Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmas: The War on Jesus

Every Christmas we do the “Holiday Hustle and Bustle Two-Step” and may experience the “Christmas Blues” along with a good mix of some “Christmas Family Conflict.”  But there is one more feature to the “most wonderful time of the year”, the war on Jesus.  Some may say the war on Christmas, but if we are honest, it is really about Jesus.

"It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas . .  Mythicism’s in the Air” was the title of a column that caught my attention, written by Dr. John Dixon.  He is a professor at the University of Sydney teaching a class on the Historical Jesus. 

Mythicism or the Jesus Myth is a teaching that advocates Jesus never existed.  The majority of religious scholars reject the legitimacy of their arguments since there is such wide spread consensus for His existence.  However, this arena of thought is growing in influence and fighting for an academic spot at the table.  During Christmas and Easter we often see these mythicist-driven attacks on Jesus. 

When looking for evidence for the historical Jesus, eye witness accounts are the most valuable.  They are prized above second-hand testimonies, of which there are several in and outside of the Biblical record.  However, the only place that contains first-hand accounts of Jesus is the Bible itself. 

Matthew wrote of meeting Jesus in third person saying, “As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’  And he rose and followed him” (Matt. 9:9).  Paul records his statement writing, “[Jesus] appeared to me also” (1 Cor. 15:8).  And Peter recounts his experience saying he was “a witness of the sufferings of Christ” (1 Pet. 5:1).

For centuries skeptics have put these eye witness accounts on the anvil of doubt. Yet examination after examination has proven their testimonies were reliable.

There is another kind of testimony that also proves the existence of Jesus.  How do you explain the millions of people over the last 2,000 years who have given testimony of being transformed by Jesus?  Most have never met each other, lived in different centuries and on different continents and spoken different languages.  How could they have conspired together?  I argue that every soul who has been born again by the living Christ is a legitimate and definitive source of evidence that proves Jesus is real and alive!

Come on, all doubters and skeptics!  Come to the empty manger, cross and tomb.  You will not find Him there but you can find Him on your knees when you cry out from the depths of your soul to know Him.  There you will see Him in all His glory and be able to give your own eye witness account.                   

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

God & Drinking Christians

Does God’s Word teach that it is okay to drink?  Churches and fellow Christians have divided over this question.  Saying it is a hot topic is putting it mildly.  I would not be surprised if well over 50% of Christians believed it would be okay to have an occasional drink.   
Where do many believers get the idea that God has no problem with drinking?  1 - Jesus’ example.  “If Jesus drank then it is okay for me too.”  2 - The use of the word “wine” in the Bible.  It is shown in a positive light in various passages.  3 - The absence of a statement condemning drinking (aside from drunkenness). 

I oppose the teaching that God permits us to drink.  Here are my reasons.  1 – The use of the word “wine” in the Bible.  It does not always refer to alcohol.  The meaning can refer to both, fermented or unfermented.  This is according to the secular and biblical usages of the word in Greek and Hebrew, Latin and old English definitions.  Biblical context often determines if wine is defined as simple grape juice or alcohol.  2 – Ancient biblical culture’s making of wine.  It was a common practice to mix water into the wine to dilute its alcohol potency.  At the least people drank grape juice, and at the most, a non-alcoholic beverage.  3 – Common sense.  When we say the only rule is not getting drunk, it leads to some odd conclusions.  This means bottoms up for all alcoholic beverages beyond wine such as beer, vodka and whiskey.  This means no limits on how often, just how much.  This means, as long as we do not cross that line, God has no problem with the long-term health effects of alcohol.   

In the midst of my opposition let me also state that I do not believe God views drinking as a sin.  The Bible clearly lays out drunkenness as a sin, not the same with drinking.  There is no “Thou shalt not drink.”  Like many subjects in the arena of Christian living it often comes down to biblical wisdom and our personal motives.   

Let me ask you an honest question?  When you pick up that glass of wine, beer or shot of whiskey what is your motive?  Are you drinking because of the flavor, you are plain thirsty or you want the effect of alcohol?  Experts say that after 1 to 3 drinks (or shots) the alcohol begins to have some effect with feelings of relaxation. Sometimes that is our intent, just to relax.  That is a dangerous place to be with alcohol at our side.  Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). That thief can be alcohol and it starts with one casual drink.  Turn to Jesus and instead of seeking relaxation, seek His abundant life.  May Jesus be your hope for today.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

There Are No Atheists

What is an atheist?  This may sound like a simple question, but there are different answers within the expanding atheistic community.

