Whatever Happened to H#%l?

“The truth is still the truth, sin is still sin, Hell is still hot and the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, and the road narrow that leads to its gates”

king's invite

We’ve all been invited to a royal wedding. Yet, there are still those who think it no big deal nor worth preparing or being inconvenienced for.

The ever expanding culture of anything goes and every deviant behavior is normal and good that’s all around us has permeated the church and had a devastating effect on the Bride of Christ. Very few churches preach holiness any more. I mean, living a life that is different from the world around us, living by God’s standards regardless of what the world is telling us we must believe say and do. Just the fact that I have to explain holiness is a sad testimony.

Many of those who go to church, who want to get that invitation, that ticket to heaven, just want to get their assurances that they’re fine; ‘Jesus loves you no matter what so just do whatever.’

Sin is not confronted, Hell is not preached let alone believed in—If you’ve ever read through the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) you may have noticed that many of the stories Jesus told end up with people in outer darkness, weeping and gnashing ,and feeding the worms with their burning flesh—apparently Jesus believed in Hell!

Outer Darkness

Here’s the question we need to ask those who argue otherwise; “If there is no hell then why did Jesus pay such a heavy price to redeem us from it?” Why suffer rejection and humiliation, dying a bloody naked torturous death on the cross where a person basically suffocated to death after they became to weak to pull themselves up against the nails in their hands in order to take the pressure of their diaphragm in so they could inhale?

What could be so terrible that the Son of God himself would allow himself to be subjected to that horror in order to save us? Oh wait, I know—Hell. And then there’s the whole wrath of God being poured out in him thing as He who knew no sin became sin while he hung there in the darkness that struck the earth in the middle of the day as the creator was being destroyed, as the author of life was being killed.

And then Jesus asks us to take up our cross and follow him. What do you suppose that means? What did it mean to him? What did it mean to those who heard him? They all knew what a cross was; a cross was an instrument of death. We know what that means because Paul would tell us—we must crucify the flesh and it’s evil desires and live for the Spirit.

crucified the flesh

But that’s not a popular message is it? People want to be patted on the head, entertained and not made to feel like they have to change anything in their lives; ‘just show up, put a few dollars in the plate and bring your friends next week and we’ll promise we won’t offend them. We’ll only use scriptures about love and blessings, if we use any scripture at all, and we’ll make sure we have you out of here in time to make the playoff games. You have beer to drink after all.’

You can have it

You know what? If that’s what it takes to build a big church where I can have a full time salary and a staff that does all the tedious or messy work of ministry while I just write fun sermons and get all the acclamations—if that’s what it takes to have enough tithing members that I don’t have to work like a dog in the mud, the dirt, the cold or the heat all day every day, well, I’ll just keep my construction job for as long as this tired old body keeps moving.

And I’ll keep preaching truth to those who show up here serious about going to that wedding. Because if I am responsible for one person getting booted out of the feast because they showed up in their filthy clothes and had no good answer as to why, then I deserve to be cast out with them.

invited to the wedding

You can have it. I was made for this.

I don’t want your fancy suits and your retirement packages. I’d rather work shoulder to shoulder with someone who is desperate for truth and hope and doesn’t know where to begin looking because none of those people from the big fancy churches ever bothered to get to know them, listen to them and love them. They had to get ready for the next retreat where they could teach or hear about how God has a plan for them that no doubt includes abundant blessings.

I am here to make disciples, not converts. I am here to make soldiers for the Kingdom of Heaven, not camp followers. I’m here to turn barbarians loose who will now turn their passion for adventure and overcoming all obstacles into a passion to overcome the prince of darkness and take this world for the King of Kings unashamed and unapologetic. Pillaging the world for Jesus still wild eyed and fiercely determined behind shields of faith but now wielding the sword of the Spirit, no longer being deceived by the lusts of the flesh and the lies of the enemy that once drove us to self-destruction.

Eph 6 meme

And those of you who have stuck it out with me and lived and preached the word of God as best we can, as honestly and as completely as we can— well, you will be, you and all in the few churches scattered across this land where the truth is still the truth, sin is still sin, Hell is still hot and the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, and the road narrow that leads to its gates, we will be a part of a celebration like the universe has never seen nor ever will again and then we will commence to rule with Christ.

faithful over a few

Our day is coming

And our day here in this life is coming as well. Check that– our day is here!

