LIFE IN THE SPIRIT

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Location: Phila Metro, Pennsylvania, United States

Tentmaking Evangelist (Architect). An Evangelist with the Anchor Bay Evangelistic Association (non-denominational). Co-Founder of Kingdom Gospel Ministries, a ministry now in its 31st year with a mission to reconcile people of different racial, ethnic, and economic situations, and the producer of two weekly radio programs - a Sunday morning verse-by-verse Bible Study on Radio Delaware Valley and a weekly radio drama on the Wilkins Radio network. He also has archived many, many programs on the Internet. John is also a PA/NJ Architect with his own practice in its 38th year working on a wide variety of projects. Acutely interested in politics since a teenager with many articles published over the last 50 years and served as a guest on a Talk Radio show discussing race relations and on It's Your Call TV show with Lynn Doyle dealing with the subject of interethnic marriage.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

ARE YOU TAKING DEPRAVITY 101?


Numerous people I talk with today are deeply disillusioned with the church.  I spoke at length with a lady I know. She and her husband go to a church. She said it was a "nice" church. If you go on their website, you will see all manner of wholesome activities.  Yet, though she cannot explain why, she is dissatisfied.  She wants something more. She is not alone.  Person after person tells me they cannot find a good church.  I know what they mean.  I have been to dozens of churches of all stripes, but all of which would say they believe the Bible, require salvation by faith in Christ, etc. We are not talking about "The Church of Your Choice" where you can believe anything you want or nothing you want, or live any kind of way you want.

Or ARE we? There is a book called THE CHRISTIAN ATHEIST.  Pastor Craig Groeschel details that Christians, despite their professions of faith, often live as if there is no God.  I know what he means - I see it ALL the time.  It seems the stronger the outward testimony and the more apparent spiritual gifting there is, the worse it gets. A woman talking in tongues and exalted by the leader at a gathering where they asked her to pray (and boy did she pray), it was hard to put any stock in it, because she freely admitted she paid the teachers at her Christian Academy under the table. Contractors - even those who sing and dance and prophesy - will work without permits when asked or when they just don't feel like going through the hassle. And if you say something castigate YOU for being a "legalist"! Romans 13 bites the dust! These rules are there to protect the public. Christians think nothing of taking 20% to 50% of their time on the job on church or personal pursuits - a $13,000 to $32,500 annual theft from their employer assuming a $50,000 annual salary with a 30% benefits package. AND THEN WE ARE ASKED TO PRAY FOR THEIR BOSS WHO ISN’T INTERESTED IN CHRIST!

I witnessed a pastor conspiring with his building committee to lie to the zoning board.  Christian hairdressers set up shop in their home even when zoning laws prohibit it. They are not only breaking that law, but may not even have the professional license, probably don’t pay taxes, etc. And on it goes.  A Christian Architect routinely (and illegally) stamps drawings of unqualified hacks - pastors love him because he is dirt cheap, but the work is horrifically substandard and God is hardly glorified.

We are slipping into depravity my friends!  I belong to a Christian men's fellowship group.  I have heard off-color jokes more than once, with reproof falling on deaf ears. I hear people talk about how meaningful an R-rated movie was. I see people unable to maintain a basic daily discipline of prayer, Bible study and communion with Christ have no problem finding time to race vehicles, watch football games between teams they don't even care about, or watch entertainment with unmarried people in bed and with foul language - even using the name of Christ in vain.  Is this depravity or isn't it?  I even hear supposedly “spirit-filled” Christians using the “S” word and refuse reproof.

I heard a preacher tell me that I could not trust the Old Testament chronology.  Seriously! I guess if God couldn't get that straight how on earth could he remember every word and every thought of every person in the world at the judgment?   Or how could he remember who was truly his?  A VERY low view of God my friends. Well, when I hear that from someone, I usually sooner or later hear that Genesis is an allegory, the flood was a local one that did not cover the whole earth, the miracles were illustrations, and finally that Christ only rose spiritually from the dead.  That is the slippery slope my friends.  Thankfully that guy hasn’t gone down all those slopes yet, but he recently expressed ambiguity on the role of women in terms of church leadership which is oh so clear in the scriptures.  Perhaps he will make a course correction, which I truly hope since on many issues he truly is an anointed leader, but I am hearing more and more from what appear to be sound leaders, “On the one hand, but on the other hand…” and usually on one hand is the clear teaching of the Bible that is politically incorrect and on the other hand is the compromised position taught in MOST seminaries and Christian institutions of higher learning.  I am here to tell you that I believe the Holy Spirit more than that man or any other men who can’t seem to simply totally take the entire Bible at face value. Remember, ALL SCRIPTURE is given by inspiration of God. The Old Testament chronology was written by the Holy Spirit, and believe me, he knows. 

