Undercover Christian: How to keep Legalism and Bondage live and well in your Church Pt 2

One person said, “If you consider the church roll the Lambs Book of life, you’re surely trapped in legalism and bondage in your heart.” Most churches and the people in their pews lovelike Mike Tyson-you know, “If you don’t tickle my ears with the prosperity message, stroke my ego everytime I walk through the church doors and tell me I’m not a sinner, ‘I’ll eat your children'”.
Unfortunately, in the church,  love in the twenty-first century has to do with more of the who’s who list than any sermon on the mount or 1 Corinthians 13.  If you’re an average Joe trying to find God and you become transparent in most churches, you’ll most likely get that Stone-cold-Steve Austin-stare with a hint of Gary Coleman, “What you talkin’ bout Willis?”
Love has taken a back seat to the do’s and don’ts of the old testement and if you’redoin’, then you can’t have any part of our Jesus, at least not at most churches. Surely don’t let some homeless guy walk down the isles to get saved.   “Don’t they understand how that makes the church look-C’mon we got an image to protect”, some would say. Then you woke up and realized Christ was all about the down-trodden, oppressed and the poor.

We would be shocked to find out how few alter calls are going on around the country in the name of being politically correct or to keep with the program agenda. This is the bondage and legalistic spirit of the Pharisee.

I’ll tell you one way that a lot of churches are unfortunately keeping their people in the cement block of bondage: dictacting to the choir what they can and can’t wear, making Sunday’s to be more of a fashion show about whos got the nicest glad rags than about the God they are actually singing about.  I know of a pastor who was decieved into thinking that God was still genuinely ministering through his choir when he, the elders and many others new first hand that the mostly women choir, and single mothers at that, were as about as loving as a bunch of back alley street cats squabling over a dead bird during their practice sessions-no genuine love whatsoever.

And then they’re trying to lead the congregation into worshipping the  LORD in spirit and in truth.  Oh wait, stop the train! Plus the pastors refused to hear the issues of the choir members who were continually having to buy more clothes was causing a heavy burden and a bondage to the image of themselves and how they looked, instead of focusing on ushering in the Holy Spirit.  Many were going into debt,  fighting within their own hearts asking, “Can I afford this ministry and the gift God has given me to sing.  The question is,should they even have been put in that place to have to ask that question when the church actually already had beautiful choir robes? but decided not to use them anymore because they had a certain image they were trying to portray.

Also, they were eyed up and down weekly to see if they fit the criteria to even be on stage to serve God after they bought the outfits. Many of them simply could not afford the nicest outfits so the ones who couldn’t, were rebuked and felt less important than the ones who could afford the nicer ones.  Again, the problem could have beeneasily solved by simply putting the entire choir in the beautiful choir robes they had purchased years before, so all the petty-cattyness, jealousy, coveting, and financial bondage to clothes could have easily disapeared and God could’ve showed up.

But as we know through scriptures, if we are making our lives, our jobs, our service to himall about ourselves, we are handcuffing God and he won’t have anything to do with it. In the end that church was left with, and I’m sure there are many others around the country like it,  a bunch of people with good talent, but no annointing by the Holy Spirt. He wants the glory, it shouldn’t go to man, this aint American Iodol, we’re suspose to be the church of Jesus Christ.

This is why, again, you don’t have one pastor or leader in the church at the top, making all the decisions because an agenda is sure to creep in sooner or later with the sin nature going unchecked.  Another way to keep the church in bondage is to preach isogesis or the bible out of context. For example, judgement.  Most preachers only preach about this topic fromMatthew 7:1-2 if they ever even get around to preaching the subject Now every sinner in America can quote this back to you faster than a lightning bolt striking the Sears Tower. The problem is the bible has much more to say about the subject than this lone scripture.

Actually,  genuine Christians are suppose to judge the fruits of other Christians and if we have two or more witness’s we are to even bring accusations to the board of a church against its elders and leadership if it is for a just cause. Unfortunately, lots of churches out there are creating a bunch legalistic, limp-wristed, jelly back Christians who wont stand for anything but political correctness.

Preachers don’t want to preach the whole truth anymore because most of them have more skeletons in there closet(during their active ministries) than a historical museum.

C’mon all you false teachers out there, you’re better than that.Remember, every church has its faults so if you’re looking for a perfect one and eventually find it, don’t join it because you’ll mess it up.  But if you and the other brethern are noticing a pattern of sin or darkness swepted underneath the rug, pray for wisdom on what to do and take a stand for the weaker, oppressed brothers and sisters in Christ who may not know how to fight for righteousness or may even be intimidated by the leaders into keeping silent.

