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Category: Sin (Page 1 of 2)

Justice



   “When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.” (Proverbs 21:15, ESV)

This morning, while reading through Proverbs 21, I almost immediately thought of the situations going on in Ferguson, Missouri as I type. Everyone reading this should probably have at least some idea of what is going on there, but, here is a quick recap: 
On August 9, 2014, there was some sort of struggle between a white police officer in Ferguson, MO, a suburb of St. Louis, and an 18 year old African-American boy, Michael Brown. In the struggle, which has been described by the media(I have no first hand knowledge of this) as lasting less than 90 seconds, and allegedly included the boy and the officer struggling in the officer’s patrol car, and then ended with Michael Brown being shot to death by the officer. That, in a nutshell, is pretty much everything that I know about the actual event. 
Now, shortly after the death of this young boy, people immediately began to call the officer a killer, saying he shot an unarmed boy with no rhyme or reason. And there were “protests,” both peaceful and not so peaceful. Many people just didn’t understand what why they didn’t just, basically, lynch the officer. They wanted mob justice to be done. Guilty until proven innocent, when this country is build on innocent until proven guilty. 
Now, however, we await the grand jury decision on whether or not to charge this officer with a crime. In the weeks preceding this, reports have trickled out that Michael Brown may have not been so innocent some are claiming. Physical evidence is pointing more towards the officer’s side of the story. Many conflicting eyewitness accounts are hurting Michael’s case. And, what is worse of all, in my opinion, this has become less of an issue of justice and more of an issue of race.
Every day, I read online or see on the news or listen on the radio about planned protests, and how people are coming in from all over the country(and probably the world) to protest once the grand jury decision is announced. Seeing pictures of people practicing to protest to basically shut down the city of Ferguson. And, on the other side of things, the law enforcement agencies in the area, and all around the country, are stocking up and preparing for these protests, and, no matter what decision is brought by the grand jury, I doubt it will be a pretty aftermath. 
In the end, however, there are two things about the world we live in right now that really are affecting what is going on in Ferguson: 1. The re-defining of the word “tolerance” form agreeing to disagree to if you don’t agree with me, you’re a hate-mongering big. 2. The fact that people refuse to see the evil in their world. They see evil in the world around them, but they refuse to believe that someone close to them could do something so wrong, it could warrant them being shot. 
Paul wrote, quoting heavily from the Old testament, 
   as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”” (Romans 3:10–18, ESV)
No one is righteous, no one can do good, no one seeks after God. We are sinners and our hearts are wicked and evil (Jeremiah 17:9, Genesis 6:5). From my experiences in law enforcement, foster care, child welfare, and life in general, I have determined that anyone is capable of anything. So, on the flip side of things, the officer involved very well could have killed Michael Brown for no rhyme or reason. But, at the same time, Michael Brown could have attacked the officer, trying to kill him, causing the officer to have to shoot him. 
What happened? I don’t know. That’s among Michael Brown, the officer, and God. What will the grand jury decide? I don’t know that either, however, when justice is served, it really will be a terror to one side or the other. And I pray that those involved make wise decisions, not ones that lead to more senseless violence and more people getting hurt. I pray for the many “pastors” involved with the protests to do the same, that they don’t lead people astray and into sin. 
Now we just need to be patient and wait for the grand jury to make/announce its decision.
Soli Deo Gloria

It’s To Be Expected

As a former foster care group-home parent, I sometimes have a hard time seeing the youth that my wife and I cared for make such stupid decisions. I just want to reach through the phone or over Facebook, grab them by the collar, and just holler at them, or smack them upside the head or something. However, it is God’s Word that keeps me sane, because, as I tell people quite often: It’s to be expected.

When I have told people that stupid choices and sinful desires are to expected of their children(and it’s generally church-going families that I have told this to), I get a good equal mix of responses between “Yea, I guess you’re right” and “What? I should EXPECT this from my children????!??!?!!?!?” And, I tell the latter group of people “Yes.” And then I share with them scripture. If it weren’t for scripture, I would keep my mouth shut on the subject.

