2 Corinthians 5:8 | Why God?

One objection to God that has gathered my attention lately is the question why would God allow suffering and death. Why the loss of a child? Why death from covid? How could God do such a thing especially when one sees the evil done toward children from other people and from the harsh environment of the world itself. This question for me was resolved long ago and for those asking this question now the answer is found in understanding the world from God’s perspective.

We are always so wrapped up in ourselves. Focusing on our loss or our expectations. And here is the big perspective issue… We live and view this world as the end. This world is not our home. This world is temporary and trying to get comfortable here in such a way that we delude ourselves into thinking it is forever leaves us to question God when this world is not forever.

6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 2 Corinthians 5:6-9 ESV

There are two homes. The temporary home and the home with God in eternity. Paul uses a Greek word for home that is only found in these few verses ἐνδημέω (endēmeō). The definition is to be among one’s own people, dwell in one’s own country, stay at home. Paul is saying here that we are of good courage because while here in this temporary body we are with brother and sisters in Christ. And we are also of good courage if dead because we are at home with our heavenly father dwelling in our true home with our true people.

We see a tragedy where people die due to an accident and we question God. Why Lord? Jesus responded to an accident that happened where a tower (under construction, due to negligent building practices, or due to earthquake we don’t know) collapsed and killed 18 people. It must have been all the news because Jesus brought it up. Were the 18 judged by God and the preverbal lighting bolt fell from the sky? Where the 18 in the wrong place at the wrong time? Why Lord?

3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3-5 ESV

Jesus offers no answer to the “why” question. He only notes that everyone is a sinner and unless we repent, we will perish. God owes me no answers. He is God and he has ordered the days of my life. We are promised nothing beyond today because this life, this time, this world, and this universe are temporary. If God permits a child to die that child while taken from us here and now is reunited with God in eternity. We greave and it is a hardship that can break hearts we take good courage, as Paul writes, that this child is at home with God.

12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

13 Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants!

14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Psalms 90:12-14 ESV

The pain of lost loved ones is real and I do not wish to diminish that for anyone who has lost, but I also want us all as we approach God see things from His perfect perspective. He has limited our time on earth. He calls us to repentance for our own actions and we like Paul can take good courage in knowing that our true home is with Christ in Heaven.

9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 ESV

2 Corinthians 3:1 | Credentialism is Killing the Church

The world is changing. The post covid world is being shaped before our lives as we live through this historic event. My trust in institutions, experts, scientists, and authorities has been completely broken. Between the media war on the former president and their absolute covering for the current president to the complete failure of leaders to remove politics and focus on helping people in the pandemic it is clear to me that salvation and help will never come from the institutions, national government, or press. Both groups are cut from the same educational institutions and both groups have a global agenda that does not care for the every day person.

I realize this intro is much more political than normal but these realizations have brought me to a place where I am questioning the desire of the western world to credential everyone and only those with credentials have any value to add. This covid world makes it obviously clear that it is unwise to think that only those with credentials should be listened too.

The same happens in the church. Preachers go to seminary for degrees and preachers are the only authority that may speak God’s word in the church. The members of the church are just fine letting the better educated preacher do all the work of ministry. That kind of church is dysfunctional and will die.

Paul writes to the Corinthians and poses a question.

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? 2 Corinthians 3:1 ESV

Paul wants to know if he needs to be credentialed in order to speak to the church. Who has authority to speak or teach in the church? Is that decided by people or should that be decided by God?

4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 ESV

Paul answers the question… “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything… but our sufficiency is from God”. Paul does not need letters of recommendation because Paul was made sufficient by God. Jesus called Paul to preach the gospel and Jesus backs that call up by the lives changed, miracles worked, and the impact on communities where Paul is sent.

The same is true of the disciples. Very few of them were educated and credentialed to do what Jesus called them to do by the standards of society.

