Category Archives: prayer

The pride of life, lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes

ME

The bible warns us about the pride of life, lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes, but yet those are three concepts that define our world (culture).

Our culture assails us with phrases like “Do it Your Way,” “Have it Your Way,” and “Do it.”

Media in all forms: TV shows that capitalize on self-centered, crass and degrading themes; commercials that tempt us with things it says we deserve: new cars, trendy clothes, success; and much of music and gaming media that glorifies the lowest, basest self-centered instincts we have (eg. violence, lust, pride).

1 John 2: 15-17 says – 15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.

So what I’m wondering is why we have an overabundance of pastors who preach prosperity, happiness and success when these are the very ideas we are warned to stay away from. I mean, think about it. If you go to a church where the pastor says you can have anything you want, God will favor you, and bless you for asking for whatever you want, isn’t the pastor tempting you with the very things that we are warned against in the above passage?

Jesus was tempted by Satan after fasting for 40 days. There’s an account of this in Matt 4: 1-11 and in Luke 4: 1-13. Jesus was really hungry and physically tired and that is when Satan swooped in and tempted him to turn stones into bread. Jesus rebuked him with God’s word so Satan led him to a high place overlooking cities and lands. He told Jesus that if he’d worship him, he would give Jesus all the kingdoms and land. Jesus rebuked him again with God’s word. Satan tried one more time by tempting him to take a risk, jump off the high place and let his angels save him. Jesus rebuked him a third time.

Jesus resisted satisfying his hunger because it was Satan, the evil one, who was tempting him. Jesus resisted the idea of power over kingdoms because Satan, the evil one, was doing the tempting. Jesus resisted taking the risk of falling and being caught by angels because it was Satan who was tempting him.

Are you seeing a pattern here?
Actually, I see two things happening here.

1. The pattern is that Satan is tempting Jesus with the very things our culture tells us are ours for the taking. But another, probably more important pattern is that every time Jesus is tempted, it is in weakness (hunger, tiredness), but He uses God’s word to defeat Satan.

2. The other thing I see is that Satan is trying to tempt Jesus with things that Jesus already has. As God, the father in flesh, He can satisfy his hunger, He already owns everything in the world, and He doesn’t have to take risks because He directs everything from the angels on down.

The take away for this is simple yet very hard for people to do, because it is
counter-cultural, wholly un-PC, and will for sure make you an outcast in society. It could even result in your persecution, loss of job/friends/family and ultimately loss of life.

When we hear messages, whether they come from culture or the pulpit, we need to look at God’s word, the Holy Bible, to see what He says about the message we’ve heard. Does it line up with His truth, or is this something God warns us about?

The other thing we must remember is that as a “child of God” we already have life-sustaining, living water and bread (God’s word) by which we will never thirst, nor ever go hungry. Also, as a “child of God” we are already heirs to the kingdom. The big one; not the earthly, corruptible cities on earth. Finally, as a “child of God” we don’t have to work towards success because our lives are in God’s hands.

His will, will be done.

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The SONshine

cross

Pumping Sunshine

When a pastor makes “I Declare” statements in relation to our future, or uses the phrase “Holistic Prosperity,” and/or claims that God wants to “Supersize You” – Run. Not slowly, but very, very quickly away from this heresy.

I know it makes for warm and fuzzy, feel good sensation, but that is NOT the gospel.

Gospels that preach the message above are preaching a different gospel. One in which we are warned about numerous times in the bible. 2 Cor 11:4 and Gal 1:7 are just two examples.

God does NOT promise to prosper us as some pastors promote by the use of Jer. 29:11. In this passage, God is talking to Israel because they are captive and He is letting them know that He has plans for them. The NT, Matt 28:16-20, Mk 16:15, 1 Cor 15:1-4, Acts 10:42, just to name a few, gives very clear instruction to current day believers about our role on earth. There’s no promise of being prospered, and in fact, we are warned that the world will hate us Matt 10:22, John 15:18 and that we would be persecuted and in some cases, even killed for our faith.

Our future IS in His hands, and we have eternal life through the death of God’s son, Jesus Christ. His death paid for our sins. (Romans 6:23) But it doesn’t mean our circumstances on earth will change. It DOES mean we know what our future will be.

Now that is pumping SONshine.


The consequences

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People, especially young people, think that bible teaching sermons are old-fashioned, outdated and boring, but this is really what happens when verse by verse bible teaching isn’t happening in the church.

1. It strips the authority of God over the mind of the hearer. God is silenced.

2. It strips the lordship of Christ over His church. God leads the church by speaking to the church, but when it isn’t… preached, God is silenced.

