How could Somebody hate Jesus?

hate Jesus

How could anyone hate Jesus? Most people you ask would say they like, love, post about, or talk to Jesus all the time.  Even other religions that don’t believe he’s God will usually acknowledge him as a good man, prophet, or angel.  Most of the majority whether Republican, Democrat, agnostic, Muslim, and even a dash of atheist will say he’s a nice guy…  So why would Jesus make the following statement:

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” –Matthew 5:11‭-‬12 ESV

Why would anyone, if the majority is “pro-Jesus”, hate you for promoting Jesus?  What’s the trigger for this kind of hate?

Notice Jesus mentions the prophets…  If you take any time to read about the prophets you will see that God told them to preach a message to people that didn’t want to hear it.  Jeremiah got jumped by the priests and prophets in the temple (Jeremiah 26:7-8), Elijah got death threats (1 Kings 19:2), and God warned Ezekiel that preaching to the rebellious house of Israel would be like sitting in a thorn bush on a scorpions nest (Ezekiel 2:3-7).  Let that sink in for those of you who want to be preachers one day…

They hated the prophets because the prophets burst their bubble.  They wanted to believe that they were good people that were okay with God.  The Lord would send a prophet to tell them that they were far from good and that because of their sin they were destined for the wrath of God.  The prophets warned them that if they didn’t repent…  God would punish them.  Most of the time the prophets got rejected but some people would repent and be saved.  Centuries later people would read about the prophets they would think “Wow, those righteous prophets standing for God, we never would have rejected them like that…”  But that’s not true either, just see Matthew 23:29-36.

Here is what makes people hate Jesus

People want to believe the parts they like about Jesus: the gracious, kind, forgiving Jesus that served others before himself.  This “Jesus at a distance” is easy to like, but what people can’t handle is the Jesus that says “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).  Jesus’s message tells us that we are guilty in our sin before God and that we need to repent and surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord (aka King).  Jesus confronts our sins when we want to pretend that they are not a big deal or ignore them all together.  For someone to tell us that what we are doing is wrong and that we need to change can be very offensive.  Frankly we hate it.

Kingdoms never change hands easily

We don’t like being confronted on our sin ever… and many would prefer that Jesus’ kingdom stay up in the heavens “out of sight, out of mind.”  What bothers people is that Jesus is saying His kingdom is here now and that NOW you must choose to either let God rule your life or you rule your life.  Will you surrender your kingdom to His kingdom?  Instinctively, people will fight this in our fleshly human nature.  We want to be in charge, we want to call the shots, and we want to be in control.  This was the issue Jeremiah ran into with the priests. They wanted to pretend that their brand of secularized worldly nationalistic religion was perfectly fine.  But when God sent a prophet it was precisely because it wasn’t fine.

The hard truth is this:  We can’t punch a clock at church, post Jesus memes and go back to living our lives however we want.  Our way and our sin isn’t okay, it’s killing us.  Our religious games can’t cover it up.   We need a Savior from our sins and ourselves.  Sin racks up a debt we cannot pay and the penalty is death (Romans 6:23).  So we are faced with an offensive truth and a major choice.  The truth is if we are running our lives and not Jesus, it’s because He isn’t really our Lord and that means that we are living in rebellion to the King and storing up wrath with our sin.  If we truly want to be saved, we have to come to the point where we surrender  our throne (repentance) to Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives.  That’s the choice we must make.  Will I remain the ruler of my personal kingdom that’s destined for self-destruction or will I surrender to Jesus Christ as my King.  His kingdom stands forever and He is the Lord of Life who brings salvation to all who come to Him.  Come to His kingdom and have eternal life!  He is the Way, He is the Truth, and He is the Life!  There are many who hate Jesus now that may one day find He is the love of their life.

9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  – Romans 10:9

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6

 

 

Why I’m not Worried About This Election

not worried about this election

As people go to the polls today, I’m not worried about this election.  Because I know my candidate will always be in power.  His name is Jesus Christ and He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings.  In the end, He appoints the rulers for blessing or rulers for judging a nation.  If He judges a nation it’s usually to get God’s people to repent and be restored which may be what the church needs.

I’m a conservative and I believe that Hillary Clinton will be bad for our country but I know we aren’t the first of the last nation to face the issues we are facing today.  King David addressed these similar fears in the Psalms. Look with me at Psalm 11.

1 In the LORD I take refuge;
how can you say to my soul,
“Flee like a bird to your mountain,
2  for behold, the wicked bend the bow;
they have fitted their arrow to the string
to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;
3  if the foundations are destroyed,
what can the righteous do?” –Psalm 11:1-3

David here explains that the LORD is his refuge and asks “Why are you worried about the wicked?”  He quotes the other person basically saying “Run for the hills the wicked are coming to destroy us!  The very foundations of our society have been destroyed!  What can the people of God do?!”  Does that not sound familiar to today’s situation?  We are worried that evil has so taken our country that if we lose this election all is lost.  But the key to curing that fear is not in trusting in the constitutional foundations of this country or in our roots as a “Christian” nation.  The answer is not Trump, Hillary, or anyone else.  The key is in trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ who reigns on His throne forever and is still in control.

4  The LORD is in his holy temple;
the LORD’s throne is in heaven;
his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
5  The LORD tests the righteous,
but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
6  Let him rain coals on the wicked;
fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
7  For the LORD is righteous;
he loves righteous deeds;
the upright shall behold his face. –Psalm 11:4-7

David reminds the reader of this truth.  God reigns in heaven and He sees all that man does.  He tests the righteous to live by faith and He will judge the wicked.  In the end, those who walk in His ways will be blessed and in His presence.  So for this election I know: MY GOD IS IN CONTROL!

The persecuted church knows this all too well.  That’s why in the middle of their persecution legally, physically, and in every way; they are still thriving and preaching the Gospel more boldly than the majority of Americans.  If we are to see this country turn to God, may we abandon our easy Christianity and be bold for the Gospel.  Only when God restores the hearts of men will this country see righteous leaders yet again.  Be bold knowing this:

18 And Jesus came and said to them, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:18-20

Photo by Lorie Shaull 

Study: Religion not a Delusional Poison

A new study of 20 cumulative years of prior research shows that religion is linked to a healthy mind and body, proving that claims by atheists that religion is bad for you are merely unscientific rhetoric.  The study also explains that these mental and physical health benefits apply only to those who actually attend church on a regular basis.  Just believing something is not the same as actually practicing it.

The late Christopher Hitchens claimed that “religion poisons everything” and the famous Richard Dawkins has claimed that belief in God is a “delusion” and a “mental illness.”  However, when these opinions are compared to real science this could not be further from the truth.  After reviewing 20 years of research, religion’s benefits for a persons health can clearly be established as scientific fact.

However, religion only works for those who actually participate in it, rather than those who just believe in something.  According to the USA Today article these benefits are linked to actually going to church not just having “spirituality.”  Regular attendance was linked to better life choices, more optimism, lower depression, suicide prevention, sense of purpose, and more self-control.  It also reduced “mortality by 20% to 30% over a 15 year period.” So if you aren’t plugged into church you may be missing out on far more than you thought.

My question is this:

If religion is a “poison” and religious people are “delusional” then why does 20 years of cumulative data show that Christians like me are more likely to be healthier, happier, and more mentally stable?  By default, a nonreligious person has a better chance of mental instability and poor health than a committed Christian.  If famous atheists like Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens were following the evidence like they claimed, then they would’ve quit spewing such untruthful rhetoric.  Unless of course they were choosing to believe their emotional biases instead of the facts.

Church isn’t some divine guilt trip followed by those afraid of the unknown.  It’s a gift from God that blesses us with fellowship, encouragement, guidance, and a real family built around Jesus Christ.  It makes perfect sense that we find a healthier life there, because Christ is the source of all life.  We flourish there because it is our natural habitat.  It’s what we were made for: to walk and fellowship together with our heavenly Father.

1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
2 for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you. – Proverbs 3:1-2 ESV

 

Photo by VinnyCiro (Pixabay)

The Biblical Case Against Donald Trump

If you’re going to vote for Donald Trump as the lesser of two evils that’s between you and the Lord.  BUT DO NOT defend him as a Christian or Biblical choice.  There is no biblical choice in this election.  By defending him on Christian grounds you do more harm to Christ’s name and Christianity than any good you are doing for the country.  If you Christianize that which is clearly un-Christian the world sees nothing but hypocrisy.  I want to make it clear.  Hillary Clinton advocates evil things in contradiction to the Bible and is an absolute threat to Christian values.  I would not encourage a soul to vote for Hillary under any circumstance… period.

