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Letter To A New Christian

22.jpgThank you for answering my letter. I love simplicity. That is one of the reasons I love Jesus; He was the essence of simplicity and our model in all things pertaining to truth. It is to know Him in His simplicity if we are to make it through this world successfully. You do not have to apologize for not using a computer, it has become a great curse for many, maybe greater than the television or the automobile. The people I have known who live the simplest kind of lives are the ones I have admired the most. Some Amish acquaintances, who have none of the items mentioned above, telephones maybe, are the most focused and God honoring people I have ever known; I love their discipline, dedication, and devotion. Another group of Christian friends, who live in a community of about two hundred families in the Indianapolis area, that have devoted their lives to Christ and each other, are a living testimony of the simple Christian life in the twenty first century. Although I use a computer, and drive a car, we have been off television, radio (for the most part), newspaper, alcohol, and tobacco for quite some time now, but I would not call my life simple yet.

As I said in my last letter I have been a Christian for a long time. During the majority of that time I was part of the status quo and belonged to several different denominations and served in several different capacities. I have attended Bible College and studied the Bible in the original language for two years. I have read the Bible from cover to cover probably fifty times in all of the translations. I have a voracious appetite for reading and have read many commentaries and thousands of reference books and articles. I have written many articles myself, that can be found in several places on the internet. I am not saying these things to brag, because they are all worthless efforts to attain something through my own vain desires. I would throw every bit of that away in an instant to know then what I know now. Although those years were marked with a measure of success in my personal life and accomplishments, I had built my life on the shifting sand of spiritual laws, laws that are just as real and just as valid as the laws of nature, such as gravity, only they were spiritual laws, and they worked. For example, the law of “sowing and reaping,” or “give and it shall be given unto you,” it really works if applied consistently. The law of going the extra mile is another one, and there are others. These laws if applied in the workplace, in the world, as a way of life will generally reap a good harvest. But, there is this difference, it is a harvest in the world, not in the spirit. These laws apply equally well for the unbeliever as they do for the believer. People who live by these laws are good people, but they are not Christian. My understanding at that time, and the understanding of nearly all of Christendom today, is that by applying these laws and by living a certain way constitutes being a “Christian” and pleasing God. This is false. In my own life the one thing that I was pursuing and desired more than anything was the one thing I unknowingly kept pushing further and further back; that …thing… was truth. I had not yet understood what Solomon meant when he said,“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Prov 3:5-6). I thought I did understand. The answer to the riddle lay in the following verses, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:

‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.’ (cf. Isa 29:14)

Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Cor 1:18-25). It was the message of the cross that I did not understand, even though I studied it, and analyzed it in the original language, applied its principals, and was complimented for our obedient children and chaste life style. The foolishness of the message is its utter simplicity that people miss. Trust God, that simple. Why do you speak in parables, the disciples asked Jesus? And He told them that it was not given to them, of the world, to understand, but to you it has been given, and He expounded the meaning to them in private. What He was saying was that unless the Lord gives you the revelation or meaning we can not know what He is talking about. Trust God? What does that mean? I was sure I knew, but I was wrong. Through all my study and wisdom of the world, I missed the meaning. All that structure began to crumble even though I applied it consistently and thought my life should have pleased God. About four years ago God began to shake my foundation and challenged my faith. As I stood by and watched my little empire begin to collapse, God, at that precise moment, called me away, to go to a place of His choosing, and not look back, while He began the demolition. I accepted the challenge, not out courage or anything like that, more fear and hopelessness than anything, and I turned my back on everything, and told God I was laying it all on the altar, and He took it! Bad news just kept pouring in as I watched my sacrifice go up in smoke. The coffers were empty, our home was tapped out, 401k’s gone, two product liability lawsuits for fifteen million dollars that our lawyers said we would likely loose because of a paper work glitch, no one to purchase our business, and our other business was taking a terrible slump. But, in all this He kept saying, trust Me. “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard . Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am’” (Isa 58:6-9). The structure that I had built, and the structure that every man builds will be tested to see what kind of quality the materials consist of. “But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay , straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is” (1 Cor 3:10-13). God didn’t care about business or stuff, but He did care about me, enough to kill me. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone ; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor” (John 12:24-26). In May of last year ‘07 we closed the bike shop and a buyer came forward, and I thought it was a God send, but my spirit was uneasy and I knew that God wasn’t finished testing yet, He wanted me dead and I was still kicking. The point is that the seed has to die, and the sale of the shop was a short circuit attempt by Satan to reclaim me. God was trying to teach me that there is no resurrection without death, not for me, not for anyone, even His Son. I was beginning to understand why the way is so narrow, death is never a pleasant experience. The next day I called the buyer and told him the business was not for sell, that we were just going to close the doors and move all the stuff into our barn, and that is where it is today. The Lord kept His word, because it was impossible for Him to lie, and we are beginning to recover, like a small plant sprouting through the soil; we’re alive, really alive this time, the Lord’s way, not our way. I found out the meaning of the verse John 7:17, “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.” You see, God is a God who takes, before He gives; He takes your life! He doesn’t want bulls and goats on that altar, He wants you and me. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom 12:1-2).

