The following articles are intended to help the Church view possible changes that align with scripture, versus popularity or human nature.
Why the House of God is Dysfunctional and Desolate
Hiding Behind the Local Church
Clergy in the Hands of an Angry God
Natural Disasters May be Nature Responding to God’s Voice
Everything but the Gospel for Christ
Where Have all the Prim and Proper People Gone
Hyper Conquerors with no Prescribed Medication
Why the House of God is Dysfunctional and Desolate
What is Desolation and What Resolves Desolation? Michael L. Mathews During the past few years I have written numerous articles on the dysfunction of the church, lack of the power of God within the Church, and why God is shifting the authority within the Kingdom. I have been impressed to be bolder with scripture and go to the heart of the matter.I sense I am not to state the issues as if complaining about the many things we all know are wrong, but lay out specifically why it is desolate, and what is the only way to fix it. There is too much at stake to keep stating the obvious; it’s time we provide solutions to the problems!
The word desolate in Webster’s dictionary has a few meanings and for the purpose of what scripture states; Webster’s (2) definition goes to the heart of the matter. It states that desolation is “joyless, disconsolate, and sorrowful through, or as if through separation from a loved one.” This is a powerful description of where people are at today.Through many means disguised under the functions of ‘Church,’ Satan has isolated and separated them from the very one who they started loving; Jesus Christ! Luke 13:35 Jesus states exactly why the House of God would become desolate, as well as what the solution to the problem is. Let’s first look at the verse “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate, and verily I say unto you that you will not see me until the time comes when ye shall say “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” (KJV).The Greek word for desolate is eremos (er'-ay-mos) which means “solitary, lonely, uninhabited, deserted places, lonely regions.” Jesus foretold that the House of God would be in this position because they continually killed the Prophet whom God sent.Jesus states this in the previous verse (v.34) “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you!
The scriptural reality is that the mystery of the Gospel will be revealed through the words of the Prophets.How do I know this? Let’s view scripture … Revelation 10:7 states “But in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.”
We see very clearly that the prophet plays an important part throughout scripture right up until the great finale!!Going back to Luke Chapter 13 we see that God clearly states that the only way the House of God becomes un-desolate and gets to see Him, is when the people of the House of God state “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”Combining Luke 13:34 and 13:35 we conclude that the one who comes in the name of the Lord is the Prophet.If we want to stick to scripture and literally use what it states, we can conclude that the House of God will remain desolate if they continue to strive to only have a ceremonial minister or the ‘paid clergy position’ and chase away the prophet. Jesus stated “You will remain separated from Me (desolate) unless you bless the one who comes in the Name of the Lord.” Why is this command by Jesus so rigid?I believe it is so rigid because God gave the Church the position of a prophet to reveal the truths of the Kingdom of God; yet they continually chased away, stoned, or killed the prophet. In essence they were killing the very life blood or purpose of the prophet, which was simple truth and revelation.Think of it this way, the core of the Gospel is the very truth found in Acts 4:12: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among peopleby which we must be saved.”In this scripture that only name being referred to … is Jesus! Because of this truth, God longs to have the person or ‘One’ who comes in Jesus’ name. Therefore Jesus was able to say “You will not become un-desolate until you welcome the one who comes in the Name of Jesus. The prophet knows the simple truth of the Gospel and never separates from continually revealing its truth, as well as exposing the leaders who are pulling people away from the core truth.Based on this you may now realize why people stone, kill, and chase away prophets. They are bold individuals who speak truth and expose the gimmicks, false truths, and pin-point when the Church is falling back and becoming desolate (separated and isolated from Jesus).
Until the House of God in any region welcomes the ‘One who comes in the Name of the Lord’ they will not be reconnected to the one whom they claim to seek. Scripture proclaims it!The great news is that when the House of God welcomes the one who comes in the Name of the Lord, many of the issues plaguing their area will be solved. This type of person(s) will allow the truth … which is that there is no other name under heaven given unto men to be saved, but Jesus Christ.That person will honor the simplicity of Jesus Christ and His salvation; and many will be saved.That person will not come speaking or representing politics, moral values, cell groups, study groups, buddy groups, life groups, cluster groups, the local church, money, fame, religion, church, correctness, music, programs, etc.Rather, they will come representing the very One the Church has been isolated from; Jesus Christ of Nazareth. And through the representation of that One Name, Jesus Christ, many will be re-united and saved. The outcome will be that the joy of the Lord will return to the House of the Lord.
As previously stated I have been inspired to go to the heart of the matter.I want to scripturally challenge every reader by asking a simple question.As you read this article how many times were you offended when I used the name Jesus Christ?There is no other name by which people can be saved, and if you are offended in His Name, it may be time to repent, or possibly rename your religion; but as for CHRISTianity, we will stick with that one Name; Jesus Christ, and welcome the one(s) who come in His Name. The world, your city, your state is ready for the greatest re-uniting of all time.Will you be part of it by inviting the one(s) who comes in the name of the Lord?
