Posts Tagged With: bible

Listen to God

“Has God indeed said?” These are the very first words spoken by Satan as recorded in Genesis 3:1. They were words not intended to question what God had said, but to manipulate and twist what God had intended in an effort to cast doubt on His love. To clarify, God’s original statement to Adam was, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16). Yet when Satan approached Eve in the Garden of Eden, he didn’t go to Eve and try and deny that God spoke those words, he just mischaracterized them. He used the very scriptures God had spoken, but he completely twisted what He had said. Cunningly, he questioned whether God had really meant what He had said to Adam. “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1).

When Eve was tempted by Satan in the Garden, Satan used God’s own words intended for love and protection and distorted them into a negative prohibition designed to cast doubt on God’s graciousness. He effectively misrepresented God’s words, which led Adam and Eve to question God’s love for them. Thus, he was able to substitute the truth with his own lie and got Adam and Eve to believe God was holding something back from them. Through his deceptive ways, Satan took God’s positive invitation to eat from every tree, misquoted the Bible, and then turned those elements of truth into a justification for sin; “What a snake!” you might say. No pun intended.

As the story progresses, Adam and Eve having now sinned before God for eating the forbidden fruit, felt shame and tried to hide from the Lord. But as any loving father, God called out to them, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). As the Bible states, God is an omnipresent God; He’s “All-Knowing.” Therefore, God wasn’t calling out to them because He didn’t know where they were. But His intention was for Adam and Eve to confess what they had done so they could make things right. For God cannot forgive a sin that has not been confessed. Yet this is how many Christians live their lives today.

Have you ever played hide-and-go-seek with a small child? They are so innocent that you can go show them a hiding spot, go back to the tree and begin counting, and what will they do… they’ll literally go hide in the exact spot you just showed them. That’s what it is like when we try and hide from God. Just like in the case of Adam and Eve, God wasn’t looking for them for He already knew where they were. He was looking for them to confess. And like Adam and Eve, when we sin, God already knows what we’ve done and where we are.

Unfortunately today, Satan is still up to his old ways. Now instead of the Garden of Eden, he has infiltrated our pulpits. And once again he has manipulated God’s Word and twisted it into a wayward version of the truth. He has created an epidemic that has saturated the American church for the last twenty to thirty years. It’s an epidemic of “Perverted Grace.” As John Bevere states, “The grace taught and believed by many of our churches is not real grace, but a perversion of it. This is the result of overemphasizing the goodness of God to the neglect of the fear of him” (Bevere 95). When the doctrine of love and grace is overly emphasized and not balanced with the doctrine of obedience and repentance, what we see in the American church today is the result. And it is an error of God’s perfect plan for our lives.

We have “Changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man” (Romans 1:23). Yet even more frightening, is that while we are still listening to Satan’s old lie, “Has God indeed said?” now we have become even bolder in our disobedience. Unlike Adam and Eve, many Christians today are not even trying to hide their shame and sinful ways anymore. Where Adam and Eve once feared and hid from God, we now see man making brave statements like, “God is my friend, He understands my heart” or “I love Jesus, He’s gonna forgive me anyway, so what’s your problem?” This false sense of grace and goodness has led to “sin rationalization.” A rationalization by which sin is not repented of, but stemming from a group of “Cultural-Christians” that filters “God’s Word and commands through their own culturally influenced thinking” (Bevere 22). And as sin is more rationalized, a false sense of security occurs within the believer. The person trapped in the bondage of sin begins to convince themselves that since they haven’t been caught or punished, then God must be okay with it. But know this, as God showed when looking for Adam and Eve, He is never okay with sin. And no matter how you try and rationalize your actions, God says, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

I’m often amazed at people that think they are fooling God. They will know that a specific scripture states something is sinful, yet they will try and use a scripture that is taken out of context and try and condone that sinful nature. They will use a scripture like “Love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). There are two things wrong with this statement. First, it says love covers over, it doesn’t say love covers up your sins. Secondly, when people use this verse, and I have had it used on me, they fail to realize that the verbiage states a multitude of sins, it does not say ALL. If this is you, STOP! You are not fooling anyone, and you are surely not fooling God. If you believe that the Bible is the ‘Infallible Word of God,’ then you can’t believe for a second that it will show you it’s okay to sin. In fact, His Word confirms, “And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away” (James 1:13-14). It’s that same lie from the devil cropping up all over again…

