How our Beliefs About the End-times can Actually Shake our Faith-

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths– Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV 

Theology is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as:

The study of the nature of God and religious belief.

I am an unapologetic fan of theology. I have spent the better part of my life studying God and attempting to understand Him better. I firmly believe most of the problems and struggles of this life would evaporate if people simply understood who God is and applied His principles and wisdom to all of life. 

That being said. 

There are times in life when tightly held theological beliefs can actually get in the way of seeing what God is up to in the world. Christians can become so rigidly fixated on a single theological perspective they actually miss what God says or does not say in His word. Such was the situation with many first-century Jews. Their rigid belief the Messiah would be a military leader after the pattern of King David caused them to disregard the suffering servant right in front of them (Isaiah 42:1-2, Isaiah 53:4-6, Acts 4:11, 1st Peter 2:4-7). 

I am convinced some twenty-first century Christians are falling into the same trap with the second coming of Jesus first-century Jews did with first coming of Jesus. Too many Christians on all ends of the eschatological (end time) spectrum have embraced such a rigid perspective of what the return of Jesus will look like that they are rapidly losing faith in the goodness of God because events are not shaking out exactly the way they thought they would. 

Most American Christians fall into one of two categories when it comes to eschatological beliefs. Premillennialism and amillennialism. Premillennialists believe Jesus will return visibly to the earth after a period of evil and unrest known as the tribulation. There are two popular variations on this view:

The premillennial pretribulation rapture of the church-  

This is the most popular American position on end time events. Those who hold to this view believe Christians (those who have repented of their sins and trusted Jesus as savior) will one day be taken from the earth all at once and go straight into the presence of God (1st Thessalonians 4;13-18). This event known as the rapture signals the beginning of a seven-year period of evil and chaos called the tribulation (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Revelation 2:10). The tribulation will be followed by a thousand-year (millennial) reign of Christ on the earth. 

Post or mid-tribulation rapture of the church- 

This is a variation on the first view. Those who believe this version of end time events agree with almost everything their pre-tribulation premillennialist counterparts believe except they believe the rapture will take place after or at some point during the great tribulation. The pre-tribulation rapture theory means that the return of Jesus will be an entirely separate event from the rapture while the post-tribulation theory assumes these two events will take place at more or less the same time.   

Post or mid-rapture Christians believe the church will suffer but grow before the return of Jesus. Pre-tribulation rapture Christians believe Christians who are saved prior to the rapture will be spared the intense suffering that will take place during the tribulation. This view holds fast to the idea there will be a huge spiritual revival that takes place during the tribulation and most of those who become Christians during the tribulation will be martyred for their faith   

 Amillennialism 

Amillennialists do not believe in a tribulation or a rapture per se.  Instead they believe that Christians are called to live in such a way that their actions bring about righteousness and justice on the earth. As people become more righteous and justice becomes more pervasive the reign of Christ will manifest itself over time. Amillennialists do not believe in a literal thousand-year reign of Christ rather, they believe the earthly reign of Christ will be strictly figurative. 

It’s just a fact that adherents to each end-time perspective feel equally strongly their interpretation of Scripture is correct and the interpretation best supported by Scripture.  However, in my experience all end-time views can lead to practical theological and/or spiritual problems of one kind or another. Premillennial, pre-tribulation Christians tend to become troubled at the idea there will come a time when the church will universally suffer extreme persecution. This is despite the fact Christians have suffered persecution since the beginning and there are a myriad of Bible verses promising Christians will experience suffering and persecution (John 16:23, Matthew 13:21, Matthew 24, Acts 14:21-22, 1st Peter 1:6, James 1:2, 1st Thessalonians 3:1-4). The post-tribulation rapture theory tends to lead to anxiety and an emphasis on making physical preparations for the tribulation (prepping) rather than on reaching the lost for Jesus or being spiritually ready for the return of Jesus. Amillennialism trusts sinful humans to do things only God’s spirit can do, such as bring about righteousness and justice.  

Our world is getting weirder and scarier everyday it is critical we focus on what we do know.   We know Jesus IS coming back and it appears He will return after a period of moral decline, persecution and apostasy (2nd Timothy 3:1-5, Matthew 24, 2nd Peter 3:3). It is critical we be spiritually and morally prepared for and enthusiastically await the return of Jesus even in the face of ongoing evil and unrest (1stCorinthians 1:7, Hebrews 9:27-28). It is every bit as critical we not allow our own rigid ideas of what the end should look like to shake our faith in the goodness of God. 

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. 

What’s Behind the Loss of Freedom-

 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love- Galatians 5:13 NIV

 The rights to freely assemble, speak, worship and bear arms are being challenged at every turn. Politicians from all sides argue the restriction of rights necessary for “the greater good” of society. Individuals have responded to the loss of liberty in one of two ways.  A small but vocal minority is quick to express gratitude. They sincerely believe the loss of liberty is worth the security gained. The vast majority feels otherwise. 

 Rulers throughout history have tended to view personal freedom as a privilege that can be revoked at a moment’s notice by the will of human authority. However, history has also proven freedom causes human beings to flourish. Without personal freedom the human spirit withers, creativity is choked and discovery is stifled. It comes as no surprise that the countries that allow the most freedom are also the most productive and innovative. Authoritarian governments who relentlessly limit autonomy and freedom inevitably collapse because human freedom is the key to human productivity.

 The Bible presents human freedom as both a gift and a test (1st Corinthians 10:23, Genesis 3). God is the giver of human freedom. He calls freedom freewill and people can do whatever they want with their freewill. Nonetheless, God reserves the right to punish people for the sinful and selfish use of their freedom (Romans 2:6-8, Romans 6:23, Galatians 6:8, 1st Corinthians 6:9).  In the Bible freedom without obedience always leads to moral ruin and bondage (2nd Chronicles 29:6-9).  

 Americans have been blessed with a wider variety of freedoms than any people in the history of mankind. Both men and women, regardless of race, creed or social class are free to live where they want, build what they want, associate with who they want, buy what they want and sell what they want. Americans are free to have any kind of relationship they choose to have with anyone they choose to have it with. Americans can raise and educate their children however they see fit and wherever they want to. We can use our free time for any purpose we choose. The only real stipulation placed on these freedoms is that we do not harm others with our independence. No other country on earth has been blessed in this way.

 Are we living lives worthy of these blessings?

 Nope. Nope, and more nope. 

 Rather than using the freedom we have to create a healthier, more just society we have used our freedom to abort millions of children and deprive them of their right to life, liberty and a pursuit of happiness. We have pushed the boundaries of good sense and tested the patience of God by denying reality and insisting gender is a choice we get to make. Our culture has twisted the blessing of sexuality into a multi-billion-dollar industry that enslaves and objectifies millions of women and children. Taxpayer funded-school systems actively seek to corrupt the innocence of children through the implementation of curriculums that introduce ideas and concepts that go beyond “the basics” of sexuality into a distorted and even creepy perversion of sex. Rather than expressing gratitude for the abundant material blessings available in our culture full grown adults cry, whine, riot and set things on fire, and demand MORE all the while refusing to work for anything. Some are actively using the racial injustice suffered by too many in our society as an excuse to tear everything down and reshape society in their own twisted image (2nd Peter 2:19, 2nd Timothy 3:1-3).

 Many Christians are no better just different.  

 Statistics reveal the vast majority of Americans who identify as Christians do not use their religious freedom to worship regularly on Sunday mornings. Nor, do the majority of Christians share their faith with others, volunteer in their churches or contribute to missions. Churches are some of the most segregated places in the country and Christians routinely show more kindness to unsaved people than they do to saved people.  Christians view porn almost as much as non-Christians, infidelity is far from unheard of in the church and scandals among church leaders have become a routine occurrence.

 Here’s the thing.

 God sometimes judges by removing blessings that are not used responsibly. We have not used our freedom responsibly.

 It’s not too late but it is time for the Church to repent.

 Christians have got to stop being a part of the problem and must seek to be the solution. We must model the reality for the world that genuine freedom is not found in doing anything we want to do. Authentic freedom is found in knowing Christ and being free from bondage to sinful behaviors and thought patterns (Romans 6:6).  We must be intentional about using freedom to do good rather than as an excuse to evil. We must make a practice of examining ourselves daily and searching diligently for sinful attitudes and behaviors that need to be repented of. God has not blessed the Church so we can live for our own pleasure or have everything just the way we want it at the expense of those who are dying without Christ. God has blessed the Church so we can be a blessing, preach the gospel fearlessly and lead the greater culture towards living righteous and holiness.   

 It’s time to get to it.

 

 

Is America a Bad Country?

