In every nation, culture, language, and person resides a characteristic unique to the human experience. A quality so pervasive that evidence of it can be observed wherever man has trod. From the most advanced to the most primitive of societies it exists. What is it? Worship!
Man was created to worship. Every fiber of his being cries out for the divine; longing to grasp the mysteries of existence, eternity, purpose, and meaning. According to King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3 verse 11, God has set eternity in the human heart. From the day he was born the innate desire to connect with God has been at work, desperately trying to commune with the Holy, but ultimately further enslaving himself and tragically self destructing. History is replete with examples of worship gone wrong. Scores upon scores of lives and nations ruined all in the name of worship.
The simple truth is, not all worship is created equal. And not all gods deserve to be worshipped. Therefore understanding what true worship is, and who the true God is, makes all the difference in the world. True worship begins with a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This reconnects your spirit with the Holy Spirit of God and resurrects your spirit back to life. Secondly, your life becomes an open book read by all and void of pretense. This is the kind of worshipper God the Father is searching for. This is the kind of worshipper who will enjoy the presence and blessings of God. This is the kind of worshipper we were created to be.
Racism as defined by scholars at Harvard University is, “an ideology of racial domination” in which the presumed biological or cultural superiority of one or more racial groups is used to justify or prescribe the inferior treatment or social position(s) of other racial groups. It exists in nearly every facet of society and often governs the way one perceives, interacts, and engages another of a different ethnicity. History is riddled with disturbing accounts of dysfunctional and destructive race relations from every corner of the world since the beginning of time. It is not unique to the United States of America, and will more than likely continue until the end of days. Humanity, in spite of its many achievements, is still broken at best.
However, racism within the church of Jesus Christ portend a deeper problem. Recently I participated in a group of pastors who were wrestling with the question, “What does repentance of racism look like”?. At first glance, this exercise seemed noble, but as we dug deeper it became more apparent to me that something far more sinister was at work. We were absolutely consumed with addressing and dissecting the symptom that we completely ignored the disease. The disease is sin. In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus instructed His disciples to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations or ethnicities. It is impossible to reach other ethnicities for Jesus if you don’t love and see them as Jesus loves and sees them. Racism in any form in a Christian is an indication that they are not obeying the great commission and are in rebellion against God. It is not enough to simply bridge relations with people of other ethnicities, we must go deeper and repent of our rebellion against God.
“Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing”. These were among the last words spoken by Jesus from the cross as He was dying. He looked beyond their rejection, and interceded on their behalf. Racism is an effective tool of the devil because it cuts deep into the fabric of our identity and tempts us to be offended. But as followers of Christ don’t allow the enemy’s distraction to keep you from being the light of Jesus to all ethnicities.
Last month while volunteering at the LPGA tournament at the Sahalee Golf Club in Sammamish Washington, I met a gentleman by the name of Rick Glad who was a retired department of transportation engineer for the state of Washington. Part of his responsibilities as an engineer for the department of transportation was to design safer roads for the public. He began his research for road safety by comparing several data bases. One data base in particular stood out among the rest. It was the data base provided by the Washington state highway patrol, detailing the locations of all the car wrecks on the highway. Using this information, Rick was able to pinpoint the most problematic areas on the highway that resulted in accidents, injury, and/or death. Steps were immediately taken to address these danger spots. Curve angles were adjusted, signage relocated, reflectors added, bumps in the road strategically placed, guard rails relocated and/or redesigned to expand on impact. These and many more safety measures were taken resulting in thirty less fatalities being reported per year by the Washington state highway patrol.
Everyday drivers rush to and fro on the busy highway without a second thought of the myriad of safety measures that have been implemented to ensure safe arrival to their destination. In much the same way, people rush through the busy-ness of life without recognizing the safety measures God has placed in their path. God knows the road we are to travel and has provided us with safety measures needed to complete the task. allow me to list a few:
1) The Conscience – Warns us when we are heading in the wrong direction (Romans 2:15)
2) The Holy Spirit – Convicts us when we are on the wrong road (John 16:8)
3) Honor our parents – A road map that always leads to blessings (Ephesians 6:2)
4) The Bible – A reliable navigator in uncertain times (Psalm 119:105)
5) The Church – God’s sign post to spiritual wickedness in heavenly places of His great wisdom (Ephesians 3:10)
Enjoy the journey!
