Tag Archive: 1 John 5


Star Wars: In Light of God’s Word

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore your eye be single, your whole body shall be full of light. But if your eye be evil, your whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters.” Matthew 6:21-24a

“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” said George Lucas, maker of the Star Wars movies. Over the last four decades Star Wars has consistently won the hearts and minds of viewers of all ages and is arguably one of the most lucrative and widespread cinematic enterprises ever to hit the silver screen. And with Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm back in 2012, provided the Lord tarries, Lucas’ legacy and message are all but guaranteed to thrive for years to come.  According to an online article from USA Today, “Disney expects to more aggressively expand the Star Wars film schedule, Iger [Disney CEO] said in a statement. Following the release of Episode VII in 2015, “our long term plan is to release a new Star Wars feature film every two to three years,” Iger said. Star Wars Episodes VIII and IX, Iger said, would follow “probably on a cadence of every other year and then go from there.” http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2012/10/30/disney-star-wars-lucasfilm/1669739/

Over the years, many studies have examined the marketing and message of the Star Wars industry in hopes of gleaning some of its “industrial magic”. It truly is one of the first movies ever to build such an enduring and successful toy/product line reaching almost four decades and spanning around the globe. Anyone alive in the late 70’s-mid 80’s should be able to testify to the Star Wars fan frenzy every December. There were literally empty toy shelves across the country and frantic parents braving the rain, sleet, and snow to make sure their children had the latest and greatest Star Wars action figures and accessories.

Very few movies have ever cemented themselves so thoroughly into the psyche of the masses.  Its enduring popularity alone should cause even the moderate Christian to pause and inquire a bit further. Interestingly, there are not that many resources thoroughly examining the spiritual/biblical implications of Star Wars.  With that in mind, along with the long anticipated Episode 7 on the virtual horizon, I hope this brief article serves to help readers understand some of the core concerns with the Star Wars message.

A Brief Testimony

As a child I was mesmerized by the Star Wars movie series (IV, V, and VI).  I had watched them so often I could recite almost every line from all three movies.  My parents did not raise me in the New Age (New Spirituality) or any religion for that matter.  My temple was mostly the theater and my doctrines formed from the movie mysticism I fed upon.  I can say without equivocation that Star Wars was one of the greatest influences on the false understanding I grew to embrace pertaining both to God and to myself.

There may be readers thinking that compared to the horror and gore riddled throughout today’s TV, video game, and movie entertainment, Star Wars is really nothing more than a benign sci-fi alternative featuring fanciful creatures, heroes, and villains from galaxies far, far away. But nothing could be further from the truth. Arguably Star Wars doesn’t contain much graphic gore. Neither is there much in the way of swearing, sex, and intense violence, but there is most definitely a message; one that is diabolical and deceitfully destructive through and through. It is a message that resonates with people from around the world and was intentionally designed to cement one simple idea into the hearts and minds of everyone watching, “May the force be with you.

The rest of this article will focus on several main points that readers should then be able to use to share with others. Hopefully these tools will add light to a message that has very much been injected and embraced even by many Christian families.

Point 1: The Family Structure

For a variety of reasons moms, not dads, tend to be the spiritual leaders in their households. And since that’s the case, moms are usually the ones guiding the spiritual landscape of their families. But who’s typically more interested in sci-fi, guys or girls? Typically guys are.

Over the years, I’ve spoken with many parents and fellow teachers and when talking with moms and female teachers, I almost always hear the same two basic responses, “I’m not even interested in things like Star Wars” and “I’m just happy my husband is doing something with our son”.  Can you see the problem here?  If moms are typically the spiritual leaders and they are not interested in the very thing their husbands and sons are bonding over, then how does that family really know if the messages they’re feeding on are spiritually “safe”?  The simple answer is they don’t.  

Point 2: George Lucas’ Message

It’s easy to forget that this world is full of messages and most of them don’t even originate from the pulpit.  Some messages might be hard to “swallow”, especially when shared with a Christian crowd. That old phrase “a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down” can definitely be applied to today’s media/entertainment industry.  Granted, some films are mostly made for entertainment value with little real content behind them; however there are others that have seemed to find a perfect mix of “sugar” and “medicine”. In other words, there are some movies that do a very good job of feeding the audience their message in such an entertaining and amusing way that the medicine (message) is widely and readily received.

disney-bought-george-lucas-ideas-for-the-new-star-wars-trilogy-and-then-scrapped-themGeorge Lucas is a master storyteller. He understands the nature of the viewer quite well. Some might argue that the message behind Star Wars is really not that intentional and that Lucas simply wanted to tell a story that would translate well on the big screen.  The following article shows a little insight into what Lucas had to say regarding the Star Wars message and his own understanding of what he was actually teaching the audience:

“Lucas, even after Empire, said as much in his story conference talk with scriptwriter Lawrence Kasdan and director Richard Marquand before they started shooting Jedi:

      Kasdan: The Force was available to anyone who could hook into it?
      Lucas: Yes, everybody can do it.
      Kasdan: Not just the Jedi?
      Lucas: It’s just the Jedi who take the time to do it.
      Marquand: They use it as a technique.
      Lucas: Like Yoga. If you want to take the time to do it, you can do it; but the ones that really want to do it are the ones who are into that kind of thing. Also like karate.” http://www.starwars.com/news/so-what-the-heck-are-midi-chlorians

Despite any arguments to the contrary, Lucas most definitely understood what he was doing when he wrote the Star Wars saga. He understood how to to introduce a spiritual message that would appeal to the masses in a very personal way. Unfortunately, it worked.

Point 3: The Main Message

When audiences, both young and old alike, exit the movie theater, there is one simple message they will undoubtedly take with them, “May the force be with you.”  This sounds harmless enough, right?  Wrong! One day I was in another teacher’s classroom after school and her fourth grade son came in. She asked him to help pick up all the music stands and arrange the chairs. After she walked away, he looked at me with his hand stretched out, a smile on his face and remarked, “I wish I could use the Force right now.”  Understandably, he was somewhat just saying he didn’t want to work that hard in rearranging his mom’s classroom, but even though he might not have grasped the implications, he clearly understood the appeal.  After all, wouldn’t it be nice if we could tap into some sort of energy to manipulate both minds and matter to our will?  Oh, the flesh would love it!  We wouldn’t even need to summon a genie out of a lamp to do our bidding. We could actually become the genies and do whatever we wanted.  Isn’t that an appealing message, especially to children!  The apostle Paul, however, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit 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). The message of Star Wars, albeit simple, has been effectively taught with mass appeal and long lasting devotion. 

Point 4: The Main Character

As with all good stories, audiences have favorite Star Wars characters. Some are cute and others are brave. Some are perfect villains and others great victors. But there is arguably one character that rises above the rest; one character without whom the Star Wars story would not be a story at all. That character is the Force.

Star Wars SignThe new movie coming out December 18th, 2015 is number seven in the saga and entitled Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In one of the movie trailers, the voice of Luke Skywalker states, “The Force is strong in my family. My father has it. I have it. My sister has it. You have that power too.”

There are many clues woven throughout the saga as to how the Force actually works, but without getting too in depth, the Force is simply an impersonal energy/power that is neither good nor evil. This amoral Force is nothing new. George Lucas simply borrowed concepts from Hinduism, witchcraft, etc. and repackaged them to appeal to the masses.  Sorcerers, yogis, and shamans have long understood the reality of some power that can be “tapped” into and used to both benefit self and others.

Again, despite those who might think otherwise, the Star Wars Force, although a false replacement for the true God, is neither good nor bad. It is neither right nor wrong. Nor does it really care one way or the other about anything.  The western mind thinks in terms of morality, i.e. good vs. evil, however the Force is actually better understood in line with the yin and yang found in many eastern philosophies and religious practices, i.e. Taoism. The white side (yang) is not necessarily good. It simply is what it is. The black side (yin) is not evil. It is not understood to be anything other than the other side of the yin. Both are actually necessary and neither can be strictly measured morally.

As chapter 8 of the Huainanzi (an ancient Chinese text that consists of a collection of essays) claims:

“Yinyang embodies the harmony of heaven and earth, manifests the forms of myriad things, contains qi to transform the things and completes various kinds of things; yinyang extends and penetrates to the deepest level; begins in emptiness then becomes full and moves in boundless lands.” http://www.iep.utm.edu/yinyang/

This same article also explains, “Yin and yang are the qi [life force]of the universe. These qi flow within the natural as well as the human worlds. Thus qi, a force arising from the interplay between yin and yang, becomes a context in which yinyang is seated and functions.”  In other words, both sides (light and dark) are necessary for the force to properly function and eventually harmonize.  Witchcraft is understood in much the same way. White magik, although supposedly benevolent, is not defined in a morally “good” sense. Nor is black magik inherently evil. However since witchcraft has become so popularized in the west over the last few decades, there has been much westernized confusion mingled into its actual teachings.

One online article states, “Star Wars producer George Lucas said, “The Force is neutral, and it can be used for good or evil… The Force has two sides. It is not a malevolent or benevolent thing. It has a bad side to it involving hate and fear, and it has a good side, involving love, charity, fairness and hope. If you use it well, you can see the future and the past. You can sort of read minds and you can levitate and use that whole netherworld of psychic energy.” [TIME magazine – May 19, 1980]  His description of “the Force” seems to be right out of the occult and witchcraft. Constance Cumbey first alerted Christians to the New Age Movement’s occult association in her book The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow. She refers to Eva Dowling’s comment in a New Age “bible” that “…one may enter fully into the spirit of the ‘God of Force’”, which, in the New Age Movement, is a central spiritual being.  “Force” is a technical term used in witchcraft, which is what the films feature. Black (“bad”) and white (“good”) witchcraft are contrasting uses of the force of nature, which is defined as neutral but can be employed either way.” http://wordandtheworld.homestead.com/StarWars.html

Another online article says, “Christian author Pastor David J. Meyer, once a practicing witch, explains the true meaning of “May the Force be with you.” He wrote: “When real witches have sabats and esbats and meet as a coven, they greet each other by saying “Blessed be”, and when they part, they say “The Force be with you.” Both sides of this “Force” are Satan. It is not a good side of the force that overcomes the bad side of the force, but rather it’s the blood of Jesus Christ that destroys both sides of the satanic Force.”  http://www.vigilantchristian.org/starwars.html

The Star Wars Force is nothing less than the mystical and ancient power that has tied all religions together throughout the centuries.  It is not the same as the personal God of the Bible, but instead the Force provides the potential for people to have their own power as they discover how to tap into this universal power, essentially causing them to ‘evolve’ into their own gods.  This power has no will of its own, nor does it have a mind. Ultimately, who gets to make their own decisions, choosing their own fates and fortunes? We do. The Star Wars Force is really just a repackaged version of the original lie which Satan has been spreading since he first spoke with Eve in the Garden- “You shall be like gods…” (Genesis 3:5). 

The Force is not simply some creative, made-up character to help propel the Star Wars saga. In truth, it is the oldest and most popular of Satan’s lies, the one used to plague and propel billions of people into a horrible, Christ-less eternity.

Interestingly, the Force is actually found in the Bible. In Daniel, the Lord wrote pertaining to the Antichrist, “But in his estate shall he honor the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honor with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things” (Daniel 11:38). [Emphasis mine]  This is the only time this Hebrew word is translated “forces”.  It is perhaps more than a little interesting that the only time God’s Word uses the idea of a false “god of forces” is to describe the Antichrist himself.

Point 5: A Jesus Replacement (An Anitchrist)

There are all sorts of occult ideas riddled throughout much of today’s media/entertainment; however there is a consistent theme routinely employed to pull in audiences. The story usually starts with a child or young adult who is either an orphan or in an environment he/she wants to escape from. The young person soon finds a mentor, or the mentor finds the child. And what is the mentor’s message?  “You’re special. You’re different. You have so much hidden potential within you. You just don’t know it yet. You have the potential to lead people to victory.” It then becomes the mentor’s duty to help the young, naïve child discover how to exercise his/her untapped mystical skills through a variety of eastern practices, i.e. mindless meditation, visualization, etc.  Soon the mentor takes a backseat, letting the student become the leader in some sort of rescue mission to save humanity.

Luke with LightsaberThis kind of message is often confused within Christian communities who are too often looking for ways to build bridges to a lost and deceived world. Over the years there have been a variety of so-called Christian books, Bible studies, and outreaches based on movies such as The Matrix, Star Wars, etc.  When The Matrix was still really popular, I had a seventh grade student who insisted that Neo (the main character in The Matrix; similar to Luke Skywalker) was a type of Jesus.  Plenty of people have made the same incorrect connection with Luke Skywalker.  After all, Luke rises in power to rescue the universe.  But there is one big problem with this conclusion.  In every occult based movie, whether Dune, The Matrix, or Star Wars, the main character rises in power to rescue civilization, but not for the purpose of knowing the personal and loving God who created the universe.  They always rise up with a message of self-discovery leading to self-deliverance which is passed on to others so they too can become their own empowered self-deliverers (gods).

This isn’t the message of the true Jesus Christ, rather the message of the “God of forces”, the Antichrist. This is the message of Satan, and it’s been the same lie since the Garden of Eden!

After peeling away the personalities and general likability of Luke Skywalker, Obi-wan Kenobi, Yoda, other Jedi knights and masters, viewers are left with the clear conclusion that these characters are nothing other than wizards, sorcerers, and priests practicing mysticism in hopes of ascending until they reach their final goal: godhood.  Interestingly, there has been a steady interest and acceptance over the last couple decades in actually developing and practicing a Jedi Knight religion, especially in the UK. It’s being called Jediism and is recognized as an official religion. In the 2010 UK census, almost 200,000 people identified as holding to the teachings of the Jedi Knight. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9737886/Jedi-religion-most-popular-alternative-faith.html. Clearly, many people around the world understand the mystical doctrines which have so very plainly and intentionally been intertwined into the Star Wars storyline.

Sorcery’s rebellious foundations and seductive and dangerously deceptive doctrines all come from devils and are completely opposed to the true Gospel. Because of this, the Lord has understandably given very harsh consequences for those practicing such things.  Carefully consider a few familiar Scriptures:

  • “A man also or woman that has a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death…” Leviticus 20:27.
  • “There shall not be found among you any one that makes his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that uses divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.” Deuteronomy 18:11.
  • “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” 1 Samuel 15:23. [Emphasis mine]
  • “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:21-23. [Emphasis mine]
  • “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8. [Emphasis mine]

Point 6: Altering the Very Character of God

“It’s just a movie” is often the excuse heard when people are confronted with content concerns.  Perhaps we too have essentially said the very same thing, maybe not aloud, but by our actions. While it is clear that movies are a modern form of entertainment, there is nothing that says entertainment is intrinsically harmless. Those who have become addicted to and corrupted by pornography can testify that movies can be much more than just movies. Again movies often contain messages and messages (words) have meaning. Once those messages are embraced, even a little bit, they have at least the very real potential of altering our view of the truth.

Jesus said, “If you stay in My Word, My disciples you will be, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). Ultimately, the goal of God’s Word is to know God.  Jesus taught that the Word of God is the seed which needs to be planted in soft hearts. But the world has seeds as well. The Bible doesn’t have the market cornered on the meaning of life.  There are many false ideas of life and its purpose, all of which emanate from the deepest of all concepts… the character of God Himself.  The highest goal for any human is to truly know God, to understand and know the One who created this universe, the One who rescued humanity by dying for all their sins so we could freely and fully return to Him through His one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is our door, our only door, yet Satan is subtle and knows that in order to keep people from coming he must provide other doors. And to keep Christians for growing closer to our Savior, at least some of those doors must look pretty close to the original.

Specific to Star Wars, since the main character (the Force) is really a pseudo-type of god, the danger with this movie’s message in particular is the potential it has in manipulating viewers’ understanding of the true God revealed in the Bible.  There are many ways of corrupting our understanding of the Lord; however one of the main methods is two-fold: deprivation and supplementation.

If a person is deprived of the truth found in God’s Word he will most likely be much more susceptible to receiving a supplemental replacement.  This won’t necessarily mean a believer replaces his ultimate understanding of the true God for a lie. It does mean that a lie can be introduced as a supplement (in addition to), over time leading to a synthesized (mixed) god.  Some of the believer’s understanding will be biblical and some will not.  This of course is true at some level for all of us since we all deal with the flesh and the world every day; however we should all be seeking to increase our understanding of the true God, not running out to be fed a bunch of amusing lies.

There are several so-called Christian books and articles seeking to make comparisons between the Force and the Lord God of the Bible. The issue here is that although there may be a few similarities between the two, there are also differences and it’s always the differences that make the difference. As within all areas of life, one does not learn to exercise discernment by simply focusing on similarities. We must always examine the differences if we are to actually build our understanding properly.  A doctor never simply looks at what’s right with her patient. She must examine what is wrong if she is to correctly diagnose and treat the person. The same is true for the mechanic, the teacher, the parent, etc.

A few vital differences between the Force and the true God of the Bible:

The Force The True God of the Bible
Impersonal Personal

(John 17, 1 John 5:20)

Part of Creation Outside of Creation

(Genesis 1, John 1:1-3, Col. 1:16)

Not a Savior The one true Savior

(Isaiah 45:21-22, John 3:16-17)

Point 7: The Faith of Feelings

Trusting in our feelings is one of the biggest lies ever sold to humanity. Sadly, we live in a generation that is not only encouraged to embrace their feelings, but celebrate them regardless of how depraved. The moral line that at least used to be outwardly recognized has now been erased and replaced by a much more deceptive and subjective standard – feelings.  There seems to be no part of today’s society that does not tell us to “let our hearts be our guide” and Star Wars is no different. Consider a couple excerpts from the following articles:

“Unraveling Absolutes by focusing on subjective feelings:  “God is perfect and absolutely perfect. Obi-Wan teaches Anakin the concept that absolutes belong on the evil side when he says “Only a Sith deals in absolutes.” As Christians we understand that Jesus was without sin and God is absolutely good. By teaching Anakin absolutes belong on the evil side, Obi-Wan is teaching a Luciferian concept that the God of Moses, absolutely good, is evil.” http://www.vigilantchristian.org/starwars.html

Referring to Obi-Wan’s teacher, the author of Naming a Jedi writes, “He became Qui-Gon Jinn, a powerful Force-adept who relied on his subconscious urges (‘the will of the Force’) to a degree that discomfited those around him, a quality destined to bring both great suffering and, in the end, the salvation of the galaxy. Young Obi-Wan would learn from him a commitment to trusting his instincts, something he would pass on to Luke decades later (‘trust your feelings!’). … “In Star Wars, there is more ambiguity — ‘use the Force’ and ‘use your instincts’ are synonymous, and yet one implies faith in the supernatural and one implies faith in the self. I explain this as two different ways to characterize the intuitive impulses that well from within us….”  Originally from Naming a Jedi. Quoted in- http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/05/star-wars.htm.

While Luke is unsuccessfully learning to use his lightsaber during training, Obi-Wan Kenobi instructs him to cover his eyes and let his mind go blank and simply trust his feelings.  Basically to become an expert in the Force, Luke and all Jedis must cease from thinking and instead put all their trust in their feelings.  There isn’t one single Scripture that even eludes to mankind ever putting trust in their hearts.  There are plenty of verses, however that give very clear reminders of just how deceptive and destructive the human heart truly is. Here are just a few examples:

  • “Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that does good, no, not one.” Psalm 53:3
  • “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9
  • “He that trusts in his own heart is a fool…” Proverbs 28:26a

To See or Not to See (Should you see the movie?) 

Some will say yes. Some will say yes, but then want to point out the errors to their children. Some will say no. No matter what direction people are led, may we choose to be led by the Lord and His Word, not man’s opinions and certainly not our own personal feelings. Job’s reminder to make a heartfelt  covenant with his eyes most definitely applies to every area of our lives, including the entertainment we choose to watch. (Job 31:1)

A few things to consider… Some will choose to see the movie and simply dismiss it as entertainment. Hopefully this article has helped to address enough issues to make it clear that Star Wars is far from simple amusement. For those who might choose to watch the movie with their families and then point out the errors, you may want to evaluate the most beneficial way to teach about the dangerous errors of doctrine and practice. For example, do we take our children to strip clubs or bars to explain the issues of drunkenness and lust? There may be wisdom at times in engaging head on with particular errors, however involving our children, especially our young children in these engagements, is questionable at best.  We also might need to be honest with ourselves, making sure we really want to examine and expose error and not simply find a reason to enjoy a little “entertainment”.

Now what?  What to do from here? 

Although this article is specific to Star Wars, I hope it encourages readers to remember that all media contains messages, many of which are not made for the purpose of glorifying the Lord. Keep praying and studying God’s Word and continue keeping your ear to the ground. There are always new avenues for the enemy to transport his lies; however the lies are typically not that different. Repackaged? Yes. New and improved? Not really.  The basic story in Star Wars is found in many books, movies, and video games.  Don’t be afraid to engage your children. Ask them questions. If they have a favorite show, book, or video game, children typically won’t hesitate to tell you everything about it. Be patient and let the Lord work in their hearts and minds as you continue reading the Word and praying with them.

The goal isn’t so much to get believers to stop doing certain things as it is to get them to keep growing in their love for Jesus. As we draw closer to Jesus, we will always begin to see just how destructive this world really is. As the song goes, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”  Teach your children to understand and know the Lord by studying His Word and personally praying to Him regularly. (1 John 5:20-21) In doing so they will begin to understand they’re not giving anything up by letting go of this world.  After all, it’s difficult to cling to Jesus when both hands are full of the world. But when we see the glory and splendor of our King, how can we do anything less than hold tightly to Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength?  Ultimately, no matter what the influence, it should always boil down to one simple thing… love Jesus more, and love the world less.

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6

A few helpful resource article links: (While the information in the articles below is helpful, we are not necessarily endorsing everything from these ministries. As always, we are all responsible for searching the Scriptures, as well as examining the avenues of Satan’s lies for ourselves.)

 

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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

Jeremiah 29:11 was Cherrie’s and my marriage life verse. It held us through many twists and turns, reminding us to always keep our eyes on Jesus! Hebrews 12:2. For those believing couples struggling through their marriages, please don’t give into the fleshly pride which daily plagues our hearts and minds. Humble wedding rings and bible-noqHyourselves, preferring one another above your own desires. Romans 12:9-10, James 4:10. Submit to the Lord, not your feelings. James 4:8. Draw near to God! James 4:7.  Keep your eyes on Jesus. Hebrews 12:2. Pray that the Lord will give you His eyes and heart toward your spouse. John 13:34. Be slow to speak and quick to listen. James 1:19. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Ephesians 4:26. Love one another as Christ has loved you. John 13:34. Let Jesus be the Head.  Colossians 1:18. Be a minister to your spouse. 1 Timothy 4:6. Work harder at your marriage than your job! Colossians 3:23-24. God’s mercies are new every morning. Lamentations 3:22-23. So should it be with us. Be merciful, slow to anger, letting the peace of God rule your heart. Proverbs 14:29, Colossians 3:15. Let the Lord’s Light examine you and examine yourself. Psalm 26:2, 2 Corinthians 13:5. Take the log out of your eye so you can lovingly remove the speck in your spouse’s. Luke 6:42.

Think of this… If you got a call right now that your spouse was being held hostage, would you be filled with a desire to pray and lovingly rescue him/her?  Remember that love. Remember we are all broken sinners saved by the grace of Jesus Christ alone. Ephesians 2:8-9, 1 Timothy 1:15-16. Be tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32. Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2. Then when the burdens get heavy, remember to let Jesus bear them. Look at Him and learn of Him. His yoke is easy and His burden light. Matthew 11:30. Do not worry, instead seek first the Kingdom of God. Matthew 6:23.

Remember, we don’t live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4, Luke 4:4. Just as we should sit together over dinner, so sit together over the Word. Feast regularly and consistently on God’s Word both independently and as a couple. Psalm 34:8. Let Jesus be in the midst. Matthew 18:20. Let the Holy Spirit, not worldly methodologies or psychologies and philosophies be your teacher. 1 John 2:27. Let Jesus be the One who renews and transforms you and your marriage.  Romans 12:2, Titus 3:4-7.

Earnestly pray for one another (even when you don’t feel like it) and pray together. James 5:16. It’s hard to be mad at someone you pray for and pray with. Pray, pray, and then pray some more!!! Romans 8:261 Thessalonians 5:17. Remember, your marriage is a microcosm of Jesus and His bride, the church. Ephesians 5:25-33. Just as He has nurtured and bound together born again believers around the world for centuries, so must He be the One who knits you as one. Ephesians 4:16, Colossians 2:2-3.

Stick with it. Don’t grow weary in doing well. Galatians 6:9, 2 Thessalonians 3:13. Don’t believe the lies of this world, of self, or the enemy of our souls. John 8:44. He only seeks to kill, steal and destroy. His pleasure is in tearing down, not building up. Jesus came so we could have abundant spiritual life in Him. John 10:10, John 15.

Hang tight to Jesus and again, never stop praying for one another. Romans 8:26, 1 Thessalonians 5:25, James 5:16. You are not stuck when you’re abiding in Christ.  Trust in Him!  2 Samuel 22:31, Psalm 18:2. Let Jesus be your comfort, not your spouse. Psalm 119:76, Isaiah 12:1, Acts 9:31, Romans 15:4.  Let Jesus be the One who brings fulfillment. 1 Corinthians 15:28.  Remember, Jesus came to save, not destroy.  Luke 9:56, John 10:10. Let Him do His marvelous work. Let patience have her perfect work. James 1:4. Be bold. Speak the truth, but always in love. Ephesians 4:15. Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you! Psalm 55:22, 1 Peter 5:7. Don’t lose heart. 2 Corinthians 4:16. Jesus has overcome the world!  John 16:33, 1 John 5:4.

“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:12-17

Entertainment-ChristianityWhen considering wolves in sheep’s clothing, we might envision some slick-haired salesman lugging his box of snake oil from house to house. Yet too often nothing could be further from the truth.  There are many warnings from Scripture admonishing the saints to pay careful attention as we traverse through this planet’s deadly terrain. We are instructed not to believe every spirit, but to test the spirits (Jeremiah 29:9; Matthew 7:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1) indicating that the enemy of our souls is very good at keeping up appearances.  Sometimes it’s not only difficult to detect a false teaching or teacher, but often it’s even more difficult to come to grips with the notion that an inspiring, talented, enthusiastic young adult might actually be used as a mouthpiece of Satan.

Granted, we should use godly wisdom in discerning whether a person leading others in the enemy’s lies is simply misguided or really out to deceive and destroy. The times in which we live are most definitely filled with muddied waters. God’s Word clearly indicates there are a growing number that are not only deceiving, but also being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:13)  There are those who actually believe they are doing God’s business (John 16:2) when, in fact, it is the god of this world they are serving. This brief article will not deal too much with the latter, but instead will hopefully serve as a warning and an encouragement in examining one very defined avenue of lies presented by one specific person.

Let it also be said that in today’s lukewarm Christian climate, there is a powerful embrace and strong misunderstanding regarding the “live and let live” philosophy pervading every facet of our earthly existence. Instead of being the new and improved super highway it’s cracked up to be, this broad road of tolerance is in actuality paved with the blood of the saints.  Over the years, many have given their lives for the Gospel’s sake and yet today, there are whole segments of professing Christianity unwilling to take a stand on the exclusivity of eternal life found in Jesus Christ. They are however all too ready and willing to embrace a vast array of wickedness and deceptive darkness in order to display their friendship with the world; all in the name of tolerance (and enlightenment).

Jesus, however, had a much different proclamation regarding the fellowship of darkness and light.  His prayer to the Father was that we would be in the world, but not of it. John 17:15. We’re also reminded that “friendship with the world is enmity (hatred) toward God.” James 4:4. How can there be true fellowship between light and darkness? Yes, we should be friendly, but never friends with this world and it’s dark philosophies and practices. How can light embrace the darkness and still call itself light?

It was stated above that it’s sometimes most difficult to come to grips with the fact that certain personalities might actually be leading others in a false direction.  Any good salesman knows that one of his most powerful tools is his own personality.  Not to say there’s anything necessarily wrong with working on having a pleasant personality, but we all know there are certain dispositions in which people tend to gravitate.  Someone peddling falsehood with an unlikable attitude might be easily dismissed, even exposed.  But someone who comes across genuine, someone energetic and interesting to listen to, perhaps even musically or artistically talented might be much more difficult to detect and even harder to speak out against.

Society has always been a lover and worshipper of man’s wisdom, strength, and wealth. Unfortunately, much of today’s Christianity is not much different.  We prop up certain actors, pastors, and speakers on billboards, Christian magazine covers, TV segments, and in bookstores. They are looked up to as our heroes and heroines, giving them the seats of honor within our hearts and minds, forgetting it is God alone that deserves all the glory, honor, and praise.  Some of these people are given full and free access to the pulpit, allowing the sheep to be fleeced and fed worldly manna over and over, causing them to grow anemic and impotent against this world and its destructive methods. Instead of reminding the sheep of the hope we have in Heaven, too often these false teachings encourage listeners to grow their roots deep into this planet, letting go of their heavenly hopes. Of course this is not true of all those on the “stage” today, but one thing is for sure, Christians are not immune from the power of personalities.

As saints, we are set apart for the service of our King, not those who set themselves up as earthly authorities.  Sadly, too many churches have started much in part because of one person’s magnetic personality.  As believers, we are not to sit idly by in our labor of love unto the Lord, nor are we to sit in silence, quietly giving approval to falsehood proclaimed to the masses.  Are we not called by God to expose the works of darkness?  Ephesians 5:11. Are we not called to reprove, correct, and exhort with all longsuffering?  2 Timothy 4:2  This world is daily peddling its false doctrines to the church and we too often just politely smile. Over time the church has become an unwitting participant in receiving and assisting in the circulation of their snake oil.  May we diligently ask the Lord to remove our dull hearing and blind eyes and instead give us careful, discerning hearts and minds to detect those things that are sometimes difficult to see and hear.  May we ask the Lord to give us a love for the truth, a love for Jesus Christ!  May we desire to earnestly feast on His Word, spiritually fasting from this world!

The world lines up to have its flesh entertained, loving pleasure more that God, and sadly God’s people too often love to have it so.  Church meetings have not remained a time for the saints to gather and proclaim the glory of God, but rather a place we go once a week to be entertained.  We might as well sell soda and popcorn at the doorways.  We go to our movie theaters and concerts on Friday nights and then expect the same show on Sunday mornings.

Above were mentioned some of the positions lifted up in today’s Christian world, but one was intentionally omitted. It is arguably one of the most powerful positions in the Christian world today.  It is the title of “Worship Leader”. This person, perhaps even more than the pastor, has the power to “prime” and direct the audience week after week.  This article is not meant to address the many facets of worship, however suffice it to say that music is an extremely powerful tool, one that can easily access the soul, often bypassing logic and reason.  Perhaps more than any other medium, music is the vehicle most often chosen to drive an audience in a particular direction.  If you disagree, try watching any cinematic masterpiece with the sound off.  You cannot go to just about any retail restaurant or popular clothing store without being bombarded with music.  And not only is it a powerful main character in the world of entertainment and marketing, but it’s also a tremendous tool in promoting false doctrine and seductive spiritual counterfeits around the world.

Some musicians propped up and circulated by today’s “Christian” platforms and pulpits are at best novices in the faith, puffed up through the adoration and accolades of men, while others are truly false teachers masquerading as angels of light.  Sadly, due to their talent and strong stage presence countless thousands within the body of Christ have found themselves distracted and directed by the darkness derived from the spirit of this world.  What is perhaps most troubling is the readiness by which so many musicians and worship leaders are received and promoted regardless of their lifestyles, doctrines, and associations.  Mature pastors and elders within the body should know better, however too often they are the ones promoting and even hosting concerts and conferences that help sow the seeds of this world’s teachings of tolerance, fleshly faith, and false unity.

It’s bad enough to be peddling snake oil, selling some worthless, yet benign elixir to the masses.  How much worse to be packaging and promoting a product that not only doesn’t work, but in all actuality is poisonous to all who partake?  The remainder of this article will examine one such peddler, yet it is not the intent here to examine his motives but rather the facts at hand.  As with any persuasive and positive personality, it will perhaps become easy for readers to misunderstand the intent behind the remainder of the article.  There is no desire to malign on a personal level nor is there any desire to disparage this musician’s character or perceived intent; however there is clearly a destructive message being sold to the masses, often to the most vulnerable, the youth within the visible church at large.  The person in question is musician and evangelist, Matt Maher.

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Matt has been propped up and promoted around the world as a Christian singer and songwriter and is currently touring cross country with the several well known groups in “The Rock and Worship Road Tour”.  Matt hasmattmaher both written songs for himself, as well as for several within the Christian community.  Perhaps one of his most recognizable songs is “Your Grace is Enough” which was released a few years ago and quickly accepted within Christians circles around the world.

Matt has written songs for well-recognized Christian musicians such as Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin (i.e. I Will Rise), Philips, Craig, and Dean, and Bethany Dillon. Regardless of their mixed doctrinal beliefs, especially concerning eschatology (end times); all of these artists are some of the most instrumental in producing today’s worship music. They are embraced by churches around the world.  Needless to say, they have many avenues already paved, readily accessing the hearts and minds of listeners across the globe.  How easy it is for a false teaching or teacher to hop aboard, sharing lies that will lead listeners astray?

Although Matt Mahar is a talented musician with a warm and humble persona, although he is warmly embraced and promote by the well known performers such as Chris Tomlin and Third Day’s Mac Powell, he is far from a follower of the true Jesus Christ.  But please don’t take this writer’s opinion for it.  Here are just a few facts from recent years.

First consider Matt’s own words. He admittedly considers himself much more than just a talented worship leader. He sees himself as a music missionary. He was recently quoted to say, “It’s funny but more and more I see myself as an apologist and as an evangelist.  Songs are my tool.” From the same article, Matt was quoted to say, “I would love for them to not be thinking about me but to be thinking about God.  My hope is that they would have an encounter with God.  I hope it isn’t about the person writing and singing the song.  My hope is that the music would just whisk them away to a holy place.  That is my heart more than anything.” (Full interview link below)

On the surface that might sound biblical, but is he really referring to the Christian God? It is important to examine what else He has said and done.  Matt has not only given interviews for magazines and websites, but he’s also done many performances for a variety of venues. He has played and spoken at many Roman Catholic events including such prestigious gatherings as the World Youth Day.  Readers may or may not know that Matt has never claimed to be a Bible believing, born again Christian. He is Roman Catholic, through and through.

He does not try to, in any way, shape, or form, hide his love for the Roman Catholic church and its many false doctrines.  In one of his popular Roman Catholic songs entitled “The End and The Beginning”, he wrote, “If everything that the Roman Catholic Church taught were true what difference would it make in our lives? We believe that in every single Mass, through the power of the Holy Spirit, that the bread and the wine are transformed into the Flesh and the Blood of Jesus. Transubstantiation – Heaven kisses earth. We become a living tabernacle. So wisdom, be attentive. Steady my shaken mind. Let this be my reality. More than just bread and wine…”  This alone should be enough to convince anyone that Matt is at best a professing Christian. In reality, he is a devoted practicing Roman Catholic.

Even though this article is not meant to focus on the false gospel of Rome, it is important to at least point out the glaring difference between the true Gospel of Jesus and the false gospel of Rome. According to Rome’s official doctrines, anyone who believes he is saved by grace alone through faith alone is accursed, that is damned to hell.  (Council of Trent, Canon 12- “If any one shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified . . . let him be accursed.”) In order for someone to enter Rome’s heaven, he must not, as the Bible teaches, simply place his faith in the full, free, and finished work of Jesus. (Romans 3:20-28). Instead he is taught that sin is removed little by little, week after week through a series of rituals such as partaking of the Eucharist, reciting rote prayers, etc. Below are several You Tube links of Matt Mahar and his connections to Roman Catholicism, along with a couple other links as well.

Sadly, Matt has been warmly embraced by all variety of well-known Christian artists such as Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Mac Powell, and Philips, Craig, and Dean. Currently Matt is touring with several artists in “The Rock and Worship Road Show”, singing, speaking, and ministering to literally hundreds of thousands across the country. Some of the other artists on the tour include David Crowder, Jamie Grace, and Mercy Me. (Incidentally, the “Road Show” will be performing in Phoenix on March 22nd.)  Matt also recently made a guest appearance for Third Day’s concert at the Beacon Theater in New York City on March 3rd.

There are those in the Christian music world, such as Dan Haseltine from Jars of Clay, that don’t want to be held accountable for doctrinal errors they share, believing musicians should not be looked up to as teachers. This is dangerous enough. How much worse when an unbeliever dressed in wooly clothes sincerely sees himself as an evangelist and his music simply as his tool?  The question must be lovingly asked, of what does Matt considers himself an evangelist?  He clearly understands and supports Roman Catholicism. He clearly believes in the unbiblical idea that Eucharist has the power to cleanse partakers of their sins.  He most definitely embraces and encourages the practice of Rome’s false gospel to millions of youth and adults alike.  He has made no effort to hide any of this and yet, thanks to assistance of the Christian music world, his message and evangelistic crusade now have full access to the hearts and minds of tens of thousands within the true body of Christ.  How tragic!  Which is worse, the person openly promoting his false gospel or those claiming to know the true Gospel who hand him the keys to the front door?

So what are we to do? As far as I can see, there are three choices.  First, we could embrace Roman Catholicism and all of its false religious teachings, supporting it and saying nothing to all those who are being led astray.  Or we could choose to agree that Rome’s gospel is false, but still support the songs of artists such as Matt Mahar because they at least sound “Christian”.  The challenges in this article to identify the dangers of personality probably most apply to those who lean toward this second option.  Too often those who privately understand the falsehood of Rome’s gospel, will still support and even promote artists such as Matt Mahar because their music sounds so “Christian” and they seem so religious and sincere.

May we never forget when Rome speaks of God’s grace it has a completely unbiblical definition for it.  When Matt sings “Your grace is enough”, the Roman Catholic will inject his own traditional definition for grace, not the biblical one.  Rome teaches grace, but in order to enjoy and apply God’s grace, one MUST go to the Roman Catholic church time after time, partaking of its rituals and religious traditions such as the Eucharist.  Unfortunately, we too often make the mistake of assuming others have the same definitions as us. It is always important we listen carefully to what people are actually saying in order to discern truth from error, weighing everything against God’s Word.

Our third choice is one that many may find most difficult.  In Ephesians 5, Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit reminds us, “For you were sometimes darkness, but now are you light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Ephesians 5:8-11.  Not only are we instructed not to participate in those activities that promote false doctrines, we are also to lovingly, yet truthfully expose them.  This is the avenue that will often cause the most controversy. Darkness does not enjoy the light, nor do lies embrace the complete truth.  Of course, it goes without says that we are to always speak the truth in love, with the Lord’s peace and joy in our hearts, knowing it is His Word, not ours, that effectually works in the hearts and minds of broken and contrite men.

May this article both serve to instruct and encourage true saints to continue fighting the good fight of faith, never growing weary in doing well.  Remember, it is the Lord who goes before and behind. May we never lose sight of Him, having the sole intention of pointing everyone to Jesus Christ, and Him alone.  That might mean exposing and correcting from time to time. That might mean naming names once and a while. It might mean not going along with the popular Christian crowd, but in the end what could be greater than knowing we have chosen to make Jesus our one and only treasure now and forever?

“Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God…For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” 2 Corinthians 4:1-7 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in Heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see Him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:3-9

Matt Mahar Interview Article:  http://www.religionnews.com/2013/05/17/catholic-rocker-matt-maher-finds-cross-over-appeal-among-evangelicals/

More on Roman Catholicism: http://www.once-lost.com/ggapologetics/catholicism

More on Worship: https://unityinthetruth.com/2010/10/03/as-we-worship/

You Tube Videos: Matt Mahar, Roman Catholicism, and the New Evangelicalism

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eX5BeXkNZU LI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3rjEmPxcLI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ky0g_9dyhbU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIgGHA27nG4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYR_sZRv_c4

acquire-the-fireSadly, there is a very real spiritual battle that many are too happy to gloss right over. Many Christian parents and teachers earnestly desire to see their children interested in the things of the Lord, but sometimes feel like they don’t have the right tools to keep their interest once children have reached a certain age. So the search begins.  It’s at this point that priorities shift in the criteria for resources and church fellowships that are sought after.  “We need a church and materials that will hold my child’s interest, ones that he will really like.”  Of course this isn’t in and of itself completely bad, but there is definitely more to the story.

If a young teenager has only been lightly trained in his understanding of God’s Word, what kind of youth group will he most likely be drawn to?  As parents of young children, we don’t turn and say to our children, “What would you prefer to eat first, dessert or the main meal?”  No, we hopefully train our children to understand that there are priorities in eating.  First we eat our main course, including the vegetables, then go from there.  Although, perhaps a simple example, the same can be said for training our children in their activities with the Lord.

When looking for a church, our first priority ought always be to pray for the Lord’s leading.  Then there should be an honest desire to find a fellowship that has a strong emphasis on teaching the Word of God in such a way that promotes discernment, building the youth’s understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ.  If this is done correctly, the rest should really work itself out.  Even if it means missing out on church once and a while, parents should also stop in to visit their children’s Sunday school and/or youth group meetings on a semi-regular basis.  Also, keep an open communication with your children and their teachers to see what they’re really learning from week to week. After all, you’re to ones the Lord has made most responsible for training your family. Don’t pass that privilege off to someone else!  Lastly, pray some more!  Never forget there is a very real battle to influence the hearts and minds of this upcoming generation.  Children are much easier to influence and once they are trained, it is difficult (albeit not impossible) to retrain them later.

While millions of young people around the world are staying busy week by week being entertained “in the name of Jesus”, there is a very real push to rewrite the messages they are hearing.  Regardless of what many of them profess, too many Sunday schools and youth groups rely much more on some company’s curriculum or training materials than the Word of God.  This is why it is important to know what your children are learning.  Many so-called Christian curriculum companies understand the money that can be made on selling their products to a large audience, so naturally in order to continue increasing their sales base, the message will have to appeal to as many as possible. And ever deeper than this, there is a very real desire to creatively and carefully move this generation off the firm foundation of the Word of God to the shifting sands of this world’s ecumenical doctrines.

We would be fools to believe the church is immune to the direction this world is headed.  It really is up to every parent and Godly teacher to become informed, exercising Christ-centered discernment in training the youth of today!  Below is a short, but very insightful article which gives a little background of one such group.  Youth Specialties has been around for 40 years and is involved in publishing books, organizing youth training and music events and camps around the world, as well as developing youth curriculum for churches and youth groups. Please take a few minutes to prayerfully read over this article.

Article:   SHAPING THE MINDS OF YOUTH   by Roger Oakland

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4

“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. ” 1 John 5:20-21

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

“Then the little children were brought to [Jesus] that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:13-14

Boy Reading the holy bible“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 

As parents and teachers, we have so many balls in the air at any given time, losing track of what’s most important can happen quickly. With all the business of our days, it’s easy to let too many opportunities slip by. With the eternal destinies of this next generation at stake, it’s this author’s opinion that we, as Christians, should not only make good use of the many teachable moments, but we should also be THE most intentional in actually making opportunities to biblically train those we’ve been entrusted with by the Lord.  Before entering their land, the Lord through Joshua commanded the priests to set up stones. Why? These stones would be used as an opportunity to generate discussion and training for the next generation of Israel. “That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?” Joshua 4:6.  If the Lord can use stones to remind Israel’s children and fathers of His greatness and glory, how much more so His Word!

With this in mind and Resurrection Sunday literally right around the corner, there are several activity ideas included below that might serve as intentional and biblical teaching opportunities for years to come. Perhaps some of these family ideas could even replace those traditional “Easter” children’s activities, too many of which have really nothing to do with Resurrection Day.

1. Clue Hunt- Choose several key Resurrection prophecies, print them out, fold and place them in little plastic tupperware containers and hide them around the house or yard. Have children search for them, then put the verses in Bible book order. Later look them up and even find the New Testament fulfillment verses. Talk about why true clues (prophecies) are so important in trusting God’s Word.

The following link serves as a great resource containing many of Jesus’ Old Testament prophecies and their New Testament fulfillment — https://unityinthetruth.com/2017/04/22/old-testament-prophecies-of-jesus-christ-prophecy-as-proof/.

2. Find the Lamb- Purchase a small stuffed lamb or print a picture of a lamb. Look up several of the main Old Testament and New Testament verses referring to The Lamb. Starting on Palm Sunday, put the Lamb in different rooms of your house. Do not hide it. Remember, starting on what we call Palm Sunday (Nisan 10), the Jewish people were bringing lambs to Jerusalem to be observed until they were killed on the 14th. Jesus was coming not to hide, but to be observed and found sinless.Lamb on Rock

For each location you move the lamb, include one of the Lamb verses. Once someone finds the Lamb, he/she will get to read the verse at breakfast or dinner, then discuss it further as the Lord leads. (Some of the main “Lamb” verses in the Bible- John 1:36, Genesis 3:21( Possibly a lamb was killed to cloth Adam and Eve), Genesis 22:7-8, Exodus 12:5-6, Psalm 23:1-6, Isaiah 53:7, 1 Peter 1:19, Revelation 5:11-13, Revelation 7:10, Revelation 12:11, Revelation 15:3, Revelation 19:9, Revelation 21:22-23,27, Revelation 22:3, John 3:16)

Also consider playing the following song- “You are My All in All“. It’s a great reminder of  Jesus being the Lamb of God and our All in All.

Author’s Note: When showing cartoon or live action movies portraying Bible accounts, please use wisdom and discernment. Many Bible movies claim to be about Jesus, however actors of Jesus are not Jesus. We do not know what Jesus looked like, plus He no longer looks like He did while He was here. We definitely don’t want to unintentionally put a false image in place of the true Jesus revealed to us by His Holy Spirit as we read His Word. Also, we must be careful to explain to children that there are always subjective dialog and events in Bible movies that are additions to Scripture in order to make a Bible account make sense as a film. Ultimately, make sure your children understand what is actually in God’s Word.

3. Set it Straight- Choose small sections of the last few weeks of Jesus’ life prior to His crucifixion. Print them out and cut each part, then put them in a bag. Shake the bag to mix them up and then dump out the verses. Have one person or a group put the events in order. Time each group to see how quickly they can do it.(Possible reference chapters to choose events from: Matthew 19-28, Mark 13-16, Luke 18-24, John 12, 18-21.)

4. Match ‘Em Up- To keep from getting lost we need to know our addresses. Print out several New Testament fulfillment verses and their addresses surrounding Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, betrayal, arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection. See the link for Activity 1- Clue Hunt.  Print and then cut out each of the verses and addresses separately. Mix them up in a shoe box or bag. Work in groups to match up the verses and addresses. Time each person or group to see who can do it the fastest.

5. Focusing on Passover– Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was paralleled with the Jewish Passover. He entered Jerusalem on the same day as the lambs for Passover, Nisan 10. He was crucified on the same day as the sacrifices on Nisan 14. (For one audio article touching on some of this information, go to: Was Palm Sunday a Fulfillment of Prophecy?)

6. Greatest Prophecies! With older kids, take time to explore two of the Bible’s most amazing prophecies- Isaiah 53 and Daniel 9. To begin further study on these two chapters, go to- The Doctrine of Salvation in the Book of Isaiah and Daniel 9:25 Q & A

7. The Last Adam Video by: Answers in Genesis/The Creation Museum. This excellent 15 minute video focuses on Jesus being the Last Adam. It is definitely worth watching as a family.  It is both tastefully and biblically done. You may want to watch ahead of time to determine if it’s appropriate for your younger children.  Go to: The Last Adam video OldRuggedCross_B&W(15:00)

Interestingly, the children involved in these activities won’t be the only ones growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we, as adults, read through the Scriptures, prayerfully planning the activities in hopes of training young people, it is inevitable that we will grow as well.

“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 couple other articles on biblical prophecy to encourage and bolster our own understanding: 

 

 

bible-verses-about-love“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

The Origin: I wonder how many of us when asked to describe what Jesus looks like would immediately describe a man with long hair in a white robe, wearing sandals and walking the dusty roads of Galilee?  If this is the first idea that comes to mind, then we should ask ourselves where these kinds of images have originated from.  The Word itself says very little about what Jesus looked like. Obviously there are certain things we can deduce, but over all, the Bible spends almost no time explaining Jesus’ appearance, i.e. His height, exact hair color, etc. Clearly, we get most of our images of Jesus from the images made by men, not the Word.  

A Couple of Questions: If we take away every image, static or animated, would our understanding of Jesus be deficient? On the other hand, if we take away God’s Word, how deficient would we be?  Although many claim the images of Jesus are helpful in building one’s understanding, may we never forget the disciples saw Him face to face for over three years and constantly struggled with their understanding of Jesus. Only after Jesus was raised from the dead and opened their understanding could they begin to “see” Him according to the Scriptures.  “Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures…” Luke 24:45.

A Limited Perspective: It’s been accurately said that whatever way an artist depicts “Jesus” will only limit the viewer’s overall understanding.  For example, if someone paints a strong Jesus, the viewer will focus on only one aspect of the glorious Savior.  The same is true for the many other “Jesus” portraits, i.e. crying Jesus, weak Jesus, compassionate Jesus, etc.  At best, an image will provide a shallow, limited perspective of just how great God really is.  At worst, it will seductively lead people away from the truth altogether, encouraging the viewer to seek more images and less of the Word.  This, although not always intentional, is a tragic result nonetheless!  

Lest We Forget: Jesus no longer even looks like He did when He walked as a man some 2,000 years ago. After He rose from the grave, He had a different appearance altogether. To take it even further, let’s carefully consider how Jesus was described in the Book of Revelation, the glorified Jesus who John saw and fell down as dead.  The most accurate understanding of the eternal, glorified Jesus is found in the heavenly perspective, not what He looked like two millennia ago. “And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; and His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shines in His strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last, I am He that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Revelation 1:13-18  Keeping in mind many of these are character descriptions, they still reveal Jesus in His awesome, glorified, and eternal state. Interestingly, the Scriptures speak much more in depth concerning Jesus’ appearance in Heaven than while He ministered in His earthly tent. 

The BIG “Picture”: The Apostle Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gives every believer a wonderful hope, “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.” 1 Corinthians 13:12   There is much more to Jesus than meets “the eye”. We are so willing to picture Jesus as a man, which He fully is, but may we never forget He is also fully God and is coming back very soon in the clouds to call His children to their eternal home in the heavens! Jesus is called the Word, not the image, of God for a very important reason.  If we want our understanding to grow, we must go to His Word!  So until He returns, may we continually remain in Him, seeking to understand and know Jesus Christ by carefully studying and obeying His glorious and eternal Word!

“Sanctify them through Thy truth: The word is truth.” John 17:17

“The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding unto the simple.” Psalm 119:130

“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. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” 1 John 5:20-21 

To Give and to Get

imageCould life be boiled down to two simple words – giving and getting? Just think of how much of life is spent getting. How many different places throughout the day do we go to get things? We get groceries, we get gas, we get food. We get products, and etc., and etc.

Throughout each day we also give. At work, we give our time, we give our effort, and often give a product. At home we give our attention and affection. So much of life is simply spent getting and giving.

As we go to the Word of God,  may we never forget we are here to give the Lord our hearts and minds, desirous to always get more of Him! We must give ourselves away, taking up the cross daily, following hard after Him.

As we go to the Scriptures may we never forget that wisdom is the principle thing therefore we should get wisdom and with all our getting, we should also get understanding. (Proverbs 4:7) Jesus Christ has come to give us understanding so that we may get to know Him who is true and we are in Him who is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true and Living God. (1 John 5:20)

Jesus came to give Himself away, out of love for the Father and for us. We must get, that is to say we must receive Him and once we receive Him, the Holy Spirit inspires us to go and give Him away to others so they may get the truth as well.

Getting and giving, two simple words that seem to summarize each and every day. Let us be mindful of what we are spending our hearts and minds on,  knowing that our getting will effect our giving and our giving will effect our getting, all for the glory of God!

“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him… ” Ephesians 1:17

Why Did Jesus Come?

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.comWhy did Jesus ultimately choose to be born, crucified, and three days later rise from the dead? Not to sound heretical, but ultimately Jesus did not come to merely die for our sins. I believe God’s Word points to a much grander plan.

Too often a prisoner who has spent many years in prison, once released, has a difficult time acclimating to freedom. Ultimately a prisoner is not released just to be released. He is set free to live a new life of freedom operating under a new perspective of how to utilize that liberty. So it is with the forgiven sinner.

Often we are so excited we’ve been released from our prison of sinful selfishness, but then don’t know what to do next. We, in a sense, are standing just outside the prison walls, unsure what steps to take next. So instead of stepping out in faith, we set up camp where we are, never truly enjoying new life in Christ. Jesus reminds us, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

We are redeemed, we are set free not just to be set free, but so we can for first time freely begin to understand and know the Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ. “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

So, yes Jesus came and died for our sins, but ultimately He came to do so much more. May we pull up our stakes from the prison walls and begin stepping out in faith, fully assured of our high calling in Christ Jesus! May we seek to continue growing in the understanding of our Glorious Redeemer and also boldly and lovingly make Him know to those both stuck in prison and those who have pitched their tents just outside its walls.

 

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