Most people come to religion because of some pressing need or desire; it has been rightly called the “opiate of the people;” religion through the millennia has satisfied that definition. The spiritual laws mentioned above have proven useful as a means to address immediate needs, but the best they can ever do is to signify, to the perceptive person, that there is more here than meets the eye. In the end all of these religions, movements, cults, emerging wisdom, philosophies, or purpose driven lies, will have failed in their ultimate goals of presenting true truth to the seeker. All these things “…having the form of knowledge and truth in the law…” (Rom 2:20) in the end reveal their true natures as impostors and the wisdom of this world. Some of these methods have done better than others at satisfying needs, because they were made prevalent either by custom or by just plain good marketing. They succeeded by getting people to believe in the “perceived value” of the product, and that it can deliver what it promises. Norman Vincent Peale and Robert A. Schuller have proven that positive thinking, i.e. getting people to believe in themselves, can not only change the person outwardly, but can build a gigantic organization. But, don’t confuse this with Biblical faith, this is not what the Bible is about. As a matter of fact this is what the Bible is against; it is the opposite of what Jesus taught. By the way,  Robert Schuller claims to have mentored Rick Warren.

You mentioned that the book of Proverbs is a favored book of the Bible; that is good because Solomon had much to say about the seduction of religion on those who are young in their faith. In chapter seven he speaks metaphorically about the temptations of following the seductiveness of the world’s attempts to lead immature believers astray, away from the narrow path, you should read it. Solomon also says “There is a way that seemeth right unto man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Prov 16:25). The Hebrew word for “man” in this verse is ‘iysh, which means “mankind.” What Solomon is saying is that all men have an idea or a hunch about what is right but that their hunch is wrong, and it can not be trusted. Most people catch their religion the same way you would catch a cold or the flu, by contact. We get it from those we are around or from what we read. The things we read or those people we trust to give us information at the time of our need is very likely going to have the greatest effect on the direction we take in our spiritual walk; it’s a hunch or a gamble. If we read something that sounds reasonable and satisfies our mind we begin a process of molding, what we want to believe, to conform to that “something.” This is so common it is obvious, but we pretend that we have discovered some great revelation, but Solomon says it will lead us only to death.

