A new podcast episode is up. For everything there is a season. During our lives we will go through different seasons. In this episode, I discuss what some of the seasons may look like and what they mean for your life.
You are called
In this episode of the Everyday Jesus podcast, we look at the subject of calling. Is everyone called to do ministry or is it something just for pastors and missionaries?
For Everything There is a Season – Everyday Jesus
The Christian Conscience and Mandates
We are living in a time when the government mandates many things – from health insurance to certain shots. And while many may take the stance that Romans 13 addresses how the Christian should respond to such mandates, I believe that is a blanket statement in which the blanket has far too many holes in it to keep anyone warm.
Now, to be clear, most of the people I personally know that have been faced with the more recent mandate, have actually gotten around it by applying for an exemption. Some of the exemptions have been medical and some have been religious. And it seems that there is a controversy as to whether religious exemptions are biblical.
Those in charge in many places were expecting people to apply for religious exemptions, specifically tied to the fetal cell argument, so they sought to obscure the truth, (see link here). My thoughts today are not to talk down that line of thinking for applying for a religious exemption because of the deeply held belief that abortion is wrong, but to also offer another train of thought in regards to exemptions – namely the idea of a Christian conscience.
Many have seemingly forgotten one of Christianity’s deeply held ideas, that every Christian has a conscience and to go against one’s conscience is sinful. On October 31st, the church across the world celebrates Reformation Day, which is the anniversary of the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg Chapel.
As history taught us, the ruling powers in the church at the time did not take kindly to what Luther thought, so they started persecuting him and asking him to take back what he had said against the pope and the church. It is in that context that he is reportedly to have said: “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.”
Christians today could learn a lot about the sheer boldness and fortitude possessed by Luther, because the conscience is an important part of how we are to live out our lives as believers. Deep within our souls we know right from wrong and God expects us to do what is right.
“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” James 4:17
James does not hold back here, it’s sinful to go against your conscience. The Bible doesn’t address every area of sin. It doesn’t mention how much time we should spend on Facebook or in what ways we should use computers, but it does say that the law of God has been written on the hearts of men. And James draws from that, the idea that we know the difference from right and wrong and we must do what is right. Where the Bible is silent, in other words, we must follow what God has put into our hearts.
Now we know according to Jeremiah 17:9 that the heart is exceedingly deceitful, so how does this play into our conscience? Well the Bible answers that in the New Testament. Hebrews 9:14 says, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”
Put simply, because of Jesus and his atoning work on the cross, our conscience is being purified. Now this doesn’t mean it’s perfect and we should certainly pray over our responses in critical situations, but as James said, we can’t go against our conscience as that would be sinful.
Now I’ve said all of that to say this, when it comes to government mandates, the Christian must search his conscience and do what is right to him, for to do anything other would be sinful. The Bible is clear that government has its place and it is to be God’s servant for your good (Romans 13:4). It should be honored and respected. But the Government is not God and when the government tells you to do something that goes against God or your conscience, then you have a duty to do what is right before God.
This line of thought was summed up perfectly in the early church when Peter and the apostles were brought before the local authorities and were instructed to stop preaching the gospel. Now they could have obeyed the principle in Romans 13, but instead, they understood the principle in James 4:17 and chose to stand up for what they believed and said, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)
So I’d like to encourage you in a couple of areas today. First, if you are facing a mandate and it goes against your conscience, stand strong. Secondly, if you are having discussions with friends and family on this subject, and their conscience is telling them something different than what yours has told you, please love and respect them. We are free to disagree with one another, but we are not free to hate on one another. Christians should be known for their grace, not their vitriol, even in times like these.
WHICH GOD DO YOU SERVE?
This is a story almost as old as time. As a people, we were created to worship. Now some, possibly those who are atheist, would say that we are not created to worship and that they are choosing not to worship any god. They would however be wrong.
When we think of worship, a lot of times we think of it as kneeling down before our chosen deity. Yet, worship is more than that. It’s really about what do we give reverence to or to put it another way what do we make the highest authority in our life.
Whatever is our highest authority or whatever we give the most reverence to is what we are worshipping. We may never sing songs to it and we may never physically kneel before it, but make no mistake, we are worshipping it.
