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The Unfriend

   I am the unfriend. I have been unfriended. I was once a friend and am no more. Unfriending has become modish. The word itself is so new that my spell check function keeps underlining it in red. But whether Word recognizes it or not, it is real. It happens. You can be unfriended and there’s nothing you can do about it. I am sure that others have experienced it and can relate to my feelings of unworthiness and pain but it is something new and horrific for me. Here’s my story.

   About a year and half ago I got a friend request on a social networking site from two brothers. Although they were total strangers to me, I noted that they were “Christians”, “in the ministry” and that they were already “friends” with some of my “friends”. So I clicked "confirm" and our “friendship” became reality. We were now officially “friends”. Although I still knew nothing about them personally we had a relationship that we referred to as “friendship”.

   Now, to my disappointment and deep sorrow, I have discovered that friendship means something different to them than it does to me. For example, the Bible says that “A friend loves at all times” and I take that seriously. I’m supposed to love my friend at all times. Ok, so far so good. At first it was pretty easy to love my new “friends” since I didn’t know them. People we don’t know are somehow easier to love. That general, non specific, all purpose use of the word love can be superficial. God loves everybody so we love everybody. Love, love, love, all you need is love. Love makes the world go around. But when “everybody” becomes “somebody in specific”, love takes on new meaning. True friends are responsible for and accountable to one another.

   How are we to love our friends? According to the Bible, “A true friend sticks closer than a brother”. We stick with our friends through thick and thin. Friends are there for us when the times get tough. Friends remain friends even when they disagree about things. True friendship can’t be unfriended. “Friendship” that you can unfriend is an oxymoron. Perhaps these guys only wanted me to be their fan. But that’s something else altogether. They sent me a “friend” request. Hear me out, now.

   The problem began when my new “friends” started attacking some of my other “friends”. I have lots of “friends”. They posted some untrue and nasty things so I did what a friend does. In Proverbs we read, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” Later it says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” In

other words, a true friend will tell you the truth even if it hurts. If you’ve got a boogy hanging out of your nose, they will tell you about it even if it is embarrassing to do so.

   I asked these guys not to post hurtful and nasty things about my other friends. I pointed out that the things they were reposting weren’t even true. I gave evidence. I did my best. I invested in our relationship. I prayed for them. I spent time asking God what I should say to them. I tried to communicate humbly and lovingly. I attempted to be a friend. And what happened? First they threatened me with unfriending to which I replied, “You can unfriend me, but you can’t unbrother me. And don’t forget, I might be living next door to you in heaven.” I wanted to save our relationship. I affirmed to them that I was only trying to help. I didn’t want them to get into trouble with our Father. I pointed out to them that if they sow that kind of stuff, they are going to reap that kind of stuff. I really meant well! But woe is me, it was all to no avail. This morning I woke up unfriended.

   Where did I go wrong? How can I make amends? I can’t read their wall posts because they only share certain things with their “friends”, which I used to be but no longer am. I can’t even send them a message because they’ve blocked me. Kermit the frog sang, “It’s not easy being green”. Well, it’s not easy being an unfriend either.

   I hope you get the point. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and all the other social networks can be fun but they’re really not places where true friendship is born. True friendship is based upon knowing someone well enough to trust them with your life. True friendship is a gift from God and I believe we should be more careful about how we use the word. These sites don’t offer “acquaintance” status as far as I know but these guys weren’t even acquaintances anyway. They were total strangers who just wanted to add another number to their “friend list”. The down part for them is that they now have one less “friend”. They’ll have to find another stranger to take my place. Perhaps they’ll be a bit more careful with their offer of “friendship” next time. Maybe they’ll find someone who defines the word “friend” like they do. Who knows?

   Being an unfriend is actually easier than being a friend. My responsibility to my one time “friends” has been greatly reduced. I’ll still pray for them when I think about it but at least I won’t have to confront them in love like a true friend would do. And anyway, I couldn’t if I wanted to. I am the unfriend.

