Dear Church: Get rid of your guns!

In America, there are an estimated 357 million or more guns.

As Americans, we love guns as much as we love cars and apple pie.

"You'll have to pry my gun from my cold dead hands..." is an actual motto that comes off the lips of many.

This love for guns in our culture has permeated even the church.

This popular image above of a girl clinging to her gun and her Bible has become something of our witness as a church in America.  We should be disturbed by this. 

But many of us are not, and many of us even celebrate it, because we've got our thinking out of whack with Scripture, and we believe that the Second Amendment is something we should cherish and celebrate. To us, its ethos has come to rival just about anything Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount.

Don't misunderstand me, I'm not against the Second Amendment per say. I'm not interested in lobbying politicians to take away the rights our constitution gives us in America. I have serious doubts such would make things better, just as prohibition failed to make things better.

But what I am against 100% is our love for guns. 

Our love for guns is as terrible, if not more so, than our love for money.  And the Scriptures warn us against both. 

But as Americans, it seems we can never have enough guns or money, and we've created a bastardized form of Christianity in which we encourage the body of Christ to love and chase after both.

Guns, like money, are far from simply neutral tools. They are symbols that have the ability to transform our hearts if we are not careful to guard them.  Both can infect us with an unhealthy sense of pride, power, and security.  Both have the power to destroy lives and shatter community.

Some people don't believe we have a gun problem, and that it's simply a heart problem.  And in some sense, they are right. If you took away guns, people would simply resort to other means of killing people.  Cain murdered Able long before a gun was invented.

Such is indisputable.  But such is also naïve.

For the prophets, when they spoke about future things, they didn't merely talk about a time in the future when one day, people would simply have warm and fuzzy hearts that did nothing but bleed love and joy.

The prophets didn't envision a world in which we loved Jesus and also had a nice gun rack in our truck.

The prophets spoke of a day in which people's hearts would be so transformed, that they would also transform their weapons. 

The prophet Isaiah once said:
'Now it will come about that
In the last days
The mountain of the house of the Lord
Will be established as the chief of the mountains,
And will be raised above the hills;
And all the nations will stream to it.
And many peoples will come and say,
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord ,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
That He may teach us concerning His ways
And that we may walk in His paths."

For the law will go forth from Zion
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
And He will judge between the nations,
And will render decisions for many peoples;
And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they learn war. '

 ~ Isaiah 2:2-4 (NASB)
Isaiah spoke of the future, "in the last days" in which God's people would hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  They aren't a people who simply blamed mass shootings at schools on heart problems and were content to send up "thoughts and prayers."  They are a people of action who saw the dangers of owning a weapon, and believed they would be better off living without them, to the point where they transformed them into tools fit for nothing more than  working in a garden. They are a people who are not interested in defending themselves or waging war anymore.

Isaiah foresaw a prophetic community and a people who are keenly aware that hearts and weapons have a strange way of becoming tethered together in a way that transforms both. 

Weapons can shape our hearts, and in turn, our hearts shape our weapons.

A prophetic people blame not only the heart, but they blame the weapons that accompany that heart as well.  For when weapon and heart transform each other, it's not just a heart problem that we have, it's also a gun problem.

And if our hearts are rightly where God would have us be, as a prophetic community, we must disavow ourselves of a love for weapons, and instead, see them as instruments that need to be turned into tools used to nurture plants.

If we see guns as instruments for which we have the right to own in order to defend ourselves and our loved ones against evil forces and against tyrannical governments, then our understanding has become dull. 

We need to change that thinking, and see our guns as instruments that need to be transformed just as much as our hearts need to be transformed.

Unfortunately, few of us are there yet.  Many of us have a sick and unhealthy love for guns.  We'd sooner die and let our children die than to be found without a gun.

And to me such shows the truth that those who cherish owning guns often say...

Our hearts really are desperately wicked.

Yes... they most certainly are.  And that is what makes owning a gun so dangerous.

In Jesus name, get rid of your guns good people. 


Apologetics and Proving the Existence of God

I recently put together two videos discussing the proof of God's existence. 