Hiding Behind the Local Church
By Mike Mathews
When ministers become isolated, they have a tendency to try and hide behind something. In many cases it is too difficult to hide behind a person, so they hide behind the church.In fact, the easiest way to do this is to put a tag line on the church and call it a ‘local church’ ‘God loves the local church’, ‘support your local church’, etc.
During the past few years there has been an increase in the word “local” church. I have been paying attention and noticed that people are emphasizing the word “local” in the phrase local church. The phrases I was hearing included sentences like “God loves the LOCAL Church, Support the LOCAL Church, Christ died for the LOCAL Church, be faithful to the pastor of your LOCAL Church, Make sure you support your LOCAL Church before giving extra offerings, and take your family to the LOCAL Church.
After repeatedly hearing this emphasis on the word Local for the church, I did a study to confirm my suspicions. The study revealed that we have added the word LOCAL to the Church of Jesus Christ. The scriptures do not include nor elude to the word local in reference to the church. In fact searching through the possible Greek words one cannot find a clear reference to the word local in context of the church. The closest one can come to replicating the innuendo of the word ‘local’ is the reference to the fact that the early church went from house to house.
The next step in my process was to look at the scriptures that Jesus used referring to the word ‘church’. The best I could do was go to the Book of Revelation and find the word Church used numerous times by Christ in chapters 2 and 3. In all cases the Church is referred to as the Church of a region or the church of a possible area (i.e. the Church of Ephesus, Philadelphia, etc.)
I began to wonder what a modern day equivalent to the message given in Revelation chapters 2-3 would sound like. Would this modern day equivalent with all thewarnings, admonitions, and concerns be written as a reference to each LOCAL Church? Or would it be written at the same level – to churches of demographic time era or geographical areas?For instance; would the equivalent be more like “To the church in America write these things….,” or would it be “To the First Baptist Church of Green Bay, WI, write these things…”?I think you and I know the answer to these questions! This helps illustrate the concern that somehow, somewhere each little local church has put themselves at the center of the Kingdom. Have we become so religiously inbred that we have become spiritually cross-eyed that we cannot see the Kingdom in its truest form?
I believe the communication for “The Church” would be along the lines of The Church of America, The Church of Asia, or possibly even The Church of Wisconsin. I doubt that it would be along the lines of First Baptist Church of Milwaukee, WI, or United Methodist Church of Green Bay, WI, or First Assembly of God of Phoenix, AZ, or Trinity Lutheran church of Memphis, TN
The reason I believe this is the simple reality that Jesus is concerned for The Church of Jesus Christ in our day. He is concerned about our status of readiness, love, attentiveness, and desire to glorify and serve Him. In Scripture, the Apostle Paul, Peter, and Jesus were always referring to the ‘Church at Large’ and were less protective of each LOCAL church. They wrote to the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Colossians, the Philadelphians, the Laodicians, etc. They knew the spirit of an area and the health towards Christ within that area and/or cities because they knew that the men and women of God were concerned for the area and/or city. They were not isolationists or arrogant enough to be concerned only with their favorite building, pastor, evangelist, or program. They knew that God sees the Church at large. This only makes sense considering that God loves all of humanity, which includes all humanity in my city, my state and my country. He does not have a top ten or bottom ten list of local churches with the name LOCAL in front of their name.
I am greatly concerned in my own heart that I will not admit the status of the Church in my geographical area because I am allowed to hide behind a LOCAL church. I may be hiding behind this LOCAL concept because I am trying to belong to something smaller, and also find joy in comparing my local church to other local churches. I must question and find out if I am hiding behind many of the typical clichés that excuse makers have, such as: ‘There are still some good churches in our area with dedicated ministers.’‘There is no perfect church, and if there was…as soon as you join it will become imperfect,’ and ‘We are not perfect, just forgiven.’
I honestly had to take a step back and ask the difficult questions…1) how long have I been hiding behind a LOCAL church in place of seeing the Church of Jesus Christ? 2) Why have we added the word Local Church to the Church of Jesus Christ?
I believe the answer to the questions date back many years. We started adding the word LOCAL Church and hiding behind this ‘made up’ name when the following things occurred;
Disunity among the Church of Jesus Christ in geographical areas.
Pastors began making a living from a LOCAL congregation where members could take a form of ownership in ‘their own personal pastor.’ This added to the feeling good about being a LOCAL Church where people could support the LOCAL part of Church.
When congregants learned to be spoon fed and turn inward to their continual and personal needs, no longer looking outside for the Church at Large.
When we developed an attitude that our local church is better than your local church.
I trust that these words spoken will at least challenge you to search the Bible and find the context of the LOCAL church. I believe you will find that the closest you get to the LOCAL church is at a city level, and people who met from house to house.
This does not mean the LOCAL in church is bad, however if not guarded against, we can become isolationists who believe in nothing greater than the 10, 20, 30, 40 …..or 500 people in our local building and see this as the only Church of Jesus Christ. What is God saying to the Church in your city, state or America? Do you know what He is saying, or can you only see within your four walls?
