Tag: faith

House Church Vs Brick and Mortar Church Building

Is it better to meet in a church building or be part of a house church?  I have asked myself this question for over 10 years now.  Perhaps it’s because all the ‘downsides’ of brick and mortar churches is repeated to me every seven days like clockwork, but it’s due season for me to spit my thoughts out here.

Please also understand my heart before reading.  I want nothing more than to be as effective for my God with the limited time I have left.  The purpose of writing this is that I’m hoping to make some big life decisions that will glorify the God who saved me and increase my effectiveness for Him on this earth.  Please also note that I would like nothing less than any further division in the body of Christ.  I hunger for the day when all the brothers and sisters will worship together in preparation of the wedding feast.

However, I am compelled.  It’s like a bitter scroll in my belly….  so let’s get into it, shall we?

To begin, I thought it would be best to create a simple pros and cons bullet list for each which could be edited over the years.  Perhaps someone might read this post and even feel compelled to participate.

Clarification: please note that the usage of ‘house church’ or ‘home church’ does *not* mean watching your brick and mortar church’s sermon on a live internet stream from the comfort of your bed.

Pros and Cons of Traditional Brick and Mortar Church Systems

Pros

  • Big Brother Approves.  Is approved by governments, municipalities (and all those creeps who spy on you) and should therefore be left alone until official government sanctioned persecutions begin.
  • Unilateral Theology Controls.   The theology can be ‘kept in line’ by the pastor or trained clergyman (or whatever title they get) and rogue spiritual renegades can be shut down before they mess up the faith of others.
  • Nice Building.  Convenient church building designed for the assembly of large groups together
  • an unbeliever might feel more comfortable showing up to a church to hear about God rather than your living room or patio (have not surveyed to find out)
  • Separated Children’s Church.  Yay “Children’s Church”!  (get those noisy kids outta there!)
  • Cell Group Option.  Can implement ‘cell groups’ to counteract the con list below and simulate a ‘house church’
  • Potentially Local.  Could be ‘local’ if the brick and mortar building happens to be near your house.  Or,  you could seek out such a church.
  • Building Rental Option.  Could rent space in existing building instead of buying or building a church to save funds.  Also, sharing with another congregation, like we do, is possible.  But that’s another entire series of ‘pain’ not to be discussed here.

 

Cons

  • Big Brother is Watching.  Is perfectly known by governments, municipalities (and all those creeps who spy on you), and when official government sanctioned persecutions begin, every single member who has made a charitable donation can be found and ‘dealt with’ even if they don’t happen to show up that week for the cattle herding.  If you don’t believe me, try searching out your favourite Canadian church here and realize that your SIN number is connected to this charitable tax number.  You can run, but you ain’t hidin’.
  • Unilateral Theology Stream.  The theology of the person delivering the messages might be messed up.  In fact, the person him or herself might be messed up both spiritually and personally.  Their theology and theirs alone will likely be the only teaching you get
  • Shallow Relationships.  Many believers find the large, convenient building of the church to be cold, disconnected, and impossible to find relationships in, even with the help of friendly ‘greeters’ and ‘fellowship champions’ (it’s easy to get lost in a crowd).  It’s very difficult to build deep relationships with your brothers and sisters.  In our case, we have a great meal every single week, prepared by the members yet it is only a rare occasion where the deep things of God are discussed and lives are penetrated. The depth of penetration into each others lives, from my experience, is average at best, but even superficial as a norm where it is not uncommon to not even communicate with someone for half a year.
  • Atmosphere of evangelism.  An unbeliever might feel more comfortable showing up to your patio or living room to hear about God rather than a scary church where their only goal is to preach damnation and sin (that’s what many think)
  • Separated Children. Almost 100% of brick and mortar churches have “Children’s Church” which is, essentially, firing them off to a separate place.  Should children be separated from worship with their parents?  The debate is on…
  • Cell Groups as a Program. Although there may be a “cell group” system in place, the physical brick and mortar con list (ie. costs, drive to main meeting, etc, etc) remain and the cell group is really just another “program” from the main church subject to the same folks and agendas.
  • Waste of Time and Gas.  In our case, we drive nearly 40 minutes each way to go to a building which is composed of probably 50% members who live where I drove from!  This is folly for the following reasons:
    • it blows gas into the air which makes our air suck
    • the gas costs money which could have been pumped into your favourite ministry.  On today’s standard for a quick calculation, there is no way that trip is going to cost me less than $5 each way or $10/week if we just go to one meeting.  My wife goes twice so that’s $20/week.  $20 x 52 weeks/year is $1040.00.  Read that again.  Now think about the World Vision ads and think that you could have kept *THIRTY FIVE* children alive last year instead of death by famine.  I’m just saying.  This one hits me real hard with kids of my own…  I almost want to say ‘shame on you’ but I know that we are all doing the best we can with what we know.  Carpooling would obviously reduce this but still…
    • unless your stereo is turned off, there are no smart phones or tablets, and you are hyper-focused on speaking to each other, it’s a waste of time
  • Locally irrelevant.  With a house church you can penetrate and focus on your geographical area.  Realtors call this ‘farming their area’.  Is there any hope of us farming a 25 km area for Christ?  Do I give a spiritual rats behind about a community 25km from my house?  It’s so far away you might as well call it a missions trip!  What I see in the Bible when I read it, is ‘hyper-local’.  The people who meet together also live there and serve there, with the exception of the missionaries, evangelists, etc, who are always moving on.
  • Geography over Theology.  In order to be as local as possible, if you agree that local is better, you are forced to accept a church and its beliefs because it’s close to your home, not because it’s close to what you believe.
  • Performance Atmosphere.  No matter how you design the brick and mortar building, it always ends up looking like an stadium or auditorium where one person is up on a platform (and usually their musical rock stars as well). It’s hard not to view the entire experience as a ‘performance’.  Those who need accountability will often find none and when questions come up, one is forced to ‘save it for later’ rather than simply ask.  One might ask ‘how do we reach the deeper parts’ like this?  Also, except for when preaching to the sinners is happening, I don’t see any example of this format in the Bible…
  • It’s expensive.  If you happen to have $500,000 to $3,000,000 to build a basic local church, that’s just the beginning of your pain.  The operation costs can be fierce.  With a house church the infrastructure is already in place and being paid for.  The ‘landlord’ can be paid with milk and cookies or a kind word of encouragement.
  • Sitting Ducks.    If you read the end time prophecies at all, tying your place of worship to a piece of land seems, at best unwise.  Should persecutions arise, all the enemy has to do is read the sign on the billboard and show up Sunday morning with their thugs.
  • Immobile.  As they say in real estate, it’s impossible to move land.  What if something changes where, say, 75% of the congregation moves 30km away from the church?  Too bad you just spent $3,000,000 on that fresh building with the big sound and screen…
  • Tradition Rules.  What if God wants to do something new and fresh?  It seems like just walking into a brick and mortar building breeds an expected protocol that looks something like this:  meet a greeter, take your seat, kid’s truck off to children’s church, rock band plays a few songs, choir sings a few songs (to appease the oldies, of course), the Lord’s prayer is repeated, the Apostles creed is repeated, some opening prayer happens, the sermon happens, communion may or may not happen, closing prayer, blessing, the people chat, the people eat (optional), the people go.  Repeat seven days later.  In fact, some churches even write this order into their bulletin board so newcomers can be sure to fall back on the paper if they don’t know how the program is going.  Ok. No secret, this one really bugs me.  I don’t see God as being so small that we can put him into our program or box.  What if God says “Keep the music going.  I like this.”  Would you look at the clock and follow the bulletin?  Or would you listen to God.  I think in a house church there is a much greater chance of listening to God, but – I could be wrong.  I’m not against order, but I’m against the order being above our God and having it tell us where to go rather than God.

