Everything You Know is Wrong.

may God undo all that we've done.

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Anonymous asked: Do you think your religious beliefs/ particular sect of worship are better or more correct than another sect of Christianity such as Catholicism, or even another religion, such as Islam?


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The Exorcist, Pt. 5: Flesh vs. Spirit

It’s been awhile, blogosphere, but I have returned.  Let’s do this thing.  It’s time to tackle the Satanic rule to rule them all:

#8: “Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification!”

My response is best summed up in an excerpt from a Bob Dylan song:

Stuffed cabbage is the darling
Of the Laundromat
The mouse with the overbite explained
How the rabbits were ensnared

Ooops.  Wrong song.  This is it:

Everybody’s in despair,
Every girl and boy

But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here,
Everybodys gonna jump for joy.

Screw it.  On second thought, let’s just sum it up with some Scripture.

GALATIANS 5:13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

It seems to me that the knee-jerk rejection of Christianity is based on the idea of freedom.  People like to be free.  Even the most avowed Communist longs to be wholly free.  Satanists, and particularly humanists, consider themselves free-thinkers, and they cherish this ideal above even greater ideals (namely sex & bacon).  They believe Jesus Christ represents an assault on their freedom because his evil plan is to form every human into the image of an even stiffer Mitt Romney.  And so armies of humanists, pagans, atheists, and agnostics are now taking a short break from World of Warcraft to troll the underbelly of internet forums, chat rooms, and the comments sections of Youtube videos, taking brave potshots at Christ Jesus and his supposed assault on their freedom.

From one Christian to however many Christians make up my 17 Tumblr followers, allow me to let you in on a well-kept secret: you were called to be free.  You are freer than any free-thinking atheist because you have been forgiven the debt of damnable sin.  Now you are free to be in a relationship with Jesus Christ.  

Imagine you freely murdered someone (because you are a free-thinker after all), and then you had to carry around their stinking corpse on your back forever.  Is it safe to say you would be classified a criminal in any part of the world?  Is it safe to say you wouldn’t have much luck in the intimacy department?  Is it safe to say you would not absolutely kill it in a job interview?  Could you even freely go to the grocery store?  Establish a bank account?  Make non-necrophiliac friends?

Put on pants?

Now imagine a benevolent, loving vigilante cut the corpse loose and expunged your homicidal record from the public domain.  And all that benevolent man asked in exchange was friendship.  This is the picture of salvation painted by the Scriptures.

You were called to be free, but you were called to be freely involved with Christ Jesus.  Were you more free with the corpse hanging around your neck, Creepy McCreeperson?  Or are you more free without the life-ruining, spirit-crushing, energy-draining, misery-inducing corpse?

Most people will choose to go their own way, make their choices freely, and then clumsily manage the consequences of their awful decisions.  Read through the accounts of the Hebrew kings in I&II Kings/I&II Chronicles (or just google “drunk pictures”) and you will see what I mean.  Paul calls this “living by the flesh.”  The Satanist calls this “physical, mental, and emotional self-gratification.”

It looks like this:

Gal. 5:19-21 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.

But the Christian, who “lives by the Spirit,” is filled with love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

The problem for the Christian comes down to how we live out the implications of our freedom.  Having been set free from the burden of death, how do we ensure we our living “by the Spirit?”  The answer, as always, is Jesus.

When a Christian, free to choose and free from death, freely chooses an act of the flesh, we are living like we are still slaves.  Set a slave free, and he will still retain habitual slave behaviors.  He may call former superiors “boss,” be hesitant to look people in the eye, work at his new job harder than others out of fear of punishment, etc.  Set a sinner free, and he will compulsively act like a sinner from time to time.  It’s all he has known from the day he was born.

The answer is not to look at the effects of your actions and manage the consequences.  That is legalism.  That is rule-making.  That is precisely what the free-thinking atheist thinks he is rebelling against.  In reality, it’s what Christ Jesus actually rebelled against: works of the flesh.  Religion.