God will use the faithful few of this generation to wake up his called, to prepare the way and to usher in the Kingdom once and for all.

14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.” -Jesus Christ Mat 22

Barbarians in the Kingdom

Barbarians ad copy axe

Holiness Embraced, Challenge Taken

“God is speaking to you about something, challenging you about something, calling you towards something…”

holiness.jpg

Nine years ago now I planted my church in Red Lodge MT. has it been easy? No, not by a long shot. Has it been worth it? Only God can answer that question but I truly believe it has. For one thing, out of this ministry-you are reading these words and I know God will use them to help accomplish his purpose in you.

I have been in a battle since I have been here for the very land, for the hearts and souls of Carbon County and all who come here seeking encouragement in their own battles. It is not a battle against flesh and blood. It is not a battle to be won by just doing good and being nice to people, it is a battle to be won in the heavenlies as our prayers affect the outcome of the battles we cannot see being waged all around us.

And each and every time a holy warrior acts in obedience to God’s word, to his Holy Spirit’s leading and with a heart devoted to God, another piece of ground is taken away from the enemy. Another seed is planted, another demon is bruised, another angel is strengthened and another heart is closer to being freed and healed.

We are warriors in a battle for the souls of humanity. It’s not about collecting brownie points from God like an obedient school child trying to earn extra credit so the teacher will let them go on the end of the year field trip. It’s not about avoiding judgement and scorn from God who is waiting to whack our knuckles with a ruler like an old time school teacher.

It’s about not giving the enemy a foothold in our hearts to discourage and accuse us and not putting up any barriers to the full power and blessing of our Father God so that we can go forth boldly and storm the gates of hell so that we can reclaim our neighbors and our families, our towns and our country.

Deacons.jpg

In 1 Timothy 3 we have a list of qualifications for servant leaders in the church. Being the person described in these two paragraphs isn’t about being able to say, “Well, look at me all you lowly sinners! I am somebody, kiss my ring and tremble in my presence for you are but worms compared to me.” It isn’t about being a stick in the mud who is not allowed to ever mess up or to have any fun; ‘squeaky clean and no caffeine, I have no emotions ‘cuase I’m a machine.’ It’s about being above reproach because you are doing your best and being honest about the rest.

novice.jpg

Because as soon as you start to think you are somebody, that you did it on your own and that God and those you serve are lucky to have you, you just fell into the devils trap. And nothing makes a more awful sound then one who was puffed up suddenly having all the air let out by the prick of the devils darts.

A servant of God who is worthy of honor is just that, a servant. A humble, obedient servant, who’s desire is to bless the one he serves and to be someone in whom others can see your King. You do that by being a person in whom they can see a heart of love. When they see that you love from a love that conquers all, a love that when received and believed removes all doubts and anxiety and leaves boldness in its wake, you are irrepressible.

boldness

Holiness is a heart issue, you either want it or you ignore its call. It is not earned it is embraced. When you embrace holiness, nothing can touch your soul—NOTHING and No one, can touch your soul.

And I’ll tell you what, that is worth more than diamonds or gold, fame or fortune. It is far better than the best Scotch whiskey or craft beer. Better than having anything or anyone your foolish heart may lust after and better than having all your dreams and desires fulfilled.

Because all else is empty if you are not in a relationship with Jesus Christ and little will bring you peace if it is not your heart’s desire to be holy, set apart to serve your God and your King.

All of you who are here know what I’m talking about or you wouldn’t be here. God is speaking to you about something, challenging you about something, calling you towards something, but you are holding back, listening to the wrong voices—the voices of discouragement. Well, you know who you need to listen to, the one who resides in your heart.

That is my calling, that is my mission, to get you to embrace yours. There are lives and eternal souls in the balance, It’s not just about you, despite what this culture of me, me, me, says.

Because the world is living a life of discouragement, despairing often times even of life itself. And the only thing that is going to give them any hope that there is more to this life then the struggle, is Jesus Christ. And they have to see in us that we believe that, that we know that, and that he gives us the strength and desire to live a life devoted to him. Not because we have to, but because we want to.

