Illegitimi Non Carborundum.

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Does anybody here remember Vera Lynn?
Remember how she said that
We would meet again
Some sunny day?
Vera, Vera?
What has become of you?
Does anybody else in here
Feel the way I do?

Vera, Pink Floyd

The church gets uncomfortable with real. So let me be as real as I can for you.

You know, I wish I could convey how devastated I am at what the enemy was able to do through my wife. How shocked I was at the events. I wish I could communicate the misery that consumes me because I’ve not spent time with my kids since April 29th. I wish I could let you feel what I feel when she explains I won’t be seeing them and knowing I will have to fight it legally when I don’t want to.
I wish you could plug into my heart so that you could look back over the years and feel that all of it counted for nothing. That my life benefited some with our prayers and teaching but as a minister, you are easily forgotten. I wish you could feel a vision die that you have given everything to or watch people that you love fade into the distance as they seek better things for themselves. You stand holding an empty bag of promises and hope and try to imagine how you can ever hope again.
I wish you knew the gnawing fear in the back of your mind when no one gives and no one prays. The awful realization that despite all of the encouraging one liners, all that you loved is gone and you are embarking on a new journey, sight unseen.

I wish you could feel betrayal by the church. Those that counsel a spouse deeper into sin based on humanism and modernism but never by the Word of God.
I wish many times I would never have been called by God. I wish I would never have met my wife or had those children. Not because they did not give me joy in the past and not because I don’t love them but because the loss of them has hurt me beyond human endurance, I love them too much.

What hurts even more is the seeming silence of God. I saw a missionary online today asking for funds so that he could eat. Not to buy a jet, not to add a new wing onto the church- just eat. But the conservative corporate business model Spirit has so infiltrated the church that we freely equate prosperity and success with the blessing of God. And to those that have, we send more because God is with them. To those that don’t, we ignore because there is obviously something wrong. By those standards, you would have rejected every prophet and preacher in the Bible including Christ himself. I’ve gotten messages telling me to quit begging and go get a job. These people whose only sacrifice for Christ has been to get dressed and go to church once a week sitting back in judgment of someone that has given their life. That’s just par for the course, forgive them Lord.

Funny how it happens after the worst attack in my life as I sit back in awe at the damage, unable to even address the situation and having to move forward into a future when I am honestly worried whether I can trust God or not. There are good days and bad days. There are days that I hurt so bad, I can’t hardly function. There are days when I am locked in place by anxiety because no one wants to give and I am past the point of need. There are days when there is hope and when I can see the good things that are still in my life.

The problem is, I am still limping. I’m better by far but like the old wound that knows rain is coming, I still feel the effects of the worst betrayal and trauma I’ve ever experienced in my life. And I have needed help as I battled illness, I have needed help as I came to terms with PTSD. My life has always been about helping others and I needed some of that.

I still do.

Some of you have communicated that if my needs or goals for the immediate future in ministry are God’s will, he will provide. Then you feel safe in not giving and not praying. Friend, God could plant a perfect field of corn if he desired but he chooses to use farmers. And all the enemy needs to do to shut down a man or woman of God is to convince the church to do nothing.

I have been through a living hell this last year and a half. For a few years before that, I had a breakdown and fell off the map and no one bothered to check on me. I was alone, flustered by the seeming abandonment of God and wrestling with a mental condition that I knew nothing about- ptsd. And no one cared. Those that I did reach out to grew uncomfortable and broke off communication. I needed help, real help, due to the excessive traumas that I have experienced in my life. None came, God was silent, life fell apart, I died.

Yet here I am. Not for your benefit or amusement but because I have nowhere to go but to him. I have lost all in my pursuit of the answers to the salvation of Gen-X. I have made many mistakes along the path as well, believe me. I believe that the need for the answer must be greater than the price paid to attain it.

So here I go into the breach in the enemy’s wall once again. I go to start something that will speak as the oracles of God to a generation with a 3% occasional church attendance rate.  And once again I look for you to hear from God and be his hands of support.

The price has been too dear. The change too complete. The wounds too deep to ignore. I don’t feel ready but I do feel compelled.

