before or after serving them and should be done without compulsion.  It is to be done from the heart and without condition.

Mother Theresa was kind.  That guy waiting in line who pays for the struggling mother’s groceries is kind. Feeding the homeless…kindness.  Lending a confident ear…kindness. Free tutoring for a less privileged kid…this is kind.

Love is kind.

Yet another item orbiting around the nucleus of love.

 

 

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

The Worldly Church

“There’s a stylized, bastardized Christianity that many politicians and celebrity pastors have peddled for years; one that has slowly but surely become our American template. It’s a bloated, opulent, consumerist, aggressive, nationalistic, might is right amalgam that really doesn’t resemble Jesus much at all.” – John Pavlovitz (johnpavlovitz.com)

In the quest to be what actually results in the above description, church leadership has stooped to tactics which include lying, manipulating and over-sensationalizing.  They have misinterpreted scripture and misrepresented the Gospel. They either don’t see it, or don’t care, since they often get what they want.

If you have to lie, manipulate or over-sensationalize in order to prove what you say is right or true, then you have nothing to stand on.  Besides, this is how the world works, not how things get done in God’s Kingdom.

But, there is an audience.  A flock.  A band of followers.moneypreacher

They listen.  They cheer.  They give money.

Nickles and noses.  A faithful audience that hands over money.

They make it all sound so good and specific scriptures (often out of context or ‘clobber’ verses) are used and then, they place Jesus’ Name on it and it is all accepted as right and true.

Not all churches or ministries are like this.  But, way too many in the US are. They could be a small congregation of 30 or a massive mega-church. Tactics are used to hold those people there, control/manipulate them and make sure they give money.

Rather than being “transformed by the renewing of the mind”, it is a system which would act in a manner reflecting the world system of kings and superstars…that is, being “conformed to this world”. To use manipulating tactics to attract and keep people is the world system way.  To do all of this for big money is greedy and selfish.  To aspire for worldly treasures…massive salaries, huge and opulent buildings, power, notoriety and huge followings are all earthly treasures, even if they are dressed up as “Kingdom building”.

2 Timothy 3 New International Version (NIV) 

3 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive,disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds,who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.~

This has been taught as being about general sin and the “unsaved”.  But, if we take a closer look, it is about the Church.  Key..verse 5, “…having a form of godliness…”  Another key, verse 7, “…always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth”, and “…these teachers oppose the truth”.  That last one has my attention.

I am amazed how anyone who calls themselves a teacher or a preacher would dare oppose the truth.  They appear to speak the truth, but much of what they spread has little to no truth.  Then, if confronted with what is correct and true in scripture, they deny it.  They are convinced they have all the “proof” they need for what they believe and teach.  This is what makes them, basically, dangerous.  This is why we read in verse 5, “Have nothing to do with these people”.  They draw people in, drag them down and take their money.  They do this, all the while believing they are serving the Lord.

Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV)

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!~

This is not just about the people who are “traditional Christians” or pastors by career only, nor is it about the ritualistic religious. An example of the subject of this verse in plain view, right on the television. Yes, the beloved “televangelist”.  Not all people of this ilk are on TV, but these guys are the epitome of what we see in this verse.  They often use false prophecies, sensational End-Time Eschatology topics, as well as, rhetoric and “clobber scriptures” to take their stands against abortion and homosexuality.  They use fear tactics to sway people to the altar and shaming tactics to convince people toward certain behaviors.

controlcartoonThe result is followers, which brings power and, often, massive amounts of money, which further feeds the power.  Meanwhile, they are convinced they are doing the will of God, pointing out that they are doing His will.  Often, however, their speech and actions show some things that are not Christ-like, at all.

They use Jesus’ name as a rubber stamp that they have permission to use on whatever they feel should be God’s will.  They stamp it on the opulent buildings, the huge salaries, the judgmental statements and messages and even the false prophecies.  If they want a specific candidate for office, they put Jesus’ name on that, too.  If they want people to behave a certain way, His name (and a good deal of shaming) is spoken.

By the way…using Jesus’ name to garner favor or to persuade God or people is using His name in vain.  I believe the Commandments these guys blast at people has something in there about that.

There is a faction of the Church, I believe, which will rise up.  They will not rise up in power or come with convincing words.  They will not seek to build huge ministries or massive buildings.  Their goal will not include having a title, a following, a huge salary or a lavish lifestyle.  They will bring one thing.

The Gospel.  The Good News.

Their lives will reflect what we read about Jesus in His Earthly ministry.

Love will be the nucleus of what they say and do.

They will seek to be the Jesus people need.

They will expose truth to and about these modern day Pharisees.

They should be all of us.

We need to be Jesus to a lost and hurting world.

Love should be our nucleus.

As it should be.

As we walk together.

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged , , , , , ,