Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Recently I received the following request:
The occult, specifically witches, palm readers and spiritualists are common in our community today; please send me some scripture references in this area.

Below one of the strongest references that we can stand on from the Bible:

[9] When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. [10] Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, [11] or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. [12] Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. [13] You must be blameless before the Lord your God.
[14] The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so. Deut. 18:9-14 (NIV)

Sunday, June 28, 2009


A single mother once wrote me that she was "tired of hearing (of) the need to give more money" to the church. She went on to say that she was a faithful tither, so much so that it caused her to sacrifice having the funds to fix her shower that had been out of order. And she was frustrated with others who weren't tithing.

I could relate.

For all of my married life, Judi and I have tithed faithfully as well as given sacrificially above and beyond. These decisions have been tremendous sacrifices for us but the joy that comes from being faithful to our Lord makes it worth it!

The Lord reminds us, "Everything you think you own is really on loan. And everything you give is given back to you at greater value."

I can honestly say that every cent we've given to the Lord has blessed us more than it cost us. Sometimes the blessing is in seeing His provision in other ways (like when He miraculously answers specific prayers). Sometimes the blessing is in the loosened grip materialism has on us, and especially on our children. Materialism can't have power over us when we honor God with our giving! Sometimes the blessing is in the tangible sense that God is smiling. I can actually feel God smiling on me at times because of our giving! Nothing is better than that!!! Sometimes the blessing is the ability to be satisfied with simpler things.

But whatever it is, God always, always gives us back more than we give Him. This is without fail. We have never been able to out-give God!

The Bible repeats this principle over and over again. Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21).

The truth is that if you aren't giving at least 10% to the Lord, you probably have less than 10% of your heart with Him. And, therefore, your life greatly lacks intimacy with Him (which is one reason you're not living a full life).

As a Pastor, I am compelled to preach the truth as it is written in God's Word. You may not like it and I may not like it, but the truth must be spoken if we are to live life to the fullest. And make no mistake about it; money is not what life is about. God is. But money (and how you use it) can tell you if God is what your life is about!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


We get hung up when we see “rewards” as opposed to “God’s Glory.” If someone does something for a reward, we assume it must be selfish, self serving & therefore not glorifying to God. But the Bible teaches that godly reward and God’s glory are not mutually exclusive. They flow from each other or, as John Piper puts it, deeds & rewards in God’s kingdom are "organically related.”

In other words when we do something that honors God & are rewarded for it, God is even more glorified when the reward is given because the deed & reward are, by nature, glorifying to God.

For example, you cannot love out of selfish motives, not if it’s pure, biblical love. But we are promised a “reward” for loving (Luke 6:35). You see, God wants us to follow Him not out of duty, & He would rather we follow Him out of more than just obedience. He wants us to follow Him out of delight. And when we do so, we are rewarded with more of Him.

In other words, there are two types of rewards in scripture: pure “reward” flowing from pure motives and sinful “reward” flowing from selfish motives (as in a mercenary doing something good simply to be paid).

Let me give you an example from my wedding anniversary. Let’s say I buy Judi a dozen roses, chocolates & take her out to dinner. While I’m at dinner, she asks me, “Why did you do this?” If I say, “ I did it because I’m supposed to . . . it’s my duty to appreciate you. I must be unselfish.”

How do you think that would make her feel? It would not mean much would it? But if I said, “Because I’m absolutely in love with you & it’s delightful to be your husband!” she would beam. And a pure reward would follow: Deeper love. Pure love leads to the reward of more pure love. And there’s nothing wrong with pursuing that & wanting it. Some rewards are pure & are purely pursued.

One of the rewards of Heaven, the top reward as a matter of fact, is intimacy with God. That is the highest pleasure of Heaven. The rewards of possessions & power also will be organically related to this intimacy.

In other words, the possessions will be pure possessions & have no selfishness attached to them. My bible is a pure possession. I enjoy it because it gives me intimacy with God. Our power, possessions & pleasure will be pure in Heaven. They will stimulate us to the glory of God. C.S. Lewis writes about this in his excellent essay "The Weight of Glory."

Read the following quote carefully because it accurately & profoundly represents biblical truth on this subject. "The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves & to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ, and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire.

