Competing Claims of Truth

Christians are considered by many to be narrow-minded in their belief that salvation is through Jesus Christ and through Jesus Christ alone.  From our human perspective we might prefer that anyone who acknowledges and worships God by any name or definition will be saved and spend eternity with God.  However, as uncomfortable it may be, that is contrary to the clear teaching of the Bible.  Orthodox Christianity insists that it is only through faith in Jesus that a person can be justified and so have confidence in their salvation.  The following is a post addressing the issue by one of my favorite Christian writers, Randy Alcorn.  The article appeared at: www.epm.org as: Christ’s Exclusive Truth-Claims Make Believing “All Religions Are Basically the Same” Impossible.  RMF

Christ’s Exclusive Truth-Claims Make Believing “All Religions Are Basically the Same” Impossible

By Randy Alcorn

Randy Alcorn

A Barna survey found that 59% of American adults believe that “Christians and Muslims worship the same God even though they have different names and beliefs regarding God.” And it’s not just secular people who believe that “all religions are basically the same”:

One-quarter of born again Christians said that all people are eventually saved or accepted by God (25%) and that it doesn’t matter what religious faith you follow because they all teach the same lessons (26%). An even larger percentage of born again Christians (40%) indicated that they believe Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

  A 2017 Barna Poll found that “almost three in 10 (28%) practicing Christians strongly agree that ‘all people pray to the same god or spirit, no matter what name they use for that spiritual being.’” (I’ve written more about the question “Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?” in an earlier blog post.)

But truth-claims in all religions—including Christianity—are by nature exclusive. Jesus didn’t say, “I am a way and a truth and a life; I’m one way to come to the Father.” He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, emphasis added). If someone says Jesus isn’t the primary truth, then either he’s wrong or Jesus is.  Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beware of The Shack

Pastor Bob Russell offers some sound council against the theology portrayed in the popular book and movie, The Shack.  The article containing his understanding of the departure from orthodox Christian doctrine appeared at: www.bobrussell.org  as:  Ask Bob: What’s wrong with ‘The Shack’?  RMF

What’s wrong with ‘The Shack’?
by Bob Russell

Pastor Bob Russell

Occasionally people ask my opinion on various personal or church issues. I recently received the following question which I have reprinted below, followed by my response.

QUESTION

Dear Bob,

“What is your opinion of the new movie, The Shack?”

MY ANSWER

Over the past decade, I’ve often been asked about the controversial book, The Shack. That’s understandable because the book deals with the vital spiritual issues of suffering, grief, forgiveness and eternal life. The Shack touches the heart and has sold over ten million copies since its publication in 2007.

  I normally don’t enjoy reading fiction, so when questioned about it my standard answer has been, “I haven’t read the book and am not in a position to comment.” Recently The Shack has been released as a popular movie, and now the questions are resurfacing. So this past week I finally decided to read the book and see the movie.

The author, William P. Young, is a captivating writer and there are several very good spiritual lessons in the story. I can understand why many Christians are touched by the heart-warming portrayal of heaven and its relatable depiction of God. But The Shack communicates some very dangerous, anti-Biblical concepts that should concern us.

I’m trying to keep in mind that The Shack is a work of fiction. But the problem is it communicates theology, and people are significantly influenced by it. The false doctrine of universalism is sprinkled throughout the book. So is the popular notion that if you believe people should be accountable for their behavior, you are judgmental and lacking mercy.  Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Peace for the Hurting

I love April “The Peaceful Wife” Cassidy’s blogs.  They’re mostly written for women with the primary goal of honoring God while helping wives find peace in life and especially their marriages.  As a guy I often feel somewhat an interloper when reading April’s postings – but the writing and the wisdom she shares transcend gender.  The following is an example that I find particularly useful.  I’m totally blessed to not suffer with any type of illness, pain, or exhaustion at this stage in my life but realize I, like anyone, can be thrust into difficult physical conditions at any time.   So, having this type of information available is a nice type of hip-pocket resource – always available for my own use or to share with others.  This particular blog posting appeared at: www.peacefulwife.com as: Being Peaceful in the Face of Illness/Pain/Exhaustion.  I have omitted the ailments which April lists in her post but you can read those through the link to the original article above.  RMF 

Being Peaceful in the Face of Illness/Pain/Exhaustion
by April Cassidy

April Cassidy
The Peaceful Wife

April Cassidy

I don’t think of myself as having any big health issues. I do have some problems, but, to me, they are very small in the grand scheme of things. Obviously, many people have vastly more difficult health issues than I do.

