Sheep and Goats (a Bible study)

As we dive into this passage of scripture, I want to draw the distinction between “those on the King’s right” and “those on the King’s left.” The symbolism used here is an obvious contrast of people who will be welcomed into heaven and others who will be forever cursed to an eternity in hell.

Matthew 25:31-46 [NIV]

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.

32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

RIGHT vs. LEFT

The position on the right hand of a king is a place of honor, a place often reserved for the righteous and mighty. Why are the “sheep” in good standing with the king while the “goats” are not? We’ll get to that shortly…

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,

36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?

38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?

39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

UNDERSTANDING THE SYMBOLISM

Sheep are generally utilized in scripture to represent followers of Christ. We are called His sheep and He our Shepherd. And Jesus Himself is known as the Lamb of God, and the Lamb that was slain for the forgiveness of our sins.

In contrast, the image of the goat is often used to represent the dark or evil one – satan, the devil. Or, as in this passage, the goats represent those who followed after the sinful nature – and so, followed the devil and his ways.

And what does the king say to these “goats?”

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,

43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

BEING SHEEP, NOT GOATS

The difference is clear. When that day comes and He separates the sheep from the goats, we want to find ourselves on His right and not His left. We want to hear Him say “Well done” rather than “Depart from me!”

But to an untrained eye, sheep and goats look quite similar. And too often, people may look at us (Christians) and see little or no difference in us and your average everyday worldly non-believers. How can we make that distinction clear to everyone?

In John 10, Jesus says:

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—
15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.

One sure way to stand apart from the world is to live like a people known to Jesus. This means following His commands and doing what we ought. Further down in this chapter, He adds:

27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.

If we know His voice and listen only to Him, our actions will proclaim loudly to everyone that we belong to Jesus. In fact, sheep can only be led by the voice they recognize as that of their shepherd. Other voices are ignored. We can take a lesson from this.

THE VOICE OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD

When we are tuned in to the voice of Christ, no other frequencies overlap. If satan tries to lead us astray while our receivers are tuned into Jesus, the enemy will only register as static. A little fine tuning (through prayer and praise), and that static is gone.

How do we stay tuned in to the right station? Through study and meditation on the Word of God. The more we spend time with Jesus, studying His teachings and learning His ways, the easier it will be to recognize His voice and distinguish it from the background noise generated by the devil.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Put all of this together now – knowing the Lord’s voice, following His commands – and where will it lead us? Every opportunity He brings us to show His love and be a blessing to others will offer us a chance to demonstrate that we are His.

The Bible gives us the blueprint for being like Jesus to the world around us. Follow His example, and you will be a Kingdom Hero. Go back to our original scripture in Matthew 25:

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Meeting the needs of people He puts in your path – whether it’s feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, or whatever – this is the mark of a Kingdom Hero. And that’s just the kind of person a king would have at his right hand in a place of honor. Where will YOU be? On His right, or on His left?

In a world full of goats, I’d much rather be a sheep.

Owning Our Faith

There are a lot of misconceptions about Christianity. We have allowed our faith to be hijacked by those who seek to misrepresent it. We have to be clear witnesses, in no uncertain terms, and set the record straight.

What Happened to Christianity?

The process started long ago. When the serpent tempted Eve (and Adam) with the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he countered God’s own warning with words and reasoning to the contrary. God said they would die, but the serpent (or satan) said that just wasn’t true. They listened to the wrong voice and disobeyed God’s words.

Today, the enemy is still doing all he can to turn people away from the Word of God. This process has utilized worldly arguments that are successful at influencing people who aren’t fully versed in what scripture says or in what Jesus taught. Each argument seems convincing enough to pull these unrooted Christians away from the truth, and from their very faith.

A Falling Away…

There have been a number of Christians who have fallen away from the faith, but the most lethal targets the enemy chooses are those in positions of leadership and influence.

Recently, two well-known Christian leaders announced that they had left the faith. Joshua Harris, a former pastor and author, said he no longer calls himself a Christian and that he now vocally supports the LGBTQ community. A similar announcement was made even more recently by Marty Sampson, a Hillsong United worship leader.

Worldly arguments have proven highly effective with these influential people, and their influences can cause even more to fall away.

Recognizing the False Arguments

While it’s a sad fact that this is happening, we should neither be surprised nor disheartened. Satan has been at this for millennia, and he’s gotten quite crafty at it. The Bible speaks of a “falling away,” so we have to guard our hearts and stay rooted in the Word of God in order to recognize all the clever tricks of the enemy.