Well, I feel like I’ve missed some so this will probably be a work in progress.  I would love for others to throw some comments in here so that I and others can make the best choices as we move into the future.

May all of you readers be blessed wherever you are, though.  I love you in Christ.

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Was Martin Luther King Junior a Christian?

This post has been toned down a level as it has been suggested that I was being  ‘judgemental’ and ‘not theologically trained enough’.  Fair enough.  I judged that MLK’s theology was totally off base and I have not been to seminary.  So that is probably true.  But, I’ll change the tone so that this post is in more of a ‘you decide’ style instead of me dumping my random thoughts and opinions:

There are many images and audio recordings of Martin Luther King Junior standing behind a pulpit and ‘preaching’ to crowds of believers.  For me, these images led me to believe that he was at least a “Bible believing Christian”.  Based on a heavy conversation I had with a friend, it is necessary also for me to define more clearly what exactly that means.  A ‘Bible believing Christian’ to me, means someone who believes the Bible. All of it.  But, for the sake of the ‘theologians’ out there, I’ll tame it down one level to ‘someone who adheres to the very basic tenets of the faith’.  And what are those tenets?  They are written in the front of most Bibles on a page called ‘the Apostles Creed’.  Instead of using space here for those who already know them, please feel free to click this link to see the full list of what a ‘Bible believing Christian’ would believe.

For my own list of reasons, and because of a few small events that occurred to me in my life, I went to www.duckduckgo.com and searched ‘Was Martin Luther King Jr. a Christian” and came immediately upon this old-school, html text-based article full of outdated links.  Please note that one of the key outdated links I have figured out and updated, which is the link to his Stanford University articles.  If you go to the link in the article it will give you a dead page.  Then if you try to search it seems to only take you to paid Amazon publications (no surprise) but the free, original, raw source articles seem to be at the following location:

Martin Luther King Junior’s Original Stanford University Documents

From his writing was this quote:

“Others doctrines such as a supernatural plan of salvation, the Trinity, the substitutionary theory of the atonement, and the second coming of Christ are all quite prominant in fundamentalist thinking. Such are the views of the fundamentalist and they reveal that he is oppose to theological adaptation to social and cultural change. He sees a progressive scientific age as a retrogressive spiritual age. Amid change all around he was {is} willing to preserve certain ancient ideas even though they are contrary to science.”

King also tries to explain away the garden of Eden, the virgin birth and other critical tenets of faith that leads to eternal salvation.

Based on these findings, I was forced to ask myself these questions:

  • was MLK a Christian?
  • can someone who does not believe in the virgin birth truly be a believer?
  • can someone who doesn’t firmly believe in the substitutionary plan of salvation through the blood of Jesus be a disciple of Christ?
  • Is it possible for a man to appear as a preacher, sound like a preacher, even act like a preacher, not be a servant of God and a brother?