I hear endless corruption of the word of God.  I saw a site blatantly dealing with all the above and more, and boy, was it hostile.  It turned our to be an Islamic site that was promoting a religion that originated from the teaching of a demon to Mohammed. Yes, my friends, angels that fell are demons, and they love to start new religions.  The Mormons. The Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Seventh Day Adventists and even William Branham, who was a false prophet and whose ideas formed the base of the apostate Word-Faith theology of our time. He seemed to start out OK, and a man I greatly respect, Ern Baxter, preached often with him on the road. However, the deviations came early, but did not come into full bloom until later in his life, when evil was much more apparent. That is why we have to be so sensitive to even what may first appear as relatively minor deviations from total belief in God’s word.  Once we make a change in course, no matter how subtle it might look, we will be far afield before we know it. If you need to go straight, and you go just 1 second off (a second is 1/360 of one degree for those of you who are math-challenged!), an ALMOST IMPERCEPTIBLE AMOUNT, you will be far afield before you know it.
We often wonder how someone went off.  They likely did not take a hard left turn. They simply made a compromise that few people picked up, and then everything was built on that over time. If you hear someone deviate, be a true friend and call them on it!

If you want to include Spirit Guides as angels, you can add the New Age to the mix of religions started by fallen angels.  We are told by the Holy Spirit that even if an angel gives us a different gospel, we are not to listen. To believe the devil over God is corruption.  You probably do not follow any of those people.  However, Satan is the author of rebellion against God, and if you reject ANYTHING that the Holy Spirit has written, you are in rebellion yourself, and you have become corrupted and depraved!
Some people forbid the speaking in tongues. God says, FORBID NOT!  If someone rejects what God has said on that, what is to stop them from any number of other deviations?

DEPRAVITY is defined as a state of moral corruption. It does not have to an orgy or a Satanic ritual to be depraved. I titled this post Depravity 101 because Christians start with what some might call a "little" corruption. An "Introductory Course" if you will.  The problem is, it grows, and it grows FAST. It is progressive and once unleashed will be like a seed that when full blown will lead to moral destruction.  One sin will send a person to hell. It does not take an ocean of sin to make one depraved. All if takes is a single deviation from the perfect moral character demonstrated in Jesus Christ.

Some things begin with what many people think is a minor issue – or not an issue at all. Many congregants have become accustomed to being berated to follow the practice of "tithing". In reality, what is taught and practised today was UNKNOWN in the early church until a few hundred years later the then apostate church instituted it as a tax to build cathedrals. In the Old Testament, it was based upon food, and there were TWO tithes a year plus one every THREE years. 23.33% in all.  Not hard to do with your crop – 1 out of four strawberries or 24 out of 100 ears of corn. Harder to do when people are compensated so many different ways. We are NOT to put ourselves under the bondage of the law any more. It was our GUARDIAN, as Paul says in Galations 4. We are now under liberty. We are to give according to the need AND AS EACH MAN DETERMINES IN HIS OWN HEART AND NOT UNDER COMPULSION.  Sometimes that need may move us to give 100% as in the book of Acts, but again, as Peter said, it is voluntary, so be sure to tell that to your left wing friends who say the Bible teaches socialism or the forced redistribution of wealth.


Our property is ours to do with as we decide, and if we sell it, the proceeds are ours to dispense.  It is wonderful when massive gifts are given into the kingdom, but  all that is supposed to stem from the heart, not the whims of others or from those who still teach selectively from the Old Covenant law.

Worst part is, the spirit that is behind legalism exposes itself - most pastors get only 30% to 50% of their compensation in the check.  Huge benefits packages may make the true compensation of someone getting $30,000 gross in the check more like $75,000 when including the housing allowance, car allowance, pension, health insurance, etc. etc.  That would mean that for the pastor to practice what he is preaching, he would be giving $7,500 out of his take-home pay of about $22,500.  If your pastor preaches tithing, ask him if HE himself does that! If not, he should not be asking you to! After all, most people have to pay for all of those "perks" out of their take-home pay - particularly if they are 1099 people or have a small business.  Then, of course, many churches teach that missions and the building fund should be "on top of the tithe".  People who live off 1099 pay DOUBLE social security. I have asked people who proudly say they tithe whether they tithe on the employer paid portion of social security, company paid health insurance and pension contributions, etc.   NOT ONE HAS SAID THEY DO AND SEEM SHOCKED I ASKED.  Yet, as a businessman, I have been told to tithe on my GROSS RECEIPTS, which are a lot higher than what I get as gross pay, since I have to pay others and for the building and insurance and what not, and I have to pay my own personal insurances and retirement and double social security and everything else.  In some businesses, that "tithe" would be greater than the owner's paycheck!  Most people do not understand anything about business! It is often true when people try to legislate instead of following what God has written on our hearts. But God does!

