Love ≠ Tolerance


The seventies instilled in us the belief, er, wish that “all you need is love” to be happy and succeed in life, politics, the workplace, relationships, whatever.  Love and peace were the mantras echoed against the Vietnam war and turmoil of the draft amongst other things.  Today the battle cry has morphed into tolerance.  We do indeed long to be loved, but we are more concerned with having the freedom to believe and do whatever we darn. well. please.  Sure, it would be great if you loved me for what I do – but I want the government to protect me from you disagreeing with me, bullying me, or trying to prove me wrong.  This mindset is permeating our culture at such a rate that parents are now hesitant to teach and discipline their children, friends consider the highest form of mutual respect to be unmitigated acceptance, and employers and professors are now afraid of their employees and students – for fear that the wrong policy or statement might end in a lawsuit.

Deep in our hearts, on the most visceral level, we know that tolerance does not equal love and tolerance is not a sustainable value in education, maturation and interpersonal relationships.  If a child wants to play with a poisonous snake we tell him no and we explain the dangers.  If a young person believes that babies arrive by storks delivering them to happy parents, the eventually need to be given sex education to learn about how our bodies work and why certain changes have happened to them as they grew older.  If an American moves to England, someone must sit him down and explain driving on the left-hand side of the road and how the turn signal is opposite from the windshield wipers in the US.

Tolerance sounds great:  Live and let live, however we all recognize that there must be confines within which that tolerance resides.  Proclaiming “peace” and declaring that “all we need is love” will not stop terrorists from killing people who are not fighting.  Withdrawing from war will not force the Sudanese people to suddenly get along.  Ignoring evil will not make evil go away.

We also recognize that we must teach children to read and write, to learn math, to walk, and countless other basic skills.  To play a sport or a game there must be rules otherwise the game falls apart.

Ok, so the philosophically elite argue then that tolerance should be encompassing of our “immutable characteristics and belief systems”.  Simply, religion and carnal desires – and general worldviews that would encompass cultural tendencies and desires, as long as you are not hurting or imposing on someone else’s rights.  Again, this sounds very neat and tidy up front, but what about the culture that marries children?  What about the culture that allows multiple spouses?  What about the person who is born with the addiction to cocaine or the person who is genetically prone to alcoholism?  What about the religion that sacrifices animals?  What about the religion that eats human flesh to interact with their gods?  Or has sexual relations with animals?

We are left again with a difficult situation:  to tolerate and allow one person to practice their worldview will cause another to feel discriminated against in almost every situation.  If there are no absolutes, then everyone will find an opponent and it is asinine to expect the government to be able to rule on such a wide and vague range of topics.

That, however, is a side topic.  My main argument is that this kind of tolerance is not only impossible, it is illogical.  If a person truly believes whatever it is that he is proclaiming, then the truest form of love is to tell others and try to convince them of this belief.  If I truly believe that you will die if you step onto the street in front of that speeding bus, then it is not loving of me to philosophically evaluate the situation and consider your worldview and decision.  I will shove you out of the way or pull you back onto the sidewalk.  If I truly believe animals have rights and deserve to be treated humanely, I will join PETA and try to save animals from abusive homes and from religions that would sacrifice them or fight them for sport – and try to convince you why it is wrong to do so.

And most importantly, if I truly believe that apart from Jesus Christ we are all sinners and condemned to Hell, the most loving act for me is to warn you of the coming judgment and tell you of the hope in Jesus Christ.  If I believe that you are headed to Hell because of your sin and never tell you how to be forgiven in Jesus, I either hate you or do not truly believe that, because an eternity separated from God in the lake of fire and torment is infinitely worse than getting hit by a bus.

Tolerance, therefore, is essentially indifference.  To allow someone to do something and live something that is contrary to your belief system – if there is a consequence involved – is to not care.  Or worse, to hate.  One cannot truly validate another’s worldview and opinions without invalidating his own – unless he someone has a completely illogical all-inclusivism which would leave him with fundamentally no belief system.

Philosophy is greatly complicating our relationships and politics.

Therefore, let us cling to the long-standing authority of the Bible which has never been disproven and has withstood the test of centuries of critiques and cultures.  Alcoholism is not new.  Mysticism is not new.  Homosexuality is not new.  Nothing that our culture attempts to throw at the Bible in an effort to discredit or defame it is new.  And while it is a work of the Holy Spirit to draw someone to the Truth of the Bible, Scripture is clear that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.  Therefore, we must share so that people can hear and be saved.

