I have been attending CEMA for six years and during this time I have seen crazy things. The Chief of Police as a guest speaker and the pastors asking him questions about what we can do about crime about making our communities more safe, about poverty, homelessness, etc. Church leaders, the ones that are supposed to have wisdom and knowledge from the Spirit of God are looking for their answers in the world.
Then I witnessed another high profile guest speaker, Preston Manning, a now, lukewarm compromiser that would kick out an organization, from his annual meeting, put on by the Manning Centre for Democracy, for being too outspoken for Jesus, too “Christ like”.
There was another event where CEMA invited Minister Jonathan Denis, as a speaker, and when we arrived we were openly told that we are not welcome to the event, because the organizers were afraid that we might say something that might offend the minister. They also said that the way that we pray is not proper, I guess too much Jesus (it’s not politically correct in the ministerial). Yet the very one they were afraid that we would offend came to me giving me a bear hug and then turned and attempted to introduce me, as his friend, to the people that had just tried to ban us from the meeting.
All of this treatment we swallowed. It was not easy, but we thought, for the sake of unity, perhaps God because of our presence would challenge them and they would change. I think the tip of the iceberg came after a short presentation that we gave at a CEMA meeting, inviting the “leaders” to embrace the March for Jesus and encouraging them to forward the message to their groups. We were openly told by Brent Trask, the leader of CEMA, at this time that the March for Jesus is a waste of time, and that not only will he not support it, but that he would discourage everyone from participating in the event, rather he would send them to the Mustard Seed that day than to encourage them to go to the March for Jesus.
You see, I live to lift the name of Jesus Christ and God says in His word “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” John 7:18. As a follower of Christ, the most amazing moments are those where you can lift the name above all names, Jesus Christ, for all to see.
At that moment, something in my heart changed. I decided for the sake of those people I would have to, one day, address those issues. Jeremiah 5 30 “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: 31 The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?”
For some time, I noticed that CEMA was more interested in high profile “big shots” than in preaching sound doctrine and Jesus Christ and Him crucified. On Thurs Nov. 17/11 such an opportunity, to confront their hearts, arose.
A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail with an invitation to attend a meeting, with our Mayor Naheed Nenshi. I thought to myself this can be a great opportunity for the body of Christ and the “church leaders” to not only show the love of Christ, but to tell a person that is on his way to hell (due to sinful lifestyle and worship of foreign gods), about what Jesus did on the cross, and that if he turns away from his sins and received Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, that he can receive everlasting life.
I have to admit, I waited for this meeting with anticipation. I, myself, had a chance to speak to the mayor on a number of occasions about Jesus’ love and His willingness to save our mayor. I thought, what a beautiful opportunity to reach him again, but this time as a group of believers, and with one voice.
But, instead, this is what happened.
First, came the introduction, a rather long one, praising this man for his efforts and accomplishments. Then we were told what kind of a privilege to have “his worship” in our midst. That made my blood boil, “His Worship”-only God deserves such a title. Then the mayor stood up. He gave his politically correct speech, saying the things that you would expect from any politician that; we are to build community together, we have to find common ground, we are from different faith communities but we have the same basic goals, etc. In other words, nice cliches.
When he was done, the Christian leaders, the “fathers of our city”, stood up and gave a resounding standing ovation. Let me remind you, he is just a man, like you and I. He has openly stated that he is a confessing Muslim, was sworn in on the Qur’an by his sister, because he would not have an infidel do his ceremony and he received the pulpit from CEMA to preach his message to the “pastors”. What does light have to do with darkness? What is this mixing of totally opposite core values? I just don’t understand that, except that Jesus warned us that a time would come when the love of many would grow cold. Love for who? For God first, and His righteousness, and then to others.
But today’s event, once again showed me that CEMA is a politically correct, just a “religious” organization, that loves the praises of men and to be loved by men, that prefers to receive pats on the back from the world rather than receiving the praises of God and rewards in eternity. Everything from the introduction to the finally, was stomach turning, lukewarm, business as usual “Christianity”. There were no challenges for the mayor, no message of salvation, no opportunity for given for repentance. No, rather, the meeting started with addressing the mayor as his worship, and ended with a standing ovation. Everything in between involved a sermon by Nenshi on poverty, on tolerance for homosexuals, and a rebuke by Nenshi to the media about criticizing him. A total mockery of what church and its leaders should stand for.
Today, I saw weak compromising men and women that stood for something, but it was not God, even though it was done in the name of Jesus. Then the mayor left and Brent stood up to praise the awesome words of Nenshi. He even went so far as to say that Jesus, if He were there, would have said basically the same thing that Nenshi spoke. Brent did offer up a prayer for Nenshi, but what good is that prayer if the opportunity to share the gospel was not taken. Nenshi came as a sinner, living in sin, and left as a sinner, but with a false sense of assurance from the “Christian Community”. He now believes, that everything is fine, cool and awesome and that he has no need to change.
Don’t get me wrong, we do need to pray for the people around us, the mayor included, but what’s most important is the truth, because the truth will set them free. They need Jesus and Him crucified who rose from the dead.
Jeremiah 6 10 To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it. 11 But I am full of the wrath of the LORD, and I cannot hold it in.”
After the meeting I went to speak with Brent Trask and a couple of others, that are involved with CEMA, and confronted them directly. I told them what I saw was an abomination, and that they were selling themselves as prostitutes to anyone who will help them to be more prestigious. I told them that they had lost their ability to be salt and light. I reminded them that there is only one to be worshipped, God Himself, not some man. I also told them that they missed the perfect opportunity to bring life to our mayor.
