Tag Archives: truth

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.


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?

Will The Real Jesus Please Stand Up? – Pt. 2

Although I diverted a few times since I introduced this topic, I decided it was time to revisit it.  I introduced a subject I’ve been wanting to talk about is who Jesus really was.  Not who we “think” he was or who people make Him out to be, but who the Jesus of the Bible was and what He actually did and said.  I personally use this approach for everything I believe and teach.  If there’s something I believe and it doesn’t line up with the Bible, then I must be wrong.  You shouldn’t lower the Bible to match what you believe or have experienced, nor base what you believe on what someone else has experience..  We must believe God to raise our experiences to match the Bible.

Maybe this should be a separate topic, but I think there’s something that needs to be established before we really hit this hard.  The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, also known as the Gospels, were all written after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven.  However, those books were recording accounts BEFORE Jesus died, rose and ascended.  What I mean is that we often read the words and works of Jesus as if they were New Testament things.  They weren’t!  Jesus lived under the Old Testament law, spoke in regards to Old Testament promises, yet at the same time revealed things that were going to change as a result of his pending death and resurrection.  With those thoughts in mind, we really need to be careful of how we interpret what Jesus spoke.  Not all of what Jesus said is applicable to Christians today.  Yes, I just said not everything Jesus said should be applied to us today.

Now, before you call me the anit-Christ, you really need to re-read what I just got done explaining.  Jesus spoke as one under the “law”, the old covenant, that was based on performance.  We are under a different covenant that is based upon grace – the finished work of Jesus.  Once Jesus had died, rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, the new covenant was then in effect, negating the old covenant or the “law” as many call it.  That being stated, if we are no longer under that covenant, then things spoke up under that convent are not necessarily applicable to us who are under a DIFFERENT covenant.  Can we glean truth, instruction, correction and guidance from things spoke under the Old Convenant?  Of course, and we should.  We just have to be careful not to apply certain things to our lives since we are not living under the same laws.  Clear as mud?  I’ll probably elaborate on that in the near future, but I really need to get back to the topic at hand.

One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to a world view of Jesus, is that people will try to say that Jesus preached “love and acceptance”.  OK, let me rant here for just a minute.  We really need to watch out for and correct those who claim to know what Jesus taught, yet they never step foot in a church or have read a Bible consistently.  How could you possible know who Jesus was or what he talked about if you’ve never met him?  Simple…you can’t.  So suffice it to say, Jesus never preached love and acceptance.

Matthew 4:17          •Matthew 4:23          •Matthew 9:35          •Mark 1:14-15          •Luke 5:31-32          •Luke 24:46-47

So after reading those scriptures, would you say Jesus preached love and acceptance?  No, and those were just a few examples.  In fact, out of 154 times the word Kingdom is used in the New Testament, 121 of those times it appears in the Gospels.  The vast majority of those times Jesus is referring to the Kingdom of Heaven typically in a parable.  Why were these issues so prevalent in his teachings?  Glad you asked…

The first time that Jesus is recorded using the word “repent” is in Matthew 4:17.  In the Greek, it simply means to “change one’s mind”.  In other words, Jesus said, “Change your way of thinking because the Kingdom of Heaven has come to join you.”  For thousands of years, Israel had thought a certain way.  They had been trained to think about the Kingdom in a particular manner, in a literal sense.  That the Messiah was going come and establish the Kingdom literally and overthrow the Roman government.  Jesus came to tell them they were wrong.  How they had interpreted things were wrong.  That wasn’t very popular at the time.  In fact, it’s not popular now…to tell people how they have been thinking is wrong will not win you any friends in this day and age; especially if we talked to them how Jesus talked to some of the most “religious” leader of his day.  He branded those leaders as “hypocrites” and he said the were like white-washed graves that appeared nice on the outside, but inside were full of decay and deceit.  He said they were the blind leading blind and they both would fall into a pit.  Needless to say, Jesus was not pleased how the “leaders” of his day were representing the Kingdom.  All the more important for Jesus to introduce a new way to think about Kingdom.  (I cannot do it justice here or can I do as it as thorough as necessary, so I would encourage you to look into the book series that Miles Munroe has written that called Kingdom Principles and others titled similar to it.)

