Friday, March 25, 2016


To become a physician in America, one must must receive a valid license to practice medicine!

Getting to this point requires years of pre-med, then medical school, then further training in a residency program and finally, testing to receive board certification and licensure.

When two or more physicians discuss a case or communicate about certain issues, they understand each other. Why? Because their training has equipped them to comprehend what they are discussing even in the details and nuances!

The average person may understand the less complicated aspects of how medicine works but he would not be able to walk into an operating room and hand the surgeon the right instruments for a surgery - let alone perform that surgery. He also would not be able to correctly advise a patient in the more complex cases, recommend a treatment or prescribe the proper medications for that patient.

If we transfer the principle to Christianity, there are similarities that should be obvious, yet seem to be absent from many - perhaps even the majority - of the modernized churches that exist in America today!

Christians today seem to completely discard the principle that training equips and prepares us to know and understand God, His ways and His Word! 

It is true that training is different in our walk with God than it is in other fields. Completing a man-made training program alone, such as Bible college, is not enough to equip us to know or understand God! Of course, if it is godly and biblically accurate training, it can be a wonderful tool! Yet, on its own, it can never take the place of God's trying program!

A person may be intelligent enough to grasp all of the "head knowledge" that he or she is presented with. Yet there can be very little, if any, accompanying work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of that person!

We must be trained by God! Yes, He will use man. Yes Bible colleges and seminaries can play a large part in God's training program. But they are completely useless if a man or woman does not enter into a close personal walk in his or her heart with the Great Master and Teacher!

While Christianity is completely compatible with higher education and intellectual pursuit, the work of God primarily take place in the heart! Thus some who have little "education" according to the world's standards, can be much mightier in the Spirit than others who are considered "highly educated!"

Great Christian leaders, past and present, have had much to communicate about church mediocrity and lukewarmness!

The modern church seems to have moved away from discussing any need to hunger and  thirst for excellence in Christ. This desire to walk with God has been taught and strongly emphasized through the millenniums since Jesus' first came as a man!

Today, "God accepts you as you are," has been downgraded to "God wants you to stay as you are!"

Avoiding offending people seems to be of much greater importance than pleasing God! Making everyone feeling "loved" takes precedence over being conformed to the image of the Son of God and holy living! We are no longer challenged to "grow up" in our walk with God. in fact we are encouraged to avoid that topic for the sake of making all feel content with the status quo of our own comfort zone - regardless of how mediocre and lukewarm that comfort zone may be!

How does our illustration of medical training being necessary to equip physicians relate to Christians today?

By their own estimation, many Christians today only occasionally read the Bible, let alone study its contents. They pray very little and only attend church when it is convenient. Their ministry consists only of outward works without the proclamation of the gospel God commands His Word!

No one would accept our personal opinion if we merely "read a medical book occasionally?" The great majority of us would never be arrogant enough to assume they could give medical advice or preform surgeries under those circumstances.

Yet in the church, we value the opinions of all equally, even if they are new converts. Even the highly speculative opinions of unbelievers are often valued as though they were theological certainties! What degree of arrogance is required for Christians, who do not study the Bible, pray or attend church to advise others or to form our own personal theologies?

Yet that is exactly what a great many Christians presume to do today!

They admittedly don't have a close walk with God - yet make theological statements about God, such as, "God doesn't care about that." Or, "That's not a sin."

Based on what? We have no basis to form, let alone promote opinions about God if we are not seeking to develop a close walk with Him! We cannot know what pleases God unless we are students of His Word! We cannot sense His call on our lives unless we are seeking Him in prayer! We cannot know if our pastor, or the church we are attending are biblically accurate - unless we have been trained to  rightly discern the truth through a deep, intimate knowledge of God and His Word!

As a "lay person" in the medical field, we can only tell people to "Eat chicken soup for a cold." Or "Get some rest." not presume to go much farther - freely admitting to themselves that they are not qualified to comprehend medicine at the level of a trained physician or give medical advice.

Yet as Christians we presume to speak and promote theological points of view that are far beyond our shallow knowledge of God!

Paul spoke of his message as a mystery that only the mature could understand:

6 However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.
7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory.

1 Corinthians 2:6-7 (emphasis added)

There are many levels of maturity. So, like me, you need not fear that only some elite, "super Christians" can understand God. A better way to think of it is as a ladder. The higher we climb the more we will understand.

The more we humbly and diligently seek God, the closer our walk with Him will be! The more we are willing to lay down our preconceived ideologies, and accept His ways in their place, the more enlightenment will come to us!

When we cling to a shallow, lower view of God, it is impossible to see Him as He really is!

I don't know about you but I want to see Him more clearly. The more clearly we see, the smaller our problems and the less we will value or esteem the things of this world. An object  may be very difficult to see if it is at the top of a mountain while we are standing on the ground. But the higher we climb, the more the object in our vision comes into focus!

