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HYPER-Critical Christianity

Here we are, my friends, heading into the seventh month of the Covid 19 lockdown, with still seemingly no end in sight. In the LA area, as our heat indexes rise to daily doses of over one hundred degree temperatures, our spirits seem to be dropping and hopelessness abounds for many. Have you noticed an incredible shift in the over all atmosphere of the world lately?

It is obviously evident that evil is overtaking our country and appears to be winning at times in leaps and bounds. Where does your hope lie during these challenging times? Well, if you are anything like me, you have faith and do your best to look up, pray, and believe. We know that He is working behind the scenes according to Romans 8:28 (KJV) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” Still it is challenging to maintain a positive frame of mind in the day to day, when news and media outlets continually inform us all that the country and those of us in majorly contaminated cities are going to hell in a hand basket.

The political unrest can be nauseating at best while the unthinkable racial deaths that should have been prevented as well as those who have lost their battles with the virus have brought many people despair beyond repair. Hatred abounds as self-serving politicians pit Americans against each other and promote lies that many believe to be truth.

The news and media spew venom continually and bully those with opposing positions, leaving many of us wondering what is to become of us and how do we heal or carry on when the madness finally subsides?

Do I exaggerate, or does the picture I’ve painted sound about right to you at this point in time?

If that were not bad enough, Christians are criticizing each other’s ministries in leaps and bounds as well. I have never witnessed such a strange phenomenon unfolding in the daily news and You Tube feeds that continually stream on my computer or television screens.

At the present time in our world’s history, the prophets seem to have come out of the woodwork, most of them relatively unknown until this past year. All promoting their dreams and visions, some writing books, holding zoom meetings or conferences and relaying the messages God has told them to share with us all. Most have seemed encouraging, some have been disheartening, but many have called all Christians to pray for our nation, the world, and the end of the virus. We should be doing that anyway, according to 2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV), “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” He clearly says “MY PEOPLE”, meaning all who call themselves Christians. It is our duty to pray without ceasing for God to keep his hand on our nation and heal the country as well as its people.

There have been COUNTLESS YouTube feeds of people, all races, all ages, from different parts of the world recounting their “rapture dreams”, which does make sense to me. We are practically living in the zombie apocalypse anyway, while people have been unusually homebound and glued to their television sets or computer screens. Images of tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, fires, racism, or basically the worst of humanity trying to hurt or kill each other dance across our screens twenty four hours a day. It is no wonder that people are dreaming about the catching away of the church. They all say it will be happening very soon and that we need to be ready. Ya think?

I’m not denying the validity of anyone’s dreams. It’s not my place to criticize or tear apart what they believe God is telling them. That he may be downloading a dream to an individual in order for them to relay its meaning to others in the hopes of saving a soul, sounds like a noble calling. Who am I to judge? After all, in Acts 2:17 (NIV), Luke tells us that “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams.” Notice Luke tells us that God will pour out his spirit upon “ALL” of his people. Not just pastors or popes, ministers or priests, but ALL of us.

I do tend to get a little twinge of disbelief for those who give actual dates that the rapture could be happening because of this, that, or the other thing which makes perfect sense to him/her as to why Jesus will most assuredly come back at that specific time. I especially have a hard time with those that claim to “know” when the catching away of the church will occur because Jesus stated in Matthew 24:36 (NIV), “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Jesus, himself, does not know the day or the hour, so I’m pretty sure God’s not going to tell one of us mere mortals the time of the rapture, especially if he hasn’t yet shared it with Jesus.

I could whole-heartedly go along with the above mentioned dreamers on the fact that it could be any time soon or in the not too distant future since Jesus also told us in Matthew 24:42 (NIV), “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”

As long as civil unrest and almost daily devastation remains, there will be many having recurring “Rapture Dreams”. I get it. It makes sense. I can live with that. It in no way shape or form means that I will watch all of their dream videos, however. If that is all we choose to watch, we may become all consumed with negativity or maybe even give up on the hope of a future at all. What we think about, or give our attention to may actually drive us to distraction or the ability to enjoy and find the good in each new day that God has blessed us with. Survival-mode is not a joyful way to greet the day and produces high anxiety levels. It’s pretty clear, though, that God is up to something.

I can truly understand hearing from prophets and those having rapture dreams during this unprecedented time in our national and world-wide history. I realize that those who believe to be sincerely hearing from the Lord also believe that they are to share what he is telling them in order to help others in some way. Their message could be shared in order that those who listen may be able to properly prepare their family for possible upcoming events or to bring others to salvation, knowing that Jesus is on his way.