Pray about your involvement this time.

JC.

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When the rooster crows

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‘Every man for himself’ is at the heart of American Christian ministry. Now that is a dirty little secret that not many would admit to but I can say with all confidence that it is exactly the truth. When it is all said and done, most of us are nothing but religious corporations who depend more on fickle public approval trends than real politicians do.

I heard a preacher say recently that all of what we perceive of as “ministry success” boils down to the fact that people love a winner and despise a loser. When crowds are coming and smiles abound, everyone wants to be near you. But when that tide appears to change, people jump off board so fast it will make your head spin.

Like many of our American politicians who are really nothing but poll whores and puppets, changing their stances depending on which way they feel best preserves them, so both ministers and members alike throw their approval behind whatever will enhance and not harm them.

Look back at the last 30 years of ministry here in the US and let me throw out some names to you; Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Larry Lea, Mike Warnke. All of those men were “top” names at one time in the church. And every one of them had the tide of public opinion turn on them. When it did, we turned on them as well. We got rid of their books and records, threw out their teachings and denied that we ever knew them at all.

I can not really imagine what that felt like for these men. One minute, they were surrounded by people who supported them and loved the ministry that God had them doing. The next moment, they looked around and found no one there anymore. They had gone from being celebrated by the church to virtual religious pariahs, social outcasts, in the blink of an eye. And man, did we ever take notice of their fate as ministers of the Gospel. In the span of a few short years of public witch trials, the most terrifying thing that we could think of was no longer standing before the judgment seat of Christ; it was sharing the fate of those that had stood before the judgment seat of Primetime Live or professional heresy hunters and been declared guilty.

So to prevent sharing their fate, we as ministers began to court the public and keep our nose as clean as possible. We stopped rocking the boat and just said what people wanted to hear. We became slaves to what people thought about us and by playing the game properly, we began to see mega-churches spring up all over. The recipe you are to use is fairly simple: Just repeat the following over and over until you are as big as you want to be- God has a plan for just you, God wants you to prosper financially, positive self-image is God’s ideal for you, you can have all that you want and God will help you, once you are saved you are always saved. Avoid the negative, focus on the positive and people will come to hear you. And if people are coming, it must be God.

There is just one problem with that- it isn’t true.

The bible says that “They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.”1 John 4:5. Of course people are coming to hear them; they are speaking the language of the world. They are motivational speakers that give the added benefit of promising eternal life and divine favor in exchange for your approval. I can’t imagine people not wanting to come and hear that sort of thing to be honest. If I offered a thousand dollars to whoever answered an altar call, would I be shocked to see the altar full? What if I charged a thousand for the honor of answering the call, what would happen then?

And so we live in an age of preachers for hire, Balaams’ crisscrossing the globe teaching whatever the people want them to teach. And in exchange, we remain on the safe side of the bema of public opinion and can continue to make our living doing what we love. We placate ourselves by thinking that at least they are getting some truth when they come to hear us; at least they are getting some Jesus. But a little religion won’t save you and there is no resurrection for you at all without going through the death of the cross.

This mercenary thinking has trickled down to every area of the Christian life. As an Evangelist, when things are going well, people want nothing more than to have their name attached to yours. Once that pendulum swings, they want nothing more than to not have their name attached to yours. When there is a buzz about you, they all want to cozy up and bask in it with you. But when hard times come, they all deny they ever knew you at all.

I have sat astonished myself as I watched this little dance unfold time and time again in my own life. When I get discovered (which happens all of the time) then I am celebrated and the ministry applauded as being cutting edge and the “next big thing”. But when I struggle and the enemy comes in to attack, I look around and discover I am more like Uriah the Hittite than David. Because when I stepped up to fight and the battle was joined- I looked around and everyone else had stepped back until they saw for sure which way the outcome was going to go.

If I win and gain the victory they will all clap and pretend that they were there all along as they sing songs of my bravery in the face of the enemy. If it goes badly, they never knew me at all. If it goes really badly and they could be hurt by their association with me, then it was God who judged me.

