Give Me That Old Time Religion.....NOT!

Many, many years ago an old spiritual song was written, "Give Me That Old Time Religion."  The song may have had it roots in African spirituals.  I found that some group, in the early days of recordings, actually recorded it, in 1909.  Recording artists like Tennessee Ernie Ford, Johnny Cash and many others included it in their records.  The song is a catchy, fun song to sing.  If you have a chance Google it and listen to it and read the many variations of the verses.  Part of the fun of the song was that you can make up verses as you go and then sing the Chorus at the end of each made up verse. 

Here is the Chorus and one of the many verses:

        Chorus

        Give me that old time religion

        Give me that old time religion    

        Give me that old time religion

        It's good enough for me

 

        Verse

        It was good for Paul and Silas

        It was good for Paul and Silas

        It was good for Paul and Silas

        It's good enough for me 

 

Of course, then the song could go on into many other verses, both written and added. 

Through the magic of the Blogisphere....I heard that Paul and Silas actually showed up in your town last Sunday morning.  Paul said to Silas, "Silas old buddy, we're here this morning so let's visit a local church and see what is going on."  Silas replied, "Wow, Paul...that's a great idea.  I'll pull out my cell phone and Google the local churches and see where we can go."  Then Paul said, "Google the most Fundamental/Evangelical churches cause they probably will have my message right on!"

Silas then found the First Bapticostal Charismatic Church of God Word of Faith Christian Center.  On their web-page it stated, "We use the KJV only; The Bible that Paul used!"  After Silas read this to Paul he said, "Wow!  We just have to check this church out!"  So, they made their way across town just in time for the service.  As they made their way up to the front door they were greeted by Brother Moe and Brother Curly, the long time ushers.  They were all dressed in flashy "zoot suits" and wore their best black patent leather shoes.  Of course Paul and Silas showed up in their two thousand year old robes.  The robes, from all of the wear and tear of the years, were a little thread bare at that.  The ushers took a quick glance at each other and Moe leaned over to Curly and said, "What are we gonna do with these Bozos?"  Curly whispered back, "I don't think Pastor Larry is gonna like this so lets make sure we seat them near the door."  (I couldn't resist the Pastor Larry bit... He's not me, but he's being used to complete the Three Stooges....lol)

So the two Stooges, I mean the ushers, manage to get Paul and Silas seated just in time for the "worship" to begin.  As soon as our visitors take their seat, the lights are dimmed, the  Worship Leader takes the mic and shouts at the top of his voice...."HALLELUJAH!!!  ARE YOU READY TO WORSHIP GOD?"  He hits the first chord on his Gibson guitar and the stained glass windows rattle to the point they are about to fall out of their frame.  Silas stands as he says, "What's all of this Paul....Is this really how we told people to gather together in their homes, each one bring a song to share, each one bring a word to share?"  The music roared for another hour.  Towards the end the strobe lights and fog machine were turned on and Paul and Silas looked at each other completely dumbfounded.

Finally, as Paul cleaned out his hurting ears, Pastor Larry came to the mic and told everyone that it was offering time.  He said, "OK you people....It's now time to pay your tithes and give until it hurts."  As he made this statement he was thinking to himself that his new Cadillac payment was due and boy did they need a huge offering this week.  Silas looked at Paul with questioning eyes and reached into his robe and found a shekel to put in the plate as it came by.  As he did so, he felt rather condemned because Pastor Larry, like the "offering lifter" that he was, really put the squeeze on the congregation.  

The ushers, Moe and Curly, passed the plates around the church, piled high with credit card receipts as Pastor Larry picked up his KJV Bible and began to speak.  He opened with, "OK, it's now time for the Word of God.  I feel that in order to please God, I'm gonna take you back to some "Old Time Religion" and really step all over your toes today!"  Paul leaned over to Silas and said, "I never taught Timothy to step all over people's toes.  I told him to bring comfort and edification to God's people."

Then Pastor Larry told his congregation, "It is time in this church for everyone to begin working hard at becoming holy and righteous.  This sin stuff has to end or I'll know the reason why!" While he made that statement, he was noticing his secretary, Sister Smith.  He thought to himself, "Wow! She looks so beautiful this morning.  I really wish my plain old looking wife would look as good as her!"  He then snapped back from his lustful thoughts and began to hammer how how unholy and sinful his people were. 

