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Our Only Hope

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The evangelical community needs to wake up!

So much time, energy, and money are spent lobbying and trying to change our culture through political means. That is not our job. Our job is not to moralize the dead but to bring them Life in Christ. Our job is not to change the culture we live in, but to change the people who live in the culture and when enough people in the culture get "changed," (born again and instilled with Life from God,) those changed people will change their culture.

It is time for the church to really draw Life from God and then express that Life to the dead around us. It is time to radically declare Christ, not morality to a dead and dying world.

He is our only hope, NOT legislation!

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Called to The Struggle.

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Hi Frank,

I know of some professing believers who have demonstrated a genuine walk with the Lord, and yet are choosing an “alternative life style”. They say it’s okay because the church they are attending says it’s okay and that they still love Jesus etc. etc etc. 

What would your rebuttal be to the young adult who says that his or her choice is okay because they are okay in their relationship with the Lord? Curious to know your thoughts.

Thank you, Frank!

What a difficult question you ask...

I find it very interesting that Jesus said salvation is a narrow road (Matthew 7:13). He also told us that we will know someone who's saved by their fruits (Matthew 7:16). He also said that there will be many who claimed to love and follow Him, but He says He NEVER knew them (Matthew 7:23). It seems that it's so difficult to be saved!

Yet I marvel at how easy He made it in John 3, when He says "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 so that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life."

The account of the bronze serpent is found in the book of Numbers. The children of Israel had been attacked by poisonous snakes. God directed the leaders to create a bronze serpent and put it high above the camp. All it took to be healed of the serpent bites was for people to look on the snake. I call that the "glance of faith".

It figures to me, that if God wants to save His people, and He does, that He would not make it difficult. 

There are those who claim to love Jesus, yet continue in an unbiblical lifestyle. I point those individuals to Jesus' words in John 12-14, "If you love me, keep my commandments." So, assuming they've genuinely received Christ, they are firm in their standing as children of God. However, if they pursue a sinful lifestyle they are not ok in their relationship with Jesus - in that they are failing to love Him and "grieving" the Holy Spirit.

Bottom line, they are still caught in the great plague of a man-centered Gospel, rather than a Jesus Gospel. The focus is on themselves, what they want, how they want to live.

Even as I write this now, I can hear the rebuttal: "No, they aren't actually saved!" Really?

What's fascinating to me is how Jesus promised He'd never leave us - and He meant it. Regardless of the behaviors we are engaging in or the sins we are committing, we take Christ with us into them. I think of 1 Corinthians 6, where Paul says that a believer who goes to a prostitute not only joins himself to her, but joins Jesus to her as well!

You would think that if ever there was a time that Jesus would say, "I am not going with you into this", sleeping with a prostitute would be such a time. Engaging in homosexuality would be such a time, but as He promised, "I will never leave you."

So what am I saying?

Of course we cannot ultimately know if the individuals you're referring to are saved or not. They very well could be. For me, 1 Corinthians 6 raises an interesting and challenging hurdle. In it, Paul makes a list of people who do not inherit the Kingdom. Of course, there is the murderer and the adulterer and the homosexual in that list. He also includes the angry and the selfish and the one who covets. I daresay that every human on earth gets caught somewhere on that list.

The key though, is verse 11:

"Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God."

NO ONE would ever ask Christians to celebrate the sin of murder or adultery, but the LGBTQ community is not only asking us to accept their behavior, but CELEBRATE IT! That to me indicates a conscience that was either never redeemed or has been cauterized by sin so badly that such a one does not hear the convicting work of the Holy Spirit anymore (Hebrews 2). 

Here at Grace Life, we affirm our love for such individuals. In the same way that some individuals are born with an extra propensity for lying, or an extra propensity for anger, some are born with a propensity for same sex attraction. We call them to "the struggle": the challenge to live according to how they have been re-born and made new.  They are to walk new instead of according to the propensity they were born into in Adam.

You are Loved,

Frank

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You Want To Dis The Church?

It seems to me that it has become popular of late to attack and hurl insults at the church. It seems a quick way to gain a following on Facebook and a means to acquire lots of comments. 

Now don't get me wrong, she has done wrong, and she continues to do so much that is wrong! And let's be honest, so very often she is in great need of correction and reformation... but have you ever thought about this:

When we "dis" the church, we are dissing Jesus's bride!

