“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 and Quotes from 2013 From My Facebook
Part 3 – July-September
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
CHRISTIAN: We have reached an all time low when we call areas of sin in our life, the fulfillment of God’s promise to us!! Wake up from your slumber, Follower of Christ – our Lord doesn’t bless us with sin!! Abstain from wickedness; run from the appearance of evil; do not get friendly with the world, nor the things of it! Make your life-source the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Alternately, if you’re are finding the desires of your flesh gratified (and calling it blessing or promises fulfilled) then you are not living by the Spirit. God says “Whoa to Us!” Isaiah 5:20; James 4:4; Gal 5:16 – Gary Kienel
Inspired by my “Band of Brothers” (You know who you are), with specific content from Scott Mitchell & Phil Powell. On this day, I do thank God for being born in America, but not like many might be thankful – nonetheless, we have been afforded much because of the sacrifice of many of America’s Founding Fathers, likewise, I have been afforded even more, by the Founding Fathers of Israel & Christianity – may I live a life of dependence upon Christ alone, that is worthy of the foundation they have laid!
“My In-Dependence Day”
Because the Lord God has made me independent from the tyranny of self-rule
& free to be subject to His benevolent sovereignty;
I therefore celebrate this day, and all days, as “Dependence Day”;
I am totally & joyfully dependent upon my King Jesus.
His Kingdom is a nation of the King, by the King and for the king,
and it will endure without end.
May God bless and raise up His Church,
as we kneel before Him in repentance & submission.
– Gary Kienel
Most will reject this statement, others it may anger, however, to those who have ears to hear: “it’s not about America”. It’s about the Church. We are, by and large, so distracted by prayers for “America” that we can’t see clearly to pray for ourselves. A far, far greater concern than that of the condition of the physical nation, must be our concern for a spiritual people, that is “The Church”. She is not well. She must come to repentance. She must get on Her knees in submission; subject to Her King. We are the ones we need to be praying for; we are the ones who need to come to repentance.
Our prayers for America are not answered because we are praying amiss, with wrong motives! It’s not about our 401-K, our “well-being”, our national security or even our liberties.
The statistics are staggering, if we look with eyes to see: It is our mistresses, girlfriends & wives who are getting abortions. It is our eyes that frequent pornography. It is our marriages ending in divorce, hatred & bitterness – all the while calling it freedom. It is us, living in sin, claiming grace. It is our perverted & permissive compromise of the very Word that has brought us salvation, that causes us to embrace sins, debauchery, whoredom and abominations. IT IS US, CHURCH, WHO NEEDS PRAYER LIKE NEVER BEFORE.
Once the church is who she is called to be, those around her will be affected by God as He sees fit, even America. I implore you Saints, don’t be distracted by prayers for America, but be focused on prayers for the Church! She is the only hope for the World. For She is the visible image, of the invisible Sovereign Lord God, to the world!
Oh God, have mercy on me… – Gary Kienel
The mandate of Biblical Discipleship as modeled by Jesus, requires 4 things of the discipler (mentor) and the disciple (apprentice):
3) Intensiveness &
We are not only to teach with words (which we MUST do), but we also must MODEL it with our daily lives! How else will we see fans of Jesus, become followers of Jesus? How else will followers of Jesus, become disciples of Jesus? How else will disciples of Jesus, become believers IN Jesus? How else will those believers in Jesus be seen by the watching world and called, with complement & criticism: CHRISTIANS?
The world is watching… let’s make disciples!! – Gary Kienel
WARRIORS OF THE MOST-HIGH LORD GOD: We are in a war. There are those among us with bull’s-eyes on their backs. You know who you are. Tragically, we are witnessing an increase of causalities to our left and right – casualties like we would have NEVER imagined. Stand firm. Remain vigilant! Be on you guard. Some are being wounded in such a way that they are no longer able to fight. Others are being eliminated entirely from the battle. Sexual compromise, doctrinal lies & permissiveness abound. We are loosing our comrades to the desires of the flesh, the lure of the world & the attacks of the enemy, like never before. Too much alarm cannot be sounded! This warning is not for someone else…. IT IS FOR YOU! Remain diligent to the camaraderie of your fellow soldiers; hold steady & firm to the instructions of the warriors that have gone before us; stay in constant two-way communication with The Commander-and-Chief; remember often, the Ultimate Price that has been paid to insure the Victory on our behalf. – Gary Kienel
“When we hear God say, ‘You will have no other gods before me,’ we think of it as a hierarchy; God is always in first place. But there are no places. God isn’t interested in competing against others or being first among many. God will not be part of any hierarchy. He wasn’t saying ‘before me’ as in ‘ahead of me.’ A better understanding of the Hebrew word translated ‘before me’ is ‘in my presence.’”
