Franklin Graham Is Wrong When It Comes To President Obama And Guns

Franklin Graham is wrong.

For the record, I’ve got no problem with Mr. Graham. He does a lot of good for a lot of people. But even good men aren’t immune from being wrong. This time Franklin Graham is wrong when it comes to President Obama and guns.

In a recent Facebook post directed at the president, Graham rightly pointed out that Obama was looking in the wrong place in regards to gun violence. Graham tells us that the human heart, not a gun, is the real culprit behind the violence we are seeing in our nation. I agree with him. If guns are outlawed, people with murder in their hearts will just find something else to do their killing with.

Graham went on to recommend a better remedy to the problem than the president’s Executive Orders, namely the gospel of Jesus Christ. Again, Franklin Graham and I are in agreement.

But here’s where we part ways.

“Your proposal will do nothing to stop the violence that is being glorified by Hollywood. Every night the networks, movie channels, and theaters are filled with programming that glamorizes gun violence—guns are used to shoot, to kill, and to splatter human blood all over screens across America. There needs to be legislation to curb this. I would propose starting with a heavy tax on the manufacturers of any film or game that graphically depicts violence. If violent films and games were taken off the shelves, I believe we would see a dramatic drop in gun violence over the next few years.”

If the real problem is the human heart, why should the government ban movies that glorify violence? And if the real remedy is the gospel of Jesus Christ, why are we so quick to run to the government for a supposed cure? Also, how should we define graphic violence and who gets to decide this?

The second amendment matters. It matters a lot. But so does the first amendment. That’s why it’s a bad idea for the federal government to establish a Do Not Cross Line for violence in media and then impose a heavy tax on any who dare to step over. The founders were not interested in protecting popular speech. Their aim was to protect all speech.

For far too long, we have had a love affair with big government. Even conservatives have fallen into this. Everyone, it seems, is a Don’t Tread On Me flag waving Libertarian until they want something from the government. And the government is always eager to step in to offer their help. But there’s usually a catch.

The loss of freedom.

That can show up when you go to the store to buy a gun or when you sit down to watch television. If the government stops you from doing one, the other is sure to follow.

When it comes to violence in media, we have to use a tool that has grown frightfully dusty in many minds. It’s called discernment. There is some violence that needs to be seen. Schindler’s List is violent but when I feel that my kids are old enough, I’m making them watch it. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is also violent and I’m never showing that to my kids. But I don’t need any help from the federal government as we walk through that process. I can manage just fine.

Progressives seem to think that all of our problems would be solved if the government would just do something about guns. I just watched quite a few of them applaud Whoopie Goldberg on The View when she suggested banning automatic weapons which, for the record, are not even available to the general public.

Many Conservatives believe that the government needs to do something about violent video games and movies in order to solve our social problems. Over 170 thousand of them clicked the like button on Mr. Graham’s Facebook post.

Both groups are showing their stripes and they look eerily similar. They are the red, white and blue stripes of big government.

We must remember that there will never be a perfect society here in our fallen world. But we can do our best to make it a free society. That can only happen when we hold our government accountable in matters such as balancing the budget and protecting us from enemies foreign and domestic.

But with regards to the movies you watch, the games you play and the guns you shoot, we’re all better off when the government minds its own business.

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Four Foods That You Should Never, Ever Eat

Here are four foods that you should never, ever eat.

  1. Bread.
  2. Meat.
  3. Fruit.
  4. Anything that you might potentially enjoy.

I’m kidding of course. But some folks aren’t. They’re called Food Nazis and this time of year, with everyone at least thinking about eating healthier, their frightening food advice is all over the Internet. If you’re not careful, they could do just as much damage to you as the greasy fast food joint around the corner.

I’m a healthy eater. Most of what I eat contains very few ingredients, no gluten and no words that I can’t pronounce. I like eating this way because it makes me feel better than I do when someone has to roll me out of a Golden Corral. Eating healthy works for me, so far at least.

But what works for me may not work for you.

And what works for the guy on Facebook who likes to remind you that you’re probably going to give your kids cancer for serving them Frosted Flakes this morning doesn’t work for anyone.

I love when I hear people talking about trying to eat healthy. I think it’s a smart decision. But while you’re planning out your new year of clean eating, there are a few things that you need to remember.

You’re still going to die. 

