Sunday, December 30, 2018

SPIRITUAL GOAL CHALLENGE FOR A NEW YEAR



   The New Year is upon us and as we look back over the last 12 months, it is a good time to reflect on what worked for us and what did not.  

     The million dollar question is, "What do yo plan on doing differently next year to grow in Christ?

This question does not assume you had a bad year or failed your goals, this question simply acknowledges real growth comes through building on success and learning from failure.  As a believer in Christ, the goal should be growing in your faith, becoming more like Jesus and developing your God given gifts of service.  Hopefully, you implemented some spiritual pursuits which helped in this endeavor, over the past year.

         If something worked for you, continue the practice.  Just as important, do not make the same mistakes, learn from them.

Here are some Biblical guidelines to successful goal setting:

SET REALISTIC GOALS
Micah 6:8 - What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?

         Setting realistic goals is the key to success in any endeavor. Setting reasonable goals allows you to experience success, while setting ridiculously large goals will lead to discouragement. If you have never read through your Bible, setting a goal to read the whole thing in a year is a realistic goal.  Deciding to write a commentary on the whole Bible when you have not read it all, may not be very realistic.  Deciding to get involved in local outreach is a realistic goal, winning your whole city for Christ may be a bit outside your reach. 

SET GOD'S GOALS
Psalm 127:1 - Unless the LORD build the house, the builders labor in vain

Understanding God's supernatural empowerment to accomplish His goals for you opens the door to unlimited possibilities.  Saying, "I want to reach a million souls for Christ this year" may seem a bit lofty, but if God chooses to work through you and you follow His lead, why not. The only caveat is: make sure your goal is God's goal. Nothing will lead to failure and frustration quicker than running ahead of God.  

SEEK OTHERS WITH SIMILAR GOALS
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 - Two are better than one, because they have a good return on their labor, if one falls down, the other can help him up... though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves, a cord of three strands is not quickly broken

Surround yourself with those pursuing the same purpose.  For instance, if you are planning a trip to Alaska, do not partner up your preparations with a guy planning a trip to Hawaii.  The Hawaii guy will have very different preparations and chances are, you will hinder one another.  If your plan is to read through the Bible in a year, find others with the same goal and hold one another accountable.  

DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED BY SETBACKS
Proverbs 24:16 - For the righteous falls seven times and rises again

Everyone of us experiences setbacks.  The Apostle Paul had a goal to reach Rome to preach.  If he gave up when he was imprisoned in Jerusalem or shipwrecked on the Island of Malta many books of the Bible would not have been written.  Paul did make it to Rome and had fruitful ministry there, the path was not how he envisioned, but the goal was met.

      Even if you do not have a specific goal beyond knowing God better, pursue knowing God with all your heart.  Psalm 37:4 - Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.

What do yo plan on doing differently next year to grow in Christ?

What are your goals for the new year?  Do not plan to fail by failing to plan. Get together with your Father, who loves you, and get His plan, set some goals and watch God do His thing.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

CHILDREN OF A GARDEN PARTY FROM HELL

       Went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends
       A chance to share old memories and play our songs again
      When I got to the garden party, they all knew my name
      No one recognized me, I didn't look the same
           But it's all right now, I learned my lesson well.
You see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself
                   
                                                                     - Rick Nelson

            If you are my age or older, you probably remember this catchy little tune from Ricky Nelson circa 1972.  Garden Party's chorus easily gets stuck in your head: But it's all right now, I learned my lesson well. You see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself   This was a pretty common sentiment in 1972, essentially, look out for number one. Who is number one?  Why ME of course!
             What a self destructive societal plague this sentiment is!  Imagine a world where a majority of people are serving their own best interests and everyone else be damned?  Well, you don't have to imagine it, look no further than Washington DC and you can see Ricky Nelson's words in action.
            This is not just a Washington DC problem.  If you are honest, fear of consequences govern more of your better behaviors than altruism.  No, I do not believe everyone is a miscreant, but then again, what would a day free of consequences mean for you?  
                      What would your life look like if you were suddenly Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, if you knew tomorrow would reset everything and nothing you did today would be remembered, except by you?  If your mind is running wild with possibilities you may be a miscreant at heart! 
                       Who are we really, when no one is looking? Do we all pretend to be better than we are for fear of exposure? Can your friends and family see the real you?
                    The problem is, we are all tainted with selfishness because of a Garden Party from hell almost 6000 years ago.  In the Garden of Eden, Adam traded God's protection and provision for a chance to please himself.  This resulted in Adam realizing he had made a grave error. Adam's attempt to hide from from God was futile.  Adam's children have been trying to hide from God ever since.  

                 Adam's attempt to please himself ended in abject disaster.  Not much has changed in 6000 years.  The Bible has a good deal to say on this topic:   Jeremiah 17:9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?      
 Proverbs 14:12  There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.   Our attempts to take care of number one will always leave us unsatisfied, frustrated and disillusioned.

             The remedy is putting God first: Proverbs 3:6-7  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.  Following God's method will lead to fulfillment, peace, joy and satisfaction.  

