Dietrich Bonhoeffer
with his students (1939)

The Western Church seems broken... 

Of course we're all broken, but I mean really broken...

While this is not meant in any way to add division of any sort (God knows there is enough of that between churches already); but it is meant to first of all to add some clarity on "why" I am trying this little experiment but also to hopefully help wake-up the Laodicean Church that is the dying western church today. 

*It goes without saying this is not all churches in the west so let's just take a glimpse and see which one you or your church fall into. Gina and I will Lord willing be traveling to Israel with the highly gifted Michael Brown in 2021 and he summarizes many of my points in his book How Saved are we Really? 

Here is just a handful of points Dr. Brown seems to nail here and if you are a Christian should be taken seriously. Moreover it is a good summary of why we're trying to do something different here "off the grid"; not to try and prove anything, but honestly because I want to make sure I truly am a follower of Christ. And if I am taking the "red pill" and discover something real then as a Christian it would be my obligation to share it. Here are just a few points that Dr. Brown made that really resonated with me:

  • How far have we fallen from the New Testament faith? Do we really understand what it means to be saved?
  • I do not claim to have all the answers. I certainly have not yet "arrived." But this much is absolutely clear: Unless the American Church experiences a radical reformation, we will fade right into the world. We think we are alive and well, but we are really sick and dying. May God awaken us to our true condition before it is too late!
  • This much is apparent: Because our gospel message has been deficient, our disciples are now deficient and the American "born again" Church is deficient. Our lifestyles give little evidence of a real transformation and concepts like sacrifice and suffering for the Lord are almost foreign to us. 
  • For years we have preached a cheap gospel and peddled a soft Savior. We have taught salvation without self-denial, repentance, baptism and the crown without the cross. We have catered to the unsaved and compromised with the world. Now we are seeing the seeds we planted and watered coming into its fruition. 
  • As American "believers" we:
    • Spend hours watching TV but only minutes in prayer
    • Are hungry for the sports channel but have little taste for Scripture
    • Spend more money on pet food than missions
    • Love to feast but hate to fast
    • Welcome God's blessings but are wary of His burdens.
  • The majority of us here in the USA are the by-products of a luxury society. We often work only five days out of seven which is practically a vacation compared to most countries. We have so much leisure time on our hands and most of us experience no hunger let alone starvation ever yet we act like we've never had it so bad! So much free time but no time to pray; our bodies are so overfed few of us hear God's call to sacrificial prayer and fasting. Because we are more sensitive to our flesh than to the Spirit!
  • Have you ever wondered about evangelistic statistics? -- 300 saved at the rally last night; 484 decisions through the outreach program; 1500 new births during the "revival" meetings last month. But what happened to all the people? Where are all the numbers today? Most of them just faded into the woodwork. They prayed a small prayer and went home. Were they ever truly saved from their sins? Can we say they were born from above?
    • Our gospel message has been doubly defective. We have injured our hearers in two ways: We have failed to tell them our old life must end; and we have failed to show them new life in Him.
  • Consider the words of the Lord:
    • "Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, 'Sir, open the door for us.' But he will answer, 'I don't know you or where you come from... Away from me, all you evildoers!' There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets of God, but you yourselves thrown out" (Luke 13:25, 27-28)
      • What an overwhelming thought. Some people will be thrown out! There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth - utter darkness and no relief. And to think of the bitter indictment: WE HAVE NOT TOLD PEOPLE THE TRUTH!
  • Why is there virtually no persecution here in the USA when the Bible is illegal in over 50 countries today and the Bible promises persecution for those that truly follow Him? We suffer virtually no persecution because our gospel has NO teeth!
  • Two thousand years ago, the ancient world was amazed by the disciples' courage. Today the modern world is amused by our carnality. Once we effectively evangelized the lost. Today we entertain them. We have more of a soap opera gospel than a sold out gospel. Consider 1 Cor. 5:9-11 to today's church? Nowadays to follow Paul's instructions we would practically have to leave what we call the "church" today!
  • Albany Bishop William Love was recently (October 2020) found guilty for not performing gay and transgender marriages or allowing other to do so by the Episcopal Church of the USA. Pretty much go down the list and whatever Scripture says NOT to do the church today is 100% in support of doing it. Why do they even pretend to be Christians? You will hear them murmur: "Christ is love!" and that is as deep as their theology goes. Ask them anything in detail about what "love" means in an objective not a presentistic sense and they don't have a clue.

