When Caution Prevents Worship

True worship which pleases God is spontaneous and sincere. It is free. It is unregulated. It is our natural reaction to the greatness of God.

It’s the man beating upon his chest, “God be merciful to me a sinner!” (Luke 18:13). It is King David dancing before the Lord “with all his might” (2 Samuel 6:14).

Too often, churches exhibit such fear-mongering towards worship, you’d think they were still in the Old Dispensation! Instead of doing anything good, their caution prevents worship.

Caution 1: “Singing Must Be Louder Than Instruments.” (??)

For some, there’s a rule that the singing must be louder than the instruments. How is it measured? By decibels? By subjective human thinking? Is there allowance for the rule that our ears hear human vocal range (relatively high in the spectrum) more loudly than bass frequencies, and that bass has to be relatively louder just to be “heard” as equal? The whole thing is an exercise in nonsense.

God cares about whether we believe in Him and love Him. If we like to play our instruments loudly because we are passionate in our feelings, then good! Legislating against it prevents the expression of our love for God, which is a critical aspect of the Christian walk.

Caution 2: “Drums Cannot Be Used!” (?!)

For others, there is a stipulation that drums are ipso facto sinful, and cannot be used! These drums, we are told, originated from African dance ceremonies and always conjure up demons. And the “inverted” rhythm is sensual!

Others say that we can’t “invent” a way to worship God, but must do exactly as He said. (Weren’t all instruments invented? Wasn’t every song invented [we hope with God’s inspiration]?)

When Caution Prevents Worship - Is This Realistic?
When Caution Prevents Worship – Is This Realistic?

But alas! It is an argument from silence. In fact, it is entirely possible that the Bible actually “commands” us to praise the Lord “with the drum”!

“Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: priase him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let everything that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.” – Psalm 150:4-6

What a beautiful segment of Scripture! Let’s take a look in the original Hebrew:

הַֽ֭לְלוּהוּ בְתֹ֣ף וּמָחֹ֑ול הַֽ֝לְל֗וּהוּ בְּמִנִּ֥ים וְעוּגָֽב׃

הַֽלְל֥וּהוּ בְצִלְצְלֵי־שָׁ֑מַע הַֽ֝לְל֗וּהוּ בְּֽצִלְצְלֵ֥י תְרוּעָֽה׃

כֹּ֣ל הַ֭נְּשָׁמָה תְּהַלֵּ֥ל יָ֗הּ הַֽלְלוּ־יָֽהּ׃

Halleluhu Betoph U’Machol Halleluhu Beminim Veugav – “Praise Him in/with the timbrel and dance! Praise Him in/with the strings and flute!”

Halleluhu Betziltzilei Shama Halleluhu Betziltzilei Teruah – “Praise Him in/with the cymbals of sound! Praise Him in/with the cymbals that blast!”

Kol Haneshama Tehallel Yah Halleluyah – “All souls praise Yahweh! Praise Yahweh!”

The excitement for God in this passage literally breaks out of the pages!!

Psalm 150 in the Original Hebrew
Psalm 150 in the Original Hebrew

I would draw your attention to the Hebrew word behind “with the timbrel” – בְתֹ֣ף – it’s a bit unclear, but the Hebrew “toph” is generally agreed to mean a tambourine, which in the day, may or may not have had jingles; and, may or may not have had a drum head (but probably did, as the jingles do not appear to be common, and without jingles, it would make no noise without a stretched head). So it appears there are three options:

  1. Something akin to a modern-day open tambourine, with only jingles on a frame.
  2. Same as above, but with a drum head.
  3. Drum head only, with no jingles.
Tambourine with Jingles
Tambourine with Jingles
Tambourine with Jingles and Drum Head
Tambourine with Jingles and Drum Head
Tambourine with No Jingles and Only Drum Head
Tambourine with No Jingles and Only Drum Head

And out of those options, the third appears most likely. For further reading, see this or that article.

It’s not totally conclusive, but there’s a probability that God “charges” us to praise Him with the drum! So, all the carrying on about drums being unacceptable seems to me quite remarkable, but not a bit helpful. When caution prevents worship, I think God is highly displeased!

But I’m still enjoying this passage – let’s go to the Greek Septuagint. It’s the Greek translation of the Old Testament which was fairly popular in the time of Christ on the earth, and which He seemed to quote from quite a bit.

Psalm 150. Verse 4: αἰνεῖτε αὐτὸν ἐν τυμπάνῳ καὶ χορῷ αἰνεῖτε αὐτὸν ἐν χορδαῖς καὶ ὀργάνῳ Verse 5: αἰνεῖτε αὐτὸν ἐν κυμβάλοις εὐήχοις αἰνεῖτε αὐτὸν ἐν κυμβάλοις ἀλαλαγμοῦ Verse 6: πᾶσα πνοὴ αἰνεσάτω τὸν κύριον αλληλουια

“Praise him with timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and the organ. Praise him with melodious cymbals: praise him with loud cymbals. Let every thing that has breath praise the Lord.” (Brenton’s translation of Septuagint, Psalm 150:4-6).

To modernize a bit, I think we could paraphrase as following: “Praise Him with the drums and with great exuberance! Praise Him with the guitar and the keyboard! Praise Him upon the ride cymbal and the crash cymbal! Everything living should praise God!”

The Greek word “τυμπάνῳ” is the etymological ancestor for our word timpani, which is a huge orchestral drum which is slightly melodic. And for those that dislike even a simple piano or organ, Psalm 150:4 tells us to praise God “ὀργάνῳ” – “with the organ” (or, back in the day, perhaps the “flute” – in Greek, literally, “that with which one works(/makes music)” – whatever device you need or want to create artistic music!).

As far as the “backbeat” sometimes created by drums being “sensual,” again it’s an argument from silence.

I could say that red chairs in church are “sensual,” but it’s just as lacking in any concrete proof. In fact, I better shut up before somebody legislates against red chairs!! (I can hear them now: “You can have red chairs in your homes, but it’s not proper in the house of God” – lol!)

The fact is, God created us as emotional beings, and I would much rather that people show that emotion for God, than being seduced by the cheap pleasures of the world! If we are disallowed from seeing God as beautiful and have to have this weird “distance,” then Satan can suddenly tempt us by painting sin as beautiful.

In fact, heartfelt worship has the opposite effect of what so many charge of it – it actually builds up the inner man to withstand temptation.

But at the last, even the hymns that drum-haters adhere to (and which I also love) often have a backbeat emphasis on beats 2 and 4 of the song, rather than on 1 and 3 as they require, so they themselves are not even consistent with their own strange rule!

So whether you call it a “backbeat,” a “rock beat,” or whatever, it’s present in a lot of your hymns, but there’s no evidence against it – au contraire, heartfelt worship is a boon to the Christian life.

Caution 3: “We Need the Right Tone!” (Which is Defined How??)

I’m always leery when someone makes statements that preclude worship based on some subjective, unknowable standard. This is a perfect example. For every thousand people arguing this, they’ll have a thousand different concepts of what the “right tone” is.

The Bible makes it so much easier. Jesus asked us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind. That’s it. If we are worshipping God, it’s good.

Don’t get me wrong – soft can be beautiful. Ancient can be beautiful. But so can passionate and loud, so don’t forbid that either!

People have a million different tastes, and as long as a church ALLOWS you to worship God, and does not condemn it, then I suppose I’ll put up with any taste they have. I can discipline myself to praise God no matter what the venue, whether I enjoy the style or not. Because at the end of the day, it’s about God, not my styles.

Notwithstanding, the Bible presented a large variety of instruments in Psalm 150, and I must say that my preference is for worship that is as exuberent, melodic, and heartfelt as possible! 🙂 No underlying ideas that it would be “sinful” if the instruments got “louder” than the vocals, that certain instruments are “off limits,” or that we have to have a nose-bleed zone of only the “right tone” of music allowed.

And alas! Someone will disparage this whole article as an “attempt to be cool” and tell me that “Christianity shouldn’t try to be cool!” But that is a topic for another day, and one which I am definitely planning to write upon. 🙂

When Churches Become Echo Chambers

I pray…That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. – John 17:20-23

Christ envisioned the church to be universal, unified, catholic (as opposed to fractured) – in short, “one.” But not an “echo chamber” sort of oneness – a familial, friendly, healthy sort of oneness. He envisioned a oneness that was so beautiful, it made unbelievers desire to become believers!

While churches may mentally connect “seeker-friendly” with compromising the truth, Jesus reached higher. He envisioned a communal love of truth that was naturally “seeker-friendly” and drew in outsiders. Jesus didn’t labor under the false burden that it was impossible to embrace both truth and kindness.

When it comes to the internet, the term “echo chamber” has arisen to describe the effect of joining communities of strictly like-minded people which tends to narrow people’s views increasingly. But it seems to be a problem for many churches, too.

Due in part to Obama’s shaming of Christianity, an inverse effect has happened inside the church. As the church loses its power with society, pastors suddenly find themselves with freakish powers over their particular congregations. Spiritual cabin fever sets in, and suddenly “questioning the pastor” becomes the highest sin in the book.

I, for one, do not feel that Sinai is an acceptable model for the church. It even seems that the underlying reason God didn’t allow Moses to enter the promised land may have been his emphasis on law over grace. His instance of yelling at the people and striking the rock to bring forth water (instead of simply speaking to it) may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for God (Num. 20:12; Deu. 1:37). I think God hates when we obfuscate that salvation is by grace through faith; and though Moses certainly served his predestined place in spiritual history, we have a better covenant now built on better promises and which clearly reveals that justification is by faith alone (Heb. 8:6; Rom. 3:24; 5:1).

We must remember, too, that the whole point of the law was to “shut us up” from self-righteous attempts at heaven, “unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed” (Gal. 3:22-25; Rom. 3:19-21ff). Therefore, to revert back to citing how the earth swallowed up dissenters of Moses in the Old Testament in order to maintain power as a pastor; seems, to me, a very dangerous idea. Are you as a pastor removing your flock from the sure foundation of Christ, and building on the shifting sands of legalism?

And it is exactly here that I can finally “begin” this article. Many churches suffer from being “echo chambers” in my opinion. Whether it is some Baptist churches ever suffering from a mushy, apolitical bent; whether it is some holiness churches, laboring under a works salvation mentality; whether it is so-called plain churches, with their obsessive requirement that everyone must interpret 1 Cor. 11:5 exactly as they do; or whether it is some black churches, that foster a mentality of gaming the system and embracing the Democrat party – so many churches today have become veritable echo-chambers!

Seriously, try simply talking about the relevant touchy issues in any such churches, and you’re labeled a schismatic and heretic whom the ground must immediately open up to swallow!

But such churches are thousands of years too late – Jesus has already come, and His religion brought “grace and truth” rather than Moses’ “law” (John 1:17) – indeed, I dare say that God never intended such things to be viewed as the true approach to God. Even under Moses, the spiritual path to God was faith – was justification by faith – belief in grace. Though legalism served a purpose, it was never the true path to God, and converts of the Old Testament were able to see this true intent of God behind the smoke and mirrors of legality, and simply trust Him for their salvation. No one in either dispensation earned their way to heaven.

