The King Is Coming!

The King is coming!  Did you catch what I just said?  The King is coming!  Not only did He say in John 14:1-3 that He was coming, but the prophetic signs are all around us signaling that He’s coming.  Can you see it, too?  I hope so.  Sadly, though, it seems like the majority of Christians in America are apathetic to this truth, and it seems like it’s getting worse the closer we get to that event.


In the past few days I have heard two different Bible teachers mention the phrase, the King is Coming.  The first one I heard was in a message a well-known pastor preached almost 13 years ago, where he was giving a brief review of the mindsets of the Church and how they changed starting from the time of the Apostles to the present.  The second time I heard the phrase this week was in an interview that took place just within the past couple months or so, where the person was describing the current condition of the Church in general.


In the first message, the pastor pointed out that the early Church was continuously looking and expecting Jesus, the King, to return at any given moment.  This was the mindset of the Church until the fifth century when Augustine concluded that the Book of Revelation was just an allegory.  It was at this point that the Church decided that the Book of Revelation was simply filled with symbolism and adopted the mindset that is now commonly known as “Kingdom Now”, holding to the belief that it was up to the Church to conquer the world and establish the Kingdom of God here on earth.  It wasn’t until after the Civil War that some pastors determined this belief had failed, and that this was not a Biblically sound teaching for the simple reason that you can’t have a kingdom without a king.  It was only at this point, the point in which they began to get their theology right, that the wheels of prophetic fulfillment began to turn, something that hadn’t happened in over 1500 years.  Then, in 1906 a revival broke out on Azusa Street, and it was during that time when the Church began to realize and proclaim that the King is coming.  It was only then that the wheels of prophetic fulfillment went into high gear leading up to the restoration of the nation of Israel, as well as other prophecies being fulfilled faster and faster even as I write this.  One more thing we also need to remember, is that even though Jesus is currently King, He has not yet established His kingdom here on earth, and He won’t do so until He returns at the end of the 7-year Tribulation Period.


In the interview that took place within the past few months, this Bible teacher discussed the current state of affairs for the Church in general.  While this is not true for some churches and Christians, more and more churches are currently forsaking the message proclaiming that the King is coming.  Instead, they’re focusing on messages that feel and sound good, messages around social issues, messages that are culturally relevant, messages of community, and messages about building the Kingdom of God and church growth.  Some are even filled with messages of patriotism more than messages of a heavenly kingdom that awaits faithful followers of Christ.  As a result, there is a very apathetic mindset to Jesus’ return for His Bride, as well as an apathetic or nonchalant attitude regarding their own relationship with Christ.


The message proclaiming that the King is coming should be one of the loudest and most frequent of messages passionately preached and taught within the Church, as well as what is proudly proclaimed when reaching out to the lost.  With the greatly accelerated increase in the fulfillment of Biblical end-time prophecies we’re seeing, that message should be all the louder.  That message should propel us to daily re-evaluate our lives as Christians and make sure we are living right in His eyes, to “set our house in order”, so to speak.  The message that the King is coming should be a staple when we reach out to the lost, letting them know that in spite of all the negative that is happening around us and around the world, there is a hope for those who faithfully follow and serve Jesus.  This is the blessed hope the Apostle Paul mentions in Titus 2:13. This message that the King is coming, this blessed hope Paul mentions in Titus, it is that which the Apostle Paul tells us to comfort other believers with in 1 Thessalonians 4:18 and 1 Thessalonians 5:11, and we need to hear this more and more all the time as we see that day approaching from a Biblical perspective.


I realize that there are some who don’t like or agree with what I write about, and some may actually get offended.  For some, what I write may strike a nerve or two, and if so that may reveal that there are other issues one must address within themselves.  No matter what, I hope and pray that God uses what I write to encourage believers in the faith and in their relationship with Christ, but also to convict where someone may be going astray with the hope they will get back on track.  If something I write doesn’t set well with you, take it to God in prayer and let Him speak to you about it, and search the Scripture and what it has to say as well.  The primary purpose of the Resounding Shophar is to challenge Christians to re-evaluate their lives, to make sure they are ready when the trumpet sounds for Jesus to return for us, His Bride.  This in no way implies that I have it all together myself, but I also continually strive to re-evaluate my life and readiness as the Holy Spirit leads me, trusting that God’s grace has me covered if I maintain a right heart and attitude in all my ways in His eyes.  And, why is this the primary purpose of Resounding Shophar?  It’s simple.  THE KING IS COMING!






John Johansson


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The Hospital That’s Not

Last night my wife and I were having a conversation regarding the direction many churches seem to be going in these last days, and from that conversation an analogy, a word picture of sorts, came to mind that I wanted to share with you.


A few weeks ago, the local community had their annual city cruise event, an event that has gone on for decades.  At this event, car enthusiasts with their friends and families will come from all over the region to show off their cars in car shows, and in the evening join in on a cruise down the biggest and longest street in town.  This event brings in not only car enthusiasts, but also venders and other groups that seek to take advantage of the different opportunities it presents.  This year was no different than the previous years, but this time the River Medical Center, a large local hospital, decided to be a part of the festivities.


The River Medical Center, also known as RMC, was looking for new ways to make themselves known to the community.  In a city with four large hospitals, it was important to the administration to get their name out there and to let the community know they were there for them.  It was for these reasons that the RMC administration decided to participate in this year’s annual city cruise event.


