Ten Reasons Equally Intelligent People Disagree on Scripture

One of the things that has always bothered me is why do equally intelligent people disagree on biblical interpretation? I see things pretty simply. Scripture is the absolute truth word of God. It is the only thing I know that meets the standards required to be absolute truth.

For something to be absolute truth is must meet three criteria. It must be universal, which means it is right for all people, all times, and all places. It must be constant, which means it is unchanging. And finally, it must be objective, which means it is not based on a person’s feelings, circumstances, etc.

There are ten basic reasons why I think equally intelligent people disagree on biblical interpretation.

First, there can be a failure to approach Scripture with the proper respect. Seeing scripture as our sole authority of faith (what we believe) and practice (what we do) is proper respect, based on Scripture’s testimony of itself. When someone does not treat Scripture this way, it violates all rules of accurate biblical interpretation.

Second, is a lack of objectivity. Scripture is not subjective to our whims, opinions, and preferences. Scripture stands alone as absolute truth. We must approach Scripture objectively.

Third, some people are merely searching for proof, not for truth. They are looking for one verse that seems to agree with them, instead of looking at the all Scripture says regarding a subject. I have been known to ask people who want to debate with me, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to discover the truth?” Never be afraid of discovering truth, even if it disagrees with your preset opinion.

Fourth, they fail to equally consider all Scripture says concerning a specific subject. It is easy to over-value a verse that says something that agrees with you, and then to under-value the verse that disagrees with you.

Fifth, some people just blindly accept another person’s opinions and research. They don’t study for themselves, they just read a commentary or book, and accept it without doing their own homework.

Sixth, filtering Scripture through self-issues, rather than filtering self-issues through Scripture. Some people want to filter Scripture through themselves, their experiences, their opinions, their woundedness, etc, instead of filtering themselves through Scripture.

Seventh, over-analyzing, over-complicating, and over-spiritualizing a simple message. Let me boil the entire bible down to four words; “Love God, Love people”. Keep it simple.

Eighth, expecting the flesh to understand what only the Holy Spirit can teach. Some things just don’t make sense to you minds or our flesh. Don’t try to explain God. He is beyond explanation. His ways and thoughts are higher than our ways and thoughts.

Ninth, some people read “into” or “out of” Scripture. They try to justify their preset opinion by removing or adding to Scripture something that fits their agenda.

And lastly, some people fail to understand the context. The context of a verse matters, we can’t just take a verse out of its context, and use it prove our point.


Tragedy. Evil. Love Trumps Hate.

A few days ago, singer Christina Grimmie, of Voice-fame, was gunned down as she signed autographs after a concert. Then, today, Sunday, June 12th, a gunman, shouting “Allah Akbar”, murdered at least 50 people, and injured another 53 people in a packed Orlando Florida nightclub during a nearly four-hour siege from 2:00-6:00am Sunday morning, before the SWAT teams stormed the building and killed him. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack calling the gunman an “Islamic State fighter”.

One event is a senseless murder, and the other is another, equally senseless, radical Islamic terrorist attack. It was the worst terrorist attack on our soil since 9/11. Whether it’s a national-level tragedy like today, or the personal, more private tragedies that happen every single day, evil knows no boundaries. We live in a broken, dark, depraved world.

I cannot imagine the level of evil required to walk into a packed nightclub, or to a signature line, or a school, or an office party, etc and just start shooting. But I do know evil obviously exist and is intent on destruction.  I have lived in a small town (Carlinville, IL) for the past 16 years.  In that time, even our small, safe, friendly town has seen tremendous tragedy.  Beyond the young people who have died WAY to young due to car accidents, suicide,  drugs, drunk driving, or disease, we have had shootings and murder here even.  Sheer evil exist in every corner of the world, even in small hometowns where “nothing ever happens here”.

In Revelation 12:10-12 the story is told of a war in heaven, and Satan being thrown out.  It says Satan was “hurled to earth, and angels with him”.  God’s commentary was, “The accuser (Satan) has been hurled down. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”

Evil will not end.  More laws, including gun control ones, do not change the human heart. Only Christ can change the human heart.  Hope is found in Christ, and in Christ alone.  Everything else will always come up short.

The best response you can make to rampant evil expressing its ugly reality is to start chasing after the heart of God full speed!  Some of you who are reading this post feel the Spirit of God stirring you right now.  You know you need to make a decision about living your life a little more intentionally.  You know God is turning your heart toward Him.  He feel him right now.  Turn tragedy into triumph!

Bring your anger, fear, and broken hearts to Him.  He is broken-hearted by what happened today too. In the midst of tragedy and absolute darkness, there is ALWAYS hope in Christ.  That doesn’t mean evil stops or goes away.  It means that the light of Christ is greater than the deepest darkness evil can create.  It doesn’t mean that the pain goes away.  It means that   Love wins!… Hope wins!… Peace wins!… because Jesus has already won!

The best way to overcome evil is to give everything to Christ.  Total, and absolute surrender.  How that passage in Rev 12 says it is “They triumphed over him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”

Take something Satan mean for destruction and let God use it to transform you!



Be a Part of the Solution: Quash the Gossip

Do you know folks who spread rumors without having any knowledge of the real truth? Do you know folks who seem to find pleasure in making stuff up just so they can try to pull someone down, make someone else look bad or to make themselves feel important by knowing some juicy piece of information? Do you know people who try to twist information around to use for their advantage?

Scripture speaks about gossip and those who spread rumors; “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.” (Prov 16:28)  “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.” (Prov 20:19) “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.” (Prov 26:20) Biblically speaking, those who spread gossip will be held accountable by God.

I heard a great illustration of gossip not along ago; “Mildred, the church gossip, and self-appointed monitor of the church’s morals, kept sticking her nose in to other people’s business. Several members did not approve of her extra curricular activities, but feared her enough to maintain their silence. Mildred made a mistake, however, when she accused Frank, a new member, of being an alcoholic after she saw his old pickup parked in front of the town’s only bar one afternoon. She emphatically told Frank (and several others) that everyone seeing it there would know what he was doing.”

“Frank, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment and just turned and walked away. He didn’t explain, defend, or deny… He said nothing. Later that evening, Frank quietly parked his pickup in front of Mildred’s house… Walked home… And left it there all night!!!” You gotta love Frank!

The “rumor mill” of any community only exists because people want to hear gossip. If we all stopped listening to it, and made folks be accountable when they told us information that was untrue the rumor mill would dry up. Most rumors / gossip are made up of mostly lies. If you hold the “lie carriers” accountable for telling you stuff that is not true, they will stop doing it.

Satan is going to stir up as many lies as possible. He is always predictable. He uses the same people over and over again to stir other people with untruths, half truths, as well as misunderstood and misapplied truth. If traced back to the original sources, all gossip could be traced back to a small group of “sources”… everyone else is a “carrier”… but there will be only a few “original sources” that start the rumor mill.

The gossip problem is a spiritual problem. Even those who call themselves “Christ-followers” can be a part of the problem. True Christ-followers need to set the pace by refusing to be a part of the rumor mill. The enemy will always use gossip as a method of control, intimidation, and manipulation.

Be a part of the solution. Let’s confront the rumor mill whenever it rises, especially when it is tearing someone down. Always remember, those who spread gossip TO you will also spread gossip ABOUT you eventually. 


Our Lives will Experience Heat & Drought

“But blessed is the person who trust in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

Jeremiah gives us a wealth of wisdom and encouragement in the two verses above. Blessed, joyful, content, and satisfied is the person who places their trust in God. Think about it for a moment. All worry and anxiety is rooted in distrust of God. We can deny it, but it is still every bit as true.

Scripture tells us to cast all of our fear, worry, and anxiety upon the Lord, but doing that requires trust. Fear, worry, and anxiety rob us of the joy, contentment, satisfaction, and overall blessing God intends to give each of us. God has always proven faithful, yet it is a normal flaw in our flesh to distrust God.

On the other hand, choosing to trust God releases joy, contentment, satisfaction, and the overall blessings of God. Proverbs says that if we trust the Lord fully, He will direct our paths. Jeremiah says that if we consistently choose trust we will be like the tree planted by the ever-flowing stream, regardless of the heat and drought of life, our roots will always be able to reach the life-giving stream.

All of our lives will experience “heat and drought”. Heat represents those times of intense pressure. Drought represents those times of dryness and emptiness. Life is ever changing. We have great days, and we have really hard days. We experience times of stress and pressure that increase our blood pressure and lower our tolerance. We experience extended times of emptiness, where we have expended so much, and nothing seems to be replenishing us.

The great news of the gospel is that regardless of the ups and downs and overall pressure of life, God is always faithful and trustworthy. It we choose to maintain our “rooted-ness’ in Him, we will find an ever flowing stream that will allow us to stay fresh and bear fruit. The heat and the droughts of life will come, but the river of God never ceases to flow to the point of our need.  But we it does require trust.

Our trust is based in our confidence in our unfailing, always faithful God, whose ways we do not always understand, but who nevertheless, is the definition of trustworthy. Complete and absolute trust in God provides the blessings of God you crave. It will give you peace in the raging storms, steadfastness in the howling winds, and calm when the world around you seems to quake. You can trust Him!

In the words of S.M. Lockridge, “He supplies strength for the weak and He’s available for the tempted and the tried. He sympathizes and He sees. He guards and He guides, He heals the sick, He cleansed the Leper, He forgives sinners, He discharges debtors, He delivers the captives, He defends the feeble, He blesses the young, He regards the aged, He rewards the diligent, He beautifies the meek. He’s the key to knowledge, He’s the well spring of wisdom, He’s the doorway of deliverance, He’s the pathway of peace, He’s the roadway of righteousness, He’s the highway of holiness, He’s the gateway to glory! You can trust Him! He’s the master of the mighty, He’s the captain of the conquers, He’s the head of heroes, He’s the leader of legislators, He’s the overseer of the over-comers, He’s the governor of the governors, He’s the prince of princes, He’s the king of kings, He’s the Lord of lords! You can trust Him!”


Who is Jesus to You?

Christ-following, at is most basic level, is simply coming to grips with God truly being “God”, with Jesus truly being “Lord”, and with the Holy Spirit truly being the controlling factor of your life. God’s crystal clear intention is that ”You shall have no other gods before me”.  Even Jesus had to make a choice to surrender to God’s will and purpose for His life.

We want Jesus to be our Savior and Forgiver….but we often struggle with the Lord and Leader stuff. The two concepts go hand in hand. The only way Jesus can truly be our Savior and Forgiver is if He truly is Lord and Leader.

Salvation without lordship is merely fire insurance. We want a “policy” that keeps us out of hell without the requirements like surrender, obedience, and sacrifice. Salvation is not about merely going to church, praying prayers, and getting baptized. Salvation is about living a changed life evidenced by the work of the Holy Spirit and the kind of fruit that accompanies a changed life.

Biblically speaking, this is a pretty simple concept. There is only one way to heaven and that is through a person relationship with one person….Jesus. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.” He made some outrageous claims, including that He would die, and resurrect on the third day. Those outrageous claims make it impossible for Jesus to be just a good teacher or just another prophet.

Jesus could be a liar…if He made those claims knowing they were not true. Jesus could be a crazy lunatic…if He made those outrageous claims really thinking they were true, but they ended up not being true. If Jesus is a liar or crazy either how can He also be a good teacher or great prophet as some have tried to picture Him? On the other hand, if Jesus made those outrageous claims, then backed them up He can be nothing less than Lord.

Jesus is Lord. Not just our Savior….not just our Forgiver….but our Lord and Leader. With Jesus, our job as Christ-followers is to surrender to His Lordship….truly allowing Him to be our leader. God has delegated everything to Jesus due to “His obedience even unto death”.  Jesus came as the “author and finisher of our faith”.  He is our example of how we are to live.  Jesus demonstrated surrender, obedience, and sacrifice to God.  Like Paul wrote in Philippians 2:5-6 the Bible says that “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped…but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross.”

Jesus is Lord because He fulfilled all of those outrageous claims. Jesus is much more than just a Savior. Surrender your heart and will to Him so that He can be immeasurably more than all you ask or imagine.


The Difference Between a Civil War Reenactment and the Local Church

Every year, thousands of people gather to re-enact scenes from the Civil War. They go all out. Every button is genuine. Every gun is polished. Every strategy is authentic. Every flag handmade. It is the kind of event where if you were to stumble out of the woods into one of these battles, you would think you had teleported back in time 150 years.

It looks real. It sounds real. It feels real. The canons are loud; the smoke is thick. The generals on horseback yell orders. The sweaty soldiers dive into ditches and wade through creeks. The flash of gunfire sparkles across the front lines. The canons, guns, and yelling create such a racket your ears ring.

It seems real. But it’s not. Nothing real is actually happening. Strategies are being enacted, but no ground is actually being won or lost. Soldiers are falling to the ground, but no one is actually dying or being hurt. It feels like a war; but it’s actually just a routine. They are play-acting. It’s all make-believe.

I wonder if the same could be said of our churches. If you were to stumble into one of our Sunday morning services, you would be impressed. Every aisle is vacuumed, every instrument tuned. Our clothes are pressed, and our smiles are wide. We preach, we sing, we shake hands. And it looks and feels exactly like church. But is anything real actually happening?

Is any spiritual ground being won or lost? Are any souls being saved? Are lives being touched and changed? If we are not careful, we can become so familiar with the routine of ministry that we find ourselves simply reenacting routines. Another service, another message, another song.

My guess is that far too many churches are merely play-acting week after week. Just going through the motions, getting through the list of duties and responsibilities. I think that is the sad reality for so many churches. Consider of the evidence found in the lack of growth or even decline, conflict issues, unhealthy structures, a lack of vision, loss of hope, little to no momentum, and lack of spiritual power.

But there is a huge difference between a Civil War re-enactment and the local church; the stakes are real, the battle is real, and our enemy is real. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Many who are reading this article are discouraged and feel hopeless. It’s okay to admit it. So to every weary pastor, every tired Sunday school teacher, and every faithful church member, I say; keep fighting the good fight of faith. Don’t give up. Not now. Not ever. “Don’t get weary in doing what is right, for you will receive the harvest at the proper time”  (Gal 6:9).

Dream with me about “the church” for a moment. What would a local church be like if its people were radically devoted to Christ….irrevocably committed to each other….and relentlessly dedicated to reaching those outside God’s family with the gospel of Christ?


The Question of All Eternity

Do you have a relationship with a religion, or do you have a real relationship with a real person named Jesus?  That really is the question of all eternity.

Many people “go to church”, but as the adage goes, “going to church doesn’t make you a Christ-follower any more than going to McDonald’s makes you a Big Mac” (unless of course you subscribe to the “you are what you eat” theory). Attending church, even faithfully, simply does not guarantee a person a personal relationship Christ.

Understanding a personal relationship with Christ begins with understanding that a real God sent His real Son to die on a real cross for my and your very real sin. Three days later, God raised His real Son from a real death through a real resurrection so that He could be the one and only real Savior of all mankind. A personal relationship with Christ begins with acknowledging your need for a Savior, then verbalizing a real desire and decision to make Jesus your Lord and Savior….your leader and forgiver; then inviting Him to change you from the inside out through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Salvation occurs when the Holy Spirit indwells a person or begins living in a person (Titus  3:3-7, John 7:37-39). Salvation is the result of “believing IN YOUR HEART (not your merely with your head – James 2:19), and confessing or declaring with your mouth that Jesus is Lord” (Romans 10:9-10, 13).

Religion is a relationship with a system of beliefs, rules, and traditions. A personal relationship with Jesus is a life changing interaction through a real relationship with a real Savior named Jesus Christ. The bottom line defining factor is the activity of the Holy Spirit in one’s life. Once a person truly has a personal relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit indwells them. The Holy Spirit’s bottom line delegated task from God is to make a difference in a person so He can make a difference through them. Do you recognize the activity of the Holy Spirit in your life?

2 Timothy 3:1-5 describes people with a “form of godliness”, which in the original language indicates a structured religion, “but denying it’s power”, which in the original language means “the powerful one of God” or the Holy Spirit. The description is not very flattering, but it does clearly describe our culture.

It’s all about relationship. Forget religion…it’s dead and it leads to spiritual death. Religion does not save…religion does not truly change lives… all religion does is complicate, confuse, and bore. Only a personal relationship with a real Savior changes one’s life.

How’s your relationship with God? Does it make a difference or is it just what you do because you are suppose to? Are you bored in your spiritual journey? Do yourself a favor, quit chasing “stuff”, and start chasing after a life changing relationship with God. He is real, and He really does make a difference! You will never be the same.


Feel Like a Failure? God ALWAYS has a Plan

Failure. Have you ever experienced the kind of failure that you thought you would never be able to recover from, or maybe even where those closest to you told you could never recover? And maybe, it was so devastating that is changed your reality, and circumstances. And furthermore, maybe you are still paying a high price for your failure.

There is rarely a week that goes by I don’t receive a message from someone who has messed up in some huge way. One of the first things I always remind a person is that “everything Satan wants to use to destroy them, God wants to use to make them the person He wants them to be”. God is not done with them. And God is not done with you either.

We all need to deal with the issues and failures we are facing. We are personally responsible for our choices and the consequences of those choices. Taking personal responsibility is the first step on the path. God being willing to forgive, heal, and restore does not remove consequences or the need to take personal responsibility, it just means that God is wants to restore you.

Each of us has had those days when all needed to be reminded that the Bible is full of messed up people who God used for great things. Noah was a drunk. Abraham was too old. Isaac was a daydreamer. Jacob was a liar. Leah was ugly. Joseph was abused. Moses had a stuttering problem. Gideon was afraid. Samson had long hair and was a womanizer. Rahab was a prostitute. Jeremiah and Timothy were too young. David had an affair and was a murderer. Elijah was suicidal. Isaiah preached naked. Jonah ran from God. Naomi was a widow. Job went bankrupt. Peter denied Christ. The Disciples fell asleep while praying. Martha worried about everything. The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once. Zaccheus was too small. Paul was too religious. Timothy had an ulcer…AND Lazarus was dead!

So today I’m sure there is someone reading this article and you think you are done because of something you’ve done; that your failure is beyond forgiveness or recovery. You are not done because God is not done. Do not walk way. Do not give up. God always has a plan.  It might be a painful journey, but God always has a plan.

I just wanted to remind you today that God is for you. God will use every single thing the enemy wants to use to destroy you, to make you the person He wants you to me, if you will just let Him. Surrender to Him. Trust Him. I’m for you. They are many people rooting for you. This is not the day to give up. This is the day to dig in, come clean, get honest, embrace the pain, and begin your journey toward hope, healing, and restoration.


Three Foundational Truths of Prayer

In this article I will address three foundational truths of prayer and the repercussions of those truths.

First, no Christ-follower’s spiritual life will rise to stay above the level of their personal prayer life.

Second, no church’s corporate prayer life will rise to stay above its members’ personal prayer lives.

Third, no church’s effectiveness will rise to stay above its corporate prayer life.

Effective prayer is different that merely praying at meals, praying for the sick, praying for God’s blessings,  or praying for our needs and wants. Effective prayer is really spiritual warfare. Prayer makes the difference in the battle. In Exodus 17:8-16 there is a story of Joshua fighting the Amalekite army while Moses was praying with Aaron and Hur at the top of a hill over-looking the battle. When Moses held up his hands in prayer Joshua and the Israelites were winning. When Moses grew tired and dropped his hands the Amalekites were winning. So Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ arms so He could pray with his hands lifted.

In verse 13 it says, “So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword”. The word translated “sword: is the Hebrew word “peh”. It is can be translated “testimony, mouth, speech, command, edge (as in edge of a sword)”. Of the five ways “peh” can be translated, four of them have to do with speaking. Joshua did not win because of his men’s skill with their sword. He won because of the prayer of an old man standing on the hillside over-looking the battle. In Revelation 12:11, it says, “They overcame him (the enemy) by the blood of the Lamb (Jesus) and by the word of their testimony.”

Most churches are in decline, or at best plateau-ed due to the lack of authentic, heartfelt prayer from its members. Everyday 11 churches close their doors forever….nearly 4,000 churches per year. Don’t believe it? Look around at your community or even your county. How many churches do you know of that are truly growing and reaching unchurched & dechurched people? What is the average age of the members of our churches? If things do not change…where is the church headed over the next year, five years, or ten years?

I believe prayer changes things. Every documented revival in history had its origin in prayer. Satan uses laziness, complacency, apathy, a lack of discipline, etc….to cause the church to lay aside as a weapon. Prayer is a gift from God without substitute. It is the key to the unlimited resources of God. Satan does mind what we do as long as leave the power of Almighty God out of it. Prayer in the hand of faith, is the key to the immeasurable, unimaginable resources of God. Like Judson Cornwall stated, “Empty hearts, prayer-less spirits, tired bodies, undisciplined minds, unopened Bibles, and careless attitudes have ruined more worship services then all the demonic activity of Hell.


Life Happens. Seek God First Anyway

The world and economy is crazy! So many things are unstable and uncertain. We could debate the reasons for the condition of our world or our nation, including the various economic challenges and the various ideas to stabilize the economy, but the reality is none of us really know what tomorrow holds.

Money is such an important area in your culture. If we have placed our trust in the stock market, or our ability to manage finances, or even the amount of money we have saved; times like these can shake our trust and security. We have no control over some economic realities. Gas prices can soar, the stock market can drop, the housing market can slow to a crawl, and our company can lay us off. One thing is clear; we do not have near as much control over the circumstances of life as we like to think.

Scripture is full of references challenging us to trust God, even during hard times. For that matter, trusting God is even more important during trying times. In Matt 6:24, Jesus says we cannot serve two masters; we cannot serve both God and money. Then He launches immediately into ten verses on choosing to trust God instead of worrying (Matt 6:25-34).

In this passage, Jesus equates worrying to being a pagan because worrying is the result of not trusting God. Many Christ-followers struggle with worrying, but would deny having trust issue. I am fine with that line of reasoning, but just so you are aware, God knows. We can tell God we trust Him over and over again, but God really does know the truth. We can lie to ourselves. We can say all the right words, pray all the right prayers, and quote all the right scriptures. But God is never confused or tricked. He always knows the absolute truth.

Matt 6:33 is a verse that has become a part of the foundation of our church family; our paraphrase is “Seek first God, His Kingdom, His righteousness, and He will handle all the details”. God wants us to trust Him completely. He wants us to love Him, and hunger for Him to the point that life’s other issues do not cause us to worry. God wants life’s struggles to cause us to trust Him even more.

Life happens. Some days life can be overwhelming and discouraging. But everyday God is God; He never goes on vacation. Everyday God wants to take all life throws at you and help you become the person after His heart. Everything the enemy wants to use to discourage you, and destroy you, God will use to make you the person He wants you to be. Let God handle your details, He has more experience.