So, to further that goal of being a light to the world as a church family, to root out the glory seekers who want the prestige of position without the sacrifice of obedience, who want homage without accountability, to head up servants without being the head servant, we must pay attention to God’s words.

If you are listening to and heeding his word, striving for holiness and trusting him for grace where you fall short, you will hear Him call you, and when you do—say yes, ‘yes Lord I will follow you wherever you lead—I am done living in fear! I accept the challenge–give me strength!’

timidity.jpg

 God bless you warrior!

Find your freedom, release your inner barbarian

img_2941

The Battle Rages

There is more to this following Jesus business the just singing happy songs and hearing motivational speeches.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.   2 Cor 10:3

battle meme

The battle is real, we see it all around us, manifest in the physical realm as evil influences use the people of this world to affect the enemies single most desire, and that is to destroy all those whom God loves, to destroy his bride—the church.

Our challenge as the bride of Christ–those who have seen through the lies and looked into the eyes of truth, into the eyes of the Savior in our spirits, felt his love and know his grace, favor and forgiveness–is to remember who our enemy really is. 12 For (as Ephesians 6 says) we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 

Our enemy is not a troll on Facebook or a politician in Washington, they are only pawns and proxy’s being used by the enemy to distract us from seeing and engaging him.

The enemy is real, the battle is real, very real, and we can either ignore it and by default become victims, blown along by the winds and whims of those fighting those battles around us, or we can choose to be warriors, to be victorious, “that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (As Ephesians 6 also says)

But why? Why would we want to be actively engaged in this fight, I mean, can’t I just go to church, sing some songs, get prayed for and go home feeling good? Well, yes you can, but you are missing a big part of why you were radically saved, why you were given the gift of the Holy Spirit, why you were washed in the blood of the Lamb of God—so that you could pull down strongholds and cast down arguments.

Not just for you, but for those God loves—for those you love. If you are not concerned about tearing down strongholds—the things that ensnare, endanger and threaten to destroy others both physically, spiritually and emotionally, then perhaps you don’t really love them after all. And I don’t believe that. So if you are not engaged in the fight I can only believe it is because you do not recognize that the fight is real and that you really can make a difference. If you are not engaged in the fight, then you are simply a refugee—seeking cover while others fight the battles.

warrior victim meme

I have come to see more and more, especially in this past year of life and ministry, that if you are not offensively engaged in the battle, you are or will soon be, a victim. The enemy is not allowing anyone to just be a passive bystander anymore–nor is the Lord. The day of the Lord is at hand. Refugees must take a side and engaged or be cut down. I’m sorry if that’s not a feel good message but that’s truth and apathy is the enemy’s smoke screen.

Here are some clues; as to whether you are a warrior or a refugee. If you seek out prayer more than you offer it, constantly seeking healing but never offering healing prayers. If you criticize fellow servants of the Lord more than you encourage them. If you are always a disciple and never a disciple maker, taking and never giving, praying but never hearing. If you are always receiving words of prophecy and blessing but never offering them, in other words; if you are first— me, me, me—you will finish last because you are not engaged in the fight.

You are just a camp follower and you will always be in the rear—a refugee, where you are venerable to the enemies attackers and recruiters.

You may be a refugee who believes yourself superior to everyone else, above the fray—’you are just lucky to have me in your congregation—how are you going to bless me today? I’ve seen it all and heard it all so it better be good.’ —Excuse me, move to the back of the bus please, we are called to serve, not be served, and you are taking up valuable space.

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first. Mat 19:29—30

Are you offended yet? Good, that’s what an effective drill sergeant does, shoves people out of their comfort zones so they can grow stronger. Drill sergeants and prophets have a lot in common. They tell people things they don’t want to hear but in the end may save their lives and the lives of those around them.

Jesus didn’t save you, heal you and equip you to hang back, except to regroup or recharge now and then. There is no reason to live in the refugee camp fearful of the enemy breaching the wall and carrying off your stuff, Jesus wants you storming walls!

Yes, the battle involves sacrifice, sacrificing our own wants, our own comfort, putting others first, seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness—and discovering that when we put others first, when we trust that his ways are better than our ways, that if we so desire, that we really can make a difference. Strongholds will fall before us and all arguments that would exalt themselves above our God will be cast down—at our command.

