Three Things Every Christian Must Believe to be a Christian-

Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for the one who comes to God must believe that He exists, and that He proves to be One who rewards those who seek Him– Hebrews 11:6 NASB

I am a cerebral person. 

Sadly, in my case “being cerebral” does not mean I am especially smart. It simply means I get stuck in my own head a lot. I will read an article, have a conversation or hear a news story and then I will dwell endlessly on all the conceivable social, spiritual, and political implications of what I heard, read or talked about.  This past week, I spent a shocking amount of time thinking about what Reverend/Senator Raphael Warnock tweeted on Easter. 

The later deleted tweet said:  

“The meaning of Easter is more transcendent than the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whether you are Christian or not, through a commitment to helping others we are able to save ourselves”

Okay. What?

Reverend/Senator Warnock’s tweet got me pondering all sorts of questions regarding life and faith. Like, Which seminary did this guy attend?  Has this dude even read the New Testament? And of course, the always deep: “why God why?”. 

However.

Most of my questions centered on a a subject I have spent a lot of time thinking about over the years. Questions like, what exactly makes a person a Christian? And: what does one have to know and/or believe to be saved?  The quick and easy answer comes from Romans 10:9: confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 

But, 

What exactly does it mean to” believe in your heart”? How does one know if they have believed enough to be saved? What exactly does “confessing with your mouth entail?  How does one know if they have really believed in their hearts Jesus is Lord? Is it possible to honestly think you have confessed or believed without doing it right?  

Argh! I told you I get stuck in my own head sometimes. 

Anyway. These are questions worth asking because what we believe about life and God and how we get to God has eternal consequences. I don’t know everything there is to know about this subject but I do believe it is essential for Christians to embrace the following three truths at some point in their faith journey in order to be a Christian:

You have to understand you can’t save yourself- 

Human beings cannot save themselves. People simply do not have enough inherent goodness in them to get the job done (Isaiah 64:6) . Period.  Nor, are there enough good deeds in the world for a person to earn their own salvation. Even if there were no one would do those deeds with the right heart attitude because even the best people almost never do the right things with the right motivations. Admitting we are sinners who can’t save ourselves is really the first step in the faith journey.   Jesus is called “savior” precisely because we desperately needed someone to do the work of salvation for us (Luke 2:11). Until we embrace that reality authentic salvation will be elude us. 

You must believe God knows more than you do about right and wrong- 

 Thankfully, God graciously “brings us along” on the moral journey of faith. Few people begin their Christian life in full agreement with God about what is morally good and right. That said, Christians must have a certain level of humility concerning the moral limitedness that goes along with being human. At some point in our spiritual journey we have to stop shaking our fists at what God says is right and true and simply accept His proclamations concerning what is and isn’t morally acceptable (Psalm 7:17, Psalm 11:7). If we don’t our faith probably wasn’t genuine to begin with. 

You believe God is who says He is and will do the things He says He will do- 

  Knowledge of the Bible is not a prerequisite for salvation. However, fear of the Lord is (Psalm 25:14, Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 14:27). Christians must believe there is a God (DUH) and that He is vastly superior to humans in every way.  We must also agree God is worthy of honor, worship and obedience. Fearing God simply means we really, truly believe God is who he says He is and He can do the things He says He can do. If we do not fear the Lord it is really hard to be a Christian regardless of what we have declared or confessed. 

As I close this post I do so with a high level of spiritual anxiety. It is not my place to judge the spiritual journey of another (Matthew 7:1). I don’t know Raphael Warnock. I don’t know if he is a Christian or an unbeliever or something in between. He eventually deleted his tweet. Perhaps he was having an off day.  I know have written things I wish I hadn’t. Maybe he feels the same way? I’m certainly willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. My hope in writing this post is that everyone reading this will examine their own belief system to see if they are “in the faith” (2nd Corinthians 13:5). 

It matters. 

Why Woke Opinions Regarding Words Must be Kept Out of the Church-

Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen– 2nd Timothy 2:14b NIV 

Warning: weird personal confession ahead. 

Lately, I have been a bit down. I have not felt like myself and I am not a fan of not feeling like myself. After one especially gloomy day it occurred to me that getting mad about something might pull me out of my funk. I don’t enjoy getting fired-up over stupid stuff willy-nilly.  However, I have found that getting angry over an issue of right and wrong has a way of taking my mind off of my feelings and helping me get some perspective about what really matters. 

Anyway.  

Sometimes God takes His sweet time responding to my requests. Other times I get what I want when I want it.  This was one of those times. The next morning, on Facebook I came across a story about a memorial at Wheaten College.  

The memorial in question honors the death of Wheaton graduate and missionary Jim Elliot and four of his missionary colleagues. The men were murdered while attempting to evangelize the Huaorani people of Ecuador in 1956.   The plaque has been deemed problematic because it uses the word “savage” to describe the Auca tribesmen who brutally executed Jim Elliot and his colleagues. 

So. 

What the heck? This is about more than a difference of opinion regarding the suitability of a word. Among other things, this is a brazen attempt to reframe and rewrite someone else’s story. 

 Who are we to think that is okay? 

Is it really our place to reframe or reword someone else’s experience, especially when they are no longer around to weigh in on the situation? What makes this generation of Christians righteous enough or wise enough to get to decide how past generations tell the stories of THEIR life experiences?  Isn’t that arrogant and more than a bit condescending? 

Also. 

The wording of the plaque was composed with the consent of Jim Elliot’s wife as well as the families of the other martyred missionaries. They had no issue with the words that were chosen. It should also be noted that the tribesmen and women who later converted to Christianity because of the martyrdom of the missionaries described their own behavior as completely unacceptable and even savage. It was guilt over their actions that eventually led many in the tribe to repent of their sins and embrace Jesus. 

This is a vastly different time than when the memorial was created. It is true that words like savage can be dehumanizing when used the wrong way.  Most Christians (me included) would not use the word savage to describe a people group in the year 2021. It is also true that many Christians feel the church has gotten missions work wrong for the last two thousand years. Those folks feel it is this generations responsibility to right the wrongs of past Christians. 

Is it really? 

Are Christians in 2021 really clever enough or righteous enough to correctly judge the intentions or even the actions of past generations? Wouldn’t it be wiser for contemporary Christians to worry about themselves for a change? Perhaps it would be spiritually safer to leave the job of judging past generations up to God and let Him decide who got it right and who got it wrong? 

 I’m just spit-balling here. 

I believe with all my heart, soul, mind and spirit that ALL people are made in the image of God. Dehumanizing others is ALWAYS wrong. Nonetheless, some actions are wrong, evil and yes, even savage. It’s okay to call out evil and savagery when we see it.  There is simply no room for woke idiocy in the church world when God Himself describes the human heart as “wicked” and so “corrupt” that no one but Him can even come close to understanding it. Let me be clear: telling the truth is not the same as dehumanizing someone. In fact, being real about who we are and what we’ve done is the only way to bring about repentance, salvation, personal healing and restoration of relationships.  Furthermore, telling the honest truth about the past is the only way to prevent ugly events from being repeated. 

 The bigger issue at play here is where woke ideas concerning words will eventually lead us. Rewriting a memorial some might judge offensive might not feel like a big deal. However, it sets a precedence in church world. Non-Christians have been rewriting history and censoring what they don’t like for some time now.  Christians would do well to remember that writing and art from the past chronicles history and helps us understand the feelings and experiences of those who lived before us. Literature and art also helps us to understand and even define what it means to be human. If we lose or revise those works we will remove some opportunity for offense. However, we also lose a chunk of our history and even some vital pieces of our humanity in the process.  Most concerning to me is what will happen to the Bible if Christians decide to start taking their cues on this issue from the world. It could very well be next in line for some serious “rephrasing”.  

After all the Bible was intended to offend (John 6:60-62, Matthew 11:6) 

Satan’s Last Diary Entry of 2020


The Lord said to Satan, 
From where have you come? Satan answered the Lord and said, From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” Job 1:7 ESV

Dearest Diary, 

I just received year-end reports from all regions. What a year! 

2020 for the win! I literally do not know if I have ever been more pleased with the state of the human race. 

Life is beautiful. 

Seriously.

That whole stupid planet is one great big beautiful ball of chaos.  I adore chaos. Chaos makes it possible for me to slip in, create confusion and bring about changes that further my agenda to turn people away from God and enslave them to their own idiotic passions. Truth-be-told I owe much of the success of this past year to COVID-19.  I simply adore that nasty little microbe.  Seriously, Between the fear, the conflict and the government’s response to COVID-19 I could not have orchestrated a better outcome to the pandemic if I had planned the whole thing out myself. 

Half the humans are terrified out of their minds. I adore fear. It’s is such a wonderfully productive emotion for me. It’s odd, but for creatures with such ridiculously limited lifespans most humans do very little thinking about death or what will happen to them after they die. Instead this generation chooses to stick their heads in the sand and pretend they will live forever. Coronavirus has forced those idiots to at least acknowledge that life is uncertain and sometimes shorter than expected which, honestly, could have had some truly terrible consequences for me. However, as luck would have it very few people are dealing with their fear by turning to God and asking him for wisdom and help. Instead most of those idiots have given themselves over to fear. I love fear almost as much as I love chaos. Fear keeps people from thinking clearly about the things that really matter. When people are fearful they become stupid. As is the case today. People have turned to distractions like Netflix, political activism, drugs and alcohol and porn to help them forget everything that is wrong with the world.  These distractions have led many even deeper into spiritual bondage. I haven’t seen this many people enslaved to idolatry and fear since the age of paganism. (those were the days J)  No one wants to ask God for help because that would mean repenting of their sins. So, their fear has turned them into fools and most are actually trusting government officials to make all the decisions and save them from the scary germ.

Ha Ha! As if! 

In the beginning government officials were just as fearful as everyone else. They locked things down without a thought as to how they would open things back up again.  Once government officials got past their own personal fear of the virus they began taking full advantage and using it as an excuse to do what they’ve been dying to do for years. Countries all over the world have suspended the civil rights of ordinary people in the name of keeping everyone “safe”. Seriously, what kind of an idiot would argue with safety? “Safety” is the perfect excuse to strip people of civil rights. I simply despise civil rights. They keep dictators at bay and I adore dictators.  Dictators forbid religious expression and demand that the state become their God. 

