[Guest Post] “John Cooper of Skillet on Apostasy Among Young Influential Leaders”

Image result for John cooperAfter another two defections, of young and influential Christian leaders, from the faith once delivered to the saints, I decided to post an excellent article in response to this growing and troubling trend.

I will remind you that in the last days before Jesus returns, there is great apostasy. We are seeing it. Please prayerfully read the text of the article written by George Brahm as published at the website “Cogent Christianity” and entitled “Skillet’s John Cooper on Apostasy Among Young Christian Leaders”. At the bottom I will provide a link to this article and a link to an article written by Michael Brown from the Christian post, concerning this topic.

John Cooper on Apostasy Among Young Christian Leaders

Published: August 14, 2019 on the website Cogent Christianity below i the entirety of John Cooper being quoted in the article

““Ok I’m saying it. Because it’s too important not to. What is happening in Christianity? More and more of our outspoken leaders or influencers who were once “faces” of the faith are falling away. And at the same time they are being very vocal and bold about it. Shockingly they still want to influence others (for what purpose?)as they announce that they are leaving the faith. I’ll state my conclusion, then I’ll state some rebuttals to statements I’ve read by some of them. Firstly, I never judge people outside of my faith. Even if they hate religion or Christianity. That is not my place and I have many friends who disagree with my religion and that is 100% fine with me. However, when it comes to people within my faith, there must be a measure of loyalty and friendship and accountability to each other and the Word of God.

“My conclusion for the church (all of us Christians): We must STOP making worship leaders and thought leaders or influencers or cool people or “relevant” people the most influential people in Christendom. (And yes that includes people like me!) I’ve been saying for 20 years(and seemed probably quite judgmental to some of my peers) that we are in a dangerous place when the church is looking to 20 year old worship singers as our source of truth. We now have a church culture that learns who God is from singing modern praise songs rather than from the teachings of the Word. I’m not being rude to my worship leader friends (many who would agree with me) in saying that singers and musicians are good at communicating emotion and feeling. We create a moment and a vehicle for God to speak. However, singers are not always the best people to write solid bible truth and doctrine. Sometimes we are too young, too ignorant of scripture, too unaware, or too unconcerned about the purity of scripture and the holiness of the God we are singing to. Have you ever considered the disrespect of singing songs to God that are untrue of His character?

“I have a few specific thoughts and rebuttals to statements made by recently disavowed church influencers…first of all, I am stunned that the seemingly most important thing for these leaders who have lost their faith is to make such a bold new stance. Basically saying, “I’ve been living and preaching boldly something for 20 years and led generations of people with my teachings and now I no longer believe it..therefore I’m going to boldly and loudly tell people it was all wrong while I boldly and loudly lead people in to my next truth.” I’m perplexed why they aren’t embarrassed? Humbled? Ashamed, fearful, confused? Why be so eager to continue leading people when you clearly don’t know where you are headed?

“My second thought is, why do people act like “being real” covers a multitude of sins? As if someone is courageous simply for sharing virally every thought or dark place. That’s not courageous. It’s cavalier. Have they considered the ramifications? As if they are the harbingers of truth, saying “I used to think one way and practice it and preach it, but now I’ve learned all the new truth and will start practicing and preaching it.” So the influencers become the voice for truth in whatever stage of life and whatever evolution takes place in their thinking.

“Thirdly, there is a common thread running through these leaders/influencers that basically says that “no one else is talking about the REAL stuff.” This is just flatly false. I just read today in a renown worship leader’s statement, “How could a God of love send people to hell? No one talks about it.” As if he is the first person to ask this? Brother, you are not that unique. The church has wrestled with this for 1500 years. Literally. Everybody talks about it. Children talk about it in Sunday school. There’s like a billion books written on the topic. Just because you don’t get the answer you want doesn’t mean that we are unwilling to wrestle with it. We wrestle with scripture until we are transformed by the renewing of our minds.

