Everyone Gets to be God …Except God
Everyone gets to be God except God

I’m confused.

I understand atheists who say there is no God. I don’t agree with them. But if they choose to hold a position contrary to what the Bible says, they’re free to do so.

I understand Muslims who say Allah is god and Mohammed is his prophet. Again, I don’t agree with them. Still, if they choose to hold a position contrary to what the Bible says, they’re also free to do so.

And I understand Jewish believers who say the promised Messiah has not yet come the first time. Once again, I don’t agree with them, given the mountain of evidence found in their Scriptures (what Christians call the Old Testament) and the fulfilled prophecy recorded in the New Testament. But if they choose not to believe what their own Bible says, that’s their choice.

What I don’t understand is when a professing Christian seminary denigrates the Christian faith by equating the creation with the Creator, and still claims to be Christian.

Did you miss it last week?

Prayers to Plants

Union Theological Seminary in New York City recently held an event in which seminary students prayed and confessed the sins of humanity…to plants. Yes, you read that right. They prayed to plants.

Think I’m making this up or perhaps exaggerating? Here’s the announcement on their official Twitter account:

“Today in chapel, we confessed to plants. Together, we held our grief, joy, regret, hope, guilt and sorrow in prayer; offering them to the beings who sustain us but whose gift we too often fail to honor.”

When that announcement caused a backlash, the Administration dug in even deeper, defending the chapel service in a series of additional tweets.

I began by saying I’m confused. But a more accurate statement would be that my heart is breaking over their confusion.

I get it. Overall, humanity has not been a good steward of the creation that was entrusted to us. We bear the guilt and shame of such irresponsibility. But the shame is in our failure to obey the Creator, not His creation.

Still, there’s a bigger issue here than a rogue seminary. It’s the issue of letting God be God. These days it seems anyone or anything can be worshipped as God except for the God of the Bible.

Everyone Gets to be God Except God

Want to be your own god? Go right ahead. Believe in Allah? Have at it. Want to believe God is not separate from creation, aka pantheism, or as someone has said, “God is everything and everything is God”? You’ve got lots of company.

But dare to claim God the Father redeemed humanity through God the Son, Jesus Christ, and then applied this salvation by indwelling Christ-followers with God the Holy Spirit. Such a statement is vilified as bigoted, narrow-minded, and uneducated.

Everyone gets to be God except God.

  • We can confess our sins to plants, but not to God.
  • Morality is fine, as long as we’re the ones who define it, instead of God.
  • Science is the altar at which humanity worships…until science itself becomes inconvenient:

> Ultrasounds reveal the baby in the womb, so don’t look.

> Biology reveals two genders: male and female, so let’s dismiss the evidence of our own eyes.

The bottom line? The only god we want to worship is ourselves. And once again everyone gets to be God except God.

It Was Predicted

Ironically, the very Bible dismissed by our culture predicted this would happen.

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.”
~ Romans 1:21-22

“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.” ~ Romans 1:25 NIV

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”
~ II Timothy 4:3 NIV

How sad that these things have come. And how sad that those who chase these pursuits fail to recognize their ultimate end. Stephen Covey once said, “We are free to choose our actions, but we are not free to choose the consequences of these actions.”

Does it break your heart to hear these things? Are you shedding tears at the folly that will have eternal consequences? Don’t rejoice that such people are facing the torment of eternal separation from their Creator. Instead, pray for softened hearts. Plead for eyes to be opened. And always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have, doing it with gentleness and respect (I Peter 3:15).

Regardless of what the world does, in your own life will you let God be God?


 
Hard Truths Relevant to Today’s Headlines
Hard Truths

I’ve heard it over and over again. “The Bible is an ancient, mythological book irrelevant to modern culture.”

Is it? The Christian community would disagree. Those who do not follow Christ are not convinced.

We could lock horns and argue about this until Jesus returns.

But our local headlines recently exploded with the results of a months-long investigation into sex trafficking. An investigation that began in our own county and stretched across state and international boundaries.