Obviously, I too am very thankful that some great changes occurred as the result of his social work (I personally believe strongly that a believer must fight for justice, peace, a better environment and more), but nothing saddens me more than to think that MLK may not have know Jesus as his personal Saviour before he was shot.  And before he was shot, this was a quote from his last ‘sermon’, taken from our source article with appropriate emphasis added by the author:

Did King repent and change before he died? The following was spoken the night before he died. The speech is entitled, “I See The Promised Land” and was delivered April 3, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. He had not abandoned his heretical notions:

“As you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of general and panoramic view of the whole human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, ‘Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?’– I would take my mental flight by Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn’t stop there. I WOULD MOVE ON BY GREECE, AND TAKE MY MIND TO MOUNT OLYMPUS. AND I WOULD SEE PLATO, ARISTOTLE, SOCRATES, EURIPIDES AND ARISTOPHANES ASSEMBLED AROUND THE PARTHENON AS THEY DISCUSSED THE GREAT AND ETERNAL ISSUES OF REALITY.”

Based on this excerpt the possibility of Martin Luther King being deceived by the love of the world seems very real.

This world and all of its fancy philosophies and deep philosophical ideas will never, ever, take away from the core tenets of our faith, upon which my life, and hopefully yours too, is built which include but are not limited to the apostles creed and:

  • Jesus replacing you and I on the cross and shedding His blood for us
  • salvation by faith alone, not by works
  • etc

Martin Luther King Jr., to my surprise, may have built his foundation on sand.

The take-away lesson from this discovery is that we cannot be sure of another man’s salvation, but we can absolute be sure of our own.  MLK’s sudden ending by the small pointed tip of a bullet is also a stark reminder that we must all be ready to die at any time.

My hope is that by reading this you would come to know Jesus and that all of us would be able to ‘die well’ when our time comes.

Oh! Right! One more thing..  If you have a comment…. that’s what the ‘comment box’ below is for.  Please!  I will publish all comments as long as it’s not spam. I’m also very open to adjusting my posts if you have suggestions.  🙂

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How to Gauge your Christian Life

It’s a fact that there are just a few lines to carve into your gravestone or fit into your obituary in the back of your local newspaper.  So what would it say about you?  What would you hope it would say about you?

As a Christian (I prefer the term ‘disciple’ and ‘believer’ so we’ll be switching effective now, by the way), since we have an ever-present awareness of eternity this question becomes even more significant.  For the fool who is perishing in a perpetual state of drinking wine, being merry and essentially living for themselves alone by filling voids that can’t be filled with ‘stuff’ that doesn’t transcend the grave, they would be happy if their gravestone didn’t mention the way they lived and perhaps had a nice line like ‘Bob was a good dad and husband”.  But for the believer, we know that that stuff is just the beginning of the journey – part of the entrance requirement test if you will.  The bare basics, perhaps.  It’s easy to love those who love you, but what about those who abuse, betray, defraud you and those you love?

I came across this most helpful list of cut-and-dry obligations for the believer.  Believers are not subject to the laws of the old testament, but we live lives that *fulfil* them as we live our lives more and more like Jesus through the work that he completed on the cross.  So to look at a list of duties like this the temptation is always to get old-skool testament on oneself, perhaps even spiritually beating oneself down.  But it’s critical that we examine ourselves. Yes, we have a conscience that will tell us right from wrong, but even the unbeliever has that.  We are privileged to have God’s own word as a mirror into which we can see our spiritual reflection.  This post is a good one to take a nice overall look.

However, this list seems to be missing a part of the ‘obligation list’ that is pretty significant.  In fact, it’s the only thing that Jesus commanded us to do after he departed to heaven:

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” – Mark 16: 15

Just to back it up, let’s take a look at Paul’s kind of ‘pre-death message’ in 2 Timothy.  He knew his time was short and was starting to get ready for what he expected might happen to him.  Here is what he had to say:

2TIM 4:1-8

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge he quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine. 

For the time will come, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned into fables. 

But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of departure is at hand.  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith;

Henceforth is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing

And so there is much more to do in our life as a disciple of Jesus than the inward stuff.  Once the inward stuff is rolling, it should be followed by outward proof of faith. The one main such thing is the preaching of the word to others.

You need to seriously remember that Jesus said in Luke 9:23

“For whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s , and of the holy angels.”

Preach it.  Don’t hide your light under a basket.  Don’t be a ‘closet Christian’.

And stand in front of the spiritual mirror, the Word of God, and let it change you to the way you are supposed to be, not the way the world has deceived you to be.

 

 

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What Happened to the Salty Pillar Witness in Genesis 19?

If Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt for looking back, what happened to the witness who saw it?

When I read my Bible sometimes stuff really comes alive and I’m right there in the situation.  In this particular case, in Genesis 19, I was running away from Sodom and Gomorrah just before fireballs from heaven rained down on the city and utterly destroyed it and its sick, twisted inhabitants.  [Note: the sick twisted inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah live very similarly to many inhabitants of Vancouver, BC.  Just sayin’ …].  Angels had just said that their wicked (specifically sexually deviant) ways were about to be paid up in full and yanked them by the hand out of the city since they were too cemented to their urban roots to move by themselves.

They were told by the angels to run and not look back.  Just run.  And don’t look back.  Two simple commands.  Get out of Dodge and break off your rear view mirror.

But Lot’s wife looked back and boom: she became a salt stick which I envision to be like one of those blocks of salt that cows lick out in the pastures – but a human size.

But then I thought to myself – what happened to the witness who saw her become a block of salt?  Is he/she also a block of salt now?  Or, maybe Lot’s wife was wearing patented sports sneakers and was a few steps ahead of the witness so he just saw it happen in front of him.  Or, maybe at the point when everyone looked back to see the fire and brimstone raining from heaven on the city that they also saw Lot’s wife way back in the field as a block of salt and at that point, it was deemed acceptable to look back that direction?