That stupid world is much closer to being ruled by dictators than most of those fools realize. It’s because human freedom is entirely dependent on human goodness to make a democracy work. Few people want to practice the self-restraint and virtue necessary to make self-government work. They use their freedom for evil and then wonder why the government feels the need to step in and control every aspect of their lives. 

Idiots! They’re all idiots! 

Because people have turned from God and insisted on the normalization of every kind of evil, suicide is on the upswing, as is addiction, spousal abuse, divorce and child molestation. This suits my purposes perfectly. Addiction, abuse and sin hardens the human heart toward God and keeps stupid humans looking to human wisdom for help and healing. As if human wisdom was actually a thing. 

Ha!

Thankfully, most Christians don’t seem to know what to do. Very few pray, they say they have faith but truth-be-told most of them don’t live like they believe God is real. They spend more time demanding their rights be respected than they do praying for God’s will to be done. Some young, healthy people at little risk of dying from Coronavirus have stopped attending church. Those fools have voluntarily separated themselves from other Christians! Seriously. It won’t be long before they quit reading their Bibles and praying. Before you know it they will stop thinking about God altogether. When that happens, I will see to it that they don’t do anything that will lead anyone else to Jesus!

2020 was a banner year and as long as those idiotic Christians stay apathetic and don’t start praying 2021 looks like it will be even better! 

Still Winning!

Satan 

Six Super Dumb Ideas Making us All Dumber-

Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature– 1stCorinthians 14:20 ESV 

 Dumb ideas have been around since the dawn of the human race (Genesis 3:6) However, it certainly feels as if there are more dumb ideas in circulation than ever before. 

There are several possible reasons for this feeling:

It is certainly possible people are actually getting dumber. If that hypothesis is correct it would stand to reason that because the earth’s population is growing at a rapid clip there are simply more dumb people running around than in past generations. Obviously, more dumb people would mean a multiplying of dumb ideas (Romans 1:20-22). It is also possible people are just as dumb as they have always been and the invention of the internet and social media has simply made it easier for dumb ideas to spread faster to more people than in past generations. It is also possible there are exactly the same number of dumb ideas and dumb people as there has always been and I am just more judgy than I used to be. 

Whatever the case may be.

I spent time scrolling through the comments sections of some news stories this week and was blown away by so many dumb ideas in such a small space.  Sigh. The good news is the absurdity was weirdly inspirational.  I decided to highlight a few of what I personally think are the dumbest ideas out there. Honestly, there are so many it was no easy task narrowing the field down to a manageable number for a blog post. 

I finally decided the following six deserve some sort of recognition:

All love is equal and should be equally celebrated-  

Nope and nope. Much of what passes for love these days is just a silly, selfish and fleeting emotion that bears no resemblance to the real deal (1st Corinthians 13:1-13). Unfortunately, even more of what passes for love in our world is cruel, exploitive and hurtful. Nevertheless, human beings are capable of loving in a way that is self-sacrificing, patient and beautiful and reflective of the love God has for us.  That is the kind of love that should be applauded and celebrated. 

People are essentially good-

More nope (Mark 10:18). Human beings are born with a sin nature that causes them to be bent towards evil and injustice (Genesis 6:5, Jeremiah 17:9). Without the redeeming presence of Jesus in a person’s life there will always be a tendency for people to be selfish and exploitive of others. It is true that on some level most people really do want to be good but few are willing to do the one thing that has the power to make people truly good: submit to the rule and reign of Jesus in every area of their lives.  

Christianity always leads to some sort of weird oppression of women-

This ridiculous idea comes out in books and television shows like The Handmaids Tale. The assumption of the author or the producer is that if Christianity were to gain a foothold in the culture the world would inevitably devolve into a weird dystopian nightmare where women would be oppressed in very creepy ways. Those who hold to this line of thinking willfully forget it was Christianity that eventually freed women from the bondage of the pre-Christian world. One need to look no further than any Islamic country to see that the countries where Christianity has had the biggest impact are also the places women have the most protections, respect and personal freedom. 

Salvation is in politics- 

All human beings are born with a God-sized void in their hearts. Therefore, if people spurn faith in God the hole we all have always gets filled with something else. For many in our culture politics has filled the void where devotion to God belongs. This is why so many usually mild-mannered people are literally becoming unhinged over their political views. There have actually been threats made against those who vote or believe the “wrong’ way.   Sadly, politics is a horrible little god that promises much and demands much of its worshippers but delivers very little.  Without a return to biblical faith the political climate will only grow more toxic and dangerous. 

Most people are racist- 

It is true some people are racists. Most are not. One needs to look no further than the riots that have gone on in major cities to know believing the worst in people never leads anywhere good or healthy.

Science is settled- 

This idea is more than just dumb. It’s alarming because for many “science” has become their god.  Real science is NEVER really settled. What is true today could easily be disproven by breakfast tomorrow. For example: when I was a teenager, scientists were concerned about the earth becoming an artic wasteland, now global warming is thought to be a problem. For some mysterious reason many have bought into the notion that once science “proves” something true it will always and forever be true.  This dumb idea is dragging society back to an era when “unbelievers” were punished for stating an opposing view or believing something that was contrary to accepted dogma. This dumb idea could easily lead to a new dark age and an end to real science. 