God doesn’t want your excuses, He just wants YOU. Now don’t get me wrong, God’s plan for your life is not some rigid pathway based upon unrealistic performance in order to receive His blessing. Actually the Bible says all of God’s laws are about righteousness and peace. By righteousness it’s referring to the blessing of things working out right. But it’s not talking about a rigid type of righteousness that if you do one small thing your salvation is at stake. However, it is asking you to do your part. And that begins by His call to alignment. Aligning ourselves with His Word, His ways, and His law. Maybe your sitting there thinking, “Well that seems pretty rigid, and pretty narrow.” The Bible says that, “The gateway to life is very narrow” (Matthew 7:14). But believe me, it’s not saying that you are just creeping along two narrow walls hoping to get by. God provides us with enough elbowroom to maneuver in. We’re not confined in some straightjacket that makes it impossible to move around. But He does want us to follow His desires. It’s learning to understand that we can’t decide to do whatever we want and expect that things will always work out because they seem right in our own eyes.

In His Word, the Lord has provided guidance, and it clearly shows that God has pointed out the limits. And that’s what He ultimately wants from you… To live life to it’s limits! But to do this, you’re going to have to do your part. God intends for each one of us to use our own judgment, our gifts, our talents; He was the one that gave those things to us. Furthermore, He didn’t set these limits as a way to control your fun. His Word simply points out these limits and says, “Don’t go past this limit, because when you do, things will begin to deteriorate, and life will get a lot messier.” Yet it never fails, there are always those who try and put God to the test. They go about life saying, “Well I think I can navigate through that. I’m an adventuress soul.” And to you I say, “Well lot’s of luck. Go ahead and make the attempt.” Because no matter how long you seem to manage on your own, remember judgment delayed is not judgment denied, and eventually there always comes the place of the back firing.

If you are reading this and feel as if you’ve been allowing Satan to whisper to you, “Has God indeed said?” I want you to fear not. The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). To “confess” means “to agree with.” So when we confess our sin, we are agreeing with God and His ways. Take the time to pray and humble yourself before the Lord. Let Him know that you repent of your sins and no longer wish to try and hide from Him in the Garden. Just like Eve, you too have a choice. You can either continue listening to the master of all lies, or you can finally reject him and just Listen to God. 

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Works Cited:
Bevere, John. The Fear of The Lord. Lake Mary, Florida: Charisma House, 2006. Print.

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Categories: Daily Living, Forgiveness, The Church | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fear Voting for a Mormon? Fear God First!

As I slowly darkened the selection bubble on my 2012 Presidential Mail-in Ballot, I felt a sense of peace. Peace, knowing that the choice I was making was being done in the best interest of the United States of America, and my Christian faith. It wasn’t a decision based upon political party lines, ethnicity, or who seemed to have the best plan to benefit my pocketbook later on. It was a choice that strictly was decided upon by the candidate that best aligned themselves with my beliefs as a follower of Jesus Christ. And that choice was sharply clear to me; that choice was Mitt Romney.

I suspect now that you know whom I voted for, there will be one of two thoughts running through your head. First, you may agree with me and be voting for Mitt Romney yourself. Or, you may be feeling sucker-punched and decrying, “How can a Christian vote for a Mormon?” My answer to you is, “I didn’t.” I didn’t cast my vote for a Mormon, or any other religious label you want to place upon a person or their identity. If I where directing my vote to a religious affiliation, then I would have to be honest and say that this election is not between a Mormon and a Christian; but a Mormon and a person I believe who is not a Christian.

