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.
What is sin? The atheist says its a figment of the imagination; But what does one do with the real feelings of regret? The Buddhist purports that sin does not exist, instead there are only skillful or unskillful actions which determine the quality of an individuals perpetual reincarnation until they reach nirvana; But how can one be reassured of the success of their “skillful actions” if they are completely unaware of their past life, and ambiguous regarding their future? Meanwhile, Islam preaches that Allah may forgive sins if they are outweighed by good deeds; But how does one keep track of their progress without becoming overwhelmed? Excusing sin away or trying to offset its encroachment doesn’t address the core issue of why sin is offensive. Why is sin offensive?
Sin is offensive because it violates a moral law. Regardless of the origin of the moral law, the Universe, Buddha, Allah, or Jesus, the offender must be punished for his/her offence in order to maintain the integrity of the moral law or else it becomes watered down to simply a moral suggestion; And the originator condescends to the status of untrustworthy. Confidence in a worldview is only as reliable as it’s author. What that author does concerning an offence to it’s moral law reveals the true nature of it’s love and authority.
The atheist contends that there are no moral laws at work in the world, therefore no one should be offended by the actions of others. This understanding is unlivable and caters to the survival of the fittest. Power not love governs this ideology. You are on your own. Buddhism similarly rejects the idea of sin but generally believe in a universal moral code. Every action, good or bad, has an automatic effect in a long chain of causes. Basically, the offender of the moral law will reap the effects of his/her actions until he/she is no longer offensive. They will continue to pay for their “un-skilled actions” until they are “skilled”. Once again, power and not love governs this ideology. You are what you eat. Islam offers forgiveness of sin as long as there is repentance accompanied by good deeds. On judgment day Allah will weigh the good deeds against the bad deeds and thereby determine destiny. However, he does not address the offence against his laws. If Islamic laws can be broken without recompense simply by performing extra credit good deeds, then their laws cannot be trusted and the author should not be believed. Power and surface love govern this ideology. You get what you pay for.
Christianity stands by the ten commandments. Every individual in the world will be measured by this standard. Anyone who falters in one or more of these commands will be put to death for all eternity. No exceptions. Recognizing that the whole world was guilty of breaking His law and needed to be punished, God sent His Son into the world in order to receive the punishment for the laws that were broken so that He can provide a way of escape for anyone willing to accept it. He addressed the offence completely, now He can offer an alternate solution for all who are willing to believe. The integrity of His law is intact and His character is confirmed. This ideology is governed by true love and power. You get more than you deserve.
Your sins can be forgiven today! Stop trying to pay for it on your own. Accept Jesus, God’s provision for your forgiveness. His love for you compelled His righteousness to make provision for His Justice so His mercy could be extended to all without ever being accused of favoritism. There will never be any question regarding your guilt. Accepting the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for your sin places you in the position of innocence before the courtroom of God. Set your soul free! Break out of the doldrums. Refuse to be oppressed by sin. Yield to the free gift being offered by God for your redemption. Let Him be your strong tower, safe haven, and loving Father. The heart of the Father is overwhelmingly jealous for you. Open your heart and allow the goodness of God wash over you.
For several years, worship at the temple in Jerusalem was gravely neglected. The nation was littered with idols and everyone did what was right in their own eyes. As the Northern Kingdom of Israel teetered on the brink of destruction, God was raising up a twenty-five year old man by the name of Hezekiah who would lead the Southern Kingdom of Judah into a time of revival.
King Hezekiah began the restoration process by re-opening the doors of the temple, removing the accumulated debris, and sanctifying the priests. Next he sent messengers throughout all of Judah and Israel compelling the people of God to return to God. Living without acknowledging God was the new normal and it was evident by the rejection of the message and ridicule of the messengers. However, those who returned to Jerusalem in order to worship God were so impacted by the presence of God and the fellowship of the saints that they traveled throughout the nation going from city to city destroying idols and tearing down altars in high places. Their re-prioritization of worship led to the destruction of strongholds and reestablishment of the blessings of God.
Christians everywhere, Return to God! Repent of our negligence and restore our commitment to worship God. The well-being of cities and nations is hanging in the balance. Get into a local church and become part of a God-honoring Body so God can use your light to scatter the darkness. (II Chronicles 29-31)