Monday, December 24, 2018

A Quick Comparison of Legalism vs. the Gospel

I obey; therefore, I’m accepted.
I’m accepted; therefore, I obey.
Motivation is based on fear, punishment, and insecurity.
Motivation is based on a fruitful relationship.
I obey God in order to get things from God.
I obey God because it is within my nature to do so[1].
When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or myself, since I believe, like Job’s friends, that anyone who is good deserves good things a comfortable life.
When circumstances in my life go wrong, I may struggle, but I know that bad things[2] are not from God because He is good[3], and He will work all things together for good in my life.
When I am criticized, I am furious or devastated because it is essential for me to think of myself as a “good person.”  Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs.
When I am criticized, I may struggle, but it is not essential for me to think of myself as a “good person.”  My identity is not built upon my performance, but upon who I am in Christ [4],[5].
My prayer life consists largely of petition and only heats up when I am in need.  My main purpose in prayer is to ask God to control circumstances on my behalf or the behalf of others.
My prayer life consists of praise, adoration, and action on the behalf of others because a primary purpose of my life is to function as a Priest and a King in His kingdom [6],[7].
My self-view swings between one pole and another.  If and when I am living up to His standards, I feel confident – but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to people who fail.  If and when I am not living up to His standards, I feel humble but not confident – I feel like a failure.
My self-view is not based on a view of being a moral achiever.  My self-view is based upon His view of me: redeemed[8], loved[9],[10], accepted[11], conqueror[12].

[1] 2 Cor. 5:17: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

[2] John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

[3] James 1:16-18: Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or [b]shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.

[4] Malachi 3:17: “They will be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “on that day when I publicly recognize them and openly declare them to be My own possession [that is, My very special treasure]. And I will have compassion on them and spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.”

[5] John 10:28-29: and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 [a]My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

[6] Rev. 1:6: and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to [a]His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen

[7] Rev. 5:10: “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

[8] Gal. 3:13: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”

[9] Isaiah 41:10: “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

[10] Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

[11] Romans 8:15: “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!””

[12] Romans 8:35-39: “Who will separate us from the love of [a]Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Monday, September 3, 2018

Plucking the T of TULIP.

Within Calvinism, there is the idea of the TULIP, an acronym that describes the fundamental axioms of Calvinism.

The TULIP was constructed in response Arminianism, which asserts free will across the spectrum of salvation.

The acronym is as follows:

Total Depravity (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin)
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement)
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved)

Total Depravity 

According to the Calvinist Corner, 
The doctrine of Total Depravity is derived from scriptures that reveal human character: Man’s heart is evil (Mark 7:21-23) and sick Jer. 17:9). Man is a slave of sin (Rom. 6:20). He does not seek for God (Rom. 3:10-12). He cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). He is at enmity with God (Eph. 2:15). And, is by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3). The Calvinist asks the question, "In light of the scriptures that declare man’s true nature as being utterly lost and incapable, how is it possible for anyone to choose or desire God?" The answer is, "He cannot. Therefore God must predestine." 
Calvinism also maintains that because of our fallen nature we are born again not by our own will but God’s will (John 1:12-13); God grants that we believe (Phil. 1:29); faith is the work of God (John 6:28-29); God appoints people to believe (Acts 13:48); and God predestines (Eph. 1:1-11; Rom. 8:29; 9:9-23).

Well, that's all-n-good, but like so many other doctrines of men, we pick-n-choose which verses support our perfect ideal and promote those scriptures, all the while ignoring the others that cast doubt or contradiction upon our position.

What has happened here is a failure to consider the whole counsel of God.  In other words, we should also consider other scripture before making this leap of blind faith.  I, therefore, submit the one scripture they have not provided, the single context which plucks the 'T' from its root, and unravels the doctrine of Total Depravity.

Acts 17:22-28 (emphasis mine)

So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.  The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands;  nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;  and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,  that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;  for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’

Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Sabbath

I was recently asked what I think about Sabbath keeping.  While I know what I do regarding the Sabbath, I've never gone through scripture and documented the whys of my behavior.  So that I won't forget, and so you'll have something to refer to later, here are my thoughts on Sabbath keeping.

The Cross Changed Things

One of the harder things to grapple with in the Kingdom is understanding that some things ended at the cross, some things were modified through the cross, and some things didn’t change by the cross.

The 10 commandments were not touched by the cross - they didn’t change.  But the Levitical and the sacrificial system didn’t survive the cross. 

