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.

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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.

Spirit Filled Evangelist

We are in transition as a ministry. It has been a long, strange trip and it feels like many pieces are finally falling into place. Today, one of the final pieces rolled into place as we felt the mandate to roll power gift evangelism back to the forefront of what we do.

There is an incredible lack of Spirit filled Evangelists in the church right now, they simply do not fit in with most Pastor’s personal agendas. It could be added however that most of those Pastors do not fit in with God’s agenda.

We need a return of men speaking to communities with more of the truth of the Word and a demonstration of the supremacy of Christ and less pandering to the whims of the world system with seeker sensitive church growth methods.

We have totally lost our way, my friends, and looking for yet another new church is not the answer. Those of us that feel this to be true must transition now away from a compromised system and into one based upon the manifest power of God and confrontational truth.

How badly we have swerved away from the truth is easily demonstrated. Awhile ago, I was given a gift for visiting a church on a Sunday morning. The church was an Assembly of God and they gave us June’s copy of “Today’s Pentecostal Evangel”. Inside was an article on “The Changing Face of Evangelism” and there was a picture of Billy Sunday and some hipster that I didn’t know.

Anyway, as I read, I became livid.

The first comment that caught my attention was the following, “Gone are the days when a camp meeting was a big event in town”. I thought to myself, “Okay, that’s just an opinion. It lacks foresight but I can agree to disagree with that.” Then I read further “An Evangelist supplements by providing a particular specialty that may not be the local Pastor’s strength, such as teaching on Spirit baptism.”

Um…what?

“The Evangelist complements by teaching the people from a second voice that confirms what the Pastor has been sharing with them.”

Are you kidding me? That is the job of the Evangelist in the church, to complement the local Pastor? And this was coming from the AG! I’m sorry but I don’t know what books they are handing out in Springfield for leaders to read but apparently it isn’t the Bible anymore.

The reason that we are at a .02 percent growth rate for new conversions is because the evangelist has gone as extinct as the Dodo bird. When the people who carry the anointing and calling of God that acts as the means of grace for God to save a soul are busy confirming what a Pastor is saying, no one will be getting saved. When our evangelists spend all of their time going inside churches and no time outside of it, we are in trouble. When they must “book dates” and raise money, they cannot focus on their calling because they have become businessmen instead of prophets.

How did we ever get here?

Here’s is the revelation that we must get right now: you are besieged, church. You are trapped behind the four walls of your church by the enemy outside and the only ministry that you know is to other besieged people. You are devouring one another and defining ministry gifts by what you can do while you are besieged, not by what God had intended for us as His church!

The job of an Evangelist is not to supplement a local Pastor. The job of an Evangelist is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, in the world. But our Evangelists are not Evangelists anymore; they are travelling preachers with a career agenda and money on the brain. In fact, I don’t even think that I personally know an Evangelist other than Mario Murillo right now.

Let me lay this out for you- it is time and high time for a coup d’church; a radical overthrow of all of the things that we know are wrong in the system but do nothing about.

What is our current state, you ask? Well, let’s take the Moravian Church for instance, who at one time held a 24/7 prayer ministry for 100 years while sending out over 300 missionaries to areas unreached by the Gospel message. Today many of them doubt the infallibility of the very Word that scores of them gave their lives for in the past.

When those who should lead us have fallen into secularism and liberalism, it is time for a coup d’church.

Methodist women used to have “pray-in’s” where they all sat as a group in front of the doors of local taverns and prayed, refusing to move and refusing to allow anyone inside. Methodists used to hold camp meetings where God moved, people repented and were saved. They used to send circuit riders all over the country, covering rural areas with the good news. Today they are now mainstream and neither God nor the people move.

When the new wineskin becomes the old wineskin, unable to contain any new wine, its time for a coup d’church.

We could mention the Salvation Army or the Presbyterian Church and how far removed they are from the radical manifestations of revival in their past.

We could mention Pentecostals who now too dignified to have the gifts of the Spirit operate in public or the Word of Faith folks who took revelation from God and started commanding stones to become bread for their own use.

The list is too long and too painful for me because I love the church. But I cannot abide what a church does to people when it is based on lies, compromise and the world system.

The disease of the church is systemic and what change can come to it must come from outside of it, period.

We must take what we can from the past and never lose them while being sure to lose everything that came later as a result of the compromises of weak men. To be clear, I am calling for an outright revolt where it is deserved. I am calling for a coup in the church because they are simply not competent to lead us into the future.

Let us love them but get free. Let us wish them well but move on. Let us hold no malice but not compromise an instant longer. Let us harbor no bitterness but press forward.

The days of revival are coming, mark my words. But Saul’s armor does not fit and simply singing in the camp is not the battle that we were born for. There is no revival because the people that God has chosen to ignite it refuse to break free and seek him until he is found.

That is you.

You were born for better than this. You were placed on this planet for a time such as this, enginneered by God for the Hell you would see. But you have to be that person right now, throwing off all restraint and the chains of men. Because you are the change that you have been waiting for

Call for help: Slavic Village

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As all of you know, we have been preparing to head to Europe. However, a few days ago we felt God saying that there was some “unfinished business” that needed attended before we go.
After praying about it, I felt sure that he was referring to Slavic Village in Cleveland.

I first went to Cleveland in the fall of 2014 for two weeks. I stayed with a friend and helped him through a hard time in his life. I also did some teaching while I was there to small groups. Towards the end of my trip, I was in prayer during the day and I saw in my spirit some young men beckoning to me from across the street. A sign on the building behind them read “Slavic Village”.

So I went to my friend and asked if he had ever heard of a Slavic Village. He replied that he thought it was in Cleveland. We drove over that afternoon and I witnessed the devastation for the first time. I felt that God wanted me to start a church there and my friend was to look for a building that we could start in.

Six months later, due to circumstances, no progress had been made. I contacted my friend and attempted to make plans to go back to carry out what God had told me to do. I felt I was to go but my friend had too much going on to do any ministry with me.

I can remember sitting in the woods after my friend said it wasn’t a good time to come and really struggling with God. I felt that he had told me to go and yet nothing was working. I had bought a ticket that was sitting in my pocket but I had nowhere to go once I got there. Suddenly, I heard God as clearly as I ever have say to me ” Am I not God in Cleveland? ”

So I headed out not knowing anyone or where I would go. On the way, my friend found me a place to stay in Slavic Village with some Christians.

They were very gracious and put me up for over 50 days. For over 50 days I taught every single night. For 50 days, I did Street ministry, fought social justice battles and prayed.

I was alone the entire time, having left my family in Wisconsin. We felt that it was prophetic and that when the way was made for my wife to come that the Holy Spirit would come to Slavic Village.

The way was never made. We had offers for buildings, vehicles that could be purchased and genuine plans that could be implemented immediately. But we could find no one to help. Promises were made that were not followed up on. The people there just did not seem to care about their own city enough to give towards a ministry there.

After a few months back home, I gave up on Slavic Village. The harvest was there but the church was completely ineffective. If you are going to minister an effective Gospel in an area that has more foreclosures and abandoned homes than anywhere else in the country, you need help. If you hope to introduce the Kingdom of God to the main drug trafficking area in Ohio, you need help. And I could find no one that cared for much besides their own concerns.

After the Lord spoke to us about unfinished business three days ago, we began looking to head that direction. We contacted church Pastors that I knew and people that had attended our meetings. The biggest need was securing a home there, fixing that home and then using it as a ministry base to shift a region.

Well, we are excited to announce that a four bedroom home has been totally donated for this ministry. It has been stripped and needs new pipes and wires, the inside needs refinished and it needs appliances, a heater and AC. What else it needs, we don’t know.

We want to retrofit it green, using sustainable materials and technology. We believe that a revolution can occur among the poor if we show them how to get independent of the world system and plugged into God’s abundance. We want to use solar, a water catchment system, heat sinks and plant a complete permaculture garden.

We also want to use it as a ministry center, holding nightly revival meetings, offering discipleship and community building as well.

We believe there is hope, even in this hopeless place. We believe that we can start a movement where the church gains control of properties and changes the spiritual climate of the region.

I am pasting an old article here from CNNMoney that talks about the issues facing Slavic Village. If after reading it, you can see the importance of getting a Kingdom based Gospel preached there, please give generously towards this project via our GIVE tab.

