A New Year’s Resolution to Balance The Others

When Joseph revealed himself to his brothers and invited the family to come down to live in Egypt, he promised them they would be well taken care of by Pharaoh. Pharaoh told Joseph to tell his family:

“Also regard not your stuff;
for the good of all the land of Egypt is your’s.”

First, let me just say, I love the Bible’s usage of the word “stuff.” What a great word. I have been accused of being an unsophisticated communicator because of my use of words like “stuff.” If it’s good enough for God; it’s good enough for me.

Second, I like this promise! Don’t worry about keeping your stuff nice, don’t worry about packing well or taking your time, just get down here, we got ya covered.

We often use the escape from Egypt and the entrance to the Promised Land as an illustration of salvation. But perhaps we can view the deliverance of Joe’s family from starvation into the bounty of Egypt as a kind of salvation illustration as well.

We are promised an eternity in heaven where all is right and all needs will be fully met. That being the case, while you’re on earth, regard not your stuff.

I think this is what Jesus has in mind in Matthew 6 when He says things like:

“Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.”

“And why take ye thought for raiment?”

“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?”

“Take therefore no thought for the morrow:”

Regard not your “stuff,” remember that there is eternity coming where God has ya covered. If we truly took to heart the words of God, our lives would be radically different from the world around us.

As we ramble around making resolutions for the new year about what to do with our stuff, remember one of your resolutions should be to not take your stuff so seriously. Lighten up. God’s got the future won. Enjoy the win and leave off the stuff of the losers.

But godliness with contentment is great gain.For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

New Year’s Resolutions and Christianity

New Year’s Resolutions are something I have done many times. I guess I call them more “goals for the year,” but it’s the same thing.

I don’t always hit my goals, but I don’t really write them to make them happen. I write them to encourage me to do a little more than I would otherwise. I have no problem determining later that the goal aint gonna happen, that other things popped up, or that my time would be better served elsewhere.

Back in the day I would obsess over my goals and do them at all costs. If I had to be rude to people to get away from them so I could go home and read 200 more pages to get back on track, I would.

That wasn’t right! I learned that the exercise of my faith–love–trumped any goal. If my goals are taking me away from serving people and being patient, then I’d back off them. I even skipped doing goals for a couple years as I realized they had become a problem.

Goals have become a thing I do when there is nothing else to do. What I’ll do with my free time. They revolve around reading, exercise and various hobbies that replace television and other, what I consider, waste of time diversions.

There have been some Christians who criticize resolutions/goals because they are legalism and a reliance on fleshly power. I find that stupid. I find them a handy tool to keep my body under subjection and a way to redeem the time.

I typically do not tell anyone what my goals are, because my goal with goals is to keep them floating, not too serious.

My pastoral advice on goals is this–if your life is already too busy, set a goal to nix some activities, relax more. Be with people. Go to some funerals. Set a goal to have time for people.

If you are a person who sees that you tend to waste too much time on television, video games or mindless, fruitless activity, then set some goals to do different stuff, be with more people, have a life that is interesting so people know what to talk to you about. Have a life a conversation can be struck up about, a life that people know what to get you for Christmas!

This pastor is all for people using their time to encourage interaction with others, which can’t happen if you don’t do anything. We are creatures of habit and many of our habits are a waste of time. Goals can help you overcome the wasting of time. Be specific, it helps to be able to count your results–books read, miles walked, etc.

Do some stuff. But if the doing of stuff takes you away from people, makes you impatient to leave people so you can go home and do your goal, then you’ve missed the point. Go for it, but without love there is no profit.

After Christmas Jesus Talk

Jesus Christ’s earthly body and Ministry were a revelation of who God is. Jesus did the works of His Father and said the words His Father wanted Him to say. If you have seen the Son, you have seen the Father. “I and the Father are one.”

Christ revealed who the Father was and because of Him we have a better understanding ot The True God.

Although Christ was not yet born, the Old Testament foretells many details about the Coming One, the Messiah, the birth of the Everlasting Father. I find the prophecies to be very cool. What a testament to the credibility of God’s Word.

When Jesus was born, He wasn’t just winging it. Everything He did was the fulfill promises made in the Old Testament, some written thousands of years before His birth. There is a whole mess of verses being fulfilled at His birth.

Paul writes “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” Christ was born of the seed of David. You can’t fully understand what Jesus is doing without a knowledge of OT revelation.

There was a reason Christ was not born as a Norwegian. The intricacies of the genealogy of Christ, how everything fit together to have Him born in the line of David. Yes, God is His Father, but He’s in the line of David as well. He was a real human being with a real lineage and the lineage was specific.

In the next verse, Paul goes on to say, “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”

Again, don’t stop your knowledge of Jesus with the fact that He was born! Carry it on to see that He died for a reason and He was raised up for a reason.

It is the full person of Christ and all that He did that shows who He truly is. No other life remotely comes close to the life of Christ. He is the seed of David and the Son of God. He’s both and it took both to pull off the redemption of humanity.

You could study this alone for the rest of your life and never exhaust the ins and outs of it! Don’t let the bigness disappoint you. Revel in it. Get to know your God through the person of Christ.

After Christmas Reality

Shwew, survived another one!

As you are reading this, I am packing up the car and heading back home from family. Hopefully I have enough room in the car for all our loot.

Christmas is over and baby Jesus will fade from many people’s minds as we gear up for our next holiday distraction: New Years.

Unfortunately, many drop their understanding of Jesus with Christmas. The know Jesus was born and whatnot, but that’s about it. They fail to take it further.

Not til Easter do many think of Christ again. We hit the high points in our holidays–Christ’s birth and death, just as we remember the high points of people’s lives. People’s gravestones record their birthday and deathday.

I guess Jesus is no different.

Except He’s entirely different.

“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.”

The big deal about Christ’s birth and death is that it was just a temporary thing. It really wasn’t the main point.

Christ lived a holy life to be an acceptable sacrifice, and He died in order that He might be raised up. His resurrection is a huge deal! If there is no resurrection then we are yet in our sins.

Christ was put to death in the flesh, but He was made alive by the Spirit. Christ’s body was a temporary dwelling for His person. The real triumph was escaping the body and returning to Spirit-life, rejoining His Father in heaven, sitting at His right hand.

Christ’s life is a great thing to celebrate. It is indeed a blessed fact that God became flesh and dwelt among us. It is also a great thing that He suffered and died for our sins. But it is a triumphantly great thing that He rose again!