I am sincerely, however, having a real issue in understanding the continual, merciless bashings that Christians are unleashing upon other Christians in the name of Jesus. Folks, the last time I checked, there’s an enormous group of people who are already trying to take God out of everything in America. They are trying to take our God-given rights away to assemble, sing or even pray, while at the very same time, and out of the other sides of their mouths, they are applauding rioters who injure without mercy, devastate small family-owned businesses, and spread the infectious Corona Virus all over the land.

Matthew 12:25 (NIV), “Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” Jesus himself has warned us all that if we are divided or fight against each other as Christians, we will fail. The prince of this world is doing everything he can to defeat and discourage all Christians. He is in it to win it. He has governmental authorities and agencies trying to take away our rights as Christians at this very moment. We all, as believers, know well the devil’s tactics and tricks to trip us up, yet we still spend ridiculous amounts of time turning on and criticizing each other. Make no mistake, the enemy is laughing with delight, as he is most definitely the puppet master who is pulling the strings.

It is obvious to me that well-learned Biblical scholars have been taking on God’s job of judging the true intentions and hearts of all men and women. They hide behind the video camera and publicly shame those who are actually preaching and teaching God’s Word or messages of love and salvation. Their criticism is usually something along the lines of, and I’m paraphrasing, “how dare they say that they’ve heard from God!” What they are really saying is “how could God actually speak to you? You aren’t doing things correctly (or the way that ‘I’ would do it), or even in some instances, “you are a woman and should not be allowed to preach.” The last time I checked, God seems to frown on such “religious spirits”, which is exactly what I tend to believe these well-meaning leaders are being governed by.

Jesus, himself, criticized these types of religious leaders in Matthew’s 23rd chapter. He went on to say in Matthew 23:3,4 (NLT), “So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. (4) They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.” He goes on to state in verse 5 of Matthew 23, “Everything they do is for show.” These types of men are trying to gain notoriety and praise for being so incredibly holy in their exercise of showing others the error of their ways.

I’m pretty sure that “ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” as clearly mentioned in Romans 3:23 (NIV). That means you, me, Pelosi, Trump, Clinton, Graham and the pope, just to name a few. EVERY single pastor, minister, priest or Biblical theologian or teacher has sinned and is a sinner. We are human, it’s part of our condition. There is but one perfect sinless specimen in all the world and world to come and that is Jesus.

The spirit of criticism is alive and well on planet earth and especially in the church. By the act of imposing our judgement on others, we are undoubtedly being hypocritical ourselves. We are also inviting God’s judgement to fall on us, as he clearly tells us in Matthew 7:1 (AMP), “DO NOT judge and criticize and condemn [others unfairly with an attitude of self-righteous superiority as though assuming the office of a judge], so that you will not be judged [unfairly].” Jesus goes on to tell us in Matthew 7:2 (AMP), “For just as you [hypocritically] judge others [when you are sinful and unrepentant], so will you be judged; and in accordance with your standard of measure [used to pass out judgement], judgement will be measured to you.” Pretty scary stuff, actually. I have to daily work on and ask God to forgive me of any criticism I have shown outwardly or inwardly. I know that I’m an imperfect specimen, so the LAST thing I want to do is to criticize someone else’s walk with the Lord. If I succumb to criticizing a prophet, seer, dreamer or teacher, I will be judged just as harshly as I have judged or criticized others. Who needs that? Have these learned scholars currently implementing judgement on others’ forgotten what the Lord himself has told us? Or do they believe to be exempt from such judgement themselves? I’m very simplistic in my belief. If God said it, it’s true. I will always believe what Jesus says over any teacher, leader or prophet. In my Bible his words are written in red, I’m pretty sure we are to do as he instructed to the best of our ability.

It is evident that God is most definitely cleaning house in the church at the present time, which is as it should be. He’s perfectly capable to do this on his own without our help. He’s the ultimate judge, we are not. In fact our greatest commission during these tumultuous times should be to do as Jesus instructed in Matthew 28:19 (AMP), “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Who’s going to want what we have in Jesus, if we continue to criticize and tear each other apart? When the world sees Christians being hypocritical of each other, that doesn’t draw them into desiring to become a follower of the Lord. It repels them, often times with disdain for our faith as a whole.

1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV), “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” It is not my job to judge anyone. It is my job to see each individual as God sees them. It’s my job to simply love them.

At this very moment in time, how strong could we be as believers if we banded together as a united front against evil in our country and the world? We would be unstoppable, the enemy defeated! Besides that, we know how the story ends. Most of us have read the end of the book…WE WIN!

In His love,

S.E.Woody

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