(Spiritual) Reality Check

Were we asking for this?  Certainly not!  But God in his mercy showed us exactly what we were going through.  And what is most awesome, He showed us what we need to be doing.  As Ambassadors of God’s Kingdom, we must understand that in this world, we are workers in his fields, not visitors on a vacation.  Every believer has a responsibility to shine the light of Christ in a darkened world.  So the Lord reminded us of the sad reality of our world – and our task.

Below, I am sharing with you a dream my husband had one or two nights ago.  When he told me the dream, I could see how it resembled the spiritual reality we are facing.  So here it is, and let us know what you think!

~ Johanna

 

“I had a rather detailed dream last night, which is unusual for me when my dreams are usually abstract. Johanna thought I should share it in writing.

 

At first, I realized I was in a dark passage about 10 feet wide, with high rock cliffs on both sides. I immediately found myself in a small boat, that was only large enough for two or three bodies besides mine. I was rowing the small craft with great effort in deep black waters, away from a creepy looking house next to the water’s edge, located at one end of the passage. The foreboding house was filled with desperate people, crying in fear and frantically moving about to flee from unseen danger.

 

At the other end of the dark watery channel, was a friendly looking single story structure with a wide wooden porch, enveloped with peace and safety. I was rowing vigorously away from the dark house toward the one of safety, with two frantic people in the boat. I kept noticing the boat was nearly sinking during the trip, filling over with splashing water, almost sinking. The progress was slow and tedious, as if little progress was being made.

 

I looked up as I approached the house of safety, which was now dark. Those inside who were at peace had turned off the lights and were going to sleep. I couldn’t believe it, this was a desperate situation! All those souls behind me were trapped in an evil place, and not one in the safe house was concerned enough to help? How could this be?

 

I proceeded to yell out at the occupants, to wake up and get out here and help these people I was bringing in. As I approached the safe house, a dim light flickered on and a sleepy man approaches the door and looked out. He was not concerned, not wanting to be disturbed by this inconvenient ruckus outside. I couldn’t remain engaged debating about the lack of support, because more rescues were waiting.

 

After dropping off the two people who essentially crawled upon the safe house porch, I returned to the place of evil suddenly, and boarded was four more people, all disturbed and anxious. The boat could not handle the extra weight, taking on too much water, almost sinking. Since I was required to row the boat, being the only one capable, one person had to roll out in the dark waters, while clinging by hand to the boats edge.

 

These trips continued, I recall a couple people from my past whose lives were covered in shame, trembling as in shock, in the bottom of water covered boat. They were unable to care for themselves for they were completely overcome by the evil from the house of darkness. Those riding, sometimes had to turn their attention from their own fears to aid those in shock.

 

At one point, I returned to the evil house and got out of the boat to defend the occupants, whereas no help was coming from the house of safety. I found myself confront by a line of hypnotized people under the power of evil. The moved slowly as if they had little of their own minds. Wearing dark garments, carrying wood hammers, knifes, and other metal object sufficient for inflicting suffering. They were not intent on killing, rather they were mindlessly looking for victims.

 

Suddenly, a woman raised a hammer to strike me from behind upon the head, as she looked ahead to her leader for confirmation. I reached up and slowly removed the hammer from her grasp, while commanding the evil spirit to go in the name of Jesus. I found myself repeating the command over and over, “Depart from here, in the name of Jesus”, as a line of these hypnotized people walked toward me, dropping their instruments upon a table and wandered away harmlessly. They were not changed, but merely disarmed from causing further problems.

 

I was awakened after that scene. It didn’t occur to me until I described it to Johanna, that this was the state of the world verses the state of the church. The world has its share of desperate people, fearful and in shock. It also has those under the spell of evil, unwittingly harming others, unaware they are in the ranks who serve evil.

 

On the other end is the place of refuge. Those of the church who after being saved, want their peace and quiet, with little concern about those in peril and the evil than runs unbridled in the house of the afflicted. Those in safety want peace and quiet, to sleep in comfort.

 

Was this a message from God’s Spirit? A prophecy of things I shall see and be a part of, the struggle between the light and the darkness? Maybe it is a reflection of the ensuing struggle Johanna and I experience amidst the dry spiritual desert here in Indiana. So often we speak the truth to wanderers, but it cannot be heard, because they are seduced by principalities and powers of the air.

 

Additionally, everyone including Christians want positive results in their life, but as long as it doesn’t require them to change themselves or their current lives. There is this “comfy chair” mentality about life, an entitlement, we want all the pleasurable results without any of the necessary efforts. And worse, we can be so utterly consumed with our wants, desires and pleasures, we do not give mind to those who are sinking into the darkness. May it not be for those who call themselves “Christians.”

 

As Paul correctly stated in 2 Cor. 13:5, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.” (ESV)

The Body of Christ Under Attack

This last Sunday I was reading a letter by Pastor Gary Wilkerson, from the well-known World Challenge Ministries, and I could finally put words to our  –my husband’s and mine–  struggle with Christian churches in our local community. This pastor said,

“America is, in many places, suffering a famine of the Word of God. My heart breaks over the church’s tolerance of easy believism and watered-down pabulum, and the trivializing of the weighty matters of a holy and glorious God.”

He goes on to explain that a biblically saturated word from heaven, one that does not tickle ears or entertains its audience is by today’s standards, a ‘hard’ gospel, to which he says,

“I believe a hard gospel is one that leaves people in their sin and tolerates milk-drenched, undernourished, immature Christians – Christians who know little joy because they know little of gospel truth. A hard word is one that leaves hardened hearts in the pew.”

