Reign of Terror

isisThe Quran contains at least 109 verses that call Muslims to war with nonbelievers for the sake of Islamic rule.  Some are quite graphic, with commands to chop off heads and fingers and kill infidels wherever they may be hiding.The psychology of ISIS is reign by terror. It is “salvation” or elimination. Fear is a very strong emotion that may cause people to do things that they would not do under normal circumstances.Though the threat of terrorism is real,  we as Christ followers should not be overcome with fear.

While the threat of terrorism is real, we as Christ-followers we should not be overcome by fear.                                  For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7                  You shall not be afraid of the terror of the night, nor of the arrow (the evil plots and slanders of the wicked) that flies by day, Psalms 91:5

We forget the power [terror] God possessed when facing the enemies of Israel.”… the terror of God fell on the towns all around them so that no one pursued them. Gen. 35:5

“That night the angel of the LORD went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere.” Isaiah 37:36

Without sounding over simplistic, what we are facing is a battle between good and evil. Isis is motivate by hate, genocide and a lust for power. I am not sure that Isis can be defeated militarily alone. I believe that our warfare is more spiritual than physical. “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds” 2 Cor. 10:4. Time for the Church to pray and ask God to intervene and stop this evil!

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All I Got Is This Lousy T-Shirt

Tourists and travelers buy souvenirs from the places they visit. Souvenirs connect us to a place and an experience that become hooks for our memories. They prove that we’ve been to a specific place. Souvenirs can be just about anything: My wife likes seashells. I like collecting baseball caps. Some buy jewelry while others may collect postcards.

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In the Old Testament there is a story of souvenir collecting. The Philistines grab a priceless Israelite treasure – The Ark of the Covenant. 1 Samuel 6:19 . About the same time, the nation of Israel began collecting Canaanite items. In both cases their “souvenirs” brought calamity to the owners.

When Israel began conquering Canaan, they were supposed to destroy all the idols they found. Instead, many people collected the idols, brought them home and eventually worshipped them. Exodus 20:4 Today’s idols don’t look like the ancient gods of wood or stone but they endanger us just as much. Whatever holds first place in a person’s life is in fact their idol. Money, success, pride or anything else can be an idol if it takes God’s place. If we have “foreign gods,” we need to dethrone them, giving the true God His rightful place.

Christian Urban Legend # 3

jesus1While attending Bible college, one of the requirements of the Pastoral Ministries class was to go door-to-door and take a community survey concerning people’s religious beliefs. One of the survey questions was “Is there more than one way to God?” The vast majority said with strong conviction that there are a multitude of ways to God.

If you were to say that Jesus Christ was the only way to God, people would classify you as racist, narrow-minded or self righteous. Several years ago, Oprah Winfrey said, “One of the biggest mistakes a person can make is to believe that there is only one way to God, There are many different paths leading to God.” In our very politically correct world that we now live in this legend is very acceptable. People will say, “When you boil all the religions down they are all saying basically the same thing.” “All religions teach the same thing, treat your brother with respect,”

But what does the Bible have to say about this urban legend? What did Jesus say about Himself? People don’t debate that He ever existed. People don’t debate His great teachings, but what people reject is Jesus exclusive claim to be the only way to God.  Jesus said, “I am way, truth, life. No one comes to God BUT BY ME.” This is pretty clear. He is saying there is only ONE way to God and that is through HIM. John 14:6

This is not the only time Jesus said this. He said this often and this is what eventually caused Him to be put to death.  Deciding on the answer to this urban legend or issue is one of the most important things a person will ever do in their entire life. This is very, very important and needs to be resolved by each person individually at some point in their lives. Our eternal destination hinges on how we answer this.