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CLEVELAND (CNNMoney.com) — When homeowners moved away after a wave of foreclosures in Cleveland’s working-class neighborhood of Slavic Village, crime took off.
Slavic Village is known as the worst neighborhood in the nation for foreclosures. In a study for CNNMoney, RealtyTrac calculated that properties in its ZIP code recorded more foreclosure filings in three months than anywhere else in the United States.
According to Jim Rokakis, Cuyahoga County Treasurer, more than 800 houses now sit vacant and moldering in the area, which was founded in the 1840s by Polish and Bohemian immigrants who worked in area steel mills and factories.
The first thing that happened after owners moved out of foreclosed homes in Slavic Village was that squatters and looters moved in, according to Mark Wiseman, director of the Cuyahoga County Foreclosure Prevention Program. “In the inner city, it takes about 72 hours for a house to be looted after it is vacant,” he said.
Walking around the neighborhood, Mark Seifert, director of the East Side Organizing Project pointed out a home he said was still occupied less than two weeks before. The gutters and downspouts were already gone, and trash covered the yard.

Long-time Slavic Village resident Joe Krasucki had celebrated his 78th birthday last spring, when, late in the evening, he heard some noise and went out for a look. Reports said he’d had run-ins with local gangs before. A neighbor’s abandoned house had already been stripped of its aluminum siding and, according to Rokakis, Krasucki thought the looters were back, working on his home. Outside, he was attacked and badly beaten. He died some days later.
After stripping the siding, looters don’t take long to make a vacant property nearly worthless.
“If someone takes the doors, moldings, appliances, it’s bad enough,” said Wiseman. “But once they pull the piping out, it’s all over; they do it with a sledge hammer.”
Putting a house back together takes money, more money than the restored home could bring on the market. And stopgap programs, such as razing derelict houses, aren’t feasible – Cuyahoga County only has a few million dollars available for demolition work, and Wiseman estimates at least $100 million is needed.
Many houses in Slavic Village have had their siding stripped up to the roof lines. A few criminal masterminds even stripped vinyl siding, apparently unaware of the difference in wholesale scrap prices between plastic and metal.
When a house is derelict, people will dump garbage in the yard, rather than pay for haulage. Windows are broken, and doors are stolen, opening up the interior to the elements. In Cleveland’s cold and damp climate, the houses deteriorate quickly. But some not badly enough to keep drug dealers out.
Asteve’e “Cookie” Thomas was just 12 years old this past summer when she was gunned down coming out of a Slavic Village candy store, caught in a crossfire from suspected dealers engaged in a drug war. Seifert said one of the alleged shooters was using an abandoned house in the neighborhood as a base.
According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, five people, including Thomas and Krasucki, have been killed in Slavic Village in the past two years: In July, Grady Smith, 27, was shot outside his home while working on his car. In Nov. 2006, Roman Grasela, 71, died of blows to his head after his house was broken into. And in October 2005, Therese Szelugowski, 76, died weeks after falling and hitting her head after she was mugged.

Some Slavic Village home owners, still hoping to salvage something out of houses they have vacated, have installed stout doors on entryways with thick locks. They board up windows with three-quarter-inch, exterior-grade plywood.
Others attempt to thwart looters by advertising the lack of anything of value inside. They paint signs saying: “No copper, No wiring, PVC.”
Residents have tried to fight back, organizing neighborhood watch groups and lobbying the police, who, many feel, are too often missing in action.
Seifert pointed out an open, empty lot on one block that had been used by car thieves for months and months to store and strip parts from stolen cars. It took a concerted effort by a local group called “Bring Back the 70’s” (which refers to the street numbers in the neighborhood) to get the police to clear the lot of the thieves.
But as the number of empty lots and abandoned houses grows where houses and residents were once packed in a tight community, there are fewer and fewer neighbors to fight the battle. 

Battlelines: The Wal-Mart Church

So, I have watched as the church has transformed over the last 21 years. Actually, it has been even longer than that because I have been around some aspect of the church my entire life. When I was growing up, it was in a small Pentecostal church in Pennsylvania. The church was never large, that was not even on the radar in those days. The question was one of effectiveness, not numbers.

