Discernment

Beware the Bridgers (revised)

Imagine you are building a house. You have carefully chosen your builder based on referrals, reviews, and personal interviews. During the project, your builder recommends and uses different subcontractors to finish the house. You do not know anything about these subcontractors but you trust them because you trust your builder.

Your builder is a bridger. He is bridging you to the services of someone else that you don’t know, have never heard of, but will choose to trust because of his recommendation.

Now if he is connecting you with a subcontractor that is dishonest or unqualified, you will find this intolerable and demand a change be made. I doubt you would be satisfied to allow the poor work to continue on the house in which you are investing so much time and money.

I’d like to submit to you that growing in Christ is just a tiny bit similar to building a house. We are intentionally trying to grow spiritually and we choose “builders” (preachers, teachers, authors, etc) to help us with this. Along the way, those builders recommend other subcontractors (or builders). We choose to trust because of the recommendations of our favorite “builders”.

For example, if I see that my favorite author is favorably quoting another author in a book I am reading, I will naturally think that quoted author is someone I can trust. Why else would he be quoted?

Or if my favorite preacher is hanging out with other preachers, I will naturally assume that they are trustworthy preachers. I can hardly expect someone of integrity and truth to “hang out” with those who just don’t care very much about either.

But what seems so cut and dried in the physical world (builder-subcontractor-dismiss if they don’t do a good job), gets very sticky and complicated in the spiritual world.

There are so many “solid” spiritual leaders that are bridging their followers to those who are deceptive and unqualified. It’s been a very interesting dynamic to watch, particularly over the past thirty years or so (although the beginnings of this go back way earlier.)

I have watched men and women I trust recommend and join with word-of-faith preachers (which preach a false gospel), Bethel and Hillsong (which are fatally compromised and without the gospel), social justice warriors (which preach a social gospel), and all sorts of other compromised and spiritually twisted leaders. I have seen them recommend and join with false religious leaders that preach a gospel that demands works (Catholicism, Mormonism, etc.) and call it “unity”.

These people are functioning as bridgers. They are giving validity to false religion and false teaching, bridging you to a different way of thinking, even changing how you think—probably without you even realizing it.

So you may be thinking: That’s all well and fine but what is your scriptural basis for what you are saying? Does it really even matter?

I’m so glad you asked! Let’s turn to scripture to explore this specifically.

There is a small verse in Romans 16 that I find many Christians are simply ignoring. Paul is ending his letter with loving greetings to specific people of the Roman church. And then he gives these instructions to the church in verse 17–

Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.

Here Paul makes it abundantly clear that we are to have nothing to do with those who would preach anything contrary to the “doctrine which you have learned”. I think we could easily say this means anything contrary to the Holy Scriptures.

Let’s turn to one more passage but, first, let’s talk about darkness and light from a spiritual perspective. In His Word, God tells us that we once walked in darkness but are now in marvelous light. How did we end up in that marvelous light? Let’s go to I Peter 2:9-10 to find out–

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

God called us. He called us out of the darkness and into his marvelous light. There is a vast difference between walking in darkness and walking in light. Now, let’s go to Ephesians 5, where Paul talks a bit more about this idea in verses 8-11–

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the [b]Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather [c]expose them.

Again, we are told not only to have no fellowship with those who walk in darkness (which most certainly would include those who preach a false Gospel, teach heresy, etc.) but to actually go a step further and expose them.

Now compare these scriptures to what you see happening in those who I will call “platformed Christians”. These men and women have a grave responsibility to lead their followers circumspectly and to lead them away from (rather than toward) false teachers and heretics. And, yet, is that what we are seeing? I’d suggest we are seeing the very opposite of this. Not only are we seeing these platformed Christians bridging believers to those who preach a different gospel, but we see those same believers refusing to acknowledge the dishonesty and lack of qualification of these false teachers. Their spiritual welfare is being undermined and so few seem to care. Instead of saying “halt the work”, they are embracing these false teachers recommended by the men and women they trust.

I’ll give you one clear (and rather extreme) example before I wrap up. Several years ago now, I heard R.C. Sproul in an interview. I had a fairly decent view of this guy going into this interview and had appreciated some of his writing. However, in this interview he talked favorably of Alice Cooper. Now, I grew up in the days when this rocker was known for his satanic and disturbing concerts. Sproul claimed that Cooper had changed and was now saved. I was surprised but took him at his word. However, something inside me needed to know and I started researching. It didn’t take me long. Cooper’s own website showed that he most definitely had not made any changes in his life.

This is one of the most disturbing partnerships I have ever witnessed (even to this day, I am so disturbed by this and can hardly stomach hearing the name of Sproul). Why would Sproul speak positively of a satanic rocker who was still satanically “rocking”? I will honestly never know. But can you see how Sproul assuring us that he is a “brother in Christ” gives him validity in the eyes of Sproul’s followers?

There are a plethora of much less obvious (and, therefore, often more dangerous) bridgers who are busily at work leading their followers astray by their partnerships, recommendations, and connections.

We each need to personally decide how we handle these bridgers. I am not here to tell you to never read or listen to them (although that is generally my own personal response). I am not here to tell you what to do. I am simply warning you that it is happening. And that we must beware these bridgers.

How do we do this?

We pay attention. We pay attention to who our favorite speakers and authors are partnering with in conferences. We pay attention to who they are quoting. We pay attention and we research.

However you decide to respond to a bridger, I hope that it will lead you to trust that person just a little less. At best, they are completely ignoring God’s Word in a very important area. At worst, they are intentionally, if subtly, leading their followers astray. Either way, they are either ignorant of the scriptures they are supposed to be so well versed in or they are nefarious in their purpose. Neither option is great, is it?

Bridgers are here to stay. This has become a popular thing to do, under the guise of unity. But this is not and can never be true unity. Jesus tells us He is the way, the truth, the life. True unity only comes when we are united in the true Gospel, which is the person of Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. Any teacher that adds to, takes away, or otherwise changes the Gospel must be avoided.