Paul whispered to Silas, "This isn't what I taught the churches!  I taught them that, "For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, NO LONGER COUNTING PEOPLE'S SINS AGAINST THEM!" (2 Cor. 5:19)  Then he said, I taught them all this,  "For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right (righteousness of God) with God through Christ!" (2 Cor. 5:21) 

At that time Pastor Larry finished his message with the most powerful, compelling altar call that he had ever given.  He said, "OK...It's now time for all of you (thinking to himself, everyone but me) to come to this altar and get right with God!  It's time for you all to REPENT!"  As he said the  word, "repent" he was huffing and puffing like a steam engine!  The entire congregation ran forward, many of the women were weeping like babies.  They just knew that if they didn't get right with God at that very moment, they might have a car accident on the way home, die and go to hell.  Of course that's what Pastor Larry told them in his appeal for an altar call. 

Paul and Silas didn't go forward that morning.  Instead they, like little church mice, very quietly dodged out the door.  By this time they felt like the others in the congregation, totally condemned.  They knew that they should have gone forward to the altar so that God would be totally pleased with them. Paul, hanging his head low said to Silas, "I don't know about you, but I think I need to get right with God!"  Silas said, "Amen Brother!"  It was then that they left the scene, going back to heaven, but wondering if they would still be welcome there!

So.....I do want "The Old Time Religion."  However, I sure don't want the religion of Pastor Larry and ushers Moe and Curly.  I want the true religion that Paul and Silas taught.  By the way....I teach what they taught too.  I only hope that Moe, Larry and Curly find it too!

Grace and peace!


Spying on Jesus and Paul!

OK.....I admit it...I'd love to have been able to spy on a couple of guys!  Yes, I guess they call that voyeurism, but I sure would have been able to do that!  I would have loved to have spent 3 years of my life spying on Jesus and Paul. Well, I guess I really don't have to be able to do that as Paul recorded all of what Jesus spoke in his Epistles.  Yes, Paul recorded the Word of God!  He Heard from the Word and passed on what the Word said to him and taught the same exact thing to those he taught and still teaches; you and me!  Thus, Paul's quoting the exact words of the Word, become the Word too. Get it?

Anyway, Paul says this in Galatians 1: 11-12, "Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning.  I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me.  Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ." This is a very important verse of Scripture.  When Paul writes to the churches he isn't sharing what he thought about issues.  Rather, he emphatically states the new direction that the Church is to take, leaving the Law behind and going forth into the "new way" of the New Covenant.

He goes on to say in Chapter 1 (verses 15-18a) "But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace.  Then it pleased him to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles.  When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being.  Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was.  Instead, I went away into Arabia and later I returned to the city of Damascus.  Then THREE YEARS later I went to Jerusalem...." 

Paul sat down for a period of three years, both in Arabia and in Damascus.  It was there Jesus taught him the wonderful revelations of New Covenant Grace.  Yep, here's where I would have loved to be a spy!  Can you imagine Paul sitting alone on a big stone in the middle of the desert listening and questioning Jesus about all of this dramatic, very earth-shaking teaching?  Paul, a Pharisee, a follower of the Law of Moses, is being told by God Himself, that the Law, the "Old way that leads to condemnation and death" has been replaced by the "New Way which leads to life."  Wow!  If I could have only been hiding behind a bush and observing this!  But....wait....I have observed this!  I just observed this some more and now I'm actually sharing my observations with you!  You see, I've just heard from the Word of God and I'm sharing the Word of God with you. 

I am a spy!  Every time I read Paul's words from the pages of my Bible, I'm spying on what happened.  What an awesome experience!  I trust that you too are spying on Paul!  Let's do more spying together this week and fill our hearts with the Word of God!  Glory!

Grace and peace!

 

 


The "Veil" Paul Writes About

I'm certain that you will agree with me when I say that there is so much division between people today.  Honestly, I can't ever remember a time when  division was so apparent, especially within the USA, as it currently is.  All a person has to do is to spend just 5 minutes watching a cable news program to back up what I'm saying.  I often wonder how is it possible for two people to RADICALLY think 180 degrees apart.  We don't just think a little different these days, but we are militant in our points of view. Just look at the United States Congress!  There is no longer anything called, "middle-ground!"  Nothing in Congress can get accomplished as neither the Dems or the GOP can come to a compromised understanding and pass a bill! 

