Tag Archive: God


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

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

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

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

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

W. Paul Young on the condition of man-

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

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

God’s Word on the condition of man- 

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

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

W. Paul Young on Salvation and The Gospel-

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

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

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

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

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

God’s Word on Salvation and The Gospel-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.)

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

heart-in-bible“The work of Christ on the cross did not influence God to love us, did not increase that love by one degree, did not open any fount of grace or mercy in His heart. He had loved us from old eternity and needed nothing to stimulate that love.

The cross is not responsible for God’s love; rather it was His love which conceived the cross as the one method by which we could be saved. God felt no different toward us after Christ had died for us, for in the mind of God Christ had already died before the foundation of the world. God never saw us except through atonement.

The human race could not have existed one day in its fallen state had not Christ spread His mantle of atonement over it. And this He did in eternal purpose long ages before they led Him out to die on the hill above Jerusalem. All God’s dealings with man have been conditioned upon the cross.”

― A.W. Tozer, The Radical Cross: Living the Passion of Christ

Campfire 1Originally from Comfort in Christ Cancer Devotional: Encouraging a Closer Walk with Jesus       

by Cherrie Huseby

What to bring??? The Bible (of course) – check; my favorite drinking cup filled with plenty of ice cold water – check; a lunch bag with sandwich, crackers, fruit, and maybe soup if there’s access to a microwave – check. I also brought my laptop during the first 8 months of treatments when I was still “working from home” for my former employer. I sure got a lot done those days sitting there for 6 hours at the Arizona Cancer Center while the Carboplatin and Paclitaxel slowly entered by body.

Wow! How very different this kind of checklist is from the typical “what to bring to camp” checklist I got when I was a kid: Bedding, tent, sleeping bag, ground cloth, blankets, extra stakes, pillow, shade tarp, air mattress, axe, air pump, dust pan/brush, large bags for storage, water jug and/or water bucket, potholders, and not to mention bathing suit, sunscreen, and lots of bug spray.

Though “Camp Chemo” is set up to be meaningful, purposeful, and determined to rid the ‘campers’ of cancer, it can be more “light” hearted than anticipated in view of the golden opportunities there to catch fish for Jesus. The battle worn camper who knows Jesus can be an enormous light and encouragement to someone just learning how to remain strong in the fight of his life.

In the book of Exodus, Moses was just such a man. He learned to trust God and not his flesh when called to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land at over 80 years old. Israel was fighting the Amalekites and it wasn’t going in their favor. Moses went to the top of the hill with the priests Aaron and Hur. When Moses held up his hands Israel prevailed and when he let down his hands the battle swung Amalek’s way.

As Moses tired, Aaron and Hur then began to hold up his hands for him and Israel once again took control. You could certainly say a man’s hands lifted heavenward are always an encouraging sign to others entrenched in the battle. (Exodus 17:10-13).

Hands reaching up for help to the Lord signify humility, the realization that the battle can’t be won first without the Lord, but also without the encouragement of others. Moses had help from his friends, but ultimately he relied on the Lord, and we must do likewise during our earthly times of trial.

Ephesians 6:6-16 offers another kind of checklist for each of us to be prepared to meet each day. The full armor of God is needed now more than ever: the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, feet shod with the Gospel of peace, the shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit.

My recent cancer “camping experiences” have taught me more than just being prepared with outward supplies. Most importantly they have revealed to me that “though the outward man in perishing, the inward man is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16). So until the time I go to be with my Lord and Savior, there is a whole world of people out there, camping in this world, that need to know Jesus. Lord, how do you want to use cancer to reach them and teach them just how great You really are?

Comfort in Christ Cancer Devotional: Encouraging a Closer Walk with Jesus, Devotional #10. Cherrie Huseby (Unity in Truth blogger- Flynn Huseby’s wife of almost 18 years)

Comfort in Christ Cancer Devotional is a 50 devotional e-book meant to encourage the body of Christ to draw closer to Jesus, understanding the trials of this world are often the means by which the Good Shepherd refines our souls. Cherrie’s e-book devotional is available @ Amazon. Click “HERE” to see more about it.

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

What’s the Answer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Being pretty good isn’t the answer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 THE TRUE and ETERNAL ANSWER

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

WHICH ONE WILL YOU CHOOSE?

“If you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.  For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the Scripture says, “Whosoever believes on [Jesus] shall not be ashamed.”  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Romans 10:9-13  

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

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

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

(Originally produced and distributed by Once Lost Ministries)

Rugged CrossThe only humility that is really ours is not that which we try to show before God in prayer, but that which we carry with us, and carry out, in our ordinary conduct; the insignficances of daily life are the importances and the tests of eternity, because they prove what really is the spirit that possesses us.”   ― Andrew Murray, Humility

No Jesus, No Thanks!

Heart and Cross ImageAn atheistic evolutionist would have us believe there is nothing more than matter, yet if matter is all there is, then how would an immaterial concept such as “THANKS” ever originate? “Thanks” has no color, no shape, no texture, and no taste. A rock, for example, is matter in a solid form, yet it cares nothing about being thankful. In fact, we could say a rock cannot even care, let alone be thankful. The same could be said for all solids, liquids, and gases. Thankfulness is a concept that goes way beyond the material. So if it didn’t come from matter, then where did thanks originate from?

Nonphysical concepts such as thankfulness cannot be derived from matter, but instead must come from something immaterial. And to say that thankfulness came from some sort of impersonal “higher power” energy or force would be foolish. Mindless energy and impersonal forces would be unable to produce such a personal concept as thanks.

Thanks is not simply a figment of our imagination found in the dictionary and it is not the mindless product of some impersonal force. It could only originate from One who is both personal and loving.  In truth, thanksgiving must stem from a loving heart, one that is not self-seeking. The Bible describes this kind of love in 1 Corinthians 13, “Love suffers long, and is kind; love envies not; love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up…” 1 Corinthians 13:4 This love comes from the personal God who is love (1 John 4:8,16), the God who demonstrated His love in sending His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to be the Savior of the world. (John 3:16-17)

Jesus is not only the Savior, He is the Creator and coming King. (Colossians 1:11-20) He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He truly is the Son of God and God the Son.  Without Jesus there would be no universe and no earth. There would be no salvation. There would be no love and without love there would be no thanks!  Truly it can be said, “No Jesus, No Thanks!” During this season, let us not only be thankful, but be sure to give thanks to only One who truly deserves it all, the Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ!

“Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon His name, make known His deeds among the people. Sing unto Him, sing psalms unto Him, talk you of all His wondrous works. Glory in His holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. Seek the LORD and His strength, seek His face continually.” 1 Chronicles 16:8-11

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

God's Word FirstIn many parts of the world, people are taught to carefully create and diligently decide what jobs and training to attain in order to build a powerful and successful resume. After all, earthly speaking, our resume is often the key to opening certain doors in the business world otherwise unattainable. If I want to move in a certain direction in this life, often I must first attain, labor, and strive for the credentials and proper experience. Then I must carefully and creatively record each accomplishment to build my portfolio and resume, all in hopes of moving forward in my desired direction. But what should be the Christian’s most desired and sought after destination?

While there is definite merit in getting a good education, degree, and experience in the job world, I would argue there is a much better resume we should seek to be building, one that does not point to our intelligence, wealth, and experience, but one that instead displays our weakness and utter dependence upon the True and Living God.

Instead of dropping names in hopes of making us look competent and qualified, we should repeatedly record the fact that we are quite dependent on the Lord for everything we say, do, and think.  Our spiritual resume should minimize us and maximize the Lord Jesus Christ.  Arguably, John the Baptist may have summed it up the best when he said, “[Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30

One such example of a godly resume is found in Philippians 2. Here Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes about Epaphroditus. Most of us, myself included, might say, “Epaphro who?”  Philippians 2:25 says, “Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labor, and fellow soldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.” Although he is only mentioned twice by name in Scripture, here in Philippians 2 and also in Philippians 4:18, he definitely serves as an awesome testimony of what occurs in one heart yielded to the Lord.

What a wonderful, godly resume Epaphoditus has! This is not to point to him, but rather to the Lord, who wants to work mightily in and through all of His adopted sons and daughters.  So what were the notable and biblical attributes applied to this believer’s spiritual resume?

BROTHER: First, he is called a brother. We all, as believers, are born again by the power of God, adopted into the kingdom of God.  We are not above one another, but simply brothers and sisters in the Lord, seeking to obey our Heavenly Father from the heart. Epaphoditus was called a brother.

COMPANION in LABOR: He was also called a companion in labor.  What a blessed title!  He was good company to Paul, encouraging and serving with him in this labor of love called Christianity. 1 Thessalonians 1:3 says, “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father…” May we always be good company to our brothers and sisters in the Lord, encouraging and reminding one another that our labor is never in vain and always in love!

FELLOW SOLDIER: Paul also referred to him as a fellow soldier.  We truly are in a battle and it’s a blessed thing to serve alongside fellow soldiers. This world is not our home. We are simply passing through. It’s been correctly said that we’re not on campaign to reform this world, but rather on a rescue mission, calling out as many as will come. The “mighty” Paul did not call Epaphorditus a private serving under “General” Paul, but rather a fellow soldier, comrades who desired to faithfully follow the commands of the Lord.

We are all equal at the foot of the cross; sinners saved by His grace. The work our Heavenly Commander calls us to on this planet is often difficult, dare I say impossible, without the Lord Himself doing the work in and though us! Praise God, although in a very real battle, we do not fight for victory, but from victory. 1 Corinthians 15:57-58 remind us, “But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 

MESSENGER: Epaphroditus is also called a messenger. A messenger is usually not the one writing the message, but the one making sure the correct message gets to the right people at the right time. In both World Wars 1 and 2, carrier pigeons were successfully utilized to transport messages back and forth through very dangerous territory. Arguably, the pigeon played a crucial role in both World Wars.

A messenger has everyone other than himself in mind.  He must first make the author of the message his top priority. He then must desire those the message is intended for above his own comfort and importance.  Often the messenger receives the direct consequences of the message, yet he loves the message and the author more than his very own life. This constitutes a good and faithful messenger.

In 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 we are reminded of the message we bring to those around us. “Now thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ, and makes manifest the savor of His knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savor of death unto death; and to the other the savor of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.”

MINISTER: Lastly, he’s described as one who ministered to Paul, his fellow soldier and brother in the Lord. Ministering simply means to serve, preferring the needs of others above our own desires, pleasures, and needs. In 1 Corinthians 16, it says, “Watch, stand fast in the faith, [be brave], be strong. Let all your things be done with charity [selfless, Christ-centered love]. I beseech you, brethren, (you know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) that you submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helps with us, and labors.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-16   We are all called to be addicted to the ministry of the saints, seeking to be filled to overflowing with the love of Jesus, who loved not His life even unto death. (Hebrews 12:1-4)

May the Lord truly help us to earnestly and diligently add to our eternal resumes daily, first and foremost seeking those things which are above. After all, our home is in Heaven where Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father.  What could be better than making the Mighty and Everlasting God our greatest pursuit and prize?!

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

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