Tag Archives: Culture

The Church Consumer

I recently had a spat with my pharmacy. When they could not fill my prescription, I went somewhere else. When I upgrade my cell phone, I go to the store dressed for battle. I want to come away with the best possible deal. The church consumer is also looking for a deal. He needs to make sure he’s looking for the right thing.

The church consumer will, likewise, shop for what they perceive to be the best possible deal in churches. They may look for entertainment, friendship, or self-validation. People don’t want to change. They reject repentance. They are not looking for sanctification. Their desire for holiness is missing. Such shallow church consumerism is a colossal waste of time.

The church consumer should immediately jettison his foolish ideas about shopping for a church as he might shop for a new car. There is only one quality that a person should look for in a church. Seek and search for a church committed to the absolute truth of God’s word.

The Truth

Solomon said, “Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding” (Proverbs 22:23). In Matthew 13, Jesus spoke two brief parables about the value of finding the most important things. He told of a man who came across treasure and immediately went and bought the field. A second man found a pearl of exquisite beauty and great price. He sold everything he had to buy it (Matthew 13:44, 45).

The only things a church consumer should look for are the things that last an eternity. Entertainment brings joy for a few minutes. Self-validation brings about no change in the life of a sinner. These pursuits are not worthy of your time. Search for that which has true value.

Church leaders and preachers are responsible for doing their best to communicate God’s word to the listeners. The preacher should sharpen his skills of delivery and interpretation to deliver the pure truth in a way that his hearers can understand. Remember, the sermon is not a TED talk or standup comedy. The preacher does not take the stage to entertain but to encourage, evangelize, and inform.

Come for Worship, Not for Entertainment

The last time I attended a musical performance, the people on the stage did not invite me to sing with them. I am the object of the choreography and singing. I am entertained. Not so in the worship of the church. We do not come to worship for entertainment. We come to praise the God of creation and express our thanksgiving to him for all his blessings.

Let our worship be God-focused, not the other way around.

Let’s purge the idea of being a church consumer from our minds. Seek truth.

The Forgotten Sin

I get it. Nobody likes to talk about sin, but sometimes we need to. The turmoil of the 21st century has obscured our view of sin with the result that there is now The Forgotten Sin.

Some sins seem to reach out and grab us by the collar. The in-your-face wickedness makes us angry. But, in our rush to combat the assault of these wicked thoughts and ideas, we have created an unbiblical hierarchy of sins. We spend all of our time talking about the “bad sins” but fail to address the “lesser sins.”

Some years ago, a public health professional told me that the extraordinary emphasis on HIV-AIDS was hiding the serious nature of older sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis and gonorrhea. In her words, we have lost control of syphilis and gonorrhea and will never get it under control again. I wonder if we’re in the same situation with sexual sin.

We know sin separates us from God. But, what sin? Aren’t some sins worse? In Proverbs 6:16-19, Solomon says “hands that shed innocent blood” are an abomination to God. In that very same list, he says that “haughty eyes and a lying tongue” are also abominations to the Lord and are things that the Lord hates. But surely lying isn’t as bad as murder, is it?

Any sinful behavior, no matter how trivial it appears to us, is deadly serious to God.

In our rush to oppose homosexuality, transgenderism, and abortion, we have forgotten “routine” fornication and adultery. In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul begins his list of sins with sexual immorality; it’s right there in the same list with idolatry, sorcery, drunkenness, and orgies. Paul says that people who do these things “will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

What exactly is “sexual immorality?” The underlying word, porneia, is a very broad word in Greek. It speaks to any illicit sexual activity. Sexual intimacies not ordained by God are sinful. This word includes fornication, adultery, and homosexuality. Yet today, our world assumes that people in a dating relationship are, in fact, having sex. Culture’s greatest concern is whether the sex is consensual and whether the couple has used protection against disease or unwanted pregnancies. There is no concern for the sinfulness of such a relationship. The forgotten sin is sexual immorality.

