Faith in Christ is not simply about going to church (although this is important) or doing a bunch of religious activities. Christianity is about knowing God, and it is in knowing Him we are changed. How easily we are distracted by this foundational truth.

And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.  ~ John 17:3

There are some who say Jesus never claimed to be God, but He could not be anymore explicit than when He told the Jews, “Before Abraham was, I am!” (Ref. Ex. 3:14)

So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. ~ John 8:57-59

“Amen and Awoman”

“Amen and awomen.” Such audacious mockery coming from the forked-tongue of a godless politician, attempting to pray to whom he does not know (this is revealed not only by such childish mockery, but also in stating God as “the monotheistic god, Brahma, and is known by many other names.” Make no mistake, the Creator God is not Brahma (who is one of some 3 million gods of Hindu worship). 

For by [Christ] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.  ~ Colossians 1:16

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” ~ Acts 4:11-12

This politician attempts to come to the throne of grace flippantly, yet refuses to acknowledge the Holy Name of Jesus—the only one who can mend and heal our nation.

Our nation is entering a darkness she has never known. Believers and unbelievers alike know there is a storm on the horizon and moving our way. So, will mocking the very Source of light going to help the situation? What complete foolishness!

I realize this windbag thought himself quite clever ending his prayer with such profane irreverence; however, let each of us take heed:

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. ~ Galatians 6:7

God, indeed, can help us, but we must approach Him reverently and on His terms, not like a stupid middle-school child speaking flippantly to a substitute teacher to get a chuckle from his peers.

One Life to Live

“You only live once!” “Go for the gusto!” “Get all you can, while you can!” Such are some of the common declarations we hear. After all, it’s all about [us], babes (so we are told). But what if there really is far more to life than mere stuff and fleeting pleasures? What if it’s not about us, and that we were to someday experientially understand Jesus’ haunting words, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul” (Mark 8:36, ESV)?

While the world uses “one life to live” as a declaration, the Bible uses it as a statement of caution. A psalmist lifts the prayer,

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. ~ Psalm 90:12

The writer of Hebrews warns, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (9:27).

The writer of Ecclesiastes had and experienced it all: wealth, fame, education, pleasures, luxuries, parties, etc. Yet, he found no fulfillment in any of these. After wasting so many years on himself, he ends the book with this:

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. ~ Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

His point is not a warning of a capricious and vengeful God; rather, a relationship with our Creator and worshiping Him is the very purpose of our existence and what brings genuine fulfillment.

One life to live is all we have. Are we simply going to waste these fleeting moments on ourselves, or fulfill the true purposes in which we were designed for?

Be Still and Know

Be still, and know that I am God. ~ Psalm 47:10 (ESV)

We are a busy and active race, constantly on the move, either being productive or wasting time with meaningless pursuits and practices. The distractions are endless, but all of this comes with a price: missing the voice and knowledge of God. Creation declares His glory (see Ps. 19:1-4), and God promises to be found by those who truly pursue Him (see Jer. 29:13).

Turn of the noise and take time away from distractions. Be still and know.

America’s Perilous Situation and How We Got Here

The political climate has become extremely divided, hostile, and in some cases violent. The hypocrisy in the accusations thrown around is unbearable. “He is such a liar!” As opposed to whom? “He is so corrupt!” As if the other candidate is not? “He is so evil!” Ah, but it is here we need to ask ourselves, how did we get here?

As Americans, we should be disgusted with both political parties. Both parties have lied to us, both parties have accepted money from lobbyists, both parties have had scandals, and both parties have individuals walking free, yet guilty of crimes the average person would be imprisoned for. We can complain all we want to, but do we, the American people, not bear much of the blame?

I hear people on both sides accusing the other of being liars, all the while ignoring the lies spoken by the candidates they support. I hear people accuse candidates and officials of being “Hitler” or “Nazis,” all the while fully endorsing abortion on demand. I was sickened a few years ago when one particular candidate’s platform was nothing less than a celebration of death. Yet, as a society we want to label candidates as “evil” when our own hearts are void of compassion for the most helpless and innocent?

Oh, let me not ignore the great hypocrisy of Hollywood, those who like to “instruct” us in morality and decency, although many of whom practice neither. Ricky Gervais is correct when he stated that those at the Oscar Awards ceremony are in no position to lecture on such things.

Again, the question must be asked, how did we get here? Consider the following passage:

Thus says the Lord: “What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? They did not say, ‘Where is the Lord who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that none passes through, where no man dwells?’ And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination. The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those who handle the law did not know me; the shepherds transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal and went after things that do not profit….Your evil will chastise you, and your apostasy will reprove you. Know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God; the fear of me is not in you, declares the Lord God of hosts. ~ Jeremiah 2:5-8, 19 (ESV)

We, as a society, always want to point fingers and shift the blame, but do we not bear much of the blame? Consider the last election, for example. How did our main choices come down to Hillary and Trump? We can state our negative opinions of either of these individuals; however, society rejected candidates who have more integrity than either of these individuals. Why? What hypocrisy we must own whenever we accuse others as being “evil,” “immoral,” and “liars” when we reject those who are righteous and persons of integrity. What hypocrisy when we condemn persons as being “immoral,” yet idolize actors and musicians who glorify the raunchiest acts of immorality. What hypocrisy when we accuse others of being “evil” when our own lives are godless and self-indulgent.

