His Truth Will Set You Free

Listen to what Jesus says; “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)


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A “Groundhog Day” Moment

The early evening sun dropped behind the tree in the front yard, casting the lawn in speckled shadows. My wife sat in her usual spot for that time of day, on the couch, facing the large window looking out to the street, her latest favorite book in hand. I was in my usual spot, on the family room couch, scanning the articles in our local online newspaper (yes, it was all the same stuff—all coronavirus, all the time).

Suddenly my wife let out a chuckle.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“I just had a ‘Groundhog Day’ moment,” she said, still chuckling.

“A what?”

“Well, I’m sitting here looking out the window, and I’m seeing the same people, walking past at the same time of day, in the same direction, and yet all keeping plenty of ‘social distance’ between them. But it’s just like yesterday—the same thing each day.”

And then we were both chuckling, feeling as if we too were stuck in the cycle Bill Murray fell into in the movie “Groundhog Day,” living the same day over and over again.

This sheltering in place has many of us falling into a routine as we try to make the best out of a difficult situation. Some, like the people my wife chuckled at, get outside when they can for a nice social-distanced walk in the fresh air. My wife and I do, usually at the same time of day, each and every day. Yet, we do sometimes change our route, being the thrill-seekers we are.

Are you living your own Groundhog Day? If it feels that way, you can always keep repeating what you enjoy, and change up what you don’t. And if possible, try to find some humor in our new reality.

By the way, I tried to figure out how to tie this into some kind of Christian message, since that’s what I usually write about. But I couldn’t think of anything. So I decided to share it just for the fun. During this era of tension and stress that so many of us feel, it’s important to have some fun, as often as we can.

Here’s hoping you have a great day today, even if it’s a lot like yesterday.


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Today is still yesterday

Just a silly thought for some Friday fun…

My friend Josh just came up to me and said he didn’t get any sleep last night, again. He has a brand new baby daughter – now you see why he got no sleep. He then said, “So today is still yesterday.” I found that tickling and I wanted to share it. And Josh said I could. I hope you have a fun Friday, and weekend. CJ


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Creepy Christians?

Here are some of the ways I used to feel around Christians; see if these sound familiar to your experience:

  • I felt like Christians were constantly judging my behavior and actions.
  • It seemed to me like Christians thought they were better than everyone else.
  • I felt like Christians disliked me and everyone else who wasn’t a Christian.
  • I thought Christians were flat-out weird whenever I saw them praying in public, and I’d stay far away from them, as if I didn’t want to catch whatever sickness they had.
  • The worst was that I always felt like Christians were trying to pressure me to convert and take on their beliefs. Just leave me alone and let me be how I want to be!!! – that’s how I felt.

Than I became a Christian. I remember my sister saying, “Oh no, are you now a Jesus Freak?” The answer was yes. Yet even though I had become crazy about Jesus, I sure didn’t want to become creepy. Ever since I decided that I really like Jesus and believe in Him, I’ve been searching for the truth of what a real “Christian” should look like. In other words, how would Jesus have Christians appear to non-Christians?

For all who call themselves “Christian,” here’s some advice from the experts (note, I like to put Jesus’ words in red, since He’s the best expert on the subject):

“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” (1 Corinthians 8:9)

“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.” (Romans 14:13)

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1)

“Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.” (Romans 14:1)

“But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12)

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37)

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men… But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” (Matthew 6:5, 6)

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men.” (Hebrews 12:14)

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)

“Be merciful to those who doubt.” (Jude 1:22)

All Christians should pay attention to the advice of the experts.


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It’s a Cold, Cruel World

It’s difficult and often dangerous out in the “real” world. As I raised my children, I protected them, fed them, taught them, cared for them, and loved them. I did my best to create a safe, joyful and loving environment at home. Yet they left.

Well of course they left; that’s the way of our society. Raise your children and then send them off on their own, to fend for themselves and put what you taught them into practice, hopefully.

It’s part of our nature to want to go out on our own, and live independent of our parents. We want to make our own decisions and direct our own life, without having to report to someone else. And along with this comes the responsibility of dealing with our own problems, on our own.

Of course for many of us, mom and dad are no farther away that the other end of the telephone, and they are often willing and able to help us deal with our problems. We may have left them when we moved out of their house, but they never really left us. Loving parents make themselves always available to help and guide their adult children.

