The Power of Words: Adding in the Concept of Sowing and Reaping

Last week we looked at the powerful effects of positive (life) and negative (death) words, both on and in our lives, bodies, and spirit. Today I want to talk about the sowing and reaping aspect of our words.

As I mentioned last week, the Lord has placed on my heart to watch my words, but it’s really a much larger issue. I believe the Lord is calling us all to fortify our spiritual roots and clean our houses (body, soul, spirit), to refine our tuning into God and the Holy Spirit, and to prepare a clean environment for new giftings to manifest and be developed. We simply aren’t able to grow a healthy gifting in a polluted environment.

Do you know or understand the tremendous spiritual weapon you possess with your words? Did you know that your mouth is like a machine gun and that your words are like bullets that can pierce someone’s soul and spirit? Did you know that when you wish ill on others or speak ill of them you can actually be putting a curse in place that comes back on you? Yes, you can, and here’s how.

I think we’ve all heard of the notion of reaping and sowing. Non-Christians sometimes talk about Karma or a sort-of universal cause and effect. We followers of Jesus with a Biblical worldview say, in effect, that we reap what we sow; not just crops, but words, actions, thoughts, and influencing behaviors. If we’re sowing negative or curse-sending words, we’ll reap that (and worse) back on ourselves and our families – sometimes for generations.

In Job – the “poster book” for having troubles heaped upon people – Eliphaz the Temanite tries to justify Job’s predicament based on the seemingly commonsense notion of reaping and sowing, even though Job rejects this based on what he knows of his own life. And, indeed, the concept or reaping and sowing (like that of blessings and curses) weaves throughout the Old Testament, but not always as directly as when it is found in Proverbs with writings such as these: “The wicked man earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward” (11:18); “He who sows wickedness reaps trouble, and the rod of his fury will be destroyed.” (22:8); “The faithless will be fully paid for their ways, and the good man rewarded for his.” (14:14), Most relevant to our words, Proverbs 13:3 states: “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.”

The reaping/sowing notion continues into the New Testament. Second Corinthians speaks of the measure of sowing: “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” 2 Cor. 9:6. Hosea, on the other hand, links sowing to positive benefits we can see in our daily lives: “Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.” (Hosea 10:12).

Together, though, these two notions – the power of words (life and death) and the spiritual law of sowing and reaping – should give us great pause. For it is words, more than anything else, that can so quickly escape and become sown. Certainly, if we sow good or bad words generously versus sparingly, the Bible says we will reap accordingly. But the nature of words should remind us of the nearly impossible task of gauging what even a single negative word can do to a single person. That one bad word, spoken with malice by you or by me, might actually equal a lifetime of words spoken by someone else. In this case, given the power of words and the unmistakable surety of the law of sowing and reaping, I would treat how we speak to others in this world like one might treat philosophy of God through the lens of Pascal’s wager: do not bet your life on uttering a single bad word – whatever finite gain there may be (and I doubt there is any), it is simply crushed by the weight of potential infinite loss.

ACTION: Do you wonder why some people seem always to have difficulties and troubles? Look at what they have coming out of their mouths. Are they curses, slurs, or statements of unbelief? If you look closely, you may just be witnessing the double-whammy effect of the power of words and the spiritual law of sowing and reaping. This week make a conscious effort to speak blessings to and about people, even if you don’t agree with them. If you have done so in the past, make an effort to watch labels you have assigned to people like “stupid,” “ignorant,” etc., especially on semi-anonymous forums like social media. Give people a chance to know our God through your uplifting and positive speech that reaps unlimited benefits. Ask the Lord to reveal any unforgiveness on your part and ask for extra blessings on any people to whom you may have used any negative words. Finally, ask for those curses you have spoken on others to be recalled and canceled. Then thank God for helping you to improve this one really important part of your life!

Illumination and Separation

Our pastor started off this year by announcing that it would be a year of “shaking.” Man, he was right. It’s also been a year of illumination and separation, especially in the church. Some of it hasn’t been pretty.

I imagine some churches are acting exactly like a church Denise and I know about here in Denver. We had gone to this church a couple of times, but we stopped when people began inserting gratuitous political messages into the services. No big deal; we’ve always belonged to Colorado Christian Fellowship, and even though we visit other places, we always have a home there, where the Truth of God is always foremost in the message. Our pastor has been pretty clear that as Christians we are aliens in the world and will undoubtedly find fault with any political party if we look hard enough.

Nevertheless, we had occasionally kept up on this other church to see what it was up to. Well, we noticed in October the church had suddenly stopped doing in-person services, opting to stream online instead. If you scan the various messages in October, you find out that the reason was because several of the staff and congregation had tested positive for COVID-19. At the time, the pastor there said the closure was due to his desire to keep everyone safe. Okay, so far so good. There is absolutely no reason that “church” has to be held in a building. Our pastor has been live-streaming since the whole thing began, and we’ve only grown larger as a congregation.

Then – quite suddenly after the election – everything in that other church changed. Despite having closed due to the virus in the church, the pastor now blamed the Governor and county officials for creating rules requiring his church to be shut down (in point of fact, the counties really do these things on their own, and it would actually likely be better to have the Governor issue some sort of a statewide rule). He spoke of being “at war” with those who want to keep people from meeting in person. He spoke of “draining the swamp.” He spoke of the “horrible” and “dark time” caused by the “discouraging” and “disappointing” election. He equated not tithing with “looting,” a word thrown around quite frequently in certain political circles and perhaps hinting at a major reason why churches like his balk at closing their doors. Instead of talking about God’s will, he spoke about meetings with his attorneys, the First Amendment, and civil disobedience. The previous justification of “member safety” was lost as blamed others for their situation. I actually saw him laugh while pondering whether his congregation would ever wear a mask, even if they were asked. This had nothing to do with safety. In short, this church went full-on-political.  

And this is the illumination and separation happening in the churches. Some are focused on God, and some are focused on political ramblings. 

No time for any elaboration today, but we’ll soon have more to say about “political Christians” and churches, like the one above, which has decided to incorporate so much political rhetoric into its message. Moreover, in the future we’ll have plenty to say about so-called Christian “prophets,” who claim to speak for God but who focus mostly on politics and – whether right or wrong in their prophesies – drive people away from their search for God. But for now, just realize that church leaders who emphasize a mainly political message, implying, basically, that God somehow can’t do His will without we humans voting a particular way, have no business being church leaders because they have lost sight of an inclusive and supreme God who is at work with us, in us, and for us.   

Are you Ready? Preparing for 2021.

I’ve been hearing many words and prophetic insights into this time of pandemic in 2020, and I’ve been thinking about how we were/are to use the extra time most of us have received due to unemployment, working at home, and being quarantined. This blog is designed to share some of my resources and to help you find your own resources to thrive in the end of this year through 2021.

As we’ve said many times over the years (quoting the Bible and especially in the last few blogs), God works all things for our good (Rom 8:28), He’s in control, and He has a plan. Since this time in our lives factors into his overall plan, please understand that God is probably looking for humanity to do multiple things as a result of this pandemic. One, quite obviously, is to bring people to Him for salvation. It’s simply a fact of life that difficult times often provide the only impetus for people to make big changes to their lives. This can be one of those times. 

A second thing, which seems equally obvious to me, is to re-direct people who say they are “Christians” – but who are not behaving like true followers of Jesus – back to Him and to rebuke those “Christians” leading people astray. In short, and for whatever reason, there’s a certain amount of pre-judgment separation of goats from sheep going on in the church, with broad swaths of followers of Jesus being illuminated and identified as goats (that is, not true Christians). Not to put it too simply, but don’t be a goat because it has eternal consequences. Matt. 25:31-46.

A third thing that I think God wants us to do is just to press into Him. Over the last several months, I’ve heard and felt the Lord telling us to use any extra time we have to press in so as to truly know Him. Only by truly knowing God can we effectively clean our hearts and souls of the sins and ugliness of rebellion, hate, unforgiveness, bigotry, racism, judging, and bitterness so as to better position ourselves to clearly see the deception and lies of the enemy.

In fact, this is roughly how I’ve been spending the entirety of my pandemic experience. Early on in my work-from-home/quarantine time frame, I developed an insatiable desire for the manna of God’s Word and Presence.  Through that study, God has revealed many new gifts to me and directed me to various supernatural trainings to understand their use and purpose for furthering the Kingdom. I felt in my Spirit (and have also had verbal confirmation from others) that God is on an acceleration plan to reveal, train, and move people into new Spiritual giftings.  He’s lining up his earthly, spiritual warriors to shine the light of Truth on the lies and deceptions of His enemies and to set people free from the oppression of worldly bondage and, ultimately, eternity without Him.

Moreover, He’s calling up His children to new and higher responsibilities and tasks!  Don’t ask yourself if you’re ready because you’ll probably never feel completely “ready” for the kind of wisdom you’ll gain. Just take the leap of faith and say “Here am I, Father, not my will but your will be done.  Use me to bless and bring your people to you.”  I admit that it’s a bit scary to think of our Heavenly Father – the creator of the Universe – having a discreet plan to use us for His work here on earth, but isn’t that one of the fundamental pillars of our Christian faith?  Understand that no matter how unworthy or fearful we might feel, our Lord is right beside us all the way.  In fact, He loves to use us in our weaknesses and our faults because He knows we will lean on Him to help show us the way. 

In sum, the extra time given to us in 2020 should be used to bring us to a new level capable of handling whatever may come next, standing firm and strong like a tree planted by the river and not swayed by the world. And what’s coming next is 2021.

My Pastor, Phil Smith of Colorado Christian Fellowship, began this year with a message that we would see significant “shaking” in the world and in the church. Needless to say, he was right. Shaking is a way to get people’s attention, and it’s also a way to separate one element from another. Ever since then, our little church has been routinely weathering the difficulties with an enormous amount of comfort that God is most definitely in control. But the shaking isn’t over, and it appears it may last – indeed, it may intensify – as we move into 2021. Realize that this is a different message than you may get at other churches. Other churches seek only to move back into their buildings, run their services the only way they know how, and collect their mortgage or building fund. Their message is one of praying that the whole thing will end, resulting in a swift return to normalcy, and toward some sort broad Christian political revival that will apparently happen without forcing the church itself to examine its own practices.

