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).

 

 

Standing Firm

In reading Ephesians 6 this morning, verses 11-13 once again hit me—

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”

We can draw a few important conclusions from these verses.

First, we have no armor without God. Our defensive and offensive armor comes from Him alone. When we try to stand alone using our own devices and intellect we fail miserably.

Second, the devil is scheming against Christians. Think of that for a moment. He wants to hinder you. He wants to distract you. He wants you so wrapped up and consumed with your own problems that you are of no consequence in God’s Kingdom. He wants to render you ineffective as a believer so that you are not sharing the Gospel or helping other believers grow.

Third, the devil rules the current world. God has sovereignly given him this control. He does this through— “rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

This reminds us that our enemies are not people. We are not fighting against wicked people but against wicked powers. People are the lost and deceived tools that Satan uses.

Fourth, This world is incredibly evil and wicked. Only Jesus can make a beautiful and good world. And He has promised to do just that for His own some day in the future. We, in our sinful and broken humanness, are absolutely helpless. Clearly, our job isn’t to fix the world but to stand firm.

Fifth, the fact that Paul tells us to put on “armor” and then goes on to identify our enemy shows very clearly that we are in a battle. So many Christians want to ignore this battle and pretend it doesn’t exist. I’d venture to say that this is why so many are losing their kids to the world. Christianity it is not all positive vibes and happy days. It’s taking up our cross, enduring persecution, and fighting battles.

Sixth and finally, we can only stand firm if we have on the armor of God. God has given us specific pieces of armor to help us in what we are called to as Christians. We must put on all pieces if we are to stand strong and firm. I believe it has always been important to wear this spiritual armor but, as these last days grow darker and the world becomes more evil (as we should expect because this was prophesied in Matthew 24) it becomes imperative that we Christians don the full armor of God—both for our own protection and in order to have the strength necessary to do the works God has set out for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

I wasn’t planning to write anything today but as I started to reflect on these verses, I thought this might remind encourage some of you as it has me. Have a great weekend!

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.

 

 

The Car Radio

We were driving in the pickup truck and couldn’t get the phone to connect to play music.

Finally, after trying a myriad of things, my husband suggested using the voice command that is available in these “newfangled” vehicles.

He spoke some words into the speaker and, completely misinterpreting, the voice brought up two albums for our listening pleasure. I just pressed one for the purpose of making it connect.

While this did connect the car to the phone, it also presented a major problem: The phone would only play from the album that we told it to play. 🤦‍♀️

I’d put a different song or playlist on and it would immediately go back to the other album. It was so very annoying.

Finally, I just deleted the album. Honestly, I never really liked it anyway. Good riddance.

This reminds of those sins that we are so quick to default to. Anger, self-indulgence, anxiety, envy, selfishness. You know—the ones that we just keep confessing over and over and over again.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a “delete button” for those sins that seem to constantly beset us?

But we don’t. So we just keep trying to walk in the Spirit in the midst of so easily defaulting to the flesh.

Isn’t it encouraging to know there is coming a day when this battle with sin will be over? For the Christian, this battle will end in glorious victory. One of these days…!

——-

So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

~I Corinthians 15:54-57

PLEASE NOTE— a few days ago I went into my email spam folder to look for an email that I was expecting. As I scrolled down the list I found emails from some of you! I am SO sorry! I had no idea Gmail was sending emails from personal addresses to the spam folder.

If you sent me an email with a question or request and you didn’t get a response, please resend. I will be sure to check the spam folder every couple of weeks now so this doesn’t happen again.

A Warning (and a bit of encouragement, too!)

Last year I wrote often about what was happening all around us. I shared much of my journey with you as I tried to process all the changes we were all experiencing in the light of my faith (or lack thereof). As we settled down into the unsettled and uncertain “new” normal, I chose to go back to my normal style of writing, at least for the most part. But today, I want to talk just a bit about all that’s happening around us and simply offer a warning and also some encouragement.

This summer has given us a bit of our old lives back, albeit with shortages and rising prices, the brandishing of sin as never seen before, and the terrifying threats of governments to citizens who won’t do their bidding. And, of course, here in the U.S. there is the very strange phenomenon of the government handing its citizens gobs and gobs of money that it doesn’t have. You have to admit that this is just…weird.

While all this stuff is going on, it’s been nice to experience a bit of normal. The masks are off, the store shelves are mostly full, people are vacationing, and life feels okay for now. But I think we all know it’s temporary. As much as we’d like to believe differently.