I find the same things holds true within the Church of today.  Sadly!  As you may know, several years ago I had a very dramatic encounter with God. He took most of the doctrine that I had been steeped in for many years and did a complete, radical change within me.  All of a sudden my Bible read as a different book.  Shortly I had to stand before my congregation and tell them, "Many of the things I had taught you are incorrect!"  Of course that didn't go over too well with some.  Within weeks I was labeled a heretic, false prophet and even worse.  As a result we watched a mass exodus from our church in Florida.  Corinne and I, along with the majority of our leadership team watched dumbfounded as people voted with their feet.  The sad thing was that these were people that we loved, most who we felt would be with us forever, no matter what turmoil would ever occur in our congregation.  We were hurt!  However, the pain was greatly reduced by our new found revelations of God's wonderful New Covenant life that He was exposing and releasing within our hearts.  Corinne and I had a total transformation occur within us and so did the faithful people who grasped the life changing, freeing message of Grace.  That greatly tempered the pain!

It was then that I really began to understand the great divide that existed between "Church People."  Some, those who opposed what I was Biblically exposing to them, rejected my new teaching only based upon what they had been taught in the past.  I soon discovered that even  pastors and teachers only really teach what we had been taught in the past.  Thus we only continue a vicious circle....My teachers were wrongly taught, therefore I teach wrongly!  Few Church leaders teach what the Holy Spirit teaches them.  Their doctrine is solely based on what others have taught them. Therefore, if what they have learned is wrong, the wrongness is perpetuated forever.

I recall the early days of my "Grace revelations."  I can remember taking my boat out on the lake we lived on at the time.  I was headed for some great bass fishing.  As I motored to my fishing spot, out of no where, I heard the Holy Spirit very clearly say to me, "Only teach what Paul taught!"  This was one of those times when what I heard was so distinct and clear that it seemed like God was actually in the boat.  Of course He was....in me!  Over the next few months I heard that directive very clearly over and over again.  According to Galatians chapter 1, Paul was taught the principles of the New Covenant by Christ Himself.  Then Paul brought Christ's words back to Jerusalem where the new Church leaders, thankfully, embraced his teaching. Thus the Church was radically changed from just another off-shoot of Judaism to the radical, life changing entity that it is supposed to be.  Had not Paul accomplished his mission or the Leaders embrace his teaching, the Church would have been totally Jewish, only with Jesus added to it; not much of a change from the status quo of the day.   

Here's what Paul says about the divisions within the Church....(2 Corinthians chapter 3) In writing about the old covenant, "The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death....If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God!....So if the old way, which HAS BEEN REPLACED was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, WHICH REMAINS FOREVER!"  And of course, I could go on and on showing how the "old way," the Law and all it contained, was replaced with the New Covenant which brings life.  This chapter is essential in understanding the reason why many just can't release the "old way teaching" that holds them in bondage. Often, when I write about the Law being replaced by Grace, people holding onto the "old way" argue, some becoming nasty as well.  Why?

Paul goes on in 2 Corinthians 3 to explain: (verse 12-15) "Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold.  We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away.  But the PEOPLE'S MINDS WERE HARDENED, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, THE SAME VEIL COVERS THEIR MINDS SO THEY CANNOT UNDERSTAND THE TRUTH.  And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ!  Yes, EVEN TODAY WHEN THEY READ MOSES' WRITINGS, THEIR HEARTS ARE COVERED WITH THAT VEIL, AND THEY DO NOT UNDERSTAND."

However, those who oppose Grace say, "But Larry, I believe in Christ so I don't have a veil over my mind."  However, what Paul is really saying here is: "This veil can be removed only by believing in THE FINISHED WORKS OF CHRIST."  In other words, the veil is removed by believing in the Gospel that Paul preached.  Most who oppose Grace are not believing in Paul's Gospel, but rather a gospel of the mixed message of law and grace that they have been taught by leaders who have been taught incorrectly themselves!  Now that is the rub!