Many of you reading this may be saying, “How dare you say that President Obama is not a Christian.” To you I say, “I’m not, President Obama has proven he is not.” In America we attach label after label upon people. Terms like ‘fat, skinny, rich, poor, young, and old’ are used so flippantly, that there’s no recourse. We throw a label on someone all in an effort to identify them with a stereotype or social class. Case in point the word ‘Christian.’ There are many today that claim to be a Christian, but in reality, it’s just ear service. Claiming to be a Christian doesn’t make you a Christian; any different than sitting in a garage and claiming yourself to be a car makes you a car.

The Bible says, “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands, … the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3–4). A Christian, then, is a person who is born again by the Spirit of God, who unequivocally trusts in Jesus Christ and seeks to follow Him in obedience to His Word. For a Christian knows there is no other way to the Father, no other way to be a Christian, than through personal faith in the Son of God and the infallible truth of the Bible. As Jesus Himself confirmed, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Let me turn back to those still grasping at straws who say, “Mitt Romney is a Mormon and Mormonism does not align with Christianity.” Well, you’re right, you may have a point.  Nevertheless, Mitt Romney has not viciously attacked Christianity or vowed to force Christians to betray their Christian faith. As his political record has proven, President Obama is boldly and arrogantly implementing his own anti-Christian agenda. Regrettably, many so-called followers of Christ have realized who Obama really is and what he is trying to accomplish, yet they will still vote for him. Why? Because of a false sense of the truth or their own justification based upon race and not testing the facts through the guise of a biblical worldview.

So here is the assertion. Governor Romney is a self proclaimed Mormon, and President Obama professes to be a Christian. Let’s look at a few political issues through the lens of a biblical worldview and you decide. Before we begin, let me state that failing to consider which candidate values what God values, then we’re voting without conferring with God first. Far too many believers will enter the voting booth this election season without first consulting what God’s Word says. There are certain biblical values at stake in this election that may prove detrimental not only to our Christian faith, but also will have lasting impact on future generations to come. When looking at a candidate we should support the candidate that best aligns themselves with the Christian faith; not who claims to be of the Christian faith.

Let’s say that you didn’t know the religious background of either candidate, but you wanted to vote biblically. First, as a Christian you should support the candidate who is pro-life, and fights to protect the life of the unborn. Next, you should support a candidate that supports the definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Who also supports the Defense of Marriage Act. Third, it’s important that we as Christians vote for the candidate that will work to protect our religious freedoms. There’s no question that our religious freedom have been under severe attack under this current administration the last 4-years. And finally, Christians must support a candidate that wholeheartedly pledges to protect and provide security to Israel without waiver. If you are not aware, Governor Romney supports all of these issues, while President Obama arrogantly opposes them outright and defiantly.

So Governor Romney is pro-life. He supports the definition of marriage between a man and a woman. He has vowed to defend our religious freedoms. And finally, he has passionately pledged to protect and defend the security of Israel. And this is a Mormon. Yet, our sitting President rejects to support all of these critical, and biblical based issues. Based on these facts, who aligns themselves closer with our Christian faith? Isn’t it amazing that a Mormon man appears to be more of a Christian than the man that professes to be a Christian?

Our great nation is living in perilous times. We have come to a crossroads, and this very well may be the last election that any of us will be able to vote in. While many may decide they can’t vote for a Mormon, let me be bold in my statement; to vote to re-elect President Obama is to cast a vote against God Himself. You are in effect saying that you know better than God and His Word does not matter. Casting your vote to re-elect President Obama declares before God that you support which he stands for. In effect, you are saying to God that you support the death of children, you support homosexual marriage, you support the destruction of Israel, and thus you support Barrack Obama’s mission to seize our religious freedoms from us.

Many of you may say, “Well I just won’t vote.” Let me tell you emphatically this is an unbiblical approach. The New Testament scripture tells us, “We are citizens of heaven” (Philippians 3:20). But we “Should be good citizens” (Romans 13:1) of the land in which we live. We’re called on by the Bible to participate in the governmental system. And one of the ways we can do that is by responsibly voting. In addition, a great price has been paid by those defending our freedoms to insure our voting privilege. And as a matter of conscience, every believer should register to vote, and then Vote!

