Sunday, February 23, 2014

The War Against the Saints!

  ( Note: I will get back to my series, "Building the Local Church"; I have a few things I need to speak first.)
   Do you realize what's going on? There is a passage in Revelation preachers don't like to talk about much, and I know I won't be very popular discussing it either. But God put it there for a reason, and we need to take a look.
And there was given him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue 42 months... and it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. Revelation 13: 5, 7
Lest you think that's a typo, consider Daniel 7:21 & 25:
I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;
And he shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
Well, that sucks! We lose??? Are they changing laws? yeah. Are they wearing us down? Yeah. How can this be? Why would God let that happen? Well, Jesus said He'd separate the sheep from the goats, and the weeds from the wheat. Pressure from the world will sift the Body of Christ, and drive out the posers.
   Since the end of WW2, movies, music, and tv have been "pushing the envelope" to bring down our moral standards. Public schools also teach & preach worldly ethics. Remember George Carlin's "7 Words ya Can't Say on TV"? We hear those words all the time now. Did you know there's a children's book titled, "Go the F**k to Sleep"? That's right, a children's book. And don't give me this line, "Media doesn't affect me". Of course it does.  The Devil uses music and comedy to get us to accept things we never would otherwise; it lowers our defenses.  We're under attack, folks.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Tribulation Survival Guide

   Through the centuries, Bible scholars have looked at Jesus's Olivet Discourse as a catalogue of the signs of the End Times. But Jesus also gives us a list of DO's and DON'T's for us to follow if we wish to survive the Tribulation. Since the 70's pre-Trib salesmen have been leading believers to think, "we don't have to worry about it, we're not going to be here", and Christ's message has been largely ignored.
   Now, however, the time has come to take a fresh look at the Olivet Discourse; not now as merely a timeline of events, but as a manual for surviving the reign of the Anti-Christ! Look around! The Mark of the Beast is at the door and persecution such as this country has never seen will take many by surprise. Remember 1999? How many people prepared for the  Y2K bug scenario? Did you? That wasn't real (and I told my audience nothing would happen---sometimes Matt does know what he's talking about), but the Tribulation is real: the Bible doesn't lie. We do need to prepare.
   So let's see what Jesus instructed us in His Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21) the Tribulation Survival Guide!
DON'T go with those who say, "He's here!" Hello, Jehovah's Witnesses, it's 100 years since your leaders told you Christ returned  "invisibly". Still falling for this one?
DON'T panic when you turn on the news and see prophecy fulfilled before your eyes.
DO take heed you don't get deceived; question everything & everyone...false Christs are out there.
DON'T plan what you'll say when they come for you. DO let the Holy Ghost do the talkin'.
DO be prepared to die. Settle your hearts now; when they're banging down your door, it's too late.
DO run, Forrest, run! DON'T go back to pack your stuff! DO pray you won't have to escape in winter.
DO look up; your redemption is near! Can you last 3 1/2 years?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Should Christians Fight? Part 2, The Case For

   This is a delicate topic, but one that must be addressed. Things are happening in our land: the Constitution is undermined; there is debate of military strikes upon U.S. citizens suspected of aiding terrorists--no trial, no Miranda rights, just summary execution. This is not sci-fi, or Conspiracy Theory whackoes; this is reality. The days approach when our rights and freedoms will dissappear. "Should we fight?" is a valid question.
   I have previously posted the case AGAINST. Let me state emphatically to my brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as to the NSA, ATF, FBI, CIA, and anyone else monitoring the internet (the BPRD, if there really is one?): I AM ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, UNEQUIVOCALLY, TOTALLY AGAINST VIOLENCE!!!  I have no criminal record, own no weapons; I don't even play Call of Duty. But to give this issue a fair hearing, I must present both sides as I see it in the Scriptures.
   I'm sure no one has objections to killing as a defensive measure;  if your spouse and children were in immediate danger, I'm sure you'd do what you had to in a heartbeat. But what about offensively?
   We all know Ecclesiastes 3:3 tells us there is a time to kill. David, "A man after God's own heart" killed not only the giant, but "tens of thousands" (1 Sam 29:5). Abraham, "the Friend of God", led an assaullt to recover Lot and other hostages from Chedorlaomer. There's Samson, Ehud, Barak, Gideon, Joshua, and many other Bible superstars known for their prowess in battle. Elijah supernaturally immolated 102 men, and physically executed 450 prophets of Baal.
   In modern times, sharpshooter Alvin York , who applied for CO status, struggled with the idea of killing until the Lord showed him "To give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar" includes military service. His exploits on the battlefield are public record. Sam Childers, "The Machine-Gun Preacher" took up arms against evil warlord KONY. I'm not about to judge him; I wasn't there.
I believe that as a RULE, we should NOT fight, but God occasionally raises up deliverers by a Sovereign act of His will. Psalm 149: 6-9 says all believers have the honor of striking down God's enemies, but I take this as meaning in the resurrection at the Battle of Armageddon. While we live, we need to be nice, and turn the other cheek. But after they kill me, they'd better watch out: I'M COMIN' BACK!