In any event, I was glad to see a Catholic (bishop Schneider) speaking along these same lines. I’m not a Catholic, but what he said was so true. Disliking the atmosphere of fear created by the new Pope, he said, “the Church is a family where discussion is possible.” That sounds so self-evident, but he’s considered by many as a sort of “heretic” for daring to “undermine” the Pope. Well, the Pope undermined himself by failing to align with spiritual reality (I’m not saying on this issue which I haven’t studied, but on other issues which I have studied).

On the issue at hand (giving communion to adulterers), I personally would offer communion to whoever was gathered (how do you know who might or might not be an adulterer, liar, etc.??) – why do we think we’re responsible for what someone else does? If someone walked up, grabbed the communion out of a priest’s hands, and desecrated it by stomping on it, why is it the priest’s fault? It’s not. It’s the fault of the guy who desecrated it. But that is a digression.

The point is, many conservatives feel downright uncomfortable to even discuss things or to ask questions or to try to understand, inside the Catholic church. And they have good reason to feel that way, because they could be “put out” by the Pope!

But it’s too common in Protestant churches also. Obama, by publicly ridiculing Christianity, has inadvertently made pastors feel way too powerful over their congregations. We definitely have a case of many pastors that “lord it over” their flocks these days, contra 1 Pet. 5:3. I think many are simply confused and feel like they have to preach along such lines. But, confused or not, I think it’s time to realize our error and seek to change.

If we as Christians are to be winsome to the world, we have to be friendly to the world. And to do so, we must be accepted and appreciated in our churches. The attitudes of exclusion have to be replaced with brotherly benevolence. The legalisms of the heart have to be replaced with the gracious way God views His true-born children. ESPECIALLY after an antichrist like Obama has made Christianity so unpopular.

Let us lay aside the insolence, and strive to respect one another – especially those who have taken it upon themselves to stand for what is true. We are an army, and we MUST have comradery. We must especially lift up the arms of the guys holding the standard, not decry them as “schismatics.” And that is a reference to Moses that is most suitable even in our dispensation of grace (Ex. 17:11)!

Thoughts on Malachi 3 16 18

Written by Brad Caldwell on Jan. 29, 2017.

“Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another:” – Mal. 3:16a

Comradery – a spirit of kinship or friendship – is seen here to be a natural outcome of faith. The idea that we have each other’s backs – that we are a group whose unity is only fortified by our adversaries – is more or less taken for granted in passages like these.

“And the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him” – Mal. 3:16b

Perhaps the best instance of this that comes to mind is the friendship between David and Jonathan: “the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” (1 Sam. 18:1). It wasn’t just any friendship – it was friendship centered around a common understanding of who God is and what He is like.

A modern example is a college friendship between Tait and McKeehan – again centered around a shared love of God – which no doubt was how their band, dc Talk, ended up becoming the most influential Christian band of the 90s.

Michael Tait Now of the Newsboys
Michael Tait Now of the Newsboys

“For them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.” – Mal. 3:16c

It’s not unity alone, but unity around a Gospel of grace; unity around spiritual reality.

“And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” – Mal. 3:17

God sees individuals who desire and aspire for such an ideal as “jewels” – they are beautiful in His sight: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)!

“Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.” – Mal. 3:18

While Christianity is certainly a religion of the heart, it is not a religion of ignorance. There is no premium on refusing to “love the LORD your God with all your…mind” (Luke 10:27). Of course, literally, this passage just means to love God with all your ability, but just to be a little bit wooden, part of your ability is the mind God blessed you with.

Fruit of faith in Christ, and of the exhibition of kindness towards one another, is discernment.

Now, by discernment is not meant that we should nit-pick our fellow believers, or anyone else. Neither is it meant that we should be implacable (unwilling to forgive) if someone has “stumbled seriously.”

The vitriol expressed by many conservatives towards the moral failings of liberals (and vice versa), and the unwilliness to forgive if someone should repent, could not be farther from the discernment spoken of here.

No, Biblical discernment is the kind that Jesus exercised. It led Him to forgive the adulterous woman, and to rail against the pious religionists of His day, who not only were inconsistent, but had horrible attitudes.

When the Bible speaks of discernment, it simply means being in accord with God’s reality.

God first says that right is right, and wrong is wrong (Isa. 5:20). He also says that He is not willing that any should perish (2 Pet. 3:9).

2 Peter 3:9b
2 Peter 3:9b

When it comes to hot issues of the day like refugees, it can be easy to jump to a conclusion. While we want to be loving, we sometimes need to take a little time to study all the details of a case.

Did the failures of liberalism create the crisis in the first place by trying to topple Assad via arming so-called moderate “freedom fighters” who were actually fighting against the people of Syria, and even engaged in beheading Christians and children(*, **)? Might some radicalized individuals want to game the opportunity of being a “refugee” to get into America (“the Great Satan,” as we are called) and commit terror?

If Trump has said he is giving priority to the refugees who are Christian or who have actually been targeted the most for persecution in their former countries, isn’t that a good thing? Why did Obama discriminate against the Christians, and show no heart towards them? Why didn’t everybody gather at JFK airport to protest Obama’s rejection of Christian refugees? Why didn’t people protest much more loudly about Obama doing what he did in Syria?

It’s easy to get manipulated. And it’s disheartening when professed “holiness” people become ensnared by Satan in siding with extreme, liberal notions. Good water and bad water can’t flow from the same source (James 3:11).

It may very well be that some sincere people get hurt by the policies of Trump. And no human leader is perfect. But it pays to look at the big picture, or at least hold back on railing against people who have spent hours upon hours looking into getting accurate details, and who have reached a conclusion that appears “uncaring.” What if God sees the ones being called “uncaring” as actually the ones trying the most to help?

