Tag Archive: Colossians 1


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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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

A Palette of Pageantry

Church EventWhy do we get so excited about the outward business and activity of the visible church yet often have so little thought or joy concerning the Lord’s eternal work within the inner man?

In the unseen heart and mind the Lord continues transforming and renewing the broken and weak into His victorious and sanctified saints. He mysteriously and gloriously plants His Eternal Word into all who are willing, breathes His breath within, and by His power, the Seed grows and grows, producing eternal fruit to both nourish that very person and those hungry and weary travelers he meets along the way.

Much of this amazing work takes place in the unseen realm, only becoming visible over periods of time. This is the godly life made known in and through true believers! This is what Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, called the mystery of godliness, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27

This is truly the marvelous work of the invisible God, yet instead of joyfully walking by faith, we too often choose to walk by sight; becoming enamored with the outward accouterments and pomp now calling itself the (post)modern church.

Sadly, many have traded the desire to marvel and rejoice over the inward work of the Holy Spirit for a palette filled with the pleasantries of outward pageantry. Instead, let us return to the old paths. Let us truly taste and see that the Lord is good! (Jeremiah 6:16; Psalm 34:8)Bible Light Bulb Image

“Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently: being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides forever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower thereof falls away: but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” 1 Peter 1:22-25

Eternity is Not a Movie

kids-watching-tvAs a child, I remember watching movies with my parents, often waiting for the moment my dad would call out some part that made no sense to him.  “Why would that person really do that?” or “There’s no way that person could still be alive after falling that far!” and other like phrases were regularly interjected into the storyline courtesy of my dad’s critical mind.  His comments were not very helpful and definitely became a distraction throughout our family film nights.  A loving, but slightly irritated “Shhh…” was a common addition at the end of each remark.

When viewing a movie, it’s hopefully obvious to most that the scenes in the script often times don’t happen in real life. That, of course, is the point of many storylines. But to my dad, it was almost like a game to see if he could catch things that didn’t make sense.  In reality, does it really matter in a fictional story if a person makes an unrealistic choice to further the plot line?  To my dad it sure did, however to most people, probably not.  And although movies can be very powerful vehicles for teaching false beliefs, for a writer to have a character make a few illogical decisions that add a little extra drama or to move the storyline along is nothing more than what happens in a make believe story written by men.

I can’t help but wonder if there are those within the church who view those willing to point out the error running rampant throughout today’s professing Christianity the same way.  I wonder if many see those moved to lovingly warn and teach the truth of God’s Word as distractions from the unfolding story of today’s ecumenical enigma calling itself Christianity? Too often, I believe those willing to thoughtfully and biblically point out the dangers coming into the church are thought of somewhat like the peanut gallery, like movie critics talking about things that don’t quite matter. But is that really the case? There’s literally a plotline penned by the enemy for this dark and dying world and sadly many Christians are playing a part in the story.

The enemy of our souls desires to see the entire world reject the True and Living God, however those who are born again are kept by the power of God and are sealed by the Holy Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing their entrance into the Kingdom of God.  (2 Corinthians 1:22, 2 Corinthians 5:5, Ephesians 1:141 Peter 1:5) So what is an enemy to do with those who he cannot keep from eternal life?  The answer is simple- make them as ineffective as possible. Confusion and subterfuge are both starring roles in his script.

One of Satan’s many seductive strategies in keeping saints sedentary is promoting a plotline of Scripture synthesized with his own diabolical doctrines. The title might be something like “New and Improved Christianity-Joining Hands with the World”. Thankfully, some within the body of Christ do see the last days plan for an integrated and seductive move to ecumenism and are greatly saddened to watch some who are even part of the true body of Christ seeking after the enemy’s goals. For those who have become seduced by Satan’s synthesized storyline, it’s as if those warning the saints are simply viewed as antagonists interrupting their comfortable entertainment. May we instead return to the old paths, to the Word of God alone! May we diligently seek to understand the true direction of this world and the post-modern church.

When a person has been truly born again by the Spirit of God, passing from death to life through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, a new “story” is brought to light, one revealing a very real contrast between the True and Living God and the god of this world. In the script revealed in Scripture, one role that repeatedly enters the scene is the watchman always willing to warn when danger approaches. (Psalm 127:1, Isaiah 21:6, Ezekiel 3:17, Ezekiel 33:2,6,7)  The watchman should not be “cast” by only a select few. In fact, the heart of a watchman should, at some degree, be within every believer. After all, same Spirit of the Lord that came upon the watchmen of the Old Testament is the same Holy Spirit indwelling all New Testament saints. The Spirit Himself is the Spirit of Truth, and Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit without measure, often warned those around Him, especially those claiming to be the religious rulers.

Rather than being viewed as an annoying critic, always pointing out incidentals and nitpicking at gnats, the role of warning the flock is one that is central throughout Scripture. To love the truth of God’s Word means we are going to hate evil, lovingly exposing the doctrines and practices that have the potential to cause the body to remain anemic, unable to grow and be strong in the Lord.  In Ephesians 5, the Holy Spirit through Paul writes, “[H]ave no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” Eph. 5:11. Again in Colossians 1 it says, “[Jesus] we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” Colossians 1:28.IMG_12017981708482 May we never allow the spirit of the age, the prince of the power of the air, to dissuade us from the high calling we have in Christ Jesus!

Although we all have different roles within the body of Christ, we are all called to grow in every area. Sure, some may have the gift of helps, but we are all called to be helpful. Some are given the gift of evangelism, however we are all called to share the good news of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Do we not even train our children to recognize the signs of danger?  Why? So we can teach them to be nitpicky and critical of everything around them?  No. We teach them to understand the signs so they remain safe and healthy and can continue growing with a mind that can think critically, as well as carefully and discerningly navigate the world around them. We should always desire to allow the Holy Spirit to teach them how to utilize God’s Word, the Bible, as their compass, no matter where they go.  To do otherwise is really to hate a child, and so it is within the body of Christ.

Sometimes a script’s blunders and illogical actions may very well detract from a movie’s overall enjoyment level, however in the end the actions and characters are simply penned by writers. And although we must be on guard against many of today’s movie messages, regardless of what happens to the characters themselves, they are simply that, characters in a movie.  Even if someone pretends to get shot and die, that actor is not really dead.  At the end of the day, he will go home and live his life.  Here lies the difference between simply critiquing a movie and being a loving watchman in the Spirit!  In real life, men have eternal souls. We will all live forever! Eternity is not a fictional story written by some man, rather the truth revealed to every heart and written by the God who created the universe in six short days some 6,000 years ago.  How important is it that we be sure to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth both to those within and without the body of Christ? I would argue it is vitally important!  It’s not a matter of whether or not mankind will remain forever, but where we will spend eternity that is at stake.

There is nothing critical or nitpicky in lovingly warning and teaching those around us according to the whole counsel of God. Having a watchman’s heart is a crucial role to play, especially in the confusing times in which we live. May we all be willing to speak the truth in love, knowing our redemption draws near, knowing that this life is much more than a movie. May we never forget that eternity is the destiny of all who step onto this world’s stage. “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24

Three Legged StoolThe Threefold Strategy

Yes, the sword is the principal offensive weapon, yet in any war a good strategy is arguably just as important as the chosen weapon. If an attack is poorly planned, even the best of weaponry may render the assault useless. Praise God this is only true for the physical realm! God’s Word will always accomplish what He desires no matter our poor planning. Nevertheless, our desire should always be to properly prepare our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

The spiritual strategies vary throughout our walk with the Lord. There are times to move forward offensively in the power of the Spirit and other times to wait patiently on our Lord’s direction. However, in general, there is a threefold plan that should be taught to and demonstrated by every believer, one that will serve as the framework for every chapter in our walk with Lord. This strategy is much like a three-legged stool. If only one or two of the legs are employed, the believer will not have as firm a foundation as intended, leaving him and those he disciples at best anemic and at worst open to deceptive doctrines.

This overarching, threefold plan is essential to every believer’s growth and effectiveness in Christ and is revealed to us in Colossians 1. Here Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, instructs born again believers in the mysteries of Jesus, specifically Christ in us, the hope of glory. How fitting that this ever important strategy is found in one of Scriptures most beautiful passages regarding the amazing mystery of Christ, our great God and Savior, literally indwelling the hearts and minds of His children! In Colossians 1:27-28, the Lord wrote through Paul, “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus…” Colossians 1:27-28

The threefold strategy for every believer is clear: preach, warn, and teach every man. Over the last several decades, many believers around the world have grown weak, choosing to embrace a man-centered, psychological, and social gospel instead of simply preaching and teaching Christ from the Word of God. Thankfully there are a few fellowships that have stood firm on the God’s Word. They do a good job of preaching and teaching Jesus, but unfortunately even many of these have chosen to ignore the other leg of the stool, not warning the flock of God in all wisdom. All three areas must be exercised for each individual believer and the body of Christ as a whole to be as healthy as possible.

  • Preaching Jesus: Truly our preaching should not simply be for doctrine’s sake. Doctrine is essential, but serves a higher purpose than itself. Doctrine is the framework of truth.  It serves as the proper paving stones that pave the godly road, ultimately leading its hearers to the Lord of true doctrine, Jesus Christ, the living Word of God! A person or fellowship that does not point men to Jesus is pointing them to men. To grow in Christ we must preach Jesus! “But you have not so learned Christ; if so be that you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus…” Ephesians 4:20-21
  • Teaching in all wisdom: Too often there is a temptation to embrace the world’s methods and patterns in teaching the flock of God. Sadly, there seems to be more and more pressure for the saints of God to regurgitate the pabulum of this sinful world. God’s wisdom is so far above man’s philosophies! Why should we feel such a need to apologies for the unadulterated Word of God?  We are called not only to preach Jesus, but lovingly and truthfully teach others the Word of God, being led by and leading others to eat from the hand of God, not this world’s feeding trough. “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” 1 Corinthians 1:27
  • Warning every man in all wisdom: “Wisdom cries aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares. She cries out in the chief concourses, at the openings of the gates in the city She speaks her words: “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge.” Proverbs 1:20-22. Even solid, Bible teaching churches too often seem to fall into the error of not warning the flock of the dangers of false teachers and heretical teachings. Some argue that we must simply focus on the truth, not worrying about the false teachers within the body of Christ. But Peter warned the saints of Satan’s desire to devour as many as possible (1 Peter 5:8), and Paul warned the Ephesian elders that grievous wolves would enter even among them, drawing away disciples after themselves, not sparing the flock (Acts 20:29). Many times the Treasury Department analogy is used to reinforce the importance of  focusing on the truth. While it’s true that those working for the Treasury Department must carefully study real US currency in order to detect counterfeits, it’s just as true that the same workers must know how the counterfeiters operate, i.e. make their bills, circulate them, etc. As believers we must study, know, love, preach, and teach the truth of God’s Word, but we are not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices. (2 Corinthians 2:11) According to Colossians 1, we must warn the flock of God in all wisdom. Interestingly, many faithful followers of Christ are very concerned about warning the world of the Hell they are heading towards. Why is it that somehow we lose so much of that concern when it comes to the body of Christ? Should we not be more concerned for the body of the One who delivered us from death to life? Speaking of the body, consider a physical body that is unable to fight off infection properly. Certain cells in the blood spend all of their time identifying, mapping, and destroying enemies of the body, all to the goal of keeping it healthy. Why should it be any different in the body of Christ?

The Ultimate Goal: No Christian is called to preach, teach, and warn simply for the sake of preaching, teaching, and warning. Colossians 1:28 makes that clear. Learning how to utilizing all three of these facets is an essential strategy, requiring diligent dedication.  We are called to employ all three with the purpose of presenting every man perfect, that is to say, thoroughly furnished and mature in Christ Jesus. In reality when we only choose to employ one or two of the strategies revealed in Colossians 1:27-28, both we and the hearers lose out on growing in maturity as quickly as we should. We lose out on a closer and more intimate walk with our loving King! God wants His children growing to have a healthy and utter dependence (not independence) on our Lord and Savior, the Head of the body, Jesus Christ. Regardless of what’s popular in today’s professing churches, may we seek to faithfully feed the flock of God; preaching Jesus, teaching, and warning every man all because of our love for Jesus and a true love for His body!

ImageToo often worldly ideas get circulated by popular preachers from the pulpits of many of today’s churches.  Sadly, once these ideas are shared enough times, they soon become accepted teachings and few people stop to check them out from God’s Word. One such teaching today is a popular psychological philosophy many call “Idols of the Heart”.

Over the last several years “Idols of the Heart” has grown to become a mainstream psychological idea within many Christian communities and is claimed by its adherents to be biblical in approach and doctrine.  Unfortunately it is at best humanistic, centering itself on the flesh, not the Spirit. In general, the philosophy teaches that the sinful human heart desires to worship self, constructing idols from early on in life. Once becoming a Christian, the teaching goes, we must explore our hearts to examine, expose, and eradicate any and all idols.

Four general problems with this psychology:

  • First, in order to locate them, we are told that we must sit down with “professionals” to talk about all the things that have gone on in our lives in hopes of exposing these idols. This “talking” often times falls under gossip and tends to be self-focused and problem-centered, not Christ-centered.
  • Secondly, even if idols are discovered, the question will always remain, when do we know if all our idols have been exposed?  We could spend a lifetime examining our old hearts and still not be sure we’ve gotten rid of them all.
  • Next, if there are idols in our hearts, they would have been constructed by the old, unregenerate man.  So in order to find them, we are forced to peruse the old man, not the new man, born again by the Spirit of God.  Instead of digging through the old flesh, Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, penned, “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ…[putting] on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him.” Colossians 2:11; 3:10. (Emphasis mine.)
  • Finally, perhaps the most deceptive part is while attempting to grow in the Spirit, one is actually only able to prop up the fleshly, old man and all if its self-focused desires.  In this process we very well may believe we are overcoming sin by the power of the Spirit, when in actuality we are simply bringing attention and satisfaction to the old man.  In doing so, this often leads to confusion and even deception for the one practicing such methods.

Below are several exerpts from a recent article written by Martin and Deidre Bobgan which serve as a further biblical response.

THE IDOLATROUS HEART

“The self focus of introspection that comes with counseling that stresses insight into one’s idolatrous heart can actually strengthen the flesh as it becomes self-centered rather than Christ-centered.  An emphasis on the idolatrous heart also poses a danger of too much self-centered introspection, which can lead to despair on the one hand and prideful self-righteousness on the other.

One may become stuck in trying to fix the flesh, which must be put off.  Therefore the idolatrous heart should not be the primary emphasis in the spiritual ministry of soul care.  Any attention given to the idolatrous heart is only useful as a means of teaching the doctrine of human depravity and identifying when one is living according to the old nature. But one can come to the same conclusion by reading the Word and then paying attention to one’s thoughts and behavior in relation to what God has said.  When the Bible calls for self-examination, the purpose is to discover whether one is in the faith and walking according to the new life in Christ (1 Cor. 11:28; 2 Cor. 13:5).  Spiritual growth comes by focusing on Christ, His very Person, His life, and all He has accomplished for the believer and continues to accomplish at the right hand of the Father.

While many in the Biblical Counseling Movement may indeed intend to “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Col. 1:28), because of their problem-centeredness, they grievously fall into another form of idolatry: sinful conversations as a means to a better marriage, a better life, and a more satisfied self.

Why Christians who have been born again by the Holy Spirit, given new life in Christ, and have the very Word of God at their finger tips subject themselves to such sin-centered activities escapes reason.  However, one possible reason is that they are walking according to the flesh and attempting to have their lives fixed by someone else instead of through following the Lord Jesus Himself.

One does not need to seek the specific motivation for every sin, but recognize that whenever one sins one is walking according to the flesh with its deceitful heart.  This involves recognition of sin (not analysis), repentance (1 John 1:9) , and walking again according to the indwelling Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16), which involves trusting and obeying Christ.  Throughout the ages the Holy Spirit used the Word of God directly and through sound preaching and teaching to convict the sinner and the sinning saint, to show the way of life, and to enable the believer to live by that new life. The Christian life is one of grace and hope because all is given by God, including the [power] to trust and obey.”

See: http://psychoheresy-aware.org/powlison_cure_3.html for the full article.

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