Bible Wars

The body of Christ is supposed to be one church, no not one church building or one group of people, not one part of the world. When He gave us instructions to be of one body He wasn’t talking about our comfortable, well fed western way of living a Christian life where we do not have to worry about our lives, or have to be concerned come Sunday where we plan to meet for worship.

When I think about the analogy of “one body” I see the Christians here in the west as an important part of that body, just as important as the rest but in a different way. We can be his hands and feet here in an entirely different way than the rest of the world can. We can study His Word in depth and spend a lot of time doing so without worry of persecution or even prosecution for that matter, we are allowed to dig deep and I for one am grateful for this freedom we still have.

2015 - 1

Sometimes this freedom gets us into trouble, into trouble with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Sometimes we take our Bibles and put them in a lower position than they deserve, this is the Word of God we handle and sometimes we take that for granted and mistreat it. i think we need to take a look at the history of the Holy Bible.

The Bible consists of many books, its not just one book its sixty six books to be exact. originals were hand written in Hebrew or Greek, some portions were in Aramaic. The books span about fifteen hundred years of human history. Original copies of the books have been lost to history, most of them anyway. What we have in our possession today are copies of the originals, handwritten copies, word for word copies of what was written. The copies are mostly in Greek and Hebrew.

Over the years it was translated to latin, german and eventually english. English is a tricky language as you should know by now and it has changed a lot over the years, since our most popular version of the Bible written in 1611 the beloved King James Version was released Christians have heralded this version as the version. In its time it was a great work to undertake and it landed its publishers in hot water as well but that is another blog. Unfortunately many Christians do not understand that since 1611 we’ve uncovered new manuscripts that were unavailable to the 47 scholars who translated the King James. The King James is an excellent work of art really, it’s God Word as much as any other version but it does have inaccuracies, it also has a couple of additions that are not in the original. I will get to that a little later.

There is a movement among Christians called the “King James Only” movement, Christians that tend to look at the King James as if it’s the original, like Jesus spoke english with an english accent in medieval times. I find this disturbing because we aren’t supposed to be divided especially not about which Bible to read. The growing controversy among believers is that one version is more reliable than another and its causing division among us, people listen we cannot allow the enemy to plant seeds of doubt as to which Bible we should read, the second we give in to this lie than he has already won. Truth is most Bibles you find at the local Christian book store are reliable and accurate. Including the King James.

“I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talking flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”

The argument I have heard far too much lately is that the NIV (New International Version) has missing verses. I would like to clarify this misconception. Like most people I write notes in my Bible when I read, most of the time in the margins, well the original authors did this sometimes as well, so did the people who copied the originals, the men who did the copies would add their own notes not as part of scripture but as a reminder for themselves. Well what could happen then was when the next guy came around to make another copy he would take those side notes as part of the original scripture. This is what happened in Matthew chapter 6, take a look…

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.”

That is how verse 10-13 read in the King James Version, notice the last part starting with “for thine” and then take a look at how the NIV reads…

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

You’ll notice that the last thirteen words from the KJV are not in the NIV. Why would they leave out what looks to be a very important part of scripture? The short answer is they didn’t leave anything out, King James added those words as if they were a part of scripture from the manuscripts they had, they didn’t do anything wrong but later when scholars went to publish the NIV they went as far back as they could right to the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts that were discovered after the King James was long completed, those words were not found in the earliest manuscripts.

What could look as an omission of scripture was actually never there to begin with, this is where people can get confused and than start to look at newer versions of the Bible as being deceitful. Friends please understand whether you choose to read the KJV or the NIV or the NLT or the ESV like I do this is not where we should be arguing.

Yes it’s true that some versions are written specifically for certain types of studies, and others are written for ease of reading, I have read the NIV cover to cover and loved it, now I read the ESV Study Bible and can’t get enough, one is not better than the other, but the ESV has an ease about it that I can’t quite explain but it flows like a story or a book.

It is also extremely important to note that when a new version is in the works it is not a task that one person takes on himself, it’s a team of scholars that do it together, this way it cannot have the bias of one individual rather the team looks at it as Gods work.

The Bible is the most translated book in the history of the world, from the Greek and Hebrew texts to the hundreds of languages around the world today, we cannot compare one english version to another english version and expect them to be the same, that would be like comparing a man to a woman and expecting them to be the same. If you want to know what the original says you can, learn Greek and Hebrew and go to the bookstore and pick up a Greek/Hebrew version. For the rest of us we must trust that God is in control and when He places a copy of the Bible in our hands that we can trust it. it may not look exactly the same as the original but neither will the hundreds of different and unique languages around the world, but millions have been saved around the world using a translated Bible that may not be perfect, their salvation is not in a discrepancy of words, rather its in the Lord Jesus and the fact that they placed their trust in Him.

