VIDEO The Investigator

Dec 29, 2016

The Investigator. PG-13. Drama. Family. Sports.

The Investigator follows the life of James Buanacore (Wade Williams), a 20-year veteran of the police department. After a drug bust gone wrong, the resulting media circus forces James into early retirement. With his faith barely hanging on by a thread, he takes a job as a criminal justice teacher and baseball coach at a local Christian high school leading him to the most important investigation of his life.

Advertisements

Don’t Put Your Light Under A Basket

shutterstock_252369577

 

Whenever I hear Christian leaders talk about the inevitable collapse of the church of America (or elsewhere) I ask myself, “But hasn’t Jesus risen from the dead? Didn’t He ascend to the right hand of the Father? Hasn’t all authority in heaven and earth been given to Him? And aren’t we commanded to go and make disciples in His name and by His authority?”

If so, how then we can speak of any inevitable collapse of the church (or, specifically, of Christian society), regardless of how inevitable that collapse appears to human eyes?

I therefore differ strongly with conservative journalist Rod Dreher who has written that, “The culture war that began with the Sexual Revolution in the 1960s has now ended in defeat for Christian conservatives. . . . Don’t be fooled: the upset presidential victory of Donald Trump has at best given us a bit more time to prepare for the inevitable” (my emphasis; from his new book The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation).

The culture war has hardly “ended” and there is nothing “inevitable” about the collapse of Christian society in America, although, without question, the patient is mortally ill and in need of radical surgery and rehabilitation. But the heart is still beating, there are millions of committed believers throughout the land, prayers are ascending to heaven 24/7 for another great awakening, and it’s actually possible that America’s best days are still ahead, regardless of how bleak things look right now (and without a doubt, they look very, very bleak). Are not all things possible to him or her who believes?

What makes today’s spiritual pessimism all the more galling is that, in my view, the biggest reason for America’s current moral and spiritual decline is the backslidden, unengaged, carnal state of the much of the church. In other words, America is messed up because the church has been messed up, because we who profess faith in Jesus have all too often been superficial in our commitment, as a result of which the world has changed us rather than us changing the world.

When it comes to the mainline denominations, in many instances there has been a wholesale departure from the authority of Scripture and the lordship of Jesus, leading to the abandonment of our moral compass.

When it comes to evangelical Christians, we have often preached a narcissistic, “what’s in it for me” gospel, a self-centered message that bypasses the cross and calls for virtually no sacrifice or service, a message that empowers the sinner rather than transforms the sinner, leading to “Christian” rappers who talk about Jesus in the midst of profanity-laced rants (all while still getting high, going to strip clubs, and partying), and to “Christian” models and actresses who strip down in the most seductive poses, simply because it’s part of their job – and I assure you they can find big churches in America who will welcome them with open arms and celebrate their “liberty” in Jesus. (It’s one thing to welcome the worst of sinners into our midst with open arms and without condemnation; it’s another thing to celebrate carnality and compromise.)

Little wonder that the rest of the public is so confused. After all, the church is supposed to function as the conscience of the nation.

When it comes to social issues like abortion and homosexuality, the vast majority of Christian conservatives in our country have no almost regular engagement with women having abortions and engage in very little compassionate outreach to those who identify as LGBT. As for those of us who do get involved in social issues, we tend to do it politically, looking to the government (especially the Republican Party) to fix things, as if passing a law alone would “fix” the desecration of life or reverse the breakdown of the family.

In that regard, Dreher is quite right in urging us not to put our trust in the political system, and I wholeheartedly affirm his conclusion: “We are going to have to change our lives, and our approach to life, in radical ways. In short, we are going to have to be the church, without compromise, no matter what it costs” (his emphasis).

But being the church means heeding the words of Jesus, who calls us out of the world when it comes to participating in sin but into the world when it comes to fulfilling our mission, which is to shine like lights in dark places, to boldly proclaim the message of redemption, to reach out to hurting and suffering sinners, to make a difference in the communities in which we are planted, and to stand for truth and righteousness “without compromise, no matter what it costs.”

