The Courage to Say Goodbye to the Church of Rotten Fruit

Christ simply said, “I never knew you. Go away from Me, you who do wrong!”

Project 3, Post 7: The Courage to Say Goodbye to the Church of Rotten Fruit

This is my final post in this series on dealing with apostasy, with heresy in our churches. This post will be the most difficult for you to read, to hear. There comes a time when courage is needed to overcome our fears and also, perhaps more importantly, our immense sadness.

You may read PART 6 HERE, PART 5 HERE, PART 4 HERE, PART 3 HERE, PART 2 HERE, AND PART 1 HERE.

Before I continue, take a moment to pray with me:

Lord,

Please bless each reader, sending the Holy Spirit to guide them as they read this important post. Grant each individual Your holy power to read, to hear, and to interpret Your Word, Your Gospel with Your divine wisdom. Grant each one of Your precious children the Courage needed to use the information below for Your Holy Purposes. Please send Your angels to protect them, Lord.

In the name of your son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

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The finished painting of the tree.

Let us begin…

Imagine for a moment that you are walking through a forest, your dearest friend at your side.

Together you remark on the many trees: some trees are very large, with outstretched branches, while other trees are far slighter in stature, able to nimbly sway in the breeze. All of the trees in this forest are beautiful.

The two if you soon come upon a fork in the path.

To the left, the heavily trodden path widens, and it appears smooth and welcoming.

To the right, the path is far narrower, with spouts of grass peeking through the seldom-trodden dirt. In the distance you can see hills.

After a short argument, you and your friend decide to go your separate ways:

Your friend adamantly chooses to venture down path to the left.

You, conversely, choose the path to the right.

“A wise man’s heart inclines to the right, but the heart of a fool to the left.”

Ecclesiastes 10:2

As you walk along the narrow path, you notice that the many trees have borne fruit, even the smaller ones.

Thirsty from your walk, you pick a plum from one of the trees as you pass. The fruit is crisp and sweet. The juices drip down your chin.

As you continue walking, a soft rain shower soothes you from the sun’s warm rays and quenches the thirst of the many trees along the path.

After some time had passed, you came to realize that each of the trees along the narrow path are a congregation of believers.

You could hear a multitude of voices singing hymns of praise emanating from within the trees. Though he road is narrow and bumpy at times, you discovered that a guiding hand was readily there to steady you should you stumble.

Having heeded the Lord’s call to “Expel the wicked persons from among you,” the multitude were in holy unity in righteousness, “all of the believers were in one heart and mind,” as the anointed among them preached the One, the Only, the Holy Good News! (1 Corinthians 5:13; Acts 4:32; Galatians 1:7)

You found yourself filled with joy, your load lifted.

“Go in through the narrow door.

The door is wide and the road is easy that leads to hell.

Many people are going through that door.

But the door is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life that last forever.

Few people are finding it.”

Matthew 7:13-14

This was not the case for your dearest friend who chose to wander leftward down the wide path…

He, too, heard singing and saw many people gathering within each of the giant trees.

He heard enthusiastic preachers shouting sermons to the masses.

Walking the wide path among many large and beautiful trees, your friend, too, became thirsty.

He, too, picked a plum to moisten his mouth.

However, the plum was rotten.

When he bit into the plum he found the fruit to be dry and sour, and his mouth became filled with worms.

Still, your friend was convinced that a good fruit could be found among such beautiful, powerful, grand trees.

He searched and he searched for one good fruit.

As your friend walked onward, he passed several strangers fleeing the wide path toward the narrow road which you, yourself, had taken.

One stranger warned your friend to not be deceived by the grandeur and beauty of the large trees lining the smooth, well-trodden path, proclaiming that Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light,” (2 Corinthians 11:14).

The other stranger reminded him, Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise,” (1 Corinthians 3:18).

“Come with us,” the strangers pleaded.

Yet, your dearest friend thought himself to be quite wise. Thus, he continued his search for good fruit, traveling further down the wide road.

And as the two kindly strangers fled the wide path for the narrow, saddened by their inability to convince your dear friend to join them in reversing course, the two strangers were comforted by whispers of reassurance from Christ, His words spoken upon their hearts.

Christ softly instructed the strangers, Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God,” (Luke 9:60).

Meanwhile, your dearest friend, his throat parched, his brow wet from the warm sun, continued his search for a piece of good fruit down the wide path…

One fruit after another, all of the fruit was rotten, and your dearest friend’s thirst was left unquenched.

Before long, as he walked the wide road, the air became clouded with smoke. With each step he saw fewer and fewer trees, but more and more stumps where trees had one been.

Finally, your dearest friend came upon a giant inferno; thick black smoke bellowed upward into the air.

In the fire he could see the burnt remnants of trees. He could hear cries of agony: these were the cries of the parishioners, of the proud  preachers, as they called out to God above.

Your dear friend heard the tormented calls from the enthusiastic preachers, hollering “Lord, Lord, did we not preach in Your Name? Did we not put out demons in Your Name? Did we not do many powerful works in Your Name?”