The Bible and Trump

I have had an issue with Donald Trump from the beginning and it’s long before the comments we have now heard him say about women and his alleged abuses.  Those comments and much worse to come are exactly what I expected based on what the Bible says.  I’ve had this issue with Donald Trump long before much of this came to light because of what the Bible says about character.  To be honest, I’ve considered voting for him and had boiled it down to a choice of “who will kill the least amount of babies.”  However, as I dig further into scripture I have a problem.

What has disturbed me from the beginning is this section of scripture:

1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 9 But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.  –2 Timothy 3:1–9

The scripture here is saying that in the end times the moral character of people will be so apocalyptically bad that their character will look like this.  This section of scripture lines up with Donald Trump 80-90%…  What does this scripture say to do with such people… See the red text above… “Avoid such people.”

Why did Falwell, Dobson, Jeffress and others endorse such a man in the Primaries, over other godly candidates?  The bottom line is pragmatism, not faith.  These men are making choices not based on moral character but based on whatever works.  It’s the same reason other Christians compromise their values and settle for what works whether that be in their relationships or business.  I have heard Dobson try to argue that Trump got saved a year ago, to which I respond “You shall know them by their fruits.” They all argued we aren’t electing a “Pastor in Chief” and God has used godless men in the past.  They’re right… I just think that this time God is using these two candidates to carry out his wrath on a country that has rebelled against him.

We have been worried about the impact Hillary Clinton will have on our country, but did we stop for a second to think about the impact Donald J. Trump will have on conservatism or Christianity?  Over the past few months, I have watched Christians justify, rationalize, and worst of all “Christianize” Donald J. Trumps behaviors and words.  Even though 2 Timothy 3, many other parts of the Bible, the Constitution, and basic human rights have stood in glaring contradiction to his statements.  Are we selling our principles and our soul for a few justices?  To which even conservative Presidents have appointed Judges that later leaned liberal see John Roberts and Obamacare…

Donald Trump has made statements and reversed them in less than 24 hours (seen it myself on Torture, here’s a list first thing I got on google).  He used to be a pro-abortion democrat.  He is a shameless liar (see any news interview after he says something).  He has consistently taken one position only to say the exact opposite the next day (see Torture comments).  So what makes you think he will even do half of what he says???  He has lied more blatantly and obviously than many politicians who never do what they promised.  We’re gonna take him at his word?????

The only difference in the amount of scandal he and Hillary has are time and opportunity… Their character is very similar.  He even shares the same narcissism, abuse of power, and thin skin of Barrack Obama. He just happens to be “our guy.” So we will look past all that… Really???

So let’s not Christianize this man.  This election is based on the promise of “conservative supreme court justices” from a former democrat and habitual liar.  This is currently the best pragmatic option we have.  That’s the TRUTH…  Honestly, I don’t think any of it is going to matter because wrath is on the menu either way.

Wrath is on the Menu

I joked with somebody that when I saw 17 Republican candidates in the primaries I thought to myself “maybe God won’t destroy this country.”  But in walked Donald J. Trump and I was like “never mind, wrath’s on the menu, choose your destroyer…”  I’m not an end times prophecy junkie.  I often tell people not to get too caught up some of the crazy books that come out.  But let’s face it…  this one is kinda obvious.

I don’t think it is a coincidence that I was reading the book of Jeremiah during the primaries.  Judah’s capital was Jerusalem where the temple was and the heart of Worship for God’s people.  They thought like some of us today that “we are a Israelite (insert Christian) Nation” even though their actions had been utterly wicked in all the idolatry and worldliness they were engaging in. It sounds like America.  Not in their wildest dreams did they think God would let their “godly” nation fall into the hands of other wicked men.  But God stepped in and warned Judah that they were going to be punished for all of their wicked sin and their punishment would be that God would let the evil godless king of Babylon conquer them.  God said that if they wanted to live that they would have to accept their punishment and not resist the king of Babylon (Jeremiah 21:3-9).  Later as they realized they were about to lose their country, safety, and security they tried to escape punishment.  Instead of listening to God, they thought they would turn to another wicked worldly kingdom: Egypt.  God warned them that if they tried to get out of his punishment by using worldly pragmatic solutions like sinful Egypt that what they thought would save them would actually destroy them. (Jeremiah 42:11-17)