The other day I was in a store and overheard a conversation between two women. They looked to be in their sixties and the one mentioned how she had gotten the v-xine and wasn’t sure if she should have and the other women said something in response that I couldn’t hear and then, as they walked away, I heard one of them say that she just feels like something else is coming, although she doesn’t know what. My husband has shared with me that customers and business associates often mention this same thing to him, as well. I think we all know that this unsettled normal we find ourselves in this summer is only temporary. It’s like a bubble that is floating along that has to pop eventually.

I know some of you just don’t want to hear this. It’s overwhelming or too negative for you. And I get it. Sometimes I feel that way, too. You will not offend me if you just don’t want to read this. Go to something else and forget about this particular post.

But for those of you who see it coming and are trying to process, please keep reading.

Jesus gives His followers a warning in Mark 13:5–

And Jesus, answering them, began to say: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many.

He continues on in verses 21-23 on this topic of deception–

“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, He is there!’ do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the g]”>[g]”>gg]”>]elect. 23 But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand. 

2 Thessalonians 2:3 also warns us not to be deceived–

Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of b]”>[b]”>bb]”>]sin is revealed, the son of perdition

 

I believe deception is one of our greatest dangers as we navigate this strange new world. I have been so disappointed to watch well-known Christian after well-known Christian cast their lot in with one side or the other. There is the “great reset” side– the social justice/socialism/left side and there is the “great awakening” side–the freedom/we have rights/”a great revival is coming”/right side.

Please understand: Both sides are dangerous. Both sides represent evil. And Satan is using them both, pitted against each other, to prepare the world for what Revelation says is to come.

You may be thinking: How can you say that??

So let me tell you how.

I have spent many years researching things I never write about here on the blog. Very little is as it seems in this world. If you value truth, it doesn’t take long to figure this out. Many are uncomfortable with what they find out and turn away. Some even mock and ridicule those who talk about these things. (This always makes me laugh a bit because it is so well-documented. I always say that I don’t care at all if you don’t agree with me, but do the research first and then tell me you don’t agree.)

But my point is this: As I have come to recognize that nothing is as it seems, I have also come to understand how Satan uses the Hegelian Dialectic to move the world in the direction he would have it go. The left side and the right side are two wings of the same bird.

It is critical to understand this if you are going to keep yourself from being deceived. And we know from the verses above that deception, which has always been a danger for believers, will ramp up considerably towards the end of this age. I believe we are watching this “ramping up” take place right before our very eyes.

As believers, may we heed Christ’s warnings and keep our eyes on Him. I caution you to keep from aligning with either side. You will find that the one side may talk more about “Jesus” but, if you listen carefully, you will find that the majority are not talking about the Jesus of the Bible.

Discernment is more critical than ever at this time. We cannot let our guards down for a second. I know so many don’t want to live like this. It’s not in them to be a skeptic. They just want to glide along in life. Well, let me tell you a secret–I’d like that, too! But scripture makes it clear in so many places that “gliding along” is never an option for a believer. And when we choose to do so, we end up going the wrong direction. It’s inevitable.

I want to encourage you to really think about what’s happening in light of where we know the world is eventually headed. If you have been around here awhile, you already know that I am most certainly not a date-setter. So the Revelation scenario could be a few years from now or it could be fifty. That’s not my point. My point is that we can see things setting up for what the Bible has told us is coming and deception is occurring at unprecedented levels.

Have you ever watched a small animal that stops with ears pricked as they listen for a predator? They have a God-given sense of danger that they heed. As they stop and intently listen for their predator, they are an example for us. So, we, too, should be aware of our predator (I Peter 5:8).

Blindly lolly-gagging in a meadow is no place for us to be at the moment. We are surrounded by wolves on every side. Many of them are dressed in “sheep’s clothing”. We must be vigilant. But, most importantly, we must stay close to the Shepherd. For He is truly our only hope for protection and comfort and rest.

As I consider this world full of spiritual land-mines that we currently are traveling through, I have to wonder if we genuine Bible-believing Christians are going to end up the very hated minority crushed between the two movements. It will be interesting to watch this all play out.

With this in mind, I did also want to offer some encouragement. As I was reading in Ephesians last week, there was a short passage that profoundly struck me. Let me share it now–

Ephesians 2:4-7–

 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

 

Many days it feels like we’ve landed in an alternate universe. But this universe is so temporary. Paul reminds us in the above passage that we have AGES to come where we are going to experience the EXCEEDING RICHES of God’s grace. Oh, to keep an eternal perspective as we move forward into the unknown on this broken and sinful earth.