In closing, I’m sure that many people out there will disagree with this view. They may even scoff at the notion that I’m judging the faith of our elected President. Yet, what do you call it when Jesus Christ died on the Christ for your sins and mine, and paid the ultimate price for our freedom, yet President Obama’s own political party fights to not have the name of God mentioned in their political platform? Moreover, get’s offended by the mere mention of Jesus’s name? If you attend a church where the pastor is telling you to support President Obama and his political party that tells you it’s okay to disrespect Jesus; you need to leave that church! In the end, make no mistake; people that cast a vote for Barrack Obama are going to have to answer for their vote. You either are serving Jesus, or the democratic party. People in this country are clearly fed up, and they want change. But that change will never come from a man who denies biblical principles and betrays the very moral fiber of the Christian faith. It’s time for Christians to rise up and have the courage to stand not for a political party, but embrace the candidate that closely aligns themselves with our Christian faith. Over the years the Democratic Party has become increasingly more Anti-Christian, Anti-God, Anti-Bible, Anti-Life, and Anti-Marriage. More frightening is that the Democratic Party has shown an alarming opposition to Israel. And as many of us know in regards to Israel, God’s Word declares, “Whoever curses you, I will curse” (Genesis 12:3). Do you want to be cursed for opposing God’s Word?

It is time to take a stand. It’s not about Romney’s religion… it’s about Righteousness. It’s not about a race… it’s about Repentance. And it’s not about rights… it’s about Redemption. Where you cast your vote on November 6th should not be about your party winning the election… but saving this great nation! Vote biblically, for on that day each one of us will be held accountable for which switch we pull in that election booth. And I know without a doubt if it were Christ voting, I know which lever He’d be pulling…

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Categories: National Headlines | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Who is Jesus? The Prophet… The Priest… and the King!

One of the biggest challenges that we as believers in Christ will face today is trying to answer what would seem to be an easy question. This question is, “Who is Jesus?” Unfortunately today, “There are many misconceptions concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. False religions have portrayed Jesus Christ as everything from a space alien to merely a myth. Many people believe that Jesus was only a prophet” (Stewart). So how does one combat these misconceptions? As grandiose as many people would like to believe, not everyone that enters ministry will be the senior pastor of a mega-church. Therefore, we as Christ followers should be more realistic and error on the side of personal interaction. This begins by having full knowledge of how we would answer the question of Christ’s identify to the unbeliever on the street. Therefore, for one to truly know who Jesus is, they must come to identify Him through the offices He held. As this article will show, to know Christ is to recognize what it means for Jesus to have held the offices of the prophet, the priest, and the king.

As God’s ultimate messenger, it should come as no surprise that Jesus was labeled as a prophet. Unfortunately, today the confusion begins when man redefines the meaning of prophets to correspond with their own inability to understand. In doing so, they weaken the meaning of the term. In scripture, biblical prophets were identified as individuals whom God conveyed His message through. When looking at Christ’s role, we see that as a prophet, His public ministry was profoundly impacted. Jesus was so determined to speak to the people that He would travel from synagogue to synagogue. He did this so that He could tell of the good news of the forthcoming Kingdom. Jesus not only declared the good news, “He also challenged the sinfulness of people and their hard-heartedness against God, especially pointing out the hypocrisy of religious leaders” (Thorsen 202). Clearly, Jesus had an encouraging prophetic ministry; so prophetic that He even told of a future day when He would return. “‘My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am’” (John 14:2-3).

The priestly office of Christ was dramatically different from that of a prophet messenger. In today’s culture a priest is known as an intercessor or bridge between God and humanity. While in early biblical times, the priest was responsible for offering sacrifices to God on the behalf of others. Although different time periods, these definitions of a priest seem fitting for the sacrifice that Christ provided to atone for humanities sins. Furthermore, prior to Christ’s death, part of the Jews religious beliefs centered upon sacrificing animals. When viewing Christ as High Priest, “He actually combines two institutions of the sacrificial system: He is the priest who offers the sacrifice and He is the sacrifice. He did not enter Heaven with the blood of animals but through His own blood, and as a result, we are sanctified once and for all” (Eckman). With Christ’s atonement for our sins, the need for Levitical sacrifices to compensate for man’s sins are no longer needed. In its place, comes a new covenant relationship between God and man provided by the priestly office of our Savior Jesus Christ.