I am sure that some of you thought exactly that when you read the names of those ministers earlier. Jim Bakker was a crook and God exposed him, Jimmy Swaggart was a judgmental pervert and God exposed him, Larry Lea was a greedy liar and God exposed him, Mike Warnke lied about his testimony and God exposed him.

So what are you guilty of that God needs to expose? A recent study found that upwards of 70% of Pastors view online pornography at least once a week. Is that you, speaking to the sheep on Sunday morning and masturbating to online porn on Saturday night? Or are you simply a liar, a glutton or a self righteous religious bigot? Or maybe you haven’t prayed in a month or cracked your bible in 2 months and yet you get up there and like a Pharisee you show your white washed exterior while inside you are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.

The real issue is not that those men fell; it is what we did as it happened. I believe that we really lost something important with Larry Lea, he got hit in a massive smear campaign and we gave him no chance to explain, we just wrote him off. Mike Warnke was honestly repentant but in the church the restoration is never as public as the fall. We have set a pattern into motion here in America that we should be horribly ashamed of. We are Peter, denying the Lord when it looked like he could be harmed by Jesus’ “fall”. We don’t know them, we were never with them, don’t judge us by them. So those who need support never get it because we are constantly prepared to ignore that they exist or stick a knife in them if we have to.

Oh God have mercy on all when we finally hear the rooster crow and see ourselves for what we really are- mercenaries without honor, in it only for ourselves, in Jesus’ name.

Personally I think the whole affair stinks to high heaven. I get very weary of the game, to be quite honest. I have to watch my back more around Christians than I ever did in the world. In the world, I had friends and I had enemies. My friends loved me for my good points and overlooked my faults. Just because I was shown to have issues did not disqualify me from being their friend. But in the church it does. I can’t think of anything more hypocritical than people judging others for this fault or that fault while harboring a thousand faults that just haven’t been exposed yet. It is truly pathetic in every sense of the word.

Because we are not here to be politicians, we are here to be an army. But if any army in the world acted like we do they would be overrun by the enemy. The very fact that we are not overrun tells me that not only are we not any threat at all, we are more than likely the Keystone Cops of the Spirit world, more entertaining in our folly than actually a serious force to be reckoned with.

So how do we deal with this pattern that we have all set in motion? Is there any way out of this cycle that we are all caught in?

We must begin right where we live with one word: love. We must love one another enough to help when help is needed. We must honor what others are doing for the Lord and throw in our lot with them to help see it come about and forget about what the court of public opinion will say if they fail. We must honor our relationships with one another no matter what happens and make the decision to never leave a man behind. Above all, we must start to place ourselves in other’s people place and ask ourselves what we would need if it were us in their place.

And don’t even utter the word revival until you are prepared to do all of those things. Because when that word is spoken and steps are taken in that direction- the enemy will take notice and the fight will start. If we are the type to play Peter and deny others when they get into trouble, the enemy will pick us apart one by one until none are left standing any longer. I have seen it played out a hundred times, the mercenary spirit that comes into the church when the real attacks start and scatters everyone involved to the four winds because we are simply too weak, too selfish and too petty to just hold the line as the enemy charges.

When the enemy comes in, we get most concerned about ourselves. And it is with the banner “MY FUTURE” flying proudly above our heads that we break ranks and leave our fellow soldiers to hold the line alone. And what kind of army is that?

Before we utter revival maybe we should take a moment and listen for the rooster’s crow before we say we are ready for a move of God.

Provision and Protection

IMG_0128When you watch 4-5 year old kids funnel into an alley all day in Chicago to pay $1 to dip a rag in Talley thinner, credit scores don’t matter as much.

When a little girl that snuck into the kitchen every day for a special snack from you is abducted and sold as a sex slave, a house in the suburbs doesn’t really matter.

When mothers walk for hours or days in Africa so you can pray for their baby racked with Malaria or the only offering that you can get in the bush consists of flip flops, a new car and it’s payment doesn’t count for anything.

When you have held the hands of AIDS patients as they died, your best life now and it’s prosperity is a joke.