First, we’ll take a trip back to before the flood….

Genesis 6:5 (ESV)

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  

Yes, man’s thoughts are continually evil. Before I go on with this, I usually have to explain the Biblical definitions of “good” and “evil” or “bad.” First, as we look at the first uses of the word “Good” from Genesis chapter 1 in creation, when God saw that His creation was “Good,” He meant His creation was perfect. And, like R.C. Sproul, Jr. is credited with saying to the affect of, “Why do bad things happen to good people? It only happened once, and He volunteered.” So, with “Good” being defined as perfect, that means anything less than perfect, sinful, as evil, or bad. Paul wrote in Romans 14:23b, “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” In regards to this passage, theologian John Calvin wrote in his commentary on Romans, “The reason for this condemnation is, that every work, however splendid and excellent in appearance, is counted as sin, except it be founded on a right conscience; for God regards not the outward display, but the inward obedience of the heart, by this alone is an estimate made of our works. Besides, how can that be obedience, when any one undertakes what he is not persuaded is approved by God? Where then such a doubt exists, the individual is justly charged with prevarication; for he proceeds in opposition to the testimony of his own conscience.” (Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans (p. 512). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.). And James wrote that a friend of the world is an enemy of God(James 4:4).

So, now, getting back to the point, when I talk to the parents or guardians (or former guardians, as it is in  my case) of a teen who has made or is making very outwardly sinful decision, I tell them, and myself, that it is to be expected. The unregenerate heart is like this. Paul, quoting the Old Testament Psalms and Isaiah, explains this in Romans 3:10-18, saying that “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.”(Romans 3:10-11). We cannot seek after God when we are sinful because we are separated from God.

 And, when a person has a heart changed and saved by God, we are still going to make sinful decisions, though, hopefully, not as often nor as many. God has changed our hearts and given us desires to seek Him and strive to do works to Glorify Him(Psalm 37:4; James 2:14-26). However, while we have these desires, we are still of the flesh, sinful by nature. God changes our hearts, however, until we have passed from this life into eternity with Christ, we will still sin. Especially youth that are in Christ. They will make choices and decisions that they think are good and okay to do, however, they will learn that they aren’t. This is called wisdom and gaining insight and maturity, a process that we all go through in our lives, up until the very day we die. I know that I learn and am learning on a regular daily basis.

So, when I check up on some of our girls that we helped care for while we were House Parents with the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, and I get this urge to want to yell at them, I am kept sane because I know that they are young and immature and will (hopefully) learn from their mistakes. That, Lord willing, they come to know Christ and can use the comfort that they received from God to help others later in life who are going through similar situations as they experience in their pasts(2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

Saying “It’s To Be Expected” is a hard pill to swallow, even for me. It truly is MUCH easier said than done. However, being armed with this knowledge has spurned me in one area of my Christian walk all the more: Prayer. It pushes me to pray all the harder to pray for those whom I love and care for. And my prayer is that it will encourage you to do the same.

Soli Deo Gloria.

P.S. A quick disclaimer here: God can save anyone at any age. And, please, I don’t use this as an excuse, because we still need to be training up our children in the way they should go, that is, in a godly manner. And we still need to be disciplining our children to help them learn, which is commanded of us in the Bible. I give this “advice” more for the sanity of the caregivers, because I, myself, almost lost mine before coming to this realization after seeing some of our girls make the same stupid, sinful choices over and over and over again.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly…and Why We Need It All

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:16–26, ESV)

Something that I have noticed while working in the various vocational ministry positions which I have held(House Parents, ministry director at my church) and as just a volunteer and congregant within the churches we have attended, is that too much nice stuff is taught to our children, and not enough of the bad and ugly. We spend so much time teaching the things about God that we deem as lovely, excellent, and necessary, amongst other things, that they should know. However, too often, “we” leave out what the Bible deems as lovely, excellent, and necessary: That is, everything in the Bible, the Word of God. The good, the bad, and the ugly, we need it all, and, to be honest, it’s all good, to our benefit, in the long run. And, this is not just true of youth, but, all people within a church, young and old.

Recently, we have been teaching The Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23 to our young children within the church(mostly my kids and the pastor’s kids, as we have a small young population in our church). We have been going over them one a week on Wednesday nights. And, it’s nice. Now, this particular group is a bit too young to understand some of the sins listed in the preceding verses, Galatians 5:19-21, however, as time progresses and they get a little more mature, it is something that I am going to not skimp on(Right now, I don’t want to have to explain to them what orgies are). However, it is something that they will hear from me sooner than later. With the older youth, however, it is something that I am going to teach upon. Right now, I don’t have any regular preteent/teens that come on Wednesday nights(12 years of age and older), but, when they start coming, I am going to go over the Fruits of the Spirit with them, two a week probably, as I am with the younger kids. But, when we finish with them, I am going to go back and talk about Galatians 5:16-26, the entire passage, including the bad fruits. It is something that I am going to hammer home with them and let them know, that by the litmus test of Jesus, Matthew 12:33-37:

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”” (Matthew 12:33–37, ESV)

That by the litmus test of Jesus’, people will look at them and say “That person CAN’T be a Christian with how they act,” or, conversely, “Wow, look at that person, they have something I want, I mean, they must be Christians” or something like that. I will tell them plainly that, if you live a life that looks more like Galatians 5:19-21, that they are probably not really a Christian, because in a true Christian, there is a heart change, an attitude change, and a complete 180 degree turn in wants and desires. Selfish to selfless. Loathing to loving. Taking to giving. They need to hear it. Badly. Even it it comes to their own detriment.

Some people will read this and think that I am crazy, telling kids that they are sinners and that sin is the root of all the problems and that they cannot do good on their own. To those people, I leave you with this passage of Scripture from Romans, where Paul is quoting much from Psalms and Isaiah:

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”” (Romans 3:10–18, ESV)

And, for everyone, I leave you with this from Isaiah 55:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,” (Isaiah 55:8–10, ESV)

 

Soli Deo Gloria

He Who Dies With The Most Toys…Still Dies

“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.” (1 Timothy 6:6–10, ESV)

HeWhoDies

He who dies with the most toys….still dies. Yup, I had this poster when I was a teenager, hanging up on my wall to the left as you walked into my room. Next to my bed. 

However, recently, being underemployed, I have learned much about b) and various aspects of it.

First, I have realized that I need to be conent with what I have, especially now, as I, and my family, face the blessing of financial hardships. Currently, and take this in no way as a complaint, I have only a part time job at our church, North Fort Myers First Baptist Church. There, I am the Director of Family Ministry and Outreach, a position that I love. I pray that my position will become full time sometimg in the coming years, however, I am seeking a full-time job.

Secondly, I need to make sure I am content with what I have next time I do have money. Thus, I need to remember 1 Timothy 6:7, “…for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anyhting out of the world.”(ESV). When I was born, I was naked and had nothing with me. When I die and arrive in Heaven with my Lord Jesus, I will have nothing. It will be just me. For many, it is a hard pill to swollow and an even harder lesson to teach younger generations. My daughter asks for us to buy her something everywhere we go, eve at places that don’t sell things(like when we are at church or at home). And, we let her know that the more she constantly asks for stuff, the less she is going to get from us. And, albeit slowly, she is learning the lesson. 

I have come to expect materialistic behaviors from unregenerate people, those without Christ.