Should Christians Fight? Part 1: The Case Against

  The days near when the Mark of the Beast is the law of the land, and the Anti-Christ rules the world. Should Christians take action against an oppressive government? By "action", I mean, assassination, sabotage, and so forth: violent action. Is there ever a right time to take up arms? I will examine both sides from the Scriptures.
The Case Against
   Let me state emphatically, I am not a violent person, and do not advocate violence. I own no weapons, and have no training. But I believe there are two questions every believer needs to get serious with God about: A) What if I have to die? B) What if I have to kill? We are entering dangerous times---don't suppose you won't find yourself in such a position- now is the time to pray it through. I believe the Bible is clear.
  • "Be as harmless as doves"  Jesus says in Mathew 10:16
  • "Do violence to no man" John the Baptist told his followers, Luke 3:14
  • Live by the sword, you will die by the sword; Matthew 26:52 and Revelation 13:10
  • "IF My kingdom were of this world, THEN would My servants fight" Christ told Pilate, John 18:36
  • "Overcome evil with good" Paul taught his disciples, Romans 12:18-21, "live peacably"
  • "Turn the other cheek" from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:38-39
  • "Love your enemies, pray for them" Matthew 5:44
  • "We wrestle NOT against flesh & blood" affirms Paul in Ephesians 6:12
  • "The weapons of our warfare are NOT carnal", he adds in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4
  • Jesus rebuked His disciples who wanted to destroy cities that didn't welcome Him, Luke 9:55-56, "You know not what manner of spirit you are of", He told them.
  • When Peter struck Malchus with a sword, Jesus stopped him, and healed the man's wound; Luke 22:51, "Suffer ye thus far".
We are to follow Christ's example of non-voilence; He came to save lives, not to destroy. Luke 9:56 : )

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Building the Local Church- part 9

   We continue our course on building the church, based on the proposition we develop a church the same way God forms a baby in the womb: He begins with the most vital organs and works His way outward. Today we look at church leadership. 1 Corinthians 12:28 tells us, "God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues."  Goverments here refers to administrators of the church, including the Pastors, Elders, Deacons, Council, and whatever other officers involved in planning, policy-making, overseeing, organizing, training, and reporting.
   If the helpers assist the Pastor with the "small stuff",  administrators assist with the "big stuff". Keeping track of income, expenses, and savings is easier now thanks to accounting apps available, but having someone on staff with a head for finances is a huge plus! As we mentioned in our piece on helps, the Pastor's time should be devoted to study, prayer, counselling and ministry as much as possible. If he can delegate authority and responsibility, he can focus on spiritual matters.
The Jethro Plan
   The Book of Exodus (18:14-23) relates the story of how Moses' father-in-law, Jethro, observed Moses' huge caseload. Concerned about burn-out, Jethro advised Moses to appoint 70 deputies to handle the simpler cases. No one can do everything himself, and Moses heeded his father-in-law's counsel. Jesus Himself followed this model, and in addition to the Twelve Apostles, appointed 70 others also. Pastors, delegate authority to your elders and deacons.
   If you don't have one, you should establish a Church Council composed of faithful, stable, and wise members. If you have a multi-ethnic congregation, be sure to represent each group. More eyes (and more viewpoints) make better decisions. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Building the Local Church part 8

