“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)
<>< <>< <>< <>< <><
“Sin is not harmful because it is forbidden; it is forbidden because it is harmful!” Thank God that Grace doesn’t just “cover my sin”, but by His Spirit indwelling & inhabitation my life – and by a *grace-driven* surrender & yielding to His Life – Grace empowers me to be RID of sin, to His Glory!!!
\o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/
4 things that we need to have/be to experience “Deeper” in Christ: 1) Humility, 2) Childlike Faith, 3) Determination, & 4) Unashamed. Consider both the woman with the issue of blood, crawling to Christ & Blind Bartimaeus, crying out without regard. (Inspired by Blake & Perri at Everburn 8/10/12)
<>< <>< <>< <>< <><
“Heaven is not a place for people who do not want hell; heaven is a place for people who love God.” ~ Matt Chandler
\o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/
“The characteristic of a man who has come to God is that you cannot get him to take anyone seriously, but God.” ~ Oswald Chambers
<>< <>< <>< <>< <><
The Gospel of The Kingdom is likened unto this: The front walkway, the front steps & the front door are of first-most importance to entering the domain of another. In fact, it could be said that they are the ONLY WAY to lawfully gain entrance. However, the purpose of them, is not themselves alone, but to ALLOW entry to the domain of another, where the Owner of that domain resides. If we only admire, accept, or otherwise embrace the “entry” alone – never utilizing them as a means of entrance – we render them of no effect! So is it with the Death, Burial & Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Let him who has ears to hear, hear. ~ Grrr
“Recap” of Inspirational Thoughts & Quotes from 2013 From My Facebook
Part 4 – October-December
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
QUOTE: “God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself because it is not there. There is no such thing.” – C.S. Lewis
QUOTE: “God has not made this world to be a nest for us, and if we try to make it such for ourselves, he plants thorns in it, so that we may be compelled to mount and find our soul’s true home somewhere else, in a higher and nobler sphere than this poor world can give.” – Charles Spurgeon
QUOTE: “The treasures contained in the most basic truths of the Lord Jesus are enough to last for more lifetimes than you can measure.” – Rick Joyner
QUOTE: “Our greatest problem is that we esteem self more than we esteem God.” – Paul Washer
Oh how I cringe when I hear someone say: “As Christians, we need to remember that we are all sinners.” Seriously?!? Oh Preachers, we need to get our theology right coming from our pulpits!
Yes, Christians “sin”, but we, as a “born again new Creature in Christ”, are no longer “sinners”. We are saints. Watchman Nee said it best in The Normal Christian life: “We are not sinners because we sin – we sin because we are sinners. Likewise, we are not Saints because we do works of righteousness; rather we do works of righteousness because we have been made saints.”
As a Christian, I am a saint – FACT – not a sinner. Do I from time to time stumble and fail? Sure (sometimes more often than time to time) – but my new heart, given to me by Christ (Ezekiel 36:25-27) no longer loves SIN, it loves God – in fact I hate sin.
The difference in a born again Christian and the world, is that when we sin, we hate what we do, but the world loves its sin. A sinner loves sin. A Saint loves God. Both sin, but the difference is who/what they love.
Let him who has ears to hear, hear.
– Gary Kienel
QUOTE: [Christian]: “If you say you are saved, but there has been no radical change in your life, you need to check to see if you have indeed been born again!” – Pastor Tom Myers
The distance between the mind & the heart, is the distance between Life & Death. Don’t confusing “believing about”, with “believing in” – remember, the demons believe, but they did not “trust” the One whom they believed… do you “trust” Him with your whole “heart”? Then “confess your whole trust in Him” with your mouth! (Rom 10:10) – Gary Kienel
What kind of lives are we called to live as “Christians”? A life of holiness – a life of being set apart – a life of otherness – a life that looks like “strangers and aliens”. It’s not about alcohol, smoking, pre or extra-marital sex, tattoos, cussing or even the style music you listen to. These merely bring the topic to light. It’s about the Lordship of Jesus Christ in the lives of those who call themselves by His name.