When you see the system and it’s shallowness for what it is; the daily grind that ends in front of a tv, the mundane conversation about nothing that matters. The lack of actual meaning besides your new car or comfy house that defines you. When you live for your own comfort, justifying it by humanistic arguments and forgetting the things that are right outside your door, you deserve exactly what you get.

You have forgotten your first love and the God that you swore you would live and die for as you lusted after the normal things of the world and its system.

Perhaps your materialism, desire for provision and protection from the big bad world out there isn’t a virtue, perhaps the American Dream is really the American Coma and you have fallen asleep when you should have known you came into the Kingdom for a time such as this. You were born for this moment and you ran when the going got tough and when a cost was required to keep going.

Perhaps your safety and security that you mortgaged everything for is really just a cheap and flimsy cover-up for the fact that you don’t love God at all. Jesus said that if you love him, you’d do as he said, right?

Riddle me this; So do you love Him as you cast aside everything in the name of your own comfort and convenience? Sticking your fingers in your ears to block out the voice of God as you act against your own conscience and destroy everything you once held as given to you by God.

Both you and I will someday stand before the Judgment Seat. It doesn’t matter whether you opt in or not. What excuse will you make on that day, in that moment for the things you’ve done? You wanted more money, more security? You didn’t have the house or car or clothes that you wanted? There is a generation out there waiting for a new demonstration of Christianity. We will give an account for all of them. We will give an account for what we did for the least of these, not what we gained for ourselves.

Remember 1 John 2:15-17

15 Do not love the world [of sin that opposes God and His precepts], nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust and sensual craving of the flesh and the lust and longing of the eyes and the boastful pride of life [pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father, but are from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and with it its lusts [the shameful pursuits and ungodly longings]; but the one who does the will of God and carries out His purposes lives forever.

How can we take it easy with a thousand tribes to tell?
How can we take it easy in a world that’s bound for hell?
How can we take it easy with the church asleep in its ease?
How can we take it easy? Would someone tell me, please?

Confessions of a Backslider

I have learned a lot over the last few years. I would have to say that most of what I learned was about myself and most of it was not good.

Especially over the last two months when everything truly began to fall apart in my life; things that were stable were no longer that way, everything that I knew as solid vanished. I found myself grasping at air as they sailed away, much like a kid trying desperately to reach the string on a balloon as it slips just out of reach of your too-short grasp.

One thing that I learned in a deeply permanent way is the thing that I want to share with whomever cares to read this. It was a hard won lesson that I probably could have explained previously as a self evident truth intellectually but I had never had the feeling of it seared so deeply or painfully into me as I do at this moment in time.

Apart from Christ, you will never be anything other than what you were before you met him.

I had walked with the Lord for over twenty years when I saw this as truth. I saw first-hand that as soon as I let go of the vine, I transformed into a man that I had believed to be long dead.

The progress and good things that the Lord had molded in me for all of those years simply vanished as if they had never been. The key revelations that had transformed my life and thinking no longer played a part in my thinking processes. The moral ground that I thought that I had gained for all of those years was simply not there any more. I was nothing more than an older version of the bully, drunk and thug that I had been all those years before.

Paul said that he knew that in him, that is, in his flesh, dwelt no good thing. And he was right, you can’t take the gains of Christ with you when you decide to walk away. They stay with the one who gave them to you- hopefully in safe keeping for your return but I don’t know if that’s promised or not.

There is a gaping chasm without Christ. It’s more than a hole that religion previously filled that you now stuff with sex or booze or money. You find yourself without a compass that you counted on, without a hope that kept you secure through the storms, without the peace that we so easily take for granted. You find yourself looking in the mirror and realizing that the person looking back at you is the REAL you. And you don’t know what to do with them. You don’t know how they feel or what they want or where they want to be. All you are sure of is your uncertainty and lack of balance. It’s not much to go with.

