Sunday, December 9, 2012

What a man desires is unfailing love; Proverbs 19:22a

I went downtown yesterday in hopes of finding a brother in Christ on the streets who needed encouragement.  I found one.  I'll call him Steve.

He grew up as the older of three brothers.  They went to church and had a pretty normal childhood.  Until he was about ten years old.  His dad was unfaithful and left the mom with the children.  This caused Steve to hate men for quite some time.  His mother was a strong woman, having been raised on a farm in Wyoming.  She taught her boys to be tough.

As I was talking to him, and listening to him, I hadn't yet had the opportunity to find out about his relationship with the Lord.  About 15 minutes into our conversation, a street pastor that he knew walked up on us and joined the conversation.  I didn't wait much longer before asking Steve if he had ever asked Jesus to be his Savior.  He had.

After more discussion, I realized the problem he was having was understanding who he was in Christ, and what that meant.  He didn't know about God's unfailing love for him as a result of his being included in Christ.  So the pastor and I talked to him for a while concerning this, sharing pertinent Scripture with him, and he was being encouraged. 

A few minutes later, a young lady and her boyfriend walked by us.  She posed for her boyfriend to take a picture, and Steve noticed what was written on her t-shirt:  His love endures forever.  Steve was getting the hint.  God was pursuing him.  Not to make him His own, he already was.  But to help Steve to understand what was already true.  God's love for him was unfailing.

I know this experience will turn out well for Steve.  God has already shown me what He can do in a person's life when that person comes to realize the promises we have in Christ.  And the most important promise all of God's children have is His unfailing love. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Their Protection is Gone

As my wife and I read through the Scriptures, specifically the account of the Jews in the desert marching around the land of Canaan, I can't help but wonder if I see a similar pattern happening today in America.  In recent years, when catastrophes happen, we will periodically hear pastors and preachers on television say that these are God's judgments on our country.  This usually brings a public outcry.  But are they right?  If they are, we need to be paying attention and finding out what we can do.

Paul writes in Romans 15:4, "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."

So what can we find in Scripture that was written in the past that could teach us today and bring us hope?  One of the things I've found is what was happening to the Canaanites, what choices they had, and what choices do we have.

In Leviticus chapter 18, verses 24 and 25, after God had given the Jews a long list of  "don'ts" concerning sexuality, He says to the Jews, "Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled.  Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.

And we find in Numbers chapter 14 verse 9, after the 12 Jewish spies came back from spying out the land of Canaan, Joshua and Caleb said to the people, "And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up.  THEIR PROTECTION IS GONE, but the LORD is with us."

Now, no matter how much the uproar may be, the fact is that our country is full of immorality.  It's undeniable.  There is pornograpy, adultery, homosexuality, sex and sexual inuendos on television, etc.  It's widely accepted. 

The Canaanites saw the judgement of God approaching them for 40 years and had every opportunity to repent.  The Scriptures even teach that the the Canaanites were fearful of what was coming.  They saw the miracles of God in the desert.  They saw God protecting His people.  Yet they refused to repent.

In recent years we have been seeing major events and catastrophies happening to our country.  Thousands have been killed.  2 major cities have been devestated, as well as surrounding communities.  Are these events chance, or is God warning us? 

One more point:  from what I have read in Scripture, God has never judged a nation that was walking with Him.

So we have a choice to make.  Will we refuse to see what is really happening, or will we repent and get back to our Christian roots.  Will God return His protection, or will we lose it.  It's time for us to wake up.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Mormonism in the Spotlight

In recent weeks and months opportunity has been given to put Mormonism in the spotlight.  Many are asking questions, some are trying to give answers.  I guess the person I have been listening to a lot would be Glenn Beck.  I have listened to him slip in a little Mormon doctrine here and there and recently he did a show on it to try and answer some questions.

I guess the question I would ask, I hope respectfully,  is what foundation is Mormonism based on? 

