Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth

Most good beliefs and practices are now in question. Even Christianity’s most sacred book is on the list; it is under attack in multiple ways. Even so it is still regarded as “the Word of truth.” To avoid twisting it’s messages and falsely making it say what it doesn’t say, all who use the Bible are commanded to “rightly divide” it. It is very easy to do otherwise. I suspect that most who do not rightly divide the Bible (the Scriptures) are unaware of what they’re doing.

Preachers (especially pastors) have the greatest potential for twisting and misrepresenting the Word of truth. They’re regularly and often up there in the pulpit. They’re the teachers, the pacesetters and regarded as the authorities on the Bible. They preach sermons and teach lessons on what the Bible says and means. Some of them write books. On a trip from Houston to New York one uncorrected wrong turn can get you far off course, and one wrong position on a Bible truth can lead to major falsehoods.

For example, at the time of Christ and the Apostles who followed Him, orthodoxy was regarded as what Christ and the Apostles said. The 27 books of the New Testament along with the Old Testament were known as the Scriptures. Adherence to the Scriptures was orthodoxy; positions contrary to the Scriptures were considered heresy. Within a few years Christian leaders (especially preachers) began putting their slants and interpretations on the Scriptures. For one thing they began viewing the church as all who claimed to be Christians. They forsook the position of the Scriptures that a church is a local assembly of baptized believers covenanted together to keep the ordinances and carry out the great commission. Soon the new order saw orthodoxy as what the church taught, not as what the Scriptures teach. Any beliefs contrary to the positions of the church were considered heresy and those who embraced them were viewed as heretics. Really! Those who believed exactly what Jesus and the Apostles taught were considered heretics and millions of them were persecuted, tortured and killed simply because they believed and practiced what the Scriptures teach.

A while back I heard a sermon from John 8 on the woman taken in adultery. The preacher cleverly made Pharisees out of all who believe in standards. As I sat there I couldn’t help thinking of God and His 10 Commandments. They are standards, and there are multitudes of other standards throughout the Bible. How many times have you sat in a church and heard the just as I am routine? A wonderful message on how God receives fallen, broken-down sinners just like they are! The beautiful picture of grace apart from works for salvation shines forth. It’s so appealing to those whose lives are in a hopeless mess; however, something is missing. The sinner comes forward to receive the miraculous change; but the next day he wants another drink or fix, he’s still in a financial mess and all his passions are alive and well. Somehow in church he didn’t get the true picture that God receives sinful men just like they are; but that doesn’t mean all the problems are gone, that God is going to leave you like you are or that the road ahead will be easy.

Those who do not get or give the true picture of the Word of truth miss the point. Be careful before jumping on a new bandwagon. Since Jesus Christ was here there have been many Pied Pipers, people (especially preachers) who had great new takes on what the Scriptures mean. Beware! Some of them may be right; most of them probably aren’t. Look at professing Christianity today. What a checkered, self-contradictory mix! People with every imaginable conflicting idea, all claiming they got it from the Bible! That’s especially true in this day when old Christianity is generally scorned, a witch hunt for dirty laundry among old-timers is highly popular, attack books are in vogue by those who despise bigotry and negativism (talk about the pot calling the kettle black) and old Christians and proven Bible-based beliefs are being thrown under the bus. All by the charismatic new breeds who are so much smarter than those who went before them.

Look before you leap. Beware of Pied Pipers. Stay with the Scriptures! Do not be deceived by someone with charisma, who quotes lots of Scriptures, who seems intellectual or who has come up with some great new revelation. Insist on truth rightly divided. Reject that which is twisted or skewed. Be a true Berean. Search the Scriptures to see whether or not what you hear is true. Make the Word of truth your standard of judgment for all things and people.

Why Hide Who You Are?

Identity is pretty important. There are aspects of all of us, including our nation, of which we are embarrassed and ashamed; but it’s pretty radical to desert your roots and heritage because of a few bad apples and because the times have changed. There are a few corrupt law enforcement people and some bad doctor; but God forbid that we damn them all! America is sin-sick, on a collision course to disaster; but I’m an American, and not ashamed to say so. Even when I’m in Europe or Egypt! There are some REALLY corrupt preachers; but I’m a preacher, and not about to hide it by calling myself spokesman or messenger or some other watered-down name.

There’s power in a name. It’s a distinctive. It tells people who you are, what you believe and lots of other information about you. On a check, on a legal document, on a marriage license, on a tombstone! It’s you. It’s your church. It’s your moniker. It identifies you, sets you apart! It brands you.

Jesus has a name. No other name carries more scorn, has been hated more. This name has been mocked, ridiculed, prostituted, abused and smeared. Every imaginable godless thing you can imagine has been done in the name of Jesus. The Conquistadors pillaged, conquered and murdered in the name of Jesus Christ. This day millions hate Him and the truths that are uniquely and distinctively His. Should we change His name? Should we rename Him to something without so much controversy and baggage? Should we hide who He really is in hopes of attracting people when our real goal is to bring people to Him?

