One of the things that really disturbs me, due to its subtlety in subverting the word of God, is when people reason their theology due to their own logic instead of seeing what God actually says about a matter.

It can be all-too-easy to say that some doctrine “must be” because of some logical excuse, when really God has said nothing to that effect in His Word. Oftentimes, this logic is /based on/ God’s Word, but it is taken out of context or extrapolated beyond what God has actually said (Matthew 4:6).

Jesus Himself had to rebuke His own disciple Peter for using human logic instead of taking Him at His Word… It happened just after Jesus announced to His disciples that He was going to die. Upon hearing Jesus say this, Peter rebuked Jesus and said, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” (Matt 16:22)

But what was Jesus’ reply?

“Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Matt 16:23)

Do you see it? Peter was thinking with human logic, reasoning about what “must” or “mustn’t” be, according to what he thought seemed right (Proverbs 14:12). But in so doing, He stopped listening to what Jesus /actually/ said. He stopped taking God at His Word.

And that’s exactly what we do today. Sometimes we don’t like the plain reading of Scripture because it goes against our preconceived notions; against what we’ve always been taught; against our human logic… (1 Corinthians 1:19-20)

But I think we would be all-the-better off if we would stop and remember that God’s ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts (and logic) are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).

It is in coming to that place in our minds that we can finally stop trying to reason our way into getting the Bible conformed to our own whims and wishes (2 Timothy 4:3-4) and instead simply read the Bible and take God at His Word.


Mercy triumphs over judgment?

“Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

It’s a good thing! But, I want to caution you to be careful with this word. I feel like all too often these words are taken out of context, as if to mean that God has so much mercy toward people that He won’t judge them.

But the quote, with the context, reads rather differently:

“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” – James 2:12-13

Read this way, we see that God’s mercy is conditional – God is not merely a softie who loves to love everyone (even though He is greatly loving and desires to show His mercy toward us), but rather God is also a just God and will judge those without mercy who themselves don’t show mercy to others.

This becomes very clear in Jesus’ own teaching. For example, you can read the parable of the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:23-35). This parable ends by saying:

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you asked me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’

“In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

(Then, chillingly, it reads as follows…)

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” – Matthew 18:32-35

Do you see it? God, as represented by the “master” in the parable, doesn’t just forgive, show mercy, and withhold judgment no matter what. Instead, He requires His servants to show mercy to others.

So yes, it is amazingly wonderful that God is good enough and patient enough to forgive us and show us compassion and mercy when we humbly repent and turn to Him (Exodus 34:6-7).

But that also doesn’t mean we can simply be slack in our holiness and inconsiderate toward others, doing whatever ill we want towards our fellow man (Romans 6:1-2).

In sum, I think it would be very fitting for us to have the same perspective as Jesus when He spoke these words in the Beautitudes:

“Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.”
– Matthew 5:7

Knowing God Secondhand (Eating Pre-Digested Food)

It seems, in my perception, that far too many people in the church today are content with knowing Jesus merely on a secondhand basis…

Let that thought sink in…

Do you know Jesus for yourself? Or is your only knowledge of Him coming to you secondhand because of the insights /someone else/ has received from His Word?

How long can we go on living off of pre-digested food?

If our only source of knowing Jesus, and if our only supply of spirit-food, comes to us from a preacher on a Sunday morning, then (if I may be so bold), we are a far cry short of being real disciples of Jesus Christ.

We are a starving people… starving for the words of the Lord.

It is like Amos 8:11:

“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Sovereign Lord,
‘when I will send a famine through the land—
not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.'”

The only problem is, there is no reason for us to be starving! Most of us have the Word of God right at our fingertips… but we won’t open it!

I believe we would do well to stop eating physical food every now and then, if necessary, in order to make sure we really set aside time to eat true and lasting food (John 6:35,55)…

As it is written, “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 8:3)

And may I pause and interject? It does not say, “but on /some/ of the words that come from the mouth of the LORD.” It says, “but on /every/ word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” We are not allowed to pick and choose and cut out the words we don’t like!

Believer, would you like to know God? To really know Him?

Then why do you not spend time with Him?

Jesus is earnestly desiring to make His home with you; to fellowship with you; to teach you His perfect ways. But as it is, you need to open the door to Him (Revelation 3:20).