Can you hear Him?

"Hey, that is my bride you are talking about!!!!!!!"

I know if someone were dissing my bride, I would most likely be locking horns with them, if you know what I mean. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

What is Jesus thinking about those who hurl such insults at His bride?

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The Badge We "Wear"

It is only Jesus that minimizes our differences and unites us!

It is only Jesus that minimizes our differences and unites us!

The LAW maximizes our differences and separates us. I baptize by immersion. I am better than you. I use the KJV, I am more spiritual than you. I read my Bible every day, I am more spiritual than you. Do you hear it?

"I" --- "I" --- "I" ...

or maybe it would be better 

"AYE" --- "AYE" --- "AYE"

IT IS SO UGLY THIS SPIRIT OF LAW!!! THIS SPIRIT OF COMPETITION!!!

It is only Jesus that minimizes our differences and unites us! I baptize by immersion, I use the KJV, I read my Bible every day. But none of that is what makes me who I am. The Badge I wear is Jesus. If the badge you wear is Jesus, then you are my brother, even if you sprinkle, even if you read the Living Bible, and even if you never read your Bible.

WE WEAR THE SAME BADGE --- JESUS!

And that badge unites us more than anything that might seek to divide us. 

This should be especially true for us in the camp of GRACE (which last time I checked is Jesus!) We have more that unites us than that which separates us from our religious brothers. We have more that unites us than all those other badges that divide us....

Our real BADGE is not that we know grace, but that we know the PERSON OF GRACE...

Wear that badge very proudly and LOVE THE BRETHREN!!!

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Worship Thoughts...

Loving God, and LOVING PEOPLE! Now that is Pure and Unadulterated Worship!!!

Loving God, and LOVING PEOPLE! Now that is Pure and Unadulterated Worship!!!

What is worship? Is it singing songs and lifting your hands? Oh, that may be included, but I am not sure that would not be better called "praise".

Worship! It is such a bigger word than that.  So much grander.  So much more inclusive of ALL that God is...
So, how would I describe what true worship is?

Loving God, and LOVING PEOPLE! Now that is Pure and Unadulterated Worship!!!

How could anything we do be called "worship" that leaves out the very heart of God?

 

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Balance

...where the walk of faith and the walk of sight are very prone to imbalance, to the point of emphasizing particular aspects of our journey to the neglect of others.

...where the walk of faith and the walk of sight are very prone to imbalance, to the point of emphasizing particular aspects of our journey to the neglect of others.

One of the most difficult things I believe for humanity to achieve is balance.

Paul said for us to let all things be done in moderation, but this is no easy task. We all walk in a dichotomy, between the seen and unseen world, where the walk of faith and the walk of sight are very prone to imbalance, to the point of emphasizing particular aspects of our journey to the neglect of others.

For example, we can overly stress the love of God and neglect the holiness and justice of God. We can so focus on His holiness, that we miss the glory of His love. Complete theological systems have been built by men around pursuing such extremes. The result of these extremes is that all too often we see major pendulum swings in the faith community as we seek to achieve that experience of balance in our lives.

I believe we are seeing one such pendulum swing in recent days. I believe the scales are tipping for a dangerous emphasis on individuality within the body of Christ. Understanding our individuality is so important. In fact, the only way to true spiritual health is to know that God not only loves the world, and also loves me. We dare not allow our significance to be shaped by - and perhaps lost in - the crowd.

It's not surprising that many people, after experiencing the harshness of this world, doubt that God loves them. "I know God loves the world, but I really question how God could love someone like me", is a question that is asked all too often by far too many people. We must embrace that God loves me, because He wanted one of me, and I am the only one on the face of this big wide world who can express God the way I do. So, I say yes to individuality, but not to the expense of the corporate whole.

Paul went to great pains in the New Testament to herald that we are a part of something greater than ourselves. We are individual members that make up a body!

There is none within this body that does not need the rest of the body.

Paul taught that each individual member has different giftedness with which to serve the others in the body, and no individual member has all the gifts. This forces us to experience a very healthy interdependence of the Life of the Holy Spirit being subsequently expressed and received by each of us in a unique way through each individual member of the glorious body of Christ. Amazing!