Thanks for reading this very long Blog post!  I trust that it is a blessing to you and helps you understand a bit of what is currently going on within the Church.  I also trust that you are able to avoid the veil and completely embrace the message that Paul taught. It does come by revelation, and maybe these words will help you see more of Holy Spirit's hand working in your life, bringing you into life and freedom within the New Covenant!

Grace and peace!


Parents PLEASE Read This!!!!

Several years ago, in one of the churches we were pastors of, my wife was in charge of the youth department.  We had a Jr. Church program that we ran for children of most ages, except nursery. One of her responsibilities was to choose and order the curriculum that our teachers used.  Several months prior to a new quarter, she'd order sample material from several, well-known, large, popular Christian publishing houses.  They would send the sample material that she ordered, and then if we liked it we would order for the following quarter.  After my wife received samples from one of the largest publishing houses, she came to me and said, "Larry, we just can't use this stuff!"  I asked her what was wrong and she read to me from one of the booklets, probably material for 5-7 year old children, this: "It is very important that you obey your parents, teachers and those in authority so that God will love you!"  Now, this was before we had too much revelation on grace, but even then we knew that this was a lie!

I really wonder how many parents actually know what their children are being taught in Sunday School, Jr. Church or Youth Group???  Parents...it is essential that you know what your kids are being taught!  Can you imagine your child being taught that God's love is dependent upon if they obey their teachers or not?  Little Johnny or Suzy sits in that Sunday School class on Sunday morning, and hears this rubbish.  Come Monday morning something goes wrong, they have a breakdown and disobey Ms. Smith, their teacher.  After the proper discipline, they reflect on their actions and all of a sudden remember what they were taught in Sunday School the day before.  It then dawns on them that God no longer loves them!  Then, it gets even worse...they think, "Will God forgive me now?  Will I go to heaven?  Will God ever love me again?  What can I do to get God's love back? etc., etc!" How sad!

Please don't brush off this blog!  Just yesterday a youth pastor of a church, challenged my Facebook post about how the Law was no longer in force.  By his picture he looked to be around 25 years old.  His writing showed that he was very intellectual; he was throwing Greek and Hebrew words at me.  He was a student of the Torah and very proud of it.  His challenge was that the law was still in effect and was God's plan for people today.  Yes, he said he was saved by grace, but he got very hung up on the Law.  (Torah)  Eventually he became very argumentative and later a little nasty.  My rules on my Facebook posts are simple.  Feel free to disagree with me, tell me why you do.  I'm fine with that.  However when you become argumentative and nasty you are gone!  I ended up blocking this know it all kid!  However, my heart was so saddened because I knew his position as a youth pastor would effect, actually ruin his kids, maybe for the rest of their lives!  My heart was broken all night over this event.  Just think he is influencing kids that they must obey the Law to earn God's favor!  Sad...so sad!

If you do not know and understand what your children are being taught in church, you could very well be messing them up for the rest of their lives!  But of course....some of you don't know what you are being taught in church either.  Some of you have already swallowed the Koolaid of Religion and don't even realize it!  It could be that is even sadder.  Please consider my words today!  PLEASE!!!

Grace and peace!


Yes, I Am Free to Cuss, But.....

It's possible that some of my "Grace Friends" will get angry with me about this post, and even possibly accuse me of trying to bring them back under bondage.  However, I assure you, that is the farthest thing from my purpose here!  I have noticed a lot of "Grace Folks" on Facebook really getting a kind of "in your face attitude" lately. In other words, some have developed an attitude sort of like...."Listen, I am free to do anything, to say anything and to be anything, and if you don't believe me, look at what I just wrote!  If you don't like it....TOUGH!  You will NEVER bring me back into bondage!"  So, their post will be filled with cuss words, some even including the "F-bomb." 

Now, please don't get me wrong here.  I love these people and I fully agree that God really doesn't give two hoots about people saying the "F-bomb."  However, many people, including me,  still find that word and words like it offensive.  Yes, sadly, some within religion will even go so far as to state that saying words like these are sinful practices.  Of course, that is totally ridiculous! 

To be fully transparent here, I've even been known to drop a cuss word or two once in awhile.  However, I never use the "F-word," even though I do have the right under God's grace to do so.  (I know that this statement may ruffle some religious feathers too!)  However, I also feel that somehow we need to bring a little BALANCE into our grace walk.  I have to laugh at this, as some people within the "Grace Camp" hate the word, "balance."  They feel that when we use that word, we are somehow trying to bring control, manipulation and law into their lives.  Likewise, this isn't always correct thinking either. 

