Moral Chimps, Sort Of, Not Really, But Still

Perhaps you saw this story the other day:

Chimpanzees can tell right from wrong: Apes’ reactions to violent video footage may give clues to how human morality evolved

Whenever evolution stories are reported on, know that the headline has almost next to nothing to do with actual findings. Also note that when a topic is covered and always appears that they’re trying too hard, something is amiss.

Bottom line: if you read the article and the actual findings, chimps have no concept of right and wrong. Here’s an analysis of the findings.

It is somewhat ironic that as our culture increasingly decides morality is nothing but bondage, we feel a need to make animals moral.

Animals aren’t moral. They do not know right and wrong. Animals may have instincts that appear moral, but they are not guided by morality, they are guided by instinct.

God has put his law in our hearts, all people have a sense of God’s right and wrong. All people have a conscience, a thing in their brain that bugs them when they do wrong, sometimes shown by guilt, sometimes by brazen flaunting.

Animals can’t violate morality, carry guilt. If they did, they would need forgiveness and thus an animal messiah to save them. Animals are breathing piles of dirt just like people. The main difference is in our morality, conscience, will, and intellect.

Gun Control and Baptism

I saw this on the internets the other day about the Charleston Shooting:

“Gun control is a legislative placebo deceiving people who think “feeling” safe actually means they are safe.”

I think that expresses well the issue of legislation in general. People want a feeling. Even if people were totally safe, if they didn’t feel they were, they would conclude they were not safe. For instance: my wife with spiders.

I heard once that a car company made a car shift with no noise. You couldn’t tell the car upshifted or downshifted. It was so smooth, people thought there was something wrong with the transmission.

The car maker redesigned the transmission so that it would make a noise and a lurch to let people know it shifted. People don’t just want to shift; they want to feel like they shifted.

People are really weird.

But this whole thing has eternal ramifications as well. People want to feel like they are saved, whether they are or not.

Baptism is Gun Control Legislation. I may not be saved at all, but at least now I feel like I am. Saying the prayer, going to church, having quiet time, whatever your thing is that gives you that “saved feeling,” might just be guaranteeing your spot in hell.

But hey, at least I feel saved now!

Unfortunately, not only do we do this nonsense with ourselves, we apply it to others. We tell our kids they are saved because they did that thing that makes us feel like they are saved.

We tell the doubting person at church “I know you’re saved, I was at your baptism!” We shuffle people’s doubts under the rug and maintain our feelings.

In the end, your feelings are probably the worst possible guide on any given subject. Feelings might help, but they are not all we make judgments by.

So, which would you rather have: salvation or the feeling of being saved?

Many people have decidedly chosen the feeling.

It’s possible to have both, this is true. I can guarantee, however, that hell is filled with people that, until they ended up there, felt saved.

Joel Osteen’s Self Help Talk Heckled

Joel Osteen’s “church” was interrupted six times be hecklers yesterday. These hecklers were apparently from another church in a coordinated effort!

The first interruption was right when Osteen began his self-help talk when a heckler yelled “Joel Osteen, you’re a liar.” Can’t argue there.

Not sure heckling is the best approach to opposing Mr. Osteen, nor, based on the recent shooting in another church, was the timing very good.

But hey, you can’t fault people for trying, or can you? I guess you could. Better them than me, but quite frankly, good for them!

Why Bible Passages Are Ignored

As I observe Christianity, I notice that most Christian disagreements are based on what passages of Scripture to ignore.

Every believer ignores, or at least downplays the importance of, various passages of Scripture. There is no agreement on which passages to ignore per se.

For instance, some believers ignore the Sermon on the Mount as being for some other age. Other believers, while holding to the Sermon on the Mount, reject Paul’s teaching about women.

However, there is agreement on what kinds of passages to ignore!

What I mean is: while some ignore the Sermon on the Mount and others ignore Paul’s teachings about women, both are ignoring passages they don’t want to do!

Yes, they disagree as to specific passages, but they agree that they don’t want to do certain things God said! The passages we ignore tend to be the passages that tell us to obey things we don’t want to do.

I find this fascinating!

People throw out James because James is perhaps the most practical book of the New Testament. Verse after verse about how to live and what we are to do. People don’t want to hear that, so just throw out the whole book.

People throw out the Sermon on the Mount because it’s just stuff we’re supposed to do. It’s not just any stuff to do, it’s impossible stuff to do! Stuff that would totally ruin my enjoyment of life, so throw it out!

Paul tells women to be quiet in church and to honor their husbands. Seriously? And don’t even bring up head coverings. We don’t want to do that, so throw it out!

Oh I know, I know, it’s “cultural” and we’ve progressed past that stuff. I know.

I wonder if culturally we’ve progressed passed the Gospel too? How would we know this? What if God decided not to do what He said because we decided not to do what He said?

“But God wouldn’t do that, the Bible says God doesn’t change,” you protest.

I know, but how can you trust that? If other things in there no longer mean what they say, what’s to say God won’t change? What if God just said He didn’t change because that’s what the culture at the time needed to hear?

We need to be careful playing the game of deciding what passages God meant and what ones He didn’t mean. We need to be careful about being God’s judge. We need to be careful not to be the Bible’s editor.

Yes, there are changes in some of God’s dealings with people (the Bible explains what those are, for instance the book of Hebrews is all about changes between the Old and New Covenant), but there is also a very consistent continuity. God wants people to listen to Him, whether you like that or not. Ignoring what God said doesn’t mean He didn’t say it.

Victorious Living is a Crock

Lots of Christians talk about “Victorious Living!” There’s always an exclamation point. I can’t help but think of nicely tanned, white-toothed, smiley preachers when I hear this phrase.

“Victorious Living!” is a phrase that has come to represent the Christian self-help movement. It means that with Jesus all your wildest dreams will come true. Jesus is the ultimate self-help guru who died so you could be successful.

Victorious Living! is a crock. Find me a verse that talks about Victorious Living.

You won’t find one. In fact, what you will find is when the Bible brings up victory, its context is usually about death.

The Greek word for victory is nikos, from which the shoe company Nike gets its name. There are only a few passages that talk about victory and us.

1 Corinthians 15:54-57, “thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
See, right there, Jeff, he talks about how we have the victory! Yeah, I know. And the context is all about death and resurrection. The victory doesn’t come in this life; the victory is resurrection, which comes after dying. In this life we have tribulation and then we die. Victory is later, after we leave this world.

1 John 5:1-4, “this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”
See, right there, Jeff, we have victory! Yeah, I know. Are you sure you want this victory though? The victory is our faith, and you want to know what John means by faith? Read the three verses before this phrase–the victory is obeying the commands of God. If that’s what you mean by Victorious Living!, then fine, I’m with ya! But I’ve never heard anyone sum up Victorious Living! with “obey God’s commands.”

Romans 8:35-37, “we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
See, right there, Jeff, we conquer! Yeah, I know. Again, read the context–we are sheep for the slaughter, killed all day long. No amount of suffering can separate us from God. Again, the victory is in the next life, not in this one. In this life we might get tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword. But in the next one we enjoy victory.

That is nikos and you–Life sucks and then you die; so obey God. Need an expansion on this point? Read Ecclesiastes.

None of the suckage of life can remove you from God or from His love in Christ. That helps us push through the suckage. But the suckage is here, especially if you’re doing faith right. This is a very consistent theme of the New Testament.

In fact, the one church that sounds the most like they have Victorious Living! (“we reign as kings, we are wise, strong and honorable“) is the church of Corinth! The one church the New Testament has the biggest problem with!

The next biggest problem the NT has with a church is Laodicea, who thought they were rich, increased with goods, and had need of nothing! If you think you’re winning down here, the NT says you’re probably in the worst place possible.

Hebrews 11 is all about suffering people who lived for the next life. That is what faith is all about. Looking at the things that are not seen because the things that are seen are temporal. Living for the better country to come, not our best life now.

Avoid the Bible and all your fleshly dreams can come true.

Come to the Bible and all your dreams will be destroyed, your flesh life will be ruined as you take up your cross and die with Christ, being crucified to the world and the world to you, with all your affections and lusts being crucified, which results in godly living that always leads to persecution, and then, AFTER ALL THAT, comes your victorious life in heaven.

For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

The Doing of Relationships

Ask any kid who has been to Sunday School, or youth programs, or even just church, what the point of Christianity is and they’ll no doubt say, “We’re supposed to be good.”

I’ve heard kids say this many times. Right after they say this, adults begin to correct them. “No Johnny, it’s not about being good, it’s about a relationship with Jesus.” Then we launch into a dissertation about “It’s not a religion; it’s a relationship.”

Of course, Johnny has no idea what you’re talking about. Examine every relationship Johnny has with anyone as a kid:

–Johnny’s relationship with parents: Johnny is to obey his mother and father
–Johnny’s relationship with his siblings: Johnny is to be nice to his brother and sister.
–Johnny’s relationship with his teachers: Johnny is to sit quiet, listen, and do what the teacher says.
–Johnny’s relationship with his coach: Johnny is supposed to listen to his coach and do what he says or else his team will lose.

The essence of relationship is doing something for another person. If you don’t think so, you’re probably a very lonely person.

