Category Archives: Christian living

About those open and closed doors . . .

Many Christians get borderline  – or over the line – superstitious* when it comes to “open” and “closed” doors and making important decisions.  They should be using the wisdom model of decision making, as the Bible teaches it, because there are zero Bible verses even hinting that God drops us little clues that have to decipher less we mess up his plans.  Not only does the wisdom model result in better decisions, but you get to enjoy your freedom in Christ and stop second-guessing everything.

If something looks easy, people sometimes think of that as an open door that they should go through, or if it looks hard it means that God has closed the door.  Maybe, but maybe not.  Consider these two passages.

1 Corinthians 16:8–9 But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

One might think that if there are “many adversaries” that it would be a closed door.  Yet Paul explicitly calls the door wide, so he plans to persevere through the opportunity.  But sometimes God does close doors – at least temporarily — such as when Jesus commands us not to throw pearls before pigs.  The key is discernment and knowing when to start and when to stop.

I realize the books were written at different times, but note how just two chapters later in the Bible later we get this:

2 Corinthians 2:12–13 When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord, my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.

So you’re the Apostle Paul and you know that the real Lord Jesus has opened a door for you in Troas — but you go on to Macedonia because you miss your friend Titus!  Could it be that the Lord opened multiple doors for Paul and he used his freedom in Christ to choose a different one?  Note that there is no hint that Paul was being disobedient here.

Remember that while we don’t have access to God’s sovereign will for individual decisions, He has clearly revealed his moral will to us and has promised to give us wisdom if we ask.  So as long as you aren’t violating his moral will, then ask for wisdom, read the Bible, talk to wise people, consider your personal preferences (i.e., don’t be a martyr) and then choose with freedom. 

 

 

 

 

 

If God has a sovereign plan to do something in your life then you can trust that will happen.  In the mean time, don’t be paralyzed or make bad decisions because you reverse-engineered some decision based on what you thought God was saying when it was really just you rationalizing what you wanted.


*The word superstitious reminds me of this (I’m not even a little stitious).

The Office Michael Scott GIF - TheOffice MichaelScott NotSuperstitious GIFs

Want to help race relations? Get involved in prison or pregnancy center ministries.

                  

Race had nothing to do with why I got involved in those ministries.  I’ll share the Gospel with anyone, whether you are a black convicted murderer or the best-behaved white pagan in the free world.  And I want to help save unborn children from murder regardless of their skin color.

But the nature of these ministries is such that it is mostly whites serving mostly minorities.  And as a fantastic by-product of sharing the love and truth of Christ with these folks it does marvelous things for race relations.  It pushes a giant reset button on those who have been wounded because of their race and/or steeped in their own racism.

It has changed countless prison environments, where skinheads and Black Panther-types have become friends and led their respective gangs to change.

I’ve seen countless inmates and even volunteers note how the ministries radically changed how they view others, and how they repented of their racism.

Here’s the story of a guy I know from prison ministry who was in the Aryan Brotherhood.   I saw him in action many times as a leader of the Christian groups inside prison and in the ways he is giving back now that he’s out of prison.  Let’s just say that he wasn’t transformed by the power of virtue-signaling social media posts.   

I realize that the race-baiting professionals of the Left — including the “Christian” Left — want to improve race relations as much as McDonald’s wants to sell less hamburgers.  If your movement demands tax-funded abortions to the child’s 1st breath that kill blacks at a rate three times that of whites and Hispanics at twice the rate, then you’ll have a tough time convincing me you really care about them.  But authentic Christians really do want to see improvements.   And ministries like these make it happen.

It is remarkably safe to say “Nazis are bad!” on Facebook in 2017 in the U.S.  If you really want to do something about race relations — and more importantly, the Gospel — try something more substantial.  Look into your local pregnancy resource center or prison ministries, or anything similar that shares the love and truth of Christ with minorities.

Cancer treatment update: So far, so good. Thanks for the prayers!

Some updates and random thoughts as a follow up to Plot twist: I’ve got cancer.

The treatment process is going smoothly.  I’ve finished two rounds of chemotherapy, with four more to go (one every 28 days).  Mrs. Eternity Matters calls it Chemo Day Camp, because I show up with a cooler of food, a jacket and my laptop bag.  I suppose it is the camp you settle for if you sign up too late for the basketball / volleyball / archery / etc. camps.  They just set up the IV, then I can eat, use my laptop and phone or even take a nap.  The nurses are super-friendly and great at explaining things.

After treatments I feel like I am ready for the All-Drug Olympics, as I have as many as 8-9 things flowing through my body at once: chemotherapy, immunotherapy, a steroid, Benadryl, Tylenol, anti-nausea, shingles prevention, uric acid prevention, Flintstones Chewable Vitamins, etc.

  • Me: This first round of chemotherapy wasn’t bad. I feel pretty energetic!
  • Also me: You forgot that they gave you a steroid in the chemo mix. The exhaustion will hit in a couple days.
  • Me: D’oh!

Our main prayers have been for healing (I assume the tumor is being killed, and will have a mid-treatment scan next month to confirm progress), minimal side effects (answered!) and that we not waste any of the experience (answered!).

The challenge in something like this is to:

Strive to point to and glorify Jesus  . . .

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

. . . without photobombing him

Matthew 6:1 Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

I pray often that we will stay on the right side of that.  I have had countless opportunities to live it out.  In my flesh I know I’d be deeply scared throughout this, but by focusing on Jesus I can honestly say I’ve slept well every night — even in the early days when I knew I had cancer but had no idea about the severity or treatment plans.  I’ve had friends note that the positive approach is “oozing” out of me.  It isn’t like I’m trying to do it, it is just there.  I’ve been able to share with believers and non-believers in all sorts of ways.  I know it is 100% by the grace of God that we’ve lived what we believe, and that has made this process better regardless of the eventual outcome.

Many thanks to everyone who has offered prayers and encouragement to me and my family throughout this.  You have no idea how much every comment meant.

Be blessed!

So sheep food grows churches better than goat food? Who knew?

God, apparently.  But glad to see that some churches have caught on. The Hot ‘New’ Church Growth Method notes  that more conservative churches are growing faster than Leftist ones.

We must remember that religions can grow or shrink with bad doctrines or good.  If growth was the sole arbiter of soundness then Joel Osteen, Steven Furtick, Mormons, Muslims, etc. would be good people to go to.  But in our culture today, the “Christian” Left churches are doomed to shrink because they are indistinguishable from the world.  Why go to them for “doctrine” that is indistinguishable from the perversions, radical feminism and political correctness of college campuses, the mainstream media, and entertainment industries?  People can get God-mocking heresies for free 24×7.  Why waste time and money going to the “Christian” Left for more of the same?

Never forget that churchgoers who support “same-sex marriage”  — i.e., the “Christian” Left — have nearly identical views to the world on a host of issues such as abortion, adultery, porn, etc.  It shows who their real father is.
1 John 2:15-16 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.
Jude 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

James 4:4 You adulterous people!  Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

So there is good news here: Just preach from the Bible and you will probably grow.  And even if you don’t, you can be sure you’ve done the right thing.  Remember that preaching the Gospel honors Christ regardless of whether the hearers convert. It is always good to speak his truths.
Don’t worry about gimmicks to draw in the goats, especially when those tactics will starve or run off the sheep.  Don’t try to make the world love you.  It dishonors God and it won’t work.
Trust that the sovereign God will do just what He promised.  He is going to save those whose names He wrote in the Lamb’s Book of Life from before the world began.   The question is whether you and your church will be faithful to him in the mean time.

Revelation 20:15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Video: The Bible, Decision Making and Hearing from God

This is one of the most practical lessons you can ever learn.  Everyone makes decisions every day and lives with the good and bad consequences of prior decisions, and they help guide others to do the same. How can you make sure you doing that in the right way? Does God tell you how to make each decision, or has He given a different method? And is it normal for Christians to get messages from God outside the Bible?

This is especially important when considering how popular books like Jesus Calling and its sequel are.

 

The Bible, Decision Making and Hearing from God from Eternity Matters on Vimeo.

Oops.

Are people — young and old — who hang out at church really saved, or is their defining characteristic that they mimic those around them?

Years ago, before I knew the finer points of how Facebook works, someone I went to church with when growing up posted a picture from the Godspell play that the youth had put on.  I was tagged in the picture, so it showed up in my timeline.  For clarity, I added this comment:

Just for the record, I am not in this picture. It from a play my church’s youth group did (I wasn’t in the play). Sadly, out of all the people I’ve seen on FB from those years I’ve only come across one who appears to be a Bible-believing, orthodox Christian. Ironically, I was Super Pagan then and became a real Christian later.

Then I realized that my comment didn’t just post to my page, but to the entire thread where people were having fun reminiscing. Then I added this:
Sorry, didn’t realize my comment would be on the main thread. I thought it would just be on my page. Didn’t mean to be a buzzkill.  😉
While I didn’t realize it would be seen by all, I decided to leave it.  I hope it convicted some of the readers to think about what they really believed then and now.  Hanging out at a lukewarm (at best) church when you are a kid and doing all sorts of youth group activities does not save you.  Eternity is a mighty long time to be wrong on the Bible, Jesus, Heaven, Hell, sin, salvation, etc.  It is truly sad seeing the worldliness and New Age type of things most of those people post.  They are far from God.
I thank God for the clarity that I was a rebel then (example: it is theoretically possible that some of us smoked pot at church camp . . . what was that statute of limitations again?!) and knew the difference when I was saved as an adult.
I saw the same thing at the Methodist church we used to attend.  Many kids seemed very committed to the faith, but their real commitment was to behaving like those around them.  When they went off to college many morphed into typical Leftist sound-bite machines (pro-abortion, pro-gay, pro-“tolerance”).  By the grace of God, some did not.

I highly encourage parents and church leaders to ensure that your kids know how to think carefully and to have an apologetics background.  Otherwise it is just a matter of time until they morph into the world.

On Christian Celebrities

Of course I want celebrities to be authentically saved and serve the kingdom (e.g., Kirk Cameron), and if authentic Christians become famous that’s great, too (e.g., Tim Tebow).  But far too often these aren’t authentic conversions, and even if they are, the growth of the Christians is stunted because fans want to cling to the celebrity part.  But just because you memorize and act out scripts well or are a good athlete doesn’t mean you get a free pass on the hard work of discipleship.

Great points about the lack of discernment for many on this topic: Embracing Christian Celebrities

When will we stop acting like teenaged girls who just received the latest edition of Tiger Beat? Maybe, just maybe we could learn to put the brakes on our desire to shriek, “Mark Wahlburg goes to church.” He sure does; a Roman Catholic church. When it was discovered that Carrie Underwood attends an Evangelical Church, the Christian news sites were agog. It was months later we discovered she supports gay marriage. At the very least, can we proceed with caution before we give our public endorsement of the latest celebrity conversion? • Let’s find out what church or denomination they belong to. If it is wonky, stop the presses. • If they have no accountability, they should not have our endorsement. • Let’s give them time to mature. If they endure in the faith for more than five minutes without tarnishing their profession, then perhaps we can make a big deal out of it. • Let’s give them time to bear fruit and not bare themselves. • Let’s vet them as much as we vet our pastors. Granted, a celebrity spokesperson is not the same as a local elder, but he or she has a higher visibility than a preacher. Let’s make sure they don’t bring shame to the name of Jesus because we have standards that are lower than Lil’ Wayne’s pants. Should our born-again celebrity brothers and sisters make it through the vetting process, let’s make sure that we are more enamored with Jesus than with Hollywood stars. After all, we are Christians, not groupies. Embracing celebrity Christians has to stop.