There is an account in the book of Galatians (Chapter 2: 11-14) where Paul publicly admonished Peter because he was removing himself from the message of grace and going back into law. So much so was Peter’s error that it almost divided the church to such a degree, that had Paul not traveled to Antioch at this most crucial time in the early churches history, the damage caused by one man could have set the church back years, even decades, if not generations. Even Barnabas was caught up in Peter’s theological mess. All because one man’s (Peter) error in judgment. How sad that now we are beginning to see something similar taking shape within the modern church, and like Peter, it has to do with bad theology, which, if not corrected, will cause untold spiritual harm to the current church world.
Paul makes it clear in his letter that at no time should we lay hands on anyone suddenly, as well, Paul makes it equally clear that we should ‘know’ those who labor among us. This should be the rule for all pastors or evangelists when dealing with someone who might not be either in the faith, or a recent convert. Which brings me to my thoughts on Greg Laurie allowing Mel Gibson the stage to discuss Hollywood films.
I am confused, even puzzled at this recent decision which would allow someone who has a public record of bad life choices be allowed a platform on a gospel stage to influence countless lives by someone who for the most part, has never shown one sample of good fruit of being born again (John 15:1-8). Yet Laurie not only welcomed Gibson on stage, he even supported and endorsed his latest movie (one by the way which glorified a Seventh Day Adventist). Truth is, (and this must be clearly understood) Pastor Laurie’s decision to bring the Hollywood star on stage before many in his crusade was his right, after all, it’s his ministry. Yet, the issue though is the message it sends to the church, not that Greg Laurie had the right to do so, but that his actions were one which if anything, lends confusion to others who might not fully understand the spiritual dilemma certain actions might bring. If Mel Gibson has not been truly saved, born again in Christ, and is simply doing a public relations photo op for the recently announced The Passion 2 – The Resurrection, then his presence at a evangelistic event where the gospel will be preached is one which was pure flesh, and worse, another example of how far the church is departing from the truth these days.
More and more these days I’m seeing ministries enticing, even joining up with secular people (actors, pop stars, musicians, politicians, athletes) all in a feeble attempt to garner relevance with the world, much less the church. Yet what is getting left out in this admiration for popular sinners these days is salt – in this case salt which would bring about conviction and not friendship. Jesus made it very clear in Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” (emphasis mine)
Notice what Jesus said? If the salt (the essence of the Holy Spirit and with power) is gone, either by lukewarmness or worse – blatant compromise with the world, then no longer are you able to bring the gospel to the lost, but worse, you will find yourself being cast out because of that very act of compromising the gospel for relevance. This is why the word says that friendship with the world…”You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.“( James 4:4)
But that is the state of the modern church today, accepting anything (or anyone) these days who desires to seek an audience to either influence the body of Christ, or gain from it, in this case the gain is money. Yet I suspect that in Greg Laurie’s case, his intention was…well..to be honest, I don’t know what his intentions were. Either way, only Greg knows why he has chosen to reject sound, biblical doctrine of not entangling himself with the world, and instead, allowing not only his people, but many a believer to be swayed by someone who has never shown to this day any fruit of being born again. That is the problem with the modern church as I see it. Being infatuated by Hollywood “saints” instead of calling the sinners to repent. All of this is yet another example of what’s occurring within the church today – compromise, for the sake of relevancy. Yet the only thing which is being compromised is the word, and when the church loses it saltiness, then we truly will have no ability, or stomach, to deal with the true darkness which is rising up around us, because we’re too busy sipping beers with the world’s famous players, while losing the game. God help us.
From my desk in China.
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“Thus says the LORD: “Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them,” (Jeremiah 10:2)
Contemplative Prayer is a prayer of silence, an experience of God’s presence as the ground in which our being is rooted, the Source from whom our life emerges at every moment…. Contemplative Prayer is the opening of mind and heart – our whole being – to God, the Ultimate Mystery, beyond thoughts, words and emotions. We open our awareness to God whom we know by faith is within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than choosing – closer than consciousness itself.
Contemplative prayer, in its simplest form, is prayer in which you still your thoughts and emotions and focus on God Himself. This puts you in a better state to be aware of God’s presence, and it makes you better able to hear God’s voice correcting, guiding, and directing you…. The fundamental idea is simply to enjoy the companionship of God, stilling your own thoughts so you can listen should God choose to speak. For this reason, contemplative prayer is sometimes referred to as ‘the prayer of silence.
