So, you want to be more like Jesus, do you? Are you sure about that?

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“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”
– C.S. Lewis


When was the last time you faced adversity in your life?

I mean real adversity.

I’m not talking about the “My cellphone battery just died!” or the “Bae didn’t text me back last night!” kind of tumult.

I’m talking about a difficulty or hardship that was so tangibly devastating, it ushered you into a period, perhaps prolonged, of doubt or unbelief in God as a result of what He had allowed to take place in your life.

As you reflect on those times of trial and testing, tell me, would you say you were successful in dealing with them or did you fall short in some way?

Don’t worry.

You can be completely transparent.

There’s no spiritual lie detector test awaiting you at the end of this blog post.

By the way, in case you’re wondering, no, this isn’t another treatise on how “the patience of Job” is the ideal example for how Christians are to deal with times of adversity in our life.

Nothing against Job, mind you.

It’s just that when you truly study the book of Job in detail, what you’ll find is that it is actually God who is the patient one, not Job.

But, then, I digress…

A firm faith in the universal providence of God is the solution of all earthly troubles.” – B. B. Warfield

Believers in Christ face somewhat of a conundrum in that despite the difficult circumstances we encounter, we nevertheless are expected to live out that which we say we believe. This is because the manner in which we handle adversity is a direct reflection, for better or worse, on the God who, by His own life, served as our model.

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.”1 Peter 2:21

Notwithstanding the particulars of any trial in which we may find ourselves, the dilemma for the Christian is that adversity brings us face to face with a reality we hesitate to acknowledge exists: that the sheer weight of being obligated to model Christ in a world so beset with sin and its effects – loss, pain, disappointment – is to a great extent what makes dealing with those situations so challenging for us.

“If somebody else made me, for his own purposes, then I shall have a lot of duties which I should not have if I simply belonged to myself.” – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 74

Adversity in the life of the Christian brings together two theological dynamics: theodicy – the “bad” or “evil” (as we deem them)  events that an innately good God allows in our life,  and teleology – the divine purposes for which an innately good God allows those “bad” or “evil” events to happen in our life.

In light of this, I would venture to say that most of us would be inclined to accept the theodicy of adversity – the what – if for no other reason than we know cognizantly that God’s word clearly states we should expect such things to occur in this life (James 1:2; 2 Timothy 3:12.)

Though we may not always know what is coming our way, we know something is; and for the most part, we’re okay with that. What we have a problem with, however, is the teleology of adversity – the why – because God’s ends are often less obvious to us than are His means. We would be much more accepting of the what that God allows into our life if only we knew the why.

“When we examine the explanations the Bible gives for why God does what He does, we find clearly stated subordinate and ultimate ends. Though God is beyond our comprehension, we can know Him and speak meaningfully about Him because He has revealed Himself to us in the written and living Word. Moreover, God has given us His Spirit to teach and lead those who believe. By the Spirit, in faith, we can discern God’s subordinate and ultimate ends because the Bible reveals them to us.” – James M. Hamilton, Jr., God’s Glory In Salvation Through Judgment: A Biblical Theology, p. 48

If we were honest we would have to admit, would we not, that oftentimes what we really want when times of adversity come and our sense of comfort and control is disrupted, is some sort of spiritual loophole that relieves us of these situations (and their consequences) or, better yet, helps us avoid them altogether.

There are those within the Church today who would have us believe the Christian life is all gain and no pain.

But, then, that’s not how the Christians life works, is it?

As our Lord bore His own cross, so we too must bear ours.

“For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”Philippians 1:29

As difficult as it is – and it certainly can be – believers in Christ must be willing to accept that if we are going to claim to serve a God who is sovereign and, consequently, who knows what is best for us, we may at times experience the what of adversity without ever knowing the why.

Then, again, it could be that God has made the why known to us all along – to conform us into the image of His Son (Romans 8:28-29.) If this is true, and I believe Scripture supports that it is, the question we must ask ourselves is this:

Given the extent to which a sovereign, omniscient, and omnipotent God desires to use adversity to accomplish this transformation in us, am I really sure that I want to be more like Jesus?

If so, then, adversity is the means by which God will bring it to fruition in your life.

“Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.” – Hebrews 5:8

Humbly in Christ and for His glory alone,

Darrell

Related:
What is God’s Glory? – The Gospel Coalition
What does the Bible say about suffering? – Got Questions.org
The Faithful Endurance of Suffering – Ligonier Ministries

Why Fans of False Teachers Are So Eager to Defend Them

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Creflo Dollar, founder and senior pastor, World Changers International
Image credit: patheos.com


There is a degree of double-mindedness in the Church today when it comes to false teachers.

It is a duality which manifests itself primarily in the fact that, as Christians, we will readily acknowledge that the Bible addresses the issue of false teachers (Jeremiah 23:1-4; Matthew 7:15; Acts 20:29-31; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; 1 John 4:1), and yet, we will not hesitate to take offense when what the Bible says about false teachers is applied to certain individuals of whom we happen to be fans.

That’s right – fans.

We say things such as “I like” this preacher or that evangelist or that teacher, as if they were performers on a stage. And though many of them are, no doubt, it is our personal fondness for these individuals that all too often shapes and influences our theology, despite the heresy they propagate.

Creflo lies

The manner in which these false teachers engage their followers is so sophisticated and subtle, that it lulls them into a degree of personal attachment that renders the veracity of their hermeneutics of no real importance.

What was once declared as, “Thus says the Lord!”, has now become, “Thus says [insert his or her name here]!”

Consequently, biblical truth is no longer determined through an objective analysis of the Word of God, but is defined solely on the basis that the person with whom we are so enamored said so. And because I happen to be a fan of the person who said this or that, what he or she said must be the truth, right?

“For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed – God is witness – nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others.” – 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6a (NASB)

One would think the answer to the aforementioned question would be rather obvious, but it is not.

As dangerous as biblical heresy is in and of itself – and no Christian who is truly redeemed would deny that false teachers are in fact a present-day reality in the Church – an equally concerning problem is the apparent ease at which those who subscribe to their deceptive practices are so quick to come to their defense, as if upholding the integrity of the person they’re so infatuated with were of greater importance to them than defending the integrity of Christ and His gospel.

“Truth could not be truth in this world if it were not a warring thing, and we should at once suspect that it were not true if error were friends with it. The spotless purity of truth must always be at war with the blackness of heresy and lies.” – C.H. Spurgeon

At the heart of the issue of false teachers – and those who defend them – is the question of truth.

The reason there are “false” teachers to begin with, is because there is such a thing as truth. It is Christ Himself who declared that the word of God is truth; and who prayed that those who believe in Him would be sanctified in that truth (John 17:17).

When we who profess to follow Christ take more offense at someone pointing out to us the error of an individual we may admire than at the error itself, we look less like the body of Christ and more like a cult of personality.

Ironically, it is this very issue which the apostle Paul addressed with those who composed the church at Corinth:

For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.” – 1 Corinthians 3:4-5 (NASB)

In devoting ourselves so fanatically to the men and women who have attached their name to the various “ministries” they lead, we ascribe to mere finite human beings the glory, reverence, honor, and adoration that should be ascribed only to an infinite God (1 Chronicles 16:25-34; Psalm 29:1-2; Psalm 96:7-13).

It is this emotional and psychological attachment that blinds us to the error being proffered by these false teachers, and that is idolatry.

Joel Osteen lies

It should never be assumed simply because someone stands on a stage raising a Bible in the air while leading thousands of people in chanting a mantra, that what is being spoken is biblically and theologically sound.

“For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but what it really is, the word of God.” – 1 Thessalonians 2:13 (NASB)

Despite all the buzz words and clichés being thrown around about “living your best life now” and being “world changers”, what ultimately matters is whether or not what is actually being preached is biblically accurate.

With this in mind, we must be willing to set aside our own personal preferences and predilections about individual personalities for the sake of the reputation of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel is much larger than any individual.

Any individual.

As followers of Christ, we should be just as passionate that the Gospel is preached in truth as we are convinced that the Gospel is the Truth.

Even if it hurts our feelings.

Humbly in Christ and for His glory,

Darrell

Related:
What are the marks of a false teacher? – John MacArthur
Signs of the false teacher – Ligonier Ministries
5 Errors of the Prosperity Gospel – The Gospel Coalition
Watch out for those who lead you away from the truth – Desiring God

The One Question Everyone Seems to Be Asking

“I have come as a Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.”John 12:46 (NASB)

http://www.wga.hu/art/s/stom/abraham.jpgAbraham with Sarah and Hagar
Image credit. wga.hu


It seems everywhere you turn today people are asking, “Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

It is an interesting question for many reasons, not the least of which is both Christianity and Islam are Abrahamic religions in that they each subscribe to the belief that God first revealed Himself to Abraham Genesis 15:1 (who was called Abram at the time God initially appeared to him.)

