Tuesday, July 31, 2018


What happens when experience and strongly held beliefs suddenly conflict?  Is truth fluid and circumstantial or concrete and universal?  By the very definition of truth, it must be concrete and exclusive.  Two conflicting points cannot both be true, one or both must be wrong.  Everyone would agree 1+1=2  always.  This is solid undisputed truth.   The very physics of the universe demands absolute truth, otherwise, chaos would rip the fabric of the universe apart.

       In the Laws of Physics, we can agree there is absolute truth governing the universe. What about when it comes to matters of faith and ideology?  Ideologically, if not careful, we can be tempted to assign pliability based on worldview.  If truth is truth, there can be no pliability.  Suddenly we find ourselves faced with the question Pontius Pilate asked the Nazarene, "What is truth?"

Lately, I have been pondering apostasy.  Either there is a growing epidemic of people leaving Biblical Christianity to pursue a different spiritual path, or I am just now becoming aware of something that does not make sense to me.

     My understanding of scripture is a person, by faith in Christ, becomes born again, is regenerated, and adopted as a child of God.  Upon becoming born again, a person is indwelt and sealed by the Holy Spirit and, by Christ's own words, cannot be plucked out of God's hand.  This is the doctrine of Eternal Security. I believe this doctrine.

       My confusion sets in when I see the "testimonies" of countless people who once considered themselves Christian and now waver between  Agnosticism and Atheism.  People who once served as ministers, church leaders and Christian musicians.  People who, by their own admission, had zeal for God and seemed to bear fruit.

       According to the Apostle John, those who profess Christ and then walk away never truly believed in the first place: 1 John 2:19 - They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.  

       I get this and accept it as truth.  My confusion is not in Eternal Security, but in trusting the testimony of those who claim to believe.  I have personally known more than one person who claimed faith, testified to a clear born again experience, served with zeal, bore fruit, worshiped, understood scripture, explained truth to others and then, inexplicably, decided God was not good and renounced faith in Christ.  

      I have also read numerous first hand accounts of those to whom all of the above applied and later decided God was not real embracing Atheism.  

       So, what is the lesson in all this?  Take nothing for granted!  If you are a minister, do not take it for granted your leadership is good with God. If you are a parent, do not take it for granted your children are good with God. If you are married, do not take it for granted your spouse is good with God. Do not take it for granted your friends are good with God.

       Judas Iscariot walked with Jesus for 3 years.  Judas lived and interacted with the other 11 apostles for 3 years.  The other 11 took it for granted Judas was committed and on board.  So devastating was Judas' betrayal, his name has become synonymous with betrayal.  In fact, when was the last time you met, or even heard of someone named Judas?  

       Cain asked God, "Am I my brother's keeper?"  All of scripture testifies, "YES!"  We are our brother's and sister's keeper in the sense we should be concerned about one another's spiritual life.  
     Oh, we are so polite and careful not to intrude or violate someone's privacy.  We assume everyone is telling the truth when we ask, "how's it going?" and they answer "doing great."  We forgo accountability for the god of privacy.  We suffer alone or allow others to suffer privately until we are blindsided when someone falls into tremendous sin, is exposed as a tremendous sinner or renounces faith.  

        Even top Christian leaders are susceptible to falling into sin or falling away.  What do we make of a Mega-church pastor with an internationally revered ministry, who falls into sin and ends up managing a night club, until he is fired from the night club, due to  rumors about improper behavior toward a minor?  How many in his inner circle knew about his struggles but turned a blind eye? 

         People are not only leaving the traditional church, but traditional faith. For the first time in American history, over 25% claim none when asked to identify faith in a deity.  Accountability, caring enough to notice someone's struggle, not taking anyone's faith for granted and encouraging one another in Christ are key practices every Christian should employ. 

     All of the above practices comes down to one word - love.  Not just feeling affection toward someone, sacrificial love that puts the needs of others before your own.  The kind of love Jesus commanded: John 13:34 - A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  Jesus demonstrated this kind of love when He laid down His life for the lost.

      Can someone lose salvation? I believe when Jesus says we cannot be plucked out of His hand, He means we are secure.  Can a person renounce true faith?  I must defer back to  1 John 2:19 - They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.  
         Take the time to have the tough spiritual discussions with those you care about.  Be transparent enough to allow accountability in your life.  Love others enough to invade their privacy a little.  Know that most people are not really "doing great" when they tell you they are. Live consistently to your professed faith.  Love as Jesus loved.

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

Wednesday, July 25, 2018


Does life seem to be a cycle of hardship and blessing?  As the song says, "good times, bad times, you know I had my share..." What happens when the bad times linger longer than the good times or, worse yet, seem to never end?  