I don’t mind telling you that Jesus is the sweetest, most precious name I know. I don’t say that arrogantly or defiantly; I say it humbly and sincerely. I want to bring everybody I can to Him. I don’t want to hide Him; He told me to put Him on a candlestick and exalt Him. I know the name of Jesus turns off multitudes of people, there’s a built-in offence in the cross; but we dare not change His name or His message. There is no hope anywhere else.

These days there is a wave, a move among good people to vail who they really are. The motive seems to be noble; we want to reach more. Since so many people are turned off and want nothing to do with Christians of strong convictions, the growing trend among churches is to hide or mask who they really are. The idea seems to be that we don’t want those we hope to reach to be turned off by our name.

There’s a lot of baggage in the name Baptist especially Independent Baptist. Oh yes! It is sadly true that some of us have been pretty ugly: cantankerous and ill-tempered, mean-spirited, negative and critical, unreasonable, anti-intellectual, extremely judgmental, self-righteous, harsh and lots more. Some of our brethren want to shun that image. That’s understandable; but to erase name, your identity and vail who you really are? I have observed that most of those bad and repulsive characteristics cut across the board: Baptists of all stripes, Lutherans, Catholics, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Bible churches; and yes, atheists, homosexuals, Americans and the populace in general. The grass always seems to greener on the other side of the fence, but it rarely is. It’s easy to jump out of a frying-pan and land in a fire.

There’s a deceptive ring to hiding who you really are in order to reach people. Maybe your name no longer fits, and you need to change it; but to basically be who’ve always been, and hide that reality so that prospects won’t recognize you till you’ve got ‘um somehow flies in the face of integrity and fundamental honesty. I see no justification of deception anywhere in the Bible.

I’m a Hutson, an American, a Christian and a Baptist. In all of these areas of my heritage there have been some really godless people; but I’m still a Hutson, an American, a Christian and a Baptist. I’m not about to let God-dishonoring people in either category drive me away from my heritage, my name. It saddens me to see Baptists dropping Baptist while calling themselves baptistic. What kind of mind and word game is that? I for one am glad to be identified with that long heritage of men and women who since Christ have stood for the Bible at a great price. I’m not ready to disassociate myself from them in beliefs, practices or name.

Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother

Old things: old coins, old furniture, old thunderbirds and corvettes, old churches, old people, old preachers, old songs, old doctrines. What about libraries and museums which are full of old books, microfilm and other historical artifacts? Is a Holocaust museum important? Should we revise our Constitution and our history textbooks? Is the Constitution an evolving document? How about the Bible? Should we listen to Einstein, Henry Morris and Spurgeon? Is it time to abandon “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” Should we throw caution to the side and buy the new catch phrase, “If you keep doing the same old thing you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting the same old results you’ve been getting?” Is there something fatally wrong with the beliefs and practices that got the message of Christ to this generation in spite of 2,000 years of overwhelming odds? What’s so wrong with preaching, praying, singing, giving and the Lord’s Supper? Should we be so ready to desert an English translation of the Bible that has single-handedly had a greater impact upon the whole world for the last 4 centuries than all other books combined?

Age alone is not the determining factor in whether or not something is good or bad. Claims or words alone do not determine the truth or validity of anything. It has been well said that things are not always what they seem, but they are always what they are.

God has weighed-in on this subject. Big time! In His 10 Commandments (not suggestions), He said great weight (that’s what honour means) should be placed on fathers and mothers. That includes immediate parents, but also the wisdom of the ages. This commandment was to all Israeli children about their immediate parents, but it was also to the nation corporately (Exodus 19:3). “That thy days may be long upon the land which The Lord thy God giveth thee” is a promise of national longevity in the land, not merely a promise that any obedient child would live to a ripe old age. For Israel (or America) to prosper and survive from generation to generation in the land, she would have to master respect for the wisdom of the ages. (In the context in which God gave these commandments the thinking of God must remain society’s central authority and guide.)

Dad and Mom are not infallible or right on everything; neither is your beloved old pastor or forefathers in the faith. But, beware lest you flippantly toss them aside. Doctrine and practices that have stood the tests of time and lasted for centuries merit serious consideration. All of them are not bad. People have been getting saved, worshipping God and mentoring a next generation quite successfully for a long time. Yes, there is considerable baggage in much that’s old, but it’s never good to throw out the baby with the dirty bathwater.

There is a new battering ram on the scene for beating up old churches, old preachers, old music and many things long held sacred: “If you keep doing the same ole things, you’ll keep getting the same ole results.” The man currently in the White House was swept into office on the promise of change. Like the Pied Piper he piped and the multitudes fell in line without thinking through what change really meant. Obviously things have not turned out very well. It’s pretty easy to jump out of the frying-pan right into the fire. It’s always wise to look before you leap.