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”

– Rom 10.17

If you believe the Bible, if you believe in Heaven and Hell, to love your friend and neighbor is to tell them about Jesus.  To tolerate them is to not talk about Jesus and to not love them, but to condemn them to Hell via inaction.  Once they have heard, there is a level of tolerance required, but true love would continue to be concerned about their eternities and souls, and to never leave the topic far from conversation.  Let us love people, and earnestly try to reason with them so that they may be saved.

“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”

– Charles Spurgeon

When someone doesn’t like you.


I am a pretty adventurous person.  I like to get out, try new things, meet new people, stretch the boundaries.  But even with an independent personality, I still want people to like me…just like everyone else.  Sometimes we build up facades or walls because of past hurt, claiming that we do not care what other people think, and we each have some non-negotiables on which we will take a social, political or relational stand, but by-in-large we try to put our best foot forward so that people will respect and like us.  Deep within this desire is an underlying pride.  We do not want people to like us simply because we want to be friends with everyone, we want affirmation.  We want praise.  We want people to admire, think well of and build us up.

As believers, is it right and good to build one another up.  Scripture regularly admonishes us to put the needs of the body before our own (James 1.27ff), to push one another on to holiness (Heb 10.24), and husbands should love their wives and wives should respect their husbands (Eph 5.22-25).  Leaders within the church should be people of good reputation and Jesus says that the world will know that we are Christians because of our love – which means we honor and respect one another (2 Tim 3, John 13.35).

However, as believers, we must remember and be convicted of the fact that there is no righteousness in and of ourselves and that we desperately need a savior (Rom 3.10ff).  When we are saved, Christ switches places with us – taking our condemnation and giving us a covering of His righteousness.  Because of this fact, we can and should glory in the victory that God grants us over sin in our lives, but we should also be the most humble of people.  When we recognize our guilt, and when we comprehend the cost of the sacrifice required to save us, we will become exceedingly humble.  We see our worthlessness and the weight of our salvation, and are left as the beneficiary of a completely undeserved gift and inheritance.

True Christians are thankful.  True Christians are humble.  True Christians know from where they came, and praise God for their priceless gift and all progress made in dying to sin.  True Christians offer abundant grace to one another, recognizing the fact that we are all in the battle against our flesh and push one another on to die to the flesh and sin.  True Christians recognize the deceit and horror of sin and do not make peace with it in their lives or in other’s lives and purposefully walk together to remove sin from our lives so that we can honor God, all with a humble attitude knowing our own weakness.

However, there are non Christians who infiltrate the Church.  There are also non Christians in our daily lives:  coworkers, family members, neighbors, people on the street, etc.  There are also Christians who have fallen into sin and harbor bitterness and resentment in their hearts.  It will happen in each of our lives that there comes a day when someone does not like us.

How should we respond?

First of all, we must examine the situation to see if we have sinned against this person and make every effort to apologize and rectify the situation.  If we are left without resolution and the other person still has a hard heart against us, then we have an intricate and beautiful situation.  Jesus teaches us to love our enemies (Matt 5.44).  He also teaches us that when someone will not receive us and the Gospel we proclaim, we should walk away and not waste our energy (Matt 10.14).  Lastly, He teaches us that if someone proclaims to be a believer and yet continues in sin (in this situation, harbors bitterness in his heart), to completely disassociate with him and remove him from the church (Matt 18.15-17).

But in all of this, our heart must remain humble.  How do we do that?  By remembering our own guilt and the weight of the unmerited gift of salvation we have received.  Charles Spurgeon said simply,

“If any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him, for you are worse than he thinks you to be.”

– Charles Spurgeon

If any one person thinks ill of us, it is not because he knows the depths of our depravity.  It is because he knows a small amount of it.  This nonbeliever has never come to understand forgiveness for himself, and thus still judges those around him with a human judgment and even if the offense was a misunderstanding, we remain humble by remembering God’s gift of salvation while we were His enemies (Rom 5.10).  Instead of responding in pride, we should always respond in humility.  If someone makes a character assessment, we should examine ourselves to see if it is true, ask Jesus to change us, and remember our guilt before Him – relying on Him to change us!  Once we have made every effort to rectify the situation, however, we move on and remember that God looks down and sees the blood of Jesus covering our sin and we are righteous in His eyes.

“For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

– Luke 7.47

He who has been forgiven much loves much.

You had one job.


Did you see the news yesterday, that the Super Bowl grounds crew accidentally painted both end zones with the Broncos logo?  It is humorously reminiscent of the Snicker’s commercial where the grounds man meticulously painted “Chefs” instead of “Chiefs” for Kansas City.   “You had one job”, the meme goes today.

