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Plenty has recently been said about The Shack, however for those still desirous of defending its message and meaning, please carefully and biblically consider what the author actually believes about the Bible, humanity, repentance, and God’s forgiveness found in Jesus Christ alone. 

A Reminder- As Christians, we must never be ignorant of deception and its destructive devices. (2 Corinthians 2:11) Very few lies, especially when designed to infiltrate the truth, immediately expose their true desires. Instead, much like a Trojan horse, they often mask their actual intentions by wrapping themselves in fragments of the truth. Once being brought in, they quickly plant seeds of doubt, deception, and distrust all designed to direct people outside the safe and stalwart walls of the truth, leading them, ultimately to destruction. 

Lest we forget, Satan infiltrated the perfect, original garden, subtly planting deceptive seeds in the heart and mind of Eve. (2 Corinthians 11:3) He had (and continues to have) one clear outcome broken into three basic steps- Doubt, Deception, and finally, Destruction. 

Arguably, Young has accomplished Step 1, successfully entering the Christian world by means of The Shack. His newest book, Lies We Believe About God, clearly launches readers headlong into Step 2. 

(Excerpts below are directly from Lies We Believe About God)

W. Paul Young on the condition of man-

“Many of us believe that God sees us all as failures, wretches who are utterly depraved.”

“Yes, we have crippled eyes, but not a core of un-goodness. We are true and right, but often ignorant and stupid, acting out of the pain of our wrongheadedness, hurting ourselves, others, and even all creation. Blind, not depraved is our condition.” (Chapter 2)

God’s Word on the condition of man- 

Romans 7:18– “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”

Romans 7:24– “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

W. Paul Young on Salvation and The Gospel-

“So what is the Good News? What is the Gospel?”

“The Good News is not that Jesus has opened up the possibility of salvation and you have been invited to receive Jesus into your life. The Gospel is that Jesus has already included you into His life, into His relationship with God the Father, and into His anointing in the Holy Spirit. The Good News is that Jesus did this without your vote, and whether you believe it or not won’t make it any less or more true.”

“God does not wait for my choice and then “save me.” God has acted decisively and universally for all humankind. Now our daily choice is to either grow and participate in that reality or continue to live in the blindness of our own independence.”

“Are you suggesting that everyone is saved? That you believe in universal salvation? That is exactly what I am saying!”

“Here’s the truth: every person who has ever been conceived was included in the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. When Jesus was lifted up, God “dragged” all human beings to Himself (John 12: 32). Jesus is the Savior of all humankind, especially believers (1 Timothy 4: 10). Further, every single human being is in Christ (John 1: 3), and Christ is in them, and Christ is in the Father (John 14: 20). When Christ—the Creator in whom the cosmos was created—died, we all died. When Christ rose, we rose (2 Corinthians 5).” (Chapter 13)

God’s Word on Salvation and The Gospel-

Jesus Christ- “I am the light of the world: he that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12

Jesus Christ- “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

 Jesus Christ-  “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by Me.” John 14:6

Revelation 20:15– “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

May we always carefully and biblically consider what lies beneath the surface of everything we read, watch, and listen to, especially as they relate to the Only True and Living God, His holy and sanctifying Word, and His salvation found solely in Jesus Christ.

“Then said Jesus to those… which believed on Him, If you continue in My word, then are you My disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32

Calvinism would say being spiritually dead means we are completely unable, like a dead body, to respond, even to the Gospel of God (Colossians 2:13), but is this conclusion actually found in the Bible?

Unfortunately, this line of reasoning is often used on biblically novice, non-Calvinists as a stepping stone into “reformed” theology. They will typically point to Jesus raising Lazarus as the prime example. (John 11:43) The argument goes something like this- Lazarus couldn’t hear Jesus because He was dead, rotting in a tomb, just like we are dead in our sins, therefore we cannot even hear God calling. And if we cannot hear God at any level, because of our deadness, then the conclusion is that God must need to first raise us from the dead for us to respond to His voice. This is the T for Total Depravity in the Calvinist acronym T.U.L.I.P. This then opens the door to the U-Unconditional Election, the L-Limited Atonement, and the I-Irresistible Grace.