Let us not think that the church is guiltless. Consider another passage:

The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured human lives; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst. Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, shedding blood, destroying lives to get dishonest gain. And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord has not spoken. ~ Ezekiel 22:25-28

Many who profess the name of Jesus Christ, too, are guilty of condoning, applauding, and promoting behaviors and practices that God condemns. Furthermore, pride, greed, and various forms of immorality are known to be condoned and/or “whitewashed” among both Catholics and Evangelicals. There are many churches who make no distinction between what is holy and what is profane, and instead of seeking to be true to the Scriptures, many want to simply “agree to disagree,” lest they appear as “judgmental” or “divisive.”

I believe America is in dire straights. Although many will mock, I believe God has already begun judging America (read Romans 1). How did we get into the situation we presently find ourselves in? We have turned from God (and I mean, specifically, the one true God of the Bible) and have rejected His Son Jesus Christ whom He sent to redeem us. More and more society vehemently denounces and opposes God in nearly every sector. Increasingly our society condones what God condemns and scorns what God commends. Even in many churches preachers are casting doubt on the Scriptures and adapting to the world’s philosophies and code of “ethics” instead of what God reveals. Thus, we as a society are guilty of great evil.

I hear people crying, “Trump is ruining our country” or “Biden will destroy America!” But let me be clear, neither man is America’s savior, nor is either man to blame for her path to destruction. Only God can heal our nation, and this can only happen if we, as a nation, repent of our wickedness. Otherwise, not the best of our cunning and strategizing will prevent God’s judgement.

Will God choose to grant further mercies for America? I do not know. However, Nehemiah’s prayer is quite instructive for us, as he humbled himself, confessing the sins of his nation, as well as his own sins and those of his father’s house:

O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded. ~ Nehemiah 1:5-7

We can choose to try to erase history rather than learn from it. We can choose to mock God’s judgment, but it has already begun. Woe to us if we choose to “take our chances” and refuse to repent. We are already walking a thin line, and it is getting ever closer to snapping. What do we have to lose? Far more than we realize.

Though I Walk Through the Valley

Fear. Each of us have experienced it at some point, and many are experiencing it now. We are living in times of upheaval, unrest, uncertainty, and chaos. The ripples of terrorism, threats of economic collapse, rioting, natural disasters, etc. are being felt around the world. Many are fearful, not knowing what to make of Covid.

It is silliness to simply tell people, “You shouldn’t be afraid,” or worse, “Fear is a sin.” The fact of the matter is, many of the great saints of old experienced fear: Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, and the disciples. If you are experiencing fear today, you are in good company. The challenge before you, then, is how to manage your fear?

The psalmist writes,

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. ~ Psalm 23:4-5 (ESV)

Traveling through a dark valley, seemingly alone—even in death’s shadow, not knowing what might lurk beyond one’s vision—this sounds like a pretty scary place to be (imagine the complete vulnerability of a sheep or lamb). The psalmist is not trivializing the dread. However, he acknowledges the presence of the Shepherd. The first thing the child of God must remember is God is always present with His own (even if His presence is not “felt” or “sensed.” Our feelings can be very deceiving.

Next, he mentions the Shepherd’s “rod and staff.” This is a metaphor referring to God’s Word—His instructions and promises. For example, God’s Word can shed light on the fact that our difficult situations often serve a purpose. Furthermore, God’s promises remind us that we will get through the difficulties as we lean on the Lord.

Contrary to popular belief, Jesus says we will have difficulties. He tells His disciples to not be afraid, not as a stern commandment, but because He knows there will be times they will be afraid. There are times we are afraid; however, in Him, we do not have to be overcome by fear. Perhaps you are experiencing fear today. God knows. I hope you will look to Christ, the Great Shepherd, and experience peace in His presence and Word today.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. ~ John 16:33

Our Refuge

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea. . . . ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’” Psalm 46:1-2
Augustine writes, “Our hearts are restless until we find our rest You.” How often our hearts are restless, uneasy, on edge, and fearful. Just as there are numerous natural phenomena that pose very real threats of destruction (e.g., tornados, floods, hurricanes, fires, etc.), so there are also numerous stressors that pose very real threats of mental and emotional trauma (e.g., loss of loved ones or work, betrayal, marriage conflict, financial debt, etc.). We can feel like we have been pulled into the depths from a riptide, dangerously far from shore. Nevertheless, our God promises to be a refuge for His people. While He will not always immediately take away the storms, He will protect us through them. May we learn to be still before Him, and that in doing so our hearts may experience peace.
~ From the book, Christian Reflections in a Deflecting World

Heaven (Part 3): R.S.V.P.

Not everyone will enter heaven. What a sad and fearful thought that many church members—even persons of the clergy—will be denied entrance. Jesus says,

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” ~ Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV)

Only those who repent of their sins (each of us have sinned) and believe on Jesus Christ who paid the penalty for our sins. Some will argue this is unfair, but consider the following:

  1. God is perfectly holy and pure. By His very nature and essence  He cannot, and will not, permit sin in His presence and heaven.
  2. Those who love sin would not enjoy heaven. The immoral, nefarious, and maleficent would abhor the absolute purity of heaven. Make no mistake, heaven would not be a paradise for those whose hearts are not changed by the Gospel and Holy Spirit.
  3. Some argue the Gospel is too “exclusive,” but God offers His salvation to every individual, regardless of their age, background, gender, color, or nationality. He will not force anyone to accept, but why would a person not want to?

If a deadly virus began ravaging the world, would you resent hospitals for saying there is only one cure? Would you refuse it because of its exclusivity? Yet, God says the only Cure for our dire spiritual predicament is to believe on His Son Jesus who died for our sins. Many are offended by this, and thus, forfeit heaven and every spiritual blessing that could be their’s in Christ.