Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Someone recently asked, “Are you sure your ministry and your writing isn’t becoming more about you, and less about God?”

I could barely understand the question; no one plunged headlong into this work ever thinks this way. To think this way requires 1) an unhealthy examination of self, and 2) an unhealthy spiritual dichotomy that must doubt, moment-by-moment, the indwelling spirit.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:1-5:

Thus let a man be reckoning with us as deputies of Christ, and administrators of God's secrets. Furthermore, it is being sought in administrators that any such be found faithful. Now to me it is the least trifle that I may be being examined by you or by man's day. But neither am I examining myself. For of nothing am I conscious as to myself, but not by this am I justified. Now He Who is examining me is the Lord.

I, too, am an administrator of God’s secrets. As such, I am expected to be found faithful in all aspects of life, personal and spiritual. Rightly so. Of nothing am I conscious as to myself. In other words, I believe myself to be a good representative of Christ. Does this justify me, in the personal sense? No. How can anyone know the depths of his or her own soul? If these inner caverns are hidden from each of our eyes, what is to be done?

Self examining self

The temptation, for an administrator of God’s secrets, is to examine himself; to continually question his motives: Am I doing this for God, or am I doing it for myself? This is a useless, hazardous enterprise, as it takes energy from the work at hand and directs it self-ward. Self-examination—as far as proclaiming the evangel goes—is a trap of the Adversary.

Paul wrote to the Philippians:

Some, indeed, are even heralding Christ because of envy and strife, yet some because of delight, also; these, indeed, of love, having perceived that I am located for the defense of the evangel, yet those are announcing Christ out of faction, not purely, surmising to rouse affliction in my bonds. What, then? Moreover, seeing that, by every method, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is being announced, I am rejoicing in this also, and will be rejoicing nevertheless.

Some of the brethren, grieving for the jailed apostle, heralded Christ out of delight for the message, probably hoping to delight Paul at the same time. Others, jealous of Paul’s position in the ecclesia, worked hard to gain converts, hoping to “gain ground” on Paul during his Roman layover. Some say the factious announcers brought a tainted message. This is impossible; Paul would never have countenanced that, let alone rejoiced in it. No, the message was pure, it was the motive that was tainted. As to that, Paul didn’t care. As long as the message was pure, a potted plant could announce Christ.

Paul was much more than a potted plant. Was he perfect? Of course not. He refused to let his imperfection, however, derail the task for which he was born and called. Here is a devious trap of Satan: Are you sure you are doing this for all the right reasons? Maybe you ought to stop and examine yourself. Paul said, “Forget it.” To him, it was the “least trifle” to be examined by his fellow saints. For surely, there were those who would make a career of examining Paul, and others like him. If Paul paid constant attention to, or responded continually to, these critics, he would never have written or spoken another word.   

Theodore Roosevelt describes the “armchair quarterback” syndrome:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

It is easy for spectators eating popcorn in the bleachers to tell soldiers how to fight. Funny that none of the critics ever wants to take the place of the soldier. 

Paul refused to let others examine him, for neither did he examine himself. In the first place, human examination along this line is impurely sourced; it comes from “man’s day.” The only one capable of discerning true motive is the Lord, and Paul contented himself to wait upon Him. In the meantime, he brushed aside the “man’s day” brigade. (I’m still working on that part.)

Barnum and Bailey

A petty criticism leveled against this work (by only a few over the years) is that the worker is a showman, a performer. I am what I am, and what I always have been. I missed the cookie-cutter-man-of-God assembly line, sorry; I was out picking daisies, rolling down hills, and constantly entertaining my classmates at school. One of my uncles is a Hollywood playwright, another joined the circus when he was fourteen and eventually married the Sheep-Haired Woman from the sideshow.

Any further questions?

What is the problem?

As I’ve always said, there are those who are pious and humble on the outside, but who inside are full of pride. Then there are others, like me, who may be a bit blustery and showy on the outside, but who inside know that they know that they know their sufficiency and ability come from Christ.   

The new "I"

Galatians 2:20—

With Christ have I been crucified, yet I am
living; not longer I, but living in me is Christ.

This speaks to the second point mentioned at the start of this blog: It takes an unhealthy spiritual dichotomy to continually examine one’s motives in proclaiming the evangel.