In either case, the take away points from this episode in history are as follows:

  1. don’t be a wicked sinner
  2. if you are a wicked sinner, and all humans are (so that means you are), Jesus can save you via the cross, hallelujah.
  3. if you move forward into righteousness, don’t look back at your sinful roots – or you’ll end up in permanent paralysis unable to do anything of value for God.
  4. the fresh Living Water always dissolves salt if you failed step #3
  5. Jesus is the answer to everything

 

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Does God Simply Bless Those Who Believe With Financial Blessings?

If we are faithful to ‘live a Christian life’, does God, in return, pour out His heavenly blessings on us?  The answer is “it depends”.

Depends on what, you ask?   I’m glad you asked.  It depends on two things: God’s will and our hearts and the two are directly connected.

Today I was in my daily Bible Power Hour (I just gave it that term to sound cool to the hip young Christian kids) and I came across this most interesting part of the Bible (it’s a bit long for our unfocused generation so belt up):

Luke 16: 1-13

And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.

And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.

Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.

I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.

So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?

And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.

Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.

And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.

And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?

13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Although I had read this multiple times in the past, today I got knocked back in my seat a bit.  My wife and I had, just hours before, had a lengthy discussion about money which can be summarized as my wife saying “We should not expect that God will bless us financially. It’s up to him, not us or our acts.” With this statement I totally agreed but it also doesn’t take into consideration the fact that God *did* bless abundantly a few folks that were close to him and still does today.

I sat back and thought about our own life and how to answer this question.  As a quick background, we had, with very good intentions, purchased a franchised business and subsequently lost everything as a result of things out of our hands.  This lead to, as I write this, over 8.5 years of financial pain.  Read that again.  That’s not a short time.  Our expectation was that God would bless our venture and lo and behold, this venture was not at all blessed financially.  How could this be?  How could we end up in a state of indebtedness in the world’s system when were children of the Living God??? There were moments of much anger and of much disappointment in ourselves and God.  Even today we are unable to simply go on a vacation (Visa paid last year), go out and splurge on a meal once in a while, buy fancy and expensive gifts for people, and all this other ‘stuff’ that we see people around us doing.

However – and thank God for however – I can say that I have never reached a point of closeness to God like I have reached today.  I cannot speak for my wife, of course, but let me tell you this: God has done a mighty work on this former sinner.  He brought my world to nothing.  He brought me to a point where I am a modern day beggar, if you will.  I had to come shamefully back to my parents and beg them (sometimes every month) for money to pay our mortgage, for money to pay for car repairs, and more.   I have a few friends who have generously given me gifts and taken me out and more, and even now, over 8 years later, I am still financially unable to repay these acts.  Sometimes I’m still hit with a slight feeling of guilt and shame, but that’s the devil.  Why?  Because I am becoming the wise steward above.

Job, a ‘good man’, was ruined and God let it happen.  Come on.  Let’s not avoid the topic.  God sat back on his armchair and said “Go ahead.  Devastate him, satan.” And satan did.  Ouch.  But there was a point to take away from that.  To God there was one thing that topped the chart of importance for him and that was this: God was proving that Job loved Him and would never curse him.  And He was right.  Following the devastation, note, God also restored him.  God is in the business of tearing down and rebuilding.  And thank God!

If God had chosen to build on my spiritual foundation of 2008, it would have collapsed by now since some foundational items were out of whack.  For example, I had secret sin.  Further, my eyes weren’t fully on him.  Further yet, although I claimed He was number one, He wasn’t.  I am now fully convinced that if God had elected to pour out a financial blessing on me then, it would have both ruined me, but I also would have lost it all at some point anyways.  Why?  Here is why:

God loves us so much that He would rather bring us to nothing on earth as rather than let us enjoy complacency here and die and go to hell.

That’s right. I said ‘go to hell’.  That’s exactly where I was going.

And if you haven ‘t received Jesus, so are you.  Deal with God on this ASAP by the way.

But back to money.

If you re-read the above scripture from Luke (I have been blabbing a long time since referencing it, sorry about that) you will note that Mr. Steward was facing imminent job loss.  I suspect Mr. Steward was a bit complacent.  He was working for a rich boss who trusted he was looking out for Corporation Royale Inc.  Unfortunately, even if he wasn’t slacking, it looked like the accounts receivables were out of control and the CEO wasn’t able to get his planned trip to Hawaii.  Not cool.  This situation of facing potential job loss forced Mr. Steward to wake up and smell the coffee.  To get out of the box and think creatively and take action.  It worked.  The boss loved his new initiative and kept him on board.  He even called him ‘wise’.  I suspect Mr. Steward thought he was doing pretty well, before being called to task.

These disruptions in our lives are a form of suffering.  They typically force us to deal with the very foundations of our lives.  During these disruptions all sorts of stuff starts bubbling to the surface such as fear and anger.  I was blown away what kind of garbage started coming out of my mouth when we were crashing.  The Bible says that ‘from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks’ so if trash was coming out of my mouth, what in the world was in my heart?  Deep wickedness, apparently.  Not the love I thought was there.

And so God started burning it out of my heart and giving me this great opportunity to trust Him and only him.  Even after the business crashed, I got a job.  Lo and behold, one calendar year later, the company made some bad investments and essentially went bankrupt giving the pink slip to myself and everyone else on staff.  What? Back to zero again?

But this time I was trained! I had become more wise!  Through my own business suffering, I saw the warning signs flashing months before and prepared myself accordingly. Also, although I often talk about the hard times and the suffering of those business years, in the midst of that deep pain, I also met some of the best connections of my life who have since encouraged me and pushed me to new levels.