In their planning, the RMC administration decided not to say or do anything at the event relating to the medicine and procedures at their disposal, or even of the various health issues they dealt with.  To avoid offending anyone, especially the other local hospitals, or to appear that they were only interested in a particular segment of the community, all they wanted to do was to make themselves known to the community, and that everyone was welcomed to come visit them.  So, it was decided that they would set up the biggest tent they could, have as many of the medical staff on hand helping, music classics of the 1940’s and 1950’s associated with cars and cruising being played, and would hand out hundreds of hats and t-shirts with their name on it.  They even had on display classic cars some of their staff owned; a 1969 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, a 1957 Chevy Bel Air, and a 1955 Ford Thunderbird, among others.


Their plans were a great success.  They saw a great response from those attending the event, and all that they were able to hand out reflected the amount of people they were able to attract.  They were also very successful in not mentioning any of the medicine and procedures they have at their disposal, or even of the various health issues they are equipped to handle, keeping conversations focused around cars and activities, friends and family, as well as around memories of past cruises.  At the end of the night, all the people knew was that RMC was another hospital in town, and that they loved cars and cruising just as much as they do.


Over the days and weeks that followed this year’s event, RMC experienced a significant increase of those visiting the hospital, and talk spread fast throughout the community about RMC and the great presence they had at the event.  Seeing and hearing the great response they were getting from their participation in this year’s annual cruise event, the RMC administration was riding an emotional high and looking forward to the next big event they could participate in.  They were growing, and they wanted to grow even more.


When people would visit the RMC, the staff was quick to make the person feel welcomed and to give them a tour of the place.  In the tour, people would see the various rooms and offices of the place, some of the equipment they had there, as well as the cafeteria and gift store they had on the premises.  Those who felt welcomed and comfortable there and really liked what they saw, they were quickly encouraged to become a part in telling others about RMC and helping however they could, including in the area of finances.


The River Medical Center was doing great.  They were experiencing a greater presence and reputation in the community, more people were coming to visit them, more people were helping them do various things, and the finances were really beginning to roll in.  Despite all the growth, there was a problem, a pretty significant problem at that.  Amid all this growth and attention RMC was experiencing, only a very small portion was actually seeking and receiving medical attention and healing.  On the other hand, some were only told how to change thoughts and behaviors dealing with symptoms they were experiencing without really dealing with core issues and taking the appropriate steps to deal with them.  And there were still some who thought that since they were visiting the RMC and helping where they could, they had no need for the medical services of the hospital not realizing they had serious health issues that needed to be dealt with.  In essence, from the tour and their willingness to help, they got just enough of what was available to them that they thought they had no need of anything else, a vaccine of sorts.


What I just described is a picture of what many churches are becoming.  In their quest to grow and become a light to their community, many will avoid saying or doing anything that might offend someone or hurt their churches potential growth.  Often times this includes not addressing sin on any level, except to say it’s a sin to not be helping, doing or loving others.  There is very little to nothing said of each person being born dead in sin, and that it is only through Jesus and ones surrender to Him, that one can become alive and be free of sin and the penalty of sin.  Nothing is really said of what sin is, or why and how Jesus is the only one who can save us from it, much less anything pertaining to the necessity of the cross and what that represents to followers of Christ.  And, there is even less said of how Christians need to live free of sin and our need to maintain an attitude of repentance to Jesus for any sin in our life as we endeavor to live for Him.  While it is true that we need to hear preaching and teaching on God’s grace, love, mercy and forgiveness, it is also true that we need to equally hear of sin, holiness, and God’s judgment upon unrepented sin for both the believer and the unbeliever.  If we don’t hear preaching and teaching on all of this, as well as Bible prophecy for the days we live in and which are ahead, then we are not getting the full counsel of God.  In fact, to leave any of that out compromises what the gospel of Jesus, or the good news of Jesus, is all about, leaving us with a watered-down and sugar-coated gospel that is grossly incomplete and misleading.  The sickness every single person deals with is called sin, the core issue and cause of man’s moral and spiritual condition, and unless sin is properly and completely dealt with in a person’s life, that person cannot experience the healing and deliverance God makes available to each of us through Jesus.  To leave sin out of our teaching and preaching is to do nothing more than teach others how to deal with or hide the symptoms of sin in their lives.  Just as the hospital in the picture I presented isn’t really operating as a hospital, in the same way many churches are not truly operating as church.  Perhaps this is a part of the deception Jesus and the Apostles spoke of that would be present within the church in the last days?


So, let us be messengers of the full gospel or good news of Jesus, sharing with others as God gives us opportunity to do so.  Let it never be said of us that we never told people all they needed to know to live as true disciples of Christ.


John Johansson


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Recess Is Over

As a kid growing up, I remember looking forward to the recess period at school. It was a break away from “school” stuff, an opportunity to get out and have fun with others doing whatever we wanted, within reason of course. The last thing we wanted to hear was the bell or the whistle signaling that it was time to get in line before heading back to class. Do you remember those times?