– Kyle Idelman (Gods At War)
Recently a sister in the Lord posted a comment about how it seems that it has recently become the “cool thing” for Christians to cuss. Another sister in the Lord followed up with a comment that took this thought further and included references to drinking, promiscuity, tattooing and more. I had the following thoughts on such interesting statements as these:
The points that these sisters have made are thoroughly Scripturally solid – even if many of you take personal offense at the tattooing inclusion – bear with me, while I say this another way, quoting those who are far more respected than I.
The Apostle Paul, who was quoting both the prophets Isaiah & Ezekiel, when speaking to the People of God, told us that “we are to come out from among ‘the people of the world’ and be different & be separate”. It is clear, to anyone who is willing to be honest with themselves, that, as this same Paul warned his son in the faith, Timothy, the pastor at the church in Ephesus: “in the latter days, people will turn away from the faith, and go astray, and abandon holiness & sound doctrine, and do as they please” – we see this in all manner of worldliness and ‘darkness’ currently appearing in the lives of those who claim to be in the “Light” (I am not saying live in “perfection”; I am saying that for a true Christian to “justify” or “excuse” sin in their life is either deception or rebellion).
There was a time, when rightly so, many of the things that “Christians” viewed as “un-Christian”, were taboo; most of these things – from foul language to drunkenness to fornication, and yes, maybe even tattoos and immodest attire – are now being embraced, justified, excused, and in some cases even promoted from pulpit, as “acceptable” among god’s holy people. God Himself spoke to Moses and said to God’s people: “set yourself apart and be holy, as I am Holy.”
And one more sobering quote from the Apostle James, speaking to those who would identify themselves as Christians: “You unfaithful people. Don’t you know that embracing things of this fallen world is hostility towards the God whom you say you love? Living in this way makes you an enemy of God!” Yes the bar for living as Children of God, that is, Children of Light (ie: “Christian”) is very high, but it was The Lord God Himself who set the bar so high (and has graciously granted us the power of the inhabiting Holy Spirit to walk in this Holiness).
Do not be misled thinking I am suggesting that we, as God’s Holy Children do no fail, sin and fall short of the goal; for I am not speaking of those who “struggle” to reach the bar that God has set, but rather, I am writing this to those who “deliberately choose” to live below it, and argue that it is acceptable by God to live there! – Gary Kienel
“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away your ticket and jump off – you sit still and trust the engineer.”
– Corrie Ten Boom
“C S Lewis said: “The real problem is not why some pious, humble, believing people suffer, but why some do not.”
“After all, the Word of God says: “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12)
“Understanding that suffering and persecution come in a wide variety of appearances; the question begs to be asked: If you & I, individually, are not suffering persecution, in some manner or another, for the sake of Christ & His Kingdom, then why not? Could it be a lack of desire for godliness?!? #LookingInTheMirror” – Gary Kienel
“The Grace of God will never give you “permission” to return to a place where that same Grace of God has given you “remission” from!” ` Gary Kienel
Saint of God, are you intimately experiencing the apparent injustice of the seeming success and advancement of the heathen in your life? Read Psalm 37 slowly & thoroughly. It is a game changer!
“Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass & fade like the green herb. Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light & your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. But the humble will inherit the land & will delight themselves in abundant prosperity. The wicked plots against the righteous & gnashes at him with his teeth. The Lord laughs at him, For He sees his day is coming. The wicked have drawn the sword and bent their bow to cast down the afflicted and the needy, To slay those who are upright in conduct. Their sword will enter their own heart, And their bows will be broken. Better is the little of the righteous than the abundance of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked will be broken, But the Lord sustains the righteous. The Lord knows the days of the blameless, And their inheritance will be forever. They will not be ashamed in the time of evil, And in the days of famine they will have abundance. But the wicked will perish; And the enemies of the Lord will be like the glory of the pastures, They vanish—like smoke they vanish away. The wicked borrows and does not pay back, But the righteous is gracious and gives. For those blessed by Him will inherit the land, But those cursed by Him will be cut off. The steps of a man are established by the Lord, And He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand. I have been young and now I am old, Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread. All day long he is gracious and lends, And his descendants are a blessing. Depart from evil and do good, So you will abide forever. For the Lord loves justice & does not forsake His godly ones; They are preserved forever, but the descendants of the wicked will be cut off. The righteous will inherit the land & dwell in it forever. The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, And his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart; His steps do not slip. The wicked spies upon the righteous & seeks to kill him. The Lord will not leave him in his hand or let him be condemned when he is judged. Wait for the Lord and keep His way, And He will exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you will see it. I have seen a wicked, violent man spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil. Then he passed away, and lo, he was no more; I sought for him, but he could not be found. Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright; For the man of peace will have a posterity. But transgressors will be altogether destroyed; the posterity of the wicked will be cut off. But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, Because they take refuge in Him.”