Atheism is growing in the United States and for decades has had a firm hold on entire nations through communistic based governments like China and North Korea.   

As best I can tell only once in the Scriptures does God address atheism directly saying, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1).  Otherwise, the Scriptures do not devote much time to it, because God does not see atheism as His biggest concern.  The Ten Commandments show the focus of His concern when He says, 
“You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).

God assume two things.  We will either worship Him or something else.  Nowhere does He assume we will worship at the altar of nothing.  Since an atheist would admittedly not worship any god then let us ask “What is a god?”    

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a god as “A person or thing of supreme value.”  I argue this is what atheists are unto themselves.  Since they have nothing to exalt outside of themselves they become their own god thinking more highly of themselves then they should.  They worship the god of themselves and are their own living and breathing idol they bow down to. 

Atheists build a box around themselves keeping God out with only themselves inside.  Their means of living is purely self-sufficient, cutting off all the blessings and beauty of the one true God only doing, controlling and becoming what they can manage.  It is like they say, “All I want.  All I need is right here in this box.” 

God the Creator who made us (including all the atheists) put a natural desire within us to seek and know Him.  When atheists put a box around themselves, it instinctively sets off a divine internal restlessness. 

I challenge every atheist to open the box, step out and seek his or her Creator.  You were made to know Him.  There is no reason to fear.  God loves you and seeks your best for His glory.  May Jesus be your hope for today. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Religious Hypocrites

A Florida teenager once made national news after he was arrested for an impersonation stunt.  Matthew, an 18 year old, wormed his way into being a Physician’s Assistant at a local hospital.  He had an I.D. badge, the right clothes and was even trusted by a doctor to do CPR on a patient.      
Matthew was a fake, pretender or an actor.  In a word he was a hypocrite.  Often people say the reason they do not attend church is because some religious hypocrite ruined it for them.  I have been in church since I was a little boy and have seen my share of these fake Christians.  

What is so frustrating is these Bible-toting pretenders appear to say and do all the right things and get away with it.  They go to church, speak good Christianeze and give the impression of being a good person, while many believe them.  However, in places or circumstances where the mask comes off, another side is exposed.  Their immorality, selfishness or anger surfaces.  People who witness this see first-hand the two-faced act being played out. 

Jesus once said these religious hypocrites will stand before Him on their day of reckoning and plead for mercy saying, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” (Matthew 7:22).  Yet they will be utterly shocked to hear Jesus say, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Mathew 7:23).  We can fool others or even ourselves, but nobody can fool Jesus.   

“Unless one is born again”, Jesus clearly stated, “he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).  Being good some of the time is not good enough.  We must be born again through the work of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Then we must walk in loving and humble submission to Him, for Jesus tells us that “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).      

Stop being a pretender and start being real.  Surrender your whole life to Christ.  Call upon Him in a spirit of brokenness and be changed in a moment.  May Jesus be your hope for today.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Sexually Tolerant Culture

Depending on your view point America is either evolving into a greater and more tolerant society or nose diving into moral oblivion.  Gradually, behaviors once thought socially taboo is now societal norms.  Fornication is two unmarried people who are sexually active.  Once there were laws on the books that were enforced to deter such a lifestyle.  The same goes for co-habitation, homosexuality and adultery.  One by one these laws have been reversed or no longer enforced.  As a result, pornography, incest, sexual trafficking, prostitution, rape have become dangerous and perverted spin offs of our sexually tolerant culture.  Truly we are living in the most sexualized period of American and world history.    
This new reality does not negate the eternal truth of choices and consequences.  Yes, millions celebrate as our nation, along with many others, progress morally.  However, my heart fears the coming day when the price must be paid for the moral path we have taken and then, cheers of joy will become tears of sorrow.         

I make a call for people to turn to Jesus and away from the rising tide of these new moral norms.  The legality, societal acceptance, and persuasive argument for them can easily sway you and me to go-along and join the swelling crowd. 