Clergy in the Hands of an Angry God By Mike Mathews In 1741 the great preacher Jonathan Edwards was burdened with a message for the people of his day. The message was entitled “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” The message was preached and thousands of people were saved due to the timeliness and truthfulness of the content. The message was so powerful that it is still available in print form today with people being saved merely by reading it. Great theologians believe that Edwards’ message was needed due to the back-sliding of church-goers in his day. In essence, Jonathan Edwards was prepared to preach a “risk-it-all-message,” due to the status of the church and Christians in his day. He did not preach this type of message every Sunday, but when God warranted the message as part of the ‘Great Awakening.’ Edwards experienced the transformation of the people he had the potential to influence.
Each serious minister has periods when they desire to preach the “risk-it-all-message,” but few build up the courage to deliver the message. In Scripture, leaders have delivered “risk-it-all-messages” and found that these messages generally transform societies. For a few years I have had a “risk-it-all-message” entitled “Clergy in the Hands of an Angry God,” stirring in my heart. The message is intended to grab the hearts of clergy to let them know:1) The sin amongst clergy has reached the same cyclical height which has caused God’s response in the past. 2) God has, and does see the ‘cover-up’ that has taken place in the organized Church across America, and 3) There has been a ‘cover-up’ of this sin amongst the fraternity of clergy.
This message has stemmed from factual incidents with present day clergy, and confirmed by God’s Word which illustrates cyclical behaviors of clergy who have strayed from the truth - and calling - they had once felt. These behaviors have been noted by the media, congregants, the secular world, Christians; and God; however few have had the “risk-it-all” attitude to call out the issues and sin which has become paramount among clergy.
I ask every minister to pray before reading on, so the tendency of denial and rejection do not rob you of its’ content. As stated, ‘risk-it-all’ messages bring God’s blessings if you allow God’s work to be accomplished, rather than mine or yours. And, even if you are one of the ‘pure’ clergy who inevitably knows clergy who are not; that you too will be a part of carrying a message of truth to their side, rather than stand by and watch the cover-up continue.
A recent article in the USA Today stated that Episcopalian Bishop, Eugene Robinson recently checked into rehabilitation to combat alcoholism.Bishop Eugene Robinson was the same clergy member who championed the ‘coming out’ and approval of homosexuals among clergy a few years ago.Reading this sent me into a mild spiritual rage - to think that we as a clergy have taken lightly the reality that we can escape sin. The multitude of sins within the Church by leaders has reached a new height, and I believe God has taken notice and has begun to react to the situation.
Here are just a few examples of evidence which indicates “we can no longer deny’ the epidemic, or the intentional cover up of the epidemic:
1.Documented cases of approximately 4,000 incidents of clergy accused of Pedophilia within the Church.
2.A minister murdering his girlfriend (skinning her alive) after preaching the 2006 Easter Service.
3.30% of clergy confessing to having issues with pornography via the internet.
4.Thousands of clergy leaving their spouses for an adulterous affair.
5.A minister shooting two men in a funeral home, only to commit suicide later.
6.Thousands of clergy controlling their congregants through an arrogant belief that they are the only ones who bid God’s work.
7.Thousands of clergy manipulating the body of Christ within the local church, literally cutting off the work of God through the whole body.
8.Numerous suicides among clergy who are disillusioned.
I have been in a paradox between assurance and deep sorrow because of the sin of many of our spiritual leaders. On one hand the deep sorrow stems from the reality of the proven and factual sin among the clergy such as pedophilia, adultery, murder, spiritual abuse, sexual abuse, pride, control, manipulation, and all the great cover-ups that ‘everything’ is just fine, when in fact it is not! On the other hand, an assurance comes from a realization that God is bringing retribution and correction to the ‘cover-up’ among the fraternity of clergy.
There should be sorrow when you consider the families that have been ruined and churches destroyed over clergy who desire to follow the flesh, rather than the Spirit of God. There should also be sorrow when reports show that there is now an estimated 2.5 million Christians in America who have professed leaving the church because of its ineffectual nature. Many of these 2.5 million people have been scattered from the Church by clergy who have welcomed and encouraged their exodus. Many of these people have been accused of apostasy, when it may well be the church that has become apostate.
Do we realize that all the pedophilia cases have not yet produced a spiritual leader like King David who could stand up and state, “We have sinned against God,” rather than a cheap apology that “We are sorry that we shuffled clergy around who confessed that they had these issues.” I am heart stricken to confess that as high as 80% of the clergy that I have personally befriended fell prey to adultery, spiritual control, and manipulation of the very people they once wanted to serve.
Possibly a greater sorrow includes the reality that I, like many other clergy, have ignored, excused, and in some cases justified the behavior of so much abuse; without weeping before God and making a truthful renunciation of sin. The best we have seen is the fraternity of clergy state how hard they have it, and question why so many are leaving the clergy, as if they are the victims. Possibly this exodus is God’s cleansing of a society of clergy who will not confess and repent.