However, the materialisitc attitudes that I constantly see among professing evangelical Christians is so rampant, that sometimes disgusts me. And I am not even talking about the “Prosperity Gospel” heresy, either. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus spoke about the cost of being a disciple. He said:

“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:23–25, ESV)



What does it mean to deny oneself? To deny ones desires and wants and put Jesus and God’s will in front. To follow Jesus is to give everything to Him. For Jesus to be Lord of one’s life means to surrender all of one’s life to Jesus’ control. Not some. Not most. Not almost all. ALL of it. Keeping nothing for oneself. And yet, that is our struggle. We struggle with it every day, with ever decision. I struggle with it. You struggle with it. Your pastor struggles with it. Your spouse struggles with it. Your children struggle with it.

However, what happens, is people put their desire for stuff before God, and it becomes an idol, and they are breaking commandments. They aren’t loving God with all they have. They have an idol, stuff, that is before God. They are(probably) coveting other peoples’ stuff.

Now, in no way am I saying that having stuff is wrong or anything. I have plenty of stuff, and there is plenty of stuff that I wouldn’t mind having. However, I don’t make it my life-long pursuit to get that stuff as so many other people have and continually do.

Later on, Jesus spoke again of the cost of discpleship:

“Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25–33, ESV)

This is really summed up in the last verse of this passage, Luke 14:33, “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” This means so much to the life of a true Christian. We must give everything to Jesus and be willing to sacrifice everything. We aren’t supposed to hate our families, our spouses, our children. However, compared to our love of Christ and our desire to follow Him, our love for our families would not, no…COULD NOT compare. Ever. Not. Even. Close.

So, when Jesus gave us The Great Commission, it was a command, not a suggestion. Not a passing thought. Not an idea. A command. Something we must do. We shall do. There are many ways in which people can and do participate in this(which we won’t be discussing here).

Now, let me leave you with this:

“And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’ ” And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, 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.” Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”” (Luke 18:18–27, ESV)



Now, remember, it is not a sin to have stuff. It is not a sin to want more stuff. It’s not even a sin to have enough money to buy the stuff you want. It becomes a sin when your desire for your stuff takes front seat in the car. It becomes a sin when you aren’t willing to give up your stuff for God and His calling on your life. Remember that. Remember that well.

 

Soli Deo Gloria

Who’s The Hypocrite?

So, recently, there was this little thing called the NFL draft that went on, not something anyone has really heard of, that is, if you live under a rock. So, there has been this controversy over a kiss that occurred(If you haven’t read about it or seen it, you can click HERE to read and/or see it). An openly homosexual player, Michael Sam, was drafted in the 7th and final round of the draft by the St. Louis Rams. Some teams have stated it was because he didn’t perform well in the NFL Combine. Some people say it’s because he’s openly homosexual. Personally, I don’t really care all that much because I’m not all that into pro football.

But, there is another story revolving around this and a player from the Miami Dolphins, Don Jones. Don Jones, like many people, didn’t find the live, on-the-air kiss between Michael Sam and his boyfriend. And, Don Jones tweeted about it, exercising his first amendment right to say what he wants. But, then come in the Political Correct Patrol in the form of the Miami Dolphins(and probably much supported by the various LGBTQ groups). Now, Don Jones has been fined, suspended, and being forced to go to “educational training”(whatever that may be) as a result. (You can read some articles by clicking HERE, HERE and HERE).

Ok, first, just from being an American, I think that we should allow Don Jones to say what he wants and not have to be so uptight about it. Sure, the Dolphins just had a high-profile workplace harassment/bullying issue within their team and they don’t want to have something like that happen again, but severely punishing someone for exercising their Constitutionally guaranteed rights? Come on, I think that’s going a little too far.

And, now for something more personal about this situation…

According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, the definitions of Tolerance, and a couple variations, are as follows:

tolerance
noun
1the ability, willingness, or capacity to tolerate something.
2an allowable amount of variation of a specified quantity, especially in the dimensions of a machine or participle
—origin Middle English: via Old French from Latin tolerantia, from tolerare (see tolerate).

tolerant
adjective (often tolerant of) showing tolerance. (of a plant, animal, or machine) able to endure specified conditions or treatment.
—derivatives tolerantly adverb

tolerate
verb
1allow the existence or occurrence of (something that one dislikes or disagrees with) without interference.
2endure (someone or something unpleasant) with forbearance.
3be capable of continued exposure to (a drug, toxin, etc.) without adverse reaction.

 

Now, the LGBTQ groups want everyone to be tolerant and tolerate their lifestyle and everything, correct? Then why is it when someone, anyone, disagrees with them, they can’t show any level of decorum or tolerance towards them? They expect it from everyone else, but are given a free pass to be intolerant when it suits them. I am a Christian in vocational ministry at my church. I strongly feel that homosexuality is a sin(Romans 1:26-27). Now, before you assume anything(and make a donkey out of you and me), let me state that I have NOTHING against homosexuals. They are humans whom I love and pray for, just like heterosexuals. God calls me to love my neighbor as myself, and that I do. What I, and Christianity in general, has a problem with is the act of homosexuality. It is a sin. According to the Bible, the sexual orientation of a homosexual is sinful. A homosexual isn’t any more or less sinful than I am. I am a heterosexual male, married to my beautiful wife with two children and a third on the way. I am a sinner saved by God’s wonderful Grace. And I am sinful. I sin every day in various ways. I know that I am a sinner. I know that, to some extent, every person alive is a sinner. I know that, according to God’s word, everyone is a sinner and needs the transforming power of Jesus. However sinful I am and however sinful you are, I still love you.

So, here is the thing, and I am preaching to the choir, as the saying goes. Christians are called to examine themselves before they go around trying to deal with someone else’s sin(Matthew 7:1-5). Now, we don’t always do that. A matter of fact, I think that we don’t do this most of the time(I know I struggle with it). However, that peace of advice goes both ways. If you want people to be tolerant of you, you need to be tolerant of them. You need to learn to “agree to disagree.”

If someone comes on here and calls me a hypocrite for being a right-wing, Christian, homosexual-bashing, intolerant, person, then you can just scroll up and read this: You(person who calls me that) are the hypocrite. Calling for tolerance for your lifestyle, however, hating upon those who disagree with you makes you the hypocritical one. Remember, just because someone doesn’t agree with you or like what you do, it doesn’t mean they hate you and want you to die.

Am I surprised that this type of “intolerance of tolerance” is happening in our country? Not really. Am I surprised of all the overall evil and wickedness that has become so prevalent in our lives and new cycles? Not at all. Look at how society has been going(shootings, suicides, etc). As the Bible and Jesus has been (forcibly)decreasing from our lives(any, unfortunately, willingly taken out of our churches), evil and wickedness and the such have increased.

Just something to think about…

False Conversion

Many people talk about false converts. Many preachers preach have preached about conversion and the dangers of false converts/conversions. I have blogged about and done devotions with my family about false conversions and converts. Now, let me tell you a story about someone whom, for over a decade, lived the life of a false convert: Me.

I was 15 years old when I first heard the gospel presented to me in a simple fashion. It was after a great personal tragedy, and I always felt that God used that experience to help bring me to Him. And, after that point, I lived a life, believing I was a true Christian. I had been on several missions trips all over the globe. I was a leader in my youth group for a time. There are things in my life that have happened to me that by all means could be considered a miracle that I lived through. And, in 2007, I married my wife, before God. All this(and much, much more) while thinking I was a true Christian.

It hasn’t really been until the past 2-3 years or so that I really have taken a proactive role in studying theology and doctrine, really seeking after God and His will for my life and for the life of my family. And in this past year, being super interested in digging after God in all that I do. And, it wasn’t until just a weeks ago, after listening to the most shocking sermon by Paul Washer that I realized I had lived the life of a false convert for so many years. (I highly recommend everyone listening to that sermon by Washer). I am sure of my salvation now, however, not sure of when, exactly. The grace and wisdom and discernment that I have gained over the past few years far outweighs everything else that I learned in the 12+ years prior. I have had such a desire to read my Bible that I have never had before. I’ve enjoy reading about and discussing theological matters and doctrine more than almost anything else. I also brought this up with my wife, and she agrees with me, that God saving me didn’t finally occur until well after we were married. Until well after our daughter and son were born.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”(Matthew 7:13-14, ESV).

