Category Archives: Boldness

Taking Sides

LineInSandSooner or later, you will be forced to take a side.  You can try to stay neutral all you want, but the time will come when you will have to decide between two opposing forces.  No one can stay neutral forever.  Besides, not taking a side, is weak.  It the cheap way out.  Deep down, I don’t believe that someone can be truly neutral.  They may say they are in an attempt to not offend someone or hurt some feelings, but I really think at any given juncture, everyone has a preference.

Say you get in the middle of a disagreement with two friends.  They look to you and ask you what you think.  Most people would probably throw up their hands and tell them both that you’re not taking sides, when you know good and well what you think.  You just don’t want to make one of them mad.  Scaredy cat.  Maybe you do speak your opinion, and it’s a third point of view.  Maybe you really do think that, or maybe you say that just so you don’t take a side.

Sometimes it’s a simple one.  Do you want chocolate or vanilla ice cream?  ”  Oh, it doesn’t matter,” you say.  Don’t lie, it does.  You really do want one or the other, but for whatever reason, you’d rather be a pacifist.  When you’re sitting there eating the one you didn’t want, in your head, you’re thinking, “I’d rather be eating the other flavor.”

Maybe you’re not choosing because you want to prefer the other person and not influence their decision.  Say you’re married and your spouse asks you where you want to go eat, Chinese or Mexican.  You really prefer Chinese, but you tell them what ever they choose is fine.  That’s not a bad thing, but in reality, your answer could have went like this, “I prefer Chinese, but if you’d rather have Mexican, I’m good with that too.”  I would bet that most people wouldn’t answer like that.  Typically, we all like something over the other, but we refrain from choosing for a myriad of reasons.

And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.  And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.” – Luke 9:49-50 KJV

Just to digress for a moment, here is a guy that was doing mighty works in Jesus name and the disciples got bent out of shape about it because he “wasn’t part of their group“.  They even tried to make him stop.  Jesus didn’t care for that and he told them why.  Unfortunately, in today’s church, many look down upon their fellow Christians because they aren’t part of their group.  So much more could be said about that, but back to the point.

If you’re not for Jesus, you’re against Him.  That’s powerful stuff right there.  That principle came out of Jesus’ mouth more than once.  He said it again in Matthew 12:30 – “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”  Whatever you’re not for, you are against.  Even if you’re not taking sides between two friends, you are now against them both.  There is no neutral.

Honesty, I’m a black and white kind of guy.  I really don’t like operating in the gray area, so I can get on board with that principle.  I think Jesus was the same way.  He didn’t operate in the gray areas.  He plainly took a side every time.  Even when He spoke in parables, they were meant to be taken a certain way.  He was unwavering no matter the situation.  Even when his disciples got a little concerned that Jesus was rocking the boat too much (read John 6:51-67), He didn’t get wishy washy.  I read Jesus reply in verse 67 as an ultimatum.  It’s as if he told them if they didn’t like what He had to say,  His reply was, “You know where the door is.”

It’s sad to say that many Christians have sided against Jesus and they don’t even realize it.  I don’t mean to say that they’ll end up in hell or anything like that, but they certainly haven’t sided with God where they need to.  Case in point: Acts 5.  Go ahead and read it.  The answer Peter and the other Apostles gave the council was, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”  Oh, if only we were so bold.

We should be teaching in Jesus name everywhere we go, no matter where we are.  Even our children should be doing the same in schools and we should be encouraging it.  You might be thinking, aren’t we supposed to be submitting the earthly ordinances?  Aren’t we supposed to obey the laws of man?  We are to an extent.  If an earthy law directly violates a Biblical principle or command, then we should be disobeying.  We should be obeying God rather than men!

If a man made law tells us we can’t pray in school, then we should pray anyway.  Man cannot and should not dictate when and were we speak to our Heavenly Father.  Will there be repercussions?  Absolutely, and that’s exactly what we’re afraid of.  Christians bend over backward to comply to all sorts of ungodly laws.  In doing so, we have taken a stand against Jesus.  Think again about what He said.

HE THAT IS NOT FOR ME IS AGAINST ME

Think real long and hard about your life and judge for yourself where you have inadvertently taken a stand against Jesus.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m as guilty as anyone else.  Yet that has no bearing on what the Word of God says.

