Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Clouds, like Aristophanes never saw.

I couldn’t believe my eyes.

I was looking out the window at the gathering storm clouds when I saw it.

A cloud shaped like Pegasus. Unmistakable. Fantastic!

He was flying right along: legs pulled up in a gallop, head rearing up, mane flowing out behind and wings spread out from his back like a chicken.

Maybe it is a chicken. Well, it is now.

Scratching along in that great barnyard in the sky like a hotdog.

Well, it’s a hotdog now.

Now it’s gone.

And I’m hungry.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Complex matters (with a confession and input from a (former) pagan)

I find myself standing in the midst of very complex matters. God and His Word remain in everlasting steadfastness, while the sands of change shift all about me covering and uncovering those Ozymandian reminders of human attempts to improve on what God has already done. These days are much akin to standing on the beach just within the water’s reach, the sand moves beneath one’s feet. Not much later one find himself ankle deep (or deeper!) in mud, left to fight the suction in pulling away to return to the bedrock.

Considering the gravity of God’s own concern for His own glory, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd commandments weigh heavy throughout scripture. God wants man to live and move and have his being within the confines of who He is: He alone is God, man dare not make up a God to suit himself and God must be accurately represented through man’s dealings (as His vice-regent) to the world through word and work. The apostle Paul develops this theme throughout his letters, instructing his contacts to make with absolute certainty they get their thinking of God correct (Acts 17), the preaching of Jesus correct (2 Corinthians 11:4), and the message of the gospel correct (Galatians1:1-9ff). Misrepresenting God is not at all to be taken lightly.

My darling wife, in her insightful and succinct way, told me plainly of her amazement of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. She saw how Paul had to remain not only steadfast but encouraging as false teachers were seeking to undermine the authority through which he spoke, the message he gave and they received and the matters of biblical living these people had to wrestle with. False teaching is unacceptable.

Consider this: while one may produce an inventory of credentials for this or that motive, one is simply the person he is today, regardless of his experiences or upbringing. One is accountable with Whom he has to do. Heritage, upbringing and education are important features, but in the deepest sense they are irrelevant. Those objective influences lend to the shaping of a person, but the tool most often does not remain attached to the project, as it were. Character is shaped and developed by intellect and conscience; however, conscience is most often ruled out by intellect and individual falls back on his credentials in his search for identity. The apostle Paul has an impressive list of credentials; however, there is a clear demarcation where Paul says, “I stop here, God started there and His work continues.” (Galatians 1:10ff).

This is where one must do a self-exam to discover how much of one’s life has to do with people-pleasing over against God-pleasing. What is your motivation in life, in work, in ministry? Simply put, if we please people more than God, we break the 1st commandment, loving other things more than God who should always have first place. And this is where it gets hard because the world cannot understand this. Yes, we have to work and have relationships with people on multiple levels, but we are never, Never, NEVER to supplant people with God. This breaks the 2nd commandment.

“A fearless disregard of . . . smiles or frowns, character or consequences, opposition or approbation, pay or popularity, will always distinguish the true servant of Christ from self-seeking, men-pleasing ministers.” J.C. Philpot. “For we speak as messengers who have been approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel. Our purpose is to please God, not men. He is the one who examines the motives of our hearts.” 1 Thes. 2:4

A.W. Tozer wrote, “This is one of the marks of our modern time--that many are guilty ofmerely ‘nibbling’ at the truth of the Christian gospel. I wonder if you realize that in many ways the preaching of the Word of God is being pulled down to the level of the ignorant and spiritually obtuse; that we must tell stories and jokes and entertain and amuse in order to have a few people in the audience? We do these things that we may have some reputation and that there may be money in the treasury to meet the church bills . . . . In many churches Christianity has been watered down until the solution is so weak that if it were poison it would not hurt anyone, and if it were medicine it would not cure anyone!”[i]

I confess: I once changed the method of presenting the gospel and perhaps even its message. I did it out of fear, and not trusting God to empower me with His Spirit. I’ve gone almost 11 years without witnessing to a single soul (that I can think of). I’ve been guilty of “lifestyle evangelism” and never once has anyone every approached me to ask what they needed to do to be saved. Unless they knew I was “in ministry” did an individual ever bring up matters of spirituality. I’ve thought more about myself and my time and my circumstances than about integrity of God’s message and those who need to hear it. The fact of the matter is: Man’s condition has never changed and God’s message has never changed (being declared from the beginning). What on earth made me believe that I could make it better? I have my own colossal wreck to step over.