Examine the relationships that God uses to describe our relationship to Him:

children to a Father
slaves to a Master
citizens to a King
wife to a Husband

In each relationship that God uses metaphorically to explain our relation to Him, we are the subservient one. We are the ones who obey Him.

Granted, no one wants to hear this. Not many wives even want to hear “obey your husband.” We bristle at being called slaves. We rip on our government leaders all the time, so God being King has lost its luster too. Kids rarely obey their parents, nor do their parents make them obey.

All of this is falling apart in our world, so it only makes sense that the world’s influence has convinced Christians that obedience to God is also optional.

But it isn’t. Even if you believe obedience to God is optional, something nice to do but not required, that doesn’t mean it’s true!

The first step is to make sure there is a relationship there. You must be born again. You must be a resident of the King’s country. Married to a new Bridegroom. Child of a heavenly Father. Released from slavery to sin to be a slave to a new Master.

Second, you then begin to fulfill your role. Salvation comes before obedience. It has to. We’re saved by faith. Faith then lives by hearing God.

If your theology does not include obedience to God, your theology is wrong. If your theology only includes obedience and has no place for mercy, no place for explaining all who God is, then your theology is also wrong.

The Bible is a large book and contains a lot of information. He wrote it for a reason. He wants you to know and obey all that He said to you.

If you don’t like obeying Him, then you’re not related to Him.

Your Flesh can take any Doctrine and Lead You Into Sin

“The ironic thing about legalism is that it not only doesn’t make people work harder, it makes them give up.  Moralism doesn’t produce morality; rather it produces immorality.”

Tullian Tchividian is the name of the guy who said this. He is the grandson of Billy Graham and pastor of Coral Ridge Church.

Or rather, WAS the pastor of Coral Ridge Church. This past week he resigned from his position as pastor because he was having an affair, after his wife admitted her own affair on him.

Read the quote again in light of that last paragraph.

Here’s the thing: Tullian has a very grace oriented gospel. He has been charged as being antinomian over and over, and it is quite easy to jump on his doctrine in this time. Pretty easy assignment.

Yes, I do think his theology is messed up. Yes, I do think his view of Christian living contributed to his moral failing.

But let me also say: your flesh is pretty good at falling into immorality. Legalism makes people wig out and fail morally. I’ve seen it many times. Legalism does make you give up.

People then flip out to a hyper-grace view and teach that we can do whatever we want because Jesus loves us. This view of things also feeds your flesh to fail morally.

The New Testament continually tells us to do good. We are told over and over to fight off sin and flee youthful lusts. We are told to wake up and follow righteousness, to come out from among them, and be righteous.

Legalism often leaves us with no hope. Legalism is discouraging and frequently gives very little doctrinal basis for action. It’s simply be good for goodness sake.

Hyper-grace often leaves us with no call to do better. Hyper-grace basically makes life pointless and my behavior irrelevant. Being good has little to do with anything.

It is my opinion based on many years of studying the Bible and dealing with actual human beings (including myself), that true Christian living is living by faith. Living by obeying what God says.

It’s not simply be good cuz God said so. Although He did say to be good, He said lots of other stuff about how and why to do good. He teaches you all that God has done for you to make goodness a possibility, as well as teaching proper motivation for doing good. God filled the New Testament with encouragement to do good works.

Sound Christianity is based on everything God said, not just your favorite parts of what He said.

At no point does the believer stop and say, “Ah hah! I’ve got it all figured out now! I’m good to go.” Nope. The Bible kicks us in the pants over and over. Anyone who thinks he stands, take heed lest he falls.

Tullian thought he was standing firm on the finished work of Christ, while he was having an affair. This is not a screed against Tullian. This is a warning to all believers: Take heed lest ye fall.

We live by faith. Fight the fight of faith.

Entertaining Angels Unawares

When I was a child my father would say things in a funny voice. For instance, instead of saying “underwear” he would say it more like “unawears.”

So, when I would be packing to go overnight somewhere he would say, “did you pack clean unawears?”

Well, one day at church, my dad was speaking in Hebrews 13 and he read verse two, which says, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Immediately I turned to my mother and said “they entertained angel’s underwear?”

My mother began trying to stifle a church laugh, the lady in front of us heard me as well and began laughing. I was merely confused about what I was supposed to do with angel’s underwear. I didn’t even know angels wore underwear.

I learned a lot in church that day.

I was reminded of this incident as I was preparing my sermon on Hebrews 13 last week. I did not bring it up during the sermon as it would not have been edifying at the time, merely a distraction. Let it be noted for the record: I used restraint.

