The Fatal Flaw in Many Talk Show Hosts’ Reasoning

Over the years I have listened to talk show hosts like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Mark Levine. Lately, however, I’m increasingly less interested in their perspectives on the world. I have noticed a fatal flaw in their reasoning about human beings, which under-girds their thinking on a host of political and moral issues.

While they all speak of it, Glenn Beck is perhaps the most outspoken about the reality of evil in our world. The question is, HOW do they speak of it? How do they view evil, and how does it affect the rest of their worldview?

Speaking of the Western world’s conflict with ISIS, Glenn Beck states, “This is a war against evil.” No doubt.

In his book Deliver Us from Evil, Sean Hannity reacted against the 2001 bombing of the World Trade Center: “Evil exists. It is real, and it means to harm us.” No question.

But how do they understand evil? If people are out to kill us, they are evil. So what should we do about it? Usually, the remedy is to kill the offenders first. But when we kill them we are not evil because we are defending ourselves against evil. In other words, we are the good guys and they are the bad guys.

I also hear these same men claim (fairly often) that they believe “we” are basically good. Really?

There’s a glaring problem in their reasoning, but it’s not easy for us to see. In fact, I’ve heard many church-going folk follow similar lines of logic. How can we be basically good while they are basically evil? How did Western civilization become basically good? How did Islamic nations end up basically evil?

Those who believe they are basically good find it easy to choose a side and then paint all in opposition as the bad guys. The United States has polarized itself using this way of thinking. Democrats think Republicans are basically evil. Republicans think Democrats are basically evil. Libertarians think Dems and Reps are Satan’s spawn. Everyone has decided that his way of thinking is correct and that his heart is good. Those who think differently must be fighting for the other side.

As Christians, we should accept what God tells us about ourselves:

“…the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8.21)

 

“God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.” (Ecclesiastes 7.29)

“Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.” (Jeremiah 13.23)

“…there is no one who does not sin…” (1 Kings 8.46)

“…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3.23)

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience–among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (Ephesians 2.1-3)

Let us not draw lines where God hasn’t, and He draws those lines between the saved and unsaved, between believers and unbelievers. Those who commit acts of evil act according to their flesh–and ALL men walk in their flesh unless and until God saves them!

We should not be surprised at the levels of violence, sexual perversion, hate, contempt, in-fighting, power-grabbing, back-stabbing, and abuse in the world. We should be surprised when light shines brightly, when hope is born, when grace is offered–for that is the rarity.

Thank God for His mercy and His Spirit, who enables us to actually commit goodness and kindness. Without God’s grace this world would devolve into cataclysmic chaos, a deluge of darkness.

But with His grace there is hope, not for all men, but for those who submit to His Son and for those whom He changes from the inside out.

As long as we buy the lie that we are basically good they are basically evil, we will continue to walk in our own evil and call it good. We should own our own evil, taking it before God in confession and repentance, and perhaps then we can look at them with more grace and understanding. God’s grace tears down walls because it forces us to identify with other sinners.

So listen closely to your talk show hosts of choice. Listen to your congressmen and women. Listen to your President and Governor. See if they have this fatal misunderstanding of human nature. I hope it provokes you to become more critical in your weighing of their arguments.

Are You Jesus’ Disciple?

Many label themselves “Christians” who are not true disciples.

Let’s listen to the Master Himself as He defines what it means to follow Him.

In Matthew 4.18-22, Jesus called Simon Peter and Andrew while they were fishing, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. Just a little while farther Jesus likewise called James and John, who “immediately…left the boat and their father and followed Him.”

In Luke 9.57-62, Jesus encountered three men who said they would follow Him, but in each case Jesus explained why their idea of following Him was not consistent with His. Notice the three cases:

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

Jesus actually discouraged this guy, challenging his idea of discipleship. He expressed a desire to follow, but Jesus basically said, “You don’t know what you’re asking.” Perhaps the man thought he’d follow Jesus to a rabbinical school for spiritual learning. But to follow Jesus means not having an earthly home, financial and physical security, or a guarantee of the next meal.