At any given times, multiple things or people are vying for our worship. One of these easiest gods to point out is the god of money. Jesus never says that money is evil, it’s fairly neutral, but it’s the “love” of money that is evil. Or to look at it another way, it’s the worshipping of money that is evil. That’s why Jesus also says that you cannot serve two masters – god and money.
That’s a principle worth noting – you cannot worship two gods. You might think you are worshipping God and money or God and popularity, but in truth one will always take the place of the other, meaning you will always hold one in higher esteem and if you are holding one in higher esteem, then the other isn’t really being worshipped. Jesus is essentially saying that if you are choosing between God and anything else, then God is the one who will lose out. You must determine that He alone is God and that nothing else is worthy of your worship.
One of the seemingly shared characteristics of all gods is their ability to save us from hell. I heard a preacher say years ago, that if being poor is hell for us, then of course money will save us. If being being single is hell, then of course a spouse will save us. If being rejected is hell, then you will worship popularity. We worship the god that we think will save us.
This brings us to our current state of affairs. Sometimes you will see that certain entities will create a “hell” so that it can also save you from it. Today governments all across the world are creating a “hell” for people so that it can offer salvation. This hell is the inability to enter restaurants, stores or even work at certain jobs without having the proper “medical credentials”. The government now has the ability to save you from this hell by offering you salvation in the form of a shot and the proper paperwork. The reason for this is simple, the government is demanding your worship.
Some will say that Romans 13 is an open checkbook for us to obey any and all demands of the government, but they fail to take into account several instances in the Bible where people didn’t obey the ludicrous claims of the governing authority, especially when those demands went against their faith. The Apostles never stopped preaching the gospel, even though they were commanded to under the threat of death.
“But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”Acts 5:29
Look at the stories of the midwives in Exodus 1 or Rahab in the Book of Joshua. Look at the life of Daniel and the three Hebrew boys. There are many examples of defying tyrants in the Bible. In fact, some would say that it’s one of the hallmarks of being a God-fearing person. You fear God more than you fear the government.
“Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God”John Knox – Scottish Reformer
Again, we worship whatever we hold in the highest regard. If it’s God, we will certainly attempt to live quiet lives, seeking to love others and to love God. But don’t expect the government or money or whatever not to fight for your worship. I believe every Christian will have to face the question, which god do you serve? You can only choose one. Which one do you serve today?
Pregnant With The Wind
In this episode we are discussing what it looks like to be pregnant with the wind, or to put it in other words, to labor for something that never comes to pass. Have you ever worked hard only to find yourself in a fruitless situation several years down the road? Have you ever had a dream that never came true or didn’t amount to what you thought it would. We hit on all those things and more in this episode.
Pregnant With The Wind – Everyday Jesus
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Three Ways To Halt Your Spiritual Growth
A new podcast episode examining the three ways that you halt your own spiritual growth. Be sure to check it out and share it with a friend!
For Everything There is a Season – Everyday Jesus
Contentment Versus Complacency
A few weeks ago, I was giving a lot of thought to stagnant water. Perhaps all of the rain we have had over the past few months was finally getting to me, but I found myself staring at a little ponding of water near the end of my driveway. It had no where to go. The hole was created when someone drove off the road and into my yard as they came into our neighborhood.
This hole had filled with water, but because of it’s shape, it had nowhere to go. No groove existed for the water to escape out. It just sat there. Some leaves leftover from the fall had found their way to this hole and dirt had colored the water a dark brown. It looked gross.
It’s easy for us to picture how unhealthy it would be to drink out of a puddle like this. Most of us would instinctively know that you wouldn’t look at that dirty puddle and go grab a straw. But how many of us drink from stagnant waters in our spiritual lives?
Many of us have what I am going to term, “Complacency of the Soul.” To define that, Complacency of the Soul is when our spiritual life has become stagnant and we have become satisfied with things that are less than God’s ideal for our lives.