For the past several years, and probably for decades, a lot of Christians and churches have been out on the school yard having recess. To better explain what I mean by that, let’s look back at those times when we would have recess at school. Maybe you can relate? The first thing that I remember about recess was the strong desire to go to recess. Sometimes this was because I just wanted to hang out with some friends and have some fun, especially if I had friends in another class. Other times it was simply because I was bored with what we were doing in class, and I had energy I wanted to use up playing King of the Hill, 9-square, flag football, or whatever was the big thing to do at that time. Oh, how I wish I now had just a portion of the energy I had back then. Sometimes what we were doing in class was so challenging, intense, or monotonous and repetitious, I would feel like my brain was fried and needed a reprieve of some sort, and recess provided that reprieve for me.

For one reason or another, many Christians have gone to the play ground for recess. Maybe it’s because the social scene, online or in real life, is more important to you than living the Christian life in pursuit of Jesus, feeling the urge to get with friends and have fun? Perhaps living the Christian life just isn’t fun for you, possibly lacking the adrenalin rush and excitement that you craved, and so you decided to take a more casual approach to Christianity, choosing instead to pursue and indulge in whatever excited you or gave you some sense of satisfaction. Oh, you didn’t leave Jesus or the Christian life completely, but you “chilled” enough to follow the desires and cravings you had for as long as you could, all with the thinking that you might return to class and start taking your studies and relationship with Christ seriously again. Christianity in its purest sense just isn’t what you thought it should be, that it’s lacking somewhat, and so you’re taking a spiritual recess of sorts. Or, could it be that you felt that the Christian life is just too draining and burdensome, maybe too complicated at times, and you just felt like you needed a breather of sorts, a reprieve.

So, now you’ve made it to the playground. Now what? When we had recess, we didn’t go somewhere else. The playground was right there at the school. In the same way, many Christians are playing and having recess right there at church. They didn’t leave the church. They just left the classroom for the playground. I mentioned earlier that I remembered spending recess doing things like playing 9-square, flag football, King of the Hill, and tether-ball, whatever was the big thing at the time, but what could it look like on the spiritual playground within church circles? To understand what it may look like to be on the playground, we need to first identify what it looks like in the classroom.

In the spiritual classroom within the Church, or in other words the spiritual classroom of life, we’re taught what it means to be a disciple and a follower of Christ. We learn the heart of Jesus and what is called the Great Commission and how to live that in our own life. We learn not only that we are ambassadors of Christ, but also what that means and how we can represent Him to a lost and dying world. And with all of that, we also learn both the how and the importance of right living in the sight of Jesus, and that Jesus is coming back for His Bride at any moment, a watching Bride that has kept her garments clean, spotless and without wrinkles or blemishes. These are just some of the things we learn in the classroom, and it’s not always fun or exciting. In fact, sometimes it gets rough and tough, intense at times, but like any professional athlete or soldier would tell you as they strive to be the best that they can be in that, it’s going through those times that help make you into the person God has intended for you to be.

It’s on the playground that Christians play “church”. Just as there were different games and activities we might get involved in during recess, and how that would change from time to time, there are different games and activities that Christians on the playground will get involved in. On the playground, Christians will pursue that which “tickles” their itchy ears, that which feels good and doesn’t expect much of them in return, something that doesn’t challenge or infringe on their comforts, or something that isn’t inconvenient and demanding. No matter what it is, in varying degrees they will stray from sound doctrine and Biblical teaching to follow and embrace that which takes Scripture out of context or twists it to match and support their beliefs and agendas. Jesus warned us that in the last days deception would be great, and that we as Christians need to be aware that we do not get deceived.

What are some of the games and activities we can find on the spiritual playground within the church? Maybe you’ve heard of some of these. There’s the hyper-grace game, the Social Gospel game, the Emergent Church and Seeker Sensitive games, the Kingdom Now, Church Growth and community games and activities. Each of these games and activities no doubt has within themselves an element of truth that they gleaned from the classroom, truths that need not be forsaken, but games that divert our attention away from where it needs to be. I recently learned of a form of deception that is very deceptive, and that is misdirection. This kind of deception diverts our attention away from where it needs to be and onto things that are less important or draws our focus away from where it’s supposed to be. Regarding Christianity, our focus needs to be on what I mentioned is found in the classroom, and not what is found on the playground, and many of these games and activities on the playground deceive us into diverting our attention away from where it needs to be.

Well, the bell and the whistle are sounding indicating that it’s time to get in line to reenter the classroom. As we watch the fulfillment of Biblical end-time prophesy cross the headlines of the various news sources, we realize that Jesus is returning very, very soon. We are literally on the precipice of the Gog-Magog war mentioned in Ezekiel 38-39, a war that most scholars believe takes place shortly after the Rapture of the Church. A lot of Christians are looking at how things are transpiring here within America, ignoring what is happening in the Middle East and especially with Israel, almost as if they think America is God’s prophetic time piece for the last days. We are seeing a great apostasy, as Scripture tells us would take place leading up to His return, where more and more Christians are for one reason or another are giving little heed to answering the Great Commission, forsaking the sound Biblical teaching of the Rapture, especially the pre-tribulation rapture, as well as sound doctrine of what it means to be a follower of Christ and Jesus’ command for His followers to be watching for His return. We are so close people, and now is the time to exit the playground if that’s where you’ve been and return to the classroom to learn and seriously pursue your relationship with Jesus.

Recess Is Over!!!!


John Johansson


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World Changers!