Do not let seeds of doubt planted out there seep into your hearts, God is in control, Gods Word is to be trusted and the Bible you hold in your hands and the Bible I hold in my hands can and should be trusted. There are many reasons the world tries to divide us and we cannot let them.

http://www.christianbiblereference.org is a wonderfully written website that can articulate much better than I can so pay them a visit.

Looking Forward to Fall Premieres? Here’s What You Won’t See…

Looking Forward to Fall Premieres? Here’s What You Won’t See…

I like TV. I watch quite a bit of it, some of my favorites include Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D, Blacklist, Big Brother, America’s Got Talent, Survivor, oh and This Is Us, who doesn’t like This Is Us?

This summer however I discovered Last Man Standing, and no this blog post is not about the politics expressed in the show that many believe got it canceled off the uber liberal network ABC, though it’s quite obvious since Mike Baxter (Tim Allen) is a die hard Republican loyal to Reagan, disses Obama, and speaks out against everything the Democrats stand for. And ABC wouldn’t cancel a show that blatantly expresses views different from their own, that would be…shall we say, intolerant. Nooo they wouldn’t do thaaaat!

But there is one more thing found in Tim Allen’s show that isn’t found anywhere else – God, faith, family, strong male leadership, traditional family values, a male lead that that isn’t a complete idiot who sleeps with anyone and everyone like, oh, I don’t know every other sitcom on TV!!

Kidding aside, I love (AGT) America’s Got Talent. This summer a gospel choir made it very far and they received very good feedback from the judges and America! One of the things about AGT that I love is the stories of the contestants, the producers do a great job of giving viewers a peek into their lives. This way you’re not only watching contestants on a TV show, you also feel like you know them a little, you can relate. Well they also did a story on the gospel choir wherein the choir members shared some of their struggles and hardships and it was very good, heart wrenching even, but you know what was missing every time they (the producers) delved deeper into their story? The Gospel! God! How can an interview with members of a gospel choir not mention, even once the one thing that brought them all together? Now I’m not saying it’s the choir who omitted God from their story, though it’s possible, but far more likely is the notion that NBC and AGT didn’t want God in there because it’s too risky for them to be seen as friendly to religion by their non religious viewers. Don’t say God, it’s too controversial. Unless of course it’s Mel B screaming it from the judges panel that is, then it’s okay.

Big Brother and Survivor are not much different either, I mean I love those shows. Though this season of Big Brother has to be the worst one I’ve ever seen, Paul as a puppet master? Not likely, not to dis Paul too much, I’m sure he’s a decent player, thing is, this year their were no other players! Those who tried to play were villianized and evicted, punished for playing against Paul by his minions who seem all too willing to just give him half a million bucks! I’d like to see how much of a puppet master Paul would be if he were playing with the likes of Dr Will, Derrick or Dan, or even the year evil Dick played. Those people wouldn’t have let themselves be manipulated by Paul, unlike these fools playing this year, I’ve got some very un-christian-like words I’d like to use to describe their gameplay, but hey this is a Christian blog after all and I’m way off topic… So anyway, Big Brother did have a Christian player on this year, like they’ve done before. But also like they’ve done before they present that player in a way that isn’t too friendly, they made her look wierd, with the music and sound effects they used when she was in the HOH bathroom praying she looked more like a crazy person off her meds than a sane person just talking to God. And I know she was speaking in tongues, for many that’s already wierd, even for most Christians I know that’s wierd. All I have to say is read Corinthians a little closer if you wanna know more about that. But even when she called Paul out to be the snake that he is, Big Brother would use the sound of a snake as a funny sound effect effectively mocking her obvious reference to the serpent in the Bible. Again, CBS can’t be seen as portraying Christians in a positive light, that would be too risky for them.

All this ranting aside, what other options do we Christians have when watching TV if we want to relate to the characters on our favorite TV shows besides the cheesy stuff we find on the faith channel? None really. So the best thing we can do is use our favorite shows as examples of what not to do, except This Is Us, there’s some great stuff in there.

The other thing we can do is not get all bent out of shape about it either, I know we like to say that it’s all these shows these days that don’t show or teach any morals or values, but if we’re honest, we’d have to go waaay back to find a time when they did. I’m in my mid thirties and I remember growing up and watching shows my parents hated – Seinfeld and Friends to name a couple. Disclaimer: I’m not knocking Friends, I know some of you are hardcore Friends fans and I’m not trying to offend you, just wanted to say that. But, if we’re honest, those shows had a whole lot of sleeping around, they weren’t exactly do-gooders who caught themselves in bad situations, they wanted to be in those situations.

TV and movies have for a long time shown us what they knew we would pay for – people living lives that we secretly dream about. Is it really the fault of the entertainment industry, or is it our fault for continuing to watch?