One thing that I am sure of is that the older me had far more that the enemy could destroy than the younger me did. Back then when I was first saved, I had a change of clothes and not much else. So the enemy tried to get me to give up the one thing that I did in fact possess- my life. When older me let go of the vine, there was much, much more to lose – such as the love of my best friend and partner for 18 years, the credibility that I had with my children, the honor that I once cherished. That’s not to mention the physical things that were up for grabs as well. I’m sure that the enemy knew that he couldn’t keep me away forever and so he moved quickly to tear up every single thing in my life that I held as precious.

By the time I looked up from feeling sorry for myself it was too late, the damage had been done. The destruction was far reaching, vast and utterly complete. Have you ever woken up from a dream to discover that you’re in a nightmare?

I was shocked when I finally came to my senses. I had mistook the gains that had been gained all those years as my own. Sure I could give lip service to God regarding his role in who I had become but the awful truth is that I really viewed them as my own. My talents, my calling, my anointing. I had become a much better person during the journey and I was quite proud of the juxtaposition between who I was and who I had become.

Believe me, when you take a skinhead, a punk that had begun leaving home at 12 and really never transitioned back- someone that was homeless and a gutterpunk, who some years spent more time in jail rather than out. A prolific seducer of girls that had no conscience about it. A drunk by 19 that was completely self absorbed and completely ruthless and totally selfish. If you can take that guy, who never had an active father to pattern himself after, if you can keep him from prison or suicide; that’s a feat. To transform him into anything resembling a loving husband or father is a miracle. To transform him into a minister? That’s just silly. But that’s precisely what God did with the raggedy life I presented to him all those years ago.

Until I let go of the vine.

It was only then, in the clear cold light of my moment of clarity that I saw the awful truth of it all. I am what I am only by the grace of God. Left to myself, I won’t help you, I will hurt you. I’m a brawler, a drunkard, violent, a liar, blasphemous, lustful, prideful, argumentative, selfish, a manipulator, a cheat and a fiend. I am not a good husband, a good provider, a good father. I’m not a friend unless I gain something from you. The list is almost literally endless. Here I thought that I was someone else, the reciprocal of all of those things. Yet here submitting itself to me was the unshakable conclusion that I tried to fight away with all of my being; Left to myself, I am the same garbage that I was before I knew Jesus.

I am filled with rage and hatred for the enemy, more so than at any point in my life, which is saying something. I am deeply ashamed of who I am without him and I stand in horror at what I am capable of when I let go. I hurt everything and everyone that God had given to me as a gift. I took something precious and handed it over to the enemy. I don’t know that I will ever recover, to be honest. At some points over the last year, I was deeply hurt by others and their actions. I still am if I meditate even briefly on what transpired. I realized something today though that altered my thinking regarding every wound that I received- all of the monsters that surround me are monsters that I created. How do you live with that?

I am finding that out now as I wander through the wreckage of my life with a stunned look on my face, the damage is complete and overwhelming. I feel like the victim of a tornado, drunk with emotion as I stumble around what used to be my home, occasionally stopping to pick up a fragment of a destroyed life that seems to have survived.

The difference that I clearly see between this moment that finds me attempting to salvage something from the most awful attack in my life and the hell that I’ve emerged from is simple and profound and unforgettable – I have come home. When I feel stress or guilt or anxiety, I no longer want a drink to dull it. Instead there is a quick search for a Holy Ghost that so quickly confirms his presence that it humbles me. This beautiful Spirit of God, this incredible being, he actually comforts ME. Me, The guy that defiled precious gifts that he blessed me with. The guy that drank himself into a stupor and cursed God for a liar. The one that hurt his beautiful wife over and over and over. Me. How could he continue to care?

At some point in our walk we must be in danger of conveying our testimony without remembering that feeling. The feeling that is best expressed by saying, “Jesus, how could you love me?”

I have found that place again. Broken, humbled, wounded beyond comprehension but I have found it. And waiting right there at the end of myself is this miracle called the Holy Spirit and this person named Jesus. My Jesus. The one who loved garbage at 19 and then did the unthinkable and still loved him over twenty years later.

You and I will never be anything other than what we were apart from Christ, my friends. So hold tightly to the vine, take no credit for any gain or any success or any power. None of it is you or I. We hold onto the hem of the Nazarene’s garment tightly and let him do what he does best- turn sow’s ears into silk purses.

