What perfect timing!!! This PODCAST coming not a moment too soon!
Last week you might remember, I referenced the fact that so many of our precious Safe Haven family—You, not to put too fine a point on it—are going through profoundly challenging and difficult times.
Well guess what? In God’s perfect timing, that just happens to be the theme of 1 Peter.
“God’s Sustaining Strength Through Our (Your!) Sustained Sufferings.”
Be it physical, mental, emotional, relational, or spiritual—I know that many of us come stumbling into Safe Haven on a Saturday night, or click the link to this podcast—some of us feeling as though we are teetering on the breaking point.
Here is what I want you to hear: So did Peter’s original readers. This is a letter written specifically to them/to us/to you!
Get this: In the five short chapters that make up this beloved little letter, Peter will reference the suffering of his readers (including you!) 16 times.
“God’s Sustaining Strength Through Our (Your!) Sustained Sufferings.”
By way of this podcast, welcome to Peter’s world.
Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.
The deafeningly loud question that now demands an answer is,
Why our propensity to do what Jesus expressly told us not to do? Namely, “Do not judge others”?
The cause, believe it or not, lies in our faulty 4-point theology:
1. We tell people, Just pray a “Jesus Prayer,” or what is sometimes called “the Sinner’s Prayer,”and you’re in.
When we ask someone to tell us their testimony, what are we asking? When/where did you pray the “sinner’s prayer”? We have come to believe that becoming a Christian is all about “asking Jesus into your heart.” IOW, praying a Jesus prayer.
2. We then give them a birthday (You know how Jesus described our new relationship with Him as “being born again”?) a new-birth birthday present: a Bible. Which I’ll remind is called (in Hebrews 4) “a double-edged sword.”
Now that’s quite a metaphor, as you’ll see in mere moments. A double-edged sword.
3. We then teach them that they are competent to use it.
We buttress this claim of competency with verses like John 16:13, which is so typically yanked out of its context and twisted to mean something totally different than the biblical writer intended for it to mean:
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
There it is, we tell our newly-born convert. Just pick up your Bible and read it. And as you read it, the Holy Spirit will personally teach you what the Bible says, what the Bible means, how the Bible should be applied not only to our lives, but to the lives of everyone around us.
I mean, this gets downright frightening! Because we put this doubled-edged sword into the hands of babes whose only claim to fame is that they prayed a prayer.
What, do tell, is the context of John 16:13? The basis of the claim of competency of brand new baby Christians to wield their swords? Listen to what Jesus actually said IN CONTEXT:
There is so much more I want to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you (Who’s the you? Who was in the Upper Room with Jesus when He said this?) into all the truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you what is yet to come.
Not to get too theological on you here. But John 16:13 is NOT what we call an Illumination verse. John 16:13 is a Revelation verse. This passage that has nothing to do with the faulty notion that you and I just pick up our Bibles and read them. And the Holy Spirit will personally teach us what the Bible says, what it means, and how it should be applied not only to our lives, but to the lives of everyone around us.
If it did, why do we need teachers? Why listen to sermons? Why read commentaries? Why study the languages–vocabulary/grammar? Why understand the culture? Why learn the geography? Why learn the history? Why learn archaeology?
John 16:13 has nothing to do with us. Jesus made this promise to His disciples on the night before His crucifixion. This verse has everything to do with the apostles writing the New Testament!
OK, so, pray a prayer and you’re in. Here’s your double-edged sword. You are competent to use it.
4. We then teach them — if you can imagine this — we teach them that the highest virtue of Christian living is to take their Bibles — their double-edged swords, lethal weapons, placed in the hands of these, what Peter called in 1 Peter 2:2, “newborn babies” — and to wield these swords at each other.
How? By “Holding.People.Accountable.” Like some self-appointed judge or Krino.)
Krinos who just LOVE to spot something not quite kosher in your life or mine, wag a finger of judgment at us, spew a memory verse or two, and then smugly walk away thinking that sure did serve Jesus today by taking a stand for His truth.
***And We Wonder Why So Many Sincere Christ-Followers Get Devastated By “Christians” In Church???***
We say that Christians are notorious for shooting their wounded, Yes? I’d suggest that — to use the biblical metaphor — “Christians,” not Christ-followers (You know by now how often I make that subtle-yet-significant distinction) — “Christians” are notorious for stabbing, slashing, and decapitating their wounded.
“Christians” do that. Christ-followers don’t. Why? Because by definition, Christ-followers follow Jesus. They seek to put into practice what Jesus said. They seek to do what Jesus did. And what Jesus said, and what Jesus did was this:
Do not judge others.
“Christians” judge others. They make a sport of judging others. Christ-followers do not.
So one final question to consider: How should you and I respond to those “Christians” who do judge others? We’ll answer that question tomorrow. And the answer to that question will astound you.
But just in case you cannot wait that long, you can hear the entire discussion by clicking here:
Spiritual Abuse is a much-neglected, but all-too-common condition in our Christian circles. So let the conversation begin!
What Spiritual Abuse is, why it happens, and how we can guard ourselves and our friends from its devastation. I don’t often beg. But I am begging you now: PLEASE Listen, and then PLEASE “Share” this message with your friends.
And I, for one, am not prepared to concede this holy-day to the enemy. Here’s why:
Halloween is a contraction of two words, Hallows’ Eve.
“Hallows” (related to the word “holy”) is a reference to “saints” (having nothing to do with the Church conferring sainthood on dead people, but having everything to do with every one of us who loves, worships, and serves Jesus Christ). (See Ephesians 1:15 for but one example of the biblical usage of the word “saint.”)
“Eve,” of course, refers to evening, much as we use the word in reference to Christmas Eve.
Put it all together, and Halloween is in reality a “Holy Evening,” the night before “All Saints Day.”
Simply put, Halloween is the one night out of each year set aside for the dual purposes of (1) Identifying those precious saints of God, those committed Christ-followers who have had a significant, positive, and holy influence in our lives; and (2) Planning how we are going to honor them on the following day, November 1, All Saints Day.
This in the spirit of Romans 13:7, “Render to all men their dues… respect to whom respect is due, and honor to whom honor is due” (Amplified Bible).
Think of it this way: We have days set aside to honor our Mothers, Fathers, Presidents, historical individuals like Columbus, King, and others, our veterans, those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice (Memorial Day), etc., etc.
All Saints Day is the one day out of each year to honor those who have encouraged us in our walks with Christ, including those who have…
Led us to faith in Christ,
Taught us His Word,
Set an example for us of godly living,
Prayed for us,
Helped us along the way to take one more step in our spiritual journey,
Or perhaps the most important of all… Were there for us when no one else was.
Tonight is the night to identify these precious people, the unsung heroes of our personal faith, and to plan how best to honor them the very next day.
We can honor them in so many simple and yet oh-so-important ways:
A card, a letter, a note, a phone call, a text message, a Facebook post, an email message, a gift. Some sincere expression of what these dear people mean to us, and how these individuals have blessed our lives.
What a beautiful concept. More than that…
…What a BEAUTIFUL DAY. All Saints Day. Preceded, as it is, with an equally beautiful evening. An evening devoted to identification and preparation. An evening called Hallows’ Eve!
So in the true spirit of this sacred holy-day, let me extend to each of you a heartfelt…