So why all of this suffering? Simple.  God cares more about our character than our comfort.  I read this most amazing blog post. after reading Luke 16 and doing a quick search online.  This post talks about three key things and absolutely read them in detail yourself:

  1. Self honesty
  2. Outward honesty
  3. Honesty with God

I can say that I was not getting a clean bill of goods in all these categories before my suffering, but through it, I was forced to see myself for what I was and God for who He is and as a result all three categories above have been amazingly improved.

So that brings us back to the conversation with my wife and whether or not God will just bless those who believe with financial blessings.  The answer is ‘it’s up to Him’.  What I do know is that if financial blessings come into the house of someone who is not spiritually prepared for them, I am confident that destruction will follow because God loves us so much.  Remember this: where our treasure is, there also our hearts will be.  That was a Bible reference, though I can’t remember from where.

Are we seeking first the kingdom of God? Or are we seeking the Earth’s kingdoms?  Would you build bigger storehouses if manna from heaven was overflowing out your windows, or would you go bring it to the hungry and needy?  Would you buy a nicer car or help your neighbour repair theirs?

Listen, people.  Riches are very, very dangerous.  They can land us in the flames of hell.  Lazarus was just such a one who lived in lavish comfort but forgot to care about God…  yikes.

So, remember that it’s God’s will that we love and worship him above all other things that ever might come across our short little lives. If that part is checking out healthy, then maybe, just maybe, your heart is ready to funnel the blessings of heaven to the work of the gospel on the earth.  And if He doesn’t, so be it.  Life is short and we ought be ultra thankful for these small blessings we have regardless.

I know that I’m closer today than I was before to be trusted with such things, but I’m no longer angry at God or impatient.  My daughter told me the other day “I know you love me, daddy.” and tears welled up in my eyes because this is the stuff that matters.

My heart is not in treasures but if God sees fit to fill my bank, I’m looking forward to the lives that dough can change – like how my life has been changed.

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Ready to Die?

Usually I try to focus on the humourous part of life, but sometimes life is serious.  Sometimes something jumps out at me and ‘puts me in my place’ and helps me refocus.  This quote was just such a quote.  I stopped in my tracks and thought of my family, my friends and even myself.

Take a moment to grade yourself.

Are you ready to die?

It’s not if, it’s when.

And then what?


 

“Some of you may have seen how short life is in those around you. Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? How many friends have you lying in the grave! Some of you have more friends in the grave than in this world. They were carried away as with a flood, and we are fast hastening after them. In a little while the church where you sit will be filled with new worshipers, a new voice will lead the psalm, a new man of God fill the pulpit. It is an absolute certainty that, in a few years, all of you who read this will be lying in the grave. Oh, what need, then, to fly to Christ without delay! How great a work you have to do! How short the time you have to do it in! You have to flee from wrath, to come to Christ, to be born again, to receive the Holy Spirit, to be made meet for glory. It is high time that you seek the Lord. The longest lifetime is short enough. Seek conviction of sin and an interest in Christ. Oh, satisfy me early with thy mercy, that I may rejoice and be glad all my days.” Memoirs of McCheyne

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Overcoming the ‘spirit of christmas’ with the Spirit of Christ: Part 3 in a Series: Santa versus God the Father

In the first part of this series of Overcoming the spirit of christmas with the Spirit of Christ, we took a look at whether or not God is concerned about the roots of the things we do.  For example, is it OK to have a Buddha statue in your house or do yoga.  In part two we took a look at the christmas tree and I made the bold and very crap-storm-causing comment where I compared the ‘sacred’ christmas tree to a satanic pentagram.  It is here where I apparently really ruffled some feathers and made some people start to question whether or not I serve the God of the Bible.  Needless to say, I find this all theologically stimulating.  I find it most interesting how those who are coming down hardest on me for ‘not being Christian’ are those who have not attended a church in recent history nor were they even aware of Jeremiah 10.  It’s ok.  I’ve been a believer for nearly 20 years and I had no clue until about 2012.  And then it jumped out at me.  And the main issue here is this: once something is presented to you and your conscience has to make a decision, it is at that point where you are also accountable.  To support this point, the other night I drove into a drinking and driving road block.  I went in boldly and when the police officer asked me if I had consumed any alcohol *today*, I was troubled.  I answered ‘no’ but after I left I was convicted that I had lied.  Because I *did* consume half of one beer about 2 hours before.  The very question from the police officer brought the issue to the forefront of my conscience and I chose to violate it for the sake of convenience.  I believe today I failed that test and should have owned up to the half a beer. I bet he still would have let me go through.  And so whether or not you *did* know about this christmas tree stuff no longer matters. You know now and you have to do your own due diligence and live with your conscience.  Same goes with knowledge of Jesus.  I have told you personally and in my blogs that Jesus is the only way to heaven.  You can choose to deny that or not, but now you cannot stand before God telling Him that you didn’t know.  Your conscience is now at work and you should listen.

And that was just my preamble to this part! I’ll try to keep the rest more concise.

Today I’m going to shoot another ‘sacred cow’.  Feel free to stop reading.  If you thought my post about the christmas tree ruffled your feathers, this one will make you want to draw blood.  You will either love me for pointing this out, or you will want to see me beaten like a mule for ‘ruining your christmas’.  Either or, I’m only here for a few more years so I’ve just got to be me.