Happy New Year! Many of our grandparents cooked biscuits in pig fat while smoking non-filtered cigarettes every day and they lived to be 85. Those of us who avoid such delicacies could still drop dead today. Or when we’re 85. Or 115. But either way, it’s going to end some day. Be good to your body and it will be good to you. There’s some truth to that. But it’s only partially true. Here’s the rest of the story. One day, your body will betray you.

Enjoy what God has given to you. 

It’s not my aim to depress you. Quite the opposite, actually. I once heard a guy tell a group of people that food was never intended to be enjoyed. According to him, it exists only for fueling. Now that’s depressing, unless you happen to be a car. Food is used all throughout Scripture to relay a picture of peace and joy. The problem with our culture is that we’ve turned food into a god. So if I could be so bold as to amend the words of my friend, food was never intended to be worshiped. It’s meant to lead you to worship the One who sovereignly provided it for you.

Stop being an investigator and just eat already.

Yes, be wise. Never eat any food where the word beef on the box is in quotation marks. For example, “Beef” patties. Nothing good can come from this. You’ll probably die within 13 seconds of touching just one “Beef” Patty. On this much, we can all agree.

But your quest for more knowledge about what you put into your body can go terribly wrong. Take water for example. If you drink city water, what will the fluoride do to you? You could get a filter for your faucet but what about the ice cubes? Perhaps you should try a filter for your entire home. But what if the guy who installed it accidentally kicked up some dirt and the termite spray from the previous occupants accidentally gets involved in the process? After hearing all of that, you may just decide to opt out and stick with beer but remember this. Nine out of ten dentists do not recommend brushing your teeth with Natural Light. The tenth one went to Auburn University’s School of Dentistry.

It’s even worse if you get your water from a well. Can you imaging the harm that would be done to your body if a gluten eating stray dog decides to relieve himself in your water supply?

My point is that it never ends. Sure, maybe your chicken was raised on a free range farm and fed a diet of unicorn hair but trace it back far enough and you’ll find something you don’t like.

Along with being smart and informed, just trust God with your food. You know, there is a reason why we pray for God to bless our food before we eat it.

Stop listening to the Food Nazis. 

They can’t be pleased. I can’t prove it but I’m pretty sure that they are direct descendants of those people in the Bible who complained when God made it rain food.

People: “Man, I sure am hungry.”

God: makes food rain from the sky

People: “What is this garbage and where’s the nearest Whole Foods?”

Food is a lot like sex. Our culture has perverted both so badly that people are forgetting how to enjoy them. On one side there are those who swim in a sea of McDonald’s french fries. At the other extreme are those who would have us to believe that eating a steak with a potato is the unpardonable sin. And in the middle, most of us are left feeling confused and guilty with every bite we take.

Enjoy your 2016. Don’t let food ruin it for you. If you’re trying to eat healthier, that’s great. Keep at it because it’s well worth your time. Just remember that food is meant to be consumed by you, not the other way around. The fast food addict and the Food Nazi share a common thread. They are both consumed by their food.

Do your best to avoid both traps.

And just enjoy with a thankful heart whatever it is that is put on the plate before you.

Unless it’s “Beef” Patties.

[7] Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. Ecclesiastes 9:7 (ESV)

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

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It was one of my last nights on my college campus. We weren’t celebrating by getting drunk at some party. We were much more sophisticated.

One of my friends knew how to turn the lights on at the little league baseball fields in town. So at 11:00 at night, I played football with my college buddies on a little league baseball field. Early on in the game something hit me. This was probably the last time that I would ever do something like this.

College kids are supposed to sneak onto baseball fields late at night and play football. But once you graduate, the rules all change. There are real jobs to get up early for. There are bills to pay. I thought about all of those things that night while I dove for passes in the wet grass. This is it. When the sun comes up tomorrow, it’s time to be a grown up.

After that thought, I made it a point to have the most fun I ever had playing football with my friends. That night, I did.

I realized early on that I couldn’t go back. If I really wanted to do the impossible and make the moment last, I had to enjoy the moment while it lasted.

Two decades have passed since then but I’ve learned to live with the same philosophy. There is no pause button. The rewind button is a myth. If you spend all of your time wishing for what was, you’ll miss what is.

There’s not going to be another Wednesday, January 6, 2016. This is the last one. So make it count.

Hug your wife a little harder.