“Works of the flesh” is attempting to achieve perfection apart from God.  It’s defeating alcoholism without Jesus, then boasting that you’re no longer a drunk.  Sure, you’re not a drunk, but now you’re prideful, which is the same damnable sin that got Satan thrown from Heaven and the same attitude that led you to be a drunk in the first place.

The Focus on the Family guys who still act like slaves will tell you to throw away your television.  The theologian who falls is still acting like a slave tells you the answer is to understand Calvinism/Arminianism more fully.  The social-justice-Jesus-was-a-Democrat guys will tell you to work the soup kitchen.  The prosperity gospel guys will tell you to give more money and God will bless you more.  The Pentecostals will say come down to the altar and let Benny Hinn knock you over.

But the answer is to submit to friendship with Christ Jesus.  The answer is to stop doing damage control on the effects of your destructive behavior and get at the root cause: the flesh.  Your desire to be in control.  Your “free-thinking.”  Your physical, mental, and emotional gratification.   The answer is to connect your heart, mind, will, and emotions to the Spirit of Christ Jesus.  In this, you will be transformed.

I’ll end this post on a confrontational note by asking you humanists and religious zealots alike: if you can be emotionally, physically, and mentally gratified (satiated, at peace, fulfilled) by “freely choosing,” how’s that working for you?

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Reblog: Normal Christians

We interrupt this series on “the Debbil” to bring you a guest blog from The Blazing Center’s Stephen Altrogge.  Check it.

I Think I’ll Just Be A Normal Christian From Now On

FACT: We Christians love labeling ourselves.

We’re Reformed, we’re Charismatic, we’re emergent, we’re justice seeking, we’re seeker sensitive, we’re adoptional (I don’t think that’s a word), we’re missional, we’re called to foreign missions, we’re radical, we’re Christian hedonists, we’re organic, all-natural, authentic, and label-loving. You get the point. And I have been extremely helped by so many of these categories. I’m so grateful for the push towards adoption, for Reformed theology, for Christian hedonism, and for the evangelistic emphasis of the missional minded folks.

But sometimes all the labels can be a burden to me. I’m sure the problem is totally with me and my legalistic self, but it seems like each label carries specific requirements with it. If I’m going to be missional I need to be highly focused on reaching out to my community with the gospel. If I’m going to be adoptional I need to create a community of adoption within my church and possibly adopt children myself. If I’m called to missions I need to be constantly thinking about and praying for the unreached people groups in the world. If I’m truly seeking justice I need to be making a concerted effort towards ending sex trafficking in the United States. You get the point.

There are a lot of blog posts and tweets and status updates that remind me of all that I should be doing. I need to more missional, more missions minded, more focused on the Holy Spirit, more authentic with my neighbors, more committed to the cause of adoption, more careful with my eating habits, and more  committed to ending sex trafficking in America.

And don’t get me wrong, each of these things is truly biblical. It’s right and good to reach out to the community and to adopt children and to reach the unreached people groups and to fight against horrific things like sex trafficking. But I can’t do all these things at one time with equal intensity and fervor. I’m a pretty limited guy. I’m married and I have three little girls who want to play with dollies and puzzles. I have a yard that needs mowing and a grandpa that needs visiting and people in my church who I need to pray for. I battle physical anxiety from time to time, which puts real physical limitations on what I can do. Most of the time I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above water.

So I think I might just be a normal Christian from now on. In John 15:5 Jesus said:

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

I take this to mean that if I stay close to Jesus and spend time with Jesus and have lots of Jesus’ word in me, I will produce much fruit for Jesus. I’ll do the things that Jesus wants me to do. I’ll be a truly fruitful, successful Christian. Maybe I’ll adopt kids, but maybe not. Maybe I’ll be a missionary to India, but maybe not. Maybe I’ll host a community outreach…maybe not.

If I stay close to Jesus he’ll lead me into the good works that he has prepared for me.