When I made plain my views, they did not humble themselves and admit any kind of fault, but rather proceeded to call me a wide range of names. In their view, how dare I (a nobody) say to them (big shots) that they erred. I was told, by Brent Trask, “Art, you are the most arrogant, prideful, confrontational, disrespectful man that I have ever met in my whole life”, and that I bring shame to Christ. I told him that my authority comes from the Bible and the Bible clearly shows us how to reach people. To this a reply came that I still cannot believe. Remember, these men are the “leaders” in our churches. The guy told me that the Bible is outdated and the methods used to reach the lost are no longer relevant in our culture. He reminded me again and again that we are living in a different culture. Can you believe this? Because I still can’t. I replied that the Bible was relevant thousands of years ago and will be relevant thousands of years from now. Jeremiah 17 5 This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD. 6 That person will be like a bush in the wastelands…7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. 8 They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
They told me clearly that they are trying to win people by friendship. Then a lady, who was listening to our conversation, confronted them and asked them point blank, “have you ever preached to Mayor Nenshi that there is no salvation in anyone apart from Jesus Christ?” To which they replied, should we attack the guy the first time that we meet him. And to this she replied, “do you call preaching the gospel to someone attacking them?”. The answer came, “I don’t have time for this”.
Jeremiah 6 13 “From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. 14 They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. 15 Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush.
I hesitated to let people know about this as my desire is to build and to unite, but there comes a point that any honest has to face the fact that if I do not anything or say anything, I am become a part of this insanity. The truth, Jesus said, will set you free. He spoke over and over again, “friendship with the world in enmity with God.” The Bible says, test the spirits and beware of the gatekeepers, that themselves do not enter the Kingdom of God and will do everything in their power to prevent others from entering. The scriptures warns us of such people. There are those that have an appearance of Godliness but deny the power. Jesus said that they are white washed tombs, beautiful on the outside but on the inside are filled with dead man’s bones.
I finished the conversation by saying that I may be arrogant and prideful, I agree, but I am not afraid to tell you the truth. Then I walked away. The worst thing about this whole matter is their attitude. They reject anyone that comes in the name of the Lord, building their own kingdom lusting after the control of others. They always reject the truth (the word of God given in correction). They are quick to remove the messenger rather than to change their behaviour. There is no fear of God. Their way is “Let’s shoot the messenger so that hopefully the message will be muzzled.”
I have included just a few scriptures pertaining to this matter for all to see and I understand that our CEMA executives view the scriptures as outdated and antiquated and therefor irrelevant, but the only authority I want to stand on is God’s and not man’s.
Jeremiah 12 10 Many shepherds will ruin my vineyard and trample down my field; they will turn my pleasant field into a desolate wasteland. 11 It will be made a wasteland, parched and desolate before me; the whole land will be laid waste because there is no one who cares.
26 I will pull up your skirts over your face that your shame may be seen. 27 your adulteries and lustful neighings, your shameless prostitution!
Jeremiah 6 16 This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’17 I appointed watchmen over you and said, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But you said, ‘We will not listen.’
Jeremiah 2 18 Now why go to Egypt to drink water from the Nile? And why go to Assyria to drink water from the Euphrates? 19 Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you.
35 But I will pass judgement on you because you say, ‘I have not sinned.’36 Why do you go about so much, changing your ways? You will be disappointed by Egypt as you were by Assyria.
Jeremiah 3 1 “If a man divorces his wife and she leaves him and marries another man, should he return to her again? Would not the land be completely defiled But you have lived as a prostitute with many lovers would you now return to me?” declares the LORD. 2 “Look up to the barren heights and see. Is there any place where you have not been ravished? By the roadside you sat waiting for lovers, sat like a nomad in the desert. You have defiled the land with your prostitution and wickedness. 3 Therefore the showers have been withheld, and no spring rains have fallen. Yet you have the brazen look of a prostitute; you refuse to blush with shame. 4 Have you not just called to me: ‘My Father, my friend from my youth, 5 will you always be angry? Will your wrath continue forever?’ This is how you talk, but you do all the evil you can.”
Jeremiah 4 22 “My people are fools; they do not know me They are senseless children; they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil; they know not how to do good.”
Jeremiah 5 7 Your children have forsaken me and sworn by gods that are not gods. I supplied all their needs, yet they committed adultery and thronged to the houses of prostitutes. 8 They are well-fed, lusty stallions, each neighing for another man’s wife. 9 Should I not punish them for this?”
12 They have lied about the LORD; they said, “He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine. 13 The prophets are but wind and the word is not in them; so let what they say be done to them.”
21 Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: 22 Should you not fear me?” declares the LORD. “Should you not tremble in my presence? I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross. The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it. 23 But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they have turned aside and gone away. 24 They do not say to themselves, ‘Let us fear the LORD our God, who gives autumn and spring rains in season, who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.’
Jeremiah 20 11 But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonour will never be forgotten.
Jeremiah 23 1 “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD.
22 But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds.
Ezekiel 3 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18 When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.
20 “Again, when a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before them, they will die. Since you did not warn them, they will die for their sin. The righteous things that person did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 21 But if you do warn the righteous person not to sin and they do not sin, they will surely live because they took warning, and you will have saved yourself.”
1 Timothy 2 1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people.
24 The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. 25 In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever.
2 Timothy 3 1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God — 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 4 1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
Titus 1 10 For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. 11 They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. 12 One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” 13 This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith 14 and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.