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I’m Guilty! June 16, 2016

Posted by stevekerp in Uncategorized.
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I want to be clear about this from the beginning. I am not, nor do I claim to be, “holier-than-thou.” There’s a moral code we all seem to share, and I’ve violated it at every point. Knowledge of this code transcends culture, age, location and upbringing. Where this code came from is a separate issue. Suffice to say, we all seem to know from the beginning that lying, stealing, murder, fornication and the rest are all “wrong” in some objective and absolute sense, and that we should not engage in them.

But I have. Many times. And I daresay, so have you. So the question is not “am I guilty” because we ALL are. The real question is, “Where can I find forgiveness?”

Not only am I not “holier-than-thou,” but I’ll also concede that I am probably not “smarter-than-thou” either. You may have figured out faster than I did that lying, stealing, fornicating, dishonoring parents and all the rest are self-destructive behaviors. No one is better off, nor is the culture they live in, when these moral violations are indulged. Perhaps you have heard the saying, “we don’t break the commandments as much as we break ourselves upon them.” By ignoring or violating the moral code that seems to be hard-wired into our humanity, we harm ourselves and everyone around us.

And we feel guilty. This is not a bad thing. There’s nothing strange about feeling guilty if you are, in fact, guilty. The question then becomes, “what do I do with my guilt?”

To this question there is only once answer: Jesus Christ. He, and only He, is the provision for reconciliation with the One Whose moral law we have all violated. In Christ, God has offered us complete forgiveness. We can be saved.

How to transition from condemned sinner to forgiven child of God is neither difficult nor complicated. It’s really simple: repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ. All that’s required is an honest and willing heart.

You are a sinner, just like me.

You need a Savior, just like me.

God has provided a way. There is only one way, but we only need one.

1) REPENT. Change the way you live. Demonstrate to God and all you have wronged that you are truly sorry for your wickedness. Make restitution as appropriate, offer apologies, and abandon your sinful ways.

2) PUT YOUR FAITH IN CHRIST – totally trust Him to make you righteous before God. Repentance does not save; it simply demonstrates that you are serious about wanting to be saved. Salvation is in Christ alone – it is His perfect righteousness imputed to you, and NOT your imperfect “righteousness” of a sanitized life, that will effect your reconciliation with your Creator.

You can know that you have passed from death to life. Primarily, you will love Jesus Christ enough to obey Him. Second, you will desire to read the Bible. Also, you will love other Christians. Finally, you will start to hate sin and desire to put it completely out of your life. You will discover that God will have given you His Holy Spirit to enable you to do so, and to live a life that is pleasing to Him.

By the way, I’m no longer guilty. In Christ, the Judge had declared me “not guilty.” My sins – ALL of them – have been purged. Jesus has provided a perfect atonement. His death, burial, and resurrection paid for my sins and demonstrated that His payment on my behalf was sufficient. In Christ I’m free.

This is bare-bones basic Christianity. For more information, take the Trip To Truth. If this post makes sense to you, please share the link with others. Time is truly short.

The 30-Day Challenge May 30, 2016

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The 30-day challenge is based on a mathematical model that demonstrates it is possible for a culture that is only 3% Christian to be substantially evangelized in about 30 days.  All that is necessary is for each of those Christians to present the gospel to one unsaved person every day.  This can be done without major expense, without special training, and without significant alteration to the daily routine.

The math is simple.  For each three Christians there are 97 non-Christians.  This is 32 unbelievers for each Christian.  With no redundancy, and sharing the gospel with just one person a day, it would take 32 days. Significantly, you see at least one unsaved person every day as you go about your normal routine.  The grocery check-out girl – the man near you who is refueling his car while you refuel yours – the man on the street with a cardboard sign – or maybe even the person standing next to you in church!

The point of the Challenge is not evangelistic results, however.  Rather, it is OBEDIENCE.  Do you love Jesus Christ enough to obey Him just a teeny-tiny bit, every day, for just a month?  Is the God you claim to serve worthy of your loving obedience?

Obviously, in any culture – and especially one such as the United States – the majority of the population has already heard at least something about Jesus Christ.  Many have heard the gospel and have rejected it.  But the influence of the proclamation of the gospel tends toward the preservation of the culture.  We are called to be salt, and salt that becomes savorless is unfit for anything.