Finally, as your friend stood there by the raging fire, he heard Christ answer those preachers and those congregants with an abrupt condemnation.

Christ simply said, “I never knew you. Go away from Me, you who do wrong!” (Matthew 7:23).

“Watch out for false teachers.

They come to you dressed as if they were sheep. On the inside they are hungry wolves.

You will know them by their fruit. Do men pick grapes from thorns? Do men pick figs from thistles? It is true, every good tree has good fruit. Every bad tree has bad fruit. A good tree cannot have bad fruit. A bad tree cannot have good fruit.

Every tree that does not have good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

So, you will know them by their fruit.”

Matthew 7:15-20

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The finished painting of the tree.

“Assuredly the New Theology can do no good towards God or man; it, has no adaptation for it. If it were preached for a thousand years by all the most earnest men of the school, it would never renew a soul, nor overcome pride in a single human heart.”

Charles Spurgeon

Now, let’s put this into context.

Our American churches are ripe with apostasy, limbs hang drooped, heavy from fouled fruit.

Loving correction under our present circumstances is difficult and the chances of success are grim, considering the advanced stage of Biblical departure in which many churches now find themselves.

More often than not, and this is especially true for denominational churches, a church’s leadership will turn a blind eye to apostasy/heresy when confronted with the truth.

Some churches will claim that objections weren’t submitted in proper form, and, at other churches, a laundry list of regulations/restrictions/red tape will spring forth preventing concerns from ever being addressed. Still, at other churches, the elders will huddle around the accused to shield him from rebuke… all the while these same elders cast doubts upon your credibility.

Some denominations have handed over far too much power to councils or organizations, elevating the voices of a few men while providing these men the image of legitimacy which comes with fancy titles. These small groups of cohorts (such as the Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, for example) are easily taken over by those who ambitiously seek their own glory and who wish to further their own agendas at the expense of the Gospel Truth.

The reality of our present circumstances is this: churches and their organizations will, far more often than not, punish the person(s) who shine a light onto the error taking place, while protecting the perpetrators from correction, ensuring the perpetrators’ reputations remain intact.

“A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not respond to rebukes.”

Proverbs 13:1

REMEMBER, it only takes a tiny amount of yeast to make the entire loaf of bread rise (Galatians 5:7-9). It only takes a little bit of error to pervert the whole of your church, sending it down the wide, easy, heavy-trodden road to Hell.

When error is not addressed, it grows.

Or, as Paul aptly put it,their message will spread like cancer,” (2 Timothy 2:17).

Do you expect for a church which has abandoned core truths to put a sign out advertising their apostasy?

No way!

As scripture informs, the departure from the narrow path onto the wide road to Hell will occur subtly, undetected, with many unaware (Jude 4).

As the Rev., Dr. Paul Elliot has stated:

“Like cancer in the human body, false teaching in the body of the church begins undetected and unrecognized. By the time Christians who are still true to the Word of God recognize the cancer of false teaching and are stirred to action, often it is too late to stop its deadly progress. The damage has been done, and a spiritual crisis is upon the church.” 

So, then what?

What should you do if efforts at correction have passed by unheeded?

This, sweet beloved, is where your own path may take a heart wrenching turn.

Thus, bearing in mind Christ’s warning that that the path to salvation is narrow, and that only a few will find it, because the wide road often mimics the narrow road… and bearing in mind that the wide road leads to Hell… You must LEAVE.

That’s right: you must bid farewell to your beloved church. And you must welcome the sadness and the mourning that such a departure will assuredly bring upon you with a joyful, humble heart.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what partnership can consist of righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”

 2 Corinthians 6:14

Yes, you will in deed mourn, as I have been mourning since departing from my own beloved church.

Yet, there is but one True Body of Christ.

It does not consist of four walls. Nor a particular denomination. Nor a wide, liberal tent. For if it did, then the late, great Charles Spurgeon wouldn’t have left the Baptist Union.

Nor does not constitute a schism to depart from an apostate church or  an apostate denomination.

Rather, it does constitute a schism to remain yoked to the unrighteous.

If we were destined to remain in unity with evil (which we should never do), then the late, great Dr. J. Gresham Machen wouldn’t have departed the Presbyterian Church of the USA.

In your cowardice, you perpetuate a schism within the true body of Christ by remaining tied to those who have chosen a the wide path, the popular path, the easy path  that ultimately leads to Hell.

Having gone through this myself, I can attest to the difficulty of this matter. Yet, I rest assured, my burdens cast upon Christ, my heart unstirred and free from regret.

Just as the two strangers in the story above, I am comforted by Christ’s instructions: Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God,” (Luke 9:60).

And so it is now that I leave you with my sincere prayers… and I leave you in the loving care of our Lord Jesus Christ as I close with the profound words of Dr. Machen:

“If the liberal party really obtains full control of the councils of the Church, then no evangelical Christian can continue to support the Church’s work… To do so would mean the most terrible bloodguiltiness which it is possible to conceive. If the liberal party, therefore, really obtains control of the Church, evangelical Christians must be prepared to withdraw no matter what it costs. Our Lord has died for us, and surely we must not deny Him for favor of men.”