After all, we’re here as the Lord’s ambassadors, declaring the gospel to a dying world, and if we back down and retreat, who will reach this generation with the good news?

But to say, “We’ve failed so far so let’s concede the war” is like a coach saying to his team at halftime, “We hardly played at all in that first half, which is why we’re way behind, so let’s quit now before it gets worse.” To the contrary, he sounds a loud wakeup call, urging his team to play like never before, since the rest of the game is still ahead.

As theologian Douglas Wilson said, “I am against surrendering in any case, but I am really against surrendering before the battle is really joined.”

The solution, then, is not to retreat into some kind of monastic refuge but rather to repent of our sins, to give ourselves afresh to the Lord, and to let our light shine before an onlooking, skeptical, and mocking world. That is the gospel way.

In the words of Jesus, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16; for further scriptural exhortations, see here).

I’m all for separating ourselves from the pollution of the world as much as possible. (At one point, 95 percent of the families in my home congregation homeschooled their children, and for many years of our marriage, Nancy and I chose not to have a TV in our house; I have other friends who live in shared community, while still others have left business and careers to serve and live among the poorest of the poor.) At the same time, I am not for withdrawing from our calling to go into the world and touch the lost.

By all means, then, let us live with a sense of holy urgency (after all, we’re here for a moment and then gone, with eternity ahead of us), and let us make a fresh, complete, and uncompromising commitment to our Lord. But let us stand up, not shrink back, raising our voices for the world to hear and living our lives for the world to see. And if America is determined to go to hell, then let it go to hell over our dead bodies.

As Charles H. Spurgeon famously said, “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”

To our knees, then, in holistic repentance, and to our feet, in wholehearted obedience. This generation desperately needs the message of new life in Jesus – the message you and I have. Don’t hide it under basket!

http://barbwire.com/2017/03/20/dont-put-light-basket/

In Search of Wholeness

John 6:26-35

God created His people to be comfortable in their own skin. In spiritual terms, humans are designed to experience peace, joy, and contentment. But many people go through life feeling fragmented and empty. They are searching for a person or philosophy that will satisfy their hunger for meaning, but they end up experiencing only dissatisfaction.

In the fourth chapter of John, Jesus talked with a Samaritan woman who was clearly feeling incomplete and disillusioned (John 4:7-30). Attempting to fill her life with the love of a man, she’d had five failed marriages and was presently involved in a sinful relationship. This woman had dipped her bucket repeatedly into the well of human love to get the acceptance that she hoped would make her whole. But each experience left her thirsty. Standing before Jesus, she was a broken soul and social outcast.

People throughout history have been drinking from false wells. One of Satan’s greatest deceptions involves convincing a person that happiness and fulfillment can be found only by getting enough love, success, revenge, etc. But it’s easy to recognize the devil’s lie—all it takes is a look at the many who try to satisfy their emptiness through unhealthy habits and unsafe attitudes.

The truth is that only a relationship with Jesus Christ can make a person whole. From Him comes living water that quenches thirst forever. This means He meets our every need in this life. In a world marred by sin, we will not have a perfect existence, but through Christ, we can expect to live with a sense of deep satisfaction.

His Word Is with Power

“And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.” (Luke 4:32)

God’s words, whether spoken by Jesus or written in Scripture, are indeed full of power, and it is noteworthy how many and varied are the physical analogies used to characterize and emphasize its power.

For example, consider Jeremiah 23:29. “Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” The fire analogy is also stressed in Jeremiah 20:9, when the prophet became weary of the negative reaction against his preaching: “Then I said, I will not . . . speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.”

God’s Word is also called a sharp sword wielded by the Holy Spirit. As part of the Christian’s spiritual armor, we are exhorted to take “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

Even more significantly, perhaps, it is compared to light, for light energy is really the most basic of all forms of energy, or power. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light to my path.” “The entrance of thy words giveth light” (Psalm 119:105, 130). The first spoken words of Christ our Creator were “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3).

But no earthly form of power can compare to the power in the words of the One who is Himself the living Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, for He is actually “upholding all things by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3). HMM

“The Lord heareth you murmurings.”