And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”

Whether this man’s father was already dead or not may alter our perception of Jesus’s answer, but we can understand this in either case: following Jesus is more important than physical familial attachments. The work in Christ’s Kingdom takes priority over everything else. Jesus challenged this man’s procrastination.

Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Again, we see Jesus’ challenging this man’s allegiance. He was divided in his mind, in part wanting to follow Jesus and in part wanting to hang on to earthly ties. If you commit to Christ, don’t look back! Our focus is ever and always forward. Keep plowing straight ahead, forgetting the past and keeping your eyes on the goal. Jesus had His face set towards Jerusalem where He would die for His Kingdom. He also expects His followers to leave everything behind for the sake of the Kingdom.

Am I misinterpreting these verses? They seem fairly plain. Jesus challenged each of these men, and He demanded full participation, full allegiance, full dedication. Have His demands changed? Do you think He’s satisfied with lukewarm Christians today who live half in the world and half in the kingdom? Or, in many cases, almost entirely in the world with only a foot in the door of the kingdom?

Are you Jesus’ disciple?

What God Wants You To Do Today

So many stumble through life with no sense of purpose. I sometimes look back on my day, week, or month and wonder exactly what have I been doing. What worthwhile thing have I accomplished? Have I made a difference to my family, to my friends, or to my community?

Thinking about purpose, consider the following info-graphic on suicide statistics in the state of Louisiana:

 

According to the same website, in the United States an average of 121 people commit suicide each day. That’s 44,165 per year!

Why so many suicides? Individuals take their own lives when they feel their physical or emotional pain is overwhelming and they cannot see past it. They don’t have a reason to live. Life no longer holds purpose or meaning.

I wonder what the rates of DEPRESSION in the United States might be. We distinguish between clinical depression and emotional depression, because the two are not synonymous. But how many are depressed because of their life situation, because their life holds no significant meaning in their own estimation?

Many of us, failing to understand God’s ordained purpose for our lives, fall into unhealthy and destructive cycles of selfishness in which we cease to care about others and focus almost entirely on our own needs, desires, and comforts. Have you fallen into such a cycle? Think about the following verses which show God’s plan for your life, and compare your actual life with God’s vision:

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6.8)

Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,
Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow. (Isaiah 1.16-17)

But if a man is just
And does what is lawful and right;
If he has not eaten on the mountains,
Nor lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel,
Nor defiled his neighbor’s wife,
Nor approached a woman during her impurity;
If he has not oppressed anyone,
But has restored to the debtor his pledge;
Has robbed no one by violence,
But has given his bread to the hungry
And covered the naked with clothing;
If he has not exacted usury
Nor taken any increase,
But has withdrawn his hand from iniquity
And executed true judgment between man and man;
If he has walked in My statutes—
And kept My judgments faithfully—
He is just;
He shall surely live!”
Says the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 18.5-9)

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2.3-4)

“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25.34-40)

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. (James 1.27)

We could add so many verses, but these suffice to show God’s intent for His people. He wants us taking care of others, treating others as more important than ourselves. The work He gives us to do is so simple! Amazingly, when we submit to God’s vision for our lives and give ourselves for others, we find great purpose. Only a truly wicked and selfish person feels miserable after helping his neighbor! As Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

So what is my purpose for today? I should be helping someone, doing for someone, pouring myself out for someone. If I go day after day only serving myself (what do I want to eat; what do I want to do; when can I get back to my hobby?), life will fade into meaninglessness. But the more I submit myself to others’ needs, desires, and comforts, the less I think of myself, and the greater my own sense of blessedness, joy, and overall enjoyment of life becomes!

If you feel miserable and depressed, listless and aimless, try doing something for another. It’s exactly what God would have you do today. May God bless you as you labor in His kingdom.

Narrow-Minded Christians

One WayIn the way the world defines narrow-mindedness, Christians fit the bill!

