Welcome to Leaving LaodiceaThe Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church
In our church culture the mantra is bigger is better. Bigger churches, bigger congregations, bigger likes on Facebook, bigger budgets, bigger, bigger, bigger. But there are some in the Kingdom of God who are faithful with small, but vital things. These are the saints that labor behind the limelight, in the shadows, as unsung heroes, doing what a faithful servant does..
And one of those great saints is a man named Tychicus.
We find his name mentioned in only five places in the New Testament. But oh, what we can learn from this great man of God.
In the church today, especially in the West, we peddle the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the “good news” as it is known, yet conspicuously fail to tell our young, trusting converts the “bad news” that comes along with the total package of salvation. And that “bad news” is that right now, as a believer, as a Christian, as one redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ, you have an enemy. And your enemy is powerful, numerous, well-equipped and an experienced, battle-hardened veteran ready to fulfill his evil mission for your life— to “steal, and to kill, and to destroy” you and all Christ has done for you (John 10:10).
And our enemy, Satan, works tirelessly, 24/7 to accomplish his task.
In fact, the neglected truth of the Gospel is that once someone passes from death to life, once they’ve been “delivered from the power of darkness and conveyed into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1:13), a huge bulls eye is placed on their chest inviting and directing all the evil in the world to come and test this new Man of God.
But this reality should be of no surprise for someone who knows the Scriptures. For they promise us that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (2 Tim . 3:12) and that we shouldn’t be surprised by or “think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (1 Peter 4:12). Why? Because Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18) and because “I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). Jesus then continues by assuring us we will face persecution and suffering because “if they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20) and when these times of testing come, we should “rejoice and be exceedingly glad” (Matt. 5:12).
One of the most convicting statements about prayer is found in the last chapter of Colossians. Here the Lord, in Colossians 4:2, says:
Continue (or, to persevere and not faint, to endure, to wait or tarry, to be in constant readiness) earnestly (or, to adhere to one, to be devoted to one, to be steadfastly attentive) in prayer, (how) being vigilant (or, to arise, arouse, to watch, to refrain from sleep, to remain fully awake) in it (in prayer) with thanksgiving (or, thankfulness, gratefulness, profound gratitude).
Which raises a few questions:
How is your prayer life? Do you continue earnestly in prayer? Are you devoted to prayer? Vigilant in prayer? Does your prayer life show you are “redeeming the time” given you by the Lord? Or does it show just the opposite? And, if so, what are you prepared to do about it?
Want to know more? Then keep listening.
We live in a time where people fight for equal rights. The right to vote, the right to work, the right to say what we want, marry who we want, do what we want, the right to live, and the right to die. It seems like we all want to be equal in our own eyes with everybody else with no one standing out among the crowd and no one having more than another.
This drive for equality has now invaded almost every facet of our lives. We don’t give trophies to the winners in Little League Baseball anymore. Why? Because everyone must be equal, which means no winners and no losers. So everyone gets a trophy for just participating, for simply showing up, for buying a glove and a pair of cleats. And by not honoring the winners, the ones who deserve the honor, who earned the recognition, it’s somehow supposed to make us all feel special.
We have to dumb down the tests in school because some students work harder than others and are more concerned about their grades and future. And others… well, not so much. So we make the tests easier and more generic for the less motivated students so they won’t feel bad or marginalized when others are rewarded for their diligence and study. After all, everyone should get an A. Everyone should feel good about themselves and no one should do any better than anyone else. Why? Because we’re all striving for equality. And equality always tends to settle at the lowest common denominator.
But that’s not how life functions in the real world. It’s the best and brightest, the ones who work the hardest, the ones who put in the long hours, and the ones who continually strive to learn more who are rewarded with the raise, the promotion, and the corner office. It’s not the sluggard, the lazy, the half-hearted that’s honored in our society for their accomplishments. The rewards and accolades go to the few who work diligently for them, and not to the many who don’t.
And as sobering as it may sound, the Kingdom of Heaven functions in much the same way.
In Colossians 3 we find the hands-on practical teaching of Paul that hits us right where it hurts: in our job, our profession, and in our sense of value and self-worth. No area of our life is more open to hurt and confusion for a man that what he does for a living. In fact, most men identify themselves by their jobs and not by their families or heritage or faith.
Colossians 3:22 reads:
Bondservants (doulos – a slave, one who is in a permanent relation of servitude to another, his will being altogether consumed in the will of the other), obey (or, to listen, to be obedient, to submit, to conform) in (what) all things (who) your masters (defined as) according to the flesh, (in what way) not with eyeservice (or, service performed only under the master’s eyes, for appearance sake), as men-pleasers, but in sincerity (or, singleness, faithfulness, purity) of heart, fearing (or, being terrified or frightened) God.
Intrigued? Want to find out more? Then keep listening.
We live in a world that was birthed in the bed of rebellion. From Eve’s rebellion in the Garden to the murder of Abel by his brother Cain, we see the sin of rebellion, the open, hostile, rejection of authority, as one of the bedrocks of human existence.