There is old baggage, but there is new baggage too; and old baggage can turn up as new baggage in different clothing. You don’t get away from cantankerous, mean-spirited Pharisees by changing names or locations. Hypocrites, bullies, the rude, the unprincipled and those without integrity seem to be everywhere. Such things are human-nature, character problems. They are universal and not limited to Baptists (Independent or otherwise).

“Honour thy father and thy mother” is a part of God’s bulwark against change for the worse. Idealism does not always bring about improvement. Just look at Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution and a world that has embraced Darwinian Evolution. These days old-line churches, old men like me with old Bible beliefs like mine and the way we’ve done church for a long, long time are taking a pretty bad beating. The seekers, the emergers, the millenniums and others have a better way. Many are leaving the old paths that somehow got the glorious truths of God to us. The verdict is still out; but I suspect that when the final word is spoken and God’s appraisal of what was glitter and what was gold is made, those who gave serious consideration and weight to the thinking and positions of their fathers and their mothers will be glad they did.

While We’re Talking About Bibles

The Devil has a reputation for being evil; not dumb or stupid. He ever seeks to use the chief tools of Christians against them, especially the Word of God which is commonly called the Bible.

I spoke of translations in my previous blog. That ole deceiver has flooded the market with translations of the Bible all claiming to be the best, the real deal. Imagine the message to children and to unbelievers who don’t have a clue about source texts and translation methods. Here we are in church where the claim is that we have the Word of God and that it is inerrant, inspired of God and 100% true and consistent in all it says; however the copy in my hand does not match what the preacher says, and several people around me have copies that are different from either mine or the preacher’s. Now that’s a strange message to get in church!

But, that old Devil is at work on other fronts too. He’s working to get Bibles out of church. Yeah! Really! Why bring your Bible to church when everything is right on the screen in front of you? You don’t need the extra baggage. Look around in your church. How many Bibles do you see? They’re vanishing! I suspect Satan is pretty happy about that. It’s an ominous sign that they’re vanishing from homes too.

When you can barely find a used copy of the Word of God in the house of God, it’s not hard to understand why more and more people have trouble locating the books of the Bible, especially those like Obadiah and Nahum. Yes; basic stories are fading from the collective mindset of society even in the Christian community. There was a day when at church people were exposed to the Bible. They learned its books, chapters and verses; and most Bibles were full of highlights, underlined passages and notes in the margins placed there by people of God who deemed them as especially precious. My mother’s Bible had tear stains all over the pages. She read it and wept.

Video projectors and screens are great tools. Power Point presentations are powerful learning aids. But, they cannot replace the Bible as the central document in church. Let us project our sermon outlines and list references to the Scriptures we use; but God forbid that we create an environment in church where people don’t need the Bible! “And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD,” 2 Kings 22:8. You’d think that of all places, the Bible would always be found in the “in the house of the LORD” which is the church. Increasingly that is not the case; however, technology (like smartphones and eReaders) does provide new ways for people to bring the Bible to church and other places. The issue is not the format; the point is keeping the Bible in church and in the hands of the people.

Few things are more precious than used Bibles. There was a day when the Bible was not available to the common man. That day is called the Dark Ages. This day in America it’s harder to find them in churches. Yes, of all places churches. Let us always beware of what we’re doing and of the impact on us what we’re doing is having. May the Word of God never vanish from the house of God!

The Bible You Use

There was a day when the Bible was believed by most Americans to be the final word on any subject. That’s been awhile!

Is your Bible reliable? How do you know? After all, in most churches everybody seems to have a different Bible: the NIV, the NASB, the RSV, the KJV, the New KJV. The list is long. The preacher or teacher reads from his Bible, but your Bible is different. You look a little deeper and realize that the difference is not merely a choice of words; there’s a difference in meaning, a substantial difference. Wow! How many Bibles are there? They all claim to be the Word of God, but they don’t all say the same thing. How many Bibles did God write? I thought there was only one true Bible. How can this be? How do I know which one to believe?

The devil is a master at creating doubt. He does it right in church! Really! With the pastor, my Sunday school teacher, the people who are supposed to know, those who’ve been to seminar and are learned, “scholars!”