Obedience to the commands of Christ is not for the “professional” Christian.  It is for each of us.  The message from Jesus Himself is “if you love Me, keep My commandments.”  (John 14:15)  Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 15:22 that if anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed.  The link between love and obedience is unavoidable.

None of this is new, of course.  Probably, sermons have been preached, books have been written, DVD’s have been produced and sold, seminars and conferences have been well attended.  We all KNOW this stuff.  The question remains:  if we know the commands of Christ, will we obey them?  Or are we so delusional that we think Jesus will reward us for our disobedience?

That’s the challenge.  Don’t just think, “yes, I should do it.”  DO IT!  Write a brief gospel message on a sheet of paper, make 30 copies, and give one a day to someone.

My friend Dr. Dave wrote:

If only we could get the actual Christians in America to share the Gospel consistently, it would shake the country up.  Even the media would be dominated by the issue of all these Christians ‘getting in your face’ . . . even if most of that witnessing is gracious.

I don’t think guilt is an effective motivator.  Nor do I think we should be persuading people to “do Christianity” as an extra assignment or activity.  Rather, I would hope that true believers would simply love Jesus Christ, and would demonstrate with their lives that He is worthy of love, obedience, sacrifice, and anything else.  The 30-day challenge points out that there really are no obstacles to actually living out Christianity.  It’s not an additional burden on time or resources or anything else.  It’s really answering the question, “Do you love Him?”

Unfinished Business March 7, 2016

Posted by stevekerp in End Times.
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At about this time every year, the eschatosphere lights up with discussion of the possibility of the rapture happening during the Passover season. Usually, the events of Jesus’ last week are reviewed and the conclusion is that the spring feasts were fulfilled in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and the fall feasts will be fulfilled when He returns.

In other words, Jesus was our Passover Lamb, His 3-day entombment fulfilled Unleavened Bread, and His subsequent resurrection certified Him as the Firstfruits of those who will enjoy eternal life.

If we see the first Passover in Egypt as a type, we would expect to see all the major details fulfilled in the anti-type. However, one of the major elements of the first Passover is missing. So I thought a review of Exodus chapter 12 might be in order.

In 12:3 we see the command for every man to take a lamb for himself and his household on the tenth day of the first month. At twilight (which is the period of decreasing light that follows the setting of the sun) on the 14th day, the lamb was to be killed and its blood applied to the lintel and the two doorposts (v. 7). This had to be accomplished on the eve of Passover, because the Lord (accompanied by “the destroyer” in verse 23) would come through the land at midnight (v. 29) and either “pass over” or strike the firstborn, depending on whether or not the blood was applied.

To understand the horror of this judgment, you might pause at this point and imagine what your life would be like tomorrow if all the firstborns in your family died tonight. I would lose my eldest brother, a nephew, four nieces, my daughter, my wife, two grand-daughters, and in-laws too numerous to mention.

To summarize, we see in the Passover a series of three critical elements: 1) the selection and death of the lamb, 2) the application of the blood for protection, and 3) the Lord passing over the protected homes and killing the firstborn in the rest. If we fast-forward about 1,400 years to the time of Christ, we see the death of the Lamb of God, but nothing at that time that really maps to the application of the Blood. More significantly, we see nothing that in any way fulfills the “passing over” of the Lord in mercy for some, or the death of any others.

I would submit that the entire “church age” from then until now has included an appeal to apply the Blood as the only protection from the wrath that is certain. Prophetically, and in fulfillment of the Passover type, the visit of the destroyer is yet future.

Obviously, we don’t expect that when Jesus returns that He will be killed again. But while the Head was killed 2,000 years ago, Romans 8:36 indicates that the death of His Body is an ongoing process, and we might anticipate that the process will end on a future Passover. It would certainly be consistent with the prophetic pattern to have a fierce, world-wide judgment occur on Passover with the true Believers protected, a few days for the world to try to recover, and then a rapture and resurrection event on First Fruits. It would also be plausible for such a world-wide catastrophe to take place any time, in view of current events and political and economic realities.

In the meantime, our efforts as ambassadors for the Kingdom of Christ should continue, as we urge our fellow-pilgrims to be reconciled to God through the only reconciliation that is available: the blood of Jesus Christ. I’m not setting a date, but like many of you, I believe the time of His coming is drawing very near. Please! Don’t be deceived and don’t be distracted.