Let me be clear: sex outside of a God-approved marriage is sinful. Hebrews 13:4 says it is the “marriage bed” that is undefiled. Paul calls us to “abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Those words should speak to you, Christian. Let your life be a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1). Your Lord loves you more than you can ever imagine. He wants what is best for you. If we hear his words and abide in his teachings, our life now will be much better. Our lives in eternity will be indescribable.

The world is awash in every imaginable sexual sin. Let the Christian remain pure and holy before his maker.

Are People Good?

Are people good? Are they inherently virtuous? Why does it seem that some people are good and honorable while others are dishonorable and even evil? As expected, there is a Bible answer.


Humanity began in Eden. The Bible tells us that as part of God’s creation week, he created the human species. Most importantly, they were created in his divine image. They were image-bearers of the creator (Genesis 1:27). He told them to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:26-31). It is evident that they obeyed this command, for in Genesis 4, two sons have been born to the first couple. A third son is born at the end of the chapter. By the end of Genesis 5, 10 generations from Adam and Eve are recorded.

On the 6th day of creation, as God prepared to rest from his work, he looked upon the totality of his creation. He declared it “very good” (Genesis 1:31). According to the biblical record, only two humans were alive when God declared the goodness of his creation. There is no evidence of any evil in the world, and there was certainly no sin. This is critical. Mankind was very good when created. Inasmuch as there was no evil in the world, we may conclude that the original couple was pure, sinless, and thus very good.

Unfortunately, something very bad was about to happen in the very good world.

Disaster Strikes

We do not know how long this sinless state continued in Eden, but by the time Adam was 130 years old, sin had entered the world with catastrophic consequences (Genesis 5:3).

A choice was given. Adam and Eve could obey God, or they could disobey. Their choice? Disobedience. God had placed two unique trees in the Garden of Eden: the tree of life of which man could freely eat, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was this last tree that mankind was forbidden even to touch. The presence of those two trees provided a choice for Adam and Eve.

All was well in the garden until Satan entered in the form of a serpent (Genesis 3:1). He immediately questioned God’s authority and even called God a liar. He tempted Eve to eat from the forbidden tree. She surrendered to the temptation, as did her husband, Adam (Genesis 3:6). We must emphasize that neither Adam nor Eve was compelled to eat the forbidden fruit. It was their choice. Because they chose to disobey, they suffered the consequences of their action.

Much of this chapter focuses on the consequences of their sin. Adam must now work harder, Eve will suffer pain in childbearing, the serpent is cursed to crawl upon the ground and eat dust, and Satan will be crushed by one who is yet unborn (Genesis 3:15). But the greatest consequence is not revealed until the end of the chapter. God banished man from the presence of the tree of life (Genesis 3:22-24). On that dark day in the long-ago, man’s spirit died when he was separated from God, and the process of physical death began as well. Because man could no longer eat from the tree of life, his body began to age and break down, leading to physical death.

The horrible aftermath of the sin in Eden is seen in Genesis 4. The very next generation, the son of Adam and Eve, Cain, worships improperly, then rises up against his brother Abel and kills him. Even more deadly violence is recorded in verses 23 and 24. The horrific picture of murderous rage is painted in the boldest of colors immediately after the sin in Eden.

What happened?

There was only one way to sin in the Garden of Eden, and Adam and Eve found it. All the joys and pleasures of a perfect world lay before them. But they threw it all away by succumbing to temptation.

Here is the problem for the modern world: Sin was once contained at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But once touched and consumed, sin was set loose in humanity. The very name of the tree explains its dangerous contagion. It opened their eyes and gave them knowledge of sin, thus making them guilty and subject to punishment (Genesis 3:7). The first parents would then spread the influence of sin to their children, who would spread it to their children, and so forth. Sin spreads when we are influenced to choose wrongly.

Sin is not in our DNA. We are not sinful because some ancient ancestor sinned (Ezekiel 18:20). We are sinful because of our choices. Now the upshot of this argument is that people are inherently good. We become evil when we surrender to evil influence.