It is a bit unsettling to know that the Bible translating and publishing business is driven primarily by dollars and cents, not the need for a better translation. Publishing houses make money by selling; they’re not in business to produce a better, more accurate translation of the Bible. They are somewhat like those who build automobiles and other machinery. They can’t afford to build a car that lasts a long time; they have to build cars to wear out soon. They make money off parts and selling more cars. One car for the ages is a bad idea. And, so it is with Bibles. To stay in business publishers have to keep selling Bibles. Since God gave only one Bible, publishers found their fountain of youth in translations. Your Bible is old-fashioned, out-of-date, antiquated and written in English that is obsolete. You need a new and better translation. Oh yea, and the trick keeps working! It doesn’t seem to work with Shakespeare or the Canterbury Tales, but it works with the Bible. And who are the shakers and movers who convince the masses that they need a new Bible? It’s mostly the scholars: seminary professors, language experts, theologians, professionals and often pastors. Ironically most (yes, you read it right: most) of them do not even believe the Bible. They don’t believe the Bible’s claim of divine creation, that Adam and Eve were literal, that the account of Jonah is literal, that Jesus Christ is divine, that He performed miracles or that He’s coming again. They think God should be referred to in the neuter, think women should be preachers, approve homosexuality and endorse same-sex marriages. Yet deep, sound Christians snap up their new and better translations like they were candy. Go to Lifeway and see for yourself. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an old translation of the Bible. We can’t wait to get our hands on the latest, newest version of the Bible. The driver? That “old English” is just too hard to understand; I want something in today’s English. My teacher, my preacher said this is really good, better.

It’s never a bad idea to look before you leap. Anybody who exercises even the slightest amount of brainpower realizes that God wrote only one Bible. Not many; just one! He wrote it in Hebrew, Chaldea and Greek. History proves beyond reasonable doubt that by end of the 16th century a Greek standard of God’s original Bible had been established. (No, there is no original copy of any book of the Bible. There are thousands of very old copies, mostly in part and a few in whole.) For several centuries credible scholars have been in essential agreement that the standard Greek text is almost an exact replica of the original autographs which God gave to the prophets and apostles. The original Bible emerges from the agreement of the vast number of copies. God gave His Bible one time. Serious, thinking people know that our objective is to get a translation that is as close to the Bible God gave as possible. (If you know Greek and can read it for yourself, you don’t need a translation. Most of us can’t read Greek and must get the Bible in a translation.) The scholars of our day (real and pseudo) are in almost universal agreement there has long been an English translation that captures God’s Greek Bible very well. It is the King James Translation which has been around for right at 402 years. In spite of their considerable baggage, the King James translators got it pretty well right; even the critics admit that. Yet, the flow of new translations never ceases.

I am a King James Version man and I’m not ashamed of it. However, I am not saying that it is the only good English translation of the Bible. I know the KJV is just a translation and that it has shortcomings. I also know that so far there is not a better, more accurate English translation of the Bible than the King James Version. It’s a plenary (word for word) translation; not a dynamic equivalent (some person’s summary of what God said). The King James translators were honest enough to italicize words they added for clarity’s sake; others don’t tell you what they changed. Our God who gave the Bible has not finally lost it in a maze of translations. However when you go to church and hear several conflicting Bibles all claiming to be the one revelation of God it surely seems He has.

It is obvious that a seedbed for doubt is created when any person (and especially a church) cannot settle on a translation which is as near to the original autographs as is humanly possible.  A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.  When a truly more accurate translation of the Bible from Greek into English comes forth, I will be very interested in it. I’m not holding my breath; the money is not there. The multitudes are not hungering for truth; they are far more interested in easy-reading and watered-down concepts even when truth takes a beating in the process. I am amazed at how successfully Satan has blinded the minds of so many pastors and teachers to the mixed message of many translations in a church. The doubt in the integrity of the Bible created thereby is enormous. A rapidly growing number of people do not believe a true Bible any longer exists. After all, their pastor and church leaders have different Bibles. Right there in church they hear many differing voices all claiming to be the Bible. Yes, a seedbed for doubt! Perhaps there used to be a Bible. Long ago God gave His Word; but it got lost. Now we don’t have it. We hear about it and what our pastor and other scholars think it said, but we can’t be sure. We really can’t be sure about anything because we don’t have a copy of Bible. We just have something close to it. And where did we get that idea? We got it in church where they really don’t have one standard Bible that they hold to be true.

The Bible you use, personally and in church; it does make a difference. It’s always good to figure out things and settle somewhere.

Christmas is Ours

Christmas time! A time when the entire world is confronted with the birth of Jesus Christ! Even the most casual observer knows this season is about Him. He’s really at the root of the whole thing. Who was this Jesus Christ? God and man all in one; how could that be? A virgin birth; surely you jest! The King of kings entering humanity in a manger, the Creator of everything entering His own creation; that doesn’t make sense! What did Herod the Great have against this peasant baby? Why a manger, the shepherds, the angels, Bethlehem, the wise men? What’s the point of this whole story?

The world has to face up to the reality of sin, man’s fall and the need for a Savior. That’s what Jesus is all about, and He claimed He is the Savior.