Be blessed, my friends.

JC

The Corpse of God


“Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: “I am looking for God! I am looking for God!”

As many of those who did not believe in God were standing together there, he excited considerable laughter.

“Have you lost him, then?” said one. “Did he lose his way like a child?” said another. “Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? or emigrated?”

Thus they shouted and laughed. The madman sprang into their midst and pierced them with his glances. “Where has God gone?” he cried. “I shall tell you. We have killed him – you and I. We are his murderers. But how have we done this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon?

What did we do when we unchained the earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving now? Away from all suns?

Are we not perpetually falling? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space?

Has it not become colder? Is it not more and more night coming on all the time? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning? Do we not hear anything yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we not smell anything yet of God’s decomposition?

Gods too decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we, murderers of all murderers, console ourselves?

It has been further related that on that same day the madman entered divers churches and there sang a requiem. Led out and quietened, he is said to have retorted each time: “What are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?”

Friedrich Nietzsche

“Joyous Wisdom”

God is dead. What a frightening thought. To think that the universe spins out of control, perched delicately on an axis that He created, seconds or minutes or hours from the moment when the centrifugal force proves too much and the inevitable tumbling into oblivion takes place.

To think that he is gone, that our lives spent in loving service have been for nothing and no one except for a God who no longer exists.

We are faced every day with more proof that God is indeed dead. We watch the televisions here in America every night; see the massacres in Rwanda or the Genocide in Croatia. We see the young black men killing themselves in record numbers or hear stories of mothers tossing babies into dumpsters or selling them into child porn for a fix.

We as Christians insulate ourselves from the harshness of the world that we live in rather than deal with any of these things. We need more reality positioned about two inches from our face because that is the world we live in. Not the frilly interior designed pre-fab world that Christians surround themselves with.

Rather it is the dark dirt, the black-foaming sewer of real life that is right outside our doors.

It is the view of a world living in the reality of a dead god. And we have created that reality for them. We the Christians have killed god for all intents and purposes.

Like the movie from a few years ago called Weekend at Bernies. We show up for our Christian get-togethers lugging in tow a dead body that we try to present as alive. We kneel in church buildings when we should. We say all the right words. We have a spiritual excuse for every single wrong that happens.

Like a magician who specializes in luring the eye away from where it should be, we are common street hustlers and our hustle is religion.

We tell everyone that God is alive and well. We add to our repertoire several stories that we have heard that help to corroborate this fallacy. Then we sit back and perfect our inner spiritual journey while the world feeds on the filth of its own demise.

And we call it good.

We stand bloody-handed over the body that housed God. And then add insult to injury by painting the corpse up in some mock imitation of whatever representation we need at the moment. We carry that corpse up into whatever building we can afford and prop him up for all the world to see. Not to gaze at the awesome power of the creator, oh no. No, we instead prop him up so that everyone can tell that we have managed to tame him. We have him controlled by our dogma, our statement of faith, our by-laws and boards.

Its safe to come in with us, we cry, look how peaceful he is!

Shocking? Maybe. But it is also the truth. This world is dying everywhere around us while we compromise. The masses are herded over the cliffs of eternity while we posture. It is unbelievable to me. It is incomprehensible how some people can continue to choose to be asleep in the light while the world burns.

And yet here we are. Beyond all reason, here we are. We continue to worship the monument rather than the creator. We continue to make cheap excuses and formulas rather than dare to ask the questions. And so we have killed God.

We have killed him in the minds of the world that surrounds us. They see our blatant disregard for the tenets of the faith and stand in transfixed awe at our stupidity. We posture as if he is alive and blessing us but where is he?

When I see preachers in some churches driving overly expensive automobiles and being given sympathy cruises to the Bahamas, I hope that God is behind the blessing.

But I have gone out to the reservations to preach to the First Nation. I have worked with the homeless kids in downtowns across America. I have seen the preacher on the reservation that no one cares about, who works three jobs to provide not only for his family but for the church as well.