The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write that we are indebted to fulfill the entire law if we demand any of it. The cherry-picking of Old Testament ideas that suit the finance committee is in direct opposition to the Freedom Christ won for us on the cross. You may well say, get off that soapbox. And I will!  Yet, I conclude that topic by saying that the law of the Spirit has set us free from the law of sin and death - oops - that was the Holy Spirit in Romans 8:2! 

But there are deeper areas to go to. 

People who seem spiritual in unguarded moments make nasty racial comments or lump everyone in a group together because of a heinous crime committed by one person.  Churches appoint rich men to the Board and honor the rich more than the poor when they come into the assembly. James wrote that if he are partial, we are guilty of everything. The moral corruption of partiality and racism is a cancer that grows and grows and grows.

There are many who prophesy things that aren't true with no accountability. I am still waiting for payment on a contract by a self-declared prophetess of God. How about all those people who told you to buy canned goods and prepare for the worst when Y2K was coming around?  I remember Pastor J. R. Damiani saying Y2k would be no big deal and not to worry about it - but he was in the minority.  And boy did he smell like a rose when he was proven right!  Yet people STILL give millions to those who falsely prophesied.  It is not just Harold Camping who was falsely prophesying. Almost every major ministry in America that claims to have a prophetic voice has a deeply spotted record. 

We are not supposed to be afraid of people who are not true prophets of God!   The true test of a prophet is that what he says comes to pass!  Yet I read an article recently about the fact that they were not always right nor should we expect them to be!  50% would represent the flip of a coin.  Would 60% establish one as a true prophet of God?  I don’t think so.   Answer me this - How many times was Enoch wrong when he prophesied? How many times was Moses wrong when he prophesied? How about Samuel? Or  Elijah or Elisha? Or Daniel? How many times was John the Baptist wrong? How many times was Simeon wrong?  How many times was Jesus wrong? (and this is for free – many Christians get offended about folks calling Jesus a prophet.  Well, I say he was one, and we should read what he predicted and prepare ourselves accordingly.  There will be no egg on Christ’s face. Look at all the prophecies he made in the New Testament and the many that have been already fulfilled.  Watch out for those YET to be fulfilled!) Well?

People are talking about the latter rain superseding the first rain, about us doing the "greater works", yet the self-appointed "prophets" are consistently inconsistent! Read the denunciation of those who mistake the seemingly spectacular for simply showing the love of Christ by Jesus Christ himself in the book of Matthew!

The cancer of rebellion goes into the very heart of the church.  I have a relative who was stalwart against abortion.  Stalwart against homosexuality. The relative voted accordingly and had little tolerance for sin.   However, partiality and spiritually compromised preachers and companions entered the picture. All of sudden, those were not deal breakers anymore.  Progressively, more and more evil was accepted. The person falsely prophesies regularly now and refused all rebuke.  (Remember that the word of the prophets is subject to the prophets – anyone who refused to have their prophecies judged is in rebellion against God.   Yet those alleged to be stars in the church say what they wish and it is accepted no matter how absurd or inconsistent with scripture it is.)

In an interview, a close associate if the false prophet and a source for much of the deception complained that the execution of convicted cop-killer Troy Davis last month was unjust. The false prophet, with no knowledge of the case, one with many witnesses, one of the most clear-cut cases ever as confirmed by the Supreme Court, immediately parroted that absurd position.   How can a person migrate from being a Holy-Ghost-filled, Bible-believing Christian pursuing righteousness with no tolerance for sin into a person who justifies evil of all kinds in the name of righteousness???

It does not happen overnight. It starts by listening to people who falsely prophesy or by taking Wite-Out (that's a brand name - my spell checker is working1) to a portion of the scriptures. They may erase "I will set no evil thing before my eyes" or if a woman "Submit to Your husband in everything". In terms of ministry, I was impressed by the fact that The Church of the Open Door near where we live published a list of qualifications for elders and deacons.  They noted they might check with the candidate's employer.   We might not have so much corruption in leadership if all churches did that. A leader is supposed to be well thought of by the world. Men who divorce their Christian wives for “incompatibility” and remarry lead many ministries in direct disobedience to the Word.  Men who LOVE money are in leadership and exalted instead of excluded as the Bible mandates.  And it is not just men. You ladies might get mad at me now, but your fight is with the Holy Spirit, not me.  So many women erase all the qualifications for leadership the Holy Spirit wrote because they think God called them. (I have not met even ONE man or woman not qualified for those positions by one or more Biblical criteria who was not deceived on some level - yet many SUBMIT to someone unqualified to be a pastor, elder, or deacon). 

