The Standard Is Perfection

It’s only human nature to set ourselves up on a pedestal.  I mean, we are always comparing ourselves to someone who isn’t as “good” as we are.

“Sure, I may tell a little lie here and there, but at least I’m not like Hitler who killed millions of Jews.”

“So what if I cheat a little bit on my taxes to get a little extra money each year.  At least I’m not like that Jeffrey Dahmer guy!”

Or Charles Manson, or Timothy McVeigh, or John Wayne Gacy, or Ted Kaczynski, or any other notorious criminal who committed unspeakable acts of violence or murder.

God won’t judge our character against these guys.  His standard for us is Christ.  We could stand there all day long and say, “But I didn’t do this or that” or “But I did this and that,” and point out our “good” deeds compared to theirs, but God is going to put us up against Christ.  God’s standard isn’t “almost perfect”.  His standard is PERFECTION.  And the ONLY one who is perfect is Christ.  We’ve all heard the term “level playing field”.  Well, that’s what we’re going to have.  God won’t put some on higher pedestals than others based on their good works or not-quite-bad deeds.  Any lie told will be judged the same as one who murdered.  The act of adultery isn’t just limited to a physical act.  Jesus defined adultery as any lustful thoughts we may have.  So, just because someone hasn’t carried out the deed, doesn’t mean they’re free from guilt if they’ve only THOUGHT of someone in a lustful manner.  Jesus said that if we say we hate someone, we’ve already committed murder in our heart.

We are vile creatures.  The reason many of us haven’t resorted to acts of violence like those mentioned earlier is through the grace of God.  Every single one of us is capable of carrying out violent acts.  But, it’s only through God’s divine hand that we haven’t done so.  These people are examples of how wicked and depraved humans really are.  But, even though we haven’t done the deeds they have doesn’t mean we’re any less guilty than they are.  The only thing that will keep us in right standing with God is faith in Jesus because it is His righteousness that God sees and not our sin.

We have to quit thinking so highly of ourselves because apart from Christ, God sees us no differently than those whom we consider “monsters” for the deeds they’ve done.  Our “small” sins are no better than their “large” sins.



Feed My Sheep

feeding sheep

When we hear the phrase “we must grow our church”, most pastors think in terms of increasing the number of people that warm the pews each week.  But, I want to present a different view.  I believe that pastors should focus on growing the people who are already in the Church.  And by growing, I mean growing in spiritual maturity.

At no point in time did Jesus put the responsibility of growing the size of the church upon the pastors.  That duty falls upon Christ because Christ knows who His Elect are.  Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 that HE would build His church and the “gates of hell will not prevail against it.”  Jesus told Peter in John 21 to “Feed my sheep.”  The preaching of the gospel is the food that the sheep feed upon.  But, it is also the means by which the lost sheep are brought into the fold.  Romans 1:16 says:  “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”  See, Paul didn’t say that it is the gospel plus something else.

There are two groups of people:  the sheep (Elect) and the goats (the world).  Jesus knows who is who.  We don’t.  He said in the last day that He would separate the sheep from the goats.  So how do the lost sheep become found sheep?  Through the preaching of the gospel.  Why is that important?  Because Romans 10:17 says “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”  In a nutshell, preaching the gospel, period.  Not the gospel plus something else.

The problem with many outreach programs and offering entertainment for the express purpose of drawing people in is, you end up with worldly “church” members.  And that’s all they are.  Just names on a church membership roll.  Pastors probably smile and think, “wow, look how big our church is getting” but never think “am I doing enough to tend to the spiritual growth and maturity of the sheep?”  If the sheep aren’t being fed, they end up starving and malnourished and they will leave to find nourishment elsewhere.  When the sheep are fed, THEN will churches find that they are adding to the number in their pews because now their members are better equipped to reach out to their family, friends, and neighbors.  Programs and gimmicks don’t save the lost sheep.  Only preaching the gospel does and if pastors aren’t focused on feeding the sheep, the sheep will not be equipped to be the “fishers of men” that Jesus calls them to be.



The Gospel, Not Politics.