My, what an opportunity to engage people in the true and eternal implications of Christmas! At the core of this story is sin, fallen sinners and sin’s consequences (both mortal and eternal), but the story doesn’t end there. It’s also about the love of God for lost, perishing sinners, about forgiveness and eternal life. Christmas is all about a Savior, a unique Messiah who could somehow satisfy the justice of almighty God. Christmas is about the love of God, but it’s also about the justice and judgment of God. It’s about poverty, hatred and injustice, giving and forgiving and faith. It’s about rejection and simplicity and hope for hopeless mankind. Beyond the grave! It’s about “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Christians, Christmas is our time, our holiday. Oh yes, the world exploits it: to sell everything from toys to cars, to drink more liquor, to party and to do a lot of things that no man should do. Brothers and sisters don’t be distracted or derailed by the exploitations and add-ons. Stay with the pure and beautiful realities of the Christmas story.

What a pity that some good, sincere Christians get caught up in a few pagan mixtures and get all blown out of shape by Santa Claus, Christmas trees, gifts and reindeer! In their distraction they miss a golden opportunity to spread the true message of Christmas! Brothers and sisters, we have the high ground. We have the message of hope; nobody else has it. Nobody! Christmas is ours! Rather than an ugly-spirited attitude, how much better it is to have a song on your heart and lips and a glow about you that reflects the difference a meeting with Jesus Christ makes in a life! Instead of a defensive stance about all that’s wrong with Christmas, it’s so much better to tell the truth about Christmas! And yes, there’s a lot of great truth in the Christmas story. It is truly beautiful, meaty and life-changing.

Tell your kids. Tell your friends at work; it’s still legal to do so. The Bible says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). If there ever has been a perfect platform for doing this, it’s Christmas time. Many of our peers are doing their best to kick Christ right out of Christmas. No carols in public schools, no manger scene on the courthouse square, Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. God forbid that we sit idly by and squabble among ourselves while it happens!

Ours is the greatest story ever told. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:11-14). Now that’s something to shout about! This is no time for political correctness. Go, tell it on the mountains; Jesus Christ is born! It is truly a life-changing story.

Connecting the Dots

Draw a line from dot one to dot two then to dot three until you connect all the dots. The kids love it. While mom and dad eat lasagna and chat with friends, the kids get the picture. The exercise is not very difficult and it’s scientific enough to avoid debate.

Inherent in this kind of activity is the concept of cause and effect. For every cause there must be an effect. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” Galatians 6:7.

There are connections between the seeds we sow and the harvests we reap: how we manage our money and our financial future, the education we get and our ability to compete in society, how we treat our bodies and our later health, our attitude toward God and the condition of our society and nation.

In 1932 John Dewey, who is regarded as the father of education in America, wrote The Humanist Manifesto. Its basic premise is that we’ve grown up and we know there is no God. We no longer need this ancient mythological belief and it should be removed from the educational process. America and the world bought it. Thirty years later prayer was removed from public education.

In the infancy of this country, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to the Danbury, Connecticut Baptists in which he affirmed that in America there would be no state church. Nothing in the letter hints that there would be no Christianity in American politics, government or public education. That letter has been blatantly misrepresented, abused and misapplied. It is commonly given constitutional status and is repeatedly misused to remove all vestiges of God and Christianity from all facets of American public life: public education, government operations, national parks and monuments, the pledge of allegiance and now the military.

No Christmas carols or mention of Jesus in a school Christmas program, no prayer or mention of God at a graduation ceremony, no prayer or mention of Jesus Christ to a dying soldier on a battlefield, no display of The Ten Commandments in a school or public building! America desperately needs a moral compass, dying men need comfort and men need the hope that is in Jesus Christ.

Yet there is a surge in our country to rewrite our history and abolish our belief system. A classic example is origins. Don’t let our kids know that on the issue of origins there is a viable option to Darwinian Evolution and that the alternative position is loaded with factual, empirical evidence. Hide the numerous and gaping gaps in the evolutionary hypothesis. The correct answer is obvious: just tell the truth. Isn’t truth the heart of academic freedom and true science? Present all the evidence; let the facts speak for themselves. Draw conclusions based on the evidence, not preconceived notions.

This rewriting of our history makes it appear to our kids that America is the brainchild of a group of money-hungry capitalists who have greedily exploited the rest of the world. It hides the mass of documented evidence that America came into existence as a direct result of desperate Christians who fled here from Britain and Europe to avoid the cruel oppression and persecution of state church governments. Many of them came here at great personal sacrifice and paid with their blood and lives to establish an America free of a state church and where freedom and individual liberty were every person’s rights. Instead of telling the truth about America’s godly heritage, the current wave is play down her real heroes and exalt her shady, dark-side characters. A godly heritage made America a great nation with enormous blessings. From across the globe people risk their lives crossing our borders to get here. In our histories why not simply tell the truth about the Christian beliefs and practices of our founders and forefathers?

The Bible is the core document that framed our Constitution and molded our society, yet there is a stampede to downplay and eradicate the Bible from our society. Relegate the Bible to the status of all other ordinary books and through translations water down the copies you keep. Replace the Bible with video games and Nintendos. The fact is that the Bible has proven its worth. No document has come even close to having as great an impact for the better upon humanity as has the holy Bible. This day it has the answers to man’s deepest needs and for society’s ills.

