Wednesday, August 16, 2017

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In this blog, I provide encouragement and biblical teaching on seeking the Lord with all your heart, loving Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and living a life of holiness, righteousness, and truth.

As the Scripture says:

'You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jer 29:13)

And "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Mat 7:13-14)

Some of the topics covered include seeking the Lord, prayer, worship, tithing, inquiring of the Lord, hearing His voice, obedience, grace, godly attire and adornment, sanctification, consecration, backsliding, repentance, brokenness, suffering, humility, the fear of the Lord, the role of the commandments for the disciple of Christ, and the conditions of the New Covenant.  I hope this will be an edifying and encouraging experience for you that will help you to grow in your walk with the Lord.

Seeking the Lord Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God Holy Fire Baptism
Lifting Your Face in Prayer Lifting Hands in Prayer Crying Out to God Loudly
Pressing on Toward the Goal Taking Heaven by Force God Exalts the Humble and Brings Down the Proud
Whom Are You Seeking? Should you fear the Lord? Is a Woman's Hair Her Head Covering?
Aim for Perfection Obedience by the Spirit Is Obedience Optional?
Salvation with Fear and Trembling Holy Living in a Perverted World Drifting Away
The Cost of Discipleship Deleted Scriptures in the Bible? Is Tithing Required?
Where Should You Give Your Tithe? Walking in the Perfect Will of God Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian
The Obedience of Faith Did Jesus Nail the Law to the Cross? Law of Love in the New Testament
The New Covenant Law of Love in the New Testament The Law Fulfilled in Us
The Law Established Through Faith Costly Grace The Law of Christ
The Eyes of the Lord Garments of Godliness The Three Elijahs
The Burning Ones The End Has Come Now, But Not Yet
The Happy Hunters on Fire You're Better Off Following Jesus God Chooses the Weak Things 
The Beauty of Brokenness Seeing Jesus, Loving Him, Character and Glory Hearing the Lord's Voice
Hearing the Lord's Voice Inquiring of the Lord Praise the Lord!
The Loving God Who Bids Us to Come One thing Righteousness, Peace, and Joy
Is the the Self-Help and Actualization Movement a Sham? From Self-confidence to Confidence in the Lord The Self-Help Gospel
Checklist for Revival God Has Not Rejected His Jewish People, Has He? The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer
The Flaming Sword Clean Hands and a Pure Heart The Spirit of the Law
Keeping Your Body Pure and Holy An Open Mind that Loves the Truth Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?
Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth? The Apostasy Parables

The Top Ten Things Jesus Taught
The Disciples’ Prayer Is Tolerance a Virtue? Righteousness by Faith not Law
Life is Short. Eternity is Not. Noah's Ark a Type of Christ Grace, Mercy, and Peace
Ultimate Accountability Separation from the World The Knowledge of the Holy
The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness Ask for the Ancient Paths Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven
The Straight and Narrow Path Unhealthy Competition A Peculiar People
Listen to Jesus, Who Upholds Moses and the Prophets Hope for You

Beware of Philosophy and Empty Deception
The Love of Jesus The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer Having a Servant's Heart
Avoiding Worldly Worship Purge the Evil from Among You Who is God?
Living a Life Worthy of the Lord Praying for the Lord Jesus Who is God? - Part II
The Way, Will, and Word of God Overcomers in This Life The Afflictions of the Righteous
Saints Alive in Jesus Bowing Low in Worship Repentance That Leads to Life
Keeping a Good Conscience Remember Lot’s Wife Called to be Blameless
If -- A Picture Paints a Thousand Words The Lord Will Rejoice Over You The Nature of Persecution
The Wardrobe of the Saints Filled Up to All the Fullness of God Loving Deeply
Seeking Glory from God Amazing Grace God's Sovereign Plans and Purposes
Abominations in the Sight of God Identification with Christ Alabaster Jar
Running from God Forgetting the Past Was Jesus Seeker Friendly?
God's View of Public Bathing Is Secular Music for Christians?

Our gift of these articles by Len Lacroix is made possible in part by your gracious support of the ministry. Partner with us online.  You may also access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. "Seek My Face" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist. 

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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___________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org. Partner with us online by giving to DMI.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Woes of Christ

Dear God-seekers,

I'd like to share with you the woes of Christ. We rarely hear about these, as most preachers prefer to preach positive messages that please the crowds. One mega church pastor says that he does not preach about hell or against sin, because people hear enough negative things already, however, he prefers to give them something positive and uplifting. He says, "I'm for people," and "I'm not against anything." It's no wonder his church draws tens of thousands of people every Sunday.