What I have noticed over that past 2 or 3 decades is that many in Christianity are looking to our government to be our pastor.  Christians want Christian politicians up in office to help make the laws of our country, which is fine!  I’d like true Christian government leaders myself.  But, we cannot legislate morality.  I don’t care how many laws we put on the books, there will be some people who will not obey those laws.  We have laws forbidding murder, but people still kill everyday.  We have laws forbidding robbery and burglary, but everyday someone will take something that doesn’t belong to them because they want it for themselves.  We have laws forbidding driving over the speed limit, but most, not all, will drive over the speed limit even when they see that sign “Speed Limit 55”  or whatever it may be for that particular road.  “So what if that sign says the speed limit is 60 mph.  I want to drive 75 mph.”.  There are laws forbidding drunken or impaired driving, but people still drive intoxicated.  And the reason being is that people are rebellious.  All of us are.  We want to do what WE want to do without anyone getting in our way. 

This past senate election was a doozy!  I was so sick of the ads to the point I was muting my TV every time one came on.  But, what I am most disgusted with is, instead of the pastors of the churches standing firm in preaching the true gospel from their pulpits, they want to put leaders in our government who will make laws telling us all how we are supposed to live.  But as I pointed out in the first paragraph, written laws cannot make ANYONE do what’s right.  The law can only TELL us what is wrong but it can’t MAKE us do it.

I know people are upset with the results, but we have until the next election to find someone who has the character and integrity to get this newly elected official out of office.  But, until then, stop looking to the government to be our national conscience and our pastor.  If you want to see real change in our world, it’s going to have to come from each individual person who calls themselves a Christian.  Some of you are old enough to remember the song by Michael Jackson called, “Man In The Mirror”.  Here are the lyrics to the chorus:

I’m starting with the man in the mirror.
I’m asking him to change his ways.
And no message could’ve been any clearer:
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and make that change.

Church, if we want to see a positive change of direction in our country, we have to do the work ourselves!!  Not rely on governmental laws to do it.  It requires treating people, no matter who they are or how they live their lives, with dignity and respect, not contempt, because one thing’s for sure……just because we have been given grace and forgiveness, doesn’t mean we’re without sin.  In Philippians 2:3 it says:

“Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.”

Some may say, “But what about those who hate us??”  Well, don’t be surprised that they hate us.  Jesus said that we would be hated because of Him but it also says in Proverbs 25:22 and in Romans 12:20:

“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”

The Bible even says we are to pray for our enemies and do good to those who hate us and despitefully use us.  Yeah, I know that’s hard to do, but Jesus never said being His follower would be easy.  We ARE hated.  But we should be hated for the good we do, not because we are arrogant or because we act holier-than-thou.  Our mission while on this earth is to show Christ to the world and to give the gospel to the world.  People’s hearts won’t change through making laws.  Hearts and lives are changed through the gospel.  The TRUE gospel.  Not that sugary sweet, peppy stuff that’s so prevalent today.  If you want to see positive change in our country, it’s going to have to be carried out by US, not by our government officials.  Stop looking to them because from what I’ve seen in the past few years is that they have their own interests in mind, not ours.

Conceived, Not Born, In December.

So, many people have stated that no one can REALLY know when Jesus was born, and that is true.  No one can pinpoint the exact date that Jesus’ birth took place.  But we can pretty much pinpoint the month in which he was born.  In doing some study and research and listening to my pastor and a few others, it’s easy to see that Jesus was NOT born in December, but was most likely CONCEIVED in December.  We can figure this out by going back to the Bible when it talks about Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, and when he performed his priestly duties before John was conceived.

Luke 1 says that Zechariah was of the priestly division of Abijah.  The priests were divided up into 24 separate divisions.  Zechariah’s priestly course was carried out the first time sometime around mid-late June (  Each course ran twice a year from one Sabbath to the next (8 days).  We know that it was during his time of temple service that he was visited by the Angel Gabriel who told him his wife would bear them a son.  Of course, we also know that Zechariah did not believe this news and was struck mute.  After Zechariah returns home, he and Elizabeth conceive their son, John.  So, this takes place around mid-late June.  Fast forward six months and now we’re in December, possibly at or near the Festival of Lights (Hanukkah) and Mary is visited by this same angel who tells her that she, too, will bear a son and that her cousin, Elizabeth, is in her sixth month of her pregnancy.  Now, Mary leaves and goes to visit Elizabeth and stays with her for her final three months.  This will put John being born in mid March-early April.  Since we know that John is six months older than Jesus, we can safely say that Jesus was born in mid September-early October.  More than likely mid-late September because we read that there were shepherds in the fields on the day/night that Jesus was born and if Jesus were born in December, shepherds would NOT be in the fields.  It would be too cold for them.