The world we now live in is going through a lot of changes.  We’re seeing it economically, socially, politically, and even religiously, just to name a few.  These changes are coming about as a result of political corruption and political agendas, various people groups claiming and demanding their rights at the expense of others, the overflow of violence and ideologies bleeding over into other cultures and societies that don’t share in their way of life, as well as the desire of various religious groups seeking ways to be more appealing and acceptable in the eyes of society.  Much of what we are seeing is a reflection of the overall perceptions of people where what is evil is now considered good, and what is good is now considered evil.


When I think of world changers, I think of something written by a physician in the first century named Luke.  In Acts 17:6, Luke quotes the statement made by some about the Apostle Paul and Silas, as well as other Christians, when they dragged Jason and others before the rulers of the city; “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.”  What a statement that is, validating the ministry and influence of the Apostles and Christians on the world at that time.  They apparently had a tremendous impact on communities wherever they went, an impact that couldn’t be ignored.


Several years ago I had the privilege of sharing a message to graduating students, and the message I shared focused on the above passage.  In the days we now live in, I believe many, especially youth and young adults, are looking for a cause not only to live for, but one that is worth dying for, and when they find it they will be effective in impacting the world around themselves for that cause.  That is how we need to view and live our lives for Christ and the Gospel.  Are we willing not only to live for Jesus, but are we also willing to die giving ourselves for Him and to Him?


So, how do we change and impact the world around us for Christ?  While there are many different opinions out there on how Christians and churches are to accomplish that, I wonder what we can learn from Scripture and 2,000 years of history.  Do you want, as I do, to impact and turn the world around you upside down for Jesus?  Please know that as I write this I’m also talking to myself, looking at how I fall short in this area and what I need to do to change that in my life.


“These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.”  What were these men doing to illicit such a charge against themselves?  They were simply living a life blameless before God and man, boldly proclaiming whenever they could the good news of Jesus, manifesting signs and wonders to support and confirm the message they were proclaiming, all along with a strong conviction to give their lives for the furtherance of the gospel even if it meant death.  That is all we really read about in the Book of Acts and the rest of the New Testament.  Is this the model we must follow if we are to impact and transform our communities for Christ, or should we consider a different approach more in line with current culture and society?


While I couldn’t put a name on it until recently, I’ve seen over the past several years a push by some churches that have sought to impact and transform their communities through community involvement and works.  Yes, one way of outreach to the community is through community involvement and works, but to seek to impact and transform a community in this manner is like “getting the cart before the horse”.  Often times I’ve heard it said that the harvest field is outside the four walls of the church, but it seems like the majority of the time the community outreaches some employ are simply ways to entice people to come to church, and not so much pointing them to the cross where there is salvation, hope, and healing for them.  It’s almost as if they are trying to move the harvest field they talk about back into the four walls of the church instead of reaching them where they are at.  I’m reminded of a powerful movie that stars Gavin MacLeod, one that you should see if you haven’t already.  In the movie, Time Changer, it takes a look at how the push for morality apart from the name of Jesus deteriorates over time, and that we can never leave Jesus out of the equation.  In the same manner, community involvement without the proclaiming of Jesus and the good news of the gospel will become a community minded church with a very weak message of salvation to the very ones they seek to reach.


I mentioned the phrase “getting the cart before the horse”, and this is what I mean by that.  The approach of some churches is to impact a community through community involvement and works, expecting people to come to church and receive salvation when they do.  However, this is the opposite approach we see God used both in the Bible and the great revivals of the last 2,000 years.  The approach we see God using is what I described a couple paragraphs earlier.  When the early church took the approach as I described a couple paragraphs earlier, people were not only getting saved, but they were getting transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, and as a result the communities were being transformed and turned upside down for Christ.  The transformation of the communities came as a result of lives being transformed by the Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit, and not the other way around.


When we look at the great revivals of the past, we see the same thing happening.  The focus was to reach the lost with the Gospel of Jesus, calling sinners to repentance with signs and wonders confirming the message, and where they experienced the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.  It was then that bars and saloons were shut down, gambling halls closed their doors, and places of prostitution were put out of business.  In one revival, the Welsh Revival, it was reported that the work animals had to be retrained in regards to the commands they were given, commands that were once made up of obscenities and profanities were replaced with more appropriate and wholesome commands.


The focus of the early church and the great revivals of the past was not to impact and transform a community, but instead to point sinners to the cross for salvation, which as a result impacted and transformed communities.


The approach by some in recent years is to use what is referred to as a “missional” approach.  In this approach the idea is to be community minded, involved in community events and practical works.  They seek to live and reach out to people in the way that they think Jesus did; through community involvement, practical works, not holding people accountable for sin that is clearly identified as such in the Bible, being tolerant of other people’s beliefs, and being as appealing and attractive as possible to society and culture.  Several years ago a well-known pastor put together a guide for churches seeking to attract people to their church.  In this guide he pointed out that churches needed to do away with anything that might deter people from coming to their church, or that might make people feel uncomfortable for being there.  Some of the things he mentioned was to eliminate from the premises any crosses, to avoid any singing, preaching or teaching about the cross or the blood of Christ, and to definitely not mention or deal with sin or the repentance of it in any way.  This approach has the form of godliness but denies the power of God as the Apostle Paul told Timothy would be present in the last days (2 Timothy 3:1-9)


