No Longer Shaded

I understand that what I’m about to say is going to be offensive to the masses. But the disciples were prepared to be beaten and imprisoned and killed. Surely I can handle a little verbal backlash. I also don’t intend to discuss the matter after this, because this is not that kind of website. It was never going to be. This is for HIS glory, and nothing else. Not for controversy, not for debate, not for shaming… But I feel like this is important. The same way Jesus warned his disciples that they would have trouble, we need to be warned today.
When same-sex marriage became legalized last week, it didn’t really sink in all at once. You all know me, me and God laugh at everything. When I saw my news feed on Facebook, my first thought was that it looked like someone sacrificed a bag of M&Ms on it. I said, “God, You must be daring somebody to ask You to bless America right now.” Except, for the first time, I realized God wasn’t laughing.

I’m not writing this to bash the gay community. If that’s you, let me apologize again if you haven’t read my last post, and tell you how sorry I am that the church has hurt you. We can’t and won’t shy away from the Word of God, but if we show hatred towards anyone, then we already have. I also want to tell anyone out there who rejects God, gay or straight or purple or pink, because of what you see Christians doing, that those Christians got it wrong. We’ve done very poorly in the last few decades when it comes to showing who God is. I just want you to know, the bad parts of Christianity you’ve been exposed to is NOT Christianity at all. Not even a little. And those bad parts — judgmental, bashing, hateful, arrogant — those are not a reflection of God. Even more importantly, those things are not a problem with God or the Word. Those things are problems with man’s heart, not God’s. He’s perfect. We’re the ones screwed up, and if I could ever convince you at all to give Him a chance to show you who He REALLY is, I know you would be blown away. (And Christians, for the record, we’re getting better and better all the time, even if our numbers are dwindling. I’d rather have a few true lovers of Jesus than have a country full of religious people.)

Onto the point… And saying again to the gay community that my goal is not to offend. I’m only here to offend the religious tonight. And I know my inbox is about to be martyred over this post, but it’s necessary.

Not to sound like a megaphone street preacher here, but I can’t be the only one who sees where this is all headed. God has made it very clear in His Word that, even though all sin is equal, sexual sin is sin against your own body. And our bodies are called Holy temples, appropriately so if the God of all creation has chosen to allow His spirit to reside in us. You wouldn’t egg your own house on Halloween. Sexual sin is very serious, and God keeps record. I understand that many people believe Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because a gang of men tried to rape angels, and it had nothing to do with the fact that the angels were male. And honestly, on surface level, RAPING ANGELS would seem to top the sin charts. Let’s just be real. I don’t think it gets any worse than that. But we have other Scripture that tells us how wrong homosexuality is. And we have entered into a new time on earth, a new era in which what God has called good is evil, and what He says is evil, it’s now good.  So whether Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed because men there were wicked enough to rape angels, or because they didn’t care that the angels were male, look past that. God wiped them all out because of sexual sin, a lot of which is going on today.

We know what God has said about homosexuality. We know what He has said about sin. And we know the wages of  sin. It doesn’t take a prophet or a theologian to see we are in some serious trouble. Sexual sin will buy you a ticket to hell faster than anything. That’s not to say there is no forgiveness. In fact, God can be found over and over and over again throughout history giving warning through the mouths of prophets to turn away from their wickedness. He always gave people a chance to humble themselves and ask for forgiveness. And some did. But others were destroyed.

Right now, what I’m seeing is a problem much bigger than two men getting married. There is an issue here that goes beyond the statistics of child abuse, that’s more serious than murder and war and theft and rape and adultery and dishonesty. What I see now that concerns me more than any wicked of the world is the number of Jonahs we have. It’s not too late for America, but if we continue to sit under a tree shaded by self-righteousness just waiting to see God destroy us, then we are no better than the evil people of the world. In fact, we’re worse. Because we know the truth, and we’ve seen the light of God and know who He is, but still sit and do nothing.