We need more people like Nathan, Apostle Paul, Jonah, Amos, David, Peter, and John, who had a tendency to error on the side of honesty with the situation, rather than on the side of ‘cover-up’. They were righteous men of God used to proclaim honesty, truth, and godliness, even if it hurt the protected fraternity of clergy or churches.
God has encouraged and reminded me that He is balancing the scales as the sins have been exposed, despite the cover-up. What the clergy is reaping may be God’s way of bringing light and fairness to the cover-ups. It is called the “law of retribution” and illustrated clearly in Galatians 6:5-9. Yet, in God’s gracious way, He is allowing opportunity to repent; no different than with the world of sinners; the very message that all clergy once believed; which is to confess, repent, and move on in the correct direction.
Scripture shows God’s process of dealing with leaders who have crossed the line of pride, arrogance, and greed which produce the behavior patterns seen among many clergy. “Judgment must begin at the house of God.” (1 Peter 4:17). Matthew Henry, the great commentator, notes in this passage that God’s method just prior to bringing judgment on the ungodly is to start first at the sanctuary. Let’s suppose for a moment that judgment may have already visited the Church, but the clergy would not acknowledge the judgment. This would then explain the epidemic suffering within clergy and the church. References of starting at the sanctuary and not sparing clergy can be seen in the following passages: Ezekiel 9:1-11, Isaiah 10:12, Jeremiah 25:29.
What if clergy were already given the opportunity to acknowledge the sin in their own ranks? What if we all knew about the sin within clergy and said nothing? What if we all aided in the cover-up? Would we not be like the people described in Ezekiel chapter 9 where God brought judgment starting at the sanctuary because the people did not cry out about the sin around them?As a common sense individual, I would have to state that the arrogance among certain fraternities, ministries, and ministers is way beyond trying to protect the dignity of a position once viewed as sacred.
The reality is blatantly evident as a good portion of the clergy are falling by the wayside, struggling financially, and/or physically. I have personally seen the results as I have attempted to assist three clergy who have crossed the line of arrogance and pride only to see more arrogance and pride demonstrated through an attitude of “How dare someone question the man of God?” I have now watched these three clergy each suffer a combination of marital, financial, physical, and/or family issues.
You may be a clergy member thinking how pathetic some of these cases are. I would ask you to examine your heart as there have been cover-ups causing numerous spiritual deaths in thousands of churches. I have seen clergy who once believed in what they were doing begin a slow process of covering up the spiritual death(s) that they have created. In many towns across America there are churches with clergy who once believed that it was God’s church they were serving, or at minimum the people in God’s church. These same clergy now act as if the Church is their own personal Church; and in arrogance, they believe they control all things in the house of God.
The clergy as well as some of their wives in many of these churches stop at nothing to protect what they feel they have started and built. It is an attitude of control, manipulation and protection that breaks the foundation of a church body; thus causing spiritual death. We must question if God honors the attitude of ‘mine’ and a controlling spirit that gets rid of everyone and anyone who threatens ‘mine’?
At the pinnacle of these religious leaders are those who have become self proclaimed ‘only-anointed’ ones who literally view themselves as the only people who can be used by God. They use this pretense to further carry out their mission of control and manipulation by labeling any member who questions them as a complainer or discontent that must be removed.They refuse to admit that God chooses teams of people to work together to complement and supplement each other.King David was truly an anointed individual, yet when exposed by the prophet Nathan, accepted that Nathan was also anointed, but with a different function and purpose. In fact, every great spiritual leader of the past was willing to accept words spoken to them from God’s chosen people who were also anointed.Nathan was also the one who had to tell David that he was not the one to build the temple of God. Most modern day clergy would be indignant towards anyone who gave godly advice that seemed to take anything away from what they believe is their own.
In Scripture, each time God’s anointed person became arrogant, proud, self righteous, or ungodly, God gave them fair warning and allowed that person to repent. Sometimes God brought others to tell them and other times God paid them a personal visit. In some cases the Godly person repented and moved on, but in other cases the proud died in their pride.
The content of this message is far from John the Baptist speaking out “Repent you Generation of Vipers.”Rather it is a mild message of warning to all clergy to evaluate their hearts and repent, if the ‘shoe fits.’ Think of the sins of spiritual leaders of our day, and the sins that have been revealed in America these past ten years. Are we choosing to confess or choosing to cover up? I pray that as clergy, or a concerned person, that you would take your eyes off the writer and step back and consider:
1.The present day sins that have been exposed among clergy
2.The reality of God’s Word concerning the sins of clergy.
3.The fact that God always begins judgment in the House of God.
Recent Natural Disasters May be Nature's Reaction to God's Voice By Mike Mathews
We all have seen, heard or experienced an increase in natural disasters across the world. There is an increase in hurricanes, tornados, ice storms, fires, tsunamis, and other natural catastrophic events. Some people think that global warming may be the cause, while others may think it is God’s judgment. Still there are many who have observed the disasters and not come to any kind of conclusion.