As Christians we are called to develop our minds (Matthew 22:37) and be lovers of truth (John 8:32) so that we can lead the world to the truest truth of all: that without God even the “wise” become fools (Romans 1:22)

Satan’s Diary- September 13, 2020

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil– Ephesians 6:11 NASB 

Dear Diary, 

I love lies! I love politics! I love COVID-19! I love hate! I love Marxist teaching! I love sexual deviancy!  I LOVE 2020! 

But, mostly I love the 24/7 news.

Decades ago I took control of most print and broadcast media. The task was not difficult to accomplish. I had been heavily influencing college professors for decades. Under my watchful eye journalism schools became strongholds of liberal thinking in no time at all.   

It’s been nothing but sunshine and blue skies ever since. 

Thanks to 24/7 news channels most human beings are being gaslighted every moment of every day. Stupid fools never think beyond what my toady’s in the media tell them.  It’s beautiful.  Those who report the “news” insist what people see with their own eyes isn’t truth. Every day, all day, the media tells the public the thugs burning down cities, destroying business, attacking police and harassing innocent bystanders are not the problem. Those people are peaceful protesters. The demonstrators never articulate what kind of change would make them alter their behavior and newscasters tell viewers it’s the police who are the problem. If the police ceased to exist crime would be eliminated and the looters would fade into the woodwork.   

As if!

Even I know most Americans are decent people who welcome immigrants of every skin color and people group. Immigrants give up everything they know to go to America, some spend their life savings getting there. They do it because they know they will enjoy more freedom and economic opportunity there than in any other place on earth. The news media tells viewers those facts mean nothing.  The media has those moronic fools despising themselves for racist attitudes most of them don’t even have! The “everyone’s a racist and doesn’t know it” movement is actually causing the races to become more suspicious and even fearful of each other. 

LOVE! 

Speaking of fear. I just adore COVID-19.

That lovely, little virus has made more people afraid of more than things than anything I’ve seen in a millennium. My pets in the news media have becomes experts at increasing fear over Coronavirus. They do it because they believe it will get and keep their preferred political party in power. Not that I mind, their beloved political party just happens to be my personal darling right now.  Those fools are so delightfully misled and so intent on misleading others!  The media refuses to discuss politicians who refuse to follow their own rules regarding coronavirus. Stupid humans don’t realize that when a politician does anything that’s prohibited for “normal” people to do, like go outside without a mask, get their hair blow dried, or eat indoors at a restaurant they reveal their true beliefs about the dangers of COVID-19. They tell the world with their actions they don’t really believe COVID-19 is as deadly as they insist it is. Legislators wallow in hypocrisy and no one questions their motives for making the rules in the first place. It’s literally the most beautiful thing ever. Seriously.  

Okay, so, politics is good but it’s not actually the most beautiful thing EVER. The most beautiful thing EVER is the normalization of pedophilia! I have been working towards this goal for decades and I am on the edge of success.  A small but vocal minority wants to begin calling perverts and child molesters “minor attracted persons”.  How beautiful is that? I chose it myself. I simply adore how wonderfully clean sounding it is. I have been busy influencing Hollywood producers regarding children and sex. A full-length movie recently came out that sexualizes pre-teen girls and makes conservative parents look like a bunch of abusive kooks. If I play my cards right in another year-or-two there will be a full-length cartoon with a truly delightful child who is “in love “with a “really nice” and “really loving” adult character. By the end of the movie the star-crossed lovers will realize love really is love. Idiots easily swayed by emotional twaddle will soften their stance on “minor-attracted persons” and the kiddies will be more open to adult “love”.  I can hardly wait!  Parents have actually been very helpful to me in this crusade. They purchase phones for their children that give them access to every kind of lie and perversion the world has to offer long before their kids have the wisdom, discernment or self-control to sort through those messages.  Then those chumps trust their kids to never look at anything questionable. They wonder why their kids are so sexualized and such easy prey for perverts, oh, I mean “minor attracted persons”.

Ha! Ha! I literally crack myself up sometimes! 

Then there’s the Christians. Thankfully, most don’t have the slightest clue as to how much power they have to bring about change in the world. They complain about the culture but very few are actually praying about much of anything. Christians are actively consuming the worst of their toxic culture through television and internet; this habit makes it almost impossible for them to live the kind of holy righteous lives that draw the world to their stupid savior and protect them from my deception.

WINNING!

 Half of all Christians have used coronavirus as an excuse to drop out of church and not just the old people. Christians under forty, are mostly healthy and most likely to believe online church is a reasonable substitute for the friendships, community and accountability in-person services provide. The idiots deliberately separate themselves from the body of Christ not realizing that when they do that they become easy prey for my demonic minions.  If they don’t make a daily practice of examining themselves in light of Scripture they won’t pray and they won’t repent. If they don’t pray and repent there’s zero chance of revival. No revival means big VICTORY for me.  😁

Satan

Why Society Believes Some People are Beyond Hope-

Follow my decrees and be careful to obey my laws, and you will live safely in the land. Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live there in safety– Leviticus 25:18-19 NIV

Kenosha, Wisconsin is the latest in a long list of cities to erupt in violence after the police shooting of Jacob Blake last week. It has become customary following these occurrences for everyone to pick a side and then defend their side to the death. 