In search of doctrinal clarity…

This is Article #6 is a series on confronting apostasy in the church. You can read the last article HERE.


I began redefining my tree painting, bringing focus and detail to the blurred foliage. Adding dots of color, greens and blues, depth and visual clarity slowly returned.

Clarity… that magic word…

Clarity… Isn’t that what so many of us seek?

Clarity… Isn’t that what so many churches have forsaken?

 

 

 

In my last article, I discussed the three preliminary principles of motivation for confronting apostasy in one’s church:

  1. First, love must be your motivation in confronting apostasy.
  2. Second, self-sacrifice must be this love’s demonstration.
  3. The third principle I want to reiterate is this: Biblical truth is the issue.

If you have not read the last article, please do so before proceeding.

What the Bible says:

Dr. Paul M. Elliott of Teaching the Word Ministries has written an excellent series on what the Bible teaches us about confronting apostasy.

As he correctly points out, we have been given instructions through God’s Word:

So let me now come to the process itself. We find the process for dealing with apostasy, in fact for dealing with offenses of all kinds, given to us in Matthew 18:15-17. We find there a process set forth by the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Jesus said this:

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that “by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. (Matthew 18:15-17)

Here we find a four-step process:

  • First, go to your brother alone and make his offense known. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. The force of the original language is that if your brother will pay attention to what you are saying and will repent, you have helped your brother to escape from evil.
  • Second, if he will not hear you, take one or two others with you and speak to him again.
  • Third, if he still refuses to hear, bring the matter before the church as a body.
  • Fourth, if he refuses even to hear the church, then treat him not as your brother, but as an unbeliever.

Be humble, but alert:

Pastors are humans and make mistakes. A single departure from scripture may simply have been an honest mistake.

Still, it is prudent to keep in mind the words of John Calvin:

Truth is not always nurtured in the bosom of the pastors…

Private situations versus public situations:

Private sins should be confronted privately, while public sins should be confronted publicly.

The risk to souls posed by the public teaching of false doctrine is acutely emphasized by Dr. Elliott:

If someone has persisted in false teaching from the pulpit, or in a Sunday school class, or in a home Bible study, or has persistently written false teaching in books or other publications, this is a public matter. It is not a private sin. And so it immediately becomes a matter to be dealt with by the church as a body, and not on a private basis. That is because there is more than the spiritual welfare of one individual or a even handful of individuals at stake. The spiritual welfare of the entire church is at stake.

There are several Biblical examples of public confrontation, including:

  1. in the epistle of Third John: Apostle John said he was going to publicly confront Diotrephes, the pastor of a local church, about his falsehoods;
  2. and in Galatians chapter two: Apostle Paul publicly confronted the Apostle Peter at Antioch when Peter publicly strayed into legalism.

Expect hostility in return:

If there’s one thing you can count on it is resistance. In fact, the simple act of politely questioning, for example, a popular evangelist, is the one of the easiest ways to make yourself unpopular.

Dr. Elliott even gives real-life examples and probable outcomes to prepare you, which you can read about here.

Remember to be humble and steadfast in your defense of God’s Word. Accept hardship. Remember that souls are at stake.

The Truth is the goal.

Examples of public confrontations:

Public confrontations may take on different forms. Some choose to write, such as myself, others use technology such as Twitter or podcasts. Also, some people may choose local vestry meetings, et al.

Example 1:

What I am about to say may make you angry and cause me to lose favor in your sight. Nevertheless, I will proceed with love and with truth: Beth Moore is a hugely popular evangelist. She says many scripturally-based things, but, through her lack of Berean-diligence, a lack of exegesis and through her insistence on undisciplined allegorical interpretation, she has become, over the years, more and more prone to veering wildly off course (scripturally speaking).

For example, in November of 2017, Beth Moore tweeted the following:

BM1

In response, a minister tweeted a response:

BM2

It is utterly bizarre that Beth Moore would paint Noah as having some sort of negative instinct and then extend that negativity upon the rest of us.

Noah acted on faith:

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in godly fear built an ark to save his family. By faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. – Hebrews 11:7

Noah’s faith in God is a positive example for us, not a negative one. The minister was right to correct Beth Moore’s scriptural folly.

Example 2:

Recently, at the MLK 50 conference, the ministerial visionaries of a world-infected doctrine – a false gospel obsessed with the aesthetics of pigmentation ratios in the pews – preached a false doctrine of superficial, identitarian justice.

In a brave response, two black theologians who rightly and Biblically reject the false category of race – Darrell B. Harrison and Virgil Walker – released two different podcasts (which I encourage you to listen to) denouncing the growing apostasy of this mankind-driven false doctrine within evangelical churches:

  1. MLK 50 CONFERENCE
  2. SIN BY PROXY

Harrison has also written an article for the Christian Post entitled, The Misleading Language of the Social Justice Movement.