Recently, the area in which we live was hit with a severe ice storm. Driving through town, it truly looked like a war zone where thousands of trees were either damaged, shattered, or drooping upon power lines to shut down the electric and city for days. The majority of the trees stood as if their large branches were bowing down. This caused me to reflect in Scripture on a few verses. Psalm 20:5, “The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars, the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.” (NIV). Nahum 1:5, “The mountains quake at Him and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at His presence.” (NIV).
From these passages, God reminded me He is in charge of all creation including nature. This caused me to realize the truth of God’s word and consider the fact that nature always seems to respond to God’s voice when He is speaking on a global basis. In the beginning, God’s voice created nature as we know it. In the close of this present world He will also speak through His voice and nature will be diminished. In fact, in Revelation chapter 8 we can see that all seven trumpets make a sound and nature is forced to respond with a serious disaster. Truly God’s voice has a tremendous impact on nature. Nature is not in control, but God’s word (voice) is in control and nature must respond. We may be missing the sign of the times, because we are trying to study nature while nature may only be responding to the Creator. Many churches love singing the song, ‘Shout to the Lord’ where there are two different Scripture passages combined that make up the words ‘Mountains bow down and the seas will roar at the sound of His name.” There is powerful evidence in Scripture that at the name of Jesus or the voice of the Lord, nature will respond. When Christ was crucified and voiced the words that echo into eternity, “It is finished,” nature responded with an earthquake (Matthew 27:54).
Upon further study, you will see that God’s voice truly causes nature to respond. Considering the fact that God’s voice caused nature to be created and at the end of this world, God’s voice causes it to be removed; it is plausible that in between the beginning and the end, God’s voice is being spoken and causing nature to respond. This thought goes beyond plausible when in Scripture, there is evidence that before judgment there will be an increase in earthquakes, shakings, and the seas and waves will roar. Luke 21:25-26, “And there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth nations will be in distress, anxious over the roaring of the sea and the surging waves. People will be fainting from fear and from the expectation of what is coming on the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” Verse 27 -28 proceeds with the statement that after these things, they will see the Lord coming and that we are to view these things as a sign that our redemption draws near. In God’s love and mercy, what we may be witnessing is the fulfillment of Scripture that He is warning us that His return is near. God’s lovely voice is echoing His return and nature is simply responding and being shaken by the sound of His voice.
The book of Joel reminds us that God promised to sound an alarm before the great and terrible day of the Lord. Without getting caught up in theological timing, consider the fact that God warns people before it’s too late. His voice is clearly going to sound an alarm and cause nature to respond. Joel 2:1, “Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm signal on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land shake with fear, for the day of the Lord is about to come. Indeed, it is near!” Considering the two facts; 1) God says He would warn us before He returns, and 2) Nature must respond to God’s voice/alarm/shout, we could possibly conclude that the natural disasters are not judgment or global warming, but rather God sounding His voice as an alarm that He is ready to return. This, in fact then, would be God’s love that we are seeing. In God’s love and mercy He may very well be voicing an alarm and nature is doing what it must do; respond and be shaken at His voice…causing various kinds of natural disasters. We ought to be excited because Jesus said in His word that at these signs we should lift our heads because our Redeemer is coming.
The largest problem at hand may that His own people may be just like the people in the days of Noah as Noah was sounding an alarm for years; we are too busy eating, drinking, and marrying to hear His voice…thus Jesus’ prophetic words that His return will be just like in the days of Noah. (Mat 24:37). Many will be caught off guard. If this concept along with the appropriate Scripture is true, we ought to get excited and worry less about what is causing the natural disasters and tune into what God is saying. Nature is only responding to the voice of God. Therefore let’s open an ear to what He is saying, “He that hath an ear let Him hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.” (Rev 2).
Note: This written word is a portion of a sermon preached by Michael Mathews at Lifeseed Fellowship in Stockton, California, Pastor Henri Ingram. Upon the preaching of the word a prophetic word was received from a member stating “These are my words, and are words that the church needs to hear.”
Everything but the Gospel for Christ
By Mike Mathews
During the past few years as I have been traveling around the country, I have observed and noticed the numerous attractions that the Church has to offer to the world to attract them into their church. I have read some of the following slogans to get people to come to church where they will hopefully meet Christ through programs and Christian love:Karate for Christ; Cookies for Jesus; treat night; movie night; breakfast with Jesus; Gun Cleaning Clinic; Wrestling for Jesus; fine arts night; Battle of the Bands, etc.These are only a few that stand out in my mind, but there are many more ‘catchy’ and ‘gimmicky’ titles that appear across church marquees or signs around the country.
I clearly understand the intent of the programs, gimmicks, messages and means that churches and Christians are using to try and draw people. However, I am concerned that we are trying so many means, that we are forgetting the simplicity of letting the world know of the Gospel; which literally means “The Good News.”We are trying to hide the good news and disguise it under another guise or behind our love. I am wondering why so many Christians find the need to repackage the simplicity and directness of the Gospel, known as the good news; or the love of Christ.