That Christians and Muslims share a common historical connection to Abraham is sufficient for many people to answer the aforementioned question in the affirmative.

Their rationale being that since Abraham is the biological father of both Ishmael (Genesis 16:1-12) and Isaac (Genesis 21:1-8), that the God in whom Abraham believed (Genesis 15:6) is also the God of his descendants.

The problem with this reasoning, however, is that sharing a common biological ancestry does not equate to sharing a common theology.

Faith in God is not something that is inherited by one person from another like so many X and Y chromosomes. Rightly or wrongly, to subscribe to the tenets of any worldview – be it religious, social, philosophical, etc. – is to make an individual and conscious decision to do so.

For example, I have two children. As a Christian, my personal faith in Jesus Christ cannot be vicariously appropriated to them as being efficacious for their salvation.

As I teach my son and daughter about Christ, and as the Spirit of God graciously brings about an understanding of the truth of the Gospel in their hearts, it is they who must decide for themselves to believe (or not) in Christ and in His atoning work on the cross (John 3:16-18.) This is why followers of Christ are encouraged to pray for the salvation of those who do not know Him as Lord and Savior, because faith in God is a spiritual matter; it is not something we acquire by means of biological legacy or heritage. (John 3:36; 1 Timothy 2:3-4.)

Notwithstanding the many theological dynamics involved, it stands to reason that an objective analysis of this question must conclude that not only do Christians and Muslims not worship the same God, they cannot worship the same God.

When you really think about it, the answer to the question is intrinsic to the question itself.

Consider how the question is worded: “Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?” The conjunction ‘and’ is of vital importance as it establishes unambiguously that the two groups – Christians and Muslims – are distinct from one another. Though only a 3-letter word, it is an ocean that separates one theological continent from another, reinforcing the fact that Muslims are not Christians and, conversely, Christians are not Muslims.

Having established this distinction, the question then becomes: why does this distinction exist at all?

If a historical connection to Abraham is what inexorably links Christians and Muslims – as if a kind of temporal oneness between the two groups is the ultimate goal – then, why are there such labels as Christian and Muslim to begin with?

Is the Christian belief in Jesus and, conversely, the Muslim belief in Allah, simply a matter of religious climate change that resulted in an ideological parting of the ways over time? Or, is it something that is rooted in a deep theological schism brought about by a fundamental disagreement about who the one true God actually is?

The reason the “same God” question is a question at all, is because despite the common thread shared in Islam and Christianity (through Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac), the question of who Muslims and Christians actually worship as God remains, as it has for thousands of years, the central issue.

Again, based on logic alone, one would have to conclude that since Muslims revere Allah as God and Christians revere Jesus as God (John 1:1-3, 14; Colossians 1:15-17, 19, 2:9), that Muslims do not revere Jesus as God and Christians do not revere Allah as God. Therefore, Christians and Muslims cannot worship the same God because there exists an impassible theological chasm as it relates to who God is.

The Oxford dictionary defines worship as “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.”

Given this objective definition of worship, does it stand to reason that any person who professes to be Muslim would confess that he or she “reveres” and “adores” Jesus as deity (God)? Or, conversely, that any professing Christian would acknowledge the same about Allah?

The obvious answer to these questions is no.

Why?

Simple.

Because, the issue is not Abraham.

The issue is Abraham’s God.

With this in mind, the question really isn’t “Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?” but “Who do Christians and Muslims worship as God?”

To answer the latter is to answer the former.

Humbly in Christ and for His glory,

Darrell

Also:
The FAQs: Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God? – The Gospel Coalition
Question: “Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?” – Got Questions
The Wheaton Controversy: Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God? – RZIM

The Embers of Our Empires

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“Rosebud.”

It was the last word spoken by millionaire newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane, the fictional character portrayed by the incomparable Orson Welles in the 1941 classic Citizen Kane, a film many believe – including yours truly – to be the greatest motion picture ever made.

With sincere apologies to those who have never seen the film, Citizen Kane concludes with a small group of newspaper reporters gathered together in a grandiose room somewhere within the Kane estate, Xanadu, pondering among themselves the significance of the final word uttered by the acquisitive tycoon.

