Wednesday, May 20, 2015

My Ambiguous Anxieties

Putting a Finger On My Ambiguous Anxieties

I'm sitting in a restaurant this morning trying to enjoy the beauty of the spring morning and breakfast but my long-time friend, Ambiguous Anxiety, has joined me once again. I see him everywhere I go everyday.

There is something wrong with me and there always has been.

I know it began at home during my early childhood years. Daddy was a mean and angry man. Why, I don't know. I do know that he beat (literally) all the confidence and self-esteem out of my little soul.

It was usually over deeds (or perceived deeds) that were so trite as to warrant no more than a word of correction following an inquiry into what really happened and the seriousness of the deed. But Daddy seemed to derive some sort of sick twisted pleasure out of beating me and my older brother.

Mother never beat us and seldom spanked us but she stood by or sat by while Daddy did. As adults my brother once arranged a meeting with Mom in order to ask her why she allowed the years-long abuse and why she never left the “sob.” She made herself the victim and ignored my brothers charges.

Mother committed adultery a few times during our early years according to Daddy but he took her back and we boys never knew anything about those adulterous affairs. We didn't know about that until she committed adultery in the company of my first wife in 1970 and left Daddy for another man. We learned about this (not my first wife's involvement in adultery with Mother) when the sheriff came to tell Daddy that they were going to arrest Mom for occupying a room for immoral purposes, which they did. And Daddy took her back. Shortly after that my first wife left me over the phone.

It has only been in the last decade or so that surgeons learned how to sew up patients in such a way that no scars, virtually no scars, could be easily seen. No one has learned to do that with soul-scars, at least not like physical scars.

Soul-scars are the reason for my ambiguous anxieties. Putting a name on an affliction often helps to heal it. If one can identify what's wrong there's hope that one can remedy what's wrong. It's kind of like learning one has sinned against God and that is what's wrong between that one and God. Having identified our sin-problem by the grace of God we can then turn to Him and say, “What must I do to be forgiven?”

God has graciously taken care of my sin-problem and separation from Him by sending His Son to do all for me that He demands.

As far as the soul-scars go, I'm working on it. It ain't easy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Damnable State of Hate

The Damnable State of Hate/Racism

The Blessed State of Faith

The Evidence

INTRO: Everyone in this room this morning was born with a sin nature and dead, spiritually speaking, without exception. To be dead spiritually is to be separated from God. It's entirely possible that some of you here this morning are still dead, separated from your Creator. To be dead in trespasses and sins is not a way of living we choose to live in, it is simply the state all of us are born in. But it is a state many choose to remain in.

According to the gospel of John, ch. 3, this is why. John 3:18-20 "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. 19 "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 "For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. Without God's gracious and merciful intervention in our lives we all would have continued in that state.

TRANS: Lets take our Bibles and turn to 1 John, John's first epistle, not his gospel, and chapter 2. This is our starting point in our study this morning. We're going to go to other places in this same letter as we're recalling three kinds of evidence that stand either for us or against us presented in this letter. This is going to hopefully make us all eternally thankful that we have the Man Jesus as our attorney. 1 Jn. 2, vv9-11.

1 John 2:9-11 He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. 10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

I'm not a lawyer and I've never played one on tv but I've watched a lot of Law and Order episodes, so I know what I'm talking about when I talk about the law and going to court and evidence.

ILLUS: Recently there was a preview on television of a movie that is playing now in theaters where two bumbling cops are speeding along a city street. One of the cops is scared out of his wits and says to the one driving, “What are you doing?” The other cop says, “Trust me. I've watched a lot of movies.” From what I've observed on tv shows there's basically two kinds of evidence presented in court. There's evidence for and there's evidence against. Does that sound pretty accurate?

Speaking of lawyers,

Q: What do you have when 100 lawyers are buried up to their necks in sand?

A: Not enough sand.

The first kind of evidence is that kind of evidence that's against the plaintiff, and here it is, “Hating your brother for any reason is evidence of an unsaved soul.”

1 John 2:9 He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. 10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

ARGU: That's disturbing, isn't it? We have all experienced hatred at times in our lives even as believers. But that isn't what this passage addresses. The verb “hates” refers to someone who lives in hatred to such a point that it characterizes his or her life. You and I know when we meet this kind of person what to expect. Sooner or later their hatred is going to come out.