This resurrection shows His power over sin and death, shows that He is approved of God, shows that He has power to give life.

Don’t let your Christmas stop with Jesus becoming a human; let it go on to all that Christ is, to the new, resurrection life of eternity, a life He now promises to give to all who come to Him.

The ministry of Jesus doesn’t stop with Him becoming a baby boy, nor does it stop with His death on a cross. Jesus’ ministry never stops, because He is alive even today and for ever!

Christmas and Knowing God

Christmas is allegedly the day we remember that God became flesh and dwelt among us.

There are many reasons why Christ came, perhaps there is one that doesn’t get as much play as it should. It will no doubt show up in a theological explanation of the incarnation, and would probably also be one those things people wouldn’t say if they tried to explain why Christ came but when they heard it would say, “Oh, well, yeah, that’s what I was trying to say.”

Here it is:

“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”

One of the reasons Christ came, that God became flesh, was to give us an understanding who the invisible God, whom no man has seen, is like!

God tells people in the Old Testament that they can’t handle seeing Him. Moses received much instruction on this, including the placing of a veil on his face to be in God’s presence.

If we finite, tiny, little humans ever saw the eternal God, we’d just go ahead and melt. Moses had to hide in the rocks just to glimpse His “back parts.” God makes the point clear when He says, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.”

We can’t handle seeing God. In order for God to be seen, to truly know who He is, He had to limit Himself. So, with great humility, He took the form of a servant and was made like us.

Jesus spoke to other human beings and told them, “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.”

“I and the Father are one.” Jesus Christ reveals God. Jesus Christ is a view of God we can handle, one that won’t kill us on the spot.

There is deep humility here, a humility we could never understand. We don’t think being human is so bad, what’s the big deal? It’s a huge deal for the eternal, omnipotent God to be made like us. The eternal Spirit to reside in a body of dirt.

It’s truly incredible. It’s a glimpse of God, Him that is true. This is the true God and eternal life. If you don’t want Christ, you truly don’t want eternal life. Christ is the representation of eternal life.

Wow, there’s stuff there. No, we don’t live in the time when Christ’s physical body walked the earth, but we have four records of that time. Get to know your God and lay hold of eternal life.

Christmas and Christological Heresies

Understanding God becoming flesh is not easy for our brains to grasp. How is God the Father one with the Son? What happens with Christ’s divinity when He takes on a human body? How much of Him is God and how much is human?

Throw Mary in the mix and, well, look out!

One of the great confusing verses on the issue is Isaiah 9:6, “ For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Within this verse we see the complexity of what’s going on. A son is born called The Everlasting Father! How can He who is eternal be born? How can the eternal father be a son at some point? Doesn’t that cancel out the idea of eternal fatherness?!

The best way to describe what is going on is to use biblical words and phrases. Quoting a verse is the best option; trying to use philosophy to explain it will merely lead you into the murky waters of heresy. I may not be able to explain it to your satisfaction, but I know I can quote the One who brought it up!

Church History is filled with heretical views of Jesus Christ. Some thought He was just a spirit that looked human. Some thought He was just a guy God used. There are views more extreme and at every point in the middle of who Christ was.

There are three major heresies regarding the Lord Jesus Christ:

(1) The denial of Christ’s Divinity — which lead to the heresies known as Ebionism, Arianism (Jehovah’s Witnesses), Nestorianism, Socinianism, Unitarianism.

(2) The denial of Christ’s two natures — which created heretical groups such as Monophysitism, Eutychianism, Monothelitism. These all confuse the two natures of Christ; i.e., absorbed one of His natures into the other.

(3) The denial of Christ’s humanity — which gave rise to Docetism, Marcionism, Gnosticism, Apollinarianism, Monarchianism, Patripassianism, Sabellianism (modalism), Adoptionism, Dynamic Monarchianism.

The bottom line is that God in the flesh is who Christ is. If it were not so, there is no Gospel. Beware anyone who tries messing with the person of Christ, denying that He was who He said He was. If they don’t have that part right, they have nothing else right. Guaranteed.

“For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”

Christmas and God Becoming Flesh

Christmas is a couple days away. Christmas is allegedly the day when we pause to remember the coming of Jesus Christ.

I have no idea what people think this means. On our calendar I imagine it looks a lot like Martin Luther King Jr. Day or Presidents Day–Just another day to remember some guys who did some stuff we like to remember.

Some refer to Christmas as “Jesus’ Birthday.” I get it, that’s fine, but I also think it’s a tad misleading. Jesus Christ was around at the beginning, His birth is different from our births.

I have no idea where I was before birth. The Bible does not answer this question so any answer is merely speculation. The Bible does tell us where Jesus was before His birth–He was with the Father.

The birth of Jesus Christ did not mark the beginning of Christ. The birth of Christ was merely the humanizing of the eternal God. God became flesh.

God becoming flesh is truly a stunning idea! The Creator becomes part of created reality. That’s stunning.

God became flesh.

He didn’t passively sit in heaven and watch us suffer. He didn’t ignore His creation. He is not unfeeling toward the disaster that has come upon His creation through sin.

Instead, God took part in our suffering. He was born as a baby, and regardless of some odd Christmas Carols, I imagine He did make some crying. He was hungry, thirsty, in pain and even wept at the funeral of a friend and over the lostness of sinners who refused to come to Him.

God became flesh and was tainted with all the problems of flesh life, minus sin.

To deny this fact, that God became flesh, is to disqualify you from claiming to be a Christian. It’s a central tenet of Christian thought and biblical revelation.

If Christ is not in the flesh, then God did not dwell among us, nor did He suffer and die for us, nor could there be any real sense in which He rose again.

If Christ is not God in the flesh, then the Gospel is not the Gospel and we are yet in our sins.

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”

Being Doctrinally Right Will Make You A Jerk, Unless. . .

Your doctrine can be as sound as all get out and you can still blow it.

As the Apostle Paul says, “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.” I don’t think he is referring to one particular kind of knowledge, I think he’s speaking of knowledge in general.

In the context, he’s speaking about knowledge about meat offered to idols. When someone knows something another person doesn’t know, it can result in two bad things:

1) The one who knows looks down on the one who doesn’t know.
2) The one who doesn’t know is threatened and is bitter against the one who knows.

This is what knowledge does to our pride. You can have the right knowledge, be the possessor of truth itself, and yet still be a raving jerk.

