Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,
[2 Timothy 2:15‭-‬16 ESV]

There is a lot of babble out there; rhetoric that makes one shake their head and roll their eyes. For me, I am grieved when I hear some of the talk. It’s polluting young minds, transforming experienced minds, threatening those who resist, coercing those who speak otherwise. The babble insists on tolerance but the babblers don’t understand their own babble as they act contrary to their talk.

The babblers call God-fearing, Bible-believing, Jesus-following Christians out of touch, intolerant, bigoted and racist – all because they stand for the truth of God. The babblers pressure them into submission and guilt them into compliance with the babble. And in doing so, God-fearing people have been transformed into man-fearing people and into ungodiness. I just sit here and shake my head.

But as God-fearing, Bible-believing, Jesus-following Christians, you have nothing and no one to fear. Present yourself to this world as approved by God through Jesus Christ. Present yourself as someone who doesn’t need the approval of man. Present yourself as one steeped, not in the babble, but in the Word of God – but be sure you handle the Word in a way that glorifies God and not yourself. And lastly, never be ashamed to stand for the truth of God.

Avoid babbling and don’t be influenced or seduced by the babble. Stand approved by God and God willing, the babblers themselves will be transformed into God-approved, God-fearing witnesses to the Truth.

To God be the glory. Amen.

The Word

Oh God,
Your Word is a lamp to my feet.
Your Word is a light to my path.
Your Word is profitable for teaching,
for reproof,
for correction,
and for training in righteousness,
that I may be complete and equipped for every good work.
You Law is perfect,
and sure,
and right,
and pure,
and clean
and true.
Oh God, why would anyone despise the learning of it.
Your Word is much to be desired.
It’s more precious than gold.
Sweeter than honey.
More valuable than anything.
Your Word is salvation.
Your Word is Jesus.
May I desire it more and more.
May I receive it with an open heart.
May I live it each and every day.
May I proclaim it with every breath.
May I not twist or distort it.
May Your Word sustain my life.
Oh God,
teach me and lead me and transform me.
In Jesus name I pray,

The Pastor -|—

God’s Word is God’s Word

The following is an article I submitted to the Tacoma News Tribune. I have had the privilege of submitting articles every other week for a few months now and this my latest one; printed on Saturday, Nov 4. I have received a number of requests to make these more available so here you go…

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. [2 Timothy 3:16-17]

I came across a quote recently that really bothered me and scared me. The quote came from a prominent church leader in a major denomination. The reason it scared me was not just that it came from this leader, but that this leader has and will be again speaking at a national youth gathering. I fear what her ideas and beliefs will do to the next generation. The quote is this, “Preaching hopefully in some way is the word of God, speaking is not. So I thought, I wonder, we can look at (the apostle) Paul that way. You know like sometimes he was just going off on his snotty opinions, he has some authority to speak on it but that’s not necessarily the Word of God.” Just his “snotty opinions”? Wow, that is scary because it is saying that if you don’t like something in the Bible, you can just call it a “snotty opinion” and totally discount it as something not authoritative. The problem is that when you start doing this, then all of scripture becomes suspect. When that happens, then scripture ceases to be authoritative.

The fact of that matter is that ALL of scripture is breathed out by God. ALL of scripture is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, not just the parts you like. C.S. Lewis once said, “I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.” Those are very wise words. The Word of God operates the same way. You simply cannot twist and manipulate it to justify a certain way of life, or a certain behavior, or a certain belief system. You simply cannot toss out the verses and/or chapters you do not like or agree with. You cannot rewrite scripture because it makes you uncomfortable. The Word of God is just that, the Words of God almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. You cannot pick and choose like going through some divine a la carte line. The Word kills but brings to life. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. [2 Corinthians 5:17]

The Word of God is not outdated or irrelevant as some would want you to believe. It doesn’t need to be updated to fit our culture today. The Word of God does not need to be softened so as not to offend certain people. The Word of God is authoritative, all of it, and thus needs to be listened to, for in it are the words of eternal life and that never goes out of style. Don’t minimize God’s Word but hold it as authoritative and watch it transform you. Cling to God’s Word and trust in its power. Taste and see that it is indeed good.