– Gary Kienel
Spoken by God through the prophet Isaiah nearly 3,000 years ago, who could have imagined the disgusting degree to which this perversion of Truth would become standard fare among those who claim to be “saved” – “born again” – “walking in the light”?!?
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”
Wake up “Christian” – evil is evil! We are called to uphold holiness; calling anything less than holiness “good” brings upon us the “woes” of God Almighty, and brings reproach upon God’s name! Remember, it’s not just with words that we call evil good and good evil, it is even more so with our actions, behaviors and the things we embrace. Let him who has ears to hear, hear, & be awakened to Truth. (Isaiah 5:20)
– Gary Kienel
“Jesus promised His disciples three things: that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and constantly in trouble.”
– G.K. Chesterton
Oh that we mere humans would quit trying to define God by our understanding of things. Isaiah 55:8-9 is foundational for all faith in God: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
The greatest hindrance to our trusting & believing in God is our foolish insistence that we understand Him, and He measure up to our standards… that is, “our ways, and our thoughts”. The greatest step that you can take towards faith in God is to accept that His ways, and His thoughts are so far above ours, that we cannot understand them – but we can “accept them” without understanding them.
Move past your doubts, your fears, your thoughts & your ways – believe!
– Gary Kienel
When Jesus said, “repent” for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand, he spoke the word “repent” – it was recorded in Greek as “metanoia” which means: “To change your mind”. Change our mind from what? Wrong thinking? Thinking about what?
When Jesus spoke the word “Kingdom”, it was recorded in Greek using the word “basileia” which means: “the right or authority to rule & reign”. Rule & reign over what? My life?
Consider for a moment, that what Jesus was saying was: “Change your mind, from your own rule & reign over your life, to the rule & reign of God over your life.”
What must I do to be saved? It all starts when you “Repent” – Kinda changes everything, huh?
– Gary Kienel
“Yes, God is Love; but He is also the King. His Kingdom is a kingdom of love, but it is, nonetheless a Kingdom. To remove His Kingdom from His Love, creates a god in our own image, perverting Him into a Santa Claus or fairy godmother. To remove His Love from His Kingdom creates a cruel taskmaster, yielding slaves that can never achieve the requirements of the master. Oh but the good news is the King Loves! But before you “amen” this with your “like button”, remember, the only response to a loving king, is loving obedience! For these two neither can be separated – obedience without love is fruitless legalism, and love without obedience is self-indulgent permissiveness. God’s perfect way? A wholly compassionate father ruling & reigning over His obedient children who are madly in love with their daddy!” – Gary Kienel
Pity the one who is able to walk lukewarm & casual without obstacle or difficulty. “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son [& daughter] whom he receives” (Heb 12:6) – Gary Kienel
James chapter 1 teaches us that there are 2 responses to every trial:
1) we allow our faith to be tested, demonstrating our trust in God’s rule & reign supreme, and we come forth as Gold, that we might receive the crown of Life, or
2) we allow temptation to stir the lust within us to doubt God’s rule & reign, and trust in our own lordship, which give birth to sin, who’s intent is to bring death.
Today, I choose faith… who’s with me?
(2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 12 Blessed is a man who perseveres (endures) under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.)
– Gary Kienel
“By Grace; Through Faith; [Not BY Works, but FOR Works] have we been saved.” The same Grace that saved us by no effort of our own, is now displayed in us & through us “as a result of” – even the very purpose for – our having been saved. In other words, the purpose for redemption/justification is restoration resulting in sanctification! (Ephesus 2:8-10) Whoa to the one who after partaking in redemption, fails to position himself, through restoration, for sanctification, thereby making a mockery of the very Love that redeemed & justified him. Let him who has ears to hear, hear. – Gary Kienel
SEPTEMBER 13 (3:33am)
To whom it may concern: My heart breaks for those “precious and dearly loved, called out children of the most high God” who have strayed from The Path.