Many have seen this and thought that doctrine should thus be avoided. “Can’t we all just get along?” is the rallying cry meaning, “Can’t we all be mutually stupid?”

I suppose this would work, but I’m not convinced it’s what God had in mind.

God wants us to have knowledge, but He also wants us to love people.

When the time comes when you learn a new thing, do you love those who taught you the wrong thing, or do you gloat and feel superior?

This is no easy thing and I do not claim to have this one under control.

A couple chapters later from the “knowledge puffs up” verse, Paul says, “And though I . . . understand all mysteries, and all knowledge . . . and have not charity, I am nothing.”

All your doctrinal rightness means nothing if you don’t love people. If being right leads you to argue, fight, call names, belittle and badger people, then you’ve missed the point. It may even be your lack of love is demonstrating your doctrine is wrong.

It might be. Then again, you might just be a proud jerk like everyone else.

Knowing what you’re talking about, or rather, feeling like you know what you are talking about, can be devastating to your faith! Paul follows up the “knowledge puffs up” verse with “And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.”

It’s better to conclude you know nothing so that you might learn love, than it is to plow people under with all your fancy knowings.

Ignorance is not the answer. Knowing Christ is the big deal. Do you know Him, or do you just want to argue finer intellectual points about Him? One of the worst things you can do in your faith is come to the conclusion you know everything.

Rather than focusing on growing your knowledge, try this one instead: “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.” Desire your love to grow in knowledge; not your knowledge to grow in love!

Follow that up with, “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.”

15 Warning Signs You Are Being Taught Bad Doctrine

There is bad doctrine and sound doctrine. It is our responsibility to test the spirits to know what we are hearing. How do you know you are being taught bad doctrine?

There are many warning signs, stuff you hear that should make red lights flash in your brain and siren bells ring in your spiritual ears. Perhaps just one of these is not that big of a deal, there may be a time and place for one of these at a time, maybe, perhaps, but if you see multiple appearances of these things, watch out! You’re being fed deception!

1) The doctrine taught messes with the person of Christ. This is, in the end, the clincher. If you hear that Christ was not human, or that He was not divine, or that He is not God, or that He is just a myth, or that He is not in heaven now, or that He did not rise from the dead, or that He played football with your dead son in heaven, just leave. Leave immediately. And don’t ever come back.

2) The doctrine taught celebrates the messenger not Christ. Humans love the spotlight. Pride is our biggest downfall. If what you are taught elevates the teacher to ridiculous heights, you’re in trouble.

3) The doctrine taught claims to be new, never before seen! Anytime a speaker or author claims that he got this from his own personal Bible study and no one else has ever seen this, crank up them sirens.

4) The doctrine taught claims that it is THE KEY to figuring everything out. This typically fits in with “no one has ever seen this like I have” explanations. “Once you understand this, life is a breeze” has been the introductory sentence to many a heresy.

5) The doctrine taught is based on a secret code or the redefining of words. Only the initiated truly get it. Only those who know the “true meanings” of words and the “secret codes buried for centuries” can know it. You need a special dictionary or decoder ring to follow along. Run.

6) The doctrine taught has to be understood first before you can deliver the Gospel. If the Gospel is secondary to a special reading of the Bible, extra-biblical “revelation,” a theological system must be believed first, or any other qualifier that must be met first before explaining the Gospel, you’re about to enter a cult.

7) The doctrine taught has to do with giving the speaker your money. The Bible is consistent on this point: the best sign of a false teacher is that they want your money. Their god is their belly and we are to flee from them.

8) The doctrine taught is named after a person. Sorry Calvinists and Arminians, be careful out there when following what the guy said is more important than what the God said. And don’t give me this, “But my guy is just saying what God is saying.” Fine, I’ll just go with God then.

9) The doctrine taught is nowhere explained in a large context of Scripture. If what you are being taught is referenced by one verse from one book, then another verse from another book, and another verse from another book ad infinitum, you are hearing a proof texter, not someone who is concerned with what the Bible says.

10) The doctrine taught has to ignore significant portions of Scripture. This fits in well with #9, but is slightly different. Not only is the doctrine based on proof texts, it has to teach why you don’t have to listen to certain parts of God’s revealed Word, which is all given by inspiration and is all profitable for doctrine.

11) The doctrine taught was “revealed” to someone. Anytime someone tells you that God “revealed this truth to me,” check what they mean by that. If they mean that they believe they are inspired, run for the hills. And never drink any Kool-Aid they may offer you.

12) The doctrine taught eliminates or minimizes human responsibility. Humans don’t like to do anything, therefore, a human-devised doctrine will give props to doing nothing–just say this prayer and you’re done. Just have one of our guys dunk you in water. Just do this thing with the beads and all the rest is done for forever! In contrast, the Bible can’t stop talking about continuing, keeping, zeal, running, fighting, work, labor, strive, etc. Every judgment in the Bible is based on works. Be not deceived.

13) The doctrine taught minimizes sin. If Paul says adulterers, fornicators and covetous people won’t be in heaven (and he does), flee from the one who tells you they can be. Be not deceived. If it sounds too good to be true and is not consistent with very clear Bible passages (there is much of the Bible that is “too good to be true” that actually is true), it’s probably some sinner’s inner desire to be in heaven who does not want to repent and be saved.

14) The doctrine taught contains no teaching. If it’s all music, lights, jokes, skits and frivolity, you aren’t hearing sound doctrine. You are getting your ears tickled.

15) The doctrine taught comes out of Joel Osteen’s mouth. Enough said.

8 Sources of Bad Doctrine

Sound doctrine comes from the Bible through the teaching of the Holy Spirit. There are warnings in the Bible about bad doctrine, too. Where does bad doctrine come from?

1) People. People are conceited and think they have everything figured out. Real God is rather rough on us, so we go about inventing our own God. Stuff people teach about the God of their imagination is bad doctrine.

2) Ritual. People are creatures of habit. We like to assume our habits are good. The best way to know your habit is good is if you can prove God made you have this habit and that God is only pleased with people who have your favorite habit. These become known as “commandments of men.” They have nothing to do with genuine spirituality, but if a guy wants to feel good about himself while not doing anything God says, don’t be surprised if he pulls out a verse that says this thing he’s been doing all along is actually what God demands from everyone.

3) Conformity. We believe doctrines because those guys we liked believed these doctrines. Except, of course, we’ve modernized them to be relevant, so yeah, they actually aren’t at all the doctrines of the guy we name ourselves for, but still, it sounds good and it is kind of what he said and we know he’s in heaven.