“And lastly, and most shocking imo (in my opinion), as these influencers disavow their faith, they always end their statements with their “new insight/new truth” that is basically a regurgitation of Jesus’s words?! It’s truly bizarre and ironic. They’ll say “I’m disavowing my faith but remember, love people, be generous, forgive others”. Ummm, why? That is actually not human nature. No child is ever born and says “I just want to love others before loving myself. I want to turn the other cheek. I want to give my money away to others in need”. Those are bible principles taught by a prophet/Priest/king of kings who wants us to live by a higher standard which is not an earthly standard, but rather the ‘Kingdom of God’ standard. Therefore if Jesus is not the truth and if the Word of God is not absolute, then by preaching Jesus’s teachings you are endorsing the words of a madman. A lunatic who said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” He also said that he was alive before Abraham, and to see him was to see God because he was one with God. So why then would a disavowed christian leader promote that “generosity is good”? How would you know “what is good” without Jesus’s teachings? And will your ideas of what is “good” be different from year to year based on your experience, culture trends, poplular opinion etc and furthermore will you continue year by year to lead others into your idea of goodness even though it is not absolute? I’m amazed that so many Christians want the benefits of the kingdom of God, but with the caveat that they themselves will be the King.

“It is time for the church to rediscover the preeminence of the Word. And to value the teaching of the Word. We need to value truth over feeling. Truth over emotion. And what we are seeing now is the result of the church raising up influencers who did not supremely value truth who have led a generation who also do not believe in the supremacy of truth. And now those disavowed leaders are proudly still leading and influencing boldly AWAY from the truth.

“Is it any wonder that some of our disavowed Christian leaders are letting go of the absolute truth of the Bible and subsequently their lives are falling apart? Further and further they are sinking in the sea all the while shouting “now I’ve found the truth! Follow me!!” Brothers and sisters in the faith all around the world, pastors, teachers, worship leaders, influencers…I implore you, please please in your search for relevancy for the gospel, let us NOT find creative ways to shape Gods word into the image of our culture by stifling inconvenient truths. But rather let us hold on even tighter to the anchor of the living Word of God. For He changes NOT. “The grass withers and the flowers fade away, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8)”

John Cooper on Apostasy Among Young Christian Leaders

Reaching out to a Hillsong leader who is renouncing his faith

Posted in Christian Apostasy, Hillsong, Marty Sampson, Skillet, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What does it mean to be a Pentecostal Church?

downloadEncounter Church, the fellowship I am privileged to pastor, is an Assembly of God fellowship of Christians. This means that Encounter Church is a Pentecostal fellowship. It is my firm belief that the Church of Jesus Christ, in every age and until He comes, is to be Pentecostal or Holy Spirit led and Holy Spirit empowered. Beyond this baseline definition there are seven beliefs that reveal the character of Pentecostal Christianity.

  1. Pentecostal Christianity believes that Jesus Christ the eternal Word of God, who is the Son of God, and the one and only Savior of mankind. He is also the Lord Who Sanctifies us, the Lord our Healer and our soon returning King of kings and LORD of Lords. In this, to us, Jesus Christ is everything and in everything we seek to make Him known (I Timothy 4:10; I Thessalonians 5:23; Exodus 15:26; Psalm 103:1-3; I Thessalonians 5:1-3, Romans 13:11).
  2. Because His return is soon in coming, the Pentecostal Church is to be a Holy Church “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (II Peter 3:10-13).
  3. Pentecostal Christianity means we believe God is the same yesterday today and forever; therefore the same miracles, signs and wonders performed in Jesus’ name, are to be done through us in our day. Pentecostal Christianity believes that the age of miracles will continue until He comes in power and forever (Mark 16:15-20).
  4. A Pentecostal church should therefore believe the miracles, signs, and wonders are a means to attest to the truth of the gospel and often are necessary to open doors for the preaching of the gospel, break the power and bondage of Satan’s kingdom, and encourage the saints, who are in a war against the powers of darkness (Mark 16:20; Acts 3:1-16; Acts 4:27:31; Acts 5:1-11; Acts 6:8, 10; Acts 7:55-60; Acts 8:1-8; Acts 16:16-20; Acts 19:11-20).
  5. Knowing that the power necessary to preach the gospel and walk in the accompanying signs, is not inherent in us, a  fellowship of Pentecostal Christians seeks to obey Christ’s command to be endued with power from on High, and receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. This enduement of power is subsequent to our salvation (although it may take place very soon after we repent and believe as in Acts 10:24-48), much like it happened in Acts of the Apostles at Pentecost, with Paul, at Cornelius’ House and in Ephesus, Pentecostal Christianity believes the normal initial physical evidence is to speak in unknown tongues (to the speaker), as the Holy Spirit gives utterance (Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:4, 8; Acts 2:1-4; Acts 10:44-48; Acts 19:1-7).
  6. Pentecostal Christianity also affirms the need for us to “be being” filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18-19). Although new creations in Christ, we affirm the proneness to compromise, inherent within our “old man” of sin; that which is no longer the ruling principal of our life, but that which hangs around. Therefore, after being Baptized in the Holy Spirit, we seek to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit, that we may yield to righteousness and be witnesses for Christ, in the power of  the Spirit (Romans 6:14; Romans 6:23; Romans 8:11).
  7. In order to lay hold of this gift of the Father, by faith, a Pentecostal Christian seeks to lay their right to exercise self will for the purpose of absolutely surrendering to the will of God in Christ Jesus. This is for the sake of love, knowing that the Father made Jesus Christ, who never sinned, to be sin on our behalf, that in Him we could become righteous and reconciled with God. Through His cross and resurrection, we know our life is not our own, He purchased us with His own blood. Therefore our greatest heart desire is to know Him and make Him known (Romans 12:1-2;  II Corinthians 5:17-21; Philippians 3:10).