So please beware the bridgers. They are everywhere now. And, in fact, I would venture to say that most platformed Christians function as bridgers. View this as a red flag and keep your eyes open.

 

Please note: Everyone makes mistakes and sometimes point people a direction they later find out was wrong. I myself have done that. Watch for patterns and long-time connections. And watch for those partnerships with those that are so obviously heretical and false. And then give a bit of grace to those who may just not know and simply watch and be aware. Because we can all be deceived at some level. The key is to be willing to admit it and then make changes.

 

And another note: A few hours after I wrote this I received a very insightful comment from a reader that I believe is very important and needs to be included in this post. Here’s what he said–

Noteworthy is that if a subcontractor messes up or is just bad, the contractor is responsible nonetheless.  Also, my favorite go-to verse on this is 2 John vs 10-11.  We are not to greet false teachers or even invite them into our home– or you, in fact, share in their evil deeds.  I would elaborate on this and explain it that if people see you greeting them and even inviting them into your home, they assume the person is okay.

I believe that what he says is absolutely true and I wish I would have thought of these things myself! We must remember that 1) We most certainly are responsible for who we lead people to (which means we should take it very seriously before promoting anyone) and 2) We shouldn’t even greet or invite someone into our home who does not share our doctrine (again, this is the Gospel and the key doctrines that make up biblical faith). Please keep in mind that the reference here is regarding those who claim to be of the faith but actually and clearly aren’t.

 

Responding to Critics and Attackers

When one starts publicly comparing the current Christian world to what the Bible teaches, all kinds of criticisms and attacks accompany it. Whether it’s on a blogging platform, in a church business meeting, on social media, or in a weeknight Bible Study, there is always someone who will be offended if you point out that someone or something is false or compromised when compared to scripture.

Why do Christians have such a hard time seeing these false teachers and the false doctrines they are promoting? I personally believe it is because they are not in the Word, studying to understand it with humility and submission to it. It is truly and LITERALLY our ONLY protection against deception. I believe that most who claim to be Christians are actually not reading and studying the Word. I also believe another reason is PRIDE. The unwillingness to admit we were wrong about something or someone is difficult for all of us.

There are a few types of attackers–

The Condescending One— these are difficult because they are so very judgy and think they know so much more than you do (which they might). They have a very high opinion of their opinions and refuse to even contemplate anything you say. There is no possibility for even a thoughtful discussion because, in their mind, there is nothing to discuss.

The Mean One— these are the ones who call you judgy while calling you names and judging you. It would almost be funny if it wasn’t so tragic. They are hypocrites at the highest level but, truly, they can’t even see it. They are blinded in their false philosophies and hatred for anyone who doesn’t agree with them. It doesn’t matter how lovingly you state the truth, they hate the truth. And they hate you for speaking it.

The Diverting One -these are generally genuine believers who claim to believe the Bible is true. They can’t respond to the biblical argument you are presenting so they change the subject and try to get you off topic.

The “Holy” One–these are the ones that claim that God showed them that you are the wrong one. They will say they heard His voice or that He led them to a special song or conversation that “proved” you are wrong. Instead of the Word, these people rely on experiences to determine their truth.

The “Attack the Messenger” One–these also tend to be genuine believers and, when they can’t answer the biblical argument, they just start attacking you personally. They call you names and make painful remarks. Sometimes they even gossip about you or slander you.

The Silent One— these are the toughest and contain the largest group of our critics. These are the ones who will never say a word but just disappear because they don’t agree. They won’t even be willing to have the discussion and they hate conflict so they just disappear.

Oftentimes, our critics are a combination of these listed above. If you speak up about the truth with regularity, I’d rather guess that you have experienced all of those mentioned. It can be very painful–especially when coming from fellow believers.

But this will be the price we pay for speaking the truth. We must prepare ourselves, praying for courage and boldness to speak up in a time when speaking the truth is vilified by the world and the church. (There’s a reason for this. This belief that speaking negatively is an unloving and unchristian thing to do didn’t just happen. It was a very intentional thing that started many years ago and has finally reached it’s peak. It’s a stunning and shocking thing to research this belief that we should only “speak the positive” historically. It’s so clearly not of God.)

So for those of you who are brave enough to stand for the truth, in spite of the darts and arrows that come your way, let’s talk a bit today about how we best handle it. No matter the type of attacker or critic, I have been learning some things we should always do if we want to handle this in a way that is honoring to God. (And–just to be clear–I don’t have this down. In fact, I am not even close. I am still working on this and praying to grow in this area of responding to my critics and attackers.)

Here are six things we should each consider when responding–

1. Give time to prayer before responding. I have to confess that I am learning this from a dear friend. She has been experiencing a bit of kickback regarding something and, instead of responding immediately, she took a few days to pray about how best to respond. I do this sometimes but in watching her respond to these attackers, I realized that I need to do this all the time. Before I ever open my mouth or put my finger on a key, I need to pray. Pray for wisdom, pray for the person who is attacking me, pray for help in loving that person instead of being angry at them.

2. Give humble and honest evaluation to what they are saying. Does their comment or thought have any merit at all? Oftentimes, at least in my case, I won’t post something until I am 100% sure regarding the compromise and there is no doubt that this person or doctrine is false. That being said, I did learn a hard lesson years ago when I posted something on social media without knowing the whole story. That was a good lesson for me. I was even more thorough after that mistake. But, even in my carefulness, it is important to take their words seriously and evaluate them rather than getting all worked up and defensive. We must remember that we can easily be rendered ineffective if we get all worked up and refuse to listen to their side of the discussion before responding in a thoughtful, loving manner.

3. Point them to the Bible. Seriously. I can’t say this enough. My opinion doesn’t matter. Your opinion doesn’t matter. Every argument needs to be defended using the Word of God. If it can’t be, then just stop arguing. I realize that this can get confusing because people twist and warp the Word to suit their own lusts and desires. Something that has been super helpful to me regarding this particular thing is 2 Thessalonians 2:15–

Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught,

whether by word or our epistle.