I wonder if we are afraid or ashamed to offer the Good News in its simple form as we think people cannot hear the truth in its raw form. We have been acting as if there is a simpler or more loving way to introduce people to Jesus. Possibly we have thought that if we can love people enough… we can somehow eventually introduce them to Jesus. What some people have done is concoct a theory that our love is greater than God’s love. In essence we are stating “If we love people first; than maybe we can introduce them to Christ.” In fact, many people have misunderstood the scripture that states “By your love for one another they will know you are my disciples.”This verse simply means what it states; if we as Christians demonstrate love to one another they will see we are Christ’s Disciples. It does not say if we love one another or love them they would come to Christ.We need to be reminded that it was God who so loved the world that he gave His only son that whosoever believes shall not perish. It was God’s son Jesus who demonstrates His love to the World so that people would be drawn to Him. If we step in and act as if it is our love, we take away the glory from God. Our love cannot and should not be used as the evangelistic tool, as people will see through our human love and motives as a means to get them to do something that we want them to do; such as accept Christ; again, it was God’s love for them, not our love for them; thus the Apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 1:13“Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?”And finally in 2 Corinthians 4:5 he states “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.”
We should all be concerned when we step back and start asking the question “Has our church, or have I started behaving as an intermediate between the lost and God; by trying to get them to respond to my love or the Church’s love first?”It is Christ who is the mediator between God and Man.1 Timothy 2:5 says it best: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”We are called to be Christ’s Ambassadors not Christ’s mediators. An ambassador represents and speaks for someone, but does not replace the real person or step out in front of the real person.
There are two questions that we should ask about our motives: 1) Am I replacing or stepping in front of the message with my love to make it sound better, or be more palatable?2) Am I ashamed of the simplicity of the Gospel, but not ashamed of my own methods or programs?
Replacing or stepping out in front of Christ (the message) would be changing the reality that Christ is the one who was crucified and died, and became the world’s mediator between humanity and God. We would be trying to get people to see our love and convince them that the Church’s or Christian’s love itself is the way to Christ.
Being ashamed of the gospel would be trying to side track the truth and lure people to a ‘worldly’ message that may give them an inkling about God, but not introduce them or tell them of the “Cross of Jesus Christ”.
In either case, we need to question if we are ashamed of the Gospel or afraid that the lost will be offended by the gospel; thus we cover it up or repackage it through our love to make it easier for us to try and do our job of sharing the Gospel?
The reality of the Gospel and what Christ did was offensive to sinners, governments, and the world. If we think we can go around the offense of the cross and not preach and share Jesus Christ, we will be greatly disappointed with our human efforts. We cannot think that we can simmer down or wash down the Gospel by becoming lovers of worldly people to get them to love us first, and then love Christ.There are numerous passages in scripture sharing that Christ was offensive (Romans 5:15; Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:8); thus He warns His own Disciples that if they persecuted Him, it stands to reason they will also be persecuted and offend people…“Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.”And John 15:20…“These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. John 16:1-2 (KJV)
Have you been one of the many who have silently ceased the confrontation of the Cross by intentionally designing the Church to be non offensive?In addition to the reality of Christ being an offense, He is referred to as a stumbling block or foolish. “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; (1 Corinthians 1:23)
As we examine our hearts and motives let’s be reminded that it is easy to start loving the sinners by appealing to them, more than we love God himself.We need to be reminded that God chose the process of Loving Him with all our heart, all our mind, and all our soul. God is the one worthy!!We need to be careful that we are not more in love with the lost sinners than God Himself. We need to be a seeking (God – the Creator) sensitive church, not a seeker (the creatures) sensitive church.If we cross the line and seek out sinners or seekers more than the Creator we are reversing the order of the Church.In part, this is the warning that the Apostle Paul gave in Romans 1:25 “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.” God, Christ, the Cross, and the Gospel cannot be hid under a bushel or under a shell game of love, programs, and individuals. The Gospel is a simple and innocent truth that Christ foretold would be offensive. Let’s all share the Gospel versus ourselves, our limited love, and/or our Church organization.
Let’s all decide to question what we are sharing!! Is it cookies, karate, Santa, human love, dramas, Hollywood, our pastor? Or, is it the Christ who was crucified for their sins. Let’s make a decision to make it honest, simple, and clear and watch God receive the Glory.
This evidence helps explain why some of the recent news in regards to churches and religion have taken place. The church in many ways has become sick and there is no cure because the only cure is the great physician. When the great physician is circumvented we are left to our own methods and ways; which end in death. ‘There is a way that appears right to every man but it ends in death.’ (Proverbs 14:12)
Where Have all the Prim and Proper People Gone
By Mike Mathews
It has been interesting to watch the signs of the times and the reality that so many people who thought they were someone have failed and slipped into the background. It is important to note that God tells us that our ways are not His ways and His thoughts are above our thoughts. God’s math is not our math and His judgment is just. There is a reason that Jesus stated that the first should be last, and the last shall be first and thanked God that he confounds the wise with simple things.This assures me that God’s judgment is real, simple, and refreshing. At the same time it will perplex those who thought that they were clever, intellectual, or in control of their own destiny.