But the Lord did not neglect to preach against sin and warn people about hell, as I have already pointed out in my article, The Top Ten Things Jesus Taught. Since He loves us and does not want us to perish, He did not fail to issue the negative warnings of God to people, but freely gave them whenever they were necessary. Therefore, we would be remiss if we did not do the same. His woes are still just as important today as they were then, and they deserve our attention, in case any of them might apply to our own lives.

Eight Woes of Hypocrites 
In Matthew 23, we find the seven woes that Jesus delivered to hypocrites, in which He repeatedly used the phrase, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.”

1. For making salvation hard for other people.

He said, "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in." (Mat 23:13).

In Luke's gospel, it says, "Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering." (Luk 11:52)

There are still those who do this today, adding to the Word of God man-made rules and traditions of men that God does not require, which make it impossible for people to ever be saved. Neither they nor their followers will enter heaven. One of the things they do is to call things "sin" which are not sins according to God. They do not preach the fear of God, which is the beginning of knowledge, and they do not tell people the true way to be saved. Woe to them!

2. For devouring widows' homes and pretending to pray long.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation." (Mat 23:14).

There are still those who devour widows' houses in various ways, primarily through pleading for their money in the name of God. And the same goes for those today who make long prayers insincerely, who are merely pretenders. Great is their condemnation.

3. For corrupting converts.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves." (Mat 23:15)

Every preacher, religious teacher, priest, evangelist, missionary, and so-called holy man of any religion ought to take heed to this woe. Some travel over land and sea to win a convert, and then when they get one, they make him twice as much a son of hell as they are. One way is through their teaching, and another way is through their life example. Let's be sure that any converts we make are actually converts to Christ, and become true disciples of His that are qualified for heaven -- not sons of hell! For more on this, see my article, Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian.

4. For trivializing religion.

"Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.' You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold? And, 'Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.' You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering? Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it." (Mat 23:16-22)

Blind guides still abound today, so be careful you are not one of them and that you are not following one of them. They teach many things that diminish, minimize, or downplay the importance of that which is very important to God. They call things that are sinful in God's sight, "Not sin." Woe to them!

5. For neglecting the more important matters of the law.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!" (Mat 23:23-24)

In Luke's gospel, it says, "But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others." (Luk 11:42)

As I pointed out in my article, Is Tithing Required for Christians, the Lord here did not condemn tithing or nullify that requirement. In fact, He affirmed it's importance by saying, "...these are the things you should have done." But He warned those who tithe meticulously while neglecting the much more important commandments of God. While they work so hard to ensure that they tithe on every increase they receive, they neglect justice, mercy, faithfulness, and the love of God, which are even greater matters. These things are as much weightier than tithing as a camel is heavier than a gnat. 

6. For self-indulgence and robbery and greed.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also." (Mat 23:25-26; cf. Lk 11:39-41)

We still have those who take great care to ensure that they and their belongings are clean on the outside, but they are full of greed and self-indulgence within. Woe to them! The Lord taught us to first clean out that which is inside of us, in order that the outside may also become clean.

7. For hypocrisy and lawlessness within.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." (Mat 23:27-28)

Much like the previous woe, the Lord here warned those who appear beautiful and righteous to men, but are full of uncleanness, hypocrisy, and lawlessness within. The Lord pronounced a woe over such people.

8. For the murder of God's prophets.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, 'If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation." (Mat 23:29-36)

This was the climax and the most serious accusation, since God detests the shedding of innocent blood. Today there are still those who murder God's true prophets. Some do so literally, and others do so with their words. Such people will not escape the sentence of hell. Woe to them.

Woe to Those Who Do Not Repent
Jesus said, "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. (Mat 11:21; cf., Luk 10:13)

As I pointed out in my article, Was Jesus Seeker Friendly?, the Lord did not cater to the crowds or try to sweet talk them. He told it like it is. He warned people of their need to repent, and this was a critical part of his message. He did not tolerate the unrepentant or accept a mere "Sinner's Prayer" from such people.

You may be surprised to know that many people who get healed by the Lord, or receive a miracle, do not continue on to follow the Lord. They do not repent, but continue on in their sins. The same is true of others who have seen healing and miracles take place in meetings where the gospel is preached, and yet they do not repent. Woe to them!

