discernment

Being Oriented in a Disoriented World

Every now and again, I will accidentally remove an app from my phone and not only does that app go missing but everything else moves one place over or up. That seems like no big deal until you start looking for the app you need. Just where did it go? I stare at the phone and eventually find it. But I am stopped in my tracks on that initial effort because it isn’t where it is supposed to be.

What a lame analogy to what we are experiencing right now. Nothing seems to be where it’s supposed to be. And, while we can move things back to where they are supposed to be on our phones, we have no power to fix what’s going on in this broken, wicked earth at all.

This means that the only power we have in all the upheaval is how we personally handle it.

Sometimes it can be rather overwhelming, can it not? There is so much to take in. So much that makes no sense. There are so many who are deluded into believing things that are patently false. Things that are easily proven by hard stats and data. But few are listening. Whether we are referring to health issues, government issues, world events, or anything else, we can see a force at work that is not of God. While the world has always been in the hands of the evil one (I John 5:18-19), it seems quite ramped up right now.

So how do we stay oriented? How do we maintain our bearings in a world gone mad?

Know your Bible. If I’ve said that once, I’ve said it a million times: The Bible is the power for our Christian lives. God has given it to us so that we will stay oriented in a disoriented world. This morning, however, I want to speak specifically to the Bible’s incredible foretelling of the future. When we accept that Revelation must be interpreted literally, we will watch things fall into place in a supernatural way that means it must be the end. Let me speak to this for a moment. A few weeks ago I saw something going around on Facebook that basically said how dare you act like what you are experiencing is worse that what any other generation has gone through. And I hear that a lot. I am not sure anyone has claimed we are experiencing anything worse but we certainly are experiencing something that is different than any other generation has seen.

Why is this time in the world any different than any other time? Let’s look at a few of the basic reasons why this time is unique in the history of the world and would lead us to believe the very last days are upon us. Here are just a few of the main reasons: First, the technology is in place for a system that forbids buying and selling without a mark (Revelation 13:17). Second, the technology is in place for the two witnesses to be heard and seen across the entire world (Revelation 11:1-12). Third, the whole world is so obviously being set up for a global government and global religion (Revelation 13:7-8). Fourth, the nations are arranging themselves (just look into this–it’s quite fascinating!) in such a way that they are setting themselves up to fulfill the prophecies regarding Israel (Ezekiel 38 and more). And, fifth (and finally), the earth is responding just as we are told it would in the last days as it gets set up for the Tribulation (Matthew 24:7-8) All of these things–and so many more– show the astute Bible student that we are fast approaching the last days.

If we understand this, then what looks like chaos, confusion, and absurdity to most people starts to make total sense to those Christians who have studied what is predicted in Revelation. Knowing this helps to keep us oriented amidst all of the madness.

(There are so many Christians who do not believe in a literal fulfillment of Revelation. If you are one of these, please know that I count you as a dear sibling in Christ. This is no salvation issue. But may I gently encourage you to be willing to consider what I have written above?)

Control the anger and hold no grudges. When people feel out of control or have strong opinions about some issue, tempers flare. We can stay oriented by keeping our cool and refusing to hold grudges. While our flesh may push us to divide and break with friends and family, we must refuse, as much as it is up to us (Romans 12:18) to let this happen. We cannot be oriented if we cannot exercise self-control.

Be dedicated to all truth, no matter the cost. I am convinced that the reason so many can’t see the truth is because the cost is just too high. They will cause conflict with beloved friends or family. Or they will be ridiculed. Perhaps they would even lose their jobs or livelihood. It may be as simple as they will have to give up their view of the government or media or society and they just aren’t willing to do that. I will readily admit that in the overwhelmingness of what is becoming evident, it is difficult to grasp the truth. This is when we pray and ask the Lord to open our eyes to whatever He wants us to see. That He would keep us from being deluded and deceived as we move forward into this strange new world. In order to be oriented we need to be dedicated to the truth, no matter how painful and overwhelming that may be.