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13 ESV

In the eyes of the religious leaders Peter and John were recognized not as illiterate simpletons but they were recognized as uncredentialled. No journalist would go to Peter and John for a quote and call them an “expert” or a “source”. They had not achieved the academic rigor necessary to speak on these topics. I have an advanced degree from a seminary. True that education makes me a better teacher however that credential does not give me an authority to be a teacher in the local church. Jesus calling me to teach in the church makes me a teacher. I am sufficient to teach because he called and over the years I have worked hard to be a worker approved as directed by Jesus not some earthly authority. Peter and John were sufficient to be disciples because Jesus called them. “but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant”.

There is a quote that I keep close as I love the local church. I keep this quote close as my desire to see the church grow might lead me to schemes and marketing ideas help God along.

The problem with modern Christianity’s obsession with principles is that it removes any real conversation with God. Find the principle, apply the principle – what do you need God for? (John Eldredge, Wild at Heart, p210, 2001)

Our obsession should be not with governments, schools, marketing, media, social media preachers, or other organizations staffed with sinners… our obsession must be with Jesus and what he wants from us.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15 ESV

What is Jesus asking of you uncredentialled or over credentialed sinner? How does Jesus want you to spend your time in the local church? If you love him then get busy because he is sufficient for that task that he, the Creator, called you to do.

1 Corinthians 13:13 | Why God?

The mantra of the church in modern times is that God is love. Jesus loves. This view is taken to such extents that now the question arises… If God is love, how can he allow such evil in this world? And we can be honest here… modern peoples don’t deal with problems very well. A loving God that allows a pandemic. A loving God that allows gun violence, domestic abuse, sexual predators, climate change, racism, inequalities, … Why, if he is love, would he allow this?

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 ESV

To answer the “Why God?” question we must understand our own progression through, faith, hope, and love, in relationship to God.

Faith πίστις (pistis) is believing that God exists. Faith is believing God is who he says he is as reviled to us in the beauty of creation and even more specifically who God says he is as revealed in the Bible. The Bible is a love letter from God to the people he made. He spells out details of his nature and details of his expectations. Faith is that first step. Faith is a transforming step where the creation interacts with the Creator. Without this agreement that God is the creator and author of life then why do we even need to answer the question why would God allow evil in the world?

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17 ESV

After faith comes Hope ἐλπίς (elpis) and it is here that we recognize the reality of evil. The very existence of Hope demonstrates that we recognize the shortcomings of this present reality. It seems strange that on the topic of Hope that I immediately bring up the topic of evil but hope represents an acknowledgement that the present circumstances are messed up. My hope is in Jesus not this evil world. My hope is in the strength of God the creator not my own limited abilities. My hope in the pandemic rests in God’s mercy and grace not in a government of flawed individuals. In the same way my hope for this life and the life to come rests in what Jesus, God in the flesh, has already done. Faith leads to Hope. And Hope is a realization that this world is not home. Why God is there evil? That question becomes less imperative when I recognize my hope is not in the present but in the future.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:22-25 ESV

Faith, Hope, and now Love ἀγάπη (agapē). With agape Love being the greatest. Agape love is the love of a benevolent Creator God. Agape love is the love of a brother and a love of good will toward others. Agape is not selfish. Agape is not demanding. Agape is not evil. God is agape. He loves the world so much that he took on the human form and then paid for my crimes by dying on the cross on my behalf. That is a benevolent fatherly love that is the greatest of all acts. In this pandemic the government and those with no hope demand that everyone get vaccinated. They shame. They demand. They wish death on those that are not vaccinated. This is what a faithless, hopeless, and most importantly loveless world looks like.