Recently though, I am hearing an overemphasis on our individuality with God that I fear might prove to be ultimately unhealthy to both individuals and to the corporate body. I have heard people affirm that through God Who lives in them, they have no need of anyone or anything. They stress “my identity” and “my righteousness” and “my sainthood.” God never intended that His glorious indwelling would lead us to isolation. Rather, he intended for us to live in relation with others who likewise experience and express His life.

As a small way of affirming this reality... did you know that the word “saint” NEVER appears in the singular in the Bible? It is always found in the plural. Did you know that likewise in Colossians 1, when Paul shares the glory that is Christ in you, that the word “you” is NOT in the singular, but in the plural. Christ in us “all” is our corporate hope of glory.

The truth is the Body of Christ needs you, and you need the Body of Christ! This is the true glory of the New Testament!

To Come Alongside

The word in the New Testament is parakaleo. It literally means "to come alongside".

The word in the New Testament is parakaleo. It literally means "to come alongside".

EXHORTATION!

If you have had any church experience in your lifetime, you might be cringing right now at the very thought of the word. It is such a scary word, because it has been so misunderstood and therefore misused... and the misuse has caused so much abuse.

The word conjures up, for most,  a word picture of someone sticking their finger in your face with a very disappointed and angry look on their face. This is how it has often been used and it is no wonder that word is so scary for us.

But my how we have missed the heart of this beautiful word.

The word in the New Testament is parakaleo. It literally means "to come alongside". True exhortation is NEVER to be done with a finger in the face, but with an arm around the shoulder.

Exhortation should be done in such a way that the one being exhorted, walks away from the conversation knowing beyond the shadow of a doubt that they are loved, and praising God that someone loved them enough to have spoken hard words with such encouragement.

Displaying such an attitude in difficult situations will go a long way towards fostering peace and unity in the church. Creating an environment that removes fear and replaces it with a spirit of acceptance and love... Oh what a beautiful community is potentially ours if we would express such love in true exhortation.

Worth Fighting For...

My son was a very easy child to train. He was tender hearted and very teachable. Please understand, he was no sissy. He is on SWAT and very often the first guy in the door on the raids that he has to conduct. He is a man's man, to be sure.

When he was younger though, there was one occasion where he got very testy with me. Emotions elevated, words intensified, and then in my frustration with him, I said, "You listen to me boy. I will fight for you even if it means I may have to fight against you!" At that point, he said, "Wow dad, that was a good one!" I said, "I know, I have to go write that one down."

That is "the one" that I would share with you today.

The church, my friends, is worth fighting for, even if it means we have to fight against her in the process. She is not perfect. She believes many lies and has many perverted practices that are not in line with Father's Word. Does that mean we should just abandon her, give up on her, separate from her, leave her to her error?

That would not be love. I know that it will be uncomfortable, I know that we may get hurt in the process, but who will fight for her if not we are for her and a part of her? One of the great mistakes we are making in the grace movement is isolating and insulating ourselves from the church because they don't agree with us, belittle us, and persecute us. But isn't that exactly what Jesus and the apostles went through as they sought to deliver the church to the freedom that Jesus came to give her? 

Please understand, I am not real high on the church in America. I believe she is weak, anemic, and pursuing much worldly agenda and methodologies in her pursuit to become successful instead of faithful ... but she is worth fighting for. Oh, I hear you. She may not even be the church... that is true. But that is not our job to determine who really is a believer and who is not. That is the Lord's job, our job is to herald, to announce, to teach and instruct, and to correct with sound doctrine -- using the glory of the New Covenant and the finished work of Christ.

She is His body, purchased with His own blood, and we must fight for her, even if it means we have to fight against her. Might I suggest you go read Acts 20:20-28? I believe it will encourage you in the fight!

Extending Grace to Others: A Difficult Task!

GRACE! It is more than a doctrine that we learn in our mind. It is an economy for living… and even more than that: it is a Person that provides that economy.

In Titus 2, we are told that “the grace of God appeared, bringing salvation to all men.” So grace, though a doctrine to be sure, is a doctrine about a Person who brought us forgiveness and most important of all – LIFE! He brought us His LIFE, to be experienced by us, and to be expressed through us. Those are the two key elements for which we have received grace, to experience it for ourselves and live in freedom, and to express it to others so that they can live in and experience freedom. 