The reality is, the folks in my church who are the most fruitful for Christ are simply those who are closest to Christ. I think of long-term member Tim McKelvy. I don’t think he could tell you what it means to be missional but he and his wife Donna are constantly reaching out to people. I think of my 93 year-old grandfather who probably couldn’t articulate Reformed theology and yet does a Bible study at a nursing home every single month. I think of my dad, who isn’t “adoptional” and yet has adopted two kids.

I want to be like Tim and Donna and my grandpa and my dad. They’re just normal Christians who stay close to Jesus and trust Jesus to make them fruitful.

Here’s to normal.

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The Exorcist, Pt. 4: Animal House Rules For Radicals

I wish people would just be honest about the human “pursuit of happiness” and give credit where credit is due: Satan.  Satan is on your side.  When given the choice between exalting man and exalting God, he will choose you every time.  

But when it comes to exalting himself or exalting man, he will choose himself every time.  But don’t think of him like a pilot in your personal Air Force, manning his aircraft no matter how many missiles are fired at him.  Think of him as a Nascar driver, carrying your endorsements around on his car and leather jacket.  When it comes down to it, he will abandon the car so that he may live to see another trophy and bask in the glory of cold gatorade.

And in this spirit of man-worship, the next Satanic rule presents itself.

Rule #7: “Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours, who, because of his ‘divine spiritual and intellectual development,’ has become the most vicious animal of all!”

I hadn’t shaved in a month when I took this picture with iMac.

I’m not sure how that is a rule; it’s just a confusingly constructed declaration.  It acknowledges the truth that man is the only “animal” on the planet that has the capacity to love, create, critically reason, or find pleasure in the pain of hot peppers.  Satanism is also correct in stating that man is the most vicious creature on the planet.

But do you really want to go down the road of animalism?  Do you want to follow that to its logical end?  What, then, is wrong with killing and eating another human, as cannibalism happens frequently in the animal kingdom?  How about regularly having full on mating orgy onslaughts like the red garter snake?  Or peeing on stuff to claim it as your property?  Or licking yourself where the sun don’t shine?

This belief is rampant and firmly ingrained in American men.  I hear morons talk all the time about “men have needs.”  They go on the sexual prowl for women because their penis is directing their thought patterns to think of women as merely animals.  Just turn on your local rap station; the lyrics say, “F*** B*****S, GET MONEY!”

On Kanye’s forthcoming album, “Bigtym Pimpin.”

Men rarely come out and say, “WOMEN ARE JUST OBJECTS WITHOUT SOULS.  I JUST WANT TO HAVE SEX WITH THEM AND EAT THEM.”  But women call men “animals” all the time.  They truly believe the world would run smoother if the idiot cavemen would step aside and let the enlightened females set the policies, steer the ships, and crank the widgets.  If I am to believe the commercial advertising for cleaning products, then only omniscient female domestic goddesses are capable of doing the most basic household tasks because the dumb oafs they call “husband” haven’t yet figured out how to work their opposable thumbs. Teenage girls and their cougar moms lust over teenage beefcakes who turn into werewolves.  And the feminism movement pushed the demonization of men to a whole new level; women turned the sexual tables on them.  Now men could be devalued, demoralized, and used as physical gratification.

The Apostle Paul told us this would happen.  

Romans 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 

In other words- people rejected the notion that they were created in the image of God.  They eschewed the reason, logic, love, respect, mercy, and justice that only comes from being created in the likeness of Christ Jesus, and as a result they turned into the animals they idolized.  You could say Paul was prophetic, but I think he was just pointing out the pedophiles, misogynists, polygamists, and masochists in the Roman culture that surrounded him.  These were a free-thinking, democratic people, each free to worship or not worship who they pleased.  And they were turning into animals.

Scary, scary animals.

This is a Satanic belief that must be eradicated amongst believers.  It is the belief of many Christian wives that their husbands are merely idiot animals, not worthy of respect and dignity, incapable of understanding complex human emotion.  It is the belief of many Christian husbands who have treated women as animals by dialing up porn and wallowing in sexual fantasy.  Enter the 42% Christian divorce rate.