Here’s another great example.  I won’t post the entire block of scriptures, but the one below is taken from 1 Kings 18:

And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. – v.21 KVJ

Or how about this from Joshua 24:

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. – v.15 KJV

Despite those being Old Testament scriptures, I believe the principle remains the same today, since Jesus himself reiterated it.  We are to be serving one God and one God alone.  Yet we have bowed down to many other gods when it comes to our morals and convictions.  We refuse to stand and take a side because we are afraid of the repercussions.

We, as Christians in America, have no idea how good we have it.  I’m sorry, but getting made fun of or kicked out of something because we stand for God should not be counted as persecution.  Read up on Paul’s “light afflictions” or take a real look on what ISIS is doing to Christians.  THAT’S persecution, which Jesus said we will experience.  All that really happens to Christians in America is we get our feeling hurt over the color of a coffee chain’s cup.  Suck it up.

There are more examples in the OT of men that stood up against the mainstream and stuck their neck out despite knowing what would happen to them if they did.  God protected them in miraculous ways.  I believe that can happen to us today if we truly, deeply, believed and stood firm.  That’s not to say that there still won’t be those who will die for their beliefs as there were in the Bible.  There are real threats to those who stand firm in the name of Jesus, but there are far too many more that will never face that situation simply because of their geographical location and social standing.

Despite the lack of real persecution in America today, it does not change the truth of God’s word.  Even though the only type of person it seems acceptable to deride and flat out make fun of are Christians, more times than not – it still doesn’t come close to touching real, authentic persecution.  The day and age in which we live, Jesus needs us to take His side now more than ever.

Even if it’s with shakey knees, sweaty palms, and a weak voice, we must take His side.


Don’t Ask Jesus Into Your Heart

No, I’m not the anti-Christ, but I can already hear the backlash simply from the post title alone.  However, I’m serious.  Don’t do it.  Don’t ask Jesus into your heart.  Maybe I should explain…wrong-way-go-back

I’ve heard it said many times, by many different preachers, “If you’ve never asked Jesus into your heart…”  That’s what Christians refer to as an “alter call”.  It’s the time at the end of the service that is usually reserved to see if someone needs to be saved – to “ask Jesus into your heart and be the Lord of your life.”  You might be thinking, “What’s wrong with that?  Aren’t we supposed to see people saved?”  Absolutely.  Salvation is number one, yet the way that the vast majority of preachers go about it is all wrong un-Biblical.  That’s right: asking Jesus into your heart is un-Biblical.

Case in point: Romans 10:9-10

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

That is how someone is saved.  I cannot find anywhere in the Bible that says to ask Jesus into your heart or any other concoction of words to give us warm fuzzies.  Paul out of his own mouth to the Corinthians in 1:2 that he was determined to deal with one subject only: Jesus Christ and him crucified.  In fact, Acts 3:5; 4:10; 13:30; 13:34; 17:31, Romans 4:24; 6:4;6:9; 7:4; 8:11; 10:9, Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 2:12; 1 Thes 1:10; 2 Timothy 2:8; 1 Peter 1:21 – just to name a few, all deal with Jesus being raised from the dead!  I’d say that the resurrection was a pretty big deal.  It has to be.

That’s the true Gospel.  The true good news is that Jesus was crucified – in that he took on all of our sins while on the cross, was buried and three days later rose again and is sitting at the right hand of the Father.  He is NOT residing in your heart.  If, as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:17, Jesus was never raised from the dead, then we are all still in our sins.  If we are still in our sins then we are in an “un-saved” state, still separated from God.

If, in fact, the way to salvation is through believing that Jesus rose from the dead and confessing with your mouth that he is Lord, then what about the millions who have only “asked him into their heart?”  I don’t know.

That’s right.  I don’t know.  And I’m not afraid to say that.  I don’t know their hearts and I don’t know what was revealed to them at that moment.  Maybe they did get the revelation of what Jesus did at that moment regardless of how the preacher called it.  I don’t know, nevertheless, that doesn’t make the scriptures any less true.  We were told the way of salvation and we shouldn’t make up our own way.  An inconvenient truth doesn’t make it any less the truth.

So why do people do it the other way?  Why is it presented as asking Jesus into your heart?  Because it’s more warm and fuzzy that way.  It sounds so cuddly, who wouldn’t want to respond to that?  Slap some butter or frosting on it and who could resist?  <–Sarcasm.