Entertaining angels while not knowing it, is something that happened to Abraham, Lot, Gideon, and Menoah. Jewish people would be familiar with these guys and would know what the writer of Hebrews was getting at.

This does not mean that every time you see a stranger it’s an angel. Not does it mean you should necessarily expect an angelic visit. Angel visits were not normative. Four guys had it happen to them. But it did happen!

Imagine how your view of strangers would change if you assumed they were angels?! Wal-Mart might just be filled with angels! Act accordingly. And get some clean unawears while you’re at it.

Additional Note: this same word caused me some confusion in Jude 1:4 as well. An equally hilarious verse when mispronouncing “underwear!”

The NBA and Jesus

There are two stories about Christianity involving NBA players.

The first is from the Muslim Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who railed on the Prosperity Gospel in a Time Magazine interview. Among other things, he said:

“Like the professional pardoners of the Middle Ages who pedaled indulgences to the highest bidders, they pervert teachings for profit. These are the people that the word shame was invented to describe. . .

“According to the purveyors of prosperity gospel, your friends and neighbors will know how righteous you are by the size of your bank account and the make of your car. . .

Adbul-Jabbar pointed to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus said, “Tend to what is permanent (the soul) over what is temporary (material goods).”
“Yet, those pimping the prosperity gospel are preaching the opposite.”

I would whole-heartedly agree this critique.

At the same time, Andre Iguodala of the NBA champs Golden State Warriors, had this to say about God:

The player said he credits the team’s success to God.  In an interview after the Warriors’ win, Iguodala said, “We got a team full of believers. We all go to chapel before every game. We all believe and we all say God has a way for you—a purpose for you. This is my purpose.”

“When people see us on the court, we want them to see God’s work. We want to be a good representation of what we believe in. When you go out there, you’re not just representing your country or the NBA, you’re representing your beliefs. You want to play hard for Someone who died for you.”

As much as I appreciate good guys succeeding, these kinds of quotes always make me cringe.

Believers are to do all things heartily as unto the Lord. We are supposed to be concerned with how our performance in what we do reflects our faith and the Gospel. I applaud that.

However, chalking up a team’s success to God is pretty close to the teaching of the Prosperity Gospel–your righteousness will be displayed by earthly success, whether that’s money or wins.

I wonder when Iguodala mocked Lebron James’ injuries on the court if that was why God rewarded them. Making such “God statements” means people will critique everything you do.

Yes, we need to do our job well, and players on Golden State appear to be good guys. But mouths should be stopped with humility. There is a fine line between crediting God and being arrogant about your awesome faith. Tread the line carefully.

John Wesley quote: A Man of One Book

TO candid, reasonable men, I am not afraid to lay open what have been the inmost thoughts of my heart. I have thought, I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God: just hovering over the great gulf; till, a few moments hence, I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity!

I want to know one thing,—the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach me the way. For this very end He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be homo unius libri.

Here then I am, far from the busy ways of men. I sit down alone; only God is here. In His presence I open, I read His book; for this end, to find the way to heaven. Is there a doubt concerning the meaning of what I read? Does anything appear dark or intricate? I lift up my heart to the Father of Lights:—“Lord, is it not Thy word, ‘if any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God?’ Thou givest liberally, and upbraidest not. Thou hast said, ‘if any be willing to do Thy will, he shall know.’ I am willing to do, let me know Thy will.”

I then search after and consider parallel passages of Scripture, “comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” I meditate thereon with all the attention and earnestness of which my mind is capable. If any doubt still remains, I consult those who are experienced in the things of God: and then the writings whereby, being dead, they yet speak. And what I thus learn, that I teach.

–John Wesley

Atheists and God Judging Evil

Atheism has two big problems with God: one based on experience, the other based on biblical revelation.

The argument from experience goes like this:
If there is a God, why does He allow so much evil? Why doesn’t He step in and do something when nine people are shot up in a church? Bad things happen, and they even happen to people who claim to be His. Why do bad things happen to good people and God does nothing? Because there is no God.

For example, Richard Dawkins says:
“In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”

Since nothing happens to make justice, there must not be a god.

The argument from biblical revelation goes like this:
The God of the Bible is constantly judging people. He even wipes out foreigners, women and children. God seems to get much glee out of judging people He doesn’t like, as He has deemed them all to be bad. How can anyone worship a God so angry at people who aren’t listening to Him? This is not a god worth worshiping.

Richard Dawkins again:
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Since the God of the Bible is more evil than I am, I will not worship Him.

Now, here’s the thing. Richard Dawkins is one guy who has two problems with God
1) God doesn’t judge evil enough
2) God judges evil too much

Unfortunately for Dawkins, and others who use both these arguments, you can’t have it both ways. Either God judges evil too much or He doesn’t. But you can’t criticize God for not judging while criticizing Him for judging.

