Monday, December 28, 2009

Shall he find faith on the earth? --Are there any honest Believers left in the U.S.?

Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? Luke 18:8

I have just resigned a link listing for a Messianic group whom I have always had great respect for. I will not name it, because it does no one any good: I believe at least many of the people associated with the group are fine believers. I have also held Messianic congregations in the highest esteem, and though we do not have one in our area, consider myself an ardent Messianic believer, although I find 'messianic' and 'believer' to be redundant. There should not be 'Messianic Christians' and "Christians', but the word Messianic should be inherent in the profession of faith.

Recently though, I have seen the worst of 'Christianity' in many forms: I believe it happens often in the decline of a society, as well as in the beginning of one's life being 'poured out' for the Gospel: in the end, most true believers, who have 'gone all the way' with the Lord, will find themselves alone.

It is not that their sufferings might not be noted, even worldwide, such as in the case of the attorney GAO from China, but even when there is widespread human rights support, the one who obeys the Lord Jesus, or Yeshua, or Adonai, or Jesu, or Yetsunu, or whatever name is forefront, finds themselves alone and little understood even by other believers.

That said, though, what has happened recently without going into detail, has left me disheartened to say the least, and while I was going to write a Bible study on why Universities are like they are (watch there be 50 bible studies on that topic before I get to it), I think instead it is time for a sincere rebuke of what pastors , rabbis and congregations have allowed themselves to become: 'worldlings' in the words of a former friend.

Over the years I have been scrutinized for whether I say 'Jesus' or 'Yeshua', whether I eat cheese with meat, to see if I am truly 'Torah observant', whether I celebrate the feasts the way even messianics do etc, etc.

I do not always, and neither does anyone else, including the very best who occasionally slip and buy the wrong kind of candle, or run to the store just after twilight on Shabbat. And as we all know, if we offend in one part of the law, we offend in all. I try though, from the heart, to do the most right I can, and I pray for help in the rest, wanting neither to be legalistic nor licentious. There are a few things though, that I know from the heart that will, can, or have ruined congregations and belief in general and love among the brethren. One of the greatest is crass competition, and stealing one another's work for the Lord and otherwise.

A few years ago, I wrote a Bible study on the 'Lion of Judah'. I researched carefully to see what else was available online and off, and surprisingly found very little and in a very different vein than I was going, though the term is a common one. The bible study sat for years in a subsection of, getting little attention, but I liked it, so I felt it was worthwhile because I learned in the process. About 5 or 6 years ago, another group , a fundamentalist group who hails from down south, became a little over attentive at everything I was doing and writing. Within a week of having to block some IPs, all kinds of bible studies on the Lion of Judah starting appearing on the net. I did a little research and found that almost all of them traced back to that particular group, or were alumni from there.

In the spirit of the Torah and not the letter, though I was offended, I let it go: Jesus, Yshua, Jesu, Yetsuni, said that those who do such things should not be stopped, and to resist not evil. The gospel got preached, the Lord was lifted up, and my Bible study, though hacked several times, remained on the net. I forgave them, but I have to say, it takes a while for feelings to die down, especially because certain of the group continued to the point of it being racketeering. I now have to guard my personal handwritten notebooks, worry about who may be illegally entering my house, rough being called 'paranoid' etc, although paranoia alone rarely results in pages ripped out of a dated notebook, or CD backups cracked or files erased.

Last week, I found that a bible study blog I had written online since 2004, first on one service then another, had been copied and 'redone' by a number of folks, including those from a position of Armstrongism, hardly a pro-Semitic stance. Well, I guess its good to be an influence but there is a sincere difference in being an influence and crowding someone out of free speech and practice of religion and being able to serve the Lord as called. I've seen it all: faked diskette dates, faked Search engine optimization (you don't have to worry too much about that, since it disappears after a week or two), fake 'eyewitness reports' of a bunch of folks from a church all claiming the the thief was really first, (well, he said he wrote it), and slander, slander , slander, slander, to the point that honest authors can hardly write any more.

I've never charged for my work which has been good enough for a number at the top to steal. I've always believed, freely given freely give, and that the Gospel is not to be put up for sale or individual 'glory'. God chooses whom he will. Having suffered this long though on barely any budget, and working for free often for 25 years, I am rewarding myself with this brief complaint: stealing and lying, slander and ruining is destroying the house of God in this country, if it still exists at all. That stuff is for the world not for us.