Where am I going with all this? Well, I think this little scenario illustrates our history and relationship with God.

Humanity, in the persons of Adam and Eve, were lovingly raised by God, who offered them a home with Him, forever. He would protect them, feed them, teach them, care for them and love them. But the independent nature kicked in. Adam and Eve wanted to leave home and go out on their own, make their own decisions and direct their own lives.

I know some self-proclaimed atheists who make a case that all of the world’s problems are evidence that there is no God, for how could a God possibly allow so much evil. The truth is, God does not allow evil, in His home. But humanity struck out on their own, into the cold, cruel, evil world. We left God to go out on our own, spurred on by our prideful ego, which told us we were smart enough to live independent from God.

Yet we are not alone in this cold, cruel world. God is always just on the other end of the phone, lovingly willing to help us deal with our problems. All we need do is call, and listen.


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Susan Boyles – a hero just when we need one

Have you seen the video on YouTube? If you haven’t seen Susan Boyles bring shock and awe to the judges and audience of the TV show “Britain’s Got Talent”, then follow this link and I hope you find joy in it… (YouTube video).

I watched for the first time last night, and tears came to my eyes. Not rolling tears, but the kind you can just feel welling up and making your nose sniffle. Then this morning, as I read the article in the newspaper with a bit more information about Susan Boyles the person – the tears flowed this morning. For me, Susan Boyles is a true hero, or rather heroin, just when I need one.

This is not the kind of thing I normally write about, but I am so move by Susan and her story, that I just had to express some of my feelings. The world is a mess, and lately it just seems to be getting messier. Military conflicts, pirates, lost jobs, the grim economy and vaporized savings; it all takes its toll. But then comes someone like Susan Boyles, who for me is a bright ray of sunshine. I think we all need heroes. Thank you Susan for just being you – the best kind of hero there is.

I think that concept of simple heroism kind of caught the judges and audience off guard. We are so used to our hero’s being glamorous, but then someone like Susan Boyles reminds us that it’s the unpretentious hero’s who are the most endearing and captivating.


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The “ME” Generation Gone Wild

“City council drops moment of silence” – so stated the headline of the lead article in today’s local newspaper. The article went on to say, “The City Council has dropped its ritual moment of silence at the start of meetings, and some members questioned whether the Pledge of Allegiance should go next.”

As I read on, I wanted to know why. Why get rid of the moment of silence? The answer came two paragraphs later…

“The change came at the request of one of the council’s newest members, who said the practice could be seen as a form of prayer and might offend those who don’t want to participate.”

It didn’t really answer my question, yet there were clues. But it got me thinking about a more general issue which goes far beyond whether or not to observe moments of silence in small-town council meetings. There is a movement underway endeavoring to wipe out anything religious. Our country which was founded because people were looking for freedom of religion, is now a country where there is a strong push for freedom from religion.

Again I ask why, yet regrettably I think I already know the answer, and the answer actually goes far beyond the anti-religious movement. Why are people anti-moments-of-silence? Why are some anti-anything-religious? Why are others anti-(name any group of people, political party, belief, etc.)?

It’s all about selfishness and arrogance.

The new city council member either wants to exert new-found power because of his arrogance, or he just cannot stand the idea of other people believing differently than he does; again, because of his arrogance.

Arrogance is why the minority side of any issue thinks they should have it their way. People in our society are just unwilling to loose. They are unwilling to accept something they don’t happen to personally support. It’s the “me generation” gone wild. There is an epidemic of arrogance, selfishness and even bigotry, on the rise in our generation.

The anti-religion movement is rooted in selfishness as well. An atheist wants to make a name for himself, and becomes intoxicated on the power of his influence. Or maybe because of their bigotry (which is another form of self-centeredness and arrogance), they despise those who are different from themselves. Had you ever considered attacks on religion by atheists as an act of bigotry? Think about it.

And the “religious” are not immune. No one is immune from the diseases of the ego. All of the world’s conflicts, whether among nations or married couples or just two co-workers, are rooted in self-centeredness and arrogance. Get over it people!

We need to all grow up and stop acting like spoiled brats. We cannot always get our way, and we just need to accept that. And we need to start thinking more about others, and less about our selves.