     No one spent more resources and effort in pleasing self than King Solomon.  In his winter years, he looked over his life and realized the futility of all he pursued. Solomon came to this conclusion: Ecclesiastes 12:13-14  The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. 

      It's true, you can't please everyone, so you should try to please the Lord. You have an audience of one and what He thinks is all that should matter.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!!
              



                                   

                                      
   
         

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

THE WWE AND DEITY OF CHRIST - STORIES FROM THE FRINGE


The Fringe - Open Air Church
          As many readers know, I am one of the pastors with a ministry called Metal Mission of Knoxville.  Each week, MMOK hosts The Fringe, an open air church service, followed by serving breakfast to the area homeless.

                We meet many interesting people each week and look forward to seeing all our regulars, as well.  Real, serious, ministry takes place, and occasionally, we get a funny story worth sharing.  The following two stories are indicative of a typical Saturday morning.

                  Many of the homeless, for years, have been camping under a bridge, across the street from Knox Area Rescue Mission.  For years, the city has, without success, attempted to clear the space under the bridge and restrict access.  Until recently, all efforts have failed.  The city is now moving forward with a new plan, which appears to be successful. One of the gentlemen we minister to each week informed me the WWE was behind the removal of the homeless.  Yes, that WWE...
                
            According to my "friend in the know", when Glenn Jacobs(WWE superstar Kane) was elected Knox County Mayor, Vince McMahon, the CEO of WWE, donated $100,000 to the city of Knoxville to clean up the homeless. The gentleman sharing the story with me, looked me in the eyes, wagged his finger at me and adamantly declared, "do you know who is responsible for this? Vincent. Kennedy. MCMAHON!!!"  Geez, I wish Mr. McMahon would donate $100,000 to me so I can quit my job and minister full time!


                 On a more serious note, here is a story about some of the important ministry taking place downtown:

               One of our regulars is a Muslim gentleman who often asks for prayer.  This week, we had a great conversation about the Trinity and whether or not Jesus is God.

                In Islam, Jesus is regarded as a prophet and a good teacher, but not God. As my friend and I discussed the trinity, I asked him to consider how Jesus could possibly be considered good if He claimed to be God yet was just a man.  If Jesus claimed to be God and is not actually God, He would be a liar and, therefore, not good. 

                The deity of Jesus is a conundrum Islam cannot reconcile.  Either Jesus is God, as He claimed, or He is a liar which disqualifies Him from being a good teacher or prophet.  Many Muslims will argue Jesus never claimed to be God, which is simply intellectual dishonesty.  Repeatedly, Jesus claimed to be God. John 8:58 - truly truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM and
John 10:30 - I and the Father are one. Just to list a couple.

           The Old Testament prophets also attested to the Messiah being God: Isaiah 9:6  For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

                My Muslim friend disclosed he reads the Bible and the Koran and he acknowledged Jesus claimed to be God.  He promised to consider the issue of Jesus claiming to be God contradicting the teachings of Islam.  Please pray for my friend to accept the Gospel and be saved.  He seems open to the idea.

         This is a pretty typical snapshot of what goes on any given Saturday morning.  I am truly blessed and honored to be able to serve God in this capacity. I am blessed to serve with a great bunch who are dedicated rain or shine and many who are behind the scenes, praying and supporting.  If you are interested in finding out how you can serve with us, hit me up in the comment section or message me on Facebook or Twitter.  

         If you are not currently serving God, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and step into ministry.  Not everyone is called to serve the homeless but everyone is called to serve. God has a ministry designed just for you and He is waiting for you to step into it.  God wants to use you, of this I am sure!

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!
             

Thursday, November 22, 2018

CAN YOU SEE THE REAL ME, JESUS?

                          Can you see the real me, can you?
                           I ended up with the preacher,
                           Full of lies and hate,
                           I seemed to scare him a little
                           
                           So he showed me to the golden gate. - The Who


     What if we all saw each other beyond what we actually reveal?  Imagine if we could actually read one another's minds!  How many relationships would be destroyed if our thoughts and feelings were broadcast for public consumption?

            How much more careful would we be if our desires and urges were, somehow, no longer secret?  

             Most of us are pretty good at wearing a mask that covers up who we really are. We reveal just enough of ourselves to maintain superficial relationships and often cast ourselves in the best light possible.

             Maybe you dared reveal more of yourself to someone and they showed you the golden gate, as it were.  Do you fear God would reject you if He really knew what was in your heart?  

             The big lie we tell ourselves is we can hide from God.  Adam hid in the Garden, God knew where He was and why.  Whatever you think you are hiding from God... you're not.  The truth is, God sees your deepest darkest secrets and His response is - He loves you.

             If you feel estranged from God, you're the one who moved.  Isaiah 59:2  but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. 

                Just a few verses later, God promises to redeem those who turn from transgression.  There is nothing you have done or has been done to you that is too big for God to handle.

              But the good news is, God will not reject your return: Isaiah 59:20  “And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the LORD. 