As the disappointed reporters leave, the scene shifts to a handful of workers whose task it is to dispose of all of Kane’s worldly possessions into a fiery furnace, including his beloved wooden sled Rosebud, which a young Charles Foster Kane had treasured during snowy winters as a boy. So numerous were the boxes containing Kane’s belongings, that they resembled what one might imagine the inside of an Amazon.com distribution center would look like.

And yet, despite all the wealth, possessions, and relationships Kane accumulated for himself, the one thing he longed for as he lay alone dying was that old wooden sled which brought him such happiness as a child, but had eluded him during the course of his worldly endeavors as an adult.

It would be easy to assume that the problem Charles Foster Kane had is that he simply owned too much stuff. But, to draw such a conclusion raises a series of important questions. For example:

Why does such a concept as “too much” exist to begin with?

Who or what determines how “too much” is defined or when a person has reached that threshold in terms of material possessions?

Should those who happen to meet that threshold aspire to abase themselves of their possessions? If so, why?

These are crucial questions to consider because when it comes to having (or not) “too much” of anything  – whether it be a thing, an animal, or a person – the issue isn’t necessarily the objects of our desire but our motive for desiring them.

“Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. This too is vanity.” – Ecclesiastes 2:18-19

Desire is a matter of the heart.

Biblically speaking, the heart (kardia in the Greek) represents our entire mental and moral activity, both the rational and emotional elements. Therefore, the heart, with regard to moral significance, encompasses emotion, reason, and will. The heart is the place where, for better or worse, our deepest motives, intentions, and impulses reside.

As such, desire is never predicated upon external factors such as the possessions we own, but is rooted in an internal and antecedent heart-attitude which influences our pursuit of those possessions and the significance we place upon them.

“We all profess that we are bound for heaven, immortality, and glory; but is it any evidence that we really desire it if all our thoughts are consumed with the trifles of this world, which we must leave behind us, and have only occasional thoughts of things above?” – John Owen

The story is told of an eastern ascetic, a “holy man”, who every day would sit on a prominent street corner in his city, covered in ashes as an act of self-humiliation. One day, a passing tourist asked the man if he would mind having his picture taken. “No, I don’t mind,” he said, “but first, let me rearrange my ashes.”

“But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” – Galatians 6:14

We may not want to admit it but, the truth is, we all have our ashes, the “stuff” we’ve achieved or accumulated over the course of our lives that we enjoy taking pride in and showing off, such as our children, our bank account balance, our educational accomplishments, the tony zip code we live in, the nice car we drive, etc., and that we like to arrange in such a way as to be noticed by others so that we feel better about ourselves and the part we played in making those achievements a reality.

Notwithstanding his vast material wealth, Charles Foster Kane is no different from you or me, as the same nature that fed his desire for significance and meaning dwells within each of us.

The vainglorious pursuits which Kane engaged in were merely a reflection of a preexisting heart condition, a malady from which we all suffer – sin.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23

The reason we are cautioned against having “too much” is because the sinful condition of our heart makes us susceptible to making unwise decisions and choices that do not align with God’s will for our life.

You see, the truth is, it is not our possessions that is the problem but how our heart shapes and influences the value we place on them.

Charles Foster Kane is but one example, albeit fictional, that it is never money itself – or any other material possession – that is inherently evil, but that we would have an ungodly desire for it (1 Timothy 6:10; James 4:3).

And desire is always a matter of the heart (Mark 7:17-23).

“Little children, guard yourselves from idols.” – 1 John 5:21

The irony that everything Charles Foster Kane owned ended up as a pile of ashes at the bottom of a furnace, is that all you and I own will eventually end up likewise.

With this immutable reality in mind, perhaps it would be better for us to view our possessions not as lasting empires to ourselves but as momentary embers which, after glowing brightly for a short time, will one day flicker out so that they are no more than ashes and dust.

Humbly in Christ and for His glory alone,

Darrell

http://www2.tfo.org/ImageLib/Louise/rosebud-sled.pngImage credit: www1.tfo.org

When God Surprises Us With Blessings We Would Rather Do Without

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Psst!

I’m going to let you in on a little secret about me, okay?

Not that you want or need to know, but, here it is anyway.

I don’t like surprises.

In fact, I loathe them.

If you wanna get on my nerves, surprise me with something.

Anything.