I define grace as: “Being delivered from the economy of performing in Adam, and being placed instead into an economy of receiving, all that God is to all that we need at the moment of faith.”

So grace is trusting God, to be “our everything” in the moment in which we find ourselves. That to be sure, is no easy task. It is hard to trust a God we cannot see against all that we can see. That is why Hebrews tells us to “labor to rest.” It is hard work to deny the fleshly resources that are all too easy to live out of and trust God instead. Again, this is no easy task. 

An even more difficult task is extending grace to others. I am finding in the movement of grace that we as a people are much better at receiving grace than we are extending it to others. Yet, to fail to extend grace is to live in incomplete grace. So, let me help you out.

If you want to know if you are not only experiencing grace but expressing grace as well, go to those closest to you and ask them these questions. “Are you able to relax around me? Are you able to let your hair down and be yourself around me, or do you have to be on guard with what you say and what you do when you are in my presence?” Please tell them to answer honestly, because you really need to know the status of your own walk of grace. 

Hear me on this! No one, not even the enemies of Jesus, was ever afraid to be in His presence, and He is the epitome of grace. I do not want people to be fearful or on guard in my presence. I want to be such an expression of grace, that people will want to be able to relax and be themselves when they are around me.

How about you?

Reflections on a tough week for our city and our nation

We have gone through some pretty tough circumstances this week in our city of Baton Rouge and in the rest of our country, especially in Dallas. These circumstances have been going on for the last several years and have been getting progressively worse.

I do not believe this platform from which I speak (church) should ever be used politically, however there is an overwhelming amount of biblical evidence that throughout history the prophets of God spoke truth into the circumstances of their society. So with them as my mentors, I would like to take a few minutes to do likewise.

We have encountered tragedy this week. Anytime there is a loss of life in our communities, any life, that loss is a tragedy. The ENEMY, who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy has once again accomplished his evil end. Now there is a lot being said in response to these circumstances, and let’s be honest. A lot of what is being said has the potential to frustrate and anger us because so much of it is nothing more than the thoughts and wisdom of man, who really knows very little concerning how to fix the dilemma that he finds himself in.

I want to address one particular gentleman that I observed on television, who offered a very heartfelt appeal. He said, “THIS HAS GOT TO STOP!” Of course, all of us would agree with that statement. He went on to say though, that we are all God’s children. That is where the Bible would say otherwise. Sadly, no, we are not all God’s children, and that is where the problem lies

Please understand that the United States of America is not a Christian nation. It never has been, and it never will be. There is no such thing biblically as a Christian nation. There are nations and there is the church, the individual Christians who live in those various nations, among and with those who are not the children of God

This is however, a unique nation. Our founding fathers sought to bring God into the governing of this nation in a way that no nation had ever done so in the history of man. This was tremendous. It is such a great privilege for us to be able to live in a nation that put God in such a high place for its culture. This God centered culture of our nation, provided at the very least, an opportunity for there to be a large number of people to become the children of God because there was such a consciousness of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ within the framework of this nation. Further this recognition of God provided a framework for our society that offered a moral restraint, through the establishing of a national ethic of doing what is right versus not doing what is wrong, because it was proclaimed that we all lived in the sight of an Almighty, and Holy God.

This great nation however, has gone awry. 50 years ago, the powers that be, removed God, prayer, and the instruction of a Christian moral ethic out of our school systems, minimizing the previously stated moral ethic our culture had previously enjoyed. 

Having removed God from our culture, man is now being taught in our school systems, that he, man, is the supreme animal in a world of animals. This has had its natural consequence of encouraging man to live in a spirit of self-orientation, self-exaltation, and self-satisfaction. This has fostered a spirit in man that neglects others in the pursuit and conquest of his own agenda. What is worse is that he will pursue his selfish agenda even to the extent that he will abuse others in his selfish pursuit. This is turn, has the potential to usher in a spirit of rebelliousness, for after all, “Who are you to tell me what to do?” This type of rebellious man who is the center of his own existence will live in total disregard for authority and the rule of law that normally governs a society.