This is the Satanic belief that validates the selfishness and survival-of-the-fittest mentality of Christian girls who eat their young.  70% of all abortions in the United States are performed on women claiming the name of Christ Jesus.

It is ever important to continually place the focus of the Church on Christ Jesus, what he did, and what he is doing.  He was executed in our place to remove the wrath of God that we deserved to provide forgiveness for our animalistic sins.  Christ Jesus rose from the dead and placed his Spirit in our bodies to set us apart as his own, transform us into his image, and have us transform Earth into Heaven’s image.  He is continually shaping our attitudes and actions to be reflective of Himself.  The unrepentant, unregenerate heart will never understand the mind of God (1 Cor. 2:14).  

Christ Jesus is not an animal.  If you claim the name of Christ, but are ruled by your animal passions, I might suggest that you are indeed an animal.  And one day, Christ Jesus will speak to you like the rabid, stray dog you are: “Depart from me.  I never knew you. (Matt. 7:23)”

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Anonymous asked: So I just read teh part about people who are obese, have mental health issues, and who are gay and it's really intresting how you can say they are not " yeilding" to Jesus Christ but what I find funny is that i'm gay and i'm christian and proudly wear a cross 24/7 and people who are obese doesn't always mean that they just are yeilding to Christ but keep in mind that you don't have to be thin to be a happy peson in life.

This was a two-part question sent anonymously.  Unfortunately, I can only reply to anonymous posts publicly.  You did raise one good question by challenging me on my use of the word “bipolar” in an earlier post.  To clarify, not all people with mental illness are unyielding to Christ.  My use of the word “bipolar” was meant to describe a person who is emotionally unstable and cognisant of the sin.  But now, on to the questions.

So I just read teh part about people who are obese, have mental health issues, and who are gay and it’s really intresting how you can say they are not ” yeilding” to Jesus Christ but what I find funny is that i’m gay and i’m christian and proudly wear a cross 24/7 and people who are obese doesn’t always mean that they just are yeilding to Christ but keep in mind that you don’t have to be thin to be a happy peson in life.

First of all- let’s start here.  Do you love me?  Are your questions, as a Christian, motivated by love?  If not, there is no point in this discourse transpiring.  There is no love in debate.  I have made a decision to love the Body of Christ by teaching Scripture, and I have made the decision to love you in my choice of words, tone, and honesty in my response.

So “how can [I] can say” the obese, the emotionally unstable, and the homosexual are not yielding to Christ?  Because Scripture says it.  If you are a Christian, then you were purchased by the shed blood of Christ, and the same power that rose Jesus Christ from the grave is in your body.  As 2 Corinthians 3 puts it, that is a power that literally transforms you into the image of Christ Jesus.  The point of Salvation is not to save your soul.  That happens in the process, but it is not the point.  The point of Salvation is not to make you happy.  There is literally nothing in Scripture that would give you the idea that God would bankrupt Heaven of His Son and let us murder him in cold blood so that you could be happy.  When you think about it- that’s just selfish and ridiculous.  It’s about transforming you into Christ, and you transforming the fallen world into His Kingdom.

Continueing on, Mental health patients either develop or are born with the defect so just because someone is that way why do you think that they don’t go to church or believe in Christ? Not only am I gay and perfectly happy in myy life right now, ,at my church there3 are people who are blind, suffer from ADHD, people who are homeless, mentally ill, and who suffer from bi polar disorder so to basically say people with disorders don’t ” yeild” to Christ is just a very arrogant statement.

I would never say that there are no gay, fat, or mentally ill Christians.  I am saying that Jesus Christ is not gay, fat, or emotionally volatile/abusive (three very distinctly sinful and self-indulgent behaviors).  You’ve been called to be holy in all your ways because you’ve been called to be transformed into Jesus.  Do you think it is arrogant of Jesus to demand that?

Have I said anything unScriptural?  If you claim to be a Christian, then you must be taking offense that I have mischaracterized the Gospel or distorted the Scriptures.  If you are just offended because you just have different ideas about life/the world, then you might want to take a second look at the Scriptures and compare it to what you believe.