If we remain on the ground, we can only speculate about what that which is at the top seems to be. These thoughts will be out of focus at best and mistaken and erroneous at their worst!

Every one of us is called to strive to climb the ladder - drawing ever closer to Him as the days of our lives go by!

God has promised that the reward will be great for those who diligently seek Him:

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Hebrews 11:6




Friday, March 11, 2016


Many American Christians today believe our nation is headed in a very bad direction morally and spiritually - and that God is our only hope to turn things around. Signs are ever present of our moral and spiritual decline - warning us that things must change.

Furthermore, repentance is correctly heralded as the cure! Yet, I cannot help but wonder if our repentance really goes deep enough!

I say this for a few reasons:

1. Blind Spots!
We all have a list of sins which we are personally "above." It is very easy for us to agree that our nation must repent of the obvious sins which we see around us . Yet we all also have "blind spots" which hide our own sins from us!

Often they are inward and are not as easily seen - even by others around us! Yet God can see them as clear as crystal!

2. Cultural Changes!
I have lived through six decades in America! Others have lived longer. The moral and spiritual climate has changed drastically during that time! But, because the change has been gradual, I fear that it is not as obvious to young people as it is to us old folks!

Recently the changes have escalated to the point where, even many young Christians, are alarmed. My fear is that we will want God only to intervene enough to get us back to the "old normal."

Unfortunately, the "old normal" is still far from where God wants us!

A good illustration is when we find something so bad that we are would happily return to the mediocrity of old! If a war erupted in our neighborhood, for example, we would be happy if it returned to its pre-war state - however bad it might have been before the decline! It's previous condition still seems much better to us than a constant state of war! We then accept that which is inferior because, comparatively, it is still better than the extreme evil it had become!

3. God is Slow to Anger!
We must not mistake God's patience when judging our nation, as a sign of His approval! All men are fallen and sinful by nature. God has already condemned all to an eternity apart from Him!

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:18 (emphasis added)

The standard we are to live cannot be completely discovered by looking back to the time of America's birth - or in some other period of our nation's history in which higher moral standards were more prevalent!

God's standard can only be found in Jesus Christ Himself! 

When we truly realize the width, height and depth of God's standards of holiness, it will humble us to the point where we cannot help but fall on our knees before Him and worship! We cannot "grade on the curve" when it comes to God's standards. We cannot live by the dictum, "The majority rules!" 

We must, instead, seek Him directly if we are to learn and truly understand, His higher thoughts and ways! (See Isaiah 55:8-9)

We may merely hope that our nation to turn from its most recent and most wicked sins - not truly realizing how far we have drifted from God! If God's standards are much deeper - then His judgments will also be more thorough and His search of our hearts, thoughts and actions, more comprehensive!

Consider some of the judgments of the churches in the book of Revelation:
  • You have left your first love. (Revelation 2:4)
  • Acceptance of false doctrines. (Revelation 2:14-15)
  • Sexual immorality and idolatry! (Revelation 2:20-21)
  • Having a reputation of being alive - but being dead! (Revelation 3:1)
  • Lukewarmness! (Revelation 3:15)
  • Self opinion of riches and wealth - yet judged by God to be wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked! (Revelation 3:17)
We might think of vices, bad habits or extreme evil when we try to pin down the sins of our nation. But the list above teaches us that God looks much deeper!

We must consider how we have fared in our walk with Him! David said, "My soul follows hard after Thee!" (Psalm 63:8) How hard are we following? How much time, effort and energy do we put into seeking Him? In prayer? In studying His Word? In forsaking all to be His disciples? 

Will God judge us for our lack of zeal in pursuing Him?

MY WAY OR GOD'S WAY? These sins in the book of Revelation indicate that the closeness of our walk with Him is a vital part in our pursuit of holiness and doing what is pleasing to God!

Rather than a list of do's and don't's, sin can be simply defined as doing our own will and seeking what pleases us - instead of doing His will and seeking what pleases Him!

When we consider Jesus' perfection, we must all ask our ourselves whether our repentance goes deep enough, or is thorough enough, for God to save our nation! Do we want to merely "clean up our act" and return to the "old normal?" Or...

Do we truly want to be conformed into the image of God's Son?

This image we may imagine of God's Son is not pleasing to God, if it conceived merely through the exercise of our own fallen imaginations! So often, the church lives out its own concepts of what Jesus is like, or what He would do!

We must seek Him and delve deeply into His Word if we are to tap into His higher concepts of holiness and righteousness - and His perfect and exalted image of the Son of God in Jesus Christ!

In this era of the "God loves you as you are" in the church, we seem to have neglected the call to grow to maturity and strive for excellence - to be all that God intended us to be in Him!