“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and you be caught by surprise like a trap. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Excerpts of Principles Spoken by Christ, from Luke 21:34-36 NASB)
I am no prophet… moreover, some of my dearest CHRISTian brothers and sisters would struggle or even oppose my suggestion that I have a “Word from the Lord” regarding the new year: 2015. Others of you would think nothing of that phrase or suggestion, and eagerly read on to see what I sense the Spirit is speaking. For those who might struggle in any regard with this, let me assure you that I am not “making prophetic predictions” nor am I in some way attempting to “add to the fullness of the revelation our Lord” given us in the Scriptures. Let simply say, I am prompted to encourage the Body of Christ with the following thoughts and words for the coming year.
First, there are multiple references throughout scripture to the principles that direct the “Ecclesia” (the called out ones of God) to be “vigilant”, “alert”, “sober-minded”, “on their guard”, “prepared”, “diligent” and the like. It is with these general Scriptural Truths in mind, that I share the following thoughts for 2015.
Let me say as well, as my predominate awareness and experience is with the “church in the west” (or Christendom in America), that this is the primary audience that I have in my heart, as I write this. Let me clarify regarding this phrase: “Christiandom in America” – I am including here a group of individuals that range from those who would check “Christian” as the answer to the question “What is your religious affiliation?” – to those who would most assuredly, but humbly, say of themselves, “I have experienced a life altering encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ and have been redeemed, regenerated and restored to relationship with my Heavenly Father” – and everyone in between. Within this group, I believe, is found the True Church of Jesus Christ… the Ecclesia, as He called it – His called out and chosen ones – the “Sons of the Kingdom.”
In The Year Of Our Lord, 2015. It takes little effort – whether on Cable News Networks, or Internet News Feeds, or Cell Phone Breaking News Alerts – to witness that our entire planet is experiencing dramatic changes – as the pains of Child-birth. In some ways, we have never seen greater days! In other ways, there is so much hurt, pain, loss and devastation, that it seems we are in humanities worst condition in modern history.
Around the globe, CHRISTians are being martyred at an alarming rate. (The Center for the Studies of Global Christianity in the United States reports: “About 100,000 Christians die every year because of their religious beliefs.”) Persecution of CHRISTians around the world is alarming, and become far more blatant and commonplace. (Voice of the Martyrs reports that “The Christian Faith is illegal in 53 countries around the world”.) And here in the west, particularly America, we are quickly losing any hope of leaning on our “constitutional rights of religious freedom” that Our Lord has allowed to protect us for the better part of 225 years. There is no rational denial that we are seeking an increased rapid decay in Judeo-Christian morals – both globally and domestically – and we are fast approaching a day when “things will be different” than we have ever known in our lifetime, even here in the west. The assault on “Christian Religious Freedom” in America is rapidly on the increase – both from freedom to practice our faith, and freedom to speaking publicly (or privately for that matter) regarding our convictions of faith and belief.
Deceptive doctrines taught by false teachers is becoming rampant – and clearly taking on more of a “perversion of truth” than an the outright cultic foolishness of years gone by. Truth mixed with lies, and palatable intrigue, lead the list of deceptions – while taking Truths foundational to the Christian Faith and perverting them, as to both lead astray, and mock the very essence of their principle counsel.
Say what you will, but there is already a “great falling away” that is taking place in our midst, as the faith of many is being shipwrecked & derailed, with these perverted and deceptive doctrines; accompanying that, is a gospel message that is weak, fruitless and ultimately, inadequate to save.
“You know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation [trial, testing], for when he has been proved, he will receive the Crown of Life that he promised to those who love Him. (James 1:3, 4, 12 NASB)
It is my personal conviction that this coming year will be a time of great trial and testing for Christendom in America. The time is near that we will begin to see greater persecution of those “true to their CHRISTian faith”, here in these very United States. To the Saints among us, I plead that we get established in our faith now. Settle your matters and affairs of assurance, trust and allegiance – for when then testing comes, it will be too late. If you are not grounded now in your faith in Christ – when hard times come, you will certainly sell your soul for a loaf of bread, or a bag of rice.
Be prepared. Be Alert. Be vigilant. Take time in prayer now to insure that you have oil in your lamps, and plenty of “oil to spare”. There will come a time when it will be too late to acquire more. I am NOT talking of stockpiling in the natural – but, rather, stockpiling in the Spiritual. There are 4 places the Holy Spirit will cause this to happen:
- in Scripture,
- in prayer,
- in true worship, and
- in godly, committed, accountable relationships with other faith-filled Saints.
