The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie… 2Thessalonians 2:9-11

If I were writing a longer article, I might argue that the Restrainer of verse seven is being removed (i.e., gradually, not in a future event). I might even argue that one cannot fall away from something if he is not already a viable part of that something. These are all subjects unto themselves, and possible distractions from the primary matter of this article.

Deception will overcome those who have not received a love of the truth, and it will do so WITH GOD’S HELP. Furthermore, that deception will prevent those poor individuals from being saved. There is no other way to interpret this passage. I am trying to avoid the “once saved, always saved” argument. Let’s not go there, except to admit that it is better to be safe than eternally sorry.

Okay, so let’s focus on “they did not receive the love of the truth” as THE way to avoid deception. Consider:

  1. The direct articles are important. There is a “the love” and a “the truth”. There is not a variety of loves, nor a variety of truths.
  2. The “love” is agapē, the same love that God has toward the world. It is a sacrificial love. The love with which we are to love the LORD with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.
  3. The “truth” is alētheia, what is true in any matter of consideration. It is reality with a big “R”. And it is what Jesus called Himself.
  4. To “receive” suggests something has been offered. That gift is the sacrificial love for Christ and His Reality. Sacrificial love cannot be created by man, nor imposed on another. It must be discovered and received, personally.

Therefore, THE way to avoid deception is to personally receive the sacrificial love for Christ and His Reality. This requires our willing sacrifice for Jesus Christ and the Gospel (Mark 8:35), an ongoing “deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23).” Receiving is not without condition; there must be a willingness for the sacrifices inherent in the gift. Read the rest of this entry »

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. 2Chronicles 16:9

Those of you who have followed my writing may be surprised to read that I am excited and hopeful for the church in 2021; including that portion of her who resides in America. I often have to remind myself of this fact, but it is nevertheless true.

There are two reasons for my hopefulness. First, I believe the wife of the Lamb is making herself ready, and she will be perfectly beautiful (Revelation 19:7-8). Secondly, I believe the storms and chaos God is allowing (creating?) give testimony to His continued long-suffering and persistence for her and His Son.

It is no coincidence that 2021 promises to be as chaotic and challenging as 2020. Nor is it an accident that storms are lining up like tropical depressions during hurricane season. Who can imagine how long the season will last, or how severe the storms will be? Only God knows! However, regardless of length and severity, His children rest secure, believing He will use the storms and chaos for our good (Romans 8:28).

Indeed, God will use the storms and chaos of this decade to dramatically transform the individuals, families, and fellowships who keep their eyes focused on the Lord and their minds set on things above. Our prime objective, for ourselves and those in our spheres of influence, must be our maturation in the Lord. Moving up and forward is the only way we avoid wasting the pain and discomfort storms and chaos introduce into our lives.

With this exciting and hopeful perspective in mind, Read the rest of this entry »

Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Matthew 6:16-18

The first eighteen verses of Matthew 6 speak collectively of our positioning as loyal subjects before our sovereign King. We’ve covered these in smaller bites, but together they make up an important course of the feast we know as the Sermon on the Mount. All that we do as kingdom citizens is to be done before God and – intentionally – not before men.

Importantly, Jesus did not say, “…if you fast”. Fasting is not an optional discipline for the serious Christian; it is assumed. Furthermore, Jesus speaks of fasting in exactly the same way He speaks of doing good works and praying, thus highlighting the importance of fasting in the normal Christian life. Lastly, we discover that the very same consequences are reserved for those who fast to receive worldly benefit: the charge of hypocrisy and loss of heavenly reward.

These are sobering considerations. The discipline of fasting has been lost to much of the church and confused by most of the rest (myself included). Frankly, I think we have made fasting too difficult, causing some to struggle unnecessarily and eventually give up on it altogether. We also have too many man-created prescriptions and plans for fasting. In my humble opinion, we should focus more on motivation than form and procedure, and trust the Holy Spirit’s guidance in the details. Read the rest of this entry »

We are on a journey through unprecedented storms and the chaos they produce. For most of us, the storms are coming from multiple directions and the chaos exists on several levels. We must remember that God truly is in control. In fact, He is a very careful and adept orchestrator.

Do we believe that He works all things to the good of those who love Him and are called to His purpose? If the answer is, “We’ll see”, then we do not believe it. The storms and chaos are not intended to prove Him, but us!!