***Since then, Harrison and Walker have also put out a podcast addressing false teachers, which can be found HERE.

Here’s the takeaway:

If you wish to save souls, if you wish to liberate others (and yourself) from the shackles of sin, doctrinal Truth is the answer. Those possessing a deep concern for others and a genuine love of Christ must safeguard The Word.

You will face many obstacles. You will face rejection from every direction; from foes, as well as from friends and from those with whom you believe you have alliances.

As I clearly state in the disclaimer to my website, “readers of this blog with likely be presented with an inconvenient truth at one point or another.”

The Truth matters.

Every voice matters.

Your voice matters.

Clarity matters.


There will be one, final post in this series. It will be the most difficult: What to do when your church fully rejects Gospel Truth?

It’s time to talk about confronting apostasy

It’s time to talk about confronting apostasy

This is an ongoing, artistic and pastoral series on ending apostasy in the church: this is post 6 of the series. You can read the previous posts by clicking on the links below.
Post 1: Melted Crayons and Smothered Light
Post 2: Trees Are Not Brown & Other Truths
Post 3: Blurring Right & Wrong, a Lesson from Charlottesville
Post 4: The Illusion of Holiness & Shadow-barren Trees
Post 5: We are the antibodies of the church, the soldiers of Christ

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It’s time for confrontation.

 

After having applied a light blue paint in clusters to create the illusion of leaves, I made the mistake of then applying teal and white paint in horizontal strokes. The net result was a blurred mess.

 

While I stood there in my kitchen, assessing the blurred state which I had inflicted upon the foliage of my tree, I had a revelation.

 

“Blurring” has been a recurrent theme through this project: blurring the line between right and wrong, truth and lie, good and evil. Confusion and distortion are the tools of apostates, of those who live in darkness, seeking to dim our places and sources of light, holiness, and righteousness.

Before the “Blurr”

c

After the “Blurr”

b

When we choose to allow false teachers to persist unreproached, against the wishes of God, we further the destructive forces of confusion (the blurring) within the body of Christ.

 

Inaction is action.

 

When I was a toddler, my family moved away from the city, in part so that my older sisters could attend safer, better schools. Since there was no Episcopal Church out in our area, my parents and a handful of close friends founded a new church.

From the Church of the Annunciation’s website:

On January 10, 1988, twelve families gathered together on a cold winter day in the auditorium of the Cordova Center. There was no heat, only a borrowed kerosene heater from a neighboring ballet class. The group gathered as pioneers, establishing a new Episcopal Church in the growing Cordova community. On October 14th, 1988, with donated altar hangings, a bell, an organ and fixtures from all over the diocese, this group officially became the mission of Church of the Annunciation.

On January 9, 1994, the current church building was completed, dedicated and opened

Annunciation

Over the years, while our little church was growing, so too was an apostate movement within the national church. This heretical movement was secretive, clever, persistent, and patient in its slow, steady infiltration. Congregants across the country remained blissfully unaware.

 

More and more bad actors quietly rose to positions of power.

 

There was no national response.

There was no public rebuke.

There was no correction.

 

There was no confrontation.

 

Although this apostasy had not taken place in our little church, it was taking place in other churches. People knew and did nothing. Scriptural warnings had been ignored; the scriptural-outlined responsibilities of congregants and leaders were neglected.

 

As a result, the national church was officially hijacked by idolaters, worshipers of the flesh. The entire Episcopal Church of America has become captives of the philosophy of man (Colossians 2:8).

 

Our little church is ours no more.

 

Blurring the truth is evil. Allowing it to stand only aids in the spread of darkness.

 

But, what should you do?

How should you confront apostasy in your church?

 

“If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matthew 18:6

 

Scripture provides us with ways of confronting heresy, depending on whether that heresy is (A) private or (B) public.

 

For example, although I no longer belong to the Episcopal Church, Christ’s words in Matthew 18:6 haunt me. Because the Episcopal Church of America (ECUSA) is now going public with their false ideology, many souls are at risk. Thus, ECUSA must be publicly confronted.

 

While we’ll explore this subject in depth in my next post, you can read my public rebukes of ECUSA here and here.

 

For today, you have an important task:

Before you begin confronting apostasy in your church, you must prepare you heart and mind, pray for guidance, and examine your motives. As Rev. Elliot points out, there are three principles to consider:

  • First, love must be your motivation in confronting apostasy.If you have in mind any motivation other than the preciousness of Christ, the preciousness of His truth, and the preciousness of His true church, then you need to think twice. Now, I do not say that to discourage you from doing what the Bible says you must do. Your duty is clear. But you must constantly, continually check your motivation and make sure that by God’s grace you keep it pure. And that motivation must be love for Christ, and His church, and His truth.
  • Second, self-sacrifice must be this love’s demonstration.Confronting false teaching and apostasy is not the easy thing to do. Let me speak to you from experience. If you find that God has put you in the place of having to confront false teaching, you will find that it is going to be exceedingly time-consuming. It will take much prayer. It will take much effort. It will require you to spend much time in God’s Word. You will find yourself spending much time in dealing with people on both sides of the issue – people who are for the truth and people who are against the truth. It will take much discipline to stay the course.