Crushing God January 28, 2016

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Do you know – have you experienced or have you seen – someone who is being constantly criticized by his/her parents, spouse, children, boss, etc.?

No matter what he/she does, it’s just never good enough. Never appreciation or encouragement for what’s done right, nothing about the effort or what’s been accomplished. Instead, always how it should have been done better, or sooner …. or something.

Nag, nag, nag, gripe and complain. “What’s wrong with you???” or “is that really the best you can do?” Or maybe, “don’t you care?

And I would guess that the person delivering these barbs is generally unaware of doing so, or of how much pain is being inflicted. Maybe their “well-intentioned” comments are not even intended to cause damage. Perhaps they think it’s “constructive criticism.”

But what about the way we treat God? Do we ever complain – to Him or to others – that His goodness toward us isn’t good enough; that His grace isn’t gracious enough, or that His provision is inadequate? Of course, we think God is tough and is more than capable of brushing off our noise. We don’t think (or maybe we don’t) that we could actually hurt Him.

But He says otherwise:

I was crushed by their adulterous heart which has departed from Me, and by their eyes which play the harlot after their idolsEzekiel 6:9

Wow! God was crushed! And that by people who did not have His holy Spirit within them. How it must crush Him when we complain! Like the ancient Israelites grumbling in their tents, we think our proposed answers to prayer are better than God’s response. Why do we ask Him for wisdom if we think we’re already wiser than He is?

I don’t know, but it occurs to me that maybe we’re put on the receiving end of this sort of unkindness so we’ll know how God feels when His children moan and complain about the way He does (or doesn’t do) things. Maybe this has something to do with the “fellowship of His sufferings” in Philippians 3:10.

Let’s bear this in mind the next time we’re criticized, and especially the next time we may be tempted to complain about anything. The opposite of covetousness is contentment. Colossians 3:5 equates covetousness with idolatry, which is EXACTLY what crushed God. Conversely, “godliness with contentment is great gain,” as we read in 1 Timothy 6:6.

Commands of Christ December 31, 2015

Posted by stevekerp in Uncategorized.
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I’ve been studying Matthew 5-7. This was a teaching context where Jesus was telling His disciples certain specific things they were to do, or not do, because they were His disciples.

As we know, modern American-style Christianity is a lot more focused on doctrine – what you know and what you believe. It seems that, for many, simply knowing what Jesus said is thought to be sufficient; or as I’ve noted, “being able to pass a written test” is all that’s required. For some, going beyond that is “legalism.” In that world, we are saved by grace through faith and that’s all that is REQUIRED. Obedience is “nice” but it’s optional.

Jesus anticipates this at the end by contrasting those who “know and do” with those who “know and don’t do.” The “don’t know’s” are not mentioned.

This isn’t a doctrinal statement; it is, rather, the simple commands of Christ:

1. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad when you are reviled and persecuted – when people say all kinds of evil against you falsely – for His sake.

2. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works. (“Light” and “works” are two different things. Our “light” illuminates our works; if God’s Word is light, then similarly our words are our light.)

3. Do not be angry with your brother without cause. (Some think “without cause” is not in the original and this is a blanket prohibition against anger directed at people.)

4. Do not call your brother ‘Raca’ (literally “empty head” or “airhead” – an insult to his intelligence).

5. Do not call your brother “fool” (“moros” – an insult to his character).

6. If your brother has something against you, be proactive in effecting reconciliation.

7. Agree with your adversary quickly.

8. Do not look at a woman with lust.

9. Discard ANYTHING that causes you to sin.

10. Do not divorce.

11. Do not marry a divorced woman.

12. Do not take oaths – it’s just “yes” or “no.”

13. Do not resist an evil person.

14. Turn the other cheek when insulted; don’t retaliate.

15. Give more than what is demanded of you.

16. Give more than what is required of you.

17. Give to him who asks; loan to him who wants to borrow.

18. Love your enemies: bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who use and persecute you.

19. Be covert concerning charitable deeds.

20. Be covert in your prayer life; pray with the right motive.

21. Forgive.

22. Be covert when you fast.

23. Do not lay up earthly treasure; lay up heavenly treasure.

24. Have a “good eye.”

25. Choose God over mammon. You must serve one; you cannot serve both.

26. Do not worry. (specifically, life, food, clothing)

27. Do not be judgmental. (Don’t criticize.)

28. Don’t give what is holy to dogs.

29. Don’t cast your pearls before swine.

30. Ask! Seek! Knock! (Presented as a command, not as an option or as a resource)

31. Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.