 

This reminds me that if the (true) church taught something for 2000 years, it didn’t just change ten or twenty or fifty years ago. If someone is trying to twist scripture to match this current (debased) culture, you can be sure they are not speaking the truth. While there have always been attacks on the Bible, our biblical understanding of doctrine has remained pretty stable within the genuine church for thousands of years. It’s only recently (last 100-200 years) that these attacks started in earnest on the Word and the traditional beliefs regarding the Word and its interpretation.

4. Respond lovingly and firmly and gently and humbly. We cannot be responsible for how people respond to us but we are most definitely responsible for how we respond to them. We must do so in a way that honors our heavenly Father.

5. Know when to walk away. We live in a culture of debate. Everyone wants to tell people their opinion. There is a lot of anger and ugliness when this happens. People no longer are willing to agree to disagree. Even in my own church, there are people who set themselves up as my enemy simply because I don’t agree with them (nothing breaks my heart more than this.) We must stand out as different in this area. We must point people to the Word and then, if they are unwilling to have a thoughtful discussion, we must walk away. Not only must we walk away but we must walk away without grudges, without bitterness, and without anger. We must walk away with love, with prayer, and with forgiveness in our hearts.

6. Recognize that it is the Holy Spirit who changes people’s hearts and minds. It’s such a relief to know that I don’t have to change any minds or hearts. I just speak the truth and then let the Holy Spirit do the rest. We can’t change a mind. And so we speak up and then we pray for that person.

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This is a tall order. We are all naturally defensive, prideful people. Only the Holy Spirit can make these things possible. Only the Holy Spirit can ensure that we do this the right way. If we rely on our own “intelligence” and methods, we will fail every time. (I am personally familiar with failure of this nature!)

Oh, my friends, don’t get discouraged. IF people are persecuting you, know that they persecuted Jesus before you. IF they are upset with you, know that we can and should expect it. IF you are 100% committed to God and His Word, taking the time to meditate and study what He has told us in His Word while humbly desiring to submit and obey everything within its pages, and this is happening to you, then these attacks are simply proof that you are on the straight and narrow road of LIFE.

Keep your heads up! You are not alone! And one of these days, the battle will be done and we will be together in heaven!

 

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be

compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Romans 8:18

 

 

What Color Is Your Sky?

If I tell you the sky is blue on a bright summer day, you will probably agree. But there may be some out there who simply disagree. In their world the sky is purple or pink or chartreuse. Years ago, we would have recognized that this is a wrong answer. But now, we are supposed to give credence to any answer. No one is wrong. In fact, the greatest sin you can commit is to tell someone they are wrong.

We can see how this belief that there is no absolute truth has eroded the culture to a point of what I believe to be no return. The world we live in and the world that is our future (if the Lord tarries) will not be the world we grew up in. That is becoming clearer every day in a myriad of ways.

But this belief is also eroding the church. We can see this when someone points out error according to scripture and the messenger is attacked rather than the error dealt with. In the minds of most Christians, which have been molded to worldly thinking, it is more wrong to point out the error than the error itself. This response happens so often to those who stand for the truth and there is so rarely support or defense from even like-minded Christians, that eventually those who speak up often lose courage and just stop. The attacks are just too painful to bear alone.

And so I want to address this problem from both sides today. From the side of the hearer, as well as from the side of the speaker of the truth. How should this actually work from a biblical standpoint? Both sides have responsibilities if the Church (all believers) is to function well. And all of us should find ourselves on both sides on occasion. (May we never be found only a hearer or only a speaker. That right there will lead to serious dysfunction within the church body.)

According to scripture the hearer has some responsibilities–

➊ We are to test all things. No matter what it is, we are to test it and determine if it is true or false (I Thessalonians 5:21).

➋ We are to avoid those who teach a doctrine contrary to what we have learned; we are to abandon anyone who would not be teaching the truth (Romans 16:17).

➌ We are to recognize that there is but one true Gospel and that, sadly, many are trying to pervert that Gospel, yielding a multitude of false gospels. We must keep our eyes open and be a bit of a skeptic when something is called “Christian” (Galatians 1:6-11).

➍ We are to compare all things to scripture, following the example laid out for us in scripture by the Bereans (Acts 17:11).

➎ We are to be humble and teachable and willing to hear what someone has to say before getting defensive (I Peter 5:5).

➏ We are to recognize that God gave some the gift of discernment –literally the ability to distinguish between the spirits– as a gift to the Church; we should be thankful for this gift and pay attention when they are brave enough to speak up (I Corinthians 12:10).

➐ We are to be kind and loving to the speaker, even when we don’t agree with them. A Christian sibling speaking something we don’t like or don’t agree with is not our enemy (I Corinthians 13:4-7).

➑ We must recognize that it is our duty to protect the truth and that sometimes we must call out and break from those who call themselves a part of us when they show themselves to be wolves in sheep’s clothing; not all who claim to be Christ’s are genuine (I John 2:19, Ephesians 5:11, 2 Corinthians 11:14).

➒ Even if we don’t feel knowledgeable or brave enough to speak up ourselves, we should offer support to those who are; we must love and protect and support our brothers and sisters in Christ who stand for what is right (I Peter 1:22).

 

According to scripture, the speaker of the truth also has some important things to consider before we ever open our mouths (or set our fingers to typing)–

➊ We must be humble and teachable and, in fact, even more so as we try to correct or call out those who are in opposition to the truth (2 Timothy 2:25).

➋ When addressing false doctrine and false teachers, we must stick to the facts of actions and words, rather than attacking the person of whom we are speaking (Titus 3:2).

➌ We must acknowledge that we don’t know everything (this goes back to being humble but it is SO important that it bears repeating). We dare not be wise in our own opinions. Arrogance is just…ugly (Romans 12:16).

➍ These things that God has opened our eyes to should break our hearts. We must have so much grace for others, constantly remembering our own sinful hearts and always remembering that “but for the grace of God, go I”! (I Corinthians 15:10).