Keep the focus on the Gospel. In the midst of all that is swirling around us, we must remember that our true orientation comes from the truth of the Gospel. Christ died for you and for me so that we could escape the penalty of sin and live eternally with Him in heaven. Today, when you are at work or in the store, or wherever you find yourself with other people, just stop for a moment. Take a look around and realize just how many people are lost and headed to hell. If you believe, like me, that the end is near, then sharing the Gospel with those who are lost should become more and more urgent each day. And yet, so many of us just go about our days without ever giving this a thought.

We should be more concerned about this than anything else. A person can go to heaven while not understanding the evil that surrounds them. But they cannot go to heaven without hearing about Jesus and what He has done for them. We must keep the Gospel as our focus and not fall into the temptation to become wrapped up in the things that–when it’s all said and done–won’t matter for eternity. We stay oriented by keeping our main focus where the Bible tells us it should always be.

Refuse to be fearful or depressed. Fear and depression lead us into a chasm that totally disorients us. We must make a choice to not allow it to dominate us. We can only do this by the Lord’s help, of course, but we must make a choice. Why do I say this? Because it is what the Bible tells us. Let’s look at a few of these commands that indicate that we must make a choice–

Be anxious for nothing (Philippians 4:6).

Do not worry about your life (Matthew 6:25)

Do not worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34)

Look these verses up and note that they do not give way for any wavering. We are commanded to do these things. I am not implying that this is an easy thing to do. In fact, we cannot actually do this on our own. If we make this choice we must rely on God to actually accomplish this.

As many of you already know, I had a very dark time of fear and depression last summer. I felt like I was in a pit I could not get out of. I know how this feels all too well. I cried put to God and He was so faithful. If you are struggling with fear or depression today, cry out to God for help. We cannot be wallowing in fear or depression if we want to stay oriented. (I still have to actively make a choice most every day regarding the fear. Bible memory has been invaluable to me in my efforts to turn away from fear and trust God.)

Recognize that this is the end. I was out of town last year when the entire world changed. I vividly remember coming home and looking at my husband and saying “this is how it ends. I just feel like this is it.” At that time, I had no idea what was ahead but it felt different, didn’t it? There was something so sinister and ominous about what was going on, it’s hard to put it into words. A year and a half later, I stand by those words. This is how it ends. Staying oriented means being willing to see the truth about the state of things. When we compare world events with what we read in scripture, we can see that we are quickly approaching the end. If we want to stay oriented, we need to acknowledge this truth.

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I know there are so many who disagree with me on what I’ve written above. Perhaps those who disagree already stopped reading. They may think I am too negative. They might believe I am writing from a hopeless perspective that they just don’t believe is correct. (Let me just add here that I am not hopeless by a long stretch! I have just realized that our hope is not in this world but in the Lord alone!)

And so I’d like to take a moment and share something from my heart with you. While many bloggers and authors desire to get the biggest following possible, I have decided not to do that. I’d prefer to offer encouragement and support to like-minded people. I have chosen to be very specific in this according to a literal understanding of God’s Word. I believe very strongly that this is what the Lord has called me to do. While I never want to lose readers, I understand that it will happen with this philosophy of ministry and I accept that.

I hope that this has encouraged those of you who understand that we are in the last days. I hope, as I process for myself how to stay oriented in this disoriented (and insane) world, that this also encourages some of you.

May we continue to cling to God’s Word and to each other as we navigate these final days.

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.

 

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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.

How Do I Know Who’s Telling Me the Truth?

There has been a lot of conversations about lies as compared to the truth over this past year. It is so difficult to work our way through all of the chaos and confusion. But do you know this has been going on for years? We just didn’t realize it.

It has been especially prevalent in the church over the past 50 or more years, where we have seen lies bound into the church (often splitting churches and causing genuine Christians to leave and start another church) or slither in so subtly they go completely unnoticed by almost all.

So two people asked me the same question last night: How do I know if the sermon or commentary or book I am reading is telling me the truth?

I answered off the top of my head then but have been giving it more thought since that time. It is a great question and some of you may have wondered this, as well. I thought maybe I’d try to tackle that question here this morning.

So you are reading a Study Bible or a commentary on a passage and you wonder: Is this guy interpreting this passage correctly? Or perhaps you are listening to a sermon and you think: Is this what the Bible is actually teaching here?