4) Philosophy. Christianity is rather simple. It’s simplicity makes it appear foolish. Philosophy, man’s wisdom, sounds complex and you have to be all geniusy to figure it out. Wouldn’t it be nice to sound geniusy? Let’s borrow some of that complexity from human wisdom and feel more geniusy about ourselves.

5) Psychology. Since we’re all sinners we all feel bad about ourselves. This is actually a good thing if it’s from God–“godly sorrow leads to repentance” Paul says. Christianity deals with the root of your bad and kills it and changes your life completely. That’s hard. Why not just repeat some nice sounding phrases ad nauseam until they stick and we’ll use that as our doctrinal statement. Jesus loves you just the way you are!

6) Sunday School. Most youth programs serve up bad doctrine as often as they serve stale oreos and flat Kool-Aid. One reason for this is that we over-simplify biblical stories to the point of heresy. Another reason is that many, many unqualified people are opening their mouths. How many youth who have walked since away from the faith taught young kids in your church? The answer to that question is frightening. Children’s ministry is often the first opportunity new people in the church are given. Ohhh, the things I’ve heard.

7) Satan. Satan is a deceiver. His means of attack against Christianity are subtle, probably not the big issues you think he’s involved with. If Satan can get you to believe that Jesus was just a nice guy and wants us to just be super-duper nice, he’s pretty much won. We’re told that in the latter days sound doctrine will fade and instead people will give “heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils

8) Attention. Some people just like to argue and will throw in a weird doctrine just to stir up people so they can argue. Others are trying to make money and you can’t sell old stuff that’s been said by many, you have to invent new stuff so you can make a splash, get your marketing campaign off to a hot start and rake in the money. New must be better and new and better sells, baby! This works phenomenally and is why I read few new doctrinal books.

_______________

These bad doctrine will have Bible verses in their explanation, and if you are not familiar with everything the Bible says, you may begin to believe that these are sound doctrines, “Hey, it’s in the Bible.”

But it’s not really. I could biblically make a case that killing your kids is a biblical doctrine. Many verses I could use to reference the subject. First and foremost is the fact that God killed His own Son. You want to be like God don’t you?

People get sucked into things like that because a guy can slickly use Scripture and make a convincing case that his theoretical philosophy of God is biblical. If you are not familiar with the rest of the Bible, you may be sucked into these. Don’t do that!

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive”

How to Win Doctrinal Arguments

I live in a house with three children, the oldest is 13. One thing you must know about children is that they do not think like adults.

I am an adult. I think in a way that my children do not think in. This results in them always doing everything wrong. Always.

At first I would try to correct everything because everything was wrong. Now, after living with children for 13 years, I have come to learn that a guy must pick his battles. This is another evidence of thinking like an adult.

Children don’t pick their battles. Children battle about everything. If you don’t think so, come spend an evening in my house. Everything is battled. They argue about commercials, food, current events, football scores, their names. Everything.

This gets tiresome. When I say something now and one of my kids says, “Nu-uh.” I will go one more time and say, “Yup it’s like this.” If they say “Nu-uh” one more time I say, “OK.”

I am following the Apostle Paul here, “if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.”

Although we are told to have “childlike faith,” this does not imply that we should be like kids. We are also told, “when I became a man I put away childish things.” Childlike faith is one thing, being a child in all things aint right.

There are people who like to argue doctrine and will argue every single doctrine all the time to everyone about everything. The best response is, “OK.”

There are certain doctrines that have some wiggle room. There are certain doctrines that are stepping stones to better doctrine, a phase that must be passed through. There are doctrines not worth fighting about.

Perhaps the better way to put it is: there are people not worth fighting with. Let the young believer hold some weird doctrine, knowing that they will grow. Bashing every point of doctrinal inquiry may ruin their faith.

Detect those people who argue about everything all the time and learn to remain silent. Let em go. They aren’t interested in what you are saying anyway, that’s why they can’t stop talking.

In Paul’s instructions to pastors, he several times mentions that pastors should not be people who argue and are quick to anger. “Strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.”

The best way to win doctrinal arguments is to avoid them and just go live your doctrine.

Confidence in what you believe is seldom demonstrated by arguing. True confidence is able to stand firm and not be shaken. Confidence in the truth does not result in emotional, verbose tirades and personal attacks.

All that being said, there is a time and a place to point out error and argue. It comes when your daughter repeatedly cuts the cereal bag instead of pulling it open and cuts it so low that whenever you pour a bowl of cereal half the cereal ends up in the box rather than the bag.

This is the torment I must live with. No man should be subjected to such things. This must be defeated NOW! This is a battle to be fought and won!

Choose wisely, my friends. Fight the right fight.

10 Characteristics of Sound Doctrine

Yesterday I encouraged you all to wear flannel in an effort to stick with sound theology, or something like that.

Anyway, what’s probably weird to some is that I would encourage people to stick with “sound theology” while there are those who don’t think I have “sound theology.”

What do we mean by the term “sound theology?” Problems arise when we use theological words that are not biblical words. When people talk about sound theology, I imagine what they mean is, “Theology that I agree with.”

There are many divisions in theology and not every one can be right. Am I suggesting that everyone’s theology must be in agreement with mine to be sound? Am I suggesting that I have never changed views on a theology?

“Theology” is a word that means “the systematic study of the existence and nature of the divine and its relationship to and influence upon other beings.” Theology is a general term referring to what you believe about God and how the impacts humanity.

A more precise term would be “doctrine,” which refers to the various pieces of a person’s theology. “Sound doctrine” is a biblical phrase. So, if I had to do it over again, I would have used “sound doctrine” yesterday rather than “sound theology.” But alas, yesterday is gone, and, according to my theology, it aint comin back.

“Sound” is a biblical word that means “healthy” or “uncorrupted.” “Doctrine” simply means “teaching.” The stuff we are taught, and the stuff we teach others, should be healthy. Again though, what do we mean by that? That everyone agrees with me or my Guy? Here are ten characteristics of sound doctrine:

1) It is centered on God’s Word. It is not a man-made philosophy that can be proved by a text here and there, but rather a conclusion based on the reading of the Word.

2) It has something to do with Christ. All doctrine, since it’s based on the Word, and Jesus Christ is the Word made flesh, must be consistent with the person of Christ. Sound doctrine is Christ-centered.