Jesus said in Matthew 7:24-27, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

What both of these scenarios have in common is that the storm came.  One house survived, one didn't.  And the foundations here are the Word of God, or something that is not the Word of God.

Again, what foundation is Mormonism based on?  Rock or sand?  And before anyone thinks I'm trying to pick on Mormons, we should all know that our foundation needs to be on the rock.  Or we won't survive the coming storm.

It occured to me a few days ago as I was thinking about doing this post that in order to introduce something that is contrary to the truth, you first have to sideline or discredit the truth.  We see the first example of this in Genesis 3:1-5, Now the Serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made.  He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"  The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "  "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman.  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

The serpent had to first put doubt on what God said before he introduced the deception to Eve.

What are some of the claims of Joseph Smith and Mormonism?  And would these things put doubt on the Word of God?

Word of God

Matthew 24:35  "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my word will never pass away."


The truth of the Gospel had been lost from the earth and had to be brought back.

Word of God

Colossians 1:16-17  For by him (Jesus) all things were created: things in heaven and earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;all things were created by him and for
him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Ezekiel 28:15 (Speaking of Satan) You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.


Jesus and Lucifer/Satan are brothers.

Word of God

Isaiah 45:5a  I am the LORD and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.


We will someday become gods and rule our own planets.

Word of God

Numbers 23:19  God is not a man,  that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.


God was once a man like us, a sinner, and had to be saved by his own god.

Word of God

Romans 3:20  Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

Romans 3:28  For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.


We are saved from judgement by our good works.

Romans 3:21-26

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the law and the prophets testify.
This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.
He did it to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished--
he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Here we have gotten to the heart of the matter.  First, doubt is put on the truth of God's Word, then destructive deception is introduced.  According to what the Word of God says, where will you build your house?  On works (sand), or on faith in what Jesus did for you (rock)?  His Word, the Truth, the Gospel, was not lost.

Deuteronomy 18:21-22  You may say to yourselves, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?"  If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken.  That prophet has spoken presumptuously.  Do not be afraid of him.

Joseph Smith prophesied that the temple would be built in western Missouri in his lifetime.

Joseph Smith prophesied that he would christen that temple.

Joseph Smith prophesied Jesus would come back before the turn of the century (1900).

Monday, April 16, 2012

Stand with those who sufffer

I've been reading a book titled, "Bonhoeffer," by Eric Metaxas.  It's a very interesting book.  On page 128 it says, "It is likely that he (Bonhoeffer) began to think of the church as called by God to 'stand with those who suffer.'"  I haven't finished the book yet, but the reason I purchased it was because I heard he stood with the Jews in Nazi Germany.  A people who were regarded as dispensable.

I think in our society today, among others, the homeless are regarded as dispensable.  We see the faces and the despair and the years of being on the streets and ignore them and walk on by.  We don't understand that these are people with stories. 

I want to introduce to you a man I met last week in a park in downtown Colorado Springs.  I'll call him Mike.  He is 52 years old, has 1 brother and 2 sisters, his parents are deceased, he has an ex-wife and 2 sons.  He spent 5 years locked up, 3 of those years in a boys home.  He has a severe problem with alchohol.

When he was a young boy, his mother had to have an operation.  She was given too much anesthesia and went into a coma.  She spent 9 years in a coma before she finally died.   After seeing her twice, Mike told his grandfather he couldn't bear to see his mother like this anymore, and quit seeing her.

He, at some point in his youth, received Jesus as his Savior.  His life is out of control.  He is extremely lonely.  He hasn't seen his sons in over 20 years.  He has lost touch with his family.  He needs to realize the hope that he has in Christ.  He needs our help.  Paul tells us in Ephesians to be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.  Mike needs our prayers.

Pray that Mike will come to an understanding of how much God loves him and is with him.

Pray that Mike will be reunited with his sons.

Pray that hope will be rekindled in Mike's heart so that he will be able to get off the streets.

Pray that Mike will be able to say with the apostle Paul, "Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance."