If it sound like I’m being vicious or pointing fingers, I hope you know that’s not my goal. I love all of you. I really do. I pray for my subscribers and visitors all the time, and I would never want anyone to feel attacked. You guys know me. That’s not my heart. And I’m not always right, and many of you have offered gentle correction in love. That’s what I’m doing now. And I hope it’s received in a way that will encourage you to leave the comforts of your shade tree and pray for a world that is falling rapidly into the pits of hell.

America is not lost yet. There’s still time. And I send this message to ISIS, to terrorists, to the wicked, to those with intent to destroy us, to those who hate us, to liberals who try to silence us, and to every evil person or demon or foe who wants to see the death of Christianity and America:  There are people here who still pray to an ALMIGHTY and POWERFUL God. Even if you destroy us, you won’t have the last word. He will, and it’s JESUS.

Will the Christians of America, of the world, lock arms and pray against the evils of hell that threaten to overtake us? It’s not over until God says it’s over. And until then, we can’t just sit and wait for the world to be destroyed. Disasters are coming. Natural disasters, more war, famine, disease and sickness… It’s coming. We have to pray. We have to. And we are damned if we don’t.

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Your Sword is Gay

I want to handle this topic very carefully. It needs to be discussed, but I don’t want to open up my website to hate and argument because that’s not of God. I’m taking the risk of that happening. You all know me well enough by now that you know I welcome your comments and feedback, and I just ask that you keep it classy. Deal?

As followers of Christ, it is essential that before you even have an opinion, we need to nail down two things, no matter what we’re discussing. First, we have to agree that the Bible is truly God’s word, and that its contents are without flaw of any kind. The second thing is, we have to be after God’s own heart, and decide within ourselves that what He calls good is good, and what He calls sin is sin. We can’t look to the Scriptures for the answers if we’re going to look at this passage and say that’s not what He meant, then go to that one and say it’s truth. God doesn’t need an interpreter.

Today, the Supreme Courts decided that same-sex marriage would be legally recognized in all fifty states. Now we are scrambling desperately to put into legislation the freedom of churches and pastors to refuse to perform those marriages. But as of today, if you are in a homosexual relationship and want to get married, you are free to do so.

Can I just be really blunt here and say this scares the hell out of me?

In Romans 12, Paul explains that it is a sin for “man to lie with man, and a woman to lie with a woman.” Back up to Genesis, and you’ll see why. When Adam and Eve were on the earth, God made them with the ability to procreate. He created sex and sexuality. He meant for it to be a beautiful thing, and not trying to be funny here, but He also made it to feel good. Sex was a gift with a purpose. I’ll prove it and take this one more uncomfortable step forward:  When a male has an orgasm, we know sperm is released. It serves a purpose. When a woman orgasms, you know what happens? Nothing. Doesn’t release an egg, doesn’t help her get pregnant, doesn’t make her fertile. The extent of her orgasm’s job doesn’t go any farther than just to make her feel really flippin’ good. Doctors may discover later on down the road that it does play a role beyond that, but for now, all evidence just points to God not wanting the ladies to be left out. (Anyone uncomfortable yet?)

Here’s where I’m going with this:  Sex in itself creates what we call a soul tie. We will become one flesh with anyone we choose to have sex with. In marriage, that’s wonderful. And the soul tie created within a marriage is a beautiful thing. You are united before God. Sex is an act of love, or was at least meant to be, and God made our anatomies to work with the opposite genders  just perfectly so. Within that unity of marriage, God says to us what He said to Adam and Eve. “Be fruitful and multiply.” (To which I can only imagine prompted Adam to say, “Amen!”) God created the perfect blueprint when it came to sex and procreation. And when we sway from that design, it is not very shy from being a slap in His face.