But just for the sake of transparency, for those who may be interested, I am going to share most – but not all – of the details of my situation (this may be TMI for some people, you are welcome to skip the following list if you prefer)…

Most of My Current Health Issues (Not including past issues here):

[Go to the above link to the original article for a list of April’s health issues.]

Some of my health issues are fairly under control most of the time by lifestyle changes – an anti-inflammatory diet, regular chiropractic adjustments, exercise, and a few supplements and OTC medicines. It gets tricky when multiple things flare up at once – which, of course, they did over the past week as I have been writing this post. Sometimes I wish I could avoid eating food entirely. Life would be so much easier!  Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting the Best Out of Criticism

I’m always alert to good advice on how to respond to life’s challenges. Because of my personality type I’m extra sensitive to criticism. And, due to being messed up, I’m well acquainted with criticism, mostly very well deserved. So, when I saw this article by Christian writer Shane Pruitt, it immediately grabbed my attention. I love this article. It describes a very practical way of dealing with the criticism which is sure to come to each of us in one way or another — even those who are not so terribly messed up. The article appeared at: www.alreadyam.com as: 3 Ways to Respond to Criticism. I hope you enjoy it. RMF

3 Ways to Respond to Criticism
By Shane Pruitt

Shane Pruitt

In life, there are three things that we can’t avoid: death, taxes, and criticism. From the suburbs of Texas to the urban areas of New York to the jungles of the Congo to the mountains of Nepal, people are desperately trying to figure out how to respond to criticism.
Criticism is “the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes.”
We receive it, we despise it, we can’t avoid it, and most of the time it hits us when we least expect it. Criticism can come from our all sorts of people—our spouse, boss, friend, enemy, church member, or a complete stranger. Although, we can’t control how criticism comes our way, we can control how we respond to it.

There is a hope and a strategy. It’s what I call the C.O.T Response. Usually a cot is thought of as a portable bed used for lying down. However, C.O.T. allows you to respond to criticism in a healthy way, and not lay down in defeat, doubt, or discouragement.
Here are three ways to respond to criticism:
Chuck It: As a Christian, one thing that you can never forget is that you are in the middle of a spiritual warfare. You’re not wrestling “against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).” You may not be ultimately fighting against flesh and blood, but the enemy sure does use the flesh of red-blooded people to destroy, discourage, and dissuade you from following the will of God. Yes, God is alive, but so is the devil. You can be sure that wherever God is moving, Satan will be attacking. It’s in moments like these that you need to discern the wiles of the enemy through criticism, and “chuck it”! “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).” Don’t be devoured by criticism.

  Own It: Let’s face it. Some of the most insecure people in the world are Christians, especially us Christian leaders. We tend to wear our feelings on our sleeves. We don’t enjoy being challenged, questioned, or criticized. However, you need to own up to a very import truth every single day—You are not perfect! Let’s be honest, we all make mistakes, a lot of them! There are moments in your life where you’re just not operating in the Spirit but rather walking in the flesh and making a mess. The Lord says that you must constantly, “consider your ways (Haggai 1:7).” There are moments when you to flat out need to “own it” because its time to consider your ways, then change your ways. You cannot arrogantly assume that every word of criticism is coming from someone being used by the enemy. In fact, sometimes those challenging statements are coming from someone being used by God because you needed to hear them!

Test It:There are times when you’ll know immediately that someone is operating in the flesh and/or being used by the enemy to speak to you with ill-intentions. There will be other times when you’ll be convicted by the Holy Spirit knowing that you’re in the wrong, with the wrong attitude, with the wrong motivation, and God showed you grace by speaking to you through someone else. However, most of the time it is not going to be so easy to know how you should respond to the criticism. Should you “chuck it” or “own it”? In those moments when it’s not so clear, what should you do? It’s in these scenarios where you should “test it.” There are three ways to do this.

  1. When criticism comes your way, the first thing you should do is take it to God in prayer. Ask Him to reveal truth in those critical moments, to bring comfort when you need protection from the enemy, and to convict you when people need protection from you.
  2. Second, test it with Scripture. God is not going to speak through someone in a way that is contrary to His Word.
  3. Third, seek wise counsel. People that you love and trust will be able to protect you from harmful words but will also be able to tell you when you’re in the wrong and need to change.Aristotle once said, “Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” Always remember, if you’re doing anything of substance and meaning, criticism will come your way. It can’t be avoided, but it can be advantageous if you respond properly.