It doesn’t matter what it is, good or bad, if I don’t know about it advance, then, chances are I probably won’t like it, not immediately anyway, and I may not like you for surprising me with it.

Trust me when I say it would be much better for everyone involved if the one doing the surprising would just tell me up front what’s going on, so that I’m not caught off guard and can do what is necessary to deal with whatever it is that might be in store for me.

But, enough about me.

Let’s take this a step further.

What about you?

Have you ever considered that, as a Christian, you serve a God who likes surprises?

Not in the sense that you or I could ever take by surprise a God who is omniscient and all-knowing, but that He, in His sovereign wisdom, will often interject into our life those unexpected interruptions that catch us off-guard and that disrupt our own personal sense of security and assurance.

When we hear the word “surprise” our default reaction is to think of it only in positive terms; that whatever the surprise is, we tend to assume it will be something we’re going to like, the one thing that will ultimately satiate that long-held need or desire and bring us to a place of happiness and contentment.

And why wouldn’t we assume such a thing?

After all, what kind of person would offer as a surprise anything that would engender feelings of anxiety, fear, and insecurity in us?

Well, what if I told you God is that kind of person?

It’s not that God wants us to experience these emotions out of some divinely sadistic desire to see us suffer or struggle, but that He wants to use the unforeseen events in our life to mature and sanctify us spiritually so that we increasingly reflect the image of Christ.

“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…” (Romans 8:29a)

Now, having said that, I will readily admit that when it comes to matters like suffering, we Christians have a tendency to over-spiritualize things.

In our zeal to offer godly hope and encouragement to people who are hurting, we instinctively resort to pitching Scripture verses as a nostrum for the tangible and often extremely intense pain they are going through, because we believe that’s what “good Christians” are supposed to do. This is completely understandable given that as Christians we know, we are convinced, we wholeheartedly believe, that the answers to all the problems of this life are found in God’s Word (Proverbs 30:5.)

Nevertheless, despite our good intentions, what we don’t always understand is that in moments of intense suffering those who are in the throes of it may not necessarily appreciate (or want to) their experience for the blessing that it is, because blessings are often realized in hindsight rather than foresight.

“For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” Philippians 1:29

Suffering and blessing are the oil and water of the Christian life.

It doesn’t always make sense to us that they would go together, but they do. As difficult as it is to accept, such a paradox is the road Christ has ordained that His elect should travel.

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow.”1 Peter 2:21

Nevertheless, we do not travel the road of suffering alone.

Yeah, I know.

You’ve heard that one before. I get it. I do. But, trust me, it’s true.

In fact, it is a lesson I’m learning right now even as I type this.

“It will be of great advantage to the struggling Christian to remember that seasons of darkness are normal in the Christian life. I don’t mean that we should not try to live above them. I mean that if we do not succeed, we are not lost, and we are not alone, as the fragment of our faith cleaves us to Christ.” – John Piper, When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing All We Can While We Wait for God – and Joy, p. 34 (Kindle)

In those surprise moments when God allows the unexpected to intrude upon our lives, we must take comfort in the fact that Jesus was both verus homus and verus Deus – truly man and truly God (Colossians 1:15, 2:9) – and, as such, He knows exactly where we are and what we’re going through (Hebrews 4:15-16.)

That said, however, let’s not kid ourselves, okay?

The reality is that we are fallen human beings who live in a fallen world where the effects of sin make it so that in the midst of suffering, holding on even to the eternal truths of God’s Word is oftentimes easier said than done.

Much easier.

As I said before, the last thing I want to do is over-spiritualize this issue. Only Jesus was verus homus and verus Deus. We, on the other hand, are not.

Our position in Christ does not magically transform us into “super-Christians” walking around with a big ‘C’ on our chest, as if we were somehow immune to the effects of instances of sadness, pain, and despondency that God allows into our life.

“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.” C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock (1948)

Unexpected suffering may be a surprise to us but it is not to God.

After all, it is He who allows it into our life to begin with.

That’s not to say it won’t be difficult for us to trust Him in those situations, because it most certainly can be, which is why we need to be patient with others who are suffering and not be so quick to “minister” to them with Scripture passages when, perhaps, what is most needed is to love them by simply being available to them with no other agenda in mind.