➎ We must speak and act in love always, understanding that if we speak up without love we are like sounding brass or a clanging cymbal (I Corinthians 13:1-3).

➏ We are to love those who just can’t see. Those who are blinded and have set themselves up as our enemies. The saddest thing of all is when these come from within our local churches and sometimes even our families. The pain of this can be almost unbearable sometimes and yet we must choose to love (Matthew 5:43-44).

➐ We must forgive. We dare not grow bitter or hold a grudge against someone who has treated us unkindly or condescendingly. This will yield very bad fruit–not only in our personal lives but also within the church body (Matthew 6:14-15).

➑ We must continue to pray steadfastly. Praying that God would open the eyes of those who are blind (recognizing that He is the only one who can!); praying that He would give us wisdom when to speak and when to just keep quiet; praying that He would give us love for others that supersedes their treatment of us; praying for courage and boldness and fortitude to say what others are too fearful to say (Colossians 4:2).

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We are ALL either hearers or speakers of the truth. Ideally, we are both of these things at various times. May we both hear and speak as scripture would have us do so. The world would tell us to get angry at and ugly with those with whom we disagree. It would tell us to speak up indiscriminately and without forethought. Basically, the world would have us do both things all wrong. We can see this all around us–on social media, by the water cooler at work, on the sidelines of athletic events, and anyplace the world hangs out.

If the world is doing it one way, we will want to do it another way. And that way is found in the Bible –where we can find clear principles for both hearing and speaking that will pave the way to purify, build up, and unify the Body of Christ.

 

P.S. The sky IS blue on a bright summer day. 2+2 always equals 4. And all babies are born as a girl or as a boy. Let’s not get caught up in the lie that there are no absolutes. It is a deadly lie that has many casualties. But that’s a post for another day…

 

 

Must We Defend the Bible?

A few weeks ago, my youngest daughter, Marissa, casually mentioned that she had had to write a blog post for a school assignment. While this young woman is artistic, she tends to use a paintbrush rather than a pen to express herself (She recently opened an Etsy store, which you can find here). But I have to confess that, after reading what she wrote, I can’t help but wonder if she may end up as a writer, as well.

I believe what she wrote for her school assignment is an important message that believers need to hear. We can get so mixed up by the noise and cacophony that comes at us from all directions and sometimes we lose our perspective. This short post reminds us of some very important truths. I hope it serves as a wonderful reminder and an encouragement, too.

Here is what she wrote–

Do science and the Bible go hand in hand? Must we have science to believe in Scripture? Must we use science to give proof for the Scriptures? These are all questions that have come into discussion in recent times. There has been a scientific push in this day and age. Everything must be be “fact based.”

I contend that the answer to the questions above is an absolute no. This is an unpopular stance to take. However, let me give my reasoning before you discount my claim.

#1) God never needs man to achieve His purposes. While God can use His people and circumstances to reach a soul, He is never dependent on them. The Holy Spirit can change a heart and give faith as He wills and pleases. To say that an individual needs to know the proof of the Scriptures before they can place their faith in the Bible, is giving absolute discredit to God’s power.

#2) Humans are fallen. This intrinsically means that science is fallen. There have been numerous scientific claims that were proven false years down the road. Pharmaceutical companies give false information for the sake of money. Governments make false claims for the sake of their own agendas. News companies spin stories to receive the reaction they want. As long as sin remains on this earth, science will inherently fail. Why should we rely on misinformation from secular sources to prove the Bible given from a holy and perfect God?

#3) The element of faith. Salvation has never been about knowledge. A person coming to faith doesn’t need to know how the creation is backed up by science before they make their decision. They choose to follow Christ based on faith. They choose to follow Christ because they understand the Gospel and its message. To say that science is needed cheapens the Gospel.

#4) The danger of pride. When we say that science is needed to prove Scripture, there is a larger emphasis on man’s knowledge than on God’s Word. Suddenly, humans have the responsibility to prove the Bible based on human knowledge and findings. It’s important to recognize who God is versus who we are. We are His creation. It’s as if the potter’s clay works to prove that their creator exists. How incredibly foolish. We know the Creator exists because we see His workmanship so clearly and evidently. We believe that He exists because He has given us all that is necessary to do so.

Now listen, I’m not saying there isn’t any purpose for understanding how science and the Bible work together. There are times when scientific proof serves as a great confirmation for a doubting believer or the cynical atheist. God can use science for His purposes. However, even if science and the Bible contradict, I will choose to believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God and remember that earthly knowledge is fallen and a result of a depraved society. His ways are always higher than ours.

 

Our Only Hope

The other day I sat out on my porch in the early morning light. I was out much earlier than usual and the sun was just starting to awake. I glanced down at the pond below me and thought I saw a ginormous frog. I focused my eyes for a second and then realized that it was a rock. I laughed at myself but then realized, with somber awareness, that this is what so many are doing right now.

They are glancing or hearing something and they are taking it at face value. I would submit to you that the days for taking anything at “face value” are over. We can’t afford to just glance and assume we actually are seeing what we are seeing. It takes some serious digging to find out the truth. Digging that is critical to both our physical and our spiritual lives.

For example, the other day there was a doctor who put on social media what he is seeing in the hospitals. It was awful and, it it’s true, it was certainly something to encourage people to make a certain decision. However, upon further evaluation, we realized that he had said something that makes no sense at all and was completely inconsistent with common medical practice. Therefore it had absolutely no merit. He clearly had lied. Later, I found out that people are being paid money to lie on their social media accounts. With the dearth of integrity and the ease with which people lie, you can see how this would be a very effective way to push a narrative.

My point is this: Evaluate and examine everything. No matter which side or point of view it comes from. Don’t “pick a side” and then grow lazy. Deception is literally everywhere.

Whether it is regarding false teaching or any other happening in our world today, we must think beyond the obvious. Satan is counting on Christians not doing that. He’s counting on Christians not knowing the Word–either in regards to doctrine or prophecy. And he has a pretty good thing going at this point as most Christians are completely illiterate in both.

The Word is our only hope.

Literally–

Our. Only. Hope.