So keep your eyes and ears alert to danger. It’s all around now. But don’t let it get you down. This is but a temporary home and we are headed to a wonderful place where there is no sin or Satan or evil plots. And we will be in that home forever!

 

 

What’s Wrong with Social Justice?

I wanted to share this short article with my readers. Written by my daughter, Jess, on her Anchor for the Soul Facebook page, it is a concise and easily understood essay on Social Justice and the inherent incompatibility of this system with biblical Christianity. I hope it is helpful! —

What is social justice? It’s a term that is thrown around a lot but rarely defined. Isn’t justice a good thing? Isn’t it a Biblical concept?

Justice is.

Social Justice is not.

Justice, according to the dictionary, is “the impartial administration and maintenance of what is just.” It involves righteousness, impartiality, and morality. The dictionary describes social justice as “justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.” It’s a term that originated with Karl Marx. Justice is objective and pursues what is right according to the absolute standard of Truth as revealed in Scripture. Social justice is subjective and pursues what is right in the eyes of the society.

There are many professed Christians claiming that social justice is what the church is called to pursue and many even argue that it’s what Jesus preached during His ministry on earth. Let me explain to you why they’re very wrong and why the true church should have absolutely nothing to do with social justice.

IT’S IMPOSSIBLE
Inequality in this world, whether real or perceived, is a byproduct of sin. It will always exist as long as we live in a fallen world- a world that is largely populated by people who are the children of the devil and at enmity with God. (John 8:44, 1 John 3:10, James 4:4) We will never solve the problem of racism, inequality, disadvantage, or exploitation within our society because we will never solve the problem of sin in the hearts of mankind. Only God can do that through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And because we can’t expect the entire world (or even most of it) to be saved, we cannot expect the world to change for the better. (Matthew 7:14, Romans 9:27, Matthew 22:14) There will never be an absence of inequality and injustice because there will never be an absence of sin.

IT’S FOCUS IS ON THIS LIFE INSTEAD OF ETERNAL LIFE
Social justice deals with the affairs of this life. It seeks a resolution for people’s earthly needs – food, money, opportunity, equality. I’m not saying the church should turn a blind eye to the legitimate needs of the less fortunate. We should each seek opportunities to be generous with our money and time and meet the needs of those around us. But what good does it do to make their life here on earth more comfortable on their way to hell? What good is physical bread if we don’t give them the bread of life? (John 6:26-40) The Gospel MUST be central in anything that we do to help people. And any attempt at justice from the world’s systems will never include that.

IT CREATES VICTIMS INSTEAD OF SINNERS
Social justice says you’re a victim. “I am the way that I am because of what happened to me.” You do not have to take responsibility for your actions. You didn’t have a choice. It’s the fault of your parents, your church, the institutions, the societal constructs, your lack of privilege or opportunity. But the Bible says we are all sinners. Bad things happen to us because we live in a fallen world. Our sinful choices are a result of our sinful hearts, not the things in our past. We are at fault. And when you remove the foundation of sinful and fallen man then you remove the need for the gospel.

JESUS DID NOT BRING JUSTICE TO AN UNJUST WORLD
Jesus lived in a time when injustice was prevalent. There were privileged slave owners, men, rich people, and rulers. There were disadvantaged slaves, women, poor people, and outcasts. If you can find one instance where Jesus spoke out against the injustice of His time, I will listen. He said, “the poor you will always have with you.” (Matthew 26:11) His message was the gospel and the gospel alone. He brought the gospel to the disadvantaged and He gave them hope for eternity, not a fix for their earthly problems. The writers of the New Testament gave instructions on godly living as a slave and a slave owner, a woman and a man, a poor person and a rich person. There were no instructions on how to rid the world of those unjust social constructs.

IT PERVERTS TRUE JUSTICE
There may be a few legitimate causes lumped under the umbrella of social justice but there are many that actually contradict the Word of God. Others are notably absent such as justice for the unborn, the Jewish community, women in the Muslim faith, the outcasts in Hindu countries, the oppressed in China, the factory workers paid cents an hour all over Asia. The poorest and most disadvantaged person in America may be one of the wealthiest in another country. Since social justice claims that someone is owed what another has for the sake of equality and morality, does that also apply to those outside the walls of our country? Social justice picks and chooses what is “just” and ends up with something far from it.

