A distorted view of love is causing followers of Jesus to renounce—or redefine—their faith.

“I love you guys, and I love all the support and friendships I’ve built here [Instagram]…I think it’s important to say that I’m just not a Christian anymore, and it feels really good. I’m really happy…I’m really happy.”

That's former Desiring God writer Paul Maxwell.  He continues, “I love my life for the first time…and I love myself for the first time.”

Paul Maxwell comes across as an authentically kind and caring person in the article. His desire for connectivity and relationships is clear, In fact, it would do all of us well to grow in tenderness and passion for people. The problem comes when we elevate people, including self, to an inappropriate and unworthy level. Pastors, it would do you well to know that a focus on people isn't primary.

Paul Maxwell mentioned love and happiness repeatedly, revealing a problem that's both driving people away from the church and infecting the church at the same time. I'll state it clearly: love has been distorted and happiness is not God's primary goal for our lives. The Gospel message has become skewed and confused. We must remember that mankind, you and I included, is fully deserving of Hell. 

PEOPLE WORSHIP

People have been worshiping people for a long time. Rock and movie stars are both stalked and adored. Everyone from paparazzi to those who buy the photos along with tickets and merch are famous for elevating their admiration to an unhealthy level. People worship.

However, idolizing celebrities is no longer the prime concern. People worship has gone mainstream. 

The Gospel message has morphed into a focus on people ahead of God in too many instances. Much of today's worship music has become entertainment driven as it focuses on who we are instead of who God is. Messages and entire movements are zeroing in on our great worth instead of our depravity. Churches are systematically wired to ensure visitors are valued, connected and comfortable in a sanitized, tepid, familiar living room environment.

Pastors are refusing to preach on holiness, hell, sin and repentance while favoring teachings on how much God loves us. They bend over backwards attempting to communicate human value while forsaking the revival-style messages that drove men and women to their knees.

The false-grace and false-love movements are infecting churches all over the world. Focus on the topics of identity and love is extremely valuable when handled rightly, and in the correct measure. However, an obsession with love and grace to the exclusion of judgment and fear of the Lord has resulted in many dabbling with the heresy of Universalism. 

People I know are teetering on the edge of Universalism as they are becoming convinced that love demands we affirm others regardless of belief or behavior. People worship elevates mankind while intentionally dismissing their sin as mere weakness. If the sin isn't dismissed, it's often celebrated as a unifying trait that brings mankind together as a loving band of misfits. What is forgotten, or ignored, or rejected is that sin literally kills. 

When we fully, radically and wholeheartedly surrender our lives to Jesus, his grace and mercy are overwhelming. The resulting peace, joy and abundant life are indescribable. However, today's people worship movement that is mirrored both in secular culture and the church attempts to relieve people of the struggle with sin by deeming it either benign or mildly concerning.

OUR HAPPINESS IS NOT GOD'S GOAL—AND IT SHOULDN'T BE OURS

Paul Maxwell's desire for authentic relationships is normal. However, this cannot be our goal.

Unredeemed humankind lives every moment seeking out the next pleasure, the next high, the next relationship. Those who don't know God are driven by a fervent passion to satisfy their desires. In fact, Christians who have merely made an intellectual or emotional decision to follow Christ are at similar disadvantage. This is why I unapologetically preach on authentic encounter with Jesus. Experiencing God supernaturally is the game changer. 

While I appreciate the effort, I tend to cringe when I see goodhearted preachers addressing secular audiences from an intellectual perspective. Facts, figures, history, logic and arguments that originate in the human mind have a place. We simply need to know that an intellectual approach is woefully limited. A Damascus Road encounter, however, changes everything. When we are visited by an otherworldly entity that floods our beings with divine love, power and freedom, attempts at a logical interpretation becomes laughable. 

When encounter comes, the Holy Spirit has phenomenal access to our lives. The Word of God then erupts in our spirits as we yearn for the truth it contains. It's at this point where human desires are dramatically calibrated to match God's. It's here where we understand that God's prime goal isn't to make us happy but rather to save our souls and to draw us into intimacy with him.

Deep friendships, sexual satisfaction, wealth, inner healing and other human desires become sanctified and reordered in importance. A life devoid of human friends stings less when our driving passion is to be a friend of God. A life of celibacy, should that be our portion, is a powerful sacrifice as we devote ourselves to knowing God more deeply. Again, our happiness isn't God's prime concern. Intimacy with him is.

THE GREAT LOVE DECEPTION

Consider this portion from one of the most important articles I've ever written, The Great Love Deception:

Keep in mind that false or tainted love doesn’t flow mostly from an evil, debased heart. It also doesn’t mean that there is nothing about the argument or viewpoint that is true. A person who craves pure love can, in their zeal or in their weakness, allow impurities into their expression of love that twists and compromises it. The reason I needed to say this is to encourage you if you’ve been hit by the false-love spirit. Your desire for manifested love is very probably true, yet the enemy can come in and confuse the process.

In fact, love most certainly doesn't always feel good. When we encounter love, we will be presented with a view of God that is quite different than what we previously understood to be true. God’s love can be expressed in a very direct, uncomfortable way that breaks you and you may even wonder how a loving God could act that way. God’s expression of love will often put you at risk, threaten you and trouble you. Jesus’ expression of love on the cross put Peter at risk of the same grisly death! How could Jesus do this? Peter was confused as he was presented with a side of Jesus he never saw—and he denied that expression of Jesus and his love for the world! I guarantee that Peter did not feel good as Jesus loved him by rescuing him from Hell by dying on the cross. Today, sharp, provoking preaching is rejected because it doesn’t feel good. They might say in their disturbed state, “That’s not the Jesus I know.” The risk is, like Peter, rejection of God when the feelings aren’t warm and intimate. This is one reason why being people of the Word is non-negotiable. We can’t afford to call good evil and evil good. We must learn about Jesus and how he functions so that our emotions don’t lead us astray.