People will also use the incident with the woman caught in the act of adultery as an example of Jesus accepting people and probably to justify themselves in what they are doing wrong.  I wouldn’t say that he accepted her for who she was, but rather didn’t condemn her for who she was or what she had done.  Even when Jesus sent her away, he specifically said to her, “Go and sin no more.”  He in no way shape or form approved or accepted her lifestyle.  In fact the opposite was true: he told here to stop doing it.  Those who are living a sinful lifestyle today will do so under the guise that Jesus is OK with how they choose to live and who they choose to love.  He is most certainly not.  In fact, he would do today as he did back then…tell them to stop.  Would he condemn them?  No.  Should we?  No.  However at the same time, we don’t have to accept what they do as right and if we are branded as bigots or anything else they choose to brand us, then we are in good company because if they call us a bigot then they are calling Jesus a bigot.

How about the this incident in John 5:1-14?  Did he seriously just say what I think he said?  Oh, no he didn’t!  Oh, yes he did!  He basically told that man, his infirmity was a result of his sinning and if he continued to do so, he would suffer something worse.  Can you imagine the backlash if we told someone with some type of debilitating disease that it was their sin that caused it?  I really think they might legalize stoning for that!  Yet, I’m supposed to believe Jesus preached love and acceptance?  I NEVER read Jesus telling anyone to “do what makes them happy” or any type coddling response to peoples sin.

Jesus did not accept sinful lifestyles.  Did he love those who sinned?  Absolutely.  Was he OK with their lifestyles?  No.  Should we love those who sin?  Absolutely.  Should we be OK with those lifestyles?  No, nor do we have to accept other people’s or “society’s” standard of what is right and wrong.  We have an absolute standard from the Word of God and that’s the one I’ll accept even if it’s inconvenient.  At the same time, it does not absolve us of our duties to love others as Jesus did.  Jesus never shoved his finger in someone’s face and spewed “SINNER!” all over them.  He did, however, correct those that were in need of correction and said what needed to be said regardless of who it would offend.

Don’t accept anyone version of Jesus if it does not line up with only true one.




Will The Real Jesus Please Stand Up? – Pt. 1

Yes, once again, it’s time for a series.  I think it’s nearly impossible to coverany particular topic in one post, yet at the same time too much can be a bad thing as well.  What I mean is overload.  Take general college classes for example, of which I am taking a few.  I can only read in one text-book on one subject for so long before I have to change my focus.  I think the same thing is true when it comes to blog posts.  Yes, I did six posts on speaking in tongues, but that didn’t nearly cover everything there is to say on that topic, nor am I completely finished.  It was enough to chew on for now and now it’s time to chew on something different.

There is a big misconception amongst Christians and non-Christians alike as to who Jesus was, along with what he actually did and taught.   There is a very skewed perception on Jesus that needs to be straightened out.  Let’s not look at my opinion or anyone else’s.  I think it’s time to actually look at the definitive source for all things Jesus…THE BIBLE!

There are a lot of things that people claim Jesus did that’s not in the Bible.  There’s a lot of misquotation surrounding what He said.  Much of what people get right when they quote Him is taken out of context.  Call me picky, but if I’m going to affirm or rebuke someone or myself, I want to make sure I have the correct scriptures taken in the right context to back me up.  Although there is a TON of scriptures that are misused and abused, I’m going to focus specifically on Jesus for now.

You see, the world (and many Christians) want to make Jesus out to be someone He wasn’t.  They want to make Him out to be someone who fits their lifestyles and choices.  They tailor Him to meet whatever they need Him to be so they can tell Christians that we need to be more like Him.  They are right about one thing.  We need to be more like Jesus.  We just need to be more like the REAL Jesus.

Christians are doing the same.  They are changing who He was to fit their agendas.  We so easily neglect that many of the people Jesus rebuked were the most religious people of His time.  We can’t pick and choose who we make Jesus out to be.  He is who He was and the Bible is very clear on that.  We can’t make Jesus to be someone He wasn’t.  Well, I guess we can if we so choose, but to do so would be an affront to the LORD.

Just so I’m clear, I will be pointing the finger at “sinner” and “saint” alike.  In fact for that reason, I’ll be pointing the finger at us first.  After all, He did say to take the beam out of our own eye before trying to remove the spec from our brother’s eye.  Yes, that was taken in context.