IT UNDERMINES THE CROSS
Not only does social justice take away the foundation of sinful man, it removes the requirement for holiness. Christians are applauded when they feed the poor, help the oppressed, aid the homeless, or provide opportunities for the disadvantaged. That’s what commendable Christianity looks like these days. All love. Is loving others part of the Christian life? Absolutely. Do we help those God places in our path? Absolutely, as I’ve said before. But that’s not all. We pick up our cross and die to ourselves. We’re required to battle the sin in our own hearts- the love of the world, the desires of the flesh and eyes, and the pride of life. (1 John 2:16) This aspect of the Christian life is non-existent among most of the “social justice” touting Christians.

IN CONCLUSION
All of mankind was created equal in value. God does not show favoritism but welcomes all who fear Him and seek HIS righteousness. (Acts 10:34) There is no division in the Kingdom of God (Galatians 3:28) and as His children, we should treat all we meet with love and without favoritism. We should seek justice and love mercy. But true justice – not social justice. It goes so much deeper than this and there’s so much more I could talk about. It’s my hope that this gives you a succinct picture of why social justice is so dangerous within the church and how it threatens to crumble the very foundation of the Gospel.

 

 

A Few Thoughts from Ephesians

This post is a bit different than my usual style. It’s simply a bit of commentary on my read-through of Ephesians this morning.

We are in the book of Ephesians this month in the Growing4Life Bible Reading Challenge and I don’t want to miss an opportunity to invite you to join us. Anytime is a great time to join this challenge. Click here for more information.

I want to encourage you to be in the Word and to see just how incredibly powerful and applicable it is to our lives. So many who call themselves Christians never read or study the Bible. It is my hope to change that one person at a time.

With that in mind, I wanted to share something here that I wrote on the Bible Challenge Facebook group page this morning—

This morning I took some time to read through the entire book of Ephesians. It is a truly awesome book, full of wonderful encouragement regarding our position in Christ, as well as thorough instruction on how to live the Christian life. There are a few things that really struck me—

First, I couldn’t help but notice how similar much of this is to what Paul wrote to the saints at Colossae. Paul was extremely consistent in both doctrine and application.

Second, I was reminded of how little I truly understand God, His power, and all that He has done for me. How little I understand His sovereignty and His might. A true understanding of these things would dissipate so many of the fears and frustrations we have.

Third—and wow!—He plans to pour out the exceeding riches of His grace on His own in the ages to come (2:7). Makes you wonder just how awesome our future is!

Fourth, anyone who reads the book of Ephesians cannot possibly come away with the idea that salvation can be without fruit or without change. A truly saved person is a new person. The book of Ephesians couldn’t be more clear about this.

Fifth, we are given clear instruction how to make a marriage and a family work. I don’t think it is any coincidence that marriages and families are failing at record rates when you compare modern families to the instructions given in Ephesians 5 and 6.

And, sixth and finally, our enemies are not people. They are spiritual and they are demonic. The people we view as our enemies are working as Satan’s emissaries and desperately need the Lord. They are so deceived and utterly lost.

——

So so much in Ephesians. Would love to spend the entire year here! Have a great day!

(A Lot of) Lessons I Learned This Past Month (Part 2)

Earlier this week, I wrote PART 1 of this series. The purpose of this is to share how my month-long focus on missionary stories over on the Growing4Life Facebook page changed me. There were lots of lessons to be learned from these courageous men and women and I wanted to not only share what I’ve learned but to encourage you to do your own study of these men and women, as well.

I plan to put a PDF together with a list of the missionaries and the corresponding links and other resources I used during Missionary Month. If you’d like a copy just reply to this email (or if you are seeing this on social media, simply message me your email address.)

The first part of this series focused on some pretty foundational Christian principles. Things most of us already know but perhaps needed to be reminded of. This second part is going to be a little different as these things are applicable for all of us right now–calling for change in specific areas of our lives. At least this is the case for me. You can be your own judge… haha

So here we go. Prepare to have your toes stepped on (maybe)–

7. They had an eternal perspective. These missionaries were, without exception, focused on eternity. They cared little for their own lives as they boldly traversed jungles to reach hostile, savage tribes or subjected themselves and their families to filthy conditions and diseases that had been eradicated years before in their home countries. I thought I was doing a “pretty good job” overall at keeping an eternal perspective, but these missionaries challenged me. Their eternal perspective wasn’t only about keeping fear at bay or feeling peace and joy in their hearts. It was not self-centered. Their eternal perspective was God-centered (This is probably worth a whole post.) They wanted to bring Him glory and tell others about His plan of salvation, no matter the cost. They denied self, they sacrificed, they endured unthinkable conditions. All because they remembered what really matters. Oh, how important that our eternal perspective is God-centered and not self-centered.