Well, I know my answer is going to cause a ruckus, but we can thank the devil for that.

Think about it.  The devil has crept into the “church” and convinced people to do things a certain way because well, “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”  Ahhh…tradition.  It’s a killer.  Jesus told the most religious people of his day that tradition nullifies the word of God.  The devil doesn’t want us to change what we are doing, and if he can’t get us to be stagnate, then he’ll convince us of small changes in the way we do things so they no longer line with the Word of God.  If you think the devil doesn’t know scripture, you’re wrong.  He was around when it was being written.  If he could convince us to do something that would render the power of God of none effect, don’t you think he’d try it?

Am I splitting hairs?  Being too picky?  Or whatever else?  Yes.   Yes, I am.  This involves THE most important thing a person will ever choose.

Look, even if it’s not the devil that’s caused this different way of salvation, it’s still a different way no matter what. It’s not the way it’s presented in the Bible.  Shouldn’t that be enough …shouldn’t that be enough for us as Christians to re-examine how we do things?


Hearing From Heaven

Well, it’s been a while since my last post.  For all of you avid readers out there, I do apologize.  I was on vacation for a week in September and then there’s been some staffing changes at work, and my college classes have been taking up a little more time lately, so I haven’t had as much “free time” to post.  That’s more info than I usually post about myself, but I’d thought I’d explain my abrupt absence, but enough about me.

I’m sure I’m not the only one that has decided to post something in light of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.  Let me start by saying that was not God.  God was not the author of that incident.  It wasn’t the LORD trying to get our attention, nor was it a way to bring us closer to Him.  Who would want to serve a God like that?  Not me and I don’t.  Now, go ahead.  Quote all the Old Testament scriptures you can find to try and convince me otherwise.  Go ahead and quote Job.  All your attempts will be futile and time would fail me to list all the ones I know you’d use.

Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.  For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.  How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?  And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.  Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” – Matthew 18:10-14

The problem with trying to attribute this tragedy to God is the fact that we are under a different covenant than those in the Old Testament.  The Law no longer applies to us.  God is not dealing with us based on our performance.  He is dealing with us based upon what Jesus did for us.  His blood was the perfect offering that washed sin away forever.  You see, Jesus fulfilled the OT law and through Him, God is at peace with man.  Unfortunately, we still live in a fallen world.  The Bible says in Romans 5:12, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”  Due to Adam’s transgression, sin entered into the world.  Death is a fruit of sin and as a result, it has corrupted everything from it’s original intent and purpose.  Sin is still in this world and it is still bringing forth death.

Things happen in this world that are not God’s will.  Many people claim that nothing happens but what is God’s will.  They say things like “thy will be done” and “the LORD gives and the LORD takes away”.  If God was in full control and nothing happens except what He wills, then why wouldn’t he just simply take sin away?  Why wouldn’t he just take us all to heaven now and be done with it?

People pray what Jesus prayed in Matthew 6:10, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  They do so when tragedy strikes.  Yet they know not what they are praying.  These same people will admit they don’t believe there is death, nor pain, nor sickness in heaven, that everything is perfect in heaven.  And it is.  But look again what Jesus prayed.  He prayed for God’s will to be done in the earth just like it is in Heaven.  If God’s will is perfect health, joy, peace and love in heaven, then that’s got to be His will for the earth, but we sure don’t experience those things 24/7.  The only logical answer is that things happen on earth that are not His will.  God left control of this earth to man in Genesis and He never revoked that decree.

God still speaks today.  I know God tried to warn people before this happened.  I know He tries to warn people before anything bad happens.  There’s not a father here on earth that wouldn’t warn their children if they were in danger.  How much more our Heavenly Father?  The problem is no one is listening.  Jesus said in Matthew 7:11, “ If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”  20 children getting killed is not God’s idea of a good gift.  And I’d like to punch anyone who says otherwise.

