Looking for Ezras

June 16, 2008 at 1:32 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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I was reading a section of scripture last night that got me thinking about something. The passage that I read was Ezra 6-10. In it, the Israelites are coming out of captivity and returning to Jerusalem. As they return to their homeland and begin to resettle, something is brought to Ezra’s attention that causes him to tear his garments and weep for Israel. The leaders of Israel come to Ezra and tell him:

 

“The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, according to their abominations, those of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians and the Amorites. For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race has intermingled with the peoples of the lands; indeed, the hands of the princes and the rulers have been foremost in this unfaithfulness.”

Ezra’s response is to tear his garment, pull out some of his hair and sit appalled (stunned/devastated). Scripture says that everyone who trembled at the word of God sat with him. They did this until the evening offering. At the time of the evening offering, Ezra gets on his knees before the Lord and prays. In his prayer he expresses embarrassment and shame in regard to the way the leaders of Israel have acted. He cries out because of the guilt of iniquity that Israel still walks in. The people who feel the same as Ezra gather with him weeping as well. They then decide to call an assembly in Jerusalem. This assembly was mandatory and would result in being cut off if you didn’t show up. They gathered in the open square before the house of God in heavy rain trembling in fear of God. Ezra then stands up before the people of Israel and tells them that they have added to the guilt of Israel by disobeying God and marrying foreign wives. He calls them to take an oath and to separate themselves from the peoples of the land and from their foreign wives. The assembly responds in agreement, recognizing their lsin and takes the oath. The ask for time due to conditions, but desire to do so in order to turn away the “fierce anger” of God. The end of Ezra 10 then goes on to list the names of the priests, singers, Levites, and the people who had married foreign wives.

After reading this, I couldn’t help but wonder if God is looking for Ezra’s today? Today, God’s people are just as guilty of marrying “foreign wives” as the Israelites were then. The church has polluted the gospel, changed the way of salvation, put themselves in place of God, and gone off to chase other “gods”. If God had “fierce anger” toward Israel for marrying foreign wives then, how much angrier is God now at His people? It still amazes me how we can claim Christ as Savior and then completely disregard everything that He’s commanded us to do. I am appalled at the way people in the church ignore God’s commandments and His anger and still seek His blessing. We have people who claim to be Christians calling on people to get in touch with “Mother Earth”. Others are taking tenets of other faiths and trying to make them fit into Christianity. Still others are preaching a gospel that has nothing to do with Christ or His purpose for coming to earth. Instead they replace Christ with love, money, or self. Shouldn’t God be angry? Should we be surprised that His wrath is building and beginning to pour out on our nation and others? When those who are “leaders” in the church take the precious gospel of our Lord and make it a mockery, what else should we expect?

One of the most appalling things of all of this is the fact that these “leaders” have no shame! They have absolutely no care in the world that they are misrepresenting Christ and misleading thousands. They don’t care that their iniquity is a foul stench in the nostrils of God. They have no real concern for the truth being preached or people actually getting saved, as long as their churches are packed, they wallets are full, and what they believe is spread as far as they can take it, they’re satisfied. Nevermind that it’s not the truth. Nevermind the fact that it’s not the gospel that saves. Nevermind that people are being made comfortable while going straight to hell. None of that matters. There is no guilt, shame, or embarrassment from these men and women. They are “successful” and that’s all that matters. Sure, it’s success in the eyes of the world, but it’s what matters.

The body of Christ needs Ezras who are ashamed and embarrassed by where the church has gotten to and are willing to call God’s people back to scriptural living. They need to have God’s understanding of His Word and be willing to weep and grieve for this ongoing tragedy. They also need to be willing to stand up and speak out against this horrible façade, naming names if necessary. Some people may read this and think that I’m talking about a new ministry focused on “turning peoples’ hearts back to God”. Nope. That’s not what I’m talking about. To be completely honest, I’m tired of ministries. We have way too many “ministries” run by people who just want to accomplish their own agenda under the guise of Christianity. This isn’t to say that there aren’t legitimate ministries out there. I know of many who are truly doing the things that need to be done. There are many, many more however, that do nothing but inflate egos, stuff pocketbooks, and accomplish absolutely nothing for God. We don’t need that.