For some of the readers of this blog, who may not attend a Pentecostal Church and  may be unsure of what I am presenting, I would point you to Dr. John R. Rice. Dr. Rice, a Baptist Evangelist, wrote an excellent series of booklets on the need to be Baptized in the Holy Spirit and continually filled with the Holy Spirit , which are good introductions  into this biblical and necessary gift (https://www.swordbooks.com/ricejohnr.aspx). I would also suggest Andrew Murray’s books on the Holy Spirit “The Fullness of the Holy Spirit” and “Experiencing the Holy Spirit” and Dr. George O. Wood’s book “Living in the Spirit”. Dr. Wood is a former General Superintendent for the Assembly of God Fellowship.

To me it feels redundant to say Pentecostal Christianity, or Pentecostal Church, or even Pentecostalism, for from the beginning of my life with Jesus Christ, from prayerfully seeking the scriptures, I believed what the word of God declared concerning the continuing power of the Holy Spirit poured out on the day of Pentecost. Sadly, it is the leading of the Lord in me, on this platform, to clarify this category of Christianity.

For far too many, Pentecostalism is tied to the falsehood of the “Prosperity Gospel” which is prevalent in America–or tied to a culture of religious confusion, where speaking in tongues outside of the scriptural boundaries, outlined in I Corinthians 12 through chapter 14, leaves a great many irritated, confused, irate, and feeling justified as they lump those in error with those who are not, defining the whole group as those who offer strange fire.

Image result for encounter church fostoria ohio

In sincerity of heart I am grieved at those who cavalierly trample on the scriptural boundaries given by the Spirit who inspired the written word of God, as much as by those who behave as if God told them personally that the ongoing ministry of the power of the Holy Spirit has ended. The Church of Jesus Christ is to be empowered by the Spirit and led by the Spirit and that should look like the Church in Acts of the Apostles. It is Pentecostal, but more importantly it is simply the Body of Christ living as Christ lived… IN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

Posted in Baptism in the Holy Spirit, filled with the Spirit, fullness of the Spirit, Pentecostalism, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

True Pentecostal Power

Dear Friends below is a link to a facebook video of concerning what it means to be a Pentecostal Christian. For years as I have ministered in the Assembly of God and Christian and Missionary Alliance fellowships (I currently minister in the Assembly of God), I have taught that Pentecostal Christianity is not defined by one of the gifts of the Spirit (tongues) or even how many of the manifestation gifts are present in a given time of fellowship–I have taught that the fulness of the Holy Spirit is not contained in appropriate and biblical pneumatology (although correct biblical understanding concerning the Holy Spirit is necessary).

What I have consistently presented is that the power of God in miraculous gifts of healing, deliverance, discernment, are to compliment and attest to the truth of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (Mark 16:15-20, and throughout the book of Acts). Over and again, the Lord has led me to pronounce that the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the continual fullness of the Spirit, in our lives, must be encountered by those still in bondage to the kingdom of darkness.

No matter where you may reside in the debate over Spirit-filled Christianity, you will be able to appreciate the boldness of Beth Grant of Project Rescue, which is a ministry to aid those who are enslaved from human trafficking. Please click to prayerfully consider her comments.