Each of these worldly arguments tries to either make sin okay somehow or make it seem unloving and judgmental for us to call it sin. Embedded within this notion is the false belief that Christianity stands in judgment of sinners. If we are truly like Christ, then we are to be friends of sinners – but that doesn’t mean that we condone sin.

The enemy has succeeded in making people think that believing what the Bible says about sin is the same thing as judging. Perhaps some so-called Christians (yes, even some of us) have been guilty of judging others, but the Bible clearly tells us NOT to do that. I can believe homosexuality is wrong (because the Bible says so) without judging gays. There IS a big difference. Indeed, I can be their friend!

In fact, what I tell people when witnessing, I can’t judge anyone for their sins without judging myself. I have my own struggles with sin, and I’m not better than anyone else. The Bible says that, by the same manner that I judge someone else, I will be judged. Because of my belief in the Word of God, I can neither condone sin nor condemn anyone for it. That’s just not my place. God alone will stand in judgment of us all.

Many Refuse to Hear

We must also understand that there are those who simply won’t listen, either due to preconceived ideas of our faith or because of an unwillingness to submit to Godly principles. For such people, we can only do so much. In many cases, prayer might be our sole resort for them.

[Warning against falling away] We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!

Hebrews 5:11-12 [NIV]

Some of the hardest people to reach for the Kingdom can be those who previously called themselves Christians. These people often think they already know all there is to know about Christianity. They once believed, but only in a shallow sense. That belief was not rooted deeply in the truth, or it would not have been so easily uprooted.

Standing Firm in the Faith

Once we learn to recognize the tricks and false arguments of the enemy, and keeping ourselves deeply rooted in God’s Word, with humble hearts full of love and grace, we must stand firmly in what we believe. But we have to KNOW what believe first. Correcting the false notions about our faith is dependent upon us knowing the truth.

You can’t witness effectively to someone who thinks you either have already judged them or hate them. Often, that’s the first misconception we have to tackle. They need to know that we love them and don’t consider ourselves to be better than them. Make it clear that you don’t want to be their judge, but their friend. This should be obvious in both your words and your actions or behavior toward them.

Too often, our Christian faith gets hijacked and misrepresented to the world. Satan wants everyone to think we are against them rather than for them. We have a responsibility as Christians to correct these false ideas and set the record straight. We have to own our faith, knowing exactly what we believe and standing firmly in it. Otherwise, we may be uprooted ourselves and fall away or be deceived by worldly views.

The Kingdom of Heaven

From the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, He preached these words:

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

~ Matthew 3:2 & 4:17

Throughout His teaching, He continued to speak about the kingdom of heaven at great lengths. Let’s take a closer look…

Jesus made it very clear that He is “the way” to heaven. Unlike some today who think there are “many paths to God,” Jesus taught that there is indeed only ONE WAY.

So what kind of person will get to be with God in heaven? Let’s explore a few passages of the Bible for insight.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

~ Matthew 5:3

Here, Jesus was beginning a message known as “The Beatitudes.” In it, He pronounced blessings upon the meek, the merciful, the peacemakers, etc. In this verse, He was addressing a certain attitude of the heart. The poor in spirit refers to those devoid of spiritual arrogance, or ones who don’t hold themselves in higher regard than others.

A bit further, He adds…

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

~ Matthew 5:10

Here we note the indication early on in His ministry that doing the right thing won’t make us popular with the masses. Indeed, Jesus later told his Disciples that they would be persecuted, hated, and despised because of Him. Our faith is the butt of many jokes, and Christians are still persecuted to the point of death in parts of the world today. The more like Christ we become, the more this world will hate us.

One group of people who probably hated Jesus the most were the Pharisees. They were the pompous and self-righteous know-it-alls of their day. Yet these men were, for the most part, only good at looking down their noses at others. They knew the law, but they didn’t understand it, and Jesus shined a light on their arrogance and ignorance several times. No wonder they sought to seize Him and kill Him.

Speaking specifically of them later in this sermon, Jesus stated the following:

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

~ Matthew 5:20

Yet too many of those who profess to be Christians act more like the Pharisees. This is one reason why the church is often seen as a holier-than-thou club, full of hypocrites who look down on other sinners and think themselves somehow better than the world around them.

The truth is that, Christians are NOT better than anyone. We are not superior to others in any way. Still imperfect ourselves, we struggle with sin and selfish desires like anyone. Now, we DO have one thing going for us that unbelievers do not – by grace, we are forgiven. But we ought not think more highly of ourselves because it wasn’t something we earned – rather, it was granted to us through Christ’s sacrifice.