If someone were getting saved, delivered or healed, the church was a success. They might struggle for finances or stay in the same building for 30 years without anyone raising the question of whether or not they were supposed to be there. If God was present, that closed the issue.

When I was first saved, it was pretty much the same. In fact, if you were a big church it probably meant that you had compromised something vital in order to get the numbers up. The focus was still not on size but rather quality of ministry, purity of the Word spoken and effectiveness in evangelism.

Back then there was still street ministry and witnessing that took place, imagine that. And a preacher could still get a crowd if he came to town. If you spit hard enough you would hit an evangelist in shiny shoes. True story. I began my ministry as an Evangelist, first on the streets and then travelling from town to town.

Then Swaggart and Bakker happened. Suddenly, being an Evangelist was linked to money and televangelist flash and it became one of the least popular professions in the country. Pretty soon, you couldn’t find an Evangelist to save your life, unless it was in Africa. Everyone here in America started being “teachers” (during the Word of Faith craze) and then later “prophets” (during the prophetic movement).

Today we just have a hole where a foundational gift to the church used to be.

During these years we also saw the rise of the monster named Rex Walmartasaurus in corporate America. They would plant one of these stores in a town and slowly drain the life from all of their competition. First it was the competition in the city falling by the wayside as Kmart, Shopko, Sears and many others started to tank. Wal-Mart offered everything and they offered it cheaper than everything else. And in a culture addicted to convenience, having everything available in one great location became like crack. Soon, small mom and pop stores had to start shutting the doors because they simply could not compete with the Wal-Mart juggernaut.

Even in the town where we live, prices are dollars higher per item in our local store than at Wal-Mart. And in a slow growth economy, who is going to drive around looking for different items when Goliath has everything right there at your fingertips.

So, small stores in small towns have been forced to adapt in order to survive. The only way to do that is by carving out a niche as a boutique and offering super specialized items that can’t be found at a big box store.

Get the picture? Our small towns have become bedroom communities as our industry moved to big cities and then our commercial businesses got smaller and more restricted in order to stay afloat. The big box dominates all and a person is hard pressed to start a business and prosper by offering goods and services to their own town. Everyone drives 30 minutes to the nearest Wal-Mart rather than pay higher prices for a smaller selection.

The same is true in the church and the changes took place at the same time.

Today, you have mega churches (where God is interested in what they are doing), upper-middle sized churches (that are on their way to being mega) and the small churches serving communities (where God ignores them because they are too small, because if you are from God, you gots to be big, baby).

The mega church offers everything: campuses designed to look like city streets with shops, bookstores, jungle gyms, Kids areas designed to look like castles, programs for everything from singles to the Latvian Lesbian midget support groups. Everything is right there at your convenience and you can rest assured that the teaching is good because the preacher is on TV, which is a sure sign of personal integrity, dedicated prayer lives and orthodox teaching. These are the Wal-Mart’s of the church world. Everyone from the area goes to these places because they can be anonymous, catered to, they are offered convenience and the chance to be a part of something big.

The mini mega church is like the Target chain. They have some of the good stuff, just less of it. But they really want to be a Wal-Mart and so they adapt to whatever Wal-Mart is doing. Ambition drives these churches, usually helmed by a preacher who is certain that he is the next big thing. They have all of the things that it is going to take to break the ceiling and become big and solidify what they have always known: they are from God (I am big! You like me, you really like me!).

At the same time that the fight for growth is occurring, you have those that don’t really matter laboring on anonymously inside of a small church. These churches are like bases in baseball where all of the church hoppers, ne’er-do-wells, dysfunctional elites and know-it-alls have to make brief stops before quitting the system altogether. They are usually hampered by a lack of finances, a lack of devotion, an overabundance of tourists and the crushing weight of ineffectiveness and obscurity.

Now, let me ask you; is this the way that it is supposed to be?

The answer that we need isn’t as simple as some would have us to believe. It is not a matter of the first church having met in houses and so we should meet in houses too. Because near as I can tell, church buildings and houses both have walls, floors, ceilings and windows. They are both buildings, Copernicus. The reason that the first church met in homes was because it was illegal to be a Christian, the synagogues (where they preferred to meet) were closed to them and they couldn’t build a temple.

