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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Modern Peer Pressure

I often hear parents and adults talking about how “tough” or “hard” it is to stand for holiness and truth in this day when so many others live differently.  The entire culture and world points another way.

To make matters worse, even some in our own churches are choosing to live more worldly lives and this put even more pressure on our children.  Christian “leaders” do the same.  What is a family to do?

Friends, standing for Jesus, living in holiness, and taking higher ground will ALWAYS be rejected by the masses and even religious leaders.  That is a promise from Jesus!  This is not new.

If our children, young people and even adults cannot live contrary to a little American peer pressure, how in the world would we stand in the face of torture or stand against serious persecution.  Christian parents used to think it was a privilege to stand alone for Jesus.  It is said that one day William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, was out preaching in the streets and the angry crowd spit on his children.  As one faithful SA worker saw the spittle land on the one of Booth’s children, he went to wipe it off.  Booth jumped in and said no, leave it … let them wear it as a badge of honor!

Today we think such a view would harm the emotional well being of our children but Booth’s children went on to walk with God!  Oh friends, our Lord is so gracious that He gives us all kinds of opportunities to build our spiritual muscles and stand for Him.  Let us enjoy doing so for the glory of Jesus and teach our children to love doing so as well!!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Casual Church

Casual Church - We live in a day when EVERYTHING is more causal!  Today, suits for businessmen are almost gone.  People get married in jeans and go to funerals in t-shirts.  Just thirty to forty years ago in our culture people “dressed up” to go shopping or travel.  Now, when you fly on a airliner you might sit next to someone in their pajamas.  

This trend has effected the Church of Jesus Christ. “Churches” everywhere advertise, COME AS YOU ARE.  The whole approach is to appeal to that which is comfortable and causal.  As a matter of fact, many in the evangelical world today see this causal trend as "more spiritual".  Those who still believe in "dressing up" to go to church are old-timers caught in religiosity.  

Please understand, I am not picking on those who wear flip flops, but think of this friends … forty years ago, the only people on planet earth who wore flip flops were those using them as “shower shoes” or third world tribes.  Then, the became popular beach wear. Now, they are everywhere!

But beloved, this trend toward the causal and love for all things comfortable has gone well beyond tour attire. It effects virtually every aspect of our lives.  Think of it, the tend toward that which is causal is really a symptom of increasing carelessness. By that I mean, caring less about things or a lack of seriousness.  After all, why do we need to dress up?  Its not that big of a deal. That is really not NEEDED.  Who cares?  

Think of trends in churches today.  Now keep in mind, I grew up just a few decades ago attending a Catholic church.  In that church, EVERY man wore a coat and tie. EVERY woman wore a fancy dress and most wore nice hats.  When you walked in, before taking your seat, you knelt and made the sign of the cross in reverence to God.  You were expected to remain silent in church unless being asked for a response so that you did not interrupt the reverence of worship or someone who might be in prayer.  When talking to another, you were expected to whisper.  When the priest came in, EVERYONE stood, etc.

Compare that to where we are today.  Now in our circles, I LOVE the fact that we openly fellowship with others in church before and after the service beings.  But consider the fact that it is common for many in our church to stay in the foyer and talk even after the service has begun and has gone on for some time.

Consider how comfortable we are coming into service late, leaving early, talking to others during the service, coming in and out, missing services when it is not convenient, etc.  In my church it is even common for folks to enter carrying their coffee cup into the service and leaving service in the middle to go get more coffee.   We have speakers throughout the church for those in other rooms to listen to the service.  I have known of some who would turn the speakers down so that what is going on in the service does not disrupt their conversation.  

And yes, consider our attire.  How do people dress for worship today?  What is the primary goal of our attire?  Is our objective to please God or get the attention of another or to simply "wear what we like and want"?  

Does all of this speak of reverence and seriousness about the things of God or personal comfort and preference?  Does this speak of careFULLness or careLESSness?