WOW.  Being a foreigner, I can attest to all that is said above – here in America (ehem… the United States, mind you), there is indeed a gospel like that being preached.   However, I feel this is something that is happening worldwide too.  I do wonder, when I see these huge churches, if their congregations take the time on a Sunday, to question whether that morning the preaching was indeed biblical.  Statistics say that the average Christian in the world is not in the USA anymore but in the Southern Hemisphere, meaning Christianity is no longer mainstream – meaning, there are people calling themselves Christian but their practice is far from the teachings of the Bible.  That is a strong accusation, don’t you think?

Well, what is going on?  For starters, let’s review the current characteristics of the Christian church in the USA that pastor Wilkerson points out so well:

1. Tolerance of easy believism = Any Christian that believes that because they prayed the sinner’s prayer at some point in their life they are automatically a child of God, they are wrong.  We need to understand that what makes us a child of God is our daily walk with Christ, ‘taking up His yoke’ and living a sanctified a life – separated for God.  Christ’ yoke is the denial of me, it is recognizing that spiritually I am in constant battle against the world, the devil and my own flesh – and fighting against them!  Don’t be afraid to be harsh on yourself, if necessary, question your motives, ask God to examine your heart and BE REAL.  Confess your sins to God, He has promised to forgive you.  Only then, you can start to WALK THE TALK.

2. Tolerance of watered-down pabulum = Pabulum is “something (as writing or speech) that is insipid, simplistic, or bland”.  This means that even though the Bible verses that you hear on Sunday morning are truth from God, their teaching has been so simplified and sugar-coated that is no longer the medicine that your soul needs for restoration, but just like aesthetic surgery for a problem of the mind… it doesn’t work.  It might serve you well for a while but it will not strengthen you for your walk with Christ.  A ‘Christian’ that doesn’t want to be bothered with hard biblical truths, with complex teachings from God, that feels complacent in their ‘Christianity’ is indeed used to this kind of watered-down teaching.

3. Churches trivialize the weighty matters of a holy and glorious God = I was appalled when I learned that some worship services look more like a hype concert or that instead of preaching the Bible some churches offer skits, conversations in the altar.  I am still taken aback by the fact that many people dress up for a party but go to church as if they are attending a regular picnic.  Even more, preaching is no longer a holy task carried out with reverence but instead a casual talk filled with pop psychology that will keep the audiences ‘feeling good’, entertained, content. The church is no longer a place of repentance, contrition, but a social club where people attend to receive (“What a great children’s ministry!” “What great music!”) than to give honor to God (“How the Lord convicted me today through his word!”).

4. The gospel preached leaves people in their sin = As said above, preachers are too scared to loose attendance so they are either just puppets in the hand of the audiences or servants of their own egos (the most degrees or year of experience you have, the better pastor you will be, however false that is), not servants of God Almighty anymore.  Instead of preaching the truth ‘that will set you free’, Pastors choose to adjust their teaching to what feels comfortable in their audiences’ ears… So people sit comfortably in their sin, totally in denial of the fact that taking communion in that state means ‘piling condemnation over them’!  Let us not forget that our walk with Christ is along a ‘narrow’, difficult, path, not a wide, easy, path.

5. Churches tolerate milk-drenched, undernourished, immature Christians = I’ve met people attending church for years who don’t have a testimony of salvation – that one experience with God in which His power transforms you to follow Him… These Christians will face struggles and trials (remember these are part of our walk with Christ) and will end up quitting their faith or seeking other ‘better’, easier ways.  They will suffer for following Christ and will give Him up because they did not build their house in the rock that is Christ but over sand – they were not nourished with the Truth of the Gospel and comforted by the Holy Spirit of God but lived on a false gospel that taught them that God was like a genie in a lamp, that Christianity was there to make them happy, have a financial secure life, etc.  They were not taught that we are supposed to ‘build treasure in heaven’ instead of on this earth.

6. All this result in Christians who know little joy because they know little of gospel truth = Today many Christians don’t shine a light in the darkened world, but instead have the same look of frustration, depression, hopelessness just like everyone else around them. Their purpose of being ‘salt into the world’ (salt preserves from putrefaction) is no longer active and therefore these Christians, just as salt, will be thrown away into the fire, meaning their eternal damnation is certain.

7. Finally, and the worst of all, is that the current gospel leaves hardened hearts in the pew = After hearing the Gospel for so many years without taking action -actually believing- many people either become atheists or become so-called Christians with a bad attitude.  Have you seen ‘Christians’ who rave against those who sin?  Have you seen ‘Christians’ wishing to kill their enemy instead of showing the other cheek or blessing those who curse them?  I have.  There is not compassion in their eyes.  Christ is not living in their hearts.  They just take the banner of ‘Christianity’ as a political, cultural, social platform to share their wickedness with the world and by doing so, offending the name of God.  They never took that step in faith to surrender completely to God when He was calling them.  Instead, they took the time to mull over their own doubts and frustration.  Being transformed by the power of God, by the Holy Spirit of God, is not a fairy tale.  We have the chance today of start praying about this in our lives.

Let us be aware – Our Lord is not be fooled.  Let us forever keep His words in Matthew 7:21-27 in our hearts and minds and teach them to others while we can,

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

For His Glory!

~jO