What we can do is use TV exactly for what it is – entertainment. We can also learn from it, use it as a teaching tool for our kids and if you give it a chance there are now actually some really good, and well made Christian based movies and TV that don’t look like they were shot with an iPhone 3GS. We recently watched The Case for Christ and I have to say it was really good! No sugar coating our faith, just an honest look at the Bible through the eyes of an atheist who later surrendered to Jesus. The God’s NOT Dead movies are also good, though I can see where some potential criticisms would be. War Room was really good, almost anything recently made by the Kendrick brothers is good. And believe it or not, I might get some flack for saying this but The Shack also was well done.

Point is, TV was never intended to be all hugs and kisses, despite what Full House may have shown us, it’s entertainment. And entertainment is going to change based on what people want to see. So use TV as entertainment but if you want to be edified and have your bucket filled, read the Bible. If you want your kids to grow up knowing Jesus don’t expect the TV or anyone else to do that for them, you do it, by reading them the Bible, walking with them, talking with them, listening to them, leading them to Jesus yourself because everyone knows, if we expect our kids not to turn into the things they see on TV, you have to show them something else, you have to BE something else.

I’m Saved. So Why Don’t I Act Like It?

The Apostle Paul told the Galatians that the “…fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
[Galatians 5:22‭-‬23]

If we have the Holy Spirit it would be evident to those around us because we would live our lives in such a way that no one could accuse us of lacking any of the traits Paul listed. Come Monday morning however how many of us can say that we’re patient, kind and gentle? I know I can’t, either I’m angry that the kids woke me up way too early, I’m frustrated that traffic on the highway isn’t moving fast enough or the long list of emails from impatient clients makes me impatient!

I’m not saying that doing and being good has any bearing on our salvation, most Christians nowadays know that we don’t earn it. Doing and being good is a result of that salvation. So I can’t help but ask sometimes if I’m really saved if I don’t perfectly example the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and I know I am not the only one who asks this question, it’s one of the big ‘what ifs’ we Christians ask ourselves – what if I am not really saved? It doesn’t help that the Bible confirms that many who think they know Jesus will be turned away from Him [Matthew 7:23].

What are we to do then with this grey area of I accepted Jesus into my heart but I am definitely not the perfection that Paul describes to the Galatians? Well rest assured brother and sister Christian, rest assured. The Bible also tells us that we can know with utmost certainty that we are indeed saved and will spend eternity in Heaven, even though we fail to place a check mark beside the virtues Paul talks about.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 10:9 NIV

Being saved doesn’t require a church membership, a long list of charitable organizations that rely on you. It doesn’t mean you have to stand on a street corner every night after work handing out Bibles, you don’t have to give every last penny you have to the needy. To be saved Paul says is to declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and declare with your heart a full belief that Jesus rose from the dead defeating the sins of the world. Jesus is who saves you, doing the things I listed above come naturally to those who have come into the presence of the Holy Spirit.

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.
John 10:28 NIV

John reminds us that once saved, no one can take us from Jesus, no one.

Naturally the question then becomes, what do I do with that Monday morning bad attitude that doesn’t exactly point others to Jesus? Well, the easy answer is… REPENT! Jesus, Paul and John aren’t asking or even expecting us to be perfect. They know that it isn’t possible, except for Jesus of course. Even the unchurched world isn’t asking us to be perfect, in fact it’s those of us that like to think that we are perfect that drive them away, they don’t like the hypocrisy. Repentance can be one of those fruits of the Spirit that the outside world can look at and say “well, that’s cool.” And I think that this is where we can bring the world and Jesus together. You see, Jesus loves a repentant heart and the world can’t help but love a repentant person. A repentant person is different from the world and nobody stays mad at a person who admits they don’t have it all together, in fact hearing a person say “it was my fault” is so far off of how most people behave these days that we can’t help but love them. Just ask anyone why the world loves Canadians, they’ll say it’s because we’re always saying sorry.

The Bible says that because we follow Jesus we will be different from the world, being repentant is different. In a world that is forever finding new ways to sin we can be the ones who find new ways to bring the gospel to the world.

Here’s the long and short of it friends, if you’re a Christian already don’t listen to the lie that your Monday morning behavior will condemn you. You may not always be all those things but you will be some of those things sometimes and the rest of the time you can repent of when you weren’t. Don’t go and try to be perfect, love Jesus and good things will follow.

Anyway, this is what was on my heart today and I’ll admit that much of it is me talking to myself, rambling even. But I also know that a lot of people struggle with knowing that they’re saved so I thought I’d share my rambling with you in hopes that it helps. Have a good day and don’t forget to be Jesus to someone today.

The ‘Facebook vs The Shack’ Conundrum

The ‘Facebook vs The Shack’ Conundrum

When I started this blog I knew it would rub some people the wrong way. I knew that some would see me as the hypocrite who writes about things he used to, and might even still do. I knew that I would be seen by some as the holier than thou type who stands on a pedestal and waves his finger at people. I knew, that I might be seen as a Pharisee.

I try really hard to not be those things, I try even harder to not make it about me but to make it about Jesus. He is after all the Savior of the world and deserves any and all glory, needless to say I have failed at that numerous times.