Am I saying that Trump is Babylon?  No, I would put Hillary as Babylon in my best estimation.  But Trump may just be Egypt: a worldly solution to escape God’s punishment and a mess we have made.  Will Hillary possibly mess America up for the next 40 years… yeah.  But God’s people had to spend 70 years in captivity in Babylon before they learned their lesson and God then restored them.  In China they have mandatory abortions and greatly restrict Christianity and yet… God’s people are flourishing like wild fire in China…

Trust the Lord and not in worldly solutions like Trump or Egypt.  We need to quit trusting in our politics and trust in our Lord.  If we focused half as much energy on living out and sharing the Gospel as we did our elections, then this country would not be in the situation we are in.  Whatever you do: pray, read God’s Word, and vote as God leads you to vote.  I leave you with the following words from Isaiah:

“Ah, stubborn children,” declares the LORD,
“who carry out a plan, but not mine,
and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit,
that they may add sin to sin;
2  who set out to go down to Egypt,
without asking for my direction,
to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh
and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!
3  Therefore shall the protection of Pharaoh turn to your shame,
and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your humiliation. –Isaiah 30:1–3

1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help
and rely on horses,
who trust in chariots because they are many
and in horsemen because they are very strong,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the LORD!
2  And yet he is wise and brings disaster;
he does not call back his words,
but will arise against the house of the evildoers
and against the helpers of those who work iniquity.
3  The Egyptians are man, and not God,
and their horses are flesh, and not spirit.
When the LORD stretches out his hand,
the helper will stumble, and he who is helped will fall,
and they will all perish together. – Isaiah 31:1–3.

UPDATE: There are two sides of the Evangelical debate over Trump. I fall on one side but respect all of you in your prayerful decisions. If you want to see a counter point that completely disagrees with me I encourage you to read this article.  I encourage you to compare the two.  But please don’t vote for Hillary. God bless.

 

When God Always Agrees with You

When God always agrees with everything you are thinking you may be mistaken about which one of you is God….

Today’s culture, morality, and ethics are often driven by how people feel. I will often see this when trying to talk to someone about a sin issue in the Bible. I’ve had some totally ignore scripture and say “well, I don’t feel like I’m in sin”, “I feel like God is okay with it”, “I don’t think it’s a problem, that’s your opinion”, or “Me and God are fine, God wants me to be happy.”

It doesn’t even have to be that blatant. Sometimes we tell ourselves excuses that make sense to us and we are able to numb that nagging feeling in our heart. We justify why we didn’t do that thing that God kept bugging us about in every sermon or quiet time. We justify things by saying “yeah that was a little on the margin of being sin, but hey nobody’s perfect. God understands.” These things kind of make sense to us and because “hey it’s me… and I trust me” I will give myself the benefit of the doubt. Even though you and I both know I would never cut another person that much slack. We figure that because it makes sense to us, that God must agree because it makes perfect sense… to us. This is where we make our biggest mistake: thinking that God always agrees with us. It doesn’t matter what carefully crafted excuse or opinion we come up with… When we stand before God it’s only going to matter what God thinks about the situation. If we are going on our opinion rather than the Word of God we may find out that we were playing God rather than obeying God.  When our opinion doesn’t line up with God’s then it doesn’t line up with reality. When we ignore or avoid God’s Word we are deceiving ourselves. After reality sets in we wonder why things turned out so bad…  It turns out we were in sin. Look at what God said to Israel once about this:

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel, who are prophesying, and say to those who prophesy from their own hearts: ‘Hear the word of the Lord !’ Thus says the Lord God , Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! Your prophets have been like jackals among ruins, O Israel. You have not gone up into the breaches, or built up a wall for the house of Israel, that it might stand in battle in the day of the Lord . They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘Declares the Lord ,’ when the Lord has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word. Have you not seen a false vision and uttered a lying divination, whenever you have said, ‘Declares the Lord ,’ although I have not spoken?” Therefore thus says the Lord God : “Because you have uttered falsehood and seen lying visions, therefore behold, I am against you, declares the Lord God . My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and who give lying divinations. They shall not be in the council of my people, nor be enrolled in the register of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord God . Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace, and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets smear it with whitewash, say to those who smear it with whitewash that it shall fall! There will be a deluge of rain, and you, O great hailstones, will fall, and a stormy wind break out. And when the wall falls, will it not be said to you, ‘Where is the coating with which you smeared it?’ Therefore thus says the Lord God : I will make a stormy wind break out in my wrath, and there shall be a deluge of rain in my anger, and great hailstones in wrath to make a full end. And I will break down the wall that you have smeared with whitewash, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you shall perish in the midst of it, and you shall know that I am the Lord . Thus will I spend my wrath upon the wall and upon those who have smeared it with whitewash, and I will say to you, The wall is no more, nor those who smeared it, the prophets of Israel who prophesied concerning Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her, when there was no peace, declares the Lord God. -Ezekiel 13:1‭-‬16 ESV