What our society needs more than anything is a good old-fashioned dose of humility. And this actually gets me back to the bible, where humility is held in high esteem. For as Jesus said,

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)


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Would Jesus hate?

There are some who believe God hates you and me. I have been on a letter-writing campaign, periodically submitting comments to the web site of the Westboro Baptist Church, the home of Pastor Fred Phelps, a person well-known as a preacher of hate. Hoping that others may gain something by seeing the comments I’ve submitted, I have been periodically posting these comments on this blog. What follows is an oldie but a goodie.

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Dear Mr. Phelps,

Please understand that if I didn’t sincerely care for the collective souls of the Westboro Baptist Church, I would not keep writing to you. By the way, it is not in my nature to care for people who I consider so filled with hate. My natural tendency would be to hate you right back (see, I’m not immune to hypocrisy). So the only explanation I can give you for my compassion is this: as with all good things, it comes from God. God has somehow softened my heart and truly filled me with care and compassion for all of you. That is why I keep writing.

You remain in my thoughts and prayers daily. And it was while praying for you that the idea for this letter came to me. God put it on my heart, and in my mind, to write again to you today. As with all things, His words convey the message that is on my heart, far better than any words I could come up with.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” (Matthew 16:24)

“Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’” (Matthew 19:21

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)

What does it mean to follow Jesus?

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

“Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.” (Luke 11:4)

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12)

“For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” (John 12:49-50)

“The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” (John 14:10)

Treat others as you wish to be treated. Forgive others as God forgives us. In all things, do as Jesus did. Speak Gods words, not our own. Jesus being both God and human while He walked the earth, we will do well to speak as Jesus spoke while we still walk the earth. This is what it means to follow Jesus. This is how we should act, feel and speak, if we are to truly follow Jesus.

And this brings me to what has been on my heart. Where did Jesus ever tell anyone that He hated them? He chastised people, to be sure. But He never once told someone He hated them. Nor did He tell anyone that God hated them. And neither should we!

You are not following Jesus! Please heed His warning:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Please Mr. Phelps! Honor your savior. I beg you to open your heart and see the truth behind your actions. But don’t listen to me; listen to Jesus, and follow Jesus.

Sincerely,

E.D. Jones


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Prosperity Gospel – getting rich through Jesus

Have you heard? Jesus wants you to be rich. Or so it seems, according to the promoters of a different kind of “Christian” message, that critics call the “prosperity gospel.” If you have not heard of the prosperity gospel, perhaps I can enlighten you with some selected quotes from a recent newspaper article I read.

“The idea that God rewards moral people with financial prosperity – dubbed the ‘prosperity gospel’ by critics – has increasingly drawn large crowds to churches across the United States.”

“I don’t talk about money,” Joel Osteen (a “prosperity gospel” pastor who was interviewed) explained. “God wants you to be blessed. And being blessed means having good relationships, having money to be able to send your kids to college, being healthy in your body. That’s what we talk about. I believe God wants you to live a blessed life… I don’t go around talking about God will make you rich.”

“The prosperity gospel, Butler (another pastor) said, means that “God rewards right behavior not just in heaven, but on Earth.” True enough, but don’t count on God rewarding you with money. After all, money is one of the least effective tools for advancing the true gospel.

Yet Jesus didn’t promise us health, money for the college fund, or even good relationships. But before I talk about what Jesus has promised us, let’s look at what He has to say about money…

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19) Seems clear: do not pursue treasure.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21) Think about it. Does Jesus want our heart to be focused on Him, or on our bank account?

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. (Matthew 6:24) I think these prosperity gospel pastors are fooling themselves. They apparently think they can serve both God and money.

What else might Jesus have to say to these prosperity pastors?

“Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’” Matthew 19:21

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’” (Matthew 19:23-24)

Why did Jesus tell his disciples such a thing? Perhaps because He knows that those with wealth tend to rely on their money to help them through life’s problems, more than they rely on God. After all, why depend on God when I can buy my way out of my troubles. Have you ever witnessed the faith of someone who has nothing, and compared it with that of someone who has plenty? The faith of the poor, who have no one to rely on but God, is filled with the power of God; it’s downright inspirational.

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What kind of people are the “prosperity gospel” pastors? What motivates them to preach this different kind of gospel?