What we need is for the people of God to be willing to be made horribly uncomfortable (even if it means sitting in a downpour) and to see their iniquity for what it is. We need to be willing to stop “graying” the issues and start calling things as black and white when they are. We need to start living our lives the way God wants us to, instead of living them the way that we want and then hoping God will bless us. We need the body of Christ to recommit to separate themselves from the “people of the land” and to stop marrying foreign wives. We need to recognize that God is fiercely angry with us for what we have failed to do and to renew our oath to be obedient to Him. We need to “make confession before God and do His will”…

Design of the Week – Shell Game

April 16, 2008 at 9:49 am | Posted in Designs of the Week | 1 Comment
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The featured design for this week is one that comes from my interest in magic. I have enjoyed watching magicians since I can remember. As I grew up, I took up sleight of hand. Recently, this has come to include historic con games like Three Card Monte, Fast and Loose, and The Shell Game.

 

In the shell game, the object is to choose the one shell (out of three) that hides the pea. If you are right, then you win (if you’re playing for money, then you win money), but if you’re wrong, you lose. Many of those who run the game use singsong poetry to draw people into playing.

 

Unfortunately, there seem to be many “Christians” today that are playing the shell game. Some of them are the ones running the game and some of them are the ones playing. Often, if the shell game is played on the streets, there are more people involved in the con than most people realize. It’s the same way in the church. Those running the game use others as “heavies” to push and persuade those playing to gamble. Those playing have no idea what’s really going on and play in hopes of winning. What they may not realize is that the stakes are ultimately their soul. Those running the game are showing them Jesus and then hiding Him under the shell of religion. That shell is then moved around with the others in dazzling patterns. The people playing the game feel that it’s easy to find where Jesus is, but when they pick a shell, they come away with nothing. They have been told something about Jesus that isn’t true and when they choose what they think is right and find that the shell is empty, they become hardened toward anyone that tells them about Jesus and may not receive the gospel.

 

The sad thing is that the people playing the game are the only ones that lose. Those running the game lose too. By teaching false doctrine, they are guilty of mocking the character of God and His Son. They are teaching people to build idols and compromising the truth in the name of religion. They are more concerned about the number of people playing than they are about the souls of the players. They tickle the ears of the players with singsong sermons and “relevant” teaching, lulling the players into believing that they’re truly saved. The scriptures say that these preachers bring “swift destruction on themselves” (2 Peter 2:1).

 

It’s time that those that present the gospel (whether you’re a preacher or not) do so in a way that glorifies God. We need to stop playing church, stop hiding Jesus, and start telling people the truth. It is the only way that we will see God’s mercy in our lives and our nation!

Design of the Week 1/21/08 – Cover Up

January 22, 2008 at 1:07 pm | Posted in Designs of the Week | Leave a comment
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 This is the first of a new weekly feature I’m hoping to start. In it, I’ll present a featured design from my shop and just explain a little about where it came from and what it represents.

 The first featured design is the “Cover Up” design. This design shows sin as a black pill. It is being coated by a bright orange liquid representing compromise. The idea came from the fact that it seems more and more that the church and those preaching the message want to sugarcoat sin and make it “okay”. No one seems to want to speak out against sin or stand up against what the bible says is wrong.

 Instead, we just want everyone to come to church and feel good about themselves and the fact that God loves them. We want to coddle them and pet them and tell them that everything will be okay, even though they are living in sin. We have come to the point where the church’s message is no longer effective in changing the lives of the lost. I believe that this is because it hasn’t been allowed to change a lot of the lives of those going to church! If the Word truly had made a difference in the lives of many of those who profess Christ, what would the church look like? Would it look like it does now? Wouldn’t whole towns and cities be radically changed? There are twenty or so churches in my hometown, which has a population of about 7-10,000 people. If there are an average of 100 people in each church (there are some that have much more than that), that’s 2000 people that profess Christ and claim to know who He is and live for Him. How long should it take for the entire city to be reached and changed? A month? Two months? Surely it shouldn’t take longer than that!

 It is my desire to see the church stand up and stop using man’s ideas of how God should be and what it means to be a Christian. It’s time we went back to using what God said He is like and what He said a Christian is…

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think of the design or the message behind it!


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