When I was on my way home from South Dakota this last September, I was filling up my tires at a gas station before getting on the interstate to go home.  As I was checking the tire pressure, the passenger side front tire was only about 1 psi short.  I initially ignored it since I knew it wouldn’t affect anything being that close to where it should be.  As soon as I passed by it, I heard God speak to me (not an audible voice, but in my heart).  He simply said, “Fill it up.”  I just about didn’t, but I decided to anyway.  It took all of 10 seconds to do.  I finished up and hopped on the interstate.  Within a half our, about a quarter mile or so ahead of me, I saw a deer cross the interstate and a semi hit it.  I got to that point in the road about 1o seconds later.  If I would’ve ignored that unction, it would’ve been me hitting that deer at 75 mph.  At that speed, the potential would’ve been there for it to come up over the hood and through the windshield killing both myself and my daughter.

I share that because God warned me.  Not because I’m so special, but I heard Him because I was listening and I believe He wants me to live a long full life.  Most people don’t hear Him simply because they don’t believe that He is still speaking.  Unfortunately, they’ve probably heard that from the a church pulpit.

James said, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

We have a very real enemy, satan.  It doesn’t matter if you believe he exists or not.  In fact, he’d prefer you didn’t believe he exists.  That way he can wreak havoc in your life and you’ll blame God for it out of your ignorance.  Satan, like any criminal, is an opportunist and a bully.  He preys on the weak.  If a criminal knows someone can and will probably defend themselves, chances are they won’t mess with that person.  If they are sure you can’t defend yourself, you are a prime target.  Why do you thing there’s so much fraud surrounding the elderly?  Easy targets.  The devil is no different.  He doesn’t play fair.  He doesn’t care if you are 8 or 80.

Let not our prayers be in vain surrounding this horrific event in the form of asking God why He let this happen or why He caused this.  We need to be seeking God to show us how we missed the warning signs.  We need to be asking God to show us how to prevent things like this from happening.  We need to turn down the volume of distractions in our lives, be still and know He is God.

He is speaking to you today.  Right now.  Can you hear His voice?


Judging Others

I read something someone wrote the other day on a blog.  (I’m not going to link to the blog nor mention their name because neither of which are of any intrinsic value to what I’m writing about today.)  In it, was a quote that I’ve seen going around lately.  Here it is:

“You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” – Harlan Ellison

I’m figuring they got the quote off of Facebook, because that’s where I’ve seen it plastered the most.  The person that posted it had something to say concerning the quote.  They said, “No one is entitled to tell someone else what they are entitled to or to determine the level of someone else’s ignorance. Humans are not created to be judges. Not even of themselves.”  The last two sentences really got my theological juices flowing.  Is that true?  Are we not supposed to judge others or ourselves?

It’s real easy to jump on the bandwagon of “who are you to judge” or “how dare you judge me” or “you’re not my judge” or “what gives you the right to judge me“…  Do I need to continue?  As Christians, generally we will concede that God is the true Judge and that we have no business judging others.  But is that really what the Bible tells us?

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.  For you will be treated as you treat others.  The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” – Matthew 7:1-2 NLT

That was a quote from Jesus.  So that should clear things up, right?  Well, I’m not quite convinced yet.  Let’s look at some other scriptures and see.

  • Romans 14:3 – Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.
  • Romans 14:13 – Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.
  • 1 Corinthians 4:5 – Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

So there is a few more that tell us not to judge.  However, what are the context of those scriptures?  Romans 14:3 is Paul is talking about those who think that eating certain foods is wrong, not about moral or social behavior.  He is still referencing the incident in verse 13.  apparently there was some debate surrounding what was ok to eat and what wasn’t.  That’s not surprising considering the strict dietary laws the Jews followed then and many still do today.

The reference in 1 Corinthians Paul is talking about whether or not he’s or anyone else has been a good steward over the things the LORD has entrusted him with.  He’s basically saying that we have no idea the motives behind what people do, so it’s difficult for us to decide whether or not things are being done with good intentions.

There are some other scriptures that mention judging but in a slightly different way.  Let’s look at those.  The first is in 1 Corinthians 5 verse 3:

For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed

Whoa!  Hold up.  Did Paul just say he judged someone for something they did?!?  Oh no he didn’t!  Oh, yes he did!  What the heck Paul, don’t you remember what Jesus said?  So what gives?

First off, this is a pretty strong statement.  But what prompted it?  A man, who was supposed to be a Christian, was having an illicit affair with his father’s wife!  Paul even says this is not even heard of among the unbelievers in the area.  It was nothing to be proud of for sure, so Paul instructs them to not only  kick the man out of the church, but to ostracize him.  Look for yourself.  This is out of the New Living Translation because I think it really captures the heart of what Paul is saying.