If one is right with the Lord, and obedient, walking in the Holy Spirit, then one is never without ideas of what to write, preach, pray or sing. It is living not stagnant water, a river that runs through the garden. I have hardly ever wanted for an idea of what to write in multiple ongoing studies or websites: in a few cases it was outright obedience, to begin to bring back the foundations of belief including the blood covenant, the laying on of hands, healing, and the gifts. My dear Baptist acquaintances may shudder at that but its in the Book, you know, the one without error from Jesus Christ, the same yesterday today and tomorrow. Love ya, but the only real dispensations are when God appoints out of the ordinary.

I never thought it could get dangerous to continue writing little Bible studies. I never thought I would get more than angry letters on my work on the holocaust, but if the whole truth were known about what has happened, I am afraid some would be discouraged from obeying their calling. God gives grace, but noone tells you the 'Cost of discipleship' early in the game: I suppose even Bonhoeffer could not have guessed.

The little 'petty' borrowings are no longer petty : they are creating lawsuits, threatenings, ill feelings etc as much as they are influencing the Church to go back to its 'one foundation'. It is causing people to give up as they see even pastors and teachers stealing and merchandising other people's work. It is causing true believing young people to think that believers are all a bunch of hypocrites. It has in some cases caused violence. Nobody walking right with the Lord needs to steal or slander another person. Nobody. at all.

Some will no doubt say that nobody can stop them from writing any kind of Bible study or sermon and that is true to an extent, the Word is not bound, but when the theft is purposeful and deliberate and intended to bring someone else down, because they do not 'fit', or to present a false sense of competence about the one who steals--- it guts God's plan for the church. It basically says: "Well God, you may have chosen her, or him, but we thought it better to do it our way": it is an arrogant affront to God's Holy Wisdom.

Without mentioning names, consider how bad it can get: force feeding someone after knocking them out to make them gain weight and look bad so that a younger person will be more 'marketable'. Sneaking into a house and drugging and beating someone or walking on them while knocked out in order to feel 'superior'. Having law enforcement decide that a person doesn't 'look the part' and forcing a relative to hand over material, free of charge to give to someone else. Sending mobbish persons into the genuine servant's children's lives to erase their faith and testimony. Attempting to break the hand with which an author writes, or ruining the physical health of an author. Some of the rest would horrify and you would not believe it is really happening, but it is, in order to intimidate and enslave those who really, even now, still care what God wants, and what His Church really is.  The intimidation and theft is often to prevent a certain point of view from being expressed: namely, the genuine and original Gospel, the same in the first century as in the 21st.

In the Book of Acts, a couple for the first time mentioned after Pentecost, lies to the church, keeping back some money they promised by deceiving the Church, and are met with Peter's solid declaration of their impending death.

Ananias and Sapphira didn't fail to donate to the church, they just told a simple lie; they just didn't give as much as they promised. Many are appalled to think that Peter would announce a death sentence for a seemingly small offense. Do you know why it wasn't small at all? To that point in the history of the church, belief was so great, that the idea of a sin or lying to God or the congregation could not be imagined. Ananias and Sapphira though conspired to defraud the church: they would have been better to have offered nothing at all. They also started a process of merchandising  and deceit which would never end, and would ruin the Bride of Christ in some places.  Neither Peter nor the Lord were being unjust nor too severe:  it was the rent in the garment which would lead to not only persecution from without the church, but division within:  a sin of Jeroboam which earlier in Israel had led to even exile and slavery.

Need an idea for Shabbat sermon? Get in the Word, prayerfully. Seek out someone with a prophetic gift, or even fast and pray. Go back to the last thing God told you to do, that you didn't do, and repair the breach. What the river flow, then.

Lies, slanders, misinformation, and outright theft and violence against another in the House of God harms them, and destroys you and the house of God. A baseball bat swings two ways. If someone is writing on what looks like a 'hot topic', rather than trying to rewrite it 'your' way, or fit it into your doctrine and not theirs, or even trying to ruin or plagiarize, steel yourself and say, 'the reason I really want to write on that topic is __________________________", and then seek for the moment any other topic. It is not wrong to be inspired by a fine sermon or study or song, that is the creative process. That is how creativity grows. There is though a great difference between wanting to be in the position another has, or wanting to have a skill or anointing another has, and working passionately to overthrow that person or retaliate against them for having a gift or idea that was not yours.

Stealing from another believer their hard work, or attempting to steal an anointing or appointment from God, is no different that an enemy of the Lord and Savior trying to destroy God's house. When he returns, "Shall he find faith on the earth?"
Can it be yours?

Blessings in Yshua HaMeschiach, Our Shabbat, Jesus Christ of Nazareth and Heaven, Jesu, Ioesus, Redeemer, Lord and Savior, Adonai, The Way, the Truth and the Life, or whatever beautiful name of His you choose.

E.K. Best