What are some steps you can take to make sure you aren’t deceived? There are a few important things you can do. Let’s take a look at them–

1. Pray for discernment. It is important that we are diligent in asking for the Holy Spirit to guide us as we study the Bible. Many have been the times I have heard something and it just didn’t “sit right” with me. This caused me to start digging deeper and finding out if that person was right or not. I’ve head many people share that they’ve had the same thing happen to them. One of the Holy Spirit’s jobs in our lives is to help us understand and interpret the Word rightly (John 14:26) and He does faithfully do this.

2. Recognize that we can understand a lot of the Bible without help. God has designed His Word to be understood by the average lay person. Think about how many things are clear in the Bible when you just sit down to study it without helps. Sure, there are some things that are a bit confusing or hard to understand, but the majority of the Bible is pretty understandable overall. As we become more familiar with its theme, its context, and its content, dedicating ourselves to reading and studying the actual Bible, we will be able to spot things that are off much more quickly.

3. Value the truth of God’s Word and be willing to pay whatever it costs to follow it. If I have seen one thing that has caused people to stumble or even turn away from genuine Christianity, it is this. The loyalty to men runs deep and when someone is confronted with a favorite teacher who is teaching a false doctrine, they will often choose the teacher over the Bible. Or perhaps they are confronted with the truth that genuine Christianity requires sacrifice and self-denial. They don’t like that truth and so they go towards the false Christianity that promises health and wealth. The bottom line is that if we are not willing to follow the truth of God’s Word–no matter the cost–we will open ourselves up to being deceived. We must value the truth of God’s Word above all else as we grow as believers.

4. As you start studying the Word, you will start to become familiar with those you can trust. Many men who have died aren’t changing their messages, so I often start there. While I may not agree with everything, I do know I can trust them regarding the main doctrines of the faith. Men like Matthew Henry, Charles Spurgeon, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, J.C. Ryle, and many of the Puritans have so much to offer when it comes to the topics of salvation and sanctification. (I want to note here that many of these men followed the wrong eschatology of reformed theology. Augustine developed the idea of Replacement Theology out of his own hatred for the Jews and their doctrines and this wrong doctrine has been followed by so many since. But since many of these men have been alive, things have progressed and been made so much clearer in regards to a literal Revelation that I do wonder if some of them would be changing their minds about now…)

5. Ask someone you trust if you have a question about something you have read or heard. Now before you ask, do make sure this person is committed 100% to the truth of God’s Word over pleasing men. Make sure they will tell you the truth in answer to your question. There are many people out there who aren’t willing to do this because they don’t want to lose you as a friend or offend you. You want to find someone who is willing to tell you the truth, no matter the cost. If you have someone like this in your life, you are beyond blessed. Ask them your questions and be willing to hear their answers.

6. Research the person in question. Oftentimes when I have a question about something I have heard or read, it will be answered if I dig a little deeper into the person who said/wrote it. If people are seriously in error in one area, they are probably seriously wrong in others.

7. Look at the speaker/author’s friends. Psalm 1 says that a righteous man will not hang out with the ungodly. Romans 16:17 tells us we are to avoid those who teach things contrary to pure doctrine. If the person you are listening to or reading spends his time, unapologetically, with false teachers or proudly declares his connections with the unsaved (for instance, in his/her efforts to better this world), beware. This is a HUGE red flag. Mark and avoid any teacher that does this. The Bible makes it clear that this means the teacher is compromised.

8. Have much grace and a humble spirit when there are minor differences. We will never agree whole-heartedly with anyone on everything. This is just life. We can’t be so over-zealous that we turn away from someone simply because of a minor disagreement about a passage. And we must humbly recognize that we aren’t right about everything, either. No one is. So, in the little things, we have grace and humility, striving for unity among true believers. Oh, how many churches have been destroyed over minor disagreements.

9. Recognize that Satan wants to deceive you. We are told that he is like a roaring lion, who seeks to devour (I Peter 5:8) and that he often presents himself as an angel of light, as do his workers (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Unless we are aware of Satan’s dedication to putting us off-course, we will be vulnerable in our naivete and ignorance. We must be aware of the spiritual battle that is raging for our souls. Satan would like nothing more than for us to be rendered ineffective for Christ and His Kingdom through deception and distraction.