It's like when we meet a person who's given to gossip. We know that sooner or later while we're talking they're going to gossip about someone.

Listen to these verses again:

1 John 2:9 He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. 10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

APPLI/ARGU: Did you catch that? But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. That speaks of the darkness and the deceitfulness of hatefulness.

Those who profess faith in Jesus Christ yet hate others who have faith in Jesus cannot see that they're dead and living in spiritual darkness. And please note that the hater is supposed to be a Christian because the one he hates is his “brother,” a Christian. This verse points out the darkness and deceitfulness of hatefulness that exists within the visible church..

It is common to be smug in one's hatefulness.

It is common to be comfortable in one's hatefulness. Being religious has a way of sanctifying sins. Being religious has a way of confusing light and darkness.

It is It is common to be blind to one's own hatefulness.

It is It is common to think one's hate is justifiable.

ILLUS/APPLI: Recent events that have been broadcast nation wide have brought haters to the surface. Police officers shooting unarmed men for whatever reason have kept the spirit of racism alive and well in our nation. And, beloved, racism has no place in the body of Christ. Racism is one manifestation of hatred. And hatred is the same as murder in God's judgment. 3:15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

I love repentance. I need repentance occasionally. Perhaps you as one who is in Christ need the gift of repentance this morning. Remember, beloved, every Christian will experience hatred now and then but we don't live in it. We confess it and repent of it. I love repentance.

Even more, I love the grace of God. It may be that someone here this morning needs to experience the saving grace of God. It may be that the Spirit has shown you this morning that you are living in hate and that there is one remedy for it. If the Holy Spirit has shown you that then He has also shown you that Jesus is the Son of God.

Here is the second kind of evidence, the kind that is in favor of the plaintiff, and I'll phrase it this way, “Loving our brothers is evidence of the new birth.”

...and this evidence has evidence.

ILLUS/APPLI: I watch the tv show “Bones” and usually enjoy it. It is way beyond my head when they talk about scientific stuff but I do like it. If you've ever watched it you have probably noticed that cadavers can have lots of evidence within evidence. The body will show that the killer used a knife to kill the victim. But the stab wounds themselves will give evidence of what kind of knife was used. So when Bones and her husband or some other police officer finds a knife at the scene of the crime or in the home of a suspect, Bones can tell whether or not it was the weapon used in the murder.

ARGU: Here is the evidence within the evidence in our favor. Here is all the evidence we need in order to be able to say with confidence “I am in Christ. I am saved.”

#1, 1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.

#2, 1 John 5:1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.

#3, 1 John 4:15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

Can you see the evidence within the evidence? First you know that you love the brethren. Second you know you love the brethren because you are in Christ.

I will close with this, “God's love in us will always trump hate.”

10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.

This is not to say we will never experience fleeting hate or hatred. It is to say that those who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ will recognize hatred when it arises and deny it from building a nest in our hearts.

Fleeting hate is like anxiety in a believer's life. We're told to be anxious for nothing, not to worry about anything, but we all experience times of worry and anxiety. It's what we do with worry and anxiety and hate when they arise that is important.

Where does the evidence lie in you life this morning? For or against you?

There's a simple solution. Your sins were paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ. Trust Him if you're a Christian; trust Him if you aren't.

Inventory time again

An Inventory of Grace

In Paul's Letter To the Ephesians

Chapters 1-2

We are “saints,” “holy ones.” 1:1

We are blessed by God with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. v.3

We were chosen, predestined by God Himself before the foundation of the world. v.4