8. Prayer matters– a lot! So many of these missionaries spoke about prayer in a living way that is unfamiliar to most of us. This was a vital part of their ministry and they challenged me to think more deeply about this issue of prayer. You see, I think we all say that we know prayer is important but few of us actually live like we believe this. But these missionaries knew prayer was important. And that they needed the prayer support of those across the seas as they endeavored to take the Gospel to foreign people groups who were soundly in the hands of Satan through demon worship and other pagan practices. Oh, to take prayer more seriously!

9. Music matters. Several of these missionaries mentioned the importance of Bible memory and hymns as they faced solitary confinement or other situations where they had no access to scripture. I don’t know what kind of music most of you listen to, but may I encourage you to pay attention to the lyrics? Would those lyrics strengthen and encourage you during a time of need and desperation? The music we listen to matters. A lot. It will either encourage us in our walk with God or it will move us away from Him and from sound doctrine. (Keep in mind that just because a song mentions God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit does NOT mean it is of sound doctrine. In fact, much of Christian contemporary and worship music is NOT doctrinally sound. Pay attention and be aware.) Protect and prepare yourself by listening to music that is God-honoring and faith-strengtheningOh, to listen to great songs of the faith that will be a balm to our souls during troubled times. 

10. Redeem the time. Oh, how much time we waste. I really had to reflect on this. Particularly when I considered the many Bible verses that came to the minds of these great Christians just when they needed them. How well do I know my Bible? How much have I memorized? God can’t use His Word in our lives if we don’t know it. And we can’t know it, unless we intentionally give our efforts to know it. Oh, how important to make Bible Study a priority!

I was also reminded that it is incredibly important to consider what kind of things we are putting into our minds. Not only music as mentioned earlier, but all entertainment. What do we want to remember if we are ever without TV, books, and music? What do we want filling our minds and hearts when we face difficult situations and unthinkable circumstances? Whatever our answer, THIS is what we should be listening to, memorizing, watching. THIS is what we should we spend the majority of our time on. Oh, to be more intentional with how I spend my time.

11. Stop Complaining. Oh, how condemned I felt after reading and listening to these testimonies. They are without necessities, facing the deaths of spouses and children, dealing with the indifference and hatred of those they want to help and they are doing it willingly for the cause of Christ. And then there’s me. Getting a little worked up because the customer service representative of the credit card company I called was so inept. Oh, how much I complain. Over stupid stuff. It’s honestly ridiculous. Oh, to stop being such a complainer!

 

SO WHO IS REALLY A HERO?

I get so very weary with those who are deemed “heroes” in America (not sure how it is in your country). Movie stars and sports figures, few who have done anything of value, are raised on a pedestal while those who are true heroes go completely unsung. A movie star acts and a sports figure plays. Neither of these things are worthy of honor. A true hero sacrifices. They sacrifice their own well-being, their own comfort and convenience, their own lives for a greater cause. And they inspire others to do the same!

Christian heroes do this for the cause of Christ. In my opinion, there are no greater heroes than these men and women who gave their lives for Christ. I can’t even imagine the crowns they will receive in heaven!

Oh, that we, too, may be Christian heroes wherever God has placed us!

 

 

 

(A Lot of) Lessons I Learned This Past Month (Part 1)

A few weeks ago, I made a rather spontaneous decision. My mom and I were talking about how June has been hi-jacked and she casually mentioned that we should make it Missionary Month. Without any background research or preparation in advance, I decided to do just that.  And so, on the Growing4Life Facebook page and also on my personal Facebook page, I’ve been featuring a different missionary each day. The well-known and the not so well-known. Martyrs and those who lived into their nineties. At home and on the foreign field. So many different missionaries but all with the same purpose: Proclaim the Gospel!

I have to admit when I made the last-minute decision to do this, I had no expectation of it changing me. I just wanted to bring some attention to these amazing men and women who sacrificed all for Christ. And that was that. Or so I thought.

And so I spent about hours this past month pouring over articles and watching videos to learn more about this special group of people. I had already read some of the biographies. Others I knew only by name. It was a profoundly rewarding exercise. (I am considering creating a PDF that includes each featured missionary along with the links I used. If this is something that would interest you, just let me know by replying to this email.)