Additional support for “Thoughts on Malachi 3:16-18”:

*CNN’s Jake Tapper interviews Democratic Congresswoman from Hawaii about her first-hand trip to Syria.

**Cheri Berens lives in Egypt and has a lot of information on the subject.

Ted Cruz at RedState Atlanta

The following are pictures that I personally took with my phone while in attendance at RedState in Atlanta, GA last year (August 2015). It was an indescribably awesome event, and I can’t explain how awesome it was to see and hear Ted Cruz in person for the very first time. I know people always hate me to say stuff like this, but it’s what I really think – Cruz is an awesome fighter for the things that God cares about, and I think all the opposition Cruz has seen from religious circles is either because very few people know God, or at the very least, very few people have seen a deep revelation of what God cares about. It’s time the church rises up and blesses this godly servant for fighting against the elephant that has been sitting in the room that no preacher had to guts to say anything about. Hope you enjoy these pics of Ted Cruz at RedState Atlanta!!

UPDATE: I added 6 short videos of Cruz interacting with the crowd!

Ted Cruz at RedState Atlanta (August 2015)

The Glory of Self Government

The glory of self government is seen fore-mostly because it is a fruit of the Spirit. But it also brings with it industry, participation, ambition, and a host of other practical benefits in a society.

But the fruit of the Spirit is…self-control: against such there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23

Some argue that this final of the seven fruits of the Spirit should be translated as “Holy-Spirit-control” rather than “self-control,” for they say that doing anything in the power of “self” is antithetical to Christianity, which is a religion of God’s enabling grace. I agree with that concept, as all good has its source in God; nevertheless, there is a world of possibilities in this concept of self-control as a fruit of the Spirit’s creation.

The Glory of Self Government - A Fruit of the Spirit
The Glory of Self Government – A Fruit of the Spirit

Related to the idea of self-control are the ideas of autonomy, self-respect, drive, optimism, vision, charityhealthy ambition, and self-government. To get a picture of what is meant by self-government, go back to the small, fledgling country of Israel in the 1950s and 60s. Imagine how the Jews had moved there with vision, making “aliyah.” Consider how they had skin in the game when Arab nations immediately began to attack them. Think of how Captain Uziel Gal of the IDF had invented the now-famous Uzi machine gun as a contribution to the safety of his nation, following the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, and the horrors of the Holocaust. Think of the enterprise and endeavor of the business owners in that new desert region. This is a fairly good picture of “self-government,” and it’s a wonderful thing. There is productivity, charity, benevolence, law, and a great degree of order in a most unstable and unsettled region of the world.

Captain Uziel Gal
Captain Uziel Gal

This has been a picture of America, as well. The founders had a vision that life was bigger than allowing bullies to terrorize and kill people at sea. The God-given opportunities for greatness and freedom in a new land were too special to be squandered living under the petulant demands of a foreign king. In the early days of America, government was simply the exercise of people’s will. They had a government because it could serve a purpose.

These days, the government is wholly outside of our hands, too big and complex for us to even influence, and has become a bloated destroyer of the economy (e.g., EPA, red tape on nuclear power, etc.), and a means to enabling our overthrow by enemies via funding them (e.g., the Iran Deal).

That is a sad picture; but there’s no excuse for it when 70% of Americans profess the Christian religion (as of 2014).

Can you imagine Israel, having entered their land; and, instead of crowning King David, they stick their tail between their legs like a beta-dog and crown one of the few Canaanites remaining among them as their King? And then picture them holding five synagogue meetings a week to preach to each other about the necessity of increased persecution from the Canaanite government, and you have a perfect portrait of the church in America today.

Christianity Is Not a Beta-Dog Religion
Christianity Is Not a Beta-Dog Religion

That is where the church is. She is a beta-dog, and happy to be so. You will not find any of the leaders in the Bible (Abraham, David, Solomon, Jeremiah, Jesus, Paul, Peter) acting like a beta-dog. No. They had confidence and boldness. They had self-respect. And they believed that what they preached was the truth.

The closest you come to a Christian leader acting like a beta-dog in the Bible is when the Apostle Peter became legalistic and inconsistent and would not eat with Gentiles, and Paul had to rebuke him.

But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. – Paul, Galatians 2:11

Where there is self-government, people care about each other. People care, period. The opposite of self-government is abdication of leadership, and it leads to sloth, pettiness, disregard for life, disinterest in earning an honest living and thereby helping others, and so on.

Self-government is precisely why many small businesses flourish and become benefactors to society – somebody had an idea, and had the insanity to imagine that they could do it themselves!

I don’t know what the best answer is for our country going forward, but I do know we as spiritual Ahabs should again assume a measure of leadership. Where there’s a will, there’s a way to self-government. Paul was tortured for awhile, but he found a way for the Romans to treat him and his fellow believers with respect, even when they were only a tiny minority.

Innocent people are losing their heads in Syria. Our economy is suffering. Immorality is being promoted. It’s time for the 70% to earnestly reach for the glory of self government.

Those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them. – Pressfield paraphrasing Socrates

Ted Cruz Memes 2016

Ted Cruz Memes 2016

I created most all of these. The pictures from Iowa, Atlanta, Alabama, and Tennessee are my own. Any other images I believe were available under Creative Commons for generic use, so feel free to share any and all of these!