First, let’s find the similarities between God the Father (God of the Bible) and santa claus:

  • both pronounce judgement on evil
  • both reward good behaviour
  • both have supernatural power
  • both have a form of omnipresence (they know what you’ve done)
  • Both have songs sung in their praise or adoration
  • Both require sacrifices (cookies and blood of animals)
  • Both teach obedience to parents
  • Both have servants or helpers
  • Both require faith and faith alone to believe in your heart

Now let’s contrast them:

  • Santa has no mercy. You will pay for your evil.
  • Santa forces his way into your house. God requires an invitation.
  • Santa taught to children by society where God is taught by parents (if taught at all)
  • One is the truth.  The other is a lie (you can’t call it a ‘fairy tale’ because you tell kids that it’s real with a straight face)

And I’m sure there are many other great items you could add to this list.  As always, I welcome your help developing this article over the years.

Here are some of the reasons why people (even well meaning believers) continue the santa claus story:

  • It’s just for fun.  You will ruin kids’ fun
  • They will feel alone and different in school
  • you will take away their magic
  • they may rebel against you and go even more full-bore towards these things later
  • and please add more if you have heard them

I couldn’t help but think of a scripture as I was writing that list above.  Jesus said something very clearly

I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. (John 17:14)

Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus even imply that we are supposed to fit into this world.  As you can see from just this one scripture above (and there are many, many more) He went further to prepare us for the fact that we are *not going to fit in*.  By letting our children go full bore into a lie or pagan stuff, just so they can fit in with the people that hate God is not a very wise choice.  By following the scriptures from an early age, they will be much better prepared to deal with the imminent experience of feeling alone in their quest for righteousness in a wicked world.

There is a second problem, though.  If you let them follow the worlds system (santa and such) when they finally do ‘graduate’ and figure out that dad ate the cookies and and the gifts also came from their parents, well, what does that do to your credibility as parents?  I suppose you could say that it helped them quickly realize that even family members will be the cause of large disappointments, and just hope that the disappointments stop at this one…

Yet there is a third problem.  What does this do to the children’s view of God and the world around them?  Hmm.  It turns out santa won’t punish me for wrongdoing.  And santa is also not the root of rewards for doing good.  Hmm.  This story sounds a lot like that Bible story I heard when I was a kid.  Maybe… maybe this God they tell me about is just another story they told me.  Maybe it too will one day go ‘poof’ in my face.  I don’t want to be the last kid in class believing in santa claus so maybe I better sack this ‘God stuff’ early because after all, only uneducated fools like those kids who believe in santa would believe in a God you can’t see and who rewards us in the afterlife.  Walking on water?  That sounds about as far fetched as a fat man coming through a chimney!

You see, this is not about santa.

This is not about a tree.

It’s about faith and where we put it and how we convey it.

It’s about the very core of our integrity and the legacy we are leaving our children.

Yet, I conclude this part by re-iterating this: I’m not writing all this to ‘kill christmas’.  I’m writing this because I care about Truth and the name of my God more than anything else in the world.  I care more about how boldly I can walk into the throneroom of God at the end of this life, more than I do about what you think about me and my position.  This series is about establishing my position as a servant and child of God and standing for truth.

 

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Why Not Getting Rich Quick is Good

This revelation has been a long time in the making.  There is a lot of teaching out there in the world that goes something like this:

  • richer is better
  • riches will increase happiness
  • getting rich quicker is better than getting rich slowly
  • he who has more riches is has accomplished more in this world
  • the amount of riches is equal to your value on the earth
  • and so on

Unbelievably (although not really if you read Revelations and other prophecies because it’s predicted in vivid technicolour), many of these teachings have crept into the church.  They look like this:

  • God wants you rich
  • the more riches you have, the more blessed you are
  • there is a direct correlation between amount of riches and your faith level

Essentially, it’s the same story in the church and out which is more than somewhat disturbing.

But I was victim to it.  I came from a path of seeking riches and fame to the foot of the cross where I met Jesus.  I was immediately greeted by teachings in the church that supported this way of being so I was never really led to question it.

Until today.

Today God started opening my eyes about riches and within a few seconds of searching I came to this page which summarizes the entire book of Proverbs and what it has to say about riches.

First, the book of Proverbs is, for all intensive purposes, God as Wisdom speaking to us and imparting the way we ought to live if we want to be successful both in the earth and the afterlife.  It’s bar none the most practical book for daily living and building up a good foundation.

Somehow I glossed over the scriptures on riches until today when this one jumped off the page and whack-slapped me left, right and up.

“He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall overcome him. ” – Proverbs 28:22

Now in the King Wayne Version (KWV)

“A dude who rushes to be rich for the sake of being rich is an evil dude, and didn’t stop too think that poverty is about to run up from behind him, trip him, stomp on him, and then body slam him (followed up with a whack-slap while he’s down)”

Hmm.

This confirms everything in my life.  I have been seeking riches for some other motive that wasn’t for the glory of God.  In addition to that, I’ve been always frustrated why the path has been horribly ‘slow’ and full of much painful learning.  I have often questioned God’s presence in the midst of it.

Slowly, I am coming to the ‘full’ revelation that the slow and painful path is in fact the way to true riches, not just spiritually but also in the world. And this makes all the sense in the world.  If God had’ve dropped a bag of gold on my lap five years ago, I would have made hasty and incorrect decisions that would have not been seasoned with wisdom.  Now that I used friends and family money to lose it all, I am going through a long period of having nothing extra.  And this is good.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Nothing could have been better for my soul than this intense suffering.

Wide is the road that leads to destruction.