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The Exorcist, PT. 3: More Rules for Radicals

I recently got a feisty email from Hell’s webmaster, XXXbelieber4lyfeXXX, informing me that his Nigerian family needs my help and that I should send $1000 for them to invest in a lottery scam.  He also insisted that I retract some lies I allegedly told about Satan.  His main objection was that Satan is not directly responsible for the tenets of Satanism. Satan, according to Mr. Belieber4lyfe, does not demand that Satanists worship him.  He actually makes it perfectly clear that he is far more invested in men than they are in him.

Direct quote from Satan:  "I’m here on the ground with my nose in it since the whole thing began. I’ve nurtured every sensation man’s been inspired to have. I cared about what he wanted and I never judged him. Why? Because I never rejected him. In spite of all his imperfections, I’m a fan of man! I’m a humanist. Maybe the last humanist."

Satan is handsome, by the way.

It is important to understand, as we continue to examine humanism through the lens of Satanism, that Satan is pro-man.  Given a choice between exalting God or exalting man, Satan will choose man every time because it serves his God-belittling purposes.  But a cursory reading through John 10 will give you a clear understanding that he cares nothing for the well-being of man.  If God is the proprietor whose life-savings is invested in the business of your well-being, Satan is at best a hired hand who will drop you like third period French to save his own hide.

And I’m sure the Satanists would understand if he did.  Humans, after all, have learned that same behavior of self-preservation from him.  Satanists encapsulated that spirit into a religion (or anti-religion).  The Christian Church, on the other hand, flatly rejects any sort of Satan worship.  But that doesn’t mean we haven’t made the Satanic rules the building blocks of average human relationships.  It’s just normal.  Consider the next three Satanic rules:

4. Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it instead of love wasted on ingrates!  This is the “screw ‘em!” reflex that we all react to when we feel as if we have suffered injustice.  It’s what drives you to invest your time into shallow friendships rather than finding ways to love your demanding, hard-to-please family.  It’s what drives you to write off challenging, accountable relationships as “too difficult” and spend your time with yes-men and sycophants.  The truth of the matter is that nobody deserves kindness; every Medal of Honor recipient, Gandhi, and the Pope deserve mortal and spiritual death, destruction, misery, and eternal separation from the glory of Christ Jesus because humanity’s sinful nature makes us enemies of God.  The Gospel says that, in the ultimate act of kindness, Jesus took all the death, destruction, and misery of God’s wrath that we deserved upon himself.  And in response to what Christ Jesus has done for us, we cannot help but do the same.  1 John 3:16 puts it like this: “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”  Then, in verse 17, John throws down the gauntlet: “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”  He just comes out and says it- if you show no kindness to those who need it the most, you do not know God.  Shave your head, grow a creepy mustache, and throw your lot in with the Satanists.

The founder of Satanism- not so handsome.

5. Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek!
Are you in the freaking Justice League or something?  I guess I could give you Scripture here about “JUSTICE IS MINE SAYETH THE LOOORD,” but first- on a practical level- who are you to dish out life/death sentences?  On what/whose/whattheheck’s moral authority do you stand?  If I cut you off in traffic, are you responsible for determining the proper level of punishment for every perceived grievance?  Should you ram the back of my car, punch holes in my tires when I finally park, or worse yet slap a “Kerry/Edwards 2004” sticker on my back windshield?  If I offend you, do you give me the silent treatment, post photoshopped naked pictures of me on facebook, or freaking shoot me down in cold blood?  The only practical AND Scriptural answer is to leave room for Jesus, the ultimate authority, to repay evil.  In the end, Jesus rides up on a horse, pulls a sword out of his mouth, decapitates all his enemies, and feeds them to birds anyway (Revelation 19).  You can’t top that anyway.

I chose a silly pic because the real thing is too effing scary.