Jesus once spoke of the wide and narrow roads, both with very different journeys and destinations.  He said, “The gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).  The wide road is filled with crowds pleasuring themselves without restraint.  The narrow road has few people because it is hard to turn away from the strong worldly appeals and walk in holiness before God.  Even so, for those who persevere, the reward is eternal life. 

What path do you choose?  If you want real, lasting life then pack up and send off your old ways.  However, realize it cannot be done on mere resolve with temptation all around.  You need to start with a new heart and mind.  Only Jesus, through His death and resurrection can give you the change and power to become a new man or woman.  Call on Him in faith right now and may He be your hope for today.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Does America Need God?

During September 1861 President Abraham Lincoln signed a proclamation calling for a national observance of "public humiliation, prayer and fasting." Why? Months earlier the Union troops came under fire at Fort Sumter sending the teetering nation into a bloody civil war. Lincoln discerned the days ahead would be long, dark and critical for the future of America. He urged his fellow countrymen to offer "fervent supplications to Almighty God for the safety and welfare of these States, His blessings on their arms, and a speedy restoration of peace." The President knew he needed power and wisdom beyond himself. He knew only the God of heaven and earth could save his divided nation.

Lincoln’s approach to a national crisis is much different than the modern era. Today’s leaders respond to a crisis by urging citizens to "rebuild", "not quit", promising to "bring justice" and "whatever resources are needed." It is a response that trusts in the people and government to overcome with no mention of the need for God or the problem of evil.

During these times it appears motivational and inspiring to urge people onward reminding them of the pioneering, self-reliant American spirit in our country’s history. Even so, is that really our best way to respond to tragedy, natural disasters, war, crime, economic turmoil and political divides?

One army faced great odds as they lined up for battle yet they succeeded. The reason for their success was based on who they trusted in. The Bible says "The men of Judah prevailed, because they relied on the Lord" (2 Chronicles 13:18). Almighty God is the one who raises up nations and allows them to crumble. We think too highly of ourselves if we believe America’s future rests in our hands alone. It reveals a national arrogance. The Scriptures say, "For God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:6). During crises we do not need God’s opposition, rather we need His grace. 

There is only one being who is powerful enough to rescue America, Almighty God. When our nation faces crises may our leaders and a humble remnant bow before the Most High with unwavering faith and seek His intervention. May God Himself be our nation’s hope for today.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

What is a Real Man?

Tony Fadell was the architect of something you have probably heard of – the iPod.  Under the direction of Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, Fadell and his team developed the new technology.  What was the purpose for this industry-changing gadget?  According to Jobs, it was to put “1,000 songs in your pocket”.   

The God of heaven and earth is the architect of human beings making them male and female, and He wants to put a purpose in every man’s heart.  God has created men for a much higher calling then what we observe in society.  First, there is the TV-sitcom guy.  He is portrayed as lazy, lacking character and more interested in being entertained than anything else.  Then there is the work-all-the-time guy.  This type of man is viewed as a workaholic, highly driven and finds his personal worth tethered to his occupation.       

God called it “good” when he made the man and into the fabric of his being He built an instinctive desire to protect, provide and lead.  However, that is to be carried out within the framework of two very important commandments.  Love God and love others. 

This is where men get side tracked and draw some valid criticism.  The TV-sitcom guy thinks life is about his fun, and the work-all-the-time guy, his career.  In neither case is there a humble attitude of love through service to those whom the man has been given responsibility for.   

God has a vision for every man.  It is discovered through Jesus, the standard for all men.  He was the hardest working man of His day, and during a time of crisis we saw the heart of this man’s man.  It was the moment He suffered and died on His cross.  He willingly laid down His life for the sake of others.  Men are called to live the same way.  Regardless if a man is married or single, he is urged to observe the attitude of humility that spills out of this Scripture “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).       

Jesus has pioneered a new path for all men.  Turn to Him and aspire to become the kind of man He was and still is today.  May He be your hope for today and model for genuine manhood.    

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Commencement Wisdom

During May over six million students are expected to graduate from high schools, colleges and universities.  These teenagers and twenty-somethings will reach a milestone and have a new beginning for themselves.  If you know of a graduate here are a few pieces of commencement wisdom to pass along.       