So....I have the right under my freedom in Christ to use some salty language.  I, in my passion of my new found liberty in Christ develop an "in your face" type attitude and spout off all kinds of cuss words.  Those who are sadly lost in religion and law look at my Facebook post or the words that I say publicly and think, "If that's grace then I don't want a thing to do with it!"  What I have done is used my freedom to be a "stumbling block" to a person still under law.  This block is pretty huge too!

I'm thinking that some of us grace loving people need to do a little thinking and not become stumbling blocks to people that God loves!  Maybe it's time to reign in our liberty some in consideration of those who we need to bring into liberty!

I think that Paul says it best:

1 Corinthians 10:23-33New Living Translation (NLT)

23 You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial. 24 Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.

25 So you may eat any meat that is sold in the marketplace without raising questions of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”

27 If someone who isn’t a believer asks you home for dinner, accept the invitation if you want to. Eat whatever is offered to you without raising questions of conscience. 28 (But suppose someone tells you, “This meat was offered to an idol.” Don’t eat it, out of consideration for the conscience of the one who told you. 29 It might not be a matter of conscience for you, but it is for the other person.) For why should my freedom be limited by what someone else thinks? 30 If I can thank God for the food and enjoy it, why should I be condemned for eating it?

31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God. 33 I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.

I like Paul's attitude...."I don't just do what is best for me; I DO WHAT IS BEST FOR OTHERS SO THAT MANY MAY BE SAVED!

Grace and peace!

 

 


"The Fear of Cancer is Worse Than Cancer Itself!"

Last Friday, September 15, 2017, I was to celebrate my one year anniversary of the radical surgery on my mouth, neck and right leg that cut cancer from my body and rebuilt my lower jaw bone with the small bone from my leg.  It also was to mark one year of being cancer free. However, a few days earlier, during a routine visit with my surgeon, at Shands Hospital (University of Florida) in Gainesville, I was urged to have a CT Scan performed on a suspicious mass that had formed on my lower, right neck. The call came on September 13 that a biopsy was needed to confirm what the CT Scan revealed.  Then yesterday afternoon I was informed by my Doctor's assistant that the mass was indeed cancerous.  The biopsy showed that the mass was squamous cell carcinoma which is the same form of cancer that I had in my mouth.  Evidently a cell had escaped the surgery and invaded a lymph node in my neck.  I understand that this is very common with head and neck cancers.  I currently await an appointment with my Doctor next Tuesday morning where my options will be discussed.

Of course, this bad news has once again rocked my little world!  No one likes phone calls like I got yesterday.  Cancer is such an evil disease!  I can't even begin to tell you how it has changed my life.  Physically, it has taken a heavy toll on me.  On the other hand, spiritually and even mentally, it has strengthened me.  I guess that is something good that has come from my previous, and I guess, ongoing battles.

In my soon to be released book, When God Doesn't Heal: Avoiding Fear, Shame and Condemnation, I tell my previous cancer story of the past year.  I also share what I have learned as a result of my journey.  The fact is that God ALWAYS heals!  However, it doesn't always come the way we expect it to come.  As a result, many who are seeking God for healing and their miracle hasn't arrived yet, or in the form that they expect, come under the burden of fear, shame and condemnation. 

One of the huge lessons that my wife and I have learned over our cancer experiences (God healed Corinne of cancer many years ago) was that the fear of cancer is worse than the cancer itself.  Fear works along with shame and condemnation to really take a cancer patient out.  The cancer can kill, but fear, shame and condemnation can spiritually and emotionally kill way before physical death arrives.  This can be avoided when we know that God is complete control, at all times! 

Here is a quote from my book:

"My friend, likewise, your healing, your miracle, is not dependent on what you do or don’t do. It’s dependent only on the blood shed for you two thousand years ago. It will come to you in the way and fashion that God decides to bring it to you because of that shed blood. All you must do is rest in the plan of God for your life.

Here’s the deal—even if I’m never healed of cancer in this life, I cannot lose because I will spend eternity free of cancer and any other sickness. I’m the winner!