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good & earnestly hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant & the stoics & is no part of the Christian faith.

Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward & the staggering nature of rewards promised in the gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink & sex & ambition when infinite joy is offered us. Like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

A great, classic book on this topic is John Piper’s "Desiring God." I highly recommend you read it. It will change your life! It did mine!

Check out my first post on this topic What's in it for God? Part 1

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Someone once asked me: Is it is biblical to not store up treasures on earth, but to store them up in Heaven? Doesn’t this mean to invest in things that have eternal impact such as spreading the gospel, love, sacrifice, forgiveness, etc.?

Yes storing treasures in Heaven or investing in the buried treasure is investing in God’s agenda. Primarily, that agenda is fulfilled through His church (1Tim 3:15). And is carried out through the ministries of the church which include sharing the gospel, love, sacrifice, forgiveness, etc…

If the church is not fulfilling these ministries, God will hold us accountable (which is why churches are called to task in Rev. 1-3). The church is given the responsibility & accountability to carry out God’s agenda for the world. *Side note: the church is the ONLY institution empowered to do so. (The gates of hell shall not prevail against us – Matt 6:18).

In Matthew 13 it seems clear that Jesus is speaking about financially investing in Heaven (ie. monetary giving) because he returns to the topic again in Matthew 19 where it is specifically identified as money.

Now that does not mean that money is the only thing we are to give. We are also to do good works (which, by the way, will also be rewarded in Heaven). But in these particular passages He’s talking primarily about how we financially give/invest in kingdom enterprises.

Yet, our motivation must not be self-serving to the detriment of others. If it is in anyway selfish, it cannot glorify the Lord. It is not, however, inherently selfish to long for a reward. God has wired us to long for rewards and it is He who places them before us. Nowhere in Scripture will you find God against rewards or upset with his children for longing for them.

If it were true that rewards or longing for them were wrong, then it would make no sense for God to say that they are waiting for us as a motivation (for example in Matt 6:4 when Jesus says that the Father will reward secret giving… “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”). This is Jesus’ language, not selfish, sin language. God offers rewards & He expects us to be excited about them. He offers rewards as incentives & sees nothing selfish in the pursuit of them.

Check out my next post What's in it for God, Part 2

Sunday, June 14, 2009


A church member once asked me if demons had won the battle for her husband. He passed away after a long fight battling an addiction.

I don’t know if evil won in this case. If the husband had backslid away from God's direction and gave into drugs again, demons may have won that battle. But remember, the war isn't over. Satan does win battles in our lives with, sometimes, deadly consequences. But he loses in the end.

Demons have no power over us after death. And one day, every victory Satan has won will be not only reversed, but obliterated by Christ. There is cause for grieving, but not for despairing.

Eventually, we win in the end. History does have a happy ending!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


There is biblical evidence that our loved ones in Heaven are aware of our lives on earth. Hebrews 12:1 suggests that the residents of Heaven "witness" our lives. But we are given no biblical right to contact the dead.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Why would God choose to call someone home who is doing good for the kingdom here on earth?

I can't answer this question specifically because only God knows why He takes us when He does.

But let me point you in the right direction. The Bible says that God takes people home for a number of reasons. Here are three:

1. To protect them from future pain. In Isaiah, God tells us that sometimes He takes a person to Heaven to spare them the agony of greater pain in life. "The righteous man is taken away from evil. He enters into peace (Isaiah 57:2)."

2. Their job is through. Sometimes God takes people to Heaven because their earthly assignment is over. He had a purpose for their lives on this side of Heaven, and when that has been accomplished, He takes them home.

When the Apostle Paul was at the end of his life, he said, "The time of my departure has come . . . I have finished the course." (2 Tim. 4:6-7).

3. Discipline. Sometimes God takes believers home because they've made such a mess of their lives that He rescues them by taking them to Heaven. Just because someone becomes a Christian doesn't mean they can't make huge mistakes that are deadly.

An example of this is King Saul in the Old Testament: "[13] Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance" 1 Chron. 10:13 (NIV). I have prayed that if I ever fall away from Christ as a Minister, that He would take me home rather than allow me to bring reproach to His Name.