One of those big failures is how I was using my Facebook page to thump readers on the head not with the Bible, but my interpretations of it. I used Facebook as my world to judge, I sat on a throne and perused all the offerings that people would put out there. I ‘liked’ the things I like, I shared the things worthy of sharing, or worthy of sharing so that I could put my own two cents in and I commented on the things I felt I should comment on. None of which is inherently or necessarily bad on its own, I mean that is the premise of Facebook isn’t it? To let the world know your thoughts by putting them out there? But I saw all of those posts as things for me to either agree or disagree with and I’d find Scripture to back me up.

One of the things Facebook was and is still good for is to get the scoop on upcoming movies. As a Christian who loves movies I long for the day when Hollywood will put a true bona fide effort into making a Christian movie. “The Shack” seemed to be that movie. Much to my dismay this movie was slammed by Christians even before its debut, Christians everywhere condemned it first for its representation of the Holy Trinity and second because the book by the same name it’s based on was written by someone who many see as some new age, heretic. I read article after article about why we should not watch The Shack and how those that do and don’t see a problem with it aren’t real Christians. It seemed to me that a lot of good, well meaning Christians were sitting on their thrones in front of their Facebook kingdoms and declaring that their interpretation of the Bible and The Shack were the only ones worth entertaining. I know because I have been that guy. So I decided that I would indeed watch it, I would do so with a critical eye and a notepad…err, smartphone with a notepad ready to type down my thoughts so that I could come to my own conclusion.

I must say, I thought it was a good movie. Not just the production either, I thought the moral of the story aligned with scripture and I thought the message itself goes hand in hand with what the Bible teaches about forgiveness, fatherhood and the Father heart of God. I liked the story of how an angry, bitter man can come full circle, I liked how it taught that all people are God’s children and mostly I thought the scene where the main character Mac is told that both he and God can’t sit on the throne, it’s got to be one or the other and Mac has to choose which one it will be.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there might be some aspects of theology in the movie that differ from mine, but I have a hard time condemning the movie based on that alone. I mean, I saw the latest Transformers movie and if I were looking through the lens of theology at it I could say that it’s an idolatrous, blasphemous movie filled with idols and lies and any number of ungodly things that I disagree with. But I didn’t go expecting to be taught about God, I went for entertainment. The Shack and other faith based movies however get put up on a pedestal for some reason, a different set of standards if you will. We expect that they’ll all align perfectly with our interpretations of the Bible, we expect that our theology will be presented exactly the way we see it and I think that we Christians often forget that in order for me to condemn another person’s view of the Bible I have to assume that my view is the perfect one, I have to stand on that pedestal and point my finger at everyone else, I am the one on the throne.

To be clear, The Shack is just a movie and that movie is someone’s view of God, it is not perfect. God didn’t write it after all. Likewise, Facebook is just a program and it’s a program that has changed a lot since it’s inception, it’s not a bad program by any means and people who use it are not bad because they use it. Both The Shack and Facebook have one thing in common that can either make them good or bad – people.

I deleted my Facebook account a week ago. Not because I think it’s evil or that I have a problem with any one of my friends or family that use it, I want that to be clear. I deleted Facebook because I was using it as my kingdom to judge and I, not God was sitting on the throne. I deleted it because other people were influencing my views of the Bible, I have people close to me that I trust that can influence that but Joe Schmo on Facebook whom I’ve never met shouldn’t have that privilege.

I deleted Facebook because I don’t want to be the one on the throne anymore, that’s God’s job. I don’t want anyone to read this as me saying social media is a bad thing, it’s not. It is however what we make of it – I made my Facebook page a bad thing by how I was using it. The same goes for Christian movies, either they’re just entertainment or they’re teaching tools and I believe that that’s up to its creator. If a movie claims to be a tool we can use for evangelism, than we hold it up to scripture and see if that’s true. If a movie claims to be entertainment than holding it up to the Bible would be unfair in the same way it’d be unfair to hold SpiderMan up to the Bible – it never claimed to be Biblical.

Before I deleted Facebook I read a lot about The Shack, I already told you that, what I didn’t say was how much those things I’d read influenced me to form an opinion on The Shack before I ever even saw it. If someone else’s opinion can influence my opinion long before I should have one about a movie, how are they also influencing my opinions on other things? And how are my Facebook opinions influencing others’ opinions before they should have one. I think we should all make our own decisions and form our own opinions. When it comes to the Truth of Jesus Christ however, everyone needs to know Him. So my aim from this point forward is to spread less opinion and more Jesus, less interpretation and more Jesus, less head thumping and more Jesus… And no more Facebook, at least from me. For you? Feel free to share, or not share. Like, or not.

How Have We Gone From “It Takes a Village” to Mommy Wars? 