_____________________________________________

I hope this has been helpful. It is certainly not exhaustive and I’m sure I will think of other things as soon as I post this (that is usually what happens!) If you have other suggestions that have helped you, I would love to read them in the comments section.

Life continues to get crazier and truth is costing more and more. Both biblically, as well as in the real, everyday world. Many are not willing to pay the price.

But if we are to keep ourselves walking in the truth, we must dedicate ourselves to it. No matter the cost. We must submit ourselves to God and His Word (even if we don’t like what it says), and, when we do, God will honor this desire. He will keep us and guard us from the evil one (2 Thessalonians 3:3; James 4:7).

So stay strong and value truth, my friends. In this time of great deception, ask the Lord to protect you. He is so faithful and He will!

 

 

Time to Wake Up

Last night at 12:22am, our phone rang. It jarred me out of a very deep sleep and my heart started pounding. It’s not usually a good thing when the phone rings at night and my thoughts went immediately to our parents. It ended up being an automated call about our company’s security system (at 12:22am!) and I started to breathe easily again. But it took a long time for my heart to stop pounding and my brain to slow down.

A few hours later, we woke up to a short beep. We looked around, couldn’t figure it out, and closed our eyes. We were just about back to sleep when we heard it again. It seemed to be coming from my nightstand. I decided it must be some kind of low battery signal from my alarm clock. I unplugged the clock and we settled down for a couple of more hours of sleep. But, no. There it was again! At this third beep, I flew out of bed, turned on the light, and examined my table. Finally, my husband said he thinks it’s the phone. The cordless phone (which I had answered at 12:22am) had lost its charge and was begging to be put back in its cradle. How it lost its charge in just a few short hours is a mystery. That particular phone rarely leaves its cradle and was sitting on it when I answered during the night.

Those rude awakenings made for a rough night of sleep. No wonder I feel so tired this morning.

Those sleep interruptions remind me of the life we are living now. We so badly want to go back to our normal ordinary living but we keep getting jarred awake by discouraging and often nonsensical happenings. We will live for a few days–perhaps even a week or two–and we can forget how much the world has changed. But then something vividly reminds us.

I wrote parts of what you will read below on Facebook the other day, but decided to expand here as many of you are not on Facebook and, also, because I did not include or expand on certain things due to space. I want to warn you that this first part is going to be somewhat discouraging but just keep reading. It gets better.

As we catch bits and pieces of news these past days, we see many disturbing things. In America, It seems like almost every day we hear of laws that will strip us of our rights. We hear of terrible things happening at the borders. We hear of people dying from Covid and from the vaccine. And we hear about supply shortages and higher expenses. Meanwhile the government is throwing money it doesn’t have at its citizens to pacify them. This can’t end well.

There are perhaps even more disturbing happenings from across the world, where we hear of extreme lockdown measures that continue to keep people from traveling even within their own countries. There are massive protests across Europe about these lockdowns, which we never hear about in the mainstream news. A pastor in Canada was recently released from a five week stay in jail for his church’s in-person meetings against his province’s health guidelines. And then there are the reports coming from Israel that there is “medical apartheid” going on. If you aren’t vaccinated, you are viewed as Enemy #1 and with their newly instated “green pass”, only the vaccinated are allowed to eat at restaurants indoors, go to events, and even shop in some stores. Many of their citizens have been forced to be vaccinated or lose their jobs. Now keep in mind–this is over a virus that has a death rate that is actually less than 4% (and that death rate has been falsified in so many ways and with the falsifications being proven by so many different studies and reports that it is hard for any thinking person to deny it.) There’s much more going on in this world. But that’s enough.

Not only is the world in chaos but the church at large is also in major chaos. Here in America, we read of a famous “Christian” singer who was recorded shouting obscenities at his son. We see an ugly debate over a recent Christian book and the promotion of Bethel by a much trusted Christian. The promotion of wokism and social justice in Baptist and other once-solid churches is now the norm. The church has been on a bad trajectory for quite awhile but it has taken on warp speed. Why does it matter what is happening to the American church? I believe it is because she has been a beacon of the Christian faith in this world for many years. It has been she who has sent thousands of missionaries across the world and it is she who has been one of Israel’s greatest supporters. As this American church weakens and is overtaken by apostasy, so the darkness won’t only increase in America, but across the world. (Did you know that many mission organizations aren’t even sharing the Gospel anymore? Or if they do it is as an “add-on” to the person’s current religion? There is much going on in the world of missions. Be careful whom you support.)