Beloved, this is NOT intended to be a criticism for I am guilty of some of these things too. It is intended to be an encouragement toward personal inspection of our heart attitude toward the congregational worship of Almighty God and our role and character as a church.  Oh that we might once again fall in love with Christ and seek to please Him above all else. In like manner, I pray that we might also revere and worship our Holy God and give Him due honor in ALL we do ... let alone the singular act of CONGREGATIONAL WORSHIP to Him.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Last week in the Adirondack mountains of New York State, while serving there, some of my dear Christian brothers were discussing and sharing with me this term “magic pill”.  It is one they ascribed to the passages in the Holy Bible that many like to believe are just that … magic pills.  These are Bible verses the popular mega-church pastors and tel-evangelists like to throw around.  These are they kinds of verses in which many modern believers like to place their hope.

For example, Jeremiah 29:11 is a favorite.  One of our brothers led a wonderful team devotional time in this passage.  God says “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”  What is not to love?

Here God says to His chosen people Israel that He has plans for them and these plans are those of peace.  He has a goal for them and He is going to work that out and does not want evil for them.  And, in our modern day of Israel-replacement theology, many preachers tell us that this verse is ours for the claiming.

Well, we might want to slow down just a second.  Good Bible students study IN CONTEXT.  What is the context of that passage?  Here in Jeremiah 29, God’s people are being punished for their disobedience of turning their heart from God.  (The mega-church preachers don’t like this kind of truth.)  They are being led away captive into a heathen land.  They were treated mercilessly in a way that makes modern ISIS look not so bad.

And, the same God who speaks in verse 11 says in verse 4 that He has caused this to happen to His beloved chosen people!  He goes onto tell them that they will live in this captivity for 70 years.  And in that 70 years, the people of God are to buy homes, marry, have children and plant gardens (verse 5).   And in verse 7 they are told to live in peace with this heathen land in which they are captive.  The message here is one that they should be content and realize this is the will of God and it will not change for 70 years.

I wonder how the modern American believers would respond if God told this to us.  If the “live free or die” crowd was told by the Almighty that they were going to been taken over and live as captives or slaves for 70 years, would they still worship and praise the goodness of their God?

Then in verse 10, God says after all 70 years are complete, THEN I will live out verse 11 with you and through you.  So, many in the modern Western world claim verse 11 as a permanent stance of God and will for their lives when the very context of that passage says the opposite.

This ‘favorite’ verse was given by God to comfort a people which He was punishing for 70 years. It was given as hope for them to know that this too shall pass. The Sovereign God of heaven was still in charge.  Although many would die in captivity, their children and children’s children were still going to be blessed of God. 

But let me ask you, what kind of Bible teacher or preacher takes this text completely out of context and gives it to an American culture which has turned from God and uses it to convince this land that we should expect a blessing rather than judgment?  Are we more special to God than Israel?  Do we deserve better than they?  

This kind of judgement happened over and over again with Israel and each time, the way out was humility, brokeness, confession of sin and repentance form sin (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Listen friends, inspirational speakers are one thing, but men who claim to be ministers of the God’s Word and carelessly throw the Holy Word of God around  to give false hope and gain more followers are not good men. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Raising Children Addiction-Free

I have written much about, and will be writing more in the days to come, on this subject.  But today, I want to take a different perspective.  Bible believing parents desire to raise children who steer clear of addiction.  I spend much time in my ministry teaching and training the kinds of disciplines and qualities that are needed in a life to see it prosper in freedom and liberty, and escape the temptations that face our world today.

For many years now, I have been working with the largest Bible-based, Christ-centered, addiction recovery ministry in the world.  RU is a wonderful adult-discipleship program which deals with the roots of addiction rather than emphasizing the fruits of addiction.  RU has a weekly chapter meeting component which uses a self-paced curriculum for the functioning addicts.  For the non-functioning addict or those with more serious needs, they have resident programs in Rockford, Illinois.  This program is usually a six month stay.

I tell you all that to explain something about raising children to be addiction-free.  Most who struggle with addiction and end-up leaving or quitting the RU program in Rockford, from my experience, do so for one very simple reason.  They cannot stand someone telling them what to do or establishing rules for their life, with which they do not like or agree.  And of course, when you talk to them as they are heading out the door, they tell me "you do not understand."

As I thought about this,  I must admit, I do not understand the struggles of being addicted to such powerful substances. I do not understand having such a terrible upbringing as some tend to have.  I do not understand a life where one has never learned any coping skills or has no real support system.  I do not understand spending ten to twenty years learning nothing but terrible habits.