My pastor and I simply don’t believe it will happen that way, and so we need to get ready for possibly an even more trying year in 2021. The clock is ticking, and we only have about two months left. But there’s still time to develop a plan to press into God so that you can handle whatever comes next with tranquility, and to use it as a tool for reaching and helping others. The key is to start getting ready now. There’s no more time to wait. 

So, my plea to you is to put away the flesh of politics. Put away the notions and tendencies of the natural world. Get ready to hunker down and study, opening your spiritual gifts and stepping into the real person God intends for you to be. No more unwholesome television. No more games or time objectively wasted on social media. And no more “religious” activities that turn you away from the relationship God intended for your life.  God is doing a new thing, and you need to be able to see it and fully participate in it. Isaiah 43:19.

My husband continues to do a lot of Christian apologetic and philosophy of religion study, and one day I’m sure he’ll share his resources. In the meantime, here are a few of the resources I’ve been using to learn, grow, and feast on the Truth during 2020.

  1. Sunday sermons online for Colorado Christian Fellowship (CCF) at https://ccfyourhome.org/view-page1/  Sunday church is at 8:30 am MST but is a recorded message so you can watch at your leisure or re-watch at will.
  • My pastor and his wife, Phil and Sylvia Smith, also do a weekly “coffee time” every Wednesday at 8 a.m. MST on the Colorado Christian Fellowship Facebook page. It’s like a family bible study (that only lasts about an hour), and it’s meaty and fun! Here’s a link to past recordings: https://ccfyourhome.org/apostle-phil-and-sister-sylvia-coffee-time/ 
  • I have also taken a few free classes (Revelation and Names of God) at Dallas Theological Seminary and here is that link https://courses.dts.edu/.  The have many free courses that allow you to work at your own pace.
  • CCF also has wonderful online classes for developing the 5-fold ministries (Apostle, Pastor, Prophet, Teacher, and Evangelist) as well as many other classes for spiritual development.  These are offered through Colorado Vocational Training School (CVTS).  Here is the link to see what they are offering.  https://www.cvtsonline.org/  I am taking several classes right now (Exegesis, Your True Spiritual Identity, Revelation) and they are great and very inexpensive and sometimes free.  There are also really great seminars offered throughout the year.
  • I have also been taking some online classes from Patricia King and reading books specifically for my giftings. 
  • I like to follow, Rabbi Schneider (Discovering the Jewish Jesus) as I am always interested in the Jewish teachings, festivals and aspects of walk with the Lord.  After all, Jesus was/is Jewish!  Here’s his site: https://discoveringthejewishjesus.com/.
  • I also follow Joseph Prince for his digging into the Word while working in the Hebrew and Greek and speaking to operation of the belief for our spiritual gifts.  I especially love his messages on healing through communion! Here’s his site: https://www.josephprince.org/.
  1. Finally, I’ve been journaling my prayers and making a gratitude list every day as well as logging and prayerfully interpreting my dreams and visions, using the daily devotional by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn called, “The Book of Mysteries,” which is about mysteries of the Bible.  By the way, if you want some really good prophetic books on events of and surrounding 911, and other mysteries of this time we live in, check out his other books like “The Harbinger.”  I’ve also been reading a ton of books on dreams and visions, revelations, and prophecy.  Don’t be overwhelmed, I work a full-time job and am using the extra 3 hours per day that I have now since I am not commuting downtown to my office.  It’s possible for you, too. Just start feeding your spirit and your mind good things!

Warning:  We’re always called to test the spirits (1 John 4:1) and we need to be ever careful in guarding our hearts and spirits to be sure we are learning from people with correct theology, who are speaking Truth and striving to be obedient to our Lord.  I have become much more discerning and watchful of who is speaking into to me, and frankly I’ve been surprised at how many false prophets seem to be operating at this time. Occasionally, I also see people claiming someone or other to be a “false prophet,” but with no evidence whatsoever. So do watch what you consume.

Remember that our bodies take in the words and spirit of those we allow to teach or speak into us.  Personally, I simply reject listening to anyone acting in rebellion to God or rules, anyone mixing money/politics into their words, or anyone in which my spirit feels a hesitation. If I find that I’m listening and learning from someone who I later discern not to be in alignment with God, I stop immediately, repent for following a false teacher and ask the Lord to remove any religious or polluted teachings from my spirit.  I admit that I’m not perfect. Like all of us, I’m just a work in process. Nevertheless, I find with such a wide array of teachers out there, I’m able to get confirmation of Truth.

If you have specific questions on what I’m studying I would be happy to share more.  Just get started if you are not already pressing in! But remember that wherever you are in your scriptural study, there is always more to learn.  Join us on our Arming The Saints Facebook page and/or my personal page at Denise Burrows as I share links to CCF Coffee Time and Sermons and other things from the people above.

May God abundantly bless you all!

Are We Selling God Short? (Part 2)

This blog was written by Tim, my husband.