                 God can see the real you and, through the blood of Christ, wants to lead you to the Golden Gates of eternity, in His presence.  

                 Don't deceive yourself into thinking you are hiding from God.  Don't let the devil deceive you into thinking you've out sinned God's grace. God is in the restoration business!!

          Can you see the real me?  Maybe, maybe not, but God does and loves me anyway.  Have I seen the real you?  Maybe, maybe not, bud God does and loves you anyway.  

           If you think you are hiding from God, you can stop now, He sees and knows all and is patiently awaiting your return.  God is a loving Father and He wants to change you into the image of Christ.  Be real with yourself by being real with God, because He already knows.  Zechariah 1:3  Therefore say to them, Thus declares the LORD of hosts: Return to me, says the LORD of hosts, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. 

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!


Thursday, November 15, 2018

WITH THE BAND OR JUST A FAN? AVOIDING FAKE FAITH

     
     Are you a fan of a band or sports team?  Do you have a sports jersey you like to wear, identifying you with your favorite team?  Do you wear a t-shirt of your favorite band?

      Do you like to sit in a stadium or arena and watch a live sporting event?  Do you enjoy sitting in the audience for a live concert?  

         Does wearing a t-shirt or jersey and sitting in the audience make you believe you are a member of the team or band you are watching? 

         If any of these things makes you think you are a musician or athlete, you are delusional.  Yet, millions of people sit in church, put on paraphernalia identifying themselves as Christians and think they are somehow part of team Jesus, without ever making a commitment to God or serving in any way.

        Just as a musician must learn his craft and an athlete must train his body, a follower of Christ must do more than "identify" with faith.  A true follower of Christ will seek to grow in his faith and will actively seek holiness in his life.

2Timothy 2:15  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

        Surely you are not self deceived into thinking you are a rock star because you have an Iron Maiden t-shirt or you are a famous quarterback because you own a Tom Brady jersey.  Please be sure you are not, likewise, self deceived about your relationship with God.  

       Is there Spiritual fruit in your life?  If not, no amount of church membership or religious jewelry will change the condition of your soul.  Christianity is not some club to join, it is a way of life which should transform your mind and heart.

Romans 12:2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

     Jesus, Himself, stated, many will say, "I did this in your name, but I will say to them, depart from me, I never knew you."

      Looking at the shape of the culture, given the high percentage of those who claim faith in Christ, somewhere there is a very big disconnect.  

      Be sure you are not part of the disconnect.  Evaluate your life and see if you are pursuing the righteousness you claim in Christ.  Jesus told us, "He who does not gather with me, scatters."  There is no neutral ground in Christ.  

      It is not too late to join together with the Band and it is always the right time to hop on Team Jesus. Stop being just a spectator and get in the game!  

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!
      


Thursday, November 8, 2018

WALKING WITH GOD VS WALKING ACCORDING TO GOD

       
   What is the difference between walking with God vs walking according to His instructions?  

            If you need to come to my house, I can give instructions on how to get there. Depending on how well you listened and understood the instructions and how good you are at following the instructions will determine whether or not you make to my house or get lost along the way.  If I come to you and we go to my house together, is there any doubt you will make it?

              This is the difference between religion and relationship.  Even within soul saving faith, many fall into the trap of religion and lose their way.  I am not suggesting a loss of salvation, but I am suggesting a journey filled with unnecessary detours and wrong turns.  A journey that is only as good as the ability to hear, understand and follow God's directions.

               Jesus told us, "Pick up your cross and follow me."  Jesus did not say, "here is the best way to go..."  He told us to follow Him.  When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, God did not hand him a map and a compass and tell him, "I'll meet you there!"  No, God led Moses and Moses walked with God.

              When Jesus was in His earthly ministry, He did not say, "I'm just following instructions."  No, Jesus said, as recorded in scripture: John 5:19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.

               God gave us His Word, the Bible, but He also gave us His Spirit to dwell in us, giving the Bible life changing power as we apply it to our lives, according to His lead.  Having the Bible without the Spirit is like having a car with no gas.  Through great effort you can push the car where you want to go, but you will expend all your strength and not get very far.  Trying to apply the Bible to our lives without the direction and strength of God will wear you out!

               Many believers say, "I am trying to serve God the best I can."  This statement is nothing more than the seeds of failure.  I hate to quote Yoda here, but, "Do or do not, there is no try."   "I'll try" is born of doubt while "I will" is an emulation of the Savior we claim to follow.  

            So, how exactly do we walk with God when we cannot physically detect His presence?  The first step is getting over the barrier of mere mental ascent.  So many acknowledge God in their minds yet never actually commit their hearts.  Ask the average person if he believes the Bible is the Word of God.  I daresay, most will say, "yes."  Now, ask all the people who answer yes, "when was he last time they actually read the Bible."  You will be amazed by the results.  

             Reading the Bible must be accompanied by prayer and a willingness to apply what is read to our lives, not as a set of rules designed to keep us out of trouble, but as a guide for daily life.  When the Bible tells us to pray without ceasing, this means we are to have a constant awareness of God's presence and we are to be interacting with God just as we interact with those with whom we physically share our lives. 