Do you ever stop to think, as a Christian what is my “one job”?  We are all unique individuals, God has made some of us to be mothers, some fathers, some political leaders, some pastors.  We all have a variety of roles and hats that we will wear throughout our lifetimes.  But is there one overarching drive or job that we have?

To consider this question, we must look directly to Scripture.  We know that Jesus did not come to abolish the Old Testament Law, but He taught us grace and love, so did He give us any commands?  Scholars have actually counted up over fifty direct commands that Jesus gave.  They also have counted 1,050 direct commands given in the New Testament as a whole!

The vast majority of the instructions and commands that Jesus gave during His lifetime on Earth are directly related to how one is to act and feel as a Christian.  How to be a disciple.  Jesus entered the world in a time where Jews had the Law of God, and were following it – and had even added to it – out of a heart of legalism and pride.  The pious kept the Law well and judged everyone who kept it poorly.  But Jesus came in to teach them that they had missed the entire premise of God’s commandments, and that was love.  It was love for God that was to compel them to obey the rest of the Law.  When He was confronted as to which of the Laws was the greatest, His response was:

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind’.  This is the great and foremost commandment.  The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself'”.  On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

– Matt 22.37-40

Sometimes we forget that these are direct quotes from the Old Testament, Mosaic Law.  You can find them in Deuteronomy 6 and Leviticus 19.  Jesus did not introduce a new teaching here, He simply stated that the entire premise of being a Christian is to love God, and by that love be driven to love our neighbors and obey the rest of His commands.  The rest of the commandments Jesus gives are similar to the rest of the commandments of the Old Testament:  they are instructions for how our love should be enacted.

The culmination of those commandments are Jesus’ final words, the Great Commission.

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

– Matt 28.18-20

As with the rest of the commands, the Great Commission is indicative of how a disciple should act, and it should be driven by love for God.  However, unlike other commands, it is our appointed job – if you will.  It is the climax of all the other commands.  Once we have met Jesus, repented of our sins, learned to be a disciple by walking in love and obedience to Him, we must replicate ourselves.  We must turn around and teach others what we have learned.  It is the circle of the Christian life.  Part of being a disciple is making disciples.

Now, we all have different personalities and different strengths.  We will not all make disciples in exactly the same way.  Some of us will teach Bible studies.  Some of us will mentor young believers one-on-one.  Some of us will be preachers who proclaim the Gospel to the masses.  Mission boards even send out missionaries who are in “support” roles – meaning they handle paperwork, housing, finances and the like.  These people, while their primary role is not Church planting, however, are not off the hook in sharing the Gospel and making disciples personally.  Whatever fills up your heart will be that which comes out.  If you can have a conversation, and if you love Jesus, then you not only should, but naturally will talk about Him.

We often put an emphasis on people’s dying words, or parting words.  You can read numerous articles on villains’ final words upon execution, or heroes final words on their death beds.  Jesus’ dying words were indeed profound, but His final words to us as He returned to Heaven and left us on Earth are life altering.  Go, make disciples of all nations.  When you meet Jesus face to face, if He were to ask you “Did you go make disciples of all nations?” what would you say?  Now, obviously, God knows everything and will not have to ask us for an account of our activities.  But perhaps His question will be, “Why did you not go?”  What will our answer be then?  I was too busy?  Too afraid?  I had to make money, raise a family, or buy that big house?

Part of discipleship is making disciples.  Charles Spurgeon ominously stated,

“The great question is not, ‘Will not the heathen be saved if we do not send them the gospel?’ but ‘Are we saved ourselves if we do not send them the gospel?'”

Let’s step back and consider our lives in light of this reality.  Jesus gave us a very clear final command.  How are we doing in obedience to it?  Are we ready to give an account of your obedience to Him?  When we examine the whole of our lives in light of this command, what do we see?  Let’s be disciples.  Let’s make disciples.  We have one job, let’s get busy about doing it.

Is Kim Davis a martyr?


The media is buzzing over Rowan County Kentucky clerk Kim Davis and her refusal to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples.  As always, everyone has an opinion, she is being hailed as both a martyr and a bigot. U.S. District Judge David Bunning ultimately sentenced her to jail in contempt of court yesterday, declaring that Davis had taken an oath upon entering public office to uphold the law, and “oaths mean something”.