“Gilbert (another pastor who was interviewed)… said that people who live morally deserve to be compensated for it.” I’ve never seen that in the bible.

“You know why I live in a $6 million house?” Gilbert said during a recent sermon. “Because I’m concerned about what other folk live in.” (I’m still struggling to understand that quote)

Another pastor lives in a mansion in Michigan and flies around in a jet, speaking at churches across the US. And pastor Osteen spent $80 million building a sanctuary.

It almost sounds to me like these guys have come up with a new form of gospel in order to justify their own personal greed. And it pays. It’s naturally so popular that it brings in plenty of money to satisfy their material desires. But is that money going to the right place? Does Jesus want churches to spend the collection basket on $6 million houses or $80 million sanctuaries?

Osteen’s church could have fed a lot of poor people with that $80 million. They could have helped a lot of widows and orphans. I wonder what Jesus thinks about Osteen’s $80 million sanctuary. Does Jesus feel more honored by being worshipped in such a grand place? All Jesus needed was a hillside; not some $80 million mega-temple.

And check the hypocrisy in this statement:

“There is just a lot of idol worship in the United States.” Gilbert said.

It sounds like he’s the idol worshipper, putting too much faith in money. Would he still be so upbeat if his $6 million house went into foreclosure and he was kicked out by the bank?

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The current economic crisis must be amplifying the attractiveness of this new gospel. It’s an age-old evangelism technique; give the people what they want, tell them what they want to hear (with little regard for the truth), make them feel good in the midst of their daily lives. But will it last? What if going to a prosperity gospel church doesn’t pay out? What if my income doesn’t increase? “Well forget this Christianity crap. It just doesn’t pay like those preachers say it will. I’m outta here.” And there goes another lost soul.

The success of the prosperity gospel depends on man-made things. It depends on the economy, money, income, and greed. After all, it’s basic greed that draws many people to the prosperity gospel. So let me ask you this; does it sound like this prosperity gospel has the power to change people’s lives, to set them on a path that leads to holiness, to take them all the way to heaven?

There is only one gospel that can take people all the way to heaven. It’s a long journey and there’s only one guide who can take you the entire distance. Money doesn’t have the legs to make the trip. Only Jesus does. Only the Holy Spirit can take you all the way from the pit of sin, where our journey always begins, to the eternal home He has built for us.

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Yes, Jesus said we would be blessed, but perhaps His blessings go far beyond the material or physical kind. In this way, I think these prosperity gospel folks are selling God short. He promises blessings that are far more valuable than health, money and friends. Though Jesus didn’t promise an easy or bountiful life, He promises so much more. Here is what He promises to you:

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)

“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” (John 6:63)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:8)

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

The only true gospel of Jesus Christ will provide you with a peace that cannot be attained by anything material, a peace that money cannot buy.

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Finally, to all who believe in this “prosperity gospel” I say, as Paul said to the Galatians:

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-10)


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To those who claim God hates sinners – follow Jesus

There are many loud voices in the news who declare that God hates you, and me, and all kinds of other people. To them I say come, follow Jesus.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” (Matthew 16:24)

“Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’” (Matthew 19:21

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)

What does it mean to follow Jesus?

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

“Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.” (Luke 11:4)

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12)

“For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” (John 12:49-50)

“The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” (John 14:10)

Treat others as you wish to be treated. Forgive others as God forgives us. In all things, do as Jesus did. Speak Gods words, not our own. Jesus being both God and human while He walked the earth; we will do well to speak as Jesus spoke while we still walk the earth. This is what it means to follow Jesus. This is how we should act, feel and speak, if we are to truly follow Jesus.

And this brings me to what has been on my heart. Where did Jesus ever tell anyone that He hated them? He chastised people, to be sure. But He never once told someone He hated them. Nor did He tell anyone that God hated them. And neither should we!

To those who choose to proclaim that God hates sinners, please heed His warning:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” (Matthew 7:21-23)

To all at the Westboro Baptist Church and to everyone else who believes in a God of hate, please honor your savior. I beg you to open your hearts and see the truth behind your actions. But don’t listen to me; listen to Jesus, and follow Jesus.