At that point, many believers simply throw in the towel and begin to at least remain open, soft, and silent to Calvinism. Sadly, many have even been won over through the deadness of sin argument. But, in truth, the Lazarus argument is one developed through walking by sight, not by faith.(2 Corinthians 5:7) Deadness does not mean complete deafness.

By sight, it may appear correct to say Lazarus was dead and unable to hear the Lord, however Lazarus wasn’t dead, he was simply separated from his body. Lazarus wasn’t rotting in that tomb. His visible, physical body was. It wasn’t Lazarus who couldn’t hear and respond to Jesus, it was his body that was unable to receive soundwaves. 

Biblically speaking, death is not simply an animated, physical creature becoming permanently inanimate. Death is separation. Adam and Eve died the day they ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, yet they lived for many centuries beyond that day. But the day they sinned they surely died. That is to say, they were separated from God in the spiritual sense. (Genesis 2:16-17)

When Lazarus died, he was separated from his body. When Jesus called to him, it wasn’t his physical, visible rotting corpse He was calling to. It was the Lazarus who was separated from his body four days prior and was arguably in “Abraham’s Bosom” with the other Old Testament saints.  Lazarus had bodily listened to Jesus speak many times before and most likely, like Mary and Martha, had already believed Jesus was the salvation of sinners. So the attempt to use Lazarus being called from the tomb as a biblical reason to believe in the Calvinist misinterpretation of deadness is frankly out of place.

Equating spiritual death with inability to respond to the Lord’s Gospel is specious at best and deceptively destructive at worst. Apart from the Spirit we most certainly cannot know the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10-14), however, there are no Scriptures that teach man’s inability to at least hear and respond to the glorious Gospel. 

After all, the Gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). God does not save us so that we can then hear and respond to the Gospel. We all must first hear and respond (believe by faith) to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ in order to be saved. 

“If you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. 

For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, Whosoever believes on Him shall not be ashamed. 

For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. 

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? 

And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? 

As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:9-15

God-Write-the-Bible“I have even from the beginning declared to you; before it came to pass I shewed it to you: lest you should say, My idol has done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, has commanded them.” Isaiah 48:5

“Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, you may believe that I am.” John 13:29

Jesus came exactly when He said He would.  He came in the “Fullness of time”, just at the right time.  Jesus, who is God, knows the end from the beginning and has told us the things that will happen before they happen so that when they happen, we will know that He truly is the Son of God.

God used prophets to give clues about the: who and what and where and when and why ,concerning the Messiah, the Chosen One, that people were to be using to look for Him.  People were to be looking for the Messiah, the Chosen One, that was to come and save them from their sins.  The prophets were given these clues to speak and write down hundreds and sometimes even thousands of years before Jesus was ever born on earth as a man, never stopping being God.

These clues or prophecies are what make the Bible separate or totally different than any other religious book or book written by people in the entire world.  God’s word is in a category all of its own.  That would make sense if there is only one God: one God, one book.  God’s clues, spoken by His prophets were to be searched and the people should have been longing for, wanting the Messiah to come.

This is what Christmas is all about!  God’s promise finally happened.  Emmanuel, God with us, was born into the world and was named Jesus which means “Jehovah or YHWH or I AM, is salvation.”  There is no other Savior than God Himself.  Christmas was God’s word, His promise, becoming flesh.  Jesus is the Word of God in the flesh.  Christmas is what proved that God’s promise really did happen and because this promise of Jesus happened along with many other prophecies given by God, we know we can trust Him in His word for those things that have not happened yet.

He came once and people were to be watching, and He promised that He would come again to bring His children to where the Father is, in heaven and then finally return for good as the ruling King over this earth.  Be watching.  Don’t be like those who didn’t watch for His first coming, but be paying attention, looking forward to the King who is coming again.