Humpty-Trumpty
Humpty-Trumpty
Cruz Is "Nasty" to the RINOs. That's a Good Thing.
Cruz Is “Nasty” to the RINOs. That’s a Good Thing.
And Then I Said...
And Then I Said…
I Enthusiastically Support Cruz for President!
I Enthusiastically Support Cruz for President!
Elect Ted Cruz and Send Cold-Hearted Murderers to the Slammer
Elect Ted Cruz and Send Cold-Hearted Murderers to the Slammer
Don't Let the Car Fool You - My Prius Comes with CRUZ CONTROL!
Don’t Let the Car Fool You – My Prius Comes with CRUZ CONTROL!
CRUZn to the WH!
CRUZn to the WH!
Prosecute Any and All Felonies in PP!
Prosecute Any and All Felonies in PP!
Restore America to Greatness!
Restore America to Greatness!
Every Time...
Every Time…
Imagine...
Imagine…
Two Incredible Jesus Freaks!
Two Incredible Jesus Freaks!
Ted Won't Tolerate This Junk
Ted Won’t Tolerate This Junk
It's the People's Turn!
It’s the People’s Turn!
I Need $100K in Emotional Damages!
I Need $100K in Emotional Damages!
Lets Actually Swing the Pendulum Back, Not Vote for More of the Same!
Lets Actually Swing the Pendulum Back, Not Vote for More of the Same!
Hillary Tries Uploading Spontaneity and Humor. Lol.
Hillary Tries Uploading Spontaneity and Humor. Lol.
Pray for Ted
Pray for Ted
Restore That Shining City on a Hill!
Restore That Shining City on a Hill!
Ted Cruz Is the Best Candidate, Bar None
Ted Cruz Is the Best Candidate, Bar None
No More RINOs
No More RINOs
RINOs, Hows About Sitting This One Out? Ted Has GOT This!
RINOs, Hows About Sitting This One Out? Ted Has GOT This!
Ted - Not Owned by the Banks
Ted – Not Owned by the Banks
A 2016 Jesus Freak
A 2016 Jesus Freak

ted-cruz-a-bully-pulpit-that-encourages-the-gospel-graceworks-church-s - Copy

Ted Cruz for Revival
Ted Cruz for Revival
Ted - the Reaganesque Candidate
Ted – the Reaganesque Candidate
Ted Is Here to Help!
Ted Is Here to Help!
In the Mold of the Founders
In the Mold of the Founders
You Can Actually Get Excited About Cruz!
You Can Actually Get Excited About Cruz!
Ted Stood with Kim Davis - Where Were Trump and the Others?
Ted Stood with Kim Davis – Where Were Trump and the Others?
Ted Knows How to Command a Bully Pulpit - with Calmness, not Brashness
Ted Knows How to Command a Bully Pulpit – with Calmness, not Brashness
Ted Cares about Religious Liberty - Does Your Candidate?
Ted Cares about Religious Liberty – Does Your Candidate?
Ted Cruz or Bust!!
Ted Cruz or Bust!!
Ted Is the Rebellion Leader!
Ted Is the Rebellion Leader!
Rebel WITH a Cause!
Rebel WITH a Cause!
Be THIS Guy!
Be THIS Guy!
The Naysayers Can't Stop Him!
The Naysayers Can’t Stop Him!
The Cross Has Power
The Cross Has Power
RedState Loved Ted Cruz!
RedState Loved Ted Cruz!
Iowa Religious Liberty Rally
Iowa Religious Liberty Rally
Waiting to Hear a Preacher Get onto Politics
Waiting to Hear a Preacher Get onto Politics
DC Is Nasty - Not Ted!
DC Is Nasty – Not Ted!
The Watchman Sees Cruz
The Watchman Sees Cruz
A Cruz Missile Would Be Very Effective!
A Cruz Missile Would Be Very Effective!
Forget the RINOs - Chuz Cruz!
Forget the RINOs – Chuz Cruz!
Humpty-Trumpty
Humpty-Trumpty

The Opposition to the Coronation of King David

King David began his rule according to most scholars in the early 11th century B.C., say 1010 B.C. But the fight for his coronation seems to have drawn much of the life, energy, and gentleness out of David, for it was arguably the hardest fight of any king in Israel’s history. After having endured the ridicule of his own brothers when he wanted to fight Goliath (and they were too scared to do so!), and having engaged and killed Goliath, he later earned the unasked for hatred of King Saul, who had become quite antichrist in his reign. While David was then extremely popular with the people for a time (remember the refrain, “Saul hath killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!” [1 Samuel 18:7]?), David’s righteous character in not wanting to take the killing of Saul into his own hands eventually eroded his favor with a people that didn’t share nearly his level of integrity. Although David could have killed Saul numerous times and claimed “self-defense” as a justifiable reason, David was one who walked with God, and didn’t feel like it was God’s will for him to kill his leader. David wanted to wait for God’s judgment to bring Saul’s demise. And so, by the time David was finally made king over Judah (2 tribes of Israel), the rest of Israel (10 tribes) wanted Ish-Bosheth (Saul’s son) to be king instead. It’s a sad case when someone has gone far above and beyond anything that could be asked in striving to win people’s favor and do good to a nation, and yet a person who just happens to be someone’s son is more liked. It shows a shallowness too common among citizens. But King David would become King over all Israel, for he was anointed by God to do so.

David Playing the Harp Before King Saul
David Playing the Harp Before King Saul

Exhibit A in the Opposition to the Coronation of King David: an Antichrist Ruler

In many cases in 1 Samuel, apostate King Saul sought to find and kill King David. The way David surmounted this obstacle was by his faithfulness to God. David had a “crazy” sort of faith in God, that led him to near-certain-death scenario time after time, but God supernaturally kept Saul from killing him. Saul even used weird rhetoric, implying that David was wicked, and that “God” was going to give David into his hand (1 Samuel 23:7). This, no doubt, was a chance for David to prove to God that he sincerely believed in Him, and was going to take the hard road of obedience to God’s will. This is a closeness to God that is rare even among true believers.