There aren’t many points left to be heard on the debate of marriage that we haven’t heard already. From calling it an abomination, claims that Saul was gay, and all the way to the classic hate-the-sin-not-the-sinner mantra, everyone has an opinion. But as long as we’re still insisting that God bless America (Al Sharpton) while we continually revolt against His law, we are cursing ourselves. And that’s why I’m terrified for my country right now. I don’t have the time or the energy right now to go dig, but if you do some research, you’ll see a pattern with widespread disasters; where war is found, where famine is found, where major natural disasters are found, you can look at things going in those areas at the time or before the horrors hit, and you will see how those areas were violating God’s law.

People reading this will argue that a loving God doesn’t punish. But “punish” isn’t the right word to use here. What people fail to realize, Christians and non-Christians alike, is that God is not out to smite people. He is loving and perfect and kind, yes. That’s the pretty side of God. But we also have to remember that such a huge, massive, and amazing God is a just God. His anger is righteous. And He’s tired of playing games with lukewarm people. Where there is sin, there is death. It’s all throughout history, and will be in the future as well. God has been patient. But if people continually cover their ears and close their eyes to the truth, society will continue to decline.

We know, as Christians, that sin is sin. We know when we go against the grain of political correctness, we often will find ourselves in situations where we aren’t exactly… No, let’s just be real here. I’m prepared to lose a fan or two. If you plan to live firmly by the Word of God, don’t plan on being popular. If you intend to love and serve the Lord our God, you’ll lose friends left and right, and often find yourself alone and hated by at least a few people at any given time. (Which is good news when the goal is to be more like Jesus, because people hated him more often than not.)

So let’s review:
1.  Sin is sin if God has called it sin, and that is a stance true born again believers cannot stray from no matter who it offends.
2.  God is loving, patient, and perfect in all His ways.
3.  America is headed towards an ugly disaster, and we have to pray.
I want you to remember these for what I’m about to say, because it’s important.

To the homosexual community, please… I want to apologize to you for how the church body as a whole has treated you. We may not be able to tell you that your lifestyle is okay, but at some point, the church got in its head that it had the right to protest in anger and hatred, and it started swinging a sword that was never ours to wield. We never had the right to treat you the way we have. Never. Please, do not think every church is like Westboro. The true Christians, the true lovers of Jesus and followers of God want to love you, we want to show you who God REALLY is. And we will if you’ll give us a chance. We don’t hate you. God does not hate you. And I am so, so sorry, for every picket sign that said He did, for every preacher on the corner with a megaphone telling you that you were going to burn in hell, for every protest we organized… I’m sorry. Those “Christians” were not true reflections of the Father. I promise He’s not like that. I PROMISE. I hope you can forgive us and let us have another chance.

To the Christians:  I’m saying everything I’m about to say in love. But this has to stop. Yes, it’s a sin, it’s an abomination, but so is using profanity, and we aren’t throwing thesauruses at anyone. We are representations of Jesus. And as representatives, we have a huge responsibility. If I’m going to call myself a Christian, then I can’t conduct myself to a standard any less than that. We know all sin is equal to God, but I would fear for my soul a lot more if I claimed to be a Christian and didn’t act like one, than I would ever fear hell just because I kissed a girl. Give up the gavel. It’s not ours to hold. We can’t and should never say that something is okay when God has said it’s not. Okay? But if we really want to be like Jesus, and I think more and more of us have that as the goal, then we have to love unconditionally. It’s called “holy matrimony” for a reason. You just love on them, and let God deal with their heart. Until we learn to do that, we are not allowed to have a tantrum when someone calls us judgmental or hateful, because let’s be honest… The last generation or so, we’ve gotten a little too good at hating sin. And it was never our job. Marriage is sacred. God will honor what He will honor, and despise what He will despise. He doesn’t need our help. I assure you He doesn’t. You just need to SHOW LOVE.

Pray for our nation. Love everyone.

[Discussion and comments, like I said, are welcome. Just play nice. This is one of those topics that can get heated very quickly, and I don’t want to have to shut anyone down. Thanks in advance, guys.]