We have, for the most part, experienced years of plenty, years of ease and years of comfort. If we are not solid in our faith – rooted and grounded in who Christ is, in whom we trust, and where we are placing our allegiance – then there is little chance that we will get solid when the times of trial and testing come. For it is in trial and testing that our faith is proven – it is in Christ, thought the Holy Spirit in us – in Scripture, Prayer, Worship & Fellowship – that our faith is built and established!
Won’t you join me now in falling before our Lord & King and crying out to Him to generously & lovingly, cause our individual faith to be rooted & grounded, solidly, in Christ as the one whom each of us trusts with all our heart, and pledge our sole allegiance to? And should storms of trial and test indeed come our way in the west in this year, 2015 – we who are the Ecclesia of Christ, indeed stand firm and honor our Lord & King!
If I am mistaken – you will have lost nothing, and still gained everything!
May it be so, Maranatha, Lord Jesus!
“She considers herself a Christian, but…” This line from a recent Atlanta news station article brings to light the antithesis of one of the greatest problems with modern-day, western, CHRISTianity. Whenever you find it necessary to follow-up your statement declaring your Christian “affiliation” with the word “but”, I can assure you that you are NOT of the CHRISTian “faith”, rather you are only loosely associating yourself with the christian “religion”. And, a loose association is guaranteed to result in one of 2 responses from the Lord of CHRISTianity:
1) His words: “I never knew you” (Matt 7:23); or
2) You will be vomit from His mouth (Rev 3:16)
It is unfortunate indeed that we humans, particularly in the west, have both misused and abused the term: CHRISTian. And what we are to do about that varies in speculation – but all who are concerned and aware, agree, something must be done.
There is little that can be done about those who insist & persist in associating themselves with a the watered-down, man-made, powerless religion of “christian” as nothing more than an answer to a question on a survey “What is your religious affiliation?” They will always have “buts” to include in their religious claims, as they associate themselves only with the kindness and love for mankind that CHRISTianity teaches, but refuse to get to know any more about the other substantial aspects of the foundational Truths of CHRISTianity. These folk are not a real threat to true CHRISTianity, as they are simply misusing the term – and most folks will see that for what it is: “an answer on a survey”.
But, beyond that, what about those who are abusing the term – living a much closer association – likely deceived into believing that there is indeed substance to this self-affixed “Christian” label they wear? A brief word study will reveal that nowhere in Scripture (something that “misusers” know little about; and something abusers have only intellectual knowledge of) will you find a “CHRISTian” calling or labeling themselves, a “CHRISTian! No, in fact the very term is only in Scripture 3 times:
Acts 11:26 – “The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” In this passage the simple point that must be noted, is that the disciples DID NOT call themselves “CHRISTian”, but rather THOSE WATCHING THEIR LIFE called them CHRISTian. Critical distinction for those who have ears to hear.
Acts 26:28 – “Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” Here, Agrippa, not a disciple, nor follower of Christ, MAKES REFERENCE to others as CHRISTian.
Lastly, 1 Peter 4:16 – “if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, instead, glorify God on this behalf..” Here the Apostle Peter lays out for us the deep Truth that the misusers and abusers don’t want to talk about – if, by your CHRISTIAN LIFESTYLE, you SUFFER – then Praise God that others are mistreating you because THEY have LABELED you as a CHRISTian!
Had a survey been offered to the early Church regarding their religious affiliation, they would have likely been given the choices to answer: “Disciple of Christ” – “Follower of The Way” – “Believer in Messiah” – or possibly – in the Jewish arena that they were in: “Heretic”. If these were our choices today – I am afraid most would check “other” or “none of the above.” Or… write in “Christian” (as if it is somehow different from the choices provided) – How sad is that?
So, what do we do? I propose that there are 4 approaches to our response to the misuse and abuse of the term “CHRISTian”:
1) Disregard it all together. Maybe it’s not a problem. Maybe I am overreacting. Maybe we need to just leave it alone. In the end we know that Matthew 13 teaches us in several different ways that the untrue among us will be separated from the true believers in the end.