I am reminded of Francis Schaffer giving an illustration of the history of truth. He stood on the seashore and drew a circle, declaring on behalf of a specific period of time, “This is truth”. He then drew another circle beside it, representing another period of time and after crossing out the first one, he declared the second circle to be truth. And so on.

Up until the 19th century (roughly), the gospel was declared in a specific way that has proved to be most effective, holding to biblical roots. Since then a great shift occurred, away from God-centered and Christ-honoring preaching to user-friendly, man-centered meetings. The souls of men have been lost to the gain of their worldly needs. "Contemporary ministry philosophy is infatuated with worldly standards of success. The churches most often judged “successful” are the large, rich megachurches with multimillion-dollar facilities, spas, handball courts, day-care centers, and so on. But not one church in a thousand falls into that category. That means one of two things: most churches are pitiful failures, or the gauge of success in ministry must be something besides material prosperity.”[ii]

What turns the world upside down is the preaching of the gospel, not “grow and divide” marketing strategies. What turns the world upside down is using the law to point out sin and man’s need to repent to God, not recasting the message into palatable forms. Jesus is the corner stone: a stumbling block to some and a crusher on whom he falls to others.

The apostle Paul gives us his background in Galatians not for the purpose of impressing his readers that they may take his word for what he says about the gospel. No, his authority came through Christ Jesus who was raised from the dead. Paul gives us his credentials because he was an enemy of the gospel, doing what pleased men, as he held onto his credentials. But look at this golden nugget:

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer [broke the 3rd commandment] and a persecutor and a violent aggressor [broke the 6th commandment]. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief [broke the 1st and 2nd commandment]; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.”[iii] Paul counted all things lost for Christ Jesus.

There is no strength in changing ministry to make it suitable for the ungodly. The Christian has no business taking counsel from the ungodly (Ps. 1) or else the gospel will be changed. I’ve sat in two meetings the last couple of years led by two different people who have absolutely nothing to do with each other and they both said the same thing: give the unbeliever what he wants—don’t talk theology and DON’T share the gospel. Well, we might as well pack it all up and go home then.

What is commonly missed is that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Let’s put it another way: God gave the covenant and blessing BEFORE circumcision was enacted. Paul’s ministry to the Jews was offensive because they refused to accept the authority which supplied his message. The Judiazers were putting their trust in their heritage and emphasized the necessity of keeping the law—they preached another gospel. Today’s techniques are constructed to avoid offense and confrontation—preaching another gospel. When I hear those arguments about “we can’t offend anyone,” I ask, “Why not?” The scripture is full of incidents of law to the proud and grace to the humble.

What must one do to be saved? Ask Jesus into your heart? Where did Jesus ever teach this? When did He ever tell anyone they had a God-shaped hole in their heart that only He could fill? He used words like, “repent,” and “you must be born again.”

I know a guy, who after previous confessions of faith and decisions for Christ, has finally repented and asked God by faith to save him and make of him a new creation. He made a number of Christians mad because they believed he was saved already, though he told them plainly that despite his “decisions” and “confessions” he did not believe the God of the Bible and he did not know what sin was. He told me specifically, “I did what my Christian friends told me to do . . . I went to church, but I did not know why I was there or what I was to do. I just did it and went home and had a beer and nothing changed.” People brought him in and, like getting into a jacuzzi, patted him on the back and said, “now doesn’t that feel better?” They never heard him say, “No, it does not.”

A young girl who is deep in Goth has been coming to church off and on for a while. She came regularly at first and was really freaked out at the fellowship and how people related to one another. Someone touched her on the arm in sincerity and she retreated to a dark corner, shivering, because of meaningful touch she had not felt in a very long time (if at all). Recently she began showing up at church again and this time, she had a check in her pocket from her mother. She did not know what it was for, but felt that maybe she had to “pay” someone for attending church; or, since the church always talks about money, was doing her duty by bringing the check.

My first friend has confessed his sin and repented and has come to true faith in Christ Jesus. The girl does not know what sin is . . . yet. Do you think she is making some of the same observations my first friend is . . . unless someone tells her differently?

************

[i] Tozer, A.W. I Talk Back to the Devil. Pp. 30-31
[ii]MacArthur, John. Ashamed of the Gospel: When the Church Becomes Like the World. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1993.
[iii]New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, 1 Ti 1:12. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Making sense of what I’ll never know

Of all our children, our youngest daughter is the philosopher. (We also have one Bohemian, one hippy, one extremist, one artist, and one realist. If you are counting and know how many children we have, well, you get to figure out whose who.) She can really think up the questions, too, and when she gets started, you'd better not have any plans for the rest of the evening. Her method is to think things through from start to finish, even if it takes all night (as she does not like to start her thoughts over again). This means the questions take on deeper nuances.

Recently she has been entertaining the subject of knowledge and knowability in heaven. Of course it began with the question, “will we know everything in heaven.” She is wise to hypothesize in her processes, because she knows I will ask, “what do you think?” or, “what does the Bible say?”

For some reason, her question got stuck in my brain and I found myself entertaining the thought on a deeper level as well. Will we know everything in heaven?

I don’t think so.

On one hand, since our bodies will be resurrected and restored, I believe we will still have a brain with its limited capacity; however, I believe we will process on a much different level. I believe that instead of knowing everything, “everything” will suddenly make sense and this will be true for all beings in heaven or hell. Why? Because we will see HIM face to face. And since His glory is the culmination of all things, all things will be seen as through a glass. A consideration of Lazarus and the Rich Man reinforces my understanding here. Also, Rev. 18:20 speaks of the rejoicing of the saints (among others) when God pronounces judgment on the wicked. Toss that one around for a while.

On the other hand, if we were able to know everything, wouldn’t that assume that we take on an attribute that is reserved for God alone, omniscience?

Now, we sing this song “Here I Am to Worship” and what I am about to say may seem critical. Please think this through with me. In the bridge of the song, we sing, “And I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross.”

Well, this thought has joined in the mighty chorus of thoughts already in process: what does “I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross” mean?

Does it mean that I will never (that’s an absolute statement, “never”) know, that is, have zero comprehension of knowledge to understand what Christ did by taking my sin upon himself, to die on the cross on my behalf? Like going out to eat and never seeing how much the tab is when someone else picks it up?

If this is what it means, then how can I know Christ? Christ Himself is what it cost to put my sins on the cross. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Ro. 8:32). If understanding is part of “all things,” I will accept Him because He makes everything make sense. He’s got it all figured out in His head, and I just need to live by faith in what He knows already.

Does it mean that I personally have no experience of loss in my life that could possibly equate to God’s experience in giving up in sending His Son to die by taking my sins upon himself?

This is more plausible because I have nothing in my life to equate that level of giving up on behalf of the entire world.

“I’ll never know” is a tough phrase. It’s too ambiguous for such a definite act of God. I do know that some day, we will know when we see Him and it all will make sense. And when we see Him, our knees will bow and tongues will confess Jesus as Lord to the glory of God the Father. And it will all make sense.

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” (Col 2:13-14)

Monday, August 21, 2006

8 reasons why I don't share my faith.


Get this video and more at MySpace.com

Way of the Master Basic Training.
First Baptist Church, Columbia. Sundays at 5:05 p.m.
Oakwood Baptist Church. Tuesday night, 6:00 p.m. starting August 29.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Golden Nuggets from yesterday's Spurgeon reading

"This sickness is not unto death." John 11:4

From our Lord’s words we learn that there is a limit to sickness. Here is an "unto" within which its ultimate end is restrained, and beyond which it cannot go. Lazarus might pass through death, but death was not to be the ultimatum of his sickness. In all sickness, the Lord saith to the waves of pain, "Hitherto shall ye go, but no further." His fixed purpose is not the destruction, but the instruction of his people. Wisdom hangs up the thermometer at the furnace mouth, and regulates the heat.

1. The limit is encouragingly comprehensive. The God of providence has limited the time, manner, intensity, repetition, and effects of all our sicknesses; each throb is decreed, each sleepless hour predestinated, each relapse ordained, each depression of spirit foreknown, and each sanctifying result eternally purposed. Nothing great or small escapes the ordaining hand of him who numbers the hairs of our head.

2. This limit is wisely adjusted to our strength, to the end designed, and to the grace apportioned. Affliction comes not at haphazard-the weight of every stroke of the rod is accurately measured. He who made no mistakes in balancing the clouds and meting out the heavens, commits no errors in measuring out the ingredients which compose the medicine of souls. We cannot suffer too much nor be relieved too late.

3. The limit is tenderly appointed. The knife of the heavenly Surgeon never cuts deeper than is absolutely necessary. "He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." A mother’s heart cries, "Spare my child"; but no mother is more compassionate than our gracious God. When we consider how hard-mouthed we are, it is a wonder that we are not driven with a sharper bit. The thought is full of consolation, that he who has fixed the bounds of our habitation, has also fixed the bounds of our tribulation.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Carnal Christianity

Maybe Elvis was Just a Carnal Christian. From Way of the Master Radio.

Here is Reisinger's article, mentioned in the above-mentioned.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Shaken and Stirred.

Last year I was shaken to the roots when I heard that Ken Blanchard was going to be a speaker at the Willow Creek Leadership conference. Ken sits on the Board of Advisors of The Hoffman Institute, an organization that promotes personal transformational change for individuals. Though “The Hoffman Process” or the “Quadrinity Process” is not described in great detail, we can certainly get an idea of what kind of help Blanchard promotes by a survey of those who sit on the board:

  • Joan Borysenko, PhD: international authority on mind/body medicine;
  • Margot Anand: practitioner and teacher of Sexual Magic and Ecstasy;
  • Ward Ashman, PhD: A licensed psychologist and management consultant specializing in personal and organizational evolution;
  • Anat Baniel, internationally known master practitioner and Training Teacher of the Feldenkrais method for movement, mind/body integration and physical healing;
  • David Bork: a pioneer in the field of counseling family owned businesses for over 25 years;
  • Sonia Choquette, PhD: A third generation psychic and spiritual counselor, now concentrating on helping others develop their own psychic powers.
  • Ken Druck, Ph.D.: a noted psychologist, business consultant, and author of Secrets Men Keep.
  • William McLeod, M.D.: Private psychiatrist.
  • Ron Meister, Ph.D.: A clinical and forensic psychologist.
  • Rev. Hal Milton, M.S.: a Unity Minister who serves the Association of Unity Churches and other ministries as a Process Facilitator in conflict resolution. He has been trained extensively in body therapies, and movement education. He is married to the Reverend Sonya Milton, the spiritual leader of Unity in the Napa Valley.
  • Claudio Naranjo, M.D.: A leading international authority on the enneagram and has authored numerous important books on consciousness.
  • Sandra Parker, M.S.W. A therapist in private practice, Sandra is Co-Founder of the Center for Personal Growth, which is dedicated to alternative styles of healing (mind, body, emotions and spirit) and deep-process work for groups and individuals in a therapeutic setting.
  • Norman Paul, M.D.: Associate Clinical Professor in Neurology, Boston University School of Medicine and Lecturer in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Dr. Paul was one of the innovators of a family systems perspective in psychiatry. Michael Ray, Ph.D.: Professor of Creativity and Innovation at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Widely known for his research on creativity.
  • Kathi Rose-Noble, L.C.S.W.: a licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice specializing in addictions/codependency, communication and relationship issues.
  • Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi: a national leader in the Jewish Renewal Movement.
  • Tony Schwartz: President, LGE Performance Systems, which helps corporate executives build capacity physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
  • Anne Simon-Wolf, M.S.S.W.: Dean of Faculty of the Hoffman Institute, has been a psychotherapist in private practice since 1980, specializing in early childhood trauma using a family systems model. Anne has a strong interest in theater as a healing art form and often coaches actors, directors, and writers.
  • Eileen Sullivan-Leggett, Ph.D.: A psychotherapist in private practice, Eileen specializes in treatment of adults suffering from early childhood abuse and trauma.
  • Siavash Tabrizy, M.F.T., Ph.D.: Psychologist.
  • Barry Taylor, N.D: A Naturopathic physician (nutrition and psycho/spiritual healing).
  • Eric Utne: Founder and former publisher of the Utne Reader.
  • Sirah Vettese, Ph.D.: a skilled counselor, seminar leader and teacher of spirituality and has co-produced a number of best-selling audio programs including Deep Relaxation, Stop Smoking, Lose Weight and Healing Anxiety with Herbs.
  • Dr. Brenda Wade: Essence columnist, clinical psychologist and published author.
  • Joseph Wu, M.D.: Professor of Psychiatry at University of the California at Irvine.

You can see why I was shaken. This is outright paganism.

This year’s Willow Creek Leadership Conference features Jim Collins, author and researcher. Supporter and practioner of Eastern Religion.

In his book, "The Highest Goal" (pub. 2004), Michael Ray, a former teacher of Jim Collins, reveals the secrets of creativity, meaningful goals, power sources and guidance. He defines “the Highest Goal” as a revolutionary experience of potential and energy that reveals the universe. Talk to my Pagan and Wiccan friends about this—they know exactly what this is all about. Anyway, Ray basically says that if you are living your life for the highest goal, you will have accessed this great power and will utilize it to:

  1. Go beyond passion and success;
  2. Travel your own path;
  3. Live with the highest goal;
  4. Find true prosperity;
  5. Turn fears into breakthroughs;
  6. Relate from your heart (seeing self first, then others);
  7. Experience synergy in every moment;
  8. Be a generative leader.

Hogwash. The Bible teaches:

  1. Seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness;
  2. Take up the cross and follow Jesus;
  3. Love the Lord your God with heart, mind and strength;
  4. Gain the world and lose your soul;
  5. Fear God;
  6. The heart is deceitful and put others before yourself;
  7. Do not lean on your own understanding, but acknowledge God for the straight path;
  8. Meditate on His Word and be firmly planted, giving fruit in season.

Why do I bring Ray into this? Because Collins wrote the Forward to Ray’s book! Here is a portion of what Collins wrote:

“What I most value about this book is its personal orientation. . . . It is a deeply subversive work; if you follow it’s teachings to their logical conclusion, you will almost certainly [?] make significant changes in how you orient your life. Michael and Rochelle challenged me in my mid-twenties to forgo the structures of a traditional path, and to carve my own unique path in life. Their prodding set me on a path to find a happy, productive intersection between passion (what I love to do), genetic encoding (what I was put here on this earth to do) and economics (what I can make a living at). I discovered, in other words, the path to my highest goal.”

When I read Collin’s book “Good to Great”, which concluded with a model based on the Yin-Yang symbol, I questioned the motive of the author and re-thought the direction of the book. I was instructed that this was “only a model.” Now I am convinced his intentions were more than that after reading comments like the above-mentioned.

This is why I do not attend or support Willow Creek or Willow Creek Conferences. I do not want to be taught by pagans. The unbelieving world has nothing to teach me about leadership, especially when it looks like this.

I get stirred to EVANGELISM and the things that are pleasing to God.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Kudzu

In central Georgia and other parts of the South (like where I live), a common sight is trees completely covered with kudzu vines. Often these lush-green leafy vines completely hide the tree and even small houses. Although imported to be a ground cover to combat erosion, these vines are now a curse. Covering acres and acres of excellent timber and farmland, they slowly destroy other vegetation. And the kudzu begins as a little seed but is almost impossible to eliminate, once it sets its woody roots.


Spiritual and moral kudzu vines choke our world and hide our true identity. They begin as insignificant seeds of thought and grow into massive systems of destructive thinking, completely distorting and hiding our real nature, even from ourselves. In a parable Jesus warned about weeds that choke the true plant and keep it from bearing fruit. The kudzu vine is not really the tree whose exterior it covers. It is a foreign element so attached to the tree that one could easily mistake it for the tree itself.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Such vehement intolerance!

"The doctrine of the death of Christ and its significance was not St. Paul’s theology, it was his gospel. It was all he had to preach. It is with it in his mind — immediately after the mention of our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present world with all its evils — that he says to the Galatians:

'Though we or an angel from heaven preach a gospel to you contravening the gospel which we preached, let him be anathema. As we have said before, so say I now again, if any man is preaching a gospel to you contravening what you received, let him be anathema’ (Galatians 1: 4, 8 f.).

I cannot agree with those who disparage this, or affect to forgive it, as the unhappy beginning
of religious intolerance. Neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament has any conception of a religion without this intolerance. The first commandment is, ‘Thou shalt have none other gods beside Me,’ and that is the foundation of the true religion. As there is only one God, so there can be only one gospel. If God has really done something in Christ on which the salvation of the world depends, and if He has made it known, then it is a Christian duty to be intolerant of everything which ignores, denies, or explains it away. The man who perverts it is the worst enemy of God and men; and it is not bad temper or narrow mindedness in St. Paul which explains this vehement language, it is the jealousy of God which has kindled in a soul redeemed by the death of Christ a corresponding jealousy for the Savior."

From Denney's The Death of Christ.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Third Commandment

Blasphemy is the use of action and language in terms of supreme insult that reveals the true heart of a person. Primarily, blasphemy concerns one’s attitude toward God. Specifically to blaspheme means to blame God. Blasphemy clearly communicates one’s lack of reverence and in that communication the blasphemer exalts himself above another, even implying that he himself has attributes of diety. This is why blasphemy is wrong. It is the next domino to fall after breaking the 1st commandment (“You shall have no other gods before Me”) and the 2nd commandment (“You shall not make for yourself graven images and bow down to worship them”).

G. Campbell Morgan teaches his readers that taking the name of the Lord in vain is more than simple profanity, the reducing of the name of God and the reputation that name recalls to a mere throw-around word. Morgan shows that where there is blasphemy is also frivolity and hypocrisy.[i] We are accustomed to the concept that one simply does not use the name of God as a common word. Why should a man use words that involve deity? If anyone really is reaching for an explicative, why not use Hitler’s name? What we are not accustomed to is the concept that taking the name of the Lord in vain is more than language. Consider the following passage: “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:22-23)

We will be reminded that “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.” (1 John 3:4). Plainly Jesus is telling sinners to depart. But what lawless deeds are they doing? What sin are they committing? They use the name of God with no intention of personally obeying the God of the name. Sinners are people who are using God’s name to prophesy and cast out demons, even perform miracles yet, are not known by God. They use His name but are not identified by it, only with it.

Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”

Think of it this way: a phrase we so often hear is “God damn you” or something to that effect. This is a horrific statement in that one desires the Almighty to carry out His divine wrath and judgment on the person (or thing) with the most severe eternal consequence for a matter of lesser significance. The problem is first, the one making the imprecation is praying against instead of for another. This is selfish. Second, one is commanding God to do the bidding of the one making the statement post-haste. God is at the beck and call of no-one. Third, no thought is given to the eternal significance of the statement. Scripture plainly states that it is not God’s will that any should perish; therefore, His purpose since the Fall has been to save man, not damn him. If anyone goes to hell it is because of his own choices to reject what God has provided, which is salvation in Christ Jesus!

Some take God too lightly; hence, taking His name in vain. I remember a number of years ago certain movies were newly released that as a young child I wanted to see because they looked entertaining. I remember also my father’s stern teaching that those shows were nothing short of blasphemy because they made God the butt of the joke. God was not George Burns playing to the whims of humanistic atheist John Denver. God is not a cartoon hand of too many Monty Python clips nor is he surrounded by small time custodians as he bumbles through eternity. Jesus did not have a lust for glory. Morgan Freeman got it right either and Jim Carrey couldn’t help.

The one who says, “Lord, Lord” and does not do as He commands is a blasphemer. The one who wears the badge of God (as it were) and goes out misrepresenting Him is a blasphemer.

So what is worse: the blasphemy of those found within the church, or those on the street?
Hear this, O house of Jacob, who are named Israel and who came forth from the loins of Judah, who swear by the name of the Lord and invoke the God of Israel, But not in truth nor in righteousness.” (Is 48:1)

If God is loved supremely, there will be exaltation of nothing or nobody else in God’s face;
If God is loved supremely, the body will act accordingly;
If God is loved supremely, the mouth will speak appropriately;
If God is loved supremely, time is used wisely . . . but that’s another blog.

Someone wrote a little tract called, “Ten Reasons Why I Swear.” [my thoughts are in brackets]

1. It pleases mother so much. [Only because you wouldn’t dare use her name as trash.]
2. It is a fine mark of manliness. [I know some ladies that swear just as strongly . . .]
3. It proves I have self control. [Prove it by stopping it.]
4. It indicates how clearly my mind operates. [And we hear the limited vocabulary contained therein!]
5. It makes my conversation so pleasing to everybody. [God said “Don’t do it”, so your “everybody” left “somebody” out.]
6. It leaves no doubt in anyone's mind as to my good breeding. [But one questions your upbringing.]
7. It impresses people that I have more than ordinary education. [Well, you must have failed a class or slept through some lectures.]
8. It is an unmistakable sign of culture and refinement. [Bacteria has more culture and ethanol has more refinement, my friend.]
9. It makes me a very desirable personality among women and children and in respectable society. [Desirable? You mean “Wanted”, like at the Post Office!]
10. It is my way of honoring God who said, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." [Like using a hammer to drive a screw, right?]

“Swearing is just a habit with me!” Sure. Like beating your wife, robbing banks or poisoning babies.

If we put our ear against the portals of eternity, we may hear the blasphemer who has already passed from this life to his damnation. "O miserable state of intolerable torments, which I must endure! How shall I spend this eternity of pain! It was nothing to me in time to hear others curse and blaspheme--and to join in the infernal dialect myself! And now I am encircled with unceasing blasphemies, from all the legions of demons, from all the millions of miserable sinners, suffering under infinite vengeance! And I mingle in the uproar, and join in the terrible tumult against the throne of God, although dreadfully tortured in my rebellion. Then, curses accented every sentence; now, every sentence is one continued curse! I thought God was altogether such a one as myself--and that He would never remember my swearings, which I never minded, nor call me to account for committing what I made no account of. Damn me! damn me! was always on my tongue--and now I am damned forever! The oaths and curses which I sowed in time, have now sprung up into bitter bewailings, and eternal blasphemings! As I took pleasure in cursing, so it is come unto me--but with inexpressible pain! O eternity, eternity, how long!"

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[i] Morgan, G. Campbell. The Ten Commandments. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1974.

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