My Thoughts About “Love Wins” by Rob Bell

I wanted to read it but I didn’t want to buy it. I didn’t want to but I did.

I wanted to read it because I refuse to take anyone’s word for what someone else has said without first finding out if that’s really what they said. Do you know what I mean?

So I bought the book.

And then I read it.

That’s why I’m writing this way. If you read the book, you get it. You’re in. Enlightened.

Short sentences.

Simple words.

Thoughts.

Phrases.

Prose.

Just kiddin’. But I do like the way Rob Bell writes. He has a great writing style. He’s very easy to read and entertaining at the same time. I read the book in a few hours over a few days.

It’s called, “Love Wins: A Book about Heaven and Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived”

Although his writing style is simple and very readable, he seems to dislike saying anything and goes to great lengths to avoid doing so. I mean, he painstakingly asks all kinds of questions, vaguely suggests possible theories and makes claims about what others may have said or may have meant without really defining what he means. He artfully avoids articulate answers and elegantly evades explaining the immensely important issues he undertook to unfold. In fact, after reading it, I’m really not sure what Rob Bell believes about most of what the book is supposed to be about.

I mean, I read it but I still don't know what he believes about heaven or hell or the fate of anybody. He didn’t really say. Not really. Not cleary.

Does he believe that faith in resurrection of Jesus Christ and personal confession of His Lordship is necessary to be saved? I don’t think so. He doesn’t say that it is and implies that it isn’t necessary in several passages. Actually he seems to mock and dismiss the idea that believing in Jesus, confessing His Lordship, receiving Him, being born again, etc. are required to be saved. (Whatever “being saved” might mean to him is also unclear to me.)

Does he believe that heaven and hell are literal places where people will live forever after this life? It’s hard to say what he really believes about these places but what I got out of it all is that he believes we create our own heaven and hell right here and right now by our choices. (That kind of reminds me of what I used to tell Christians before I got saved and started reading the Bible.) He seems to say that Heaven and hell are not destinations where people will eventually wind up but rather they are states of mind based upon how we interact with God and with other people.

Does he believe that anyone will be eternally separated from God in a literal lake that burns with fire and brimstone? After reading the book, I’m convinced that he doesn’t believe this at all and considers it to be a false doctrine that is both toxic and perverse.

Does he believe that people can be saved disregarding what they believe about Jesus? That’s what he seems to be saying the way I read it.

Does he believe that people get another chance to repent and be saved after they have already died? If I didn’t misunderstand him, that seems to be one of the main concepts that he is promoting in the book. Once again, I don’t know what the term “saved” means to him but he does seem to say that all people will eventually be saved even if they did not hear the gospel or have a personal faith in the Person of Jesus Christ.

If I misunderstood him, then please forgive me.

But I did buy the book.

And I did read it.

All of it.

(Including the cover, the liner notes, the table of contents, the acknowledgements and section called “Further Reading”. The whole kit and caboodle.

There are two main voices that I hear in Rob Bell’s prose.

  1. I hear a soothing voice of compassion reaching out to the multitudes of hurting, suffering people in need of God’s love, forgiveness and healing. This compassionate voice also proclaims freedom and rest to weary Christians enslaved by religiosity.
  2. I also hear a subtle yet arrogant voice of pride railing against the “Right Wing, Conservative, Moral Majority, Pro-Life, Anti-Abortion, Anti-Gay Marriage, Anti-Islam, Institutional Church-ianity, Television Evangelistic, Turn or Burn, We’re in You’re out” type of Christianity that he definitely does not love nor condone. This mocking voice seems to have very little love, patience or tolerance for the many Churches and Christians who see things differently than he does.

I know that he means well, therefore I refuse to judge him or condemn him. Anyway, I couldn’t if I wanted to because I really don’t know what he believes about anything he claims to be writing about. I think I have some ideas about what he might think about some of these things but I can’t really say anything definite because he didn’t really say anything definite. Not really.