No, the answer isn’t about location, style or format; it is all about motivations.

Why are any of us doing this? Is it to get rich or famous? If it is, go sit in the back of the bus.

Is it to fulfill our own ego by equating ministry success with personal worth? Go to the back of the bus.

Is it to control people and build a cult following? Sorry, back of the bus for you.

God needs a people that are interested in effectiveness rather than notoriety. We need to change our definition of success so that the question of God’s glory is included somewhere. We need to stop basing our determination of spiritual success on material possessions. And we need to start counting bodies healed, lives changed, hearts melted, lives repenting and salvations occurring as the primary gauge of ministry effectiveness.

We as ministers must start speaking the truth in love with boldness, no matter how large the congregation that God has us serving. We must hear from Him alone as to what He wants our branch of the government of God to be doing.

We must act as ambassadors, regardless of the region that we serve. We have to care for the poor, shower the region with common grace, preach boldly so that the elect hear the message and respond and change the spiritual temperature where we live. Bringing the Kingdom of God to where we live and making that area resemble heaven- that is our calling.

It has nothing to with the flesh, with numbers, with money. And many big time preachers sitting in big time churches are going to be in big time trouble when they approach the Bema and find out that God was more interested in how they treated a little obscure pastor or how they overlooked the poor and hurting than in how big of a building they built to house their congregation of spiritual pygmies.

Have you been reading the red and the book of Acts like I suggested in the last article? Then you should be ready for this next bit.

You will not find success in Christ by buying into the Wal-Mart doctrine. It isn’t through being clever or different that you will see numbers go up. That is the boutique mindset and it can only survive, not thrive. You won’t find personal fulfillment by chasing mega churches or mega preachers either. You will only find success as you get back to basics, shun the system, leave the camp and seek God. See, I have news for you preachers- numbers are no gauge as to God’s favor because it can be counterfeited. No, God’s favor comes through the fire, through prayer and through the breaking of a man until he resembles the Christ that he serves.

I want you to start acting today as if your life is under the hand of sovereign arrangement. Every person that you talk to, every setback that you experience, every temptation, trial and tribulation that comes your way has a hand behind it. The true quality of your life and ministry will be measured by your responses to the acts of God’s sovereign arrangements and by nothing else.

Many of the things that we do for God will not matter at all because they did not originate in God but in ourselves. But our responses to the things that have their origin in Him, they will mean everything.

So, forget the hype and the hoopla, the game and the boy’s club. Instead, consecrate your life to him, ask for the wisdom to see his sovereign arrangements and then live those moments as you saw Jesus live and teach about and the first church carry out. Being big isn’t important, being faithful and pure is.

Battlelines: The Preamble

Revolution is about the overthrow of one system for another. In the course of time, two ideas that once co-existed have finally become diametrically opposed to one another. At the outset of revolution, one side remains entrenched in power while the other side actively seeks to supplant it. This is revolution, friends, and never mind what the commercials tell you or what the trendy youth group says that it is. Revolution is messy, divisive, chaotic and uncomfortable. Real revolution is never pleasant; the two different sides will dig in and defend their positions, violently if necessary. This was just as true for David and Saul as it is in our day. When God begins to do a new thing, the old thing starts chucking javelins.

Today we find ourselves in a pre-revolutionary period in the church. All of the pieces are in place if you look for them. They are sitting there, simmering just under the surface, waiting for a spark, a move, a shot across the bow that will send the mighty wheel of revolution turning. This is the calm before the storm, that moment when détente is being practiced by diplomats and people are seeking ways to build a compromise that will leave everyone happy.

But there will be none of that. The gulf between mindsets is too far apart now. The ideas and ideals of the two parties can’t be brought together. Saul knows that David is the next thing, his kingdom is coming to an end and his only legacy will be a cautionary tale of humanism, corporatism, gimmicks and the substitution of the real for the gimmick.

It is my experience that people generally do not want to hear this truth. That is especially true in our world today. What we want instead is a series of affirmations that what we think, feel or do is right. We seek churches that will do this, ministries that will do this and read books that do this. When we hear that something that we have been believing is wrong, we immediately get defensive, it is just our humanist nature, I guess.