Woe to Those Who Become Stumbling Blocks
Jesus said, "Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! (Mat 18:7)

In Luke's gospel, He said to His disciples, "It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come!" (Luk 17:1)

May the Lord help us not to be someone that makes others stumble into sin. This is a serious sin in God's sight. As the apostle Paul said, let us determine "not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way." (Rom 14:13)

Woe to the Rich
Jesus said, "But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full." (Luk 6:24)

That same mega church pastor that I referred to previously has become very wealthy through his best selling books, and his church brings in 90 million dollars a year. As I have explained in my article, What's Wrong with the Prosperity Gospel?, Scripture warns against the deceitfulness of riches. And as I said in my article, Wisdom for Wealthy Preachers and Prosperity Teachers, it is going to be extremely difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. Woe to them.

In light of all the prosperity teaching these days, it's high time we adopt A Biblical View of the Poor.

Woe to the Well-Fed
Jesus said, "Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry." (Luk 6:25a)

Some people eat well in this life. They enjoy the best of food and plenty of it. Paul said, " Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things." (Phil 3:19, NIV). Their god is their appetite. Perhaps they even neglect fasting. But in the end, they will go hungry. It will not go well for them. Woe to them!

Woe to Those Who Laugh Now
Jesus said, "Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep." (Luk 6:25b).

In heaven there will be much laughing, and in this life, we as followers of Christ have great joy. But we also must be sober, serious. It is not becoming of a disciple of Christ to be always cracking jokes and making fun of things, laughing. As John Wesley said, they "are of a light trifling spirit." Matthew Henry said they "have always a disposition to be merry, and always something to make merry with... and are always entertaining themselves with the laughter of the fool." Sadly there are even preachers like this. Woe to them! For they shall mourn and weep eternally, wailing endlessly with a regretful sorrow that is without ease or remedy.

Woe to You When All Speak Well of You
Jesus said, "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way." (Luk 6:26)

As I wrote in my articles Popularity of the Gospel and Persecuted or Popular?, it is not considered a blessing when everyone speaks well of you. The true gospel is not going to be popular with the majority of the people in the world. And nether are those who preach the true gospel. Therefore, woe to you when all men speak well of you. That's how they treated the false prophets!

Woe to Those Who Love Prominence and Respect
Jesus said, "Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the chief seats in the synagogues and the respectful greetings in the market places." (Luk 11:43)

This woe is still relevant today. There are still those, even among ministers, who love having a place of prominence and receiving respectful greetings in public. They love the chief seat, the reserved parking spot, and the place of honor. They love to have people greet them respectfully as "Reverend," "Bishop," "Pastor," "Apostle," or "Prophet." Woe to them. As I said in my article, Clergy-Laity Distinction Unbiblical, we shouldn’t let anyone address us with such titles and we should not address anyone with titles. Rather, we must walk in humility.

Putting it All Together
I hope this has helped to see that our Lord did not neglect to warn us with very serious woes, which we still need to hear today. They have not become any less important or relevant today than they were then. Let's allow the Holy Spirit to bring the conviction to our hearts and repent wherever applicable. And those who preach the gospel should include these woes in their messages just as the Lord did. Live your life today as if there is no tomorrow. With these things the Lord will be pleased.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you would like to become a disciple, consider enrolling in our Doulos Training School. You are invited to read Was Jesus Seeker Friendly?The Top Ten Things Jesus TaughtWisdom for Wealthy Preachers and Prosperity TeachersThe Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer, The Cost of DiscipleshipPopularity of the GospelMichael Shigaba's Encounter with Jesus, Strive to Enter the Kingdom of God, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, A Warning for Married Christian Couples, Rachael Mushala Testimony of Hell, Rachael Mushala Second Testimony of HellZipporah Mushala's testimony of hell, Zipporah Mushala’s Third Testimony of Hell, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?, Alcohol and Cigarettes -- Ten Divine Revelations, Keeping Sundays Holy - Part I, Keeping Sundays Holy - Part II, Rock, Rap, and Reggae Music -- Three Divine Revelations, The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, Separation from the World, Life Transformation Groups, and Ask for the Ancient Paths. You may access the Main Directory for this Seeking the Lord blog for more articles like this, as well as my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Messages from the Lord for Catholics Worshipping Idols Only the Holy -- Three Shocking TestimoniesAngelica Zambrano Hell and Heaven
Baptized by Blazing FireTaken to HellAngelica Zambrano Second Visit to Hell
Australian Pastor Raised from the DeadNigerian Pastor Raised from the DeadRevelation of Hell to Seven Colombian Youths

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Is Secular Music for Christians?