This indeed is a situation that will cause much turmoil and debate over the next few months as the country continues to adjust and accommodate every individual’s freedom of religion, freedom of speech and uphold anti-discrimination laws.  How do we protect and allow one to believe that homosexual marriage is a sin, and at the same time protect and allow another to engage in a homosexual marriage?  How do we regulate one’s freedom to profess their belief of said sin, and refusal of participation in its enactment and sanction, and yet maintain protection from discrimination and equality for those who choose to live a lifestyle that another cannot endorse?

Both sides should be protected by our legal system, if we are built on the foundation of the freedom of religious belief.  We, as a nation, have chosen to say that no one person can force another person to believe what they believe.  We only establish consequences for generally affirmed acts that hurt, damage or place another in harm’s way.

And while we espouse tolerance and freedom, Kim Davis was left in a terribly difficult situation.  The law of the land is now attempting to force her to go against her conscience.  She chose to remain in office for the sake of all people of faith who hold public office – stating that it is not right that people of faith would be forced to resign over such a law that would inhibit their conscience, and prevent people of faith from being elected or considered for office in the future.  She could have taken the “easy way out”, and resigned, but then this conversation of mutual protection at the level of public office would be left dead in the water.  Yes, we will continue to see it arise as churches, bakeries and event halls are sued for not endorsing or preforming homosexual marriages.  But one’s faith and conscience in the public office would not be drawing national attention.

Ironically (hypocritically?), as Davis was being confined to jail, the chant of the crowd in front of the courthouse was,

“Love won, love won”.

How does love win by imprisoning someone who disagrees with, and refuses to support another’s worldview?

It is in this that I reach my thesis and thought for the day:  What is love?  Is love blanket tolerance?  Does love necessitate acceptance and approval?  As a society we have evolved through a variety of phases, from our foundation and exploration to the industrial revolution and progress, to the World Wars and depression, to Vietnam and the peace/love revolution of the 60’s and 70’s to individual empowerment and now, here we are, in a society that fosters hyper-sensitive individuals who believe that their rights include the right to not be offended.  Our own thoughts are our own realities and ultimate truths, we have the freedom and ability to believe and think whatever we want, and we expect everyone else to affirm what we think and believe.  If not, we have been discriminated, the other person is a bigot and hateful, and we can sue them and steal their livelihood because they hurt my feelings.  I’m going to take my ball and go home.

This is becoming a detriment at the university level.  Students are suing professors, and professors live in fear of a bad review or a complaint.  We can no longer challenge one another to push each other on to greater self-examination or a more broad consideration of political, sociological, economic or religious possibilities because we might step on someone’s toes, or we might give fuel to another’s fire who is simply looking for a “get-rich tactic”.  Remember the hot coffee McDonald’s lady?  Trip in the right building and you will never have to work again.

Consider a mother.  She has a toddler who has declared his chocolate to be a good treat for the family dog.  This toddler’s logic is that he loves chocolate so he wants to share it with his best friend, Fido.  Would a good, loving mother affirm her toddler that he can believe whatever he wants and encourage him to feed chocolate to the dog?  Or would a good, loving mother inform her child that chocolate will actually make a dog sick, and if he eats enough of it will kill him?  We as a culture understand, to some degree, the reality that true love intervenes, speaks truth, and confronts.  We are infatuated with reality TV shoes like “Intervention” and “Hoarders”, where people seek help for their loved ones are hurting themselves, even though the individual may not know it or may not care.

We know, deep down in our hearts, that love does not mean “live and let live” in its truest sense.  The natural end of that logic is ruin.  There are social constraints, there are ethical constraints, there are legal constraints, and there are basic realities that we have to learn and respect as human beings.  Love does not tell a child to “go for it” when he wants to do something that will hurt him.  Love warns him, love teaches him, love helps him to grow in thought, strength and maturity.

In this same vein, the loving response of a Christian to someone who is not of the faith is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Always.  If a Christian believes that every human being has an eternal soul, and if a Christian believes that our sin condemns us to Hell apart from faith and forgiveness in Jesus Christ, then the greatest and most loving gesture a Christian can make to a non-Christian or any person who has made peace with sin is to tell him about Jesus and forgiveness.  The Bible teaches us that every human being has sinned (Rom 3.23), and that the punishment for any and all sin is eternal death and damnation in Hell (Rom 6.23).  God, as the author of the universe and morality, has the unique right to define sin, and we – as His creation – must submit to that.  Homosexuality does not uniquely damn one to Hell.  Lying, pride, gluttony, envy and unbelief damn us as well.  There is no hope apart from being forgiven of and washed clean from our sins.

But Jesus took the punishment that you and I deserve and paid it all on the cross, so that any and all who repent and call on the name of Jesus will be saved (Rom 10.13).