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV

As we grow in faith we grow in our understanding of God. With that faith we can hope against all hope in a future. This world is in fact evil and in hope we understand and trust that God will undo the curse of sin and death that this present world is suffering from. Why does God allow evil? His love is not demanding. He will not force people to be “good”. He permits evil, death, and destruction here and now. This temporary cursed world is not my hope. God will not allow death and destruction to carry on forever. It is temporary and this world is not our home. Are you making this world your home? Then you will be the saddest person to have ever lived. As a faithful and hope filled follower of Christ it is my job to continue on loving those in this world of evil. You who make your home here in this world. The greatest action I can give is to love you by writing these words today. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus saves from the evil of self and the evil of this world.

Genesis 3:1 | Yes He Said That

We all think we are smart until that moment we are hustled and tricked into doing something stupid. Anyone ever send money to some Nigerian prince? Anyone ever pay too much for a junk car? To my shame I was once tricked into giving up enough information to a spam caller that they were able to call the mobile company and change my service over to someone in Cuba locking me out of my own phone. I just signed up with a new carrier and I got a call from someone that sounded like they were from India asking to do a survey of my experience. I answered two questions and then they asked for the last 4 of my SSN for verification. That was all they needed (name and last 4 of my SSN to then turn around and call the phone company and get my service changed). I am smart! Ha! But I did not see that coming.

This kind of social manipulation has been going on since the beginning of time. We all know the story. Satan tempted Eve to eat from the fruit in the garden. We shake our head. How could she? What was she thinking? I would never make that mistake! Oh but dear reader you make that same mistake every day. In fact, you and I have fallen for the exact same social manipulation used on Eve. Don’t believe me? Then let us look at how Satan manipulated her and then ask ourselves the question. Have we been manipulated this same way?

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1 ESV

There are two things I want to look at in this verse that we need to be aware of. First is the acknowledgement that Satan is not stupid and he knows what he is doing. The Second is the genius of his attack that we should always be aware of even in modern culture.

The Serpent “was more crafty” עָרוּם (ārûm) means subtle, sly, sensible, shrewd. Sensible jumps out at me because I think of myself as a sensible person. Satan’s approach to Eve was sensible and subtle. Think about that for a moment. The caricature of Satan is a fire ensconced demon demanding evil actions or inflicting pain on people. No dear reader Satan is subtle and sensible. He approaches us in much more wisdom and understanding than the caricature. In fact עָרוּם (ārûm) is translated “prudent” in proverbs. So think of “more crafty” Satan when reading these verses from Proverbs.

The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves, but a fool’s heart blurts out folly. Proverbs 12:23 ESV

The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps. Proverbs 14:15 ESV

The serpent when he rolled up on Eve knew exactly what he was doing and he has planned his approach carefully. He would not force Eve to do anything. He was not going to make demands. He was not going to trick her into eating the wrong fruit on accident. No his approach would be subtle and sensible and Eve would never see it coming. In fact we the ever educated and smart modern peoples that we are still to this day fall for the exact same approach from Satan. That approach is in the second part of Genesis 3:1 and it is as sensible as it is subtle.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1 ESV

“Did God really say”? What a question it is so sly and shrewd. Did God really say? That question is asked every day even now thousands of years later as we jump into sin. Did God really say sex outside of marriage is wrong? Did God really say that lies are wrong? Did God really say … insert whatever is on your heart right now? Oh do you see how crafty the serpent was and is?

16 And the Lord God [said to] the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Genesis 2:16 ESV

Yes Eve, God said you should not eat from that Tree! Satan knows it and Eve knows it but what happened with the serpent’s question “Did God really say that”? Satan created an opening for Eve to question what God had spoken. What did God mean by don’t do this?

The same is true for modern man. People today are confronted by a world “Did God really….”. It is subtle, it is sensible, and it is shrewd. Now the rationalization process can start. God wants me to be happy. God is a God of love he would never forbid me to partake in this.

Dear reader ask yourself where you have listened to the question “Did God really say”. The question we should be asking is “What did God really say” and then desire to follow him with all your heart. I have been tricked. I have fallen for the scams. But God in his grace and love has provided a way to correct my mistake and the damaged I caused by joining right along with Eve in believing the lies.