 

Posted in Influence Conference, Pentecostalism, The Baptism in the Holy Spirit, The Fullness of the Holy Spirit, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

FREE!!! To Fully Surrender! (I Peter 2:16)

Image result for what does it meant to be free in ChristA few weeks ago I shared a message from Galatians 5:1 entitled “Live Free or Die Apart”. The message focused on the meaning of the phrase “It is for freedom you set us free: therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery”. I have included a PDF download of my sermon notes… Live Free or Die Apart

Our congregation discovered that this is in reference to adding elements to salvation by the grace of the cross and resurrection of Christ, through faith. Per the context of Galatians, that meant, false brethren of Jewish descent adding circumcision or other aspects of the law to the simple call to repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Freedom, essentially in that context, means we are free from attaining salvation through obedience to the law. Yet we discovered this freedom is not freedom to choose to live according to the dictates of the flesh or our own ideas of the Christ-life, as Galatians 5:13  declares…

(Galatians 5:13  NASB)”For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another”.

This passage of scripture indicates that our freedom is not to be used in pursuit of our own desires, plans, or thoughts concerning how to live out our faith. In fact, the word of God has much to say about how we are to be careful of misusing our freedom. Below is a list of passages to consider.

  1. Romans 14:14-23; I Corinthians 8:9-12
  2. Romans 15:1-5; Philippians 2:1-5
  3. Romans 6:5-7, 12-14, 22
  4. Galatians 2:20 (KJV, NKJV); Hebrews 8:10-12
  5. Hebrews 4:16

The above list is not exhaustive, but served the purpose of the message the Lord Jesus gave me, but one passage in particular stood out from the others, because of the contrast it brings to the truth of our being free in Christ…

(Romans 6:22 NKJV) But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.

Note that Paul was not speaking of himself, as being a slave to God, but all of us. This is the paradox of Christian freedom. We are free in order to fully surrender our lives to God, as bond-slaves. Just like Jesus.

(Philippians 2:5-8 NKJV) 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond-servant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Without diving too deep into the wonder of Christ’s making “Himself of no reputation”, it is enough to say, by His own sovereign freedom, as God, He emptied Himself of His own will (for a time); for the purpose of serving only the will of the father. Hence the phrase, “taking the form of a bond-servant”.

We understand the word of God declares “As He is, so are we in the world” (I John 4:17). In the primary context of the passage, this means as He is love, we are to be His love to the world, until He returns. Yet, it has a broader application, as we are the body of Christ and the word of God declares repeatedly, we are saved to be as He was… Free to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him.

We must be aware, that this freedom we have in Christ, does not allow for us to choose not to be His bond-slaves (I Corinthians 6:12, 10:23). We are called to give our entire being to love Jesus by obeying His commands (John 14:15-23). Let’s remember this is not a requirement of salvation, but is to grow in relationship to the Christ life, as well as safeguarding our soul from backsliding and apostasy.

The reason for this posting is that I was once more dragged back to this truth while reading the word of God to my children the other morning.

(1 Peter 2:15-16 NASB)For  such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bond-slaves of God.

Here we see the contrast in our being free in Christ. We live as men free from the dictates of sin and the world, the flesh, and the devil–but alive unto God for the purpose of freely surrendering our will; for the purpose of serving only the will of our Savior. All of this is for the sake of love for our Master. Consider that O.T. bond-slaves, after paying their debt, could use their freedom, for the purpose of continuing as a bond-slave the rest of their lives. Why would someone do that?

(Deuteronomy 15:12-17 NASB12 “If your kinsman, a Hebrew man or woman, is sold to you, then he shall serve you six years, but in the seventh year you shall set him free. 13 When you set him free, you shall not send him away empty-handed. 14 You shall furnish him liberally from your flock and from your threshing floor and from your wine vat; you shall give to him as the Lord your God has blessed you. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today. 16 It shall come about if he says to you, ‘I will not go out from you,’ because he loves you and your household, since he fares well with you; 17 then you shall take an awl and pierce it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your servant forever. Also you shall do likewise to your maidservant.

Let us understand that for one who would become a bond-slave the rest of their life, they literally were laying aside their own will, for that of their master. They could expect no vacation, personal time, or accommodation, unless their master commanded it; their life was not their own.