The real man, the authentic man, is made in the image of God and is, therefore, very good. When we sully the image of God that we each bear, we become evil. Our goal, achieved through Jesus Christ alone, is to find and reclaim the holiness that once defined God’s creation.

Authenticity calls for a return to the original condition seen in Eden. It is not defined by what our corrupted hearts and minds tell us it is. The dark ruler of this world wants you to find pseudo authenticity in anything but the image of God.

We are like a people swimming in a putrid river of sewage. Our world and our culture are corrupt. Sin is everywhere. We are influenced to sin through others, the media, and especially social media. Like those swimming in the festering river, we must not grow weary and must press to reach the other side. To stop swimming means certain death. To surrender to evil temptation means certain death.

Do not give up but continue to search for the inherently good spirit God has placed in each of us. Yet, none of us are strong enough to reach the other side of that river without God’s help. God’s grace empowers us to reach the other side of the river and to return to the authenticity of an image-bearer of God

Yes, people are good.

There's Got to be a Better Way

There’s Got to be a Better Way

There's Got to be a Better Way

I was sitting on a stone wall in front of the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. I watched the world pass by. Young, old, infants and grandparents, moms and dads. I watched people from Europe, Africa, Central and South America, and, of course, the US. Men and women in high-dollar suits raced between meetings trying to turn one more deal before the month ended. There’s got to be a better way!

You could have been in that crowd.

Solomon said,

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?

Ecclesiastes 1:2, 3

What do we gain? We live, and then we die. There’s got to be a better way. Culture has no answers.

Groucho Marx quipped from his deathbed, “This is no way to live!” He was right. Like mice on a running wheel inside a small cage, we say, this is no way to live.

There’s Got to be a Better Way: The Problem.

1.      Everything is Temporary

We live in a briefly appearing world. We are born, and if extraordinarily fortunate, we will live for a hundred years and then vanish into an unseen world. Within those 100 years, we have maybe 50 years of real productivity. Our total contribution to the world is less than a century. We take our last breath, but the clock keeps on ticking.

James described our life as “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14). From my experience, and probably yours, that is a spot-on observation. There is no permanence to our lives. It’s just a run from one meeting to the next, go home and sleep, and then start again the next day.

Solomon, an extraordinarily wise Israelite king, remarked, “I hated all my toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool” (Ecclesiastes 2:18, 19). Why do we work so hard for things so temporary?

2.    The Future is Dark

As the news drones on and on, we are bombarded with dismal prophecies of failure. Crime is rising, and politicians are powerless to stop it. Test scores are dropping, and educators have no answers. If the experts are clueless, what are we to do?

The Bible tells us that things will get worse. Paul said that “evil people and impostors will go from bad to worse” (2 Timothy 3:13).

If you’re like me, you are afraid to read the headlines. What’s next? Supervillains and Superbugs rule the day! It’s not surprising that people are anxious and afraid. Is this as good as it gets?

3.   There is no satisfaction

Do you like your job? Really, do you get up every day excited about your work? What about your relationships? Do they satisfy? Does the other person “complete” you? Are your children a blessing or a chore?

Lockdowns stopped many of our friendships, and even now, we’ve not found the time to refresh them. We get up, go to work, come home, and crash. We eventually drag our tired bodies to bed, sleep a few hours, then start again. Satisfaction is fleeting. We run like the little hamster on the wheel inside his cage but get nowhere.

There’s Got to be a Better Way: There Is!

1.   Find Real Peace

In a letter to the Philippians (4:7), Paul speaks of a peace that “surpasses all understanding.” When was the last time you enjoyed a few minutes of real peace?  In Jesus, you can have peace that comes from a realignment of your priorities and a changing of your trust model.

The first priority is Jesus and his work. Jesus spoke of worrying about what we acquire and consume in life. His advice is simple and straightforward: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). But, if you make that change in your priorities but do not also change who and what you place your trust in, you will be more anxious than ever!