Kick religion out of your health situation and enter the wonderful rest of God through the finished works of Jesus Christ. You’ll never be sorry."

Right now, I'm not a "happy camper" in regards to yesterday's phone call.  I'm not looking forward to what will come in the days ahead; possible surgery and other treatments.  The future has many questions attached to it for me.  However, this one thing I can assure you is that I'm not facing one bit of fear, shame and condemnation over my current situation.  I refuse to go down that road! 

So, if you are facing cancer, or any other serious sickness or disease, I assure you that God is your healer!  He just may perform an instant miracle for you, completely delivering you from your affliction.  Or, your healing miracle may come in many, many other ways.  However, you can rest, knowing full well that He has a plan for your life and it's much better than anything you could ever think of yourself!

Please pray for me as I go forward.  I surely will be praying for you as you read this post!  I love you and God loves you so much more!

Grace and peace!


Hurricanes, Earthquakes and Unrest: Is This the Bible Being Fulfilled?

This morning I sadly watched the news reports of Hurricane Maria, a powerful Category 5 hurricane, about to hit Puerto Rico bringing 150 plus MPH winds and rain to an already devastated island.  Last night I watched the reports of an earthquake over 7 points on the Richter Scale hitting Mexico City, killing hundreds.  Just last week, our area of Florida narrowly missed the brunt of Hurricane Irma, with other areas being hit full on.  We also watch news reports of riots and unrest in the streets of our cities while death and destruction advances all over the world.  Could this be the end of the world?  Is this what Jesus was speaking of in His Matthew 24 teaching? 

All over Social Media some are proclaiming that the end of the world, and even the rapture will take place this coming Saturday, September 23, 2017.  It seems that the Charismatic prophets are really busy these days pronouncing judgment on the United States, and the world.  Some are applying teaching from Jewish Rabbis to their prophetic unctions.  What about all of this?  You may be asking, "Larry, What do you think about all of this stuff?"  Well, maybe you haven't asked me, but here's my take on it anyway!

First, may I begin with a true word of prophesy, "However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself.  Only the Father knows!"  (Mt. 24:36)  I suggest that you read the chapter in context to understand what "these things" are that Jesus speaks of.  Yet, here Jesus absolutely debunks the doom and gloom prophets of today!

I also find it interesting that on this morning's news reports from Puerto Rico, it was stated that Maria is the first Cat. 5 hurricane to hit the island since the 1930's.  Certainly, this is a terrible thing going on there right now.  However, it's not the first Cat. 5 storm to hit them.  I think the report said that the last one was in 1934.  The world didn't end in 1934!  Can you see where I'm coming from.  We've always had hurricanes, earthquakes and unrest!  This human suffering is nothing new to mankind.  It's always existed and it always will. 

People ask me, "Then why all of the natural disasters now?"  My answer is simple....We live on an old, dying, wearing out planet!  A few years ago, Corinne and I had the privilege to visit a Creation Museum in Texas.  In their exhibits they had a display of what the earth's atmosphere must have been like in Adam's day. It was highly charged with oxygen.  As a result, people, animals and plants lived a long time as they were breathing such pure oxygenated air.  Have you ever wondered why the Old Testament Saints lived so many years?  I'm certain that you realize that we don't breath such pure air these days!  How about Global Warming?  That's not a debate for this blog post, however, the earth is currently getting warmer.  It has before, and there have also been Ice Ages.  The waters of the Gulf of Mexico are currently in the 90's.  This is prime hurricane producing water.  Weather runs in cycles.  Relax.... the earth will one day cool down again, and that will bring with it other problems.  Romans 8:22, "For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time."  So you see, all of God's creation has been and always will be "groaning as in the pains of childbirth," awaiting the fullness of God's plan for mankind...which of course became evident at the cross.

Friends, may I suggest that we all take a deep breath and relax!  Let's focus on the wonderful revelations that God is showing us these days.... revelations of peace, hope and joy; revelations detailing Kingdom life within the fullness of the New Covenant.  Yes, bad things are happening all around us.  However, the Good News is that Christ lives within us and He is leading us forward in the midst of it all!  Today would be a good day to tell someone that God loves them, and then tell them about His plan for their life!  Yep, it would really be a good day to do that!

Grace and peace!


So, Am I Really Saved to do Works?