I must admit, that the Lord has been dealing with me concerning this truth for several years. The new man I am in Christ rejoices in this truth, but everything I was raised to be as an independent American screams… NO! Praise God for the Holy Spirit, who has enabled me to grow in this desire, but woe to my stubborn flesh. Do you understand this battle?

Part of being His bond-slave is assessing where we are most prone to disobedience. Below I have listed some scripture to consider concerning your call to be His bond-slave. May God grant us grace to be honest and power to be free to freely surrender to Jesus.

  • Proverbs 3:5-7, 11-12
  • Ephesians 4:29-32
  • Ephesians 5:15-21
  • I Peter 1:13-16

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, Freedom in Christ, Galatians 5:1, Galatians 5:13, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Danger of Inward Hypocrisy

While reading “The Workman of God“, by Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest), in the chapter entitled “The Worker Among the Two-Faced“, I came across a passage which I believe needs to be prayerfully considered, by all who serve Jesus Christ, in Gospel ministry. In the passage, King David and Nathan the prophet are being used to reveal the often easy to hide hypocrisy, which can grow in the heart of those who truly love the Lord.

“Let us go back to the incident recorded in II Samuel 12. For subtlety, for amazing insight and sublime courage, Nathan is unequaled…

…Would to God there were more preachers and Christian workers after the stamp of Nathan. David did not even begin to realize, after a year of the grossest and most dastardly hypocrisy, that Nathan was brandishing the sword straight into his own conscience, and only when David had made his answer and Nathan heaved out strong denunciations of God and thrust the sword straight home with, “Thou art the man,” did David say, “I have sinned against the LORD.” There was no bungling about Nathan’s work.

If you want to know how it was possible for a mighty man of God like David to have sinned the most wicked sin possible–I do not refer to adultery or to murder, but to something infinitely worse, a deep, subtle, inward hypocrisy, tremendous and profound; David lived with it for a year and administered justice while all the time he was a “whited sepulcher”–you must first allow God to examine deep down into the possibilities of your own nature.”

This passage caused me great pause.

How often do we in the pursuit of our calling, begin to compromise, concerning the time we set apart for seeking the face of God? Usually this pursuit is justified by how much work we have to do, as ministers. Yet even as we justify the compromise, almost apologetically with an “I know I need to spend more time with the Lord” statement, we really have little intention of changing course or stepping of the merry-go-round. Why?

David’s calling as king, laid upon him responsibility and a persona–it provided him with ego stroking that little by little replaced his desire for God and his desire to follow hard after Him.

Let’s be honest, as ministers we must be careful of the same pitfall. We are called to the ministry of the word and prayer, but if that is erroneously founded upon study and intellectual recall, we minister from an emptying well. It is often true in our ministry context, that if we don’t get it done no one else will; but to live by that is to walk in pride. We need to re-frame our efforts for the kingdom of God with “Lord Jesus is this what you want me to do?” Then wait for His reply and obey His leading.

David’s pride was stoked by unbridled passion, not tempered or led by the Holy Spirit, for a long time before his fall. This lead to little compromises in carnality, which began to wither his resolve. Those little carnal compromises appear in our lives, when we are not finding the continual fullness of the Holy Spirit, because we are ministering out of experience, rather than the present leading and power of God. As a result of our living and ministering on “auto pilot”, we lose spiritual stamina, strength and resolve.

When this occurs we think we are dealing with our troubles, like the spiritually mature, who soldier on. The truth is, we are not dealing with them at all; except with carnal and worldly activities and distractions (ministry might be one as well).

As David fit this pattern, we can very easily as well. Have you ever read of the Ephesian Church in Revelation 2:1-8? Once more let’s visit Chamber’s work.

“Mark how Nathan came to David. “And the LORD sent Nathan to David.” Be sure, before you face a hypocrite, a two-faced soul, that God has sent you… to use all the subtlety you have from your own heart. Any worker who has stood before God’s all-searching eyes for five minutes is not staggered at David’s fall. Any heart-sin recorded is possible for any human heart, and why I say that the worker among the two-faced (one given to secret hypocrisy) will find the hardest work is that he has to get his wisdom and subtlety not only from God on High, but from a strange, mighty probing of His own nature.

