Don’t Be Fooled (2 Cor 11:14)

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. [2 Corinthians 11:14]

Paul here is defending himself, and his colleagues, against the attacks of those who claim to be “super apostles” but really are leading people astray. Basically he says they are nothing more than wolves in sheep clothing. And this makes sense because even Satan does this so why wouldn’t Satan’s servants do the same.

Satan was active and working hard to stop the church then and he continues to do the same today. And in a lot of ways, Satan is more powerful and crafty today largely due to technology and the speed of how information can be sent around the world. Someone’s message can reach thousands and millions of people very quickly. And with the age of social media; ideas can be spread and go viral very quickly.

It is, therefore, so easy for a worker of evil to disguise oneself as an angel of light. Just consider the prosperity gospel preachers out there; preaching a gospel of peace and health and success in this life and nothing more. They stand in front of millions of people and wave their Bibles around (“dressed” as an angel of light) all the while leading people down the path of destruction. Satan has got to be licking his chops today.

And because there are so many wolves running around in sheep’s clothing; as sheep we need to be on the look out. We need to be testing the spirits as 1 John teaches us. We need to be cunning and discerning; not taking everything you read and hear to heart just because of who says it (and that means testing everything I write).

So how do we test the spirits? There is no one fool proof method but below are three questions to get you started:

(1) Does the messenger accuse you of being a sinner?
YES ~ Great, but this still could be Satan. In either case respond by saying, “I know but I have Jesus“.
NO ~ You have a wolf. The truth of who God is starts with the admission that you are a sinner in need of a Savior.

(2) Does the messenger preach Christ crucified and risen FOR YOU for the forgiveness of your sins?
YES ~ Praise be to God!!!
NO ~ You have a wolf. A servant/messenger of Christ is going to preach this for this is THE Good News, and therefore, this Good News can not be said enough.

(3) Does the messenger promise peace and security in this life?
YES ~ You have a wolf. No where in the Bible does Jesus promise an easy life for his followers. Actually, he says you will have a cross. Be skeptical of messages that promise the easy life now through X-number of easy steps.
NO ~ Then you have a follower of Jesus who is actually following Jesus.

Granted, this is not a full proof testing system here, but it is a start. Basically, know your Bible, pray without ceasing and rely on the Holy Spirit. There will be wolves that will try to circumvent these questions, so beware. The wolves are out there, prowling around waiting for someone to devour. Don’t be their next meal.

Oh holy God, grant us a discerning mind to test the spirits and to be able to see the wolves in sheep clothing. May we be diligent in our study of scripture and may we seek your Holy Spirit. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Cyber Giving

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
[2 Corinthians 9:6-8]

Apparently today is Cyber Monday; a day dedicated to “amazing” online deals.  Millions of people will flood the Internet in search for those must have items for themselves or for Christmas gifts.  I can not even begin to imagine the amount of money that will be spent today on stuff.  Sure…there is stuff that I want, but is there stuff I absolutely need?

I can think of many people who need stuff that I take for granted.  I can think of many charities and ministries that need assistance that I take for granted.  So instead of cyber spending I am going to be cyber giving today (leave it to me to buck the trend).  Instead of spending money on myself or on stuff, I am going to be spending money on others.  And I challenge you to do the same.  In the midst of your Cyber Monday shopping remember to do some Cyber Giving; remembering those who are less fortunate.

Here are some ideas on how to celebrate Cyber Giving Monday:
(1) Commit to give a certain percentage of your total Cyber Monday shopping total to a charity/ministry.  (i.e. Giving 10% — Spent $200 — Total gift $20)

(2) Take your Cyber Monday spending total and give that amount to a charity/ministry.

(3) “Cyber shop” (not actually buying anything) and give that amount to a charity/ministry.

(4) If you buy toys for your children also buy some toys to give to your local Toys for Tots.

(5) Cyber shop for someone in your community that can’t afford to buy presents for their kids.

And I am sure there are many more things you can do on this day to help someone out.  Most of us have enough stuff, but others do not.  Let’s  cheerfully cyber give to the glory of God.

The pastor -|—

More processing…

O.K….I am back, writing about “the vote” at the ELCA CWA, but all I want to do here is share with you a couple snippets and let you process/respond to them.

FIRST — a woman came into my office last week to express her feelings about where the ELCA is going.  We had a very fruitful discussion, even though we have differing views.  She stopped in again today and handed me a piece of paper with 2 Cor. 6:14 – 7:1 written on it.  She said that this is where she is coming from.  She was on her way to another appointment so we couldn’t talk about it.  What do you think about this scripture in relation to the homosexuality discussion?

SECOND — I received this link on Facebook today.  It is a news release from the ELCA titled “The Church’s mission is bigger than one issue”.  I found this helpful.  What do you think?

Like most other people I am still processing.

Praise be to God!