Exhibit B of the Opposition to the Coronation of King David: a Disaffected People

As has been previously mentioned, the thing that made David insanely popular for a time (his courage of convictions and faith in God) as the slayer of Goliath; also made him unpopular over time, as the people lusted for a leader with less “scruples” than David was exhibiting towards Saul. David knew that Saul was wicked, but that wasn’t enough for the people – they wanted someone to kill Saul whether they felt right about it or not. And when David displayed that he wasn’t going to do that, they began to like King Saul, and his son Ish-Bosheth. Kind of funny – the same people that no longer liked David because he wasn’t “anti-Saul” enough, then turn to embrace Saul. But inconsistencies like these are not uncommon.

Exhibit C of the Opposition to the Coronation of King David: Political Opponents

“Therefore, be strong and courageous, for though Saul your lord is dead, the house of Judah has anointed me (David) king over them.” 8 Abner son of Ner, commander of Saul’s army,  took Saul’s son Ish-bosheth and moved him to Mahanaim. 9 He made him king over Gilead, Asher, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin—over all Israel. – 2 Samuel 2:7-9, HCSB

When we get to the crowning of David as king over Judah, a “political opponent” by the name of Abner rises up all of the sudden and feels it is his bounden duty to make Ish-Bosheth king over the ten tribes of Israel! I see a principle here – when there is no one with a vision, the political field is clear; but when someone gets a vision of doing good and being a righteous ruler, suddenly all of the chaff put themselves forward! And it’s similar in religion. Is there someone that would do things for God? Is there someone that wants to advance the kingdom of God? So often, every unregenerate legalist in town becomes downright religious, and will needs become a preacher!

But after this “night” of suffering, a “morning” is coming, both for David and for the nation. In a kind of foreshadowing of things to come, David gets the wife that Saul had originally promised him for getting 100 foreskins of the Philistines:

Then David sent messengers to Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, demanding, “Give me my wife Michal, whom I betrothed to myself for the price of a hundred Philistine foreskins.” 15 So Ish-Bosheth gave orders and had her taken away from her husband Paltiel son of Laish. 16 Her husband, however, went with her, weeping behind her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, “Go back home!” So he went back. – 2 Samuel 3:14-16

Those that had loved the rewards of going along with a state of unreality found their illegitimate joys snatched from their hands at last, as if by a kind of divine karma, and given to the hated ones who had stood for truth! There is a lesson here – you may choose the pleasures of lawlessness for a time, and get rewarded for it, but don’t be surprised if God rips it out of your hands at the last, and gives it to your friend, who is better than you!

Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingship of Israel away from you today and has given it to your neighbor who is better than you. – 1 Samuel 15:28, HCSB

But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee. – 1 Samuel 13:14, KJV

The Coronation of King David

In 2 Samuel 2:1-7, David is made king over Judah; in chapter 5:1-5 he is made king over all Israel. Hallelujah! And with this coronation, Israel experiences their “Golden Age” – the most blessed time of their existence – as a man after God’s heart has the rule over the nation, and uses his influence as a means of immense good!

As I think upon these verses, I cannot help but to make a modern day application. I see probably two Republican candidates that appear to be men of integrity (Ted Cruz and Ben Carson), but one stands out to me as fighting this same fight that King David once did – that is Ted Cruz.

He has endured all the same kinds of things as King David. He has a heart for conservatism and God’s honor. He has stood up to an antichristian Obama. He has been hated and mocked by Obama. He has seen his favor with the people wane because of his integrity, as people embrace the “tough man” rhetoric of Donald Trump over the proven record of Cruz. And he has seen political opponents pop out of the woodwork and jump in the race like it’s going out of fashion! At one point, there were some 16 other candidates who felt the need to try to steal the coronation from Ted Cruz. In election cycles where no one is standing for anything (’08, ’12), no one cares. But as soon as a very principled leader arises with the support of “We the people,” suddenly everybody feels constrained to jump in the race. The thing is, we’re already seeing signs of good things to come. Ted Cruz has the most money in the bank of any Republican candidate, and he is increasing in the polls. He has the best ground game of any of the candidates, and the primary schedule is definitely in his favor, with Texas, the “SEC” states (Alabama, Georgia, others), and others as early voters this time. I don’t know who will win, but I know that Ted Cruz has God’s presence with him in a supernatural way. I know that Ted Cruz ABSOLUTELY DESERVES to win! And I trust that, with God, all things are possible! If Carter gave us Ronald Reagan, perhaps it took Obama to give us the greatest president America has ever had – a President Ted Cruz. I hope you will join me in praying for, and spreading the name of, a man that has done so much to try to help our nation. God bless.

Getting Ready to Pray
Getting Ready to Pray

Where Have All the Fanatics Gone

Written by Brad Caldwell on Sept. 22, 2015

If Christianity and truth are anything, they are fanatical. I can’t think of anything more antithetical to spiritual reality than apathy. And I have a question – where have all the fanatics gone?

Of course, I mean fanatics for truth.

God saved me when I was 16 years old, and if I saw anything, it was that God wanted me to put truth ahead of all else.

I was blessed to be able to meet with fellow Christians at high school before school began for “First Priority,” “Fellowship of Christian Students,” “Rally Around the Flag,” or other spontaneous events. I remember with great fondness singing Christian songs for the first time, and the camaraderie of young believers wanting to live for Christ in the midst of a pretty wicked public school.