32. Enter by the narrow gate.

33. Beware of false prophets – discern them by their fruits.

34. Do the will of the Father in heaven.

35. Hear and do what Jesus has said; to hear and not obey is foolishness.

Changed perspective, changed priorities, changed behavior. Some seem a bit obscure, but I’d suggest that if we obey the ones that we clearly understand, we’ll get clarity on the ones where we’re unsure.

“If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them …. and teaching them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you.”

Discipleship 101. These are real-world activities. Nothing here about “going to church” and nothing about “here’s how you act with other disciples, but in the world you can follow the world’s rules.”

Thoughts??

The Indictment August 19, 2015

Posted by stevekerp in End Times, Harbingers.
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Indictment. A written accusation charging that an individual named therein has committed an act or omitted to do something that is punishable by law.

I’m grieved and about nauseated as I write this. I don’t expect a lot of “shares” on Facebook and, in fact, some will simply read the headline underneath the picture (below) and delete the post. Believe me, I understand. What is being revealed is truly horrifying. But if we avoid the story, why do we tolerate the reality?

Geoff Grider has posted an article (link below) describing the latest Planned Parenthood exposé video. The source article is here:

http://www.breitbart.com

I have not viewed the video; Geoff’s story is sufficiently horrifying.

I believe these videos (seven so far) are a seven-point indictment by God to America. We in the eschatosphere are distracted by the anticipated events of September and “Jesus-must-be-coming-soon-goody-goody!“, but God is also JUST and I seriously doubt that we in the church will get a pass. This is happening on our watch, and most of us (even the “Bible-believing evangelicals”) did little to nothing to prevent it; indeed, many of us participated in it.

If we still think God is a sugar daddy who is going to ignore our crimes against our fellowmen because we said a little prayer once, or got baptized, or what-ever, then I think we’re in for a terrifying awakening. Babies were and are being murdered. We have not objected or resisted, nor have we (most of us) warned those with the knives that they are under God’s wrath unless they repent.

This season of Elul is, I believe, America’s last opportunity to turn from her wicked ways. In view of Obergefell and the manifest “ho-hum, I wonder what’s on TV” response by most people, I think America will blow it one more time, and I think America will be destroyed. But we slumber on, or we’re so busy squabbling among ourselves whether pre-trib or post-trib is correct, that we neglect what God is saying to us. He is about to turn up the volume.

Do we REALLY think God doesn’t care? What is wrong with us?

another victim of choice

Here is the link to Geoff’s story: Now The End Begins

The Shortest Sermon Ever Preached August 18, 2015

Posted by stevekerp in Current Events, End Times, Harbingers.
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ON (or probably very close to) THIS DAY IN HISTORY: Jonah began his trek through the city of Nineveh, proclaiming “In 40 days, Nineveh will be destroyed.” This was probably the shortest sermon ever preached, but the people believed and repented, and Nineveh was spared.

What about us? We in the U.S. are certainly an overqualified people who have sinned against God by persistent unfaithfulness (Ezekiel 14:13), and are over-ripe for judgment. As a nation, we have hardened our hearts and stiffened our necks against God and His word. Even the so-called “Christians” in this land are, by and large, satisfied to try to placate God with a Sunday ritual, while otherwise ignoring Him. How much time in prayer, Bible study, and Christian fellowship? How much time watching TV? With what do we fill our minds on Saturday night before “going to church” on Sunday morning? Are we really fooling God? Or just ourselves??

Don’t be put off by the judgmental tone of this post. I’m not enjoying this either. But we may have just FORTY DAYS to repent, before God Himself displays His righteous wrath against this land.

In the following article, Michael Snyder lists events that are already planned for September: 10 Things That Are Going To Happen Within 15 Days Of The End Of The Shemitah. He summarizes his conclusions:

As a nation, we have unapologetically embraced evil. We are extremely proud, arrogant, greedy and cold-hearted. I do not believe that there is any hope for our nation unless we are shaken to our core.