3. It hinders the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit uses scripture to save. The scripture also sanctifies believers (changes us).

4. It legitimizes a lack of submission to God. Instead people will submit to the pastor giving the “talk.”

5. It removes spiritual depth and transcendence from the souls of people and it cripples worship. When people don’t have spiritual depth, they are easily manipulated by shallow worship music that is more me-centered than God-centered.

6. When the preacher doesn’t preach scripture, he devalues the importance of studying the bible.

7. It robs people of their only true source of help. God’s word is an anchor when people have really tough times.

8. It creates a disconnect between sound doctrine and life.

9. It dishonors God by omitting the truths that offend and terrify sinners. It is the same as lying to people when the truth is not preached. People cannot change if they don’t understand how sinful they are.

10. It removes protection from error. Faithful shepherds know they have to protect the flock from false teaching.

11. It deceives people into thinking they’ve heard from God when what they’ve really heard is a pastor’s or author’s idea about something. The way to hear from God is to read His word and hear His word.

12. It keeps a pastor from speaking for Christ. They are supposed to stand-in for the glorious shepherd until His return.

13. It disconnects people from the legacy of the past.

14. It breeds a congregation that is weak and indifferent to the glory of God. They can’t find joy because they don’t know the nature of God.

15. It severs the pastor from the sanctifying power of the word. If he isn’t sanctified, then his congregation won’t be either.

Summary of John MacArthur’s teaching on The Consequences of Non-Expository Preaching.
Part 2


The defenseless

armor

I have a question for you. Do you take your bible to church anymore? I mean, with the advancement of technology, many churches now broadcast scripture, poems, quotes and other passages onto large screens that can be seen even in the nosebleed section of the sanctuary. Heck, you don’t even have to wear your glasses to read them because they are printed in XL font, I’m sure.

With this kind of access, you might be wondering who needs to bring their bible anymore?

This is a popular belief in most churches today, but do you understand how dangerous and vulnerable you are when you do not use your own bible?

To take a pastor’s word about a passage leaves you vulnerable to “his” interpretation and because there are so many translations of the bible out there, many times the scriptures being put on the screens are paraphrased from an already paraphrased bible (The Message, NLT, etc.) A common practice now is for a pastor to craft his sermon and then look for scripture that supports his theme, and then he looks for the translation of the verse(s) that fit most accurately with “his” point of view (theology).

Pastors are charged with preaching God’s word and teaching the “flock.” 1 Timothy is such a rich text for godly living, pastoral and elder duties, and contending for the faith. And 1 John 4:1-6 tells us to test the spirits as does 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

Believers should never take man’s word alone, even a pastor’s word, because we are living in times that Matthew 24 warns about — a time when false prophets with false doctrine will be rife. When you don’t have your bible with you at church to look up the scriptures the pastor is using, you are at his mercy and his understanding of it. Men can easily twist God’s word to fit the theme of their sermon for the day.

To put this in terms that make more sense, pretend you are a soldier on active duty, and you’re supposed to be on the front lines of defense in a war. You saunter out of the barracks with your street clothes on and no weapon. You stand in front of your officer for inspection before going directly into the battle. That’s pathetic, but to make matters worse, the commanding officer gives you a “pep” talk and then sends you into battle as you are.

Does this EVEN make sense?

Heck no. You’re not ready to defend anything, and the officer has basically sent you on a suicide mission.

I’m imploring believers to get into their bibles. God’s word is the “Sword of the Lord” and you can’t fight a (spiritual) battle without it. When Christians don’t read their bibles, they in effect have turned in their weapon. Carry it with you everywhere you go. Easy enough to do with “bible apps” for any kind of technology. Read it everyday, test your pastor’s words against the truth he has been ordained to teach.

We are in a serious spiritual battle, especially in our churches, and while Ephesians 6:12 tells us the battle is against principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness, and evil in the highest places, we are defenseless against this kind of power, but God’s word is our armor and the weapon we use to fight the good fight – Ephesians 6:10-20.


The truth about lies – part 5

Please don’t stone me for this blog topic, but much money has been made on discussing sin — all types. We all sin, so that isn’t up for discussion, but somehow, many people have made their life’s work and paycheck by touring the country talking to about (name any sin).

One in particular though, is a “hot” topic right now — homosexuality, or whatever acronyms that are used to describe some facet of it. No matter how we “frame” it, it is still sin. To give time, resources, and so much explanation as so many have to sin, serves only to propagate the lie that deceives us into negating the power of Christ’s death on the cross to overcome ALL sin. The lie says we (people) can save others — that we (people) shouldn’t leave any behind — that we (people) are responsible if people die damned in their sin.