In regards to Jesus, the apostles and the early church, I’m not sure how they come up with how they lived to support their approach.  Where do we see in Scripture that their ministry was made up of community involvement and practical works?  Yes, we read of Jesus’ illustrated sermon washing the disciple’s feet on one occasion, but that is the only time that we see or hear of Him doing anything practical, so to speak.  And we can see from the disciple’s response that doing anything practical like this was not something they ever saw Him do before.  What Jesus was trying to convey to them was a mindset like He had (Philippians 2:5-11), willing to do whatever the Father asked of them to do no matter how low or hard it was.  If Jesus was wanting them to do practical works as a primary means of ministry and reaching the lost, then they apparently missed the point as we can see in Acts 6:1-7 they focused their attention on prayer and the ministry of the Word, giving to specially appointed disciples the responsibility of meeting the necessary practical works.


We also read in John 10:32 that Jesus did many good works that He had shown from the Father.  And in Acts 10:38 we read how that Jesus was anointed by the Father with the Holy Spirit and with power, doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil.  Yes, Jesus did many good works; healing the sick, raising the dead, opening blind eyes and deaf ears, casting out demons, feeding thousands, changing water to wine, calming the winds and the waves, walking on water, talking to the forbidden and forgiving the judged.  To say that the good works mentioned in these passages were practical works ignores the context in which they were written, and it’s inconsistent with what we read regarding Jesus, the Apostles, and the early church.  Not only that, but Jesus also tells us in John 14:12 that not only will we do the works that He did, but greater works we will also do because He will go to the Father.  Each of these passages refers to the spiritual, signs and wonders, and not the practical works as some would like us to believe.


What am I trying to say?  If we are to see a community impacted and transformed for Christ, then it needs to start with living lives blameless before God and man, boldly proclaiming the good news of the Gospel, manifesting signs and wonders to confirm the message being given, and a strong conviction to give our lives completely to Him and the furtherance of the Gospel, even if it means to our death.  Community involvement and practical works, though good and a form of outreach to the lost, will never reach and transform a community if that is our mindset and focus apart from what we see in Jesus, the Apostles, the early church, and in the great revivals of the past.


If you want to be a world changer, to see your community impacted and transformed for Christ, then it has to start with prayer.  While prayer for the needs of others is great and important, prayer for the lost and the manifesting of the power of His Holy Spirit in our lives to reach the lost needs to become our hearts cry.  If we are to impact our community, then we need to make sure we are living blameless before God and man.  If we are to see souls saved and lives transformed, then we need to have more boldness to proclaim Christ to those we come in contact with, seizing the opportunities that God gives us to this end.  If we are to see lives reached and communities set ablaze for Christ, then we need to become instruments God uses to manifest the power of the Holy Spirit in signs and wonders to confirm the message.  Jesus said for those that believe signs and wonders will follow (Mark 16:15-18), and again He said we would be baptized with the power to be witnesses to Him (Acts 1:8).


Be a world changer for Christ!  I want to be a world changer for Jesus, and my prayer is that He will make me more of one for Him in my life.  What about you????


John Johansson (Pastor John)

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Is It Time For Some Shaking?

Can you think of a time in your life when you were flat out terrified? Perhaps it was a dream you had, or a time when you thought you were going to be attacked by someone or something terrifying.  Maybe you were a witness to someone getting in a major accident, or you found yourself unexpectedly free-falling from a height unimaginable or standing in front of an audience where all eyes were on you.  No matter the situation, you more than likely had a physical response to this terrifying experience that was out of the norm.  In the book of James we see how demons physically respond when terrified.


In James 2:19 the writer makes the following statement. “You believe that there is one God.  You do well.  Even the demons believe – and tremble!”  Even demons tremble at the thought of God!  Wow!  If they physically tremble at the mention of God, how is it that many can be so cavalier and flippant about the presence of God?  I’m not talking about those in right relationship with Christ as they find comfort in His presence yet maintain a sense of reverence and awe of Him.  I’m talking about those who seem to have little regard for Him and His presence, not really taking Him serious, thinking they are okay because they said a prayer, go to church, or sing in the choir.  Is it possible that these people are so self-absorbed that they give little, if any, thought about the Creator of the ends of the universe, the same one that can destroy body and soul in hell?


Okay, we just saw the physical response of demons when it comes to God, but what about humans? Do we have a similar example of a human when it comes to God?  I believe we do in the person of King Belshazzar as recorded in the book of Daniel in chapter five.  In this account, he has just summoned for the gold and silver vessels taken from the temple in Jerusalem to be used for a party he was having.  This was an act of mockery and disregard towards the one and true living God.  After having done so, a man’s hand appeared and began to write on the wall to be observed by those there, including King Belshazzar.  In verse six we read what the Kings physical response was to this event.  In a nutshell, much like many of us who have been faced with a terrifying experience, his body simply became like Jello with knees knocking.  Nothing or no one touched him, but he was so terrified by what he saw that it shook him to the core.