This is not logically consistent. It seems to me Dawkins is determined to not like God no matter what God does. If that is the case, that’s fine, but at least recognize that you are the one with the problem, not God.

He Sees You When You go to Church

Some churches are very concerned about your attendance. Some are apparently hyperly-concerned and have begun to use facial recognition software to keep track!

I find this amazing.

Using a church’s video cameras, it can identify who is coming. Who cares?

I mean seriously, if you don’t actively care enough to know who is there in person, what is spying on people going to do?

This is obviously a tool for mega-churches, I understand that, but still, seriously, what is done with this information?

If I went to one of these churches I would wear a hooded sweatshirt just to mess with whoever it is keeping track. Either that or sneak out and come back in 15 times.

I don’t know people. I don’t think I belong here.

Americans Don’t Trust Anyone and That Aint All Bad

According to a new Gallup Poll, Americans hardly trust any institutions anymore:

Only 8 percent have confidence in Congress, down by 16 points from a long-term average of 24 percent

Thirty-three percent have confidence in the presidency, a drop from a historical average of 43 percent.

Thirty-two percent have confidence in the Supreme Court, down from 44.

Twenty-eight percent have confidence in banks, down from 40 percent.

Twenty-one percent have confidence in big business, down from 24 percent.

Twenty-four percent have confidence in organized labor, down from 26.

Twenty-four percent have confidence in newspapers, down from 32 percent.

Twenty-one percent have confidence in television news, down from 30 percent.

The only exceptions are the military and small business, which both gained trust.

All in all, doubting institutions is a fine thing. I don’t mind that at all. Institutions tend to abuse power.

Unfortunately, all you have left after institutions are individuals. Quite frankly, the only reason I don’t trust institutions is because they are made up of individuals whom I do not trust!

Not putting trust in man is a biblical concept. However, our society is still trusting men, just not men in institutions. The Bible’s answer is to not trust men but rather put your trust in God.

We’ve got the first part down, here’s hoping the second part picks up.

Except I have no confidence in man that this will occur.

Some Advice on Giving Advice

What I wouldn’t give for just one more person in my life willing to give me health advice.

There was so much sarcasm in that opening sentence, I’m surprised the internet can hold it up.

That’s fantastic that you are healthy. It’s great that you feel alive and young and stuff. It’s great that you care enough about me to want me to feel young and alive and stuff. It’s all great.

Great, great, great.

But I’m done now.

I’m especially done with your advice if you weigh more than I do, have been to the doctor more than me in the last two years (which would be zero), have run fewer miles than me in the last week (25), or have taken more medication than me in the last week (zero).

It’s one of my theories that people who give me unsolicited advice on health merely do so to compensate for their own unhealthiness. I am amazed at how many people who weigh more than me give me diet advice. Seriously? Do I look like I need diet advice? No, no I do not.

Another possible reason for constantly sharing health advice is so they can brag about how healthy they are. Since no one cares about your healthy diet enough to ask you about it, you must foist it upon others in the form of “advice.”

Which leads me to advice giving Christians.

Christians who are quick with advice (just read your Bible. Just pray. Just throw away that doubt and just believe.) are also either compensating for lack of spiritual health, or trying to brag about their latest spiritual triumph.

As the old quote goes, “The loudest wagon is the empty wagon.” Most of the time people give advice to make them appear to be knowledgeable on the issue.

If you know your spiritual life is in shambles, the best way to make it look like it isn’t is to give advice. Once you dispense your advice, you imagine the recipient of your advice thinking, “Wow, that person really has it all together. I hope I can grow to be like them.”

In reality, people might be thinking, “And who are you?”

Either that or people do their spiritual stuff and want attention for it. Their giving of advice is not to help you, it’s merely an opportunity to brag about how much they read the Bible, or fast, or pray, or do whatever it is they think is spiritual.

In the end, here’s some advice: If someone asks for your advice, it’s because they see that you have it together and are a worthy person to ask. If no one is asking you for your advice, that means people don’t think you have any to offer. You might want to take that as a tip to get your life in order!

A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him?

Donald Trump and God

Donald Trump announced he is running for president again. Which is fine, whatever. He at least brings some entertainment value.

The Donald said in his announcement that he “will be the greatest jobs president God ever created.”

See, that’s some good entertainment right there.

Mr. Trump is a Presbyterian.

Mr. Trump also seems to have a superstitious affection for the Bible.