2) Attempt to redeem it from our society. Maybe we should actively speak out about the misuse and abuse of the term CHRISTian (as I am doing in some ways herein), in an attempt to raise awareness to this problem. Or maybe, our redemption of the term should simply look like #4 below.
3) Call ourselves something else. In some ways this is a pretty radical approach – but John 6 teaches us (as does much else in Scripture) that those who the Father seeks – those that are His own – are Disciples who are True Believers. Not just fans. Not just followers. Not even merely disciples – nor just believers (there is another abused term) – but Disciples of Jesus, who Believe with a belief that has changed everything! Are you…. Am I… A “Believing Disciple of Jesus”?
4) Leave it as it was in the Bible. True Believers will not need to “call” or “label” themselves anything. If we are surrendering to the Life Of CHRIST in us – they will see it – they will know it – and THEY will “call us CHRISTian”!
Personally, I lean towards a whole lot of #4, with an emphasis on the principle truths of #3. May I live my life so surrendered to the Life of Christ – that I will be a Believing Disciple, active in both my belief and my discipleship – that those who watch my life, might say of me: “Now that, is a true CHRISTian” (Matt 5:16)
“Recap” of Inspirational Thoughts & Quotes from 2013 From My Facebook
Part 2 – April-June
I might have said a few things that I learned of the Lord in 2013 that will be impactful for the Kingdom. I have shared some of them here. Also, I have listed numerous quotes that impacted me, from local pastors to great Saints of old, including Tim Conway, Spurgeon, Chambers, Corrie Ten Boom, Pastor Jeremiah Stingl, Pastor Tom Myers, Pastor Don Morrison, Pasture Scott Mitchell, Pastor Alan Trippe, Major Ian Thomas, CS Lewis, Sparks, Phil Powell & many others. I know with confidence, these Saints, and I, would all say, in sincerity, that if any of these words are impactful, it is because they are not our own, but the Holy Spirit’s. I pray you find blessing herein. ~ Gary
Since we have such great a salvation, how shall we live? Not as unrighteous, but as righteous! Indeed, to the women caught in adultery, Christ simply said: “Go and sin no more.” What? This is impossible. Sinners sin! Thank God that in Christ we have not only been redeemed from our past sin & justified before Him – no longer a sinner, but a saint! We now can come before Him, a new creature in Christ through baptism, regeneration, conversion & repentance, and be filled with Himself in the form of His Holy Spirit, and thus we can be empowered to walk in love, holiness & obedience, by the power of this New Life Source within! Glory to our God who not only redeems & justifies, but also sanctifies & glorifies!!! To Him be all Glory; may His Holy name be redeemed; and His Kingdom advanced! – Gary Kienel
“There is only one valid reason to invite someone to come to The Lord Jesus. It is not for forgiveness. It is not that they might go to heaven. It is for The Lord Jesus Himself. That He Himself might step into humanity; to come and live inside of them that they might become the temple of the living God on earth; a living member of His corporate body on earth.”
– Major Ian Thomas
The Lord Jesus redeems a person, justifies a person & regenerates a person, that He, Jesus, might inhabit that person, that He might sanctify that person, thereby bearing fruit for His glory and purposes alone. The rest – and there is SO MUCH MORE – is all just “icing on the cake”! – Gary Kienel
Christian, if the “grace” that you confess saved you, & set you free from the bondage of sin & sins – you now believe to be the same “grace” that allows you to participate again in these same sins that you were set free from – you are deceived. Period. Wake up from your slumber. Repent! That is NOT how the Grace of God works, nor is that the freedom that He gives! Come out from among them and be (remain) separate, says The Lord. Return to the Grace that you once knew and be truly free – not free TO sin, but free FROM sin! – Gary Kienel
By they way, Jesus isn’t looking for you to make “some room” for Him in your heart…. He wants the “whole thing”! – Gary Kienel
“We may be content to remain what we call ‘ordinary people’, but He is determined to carry out a quite different plan.”
God will not settle for us just making “some room” for Him in our heart – He wants total control of our WHOLE heart. I challenge you, as I did myself – before you “like” this statement – take inventory of your heart; confess and repeat of the other junk in there that is NOT Him, and cry out in passion for the Grace to “surrender all”. For “our God is a jealous God” (Ex 20:5) – Gary Kienel
“The only relationship God is interested in is one that is exclusive & completely committed. He is not interested in an ‘open relationship’ with you. He won’t consider sharing space on the loveseat of your heart. His throne has only one seat.”