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Misrepresenting Jesus

The outcome of the vote on California Proposition 8 will determine if same-sex marriages will still be considered legal. Today’s newspaper contained a brief article which concluded with the following quote:

“Everybody understands that Jesus, in his own culture, was notorious and persecuted for consorting with outcasts,” said the Rev. Peter Laarman, a United Church of Christ minister who opposes the gay marriage ban. “When Jesus said all are welcome at the table, I think he really meant all.”

First of all, I’m not totally sure which part of scripture Mr. Laarman is referring to. My guess is that he may have been alluding to communion, or maybe it was the following: “I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 8:11)

I do agree with the statement, “When Jesus said all are welcome at the table, I think he really meant all.” What I disagree with is the implied meaning. Mr. Laarman is apparently implying that Jesus meant that same-sex couples are invited to get married. I really don’t know how he could connect the two. There is no evidence of this anywhere in the bible.

The truth in what Jesus said is this: All are welcome to the salvation He has offered us. None are excluded. The only requirement is that we have faith in God and what He has told us, and that we repent of our sins. Therefore, all sinners are welcome. That means I’m welcome, and it means homosexuals are welcome. We just need to believe and have the desire to change our sinful ways.

And this brings me to my second concern for the day: this tendency of so many “Christians” to reshape the meaning of what is recorded in the bible to support their own personal agenda. In effect, they are putting their own words in Gods mouth, or twisting what God has said and changing the true meaning! Think about that for a moment. It’s called spin. Do we really want to play that game with God?

What motivates people to substitute their “truth” for God’s truth? I believe the answer is ego. Pride gives people the audacity to think that they know better than God. After all, isn’t that what’s going on when someone changes the meaning of God’s truth? We all need the humility to accept God’s word as it stands, without any modifications. And it takes humility, especially when our personal feelings are in conflict with what God has stated. Instead of fighting the conflict and trying to eliminate it by changing God’s truth, we just need to humbly accept the conflict, and pray for help in dealing with it.

I fear for Mr. Laarman. He may find himself in front of Jesus some day, with Jesus saying, “I never knew you. Away from me you evildoer.” (Matthew 7:23)


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Another story of “Christian” ego

“State social workers were interviewing children who live at the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries just south of Texarkana.” The newspaper article mentioned nothing about actual evidence of any kind of abuse. What caught my attention in this article was the name of the compound being raided; the “Tony Alamo Christian Ministries.”

If I knew nothing about Christianity, I would be tempted to conclude, from the name of the ministry, that Christianity is all about drawing attention to yourself. The “Tony Alamo Christian Ministries;” – note whose name comes first.

Now I know nothing about Mr. Alamo. There’s not much information in the article attesting to his Christian faith; that is, it’s hard to tell what kind of a Christian he is. Yet the one statement I’ve quoted appears to tell me a lot. If I were to make an observation based on first impressions, I would say that Mr. Alamo has a sizeable ego, and that “his” ministry is more about him than about Jesus Christ. Now I realize I could be totally wrong here, since I know almost nothing about the daily workings of this ministry. But it’s hard for me to ignore the impact of the name.

I wonder what Jesus’ first impression might be, when observing the “Tony Alamo Christian Ministry.” Might He remind us of what John the Baptist said (see this post about John’s humility)…

“He (Jesus) must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30)

As Jesus himself said, “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)

I leave with this message to Mr. Alamo: Sir, I know nothing about who you are or where your heart is, other than by what you have named your ministry. Yet from that, I believe you have set yourself ahead of Jesus. Please prayerfully consider your heart and your motives, and your relationship with Jesus. And know this, those who humble themselves on earth, will be exalted in heaven. It’s the truth and a promise you can count on.


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John the Baptist – another lesson in humility

John went from being the main attraction, to being left in the dust. He went from having swarms of people flocking to him, listening intently to his message, and being baptized by him; to being almost forgotten in prison. How do you think he felt about this dramatic turn of events? Here’s how…

“I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” (Luke 3:16)

“He (Jesus) must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30)

Jesus must become greater; John must become less. Is this part of our prideful tendency, to seek greater attention for others?

We should all follow John’s example. It’s not about us; we should point the way to Jesus. That takes humility, but what a glorious humility it is.


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Win or Lose – It’s up to You

This is a story of two teenage girls. They lived in different parts of the country and had no way of knowing each other, yet they had this in common: they were both about to celebrate their 18th birthday. And they had another thing in common; they both had loving parents who wanted to help them celebrate their birthdays in a particular and coincidentally identical manner.

