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Crushing God January 28, 2016

Posted by stevekerp in Uncategorized.
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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

Posted by stevekerp in Uncategorized.
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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??

Trivializing Christ December 9, 2014

Posted by stevekerp in Christian living, Church, Harbingers.
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I challenge our paganized “Christmas” season every year. As you probably know, most of the symbols and traditions come from ancient Babylon, and even the Christmas story (including the date) that many Christians embrace is full of errors.

But the real problem I have – traditions aside – is what Christmas, in fact, IS today. If Christmas really were a Christ-exalting season and people really came face-to-face with Jesus, should we not expect that every December would be a season of spiritual revival? Why is it, rather, a season of depression, hostility, financial irresponsibility, and over-indulgence?

And while it’s as easy for unbelievers to ignore Christ during this season as it is at any other time, why is it that among the professing Christian community, the claims of Christ and the knowledge that God has come to us does not produce deep repentance, or revival, or grief over our sin, or a renewed commitment to Christ and holy living?

Obviously it does not. The passion and focus of the Christian community toward godliness seems no more intense in December and January than it does at any other time of the year. Maybe with all the trees and tinsel and gift-giving and carol-singing, we are simply relegating what’s really important to the “back burner.” And perhaps because we do, Christmas has really become a time when we trivialize what’s important and insult Christ instead of honoring Him.

Comments?

Decision? … or Commitment?? November 2, 2014

Posted by stevekerp in Discipleship, spiritual wealth.
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Kyle Idleman is an author and also the teaching pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky.  In Not A Fan, he asks the question:  “Have you ‘made a decision’ for Jesus?  or have you committed  to Jesus?”

There is a difference.  There shouldn’t be.  But there is a difference.  Many have made a decision to believe in Jesus without making a commitment to follow Jesus.  The gospel allows for no such distinction.  Biblical belief is more than mental assent or verbal acknowledgment.  Many fans have repeated a prayer or raised their hand or walked forward at the end of a sermon and made a decision to believe, but there was never a commitment to follow.  Jesus never offered such an option.  He is looking for more than words of belief; he’s looking to see how those words are lived out in your life.  When we decide to believe in Jesus without making a commitment to follow him, we become nothing more than fans.

Biblical belief is more than just an intellectual acceptance or a heartfelt acknowledgment; it is a commitment to follow.  Following by definition requires more than mental assent, it calls for movement.  One of the reasons our churches can become fan factories is that we have separated the message of “believe” from the message “follow.”  After separating the two messages, they get out of balance.

I’m not saying that following is more important than believing.  What I am saying is that the two are firmly connected.  They are the heart and lungs of faith.  One can’t live without the other.  Following is part of believing.  To truly believe is to follow.”

Not surprisingly, Kyle has come under fire for teaching the “heretical doctrine of Lordship salvation.”  I did not come away from his book with the idea that he believes we earn our salvation by doing works or any other such thing.  I don’t believe, and I don’t read that Kyle believes, that we are saved because we decide to be saved, or that we either get saved or stay saved by our own efforts or merits. 

Jesus asks the question in Luke 6:46 –

But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”

How does one answer that question? “Well, I didn’t really want to obey you.  I just didn’t want to go to hell.”  I suppose the real question is, “Do you love Jesus enough to obey Him?”  Because, if one does not love Jesus Christ, nothing else really matters (see 1 Corinthians 16:22).

Kyle did not have to make the case for obedience.  In fact, he’s not coming up with anything new; he’s just reminding us of what James says about the uselessness of a purported “faith” that produces no works (See James 2:17-22).