Dear God-seekers,

Many Christians these days don't seem to have any problem listening to or playing secular music. Some listen to any kind of music they please, including heavy metal rock. Others may feel that certain types of secular music are permissible, such as easy listening, love songs, country music, the blues, or the oldies from the 1950's and 60's. Therefore, I would like to address that from the Word of God, in order to determine what the standard is in the sight of God.

In Psalm 137, we can find insight into this matter. The Israelites had been carried off into captivity in a foreign land -- the land of Babylon, because of their sin. They later penned this psalm describing the conditions:

"By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down and wept, When we remembered Zion. Upon the willows in the midst of it We hung our harps. For there our captors demanded of us songs, And our tormentors mirth, saying, 'Sing us one of the songs of Zion.' How can we sing the LORD'S song In a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, May my right hand forget her skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth If I do not remember you, If I do not exalt Jerusalem Above my chief joy." (Psa 137:1-6)

In the World, Not of the World
This psalm describes the proper attitude that every true follower of Jesus Christ should have. This world is not our home. We are not from here. Our home is Zion in heaven. We may live in the world, but we are not of the world (Joh 17:16). We do not belong to this world any more than Jesus did.

The psalmist wrote, "By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down and wept, When we remembered Zion" (Ps 137:1). This describes their posture and attitude of mourning and longing for home while in a foreign land. When I was in the military as a young man, stationed overseas, I recall at times feeling home sick, wanting to be back home in the United States. The best way to deal with it was not to think about home, but sometimes it was hard to do so. And here the psalmist describes how the Israelites felt when they remembered Zion. They sat and wept.

This should also be the attitude of every true disciple. We should be looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (Heb 11:10). We are just passing through as pilgrims and strangers here. As the apostle Peter wrote, "Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul." (1Pe 2:11). Therefore, let's not be partakers in The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness.

Refusing to Play for the World
The psalmist said, "Upon the willows in the midst of it We hung our harps. For there our captors demanded of us songs, And our tormentors mirth, saying, 'Sing us one of the songs of Zion.' (Psa 137:2-3). In their distress, as they sat and wept, they hung their musical instruments in the trees beside the rivers of Babylon. They were not playing them. There is a time for everything, a time to laugh and a time to weep. This was their time to weep, and it was appropriate. They were being punished by God for their sin and it was very difficult to endure.

But the psalmist gives us the reason why they hung up their harps. He says, "For there our captors demanded of us songs..." (v.3). The reason they hung their harps was that they refused to play Hebrew songs for the Babylonians, who were of this world and wanted to hear these songs for entertainment purposes. The Israelites knew that the joyful songs of Zion were for the Lord and his people, not for the entertainment of the world or the gratification of the flesh.

Yet the main reason why people play, sing and listen to secular music is for entertainment purposes and enjoyment. It's not to bring glory to God. On the other hand, the songs of Zion are for the Lord and our worship of Him, and should not be used to entertain the world.

This next verse describes their complete refusal to play the Lord's songs for the world. They said, "How can we sing the LORD'S song In a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, May my right hand forget her skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth If I do not remember you, If I do not exalt Jerusalem Above my chief joy." (Psa 137:4-6).

The psalmist actually pronounces a curse over himself if he should ever forget Jerusalem, which is the Holy City and represents heaven for us. He also preferred to have his tongue cling to the roof of his mouth rather than forget the city of God's temple. He would rather become mute and be unable to sing at all than to fail to remember Jerusalem and exalt that place above his highest joy. If we forget heaven, and we go back to the world, we will surely perish. Therefore, the psalmist would rather that his right hand forget its musical skill with the instrument than for him to forget the Holy City. How many Christians have that same attitude toward heaven, whereby they would rather they forget how to play their instrument or their music than forget heaven? Do we prefer to be mute and unable to sing at all, rather than fail to exalt heaven, the celestial city, above our highest joy?

You can choose to deny that this psalm has any application to us today with regard to secular music, but I believe it has a definite application for us. It not only shows us that we should refuse to play the Lord's songs for merely entertainment purposes, but it also has application to secular music. For if we refuse to play the Lord's songs for entertainment, then how much less should we play or sing secular music, which is merely for entertainment and enjoyment, rather than the worship of God?