3) It is clearly not sin. Any doctrine that messes with the sinful nature of sin, is not sound. Sound doctrine will be clearly separate from sin.

4) It requires some work. Sound doctrine requires study, diligence and the efforts of a workman to be approved.

5) It isn’t always what you want to hear. Sound doctrine will offend you at some point, it will be foreign to your human desires. Sound doctrine is not scratching an itching ear, it will more than likely smack you upside the head rather than tickle your ear. Sound doctrine is hearing God, not hearing others soothe you about their opinions of God.

6) It is not novel. Yes, there have been advancements in theological understanding, any study of Church History will show you this. Sound doctrine, since it’s rooted in Scripture, will have it’s roots going way back all the way to Scripture. It is not centered in a person, but rather in the eternal Word of God.

7) It leads to good behavior. Although good behavior is not the means, it is the end of sound doctrine. If your doctrine leads you to a sinful, unholy life, then your doctrine is wrong, end of discussion. You will know them by their fruits.

8) It is consistent with the Gospel and the Law. Sound doctrine will fit hand in glove with the Gospel and will never, ever go against the law of God. The Law and the Gospel are two revelations of the same thing–the righteousness of God. They will both lead you to Christ and in Him is sound doctrine.

9) It is contrary to materialism. Sound doctrine does not come from people who want to make money off you. Nor does it come from people who want you to be rich so they can make more money off you. Sound doctrine comes from people who want you to go to heaven.

10) It is probably what I’m telling you. But don’t take my word for it, look it up!

Flannel Shirts and Sound Theology

I am wearing a flannel shirt over a t-shirt and wearing jeans right now. I’ve been wearing flannel shirts over a t-shirt with jeans on for about 37 years.

jeff2yrs

The reason why is because I remember seeing my dad wear flannel shirts over a t-shirt with jeans on.

dad

My grandpa used to wear that too.

jeffcraig

For a brief time in the 90’s I was cool when Kurt Cobain and his grunge mates from Seattle took over the music world. Suddenly I was at the peak of fashion. Flannel shirts were everywhere.

But then came all the electronicalized pop music that eliminated grunge music and flannel shirts went away. Skinny jeans and other abominations entered the scene. Never in my life would I be caught wearing such stuff.

I’m still sporting the flannel shirts. I’ll be sporting flannel shirts til the day I die. I like them. I imagine at some point in the next 20 years I will be at the peak of fashion again, only to be passed by again and remain in my flannel shirt.

Fashion is one of the dumbest things in the world. I have never gotten it and don’t imagine I ever will. I have heard many a female complain about how painful fashionable shoes are. That is the height of weird to me.

I wear what is comfortable. I care a little bit about what it looks like, but not enough to wear what looks good but hurts me.

I imagine this description of who I am is lame in many people’s eyes. One of those conservative white guys who “doesn’t get it.” Fine. So be it. Don’t care. I’m warm and comfy in my flannel.

Sound theology is like a flannel shirt. It’s warm and comfy and occasionally looks good and people will praise you for being in fashion every 30 years or so. But man will you look dumb when sound theology passes from fashion again.

Much of Christianity is fad driven. People would rather hold painfully blasphemous theology than be seen as “not getting it.” If you are a believer who desires to fit in, be careful.

Sound theology isn’t too tricky. It’s pretty straight forward. It’s not fad driven. People should have seen before what it is you believe. Always beware the movements that brag about “finding” a new “key” to everything.

More than likely they are recycling a heresy that was tried on hundreds of years ago. Don’t worry about it too much, it’ll pass and soon they’ll join you for a decade in sound theology.

Stick with flannel theology. Don’t feel the pressure to believe the latest cool theology. Just stick with the Word and let it teach you. You’ll be comfy and warm; who cares if you fit in!

If Ya Fake It, Ya Won’t Make It

Nelson Mandela had his memorial service this past week. I don’t know much about Mandela. He seems to be a guy with many sides.

Sign language became the hot item coming out of the memorial service. The official signer for the ceremony apparently did not know sign language. It wasn’t long into the ceremony that calls began coming in saying the signer wasn’t making any sense.

How this guy thought he was going to get away with this is beyond me. Fakeness is spotted fairly easily. As soon as people begin paying attention and scrutinizing what he was doing it became obvious he was a joke.

From what I’ve heard, this is not the first time this guy was an interpreter for something, so apparently his incompetence allowed him to get by for a short time. But then he got on the big stage and he was called out.

The fake signer has faced his Judgment Day! He has been called out. His signing career was built on sand. He looks like a fool now.

I wonder how many Christians are just skating, getting by, looking like they know what they are doing, going through the motions, and hoping no one pays attention to them and calls them out.

You can fool some people. Anyone who doesn’t know sign language was fooled. But anyone who knows sign language, anyone with some basic initiation, knew the guy was faking it.

I have a feeling there are many who skip out on church involvement, getting committed to a group of believers, for fear they will be found out.

Better to be a sign language “expert” at a convention of blind folk than to be found out.

There is a way to avoid the fear of being found out: be genuine.

“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates.”

Most of Life is Not In God’s Will

When it comes to God’s will, some believe that everything in your life is predetermined. Others believe nothing is predetermined. Others believe there are certain things predetermined and other things not so much.

What we can know about God’s will is that it will inevitably lead to argument.

It is my conviction that not everything that occurs on this earth is God’s will. All that is done is done under his Sovereign control, but I do not believe in what is called “meticulous determinism.” The idea that everything is God’s will and we have no choice in the matter.

“Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” is a request that makes no sense if God’s will is already being done all the time on earth.

To me, saying “all that happens is God’s will” is blasphemy, as it impugns the character of God, making Him the source of sin.

If I haul off and punch my wife, this was not God’s will; this was my stupid choice and I would expect to be judged by God for it. Punching one’s wife is a violation of any number of Biblical commands revealing what God’s will is.

There will be many shocked people in heaven who justified their stupidity by blaming it on God’s will, who will hear God say, “Um, I had nothing to do with that.”

Really? Are there things in this world God has nothing to do with? I think so. Everything I do out of selfish ambition and pride is all me and directly contrary to what God wanted me to do.

Many believe the open doors leading you to get that job, or that house, or that divorce was all God’s will because it went so smoothly.

I find this troubling.

Much of what we have physically God did not give you. Much of what you view as a blessing is actually a snare of the devil set to make you fall in your faith.

