It’s All in a Song


It’s funny. If you take a song, any one song, and play it at different times of the day, it can have a whole different meaning, or evoke different feelings.

Let’s take Jackie Wilson’s “Your Love (Keeps Lifting Me Higher)” for example.

That song works best in the car, at night with the windows down. It’s just got that old-time feeling to it, that can’t help but make you smile and tap your feet.

It’s also a fun song to have on while you’re doing chores around the house, or if you want to get your wife or kids out of a bad mood.

It can also be very lulling as it quietly plays somewhere in your bedroom at night as you fall asleep.

Maybe it reminds you of an old flame, or a loved one who passed.

It can also hold up as a party song, or even as elevator music.

No matter where you play it, or when you listen to it, it’s the same song, sung by the same guy.

The same can be said of God. He works in different ways, and speaks in different volumes, but no matter what He’s saying or how He says it, it’s the same God speaking those words.

The same God who spoke the world into being.

And the same God who spoke the words of Scripture.

So the next time you find yourself asking if it’s God’s leading or your own, match it up with what He has already said in the Bible, and see if it matches up with what you think you hear God saying to you.

And always keep the music playing. (Except when you’re praying, of course.)

Don’t Go to Church on Easter

emptypew33Easter is just one week away.

Have you invited anybody to church?

Easter is a time for believers to gather together and celebrate the Lord’s resurrection from the grave and our redemption through Him.

But it is NOT an exclusive holiday.

When Christ returns a second time, it’s not going to be done in secret, quietly, behind the doors of a church, nor in the privacy of a stable.

No. Not this time.

It’s going to be loud and explosive and every knee will bow and acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord of the earth.

Folks, Easter is a dress rehearsal for Christ’s second coming, and all the world will see Him. So what are we doing keeping Easter a private family affair? When we signed up to become Christ’s followers, we agreed to take His message to the ends of the earth. The least we can do is take His message to the other end of our workplace, or down the street.

So here’s my challenge, unorthodox as it may be.

Don’t make plans to go to church on Easter Sunday if you don’t invite a lost person to come with you.

Here’s why I make this challenge. First, it is a reminder that Easter is not about you. Second, how intimidating would it be to have to explain to someone that you didn’t go to church on Easter because you didn’t invite someone else join you?

Now, I may be wrong, but how much less intimidating would it be to just throw out a simple invitation?:

“Got any plans for Easter?”


“Want to come to church with me and my family?”

“Naw, that’s fine. Thanks, though.”

Easy peasy.

Now you just need to keep praying for them and witnessing to them since they now know you’re a Christian. Cat’s out of the bag.

Now you can celebrate the Lord’s resurrection with a clear conscious, knowing that you did what you could (and by all means, if the Lord is prodding you to do more, do it). And who knows? The most unexpected thing could happen and they might accept your invitation! And maybe… just maybe they’ll accept the bigger invitation to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior and there will be an even bigger celebration in the celestial halls of Heaven than we could ever dream of here on earth.

Don’t make Easter about you. Make it about Jesus. And the thing Jesus is about, is bringing people from death to life.

Note: I understand that some readers may have faced (or may face) persecution or insults or hardships, especially my international readers. I do not mean to make light of inviting people to church and passing it off as something that is easy to do. But that does not negate the challenge (not mine – Christ’s). All of us believers must pray for the lost as well as fellow believers that God may grant them courage and strength.


If I Were Noah

noahs-ark-reconstructionYou know what the most fascinating thing about the true-life story of Noah’s ark is?

It’s not that all the animals were able to co-exist on one vessel for a long period of time.

It’s not that it took just a handful of people to build such a large ship all by themselves.

It’s not even that Hollywood was able to find a way to dumb down the story with Evan Almighty. 

Fascinating as those things are.

But the thing that catches my attention the most is that Noah didn’t argue.

There is no recorded mumbling or groaning or complaining by Noah, his wife, his kids, nor his kids’ wives.