Laugh with your kids a little longer.

Time is a strange and scary thing. It goes by so quickly while simultaneously moving ever so slowly. It’s easy to get fooled by this. We mark our calendars for the start of another weekend. We wish the years away until our kids are able to drive themselves to practice. We long for them to graduate and move out of the house. And then get married. And then get us some grandkids. And then, hopefully, come back to that same house to visit us.

It’s a vicious, ugly cycle.

But there is a better way.

Enjoy the moment. There will be other moments but this one will never happen again. Make it count.

Christmas break is over for most of the country. Kids are finally back in school. Many parents talk about this like a herd of lepers is finally leaving the house. They’re actually glad to not have their own small children around so much. This is tragic.

One day, you will look back on Wednesday, January 6, 2016. You might remember it as just another day or it could be one of your favorite memories. Not because something remarkable happened.

But just because you took the time to enjoy the little moments rather than wishing them away in hopes of some better, more fulfilling milestone.

This is the only Wednesday, January 6, 2016 you’ll ever get.

Make it count.

Enjoy the moment.

[7] Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. [8] Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head.  [9] Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain(1) life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. [10] Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might,(2) for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going. Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 (ESV)

 

The System Is Rigged

The system is rigged.

Usually a judge will recuse himself from a trial if he knows the defendant. Not this judge. And this judge doesn’t just know the defendant. He’s helping him.

The system is rigged.

Here’s something you can count on. There will be a day of judgment for you. You may trick yourself into believing that it won’t happen but it will. This isn’t the stuff of crazy street preachers standing on corners holding signs that remind us that the end is near. Jesus himself warned of a day of judgment (Matthew 11:20-24). Whether you spend your days in Sunday School, strung out on meth or some combination of the two, you will one day stand before Jesus (Romans 14:12).

The thing that sets us apart is how we will be treated on that day. For non-believers, the day of judgement will be terrible. Jesus said that entire cities that have been wiped off the map because of their sin will have it better than those who stand before him with unrepentant hearts. Hell is the final and eternal destination of every person who refuses to repent.

But for Christians, there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). The day of judgment will be more like a reward ceremony for them.

That’s because the system is rigged.

The Judge who every human being who ever lived will one day stand before holds his people in his hand, guaranteeing their heavenly arrival.

[28] I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:28 (ESV)

The Judge, before whom all people will one day give an account, is at this very moment, praying for his people.

[33] Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. [34] Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Romans 8:33-34 (ESV)

And the One who will judge every human being in his prefect righteousness has given his people his perfect righteousness.

[21] For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)

When I was a kid I heard a preacher say that on the day of judgment there would be a giant movie screen and the whole world would get to see every sin that I ever committed. You can imagine my excitement at that thought. Like many believers, I’ve spent most of my life fearing the day of judgement.

But for believers, there is no need to fear.

Because the system is rigged.

All in your favor.

And all for the Judge’s glory.

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Further Proof That Kenneth Copeland and Jesse Duplantis Should Not Be Listened To

The big take away that these two men want you to have from this clip is that if they don’t have their own private jets, God won’t be able to talk to them.

Here’s how Amos, the Biblical author to whom these two men refer, would respond to this clip.

[1] “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion,
and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria,
the notable men of the first of the nations,
to whom the house of Israel comes!
[2] Pass over to Calneh, and see,
and from there go to Hamath the great;
then go down to Gath of the Philistines.
Are you better than these kingdoms?
Or is their territory greater than your territory,
[3] O you who put far away the day of disaster
and bring near the seat of violence?

[4] “Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory
and stretch themselves out on their couches,
and eat lambs from the flock
and calves from the midst of the stall,
[5] who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp
and like David invent for themselves instruments of music,
[6] who drink wine in bowls
and anoint themselves with the finest oils,
but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!
[7] Therefore they shall now be the first of those who go into exile,
and the revelry of those who stretch themselves out shall pass away.”

[8] The Lord GOD has sworn by himself, declares the LORD, the God of hosts:

“I abhor the pride of Jacob
and hate his strongholds,
and I will deliver up the city and all that is in it.”

[9] And if ten men remain in one house, they shall die. [10] And when one’s relative, the one who anoints him for burial, shall take him up to bring the bones out of the house, and shall say to him who is in the innermost parts of the house, “Is there still anyone with you?” he shall say, “No”; and he shall say, “Silence! We must not mention the name of the LORD.”