The history of the Christian church is one of progressive revelation. At times the church has forgotten this and tried to introduce something that had no basis in what God was previously doing. The result of this is always the same- error, heresy and shame. The Protestant church of the 20th century bears no similarities to the church of the 19th century. The Pentecostals have lost Azusa and the Methodist church only resembles Asbury and Wesley in name only. The Salvation Army has become thrift stores without salvation, an army of retailers and not revivalists. The reformed churches have forgotten Calvin and Knox while the Presbyterians have forgotten Red River.

We have forgotten who we are and have simply started just making things up that felt good to our flesh. But God instructs us his people line upon line, precept upon precept. The revelation of the previous generation becomes your foundation and God then adds to his grand story with the lines of your age.

Like all true revolutions, this one will occur when we make a decision that no matter what, we must get free or die. The disease of the church is systemic and the only ones that support what it has become are the fat cats that profit from it. For the rest of us, we cannot live in the system as it is set up and we can tolerate no compromise with it. And so we, like Moses, must leave the camp and seek God where he is.

The fault of where we find ourselves today can be laid at the feet of a few trends that have become the norm in the last 40 years or so and an older worldview that has infected us to our core. Let me be clear, these methods and worldviews have nothing to do with the progressive revelation of God but are rather compromises with the spirit of the age. And we must begin to see them as exactly that- a hindrance to revival and in enmity with God.

  1. The church growth movement with its emphasis on numbers and money as a gauge of success.
  2. The pragmatic mindset that excuses any gimmick, fad or phase as being from God if it works to appeal to the flesh of men.
  3. The corporate mindset that tells us that we should grow real big and offer everything to everyone, like Wal-Mart, then franchise our product all over. This mindset has caused the exact same “big-box store versus boutique” phenomenon in the church as it has in the world marketplace.
  4. The individualistic mindset that constantly focuses all attention and energy on the all-powerful ME.
  5. Finally, the humanistic mindset that places the highest priority on man and his existence rather than on God and his eternal glory.

This is American Churchianity. And like seeing an embattled and aged Ali sitting ringside at a boxing match, everyone knows what you used to be and pities what you have become.

God willing, this is the start of a new series that will begin to look at each of these things in detail and offer the alternative. What you do with this is up to you. I would encourage you to read what is written, prayerfully consider the implications and then commit yourself to the revolution with wild abandon.

Merry Corporate Christmas.

“Now I’m standing on the corner, all the worlds gone home,
Nobody’s changed, Nobody’s been saved,
And I’m feeling cold and alone
I guess I’m lucky, I smile a lot
But sometimes I wish for more than I’ve got
What about me, It isn’t fair
I’ve had enough, now I want my share,
Can’t you see, I wanna live
But you just take more than you give.”

~What About Me, Moving pictures

So much is taught on in today’s church. You could literally fill your calendar attending conferences on everything from prosperity to revival. Big time preachers fill big time venues with people clamoring to hear what they have to say. We chase every flavor of the month that comes down the pike, listen to the hottest band, buy the biggest book and subscribe to the latest fads. And yet, in the midst of all of these wonderful exhibitions of man’s oratory mastery and emotional manipulation, do we ever say, or hear, what actually needs to be said and heard?

On a local level, we faithfully (-ish) attend church on Sundays to hear messages that we soon forget and seldom put into practice. We try not to overlook asking God’s blessing on our day and to read our daily devotional. We are Christians and yet it is doubtful if many would be found guilty if they were charged with it in a court of law.

But let me ask you this, does any of what we fill our days with do any good at all when we neglect one of the most foundational elements of the Christian life? Does the newest hit by the hottest Christian band that moved you emotionally actually mean anything at all when your life starts, exists and ends with you?

The Apostle Paul wrote that one of the markers that we could use to determine where man was on the eternal timeline is found in 2 Timothy 3:2, “Men shall be lovers of their own selves”. Granted, there have always been selfish people but never on a scale like we are seeing today. It has practically become a religion in and of itself. In fact, it is a major evangelistic tool here in the early 21st century. The very best way to attract a crowd to your church or event here in America is to make it all about them.