Christian Urban Legend # 2

God Wants You Happy

If you were to stop the “average” person on the street and asked them what they wanted out most out of life, the majority would reply,”I just want to be happy.” After all, our Declaration of Independence states we have a right to “pursue happiness” and we are in frantic pursuit. In our desire for happiness, we have somewhere developed a theology that God is responsible for our happiness. Many people think God’s ultimate task is to keep them happy. Some televangelists preach a Gospel of happiness. They would suggest that God doesn’t want any of His children to suffer or be unhappy. Unfortunately, Scripture does not support this theology:And all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12

  • “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. John 16:33
  • “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” Philippians 1:29

If God wants His children happy, what do we tell the families of the Egyptian Christians beheaded by ISIS? What do we say to Christians suffering persecution and starvation in Africa. Christians have suffered for their faith for thousands of years. The goal of every Christ-follower is not happiness but Christ-likeness. Happiness is a byproduct of holy living, submission to God’s will and obedience.

Christian Urban Legends

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I am amazed at the number of people in our churches that are Biblically illiterate. People often quote [or misquote] a verse from the Bible trying to make it say something far from what it was trying to convey.  An urban legend is a story or piece on information told as true. In misapplying scripture, we make it a Christian Urban Legend. A phrase that has been used countless times during contentious conversations or in defensive moments when someone is confronted about their behavior: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” These famous words from Jesus are recited by many but profoundly misunderstood. Many use this verse to justify living as they please without any regard for moral boundaries or accountability.

The context of this passage, Matthew 7:1-5, clearly teaches we cannot “judge” people of a certain sin or behavior, if we are also guilty of that same sin. Jesus said a greater judgment is reserved for the one who has purposefully overlooked his own mammoth sin while pointing out the smaller sins of others.

The Bible makes it clear that it is our duty to encourage one another on to live lives that please God. A closer study of Scripture commands us to judge – hold people accountable for their behavior.

  • My friends, if someone is caught in any kind of wrongdoing, those of you who are spiritual should set him right; but you must do it in a gentle way. Galatians 6:1
  • My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins James 5:19-20
  • It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.1 Cor. 5:12

“Jesus does not forbid all moral judgment or accountability. Rather, he forbids harsh, prideful, and hypocritical judgment that condemns others outright without first evaluating one’s own spiritual condition and commitment to forsake sin.” — The Most Misused Verses in the Bible by Eric Bargerhuff, PhD

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

loveTomorrow is Valentines Day. A day in which millions will proclaim  their love. America is in love of “being in love.” Songs are written about love. Movies are produced about love. Poets and song writers write about this thing we call love. But do we really understand what love truly is?

In 1984, Tina Turner recorded the hit song “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” Good question! But what is true love?

First, in its truest sense, love is not an emotion at all but rather an action and an attitude. The Righteous Brothers sang the hit song You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling which defines how most people see love. To them love is an feeling that must be maintained. But John 3:16 tells us it was love that motivated God to give us His Son. Biblically speaking, you can love someone without having a certain emotion.

Secondly, true love is not self-centered. Most people get married for the wrong reason. People get married with the idea (often unconcisouly) that this person is going to make me happy and meet all my needs. But true love is centered in others. God’s love was other-centered. 

Love is always concerned about what is best for the other person. God’s love was extended to people so that they would not perish though it cost Him His Son. Loving someone means doing what is in their best interest which is often not the easiest thing.

What’s got to do with it? Everything! Living is rooted it love.Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Christianity is the only religion with love at its core. John 13:35 , 1 Cor. 16:14

Do you speak Christianese?

Have you ever spoken with a computer tech, doctor, mechanic, or someone who uses words that you have no idea what they are talking about but they take it for granted that you understand? I often drive by churches that have signs in front of the church that use jargon that only those on the “inside” understand. But I wonder if people on the “outside” understand.

But if we are trying to reach people who have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as  their savior, we must use terms they understand. To do that we have to ask ourselves, the word I am using, “Does it make sense to a non-believer?” We use words like: born again, salvation, saved, sinner, new birth, Savior, Holy Spirit, testimony, saved, repentance, witness, confess, found the Lord, lost, and my favorite – inviting Jesus into your heart. Confusing?

We must assume that those we contact know nothing about Christianity. John 3:16 in the end zone means nothing to the average person. One of the reasons Jesus’ message was accepted by the common people was He used everyday words people knew. The test for every word, idea, concept should be: “Will they understand this? This is for them, not for us.” Otherwise, non-Christians will quickly come to their own conclusion: “This is for them, not for us.” Think about everything you say from the perspective of the person to whom you’re saying it.