Let’s put this in perspective, and you’ll see why I find it so fascinating.

Take my lead and put yourself in Noah’s sandals and feel the heaviness of the moment weighing down on you as you hear God speaking to you:

Then God said to Andrew, “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.” 

So at this point I’m thinking, “Sounds fair. It’s what I’ve been thinking should happen all along what with the 50 Shades and Twilight phenomenons.” 

But then after thinking about it, I realize my earth is going to end. My world. Keep in mind that I’m only 29, and Noah was around 600 years old. His memories, his childhood homes, his whole world was about to be destroyed. Family friends, relatives, cousins he’d grown up playing sticks and stones with. All were going to be destroyed. Six hundred years worth of friends, memorable places, favorite restaurants and other comforts.

The trees he once climbed, the meadows he once flew in, the bridge he shared his first kiss on, the alter where he made his vows. All of it destroyed.

Then God continues, “Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you shall make it…”

Noah either had a great memory at 600, or he was smart enough to jot these divine instructions down. I would smile and nod as I usually do, but somewhere in the back of my head I’d be thinking, “This is a lot of work. I barely have time to clip and sell enough wool to sell in the market to make ends meet, and now you’re expecting me to take on a whole new vocation as a carpenter?”

Maybe Noah already had blessed hands and worked well with wood, so it’s hard for me to fathom being handed such a task. Just yesterday I couldn’t even drill a hole correctly to hang the curtain rods up without screwing it up (pun).

It’s overwhelming.

So between the Doomsday prophecy and the extra work load, I’m fascinated that Noah didn’t complain.

But maybe that’s why God chose him.

But then again… Moses talked back, and he was only told to pass a simple message along to the Pharaoh.

… Jonah ran away and he was only asked to evangelize in God’s name.

… the young rich man was only asked to throw a yard sale and give to the poor.

… I’m only asked to pray faithfully for my wife and future kids.

What is God asking of you?

It’s not likely that He’s telling you to quit your job to build a bomb-shelter for the upcoming nuclear fallout and wave adios to your friends and family for forever.

Heck, it’s probably not even likely that He’s asking you to lay down your life for the sake of the Gospel.

Though that day may be coming.

Noah was ready to do all that God had asked him, and he didn’t complain. He was ready. True, he had 600 years to prepare, but he also had 600 years to mess around.

I heard on the News this morning that life expectancy is supposed to go up to 111 years in our generation. If you’re my age, that means you roughly have around 82 years to get ready for what God might be preparing to ask of you. But probably a lot less time that that, because realistically most of us will be lucky to live past 82, so we can now recalculate that we will only have 53 years left to live.

Genesis 6:9. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.

Could that be said of you now? Could it be said of me? Because if we’re righteous and blameless now, not taking part in the corruption of the world that’s daily laid out before us on a silver plater, it may just be that we might not have a reason to complain when God asks us of things.

Just have your tools ready for when He does. And no complaining.

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Herod’s Massacre

giovanni-innocentsHome Alone and A Muppet’s Christmas Carol are amongst my favorite Christmas movies. And nothing screams “It’s Christmas!” like Ron Howard’s brilliant version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (which he actually claims should be called Why the Grinch Stole Christmas). But do you want to know what movies put me more in a Christmas spirit than any of the aforementioned?

Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Bear with me. The reason The Lord of the Rings puts me in a Christmas spirit isn’t so much because they were all released in the theaters days before Christmas, but because they represent more closely than any Hallmark special could, what the first Christmas was like.

Bloodshed followed on the trail of the first Christmas day. God started a necessary spiritual war, and an evil king started an unnecissary earthly war against children. 

The Lord of the Rings is all about war, is it not? And more than that, it’s about good vs. evil. It’s about finding something precious and either destroying it or using it for great power. It’s about the smallest of creatures changing the course of history and saving the world from destruction. It’s about true love, sacrifice, miracles, hope, and the beauty of evil and evil-doers being destroyed for all time.