Love (for the Christian) is knowing hope, offering hope, and once one has received that hope, pointing out those things that God calls sin.

Scripture teaches us very clearly that believers are expected to respect and honor the laws and governing forces over us (Rom 13).  Scripture also teaches us that Christians are responsible to God first and if the law of the land commands us to break the law of God, His law has ultimate authority (Acts 5.29).  Lastly, Scripture warns us sternly that if we know the right thing to do and do not do it, then we are sinning – and the converse is true, if we should not do something and we do it, we are sinning.

“Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

 – James 4.17

“The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.  But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.”

 – Rom 14.22-23

Love is pointing to Jesus for salvation.  Love is pleading with people to repent of their sins so that they can be forgiven, transformed, and spend an eternity with Jesus in peace.  Charles Spurgeon eloquently stated thus:

“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies.  And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay.  If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”

So what is the direct application to Kim Davis and our response to her situation?  If Kim Davis believes the Bible to be true, and if she considers homosexual marriage to be a sin, we must expect her to respect the law of God first.  We as a nation, have promised to give her the freedom of religion to believe and say whatever she wants.  Should she have resigned her office?  I am neither able nor willing to cast judgment on her decision.  I respect that she desires to bring the point of religious freedom in public office to the forefront of conversation.  But I also respect the Federal Court finding her in contempt for being unwilling to uphold the law.  The end result, if we truly stand on the cornerstone of religious freedom, must be a way for Davis to function in the public office without violating her conscience and homosexuals to attain marriage licenses apart from her signature.

But if Davis truly loves the lost, then she will continue to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of sins, and will implore all around her – including homosexuals – to repent and be saved.

Are you saved?


What is it that consumes your thought life, your monies, your energy?  Jesus said that He came to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19.10), and as He left the world He gave us the Great Commission:  one last command that should be the goal of our lives – to make disciples of all the nations (Matt 28.18-20).  So if Jesus’ intention is to save, and His greatest desire for us is to be involved in His salvation process of the lost, then we can rightly judge our position with the Lord by assessing our hearts on the topic.

“Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you’re not saved yourself, be sure of that!”

– Charles Spurgeon

When Jesus first returned to Heaven there was an urgency amongst believers.  They believed that Jesus would return while they were still alive.  Thus they were selling all of their possessions, they were giving to the poor, they were working as a community to provide food, housing, and care for everyone so as to win as many as possible.  They were thinking of the world to come.  They were focused on eternity.  They were waiting for Jesus to return and planning for the next life, not this one.

Jesus saves out of love.  And He commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves.  Therefore, what is the most loving thing that we can do for one another?  For our neighbors?  Pointing them to Jesus.  If we do not share the Gospel, if we do not warn our neighbors and friends of the coming judgment, we do not love them.  And if we do not love them, then our very salvation is in question.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

– 1 John 4.7-8

Do you think this is an over-application of this passage?  Then continue reading what John had to say:

By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

– 1 John 4.8-11

If we can look at our neighbor and not care about His eternity, then we do not love Him, and Scripture teaches us that such a heart is not born again.  If we can look at our neighbor and affirm his destiny for Hell with the thought, “He deserves it”, then we do not grasp our own sinfulness and from what we have been saved, and we are not born again.  If we are apathetic about eternity, we have not been saved.  We cannot know God and love God and not long for eternity, grieve over sin, and long for others to be saved.

It was so important to Jesus that He died for it.  How important is it to you?

We live in a placating society in which we take drugs, seek counseling, and enforce the government to affirm our every decision and desire in order to fix a heart problem.  We are guilty, we are dissatisfied, and we are worthy of Hell.  We think that if we tell one another that “you deserve to be happy”, that it is our right to pursue happiness, that we are not that bad that we will feel better about ourselves.  But if you feel a twinge of conviction about sin, about apathy, about your lifestyle, do not seek out a counselor who will point out your strengths.  Seek out the Scripture and let God do surgery.  God can change us, He can sanctify us, and He can prepare us to meet him.  He can use us to accomplish His plan of salvation in other’s lives.  So today, let us take seriously that prodding of the Holy Spirit, set our minds on things above, and let us get busy about making disciples of all the nations:  loving our neighbors.

Death Grip

Last night my small group discussed briefly the topic of urgency.  The simple fact that if we knew someone was close to death – or if we knew that we were close to death – we would be more intentional about sharing the Gospel.  The topic is not a new one, but one that Christians regularly consider for brief amounts of time and then slip right back into their routines.  Why?  Because we have routines.  Because we are rarely confronted with death.  Because we have no way to visualize eternity and keep it on the forefront of our minds.