       Does it ever appear to you, some have more than their fair share of good times while others seem to live in a perpetual state of bad times?  Does it seem, sometimes, those who do everything wrong manage to receive an inordinate amount of blessings while those who struggle to do the right thing continually struggle through life?

       It hardly seems fair when certain televangelists prosper and enjoy long life while, every week, good, solid, God fearing preachers lose churches due to finances or other hardships life sends along.  

      Crooked politicians continue to prosper with no accountability  while regular hardworking citizens almost never manage to get ahead.  

      Where is God in all this?  Does God not realize the inequities taking place, or does He simply not care? Is God, possibly, not able to set these things right?

        Scripture tells us God is sovereign: Psalm 97:9 - For you, Yehova, are Most High over all the earth, you are exalted far above all gods.  So we know where God is in all this, He is on His throne.  

          So, is He blind to the plight of so many?  Not according to scripture:   Hebrews 4:13 - Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

        So, could it possibly be true God simply does not care? Again, Scripture says otherwise: 1 Peter 5:7 - Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

       So, God is ultimately in control, He sees our struggles, and He cares for us... yet good people continue to struggle while the wicked prosper - so can we conclude God is not able?  What does the Bible say about this? 1 Chronicles 29:11-12 -  "Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all" 

      So, if we agree God is real and the Bible is His revelation to us about Himself, we must conclude God is sovereign, He sees our struggles, He cares about us and He is able to do anything He chooses.  What's the deal?

       Apparently, the Psalmist Asaph struggled with the same question: Psalm 73:3 - I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked.  In fact, the first half of Psalm 73 is Asaph sharing his bewilderment of the prosperity and carefree lifestyles of the wicked.  It is only when Asaph begins to look at things from a spiritual perspective that he gets it.

          Psalm 73:16-17 & 27 - When I tried to understand all this it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.  Those who are far from You will perish; You destroy all who are unfaithful to You.

          God never promised us a trouble free or easy life. In fact, scripture makes it clear we are living in a world ruled by Satan.  Who will prosper in Satan's kingdom?  Those who do his will.  God's kingdom is to come.  Christians should expect to face hardship and adversity living in a world ruled by our mortal enemy.

            Ultimately, God wills none should perish, so our disposition toward the wicked should not be gleeful expectation of their impending doom but a desire to share with them the truth of the Gospel of Christ.  

             This brings us to this curious passage: Romans 9:22-23 - What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—

         This passage suddenly becomes clear as we realize God has a purpose in allowing those whom He knows will never repent to prosper in this life. As the wicked become mighty and powerful on the earth, disdaining and even cursing God, there approaches a day when the mighty and the powerful will bow before Christ in judgment and declare their own worthlessness.  Those who prospered at the suffering of others, having rejected Christ, shall be thrown into the lake of fire. 

            We know the end result of the wicked is destruction, but what about the faithful who suffer?  What about those whose lives are cut short because they did the right thing or who suffer loss because the righteous path was chosen over the crooked?  Romans 8:18 - I consider that our present suffering cannot compare to the glory which will be revealed in us.

              Scripture assures us, the life to come will be so glorious, this life, with all it's hardships and injustice will seem like nothing at all.  Thus, we can heed the advice of Jesus to John the Revelator, given at the end of John's great vision of the coming apocalypse: Revelation 22:11 -   Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”   Rest assured, God sees, God cares and God will set all things right, in his time.  

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

Saturday, July 21, 2018


  An Oregon art gallery, which I will refrain from naming, has caused a nationwide disturbance by publicly displaying an image of President Trump having his throat cut with the words F--K Trump emblazoned for all to read. 

     The Oregonian art gallery was advertising for a collection called F--K TRUMP.  What a private business chooses to display or sell within it's walls is, well, their business.  However, what a shop chooses to display on a public street is everyone's business.  

      So blinded by rabid hate, the owners of this shop completely disregarded the rights of the general public, and children especially, who would be subjected to this gruesome and vulgar display.  

        This so called art is only one more in a virtual parade of imagery depicting Trump's violent death.  Hollywood personalities, the media and now this art gallery have been irresponsibly displaying images of or joking about the often brutal murder of President Trump.  So much for tolerance...

      Sadly, Trump's defenders have now flooded this business with threats and vulgarity in return.  Now, I know not all conservatives are Christian, but, living in the Bible Belt, my experience is many, if not most, Christians are conservative, thus the term The Religious Right.  In what realm of the universe is it acceptable for Christians to threaten a business owner or his family?  What possible scenario is there for spewing hate from the same mouth from which we worship God?

       Once again, social media has created a platform for people to forget who they are in Christ and to enter into the chaotic fray.  Many of the comments suggested the building should be burned with the owners inside.  I wonder how many of those who left these hate filled comments in the middle of the week started their week in church belting out the lyrics to How Great Thou Art or In Christ Alone...   