              Walking with God will lead us to love.  Not romance or feelings based love, but true sacrificial love which leads us to see others as God sees them.  This kind of love is sacrificial and unconditional.  This kind of love allows us to look beyond socio, economic, and cultural differences and love whether we agree or not.  This kind of love will lead us to serve others in the hopes of leading them to the truth of the Gospel.  

               Walking with God produces peace and joy while trying to walk according to God brings angst and worry.  Walking with God takes the guesswork out of life. 

                 What would life be like if you no longer had to worry if you were good enough? Walk with God and find out!


             God desires fellowship with us and has given us an innate desire to know Him, though many suppress this desire.  Experience life as God designed it to be lived. Experience life in God's presence.  Follow God, not what you think are His rules. Enter into the unlimited love, joy and peace which can only be found in Christ.


Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!



              

                                

Sunday, October 28, 2018

THE SYNAGOGUE SHOOTING REVEALS THE SUPERNATURAL ORIGINS OF ANTISEMITISM

           
         This past week, a despicable crime was committed in the name of hate. Nazi sympathizer, Robert Bowers, stormed into a the Tree of Life Synagogue and opened fire, killing 11 people.  Bowers shouted, "All Jews must die!", before he gunned down worshipers gathered for Sabbath services.  

         So many are asking, "Why?"
  
          Throughout the world, Jews are hated, maligned and distrusted.  Today, many claim hatred of the Jews is justified because of the Palestinian crises.  This argument fails because the Jews were hated, maligned and distrusted throughout history, whether they were in the Land or not.



          Hatred for the Jew is Satanic to the core. One of Satan's many ploys to topple God's plan is to eliminate the Jewish people.

        Every one of the writings of the Major prophets end with pronouncements of the future glory and restoration of the 12 tribes of Israel.  What better way to thwart God's plan than to eliminate the Jews?  Suddenly the words of our deranged gunman take on a new context, "All Jews must die!"  Yeah, if you are Satan and you are trying to knock God off His throne. 

                I have often said, "if you want proof God exists, look to the Jew."  No other nation of people have ever been called God's chosen, on no other nation of people do the hinges of prophecy turn and no other nation of people have been given God's promise of future redemption and restoration.  Without the Jewish people, God's promises to all men fail and God is no longer God.

           The almost universal hatred for the Jewish people, throughout time, is strong evidence that God exists.  The universal hatred of the Jews is irrational and baseless as the Jewish people have never posed a threat to any nation in which they have lived.  

           In America, Jews do not proselytize, protest, or engage in organized crime yet they are, by some, blamed for all that is wrong in the world.  Senseless!  This kind of senseless universal hatred only makes sense in a world where God exists and God has an adversary.

             Speaking of the nation of Israel, the prophet Zechariah wrote: Zechariah 2:8 For thus said the Lord of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye:
         
              Clearly this hatred is of supernatural origin.   

               The antisemitism of the early church bears as much blame as Hitler and today's neo-Nazis.  Church history is rancid with hatred for the Jews, from the inquisition to the very foundations of the reformation.  Some of this is contributed to the persecution of Christians by Jewish authorities in the first century, which ended abruptly in 70 AD when Jerusalem was sacked by Rome.

         What many have lost sight of is, our faith, as Christians, is built on the foundation of martyred Jews who accepted Yeshua as Messiah.   It is very ironic how anyone can claim to hate Jews in the name of Christ when Jesus Himself was a Jew!  When I say ironic, I really mean idiotic...

          Antisemitism has no place in the church.  The Jews are referred to, in the early part of the first chapter of the book of Ephesians, as God's elect.  Later, in the same chapter, the Apostle Paul - a Jew -  refers to the Gentile believers as also being included into the promises of God through faith in Christ.

          The very foundation of our faith in Christ's sacrifice comes from the Jewish law which states:  Leviticus 17:11 “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul.  In other words, without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins.  

        With no Temple in Jerusalem, there is no place to sacrifice for sin. God did not leave His people without a sacrifice, Christ's blood was shed on the cross and serves as a once for all sacrifice, rather than the needed repeated sacrifices of sheep, goats and bulls.  

         Isaiah 53 clearly prophecies a suffering servant who would come and redeem His people Israel.  God loves the Jewish people, Jesus wept over Jerusalem, days before He went to the cross, lamenting: Matthew 23:37 -  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

           The Apostle Paul stated: Romans 10:1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.

            Nowhere in Christian scripture is hatred or violence against the Jews encouraged - in fact, just the opposite. If you are a Christ follower, know that the enemy of the Jews hates you as well. We must conquer love through hate.   

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!

Friday, October 19, 2018

DEMONS IN TATTOOS - MORE NONSENSE PRESENTED IN THE NAME OF GOD

     
What happens when you lose credibility?  Nothing you have to say matters.  How do you lose credibility?  Spout off,  as truth, some nonsense you have no way of defending.  Recently, I have been made aware of a small number of very vocal Christians who have decided Tattoos and piercings open doorways to the demonic!