I was crucified with Christ 2,000 years ago. But wait: I am still living. But wait again: the “I” that was living before being crucified with Christ, is different than the “I” living after, because now, “living in me is Christ.” In other words, “the spirit of God is making its home in [me]” (1 Corinthians 3:16). The pronoun is still, “I,” but the change could not be more profound. I have graduated from a self-centered “I,” to a Christ-centered, “I.”

Regressing toward the old "I"
A lot of people don’t get this; they stumble at the word “I,” whether pre or post-Calvary. This is the dichotomy I spoke of. The mature person assumes Christ within and has no problem saying, “I”; the immature person lives much of his or her life on the wrong side of the cross and is constantly suspect of “I.” These immature are the ones continually trying to sound humble; they have yet to appreciate, “I live; living in me is Christ.”

Then there are those like me who have given up the game of trying to sound humble, who appreciate the death of the old “I” at Calvary, and who therefore use the new “I” with relish. Those able to do this are, in their liberated, guilt-free use of the infamous pronoun, actually on the right side of Calvary—the post "death-to-self" side.

(An obsession with "I" is the resurrection of self; a denial of the truth of Romans, chapter 6.) 

Because I rarely consider myself on the pre-death side of Calvary where “self” is constantly alive, kicking, and troublesome, I generally assume other people to be where I am. I give others the benefit of the doubt, later to find—when they attack me for self-obsession—that the benefit is undeserved. It is those on the wrong side of Calvary—who assume my abandonment of false humility to be self-obsession—who are, in fact, self-obsessed.

To the one who has died with Christ, there is only one “I.” To constantly jump that chasm back and forth between pre and post Calvary, is not only exhausting, but unnecessary. It is also unspiritual.

Who wrote my books?

I asked one of my detractors recently: “Since you think there is too much of me in my work and not enough of God, maybe I should just put “God” as the author of all my books.” (You can see the “lose-lose” proposition here.) If my books are by “Martin Zender,” I’m promoting myself. But if I take the absolute tack and make “God” the author of my books (this is supposed to be the humble approach?), then how dare I claim to be the Deity?


I laid a little trap for one brother recently, telling him, “I have brought many people to Christ, through my books.” He took the bait, and said, “You have brought many people to Christ?” (He sounded incredulous and shocked to hear me “taking the credit.” ) “Yes,” I repeated, “I have brought many people to Christ.” He could not believe I could be so arrogant as to emphasize the pronoun, “I.” Surely, this proved that my ministry was “all about me.”

After letting this go on a while, I quoted Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:22

“To all have I become all, that I should undoubtedly be saving some.”

“ ... that I should undoubtedly be saving some,” said Paul.

(But Paul, I thought Christ saved people—or does God do it? In any case, how can you say that you save people? Do you think that maybe your ministry is becoming more about you, and less about God?

This is a clear case of the absolute vs. the relative perspective—and of misunderstanding it. “Be carrying your own salvation into effect, for it is God operating in you, both to will and to work for the sake of His delight” (Philippians 2:12-13). Here is the absolute and relative perspective within two verses. God does things through us. The “I” (or the “us,” in this case) is relative, not absolute.

There is not a religious qualm in the world—voiced by another—that could make me abandon my healthy use of the pronoun “I.” There is not a religious qualm in the world—voiced by another—that could keep me from putting my name on the books I write. (“How dare you say you wrote these books!”) Rather, I have put aside these religious over-sensibilities and have embraced the post-Calvary “I”: God does this mighty work through me; through me.

God employs cracked pots

Jesus had a Messiah complex. 
This does not mean any of us are perfect. (I have been told that I think I am “nearly infallible” and that I have a “Messiah complex.” Really? I should be having a much better time of things in this life, then. I thought I was a mistake-riddled human being struggling through an evil eon; I could actually use a Messiah complex about now.) It does not mean we do not make mistakes. What it does mean is that we refrain from analyzing our motives for heralding the Word. It means we refrain from answering every critic along that line. When it comes to heralding this evangel, self-analysis is a useless, unspiritual enterprise.

In my last blog, I explained how the term “sex-obsessed” described, not those for whom the marvels of sex are a regular part of their conversations, but rather those chronically offended by sexually-oriented things. It’s the same thing with self-obsession. “Self-obsessed” describes, not the Scripture-worker doing his job, unconscious of any blatant wrong-doing, but rather the person who is constantly worried whether or not an act (his, hers, or someone else’s) is “of the self.” This is the self-obsessed person.

It’s all I’ve got

“Herald the Word, opportunely and inopportunely” (2 Timothy 4:2).  