“The truth of the matter is that no matter what kind of hardship we might find ourselves going through, every human on the planet, even those who are outside of God’s electing grace, moves through his days in a context of unfathomable grace.” – R.C. Sproul, Jr., Believing God: 12 Biblical Promises Christians Struggle to Accept, p. 91

We may not always see God’s surprises as blessings, as they can stretch our faith in God in ways that, to say the least, make us uncomfortable if not downright scared.

But, be encouraged.

Even in our times of doubt and unbelief – and there will be – we must remind ourselves, and each other, that we serve a God with whom we can be completely transparent and honest (Matthew 11:28.)

He understands and knows how fragile we are (Psalm 103:14) and that there are some surprises He sends our way which, though we know are ultimately meant for our good (Romans 8:28; Philippians 1:6), we would much rather do without.

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell

The Fallacy of Gun Control as a Means of Behavior Change

https://leewoof.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/cain-slaying-abel-jacopo-palma-1590.jpg?w=840Image credit: leewoof.org

In 1975, the band Earth, Wind, & Fire released an album entitled That’s the Way of the World.

Thirty years later, in 2005, Rolling Stone magazine listed the title song, Way of the World, as one of the 500 greatest songs of all time at number 337.

Hauntingly pensive, Way of the World is a song that speaks to a duplicity that is all too real in the world in which we live today, declaring:

That’s the way of the world,
Plant your flower and you grow a pearl.
Child is born with a heart of gold,
Way of the world makes his heart so cold.

I write this only a few days after the mass shooting that occurred in San Bernardino, California, in which 14 people were killed and nearly two dozen injured.

As news of the tragedy spread across the internet and on social media, calls for more gun control were immediate and frequent.

Gun control as a means of behavioral change is an idea to which millions of people in America subscribe.

I, however, do not.

I will explain.

A gun is an object and, as an object, it is inherently inanimate.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines inanimate as, “not endowed with life or spirit; lacking consciousness or power of motion.”

Given this definition, I fail to understand why any “thing” – be it a handgun, a knife, a baseball bat, a hammer, or an unopened can of soup – would need to be “controlled” in any way.

Consider, if you will, the aforementioned objects (handgun, knife, baseball bat, hammer, can of soup.) Now, let’s assume that each of these items has the potential to be used in such a way as to inflict harm or damage either to someone or something.

Based on that assumption, the question we must ask is this: what is the source of that potential and how is that potential effectuated?

Logic would dictate that it is made effectual through an influence that is both other than and greater than the object itself because, being inanimate, the object possesses no inherent potential to apply itself in such a destructive way.

Therefore, that potential must somehow be imparted onto that object.

An inanimate object possesses neither the innate capacity nor ability to decide for itself how it will be used whether for good or evil.

This is because inanimate objects do not make decisions.

The reason inanimate objects do not make decisions is because they cannot make decisions.

In and of itself, a gun possesses no life, no consciousness, no power whatsoever.

None.

In that regard, a gun is no different than a broomstick.

For all intent and purposes, it is innately incapable of realizing its deadly potential apart from an external and conscious desire to bring that potential to fruition – and desire is a matter of the heart.

Always.

And He [Jesus] was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”Mark 7:20-23

What gun control advocates apparently fail to realize is that a gun doesn’t have a heart.

It has no soul.

It doesn’t feel.

It doesn’t think.

It doesn’t love.

It doesn’t hate.

It cannot conceive of ill intent.

You and I, however, are capable of all these things (and worse.)

The reason the “way of the world” is as Earth, Wind & Fire described it, is because the nature of our heart is as Jesus described it.

The weapons used in the attack in San Bernardino did not aim and fire themselves. They did not independently pick out their targets so as to consciously bring about the level of death and injury which was caused that day.

In order for a gun – or any other inanimate object – to be transformed into a weapon there must first be intent; and intent begins in our heart not in the object of that intent.

People have even used pillows to commit murder, but I’m willing to bet you probably slept on one last night.

“…for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”Genesis 8:21b

The fallacy of gun control is that it is not the object that influences the heart, but the other way around.

Take away every single gun in the world and you would still have the same problem, as people would simply replace one weapon with another.

It’s just our nature.

There are those today who would have us believe that guns are the exclusive weapons of mass murderers. They are not. They are simply the most efficient means of inflicting as much human damage as possible as quickly as possible.

What gun control advocates really want is what we all want: that people would volitionally treat one another in a manner that transcends what certain laws mandate (John 13:34-35.)

That’s all well and good.

