Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Putting on Your Full Armor

. . .

As the world churns darker day by day it's crucial for the believer in Jesus Christ to “armor up.” There's a great battle going on that makes all the world's wars look like playground skirmishes. It's a battle for the souls of men and woman, young and old. It's a battle that's about as old as Creation itself. And the chief adversary in this war is relentless, desiring to conquer and destroy as many souls as he can — especially now, knowing his time is short. (*Revelation 12:12)

The good news is that the believer in Christ has already won the victory since Satan was defeated by the Cross, but the battle still rages. Satan can't take away that victory because the believer is secure in Christ, but he can attempt to destroy our witness. We're saved by the precious blood of our Savior. And we were saved not to sit back and dig our heels into the world's ways, but to be witnesses, testifying of His Good News, that through faith in Him we can have eternal life. (**John 3:16)

So Satan’s work seems to be in overdrive now. Just look at your daily news for details. And so the believer must be prepared to take a stand for what he or she believes and dig their heels into following Christ, desiring Him and to know Him above all else. We were given marching orders to share Christ, to make Him known and to make disciples. If we resist taking this stand then we’re showing how much this world owns us.

The devil will do all he can to trip up the Christian to cause him to fall. Put your armor on. Not armor as the world understands, but the Armor of God. And be prepared to fight. As someone once said, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

If you don't know Jesus Christ as your own savior, then delay no further in making that decision. I believe that time left to make that decision is extremely short as Bible prophetic signs are unfolding and speeding up. Jesus is coming back to rescue those victorious ones from the coming wrath of God. But even if Christ were to delay His coming you have no idea when your last living day on earth will be. The often quoted question, “Do you know if you'd go to Heaven if you were to die tonight?” remains an imperative one. You can be sure by trusting in the finished work of Jesus Christ who paid for your sins and mine.

If you know Christ, or have just come to know Him, I leave you with our marching orders, the encouraging words of the Apostle Paul...

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.“ – Ephesians 6:10-20

— — —

*Revelation 12:12 — “Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”

**John 3:16 —
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
**John16:33 —
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
. . .

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

An apology – The Shack

The Shack book. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Some of you know that I was involved with designing The Shack book. At that time, over 10 years ago, I was captivated by the story and felt honored to be part of the graphic creation of the book. I was so drawn into it, wanting to know the God it portrayed. There’s no doubt that the story has deeply spoken to many.

I have deep regrets now of not just being involved with it but also in promoting it. The movie release of The Shack has brought all this back to my mind and I felt the need to apologize to all who I may have led astray by my promoting the book. I look back and see how little discernment I had. And I regret and apologize also for waiting this long to publicly share this.

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM? There are many, but the greatest being that it advocates what is called Universal Reconciliation or Universal Salvation. Meaning, since Jesus died for all then all are saved whether they believe it and receive Him personally or not. This is a grave distortion of John 3:16. One just needs to read the rest of that passage to understand that there is a condition for salvation in that one must believe in and accept Christ as Savior personally:

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” —John 3:18

One is indeed saved by God’s grace, but we have this thing called “free will” to receive or reject His grace, His free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Many will still say that the book was intended as just a work of fiction, but the author himself, William Paul Young, is quoted as saying, “The Shack is theology. But it is a theology wrapped in a story.” 

Embracing The Shack, as I did, led me to other books, other authors who had started out on the straight and narrow, having solid Biblical beliefs, but strayed off into apostasy land. Rob Bell, Jim Palmer, Brian McLaren, to name a few of those by whom I was inspired. That “inspiration” led me to the edge of this Universalist belief. I thank the Lord that He pulled me back from that edge.

The Shack’s story wonderfully painted this picture to me of an incredibly knowable and loving God, one full of forgiveness, but without being judgmental. The fact is that there are two inseparable sides to God. He is both love and judge.

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. Whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on Him.” —John 3:36

Again, this thing called “free will” has given us the ability to willfully accept God’s gracious gift of His Son, Jesus, who died on a cross to save us from our sins, or willfully reject His gracious gift. Jesus did die for the sins of the whole world, but tragically most of the world has and will refuse Him.

For more on The Shack you can find plenty of reviews online, such as:

https://www.thebereancall.org/content/when-people-say-shack-just-novel-excerpts-warren-smith
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2017/02/10/how-the-shack-distorts-our-view-of-god/
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/e2medianetwork/2017/02/wwutt-shack-vs-bible/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCl3NPrhrgE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCjdAX63uzM

Thursday, February 9, 2017

What is it with me and this crazy focus on Jesus?

 What is it with me and this crazy focus on Jesus?
Am I just some wishful thinker of some pie in the sky deity? — No. This Deity has more than proven Himself to me over the past 37 years that I've known Him and grown to absolutely love Him as I know He loves me.
Am I just following the crowd? — If I was it wouldn't be with the minority one with whom follows rolling eyes, laughter and scoffing.
Am I, as the saying goes, "Too heavenly minded that I'm no earthly good?". — No. I am so Heavenly minded that I desire to live my life for Him... for His goodness sake. A big part of that is sharing the awesome Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with anyone who has ears to hear, a heart to listen.
“Who in their right mind would follow some religious icon who seems to get one into more pain and trouble (in following Him) than just living a life of: “Live your life for yourself and keep your opinions to yourself.” — That is the easy way out for sure. But then I'd be living a lie.
So who is this Jesus that I so focus on?
He is my Savior. — He saved me from my sins and from a life of fear, doubt and despair. As the classic old hymn goes. “Once I was blind, but now I see.” That's me. That could be you. Without God, namely Jesus Christ, our lives remain in a state of blindness. We cannot see or understand the truth of who God is, who we are, or what we were created to be. (“Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.’" – John 3:3)
He is my Lord. — I desire for Him to take hold of my life and direct my paths. (“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6). We all choose someone or something as a “lord” over us. Maybe it's another person we follow. Maybe it's something like the desire for money, success or just “the good life.” It's the human condition. We all seek something to fill that fulfillment void.
He is my very life. — Several years ago I was driving to work one morning. It was a time in my life when I was so depressed. I was so frustrated with my life, my failures, the failures of those around me. I was tired of life in general. As I pulled into the parking lot of a favorite coffee spot I heard a voice as clear as day say to me, “Dave, your life is not in these things. It is in ME!” It's taken a long time for me to unpack that. I had much to learn about this One who so loved the world that He gave His one and only beloved Son for me and for you. I still have much too learn, but I know, I know without a shadow of a doubt, that my Redeemer lives and He lives in me. He is my very life.
So what? That's nice for you.
So? So, it's incredible, that's all. It's amazing. This God, the God of the Bible, Jesus the Son of God, the very I AM, is real. So very real. The Gospel shouldn't be news to you. Surely you've heard, seen and read John 3:16 for years. But what does it really mean to you.
Jesus asks you... “Who do you say I am?”
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son. That whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
I believe that with all my heart. I believe I will see my Creator, my Redeemer, my very love of my life one day... maybe sooner than later. Much is pointing to Jesus' soon coming.
Do you know Him? He so desires to be your life. Don't waste it seeking for fulfillment in all the wrong places.
”Who do you say, I am?”