Many go down it.

Narrow is the road that leads to life.

Few find it.

Conclusion of this matter is as follows:

  1. The slow way is the better way to riches
  2. The hard way is the better way
  3. The narrow path is the better path
  4. Above all, if our motive is not for the glory of God, we need to get that part right first
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Should a Believer be Active or Passive Against Injustice and Evil?

If something unfair, unjust, or evil happens, should we simply pray for the power to forgive the evildoer or should we take action against the evil?  This is the question I was in sudden need of exploring after a friend of mine called into question the motives behind where I was spending some of my time and whether or not the work I am doing is worth it.  His comment was, “The Bible says to forgive and move on.  God will take care of them.”

The Bible says to forgive and move on.  God will take care of them.

I am in a law suit against a group of people I believe operate their business  in a very wrong way that violates ethics and morals and that has direct and negative impact on the people we know and the communities we live in.  I have see the results of their style of business which includes, but is not limited to: depression, anxiety, broken families and shattered marriages, extreme financial hardship, increase in suicidal language, hopelessness, anger, fear and more.  No one would every associate these kind of results with the chain that is causing them.  After experiencing enough of the pain myself, and discovering that I was not alone in this unneeded suffering, I decided it was right to take visible and public action against it.  The comment from my friend made me stop in my tracks and check myself to make sure I was at peace with my direction.

During my personal quiet time today, I came across this article in a Catholic publication about non-violence which is a must read.   This quote in particular jumped out at me:

Nonviolence is directed “against forces of evil rather than against persons who happen to be doing the evil. It is evil that the nonviolent resister seeks to defeat, not the persons victimized by evil.”

It is true that I am not doing a rally, or a march or a boycott, although we most certainly entertained the idea.  By doing this, we would damage the franchisees of the brand during the process who are already suffering enough.

Filing a lawsuit is the next best non-violent option in an attempt to bring about justice and expose wrong-doings.  A lawsuit, if picked up by the media, will shed light on darkness and bring about enough potential damage on the wrongdoer that they may be forced to look at their ways and hopefully even change them.  Everyone knows that a plaintiff in a lawsuit, if they even get their legal fees back, has succeeded and that oftentimes the lawyers are the ones who end up with the payout.   For this reason there must accompany every lawsuit a purpose that supercedes the cut-and-dry black-and-white letter of the filing.  There must exist, with every lawsuit, a desire to see injustice resolved – not just for the plaintiff but for every person who follows.

There must exist, with every lawsuit, a desire to see injustice resolved – not just for the plaintiff but for every person who follows.

The courts have one very useful feature built into them:  once the documents have been filed, they become part of the public record and can be discussed freely in public without fear of being sued for saying something personal. This one key feature is the reason why I am encouraged to carry on and spend my time on this.  I hope that one day someone will come across this document, read the details, and steer clear of the path of destruction that my family and I were forced to walk.

The crux of the matter is this: your ‘why’ that powers the battle must be based on good intentions for others, not ill will for the wrong-doer.

I hope that the people who have wronged us and others change.  I most genuinely hope that they fall to their knees and meet Jesus.  All things are possible.  Jesus died for them as much as He did for me.  It actually intrigues me to no end when I think of what their lives and business would look like if they were dedicated to serving God.  I hope that through this lawsuit that all parties experience an amazing personal spiritual revolution and revival.  But that is up to them and God.  Not even God Himself will force them to their knees – yet.

So, between now and then, I believe that I am called to action.  It’s a kind of ‘mission’ if you will.  I feel that I am well suited to participate in the process of bringing this to resolution – and one that will bring lasting positive change to the community where I live.

But what about my friend’s comment about what the Bible says?  Interestingly, it doesn’t have much at all on the direct topic of courts and faith.  It has a clear scripture that Christians are not to sue other Christians, it also shows that the courts exist to deal with the matters of this life, but it doesn’t give much if any teaching on this.  But I’m not concerned because the deeper issues are always those of motivation and heart condition.  With any issue in this life like, whether to sue someone, whether to buy a business, whether to get married, whether to accept a job in another country, etc, etc, are all matters of motivation and heart condition.  Instead of asking myself whether or not I should be suing these people, I ask myself these questions daily:

  • Am I at peace, or am I fighting against God’s will here?
  • Am I doing this out of vengeance or to bring about justice?
  • Will others stand to gain from this or just me (is this selfish or otherwise)?
  • What is the ROI on my time? Is it worth it?
  • and so on

I have perfect peace that I am doing the right thing.  Even though I have spent a lot of time on this process, I have learned innumerable useful life skills and have become a consultant to quite a few people already to whom I can pay it forward.  I am fully confident I am on the right path and I sleep like a baby every night.  Much better than before the lawsuit was started, in fact.  Furthermore, since starting the lawsuit, I have made many  new friends I would not have otherwise met.

So check your heart.

And fight for justice wherever you can in your sphere of influence.

Satan wins when you stand around and do nothing about evil.

 

 

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Knowing my God, my Lord, my Creator

Even though I’m Wayne, I need to be frank.

I greatly disappoint myself and regularly.  I often feel that I’m a failure husband, dad, youth group teacher, son to my earthly parents on both sides and a neglectful friend.  But worse than all of those is my feeling that I am a failure child of my Creator God Almighty.

Yet all of the former feelings of failure are linked to the latter, which all stems from my relationship with God.

With each passing day (I’ve recently noticed wrinkles forming on my forehead and creases at the corner of my eyes in addition to my almost-completely grey head) one thing is becoming more and more obvious: at the end of this extremely short life, nothing else will matter other than my relationship with my God.  Do I know Jesus?  Do I really know Jesus?  Does He know me?

