Monthly Archives: June 2012

The mistake

Uh oh.

I’ve made a mistake.

Well, I’ve made many, many mistakes over my lifetime, but none quite so deceptive as the current one.

For a few years now, I’ve been reading the books of Christian authors who write about the “Christian life” and while I believed they were just helping me discern what God wants from me, just this morning God showed me in scripture:

Galatians 1:6-9 (KJV) which says, “6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”

My latest, greatest favorite was Francis Chan’s “Crazy Love” book.

This book grabbed my attention quickly because the focus was on the “lukewarm” believer of Revelation 3:16 (KJV) which says, “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”

The whole book is crafted around the concept that a “lukewarm” Christian is one who lacks “good works” in reaching out and helping others. On the surface, that’s convicting, especially for believers, but somehow, Chan’s writing has made me feel like “works” is part of salvation.

That is not biblical.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV) is clear about how we are saved. It is by grace alone. “8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

After some thought, and lots of scripture reading and prayer, God’s given me an understanding of His words. When matched against men’s and women’s interpretation of His truth, it is definitely misconstrued and terribly misused.

I wonder if instead when Jesus speaks about “lukewarm,” He is referring to the state of our heart. Where we kind of half-heartedly believe in God. We half-heartedly share our faith, we don’t really die to Him. In other words “We still call the shots.”

When we really, absolutely die to Christ, we don’t need any other author to tell us how to live. The bible is our sole source for living in the truth, the way and the life. It is for our instruction, reproof and conviction, according to 2 Timothy 3:16.

The more we read what man’s interpretation of scripture is, the more we are apt to start believing him over what God intends.

I used to have a hard time understanding the bible, but over time, God has lifted the veil from my eyes and set in my heart what His intentions are. I have to believe, that for every other Christian, God will do, wants to do, or is doing the same thing.

I’m not saying Francis Chan or hundreds of other Christian authors aren’t Christians. God may be speaking to them and giving them an understanding of the scriptures, but He will do that for any who seek Him.

Be wary of those who profit mightily from interpreting God’s word for our lives.

Matthew 7: 14-15 (KJV) says, “14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

My salvation and your salvation are dependent upon our faith in God’s grace alone.

It is personal, it’s definitive and it’s eternal.


The translation

I’m a firm believer that God speaks to us primarily through His word. That’s the reason He wrote it. It is our source of truth.

The only “real” truth in a world full of lies.

Pastors translate passages of the bible and call it a sermon, authors write books and bloggers write blogs around snippets of scripture, and much our culture has been trained to read the bible via a daily devotional email or in hard-copy devotions that were made so popular over the last couple of decades.

I’m not going to bag on pastors or authors. I enjoy reading and listening to other people’s viewpoints about scripture, for sure, but I don’t always accept their view as “gospel truth.”

I know alot of people who say that certain authors break down the scripture in such a way that they can understand it.

That bothers me, because just the change of a word or a phrase, and the use of only one verse, can change the whole meaning and therefore the interpretation of scripture as well. When that happens, we are relying more on man’s interpretation than on God’s word to enlighten us to His truths.

I get a few different email devotions every morning and I read them, then I look up the same verses in different translations other than what the devotion used, and I look at the scriptures around the verse to get a sense of the context.

This brings understanding to God’s word.

For example, earlier this week someone shared a verse with me that had alot of meaning for them and they gave it as an encouragement to me. The verse Jeremiah 29:11 is well known in the NIV translation; it goes like this:

For I know the plans I have for you, “declares the Lord,” plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

This verse is one that inspires such hope for Christians, but this is a bit different than what the King James version states.

KJV says “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

To put context ( vs. 1-13) around this verse, God is speaking to the elders, priests and others whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive and is warning them against false prophets. He implores them to listen to Him and gives instruction to them about seeking Him and praying to Him alone.

In many devotions, verse 11 in the NIV has been pulled out of context and is primarily crafted around “our plan, our prosperity, our hope.”

It’s a feel-good verse for sure, but how many Christians do you know who never get to realize positive plans, lose jobs/livelihoods, feel hopeless over a terminal illness or sudden death.

It’s seems a false hope to me.

The KJV version of this verse seems to say that the Lord was thinking about His people in captivity, thought of peace and no evil for them, and that they would have an expected end.

An “expected end” could mean anything but I would never assume it meant prosperity.

As the scriptures get whittled down even further and get mingled with the interpretations of man, I know I must remain vigilant in searching for God’s truth, even in a feel-good devotion or an uplifting sermon.

Hail to the King!
The King James version, that is.

The phrase that pays

Trust and verify is a signature phrase made famous by former U.S. president Ronald Regan as he discussed relations with the Soviet Union.

What he meant was that while a source of information might be considered reliable, he was going to perform additional research to verify that such information was accurate, or trustworthy.

This is a very good approach to many things in life, especially since the Internet allows ANY information/news to be published without verification whatsoever, but there’s another place where this approach should be used.

That place is in church.

For many, many years, I trusted what my pastor preached from the pulpit. The primary reason I trusted him was that he looked up scripture in his bible and encouraged us to do the same. In fact, some pastors, would wait until the congregation found the bible passages before they would continue, and I remember many Sundays where I heard lots of page-turning as the pastor walked us through key bible verses on Christian instruction/living. (Oh, I miss those days.)

A few years go when my church started using large screens for worship music I thought it was a great idea, but soon enough, I started seeing scripture up on the screen as well. For a long time, I thought that was okay too since we were “keeping up” with technology, but eventurally, the pastor quit urging people to look the passages up on their own.

That idea made me uncomfortable, especially because there are now so many translations of the bible, that depending on the translation being used, if one word or a key phrase gets changed whether it’s by accident or not, it could change the whole meaning of a passage.

Over time, my church started using quotes from other bible scholars, which seemed okay because they were still quoting scripture; but now, many churches — my own included — uses quotes from secular authors, Buddhists monks, scientists and other wise individuals in conjunction with or simply without bible verses.

It seems like we (the church) are starting to put more weight on man’s word rather than God’s. We identify with another man’s intrepretation of life, scripture and our future over God’s truth. Think about it. How many people on FB use quotes for daily living that are not bible-based? Where did people get the idea to use those quotes? An email devotion? A Sunday sermon? Or, did FB suggest that “Quote of the day?”

This is foretold in the bible. I’ve listed but a sampling of the words of warning the bible gives about false teaching and apostate churches in the latter days/end times.

Psalm 118:8 says “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”

Matthrew 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

Matthew 24:4-5 “4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.”

Matthew 24:10-13 “10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Romans 16:17-18 “17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”

2 Timothy 4:2-5 “2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

God got ahold of me quite a few months ago and has been pressing upon me the importance of searching His truth. He’s made it very clear what is true and what is not. Since then I attend a different church, but I wouldn’t say that I trust the teaching there 100% either. They do teach from the bible, but God’s opened my eyes and my heart to trust but verify using His word over man’s — always.

The lifeguard’s rule

The bible says we should love the sinner, hate the sin.

But what does that look like?
I believe sharing the truth with someone is the way we show love, afterall, we’re talking about true love.

Would you lie to someone to spare their feelings, even though what their doing is wrong? What does that accomplish?
According to 2 Cor. 6:14 – 7:1, we are not to align ourselves with unbelievers.

6:14 Do not be yolked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17 Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” 18 And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

Chapter 7:1 “Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”

When we choose a friendship with someone who’s living in sin and wants to stay in their sin over our obedience to Christ, we’ve made the friendship an idol. It stands between us and God. That’s not biblical.

I heard a really good analogy last night of what happens when we enmesh ourselves into other people’s sin with the idea that we can save them through staying in the friendship/relationship.

From my brother-in-law (BIL) who took an Advanced Lifeguard class:

He said that he was trained to save lives and learned early on that a drowning person is very dangerous. The one who is drowning flails around and grabs at anything or anyone trying to get purchase, but when it is another person they’ve grabbed onto, the instinct is to pull them down with them in an effort to save themselves. That’s why you hear of so many multiple deaths in drowning accidents when fathers, siblings and friends try desperately to save a drowning victim.

Lifeguard Rule #1. Save yourself, so you can save others.
My BIL was trained to subdue the person he’s trying to save, whether that meant punching them in the face, pinning their arms from behind, or by whatever means necessary, so they both don’t drown. In doing this, both people are saved.

