Over the past 15 years I have had the privilege of traveling coast to coast in America and in countless nations around the world. The more I travel the more I see a disturbing trend in the church at large….we’re playing into the enemy’s hand.
When one considers Satan’s strategy, one needs to be reminded that the devil is cunning, crafty and has a detailed plan that would fool even the elect, if it were possible, and I believe that may be the case. So, let’s understand that he does not come out with a blatant lie and ask you to believe it, but rather as one who is masterful in changing a black line to a gray line over many years of filtering, until we have forgotten the black line ever existed. He is the master of deception. If we could see it as false it wouldn’t be deception, would it? But if he can make us believe something is true when it is indeed a lie, he has won a major victory and many shall perish because of it.
There are several things that are calling my attention in this day of the supposed and presumed soon return of our Lord. Let me briefly share them for your consideration.
1. The absence of holiness being preached. Sin has always been something every believer has been forced to try and overcome in a pursuit of “Christlikeness.” However, today we are hard pressed to hear a message preached against it. I am a HUGE proponent of grace, and am a living testimony of God’s incredible forgiveness and favor in my own walk. But sin is still sin. Homosexuality is still an abomination in the eyes of the Lord. Adultery is still a terrible wrong in God’s value system. Greed and jealousy are still despicable to the Author of love. Sin has not changed and will not change. I do NOT fault people who are caught up in a besetting sin and are dealing with it in an effort to break its bondage. I do take issue when we get to the place where it is no longer looked at as a sin, but a shortcoming or lifestyle choice and God surely understands. No He does not. Sin - every sin, cost Jesus His life and we need to be stirred to live holy. Mind you we are ALL sinners and His saving grace is our only hope, but we are still called to repent and turn away from evil. The Bible is clear on that, as well as the identification of various sins. We must never compromise the constant of truth found in His word.
2. Contemporary Christian Worship. This is a hot button for me. I am no longer considered a young man as I turn 59 this year, and so I give space to the younger generation and their styles. But I cannot remember the last time I stood in a “contemporary worship” service and experienced the manifest presence of God. Moreover, I recently was in a retail store and the song playing in the background sounded so much like the music of a church I often attend in Dallas that I thought the store was playing Christian music. Nope! Why are young worship leaders writing songs that sound identical to the world? What happened to being called a “peculiar people” and imitating the sounds of heaven instead of this world? What happened to songs that had a melodic flow that were easy to sing during the week in one’s quiet time instead of songs with virtually no melody and so many words that you couldn’t remember them if your life depended on it? Point 2 of this section is this: Why are young composers writing songs in such a key that only they can reach the high tenor notes they are asking the electrician in the 4th row or the bank president in the back to sing when they are just average at best singers trying to get something out of a worship service? The default is this – since they cannot sing that high they have to drop the key down an octave where they have basically no power in their voice whatsoever, or choose not to sing at all – often the case. Could this be one of those unnoticeable slightly gray lines that Lucifer is using to remove the male authority in the house of God? Is the worship service for the players on the platform or the folks in the pew? Doesn’t Jesus want to hear the song of His entire bride instead of a handpicked few up front?
3. Hollywood Culture Shock. There are something like 5 or 6 Biblically themed movies to be released in 2014. I saw Noah and will bypass commenting on that since it is so far from the truth there's no point. I have not seen the current buzz flick of Christendom called Son of God. I may yet see it. I have however, read many articles on the substance of the movie and its makers. To those who are true believers it is apparently a fine piece of storytelling, not to mention the cinematic excellence. This is because we already KNOW Jesus. I'm certain out of love for our Savior Liz and I will laugh and cry as we watch the film. That's a given when you KNOW Him. To the unsuspecting non-Christian it could be a far different thing. For example, when John the Baptist sees Jesus walking toward him for the first time just before he baptizes Him, in scripture he makes perhaps the most powerful statement of the New Testament, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” From what I have read and heard, this statement is not included in the film. WHAT!? Are you kidding me? How could this possibly be left out of that scene? Could it be that directors Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, because of their Catholic foundations and New Age beliefs, did not want to portray Jesus as the substitute and propitiation for our sin? Notice how the movie gives the impression Jesus came to earth to “change the world” as He told Peter in the scene where they met. Of course, this was not the purpose of Christ coming to earth, but rather to die in our place so we could know eternal life. It happens again when during the last supper the directors left out the important words of the Son, “this is My blood, which is shed FOR YOU. “ This is so foundational to our faith, but it almost appears that Mark and Roma just want to portray their handsome and suave Jesus (Jesus was actually very UNhandsome and plain as designed by the Father) as the nicest guy you would ever want to meet who just wanted to make the world a better place. In reality, the Son came to divide, not unite. This is huge in making a decision to follow Him. I’m not sure the innocent non believer is going to pick up on that which leads me to believe that true salvation of the lost may not be a result of this film as so many of us originally hoped. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. One can never be genuinely saved without understanding and acknowledging this truth. It troubles me to see mega churches buying out entire theatres for this production as if all is well. Yes, the movie has value but we should not be exalting and championing these seemingly harmless people who have, for instance, also sought out mediums to contact the dead. That is not how a Christian lives, and I believe it has woven its way into their films. This is dangerous territory for the church.
So my friends, in this first blog of mine I hope I have at least given you food for thought about serving God in this day and age. We must be keen to the enemy – wise as serpents and harmless as doves. It may well get much darker before our Light returns for His bride. May He find all of our lamps full of oil and burning brightly. Our very souls may depend on it, not to mention those who yet need His light shared through our vessels. Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!