But this caused me to think of something else.  Although RU does not have nearly the amount of rules some tend to say they do, I DO understand being in a place where there are more rules than you can shake a stick at.  Although RU does have quality leadership who are trying to bring things into your life to allow the Lord to do a deep and lasting work, I know what it is to be in programs where the leadership is treating you like trash and doing everything they can to make you quit!  Although RU is doing all they can to build you up, I know what it is to have leadership trying their dead-level best to crush you.

What I do not understand is how hard it must be to face all of this while coming off of very powerful addictive substances at the same time!

But considering the fact that I understand the reasons for the rules at RU and frankly support them, I honestly believe that spending six months there, for me, would be a joy rather than difficulty.  But let me ask this, how about you or your children?  How would your children do at RU for six months? How would they handle the rules?   How would they handle hovering leadership bringing strict accountability to every facet of life?  How would they handle being told what to do, when to do it, how to do it, etc.?  How would they handle facing this in the middle of a student population which might be filled with addicts who are struggling, complaining, scorning and criticizing?  How would they face all of this ... even having had the relatively wonderful upbringing they have experienced?

You see parents, if we desire to raise children who live addiction free, we at least need to build into them the character qualities and strength needed to complete an addiction recovery program!  It is so easy for the "non-addicted" to look down on those who struggle for years and cannot seem to finish a program or stay clean when so much help is being offered to them.  But frankly dear ones, many who name the name of Jesus and even attend good Bible-believing churches would not last one week in an RU Recovery Home even though they themselves are not dealing with the ravages of addiction recovery.  No, I know many believers who demonstrate regularly a dislike for authority, a resistance to rules, and an entitlement mind-set that has firmly determined how they will and will not be treated.

My friends, the Lord Jesus set us free to live victoriously even when facing the most challenging, difficult, heartbreaking difficulties of life.  When we modern believers are thrown off track and sidelined by relatively small and insignificant difficulties, we make a mockery of the life-changing, soul-saving, bondage-delivering power of the Blood of Christ.

(One last thought, if you yourself have trouble with the concept of "rules" please read my last blog on the Ugliness of Licentiousness.)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Ugliness of Licentiousness

The Bible says that in the "last days perilous times shall come" men, humans, shall be "lovers of their own selves" (2 Tim. 3:3).

As a side note, it also says of these same ones that they will be "covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God". And watch this ... they will still LOOK GOOD to others. The Apostle says they will have a "form of godliness" but they will not have genuine spiritual power ("but denying the power thereof") Lastly, believers are instructed how to interact with these ones, it says "from such turn away." God takes this kind of artificiality very seriously.

But I digress ... back to being lovers of self ... one of the characteristics of this kind of narcissism is, is that people will be more 'in love' with their own rights than the hearts, souls, minds, well being and lives of others. My Bible calls this "license" or "licentiousness". This speaks of a sense of license or entitlement.
Galatians warns against using the GRACE of God (the gift of God, the freedom and liberty that God gives) as means of license. The Bible makes it clear, in 1 Cor. 6 & 10, that "all things are lawful" but not all things are "expedient" or "appropriate" or "fitting". In other words, this discussion is NOT about law. It is not about rules. It is about LOVE and it is about privilege. This is not about what I "have to do" for God but what about (by God's unbelievable grace) I GET to do for God.

Me friend, Dr. Rick Flanders just wrote a helpful article on this matter of "standards" and the mess some, who name the name of Jesus, get into arguing about this. (You can get a copy by emailing him at Another article I read this week addresses this issue from the perspective of drinking alcohol @ (I do not agree with every word of this article but the point is well done and clear.)
You see, the same crowd which is often yelling against rules tends to tell us that the Christian life is all about love. The funny (or sad) thing is that in this, they are very UNloving. You see, their view of love is often more a sense of self-love than a love for God and a love for others. This is seen by their constant defense of doing what they want, when they want and how they want. It is seen through their constant attack on anyone or anything which they perceive as limiting them in any way. It is seen in their belittle of the Scriptures by demanding single proof texts from those who teach the holiness of the Bible.