I love when friends share Bible verses on social media! It always makes me smile knowing that others take the time to read it and are encouraged by the word. It also makes me feel like I’m not alone on this journey and it’s encouraging to know that others struggle with the same thing I struggle with. 

This morning it was 1 Thessalonians 3 that was shared. It’s just one of the examples of Paul encouraging other believers, and encouraging them to be encouraging. 

We all love encouragement, receiving it that is. Giving it is another story. Did you know that as a culture we are so bad at encouraging one another that we’ve come with the term mommy wars? What that means is that mommies everywhere judge other mommies everywhere for everything they do from the moment they announce their pregnancy to the moment their child eventually marries and moves out. 

I read a story recently where a 30 year friendship ended after the two friends became mommies. They were so critical of each other’s parenting techniques that the friendship ended in a spat about breastfeeding vs formula feeding. “She had an opinion on everything I did, and I was always wrong. At first I distanced myself but then the passive aggressive comments came via Facebook posts that she knew I’d see. Eventually I had to end it, I mean why did she care so much about how much screen time my kids had, or how often I bathed my son, or the fact that I fed him store bought food?” Said one of the moms in an interview with a parenting magazine. 

As a foster parent I’ve had more than my fair share of unsolicited advice. Everyone knows what’s best for the kids, and I apparently know nothing. Since I knew that I would be under the critical eye of a government agency I’m somewhat okay with their criticisms, these aren’t my kids after all. It’s the scrutiny I felt from the day…. no, long before the day my first son was born from everyone under the sun that gets under my skin. They all want to tell you what’s best, even people who have yet to have their own kids! “You should go with a midwife” “no, you should use a doctor” “have your baby at the hospital” “do a home birth” “refuse pain meds” ask for pain meds” “don’t have any ultrasounds” “get as many ultrasounds as possible” “find out the sex” “don’t find out” and that’s just some of what I can remember hearing before my son was born. 

Afterwards it got even worse, from whether or not to vaccinate, to the oh so controversial topic of breastfeeding vs formula, then to what baby foods we should buy or better yet…make! I remember hearing criticisms about how we rocked him to sleep and that he slept in our bed and that we are spoiling him and ruining him and on to how much screen time he got on the tablet and so on. It became so hard to navigate through all the opinions of other people to actually determine what is truly the right thing for my son and my family, that I began to tune out all of the voices and that’s when I found some clarity. Nobody knew my little guy better than his parents, and his Creator, between God, my wife, my son and I we would figure out what he needed, and when. 

Tuning out those voices is an ongoing battle, which I’m sure it is for you too. You’ve probably been at the playground and saw the judgemental glances from other parents, or heard the whispers when your kids falls and scrape a knee. You’ve probably been at the grocery store trying to reason with an irate toddler demanding a bag of Oreos and seen the ‘mom of the year’ walk by with her perfectly dressed kids, walking hand in hand asking their mother politely if they might please have a bowl of broccoli for a snack whence they return home. I’m a dad, and therefore don’t hear quite so much of the cattyness but I’m not oblivious to it either, I can read between the lines when I see one mom ask another if she’s sure if she wants to put that in her kids’ mouths. 

The approaching school years get even worse, you’ll hear from people you didn’t even ask which school you should send your kids to, and they are all very passionately convinced that they are right. Private vs catholic vs homeschool and obviously public is only for the heathens. Then come the birthday parties and one parent out bashing the other when it comes to how elaborate they should be. Bouncy castles are a must now and any kid who doesn’t get one is obviously living below the poverty line. 

Okay, I’m done ranting, I just can’t figure out why so many people preach diversity in parenting and then demand that everyone parents the same way. Why does the homeschool mom and the public school mom have to be at odds with each other? Why can’t they each arrive at their own decision and be happy for each other? These pics say what I’m trying to say best. 

Putting aside all sarcastic ranting and the fact that I’m a dad and not a mom, wouldn’t harmonious parenting be better than competitive parenting? In my experience dad’s don’t do this, at least not to the level I’ve seen moms do it. If you don’t believe me just read the comments section of any topic related to parenting. Mommy shaming is a term someone came up with in an effort to describe what it’s like to be the subject of all that unwanted criticism, and I think it hits the nail on the head. 

Remember the old adage ‘it takes a village’? Well now it takes a mom and the village just scorns from the outside looking in. 

Look, I’m not saying I’m innocent in all of this, like I said I’m a foster parent. That means I take in kids coming from bad situations and I’ve done my fair share of judging those parents. I’m just asking that we put aside our opinions and what worked for us and we think they should do, and support each other and encourage each other in all the different ways we parent. Like the Apostle Paul when he wrote to his fellow believers, be an encouragement. Lift each other up and for goodness sake, lighten up! Life’s hard enough raising kids in this crazy world, why do we want to raise other people’s kids anyways? At the end of the day if that kid is a brat, it isn’t your problem. 

Challenge of the day: Speak Life (With Grace and Mercy) in the Face of Certain Death.