In high school, I recall friends standing up in class to share their faith, someone running for school president in order to share the Gospel, and us Christians trying to witness to fellow students not infrequently.

I remember meeting around the flag pole at lunch regularly to meditate on the Bible with a few other Christians.

We believed strongly in justification by faith and eternal security. We naturally had, by God’s grace, a good degree of holiness. And there was absolutely no question that we were politically conservative. Liberalism was seen as the very devil from hell, and rightfully.

Of course in college we Christians went various different directions for further education/vocation. I found a church where I was at college that was extremely radical. I had a question mark about them since they taught conditional security, but when I asked, they said they believed in “salvation by grace through faith,” which would “naturally result in good works.” There was so much good that, after studying the Scriptures, I genuinely believed they had the truth on the subject.

Again, this was a group of radicals. They preached the Word like they meant it, sang enthusiastically, preached open-air, dressed very modestly, believed in charismatic gifts, and again, were politically conservative. The preacher was very godly and mined the Scriptures like no one else I’ve ever heard.

But problems began to arise, somehow. I doubted my salvation about two years into being there, and had a tremendous time trying to overcome that. On top of that, political liberalism and bullying started to infect the church about that time (not from the preacher, but among the group). Then Obama came to power, and things got horrible. In 2013 the pastor died, and the two people he left in charge took over.

In April of 2015, fourteen years after joining that church, I fell and broke my back. One of the leaders suggested it was God’s punishment for me commending Ted Cruz online. He asked me to say nothing good about conservatives, and nothing bad about the Democrat party. The other leader was more forceful, and told me not to come back, unless I had a thorough change-of-mind and agree to not commend any conservatives online. I could commend them “in my heart,” but not online.

Well, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. What insanity to be asked to say nothing good about conservatives!

And what is sad is that, to date, no one has stood with me on this. Either the rest of the people in the church do not know what was asked of me, or have decided to side with the insane requirement to say nothing good of conservatives (at least online!). That’s extremely sad, because all of these people once stood for conservatism, and as much as they may hate it, there are corollary things to standing for Jesus. Early Christians were persecuted for preaching through Jesus the resurrection from the dead – they were preaching a doctrine (resurrection of believers) and were persecuted for that, not just for standing for Jesus. And I’m sorry, but a conservative outlook goes hand-in-hand with believing in Jesus. When someone goes along with the requirement to say nothing good of conservatives, they are denying Jesus in my opinion. And that’s sad, because these were my closest of friends.

And so now I’m asking, “Where have all the fanatics gone?” Where are people that are on fire for Jesus, for purity, for eternal security, for conservatism? Where are fanatics for the truth? Where are the people who see value in being an “outcast” from the world, as Jesus was, in order to stand for truth? Has the entirety of sincere Christians bought the Obama mess? I’m hoping to see revival, and a restoration of people that are fanatical, not for Islam, not for Democrats, but for the true Gospel!

Can 501c3 Churches Preach on Politics

Written by Brad Caldwell on Sept. 20, 2015

Have you ever heard someone say, “We can’t preach on politics because of our 501c3 status”? Well, I’m unsettled to hear that a preacher “cannot” preach on something that, to me, is one of the most important things of our day. So I decided to do a bit of study on the subject, because if preachers can’t preach the truth, what’s the point of being a preacher?

If Preachers Cant Preach the Truth Whats the Point
If Preachers Can’t Preach the Truth, What’s the Point?

Most people have probably heard the weird term, “501c3.” In short, it’s a part of the IRS tax code that specifies that tax-exempt organizations cannot support or oppose any political candidate, and cannot surpass a “lobbying ceiling amount” which is basically 20% of their expenditures.

So the question arises:

“Can 501c3 Churches Preach on Politics?”

To my reading of the tax code, it appears that indeed they can preach on politics, but they have to stop shy of supporting or opposing any individual candidate. In other words, they can preach against how it is evil for the Democrat party to support abortion, but they can’t say it’s evil to vote for Barack Obama.

Well, I think a more fundamental question arises: “Is it possible for a preacher to be faithful to God without preaching a full-orbed, unfettered message that shuns from touching neither politics nor politicians?” And of course the answer to that is a resounding, “No!”

John the Baptist Not a Man Pleaser
John the Baptist – Not a “Man-Pleaser”!

Could John the Baptist be John the Baptist if he agreed (for a substantially greater amount of locusts and wild honey per annum!) not to point his bony finger at King Herod and reprove him for his incestuous adultery? I think not (Luke 3:7-9). Could Jesus have been Jesus if He agreed to keep the four-drachma coin from the fish’s mouth if the temple tax collectors had offered Him exemption for not speaking against the Pharisees? Never (Matthew 17:24-27)!

Many Preachers Are Denying Jesus Over the Four-Drachma Coin of 501c3 Status
Many Preachers Are Denying Jesus Over the “Four-Drachma Coin” of 501c3 Status

So how comes it that preachers are afraid, not just of commending good politicians (a near oxymoron), but of speaking in broad generalities against the evils of abortion, gay marriage, living together, or socialized medicine?

I think God has had enough. If a preacher is not willing to preach all the truth, and as Martin Luther would point out, especially that particular portion of truth which is most unpopular and most attacked at that moment, then they’re not worthy of the name, “pastor.”

“Where Did This Limitation of Free Speech Come From?”

According to Pew Research Center,

The prohibition on political campaign intervention did not become part of the Internal Revenue Code until 1954, when an amendment to section 501(c)(3) was introduced by then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson during a Senate floor debate on the 1954 Internal Revenue Code. The prohibition was added to the code without hearings, testimony or comment by any tax-exempt organizations. Although there is no legislative history to indicate definitively why Johnson sought enactment of the political campaign intervention prohibition, neither is there any evidence that the prohibition was targeted at political campaign intervention by religious organizations.