And I’m not talking primarily about salvation here. Believers, too, can have cold hearts and lock Jesus out of their lives… And ultimately, if that’s us, we need to repent — to turn away from all that garbage — and let Jesus back in!

Look, we are, as believers, the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16), but that doesn’t mean that’s the end of the story. Even the old Temple was defiled time and again…

“‘Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,’ declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 7:11)

We can, even as the Temple of God on this earth, live in such a way that our Temple is “defiled” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 6:18-20) because of sin in our lives… If we live in sin, our communion with God is inhibited (Psalm 66:18, Proverbs 15:29, Isaiah 1:15).

So, what do we do about it?

Well, the first step, of course, is to confess our sins — to God (1 John 1:9) and to one another (James 5:16).

But, more than this, how do we cleanse and sanctify ourselves? How do we give the Holy Spirit a clean and proper home to dwell in?

The Scripture tells us that Jesus cleanses us “by the washing with water through the word.” Through the what? Through the Word!

Indeed, Jesus even told His own disciples, “You are already clean because of the–” what? “–because of the word I have spoken to you.” (John 15:3)

And again, “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.” (John 17:17)

So we see it is God’s Word that washes us and sanctifies us.

But we make excuses as to why we won’t read God’s Word… “Oh, I’m just not smart enough to understand it…” “I’d really like to, but I’m just too busy…” “You know, everyone has their own interpretation of the Bible, so why should I even try to understand it?”

Do you not realize? Man’s thoughts and opinions will fail, but God is always true. It is much better to learn from God Himself than to rely on secondhand wisdom from another man (including me).

Now, am I discounting teachers and preachers? Absolutely not! For God Himself appointed preachers and teachers, among other gifted individuals, in order to strengthen and build up the Body of Christ until it reaches full maturity and unity in the faith (Ephesians 4:11-13).

But what I am saying is that God has already given us everything we need to understand His Word and serve Him properly (2 Peter 1:3).

He says in one place, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

And in another:

“As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit–just as it has taught you, remain in him.” (1 John 2:27)

Do you see it? His anointing — His Holy Spirit — teaches us all things (John 16:13) so that we have no need for anyone else to teach us. We have direct access to God by faith (Ephesians 2:18, Romans 5:2).

But what is the condition? “Remain in him” (1 John 2:27, as written above).

And if it is hard to seek God — indeed, if it is hard, perhaps, to find Him — do we give up?


But as it is, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13).


“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)

So we see that if we would really desire to know God, it takes seeking Him wholeheartedly… it takes dedicated perseverance.

Yet thankfully, at the same time, we also see that it is not some infeasible task, but it is truly and totally possible, for God has given us His very Spirit.

As it is written, “‘Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But /we have/ the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16).

I could quote a number of other Scriptures to this effect, but do you see what I’m saying? There are no excuses for shying away from God’s Word. It matters not how intelligent one is (1 Corinthians 1:20, Jeremiah 8:9); it matters not where one has gone to school; what matters is communion with God and His Spirit, eating of the true food of His Word.

And none of this is because of our own effort, because the Scripture tells us: “‘not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.”
(Zechariah 4:6)

So, brother, sister, let us not starve ourselves of true food as we gorge upon the wares of this world. But let us rather do the opposite, forsaking this world and its pleasures for the greater prize before us: knowing Christ (1 John 2:15-17, Philippians 3:8, Hebrews 12:1-3)

I hope this post has been an encouragement to you (and perhaps a kind slap in the rear) to read the Word of God for yourself and not rely solely on pre-digested food and secondhand knowledge of Jesus. If you don’t know where to start in reading the Scriptures, do the simple thing: start at the beginning, the book of Genesis. :)

The Lord Jesus bless you in your pursuit of Him!