I wish I could say that not tithing the rightful tithe is no big deal. I wish I could say that God doesn’t take it that seriously and that we don’t need to repent of our sin of omission. 

I wish I could say that crude jokes and locker room talk about what men would do to certain women is harmless. I’d like to brush it off as just boys being boys and no one is hurt by it. 

I wish I could say that Monday through Saturday idolatry is no big deal, that the way we worship our jobs and our money is just what we do six days out of the week.

I wish that I could tell the lustful desires in the hearts of men that looking is fine, that their thoughts are okay, and that it’s just a natural desire that God gave you and therefore it’s nothing you need to repent of. 

I wish I could say to all those living in sexual immorality that you were born this way, God made you this way and that the Bible does not call it a sin. 

I wish I could say to the drunkards, the idolaters, the adulterers, the thieves, the greedy, and the con artists that what they’re doing and how they’re leading their lives is just what they have to do to get by. 

The truth is: I can’t say any of those things and still call myself a follower of Jesus. 

The truth is: I can’t say any of those things and still be considered as following the teachings of the Bible.

The truth is: I could say those things and the world would accept me with open arms and embrace my acceptance and tolerance and my willingness to coexist. 

The truth is: I could say those things and never call sin for what it is, but I would be living a life of heresy. 

There’s a growing church in the western world and in this church there are no sermons on sexual purity, no teachings about repenting of sin, no pastors who will lovingly call out the sins of the people, no need to confess and be accountable, no words spoken that might offend the diverse congregation.

This church is called “The Emergent Church” and it’s growing because millenials who grew up in church want to worship God but they want to do it in a place that doesn’t use the word sin unless it’s used to say that their parents and grandparents were the sinners. That it was generations past who practiced bigotry, intolerance and hatred. It was the years and years of past Republican presidents who marginalized everyone who wasn’t white. It’s the fault of baby boomers and generation X’ers who messed up the world and that the new crop of uber tolerant millenial christians are the ones fixing it. 

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

2 Timothy 4:3‭-‬4

The emergent church teaches from the Bible, but also uses ‘holy’ books from other religions. They also use Oprah, Hillary Clinton and the Dalai Lama. The emergent church does not like the parts of the Bible that talk about sin, so they don’t teach those parts. They like the parts where Jesus heals, raises from the dead and protects would be victims of stonings. 

As a more conservative Christian who rejects tradition for the sake of tradition but also embraces the fundamental teachings of Jesus, I have a hard time with the Christian climate of today. It seems that another great divide is coming and maybe it’s already happened, and like the split that happened in Martin Luther’s day this one will be about how the Bible is taught. Unlike Luther’s reformation however, this one will hinge on the level of authority we ascribe to the Bible. 

What I’m saying is this, the Bible is either God’s Word or it isn’t. You see some of the new age teachers and pastors do not give the Bible the authority that God did. 

“Therefore, we never stop thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it is. And this word continues to work in you who believe.”

1 Thessalonians 2:13 NLT

As the very Word of God we need to take it very seriously. When it calls certain things out as sin, those things are sin…no matter what and no matter if we don’t like it. 

Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:9‭-‬11

Acknowledging sin is only the first step, we need to know if what we’re doing is wrong according to God. The Bible does this for those that see it as God’s Word, for others, they have to have someone fill them in. In other words someone has to tell them the good news about what Jesus did to save us from those sins. 

People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.

Proverbs 28:13 NLT

Emergent teaching focuses on the mercy mentioned in Proverbs or the grace that the New Testament talks about. And that’s not a bad thing, the grace and mercy we receive are amazing, way more than we deserve and we should be shouting for joy that we’ve got it. In order to know how awesome that grace is, we need to know how serious our sin is, when we down play our sin we also down play grace. 

Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.

Romans 6:1‭-‬7 NLT

This is where the balance of truth and grace comes in. We have been commissioned by God to tell the world about Jesus. The world on the other hand doesn’t want to hear it, they tell us to keep it to ourself and that faith is personal. The emergent church doesn’t recognize sin or the authority of Scripture so they aren’t going to be the ones who teach the hard truths of the Bible. On the flip side people like me can sometimes focus too much on the hard truth and not enough on the grace. 

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

Ephesians 4:29 

So here’s the point; Christians need to know the Bible and what it says, even when they don’t like it. Like I said, I wish I could tell the people I know who continue to indulge in sin that it’s okay, God loves you and there’s no need to repent. But I can’t. God does love them, but He hates the things that come between them and Him. Sin is serious, it must be recognized as such and then be repented of, if we leave out that very important step we run the risk of paving that road of good intentions straight to you know where. 

Like Paul told the Ephesians, none of this truth telling needs to be done with harsh or foul language. It should be done in a good and helpful way that encourages the listener but not saying what is true is just as good as lying. 