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27) I truly enjoy participating in the wedding process. I have been given the privilege of being the groom, best-man, groomsman, singer, musician, counselor, and pastor in weddings from the west coast to the east coast of the United States of America, including the Great Wall of China, and it has given me a greater appreciation for the actual wedding day. Most people who attend weddings only see the beauty of the decorations and fawn over the glory of the bride’s dress, but are usually unaware of the blood, sweat, and tears that precede this day of celebration.
Over the past 20 years of officiating weddings, I have developed a few guidelines that help me best serve the needs of the couple desiring to be married and be honoring to God:
1. Encourage couples who are in cohabitation to go to a Judge or have a small private ceremony.
2. Establish a biblical justification for this marriage.
3. Enquire concerning parental blessing of marriage.
4. Engage couple for 6-8 sessions of pre-marital counseling.
5. Envision the wedding day ceremony.
The goal of this process is to provide a solid foundation for the newlyweds so they will be able to weather the unpredictable nature of married life and be successful.
In a similar fashion, Jesus is preparing us for our wedding day with Him in heaven. That day is going to be a grand celebration of epic proportions. All of heaven will rejoice as Jesus reveals His beautiful bride. We will shine radiantly, our dress will be spotless and wrinkle free, our heart and body will be holy and perfect for our Groom, Jesus Christ. However, until then we are in the process of separation for the sake of our Groom:
1. Jesus died to make us holy – separated from idols and reconnected with God.
2. Jesus washes us with His word – Removing the lies of Satan and rebuilding the vision of God for our lives.
3. Jesus is waiting to present us to Himself as His bride – Say Yes to the Dress.
The goal of this process is for Jesus to present us to Himself as His beautiful bride for all eternity.
Let the process run its course. Jesus is working all things out for you in order to make you ready for your wedding day. Remain faithful and continue to say yes to the dress.
John chapter three verse sixteen summarizes the gospel as God’s love, God’s gift, and God’s wrath. Preachers have rightfully emphasized the love and gift of God, but our neglect of the wrath of God has caused our message to morph into a self-help, personal development, egocentric, earthbound Christianity. We attack the sinister nature of sin because it may stifle our God-given potential. Warnings are made regarding the use of words because it may jeopardize our prosperity. We have made the gospel to revolve around the perspective of the sinner and have completely disregarded the view from heaven. The holiness of God demands that sin be punished. His wrath is waiting to be poured out on all evil so He can throw it down into the lake of fire for all eternity. The only reason His wrath is being withheld is His patient desire for the lost to come to the saving knowledge of His Son Jesus Christ.
Salvation is not from the effects of sin, but from the wrath of God. God is coming! What are you going to do about God? He is zealous about His holiness, therefore sin will be punished. His delay is evidence of His love for you. The death of His Son on the cross for your punishment is His gift to you. Your acceptance of His gift will save you from His wrath.
Stop the “New Age” gospel preaching. The gospel message is not about making the sinner better, it is about making the dead live.
Do black lives matter to the policeman?
Do black lives matter to the politician?
Do black lives matter to the pastor?
Do black lives matter to you?
Do black lives matter in the inner-city?
Do black lives matter in the streets?
Do black lives matter in the womb?
Do black lives matter to me?
Do black lives matter if you’re white?
Do black lives matter if you’re black?
Do black lives matter if you’re not?
Do black lives matter anywhere?
Do black lives matter to you?
Do black lives matter to me?
Do black lives matter to God?
Yes, all lives matter to God!