As we can see from the above examples, just because someone is terrified at the mention or presence of God does not mean they will repent and get their lives right with God through Christ. This just goes to show how strong ones free will is, and how that God will not override that free will to save someone.  Oh, he may override ones free will to accomplish His will or to make Himself known to someone, but He will never override their free will when it comes to salvation.  We can see this in the lives of Pharaoh and Jezebel.  Even after all the things God did to persuade Pharaoh to release the Jews, he still chose to buck God and do his own thing.  As for Jezebel, even after Elijah’s showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel and the overwhelming and decisive way that God made Himself known to the people, she still chose to do her own thing and threaten the man of God.  And we can see these same type of responses in many people in our day.  It doesn’t matter what God says or does, no matter how persuasive and powerful He shows Himself to be, there are still some will choose for one reason or another to reject God and His son, Jesus.


But back to the main issue I want to address in this blog. We live in a time when God is not esteemed as He should rightfully be, taking Him and His presence so lightly.  Many churches have become more of a social gathering and a place of gourmet coffees and snacks instead of the place of worship and respect for the God to whom we claim we serve.  I remember a time when drinks and food were not allowed in church, that the sanctuary was not a playground, and when the disrespectful talking and conversations going on during worship or the message was not tolerated.  How is it that we have become so irreverent towards the house of God, His Word, or even His presence?  I’m reminded of Ananias and Sapphira and how they were smitten dead on the spot for lying to the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes I wonder what God will do to restore the reverence we have so trampled on in the pursuit of making people “feel” welcomed and comfortable in church.  And what about the price many choose to pay for the sake of “fellowship”.  We can have fellowship in many different ways and at various other times, but do we treat it as though it is more important than our corporate time with Him, and as saints of old would do, being patient and pressing in to Him all the more?  I find myself wondering if we really don’t care about Him and what pleases Him, being more concerned about our own personal agendas and what we think is more important.


How about you? Are you one that has shown little, if any, reverence and regard for Christ in your life and at church?  If so, what would it take for that to change in your life?  Would it require a hand appearing out of nowhere writing on a wall?  Would it take the sudden and unexpected death of someone in a church service that was being so flippant about the house of God and His presence?  I hope you’re not one of these people, and that you are ever in awe and reverence of Him no matter where you go or who you’re with, especially at church.  If not, I strongly encourage you to take this to prayer and ask God to change your heart and attitude towards Him into that which is healthy and right in His sight.

What’s Keeping You from Church?

Over the years I’ve seen and heard of many who have stopped  going to church for one reason or another, and sadly the trend just seems to be  growing.  On several occasions I have had  conversations with people who have stopped going to church, and for them they  feel very justified in it.  Most not only  shared why they’ve stopped going, but were also very transparent into their  thought processes that they felt legitimized their decision. There were also  some who acknowledged they had stopped going to church but couldn’t point to  any particular reason except to say that life got in the way.  While there are numerous reasons why people  stop going to church, I believe that there two core reasons that are the basis  for the countless other reasons people give, and I want to take a look a brief  look at them.

Before we get into the core reasons why I believe many stop  going to church, I first want to remind ourselves of what Paul tells us in Hebrews  10:24-25, and also to take a look into some of the reasons some have given for  not going to church.

Paul tells us in Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJV);       24.  And let us consider one another in order to  stir up love and good works,       25.  not forsaking the assembling of ourselves  together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the  more as you see the Day approaching.

Paul tells us three things in this passage; 1) to consider  others by, 2) not forsaking or neglecting the gathering of “ourselves” together  and, 3) especially all the more as we see that day of His return  approaching.  Paul is telling us that our  time gathering with other believers is not just for us, but it is for  others.  To not go for reasons focused on  self is simple selfishness.  Apparently  there was an issue in Paul’s day with people not being faithful to the  assembling together of the brethren for him to address it, so it’s not a new  issue.  Paul also instructs us to make  sure we are faithful more and more as we see that Day approaching, yet in the  midst of so much prophecy unfolding before our very eyes alerting us to His  soon return the churches are becoming more and more empty.  Something is wrong with this picture, would  you agree?

I want to set the record straight by saying that our  attendance record in gathering with other believers at that house of God is not  the determining factor to your place in eternity, but the reasons behind that  attendance record could be.  Some try to  make an issue of one’s attendance record to church as an eternal one, and that  is wrong.  The issue shouldn’t be so much  what our attendance record is as much as the reasons behind it.  Let me explain with an example.  A person may work at a hospital, a prison or  even a fire department, and because of it there are times that they are  required to work a shift that conflicts with getting together with fellow  believers at times, and I would consider those as legitimate reasons.  On the other hand, and I’ve seen this a lot,  a person may ‘conveniently’ accept a job, work overtime, or even request  specific shifts that will conflict with church as an excuse for not going.  They have no intentions on going, and if they  can ‘conveniently’ work when the two conflict then it helps their conscious and  keeps others and their questions at bay.

So, what are some reasons people have given for not  attending church?  One of the biggest  reasons given is hypocrisy.  They note  how some claim to be Christians but in their opinion aspects of that person’s  life or character do not seem to match that claim, and they don’t want any part  in it.  Another reason is because they’ve  been hurt in some way by others in the church, and they don’t see why they need  to stay and be vulnerable to getting hurt again.  Oh, and what about this one?  For whatever reason they expected God to move  in some way in their life but when He didn’t as they thought He should they  concluded it wasn’t real and that it was just a scam of some sort to get people’s  money.  Even though the list of reasons  could go on and on, I want to through one more out at you.  Some have stopped simply because they got  caught up in life, whether it was in some form of recreation and hobbies, the  pursuit to make more money or further a career, business or education, to  travel, to rest, or to just hang out with friends or family.  No matter what the reason given is, they  always seem justified in them.