People become like those they follow. IF you are submitted to a divorced leader, a pastor or elder with the love of money, a pastor who is not given to hospitality,  a leader who cannot control his own children, or who cannot control his drinking or appetite, or to a woman despite any external virtues, you will likely become depraved on SOME level.  And not often the same level.

Let me be very frank. I have a relative whose father became a homosexual.  The father had led his son to Christ before his deep rebellion and about-face concerning Christ.  The boy sees his Dad in another part of the country periodically.  I would not recommend that. But he did.  He stayed two weeks with the man and his male "wife" (the oxymoron of homosexual marriage is legal and celebrated in California).  While the boy is straight and an exemplary young man, he developed problems in the part of the body that often suffers from homosexual activity. Highly unusual for such a young man.   We are in spiritual warfare, my friends.  The self-styled “prophet” relative I mentioned above often visited a church that is deeply compromised by partiality and has expressed a tolerance for wickedness in the name of compassion and being open so people can come to Christ. I HEARD WITH MY OWN EARS the deep compromise of the pastor, who once would never have uttered such things. By the way, it was the same pastor who conspired to lie to the zoning board many years ago. This stuff really is progressive. You CANNOT put yourself under that.  It WILL affect you in ways you cannot imagine.   That pastor is still hostile to me because I called him on what he was doing.  Many left his church, but he still has a fair number of people there, and what I hear from some is amazing.   Take GREAT CARE when choosing where to feed your soul.

My friends, this is an epidemic. It is not always at that level.  But the simple fact of the matter is that those who love Christ and who are in intimate communion with him have radar for deviations and compromise.  They cannot always put their finger on it, but they know something is either missing or off.  Remember, there are sins of OMISSION as well as COMMISSION. To fail to give a cup of cold water is a sin such as is refusing to help a brother in the church who is in need when you have the means to help him.

When I was in college, I was taking a computer programming course. Fortran IV, Cobol, Pascal, and machine language.  It was an overload course and it was bringing me down. I dropped it. Good thing. I NEVER would have used it.  When personal computers came out, I bought a Mac, and if I wanted to program anything (which I didn't and still don't), I would get "C".  They have macros in Excel, so all those programming languages simply weren’t needed. 

My friends, the way to drop the course I call DEPRAVITY 101 is to simply NEVER COMPROMISE with the devil.  If he tells you to call in sick when you are well, tell him to flee.  If you are tempted to watch a titillating program on teenage prostitutes "so you can minister to them better", tell the devil to flee.  If you are tempted to surf the net looking for a used car when you are supposed to be doing accounts receivable for your boss, tell the devil to flee. If someone says they have a great joke and you see that look in their eye or the lilt in their voice, tell the devil to flee, or if you are tired of saying that, excuse yourself to go to the bathroom.

Romans 12:9 in the NIV states: Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

We must not be afraid to hate evil. God does!  I have a post on that, actually.   Hate can be Godly if we hate what he hates.  The problem is, our hate often comes from our own carnality, not from his holiness.  IF we are close to God, we will love what he loves, and hate what he hates.  If we think we can out-love God, we are sadly mistaken. 

So in closing, my friends, leave no room for the devil.  If you are just beginning "Depravity 101", drop the course. We are not to tolerate ANY moral corruption. We are to be holy not only in body, but in mind.  Not only in action, but in intent. We are to be like Christ, and in him there is NO darkness at all!

SHEEP OR GOAT?

There is a time coming that will separate the sheep from the goats.  The goats will be entertainment-centered people with no real burden for the lost.  Yes, they may reach out once in a while to salve their conscience, but they will never turn the world upside down.  When they think of heaven, they think of dear old mom and dad or grandma and grandpa or perhaps a child who died young. Seeing Jesus is an asterisk.  They honor the Lord by giving him worship on Sundays and a sacrificial; offering, but otherwise their lives aren’t much different from Mormons.  They eschew going to bars or ribald entertainment. They do not curse and they support family-friendly causes.


