3 Words, 7 Letters, One Cosmic Offense

vomitingBeing a father has caused me to be extra careful with the words that I use in the house. There’s no need for my foster daughter to hear certain words, and there’s certainly less need for me to use them.

There is a phrase that you might use today that is the most deplorable phrase to God’s ears – worse than all the obscenities that might raise the MPAA rating for a movie.

A phrase that is frequently used on television that is acceptable viewing for children.

Your friends might go along with it, your family members might not notice it, and your pastors might not call you out on it, yet it’s the most vile exclamation that can come out of your mouth.

It might as well be vomit.

We are so used to the stench of this phrase we go about our lives hardly noticing it.

Using this phrase is the same as urinating on the cross of Jesus, and spitting on the face of God.

While the children of God are going to church, tithing, and praying for the lost, they are defecating in God’s holy temple by saying these three disgusting words.

You don’t have to read very far in the Bible before getting to it. It’s found on page 62 in my Bible.

James, towards the end of the Bible, implores us to watch our tongues, but this one phrase is forbidden in the ten commandments.

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7).

Brothers and sisters, we are to be set apart from the world, even if it means refraining from “cute” little phrases we acronymically type into our phones and ipads as friendly texts.

When I hear someone confess to be a Christian and then defile the Lord’s name, I automatically can’t help but question their salvation. After all, if they can’t refrain from using such a simple seven-letter term in their best moments, then what other sins are they giving into in their worst moments?

(On the flip side, when I hear someone say, “Oh my gosh” – a very deliberate and countercultural phrase, it gives me pause to look for further fruit in their lives.)

We must treat the name of God as reverent and holy. The very thought of Him ought to bring us to our knees in awe, not curse in jest.

If God means so little to you that you’re willing to just throw His name around like a deflated beach ball – which lacks value of any kind – ask the Lord to change your heart toward something you have viewed as being so trivial and inconsequential.

Ask Him to help you realize that the world has influenced you for the worse, and that using His name in vain is offensive to Him.

He will forgive you, if you are His child and you ask Him to, and He will never remember it if you repent of it, as He does with all sins. That is an absolute promise.

But if you want to go around continuing to use the Lord’s name as a curse word, just remember the next time you yell, “Jesus Christ,” out of pain or anger, you will someday finish that sentence with “…is Lord,” and He will reconcile His namesake.

That is another promise.

A World at War, Good Friday, and Frodo

wwiOn April 6, 97 years ago, America formally declared war on Germany, entering World War I.

It is Good Friday, the day Christ invaded our enemies and our sins.

Both were major events. Both would see devastating setbacks (so it would seem), but Americans and Christ came out victorious in the end.

I’ve heard it asked, “Why is it called Good Friday?”

If you’re not familiar with the whole passion_of_the_christChristian picture, it may seem rather odd that we celebrate the day our Saviour was beaten and crucified.

But like many wars, it was necessary for Christ to enter into battle in order to declare victory in the end.

You can’t be an official opponent if you don’t enter into a war. You can’t claim victory over that war unless you enter into battle, on the winning side. And you can’t fight the battle effectively unless you believe in the cause you’re fighting for.

Jesus knew the cause of His fight, He entered into the battle, and eventually declared victory three days later by stepping out of that tomb. Though our culture downplays it, there are many things worth fighting for, and Jesus seemed to think that your very soul was worth the fight.

If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you better believe that when He took those punches to the nose, He was thinking of you.

When the soldiers shoved the crown of thorns on His head, He endured it for you.

When the Father looked down on His Son savagely being nailed to the cross, He knew full well that in the end, you would be able to declare victory next to His Son and stand innocent before Him on the day of Judgement.

It is Good Friday because it is a prelude to the real celebration that is to take place this coming Sunday.

frodo_cryingLike every normal person, my wife and I absolutely love the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Although we marvel at the brilliant filmmaking, we don’t necessarily enjoy all the hurt and anguish Frodo is put through.

But we know it’s part of the story. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we really only love the movies because of the last half hour of the last movie which is saturated in victory and redemption.

But those final scenes mean nothing without the 9+ hours of war and anguish preceeding them.

In the same way, you can’t appreciate the miracle of Easter unless you understand the goodness of Christ’s crucifixion.

One step further: You can’t fully celebrate the miracle of Easter unless you recognize the goodness of you yourself being crucified with Christ.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

Have a very Good Friday and declare war on your sins.

What Christians Fear Most

monsters

Sometimes I feel like a monster.

Not when I lose my temper. When that happens, I’m just being a typical fallen human – my old fleshly self.

But sometimes I feel like a monster from Monstropolis. You know, the ones from Monsters Inc. who are afraid of children.

Sounds silly, doesn’t it?

But we’re not much brighter. We fear man.