I tell you, pour yourself a glass of Fresh Market eggnog, nibble on some puppy chow, cuddle up with your loved one, and  you can’t get much more Christmasy than that.

King Herod, who reigned during the time of Jesus’ birth inflicted a war against children because he was jealous of the future reign of this promised baby, Jesus. Any male child two years old or under were choked, drowned, stabbed, beheaded, aborted…

“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” (Matthew 2:18)

A small town in America suffered its own massacre less than a week ago. Many parents now know the feeling of losing a child. They will daily, and involunterily recount in their minds what their child’s last thoughts were just before they were shot.

But King Herods and Adam Lanzas and Pharaohs are more numerous than we would like to imagine. We walk amongst them everyday. We bump shoulders with baby killers all the time. Abortion doctors, pediatricians who offer abortion as an option to confused couples, politicians who support abortion funding, deadbeat husbands and boyfriends who push their women to “get it taken care of.” Women who willfully decide to “get it taken care of.” Yes, even people who drive around with “Pro-Choice” bumper stickers.

Adam Lanza. Pharaoh. King Herod. Pure, unadulterated evil.

But that’s only one side of the Christmas story. You see, God came down as the one thing the king was after. He came down as a baby. I think that’s why our world is so lenient with baby killing, because somewhere deep in our conscious, we associate babies to the long-awaited Messiah. I bet if a study were done (and I’m sure it has), the same people who are proponents of kicking God out of school and the Bible from the White House, are the same ones who advocate for abortion.

But you see, Herod, in all of his rage and madness, couldn’t stop the Christ-child from growing up to be King of Heaven. It makes me wonder just how many other children have been saved by the divine hand of God. It’s easy to point to God when bad things happen and blame Him, but just how many crimes are conceived in minds that don’t bear fruit because of God’s intervention?

Just like in Lord of the RIngs, the smallest creature is chosen to save the world and do away with evil. God chose the most helpless of things, a baby, to grow up and become the most humblest of beings – humble enough to submit Himself to the authority of the corrupt politicians and willingly be stapled to a wooden beam and die an agonizing death, beaten, bloody, and naked, for all to see and mock.

That’s the Christmas story. The baby Jesus was an unwrapped gift from God tucked away under, not a tree, but a manger. And that gift loved the children who came to Him, felt the thumping of a pregnant woman’s belly, and made way for the Kingdom of God to open the gates for all of the children of the world, young in years and young in spirit.

And here’s the best part! The gates of Heaven are opened to the abortionists and corrupt politicians and King Herods, if only they would repent from their sins, turn to God, and accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Make Him the best Christmas gift you will have ever received, and He will forget your sins like they never happened and accept you as a weeping child searching for a home.

That, my friends, is a Christmas story worth hearing.

Please help us get one step closer to adopting a child by purchasing my novel here. We’re trying to sell 1,600 copies by 2013.

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For Whom the “Bell” Tolls: My Thoughts on Velvet Elvis – Part 2

For the first part of this review, click here.

“Is the Bible the best God can do?” asks Bell. Apparently not, because he doesn’t seem to be sure God even wrote the Bible to begin with. He wonders if Corinthians, for example, is written by Paul or God or God through Paul or Paul through God. I wonder, as he’s standing at the pulpit on Sunday mornings preaching through 1 Timothy what he does with chapter 3 verse 16 (“All Scripture is inspired by God…”), but there’s really no reason for him to preach out of the Bible anyway, according to him. 

“The Bible is open-ended,” he says. “We cannot simply do what it says,” because it first must be interpreted. Meaning, “Someone has to decide what it means.” Yes, he’s saying that the Bible can be interpreted in any way we’d like. “When someone tells you what the Bible means, it’s not true.” It’s just their interpretation. Yes, this man is the pastor of a mega church. If you’re not yet wondering about the devastating effects of the gut-wrenching statements here, take the time to read some reviews on this book online. People really think this is deep, sound, theological teaching and many say it has changed their lives. I have no doubt their lives have been changed because Rob Bell the “superpastor” is releasing people from the obligation of obeying the Words of God. No one ever said a changed life is a holy life. 