   Ministry of Helps
   A key part of any church is the ministry of helps. Never heard of it? Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:28,
" God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, goverments, diversities of tongues."
A picture of this ministry is given in Exodus 17:9-12, where Moses sits atop the hill while Joshua battles the enemy. As long as Moses holds his arms up, Israel wins; he lets them down, they lose. His arms are getting tired, so Aaron and Hur hold his arms up, and the battle is won! Your Pastor is like Moses- he's got a million things to do; he gets tired. The ministry of helps takes things off his hands, off his mind. The intercessors are like Aaron, holding him up spiritually in prayer; helps is like Hur, holding him up practically in tasks.
   In Acts 6, Peter and the Apostles ask the congregation to pick out seven faithful and trusted men to take over distribution of funds. He states, "It is not reason that we should leave the Word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word." (Acts 6:2-4)
   In order to free up the Pastor and leaders to spend more time in prayer, study, and ministry, we take over the "small stuff". The ministry of helps includes ushers & greeters, nursery workers, the cleaning crew, groundskeepers, sound techs, Communion  servers, fellowship servers, and others.[The Music Team we will cover later...I'll have plenty to say about them!]
   The helpers job is to be invisible: the only time they're noticed is when they don't do their job! Then people complain to Pastor the sanctuary is too hot, too cold, there are gum wrappers on the floor, babies are crying, teenagers are talking, there's no toilet paper in the Ladies' Room, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. He's not the Complaint Department; doesn't need angry folks taking up his day with complaints when there are so many who need his ministry. Keep them off his back! Give them nothing to complain about.
   Your Pastors, teachers, and Music Leaders need to be able to focus on God, hear His voice, follow His leading. The less they have to worry about, the better. The Ministry of Helps doesn't run the service, just helps it run smoothly. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Word of Hope

Several of us in this community, were discussing- --grieving- over the state of the Church. While I was preparing to leave for work, the Lord dropped a word in my heart. Let me share it with you. The passage is  from the 3rd chapter of Malachi, verses 15-18. It reads:
And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; they that tempt God are even delivered. Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spares his own son that serveth him.Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serves God and him that serveth not.
   I was amazed that this passage spoke so directly to exactly what we were talking about! The first part of this prophecy tells how wicked men would be established in positions of leadership (check!) Then, how believers who remained faithful to the Lord would establish contacts with each other (that's us-check!)
I had mentioned that real Christians might need a new password to identify themselves, as believers in the days of Nero used the fish sign. The Holy Spirit addresses that here also when He says we shall "discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serves God and him that serves Him not" There WILL be a way we can tell who's real and who's not! Awesome!
   Our sister, Lisa Haven,  posted an article on the main core, the gov't's list of "terror threats" like us. Check this out Sister, God has a list of His own! Glory! God's putting our names on His list of people He's going to SPARE! During the persecution and tribulation that's coming, the Lord will preserve, protect, and deliver His servants. Even if we are to be martyred, beheaded, He will "spare" us by giving us the grace to remain faithful to Him to the end! The Scripture says God will send out His angels to mark the people who are His servants, who grieve over the junk that's going on in the church (Ezekiel 9:4). Don't know exactly how that plays out, but I want God's mark, not the Beast's! Peace, and thanks for stopping by.

Welcome to the Apostasy!

   Every day a new shock, a new outrage. Church leaders compromising on sexual morality and the sanctity of marriage; churches embracing the "green" movement and holding Earth Day services; inspired by Whoopie Goldberg's Sister Act, they bring worldly, fleshly music into our worship services; affirming the Theory of Evolution and pooh-poohing the Biblical account of creation. What's going on???
   None of this should surprise us. Did not the Apostle Paul tell us, "...for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition." (2 Thessalonians 2:3). Well it's here. The Great Apostasy. It's like we woke up one morning and everything's upside down.
   You remember back after the September 11 attacks? Church "leaders" were falling all over themselves and couldn't get on the air fast enough to announce, "THIS IS NOT GOD'S JUDGEMENT ON THE U.S."
Thereby effectively wiping out any good that could have come out of the tragedy, namely the people of God crying out to the Lord according to 2 Chronicles 7:14.
   "No, Matt," you say, "Churches were opening their doors 24/7 for people to come in to pray." That's right, they were. "People" Any people. Churches allowed not only Christians, but Jews, Muslims, and anyone else to come in and pray. How very tolerant! Yes, Hindus could enter the sanctuary and invoke their pahtheon of gods;  Buddhists, animists, shamanists, Wiccans, all were welcome. Remember?
   So what's next? You've all heard about Detention Camps being set up around the country, though the average Joe doesn't believe it. Can't happen here. What did Jesus tell us?
   "They shall deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and yo shall be hated of all nations for My name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another...
And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." (Matthew 24:9, 10, 12)
   "Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for My name's sake; but he that shall endure to the end shall be saved" (Mark 13: 12-13) 
   "And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you they shall cause to be put to death." (Luke 21: 16) I'm not trying to scare you, just warn you. 'Cause Jesus has this habit of being right. "Trust no one" (Micah 7: 5-6) Get ready.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Pet Peeve?