Trust must be placed in something trustworthy. If we’ve learned anything we have learned that we cannot trust anything. Our leaders shade the truth and often lie to us. Our financial accounts rise and then fall just as quickly. Like a flailing sailor tossed violently in the waves, we need something to cling to. We need something that will not sink in stormy weather. We need someone who is trustworthy. Jesus said:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30)

Would you know the peace that comes from Jesus? Come, learn of him, trust him, and give him your heart. You will not be disappointed.

2.   Untangle the Knot

Have you ever stopped to think about how entangled we are? We cannot say “no” at work because we want to be seen as a team player. We volunteer for projects at our child’s school because we want to be seen as good parents. Our front yard must be pristine because we fear a note from the neighborhood association. And, somewhere along the way, we need to find time for our spouses. There’s just too much going on!

God’s faithful have always struggled. Hear the writers description of some great figures in the Bible:

who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. (Hebrews 11:33-38).

They bore up under struggles and managed to find what was better. The two verses tell us that something better was waiting for them – just like it is waiting for you.

Trust in Jesus will not untie the knot, but it will give you a fresh perspective on the truly important things in life.

Look, there is something better. Life can be better. You can be a part of something that is bigger than yourself but also profoundly meaningful to people around you.

3. Think Outside the Box

Look, I get it. Spiritual things are not viewed well today. The decline of culture and the decline of the reputation of the church mirror one another. I’m not sure which came first. I do know that much of what has passed for “church” is little more than a traveling medicine show. It’s about entertainment – not worship. It’s about pop-level psychology – not holiness. You can almost feel the disconnect between churches and Jesus.

There is no disconnect between Jesus and the church he established and died for. It’s still here and you can be a part of it regardless of your past.

    Culture has failed

    Culture Has Failed. Now What?

    culture has failed this man

    Culture promised so much but delivered nothing. We were told that happiness comes from faster internet, more entertainment options, the sexual revolution, changing pronouns, legalized drugs, more alcohol, more credit, less work, and so on. But despite the promises, we’re still stressed and bubbling with anxiety. Happiness is elusive and, when found, so brief. Like an endless train of zombies stumbling into a dark tunnel, we wander, hoping that fulfillment and satisfaction are just ahead. They’re not. Culture has failed. What now?

    There is a better way.

    1. Don’t trust what doesn’t deliver.

    Promises from cultural, political, and societal leaders haven’t delivered. Your station in life has changed little from where you stood ten years ago. Would you keep the same internet provider if they couldn’t meet their promises? Would you change your cell phone provider if you experienced spotty coverage despite their lovely blue and purple maps?

    Culture is saying that religion is bad, that there is no God, and it’s all a scam. Maybe their thoughts on faith are as useless as a pretty blue map with only a rare gap. It’s time to reconsider.

    2. Consider Jesus.

    Now, wait. Before you click away, read just a little further. The next 60 seconds could be life-changing.

    Jesus is the greatest teacher who ever walked. Initially, I am only asking that you consider his words. For the moment, let’s forget his miracles and his divine claims. Just focus on what he taught.

    In a single lesson (Matthew 5, 6, and 7), Jesus declared the “Golden Rule,” “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them… (Matthew 7:12). He declared the uselessness of worry and anxiety (Matthew 6:25-29) while reminding us to focus on the day, not tomorrow (Matthew 6:34). Jesus declared that we should not only love our neighbors (Matthew 22:39) but even our enemies (Matthew 5:43-47).

    By any measure, these teachings are world-changing! Culture has failed. Try something new.

    3. Focus on Jesus, not His disciples.

    You’ve seen hypocrites. Preachers who are greedy cheaters. Church leaders who are sexual abusers. Double-talking Christians who would embarrass a crusty old sailor. Hypocrites are real, and they are found in the church.

    There is a difference between Jesus and broken Christians.

    Peter, who struggled with his own set of sins, always pointed to Jesus and not to himself.