[11] For behold, the LORD commands,
and the great house shall be struck down into fragments,
and the little house into bits.
[12] Do horses run on rocks?
Does one plow there(1) with oxen?
But you have turned justice into poison
and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood(2)—
[13] you who rejoice in Lo-debar,(3)
who say, “Have we not by our own strength
captured Karnaim(4) for ourselves?”
[14] “For behold, I will raise up against you a nation,
O house of Israel,” declares the LORD, the God of hosts;
“and they shall oppress you from Lebo-hamath
to the Brook of the Arabah.”

Amos 6 (ESV)

So the next time your pastor preaches about false prophets and you have a hard time visualizing, just think about Kenneth and Jesse.

If Kenneth or Jesse happen to be your pastor, repent and find a real church.

The Ten Best Books That I Read In 2015

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I had a good reading year in 2015. Here, in no particular order, are my ten favorites.

Lion of Liberty by Harlow Unger

Patrick Henry is definitely the most underrated of the founding fathers. This book will help you to appreciate the man, flaws and all, who helped to build our nation. It also shows you that it didn’t take long after the revolution before the very people who fought against the throne wanted to replace it with something eerily similar. Patrick Henry did his best to keep that from happening and we should all be grateful. The United States could really use a Patrick Henry these days but if he were running for president today, he’d probably be polling around 3 percent.

“As this government stands,” Patrick Henry thundered, “I despise and abhor it … I speak as one poor individual  but when I speak, I speak the language of thousands. If I am asked what is to be done when a people feel themselves intolerably oppressed, my answer is … ‘overturn the government!'”

The Appeal by John Grisham

I started reading this book just as Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was gaining traction. The similarities were troubling.

 

“Coley would make a beautiful candidate – loud, outrageous, colorful, able to say anything with no concern about the fallout. An anti-politician the press would follow like ants.”

On Writing by Stephen King

I’ve never read a Stephen King book before. Unlike his usual work, this one is simply meant to help you to become a better writer. Whether that’s what you want or not, you’ll still find On Writing interesting.

“One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words, because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones.”

The Martian by Andy Weir

Weir knows his science. At least I think he does. How would I know? This book reads like he does. The Martian gets pretty technical but it is a very interesting concept and the story really picks up at the end.

“Six days into what should be the greatest two months of my life, and it’s turned into a nightmare.” 

Twelve Ordinary Men by John MacArthur

I read this book while preparing to preach on Jesus calling his twelve disciples. MacAruthur did in this book what many authors try to do but fail. He gave a lot of information in a readable, efficient manner. If you’d like to learn more about the disciples as the real men that they were, I can’t think of a better book for you to read.

“In other words, he knew all their faults before he chose them.”

True Courage by Steve Farrar

This easy to read book uses the life of Daniel to encourage Christian men to live with conviction in a culture that is hostile to their faith.

“God abandoned the nation, but God never abandoned Daniel. God never abandons His people, even in times of great distress and tyranny.”

Depression by Ed Welch

I read this book for a counseling session that I was leading. If you have a friend who is struggling with depression and you don’t know how to help him, it would do both of you a lot of good to read through this book together.

“Therefore, depression, regardless of the causes, is a time to answer the deepest and most important of all questions: Whom will I trust? Whom will I worship?”

The Real Lincoln by Thomas DiLorenzo

There’s a pretty big difference between the Lincoln you grew up learning about and the real Lincoln. This is a fascinating book.

“Between 1800 and 1860, dozens of countries, including the entire British Empire, ended slavery peacefully; only in the United States was a war involved.” 

How To Survive the Most Critical Five Seconds of Your Life by Tim Larkin

This is an interesting book on self-defense. Hopefully, you’ll never need it. But if you ever find yourself in a fight or flight situation, you’ll benefit from this book much more than you would by simply relying on what you saw in the first three Rocky movies.

“Once you decide to act, act immediately.”

Through My Windows by Soup The Chemist

I’m probably the only guy I know who read this book. It’s written by one of the forefathers of Christian hip hop and it gives a really intriguing backstage look at life before Lecrae.

“That experience planted a seed in me, causing me to think heavily in my teenage years about how this white man had given his time to us bad black kids every Sunday morning.”