I’ve seen many a believer rejoice in God’s provision of a job, only to see them fall away from church, from Christian fellowship and fall into gross sin.

Doing God’s will is mutually exclusive from living a worldly lifestyle. Do not live for this earth and its lies and then rejoice that God opened the doors for you to pay off your mortgage 15 years early.

Do not tell me God opened the doors so you could have your dream home and put your family in debt for years and remove all ability to give to those in need.

Do not tell me God opened the doors so you could marry that hot chic who then takes you far from faith and drags you into the pit.

Do not blame God’s will and His door opening skills for your sin-filled life. Don’t do it. It won’t go well on Judgment Day, and not just because you never became a lumberjack.

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

My point in quoting this verse is that loving the stuff in this world, all the stuff you are lusting after and praising God for supposedly giving you, is the opposite of doing God’s will.

Think on it.

Determining God’s Will for Your Life

“Open” and “closed doors” are terms attempting to describe a person’s interaction with God’s will. We all assume we are Gideon-like with our dewy fleeces leading us in God’s pre-determined path.

Christians have a fear of falling out of God’s will for their life (mostly our concern is over temporal details rather than, like, sin, which is a violation of God’s will that seems to bother us not nearly as much).

They fear the consequences of marrying the wrong person even if they meet all biblical standards, moving to the wrong city, buying the wrong house, taking the wrong job. One false step and your life could be entirely off-course. One can hear God’s GPS in one’s head, “Recalculating.”

There seems no worse fear for a Christian than waking up in heaven to give an account for your years as a pastor, only to hear God say, “Hey, you were supposed to be a lumberjack. All that stuff you did was a waste. Did you not see the trees I put around you everywhere?”

Doh!

So, with this fear in mind, many a Christian has gone through life trying to determine God’s elusive will by using open and closed doors. If it works out; it must have been God’s will. If it didn’t work out; it must not have been His will.

All of this is quite tiresome.

I’ve spent many hours listening to Christian young people debate with themselves in a presumed conversation with me “what does God want me to do with my life?”

My answer is always the stock, “I have no idea.” Because, well, I have no idea what you should do with your life as far as spouse, job, residence, etc.

Here’s one thing I do know: we decrease; Christ increases. We die daily. We deny our self. We bear one another’s burdens. We love God and love our neighbor.

That’s it. If the person you want to marry will help you do this, then marry the person and get off your stupid foibles. If the proposed job will allow you to do this, then take the job. You can do this in any city.

As I said earlier, decision making for the Christian is simpler than for the non-Christian. Half of life has already been forbidden! What a relief! I no longer have to consider whether I should become a crack dealer. Shwew!

Your life aint all that central to anything. Relax. Get over yourself. Start thinking about someone else for a change, and keep your self-centered, naval gazing to a minimum.

How to Know Whether to Open Doors or Leave Them Closed

When it comes to figuring out what to do in life, Christians have it easy.

No really, we do.

I know it doesn’t seem that way. I know most Christians enjoy talking about “struggle” and “wrestling” and whatnot, but be not deceived. Most of the struggling and wrestling Christians talk about is merely emotional angst and pompous spiritual sounding words to make up for the fact they haven’t gotten off their duff to do anything spiritual in the last 15 years.

Oh sure, they are busy, busy, busy when it comes to the things of the world and they rarely ever miss a day of work or play. But for some reason, exerting effort and energy to do a spiritual deed is taboo.

There is an obvious reason for this: People are lazy bums.

Christians are no exceptions. In fact, Christians, rather than applying effort to do good stuff, have actually applied significant effort in proving why we don’t have to do good stuff.

We’re busy “letting go” and “letting God.”

These are fine sounding words, but the upshot of them is that Christians don’t do jack squat.

Life is easy for the believer because we have God’s Word. God’s Word single-handedly eliminates most options for your life right off the bat. If you truly eliminated evil and sin from your life, you’d have quite a bit of free time.

Seriously, imagine how easy a life lived to serve the Lord and not your flesh would be! No covetousness or striving after stuff. No raunchy entertainment that distracts from what is eternal and good. No people problems cuz you just go ahead and forgive people, show grace and get over it.

Yup, life is pretty simple for the Christian. But you won’t hear anyone tell ya this because seriously, who actually believes that doing what God says is a viable option for life anyway?

Shyah.

So, here’s a little advice to help you make decisions in life:

If a door you open will lead to sin: don’t open it.
If a door you open will lead you to follow Christ: open it.
If a door you open will compromise your faith: don’t open it.
If a door you open may result in tribulation that strengthens faith: by all means, open that door.
If a door you open will lead you to ruin someone’s faith: don’t open it.
If a door you open will help someone: open the door.

See, it’s quite simple really! When it comes to what car you drive, what house you buy, what person you marry, what town you move to, etc. here’s my advice: chill.

In the end, choose what will help your faith and other’s faith. That’s it. Think of eternity, not your wallet, not your plans and goals, not your dreams and pursuit of happiness.

Nope, chuck all that. Simply do what is right. If you can open a door that will lead you to doing what is right: then open the door. If not, keep it closed and stay away from it. Any other door is a door not worth worrying about.

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, DO: and the God of peace shall be with you.

What to do When God Isn’t Opening Your Door

Speaking of open doors, Sunday night my children did something to the doorknob on our bathroom door, preventing a person from being able to exit the bathroom. Although I didn’t mind this for a few hours, I began to get hungry.

I unscrewed the old doorknob, leaving a hole in the bathroom door where a new doorknob can be installed. I was going to pick one up Monday morning, but one thing lead to another and alas, we still have no doorknob on our bathroom door.

I do not know what children do to doorknobs, but this is the second time they have ruined a doorknob on our bathroom door. And, yes, it is my fatherly judgment that it is entirely their fault. It is my right, nay, duty as a father to conclude such things.

There are many times in life where doors don’t open, when it appears as though all roads leading to your destination are closed. Perhaps God doesn’t want me to go there.

Christians have a way of making perseverance a “God thing” rather than a thing we should concern ourselves with.

Perseverance of the saints is believed by many to be entirely up to God to do. Although I sincerely believe God is the life-source of spiritual life, I believe the Bible makes it clear we have an obligation to do some stuff to stay alive, too.

Paul says we are to “continue in the faith.” In fact, he says it three times. Paul says we run the race, we fight the fight, we die daily, and many other effort-enducing commands. Hebrews tells us to lay aside everything that hinders and press on to the finish.

