Have you ever wondered how the big banks make such enormous mountains of money? Well, the truth is that much of it is made by gambling recklessly. If they win on their bets, they become fabulously wealthy. If they lose on their bets, they know that the government will come in and arrange for the banks to be bailed out because they are “too big to fail”. Either they will be bailed out by the government using our tax dollars, or as we just witnessed in Cyprus, they will be allowed to “recapitalize” themselves by stealing money directly from our bank accounts. So if they win, they win big. If they lose, someone else will come in and clean up the mess. This creates a tremendous incentive for the bankers to “go for it”, because there is simply not enough pain in this equation for those that are taking the risks. If the big Wall Street banks had been allowed to collapse back in 2008, that would have caused a massive change of behavior on Wall Street. But instead, the big banks are still recklessly gambling with our money as if the last financial crisis never even happened. In the end, the reckless behavior of these big banks is going to cause the entire global financial system to collapse. (Read More….)
Excerpted from Suburbianity (Harvest House Publishers, 2013)
Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did (1 Corinthians 10:6).
We do the weirdest things to the Bible in the absence of the cohesive theme of redemption. No other book is treated so recklessly by people who honor that same book so greatly. Among our favorite rewrites are character sketches. Character studies are a staple of popular Christianity. We use the above exhortation of Paul to the Corinthians to justify such a translation. Almost universally we believe that Paul’s point is to encourage our pursuit of the moral character of fallen human beings. We seem to forget the fact that the example he offers was one to be avoided.
Despite this we like to examine the lives of Old Testament saints—triumphs and tragedies alike—and offer various patterns for living. Almost everyone assumes this is the very reason the Old Testament saints show up in the biblical record. Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, and Deborah have all come to represent examples to live by (or not to). What else could be the reason for the focus on their lives? Therefore we mine them for spiritual and moral principles. Sermons are preached and books are written about their lives and offered as blueprints for daily life, success in business, or practical decision-making skills.
Every Sunday kids sit in Sunday school classes, look at flannel boards or snip at construction paper with safety scissors, and learn how these ancient figures are examples of faithfulness or failure. The consistent message is, be like them and life will work out better. Or don’t be like them and life will work out better. Work harder, make good decisions, and stay out of trouble like Joseph, and God will bless you.
When these same kids reach their early twenties, struggle with real life, and fail to reach Joseph’s moral high ground, they despair. They can’t do it. Joseph was exceptional. They get angry with God when life does not work out according to the coloring pages. Eventually they find Christianity irrelevant and powerless to save them, and they walk away.
They’re exactly right—Joseph is powerless to save them. We’re creating angry moralists, setting them up for failure, and blaming it on the Bible. Tragically, the one message that actually could save them from their failure was before us in the story of Joseph the entire time. We failed to mention it. Families would run from our children’s programs if parents knew the effect our Bible lessons are having on their kids.
This approach to understanding this amazing book could not push us further from the real message and central character of the Bible. I know this sounds ridiculous to most of us and maybe even sacrilegious to some, but it should be obvious. The Bible is about Jesus, not Moses or any other biblical figure. The point of Moses is not Moses, but the one to whom Moses points. The Bible explicitly argues this very thing.
Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. (Hebrews 3:1-4).
The individual characters in the Bible don’t show up because anything about them was particularly significant. In fact, most were chosen because they were insignificant. Significance is reserved for Jesus.
The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt (Deuteronomy 7:7-8).
More importantly, each one of these people points to the universal need for the person of Jesus. Abraham proves that all of us need someone to save us because Abraham himself needed Jesus as much as Bill does. Regardless of how faithful Abraham was (and he was not especially faithful), faith in Abraham will not save anyone. Regardless of how great David’s victories were (his failures were greater), he could not gain the victory over your sin. Regardless of how committed Joseph was (he did not set out to save Egypt and Israel from famine), he could not deliver us from the plague of our depravity. Daniel’s devotion could not save us from our lack of it.