Our purpose as Disciples of Jesus is to help spread the Good News of this free gift of salvation. We’re here to bring more people to the saving knowledge of Christ. Rather than acting like the Pharisees, we should be acting as much like Jesus as possible, showing others how they can inherit the kingdom of heaven.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

~ Matthew 7:21-23

Clearly, Jesus drew a distinction between merely putting on an air of righteousness and actually living righteously in the light of His amazing grace. That grace is afforded to us by the blood, and it covers us when we stumble. But it’s not an excuse to live a life of sin. If we do that, we make a mockery of the concept of grace. It also shows that sin rules our lives rather than God’s word.

Getting into the kingdom of heaven requires us to walk a narrow path. Yet within that path, there is freedom in Christ. We know that if we make a mistake and genuinely repent, grace covers us. It’s all good. Jesus already took care of that. And our message to the world around us should be the same as His:

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

The Truth About Worship

Making war in the heavenlies

Tearing down principalities

Standing firm in Jesus’ victory

Making war in the heavenlies

Casting down every high thing

That exalts itself against the knowledge of God

We used to sing these words at a church I attended back in the 90s. It speaks of warring in the spirit as we worship, and it touches on a passage of scripture from 2 Corinthians 10:5. But what’s the connection between “worship” and “making war” in the spirit? I’m glad you asked that question. Keep reading…

Praise and Worship

While praise and worship go hand in hand, they aren’t quite the same thing. You can praise someone for their good deeds without actually knowing them or even liking them. But worship is much deeper. It involves adoration and a desire to have an increasingly close relationship. Both are very important in the lives of Christians, but worshipping God goes further and demonstrates our love for Him.

To worship means to show reverence and adoration for someone (usually, a deity). But even this definition doesn’t do justice to how we are to worship God. Jesus said:

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

~ John 4:23-24 [NIV]

What does it mean to “worship in Spirit and truth?”

First, true worship begins with praise. We must acknowledge the truth of who God is – that He is our Creator, our provider, and master of our lives. This encompasses the whole truth of the Christian faith. We believe and recognize that God is the Holy Trinity – Father, Spirit, and Son – that He redeemed us through Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, and that His Spirit lives within our hearts and guides our steps daily. Now this is merely the beginning of worship.

As we enter into worshipping Him in the Spirit, we must make our flesh subject to our own spirit. Our spirit, the very breath of God which gives us life, longs to be one with His Spirit again. Why again?

Understand that the word spirit comes from the same root as the word inspire. The term inspired literally means “God-breathed.” When He breathed life into Adam, God was planting a part of Himself – His Spirit – into mankind. Our breath of life, or spirit, came from God. And so, it longs to be one with Him AGAIN.

When we worship God in the Spirit, this rejoining of our spirit with His takes place. This is why we feel His presence so strongly during this kind of true worship. And there is nothing more satisfying to our spirit than being one with the Holy Spirit.

What Is Worship Warfare?

Now that we know true worship involves allowing our spirit to commune with God’s, we need to realize that the enemy does not want to let this happen. Satan will unleash his hellish forces to try and prevent it because he knows how empowered we become by it. If the devil can distract you in any way, he will. So we must be ready to do battle with him.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

~ Ephesians 6:12 [NIV]

This is where spiritual warfare comes in. During this, we remind satan who he is, and that he is subject to the authority of God in us. We pray in the Spirit, we draw on the strength and power of God, and we invoke the name of Jesus against the devil and his minions. Defiantly, we worship our Lord in the face of the enemy, putting him in his place as we exalt God.

This is one of the reasons why worship is of crucial importance to the life of every believer. It aligns our spirit with God’s. It puts the will of our flesh under subjection to the will of the Spirit. It forces the enemy to expose himself and beats back those forces of hell that attack us and wish to negatively influence our lives. And it refocuses us, recenters us, on God.

Worship is more than just a time we need to experience on Sunday morning. It needs to be part of our daily plan of action.

WORSHIP…

EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Edification Focus

This is a follow-up to my previous blog.

With each passing day, I have felt more and more that I need to de-clutter my life. In my last blog entry, I began by saying:

The more I do for God, the happier I am.

During the last few days, I feel that God has been challenging me to narrow the focus of my online presence. I have my personal Facebook page, my GCM ministry page, another page solely for political postings, two Twitter accounts, etc. Each page or account has a specific purpose, and they rarely crossover with one another.

Two days ago, as plainly as possible, God asked me a question that wrecked my fragile balancing act. He didn’t mince words, and He didn’t let me slide by with a flimsy excuse. I put it all into a personal journal that I keep, and I want to share a part of that with you…

… I heard in my own spirit, “Why are you still keeping your personal Facebook page separate from the ministry I have given you?” 

In my mind, I quickly formulated the argument that I had the two accounts connected and did occasionally share stuff from the ministry page onto my personal page. However, I knew that argument would not fly with God. He knows my deepest thoughts, and He wouldn’t have asked the question if it weren’t necessary…

… In answer to God’s question, I simply said, “I didn’t want to seem like I was pushing my faith on people.” Then He asked, “What is the purpose of Facebook for you?” I replied, “To connect with people and share my thoughts.” God said, “So, to show people who you are and what you think?” I answered, “Yes, exactly.” Then He pinned it down for me. “And who exactly ARE you?” He asked. 

The inescapable truth rang loudly like a gong in my head. Who am I? Apart from Jesus, I am no one. But because of His grace, I am a child of God. I am His servant, and my purpose is to do His will. My reason for existence to be about my Heavenly Father’s business. And with that truth ringing in my head, I answered Him with a simple, “Ah, I get it now.”

… And I needn’t worry about people getting offended by my faith. Sharing who I am isn’t “pushing” it on anyone. That’s a trick of satan to keep us from witnessing. Fact is, the truth of the Gospel message is going to offend some people, and that’s not a bad thing. We have to get uncomfortable sometimes in order to decide to change. If my friends are heading in the wrong direction, my witness SHOULD make them uncomfortable. That’s often how the Holy Spirit initiates changes in a person’s heart.

Today, I felt another urging of the Holy Spirit. More clutter to get rid of? Yep. This time, it was a polite but firm conviction regarding an alternate identity I have used for years on Facebook for political posts. Now, while on the surface there may be nothing wrong with Christians having and sharing political beliefs, the point is that it had become a distraction for me.

What I felt God was saying to me was that, all too often, the sometimes heated debates I found myself getting into were running counter to the attitude I should have as a follower of Christ. Debating things is fine, but passionately proclaiming my political views tends to put me in an adversarial state of mind. It can get my blood pressure up. It even makes me turn into a self-righteous sounding pundit. But mainly, it just doesn’t do ANYTHING to edify the Kingdom.

While I won’t fault anyone for speaking out on important issues, politically or otherwise, the extent to which I was involved in this was ultimately self-defeating. And having all these different versions of “me” is exhausting. The Stace that my family sees, the one my friends see, the one my political followers see, the one my ministry followers see, etc. It can get confusing. And it’s not at all healthy for me.

There is ONE God, and there is ONE me. The me that EVERYONE should see has many layers, but he is just one guy. And that guy is a servant of Jesus Christ. Imperfect, yes. Still struggling with sins, yes. But forgiven, and eternally grateful to my Creator who loved me enough to send His Son to die for my sins.

There is only ONE Stace Massengill, and God has asked me to make that clear so that I can be a transparent witness for His Kingdom.

Has He made a similar request of you? Do you have a bunch of unnecessary clutter in your life? You might be surprised at how much we tend to weigh ourselves down with a lot of baggage that we simply don’t need. I urge you to talk with God and ask Him to point out the distractions in your life. Let Him show you the stuff you can do without and how liberating it can be to dump the excess weight.

We are supposed to be FREE from any bondage, yet we willingly take on the yoke of it. Get rid of the distractions today, my friends. Put aside anything that hinders you from the work of God.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…

Hebrews 12:1 [NKJV]

Be free again. Be free in Christ.

The Desires of My Heart

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

~ Psalm 37:4 [NIV]

What I am learning as I grow older and (hopefully) wiser is that, the more I do for God, the happier I am. While that might not sound like a huge revelation, it is a profound truth. It’s how we are designed, to use gifts and abilities He has given us for His purpose. When we do what we are designed to do, it is pleasing to God AND to us.

Understanding the Scripture

That verse above does not mean what many people think it does. They first gloss over the whole “delight in the Lord” part, which is the most important part of the passage. Then they focus on the latter part and mistakenly believe God will give them anything their fleshly (carnal) heart wants. This is not at all the promise being made, and we would never be satisfied if it was.

Worldly desires are usually material possessions, wealth, and power. Those things don’t make us truly happy. Oh sure, we may get a brief thrill from owning that shiny new muscle car or that big fancy house. But the “joy” we may think these items will bring is always fleeting. These things are temporary, and the thrill is likewise quick to fade.

The key to understanding individual scriptures is to keep it in the context of the rest of the Bible. We can use other scriptures to shed some light on the truth God wants to illuminate. Scripture interprets scripture. Meditating on it, praying, and seeking for answers will bring it into proper focus.

Where Is Your Treasure?

Let’s look at another passage that can help us to understand the one above.

19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

~ Matthew 6 [NIV]

So if the things we treasure are temporary and perishable, those things will never bring us a true and everlasting joy. Now go back to the original scripture. What’s the first step? Yes, delighting ourselves in the Lord. How do we do that? It is in our obedience to God’s commands that we experience a joy that He gives.

I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

~ Psalm 119:16 [NIV]

Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.

~ Psalm 119:35 [NIV]

I delight in your commands because I love them.

~ Psalm 119:47 [NIV]

We do things for God because we love Him and want to please Him. In turn, He has designed us to take joy and great delight in doing so. This is how we can delight ourselves in the Lord. So then comes the resulting promise: He will give us the desires of our hearts. We mentioned what that doesn’t mean, so what DOES it mean?

God Given Desires

Since the Lord equips each of us with our own unique talents and gifts, the thing that tends to bring us the most happiness is using those abilities in His service and for His purpose. But we tend to get off track, easily distracted by the things we think will bring us pleasure.

So rather than granting wishes like a genie and bestowing us with material possessions that are temporary, our amazing and loving Father fashions our desires to coincide with the talents He’s already bestowed upon us. In this way, He is literally giving us the desires of our hearts.

Fleshly desires only satisfy the flesh, and only for a moment. But Godly desires satisfy our innermost beings and bring eternal delight to both us AND the Lord.

Who is Fashioning Your Desires?

If you do the things that please God, taking delight in His ways, He responds by fashioning the desires of your heart to keep you in His will. This brings a joy unspeakable that’s full of glory.

If instead your actions are self-serving and based in the carnal desires of the flesh, that will be your only satisfaction. It will fade away as quickly as it came, and disappointment will be the only constant in your life.

Want more joy and happiness in your life? Do more for God. The more you bless Him, the more He will bless you. We are designed to worship Him and to use the abilities He gave us for His kingdom. Do what you were made to do.

The Truth About LOVE

Love, Hollywood Style…

It’s probably happened to all of us. We’re watching TV or a movie, when two of the characters become attracted, admit their feelings, and boom – next thing you know, they’re in a sex scene, as though that’s the logical progression and that’s what “love” is. WRONG.

This happened recently while I was watching an adventure series, and I immediately became annoyed. It bothered me partly because scenes like these do NOTHING to advance the plot of the show, and I find that irritating. But it also bugged me because it was done as though that were simply supposed to happen next. Love is so often misrepresented as sensuality that it has become synonymous with sex. And that does the concept of love a major disservice.

What is Love, Really?

While there is indeed a place for sex and sensuality, that isn’t what “love” actually is. Years ago, I did a GC video called, “What is Love?” In it, I first mentioned all those things we tend to associate with love that love is NOT. The “warm fuzzies” you get when you’re around someone you’re attracted to – not love. This is because love is not merely a feeling or emotion. And no, it’s certainly not synonymous with sex. So if that’s not what love truly is, then what ?

In that video, I went on to use “the Love Chapter” of the Bible to illustrate the true nature of love. It tells us the following…

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 

does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered

does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 

7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails;

1 Corinthians 13 NASB

While this is nothing like how the entertainment industry portrays love, these qualities would also seem to go against our fleshly nature. But real love isn’t self-serving. It’s not just out to please itself. Love is quite the opposite of that. In fact, the worldly idea of love is actually childish and immature.

11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.

1 Cor 13 [NASB]

This would seem to indicate that some of us need to grow up and adjust our view of love.

The Greatest Commandment

Not only is love something very different from what we tend to see on TV and in film, it is also of much greater importance. In scripture, love is described as “a more excellent way.” More excellent than what? Hate? Sure, but not only that. To truly love is more excellent than ANYTHING else. It is the foundation of our Christian faith.

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 

37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 

38 This is the great and foremost commandment.

39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 

40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22 [NASB]

Loving God. Loving our fellow man. These are the most important acts we can ever commit, and we are instructed to do so. It is precisely because of this emphasis on love and its significance to our faith that the enemy has sought to pervert it.

Original vs. Counterfeit

Previously, I have eluded to how satan is a counterfeiter. He has nothing original. He takes an existing truth and twists it, perverting it into a lie. This is just what he has done to the original truth of love. The idea of love promoted by this sinful world is a perversion, authored by satan himself – the father of lies.

Whereas genuine love between a man and woman is blessed in God’s design for marriage, the worldly view of love jumps straight to satisfying carnal desires. The sex and sensuality originally given as a wonderful gift to enhance the marriage relationship has been perverted into a strictly self-serving gratification of one’s sexual wants. It has nothing at all to do with LOVE .

God’s original idea of love came from His own nature. This love puts others first, rather than being selfish. It comes from a place of care and compassion, rather than a fleshly need to possess and use for sinful pleasure. Love is something that should permeate our lives and influence our every action. And so, the enemy has tried to flood our minds instead with impure thoughts and selfish desires.

Love One Another

34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 13 [NASB]

When Jesus spoke these words, there was no doubt what He meant by it. Likewise, we must seek truth at all times to understand how to carryout His commandment for us to love one another the way He intended. Realize that satan will attempt to confuse and trick us, and he will tempt us with his false idea of love. But it’s our duty as Christians to know the truth and be set free by it, and to truly love as Christ loved us. He loved us so much that He gave Himself for us. He illustrated the perfect idea of love, as He even explained before His crucifixion…

13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

John 15 [NASB]

Through studying biblical instructions regarding love, and through following the example of Jesus Himself, we can learn to show the world what love truly is. And we should seek to do so at all times.

The Truth About Freedom

… It comes with responsibility.


I begin by re-sharing something I wrote 8 years ago…

On July 4, 1776, our nation’s founders declared their independence from the tyrannical rule of England’s king. They declared independence from the overbearing, overtaxing, and downright oppressive nature of that king. But to be truly independent of one form of government, these pioneers had to come up with a way to govern themselves. They believed free people should not be reliant upon any government for their needs. They knew from experience that a people who were dependent upon government were slaves to it, and would never be free.

In forming this new nation, these founders carefully designed a system of government that would be “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” They never intended to allow tyranny and oppression to overtake them again. But how can a people hope to sustain independence? Did they become totally self-reliant? The freedom they hoped to preserve could only happen by recognizing where their strength came from…the Creator of all things.

This is how independence was achieved. In order to break the bonds of dependence upon a tyrant, they instead put their trust in the One who is incorruptible. Acknowledging their dependence upon God, they declared independence from Great Britain. And the country they formed, that “more perfect Union,” still stands today. There are those, however, who are chipping away at its foundations by attempting to turn people’s reliance away from God and back onto government.

When you celebrate Independence Day, is it just another holiday? Just a gathering of friends or family for a cookout? Just a chance to shoot some fireworks? Or do you stop and realize what July 4th is all about? By all means, celebrate! Gather with friends and family. Shoot some fireworks. Have fun. But remember why we have these awesome freedoms, and hold tightly to those freedoms. Don’t accept any effort to make you more dependent on government, but instead keep your faith in God alone.

Depend on God, not government. And may He continue to bless America…and you.


I wrote the above words on July 3, 2011, and I still believe them.

Our Guiding Perspective

Furthermore, I believe we need to view the actions of our government and its leaders through a very specific lens. Does what they do benefit “we the people,” or does it benefit them? Does it protect our rights and liberties, or does it shrink those rights in favor of granting more power over our lives to the government?

I don’t care if they’re on the right, left, or in the center, we must closely examine the impact of their policies and determine what their real agenda is. As Americans who want to remain free, we owe it to the sacrifices of those before us AND the generations ahead to remain vigilant. We have to scrutinize the actions of our leaders to make sure that they aren’t simply attempting to gain more power for themselves at the expense of our freedoms.

The Wisdom of Our Forefathers

Our founding fathers knew this to be true. That is why they recognized individuals’ rights within the constitution as off-limits to the government. The Bill of Rights, they called it, comprised the first several amendments. Each of these amendments recognizes rights of citizens that “shall not be infringed.” This means no law should be passed that takes away or limits those rights.

One of today’s hot topics is gun control. People cite mass-shootings as reasoning for imposing more restrictions on gun ownership. But law-abiding gun owners aren’t the problem – law-breaking criminals are. What good are more laws that will simply go unheeded? The 2nd amendment protects the individual’s right to “keep and bear arms,” but lawmakers have continued to attempt more and more restrictions which infringe upon that right.

Some claim that amendment is outdated, or that it somehow applies to hunting. Both assertions are incorrect. The founders had experienced tyranny firsthand. They knew that an armed population would never allow an oppressive government to rule over them, and THAT’S exactly what they had in mind when they vowed to honor each citizen’s right to the protect themselves from tyranny with firearms.

With Freedom Comes Responsibility

Every right we have has a corresponding responsibility attached to it. Along with our freedom of speech, we have a responsibility to speak truth rather than lies. With our right to bear firearms comes the inherent responsibility to not misuse them for purposes like committing murder or other crimes. Each freedom carries a responsibility to not abuse our right, but to instead DO what is right.

As believers, this sense of right and wrong comes directly from the Word of God. And yes, faith and freedom go hand in hand. As American citizens, we believe strongly that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. Among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Sound familiar?

Attacks on Our Fundamentals

I’ve already blogged about the efforts to devalue human life (see my Truth about Abortion blog), but that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Lately, we’ve begun to see an attack upon the concept of “citizenship” itself. Countless immigrants came into this country via proper channels, observed our laws, and went through the process of becoming American citizens. But now, there are those who foolishly say, “open the borders and let everyone in!”

Many in DC claim these illegal aliens should have rights to “free” health care, even though hardworking citizens are paying for it. They make a mockery of citizenship, and they ignore the fact that this is grossly unfair to immigrants who came here legally – not to mention the fact that this continued influx of undocumented and completely unvetted people is unsustainable and endangers all of us by weakening our security. And maintaining our nation’s security is supposed to be a paramount function of government.

Ask yourself why such unwise practices are so widely advanced by some of our leaders. What could be their motivation? Go back to that “lens” through which I said we ought to view all their policies and actions. Do these things empower us and protect our liberty? Or do they weaken us and give more power to government? Think about it.

There have been sustained attempts for many years to fundamentally change America into something other than the freedom-loving and God-fearing country it has been since its birth. A shift in our priorities and morals has slowly occurred. With each deviation, our focus has become blurred and our attention pulled further and further away from the righteous and biblical foundations of this great nation.

American Greatness

As a means to that end, certain proponents of a revisionist history seek to deny this greatness, instead promoting an alternative view. You’ve probably heard the pompous politician who proclaimed the preposterous notion that “America was never that great.” Or perhaps you possibly heard another one of these people piously pose the question, “When was America great?” Put simply, my response goes like this:

Indeed, there are many who choose to point out our past mistakes rather than admit the reality that we’ve also learned from mistakes and sought to correct them. They not only keep reminding us of some of these shortcomings, but they also tend to exaggerate others, and even manufacture still more. Their goal – to destort the true view of American greatness and the fact that it has been due to the Godly principles ingrained within our founding documents.

A Dangerous World-View

Far too many people today hold a distorted view of what freedom means. They think it should be no strings, no holds barred, complete unrestrained exercise of their deepest desires. However, this can’t be universal. If everyone held this view, it would be chaos. So there HAVE to be SOME rules, and they tend to make them up as they go. I mean, they don’t want to go along with the BIBLICAL standards American law was actually BUILT upon.

So their rules end up being beneficial only to them. They can do whatever they want, and we can’t stop them or even speak out against them. They have free speech, but we do not because our ideas differ from theirs. We aren’t allowed to oppose or contradict them in any way.

They rail at us for trying to impose our views upon them (simply because we HAVE different views, not that we ever actually try to impose), while they are somehow free to force THEIR views and opinions on US. Freedom for them is doing what they please, no matter who it hurts in the process.

This does not lead to liberty at all, but rather, it leads to oppression and bondage. They who refuse to tolerate Christianity deem Christians as the “intolerant” ones. And they unwittingly place themselves in slavery to sin and decadence at the same time.

The Cost of Liberty

You see, there’s a price for freedom. Our liberty in Christ came at a great cost. Jesus paid that debt on the cross so we could be free from the chains of sin. Our freedom as Americans comes at a high price, as well. Yes, we owe a debt of gratitude to every soldier who fought, bled, and died for the cause of liberty. Every troop currently serving to protect our country today, every police officer who serves and protects their community, every fireman, every EMT or paramedic, and yes – every public servant or government official who truly cares about and represents their constituents deserves our respect and support.

But the cost of freedom continues. That cost goes far deeper than just thanking those who help preserve liberty. As partakers in that freedom ourselves, we also have a very important duty. The truth about freedom is that it comes at a price for ALL of us. What must we do? Steadfastly, we have to remain vigilant. Keep watch for the schemes of those who would destroy our freedom. Know the tricks of the enemy, and realize that this battle will ultimately be won from our knees in prayer.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

~Ephesians 6:12 NASB


In the battle for the heart and soul of America, it is a spiritual fight we face. Are you prepared?

Happy Independence Day!

Have a safe and blessed July 4th.

#HappyBirthdayAmerica

A Call to Persevere

Today’s blog is inspired by a post from my brother, Stan Massengill:

Hang on; help is on its way! In the meantime focus on being an encouragement to others. God, who sees, will reciprocate divine encouragement to you.

…Hebrews 10 –

23 Let us hold resolutely to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.

24 And let us consider how to spur one another on to love and good deeds.

25 Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.… [NIV]

God Bless!

This, from a man who has been inspiring and encouraging others to persevere merely by living out his faith in the midst of his own recovery.

In late October of 2018, Stan suffered a major stroke. Week after week, I saw him go from not being able to walk at all to gradually regaining the strength to walk again. He fought hard to get his left side functional again, and 6 months into that recovery, he was hit by another setback – the need for triple bypass open heart surgery.

Of course, he was somewhat discouraged by the prospect of having to regain much of the ground he had reclaimed from the stroke. But he faced it like a champ. Though he still uses a cane for added stability, I have personally seen him improve and walk around with no cane and zero assistance. He has also regained a lot of the speech capability he had lost and had to relearn. My brother is literally a “walking, talking miracle.”

So when you are feeling down or discouraged, remember to look up. God has you. He has your circumstances. He holds your very future in His hands. And I’m sure Stan would be the first to tell you that your life couldn’t be in better hands than God’s.

The Truth About TRUTH

Many people today have a strange view of what “truth” means. They may call it a progressive view to say that “truth is relative,” but even if I believe with all my being that an apple is a pear, it doesn’t make it so.


Rejecting Absolutes

I did an episode of the GC covering this way back in 2011. The biggest problem with the idea of truth being relative is its foundational argument that states, “There is no such thing as an absolute truth.” This laughably self-defeating argument relies on a contradiction. Saying “there’s no such thing as an absolute” is ITSELF an ABSOLUTE STATEMENT. How can you argue against absolutes by using an absolute statement? Answer: You can’t. The argument should fall apart right there, right?

Unfortunately, people can be quite stubborn about their beliefs. The problem comes when they are confronted with the truth and reject it outright. This is where the phrase comes in that says, “Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind’s made up!”

So in that GC video, I used the example of gravity. The law of gravity holds an absolute truth. If 10 people jump out of a plane at 20,000 feet without a parachute, they will ALL die. This is just as true for the 10th person as it is for the 1st one. That’s the nature of truth – it is absolute. Truth must be truth for all, or it isn’t truth at all.


Truth Never Lies

The most convincing lies have an element of truth to them, which makes them sound believable. But truth itself does not lie. A clever person can use a truth to mislead someone, but this act twists that truth into something other than a simple fact. It becomes corrupted and no longer truth because it now suggests something that is not true at all. It is now a lie.

Example: I used to work for a company that was less than upfront about certain things. When I realized this, I became very uncomfortable and left due to their questionable tactics. Basically, we were being taught to sell a product by telling people a truth that would lead them to believe a lie.

I could tell you that widget A will not cost you a dime because I’m gonna give it to you. But what I don’t tell you is that widget A is of no use at all without widget B, and well…widget B is definitely gonna cost you. This isn’t only a lie because it’s misleading, it’s a lie of omission because I’m deliberately NOT telling you a key truth about the product.

So it’s possible for someone to state a truth, but in actuality be lying to your face.


Truth Has No Agenda

When people lie, there’s always an agenda involved. Whether they mean to blatantly fool you for some nefarious purpose or simply don’t want to admit the truth, the goal is to deceive. Deception is always agenda driven. There’s a purpose to it, a reason behind it, and it often requires several more lies to “support” it.

On the other hand, truth doesn’t need an agenda. It stands on its own. Truth is simply truth. If I tell you the truth about something, there is no ulterior motive involved. I’m simply stating fact.

That’s the great thing about truth – it’s simple and easy to remember. When you lie about something, you have to remember what the lie was to continue the farce and pretend it’s true. But as the saying goes, “when you tell the truth, you never have to worry about remembering what you said.”

In my experience, lies are always eventually exposed. When I learn that someone has lied to me, it destroys any trust I had in that person. Regaining trust after your lies are exposed is extremely hard. Hence another old saying, “honesty is the best policy.”


Biblical Truth

When Jesus had a really important truth to share, He would preface it with the expression “verily, verily, I say to you…” This means “truly, truly,” but He didn’t just say that to indicate what He was about to say was true because Jesus never lied. Again, this expression indicates that what follows it is an important truth. It was like saying, “Hey! Listen up! Pay attention! Hear me! This is important!”

The Bible also gives us clear warnings about giving an ear to those who would deceive us with their clever and crafty lies. But how can we know if someone is lying? The best way to spot a counterfeit is knowing what the real thing looks like. So… By studying and learning for ourselves what the truth is, we can easily know a lie when we hear it because it contradicts the truth we know.

We should also learn to recognize the very different characteristics of truth and lies. As already stated, truth has no agenda, but lies do. Lies tend to have an ensnaring quality, while the truth is liberating. Indeed, lies will trap you and put you in bondage. You have to create more lies to keep your original lie from being exposed, so you become enslaved by lies. However, truth breaks those bonds. As scripture says, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free!”


Speak truth. Know truth. Live in truth.