Rejoice and celebrate your achievement.  Years have been invested to get to this point.  Do not let it slide by without enjoying the moment.  Celebrate!     
Resolve to never give up.  There were challenges in reaching this day and there will be challenges tomorrow.  Researchers say that there will be over 20% of high school students and over 40% of college and university students who will never reach graduation.  You did.  You overcame.    
Recall the people that helped you make it. No man is an island to himself. Thank the people who helped you along the way. Henry Ward Beecher once said, "Gratitude is the fairest blossom, which springs from the soul.”
Release the heartache connected with the journey. Your celebration may be bittersweet. Maybe a loved one or close friend has passed away and their absence is heart-wrenching. Maybe there is some relationship conflict sucking the joy out of the air. When you receive that diploma or degree, vow to release the pain and step into the future. 
Remember Almighty God. A wise King once said, “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). It is very easy to forget God when we are young. A sense of adventure, a desire to question and the journey towards independence can all lead there. Yet, He has a way of keeping us in-check. It is often found in those times of adversity when our determination and ability cannot fix the situation. We realize we are at the mercy of time, chance or others. God uses these moments to teach us that we need the intervention of someone outside of ourselves – Him. 

As you reach this milestone, be resolved to depend upon God with all your heart.  He is real and trustworthy.  May you become a follower of Jesus, God’s only Son, and may He bring you hope for today and your future.   

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


The other day I was listening to a talk radio show when I heard the host say, “What the h__ll do they think they are doing?”  I said to myself, “I don’t want to listen to language like that!” and changed the channel.  Then one evening I was watching a TV show and one of the characters said, “Just quit b__ching about your friend and go talk to her.”   There I was again changing channels. 

According to an Associated Press survey from several years ago, 64% of Americans confess to using profanity.  Personally, I think it is higher.  Let me ask, should this be seen as a problem in society?  It should be because it demonstrates that nearly a super-majority of America’s population has a Mt. Everest-sized character problem.  Here are three evidences that profanity is about character.  1)  Anger-driven.  When someone rattles off a series of expletives cutting people down like a weed-eater - it is about character.  2)  Vulgar humor.  When someone feels compelled to include gutter-language in every joke – it is about character.  3)  Thoughtlessness.  When someone spews forth their sewer-mouth around young children, true ladies and gentlemen and in general public settings (like social media) – it is about character.   

I want to challenge us as a society to raise our standards.  Let us start a hash tag campaign #nomoreprofanity to raise awareness of this issue and use positive peer pressure to encourage people to change their language.

Jesus is a model for raising standards through His famous Sermon on the Mount.  He once said, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.”  (Matthew 5:37)  This means to keep our language simple and clean and if we have a problem with profanity it is because we have a problem with our heart. 

Changing how we speak can be difficult, if we do it on our own.  However, if we call upon Jesus and ask Him to change our heart, then He will touch our lips too.  May Jesus be our hope for today and our standard for living.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Who is Jesus?

The Quran says about Jesus, “Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a Messenger of Allah, and His Word” (The Quran 4:171).  The Jehovah’s Witness New World Translation says He was “a god” (John 1:1). Notice the small “g”.  Rabbi Shraga Simmons says that, according to Judaism, “Jews to not accept Jesus as the messiah”.

The existence of God is denied by millions.  However, world religions, historians and most people agree in the existence of Jesus.  Agreement gathers around what He did calling Him a good man, miracle-worker or powerful teacher.  Interestingly though, when we move from “what Jesus did” to “who He was” division begins. 

The main point of tension is this statement - Jesus is the one true God in human flesh.  Despite centuries of heated disagreement such a statement reveals who He really is.  It all started with Jesus who once said about Himself, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9), or in other words, “When you see me, you see God.”   

Again, most people also agree Jesus died, but why did He?  Those who actually conspired to put Him to death tell us it was because He claimed to be God.  They once accused Him saying “you, being a man, make yourself God” (John 11:33).  His fierce opponents did not realize how they were helping the world to know who He truly was.  Jesus ultimately died because He claimed to be God, which He did openly for all to see and hear.  Then three days later He rose from the dead validating everything He spoke of.        