The third office that Christ holds is that of King. Unlike earthly kings that establish their reign through force and intimidation, Jesus’ rule was not established by instilling fear in the hearts of men. “His kingdom is not physical in regard to His people, but one in which they choose to become a part of His kingdom by placing themselves under His Lordship, voluntarily; turning away from serving the god of this world, Lucifer” (Renz). The reason that Christ’s kingship is so widely accepted is because it is based upon four facets of His life; His reign was predicted, presented, proclaimed, and it is preeminent. From the very beginning, the Book of Genesis predicts Christ’s birth by a woman, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15). Next, Christ’s kingship is presented numerous times in the New Testament. In fact, “Matthew refers to Jesus as king 14 times, Mark refers to Him as king 6 times, Luke refers to Him as king 5 times, and John refers to Him as king 14 times” (Renz). Thirdly, Christ Himself makes the first proclamation of His kingship in the Gospel of Mark where He claims, “‘The time has come,’ He said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’” (Mark 1:15). Last, Christ can only be our King if one makes a choice. We must allow Him to reign over our hearts by allowing Him to sit on the throne of our lives. For as the scriptures confirm, “In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).

In the confines of ministry, no matter if you are a theological major or saved for only one day, there is substantial biblical evidence to support and help all Christians convey who Jesus Christ is. Yet for some reason, many still feel that they do not have the communication skills needed to minister to others. However, what they fail to realize is that, “When the gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed, it does ‘not come by itself,’ that is ‘simply with words.’ Rather, when God’s Word is preached it is accompanied by work of the Holy Spirit” (Malone). Without the Holy Spirit working inside us, no extent of eloquent words will lead men and women to an act of repentance before the Lord. Therefore, one should place less emphasis on our words trying to bring forth personal transformation, and keep in mind that the weapon we bare to wage war in the spiritual battle is the Sword of the Spirit (The Bible).

In summary, Jesus Christ has come to be identified by many different titles. And at times, some have even referred to Him as just a good man. Yet for those of us who believe in Christ, we recognize that for one to truly know who Jesus is, one must come to identify Him through the offices that He held; the offices of the prophet, the priest, and the king. Two-thousand years has passed since Jesus Christ has left this earth, yet many still do not know the answer to one of life’s most important questions, “Who is Jesus?” It is a question that even Jesus Himself asked of His own disciples, “‘But who do you say that I am?’” And while we may not have a front row seat before Jesus today, rest assured as you walk out amongst the world you will have just as many chances to answer this question. It may come in the form of your next-door neighbor, your boss, your postman, or even the barista at your local coffee house. But it will be just as important as answering it directly before Christ. The only question that remains then, when faced with these opportunities, “Who will you say that He is?”

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Works Cited:
Eckman, David. “Christ the High Priest.” Whatgodintended.com. 2011. Web. April 21, 2011.

Malone, Kelly. “Evangelism and Proclaiming The Gospel of Jesus Christ In A Fallen World.” Crosswalk.com. September 07, 2007. Web. April 21, 2011.

Renz, Art. “Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” Hissheep.org. 2011. Web. April 21, 2011.

Stewart, David J. “Misconceptions Concerning Christ.” Jesus-is-savior.com. 2011. Web. April 21, 2011.

Thorsen, Don. An Exploration of Christian Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2010. Print.

Categories: Jesus Christ | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Salvation: Answering the What? Why? How?

Most people in today’s society have heard expressions liked ‘saved,’ ‘born again,’ or ‘converted.’ Yet, no matter how many times they may have heard these terms, throngs of people have never made the effort to accept salvation through Jesus Christ. Ironically the reason for this may not be because they have never been approached; but for the simple fact they do not know what salvation is or how one obtains it. It is my hope that if you have somehow stumbled across this article, by the time you are finished reading it you’ll be able to walk away with a much clearer understanding of three very important questions concerning God’s plan for salvation. These questions are; What is salvation? Why do you need salvation? And, how do you obtain salvation?