This article, https://www.christianpost.com/voices/fri-2nd-embargo-for-noon-we-are-pro-life-evangelicals-for-biden.html?fbclid=IwAR1tf4aIvz53xyfDypNs7SAi9QaEL-ri4jvg1ws7bFRIw-9UPN2RTFp0WXA, and this statement, https://www.prolifeevangelicalsforbiden.com/, were recently written by a group of pro-life “evangelicals” who are, nonetheless, urging people to vote for Joe Biden. Like them, I am (along with Denise) personally against abortion. We want every child to be born into a loving family, and if that family cannot handle the important duties of raising children, then we want the child to be adopted into an equally loving family. Nevertheless, this article and statement mostly made me think deeper about certain theological issues that are raised by the whole issue. So, read the article and statement, and I’ll only add two things.   

First, as a lawyer, I echo the statement that even if the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe, there isn’t all that much that will change. It means the decision will be left to the states, and most states simply aren’t ready to get rid of abortion. Having worked in the federal courts, I simply don’t see the clear connection between putting someone conservative on the Supreme Court and “ending abortion.” It’s far more complicated.

Second, and for all my friends who are followers of Jesus, I encourage you to think deeply about the theology you’re embracing when you think that it’s crucial for you to vote for a particular President in order to advance God’s Kingdom and purpose, and particularly to vote in order to see one biblical thing accomplished at the expense of all others.  

As we mentioned in this blog before, if you’re a Christian, you undoubtedly believe in Divine Providence (or what one might call His wise and purposeful sovereignty), which is simply the belief that God is in control of all things to accomplish His plan. That’s an important part of Christian theology, most arguments against it are strained, and I simply disagree with any even unstrained arguments that tend to diminish God’s knowledge and authority over all things. In sum, Divine Providence is an important pillar of our faith.

Indeed, think about what it looks like if you don’t believe that. It means that you think God is constantly surprised, and possibly even confused by what’s happening in the world. There are actually people who believe this (they’re sometimes called “open theists”), but I think you’ll recognize that such a notion seems at least superficially unbiblical and is definitely unsatisfying. In fact, we followers of Jesus often say these things out loud – God is in control; God knows everything; God is all powerful; God is morally perfect. God is, as Saint Anselm described, the perfect being or the “greatest conceivable being,” and perfect being theology is on par with scripture for giving us insight into God’s nature. If God weren’t perfect, we’d simply have little reason to worship Him. And, as I’ve frequently said after years of study, I’ve come to reject all arguments that tend to dimmish any of God’s perfect characteristics. In sum, a God who is surprised or shocked at human events isn’t much of a God.

But if you do, in fact, believe in Divine Providence, then you have to recognize that God is in charge now just as He has been in charge all throughout human history until now. Indeed, He has allowed abortion – just as He has allowed wars, famine, murder, and pandemics – for what we can only fathom to be His incomparably good reasons. That’s not to say that God is bad or evil, or even that he is remotely pleased by anything considered evil. It’s simply the likely inevitable outcome of creating free willed creatures and actualizing a world that produces what He wants in the way of an eternal Kingdom for those creatures. The discussion of why certain bad things happen in the world when we have an all-powerful and perfectly good God is called by theologians the “problem of evil,” and if you’ve never looked into it, I encourage you to do so, as it’s a primary reason that people choose atheism. In sum, whether articulated as a logical or a probability issue, the problem of evil should never stand in the way of your belief in God. Similarly, following notions of God’s Divine Providence, you can find equally cogent arguments by Christian scholars as to why God might have allowed abortion to happen and not need anyone’s help with eliminating it.  

The point is that if you believe in Divine Providence (as nearly all Christians do), then you quickly move off track when you think that without your help – for example, without your vote for a particular person for political office – God cannot get done what He wants to get done. The fact is, God doesn’t need your help, and the future is as unsurprising to God as the past.

Interestingly, and for whatever reasons, it appears that it is only in America that we tend to discount God in such a manner. Indeed, as we mentioned in our last blog, prominent Old Testament scholar Knute Heim (who has ministries on something like four continents) once told me that thinking that God needs our help to achieve His kingdom and purpose is a uniquely American notion. Something about our independence I suppose.

Personally, I’m a Molinist, which means that I believe that by using His middle knowledge, God gave up neither divine providence nor libertarian creaturely freedom, and created a universe (or actualized a world out of all possible worlds) in which a certain amount of suffering was inevitable. That means that I still have the ability to choose to do what’s right, but it also means that I know without doubt that whatever happens in the world has been allowed by God for an incomparable good that I might never fully understand. His plan is to grow His kingdom, and I have to leave it to God to best determine how to do it.