One day Jenna’s parents came to her and asked what she would like most for her birthday. Jenna knew the generosity of her parents, and so she excitedly told them that more than anything, she wanted her own car. It was then no surprise to her when they smiled and said, “Let’s go shopping for one.” Jenna spent the next several weeks leading up to her birthday dreaming about her new car. She knew exactly which car she was getting; they picked it out that very first day they went shopping. Yet the deal was she had to wait until her birthday before she could actually have it. She later reflected that the delay was kind of fun, in that it was a time filled with excited anticipation. She so enjoyed visualizing herself driving her car around town.

Becky, like Jenna, was offered a new car by her parents, for her birthday gift. Yet Becky’s response was totally different. Becky was not an unusual teenage girl, in that she could sometimes exhibit interesting and challenging moods. And on the day her loving parents offered her a brand new car for her birthday, Becky responded with disbelief, rather than joy and excitement. In fact, Becky told her parents directly that she just didn’t believe they would actually give her such an expensive gift. Becky’s parents had previously been excited about how Becky might respond, but now they were crushed and very disappointed. In the end, they decided not to give Becky the car. After all, since she really didn’t believe, why bother. Becky never saw the irony in the fact that she received exactly what she expected to receive – nothing.

What does this story have to do with the types of things I typically talk about on this blog? If you’ve read the past couple of posts, “Anything you want – just ask” and “Is God Santa Claus?“, you’ll see the connection.

I believe that Becky is a representation of most of us, in how we pray to God. Jesus told us to just believe that God will give us what we ask for, and it will be ours. Yet as I’ve mentioned before, sometimes it just seems too hard to believe that God would be so generous. We receive exactly what we expect to receive – nothing.

Our Father God is not unlike the two sets of parents in today’s story. He loves us and he wants to give us what we ask for. Yet He’s wiser than most parents. He will only give us what is good for us, what will help us grow and find true joy. So don’t expect God to give you a car that may offer you temporary happiness but no lasting joy. But PLEASE ask God for what you desire most, and know with certainty that as your most loving parent, He wants to give it to you, and He WILL give it to you, if you truly believe.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)


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Religion – the Root of all Evil?

“The time has come for people of reason to say: enough is enough. Religious faith discourages independent thought, it’s divisive, and it’s dangerous.” Richard Dawkins made this statement in his 2-part documentary entitled, “The Root of All Evil?”

Apply the power of Google if you want to find out more about Dawkins and his documentary. My intent here is to look further into the question about what is the root of all evil. Is it religion, as Dawkins professes, or something else?

It’s actually quit simple to disprove Dawkins. Just look at the amount of evil conducted NOT in the name of religion. The murderer who knows nothing of God or religion – just one such example breaks down Dawkins’ assertions.

Yet history is indeed full of evil conducted in the name of some religion. It’s happening all around us, everyday. So what does all evil have in common; both religiously motivated evil, and evil of other motivations?

Are you ready? The root of evil is not religion, or secularism, or even money. The root of all evil is pride.

What motivates the parent to abuse their child? A need to exert power, to exercise authority, to appear in control, ego, selfishness… pride. What motivates the dictator to murder his own people? The answer’s the same.

Why does the religious extremist set off a car bomb in a crowded marketplace? Because they are not willing to allow others to be different from them – agree with them or die. I’ve greatly simplified the issue here, for the sake of brevity. But it all boils down to selfish pride; if you don’t agree with me, you must be WRONG. The only difference between the extremists and most of the rest of us is that they assign a much more severe punishment for being “wrong”.

I could go through an exhaustive list of more examples, but I would rather invite you to come up with your own examples of evil acts. Look at each act and find the motivation. If you dig deep enough, in the bottom of that pit of evil you will find pride.

But to give Dawkins another chance, maybe religion is the root of pride? That could be possible. Using my religion of choice, let’s see what God and Jesus have to say about pride:

“To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.” (Proverbs 8:13)

“Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” (Proverbs 13:10)

“The Lord detests all the proud of heart.” (Proverbs 16:5)

“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” (Romans 12:16)

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)

“Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:4)

“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12)

Dawkins believes getting rid of religion will get rid of evil. What do you believe? Be careful not to let pride, selfishness, or arrogance motivate your answer.