None of these people could save themselves. They were all losers like the rest of us. Sinful, broken, train wrecks whose bright spots were the rare exceptions of their lives. If you don’t see it this way, you will never get the Bible. You will always think the point is to pattern your life after other sinful people. This creates a desperate loop of existence. You will always read the potential of your own life into the story.
God chose these people not because they were special, but because they weren’t. They are just like the rest of us. Broken.
Abraham is you. Accept it
According to Bible prophecy, a one-world religion that will offer the promise of peace throughout the world is going to commence prior to Christ’s return. To most, this global body will seem like a wonderful thing and very possibly will be a pseudo-Christianity (coming in the name of “Christ”); however, contrary to how the masses will view it, it will actually help establish and set up the antichrist and his one- world government.
In order for this to happen, all religions must come together in an ecumenical plan.
The real vocation of some people entrusted with delivering primary and secondary education is to validate this proposition: The three R’s — formerly reading, ’riting and ’rithmetic — now are racism, reproduction and recycling. Especially racism. Consider Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction. It evidently considers “instruction” synonymous with “propaganda,” which in the patois of progressivism is called “consciousness-raising.”
I wasn’t one of the privileged few who got to pre-screen the History Channel’s miniseries, The Bible, but I thought a retrospective word about the series might be useful for those who didn’t get a chance to watch. Here are a few of my observations, first positive, then negative, in no particular order:
Read More Here . . .
Phil Robertson, one of the shaggy-bearded stars of the hit reality TV series “Duck Dynasty,” used to get mistaken for a homeless man. He said he was even singled out once at an airport for a security search and wands went “places my woman hasn’t been in years.”
These days, though, the patriarch of a family of duck hunters-turned-millionaires is more likely to get stopped by strangers who want autographs or pictures.
You think God can’t use you? You think you’re not good enough? You think your past disqualifies you to serve God?
Think again. Look at some of the people God used in the Bible:
Moses stuttered. David’s armor didn’t fit. John Mark was rejected by Paul. Timothy had ulcers. Hosea’s wife was a prostitute. Amos’ only training was in the school of fig-tree pruning. Jacob was a liar. David had an affair. Solomon was too rich. Abraham was too old. David was too young. Peter was afraid of death. Lazarus was dead. John was self-righteous. Naomi was a widow. Paul was a murderer. So was Moses. Jonah ran from God. Sarah laughed at God. Miriam was a gossip. Gideon and Thomas both doubted. Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal. Elijah was burned out. John the Baptist was a loudmouth. Martha was a worry-wart. Mary was lazy. Samson slept with a prostitute. Noah got drunk. Did I mention that Moses had a short fuse? So did Peter, Paul – well, lots of folks did.
During a radio interview I was asked why so many Bible characters had serious flaws. My answer was simple. That’s all God has to work with. All the perfect people are in heaven. The only ones on earth are the folks with serious weaknesses. The talent pool has always been pretty thin when it comes to moral perfection. God works with sinners because that’s all he has to work with. In heaven we will all be vastly improved–perfected by God’s grace. But until then, he uses some pretty ornery people who fall short in many ways, and he does some amazing things through them.
You think God can’t use you? Think again.
Coming Up: Following God’s Will How do you know you’re following God’s will? Like any Christian, I’m sure you’re concerned about glorifying God in the decisions you make, even in the routine decisions you make every day. But if discovering God’s will seems perplexing to you, you’re going to find this new blog series illuminating. Read more…
How Do I Find God’s Will? How do I find God’s Will? It’s a question you’ve probably heard—and asked—many times. The subject comes up frequently in our discussions. As Christians, we want to know and follow God’s will in every sphere of our lives. Whether it’s enrolling in college, pursuing a relationship, choosing a career, or purchasing a home, we often fear making the wrong choices—and missing out on God’s best. But God’s will isn’t hard to find; in fact, it’s never been lost. John MacArthur explains . . .
