OK not to be liked

We’re living in a day and age where it’s deemed critically important to be liked by everyone. The mega social media platform, Facebook, is built around the whole concept of liking or disliking something or someone, with the intended goal of getting as many page and individual post likes as possible. There are hundreds of articles written on how to get more likes. Want to increase your likes? Easy, get out your credit card and we’ll make it happen.

With that said, who doesn’t like to be liked? No one that I know of. Worse than someone not choosing to like you on social media, is the dreaded unlike. That’s where someone intentionally dislikes you. With one quick click, you’re voted off the island against your will. Devastating!

Unfortunately, this whole “please like me” fad permeating today’s culture, has leaked over into the church. As a result, far too many pastors, church leaders, and Christians in general, are bending over backwards to be liked. But to be universally liked means that you must be constantly on your guard not to offend anyone, ever. And that, my friends, is a big, big problem.

Many people today have a very warped understanding of what the Bible actually says about heaven, hell, sin, marriage, sex, etc. Because when asked, too many Christians – afraid of offending or being unlikable – remove the rough edges of biblical truth.

Jesus never watered down the truth, because to do so compromises God’s Word and does a severe disservice to those who need to hear it. Jesus also new that Christianity was not a popularity contest. In fact, quite the opposite. “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.” (Matt. 10:16). “Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.” (1 John 3:13).

An ancient proverb states that you can judge a man’s character by who his enemies are. That’s also true in the spiritual realm. The world loves its own, but since Christ chose believers out of the world, the world hates them (John 15:19).

Remember, the world hated Jesus so much that it killed Him. We, as His followers, can also expect hostility. “If the world hates you,” Jesus said in John 15:18, “you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.”

Peter noted the reason for the world’s hostility to Christians when he wrote, “[Unbelievers] are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you.” (1 Peter 4:4).

How we live our lives as Christians should make unbelievers very uncomfortable in their sin, and remind them of coming judgment. But I don’t see much of that happening today. And, it’s not going to change until this generation gets over this silly “please like me” phase.

“without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved-and that by God.”  Philippians 1:28

Feelings verses facts

Let me begin by explaining why I’m so sensitive about this. I went to Brigham Young University (BYU) on a full scholarship for football in the early 70s. I went there as a Christian. Not knowing a lot about Mormonism, and willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, I dove into their teachings. At first it seemed like it might be just another Christian denomination. After all, they believed and studied the Bible just like I did. But I soon realized that they interpretation of the Bible was very different than mine.

That set me on an interesting journey for the truth. Whose interpretation is correct? We can’t both be right. And, besides, this is serious stuff! We’re not talking about global warming here, we’re talking about eternity. When it comes to saving my soul, I don’t want to be close to getting it right, I want to absolutely get it right.

During the in depth study that ensued, I discovered that my interpretation of God’s Word was in fact correct. Their unique interpretation of the Bible was the result of their need to make it fit, or agree with, some of their heretical beliefs. If those beliefs were concerning minor issues like sprinkling or dunking with baptism it would be one thing. No, their differences had to do with the big stuff, like salvation.

Now it was serious. Now, in reality, it was Satanic. Why do I say that? Because, Satan is the master counterfeiter. He knows that effective deception depends on getting it as close to the original as possible, but in the end, the transaction fails.

My experience with Mormonism forever changed how seriously I handle the truth of God’s Word. Trust me, the Bible is not something to be toyed with. But toyed with it is in the book, and now the movie “The Shack”. When you blatantly redefine the Trinity and salvation you’re playing with fire. And, yes, I mean the fires of hell. Ironically, those two are the exact doctrines that Joseph Smith Jr. redefined with Mormonism, and millions are paying the price for it.

Even more concerning is the number of Bible believing Christians that don’t seem to have a problem with The Shack’s message. They get so caught up in the emotional heart tugging story of forgiveness that they’re willing to ignore the heretical depiction of the Trinity and the implied message of universalism; the belief that no one will be sent to hell.

The tragedy, as Al Mohler puts it, is that Christians have lost the art of biblical discernment, which must be traced to a disastrous loss of biblical knowledge. Discernment cannot survive without doctrine.

Clearly, Satan’s most effective tactic to deceive Christians, is to tug on their heart strings. Lead with feelings, and the facts will be overlooked.

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all.” Galatians 1:6

Game Changer

A game changer is described as an event, idea, or procedure that effects a significant shift in the current manner of doing or thinking about something. I’ve lived long enough to have had several game changer worthy events in my life. These events were so big that they literally changed the course of my life.

There are inventions that have been huge game changers for the history of planet earth. Think about these three…

  1. The wheel made the transportation of goods so much faster and more efficient.
  2. The printing press allowed enormous quantities of information to be recorded and spread throughout the world.
  3. Refrigeration created the ability to keep food cold for prolonged periods. It drastically changed the food production industry and the eating habits of people around the world.

More recently we have communication technology, the automobile, the computer, and of course the internet. All of these are life altering inventions that few can imagine living without. However, they all pale in comparison to the greatest game changer in the history of mankind. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That truly changed everything, because it effected not only this life, but the next.

Have you ever thought about what your life would be like had Jesus not risen from the dead? I think about that as it relates to my life a lot. I know my life would be so very different, and not in a good way. Christ’s death and resurrection is without a doubt the biggest game changer of all time. Though I’m very happy that I live in a world with wheels and refrigeration, nothing compares to having a personal relationship with the creator of the universe.

Paul says in Romans 6:8-11, “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

And that, my friends, is why Easter is the celebration of the greatest game changer that ever was, or ever will be.

Facelift

Facelift

What if I told you that you need a facelift? What? You say, I’m much too young for a facelift! But I’m not talking about a physical facelift, I’m talking about a spiritual facelift. I’m talking about your countenance. Countenance is the expression of the face which reveals the inner condition of the heart.

It really comes down to this simple question; do you smile a lot? For the Christian, the next question becomes; if not, why not? No one has more reasons to smile than we do.

I often ask myself the same question David did in Psalm 43:5. “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?” In other words, why am I feeling so down and discouraged? If the God who created the universe has forgiven me and loves me, why am I not smiling today?

Smiling is the ultimate facelift. Scientist reveal that smiling can boost your mood and even your immune system. Your body is more relaxed when you smile, which contributes to good health and a stronger immune system. Your body immediately releases endorphins when you smile, helping you to feel better and release stress.

Here’s an interesting fact about smiling. Babies are born with the ability to smile. Babies learn a lot of behaviors and sounds from watching the people around them, but scientists believe that all babies are born with the ability, since even blind babies smile. Babies start smiling in their sleep as soon as they’re born. That makes sense to me. Why shouldn’t babies smile? They don’t have a worry in the world, someone is always there to meet their every need, to constantly love and care for them.

It’s no different for us as children of God. That’s why the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites.’ Say to them: ‘The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.’”

Need a facelift? Look into the face of God and be blessed. Do you want to share Christ with your friends? Change your countenance. In so doing, someone will ask, “Why are you always smiling?” That’s when you share the Gospel.

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 43:5