Paul often uses words about vigorous athletic activity. He uses many words about work and labor. There is considerable effort involved in the Christian life.

All too often, however, as soon as life gets tough, the Christian will quit and safely conclude, “Well, I guess it’s not God’s will that I do that then.” Or, “I just don’t feel lead to do that anymore.”

Gag.

In reality, you might just be a lazy wimp!

It’s an option worth considering.

There may be a reason your door aint opening. It might be someone else’s fault even. But guess what? It’s your door. Fix it. Get to work. Make the thing open. Don’t wimp out.

 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

I Would Like to Shut the Mouths of Those Who Speak of “Open Doors”

Not sure how many people know this, but Christians typically make no sense.

This is mostly because no one has any idea exactly what we mean by the jargon we use.

This is also because, for the most part, our jargon has an origin in Scripture, we just never actually use it the way Scripture does.

“God just opened a door and we were able to sell our house and everything worked out.” Is a typical example of some Christian nonsensical jargon.

Open doors have taken on a life of their own for Christians. The concept of an open door is biblical. Paul uses it three times:

  1. 1 Corinthians 16:9
    For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.
  2. 2 Corinthians 2:12
    Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,
  3. Colossians 4:3
    Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:

As far as I can tell, these are the passages this phrase originates from. There are examples of doors opening in the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation, but not sure they have anything to do with how people use this phrase.

In each example above we see that the “open door” has to do with a ministry opportunity. Paul has some people he’d like to go teach and wants to be available for the opportunity that arises.

Mostly Christians use this phrase to talk about how God made something easy for them–selling a house, buying a car after an accident, getting a job, finding a woman dumb enough to marry you, etc.

Generally, open doors are seen when everything goes really smooth. What was supposed to be hard was made simple. Really? Is the easiness of a thing the proof that God was involved? Ask Job or Jeremiah or Ezekiel or Jesus or Paul or Stephen or Moses or Joseph about that one.

How many parents would tell their kids, “Make sure you only do what is easy in life, son. When things are easy, you know God is involved.”

Tribulation works patience, patience experience and experience hope. The Bible can’t stop talking about suffering, trials, tribulation and weakness, yet Christians speak as though easiness is the prime indicator of divineness.

We are dumb.

Note the first verse quoted above, “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.” !!!

The door opens Paul into a situation where there are many adversaries! Hello! Even when the Bible does use the phrase, it does not imply ease and simplicity.

Life is tough. Get used to it. God told us to “fight the fight of faith;” He never said “Tiptoe through the tulips of faith.”

Selling your one house on time to buy another house is indeed a fine thing when it goes smoothly, but it is no indicator that God had anything to do with it. Donald Trump seems to do it quite well.

People Who Get Mad at Pastors Are Generally People Who Get Mad at Pastors

Here’s another of Aesop’s Fables illustrating some Christianity:

A MAN had two Gamecocks in his poultry-yard. One day by chance he found a tame Partridge for sale. He purchased it and brought it home to be reared with his Gamecocks. When the Partridge was put into the poultry-yard, they struck at it and followed it about, so that the Partridge became grievously troubled and supposed that he was thus evilly treated because he was a stranger.

Not long afterwards he saw the Cocks fighting together and not separating before one had well beaten the other. He then said to himself, “I shall no longer distress myself at being struck at by these Gamecocks, when I see that they cannot even refrain from quarreling with each other.”

When I first became a pastor and had people get mad at me and leave in a huff, I took it personally. I felt I had let them down. I should have done more. It was my fault.

I took it hard that it must be my faults that drove them from church.

After sticking with the church through this, and now with hindsight and many more people who left ungraciously, I now know it had little to do with me.

(Many have left respectfully as well and there were also times when I was at fault. I am speaking to the instances where people flip out and leave angry over some indiscernible something that happened sometime.)

People who have problems with you generally have problems with everyone else too. Few people who vehemently leave churches in a huff only do it once. Generally their huffiness leads them to be huffy elsewhere. If they haven’t put on a show in more than one church already, they will.

Take heart: jerks are jerks whether you are near them or not.

If a jerk falls in the forest and no one is there to hear him, he’s still a jerk.

One of Heaven’s Glories–I Won’t Have to Listen to Your Stupid Opinions Anymore

Speaking of opinions shared on social networking sites, I once got in an argument (no I did, for real, trust me), with someone on Facebook about opinions.

This person said, “One thing I will love about heaven is that there will be so many people believing all sorts of things there, and we’ll be together in unity.”

I said something like, “One of the main reasons I will enjoy heaven is because people will all believe the same thing and there will be nothing to argue about.”

They said, “That’s not what heaven is like you big jerk. There will be people in heaven who don’t believe what you do, you moronic pizza faced dorkwad.”

I don’t think I commented after that.

There is this notion that diversity somehow has value. That there are many roads and we’re all on a journey and no one really knows the truth and God is like, totally cool with this.

I disagree. It’s fascinating that my disagreement on this point raises such hostility! Irony is delicious.

Listen up: Everyone in heaven will agree with me!

Got that? It’s an important point. The reason everyone will agree with me in heaven is because I will agree with everyone in heaven!

“And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord.”

This is my favorite verse about eternity! We won’t need to be taught; we’ll all know! No one will know more than another person, from the least to the greatest, they will all know the same.

This means: No arguments. No disagreements. No hurt feelings. No editorials. No condemning speeches from know-it-alls. No opinions.

We’ll all know the same thing and this will be beautiful. I sincerely cannot wait.

Opinions, Cheesecake, and God’s Word

The problem with opinions is that there is no certainty. Opinions, at best, are your best guess. Therefore, there is no solid ground to stand on.

The beauty of truth is that it’s solid. Truth is the way it is, and there is no other way. Opinions leave you on sandy, shifting ground.

Opinions can be changed quite easily. Opinions are typically based on experience, so when you get more experience, or perhaps a different experience, your opinion changes.

Sometimes you are caught in a middle ground where you could go, as we say, “either way.” Kind of like cheesecake.

I could go either way on cheesecake. The last couple cheesecakes I’ve had were pretty good, but the vast number of cheesecakes I have had in my life were disgusting (I recently discovered that the best cheesecake I have ever eaten in my life is actually a tort). I could go either way. My opinion is divided on cheesecakes.