The “sides” tend to fall into three distinct factions:

There are those who feel police shootings are always wrong especially when the shooting involves a person of color. This group believes people make most of their decisions based on biases that grow out of racism, most people don’t recognize their own biases and are therefore incapable of operating outside of them. These individuals would like to eliminate the police all-together.  Then there are those who truly believe the police are incapable of making a poor judgment call. This faction believes police never make mistakes and should never be questioned about anything no matter how shady their choices appear in retrospect. Lastly, there are those who believe society has made it impossible for the poor and people of color to make good choices or live productive lives. They tend to think that because the poor are at a serious disadvantage in our culture, they should be exempt from judgment and consequences. This group believes society must fix itself and provide equal opportunities for all people. Until society is better it’s wrong for anyone to expect individuals who come from less than ideal circumstances to live law-abiding and productive lives. 

The first two views are foolish and naïve in equal but opposite ways. It’s silly and childlike to think anyone could possibly be all right or all wrong all the time. People are a peculiar mix of impulses and behaviors, some good, some bad. Some police officers are racist, evil or have been poorly trained. However, the majority of police officers are honorable people who cheerfully do a thankless job for relatively little pay because they sincerely wish to make the world a better place. Good officers sometimes do stupid and/or sinful things. Truly evil police officers sometimes do good things. 

Welcome to the paradox of being human.  

The third view is gaining momentum with Christians who want social justice. Those folks tend to believe human beings are ultimately held captive by their origin story. A white child who grows up in a good home with devoted and loving parents in a safe neighborhood is more-or-less destined to be a person who makes good choices. Conversely, a kid who is fatherless, the child of an immigrant, born to a prostitute or who lives in a neighborhood where violence is normal is doomed to be a criminal or a prostitute or a drug addict. It is not the fault of the criminal or the addict. It is the fault of the society that did not offer the child of an immigrant, drug addict, alcoholic, prostitute or poor person the same advantages as other children.  

The notion people are prisoners of their backstory assumes men and women are incapable of rising above tragic circumstances. This has become a self-fulfilling prophecy for millions of children. No one expects anything of the poor son of an immigrant or the daughter of a prostitute. As a result, society gets exactly what was expected. Nothing.  Additionally, this notion is actually aiding and abetting the looting, murder, violence and mayhem that has become commonplace in many of our cities in recent months. One of the reasons no one is stopping people from rioting is because ultimately those in charge believe the people rioting are powerless to behave any differently due to their upbringing. 

This idea is unbiblical because it makes God a liar, salvation unnecessary and entire groups of people beyond God’s redemptive reach.  The Bible is clear: ALL people are sinners in need of redemption (Romans 3:23, Romans 5:12, Galatians 1:3-4). God also makes it clear that ALL people are capable of change if they put their faith and trust in Him (Isaiah 1:18, 2nd Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 4:24). Those who subscribe to the origin story myth BEHAVE as if they Think people who come from good homes don’t need Jesus because they are already good and those who come from bad situations are hopelessly lost unless society changes the way those children are raised and educated. Treating people as if they cannot change runs contrary to the gospel and makes God into a liar. 

Christians can make a difference in four ways.  

First, Christians must boldly declare to our decaying culture that expecting people to obey the law is not asking too much, sad origin stories do not alter that reality. Second. we must shamelessly share the gospel with anyone who will listen (2nd Timothy 2:25). Jesus the only hope humans have for authentic and enduring change. Third, Christians must live out the reality that Jesus changes people. When Christians choose to live like they did before they knew Jesus they reinforce the notion that God is powerless to change people (1st John 1:6, Hebrews 10:26). Finally, we must never forget Christians are called to assist the poor and show love to all people of all races. Christians should be the first to provide practical help, support and encouragement for those who wish to rise above their circumstances.

Period. 

Confessions of A Recovering Control Freak-

My days have passed, my plans are shattered. Yet the desires of my heart turn night into day; in the face of the darkness light is near- Job 17:9-10

I am a recovering control freak.

 I am convinced some of my issues with control are partly due to the personality I was born with. My Mother was fond of reminding me that my first word was “no” and that word was quickly followed by my first complete sentence: “I will do it myself”. I am no expert in the field of child psychology, but I’m pretty sure that story indicates I was born with a strong desire to be in complete control of just about everything (Psalm 51:5).

 As I got older I became quite philosophical where it comes to the issue of control. It hit me in my late thirties (I’m a slow learner) that control in this life is nothing more than an illusion.  One can have all the resources in the world, make nothing but the very best choices and get all of their ducks in a nice neat little row. A single storm can come along, wipe away all those good choices and decimate all the poor little ducks all in the course of a single day (Job 1:1-22).

However.

 This last week was such a dumpster-fire that I wanted to throw all the spiritual and philosophical lessons I have learned about life, control and trusting God out the window. I was seriously tempted to cross out the recovering in the first sentence of this blog and boldly own my desire to control the whole stupid world.

 Just a few of the things outside of my power to control that I would dearly love to control include the presidential elections, the spread of coronavirus, and the downward spiral of our society. On top of all those “global” issues I am wrestling with some serious family problems that show no signs of ever going away.

 Sigh.   

 Just as I was preparing to jump into control-freak mode the Holy Spirit gently reminded me there are wiser and more productive ways to deal with life. Wisdom concerning this issue begins with recognizing and owning the following four truths:

 There are things in life that cannot be fixed or even managed-

 Because life is better and easier now than at any other time in human history, many Christians believe there is a solution for every problem in, or an easy button that will magically empower us to manage all of life’s problems without any stress or struggle. There’s not.  Unfortunately, Christians and non-Christians alike encounter all sorts of things in life that cannot be managed or fixed, like stupidity and evil. When we encounter those things, we must walk by faith and trust God to use stupid and evil things for His purposes and our growth (Hebrews 11:1-2, Romans 8:28)

 Just because we can control something doesn’t mean we should-

 Anytime I have attempted to control a person or an outcome without clear direction from God I have made a flaming-hot mess out of that situation.  It’s important to remember that when we attempt to control things we have no business controlling we are essentially declaring with our actions that we do not really believe God is good or that He should be sovereign over people or outcomes. I am not advocating that Christians take on a “what will be will be” attitude towards life. I do believe there are times when we should proactively deal with issues but never without God’s clear direction and a really well thought out plan. 

 The only person you can really control is yourself-

 Okay, so this is so basic and so obviously true there is no need to elaborate further.

Control breeds anxiety-

 This point is full of paradoxes but it’s true. Taking control of situations that feel out of control ought to give us peace and quash our anxiety. Nonetheless, control freaks, even Christian control freaks are typically the most anxiety-ridden people on the planet.  This is because Christians are commanded to trust God (Psalm 37:4-6, Psalm 32:10, Psalm 139:23-24, Proverbs 3:5-6) and control is the antithesis of trust.  God is a respecter of our free will. When we choose to take control of anything other than ourselves God takes His hand off the wheel (metaphorically speaking) and lets us have our way. The anxiety we feel when we are the one “in complete control” is a direct result of spiritual disobedience and our foolhardy attempts to do something we will never be able to do. Letting go of the illusion we have control is one key to getting free from the bondage of anxiety.

 Prayer is the answer to the conundrum of control. Every single time we pray about an issue we do two things. First, we loudly declare that we NEED wisdom (James 1:5).  Prayer is admitting to ourselves and God that we don’t know everything there is to know and that we cannot make life work with our own idiotic efforts to control. Secondly, we go directly to the source of wisdom, knowledge and power to get the help we need to manage life (Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 2:6, Proverbs 3:19).

 This makes way more sense than the other alternatives.

 

 

Getting Over the Idea That Life Should be Perfect-

We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them- 1st Thessalonians 3:2-3 NIV

 This past week some friends took me to see the movie Free Burma Rangers. The movie reminded me of three fundamental truths:

  1.  Life is hard.
  2. God is good even when life is hard.
  3. When life is hard it doesn’t feel like God is good.

 Most Christians eagerly agree with truths one and three. However, many Christians (including me), struggle to fully embrace truth two. Backing-up this belief is an increase in the number of Christians who have turned their backs on God when life got hard or other Christians disappointed them.

 Some who walk away from Christianity are spiritual snowflakes. These are the people who see a rude comment on social media as a form of persecution.  Deep down they tend to believe they are too special to suffer and when life gets a little bit tougher than they are comfortable with they melt under the heat of adversity, get mad at God and get out of the church. Spiritual snowflakes tend to carry their snow-flakiness into other areas of their lives especially into their relationships. These individuals are quick to take offense and get their feelings hurt. They tend to abandon relationships that challenge them in any way.

 However.

 There are also individuals who turned their backs on God after experiencing situations that are legitimately horrific and difficult to explain in the context of God being good. These people have lost a child to a dreadful disease or had a loved-one murdered or lived through horrible abuse or a genocidal massacre. Those in this category all came up against a situation they couldn’t find a reasonable answer for and they simply determined they could not live the Christian life without that answer. So, they turned away from God either in anger or unbelief.

 These two groups are vastly different in nearly every way and I definitely have more compassion for one group than the other. However, both groups share a common problem that has become endemic in Christianity.  

 They lack a theology suffering.  

 Theology is not just for bookworm-y, bowtie-wearing types. Theology is practical and necessary to survive life with our faith intact. Theology explains life and how God uses the stuff of life to accomplish His purposes in our lives.  Every believer in Jesus must have a solid theological grid to view life through; if they don’t they will never be able to effectively explain to themselves and others why they are experiencing the things they are experiencing.  

  One reason Christians lack theology in this area is because life is easier now than it has ever been before in human history.

 Think about it.

 Thanks to the miracles of central heat and air nobody is ever too hot or too cold. Unless, of course, they are freely participating in an activity that demands they be too hot or too cold. Two-hundred-years ago, most people spent the majority of their lives in a state of perpetual discomfort. Today, it is uncommon for people in the Western world to experience hunger unless they are attempting to lose weight. A hundred years ago famine was still a reality for much of the world. Illnesses that once wiped-out large portions of the human population have been controlled or eradicated with drugs, surgery or public health programs. A hundred years ago it was simply accepted fact that few people would see all their children live to adulthood. People in civilized countries do not go to jail for being poor anymore. One-hundred-years ago there was no such thing as bankruptcy. Developed countries had poor houses, which were basically just jails for poor people.

 All this progress is undeniably awesome. However, improved living conditions have raised our expectations for happiness to a level that cannot always be met. Truth-be-told most of us (including me) feel entitled to be comfortable, healthy, happy and entertained all of the time. We tend to get a bit cranky with God when life is anything less than perfectly pleasant.

 A couple of things:

 First, we live in a fallen world that is not fully redeemed (Romans 8:19-22). This simply means that no matter how good humans get at making the world a comfortable place to live we will never be completely free of adversity and tragedy this side of heaven (John 16:33). Secondly, Christians probably experience more difficulty and hardship than non-Christians. This is because God is relentlessly working to conform us into the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29, 2nd Corinthians 3:18).  This is no easy task and apparently it requires some hardship to get the job done (James 1:2, 1st Peter 1:6-7, Revelation 2:9-10).  Furthermore, life is full of tests (Luke 4:1, 2nd Corinthians 13:5, 1st Thessalonians 2:4, Hebrews 11:17, James 1:12). God does not test us so He can find out where we are at. He already knows everything there is to know about us. However, God sometimes allows us to be tested so we can figure out where we are at so we can make changes that lead to growth.

 Finally,

 We must change how we view the Christian life. Someday we will dwell in heaven, and there will be no more tears, sickness, longing, pain or evil (Revelation 21:1-7). Life will be perfect and we will be perfect. We aren’t there yet. At this point in the story we are soldiers in a war (Philippians 2:25, 2nd Timothy 2:3-4, Philemon 1:1-2) We are fighting for the hearts and minds of our fellow human beings (Ephesians 6:10-20). Sadly, wars are messy and painful, they demand soldiers not snowflakes.

 

 

Attitudes and Behaviors that Totally Squash Spiritual Growth-

See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven- Hebrews 12:25 NASB

 My twenties and early thirties were incredibly formative from a spiritual standpoint. My husband and I were blessed with a wonderfully diverse group of Christian friends and mentors who loved Jesus and were determined to grow in their faith and help us grow in ours.  Over time some of those friends and mentors grew spiritually, others stopped growing but remained in the church and a few just quit Christianity altogether.

 The ones who chose to do the hard work of growth are all impacting the Kingdom in profound ways today. I have stayed in touch with a few of those who dropped out, some are okay (at least on the surface) but all of them have some sad stories to tell. But, it’s the ones who stayed in Church but didn’t grow who concern me the most (Revelation 3:15-17).

 Jesus had hard words for Christians who choose not to grow their faith (John 15:1-7). This is because Christians who don’t grow spiritually are weak, ineffectual and reflect poorly on Jesus.  Immature believers tend to stay on the fringes of the church and have little to offer the church or the world in the way of knowledge, wisdom, faith and practical support.  Because they are immature and worldly they tend to lead other Christians astray and turn those outside the church off to the whole notion of church and Jesus.  

 Sigh.

 Most Christians believe using drugs, getting caught up in sexual sin or a lack of Bible study or church attendance is what keeps us from growing. In reality, those issues are just symptoms of deeper, more systemic issues. The following five mindsets and behaviors are where halted growth gets started. Best-case scenario the following attitudes and behaviors will keep us stuck where we’re at, worst-case scenario they cause us to go backwards (Hebrews 5:12).  It all starts with:

 We tell God He can’t have authority over some part of our lives-  

 Jesus did not come to earth and die on the cross simply to save our sorry behinds from the fires of hell (Matthew 13:41-42). The God of the universe wants much more than just that for His people. He wants to redeem and reshape every part of our lives by bringing our thoughts and our actions into alignment with biblical truth (Romans 12:2). God wants to impact how we operate in our sexuality, marriages, social interactions, parenting, money management and business practices.  Unfortunately, transformation is uncomfortable, so, many believers shut God out of the parts of their lives that most need transforming. We shut God out when we choose to do some part of life in our strength, using our own wisdom instead of taking the time to learn God’s way of doing things.  Not allowing God access to some corner of our lives means we choose not to grow in that area and slow our growth in every other area.

 We don’t seek wisdom or ask for advice-

 No one is born with the wisdom, insight and information they need to be truly successful in life. God helps us to become well-informed and wise by providing us with friends, family members, authors and various experts who have studied and experienced things we have not (Proverbs 20:18). Being too stubborn, stupid or prideful to ask for advice when we clearly need it will limit our spiritual growth as well as our emotional and intellectual growth (Proverbs 12:1, Proverbs 12:15, Proverbs 19:20).

 We give all the wrong people too much influence in our lives-

 Christians who don’t grow tend to think 1st Corinthians 15:33 is a warning intended only for teenagers. Truth-be-told bad company corrupts good character no matter our age or position in life. Everyone should know someone who knows Jesus. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with being on friendly terms with unsaved people with questionable character or Christians who need to grow.  However, our closest friends should be Christians who hold us accountable and propel us towards spiritual maturity (Proverbs 27:17).

 We refuse to deal with our weakness-

 I am a huge believer in identifying our strengths and then finding ways to maximize them for the Kingdom (Romans 12:6). That being said, our flaws should never be overlooked, minimized or treated as trivial aspects of our character. People who ignore their weakness or pretend they don’t have any are inevitably devastated by them. The tendency to misrepresent facts, manipulate others, indulge the flesh, act out in rage or embrace laziness will halt spiritual growth and sometimes even undo a lifetime of good works.  