Twisted Symbols…

What I’m about to say is not very popular… but I find it in many ways terribly repugnant to see the way Satan twists the things that God has made for good and uses them as symbols for evil…
One such example…
Back in the Old Testament, there lived a man named Noah. He was pretty much the only righteous person left on earth. The whole world had become corrupt (Genesis 6:11-12), and yet Scripture tells us that “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (vs. 8) and that he “was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God” (vs. 9).
Because of the wickedness, violence, and corruption of the world at the time (which is itself quite a topic, which I’ll save for another day), God decides to flood the whole world and “start over” (Genesis 6:7). But because Noah was righteous, God told him to build an ark (a sea-worthy vessel to house him and his family, along with the animals God had created) (vss. 14,17-19) so that he can be saved from the flood and life can be preserved.
When all was said and done, and the ark was made, and 120 years had passed by in which Noah and his son Methuselah had been preaching to the inhabitants of the earth to repent (or, so the story goes in the book of Jasher – Jasher 5:7-10 – and as is hinted at in Genesis 6:3)–
–When all that time had passed, and the people of the earth were unwilling to turn from their wickedness, God opened the windows of heaven and the springs of the earth, and a mighty flood came and destroyed all the people and animals that were not inside Noah’s ark (Genesis 7:11,21-23).
After all this (and this is really the point of my retelling this account from the Scriptures), when the waters receded and the ark settled on the ground and Noah and his family were finally able to get out on dry land, God made a promise:
“I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth” (Genesis 9:11).
This is a great promise! And do you know what God chooses to be the sign of this covenant – the continual reminder that God will not go back on His word?
You ready?
…The rainbow. (Genesis 9:12-16)
Yes, friends, the modern-day symbol for “gay pride” was originally the sign of God’s covenant with Noah (and, in turn, the rest of the world) never to flood the whole earth again in order to destroy all mankind.
Phew… I told you this wasn’t a popular message.
See, Satan likes to twist everything God made for good and turn it around to use it for his own purposes.
Now, I know this LGBT+ issue is really big right now, but let me say, very simply,
In the beginning, “God created them male and female” (Genesis 5:2; also 1:27; Matthew 19:4; Mark 10:6).
That’s it.
There is a whole “movement” sweeping our culture right now that’s basically getting rid of gender and letting people determine for themselves what they are. People in our modern-day society are allowed to be one gender one day and identify as a different gender the next.
And the choices are a lot more than just “male” and “female.” Children are being taught that there are many gender options. You can be any gender you want; almost like you can pick your career. In fact, “gender-fluidity” is a thing now, too. It’s pretty crazy to watch.
And now we see the rainbow plastered everywhere to “celebrate” this “pride”… I’ve seen the rainbow next to YouTube’s logo the past couple days; I’ve seen the rainbow mingled with PayPal’s logo after a recent transaction (instead of the normal, basic, blue color), and now Spotify even has a whole rainbow genre/mood called “Pride,” next to all the more typical genres like pop, rock, and country. I’m not quite sure what kind of music it is… and frankly, I didn’t want to listen to find out.
Yet, whatever your stance is on these issues (and I understand these are some hot-button issues for a number of people), hopefully, if you are a Christian, you can at least recognize with me that when God made people, he did not make them as anything other than male and female. And hopefully you’re also willing to recognize that, on top of this, He made them heterosexual – to enjoy the love of one another and populate the earth (Genesis 1:28).
To be anything else is to live in contradiction to the created order, the natural way God intended things to work (Romans 1:26-27).
I mean, can I be plain with you? There is no natural way to procreate and “fill the earth” as God commanded (Genesis 1:28, 9:7) in anything other than a male + female relationship.
Why do we try to add to and change what God made perfectly from the start?
Now, LGBT+ friend, whoever you may be, I’m not at all trying to be mean or dismiss you as a person. Certainly, I don’t at all say that the feelings you have aren’t real, legitimate feelings. I don’t say that it’s impossible to really love someone of the same sex or some other non-heterosexual combination (certainly, even David had a great love for Jonathan in the Bible… it didn’t lead to intercourse, of course, but it was still a genuine love for another person; 2 Samuel 1:26, 1 Samuel 18:1,3).
In fact, I myself wished, growing up, that I could become a girl from time to time and live that life and see things from the other side. And there have been times where I have been of such a mind that I related, in some ways, more to the female population than to the male population. And I was a fan of many ideas within the “metrosexual” community (it’s an older term by now, but it basically means combining aspects of one gender into the other). It all seemed very appealing to me for a number of reasons.
Yet, I came to realize that all these things were merely perversions in my mind. I had become prey to a particular way of thinking, a particular way of feeling, a particular way of believing that was contrary to all that God had intended from the beginning. I was into these ideas because they appealed to my flesh; they made me /feel/ good.
But I am thankful to say that God had the power to bring me back under the created order, to redeem and renew my life. And, even though you may not want it, He can truly do the same for you. That is not to say that you are “defective” in any sense of the word, but only to say that living in such a manner is a broken way of life.
Does God love the LGBT+ community? On the one hand, yes, He certainly does, for He demonstrated His love for everyone (including those who are LGBT+) by dying on our behalf (Romans 5:8). Yet, on the other hand, He did not intend for anyone to continue to live in such a manner, but instead He intends for those of us who claim His name to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).
So, if you consider yourself a Christian, and if at the same time you consider yourself LGBT+, consider the words of Peter:
“As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’
“Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
(1 Peter 1:14-19)
We are called to be holy, to live “set apart” (for that is what the word means) from what the world is doing all around us. The world is engaging in all the various expressions of sexuality that it can think of (an “empty way of life”) but we are called to find love in the way that God has established, between a man and a woman — and, even above that, to find love in our blessed Creator. If we struggle in this way (as all people struggle from time to time in various sins), desiring a love from a same-sex partner or other deviation from God’s created order, may we seek deliverance from these passions by calling on our God and Savior, Jesus Christ, seeking Him with our whole heart.
So, friends, when you see a rainbow… Let’s remember that at the beginning this was not a symbol for the acceptance of and “pride” in our modern-day society’s corruption of sexual preferences and ideas; instead, it was and still is a sign of God’s covenantal faithfulness to the inhabitants of the earth that although He destroyed the world with a flood, He will do so no longer. And let us look with careful (indeed, sometimes even fearful) expectation to the future and soon-coming day when He will yet again destroy the world, not with water but with fire, to once again remove the godless and the wicked from the earth (2 Peter 3:5-7, esp. vs. 7; then also vss. 10-12).
As Peter writes:
“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives.” (2 Peter 3:11)
“But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
“So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” (2 Peter 3:13-14)
May we be found blameless and know His peace. Amen.