Looking back at my time living as a false convert, I lived a very fleshly life. Drunkenness, sexual immorality, debauchery, drugs, massively high levels of immaturity. They way that I acted were not showing any good fruit at all(Galatians 5:22-23), however, the fruit I was showing was ugly and bad(Galatians 5:19-21). And, I was a false teacher on top of that. Being that I had never really studied theology and the various doctrines(such as salvation!), I had no clue what salvation was really about. And, unfortunately, I have probably contributed to many people having a false sense of eternal security, something I am deeply troubled about, and ask for forgiveness for from God.

Now that God has opened my eyes and given my wisdom and discretion, I thank God greatly for my salvation, and I know that I will never be able to thank Him enough for it.

*update*
Now don’t get me wrong, in no way do I feel that people who were involved in my life when I thought I was a Christian are any less important. I know that in God’s ways, they were a part of His sovereign plan for my life.

The Shocking Sermon…

Here is a sermon that I recently listened to by Paul Washer, given to a Youth Evangelism Conference:

Click HERE for the link to it on SermonAudio.com

Click HERE for the Youtube video.

This is a great sermon. Right on target, and very much so straight forward.

The “One-Up” Game….

9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” –Luke 18:9-14

 

Lately, in my home, I have been hearing a lot of “one-upping” going on. What is one-upping you may ask? It’s when someone talks about something they did, and someone else butts in and one-ups them, saying they did something similar, or the same thing, just better. And it goes back and forth from there. I cannot stand this. At all. It’s like a virulent pest that festers at me when I hear it going on. And, I am also not afraid to call people out on it. In fact, some of my foster girls in our care know that when I am around, they are going to get called out on it(and they still do it, I just don’t get it). Well, tonight, I used Luke 18:9-14 for our devotions and talked to them about it. And, surprise surprise! The one who is the most guilty of one-upping had this blank expression on their face like they had NO IDEA AT ALL what I was talking about. So, I related it to the one-upping, and she finally understood, now, however, I hope and pray that it sticks. I also brought up the Parable of the Wedding Feast, Luke 14:7-11, to help better illustrate things.

Now I know that these girls are unregenerate sinners, and that most of this will go in one ear and out the other. However, it is my hope and prayer, by the grace of God, that this is a lesson they will learn in their lives for the future.

The Insanity of God

“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” –2 Timothy 3:12

The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken is a must read for all believers. Riveting and convicting, it is a must read.

The Insanity of God A Story of Faith Resurrected is an amazing tail of a a journey, ney, a pilgrimage of one family around the globe who, with the goal to learn more about persecution, instead found Jesus and who He really IS and that is IS alive and working very boldly in the 21st century.

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.” –John 15:18-20

After finishing this book several minutes ago, I have come to a major realization: I have been praying for missionaries, both friends and those I’ve never met, in the totally wrong way. I cannot dare ask for the end of persecution of believers, but that believers around the world remain faithful to Jesus, deciding that He is worth it, worth everything. That they remain strong and steadfast with joy in their hearts(James 1:2-5, ESV). Along with this, I feel woefully inept and inadequate for what I do. I fully recognize the scenes of desperation and anguish and despair that Nik Ripken describes in The Insanity of God, however, I don’t see it around me, I see it in the youth that my wife and I serve. And God, through Nik’s eyes, has made me realize that I feel totally inadequate for the calling God has on my life.

Reading this account of just a small portion of what Nik Ripken has experienced has made me begin to reassess my prayer life and commit to praying for faithfulness and strength through persecution for my brothers and sisters around the world. That they are free in Christ before they could ever be free through any other means(governments or family or whatever).