We ALL sin and fall short of the glory of God – Rom 3:23.

That’s exactly why He sent His son, but what I can’t understand is why we (people) spend so much time trying to understand cause and effect of sin (all kinds) when the bible says sin is the result of the fall. There are so many discussions, books, and speakers on sin, that all they do is blunt the true, wicked nature that we all have. Rom 3:10 says NONE are righteous, not even one.

The bible is sufficient for all people no matter what our struggles are. We don’t need to be told from the pulpit or in books the how’s, the why’s, the what to do’s about sin. Jer 17:9 says our hearts are desperately sick and we can’t understand it.

If we really believe that God is who He says He is and His son’s blood is the atonement for our sins, then He alone can release us from the bondage of our sin. The more we try to manage, work through, and survive our sin or help others with theirs, the more we take power away from Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. We don’t save people. We can’t even save ourselves – Christ alone does – Eph 2: 8-9.

When we allow the Holy Spirit to change us, we love as Christ loved and He abides in us — I Jn 4:16, but if we feel awkward, repulsed, or judgmental in being with other sinners, that is a work we need to ask the Holy Spirit to change in us. It’s personal. We all work out our salvation with fear and trembling – Phil 2:12-13.

When the Holy Spirit dwells in us, it does the work of changing our lives – John 4:10. Can we just go back to the bible and believe that IT is sufficient for teaching, reproving, correction, and instruction for our lives.- 2 Tim 3:16.

This isn’t just my opinion, this is what the bible says.

I’m praying today that churches will go back to the bible and let our LORD, Jesus Christ, do the work of saving souls. The more time and effort we give to understanding sin, the more time and effort is taken away from sharing God’s truth to the very ones who need to hear it.

Let’s let the word of God and the power of the cross change people’s lives.

Trusting God in all things and if you must stone me, at least try to hit the basket. I can use the stones to shore up my path – Ps 119:105.

Sorry. Bad believer humor. I know.


The slave vs. the servant:

Do you know the difference?

I had en ephiphany this morning. Some months ago, I read the book Redemption by Mark Driscoll, which by the way, I won’t recommend reading, but will elaborate on why later on in this blog.

One of the key ideas in the book, is that we are slaves to our “idols” (distractions that keep us from full relationship with God) much like the Israelites in the book of Exodus. The book says that we need to get rid of our idols and become “slaves” to righteousness.

As a mature Christian, I understand what Mark means, but the word “slave” never set well with me because the word has a negative connotation.

Many months ago, I started reading the KJV version of the bible instead of the NIV. I understand it nowdays in a way I never could before. (Thank you Jesus for lifting the veil.) For quite some time, I’ve been matching verses in both translations to see where they differ and if the changes, change the meaning. Many times, the NIV simply takes out the “thee’s,” “thou’s,” and words ending in “eth.” I don’t have a problem with that, but I am noticing in some places where replacing a word with a similar word, changes the meaning.

I think the slave vs. servant is one of those “key” changes that could be problematic in sharing the gospel with nonbelievers.

Websters dictionary defines a slave as one who is bound in servitude as the property of a person or household. Slavery is a condition of hard work and subjection.

The definition of servant is one who expresses submission, recognizance, or debt to another: obedient servant.

These definitions are vastly different as one means you have no choice in the matter, the other means a willing submission, obedience to your debtor.

If you look in the bible for verses that speak to our attitude towards a relationship with God, the NIV uses the word “slave” instead of “servant,” and while it seems the difference is slight, stop to ponder what you think and what you feel about both of those words.

For example:
Romans 6:17-18 – (NIV) 17 “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”
(KJV)17 “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”

Colossians 3:22 – (NIV) 22 “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.”
(KJV) 22 “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God;”

Ephesians 6:5 – (NIV) 5 “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.”
(KJV) 5 “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;”

I’m not saying the NIV is bad, but I think that it’s always a good practice to balance it against the King James to make sure that the meaning has not been lost in translation.

The relationship we have in Christ we’ve chosen in total freedom; and not under the threat of slavery.

When I think of slavery, I think of being owned by someone. It is very negative and makes me think of torture, neglect, being shackled without choice.

When I think of servant, I automatically think of choice: The freedom to choose to serve someone or something. I also think of it as a selfless act of love and gratitude.