We clamor for man’s approval and stop at nothing to gain the respect of the masses.

And if we’re honest with ourselves, on our worst days, we’d rather be judged by God than by our bosses.

This is the wrong way of living. Jesus is very clear in Matthew 10:28: “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.”

We’re so anxious to please others and remain certain not to offend ignorant people with the Gospel, but we’d much rather offend the One who commanded us to do just that!

Think about it. There are plenty of reasons why we don’t witness the way we ought. Laziness and carelessness may be at the top of the list, but fear is most certainly right up there.

Why won’t you witness to your boss? Because you’re afraid of getting fired.

Why won’t you witness to your neighbor? Because you’re afraid of making future front yard conversations terse and awkward.

Remember. These people who do not know the Gospel are as harmless as a child in Monstropolis. You have the Holy Spirit fighting with you, and enabling you to carry on the task.

Easter’s coming up. Invite someone to church. Just a simple, harmless invitation.

After all, who doesn’t like an invitation somewhere, right?

And don’t loose sight of who the real enemy is: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

Don’t be like the monsters who are scared of little children. Know who your real enemy is and realize the potential – through Christ – they’re keeping you from.

A Christian’s Thoughts on the Late Fred Phelps

MD WESTBORO01 KIRSCHBAUMThe late Fred Phelps, founder of the institute known as Westboro Baptist Church, was a favorite target of tabloids and religious headhunters because of his outspoken views of major issues such as homosexuality and sin.

Phelps and his institute – not church – is linked to Christianity because of his frequent use of the words God and sin and hell. When, in serious conversation with evangelicals, it would not be uncommon for unbelievers to make Pheps-like references about God and sin that had been made popular by the mainstream media.

Folks, let us be clear here. FRED PHELPS DID NOT PROMOTE CHRISTIANITY NOR THE BIBLE. HE PROMOTED HIMSELF AND HIS HATE WHICH IS COUNTERINTUITIVE TO THE CHRISTIAN AGENDA.

I’m not looking for a Get Out of Jail Free card. I’m not trying to break ties between Phelps and Christians because he’s dead now. Any true Bible believing Christian never stood with Fred Phelps because he did not speak the truth – and he certainly did not speak in love.

As you will see in the article by Dr. Albert Mohler below, you will learn that Phelps actually made Christians’ work much, much harder than it needed to be. Please read the article and pass it along to your friends who link Phelps with Christianity.

It’s time to set the record straight and make very clear that Christians do not wish damnation on sinners as Phelps clearly did, and pray that everyone finds salvation in Jesus Christ.

Fred Phelps is dead. The fire-and-brimstone preacher, who for many years was pastor of the institution known as Westboro Baptist Church, died late Wednesday in a hospice in Topeka, Kansas. The announcement was made on his church’s website. The wording was simple: “Fred W. Phelps Sr. has gone the way of all flesh.” Thus brings to an end one of most bitters lives in modern history — and one of the most harmful to the Gospel.

Read the rest of 

Fred Phelps and the Anti-Gospel of Hate — A Necessary Word

A Call to Resurgence

1037I find many contemporary Christian books lacking in either sound theology or cunning intrigue. When it comes to Christian books I tend to stick with the classics like R.C. Sproul and C.S. Lewis.

A friend of mine suggested I read Mark Driscoll’s new book, A Call to Resurgence, and he asks the question: “Will Christianity have a funeral or a future?”

I’m not going to lie. I like Driscoll. I agree with about 97% of his teachings about the Chruch, the Bible, God, and the people of God. And I believe he’s got a good handle on what’s in store for Christianity in the very near future.

As citizens of the 21st century are drowning in the rapid currents of the new “tolerance” movement, Driscoll makes the point that we Christians need to know where we stand on issues such as gay marriage, abortion, and basic theological truths that many of us may have forgotten.

I loved this book. Not only because I agree with most of his statements and predictions, but because he explains this “brave new world” we’re living in crystal clear, and reminds Christians that we can no longer sit on our butts and watch the world spiral out of control.

We’ve got to join in the chaos, because, really, it’s not chaos at all. The world is heading in the direction God has planned – bad as it may seem now.

We just have to know how to live in it and stand strong.

Rescue Me

captain-phillips-movie-624x346Sarabeth and I just watched Captain Phillips last weekend.

I’m telling you, I haven’t been that on edge in a movie since Mission: Impossible III. 

At the end of it, as I was trying to catch my breath, Sarabeth made a very astute observation. She said, 

“It’s amazing how far we’ll go just to save one American.”

She’s absolutely right. While other countries couldn’t give a rip about their citizens, our military will go to the ends of the earth to bring back our own.

I needed to see this movie, because it’s been a long time since I’ve felt proud to be an American.