“Trump said fans often send him Bibles and he keeps every one of them “in a very nice place.” “There’s no way I would ever throw anything, to do anything negative to a Bible,” Trump said. “I would have a fear of doing something other than very positive, so actually I store them and keep them and sometimes give them away to other people but I do get sent a lot of Bibles and I like that. I think that’s great.””

Mr. Trump, when asked about his church attendance, said “Always on Christmas. Always on Easter. Always when there’s a major occasion,” Trump said in 2012. Then he added: “I’m a Sunday church person.”

So, there you go: Mr. Trump’s Christianity.

Beaten up by Jesus

“A Jackson man smashed a framed picture of Jesus Christ over another man’s head, police say.”

Apparently a guy was going to another guy’s house and messing with him over the past few months. Last week the guy entered the home and took a picture of Jesus off the wall and attacked the resident and then charged him with a knife.

In all my years of tracking Jesus in the news, this is the first time I’ve seen a picture of Jesus used as a weapon.

I would say that Jesus was definitely framed in this crime.

Jesus Welcomes you To Hawkins, Texas. Maybe

Hawkins, Texas has a large ugly sign welcoming you to their town. Except the sing says, “Jesus welcomes you to Hawkins.”


So, of course, some hyper-sensitive anti-religion people must have this sign removed. For some reason, it’s an anti-religion group from Wisconsin that is particularly bothered by Jesus’ welcoming nature.

The group’s attorney, said that the sign “conveys a government preference for religion over nonreligion.”

This must not be!

I don’t really care one way or the other. It’s not so much the separation of church and state issue that bothers me with this sign, it has more to do with the presumption that Jesus welcomes people to their town. Exactly what leads them to believe this? What inspired such a sign in the first place?

Although I think the separation of church and state thing is ridiculously out of hand, I also think some of the idiocy that passes in Jesus’ name is out of hand.

My Opinion on Exorcism

Exorcism has always been a fascinating thing for Christian types.

A main factor of Christ’s ministry, as recorded in the Gospels, is Jesus casting out demons. However, most of the time Jesus just said something and the demon was gone. Occasionally He had a brief discussion with them, but for the most part it was pretty easy and calm.

Modern ideas of exorcism are usually very weird. Calmness and power are not on display. Perhaps this is because we don’t have faith like Christ did? “Jesus I know and Paul I know, but who are you?” is what one demon said. Maybe that’s where we are?

It’s possible I suppose. But perhaps it has something more to do with the fact that exorcism isn’t really something the Bible tells us to do.

It’s my opinion, and let it be heard that this is my OPINION, demons were putting on a show while Christ was on earth. When Christ and His miracle power left, demons kind of took a break too. Plus the one verse says Christ’s death and resurrection spoiled principalities and powers.

Anyway, the allure of exorcism is the idea that with some words and a ceremony I can totally fix someone’s problems. How sweet is that? Messed up people are cured in about thirty seconds.

Most pastors dream of such power. Trust me, I’ve met some people I’d prefer to exorcise in about thirty seconds than deal with over 7 years.

It’s my opinion that exorcisms are wishful thinking. The New Testament makes it clear that the battle with sin takes time. It’s a battle; not a thirty-second Mike Tyson flop fight.

Could I be completely wrong on this? Sure. Most people’s doctrine of demons is based on experience. People who think they’ve seen an exorcism believe in them and people who haven’t, don’t believe in them.

Experience is a horrible basis for doctrine.

In general, I have a giant question mark over the whole subject of demons and angels, because the Bible kind of leaves a giant question mark over the subject. I prefer to leave the question mark God left there and endeavor to avoid foolishness.

6 Counterfeits of True Faith

Faith is kind of a big deal in Christianity. We’re saved through faith, we live by faith, we walk by faith, by faith we remove mountains.

Since faith is so vital to Christianity, you should know that faith is counterfeited. Satan wants everyone in the world to think they “have faith in God.” If we’re saved through faith, and you believe you have faith, you can go to hell firmly secure in your supposed faith. Satan wins.

Faith is listening to God, and listening means doing what He says. It’s no more complicated than that. Whatever is not of faith is sin.

When we don’t do what God says–it’s sin;
When we do what God says–it’s faith.

There are a number of fake faiths out there, here are a few top ones that trip up people.

1. Doing what you told yourself to do.
Lots of people prove their faith by showing how well they listened to their own rules. Another word for this is “legalism.” Although God never said to avoid all alcohol, we think we demonstrate faith by avoiding all alcohol. Although God never said to have daily quiet time, we think we have faith because we haven’t missed a day in 15 years! These things may be fine for you to do, but they aren’t faith since God never actually said to do it.