       I have yet to see any Biblical evidence offered for such a claim, yet said claim is made all over social media as if it were established fact.   Here is a little exchange I had on one of the Google+ communities in which I post.  



             Michele decided to spout something she undoubtedly heard from some spiritual authority figure.  What Michelle failed to do was present any Biblical evidence for her position.  Why, because there is none!!

            Inevitably, as a tattooed Christian, I will be asked, "doesn't the Bible say tattoos are sinful?"  The Torah condemns marking oneself for the dead.  The Torah also forbids the eating of shrimp, bacon and lobster. The same Torah also forbids men from cutting off the hair at the sides of their heads.  It seems many people like to pick and choose the parts of the Bible which suit them to use as a weapon to condemn behavior with which they disagree.  

             In Acts 15, we find a meeting of the Apostles in Jerusalem where matters of the Law were discussed as they relate to the Church.  The Apostles decided, after prayer, these words, concerning the Law and the Church: Acts 15:19-20 - Therefore, my judgment is that we should not trouble the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality and from what has been strangled and from blood.  Lest you think this is taken out of context, please go read the whole of Chapter 15 for yourself.

             As believers, we must be very careful to properly represent God's word.  Once we add our own bias or pronounce nonsense as fact, we are in danger of losing all credibility.  

              This is not a post defending tattoos. The Bible tells us, "anything not done in faith is sin."  If you choose to honor God by remaining tattoo free, more power to you.  Your relationship with God is personal and probably the path God has you on does not include tattoos.  My relationship with God is personal and the path He has led me down does include tattoos, which have been used to spark some meaningful conversations over the years.

               Credibility is a trust issue, once lost, it is very difficult to restore.  If you cannot back up your belief with scripture, hold back until you can.  I had a teacher in high school who wisely asked, "what's worse than being wrong?  Being wrong loudly."  

               This is why we are commanded: 2 Timothy 2:15 - study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman who needs not be ashamed rightly dividing the Word of truth.  Before you speak on behalf of God, be sure you are speaking from His word and not your personal bias.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!

                 

Friday, October 12, 2018

SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN

            In 1990, Poison released the heart wrenching song, Something To Believe In.  Reaching number 4 on the Billboard Chart, this song was far more personal and meaningful to vocalist Bret Michaels than 1988's number one hit Every Rose Has It's Thorn.  Both songs were written out of personal loss, but Something To Believe In seemed to plumb the depths of the meaning of life while Every Rose was merely another song about love lost.
   

            Something To Believe In dealt with loss on a level that caused Michaels to examine life beyond the immediate, to reflect on the bigger picture. Poison was notorious for wild backstage antics and excess, living as if there were no tomorrow, yet, Michaels, like every one, eventually pondered the question, "what's it all about?"  

              In the first verse of the song, Michaels sings of Jesus, "Some say he was a good man, but Lord, I think he sinned, yeah."  Michaels rejects truth and then cries out, "Give me something to believe in."   How many, just like Bret Michaels have rejected the truth of the love of Christ only to search in futility for something to believe in?  

               Is the church somehow complicit in turning people away from truth because we refuse to confront and silence those who would use the name of God for personal gain?  The opening line to Something To Believe In: "Well I see him on the TV, preaching 'bout the promised lands, he tells me to believe in Jesus and steals the money from my hands."  Our loudest voices are sometimes the most corrupt.  Charlatans like Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar and Jesse Duplantis live lifestyles of the rich and famous, profiting off the name of Christ while the hurting and lost are going to hell.  

               Oh, should I have not named names?  Well, I could name many many more!  

               Ripping people off in the name of God is nothing new.  Before con men like Benny Hinn or Kenneth Copeland came along, a Medieval Monk named John Tetzel played on the emotions of the faithful through indulgences. Indulgences were payments made to the Church promising to help free souls from purgatory.  Martin Luther, a Monk himself, understood Tetzel was using the name of God for personal gain and opposed Tetzel and the Church while maintaining his faith in Christ. Martin in turn, sparked the great protestant reformation and forever changed the world.

              Michaels chose to reject the truth of Christ, presumably because of corrupt preachers, and ended up writing a catchy song which will most likely be forgotten in less than 100 years.  

             More tragic, Bret Michaels is in danger of damnation because he rejected truth.  Bret Michaels will continue to cry out for something to believe in until he understands Jesus' word: "I am the Way the Truth and the Life, no man comes to the Father but by me."

Please pray for Bret Michaels. 

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell

          

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

WHEN IDEOLOGY TRUMPS TRUTH

      
Proverbs 17:15 He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, Both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD.

      Whatever happened to United We Stand?

     America is divided over ideology.  No event, except, possibly, the last presidential election, has demonstrated this truth more than the Judge Kavanaugh debacle.  All reason and discernment has seemed to have evaporated on both sides of the political divide.  Conservatives support and defend Kavanaugh with impunity, claiming him to be above reproach.