Unless I just can’t control myself I won’t be writing for the rest of the year. Thank you very much for reading my pastoral ramblings. I appreciate you very much and I sincerely hope that you’re Christmas is merry and your new year is happy.

Grace and Peace!

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The Five Most Memorable Things That Happened To Me In 2015

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2015 has been a bad year for the Atlanta Falcons. It was a bad year for the Georgia Bulldogs. The same goes for the Braves. And America. 2015 was a really bad year for America.

But it was a good year for me.

There’s a sermon in there somewhere about placing your identity in things that will inevitably let you down but I’ll spare you for the moment. Here are five really good things that happened to me in 2015.

I baptized my youngest son. 

He had been wrestling with the gospel for quite some time. It was really cool to be there with him when he finally lost the battle. I got to talk to him about repentance from sin, the love of God and the resurrection of Christ. And I got to watch him finally embrace those truths. Being there to baptize my son as my brother will go down as one of the highlights of my life.

I lost 25 bucks.  

My wife made a joke right before my oldest son’s soccer game. She told my him to ask me if I could pay him $50 if he ever scored a goal. My wife and I laughed. My son did not.

“So, can you?”

I said no but I promised to pay him half of that if he ever got a goal. He spends most of his time doing a fine job of defending his own goal so I felt that I had made a responsible financial decision. Two minutes into the game, he got the ball and dribbled the length of the field for a goal. He turned to me with that Donald Trump look in his eye. His team ended up losing the game and I lost my $25. And that was okay.

Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose.

Pastors are often asked what book they reread every year. As much as I love reading, I don’t have one of those. When I finish reading it, I’m done with it unless I need to look up something in it.

Not so with quality movies and television shows.

My wife and I started watching Friday Night Lights again. I know, it’s not very pastoral. But it is a lot of fun. I don’t watch much television but I really enjoy watching television with my wife and talking about the messed up characters the next morning.

And although the show is fictional, there is a lot of reality in it. One of those realities is that if you are looking for a job where you would like to make a difference in young lives, you can’t do much better than a coach or a teacher.

I got to eat lunch with an old friend. 

My lifelong friend Keith Keller has spent the last few years in the Czech Republic. In 2015 he had to come home for a few months. When he left for his new European home, I didn’t know if we’d ever again get to eat Mexican food while talking about Good Will Hunting. In 2015 we did. I’m really going to miss him in 2016.

I’m still preaching through Matthew. 

I started that at the end of 2014. Right now, I’m in chapter ten. So by my math, I should be done preaching through Matthew about the same time that Donald Trump finishes building that wall he keeps talking about.

Matthew has been a challenging but rewarding book to preach through. There have been quite a few intimidating passages but, as always, God is faithful and his word is powerful.

I didn’t visit Europe in 2015. No one made a movie about my life. The folks at Time didn’t name me Person of the Year. Even if those things did happen, I don’t think that this list would be any different. The most memorable moments of our lives are often the ones that are seemingly mundane at the moment.

So if you ever find yourself in the middle of a dull moment in 2016, put down your phone or else you just might miss one of the highlights of your year.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

The Good News About Ouija Boards

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The cartoon voices I was hearing suddenly changed.

That’s probably a bad way for me to start things off here. Please don’t report me.

The voices I was hearing were coming from my television, not my head. My kids were taking it easy and watching one of their favorite shows. But while I was crawling under the Christmas tree to add some extra water, I noticed that the voices had changed. The characters weren’t the same. My kids were watching an entirely different show.

My first assumption was that some intern down at cartoon headquarters hit the wrong button and switched shows before he was supposed to.

It turns out that I was wrong.

My kids told me that the characters on the show they were watching started talking to spirits and playing around with ouija boards. Now remember, this was a Saturday morning cartoon.

Ouija boards.

Ouija boards!

What ever happened to the days when all we had to worry about was the Coyote dropping an anvil on himself?

Something didn’t sit right with my boys. So they changed the channel. Now to be fair, the cartoon they switched to had characters who were farting on each other but I’ll take that over ouija boards any day.

I was proud of my boys for their discernment and I told them so. The decision they had made on their own reminded me of a few important things about parenting.

First, unless you want your kid to be featured on Intervention or Celebrity Rehab one day, don’t use the television as a babysitter. Just because it’s a cartoon doesn’t meant that your kids should be watching it.