Well, I guess there is one thing that I’m convinced that Rob Bell believes after reading his book.

Rob Bell believes in a wonderful, loving God who wants all people to be saved. This God is not just about joining a club and reciting ritual prayers. He is the God who loves His creation and invites us to make it a better place for all people. Rob Bell believes that God is a loving Father who wants to help us see ourselves as He sees us; precious, valuable and greatly loved.

And that’s good. Very good.

As far as the rest of the book is concerned, I don’t think I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know what the Bible teaches about heaven and hell and the eternal fate of every person who ever lived. Rob Bell sermonizes about these things but never really says anything about them.

The sad thing is that most people, many Christians included, lack a sufficient and accurate knowledge of what the Bible really says about heaven, hell and eternal destinations. Many people will read the book and get confused about what they believe. Most of those people will probably never open the Bible to examine these things for themselves. Nowhere in “Love Wins” are readers encouraged to read the Bible although many verses or parts of verses or paraphrased verses are included. Many of them are ripped out of their context. And many of them are used in the “proof-texting” style of Bible interpretation that has often led people to false conclusions and confusion.

Goodness gracious! Even I got confused reading the book. Can you imagine that?!!! I didn’t get confused about what I believe but I did get confused about what Rob Bell was trying to say, why he was trying to say it and who he was trying to say it to.

I like Rob Bell. No, I love him. I’m persuaded that he is a brother in the Lord. Plus he’s a very cool dude. Nice hair cut and cool glasses. And he’s real smart. In my opinion, he means well and wants to help people who don’t like Christianity, Christians, churches or Jesus. (Maybe he’s trying to help himself too. I don’t get the impression that he likes Christianity, Christians or most churches very much either.) But wanting to help people is a good thing. And I believe that’s what he’s hoping to do. Loving God and loving people is what it’s all about and I’m convinced that’s where he’s at. Perhaps a bit confused in a few areas but I'm persuaded he has the right motivation.

And I do agree with brother Bell that Christians can at times be narrow minded, critical, judgmental and unmerciful towards those on the “outside”. I also agree that they are often so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good. I also don’t like the fact that we spend nearly as much money on politics as we do on missions and social projects. The list could go on and on. Nonetheless, the church; everyone who calls on the Name of Jesus, is my brother and my sister and we need each other. We don’t need to put one another down or arrogantly accuse one another of superficiality which Rob does a time or two in his book. We need to bless one another and help one another fulfil the commission that Jesus left us. Preach the good news to everyone, everywhere!

Some people have written nasty articles or produced hateful YouTube videos calling Rob Bell a heretic or false prophet. That is not only unfair and unhelpful but it's also a terrible witness to those who do not know Jesus. Some of the people calling him these names have never even read his books. That's simply wrong! It's time for the body of Christ to stop fighting against one another and start loving one another and praying for one another. This is how people will know we belong to Jesus. This is how they will know that Jesus came from the Father. This is how love wins the world. Jesus said so. I believe Him.

Though there are some good points in the book I can’t endorse it as a “must read” like one pastor in the book's liner notes did. If you really want to read it, then go ahead. Buy it. Or better yet borrow it. Save the trees! Down with capitalism. Green peace and all that. I’m sure that Rob Bell would approve of my eco-friendly advice. (Just a joke...)

If it’s the title of the book that interests you, there IS a book dealing with the same subject matter that I can heartily recommend.

That’s right! The Bible.

The one and only.

The word of God.

The original.

The truth.

(Please note that I have also read "Velvet Elvis" and "Sex God" and I found a lot of good in them. Any comments about Rob Bell's writing or apparent beliefs are based exclusively upon "Love Wins" and not upon any of his previous books or preaching ministry.)

Japan and Judgment!