~ Kyle Idleman, Gods At War
“Indeed My God, In my wildest imaginations, I have no idea how supremely supernaturally other-than, You really are! And that makes me fearfully passionately excited!” – Gary Kienel
“There has been much lost, very much lost, of the true nature and essence of Christianity, and there has been much distortion, resulting in confusion….the need of our time is a re-presentation and understanding of what it is we have come into when we come into Christ.”
– T. Austin Sparks (approx. 1950)
“These things I pray, all the days of my life: God be glorified, in all things, above all things – in me & through me; grace me to maintain a life of accountability; keep my heart soft towards Your Spirit; & keep me from deception.” – Gary Kienel
Oh Lord, may I not stop short of what you require of me! May I not just come to You; may I not just hear Your Words; may I not just call You Lord; but may I also act upon Your Words by doing what You say! (Luke 6:46-49) – Gary Kienel
CHRISTIAN: Has “The Treasure” you have found transformed your outlook? Restructured your priorities? Altered your goals? Changed your values? Revolutionized your life? If not, then maybe you have yet to discover that The Treasure is Jesus Himself. For once we find The True Treasure, which is far more than “heaven” – we bankrupt our bank account, and sell ALL, to possess Him! (Matthew 13:44) – John Piper/Gary Kienel
“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
– C.S. Lewis
No matter how hard; no matter how unfathomable; no matter how confusing… We must trust in God’s sovereignty; His goodness; His trustworthiness; His love! God IS good & He can be trusted – it is not dependent upon my ability to understand. His goodness and His trustworthiness are dependent upon Him, and Him alone! I love you Lord, and I trust You! – Gary Kienel
“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” … Could it be that “that which was lost” is referring to: the Kingdom of God, in the hearts of men? – Gary Kienel
“When you come to God with intensity of need – come with boldness, persistence, shamelessness, & be specific” (Luke11:5-8)
– Pastor Don Morrison
“The intensity of the needs, dictates the intensity with which we ask.” (Matt7:7)
– Pastor Don Morrison
“One always wants to reign over one’s own life. The worst possible result for the dog chasing a car is that he should catch it.”
– Phil Powell
Reviewing the “pre-Christian” lyrics of songwriters that have come to Christ is amazingly insightful to their journey.
Consider Kerry Livgren and some Kansas hits such as: The Wall, Carry On My Wayward Song & Dust In The Wind.
Of recent discovery was the ole song “Poison” from Alice Cooper; though written about a women (sexually) – take away that visual and just see the song about “sin” – very powerful (As is Alice’s “Post-Christian” music!):
“Your cruel device,
Your blood like ice.
One look could kill,
My pain, your thrill.
“I wanna love you, but I better not touch (don’t touch)
I wanna hold you, but my senses tell me to stop
I wanna kiss you, but I want it too much (too much)
I wanna taste you, but your lips are venomous poison
“You’re poison runnin’ through my veins
You’re poison, I don’t wanna break these chains.”
~ Gary Kienel
[CHRISTIAN]: “You and I are only accomplishing our mission on earth when others around us are becoming compellingly aware of God’s character.”
– Major Ian Thomas
Church, we are to be the visible image of the invisible God.
“God did not send his Son into this world incarnate to die upon a cross & shed his precious blood, Rise from the dead, and ascend into heaven, so that guilty sinners could simply get out of hell and into heaven. It’s gloriously true, but it’s entirely incidental. The glorious gospel isn’t about man out of hell and into heaven, it’s about getting God out of heaven and into man!”