When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin.  But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that.  I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believeryet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people. – 1 Corinthians 5:9-11

Now that’s harsh!  It also spits in the face of many Christians and “churches”.  Paul flat-out says DO NOT associate with Christians that indulge in those things.  Boot ’em out and lock the door!  (Not permanently of course.)  Listen to what he says in verse 12:

It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.  God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.”

Would you look at that!  Paul instructs Christians to JUDGE other Christians inside the church.  Listen to what else the Paul says to Christians about judging.  1 Corinthians 6:2-3 NLT:

Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves?  Don’t you realize that we will judge angels? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life.

Paul’s instructions were for them to bring their disputes before the church NOT in a “secular” court.  What’s even more surprising is that he likens that to judging the world AND angels!  I admit that I don’t know exactly what “judging angels” means, but it would seem to me that if we are unfit to judge disputes here on earth between believers, we are going to be unfit to judge the angels.

It would seem that those statements contradicts what Jesus said in Matthew 7, but it doesn’t.  Jesus isn’t saying not to judge.  He is saying that we need to be very aware of how we judge since how lenient we are with others is how lenient they will be with us.  It is not a command not to judge.  It can’t be or else Paul was contradicting Jesus.

Even in the OT testament, Moses was a judge over the people.  In fact, the Hebrew word for God, ‘elohiym, means rulers or judges.  Were we not created in the image of God and in that were we not given the power of dominion (to rule) over the earth?  Is that not what rulers do, is to judge?  If we were created in the image of God, then we were created to judge.  That takes us back to the comments I mentioned in the first paragraph of this post.  The comment, “Humans are not created to be judges. Not even of themselves,” is itself contradictory to the word of God.  We were created gto

Paul even tells us to judge ourselves.  When he was instructing the Corinthians on the proper way to partake of communion, he told them:

Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.  But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.  For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.  For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.  For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.  But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. – 1 Corinthians 11:27-32

If we are to judge ourselves in such an important thing as communion, then surely we are not to leave the lesser things un-judged.  In closing, let me remind us all of something Peter said:

For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? – 1 Peter 4:17 – NLT

Once again, we Christians have missed it.  We’ve been guilty of what Paul said in Romans 2:1 NLT:

You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things.

We, Christians, are called to a higher standard of living.  Yet we act like we’re still lost.  If we would hold each other to the standards that Paul, through the Spirit of God, gave us, perhaps the world would have less evidence to judge us as hypocrites.  No wonder the world doesn’t want to be like us.  We act worse than them.

Our directives on judgement doesn’t absolve us of our requirements to show compassion, mercy and forgiveness.  It’s just the opposite.  The more we step up and begin to correctly judge things, it will also increase the amount of mercy, compassion and forgiveness we’ll need to administer as well.


Call Me A Bigot

I’d be in good company if you did.  It’s not that I’m aiming to be marked as one, but due to my unwavering beliefs, I’d be classified as one.  A bigot, according to www.dictionary.com is a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.  According to the world, since I’m pro-traditional marriage, pro-life or simply pro-Bible, I must be a bigot.  Do you know who else was?  Paul.  That’s right Paul from the BIBLE!  Paul was a bigot.

I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ.  You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.  Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you.  I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed. – Gal. 1:6-9

Paul had previously entered the area of Galatia and preached Christ to them.  Some time afterward, he found out that they had begun to stray from what he preached.  He is shocked to find this out and says that anyone who preaches any other gospel should be cursed!  Can you believe it?  He actually said it twice!  It would seem to me that Paul had a “zero tolerance policy” when it came to any other gospel.  By today’s standards, he would be accused of hatred, bigotry, discrimination and intolerance.  Yet people want us to follow the Bible?  I think the people who want us Christians to do so, haven’t read their Bible.

Paul also says in 3:1 –

Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. – NLT

Here he pretty much calls them stupid for believing something else other than what he taught them.  In fact, the entire letter to the Galatians is a rebuke of sorts!  Paul also realizes that he runs the risk of them turning on him for saying these things.  Look what he says in verse 16, “Have I now become your enemy because I am telling you the truth?”  He realizes that his statements may not be met with open arms, but that didn’t stop him.  He knew what he was called to do and say despite the consequences.