Today is Labor Day, 2017. To many it is the last celebration of a long-gone summer.  However, it's origin is a yearly celebration of and for all of the millions of people who work for a living here in the United States.  Without the American worker, our nation would be toast!  To each and every one of them, I certainly give you a heart-felt salute!

However, to many Christians the term, "labor" has another connotation.  Years ago as a young Christian I was taught by my pastor, who echoed his teaching from most other preachers, that we as modern day Christians were saved by grace (God's unmerited favor).  In His mercy and grace God saved us through the cross of Christ.  There wasn't a thing that we could do to save ourselves.  Ephesians 2:8 was always quoted, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of of God."  Certainly, this is so true!  However, the preachers of the day, including me, would then add something like this, "Yes, you are saved by God's grace, it's not by your works.  However, now that you are saved by his free gift, you NOW HAVE A LOT OF WORK TO DO!" 

Of course what that work was that we were supposed to do vastly depended upon the preacher's personal beliefs.  No one seemed to have the "work thing" all figured out.  Some would preach, including me, that our works included living a sin free life, making ourselves holy and righteous, praying, fasting, worshiping more, being in church every time the doors were open, faithfully tithing and giving huge offerings TO THE CHURCH, getting along with our brothers and sisters in the church, going out on street evangelism, making certain the building was proper and clean, being a good spouse and parent, and....more than anything...MAKE CERTAIN THAT YOU NEVER CREATE ANY PROBLEMS FOR THE PASTOR!  Whew!  The list probably could actually get much longer!  Talk about work!  To those of us who were in that type of ministry EVERY DAY WAS LABOR DAY....and lots of it!!!

Friends, the above list of works is a product of a mixed, old covenant with new covenant message.  It is NOT the true Gospel of Jesus Christ!  Let's take a moment and look at Paul. (I believe that Paul wrote the book of Hebrews...but it doesn't matter)  I suggest that your fully read Hebrews 4: 1-11.  However, for brevity, let's just check out verses 9-10 (NLT), "So there is a special rest (Greek: Sabbath rest which has nothing to do with a day, rather a way of life!) still waiting for the people of God.  For ALL who have entered into God's rest (by faith in what Christ has already done for them) have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world." Question:  After God created the world, what did He do next?  Answer: He rested! 

Please read and consider this very carefully.....If you are being constantly taught that you have to work harder, do more, obey more, etc., etc., in order to please God then you are not being taught the true Gospel of Jesus Christ!  You are not living in the new covenant.  Again, looking at Paul (or the writer of Hebrews), "So, let us do our best to enter that rest.   But if we disobey God (by not entering His rest), as the people of Israel did, WE WILL FAIL!"  Wow!  This is pretty heavy stuff!  It's kinda like, that if we are continually running around trying to please God we will certainly fail....like putting a curse on ourselves!  Instead, we simply believe that Christ did it all at the cross, "It is finished!" When we believe that, place our faith and trust in His finished works, instead of failure, we will be highly successful!  Just think, my Friend, you are, without doing a thing other than believing that you are....righteous and holy!  God made you that way at the cross!  That is the Good News, the true Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Happy Labor Day!

Grace and peace!

 

 


But Larry, Peter Said.....

For the past several months I've been posting on Facebook what I call, "Grace Nugget of the Day."  This is a little blurb about new covenant grace life.  I usually do not post a Scripture reference as I wish people to dig that out for themselves.  However, I could as everything I post is very Scriptural.  I guess most people don't look for the Scripture and some totally ignore any Scripture and just argue with me.  However, that's fine!

The past several days I've posted about the importance of Paul to the Early Church, actually implying just how important he was to not only past history, but to us as well as we continue to walk out this current new covenant life.  Jesus used Paul nightly to form the "New Way" of the new covenant.  Matter of fact in 2 Corinthians chapter 3, Paul states that "The old way brought death; the new way brings life."  That's pretty powerful insight!