I hope this is not boring for you. I want so much for you to have the truth of what being a Christian is all about. It is not about having stuff, being successful, or solving problems, or fixing some screwed up mess we get ourselves into. It is about one thing, obedience and trust (these two can not be separated). If we can do that, we will be accepted, and God will be pleased. But, as long as our eyes are on our own needs and wants, we are in the way of Cain, who was rejected although he served God. All through Scripture religion is portrayed as a prostitute trying to deceive men in pursuit of answers to all of life’s woes, and men are pictured as fools ready to be seduced by anything that looks tantalizing. God states that in the last days, because of man’s willingness to satisfy his lustful cravings for spiritual experiences and hunger, and thereby rejecting truth, He would send a strong delusion that they would believe “…the lie…,” (2 Thess 2:11). “The lie” is what the Bible calls “…the way of Cain.” As you remember Cain killed Abel his brother. They were both worshipers of God. Cain was a Godly man and brought God the best of his garden as a peace offering, and God rejected it, and he got angry, and killed his brother, who was accepted by God. Cain no doubt labored hard and had nice produce and may have brought a truck load of the best, and fully expected God to accept it, because he had put so much effort into his worship and trying to find and serve God. Abel, on the other hand raised sheep. On the day of the offering Abel went to the flock and looked around and took notice of his very best males; the one he picked had to be spotless, perfect, because this was no ordinary god. After looking intently at his flock he may have remembered a little lamb that was not part of the flock, that had become the family pet, the favorite lamb of his young son. That was the one sacrifice the Lord wanted; it was a terrible loss to the family as the son handed the little lamb over to his father, and watched as he cut its throat, and followed the blood with his eyes as it covered the ground, then Abel remove the hide, laid the body on the altar, and watch that little lamb go up in smoke. This was a gigantic loss, it was the one that was to start a new flock, it was the one that would enable a comfortable retirement, it was the one that would have taken all the ribbons at the state fair, and it was gone, accepted by the Lord as a sweet offering. Abel knew what the Lord wanted, one perfect lamb, offered freely by faith, and he knew of God’s promise and ability to care for His creation. Cain knew what he wanted to give to the Lord and planned it out way ahead, but it wasn’t what the Lord wanted. Cain offered God a religion, very well done and orchestrated, down to the smallest detail, a beautiful bounty of many good things. He may even of had a few candles for effect. He was sure that his production, his masterly execution of the gardening process would thrill God, and his humbleness in his presentation would certainly win God’s applause, but it was rejected, because it was what Cain wanted for God, but not what God required. This is religion today, building something for God, the harlot all dressed up to worship, when God requires simplicity. This is why God rejected Cain, this is why God rejected the Tower of Babel (the first religious organization and building project), and this is why God rejects man’s efforts today to offer Him a tainted offering, when He “desires truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.” (Ps 51:6). The way of Cain is clearly pictured in the Bible and it is clearly seen in all the religious hobby craft of the modern choreographed Church service, and God rejects it, just as He has shown, over and over that He would.

We are living in the most dangerous time of world history and Rick Warren may very well be the most dangerous man alive due to his popularity and influence. He is a modern day phenomena. He is a horrible Bible scholar, twisting Scripture to make it say what ever he wants. He makes preposterous claims of what his books can do for those who read them. He takes an un-Biblical approach to building God’s kingdom, and offers and abbreviated and inaccurate definition of the Gospel where there is no requirement for repentance, and he is an overwhelming success! He breaks every rule of proper hermeneutics (interpretation of the Bible) so that he can subtly slip in under the radar to promote an agenda of one world religion and government (well, it isn’t so subtle anymore). He has linked hands with the UN, liberal churches that openly promote homosexual marriage, New Age teachers who call on spirit guides, and the list goes on. He only uses the Christian platform as a means to catapult his agenda over the wall of faith and to trick unwary believers into an unholy alliance with the anti-christ, and it is working. Yes, Rick does use the Bible, and he does so very successfully because very few Christians know anything about what they read in the Bible, if they even read it at all. But, today Rick is not alone, he has a whole army of New Age Christians coming onboard with his program to save the world, when the Bible clearly teaches that it won’t happen. The world and all those who reject Christ are doomed to destruction. He should be warning people to run for their lives, to Jesus, but instead he is telling them to buckle down and make this world a better place to live, so that when Jesus comes back He’ll have a nice place to stay. Likewise, the Bible does not say that salvation will be universal, as many are led to believe, it says just the contrary, that very few will be saved, “As a shepherd takes from the mouth of a lion two legs or a piece of an ear, so shall the children of Israel be taken out” (Amos 3:12). “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matt 7:13-14).