Now, this is different that being content. God wants us content. The Apostle Paul writes to the church in Philippi and tells them that he has learned to be content in whatever situation he has found himself in.Continue reading “Contentment Versus Complacency”
Leadership 101: Holding On To The Prophetic Word Given To You
I believe life to be a struggle. And I think its that way because that is the way God designed it. He wants us to struggle so as to encourage us to put our trust in Him. When things go smoothly, its much more difficult to admit your need for Him. But when things are falling apart, you are forced into His arms confessing your need for Him.
In leadership, there are points in your journey that God purposely puts there to reawaken the leader to his need for God. Sometimes a leader can become so reliant on their giftings that they will rely more on themselves than they do on God.
Godly leadership must always come from a heart of knowing that we are utterly dependent on God to accomplish his calling in our lives. When we take the calling that He has given to us and try to accomplish it in our own strength it will always fail.
Think about the story of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar. Abraham was given a prophetic promise from God – a calling. God had given Abraham and Sarah the promise of a son and truly more than that, a promise of offspring that would be innumerable.
But after years of believing for that promise, they began to doubt. It was not a lot of doubt, but they began to doubt. And when doubt creeps in, one of the tendencies in leadership is to try to “help God out” and in our strength try to bring about the promises of God rather than waiting for God to fulfill what He has promised us.Continue reading “Leadership 101: Holding On To The Prophetic Word Given To You”
The Fear of God Produces Change
Some people fear change. They love the normalcy of life. They look at life and hope that everything will always stay the same. They do not embrace the many changes in life. After all, if things are good, why would you want things to change?
I heard a wise person say once that the only certain thing in life is uncertainty. Or another way of looking at that is that the only thing in life that stays the same is change. Change always happens around us. We grow older, we get married, we have children, our children grow up, we retire — things change.
Change is a healthy part of life. We enjoy the benefits of new seasons in our life because of change. For example, when my wife and I first got married, I wasn’t sure it could get any better than those first few years! We lived in a condo on the water and we spent our evenings taking walks down by the water with our little dog. It was very picturesque. And even though we both worked a lot, when I was home, it felt like we were on vacation together.
But change is inevitable. We knew we couldn’t stay in the place forever. We wanted to own a house and have children. So we moved and had four wonderful children and they brought us even more joy than we could have imagined. So things changed around us, but God was good to us in the change.
Now external change is one thing, but internal change is another. Internal change, or change in the heart, is much harder to come by. I’ve known people will a lot of self-inflicted problems get fed up and decide to move to a different city. What they soon find is that their problems have followed them to their new destination! They never addressed the internal issues, so the change in external situations didn’t result in the happiness they were seeking.
Now in church, we are no different. Many people hop from church to church and are full of complaints. They leave one church because of some minor issue that they have blown out of proportion when in reality, the real problem is not in the church, it’s inside themselves.Continue reading “The Fear of God Produces Change”
The Fear of Man
“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” – Proverbs 29:25
There are many fears, but the fear of man, is one in which everyone has to do battle with on some level. Fear is a spirit and one of its key elements is distrust. Fear seeks to sow seeds of distrust into your heart. These seeds, when they are allowed to grow, form into a fruit known as the fear of man.
When we read the Book of Acts, one of the things that strikes me the most is that the disciples prayed for boldness constantly. They even prayed for boldness immediately after showing great amounts of boldness by preaching in a certain place and getting arrested. In Acts 4, we read about the arrest of Peter and John after preaching with boldness in Solomon’s Portico. The inspiring part of this story is that while they showed great amounts of boldness in front of the Sadducees, the first thing they did when they got released was to pray for more boldness.
“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” – Acts 4:29. The disciples knew that boldness was something that ebbed and flowed. It is a constant battle to fight against fear. The fear of man seeks to silence you. We know this to be incredibly dangerous because this is one area in which the gospel is spread. We spread the gospel by speaking it, by preaching it, by teaching it and by singing it.
As we look across our culture today, the fear of man permeates everything. We have cancel culture, we have people who are being deplatformed and we have people who are simply ostracized for speaking an opposing point of view. And while most of this in the US is centered around politics, it has certainly affected the mindset of all people and kept them from sharing their opinions openly.Continue reading “The Fear of Man”