The perspectives we take with us into the storms of life are critical, make-or-break paradigms. If we think like the world, we will seek worldly solutions. This is the only option for most of mankind.

Christians, on the other hand, have the perspective of heaven (Ephesians 2:6). We would be foolish to set our minds on anything else. We therefore offer the following perspectives for your edification and encouragement.

Chaos and Caterpillars

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2Corinthians 3:18

Consider the ugly, leaf-bound, and leaf-eating caterpillar who metamorphoos into a beautiful, free-flying, and nectar-eating butterfly (the Greek for transform is metamorphoo). Dying to his old way and form, the caterpillar becomes a glorious new form of God’s creation.

Similarly, God will use the chaos of this decade to dramatically transform the individuals, families, and fellowships who keep their eyes focused on the Lord and their minds set on things above. The Holy Spirit waits for God’s people to submit to His transforming – metamorphoo’ing – work.

Our response to this work will require leaving something behind. Many times, it is security, long held beliefs, routines, even people and places we have grown to love. Rarely does this call not involve a dying to ourselves. And so, there must be grieving – something best done with others.

It will help us (and those we love) to remember that chaos is normal for every Christian committed to following Jesus Christ. Sacrifice marked the life of Jesus, and He sends us as the Father sent Him (John 20:21). As He did with His son, our Father in heaven has great purpose for the chaos He introduces or allows into our life. Read the rest of this entry »

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15

This may be the most direct, easily understood and often taught saying of Jesus. So, why is the church so divided over the trespasses of others? How many Christian friendships have been broken and how many churches split apart over unforgiveness?

It is tragically ironic that such a saying – and the consequences of not doing it – has had so little response in the church. We have become too much like the world: quickly offended and slow to forgive.

Perhaps the easy “once saved, always saved” gospel has turned this saying of Jesus into an option. Ongoing forgiveness from our heavenly Father is no longer a matter of concern for many church leaders and their congregants, so why worry about forgiving others (or seeking another’s forgiveness).

So, let me ask you: What does it mean if the Father does not forgive someone’s trespasses? Will He allow such a person into His presence? Does the blood of Jesus somehow make this saying of His null and void? If so, then we would have to surmise that this saying is only for the lost. That is the only way it would make sense, but it doesn’t. The bad fruit is readily apparent.

Pride is not the only sin that our enemies leverage to divide the body of Christ. Unforgiveness has been used to drive wedges between and within fellowships for millennia. What seems like a slight offense often metastasizes into a deadly cancer: division in the church. Read the rest of this entry »

The chaos we have experienced this year – and will continue to experience for the foreseeable future – has been an incredible drag on personal and corporate productivity. How does one manage their time and the time of others in the midst of such uncertainty?

As strange as it may sound, grieving offers a strategic advantage to the Christian leader who will go there and subsequently help their spheres of influence do the same. God is calling us to more – to a higher level of glory (and kingdom productivity). To get there, we must grieve.

Chaos can be confusing and distracting, drawing us away from God’s purpose in our lives. It can become overwhelming and discouraging, threatening to destroy our destiny as kingdom citizens. In other words, we become unproductive.

On the other hand, chaos can be used by God to clarify and concentrate our focus, while empowering and encouraging us for kingdom assignments – the good works God prepared for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10). Furthermore, God intends for chaos to draw us closer to Himself and transform us into the image of His Son’s glory.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2Corinthians 3:18

Consider the ugly, leaf-bound, and leaf-eating caterpillar who metamorphoos into a beautiful, free-flying, and nectar-eating butterfly (the Greek for transform is metamorphoo). Dying to his old way and form, the caterpillar becomes a glorious new form of God’s creation. Read the rest of this entry »

One does not need prophetic gifts to recognize that the chaos and storms of 2020 will continue for the foreseeable future. The 2020s will likely be the most chaotic time most of us (at least in America) will experience in our lifetime.

Translating this into “kingdom-speak”: This decade will be the most opportunistic and pivotal time the God-assigned ambassadors to the United States of America have seen in almost 100 years.

There is no better time to be a disciple maker than in the midst of chaos and storms. If our houses remain standing, many who have lost theirs will be coming to us for refuge, encouragement, and understanding.