Virtual Reality or True Reality?

One of the greatest tragedies I see in this world is an obsession with leaving true reality in favor of seeking to dwell in a virtual reality…

This may seem like an over-exaggerated statement, but “virtual reality” takes a lot more forms than simply the wearing of a special set of goggles connected to one’s phone.

Some people choose to linger in virtual reality merely by diving into the realm of TV programming instead of engaging in thoughtful conversations with their family.

Some people come into virtual reality by means of drugs or other psychedelic or mind-altering substances, unwilling to face the harsh, cold reality of the depression, anger, and emptiness they find themselves in.

Some people are addicted to the virtual reality presented to them on their phones and cannot even come to a restaurant or a gathering of friends without having their gaze diverted every other moment by the notifications their phone presents.

Yet other people linger on past memories or hopeful wishes for the future, hoping that this virtual reality can somehow manifest itself in the real world.

And while there are certainly other ways in which people often desire to escape the confines of true reality in favor of an alternate, virtual reality — a reality that seems more pleasant to them than the true reality all around them — the consequences of all of these various escapes tend to be alike: they take us away from what is right in front of our faces — this world, its Creator, our sinfulness, our need for redemption, and the love we ought to give to our brothers and sisters on this earth.

People, we need wake up.

Our thoughts have oftentimes been morphed and crafted more by the media and our culture than by the Bible or our families or respected elders.

Now, I know not everyone respects what the Bible has to say, but if you are someone like me who believes that God literally speaks /through/ the Bible, we really ought to read it and listen to what He has to say. It’s a tragedy when we choose instead to listen to our “cool” friends, or all the latest “news,” or all the spectacular things we read on the internet…

We’re deceiving ourselves. None of these things amount to even an ounce of what constitutes “true reality.”

As the Word of God tells us, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

It is the Word of God — the Bible — that is the truth which ought to shape our reality — not culture; not escape-ism; not our peers; not media; not drugs; not TV; not the internet…

It is certainly tempting to come to the side of the unorthodox and unusual, the mystical, the dark… I’ve had some voyages there myself, and in the end, I’ve found them terribly lacking.

I had been seeking to create a reality for myself steeped in dark, poetic, unusual, electronic, eccentric ideals, ignoring in many ways the God who was only a simple thought or prayer away.