 We aren’t discerning when it comes to doctrine-

 There is nothing the enemy loves more than bad doctrine. The worst doctrine twists biblical truth rather than rebuts it.  The wrong thinking that results from this kind of bad teaching not only halts growth it also produces believers who unknowingly pollute the church with even more falsehood (Hebrews 13:9, 1stTimothy 4:16).  Every Christian should commit to studying Scripture for themselves rather than simply accept what others tell them is true (Acts 17:11, 2nd Peter 2:1, Jude 1:4).

 Sadly, not everyone who begins the race of faith finishes well (Galatians 5:7). Some don’t finish at all (Matthew 13:1-23, 1st Corinthians 9:24). The key to finishing well is to give every part of our lives over to God and ask Him daily to show us our blind spots so we will continue to grow into the image of His Son (2ndCorinthians 3:18).

 

 

Why Politics and Religion Really are Compatible-

Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” And they were amazed at him- Mark 12:17 NIV

 Most of Americans were taught two rules regarding politics and religion. First, we were taught politics and religion are subjects that inevitably produce tension and discord. Therefore, it is bad manners to discuss either subject in a public forum. Most Americans were also taught politics and religion are two entirely separate subjects that have no connection whatsoever. Consequently, only ignoramuses combine discussion of the two subjects.

 The ship has more or less sailed on the first rule.


For better or worse, there are precious few topics off-limits for discussion in our goat rodeo of a society. Only weirdos and squares care about tension and discord anymore. Truth-be-told, there are people  who get paid good money to produce and promote all sorts of tension and discord.

 However.

  The second rule is still very much in force. This due in part to a near unanimous misunderstanding of the phrase “separation of church and state”. Most believe it is found in the Constitution or some other critical founding document.  It’s not. The only place it was ever used was in a personal letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to an association of Baptists known as the Danbury Baptists.  This group was fearful there would be a state sponsored church in America. In his letter Mr. Jefferson assured them there is “wall of separation between church and state”. He promised them the American government would never intrude on there’s or anyone’s religious beliefs or activities. Clearly, Mr. Jefferson didn’t own a crystal ball, but, that’s another blogpost for another day. The passing of the Johnson Amendment in 1954 also contributed to the belief that politics and religion should be kept in separate corners. That law allows the government to strip Churches of their tax-exempt status if they endorse or oppose political candidates.

 All that being said.

A stupid law and widespread ignorance of our founding documents are not the only reasons we don’t talk about politics and religion.

 Many Christians sincerely believe politics is dirty and religion is clean. They think that by merging political conversations with faith conversations, we dirty up our religion and run the risk of muddling the message of the gospel. Christians who believe this way tend to think Jesus was discouraging political involvement when he said “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and render unto God what is God’s”.  Most non-Christians and some progressive Christians sincerely believe any mixing of religion and politics will cause our republic to morph into a creepy theocracy reminiscent of The Handmaids Tale.

 Sigh.

 In spite of almost everyone’s desire to keep politics and religion in separate corners, the two have had some ugly run-in’s in recent years. Culture is shifting rapidly and battle lines are being drawn between right wrong. Once a upon a time issues like pedophilia, relaxing or eliminating drug laws, the elimination of restrictions on hardcore pornography, lowering the age of sexual consent, sanctioning late term abortion, legalizing prostitution and allowing infanticide were considered icky fringe issues. Our society has become less Christian and more accepting of just about everything and some have felt emboldened to push these and other issues through the courts in recent years (Psalm 52:3, Isaiah 5:20). Religious people (mostly Christians) have become weary of the societal decline that has resulted from an increase in progressive legislation.

 Okay, so, a couple of things:

 It is true Christians sometimes send the message that in order to be a Christian one must hold to a certain set of political views. It is also true that if a person is a Christian the Bible will inform their thinking on all issues, including political issues. However, the notion that one has to do anything but believe in Jesus and repent of their sin to become a Christian is tragically wrong. Additionally, patriotism is not godliness. Love of country is a good thing but it must never be confused with fidelity to Jesus.

 Furthermore.

 One of the key reasons Christianity has flourished in America is because our founders wisely avoided forming a theocracy. If America’s founders had instituted a state sponsored Christian church, it is a given that the state would have killed the dynamic and powerful nature of Christianity by insisting that all Christians think and worship exactly the same way.

 Trust me. No one wants a theocracy in America.

 That being said. Christians must work hard as believers to keep Jesus the main thing in all we do. We are not called to change the world through political legislation or even social reform. We are called to change the world by bringing people to Jesus and then teaching them to think and act like Jesus (Matthew 28:19). At the same time, we must embrace the reality that all of life belongs to God and there is no sphere Christians are not called to influence and redeem for Jesus (Psalm 24:1).  Therefore, Christians must never lose their moral outrage when politicians attempt to legalize behavior that robs human beings of their God-given dignity. Christians must also learn to graciously explain to our unbelieving world that every political choice has a spiritual and personal consequence. Christians should also vote like Jesus is in the booth with us.

Because He is.