As long as you don’t say Jesus is the ONLY way to salvation…as long as you don’t insist in a ONE TRUE GOD who revealed Himself only through the Bible…as long as you don’t stand against sin ABSOLUTELY…then the world will accept you as an open-minded Christian. And the world loves open-minded Christians.

We have a tiny problem, however, and that is–or, rather, He is–Jesus.

Yes, Jesus claimed to be the ONLY way by which to access the Father: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14.6). Jesus taught there is only ONE GOD (Mark 12.29). Jesus preached ABSOLUTELY against sin (see Matthew 5.21-48, which ends with “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”). Jesus traced sin to the recesses of the human heart:

“What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mark 7.20-23)

Love your neighborHowever, He taught us not to be narrow in choosing who we love. In fact, we should liberally love all those around us, no matter their sins and no matter their station in life. Didn’t Jesus present the story of the good Samaritan in order to show us love crosses all ethnic, social, and whatever other boundaries?

So, dear neighbor, I cannot condone your sinful habits, but I attempt to love you like Jesus loves you. I cannot amiably accept your god, but I can still do what is right towards you. Because I love you, I’ll tell you about the One True God comprising the Holy Father, His only begotten Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

This world hates that kind of narrow-mindedness, but God loves it because it’s the truth. I’ll stick with Him, not the world.

So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4.18-20)

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5.29)

Latest Sermons

We just updated the sermon archive to include the last two Sunday morning sermons:

How First Century Churches Used Collected Money (download)

What Is a Real Christian – Part 2: Complying with God’s Terms of Salvation (download)

Jesus Is Exclusive!

InterFaith-256pxI shared with our church gathering last night an NPR story from December 13, 2015 which covered a “Tri-Faith Initiative” in Omaha, NE. Gathered in the room were a professing Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Rabbi. Among the inane statements I heard, one in particular from the “Christian,” a minister for a United Church of Christ, caught my ear:

Well, you’d think in light of today’s climate that the range of opinion – the opposition came from people who were afraid to associate with Muslims. But actually, most of the people who were opposed were simply opposed because we have a beautiful building, been there for 65 years, and people didn’t want to pick up stakes and moves. There’s really no good reason at all for Countryside to do this other than the beauty of the vision of the Tri-Faith Initiative, which really matched our values and our ethos as a church – that Christian love of Jesus – or of God rather – includes walking fully in the path of Jesus without denying the legitimacy of other paths that God may create for humanity.

Um…what?

This man leads a large congregation of profession Christians, and he’s not even a Christian himself! He does not even minutely know Christ or His teachings. I’m sure he holds a caricature of the Lord in his mind, but whatever or whoever he worships does not resemble the crucified Son of God of the Bible.

As anti-PC as this world may deem Him, Jesus gave no wiggle room to come to God apart from Him. Jesus said to Thomas on one occasion, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn. 14.6). The apostles responded to their persecutors in Acts 4.12: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

exclusive_640Can a Muslim really know the Father, God? A Muslim claims Allah to be the One True God, and Jesus Christ, at best, to be a great prophet–certainly not the Son of God. They claim you must find God by following the teachings of the True Prophet Muhammad. Can a follower of the Hebrew religion know the Father, God? A follower of the Law of Moses rejects Christ as the Messiah and Savior of the world. Yet Jesus stated in Matt. 11.27, “no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Who shall we believe? “Whoever is not with me is against me,” said Jesus in Matt. 12.30.

Those who profess to know and follow Christ and yet attempt to welcome the Muslim faith and Hebrew faith as “legitimate paths” God created for humanity throw out most of the Bible. They create their own religion and rewrite Scripture to suit themselves! They are idolaters bowing at the feet of some fabricated fiction of their own minds. May God judge those who corrupt scripture and spread such nonsense.

They believe their agenda is admirable because they are bringing everyone together, but true unity cannot be found on human terms. We will only find peace, harmony, and unity when we all bow before Jesus Christ, Lord of all. That’s not PC. But that’s Bible truth.

With love for our enemies, we simply preach the truth and let the word of God have its way among men. Hold fast to Jesus Christ, brothers and sisters!