2. Doing what some other guy told you to do.
Since hearing God implies reading the Bible, and reading the Bible is so hard, it’s easier to listen to other people who told you they have read the Bible. Because we judge that person to have faith, we do what they do assuming it will be counted as faith for us too. Many will place blind faith in a human leader, always doing what he or she says, and then assume that they have faith in God. In reality you just joined a cult.

3. Doing half of what God said.
This is where the Old Covenant Jews fell. Yes they brought sacrifices, but they were diseased animals. Yes they measured out mint and cumin for tithing, but they skipped righteousness. Yes they circumcised their baby boys, but their hearts were cold toward God. They did half of what God said. Usually its the half that requires you to do something once and then you’re done.

4. Doing stuff God told other people to do.
Hebrews 11 contains a whole list of people  who by faith did what God told them. Note that God told each of them to do a different thing. If you go out and kill your son this afternoon for God, sorry, that’s not faith. If you go out and spend 120 years building an ark, that’s not faith, that’s doing what God told Noah. You do not show faith by obeying orders never given to you.

5. Doing nothing and assuming words are enough.
A growing portion of Christianity thinks that doing something is somehow foreign to faith. They think doing something is legalism, relying on works righteousness rather than grace. This is asinine and foreign to any common sense, literal reading of Scripture. But many people think that as long as they say the right words, quote the right seven verses, have said the sinner’s prayer, have spoken kind, lovely things about God that they have faith. Nope, sorry. Faith always leads your body to do things. Your mouth is part of your body, this is true, but so is the rest of your body!

6. Doing what your group does.
Conformity is a tool of the world. All the world’s rebels do the same things and usually look and talk the same. Christianity is about transformation. It’s unique. Although it brings us to unity, it keeps us individuals. Unfortunately, the visible church is very uncomfortable with individualism. It’s much safer to have conformity. Many think they have faith because they look and act like all those in their church. We follow Christ; not a group.

Faith is lonely and somewhat terrifying. No one else may be doing what you’re doing, but you’re listening to God and that’s enough for you. It’s Noah plugging away on his ark project for 120 years. No one else on earth was doing this. It looked ridiculous and felt ridiculous, no doubt.

People with faith don’t need approval from people, they seek approval from God and that’s it. Faith appears to make little sense, which is why people fall for the counterfeits listed above. We don’t like to be alone and feeling weird.

The faiths above won’t get you to heaven; only the faith that hears the Savior gets people to heaven. Count on it and act accordingly.

Suffer For Innocence and Stop Fighting Your Guilt

School is out, which means I am spending an inordinate amount of time with my children. “Inordinate” means “exceeding reasonable limits.” A perfect word.

But I enjoy my children, because they give me lots of sermon illustrations.

Children like to pick on each other, which is fine. But usually one kid will go over the line and become a jerk. When this happens, and they are called on it, their conscience is pricked. They know they took goofing around into being evil.

Rarely, upon being called on their behavior, does a child say, “Yes, you are right. I am sorry.” In fact, if any child did say this, they would probably all die from shock.

When people do bad things they have three main responses:

1) They blame something or someone else
2) They argue their case
3) They need the support of others

Blame is where it starts. “I didn’t hit her, her face hit my bat.” Blame is the simplest response, find a way to make the fault anyone but your own. This tactic goes back to Adam.

When blame does not work, they will begin to argue their case. They will begin by presenting evidence exonerating their behavior. “I didn’t mean to, the bat just flew out of my hands as it was slippery from the rain last night” I am told as the weather report is called up on the iPad.

Typically, as their case falls apart (which happens when you are guilty) they become angry and bitter and usually more jerkish.

When the judge rules against them, they feel a need to get others on their side. If you can get someone to side with you, your guilt diminishes a tad. The guilty kid will attempt to get the third child to join with them to be mad at dad and mad at the sensitive kid who got them in trouble.

Typically, the maddest child in the end is not the one who was initially smacked in the head with a bat, it’s the one who got in trouble. Amazing.

Sin leads to more sin. You can tell who the guilty sinners are by observing their behavior. If they are blaming others, being victims, demanding rights, yelling and arguing, constantly angry, and needing a group of people who do the same stuff surrounding them: you know they are guilty.

One of the ways I detect which of my children is at fault, is to listen to which one is getting angry and upset, which is the same one who will be blaming other stuff, and the same one who will be pointing out the faults in others.

Parenting tip: The loudest kid is the guilty kid.

This is why it irritates me when Christians get like this. We are to be meek, lowly, humble, and submissive. We know we are guilty in general, which is why we don’t wig out every time our guilt is shown. We humbly repent, apologize, and make things right if we can.

Paul tells the Corinthians that they should just suffer the wrong rather than act like a guilty sinner and argue and fight your case.