The problem, however, is that behavioral change isn’t accomplished by enacting more laws.

Murder is already illegal, you know?

The San Bernardino shooters knew this as well, but a law against murder didn’t stop them because they’d willfully predetermined in their heart that killing a group of people in cold blood was what they were going to do (John 13:27.)

The problem our nation faces today isn’t that we don’t have enough gun laws or that there are too many guns.

Our problem is exactly the same as it was in the days of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:3-8.)

The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly how Cain murdered his brother, but that really doesn’t matter, does it? What matters is the one thing we do know – Cain didn’t use a gun.

He didn’t need one.

Because guns aren’t the problem.

We are.

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell

Christian, Is What You Believe a Conviction or Merely Your Opinion?

http://www.livewiseblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Believe.jpgImage credit: appsdirectories.com

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”
Luke 6:46 (NASB)

The website religionnews.com recently reported the results of a 2014 Pew Religious Landscape study of where various religious denominations stood on the issues of same-sex marriage and the role of government.

As one might expect given the number of religious affiliations included in the study – 34 by my count – the responses were quite wide-ranging.

What initially piqued my interest in this report was a desire to better understand where specific denominations stood, particularly those which most people might identify as “Christian,” on the aforementioned issues and to what extent, if any, the results might reflect the biblical worldview of the individual respondents.

Our world today is such that surveys like this Pew study can no longer be viewed merely as pulse-checks or snapshots of what people feel or think at a given moment about a certain topic.

Increasingly, inquiries like these provide insight into people’s core beliefs and values, those deeply held convictions which, for better or worse, end up influencing the broader culture around us.

For the Christian, belief is no small matter.

Faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross (1 John 2:2) is the cornerstone upon which we who believe in Him have placed our eternal destiny (Ephesians 2:8.)

But is simply believing where it all ends?

Should the faith we possess ultimately result in our applying God’s objective truth to every area of our life or, conversely, are we free to subjectively determine the degree to which His precepts guide us in navigating the complex issues confronting us in this present day?

To be sure, the questions I am posing have less to do with free will as a matter of doctrine, and more with the extent to which we who profess the name of Christ hold to the conviction that the Word of God is truly authoritative (Luke 6:46.)

In other words, for the Christian anyway, the degree to which the Scriptures shape and regulate our worldview is really a matter of the “lordship” of Christ over our life, and our willingness (or lack thereof) to submit our own personal opinions, feelings, and perspectives on the matters of this life through the authority of His divine jurisdiction.

“When the lordship of Jesus is a settled issue in the Christian’s life, all other issues are settled.[1]– Dr. Roger D. Willmore, Pastor at First Baptist Church, Boaz, Alabama

The lordship of Christ is as much a mindset by which all believers should live as it is a doctrine to which we should all subscribe. To that end, I would invite you to consider the words of Reformed theologian, Dr. R.C. Sproul of Ligonier Ministries, who emphasizes that the lordship of Christ,

“…does not depend upon our submission to it or our recognition of it. It is God who has made Him the King of the Kings. It is God who has made Him the Lord of the Lords. And if I don’t submit to His Lordship or if I ignore His Lordship, I don’t thereby demolish His Lordship. It is a fait accompli that God has decreed. God has made Him Lord. And therefore, we are under obligation to submit to His authority.[2]

One of the most challenging aspects of living the Christian life is yielding our will to God. As difficult as it might be for us to admit, the truth is, more often than not we want what we want not what God wants.

Our problem is we want to control the outcomes of the situations and circumstances we face, and it is that uncertainty that causes us to struggle with this matter of the lordship of Jesus.

It is a battle all believers face (1 Peter 5:9).

But, be encouraged.

You are not alone in that struggle.

What we must understand is that it is one thing to have a cognitive awareness that Christ is “Lord,” simply on the basis that we know in our mind that the Bible says that about Him, but it is another thing altogether to be persuaded in our heart, so that we are motivated to live out that reality in a manner that exemplifies all that His authority as Lord entails (1 Peter 4:2.)

The lordship of Christ is the quintessence of what it means to be a Christian.

We tend to get the ‘Savior’ part right about Jesus.

It’s the ‘Lord’ part that we often struggle with.

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell

References:

[1] http://www.uu.edu/centers/rglee/fellows/spring03/willmore.htm

[2] http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/apostles-creed/jesus-christ-his-only-son-our-lord/