   I have seen churches whose sanctuaries are adorned with banners with phrases and symbols associated with the faith. I have seen banners with a lion, a lamb, a dove, and such like. Does anyone out there remember the 2nd Commandment? Didn't God say not to make any image of anything to represent God? You say, "Matt, those aren't idols: they're just for decoration. Besides, doesn't the Bible itself use these symbols for Jesus and the Holy Spirit?"
   Yes, Jesus is called the LION of the Tribe of Judah, and John the Baptist called Him "the Lamb of God" Jesus was an innocent substitute for us on the cross, and He didn't resist when apprehended by the Sanhedrin and the Romans. In that sense, He is a "lamb"....but not literally. In the days of Joshua, each of the Twelve Tribes had its own flag and its own symbol, drawn from prophecies about the Patriarchs. Just like we have the Detroit Lions, Israel had the Judah Lions. ("Judah is a lion's whelp")
   Micheal Jordan isn't actually a bull, and Christ isn't really a lion. By way of allegory, C.S. Lewis represented Christ as a lion in The Chronicles of Narnia.  I feel we are getting into dangerous territory when we use such symbols to "decorate" our sanctuaries. Is the Holy Spirit a Dove? Fine, He appeared to John the Baptist in that form to identify Jesus as the Christ, and the disciples saw the appearance of flames on the day of Pentecost. But the Holy Spirit is as much a Person as the Father or the Son! He's NOT a bird!
   You say, "Matt, you're making too much of's harmless; we don't worship the images." Maybe. I have seen power point slide shows used in displaying the lyrics to worship songs, often accompanied by images of Jesus (as artists imagine Him). So, yeah, you are using an image during worship.
   Maybe you think I'm overreacting, But I fear we're getting close to the line, and may have already crossed it. All I can say is, pray and ask the Lord yourselves. Peace.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Building the Local Church -part 7

   As we go through this series, my operating principle is, that when God forms a baby in the womb, He doesn't start with long, curly hair and pretty white teeth, but with vital organs as brain, heart, liver, kidneys, and so on. He's not so concerned with what will make her pretty, but what will keep her alive. Building the church is the same- there are vital structures we need to make sure are in place so that the church can function properly-yes, and eventually grow. Thus far we've stressed the importance of intercessors and evangelists, as well as good Biblical teaching. "What about the worship team?" Oh, I'll get to them. Plenty to say about that: some of it you ain't gonna like!
   Remember, any church is only as strong as the relationships among her members. What good is a congregation of 500 members if no one knows anyone? And so to Pastors, Elders, Council Members, and whoever else makes the decisions in the church, I say, make every effort to foster fellowship. This won't take much time, money, or energy, but will greatly enrich and strengthen your flock.
   Acts chapter 2, verses 42-47 tells us the disciples continued in the apostles' doctrine and, among other things, breaking of bread. There is just something about sharing a meal together that bonds people together in a way nothing else does. It's in our nature. Just as it's important for you and your children to gather around the supper table at home, there is a need for believers to eat together at church! Simple! But effective.
   I recall back in the day my bro's and I would fill this humongous coffee urn with gallons of water and brew a huge pot of coffee each Friday night. (Praise God for K-Cups!) I tell you in all sincerity, one of the best investments you can make is a good coffee pot! Set aside an area of your church for post-service fellowship.
Doesn't the Word say to "greet one another with a holy kiss"? Most assemblies have a greeting time in the service: do it! It costs you nothing...merely five minutes right before you give the announcements, yeah?
   How about pot-luck (or pot-blessing) dinners? Sure, like every quarter. Costs: hardly anything. Gain: huge! FYI, guess who set up the very first Christian Retreat? 'Twas Jesus Himself...see Mark 6:30-32.
1 Peter 4:9 says to show hospitality to one another. Don't overlook this key element in building your church.