Part of my conviction about this is my frustration of dealing with some of the youth we may or may not receive in our home(we really don’t have much choice, those decisions are made by people who don’t really interact with the kids. Boy am I thankful that God is ultimately behind all the decision making!). I get frustrated, when in all reality, I should be thankful for another youth to love on, talk with, listen to their stories with, and proclaim to and share with the love of Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. That is where I need to ask God for forgiveness and for the help and strength and guidance and discernment to redirect my efforts. I need to stop worrying about awkwardness and rejection, moving towards the resurrection power of Jesus. God said, “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,”(Ezekiel 11:19, ESV)That is my prayer for all those I have cared for, am caring for, and will ever care for. And for everyone out there whom hears the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Matthew 7

Matthew 7 is a true gem of a passage from Scripture. It is a masterful work on confronting sin, amongst other things. And it can be applied towards sin that is within oneself as well as confronting the sin of another.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”(v.1-2)

The chapter opens up with a warning: “Judge not…” We are not to condemn. We have no power to condemn, lest we fool ourselves and end up condemning ourselves before God. Jesus warns us in verse two that judging to condemnation WILL backfire on us.

Verses 3 three through 5 tell us to be careful, tread lightly, and be humble:

3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.(v.3-5)

Jesus admonishes us to deal with our own sin before we attempt to deal with someone else’s sin. It would be like having a drunk alcoholic attempt to tell a drug user that he is sinning be taking drugs. Or, a pastor rebuking a man for sexual impurity all the while, statistically speaking, that pastor is dealing with the same sexual impurity to a varying degree. However, if it’s a recovering alcoholic or a pastor that has suffered and dealt with that sin in his life and, through God’s strength, has overcome it, the rebukes and correction will go much further.

6 “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.(v.6)

You’re a Christian. They know(or should know) that you’re a Christian. Don’t compromise. Don’t throw out the valuable resources with confronting sin(or doing anything): Prayer, God’s Word the Bible, more prayer, and more of God’s Word. Even the countless books in which pastors of ages past have expounded on Scripture for our benefit, that we may understand it and equip ourselves with it more soundly. Don’t treat all these resources flippantly. If you do so, it will come back and bite you in the butt.

In verses 7 through 11, we are reminded to ask, seek and knock:

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!(v.7-11)

Here, Jesus reminds us that we need to ask, seek and knock. We need to ask for forgiveness; ask for help; ask for discernment; ask for wisdom. And I am sure there is much more we could ask for as well. We need to ask God to forgive us our sins, and for his divine help to repent from those sins. And we need to ask God to give us the discernment and wisdom we need as we go forth to confront sin.
As we are doing this, we also need to seek our God in prayer and in His word, The Bible. Jesus, who is giving us this reminder, IS the very Word of God itself!(John 1:1,14). We need to seek out God and what He says about particular subjects and situations. And, believe me, God covers it all in His Word, even going to the bathroom(Deuteronomy 23:12-13). And, as we seek with faith, we will find it. And the same goes for knocking. Seek out God and knock, asking for help, and God will open that door and hear you. But, just as James wrote in James 1:6, we need to do this all in faith. So, before we go to confront sin, we need to truly seek out God in the matter. Remember, pray and meditate in His Word. About this passage, John Calvin penned the following words, “Nothing is better adapted to excite us to prayer than a full conviction that we shall be heard.”(Calvin’s Commentaries, Mat 7:7-12).

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”(v.12)

The Golden Rule. I think it is safe to say that many, if not most, of us have heard this rule before we ever knew it was in the Bible(I know my wife did). This is just a way to say think before you act and speak. Is this how I want someone else to approach me about my sin? I know, from my own experiences in ministry that when someone approaches me in a crass, uncompassionate, inconsiderate manner, I tell myself that I am going to do the same to then when their time comes. However, I think the same exact thought about doing it right to those who confront me in a thoughtful, considerate and compassionate manner. And this leads us into verses 13 and 14:

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”(v.13-14)

Take the high road, do it the right way. No low blows. Here, Jesus is talking about doing God’s will in heaven while we are here on earth. God’s will, not man’s. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but it’s end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 14:12). Now, when you go to confront someone about their sin, know that the way you may want to do it will not necessarily help or edify. How God would have you do it, however, will.