Some have wandered far off and don’t even know it. Others knowingly have set their course (and their hearts) to lands far far away. Still others have stumbled and been knocked off course and are roadside wondering what to do. For many, an ever-so-slight course correction will return you to the straight and narrow.
To some, I whisper: “You know.”
To other I scream: “Wake up!”
Some will not hear either; others will have a sudden enlightenment, and find rescue!
But to all His own, I assure you:
You cannot go too far;
You cannot go too often;
Your failures need not be fatal;
Your shame, which is good and necessary for a season, will not keep you from Him!
For He, our Lord, is a rescuer & a restorer of His own – after all, you know His voice!
He cries out: “It’s never too late! Child come home!” as He leaves the 99 and comes lovingly, with determination, after you, the one.
Whether knowingly one step off the Way in the midst of a solid journey – or deliberately running hard away from the path altogether – you will never outrun Him, nor be out of His reach, or beyond his love.
This promise is for His own, alone!
You are precious.
You are called.
You have been chosen!
You are set apart.
His faithfulness & goodness will sustain you!
He will – in fact He did – rend heaven & hell for you.
Child Come Home!
– Gary Kienel
Saints. Mistakes will happen. Sometimes errors in judgement; sometimes overcome by our “evil desires within”; and sometimes with sincere hearts seeking our Lord’s will. Sometimes it is a mix of two or all three. Whatever the case, we have a few promises from our Lord regarding “mistakes”, and despite the commonality of the first promise, I don’t want to gloss it over: “All things work together for good, for those who love The Lord, and are called according to His purpose.” Additionally, in the other extreme case, we have a similar result, and can say, as Joseph said: “that what [the enemy] intended for evil, God intended for good.”
Now I am not suggesting that because of God’s sovereignty, we can be apathetic or careless in our decision making; but what I am doing is making much of the truth of scripture’s teaching that we (born again saints of God), can rest assured that we have been “given a new heart & a new spirit” and have had “His Spirit placed in us” and we are, therefore a “new creature in Christ!”
So, you find yourself “awakening” from a condition of “oops, what have I done?” Consider your response carefully. If, as I shared above, you are in this place because the “evil desires within your flesh” rose up and you gave into them – then repent and rejoice! Repent not from just the giving in, but also repent from the evil desire within you! Then, rejoice! Rejoice that you were awakened to the mistake! Rejoice that God was not asleep at the wheel when this mistake was made, and that what was intended for evil by forces other than our Lord, were (past tense) intended for good by our Lord; additionally, rejoice that He has promised to work it for good in your life (you chosen lover of God)! Be encouraged to not too quickly blow past or through the repentance phase. You should not die there in your guilt & shame, but neither should you gloss over it as if it matters not that a mistake has been made.
As for errors in judgment. We are in Christ, yes – but, unfortunately we are “under construction” regarding our “mind” being transformed. So there are times we will just plain “get it wrong!” Again, repent & rejoice! Repent for the wrong thought processes that led you to a wrong conclusion & ask God to fix your mind of self, and make it the mind of Christ. Rejoice then, for you were awakened to your mistake & your wrong thinking… You could have stayed in that place & even died there – what joy that we have been graced to be awakened! God has intended & can work this too for good!!
So you say, but Gary, I prayed, I sought The Lord. I even fasted. I sought counsel. I thought my heart was right in the direction I went, but alas, I see now, it was a mistake. Good news! Yep, you got it: repent & rejoice! Repent for missing the mark, even though all indications were a “green light” – ask for wisdom as to where you went wrong; He will show you, for he promises wisdom to those who ask, and He who has called you is faithful! Then, while listening for wisdom, rejoice! Rejoice that your weren’t lost in your mistake and that He awakened you! Rejoice that He promises to work ALL things for good for you because you love Him, and are called by Him!
What I am saying is, no matter the reason you, as a lover of God, called by Him, with a heart for His kingdom, find yourself on the “other-side” of a mistake, you should simply, yet thoroughly, repent; then with excitement and courage, stand up, dust the dirt off of you, and with rejoicing, go again for God!
Mistakes will come, Saint. But for us, it is a matter of “rejoice when you face trials of various types” (and these mistakes are indeed trials of the flesh), for they are granting us the privilege of repentance, and the command to rejoice!
– Gary Kienel
“Christ can never be known without a sense of awe and fear accompanying the knowledge….No one who knows Him intimately can ever be flippant in His presence.”
– A.W. Tozer
“My problem with sin is that I don’t hate it enough!”
– Pastor Tom Myers