    “…but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy”

    1 Peter 1:15, 16

    Should you take up the mantle of faith, you will follow Jesus and no one else. And, you will stumble.

    4. Expect from Jesus what culture has failed to deliver.

    Jesus changes our outlook and our thinking. He transforms our minds through his message (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18). We come to know real and abiding peace. We think less about this world and focus on eternity. Your boss, bank, and neighbor become less irritating as you grow deeper in Christ.

    Despite what some money-grubbing preachers will tell you, prosperity is never assured. But that’s ok because our view of money is downgraded. It is no longer a goal but a tool to help others. You will not suddenly become rich. You won’t find “$56,000 in the mail.” But you will find peace and a release from the anxiety vexing you. It’s not instant, but it is real.

    I have one goal with this message. I hope you will turn to Jesus to find what culture failed to deliver.

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    boy in school

    21 Dead in Uvalde

    boy in school

    21 are dead in Uvalde, Texas. 21 people died in a convulsive act of madness. We ask why. Pundits on the news shows recycle the usual explanations and politicians pontificate. All this as 21 coffins are readied for burial.

    While news reports focus on everything from unlocked doors, and assault rifles, to slow response times, there are outlets that are starting to consider the fundamental reasons behind a barbaric attack. The correct understanding of why school shootings occur will also explain why violence and chaos are rising across the land, not just in schools. It’s an answer that some will not like. It will drive them insane, but it is still true.

    Evil is real.

    Raw, festering, bloody evil, is real and stalks humanity. Evil is neither a concept nor a vague idea, it is a real, malevolent being called Satan.

    “…He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

    John 8:44

    Genesis 3 introduces Satan when he encourages Eve to eat from the forbidden tree. He lies. He tells her that she will not die even though God has plainly said otherwise (Genesis 3:1-4). Too late the first couple discovers his lies. They have sinned and they are separated from God. He has banished them from the Garden of Eden and driven from the Tree of Life. They are dead men walking. In the next generation – among their own sons – Cain kills his brother. Satan the liar. Satan the murderer. From that moment our world has been sucked into a vortex of sin, evil, chaos, and lawlessness. Today our culture is upside down. An inverted world where people “call evil good and good evil,” where they put “darkness for light and light for darkness” and “bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20).

    Good is real

    To acknowledge the reality of Satan is to acknowledge the reality of pure goodness and love that is Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Creator. Without a standard of good, there can be no measure of evil. Therein is the problem. Our world wants to be free of evil but rejects good.

    You and I, as individuals or as a community, are powerless against the god of this world. Alone we cannot “fix” the evil thoughts and motives that find their way into people’s hearts. Such powerlessness is why Jesus came into the world. He inflicts the fatal wound on Satan (Genesis 3:15). He brings light into the darkness (John 8:12, 12:46). He leads us in victory (Proverbs 21:31; 1 Corinthians 15:57) and makes us more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). In the end, Satan is the loser (Revelation 20:10). The wicked may reign now, but their time is coming to an end. Satan will be successful in finding some who will blame God for the Uvalde, shootings. Forgive them for comments made in the depths of grief and lamentation, but God is not to blame. Only Satan.

    nothing new under the sun

    Nothing New Under the Sun

    nothing new under the sun

    Solomon said there was “nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). He was right in so many ways. A comparison of 21st century American culture closely resembles ancient biblical days. Recently, I was struck by a story in the Old Testament book of Judges, chapters 17 and 18, which closely mirrors our secular society. I’m sure you can add even more to the analysis.

    Nothing New Under the Sun: A Moral Malaise

    The book of Judges recounts difficult years in the lives of God’s chosen people.

    And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.

    Joshua 2:10

    God rebukes the Israelites, through his angel, in Judges 2:2. The angel says Israel has not obeyed the voice of God. Then in verse 10, we read of a new generation of Israelites who did not know the Lord. Succeeding generations would experience spiritual highs and lows. Eventually, Israel seems to have become more like the surrounding nations than God’s holy people.