Biblically, this is where the rule of government is supposed to provide a semblance of safety for man. It is very clear in Father’s Word, that the government exists to wield the sword, yes, a sword, an instrument of death to punish evil doers in order to protect the innocent. When a government abdicates this responsibility, as ours has, then the spirit of rebelliousness, disregard for authority, and selfish agenda of man will be pursued in ever greater fashion because for man living in such a culture, there will be no fear of consequence for his behavior, as God Himself has mandated there should be such consequence in a moral society. The result, put simply, will be that bad men will abuse other men. This in turn, will inspire fear within the culture, and create a ripe environment for chaos and anarchy.

When this fear occurs, there will ultimately be a response against this evil, to if possible suppress that evil, so that society can continue to exist in peace. Very often, again because of fear, that response may very likely escalate into a reaction instead of a response, which in turn brings its own damage to society. And so we have our recent events, to which there has been so much discussion, and all such discussion is in fact premature.

Investigations must occur, facts must be gathered, before anyone seeks to speak with any authority concerning what has happened in our culture. This includes our government officials who pine for votes and popularity, playing to public emotion and appeal in an effort to maintain their job security. This especially includes our “story hungry media” that fails to report all the facts in an effort to sensationalize these events in order to boost their ratings.

Though the specifics of these events await this judgement that can only come from detailed examination, the culture which prompted these events can and should be addressed NOW, and know for certain that it is occurring as we speak. On television stations, and in government halls, church buildings, barber shops and street corners people are offering their opinions on these matters.

Almost immediately we have had civic and community leaders call for more unification and cooperation to build a community of peace. . Government officials have already begun to demand more laws, even though the laws currently on the books are not being enforced. There are those who will proclaim racism, countered by those who claim statistical evidence independent of racism, and there are those who will call for revenge on both sides of the equation. This is in fact, already occurring on the social media sites and it is ugly. Still others will call for unification and ecumenicalism… love, forgiveness, and tolerance so that hopefully we will be able to live in peace.

That pathway to peace however, will sadly remain just a hope with no potential for reality until the nation decides to return to the roots upon which it was founded… a nation under God! The very minimum we should seek for our country is to return to a God consciousness that would bring all men under a God established morality that would be enforced by a government that functions the way that it was intended to function, punishing the evil and protecting the good.

Of course, as a pastor, my heart would long for more than the just the restoration of a moral consciousness. My heart longs for a loud and sincere proclamation of Jesus and the hearts of men surrendering to Jesus because that is the only way we will truly have peace among men.

I share with you the words of Jesus from Luke 19; 

“If you, even you, had only known on this day 

what would bring you peace, but now it is hidden

from your eyes”

The truth is that men can seek peace with all their hearts, but there can and will be no peace apart from Jesus. The Bible is very clear that there is no righteousness in the heart of man without Jesus, and only Jesus can change a heart. Man needs to get a life… “THE LIFE” that is available only from God and that is what Jesus is all about. The Bible says that it is the one who has the Son, who alone will have “THE LIFE”. This is indeed what Jesus came to offer to all who would place their faith in Him. He said in John 10, “I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly.”

The truth is that only Jesus can heal the races. He does that by offering to all men a new and true identity as a child of God. It is this identity that will establish a common ground of oneness among men that will overrule any of our differences. This same identity as a new creation provides us the wonder of having God Himself take up residency within us, and gives man a new heart that will transform a man from the inside out as man experiences the very life of God living in and through Him by faith.

Our culture desperately needs to change. The truth is, however, that is not our job as the church to try and change our culture. In fact, for us to do that would be nothing short of spinning our wheels and wasting our time. Only God can change a heart, and that is why our job as the church is to proclaim the message of Jesus. Our hope is that one by one, men will receive Him, have their hearts changed, and then in turn reach other men who will have their hearts changed, until ultimately there will be so many changed hearts that those changed hearts will change their culture.

It is time for the church to stop being involved in social agendas, cultural reform, and positive thinking. It is time for the church to do what it was commissioned to do so long ago, and that is herald the truth of Jesus so that He can set men free from the bondage of lies and sin that enslaves them. We are not cultural reformers, no we have a much greater responsibility. In cooperation with the Holy Spirit and the truth of the Gospel we are transformers. That is what our country needs more than anything else. Not legislation from without (though the establishment and enforcement of such would help restrain evil), but transformation from within.

There is an old hymn that said it well:

"Rise up oh men of God,

have done with lesser things..."