You will need the whole armor of God. This is a spiritual battle of the most intense kind. Once again, I say this not by way of discouragement. Your duty is clear, and God will bless you for doing that duty in ways you may not immediately understand. But you must constantly, continually rely upon the Word of God as your authority and the Spirit of God as your teacher, and guide, and strength during the entire process. You will need to constantly check yourself for any danger signs that you are operating in the flesh. Remember that God’s strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Remember that the work is done “not by might nor by power but by My Spirit saith the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6).

  • The third principle I want to reiterate is this:Biblical truth is the issue. We are to speak the truth in love. The issue in confronting apostasy is always God’s truth. The issue is not persons, or personalities, or reputations, or creeds, or confessions, or anything else. Do not let any of these other things become the issue. Do not do that yourself, and do not let anyone else do it. If anyone tries to do that, you must endeavor to bring the focus back to the issue of truth and error. The Lord Jesus Christ said in John chapter 17 that God’s truth is that which sanctifies. It is truth that sets the genuine believer apart from the imposter. It is God’s truth that separates false teachers from the faithful ones.

 

As I begin to confront the “blurred” imagery of my painting, I ask that you take this topic to God. Pray, consider, wrest. Are you ready to take on this task? What are you willing to do?

Antibodies of the church, soldiers of Christ

In this way, each of us has a special role to play: the role of a righteous antibody. – We are the antibodies of the church: righteous fighters, salvation’s soldiers.

Project 3, post 5: We are the antibodies of the church, the soldiers of Christ

This is the 5th part of Project 3. You can read Part 1 HERE, Part 2 HERE, Part 3 HERE, and Part 4 HERE.

 

Periodically we are treated to the sight of a rainbow stretching wide across the sky, or vivid sunsets of red and pink, purple and blue. During such times, the colors that we typically spot in the landscape of God’s plentiful earth, we can also find high above, beautifully complimenting the pastel sky.

 

To mimic these stunning moments of symmetry, testaments to the splendor of the Almighty, I began bringing the colors found in the sky and in the foliage of the tree in my on-going piece down into the grassy meadow below.

 

Note: Painting involves mixing paints to create various colors. Because of this, it is important to stagger the stages of your painting, keeping in mind the paint you wish to use in multiple areas should be carried out in a fashion that does not lend itself to the premature drying-out of your paints.

 

Artistic process:

 

  • First, I redefined the border between the meadow with a simple, thin brown line. Next, I used a matte black to define the roots of the tree, creating shadows. White was added to define highlights and add the illusion of texture and dimension.

 

  • Using the tip of my pinky finger, I smudged the black paint onto the canvas, drawing it out away from the roots, creating depth. I also smudged black along various areas of the grass away from the roots of the tree.

 

  • Again, using the tip of my pinky finger, I smudged teal paint along the outside of the shadows beneath the tree. The dark, teal-gray paint was the same color I used as the base color for the foliage of the tree. Like the black, I carried this color into the broader body of grass.

a

I observed the many shades of reds and oranges and flecks of yellow which were so vibrant in the sky of the piece.

 

Keeping in mind that the tree’s broad branches would, in real life, cast a shadow upon the ground below, I plotted areas toward the edges of the canvas that would remain brightly lit from the vibrant sun.

 

  • Using a half-inch wide, flat-faced brush with stiff bristles, I used left to right dragging stroke to punctuate the grassy field with reds and oranges and hints of creamy yellow. The yellow was used to emphasize the most sunlit areas of the landscape.

 

When painting landscapes, the infusion of darks and lights and various colors can serve to define elevation changes of the earth.

b

Sprigs of grass can be added to these elevation indicators to further develop the impression of fluctuations in elevation, such as with small mounds or sloping hills, as seen in the example (below) of a different painting.

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  • Mixing paints, I created five different shades of green, from very light to very dark.

 

  • Using a small, very thin, round-tipped brush, I applied sprigs of grass with brisk strokes upward; starting at the base of the blade of grass and then sweeping upward.

 

  • I also used the green paint to further define the earthen base for the grass. I applied a few random lines, from left to right, and pulls blades of grass out and upward from each.

 

  • Lighter shades of green were used in areas of direct sunlight; darker shades in the shadows.

 

  • I made sure to sporadically group clumps of grass around the roots of the tree to create depth.

 

I stood back a few feet from the painting and observed the balance of color. Having carried colors from the sky and the dark grayish-teal down into the meadow, I decided to add one last touch.

 

  • Using the same, round brush I had used to apply the vibrant, deep blue “dots” in the foliage of the tree, I carried that color and the dots down into the grass.

 

  • I applied the dots heavily around the base of the tree; then thinned them outward.

 

The below image shows the painting as completed after the above steps.

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Reflection:

 

As I stood back to take in the piece, at all that I had done thus far, those bright blue dots popped out at me. Those vibrant dots felt as if they were alive; tiny balls of energy, as if the very life source of the meadow and of the grand ol’ tree itself.