6. Satan represents responsibility to the responsible instead of concern for psychic vampires!  I actually don’t think Scripture wholly disagrees with this sentiment; Christ does not call you to have unhealthy relationships with parasites.  But extract Christ from this Satanic statement and take the sentiment to its logical end- should fathers and mothers abandon their irresponsible children?  Should we give up on teaching young bachelor idiots in the Church who genuinely love Jesus to be conscientious, capable decision makers?  No, and no.  Just keep Christ in the equation and you can’t go wrong, folks.

The final three rules are coming atcha, folks.

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The Exorcist, PT. 2: Rules for Radicals

Since I was on the subject, I decided to go snooping around the Church of Satan website.  I came to a few conclusions:

1.  They have a really outdated website.  Literally, it’s a Geocities template from 2002.  Either aesthetics aren’t that important, they don’t have much money in the general fund for a redesign, or potential Satanists are just really easy to impress.

Apparently Satan can’t work Photoshop.

2.  ”Satanist” is just another term for “humanist.”

On their hilarious corner of the web I found the rules for Satanists.  I was hoping the list would include the phrases “sex sacrifice,” “spider venom cocktail,” and “cannibal penis machine gun.”  All I found was the standard operating procedure for basic human behavior.  Seriously.  The religion of Satanism has encapsulated the easiest possible way to live into nine simple rules, all of which are second nature to your standard angry, jilted, selfish, emotional wreck of a person.  And the Body of Christ has let this vile garbage seep into our theology.

Here are the first three rules:

1.  Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence.  Plainly put, do what feels good.  This sentiment is so deeply embedded into American thought that we have a hundred cute phrases for it- Follow your heart.  Seize the day.  Life life to the fullest.  Believe in your dreams.  Blah blah blah.  This is not the Gospel, though we do treat it that way.  DO NOT believe in your dreams, because you probably dreamed about having an upside down tea party with a race of talking caterpillars on Jupiter.  DO NOT follow your heart because your heart is corrupt.  Following your heart will leave you thrice divorced, looking for the “perfect spouse,” or the “one who got away,” or the “one who was meant to be.”  Following your heart left you penniless college student with 12 years of college, 7 changes of major, mountains of debt, and no degree.  Following your heart led you to kill Jesus.  The only hope for you and the rest of mankind is to fall in love with Jesus; that way you will follow the desires of his heart- a heart that has dreamed bigger and better things for you than you can imagine.

2.  Satan represents vital existence rather than spiritual pipe dreams.  Satanism/humanism says, “invest your life in the 70 years you get here on Earth, because this is all you get.”  Some people think Heaven is pie-in-the-sky, and a vital existence is bowing to every urge; they only obey their appetites.  Sexually frustrated?  You just need to sleep with a stranger and scratch that itch (though you may get another sexually transmitted itch later on).  Career got you feeling helpless and pushed around?  Grab a bottle of Wild Turkey, get absolutely plastered, decimate your liver, do 100 things you’ll hate yourself for later, and alienate a bunch of people- but feel like superman for a night!  In Philippians 3, the Apostle Paul calls these people “enemies of the Cross whose destiny is destruction.”  He says “our citizenship is in Heaven,” meaning we should live as though we are from there.  Americans act like Americans.  French people retain their Frenchness.  Christians should act as Christ Jesus does.  A citizen of Heaven finds that to be second nature, and a “vital existence.”  A citizen of Heaven lives that way because they are Heavenly by nature, not because they are hoping to eat a pie in the sky.  By the way, a pie in the sky seems like a rather disappointing depiction of Heaven (unless we can have a serious conversation about what exactly is in that pie).


3.  Satan represents undefiled wisdom instead of hypocritical self-deceit.  Well congratulations Satanists.  You finally got something right.  Undefiled wisdom is a fine goal, but humans are idiots.  Ladies and gents, I give you Flava Flav.  Therein lies the rub: humans never come to good conclusions out of undefiled wisdom.  Human wisdom has given us legally safeguarded and federally funded abortion while protecting the sanctity of turtle eggs.  Human wisdom is always defiled.  The Christian must keep in mind that “ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ Jesus (Col. 2:3).”  James 3 says that human wisdom is motivated by “envy and selfish ambition,” and undefiled wisdom breeds humility.  You are an idiot.  You are not capable of making consistently sound decisions.  Christ is.  His wisdom is “first of all pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy, and good fruit, impartial and sincere (James 3:17).”