   There are Christians discussing the tragic happenings in Japan and debating whether or not this was God's judgment against them.  Let me make this clear. In no way, shape or form is this God's judgment against Japan! How mean, heartless, unmerciful, cruel and simply unbiblical can they get?! Most Christians who are debating this issue are so ignorant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that it almost embarrasses me to be identified with them. Their reasoning says, "40.5% of the Japanese are Buddhists and 54.1% are Shintos. Both are idolatrous, false religions. Secular humanism rules the government, economy and educational system which is paramount to rejecting God. Additionally, Japan has always been a hard land to evangelize and very few people are open for the Gospel. Because of this, God judged them by sending an earthquake and tsunami." It's really no great wonder that a lot of people accuse Christians of being critical, judgmental, mean and even hateful. Bible illiteracy causes Christians to say and do some very hateful sounding things. God didn't cause this tragedy and I could list a number of Bible truths proving that He didn't but in the interest of keeping this Blog short I will focus on the main thing.

   God has given us the ministry of reconciliation. What does that have to with anything? I'm glad you asked. The Bible defines the ministry of reconciliation with these words: "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sins against them." (2.Co. 5:19) The Amplified Bible translates it like this, "It was God [personally present] in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against [men] their trespasses [but cancelling them], and committing to us the message of reconciliation (of the restoration to favor)." God has already reconciled the world to Himself by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He is not counting their sins against them. The judgment that all of mankind had rightfully earned by their sins was poured out upon Jesus. He was made sin with our sins and God judged Jesus in our place on the cross. This is the good news! Jesus suffered the sinner's judgment so that the sinner can be reconciled to God. It is finished! If God judged Japan for idolatry or rejecting Christ then He's holding their sins against them. That would also mean that God is judging their sins twice; once in Christ and now again with the earthquake and tsunami. But that would be unjust! Jesus paid it all and paid is paid! Dear friend, this was God's idea and not ours! This was His love in action reaching out to us. When we were sinners Christ died for us. He loves the whole world. We are living in the age of grace! This is the day of salvation not of judgment! This is our message. This is the ministry of reconciliation!

   Furthermore, the Bible tells us, "If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and for the sins of the whole world! The word propitiation literally means, "a sacrifice that restores one to a favorable position with God". This is what Jesus did for us. He appeased God's righteous indignation against our sinful nature and restored us to favor with God. But don't forget He didn't do it just for us, He did it for the whole world. God is not angry with us and He's not angry with the world. Jesus' death on the cross appeased His just and rightful anger once and for all. That doesn't mean that everybody is automatically saved, but it does mean that God is not angry with them. It means that the wall that separated them from God has been torn down and that they can come as they are and receive the gift of eternal life by grace through faith. Jesus, Himself said, "As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world but to save it." He says that He didn't come to judge the world but some apparently illiterate Christians say He did. Who are you going to believe? I choose to believe Jesus and not the critical condemnation preachers.

  There are lot of other things that could be said but to wrap this up let me tell you why this happened to Japan. This happened because of Adam's sin and the curse that it loosed. When Adam disobeyed God it not only killed him spiritually, it also opened the door for the reign of death. Because of sin all of creation was damaged, perverted, twisted and broken. (Ro. 8:19-23) We are living in a damaged world. Sickness came into the world. Plant diseases multiplied. Animals started eating each other. Floods, tornados and hurricanes appeared. And those tectonic plates started shifting and the earth started shaking. And yes, it will get worse before this age is over. But earthquakes and tsunamis are not God's judgment. They are here and they happen because of the destructive influence of sin on the creation. They are natural catastrophes and not supernatural ones. There is a day of judgment coming but that day is not today. This is the age of grace, forgiveness, reconciliation and good news. So get out there and fulfill your ministry! Tell people that God is not mad at them; that He is not holding their sins against them. Tell them that He has reconciled Himself to them and wants a relationship with them! This is the Gospel, this is the good news! Pray for Japan and those precious people who have suffered loss. Do what you can to ease the pain of living in this damaged and dangerous world. God is looking for good news messengers. Be one of them.