In addition, Chamber’s writes…

Worker for God, before you go among the infirm, the sick, the subtle, the hypocrite, let God deal with you. A child cannot wield the sword of the Spirit; it must be wielded by one fed on strong meat, one who has been deeply dealt with and examined by God’s Spirit, in whom the last springs and possibilities of iniquity and wrong in his own nature have been disclosed to him, that he might understand the marvel of God’s grace.

Considering Chamber’s last comments. How often do we minister on Christ’s behalf with sanctified motive and sincere love of the brethren–thinking as we minister along the line of “God is moving for sure”, only to see a limited and disappointing result?

It is true this can be attributed to callousness, immaturity or spiritual insensitivity, in the persons being ministered to, but it is also possible the fault may lie with us. Would we not serve Him more effectively, by seeking the Lord to search our own hearts?

The New Testament reveals that the servants of Christ, who were fully set apart for God, refused to pick up worldliness and denied themselves as a rule, were not only happy in Christ in the most dire places, but powerfully effective in turning the world upside down.

Come to think of it, around the world, where the ministers of Christ do the same, they minister in miraculous power, persevere in difficulty and are making disciples in the direst places. Perhaps it is time for the servants of the Lord in America to confess, we like David are not only prone to harboring hypocrisy, through justifying compromise, but may be in the midst of it right now.

Dear friends, I point no finger at you, but confess, I have, at times fallen prey to this carnal pattern. If you have not, pray for me, that I would follow the pathway of Nathan, rather than David. May God bless you as consider this writing.

Posted in King David, Nathan the prophet, Oswald Chambers, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Weed Kills: Guest Post from Michael Brown

maxresdefaultBelow is a re-print of an article published in the Christian Post, written by Dr. Michael Brown. The article is entitled “Why Christian’s Should not Smoke Pot“. Dr. Brown’s unique and powerful testimony makes him an expert concerning this topic, as well as a needed cultural commentator and prophetic witness to the church of Jesus Christ. It’s possible you have no position on (I believe the word of God is adamantly opposed to using anything that can alter brain function, including medical use of marijuana).

WHY CHRISTIANS SHOULD NOT SMOKE POT

By: Dr. Michael Brown

I want to share my own convictions as to why followers of Jesus should not smoke pot. I encourage you to consider them prayerfully before the Lord.

First, for the sake of clarity and simplicity, I’m not addressing the issue of the medical use of marijuana, as prescribed by a responsible doctor. While it’s possible these subjects are related, I’m focusing here on the recreational use of marijuana.

Second, I speak from personal experience, both as a follower of Jesus and as a former pot smoker.

In short, I was a heavy drug user from 1969-1971, earning the nicknames “Drug Bear” and “Iron Man” in the process. The drugs I used included pot, hash, ups, downs, LSD, mescaline, speed, heroin, and (very briefly, right before I got saved) cocaine.

Many of my friends, colleagues, and former ministry school students were drug users too, some heavily and some lightly. But we hold the same views today about Christians smoking (or ingesting) pot.

In short, you cannot “be sober and alert” and smoke pot at the same time. Yet God’s Word calls us to this very thing.

Peter wrote, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8, NIV).

When you smoke pot, even a little, your mind gets into a more relaxed state, a state of lowered alertness and lower sobriety. It’s called “getting high” for a reason.

You might think it enhances your thinking or creativity or spirituality, but in reality, it is bringing you into a less sober state of mind, one in which your ability to respond rapidly and critically is actually lessened. So, you might be more “creative,” but not in a holy and godly way.

Yet a recent headline on Christian Post announced, “XXXchurch Pastor Craig Gross promotes ‘Christian Cannabis,’ says weed makes it easier to worship.”

The pastor, Craig Gross, explained, “I’ve never lifted my hands in a worship service ever, ‘cause I was raised Baptist. … I’ve done that in my bathroom worshiping with marijuana by myself.”

Ironically, it’s for this same reason that some strippers get high before performing or some actors have a few drinks before engaging in a sex scene. The drugs or drink loosen them up and relax them, helping to remove their inhibitions.

But this is the opposite of spiritual liberty. It has nothing to do with holiness and it is totally unrelated to worship. (The real shame here is that Pastor Gross has fought against the use of porn for many years. Yet Christians who get high will find their ability to resist sexual sin lessened as well.)

Before I knew Jesus, I received incredible spiritual “revelations” while tripping on LSD or mescaline, especially when combined with huffing diesel gas. I even discovered the secret of the universe! All of this was from below, not from above. All of this was deception.