You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit- Matthew 7:16-17 NASB

 The “America is a bad country” movement denounces America for being a “Christian” nation that began by forcefully removing indigenous people (Native Americans) from land that rightfully belonged to them. Those who hold this view make the point that despite being a country established on the principle of all men being created equal, early Americans built much of their wealth and prosperity on the backs of enslaved Africans and denied women the right to vote for well over a century. Even after Africans were freed from slavery their decedents were still held in bondage by the prejudice and hate of their fellow Americans. In 1845 the idea of “Manifest Destiny” took root in the American consciousness and Native Americans once again became victims of nationalistic greed and ambition. Critics argue America has a rather sordid history of going to war for the sole purpose of furthering regime changes that mostly benefit America.   

 This is all true.  

 But does this make America an inherently bad country?

Many believe it does. It is popular to proclaim America an evil imperialistic country that systematically represses women and people of color. Millions are demanding law enforcement be “reimagined” and “defunded” claiming systemic racism and abuse are standard-operating-procedure for police in America. Countless people are persuaded only the rich and white are given opportunities for advancement and demand an end to our capitalistic economic system.

That said. 

  It is also true America is an extraordinarily diverse country. A quick look at any American Olympic sports team demonstrates my point beautifully. Every team has people of every color. All are equally American and equally celebrated by all Americans. With a few ugly exceptions individual Americans have warmly welcomed immigrants from every race into their country and personal lives. Individuals from all religions and races still sincerely believe they will be treated fairly and have opportunities for advancement in America they would not have in their country of origin. If this were not true there would be no immigration laws because no one would be coming here. It is also true that America is the most generous country on earth. Anytime there is a natural disaster or human tragedy anywhere in the world Americans are the first to open their wallets and provide for those in need regardless of the color of the people impacted by said tragedy. America is also a country that goes out of its way to right moral wrongs once wrongs are exposed. The American government has passed laws that criminalize discrimination and spent millions creating opportunities for women and minorities to become successful.  America is one of the few places on earth where an individual can move beyond the station they were born into. Even in most European countries people tend to stay in the economic and social class they were born into. In America hard work and education are greater equalizers than race or family of origin. This is not true everywhere.

 Countries are really just big bunches of people; therefore, no country is perfect, including America.  Intelligent people recognize every human on this planet has ancestors who were slaves and who enslaved others. Nor has there ever been a place where all people were given equal treatment and equal opportunity all the time. Sin, evil and inequity are part of the human condition. Christians should never simply accept evil and injustice.  Neither, should we pretend that some races and nations are inherently more moral than others.

 There is a powerful minority that wants to tear America down and build a new nation based on their peculiar vision of fairness and equality. They are on the precipice of having their vision realized.

 Seriously.  

 It is critical we understand any new country that rises out of the ashes of this one will likely not be an improvement. It is practically a given it will be less fair, less prosperous, less kind, less forgiving, less accepting of strangers and less generous. Any nation shaped by the hopes and dreams of those burning down our cities will quickly devolve into “might makes right” and the masses will become victims of their tyranny.

 We should be asking ourselves: where do we go from here?  Do we passively allow an obnoxious minority to destroy a way of life that has benefited countless people? Or do we find ways to make our country better?

 Making America better begins with making intercession for the people of this country and our leaders a priority.  There are five months until the next election. Every day is critical, not a day should pass without every Christian imploring the Lord for a spirit of wisdom, repentance and righteousness to prevail in the hearts of all people. 

 James 2:20 tells us faith without works is a pointless waste of time. Every Christian should vote this year, if you are not registered, do it now.  No Christian should waste a vote on any politician who passively or actively supports the kind of anarchy that has become routine in our major cities. Historically anarchy has always led to tyranny and evil—not freedom, spiritual healing or moral and economic blessing.  Christians must examine themselves and beg God to root out bigotry, sin, injustice and evil, so that God will bless our land. Our country needs heart change. It is our sacred duty to pray and labor until we see change.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Truth about Control-

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 first word was “no” and my first complete sentence was: “I will do it myself”. I am no expert in the field of child psychology, but I’m pretty sure these facts indicate I was born with a strong desire to be in complete control of just about everything basically from birth (Psalm 51:5).

Sigh.

 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 things outside my power to control that I would dearly love to control include the elections, the spread of coronavirus, and the downward spiral of our society. All the “global” issues aside I am also wrestling with some serious family problems that will probably never go 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 people believe there is a solution for every problem, 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.

 

 

How we Derail our own 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.

 Those who chose to grow 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, lack of Bible study or church attendance is what stunts our growth. In reality, those behaviors are just symptoms of deeper, more systemic problems. The following five mindsets are where our spiritual growth gets stunted. Best-case scenario the following attitudes 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.