It just so interesting to study and research this stuff because this is not anything mainline pastors will break down and teach from their pulpits.  Not sure why unless they don’t see the importance of it.  They go with the man-made, Roman Catholic tradition of celebrating Christ’s birth in December.  It’s study and research like this that makes me want to dig deeper and learn more because it’s all these “little things” (like when Zechariah performed his priestly duties) that changes the whole narrative on Christ’s birth.



John 6:65

And He said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”  John 6:65.

Imagine going to the White House, or maybe Buckingham Palace, and you want to go inside to see what it looks like and to meet the President or The Queen of England.  Imagine taking it upon yourself to TRY walking through the front gate.  How far do you think you’ll get?  Not very far!  If you’re at the White House, you’d have armed police/security on top of you in no time.  If you’re at Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s Royal Guard stands in front of the entrance to the Royal Palace grounds and would prevent you from going any further.  No matter how much you plead or beg, you’re not getting in to either of those places without the proper permission to do so.  Now, imagine you do have permission.  The White House security nor the Palace Guard will just take your word for it.  I imagine that a representative of the President or Queen would have your name written down on a special form letting security know that you have been granted permission to come inside (with proper ID, of course).

Both Revelation 13:8 and Revelation 17:8 talk about the Lamb’s Book of Life and those whose names were NOT written in it BEFORE the foundation of the world.  Those whose names WERE in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world are those who were chosen to be saved.  Ephesians 1:4 says that we (Christians) were chosen “in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him…”.  I believe the Lamb’s Book of Life is like that special form with our names on it granting us access into the Kingdom.  But how do we get that access?

I believe it is through the work of the Holy Spirit.  God sent His Holy Spirit to draw us to Himself.  The Holy Spirit opens our spiritual eyes and illuminates our minds giving us comprehension to understand the gospel so that when the gospel is preached, we respond to it.

Many people claim to be Christians.  Many think just because their names are on a church membership roll, that makes them a Christian.  Some think that showing up to church on Christmas and Resurrection Sunday every year is all that’s required.  Others think that just mere intellectual assent to God’s existence is all they need.  That’s like saying we know WHO the President is, but the President has no clue who we are.  We may see him on the TV on a daily basis and someone will mention his name and we say, “Oh yeah, I know who he is.”  But, mention to the President who I am and he’ll say, “Sorry, I don’t know who that is.”  There will be many people who will come before God thinking they’ll be able to waltz right in and have a seat at the table.  But, their names were not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world.  They’ll say, “But I know who you are because I heard about you in church when I was a child,” or “I know who you are because I heard a preacher on TV talk about you.”  But they will only hear, “Depart from me for I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23).  Why?  Because their name was not in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Just as no one can take it upon themselves to walk into the White House or Buckingham Palace unannounced and without the President and Queen granting them entry, no one will be able to come to Jesus and enter into Heaven unless God has granted them the ability to do so.

World Acting Like The World

Something I’ve learned over the years is that many Christians can be pretty haughty.  They are quick to point out the sins of the world as if they haven’t sinned themselves, but if every single one of those Christians were to have their inner thoughts played out on a jumbo screen for everyone to see, they would have to hide in shame.  I know I would.

Christians shouldn’t be shocked at how the world acts.  They are only acting according to their nature.  I’ve seen Christians berate non-Christians for acting ungodly.  Ungodly people are only acting according to their nature.  They don’t have it in their nature to act godly.  That’s like telling a lion to not hunt down and eat an antelope.  It’s in their nature to do so.

Many times when I watch Christian pastors and lay people on TV I cringe at some of the things they say about how we need more laws to curb the “sin” in our country.  We cannot legislate morality.  I don’t care how many laws you make, not everyone will obey them.  How many Christians go the speed limit every…single…time they drive a car?  I know I don’t!!  If speed laws don’t work, how can they expect other laws to work?  How many people still murder despite there being a law on the books that states it’s against the law to kill someone?  How many teenagers still gain access to alcohol and cigarettes even though there’s laws against them being able to purchase them?  Laws can’t make people act right.  Only when there’s been a spiritual change in someone can we expect them to live godly lives.

Telling a lost person to “act” better doesn’t get them saved.  We can act high and mighty and criticize them for their behavior, but we forget that we still sin ourselves.  Christians have forgotten that salvation is of grace, not morality.  It’s a gift given to us freely, not something we earn by doing good deeds.  So, if we ever find ourselves getting up on that high horse that we should just shoot and put out of it’s misery, we need to think about the sins we’re guilty of.  Every lustful thought, every unkind word we speak or unkind thought we think about another person, and every prideful word, deed, or thought we may have, are still sins and the only difference between us and those who are lost is that we have been given grace and forgiveness for those sins.  It doesn’t make us better than anyone else.  It should make us humble knowing that we did nothing to deserve that grace, not prideful and arrogant in how we treat those who aren’t Christian.  God didn’t command us to be their judge and their conscience.  He commanded us to love them.  Sometimes we may have to give some “tough love” and they may not like that, but through that love, we are to point them to Christ.

Jeremiah 29:11

Once again, I saw someone who took Jeremiah 29:11 out of context, so I thought I would post it here within the context in which God spoke those words:

 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[b] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”  Jeremiah 29:10-14.

These words were spoken by God to the prophet, Jeremiah, who then wrote them down in a letter to be delivered to the exiles who were in Babylonian captivity through the sovereign providence of God.  King Zedekiah, who was appointed by Nebuchadnezzar to be his representative in Judah, decided to turn and rebel against Nebuchadnezzar and in turn, Nebuchadnezzar seized Jerusalem and took many Israelites into captivity.  This was God’s judgment upon Israel for their idolatry and rebellion against Him.  They would be held captive for 70 years, but then He would fulfill the promise He made to them that He would visit them after those 70 years and would return them to their homeland and restore to them all they had lost.  That was God’s plan for Israel and it was prophesied in earlier Old Testament writings.

In the original Hebrew, the verse reads, “plans for peace, not of evil.”  The Hebrew word for “peace”, of course, is Shalom.  The main definition of “Shalom” is  “completeness, soundness, welfare, and peace.”  Some translations use “peace”, some use the term “welfare” and others use the term “prosper”.  Now, if we think in American terms, to “prosper” means to have financial and material wealth.  Another definition is to “flourish physically; grow strong and healthy”.  I believe we need to use the original term “peace” so that we can get the true meaning of the verse.  So, is this peace referring to peace from war?  All you have to do is look at the news every day and see that’s not the case.  Or does this have a spiritual meaning in that they will have peace with God?  I say it’s a spiritual peace because we know there hasn’t been much earthly peace in Israel since they became a nation.  The peace Christ gives is peace between man and God, not between nations.

What about Israel’s “future and a hope”?  God made a covenant with Abraham that was made up of three parts:  (1) The promise of land; (2) The promise of descendants; and (3) The promise of blessing and redemption.  I believe in Jeremiah 29:10-11, we see God keeping all three promises.  First, the promise of the land.  He gave the Israelites the Promised Land and He was not going to take that away.  He was going to send them back after the 70 years was up.  Their future and their hope was in the promise of descendants and the promise of blessings and redemption because it was through Abraham’s descendants (future) that the Messiah (Blessing and Hope) would come and bring redemption not only to Israel, but to the Gentiles.

So, while we believe that God has a plan for each of our lives, this particular verse is speaking directly to Israel who was in captivity and God was reminding them that He had not forgotten them.  He would still keep His covenant and give their land back to them and they still had a future and a hope, but at that particular moment, they would have to remain in captivity as judgment for turning their backs on Him.