You mentioned your fondness for tolerance, as a good thing in the world. The world loves tolerance because tolerance breaks down the wall that separates the broad way from the narrow way, and in the world today everyone has to be allowed in. But, Jesus did not agree with that, He said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber . But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers. Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them” (John 10:1-6). When we read Scripture we see that Jesus did not tolerate any other view, because He knew what was in mens hearts, that they were evil continually. He was always closing the door in men’s faces: the rich young ruler was told to sell everything he owned and to come and follow Him; He called the religious establishment of His day vipers, white washed graves with dead mens bones, the children of the Devil, and false teachers; He even told Peter who He loved to “get behind Me Satan.” He called the Samaritan woman a dog, and said to the Pharisees “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15). Jesus never ever played the tolerance game, He said plainly that He was God, and that He was the only way, and that there was no other way, and for those who didn’t follow Him, only Hell awaited. Tolerance will win you favor with the world. Intolerance will get you hung on a cross, and we’re told to pick up our own cross and to follow Him. Jesus told all who listened to Him that He came not to bring peace, but a sword, that he would divide families and friendships, and a man’s enemies would be those of his own family. He said that He came to cast fire upon the earth, and that if they hated Me, they will hate you. He said to beware when all men speak well of you and call you “friend.” He said that to be a friend of the world was to be an enemy of God, and it goes on and on. He said that things would not go well with Christians in this world, because they were not of this world, and not to tolerate the things that the world accepted as normal and good; He called it evil, and that we were to reject the world’s friendship. Paul said that if a person, who is called a brother (Christian) did not accept his doctrine, the way it is spelled out in the Bible, that we were not even to welcome him into our home, or to eat a meal with them, or to wish them Godspeed. That would exclude most of those who call themselves Christian today. This sounds very much, to the world, as an un-loving spirit, but it is not, it is devotion to the Lord. It is separation from the world, unto God. It is being in the world but not of it. It is the only way commanded by God that a person can maintain pureness. We are commanded to not mix with the world in any way. The Israelites, in the Old Testament, illustrate over and over again the great cost involved in mixing with the world around them, but they did it anyway, and became an object lesson for the rest of us, one that we have not learned. To look at the Church today is to see the world, only in a different costume. The statistics of divorce, abortion, drugs, pornography, teen suicide, teen pregnancy, and homosexuality are no different inside the Church than it is outside. Why? Because the world is inside the Church. The safest place for Christians is away from the organized, institutionalized, Church. The Church is doing more harm than good. That is hard to believe, but it is true.

But, where does love enter in? Jesus gave His life for all of them, and begs and pleads for them to come to Him before it is too late. Our love is no different. It is to deliver the undiluted truth that their lives are in danger, eternal danger, and that they must escape now, not tomorrow. Love is to be bluntly honest with them so that they are not confused by fancy words, and videos, and bands, and five point sermons that, apparently, no one is listening to. If our love is not making us a few enemies maybe we are doing something wrong. Of course this all assumes that the Bible is the Word of God and that it is true.

There is great war going on today as there has been since that episode in the garden. The war has never changed, only the warriors. It is the War of Truth. What is Truth? The Bible says that it is a very rare thing, that it is like a pearl of great price, that when a man finds it he goes and sells everything he owns and goes and buys it. Or, it is like a man who is walking through a field and comes across a buried treasure and immediately goes and sells everything and goes and buys that field. Proverbs tells us that when we find truth that we should buy it and never sell it. The Bible says that the truth is offensive to men because it is intolerant, and that men reject it because it so exclusive. Truth is like a city that is on a hill that can not be hid, or like a candle that offends the darkness and causes it to flee. Truth brings pain and suffering and rejection in this world, to those who know it. Those in your own family, and your friends will become your enemies and persecute you. King Herod stood face to face with the beaten, bloody body of “Truth” and asked the most foolish question in the history of man when he asked, “What is truth?” and Jesus never answered him, he was hopeless. The Jews never recognized Truth, Herod never recognized Truth, and the Church today does not recognize Truth. Time has not changed a thing, truth is still rare, and men, even Christian men still ask, “What is truth?” Isaiah said that “truth had fallen in the street” and Amos says that in the latter days that there will be a famine, not a famine of bread and water, but a famine of the word of God, truth. We are in the midst of that famine today although there are more Bibles today than there has ever been, people just do not know what it says. The organized Church claims they know the truth of the Bible, but their fruits do not support that claim; it simply is not true. They will be looking the wrong direction when Jesus returns the second time, and just like the first time, they will want to kill Him, only this time the tables will be turned. God will call those who have a true heart for Truth and they will respond and He will save them.

There is much more to be said, but enough for now. Since you do not have e-mail I took the liberty of writing a longer letter. If you would like to meet for lunch or coffee sometime I will make time to come to wherever you want. If you want documentation on the things I mentioned concerning Rick Warren I have tons. I don’t use scare tactics or belong to a cult; I guess I could call myself a Christian realist. I don’t belong to a Church, because I am the Church, and we have meetings in our home. I don’t pay tithes to build recreation centers, I am not ruled over by a board of deacons who were hand picked because they can build a business or no how to raise money for a new campground, I am through with all that. I associate with people who are like minded and have the same goal of getting the infection of the world out of our lives and who continually look for the return of our soon coming King.

Blessings,

In His service,

Steve Blackwell


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