With this great opportunity in mind, I dare say we all could use a bit of inspection and restoration. Therefore, as we close out this incredibly chaotic year, I offer you three considerations:

Perspective: We are seated with Christ in heavenly places, with access to Heaven’s perspective (Ephesians 2:6). God offers His peace and purpose in the chaos and storms.

Furthermore, strong houses are built from an eternal perspective; they are built to last, not to survive for a year or two. Patchwork and paint-overs won’t cut it. We must secure and strengthen our house through the spiritual disciplines God has provided.

Position: God providentially positions us geographically, relationally, and with particular responsibilities. Consideration for the impact zone of these dimensions is critical. Our influence will be greatest (for God’s glory) with people in our closest spheres.

We must avoid and reject the temptation to give unbalanced attention to people and situations on our periphery (e.g., political wrangling in Washington, D.C. and riots on the other side of the country). Read the rest of this entry »

One of the easiest ways to search out the matters of truth that God has hidden in the Scriptures is to harmonize multiple accounts of the sayings of Jesus. We discover such an example in the accounts of “The Model Prayer”. In Luke’s gospel, we find:

Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1

Notice that the disciple did not ask Jesus “how to pray”. As you might expect, “how” is a very common word in the Bible. In fact, it appears 550 times in the New King James Version. So why is it absent here?

I am convinced, and I hope you will consider, that the disciple was asking for more than instruction in prayer. I believe he recognized that Jesus’ way of prayer was so far removed from their own that what they had been calling prayer might as well have been called “apple”.

Jesus’ way of prayer was about life and relationship. It availed much. It was full of humility and trust. Matthew records His thoughts on the contrasting prayers of men.

And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. Matthew 6:7-8

The prayers of men are about men, and what men want. The prayers of Jesus were (and are) about the Father, and what the Father wants. In this saying, Jesus reveals that learning to pray, at its core, is more about finding the right position before the Father than about what we have to say.

“The Model Prayer” is a model of prayer for our positioning before our Father in heaven. We must come into the Father’s presence through the model He has given us. Without this positioning, all that we have to say are the vain repetitions of man. Read the rest of this entry »

Chaos can be confusing and distracting, drawing us away from God’s purpose in our lives. Chaos can become overwhelming and discouraging, threatening to destroy our destiny as kingdom citizens. On the other hand…

Chaos can be used by God to clarify and concentrate our focus, while empowering and encouraging us for kingdom assignments – the good works God created for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10). God intends for chaos to draw us closer and transform us into the image of His Son’s glory.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2Corinthians 3:18

Consider the ugly, leaf-bound, and leaf-eating caterpillar who metamorphoos into a beautiful, free-flying, and nectar-eating butterfly (the Greek for transform is metamorphoo). Dying to his old way and form, the caterpillar becomes a glorious new form of God’s creation.

Similarly, God will use the chaos of this decade to dramatically transform the individuals, families, and fellowships who keep their eyes focused on the Lord and their minds set on things above. The Holy Spirit waits for God’s people to submit to His transforming – metamorphoo’ing – work.

Recognizing that transformation comes by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2), we offer here a tool which will help every Christian think rightly about the chaos God allows and creates.

Before we begin, it is important to set our minds on using this tool prayerfully. Think of it as a conversation starter and a framework for capturing what you hear. DO NOT reason your way through it.

Process Locator Tool

God has a way for everything, including the way He maximizes chaos in our lives. Recognizing that He uses chaos to transform us into the image of the glory of His Son, we look to His process for our transformation – found in Psalm 37:1-7.

The key here is finding one’s place in the process (and the place of those you are leading), so you can begin to ask the right questions (and help others to do the same). Take your time; let the Holy Spirit guide you. Read the rest of this entry »

The Lord had a word for me. I hope you don’t mind me sharing it. I think it might help someone else.

People are naturally analytical, some more than others. We are taught, throughout our formative years, to analyze everything. Those with higher analytical ability tend to get further on in life… in the natural.

When it comes to the supernatural, analysis can be a terrible distraction. Thinking can get in the way of believing, and some of us simply think too much.

For example: It is not necessary to accurately delineate, diagram, and describe the parts of a Christian identified in Scripture (e.g., heart, mind, soul, and strength). In fact, like many mysteries in God’s kingdom, it may be impossible. The Scientific Method is not fit for supernatural investigations and outcomes. Read the rest of this entry »

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