Do whats right according to the scripture and make your church a genuineplace to learn about the oracles of God and his love and not just another pharisee training camp for a pack of fools.  When issues arise, whether it be in the pulpit or the pews, be ready to stand up and be used by God to make a change so your church isn’t just a train wreck waiting to happen.

I gave only a few examples of how leadership and people can get into legalism and bondage in a church-what are some other examples that you have seen or heard of and what have you found that the bible’s answer are for them?

Undercover Christian: How to keep Legalism and Bondage Live and Well in your Church Pt 1

A Pharisee: A person steeped in the traditions and rituals of the do’s and don’ts of religion-tearing people to ribbons with those cold-shark eyes, looking down their noses at them.  With their Billy Goats gruff full of dead traditions and rituals that dishonor God and his word, they prance around on their high-horse, steam rolling over hearts while persuing outward perfection for the eyes of others to see. His black robe over his head like the Grim Reaper who has come to feed the letter of the law, killing the very Spirit of itthat God intended in the first place.

They send neatly packed prayers up to God with the nicest wrap and most beautiful bows ties attached to make sure everyone in the room noticed it. Legalism causes people to dress in the nicest glad rags on Sundays and makes a show of their giving, while at the same time putting down the person who is poor and can’t afford to dress nicely or give a lot of money to keep up with the Jones’s. Many pastors, reverends, deacons and elders believe this is how God will give them, a breakthrough, enlarge their territory or prosper them.

Then they woke up–C’mon all you Pharisees steeped in legalism out there, you’ re better than that!

Lots of people and leaders in the church have become about as genuine as a tearful funeral director at a funeral, demons coming to the alter at a Billy Graham crusade, Sara Palin at a pro life rally–boom-shocka-locka, the truth hurts.

A great way to keep a church as disingenuous and full of bondage as possible is by letting the pastor have sole control at the top while he runs uncontrolled over everyone with decisions that are no longer from God because years prior, the church decided to give him complete authority in all decisions, including the hiring and firing of the very “yes” men he appoints around himself. When one man starts making all decisions in a church with no checks and balances, that church is surely headed for a train wreck.

But, Oh, wait stop the train-what a revelation on what NOT to do in running a church, so to be sure that God gets the glory for everything decided and done within its walls. Then the devil will have no place to start traditions that hold back the Spirit of the LORD from moving in the hearts of the people and leaders when He pleases.

In an article called, TheDivine Call & Accountability,  written by president of the site, Les Stahlke, says “What congregations must hold their pastors accountable for is precisely this:  their performance in providing sprirtual leadership and for staying within certain limitations while doing their spiritual work. That accountability is administered through the council, elders, voters, assembly, presbytery or whatever name the congregations give to its pastoral source for authority.”

We know this is part of the church government according to1Timothy 3:1-13,and Titus 1:6-9 which also describes the responsibility of these spiritual leaders set over the church by God.  Unfortunately some spiritual leaders are as about as corrupt and godless as ENRON. No accountability of the the spiritual leaders who also are able to make complete authoritative decisions about everything including finances only leads eventually to corruption and an eventual absence of the Spirit of the LORD from that church. The people have either turned a blind eye or thrown discernment out the window. Only if the people want to truly know God and seek his face will he then break the legalistic ways and habits that keep them in bondage to the enemy.

Do you know of any churches that have plummeted into legalism and bondage because of faulty leadership and what, if anything, did you presume to do?

Undercover Christian: Do You know Him today?

At my church today,the preacher has been teaching in depth about the riches ofJohn 3:16. He was at a funeral recently and he talked about a pastor who has been preaching for over 50 years and he quoted John 3:16 to him, as if Jesus himself actually quoted it to him saying, “God-the greatest person,so loved–the greatest degree, the world–the greatest group, that he gave his only begotten Son– the greatest sacrifice, that whosoever believe in Him–the greatest invitation, would never die-the greatest promise, but have eternal life–the greatest gift. Our Pastor got this revelation from the LORD through another pastor who was talking to him at a funeral, which is where our series at church Revisit 3:16 came from.

Most Christians hear this scripture and it may touch their heart, but lay it on the shelf after they pray for a little fire insurance–the eternal kind.