It’s what will keep us from being deluded. It’s what will show us deception. It will give us context for what is happening right now. It will encourage our hearts with God’s promises.

Remember–it will be so treacherous and perilous in the earth’s final days that–if it were possible–even the very elect would be deceived.

We must stay awake and alert with lamps full of oil as we await our Bridegroom (Matthew 25:1-13). We must not sleep like others do but watch and be sober (I Thessalonians 5:1-11).

We can’t glance at something and assume it’s true. Yes, it takes work to think beyond the narrative. It takes work to compare all we hear from preachers and authors and teachers–and even on social media–against the Word of God. But this is our task as believers.

It is our only protection.

It is our only hope in this mixed up, insane world.

(Yes. I do know that I am being redundant. I recognize that I am saying this same thing over and over again. I do so because A) perhaps there is a new reader out there, B) It really can’t be repeated enough, and C) It truly is the only hope for believers in these last days.)

 

We Are Not Picking Out a Flavor of Danish

The other day I was walking through Costco when I came upon a display of luscious looking danishes. There were three options available: Cheese, Cherry, and Almond. Almond didn’t really appeal to me but when I asked the lady arranging the display which was her favorite, lo and behold, she enthusiastically said “almond”. A few seconds later, another lady came up and said they were her favorite, too!

Well, by that point, I was curious. Would I like the almond danishes? Was it worth the $5 if I didn’t like them? Aah, well. Why not try them? It’s nice to try something new once in awhile. I grabbed a pack and took them home.

And guess what? They were delicious! If you ever have a chance to try them, I recommend them.

But, of course, I am not trying to sell danishes. So what is my point?

I believe many Christians approach their Christian lives the way I approached those danishes.

 

Christian yoga? Oh, that sounds fun!

Lectio Divina (and other mystical forms of prayer)? Why not give it a try?

The latest trendy “Christian” book? What do I have to lose?

 

I’d like to submit that you have a LOT to lose. You see, the latest, greatest Christian trends are not like danishes. They aren’t like trying a different type of food or choosing to go with Ford instead of Chevy.

The Bible tells us that Satan is specifically trying to trip us up (Ephesians 6:11; I Thessalonians 2:18) He is seeking to devour us (I Peter 5:8). He does these things by looking like an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). In other words, Satan isn’t a fool. He knows that darkness and evil things would never be accepted by believers. And so he transforms his occultic offerings to Christians in pleasantries and “almost rights”.

Dear readers, there is a reason that we are told in the Bible to “test all things” (I Thessalonians 5:21). There is a reason we are told to separate from those who stray from the doctrine written in scripture (Romans 16:17). There is a reason we are given the example to examine the scriptures daily and compare them to what we are hearing from preachers, authors, and others who claim to be “Christians” (Acts 17:10-11).

You see, God has told us in His Word that we are in a battle. We are not in a battle with humans but with the “principalities, against powers, against the rulers of [c]the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12). If we are in a battle, fighting a supernatural enemy, doesn’t it seem that we should always be on the defense?

We can never be at ease. We are soldiers in a battle. We can never view the spiritual smorgasbord we are offered in this modern day the same way we’d view a smorgasbord of food. We don’t have that luxury.

Understanding our enemy and the commands given to defeat him go a long way in helping this concept make sense to us. Unless we are willing to see this as it is taught in scripture, we will view anything that comes along as innocent and worth trying.

May I encourage you to study the Word so that you can understand that the enemy desires to render you utterly ineffective in the Kingdom of God? He does this by things like distraction, anxiety, and busyness. But he also does this extremely effectively by turning undiscerning hearts towards doctrines of demons. If he can trip us up and get us caught up in practices that are not biblical, he has won a very important battle.

Oh, may we pray for discernment in this great time of deception. May we pray for God’s protection and guidance as we navigate all of the spiritual trends and modern-day marketing of all things “Christian” (most of which are NOT). He is faithful and He will answer that prayer.

 

But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.

2 Thessalonians 3:3

 

 

 

Three Reasons to Avoid the Enneagram

The Enneagram has become a popular trend recently among many Christians–particularly Christian women. But as with anything that comes along, we Christians need to examine and test it (1 Thessalonians 5:21). If we say that we love the Lord and His Word, it is our responsibility to evaluate any new trend against that Word, no matter how wildly popular it is. Perhaps especially if it is wildly popular.

My daughter, Jess, took the time to do some evaluating of this popular trend recently over at her An Anchor for the Soul Facebook page and gave me permission to share what she wrote here on the blog. I hope this will be helpful to you as you seek to please the Lord with your life.

Here’s what Jess found out–

First, what is the Enneagram? It’s simple definition is “a system of personality typing that describes patterns in how people interpret the world and manage their emotions. The Enneagram describes nine personality types and maps each of these types on a nine-pointed diagram which helps to illustrate how the types relate to one another.” Sounds innocent, enough, right? Wrong.

Let me explain the three reasons why I believe the Enneagram is something we should avoid entirely–

1) ITS ORIGIN: The Enneagram was first created by George Gurdjieff as a symbol of the cosmos. He was an occultist who believed man isn’t aware of his true self or reality until he awakens his conscience. Gurdjieff’s pupil, Oscar Ichazo, used psychedelic drugs and shamanism and claimed he received instruction regarding the Enneagram from a higher entity called “Metatron.” He saw the Enneagram as a tool to explore how someone’s essence (which is originally “perfect and in unity with the cosmos”) becomes distorted by karma, subjectivity, and ego.

Claudio Naranjo, another occultist, then connected the symbol with nine personality types. He originally claimed that the nine types were rooted in ancient history but later admitted that they were created through the practice of automatic writing. Naranjo’s students spread the Enneagram throughout various Catholic communities in the 1970s and Don Riso and Bob Nochs furthered its audience and popularity. Richard Rohr brought it into Evangelical circles with his book “The Enneagram: a Christian Perspective” in 1989.