When I stated on Facebook that Paul brought the revelations of new covenant grace to the Church not Peter, James and John some argued.  However, some asked some good questions.  The best question was simply, "What difference does it make?"  Friends, this simple fact is very essential in understanding the New Testament and it's teachings on new covenant grace.  For example, when I wrote about me not teaching people to repent I received a lot of flack!  Maybe, right now, your eyebrows are raised too.  Firstly, many do not know what the word, "repent" really means.  In its context and in its Greek meaning it has nothing to do with sin.  Rather, it simply means to change your mind about God.  In other words....you do not believe in God's love for you.  I tell you to "repent." What I'm really saying...."Hey Dude...God loves you so very much. He's done so much for you and even if you never believe in Him his mind and heart is still set on you.  So REPENT!  That's right...change your mind about what you think about God!  Pretty simple isn't it?  Yet, many just relate this to sin and leave it there.  This is NOT the new covenant that Paul taught the Church!

Therefore, when we get onto threads like this, the words of Peter come up in Acts 2:38, "Each of you must REPENT of your sins and turn to God," So here is Peter, on the day of Pentecost, just 50 days after the Resurrection of the Lord telling people to repent of their sins.  So, it's completely understandable about why people would ask me, "But Larry, Peter said...to repent of their sins!! What about that?" 

This subject is way too deep to fully explore in this blog.  I'm thinking about a future book, called "The Great Sin Conspiracy" where I can dig much deeper into the subject.  However, the key here is that Peter, at this time, didn't know and understand the new covenant.  None of the early Fathers did, including James and John.  It was all so new!  They were actually leading the Early Church of the day into just another extension of Judaism even leaving behind the Gentiles.  A short time later, Paul, after he was raising havoc on the Church had his Damascus Road experience.  He "repented;" changed his mind about Jesus and went to the Brothers telling them about what happened.  He even began to preach about Jesus.  The Brothers pretty much rejected Paul at this time, actually not trusting this guy who just a short time earlier was persecuting the Church.  I'm certain they thought, "SURE you're a Christian???" 

Shortly after this Paul left Jerusalem and hid out in the Arabian desert for 3 years.  There he met with Jesus.  The Lord converted this Pharisee of the Pharisees and forever changed his life.  Paul was downloaded the fullness of the new covenant with the instructions of bringing it to the Church.  He soon went back to Jerusalem and there told the Brothers about all that had happened.  Thankfully, they accepted Paul and his new-fangled teaching! Friends, Paul brought total chaos to the Church of the day! Humm.. I'm thinking that he still does!

I'll end this all here, but when people tell or ask me about Peter teaching repentance from sin in Acts chapter 2, my answer is pretty simple....PETER DIDN'T KNOW WHAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT!  He had not been exposed to the revelations of the new covenant yet.  That didn't come until much later when Paul came back to town!

Now, I'm certain some religious folks will not like what I've just written here.  However, no matter...it's true.  And unless they understand this truth, they, like Peter of the day before Paul's teaching the new covenant, will be mixing the message of grace with law.   Friends...that dog don't hunt!

Grace and peace!


Leave Joel Alone, But......

I am not really a fan of Joel Osteen. I've never been to one of his services, I've never read one of his books, I've probably watched only 2-3 of his TV programs during my lifetime. It's possible that I don't agree with everything he teaches, but I'll never know as I don't really know what he teaches.  Yet, taking all of this into consideration, I totally disagree with all of the negative press that this guy has come under during this terrible storm devastation in Houston. I find the treatment of Brother Joel reprehensible!

Here is my suggestion for those who constantly oppose Osteen .....LEAVE JOEL ALONE, BUT....But, examine yourself and remove the beam from your own eye! 

I'm suggesting that those who would attack another Believer so violently, especially during the time of such a national disaster as we have witnessed this week, are actually pretty sick puppies!  As I stated above, I'm not a fan of Osteen, but I've heard that very positive things have come from his church and ministry.  Those who attend his church and follow his ministry love him.  Of course, the critics state that he preaches a "feel good Gospel."  Well, so do I!  And....I'll never stop doing that!  What's the alternative...that God wants us to feel bad?  Or, in light of Osteen's critics decrying his "prosperity message," just maybe God wants us all broke!  Of course his critics also scream that he only teaches God's love.  Again, so do I!  Is God the God of hate?  Come on....give me a break!

Here is my suggestion to all of Joel Osteen's critics...."And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own?  How can you think of saying to your friend, 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye?  Hypocrite!  First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye." (Matthew 7:3-5 NLT)

Just saying......

Grace and peace!