We have exalted sports and violence, made heroes out of Hollywood’s vilest, ridiculed people of good character and those who have firm convictions and high standards. Somehow we have made good evil and evil good.

Then we wonder! We wonder why our child doesn’t mind and are so disrespectful. We wonder why there is so much purse-snatching, an increasing number of home invasions and bank robberies and school shootings. We wonder why our politicians can’t handle our tax dollars and about our sea of political corruption at every level. We wonder why violence threatens every American, why life is so cheap that America murders over 10,000 unborn babies every day and why America is financially ruined in spite of a greater tax burden than this world has ever known. We wonder why homosexuals are glamorized while moral people and Christian families are demonized, why law-abiding American citizens are forced to provide free medical care, food stamps and a plethora of free services for multitudes of people who are here unlawfully while responsible working people are forced to subsidize them.

Dot, dots, dots!  Connect the dots. It’s not rocket science. There’s a clear-cut connection between cause and effect, between decisions and consequences. There is generally a lapse of time between the planting of a seed and the harvest, but the harvest comes. America is feeling the harvest. A few generations ago the people of this country decided to remove God out of their lives. Some rejected Him totally; others give Him lip service, but for all practical purposes He’s gone. With His removal from the daily fabric of American society has come the consequences. Connect the dots; the picture is not pretty.

As long as the move away from God continues, the picture will get worse; but it does not have to continue. We can repent, turn around, go back to our roots, return to our God. “Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people,” Proverbs 14:34. Without a return to God, America is certain to perish, but He can save us. He can restore us. We cannot ignore the dots. We must return to Him. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteousness man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon,” Isaiah 55:7.

In the Name of God

A handy way to extend your authority beyond yourself is to invoke the name of God. God told me. I command you in the name of Jesus! I’m sure God understands. Just let a chap hit the wrong nail with a hammer, stump his toe or get into a heated shouting match. How quickly the tongue gets loose on both ends and the name of God flies out like bullets. Most big movie stars are really good at it and little children pick it up like candy. It’s quickly integrated into their language. Somehow a mouth full of GD’s and JC’s make them feel big, mean, impressive and tough.

It was God Himself who said, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain,” Exodus 20:7. No cussing! There was a day when a sizeable amount of soap was used in cleansing foul-mouthed boys. God-fearing people know cussing is wrong.

It is sad to observe that many of those “God-fearing people” are good (really good) at using God’s name in vain in other ways. It happens in bull sessions. They stand around a water fountain and out comes the opinions about God, church and what’s right and wrong. Seems that everyone is his own authority on God and what God thinks. On virtually everything!

Churches are notorious for it. In the name of God the Baptists are teaching things that contradict the Church of Christ, the Lutherans are on another page and the Pentecostals are somewhere else. The Methodists and Catholics are far apart and the Presbyterians are sure they are all wrong. They’re as far as the east is from the west, but ironically they are all invoking the name of God to support their positions.

Preachers have refined the name of God in support of whatever they want to a fine art. God is leading me in this direction. I’ve prayed about this and it’s the will of God. Building programs, new worship styles, new twists on ancient biblical doctrines, new ideas on standards! They’re quick to point out: I’m God’s man. It’s as if I have a direct line to God; nobody else knows what God wants. Yes! God is the BIG GUN. His name is invoked so I can get my way and prevail over all others. Even when their way destroys a church they hide behind a fig leaf and say, “God is in control; this was His will.” What a cop-out! Blame it on God; take no personal responsibility. A lot of dirt has been swept under the carpet in the name of God.

What is Islamic Jihad? It is holy war in the name of God: planes into the World Trade Center, suicide bombers, the wholesale slaughter of innocent women and children, hatred, terrorism! All in the name of God! Across the board of society the name of God is to justify everything. Talk about misuse and abuse! It’s not surprising that multitudes hate religion.

Taking the name of God in vain is far, far more than nasty cuss words. It’s also invoking the name of God to support things and positions that are not at all of Him. In fact, He has gone on record in His Word that He is in opposition of much of what is done in His name. Invoking the name of God in support of anything He does not support is taking His name in vain.

It seems that nearly everybody has an opinion about God and what He thinks. Never confuse opinions with His stated positions. They are expressed quite clearly in His Word which is the Bible, and the Bible is provable. It will stand inspection. The way it came into existence, its 100% prophetic track record and its perfect harmony all prove it to be the work of God, not man. Give the Bible a chance. See for yourself. To know God’s position go to His Word, to the place where He said who He is and what He thinks on the issues.

Whether in a pulpit or at a pool table think twice before you invoke the support and backing of God for what you say and do. God has a position on everything: sex, homosexuality, same-sex marriages, abortions, child rearing and discipline, money management, morality, church life, who He is and how to go to heaven. Before you proceed to say what He thinks on any subject, be sure you express His position and not your own opinion. He doesn’t like being misrepresented. Thou shalt not!