       We have to do better as the church.  Jesus was bold and never backed down, but if you notice, His harshest words were reserved for the religious hypocrite, not the average sinner.  

         Can we voice our opinion?  Absolutely.  I am voicing mine right now, notice no name calling or bombastic rhetoric?  We should disagree and we should speak up for truth but we must do it without destroying our message with anger, hate and violence. 

          Yes, the F--k Trump poster is despicable and has no place in the public eye.  Just as despicable, possibly more, is the hateful violent retort from the so called religious right.  Shame on us...

             We can and must do better.  Stand boldly for truth, do it in love and never fight hate with hate.  We cannot use the weapons of our enemy.

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


Wednesday, July 18, 2018


  The circumstances of our lives are seldom what we expect them to be.  Life throws curves, poor decisions made by ourselves, and others, situations beyond our control and of our own making, or things simply not working out as we planned.  Whatever the reason, many people find themselves in less than favorable positions in life.

     If you are unsatisfied with life, what needs to change?  If you know what you would rather be doing, I ask you: What's holding you back?  

     As many readers know, I am a pastor with a ministry called Metal Mission of Knoxville.  Our main focus is outreach ministry to the homeless of Knoxville.  Week after week, I have the opportunity to speak with people who are not where they would like to be in life.  Week after week, I have the opportunity to ask the same question: "What's the one thing that you know is holding you back from what you want?"  It is not a question people expect.  

      Amazingly, most people do have an answer, immediately. This question opens the door for a meaningful, Christ centered, conversation.   

       You can imagine the answers I get.  Many are quick to blame others and circumstances, however, many people also readily admit bad habits and attitudes are main contributing factors to holding them back from the life they desire.


       One young man I had the opportunity to speak with this week expressed his desire to be a preacher.  To my shame, based on his appearance and persona,  I was totally surprised.  This young guy, only 28 years old, immediately shared with me the one thing holding him back is drug and alcohol abuse.  I asked him what he was willing to do differently to achieve his calling.  Sadly, he had no idea.  

     Are you, reader, where God wants you to be?  If not, what is one thing in your life you know is holding you back?  What are you willing to do differently to attain God's will for your life?

      One trap is to blame the past.  God's word tells us we are more than conquerors in Christ: Romans 8:37  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 

      God is bigger than our past.

      Another trap we fall into is blaming others.  God takes what others meant for evil and will use it for good: Genesis 50:20  As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, 

  God is bigger than our circumstances and more powerful than anyone in our lives.  

   If you do not do something different, something different cannot happen

 "But that's how I've always done it" is a sure recipe for stagnation, status quo, and failure.

      Jesus warned those who desired to follow Him about hardships they would face. Jesus never said, "follow me and everything will go good for you!"  What Jesus did say was, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."  What Jesus did say was, "come unto me all who are heavy laden and I will give you rest."  

    Jesus also told us: John 10:10  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Don't be satisfied with medicrity

     What is keeping you from experiencing the abundant life Jesus desires for you?  What are you willing to give up, change or start doing in order to live according to God's will?  Are you satisfied with mediocrity?       

     Do not allow business as usual to hold you back from serving God according to your design.  Pray the prayer of the Psalmist: Psalms 139:23-24  Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! 

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

Thursday, July 12, 2018


   Have you ever been attacked online for taking a stand for or against something?    Have you been less than gracious towards someone online, with whom you disagreed?

  If you have any kind of social media or online presence, you know the internet can be a pretty brutal playground.  Our nation seems to be divided, just about 50/50, on any given topic, from gun control to abortion, from gay marriage to capital punishment. No matter the position you take on any social issue, you risk invoking the wrath of half the population!  The quickest way to pump up your online presence is to post your opinion on a controversial topic.  You can easily set off a firestorm of comments from those passionate on both sides. 

     While chances are good, the majority of people you are friends with or who follow you on social media agree with you on most issues, you cannot please all of the people all of the time.  Even within your friend group, certain topics can garner controversy.  Currently, anything Donald Trump is sure to spark a furor!

     I enjoy reading a good rant as much as the next guy, and I must confess, when comments go rogue on a friend's post, I do read through the chain of verbal sparring.  Stepping  back, however, I must ask, "what is the fruit in public online debate?"  Does anyone really win?  

     Hiding behind the anonymity of an avatar or screen name engenders a boldness many would lack in a face to face exchange.  Does anonymity permit incivility or does it simply provide cover?   Permit me to share my opinion here - whether you are posting as an online persona or as yourself, you are representing who you truly are by what you post. 