Exodus 15:22-27

Exodus 15:22

Their first trouble was too much water, the second is too little; our trials are of all kinds.

Exodus 15:23

This was tantalizing, they had water, but could not drink it.

Exodus 15:25, 26

God has provided remedies for all ills, sweetening trees for bitter waters, and the cross to sweeten all.

Exodus 15:27

It is not all rough work with pilgrims to Canaan, they have their pleasant seasons. Let them thank God for them.

Exodus 16:1-10

Exodus 16:1

It was strange that God should lead two millions of people into a desert, but wisdom directed his course. Strange providences are gracious providences.

Exodus 16:2

With shameful readiness they ran to a low-minded form of complaining. There was no spirit in them. The flesh pots and the bread were all they thought of; the brick-making and the whips they overlooked. It is easy to make out the past to have been bright when we wish to find fault with the present.

Exodus 16:4-5

Our mercies are tests; let us eat and drink to God’s glory.

Exodus 16:8

We think it a small thing to murmur, against parents and friends, but this sheds a new light upon the matter. It is clear that a discontented heart really murmurs against God himself.

Exodus 16:9, 10

This is a solemn truth; let all grumblers remember it.

 

The cross on which the Saviour died,

And conquer’d for his saints;

This is the tree by faith applied

To sweeten all complaints.

 

When we by faith behold the cross,

Though many griefs we meet;

We draw a gain from every loss,

And make our Marahs sweet

 

Keep the Devil Where He Belongs….Under Your Feet!

Romans 16:20

Are you tired of the devil blocking your way and causing all kinds of disruptions and problems in your life, such as problems in your relationships, financial woes, or health problems? How would you like to lift your foot high and then slam it down as hard as you can on top of the devil—pounding, hammering, trouncing, crushing, and smattering him to bits under your feet? Does that sound like something you wish you could do?

Believe it or not, the apostle Paul encourages you to do exactly that! In Romans 16:20 he writes, “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly….” The word “bruise” is taken from the Greek word suntribo, a word that significantly presents this notion of trampling the devil under your feet. The word was historically used to denote the act of smashing grapes into wine. However, it was also used to refer to the act of snapping breaking, and crushing bones. In fact, it pictures bones that have been utterly crushed beyond recognition.

This word suntribo is used in Mark 5:4 where the Bible tells us about the demon-possessed man of the Gadarenes. It says, “Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces….” The phrase “broken in pieces” is this same word suntribo. Although bound in chains and fetters, the demonized man was sufficiently energized by the demons to be able to crush those fetters to pieces.

The use of the word suntribo in this verse portrays a demon-possessed man releasing so much rage and violence that he was able to obliterate, smash, demolish, and reduce those fetters to nothing. When he was finished, the fetters fell to the ground in a heap, twisted and deformed—so broken that they would never be used to hold anyone captive again.

Now Paul uses this same word in Romans 16:20 when he says we are to “bruise” Satan under our feet. However, notice that Paul says we are to bruise him under our feet “shortly.” This word “shortly” is extremely important because it takes the whole picture to the next level. It tells us what attitude we must demonstrate the next time the devil tries to get in our way or block our path.

The word “shortly” comes from a military term that described the way Roman soldiers marched in formation. They were instructed by their commanders, “You are Roman soldiers! Lift your feet high, stomp loud, and let everyone know you are coming through town. The sound of the stomping and pounding of your feet is the signal to let everyone know they need to get out of your way. And if someone is foolish enough to stand in your way—even if someone falls down in front of you—don’t you dare stop to ask them to move! Just keep marching, stomping, and pounding, even if it means you have to walk right over them!”

So when Paul uses the word “shortly,” he is referring to the pounding, stomping, crushing steps of a Roman soldier. And remember, Roman soldiers wore shoes that were spiked with nails on the bottom (see March 15). When a challenger stood in front of them—or if a person fell in their path—these soldiers would simply ignore the obstacle and keep marching, stomping, and pounding along their way, leaving the challenger or unfortunate person completely obliterated and trampled beyond recognition—an ugly, bloody sight.

What does all this mean for you and me today? It means the next time the devil tries to get in your way or block your path, you shouldn’t stop to politely ask him to move. If the enemy is stupid enough to challenge you and tries to hinder your plans, God tells you what to do in this verse: “Just keep walking! If the devil tries to stop you, just raise your feet high, pound down as hard as you can, and stomp all over him as you march forward. Crush and bruise him beyond recognition!”

However, it is important to point out that this smashing and crushing of Satan must be done in cooperation with God. Alone you are no match for this archenemy. That’s the reason Paul says, “… The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet….” In other words, this is a joint partnership between you and God. By yourself, you could never keep Satan subdued. But with God as your Partner, the devil has no chance of ever slipping out from under your heel!

 

Romans 16:20 suggests this idea:

“The God of peace will smash and completely obliterate Satan under your feet! If Satan tries to get in your way or to block your path, then it’s time for you to act like a soldierlift your feet high, stomp and pound down hard, crushing the enemy under your feet and leaving him in a heap, trampled beyond recognition, as you march on….”

The glorious truth is that Jesus already completely destroyed Satan’s power over you through His death and resurrection. The devil was utterly smashed, crushed, and bruised when Jesus was victoriously raised from the dead (see January 31, February 11, February 28). Your God-given mission now is to reinforce the victory already won and to demonstrate just how miserably defeated Satan already is!

The enemy may try to lord himself over you; he may attempt to exert his foul influence over your life. However, he is merely using empty threats and illusions to feed fear into your mind.

Never forget—the only place that rightfully belongs to the devil is the small space of ground right under your feet! Jesus accomplished a total, complete, and perfect work through the Cross of Calvary and His resurrection from the dead. That means your healing, your miracle, or your financial blessing already belongs to you! The victory is already yours!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, the next time the devil tries to get in my way or to block my path, help me to raise my feet high, pound down as hard as I can, and stomp all over him as I march forward unhindered to do Your will. I thank You that because of Your victory, Satan has no right to exercise this kind of control over my life anymore! With You working as my Partner, I can stare that old enemy in the face and command him to move. And if he tries to put up a fight, I can push him out of the way and walk on through!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I boldly declare that Jesus destroyed Satan’s power over me! Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, the devil was utterly smashed, crushed, and bruised. Now my God-given mission is to reinforce that glorious victory and to demonstrate just how miserably defeated Satan already is. The enemy may try to lord himself over me, but he has no authority to exercise any control in my life!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Do you see yourself as a victorious soldier in the army of God?
  2. Are your problems under your feet today, or do you feel like you are constantly under the heel of your problems?
  3. What are you going to do to turn this situation around? Write down ideas about what actions you can take to start winning the victory over the devil’s attacks in your life.

 

Are You Following Jesus Christ For The Right Reasons?

If your motives in pursuing the Master are for anything less than a desire for intimacy with Him, you are sadly on the wrong track:

 

Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” (John 6:53, 54)

 

It is a mystery as to exactly what Jesus meant here. At the very least He conveyed the idea of total involvement with Him at the most intimate level.

 

A little steep? He meant it that way: “As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were no longer walking with Him.” (John 6:66)

 

The Gospels communicate at least four wrong reasons as to why people followed Jesus:

 

1. Curiosity over His miracles

 

And a great multitude was following Him, because they were seeing the signs which He was performing on those who were sick.” (John 6:2) (Also: Luke 9:9; 23:8; John 2:23-25)

 

2. The Material benefits

 

Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Mebecause you ate of the loaves, and were filled.” (John 6:26)

 

3. The Political benefits

 

Jesus therefore perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force, to make Him king, withdrew… ” (John 6:15a) (Also: Luke 24:21)

 

4. Status

 

Grant that we may sit in your glory, one on Your right, and one on Your left.” (Mark 10:37) (Also: Mark 9:31-37)

 

We need to search our hearts as to why we profess allegiance to Him. If our motives are ulterior, we solicit His rejection:

 

Jesuswas not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all menfor He Himself knew what was in man.” (John 2:24, 25)