Before you put yourself in the position of spokesman for God, be sure you get it right. And, do not be intimidated or influenced by anyone who comes to you in the name of the God, but whose message does not match the Bible.

We Are Ambassadors, Not Survivalists

Ambassador! What’s that? “An official of highest rank sent to represent his government in a foreign country. Any person sent as a representative or messenger.” (Webster). A survivalist! A person with a very different mindset! The central idea is survival, continuing to exist. We’re all familiar with the new wave of Survivor television shows. Be the last one standing. Survive at any cost. Deceive, cheat, hide, bully, kill, sell your soul, do anything it costs. It’s okay as long as you survive. Now TV has gone a step farther and there are the Doomsday Preppers. They remind me of a good many Christians I know.

As blood-bought, born again believers in Jesus Christ, is that all we are? People just trying to hold out and survive till the end? Is getting saved, waiting for the rapture and holding out till we die all there is to being a Christian? Is Christianity nothing more than a ticket to heaven? Even a kindergarten Bible student knows better.

Yes! We’re in an increasingly hostile world. A large percentage of this world hates Christianity. They do not like Christians. Christianity runs counter to the survival of the fittest and rule by raw force. It’s for freedom and liberty of conscience and is an affront to dictators and totalitarian regimes. Christianity is for the sanctity of life and stands in the way of murder, whether it is citizens killing other citizens, mothers killing their unborn babies, the euthanizing of the infirmed or elderly or the way Adolph Hitler did it. Christianity is pro family and defines a legitimate marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman; and that puts Christians in harm’s way with homosexuals, advocates of same-sex marriages and polygamists. Christianity is about wholesome, moral living. Promiscuous people, thieves, drug abusers, bullies, adulterers and child abusers have a problem with that. Christianity is about truth and honesty, doing good rather than evil, giving and forgiveness, loyalty, patriotism and law-abiding lifestyles. Christianity offers hope (in this life and the world to come), but it says hope is only in one person, Jesus Christ. One must have a personal relationship with Christ and that relationship comes only by grace through faith in Him. All other religions are offended that Christians would claim to have the only way of salvation.

The world is ratcheting down on those who believe and practice true biblical Christianity. Yes! Right here in America! Discrimination seems to be the leading tool of choice. Failure to fall in line and accept all that is politically correct (especially homosexuality) is considered discrimination. Because they stand for Bible positions Christians are considered intolerant. In the eyes of a growing number of legal ways that intolerance cannot be tolerated. (Go figure out that stance.) Remember the photographers in New Mexico who politely declined to photograph a same-sex marriage because it contradicted their deeply held Christian convictions! The New Mexico Human Rights Commission fined them for violating the state’s anti-discrimination laws. Yes, anti-discrimination! The case went all the way to the New Mexico Supreme Court which decided that New Mexico’s anti-discrimination law “compels” people “to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives.” The court explained that this is simply “the price of citizenship.” In Missouri the National Parks Service recently required churches to obtain a special uses permit in order to baptize in public waters. After an uproar and intervention by an elected representative the Park’s Service backed off; however, similar efforts have been tried in other states. Have you noticed the anti-Christian wave in the U.S. Military, particularly the Air Force? Fox News reported that the Pentagon directed an Air Force Base to remove a video tribute to First Sergeants because it mentioned the word “God.” The Pentagon said the word might be offensive to atheists or Muslims. Todd Starnes reports that Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio was relieved of his duties after he disagreed with his openly gay commander when she wanted to severely punish an instructor who had expressed religious objections to homosexuality. His commander said his position is discriminatory. This case demonstrates the growing trend of government to punish those who refuse to openly agree with anti-biblical positions.

Do not imagine that you will be immune, that this trend will not ultimately reach you. It will: where you work, when you buy or sale your house, on your income tax return, through what you say to a friend or neighbor. When Hitler was doing his thing many fine Christian Germans thought it would never reach them. It did. Christian, the trend that is escalating in America will one day reach you. Especially if you are an Ambassador for Christ!

Yes! You can go into survival mode; many are already there. Maybe you can stay under the radar a little longer. Though the centuries, many who named the name of Christ have crumbled under pressure. Peter did it on that infamous night when the Savior was tormented and sentenced to die. Even a shallow dive into the pages of Christian history following the days of Christ will show you multitudes of Christian pretenders, those who spent their lives in survival mode. We are getting very close to a purge of Christian ranks. Already I am seeing more and more a survivalist mentality: Christians who are afraid to stand and speak up (except in their little circles). I don’t like controversy. I don’t want to get involved. I really don’t know what to say or do. It’s the blend in, stay under the radar, go with the flow, survivor mentality.