God DOES Care About The Small Things

God DOES answer prayers!
Sometimes I wonder if God cares about the less significant aspects of our lives, like when I see hockey or football players all asking God to bless them with a win.
The Bible instructs us to bring everything to Him in prayer (Philippians 4:6), not leaving out anything at all. This concept is hard for me because when I think of how great God is I see the teeny tiny things that matter to me as insignificant to Him. I mean He created the universe in a word! He spoke life into existence, He manages the weather and the solar system. What does God care if my feelings are hurt, or how tough work has been, or if my kids are driving me crazy? And yet He says to bring it all to Him.
Jesus’ first recorded miracle in John 2:1-11 where He turns water into wine is a good example of how He cares even about the smaller things in our life. I mean here He is at a wedding when the wine supply runs dry. Jesus’ mother is the one who calls on Him to do something and in what can only be an act of honoring his mother, Jesus obeys her and performs a miracle turning water into wine so that the guests have more to drink. Moreover, this miracle saves the wedding party from embarrassment. At the end of the day Jesus could have done nothing, it’s just a wedding where people were probably going to drink too much anyway, but Jesus cares about the wedding party and prevents their embarrassment, actually His miracle makes the wedding party look even better because some of the guests commented on how great it was that they brought out the “good stuff” later rather than sooner.
The first miracle in the Bible performed by Jesus is not a healing or bringing the dead back to life, it was an act of obedience to His mother, one that helped someone with what really is just a small spec in the greater, much larger picture of life.
God cares about the small things! I know this in my life as He has answered the prayers of many of my small things. When I asked Him to bring me to a church where I could feel like I belong, He answered and gave me Meadow Brook! When I asked Him for some people I could trust and to talk to about those smaller things that feel like are bigger things, He gave me some awesome new friends. When I asked Him to make me a better husband and father He gave me a wife that loves me when I shouldn’t be loved and kids that adore me – warts and all.
Our God cares about us and all of our little struggles and of course the bigger struggles too, point is, He cares and He answers prayers. Bring it all to Him and see what happens.

An Awakening in the City

I spent a few days in Canada’s largest city this week, and even though it was a business trip I was able to glean much from the experience that I can apply to my personal life. Skyscraper after skyscraper, building after building, the city of Toronto is home to millions. I did more than my fair share of walking around taking in the sights, sounds and smells of downtown T.O. One of the things that struck me was how everyone walked, everywhere. The streets and sidewalks were crowded day and night with walkers, all going in different directions. Which is a good thing, walking is healthy after all. In the middle of those crowds however, hiding in plain sight, unseen by the vast majority of those walkers live the forgotten, former walkers – Toronto’s homeless. 

On one of my walks I came upon a man sleeping on top of a sewer grate. It kept him warm you see, and since nobody cared if he smelled a little unsavory, he welcomed the warm air escaping the city’s underbelly. He looked like the homeless person you’re imagining right now – long grey beard, messy hair, tattered clothing, leathery skin that hadn’t been washed in years and not far from his reach sat the shopping cart that secured his belongings while he slept, shivering in the cold. 

At first I thought it odd, the spot he picked to sleep, right in the middle of the sidewalk. I was able to put the pieces together quickly enough and realized it was the sewer warmth that invited him there, and maybe, just maybe someone who walks by will actually notice him there and take pity on him. Maybe they’ll leave a sandwich for him, a few coins in his cup or leave a blanket that smelled of home, rather than the alternative. Nobody did, not even me. I did hesitate, but only because you don’t see this in my hometown, but the pace of city life beckoned and the crowd urged me forward as they brushed past me, subtly telling me to keep moving. So the crowds moved past him, walking around him as if he were a fire hydrant or some other immovable object in their path. And the man slept. 

I was early for my meeting so I ducked into a nearby Tim Hortons where I encountered two more of T.O’s homeless enjoying a cup of coffee, they must have gotten their hands on some money I thought to myself, quickly realizing how ignorant I am when it comes to homelessness. Their conversation was distasteful, at best. Ridden with cuss words and obscenities that would make a sailor blush, the two of them ranted on about racism and Donald Trump and the problems of the world. I wondered if the obviously louder than necessary conversation was more for the benefit of those around them, than for themselves. My suspicions were confirmed when a passerby held the door for them as they left the coffee shop, one of them thanked the guy for noticing that they needed help and apologized for the language. They just wanted to be noticed, that’s all. Instead, everyone (again including myself) would rather just move on than have to face someone with bigger problems than their own. And the two disappeared into the crowd and down the sidewalk. 

Leaving the coffee shop I noticed that I had gotten two breakfast sandwiches instead of the one I asked for, after checking the receipt and realizing they did indeed charge me for two I decided that instead of making a fuss I’ll just give the extra sandwich to a homeless person. Walking through a park I came across said homeless person and decided that he was the one. He took the sandwich, thanked me and I carried on with my walk. Now, I know that it was a small gesture, one that happened only because Tim Hortons misunderstood my order, but that didn’t stop me from congratulating myself, patting myself on the back, and letting the feelings of superhero-dom take me over. Look at me, I’m a giver, if only everyone were like me. 