Jesus set the bar for salvation very high.

“So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”

– Luke 14.33

We all know, at least in theory, that nothing we acquire on Earth is eternal.  We cannot take it with us.  Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.  Solomon grieved this very point when he was experimenting with the pleasures of the world and becoming extremely wealthy:

“A man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor so that his soul lacks nothing of all that he desires; yet God has not empowered him to eat from them, for a foreigner enjoys them. This is vanity and a severe affliction.”

– Ecc 6.2

When we are consumed and focused on this life we cannot even enjoy the fruit of our labor because we are too busy looking at the next task, the end project, the next goal.

“Hold everything earthly with a loose hand, but grasp eternal things with a death-like grip.”

– Charles Spurgeon

Let us spend our energy today remembering the things that have eternal value:  knowing and loving God and sharing His truth and Gospel with those around us.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

– Matt 6.19-21

Over My Dead Body.

road to hell

For what are you living?  What are your life goals?  When was the last time you visited your five-year, ten-year and fifteen-year plans?  When was the last time you laid your personal ambitions down and asked God what He would like to do in and through you?

When you meet with your financial adviser, he will ask you what your goals are.  Our answers usually center around retirement, education, job security, providing for a family and the like.  We need money to do all of these things, and it is his job to help us make and keep as much money as possible to meet our goals.  But what if we considered God’s counsel and input more valuable than that of our financial adviser?  What if we sought to understand His heart and asked Him what goals and ambitions would honor Him, momentarily and eternally?

The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains,
The world, and those who dwell in it.

– Ps 24.1

Everything in the world belongs to the Lord.  He made it, He is sovereign over it, it is His.

“For every beast of the forest is Mine,
The cattle on a thousand hills.
I know every bird of the mountains,
And everything that moves in the field is Mine.”

– Ps 50.10

He has the resources to provide and take care of His children forever.  Therefore Jesus commanded His disciples,

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they…But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

– Matt 6.25-26, 33-34

So if we are instructed to trust God with the future, with our physical welfare, and with our daily needs, on what does He want us to be focused?  Dying words, last words are always of utmost importance and Jesus’ final words were what we know as “The Great Commission”:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

– Matt 28.19-20

Make disciples.  He wants us to be concerned about making disciples.  Not just converts, but finding people who believe and teaching them to observe everything that Jesus taught.  He commanded us to love our enemies, to serve the poor, to preach the Gospel to a lost and dying world.  It’s really quite simple.  Do you have a heart for the lost?  Charles Spurgeon said,

“Have you no wish for others to be saved?  Then you’re not saved yourself, be sure of that!”

How can he make such a bold statement?  Because,

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

– 1 John 4.7-8

If you do not love others, if you are indifferent about the eternity of your family, friends, neighbors, and the world, then you do not know God.  God is love.  And if we know Him, then we love others.  And if we understand our sin, embrace salvation and look forward to an eternity with God, then the loving response is to desire that for others.  It should be our life’s greatest ambition to bring as many others as possible into the kingdom with us.  Spurgeon also said,

“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies.  And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay.  If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”

– Charles Spurgeon

Let’s reevaluate our life goals, and weigh them against Scripture.  Let’s invite God to take over our five-year plans.  Let’s obey what He said to do and trust Him because He owns everything anyway.  We cannot add a day to our lives, but He can clothe the fields with flowers and feed the birds; He can care for His children.  So let’s get busy about making disciples, and let’s lay down – to the point of death, if necessary – in sinners’ path on the way to Hell.

If you cannot believe.


“Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth;
For I am God, and there is no other.”

– Is 45.22

Salvation and Spiritual life are at times difficult topics to explain.  In today’s American Christianity, many church-goers grew up in the church and became Christians when they were young.  Before the age of 10 kind of young.  How much do you remember from those years?  If you have had Spiritual life 45 out of your 52 years, it might be difficult to remember what Spiritual deadness was like.  In fact, you might wonder if you even have it!  Others can wrestle with what exactly saving faith is.  There might be an intellectual assent and affirmation of the Gospel but not a trust and awe that is part of faith.  Such a one was Charles Spurgeon, perhaps the greatest preacher of the 19th century.  Below is his own account of his salvation account.  (The date was Jan 6, 1850 and Spurgeon was 15 years old at the time.)