I recently wrote an article called, “Yes, but God  understands …”, and you can almost see the same mindset I shared in that  article in these reasons to not be faithful to church.  God understands each of the reasons one may  give for not going to church, so whether or not God understands is not the  issue or the question.  The question is,  however, does our view of God’s understanding of our reasons truly match up  with God’s understanding of them?  In  other words, does our picture of God understanding accurately and truly match  up with God’s understanding of them?

At the core of many of the reasons people give for not being  faithful to church are one of two reasons.   The first reason is found in that it is not a priority.  We tend to view church and gathering with  other believers as something optional if it’s convenient and we feel up to  it.  One of the things that gets under my  skin is when people put more stock and importance on being faithful to work or  school even when it’s not convenient or they’re not feeling good, but when it  comes to church they have a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude.  God, Jesus, the Creator of the ends of the  universe, desires and instructs us to be faithful in gathering with other  believers, where we can receive from Him in much greater ways than we ever  could from an employer or teacher.  There  is something to be said when believers gather together to seek Him in a  corporate setting that you won’t get in any other venue of any size.  We should value time with Him, the Creator of  the ends of the universe, and with fellow believers more importantly than  anybody or anything else.  It’s not just  an issue of priorities regarding His place in our lives, because many will  argue they can pray and worship Him just as well if not better at home or with  a small group of people, but do we value and prioritize His instructions to us,  His “followers”?  Many try to separate their  relationship with God apart from their interaction with fellow believers and  His Word, but that can’t be done.  If you  value interaction with fellow believers and obeying His Word as unimportant,  then your relationship with Him is lacking and not what you think it is.  So, one of the core reasons many stop going  to church is because they do not place a high priority, in fact the highest  priority, on Him and His Word.  When He’s  not the top and highest priority in your life, then something or someone is an  idol to you, and He strongly frowns upon idolatry.

The second core reason why many stop going to church is  because their eyes are on man more than they are on Jesus.  When one’s eyes are more on a man than on  Jesus, they then become very vulnerable to allowing the hurts, the offenses,  and the ungodly (un-Biblical) teaching of some to push them away.  We will all experience hurts and at times be  offended by someone, that is a given, but when our eyes are more on man than on  Jesus it becomes extremely difficult to overcome and press through.  When we’re hurt and offended it’s easy to start  using others as an excuse for not following Him and His Word, excuses Jesus  will not allow or accept when each of us stand before Him to be judged.  When we allow someone to keep us from being  faithful to church for whatever reason, we’ve then allowed them to be more  influential to us than Jesus Himself.   Yes, we could talk about those who have hurt or offended us that keep us  away, but it could also be because we value other people and their opinions  more highly than Gods.  In either case,  our eyes are more on man than on Jesus, which is also idolatry.  Since my youth I have observed something that  touches on this, and as I share it keep in mind that we are simply asking the  question, “What is keeping you from church?”, and how that our eyes being more  on man than on Jesus plays into that.  It  could also fall under the area of Jesus not being in His rightful place in our  lives as well.  As I mentioned, ever  since my youth I have observed something regarding people and going to  church.  We’ve been mentioning some of  the ‘negative’ reasons for this, but there is a reason that in itself doesn’t  seem to be negative but is just as dangerous.   I’ve noticed how that when people have friends or family visiting them  they deal with this in either one of two ways.   One way that I’ve observed people handle this is that they invite their  visitors to go with them to church, citing that following Jesus is the highest  priority in their life and for their family, and one way that is lived out is  to be faithful as a family to church.  I’ve  heard how that there have been times the visitors went with them, or they chose  to leave, or to wait at the house for when they returned.  Sometimes the visitors were also Christians,  and sometimes they were not, but the approach was the same.  The second way that I’ve observed people  handling this is to just not go.  It didn’t  matter if they were friends or family, Christians or not, they were content  with staying home with them.  Sometimes  their rational was that they wanted more time to sit and talk or to do some  activity with them, and at other times it was because they were afraid of  offending them in some way.  Wow, what  does that tell God?  Here we are  ambassadors of Christ with the task of reconciling men to Him, yet we ignore or  downplay opportunities to do just that because we want social time or afraid of  offending someone?  If they’re not  Christians, wouldn’t we want to take them to church where God might reach them  and they can have an opportunity to meet fellow believers?  Besides, if they don’t see and believe with  our lives and our priorities that God is the most important person in our life  and of the highest priority, then what message are we saying to them as to how  important He is, or is not, to us?  And  if they are Christians, how awesome would it be to go and worship God as a  family especially when those opportunities may be few?  What it comes down to is if our eyes are more  on man than on Jesus?

So, what is keeping you from heeding Gods  instructions for us to be faithful and not neglect the assembling of “ourselves”  (which includes YOU) together with the brethren?  Maybe you are being faithful, and that is  great if you are, but if you’re not then you need to take a few steps back and  re-assess what is keeping you from church and why?  If Jesus were to appear before you tonight to  have a chat, and he were to ask why you haven’t been faithful to church, knowing  He knows your heart, what would you tell Him?   If you haven’t been faithful then I would suggest that now is the time  to change that.  The news headlines are  pointing to Jesus’ very soon return, and I don’t want you to be caught  unprepared for Him.