Then I realized the problem (or at least part of it), me! Me, and everyone like me who walks by the guy sleeping on the sewer grate, ignores the cries for help from the cussing pair in the coffee shop, and oblivious to the fact that I would have walked by the hungry guy in the park if it weren’t for someone else’s mistake. I didn’t go out of my way to help someone, I was a tourist going for a walk, admiring the buildings and the architecture, the history and you know what I’ve come to realize? Cities today are nothing more than modern versions of the tower of Babel. 

There I was, in the middle of a city, worshipping what man has done. I spent the night in a hotel room that cost more for one night than it would to feed a dozen homeless people for a week! Granted, I didn’t pay for that room but nevertheless, still true. My valet parking voucher could’ve bought a nice fur coat for the man sleeping on the sewer. My dinner voucher could’ve paid for twenty more breakfast sandwiches and my compassion could’ve soothed a couple of troubled souls and not cost anyone a cent. 

If you’re like me, you’re thinking a couple of things right now. A. Many homeless people are there because they did it to themselves, either by refusing to work, making bad decisions, or just plain being dumb. Or B. They’re not my problem, they could go to a shelter, family or at least try and get out of the situation. Admittedly, some might be homeless because of the decisions they made, some might be lazy, some could get a job and fend for themselves if they’d just try. However, I’m going to say something now that you’re going to hate, you might even accuse me of hypocrisy and you’d be right to do so. You might ignore it and you’ll probably think of that person who’s always thumping people on the head with a Bible, but I’m going to say it anyway…


Or better yet, what did Jesus do? When He met someone in need did He question why they were in need? No, He just helped. Did Jesus ever say that the needy weren’t our problem? Did He just walk by? Ignore them? Or worse yet, did He smite them by accusing them of being sinners? 

I’m not a wealthy person, at least not in terms of money (a statement that’s debatable, but that’s another blog post), my life at home is fairly modest and I don’t blow my earnings on unnecessary luxuries like the accommodations I had in Toronto. Truth be told I loved the room I stayed in, the shower, oh my gosh, the shower! Have you ever been in a shower so big it felt like a room? The shower head was one of those rain shower heads that felt like a tropical waterfall. The floor was heated, the bed was sooo soft, there was a TV in the mirror! the curtains opened and closed at the touch of button, if I left the room and came back only minutes later the hotel cleaning ninjas (that’s what I called them cause you never saw them) cleaned up, put on some soft music, dimmed the lights and left a mint on the pillow just so that when I came back it always felt like the first time. The first morning I was there I went for a coffee at Tim’s and when I came back there was a professional’s preparation kit waiting for me, basically everything someone might need to get all dressed up in a suit and tie, complete with a shoehorn that cost more than the shirt I was wearing from Giant Tiger. A comb encrusted with diamonds (I made that up) and a warm towel for my hands just in case they got cold. All of this was completely new to me, I didn’t need it and didn’t use it. It was all a bit much and I appreciate the experience but it’s not me. I like wearing shorts and shirts I got from the store that teenagers used to shop at. I would’ve been fine at the Holiday Inn Express with a continental breakfast. And most of all, I never felt like I fit in there, nor did I have the desire to. 

So my experience in Toronto was confusing to say the least. On one hand I was being wined and dined and treated like royalty. On the other hand, I was exposed to a level of poverty that shocked me, how could a city so obsessed with individual rights and freedoms allow the homeless population to remain homeless? They were like the invisible inhabitants of the city’s underworld, they would come out of hiding once in a while in hopes of being fed only to be completely ignored. I didn’t get it. 

Then, it occurred to me, on all my walks, all that time spent taking in downtown Toronto, I hadn’t seen but one church. A million people live in the downtown core and there’s only one church? God has been evicted from the city, banished to live in one building and told to stay there. On top of that, God’s Word has become watered down with the waters of relativism. That one church I saw had a large poster near the front door that bragged of being inclusive and welcoming with the rainbow colors as the backdrop. I wonder if they know what the original meaning of the rainbow was? 

Without God the virtues of charity and generosity and compassion have gone the way of the VCR, and chivalry, and the dodo bird. Toronto, like most major urban centers are more like the ancient cities of the Old Testament with their pantheon of gods that aren’t really gods than ever before. They may not necessarily have altars set up and places of worship to go to, but as an outsider looking in it’s clear as day. God and His church are just one of things in their mixed bag of idols, they keep Him there, at arm’s length just in case. Who knows, they might need Him someday. 

Anyway, I really wasn’t trying to judge although it came out that way, it’s just that I see more churches in a town of 30,000 than I saw in Toronto’s downtown. Indicative, I think of the way culture is going. More and more towards what mankind can do, and less and less concerned about what Jesus already did.