Paul had no respect for anyone who preached another gospel.  If there are things that are going on in this world that is contrary to what we believe to be right, then we don’t have to tolerate those things.  We don’t have to have respect to what we believe to be sin.  Want to know something else about Paul?  Did you know that he was not pro-choice?

Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.  Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. – 1 Cor. 6:18-20 NLT

This definitely spits in the face of many Christians.  You see, the world (and many well-meaning Christians) don’t understand something: if you call yourself a Christian, you don’t get to pick and choose what you believe.  I know that’s a strong statement, so I’ll say it again.  If Jesus is your Lord, which is what makes you a Christian, then you don’t get to pick what you belive and what you don’t.  What Paul instructed Christians to do then is applicable to us now.  We don’t get to say that his instructions, or the other writers of the Bible for that matter, are outdated.  Or I should say, we don’t get to pick what is outdated and what is not, which is what the world and many Christians are doing.

The world wants to pick through the Bible and throw scriptures at us that they think we need to follow, all the mean while ignoring the ones that contradict and rebuke the very way they live their lives.  Then Christians, in a misguided attempt to love others, begin to become complacent and cave in on what they are supposed to stand up for.  We weren’t called to become friends with the world.  We were called to show them the way.  In fact, it should be no surprise that the world doesn’t like us.

  • Matthew 24:9 – Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. – KJV
  • Luke 6:22 – Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. – KJV
  • John 15:18-19 – If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. – KJV

Those statements were all made by Jesus.  The very person the world wants us to emulate.  Unfortunately the world has a skewed view as to who Jesus was.  They have made him into someone who accepts their ways.  Does he love them?  He sure does, but he doesn’t love their ways.  They mistake love for acceptance and tolerance.  Here are a few other things Jesus said:

  • John 3:35-36 – The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands.  And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment. – NLT
  • John 12:44-45 – Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.  And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. – KJV
  • John 14:6 – Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

Those sound like statements that contain no wiggle room.  No ifs, ands or buts.  Sounds to me like Jesus was pretty closed-minded on the topic of eternal life.  Sounds to me like Jesus had no tolerance for another opinion, belief or creed.  Uh, oh.  Sounds like Jesus fit the description of a bigot.

But here’s the flip side:

Does that give us a license to treat people with disdain, hatred,mockery and discrimination?  God forbid!  It’s just the opposite.  We should show love and compassion on those we disagree with.  However, people think that love and tolerance go hand in hand.  They are wrong.  You can love someone without tolerating their lifestyle or beliefs.  It’s the concept of “love the sinner, hate the sin” which is not in scripture, but still a noble concept.

Where we (as Christians) have utterly gone wrong, is that we’ve stood for what we believe without doing it in love.  We’ve gone after the outward actions all the mean while neglecting the heart.  See, if we want to change how people live, we must change the heart.  Outward actions are a fruit of an inward belief.  No amount of protesting and changing of laws are going to change how people act.  Change the heart and you change the outward actions.

What sucks is that many Christians today would get rebuked from the very one they call Lord.  That’s right, Jesus would rebuke many of us just like he did then.  I call to your remembrance Matthew 23:25-27 KJV:

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.  Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

This is what Jesus said to the very people who claimed to love God and his commands.  The people who claimed to be the most religious.  Yet this is exactly what we demand of the world today.  We want them to clean up their act, but we leave their heart untouched.

The same God we claim is intolerant to sin, the same God we claim is not pleased with our society’s ways, the same God we claim will bring judgement upon this nation (I for one don’t believe that He will), is the same God who sent His only Son to die for them.  Jesus became sin for us.  Jesus became sin for them too…maybe they just don’t know it yet.  And if we continue to present Him like we are, they never will.

It doesn’t mean that we ignore the scriptures I listed above.  But maybe there’s one thing you didn’t notice.  The letters in the New Testament were written to CHRISTIANS!  Those letters, in which the scriptures were taken from, were written AFTER those people in Galatia, Corinth, Ephesus, etc., received Jesus.  They were written AFTER they both heard and believed the gospel.

We are trying to shove scripture down the throat of those who have not believed on Jesus.  We are trying to shove scriptures down the throats of those who don’t have a heart towards God.  It’s like I said before, we are trying change symptoms instead of treating the cause.  Maybe it’s time we start working the soil before we attempt to plant seeds.  Of course that may mean we get our hands dirty.  We sure don’t like that sometimes.