When we have a prodigal child or adult, a homosexual, bi-sex, or transgender child or friend, an alcoholic, drug user, whatever, if we choose to walk alongside them to preserve the relationship, it is the equivalent to allowing a drowning victim to grab us and drag us down into the abyss. If we do not disable them from grabbing at us, it will cost both lives; and eternal life for the ones we’re trying to save.

Disabling them in this instance means to set a boundary with them. Allowing them to live in their sin, without becoming a party to it. Any time you do spend with the person it should be intentional and eternity focused.

Ya, this idea is unpopular with culture and even in many churches, but that is why Matt. 7:13-14 says “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Ephesians 5:1-13 says “1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater —has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.”

So, I have to ask myself, my friends and other Christians, is it really true love to hold an unbeliever’s hand as they walk the road to hell?

I know. This seems harsh, but eternity is at stake here.

The language of prayer


 In regular conversation between humans, and animals, there’s a “call” and an “answer.” One calls, the other responds. This is the way we should pray as well.

I know for me, I’ve called God alot and told Him of my troubles, my concerns, my anguish, but I haven’t so often opened dialogue with “God, I need to hear (an answer) from you. I don’t know what you want me to think, feel, respond. Direct me in your word. Show me what you want me to know, learn, do.”

The Psalms were written as David’s prayers to God, but the first one isn’t a prayer. It’s more of a meditation. A time where he deliberately thought about God and what it looks like to live a righteous life.

Meditation is also an important aspect of prayer. People meditate everyday without even realizing they’re doing it. Every thought, dream, plan, and desire we have are forms of meditation. And, the things we meditate on form us.

I’ve spent countless hours thinking about, dreaming over, and planning through almost everything in my life, but not through the lens of God’s desire for me. Rather I’ve thought about what “I” wanted to do, what makes “me” happy, or how “I” could change to do things better or differently. It hadn’t occurred to me that I was firmly entrenched in meditating mainly on myself and under my own power.

I’d left no room for God. And worse yet, my ideas often didn’t turn out quite like I dreamed they would and others completely flamed out.

As I learn more about meditation and prayer, I want to focus on righteous living as David did and practice letting God direct me in prayer, rather than always calling on him with all my problems.

Psalm 1: 1-2 says “Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful, but his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”

This will definitely be a change for me, but I am excited to see what God will do. He’s the master of transformation, but sometimes His methods are hard to understand, yet I will remain open to His desire for me.

The Sabbath

This has been heavy on my heart all week.

I’ve heard the topic of Sabbath from the pulpit a few times before, so I can’t claim that this is a new concept to me, but I heard a sermon about it again last Sunday. Only this time, I was forced to look at it through the lens of idolatry and slavery, and obedience and redemption.

God created the heavens and the earth, and everything in it in six days and rested on the seventh. He rested and reflected on all that He had done.

He thought it so important that he made it one of the “Big Ten.” In the Old Testament, people would be put to death for not observing the Sabbath, but in the New Testament, Jesus proclaimed it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath. (Matt. 12) This is in answer to the Pharisees who questioned him for healing a man on the Sabbath and saving a sheep from danger. He responded to them in verse 13 “…Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.”

But sin has corrupted this idea of “doing well” and really, it’s no surprise because Satan can’t create anything new, he can only corrupt what God has created and commanded.

Sin makes us feel like we will never be productive enough. Culture tells us we’re lazy and unproductive when we rest. It also offers us so many toys, activities and distractions that we must have, must do, or must experience, that those things breed envy, greed and lust in us. That’s bad enough, but then many times, we do these things on the Sabbath because it’s the only day we have all to ourselves, or so we tell ourselves.

Instead of honoring God, we may or may not go to church, then we fill the rest of the day with things that give us immediate gratification and fulfill our selfish desires, which serves ourselves and not Him or others who may be in need.

For me personally, I never thought that doing things that gratify me (shopping or working on projects around the house) on the Sabbath stole honor from God, but it does. Clearly, it is a form of idolatry and slavery to do something that gratifies me in exchange for obedience to God.

To be obedient to God, I must observe the day He’s set aside for me to rest. And, if I get to feeling guilty like I should be doing something with my time, I’ll know that’s just Satan trying to separate me from my God.

Thank you God for continuing to redeem me from the slavery of self.