The Antidote to thinking God Always Agrees with Us

In order to get to the point of agreeing with God we need to address 3 different areas. First, we must address the heart. Second, we need to address our understanding and assumptions about life. The last thing we need to do is make sure our mind is in tune and on the same page with the Lord.

Our Heart

We need to recognize that our heart and its desires can be deceptive and rather than trusting in our hearts we need to trust our hearts to the Lord.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord , whose trust is the Lord . He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” -Jeremiah 17:7‭-‬10 ESV

Our Understanding

Rather than relying on our own understanding we need to acknowledge that God’s way is best. Just because it makes sense to us doesn’t mean it’s right. We need to acknowledge that our understanding of the universe is limited and that’s God’s is infinite. When we disagree with an infinitely wise God… there is a really good chance that we are wrong.  So we need to submit our ways to Him.  Rather than assuming God always agrees with us we need to make sure we agree with God.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord , and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.  Proverbs 3:5‭-‬8 ESV

Our Mind

So how do I make sure that I’m being guided by the Lord and not just stuff I come up with in my head??? First, Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice…” (John 10:27 ESV). Have you ever talked with someone on the phone so much that when they call you don’t even have to look at the caller ID, you just know it’s them because you know their voice. That’s same as a we grow in Christ. The more time we spend in His Word hearing Him through the Bible we recognize what He sounds like. Second, We have to refresh our minds with God’s Word on a regular basis. Romans 12:2 says that in order not to fall into the pattern of this world (“conformed”) we have to “renew” and refresh our minds with God’s Word. So the key is to fill your heart and your mind with God’s Word. Then you can check your heart and mind by comparing it to God’s Word. Look what King David says about how God’s Word has kept him on the right path.

9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
11 I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you. –Psalm 119:9-11 ESV

That’s the key. Knowing God by knowing His Word. Not trusting in ourselves but trusting in God. That’s the difference in believing imaginary voices and walking by faith. If you have been born again, you are walking with someone. That someone is the Lord and He is leading you. Check your heart and mind with His Words to make sure you are in step with the Master. “Not my will but thy will, Lord.”

We Chose This America

We are picking foolish morally dubious presidential candidates because this is a democracy and we are electing candidates that reflect the people. We don’t want to say it, but it’s true… We as a country chose these two people because something in them resonated with the people of this country. Now we see this political horror show and say… “man that looks ugly.” As if that is some how NOT US… Sorry to say it but we picked them because they are the majority of us.

We watch them bicker on stage calling each other liars, calling for fact checkers, and America doesn’t know who’s telling the truth. That’s because America rejected truth a long time ago. We rejected God and His standard of truth. So now we all have our own truth. Now that everybody has their own truth the other person is a liar, but nobody else knows if that’s true… because we have rejected truth.

We picked immoral candidates because we have rejected God’s righteous Word. Sure we say “keep the Christ in Christmas” but when we never go to church and Fox News with its scantily clad reporters is the closest we as a nation get to reading the Bible, then we really have rejected God whether or not we miss the “good Ole days.”

We are destroying ourselves precisely because we have rejected God. God leaves us with this little thought. “As it all falls apart remember it’s because you left me and are doing this to yourself”:

And you shall be profaned by your own doing in the sight of the nations, and you shall know that I am the Lord .”  Ezekiel 22:16 ESV

The only answer is to admit our sin, repent, and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ.  The people will not elect a truthful, moral, and godly candidate until they repent and that candidate reflects their own hearts. Only Christ can redeem our wicked hearts. Until we actually repent nothing will change. You can say “praise the Lord” but if you aren’t actually going to church and following Jesus Christ in your life… I don’t buy it… neither does God… and nothing will change.