27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. Hebrews 9:27-28 ESV

A note for Teens…

A mom I know from the local church asked several of the men, myself included, to write a letter to her son for his thirteenth birthday. Unusual but interesting request. I applaud her desire for diverse perspectives and encouragement for her son from people who have a relationship with God. I know she wants people to speak positive words into her son’s life because I want the same for my son and this is a way to do that. I hope it is well received and because she asked below is a generic version of what I wrote for her son’s thirteenth birthday.

Dear Teenager,

You are quickly growing into a man transitioning from childhood to adulthood. How I personally survived those teenage years is an act of God’s grace. I was not smart and I made many mistakes. But that is ok because I had and still have a relationship with Jesus. That relationship made me what I am today and I want to share with you a few keys of success for life that I have learned from Jesus.

Love the Bible. Memorize as many verses as you are able and as the Holy Spirit leads. God’s word is the greatest wisdom ever given to men and if you pay attention, put into practice what you find there then you will win at everything that matters. Here are some verses that have saved me along the way.

If someone wants you to do something you know is wrong then speak this verse out loud to their face if necessary. God’s word will cut them to the soul. God’s words spoken out loud are powerful.

My son, if sinners try to lead you into sin, do not go with them. – Proverbs 1:10 NLV

Life is not always fun and part of growing up is taking the good and the bad and being happy with where God has placed you. If you complain endlessly then life will never be fun. Godly men are disciplined and prepared for both the hard parts of life as well as the fun parts of life.

Do everything without complaining and arguing – Philippians 2:14 NLT

I have made mistakes and you are going to make mistakes. You will fail. However, what separates my failures from the failures of others is that God is my father and he never fails. He is always there to pick me up. Build your life, your relationships on Jesus Christ and God will pick you up every time.

for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity. – Proverbs 24:16 ESV

The Biblical number of perfection is seven as in God rested on the seventh day. Everything God does is perfect and God will make you a winner even when you fail because you put your trust and hope in Jesus Christ.

Christ Only Always,

Human Effort

Psalm 139:21 | God’s Side

God loves everyone. God is love. For God so loved the world… These are messages one will hear in Church. It is true that we who are alive right now are living in an age of grace and mercy. Where God is calling women, men, children, elderly, black, white, LGBT+, and all other identifiers society places on us to know him and to be in relationship with him. God has one identifier for human kind and that is “people”. We are created by him and in his image. God’s grace and mercy are truly loving in an unselfish way.

Yet that grace, mercy, and love cannot compromise the sovereign holiness of God. While we live in the moment of grace and mercy that moment is just that a moment that will pass and fade much too quickly. Psalm 139 is a famous Psalm attributed to King David. He sings of a God that he has known in a personal relational way. He sings of a God that is all knowing, all powerful, and to whom David owes everything. God made David a King. God saved David from death many times. God made David’s very body and spirit. King David sings of a perfect loving God.

However, David also sings of a Holy God and this verse about God’s holiness is offensive to our modern ears.

21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? 22 I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies. Psalm 139:21-22 ESV

To hate with a complete hatred seems… well contradictory and in opposition to the teachings of Jesus.

The Bible, God’s love letter to people, is never contradictory so there is a perspective we need to keep in mind here in regard to David describing his alignment and desire to be with God in holiness that is expressed in terms of hatred. David is moving to God’s side in the spiritual battle against evil. There is actual real evil in this world and it is to be hated. Holiness demands that we hate what is evil. Evil murders, steals, and destroys everything for selfish gain. One of the most interesting exchanges between man and angel happens to Joshua at the battel of Jericho.