Thank God for our freedom and liberty in grace! But friends, this is not freedom to do as want. For, we were able to do that while we were under the bondage of sin! Jesus did not save us to keep us there. He 'delivered' us! He freed us from that kind of self-bondage and set us free to live as we never could have lived in sin or in the 'old man'. He freed us so that we would live in grace. We now, through the wonderful power of the amazing Holy Spirit, have the super-natual ability to live in a whole new way, on a whole new level. We can now do what we never could have done before. We can love others more than our own selves. We can actually care more about them than ourselves. We can make NO provision for the flesh. We CAN die to self. We CAN now joyfully live as "bond slaves" to Jesus. We CAN willingly become a "living sacrifice" unto Him as our "reasonable service".

The truth is that THIS is NOT the kind of 'freedom' that many who claim Christ desire. No, they like many in the New Testament, were attracted to Jesus by a self-centered so-called 'gospel' message. The chose Christ because of what He could do for them and they have never experienced the deliverance and freedom of being born-again.
Oh that they church of Christ might cut the cord of connection to the 'old man' and the worldly, fleshly, limited living by which we were once help captive. Oh that we might "mount up with wings of Eagles" and soar in the way that Jesus made possible. To see this reality we must "reckon ourselves dead indeed to the flesh" relinquishing our perceived rights of flesh for the real rights of the Spirit.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Bruce Jenner, Vanity Fair and Transgenderism

I cannot and will not sit silent on this issue.  By the grace of God, and with absolute admission of my limited ability to communicate these truths, I must try to share some thoughts with my brothers and sisters in Christ and anyone else who has ears to hear.

Beloved, our nation and culture is deep trouble!  We know this.  But, if the remnant church of Jesus Christ which knows and loves Almighty God does not speak up and do what needs to be done, than I do not believe anyone else will.

1.  We must remember that Jesus Christ came to save and redeem the entire world and set the captives free.  The Word of God says that He is not willing that any should perish.  And, He calls and commands us to love others as He has loved us; with the same quality, dynamic, extent and power of love - regardless of our own personal feelings.  Christians must admit and repent of any lack of love for those who are involved in sin, no matter how bothersome.

2.  We must grapple with the fact that our own personal offenses, opinions and attitudes are no excuse for a lack of love.  No one will ever have an excuse to not love others that can top the excuses Jesus Christ could have offered.  Yet, while we were still sinners Christ died for us.  If we are His, we will walk in love.

3.  We must acknowledge that transgenderism is an expression of a great deal of pain and suffering.  These individuals often feel very trapped and are miserable.   According to one recent study, a 41 percent of transgenders, or those identified as gender-nonconforming, have attempted suicide.  Even where some may be just arrogant and proud and intentionally flaunting their lifestyle and mocking God, even they are trapped in a bondage that is indeed miserable.  

It was believed and accepted as fact in even the most educated circles for a much of human history that anyone male who thought he was a female, or desired to become one, was evidence of deviant and perverted behavior, resulting often from severe emotional and psychological troubles.

So, why has this view changed?  Has it changed because of some new medical discovering or scientific fact?  No!  It has changed as our culture has rejected its theological and philosophical underpinnings.  

But let not authentic believers in Jesus Christ fall into the same trap of rejecting the Biblical truth we love so much. Grace and compassion must be the foundation even in presenting truth and warning of God’s judgement.

4.  With all that said, we can not escape the fact that transgenderism, as with other forms of sexual sin, is an expression of discontentment with God and is a form of rebellion against God.

You see, those of us who are convinced that we are created by, and in the image of, the Holy God of Heaven, understand that He is completely sovereign.  He is God and we are not.  And, one reason why our faith is so offensive to so many is that many hate this truth.  We all, in our pride, want to be God ourself.  This is a picture of the original sin in Eden.  We want things our way when we refuse to acknowledge that the ways of God are infinitely better than anything we could design or image. 

So, as one pastor put it, “Bruce Jenner can summon every ounce of athletic prowess he has ever had, and he will not be able to outrun his Y chromosomes. No matter how much female clothing is put on, no matter how many surgeries cut off, reshape, or implant whatever—no surgery can change the basic objective fact of XY with which he was not only born, but conceived. By the very fact of your conception, you are what sex and gender that you are. No transgender can escape this objective truth: It is written upon ever cell in your body.”

Bruce Jenner was created and designed as a man, conceived as a man, born a man and will die as a man.  He can never change that.  Unfortunately, our media and the progressive left often play both sides of this fence.  They will fight tooth and nail to try to prove that homosexuals “were born that way” yet they sound silent on that argument when it comes to gender.  Just one more evidence that this is not an argument of objective truth but rather emotionalism and hedonism.

There is a God and He designed and created us as the pinnacle of His beautiful creation.  He has a plan for each one and He promises that those plans are good and wonderful.  This is why we call it faith.  Because, we will either believe that or choose not to and face the consequences.

5.  Supporting and embracing destruction is not loving.  To deny objective facts about yourself is to live a lie. Whatever problems may underlie the beginning of the process into transgenderism, it seems to me that living a lie can not only compound them but will (and does) cause a destructive internal struggle.   And no matter how much the media says we ought to accept these ones, it seems to me that to embrace a lie that increases one’s chances of suicide by a factor of nine can’t be considered loving from any angle.

Listen, any of us can fall prey to a lie.  And any of us, if we embrace that lie long enough, can and will end up believing it regardless of its validity.  This kind of delusional artificial reality is overwhelming almost every aspect of our society today.  And, generations of children are being programed to believe these things.

Certainly, some in our world today are “willfully perverted and satanically bent on destroying what is left of the fabric of Christian culture.”  So although we must have compassion there is a cause!  The only way these trends can be reversed and the degradation of our society can be stopped is for a genuine spiritual awakening.  And, if followers of the Lord Jesus continue in their comfortable little American life, living some of what they know to be Biblical truth while ignoring much, we indeed have NO hope.

The need of the hour is the same as it has always been:

First, Followers of Jesus Christ to repent of their sin, purify their lives and surrender completely to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Second, to become the pray warriors we are called to be.

Third, to seek to live with such power from on-high that the reality of Christ cannot be ignored.

Forth, to live and preach the life-changing, bondage-breaking gospel everywhere we go.  This always includes giving the truth in love - no matter how uncomfortable and regardless of the consequences.

As I review these words I have written, it appears to me that every word is consistent with thousands of years of Jewish and Christian orthodoxy.  Yet, some will see it as radical and offensive.  And I am convinced, that unless things change, these words will one day result in jail-time as the enforcers of political correctness seek to control our culture.  Yet, we must as believers be more offended for the glory of our Christ than the world is by what they see as an assault on their world-view.  

Monday, March 2, 2015


I have been reading and teaching through the principles of Galatians 6:1 recently.  I have been helped greatly by Pastor Paul Kingsbury's book RADICAL RESTORATION.  What a great work this is!

This morning I was struck by some questions that Dr. Kingsbury wrote at the end of chapter 10.  He is writing in this chapter about the little phrase in Gal. 6:1 regarding considering yourself.  And by way of illustration, he compares the differences between David and Joseph when they both face temptation toward immorality.

He discussed the speed at which most of us react or respond to temptation.  He reminds us that normally there is not a great deal of thought or time by sometimes instantaneously we make the decision on which way to go.  So, the preparation for such decisions is laid ahead of time.  His summary of these points is well worth reading!

At the end of the chapter he says that he does not believe that David was particularly close to the Lord at the point in his life when he fell to temptation.  He revealed something to me that I am not sure I have considered.  He reminded me that in David's early years, when he literally was running for his life and the world seemed against him, his writings focussed on how GREAT God was and how close God was to him.  Then, as an older man, David wrote about his regret for his sins and begged God for forgiveness.

Brother Paul makes the point that this often can happen to us.  He asks us to consider the state of our relationship with the Lord today.  We can become too comfortable and we can begin to take our Lord for granted.  He asks, is your relationship with Christ persona, close and intense or has our need for His presence become dull over time?  Do you sense God is close and with you or does He seem distant today?

This is so very important.  Not only do your answers reflect where you are with God but they also reflect your readiness to help others.  Our God waits on us today ... seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened ... ask and He will answer.