I have gay, adulterous, lying, cheating, stealing, non-Christian, etc. friends but is the church showing us all love by supporting us in our sins? Are they supporting us when like Shelby Spong (a bishop) they often times don't even really believe in God, the Resurrection or the Bible? When they preach prosperity over suffering? When they teach cheap vs. costly grace? No. This is hate in its most purest and sickening form. 

(Below) David Lynn - noted street preacher - Biblical truth should be toned-down? A great example as most western churches would fall on the side of the lady who preaches a soft type of passive Christianity; one that gets the love part right but refuses to look at repentance.

  • Let's compare that to the standard of God:
    • "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving." (Eph. 5:3-4)
    • "Religion that God our Father accepts is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27)
    • "Since we have these promises, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." (2 Cor. 7:1). 
    • "Dear friends, I urge you as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us" (1 Pet. 2:11-12)
      • What a glorious and challenging call for us!
  • We have been like the proverbial frog being boiled alive in water. As the water temperature slowly rises, the frog's temperature rises with it. By the time he realizes what's happening, it's too late. Brothers and sisters, hear the warning: the water is beginning to boil and we still feel at home in the pot! Let's jump out while we still have life. Now is the time to make a decisive move. Now is the time to thoroughly clean house.
  • Isaiah would be shocked. Ezekiel would be shaken. Jeremiah would be shattered. If these prophets were alive today, they would barely believe what their eyes would see. There is an abomination in the household of God. Would Christ tell you and your church: "Well done good and faithful servant" or call you a "whitewashed tomb"?
  • Isaiah warned Jerusalem many years ago: "The Lord, the Lord Almighty, called you on that day to weep and wail, to tear our your hair and put on sackcloth. But see, there is joy and revelry, slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep, eating of meat and drinking of wine! 'Let us eat and drink,' you say, 'for tomorrow we die!'" (Is. 22:12-13) Today we sing a new song: "Let us eat and drink and be glad. America shall not die!" Little do we realize that the land of the free and the home of the brave is perishing before our eyes.
    • We are filled with an unreal optimism, not knowing that deterioration is already rampant in our culture. We sit smug and secure, proud and protected, but the divine axe has already been laid at the root of our society. We are too busy having fun, protesting something and pursuing our dreams to even realize that America (like Rome 1500 years ago) is rotening from the inside-out. 
  • Let's be honest with ourselves. If real persecution came our way, most of us would cave in a heartbeat. We would deny the Lord! We're not being faithful in the little, how can we expect to be faithful in the big? If we succumb to peer pressure and the fear of man now, when our homes and jobs are not at stake, how will we fare then, when our very lives may be on the line? "For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?" (Luke 23:31)
  • God calls you all back but you will not listen... You would rather have the pleasures of this world than the one reality that is coming. There is still time.
    • "As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it... O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing..." (Luke 19:41; Matt. 23:37)

The above is just a handful of things that really resonated with me from Dr. Brown's book How Saved are We? It's so ironic how we are so fearful of doing something that looks like "works" that we preach such a cheap and non-biblical faith... We preach a form of universalism with some relativism/pluralism sprinkled on the top; we call "good - evil" and "evil - good" and we somehow turn everything in Scripture. Ironic really. Either way I am attempting here at L'Abri to shake off the fog surrounding my mind and searching for the narrow gate... "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)

 

To the left was a wake-up call that though I am not financially rich, in the entire WORLD I am in the top 1%. Even if I give away 10% of it all I'm still in the top 1%... I typed in a household making $50k and they still were in the top 5% and yet we act like we're so poor... Half of my friends have their own "financial advisor" and before you say "what's wrong with that???" I will just ask you for a good biblical-based answer why we need so much money and if you can find me any scriptural answers for doing so? To the RIGHT is the meager assets of just a large but not huge church I often times visit (yeah... $50M). 