– Major Ian Thomas
A WARNING, CHRISTIAN: Be of sober spirit! Be on the alert! We are in a war. Our adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Guard your heart, it is the wellspring of life. If we do not do well, sin is crouching at our door; and its desire is to have us; but we must master it. The stakes couldn’t be higher. Listen to me please, I beg you!!! We are being lulled into a sense of permissiveness & compromise that desires to lead us away from the Truth. Do not listen to the lies. Do not flirt with evil. Do not play with sin. Do not give way to the lust of the flesh. Do not believe the lie that a little bit is okay. First a little sleep; then a little slumber; a little folding of the hands to rest, then your poverty will come as a robber and your need like an armed man. For a little yeast works its way through the whole loaf. Flee! Run! Let him who has ears to hear, hear… and LIVE! (1 Peter 5:8, Prov 4:23, Gen 4:7, Prov 24:33, 34, 2 Tim 2:22, Gal 5:9) – Gary Kienel
Wake up American Christian! The problem in NOT in the White House or in Washington; nor is the problem with policies or legislation (unless your kingdom & citizenship is of this world). The problem is within those who call themselves by His Name (Christian: citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven), who are not living lives of humility, repentance, holiness, faith & grace! If we would spend less time pointing fingers & focusing our attention on America, Obama, Congress, the economy and such; and more time searching our own lives, weeding out the evil & focusing on faith inspired, and grace empowered humility, repentance & holiness, theses problems would no longer be of concern to us. By and large, Christian, we are being distracted on one hand, and lulled to sleep on the other. Let him who has ears to hear, hear. – Gary Kienel
“As aliens in this world, we should find ourselves loving the world less & less, and loving the things of heaven more & more!”
– Pastor Tom Myers
“We pray the Holy Spirit will come. But why do we want him to come? So that our numbers will grow? So that our children will not go to the devil? We need to want him to come because we are jealous for the Glory of God!”
– Leonard Ravenhill
“Above all else, Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life!”
How much clearer can The Spirit of the Lord be? From Genesis to Revelation, there may not be a more clear, direct, passionate appeal of life-threatening desperation from the Lord to us, as is this.
Through my life, but with frightening increase in occurrence in recent years & months, I have watched deception enter into the hearts of those who I have walked with, worshiped with, served with and communed with; I have repeatedly seen it begin with the simple justification of some small choice to entertain what seems an innocent song, place, action or thought. GUARD YOUR HEART! A simple choice – I can handle this… GUARD YOUR HEART! Oh, it’s just a little ______ – GUARD YOUR HEART! Justification of that which you once firmly knew to be wrong – GUARD YOUR HEART!!
Casting Crowns in their song “Slow Fade” remind us of the children’s bible song that says: “Be careful little eyes what you see” – oh so true – GUARD YOUR HEART! Their lyrics go on to say:
“It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It’s a slow fade, it’s a slow fade”
GUARD YOUR HEART Saint! The enemy is in this for keeps. Your enemy the devil, is prowling around and HE WANTS TO DEVOUR YOU – GUARD YOUR HEART!
It is as if our Lord is begging you, and I likewise say to myself, and I beg of you: ABOVE ALL ELSE, GUARD YOUR HEART. Don’t be a casualty of this great battle for your soul to the it’s enemy – but guard your heart and endure to the end that your soul will remain in the hands of The Lover of Your Soul.
If your mental response to this is that I am being extreme or overreacting… then to you I especially warn you:
“Be careful little eyes what you see
It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it’s the little feet behind you that are sure to follow
Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray”
And in closing, if you have read this with arrogant confidence that this is not you, or can’t happen to you, then I beg you to join me at the foot of Our Lord’s Cross, and cry out for “Grace to endure; to stand firm; to persevere; to be kept from deception; and wisdom to GUARD OUR HEART!”
Let him who has ears, hear. Amen.
– Gary Kienel
Sadly, this has arrived, in full force. The tragedy is not just the reality of this lie being propagated & embraced as truth in our midst today, but the blindness of the deceit that accompanies it! Oh God, keep us alert, sober, awake and in guard of our hearts; and Father, if there is a word we can speak to those who are blinded by this lie, may we hear with clarity, and speak with love!
“There is a coming to the Church a doctrine called ‘cheap grace’ which will turn the grace of God into lasciviousness, which will allow the children of God to live fleshly, sinful lives, and still have the assurance in their heart that they are going to heaven” – Dietrich Bonhoffer, 1932.
– Gary Kienel
I recently shared this thought-provoking question with my disciples and some close friends. I share it with you now for your consideration:
Jesus said to the rich young ruler that:
1) his confession that Jesus was God,
2) his belief that Jesus was the savior, &
3) his having lived a VERY holy life
were NOT ADEQUATE to gain him eternal life.
Jesus said to gain eternal life, he must:
1) sell all,
2) give it to the poor, &
3) follow Jesus.
What does selling all, giving it away & following Jesus look like in your life? It’s a critically important question. Without these entire last 3 things active in our life, we CANNOT gain eternal life! – Gary Kienel