  Progressives have rallied to and supported Dr. Ford's allegations, even before any testimony was presented before congress.  Battle lines were drawn and sides taken before anyone bothered to get the facts.  Ideology, not truth, dictated, and continues to dictate, public sentiment.

     I listened, with trepidation, as conservative talk show and social media warriors attacked and maligned Dr. Ford without knowing any information other than an accusation had been made.  I watched, with bewilderment, as the same people who, just two years ago, dismissed every assault accusation made against Bill Clinton as politically motivated lies, attacked Judge Kavanaugh with abandon, simply because an accusation was made.  Before any evidence or defense was ever presented, ideological lines dictated the conclusions drawn. What a national tragedy!

       Truth is no longer important in the war of ideology.  It appears we have truly come to a tipping point in society where the end always justifies the means, no matter how damaging or destructive the means are.

       Dr. Ford trusted the Senators to protect her and investigate her allegations. Instead, they used her as a Hail Mary Pass in the final seconds of a political football game.  Dr. Ford's life will never be the same.  As the final play is under review of the officials, the country remains more divided than ever.  

       I am a conservative, I am a registered Republican (which may change) and I once supported the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the High Court. After having watched the Senatorial dog and pony show last week, I came away with a different perspective.

       Prior to hearing the testimonies of Ford and Kavanaugh, I was hoping the accusations were nothing more than a ploy of the Left to thwart Trump's conservative choice for the court.  Prematurely, however, many in the Christian community blindly rallied to the defense of a man we knew little about.  

       After hearing the testimony of both Ford and Kavanaugh, I have a different perspective.  I believe Dr. Ford. I detest the ideology of progressive politics, I support a strong constitutionalist for the Supreme Court but I no longer support Judge Kavanaugh  after witnessing his performance before the Senate. 

        To me, truth is more important than winning.  Some will say, "Did he possibly misbehave in high school and college, yeah, but he will defend our positions!"  As a follower of Christ, there is no "Yeah but..."  Right is right and wrong is wrong and a liar cannot represent us.  

       This position will make me wildly unpopular in my conservative Christian social circles.  Nonetheless, in Judge Brett Kavanaugh, I saw a man who lied about the contents of his yearbook, a man who evaded direct answers to uncomfortable questions and a man who appeared to me as a 53 year old adolescent.  I no longer have confidence in Judge Kavanaugh's character.

       Aside from Kavanaugh's ridiculous explanation for the meaning of the Ralph Club, one answer in particular told me all I needed to know about the honesty and character of this man: his explanation for the meaning of boofed.  I grew up in the 80's. I know this word is a vulgar euphemism which I will not define in this forum.  

       Dr. Ford came forth as a credible witness who lacked any evidence to support her claims.  If I were a prosecutor, I would have told Dr. Ford I believed her but would have no chance of proving her case in a court of law. There simply was no corroborating evidence. 

      Even if Dr. Ford proved to be a fraud, Judge Kavanaugh's performance before the Senate was disgraceful and juvenile. 

       What makes this political circus a national tragedy is the willingness of so many to defend someone because of an agenda rather than truth.  Prior to Dr. Ford's accusations, nothing in Judge Kavanaugh's judicial record nor his numerous background checks indicated he would behave in such a manner, yet, those who opposed his ideology immediately began to condemn him. Before Dr. Ford ever testified, those aligned with Kavanaugh's ideology defended him and condemned her.    

      The Bible says: Proverbs 18:7 - the first to state his case seems right until the other comes and examines him.  Simply put, we should never rush to judgment without all the information. That is, if we are actually interested in truth, rather than defeating our opponents at all costs.  

       What is the answer to the division tearing America apart?  Nothing short of a national revival and repentance.  Neither side of this confirmation hearing holds the moral high ground.  Both sides have disgraced themselves for their cause.  

       Change must start within the walls of the church, where we are not to be identified by political labels but by the seal of the Holy Spirit.  Scripture gives us strong warnings about making careful judgments: Isaiah 56:1 This is what the LORD says: “Be just and fair to all, do what is right and good, for I am coming soon to rescue you and to display my righteousness among you.

Proverbs 18:5 It is not right to acquit the guilty or deny justice to the innocent.

       If the church cannot stand for truth, we cannot stand.  The church must be the moral compass of the nation.  If the church is embroiled in politics and buys into an end justifies the means mentality the nation has no hope.  Remember, when you choose between the lesser of two evils, you are still choosing evil. Live according to truth and let God be glorified.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!





Thursday, September 27, 2018

BEWARE THE DOCTRINES OF DEMONS

   
  A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about Satan (Who is Satan Really) discussing what we may or may not know about our greatest enemy.  Interestingly, in response to this post, I had a conversation with a fellow believer, involved in deliverance ministry, who made my point in practice better than I could have made it in writing.  