I have prayed with the preacher who has quietly endured a living hell so that the sheep are safe. I have hugged and loved the AIDS victim living out his last moments in a free hospice and been told that no church has ever come to see him because he is gay.

And I scream at the sheer audacity of these charlatan thieves. The world thinks God dead because we have settled for the lie. Rather than dare to live in the reality of God, we choose the safer path.

The disease of the church is systemic and real change can only come to it from outside of it. The church speaks to themselves for themselves and shine one another’s unused armor while the world burns and the graveyards fill with the bodies of those who have lived and died in a world where God was dead.

I know many of you recoil at me saying that God is dead over and over. But let me ask you, if he is not- could you tell me what he looks like?

Is God clean or dirty? Is he rich or poor? Is he beautiful or ugly? Is God a capitalist, placing money above the needs of the poor and degenerate among us? Is he a Republican or Democrat? Is he a socialist or communist, placing all power in the hands of the state and stripping people of their rights and identity? Is he middle class, upper class or lower class? What does he look like?

I used to think that God looked like a TV preacher or an ancient Greek God, high up on the mountain hurling lightning bolts.

But now I know the truth. God looks like the suffering, the broken and the wounded. God looks like the homeless man and the hopeless drunk. God looks like the one you would least expect because his heart is just not in the same place as ours is.

In the film Entertaining Angels, Dorothy Day, exhausted from a life of serving the outcast and the poor, runs to a church to pray. Looking up at a statue of Jesus, she breaks down and appeals to him in a raw, heart-wrenching way.

She says to God: “Where are you? Why don’t you answer me? I need you! These brothers and sisters of yours, the ones you want me to love, let me tell you something. They smell! They have lice and tuberculosis! Am I to find you in them?—Well, you’re ugly! You stink! You wet your pants! You vomit! How could anyone love you?”

But she did love them and by doing so, she loved Christ.

So, I have this to say, friends. God is not dead. We are. We have forgotten whose we are and whom we serve. We have been playing marbles with diamonds. And shame on us. Shame on us for what we have done.

But remember this one thing; Leonard Ravenhill said that revival is what happens when God gets so sick and tired of being misrepresented that he shows himself.

We need a revival of remembering, a revival of humility and meekness. We need a revival of the genuine selfless love of Christ. We need a revival of purity, power and hope.

We need a revival of true Christianity in an age of Laodicean compromise.

Because the world doesn’t need our churches or our programs, they need our Jesus and no one is talking about him anymore.

Eulogy for the American Preacher

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I am sorry. I am sad to report that preparations are underway for the funeral of someone who has been, up to this point, an American mainstay: the Preacher.

I regret to inform you all that in the event of his death, there will be no open casket or even a time of visitation, as most who would have mourned his passing in the past, today would no longer much care.

For those who are unfamiliar with the preacher, his story can be found in virtually every chapter of our American history. He is seen in the first colony that landed on Plymouth Rock and you could find him shaking the windows of Philadelphia and the rest of the 13 colonies during and after the American Revolution. It was the Preacher in those days that rallied the troops and caused the swelling of national pride as he rode far and wide in the Black Regiment.

The preacher was active on both sides of the War Between the States. D.L. Moody served as a missionary on the front, finding out if dying men were saved before they perished. And in the South, the preachers would hold impromptu baptism services whenever they could, sometimes even in the midst of battle and in full view of the enemy.

America has heard the voices of A.W. Tozer and Paris Reidhead preaching a true Prophetic call. We heard the voice of Edwards, Whitefield and Ironside, Roberts and Ravenhill tell us that God was terrifying, loving and infinitely just. They would level a room with their voices expressing the holiness of God and the depravity of man. And in their voice the depraved heard the soft and tender call of the grace of God.

And yet today in America the voice of the preacher has nearly fallen silent. And I am grieved to carry to your itching ears the somber news that the voice that we need to hear now more than ever, may never be heard from again.

The American preacher, that icon of modern religion, the last of a long and noble line, has been on an unpublished endangered species list for decades. And here at the turning of the tide, at that moment when it would seem that we need him the most, his absence leaves a hole that can be felt only by the discerning heart that longs after God.