Recently Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback church, tweeted the following as it regards to ‘breath prayer’:
When influential Christian leaders and popular figures such as Hillsong United, Lecrae, Ravi Zacharias among others, begin to shift their tone toward false doctrines and teachings, it sends a signal we’ve reached a point where scriptural ignorance has reached new lows in the modern church today. Such is the case of the upcoming ecumenical love-fest called “Together 2016”, in which and estimated 1 million people are planning to come together, Christians, Catholic’s and Mormons, among other faiths, all bent on laying aside doctrine, even sound doctrine, in the hopes of celebrating Christ. This is nothing more than the spirit of Antichrist at work, and the players involved are either willfully planning our spiritual demise, or they are just that stupid.
Either way, it saddens me to see so many so called “leaders” within the modern church today succumb to the spirit of compromise. But then again, that’s what the spirit of antichrist does, it blinds and seduces, till all who would listen to its dangerous lullaby finds itself asleep, like Samson in the lap of Delilah, only until they wake up and find the anointing gone, they realize but all too late just how deadly the melody was to their spiritual well being. But such is always the case with sleeping with the enemy.
Together 2016’s motto is, “Imagine if one million people put aside their differences and gathered together on one day, around one man: Jesus.” My response is simple: I’ll be damned if I ever join hands with the Roman Catholic church. Ephesians 5:11 sets our directive, and I don’t care if Frances Chan, Jeremy Camp, Kirk Franklin or any other liberal progressive Christian SELL OUT likes it or not. (list of whose attending) I blame this whole evangelical mess of embracing the Roman Catholic church on past leaders such as Billy Graham and TBN founder Paul Crouch for what they did – sell out the movement to embrace Rome for relevancy.
Friend, Rome is not our friend, it is our enemy, it’s a system bent on elevating Mary over Christ, works over grace, and the established church over the body. Say what you will, but I’m right on this, and to those who would try to force me and any other preacher to bow and kiss the ring of the Pope, as so many have done, will be a cold day in hell before that ever happens, and it speaks volumes to their error than my political incorrectness. I hope their 30 pieces of silver they are getting from Rome was worth it. For it will cost us all down the road. “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11) “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)
From my desk in China,
“But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” Galatians 5:15
Nothing grieves the Lord more than how his people treat one another, specifically, when his people slander one another, or mistreat each other, or gossip toward those whom have done nothing wrong. Yet more and more it seems, I continue to see a trend among the body where groups of people (Christians) not only bite one another, but routinely devour one another, all for the sake of self righteousness. This cannot be. This can be readily seen in the recent deaths of those servants who have died in the faith.
When Jan Crouch, co-founder of TBN passed away, the news sent shock waves throughout the body of Christ, saddened by the loss of one of their own, many were words of comfort to the family of Paul and Jan Crouch, yet something else began to spread, and that something was pure hatred. For at the moment that news spread of Jan Crouch’s death, the internet, in social media avenues such as Facebook and Twitter, were filled with vile and venomous hatred at the passing of someone who had been faithful to the calling God had instilled upon her and her husband to spread the gospel across the world. A spirit of maliciousness had reared its ugly head, and once again it was clear to all that the body of Christ is more fractured today than it ever was.
Yet this is the current spiritual state of the modern church of believers today, where we bite and devour anyone who is different than us, has a different calling than us, or has been used by God more than us. No longer do we offer a kind word to another servant, but criticism, envy, jealousy and resentment shape and form our words when we speak of someone within the church. Even when we might disagree on spiritual matters such as doctrine or methods, there is no genuine sign of love toward our brother or sister in Christ, and even in death, nothing comes more to this truth than the current slate of comments and statements over the death of a servant than one who, as flawed a vessel as they might be, is subject to such scorn. Yet it’s not just the dead in Christ who see such animosity, but the living as well.
It seems to some that if one does not abide by their particular idea of how ministry should be conducted, the immediate response is public ridicule and scorn. Yet we see this more and more by many who declare that what another believer is doing is not in line with their theology, and thus, is open to public rebuke, or worse, questions their salvation altogether. Think this is limited to our time and day now? Think again. Jesus had to deal with this even in his day.
In Luke chapter 9, we see something occur that Jesus had to quickly deal with and stop, the seeds of jealousy beginning to be planted in the hearts of several of his own disciples. An argument had begun within the group of 12 over who would be greatest among them, they had taken to heart (wrongly) the notion that they would reign and rule with Christ in heaven. They did not understand at that particular time what Jesus was referring to, as his kingdom was a kingdom of all men and women who would rule and reign with the Lord. Yet these same men who walked with the Lord, ate with the Lord, heard the words of Jesus, these same men called to be his disciples, began to position themselves as to who would be the greater of them and over them. No doubt this caused feelings of animosity and hurt among the twelve, as many were vying for power. Jesus would have none of it. This is why the Lord quickly saw what was going on within their hearts and minds, and began to teach them that the kingdom of God must be understood in the concept of the mind of a child. Humility, love and innocence were the attributes of a follower of Christ, not political maneuvering.