Following Christ means being judged as a sinner even when you are innocent just like He did. The more you argue your case, the more guilty you look, and the more disservice you do to the cause of Jesus Christ.

Oh for grace to actually do this. Following Christ is not easy.

“As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

“Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously”

Exorcism Donkey Ride

Although American Christianity is one messed up place, it’s at least comforting to know we don’t have a monopoly on crazy. At least I think that’s comforting.

The video below shows an orthodox priest attempting to exorcise a demon possessed man by riding him like a donkey. He told the man he would ride him all the way to Jerusalem if need be.

Apparently there was no need, for by the end the rather heavy priest is standing on the flattened man. My favorite part was watching the little kid. You’re not the only one confused by all this, me dear.

Slinging Stones With Jesus, Literally

jesusslingYou can now purchase a Jesus slingshot for all your slinging of stone needs.

From the catalog:

You’ve tried church. You’ve tried prayer. You’ve even sacrificed the fatted calf, but God still won’t smite your enemies. Get The Jesus Slingshot, new from My Left Behind Toys! The Jesus Slingshot will help you do unto others before they can do unto you!

Jesus Shops the Ikea

Jesus’ face was recently seen in an Ikea men’s room in Glasgow.

ikeajesus“I went in to the toilet and there it was on the main door when I put my hand out. I said “Oh my word, it’s Jesus”

‘I tried to subtly snap a photo because the last thing you want is to be heard taking a photo in a toilet,’ he added.

“Despite his divine encounter, Mr Simons left the store empty handed. ‘I actually went for tiebacks for curtains but they didn’t have any. ‘So Jesus didn’t help us there.’

Jesus was the son of a carpenter, so perhaps He was checking out new ways of making the furniture. Either that or it takes a divine Creator to figure out how to put together Ikea furniture.

Number of “Sinners” Is Declining

You’ll be happy to know there is a decline of “sinners” in America!

Wow! What great news! This must be evidence of some new revival, a new working of the Spirit!

Actually, it’s not a decline in the bumber of sinners, but a decline in the use of the word “sinner” in Christian song and writing.



The brief analysis concludes that modern Christians don’t like to call anyone a sinner.  It’s much safer to talk about people who have sinned.

“People who have sinned” describes a past act that was done. Sinner is much harsher, describing what a person is. No one wants to be defined by what they do, come on, give us a break.

So, we just stop calling people sinners and instead refer to them as people who make mistakes and suchlike. You can read the entire analysis here.

Stand Up For What You Believe Does Not Mean “Be a Jerk”

It was a beautiful morning, so I decided to completely ruin it by going for a run.

As usually happens while passing a particular house, a dog ran out at me. I don’t know what kind it was, it looked like a Rottweiler kind of thing, maybe a German Shepherd. Might have just been a mutt that looked like one of those.

It was growling and charging hard. I have experience with such situations and have learned that the best thing is to stop running and let em come. If you keep running it gears them up to chase and bite.

However, it requires a certain amount of courage to stop as a growling dog charges you. But it worked once again, the dog ran around me and then back home since I was no fun anymore.

The Bible talks about the armor of God and how we stand. We aren’t told to charge or go on the offensive. We’re told to stand.

“You need to stand up for what you believe” is a commonly said phrase. There is a time and place. When you are being attacked, when you are being challenged to stop doing what you know is right, you stand firm and do the right thing.

However, most people assume the phrase “stand up for what you believe” means we are to constantly bring up our opinions all the time and make sure we “put some truth” out there.

It’s more in your face, more of a challenge. More of a “so take that.”

That aint right. We are to firmly believe things, and when pressed we are to continue to persevere in believing and defending those things.

We are not, however, told to attack others with our precious beliefs. Romans 14 is a great passage. One of my favorite bits is “Hast though faith? Have it to yourself before God.” Amen!

Don’t flaunt your beliefs. Especially don’t do this when you know it will just tick people off. As Paul said when he was with those without law, he was as one without law. With those under law, he was as one under the law.

Paul believed definite things, but he also knew when to not make his beliefs a deal. He was more concerned about the salvation of others than he was with feeling like a Big Man because he stuck his beliefs in front of everyone’s face.

Too many Christians have ignored this. We’re known for being jerks. For always having to put our beliefs out there in the most confrontational, arrogant way possible.

Jesus rarely attacked people, usually His “attacks” came in response to someone else attacking Him first. When attacked: He stood. When Paul was attacked; he stood.

In the end, most people need to chill. Do the right thing. Know when to open your mouth. As the great theologian Kenny Rogers said, “Know when to hold em and know when to fold em.” Amen.

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