We should also factor in that pot remains a gateway drug, opening the door to more serious drug abuse over time. Is it any surprise that Denver has now voted to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms after Colorado legalized cannabis in 2014?

Even if you never went beyond pot after years of personal use, the moment you advocate it, you open the door to others. Is that wise?

I’ve also been told repeatedly that pot today is not like the pot I once smoked. It’s much more potent and dangerous. And the very real, not exaggerated, dangers of marijuana use have been documented by Alex Berenson in his bestselling book Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence.

As the blurb states, this “eye-opening report from an award-winning author and former New York Times reporter reveals the link between teenage marijuana use and mental illness, and a hidden epidemic of violence caused by the drug—facts the media have ignored as the United States rushes to legalize cannabis.”

Bad roots will produce bad fruit. Just give things enough time.

According to a report from SF Gate, “With some marijuana products averaging 68 percent THC – exponentially greater than the pot baby boomers once smoked – calls to poison control centers and visits to emergency rooms have risen. In the Denver area, visits to Children’s Hospital Colorado facilities for treatment of cyclic vomiting, paranoia, psychosis and other acute cannabis-related symptoms jumped to 777 in 2015, from 161 in 2005.”

Significantly, “The increase was most notable in the years following legalization of medical sales in 2009 and retail use in 2014, according to a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health published in 2018.”

In the words of psychiatrist Libby Stuyt, who treats teens in southwestern Colorado and has studied the health impacts of high-potency marijuana, “Horrible things are happening to kids. I see increased problems with psychosis, with addiction, with suicide, with depression and anxiety.”

And while the effects on adults might not always be as extreme (or, as quickly noticed), it is clear that anything this harmful to teens can hardly be beneficial to adults.

Paul exhorted the believers in Ephesus, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18, ESV).

In the same way, he would urge us not to get high on drugs but rather to be filled with the Spirit.

Of course, I’m quite aware that the response of many would be, “But that’s the whole point. Just as we can drink alcohol in moderation, we can smoke pot in moderation.”

My response would be: 1) It’s an unnecessary crutch; 2) it still removes your full sobriety; 3) it opens the door to more intense pot use, along with the use of other drugs; 4) it creates another fleshly habit in your life.

For two years, day and night, my life centered on drugs and rock music, and I got as high as humanly possible without dying, once taking enough hallucinogenic drugs for 30 people. (I am only alive and in God’s service by His grace and mercy!) And in the months before coming to faith in Jesus, I smoked pot morning, noon, and night. It became a constant part of my life.

Yet when I truly experienced the joy of the Lord, which then revealed the depths of His love to me, I said to Him on the spot, “I will never put a needle in my arm again!” And I was free from that day (December 17, 1971) until today.

Two days after that, while smoking hash with friends, I realized that the Lord didn’t want me to get high in any way. And the rest is history.

So, before you get high (whether for the first time or again), ask yourself these questions: Is this light or darkness? Is this feeding my spirit or my flesh? Is this exalting Jesus or opening the door to the enemy?

Be wise, and sober, my friend. And be filled with the Holy Spirit. There is nothing like it.

 

 

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Spiritual Discernment: Guest Post by Brian Troxel

Dear Friends in Christ,

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Below is a link to an excellent post by brother in Christ Brian Troxel , concerning the true nature of Spiritual discernment. I am posting an excerpt to wet your appetite for God’s word concerning this most necessary character trait among Christians; one which I believe is in short supply among the saints in America. After reading the click the link to finish at Tim’s site–Brother Mike Erdel

DISCERNMENT AND RELATIONSHIP

(1 Corinthians 2:15) But he who is spiritual discerns all things, and he himself is judged by no one.”

Discernment has nothing to do with intellectual prowess. True discernment is the aggregate result of an individual’s walk and life in Christ. Many today have confidence in their spiritual condition due to the overflow of teachings readily available to all. Any teaching that does not bring a corresponding measure of the “fear of the Lord” is bereft of truth. The foundation of a discerning life is built upon the fear of the Lord. (Proverbs 2:3-13)

Discernment requires a walk and an abiding in Him; the things of God will always culminate in the character of Christ. The very essence of truth is Christ who is the Truth. Whenever an expression is in conflict …

Click this link here the rest Spiritual Discernment

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