I am fully convinced that the months ahead are going to dramatically change life in America, but whether it happens right now or not, I am 100 percent convinced that a great shaking is coming to this nation at some point.

I share his concern. Clearly, significant change in the global village is being planned and implemented. More importantly, there are some compelling reasons to believe that God is about to intervene powerfully in human history. Jonah has a message for us. Are we listening?

Is Jesus Christ Your Center? August 4, 2015

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Anakypto coffee cup“Christian” is not simply a cultural term. It isn’t just shorthand for what one does on Sunday morning, or even what one “believes” about God, the Bible, or appropriate ethical behavior. Rather, “Christian” properly denotes the center and focus of one’s life.

If the most important thing to you – the thing you think of, spend time and money on, and plan around – is your career, you aren’t properly a Christian. You are a “careerist” or something similar.

One might protest, but don’t protest to me. Jesus said (Matthew 10:37) that if ANYTHING is more important to you that Him, you are not worthy of Him. Have you lost your “first love”? Are you “mostly” committed to Jesus?

More deceptively, have you confused love for Jesus with love for Church, or love for Bible Study, or love for emotional religious experiences, or anything else? Do you hope you have “enough Jesus” to stay out of hell? Or are you so passionately in love with Him that nothing else really matters?

What Will It Take? March 24, 2015

Posted by stevekerp in Uncategorized.
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This is intended to be a participatory blog posting.

Currently, Israel is experiencing regular terrorist attacks, threats and the rest from Hamas in the Gaza region, Hezbollah in the north, as well as ISIS. We read in Ezekiel 38:11 that when Magog and its allies move against Israel that the Jews are “…a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates …”

Please post your comment below in response to the question, “What needs to happen or what will it take to bring the nation of Israel from its current state of strife and tension to the ‘peace and safety’ it will be enjoying when the Magog alliance attacks?”

But … Do You Love Him? December 26, 2014

Posted by stevekerp in Christian living.
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My first church exposure after being saved was in my wife’s home church in Racine, and they beat me up continually with their 5-step “plan of salvation.”

Back then, and probably still, the “candidate” (I don’t think that was the word they used) would come forward at the end of the service as the congregation sang the “announced invitation song” and then the minister would explain the 5-step plan (I understand some churches have added a sixth) and ask the candidate if he believed that Jesus died for him, etc.  The candidate would say “yes” (then, as now, the minister did almost all of the speaking), and that one-word response was accepted as a confession of faith (Matthew 16:16), and then the minister would announce, “that confession brought death to Him but will bring life to you when you complete your obedience in baptism” (or something very similar).

I’m no mind reader, but I’m inclined to think many of these candidates were thinking quid pro quo – that “for this ONE act of public humiliation, I won’t have my parents on my case any more and God will BE REQUIRED to keep me out of hell.”

Such a deal.

As I said, I’m no mind reader … but I saw and heard lots of resistance to baptism (and still do!) and I saw little evidence of renewed minds or transformed lives.

My thought is that the “formula” is flawed.  Paul boiled it down to one simple statement, which he gave in 1 Corinthians 16:22

If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. (I would guess that “remain accursed” would be an equally valid translation. -scc)

How basic can you get?  It’s right there:  the delineation between blessing and curse.  And yet I never heard any minister (or anyone else, for that matter) ask a baptismal candidate or new believer if he (or she) loved Christ and, if so, why.

I’m in no hurry to “do the deal” and get people to make “decisions for Christ.”  As you know, there is no such thing in the scriptures.  Men say (and especially at this time of the year) that “wise men still seek Him” but I doubt it.  We don’t seek Him; He has come seeking us (Matthew 18:22).  And according to Paul, “…not many wise…” (1 Cor. 1:26) are called.

His disciples LOVE Him.  Because they love Him, they keep His commandments.  His “fans” only want what Jesus can do for them (stay out of hell, acceptance in the Christian sub-culture, etc.); they don’t want Him.  This is a distinction easily lost in evangelistic fervor, as you are no doubt aware.

So the questions we should be asking are:  “Do you LOVE Christ?  If so, why?  If not, why not??

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