FINAL THOUGHTS

People are not to be worshiped. We are all deserving of eternal torment.

God isn't here to satisfy our happiness. Friend, we are in a spiritual war. It's time to lay down our lives, to embrace the cross, to prepare for martyrdom, to develop deep intimacy with Jesus and to live our lives storming the gates of Hell and battling wickedness on the earth.

From that place, yes, there most certainly is opportunity for developing deep, holy friendships, in developing a healthy, godly identity and in enjoying the life God gives us. But we cannot abandon the faith when it doesn't satisfy. We can't reject God when he doesn't meet our demands. We can't quit when our intellect doesn't grasp God's methods. We must not redefine our faith to elevate the value of people to worship status. We aren't in it for our fulfillment, or happiness, our joy or our mental and emotional health. We follow Jesus because he is God, he paid the ultimate price for us and he is literally our only hope.

Photo credit: “Athiest bus advert” by thegreatgonzo is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Originally published by The Stream.

 

 

Fear has been an unwelcome yet dominant spirit in the church over the past year.

According to Northwestern Medicine, fear is physical. Blood actually flows away from your heart and into your limbs, making it easier for you to start throwing punches, or run for your life.

This is what we have witnessed in this year of fear, the life-source flowing away from the hearts of Christians. Punches have been thrown as the fight or flight response has overtaken many who previously were known as people of faith.

When our hearts are compromised and focus shifts to protecting self, all sorts of wickedness has an entry point into our lives. What seems like common sense and wisdom is often the manifestation of the spirit of fear. One has to wonder which emotion is stronger, fear of COVID or fear of vaccines. Both are actually a manifestation of a fear of death. Isn't it interesting how crafty the enemy is, taunting and haunting us with the threat of death while dividing us over the issue at the same time? Anti-vaxers and pro-maskers both trembling over the threat of dying.

Fear is evidenced in many ways such as the impending doom that surrounds a loss of our American freedoms, churches being shuttered, elections being lost and our way of life being put at risk.

No matter which side people are on, punches are thrown as they furiously fight for their cause. It seems most everybody is threatened whether it's from a piece of cloth that covers our mouths or the loss of freedoms in the midst of lockdowns.

THE FEAR IS CLEAR

Will the heart-sick church discern how a spirit of fear has infiltrated and infected the body or will we continue down this path of reactionary, fear-based response to crisis in our nation?

I propose the lesson has not been learned yet. It's only going to get worse and the church clearly is not ready yet.

Personally, my greatest sadness from the pandemic is the response of many who have been highly regarded people of faith. Fear, not faith, has been the driving force of their lives over the past year, or so the fruit of their lives suggests.

I was shocked at how rare it was for me to find Christians who were declaring boldly that no weapon formed against us shall prosper. Instead, I'd watch people who had reputations as giants in the faith cower at the sight of a much larger Goliath threatening impending death. COVID was the beast that did them in, not physically, but spiritually.

I'd read Facebook post after post, have one-on-one conversations and witness all sorts of responses to the virus, and it seemed that 99 out of 100 of them were about mitigating COVID. What happened to the powerful people of faith who refused to cower at the threat of disease? Where were the devil-fighters who exercised Heaven-level authority? Where were the decrees and declarations of health, healing, protection and victory? COVID scared them away.

Then we have those on the other side of the issue, people who proudly proclaim their fearlessness as they arrogantly strut maskless and free down the aisles of Walmart. The blood has flowed out of their hearts too, as they punch back at people and policies that threaten their lifestyles. The fear is clear as they desperately fight outside controlling forces, ignore government mandates and avoid vaccines like, yes, the plague.

Speaking of the plague, maybe we should consider how John G. Lake refused to cower to the bubonic plague:

Lake suggested the doctor take a sample of the foam from the mouth of a victim and observe it under a microscope.  Confirming the plague was very much alive, Lake took some of the foam in his hand and held it under a microscope.  The plague bacteria instantly died in Lake’s hand.  Why? Lake believed the Word of God is stronger than any sickness or any disease. 

A CRISIS OF FAITH

Instead of bold faith and absolute fearlessness regarding viruses, vaccines, lost freedoms, political turmoil and other issues of the day, we are experiencing something much more deadly: a crisis of faith.

No, the spoiled brat method of refusing to wear masks while blaming any and all who threaten our supposed freedoms isn't the answer. Rising up in a political spirit isn't either. 

It has been sad to watch Christians adopt an aggressive, flesh-driven political spirit. What looks like brash boldness is actually a manifestation of fear as the blood seeps out of their tender hearts and into their fists.

Many have shifted from an emphasis on faith, intercession, worship, revival and awakening to blasting opinions on politics and culture. Yes, we must not avoid confronting the spirit of the age with a sharp anointing, but that's not what we are mostly seeing today.

It's time to live, breath, walk and pray in the Spirit with great humility, lots of tears and unmatched faith that God is moving. We need those who walk in such an anointing that fear is chased out of every atmosphere they step into. 

God is ready to visit his church with revelation on how to confront this dark, deadly spirit of fear in our nation. As we draw very close to him and capture his heart and stay firmly rooted in the Word of God, mysteries will be revealed and faith will again explode in the church.

Photo credit: “fear” by Sean MacEntee is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Originally published by The Stream.

Political agendas instead of brokenness over souls have overtaken the American church.

“People are freaking out about your new video, where you ride down a stripper pole to Hell then twerk on the devil. Why are they upset?” (an actor portraying Brittany) Spears asks.

“Would you be able to give a lap dance to God, just to even things out?” Spears asks, before welcoming on a man with long white hair and tan robes. (An actor portraying) Lil Nas X leaps up and begins twerking in front of him for several seconds to the cheers of the audience.

This ET.com story has also been reported by most of the major news sources, and Christians are enraged. 