Enough is Never Enough

   The union protests in Wisconsin show us that enough is never enough. I'm not taking sides in this fight but the truth of the matter is that it doesn't matter how much money people earn, how big their benefit packages are or how generous their retirement plans may be, it is never enough. The union bosses accuse the government, the banks and corporations of greed and corruption while they themselves are in the same boat. Although organized labor and collective bargaining have certainly improved the working conditions and rewards for millions of people, many of the big labor unions have become corrupt, greedy and perverse. They have also hijacked the democractic political process by using threats, intimidation, bribes and payoffs.

   The problem is universal. Those who are toting the placards and shouting about fairness and justice want the exact same thing that the politicians, the banks and the CEOs of the big corporations want; MORE. In Ecclesiates 5:10 we read, "Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income." The more we have the more we spend and the more we spend the more we want. How many houses in America have garages and attics filled with junk that no one uses? How many people in the wealthy western world are overweight not because of a metabolic problem but simply because of overeating? I can show you pictures of poor people and they're not fat. I've had to take John the Baptist's advice myself the last couple of years. He was speaking about Jesus and said, "He must increase but I must decrease". I lost 20 kilos last year and it wasn't because I didn't need to. I still have a few more to take off and recognize that my problem is not that I am poor and can only afford cheap, processed fattening foods (like some people say as an excuse) but rather that I am rich and tend to always want more and more of everything.

   The apostle Paul wrote about himself and said, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Phil. 4:11-13) We need to learn to be content disregardless of our circumstances. True contentment is never found in possessions. True contentment is found when we realize that this world and the dog eat dog, rat race system that currently controls it is not all that there is. All the glamor and glory of the rich and famous is short lived and will one day disappear completely. Jesus said, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses."

   In reality the issue is not, "Who is right, the Wisconsin government or the union protestors?" The issue is, "Who are we putting our trust in?" Those who trust the unions, the government, the corporations or the banks are doomed to disappointment. They are part and parcel of this world system and are ruled primarily by the love of money. The promises they make are primarily made to get in your wallet. You can picket for or against them all day long and it will never change their greedy nature. If they have become your hope and your provider you are never going to be content. They will see to that. But if you put your trust in God, seeking first His kingdom and His rightousness, He will give you everything you need. The blessed life is not the American dream it is the abundant life found only in Jesus Christ. "The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, and He adds no trouble to it." The way to real prosperity is not by protesting but by God's blessing! Is it wrong then to protest? Not necessarily, but it won't really change much.

The Muslim Brotherhood is "Largely Secular"?

   Yesterday, February 10, 2011, Director of US National Intelligence James Clapper said that the Muslim Brotherhood is "largely secular". That's an interesting assertation seeing that the Brotherhood's slogan is "Islam is the solution". You don't have to "google" for more than a few minutes to discover that this organization wants to implement Sharia law on a global scale. They are anti-semetic and even worked together with Hitler and the Nazis during the 2nd World War by supporting terrorist activities, espionage and sabotage against the British. In a report to the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental affairs dated July 10, 2008 it is said that "the vast majority of Sunni  terrorist groups - including al Qaeda, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad - are derived from the Muslim Brotherhood". How is this secular?

   Why is our government making such ludicrous and misleading statements? While it is a fact that the Brotherhood carries out various social activities it is also a fact that these social activities are motivated by their goal of global domination. A few days ago when I stopped at a gas station to fill up ($7.00 per gallon by the way), I had an interesting conversation with the attendant. He is an Egyptian who lives here in Austria. His family lives in Egypt and he visits them regularly. He was greatly distressed by the protests and his biggest worry was that the Muslim Brotherhood might seize power. He said we need to pray that this does not happen because that would be the worst thing for Egypt. If you want to know what that would look like, take a glance at Hezbollah and their contribution to Lebanon. Or take a look at Hamas and their secular work in Palestine. (i.e. Car bombs, assassinations, rockets being rained down on residential neighborhoods and oppression in too many forms to name.) Do not be deceived. The Muslim Brotherhood would strip the western world of freedoms that we hold to be self evident. 

   I certainly don't want to incite any anti-muslim sentiments. I have Muslim friends whom I love and thank God for. I respect their freewill yet respectfully disagree with their beliefs. My greatest desire for them is that they would know the liberating love, forgiveness, peace and grace of Jesus Christ! So it's not that I am intolerant, but I do think it's time for American Christians to wake up and see that their government has abandoned them; at least this administration has. They seem more interested in promoting some kind of Islamic revolution in Egypt than they are in fixing the problems at home. They make ridiculously untrue statements and shove their propaganda down our throats while at the same time financing corrupt bankers and financial institutions. They exonerate and even "secularize" radical anti-semetic and anti-western groups and imply that true Christians are bigotted, small minded and primitive. Yes, I agree with my Egyptian friend, it's time to pray.

   Dear Lord, wake us up to the fact that the night is far spent and that the day is at hand. Help us to see that it's high time to awake to righteousness by casting off the works of darkness and putting on the armour of light. Send us revival again, oh Lord. Give us boldness to speak Your word by stretching forth your hand to heal and that signs and wonders may be done by the Name of Your Holy Son Jesus! Let a true revolution of love begin and flood our nation and our world with Your grace. Let the blindness that is binding multitudes in false religions and ideologies be broken and let your true light be seen by all! May Your Name, Your love and Your good and glorious will for humanity be revealed to lost, suffering and confused mankind. Thank You for Your great sacrifice on the cross that alone affords salvation. Thank You for paying our debt and setting us free. Help us to prepare a people for Your glorious return. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

The Cherry Bomb Terrorist

   I read a news story about a man who was arrested for attempting to bomb a Mosque in Dearborn, Michigan. Now, I am against blowing up Mosques as I'm sure you are, but the details of the story were odd. The man had an undisclosed amount of Class C Fireworks in his trunk. Class C fireworks include stuff like firecrackers, bottle rockets and cherry bombs. I remember setting off cherry bombs as a kid. I admit they were loud but I can't imagine somebody trying to blow up the largest Mosque in the United States with cherry bombs. Have you seen that thing? I mean, how many cherry bombs would you need to blow up a place like that! I am not excusing this man's stupid behavior, but how much of a threat is a guy who thinks that a bunch of cherry bombs in his trunk is going to inflict the kind of damage that the car bombs in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, for example, do?! Should the man be put in jail? Of course. What he claimed he wanted to do was wicked. Wanting to kill innocent people just because they believe something different than you is evil.

   Last year more than 171,000 Christians were brutally murdered simply because of believing in Jesus Christ. I didn't see that one on CNN, MSNBC, CBS or any of the other propaganda machines. But a "highly dangerous Islamaphobic terrorist" with some firecrackers in his trunk made the top story. Interesting. According to the organizations listed above you would think that all Christians are Islamaphobes, homophobes, biggots and culture destroying primitives. Truth be known, the western world is suffering from Christianaphobia and is in denial big time. Thank God that the followers of Jesus are not like the Al-Quada gang! If they were, maybe this dumb-dumb would have gotten better training and really demolished the place in 9/11 fashion. But cherry bombs aren't going to bring down a Mosque. And that wouldn't help Muslims or anyone else for that matter get to know how wonderful Jesus Christ is! Maybe the psychiatric ward would be more appropriate for this guy than prison. Just rattling off here a bit. Have a nice day!

The Indestructible Church!

Matt 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

The church of Jesus Christ is under attack. The mass media, popular atheists, religious radicals and even the government are taking sides against the church. The EU recently published a school calendar for 2011 which will be distributed freely to 3 million students throughout the 27 member nations. The calendar includes Muslim, Jewish and Hindu holidays but leaves out all references to Christian holidays. The EU spokesman for the calendar said it was a simple editing mistake. But how can you inadvertently leave Christmas and Easter out of an official EU calendar while at the same time intentionally including Sikh Baisakhi-Day, Yom Kippur, and the Muslim holiday Aid-el-Kebir?

   Last year scandals rocked the church and a mass media feeding frenzy led to a record number of people withdrawing their church membership. More than 170,000 Christians were martyred again last year at the hands of savage radicals. Atheist organizations spent millions to rent billboards and bought magazine advertisements and television time to fight against a God that they don’t even believe in! Yes, the church of Jesus Christ is under attack.

   But this is nothing new! The church has been under attack from the very beginning. Jesus warned His followers that they would have tribulation in this world! The apostle Paul said that "all who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution". This is simply a part of true Christianity. Religious fanatics, founders of ideologies, kings and governments have been doing their best to destroy the church for nearly 2000 years. BUT THEY HAVE FAILED!

The church of Jesus Christ is indestructible.

   Christianity is still the faith believed in by more people on earth than any other. Approximately 33% of the earth’s population; more than 2 billion people, consider themselves to be Christians. Christians are found in all 238 countries and in at least 11,500 of Earth’s 12,600 ethnic language groups. Even last year, amidst the persecution and scandals, the church of Jesus Christ experienced stable and steady growth. The church of Jesus Christ is indestructible!

   I want to encourage you to pray for the church! It doesn’t matter whether you are Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Charismatic or Non-Denominational, the church of Jesus needs you! Too often we, as Christians have been guilty of fighting against one another instead of helping and supporting one another. Yes, there are doctrinal differences and even scandals, but they pale in comparison to the great needs that are in our world and to the commission that our Lord has given us. Don’t get on the side of the accuser of the brethren and the adversaries of the church. Be a defender of the church instead of a critic of the church. I know that we, as the church, have made mistakes and even willfully sinned at times, but the church of Jesus Christ is still the only hope of the world. The Church is the pillar and ground of truth! She stands out as a beacon of hope in a world of pain, suffering and need.

     In Revelation chapter one, the apostle John sees our glorified Savior. And where is He? He is standing in the midst of seven candlesticks and has seven stars in His right hand. The seven candlesticks represent the whole church during the whole of the church age. The the seven stars represent the leadership of His church. Jesus instructs John to write letters to the seven churches. Three of the churches received praise, rebuke and a call to repentance. Two of the churches received only praise and encouragement. The other two churches received only admonition and threatening. The seven churches and the messages that Jesus sent to them are very applicable to today's situation. But what blesses me throughout the whole discourse is that Jesus remains standing in the midst of His church and upholding her leadership with the power of His right hand!

   Jesus loves His church through thick and thin! He loves His people. He is the only one who has the right to judge the church because it is His church and no one else’s! As a family we can talk about our problems and encourage one another to change but we should not join sides with an unbelieving world in condemning the church! It’s time to pray for one another, not to condemn one another.

   Jesus is building His church! If you want to work together with Jesus you have find out where and how He wants you to help Him do what He is doing. He is not just saving souls, He is building His church. He is not just teaching truth, He is building His church. Everything he is doing is all about building His church. If you are not building the church you are not working with Jesus because that is what He is doing!

   In the last few years several “spiritual novels” have made it to the best sellers lists in the USA and Europe. Interestingly enough, some of these books have even received rave reviews from unbelievers.  One of them in particular does nothing other than disparage the church and her leadership from beginning to end. It’s no wonder that the unbelieving media and secular reviewers enjoy such books. But don’t be misled. Jesus loves His church and continues to uphold and strengthen her! He, who defeated death, hell and the grave is still mighty in our midst!

   Friends this is our time to rise and shine! Our light has come and He is mighty in our midst! Jesus said that all people would know we are His disciples by our love for one another. Further, He declared that our unity as believers would be the convincing proof to all people that the Father had sent Him for their salvation! It's time to love one another and to pray for one another even as He commanded! This hurting, suffering, misled and blinded world is waiting for the light that only the church of Jesus Christ can shine! Jesus, the true light of the world is shining in His church! The church is still under attack, but disregardless of how the enemy rages and the people mock, Jesus is building His church and His church is indestructible!

Fred Lambert