What a sad commentary on Christians! According to the Bible, we are ambassadors. “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). We are “strangers and pilgrims” (1 Peter 2:11) here on earth; our real citizenship is in heaven. “For our conversation is in heaven; for whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). Awesome! God saved us from eternal damnation in the lake of fire, gave us heavenly citizenship and chose us to be His representatives here on earth for the duration of our lifetimes. What an honor and privilege! “Ye are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). “Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). Don’t hide your light, your influence and testimony; maximize it! “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). This is no time for God’s people to be hiding in the stuff or in some closet. “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so” (Psalm 107:2). It’s time to stand up! Let the positions of our great God be heard and seen in our voices and lives! The apostle Paul said, “Now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Romans 13:11). Jesus said, “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning . . . Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching” (Luke 12:35-37).

The Mob Mentality

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It’s pretty easy to throw stones; however, Jesus said, “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5).

Mob scenes are routine TV fodder: CNN, Fox News, Good Morning America, the 6:00 o’clock news, the 10:00 o’clock news. Today there’s a mob marching in Cairo to get rid of the president; tomorrow another mob is marching to keep him. The mobs are in Austin: some are there to defeat the law that restricts abortions after 20 weeks; others to insure its passage. Mobs march against Wall Street, the Tea Party, home schools and the owner of Chick-fil-A. Huge mobs gather to support Gay Pride parades, illegal emigration, gun control, legalized marijuana and spotted owls.

Wise Solomon once said, “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him” (Proverbs 18:13). In East Texas we used to say, “It is bad to be silent and thought a fool; it is worse to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” The mob mentality can make a fool out of you. It’s the, I don’t know what’s going on here, but count me in attitude. It’s common in mobs. Many of those in the mob don’t have a clue as to what’s going on; but they are there, caught up in it, supporting whatever it is. Somebody’s up there passionately shouting out clichés or talking authoritatively about high and lofty ideologies. Somebody or some group is being painted asthe bad guys and we are the victims who are being downtrodden and exploited. We must not take it; we must rise up. Ours is a just cause and they are our enemies. It’s amazing how quickly people buy in without every bothering to scratch the surface. Somehow people like to get on a wave and ride it. Ignorance can be bliss. For a little while!

A mob was used to crucify Jesus Christ. Most of the people didn’t have the faintest idea of what was going on; they were simply caught up in the moment. A little group of hard-core activists were using them and they were oblivious. That’s generally how it is with mobs. Not always, but generally! Sometimes there’s a just cause, but often the movement is sinister to the core. Adolph Hitler was a master of the mob mentality. He had the mobs praising him, bragging on what he did for Germany and begging him to take absolute control. He did. The results speak for themselves. A million children murdered! Systematically and in cold blood! Six million Jews! Carnage in Europe: Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, World War 2! The Antichrist will ride a mob mentality to power.

Look before you leap seems like a pretty sound policy. Maybe the mob is right. Maybe not! Maybe those doctrinaire instigators have a just cause. Maybe it’s worth fighting or even dying for this cause. The French and American Revolutions were. Not all causes are just. There could be a bitter sting at the end of this thing. Germany learned that. The Bolshevik Revolution didn’t turn out too well. Before joining any movement, it’s wise to look. Investigate; see what’s going on. Make sure you want to get on board this bandwagon. You may not. God warns, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment” (Exodus 23:2). Some years ago on the way to a church business meeting a friend said to me, “I don’t know what’s going on here, but I’m here to support my preacher.” Blind leaps rarely turn out well. If you know and support what’s at stake, get on board with all your might; but never allow yourself to be ignorantly swept along with the crowd.

The majority is rarely right. Unfortunately the majority is often given to a mob mentality and is manipulated by a small core with sinister goals. That is true on multiple levels: political, educational, social and even in churches. Sometimes as in the case of the holocaust, one person is the real master-mind. Masses are used for evil and don’t even know it. There are different kinds of mobs. A mob may be assembled in some location or it may be a movement in the minds of unassembled masses. In either case people get caught up and swept along. Unwittingly they add to the success of the movement. Too often the movement has a bitter, chaotic, devastating end: civil strife, war, slavery, a church or family split and friends become enemies!

Blindness is a terrible enemy. Someone commented to a blind man,“Blindness must be one of the worst afflictions there is.” The blind man responded, “No. It’s worse to have eyes and not be able to see.” Perfectly good eyes, but unable to see! Wow! A fine mind, but caught up in a mob mentality! Unwilling to investigate, look at the facts! Content to blindly ride the wave! My friends are there. It seems right. I trust my president, my professor, my preacher. The consequences can be devastating and irreparable.

Never allow yourself to be caught up in a mob mentality. Even if you are in a mob, you shouldn’t have a mob mentality. If you are a part of a mob, be there because you know what’s going on and support it; never blindly. Yes! Some causes are just and worth giving all you have, even your life; however, many are not. The issue is not mobs; they can be good or bad. The issue is in knowing the facts, understanding what’s going on and the ramifications thereof. Think for yourself. Never ride a wave and blindly coast along on the agenda of others.