Just as I Am… A Jesus Machine

Just found out today that there is an often unspoken of tug-of-war game between traditional churches and modern churches, the sole factor in determining which is which being the style of worship, or music. If you sing out of the hymn book, you’re a traditional backwoods, suit-and-tie-only, pseudo-Baptist geezer who would sooner sing the middle verse of a hymn than have to listen to Hillsong for two seconds. And if your worship team has dumbed down every song it plays to three or four chords and banished the church organ and its player to exile, you’re in a modern church.

If you have a choir, you’re traditional. Modern churches have worship teams. Traditional doesn’t need a projector, because the words are all in a book right in front of them. Modern, you may or may not have the words displayed up front, but it doesn’t matter because everyone knows every single word of every song David Crowder ever wrote. Modern has the lights turned down and the fog machine running full speed… Traditional guys save any smoke effects for the BBQ after church.

Traditional churches don’t have worship leaders, because their pastors can sing, always and without exception. Even if they can’t, they do. Modern churches do have worship leaders because our pastors took one listen to Amanda Cook’s high notes and said no way on God’s green earth. If the pastor does try to sing, it’s okay to make fun of him. Just smile and nod, then hand him the projector remote and tell him to stick to preaching. In a traditional church, the pastor’s wife will play piano. Even if she never took a music lesson a day in her life, the moment the church doors open to her husband for his leadership, she will play piano. And yes, she will play the same hymn every Sunday the first six months. And you will sing along and compliment her after the service, because that’s what traditional worship is. The wife of the modern pastor may or may not be musically inclined. If she is, that’s okay. But be warned that she will also play piano too, but usually in keyboard form, because keyboards can be tweaked and adjusted to sound like synthesizers. If she sings, it may not sound good. If it doesn’t, don’t worry. She will eventually learn a song that she sings really well, and the congregation will react by standing up or lifting their hands… But make sure you really, really like it before you do this, because this is the song she will be singing for the next nine thousand Sundays in a row. If your eye starts to twitch, put your head down and pretend to pray. We can pray during the music in a modern church. Don’t try this in a traditional church, or else the lady who sits behind you, who by the way was ten years older than Moses when you were a kid, will tell everyone you were sleeping. You know that lady. She probably wears a hat big enough to serve chips on, and always sings about five steps higher than everyone else. Or as she calls it, harmonizes.

In a traditional church, no mess-ups are heard. The singer could start singing Just As I Am while the instruments play I’ll Fly Away, and no one will know. You know why? Because in a traditional church, sure, the hymns all have five hundred chords, and that’s just for the refrain. But every song has the same five hundred chords. In a modern church, forget that dream. You hit an A minor in How He Loves where it should be an E minor, and you might as well have broken a commandment. That’s some serious stuff. There’s no mercy in a modern church. You screw up all you want in a traditional church and still need a rake to bring in all the compliments. No gospel song is off limits. As long as Patsy Cline or Sandy Patty didn’t do it, it’s fair game. But you go into a modern church and try to sing Hillsong, you’d better know what you’re doing. There is no mercy for the guy who butchers a Hillsong original. None.

In a traditional church, the songs have been picked out almost a week in advance. And we know that, because the church program or bulletin for Sunday morning gets printed out the Monday before. You know what songs you’re singing, the page number, the key, and book before you ever flop down in the pew. You ever see the lady who bends the corners of pages in the hymn book down before service? She’s not a prophet. She’s got a program. And even though there will be four minutes of fumbling between each song while everyone gets to the right page, she wants to take “Prepare the way” to a new level. This won’t affect you much in a modern church, unless you’re actually part of the worship team. You will need to learn the meaning of the word “tentative,” because that means your worship leader reserves the right to look over at you at any point during the worship and say, “I know this song isn’t on the list, but…” And the song may or may not be in your book, much less on any list. If by chance it is not, and you can’t play by ear, turn your guitar/bass/keyboard all the way down, and act like you’re playing. If the worship leader or pastor gives you the I-can’t-hear-you look, give them the innocent hey-me-either shrug. You’ll be fine. If you play drums, just remember… When in doubt, hat-hat-hat-snare, hat-hat-hat-snare. Repeat as needed.