For me—still in the midst of trial, enduring fightings within and without—this seems like one of the most inopportune times ever to herald the Word. So what do I do? The only thing I know how to do:

Herald the Word.

© 2012 by Martin Zender

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


It has been recently suggested that my books are “full of sex.” When pressed for an example, the only one offered was the opening story in Flawed by Design, where the prostitute, about to pour her tears upon her Savior’s feet in anguish over her occupation, wrestles in a field before dawn with God—with what He made her. She shakes her breasts in front of Him, daring Him to kill her. Falling to the earth with bitter weeping, she expects a lightning bolt. Instead, she feels His tender compassion.

Many people have written to tell me how this passage moved them to tears—in fact, all the writers have been women. (After ten years, I am still moved to tears whenever re-reading this story.) In my opinion—and in the opinion of many others—this story perfectly introduces a book about being flawed by design.

But what kills it, in the mind of some, is the word “breasts.” Worse, I briefly describe the prostitute’s breasts as being perfect. “I can’t hand out this book to people,” says a friend, “for fear they would stumble at it.”

I wonder if this friend, who finds the brief allusions to sex in some of my books so objectionable, has trouble handing out the Bible. He should. If the standard for an “unsharable book” is the mention of sex, the Bible wins hands down. The Bible is full of prostitutes, concubines, penises, breasts, polygamy, seed-spilling, and menstrual cycles. The entire book of Song of Solomon fits the modern-day standards for erotica. In Esther 2:5-7, it is God Himself Who points out, concerning Esther: “The maiden had a lovely shape and was good-looking in appearance.”

By my count, God brings up sex about 1,000 more times than I do. I have a long way to go to catch up with Him. I probably never will; He created sex, and I did not. No wonder He’s so unapologetic about it.


What makes my work so different and effective is that I am myself. In the midst of giving you spiritual truth, I tell you about my life. I am not ashamed to be human in every category of life, not just the sexual category. This honesty helps people like my books. I don’t have to work at it, because being myself is the most natural thing in the world to me.  

The only thing worse than an M&M is a sexy female one.
If you were to listen to the old ZenderTalks and read my early books, you would notice two common themes: M&Ms and black coffee. Back in the day, I was passionate about these things and often shared with readers and listeners how these two products helped me through life. It is interesting that no one has ever accused me of being “coffee obsessed,” or “M&M obsessed.” It is only when I mention the word “breast,” or bring up some aspect of feminine beauty, that some people become offended. The conclusion is unavoidable: Those who object to the sexual references but not to these other things believe M&Ms to be good, but sex to be evil. Coffee is pure, but sex is tainted.

This is Gnosticism. (Google it, folks; it ain't pretty.)

As Kingsley G. Bond writes in the foreword to Clyde Pilkington’s book, Due Benevolence: 

It is not surprising that the mistakes of our [religious] past should have given us
a poor view of something that God made and pronounced "good." It is almost
impossible, now, to divest ourselves of the view that sex is an obscenity. However strenuously we try to disturb our prejudice against it, the view is deeply ingrained that sex is a power which exercises a hold over life that is at least dangerous and more likely evil. Containment is the common approach, instead of liberation.

Sex is not a monstrous mistake of the Creator, but something for which we may
expect that God holds a constructive purpose in view. No doubt that purpose is
being served in spite of our upset situation, but how much better if the good for
which this faculty was intended could be pinpointed and its drive directed into
ways that would benefit all.

Sex is in just about everything. This is not bad, but the natural way of things.
Therefore the Christian has to start where the Bible starts, by acknowledging
things as God has given them to us. After all, the whole of life is either male or
female, and of all the instinctive drives that have been given to us, hunger is the
most compelling, but sex is the most pervasive. It naturally touches everything …
Indeed life would be cold, hard, and metallic without it. God did not give us a
sexless world. It is not for us to fight against God’s order of creation, but rather to
seek to know more and find the line of purpose to follow.

Kingsley G. Bond,  
Tidings (1967)

 Clyde Pilkington writes in the same book:

We have a Bible filled with sex. There was clearly a different mindset in Biblical times. There is a different mindset by God. What seems so unusual to us was commonplace within their setting. Our religious society has mastered the art of calling “evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). In one sweeping motion, they have taken God’s wonderful gift of sexuality and almost uniformly called it evil.

                                                SEXUAL OBSESSION

This poor guy is sex-obsessed
What is sexual obsession? Remember how I pointed out to you in my book, How to Be Free From Sin While Smoking a Cigarette, that a slave of sin is just as much someone who sins like crazy as someone who tries like crazy not to sin? Slavery to sin requires a fixation on sin—whether to resist or indulge it. The same paradox applies to sex. I make a brief mention of sex in a book or a talk, and the religious reader (the reader for whom sex—in spite of his or her protestations to the contrary—is inherently evil), fixates upon that passage and can’t let it go. I have long since moved on to another topic, but the sex obsessed can’t move on. Why? They are obsessed with sex. I have moved on, but they haven't.

Who is obsessed with sex?

To speak openly about sex is natural. To celebrate feminine beauty (God Himself sets the pace here; read Ruth and The Song of Solomon), is natural. God pronounced the male and the female “good.” To make it evil is yet another ugly by-product of religion that infects even the saints.

Wake up, people
When it comes to human sexuality, I often feel like the most normal, well-adjusted person in the room. I wish this liberation upon all who read. Those who will dare to begin considering sex as God considers it (He considers it “good”) will—paradoxically—find themselves at last delivered from the sexual obsession that has so oddly turned them against the natural marvel of the female breast.  

© 2012 by Martin Zender

(To order Due Benevolence, Clyde Pilkington’s “revelation-a-page” treatise about Biblical sexuality, click here: / It is the best 25 bucks you will ever spend.)

Friday, October 12, 2012


Trial brings some things besides pain. But mostly, it brings pain. The value of the cross centers upon the suffering of Christ. When we think of the suffering of Christ, we think chiefly of the cross. But I think His worst suffering was Gethsemane. That's when Satan tempted Him to walk away, but when He knew He must walk through.

If God had given Christ an alternative to the cross, He would have taken it. Immediately. Gladly. The value of overcoming trial is proportionate to the realness of the trial. Theoretical trials don't work. If our Lord and Savior does not desperately wish to escape, His staying does not stun us. His obedience is what stuns us. It's the staying. 

Have any of you ever been so beset by a trial that you think it is beyond your endurance to bear it? I'm sure you have. You want it to end, and would even leave the world, if God would grant it. It is that real. Nothing theoretical. But you stay. Staying leaves its mark—on earth, and in heaven. It leaves its mark, too, on the sufferer. Some marks are metaphoric, some literal.  

I am undergoing a trial now that is so severe I cannot start the Revelation show, as I promised. I don't have the emotional capital to be alone in a room talking to a camera and a microphone, even about the great things of God. I don't know when I will again. The great things of God seem less than great to me right now. My view is temporarily dimmed. All I have right now is faith.

Clyde Pilkington would have been a good general in an army. He is a general in the army of Christ. Very few teach the true gospel of Paul full-time in the earth today. Among those who do, Clyde Pilkington is their general. He does not think of himself as such; he is a working general. He is the general in the trench with his troops. He cannot help being what he is; God made him a gifted encourager. 

Dan Sheridan called this morning. No one reading this realizes what Dan Sheridan has undergone these past two years. I did not even realize. Satan has a target on Dan's back; do not judge until you know. Dan went from teaching the gospel of grace full time, to his own Gethsemane, where he has been for two years.

There occurred, this morning, a miraculous three-way conference call between Dan, Clyde and me. It was miraculous because of the respective trials and that the general was on the line. It was miraculous because of what God brings out of trial, when one least expects it—and doesn't even think one wants it.  

The short of this is that Dan and I are reviving the Zender/Sheridan show—tonight. We will record the first show tonight, over the phone, and plan on releasing it Monday, God willing. I have no other details right now.

All of this took place twenty minutes ago. It was born out of trial and pain and the necessity of staying in this trench, staying in this war when Satan would have us out. I cannot now speak alone in an empty room—even about God—but I can speak to my brother about God. And I will. We don't know exactly what we're doing, but we've done it before, so it will come to us. We will talk about the political situation on the earth today, as well as the situation, on earth, of the members of the body of Christ—in the midst of it all. How do we live as strangers in such a strange place? How do we live when our realm is inherent, not here, but among the celestials? Does it matter who is elected on November 6?

Thank you for your prayers, for both Dan and me. Please pray for Clyde as well. Pray for everyone attempting this kind of work. 

Sorry for being away from this blog. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for not forsaking me. 

We will talk as the days progress. 

Watch for an email about the all-new Zender-Sheridan show. 

Watch for the snatching away, when you shall be picked up by strong arms: Christ's.

© 2012 by Martin Zender