13 And then this, while Joshua was there near Jericho: He looked up and saw right in front of him a man standing, holding his drawn sword. Joshua stepped up to him and said, “Whose side are you on—ours or our enemies’?” 14 He said, “Neither. I’m commander of God’s army. I’ve just arrived.” Joshua fell, face to the ground, and worshiped. He asked, “What orders does my Master have for his servant?” Joshua 5:13-14 MSG

Joshua needs everyone to pick a side for the battle. After Angel speaks Joshua drops his side and moves to the side of God wanting only to know what God’s mind would be for the upcoming battle. We hear this all the time especially in political fights. “God is on my side”… NO! God is not so small a god that he is on anyone’s side. Everything revolves around God because he is God. We do not pull God into our corner. We do not rub the magic lamp and get three wishes. God never says I am yours to command. David is saying whoever is your enemy. Whoever God hates and whatever God hates. Then I too will hate that as well. Of note here is an ugly place where this mindset may take people down an evil path. Think for a moment of the author David who is a King and who commands armies. David is a warrior who has killed men in battle. David does not say that he will be an instrument of justice or war against God’s enemies. David acknowledges that these are not his enemies that he will hate but they are God’s enemies and David knows that God will deal with them in his time and in his way. While we know God loves us and we should love others even those who are unloving that does not mean that we should excuse any behavior or that we in our own personal lives should live any way we want. God made me. He knows everything that is true and I should trust him. Therefore, whatever God calls right and whatever God says is real then those things I will love and whatever God calls evil and whatever God calls wrong I want to hate. Yet as a follower of Christ I will speak grace and mercy to anyone that has an ear to listen. For God so loved the world that he made Jesus available to anyone that will move to God’s side in this time of grace and mercy. Take advantage of this gift dear reader.

1 John 2:5 | My Lifelong Fear

I have a fear. A real fear. I have a fear that I will not be able to run the race. The race of life before God. I am a sinner with all my issues but I want to love God and I want to obey Christ living the life he has for me. I have seen so many people fail and fall. People when I was a child that I looked up too. People that as an adult I liked their books or their message in media. The Ravi Zacharias issue brings up this fear in a very acute way. I did not see this coming and it dredges up memories from my past fear that I would not be able to run the race.

7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7 ESV

I fear things I don’t understand. How can a person who serves and loves God fall so far from God’s standards? I am not talking about a one-time issue but a pattern of behavior that is outside of God’s grace? King David sinned as great as anyone can sin when he stole another man’s wife and had that man killed. Our hearts are evil but David returned to God and repented because of the relationship David and God shared. The Ravi issue demonstrates an ongoing pattern of planning and preparation for sin. It is stunning as I try to understand and that fear of my own failures clouds my mind.

5 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.” 1 Kings 3:5 ESV

When I was a young man, I read the account of King Solomon and how he was given everything by God. Tom Brady’s wins are nothing compared to the wining that Solomon was given. Yet at the end of his life Solomon did not run the race well. This account of Solomon’s life and Solomon’s self-reliance scares me. I am afraid of this for myself. Solomon asked for wisdom when God would have given him anything. Asking for wisdom is even a credit to Solomon but what good is wisdom without a relationship with Christ the maker of Heaven and Earth? My prayer then and my prayer now is that God, Father, Savior, Jesus… I pray for the grace and mercy to run the race with endurance to the end. An end that is in your arms with you. That is the goal. An everlasting relationship with my maker? Is can’t be about stuff. Fame. Success. Power. Money. Land. All of it will one day be gone. That is temporary. Jesus is eternal.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. … 3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:1-6 ESV

So, I look to the examples of those who have finished the race. I take my fear a very real fear and a justified fear to the truth that John speaks and I come away with reminders.

When I sin I have an advocate in Jesus Christ. Jesus loves me and died for me. Even if like King David I travel far from God and turn my back to him all hope is not lost. I will make mistakes but Jesus will be my advocate and I pray that at that moment I turn to him as I once did. Jesus can make right what I made wrong.

for the righteous falls seven times and rises again Proverbs 24:11a ESV

My life must continually be turned away from the comfort of this world to the eternal perspective. If my life does not reflect the commandments of Jesus then I do not know him or love him. Do I love him enough to alter my lifestyle and my quest for money in this temporary world?