What is especially interesting to see is the efforts to draw all people into a one world religion (which we have been told is coming in Revelation 13), with many once-trusted figures joining with false teachers or promoting false doctrine. I recently saw a “Christian” company who is re-making their company with an emphasis on Buddhism, while still claiming to be Christian. I’ve heard of “Christian” pastors and teachers joining with Islam. In fact, it is so common that it’s been given a name: “Chrislam”. There is just so much wrong with the modern day mainstream church across the world. What I have written is just a glimpse into all that’s going on.

But let me encourage you! As the American church has weakened, the true church in other countries is growing. Oftentimes, this is happening in countries where there is much persecution and cost for being a believer. The true church is still so wonderfully alive and well and will always remain so until the Lord returns for her. Yes, she will be small but perhaps we are simply gaining a new understanding of Matthew 7:13-14? Our Lord told us the gate is narrow and few there will be that find it.

Then there are weather events. Did you know that last year in America there were 16 ‘one-billion dollar’ weather events? This means that insurance companies had to pay out at least one billion dollars in coverage. There are usually under ten per year. And this year the Texas freeze has already been a three billion dollar event. So not only is the world going crazy, so is the weather. And that’s just in America. This pattern continues across the world, with an increase in hurricanes, volcanic activity, and earthquakes. The official data shows this increase in activity. I think we can all agree that the weather has seemed to sense the mood of the earth. We hear that it’s global warming causing all this havoc. I tend to believe it is the beginning of the birth pangs as predicted in Matthew 24. Of course, I could be wrong. It’s just an observation.

Meanwhile, technology is exponentially increasing, making possible the mark of the beast as predicted in Revelation 13. One can easily see how the green pass in Israel and the mandatory chipping of employees in Sweden are stepping stones to the mark of the Beast. (Let me be clear: The vaccine is NOT the mark of the beast.) Yes, how they will make the mark of the beast possible is becoming just a little clearer with each passing day. Technology is also now available to see the two witnesses in live time from anywhere in the world through satellites. Anything that we thought was impossible forty or fifty years ago when we read Revelation is now possible. It’s mind-blowing when you really stop to think about it.

And then, finally, the last thing I want to touch on is globalism. I have thought for many years now that it would be quite impossible to have a one world government with a strong America. I believe that we are watching the intentional take-down of this country. I do not say this lightly. The evidence is clearly there. This, along with the failing economies of other countries around the world, will pave the way for a global government. They are already discussing it. Just look up the World Economic Forum and read some of their chilling plans.

I haven’t even mentioned the activity in the middle east that is lining up with scripture in a way that could only be supernatural.

It’s funny because I never really thought before 2020 of the many details and changes that would need to be put in place for the Revelation 13 scenario to come to the world. But now as we are living them, it makes so much sense. It’s not like you can just suddenly have a one world government, a one world religion, and a mark of the beast that is needed to buy and sell. These things can’t just happen instantly. There must be much happening in the years before that.

Now you may be saying to yourself right now “I don’t agree with you“. And I want you to know, first of all, that I am not trying to change your mind. I don’t think it will really matter what we believe about world happenings when the Lord returns. Second of all, I am so gladly willing to hear evidence to the contrary. I would gladly admit it if I am wrong. I simply ask you to do some research on your own before commenting with negative words to this post. Spend some time finding out about the vaccine from doctors who are losing their licenses and reputations to sound the alarm. Read a few news sources that are not carefully controlled. Dig into history to find out the background of current events.

To me–and I know to many of you, as well–it is so clear that the end is near. Everything the Bible predicted is either happening or being set up to happen.

How does one live in a world that is getting ready to end?

It can be tempting to fear and to be anxious. It is tempting to just withdraw and ignore.

And, honestly, I don’t pay much attention to the news anymore. I am not going to change what is happening by knowing about every detail. And we aren’t really getting real news anyway. At least not in America. We are getting a very scripted narrative.