Bad Seed: 3 Reasons Health and Wealth is no Gospel

On more than one occasion I have called out the Health and Wealth gospel and received the following response: “Even if what they are saying is wrong at least they are preaching the Gospel.”

My first response is that the majority of those preaching health and wealth are preaching life improvement not anything about repenting from sin and turning to Christ as Lord. So without that, they really aren’t preaching the Gospel.

My second response is that Jesus gives three other reasons why health and wealth doesn’t jive with the Gospel. Let’s take a look.

“Hear then the parable of the sower:  When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.  As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy,  yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.  As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

Matthew 13:18‭-‬22 ESV

  1. Health and Wealth misses the point of the Gospel.

    In verse 19 Jesus says that when they don’t understand the Gospel the devil comes and plucks up that gospel seed before it produces anything.  By not preaching about sin, repentance, hell, and the need to surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord; they are essentially guaranteeing that people are not going to understand the Gospel.  Their gospel of life improvement seems pretty out of focus from the Gospel Jesus preached.  Joel Osteen says “Have your best life now” but Jesus said “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” -Matthew 16:24‭-‬26.  Does it sound like Jesus and Joel are even teaching out of the same bible?

    When people asked Jesus (Matthew 4:17), John the Baptist (Matthew 3:2), or Peter (Acts 2:38) how to be saved they all replied “repent” and “believe” the Gospel.  How will anyone repent if nobody tells them they are in sin or even need to?  You can believe in Jesus but James says the demons do too (James 2:19) and they’re going to hell.  The demons even acknowledged who Jesus was and begged for mercy (Mark 5:7).  It’s not just believing in Jesus, it’s repenting and surrendering to Him as Lord (boss, master, king) of your life (Romans 10:9-10).  That’s why Jesus and John both talked about the “kingdom” (God as your King) connected to their call to “repent” (Mt 4:17, 3:2).  Leaving all this out guarantees people will miss the point and the real Gospel won’t bear any fruit.  That’s a big reason Health and Wealth is no Gospel.

  2. Health and Wealth produces a shallow faith that cannot withstand persecution.

    In Matthew 13:5-6 Jesus explained how the seed landed on shallow rocky soil.  Because there wasn’t much room for the roots to grow the seed decided to spend it’s energy growing up instead.  So it looks like you have a fast growing really healthy flower at first.  Then the sun hits it, and because it’s roots aren’t very deep, it dries out and dies.  In verses 20-21, Jesus explains that this represents people who hear the gospel and are really excited at first.  However, because they haven’t set their roots deep due to a shallow faith and a shallow environment, persecution comes and they fall away.

    Think with me for a second.  Let’s suppose you grew up in a church that rarely talked about persecution, sin, or repentance but instead preached that if you had enough faith that you would never get sick or be poor again.  In fact, they taught that if you are sick, suffering, or poor that it’s because of your lack of faith.  When persecution comes (like Jesus says in verse 21 and in Matthew 10:16-22), what will be your reaction when they flog and beat you (Matthew 10:17)?  You will conclude one of two things based on what you were taught:  I either don’t have enough faith or this stuff doesn’t work.

    What about sickness? Yes, praying for people to be healed does work.  However, only if it’s in the will of God.  God willed for Paul to be sick to keep him humble and he prayed for God to heal him in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.  God said no.  If you were taught that sickness was from a lack of faith, would you react like Paul and boast about the power of God IN your sickness (2 Cor 10:9-10)?  Or would you add to your sickness a miserable guilt trip feeling like a failure with too little faith?

    I have actually seen someone get more depressed because she read “Best Life Now” and felt like a failure because as she tried to follow God things got harder.  After I told her about how Jesus, the disciples, and the early church all endured persecution for following Christ she actually became happy.  She was set free from a false guilt and experienced joy in Christ like never before!  That’s the abundant life.  Joy in Christ regardless of the situation.  You won’t have that if you feed on a fluffy message light on the truths of the gospel.  You will be overwhelmed in persecution, confused, and fall away because you are not rooted.  That is exactly what Jesus said in Matthew 13:20-21.

  3. By emphasizing riches, Health and Wealth sets people up to be choked out by the World.

    In verse 22, Jesus goes on to talk about the gospel seed that lands in the thorns.  Jesus already explained those thorns choke the seed as it tries to grow and it dies (Matthew 13:7).  Now what were the two thorns that choked the seed?  The cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches (verse 22).  What are two issues emphasized by the Health and Wealth prosperity gospel???  Having your best life in this world and WEALTH…  If Jesus says that these two priorities are what choke out the Gospel from being fruitful, then are prosperity preachers doing you any favors by focusing on these two things?

