Friday, June 17, 2011

Hell: We Can't Afford to Get it Wrong

           Just watch it and think about it.  Francis Chan is one of my new favorites.  Read his books Crazy Love and Forgotten God: they will change your life.  I pray that God will use me even half as much as he uses this man here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Charisma: Good or Bad? How about too much?

            This is a response to an email from a friend.  They had been thinking on the subject, and decided to get some feedback from other people.  This is what I had to say on it. 
            If you have thoughts and a moment of time, I would really appreciate input.  This, I feel, is a very important subject, and I am painfully aware of that fact that I am a fallible human being: more than capable of making mistakes.

Are we talking Charismatic as in belief in, and desire for close encounters with God such as speaking in tongues, miraculous healings, etc.?  Whatever the case, this is where I stand:  Anything that distracts from the true worship and admiration that God is due, regardless of its professed intent, should be checked in, if not removed entirely from, our life.  Let me put it this way:  God desires you; you, your life, your heart, your soul, anything and everything that pertains to you.  While I believe that these things are indeed a glorious part of our faith, and that they are totally legitimate, I also believe that they should never be paramount to simple faith and trust in Jesus Christ.  Such as someone who might have had a genuine divine encounter with God while at a certain place where His presence is strong, but then repeats the same process over and over again because they like the feeling of “closeness” and being “on fire for Jesus” and maybe even revel in the attention and admiration they might get for being so “in tune” with God.  When those things don’t line up with someone’s lifestyle for the other 357 days of the year, it seems that there must be some disconnect, indeed, not on God’s part.  Jesus said that you will know a tree by its fruit.
            Not for any particular reason, but I really don’t use enough scripture in my writing.  So here we go:
            Read the whole first chapter of James.  But here is the premise of what I’m saying:  “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the Word implanted, which is able to save your souls.  But prove yourself doers of the Word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he  like a man who looks at his natural face in the mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.  But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effective doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.  If any man thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.  Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.  (James 1:21~27)  Wow… I was going to say something about that at the end, but that just said it all…  I looked up that verse remembering only the last part, but the more I read, the more I couldn’t leave out of the quote.  Read the whole chapter.
            “Samuel said, ‘Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.’”  (1 Samuel 15;22)
            “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have faith so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”  (1 Corinthians 13:1~3)
            God is the source of love, there is no love apart from Him.  I want to have true and undefiled love for anyone else, we must love Him first above all.
            “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  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.  A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.  Every tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  So you will know a tree by its fruits.  Not everyone who say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the Will of my Father in heaven will enter.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’”  (Matthew 7:15~23)  

            Also read 1 Corinthians 14:1~19. 

            Obviously, there are many, many, many verses that speak to this subject, and I have only scratched the surface of a large subject.  I would challenge you to search the scriptures yourself and see what you find (and let me know!)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Blind Love?

            If you ever listen to Christian music radio, you have probably heard the song “Come Undone” by the Christian pop group FFH.
            I never cared for the song a whole lot: mostly because the lyrics were depressing, pop gets old to me quite fast, and it was (and still is) overplayed to the point of being obnoxious.  However, I never really paid attention to a particular line (or any lines) in the song until I heard a different line from a different song (funny, how my mind works that way…).  The song is quite popular, and that is why I’m choosing to point this out.  I am only addressing this one line (though, not out of context), so I don’t want it to be said that I think that this is the only theological problem with the song.

            Toward the end of the second verse, there’s a line that says “it’s true what they say, that ‘Love must be blind’, that’s why it’s still standing by the sinner’s side…” (The capitalization of “Love” was mine.  I wanted to bring attention to the fact that love in this case is referred to as an entity: i.e. God.)
            As I stated previously, I never dwelt on that statement until hearing another song (and the contrast was so stark that it brought the other lyric to mind quite involuntarily).  Rich Mullins, in the chorus of his song “Both Feet on the Ground” has this to say:  “…I don’t think Love is blind: ‘cause I know that You see me, and yet you still choose to be mine with a love that will stand even when I fall down, I know You’ll pick me up somehow.  And You say that true love is to love with both feet on the ground.”

            Now for the contrast, and why I believe that in this case, Rich Mullins got it right, and the message in FFH’s song can be quite dangerous.

            Classic Bible passage:  “For while we were helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone might dare even to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6~8, emphasis added)
            What do we get from that passage?  God knew exactly who we were.  There was no fooling Him; he had watched us rebel and worship anything and everything but Him from the dawn of creation.  And yet…YET:  He loved us anyway.  Wow…  is that incredible or what? 
            So now we see what a discredit to God’s love it is to say that His love is blind!  Talk about humanizing God!  If His love was truly a love of blindness and ignorance, simply not being in the know as to our true identity, how is that something admirable and deserving of worship? 

            Having recently watched “Pride and Prejudice”, that story is in my head at this moment for an example.  Take Mr. Wickham:  He’s handsome, charming, smart, and every female in the present cast is enamored with him.  We have every earthly reason to like (or “love”) him.  But what happens when we discover who he really is?  We can’t stand him:  he’s venomous, he’s deadly, and we want absolutely nothing to do with him.
            That, my friends, is what we call blind love.  We loved him only because his cunning masquerade had us fooled into believing that he was good.  As one character put it “one has got all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it.”  Clearly, our love for him was not intended to be absolute, because we forsook him at a moments notice.  That’s our love;  Our sinful, selfish, prideful, (prejudiced, ) and unforgiving love.  As soon as it looks as though someone is of no further use to us, we drop the ball and toss around rationalizations to ease our conscience (until even or conscience doesn’t care anymore).  Why is it so hard to look a homeless person in the eye?  What have they ever done to harm us?  Why should it matter?  By they are passed the view of our car, we have either made sufficient excuses to ourselves why not to buy him something to eat and share the gospel with him, or never had the thought to love them like Jesus enter our mind in the first place.  That’s our love.  
God’s love?  Oh, so much greater by far: so much deeper and wider and more powerful than our minds and hearts have the capacity to understand.

God’s love is not blind.  If is was, He would dropped us a long time ago.  I know that I’ve sinned since my salvation seven years ago, and I know that He saw it.
He loves us with open eyes and open arms: with a love that should leave us speechless.

Let’s really think about what God has loved us through.  It’s unbelievable.
When you’re done doing that, ask Him how you can thank Him for it.  It’s worth it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Letter to a Friend


            If your heart is destined never to find Jesus, then I wish you all the happiness that this shadow of a world can offer: for it is the only life you will ever know.  But if you are indeed to become one of God’s children, I pray that your life will be filled with such a void that you are driven by great desire into the arms of Christ.  That, my friend, is a life of fulfillment and joy: a life worth living and dying for.  You are loved.


  “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks will find, and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.  …if you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give what is good to those who ask Him?”  (Matthew 7:7~11)