“God” gets a lap dance on the eve of the most holy day of the year, Easter Sunday. Resurrection Day. The day when Jesus destroyed the shackles of sin and death, just three days after the most loving act in the history of mankind. Brutal torture and slaughter were what the mob wanted for the man who famously said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

THE RAGE OF CHRISTIANS

This article isn't really about yet another heinous Saturday Night Live skit, this one about new shoes introduced by Lil Nas X that are literally anointed with a drop of human blood. It's not about the blasphemy of SNL or Lil Nas X. Christian friends, it's about you and me.

Hatred, division, rage, finger pointing and shaming have been the calling cards for many Christians over the past year. Whether it's blood boiling over due to a supposed stolen election or unbridled agitation resulting from masks, lockdowns, vaccines and, as some would argue, violations of Constitutional rights, followers of Jesus are up in arms.

Sure, watching defiling wickedness overtake our nation should provoke a strong response from us. The last thing we need is comatose, apathetic Christians who presume lukewarm passivity to be equal to love and kindness. I agree that we need men and women of God to speak boldly on political and cultural issues that are destroying our nation. To remain silent from behind the pulpit on the far-left agendas that are killing America is enough to disqualify anyone from ministry. We need holy, anointed freedom fighters to emerge. However, it's critical to understand just what freedom we are fighting for. Yes, there's a battle for our nation, but too many have lost focus by identifying as American patriots ahead of Kingdom ambassadors. This war is a spiritual war.

If pastors would have vigilantly prepared the church for the end times, Christians would not have panicked when a virus emerged, churches were shuttered, persecution arrived, the election didn't go the way they wanted and government tyranny deprived them of the life they were used to.

Instead we have naturally minded, reactionary people scrambling to fight the oppression, demonize their enemies and blame all who have threatened their elusive American dream. 

It's telling when American Christians presume God has promised freedom in our nation while forgetting freedom in Christ can be found in prisons, in Communist nations and anywhere other people remove natural freedoms from us.
The Bible guarantees perpetual national freedom literally nowhere from Genesis to Revelation. In fact, an argument for the opposite could more easily be made. 

You might presume this famous verse about God's promise to prosper a nation would support an argument for perpetual national freedom:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV)

However, you should back up one verse. National freedom won't come for seventy years:

““For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.” (Jeremiah 29:10, ESV)

And these verses drive home the point:

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” (Jeremiah 29:12–14, ESV)

I might argue that America is closer to being sent into exile than it is stepping into promise. 

Our response should be a hardcore turning to God, national repentance and a heart-wrenching cry for revival.

WHERE ARE THE TEARS?

@LilNasX
Mar 27
i spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of the s**t y’all preached would happen to me because i was gay. so i hope u are mad, stay mad, feel the same anger you teach us to have towards ourselves.

Lil Nas X sells out of 666 pairs of Satanic shoes, each containing a drop of human blood, and he reveals the reason for his provocative business venture: Christians. 

Where are the tears? Where is the compassion? Where is the cry, “Father, forgive him, he knows not what he does?”

Where is the brokenness over lost souls and devastated hearts that have been seduced by the enemy of humankind? Do we understand both saved and lost share the same enemy? Those who don't know Christ are not our enemies, and we aren't theirs. It would be hard to believe that in today's volatile American culture however. 

Instead, we are witnesses, many of us participants, in the war against any and all who oppose our “righteous” ideologies.

It's rare to find people crying out with passion for God to move on the hearts of people like Lil Nas X, President Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bill Maher, Whoopi Goldberg and others who are commonly in the sights of our holy sniper rifles. 

Instead, we do in fact snipe. We pull the trigger time and again with our “righteous” banter in an attempt to out them, shame them, accuse them and bring correction to them. How our gossip could ever reap positive results is beyond me.

INTERCESSORS ARISE

When I call intercessors to arise, I'm speaking to every blood-bought Christian reading this. Intercessors aren't a special brand of Believer. We are all called to pray with fiery zeal for those who are targeted for eternal destruction by Satan. 

The last year has revealed yet another angle of the ugly side of Christianity. It wrecks my heart that so few are exhibiting love for the lost. It's rare to find those who will put aside differences and truly fight the horde of hell for people God so deeply loves.

How can we expect those who have not had a genuine encounter with the Holy Spirit to ever buy into our brand of morality and values? It makes no sense, yet Christians are still enraged when people don't see things the way we do.

An intellectual or emotional affirmation of the truth of the Bible will never transform a human heart. Yes, they may engage positively at a logical or emotional level. Yes, they may try to understand our point of view. Most, however, will partially or fully reject a biblical worldview unless a supernatural, unmistakable, life-altering, soul-shocking invasion of God's glory floods into their being. 

This is why I so passionately preach the need to live, walk, pray and move in the Spirit. We exist in an invisible world that only those with spiritual eyes can experience. We need the blind eyes of the lost and deceived opened to the abundant life of Jesus. Contend for this in determined prayer. Push back the enemy. Battle for souls. Love deeply. Weep for the wandering. Stand in the gap for those who mock God. Preach with anointing. Pursue a spirit of revival to overtake Hollywood, Washington, and, oh yeah, the church. Some good old fashioned repentance at an simple, holy altar, Christian, would be a good first step.

Photo Credit: “Satan (after Botticelli)” by Maxwell Hamilton is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Origionally published by The Stream.

Bible

The power of God manifesting in the church is rare today.

I'm an unapologetic revivalist.

The state of the world demands legitimate, other-worldly invasion of Holy Spirit power. Revival. I'm not talking about the controversial gifts of the Spirit or the unusual manifestations that are common in some churches today. I'm referring to God's undeniable power moving through congregations first and then ultimately to the nation and the rest of the world. Revival.

There is a sharp, supernatural anointing that must rest on preaching today.

Repentance, transformation and deliverance from all sorts of bondages are desperately needed. 