They believe what they believe and are not easily persuaded when God’s ways are described to them.  Some like spiritual power, and may appear to be able to heal and cast out devils, but in fact they have no knowledge of God.  These folks will all take a very hard fall when they explain to the Lord how great they are but Jesus simply says, “Depart from me, you workers of iniquity – I never knew you!

On the other hand, there are sheep. Sheep who are willing to graze in the field. People who are willing to be shepherded. They have no dreams and ambitions other than totally pleasing the Lord Christ. They ask him about everything and take nothing for granted. They do not count our their giving but simply give it if there is a need they can help fill. The do not command Christ or demand he keep his word. Rather they inquire of the Lord and do his bidding. They revere fellow soldiers in the Army of the Lord and will freely die for them. They endure hardness and do not complain when tested. They are loyal to Christ and never allow for ANY other religion to claim equality with God’s religion. For them, to live IS Christ, to die IS gain. They hold nothing tightly except their faith in God and in his precious one and only son, Jesus Christ. They are 100% loyal to him and enjoy talking to him throughout the day and night and seek to make his name and glories known.

Are you a goat or a sheep?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

WHO IS EVOLVING?

So often when people think of evolution, they think millions of years ago in accordance with the claims of secular scientists who follow Darwin. Some others, though, when they hear the word, think about how our society is evolving (or devolving in some cases). Things do change. No one denies that. In fact, Biblical creationists like myself have no problem with the idea of evolution in terms of change. If you go on Elfreth's Alley in Philadelphia, you will see proof that people used to be a lot shorter than they are now. Low doorways and short beds were fine for folks back then, but my 6'-3" frame demands more. 

Where we diverge from secular evolutionists is that we still have our marbles and reject the absurd idea of molecules-to-man evolution.  It simply is beyond credible, and if Christians had been the ones who came up with the idea, we would be laughed at a much as poor Pat Robertson was after he goofed and said that spouses of people with Alzheimer's disease could divorce their spouse to be with someone else. 

Alas, the world believes the absurd and then tries to be the thought police in banning all discussion of reasonable alternatives. Yet Christians unable to think independently and totally trust the Holy Spirit who wrote Genesis are more and more embracing “theistic evolution” on their own!  Have they ever considered what one thoughtful evolutionist said? He maintained that the evolutionary process was so wasteful, random, chaotic, and cruel that if God was in charge of it, he would not be kind of God that anyone would want to pray to!   I agree with that evolutionist in his assessment. God did NOT bring the world to be in such a fashion that is so opposite to his core attributes!   He created it quickly and lovingly and thoughtfully, totally in confluence with his character, just like the scriptures say.

Yes, things change and evolve – plants change, animals change, we change, but never into another kind and never apart from the watchful eyes of God. Natural selection happens, and happens a lot, but GOD numbers the hairs on our heads and notices if one tiny sparrow has a mishap. God made everything perfect and sin entered the world when man sinned and not even one minute - let alone millions of years - before!

We have seen simultaneously in our own culture and in other cultures evolution and devolution at the same time.  In the natural world, most mutations are not beneficial.  In the cultural and church worlds, it is shockingly similar. While there are greater sensitivities and genuine progress in some areas - such as labor saving devices, more leisure, less restriction on what a person can become, and wonderful Bible study aids and diversities of worship in the church, we also see a sea-change devolving of sexual mores, honesty, a willingness to sacrifice for others and the Lord, and many other areas.  People are viewing God more and more as their servant and not their master. They believe God has to make it pay for them to follow him. Despite the massive improvements in communication, the Internet, and cheap books, Christians study the Bible less and less, preferring to watch showmen on TV rather than getting to know God for themselves in intimate fashion. 

As a church, we seem to be devolving toward what is pictured in revelation - a church that has lost its love; a church that is proud of its wealth; a politically correct church that is neither hot nor cold; a church that follows miracle workers regardless of how true they are to Christ; a church that could raise $10 million for building more easily than $100,000 for missions.

So what are we doing?  Are WE evolving?  Are we developing more sensitivity to Christ?  More love for our neighbors? A heavier burden for the lost? A deeper devotion to Christ?  More conformed than ever to the character of Christ?  If so, hooray for that kind of evolution!   If you are devolving into a lukewarm state, barely distinguishable from the world, you need some "punctuated equilibrium", to borrow a term from the late Stephen J. Gould, Paleontologist at Harvard. You need to change so quickly it is totally amazing.  You know, funny you should think that - God has already said: "Those who are in Christ Jesus are new creatures. Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new".  How is THAT for “punctuated equilibrium”?  Be sure to tell me how God did that for YOU!
Maybe we can also evolve to the glorious state you are now in!