Why does this point of Jesus being God matter, because it changes everything.  What if an atheist who agreed in the existence of the historical Jesus also believed He was God?  It would change everything.  What if a Muslim who accepted that Jesus was a great prophet also believed He was God?  It would change everything.  What if a Jew who agreed that Jesus was a great teacher also believed He was true Messiah?  It would change everything.  Most importantly though, what do you believe?  A good man cannot forgive your sin.  Only Jesus can.  A miracle-worker cannot remove your guilt and shame.  Only Jesus can.  A powerful teacher cannot redeem your life from the pits of despair.  Only Jesus can.  Believe in Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  May Jesus be your hope for today.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

What is True Love?

What is love?  One search engine on the Internet indicated over one billion searches have been made for that question.  The music group Foreigner hit number one on the charts several years ago with their song “I Want to Know What Love Is”.  No matter if we are single or married, or young or old, we want to know what love is.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “a feeling of a strong or constant affection for a person”.  What if that feeling slips away over time?  What if that feeling is for more than one person, especially after we are married, then what? 

The Scriptures say, “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.  If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised” (Song of Solomon 8:7).  God speaks of love in this particular context as a strong romantic affection between a man and a woman.  It might be when you think about and want to be with that person, and are mysteriously drawn to him or her.  Let us call this desire.  There is good desire (or affection) and bad.  When we have this desire for someone outside of marriage, it is bad.  It should be kept within the boundary of the husband and wife relationship.  When desire turns into immoral lust, it is bad.  We know it is lust (and not true love) when we are driven by our insatiable dreams and our physical obsession for another person.  The test of bad desire is, “I want for me.”  The test of good desire is, “I want so I can serve and bless another person.”

How can we find real love?  It starts with the author of love Himself, God.  He created the first man and woman, brought them together and presided over their marriage.  The Scriptures say “God is love” (1 John 4:8).  How did He demonstrate that love?  When He sent His Son, Jesus, to suffer and die upon a cross for you and me that we might call upon Him for the forgiveness of our sins, it was real love. 

Genuine love starts at affection then moves on to sacrificial service.  It is not about what I am getting, but what I am giving.  It is not if I am saying the right words, but if I am listening with the right heart.  It is not about what I am feeling, but how I am serving.

May God be your hope for today as you seek for and live out true love.                                       

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Pregnant & Afraid

Jill, a high school senior, took the emotional wrenching drive to the clinic. Nervously she sat, seeming unsure of herself. It felt like there was no other way to handle her unplanned pregnancy.   

There are millions who can identify with Jill. It might be a pregnant college girl and boyfriend who are not ready for the challenges of parenthood, a pregnant single mom who cannot afford another child or a couple who knows the baby they are carrying will likely have a life-long disability.

Hope is that intangible thing you need when you feel overwhelmed by your circumstances.  It is that gentle voice inside that in our moment of crisis, challenges us to believe in someone that is greater than our self. 

If you are pregnant, living in a very difficult set of circumstances and wondering what to do, let me say, “There is hope!”   

Have hope for your baby.  Any ultrasound or a simple hand on the belly will prove it is not just an “it” or blob of tissue.  You.  Are.  Carrying.  Life!  Let your mind dream of what your baby could grow up and become.  Imagine. Dream great dreams for that little one you are carrying.   

Have hope for yourself.  Choosing an abortion tosses those dreams away and will etch a tragic memory on the walls of your mind.  This baby can be a new beginning.  Like the start of a new year.  Determine to accept this child and be the very best father or mother your baby could ever have.  Another way is adoption.  Perhaps you could fulfill the wish of a couple out there.  Maybe there is a loving husband and wife who would welcome your baby into their home. 

Have hope through forgiveness.  Maybe you have already had an abortion and the sense of guilt and shame weighs heavy on your shoulders.  What can you do to find relief from this burden? 

Centuries ago, Jesus provided a way for complete forgiveness.  His sacrificial death on a cross atoned for all our sin.  His blood that was shed covered our sin, removed it and washed us clean.  The atoning work of Jesus and the relief it brings is waiting for you.  If you call out to Him, He stands ready to forgive.  God says, “I will be merciful toward their iniquities [sins], and I will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12).  Imagine having your sins remembered no more.  The peace.  The joy.  May Jesus be your hope for today and in the choices you face.