People throw the idea of ‘knowing God’ around in a similar sense as ‘being one with god’ which is a popular term in new age religions.  The same people who say this like to say, “I’m spiritual but I’m not religious” – yet when asked to further explain this seemingly exciting status are unable to say much more.

My Sikh [will I ever stop mixing up the ‘h’ and ‘k’ when I spell that word?] friend – whom I do truly call a friend – likes to speak to me of ‘god as divine energy’ or ‘god is everywhere’.  On this Wiki page about the Sikh faith, it presents the idea of being able to choose any path to end up at the same god.  It says that god has infinite names yet is somehow still ‘knowable’.  All of this believing yet they do not accept the idea of a ‘personal God’ in the way that believing Christians do (I use the term ‘believing Christians’ to differentiate true disciples of Jesus from those who just go to a church on Sunday to massage their conscience).  These ‘any-god-is-ok’ ideas are quite attractive to the person who is not a spiritually dry man walking through the endless desert of life.  Talking about a god and trying to know a god sounds great.  But here’s the thing:

I need to know God *now*.

My soul cannot wait any longer.  It is thirsty beyond belief – yea, even to the point of death – and though all these discussions are intellectually stimulating and the debates exciting, my soul needs living water.  And when I drink this water I shall never thirst again but it will instead be a well of water springing up into everlasting life (John 4).

Man, I’m thirsty these days.

Yet, though I know the Truth, I, like many other believing Christians, have been deceived by the world and its plethora of offerings of temporal satisfaction.  I have allowed the things of this short life to pull me away from my one true love – Jesus.

I have recently been thinking about my salvation experience back in 1998.  I was so empty and spiritually thirsty.  I tried everything the world had to offer – all those carnal pleasures – and nothing left me satisfied for more than a very short period of time. I was always thirsty again and increasingly.  I was like a man drinking salt water.  I kept trying to tape up the hole in my spiritual bucket but the tape would soon give way and my bucket would dry.  I didn’t like the world or myself in those days.

But then I met Jesus.  And when I’m talking ‘met’ I mean ‘met’.  He moved into my life and poured His sweet Spirit into my parched soul and it was like the first rain on a cracked dry soil.

I began to rejuvenate and hope arrived.  Hope.  Man, how I love hope.  Without hope we answer “Same ol’, same ol” when someone asks us how we’re doing.  On Mondays we answer, ‘Well, it’s Monday.” with a grumpy-pants face and, ‘Yay! It’s Friday!” with a happy face on Fridays and then repeat the dismal cycle.  It reminds me of my friend Adrian’s theory of the drink-work cycle: people work hard from Monday to Friday and then spend all their money on booze on the weekend to try to forget the workweek leaving them with no money on Monday and having to work hard again.  But hope – true hope – makes today a new, fresh, and exciting day.  What will God do today?  Where will He take me?  Who will he put in my path?  Who can I share this good news with today?  Hope is so precious.

Strength came, too.  When suffering, hardship, or general challenges came, I didn’t get bitter and hopeless.  God kept my chin up and gave me joy in the midst of tribulation.  I was much more bold back then.  I would preach the good news from a street corner or on a bus.  Give me a mic and I would tell you about Jesus and what He did for me.

But then something happened.  I let the distractions of this earth slowly creep into the time that I used to dedicate to my relationship with my God and my Saviour.  Then strength to resist sin became more difficult and eventually sin occurred – just as the Bible explains it in James chapter 1:

14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Then guilt followed the sin and it became yet more difficult to come back to my Holy and Perfect God.  It’s an age-old trap set up by the enemy of God, the devil.  I took the bait and that was that.

But thankfully, I’m parched again and I know what’s going on.  I know that there is just one thing that will fix everything: knowing God.  And you can’t tell me otherwise.  As my first pastor Randy said “A man with an experience in God is not at the mercy of a man with a theory.”  He’s right.  I’ve tasted a hint of the sweet presence of God Almighty and I want it again.

So what are the components of knowing God?  This magazine article from In Touch Ministries is absolutely excellent.  Read it if you have time.  Here is a video sermon on the same topic by the same people if you forgot how to read.  But the summary of the story is easy.  How do you get to know anyone?  You give them your time and your heart.  If you give them your time without your heart, there is no intimacy.  If you give them your heart and no time, there is no substance.  Think of the relationship between man and wife: why do some cuddle and hold hands when they go out while others read the newspaper?  What happened to the intimacy and the desire? Probably a lack of dedication to the relationship, I’m guessing.

And so it is with God, the Creator of us and all things.  He made us unlike any other created being so that He could have a relationship with us.

Even though I type this seemingly heartfelt blog, I’m giving my time to the blog and not God. I need to stop typing and go and fall on my face and praise Him for the wonderful things He has done.  I need to speak to Him about my financial struggles and ask Him to pour out His Spirit on me so I can endure to see the recovery.  I need to pray for protection for my family.  I need to talk to my God and get this relationship with Him back on track.

I don’t want to walk into heaven as someone who knew ‘about God’.  I want a real and intimate relationship with Him.  Nothing less will do. I don’t want to be one of those people who think of God as ‘somewhere out there’ – and that’s exactly how my relationship with God was getting.  But no longer.

I’m so thirsty.

The alternative is death, but I want life – badly.

Excuse me while I end this blog post so that I can go to my Heavenly Father through Jesus who made it possible.

 

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