No Friendship with the World
The psalmist tells us that the Israelites in captivity refused to be friends with the world. The Babylonians hated Jerusalem and tore it down, so the Israelites knew that when they asked them to play songs from Zion, they had impure motives for doing so. The psalmist wrote:

"Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. 'Tear it down,' they cried, 'tear it down to its foundations!' Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is the one who repays you
according to what you have done to us. Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks. (Psa 137:7-9, NIV).

The Israelites in their captivity, as depicted in this psalm, were not interested in being buddies with the Babylonians. Yet when we use music for entertainment, we are essentially becoming friends with the world. The apostle James said, "You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (Jas 4:4)

Music is Meant for Worship
Music was created by God for worship, and the devil has altered it to be used for worship of him, as I have written in my articles, The Origin of Sin, Satan, and Secular Music and The Rise and Fall of Lucifer the Musician. Secular music serves the devil's purposes well by redirecting praise from God to himself. It promotes his agenda of sin and rebellion against God, and takes our minds off the Lord and off of heaven. It provides something in this world to love and takes us away from God. Yet the apostle John said:

"Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever." (1Jn 2:15-17)

Scripture also teaches us to be filled with the Spirit, and the Spirit-filled life is one in which we are "speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father." (Eph 5:19-20). Notice that the Spirit-filled life is one of singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord. It is not one in which we are singing and making melody in our hearts for the gratification of the flesh.

Putting it All Together
Although the Israelites were not being asked to play secular music, their response to the demands of their Babylonian captors to play songs of Zion gives us insight into the proper attitude for saints to have, and it provides us with lessons that we can apply to our own lives today as disciples of Christ. Although we are in the world, we are not of the world. We should refuse to play music for the world's entertainment. We should exalt heaven above our highest joy, and glorify God with our songs. If we do not make heaven our highest joy, then we should prefer rather not to play any songs at all.

As for secular music, it doesn't glorify God and it isn't holy. It gratifies the flesh and promotes sin, including idolatry and rebellion. It takes people away from God. It contains many idle words and nonsense, and the Lord said we would have to give an account for every idle word we have spoken (Mt 12:36).

If you still aren't sure about all this, then I suggest you read my articles, Rock, Rap, and Reggae Music -- Five Divine Revelations and Avoiding Worldly Worship. They will make it abundantly clear to you that God hates worldly worship, as well as worldly music. He does not approve of rock, rap, and reggae, not even for the purposes of worship or evangelism. The saints of God don't play these kinds of music in Zion up in heaven. We should be living here on earth the way they do in heaven.

I hope you will take this message to heart, pray about it and ask the Lord, if you are still not sure. The Lord is coming back right away, and He is calling us to repent and make the necessary changes so that we will not miss heaven. May the Lord show you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. May He help all those who are His to depart from iniquity and live in holiness, righteousness, and truth as He requires.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Other verses taken from The Holy Bible -- NIV. Photo of Yes concert, Indianapolis, August 30, 1977, by Rick Dikeman, courtesy Wikimedia.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, Separation from the World, Rock, Rap, and Reggae Music -- Five Divine Revelations, Holy Living in a Perverted World, Avoiding Worldly Worship, The Origin of Sin, Satan, and Secular Music, The Rise and Fall of Lucifer the Musician, For the Glory of God AloneThe Straight and Narrow Path, Ask for the Ancient Paths, Remember Lot’s Wife, The Rise of Antichrists, and One Thing. I highly recommend reading, Only the Holy -- Three Shocking Testimonies and Holy Fire Baptism. You may find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Monday, July 31, 2017

God's View of Public Bathing

Dear God-seekers,

At this time of year, as millions flock to the beaches, pools, and water theme parks, Christians are among those throngs, and I suppose that most probably don't give a second thought to what the Lord thinks about it. They certainly won't hear it from their pastors in most cases, so I think it's appropriate to address this here. I am specifically addressing Christians only.

A few years ago, my family and I were among those throngs, but since then the Lord has spoken to us about His holy standards for His people. He requires holiness from us at all times, and without holiness, no man will see the Lord (Heb 12:14). When the Lord speaks about holiness in His Word, it applies not only to our inward lives, but to the whole person, including our bodies. He requires that even our attire and adornment be godly. All our apparel must be modest, as I have written extensively about in my articles, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Garments of Godliness, and Keeping Your Body Pure and Holy.