 

As I gazed up my painting I realized that those splendid bits of blue were symbolic embodiments of the souls of Bible-believing, faithful Christians…

 

Throughout this project – dealing with the need for the body of Christ to reclaim our churches from the grips of apostacy – I have written at length about the need for each one of us to take responsibility for both reading and studying God’s precious Word, and for safeguarding His Word from misapplication and abuse. We must hold tight to sound doctrine.

 

In this way, each of us has a special role to play: the role of a righteous antibody.

 

Scattered amongst the branches of the tree and sprinkled in the meadow below, each vibrant blue dot – each dedicated, Bible-believing Christian – acts as an antibody, serving to prohibit the infection of heresy from progressing. If we each do our job, we prevent the disease from running rampant.

 

For this reason we have a very important task: In essence, we must be missionaries within our own congregations, apostles within our own churches.

 

We are the antibodies of the church: righteous fighters, salvation’s soldiers.

 

And, that’s a pretty cool thing indeed!

 

So, now I wish to close from a few verses from 2 Timothy:

2 Timothy 2New Living Translation (NLT)

A Good Soldier of Christ Jesus

Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.

Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things.

Always remember that Jesus Christ, a descendant of King David, was raised from the dead. This is the Good News I preach. And because I preach this Good News, I am suffering and have been chained like a criminal. But the word of God cannot be chained. 10 So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen.

11 This is a trustworthy saying:

If we die with him,
we will also live with him.
12 If we endure hardship,
we will reign with him.
If we deny him,
he will deny us.
13 If we are unfaithful,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny who he is.

The Illusion of Holiness & Shadow-barren Trees

Project 3, Post 4: The Illusion of Holiness & Shadow-barren Trees

The is the 4th part of Project 3 which covers the state of the church here in America. You can read Part 1 HERE, Part 2 HERE, and Part 3 HERE.

“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.”

(Col.2:8-9, NASB).

Artistic Process:

  • After first identifying what direction the sun would be coming from in this painting, I added highlights to the branches of my tree using a bright off-white. Using a thin, straight brush, I created clean, crisp lines across the topside of each branch. Next, I used a dark grey to define the underside of each branch, as seen in the image below.

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  • I selected a dark greyish-teal to form the base of the tree’s foliage. Using a 1/2” wide, rounded, soft brush, I dabbed the dark teal paint into the canvas. Since trees do not have leaves all over each branch, I scattered the teal around the branches. Notice: I added some teal along the length of the branches, but often not covering the branch itself. This allows for the foliage that appears from behind each branch.

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  • Next, I added shadows, very dark shadows. For this I selected a flat back. I followed along the same pattern of the teal I had already laid upon the canvas, but also took the black across the branches in several areas. I did this, because leaves that are closer to the viewer would undoubtedly cast a shadow behind them. In other words, the dark shadow was applied to create depth.

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  • I then selected a slightly lighter shade of teal-blue paint. After allowing my brush to dry, I dabbed it into the paint. Keeping the width of the brush parallel to the bottom and top edges of the canvas, I briskly tapped/dabbed the teal paint upon the canvas. This created rough edges, creating the illusion of leaves. I applied the teal paint in clusters. Some of these clusters were applied across the branches of the tree. Once this was finished, the distinct illusion of leaves had been created.

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  • Finally, I used a long, straight brush with a circular tip to dab on tiny dots of dark blue paint. This added texture and dimension to the foliage of the tree.

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Reflection:

While reading the Bible, 1 Corinthians 14:23-25 grasped my attention. Here, Paul says:

If some people are not Christians come to your church meeting while all the people are speaking in special sounds, they will think you are crazy. But if a man who is not a Christian comes to your church meeting while you are all speaking God’s Word, he will understand that he will understand that he is a sinner by what he hears. He will know he is guilty. The secrets of his heart will be brought into the open. He will get on his knees and worship God. He will say, “For sure, God is here with you!”

 

Paul’s main point here, put very simply, was to point out the fruitlessness of preaching in tongues/languages that others can not understand. Obviously, it is quite difficult to impact others meaningfully without speaking a language they understand. However, Paul’s words also point out the power God’s Word has on others. Thus, we can see the importance of straightforwardly speaking God’s Word for others, as the Word has the unique power to convert souls. This power lies in the Word’s ability to illuminate the darkness of sin, to bring it to the surface of one’s conscience. It is through the intimate illumination of sin which takes place within a person’s soul that leads to repentance and conversion. For this, I am reminded of Jesus’s words (John 3:20), “Everyone who sins hates the Light. He stays away from the Light because his sin would be found out.” Jesus is the Word, and the Word is the Light.

 

The composition of the tree’s foliage in my ongoing painting is symbolic of American churches which contain both darkness and shadows, as well as light. Some churches have become places of darkness, where scripture twisting and sin validation commonplace. Like the illusion of foliage in my painting, the illusion of holiness is maintained in unholy houses of worship. It is this illusion of holiness that sustains the false teachers’ positions of authority. As the scattered blue dots among the leaves, there may still remain a few congregants in the darkest churches who remain genuinely filled with the Light of the Holy Spirit. However, the majority of the congregants in the darkest houses have been led astray by the wolves.