We could all point our finger at Mike and tell of all the reasons he deserves what has happened to him.  But Jesus doesn't do that to us, does He?  Mike is our brother and needs our prayers.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Mighty Mississippi

Standing by the waters of the Mississippi can be a great experience.  We can think of the history.  We can think of old stories we have read such as Tom Sawyer.  But what happens when our lives become as tumultuos as the waters of the Mississippi?  We know from Psalm 23 that those who belong to Christ, who are shepherded by Him, are to be led beside quiet waters.  If that is the case, why do our lives sometimes become so out of control?

The line of thinking I've been following today is that the reason this happens is because we either don't know or have lost sight of why God saved us from judgement and made us His children.  What started this thinking is what my wife and I read this morning in our morning Bible study. Specifically in Ezra chapter 9 verse 9b, "He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem." 

To understand what Ezra was talking about, we have to go back a little bit.  The Israelites had been in captivity as a result of going their own way and doing their own thing, walking in disobedience to God.  God has been in the process of bringing the exiles back home to the Promised Land.  In going back, the Israelites were already turning their backs on God and doing their own thing.

I think the reason this was happening to the Israelites is that they were not understanding the reason for their freedom, the same way we don't always understand the reason God has set us free.

It seems to me that when the Israelites were set free from the captivity in Egypt, they focused more on the provision of God, rather than the God who provides.  They focused on the land flowing with milk and honey more than on why God was providing.  In this situation, they focused more on their freedom and provision, rather than on why God had set them free and was providing for them and keeping them safe.  They were focusing on themselves, rather than on what God was wanting them to do.  In the same way, I believe we sometimes focus on what God can give us, and how much we can get and do, rather than on why God saved us in the first place, and why He provides for us:  to serve Him. 

All of this is to lead to why I'm writing this post in the first place.  One of the desires of my heart is to reach out to the homeless and put a story to the person on the street.  We have a tendency to overlook these people, not realizing they come from somewhere, they have thoughts and feelings, they suffer despair, they have families, they need hope. 

I talked to a man today on the streets of Iowa.  He is 34 years old and has been on the streets for 3 months.  He was born and raised in Iowa by both parents, neither rich nor poor.  He has 3 sisters and 2 brothers.  He finished high school and has served 3 years in the army.  He was not encouraged or discouraged to attend church.  He did attend a Bapist church in his younger years.  He gave his life to Christ at age 15.  Through what I believe was years of not understanding God's purpose in his life, he wasn't really walking with the Lord.  What finally led to him being on the streets was mishandling of finances and a broken relationship. 

Though he knows his life could have been better, that he has taken roads he shouldn't have taken, he knows the Lord will never walk away from him.  That's good.  I encouraged him that the Lord will complete the work He began in him.  God's promise is that he will be raised in the presence of Jesus.  It was a great time of being able to encourage a brother in Christ, but maybe the best question I asked him, although I didn't realize it at the time, was, "What do you think the Lord's calling is on your life?"  As our conversation progressed, I believe he was able to maybe get a better understanding of what life is all about.  Not what he can get, but with the freedom from condemnation that Jesus gives him, and with the provision God provides for him, what can He do for God? 

It wasn't until later until I realized how our Bible study this morning and this man were going to tie together.  We all need to discover the purpose for the life God has given to us. 

Pray for this man, that God will help him to focus his new life on what can he do for God.  And let's pray for each other, that we also will focus our new life in Christ on what can we do for God.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Word of the Lord Was Rare

1 Samuel 3:1b, In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.

Proverbs 8:17, I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.

Why was the word of the LORD rare in the time of Samuel the prophet? Was it because God was not interested in communicating with man, or was it because man was not interested in communicating with God? I believe it was the latter.

In America, the word of the LORD seems to some extent, to be rare. I don’t believe it’s because of a lack of God’s desire to communicate with man, but because of man’s lack of interest in hearing from God. God has blessed this nation with an abundance of His word. There are Bibles in about every home in this country, on coffee tables and bookshelves. For those who don’t have a Bible, there are many bookstores that carry Bibles. For those who can’t afford a Bible, there are many churches that would gladly give one away. However, in this country, people would rather have someone else tell them what God has to say, rather than search the Scriptures themselves. And this is dangerous.

There are enough people who are willing to take advantage of those who are content to let someone else lead them. These people are those who themselves may be deceived, may deliberately oppose the truth, who could be false prophets, and even anti-Christs. Hard to believe? Jesus and the apostles warned that in the last days there would be many false prophets and anti-Christs. The problem is that they lead people away from the truth of God and to their destruction. How can you recognize when this is happening?

When you find a person, a group of people, or a religion that marginalizes or disregards the Word of God, or who marginalizes or disregards people who hold to the Word of God as the standard to test all things, that is a good sign that they are not teaching the truth. And the truth is important. Especially the truth of who God is, who Jesus is, what Jesus did at the cross, and how we respond to all of this.

It is vitally important that every person understand that the Scriptures are God’s standard by which we judge all things. And knowing this, to search and become familiar with the Scriptures to guard ourselves against deception.

The Word of God teaches that God alone is God, and that besides Him and before Him there is no other. God is the same all the time and doesn’t change. Jesus is the only Son of God, and no other, and in fact Jesus is God Himself. The Word of God teaches that none of us, no matter how morally superior we may be to others, attain to the glory of God. In fact, we are told that we all fall short of God’s glory. We have all sinned. Some more than others, but Jesus said that if anyone breaks the least of the Law, then he has broken the whole law. And the Scriptures tell us the wages of lawbreaking, sinning. It is death. Not only physical death, but the second death. Being thrown into the lake of fire for all of eternity. And there is no way to make up for this. Good works will not cause someone to escape the coming wrath. There is still a wage to be paid for our sin.

Jesus, the only Son of God, God Himself, who alone is from everlasting to everlasting, who alone is without sin (has never sinned), who was born of a virgin (as a result did not inherit the sin nature), lived a life without sin, died on the cross for the sins of mankind and not His own, rose again on the third day according to the prophecies written about Him (because of His holiness, death could not hold Him), and ascended into heaven to sit at the Father’s right hand.

What Jesus did at the cross is the only payment God will accept for our sin. To try to approach God any other way, with any other payment, will be foolish. God says that by His knowledge God’s righteous servant (Jesus) would justify many. What is left for anyone who rejects this payment that Jesus made and tries to come in some other way? Again, God will accept no other payment.

Why do I say all of this? Because this is the main truth that false prophets and anti-Christs keep people from. Why? Because to miss this is to forfeit your life. God will not receive from you any other payment. None of us will enter into heaven because of our good works. None of us will enter into heaven because we followed a certain leader or because we belonged to a particular denomination. Only those who realize they are sinners and ask Jesus to save them from judgement based on what He did at the cross will enter into heaven.

I read in a recent article that we should respect all faiths. We need to understand something. God doesn’t respect all faiths. He only accepts those who put their faith in the finished work of Christ at the cross.

Again, why do I say all of this? Because leading people away from this truth is the goal of those who are false prophets and anti-Christs.

What are some of the ways we can recognize them? They claim special revelation from God, apart from Scripture. And that special revelation usually adds to or takes away from what Jesus did. It usually tells us there is a different way to heaven. They tell us we don’t need the Scriptures, that they will tell us what God has to say. They are enemies of the cross of Christ.

One of the things that really makes me feel angry is the old “bait and switch.” There are religions out there that are not forthright. They bring people in under the guise of being moral, social, godly, while hiding a lot of what they really believe. People don’t usually find these things out until they are in too deep. But I thank God that Jesus said, “What is hidden is meant to be disclosed.” My prayer is that God would bring into the light the things that have been bringing people into the bondage of deception. And make this your goal: to read the Scriptures, the Bible, and let God reveal to you any deception you may have been led into.

And to conclude this, it would be wrong of me to not disclose some of my own experiences concerning the topic of this article.

In December of 1981 I was on the streets of Los Angeles. I was at the end of my rope with nowhere to turn. My life was done. In despair and hopelessness I was forced to live on the streets and to eat my meals at rescue missions. Several times before meals I also had to listen to a sermon about my sinful state, what Jesus did at the cross, and how there was grace for me if I wanted it. God spoke to my heart each time I heard the Gospel shared. He let me know the truth in love: If I were to refuse this grace and walk out that door and died some way, I would go to hell. So I went forward and was led into a room where a Chaplain led me in prayer. I agreed with God that I was a sinner. I thanked Him that Jesus paid the penalty for my sins at the cross. I asked Him to save me from judgement. And according to the promises of His Word, He did.

For the next two months I would get into debates with other Christians concerning Mormon doctrine. I was sure I was right with my arguments (I had been raised Mormon). One night I went to a church where a man was talking about Mormonism. I don’t remember anything he said except one verse: Numbers 23:19a, “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man that he should change His mind.” This verse shot out of the pulpit like a spiritual torpedo, hit me right in the head, and demolished all of the Mormon doctrine I had learned. I sat back in my seat and thought to myself, “They lied to me!” You see, I had been taught that God was once a man like me, a sinner living on a planet with His own God who had to save Him. This verse, from the standard of God’s Word, showed I had been lied to.

Five years ago I invited two Mormon missionaries into our apartment in Colorado Springs to discuss the Word of God with them. After a couple of hours of discussing what they taught versus what the Scriptures taught, one of them, exasperated, finally asked me if I believed Joseph Smith was a prophet. I said no. At that, they got up to leave. On their way out, one of them wiped his feet on the carpet. I confronted him on this, knowing from my own upbringing that he was leaving a curse on the house. It is in the Mormon Doctrine and Covenants that this is to be done to any home where people don’t receive the Mormon church as the true church or when they don’t receive Joseph Smith as a prophet.

I will pause here to tell of at least three reasons I don’t believe Joseph Smith was a prophet. God tells us in the Old Testament how to determine if someone is indeed a prophet He sent: He has to be right. All the time. 1)Joseph Smith said there would be a temple built in Missouri within his lifetime and that he would christen it. This didn’t happen. 2) He said Jesus would return before the turn of the century. He didn’t. 3) He taught a different gospel. Paul said if anyone, even an angel, taught a different gospel than the one he taught, that he would be eternally condemned.

A few months ago I welcomed two more Mormon missionaries into our home to discuss with them also the difference between what they teach and what the Scriptures teach. When I quoted Scripture, I was very amazed to hear one of them repeatedly say that he had never heard that, or would ask where that was in the Bible. He even admitted, being raised a Mormon, having gone to seminary, having served in the church, and having almost completed two years of missionary service, that he was not familiar at all with the Bible. Would anyone agree with me here that perhaps in the Mormon church the Bible is marginalized or even disregarded?

The Mormons teach the gospel of Christ as they understand it. But that’s not good enough. We must teach the Gospel according to the truth. God says to study to show yourself approved.

It might seem that I am out to get Mormons, but I’m not. We all come from somewhere. Paul says, “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the desires of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.” But God, through the finished work of Christ at the cross, is willing to deliver anyone from the domain of darkness and bring them into His Kingdom of Light. But this is only done through Jesus.

I don’t dislike Mormons. I’m very close to some of them, writing this understanding I may be ostracized. What I dislike, and even hate, is that people I love are being held in the bondage of deception. What I hate is that there are other “religions” and people out there doing the same things, deceiving people.

What I hope is that some will pay attention and search the Word of God and find the truth for themselves, and not take someone else’s word for it.

Yes, the Mormons are moral. And they are good neighbors. But they aren’t teaching the truth (along with many other religions.) Read the Word of God for yourself. God’s word in your life should not be rare. You have a Bible…read it.