Most preachers don’t even want to preach this message because it is too basic, and most people in the pews have “itchin ears” unfortuantely to see what they can get from God –name it and claim it, as if he were some giant Santa clause in the sky, offering up to every child at their beckon wish. Unfortunately this is much of the church body has become because of the likes of preachers like Joel Olstein, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, T.D. Jakes, etc. Unfortunately, Jesus has just become another product that most just want to market.

However, today I honor my pastor for always preaching the truth and the unpopular message of the gospel. It’s what causes me to want to be great in the Kingdom, unlike the Bedouin on the cross, who just barely made a last second jump shot before hekicked the can. I don’t just want to “fake it till I make it” to Heaven. I want to experience him even more than I thought I did before. I strive to pursue excellence in Christ even though I fail at times. I am relentless at putting a stranglehold on the little sins that cause me to stumble.

If we are running the race like true believers, we’ll stop trotting around as if we are running for a worthless bag of peanuts, but strongly pace for an Olympic record of precious gems and stones, crowns and even sit with Christ on his throne, overcoming the darkness and sin of this world. The greatest thing is to, as Paul put it, Phillipians 3:14“I press towards the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” What is this high calling you ask? It is knowing him personally, loving him with all our heart, soul and strength and having a genuine true relationship with the Saviour of the world.

Whatever you do, don’t go through this lifetime thinking you have a relationship with the King and end up going to hell on a greasy pole with a tattered cape with an “L” for loser tattooed on it. Give your life genuinely to Jesus; he is the only hope for the lost.
This is the only way to know him: Surrender your life, your every breath to him and repent of your sins- trust in Him. Moreover, if you are not sure you know Jesus and are going through the church motions, remember the bible says in II Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourself to see if you be of the faith.”Do you know Jesus as your Saviour and LORD? If not and you would like to, pray Romans 10:9 and believe it with all your heart.  If you know the LORD, do you think you have room to grow in your relationship with him? If so, in what way?

Undercover Christian: Sexual sin-living together Pt 2

Why is it the cool thing to do to live with one another before one gets married? It is so sad that the world has spit on God’s perfect institution of marriage. A holy thing in the site of the LORD has been dumped on not only by the average Jane and John Does out there, but also, surprisingly, by Christians. When I was Undercover, I never had anyone living with me, but I surely had plenty of sleep over girlfriends, which is just as much sin in the eyes of the LORD as the other. But as a changed man who hates sin, especially of this particular sin that one that destroyed my life for so long, I must stand up against it and put the light ofGod’s Word on this dark subject.

In the late 90’s and the twenty-first century, it’s become the cool thing to do in living with your girlfriend or boyfriend before you marry them. Saves on the pocket book, gives you the chance to see them at their worse before you make any major commitments, plus it’s just convenient. Why drive across town to have relations and possibly be hit by a mac-truck, when you can have  someone “In house“.

A Columbia University study showed on average, 23% of people who co-habitat actually married the person they lived with during their period together. People lived together before marriage because they feel it is important to know one another physically before they get married, “test drive the car before you buy it,” right? Wrong. The problem is that people in the church, feel comfortable with this lie the world has perpetrated and unfortunately have followed their lead. Another study at National Council on Family Relations of 309 newlyweds found that those who cohabited first were less happy in marriage than those who never lived together before marriage.

The bible says in 1 Thessalonians 4:3 It is God’s will that you should be holy: that you should avoid sexual immorality. Although I have never cheated on my wife, I have committed fornication and adultery with other women when I was single. I repented 11 years ago of that foolishness and have not went back to wallow in the mud. We need men and women who are living for Christ to step up and keep the weaker brethren accountable. Get in that person’s business.  Ask  them the tough questions like, “who you hanging with behind closed doors of the opposite sex,  what are your conversations about,  have you been abstaining from physical contact, are you keeping your thoughts pure,etc?”   

If I would have had a good and godly man keeping me accountable for the first 27 years of my life, I wouldn’t have had even a quarter of the issues I have currently because of my past sinful ways.Nothing godly can when a Christian is not being accountable. But most Christians are afraid to stand up and discern a situation of possible immorality. Look what Jesus said in John 7:24. Many times people won’t say something to a fellow brother or sister in the church in sexual sin, because they don’t want to appear judgmental, but we must read the entirety of scriptures before we stick a fork in ourselves and say were done with calling sin out when we need to. Paul had no problem judging in 1 Corinthians 5.