Does anyone else find themselves hunkering down in the midst of all of this and just living a more simple life? One where family, work, and church are the main priorities?

That’s what I find myself doing. And, honestly, if it wasn’t for the wonderings and uncertainty of the future, I’d be happier for it. There is much to be said for the simpler life.

Actually, “hunkering down” is probably not the best term to use. I don’t mean that we shelter in our houses and don’t go out. I am referring more to a life where we invest in our families, treasure fellowship with like-minded believers, and have conversations that actually matter with both the unsaved and the saved. A life where we focus on what’s important.

Our families need us. They need us to be engaged and communicating and laughing with them. They need us to turn away from our phones and our TVs and our activities to love them and teach them about God and His Word.

Our church families need us. I have heard from several different people now how difficult it is to find people to serve in various ministries at local churches. This is so discouraging. We need to be actively serving as we wait for the Lord to come. This is not the time to back out of all of our church ministries.

Our communities need us. I spoke with a woman yesterday whose family is deeply hurting from this past year. Their extended families have been deeply affected economically by Covid and they are trying to help them. But they, themselves, had to take a 10% pay cut. It’s been a rough road to travel for them. I am sure her story could be told a million times over across the world. In fact, many are facing much worse things. Some are struggling to even eat. We need to support those who are hurting however we can. We need to boldly share the Gospel when we are given opportunity. We need to show God’s love in this harsh, harsh world.

It’s time for the alarms around us to wake us up to what’s important. It’s time to wake up to the fact that we are probably never going back to our old “normal”.

This reminds me of the verses from I Thessalonians 5:5-11—

You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be [a]sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.

11 Therefore [b]comfort each other and [c]edify one another, just as you also are doing.

We mustn’t sleep as others do but watch and be sober. We are children of the day. Children of the light. And we must keep our eyes open and our armor on.

And don’t forget that one of these days we will be raptured! The Lord has promised that we will escape the wrath to come. We are not going to be here while the earth experiences the worst seven years in its history. Oh, praise the Lord for keeping His own from this terrible time.

Meanwhile, as we traverse the land of “limbo”, waiting for whatever is next, we need to make the best of it and appreciate what we have now. We need to be actively serving our Lord and sharing the Gospel. And we need to be sure we are growing deep roots of faith so that we can stand firm and face whatever may be ahead.

This is not the time to be resting and waiting. We need to be in the Word, learning who God is, learning to trust Him. Another thing that has been tremendously helpful to me is reading stories of missionaries and other Christians who have gone on before us. These are incredibly faith-building and are a wonderful reminder of God’s care and provision in the worst of times.

So hang on tight. It looks like we may be in for quite a ride. But let’s be sure to hang on to the right thing. Stuff will decay. People will let you down. Glory will fade. Only God and His Word are a sure anchor in the turmoil around us.

And so let us cling to Him alone. He will never fail us for He cannot fail.

 

The Challenges of Being a “People-Pleaser”

The other day, my dad shared something he remembered about me as a child that surprised me. But then, as I thought about it further, I realized that it is absolutely true and it is what has caused me so much misery through these past years of blogging. God has been helping me understand this about myself recently and has also given me greater insight in how to deal with it. I am sharing here because I thought this might also be of benefit to other “people-pleasers”.

We were talking about the grandkids (my dad’s great grandkids) and their personalities when he suddenly mentioned how different my brother and I were. I was so sensitive and wanted to please people as opposed to my brother, who never really cared what people thought about him.

I am not sure why but a light bulb went on in my head. Finally.

You see, since I have been blogging and I guess for my whole life, I have had a great desire to adhere to God’s truth and to share it with others. Because the truth is so important to me, I can see often see when there is false doctrine afoot or when someone is twisting scripture. (I don’t do this perfectly, of course.)

However, this desire to share truth is in direct conflict with my innate desire to make people happy. Since people often don’t want to hear the truth, I find myself not always pleasing them. I’ve never thought about myself as a people-pleaser but as I have reflected on my dad’s words, I can see that this is what has caused me so much heartache throughout my life. Especially since I’ve been publicly blogging.