Many people are in some sort of bondage to something (eg. TV, video games, drinking, drugs, porno, overeating, to name a few) but isn’t it really that we’ve just chosen to serve those things rather than serve God fully?

When we look at the meaning of servant over slave, we can understand that it was our willfull choice to think, live and act the way we do.

I know. It’s hard to put ourselves under the microscope, but to live as a believer, we must be brutally honest with ourselves. We choose to serve many, many things, but when we become addicted to those things, it truly becomes slavery. We are in bondage.

The good news is that God provides a way for us to be completely “free” of anything that separates us from Him. The question is, do we really, really want that?

As I said earlier, the book called Redemption by Mark Driscoll, makes a valid point in that our “idols” enslave us and keep us from relationship with God, but the book also says that it’s better to be a slave to Christ (righteousness) than a slave to an addiction.

This is where I have to step away from it. Why would people in their right mind choose slavery to one thing to slavery over another? Why would we choose to be a slave to a master we can’t see, don’t know, or understand over being a slave to a material or physical things we can touch, feel, experience?

We don’t have to be in ANY kind of slavery. God lets us willfully, freely choose Him.

If you really want to be free to serve a mighty God, the bible is the best book for that; however, in the beginning, you may need help navigating through the passages. Neil T. Anderson has written several books on Freedom in Christ. But there are two I’m thinking about specifically that do a wonderful job of helping people become free — “Victory Over the Darkness” and “Bondage Breaker.”

I encourage anyone who is reading this blog, to take a good look at your life.

What fills your time?

Many of us have to work (and no, that’s not slavery — we get to choose who we serve) but outside of that, how do we spend our “free” time? Do we fill it with kid activities (sports, dance, play dates, etc.) and/or adult activities (hobbies, movies, exercise, etc.)?

None of those are bad things, but inside your daily living, how much time is spent “serving” God? Spending time with God?

To be healthy, we need a balance. It’s different for everyone, but through prayer and bible reading, God will guide you in every part of your life.


The purpose of scripture


2 Timothy 3

This is a really meaningful chapter, especially when you view it through the lens of our current culture.

It describes how people in latter days will act (vs. 2-5), what they think of God’s power (vs. 6-8), and their folly (vs. 9).

Verse 5 is particularly interesting in that it says “…having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; from such turn away.”

I would describe many church leaders this way. In my hometown, anyhow. But further on into the passage, it talks about defending the faith and how the scriptures are intended to be used. Vs. 15-17 says “15 And that from a child thou has known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; 17 that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

It is a challenge to find a church that uses scripture this way. Ten years ago, my home church taught this way. I can remember leaving church on many occasions feeling convicted and having to really consider my lifestyle, my thinking, my actions.

Nowadays, if I attend that same church, I may or may not hear a snippet of scripture, but I will definitely come away with feel-good fuzzy feelings.

I don’t mean that we can’t find comfort, strength and encouragement from God’s word. We certainly can, but in our current world, God’s word is twisted, edited or ignored and it’s used primarily for our glorification.

Today, believers who speak God’s truth and live by it are called judgmental, hypocritical, and mean. Where once, God’s word was used to guide our behavior and bring about healthy change, it is instead turned against the believer who is hated and is thought to be dangerous.

To be a true believer, you don’t fit in this world (culture), you will be hated, and you may end up paying for your faith with your life but what better way to live than for the glory of the kingdom. Matthew 10:22 says “And you shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.”

I am praying mightily for and encouraging my family, friends and others, to prayerfully consider the teaching they get from their churches.

Matthew 7:13-14 says, “13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and few there be that find it.”

I don’t mean if you’re in a mega-church that you’re listening to false teaching, but I am asking that you really start paying attention. Thanks to the world wide web, there is a wealth of good, solid bible teaching/instruction at your fingertips. Start researching the doctrine and theology of the church you attend and match it against scripture. It’s the only doctrine there is. Any deviation, twisting or omission of God’s word is a false teaching.

Look for other sources for biblical teaching rather than just in your hometown. If you’re like me, you may be hard-pressed to find a church who meets God’s criteria, but you can find good pastors online or in smaller churches who use the bible as their only doctrine.

According to Psalm 119:105, God’s word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

I believe God’s word.

It is our guide, the very blueprint for our lives. I don’t need any other book to tell me how to live. God’s covered it all.

I’m just kicking myself for spending SO many years reading books on parenting, living happily, getting closer to God, when relying on God and believing His word, would’ve gotten me through all of that.

Today Lord, I trust you like none other. There is NO other truth than yours. John 14:16 Jesus said I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.