God’s judgment is not ours….The last shall be first and the first shall be last! I have had a few thoughts cross my mind over the pass few years in regards to God’s plans, intentions, and concern for poor people, needy people, and the not so ‘prim and proper’ people who do not always fit into our scheme of society or religious circles.
These thoughts have stemmed from the Biblical evidence that shows God’s care for the downcast, the underdog, the captives, and the poor. In fact we can see places where there is a replacement or exchange of the ‘prim and proper’ with the not so ‘prim and proper.’
Let me start with one of my favorite parables, the Workers in the Vineyard found in Matthew Chapter 20.The summary is that there were four rounds where the master of the vineyard selected workers to work in his vineyard (early morning, 3rd hour, 6th hour, and 9th hour). More than likely the ‘prim and proper’ were the first selected and then the last were those who were least appealing or least ‘prim and proper.’Do you recall ever being selected last for a sports team or a job, indicating that you were not the ‘top seed’ or most prim and proper person, therefore being overlooked…left for last?This experience is somewhat the same as this parable. Nonetheless, the Master chooses to use all people as He cared about the harvest of the vineyard. However, the prim and proper became offended when they found that the not so prim and proper were included in the harvest and even received the same pay.This parable eludes to the possibility that as the harvest of the kingdom draws to the ninth hour of the day, the Master will choose the not so prim and proper to assist in the harvest. However, the prim and proper will need to be careful not to become offended. In fact, Jesus closes this section of scripture by stating “the first shall be last and the last shall be first.” Matthew 20:16.
Moving to the Old Testament in Judges 7:1-6, we see that God was desirous that Gideon would defeat the Midianites. However, God did not want a man-to-man ‘whose better’ battle, so he had Gideon send the prim and proper or ‘pretty-boys’ back home. The first group who went back home were those that were fearful and afraid. Two thirds fit the fearful and afraid category, leaving only ten thousand. Out of the remaining he was commanded to choose only the 300 men that improperly lapped up water as a dog…in a not so prim and proper manner. God was looking for the sincere and die hard men.These were the chosen men who would represent God’s miracle, and the ‘prim and proper’ or ‘pretty-boys’ were sent back home.
I am wondering and have given thought to the question; where have all the pretty-boys gone? Many of them have gone back home, many are hiding in the pew, many are hiding in a ministry or job that allows them to feel occupied. However, God has always and will always look for the men and women who are willing to be more concerned with advancing the Kingdom than those who are worried about being prim and proper, or who are afraid and fearful. Even during Jesus’ days on the earth the Jewish Scribes and Pharisees looked religiously prim and proper. They were viewed as the pretty boys of their day; while at the same time right under their nose, Jesus picked the not so prim and proper ‘rag-a-muffins’ to represent Him. The first became last, and the last became first.
Often times when we are looking and worrying about looking prim and proper, it causes us to miss the eternal matters of the Kingdom. I believe that is why Jesus laid it on the line when He said in Matthew 11: 12 “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force.” In addition back in verse 6 of this same chapter Jesus says “And blessed is he who is not offended in me.”As I look at the great men and women of God throughout history, it is clear that they were far less concerned with looking and acting prim and proper than they were in advancing the Kingdom at all costs.
If you are a leader in ministry you may have been searching for the wrong people if you have been looking for those who appear to be stable, talented, or prim and proper.God may want you to begin another search for the lesser people who can bid the work of the Lord. If you are a person who always feels like no one wants you on the ministry team, get ready, because God is ready to close out the Church age and rapture His church. This means that His Word will come to pass and He will be looking for the last to become first, and the first to be last.This includes using you to assist in the greatest moment in the Kingdom.
If you are a person who is always worried about how you are perceived and ensuring that you look prim and proper, be careful that you do not miss the deeper and more meaningful things of God. The Bible is clear that man looks at the outward and God looks at the inward.
God warns all of us through Christ’s parable of the great supper in Luke 14:15-24 that things will not be as they appear.The parable states that the people who were originally called to the supper feast suddenly got prim and proper with life, and got too occupied to come. Therefore, the master told the servants to go and get the poor, lame, and the maimed, or the not so prim and proper to attend. The fact was that the prim and proper were replaced with the not so prim and proper. “The last shall become first and the first last.”I am constantly reminded that I should not look down upon any person and how God desires to use them. In the name of Jesus, everyone is qualified. I should also not be more concerned with being perceived as prim and proper by man, more than being obedient to God.
Hyper Conquerors …..With no prescribed medication
by Mike Mathews
In our present day, we have many people who are over concerned with the attributes that go along with ‘hyper’ or hyper-activeness. There is a strong sense that we need prescriptions and sedations for people who may display an extra dose of energy, ambition, and/or thoughts. In many cases, hyper-activeness is construed to be counter to normal behavior, and thus we sense we should sedate the behavior to reduce the energy level to a normal level.