We were individually adopted by God Himself to be His children. v.5

We are the objects of His good pleasure. v.5

We are redeemed by the blood of Jesus. v.7

We have received abounding grace. v.8

We can now know the mystery of His eternal will. v.9

We have a guaranteed inheritance. v.11, 14

We have heard and believed the gospel. v.13

We are sealed by the Holy Spirit. v.13

We can know what God has done for us and given us in Christ. vv.17-19

We have the same power available to us that raised Jesus from the dead. v.19

We are the precious blood bought body of Christ .vv.22-23

We have been made alive out of a life of death and sin and trespasses. 2:1-5

We have been raised up with Jesus and made to sit in the heavenlies in Him. v.6

We have been saved by grace through faith. vv.8-9

We have a God-given purpose and work in this life. v.10

We Gentiles have been brought near to God by the blood of Jesus. v.13

We have peace with God in Him. v.14

We have been reconciled to God through the cross of Christ. v.16

We have on-going access to God the Father through Christ and by the Spirit. v.18

We are citizens of God's kingdom and members of God's household. v.19

We are a building built by God on the Rock foundation. v.20

We are the holy temple in the Lord. v.21

We are the dwelling place of God in the Spirit. v.22

A Spiritual Inventory

Taking a Spiritual Inventory


I never, ever liked taking inventory on any job I ever worked. It meant that we hirelings had to get up in every box or carton in our section and count and identify every little part we had on our shelves. Sometimes that meant I would be 20 ft. or more off the floor crawling around and over really dirty boxes and bins in order to identify the parts in a box and to count every loose part in open boxes. It was uncomfortable, boring and time consuming. And during inventory, the bosses seemed to be especially ill-tempered and picky, picky, picky.

TRANS/EXPLA/TEXT: This morning we're going to take an inventory of what every Christian possesses. We need to do this occasionally for our encouragement and it happens that Paul's letter to the Ephesians helps us do just that.

Ok, here's what we have on hand:

      1. We have every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies 1:3
      2. We are chosen and predestined 1:4, 5, 11
      3. We are holy and without blame 1:4
      4. We have His love 1:4, 2:4
      5. We are adopted 1:5
      6. We are accepted 1:6
      7. We are redeemed 1:7
      8. We have abounding grace 1:8
      9. We have a heavenly inheritance 1:11
      10. We have the Holy Spirit and His strength 1:13-14; 3:16
      11. We have the guarantee of eternal life 1:13-14
      12. We have the seal of assurance 1:13-14
      13. We have the wedding ring of assurance 1:14
      14. We have the hope of His calling 1:18
      15. The riches of the glory of His inheritance 1:18
      16. We have the exceeding greatness of His resurrection power working in us 1:19
      17. We have new life 2:4-5
      18. We have a new home, a new family and a new country 2:6, 19
      19. We have the soul-saving gift of faith 2:8-9
      20. We have liberty 2:16
      21. We have peace with God 2:14, 17
      22. We have access to the Father 2:18
      23. We possess the promises of God 3:6
      24. We have the knowledge of what God has done for us 3:1-7, 18-19
      25. We have the power of prayer 3:20
      26. We have gifts of the Holy Spirit for our encouragement and the building up of the body of Christ 4:11-16
      27. We have the whole armor of God 6:10-18
      28. We have the written word of God
      29. And, beloved, we have each other.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Law of Moses? It's good...if; it's bad...if.

Recently I've had a dialogue with someone very close to me who has been seduced by the siren call of a works-centered cult. This seductive call attracts many who have been blinded by "the god of this world" and who cannot grasp the concept of the gospel of grace (2 Cor. 4:4). "Sure, I believe in Jesus. But I still think we have to keep the commandments if we want to go to heaven. I still think we have to do something. Believing in Jesus doesn't satisfy that part of me that wants to earn God's favor. I believe that we must observe the Sabbath if we want to be certain we're forgiven and heaven bound." This is a damnable heresy; this cult is anathema; this is a different gospel (Gal. 1:6-9).

The purpose of the apostle Paul's letters to the Romans and the Galatians and the purpose of the letter to the Hebrews was to remind/instruct those who had heard the gospel that justification is "by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, through the gospel alone." One of Paul's early arguments in this vein is this,

Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

So that's how the law can be bad. If anyone believes that he or she must keep the law in order to be right with God and guarantee them a place in heaven, they have fallen from grace and are now obligated to keep the whole law perfectly, guaranteeing that they will not inherit the kingdom of God. If one must keep the law then that one will pay for their own sins, rejecting the once-for-all payment of Jesus Christ's sacrifice. That is the lesson of Galatians.

The law is good and holy and perfect and has its place in the believer's life. But the law was not designed for the righteous but for the unrighteous, the ungodly. Being under the law means that those who are under the law are unrighteous. One cannot be under the law and at the same time under grace and alive in spirit, or indwelt by the Holy Spirit. That's the lesson of Galatians.