I have a question. Why isn’t anyone talking about repealing this awful amendment to 501c3 so that preachers may have freedom of speech in their pulpits, while still maintaining tax-exempt status? Shouldn’t our government encourage morality by offering preachers of the Gospel tax-exempt status without twisting their arm and asking them to not prophesy at Bethel, for “it is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court” (Amos 7:12-14)? Any preacher worth his salt will reply just as Amos did to this governmental attempt at manipulation of his or her message:

Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but Iwas an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit: And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel. Now therefore hear thou the word of the LORD: Thou sayest, Prophesy not against Israel, and drop not thy word against the house of Isaac. Therefore thus saith the LORD; Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided by line; and thou shalt die in a polluted land: and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land.

Amos Couldn't Be Bought Off by King Amaziah
Amos Couldn’t Be Bought Off by King Amaziah

What did Amos do when the government pressure threatened to squeeze him outside of God’s will? He doubled down and increased the heat of his message by delivering a terrifying prophesy to the king for his antichrist actions!

If you as a preacher think it’s too “political” to hope to change a Democrat’s amendment to an IRS rule, you’d better at least be prepared to do whatever it takes, including paying lots of taxes, in order to speak the truth. But if you compromise, and agree to dilute your message, I’m not impressed, and I don’t think the younger generation is, either. And I know that God is not impressed.

The Boring Legal Stuff – “What Is the Exact Language of 501c3?”

If you’re interested enough to actually read the tax code, it’s fairly short – at least 501c3 is extremely short, but it references 501h, which is longer and harder to understand. Here’s 501c3, from Cornell University Law School:

Corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition (but only if no part of its activities involve the provision of athletic facilities or equipment), or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals, no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in subsection (h)), and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.

The reference to 501h is rather confusing, but it basically means that tax-exempt churches cannot spend more than 20% of their budget on “lobbying or grassroots expenditures.” If they spend astronomical amounts above $500,000, there’s a sort of bracketed decrease in the percentage of expenditures that can be political, and it caps at some $1 million, if I understood it aright. So here’s 501h:

Expenditures by public charities to influence legislation

(1) General rule

In the case of an organization to which this subsection applies, exemption from taxation under subsection (a) shall be denied because a substantial part of the activities of such organization consists of carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation, but only if such organization normally—
(A)makes lobbying expenditures in excess of the lobbying ceiling amount for such organization for each taxable year, or
(B)makes grass roots expenditures in excess of the grass roots ceiling amount for such organization for each taxable year.

(2) Definitions

For purposes of this subsection—

(A) Lobbying expenditures

The term “lobbying expenditures” means expenditures for the purpose of influencing legislation (as defined in section 4911(d)).

(B) Lobbying ceiling amount

The lobbying ceiling amount for any organization for any taxable year is 150 percent of the lobbying nontaxable amount for such organization for such taxable year, determined under section 4911.

(C) Grass roots expenditures

The term “grass roots expenditures” means expenditures for the purpose of influencing legislation (as defined in section 4911(d) without regard to paragraph (1)(B) thereof).

(D) Grass roots ceiling amount

The grass roots ceiling amount for any organization for any taxable year is 150 percent of the grass roots nontaxable amount for such organization for such taxable year, determined under section 4911.

(3) Organizations to which this subsection applies

This subsection shall apply to any organization which has elected (in such manner and at such time as the Secretary may prescribe) to have the provisions of this subsection apply to such organization and which, for the taxable year which includes the date the election is made, is described in subsection (c)(3) and—
(A)is described in paragraph (4), and
(B)is not a disqualified organization under paragraph (5).

(4) Organizations permitted to elect to have this subsection apply

An organization is described in this paragraph if it is described in—
(A)section 170(b)(1)(A)(ii) (relating to educational institutions),
(B)section 170(b)(1)(A)(iii) (relating to hospitals and medical research organizations),
(C)section 170(b)(1)(A)(iv) (relating to organizations supporting government schools),
(D)section 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) (relating to organizations publicly supported by charitable contributions),
(E)section 509(a)(2) (relating to organizations publicly supported by admissions, sales, etc.), or
(F)section 509(a)(3) (relating to organizations supporting certain types of public charities) except that for purposes of this subparagraph, section 509(a)(3) shall be applied without regard to the last sentence of section 509(a).

(5) Disqualified organizations

For purposes of paragraph (3) an organization is a disqualified organization if it is—
(A)described in section 170(b)(1)(A)(i) (relating to churches),
(B)an integrated auxiliary of a church or of a convention or association of churches, or
(C)a member of an affiliated group of organizations (within the meaning of section 4911(f)(2)) if one or more members of such group is described in subparagraph (A) or (B).

(6) Years for which election is effective

An election by an organization under this subsection shall be effective for all taxable years of such organization which—
(A)end after the date the election is made, and
(B)begin before the date the election is revoked by such organization (under regulations prescribed by the Secretary).

(7) No effect on certain organizations

With respect to any organization for a taxable year for which—
(A)such organization is a disqualified organization (within the meaning of paragraph (5)), or
(B)an election under this subsection is not in effect for such organization,
nothing in this subsection or in section 4911 shall be construed to affect the interpretation of the phrase, “no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation,” under subsection (c)(3).

(8) Affiliated organizations

For rules regarding affiliated organizations, see section 4911(f).

Disclaimer: This is my understanding of what the tax code appears to be saying, but you are liable for your own conclusions. I disclaim liability.