 Don’t get me wrong.  Just because they aren’t Christians doesn’t mean those scriptures aren’t applicable to them.  They are.  God’s word is true regardless of one’s personal beliefs.  However, it’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.  It’s frustrating and eventually you’ll give up.

Jesus said in Matthew 23:26 – First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.  Change the heart first and the actions will follow.  Jesus never preached “turn or burn”.  Let’s not either.  They are already hurting inside.  Let’s not make it worse.

We may need to tweak our approach, but it doesn’t mean we give up.  I still plan on standing up for what I believe is right despite the consequences.  I know others will as well…on both sides.

There is a quote that I’ve found to be true, especially during my time in youth ministry: “People don’t care how much you know if they don’t know how much you care.”  In this case, the world doesn’t care what we know, because it doesn’t yet know how much we care.  More importantly, it doesn’t yet know how much He cares.


The Future of the Church

I’ve been witnessing something over the past year that has completely blown me away.  It’s been happening and I haven’t even realized what it was until recently.  Sometimes when you’re in the middle of something while it’s happening, you could quite possibly unaware it’s going on.  You can be so involved in something that until you take a step back, you realize what you thought was normal, was really something spectacular.

Revival.

It’s happening.  Now.  In rural southwest Iowa, it’s happening.  Just not how you might think.  It’s happening through teenagers.  No, that’s not a typo.

Slowly over the past year, the attendance in our youth group has been rising.  I’m not all about numbers, mind you.  However, when attendance increases, it makes you begin to wonder how and why this growth taking place.

You see, it’s not because we’ve been intentionally reaching out to the local and surrounding communities by shouting our name from the rooftops.  We haven’t been going to rescue of those in need.  It’s much more simple than that, yet profoundly more powerful.  It’s the Word.

We, as leaders, have been planting the incorruptible seed of the Word of God into our youth.

I love all the parables that Jesus spoke about seeds.  That link is just one of many.  The beauty of seeds is that they only know how to do one thing.  Grow.  With the right soil, water, sunlight and such, the seed can do nothing but grow.

Teenagers have been coming to our youth group whose parents don’t attend our church and I’m pretty sure don’t attend church anywhere for that matter.  To me, that’s quite interesting.  A teenager, whom isn’t required by their parents, to go to church on their own is an anomaly.  They could be having so much more “fun” elsewhere.  Yet, something on the inside of them knows where they should be.  So they come.  On their own.  And they keep coming back.  Not just once or twice, but consistently.  Why?  Fruit.

What these teens are seeing is what the Word is producing in others.  They are seeing joy, peace and love emanate from those who have been receiving the Word.  Our regular attenders are going out and being the light to the world.  We don’t have to make them share.  They are just so full of the Word that it is changing their lives and it is pouring out of them.  They can’t help but share.

Do we take our youth on retreats?  Of course.  Most recently, we got back from the Rhema Ranch in Oklahoma.  We spent five days there with one of the best communicators around.  His name is Josh Gresham and he was able to connect with the youth there in an amazing way.  What I witnessed there was phenomenal.  So much of what we have been working on, he was able to drive home.

The difference maker is that we don’t wait for a camp or retreat and make the minister do the work.  We plant, we cultivate, we fertilize, we weed the ground..we do our part.  Then we step back and allow someone to come through that sprays, waters and shines some sunlight.  We work together.  This is a perfect example of the following scripture in 1 Corinthians 3:6-8 (NLT)

I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.  It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.  The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose.   And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.

Just last night, we had our teens stand up and share what God had done for them, something He spoke to them or just simply something they got out of the time at camp.  In particular, there was a girl who brought her friend who had never been to our church.  After the night was over, I spoke with her friend and you could see the excitement on her face.  She quickly spoke up that she had a great time and was excited to come back again.  Why?  She tasted the fruit.

She heard and saw the passion, desire and love for God through people her age.  She saw, for what could have been the first time in her life, that there is a God.  That He is not some supreme being unable to be approached or reached.  That He is real and wants to connect with us.  That He loves us in a very real and tangible way.  That alone is what we all long for.