    It is easy to get dragged into an online debate where words get ugly.  One must remember, however, the internet is not a virtual reality world where our words have no consequence or impact. The person you are debating, insulting, or behaving rudely toward is an actual human to whom you would probably behave far more civilly toward if you were face to face.  An actual person for whom Christ died...   

      One of the most tragic exchanges I witness online is when a person who posts Bible verses or statements professing a love for Jesus proceeds to post hate filled rhetoric and vitriol toward a group with which he disagrees.  What happened to the command to love our enemies?  And then, when someone dares to disagree with what is posted... whoo whee, watch the fur fly!  So much for bless those who hate you and turn the other cheek.  

        If you are a believer in Christ, filter what you post and comment on through the same filter you use when you are at church.  If you disagree with something the pastor says, you would not stand up in church and confront or correct him in front of everyone. You would take it up privately.  If you have a problem with someone's post and feel led by the motivation of love to respond, private message or be really innovative and actually speak to them. 

        I am ashamed to admit, I have, a time or two, engaged in less than loving behavior on a message board and even on Facebook.  Lessons learned... hopefully. Last year I posted on the effects of our posts on our testimony  Being careful of how we respond to other's posts is just as important.

         Being passionate about and standing for truth are noble things, lashing out at others with anger and vehemence is the least effective way to present your case.  Once you lose your temper, once you lash out or attack, you lose. It is far greater to be correct than to be right!  If you cannot make your case calmly and peacefully, you probably have no case. 
When we engage in a war of words online, the only winner is Satan

         If God's people cannot get along on social media, what kind of message are we sending the lost?  When God's people spew hate and ridicule on social media, God is grossly misrepresented.  Remember what happened to Moses when he misrepresented God.  Do not allow your passions to override your faith and commitment to love one another. Don't be just another bully on the social media playground.  

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

Friday, July 6, 2018


 Are you prepared for the unexpected?  The very idea seems almost ludicrous.  How in the world does someone prepare for something unexpected?  Would not prepping for something automatically make it expected?  I, for instance, do not expect any of my children would attempt to murder me in my sleep, so I take no precautions against such an attack.  The day I prepare for a murderous attack from one of my children is the day I expect such an attack.

      The truth is, however, unexpected things happen everyday.  Unexpected things, not prepared for, disrupt our schedules, upset our plans and, sometimes, redirect our lives.  Our response to the unexpected is probably the greatest revelation of our faith.  Do you fall apart when things do not go your way?  Do you demonstrate a steady trust in God's love and goodness when life takes a left turn?

     Throughout the Bible, we read about average men and women who found themselves in the most unlikely of circumstances.  Shepherds who became kings, princes who became eunuchs in the court of a foreign land, a slave who rose to the level of second in command of the most powerful nation on earth, and a peasant girl who became queen of an  empire.   

      When we read about great people, we must understand they are not inherently great.  The thing which often makes a person great is his or her response to the unexpected.  Opportunities make the man, so to speak.  

     The story of King Saul is a case in point.  Saul was a regular guy, living a regular life when his dad's donkeys wandered off.  Saul was tasked by his father to go find the donkeys.  Unbeknownst to Saul, the nation of Israel decided it wanted to be ruled by a king rather than priests, prophets or judges.  

    While Saul unsuccessfully searched for his father's donkeys, Samuel the prophet was receiving instructions from God concerning the coronation of a king for the nation.  As Saul's search began to seem futile, he unwittingly walked right into Samuel's royal search.  Saul just happened to wander into the town Samuel resided and decided to see if Samuel, as a prophet, could assist him in his donkey quest.  

     Saul had become disheartened in his search for the donkeys and was about to accept failure and return home.  Meanwhile, Samuel received two messages from God, concerning Saul.  First, the donkeys had been found and second, "oh by the way, God has chosen you to be king over all Israel."  This second message was certainly unexpected.  Saul received Samuel's message with humility and grace and became Israel's first king.  As king, Saul freed Israel from the bondage of it's enemies, the Philistines.

    Today, you may be facing circumstances you were not expecting. Is God using these circumstances to change the world around you?  Are you God's chosen vessel for a great undertaking?  None of us is called to mediocrity.  It may be, your unexpected circumstance is designed to draw you to a better path or even out of a rut.  The Bible tells us, "all things are God's servant."  

     Great men and women of the Bible often found themselves in unexpected and less than favorable circumstances.  Remaining faithful to God in the midst of the unexpected, the inconvenient and the horrific time and gain led to amazing opportunities.  Are you prepared for the unexpected?  Probably not, but preparing to remain faithful to God no matter your circumstance can literally make all the difference in the world.  Ask Joseph, Daniel, David and Esther.

    You may not be able to prepare for what you do not expect, but you can certainly be prepared to respond in a God honoring manner no matter the situation you find yourself

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