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The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church
343:  The Spiritual Hat Trick:  Mark, Luke and Demas

343: The Spiritual Hat Trick: Mark, Luke and Demas

In the closing verses of Colossians we are introduced to a list of names, a list of those beloved and commended by Paul.  And in the midst of those names we find Mark, Luke, and a guy named Demas.  We can basically summarize their lives this way:

Mark – started out weak but finished strong.
Luke – was always growing in his commitment to Christ and others.
Demas – started out strong and finished… horrible!

And if you have ears to hear, you can find your spiritual life embedded in the lives of these three men.

Are you interested?  Maybe intrigued?  Then keep listening.
 

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342:  Understanding the Times in Which We Live

342: Understanding the Times in Which We Live

Twice in the Proverbs we find the following warning:

A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished – Proverbs 22:3.

And again,

A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself; the simple pass on and are punished – Proverbs 27:12.

But what does this mean?  And does this warning still apply to us today?  Absolutely— and even more so than when it was written so many thousands of years ago.  In fact, it’s a vital warning to the church today.

Want to know more? Then keep listening.
 

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341:  The Resurrection Story in Philemon

341: The Resurrection Story in Philemon

There is a passage in the letter to Philemon that sums up the entire Easter, or Resurrection Day message. It tells the timeless story of Christ in a letter from Paul (representing Christ), sent to Philemon (representing God the Father) who was the one wronged, about Onesimus (representing you and me) the guilty, runaway slave, that Paul calls his son in the faith,”that is, my own heart” (Philemon 10).

If then you count me as a partner (or, companion, partaker, comrade, one who shares in everything), (then) receive him (how) as you would me. But if he has wronged you (or, hurt, damaged, injured, to act unjustly or wickedly, to sin against) or (what) owes anything, (then) put that (or, reckon) on my account – Philemon 17-18.

What a wonderful Resurrection story found in Philemon. Do you want to know more? Then keep listening.
 

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Just Say No

Just Say No

The Nike slogan, Just Do It, was reportedly coined in 1988 in an advertising agency meeting and was inspired, according to Dan Wieden, by convicted killer Gary Gilmore’s last words before he was executed by a firing squad at the Utah State Prison on January 17, 1977. And this classic slogan, Just Do It, has been the most recognized and successful trademarks in the history of athletic footwear.

The loving father in Proverbs 1:10 is also coining a phrase for his naive and inexperienced young son in regards to sin. And just like the Nike slogan, the father’s words are crisp, pointed, and direct. “My son, if sinners entice you, Do Not Consent.” Or, to put it in Nike terminology: Just Don’t Do It.

Don’t Give In. Don’t Give Up. Do Not Consent. Just Say No. Just Don’t Do It.


Do Not Consent

This is one of the classic statements in Scripture regarding man’s free will. For decades, for nearly a century in fact, there has been much debate regarding the Sovereignty of God versus the Free Will of Man. This debate has basically centered on the question of “Where does the Sovereignty of God end and the Free Will of Man begin? Or, “How can God be sovereign in all things yet give free will to men?” For to us, seeing only what fallen men can see, sovereignty and free will appear contradictory. Like polar opposites. Different sides to different coins.

And this is never more true than in trying to understand the doctrine of salvation.

Does God, as the Scriptures teach, “choose us in Him and before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4) and then give us faith to place in Him based on His choice of us and not our choice in Him? In other words, was Jesus truthful when He said “you did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain”? (John 15:16). Or do we, by carefully examining the claims of Christ, freely choose Him as our Savior and, in doing so, secure our salvation by our own free will? Does the gift of salvation come by our choice in Him or by His choice of us? And if the latter, what is that choice based on? Our merits? Our future potential? Maybe our standing in the community? Or maybe it’s our ability to comprehend and understand all the facets of the atonement and therefore choose, based on our own inherent intellect, to believe His claims about Himself and place our faith in Him?

That all sounds good. But none of it is really true, no matter how true it may seem to us.
 

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340:  A Man Abandoned to God

340: A Man Abandoned to God

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.
 

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The Inevitability of Temptation

The Inevitability of Temptation

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).
 

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339:  Being Vigilant in Prayer

339: Being Vigilant in Prayer

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.
 

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No Equality in Heaven

No Equality in Heaven

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.
 

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338:  Take this Job and Love It!

338: Take this Job and Love It!

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.
 

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The Lost Art of Listening

The Lost Art of 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.
 

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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.

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“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.  Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”

Revelation 3:15-17

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