    In Judges 17, we read of a family marked by serious moral failings. A man steals from his mother. When he hears that she has uttered a curse against the thief, he returns the money. In her joy, she devotes a portion of the stolen money to the Lord. Sadly, she instructs that the money be used to craft an idol god. Her son creates a shrine to the idol God in his own home and appoints his son to be a priest. Later, a real Levite priest arrives at the man’s home and accepts employment for his room, board, and ten pieces of silver a year. He was comfortable in that home until a raiding party entices him to go with them. The pursuit of money and power drives this so-called priest.

    There is nothing new under the sun. Moral collapse marks our society to such an extent that people no longer think anything of it. Crime within families, confusion of Godly worship with worldly worship, preachers who craft their preaching for the highest bidder confirm a wayward, secularized world. Our world is broken!

    Nothing New Under the Sun: An Estrangement from God

    Israel’s up-again-down-again relationship with God would eventually collapse. Enslavement by pagan nations would barely improve Israel’s dependence on the Lord. By the time of Jesus, the Jewish King was an Idumean. The priesthood rotated among the favored sons of the High Priest. Even the sacred Holy of Holies was empty; the Ark of the Covenant was gone. The religious leaders opposed and killed the prophesied Redeemer.

    This estrangement finally brought an end to Biblical Israel. Roman armies overpowered the Jews in 70 AD and destroyed the last Temple. Judaism, existing from Sinai (Exodus 20) to the time of Christ and beyond, was ended.

    When will our society face its 70 AD? When will judgment fall upon us as it did Israel? One thing is clear: Any nation that forgets God is doomed (Psalm 9:17; 50:22; Jeremiah 18:15). We are not different. Indeed, there is nothing new under the sun.

    Despite being founded on some Godly principles, our culture has drifted from God. But remember that culture, society, and the nation are composed of individuals. We have slogged through sin until we no longer recognize righteousness. Like Israel, we will drift further and further from truth.

    The greater question is how we got here. There are two answers. We have failed to study our Bibles personally, and we have failed to teach the Bible to our children. Until we correct these two deficiencies, we will continue to spiral downward toward destruction.

    Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

    love your neighbor

    For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

    Galatians 5:14

    The heart of Jesus’ message is love. First, we see his love toward us (John 3:16; Romans 5:8 et al). His insistence to his disciples to love your neighbor as yourself is also clear. If we would wear the name Christian, we must learn to love as Jesus did.

    Love Your Neighbor As Yourself May Be Very Hard

    The command, also given in Matthew 19:19, 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Romans 13:9; and James 2:8, is very easy to say but so hard to do.

    First, biblical love is more than a feeling. Feelings come and go, rise and fall but Christlike love is a commitment. Sometimes, as a husband, my wife may not like me. But she always loves me. We made a commitment decades ago to love one another “’til death do us part.” We are committed to one another regardless of some circumstance or trouble. There is a statement in Romans 5:8 that underscores the Lord’s commitment to us.

    but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    Romans 5:8

    This passage is remarkable because it describes true love from God. We love because of him (1 John 4:10, 19) so we should peer deeply into his love so that we might learn to love like him. What do we learn here? We learn that we should love in spite of others! That is, we love the very people who do not and will never love us.

    Christ died for us.

    We were sinners.

    We were enemies in rebellion.

    He still died for us.

    He died for us because he loved the unloveable: Me.

    I would die for my family. I would die for my close friends. Would I die for the person who hates me and tries to do me wrong? Honestly, I hope so but I am not so arrogant to say yes.

    But Jesus did.

    He died for the very people who put him on a cross. Meeting the needs of enemies is biblical love.

    But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

    Matthew 5:44

    For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

    Matthew 5:46, 47

    Love always involves actions and that makes it so hard.

    CHALLENGE: Pick out the person who causes you the most grief, the one who hurts you the most. Do something good for them within the next 7 days.

    Who Are You Listening To?