Nevertheless, even if you are one of those Christian folks I mentioned (the “open theist,” above) who thinks that personal free-will actions can somehow change God’s overall plan, then you’re still in the same boat as people like me, who affirm libertarian free will but also absolute Divine Providence at the same time. The question that must be answered is what, as free-willed individuals, we’re to do on a daily basis to adhere to our Biblical worldview. To an open theist, I think the answer would be easy. On any given day, the open theist would try to make decisions that follow clear biblical principles. When the question becomes casting a vote between one person versus another, then it seems most rational to vote for the person who, overall, generally advances biblical principles more than his or her opponent, since nobody can fully live up to Jesus’ example. This position would be based on a number of things, including the notion that as a perfectly Holy being, God treats all sins the same. To the open theist, the statement I linked, above, would seem to articulate fully why he or she should vote where the balance is tipped in favor of one candidate better following the Bible than the other.

By the way, I note that the first comment to the linked story (when I first read it) says that “the blood of tens of millions of murdered babies cries out to God for justice.” But even open theists believe that God is perfectly just and thus are likely to believe, as I do, that justice has already been provided in His plan for these babies. Again, to think that casting a vote a certain way is the only way to “bring justice” to the issue is to, once again, diminish another attribute of God that is central to the Christian religion.

If you’re not an open theist, however, and, like me, you’ve already grappled with how to reconcile Divine Providence and libertarian free will, then you’re still in the same position. Divine Providence should not keep you from doing the right thing on any given day (as on the Molinist view, the plan can be still be affected by, for example, specific actions or petitionary prayers), but having libertarian freedom should in no way make you think that you’re God’s only way to achieve his purpose. It’s a bit complicated, but the result is really the same in the sense that you have an obligation to act in a biblical way on discreet issues every day. Accordingly, as a Molinist, and when choosing between two people for office, I similarly would likely vote for the one who tends to foster overall biblical principles the most. I understand that, for whatever reason, God chose a world in which sin (including abortion, but also lying, hypocrisy, and hating) exists, but I still feel an obligation to do my individual part to follow the Bible in my own actions, whether or not it has any bearing on God’s overall plan. I would much rather God tell me, “Good job following your heart and the biblical principles even though the result is not what you wanted,” than ask me, “Whey didn’t you follow biblical principles? Did you think that I didn’t have everything under control?” 

The upcoming election provides special circumstances, however. In any normal election, one might see a mix of pros and cons, biblically speaking, for any particular candidate. But in this election, I see one candidate trying to reach Christians by speaking to only one issue (abortion), while disregarding, if not willingly flouting, every other biblical principal I can list. Indeed, in previous blogs, I’ve written that the Republican candidate actually espouses a life credo that is identical to that found in Laveyan Satanism (a sort-of opposite Golden Rule). Such is his disdain for God’s creatures. Personally, I would never base my vote for a person on a single issue when doing so literally means discarding scores of other, equally important biblical principles like poverty, racism, hypocrisy, dishonesty, conserving the planet, and hatred. Indeed, to do so would be akin to striking a Faustian bargain with the devil, which, as you know from reading the legend of Faust, inevitably ends with the corruption of one’s soul.

In the end, and as we mentioned previously, we simply shouldn’t sell God short. Everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen is under His control. Whether we like it or not – and certainly whether we understand it all – it’s all a part of His plan to create a Kingdom into which you – by being created with God’s purpose in mind – are invited.

Are We Selling God Short?

To say my spirit is grieved these days is an understatement, given all the hate, discord, fighting, and arguing in our world. I think most of us will agree that the division we’re seeing in the U.S. has mostly surrounded political issues, and – if you’re like me and have lived several decades – seems to have grown exponentially over just the last few years. I have personally noticed that even in the last twenty years people have become simultaneously more open in their own opinions and less tolerant of others opinions/beliefs. Sometimes that lack of tolerance comes out as absolutely hateful and condemning. To me, it just seems like during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s people seemed to have retained a measure of respect for others and their wellbeing as well as some basic manners to keep peace in social interactions. My husband recalls that both his dad and his grandfather were state political party chairman, and yet they were able to communicate their beliefs without degrading others. Frankly, I’m not sure where we got the idea that people need to hear our opinions at all. I suppose it has a lot to do with the Internet and the perceived anonymity that it brings, but that’s a topic for later on. The point is that right now hateful political partisanship is rampant in our country, and seeing it both saddens and embarrasses me.

As a follower of Christ, I have to wonder how this came about. How in the world did politics so infiltrate our churches that now some Christians hold it above everything, including the Truth of what God is saying? I mean, thirty years ago, if you had said that in the future there would be a growing discontent over certain concrete biblical doctrines in the church, I might have said, “Well, that makes some sense.” But, instead, its politics mostly divorced from doctrine. People have actually tied their “religion” to a political party, such that anyone not of that party is thought to be heretical – or worse. And, perhaps even more disturbing, we’ve lost touch with our own basic Christian tenets while waging this monstrously stupid “culture war.”

Let me give you an example. It’s a fundamental pillar of the Christian faith that God is in control. We might speak of this notion in terms of divine attributes, such as His omnipotence and omniscience or through his comprehensive divine providence. There is not a single thing that gets past Him and that does not conform to his overall purpose. Proverbs 16:4 says, “The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.” Lamentations 3:37 states, “Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it?” Romans 8:28 states, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose.” He knew us before we were born and has numbered the hairs on our heads. There’s not a single thing that happens – not even the fall of a single sparrow, as it says in the Bible – that has not been designed to fulfill His plan. Think about it; every single thing that has happened so far in the world and every single thing that will happen in the future is part of God’s plan for the universe. Why, then, do we sell him short?