I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair until now had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm, one Sunday morning, while I was going to a certain place of worship. When I could go no further, I turned down a side street, and came to a little Primitive Methodist chapel. In that chapel there may have been a dozen or fifteen people. . . . The minister did not come that morning; he was snowed up, I suppose. At last, a very thin-looking man, a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach. . . . He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say. The text was “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth [Isaiah 45:22].”

He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in that text. The preacher began thus: “My dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed. It says, ‘Look.’ Now lookin’ don’t take a deal of pain. It ain’t liftin’ your foot or your finger; it is just, ‘Look.’ Well, a man needn’t go to college to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look. A man needn’t be worth a thousand a year to be able to look. Anyone can look; even a child can look.

“But then the text says, ‘Look unto Me’. . . . Many of ye are lookin’ to yourselves, but it’s no use lookin’ there. Ye will never find any comfort in yourselves. Some look to God the father. No, look to him by-and-by. Jesus Christ says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Some of ye say, ‘We must wait for the Spirit’s workin’.’ You have no business with that just now. Look to Christ. The text says, ‘Look unto Me.’”

Then the good man followed up his text in this way: “Look unto Me; I am sweatin’ and great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hangin’ on the cross. Look unto Me; I am dead and buried. Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend to heaven. Look unto Me; I am sittin’ at the Father’s right hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me! Look unto Me!”

When he had gone to about that length, and managed to spin out ten minutes or so he was at the end of his tether. Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I dare say, with so few present he knew me to be a stranger. Just fixing his eyes on me, as if he knew all my heart he said, “Young man, you look very miserable.” Well, I did, but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made from the pulpit on my personal appearance before. However, it was a good blow, struck right home. He continued, “and you always will be miserable—miserable in life, and miserable in death—if you don’t obey my text; but if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.”

Then lifting up his hands, he shouted, as only a primitive Methodists could do, “Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothing to do but to look and live.” I saw at once the way of salvation. I know not what else he said—I did not take much notice of it—I was so possessed with that one thought. Like as when the brazen serpent was lifted up, the people only looked and were healed, so it was with me. I had been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard that word, “Look!” What a charming word it seemed to me! Oh! I looked until I could have almost looked my eyes away.

There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to him. . . . And now I can say—

E’er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And Shall be till I die.

– C. H. Spurgeon Autobiography, Volume 1, 87-88

Let’s get real about sin.


We’re all sinners.  No one is perfect.  So who am I to judge your sin, and who are you to judge mine!


Why does our society have this mindset right now?  I am convinced it is because we do not believe that we all truly are sinners.  This is our cop out to not have to take responsibility before anyone for anything.  It sounds humble because we would say that we are not perfect, but if one were to be pressed in exactly how he is not perfect, he would have no answer.  He would probably give you the interview answer, “I’m a perfectionist” which he calls a weakness but makes it out to be a strength for the hiring company.  We are extremely good at manipulation and self deception.

Is morality a viable aspect of our society?  Without getting too philosophical early this morning, if God exists and His Word is true then yes, His moral and His holy law outline how we should live.  The belief in a Godless universe means that there is no purpose in life, we are just highly evolved balls of slime who have developed thinking and reasoning skills, but there is no moral absolute by which we can hold ourselves accountable.

Even if one proclaims to believe that there is no God and evolution and meaninglessness in life are true, he still lives and functions with an innate sense of morality.  If someone breaks into his house and steals his stuff or rapes his wife, he will demand justice.  He will not say, “Well there is no moral absolute, so who am I to judge the thief/rapist”.


We must understand where morality is defined.  We must understand what the author considers sin.  And we must get real with ourselves and examine the depth of our own, personal, ugly sin.

Salvation is through faith, by grace, unto repentance.  When we are born again we have a new life.  The old has passed away.  Sort of.  We will still struggle with temptations, trials and sinful desires.  This is what theologians like to call “The Already, Not Yet”.  We have been saved, but we are not yet free of our sinful flesh.

And in order to repent we have to name our sin.  Confess it.  Hate it.  Fight it.  What are those things that entice you most?  Pornography?  Over eating?  Laziness?  Stealing?  Lying?  The Scripture is extremely clear about what is sin and what is not.  And most of us function with a normal conscience and have an understanding of right and wrong.  When we are unsure, where do we go for the answer?  The Word of God.

This week there has been a scandal over World Vision and their positional change about allowing homosexuality as an unrepentant sin for employees.  The long held tradition that adhered to Scripture calling it sin was reversed for a brief 48 hour time frame, and led to a media storm that has polarized Christians.