So the creation of the Enneagram includes mysticism, the occult, shamanism, spirit guides, drugs, occult symbols, catholicism, heretics and automatic writing. Does this sound like something a Christian should embrace?

2) ITS PURPOSE: According the Enneagram Institute, the purpose of the modern day Enneagram is very similar to that of Ichazo’s Enneagram. The goal is to help people unravel the mystery of their true identity and develop more desirable spiritual and psychological qualities. They believe people are spiritual beings who have lost contact with their true nature. Once people discover their true nature through the Enneagram, they can experience a spiritual awakening that brings freedom and joy.

This purpose flies in the face of the Gospel. No, we aren’t spiritual beings who have lost contact with our true nature. We are children of the world and slaves to sin apart from the redeeming work of Christ. No, we don’t need to unravel the mystery of our identity, unless we’re unraveling the fact that we’re hopeless sinners. No, we don’t need to discover our true nature to find a spiritual awakening. We need only to repent and believe in the truth of the Gospel to find freedom and joy. The Enneagram will not help us develop desirable qualities. Only the Bible and the Holy Spirit at work in us can do that.

3) ITS USE IN CHRISTIANITY: Many people say that the Enneagram has merit beyond it’s occult philosophy and purpose. Christians have praised the Enneagram as a tool to help us better understand ourselves and to better understand and offer compassion to others. But can we really use the Enneagram without dabbling in its new age creation and purpose? And if we could, does its purpose in Christian circles have any merit? The answer is a resounding no.

First, identifying your Enneagram number and exploring the meaning behind it is like identifying yourself by your Zodiac sign. It is no different. Everything about it is rooted in the occult. We will never grow in true knowledge of God or ourselves with a tool that God would call an abomination (Deuteronomy 7 and 18, Galatians 5, Jeremiah 17).

And secondly, even if we could separate it from its occult origin, it offers nothing helpful in our walk with Christ. I found it interesting that many so-called christian proponents of the Enneagram use a quote from Calvin as support for their argument. But the quote they use (“Without knowledge of self, there is no knowledge of God”) is simply a heading taken from one of his books. His conclusion under that heading says “Thus, our feeling of ignorance, vanity, want, weakness, in short, depravity and corruption, reminds us that in the Lord, and none but He, dwell the true light of wisdom, solid virtue, exuberant goodness. We are accordingly urged by our own evil things to consider the good things of God; and, indeed, we cannot aspire to Him in earnest until we have begun to be displeased with ourselves.” I have a feeling they left that part out on purpose.

The Enneagram is focused completely on self. It’s a tool of self-discovery in its most basic form. But we don’t need a tool for self-discovery that inflates our ego and makes us feel better about ourselves. We only need the Bible that instead leads us on the only true path of self-discovery, a path that shows us our sinfulness and our need for a Savior. We are already naturally obsessed with ourselves. The last thing we need is another teaching or tool that focuses on US. The Bible never says to learn about ourselves. It simply says to deny ourselves and grow in our knowledge of HIM.

You don’t the Enneagram, my friends.
You just need your Bible.

 

 

Preparing the Lemmings

Since the beginning of time, man has assumed that the world came into being through a Creator. This is across all cultures and lands, where you will find variations on biblical accounts (such as creation, the fall of man, and Noah and the flood).

While man has always had a rebellious heart and worked hard to remove the accountability of man to that Creator (through religions such as Deism), it wasn’t until the late 1700s that someone came up with the idea to just remove a Creator altogether. From that point on, various men put forth this idea, but it wasn’t until the late 1800s that the theory of evolution caught on through a man named Charles Darwin.

Now we find ourselves in a place where if we don’t believe in this ridiculous theory, we are viewed as unintellectual and even stupid.

Never mind that it goes against all natural laws and is absolutely impossible. Never mind that it takes more faith to believe that than to believe in a Creator. Never mind all those things. Just believe what we tell you. Or we will shame you and and ruin your reputation.

Sound familiar?

Fast forward over a hundred and fifty years. This has happened over and over again with so many different things, hasn’t it? Both within the church and without. They have convinced us that therapy and medication is our only hope for inner peace. That the new age practices of yoga and mindfulness will help us. We are told that it is normal for women to work outside the home and to lead in our churches. “They” have been prying our fingers from the Word of God and its literal interpretation for many years now.

Scientists, psychologists, specialists, professors, doctors, authors, preachers, and celebrities all wield a particular kind of power that is actually kind of strange and more than a little scary. We have been fully prepared to listen to any specialist or scientist rather than God. To believe what they tell us over what God’s Word tells us. And when they are all saying the same thing, it can become overwhelming in its wrongness.

And now many of these “professionals” are telling us that certain things work and certain things don’t. To follow certain paths and avoid others. Even though it is clear from the statistics and data that they are LYING.

And so here’s a reminder:

Truth is not determined by how many people believe it.

Read that again.

A million “professionals” can declare, publish, and affirm a lie while a handful hold to the verified truth. Who is right and who is wrong in this scenario?

More than a few years ago now, I read the story of John G Paton and his missionary adventures in the New Hebrides Islands (what is now known as Vanuatu). In it, he told the story of how he sat in his house with his family one night with native warriors all around. For some reason, they never attacked them. He was puzzled until, some years later, one of those warriors explained. When they came to kill the family, they had seen large men in white standing guard. Angels had protected that family.

Fast forward to a few months ago. I had remembered this story (it’s a memorable and comforting story!) but just couldn’t remember where I had read it. So I decided to do an internet search to see if I could find it. One of the articles that came up was a Snopes article “fact-checking” this event from the 1800s and declaring it false.

Dear readers, fact-checkers are not always right. And, I dare say, are often wrong. These are being used as a tool to sway and move the lemmings in a certain direction. There is a method to the madness of all that is going on right now.

And, once again, may I remind you that this is from both sides. Beware of both sides. Don’t align with either. Both are evil. The great reset side and the great awakening side are full of deception and lies.

The world is calling its lemmings to pick a side. Do you know what a lemming is? It’s a small rodent that has a long-standing myth that surrounds it: They will jump off a cliff en masse and commit suicide. How about that??

