Category: Emergent


Love the Truth

The born again believer’s time spent humbly studying God’s Word combined with his earnest desire to know Jesus more will directly relate to his fruitfulness, faithfulness, eternal perspective and satisfaction, peace, heavenly wisdom, discernment, grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, victory, rest, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

If we’re lacking in anything, may we cease from sitting at the feet of so many of today’s worldly, so-called Christian leaders and instead, simply enjoy the beauty of God unadulterated Word!

The message of today’s post modern Christianity is nothing more than the world’s wisdom shabbily layered with a very thin veneer of Christianity. Listen, despite what so many are telling us today, we don’t have to “breathe” Jesus in. This is a mystical concept never taught in the Bible. We don’t have to quietly wait to hear Jesus calling. We don’t have to sit outside, trying to feel God in the wind and hear Him in the bird! Again, these are mystical, not biblical Christianity. Contrary to popular opinion, this is walking by sight, not by faith.

We don’t have to build one another up by telling ourselves we’re so wonderful . This is at best psychological, but most certainly not biblical. We don’t have to try Yoga or eastern meditation in hopes of “experiencing” God. These are Hinduistic and ungodly methods not once found in the Bible.

We don’t have to dumb down God’s Word. We don’t have to rewrite it, calling it God’s modern “message”. Instead of seeking the newest watered down “version” of the Bible, why not just take the time to understand and know the truth already clearly given to us in His Word and revealed by His Holy Spirit?

We don’t have to try uniting with everyone. Instead, let us simply stand firm, lovingly teaching others the veracity of His Holy Word.

We don’t have to join arms with those who foolishly and arrogantly think they’re making the world ready for Jesus to come back. We don’t have to be “moved” by every so-called Christian singer featured on the radio or internet. We don’t have to clamor after every new book written by some post-modern, self-proclaimed Christian, many of whom are deeply entrenched and influenced by godless philosophy and psychology.

We don’t have to turn a blind eye to the myriad of false teaching found in Roman Catholism (and other so-called Christian religions) just to appear tolerant and “loving”.

May we stop clamoring after this world’s methods and message! Sadly, many are unwittingly playing right into the hands of the enemy of our souls, all the while believing they are becoming more enlightened, faithfully doing God’s “new” work.

We live in a time when not only the world is calling good evil, but so is much of today’s church.  Sadly, much of the purpose of today’s church growth will only serve to grow and adorn the woman exposed in Revelation 17.

The bride of Christ has no interest in this world, rather she is longing to be called home to be with her Husband, the true Jesus Christ. Until then, may His real bride seek to faithful and humbly serve her Husband by lovingly clinging to His Word and faithfully sharing His glorious, life-giving Gospel with everyone she meets.

We don’t have to apologize for God’s truth or bow our knees to the idols of the world. We don’t have to dance to the world’s beat, no matter how good it sounds. We don’t have to feast on it’s food nor build God an earthly home.

Let us rather rejoice by remembering and loving our true Husband, making ourselves ready by taking off the filthy garments of the flesh and instead, adorning ourselves with Jesus Christ and His wonderful Word!

“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” John 10:14

“For the mystery of iniquity already works: only He who now lets will let, until He be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming: even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” 2 Thessalonians 2:7-11

Jesus said, “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name? and in Your name have cast out devils? and in Your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:22-23

“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is My kingdom not from here.” John 18:36

“And when he puts forth his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.” John 10:4-5

“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife has made herself ready.”  Revelation 19:7

“You shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.” Leviticus 20:23

Biblically speaking, Jesus’ resurrection occurred on the first Sunday after the Jewish Passover meal. So why is it that some years “Easter” occurs before the Passover?

In 325 AD, the Council of Nicaea voted to hold “Easter” on the Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal (Spring) equinox (the day when sunlight is equal on both hemispheres of the earth; aka the first day of spring. After this point, days get longer and nights shorter.)

Choosing this pattern for dating Jesus’ resurrection is curious at best. Why did those overseen by Constantine (the Roman Emperor) ignore the actual pattern (the Sunday after the Passover meal) established by the Lord? Why did they adopt a pattern practiced by paganism for centuries? And does it even matter?

It only matters if we first understand what paganism, witchcraft, occultism, etc. has wholeheartedly embraced for centuries prior to Jesus’ resurrection regarding Easter. A simple search online will reveal the many deceptive pagan connections between rabbits, eggs, the word and timing of Easter and false, fertility goddess worship.