Living together, especially for supposed Christians, is like putting the UG in Ugly before God’s eyes. For those of us who know of others who are doing this, we must take a stand for Christ, so that the world knows there is a difference between professing-undercover so-called Christians and genuine believers in Jesus Christ. Do you know any Christians who are currently co-habitating and if so, what are you prepared to do, according to 1 Corinthians 5 and others scriptures like it? Your comments could not only help deliver someone from sin, but give revelation to the church in conjunction with what Paul said in I Corinthians 5 about living in sin, especially sexually.

Undercover Christian: Sexual sin-living together Pt 1

A life given over to sexual sin is as empty as a graveyard at midnight. All sins that are explained in the Word of God are done outside the body, but the sin that is done sexual in nature is done inside the body. These are especially egregious sins against the LORD. There are many sins of this nature name in the Bible: adultery, fornication, homosexuality, bestiality, orgies and any other type of sexual act outside of marriage bed.

We know these sins can cause a person to go reprobate and corrupt the mind because the LORD forbade even the thoughts of one’s mind and leering looks that go down that heinous rode in Matthew 5:28. One of the things this type of sin does is cause one to go into hiding because of the great burden of shame unleashed on their hearts. I remembered when I was an athlete in high school and years afterwards, I was always trying to be cool with the ladies, flirting and having fun so that when I really got  really good at it eventually, I could pull a King Solomon without having to get married. Whatever I could say in a flattering way, or exaggerate to get more attention from the ladies was a part of my game, as long as they thought I was a sweet, innocent guy. But I was a fraud to God and his glorious kingdom.

I wasn’t trying to read a bible during those years because this is the sin, as we said earlier, is especially heinous to the LORD, because Romans 12:1-2 tells us how we should act and respect the body the Great God Jehovah has given us.

Unfaithfulness starts in the marriage bed, because either person or both participants refuse to work on the hard things of marriage. One has to persevere through Christ to be able to become victorious in this area in the end, but sexy billboards, commercials, books, magazines and videos all play a part in desensitizing the mind and hearts of men and women. Cows always think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence until they cross over and realize the curb is right next to a busy highway and get hit by a sixteen wheeler.

 The devil knows people have a roving eye for greener grass, so he’s seeding down curbs across America with Scott’s Lawn Pro version, and at the same time he’s polishing up his big red bus so he can look pretty as he runs you over like a bad pothole because you were to dumb to get in out of the rain.

Without the good book to redirect us to God’s truth, we are like a ship without a captain, a construction site without a foreman and we will end up putting on our undercover trench coat, hat and sunglasses, aimlessly wandering the broad road that leads to destruction.

Has sexual sins caused you to go undercover? Why do you think that so many Christians fall to this type of sin? Why do you think so many Christians feel that the sin of homosexuality is normal and even an acceptable lifestyle within the church? We welcome your comments below.

Undercover Christian: A fight in the mirror

The man walked the woman to the door, knowing it had to end that day. Confused about his decision to cancel the false relationship, she cried out, “But my husband will never find out, he’s always gone out of town.” He shook his head slowly as he hinted towards the door, it was over. The void and sadness was evident in her eyes as she left his apartment for the last time. He didn’t care about her or anyone else. He just wanted the pain, the burden of shame and hatred to exit his life. It was as if he needed a physician to come in and operate on his insides to remove the dark burden from within. Yes, surgery would cure him, but what kind, who would do it? He was a Volkswagen, crushed by the weight of a “wide load” tractor-trailer that had just tipped over. A journey to the mirror in the bathroom seemed to take forever, but he was determined to do what he had planned years before. With the dim light of only a partial sunset breaking through the darkness, he finally had enough courage to look at “the thing” in the mirror. A shaven face, close-cropped hair and cologne fooled most, but not the person on the inside. He now detested the monster that he saw, that he had grown to love in the last 27 years.

The bitterness, the anger was now too much to bear. All of a sudden, a violent struggle broke out; the inner man was ripping and pulling at the clothing of the man that he saw in the mirror. He hated everything this physical brute stood for: pride, hatred, anger, lies, unforgiveness, bitterness, fornication, adultery, evil speech and death. All of the years of going to church, being a fake Christian were too much to bear.

Lip service no longer meant anything and he knew it wouldn’t in eternity. He knew it would be a terrible thing to fall into the hands of a living God. He was tired of going to church to feel good withoutactually being good. The  soulish man seemed to be taking control of the fight as he grabbed the head of the physical man, bending and pulling it. He continued punching the chest of the man in the mirror, but‘ole muscles’ refused to give up the throne of their heart to the invisible traitor without a dogfight.