Elijah spoke to the people of Israel who were stuck in between a desire to worship God and a desire to worship Baal. They were at a point in history where things were bad, but not all that bad, just the beginning of Israel’s downfall, and when it came to worship, their experience told them they could go “either way.”

So they did. And Elijah said to them, “How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.”

Israel was the prototypical double-minded man who is unstable in all his ways. If I can go “either way” on cheesecakes, do I eat the next cheesecake I am offered? I don’t know, maybe.

There is no certainty there. We need the truth about cheesecakes, just like Israel needed the truth about what God to worship. To be a person who lives on opinions is to be tossed about to and fro with every wind of doctrine.

There is no stability, no truth, no safe harbor, no solid ground to stand on. Opinions are dangerous. Opinions should be avoided when truth can be readily had. Dig down to the solid rock of God’s Word, which requires time, effort, and patience. Resist the urge to throw up a shack on any empty spot of land. Do the work to know the truth.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” When you do the work, you won’t be ashamed; if you go with the latest opinion, be ready to look like an idiot.

Nine Facts About Opinions

Opinions are often best kept to yourself. Opinions can be very insulting.

Social media has made it very easy for people to share their opinions, most of which should have been held under lock and key. But instead we share them as though it is our right to pontificate about the problems of others. People get ticked off in the swapping of opinions and not much for unity has been accomplished.

Opinions are dangerous. Opinions can hurt people.

Love is patient and kind and thinks no evil, yet most people’s opinions are based on cynicism and a skepticism that sees evil everywhere.

Opinions are insensitive. Opinions are easier to share than money.

When people come to you and share their problems, generally we get busy telling them our opinions of those problems and our opinions on how those people could solve their problems. We don’t do anything to help, of course. “Well, hello! If they listened to me they would be helped.” Undoubtedly, then they’d have a swell life like yours then.

Opinions divide. Opinions do little to promote unity.

The only time people are united by their opinions is if their opinions agree. Then they only hang with people who have those opinions, so none of them have to deal with, like, truth and whatnot. After a while, since everyone around us has our opinions, we can safely assume our opinions are actually truth.

Opinions are us playing God. Opinions are our desire to be the originator of truth.

There is a reason God tells people to do everything by prayer and supplication–you’re supposed to talk to God about your problems and He can give you, not an opinion, but the truth on that problem, which can then actually help you. Most people desire to help you so they can look right and you can look stupid.

Opinions are typically uninformed. Opinions are the same thing as judgment.

Job suffered and his friends gathered to tell him what an awful person he was. They shared one opinion after another about Job’s sorry lot in life. None of them were right, but they all felt right in their high and mighty judgmental opinions. As Elihu said to Job, “I will answer also my part, I also will shew mine opinion.” O, goody, goody!

Opinions come from people who have no control over their mouth.

“Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.”

Opinions come from people who think they are right.

The only reason you open your mouth to share an opinion is because you think you are right. Boy howdy, wouldn’t the world be grand if you called the shots?

Be still, and know that I am God.”

“Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God.”

Opinions lack faith

Your notion that you can actually understand other people’s problems and can also fix them is a gross misunderstanding of who you are in light of God’s Word. “That which is crooked cannot be made straight.” Yet you would have us believe that you are God’s gifted straightener to our planet. When we rely on ourselves and our own understanding, we chuck God, His Word and that little thing called “faith.”

Opinions Run the Church Not God’s Word

Church is filled with things that are based on people’s opinions rather than God’s Word.

There are things churches do that have no foundation in Scripture at all, yet most churches do these things and think they are serving the Lord in doing so.

Churches build buildings and spend much time and money on them, often proving their ministry success by their building size, even though there is no instruction at all for churches to have buildings.

Yes, there is a temple in the OT, but God resided there, it was the house of God. People are the temple and the dwelling place of the Spirit now, as the NT makes clear.

Yet we continue to buy up land and build large buildings and waste money and convince our youth that cleaning the church bathroom is “serving the Lord,” when in reality it is just doing a job the pastor is tired of doing.

Churches continue to spend big money on having youth programs and dividing the younger from the older. For most churches, the youth programs are the huge selling point to draw in more people.

Yet there is no instruction, at all, whatsoever, in the Bible about teaching youth separately. Yet we continue to do it and make sure we “get the young families” and keep them coming with more exciting programs for their kids.

We beg and cajole people into working with youth at church and tell them what a neat opportunity it is to “serve the Lord” by working with youth that no one in their right mind would work with. Hey, even the parents aren’t training their youth.

On and on it goes. We do all manner of things convincing ourselves we are serving the Lord when the Lord never told us to do most of this stuff.

The higher irony is that we do little of what the Bible actually tells us to do–we can’t–we’re too busy doing all the stuff we invented.

It would be funny if it weren’t so sad and a depressing reliving of biblical history. As Jesus told the Jewish religious leaders, “For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men.”

I imagine He’d have a similar message for us today.

IMHO And God’s Word

It is difficult not to have an opinion. Even when people say, “I have no opinion on that,” they usually go ahead and give you their opinion on that.

Opinions are the way we feel about a subject. It’s our examination of the facts as we see them, and how we understand those facts, mixed in with whether we like the results of our understanding or not.

I have seen many people come to the Bible with the idea that it contains God’s opinions, or perhaps just the writer’s opinions. But God’s Word claims to be truth.

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” This is an interesting verse. Sanctification can’t happen apart from God’s Word, so if you think God’s Word is just opinions and not truth, it will cut your sanctification.

Not only is God’s Word true, I think this verse is going further and saying that God’s Word IS Truth. In other words, there is no other truth besides what God says.

God’s Word doesn’t just contain truth; it IS Truth.

John 1 describes Jesus Christ as being “the word.” If Jesus is “the Word,” we must be careful how we deal with the word. Jesus went on to say, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” God’s Word IS Truth.

If you think God’s Word is opinion and not truth, then you are messing with the person of Christ and are now in deep water.

So, whether it’s women keeping silence in the church, the doctrine of hell or any other subject people have “opinions” on, we need to go with what God’s Word says. These topics may be hard to deal with, they may be insulting, but I can guarantee you they are not the opinions of the writers–they are truth.

When we begin to critique the truth, to have our opinions have more say than the truth, our churches will divide, our spiritual growth will be immature, our reliance on the Word and the Spirit will decrease, and we will become our own judge, which is real fun for a short time.

Judgment Day will put an end to the fun for eternity.

God’s Word IS Truth. Imagine if we acted like that were true?