Faith was not touched by the cross, but the temple was changed through the cross: the veil was rent in two, and the temple itself moved from a physical place into us. 

Therefore, when we review or see OT precepts being re-treated in the NT, what we may be seeing is a clarification of the original idea. The Greek word for Sabbath is used 63 times in the NT. But it’s not always translated, rather sometimes interpreted.  In an example, one of the favorite ways King Jimmie’s translators interpreted sabbath was “the first day of the week.” 

If ever you thought there was a verse in the Bible you should just mark out with a Sharpie and re-write it, then Acts 20:7 is at the top of the list. It should actually read, “And upon the first of the Sabbaths …” which is in reference to the seven-week count to Pentecost. The same interpretation is used in 1 Cor. 16:2. 

Liberty in the Sabbath

First, Jesus is Lord over the Sabbath (Matt. 12), which means He transcends the Pharisaical idea of restriction and blesses the Sabbath with liberty: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17). 

Working on the Sabbath is Okay

Secondly, to do good on the sabbath is wholly lawful – whatever that good may be. In an example, our jobs provide blessings and honor to our families, therefore working on the 7th or 1st day of the week is not forbidden, nor is it sin.
But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites, does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the stall and lead him away to water him? And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?"
Notice that Jesus said the best day to heal (to do good), was the Sabbath. (Luke 13:15)

Sabbath is for Man, not Man for the Sabbath

Third, the Sabbath was made for man, to provide him rest from his work, just as God rested. It was not made to bind man to a law so that God could accumulate the goodies for us and count the baddies against us.
Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28)

You are not to Judge one According to the Sabbath

And finally, since the prevailing wisdom was to do no work on the 7th day, Holy Spirit adds clarity to the idea of Sabbath being made for man by reminding us that we’re not to judge others in regards to how they keep the Sabbath (Col. 2:16).
When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us ... Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—  things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. (Col. 2:13-14, 16-17)

Traditions of Men

The prevailing wisdom taught in many of our churches regarding “don’t work on Sunday,” is clearly a tradition of men. They’ll call you a sinner if you don’t rest and go to church on that day, but neither do they have any qualms about making others in the hospitality industry work for them by serving them meals while they complain about the food, the service, and ungraciously don't leave tips.

In Summary

The most important thing to remember about the Sabbath is to recognize that rest was designed for us by God. He intends for us to rest. Without vacations, periods of rest and relaxation, we will burn out, get sick, develop heart disease – or worse.

But we must also remember that doing good on the 7th day, is not a sin. Neither do should we force ourselves to be bound to the 7th (Saturday) – Sunday usually works better for me.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

How Jesus Heals Depression

Depression sucks.  It really does.  I'm one of those people that believes the average never-been-depressed-person doesn't have a clue as to what real depression is actually like.  So I'm going to peel back some of the layers and let you have a peek.  If you want to understand, then turn on your empathizer, because otherwise, you'll have a difficult time getting close to understanding.

Please know that I'm not suggesting people don't care, or don't want to understand - but for the average non-depressed person, it's like asking men to empathize with childbirth.  As men, we can live through it with our wives, but we have no clue what-so-ever what it's actually like.


In this blog, I'm going to provide some definitions that help people understand what depression is and what it is not.  I'm going to reveal the root causes of depression and touch on some practical steps you can take to eliminate those roots.

Finally, I will explain how to engage with Jesus to allow Him to heal your emotional wounds.  In a future blog, I'll discuss the authority, or perhaps the justification, for this healing. 

What Depression is Not

Depression is not a minor discouragement, nor is it a hardship to be endured. Depression is not caused by the obfuscation of Jesus, our hope. Depression does not arrive because you didn't get what you wanted or because something unpleasant happened, and you're now sad.

A depressed person may not readily show you their innermost condition.  They may interact seemingly well in your presence or appear well adjusted.  They can hold jobs, function well in society, and participate in activities.  You'll never know that internally, they're on the brink of despondency.  You'll never know that their aversion to drugs and weaponry is just a cover to keeping themselves safe from self-harm.

A Proper Definition

Years ago, I went to a physician, our Family M.D.  I told him I was depressed.  He asked how I felt. I told him I was despondent. He replied, "well, that's a pretty strong word, don't you think?"  I'm not kidding. Apparently, I wasn't permitted to feel despondent in his worldview of depression.