It’s about putting the good of others ahead of your personal wants and needs.
It’s about laying down your “rights” and “freedoms” (perceived or actual) because you care more about how it might negatively impact your “brother”, your neighbor and your community, than your self-indulgence.
As followers of Jesus, we are to be Christ-centered, not self-centered. We are to live by the Spirit, and thereby put to deeds the desires of the flesh.
I am not perfect at this, but it is my goal – and it is a biblical goal worthy of all my efforts!
– Gary Kienel
“Oh Holy Spirit, may the same grace that prompts me to say such quotable inspiring words, work in me to live out those very same words. Quotable words are not inspiring when they’re not lived out with sincere action.” – Gary Kienel
The Christian journey begins with Jesus’ Cross – then the journey continues with my cross!
Typically, we forget that Jesus spoke of two crosses – His Cross, and our cross. It is because of His Cross, that we are privileged to carry our cross – His Cross was once for all – our cross is for a lifetime. His Cross brought me life, my cross brings me death. Oh the wonderful, wondrous cross – both of them!
– Gary Kienel
“One more night with the frogs”
A dear brother of mine, who has now gone on to be with the Lord, used to preach a message entitled: “One more night with the frogs.” A simple message detailing the truth that after months of a variety of miseries, Moses came to pharaoh and said: these frogs that plague you will “end” if you let God’s people go. Pharaoh’s response? “I will let you know tomorrow, Moses.” – Pharaoh knowingly suffered one more night with the frogs, to “think about it” – when he could have repented and slept “frog free” that night.
What frogs are you sleeping with “one more night” rather than repenting right now, and sleeping frog free?
– Gary Kienel
“You can’t have the will of God, without the Kingdom of God. His Kingdom always precedes His will (Matt 6:10). If you are looking for His will, search our His Kingdom (basileia) first.” ~ Gary Kienel
QUOTE: “It costs something to be a real Christian, according to the standard of the Bible. There are enemies to be overcome, battles to be fought, sacrifices to be made, an Egypt to be forsaken, a wilderness to be passed through, a cross to be carried, a race to be run. Conversion is not putting a person in an arm-chair and taking them easily to heaven. It is the beginning of a mighty conflict, in which it costs much to win the victory.” – J.C. Ryle
QUOTE: “It’s in the valleys where true disciples are made; it’s on the mountains where they are displayed.” – Pasture Scott Mitchell
QUOTE: “True Grace always leads to a healthy fear of The Lord.” – Pastor Tom Myers
QUOTE: “If you ask ‘how much do I have to give?’ or ‘how much can I afford to give?’ then you have yet to be permeated by the Grace of God.” – Pastor Tom Myers
CHRISTIAN: Jesus came to be your Savior, in order that He might become your Lord – nothing less. He came to restore the Father’s rule & reign in your heart – let Him reign! – Gary Kienel
“Oft times the problem is not the sin itself (behavior), but our attitude towards it.” – Gary Kienel
CHRISTIAN: The consequences of knowingly, and willfully, embracing and engaging in sin in this life for the momentary pleasures & happiness it brings, reaps massive results in this life and in the life to come – even when there is repentance from one with a heart after God. So I implore you Saint, turn from the dead life of the flesh, and live by the Spirit of God within you, while He strives with you, for His Spirit will not always strive with man. (2 Samuel 12:9-14; Genesis 6:3) – Gary Kienel
BLOG QUOTE: “We are called to make faithful disciples—and that will never be cool in the eyes of the world. At some point, we have to leave the adolescent realm of cool to reach spiritual maturity.” – Lee Grady (What ‘Cool’ Churches Could Learn From Abercrombie & Fitch)
QUOTE: (From the book, Not A Fan) “Fans will try and make Jesus one of many. Some fans may even make Jesus the first of many. But when Jesus defines the relationship he makes it clear; he wants to be your one and only.” – Kyle Idleman
QUOTE: “Grace is the voice inside your head telling you to turn around when you’re going in the wrong direction, then gives you the power to do it.” – Misty Edwards