      This brother took umbrage with what I had written about the name of Satan.  This brother assured me Satan's name was Lucifer because demons told him so...  My online acquaintance went on to explain how he commanded demons to speak only the truth by the power of the Holy Spirit and therefore they were bound to do just that!  My misguided friend then continued to explain how he witnessed Satan, himself, cast out of many people and Satan referred to himself a Lucifer King of Demons.

         I asked the man to provide me chapter and verse to support his assertions, yet he never once provided one scripture, deferring only to his experiences dealing with evil entities.  

        The Bible specifically address this: 1Timothy 4:1  Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 

      Subsequent conversations with this gentleman revealed more and more folly, as he went on to tell me about casting out the number 2 demon, made a prince by Lucifer, having been given dominion over hell as a ruler.   I reminded my brother, Satan is not the king of hell and no demon will rule over it.  Revelation 20:10  and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.  

     This doesn't sound anything like ruling or reigning... 

       We must be very careful who we are listening to for information concerning the spirit world.  Alice Bailey, Madame Blavatsky and Joseph Smith all received information from entities claiming to speak truth.  All three were given false information and led millions astray.  

      The Bible is truth and the final word on all things spiritual.  Much of what we think we know about the spirit world is nonsense or lies given to us by the minions of the Father of Lies.  

    Failing to convince my protagonist involved in deliverance, I decided to throw no more pearls into the pig pen and stopped responding to foolishness.  Apparently, he would rather believe the Tommy Flanagan of the spirit world than the Word of God!

      The Bible says: "Let God be true and every man a liar"  If it contradicts scripture - it is nonsense.  Satan's goal is causing us to question God's goodness and authority, the same trick he used in the Garden.  As long as those. who should know better. continue to fall for the same old lies, the devil will continue to tell them.  Beware the doctrines of demons -  they are designed to ensnare you.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

HOW TO SELL YOUR SOUL TO THE DEVIL

   
 What would you offer for the one thing you want more than anything else in the world?   Would you be willing to strike a deal with the devil?  Would you even know how?  

         Throughout history, accounts have been written about men and women who have struck a deal with the devil in order to attain their heart's desire.  

The Faustian Deal
           In the 1500's, Scientist Johann Faust was, arguably, the first to offer his soul for his craft, allegedly trading his soul for wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the pleasures of life. Faust became so identified with his deal with Satan, subsequent partnerships with the devil are referred to as Faustian Bargains.    

The Devil's Violinist

      Two Centuries later, Violinist Niccolo Paganini, purportedly sold his soul for fame and fortune.  Known as The Devil's Violinist, Paganini's audiences reported watching him continue to play on broken strings, without missing a single note, all while contorting his body into bizarre poses.  Paganini added fuel to his mystique when, as he lay dying, he chased away the priest called to perform last rights

Goin' Down to the Crossroads

      Perhaps, the most well known musician to have struck a deal with The Lord of the Flies, is legendary blues man, Robert Johnson, who supposedly met the devil at the Crossroads and made a deal for fame through musical talent. Johnson got his fame and became the founding member of the 27 Club, all the way back in the late 1930's.  Though he only recorded for about a year, many of Johnson's 29 songs had devilish themes.  

A Millennial Dark Horse
    If you have been on YouTube, you have undoubtedly seen the video clip of Katy Perry talking about her early efforts as a Christian musician.  Perry goes on to say, "I wanted to be the Amy Grant of music, but it didn't work out, so... I sold my soul to the devil."  There is no question her work is filled with occultic imagery, but did she really make the Faustian Bargain?

The Big Question

     I guess, the big question is, "Can I really sell my soul to the devil?" Can Satan actually own your soul?  I could sell you the Brooklyn bridge, but that does not make you the owner.  

      One of the many misconceptions about Satan is he is somehow the king of hell, ruling over an empire of ruined lives.  Scripture paints a very different picture of hell and Satan's final outcome.  Jesus tells us, hell is a lake of fire, a place of perpetual darkness and torment.  Contrary to popular folklore, Satan will not be ruling as a king, but burning as a prisoner.  Matthew 24:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  

Revelation 20:10 - And the devil, who had deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and of brimstone, ... and shall be tormented day and night forever.

      I wonder if Bon Scott of AC/DC is rethinking his erstwhile lyrics from Highway to Hell: "Going down, party time, all my friends are gonna be there too!" 

Only Two Camps

      Jesus reminds us in Matthew 25 there are really only 2 camps.  One camp of sheep, or true believers and one camp of goats, or those going to hell.  Nowhere do we see the goats making a pact with the devil, in fact, they try to convince Jesus they were with Him all along. 

     Jesus also famously stated. "Your are either for me or against me."  

     The idea of selling one's soul to the devil comes form the erroneous idea most people are inherently good and happily on their way to heaven, barring some egregious sin or doing something crazy like, say, selling their soul to the devil... 

     The reality is, people are inherently evil, thanks to the antics of Adam, Eve and a certain serpent, which took place in the Garden of Eden, 6000 years ago.  So the answer to how do you sell your soul to the devil is simple - DO NOTHING.  That's right, do nothing and you can one day join Satan in the fiery pit along with all the people who think they sold their souls for some fleeting moment of fame or power.  