As We See That Day Approaching …

As I was thinking about the soon return of our Lord and Savior for His bride, I began to think about what are some of the things we need to be doing as we see that blessed day approaching.  Or, should we just continue living life, as some would say, believing it will all work out in the end?  Well, what does scripture tell us?

In Luke 21:34-36, Jesus tells us two things we should be doing.  He tells us that we need to be watching for His return, not getting caught up in carousing, drunkenness and the cares of this life.  He makes it clear that if we get caught up with these things His return will come on us unexpectantly.  I’ve heard many people say that they’re not concerned about ‘watching’ for His return, in observing the signs of the times and the unfolding of Biblical end-time prophecy.  They claim that we are to ‘occupy’ until He comes, and that as long as they are ready then it will all work out, but that mindset concerns me.  In multiple passages Jesus tells us to ‘watch’, and with emphasis.  Why, because apparently it would be easy to get caught up with the cares of life and not be ready for His return.  By the way, did you notice He’s telling this to His disciples and not to those who were not following Him?

The second thing that Jesus tells us in this passage is to pray continually that we may be counted worthy to escape that which is coming down the pipes upon this earth.  Wait a minute.  He’s telling His disciples to pray, and pray continually, that they are counted worthy to escape that which will be coming to pass?  Wow.  What does that tell us?  What it tells me is that we can’t just sit smugly in our Lazy Boys and think we have it made and have nothing to worry about.  One of the best lies of the enemy, among many, is that once we’ve asked Jesus to be our Lord and Savior then we have nothing to worry about and can relax believing we’re okay, but that is not how Jesus wants us to approach it.  Jesus knows far better than we do what will come to pass after He comes for His bride, and He’s letting us know we need to take our relationship with Him so seriously so as to not take anything for granted.  Oh, Lord, help us to take your warnings and admonitions to watch and pray as seriously as you need us to.

In Philippians 2:12, Paul tells us to ‘work out our own salvation with fear and trembling’.  While there may be differing views of what that may mean, I believe the consensus is that we take our relationship with Jesus seriously.  I also note that in the same verse prior to the above statement he comments on the obedience of the Philippians to the gospel.  This is something that is missing in most church circles in America these days, the commitment to being obedient to God and His word, the Bible.  We live in a time when it’s fashionable to decide which parts of the Bible we will follow in our own lives, and which ones we will conveniently ignore.  One of my pet peeves is when we either put words in Gods mouth, or for that matter take words out of His mouth.  We have a tendency to look at a scripture we don’t like or agree with and to ‘modify it’ according to what we think God really meant by it so as to justify why we don’t embrace and live by it.  Jesus said that if we love Him we will do His commandments, and when we fail to be obedient to Him and His word we are then considered as lawless in His sight.

Another thing we need to be doing is found in Hebrews 10:24-25.  The writer of Hebrews tells us to consider one another so that we can stir up love and good works.  He further states in the same sentence that we are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as apparently some made a habit of doing, so that we can exhort one another, especially as we see the day of His return approaching.  Check this out.  We are told that as we see the day of His return approaching we must not forsake the times that we gather together with the brethren.  The more evident it becomes that Jesus’ return is imminent, the more we need to embrace times with fellow believers both in church settings and in our ‘social lives’, this is so that we can be an encouragement and a help for others and they in turn can do likewise for us.  The closer we get to His return, which means the closer we’re getting to the tribulation period, the darker things are going to get in this world, and the harder it will be for us to stay close to Him.  Might I also add, the closer we get to His return the harder it will be for us to 1) watch for His return, 2) continually pray that we are counted worthy to escape that which is coming, and 3) to remain obedient to Him and His word when so much of this life will pull us away.  We need more than ever before, to relish all the time we can with fellow believers where we will find the encouragement, the help and the corporate strength to persevere until that blessed day arrives.  I’m speaking even to myself in that I’m not a ‘social butterfly’, but it is going to be essential for each of us to lock arms with our brothers and sisters in Christ like never before if we’re going to stand.  I’m not saying we need to isolate ourselves from those who are not followers of Christ, because that is not what we are called to do, but it does mean we need to value time with the brethren more and more all the time.  People who are not followers of Christ, or those who think they are but are merely fans of Jesus, and there is a difference, may not understand this, but we need the support of those in the family of God if we are going to make it in these last days.  Many feel that being faithful to your local church and spending time with fellow believers of Christ is optional and not essential, but I’m afraid that they will one day have tremendous regrets for not heeding the instructions of the Lord and taking their walk with Him more seriously.  After all, if you knew that there was a potential threat coming to you and your family, would you not take it seriously and do whatever  you needed to do no matter how inconvenient and disliked it was just so you could protect them?  How much more seriously should we take our walk with Jesus as we see the coming judgments of God coming soon to this earth after what we call the rapture takes place?

So, as we see the day of His return approaching more and more each day, and seeing the urgency of the times we live in and that His return is imminent, are you doing what you should be doing?  If not, I strongly encourage you to grab a hold of these things as you prepare for Him.  No matter how some may paint things, you will not want to be here during the tribulation period as it will be worse than many think it will be.

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