“I the LORD have called you in righteousness, and will hold you hand, and will keep you, and give you for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. I am the LORD: that is My name: and My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images. Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.” Isaiah 42:6-9 

It’s often said and sung that this is the most wonderful time of the year, but why? Is it because, as a nation, so many rejoice in the True and Living God’s provision and protection over the last four hundreds years? Is it because so many have turned from their pride and gratefully embraced the goodness of God’s forgiveness brought to light by the true Christmas story? Or is the “wonderful” claim based more on the annual traditions and childhood memories tugging the flesh in hopes of recreating a time and feeling long since passed? 

Too often the real meaning of this time of year is veiled and even replaced by the sights and smells of the physical. Much of these outward accoutrements tend to build deep, emotional connections, establishing memories which are held onto for years to come. These emotionally based memories are what we call nostalgia. Obviously there’s nothing wrong with enjoying good food and activities with family and fondly remembering time spent with friends and loved ones. But should these nostalgic notions be the light that directs our hearts? 

Interestingly, even though this is promoted as such a wonderful time of year, for many, it’s actually filled with sadness and frustration. Perhaps this is, at least in part, for the same reason so many call it wonderful… Nostalgia

Jesus reminds us that we weren’t made to walk by sight (being moved and motivated by the smells, sights, and sounds of this world), but by faith (spiritual trust in and heartfelt obedience to our glorious Savior and Lord) (2 Corinthians 5:7). Unfortunately, while this time of year can be an excellent reminder of our Wonderful God and Savior, Jesus Christ, it’s also a time that tends to prop up the old man, steadily stirring our earthly emotions and pulling on fickle and fleshly feelings. And it starts at a very young age. 

Nostalgia is really no friend to the Spirit-filled, born again believer anymore than the flesh is to us. May we hold lightly to this world and tightly to the Word. Let us keep in step with our Savior and Lord, not our fleshly feelings and fading memories. Perhaps, then we will truly understand the abundance of the life Jesus promises His children, never forgetting, the most wonderful time is yet to come. 

“Now He that has wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also has given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:5-8

“For, brethren, you have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; you shall love your neighbour as yourself. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:13,14,16,24-25

“But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:10-13

Most treasure that’s hidden is never then openly and freely given away. Treasure maps weren’t reproduced for the masses, but only for a select few. However, the Lord’s economy is completely contrary to the selfish, prideful heart of man and praise God for that! 

The Word of God, both written and living, is our complete and sufficient treasure. And although we must hide God’s Word in our hearts, we then are compelled by the Spirit of God to freely give it all away. Why? Two reasons come to mind. 

First, it is because of the God of love Who now resides within born again believers. Love is not selfish. The Lord compels and convicts us to open our hearts and fully share that which was fully shared with us. Once hidden in our hearts, the Word of God grows the peaceable fruit of righteousness, renewing and transforming our hearts and minds to think as the Lord thinks and to love as the Lord loves. We simply begin to desire that which our wonderful Savior and Lord desires. It really is more blessed to give than to receive!

Secondly, we understand our treasure never ends. God’s Word is not like a limited chest full of gold and silver. No, it’s a limitless, flowing stream of living water that flows from His throne. We never have to worry about running out… EVER! God’s Word is an endless supply of eternal and untarnished treasure. In fact, the more we give away, the more we receive. Truly, there is no treasure that can compare!

“Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Psalm 119:11

“I have not hid Your righteousness within my heart; I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation: I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great congregation. Withhold not Your tender mercies from me, O LORD: let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me.” Psalm 40:10-11

Pokémon Go- Where is it Taking You?

untitledThe new Pokémon app- Pokémon Go has truly captured the hearts and minds of millions across the globe. Launched in the US on July 6, 2016, the Pokémon Go app has quickly become a full-fledged phenomenon. In case you’re not familiar with Pokémon Go, you can click “HERE” to read Wikipedia’s explanation. Some news websites claim it is currently the most repeatedly frequented app throughout the day, more so than Facebook or Instagram. According to at least one site, Nintendo’s stock went up 30% upon its release. Many are already speculating as to its wild and rapid popularity. Some suggest nostalgia along with the general escapist mentality flooding today’s society have combined to make an almost perfect breeding ground for Nintendo’s first augmented reality game.