 

How does this happen?

Notice in the image below how the foliage has overtaken the black shadows that I had laid down.While the shadows are still visible, the light has returned to prominence. In many churches the opposite is true: their trees are barren; the shadows having overtaken the branches. Like a garden unattended, weeds were left unopposed and passively permitted to flourish without reproach, and the Light of God’s Word was slowly, selectively, and purposefully twisted into language incomprehensible or kept locked away from the ears of the flock. The flock has been led into placid captivity.

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Still, there are others who actively engage in their own entrapment and in the entrapment of others. These sheep, having fallen asunder through indoctrination into worshiping the false philosophies of men, will fervently reject God’s Word when it is spoken. They will bray incessantly with anger and rage to all those who plainly speak God’s Word. These are like the swine who trample pearls beneath their feet (Matthew 7:6).

“Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9).

Our jobs a Bible-believing Christians of all denominations is the same today as it was in Jesus’s time, in Paul’s time: we are to be a spirit-filled force of holy opposition, holding fast against the forces of darkness. We must keep ourselves directly opposite to those who espouse falsehoods. Only through our steady withstanding can we expect to bring God’s Light and His Word into our shadow-stricken churches. Only through our unwavering example can all sinners hear the language of Christ and repent, sheading their chains of sin.

“For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.  “Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.”

(Acts 20:27-31 NASB).

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Trees Are Not Brown… And Other Truths

Project 3, Post 2: Trees Are Not Brown….. and Other Truths

In my last post (the first of this series), which can be read HERE, I described my inadvertent ruining of a once promising piece… My creative experimentation doesn’t always turn out well. I had accidentally turned a painting full of light into one now blanketed in darkness.

As I mentioned this is not dissimilar from the current state of our American churches… It is we who must confront ourselves in order to restore our churches to places of light and Truth.

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Artistic Process:

I kept looking at my poor picture – that poor tree – and kicking myself for what I had done. The whole thing… It was just a big mess! My error left me feeling a bit deflated and a lot confused. What do I do now? How am I supposed to fix this? I can’t take the wax off… How do I save my picture???

As I stood there pondering my canvas catastrophe, my thoughts slowly grew in clarity and I was able to identify a new “starting point.” The streams of melted wax had blurred the boundary between the sky and the ground…

And so began the process of renewing my painting…

I mixed into being variations of yellows and greens, darks and lights (all acrylics). After determining where the horizon line would be formed, I began applying the paint using short, brisk stokes, creating grass. Using dark greens and browns I slowly created elevation changes and shadow. At last, a clear division between land and sky had been established. The mess I had made of my painting had regained a small semblance of order. Once I finished the border area I went on to rejuvenating my poor, darkness enveloped tree.

 

Many people don’t realize this, but tree trunks and branches are far closer in color to gray than to brown. Sure, we all grow up coloring brown trees with green leaves, but that isn’t actually representative of reality, of truth. I challenge you to go outside and find a tree. Walk up close. Is it brown or is it more of grayish in tone? HERE is a fairly simple, scientific explanation. 🙂

I carefully reformed the body of my tree using shades of gray paint. Darker shades were applied against lighter shades to create clear and distinct shadows and highlights. Grays aren’t the only colors found on the trunks of trees, however. Many trees often play host to interesting molds and fungi, many of which are greenish in tone. Therefore, I took a splayed, dry brush and dabbed small sections of the tree trunk and branches with olive-colored paint.

…Little by little I was able to uncover my lovely, knotted-old tree from that dark mess of which I had made. I could see its form, its beauty. No longer was it hidden. At once, it was as if I felt a heavy load had been lifted off my back.  Truth and clarity have that effect on us.

BELOW are pictures representing various stages of renewing and redefining my tree.

 

Reflection:

There is a clear border between land and sky, right and wrong, good and evil. However, if trees are gray instead of brown, what is the Truth about good and evil, about right from wrong? The world of fallen men has a tendency to creep into our idea of right and wrong. Have you lost site of the border, the boundary between good and evil?

Do you follow Biblical scripture or do you follow worldly scripture? Do you even know the difference?

We (Christians) of all people should be the most diligent in knowing what is Truth. That comes from diligence to knowing and understanding God’s written Word.  Paul commended the Bereans in Acts 17:11, for their scriptural diligence, writing “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.

“…If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” – Matthew 15:14

Right now, many Christians live in a state of ignorance. We conflate nice with good. We conflate position with honor. We are lazy and far too trusting. We assume that the lessons from the pulpit are honest and truthful and based in scripture. If you assume that your minister is preaching Truth simply because he became a minister, was hired at your church, and seems like a nice guy… You could be a lazy Christian.

Stop. Stop right this minute.

When is the last time you read from your Bible? Do you check the sermons and the words of others against scripture to determine Truth? If you don’t, you could be a lazy Christian.

Stop. Stop right this minute!