But it’s beginning is far older than the book of Genesis. For it was rebellion that caused the Lord to banish Satan and his followers from heaven and cast them down to the earth (Isaiah 14:13-15). That’s why Satan is known as the “god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4) and the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). In fact, Satan even boasted of this when he tried to tempt Jesus by offering to give Him “all the kingdoms of the world” if He would just “worship before me” (Luke 4:5-6).
And what is at the root of all rebellion? Pride.
It was pride that brought low mighty King Nebuchadnezzar and drove him out into the fields, living on all fours and eating grass, humbled like an animal (Dan. 4:33). It was pride that led Pharaoh to vainly fight against the Lord and not only see the destruction of all Egypt, but of his own house and family as well. It was pride that almost kept Naaman from being healed of leprosy (2 Kings 5;11) and pride that saw Haman hanged on the gallows he prepared for Mordecai (Esther 7:10). And it was the sin of pride that led Peter to foolishly exalt his commitment to Jesus as greater than the other disciples when he said, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be” (Mark 14:29).
But the Lord says He hates “pride and arrogance and the evil way” (Prov. 8:13) and that the prideful are so enamored with themselves they do not “seek God” nor is God “in any of their thoughts” (Psalm 10:4). They are clueless, self-deceived, and so inward-focused they can see nothing but themselves. They have themselves become the center of their self-created universe, the most valued and important thing in their lives, and their personal happiness and pleasure is the all-consuming passion of their short, sad lives. But the Lord promises to humble the man who exalts himself (Matt. 23:12) and to bring to nothing the one who arrogantly smirks at both God and others (Isaiah 2:11).
The future of the proud and rebellious is indeed bleak.
Some of the most wonderful yet confusing verses in the entire New Testament are found in the last chapter of the book of James. Do you know what these verses mean:
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much – James 5:13-16
Are you suffering? Do you know those who are sick? Do you know what the prayer of faith is and what is involved in calling for the elders and having them anoint you with oil? Are these verses somewhat confusing to you?
If so, then keep listening.
In the Proverbs we are presented with the contrast between two types of individuals: the wise man and the fool. We’ve already seen how the “wise man will hear and increase learning” and how a “man of understanding will attain wise counsel” (Prov. 1:5). And now we’re introduced to the man who lives at the other end of the spectrum— the fool.
But what is a fool? And what is it about a fool that compels him to “despise wisdom and instruction?” (Prov. 1:7).
The Fool Defined
When we use the term fool today we think of someone who acts unwisely or imprudently, maybe a silly person who tries to dupe, trick or prank us. We often equate the term with being stupid, simple or naive. But the word, as used in the Proverbs, has a much sinister meaning.
In Proverbs 1:7 the Hebrew word for fool is eviyl and means “foolish in the sense of one who hates wisdom and walks in folly by despising wisdom and morality.” It describes one who “mocks when found guilty, one who is continually quarrelsome and one who is licentious in his behavior.”
After all, the Proverbs say that “fools hate knowledge” (Prov. 1:22) and “fools die for lack of wisdom” (Prov. 10:21). The heart of a fool, the very center of their being “proclaims foolishness” (Prov. 12:23) and it’s against their very nature, in fact, “it is an abomination to fools to depart from evil” and do what is right (Prov. 13:19). Fools “mock at sin” (Prov. 14:9), and their mouth not only “feeds on foolishness” but “pours forth foolishness” like a flood (Prov. 15:2, 14).
Therefore, one who lives and thinks this way would naturally despise any “wisdom and instruction” that points out the errors in their actions or lifestyle. Why? Because “the foolishness of a man twists (or, perverts) his way, and his heart frets (or, is enraged) against the Lord” (Prov. 19:3) and the “way of a fool is right in his own eyes” (Prov. 12:15). Plus, you can “grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him” (Prov. 27:22). Their foolishness is embedded in their nature, it’s part of their DNA, it’s in the marrow of their bones.
In Colossians 3 the Lord confronts us with a checklist that deals with the proper attitudes we are to have in our most cherished relationships: wife to husband and husband to wife, children to parents and fathers to children, and employers to employees and employees to their employers.
In this lesson we’re going to look at some of the tough words the Lord has to say to both fathers and their children about their relationship both to Him and to each other.
Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. – Col. 3:20-21
To find out more, just keep listening.
During His last week with His disciples, Jesus said the following regarding a fig tree that He cursed:
“Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing (or, to have faith in, to think it’s true, to place confidence in, to entrust), you will receive” – Matthew 21:21-22.
Do you believe what Jesus said? Do you take His words at face value or have you reduced them to some type of parable or story not to be believed literally? And what does Jesus mean by “believing”? How does faith impact our prayers?
Keep listening, for the answer to these and other questions may astound you.
Something About Us
This is a collection of the many questions I have struggled with and the answers I have found regarding the relationship between authentic faith in Christ and much of what is portrayed today as Biblical Christianity. Especially with the coming darkness looming over all of us, including the church.
Come with me. It should be a wild ride!
To find out more about us and what we believe, just continue reading…