    Unrighteous church gossipI was studying Psalm 1 this morning and it suddenly hit me. God’s people need a better filter. We need to screen out the empty words of the wicked from our lives. That seems obvious but there is more to it; it has a greater impact than you might think.

    “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the of the wicked…”

    (Psalm 1:1)

    Let’s say it in our way of talking: The blessed man doesn’t listen to the wicked. Would you agree that is an accurate restatement? It is. A man who is blessed by God isn’t guided by the wicked but by the words of God, “his delight is in the law of the Lord” (vs. 2). God’s words or man’s words. Our choice. But it is also our consequence to bear. The blessed man is sustained and preserved by God while the wicked will perish (vss. 5, 6).

    Now, my sudden insight: We are all listening to the wrong people!

    How many radio talks show hosts have “enlightened” you this week? We hop in the car and turn on the radio and there they are, feeding us all the bad news possible. On the internet there are thousands of influencers trying to conform our thoughts into a replica of their opinions.

    Even the evening news programs have blurred the line between facts and opinions and hope to convince us of their way of thinking.

    There are many bloggers, like me, who do the same thing. It seems everyone is trying to conform you to their way of thinking.

    The Bible says be careful of who you listen to.

    Suffering Job was surrounded by friends who tried to convince him that he had failed. Even his wife advised him to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). I’m glad Job rejected her words, aren’t you?

    Jesus rejected the counsel of Peter. The Lord was describing his suffering to his apostles when “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him” (Mark 8:32). Jesus’ response? “Get behind me Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God but on the things of man”         (Mark 8:33). Jesus rejected unsound counsel and so should we.


    Many years ago my wife, Bobbi, and I installed an under sink water filter in our home. The first time changed the filter we were shocked at the filth that had been blocked by the filter. We’ve never been without one since. We must filter the influx of opinion from worldly minded people We must be  more discerning of our chosen news and opinion providers.

    Even more, I insist we spend more time having our thoughts transformed by the word of God.


    “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…”

    (Romans 12:2)



    Searching for Sin

    sinDaddy always told me that I should not look for trouble. He said it would find me if I weren’t careful. But today, I am looking for trouble. Specifically, I am searching for sin. I am not looking to commit sin, but I am curious if sin still exists because, from what I hear lately, it has been eradicated. Like smallpox, society has mounted an effort to destroy sin. Seemingly, the world has been successful.

    Lying is no longer sinful. It is now described as “advertising” or “politics.” Sexual sin is now “an alternative lifestyle” and is presented as one choice among many. Murder is a “woman’s right.” Greed is “success.” Immorality is opinion. Sin is no longer part of the conversation.

    This is troubling because God still speaks of sin. Jesus’ blood still lingers beneath the old rugged cross because of sin. Just because society has banned sin, it does not mean that God’s word has suddenly fallen silent. It has not.

    Sin occurs anytime we violate the glory of God. It happens when we transgress God’s will. We sin when we do not reflect his beauty to the world around us. Defined in such broad terms, it is not surprising that we often sin (Romans 3:23, 1 Corinthians 15:34, 1 John 1:8). When we understand the extraordinary purity of God, we begin to see just how far we miss the mark. We are not God. We are nowhere near the virtue of God. Thankfully, God extended himself to us in Jesus Christ who reconciles us to himself (Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Colossians 1:20-22).

    But how can a man be reconciled when he rejects the very premise of sin?

    Our world wants to be comforted. Society seeks affirmation that all is well. The Bible speaks of people who have “itching ears”  (2 Timothy 3:3-5), who conspire against the good word preached by God’s people (2 Chronicles 24:20-22; Jeremiah 18:18), and who desire soft words of comfort and not condemnation. Sadly, many teachers have bowed to society’s demands and no longer preach truth but instead offer words of ease to a people in need. It is as if a man with undiagnosed cancer visits his physician and is told that all is well. He is comforted all the way to his grave! We ask the world, do you want comfort or truth? Cure or complacency?

    Is there any truth in the world for you?  Can good and evil be distinguished? Where would you draw the line? Does anything go?