Well, this turned out to be more of an introduction than anything.  At least for those of you who read, you’ll know what’s coming up.  I do invite comments if there’s anything in particular that you feel has been an area where Jesus has been misrepresented.  It’s time for the real Jesus to be known.

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.

Rightly Dividing the Bible

It’s a hard thing to say that there is one scripture over another that is more profound than another.  However, I think that 2 Timothy 2:15 has a phrase in it that really stands out.  This is the Amplified Version:

Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.

The second part, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing, is well put.  The King James Version says “rightly dividing the word of Truth“.  I think it’s safe to say that Paul was referring to the Scriptures and correctly interpreting them.

There are many different translations of the Bible and each translation has an infinite amount interpretations.  I say infinite, because as many people who read the Bible will interpret it slightly different.  I don’t think anyone attends a church that precisely interprets the Bible the way they believe.  I know mine doesn’t.  Not to say that my church is theologically incorrect by any means, however, there are some things that I interpret slightly different.  By all general sense, where I attend most closely lines up with my personal beliefs about God, the Bible, etc and that’s probably true for a vast majority of those who attend a church.

So how are we as Christians, or anyone else for that matter, supposed to interpret the Bible?  Literally?  Seriously? Figuratively?

If we take it literally, watch out.  Christians will be walking around missing limbs and looking like pirates.  Seriously.  Jesus said if your eye or hand causes you to sin, pluck it out or cut it off.  Yikes.  I didn’t realize Jesus endorsed masochism…or cannibalism.

If we don’t take it literally, then we get to throw out all those other things pesky things, like “love your neighbor“, “love each other“, “don’t commit adultery”, “don’t lie”…Wait, we probably should take those literally, although there are many who don’t anyway.

It’s probably pretty obvious that there are parts to be taken literally and parts that shouldn’t be.  It should just as obvious that the parts you shouldn’t take literally, should probably be taken seriously or figuratively.  Take the above example of Jesus telling us to pluck out our eye.  He didn’t mean to literally pluck it out if you look lustfully on someone, but it is a mandate on the seriousness of sin and the severity of how it should deal with it.

For example, if you have an addiction to alcohol, then quit going to the bar.  Don’t go to the grocery store alone.  Let someone come in and inventory your cabinets daily if necessary.  Get treatment, see a counselor.  Do what it takes, even if it’s hard or painful, because the consequences of giving in to our weaknesses are far greater than the temporary pleasure derived from indulgence.

Honestly, I don’t think the question should necessarily be howto take the Bible.  It’s obvious it should be taken all three ways.  The question is which parts should be taken literally, seriously or figuratively.  There in lies root of division amongst the churches.

There also in lies one of the main reasons I started this blog.  I don’t have it all figured out, but I’m on my way.  I’m on a quest for truth.  You can have all the facts you want.  You can get all the opinions you want.  You can have all the knowledge you think you need, but in the end, truth triumphs over fact.  Truth triumphs over opinion.  Truth triumphs over knowledge.

The Bible is truth.  Truth for everyday living, truth for the nations, truth that never changes in the face of adversity…if we rightly divide it.  In the end, truth wins.

Is God good? Part 1 – Taste and See

I really believe this is the first question that needs to be answered.  Is God a good God?  Is the LORD (Yahweh), the creator of Heaven and Earth, a good God?

When I think about that question myself, there is a scripture that always comes to mind.  Psalm 34:8 in the KJV reads:

O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

When I think about that first part, “O taste and see”, my mind immediately gravitates towards food.  Say you had someone over for dinner and you fixed them something they’d never had before.  As they are sitting at the table, you place some on their plate and they kind of scrunch their nose at it.  “It smells OK,” they say.  “But I don’t think I’ll like it.”  So you ask them, “Have you ever tried it before?”  They slowly shake their head “no”.  So you proceed to tell them, “O taste and see that the venison casserole is good!”  OK, so maybe you don’t word it exactly like that, but you get my point.  You want them to try it, so you tell them to taste it.