And as I watched developments unfold—and they’re still unfolding even now—I couldn’t help but think of a hard truth from that “ancient, mythological book.”

“Be sure your sin will find you out.” ~ Numbers 32:23 (ESV)

This was a true statement when it was written several thousand years ago and it is true today. We have only to listen to the news to confirm its accuracy.

Celebrities. Corporate giants. Philanthropic role models. And of course, “regular guys.” Upstanding members of the community. Husbands, fathers, and sons. They all learned the hard way that while we may hide our sin for a season, the darkness of all sin will someday be revealed.

So what can we learn from their failures…and our own, too?

We can start with some hard truths from the Bible:

1. Start with a new nature.

“For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out….Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” ~ Romans 7:18. 24-25 (ESV)

Relying on our own strength will doom us before we begin. But when we surrender our life to Jesus Christ, His Spirit dwells within us to guide, convict, and empower us to do what’s right.

2. Don’t believe your own press.

“The heart is deceitful above all things.” ~ Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV)

No one is immune to temptation. The more we try to convince ourselves that we’re stronger and better than the next person is the moment we’ll stumble and fall. And if people say enough nice things about us, after a while we start to believe what they say.

But an accurate assessment of who we are does not come from what people say about us. Rather, it is found in measuring ourselves against the plumb line of God’s Word.

3. Be accountable to at least one other person—find your “Nathan.”

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” ~ Proverbs 27:6 (ESV)

King David needed the prophet Nathan to speak truth into his life (“You are the man!” ~ II Samuel 12:7) after he sinned with Bathsheba. We also need people who will courageously speak the truth in love, regardless of how we might initially receive it.

4. Choose your friends wisely.        

 “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
~ I Corinthians 15:33 (ESV)

Sad words that describe a downward spiral of sin and defeat. A spiral that might have been halted with the right friends to encourage us in righteousness.

5. Start small and go long.

“My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.” ~ Proverbs 6:20 (ESV)

People rarely wake up one morning and decide, “Today I will schedule a moral failure.” It happens as we distance ourselves from God instead of surrendering to Him and immersing ourselves in His Word.

Think about a dirt road. If the road is not graded regularly, two ruts will appear from the repeated path of the car tires. By nurturing a habit of obedience in seemingly inconsequential areas, we create ruts or paths of obedience. This builds our self-control little by little until we’re able to withstand bigger temptations.

The Bible was relevant when it was written, and it’s relevant now.
What will you do with the hard truths of God’s Word today?


 
Is the Problem Guns, Sin, or a Worldview?

worldview

I’ve listened to the arguments.

The problem is access to guns.

No, the problem begins in the heart—specifically, hearts corrupted by sin.

The more I hear the debate, the more I think both arguments are missing the point.

Guns have always been available. And sin has always been around, at least since the Garden of Eden.

So really, what changed?

If we’re honest with ourselves, the only thing that changed in the past 50 years is our worldview.

Our western culture no longer even pretends to espouse a biblical worldview. What I mean by that is we no longer base our philosophy of life and our values on a biblical foundation.

  • Morality is relative. Right and wrong depend solely on your perspective rather than absolute standards.
  • Truth is relative. What’s true for me may not be true for you.
  • The determination of the beginning of life depends on whether the mother wants the baby growing inside her.
  • We teach children that they are a biological accident, rather than a person of eternal value created in the image of God.

When we divorce ourselves from the understanding that humanity is accountable to its Creator, what we have left is a diminished value of life and a corrupted view of sin. After all, your “truth” doesn’t have to be “my” truth anymore.

Our culture no longer views character development and discipline as useful. Just ask any teacher who’s had to explain to an angry parent why little Johnny experienced the consequence of failure for not completing his term paper. Excuses abound…from little Johnny and Johnny’s parents.

A cultivated sense of entitlement demands that we get our own way, regardless of someone else’s standards—regardless of any standards.