To take this hellish theology further, he gives the example of a leader in his church who had a question about a section found in the Bible and after asking many learned people and consulting many references to no avail, she in the end, decided to just go right back to the Bible to see what it had to say about this topic. Bell’s response? That’s “toxic.” And if that’s not far enough, he says that Jesus Himself gives His followers permission to make new interpretations of the Bible (somehow he gets this idea from Matthew 16:9 and 18:18).

Earlier in his book he admitted that Jesus came to fulfill the Word of God by giving it flesh and bones. Now he’s telling his readers to do what they think Jesus is saying, not what He is saying. After all, it wasn’t until the 300’s the sixty-six books were agreed upon, according to Bell. “This is part of the problem with continually insisting that one of the absolutes of the Christian faith must be a belief that ‘Scripture alone’ is our guide. It sounds nice, but it is not true.” 

If you want to irk Bell, tell him that you attend a church that teaches the Bible. According to him a church that’s growing has an easy yoke. Do you want to know why that church has “easy yoke”? Because it’s not holding its congregation to the standards of the Bible. The church may present an easier yoke on Sunday, but what are the attendee’s lives like the rest of the week, being starved for the Word of God, and having it withheld time after time?

Many yokes seem easy, which is what people will likely flock to. People want the easiest dieting books, the simplest instructions, the lighter load, the church that has very few standards and does not convict with the two-edged sword of the Holy Word of God. Many churches like this will grow. And why shouldn’t they? They’re giving out milk and honey! But over time that trampoline will get overcrowded and the few springs holding everyone up will give way and the party will end when the whole thing comes crashing down. Did I mention that not once, if my memory serves correctly, does Bell make any reference to Satan and the unseen world? 

To be concluded…


The Strength of Mercy

For those of you familiar with All God’s Children International, here is a book that documents its humble origins, written by Jan Beazely, one of the main instruments in getting this mission off the ground.

It’s hard to step out in faith sometimes, but we’re left with no excuse after watching the Beazely family make one faith-filled decision after another, following God’s guidance like stepping stones. The Strength of Mercy is the story of how a girl named Heather took a curious path for her life which lead to the adoption of her sister, and ultimately hundreds of children throughout the world. Here is an excerpt from the book:

“As I look back on what has unfolded during the past several years, I am awed by what god has accomplished. I’ve rediscovered – on an almost daily basis – that when we yield in trusting surrender, we are ushered into the very center of His will, further than we dreamed possible.

God’s divine direction and the strength of His mercy were first experienced intimately in our home. Our greatest hopes and fondest desires as parents culminated in this amazing journey that our daughter – and our entire family – was called to take. Not only did we hope for the fulfillment of the promise God had given me so many years earlier, but it was also an incredible privilege to watch our oldest daughter walk and talk with the Lord on such intimate terms. To watch her strain to hear His voice and then obediently move forward, even when He didn’t explain Himself, was pure delight. It was the most precious gift a parent could ever hope for. Our once-rebellious teenager was transformed into a woman of courage and grace before our very eyes. In the transition, God used her to rescue a needy child – her sister, our new daughter. 

Then God invited us as a family to share this same mercy with the world. When I first received God’s promise back in October 1985, I could never have dreamed that we would bring more than 300 children out of Eastern Europe to new homes and a new life … Neither could I have foreseen working in the countries of Bulgaria, China, Russia, Hungary, Macedonia, and Honduras…

For a truly redemptive story on the power of grace and the beauty and divine possibility of adoption, I recommend this book wholeheartedly. It would do some of us a lot of good to be reminded that even today, outside the pages of the Bible, it is still possible to follow God in faith even if the world is hostile against our decisions. Does anyone else have a good adoption-themed book to recommend to us?