Haven’t we all been there?  On the verge of something we’ve never tried before and we find those who have “been there done that” try to convince us that if we’ll just try it, we’ll like it.  I think that’s what David was trying to say to people who may not have encountered God before.  “Come on.  Just give Him a try.  I promise you’ll like Him, ” David exclaims.  Once you get a taste of what God has for you, you’ll want more.

The second part of that verse reads, “blessed is the man that trusts in him”.  Blessed is the person who trusts in the Lord.  Simple enough.  If you click the link, it brings up the Amplified Version.  It brings out “happy, fortunate and to be envied”.  Read that again.  Now replace blessed with each word.  Happy is the person that trusts in the Lord.  Fortunate is the person who trusts in the Lord.  To be envied is the person who trusts in the Lord.  That last one almost had a Yoda ring to it.

So with this one scripture, David is telling us that if we give the Lord a taste, we’ll see he’s good and if we trust in Him, people will envy us.  Am I stretching anything here?  I think not.  If we stopped with that verse, then we’ve just answered the question.  God is good.  That was easy.  Too easy.  Way too easy.  In fact, I just weaseled my way out of really answering the question.  Sorry to admit, but that seems to be the Christian way out anymore.  Throw a scripture in your face like a smoke bomb and before the fog clears, we’ve ninja rolled out of the conversation.

Please don’t misunderstand me.  I believe that verse.  I really, really do, but try to tell that to someone who’s been told God killed their baby.  Tell that scripture to someone that’s been told God will put cancer on you to teach you something.  Tell that to a child that was just told God needed their mommy or daddy more than they did so that’s why God took them.  Go ahead. I sure hope you have quick reflexes because you’re about to get punched in the mouth.

Happy?  That’s how I’m supposed to feel about God giving my grandma cancer?  Fortunate?  That’s how I’m supposed to feel about God killing my uncle?  People are going to envy me because of those things?  That’s how life will go if I trust in the LORD?  Suddenly that scripture doesn’t make any sense.

I was in fact referencing things that have happened in my life.  My grandma died of cancer.  My uncle was tragically and violently killed.  Do I believe God did those things?  No.  I believe God is good.  I don’t understand why people would envy those who serve a God who does things like that.  They wouldn’t.  In fact, I wouldn’t serve a God who did those things either.  However, there are millions of people who would argue with me.  They would argue that God did those things, and you just never know and God works in mysterious ways and every thing happens for a reason and blah, blah, blah.  I’m sorry, but those are just exercises in futility.  Those are blanket reasonings that people use to appropriate blame when they don’t understand something.  They can’t just say “I don’t know why that happened” and be done with it.  They feel they have to give you a reason.  Why?  We demand one.  We want to know why.  So if who you are asking doesn’t know, you get one of the aforementioned reasons to pacify you.  I know that sounds harsh, but it’s true.  I was there once.

My uncle was tragically killed in a motorcycle wreck.  He was hit head on by a man driving a full size conversion van.  It was obviously not an open casket funeral.  In an attempt to understand the sometimes un-understandable, my girlfriend (it’s important to note here that neither one of us was serving God at the time and I’m sure the only scripture we could quote was John 3:16 which anyone could quote), attempted to console my grief with an answer of God needed him in heaven.

Really?  God, the almighty, the Alpha and Omega, creator of Heaven and Earth needed my uncle in Heaven. For what?  Do they have a hose manufacturing plant in Heaven that was poorly staffed and God, knowing my uncle was qualified for the position, promoted him?  OK, so that wasn’t my exact thought at the time, but honestly, that would have made more sense.  I’m not nor was I angry with her for telling me what she did.  She didn’t know any better at the time and neither did I.  She just wanted to make me feel better.  Unfortunately in our quest for comfort, we’ll take hold of anything we can.  Grief is powerful.  Grief will drive us to conclusions that may or may not be true just so we can begin to feel some relief from the pain.

My heart breaks when that happens because the one who is the giver of life, the one who can bring healing, is the one who gets the blame.  The anger.  The hate.  The rage.  If left unchecked or unchallenged, He eventually gets the rejection.  Why serve a God who did such a thing?  I’m here to tell you my friend, He didn’t.  He didn’t do what ever tragic unexplainable thing that happened to you or to someone you know and love.  God is good and He passionately desires to show you His goodness.

To be continued…

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