One brief example-

“Dating Easter in conjunction with the vernal equinox and full moon had nothing to do with the biblical account of Christ’s resurrection or the Passover. It was pagan practices, such as the spring fertility goddess rituals that the Catholic Church “absorbed” and attempted to Christianize, that resulted in Easter’s being linked to the vernal equinox and the full moon. The only thing that is biblical regarding when Easter is now observed is the fact that Easter is always on a Sunday. However, this is not the case. Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox (March 21 in 2008, the first day of spring). (Got Questions)

Does it matter whether or not Christians embrace the world’s rituals? I believe the answer is yes. Jesus didn’t lay eggs (nor do rabbits for that matter). He did, however, tragically suffer His Heavenly Father’s spiritual and eternal wrath while He was upon the cross. He chose to obey His Father wholeheartedly, taking the penalty we deserve. “You [LORD] shall make His soul an offering for sin…” Isaiah 53:10. Jesus paid the price in full and then willingly laid down His life only to triumphantly raise to life again three days later just like He said He would. Jesus fulfilled hundreds of Old Testament prophesies all to prove that He is the very Christ. He made the truth absolutely and abundantly clear so not to add to all the confusion surrounding Him. 

Am I saying we should boycott church on “Easter” Sunday?  That would be ridiculous! But should we “dress” and “dance” like the world just because it’s popular and pleasing to the eyes?  God forbid!

Resurrection Sunday is the exclamation point, the heart of God’s Gospel, yet too often the waters are muddied and lines blurred within the Church. We tell others to believe God’s Word, but then behave like world when practicing its high days. Sadly, adults are many times motivated to follow the world’s lead simply because it makes our children happy. But Jesus didn’t say do whatever makes our children temporarily excited. He said, “Let the children come to Me, and forbid them not” Matthew 19:14. This generation is confused enough as it is. They are literally inundated with the world’s Antichrist messages carefully, creatively, and intentionally force fed to them through videos, games, toys, TV, movies, music, books, school, friends… and more and more, even today’s Christianity.

Satan’s strategy hasn’t changed. Water down, confuse, and corrupt from the inside out. Why should we, the body of Christ, muddy the waters? Why blur the lines? Why add confusion to an already overly confused generation?

Why not present a different message? Why not lovingly speak the truth? Why not simply preach Christ and Him crucified? Why not be separate? Why not shine forth the pure light of Jesus? Why not offer the world the pure water of the Word?

Why not?

How interesting it is that a person could spend his entire life time and all the riches in the world studying creation and the philosophies surrounding him, and in the end still have absolutely nothing. Sadly, many have discovered this truth first hand.

Only when we realize the futility and deception of pursuing earthly wisdom, only when we understand the eternal weight of heavenly wisdom, will we finally begin to understand. As we follow the waters up stream to their source, we will not only find the fountain head, we will discover the throne. 

Lest we forget, mankind was not created to simply attain knowledge and exercise wisdom. We were created to understand and know the all wise God through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Only when we bow our heart’s knees at Jesus’ throne, casting our handmade crowns at His feet, will we truly begin to see.

“Where shall [heavenly] wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man knows not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living. The depth says, It is not in me: and the sea says, It is not with me. It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. 

Where then comes wisdom? and where is the place of understanding? 

Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air. Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears. 

God understands the way thereof, and He knows the place thereof. 

For He looks to the ends of the earth, and sees under the whole heaven; to make the weight for the winds; and He weighs the waters by measure. When He made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder: then did He see it, and declare it; He prepared it, yea, and searched it out. 

And unto man He said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” Job 28:12-28

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

Robber or Redeemer

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“Now at that feast the governor was accustomed to releasing unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will you that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?” Matthew 27:15-17

Pilate said, “But you have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the Passover: will you therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews? Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.” John 18:39-40

From the cereal isle at the grocery store to the food court at the mall, there’s no doubt this world is inundated with an almost endless amount of choices. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements featuring the “latest and greatest” of everything. It’s no wonder we’ve almost become completely desensitized to the daunting amount of decisions staring at us day after day. Yet, in spite of this mountainous menagerie, our choices really don’t have to be that complicated. You see, when it’s all said and done, we are left with only two simple, but absolutely crucial decisions in all that we believe, do, say, and think – the robber or the Redeemer.

When Christ was led before the people, Pilate gave them a choice, Barabbas or Jesus.  The people had arguably made hundreds of thousands of choices in their life times, yet all those decisions could all be boiled down into one of these two categories, the robber or the Redeemer.  The same can be said for all of mankind throughout time. Although material is not necessarily good or bad, our hearts, being stubbornly self-willed, tend to allow us to become completely distracted by the lusts, pleasures, and pain of this planet. In a very real sense, we are often more than willing to be robbed of the joy and peace and wonderful knowledge of Christ for what is, at best, a measly bowl of stew. (Genesis 25:29-34). When examining the presence and power of the robber and the glorious reality of the Redeemer, there are definitely some things worth carefully considering. Here are just a few.

The Robber: Destroying the Foundation
This sin-soaked world, comprised of the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, only has one goal, one aim… to steal all the glory from God!  Jesus called Satan a thief and a murderer and reminds us that he comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.  Even though he is the thief of all thieves, the devil obviously cannot actually steal the Lord. Nor can he kill the truth. And he most certainly cannot destroy the Word of God.  Some might wonder about Psalm 11:3… If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? Doesn’t this verse teach that the foundations can be destroyed?

There are two vantage points to consider when examining this verse, man’s and the Lord’s. Considering the Lord, we know there is nothing that can stand against Him, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Since this is the case, we can logically and biblically conclude that this verse is not saying that God’s Word can actually be destroyed. However, mankind’s love for and access to God’s Word can most definitely be rotted, replaced, and ruined.  I have absolutely no power to actually destroy God, but I most certainly have the capacity to infect and influence the hearts and minds of myself and others, causing a lost desire and direction for the truth, in essence, stealing away the one true foundation. So although the foundation, that is to say, God’s Word, endures forever, we do know that our appropriation, understanding, and application of that foundation can assuredly be robbed from us.

One example of this is found in the parable of the soils (Luke 8). The “birds” (the devil) snatched the Word from the hardened heart, therefore removing the only foundation that will endure forever. Did the Word actually get destroy? No. But the Word was robbed from taking root in the hardened heart.  So, it might be better to say the robber’s strategy is an attack of the heart, an attack designed to prevent us from seeking and being satisfied in the Lord and the truth of His everlasting Word. This attack often involves offering us deceptive distractions and distorted doctrines in an effort to keep our hearts calloused and “dull of hearing”. (Matthew 13:15-16, Hebrews 5:11)

The Redeemer: All Things New
So many have said that we all have a God-shaped hole in our hearts that only Jesus can fill, and while this is true, it is not completely the case. Jesus does not come to simply fill the hole in our old, selfish hearts. No, He comes to remove the stony heart and transplant a new and living heart, His love and life, in its place.  God’s Word calls this the new birth. (John 3) Jesus does not simply fill our old, prideful, flesh-driven and glory-gleaning hearts. He does something much more amazing! He gives a total and spiritual heart transplant. God’s promise to Israel through Ezekiel is also a promise to all who desire to receive His full and free forgiveness in Jesus –  “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh” Ezekiel 36:26.

Not only do we receive a new heart, we also receive a renewed mind. The Bible calls this the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16) Jesus does not desire to fill a portion of our self-centered, “me, myself, and I” preoccupied mind. No, He instead gives us a renewed mind. Being born again means we receive a new heart and a new mind.  This is the truth of the new birth only made possible by the righteous Redeemer of the world, Jesus Christ. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” 2 Corinthians 5:17.

The Reality: Being Born Again is Just the Beginning
Jesus represented all of humanity and as that perfect representation, the Last Adam walked the walk mankind (the first Adam’s race) was always supposed to walk. Just as Jesus fully and freely laid down His life to the will of His Heavenly Father, so too are we to do the same. Jesus does not steal our old nature. He is no robber! He truly is the remarkable Redeemer! He paid our sinful price in full, offering all who are willing to come to Him. He purchased us from the slave market of sin, self, and Satan and in its place, He offers us new life in Him. Jesus freely offers His Spirit, His nature, as the great exchange for all who are willing to turn to Him, all who choose to be redeemed. But this exchange is not the end. Actually, it’s just the beginning. Just as in all births, being born again means there’s a lot of growth to come.

Even though those who have been born again have passed from death to life, having received a new heart and new mind, there is still the presence of the old man and of this broken, sinful world. That is why, for our good and His glory, the Lord requires us to bury the old man by daily turning from ourselves and this rebellious world to the True and Living God, Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever and ever, amen!

My Reasonable Responsibility: Wearing the Redeemer’s Clothes
Although the old, selfish, and rebellious man has been dethroned, he will not be completely eradicated until the rapture or in death. Oh, what a day that will be, to see without the fleshly veil, my great and glorious King! Oh, what a day that will be!!! So, in order to keep myself from being robbed by the riches and cares of this world; if I am to prevent myself from having my love of Jesus and His Word stolen through subtlety, then burying the old man daily is a must! (1 Corinthians 15:31, Colossians 3:4-11)

Great, but what are practical means necessary to keep from being robbed of the depth and beauty and glory of the Lord? “Just give me a list,” says the baby Christian. “Tell me the things of this world that Satan will use to rob me of the knowledge of Christ. Then I will be prepared.” The Bible definitely gives us some broad and sometimes even detailed lists of what we should “take off/mortify”, however it is interesting to note that God’s Word does not account for every single, specific danger we will face in the world. I’m sure there are many reasons for this, but arguably one of the main reasons has to do with our hearts.

I’m sure we’d all agree that even good, godly things have the potential of robbing the throne of the new heart, the throne only Jesus deserves to sit upon.  So, it’s not necessarily just about following a list of do’s and don’ts. It’s more about diligently guarding our hearts daily. (Proverbs 4:23) It’s about putting on the full armor of God so we can daily stand against the wiles of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11-24) Mortify the old man, yes!  Make no provision to the flesh, yes! But we have the privilege and responsibility of putting on the new man by clothing ourselves everyday with Christ. “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” Romans 13:14.

Get to know the Good Shepherd’s voice by reading His Word often, praying fervently, knowing our righteousness is in Christ, and obeying our Heavenly Father willingly and wholeheartedly.  Then, and only then, will we be able to prevent our hearts from being robbed of the amazing beauty and joy found solely in Jesus Christ, our great and glorious Redeemer!

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth.” Job 19:25

Jesus said, “All that ever came before Me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” John 10:8-11

Open Bible

If there ever was an attribute which remains reprehensible regardless of its modern day adornment, it would be that of ungratefulness. There is something quite disheartening in watching someone receive a gift with a heart absent of genuine gratitude. Although many areas of selfishness/self-centeredness, mostly due to marketing and manipulation, have successfully won over the hearts and minds of the culture, there is nothing that can cover up the egregious attitude of being unthankful.

I cannot think of one redeeming book, TV, or movie character that has stood the test of time which has displayed such a self-centered heart, yet ungratefulness plagues us in real life perhaps now more than ever. This is much in part thanks to what many have deemed the self-esteem movement.

Over the last several decades the pro high self-esteem movement has literally plowed and paved its way into the very fiber of our postmodern thinking and behavior. But there are more than a few ironies facing the self-esteem philosophy and sadly, even more casualties. One such casualty standing at the forefront would arguably be that of genuine thankfulness.

Certain characteristics in life have quite natural outcomes. When someone is spoon fed (from the high chair) the necessity of having a high/good self-worth, self-esteem, self-image, etc. we should not be surprised when that child grows up to be a very confused and disillusioned young adult. Despite a high self-esteem being touted as the wonder drug of the 20th century, nothing could be further from the truth.

Geneticists have worked tirelessly in recent decades, discovering how to modify today’s foods to appear bigger and brighter, but often other attributes are lost in the process. A similar principle can be observed in people’s attitudes and actions. In a culture literally in love with itself, there are often other, much more nutritious characteristics that are deleted, due in part to our anxious efforts of self-exaltation. One of the nutrients often missing is that of genuine and lasting thankfulness.

Consider the child that is repeatedly told he is so special and so important that he deserves everything and that “having it his way” is just the way it should be. This child feeds on books and tens of thousands of hours of TV shows and movies essentially telling him the very same thing. He’s given many fabulous and expensive gifts, only reinforcing the delusion. It doesn’t take long before his emboldened and enriched self-esteem is off the charts. This will undoubtedly lead to a reduction of other characteristics, namely thankfulness. After all, why be thankful, when you wholeheartedly believe you deserve the best and the most?

But one might argue that even a selfish child is thankful for receiving a long desired present. True, however, this is a different sort of thankfulness altogether. It is a fleeting, fleshly thankfulness, not one born out of true, selfless gratitude. It is produced only temporarily, if, in a sense, as the soul’s way of expressing pleasure for getting what it already believes it deserved in the first place. (If you don’t believe this, watch what happens when people are kept from getting what they think they deserve. It really doesn’t matter the age. Often children are just not as good at masking their true feelings.) In fact, it won’t be long before even the extravagant gifts will not be enough to satisfy that child’s insatiable appetite of self-aggrandizement. Soon even the presents will bring nothing but ungratefulness, always believing he deserves more and better things.

Sadly, this pattern is a deceptive and tragic trap, one ultimately set by the enemy of our souls, and one many corporations and psychologists have been utilized to employ, having profited greatly. Breeding discontentment will naturally lead people to spend more in hopes of satisfying their already discontented hearts and minds. Who better to benefit from this sort of philosophy than retail companies? Perhaps that is why so many of them are the leaders in self-centered advertising. Another business benefiting would of course be psychotherapy. After all, who better to seek than a therapist to “cure” the pain and emptiness that this sort of discontentment eventually produces? Sadly, much of today’s church is no different, seeking psychology and the next big sale to satisfy instead of the Word and indwelling Spirit of God. Is it any wonder we see so little vibrancy and victory in today’s Christianity?

Arguably there is a simple philosophy that our culture has bought into from birth. It says that most, if not all people begin with a low self-esteem. Whether due to circumstances or something broken within, that low self-esteem must be overcome at all cost if we are ever to succeed as successful human beings. In order to do so we must enjoy a high self-esteem diet of flesh enhancing philosophies and practices. Only then can we overcome our maladjusted beliefs and begin soaring like we were always meant to do. As tasty as this might sound, this is not how God designed us to live. We were not designed to raise ourselves up, but rather to lower ourselves down and instead raise God up.

Only in magnifying Jesus can we truly find genuine and eternal contentment and fulfillment. This is why God’s Word reminds us that godliness with contentment is great gain. “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life…” 1 Timothy 6:6-12a

The actual name for a high self-esteem is pride and pride is really nothing less than self-love. It is the very heart of all that hates God, seeking to exalt itself above Him, stealing the Lord’s rightful place upon the throne of every human heart. Despite what most schools, commercials, “professionals”, retail companies, and story books tell us, it is not having a high self-esteem that will ultimately fulfill us. Nor will it ever produce real thankfulness and gratitude. Only when we sincerely and desperately cling to the Great and Glorious God will we find the truth and truly be thankful to the Lord. Only when we understand that it is because of our willful rebellion against God that we deserve nothing less than Hell, only then will we truly embrace God in His forgiveness and love found in Jesus Christ alone.

Only in humility will thanksgiving not only be produced, but also bring about an abundance of the Life of Christ in us and through us. If pride is the ultimate culprit, then humility can be the cure. Like the sun, Jesus burns away the prideful fog obscuring God’s greatness, helping us to finally humble ourselves, coming to grips with the very real and freeing fact that we are really nothing. We will finally realize it is the Lord, not us, Who deserves it all! We do not “deserve a break today” and we most certainly should not seek to “have it our way”. Instead may we humbly seek His perfect and plentiful way. May we wholeheartedly desire to see the Lord in His true beauty and splendor. Then we will begin to see our discontentment and ungratefulness burn away and finally begin to understand what it truly means to “abound in Christ with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:7).

Pulling Back the Curtain

imageSin is so terribly destructive, so utterly diabolical! Sin is so horrific that it’s true power and perversity are arguably unfathomable by the human mind. How much more so for the father of lies, the father of sin!?

We dip and dabble at it as if certain sins are permissible. We tolerate sin in our lives and sometimes even encourage it as if it’s as harmless as a squeaky screen door. Perhaps our reluctance to resist the devil (in the Lord’s strength of course) has something to do with our own perspective of sin and the father of it.

What if you discovered you were born into a family that had been hunted and killed for years? What if you also discovered that there was one person behind it all, a person only known as the prowler? You are forced to grow up on the run and after a decade of fear, the unthinkable happens. Your parents, your brothers, and sisters are all trapped and killed. Some how you are able to get away, only to go on the run again.

Another decade goes by, and you finally think you’re safe so you decide to settle down. Not too long after you move into your first place, a package arrives in the mail. Wrapped in beautiful, shiny paper, this intriguing gift causes you to let down your guard. There’s a small card attached. Your curiosity gets the best of you. You open the card. The message reads, “Dear Boy, I hope you accept my gift. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. Your Friend, The Prowler.”

Would you open the gift? If not, then why? Why not open a present offered by the one responsible for hunting and destroying so many?

Of course, it’s not always so black and white with Satan, the enemy of our souls. Or is it? Perhaps it is that clear, but because of our deep personal devotion to the flesh, we often allow the issues to become muddied so we really don’t have to think too much about them.

Maybe if we’d ask the Lord to seriously pull back the curtain on sin, Satan, and our own selfish hearts, we’d begin understanding the deep destructiveness of the worldly nets we’ve wrapped ourselves in. Perhaps if we’d sincerely ask the Lord to give us eyes to see the sinfulness of sin and the beauty of Himself, we’d choose to leave this world’s temporary temptations alone, instead clinging wholeheartedly to the only gift that truly and eternally matters, Jesus Christ!

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“But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, has abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. That as sin has reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:15-18, 21

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Whether in a novel, a crime show, or while at work, we have all heard this phrase borrowed by the world time and time again. However, as they understandably do so often, those who  use it strip the phrase from of its actual and powerful meaning. Sadly, many in the church have heard it said so often, they too have perhaps forgotten what Jesus is really teaching His disciples.

Early on in my Christian walk, John 8:31-32 were two verses that had a tremendous and even life changing impact on me. “Then said Jesus to those Jews 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. It occurred to me that Christianity, although filled with an amazing testimony regarding the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ wasn’t simply a story that changed my life. It wasn’t one religion among many which just happened to be the one that worked for me. No, Christianity was and is and always will be built upon the bedrock of the truth.

So often people get saved and are then brought into a local church body. They are quickly put to work, staying busy with activity after activity. Soon Christianity is solely defined by the activities and friendships and the Word is marginalized in place of the work. Although there is an important place for the work, unless the Word of God is put first, the work we are doing might very well end up being the work of men, not the Lord.

Once a born again believer realizes, truly realizes that Christianity isn’t merely about a changed life or the work one does; once the Christian really begins to see that Jesus is the one and only way to the Father of Life because He is the truth, then that believer has finally begun standing upon the solid ground.

Undeniably, our firm foundation is Jesus, yet as He reveals in John 8:31-32, our faith becomes solid when it is exercised with the understanding that God’s Word is uniquely and unequivocally true. We need not run to the popular preacher nor to the pop-psychologist, but to the Word of God to know the truth. There is no college, no institution, no religion on the planet that can offer what the Bible can.

Jesus didn’t say that facts will set men free. He said the truth found in God’s Word alone would bring real and eternal freedom to the souls of men. Christianity is one hundred percent based on the truth and nothing but the truth, period.

Unfortunately we tend to wander from the Word, leaning instead upon the words of men. The natural man loves the “all natural” flavors produced and peddled by other men. Yet, there are those who long for something more, something better. There are those who, perhaps for years, have done the “church” thing, yet now realize men and their activities can never truly satisfy. Only the truth will do!

In these two amazing verses, Jesus tells us many things. First, He declares that He is God. He does not say, “If you remain in God’s Word.” He says, “If you remain in My Word.” He is saying the Word spoken to the faithful followers of the LORD from the beginning of time has always been His Word. Jesus truly is God.

He also teaches us that His Word is not simply true, but that it is sufficiently so. Jesus does not say, “If you stay in My Word, you will know part of the truth.” We are promised to know ALL of the truth pertaining to everlasting freedom. God’s Word is truly sufficient. One of Satan’s greatest strategies among believers is not to deny the truth of God’s Word, but instead to deny its sole sufficiency. Once people buy into this horrific lie, they will then be willing to drink from all sorts of muddied streams, all in hopes of discovering some drop of pure water.

As strange as this sounds, this one strategy has literally and repeatedly crippled the body of Christ from walking in the true power and victory God has intended for her. May we not be ensnared any longer!

True freedom comes exclusively from God’s Word. Despite their many claims, absolutely nothing this world offers can produce eternal freedom, nothing. Neither psychology nor religion, neither education nor entertainment will do. The ways of man will always fall short of eternity and often lead to temporal destruction as well.

Those reading these two verses should also inquire about the freedom offered by Jesus. Freedom yes, but freedom from what? Jesus is not providing freedom to go live our own lives independent of divine authority. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Simply put, God’s Word promises to sufficiently bring freedom from sin, from self, and from the power of our first father, Satan.

God’s promise also ensures freedom to finally love and serve the One we were made to worship; the Living and True God, the Creator and Savior of the world. This is the freedom found exclusively in the Word of God, the Word not based on the sinking sands of man’s opinions or Satan’s devices, but rather the Word which is the truth and nothing but the truth.

On this Lord’s day, may we praise and thank Him for His wonderful reminder to stop feeding the flesh. May we cease from fearing and following the words and ways of men. Instead let us wholeheartedly love the truth of God revealed to us by His Holy Spirit as we remain in the glorious, eternal, and sufficient Word of Truth!

“And we know that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20

A Celebration for Fun?

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What if a church decided to start a new celebration, one that they could teach to the lost? What if, for some unknown reason, they chose to have it take place on a very important pagan date, a day those worshipping creation (rather than the Creator) especially cherish?

The event would have children dress up in costumes magnifying man and all his vain imagination could fathom. Some could even choose to dress like wizards and witches, skeletons, zombies, and ghosts.

Once the date and costumes were decided, the church would then start sharing the new tradition with their neighbors, reaching out to the lost. To keep everyone coming year after year, they decided they’d need an incentive, so a decision was made to give out lots of candy to all the children who participate.

After the first few years, the adults might decide they too want to join in the festivities, so there is another committee formed to plan what to do for them. They decide to encourage the grown ups to  decorate their houses inside and out, but they too are asked to put up things reminiscent of darkness and death.

There could also be greeting cards and adult costumes, all to help everyone learn about and remember the church’s new celebration. Plus, the more people participating, the less likely individuals will be to stop joining in.

Just as the planning is almost done, someone in the back of the room stands up to ask a question. “What if some question the timing of our event and choice to represent so much darkness, especially since our call is to shine the Light of Jesus,” he asks. Everyone turns back again to the front to hear from the committee members sitting at the head tables.

After a brief pause, one of the members smiles. “We’ll simply explain to everyone in the church that we’re doing it all in the name of fun,” he suggests. “Then, just in case our neighbors wonder, we’ll tell them we really don’t believe any of the things we’re doing. We’ll say we’re just playing make believe. That should suffice.” Everyone nodded in agreement and then finalized their plans for the church’s newest and most fun celebration yet.

“Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion has light with darkness? And what concord has Christ with Belial? or what part has he that believes with an infidel? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
2 Corinthians 6:14-16

Bible Light Bulb ImageThere are many questions and even more supposed answers about eternity. Lots of people have said there are many ways to get to Heaven.  After all, don’t all spiritual roads lead to the same place? Does it really matter what religion we follow?  If we’re simply sincere, devoted, and passionate about whatever we believe, won’t it all work out in the end?  Can’t my good works outweigh the bad things I’ve done in the past?  How can we really know for sure?

What’s the Answer?

Maybe you’re wondering some of the same things.     If not, you should be. After all, eternity is a lot longer than the few short years we’ll spend on this planet.  Asking good questions is important, but finding the right answers is even more crucial! If you’re lost and stop to ask someone for directions, it really does matter whether the directions he/she gives you are right or wrong. So in hopes of preventing anyone from getting even more lost, let’s examine several of today’s most popular myths.

We’ll examine seven basic misunderstandings/ myths in pursuit of discovering the true answer to how we can know for sure we are going to Heaven.

MYTH 1: The majority must be right. Just because people have answers doesn’t mean those answers are true, even if a majority agrees. A survey of 35,000 American adults shows that 70 percent believe there are many paths to God, but just because a majority believes the same thing doesn’t necessarily make it true.  Consider Hitler’s Nazi Germany. Just because many were in agreement with Hitler doesn’t make what he believed and did correct. Following the majority isn’t the answer!

MYTH 2- Sincerity is what matters.  Just because someone is sincere in a belief doesn’t make it right.

  • Does it matterif a sincere pharmacist puts the wrong pills in a bottle?
  • Does it matterif a surgeon sincerely believed he removed a kidney when in fact he removed the liver?
  • Does it matterif a woman ate a poisonous mushroom, even though she sincerely thought it would be good for her?

It is possible to be very sincere, but be sincerely wrong. The critical question is not whether someone is sincere, rather what is the truth?  Sincerity is not the answer.

MYTH 3: Pretty good is good enough. One of the greatest lies ever believed is that human beings can be good enough to get to Heaven!  I’ve heard this so many times and at one point even believed it myself.  I’ve even had professing atheists tell me if there is a ‘God’, then when they die they’ll be okay because they’ve been pretty good. Here’s the thing, being pretty good isn’t the real issue. God’s standard isn’t pretty good, it’s perfection. After all, God isn’t simply pretty good. He’s perfect.

Being pretty good isn’t the answer.

MYTH 4: Religion is good enough.  At some level, all religions say we must do good works in order to be right. Biblical Christianity is totally unique.  In religion, man has to reach up to God by his good works. In Christianity, God reached down with the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. He was crucified for the sins of the world. If religion, rituals, and traditions worked, Jesus would’ve never had to come and die.  Religion is not the answer!

MYTH 5: My future good deeds will make up for my past bad deeds. Here’s the problem. Let’s say you get a speeding ticket for driving 55 in a15 mph school zone, then stand before the judge and tell him you’ll never speed again. Will that make up for the crime you’ve already committed?  No. What if you tell the judge you’ve driven through that area many times before, always following the law? Will that make up for your crime?  No. We don’t get extra credit for following the law. The law requires that we follow it completely. That’s the whole point. Following the law tomorrow will never make up for the fact that we broke it today.  Simply said, the price has to be paid!  Future good deeds are not the answer.

Myth 6: I’m a good person.  We all tend to compare ourselves with one another; forgetting people are not the standard.  We did not make this universe, and we did not make the moral laws any more than the physical laws of this universe. God is the Creator, and He is the standard, not us. All one has to do is look at God’s law, which can be boiled down to the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20)  to see if we really are good people, if we measure up to the holiness of God.  Here are a few of God’s moral laws:

  • “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”  Telling the truth is the backbone of any society and the Bible. Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man, that He should lie…” God is truth.  Have you ever told a lie; even a “little” one?
  • “You shall not steal.” Have you ever taken something that is not yours?
  • “You shall not commit adultery.”  Jesus took this commandment to a deeper level when He said, “If you have even looked upon someone with lust, it means you have already committed adultery in your heart with that person.” Matthew 5:27-28. Have you ever looked at someone with lust?

Now things get a little more interesting.  James 2:10 says, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”

So if we’ve even broken one of God’s commandments, we’ve broken them all.

 I ask you again, “Have you broken any of the Ten Commandments?” If you’re honest, you’ll have to say yes. Since we’ve all broken God’s law, it’s clear no one is really a good person.

Here’s the truth:  The reason sincerity, religion, and good works just don’t cut it is because they all originate from men and according to God, we’ve all willfully sinned. That is to say, we’ve all come short of God’s standard of perfection. Period!  We’re not the solution, frankly we’re the problem.

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

God knows we’ve sinned.  We know we need His forgiveness. “For I will declare my iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.” Psalm 38:18  

The shedding of an animal’s blood reminded the Israelites that death was a result of man’s choice to rebel against his Creator. It was also a clue of God’s faithfulness to one day send One who would pay the ultimate price by dying for all of humanity, One who would not only die, but take the spiritual and eternal punishment we deserve so our penalty against God would be fully paid. A male lamb without spot was used in the Old Testament for a yearly sacrifice to God. This was a clue that One would come, not as a spotless lamb, but as a sinless man and God to die for the sins of the world.

“The next day John saw Jesus coming unto him, and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29  

Jesus is the Lamb of God that the Old Testament pointed to, the One that would be the final, complete, and eternal sacrifice to God the Father by dying on the cross for our sins. God the Father literally poured out the anger and wrath we deserve upon His Son!

“He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Are you ready to repent (turn) and put your    belief in Jesus and His finished work on the cross for you?

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for your sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures…” 1 Corinthians 15:3-6  

Myth 7: Christianity is just too narrow-minded.  With so many religions around the world, this might seem reasonable. Jesus claimed to be the only way to Heaven, yet many believe this is too narrow-minded. But is this bad? When I walk through the front door, does it ever bother me that there’s only one door? When I enter a gas station or a store, do I ever stop to complain when there’s only one door?  No. One door doesn’t mean anything other than there’s only one way in.  One way, in reality, makes it simple. There’s one way, making it very easy to identify both the true and the false doors.  Yes, one way to Heaven is narrow, but narrow doesn’t mean it’s bad. The God of the Bible says He’s one God (Deut. 6:4), so why not only have one way? God doesn’t want us to follow a lie. All may enter, but we must enter His way, not our own. Being too narrow just isn’t an excuse. Believing there are many ways to Heaven isn’t the answer.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  Matthew 7:13-14

 THE TRUE and ETERNAL ANSWER

The answer of eternity is found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ!  You have two choices. Sadly, most choose the wide road to exit planet Earth. The other way is the narrow road which is covered with the blood of Jesus Christ.

WHICH ONE WILL YOU CHOOSE?

“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 [Jesus] shall not be ashamed.”  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Romans 10:9-13  

“For [God] says, “I have heard you in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I helped you: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”  2 Corinthians 6:2  

There is only one way to get to Heaven. The true path is through Jesus Christ and Him alone. You must make this decision before you die. There’s no second chance after death.

Repent and believe on Him for the forgiveness of your sins before it’s too late.

(Originally produced and distributed by Once Lost Ministries)

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