“[Jesus speaking] If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15 ESV

Finally, I must abide in Jesus. Every day I must turn to him. Every moment I must seek what Jesus wants. My very being must always be about Christ. Christ only Always. Whoever abides in Jesus will walk in the ways of Jesus.

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5 ESV

2 Thessalonians 2:7 | Lawless Truth

The phrase that drives me crazy is “this is my truth”. It drives me crazy because truth is true independent of what people believe. When I grew up someone might say “this is what I believe to be true”. Which leaves room to say I could be wrong about what is true because truth is truth independent of me or what I believe. Fast forward to today when someone say “this is my truth” they are in effect saying truth is created and defined by me. Even if reality and facts prove me wrong it does not matter because whatever I believe is in fact true. I think this is one of the reasons for the rampant increase in depression and anxiety because when an individual’s version of what they manufacture to be truth collides with the raw actual truth of reality their personal truth fails and leaves them vulnerable and lost.

And this is what I want to focus on today. When we say that this is our truth and we manufacture our own set of facts and rules for how things should be we are in effect saying that we are lawmakers. I am defining a set of laws for how the world will be governed in my presence. However, if my truth violates actual real unchanging truths then I am in effect working in a lawless state of being in regards to my relationship with reality.

This idea of lawlessness where we live based on a lie and call it true is how Satan operates and this lawless state of saying that I will have my own truth is in direct opposition to God from whom all real actual laws and truth flow.

7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 2 Thessalonians 2:7 ESV

The antichrist is described by Paul is called the lawless one. Imagine for a moment Satan who is created the most beautiful and powerful of all God’s angels. God when he creates this angel tells him that he is created and what his purpose will be as an angel. But Satan sees the glory of himself and thinks… Who is this God to tell me what is true? I am his equal and this will be my truth. So, Satan spins up a story of his own truth that he is God’s equal the yin and yang the good and bad who will be at war fighting for power. This is lawlessness at work. But Satan has a problem with his lawless truth. Satan is not equal to God and Satan is only permitted the freedom and power that God allows. To be Satan in this situation is quite depressing as well as fundamentally evil.

Paul tells us that Satan is at work with his lawless truth and Satan’s example enters our heart as we follow the same lie about ourselves. You be you. Go get what is yours. You can be or do whatever you want. Thankfully Paul tells us that this lawless lie is restrained to keep us from going full crazy. God is keeping a lid on the craziness for now but it seems to me that we have entered a new season where maybe God is removing the restraint as we see more and more people claiming their own truth and eventually as the restraining hand is removed all this lawlessness will be dashed on the rocks of reality.

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. Ephesians 1:7-10 ESV

We don’t need to make up our own truth to claim something to make us happy. Joy and peace in this short life come from God. Truth comes from God. Jesus, who is God in the flesh, came to die and be raised to life to forgive us of our lawlessness. Humbly come before God and his real truth ask him for his saving grace and he will “lavish” on you wisdom and insight. You will understand his purpose to make us whole and bring us into a relationship with him our Creator.

Matthew 5:16 | So Bright I Need Shades

I am perplexed by the modern invention of social media where anyone at any moment often unexpectedly might become famous or infamous. Much like winning a lottery the instant fame is a rush that might destroy one’s life or propel them to new heights of opportunities. When social media hijacks someone’s life the good or bad results really comes down to the character of that individual. Is the viral moment something awful or funny or noble? When I was a child, I thought about the idea that God sees everything that I do good or bad and that I was responsible for my actions. I tell my own children that they should operate their lives as if someone is filming everything they say or do and they will be judged more harshly by man than God.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 ESV

Biblically speaking it is a vanity of ego and pride to seek out social media attention. But we all do it with the perfect photos of something wonderful we have done. Or the glowing reviews we give to a significant other to make our friends jealous. I think the obsession the twenty somethings have with travel is so they can post the pictures online. Look how wonderful I am. Yet here is Jesus telling the disciples that they are a light that cannot be hidden and that they will get attention for “all your good works”. Seems like a contradiction to me.