Have you ever wondered if this attitude toward hyper action has brought down the overall level of energy that humanity has it its disposal? Even though sedation may be healthy in some cases, we should make sure we are not lowering the bar of the people who have been born with an extra dose of ambition and energy.
This same attitude toward zealous or hyper-active Christians has been seen in many religious circles. The good news with truly hyper active Christians is that they cannot be sedated by medication. There may be attempts to stifle them by churches, religions, and others who cannot bear to see the intensity that God has bestowed on their life. However, as you will read, there is no human remedy for the hyper conquer in Christ. They cannot be sedated because the Spirit of God in them is healthy, liberating, and more in control of their faculties than others think.
As we ponder the many great men and women of the Bible and throughout church history, we see that they have generally been granted an extra dose of spiritual power, faith, hope, and/or endowment of power to get them beyond the ordinary religious person. Imagine the course of Christian heritage if these individuals would have lowered the bar of what God called them to do simply because others thought that they had a hyper belief or faith that allowed them to do things others normally would not or could not do. What if we would have sedated these individuals so they acted more like we do? We may initially feel better and have been more accepting of their eagerness, but in the end they may have only accomplished a portion of what the Lord designed for them to accomplish.
We must always be careful that we are not requesting church members, pastors, and others who are hyper active and/or zealous for the things of God to be lowered to a lesser level than God has intended them to be functioning at. God’s Word is clear that he gives a different measure of his grace to everyone. “Ephesians 4:7 states “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.”
In Ephesians 4: 11- 16 the Apostle Paul gives the definition of bringing the church into a full unity, He eloquently uses word “Measure”. He states that we are to come “up to the measure of the fullness of Christ."We are not called to pull down the measure to what the people feel comfortable with or perceived as normal religious activity. We are all to pull toward the direction of the measure of the fullness of Christ. We are never called to pull people down to a level so we can all look and act the same, and have a pseudo brand of unity. This would not be unity, but complacency that only looks and smells like unity.
Throughout the books of Ephesians and Roman’s we are challenged on numerous occasions to be much more than what we are, not less than what we are. In fact, Paul tells us plainly that if the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is in us, it will make our bodies more alive, not less alive. When Godly people are full of God’s Spirit we will see more action, not less action. Call it hyper action or hyper faith, but it would be more on the spectrum that moves mountains with even a grain of faith; rather than the end of the spectrum that stifles movements. When our faith in God cannot move a dead church to a living church, or a dead saint to a living saint, we should be concerned. We should step back and ask if the saints have been sedated, and brought to the normal human plane of life, that refuses to usher in the supernatural Spirit of the living God; which brings excitement, joy, renewal, and revival. Our churches can no longer afford caffeine free religion, which no longer wakes us up, shakes us up, and if not careful won’t take us up.
In Romans 8:37 the Apostle Paul stated that we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus who loves us. What is particularly interesting is the word that is used for Conquerors is ‘”Hupernikao” and it is the only place it is used in the Bible. The word itself means hyper conqueror. Vines Expository dictionary states the exact word to be “Hyper-conqueror.” As previously stated, we often have a negative connotation for the word hyper. In this passage it is used as a positive aspect and means much more than a conqueror; a triumphant conquer; a person who stretches beyond the ordinary; excels.
As we read the scripture surrounding Romans 8:37, we find that the Apostle Paul was taking the readers to one extreme to another. He stated that many of the Christians and future followers may experience persecution and death for their non–normal faith, yet despite even death, no one will be able to separate them from the Love of God. He then states that this very experience makes you a hyper conqueror.In other words, the Apostle Paul is building a case to state that no ‘normal person’ or normal conqueror calls this suffering victorious. Yet, because of their great understanding of what God has done for them, along with the fact that they had a dose of God’s Spirit, they would be hyper conquers.What a title to be called a non-normal person, by such a non-normal leader of God…the Apostle Paul.
As you reflect on this passage in Romans it is also important to note that the book of Romans was written to the Roman people who had a strong desire to be conquers as the Roman people were soldiers and warriors. They had reached the ultimate solders challenge….to be a cut above the normal conquerors; a hyper conqueror.
We wonder how many of us imagine ourselves as conquerors in Christ Jesus, yet alone hyper-conquerors?We are not called to be hyper-complainers, hyper-worriers, hyper-materialistic, hyper-fearful, hyper-doubtful; but Hyper-conquerors.Let’s stake our claim in the Name of Jesus and become soldiers of a living God whom has called us to a much higher calling than we have presently reached.
In a recent local Church service it was interesting to note that the majority of the congregation rose their hands when asked if they felt as if their life had not been as accomplished as they once thought it should be. This is typical when we live in a society that would rather beat us down, wear us down, and tear us down. It is time that God’s people rise above what normal people think and become all that God desired for us to become; in Christ Jesus. We can no longer let people and the enemy of the living God lie to the reality that God has a greater purpose for each of us in our journey to advance the Kingdom.
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." ~Matthew 13:45-46