The Children Of God Myth


Sometimes, in an effort to be comforting, Christians can say the dumbest things.

A mother gives birth to a baby three months early. The baby spends the next two months in the hospital, separated from his mother. When the mother is finally able to go to church with her baby, she’s met with, “I just don’t think I could be away from my baby that long.”

As if the mother had a choice.

A man loses his wife in an automobile accident. He stands next to her casket while friends and relatives wait in line to share their support and love. The hugs and tears of others bring him the most comfort. The comment that, “God just needed another flower in his heavenly garden” did not.

It just made him mad.

We would do well to follow the example of what not to do from Job’s friends. They were okay when all they did was sit and mourn with their suffering brother. It’s when they started speaking for God that they got themselves into trouble. That’s not to say that we should never use theology to bring comfort. We must. But when we do, it’s important to make sure that the theology is correct.

After the terror attack in Orlando, many Christians went to social media to remind us that we are all God’s children. And by all, they meant all. As in every human being on the planet. While this may bring comfort to some, it simply isn’t true. It’s dangerously unbiblical. It’s sort of like convincing the skydiver that the big thing strapped to his back will only weigh him down.

The idea that we are all God’s children is only partially true. According to the Bible, apart from Christ, we are all children. Children of wrath fighting against God.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV)

Here’s a quick experiment. Go to Walmart. I’ll wait for you to get back.

You saw a kid having a fit, didn’t you? I knew it. He was all upset because his mother wouldn’t let him drink his Red Bull before they got to the car. She was threatening him with a hairbrush she found in the cosmetics section. I know. I know. It’s almost like I was there with you.

And I bet I know how you responded to that screaming kid. You kept on walking. You got as far away from him as you could. And you came back home and hugged your own kids a little tighter. Or you gave thanks for not having any kids. The screaming kid wasn’t yours so you just carried on with your visit.

That’s because there is a difference between a child of wrath and a child of God.

A child of wrath is not a part of the family. A child of God is.

But before we start getting the big head, we must remember that the Christian’s status of child of God is not due to any quality of that individual over others. It is solely a result of God’s grace. It is a product of faith, not accomplishments or achievements. Even that faith is a gift from God.

One more experiment. If you have a kid, think back to a time when you heard him cry. You couldn’t see him. Maybe he was in the backyard while you were inside. But still, you heard that cry. You know that cry. Above all other noises on the planet, you know that cry. And when you heard it, you didn’t carry on with your day. You responded. It was not just any cry. It was your child’s cry.

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 4:6-7 (ESV)

In one way or another, everyone cries. But not everyone has a heavenly Father to cry to. Only Christians enjoy such a privilege. So, my fellow Christians, the next time something terrible happens, be careful what you say. Weep and mourn with those who weep and mourn before you get theological.

When that time finally comes, point your brothers and sisters in Christ to their heavenly Father who rules over all things and cares for them immeasurably. And point those who do not have that same hope to all that could be theirs in Christ through faith and repentance.

Speak hope.

But be extra careful to speak it in the right way.

Steven Anderson, Grace And Orlando


Religious people are often accused of hate. On many occasions, those accusations are unfounded. People just don’t like being disagreed with these days and their natural impulse is to categorize any opposition as hate. But there are times when religious people are rightfully accused of hate.

Like when an Islamic terrorist kills people in the name of his religion.

Or when a pastor who calls himself a Christian delights in the carnage.

Steven Anderson is the pastor who made a name for himself through YouTube videos where he ranted on the proper way for men to use the restroom and who he thought God should kill. If he happens to be your pastor, repent, leave his cult and find a legitimate church.

Just a short time after the Islamic radical killed dozens of people in Orlando, Steven Anderson posted a video sharing his thoughts on the massacre. I won’t post the video here but here’s an excerpt of Anderson’s comments.

“So, you know, the good news is that at least 50 of these pedophiles are not gonna be harming children anymore. The bad news is that a lot of the homos in the bar are still alive, so they’re gonna continue to molest children and recruit people into their filthy homosexual lifestyle. I’m not sad about it, I’m not gonna cry about it. Because these 50 people in a gay bar that got shot up, they were gonna die of AIDS, and syphilis, and whatever else. They were all gonna die early, anyway, because homosexuals have a 20-year shorter life-span than normal people, anyway.”

In his short commentary on the homosexuals getting what they deserved, Steven Anderson conveniently left something out. By not being murdered that night, Steven Anderson did not get what he deserved. Neither did Jay Sanders. Neither did you.