Here’s the second lesson. Remain in an open conversation with your kids. When you watch television together and you find garbage, don’t just change the channel. Explain what the problem is. And then change the channel. Do this quickly.

Finally, you can’t and shouldn’t be with your kids at all times. If you are, it will do just as much harm to them as allowing the TV to be their babysitter. At some point, they have to make their own decisions. And those decisions will be based on the way that they see you making your decisions. If you allow the media to spoon feed you whatever it is that they happen to be selling that day, your kids will be down for the same thing. But if they see you questioning the narrative and calling evil what it is, there’s a good chance that they’ll follow in your footsteps.

Our kids won’t always make the right decisions. There will be times when they keep watching what should have never been on in the first place, when they say what they should have kept to themselves and when they do something really, really stupid. Our children, it turns out, are just like us. We all do dumb things.

But when they get something right, you need to let them know.

When I praise one of my sons for doing something right, he usually says the same thing.

“Can I get paid for that?”

We’re a capitalist family.

I always say no when my son asks me that question. There are some things you just do because it’s the right thing to do.

But a parent’s job is more than simply training kids to make right decisions. It goes deeper than that. The job of a parent is to train the hearts of our children to spot foolishness when it pops up. Even if it happens to be during their favorite show.

You can be sure of this. Your kids are growing up in a world of foolishness. Without your instruction, they’ll never know the dangers that are waiting for them. They’ll believe everything every professor, pastor and politician ever tells them. As they get older, the ouija boards are less obvious but they are most certainly still there.

The bad news is that you won’t always be there.

The good news is that your influence can be.

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The Christian’s Guide To Being Called All Sorts Of Ugly Names

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It’s inevitable.

It doesn’t matter how loving you are or how articulate you are. No amount of charity and goodwill on your part will help you to avoid it.

If you are seriously committed to following Jesus, you will be called names.

Here are a few of my favorites.

Hater.

Lunatic.

Neanderthal.

Caveman.

Bigot.

And then there are the ones that I can’t print here with this being a family blog and all.

The first step to responding to the name calling is simple. Simple to understand, that is. It’s not always simple to apply.

Rejoice.

When Paul was on trial for his faith in Christ, we are told that he was cheerful in his defense (Acts 24:10). Peter tells his readers to rejoice because their suffering is a reminder of their union with Christ (1 Peter 4:12-14).

So the next time someone calls you a right-wing, hate-filled Bible thumper because you quote a Bible verse, take it with a smile.

When religious leaders brought Paul before the governor, they referred to him as a “plague.” Although much has changed in the hundreds of years since the Paul Plague, some things have not. The world still sees Christians as a plague.

In a world where it’s completely normal for grown men to self-identity as six-year-old girls, the absolute worst thing that could be said about any Christian is that they fit right in. But still, that’s what many leaders in the church are trying to do. So we have pastors pretending to be celebrities on the Oprah channel and so-called Christian professors wearing Muslim headgear because, “we worship the same god.”

The Church will not make a difference in the world by acting just like it. Difference comes by being different. That’s what Jesus meant when he told his disciples to be salt and light. Salt is different from the decay around it. Light is different from the darkness. If not, what’s the purpose?

The call to follow Christ is a call to be different. Not by making signs that tell people who God hates and screaming on some college campus. And not by dressing like it’s the 1800s. No, the difference we are called to make comes by living a lifestyle that reflects the gospel. And no matter how kindly you do that, you will face hardship. Salt and light aren’t always welcomed guests.

At best, you will be called names.

But you could also lose your job.

Or family and friends could abandon you.

And you could even have your head removed from the rest of your body.

Regardless of the package that persecution comes to your door wrapped in, take it with a smile. Jesus was ridiculed, abandoned by loved ones, beaten and murdered. Why should you expect to be treated any different from your Master?

It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. Matthew 10:25 (ESV)

Jesus didn’t come to give you a life of ease. He didn’t come to make you popular. And he didn’t come for your glory. He came for his glory.

And a real good way for that glory to be seen is on the smiling face of one of his followers who has just been called some terrible name.

So the next time you are called a hater, a bigot, a plague or worse, just remember, you’re in good company.

And whatever hardship you face on this earth is no match for the eternal joy that awaits you when your time here is done and you are with Christ forever.

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. 1 Peter 4:19 (ESV)

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