More rules to come.

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The Exorcist, PT. 1

I’ve always been puzzled by the concept of exorcism.  I understand why the public is obsessed with the idea: it is scary as hell.  It makes for good movies.  It makes Christians look even crazier than we already appear, and nonbelievers lap that kind of stuff up.  But it’s always seemed like a distraction.  But Christians, I speak to you when I ask, ‘Why are we so enamored with the idea of the devil manifesting himself in a person when he is so entrenched in everything?”  So I’m gonna freaking do a series on the devil.  And I don’t care how hooky-spooky-uber-evangelical I sound.  The fact is, I believe he is real, and I believe he wants us all dead.  And I don’t need the power of the Vatican or a super-soaker full of holy water to do it, but I aim to exorcise the demonic influence of the Devil from the Body of Christ.

                    -hopefully this is the last exorcism movie. it’s getting old.

Before Jesus got beamed up to Heaven, his disciples were better-equipped to do the work of the ministry than any seminary graduate, Doctor of Theology, monk, or evangelist in history.  They had more knowledge about God than the pope; they actually knew God.  The very same God who painstakingly handcrafted the universe and breathed life into humanity shared a bucket of chicken with them every night.  They had more hands-on, practical ministry experience than any missionary that has ever wandered through Amazon rain forest in search of some godless cannibals to convert.  

But some of these very same disciples were useless to the cause of Christ because Satan had snuck his way into the unguarded corners of their hearts.  Take a look at Matthew 16.  When Jesus warned them about his coming execution on a cross, Peter tells Jesus to stop being such a downer and contends that there must be another way to establish the Kingdom of God.

Jesus angrily exclaims, “Get behind me, Satan.”  Now if you read that, and said to yourself, “Why would he call him ‘Stan?’” then you are dyslexic, and you should get that checked out.  Or your name is actually “Stan,” and as usual, you casually misread it.  But Jesus didn’t call him “Stan.”  He called him, “Satan,” and rightly accuses Peter of being obsessed only with human concerns and not with the Kingdom.

     -This Stan might actually be the devil.

We hesitate to label anything that isn’t akin to axe murder or child pornography as Satanic, so why would Jesus call him Satan?  Simple.  Any attempt to keep Jesus from the cross is Satanic.  

Peter, in that moment, was a soldier for the advancement of religious bondage.  He was insisting that there was another way to establish the Kingdom of God besides the sacrifice of Jesus.  In effect, he was arguing for the same burdensome curse that mankind had suffered under since the fall of Adam: religion.  He insisted that Jesus did not have to die because Heaven could come to Earth by the works of man.  That, my friends, is called religion.  And religion is Satanic.

If Jesus Christ does not offer himself up to be emptied of every last drop of blood and human dignity, then religion lives.  The suffocating bondage of living up to rules, tenets, and checklists lives.  The manipulation of your emotions by clergymen and charlatans lives.  The uncertainty of your worth, the instability of your mind, and denigration of your will to live… lives on.

If Jesus doesn’t go to the cross, we all end up in hell.  That’s why Satan loves religion, because people that love religion are miserable and will spend eternity in Hell.

So when you feel as if you have to measure up to a set of rules, Jesus recognizes its destructiveness and calls that Satanic.  There are no more rules to follow.  When you spend your life angling to become a “good person,” Jesus sees how it robs you of all life and calls that Satanic.  There are no good people or bad people; there are only repentant bad people and unrepentant bad people.  When you feel like God is punishing you for something you did wrong, Jesus pinpoints the perverse deceitfulness and calls that Satanic.  All punishment for sin has been exacted on Christ Jesus.

In the end, filter all of your thoughts and decisions through this: If it is about Jesus and what he has done, it is good.  If it is about you and what you are doing, it is Satanic.  There is no other litmus test you need.