“Christ-Follower: we need to be less concerned about the world’s hell-bound culture taking Christ out of Christmas, and more concerned about the liberal fleshly culture invading the church, that is taking Christ out of Christian. Now that’s a problem worth getting upset over!” – Gary Kienel
QUOTE: [CHRISTIAN]: If you think you have found “happiness” in your sin(s) – think again! Sin is directly “against man’s good, both present and future, here in time and hereafter to eternity, in this life and world which now is and in that to come. It is against all and every good of man, and against the good of all and every man.” – Puritan Ralph Venning
Do you remember how, from time-to-time, you would get those Christmas gifts, or birthday gifts, that came in 2, or even 3 packages. Careful instructions were given to “Open 1st”, “Open 2nd”, “Open last” – Well, the Gift of Jesus is just like that…
The first “package” is Christmas: Emmanuel, a babe in a manger. This gift alone, is extremely thoughtful and absolutely amazing, and is the stuff that holiday TV specials & Christmas Carols are made of, however, without the second gift, it is just a magical night, filled with wonder and awe; love, giving and humility. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Is 9:6) Worldwide, not all will open this gift, but many will.
The second “package” is Easter: the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord & Savior of the mankind. Yet, this gift too, without the third, remains a inspiring, emotional story, filled with obedience, sacrifice and love! “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” (Acts 2:36) Worldwide far less will open this gift.
Ah, but the third “package”, rarely given, even more rarely received, and not even seen as a “gift” by most: The gift of ears to hear, and eyes to see, and a heart to understand the Truth & Purpose of the Life of Jesus. Most will leave this package “under the tree”. Without it, Christmas is just Santa, Carols, Gifts & Lights; Without it, Easter is just baskets, eggs, pretty dresses and religion. “He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:45) “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 8:10) Worldwide, fewer still will open this gift.
It is my Christmas Prayer for YOU, that YOU will discover this gift beneath your tree & open this 3rd Package – the gift of “eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to understand, the secrets and mysteries of the Kingdom of God found in the Holy Scriptures”, this, and every, Christmas Day!
May this Christmas, be YOUR year!
Merry Christmas 2013
– Gary Kienel
“For unto you is born this day in the city a David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
I am strongly inspired by this verse to consider the seemingly absolute & inseparable connection between “Savior” and “Christ the Lord”. Our church culture has done such a poor job of making this connection as clear, as it is here in the Gospel of Luke, 2nd Chapter, 11th verse.
Answer these questions in your mind: What is a Savior? How about this: What is “Christ” (Jesus’ last name?!?) – and lastly, what about “the Lord” (just a tagline to Savior?)?
Luke tells us that “the Savior” which we readily embrace, IS “Christ the Lord”. He is not just “Savior” – period. No, He, Jesus, is Savior, which is “Christ”, and He is “The Lord” (also see, Acts 2:36b).
I would propose that if we, out of ignorance or otherwise, attempt to separate Jesus the Savior, from Jesus the Christ & Jesus the Lord, then we neuter the very purpose and reason for which He came as “Savior”. This verse says that The Savior, is the Christ. This inherently means that this Savior, is the “Promised Anointed One From God” – this elevates & equates our Savior to a place of divinity. He is not just Savior, He is also God.
Secondly, He is “the Lord” – with “Lord” comes one with “authority”. In fact Jesus is called the Lord of lords, meaning He is the absolute Authority for all, and above all. So, Jesus is not just Savior; He is not just God; He is also King.
How precious is this truth, this promise, this creative reality, that the Babe in the Manger, is fully Savior, fully God & fully King? “God” Himself, came to “Save” me unto His “King”-dom!
May we, during this season of Epiphany, with the celebration of the advent of both Jesus and the New Year – enter into a deeper relationship with Jesus – embracing Him as thoroughly as God (Christ) & King (the Lord), as we have as Savior!
– Gary Kienel