If you ever find yourself lost because the leader has decided to change the music and does not warn you or write the new chords in, don’t panic. You can either keep playing what’s on the paper, or mute yourself. Proceed to the shrug. If you’re in a music group rather than a church, most rules still apply. But always be aware of your surroundings. You do not want to go into a General Baptist church singing “Water You turned into wine…” You also should be cautious entering a modern church and singing, “Give me that old time religion.” And you should never, never, ever do Misty Edwards’ anything on a first visit. Convince the people you love them before you start singing, “You said He won’t even respond, you said He’s dead and gone…”

Here are the last few words of wisdom I’ll shed on worship:  If you’re more traditional, you like to camp in Canaan’s happy land because He lives and made the lame to walk again and caused the blind to see, and you can’t even walk without Him holding your hand, then more wonder-working power to you. But if you know He’s jealous for you, He changed you from the inside out, your soul cries out, you want Him to open the floodgates of heaven and He makes you brave, then you just go ahead and stand in awe of the One who gave it all. We can poke some friendly fun at the churches on the other side of the coin, and that’s okay. I truly believe that there will be oldies and newbies in heaven’s music hall of fame. But I also believe the one who really gets to laugh at all of this is God, and how silly His kids are when they start to believe the worship was ever about them. “But, we should be able to get into it too, right?” Nope. “I can’t get into that old/new junk.” So? “You can’t create an environment for the Spirit if the people aren’t into the music.” I had no idea I was that important, that if my heart wasn’t into the song, God would just sit out. “I can really feel the anointing behind this song.” Wonderful! Blare it in the car. “I can’t get into the worship at my church.” Good thing it’s not about you. Otherwise, we’d just have to rearrange our whole Sunday program.

To my fellow musicians and singers and artists out there, can I just take a huge burden off of you right now, and tell you that you never, ever have to worry about the approval of the congregation? Worship was never about them. It’s become some big dirty secret that we put a band-aid over and just forgot about, but it’s a freeing truth. Worship is NOT about what people can “get into.” Forget that mess. From this moment forward, you get to make music for the approval of One. For us, worship does become a public act, and it creates pressure it was never meant to create. When I write a song, it’s just me and God. When I play those songs for people, the only thing really going on is that I’m worshipping God, and people get to listen in. Some even join me, and that’s awesome. But if I ever became a performer, I would want God to rip the guitar out of my hands.

I think we get wrapped up in what sounds good, and what makes a good altar call song, or a good Easter song, or a good whatever song, and it becomes too easy to block out the original Composer who just wants us to worship Him. Think about that… You’re writing music for the God who created sound. No pressure. If you’re a fan of the old hymn book, be a fan. And if you wake up in the morning to “Give me, like, half a marathon, I’ll give you the gospel of St. John…” that’s cool, too. You can be in the shower rapping that you’re “turnt,” and whatever color you are, you rap like a boss because that’s your heart. Seriously, one of the truest musical hearts I’ve ever had the honor of meeting was a rapper in Knoxville, and he’s working his way up to LaCrae level as we speak. Seriously, look him up. Brent Veal, Lord’s Disciple. (And mark the date here so I can say I knew him before he was cool and famous.)

So, family in Christ, stop the madness. Because whether you “prefer” Bill Gaither or MannaFest, only God’s preferences matter. And when it comes to a worship style, the only thing He prefers is your heart.

Disclaimer:  This isn’t geared towards any one church, religion, denomination, or artist… Unless you count the one time we played “Water You turned into wine…” at a Baptist church. And I’d do it again, because that was funny. Pastor’s wife can sing, pastor can almost sing, and yes… We have a projector. Think I could talk them into a fog machine? Start singing Fix My Eyes, and crank that bad boy. …Okay, maybe just a metronome.