But a passage sometimes overlooked in the discussion is in Hebrews 11:6 –

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

The word translated “rewarder” (μισθαποδότης – misthapodotēs) only appears here in the New Testament.  It isn’t in the context of getting saved or “staying saved” (a problematic concept, to be sure).  Let’s face it, no matter how tepid one’s faith, there is no doubt some work that has proceeded from it.  So if one argues that saving faith always produces a change in one’s life, it’s really hard to find disagreement.  I argue (and I believe Kyle is arguing) that to live a life that pleases God, one must live a life of obedient pursuit of Christ; vigorous, consistent and joyful submission to His discipline.  I would add that Jesus DESERVES to be loved, and DESERVES to be obeyed.

That’s where the joy is, and THAT’S WHERE THE REWARDS ARE!  I suspect that many of us are given a taste of earthly poverty so we will know what it feels like, and we will be motivated to lay up treasure in heaven.  If you don’t like being poor here, you sure won’t enjoy it for eternity.

This is not a salvation issue.  If anything, it’s a maturity issue.  The lie (remember: these are the days of deception) is that Jesus did it ALL – that all He expects of us is to crank back in our Lay-Z-Boy recliners, trust Him to take care of us, and wait for the rapture – and that perhaps doing good works is legalism against which Paul preached, and which is at its core an affront to the grace of God.  The truth is that Jesus did for us only those things that we could not and cannot do for ourselves … and He will even help us with the rest.

“Obedience” is not a spiritual gift, my dear friends.  Satan’s effort is to give Jesus an eternal daycare center full of immature, bottle-sucking Christianettes.  Jesus calls us to maturity: to GROW UP in all things in Christ (Ephesians 4:13-15).  THAT, I believe, is the core of Not A Fan and that is the core of the podcast going forward.  I want to be outrageously wealthy when I get to Heaven, and I want you to join me.

The Anakypto Forum.

‘Burma Shave’ Evangelism October 30, 2014

Posted by stevekerp in Discipleship, End Times, Uncategorized.
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Some of you may recall the old ‘Burma Shave’ highway signs. For the rest, the basic idea was a series of five or more signs spaced evenly along a highway, each but the last with a line from a bit of verse, and the final sign saying ‘Burma Shave’.

Here’s one example, from memory:

If daisies
are your
favorite flower
keep pushing up those
miles-per-hour.”

Cute, obviously memorable, and distinctive.

In a recent discussion with a friend, we considered the idea of composing similar verse along evangelical lines, making up similar signs, and then standing with friends along the side of the road with the signs. If you have any ideas on possible sign composition, I’d love to hear from you. If you don’t quite “get it” just do a google search on “Burma Shave Signs” and it should become clear.

As I mentioned last time, I’ve been doing some reading in Genesis. While there may be some relevant prophetic patterns in the life of Joseph, I was looking more at the human-interest side. Many Christians I know feel oppressed. Life is generally difficult, with illnesses, economic hardship at various levels, key personal relationships that are not good, and a daily fresh load of reasons why the downward spiral can be expected to continue.

Jacob and his family had similar issues from the time Joseph went to Egypt until the time his family joined him there about 23 years later. One of the interesting take-aways from my study was in Genesis 42:36 when Jacob, bemoaning his perceived hardships, said, “…all these things are against me.” Of course, quite the opposite was true. Things were not as they appeared, and all the things he thought were against him were, in fact, weighing very much in his favor.

Might that also apply to us? Could God have placed “treasure in our sacks” and we are complaining about the weight instead of rejoicing in the value?

I will most probably unpack this a bit in the next program.

Administrivia: I asked for “votes” through Paypal and, admittedly, there probably weren’t too many folks who heard the appeal. One couple did and sent a significant gift which I used to set up an account with SoundCloud. This will make the program available through iTunes (and maybe other distribution points as well), and that means access on smartphones, etc. At this point, I’m inclined to keep using the “Anakypto” label since it’s distinctive and sort-of established. I’ve pencilled in next Monday for “going live” but no promises. In the meantime, I would greatly appreciate hearing from you, even if you cannot or do not wish to participate financially.

link: http://www.soundcloud.com/anakypto (and that’s not a picture of me)

email: stevekerp@att.net

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