It has been a few years since we have been to the beach, and the last time we were there, we went in the evenings with our children, after the crowds were gone. While we remained fully dressed, we walked the beach together barefoot along the water's edge, as the waves lapped over our feet. It was a very beautiful time together beholding the majesty of God's creation, the powerful ocean with its surf and salty smell, as we walked with our feet in the water, collecting shells that we found along the way. Of course, there were still other people around, but not the usual crowds that are there during the daytime. I have included a photo above of one of those occasions, which was at Hampton Beach, New Hampshire in July 2013.

Hampton Beach, NH, USA in May 2011
The main issue with these places is that the clothing that people usually wear for swimming and sunbathing essentially provides the same amount of coverage of their bodies as their underwear does. Take for example the bikini bathing suit that women commonly wear. When a woman dresses like that in public, it is no different in God's sight than if she were walking around in public wearing a bra and panties. The only difference is the kind of fabric and the colors, but the body coverage is about the same. In fact, her bathing suit may even expose more of her body than her bra and panties would! Even other styles of bathing suits for women, such as one-piece suits, are not modest, because they expose most of a woman's body. The same is true of men's bathing suits, which cover about as much of their bodies as a pair of underpants would. Men's bathing trunks provide coverage similar to either boxer briefs or tight, stretch underwear. There are even bikinis and thongs for men, which are obscene!

This is not the way God's holy people are supposed to be dressed. It is worldly, immodest, and indecent, which is sinful. We are supposed to be separate from the world, peculiar, and pure. How can we do so when we are dressed like that in public?

The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: "Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness." (1Ti 2:9-10). The same rule of modesty applies to men in Christ also.

Shells collected at the seashore
You won't find any Scriptural basis for mixed, public bathing. None of the prophets or saints practiced this in the Hebrew Scriptures. Jesus didn't practice it, and neither did His Twelve disciples. In fact, going into an environment like the beach or the poolside is just asking for temptation. All around you, there are people dressed naked and half naked, exposing their bodies for all to see. Some women when they sunbathe will even remove the straps on the back of their bikini top to avoid getting suntan lines on their back. Then there are couples who lay on their blankets together, kissing one another passionately. There are too many scenarios to mention each one specifically. Some of these sights occur very close up, and others happen off in the distance, but all are easily visible to anyone frequenting a beach or pool. If you are honest with yourself, you will admit that the whole atmosphere is permeated by flesh. It is my advice not to go into that kind of an environment and expose yourself to that, if you care about your own soul and the souls of your children.

Jesus said, "But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Mat 5:28).

He also taught us to pray that we would not be led into temptation. In fact, we must abstain from fleshly lusts that war against the soul (1 Pe 2:11). And we are supposed to flee immorality, but these days Christians are flocking to the beaches and swimming pools where inappropriate amounts of flesh are on display. The apostle Paul said, "Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." (1Co 6:18-20).

If you know that the environment at the beach or pool may tempt you, your spouse, or your children, then why would you go there? You are just asking for trouble, by knowingly going into a place where there is temptation. And if you know that you could cause someone else to stumble, possibly even a brother or sister in Christ, then why would you do that? You could cause someone to stumble either by the way you are dressed or simply by your act of going to such a place.

Paul wrote, "Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit...It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles." (Rom 14:16-17, 21)

Shells collected at the seashore
Remember that the Lord will hold you accountable for everything you do while in the body, whether good or bad. "So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God." (Rom 14:12)

Perhaps you are thinking that this is too severe, and we cannot possibly avoid this recreational pastime. Well, the Lord said "If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell." (Mat 5:29). He commanded you to guard your soul by cutting out of your life those things that offend you and others, which could cause you to end up being thrown into hell.

As I already mentioned, I confess that I was once among the throngs of Christians who go to the beach. I was even a Sabbath breaker. Sometimes after church on Sunday I would go with a group of young singles from my church to the beach and play volleyball. The sisters in our group were wearing the kind of immodest attire I have already mentioned, which is displeasing to the Lord. This ought not be so.

Nevertheless, the Scripture warns us, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (Rom 12:2)

Putting it All Together
Whatever you decide to do is your own choice, but I have done my part to sound the alarm. I felt it was necessary to write and warn you about this, since it is so widely accepted in the Church. Please consider this prayerfully and repent, if it is applicable to you. Jesus is coming back very soon. Do you think He is going to rapture you up, while you lay there on the beach among thousands of naked and half naked people, and you yourself are dressed immodestly? He is coming for a holy Bride without spot or wrinkle (Eph 5:27).

If you want to go for a walk along the beach, because you want to see the Lord's beautiful creation, collect seashells, or spend time in prayer there, or read the Bible, and you believe the Lord has given you the liberty to do so for the glory of God, then I suggest you find a time to go there, such as during the cooler months, or in evening or very early morning, when there are far fewer people there. Or find a secluded place away from the  crowds. And if you do go, dress modestly. Please cover your body! Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Author holds exclusive rights to all photos, which are not to be used without permission.

Author's note Also see Garments of Godliness, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Keeping Your Body Pure and Holy, For the Glory of God Alone, Whatever You Do, Do All Like This, The Wardrobe of the SaintsAn Open Mind that Loves the Truth, The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, Separation from the WorldAsk for the Ancient Paths, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, Pleasing the LordIs Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?, Called to be Blameless, Keeping Sundays Holy, and Restored Truth. You can access the Seeking the Lord Main Directory or my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Was Jesus "Seeker Friendly"?

I'd like to explore the topic of being "seeker friendly," which has become so popular today. When I use that expression, I mean that in the sense that it is used in the modern mega churches that like to attract crowds. I mean it in the same sense of the seeker-safe churches that aim to please the non believers in their midst in the hopes that they will find the church to be "relevant." Being "relevant" to the world is esteemed as if it is a biblical commandment in such churches. They assume the music, the atmosphere, the way people talk and dress, all have to be such that the world can relate to them. They typically have their Starbuck's coffee bar, their strobe lights, special effects fog, tight jeans, rocky worship, worldly video clips, and short, 20-minute sermons.

However, the way we go about making disciples should be according to Jesus. So the question is whether Jesus was "seeker friendly," also known as "seeker-sensitive." I believe you will be able to see clearly from Scripture whether or not He was. Here are some passages that will reveal the answer, because they show how Jesus was not out to "win friends and influence people" according to the principles taught by Dale Carnegie. Jesus was not everyone's "yes" man who agreed with whatever they said and told them what they wanted to hear in order to win friends to Himself and make followers out of them. In fact, he often said things that brought correction, reproof, or rebuke to men. He often said things that went directly against the assumptions people made.

Following Jesus Is Harder Than You Think
In the gospel of Matthew, it says, "Then a scribe came and said to Him, 'Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.' Jesus said to him, 'The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.' Another of the disciples said to Him, 'Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.' But Jesus said to him, 'Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.'" (Mat 8:19-22)

In the first instance, the scribe confidently declared his allegiance to Jesus. But rather than giving him a big hug and welcoming him into the kingdom, Jesus told him that he lacked a place to lay His head, implying that anyone following Him may suffer similar hardships for His sake. The Lord did not use the "seeker friendly" approach with the man by telling him that it would be easy to follow Him.

In the second instance, a disciple requested permission to bury his dead father before following Jesus. But the Lord told him he should not delay following Him, even though that seemed like a valid reason to do so. He counseled the man to let others bury his father, but that he should immediately embark on following Jesus without delay.

A Rich Young Man Seeking Eternal Life
Do you remember how Jesus answered the rich young man who was seeking eternal life?

And someone came to Him and said, "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?" And He said to him, "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." Then he *said to Him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER; YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY; YOU SHALL NOT STEAL; YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS; HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." The young man *said to Him, "All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?" Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. (Mat 19:16-22).

Did the Lord try to attract this man to follow Him by being nice and agreeable? No, He told the man "if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." And He enumerated a few examples of the Ten Commandments in answer to the man's question about which ones. Then when the man confessed that he thought he had kept all those commandments, the Lord even told the man to "go and sell your possessions and give to the poor." As a result of what the Lord said, the man "went away grieving." This is not one of the "seeker-friendly" approaches being used by "seeker-safe" churches today.

Unless You Repent, You Will All Perish
Consider how Jesus responded to those who reported to Him the news about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.

"Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, 'Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.'" (Luk 13:1-5)

The people probably saw the fate of those Galileans as a judgment from God for their sinfulness, and perhaps they expected Jesus to agree with them. However, He did not respond like they expected. He did not strike up a friendly conversation with them, trying to find some common basis on which to build a friendship with them. He told them that unless they repent, they will all perish like those people whose blood Pilate mixed with their sacrifices. In fact, He even gave them another example to prove His point, regarding the eighteen people who perished beneath a falling tower. Telling people to repent or else they will perish is not a typical "seeker friendly" approach.

None of Those Men Shall Taste My Dinner
Another great example to consider is how Jesus responded to the man at the table with Him, who remarked about the blessedness of those who will eat in the kingdom of God. The man probably assumed he himself was among those who would eat in the kingdom, but look at how the Lord responded.