But we aren’t lemmings. We are people. And we have a Good Shepherd (John 10). Instead of looking to the “professionals” for our beliefs, we look to what the Word says. Instead of basing our lives (and the many decisions we are called to make) on internet posts and books and podcasts, we base them on the Bible. Instead of picking a side, we firmly plant our feet on God’s side.

We are the people of God and we are but pilgrims passing through. The waves of darkness and apostasy that are overtaking the world should not ruffle us as much as they do. (But, if we are honest, many of us are quite ruffled. We are nervous and upset and worried when we stop long enough to think about the future. Particularly, if we aren’t getting strength every day from the Word.)

So there are a few things we can do to keep ourselves from joining the lemmings. To set ourselves apart from the crowd. But we need to ask ourselves: Am I willing to do this? It’s not an easy route to take, to be sure. It’s a difficult and rocky path. But it is worth it and it is what we are called to do.

1. Read and study your Bible. I know I say this so often, but the reading and study of the Word by a humble and obedient soul cannot be over-emphasized. You see, as you read, many of the lies we have been fed about this world fall away as we recognize the Truth and the consistency of that Truth throughout the entire Book. It’s an amazing and incredible Book.

I heard a statistic the other day: 97% of people who call themselves a Christian have never read the entire Bible through. Are you one of those people? If you are, may I encourage you to make a change today? (Personally, I waited far, far too long to make this change and it is one of my biggest regrets in life.) We are powerless and vulnerable without God’s Word. It is what He has given us to live a victorious Christian life.

2. Value and search for the truth, no matter the cost. Ask God to show you the truth about what is going on in this world, no matter the consequences. One of the reasons so many people shy away from the truth is because it costs too much. It hurts too much. It’s often so much more pleasant to believe a lie. But we can’t expect to know the truth if we aren’t willing to pay the cost.

Humanity has always loved lies. From the Garden of Eden to this present day, we are so much more prone to listen to a pleasant lie than an unpleasant truth. And God even tells us in His Word about this, where He explains that the ungodly exchange the Truth of God for the lie (Romans 1:25).

But, as believers, this should not be so! We should be earnestly searching for the truth in all situations. We should be facing the world with open eyes and ears, willing to hear even the hardest of truths. Christians can face these hard truths because they have a secure future in Christ. No matter what happens in this world, we are safe from eternal harm.

3. Stop caring about popularity. Oh, how powerful peer pressure is. You can see the lemmings lining up to do as they are told because they want people to like them. They don’t want to stand out as different. They don’t want to make a scene. They don’t want others to think they are uncaring or mean-spirited. They want to be accepted and loved. As we are told that there are certain actions we must take in order to receive acceptance, love, and to look like we are a “nice person”, many cave to the pressure. But it’s important that we fully evaluate any decision before we bow to that pressure. Is this what is best or is this simply what is going to keep us from standing out as odd?

4. Expect to be ridiculed. As you make choices that go in direct contrast with the world, expect to be hated. The world has never liked the guy swimming upstream in a downstream world. They have never liked the guy who chooses the narrow, difficult path, instead of joining the throng on the easy, wide road. As you make choices that go against the crowd, these things will come.

Sometimes they come from a very sad and disheartening direction and family relationships are strained and friends are lost. Sometimes even Christian ones. These may be the price to pay if we search out the truth and follow it whole-heartedly.

 

_________________________________________________

As we strive to live in this crazy insane world, may we choose to remember our identity: We are the people of God. We are not the lemmings of the world that can be swayed and moved any which way. As we see the lemmings prepared for the antichrist system, may we believers keep ourselves separate and apart, just as we are told to do in God’s Word (Romans 12:2).

 

 

What the Bible Says About Fixing the World

Is it the job of the Christian to make the world a better place? Is it our job to fix it? You may be surprised to know that this is a mainstream philosophy of many churches and Christians today. They believe we are here to improve the world. Many believe that Jesus won’t return until we do this. That somehow we have to prepare the world for His return.

Now you may be able to get that from a few verses that are twisted and pulled way out of context, but this is not the actual message of scripture.

If you look at both the Gospels and the Epistles, we see an acceptance of the world the way it is and instructions for living in it (I Corinthians 12:13 and Ephesians 5&6). More importantly, we see that the Christian is not to focus on this world but on eternal things (Colossians 3). And, most importantly, we read throughout the entire New Testament that the only way for true and lasting change in both the individual and in the culture is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We are also told in scripture that the world will get worse and worse (2 Timothy 3:1-9; Jude). We should not expect to live in a fixed earth for there will be no such thing until Jesus returns.

This past week in Sunday School, our teacher pointed out a verse in Daniel 9 that I never noticed before–

O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies.

As I read and then re-read that verse, it hit me! The main problem with the social justice/fix the world movement is PRIDE. Man actually thinks he has the power to fix the world. Think about that for a moment.

Now–keep in mind that I am not saying we aren’t to do good things. Scripture makes it abundantly clear that we are. And I am not implying that cultures won’t be better sometimes because of Christians. I think those of us in America did have that experience (particularly if we are older).

But we have to recognize that without Christ, we can do nothing (John 15:5). That any good that we accomplish is through God alone. And God does graciously choose to use us in this world to accomplish His purposes. He has clearly set out good works for us to do (Ephesians 2:8-10) and we are to faithfully going about His business.

But to think we can fix the world is rather presumptuous, don’t you think?

Read that verse again. Do you see what Daniel said? He is asking for God to hear Him –not because of their righteous deeds but because of His great mercies.

Not because of their righteous deeds. It seems like this group of “Christians” are very much counting on their righteous deeds to ready the world for Christ. Ironically, this movement has little to do with the genuine Gospel in their efforts to attain utopia here on earth.

And don’t miss two facts about that this movement to bring in a better world–

First, this is the same old, same old that Satan has been trying to accomplish since the beginning of time. Man can be like God and bring in a utopian society. Sure, there are a few more Christian terms covering up the true agenda, but if you dig a little, you will see little reliance on God in this movement and much reliance on self.