How do we do that, you may ask? By thinking that somehow His plan cannot be realized without our constant, vocal, and increasingly hateful attempts to push forward mere humans to eliminate sin or to create some new Christian revival. We think, quite erroneously, that things simply cannot happen without our getting involved – loudly involved – at any cost, including the cost of violating various other core biblical principles. Worse, we think we know His plan, and we violate His law in trying to force it to happen. Basically, to win, we don’t act anything like true Christians.

On our trip to Israel, prominent Old Testament Professor Knute Heim said it was a “uniquely American” notion not to trust God in these matters. He simply didn’t see the same thing happening anywhere else in the world, and he has ministries on something like four Continents. It appears to be Americans, alone, who think they need to run the show.

So, I’m bothered by the fact that we don’t seem to follow what we say we believe, which is that God is in firmly control. But I think I’m more bothered by the fact that in doing so we’re also missing God’s overall will or purpose, which is to bring people into the Kingdom. Ever since a large segment of the church aligned itself with a particular political party in the late 1970s and early 1980s, we have had a difficulty in being biblical referees in the political arena. As followers of Jesus, we are in a unique position based on our alien status to reflect and communicate what is right and wrong about society in a neutral way. Like a referee. It shouldn’t matter who does or says what; if it doesn’t line up with God’s word, we are supposed to be there to illuminate it. When that is done, people say, “Look at those Christians, they’re always on the side of right.” Instead, what I’ve seen lately is a tendency not to call out sin, but to justify it because, for the most part, calling it out would benefit that party with which we do not agree.

That’s too bad, because people in both parties are doing bad things, and by not calling those things out as we see them, we are misrepresenting our beliefs, God, and the Bible. I’ve always personally believed that the worst possible supernatural judgment will come to those who thwart people from seeking God. And we do that every day by not calling out anything that is not Biblical. Indeed, these actions make people think that we believe God is not in control. They make people think that it’s okay to demean and degrade people for sake of winning a political issue. They make people think that followers of Jesus are just massive hypocrites, who have no idea what the Bible even says.

All of this seems especially important today simply because so many in the church seem to believe that unless they “destroy” whoever is in the “other” party, the world will decay and end. They believe that personal insertion into politics at any cost is the only way to save the universe. Well, guess what? God doesn’t need you to save the universe. He’s created it, and he’s already saved it. And, moreover, it will end on God’s timing with the creation of a new heaven and earth. What people do in this life is important with eternal consequences, but that’s exactly why they need to stop and assess the costs of getting “their” way.

Now, people might think that having their chosen person in political office is the key to a religious revival. That’s apparently what Texas politician Rick Perry believed not long ago, when he told the current President that he was the “chosen one.” But let me remind you that the Bible does not end in a revival, but in tribulation. God’s choice of someone to lead any particular nation may be, in fact, designed to bring that particular end to pass.

So, practically speaking, what do we do? This question can get complicated pretty quickly when one starts talking about determinism, open theism, and middle knowledge, but I think the key is for followers of Jesus to start acting like the biblical referees they are called to be and to cease doing things at any cost. Yes, there will come a point when people will be asked to vote for a particular person for political office. So, they should vote. But they shouldn’t tear the entire house down – demeaning others, misinterpreting the Bible, spewing hatred, spreading false prophesies – trying to get that person elected. Above all, they should begin acting as though they actually believe that God is in control. How people vote may have some secular consequences, but whether they follow biblical principles in how they vote, for whom they vote, and why they vote is far more meaningful to God. His will is going to get done no matter what they do.

So, do remember, Saints. God IS in control. He has always has had a plan for this world and that plan will happen likely completely outside of our human wills and desires. For those of us fervently seeking Him, seeking His ways, and to trying to know Him better, remember also that we’ll always find provision and peace in uncertain times, so if we’re not at peace, we must press in. Prayer is the supernatural force that unlocks the heavenlies and calls the angelic into action and must be a part of our daily worship. So, when in doubt, pray. But pray knowing that His will is perfect and always gets done.

Personally, I’ve been spending more time in the Word and in quiet time asking God to show me things I need to change in me to make myself more pleasing to Him. For what it’s worth, I was instructed to spend less time watching the news, and far less time thinking about politics, the virus, or any variety of unwholesome informational sources in order to clear my spirt so I can hear and see Truth in what is happening in our world. Trust me when I say that I still have a long way to go, but the Lord quickened in me that I am accountable for how I spend my time and He has told many of us that this COVID time is to be a time of preparation for what comes next. I don’t spend every moment in the Word, but the more I read, the more I recognize how little I truly know about my Father in Heaven. That knowledge, in turn, makes me ravenous for His Word, which really is a good example of a virtuous circle. All of this has given me a tremendous amount of peace right now – in fact, I have more uplifting peace that I can remember!

My heart’s desire for you, my brothers and sisters, is for immeasurable revelation of Truth, knowledge, and wisdom as well as a personal relationship with our Lord to embrace you and your own hearts. I pray for open minds to see and discern the lies and deceptions of the enemy, and to recognize his work in dividing our nation, families, friends, and churches. I pray for that spirit of evil to leave any and all followers of Jesus so that we can grow in Truth and purity. I pray for eyes to see and ears to hear this Truth and to open ourselves for change to take place in Christians who are feeding on the “world” agenda rather than on the “Word” agenda so that they will be ready, strong, and fortified for what’s coming next. I pray for the Church to mend itself, to stand on the Truth of the Word, and to work to properly train and equip its people to bring the light back into the world. Finally, I pray that we all recognize that, despite being the creator of the universe, that God cares deeply for each of us; as stated in Matthew 18:14, that He “is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.”

We all need to re-examine our actions, beliefs, and words each day. We need to see if the enemy has worked a finger into a crack in our armor or started to sow seeds of discouragement, bitterness, hatefulness, depression, hopelessness, and/or doubt. We need to ask Father to reveal this to us and, if necessary, to burn it out of our hearts so as to ready us to receive His Truth and His will. We must become more discerning of God’s will. But, most importantly, we must remember that God is in complete control and that, therefore, we should not to sell Him short

“Evangelical Christians”

I recently saw a post on Facebook about “those Evangelical Christians in Washington, DC.”  I started to reply, but I ultimately erased it. Still, the whole thing bothered me. That’s because more and more I hear this phrase – “Evangelical Christians” – used liberally on all media, and it’s never used in any kind of a good way. The more I think about it, the more I’m disappointed and distressed by the current use of both the words “Evangelical” and “Christian.” So, I want to address each term separately, but then together to indicate how I feel.

I became disillusioned with the term “Christian” many years ago as I noticed how often people would utter it with disgust. At the time, I had to admit that this particular word came with a lot of baggage. Centuries of “Christian” elitism, laws crafted by Christians dictating the acceptable religions of the day, the Crusades, Manifest Destiny, and other atrocities or otherwise immoral acts perpetrated by groups claiming to be Christians tend to cause a repulsive reaction to a word that people think sums things up. My husband grew up in a neighborhood in which his famous neighbor – a self-proclaimed Christian – used to fly flags and banners saying, “God Hates Fags.” You’ve probably heard of him, and there wasn’t an ounce of love inside of him. Yet, everything he did was done in the name of Christianity.

By the way, the term “Christian” (from Christianos – followers of Christ) appears to have been coined fairly early on as a way to designate this new group and differentiate them from other Jews. It’s first seen in the Acts, and gradually replaced what the Christians themselves preferred to be called, which was “saints,” “brethren” or “disciples.” One researcher has noted that the infrequency of the term “Christian” in the New Testament indicates its non-use then, and has surmised that because the word “Christos” and its ties to anointing meant little to outsiders, those outsiders, instead, settled on calling these people descriptors based on the word “Chrestos,” which meant virtuous, good, or moral, and seemed to be an apt description for the people who so often showed a different sort of moralistic, sanctified behavior. His theory is that as the term Chrestos caught on, often with some scorn and perhaps even as a pun, the followers of Christ felt pressured to adopt and emphasize a more accurate word to reflect who they were and who they were following. This should not take away from the fact that Christians, as a group, have been vilified, often due to the message, but just as often through their own behavior. It also means that we aren’t necessarily wedded to the word.

And the baggage continues to pile up today. I’ve seen my share of “Christians” in the public eye not appearing to live according to the words of the Bible. Indeed, we seemed to have reached a fever pitch with this stuff in the last few decades with so many televangelists falling due to their immoral, hypocritical, and often criminal behavior. At its very basic level, a “Christian” should be one who allows the Holy Spirit to tell them when they’ve done something wrong, willingly asks for forgiveness, and then makes serious amends for his or her mistakes. But there have been so many “Christians” that don’t even appear to follow the general thrust or themes of the Bible that I have discarded the name altogether. In my heart, I know that most Christians are not immoral hypocrites, but even a small percentage of people can do a great deal of damage to a label over hundreds of years. Accordingly, while I’m not ashamed of being a Christian, I tell people outwardly that I’m a “follower of Jesus” or a “follower of Christ.”

And by doing so, I’m not doing anything that Jesus might not also have done. When Jesus was with us in the flesh, he continually denounced the hypocrisy of those in the church. Dr. Stanley D. Toussaint of the Dallas Theological Seminary often said that, “The Lord’s strongest words of invective were not against murderers or thieves or sexually immoral people. His strongest words of invective were against hypocrites.” To Dr. Toussaint, hypocrisy is a sin that affects every single person today, but also a sin that is “particularly loathsome to God.” And yet, despite the clear theme (see, e.g., Matt: 23) we see so much hypocrisy today that we take it for granted. In politics, we’ve grown to expect it.

The bottom line is that lots and lots of people have used (and still use) the term “Christian” to describe themselves, and yet they act in overtly non-biblical ways. This, in turn, causes people to stop even seeking God. And stopping someone from seeking God has got to be one of the worst possible things you can do to someone on this Earth.

In addition to “Christian,” the word “Evangelical” is rapidly evolving into a term having at least the same amount of baggage. And, similarly, I find I need to distance myself from what would ordinarily be – and used to be – a great descriptive word.

According to Websters, the definition of “evangelical” is “of, relating to, or being in agreement with the Christian gospel especially as it is presented in the four Gospels.” I once visited the National Association of Evangelical’s website and, in addition to other statements of belief, saw that it said evangelicals are “serious” about the Bible. Unfortunately, I increasingly see people who claim to be evangelicals who are decidedly not serious about the Bible. In fact, and quite unfortunately for me, I consider myself to be an evangelical and so I see lots of social media posts from other so-called evangelicals. And lots of times those posts really upset me. For example, how – and, I’m really serious about this – how in the world can an evangelical post something about God one minute and then turn around and post something showing hatred, judgment, or scorn on someone the next? I actually saw someone post a picture of Jesus and something about love, followed within minutes by a post wanting to kill all “liberal democrats.”

I suppose you can see where this is going. The term “Christian” is a goner for me. It’s got too much baggage and suffers from extreme hypocrisy. I choose the term “follower of Jesus,” because at least then it’s a more direct line toward holding up my behavior to the ultimate moral model. The word “evangelical,” on the other hand, doesn’t have centuries of problems, but it has become a gigantic problem today with so-called evangelicals – people proclaiming to be serious about the Bible – showing so much hypocrisy and politicization that the term itself is almost uniformly uttered with scorn. Again, like Christian hypocrites, evangelical hypocrites do more to harm the Kingdom of God than anything else of which I can think. How do you stop a child from wondering about God and perhaps beginning a search toward finding God? The best way (likely devised by Satan himself) is to show him or her various vocal “Christians” or “Evangelicals” who simply do not follow the Bible. Show the child an “evangelical Christian” who hates people. That’ll do it. I think God hates hypocrisy so much because it keeps people from even beginning the journey that might lead to his Kingdom.

Today, we unfortunately hear the two words together: “Evangelical Christian.” Two perfectly good words – indeed, words that used to fully describe me – ruined by hypocrisy and politics. Whenever you hear them together you can hear the scorn and disgust. And, you can almost assuredly envision some child somewhere saying, “Well, whoever they are, I’m not going to be like them when I grow up.”

Of course the world hates “Christians.” Of course it hates “evangelicals.” Who wouldn’t, given some of the things I’ve seen? But being scorned for hypocrisy is a whole lot different than being scorned for righteousness. Personally, I hate the fact that I can’t even use these two words anymore. Moreover, the world doesn’t hate these labels because all Christians and evangelicals are bad. Nope, the people of the world simply do what is entirely human to do, which is to watch those who identify with the labels most vocally as they behave in a decidedly un-Biblical manner, and then brush off the whole lot. And I don’t blame them. As a one-time evangelical Christian, I’m just sorry about the whole thing.

So, what do we do? Well, in my case I tell people I’m a follower of Jesus and that I have a Biblical worldview. But I do more than that. I now go out of my way to say, “Please realize that I am nothing like those people who claim to be evangelical Christians but who demonstrate hatred, judgment and immorality.  If my introduction to people were in the form of a document, it means that I’ve added a paragraph – an aside – to try to distance myself from a group that I call “political Christians,” a group that, sadly, keeps people from God because it has pushed a world agenda ahead of God. If it weren’t so sad, it would be ironically funny – evangelical Christians, the group who would tell you (these days quite vocally and with some amount of political fervor) that they’re only trying to bring more people to Christ – are actually driving people away from Christ. More and more each day.

Still, there’s always hope for the world and even hope for the most hypocritical and politicized members of our churches. But it means taking a hard look at how far we might have moved away from God. If we hear someone talk about God, and the first thing we think about is the Supreme Court, then we should realize that we need to get back to basics. God is real. Satan is real. God hates hypocrisy. Satan will try to turn you into a hypocrite. It’s a battle for good and evil that we’re losing, and in losing we’re actually dissuading other people from seeking God. And, by the way, if people hear this warning and don’t heed  it, then they shouldn’t be surprised when they’re called to account for willingly turning people away from God for some short-term, often political but always worldly, gain.

Now, of course, hated of the followers of Christ has been foretold, and people will occasionally try to justify their unbiblical actions by claiming that the public’s scorn is just a part of the overall persecution of Christians predicted in the Bible. Even Jesus said, “Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved,” and “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.”  (Mark 13:13; Luke 6:22). But – and this is really big – Jesus did not mean, “They’ll hate you when say you follow me but act in a completely opposite, worldly manner.” No, he meant “they’ll hate you for doing exactly what I have told you to do, acting exactly as I have told you to act. And I told you to love God and love others as yourself.”

There will be some who, on their last day, will say, “But, Lord, I’ve been a Christian all of my life. In fact, I’m an Evangelical Christian.” And on that day, the words of Scripture will truly come true, and just has he said he would, Jesus will reply, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46).

“I never knew you.” (Matt 7:22-23).

Seek God. Follow Christ. Read the Word. Remember the commands. Focus on love for God and others.


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