I believe the biggest reason the revival is happening and will continue to happen through teenagers is fear.  What I mean is the lack of fear.  Teens aren’t afraid to share their feelings.  They aren’t afraid to open up and share their dreams, desires, wants, needs, fears, hurts or scars.  We are.  We don’t want others to know we aren’t this perfect person that we make ourselves out to be.  That we struggle with sins or that we stumble and fall.  We don’t want others to see our pain, so we put on a happy face and bottle up everything else.  Teenagers don’t.

We think that they go to extreme measure to show their hurts, pains and fear.  How far will they go to show love, hope and healing from a God who loves them and is real to them?  It already is and will continue to go exceedingly, abundantly above all that we could think or imagine. 


Is there a place for disobedience?

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and for that I apologize.  I’ll get back to my “God is Good” at some point, but I wanted to share something a little different.

As the title of my post queries, it’s easy to answer with a resounding “NO!” to that.  However, I like to push the envelope when it comes to Christianity and our approach to it, so without further ado….

Going back a few years, a few thousand years, God said to Saul through the prophet Samuel in 1 Samuel 15:22 (GWT):

Then Samuel said, “Is the Lord as delighted with burnt offerings and sacrifices as he would be with your obedience?  To follow instructions is better than to sacrifice.  To obey is better than sacrificing the fat of rams.

As Christians we use that scripture quite often to drive home the point that God wants us to be obedient to Him.  Along with that, there are countless examples throughout the Old Testament of the punishment that came upon those who disobeyed.  The previous scripture was in direct reference to Saul’s disobedience and because of his acts, the kingdom was taken from him.

I should note here that I believe that all the punishment that would have normally come from the LORD, that we would deserve for our disobedience, God placed upon Jesus at the cross.  I believe God no longer punishes us for disobedience, but rather we suffer natural or man-made consequences when we disobey.  (Further explanation will be dealt with in another post).  Now, getting on with my original point…

Peter tells us in his first epistle, that we should “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors…”  Obviously meaning that we need to follow the laws set forth by our government.  Even when Jesus was questioned about taxes he said to “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s…”  He said something similar to Peter in Matthew 17:24-27.

We could go on and on about the important of obedience.  Even the increase of disobedient people are a sign of the end times.  Even the blessings and curses spelled out in Deuteronomy 28 are earmarked for either obedience or disobedience to God.  That should be the nail in the coffin to put to rest my question.  It’s not because it can’t be done.  I dare say there is a place for disobedience.

I humbly submit to you Acts chapter 5.  Go ahead.  Take the time and read it.  Please.  Here is my favorite part:

Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.  Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

BAM!  Peter, who tells us to obey our man-made laws says the opposite!  They directly, in no uncertain terms, disobeyed what the leaders told them!  An angel even broke them out of jail so they could!  Is that not enough?  Try the book of Daniel.  It boasts the accounts of four bold, courageous men of God that defied their “king”.  They even received supernatural protection for it!  Why?  Man made laws directly conflicted with commands from God and those men knew which was more important to obey.  Where have we, as Christians, gone wrong?

We are told we can’t pray in school.  We are told we can’t have the 10 Commandments posted publicly.  We are told many other things that we can’t do or say as Christians because it’s not “P.C.”…it might offend someone…we need to be respectful of other religions…on and on and on.  What do we do?  We obey.  We stop doing and saying things that need to be said and done.  We act like we “ought to obey men rather than God.”  Wrong!

We have become complacent.  We have become passive.  We allowed ungodly people to dictate how we should act as children of God, and sometimes children of God need to disobey.

I am not advocating riotous behavior in any way.  Daniel didn’t go running amuck through the streets praying at the top of his lungs.  He simply just did not change what he normally did.  He prayed just as he did time and time before that.  Neither did Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (better known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) change how they would normally respond to false gods.  These men simply didn’t bow down to the pressure and compromise their integrity towards the LORD.

That’s really what I’m talking about.  It’s more about an unwavering obedience to God.  Really, it’s disobedience by default.  It’s not about looking for a way to act rebellious or anything like that.  It’s simply standing our ground.

Think about Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  They knew the consequences of their disobedience to the law.  They knew what it would cost them.  However, their obedience to God overrode any fear of backlash.  They chose to burn for God rather than bow to the world.  As a result, they witnessed first hand the supernatural protection of God and so did the king.  What those men did changed a nation.  How?  By obeying God rather than men.


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