Second, please note how this movement will play right into the system of the antichrist. These people who are crying out for a perfect world will be ripe to fall into the worship of the antichrist, as he promises to join them in fixing the world. This is not just a “movement” but a very intentional direction that Satan is taking the church.

Now, I want to be clear about one thing before I close today: I am sure there are many Christians who have been deceived in this area of making the world a better place. Just as we are all deceived about one thing or another.

We must pray diligently that the Lord will keep us from deception, for it is everywhere now. EVERYWHERE. We must persevere in finding out the truth in all areas of life or we will leave ourselves open to great deception. Trust NO MAN OR WOMAN more than you trust the Word of God.

If God said it and the true Church has believed it for over 2000 years then it is true–no matter what new-fangled way someone has of interpreting a verse or passage.

This is why church history is so important. It gives context and a firm foundation of the true Christian Faith (this is the true Christian faith–and does not include the Catholic church, which is not a true Christian church and never has been.) Sorry, I got a little off of topic there, but I do believe that church history is critically important. Actually, history is critically important. We see many things happening today because people do not know history. Or they believe a faulty history. And so it repeats itself. Over and over again. But I digress.

Dear readers, we are not here to fix the world. Anyone who reads and studies their Bible must come to that conclusion, for there is no other conclusion to be drawn. We are here to share the Gospel and to make the Lord known in a rebellious and dark world. Most will turn away from the Gospel. but God, in His Providence, will lead us to some who are seeking after Him and longing to be part of His family. And so we continue to share the Gospel and to contend for the faith in the midst of the great apostasy that is taking place today.

 

 

A Warning: Phil Vischer

A week or so ago, my daughter, Jess (who wrote about The Chosen here on the blog, as well as false teachers, Steven Furtick and Bill Johnson), wrote something regarding Phil Vischer on her Facebook page. I believe this is information that would be helpful to you, my readers, and so, with her permission, I am sharing it here on the blog. 

After doing quite a bit of research, she felt it necessary to warn fellow believers of this man’s departure from orthodox Christian faith. Phil is probably best known to Christians as the creator of Veggie Tales. Recently, he has been quite vocal on social media and what he is saying is not good. 

I’d like to say right up front that I have never been a fan of Veggie Tales. I believe that they dumb down Bible stories and profane the sacred. They also train kids to relish the silly and ridiculous. There is nothing wrong with having fun but stupid is just..stupid. I recognize that not everyone will agree with me on this but I do think–no matter what your opinion about Veggie Tales– that it is important that we all take heed to what its creator believes. 

Here is what Jess wrote–

Today I’m beginning a new feature entitled Warning Wednesday. The purpose of this is to warn you of the red flags associated with a popular christian figure. My goal is to make you aware of the ways these men and women are straying from the truth of Scripture. Sometimes, it will be so that you can approach the person with caution and with your eyes of discernment wide open. Sometimes (like today) I will suggest you steer clear of them altogether. I am not going to attack the person, assume their motivation, or judge their position before God. I only want to tell you what they are saying or doing and compare it to the truth of Scripture.

Up first is Phil Vischer. You probably know him as the guy that created Veggie Tales. He most recently began a podcast called The Holy Post. And in that podcast, he has made some very concerning statements. His twitter feed also gives us a glimpse into just how far from Scripture he is moving.

Red Flag #1: Phil recently tweeted “I’ve been listening to stories of people who have left the Church or left their faith entirely, and so often it comes down to a point where they just wanted to be loved, but we couldn’t love them because…they asked the wrong question or doubted the wrong tenet of our faith or reconsidered their own gender or sexual identity and for us, it was a bridge too far. This child of God…was no longer us. They were now ‘them.’ And because they were ‘them,’ we now denied they were ever truly us.” He ends with “For fear that others of ‘us’ could become ‘them’ if we don’t take a stand against the ‘them-ness’ of the one that was once ‘us’…not saying doctrine doesn’t matter. Just saying love over all.”

This sounds great on the surface, right? We should love others! But dig a little deeper and you soon see that he’s taking any church to task who disciplines those openly defying God’s Word by “doubting the wrong tenet of our faith” or “reconsidering their own gender or sexual identity.” He is redefining love according to the standard of the world rather than the Word of God. It is not loving to allow someone to remain in their sin. It is loving to rebuke and urge them to repent. Titus 1:3 and Galatians 6:1 are good examples of this. 1 John 2:19 says “They went out from us, because they were not of us.” Sorry, Phil, but the concept of “us” and “them” is a Biblical one.

Red Flag #2: He calls those who believe in a literal 7 day creation “anti-intellectual” and responsible for the rejection of mainstream science. If you don’t know why it’s absolutely vital that we believe in a 7 day creation, check out Answers in Genesis.

Red Flag #3: He is an outspoken supporter of critical race theory, Black Lives Matter, and social justice within the church. I don’t have the time in this post to go into the danger behind these things. But let me just tell you this. He calls all white people to task for their unconscious bias and affirms that all structures within the United States are unjust. His solution sounds a whole lot like socialism. Really? Maybe the problem is sin (a problem that affects each person, regardless of race) and the only solution is the Gospel? He never thought about offering that as the solution? Especially considering Jesus lived during a time of incredible injustice and his only message for the world was the Gospel.

Red Flag #4: He bashes anyone who limits women’s roles within the church. He laughs at conservatives. He claims fundamentalists are the problem in the evangelical christian world. He suggests we need to dismantle the corruption of the church and deconstruct certain aspects of our faith such as white privilege and patriarchy. All that matters is love and unity.

And so I recommend you stay far, far away from Phil Vischer. What he says often sounds good but if it’s contrary to God’s Word, it’s wrong no matter how good it sounds. Be very careful with what he offers for children (Veggie Tales and his What’s in the Bible? series) as I’d imagine these beliefs will sneak their way into those as well. It brings me no joy in sharing this with you, but I do hope it saves you or someone you know from following Phil down a very dangerous path.

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