In the first video, I look at the so-called "classical proofs" that people traditionally use to argue the existence of God.  However, as reasonable as these views might be, they have their logical limitations. 

I believe in God: But the "Proofs" of His Existence Suck:

After looking at the limitations of traditional apologetics that people use to prove the existence of God, I make a call for a more Biblical, Christ-centered, and Spirit-filled approach to apologetics. 

Proving the Existence of God through Jesus Christ Alone

Let me know your thoughts! I'd love to hear your feedback.


Perry Noble Talks at Elevation Church: An Open Message in Response to his Alcoholism

From a recent YouTube Video I just posted:

Former pastor Perry Noble recently spoke for Steven Furtick at Elevation Church only 7 months after being fired from New Spring church over his struggles with alcoholism.  This is an open message warning Perry Noble about the dangers he's facing, and the need for him to step down from all public ministry and church consulting work as he seeks to overcome and battle alcoholism and other life problems. 

Please prayerfully consider the qualifications of a minister found in 1 Timothy 3:1-15 (NASB)

1 It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. 2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. 4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity 5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), 6 and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. 7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

8 Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, 9 but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. 11 Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. 12 Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. 13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

14 I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; 15 but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.


Encouraged Enough

As American Christians, we are gluttons for encouraging words. 

And on any given Sunday, we are likely to hear a lot of them. 

Just put your faith in Jesus and He'll help you be more than a conqueror!  God's got your back just like He did when David slew Goliath!  You can overcome your troubles by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony!  God is the God of infinite supply, and just as Jesus multiplied the loaves and the fishes from some kid's lunch, so God too can take your little and turn it into a lot!  And if you just have enough faith, you can tell the mountains in your life to move, and they shall listen to you!  Just keep your eyes on Jesus, and you too can walk on water!

O boy! 

If you are like me, you probably know a thousand other such clichéd phrases and messages that center around such themes.  Which is all fine and good.  These sermons are perfectly Biblical, and who doesn't need a good pick-me-up every now and then? 

My only problem is that for many, this is just about all they ever hear week after week, year after year.  Which is pretty odd considering how "well off" we are in America compared to most other parts of the world.  Why are we always so down and out?  You would think we would truly be encouraged by now after all the wonderful messages we've heard.  It's almost like such words aren't really helping us out, and they aren't really transforming our lives.  At best they seem to help us cope.  Like a drug, they give us a fix, but always leave us coming back for more.

It is my contention that as American Christians we have heard enough encouraging words.  Indeed, if I go the rest of my life without hearing another sermon designed to pump me up, I will be good.  And the chances are, so would you.  I believe we have individually heard more sermons designed to encourage us than Jesus and all the apostles ever preached in all of their ministries combined. 

Instead of another weekly pep rally "ra-ra-ra" type speech that tries to build up our fragile self-esteem, to help us overcome our problems and our fears, and make us feel good about our odds of making it in a cruel and dangerous world, I believe we would do well to encourage people in other ways. 

I believe we need to encourage people to love more radically.

I believe we need to encourage people to treat others like they want to be treated.

I believe we need to encourage people to be kind to those who treat them harshly.

I believe we need to encourage people to turn the other cheek.

I believe we need to encourage people to practice hospitality.

I believe we need to encourage people to give to the needy.

I believe we need to encourage people to practice mercy towards those who have wronged them.

I believe we need to encourage people to think of others before thinking of themselves.

I believe we need to encourage people to look after the rights of the marginalized in our society.

Such preaching is not likely to get a super large following, and will probably keep many ministers working second jobs. 

But, I believe in my heart of hearts that if we would encourage people to do these things more and more, that is, simply living out the teachings of Jesus in our daily lives, then we would find ourselves suddenly equipped to deal with all the trials that come our way. 

Instead of needing to feel constantly lifted up week after week, and seeking out preachers who do nothing but that (i.e. the T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, and Steven Furtick's of the world), we would simply be able to encourage ourselves through the regular up and down rhythms of life.  Their never ending sermons about feel good stuff simply would not be needed, and we would find them magically "speaking to our lives" less and less. 

Instead, we would become like the psalmist, and would be able to speak to our own soul and encourage it whenever we hit the occasional rough patch.  And, instead of being in regularly need for a sermon that helps you cope for a few days, we would among those who can not only lift up our spirits, but we would also be among those who can truly strengthen the knees of those who are truly weak. 

That's not to say won't need the occasional reminder of how good God is, and how awesome His love is towards us, and how He can take us under the shadow of His wings, and protect us through even the harshest of storms. 

But such a thing will only be needed on special occasions. 

For through putting the teachings of Jesus to work in your life on a regular basis, you will form the character and the humble confidence necessary to live out your life with faith and boldness.  By putting the words of Jesus into action, you'll develop spiritual muscle, and the things that used to weigh you down, you will suddenly find you have the strength to carry on.  Instead, you will know how to live that abundant life that Jesus talked about, even when facing adversity.

So, if we are going to encourage each other all the more as the day of the Lord draws near, as Scripture teaches, let us encourage one another to do the things Jesus encourages us to do in our day to day lives.  We've had more than enough of the other type of encouragement.  And that kind of encouragement often leads us up a creek without a paddle.

So long as we have the opportunity, let us encourage one another to do good works.  And if we do those things, the rest will sort itself out quite naturally. 


Does God Care Who Wins the Super Bowl?

"Indeed, the very heads of your hair are all numbered..." (Luke 12:7; NASB)

Does God care who wins the Super Bowl?

Our gut reaction probably causes most of us to say "no." 

After all, why would God care about something that is ultimately so trivial?  It's just a game, after all. 

Or, maybe we say it's not about whether or not the game is ultimately trivial in nature.  In reality, we don't believe God cares about such things, because if He cared about such things, such might imply He is somehow involved in the outcome of the Super Bowl, or even the outcome of other things in this world.

That's where things get really dicey.

Such offends our modern sensibilities.  To this day, even after all the preaching done in the past couple thousand years on God being a God of love who cares for us, we still prefer to think of God as some distant cosmic landlord who doesn't really involve Himself in the outcome of all that much in this world. 

We are willing to believe that God had something to do with raising Jesus from the dead, or that He helped us get a recent job promotion at work... but the idea He might get involved at some level in something like the Super Bowl... such an idea is preposterous sounding.  I mean... if God is involved there, what if He were involved in outcome of things like the weather, national elections, the economy, and various cultural phenomenon?

But as preposterous sounding as it might be to some, I must say that in my heart of hearts that I believe that God does care about the outcome of the Super Bowl.  If God is so concerned about the most intimate details of our lives, and even bothers to number the very hair on our heads, then I can't help but believe He cares about the Super Bowl. 

If God has His eye on the sparrow, then you better believe He has His eye on the likes of the legendary (and infamous) quarterback Tom Brady.  And if God takes care to even clothe the grass of the field, you better bet He has His sovereign hand all over the NFL. 

Now, how you view the extent to which God is involved in the outcome of any given Super Bowl, or any other issue for that matter, will ultimately depend on where you stand in the entire spectrum of views in the free-will vs. sovereignty debate.  And I for one don't pretend to have an answer to that issue.  Go ask John Calvin and John Wesley about such questions if you want. 

But, what I do know for sure is that God cares!

He cares about everything that is happening in the world.  And just as there is not a single patch of grass in this world that is God forsaken, there is not a single Super Bowl that has escaped the attention of God.  And because God is God, He has the best seat in the house.  He knows for sure whether or not Tom Brady under inflated his footballs. 

And, just as God is involved in all of these things, so God is also involved in our lives.  Nothing that happens in your life happens apart from His notice.  If things are going well in your life, He's there with you, and likewise, if things aren't going so well in your life, He's there with you even in the midst of great loss and suffering. 

And no matter what your circumstance, God knows what you are going through, and He always stands by your side, willing to draw near to you and to intervene in your life, if you would just but call on His name.