One of the most renowned biblical verses in all of Christianity is, “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). As this verse shows, salvation is a free gift of everlasting life that is only made possible through Jesus Christ. However, what is the definition of salvation? For believers in Christ we know that our source of life stems from God the Father. Yet, due to the entrance of sin we were forever separated from God. In essence, our only source for eternal life has been separated from us. Salvation is God’s plan that was designed to bridge the gap between sin and man. It is though Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that we are reunited with our father and provided everlasting life. As Thorsen states, “Salvation ultimately represents a gift from God, secured by Jesus, and affected in the lives of people through the Holy Spirit” (Thorsen 277).

With salvation now defined, you may be asking yourself, “Why do I need salvation?” Most people have heard of the story of Adam and Eve and how they lived in harmony and love with God in the Garden of Eden. Yet, man was tempted and disobeyed God’s Word when instructed not to eat from the Tree of Good and Evil. It was this action that brought irreversible death to us all. An event so sinful in God’s eyes that man would inherit this sinful nature for generation to generation to come. And since God can’t have a harmonious relationship with sinners, we are each born apart from our Creator from the very moment we take our first breath. As the scriptures confirm, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). Thus, because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, we are forever banished and separated from God. Yet, the good news is, everyone has the ability to be saved. The removal of sin can occur, and we can be brought back in fellowship with our Heavenly Father. Salvation is the answer and it provides us each with an eternal lease on life. When one believes in the Gospel and gives up his or her life for Christ, we receive benefits unimaginable to the non-believer. These benefits include our sins being forgiven, a realignment with our relationship with God, eternal dwelling in Heaven instead of Hell, and a new life lived in the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Now that we have recognized that everyone needs salvation, maybe you’re wondering how do you go about receiving it? In short, it is a determination to make a life-long change. “To become a beneficiary of Christ, one must first repent – become sorrowful for ones wickedness and forsake ones evil ways. Then in the second place, one must accept Christ by faith, and commit ones soul to ones Savior for salvation” (Webb 272). When one takes these first two steps a justification between man and God occurs. We are reinstated in the divine favor we once had before the Fall of Man. To better understand this, one can look to 1 Peter 3:18 which states, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18). “God’s remedy through the Lord Jesus is justification. This means that if we believe in the Lord Jesus, He looks upon us as though we are righteous. It may help us to think of it like this. When I am justified it is JUST-AS-IF-I’D never sinned” (Sherring 7).

If before reading this article you never fully understood the true meaning of salvation, I hope that you are now able to walk away with a clearer understanding. I really hope you recognize that God loves you no matter what. And He wants nothing more than to deliver you from sin and the assuredness of spiritual death. I also want you to know that if you desire to receive God’s free gift of salvation, it doesn’t have to occur in a church. You don’t have to wait. Your eternal security can be changed, right here… right now as you read this. And it begins by praying something like this to God:

“Dear God, today I turn away from all of my sins (name them). This day I put my trust in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. He is the only way for me to be saved. He is ‘The way, the truth, and the life.’ Please forgive me, change my heart, and grant me Your gift of everlasting life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

If you’ve taken the time to say this prayer I would like to congratulate you for making the commitment to follow Jesus Christ. Your obedience to God is proof of your love for His Son. From here you should go out and find a good church to help you grow. Don’t wait for an invite; if you have questions, call a local church and ask to speak to a pastor. The decision you have just made is not taken lightly, and it comes with eternal rewards. As the Bible says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Today is the beginning of your new life in Christ Jesus!

If you’ve made the decision to commit your life to Christ or have any questions, please use the contact me form at http://pastordodd.com/about/contact-me/ to reach out and let me know.

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

 

Works Cited
Legge, David. “Love the Lost.” Preachtheword.com. March 2005. Web. May 2, 2011.

Sherring, Brian. The Meaning of Salvation. London, England: Berean Publishing Trust, 2000. Print

Thorsen, Don. An Exploration of Christian Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2010. Print.

Webb, Robert Alexander. Christian Salvation: Its Doctrine and Experience. Richmond, Virginia: Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1921. Print.