Still, this would not be the last Jesus would have to once again deal with bickering and backbiting (devouring) among his faithful 12. (Matthew 20:21) Yet 2,000 years later, the church is more divided, more resentful, more envious of others than ever before, and how we treat one another is exactly how we will be judged when we stand before God. Understand, it’s one thing to challenge false doctrines and/or those who might teach error, it’s quite another thing altogether to cast away those whom are in Christ for the sake of conformity. Yet more and more, many are biting and devouring others simply out of spite, jealousy and/or greed, and even to be right. This is wrong.
Paul outlined in 1 Corinthians 13 the characteristics of the fruit of the spirit, which is LOVE. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have no charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” (verse 1) If we have no love for one another, then can we truly say we belong to him who loves us? The word says otherwise. The word makes it clear that if we do not love our brother or sister, then we are not his at all, for how can we love God and follow Christ if we do not show that same love toward our own? Biting and devouring others might make our flesh and ego full and content, but it by no means is a type of fruit of the spirit, but in reality, it is a sign one has strayed from the cross. If we cannot love one another, following in the steps of Christ, then we cannot love the sinner who needs Christ. For if we are not capable of loving those who are his, how can we love those who are without him? We can’t.
I remind us all of the words of Paul in this matter of love, “Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; Love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up. Does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil. Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails: but whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” (verses 4-10)
Let us begin to love one another, not bite and devour one another, for then by this doing, shall the world know in whom we belong.
From my desk in China,
“And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead,” Revelation 13:16
Not long ago, I was approached by a man who stated that he and his wife were going to cease using their bank cards, debit cards and credit cards – including their social security cards. The reason? They believed that to do so was taking the ‘mark’ of the antichrist. The problem, as I tried to explain to the man’s error, was not that their thought was necessarily wrong, for a day is coming where there most certainly will be a genuine mark placed upon every human being in the distant future, the problem with his belief was it was misplaced. He and his wife were wrong in their estimation of what is the mark of the beast, and instead, were making life very difficult for themselves. It was bad wisdom on their part. Sadly, they are not the only ones who think like this.
For centuries, theologians have argued, debated, studied as to what exactly is the coming mark of the beast? What exactly could be this thing that has perplexed the church in such a way that we would know what to look for when it arrives? However you feel on this subject, we must at least address the topic carefully as to avoid unnecessary fears and worries when something different emerges on the world scene.
John warned of this coming mark, as well as the one who would yield it, so did Peter, as did Paul, the reason? They understood that in the final last days of humanity, where every evil known to man would arise, that one individual would claim global authority upon this world, and thereby yield his power, and his mark, upon the entirety of the human population. The Antichrist.
If the early men of faith warned us in their written words, should we not equally listen and glean from their warnings? Everywhere we look, we can see something is changing in our world, namely in the field of technology. How interesting that within only 140 years, we’ve went from the Bell’s photophone to the Iphone. It seems that the one major advancement, besides warfare, is in fact technology. It is technology which clearly is reaching at a far greater pace than man could ever imagine, but why? I believe the answer to that question is found in the word of God. Daniel the prophet stated it as such, “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” Daniel 12:4
To be clear, we are living in the information age. Whereas past ages were based on industrial periods of human invention, no longer are we inventing industry, instead we are inventing information, to be more precise – technology driven knowledge. This is where I believe Satan is lurking behind the scenes – in modern science. While I do not take away science of having beneficial means to humanity, such as the invention of vaccines, penicillin and other medical discoveries, past, present and future, there is no question something has changed within the scientific community to such a degree that one has to wonder what is in fact truly going on behind those closed doors of science.
From the discovery of genetic DNA strands, to the manipulation of genes (source), science is taking a giant leap forward into undiscovered arenas, and the only answer to this is clear, to change man’s overall need for God, and replace him with something else. It is this writer’s opinion that Satan has in fact become intermixed with science, and is thus leading certain discoveries that is being portrayed as scientific achievements, as nothing more demonic influence. We clearly see this has occurred once before in Genesis 6:1-4, when Satan schemed to pollute the bloodline of man by mingling it with the seed of fallen beings (angels). The result was a species which brought about the world’s first global day of judgment – the flood.
I remain convinced that there is a reason why technology and science has achieved what it has in these past mere 100 years, it’s because time is racing prophetically at such a fast pace, that Satan realizes his time is very short, and in turn, his reach into the many factions of man’s dominance can clearly be seen. Which leads us to the question, what specifically can we say is the mark of the beast?
While I will not make an attempt to state without reservation what that mark is 9we simply do not know), yet if we examine the word in detail, I believe we can deduce what it more than likely is, and if we examine the world of science and technology along with the evil heart of man, we can see, in my estimation, that the mark will be both physical as well as spiritual. Spiritual in the sense that it will do something to those whom take it. Causing not only a permanent mark upon the skin, it will signal complete judgment from God.