Although augmented reality is not a new concept for today’s culture, Pokémon Go has definitely captivated the imagination of the masses and undoubtedly opened the flood gates for many more games to come. Clearly, there’s a place for careful and biblical examination and discussion of the challenges of embracing technology which allows people to mentally and emotionally escape while still feeling somewhat physically connected to the real world. This article, however, will not be that platform. This post will mainly address a third area of escape; one I believe is even deeper than anything emotional or mental. This area is the spiritual component and it is this author’s conclusion that the spiritual component is truly the heart of the matter.

There are plenty of physical concerns already being reported as well. For example, two men died in Southern California Thursday by falling off a bluff while trying to capture digital Pokémon creatures. Two men were rescued the day before after falling 50-100 feet off a crumbling sandstone bluff. One of the men was found unconscious by the fire fighters who saved them. Other people have been robbed, found wandering into traffic and straying into dangerous locations, at least one person was stabbed, and the stories continue to roll in.

Most articles I found claim Pokémon Go is a good thing because it gets people outside and exercising (mostly walking). It also helps players explore some of their local and historic landmarks. There’s even been one recent report of someone playing the game who witnessed a child pass out from heat exhaustion after being bullied by two boys. The article concludes if it weren’t for playing the game, that child may have never been rescued. Understandably, there have been some practical benefits, but those of us who have been born again by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ are no longer pragmatic in our beliefs and practices. Pragmatism says if it works, then do it. But born again believers should not hold to this philosophy. We should exclusively cling to God’s Word and often God’s Word does not “work” in this dark and dying world. Even though we still fall to the flesh, we don’t run to the world and its vain ideas for the answers. Born again believers are being sanctified and growing day by day by the power and Word of God. No, we are not practically perfect or completely mature yet, but our desire should be nothing less. Our heart should always recognize that Jesus plus nothing equals everything. And when it comes to things like games, video games, movies, and entertainment, it should be no different.

Arguably, our world has undeniably and unashamedly become completely infatuated with pleasure and amusement, ever increasingly blurring the lines between what’s real and make believe. And arguably this same desire has infected much of today’s church. We all desperately need a strong, daily dose of God’s Word and self-denial, no matter how long we’ve been Christians. The lusts and pride of this world will always pull on the old man, causing us to lose sight of eternity. Sadly, many do not seem to notice how many are being caught up in the wake of this world’s folly.

Yes, Pokémon is just one of many of today’s entertainments vying for our attention and adoration, but hopefully by briefly examining its methods and message, readers might grow in their understanding and discernment, helping them correctly weigh out other avenues of today’s amusement as well.

The Heart of the Matter is Spiritual

Spiritually speaking, there are three dangerous deceptions specific to Pokémon and its underlying message briefly examined below. (Note: There are several other issues worth investigating, but for the sake of brevity, this article includes only a few of the main concerns.)  

First, consider the pattern of Pokémon. The pattern is essentially for each trainer to catch as many Pokémon (which incidentally comes from two words: “Pocket” and “Monster”) as possible. “Gotta Catch Em All” is the slogan oft repeated in Pokémon. To catch the creatures which live in an alternate Pokémon universe/reality, the owner must have one of his monsters battle the monster he seeks to capture. If the monster he possesses defeats the “wild” one, the trainer gets to keep it. This makes the winning monster and trainer more powerful and eventually the trainer can become a master.  This pattern is the same basic one practiced within much of the occult throughout time. In the occult, much time is devoted to capturing both spirits and knowledge to help one ascend to higher levels. Here some might argue that none of this was the intent of Pokémon’s inventor, Satoshi Tajiri. Frankly, it’s irrelevant what the inventor of Pokémon says was his inspiration. The spirit world has its own doctrines and is happy to disseminate its false teachings and practices through any and all means available, regardless of the spiritually-blinded human host’s intended inspiration.

