The king we want. The king we get. The King we need.

MeI’m wrapping up our church youth group classes in the coming week, and we are ending our Old Testament study where Israel demands a king. The timing is interesting .

Every four years, we have an opportunity to select a new president. Since current President Barack Obama is ending his second term, he cannot run again.

Just like the people in Samuel’s day, which you can read about in 1 Samuel 8, the people demand certain things from their incoming leader. Samuel’s sons had become corrupt leaders of the nation. They took bribes for political favors. They perverted justice through the power of their office as leaders. Hmm, this is starting to sound familiar. Didn’t we just read something similar in yesterday’s newspaper?

So, the elders of Israel met with Samuel and ask that he appoint a king over them. He didn’t like the idea, but God told him to go along with it because the people were rejecting God, not Samuel. Again, this sort of sounds hauntingly familiar.

saul_tallSo, Samuel warns them one more time that the king would conscript their sons for the military, mistreat them, raise their taxes, and so on. Yet, the people said they still wanted a king so they could be like the other nations around them, and have a king so he could go out and fight their battles.

We really haven’t learned anything in the past few thousand years. The populism of Donald Trump or the liberal/socialist support for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders is proof. People still want leaders to fight their battles for them.

 

  • You don’t like the massive influx of immigrants – vote for Trump; he’ll fight it for you.
  • You don’t like the high cost of colleges – vote for Bernie; he’ll make it free for you.
  • You say everyday Americans need a champion – vote for Hillary.
  • You uphold the Constitution word-for-word – vote for Ted Cruz; he’ll defend it for you.

Christians today may want some or all of these things, but should we not compare what we want with what God wants for us? How often do we seek the will of the Creator for His creation?

Just like the Israelites, we look around at what the world has – better healthcare, better education, better government, better lifestyle – and we whine “me want that.”  So, we cherry pick the verses out of the Bible that match what we want to say. Or, we find a translation that makes it sound like we want it to sound. If all the people who claim the name of Christ really and truly mean it, they should all be on their knees and faces seeking His will.

But, we don’t.

Just like the Israelites, we think that we’ll solve our own problems.

  • Politicians hurt America, so we’ll elect a better politician.
  • Lack of religion is hurting America, so we’ll storm the Seven Mountains to create heaven on Earth.
  • Education, finances, jobs are hurting America, so we’ll legislate heavier and heavier laws until the problem is fixed.

Samuel warns the people that when they get fed up with their own way of fixing the problem (asking for a new king), they will cry out to God, but he will not answer – because they have gone too far.Tozer accept the world

Later in the Old Testament, we see the Kings of Israel and Judah were just as much a judgement of God on His people as the enemies that surrounded them. So, when we get Trump or Hillary or whomever, just remember that the new king may be just as bad as the old one. Until Americans give up trying to fix this through new leaders, new programs, or new anything, we won’t really fix a thing. We have to turn our eyes from the king and keep them on our King.

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What I really think about posts that try to make me click through

I hate them. Just tell me what you want to say, and if I agree with you I will like it, share it, and maybe go read more of what you say on your website, blog, Twitter feed, or other social media posts.

Sheesh.

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Why I’m not buying into ‘Heaven is for Real’

The newest Christian movie hits the screen in a few days – ‘Heaven is for Real.’ Since I haven’t read the book, I decided to check it out from my local library. I’m on a waiting list 40 deep. Still, without reading the book, I can tell you why I’m not buying into the whole story, and won’t be going to see the ‘true’ story.

It’s not true.   720x450-hs-2005-37-a-full_jpg

The boy’s tale is  heartfelt enough, but there is so much inconsistency that it would be laughable to a Christian follower of a few decades ago.

The rainbow horse, the multicultural imagery, the winged humans and so on make the movie resemble something more out of ‘Barbarella’ than our true Heaven. It certainly doesn’t match up with the Bible. What little faith we have in Scripture to believe the fanciful dreams of a child.

I know dreams can seem real. I know because I too had a dream as a child. I didn’t dream about heaven. I dreamed of a wolf.

I was only a few years old. The cause of the dream was precipitated earlier in the day, while I was outside playing at my grandparent’s house. I heard a commotion down the hill. The neighbors were out in their driveway watching a dog run through their yard.

I didn’t think anything about it at the time, but, that night, in the quiet of my dreams, a different animal appeared.

I relived the afternoon. The neighbors were down below. The dog was in the yard. Suddenly, it looked around and  stood up on it’s hind legs. It began talking to them in a human voice.

It became a wolf, akin to the drawings on Egyptian pottery. It’s eyes glowed as it talked to the neighbors. A young man came out of the house. He stood before the creature.

The beast said something to it, and the glowing eyes turned red. Suddenly, it opened it’s mouth and leaned over the young man, inhaling him as he screamed. I stood stock still. The wolf’s feast ended. Suddenly, it sniffed and started looking around. Before I could duck down, it turned one of the red glowing eyes to look directly at me.

I woke up.

I didn’t think much about it after that – it was just a dream. Months later, I would have a different dream. I was in my grandparent’s house, and it was night-time, and I had to go to the bathroom. I went in, turned on the light and started to walk over to the toilet, nestled in the corner under the bathroom window. The curtains had been tucked back to let the earlier sunshine in, and no one had closed them. I saw movement and I looked to the window. A red glowing eye appeared and I saw the brown muzzle of the wolf-creature leering in it at me.

“I’m outside,” it said, and shuffled away from the window.

I woke up.

I didn’t remember the dream until later in the day when I saw the open curtains in the bathroom. The wolf might be out there, I thought.

To me, the wolf was real. It lived down the hill, and knew I knew about it. Every time I was at their home, there was a momentary panic when I went into that bathroom and saw the curtains open.

Flash forward to years later. I was visiting again, and soon found myself standing atop the hill, looking down at the neighbors. They were out in the driveway, watching a dog run across the yard. It was a German Shepherd. It played and ran around the family. It ran up to one of the teens and stood on its hind-legs. My heart skipped a beat or two and I watched it move toward the boy. It opened it’s mouth …. and began licking him in playful joy.

I stepped back from the precipice with a smile on my face. It wasn’t a wolf after all.  It was just a dog. All those years of frightful visits in the bathroom fled away from me. The wolf-creature wouldn’t bother me again – in real life or in dreams. My fear had transformed to joy, because the adult I was becoming realized the truth behind the fanciful story cooked up by a young boy with a very active imagination.

Sadly, though, the tale doesn’t have such a happy ending. Even though my personal wolf has faded into distant memory. There are still wolves out there – and many of them are showing up right inside our church doors.

Check out these other reviews

Phil Johnson from Grace to You in a 2010 post called “The Burpo-Malarkey Doctrine”

“No true evangelical ought to be tempted to give such tales any credence whatsoever, no matter how popular they become. One major, obvious problem is that these books don’t even agree with one another. They give contradictory descriptions of heaven and thus cannot possibly have any cumulative long-term effect other than the sowing of confusion and doubt.

But the larger issue is one no authentic believer should miss: the whole premise behind every one of these books is contrary to everything Scripture teaches about heaven.”

Tim Challies, 2012, “Heaven Tourism”

We have no reason to look to another person’s experience of heaven in order to prove that heaven is real or hell is real. The Bible promises blessings on those who do not see and yet believe. Our hope is not to be in the story of a minister or toddler or doctor or anyone else who insists they have been to heaven; our hope is to be in Jesus Christ as God has graciously revealed him to us in the Bible. Faith is believing that what God says in his Word is true and without error. You dishonor God if you choose to believe what the Bible says only when you receive some kind of outside verification. You dishonor God if you need this kind of outside verification.”

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Patient Christian and Dead Pastors Society

Hi, just a quick update to let you know that my blog has been picked up by the fine folks over at Dead Pastors Society. My first blog for the new site “Christians and Funerals” was posted Friday.

You can check it out here.

I’ll still be posting here in between blogs at DPS. They are a great group of guys, so if you don’t know about them check them out, save an RSS of the site, and start following us over there.

For now, I’ll leave you with this:

1Cor 6:2-3

Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!

Please use discernment in this life, so you are not deceived. I plan to do a series of blogs on discernment, so stay tuned to Dead Pastors Society for more details.

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Mourning in America? Not likely

My friends and family don’t understand why I have been increasingly mournful over the recent political elections. They say I should just “get over it.”

What they don’t get is that our lives took a dramtic and costly turn in this election. We cannot go back to bury our heads in the ground as if everything is okay. We cannot ignore the immense significance of what happened 11/06/12 – a date of true infamy if there ever is one.

Secular press and the G0d-haters got it, and described it as “a tipping point” in America. Meanwhile, the people from the pews sipped their lattes and sang their “joy in the Lord” songs on the way to work with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads as if life was the same Nov. 7 as it was the day before.

They let the single-most significant event of our modern Christian history pass by without blinking an eye.

Confused? This devastation of an election is one giant leap forward to the end times spelled out in Revelation and other chapters in the Bible. It’s easy to say we believe those end times are near, but when you start to see the sudden birth-pangs lived out in front of your eyes, it is a sobering wake up call.

Many Christian leaders have already been warning that God is withdrawing His hand of grace and mercy from America. We see that in Romans 1:18-32, where pe0ple are given over to the evil they so desire. We can easily see this unrighteousness in not only the people that were elected, but the measures that were passed in the individual states – and people cheered as it happens.

“But those are the pagans, we expect them to act that way,” people say.

That doesn’t mean we support it. Millions of Americans were praying that God would be merciful on America, and withhold his judgment on a nation that is turning its back on Him. We begged God for one more chance to try to fix the problems that we allowed to happen. He chose not to listen to us, and go ahead with His righteous judgment. The depth of what that means is staggering. America has gone from turning its back to God, to blatantly shaking its fist toward Him.

Yes, we know that He is in control, and we rejoice in that fact. But it is still a bitter pill to swallow. We have to sit on the sidelines and watch as America continues to slide into depravity. We have to sit by and watch as our salt and light becomes even more muted, because the world sees Nov. 6 as validation for their unrighteousness. They are overjoyed, while we mourn.

Well, most of us.

What is amazing is today’s body of believers (The Church) is so focused on fun and joy and peace that they don’t see what has happened. James 4:9-10  should be the watchwords of the day – yet people choose to ignore the discernment of the Spirit.

That probably should come as no big surprise. After all, The Church embraces the heresy of those who teach you create your own joy and best life. We love those who tell us that we find salvation when we do good things for others.

But, this is American Christianity today. Sunday, millions of Americans will drive to their House of Worship for a breakfast of doughnuts and coffee or hot chocolate. They’ll sing and sway and think life is grand. They’ll hear a few jokes, get an encouraging message that tells them to keep living for tomorrow by helping someone today. They’ll leave thinking God loves them because they are special and rush home to get back to their lives enjoying football and Gossip Girl and reality TV – all the while ignoring the spiritual reality that they should be proclaiming from the rooftops.

  • God is judging America.
  • That judgment will be severe.
  • Many will not survive that judgment.

And never forget, we were there to see it begin.

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Time, well spent

There is nothing more effective, more productive than time spent with . . .

You fill in the blank.

Over the course of the last few months, God has been teaching me that time is the key ingredient for improving ___________. That blank can be filled in by such words as:
Relationships
Knowledge
Wisdom
Friendships
Self
Others
. . . and so on.

The Adversary loves it when we get soooo busy, we lose time for other things.

Bible study, for instance. We often find ourselves “rushed” in the morning, busy in the afternoon and “exhausted” at night. Our Bible-reading and prayer time are often the casualties in our struggle with time.

And the Adversary quietly chuckles to himself.

If we want to improve in anything, we have to be willing to spend time with it.

You can’t learn a foreign language by taking shortcuts, hoping hand gestures or yelling louder can get you by. You have to immerse yourself in the language, the culture.

But, often we find ourselves taking the shortcuts when it comes to knowing God’s word. We try memory tricks or special reading plans in hopes of getting the job done. Yet nothing can teach you as to exactly what the Bible says, as spending hour upon hour reading it.

My wife and I first met when we were teens. As we began dating, we started spending more time together, or talking on the phone. Over the hours of talking, we got to know each other. We were learning about the things that were deeper than skin and physical attractiveness.

Imagine a dating relationship where the couple treated each other the way we treat God’s Word. Phone conversations would last only a few minutes. Time face-to-face would be self-focused, with little or know inquiry about the other person. The couple would claim to know each other and be in a relationship, but if queried about the other’s viewpoints or moral compass, the couple could give few answers.

No, time is the key. We must shun the gimmicks of this world and make that quality time with God and His Word.

Minutes translate into maturity – the kind that the author of Hebrews talks about in Hebrews 5:12-13.

As we develop that maturity, we start to learn what choice God wants us to make. Since we know His prioritites, we are able to make right choices that bring glory to Him.

Our battle cry for 2013 should be “maturity, not milk”. Let’s guard our time and choose to give it God. It’s the only way we will grow closer to Him.

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Is my smartphone sinful?

I never thought about my desire for new technology as being sinful (well, except for a waste of money).

But, Tim Challies does an excellent job of expounding on this commentary about new technology as a lifestyle. We do sometimes fall into this trap, and it is having an even greater effect on our children.

How sad that we allow ourselves to buy into the lie that we “need” this stuff to define ourselves.

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