Over the past twenty years of pastoral ministry I have observed that the greatest amount of relational degradation has come at the hands of those who are consumed with a victim mindset. What is a victim mindset? According to Dr. Judith Orloff, who is the Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA and author of the book “Emotional Freedom”, a victim mindset is “A poor-me attitude, and is allergic to taking responsibility for their actions. People are always against them, the reason for their unhappiness. They portray themselves as unfortunates who demand rescuing, and they will make you into their therapist. As a friend, you want to help, but you become overwhelmed by their endless tales of woe: A boyfriend stormed out…again; a mother doesn’t understand; a diva-boss was ungrateful. When you suggest how to put an end to the pity party, they’ll say, “Yes…but,” then launch into more unsolvable gripes. These vampires may be so clingy they stick to you like flypaper.” King Saul of Israel allowed this victim mindset to drive his violent tirade against one of his most trusted advisors. He believed David was against him regardless of clear evidence to the contrary as a result years and decades were wasted chasing phantom enemies all the while leaving behind broken relationships, destroyed lives, and chaos (I Samuel 9-31). History is riddled with examples of men and women who used their victim mindset to wreak havoc on their contemporaries.
Today we are witnessing an explosion of diverse groups driven by a victim mindset. Everyone of them clamoring for recognition and claiming they are being unfairly marginalized. The spike in violence within American cities and upsurge of brutality worldwide gives credence to the idea that we are living in an era dominated by a victim mindset. If this hypothesis is even half-true, then we can be sure that the immediate future appears grim. Matthew 24:12 states, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of many will grow cold.” I believe this scripture can also be understood this way, “Because of the increase of the ‘victim mindset’, the hatred of many will grow”.
The devil is gleefully riding the backs of the individual, group, business, nation, and religion built on the victim mindset. He is using these unsuspecting idiots to wreak havoc all over the world. Hitler decried the success of the Jews and was able to mobilize a whole nation to murder six to ten million other human beings. I cannot even fathom the amount of violence that awaits our future as Satan exploits the broken.
Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-29, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. The devil wants to exploit your pain, God wants to restore your purpose. Say goodbye to the devil and begin to lay your burden at the feet of Jesus. He Loves you and wants to make you His own.
In an age dominated by uninhibited “selfies” and shameless moment by moment status updates, there seems to be a universal reluctance to label the onslaught of violence being perpetrated by the “Islamic State” as representative of Islam. However, an admittedly perfunctory overview of Islam reveals a disturbing theme inherent within the Islamic practice or religion. Here are five reasons why I believe Islam is not a religion of peace:
1. Allah’s original message to his prophet Muhammad produced an unholy fear.
According to Sunni tradition, when the angel Gabriel appeared to the prophet Muhammad it troubled him so deeply that he told his wife the vision was demonic and made him suicidal. In the Bible, whenever the angel Gabriel appeared to an individual it produced a holy fear that precipitated worship of God.
2. The prophet Muhammad was a very violent man.
Islamic texts are replete with the violent exploits of the prophet Mohammed. They confirm the fact that he was a narcissist, a pedophile, a mass murderer, a terrorist, a misogynist, a leche, a cult leader, a madman, a rapist, a torturer, an assassin, and a looter. The Bible says that the thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy, but Jesus comes to give life and life more abundant. (John 10:10)
3. Islamic Texts encourage open-ended violence.
Sura 9:29 in the Koran is a key verse that encourages Muslims to fight against Christians, and because it was a revelation given to Muhammad prior to his death, it is given preference over other teachings. The most troublesome aspect of this verse is that it’s not limited to a single situation, but serves as a guide for the practice of the Islamic religion. Jesus said to love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you (Mt. 5:44)
4. The daily prayers of Islam promote division.
For 600 years the Islamic texts have encouraged prayers that promote superiority of Islam and a condescending attitude towards Jews, Christians, and unbelievers. The bible says in Ephesians 6:12, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”.
5. The actions of those claiming to be Islamic.
In the first few months of 2015 the world has witnessed a level of brutality that is shocking from every angle, and yet the level of outrage from within the Muslim world is conspicuously minute. Inherently, there is a basic understanding in the Islamic world that the violence being perpetrated by ISIS is well within its orthodoxy. It is true that throughout history there have been brutal crimes committed in the name of Christ, but all of them fall far outside the teachings of Christ.
Every Christian needs to be aware of the lies of Islam and fight to free the Muslim people from the bondage of this violent deception.