As I researched and studied from my very comfortable home with my coffee cup in hand, I started to recognize how weak and spoiled I am. Honestly, I did already knew this but this study really drove home the point. Oh, to be more like these people who truly followed Jesus by denying themselves and taking up their cross (Matthew 16:24). They had it easy and chose hard. And I complain when the smallest thing doesn’t go my way. It’s a contrast that is striking and disgusting and I truly came up wanting. This month really challenged me personally both in living my daily Christian life, as well as in what should be done to prepare for whatever lies ahead.

Here are a few of the lessons that had the most impact in my life–

1. God is faithful. (Lamentations 3:22-23) Over and over again, through all circumstances, God proved Himself faithful. Many–I would even say most–of these missionaries lost multiple children and their spouse throughout the course of their ministry. Some endured terrible hardships under the Japanese and communist regimes. Many were hungry, out of money, mocked, scorned, persecuted, in need of clothing and other necessities, in the filthiest of conditions, surrounded by disease and yet God remained faithful. This doesn’t mean that only good things happened to them. It means that God was faithful through the good and the bad. I always cringe when I hear people imply that God intends for us to only experience good things. So many in the western, materialistic word believe that God is the great genie in the sky just desiring to make our own personal, selfish dreams come true. Nothing could be further from the truth.

2. The missionaries had one purpose and one purpose only. (I Peter 2:9-10) They did not set out to change the world and make it a better place in a temporal sense. They did not go to a third world country to provide the impoverished people there with clean water, food, and other necessities. While this may have been part of their plan, their main goal was always to proclaim the Gospel. Nothing could deter them from pointing people to Jesus and saving them from hell. Oh, what a contrast this is to modern day missions where the focus has moved to fixing temporal, earthly problems. Caring for their bodies while ignoring their souls. I am thankful there are still some very godly missionaries out there but that group is shrinking fast.

3. The Word was foundational. (2 Timothy 3:16) In the lives of these missionaries, the Bible was key. They recognized that the power for the Christian life was there and it was the center of their ministry, as well as their source for strength. It’s no wonder so many Christians are leading powerless lives encumbered by sin, depression, addictions, worldliness, and idols. The Bible has taken a backseat in homes and churches across the world and this is where that leads. God has given us His Word as the tool by which we are transformed day by day. And yet so often it just sits on a shelf.

4. Christians who give up everything are happier. (Philippians 4:11) Yesterday, a friend of mine put a photo on Facebook with the covers of two books. One book had missionary stories and the other contained short biographies of movie stars from bygone days. She mentioned that the contrast between the two groups of people was striking. I have noticed the same thing. The biographies of most famous people are incredibly disappointing. They are generally full of broken marriages and families, addictions, materialism, bitterness, resentment, and deep and abiding sadness. They have wasted their whole lives chasing after something that they just can’t find.

Contrast that to the missionaries and other sold-out Christians. God has filled them with a purpose that is far outside themselves. I know it doesn’t make any sense to our finite minds, but somehow God has designed us that when we live for Him, we are happier. When we turn away from our selfish desires and submit to and obey God, it brings a peace and joy that can’t be explained. We can grasp after that next house or car, we can try to fill our hearts with earthly relationships, we can attain the greatest success in our jobs or we can gain fame and fortune–but none of that leads to the peace that passes understanding. This only comes through God. And when you have that, then nothing else matters. It truly is the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45-46). These missionary stories gave real life evidence to this over and over and over again.

5. Missionaries aren’t perfect. (I John 1:8) Many of these missionaries made errors in judgment or chose to do something that ended up costing them dearly. They had tempers, they lacked management skills, they had to work through bitterness–just as we do. Some came to wrong conclusions about some secondary biblical issues. Some sacrificed their children for their missionary call. In summary, they were sinners. They were regular people just like you and like me. And yet God used them mightily. For it isn’t from our own stores and talents that we do great things for God, but it is His working through us.

6. They wouldn’t change a thing. (Romans 8:28) I remember listening to the testimony of one missionary as she described her experience as a POW of Japan during the second world war. It was absolutely horrifying and far beyond anything you and I could comprehend. And yet, she said she wouldn’t change a thing. She not only submitted to God’s sovereignty in her life but she recognized that He had used these unspeakable trials to bear fruit that could not have otherwise grown.

 

Well, this may be a good place to stop for today, as this is getting far longer than I expected. I think I will divide this into two posts and try to get Part 2 out later this week. Thanks for reading!

 

 

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: