Author Archive

Parents: Well-Meaning vs. Well-Doing

Posted in Uncategorized on October 27, 2011 by Todd M.

Who in your life wants the best for you more than your family, specifically your parents? Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, parents want to see their kids turn out well, be safe, protected and successful. What could be more loving than that? So in their efforts to help their kids with these things, parents will typically do whatever necessary to see this come to fruition. We call that well-meaning.

This most certainly trickles into Christian families as well considering that all of these well-meaning things have a “Christian” feel to them; at least from the surface. However, we must make sure that well-meaning is actually well-doing. The Word of God is our absolute authority, and everything we want for our lives and those we love must come directly from the Word of God for any good to take place.

I bring this up generally to get us thinking about how we might confuse well-meaning efforts will well-doing actions. However, I want to specifically talk about the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this regard. Every true believing parent wants their child to trust in Jesus Christ so as to avoid the wrath of God, as well as know the hope and peace that only Jesus Christ can offer. That is the epitome of well-meaning; there could be no greater desire for any parent to have for their child than for them to trust in Jesus Christ for salvation and to be adopted into the family of God for all of eternity. However, in our well-meaning efforts, I wonder, in fact, I know from working with young adults for the past several years now, that the Gospel is being watered down at a frightening rate within Christian families and churches. But let’s keep this focused on parents for the sake of this discussion.

I am not going to discuss the fact that the great majority of professing Christians in America are Gospel ignorant, but two-thirds of Americans profess to be Christians, it shouldn’t surprise us that most of who think they are Christians are nothing more than religious; just consider for a moment the moral state of our nation. However, let’s assume for the sake of the argument that most evangelical Christian parents know and live out the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even if that is true, and it’s highly unlikely, an enormous percentage of kids are coming to Christ at a very young age and then by the time they’re old enough to go to college, move out from their parents house and begin making their own decisions, most professing Christian young adults are pitching their faith along with many things their parents wanted for them. Hardly anyone wouldn’t admit that there’s a huge mess in this country in this demographic making college-age/young adult ministries absolutely vital. College ministry is the flavor of the week as many evangelical ministers and parents see this as a tremendous need.

Well, as I have seen this mess up close, I have noticed something alarming; those who profess to know and trust in Jesus Christ have little to no desire to follow Him with their lives. So what are we to assume? Well, our minds don’t want to let us go as far as to say that many of these young adults have a Gospel forgery, so we typically just say that they’re immature, just getting settled into life, or we’ll even go as far as to say that they’re “backslidden”. And our solution to such a problem is to get them hooked up to some sort of spiritual life support during this time in their life. If we can get them into a church, get them involved in a Bible study, or get them around “good, Christian” influences, then they’ll certainly either stay on track, or get back on track very quickly, and then we’ll see some sort of “Christian” activity that will calm our hearts and put our minds at ease. Of course these young adults are still saved; they just need extra spiritual support during this time; right? Wrong! Now a blanket statement here would be taking this too far, but from what I have seen and what many of my colleagues see is that many of these young adults may not have any spiritual life in them whatsoever. Yikes! How can this be?

Let’s take look at the typical Gospel presentation that parents are feeding their kids. “You’re a sinner, God will judge sinners in hell and the only way to avoid that and to go to Heaven is to accept Jesus Christ, ask Him into your heart and ask Him to save you from your sins.” The whole Gospel presentation takes no more than 5 minutes and the one prayer to accept Christ takes about 1-2 minutes at most. But is that the Gospel? The Word of God doesn’t back that up. In fact, there is no example in the Word of God where anyone, including Jesus Himself puts this forward as the Gospel; but sadly, this is the typical approach to getting our kids to accept Jesus Christ.

I guess we use that verse from Jesus in Matthew 18 which tells us that we must become like little children if we want to enter the Kingdom of God. So who better to enter the Kingdom of Heaven than those who are already little children? So yes, faith is simple; when we try to attach any sort of works to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we pervert the Gospel and proclaim a lie. However, just because faith is simple and easy enough for a child to have, it doesn’t mean that getting faith is simple, because it’s not; it requires the supernatural power of God. That’s why the majority will spend an eternity apart from the presence of God. If trusting in Jesus Christ was as simple as saying a little prayer, then of course we could get the majority to do this. The problem is, that’s not the Gospel that the Word of God depicts. And most children who accept the Gospel are accepting this version of the Gospel which has the power to save no one.

Well-meaning parents want their children safe, especially eternally from the wrath of God upon sinners, but when the Gospel becomes about man instead of about loving God, then we are perverting something that is so beautiful and powerful that the devil has been seeking to pervert it since the beginning of time.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ involves repentance of sin, true faith in Jesus Christ alone and a life-long devotion to Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives. This takes a simple faith that only God can give, but let us not assume that we can manipulate our kids into accepting this in 5 minutes and one prayer when God must send the power of His Holy Spirit upon a person and take their dead, dried bones and supernaturally breathe spiritual life into their soul. Many children have trusted in Jesus Christ and many more will, but even a greater number have said a prayer, gone to church with their parents and abided by family values until the time they’re able to rebel from all of that and live the way they want to.

We must seek God in constant prayer for the salvation of our kids and take the time necessary to proclaim the holiness of God, His hatred on sin, the repentance of that sin, and true faith in Jesus Christ – and do so as long as it takes until God, by His Spirit breathes the life into them that will supernaturally change the desires of their heart and make them desire Jesus Christ above all else. That is both well-meaning and well-doing. To God be the glory!

The Growing Bacteria in Stagnant Water

Posted in Uncategorized on July 30, 2011 by Todd M.

I have to admit, there are a couple TV shows I still enjoy, although it’s getting extremely hard to even turn the T.V. on these days while pursuing after Christ and His holiness. However, one show I really enjoy is called, “Man vs. Wild”. I am not naive enough to think that everything the man does on that show is actually as we see it, but it’s entertaining none the less. The host, Bear Grylls gives advice along the way as he encounters all the struggles he faces in the particular wilderness that he happens to be at.

One piece of advice that I’m sure I’ll remember if I’m ever trapped in the wild is one that he mentions quite frequently – “never drink from stagnant water.” Bear often has to find his own water source in the wild as he doesn’t bring any water with him. So he’s always on the lookout for a good source of water. However, as thirsty as one may get in the most dire of situations in the wild, Bear advises us (like we’ll ever be in these situations), never to drink water that is not flowing, as it will most certainly hold dozens of parasites and bacteria that will only put the one seeking water in a much more harmful situation, especially without medical attention.

On the contrary, in most circumstances, water that is flowing is safe to drink as bacteria simply has no time or opportunity to grow and infect it. So it got me thinking – isn’t that a great parallel to the Christian life? When we, as Christians aren’t moving toward Jesus Christ and the holiness that He provides, we are like stagnant water – our hearts and lives begin to grow sin, probably at a rate we don’t even want to consider.

It makes perfect sense when you begin to think about it, because all of Satan’s attacks in our lives are to get us to stop moving forward. He uses fear of the unknown, distractions of the world, busyness of life, sinful desires that weigh us down, and guilt to get us to feel unworthy to be anywhere near the holiness of Jesus Christ. Satan himself knows that if he can halt our progress to the life and cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, then the victory will be his. Sin can’t help but grow in the life of a sinner when they’re not moving toward the refuge and righteousness of Jesus Christ.

On other hand, when a person recognizes their own filth and makes the decision (by the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit) to run after Jesus Christ, sin begins to leave their life, because, not only does sin not have the time and opportunity to grow and infect, but the very holiness of Jesus Christ wipes clean any stain that might linger.

Perhaps you’re thinking, well it sounds good, but where is there scriptural evidence for such a theory? Well, you might be surprised how much God’s Word uses a picture of a race when referring to the Christian life (Hebrews 12:1-2, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27), or it tells us to STRIVE for life (Luke 13:24, Hebrews 4:11), or even cast off the weights in our life so we can move forward to Christ and holiness. Even Jesus Himself tells to come after Him and renounce anything that would hold us back from doing so (Luke 14:25-35).

Let us take Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 and not just move our arms and legs about so as to create the illusion of movement, but to actually run after the One refuge, safety, and source of all eternal holiness and righteousness; Jesus Christ. HE is the only One who can save us, cleanse us and make us like God.

Oh, Christian, do not listen to the constant lies of the devil that tell you that you are already safe if you’ve been saved, you must keep moving! “STRIVE for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14 The proof that we are saved is that we’re moving closer and closer to Christ and producing more and more of His holiness. Safety is purely in the arms of Jesus Christ, and a stagnant approach to going after Him will produce the most vile, filthiest things we could ever imagine.

RUN, STRIVE, SPRINT to Jesus Christ every morning, every afternoon and every evening, it is the only way we will not produce the works of darkness and the works of the flesh that God says He will condemn everyone who lives such a way.

This is not a game, it’s a matter of eternal life and death. May Jesus draw you near, may the Holy Spirit guide and direct you to Jesus, and may prayer and God’s Word be your sword and shield in the fight for holiness.

The Two Most Unlikely Fiery Darts of the Devil

Posted in Uncategorized on July 5, 2011 by Todd M.

 

It’s a daily truth; Christians are under spiritual attack from Satan and his workers. Ephesians 6 tells us to put on the full armor of God so that we may stand against Satan’s deceits and schemes. Those of us who have been Christians for most of our lives are sometimes able to see some of these traps and snares that Satan sets for us. He likes using what is effective, even if it’s repetitive.

 

 Perhaps when we imagine some of these traps, we think of those times when we were especially weak or living by the flesh that Satan was able to entice us with sin; and, although he certainly does that as well, most often, that is not his game.  Satan is called “the deceiver” for a reason. He likes to take things that have the appearance of good and use them for evil. Why? Simple – they’re extremely effective and have long term results.

 

Two of his favorite fiery darts that he seems to use time and time again are not “traps” or “snares” at first glance. In fact, they both have a morsel of truth within them. Ah, but that’s where the deception lies.

 

 Let’s take a short look at them. The first dart is the trap of self-righteousness; or what we like to term “legalism”. Yes, it’s an ugly word. We immediately begin to think of stuffed-shirt prudes who take themselves way too seriously and command that others follow rules, regulations and conducts to remain spiritual. They get caught up in styles of music, dress codes, translations of the Bible, etc.

 

 Oh, but make no mistake, self-righteousness goes far beyond that. It can simply be our tendency to feel good about ourselves throughout a day because we spent time with God in His Word and prayer, or because we took that opportunity to share the Gospel instead of keeping it to ourselves. It could even be that sin that we said “no” to that we now find reason to boast about. Whatever it is, if it’s not done for our pure desire to love and serve Jesus Christ because of the love and full righteousness we’ve received, it’s filthy – and Satan knows it. However, when we are attacked by this fiery dart, it’s not packaged as “legalism”, but as “holiness”.

 

 Before we look at where this line is drawn, let us look at the 2nd fiery dart – rebellion or worldliness. Well, of course we know that’s a trap, right? No true Christian can live a life of rebellion or worldliness; we’re clear on that. Certainly that can’t be a subtle trap of the devil. Oh, but it is, because it’s not packaged to us as “worldliness” or “rebellion”; it’s presented to us as “grace”. Grace? How can that be? That’s a can’t-miss concept.

 

 Well, when grace is defined correctly it is, but when grace simply becomes our “way out” of condemnation, and worldliness becomes the pattern for our life; then grace becomes distorted and perverted. And many times, the fuel for living a worldly lifestyle is the hatred for legalism; and so, in our efforts to flee legalism, we swing the pendulum all the way over to the world and to our own desires and comforts, instead of to the only Source of refuge and righteousness – Jesus Christ.

 

 You see the danger in these weapons? They come to our door packaged as grace and holiness, but when we open them up and sink our teeth into them, we begin to realize that we just ate the apple of pride – the very same apple that Satan got Eve to eat. Then the real damage begins; Satan uses these darts over and over and over because, in our eyes, they’re not seen as a trap, but as a well-meaning lifestyle.

 

 Must we live by grace alone? Without question. Must we live holy, separate lives? No doubt whatsoever. But neither of them is done by looking unto us; they’re done only by looking unto Jesus alone. He is our holiness, He is our grace. The only way God withholds His judgment from us is because of the righteousness and refuge of Jesus Christ our Lord. So, when righteousness is dependent upon us – it makes a mockery of the cross of Christ, and when grace gives us fuel to live any way we desire and we stop fearing God, then we aren’t living by grace at all, but by our own flesh – whose very heart is so corrupt that we cannot begin to understand it.

 

 May we always watch out for these two fiery darts of the evil one and may we always be looking unto Jesus Christ for true grace and true holiness, so that God the Father may be glorified. 

“Concert Christianity” by Don Jackson

Posted in Uncategorized on June 10, 2011 by Todd M.

“Concert Christianity”

I love a good concert! I enjoy a quality stage and light show, and some really loud music (probably why I’m going deaf). I am a fan of many Christian bands. However, I have a growing concern about how the Gospel is being presented at some “Big Events” and even a greater concern about the invitations which tend to follow.

Recently, I witnessed a tragedy. A Christian artist/speaker spent over an hour rocking out the house with some great music then gave a five minute “Gospel” message to a house full of teens that went something like this: “How many of you have ever been hurt by a parent or a friend?” Everyone raised their hands. “I want to introduce you to someone who changed my life and helped my hurts.His name is Jesus!” Loud applause. “You need Jesus. If you want Jesus then repeat this prayer.” The artist led the audience in the “sinner’s prayer” and then invited anyone who prayed the prayer back stage for autographs and a “New Believer Kit”.

I was devastated! I’m sure the artist meant well and really thinks he is leading hundreds of teens to Jesus on a weekly basis. He needs to realize that many Millenials are confused spiritually and will readily accept anything and everything including opposing religious thoughts. In other words, Millenials may accept Jesus right along with Zen Buddism and Hedonism. If they think it might help, they’ll take it.

We need to be careful to present the Gospel clearly and fully and when we give an invitation, we must do better than, “Repeat this prayer after me”. A good invitation should include repentance for forgiveness of sin (Luke 13:3, 5) and to receive Christ alone (John 14:6), by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), through faith alone (Acts 16:31).

There is nothing wrong with great Christian entertainment. I have great respect for artists who clearly present the Word. But the Gospel is literally a matter of eternal life and death and should not be a short tag on to a great performance.

For More information: donj.vfy@gmail.com

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

Posted in Uncategorized on June 6, 2011 by Todd M.

We had a study this past Sunday night from Romans 1, and the first question on our study sheet was “Define the Gospel”. So it got me thinking; how well do I know the Gospel?

SO, I want to take some time and define the Gospel  as best as I can from the Word of God, and see if it’s the Gospel we claim to know today, and I would like your help in doing this project, Christian. Please let me know if I have left something out, and then let’s take this message to the world! Let’s get started…

The Gospel of Jesus Christ:

– God is holy and righteous (okay, please don’t breeze past this – dwell upon it, search it out. We could spend forever on this topic and not even come near to covering it, but it is the very first step of the Gospel, so we must understand this)

– Man is utterly sinful (same as above) aka – “Dead in our sins” – Ephesians 2. They both inherited their sin from the first man who ever lived, Adam, they have broken all of God’s commands and live in complete contradiction to His will. 

– God detests sin and cannot look at it or have any relationship with it whatsoever. He MUST punish the lawbreaker – aka, we are “children awaiting wrath” – Ephesians 2

– God loves mankind (John 3:16)

– God is rich in mercy (Ephesians 2)

– God loves His own glory (since there is nothing greater to glory in) and desires to exalt His magnificent grace to all creation (Ephesians 2) ***VITAL TO THIS WHOLE PLAN OF SALVATION, GOD DOES IT FOR HIMSELF***

– God sent His Son, Jesus Christ (Who is the EXACT representation of God’s being – Hebrews 6) to humble Himself, become flesh, live a perfect, holy and righteous life, do God’s will every moment of His life, love God with all His heart, soul and strength, fulfill God’s law, teach about God’s will and His plan for salvation, set the example for loving and serving others…

– And then give His life on a cross and take upon Himself all the sins of God’s elect, past, present and future, and be seen in God’s eyes as the lawbreaker and then because of that, be crushed and destroyed by God’s wrath until He died on the cross, as God turned His back on His Son and separated Jesus from the fellowship of His Heavenly Father. 

– Then 3 days after His death, Jesus arose from the grave and conquered death and sin all at once. 

– Man, therefore, cannot find or attain righteousness on his own by accomplishing God’s law. Because of sin, we are incapable of the perfect holiness that God demands for avoiding eternal condemnation, having a relationship with God, and being allowed entrance into Christ’s eternal Kingdom. 

– Man must recognize their own state of sinfulness, admit they’re the lawbreaker, understand and affirm that they cannot get to God by their own works, and repent of their sins and place faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation by crying out to God until He grants them mercy, forgiveness, repentance and faith through Jesus Christ, so they might attain Christ’s righteousness, be forgiven from their sins, avoid God’s wrath, be reconciled to God and be allowed entrance into Christ’s eternal Kingdom. 

– When a person trusts in Christ for salvation, God indwells them with His Holy Spirit who permanently seals them in God’s eternal family, guarantees to their own spirit their salvation, and guides and directs them all their lives to turn away from sin and strive for holiness. 

– Man must become a new creature as a result of this transformation; it’s called regeneration. They cannot stay the same sinful person they once were. If this transformation does not take place, and they do not become haters of sin and lovers of holiness, then salvation has not taken place. They must cry out to God for His mercy, forgiveness, repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, and do so until He saves them.

– As a result of regeneration and salvation through Jesus Christ, man’s life now belongs to Jesus Christ. They must and will constantly deny themselves, die to themselves, and grasp the value of Jesus Christ and look to Him, crave to know Him and His love greater and greater, and be willing to do anything for His sake, even to the point of physical death – due to the fact that they are eternally safe in God’s arms through Christ. If this does not happen, then true regeneration and salvation has not taken place. They must cry out to God for His mercy, forgiveness, repentance of their sin and faith in Jesus Christ, and do so until He truly saves them. 

– Because of the fact that man will be washed clean by the blood of Christ, and be released from the bondage of sin at the moment of salvation, they will go on to produce the fruits of righteousness in their lives, which they were once unable to do. They will begin imitating Jesus Christ in their minds and actions and begin loving those around them and caring nothing for their own regard. If this doesn’t begin to take place, true salvation hasn’t taken place. 

– Man will always, always look to Jesus and care very much that His Name is being exalted among the nations, so that others might come to Him for salvation and righteousness. They will give their lives for it. Their life now belongs to Jesus Christ and God’s will for their lives. Whatever He desires for them, they will follow. If they don’t, true salvation has not taken place. 

– Their faith MUST endure and persevere through trials, testings, suffering and persecution, which will all come against the believer at some point in their lives. If they abandon their faith and Jesus Christ, true salvation hasn’t taken place and they are awaiting the wrath of God. If their faith doesn’t endure until their very last breath, they should expect to face God’s wrath for their sins. They MUST abide in the protection of Jesus Christ, there is no other refuge! ***GOD WILL HOLD ALL TRUE BELIEVERS TO HIMSELF THROUGH JESUS CHRIST BY HIS OWN POWER, NOTHING CAN SEPARATE THEM FROM HIS LOVE*** Only the imposters will fall away.

– Not only will God grant eternal life to those who are righteous in Jesus Christ, He will also grant them peace, hope and joy that will surpass all understanding and will make the world awe at their confidence and boldness in their faith. God will also take care of EVERY ONE of their needs until their very last breath on earth, so that their one job is to do God’s will and love and serve Jesus Christ all the days of their lives. 

– When man boasts thereafter, they will only boast in Jesus Christ and God’s wonderful grace in their lives.