Tragedies aren’t knew. In some form or another, they’ve been around since Adam and Eve’s sin. They were around in Jesus’ day too. On one occasion, a government ruler named Pilate ordered his soldiers to murder a group of Galileans during a worship ceremony. The public response to this tragedy wasn’t any different than it is today. People wanted answers. Some of them took their questions to Jesus.

His answer likely wasn’t what they expected.

And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? Luke 13:2 (ESV)

Jesus was addressing a popular belief that still exists today, some two thousand years later. People have a tendency to believe that if something bad happens, it is automatically God’s punishment. Sometimes this is the case. God does punish sin and he is always just in doing so. But Jesus’ answer cuts to the heart and exposes the self-righteousness we all carry from one degree or another.

The Galileans who were murdered were no worse sinners than those who got to live that day. And the homosexuals who were murdered early Sunday morning by an ISIS devotee were no worse sinners than Steven Anderson. Or Jay Sanders. Or you.

The Bible is clear. Homosexuality is a sin (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). But the Bible is also clear that pride (1 John 2:16) is a sin. And lust. Yes, even good old heterosexual lust (Matthew 5:27-30). And whatever socially, religiously acceptable sins you and I are prone to.

Which leads to the rest of Jesus’ answer.

No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Luke 13:3 (ESV)

It’s not just the first century Galileans who fail to measure up to God’s perfect standard. And it’s not just today’s LGBTQ community either. It’s all of us. We all deserve death. Even the straightest and most moral among us.

Whenever something bad happens, it’s like there’s an alarm that goes off somewhere that makes so-called Christian leaders tell us who God was punishing through the tragedy.

“God sent Katrina to wash away the homosexuality from New Orleans!” they told us gleefully.

We would be foolish to say that God would never use a natural disaster or national tragedy to bring about punishment for sin (Psalm 46). But we would be arrogant and self-righteous to say that God would only punish the sin of those other guys. We should wake up every morning thanking God for his mercy in not sending Katrina or ISIS to our front door.

Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.


Not just the Galileans.

Not just the homosexuals at a club.

All means the self-righteous church leader who privately pays for his daughter’s abortion because he worries about what a very public unplanned pregnancy could do to his career advancement plans.

All means the hypocritical progressive who is so full of love that he absolutely hates anyone who doesn’t agree with his definition of love.

All means you.

And all means me.

Christ’s call to repentance wasn’t some empty chatter like the guy on the side of the busy street yelling about hell and the end. It was a warning. But it was also an invitation to his grace.

Some time after Jesus spoke the surprising words, the same Pilate who massacred the Galileans would put Jesus on a cross. But it is in that great tragedy that we can find hope. By God’s grace and through faith, we can be set free from the death sentence that we all deserve.

It is very important for Christians to address sin. This is no call to tone down the gospel. But when we address sin, we must remember that the personal sins we accept are just as disgusting to God as the public sins committed by others. And we must also remember grace.

Grace is not God turning a blind eye to our sin. It is God turning his wrath that we deserve onto his Son and giving us his Son’s perfect righteousness in exchange (2 Corinthians 5:21). And what a great exchange it is.

It’s an exchange that is available to the homosexual.

And the self-righteous religious person.

And to Steven Anderson.

And to me and you.

image credit

The Link Between Us And Them


I don’t believe in air conditioners in automobiles. I’ve always been a window man. So when my sons spent their first few weeks of summer driving around with me, we did so with the windows down. You can’t really experience summer through air conditioning. It’s best experienced with the windows down. Otherwise, you miss out on the joy of the wind blowing in your face. And you miss out on the smells that come with summertime in Georgia.

From the backseat, my sons gave me their commentary on those Georgia summertime smells. When they noticed an appealing aroma, they let me know. I think that was their way of telling me to pull over and buy them some food. And when something smelled rancid, they let me know that too. That was their way of telling me to roll up the windows and turn the air conditioner on. I never gave in.

On one short stretch of road, we got both extremes of odor. When the smell of deep fried chicken worked its way into my automobile, my boys voiced their approval. Just a few minutes later, they let me know that the dead animal we had just driven by did not smell good. Should I be concerned that the roadkill was so close to the restaurant? Don’t answer that.

Although the smells could not have been more different, there was one thing that they had in common.

Both smells came from dead animals.

One dead animal was socially acceptable. Its odor was pleasing to the nose. Its flavor is pleasing to our sense of taste. But the other animal died of natural causes. And, judging from the odor, that death took place several days ago. No one in his right mind eats that animal.

We are a lot like those animals. Some of us are socially acceptable. Others of us are not. Some are appealing. Others are sickening. But, in our natural state, we are all dead. Only through Christ do we find life.

Our nation is divided. People who have spent seven decades on this planet tell me that we are more divided than we ever have been. We’re divided by race. We’re divided by political ideologies. And pretty much everyone is angry about it.

This is where the Church really needs to be different. We must resist the temptation to jump in on the divisiveness. We must be above it. We must remember that, apart from Christ, we are just as dead as everyone else. And we need not forget that grace is not a right. The only thing that God owes us is eternal wrath. Anything less than that is a gift.

You really aren’t that different from guy in the orange vest on the side of the road finishing out his community service hours.

You’re not as different as you think you are from the mother of four from four different men.

Really, the only difference is that you never got caught. Or you were too scared to act out on the evil intentions in your heart.

Whether it’s the promiscuous mother or the drunk working off his community service hours, there is a link between them and you.

That link is death.

You may doctor it up a little better and you may be more socially acceptable but, apart from the grace of God, you’re still dead.

Thankfully, Jesus came to save dead people. Not dead white people. Not dead religious people. Not dead Republicans or dead Democrats. Just dead people. His dead people.

So don’t be so quick to jump down on another person for the odor of their sin. Yes, confront them in love. Yes, address the sin. Yes, walk with them through it. But as you do, remember that to some degree, you carry the same odor.

And only grace can make it go away.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5 (ESV)

image credit


Urban Legends, Marriage And The Hypocrisy Of The Church


Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

It was the summer of 1972. A woman pulls into a gas station late one evening on her way home from work. As she walks in to pay, she passes by a large truck parked at the next pump. She doesn’t give the vehicle a second thought. And she pays it no attention as she walks by it on her way back to her car. It’s not until she pulls back onto the highway that she starts to pay real attention to the giant truck and the man behind the wheel.

Almost as quickly as she pulls out, the truck does the same. For the next ten miles the man behind the wheel follows her closely, even nudging her back bumper a few times. At other times he flashes his brights and blows his horn at her. She speeds up to lose the truck. And her plan works. As she navigated her way around a hairpin curve she saw through her rearview mirror that the driver of the truck wasn’t so lucky. He lost control and landed in a ditch.

But as she continued to look in her rearview mirror. She noticed something. Another man. But this man wasn’t outside of her car. He was inside, hiding in the backseat waiting for his opportunity to attack her. The man in the truck wasn’t trying to hurt her. He was trying to warn her. The real threat to the woman wasn’t in another automobile. It was much closer than she ever imagined.

That’s how hypocrisy works. It’s easy to spot it when we see it in other people but, if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s much closer to us than we think it is. It’s inside of our own hearts.

The world likes to pretend that hypocrisy is a problem only for church people. How quickly they forget about their talk of tolerance for all points of view (except for those points of view that they disagree with or that expose the foolishness of their own ideas). But hypocrisy is a problem for the church too. We would be foolish to believe otherwise. Nowhere is our hypocrisy more evident than it is in regards to marriage.

Biblical marriage is under attack in our country. There’s no doubt about that. In some professions, simply voicing your support for biblical marriage can cost you your job. Other people have lost everything for simply standing by their convictions regarding marriage. Make no mistake. There is a war going on. And the sidelines are getting smaller and smaller. At some point, everyone will have to pick a side.

Many Christians already have. They use voting booths and social media accounts to, in varying degrees of wisdom and insight, voice their support for biblical marriage and rejection of so-called gay marriage. And that’s a good thing. Christians must speak up. But we also must be careful that our words match our actions. Sadly, in many cases, that seems to be too much to ask.

Preachers speak very loudly against the nameless gay guy on the news waiving a rainbow flag but fail to say anything against the big money tither who trades in his wives like leased cars. Preaching to the choir is easy. Preaching against the choir could get you fired.

Evangelical voters come out in masses to oppose candidates who promote same sex marriage but, on the very same ballot, will think nothing about voting for a presidential candidate who has spent his entire adult life making a mockery of traditional marriage.

A man rambles on and on at the barber shop about how gay marriage is destroying our great nation only to go home and talk to his wife as if she should’ve gone out with last week’s trash.

If we really want to stop gay marriage, we need pastors and church leaders who use the Bible to lovingly speak against all perversions of marriage, even the socially acceptable ones.

We need voters who refuse to buy in to that tired old lesser of two evils argument and instead stand on biblical principles. Even if it means passing on the two most popular options.

And we need men who realize that one of the best things they can do in support of biblical marriage is to go home and love their wives as Christ loved the Church.


The Church has settled for hypocrisy. As a result, we have lost our influence. And we wonder why the rest of the world looks at biblical marriage as nothing more than an urban legend.

image credit

Christian Singer Comes Out Of The Closet


Earlier this week Trey Pearson, lead singer of the Christian rock band Everyday Sunday, let the world know that he is gay. And the world celebrated. The celebration looked and sounded like it usually does. Trey was praised for being brave. The Church was mocked for being bigoted and on the wrong side of history.

I guess this isn’t the acceptable thing for a pastor in 2016 to say in regards to such news but here goes. Trey Pearson’s announcement disgusted me.

It disgusted me because I couldn’t help but think about his wife and kids. Writing about his lifelong struggle with homosexuality, Trey says, “I’ve tried my whole life to be straight. I married a girl, and I even have two beautiful little kids. My daughter, Liv, is six and my son, Beckham, is two.” Trey says of his decision to leave his wife and kids and come out that, “There is a weight that has been lifted, and I have never felt so free. I cannot even believe the joy and lightness I feel from being able to accept myself, and love myself, for who I truly am.”

I grew up in a single parent family. Divorce hit me hard at a very early age. Much of my professional career has been devoted to counseling families and children that have been ravaged by divorce. I can tell you with full assurance that the weight that has been lifted off of Trey, leaving him feeling so free, has been brutally placed on the backs of his wife and kids.

Trey talks about growing up in a conservative church where he was taught that being gay is a choice. He says that he later realized that his attraction to other men was not something that he chose. It was something he was born with.

Let’s assume for a moment that Trey’s assessment is true.

Think with me then of how many husbands and fathers have been born with a bad temper or a strong craving for intoxicants or a seemingly uncontrollable desire to have sex with multiple women every weekend. Should we then celebrate those dads for “being true to themselves” the next time they blow up on one of their kids, or score some meth or have sex with a few of the girls they met at the bowling alley one night?

The difference, you might say, is love. Trey made his decision based on love. His biggest crime is loving another man. The dads in my hypothetical weren’t loving. They were destroying.

Ask Trey’s kids whether they feel loved or destroyed.

The reality is that our world has completely distorted the word love. They think that it is one and the same with sexual pleasure. It is not. Love is the man who has had a temper his whole life but takes the time to work on it for the good of the family he committed to. Love is the alcoholic who fights hard against his natural desire because he knows that just because something is natural does not make it good. Love is the man who is tempted to sleep with his coworker but takes drastic measures to flee the temptation because of the commitment he made before God to his wife.

Love and sex are not the same.

For some reason, the sin of homosexuality has been canonized in our society. It’s the new 90-foot statue that we must all bow before whenever we hear the music of the culture droning on and on about love and expression and self-identifying. And those who claim to be Christians are all too quick to join in on the fun. We should not be surprised when the world acts like the world. It’s when the Church starts acting like the world that we should be alarmed. Much of the confusion in the Church is due to the fact that, because of a lack of emphasis on biblical preaching and discipleship, people claiming to be Christians have bought into the lie that Jesus never had anything to say about homosexuality.

And that’s true, if you’re the type to pick and choose what you want Jesus to say. If however you actually take Jesus at his words, all of them, you’ll see that he had plenty to say about homosexuality. He condemned sexual immorality as a condition of a sinful heart (Matthew 15:18-20). He spoke frankly about lust and we would be foolish to assume that it was only straight lust that he was condemning (Matthew 5:27-30). And he condemned the god of no fault divorce that our culture has so easily embraced (Matthew 5:31-32). To say that homosexuality is okay because Jesus never spoke against it is the same as saying that it’s okay to vandalize my neighbor’s Mercedes because Jesus never mentioned anything about spray paint or luxury sedans.

But still, Trey mingles talk of God with his decision to embrace sin at the expense of his wife and kids. And as I was reading it, I couldn’t help but imagine what Trey’s reasoning would look like if the sin of homosexuality were replaced with another sin clearly condemned in the Bible but not yet fully embraced by the world. What follows is my altered version of Trey’s words.

“I have progressed so much in my faith over these last several years. I think I needed to be able to affirm other thieves before I could ever accept it for myself. Likewise, I couldn’t expect others to accept me as a thief until I could come to terms with it first.

I know I have a long way to go. But if this honesty with myself about being a thief, and how I was made by God to be a thief, doesn’t constitute as the peace that passes all understanding, then I don’t know what does. It is like this weight I have been carrying my whole life has been lifted from me, and I have never felt such freedom.”

I do not celebrate Trey Pearson’s decision. No true Christian should. Our failure to celebrate will be classified as bigoted by the world and offensive by some who call themselves Christians. But we must remember how Christ responded when it was brought to his attention that his words could have offended the spiritually misguided Pharisees.

Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” Matthew 15:12-14 (ESV)

Trey Pearson is being led by blind guides straight into a pit.

But there’s good news. Homosexuality and divorce are not unpardonable sins. God’s grace is big enough to handle them. Jesus’ shoulders are strong enough to carry the burdens that come with them. Everyone of us, gay or straight, is a sinner by nature. We were born that way. But God, in his grace, sent his Son so that his people would not die that way.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV)

image credit

A Firefighter Or A Parasite?


Perhaps more than another people on the planet, firefighters have to be very careful with their diet. Dr. Brent Ruby suggests that they eat around 4,500 calories a day along with 7 to 9.5 liters of water in that same time span. And firefighters can’t just load up on any calories. Fast-food might fill them up for a moment but it will betray them later in their shift. Dr. Ruby suggests that firefighters make smart choices and eat a diet high in protein, carbs and good fats.

But why?

The answer is the reason why firefighters have to watch what they eat more closely than most other people. Dr. Ruby says that firefighters need foods that fill and fuel them for the longterm because, “as soon as they’re distracted from fire suppression, other risks crop up.”

Simply put, firefighters need to eat smart for their own good, for the good of the men serving with them and for the good of the community they are serving. They aren’t just being fed. They are feeding with a purpose.

There’s a name for organisms that feed for no other purpose than to get full. Parasites. And the American church is full of them.

But this is no new sensation. Paul warned against the parasitic mentality of church members 2,000 years ago.

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Philippians 2:3 (ESV)

Have you ever wondered why so many churches are filled with people who do nothing but fight with one another? The reason why is because the people filling those churches are parasites. They blame the problems on the pastor or the youth guy or the changing culture around them but the truth is much more painful. If Jesus were their senior pastor, they’d still try to fire him while fighting with one another for the best feeding spot on their preferred host otherwise known as the church.

It’s important to be a part of a church where you are fed. But you must be fed like a fireman. One purpose of the Church is to be a feeding place where Christians can fuel up on a rich diet of Scripture for the good of one another and those outside of the Church. When this happens, the Church produces disciples who look more like their Master and less like the world.

They are humble as Christ was humble (Philippians 2:3).

They love others, just as Christ did (Philippians 2:4).

They serve like Jesus did (Philippians 2:7).

They obediently live a life on mission for the glory of God, just like Jesus did (Philippians 2:8-11).

A firefighter does not only work when you see him putting out a fire. Part of his job is done in the kitchen where he decides what he will fuel his body with. At the end of his shift, fires are put out, destruction comes to an end, and hopefully, lives are saved. Not so for the parasite. When his meal is complete, his host is destroyed. And so is he.

Hopefully you belong to a church where you are being fed.

And hopefully, that’s just the beginning of the part you play in your church.

image credit


The Beatitudes Of American Politics Or How To Get Elected As President Of The United States


Elected are the extremely wealthy, for the highest office in the land is theirs for the taking. Or the buying. Whatever it takes.

Elected are those who take pleasure in the destruction of those with the nerve to have a different opinion, for they shall really feel good when they watch their opponent suffer.

Elected are the arrogant who tell it like it is while talking continuously about themselves, for they shall inherit the White House.

Elected are those who hunger and thirst for more and more power, for they will never be satisfied but they’ll sure have a lot of fun taking that power from everyone else.

Elected are the baby killers, for even the evangelical crowd doesn’t care about murdered babies anymore.

Elected are those who have the gift of looking less evil than the other guy for they shall be worshiped as a god.

Elected are the agitators and the loud mouths for they shall get a lot of attention in the media.

Elected are those who persecute the righteous, for righteousness is on the wrong side of history.

Elected are you when you say all sorts of evil toward others and still somehow manage to invoke the name of Jesus Christ on your behalf. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in November. Not so much in eternity but November.

And November in America is all that matters, baby.

If you don’t believe me, look it up in Double Corinthians.

image credit