    If material blessing is the measure of your faith will you be willing to suffer persecution and poverty in a 3rd world country to tell others about Jesus?  Are you going to sell all that you have to follow Jesus so you can have treasure in heaven if prosperity preachers are telling you the opposite?  Let me answer that.  Jesus told the rich young ruler to do exactly that because even though he kept almost all of the ten commandments he had one problem.  He had made worldly wealth his idol, and Jesus was saying give it up for me (Luke 19:18-30).  After the rich man walked away sad, Jesus said: “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:24-25).  If Jesus says it’s harder to get into heaven when you’re wealthy then why should a preacher focus on that?  That’s actually what the false preachers do, see 2 Peter 2:3, 2 Timothy 4:3-4 and 1 Timothy 6:5.

    It’s not just the Lord who has an issue with the thorn of focusing on wealth.  Paul says that the people who focus on wealth, rather than being content in Christ, fall away from the faith and hurt themselves.  Continuing a discussion on false prophets Paul makes the following comments in 1 Tim 6:5-10:

    … and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.  But godliness with contentment is great gain,  for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

    John gives us a similar warning about focusing too much on this life to the point where it kills our affection for Christ.  We start worshiping creation rather than creator.  Also known as idolatry.  I can’t have my heart set on worldly things and love God at the same time (1 John 2:15-17):

    Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

    Churches that focus on these things are just a bed of thorns choking out the Gospel.

     Final Thoughts

It’s pretty clear that people preaching and focusing on these things are preaching something contrary to the Gospel of Jesus, Paul, and John.  Not that being rich is sinful.  It’s not that God does not ever financially bless his people.  I’ve personally seen God provide several hundred thousand dollars for our church out of nowhere this past year.  I have seen Him provide personally for our adoption.  After all, my favorite verse in the Bible is Matthew 6:33.  All of those things are wonderful blessings from God.  So that’s not the issue.  The issue is our focus. Wealth is not the focus of my preaching or my life’s goals.  God’s kingdom ruling in my heart is the focus (Matthew 6:33).

It’s the focus on wealth that strangles out the focus on delighting in and serving Christ above all else.  The Gospel denies self (Matthew 16:24-26) and exalts Jesus Christ.  Health and Wealth exalts ourselves and turns Christ into our personal genie.  Preachers that focus on material blessing rather than the true Gospel are slowly killing and harming their congregation.  They ARE false prophets.  If you don’t believe me just ask Jesus, John, Peter, and Paul.

Photo by luis-e (Pixabay)

How to Clean Your House After a Flood

Because so many are affected by the regional flooding in Southern Louisiana I am posting this “mud-out” guide to help people cleaning out their homes after the flood.  This guide was originally provided to me by Dr. Lonnie Wascom with www.northshorebaptists.net a baptist association in Southern, Louisiana.

BASIC MUD-OUT GUIDE FOR HOME OWNERS

The removal of wet debris from a flooded home is called mud-out because everything flooded is saturated with muddy water.  The objective is to get the house cleared of all wet debris to discourage the growth of mold and to allow the structure to dry out as quickly as possible so reconstruction can begin.  The following sequence of actions is suggested for your consideration:

  1. Look for hazards such as broken gas lines, structural damage and damaged electric systems.  Other potential hazards may include contamination by chemical spills and overflowing of sewage systems.   Watch for snakes and insects that may be found in unexpected places.
  2. Be aware of personal health and physical limitations. People with respiratory or heart problems should approach mud-out work with great caution.  Furthermore, flood conditions bring increased risk of tetanus and hepatitis. Wear protective clothing such as boots, coveralls, hardhat, gloves and facemask.  A fiber face respirator with N-95 rating is normally adequate for dust and molds, but not for gas or chemical fumes.
  3. Open all doors and windows and use fans to help circulate air through the house. Try to prevent any additional damage to the home.  If the roof has suffered damage, temporary plastic roof covering may be needed.  Remember, the home can normally be restored to its previous or better condition.
  4. Prevent health hazards by removing perishable foods and any chemicals or medicine to safe areas where animals or children will not get to it.
  5. If the flood water was high enough to get the walls and insulation wet:
    1. Remove all damaged furniture and wet debris from the house. Separate it on the curb by type, as appliances, furniture, food, chemicals and dry wall (sheetrock).  Put insulation and miscellaneous items in plastic bags.    Please be aware that many of your things can be saved if properly cleaned and restored.
    2. Remove the carpets and pads. These can be cut into manageable pieces with a box knife for safe removal.  Some carpet cleaning companies can clean and restore carpets but the wet carpet pad has to be replaced.
    3. Remove the baseboard, window and door trim where the dry wall and insulation is wet and must be taken out. Drill 1” holes in the bottom of the wall between each stud to get air circulation.
    4. The dry wall and insulation should normally be removed about one foot above the high water level. Moisture Meters can be used to check the condition of the dry wall and insulation.
    5. Remove any wet items from fixtures or cabinets. Open all doors to cabinets.  If the water level was only several inches, drill a 1” hole in the bottom of each cabinet so an air flow can me maintained.  Leave permanent fixtures and cabinets for repair or removal by professional craftsmen.  Dry wall and insulation behind or on the opposite wall of a fixture should be removed to allow the dry wall behind the fixture to dry.
    6. If the flood water only reached the floor level but did not get the dry-wall and insulation wet you may only need to roll the carpet and remove the carpet pad, as some carpet cleaners can clean and dry the carpet and replace the pad. Adequate ventilation will be needed to remove excessive moisture.  See item c.
  6. When an area is drying, do not rewet it with a hose or power washer. Let the area dry out and then sweep up the remaining debris.  Spray with a fungicide such as Shockwave.  If it is not available, a mixture of one half cup of bleach per one gallon of water may be applied where the site is still wet and mold is growing, this may not affect black mold.
  7. Allow the house to dry out for several weeks before putting in new dry wall and insulation. The time required for adequate drying will depend on temperature, humidity and how well ventilated the structure is.
If you want to Donate to NSBA disaster relief efforts:

The people who provided this guide are the Northshore Baptist Association.  They are partnering with multiple local churches in South Louisiana and with other associations in the region for disaster relief efforts.  If you want to donate to their ongoing relief effort please make checks out to:  Northshore Baptist Association, 11411 McLaughlin Lane, Hammond, 70403 and mark them for “Disaster Relief.”

God bless and be praying for Southern, Louisiana.

Photo by darkday.

Evil Grows in a Vacuum

When parents tell a child no and do not back it up: they have taught him nothing. When Christians tell the world no and do not back it up: they teach the world nothing. In truth, both the parents and the Christians have taught them hypocrisy. They have taught them that there is no justice or penalty for sin, so why does it matter? At that point, sin is not a matter of right and wrong but only opinion. Evil will only grow in such a vacuum like weeds in an untended garden.

Churches and parents are called to uphold God’s standard. When we see sin in the church and do not correct it or sin in the world and don’t take a stand: we will make no difference whatsoever.  

Preach the love, grace, and redemption of the Gospel available for all who repent. But if you fail to warn them about sin they will see no need to listen to you at all because they are just fine.

Then I saw the wicked buried. They used to go in and out of the holy place and were praised in the city where they had done such things. This also is vanity. Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil. Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him. But it will not be well with the wicked, neither will he prolong his days like a shadow, because he does not fear before God.

Ecclesiastes 8:10‭-‬13 ESV

The Christians 3 Step Plan

3 step plan_edited-1

Hey Christian! Are you tired of floundering in your faith, running out of steam, and wavering in and out of defeat?! We have something special for you today! Starting with Christ and using His church we have developed a simple daily three step plan out of Ephesians 4! :

  • Step 1: Throw your old sinful life off like a dirty shirt!
  • Step 2: Refresh your brain with God’s Word and prayer! (See also Romans 12:1-2)
  • Step 3: Put on the new refreshed you by living out what God has taught you!

Sometimes we over complicate things thinking that we have to have some new plan or some new craze from the Christian book store in order to really grow in our faith. The thing is that the early church didn’t have any of that. Yes, there are many wonderful Christian devotions, books, and strategies that can encourage us in our walk, but sometimes we forget the simple words of Christ: “Follow me”. The secret to growing in Christ is bond up in that cross. We daily crucify our old self, embrace Christ, and live out the new life we have in Him (Matthew 16:24).

“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Ephesians 4:17‭-‬24 ESV