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Rethinking the Gospel

Got this from Frank Viola’s blog.  Read behind this guy.  He has a way of refocusing the Body of Christ on what is actually in the Scriptures instead of encouraging us to waste our time on theological rabbit trails.

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The Ungodly God, Pt. III

God doesn’t need godly Christians, because Jesus is not very godly.  We established that in the last two posts.  So what is the essence of being a Christian if not to do godly things like gather with other godly people, elect godly politicians, listen to godly music, and give to godly charities?  Answer: love God, and love people.

 When I drive around Atlanta, I regularly listen to Dennis Prager, a nationally syndicated conservative radio talk show host.  Yesterday, he was challenging the conventional wisdom that unconditional love is a virtue.  And, because I enjoy having people in traffic give me curious stares, I argued with his logic out loud.

The conversation went like this:

DP: “The concept of unconditional love is a relatively new one.”

Me: Yeah, it’s only about 2000 years old.

DP: “I’m not sure who came up with it.”

Me: I’m fairly certain it was an obscure Jewish philosopher named Jesus.  Don’t feel bad if you don’t know about it- I think I happened to hear it on Jeopardy.

DP: “It’s unhealthy for everyone involved.  It’s quite dangerous.”

Me: “This guy really gets it.”

DP: “You expect me to think that a wife should love her husband no matter how lazy and stupid he is?”

Me: “That’s the idea, Dennis.”

DP: “And that a father should love his children no matter how awful, disrespectful, and disobedient they are?”

Me: “Uh-huh.”

DP: “If we believe God loves us no matter what we do, what would motivate us to be on our best behavior at all times?”

Me: “Wait a second.  Maybe you don’t get it.”

DP: “I am familiar with no biblical basis for the notion that God loves us no matter how much cruelty and evil we engage in.”

Me: “OK, we are definitely at odds here.  Go back to talking about politics so we can agree again.”

Here’s all the Biblical basis you need: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  I’ll let the theologians do their circular-firing-squad thing over “does-God-really-love-everyone,” but Scripture cannot be clearer that his love is not predicated by our good behavior.  If you’re a Calvinist, you are loved because God chose to love you.  If you’re an Arminian, you are loved… because God chose to love you.  You can’t sweep the Creator of the Universe off his feet by sending him flowers and asking him to prom.  Calvinists win this round.

 A merely godly person has a Dennis Prager kind of love.  They only repay kindness for kindness.  They give money to charities that make them feel warm and fuzzy.  They are wives that work to stay attractive to their husbands only if he always mows the grass and buys them jewelry.  They are husbands that only mow the grass and buy jewelry only if they find their wives attractive.

It sounds like an awful and injurious notion until you consider it’s exactly what Lord Jesus requires of his disciples.  Jesus has always known that love, as humans generally define it, is a wild goose chase back to yourself and your misguided pursuit of happiness.  So Jesus made it very clear who the object of love should be: “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matt. 22:37).”

There is one conspicuously absent person from that list- you.  As part of the Jesus revolution, you are to have little concern for yourself.  Love God, and love people.  You are not on the list.  Just pursue the glory of God and the well-being of other people. 

Dennis Prager would ask, “Where does this stop?  The next thing you know, these delusional psychos will be dying for their enemies!  This is deranged, self-neglectful behavior.”  To which I would respond: exactly.  And then I would ask the same question of the Christians who subscribe to this school of thought: “Where does your self-interest stop?”

If you feel sufficiently unloved, do you quit your marriage?  Do you give up on your problematic child?  Do you surround yourself only with sycophant yes-men?  Do you only feed a starving, AIDS-infested orphan if they offer to first shine your shoes, pick up your laundry, and cook you an egg sandwich? 

Those actions reflect only on the capricious natures of false gods like Allah, Zeus, Ishtar, Thor, Anubis, and Krishna.  Self-interest does not reflect on the self-sacrifice and vulnerability of our God.  Jesus has called us to gather all the passionate, neurotic love we reserve for ourselves and expend it on others.  And if you are part of a Christian community, someone else will be wasting their love on you.

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:35)