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”(v.15)

DISCERNMENT! Pray for it. Seek it. Ask for it. Knock for it. It is vital. While remembering that only two people truly know about one’s salvation, God and that person, ask yourself this question in preparation: Is the person I am going to confront about their sin a true, good-fruit bearing Christian? Go and read Galatians 5, paying close attention to THE ENTIRE CHAPTER, but especially verses 16-23. And then continue on reading this post:

16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.(v.16-20)

Jesus is talking about false teachers here, those who spew vomitous lies, potentially bringing people to hell. And, however, every man who professes to be a Christian is also professing to be a teacher to some degree(Ephesians 5:22-24; 1 Corinthians 11:3). And we all need to be held accountable. Look at what you know and see about this person: Are they living a life worthy of the gospel of Christ? Are they seeking to Glorify God in all they do?(1 Corinthians 10:31). Or are they living a hypocritical life of Christianese on Sundays and worldese every other day? Are they bearing good fruit?(Galatians 5:22-23) or are bad fruit?(Galtians 5:19-21)…Remember, don’t judge, just keep these observations you make in the back of the forefront of your mind to help you better pray for this person and to help better mentally, emotionally and spiritually prepare for your confronting them.
Now, with all that in mind, remember what Jesus said next:

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you;depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”(v.21-23)

If the person you are confronting the sin of is a “professing” Christian,and they are resistant in your coming to them about their sin, bring it around to Jesus. Actually, always bring it around to Gospel of Jesus, even if it’s going super well! And pray that if they do, in fact, profess faith, that it is true God given faith(Romans 12:3). And if they aren’t saved, pray, Lord willing, that they hear what you have to say and that God changes their hearts(Ezekiel 37:26-27), bringing them to salvation. Famous Las Vegas magician, and atheist, Penn Jillette(of Penn and Teller), said this about proselytizing(evangelizing), “How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?
I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”(Click here to read a blog post and video).
Bring it all around to Jesus. Always. Every time.

When it comes to our foundation, we need to make sure that it is founded on our Lord Jesus Christ, and not some selfish means of personal gain.

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”(v24-27)

When a person we confront has their home build on sand, it will fall apart. Every argument they make to try to justify, in the sight of God, their sin, will be taken captive and destroyed by the Word of God. It will not weather the storms that it brings upon itself. If their house IS build upon the Rock of Jesus Christ, they will survive and be better for it.
On the same note, however, we need to check ourselves and our personal foundations with Jesus and our personal motivations for confronting the person’s sin. Is it on the Rock that is Jesus, being carried out in faith and in love? If not, stop it. Don’t do it. Check yourself before you wreck yourself. “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!”(Psalm 139:23-24).

Finally, go forth with confidence!

28 “And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.”(v28-29)

Jesus has God, Jesus IS God. He has authority. And, as Christians, so do we. We have God the Spirit, aka the Holy Spirit, living within us. We have the Bible, the God-breathed Word(2 Timothy 3:16-17). We have authority. We have confidence. Show it. 

 

I wrote this in response to some of the questions in my Sunday School class’s material, from the Gospel Project, as well as in response to a friend. She asked about confronting someone who lives according to the flesh but professes faith in Christianity(note I didn’t say in Christ), and shuts down when asked about it. I told me friend to recommend to them to read all of Galatians 5(below).  I told her to also pray for discernment and wisdom for their friend. And that I would be praying for them both, as well. 

 

Christ Has Set Us Free

5 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

Keep in Step with the Spirit

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

 

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