Secondly, consider its message of evolution. Evolution was taught and embraced way before Charles Darwin or Charles Lyell attempted to sanitize and popularize it by falsely calling it science. Evolution has been the foundation for ALL spiritual mysticism and occultism since Satan introduced his lie to Adam and Eve in the Garden. After all, how can a human become a god without evolution? Pokémon undeniably depends on evolution. Each creature can evolve, making it more powerful than before. This, of course, is essential if the owner/trainer is to win more battles and collect more and more monsters. At one point, Wizards.com explained it this way, But what is a Pokémon, you ask. ‘Pokémon are incredible creatures that share the world with humans,’ says Professor Oak, the leading authority on these monster. ‘There are currently 150 documented species of Pokémon. . . . Each Pokémon has its own special fighting abilities. . . . Some grow, or evolve, into even more powerful creatures.. . . Carry your Pokémon with you, and you’re ready for anything! You’ve got the power in your hands, so use it!’” 

On Wikipedia’s Pokémon site, it says,If a Pokémon fully defeats an opponent in battle so that the opponent is knocked out (i.e., “faints”), the winning Pokémon gains experience points and may level up. When leveling up, the Pokémon’s statistics (“stats”) of battling aptitude increase, such as Attack and Speed. From time to time the Pokémon may also learn new moves, which are techniques used in battle. In addition, many species of Pokémon can undergo a form of metamorphosis and transform into a similar but stronger species of Pokémon, a process called evolution.” [Emphasis added.]

Lastly, consider its message of witchcraft. Most of the monsters in Pokémon are essentially categorized into the same four basic elements embraced in witchcraft and the occult: Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire. Also consider this basic explanation from Wikipedia’s Pokémon site, In most incarnations of the fictional Pokémon universe, a Trainer that encounters a wild Pokémon is able to capture that Pokémon by throwing a specially designed, mass-producible spherical tool called a Poké Ball at it. If the Pokémon is unable to escape the confines of the Poké Ball, it is officially considered to be under the ownership of that Trainer. Afterwards, it will obey whatever its new master commands, unless the Trainer demonstrates such a lack of experience that the Pokémon would rather act on its own accord.” [Emphasis added.] The same is readily understood in shamanism and new age/occult practices. In occultism, those seeking to tap into the “spirit world” are repeatedly warned not to take it lightly because spirits can recognize one’s power or lack thereof and choose whether or not they will be subject to that practitioner (at least for a time).

The ultimate focus is not merely on training and collecting pocket monsters with the intent of making them become more powerful. The major goal is to skillfully use your evolving monsters to assist in making you the most powerful person in the entire world/universe. Attaining power through subjected, spiritual monsters for the goal of ultimate ascension is the actual message of Pokémon. The intro song to the Pokémon show starts out with, “I will travel across the land, searching far and wide, Each Pokémon to understand the power that’s inside. Gotta catch them all!”  Witchcraft/ occultism is essentially focused on using the physical world to assist in attaining spiritual power and so it is with Pokémon.

What does God’s Word say about witchcraft and practicing magic? “There shall not be found among you any one that makes his son or daughter to pass through the fire, or that uses divination, or observer of times, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.  For all these things are an abomination unto the Lord…” Deuteronomy 18:10-14

“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft…” 1 Samuel 15:23a

This article is not meant to be extensive or exhaustive, but hopefully encourages the saints to keep from getting caught up in escapism, nostalgia, or blindly following steps that might lead to spiritual deception. I completely understand that most kids and adults, regardless of whether or not they’re Christian, are not playing Pokémon to intentionally practice sorcery or get in touch with demons. (Although some do.) But we must understand that our intentions do not negate the dangerous and deceptive inventions devised by the enemy of our souls. Even thistle seeds appear small and quite harmless until they take root and begin to grow. Satan knows this. His goal is to keep us shortsighted and completely fixated on our feelings and flesh.