So our morality is relative, our view of life is that it’s an accident with no eternal purpose, and our understanding of sin is quickly becoming non-existent. And then we’re surprised when teens and young adults respond to their despair by killing anyone they perceive offended them?

We stripped life of its eternal value, and we’re surprised at the result?

Want more proof? A video game which was to be released in June would have provided players with the opportunity to play the role of a school shooter, scoring points for kills. The distribution company justified the game by saying the player also has the option of choosing to play the role of a SWAT team member instead of a shooter. And they had included the following disclaimer:

“Please do not take any of this seriously. This is only meant to be the simulation and nothing else. If you feel like hurting someone or people around you please seek help from local psychiatrists or dial 911 (or applicable). Thank you.”

Don’t take killing seriously? Really?

Due to a major outcry, “Active Shooter” was pulled from release. Interestingly enough, they pulled it, not because of the content, but because the creator had a bad reputation.

The solutions I’ve heard put forth to restore safety in our schools and workplaces seem to focus on symptoms instead of the cause.

If our culture persists in refusing to acknowledge the God who created us as well as the eternal value of life (whether a baby in the womb or a student in a classroom), we will continue to experience the horror of life violently snuffed out.

What shapes your worldview?


 
Refrigerator Magnet Theology

refrigerator magnet
How many magnets grace the front of your refrigerator? One? Five? Twelve?

Refrigerator magnets can be silly, serious, or snarky. They can be cute, corny, or classy.

Refrigerator magnets have also generated much theology that sounds good…but isn’t.

Consider these catchy quotes:

  • God never gives us more than we can handle.
  • Cleanliness is next to godliness.
  • God helps those who help themselves.
  • We’re all God’s children.

Phrases passed down from generation to generation. Easily remembered sound bites with a whisper of biblical wisdom and a hint of Christianity…and a bucketful of error.

Let’s look at these four examples:

God never gives us more than we can handle.

This probably originated with II Corinthians 10:13:

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (NIV).

As you can see, the context of this verse is temptation. God always provides a way for us to stand against temptation. But what about other life experiences? Let’s face it, most of us have experienced situations way beyond what we can handle on our own. The key in that last sentence is the phrase “on our own.”

We live in a fallen, sin-sick world. Tragedy strikes. Suffering happens. Betrayal blindsides us. Most of the time, it is indeed more than we can handle on our own.

But Christians are never “on our own.” We have the presence of the Holy Spirit in us to strengthen, guide, and give wisdom. When God allows us to experience more than we can handle ourselves, it’s an invitation to run to the One who provides what we need when we depend on Him.

 

Cleanliness is next to godliness.

This phrase probably developed in response to all the Bible verses that reference being cleansed—verses such as:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9 NASB).

and

“You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you” (John 15:3 NASB).

But once again, if we examine the context, we’ll see these verses are talking about being cleansed from sin, not from physical dirt. (Although my mother may disagree!)

 

God helps those who help themselves.

This phrase does not appear anywhere in Scripture.

One of the biggest traps we can fall into spiritually is thinking that we must help ourselves before God will help us. The difference between Christianity and every other religion is that we cannot help ourselves into heaven. God has accomplished all that we need for our salvation. Consider Romans 5:6:

“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (NASB).

God helps the helpless!

 

We’re all God’s children.

This phrase is more wishful thinking than anything else, because John 1:12 tells us:

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (NASB).

Becoming a child of God does not happen by physical birth, it happens when we receive the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. At that moment, we are adopted into God’s family. In case you think this verse is the only way that teaches this, consider Galatians 4:4-5:

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (NASB).

We are all created by God for He is the One who gives physical life. Becoming a child of  God—being adopted into His family—comes through faith in Jesus Christ.

 

Let’s guard against believing a statement because it sounds good or because it has been passed down from generation to generation. A refrigerator magnet is not the best source for sound theology. Check it against God’s Word to know, beyond any doubt, what is truly true.


 
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