"When one of those who were reclining at the table with Him heard this, he said to Him, 'Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!' But He said to him, 'A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, "Come; for everything is ready now." But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, "I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused." Another one said, "I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused." Another one said, "I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come." And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, "Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame." And the slave said, "Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room." And the master said to the slave, "Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner."'" (Luk 14:15-24)

In the Lord's response, He showed that none of those who are invited to God's banquet in heaven, and who make excuses, would ever taste of His dinner. Just because they have been invited does not mean they will be able to eat in the kingdom of God. Obviously this was not a standard "seeker friendly" approach to getting this man who was eating with Him to become one of His followers.

The High Standard for Discipleship
One last example will suffice to make my point. Jesus did not lower the standard for heaven in order to attract more people. In fact, when large crowds were going along with Him, He turned many people away by what He said.

"Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, 'If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, "This man began to build and was not able to finish." Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.'" (Luk 14:25-35)

In this passage, the Lord said many things that the large crowds with Him would have found hard to bear. He said that if anyone comes to Him, he must hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life. He said that if anyone does not do so, they cannot be His disciple. He said that anyone who does not carry his cross and come after Him cannot be His disciple. They must be cross-bearing followers of Jesus. Nothing else would do. He also said that none of those present there in the crowd could be His disciple unless he would give up all his own possessions. Rather than get them to say a quick prayer and treat them as one of His followers by virtue of the fact that they were going along with Him, He instead counseled them to go and count the cost of being one of His disciples. He emphasized that there would be a great cost. In fact, He indicated that it would cost them everything. These are not the words of a "seeker friendly" preacher who wants to attract the crowds to follow the Lord.

Putting it All Together
Through these examples from Scripture, I have shown that Jesus gave people plenty of reasons to walk away from Him. He only wanted those who were serious and willing to pay the price. He upheld the high standard of the kingdom of heaven, and did not back down one inch for anyone. He preached against sin and taught that sincere repentance is required to be saved.

Yet today so many preachers are giving people a watered-down message and making it easy for them to enter the kingdom. They are trying to attract the crowds by being "seeker-friendly" and "seeker-sensitive," but this is not the Scriptural pattern given by the Lord in His ministry. They are preaching another gospel than the one Jesus preached -- a gospel without repentance. Rather than preaching against sin, they are preaching what David Wilkerson once called "The Gospel of Accommodation." They are failing this generation. They are doing a disservice to the Lord and His kingdom, because they are giving those people the illusion that becoming a disciple of Christ is easy. And they are persuading those who make "decisions for Christ" to think that they have become true disciples of Christ, when in fact they have not, but have actually joined a false representation of Christianity.

There are many churches like these today, but we need to get back to the gospel. We need to get back to following the pattern that Jesus gave us for making disciples. We need to give people the truth and not a candy-coated message or church experience. We may get fewer numbers of people, but at least they will be true disciples, and not crowd followers.

What about you? Are you a crowd follower or a true disciple of Jesus Christ? Are you an easy believer or have you made the decision to take up your cross and follow Jesus? I hope this article has served as a wake up call for you to show you your true spiritual condition and that of your church. And if you know that you are in right standing with God, then why not share this with those you love, so they can be, too?

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you would like to become a disciple, consider enrolling in our Doulos Training School. You are invited to read The Top Ten Things Jesus TaughtWisdom for Wealthy Preachers and Prosperity TeachersThe Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer, The Cost of DiscipleshipPopularity of the GospelMichael Shigaba's Encounter with Jesus, Strive to Enter the Kingdom of God, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, A Warning for Married Christian Couples, Rachael Mushala Testimony of Hell, Rachael Mushala Second Testimony of HellZipporah Mushala's testimony of hell, Zipporah Mushala’s Third Testimony of Hell, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?, Alcohol and Cigarettes -- Ten Divine Revelations, Keeping Sundays Holy - Part I, Keeping Sundays Holy - Part II, Rock, Rap, and Reggae Music -- Three Divine Revelations, The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, Separation from the World, Life Transformation Groups, and Ask for the Ancient Paths. You may access the Main Directory for this Seeking the Lord blog for more articles like this, as well as my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

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Baptized by Blazing FireTaken to HellAngelica Zambrano Second Visit to Hell
Australian Pastor Raised from the DeadNigerian Pastor Raised from the DeadRevelation of Hell to Seven Colombian Youths

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.