Our jobs as Christians isn’t simply to receive sermons or try to be better people. Our job is also to safeguard the Word of Christ Jesus and his message, ensuring that it is delivered to others in Truth! The Word of God is precious. However, harmful and fallacious doctrine results when the word is taken out of context and twisted around by fools. From now on, understand that you are the keeper of the Word. If you don’t read the entire story and seek to understand it, you only contribute to the abuse against it. If you do not double check references to scripture made by others, including ministers, including ME, you could be allowing the Word to be abused and misused.

If you do not seek the Truth, you do not and will not have the Truth. You do not and will not know gray from brown. You do not and will not know the difference between right from wrong and good from evil.

We must stay diligent seeking God’s Truth. We can not renew our churches without first being able to SEE the clear border between right and wrong, truth and lie. By reading God’s Word, our own failures and sinful nature come to light. – I know, because God’s Word continually  reminds me of my fallen nature as a human and the Holy Spirit is my inspiration for my continuous quest toward living as God wishes. Christ saves me from myself and he lifts me up, carrying my burdens. He walks with me and guides me forward. It is imperative that we continually renew our own spirits in Christ and in Truth, confronting ourselves. God’s Word brings the border between truth and lie, right and wrong into clear focus.

Today- rededicate yourself to God’s Truth through his Word. Pray for full understanding. Renew your soul.

This is your own new starting point! Go, now. Off your tuckuss!

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the Word of God.” – 2 Timothy 2:15

Project 3, Post 1: Melted Crayons & Smothered Light

Project 3, Post 1: Melted Crayons & Smothered Light

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Introduction & Artistic Process:

A few months back, I found an unfinished painting behind my wardrobe. It was a picture of a leafless tree against the backdrop of vibrant yellow and red (shown above). I decided to finish the piece. It was to be a bumpy road… one which I am now going back and reflecting upon.

I love experimenting. In 2015, I created a painting of dandelions using acrylic paint and melted crayons (pictured below). I had been somewhat disappointed with the finished project, but – as with many of my pieces that I feel are flops – others adored my dandelion creation. It had long, arduous, and sometimes frustrating endeavor, but the piece became a fan favorite!

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So, gazing upon my leaf-barren tree, I decided to experiment with melting crayons once again…. Yet, I was about to reminded that not every experiment turns out well.

I began by cutting and then gluing tiny fragments crayons onto the grass areas of my piece. Next, I used a hair dryer to melt the crayons, holding the canvas at a tilt so that the liquefied, colored wax would run upward like shoots of grass. Hmmm… I thought to myself. That doesn’t look right…

Undeterred, or oblivious to the gravity of my mistake, I made things even worse. I added bits of crayon to the branches of my tree, melting the colored wax into what turned out looking like a dark blob with sporadic offshoots like fingers. Ahhhhh! What have I done??? My tree looked like a “swamp thing.” At once I realized that I had destructively altered a painting. It had been full of bright light, but I had smothered that light. The painting was now heavy and dark and seemed as if it had entered a state of madness. The few areas of light remaining had lost their vibrancy and seemed completely at odds with the dark and heavy wax now covering so much of my piece. The light seemed almost as if was now locked in battle with the swamp thing itself.

 

What had started with a small number of tiny crayon fragments, scattered around the base of my tree, had grown into weeds, casting shadow upon and overtaking the grass below. I could have stopped this invasive species right then and there. Instead, I allowed it to spread… I participated in its invasion upward. It only took a few minuscule flecks of crayon, settling in among the branches of its intended victim, to ultimately blanket the poor tree on a thick coat darkness. The weeds had spread and shut out the light.

“A little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough.” ~Galatians 5:9

Reflection:

What had been done to my tree is not dissimilar to what is being done to our churches and to the body of Christ. Weeds live amongst the scattered grasses in every area of the world. These weeds have even taken root in most of the branches of Christianity the world over. It is their constant desire for and their coveting of others’ nutrients to drain that compels the spread of the weeds, just like kudzu, the plant that ate the South.

Subversives are as old as time… “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

The Christian church has always been under attack. Christian themselves come under attack from the very moment they devote themselves to Christ; a fact of which, unfortunately, many Christians are never warned. Perhaps, though, one of the most tragic aspect of Satan’s slow march toward church destruction and Christian enslavement is that so many of us actually aid the enemy himself. Our precious nutrients are what Satan and his servants rob from us and consume. Courage, conscience, certainty, trust, faith, conviction, foresight, clarity, honesty, kindness, generosity, chastity, and reason are just a few of our nutrients upon which the subversives feed upon in service to their master.

“This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.”     ~Galatians 2:4

Confronting our own participation – whether accidental, passive, or purposeful – in Satan’s schemes is essential. Just as I was forced to contend with what I had done to my poor painting, we Christians must contend with the darkness we have allowed to progressively blanket our churches in darkness under our watch.

In my next post, I will cover my first steps toward saving my painting, and, God willing, I will discuss the issues we must contend with and the steps that we must take to renew the Body of Christ and our churches. Remember: God is our savior, our everything! The road won’t be easy and I am sure to receive some unwanted attention from the dark realms. I ask you to join me in this journey, and to please pray for my protection and for your protection as, together with God, we delve into this pressing matter.