       All kidding aside, the very true and sad reality is everyone is born estranged from God.  Jesus' words recorded in the Gospel of John inform us we must be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus also stated, most emphatically, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no man comes to the Father but by me."

         If you are looking for advice on how to sell your soul to Satan, you can stop your search because unless you are a born again follower of Jesus Christ, Satan already has your soul.  

The Good News

         Since Satan really has no biblical precedent for purchasing souls, even those who believe they have entered into an irreversible pact can be set free by the blood of Christ.  Jesus said there was only one unforgivable sin, and it ain't selling your soul.  If you think you have crossed some point of no return, you have not.  

   Take heart, the devil has no power beyond which God allows. Check out the first couple of chapters of Job.  Satan is a created being, God is the creator and master of creation. There is no need to fear the devil, nor is there any need to go to him to get what you want.  True satisfaction comes from serving God and living in obedience to His will. True satisfaction is found in Christ alone.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!  

       

Monday, August 27, 2018

ARE YOU "ABEL" TO PLEASE GOD WITHOUT THE BLOOD OF CHRIST?

           
Are you sealed with the mark of Cain or by the Holy Spirit.  It all depends on the blood to which you respond. 

        Most everyone is familiar with the story of Cain and Abel.  Most everyone is familiar with the crucifixion of Jesus. Many people do not realize, according to scripture, the shed blood of Abel and the shed blood of Jesus have voices that cry out.  If you consider yourself a person of faith or a person who follows God, you are probably relating to God by either the blood of Jesus or the blood of Abel.  

 A Little Background

        In the story of Cain and Abel, you know Cain killed his brother Abel due to jealousy.  God spoke to Cain twice. First, warning him to get his act together.  In the second encounter, God asks Cain for the where about of his brother, to which Cain responds with one of the most famous lines from scripture, "Am I my brother's keeper."  God then informs Cain, "Your brother Abel's blood cries out..." and as a result, Cain lives the rest of his life under a curse.  

         Approximately 3000 years later, on a hill just outside Jerusalem, a man named Yeshua was crucified.  This man's blood was shed by hate and jealousy, same as of Abel's.  According to the book of Hebrews, the blood of Yeshua also has a voice, a voice which speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. Hebrews 12:24  and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. 

          
What's it all about?

      Abel's blood cries out, Jesus' blood speaks... what's it all about? What's all this talking blood saying, and what does any of it have to do with me?

       Cain killed Abel after God accepted Abel's offering and rejected Cain's.  Abel offered a blood sacrifice, signifying he understood the wages of sin equals death.  Cain offered the yield of his labors, grain or some produce from the field.  God accepted Abel's offering as it revealed Abel's heart of contrition.  Cain's offering  was rejected for it was work of his flesh. In essence, Cain was asking God to accept him based on his works while Abel was acknowledging his need for forgiveness.

         God, warned Cain, in essence saying, "Abel offered a suitable sacrifice, Abel is good, be like Abel."  I believe Cain heard, "Abel is the standard to which you are measured."  Cain attempted to eliminate the standard.  In a jealous fit of rage, Cain killed his brother, rather than submitting to God.  Cain failed to realize his relationship with God was personal.  Abel's blood was shed so Cain's works would be acceptable to God.  

          Jesus died because God knows the works of man are inadequate.  Ephesians 2:8-9  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 

 Whose blood are you listening to?

      So, the big question is: Whose blood are you listening to?  If you are under the blood of Abel, you are attempting to reach God by your own merit.  This is an impossible and frustrating endeavor!  Mother Teresa, the very epitome of service to God, wrote letters to her confidants expressing the spiritual emptiness she experienced.  Mother Teresa attempted to reach God by dedicating her life to good works, never trusting in the finished work of Christ. By her own admission, the more she served, the more she felt distant from God, the exact opposite of what she was trying to accomplish.

      If you are under the blood of Christ - you recognize you have no merit, no authorization to approach God except the authorization given you by Christ

Standing at the Crossroads

    Just like Robert Johnson, who met Satan at the Crossroads.  Many people come to the Crossroads and must choose a path to God.  One path is paved by the blood of Christ and leads to salvation, the other, paved by the blood of Abel, leading to hell as sure as signing a contract with the devil. 

      It has been said, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."  I will go one step further and say the road to hell is paved with good works.  If you are attempting to be good enough on your own merit, you will fail.  

Without faith it is impossible to please God

      All the good works, acts of kindness and self sacrifice in the world will not help your soul, unless these things are the result of faith in Christ. Hebrews 11:6  And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 

         Whose blood are you under?  Abel's blood which enslaves you and sends you to hell, or the blood of Christ which cleanses you and endows you with righteousness?

           If you follow the blood of Abel, you are marked with the curse of Cain.  If you follow the blood of Christ, you are sealed with the Holy Spirit.  Abel's blood was shed to hide sin in good works, Christ's blood was shed to cleanse sin.  Be sure your sins are cleansed and your good works count.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!