No real need for me to go into a long list of examples, I'm sure we all know of plenty. Instead I will just pick on one of the churches I fellowship and have worshipped in over the years. Fellowship/Mosaic Church in Rogers, AR. It is a very good and biblically-based church and they spend their offerings appropriately so none of this is in question at all. But like so many churches in the West we have been somewhat polluted by the world it would seem. Just a quick snapshot of what I mean:

  • This church began about 30 years ago with 5 families wanting to form a biblically-based church foundation. 
  • The church has grown drastically though their message has been biblical Christianity (mostly) and the love of Christ.
  • They now have total assets of over $50 million. 
  • While this is no sin of course and they do a lot of good with the money we must acknowledge that money, property, ownership, etc. all of these things are now an obstacle for them. 

The amount of money spent on lawn care and nice hedges (let alone the maintenance required to maintain these giant buildings) is enough in 1 year to blanket Asia with the message of Christ. Now again, I'm not denying churches like this do not serve a great purpose in NWA but can we really pretend air conditioning and lawn care is worth more (if we call ourselves Christians and/or the church) than spending every penny we have to make Christ known? "What if we run out of money though James?! We can't be careless!!!" many will always scream. My answer is why not trust more in Christ and the Spirit? 

He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" (Matthew 8:26)

There really isn't much more to say... I do not mean this in any way as a "pat on the back" but after years or work and research I discovered that with just a few thousand dollars of the money God has given me I am able to participate in reaching all of Mongolia with the Gospel. No details necessary here but my point is if I can with prayer, work and less than $10k can help reach all of Mongolia then what would the world look like if churches (like Mosaic) gave from their great wealth? How would they and other churches feel by giving away 90% of it all this year while there is still time? Let their buildings close if that is what is supposed to happen. What if we trusted more in God and less than our 401k? Again, in the words and book by Dr. Brown: How Saved are We? 

Mongolia and FEBC:

Just listen to this Mongolian service to get a glimpse:

Francis Chan and my good friend Eugene Bach show this vividly "outside" of the pagan church of the West below:

This IS Christianity. What would you do in their shoes? How often does your church talk about the persecution of Christians (past/present/future)? Do they make any plans or any type of preparation if we're ever persecuted? Most churches of the West will simply compromise or capitulate today. Pluralism, relativism, sexual immorality, non-repentant, etc. most churches will throw a rainbow or BLM flag across their church entrance before they'd even think about giving up their tax-exempt status or political correctness. 

Again the choice is ours... We can just hit the snooze button and worry about our church "lawn crew" and how beautiful our hedges, our millions of dollars that we convince each other, our elders, our popes/prelates, but do you honestly think that's it? It is up to us but we simply do not have any excuses and even if we brush this off you know better.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness.  So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:27-8)

 

Again... I'm leaving this page pretty much jumbly and messy. I pray that I will not only rediscover the "trail" that leads to a more fully Christ form of Christianity but if I learn or find anything worthwhile can share it with those in a similar spot. Also this will hopefully be a place where others can come if things ever get too bad out there. ;o)

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25-34)

   

Jordan Peterson's quick rise to fame, books like Wild at Heart (for men) and Captivating (for women) help to simply show that we are all very intune with the heart of what is Christianity but the word itself has a lot of baggage that needs to be met afresh. Not changing its objective truth in anyway to conform to the secular or sinful world mind you, but simply "dusted off" and rediscovered. This is in heart and spirit what we're hoping to find and live-out in the same way Schaeffer did at L'Abri over 50 years ago.