The Pastor -|—

God, Help Us and Have Mercy

Holy and merciful God,

ALL of scripture is breathed out by You.
ALL of scripture is inspired by You.
ALL of scripture is authoritative.
ALL of scripture is useful for teaching and rebuking and correcting and training in righteousness.

ALL of scripture is life-giving and holy and blessed, but yet, as Your Church, we don’t run to and grasp Your holy Word as we should. We more often than not toss Your Word around as just a tagline or a sound bite or as an arrow to be fired off in an argument/debate. The awe of Your Word is more times than not, lost on us and thus we are lead to actions and thoughts and words that are anything but glorifying to You, oh God.

For this I confess on behalf of me and the Church, but only I can declare my intent to repent and receive Your Word as Your almighty, authoritative Word. My hope is that the Church would too, so I ask that Your Spirit may be sent into Your Church. Bring about repentance and a deep desire to speak Your Word of truth with passion and conviction and honesty and boldness; yet doing so out of love for ALL of our neighbors.

Oh God, have mercy.

May we flee judgmentalism
May we flee idolatry
May we flee hate
May we flee worldly passions
May we flee cultural acceptance

May we see the way of Jesus as our way; fearing nothing but You, oh God. And as curves and bumps and deadly ravines appear along the way, may we cling to Jesus.

We do not live in heaven on earth, far from it, but Your kingdom is coming. May we look with longing expectation for that Kingdom; proclaiming this truth and calling all people to repentance; ALL people.

May Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven and help us to see this through Your most holy Word.

In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Crossing over

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
[2 Timothy 3:12-15]

It seems to me that this verse is becoming more and more true now than ever before.  Sometimes it feels like I am fighting an up hill battle in this world.  When you watch the news and TV shows one can quickly see the downward slide.  Gone are the wholesome family shows like The Cosby Show or The Brady Bunch.  Now we have shows that highlight alternative families, violence, vampires, evil, etc.  The “dark side of the force” is being promoted as glamorous with more and more people crossing over.  This pastor’s heart is aching at what it is seeing.

Wow…how I miss the good ole days.

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed…”

I need to remember, though, that God is sovereign and I am not.
I need to continue in the faith I was raised in.
I need to continue to drink from the living waters of Jesus Christ.
I need to stay close to Christ in prayer and scripture.
I need to maintain Christian fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
I need to stay hopeful ~ diligent ~ prayerful ~ persistent.

The pastor’s heart may be aching in this world but Christ brings healing through the cross.  In the mean time we need to keep up the fight and not cross over to the dark side.  Let the good in you shine forth to the glory of God our Father.  Remain hopeful, for Christ is returning to bring balance to the force 🙂

[Sorry for all the Star Wars references]

Praise be to God!

edh -|—

What we need to hear

2 Timothy 4:2-5
“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”

There are many reasons to stay in the word; to study it and meditate on it but the one that concerns me today is the very thing that Paul warns young Timothy about.  There are so many “gospels” floating around out there.  There are so many “preachers” out there leading people astray; saying things to people that “their itching ears want to hear.”

The problem is that what people WANT to hear and what they NEED to hear are two completely different things.

What we hear so much about today are what prosperity gospel preachers are trying to tell people:  If you live right you can be successful and happy in this life.  They hold up the Bible, quote scripture and give you 7 ways to have your best life now.  People may WANT to hear that message but it is not what they NEED to hear.  Happiness now is fine but there are two keys problems:  (1) Jesus never, ever promised that things would be great in this life (he actually told his disciples that they would experience hardship and persecution) and (2) When this life is over then what?

What we NEED to hear is that God, through Jesus, has over come this world.
What we NEED to hear is that Jesus has reconciled us to God through the cross.
What we NEED to hear is that there is hope beyond this life.
What we NEED to hear is that we have nothing to fear in this world with God.
What we NEED to hear is that God is madly in love with you and with me.

Prosperity gospel preachers do not preach this message but rather disguise the Good News with something that people can use now to be happy and successful.  As Paul warned, the time has come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.

So we need to be even more diligent.

Let’s take Paul’s charge to Timothy and make it our own.  Stay in the Word; meditate on it; study it and remain faithful to the Word.  “…keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. “  Tell people what they NEED to hear, not what they WANT to hear.

May God be praised in all we say and do.

Preach it brothers and sisters!  Amen!