It’s crazy though, because God is the same way with His children, and we can say the same thing about Him.

It’s amazing how far He’ll go just to save one of His children.

Aside from His Son dying for us and breaking free from the grave for His glory and on our behalf, He doesn’t just stop there.

He keeps a careful eye on us. When we stray, He searches us out.

I’d say that He’ll go to hell and back to save us, except hell wouldn’t be hell if He went there.

But He’ll go wherever you are. 

You may not be held captive by Somali pirates, but you might be held captive by your sin, or your addictions.

If so, and you’re God’s child, and you’re pleading for help, take heart, because He’s coming for you.

In Captain Phillips the SEAL Team tells Captain Phillips to stay where he is, to not move from the very seat he’s sitting in.

That’s what we’re to do. We’re to be still and know that He is God.

Don’t try to save yourself. It won’t work.

Just sit still, and pray.

God is coming after you, wherever you are.

It may be that you don’t want Him to. It may be that you’re happy in your sins. That’s all well and fine, and if you’re not a Christian, He’ll let you have at it, turning you over to your desires. (Not such a controlling, dictating God, is He?)

But if you’re His child, He’s coming after you wether you like it or not. No father will leave the mall without his child (hopefully).

And God won’t leave you enslaved to your sins if you ask Him for help, over and over and over again. Who knows, a rescue mission may already be under way.

Just stay still and wait.

And pray.

 

How Salvation Works

kids-in-classroomOn the first day of school, Mrs. Shermann passed out the kid-friendly syllabi  to her students and asked, “How many classroom rules do you notice on the whiteboard?”

“Ten!” they all shouted in unison.

“That’s right,” said Mrs. Shermann.

What she was about to teach them was her favorite lesson to teach. And she wondered who, if any, would learn it.

Rules 2-10 were the standard RAISE YOUR HAND BEFORE SPEAKING; BE COURTEOUS TO YOUR CLASSMATES; WRITE YOUR NAME ON ALL ASSIGNMENTS, etc.

But Rule No. 1 was the heart of it all.

It said, “ALWAYS SAY YOU’RE WELCOME.”

She spent probably eight minutes stressing the importance of this rule. A simple rule at best, a curious one for the 21st century at worst.

But the No. 1 rule, nonetheless.

But as the year progressed, it proved to be so much more complicated than it ever needed to be. And many kids had their feelings hurt by it, and others cried, and many were grounded by their parents for bad grades. All because of that dreaded Rule No. 1.

Mindy’s parents went over her assignment with her at least twice before declaring that it was indeed a perfect 100% (a 99 at worst if Mrs. Shermann was counting the missed comma in one of Mindy’s answers). But the 0/100 blotched in red ink at the top was a curious and disdainful score.

Dylan came home crying to his mom for the second time that week because, “Missus Shermunn calls on me and I give her the right answer, but she says I’m wrong. I raise my hand and say the answer is Benjimin Franklin and she says no. Then she called on Lindsy and she says Benjimin Franklin, and Missus Shermunn says she’s right.”

Every year Mrs. Shermann meets with a lot of parents the first couple of weeks of school. But the parents walk out appeased and relieved almost every time.

“It’s come to my attention that most of you think I’m unfair with my grading,” said Mrs. Shermann one Thursday morning before diving into the day’s agenda.

Some of the kids skeptically nod their heads. Others sit stiff upright, as though not wanting to show disloyalty or doubt to the fuhrer.

“A lot of you feel that your answers are correct in your assignments, but you get 0′s. And some of you give the right answer in class, and I say you’re wrong.”

A few more heads nod.

“You can do all the right things, and have all the right answers, but none of that matters if you don’t follow the rules. Especially the most important rule.”

Her gaze directed the others’ toward the whiteboard. Rule No. 1 seemed to be written in a much brighter color that day.

ALWAYS SAY “YOU’RE WELCOME.”

“If you turn in your assignment and I say ‘Thank you,’ and you don’t respond with ‘You’re welcome,’ then what good is it if you have all the answers right? You broke Rule No. 1, so nothing else matters.”

She continued. “If you give the right answer in class and I say ‘Thank you,’ and you ignore me or just nod your head, then I’m going to call on someone else until they obey Rule No. 1, then I’ll tell them they have the right answer.”

“Let’s say you live in a small town and the most important rule is that you must wear a blue shirt all the time. If you don’t wear a blue shirt all the time, but you do a lot of amazing things like save kittens from trees, give money to the poor, be nice to your enemies, none of that matters, because you’re not wearing the color blue. You’re breaking the most important rule. It might not make sense to you, but the rule in this classroom is to say ‘You’re welcome’ when thanked.”

“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37-39

“All have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” Isaiah 64:6

You’re welcome.

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