P.S.   The other side of criticism is praise.  One of my life heroes, Coach John Wooden, addressed both issues when he said: “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.”  Coach was right.  RMF

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Prayer and Healing

There is a ton of misunderstanding regarding prayer and healing.  The following article by one of my favorite Christian authors, Randy Alcorn, and the accompanying video interview of Joni Eareckson Tada by Pastor Todd Wagner shed some much needed light onto the subject.  For those of us who have the privilege of offering intercessory prayer for others it is particularly important to have a clear understanding of the way that God deals with pain and suffering in general.  The article appeared at: Eternal Perspectives Ministry  as: If I Have Enough Faith, Will God Heal Me? RMF

If I Have Enough Faith, Will God Heal Me?
Randy Alcorn

Pastor Randy Alcorn
Eternal Perspective Ministries

Okay, first let me say this: if you don’t have much time, just skip through what I’ve written below and go to the video at the end where Joni Eareckson Tada is interviewed by Todd Wagner. What Joni says in this video is more important than what I say below (though I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t think it was also important).

When I became insulin-dependent in 1985, I wondered who wanted me ill, Satan or God. The obvious answer? Satan. But I’m also convinced, as was the apostle Paul, that the ultimate answer is God. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, saw God’s sovereignty, grace, and humbling purpose of his disease (see 2 Corinthians 12:7–10). I have clearly and repeatedly seen the same in my own life.  Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

When to Keep Your Mouth Shut

When to Keep Your Mouth Shut

Its been said that: “Words are free. It’s how you use them that may cost you.”  And Proverbs 21:23 teaches that: “Whosoever keepeth his mouth and his tongue, keepeth his soul from trouble.”  That being the case and in order to avoid trouble, the following is a list of situations where it is probably wise to say nothing without giving real serious thought to what you’re doing and the possible consequences.  I know from painful personal experience that each of these admonitions is well founded.  I’m just say’n.  RMF

  Don’t open your mouth:

• In the heat of anger – Proverbs 14:17
• When you don’t have all the facts – Proverbs 18:13
• When you haven’t verified the story – Deuteronomy 17:6
• If your words will offend a weaker brother – 1 Corinthians 8:11
• If your words will reflect poorly on the Lord or your friends and family – Peter 2:21-23
• When you are tempted to joke about sin – Proverbs 14:9
• When you would be ashamed of or regret your words later – Proverbs 8:8
• When you are tempted to make light of holy things – Ecclesiastes 5:2
• If the issue is none of your business – Proverbs 14:10
• When you are tempted to tell an outright lie, convey misleading or incomplete information, or leave a wrong impression. – Proverbs 4:24; 17:27, Zachariah 8:16
• If your words will damage someone’s reputation – Proverbs 16:27, Leviticus 19:16
• If your words will destroy or endanger a friendship – Proverbs 25:28
• When you are feeling critical – James 3:9
• When you should be listening – Proverbs 13:1
• If you may have to eat your words later – Proverbs 18:21
• If you have already said it more than once (it becomes nagging) – Proverbs 19:13
• When you are tempted to flatter a wicked person – Proverbs 24:24
• When you are supposed to be working instead – Proverbs 14:23

It is also wise to zip the lip: when tempted to boast, when your words would be idle chatter, if your words would be heard as profanity, and if your words would betray a confidence.

PS – Jamie Jackson, a friend at New Life Christian Church,  just shared the following devotional.  I believe it is a good tag-on to this post so here it is.  RMF (7/5/17)

Jamie Jackson

Jamie wrote:  It’s been said that there are at least three things you can never get back in life: a harsh word after it’s said, a wrong action after it’s done and time after it has passed. I think these even sound biblical.   Proverbs 15:1 says “a soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” and verse 28 says “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.  Proverbs has a lot to say about our words and the things we say. I wonder if we won’t be surprised someday by how much our words hurt others and saddened God.  It’s a much bigger deal than most people ever realize. In fact, Proverbs 18:21 says the tongue has the power of life and death. You may never know how God uses your simple words of kindness or encouragement to help someone.  Conversely, you may never know how deep an unkind or sharp word cuts someone.  Let’s together commit to building one another up with every word we speak. 1 Thess. 5:11.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment