The Children Of God Myth

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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

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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.

All.

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.

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Scars In Heaven

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Christians have a lot to look forward to. No matter how bad it gets on this earth, we know that things won’t stay this way. Pain and heartache will not last. Death does not get the final say.

That’s not to say that life isn’t hard for Christians. It is. And it doesn’t mean that we look forward to the day of our death with some creepy fascination. We just know that hardships are no match for the eternal joy that will be ours with Christ. We know that death, though painful, does not get the final say.

Of all people, Christians have the greatest reason for hope.

As our bodies age, hurt and betray us, we know that we have the promise of a new and imperishable body that will be beyond description and equipped with everything that we need to fully enjoy and obey God (1 Corinthians 15:42-49).

In the new heavens and new earth, there will be no cancer hospitals, no AIDS, no jails, no political corruption, no divorce, no broken hearts and no sin.

But there will be scars in heaven.

Those scars won’t be ours. That weird mark just above your eyebrow from the time when you thought that the sliding glass door was opened will be long gone in heaven. Your new body will not carry the marks of your kidney surgery or that old football injury.

The only scars in heaven will belong to Jesus.

In talking about our new bodies, Paul tells the Corinthians that we will bear the image of the resurrected Christ (1 Corinthians 15:49). After Jesus rose from the grave, he was not the bloody mess that he was while the Romans beat him. He didn’t walk around with the fatigue he had on the cross. But he still the scars.

Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” John 20:24-28 (ESV)

In his resurrected body, Jesus walked with people and carried on conversations with them (Luke 24:13-35). He walked through walls (John 20:26) but he was no ghost. In his resurrected body, Jesus even prepared and ate breakfast with his disciples (John 21:1-14).

But why? Jesus had the power to conquer death. Couldn’t he also get rid of the scars that the crucifixion left on his body? Of course he could. But there’s a reason why he didn’t.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 (ESV)

Jesus did not die simply to redeem our souls. His death redeemed us as whole persons. That includes our bodies.

When we finally get to enjoy the new heavens and the new earth with our scar free bodies we will look to Jesus and be constantly reminded of how it all came to be. Scars have a way of reminding us of things.

Every scar has a story just beneath it.

Several years ago I was playing with my dog in the backyard. I named him Hines after Hines Ward, the great Georgia Bulldog football star. My dog was big and looked mean but he was really friendly. Sometimes he was too friendly. I have a scar on my hand from one of Hines’ friendly moments. Whenever I look at that scar, I think about Hines.

And so it will be for us in eternity. The scars that remain on our Lord will remind us of what really matters. They will help us to remember that our new bodies are only possible because of Christ’s broken body.

I can’t wait for the day when all diseases are gone. I’m looking forward to finding out what it will be like to have a body that is not broken by sin. But, as nice as that will be, none of it is the ultimate point.

Christ is.

And for all eternity, his scars will remind us of that.

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The Real Deal

Tim Tebow getting cut by an NFL team is not Christian persecution.

A non-Christian coffee company acting like a non-Christian coffee company is not Christian persecution.

The following video gives just one small example of what Christian persecution looks like.

If you fell all to pieces over a red cup, you’ve got some work to do before the real deal comes your way. But hurry. There may not be much time.

The Most Confusing Religion On The Planet

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There is one religion that confuses me more than any of the others. It’s not Islam, Mormonism or even Scientology. All of those are wrong and, to varying degrees, weird but they are no match for liberal Christianity.

Liberal Christianity is the belief in, well, nothing really. There are liberal Christians who deny the virgin birth, doubt the resurrection of Christ and only believe about 30% of what the Bible says. And, for whatever reason, they still call themselves Christians. For centuries, everyone else has been calling them something else. Non-Christians. Maybe even pagans.

This is why it’s so confusing. If you only believe part of what Jesus says, how do you decide which part? The Internet? If Jesus wasn’t born of a virgin and if his bones are still somewhere in the Middle East, why should we care today about what some crazy man who claimed to be God had to say? And finally, if Jesus is still in the grave and we can only trust a third of what we read about him in the Bible, why bother with church? If this life is all that there is to this life, shouldn’t we be spending our Sunday’s recovering from a weekend of partying instead of sitting in a pew? Come to think of it, that might be the norm for some.

When we only believe some of what Jesus said, he is reduced to the ace card up our sleeve that we only pull out when we need to prove a point. And who needs a Lord when you have one of those?

Many people my age who grew up in conservative churches were essentially taught that the twelve disciples were all Republicans who wore American flag lapel pins on their robes. Eventually, we grew up and realized that none of that was true. But some, in leaving the false teachings of the Republican churches of their childhood, simply embraced a more liberalized version of the same error. So now, their Jesus spent his days drinking free trade coffee and fighting for a $15 an hour minimum wage.

The churches they grew up in fought hard against abortion. But today, many liberal Christians pray blessings over Planned Parenthood facilities. Others remain silent on the issue, choosing to love instead. Everyone appreciates love but there are a few million babies who would really appreciate love with some action. Sadly, this doesn’t fit into liberal Christian theology. They only embrace social justice issues previously approved by the American left. That’s good luck for Columbian coffee farmers. Not so much for the unborn.

The burdens of the GOP Jesus and the socially liberal Jesus, while different in appearance, still weigh us down all the same. Such is the danger of reading our culture, our politics and our desire to be liked into the Biblical text. Folks on both sides as well as those in the squishy middle would be much better off allowing the Bible to shape them instead of the other way around.

It has been said that the Holy Roman Empire was not holy, Roman or an empire. I think that the same could apply to liberal Christianity. A liberal, at least in the classical sense of the term, is one who values individual freedom and a limited role for government. A Christian is one who believes that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, the perfect God Man as presented to us in the Bible.

It is clear that the words liberal and Christian probably aren’t the best descriptors for those who claim to love Jesus and yet deny most of what the Bible says about him.

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Psalm 51, Updated Edition

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Jesus was wrong. But just sometimes. Specifically when it comes to gay marriage. That’s what Brandon Ambrosino informed us of on Wednesday.

Who knew? The Church, and apparently Jesus, has gotten it wrong for all of these years. Thankfully, we have the Internet to help us.

Jesus never was wrong (John 14:6). Quite frequently, people are (see: Internet). And they’ll go to great lengths to make their wrongness feel right (see also: Internet, evening news, Washington D.C.). Even if it means rewriting the Bible or making their own little image of a god that is more approving of their lifestyle.

We’ve come a long way since David. You remember him, right? He sinned. He committed adultery, he abused his power and he killed a man in order to cover it all up. But rather than trying to build his identity around these sins or take his eraser and red pen to the Bible in an effort to feel better about his sin, David did something really countercultural.

He confessed his sin.

And he repented of it.

Followers of Jesus are different from everyone else. That difference doesn’t exist because we don’t sin and they do. No, what separates Christians from everyone else is what we do with our sin. Unbelievers, even the deeply religious ones, tend to build their house on their sin. It becomes the flag that they wave and the badge that they carry. Everyone else, including God, must deal accordingly.

Believers are different because they ask Jesus to tear down their house of sin. Daily. Our identity in Christ supersedes our sexual, racial or societal identity.

After being confronted with his sin, David didn’t sue Nathan the Prophet for daring to not mind his own business. No, David’s eyes were suddenly opened to the depth of his depravity.

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Psalm 51:3-6 (ESV)

Sadly, today’s Psalmists sing a different song.

For I have no transgression, and my sin does not exist. God, since you are not concerned with justice and truth, you have no right to judge me. I was brought forth in iniquity. So that makes my so-called problem my parent’s fault. Or biology’s fault. Or yours. Anyone’s but mine. I delight in ignoring my inner being and I rely on the faulty wisdom of my own heart.

When David was made aware of the dangerous construction job going on in his heart, he asked God to destroy it.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:10-12 (ESV)

But why bother with a new heart when the old one feels oh so right?

My heart is pure, O God, and my spirit is strong, wild and free. Cast me not away from my passions and take not ecstasy from me. Accept my conditions for salvation, and affirm me in my sin. 

All men are created in the image of God. But Brandon Ambrosino has created a god in his own image. A god who, as he puts it, “Might someday find himself being asked to create wine at a gay wedding.”

The Bible presents a very different picture of Jesus. And it’s not a Jesus who shows up to gay weddings to turn their water into wine. Instead, it is a Jesus who condemns homosexuality and any other sin with the wine of his wrath.

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” Revelation 14:9-11 (ESV)

It’s a dangerous business, changing the Bible and the God who wrote it in order to fit your desires. And it comes with eternal consequences.

 

 

Dear Programming Director For The Trinity Broadcasting Network

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Dear Programming Directory For The Trinity Broadcasting Network,

I don’t know your name but I thought about you Tuesday morning. I was looking for a parking space. A lot of the preachers on your network talk about how God has given them a prime parking space when they prayed for one. I didn’t pray for God to give me a good parking space. But I did pray for the reason why I couldn’t find a parking space.

I was visiting a family at a children’s hospital. I’ve been to a few of these hospitals in my time as a minister. They all have one thing in common. I never can find a parking space. And each car in those packed lots represents a few things. Sick kids. Hurting families. People with serious theological questions about good, evil and suffering.

And you are responsible for providing the wrong answers to those questions.

Have more faith.

Give more money.

Get rid of whatever sin in your life is making your kid sick.

So I have a request. Before you air another episode of Benny Hinn asking for more money and delivering miracles through sleight of hand and theological smoke and mirrors, could you please make sure that Mr. HInn’s crusade is held in the parking lot that I was driving through on Tuesday morning?

If Mr. Hinn really does have the ability to perform supernatural miracles for a small fee, I saw a lot of people on Tuesday who could sure use one.

On the other hand, maybe, just maybe, you, Mr. Hinn and the other preachers on your network would cool it on the magic tricks if you actually had to look hurting people in the eye. Real hurting people. Not plants pretending to feel the anointing.

Judging from the gold pianos and private jets, business is booming business of manipulation.

But there’s no money in the business of honest repentance.

And it’s quite obvious what’s more important to your network.

Sincerely,

Jay Sanders

(And every hurting heart that has ever filled a parking space at a hospital)

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A Consistent Response To Sin

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Whenever something that the Bible calls sin starts to grow in social acceptance, the response from many in the world, and even the Church, is usually threefold.

1. Sin is sin.

As in, everyone sins so what makes this particular sin any worse?

2. Love is what really matters.

As in, hey, as long as it’s all done in love, what’s the harm?

3. Jesus’ silence.

As in, Jesus never directly addressed this particular sin so what gives me the right to say anything about it?

What if we were consistent with these responses? What if we didn’t just use them when talking about things like gay marriage? What if I used these same supposedly loving and tolerant responses during one of the counseling sessions that I frequently have in my office.

It might look something like this.

Me: So what brings you in?

John: I’m a wreck. My whole life is falling to pieces. I need help.

Me: Explain.

John: Well, it’s a long story so I’ll just try to give you the high points, or I guess you could say the low points.

Me: Go ahead.

John: I’ve been married for ten years. My wife and I have two kids together. From the outside, our home looks perfect. But for the last five years I’ve been seeing another woman. I honestly don’t know if I really love my wife anymore. I don’t know what to do. I just know that I’m miserable.

Me: Stop right there. You say that you don’t love your wife anymore. What about the other woman? Do you love her?

John: Yes. I think I do. She makes me feel really happy when I’m around her.

Me: There’s your answer, John. It’s all about love. What’s the point in being in a relationship where there is no love? As long as the two of you love each other, don’t let traditions hold you down. This isn’t the 1950s. Divorce isn’t what it once was. Pursue the other woman.

John: I wasn’t expecting that answer from the pastor of a church.

Me: I’m flattered.

John: But it doesn’t stop there. Whenever I meet up with this other woman, we always end up doing drugs together. Meth, to be specific. I know it’s wrong but the two just seem to go so well together.

Me: You say that you know it’s wrong. How do you know that?

John: How do I know what?

Me: How do you know that meth is wrong?

John: Well, I’ve just always heard that doing drugs is bad. And I’m sure that Jesus doesn’t approve of me doing meth with a woman I’m not married to in the park across the street from my kids’ school.

Me: John, I’ve got great news for you.

John: I could use some good news.

Me: Jesus never said anything about doing meth with someone in the park across the street from your kids’ school. It’s not mentioned once in the Bible.

John: I guess I never really thought about it that way.

Me: Well, now’s a good time to start. Stop beating yourself up for something that Jesus never condemned.

John: But I feel so guilty all of the time.

Me: That’s the Church’s fault. Your guilt is nothing more than a result of you living by what the Church tells you is right and wrong.

John: But what about you? What do you say is right and wrong?

Me: Me?! Well, I’m just a sinner. And sin, as they say, is sin. Somewhere in the Bible, Jesus told us not to judge so I’m just going to take that approach. It’s not my place to make any kind of a judgement statement regarding your new love for this other woman and your fondness of meth. The main thing is that you are happy and that you know that Jesus wants what’s best for you. And what’s best for you is what makes you happy. Does that help?

John: I think so. I mean, I don’t feel guilty anymore.

Me: Great! That’s what it’s all about, John. How you feel.

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20 (ESV)

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So Now What? Get In The Word

Gay marriage is now legal in the United States. So now what? How should the Church respond? The following is the third part of five answers to that question.

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Get In The Word

I’m almost 40. I’ve never been mistaken for Brad Pitt. There is nothing whatsoever that is even remotely cool about me. But none of that mattered a while back at a pizza restaurant when one of the waitresses told me that I was fine. Right to my face.

“You’re fine.”

I went back to my table and told my wife. She rolled her eyes. That’s because she knew that there had to be more to the story. There was.

I was coming out of the restroom and, as is usually the case for me, I almost ran into someone. The waitress. I told her that I was sorry.

“Oh, it’s okay. You’re fine.”

Context.

It makes a big difference. Without it, you hear what you want to hear in order to prop up whatever it is that you want to believe. With it, you get to the truth. When it comes to the Bible, many in our culture pass when it comes to the truth. In politics, everyone is a Libertarian until they want something from the government. In matters of theology, every unrepentant sinner hates what the Bible says until they can make it say something different. Paul could see this coming 2,000 years ago.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 (ESV)

Paul’s words before this are shocking. They are shocking because there are many professing Christians who would tell us that, since the Bible is unpopular, we need to put it back in the drawer. We need to exchange preaching for conversations where the world speaks their own version of the truth without context while we mostly just sit back and apologize.

Paul gave completely different advice for a culture that, like ours, treated the Bible as their own personal back scratcher.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 2 Timothy 4:1-2 (ESV)

Don’t abandon it.

Don’t try to make it more hip.

Don’t talk about it but never really use it.

Don’t water it down.

Preach it!

But why?

Paul’s answer is simple. Because it is from God and it is true.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)

Politicians change their version of the truth whenever such a transition is needed in order to keep them in line with their financial backers and the popular crowd. If you don’t believe me, go on YouTube and look at those old clips of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama talking about how much they support traditional marriage.

Prophets are different from politicians. They speak the truth in love regardless of what it might cost them. The world needs more prophets. Real prophets. The kind of prophets who say hard things in a loving way. But that will never be you if your Bible is nothing more than religious paraphernalia or just something you use from time to time to support whatever opinion you’re latching on to at the moment.

And here’s a little something that you might not like. It is impossible to consistently speak spiritual truths in love while at the same time ignoring the Bible or taking it out of context.

 

When you die, Jesus won’t ask you how popular you were. It is your faithfulness and obedience that will matter the most. But no matter how hard you try or how well meaning you may be, authentic faithfulness and obedience will never be a part of your life if your life is not in the word.

So which will it be? Will you choose the shifting sands of popularity or the solid rock of God’s word?

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Before You Take The #CharlieCharlieChallenge

Well, that's not good.

There’s a new sensation among teenagers and young adults. I just found out about it earlier this week so that means it’s probably not really all that new. Tip: When you’re over 30 and you read about some new sensation among teenagers and young adults, they’ve probably been partaking in whatever sensation it is for a year or two by the time you find out about it.

This sensation has nothing to do with some drug named after a girl or games that involve knocking out unsuspecting women and elderly people.

This one is much more dangerous.

It’s called the Charlie Charlie Challenge.

In this challenge, participants make a cross out of two pencils on a sheet of paper. They then record themselves asking a Mexican demon named Charlie if he is present. The words yes and no are written in the four squares on the paper. If the pencil moves to the yes, the words are erased and more questions are asked. With this being recorded and everything, all of the world gets to watch the participants get freaked out when Charlie answers.

Think of it as this generation’s ouija board.

A quick word to this generation. You want nothing to do with Charlie.

I’ve been in the ministry for 15 years. I’m hardly an expert but I’ve seen a few things. I’ve experienced things that can only be attributed to demonic activity. Such occasions have been extremely rare. They have also been extremely frightening.

There is a more common way that I have seen the demonic at work.

I have seen it at work as seemingly healthy marriages fall apart.

I have seen it at work in churches where people fight for personal gain like they were in the WWE’s Royal Rumble.

I have seen it at work in addicts who know that they are killing themselves but just can’t stop it.

I don’t know where the name Charlie came from. I just know that you don’t want to play with him. There is nothing fun about this. The end game is only death and destruction.

“But,” you might say, “I’m a Christian. Charlie has no power over me. I can make him go away whenever I want.”

Sure thing. Just tell that to Sceva and his seven sons. But try not to let the nudity bother you.

And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Acts 19:11-17 (ESV)

Charlie might jump out of the computer and master you so that you run away naked and wounded. But more likely, if you continue to play with Charlie, you’ll just walk away wounded.

A few nights ago I watched a documentary about a guy who lived with bears. It ended the way all documentaries about guys who live with bears ends. Spoiler alert. He died. The bears killed him. It’s tragic but it’s not a surprise.

The same will be true of you if you continue to take the Charlie Charlie Challenge. Whether physically or spiritually, you will die. It will be tragic. But it won’t be a surprise.

Bears kill and eat men who try to live with them.

Demons devour people who try to play with them.

It’s just what they do.

In Christ, Christians have power over Satan (Colossians 2:15). But that power does not give us license to play with fire. Instead, it gives us confidence to fight our own sin and love our neighbor as we seek to glorify Jesus.

Without Christ, you are a slave to Satan. He has blinded you from seeing the futility of your ways (2 Corinthians 4:4). On your own, he has complete power over you.

And you can be sure of this. Call him Charlie if you want but he is listening. And whatever questions you ask, you’re not going to like the answers.

So instead of taking the Charlie Charlie Challenge, take time to humble yourself before Jesus, the real Master, and ask him to protect you.

Challenge or no challenge, you’re going to need it.

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