After minutes more of struggle, the man looked up in the mirror, both beings looking on anxiously. Suddenly, the following words appeared in the man’s heart: “If you were to die today, would you go to Heaven or Hell?” The ‘ole muscles’ rose up quickly to say, “C’mon, I go to church, that’s got to be good enough.” The soul spoke out, “But what else, there’s got to be more,” it said desperately. The eternal strugglecontinued again for a few moments. The question repeated itself again from some unknown source. Again, the physical man kept defending himself, saying he was ‘pretty good, certainly not as bad as most of his friends, and again that he still went to church'(although not in the previous two months due to tremendous shame).

The soul of the man spoke out again, but this time it said, “You need a change–you need to go back to Christ. You need to repent and forsake your sinful lifestyle. You need to dust off your bible that is 17 years old, but practically new.” The tussle continued for a brief period more and then there was silence. Had the fleshy man been stopped?

This time, when the invisible man within stared at the outward one in the mirror and noticed the brutehad been beating down off the throne of their heart. Looking into those eyes, he could tell that someone wonderful, someone caring and kind had been ushered to his rightful spot on the throne of their heart– the person sitting, obviously a Savior, a King. Only when‘ole muscles’ had got to his lowest in sin, when he had gotten “sick and tired of being sick and tired”, was there real change.

The soulish man within actually saw himself on the outside, for the first time in 27 years–he was alive and changed! As he looked in the mirror, he knew that things would never go back to the way they use to be. Indeed, there had been a surgery performed after all–heart surgery, by  the Ultimate Physician. The new man knew that one of the first things he would do would be get rid of evil in his life, especially sinful music and sinful relationships that displeased the King, the bible becoming his focal point.

j.d.stegall was a changed man and it felt good for him to know he was leaving the Undercover Christian business and his own little world that revolved around him  to become a genuine man of God, who would no longer bring shame to the Kingdom and Christ.

Undercover Christian

If Jesus appeared in full glory with a dazzling robe of a trillion colors and glory brighter than a billion suns looking like solid diamonds, of course we wouldn’t have anymore unbelievers on the planet. But he has chosen to reveal himself in a different way: By using people who love him called Saints, modern day Christians.

Unfortunately, most Christians have a Ph.d in professing because they’re undercover agents. You may ask, “What’sthat and how do you know?” It’s just a term that I coined ten years ago just after I came out of hiding. It’s a Christian by lip service only, one who runs from the bible and all that is pure like Mike Tyson out of a marriage counseling session. I was ashamed of the gospel, a coward full of pride and sin. I never could stand for anything, so I practically fell for everything, afraid of what everyone would think if I gottoo religious.

I was always more then happy to put on my glad rags and go to church, but don’t ask me to get involved or become a member because that implied accountabilityI remember thinking, Oh, wait, stop the train! Nope-not the kid, not me, nope, nuh-uhh. And surely don’t bring up God and the bible, that was a conversation stopper.

If you brought up God in the workplace, I was a hundred miles and runnin’with my black trench coat and brown Sherlock Holmes hat, blowing in the wind. I was too busy being cool for the ladies, fornicating, cussing, lying, etc.

After 27 years of undercover work, you’d be able to spot a fake Christian too.  It’s called judging and discerning someone by the fruits of their lifestyle and contrary to popular belief, condoned in the Good Book in several passages as long as we do it in the vein of love and not just being critical.  That is why my testimonial is only one that God could have given me.
During those past years mostly everyone around me also claimed God, church and the straight and narrow pretty-path of light, but on the weekdays and evenings they were walking the broad road filled with the filth of pig-pins and mire muck. Most undercover Christians don’t even know they’re undercover and that young eyes are always watching.
They wear it like a badge of honor, thinking it’s part of the job description like the young man the pastor was talking to one day after church. “Son, we need you to join the army of the LORD,” the pastor said. He responded, ” I’m already in the army of the LORD, Pastor.” The Pastor questioned, “How come we only see you in here on Christmas and Easters?” The young man winked, as he leaned over and whispered, “Cause I’m in the secret service.” The world wouldn’t run from God calling us a bunch of hypocrites if real Christians would rise up and stand for holiness and righteousness.
So quit ducking around corners and take off those silly trench-coats, hats, and sunglasses and let your lights so shine among men, that they would be able see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.  Are you an undercover Christian like I was, living on an island all by yourself, like Tom Hanks in Lost?  Do you know any undercover Christians, also known as worldly or carnal Christians, wordly?  Please share your thoughts with the Truth Writer community today.