Here is the gospel concerning the law:

1 Timothy 1:6-11 6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm. 8 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.
"But we know that the is good if one uses it lawfully." In context, this means that the law is to be employed by the righteous to reveal to the unrighteous their unrighteousness and their dire need for the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Hollywood Template of Faith: Orange Is The New Black Star Explains It

According to millions of folks on this little planet, Jesus was a wimp, a pansy who "never judged anybody" and never said or did anything that would offend anyone. Read "Orange is the new black" star Harney's thoughts on his "faith" and his version of Jesus here. This is important because Harney's thoughts are typical of the inhabitants of planet earth.

Apparently few people who claim to "follow" Jesus or to "love" Him have read His book. His book was written long before the movies came out, ya know. And those who have read it have clearly only read select parts of it, none of which included Matthew 23 or John 8:44. There are many, many other passages in the gospels that report Jesus judging hypocrites and deceivers and the willfully ignorant. He wasn't the "sweet" Caucasian portrayed in movies and modern paintings that we have come to love. He was and is the Son of God, God the Son, the Christ, Messiah, merciful and mighty, and soon-to-return Lord and Judge of all the earth.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The dangers around us. And why God-called pastors must be diligent

For thousands of years now, the world has been exposed to the damnable heresies spawned by the devil himself. Corrupt Hebrews denying their God and His revelations and love and mercy and patience and kindness so perverted their Savior's words til now they are firmly established in their apostasy. And it began in the beginning when Satan deceived Adam and Eve.

The enemies of Yahweh surrounded God's elect during their early years on through their settlement in the "promised land" and enticed them into conforming to them rather than to God's will for them. Judaism quickly became a man-centered religion. Today, the relatively few who still believe in God or a god, worship a god of their own making.

Behind the obvious, the way life appears on the surface and the direction history has taken, God has been and still is working out His plan of redemption, justification through faith in Christ, reconciliation and wrath. Neither major worldly events nor minor worldly events fall outside of God's economy. Behind every major headline is God.

False prophets abound...and always have (2 Pet. 2:1-3). False religions including many that profess the name of Jesus Christ, have used the media to their advantage and are deceiving millions of lost souls in our time. But by far, unbelievers, atheists and agnostics, outnumber those who adhere to some particular religious creed. Of the 7+ billion inhabitants of this planet, 1.5 billion are Roman Catholic, 1.5 billion are Muslim, 2+billion are non-Roman Christians, 1+billion are Hindu, and several million follow some pagan religious systems. (Don't hold me to those figures; they aren't exact or the latest figures).

The folks who sit in the pews of the world's so-called "churches" have been sold a bill of goods that has little resemblance to the gospel of Jesus Christ or the true body of Christ. Extreme teachings on tolerance and all-things politically correct have moved church leaders and their dupes into kicking the Bible out the door. This is evident in the debates over same-sex marriage, homosexuality in general, the reality of hell and God's wrath, and the exclusivity of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.

There are exceptions. There are many men and women of God, God-called men and women, who preach the unadulterated word of God, some well-known, but most unknown. They are, however, being overshadowed by the likes of the Osteens, the Copelands, the Hinns of our day, Joyce Meyer and a thousand other lesser known Pentecostals, Word of Faith heretics and mega-church, multi-site pastors. And the danger is that many of the folks who occupy otherwise godly assemblies have bought what these liars and deceivers are selling. Many of the people who attend the church where I'm a member love Joel and Victoria Osteen and Joyce Meyer. A man of God who pastored a church near my home was fired mainly because he spoke out against (and named names) the false teachers/prophets/bishops/apostles who appear on our televisions.

God is clearly going to hold us accountable for compromising the gospel in accordance with what is popular in our time (2 Cor.2:14-17;  James 3:1ff). God-called pastors as well as false shepherds are given the command to "preach the word" (2 Tim. 4:1-5). We are also commanded to be diligent in our study and delivery of God's word (2 Tim. 2:15).

Ear-scratching preachers/teachers give all too clear evidence that they are not God-called men and women. They who please man as an end cannot please God. And, those who fail to guard their flocks against heresy will give account to God.