Despondency is defined as a state of feeling profound hopelessness, dejection, discouragement, and gloom. People who are very depressed are despondent: they are in such a condition that every fiber of their being hurts; they live with an aching headache every day; they generally find relief only when sleeping and they look forward to the morning when their head isn't aching, and their soul isn't breaking.

Some of these may have suicidal ideations.  The strong ones never go down that path - they somehow learn to live with the pain or find a way out.  The less fortunate succumb to the battle, opting for the ultimate, permanent solution.


Hopelessness is a big part of depression.  People with no hope are unable to see past their current state.  They cannot imagine a life any better than what they're currently experiencing - even when Jesus plays a significant role in their life.  In their world, there is nothing that can pull them out of the pain, out of the pressure or away from their circumstances.  Their state of being is such that they cannot move towards a better state - they can't even grasp onto a rope of change dangled in their midst.


In order to understand discouragement, let's define encouragement and take the inverse.

Encouragement is a form of joy.  It is derived from the knowledge or expectation that something unappealing will be reversed, or turned to good in some way.  Encouragement enables determination and confidence, which breeds hopefulness.  Encouragement helps lay a foundation to build a path to better outcomes.

Discouragement is the opposite of all of that.  The depressed person can see nothing that is appealing in their future, they believe no good is likely to happen.  They see nothing that can move them from their position of pain to a better place, they have no hope for their future.  The longer they stay depressed, the less likely they are to do something - anything - to help themselves out of the miry clay in which they're stuck.


Dejection is that state of being in which we feel alienated from those around us as if we're somehow less than they are, less capable, less worthy, more broken.


Gloom generally colors the world in which the depressed person lives.  Almost all things in the depressed persons' world are tainted with one or more of the qualities I've described.  If you were to assign a color to the world of a depressed person, it would be grey.  No shadows, no definition - just a muddled life without clarity or useful form.

The Root Cause

A person much more learned than myself, a therapist who held a Ph.D. in psychology, told me that the root causes of depression were unresolved fear, anger, and loss.  When she suggested that I was perhaps the angriest person she had ever met, I vehemently dismissed her assessment.  But it was something I couldn't let go of.  As I wrestled with her evaluation, I discovered that she was right: I had a lot of unresolved pain that was surfacing as anger.  And, as most of us know, many times, depression is simply anger turned inward.

Escaping Depression

I'm completely and utterly free of the bondage of depression, and I have been for many years. I believe that there are people whom Jesus has completely healed of depression in one fell swoop. And others like me have traveled a road of discovery. Since I've learned how to address depression when it tries to creep up the walls of my prosperity (3 John 1:2-3), I will enumerate for you the tools I've learned to use to address the problem.

Knowing the Truth

The first thing provided to me by God was John 8:32: "ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free" (John 8:32).  Recall that my Ph.D. therapist suggested that the root cause of depression is unresolved anger, loss, and fear.  Your first job is to acknowledge your held anger and fears.  You must admit your losses and face them.  The bottom line is that you must want to change.  Perhaps you're like the father who cried, "help my unbelief."  You may need to cry out, "help me to want to change..."

Trust in the Lord

I almost don't want to go here, only because some people believe just seeing the "preciousness of Jesus" will make the clouds of depression float away.  I don't have much respect for that philosophy, nor their pundits.  Depression is not about the absence of comprehension of how precious Jesus, God, or Holy Spirit is to any given person.  It's far more complex.

The root cause of depression, aside from some physical ailment, is entirely about your belief systems.

As someone who lived with depression from a very, very young age and then well into adulthood, I will assert you need to understand this: God has a mental health plan, and He has an account with your name on it.  He's ready for you to go to Dr. Jesus and receive some services.

And as I suggested in previous blogs, depression is all about what you're focused on, what you believe, and what you give power to.

Resisting the Devil

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.  (2 Cor 10:3-6)
The battle for victory over depression is waged in our mind (through choice) and in our spirit, through the finished work of Jesus.  Through divinely powerful weapons enabled through Holy, creative imaginations, we destroy fortresses established in our thinking patterns: we destroy speculations, and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God; we take all thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.

You will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32), doesn't mean you acknowledge fears, loss, and anger as active entities that affect you, it means you understand where they come from, you recognize the lies of the devil that enable their fortresses to have power over you.

The Steadfast Mind

There is one verse in scripture that clearly lays down where our depression has its roots, and how to overcome its debilitating effects over us.  Some people will not like this scripture because it's too easy; perhaps it seems to make light of the issues at hand.  

For a genuinely despondent person, I understand entirely.  Been there, done that.  