This is true despite clear scriptural references to the satanic origins of selfishness and clear direction against it.

“Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s good.” 1 Cor. 10:24.

“Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Phil. 2:4

The problem is foundational.

We hold meetings using lights, smoke, emotional appeals using music and offers for God to fix everything. We tell those who want a ‘Get out of hell free card’ to just raise their hands and repeat a prayer after us while no one is looking around.We then tell them to read their bible and pray and listen to Christian music and stop cussing and cut their hair and wear Christian clothes and stop smoking and stop lusting and pretend to be holy and say Christian words and…

Well, that’s about it. Oh, and give money and attend church.

But let me break down the true process of Christianity for you. You were dead, without hope and without God. God called you from the grave. You heard his call and repented. You met him at the cross. You died there. You were then buried with him in baptism. He then raised you to new life. You now live for him and no longer for yourself.

Contrast and compare.

My hypothesis (and it is a good one) is that it is kind of like Christmas has become. It is everywhere at this time of year. You have John Lennon singing about it on the radio, malls filled with shoppers and gifts, towns lit with blinky lights and wreaths, Santa appears at the local grocery store to hold screaming children on his lap and you are bombarded with commercials on what you should buy someone if you really loved them.

The problem is that none of it has anything to do with Jesus, Christianity or him being born.

In essence, most of what passes for corporate Christianity today is exactly like that. We used to be churches and Christians but now we have morphed into something else. And occasionally, we try to remember the true spirit of the thing in the midst of embracing all that it has mutated into. And the sad truth is that we prefer the perversion.

If we were to tell people the truth of Christianity, they would hate us. And having someone hate you is not good for business. I have actually had people say that one of the reasons they no longer attend our church was because they always felt like they weren’t doing enough, as if you could “do enough” to repay the debt of Calvary. And that hits at the heart of the matter, doesn’t it?

We want to give if it is given to us, pressed down, shaken together and running over. The thought of true ownership never crosses our minds. It is His money, not ours. We want to die but only as a symbolic act. We want to take up our cross if that means as little suffering as possible.

So, like corporate Christmas, we have become corporate Christians.

Every Christmas, you see some signs that tell people, “Jesus is the reason for the season!”  We should place banners up in our churches on Sundays that remind people; “Jesus is the reason for this church, this life, this mission and this meeting”. Because we have forgotten that and have turned towards self and self-gratification as a replacement for what is too hard.

“The problem with Christianity is not that it has been tried & found wanting but that it has not been tried” G.K. Chesterton

Selfishness causes us to ask how a church meets our needs rather than how we can lay down our lives to further the work of God locally. Self causes us to engage in emotionalism rather than engage the real Spirit of God, who will burn up our chaff with unquenchable fire. Self will say that we don’t like being convicted, we would rather be encouraged. Self always seeks its own and hopes that God will bless it.

Love never does. Love never seeks its own. Love doesn’t leave. Love serves others first.

So, for this Corporate Christmas season for all of  the Corporate Christians out there, I have rewritten a portion of scripture for use on Corporate Christmas morning. Just gather your friends and family around you and read this out loud. you will be blessed and affirmed and that’s what we all long for, right?

“If with the tongues of men and of angels I speak, and have not self, I will not make any money, or gain great fame for what I do; and if I have prophecy, and know all the secrets, and all the knowledge, and if I have all the faith, so as to remove mountains, and have not self, what do I get out of it? And if I give money away and feed others all my goods, and if I give up my body that I may be burned, and do not put my self first, then I will just suffer and how can I help others if I am suffering myself? No, let me first have all and lack nothing and then I will have enough to spare.

Self  is not long-suffering, it is not really “kind” in the traditional sense, the self is glad to envy because that is how we get further, the self vaunts itself in order to promote itself, is totally puffed up because confidence in yourself is good, acts unseemly but it pays off in the end, seeks its own things, is easily provoked by things less than itself, imputes evil in order to better itself, rejoices over the unrighteousness because it makes it look better, and changes the truth to suit itself; all things it endures only because it wants to, all things it believes are comfortable, all things it hopes for it prospers from, all that it does, it gains from.

And now there remains the self, the world and the devil–these three; and the greatest of these is self.”

Merry corporate Christmas everyone!