Categories: Judgement, Salvation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I'm a Pastor… And I Carry a Gun

On any given Sunday, many pastoral leaders around the country begin there day in similar fashion. Eat a hardy breakfast… check. Spend alone time in prayer… check. Grab their Bible… check. And load one high-velocity round into their semi-automatic handgun…. check. Sadly, this has become a very real scenario for many of us who have accepted the call into ministry. While pastors who arm themselves have become a very controversial subject, there’s no denying that the alarming rise in church shootings have led members of clergy to reevaluate if the Word of God is really the only protection they need to be carrying.

Before I begin, let me state where I personally stand on this issue. I am an ordained minister that believes that the primary weapons for spiritual warfare is the Bible and prayer. However, I also believe that God’s Word not only condones self-defense, but also mandates the protection of one’s family (Exodus 22:2; Luke 22:6). While most of my time in ministry may not be spent at the helm of a pulpit, writing for my own website and three international news organizations has led me to obtain a very large web presence. With that comes hails of praise and thankfulness; but also those people that Jesus warned about, “You will be hated by everyone because of my name” (Matthew 10:22). There have been many times where disagreeing with my views on faith have escalated past the point of mere theological indifference. And the chance of someone harming my family or myself has become a very real threat. Therefore, not only do I have a concealed weapons permit, but I carry a gun on me at all times. While some may disagree with my view on this issue, let me state that I openly declare, I am a pastor… And I carry a gun.

In 2007, I was a member of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. On December 9th of that year, a gunman entered the church and quickly turned this house of worship into the devils own personal playground. Just after the second service had let out, a gunman identified as Matthew Murray age 24, entered the church and opened fire. In the wake of the shooting, four people were injured, and two sisters Rachel and Stephanie Works were senselessly killed. Thankfully the nightmare ended when a church security volunteer, shot and wounded the gunman who then turned his gun on himself. Having this incident occur so close to home in my former church, I know all too well that the threat of violence against clergy members is very real. In fact, as the statics show, Deadly Force Incidents at Faith-Based Organizations in the United States is climbing at an alarming rate. Since January 2009 until present, there have been 568 incidents of violence on church grounds or ministries. Of those incidents, 398 people were killed (Chinn).

While attacks in church buildings in particular have awakened the attention of many Christians, there are still many that hold to the belief that those called to ministry should not bear arms. It is not my intent to write this article to debate these two opposing views. However, it is my intent to show why I firmly believe that the right to bear arms in not only a constitutional right, but also a biblically accepted mandate. A mandate that many parishioners may not be aware that pastoral leaders are secretly embracing. In fact, there are very few pastoral leaders that I personally know that don’t carry a concealed weapon today.

If you are one that disagrees with ministry leaders carrying weapons I would like to turn my focus directly to you. As Christians, the use of force in the preservation of life is a biblical doctrine. As the prophet Ezra wrote, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes” (Nehemiah 4:14). Other scriptural passages include Proverbs 24:10-12; Exodus 22:2; and John 15:13–14. Now I’m not saying that all pastors should just go out and buy a firearm without being trained. As scripture details, those whom took up arms were often shown as being skilled to do so. “Among all these soldiers there were seven hundred select troops who were left-handed, each of whom could sling a stone at a hair and not miss” (Judges 20:16). These scriptures where not provided by God as a means to authorize harming others; but illustrate that we do have a right and obligation to defend life, liberty, and property in the midst of a fallen world and an ever declining government.

With respect to those that state, “Well Jesus never carried a weapon.” You’re right, Jesus never carried a weapon but His disciples did. Let me turn your attention to Luke Chapter 22 where Jesus Himself said, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36). In those days, a sword was the most lethal weapon that a person could carry on them as opposed to a firearm today. Remember also one of Jesus’ most widely used assertions today, “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). There are two very important things to take from this statement. First, when Jesus told Peter to “Put your sword back in its place,” where was “its place?” It was at Peter’s side, which was concealed under his cloak somewhere. Secondly, Jesus’s makes the statement, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” Interestingly enough, Jesus did not rebuke Peter for having a weapon. His words were representative of only using a weapon as means of defense, and never as means of cold-blooded murder. In fact, there is no question that Jesus knew that His disciples where “packing” so to speak. At the Last Supper, Jesus’ disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That’s enough!” Jesus replied (Luke 22:38).