But if you will find and obliterate your fear through His strength, if you will use this scripture in conjunction with destroying strongholds, you will overcome depression:
The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.  (Isa 26:3)
This steadfast mind is focused on the provision God has already provided for you.  It activates faith in His goodness and provision for you.

Emotional Healing for Depression and Emotional Wounds

I learned some of this technique by myself years ago, and what I learned was later augmented by someone else who understands emotional healing, Praying Medic.  This process he discovered, is outlined below.

Emotional healing is an extremely powerful and functional practice - not because the formula is powerful in itself, but because of who is doing the work: Jesus.  You will find that for some of the things you take to Jesus in the process, the wounds will be so completely healed, that you may forget what it was that Jesus healed - your sins removed as far as the east is from the west (Psalms 103:12)

Trigger Alert

In this process, you will identify a situation, that when you recall it, will bring to the surface a negative emotion.  The point of this process is to trigger the negative emotion so that Jesus can heal it.  Therefore, I recommend you start with something manageable.

This is a Process

It is highly likely that you will find this to be a process that removes layers of protection you built up over the years - like an onion of despair.   Once you've progressed through one phase, pause and rest for a moment before you begin again.

The Emotional Healing Process

Speak these things aloud. Recall that whenever Jesus performed healing, He spoke aloud against the infirmity.
Have faith in God.  Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him (Mark 11:22-23)
  1. Identify a painful emotion associated with a particular event.
    •  If the emotion is sinful, ask God to forgive you and receive his forgiveness.  It is good to remind yourself of forgiveness principles, such as 1 John 1:9
    • Say that you believe His blood has taken away the penalty and consequences of your sin.
    •  If it is not sinful, go to the next step.
  2. Tell Jesus you want the emotion removed from your soul. 
  3. Ask Jesus to heal the wound in your soul caused by the emotion.  
  4. Tell Jesus you receive His healing. 
    • If the emotion is there because you believed a lie about that situation, ask Jesus to show you the truth about the situation.
  5. An optional step is to ask Jesus to give you something positive to replace the negative emotion that He is removing. 
    • If you ask Him to take away sadness, you might ask Him to give you joy. 
    • If you ask Him to take away anger, you might ask Him to give you peace.
  6. Rest for a moment, ask for His presence to come and rest in Him.
  7. Recall the situation that caused the painful emotion.
    • If there is a new negative emotion, begin again at Step 1.


When I was very young, I was molested/assaulted by an older man.  After my memory of the event resurfaced, my emotional healing process progressed something like this:
  • Jesus, I feel anger towards that person.  I don't want to feel this anger anymore.  Please take this anger from me, and heal the wound in my soul; I receive your healing.  Please give me peace in place of this anger.
Once I was done with this process, I paused for a moment and then recalled the event.  I observed that I then felt a different emotion and went through the process again.  After several iterations (I don't remember how many, or the emotions other than anger), I was completely healed of assault against me.  It's now like a distant memory to me, as if it were something written about me, not something that happened to me.

I should also mention that before I learned this emotional healing process, I had thoroughly used Neil Anderson's Victory Over Darkness and Bondage Breaker.  These are excellent books and thoroughly instruct and guide you on how to forgive and reconcile.  My opinion is that these books help you immensely, but they don't always result in helping you heal the resulting wounds.


A Disclaimer

I would like for you to understand that I am in no way associated with the medical or physiological profession.

I do not claim to treat or diagnose any disease or illness, neither do I offer the information included in this blog as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. My ideas and expressions thereof are for personal consideration and evaluation only.

I also do not take responsibility for any individual’s disease or illness nor am I responsible for their healing. I offer no guarantee that anyone will be healed or that any disease or illness will be prevented.

I do, however, believe that we are spiritual beings who have a soul and live in a body according to 1 Thessalonians 5:23.  I also believe that most problems that manifest in the soul and body have a spiritual root. 

But most importantly, I believe that Jesus paid the price for our healing (Isaiah 53:4-5, 1 Peter 2:24; 1 Corinthians 1:18; Revelation 12:11) and it is by only the power of God, through the blood of Jesus's cross, that we have provision, prosperity, and victory over anything that opposes us or affects us.

I believe God heals today because He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Depression: What Not To Say

Over the years I've read a number of sermons and quotes of well-meaning people trying their best to explain away depression, or at least trying to provide some kind of a relief - if not more for themselves than for anyone else.
W.A. Criswell said
when we take our eyes off God we experience "the black gall, the black bile ... an affliction of all mankind, and all of us fall into it. It is a universal experience. We are blue sometimes, we are discouraged sometimes, we are down sometimes; we fall into hopelessness and helplessness.
John Piper said,
All discouragement and depression is related to the obscuring of our hope, and we need to get those clouds out of the way and fight like crazy to see clearly how precious Christ is.
Apparently, Piper is a Criswell fan.

John Stott said
a "Christian's freedom from anxiety is not due to some guaranteed freedom from trouble, but to the folly of worry and especially to the confidence that God is our Father, that even permitted suffering is within the orbit of His care."  
That's actually the more difficult of the three quotes to parse.  But he seems to be saying that if you're depressed, then suck it up buttercup: your suffering is within God's sovereign design for you.

I would dare say that none of these men have actually ever been under the oppression of depression.  Not once, not ever.

They've never lived with daily suicidal ideations.  They never looked out from the 10th floor, wishing the window wasn't permanently locked.  They've never fought against the frequent curiosity of what it would be like to slip into the oncoming traffic or pass through the guardrail down the mountain.  They've never walked across that bridge and actually tried to take their own life, nor have they even stepped on the first creaking board of that so ever-friendly viaduct.

What Not To Say

First, don't say any of the things that Criswell, Piper or Stott said.  They don't have a clue, and your friend will more likely be offended, rather than encouraged.

Don't say, "I understand how you feel," if you've never actually been tormented with suicidal ideation; if you've never slept hours on end to make the pain go away; if you've never been able to keep up with your family at the park because you hurt so immensely throughout your head and body.  You don't know what it's like, so own it and don't try to pretend you do.

Don't say, "it's going to be okay, you'll see."  Truly depressed people are not just blue, down in the dumps or kinda sad.  They're despondent.  They're at the brink of collapse.  They're looking for something to distract them from the torment, something that can take the pain away for a few minutes and provide a brief respite.

Don't force them to do "fun things."  What's fun for you is probably not fun for them.  That's actually a clue: they don't want to participate in life with you or anyone else.

Don't give them your number and say, "call me if you want to talk."  First, they don't want to talk to you about their problems: that's just a forced re-hashing of the pain they're trying to escape.  Secondly, that's just a cop-out on your part.  You already know something is wrong, and you've just tipped your hand.  This means your depressed friend knows you're just avoiding the situation, and in doing so, you've revalidated their despondency.

What To Do

Introduce them to professional help. Some Psychiatrists do have limited success in dealing with depression. None of my Psychiatrists ever did, but I've heard that it's happened.

Introduce them to Jesus. For the average Christian, this is actually the hardest thing for them to do (even if the depressed person is a Christian): most believers don't have a clue as to how to be the Body of Christ and administer the promises of Isaiah 53. Most Christians fall squarely within the declaration of verse 1: Who hath believed our report?  They read Isaiah 53 and chalk it off to fable or some fantasy that can never be achieved on this side of the grave.

The Next Steps

I'm going to follow up within the next week or two and actually give you practical, Biblical guidance on how to help someone recover from emotional trauma - the kind of thing that leads to depression.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Understanding Your Actions

It's strange how that's all twisted around, no? As if our actions are not governed by our beliefs.  But why should we be surprised?  Have our churches not authoritatively taught us from the word of God that we're "just sinners saved by grace?"  

Have these same people never read
Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, or desire his delicacies; for as he thinks within himself, so he is.  He says to you, “Eat and drink!”  But his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten, and waste your compliments. (Prov. 23:6-8)
Maybe that's just too deep for the average pastoral teacher; for perhaps when Jesus said,

Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.  Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops (Luke 12:1-3) ...
such people didn't make the bread and leaven connection?  Do they not understand that it is not God waiting for the right opportunity to expose our sin, but it is our actions driven by our belief systems that will be heard in the light and proclaimed on the housetops?

A belief may indeed be reflective of a reasonably valid conviction and perhaps even truth, but a belief or conviction that does not govern your behavior is one of the purest examples of hypocrisy: it is a fantasy only to be trotted out when necessary to persuade others of a moral fortitude. 

If you want to understand your belief systems, if you want to know what is at the core of your being, then look at your behaviors, and look at your thought patterns, look at the private sins you confess that no one knows about, look at the disparaging remarks you make of others whom you disagree with - especially those done in jest.  Delve into those things and you will find the lies you confer as truth (John 8:34-38).

In other words, if your actions smell of evil, its because your belief systems do too.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Convincing Your Friends Otherwise

I've tried. I've talked. I've prayed. I've debated. I've used carefully constructed logical arguments, all based on scripture. But to no avail.

Some of my friends are still Cessationists, Dispensationalists, non-believers or what-evers. So what gives? How do you convince someone of an alternative understanding - one you've worked through and are certain is the truth?

You don't. And I would suggest that you take that to heart. If not for any other reason, because Paul didn't win souls or change hearts through a debate.  And if that's not enough, then you've got to accept the fact that God has got this one. He's a big boy and can handle the situation.
I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (1 Cor. 2:3-5)
Remember that faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the word of God (Rom. 10:17).  And before you go down the wrong path, don't even begin to think that going to church and hearing a sermon, or even better - reading scripture - is hearing the word of God: because it's not.

Faith - Yielding and Experience

The next problem you have to tackle is that faith rests upon two things: yielding, and experience.  Ya, it does.  When it rests upon these things, it becomes the foundation of a testimony: faith is the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1).  Evidence is derived from an experience, and only from an experience can a testimony be given.

Any serious scriptural study of faith will reveal that faith is founded upon the confluence of two things: belief and trust.  Belief is reasoned, and trust is gained through interaction or experience.  I may easily believe that you can mow my lawn because you have a lawnmower and you've said you'll do the job.  But I may not trust that you will mow my lawn because you never have done so when you've said you would in the past.

Contrarywise, I may trust your word about mowing my lawn because you have always been trustworthy in the past, but I will doubt your ability to do so because you do not own a lawnmower.  In both instances, I lack faith in your ability to follow through and actually mow my lawn.  This is an example of what I call "natural faith."

Hence, one has an experience with God, reasons through the word God has given, and because of those two things working together, one can yield to God in faith when the next mountain presents itself.  Catch that bit about yielding: faith is not conjured up, it is not an intellectual effort, it is a heart effort:
But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. (2 Cor. 3:16)
 The word "turns" means to revert back, to return - to yield.

And the Point?

The point is this: we must learn to function in society as Jesus functioned in His society.  People need an experience with God, they need a spoken word (logos, an idea) that prunes their heart:
... every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.  You are already clean {pruned} because of the word which I have spoken to you ...  If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. (John 15:2-8)
Just as Moses experienced the burning bush and turned (Exo. 3:3) and then God spoke, so people need an experience with God, a spoken word from Jesus that prunes them.  Paul described this same truth to the Corinthians in the idea around prophecy:
But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you. (1 Cor. 14:24-25)
So then: when one has actually heard in their heart the spoken word of God (Rom. 10:17) one is pruned, or cleansed (John 15:2-8).  Thus prophecy (1 Cor. 14:24-25) is a medium that enables one to hear God's word in their heart resulting in cleansing (pruning).

Therefore, in the end, we need to learn how to walk in this truth:
These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. (Mark 16:17-18)
The point is not to logically convince anyone of the truth - because none of us have the whole truth (amazingly, God is cool with that).  Your job is to bring people into relationship with God, with the Son Jesus.  And for those who already have a relationship, your job is to plant seed or to water the seed already there, because it is God who causes the growth (1 Cor. 3:7)  Who here knows that in order to make vines grow well and produce fruit, they must be pruned?

A Better Way

If Paul refused apologetics as a viable tool to win souls, then perhaps we should too.  Once a person has received a personal touch from God, they then must deal with that experience.  They either must reject the experience - and reject God too - or accept what has happened to them and yield to Jesus.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Do the Commandments

The typical mainstream denominational church doesn't have a clue how to make a disciple. Jesus never said, "teaching them to learn the doctrines I have taught you," - which is the best such a church has ever done.

The typical church first makes one into a non-empirical learner (lacking experience), then they teach them how to pass a written driving exam. 

As good a learner, you can eloquently pontificate about what you're supposed to do while driving a car, and even pretend you're doing it.

But what you're lacking is experience: you've never been taught how to obey or perform the commandments of driving a real car - you've never sat behind a wheel and turned it on, let alone driven it down a street. You can't accelerate, park, stop, change gears, or safely navigate through a dangerous intersection or situation.

"... teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."

If you want to follow the great commission, if you want to be a disciple, go first to the commandments of things to do: Matt. 10, Mark 6, Luke 9 - and then keep them as they are, attending to and doing the commandments as the disciples of the Jesus would have understood within the context of their life experience with Jesus.