To be clear, there is the matter of receiving the mark itself we need to be aware of, one which God gives a very specific warning to those who receive it – even Christians. In the book of Revelation, chapter 14 and verse 9-10, John writes the words God gives him by stating the following, “Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.”
John makes the warning very clear, those who take the mark cannot inherit heaven, rather, they have sealed their eternal fate. So who can we rectify this verse with the verse in Matthew 12:31? Which states, “Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.” The context is clear, it is not the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit which condemns, it’s the act of unbelief which actually condemns. The unpardonable sin is the sin of rejection. It is when someone has reached a point where they no longer feel the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, so this answers the question some ask when they try to question is Revelation 14:9 and Matthew 12:31 in conflict? The answer is no, there is no conflict. The reason is very simple, to receive the mark is to demonstrate complete allegiance to Satan and the man of sin. This rejects God and Christ and the work of the cross, the end result is one cannot be afforded salvation because they have taken upon themselves the full weight of wickedness and evil, which is the mark of the beast himself.
So what is the mark? Let’s dispel what is not the mark:
It is not a microchip.
It is not a tattoo.
It is not an RFID chip.
It is not your debit card.
It is not your credit card.
It is not your social security card.
It is not the UPC symbol on the package of bread, or cereal you buy, or any other item bought or sold.
The mark of the beast, whatever it will take the form of, is just that – a mark. It is something which clearly indicates ownership. Vine defines the word mark as it is used in Revelation 13:16, 14:9-10 as; ‘denotes a stamp, impress, translated “mark”‘. It is a Greek word meaning stigma. This mark, brand or symbol will be placed upon the forehead or right hand to signify complete allegiance, submission and authority to lordship. Sound familiar?
When we who are in Christ, walk in Christ, we take upon ourselves his mark, not a mark that can be seen with natural eyes, but a mark by which signifies someone who has been purchased, in this case, a purchase by blood. We, who are in Christ, bear the mark of Christ in our heart. However, it is Satan’s plan, as it always has been to be like God, and I believe his mark he will impose upon the world will do what he could only slightly do in Genesis 6, to re-create man in his own image, through the use of science and technology.
Satan has always sought to counterfeit God to demonstrate his own pride at attempting to be like the most high God. It is this mark, which I believe would be impossible to be a simple marking upon the body, which will literally change man’s spiritual mind into serving one master – willingly. Thus the role of science and technology. It is no secret that man has been trying to master sickness and death. Today, science has attempted to create the perfect pill to stop hunger, lose weight, gain weight, grow hair, lose hair, have the perfect body. It also seeks to stop diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and every other sort of medical problem which has plagued man – even death. Man has desperately sought to do what only God can do, and I believe Satan will do in part what man can only dream of doing, and it will come at a price, the price of ones soul.
It is my opinion that the mark in Revelation 13:16 has a double meaning, as well as a double purpose. We see that more closely in verse 17 where the verse reads, “And that no man might buy or sell, save he who had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” It is obvious to the reader that the second part or meaning to the mark is an economic one. This would bring about complete control over those who take the mark. The mark is one that will be of both spiritual as well as economical. It will change the very method by which the world works and lives and thinks. It will cause men to abdicate his need for God, thereby re-creating a significant change in both appearance as well as mentality. In other words, this mark will not just be some ID card, or a tattoo, or some chip which can easily be thrown away or peeled off or erased. This mark will be one which, for those who take it, will be like the first Adam, having their eyes opened for the first time, where they will be given all of the secrets of the universe – but it will be a lie. That mark, whatever form it will take, will change the heart to such a degree that people not only will not want to repent, but they will have a evil mindset against God himself and Christ his son, not to mention those who serve him.
The truth is, the mark is something which will be given to this world from something outside our world. From another source. Remember, it comes from the beast himself, it is designed by the beast, promoted by the false prophet, and yielded by something not of this world. To suggest anything less would be foolish. This is the power of Satan which will be seen for all the world to see, for this being will have power over life and death, the elements, and eventually over the church. This is why to receive the mark is damning one to hell, ushering in the wrath of almighty God. This is why the mark is both a symbol of ownership, and one of slavery.
At some point in the future, our world will face its greatest challenge to date, and many will fall under this dark time which is yet to come. Yet this is why Jesus gave us a promise that we who endure to the end, the same shall be saved. Whatever the image the mark takes is insignificant to the greater purpose of the mark itself, which is to damn the soul to eternity. That is the ultimate plan by Satan, to destroy the lives of millions, even billions to an eternal hell, by simply taking the mark. One little mark that has a greater consequence than anything before it, and why the church needs to preach the gospel while it can, before our time comes to an end.