One of Jesus’ favorite metaphors that He liked to use was about the role of a shepherd; for a shepherd has many roles. He provides food, correction, support, leadership, comfort, and yes protection to the flock. In fact, the word pastor means shepherd, “a person who tends to God’s flock.” This is a responsibility of every church leader today. While sheep are cute and fluffy, they have one huge disadvantage; sheep have almost no means of defense without the aide of the shepherd. While they may be able to run away, they really can’t kick, bite or scratch their way out of harms way. This makes them easy prey. Therefore, sheep need protection, and the protection of the shepherd is where they find it. However, in the role of protector, I believe that scripture clearly shows that it IS NOT the role of a pastor to carry a weapon as means of providing personal security to the flock. As Luke wrote in the Book of Acts, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them (Acts 20:28-30).” I believe this to be a very important passage to the true role of pastoral leaders. As protectors, pastors are called to provide spiritual protection of the flock and keep them from going astray and defend them against the savage wolves who may try and ravage them. With this in mind, I do believe that it is a pastor’s obligation to insure proper security is in place by security teams within the church. As the Apostle Paul exhorts in his farewell speech to the church at Ephesus, leaders must “Be on guard” for themselves and “for all the flock” (Acts 20:28).

Still, there are many critics today that believe that if a pastor, or security teams have to carry a gun then there is a lack of faith that God will protect him, his family, or members of the congregation. Is it a lack of faith? Absolutely not. Just because it’s a church building, are people really any safer inside than those outside of a church? As someone who has endured a church shooting and witnessed the aftermath of such horror, we need to come to the realization that churches are no longer off limits. Some say that it is a house of worship, and there is no place for weapons of death in such a place. To those critics I would say, you’re right. But unfortunately, those looking to harm others don’t see it that way.

As an ordained man of God I wholeheartedly follow the sixth commandment, “Thou shall not murder.” To murder is defined as, “The unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.” When a person, in this case a pastor, chooses to carry a weapon in self-defense it is not being done with the intent to commit murder. I for one hold to the biblical command to take reasonable precautions for the self-defense of my family and my personal safety. Yes, my primary weapon of choice will always be the Bible, prayer, and faith; but as a follower of Christ I must also remain vigilant with the knowledge that, “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come” (Mark 7:21). We live in a fallen world and the Bible warns that in the last days we will live in “perilous times” because of the increase in evil character of man and people who actively “resist the truth” (2 Timothy 3:1-9).

In closing, I would love to say that working in full-time ministry is all about joy and happiness where the love of God flows through everyone; and to be honest, most of the time it is. But unfortunately as many ministry leaders recognize, there is a very dark-side to ministry as well. A side where the forces of evil are very real and Satan really does use flesh and blood people to carry forth horrific acts of evil that can only be thwarted with physical protection. There are some that stand on the defense of, “How could anyone shoot a child of God?” Look, I hope that if I ever have to draw my weapon in self-defense it will be merely enough to show them my weapon and deter them from acting in violence. But one must also remember that if the time arises, it will not be a child of God whom you are likely to be defending yourself from. Rather those, whom are consumed by evil that do not have the love of Christ flowing within them; in fact, it may be someone so fueled with hatred towards Christians that they derive great pleasure from the suffering or death of others. In the event I, another pastor, or a Christian for that matter must pull our weapons in defense of ourselves, our families, or other believers, we would not be shooting a child of God. Instead, we may be the one God chose to protect a child of God by being properly trained and fully equipped to use lethal force to save a life. While some may still disagree with my and other pastoral leaders views around the world, there is no denying that in scripture Jesus is found telling His disciples to carry swords as they prepare to go out and evangelize. Therefore, if Jesus’ disciples carried swords… then shouldn’t a pastor carry a gun?

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Works Cited:
Chinn, Charles “Security!? In a Church” http://www.carlchinn.com. 2009-2012. Web. August 17, 2012.

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