Because we are Holy Warriors and the battle is real, but so are our weapons.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God.”

Be Holy Meme

God is calling us to be Holy, in him is our strength,–our victory!

Barbarians in the Kingdom

Barbarians ad copy axe

Daddy’s Girl

 

-Last week my daughter Jessie called me while I was working in Miles City and asked: “Do you feel like being real nice to me?” “What do you need? I asked. “Can I borrow your truck tomorrow? Mine is broke down and I need to go to Billings to babysit for Cally (Her sister) dadand it’s supposed to be really hot again and the air conditioner in the car is not working.”

What do you suppose I said? Yes, you can use my truck, just tell Mom, she knows where the keys are.

I was thinking about this later, how she asked: Do you feel like being real nice to me? I thought, I always feel like being nice to her, how could I not? She is my daughter and I love her, as I do all my girls. But she called me and asked, she explained why and because I know her well, I knew she would take care of it, respect it and appreciate it. She knows I will always want to help her but she respects and fosters that relationship by bring considerate enough to ask, without fear and without a snarky attitude of assumption.

Our Father is the same way— he always feels like being real nice to us but we don’t always make it easy. Sometime we just presume on his goodness, take advantage of and disrespect him. Our prayers are more like demands than requests and when we do get the truck we don’t appreciate it, “Yeah, whatever, can’t you get a newer truck for me to drive?”

God wants to bless you, to trust you, he just asks that we be holy, be repentant when we mess up and come to him for help and renewal.

As much as I love my daughters I never let them get away with being disrespectful to me or their mother or ungrateful for what they have and what they are given. That’s the way we raised them.

That’s the way your Father is trying to raise you. God loves you too much to let you get away with anything less than being the best you can be. But if he knows you are honestly trying, he will bless you.

My wife Donna told Jessie’s fiancé before they got married: “You’re marrying a girl who is used to getting what she wants.” She was referring to my reluctance to say no to her. Yet all of you who know her know that she is not spoiled, none of our girls were or are, just loved. Daddy’s girlswe can all be daddy’s girls or favored sons of the King, if we just strive to be in our Father’s will, to be disciples of the Christ.

Never fear to come into the holy of holies, be cleansed by the blood of the lamb, accept your place as a child of God, a child who now can come to the Father at will and receive your commission, discover the plan he has for you, not because you deserve it but because you said yes!  Yes, Lord, here am I -send me!

Reminds me of an amazing story in the book of Isiaiah

1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”

    4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

    5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

    6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”   

  8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”   Isaiah 6

Isaiah thought: “That’s it, I’m toast- I’m a dirty rotten sinner and I live amongst a bunch of dirty rotten sinners.”

I have to wonder what would have happened if he had not responded the way he did, if he had not been repentant. I don’t really know but I suspect he may have just had a great “Mountain top” experience with the Lord and then went on his merry way without the commission he received or at least without the anointing and the power and the holiness to complete it.

I think he would have lived, after all he was invited into the Lord’s presence, he didn’t just barge in.  But he did not presume upon the Lord’s grace.  He didn’t tell himself, “Wow, aren’t I cool, I get to hang with God for a while”.  This may sound preposterous but that is exactly what many of us do.

God is not just a casual buddy.  Jesus calls us friends but he is a friend who is worthy of respect and honor and a friend who has purchased our adoption into his Father’s family. It’s an acceptance in spite of us, one we can count on because of a blood covenant through Jesus Christ. As Paul would write; “You are not your own, you were bought with a price.”   (1 Cor 6)

God is our Father, not just another buddy, and our access to his throne was bought with a heavy price. We can rest knowing we will always have access but we cannot ever forget the price and get flippant about it.  If we do we will miss out, if we get too casual about our response to God we may even become hard and rebellious.  Your Daddy loves you, he just asks for respect- and he loves to hear your voice.

At the end of that phone call in Miles City I said to Jessie; “Love you, thanks for calling.” I then thought; that was weird, she called for a favor and I thanked her for calling? I then realized I just loved hearing her voice, and a thank you was a natural response, Daddy’s girl indeed.

Talk to your Father, without fear and with respect.

let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”  Heb 10:22