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9 ESV

The contradiction then lies in who the attention points. If I work hard to gain social media attention or attention in life then I must ask why am I doing that work? For my own personal glory? For my own ego? Or is the work I am doing inspired by the Holy Spirit being noticed in spite of me? Are people looking at the work and thinking wow God is amazing? The light Jesus is talking about is not my light but the light that comes from him. The light of my life should not be my ego. The light proclaimed and flowing out of me is sourced from God and everyone in my orbit, family, friends, coworkers, enemies, and neighbors all know this light is different than the darkness of the world.

29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30 Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. Exodus 34:29-30 ESV

While the light I shine is not literal but spiritual there is a physical example that illustrates spiritually what is happening when we abide in Christ.  Moses who spent more time in the physical presence of God than any person since maybe Adam and Eve is impacted by being in the presence of God. Unknown to him when he brings the ten commandments to the people, they are afraid because Moses is literally glowing. He is reflecting the light of God back toward others. When we spend time in the light of God’s truth, abiding in Christ our lives reflect that light of truth. Jesus tells the disciples that God’s light will shine forth from them and there is not anything they can do to hide that light.

19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. John 3:19-20 ESV

Unlike social media where one wants to shine for the approval of other people. The light Jesus spoke of was an exposing, convicting, holy light from God. Many people hate that light and will pull away from it, try to ignore it, or even try to stamp it out. But you dear reader are here because either you are called by God to live a holy life that glows in this dark world or you dear reader are craving a relationship with God to be blessed with light in your own life to see in a dark world. Both reasons require a loving relationship with God that is lead by the Holy Spirit through the work of Jesus Christ. Embrace that relationship take your cares, worries, loves, and success to Jesus and adore him. You will be giving so much light everyone will take notice.

2 Peter 3:9 | There is not Much Time Left

Life is hard. Anxiety levels are high. All in the middle of this is a world-wide lockdown because of COVID. Personal circumstances vary but in general life is difficult for those without money and for those with money. For Christians many see the society crumbling due to sin and they hope and pray for Jesus to return. The Bible has promised that Jesus will return and take those who are called by his name out of this world. This world is temporary and all the power and control that people fight over is temporary.

11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. Revelation 3:11 ESV

Since the very beginning of the Christian church the faithful have been waiting for Christ to return. Yet here we are 2000 years and going with no second coming. So, then what is going on? Where is Jesus? Why is God letting war, disease, sin, and death continue on with end?

9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 ESV

The answer to those questions is wrapped up in the gospel of Jesus. God has a plan that he implemented at the beginning of creation and one major step in that plan leads to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ who is God in the flesh. We are on the completed side of that milestone. Jesus died to save sinners and we are all sinners. In God’s plan we have yet to reach the milestone of Jesus returning and like little kids going on a trip we keep asking “are we there yet”? God is not there yet and that is what I mean by these questions are wrapped up in the gospel of Jesus.

Why has Jesus not returned? Because when Jesus returns the grace, mercy, and chance to repent and become children of God is over. God it taking his time at his own pace because he is giving everyone on this planet a chance. The opportunity is now to accept Jesus Christ as savior.

5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. John 3:5 ESV

Spirit here is the Holy Spirit of God. Unless the Holy Spirit of God comes to rest in your heart and unless the Holy Spirit of God marks you as a child of God when Jesus returns you will perish. Now is the time of grace and mercy. Now is the time to decide to submit to God or to submit to self. The choice is yours. Humble yourself before God and ask for Christ’s saving mercy to invade your life. If you don’t then when Jesus does return it will be too late.

44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24:44 ESV