Cult #2: Mormonism

Mormonism is the fastest growing and most successful cult. Their church is called The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints, or LDS for short. They claim to be Christians, that they believe in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. But they employ semantics to nearly every Christian term.

A history:

Joseph Smith Jr.: How it all began:

At the age of 14, Joseph had a vision that Father and Son appeared before him. He asked what Christian denomination he should join. They said, “None,” because they were all wrong and corrupt.

In 1823, Smith, 17, saw the angel Moroni and told him of a book written on golden plates by former inhabitant of the continent that would contain “the fullness of the everlasting gospel.” He dug them up 4 years later. Mormons deny this but Smith used occult practices to find information (scrying).

By 1830 Smith published the Book of Mormon and founded the Mormon Church. It grew rapidly from 1831-1844 establishing strongholds in Ohio, Missouri and Illinois. Mormons drew hostility and persecution. Missouri militia slaughtered, raped and pillaged Mormon believers, obeying an “extermination” order issued by the governor.

Smith continued to receive revelations that guided him where to go and what to do next and established different doctrines.

Polygamy was issued in 1843, Smith said he would destroy his first wife if she resisted.

Smith was killed while in jail and Mormons claim their founder died as a “Christian martyr.” But in truth he went down fighting, using a six-shooter, that was smuggled to him, killing at least 2 of his assailants.

Bringham Young led LDS to settle in the valley of the Great Salt Lake in 1847. Polygamy became a formal practice.

Polygamy was often practiced until 1890 and was a chief reason Utah had been denied statehood at least 6 times.

LDS Church claims the biblical canon never closed and revelation continued with Joseph Smith as well as other presidents/prophets of the church right up to present day.

Mormons believe that God is “progressive,” having attained His exalted state by advancing along a path that His children (Mormons) are permitted to follow. According to Mormonism, He is an exalted man. One of a species called gods: These gods existed before God. When God was created then fully matured and was sent to another planet. He learned all He could, grew up, died, then was resurrected. Having attained godhood, He returned to a heavenly abode with a body of flesh and bones, where He joined with His goddess wife (Mother God) to have millions of spirit children to populate planet Earth. This is called “the preexistence.” Was not created ex nihilo. God was created by a god out of who resided and one point in eternal matter. God is not eternal, but matter is.

According to Mormons, Jesus is God’s firstborn “creation.” Lucifer was God’s next-born. Everyone else was created to populate the earth. God chose Jesus over Lucifer to be man’s savior. This caused Satan to rebel and fought a war against Heaven (led by Michael archangel). He was cast down to earth to live as a spirit without a human body. Meanwhile God instructed Jesus to create earth and everything in it and Adam and Eve with the help of the spirit children using external matter. Among the descendants were spirit children who fought halfheartedly against Satan in the Great War. They were sentence to be born mortals with black stain as part of their lineage of Cain. God had sex with Mary to conceive Jesus. Orson Pratt taught that Jesus married and had children by those women. After His death Jesus “gained fullness,” which He attained through a resurrected body. He reigns in Heaven with the Father-God. Smith says Jesus will eventually take the Father-God’s place as Father-God moves on to even higher realms of glory exalting a progression.

Trinity– Mormons believe that the trinity is not consisted of one God whose essence is found in three persons, but three Gods – three distinct bodies (Holy Ghost is only a spirit body and cannot become a man.)

We, as Christians part ways on just about every point of Mormonism. Do not let them convince you that they are Christians, because our belief systems are as different as night and day. We believe there is just one God, existing in three persons, and Jesus is His only begotten Son who paid the atonement for our sins (including fornication, multiple lovers/wives, idolatry, following false belief-systems). We are to have one one spouse and be faithful to that spouse until death does us part, and when we die, we either go to Heaven where we worship God for eternity or go to Hell and be punished for not believing in the One who offered salvation.

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