The Vital First Step in Following God’s Will Tragically, many people groping around in the dark for God’s will miss the vital first step and never recover. In fact, darkness is a good analogy for their condition. Jesus said men love darkness rather than light, and that’s exactly where they remain when they refuse His offer of salvation—in darkness. So, if you’re confused, frustrated and, well, in the dark when it comes to God’s will, take a look at John MacArthur’s sermon today. He’ll shed some light on the issue . . .
Control Do you know what controls you? In other words, what fills, and further what dominates your thinking? For some, it’s a consuming relationship or addictive form of entertainment like video games or Facebook. For others, maybe it’s health, education, or even a career. Join John MacArthur in Ephesians 5, and find out how what controls you is essential in following God’s will.
Get Sanctified! In terms of its depravity, America is beginning to look like ancient Rome as it plunges into new depths of sexual immorality. Fornication, adultery, homosexuality, pornography, even pedophilia and other perversions, pervade the United States. And though we live in a nation obsessed with sex, we’re called to live sanctified lives of sexual purity. That is God’s will, clearly revealed. Here’s John to talk more about it…
Get Sanctified! (a footnote) In our last post, John narrowed the scope of his comments to sanctification in the sexual arena. The most immediate reason for his focus is because that’s the subject of the text he was preaching, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8…and for good reason.
Submission Submitting to authority is one of the single most effective ways you can make the gospel attractive. And even though submission is clearly the will of God, too many Christians seem to think it’s optional. That’s a reproach to the gospel, the church, and the Lord Himself. It’s God’s will that we lead peaceful, quiet lives, submit to the laws of the land, and be a blessing to church leadership. We are to submit. That is God’s will. Here’s John MacArthur to explain…
It’s God’s Will That You Suffer for Righteousness’ Sake It’s God’s will that you suffer…for righteousness’ sake. Though every Christian would affirm that statement, people interpret it in a number of different ways. For some, it’s doing ministry in an inner-city homeless shelter. For others, it’s absorbing whatever comments your critics make about your ministry methodology—e.g., the mega-church or multi-site pastor who gets called out for franchising his brand. Still others completely ignore the issue of righteousness and godliness. For them, suffering is doing something radical, something crazy, unpopular, even shocking. Is that what God wants? Crazy suffering? Or should we interpret suffering from a more biblical paradigm? Here’s John MacArthur to answer that question…
Suffer or Compromise? The Great Collision When you strive to live a godly life in Christ Jesus, you will be persecuted, you will suffer. That’s a promise right out of God’s Word (2 Tim. 3:12). And while history validates that truth, it also captures another tragic reality—you can mitigate your suffering for Christ with little or no effort. Just compromise. Here’s John MacArthur to explain…
God Wants You to Give Thanks, Part 1 Well, Thanksgiving came and went. Did your gratitude last beyond your afternoon nap? For many, that’s the extent of their thanksgiving—a one-time, get-it-out-of-the-way holiday that reminds them to reflect on how blessed they are. Too often and too quickly, people resort back to being ingrates. But God wills us to be thankful all the time, in all things. That’s His will. Are you following it?
God Wants You to Give Thanks, Part 2 Pray, read your Bible, go to church, share the gospel, obey your parents. Recognize that list? It’s the answer you’re likely to get when asking the question—What does God want me to do? That centers on your actions, which is good…but what about your attitudes? Does God care about those?
Delight Yourself in the Lord (and Do Whatever You Want!) “Love God and do as you please.” That famous quote from St. Augustine has far outlived its author, but not everyone views it favorably. Some see his bluntness as irresponsible, possibly dangerous. But Augustine has solid ground to stand on. Thousands of years earlier, another theologian by the name of David said this, “Delight Yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4). Both are true. Watch, as John MacArthur explains…
Follow God’s Will (and never mind the mystery) Like the dripping of water over centuries, the persistent influence of charismatic theology over many decades seems to have whittled away and reshaped the evangelical commitment to the sufficiency of Scripture. Perhaps other forces are at work as well—secularism, consumerism, multi-culturalism—but modern evangelicals seem less willing to confine themselves to the 66 books of the canon…