You see, I have often noticed people that I’ve counted as friends and even acquaintances take a step back from me. They start avoiding me. They won’t make eye contact. Or they just act like I’m no longer on the planet. Or blog readers just disappear. A fellow blogger became a friend (I thought) and then poof! Just like that she disappeared. I still have no idea why.

There’s been no conversation or discussion so I often surmise that it must have been something I wrote (or said). Since I am never given the opportunity to actually find out what it exactly is that I’ve said or wrote that offended them, I am at a loss to fix it.

This has caused me incredible turmoil through the years and I will tell you why. It is because I have absolutely no way of knowing if someone is upset with me because of some truth they read (or heard me say) OR if I have done something sinful.

The questions that I repeat over and over again to myself when this happens are: Did I do something wrong? Did I write something that wasn’t biblical? Did I say it in a way that was unloving? Did I make a big deal out of something that shouldn’t have been a big deal? Father, have I sinned against Thee?

These go round and round and round in my head whenever someone so obviously backs away from me. And, contrary to what many people think about me, I don’t enjoy this. I HATE conflict. I HATE making people unhappy. I HATE when people don’t like me.

So why do I keep doing what I do? It’s because I care about pleasing God more than I hate people not liking me. I care more about God’s Word than I do about offending people. And it’s because so many of you have reached out and told me how the Growing4Life posts have encouraged and helped you. It’s because, for whatever reason, God has given me this platform and I want to faithfully accomplish what He has given me to accomplish.

But there is this dreadful uncertainty in the midst of all of this. Do people disappear because I have sinned or do they disappear because they didn’t like a particular truth I mentioned? I have spent hours in agony over this question. I am not exaggerating.

If people don’t like me for speaking truth then so be it. Scripture makes it clear that this is the price we should expect to pay. But if they don’t like me because of something sinful I did, then I must fix something. But what is it? Because it’s just easier to disappear than to have a conversation, I am rarely given the opportunity to know just what is going on.

Sometimes God will reveal something to me and I will apologize to someone. Or I will go back and change a sentence or two in a blog post. But that question still haunts me. Because if I had my choice, everyone would like me.

As I thought about this yet again a few weeks ago and spent a morning in turmoil, I finally, by the grace of God, found peace. For the first time since I started writing publicly, I found peace regarding the disappearing readers and friends.

And this is what I wanted to share with you. I hope it is an encouragement to those of you who have people-pleasing personalities like mine.

A week or two ago, as I once again sat agonizing over this, wondering if I have sinned against someone, it suddenly hit me. I can do nothing if people aren’t willing to share with me why they are offended.

My responsibility is to humbly surrender and change as God reveals things to me. But if someone is offended and they won’t share that with me, then there is really nothing I can do. I am helpless to make them happy or to be at peace with them, because they have found it easier just to walk away.

At that point I am not responsible. As long as I am living out Romans 12:18 (As much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men), there is nothing further I can do. The fact that Paul even wrote that verse shows that it is not always possible to be at peace with all men.

This is all compounded by the fact that, over the past few years, a rather strange new thing has entered our culture: We only like those with whom we agree. This change is extremely sad and causes so much division and heartache.

So I’d like to just go on record to say that I still like you even if we don’t agree about everything. I count you as a friend even if you and I differ on eschatology or how we view a specific Christian teacher. And if you can show me, from scripture, why I should change my view, I’ll change it. I am always open to discussion. I never want to be hard-headed or the kind that needs to prove I’m right. If scripture is clear that I am wrong, I am not too proud to admit it.

And, quite frankly, it is those of you that have kindly shared your disagreements with me who have led me to really dig deeper into the Word to clarify and confirm what I have said I believe. I am thankful for those of you with whom I can have candid and kind discussions. This is how we sharpen one another. This is how the family of God is supposed to work.

And, so, that is just a brief look into the window of my heart. I have made myself rather vulnerable with this post but I do so because I believe we are going to face this dilemma more and more as we stand for the truth of the Bible. It’s growing increasingly unpopular and I believe we are going to please people less and less as we cling tenaciously to God and His Word. We people-pleasers will have to come to grips with this.

So may we stand firm. May we unapologetically proclaim the truth of God’s Word–all of it! The pleasant parts and the not-so-pleasant parts. And may we humbly acknowledge when we have sinned, repent, brush ourselves off, and begin again.

 

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