Friday, June 5, 2009


The Jehovah's Witness belief behind Christmas and birthdays is a biblical stretch.

Yes, it's true that there has been pagan influences on holidays. But the church spit in Satan's face when it took such holidays away from him. Imagine how angry Satan had to be when Constantine (the Christian Roman emperor) took a pagan holiday (the celebration of the solstice on Dec. 25th) and declared that it would honor Christ from that day forward! That, to me, declares that all holidays are Christ's and will honor Him from now on.

It would be like a Rock star coming to know Christ and using his guitar for worship from now on. To say that Christmas is 'unholy' because there was a pagan ceremony originally, is like saying we can't drink our water because it was once polluted even though it has since been purified (reclaimed).

Or like saying I can't drive my minivan because a dysfunctional family may have owned it before I did. That's ridiculous.

To transform and reclaim something that was wicked into something that celebrates the Lord is at the essence of our faith. We are all sinners saved by grace.
  • Do we not baptize because of wicked things done in water in our past?
  • Do we not sing because of wicked songs our vocal chords have sung before?
  • All throughout history, the nation of Israel celebrated holidays and would even use pagan occasions to proclaim God (look at Elijah with the prophets of Baal).
And why wouldn't we celebrate birthdays? The Bible is full of celebrations when children are born! John the Baptist is celebrated when he is born. Jesus is celebrated at His birth. And Hannah celebrates the birth of her son.

Here's the point. Your faith has substance, true, deep, and profoundly Scriptural substance. Stand on it. Don't be intimidated. And approach the Jehovah Witnesses that cross your path with gentleness and humility. In the end, God will bless you.
Check out the rest of my posts on Jehovah Witness Calling, Part 1,2,&3

Monday, June 1, 2009


So many times, the JW's give the impression that they are more biblical than we are. They cite Scripture to support their positions and act like they are more educated and more true to God's Word.

What they don't tell you (and, to be fair, what most JW's don't know) is that there are huge problems in the JW organization and, with just a little research, you'll find that there are huge problems with their theology. Let me give you a few examples:

1. They changed the Bible. Their New World Translation of the Bible has actually altered the text to fit their beliefs.

An example of this is John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
In their translation they wrote, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god." They insert the little word "a."

Now, why did they do that? Because they don't believe Jesus (who is "the Word" in this passage) is God. They believe Jesus is the Archangel Michael. So, in order to keep their belief, they changed the Bible!

Now, how can a movement be biblical if it changes the Bible?
They will argue that the Greek has an "a" there. But I've had five semesters of Greek and I can tell you that no Greek scholar in the world would translate this passage like they do.

And that's pretty easy to prove: If you ask a JW to show you the list of Greek scholars and their academic credentials who worked on their translation, you won't get anything. That's because no Greek scholars worked on their translation!

But you can easily find the list of names and credentials for the scholars who worked on legitimate translations like the King James and the New International and the New American Standard and even the Catholic American Standard.

2. They gave false prophecies. The Bible is real clear about any person claiming to be prophetic: if the prophecy doesn't come true, drop them like a hot rock (okay, that's my version of it, but look at Deuteronomy 13:1-4 which says basically the same thing).

JW's hierarchy gave three false prophecies in 1889, 1922, and 1966. In 1889, the Watchtower (JW publication) predicted that the great day of God Almighty from Rev. 16:14 would end (follow me here):
  1. in 1914.
  2. Then they prophesied that it would happen in 1925.
  3. And then they predicted the return of Jesus would happen in 1975

Thousands of JW's sold their homes and gave away their money thinking that the end of the world would happen on these dates. When nothing happened, there was a mass exodus from the organization with many finding out the hard way that the organization was a fraud.

3. They misread Scripture. For example, where on God's green earth are they getting the idea that the three wise men wanted to kill Jesus and that the star was satanic? There is no evidence in Scripture of this at all! It's clear that the wise men were guided by God (just look at Matthew 2:11-12 where the text clearly says they "worshiped Him" and that they were "divinely" guided).

Check out the rest of my posts on Jehovah Witness Calling: Parts 1,2&4