It was just like the apostle Paul’s concern: “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3)

Simplicity… See, following God is simple. It’s not /easy/, but it is simple. And it requires getting our heads straight — that is, leaving the false, virtual reality often presented to us, and coming to embrace the realness of true reality; coming to find out who we really are, who God really is, and what the eternal fate of our souls will be.

All these things we find in God’s Word.

May we forsake the virtual reality of our culture and come instead to be grounded in the true reality found in God’s inerrant Word.


The Darkness

Oh, the darkness, where all sorts of evil is wrought…

“There are those who rebel against the light,
who do not know its ways or stay in its paths.

“When daylight is gone, the murderer rises up,
kills the poor and needy,
and in the night steals forth like a thief.

“The eye of the adulterer watches for dusk;
he thinks, ‘No eye will see me,’
and he keeps his face concealed.

“In the dark, thieves break into houses,
but by day they shut themselves in;
they want nothing to do with the light.

“For all of them, midnight is their morning;
they make friends with the terrors of darkness.

“…But God drags away the mighty by his power;
though they may become established, they have no assurance of life.
He may let them rest in a feeling of security,
but his eyes are on their ways.

“For a little while they are exalted, and then they are gone;
they are brought low and gathered up like all others;
they are cut off like heads of grain.”
Job 24:13‭-‬17,22-24

And, I don’t read books like the following very often (since it’s generally considered in Protestant circles to be an /addition/ to the Bible), but nonetheless this quote is very fitting, tying right into the above:

“For he which is Lord over all shall fear no man’s person, neither shall he stand in awe of any man’s greatness: for he hath made the small and great, and careth for all alike.”
Wisdom of Solomon 6:7

God doesn’t care who you are – He doesn’t show favoritism (Romans 2:11); He is going to judge you for what /you’ve/ done (Matt 16:27, Jeremiah 17:10, Romans 2:6), and if you are one who loves the darkness and continues in evil, there will come a day when you will stand before your Maker and will perish (Revelation 20:12-15, Galatians 6:7-8). You will be thrown into unquenchable fire in which you will be tormented forever (Revelation 21:8, Matthew 13:49-50).

Don’t choose to die. Turn from your evil ways and live. (Ezekiel 33:11)

Even if you consider yourself a Christian, examine yourself (2 Corinthians 13:5). What does your life /really/ look like? Are you following Jesus, or have you forsaken Him to go your own way (Luke 9:23-26, Revelation 2:4-5)?

“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”
John 3:19-‬21

Jesus is the light. Turn away from your sinful ways and come to Him:

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'”
John 8:12

Testimony of Life-Change

I am so thankful for where God has continued to bring me in life. I was just reading over some of my journal entries from years past, and as I think back and remember, I am so glad I’m not where I was. I’m so glad that God let my path be shaped the way it’s been shaped; so glad at the failed relationships, the roads that came to nothing, the dreams that died; so glad at the worthless, sinful crap that’s been pruned right off of my life; so glad that He cared enough to have /His/ way in my life instead of my own.

And I’m glad I listened. I’m glad I listened to His gentle (and sometimes rebuking) voice as He told me I was on the wrong path, headed for destruction.

Man, I did some really dumb things. And I’ve been very selfish… Sensual, controlling, angry, petty… But God gets the glory for redeeming my life from the pit! I thank the Lord for really being my Lord, not just in name but in reality. I thank Him for getting my attention and steering me where I did not want to go, because He knew it would lead me to life – true, satisfying, eternal life.

Can I just say… Living for yourself is not worth it.

It’s not worth it to get upset when others don’t “meet your needs;” it’s not worth it to complain and talk about all the things that are going /wrong/ in life; it’s not worth it to hold bitterness in your heart or let life get you mad.

All those things can be dropped off at Jesus’ feet. As Todd White is fond of saying (paraphrasing), “When I became a Christian, God cancelled my lifetime subscription to Issues.” Or, as the apostle Paul says, in talking to believers who were literally suing each other, “Why not rather be wronged?” In other words, let people do as they will – people will do hurtful things – but you don’t need to /be/ hurt by them, and you certainly don’t need to retaliate.

All this to say, God is good. And we would really do ourselves some good to listen to Him. He really does know best. I am thankful that in spite of my shortcomings over the years, God has used me and helped me to grow, and I pray that we would all become more and more His servants and less and less of our own masters.

By His Spirit we can.