Some would seek to deny the Scripture and say that homosexuality is not a sin.  Some would say, “We are all sinners, so who am I to judge?”  And some would say, “That person cannot be saved if he has those desires”.  All of these answers are dangerous and hurtful to Christianity.  Why?  Because homosexuality is indeed a sin and those who struggle with the passions and desires need to fight it.  But it does not disqualify him from salvation.  Just like murder, stealing, lying and adultery do not disqualify another.  But excusing it and not helping the weak to fight it leaves the sinner in his sin and without hope.

False humility will be our demise.  Until we realize our guilt and get on our faces in grief and brokenness over our sin, we will not repent.  We cannot be saved.

Here is an easy way to test yourself.  When someone calls you out on a sin, what is your response?  Do you get defensive and fight for your sin as acceptable or excusable?  Or do you get angry and say the accuser has no right to call you out because he is just as bad – but in his own way?  Do you fall into depression because someone would think that you are not perfect?  Do you admit your sin and mope in your guilt?

Or do you admit, “Yes I did that, and it was wrong.  Will you forgive me and help me to honor God by not doing that any more?”

Do you get on your face before God and say, “God I did _____ today.  I dishonored you by _____.  But I love you and want to honor you with my life, help me obey you and represent you well before my friends, coworkers and neighbors.”

You’re not perfect.  I’m not perfect.  Let’s take some time today to evaluate those specific ways in which we are tempted and/or regularly sin.  And let’s allow God to be the judge, let’s get on our faces before Him, and let’s turn to Him to redeem us.  He will forgive you if you confess your sin and repent.  Leave the sin behind.  Cling to God.

“If any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him, for you are worse than he thinks you to be.”

– Charles Spurgeon

Do you muse on the things of God?

God has crafted each of our lives in such a way as to grow us and produce in us a faith that will glorify Him and bring about our maturity and holiness.  During one particularly intense time of my spiritual growth, I had already studied the doctrines and themes of Scripture and come to embrace a reformed understanding of Scripture, every dimension of my faith was tested by the death of one of my best friends who was not a believer.  All of the academic questions I had asked in my pursuit of God were re-asked emotionally and applicationally.  I had a friend during this time who also liked to ask questions.  I would run my thoughts by her, pull out scriptures and doctrines and my emotions and lay them all out on a messy platter and she would ask and listen and think with me.  Her openness, willingness to learn and ability to ask questions was a tremendous relief and encouragement to me while God established my faith which was knowledgeable into faith which believed and trusted.

After graduation, we went separate ways and kept in touch occasionally, but when I moved overseas we rarely connected.  Then, when my world fell apart six years later, we happened to cross paths and went out for coffee.  My faith was firm and unshakable this time – and that by no strength of my own, only by God’s grace.  My heart was broken, but God was my constant and literally all I had.  There were no deep groanings of my heart questioning His goodness or sovereignty.  But she was at the same exact place where we were years before.  She said to me, “I love to hear your questions and process with you”.  But yet she had no drive of her own to push her on to learn, to grow, to understand.  The things of God were interesting to her when they came up, but not of enough importance to draw her in on her own.

“There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on His Word spiritual strength for labour in his service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. . . . Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord. . . .”

– Charles Spurgeon

Are you an active Christian or a passive Christian?  Or not a Christian at all?  We all go through seasons where we neglect prayer, or personal time in the Bible, or just live for ourselves.  We also all go through times where we want to just sit back and let the pastor and small group leader spoon feed us.  There are times I like to ask questions but do not necessarily look for or long for the answer.  Because it is cool nowadays to be deep and ask the hard questions.  But Paul warns us about people like that.  They are wicked and a sign of the coming of the age:

“…always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

– 2 Tim 3.7

When we are brand new Christians, it is mature believers’ responsibility to teach us how to grow and feed ourselves.  We do not naturally know how to study the Bible, how to pray, how to seek God for guidance and insight, and how to surrender our sinful flesh to His commandments.  But it is not the pastor or small group leader’s lifelong responsibility to feed us Spiritually.  If you only eat one meal a week, you will not survive long.  The same is true in our Spiritual walk.  If we rely on the Church to feed us, or podcasts, or online preachers or blogs, we will never truly develop an intimate relationship and trust in the Lord, and the depth of maturity will not be there to sustain us in the trials.

My friend has since found a solid church and been drawn through strengthening seasons of life and is being led by the Spirit to dig in to maturity through personal time with God, daily.  In prayer.  In reading.  I learning.  Let us all do the same!

Do you muse on the things of God?  Do you seek out the answers to your questions?  Are you spending time in prayer and intimacy with God?  Are you growing?

“Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.”

– Heb 6.1-2

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