Instead, we see churches that major on encouraging talks, social connections and principles for successful living.

Several years ago I was challenged to write an alternate version of Acts chapter two that sadly mirrors much of church as we know it. Instead of carrying on about how much we need God to move again, I'll allow the translation to speak for itself. 

It shouldn't be necessary to qualify, but I will. This is satire. But, as is often true with satire, the similarities between what you are about to read and what we are seeing in the church today are shocking.

I'd like to challenge you. After you read it, read the actual, legitimate version and note the stark differences. Friends, we must have an Acts two revival in America again.

Acts 2: Seeker Sensitive Version

Disclosure: Not an accurate translation

The First Seeker Church is Born

Acts 2:1-47 (SSV) When the day of fellowship arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from the espresso machine a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and the aroma of ground, organic coffee beans filled the entire house where they were sitting. And the warmth of friendship touched each one of them. And they were all appreciative of the Holy Spirit and began to speak about the challenges of life as their human spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in the nation religious people, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak about the same life issues as they had. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking church goers? And how is it that we hear them talking about the same things we talk about? Chicago and Los Angeles and South Carolina and residents of Dallas, Denver and Orlando, Kansas City and Paris, 10 London and Amsterdam, Switzerland and the parts of Tijuana belonging to Mexico, and visitors from Australia, 11 both church goers and seekers, Americans and Europeans—we hear them asking in our own words their questions about God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They have had way too much coffee.” 14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of America and all who dwell in Detroit, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not over-caffeinated, as you suppose, since the coffee bar has only been open a short time. 16 But this is what was uttered through the story teller and great motivator Joel: 17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will encourage human wisdom to be poured out, and your sons and your daughters shall share relevant stories, and your young men shall create media presentations, and your old men shall not get in the way; 18 even on my guys and gals in those days I will give them new fashion sense, and they shall be hipsters. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, light shows, and pyrotechnics, and smoke machines; 20 Sunday School stories will be told about the sun turning to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the hard to believe, but great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that the mention of salvation will be subtle and culturally relevant.’ 22 “Men of America, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty human difficulties that he overcame, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, happily traded his life for yours. 24 God raised him up, as you have witnessed in your Easter stage productions. 25 For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, with great encouraging principles to help me stay strong; 26 therefore I was thrilled and really happy; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you, we don’t want to talk too much about Hell, which shouldn’t be a concern. 28 You have made known to me the six step plan for a happier life; you will make me full of gladness with your principles of victorious living.’ 29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the old guy David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a great motivator, and knowing that God promised that he would set someone in his family in his position, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the suspenseful drama of Jesus, and because of this you can be happy. 32 This Jesus God really appreciates, just like he appreciates you. 33 Hanging out with his Dad, and having received from him awesome wisdom, he has poured this out that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David couldn’t see into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “let’s hang out, 35 you have no more problems at all.”’ 36 Let all the Christians therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus who traded his life for yours.” 37 Now when they heard this they were happily encouraged, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “This is pretty cool, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Simply know that God appreciates you just like you are and, over time, you will slowly start walking the direction he walks, and you will receive the gift of understanding and awesome living. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Make better choices than the others in this culture.” 41 So those who received his word received a free latte, and there were added that day about three thousand church attenders. 42 And they devoted themselves to the life coach’s stories and hanging out together, to the buffets and the low key talks about God. 43 And apathy came upon every soul, and no wonders or signs were being done through them. 44 And all who had questions were together and focused on happiness. 45 And they were buying new possessions and belongings and giving to social causes as they felt led. 46 And once or twice a month, listening to the leader’s stories together and watching football in their homes, they enjoyed eating, 47 thinking about God and being pretty much the same as all the other people in the world. And they added to their number day by day those who were being anesthetized.

Another Disclosure: This is really, really not an accurate translation. Thank God.

Photo credit: “Open Bible with pen Antique Grayscale” by Ryk Neethling is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Pepe Le Pew

The spirit behind cancel culture is truly wicked, but reform is still possible — and mandatory if America is to survive.

Bloodthirsty mobs are bent on destruction of anyone and anything that violates their worldview. Cancel culture is their weapon of choice, but mark my words, the weapons will only become more deadly unless we deal with the madness.

Read the following passage of Scripture carefully:

“…they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” A third time he said to them, “Why? What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.” (Luke 23:21–25, ESV)

The mob was relentless. The authorities of the day gave them what they demanded. A murderer won the popularity contest. Jesus was slaughtered. Cancel culture.

The stark contrast, however, was that Jesus was truly innocent. This should send shivers down our spine. As the end continues to draw nearer those who which to exterminate (cancel) those they disagree with will do so regardless of evidence of guilt. If they don’t like the way we tie our shoes, it will be enough to validate an overt mission of destruction, at least in the mob’s eyes.

The spirit behind deadly riots and cancel culture is the same. Riots are physical, visible, violent and fueled by rage against any and all who oppose their advance through city streets. Cancel culture is invisible, psychological, sociological yet also fueled by white-hot rage against those they hate.

Reformation is needed before the fabric of our nation is shredded beyond repair.

NINE CRUCIAL CHANGES THAT MUST COME TO CANCEL CULTURE

LISTEN TO THE ACCUSED

In today’s instant society, it takes mere minutes for accusations against people of influence to send stocks diving, to cost jobs and to destroy families. A single tweet is all it takes to initiate the rapid process of national judgment.

They aren’t only unfairly judged as guilty until proven innocent. They are often guilty even when proven innocent. Hatred needs no proof of indiscretion in order to become weaponized. 

In most every case, the punishment cancel culture inflicts doesn't match the crime. That should be expected as cancel culture is energized by punishment, not fairness.

It’s imperative for it to become normal and accepted protocol to listen to the accused. Allow them to authentically defend their position, to admit a mistake or to seek clarity from their accusers. Before someone’s entire career, family and life are destroyed because of the aggressive intent of a few, is it not fair to entertain their explanation? Shouldn’t we allow for due process to play out? Is it not prudent to avoid jumping to conclusions? When hatred is fueling a movement, logic like this doesn’t move their hearts. This is why we must see good American people rise up and demand that the accused are provided a sufficient opportunity to share their hearts and explain their positions before the spirit of death is unleashed on them.

FORGIVENESS

Anger, rage, hatred and aggression towards targets of cancel culture are extremely overpowering emotions. A more powerful force is forgiveness.

In recent years we have witnessed tragic shifts in our culture that celebrate destruction of people. We are living in a punitive society that seeks to resolve our nation’s ills by eliminating all who err, and all who are deemed guilty by association. Don’t only prosecute the bad cops, defund the entire police force.

What if we forgave instead? To forgive doesn’t mean we affirm bad behavior. It means we love the person who has failed and we work hard to see that they are blessed in the midst of their crisis, no matter how egregious their crime may have been.

There are few moments more powerful, and rare, then weeping mamas in a courtroom who look the killer of her children in the eye and say, “I forgive you.” We have all sinned, and contrary to popular belief, all sin is absolutely vile. Whether it’s a white lie, lust, intoxication or murder, our wickedness is sure. This is why God’s offer of forgiveness via the cross and the resurrection is more remarkable than can ever be expressed. Outside of the forgiveness of Jesus, we are all deserving of Hell.

OFFER A PATH OF REDEMPTION

Today’s cancel culture is drunk on bulldozing a path of destruction. A spirit of redemption fights for the accused, not against the accused. The spirit of destruction wages war against the spirit of redemption, and this is the spiritual battle that is being played out every day.

“…The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:9–10, ESV)

Understand, the thief, Satan, has all the evidence he needs to convince any and all of our guilt. In fact, he is absolutely right that we all deserve death and destruction. No one is righteous, and the penalty for that is delivery into the very hands of the devil. Thankfully there is an omnipotent God who loves us enough to offer a path of redemption. No matter what we have done, whether it’s stealing from a candy store, cheating on our taxes or cold-blooded murder, we can be redeemed. The power of love is incredible.

If someone truly fails and cancel culture brings it to light, providing a path of redemption is non-negotiable.

REJECT UNFOUNDED OPINIONS ABOUT MOTIVE

Refuse to entertain invented deductions about someone or something in our culture. We are watching Muppets, cartoons, classic movies and even Dr. Seuss cancelled right before our eyes. The latest victim? Pepe Le Pew:

New York Times columnist Charles Blow wrote a piece headlined, “Six Seuss Books Bore a Bias.” The column noted that some of the first cartoon characters Blow remembers seeing while young are Pepe Le Pew, who “normalized rape culture,” and Speedy Gonzales, whose friends “helped popularize the corrosive stereotype of the drunk and lethargic Mexicans.”

Simply because one person unilaterally determined the motive behind Pepe Le Pew’s mannerisms to be nefarious, this beloved character was removed from the upcoming Space Jam 2 movie with Lebron James.

It’s time that we refuse to accept outlandish accusations that have no merit.

QUESTION THE RULE BOOK

Fast forward to a few days ago when I watched a preview clip circulating the internet of the new Grand Theft Auto game. The video showed a sequence played in “first person view”, where you can actually invite a prostitute into your car, select the amount of money you wish to offer for her services and then watch the chosen acts performed. Not only that, once you have been sexually satisfied, you can kick her out of the car, stab her with a hatchet and run her over.”

This was from a 2014 article by Callen Price. Somebody please tell me how an innocent Looney Tune character like Pepe Le Pew is cancelled but Grand Theft Auto is not. This is nonsensical madness at its best. Paying for a prostitute’s services and then brutally murdering her after using her is acceptable? Who is writing the cancel culture rule book? Who is deciding what is moral and what is not?

We live in a culture that is drowning in pornography, drug use, violence, riots and all sorts of evil, yet we are cancelling people who suggest election fraud took place. Movies are filled with nudity, vulgar language and all sorts of immorality, yet we are destroying comedians who use the age old humor of stereotyping in their acts. Future generations are going to look back on America and think we are all nuts. It’s time to question the rule book. Greater sins are being ignored in favor of the chance to devour those who hold differing viewpoints.

STOP SURRENDERING TO THE MOB

We need some brave, level-headed people to stand up to the mob. When they are screaming, “Crucify! Crucify!” we should understand that something unholy is driving their madness.

All it takes is a mere suggestion that someone is out of line and companies are quick to destroy. Gina Carano was fired by Disney from her role in The Mandalorian simply because she tweeted something controversial. That’s all it took. Disney cowered to the mob.

Today people are walking on eggshells and living in fear of losing everything because of their beliefs or their failures of many years ago. When today’s cancel culture smells blood in the water, they rush to devour. We need to stop listening to the mob and start embracing the principles dealt with in this article. Love and forgiveness are culture-altering forces that we need today more than ever.

LOVE PEOPLE MORE THAN IDEOLOGIES

We are living in a throw-away generation where people easily dispose of others when they get in the way. Nothing exemplifies this more than the lengths people will go to ensure their freedom isn’t compromised by an unwanted baby. Abortion is evidence of ideologies and personal pursuits being dramatically more valuable than other people. Cancel culture is driven by this same spirit. Destroy people and protect ideologies. This hatred is destroying our nation. The only hope is a revelation of the love of Jesus. That’s it.

DEFEND THE RIGHT TO DIFFER

I’m shocked and dismayed that I have to write this in our once great and free nation. We should be celebrating the right to freely speak and for others to do the same. We may radically disagree with someone, and even believe their positions to be inhumane and immoral, yet their beliefs are their own. They speech is protected. I vehemently oppose the scourge of abortion, but I support the right for others to freely voice their support of the atrocity. We should be free to tweet and post opinions about anything from abortion to the election to vaccinations to pandemics to politics to religion to human sexuality to absolutely anything that isn’t illegal without cancel culture visiting our doorsteps.

REVIVAL

The bottom line is that our nation needs revival. Throughout this article I’m dealing with remedies that can only come when a culture is invaded with the love and power of Jesus. Pray for a move of God to overcome America. If it doesn’t happen, America itself will soon be cancelled.

Photo credit: “Pepe le Pew” by Prayitno / Thank you for (12 millions +) view is licensed under CC BY 2.

Originally published by The Stream.

Spirits of control and rebellion are hovering over our nation.

Take a half step back and gain a wider view of the epic clash that’s playing out in America. You’ll witness a supernatural assault that is fueled by mankind’s resolve to be in control. An unwitting alliance between puppet and puppet master has been working brilliantly in recent months. Invisible and extremely powerful demonic entities are the ones in control of the strings. The brilliance? They have convinced a culture that control is a desirable weapon, all while they are the ones truly in charge.

Opinions and actions concerning masks, politics, riots, the election and other trending topics of the last year are all too often manifestations of control and rebellion. It’s witchcraft. Has a spell been cast over America? Well, I question whether a spell is needed when so many of its citizens are so eager to embrace these extremely powerful tools of destruction.

As a pastor for many years I can tell you that witchcraft is an extremely powerful force. I’m talking about traditional witchcraft like I’ve experienced first hand many times. I’m also talking about what’s known as Christian witchcraft that manifests in gossip, manipulation and betrayal. I’m sure many pastors would agree that it’s easy to discern that evil spirit of control and rebellion even if there are no outward signs.

However, there’s an even more subtle form of witchcraft (control and rebellion) that even the most secular (or most Christian) person can employ. This is what we are seeing bring destruction to our once great nation.

CANCEL CULTURE IS A MANIFESTATION OF HATRED AND CONTROL

It shouldn’t surprise us that the largest population group in America would have the greatest influence. The non-Christian segment of our nation is leading the charge. This is detrimental to us all as they simply cannot exhibit leadership marked by true biblical love. Consistently producing fruits of the Spirit such as peace, patience, kindness and gentleness isn’t possible. It’s not because they are all terrible people, but rather because they don’t have the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Christians have a tough enough time trying to walk in this life-giving manner. Without the indwelling of the Spirit of God, it just can’t happen.

Without the power of God, the strings of the puppet master become enticing. The veiled promise of control and power the enemy offers is too hard to pass up. The virtue signaling can then begin as the ungodly promote their agenda.

The ambitious goal of cancel culture is to eradicate hate, abuse, immorality and other national and personal sins. It will never work.

The threat of being canceled may, to a very small degree, modify the outward expression of hatred, but it will do nothing to cause someone to stop hating. In fact, it may have the reverse effect of adding fuel to their fire.

Only a radical encounter with Jesus can remove the wickedness of hatred and all of the other sins cancel culture is attempting to address from a person's heart.

Further, cancel culture is inherently evil as it loathes what is possibly the greatest expression of love and transformation: forgiveness. No, cancel culture thrives on punishment, shame, control and, yes, hatred. You can't eradicate hatred with hatred.

The cancel culture alarmists unilaterally determine what should be canceled and what should not. They are writing the rule book. They are controlling the narrative.

Why aren't they also canceling promoters of other national atrocities? Porn? Abortion? Drug use? Greed?

The model of Jesus is, yes, despising wickedness. It's also loving enemies, costly forgiveness and redemption.

I wonder if there's anything more contrary to the Gospel in America today than the hate-driven, punitive, shaming and life-destroying cancel culture.

In fact, if we saw the underbelly of cancel culture we’d understand their agenda isn’t at all about eliminating hand-selected American vices. It’s about control. They have been seduced by this strong and wicked spirit of witchcraft and will stop at nothing to gain control of the narrative. They eagerly destroy people’s lives in their pursuit of power. The seduction dilutes any sense of love and forgiveness as they rip to shreds any and all who stand in their way. Their picture of a perfect America is worth casualties and collateral damage. They destroy with passion.

A SPIRIT OF CONTROL HITS HOME WITH MASKS AND LOCKOWNS

If there’s a trigger word today it’s masks. Lockdowns would be a close second. I suppose Trump is in the mix too.

For the past year social media has been dominated by aggressive opinions, accusations, finger pointing and all sorts of rebellious behavior regarding masks and lockdowns. I’m convinced that many a politician enjoys a guilty pleasure when they enact mask laws. The rush of power and the satisfaction of controlling others are addictive. Am I saying nobody has pure motives in their mask and lockdown legislation? No. Am I saying the science supporting masks and lockdowns is entirely flawed? No, not entirely. However, it’s abundantly clear that many politicians and people of influence are capitalizing on the opportunity to gain greater control over the people they were called to serve.

I’ve often wondered why there’s such a clear divide on the issue of masks and lockdowns between the left and the right. It’s truly fascinating. Is it as simple as big versus small government? I don’t think so (though I do believe big government thrives on control). Is it because freedom-loving Christians are typically right-leaning conservatives? Possibly, at least in part. Could it be many on the right are marked by independence and personal responsibility while many on the left are more focused on systems that diminish personal responsibility and promote a sort of quasi-fairness for all? Probably. Could it possibly be that those on the right are often marked by their zealous love for America while those on the left tend to be less patriotic while focusing on the negative issues in our nation? While I understand these are generalities, we have to consider the possible nuances. Those on the left are quicker to identify issues by taking a knee while those on the right celebrate the positives while standing for the flag. Again, I understand there’s overlap, but these general ideas warrant consideration.

Regardless, it’s still interesting how it plays out. Many on the left are enraged when they can’t control others and force them to wear a mask. The rage may even be greater on the side of the right as they tend to become unglued when forced to wear a mask. Have you seen some of the fights that have broken out at shopping centers simply because someone was asked to wear a mask?

I’ll be direct: the invisible yet powerful evil spirit of control is manifesting in both the left and the right. Some people want to control others while others want to maintain control of their own lives. Witchcraft has seduced both with a wicked concoction of control and rebellion.

If a spirit of witchcraft is driving your beliefs and emotions, you will find yourself agitated, triggered and aggressive when control is removed from you. The threat of losing charge of your American experience is enough to cause you to adopt the puppet master’s tactics instead of being driven by the Spirit of God.

When we are led by our flesh we get agitated when people don't see things the way we do.

When we are led by the Spirit we love more deeply when people don't see things the way God does.

Freedom isn’t defined by the absence of controlling factors in our lives. It’s defined by refusal to lose our liberty in the face of oppression. Only Jesus makes this possible.

IT’S TIME FOR AMERICAN PRIDE TO DIE

Pride is what caused the fall of Lucifer. Pride is what will cause the fall of our nation.

We need mass repentance in America, and fast. It’s time to sever our ties with the enemy and renounce control, rebellion, pride and all forms of witchcraft. The spell of witchcraft on our nation was cast not by wicked witches, but by pure-blooded Americans who are fueled by their own prideful desires. It’s time to humble ourselves and to cry out to God for mercy on America.

Photo credit: “Witch” by www.metaphoricalplatypus.com is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Jack Dorsey

Politics are at the center of the story of Jesus. His historical life ended with a political execution. ~Marcus J. Borg

Under its new guidelines, Twitter users who are deemed to have peddled false COVID-19 information will be given a strike.

Five strikes and you are out. Banned. Terminated. Forever.

Something is abundantly clear to anyone who has been surveying the rapid and sudden eradication of our freedoms: muzzles have been securely adhered to the mouths of Christians and conservatives. The ungodly decision makers of America are pouncing on the opportunity the recent global situation has provided to silence their dissenters. 

Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg and rest of media have been agitated into a frenzy. They are unapologetically attempting to play God by eliminating anything that threatens their humanistic utopia.

THE THREAT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

Jesus proved to be such an extreme threat to the religious and political system of his day that they paid Judas 30 pieces of silver. Then the bloodthirsty political mob killed him. They were willing to do whatever needed to be done to shut down the “propaganda” and to regain control of the narrative.

They failed. An earthquake, several passed out soldiers, a displaced boulder and a missing body created a new and greater threat. Desperate to avoid losing power and influence, the “sleeping” guards, just like Judas, were given a large sum of money to stop the threat. A wicked scheme was put into action and lies were spread to combat the truth of freedom and righteousness.

The body of Jesus was stolen. His disciples were hallucinating. Any excuse would suffice. Even one of their own, Thomas, doubted anything miraculous happened. Jesus was, as the coroner of the land of Oz might say, not only merely dead, he's really most sincerely dead. 

WE ARE AT WAR

We must understand this isn't about an attempt to ensure correct information about COVID is being disseminated. It's about cancelling any and all who promote anything that contradicts the personal beliefs of those who control mass communication. We have truly entered into a time when crafty propaganda is manipulating the thoughts of millions. Social engineering is alive and well. Refusal to comply with tech leader's ideologies will result in eradication. Jesus was killed because of his message and influence. Today, Christians and conservatives are being eliminated from social media because of our message and influence. Oh, and don't think that we won't also be killed for our message one day. It's coming.

THE RIGHT TO LIE

I know it's strange and even a little concerning to hear a devoted follower of Jesus promote the right to lie. I'm not suggesting that we as Christians ever actually lie. What I am suggesting is simple: those who are in control of communication in our nation are determining themselves exactly what qualifies for truth and lies. 

So, those who are exchanging truth for lies are unilaterally calling good evil and evil good. This means for us to reveal truth, the right to lie becomes indispensable. 

Should we not, as free Americans, be allowed to communicate our deeply held personal beliefs no matter who may disagree? Isn't it an American right to promote any variety of conspiracy theory? Are we no longer allowed to suggest aliens crashed at what is now Area 51? Can we not share our views about the Illuminati, the assassination of President Kennedy, the existence of Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster sightings, time travel and other debatable topics? Should we lock up Ben Shapiro? Does the left not have a right to spew hatred, lies and filth about the recently deceased Rush Limbaugh?

Yes we should be able to talk about aliens. No, Ben shouldn't go to prison for being ridiculously balanced and smart. And, no, vile monsters shouldn't be cancelled because they smeared Rush. It's called freedom of speech. Truth and lies should be aggressively scrutinized while completely free of restriction.

“If I had to say something positive I guess I’m glad Rush Limbaugh lived long enough to get cancer and die,” comedian Paul F. Tompkins said.

In another attempt to silence conservatives, any suggestion that the election was stolen has been judged to be an untruth by social media giants. These Goliaths will taunt their enemies and restrict any debate that threatens thier points of view. Anyone who is intellectually honest must conclude that there may have been a possibility of election indiscretion. There's no way it can be definitively determined that zero fraud took place. Yet, today's uncircumcised Philistines overseeing mass communication aren't what you'd call intellectually honest. Their truth is the only truth that matters.

So, whether it's COVID or Trump or masks or riots, many of the messages conservatives and Christians are communicating have been determined to be lies, and subsequently erased from social media. Therefore we absolutely must support the right to lie. If we don't, it's five strikes and we are out.

THE GOSPEL TO BE CANCELLED NEXT?

Truthfully, much of the Gospel has already been cancelled. Just as cultural leaders frantically attempted to modify the truth of the resurrection before it reached the whole of society, the truth of Scripture is being rewritten to meet the strict guidelines of today's censors.

In fact, the Bible has already been censored or outright outlawed in many places around the world. The living truth it contains is as threatening today as it was to the religious and political leaders two thousand years ago.

If the Word of God deals with hot topics such as homosexuality in a manner that runs contrary to today's intellectually awakened humanistic gurus, it's cancelled. Not only cancelled, but whoever embraces what the Bible teaches can have their lives destroyed by today's woke mob.

When love speech is called hate speech simply because people are radically resistant to the type of love the Bible reveals, you know we are in trouble as a nation. God and his methods are not only being rejected wholesale in today's ungodly American culture, but those who have decided to follow Jesus are shamed, despised, ridiculed, hated and cancelled.

We shouldn't be surprised. The Bible we believe and the God we serve have made it clear this would happen. Sadly, if things don't change now, it's only going to get worse.

“Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:21–22, ESV)

Photo credit: “Jack Dorsey” by jdlasica is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 
Originally published by The Stream.

 

Tiger Woods

Pray fiery prayers for Tiger Woods

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Woods is “lucky to be alive.”

My heart goes out for Tiger Woods who was involved in a tragic car accident today. With the gut-wrenching death of Kobe Bryant not far behind us, news like this hits the raw, exposed nerves of our rattled nation. Of course, as so many are communicating, we must pray for Tiger right now. Yet, I’m suggesting our intercession go far beyond a petition for his physical healing.

Fox Sports reports, “The sports community was rattled on Tuesday shortly after news broke that golf legend Tiger Woods was involved in a serious car wreck. Woods, 45, suffered “multiple leg injuries” after being involved in a “single-vehicle roll-over” collision on the border of Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes at around 7:12 a.m. local time, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and his agent Mark Steinberg.“

IT’S TIME FOR AWAKENING TO COME TO OUR NATION’S CELEBRITIES AND INFLUENCERS

I’m grieved in my spirit any time I hear reports like this. Just the other day I was watching a video of a celebrity dropping an F-bomb from her hospital room, clearly shaken as she was about go undergo major surgery. After a very short recovery period, she entered eternity. She was gone. Today she is very much alive and alert in her eternal home. I’m grieved at just where that may be.

I wish I could express how deeply such news impacts me. News of Tiger’s accident today should make it vividly clear that we are all mere inches and moments away from our spirit leaving our body and either entering into God’s glorious presence — or into the maddening torments of hell. I don’t know where Tiger is spiritually, but if he isn’t zealously in love with Jesus and wildly surrendered to him, it must happen immediately. Tiger, if you are reading this, I implore you to grab hold of God’s hand as he draws you into his heart. His passion for you is immeasurable.

Yes, prayer for physical healing is absolutely appropriate, and as Christians we know that God has quite a track record for stunning, miraculous, divine healings. He’s been delivering the shock and awe of his healing power for thousands of years. Yet, as incredible as a physical healing is, it lasts for but a time. We need to shift our focus from the temporal to the eternal. Every one of us will be living forever somewhere. One hundred years from now we will all be alive and alert either with God or with Satan. A million years later and we will be in the very same place. It’s a message that fewer and fewer preachers are sharing today, yet it’s critical truth that can’t be denied. Either heaven or hell awaits.

REVIVAL IS OUR ONLY HOPE

This is the church’s greatest hour, an opportunity to rise up in fervent intercession and supernatural faith for a massive move of God in our nation. Literally and without any exaggeration, revival is America’s only hope. It’s time that we see heart-wrenching repentance overwhelm all of us. There’s no way we can expect our nation’s celebrities to hit their knees and surrender all to Jesus if the church doesn’t push back the enemy and go to battle for their souls. We have been called to live pure and holy lives, to embrace radical consecration, to go deep in God and to pave the way for culture-shocking, earth-shaking revival.

I yearn for the day when we see celebrities overcome with emotion as they lift their hands in undone worship. I long to see Michael Jordan, Charlie Sheen, Tom Cruise, Oprah Winfrey, Nancy Pelosi, David Letterman, Adam Sandler, Tiger Woods and so many other influencers lifting their hands in passionate worship of Jesus as tears stream down their cheeks. I so deeply desire to see them free, alive and transformed by the overwhelming love of Jesus. Holy Spirit, move on them and bring an awakening to their souls!

A REVELATION OF JESUS

When Jesus manifests in a person’s life, everything changes. Of course, after experiencing the glory of God in my own desperate life it troubles and saddens me beyond words when others reject such a great salvation. There is nothing that compares to knowing God. Nothing. Fame, fortune, power and the lusts of life are pathetically devoid of what only God can give. Encountering such a holy, omnipotent, supernatural entity that fills his days with thoughts of love for me results in rivers of tears and oceans of gratitude that no human words could ever express.

If it hasn’t happened already, I so desire for Tiger Woods to know the lover of his soul, Jesus, like this. I want God to visit him, to transform him, to wash away the pain, to heal his body, to touch his heart and to overwhelm him with love. I pray the forgiveness of his heavenly Father will flood his soul as he gladfully surrenders all. A revelation of Jesus (not just knowledge about Jesus) will result in a never-ending tremble within. Something in the neighborhood of billions of pounds of despair, heartache, sin, fear and everything else that troubles mankind will dissipate in a split second at the moment we lift our hands, hit our knees and release control of our very short lives to God.

This is what I pray happens for Tiger, Michael, Oprah and the rest. One second in the presence of God is all they need. The first second in the fires of hell, however, will result in nothing short of regret, hopelessness and terror. The thought of people saying no to Jesus rips at my soul.

It’s time to be an outspoken, fiery, zealous and undignified worshiper of Jesus. Church, we must rise up in intercession. There are terrible accidents planned well in advance by the enemy. He wants to rip us to shreds. He’s bent on death and destruction. We can’t play games anymore. People are inches and moments from eternity. Let’s go to battle for their souls and see a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit hit Hollywood, the sports world, Nashville, Washington D.C. and our entire nation.

Photo credit: “Tiger Woods driver” by TourProGolfClubs is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Originally posted by The Stream.