***For more details on specific Pokémon creatures and some of their deceptive and dangerous Shintoist/Buddhist and mystical characteristics, go to this very well researched article:

A Christian’s Mission: ‘Gotta Know, Gotta Learn, Gotta Discern, Gotta Go!’ into the Pokemon World with Truth

Remember, to play Pokémon correctly, children need to not only know, but understand the “power” inside each Pocket Monster. (Note: After 20 years, there are now over 750 of these creatures!) What are some of the powers involved? How about the power of hypnosis, the power of catching and destroying dreams (eating dreams), casting evil spells (hexes), levitation, and incantations. Some of the other practices well recognized and understood in Pokémon culture – The power of the aura, spiritual evolution, eastern meditation, and even the practice of yoga. These are just a few of the spiritual philosophies and practices taught in this “game”.

Where will you “GO”?  

Games like Pokémon are designed to take their followers somewhere. They have seeds, seeds which once allowed to take root in our hearts and minds, can potentially have long-lasting and very ill effects. If fed and watered, they will grow into weeds that can consistently rob us of the true Light and Food necessary for our spirit to grow closer to our precious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. There is a very real danger of being led away from the Lord. 

Perhaps you disagree. Or perhaps you believe this to be such a minor concern that it’s not worth examining any further. But before you simply dismiss this as unimportant or foolishness, please prayerfully go the Lord and search His Word to see if these things be so. I would also recommend the articles below. This world is only temporal, but while we’re here, we must recognize there are many things beyond this physical universe that seek to draw us away from our marvelous Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ!

May we sincerely seek the only One who bought us with His blood, loving and serving Jesus with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength each and every day! That’s where the Lord wants to take us! May we be willing to go His way, not our own!

“Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” John 1:1-3, 5

“Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” 2 Corinthians 2:11

“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” 1 John 2:16-17

Jesus said, “Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in Me.” John 15:3-4

 

A Few Other Helpful Links:

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So often the Heavenly Father is thought of as menacing and distant… uncaring and harsh… irrational and inconsistent, but nothing could be further from the truth. “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

Many have perhaps unwittingly used their poor fatherly examples as a way to keep from really learning the truth about the Lord. Others have chosen to use their earthly fathers as an excuse for not drawing near to Jesus. May it never be! “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.” Psalm 27:10

May we never stumble over the earthly as we seek to know the heavenly. Yes, earthly fathers have a tremendous privilege and responsibility to reflect the Heavenly Father to their children, families, and the world around them, however not all fathers are born again believers. And others are still young in the Lord. And not to excuse sin, but we all fall short at times. It’s easy for us to forget that in order to know the truth of the Father, we must focus on the Son!

As fathers, may we first and foremost humble ourselves under the might hand of God. May we be willing to show our children that the best thing in life really is free, yet comes with a tremendous cost! May we demonstrate the importance of God’s Word and absolute necessity of praying for one another. May we be willing to show how awesome God is in blessing us with the privilege to share the Gospel with others. Our children need to see our daily dependence upon our Lord and Savior. They need to witness the complete and total integration of Jesus as our life! He’s not simply part of our lives. Jesus doesn’t just come into our lives. We must make Him our life. Only then will the love and truth of God and His Word begin to radiate as it should.

Our children, both young and adult, need to hear us pray and talk about the Word. They need to see our faithful feet sharing the Gospel and showing the love of Christ in this dark and deadly world. They need to see us stand up for the truth of Jesus and His Word and joyfully turn away from the enticements of this passing planet. They need to see our hearts fixed on our Heavenly home. In a world filled with examples, earthly speaking, the father’s has the potential to speak louder than all.

As children, may we never use our insufficient earthly examples as an excuse to serve ourselves. Instead, let us follow the Lord, daily spending time with Him. I had the privilege of seeing my own dad come to Jesus several years after me, so in many ways I was the one setting the example for him.

Growing up, we all have so many expectations of our dads, but all the what ifs, should haves, would haves and could haves just don’t matter in light of the Lord. 1 Corinthians reminds us, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” 1 Corinthians 13:11. After being saved we are finally free to focus on understanding and loving our Heavenly Father. Only then can we truly love our earthly dads as we should, often in spite of themselves.

And to those men who are older in the Lord, don’t grow weary in doing well! Continue shining the light of Jesus to those younger in the faith. My dad wasn’t a godly example when I was saved, but I praise the Lord for bringing someone in my life at just the right time, someone who took the time to encourage, correct, and instruct me in the Word. He was truly a father in the Lord. Again, in 1 Corinthians, the Lord, through Paul says, “I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have you not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be followers of me.” 1 Corinthians 4:14-16.

God is not some sort of mean, distant ogre in the sky, but He’s also not likened to a permissive grandfather who spoils us with soda and candy. To understand and know the truth about the Father, we must keep our eyes on the Son, studying His Word with humble hearts and ready minds. Jesus reminds us in John 14, “Philip said unto Him, Lord, show us the Father, and it should be sufficient. Jesus said unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known Me, Philip? He that has seen Me had seen the Father…” John 14:8-9a.

For fathers seeking to point their children to the Lord and for children seeking to point their fathers to the Lord, may we truly make it all about Jesus, not us! If we want to know the truth about our Heavenly Father, then we must seek to understand and know the One who knows Him perfectly. Jesus really is the key to Father’s Day, turning every day into a day of worship to our Heavenly Father! What an awesome God indeed!

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities; Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from destruction; who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfies your mouth with good things; so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The LORD executes righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. He made known His ways unto Moses, His acts unto the children of Israel. The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pities his children, so the LORD pities them that fear Him.” Psalm 103:2-13

TRUE LOVE

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True love is so much more than a feeling! It is not governed, as many would have us believe, by the basest and most vile of our emotional faculties. Sadly, what most call love should more accurately be categorized as lust.

True love is selfless and committed, regardless of one’s fickle and foolish feelings. True love isn’t blind. Rather it seeks knowledge and judgment, carefully weighing everything against the truth. (1 Corinthians 13) True love isn’t ignorant. It doesn’t look the other way in the midst of error or adversity. It holds high as its banners integrity and righteousness.

True love is greater than any emotion. Feelings are fleeting. True love is eternal. And in reality, only a born again believer can ever really know true love, for the Bible has correctly declared, “God is love” 1 John 4.

Don’t let the world’s lies cloud the truth. True love is intelligent, committed, and discerning! Jesus truly is our true love. Abide in Him today!

“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;  That you may approve things that are excellent; that you may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ…”
Philippians 1:9‭-‬10.

Above It All

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This Mother’s Day…

As believers, let us never forget we can rejoice and praise the Lord in both the good times and in the bad.

We all have so many hopes and dreams, especially for our lives and our children’s lives, yet often this world sends storms beyond our control and we can do nothing but simply watch as our course and the courses of those we deeply love are altered. Sometimes these changes are, in part, due to decisions we have made. Other times, they are just the result of living in a broken and fallen world.

Special days like Mother’s Day can be so exciting, a time to thank our mothers and be thanked as mothers, yet it’s also a time when sorrow can quickly invade. There are many circumstances, some of which I understand first hand, that have affected families, ones that cause days like today to be quite difficult. Regardless of time, wounds are often still present. But dare we never forget that even in the worst of storms, the sun still shines above it all.

Praise Jesus, because for the born again believer, there’s eternal hope beyond the temporal storms and successes, above the peaks and valleys of this world. Regardless of the tragedies, trials, broken hearts and even beyond the earthly successes, there’s a wonderful kingdom above it all. This heavenly kingdom is eternal and available for any and all who choose to receive the full and free forgiveness of Jesus Christ. “Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believes on Me should not abide in darkness.” John 12:46.

Despite what we’ve been told, true life is not the sum total of all our expectations, experiences, hopes, and desires. Life is so much more than us. True life is Jesus Christ and no matter what storms come across our course, as Christians, we can still know victory because our God is outside and above it all. Jesus endured it all and laid down it all. He became sin for us, so we could finally be brought above it all to know what life’s really all about.

He became the lowest of all and then raised up to highest of all to provide the only way for mankind to receive Him as our All in All! Only because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection can we have true life, ETERNAL life! In John 17, Jesus reminds us, “And this is life eternal, that they might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.”  John 17:3. The Christian life is not easy. In fact, it’s frankly impossible. Only Jesus lived it perfectly and only Jesus can live His life in us. True life is only discovered when we once and for all give Jesus the reins, letting Him lead us Home to our Heavenly Father.

But the old life I chose to mortify still knocks on the door of my heart and mind. It still wants to be appreciated, noticed, and coddled. It becomes jealous when anyone else gets the attention, most of all Jesus.The world, the flesh, and the devil will often remind us of the tragedies and fleshly triumphs, desiring nothing less than for us to lose sight of the Son above, all together forgetting about our risen Lord and Savior.  And days like today can sometimes become grand opportunities for the flesh to come knocking.

Instead of opening the door, may I embrace the true Comforter, the Savior and sanctifier of my soul. May I take my eyes off myself and instead look intently at the only One I truly cannot live without. May I learn to embrace the difficulties this planet offers as opportunities to steadfastly grow closer to my Rock and Refuge.

The Lord has called us to so much more than we can ever comprehend this side of Heaven. May we take time to love Jesus today, worshiping Him in spirit and in truth. And then let us simply continue serving Him, letting Him take care of every outcome. There are perhaps many tragedies filling your heart today. May the Lord bring us above them all, empowering us to continue running the heavenly race He has set before us with joy and grace in our hearts!

May we simply abide in Christ, continually feasting on His wonderful Word. Then let us continue faithfully planting and watering His Word in all those He puts in our path. We cannot truly change the course of anyone, but we can point them to the only One who can. His light will shine, even piercing through the darkest of storms, and with it comes true life. What an absolute privilege and blessing to wholeheartedly love and follow Jesus, knowing He truly is above it all!

“Then spoke Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12

“Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

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It’s often been said, but definitely bares repeating…

As born again believers, may we always embrace our faith in Christ as a child. Lest there be any confusion, being childlike is never to be mistaken for being childish. They are most assuredly a world apart.

Childlike faith recognizes and embraced complete and utter dependence upon the Heavenly Father. Childish faith continues to ignore this fact, instead attempting to accomplish the unattainable in his own power. Childlike faith is care free. Childish faith is careless. Childlike faith is trusting, yet testing all things according to God’s Word. Childish faith is ignorant and foolish, often trusting in feelings, not in the Lord who bought him. Childlike faith is always attentive to the Father. Childish faith is directed by his flesh, often tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine.

Childlike faith is selfless. Childish faith is consumed with self. Childlike faith is innocent regarding evil, yet not ignorant of the enemy’s devices. Childish faith is ignorant to Satan’s devices which often leads into areas loaded with spiritual and doctrinal landminds. Childlike faith happily receives from the Lord to then gladly give away. Childish faith is content to consume, rarely offering anything to anyone.

Childlike faith joyfully receives daily food from Heaven. Childish faith cares little for heavenly manna and is often ruled by foolish and fleshly appetites. Childlike faith is always inquiring of the Lord, always thinking, always desiring to grow in the knowledge and understanding of His Savior. Childish faith is always arguing with the Lord, questioning and complaining every step of the way. Childlike faith is humble, slow to speak and quick to listen. Childish faith abundant in pride, ever willing to cloak his ignorance in the abundance of words.

There’s a very good reason Jesus brought a little child in the midst of the disciples and said, “Verily I say unto you, Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3-4

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