For in these days of the soft Prophet, the buddy, the encourager and the snake-oil salesman, the voice that calls you to awaken from your hyper-grace induced slumber is not welcome. Who wants to hear someone yell in a service anyway? Who in their right mind wants a return to the days of fire and brimstone when men spoke for God and called the comfortable to repentance and the lukewarm to task? Why should I repent, change, convert, awaken, give, love, serve?

Why should I give anything back in exchange for the grace that I lavish on myself, like the murderer who desperately tries to cleanse his hands under an open tap from the blood that he has just shed?

Who would want a return to those days when the church sought those who were lost, called the prodigal home and the truth searched the hearts of the un-consecrated in the sheepfold? Many eagerly await the news, it seems, that the voice of the preacher has fallen silent for good. That the one who troubled us is gone and his like shall not be seen again anymore.

But the annals of history shall reveal the terrible truth: that should we choose to let the preacher die- we choose to let the hopes of revival and indeed, the salvation of our nation die as well.

And choose it is, have no doubt about that. We choose when we do not pray for those standing between the living and the dead, calling for reinforcements in the battle of the ages. We choose when we withhold support, we choose when we do not attend meetings and we choose when we do not invite them to our churches and communities.

We choose, all of us. And that choice is to leave this nation in the spiritual hands of the mealy-mouthed purveyors of the humanistic Gospel. It is to abandon the morals of our nation to the oversight of those who will not offend the masses- so long as they continue to give. We will give over the helm to those that would abandon absolutes for post-modern questions with no answers, leadership with no authority, eternity with no certainty and doctrine with no foundation, other than the bi-polar whims of the Adonijah that stands before you.

God help us but the church has been all but usurped by businessmen who equate spiritual success with physical numbers and money. And in order to achieve that, they say nothing that may offend. When the goal is numbers and money, why stand for truth?

Who speaks for God today, the High and Holy One that does not look at crowds but individual hearts? Do we remember that He is still the One that overturned the tables of the moneychangers in the temple as they merchandized worship? The one who desires obedience and not sacrifice? The one who rejected the mammon of this world for true riches and told us that a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his goods? Will we give over the reins of the Church to those who would attempt to crown Him with those very things that He rejected, as Tozer said?

The American Preacher is not extinct, not just yet. But he is rare enough that even spotting one deserves observance. Like the nature photographer who sees a Siberian Tiger feeding in the wild; it is not impossible but neither is it expected. And how we need him today.

God, raise up prophets once again, those who cry loud and spare not. Give us those who come to the pulpits and the streets fresh from an encounter with your Spirit in prayer. Send us those who carry in their hearts and upon their lips, hot coals from the altar of God. Give us those who are beautifully broken, who do not abuse in anger, but plead in earnestness. Give us those whose passion for you far outstrips their fear of man. Send us the Reformers, the Revivalists, the Repentant who cry for repentance, the Radicals who see no value in mere money but desire justice above all else. Send us our Whitefield and Wesley, our Edwards and Luther.

Deliver us from Adonijah and Absolom, God. And glorify yourself once again in us, in our churches, in our cities and in this land.

Final push to Cleveland

Hello friends.
We are almost ready for the big ministry push to Cleveland,  Slavic Village.

A lion’s share of the finances has come in but we find ourselves in a pinch for the last bit that will allow us to go.

We understand that this is not your backyard and we understand that you have obligations that are in your backyard.

But the Kingdom of God and the supremacy of Christ is a world issue, not just a backyard issue. Through 24 years of innovative ministry, we have seen God do wonderful things in unlikely places. We believe that Slavic Village is next on that list.

We are so certain of His calling to impact this area that we are moving our family there to start the work.

To do this, we are making this final push for the remaining $3000.00 by this coming Friday. If you can’t give all of it, we ask that you take a moment and ask God about giving a portion of it.

God bless and may the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering.

https://americanpentecost.wordpress.com/give/

Together we win,
James and Shana Smith