‘He Gets Us’ Organizers Set to Spend $1 Billion to Promote Jesus.

The ‘He Gets Us’ campaign to market a really likable Jesus who really understands us, and who is the all-time greatest role model in human history is in the news again. For the last 10 months “He Gets Us” ads have shown up on billboards, YouTube channels and television screens across the country, spreading the message that Jesus understands the human condition.

One of the ads that aired during the NFL playoffs was titled “That Day” and tells the story of an innocent man being executed. The ad says:

“Jesus rejected resentment on the cross. He gets us. All of us.”

Jesus did what?! Last I checked Jesus died to save His people from their sin, not to reject the resentment of Roman soldiers or angry religious Jews.

‘He Gets Us’ ads planned for the Super Bowl will cost about $20 million, according to organizers. The original campaign was described as a $100 million effort. The current goal is to invest about a billion dollars over the next three years.

A recent article appeared here that talked about a lady that describes herself as a “love more” Christian and ordinary Mom who works in marketing”, was initially skeptical of another marketing plan for Jesus, but ended up becoming a fan of the ads because, in her opinion they focus on the main message of Christianity:

“It all goes to Jesus, and if it all goes back to Jesus, it all goes back to love.”

At this point, you might be thinking this post might be about the evils of marketing Jesus. While it is certainly true that I dislike marketing campaigns for Jesus, I am most concerned with the opinion that the “He Gets Us’ ads focus on Jesus’s love being the main message of Christianity. Please let me explain.

While It is certainly true that God IS love, and that God’s perfect love resulted in His sending His Son into this world to save us, did God send His Son to us just to show us how much like us Jesus is – how much ‘He Gets Us’?

Before Jesus was born, an Angel of the Lord appeared to am apprehensive Joseph and said:

“She (Mary) will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matt 1:21, ESV)

The Apostle Paul told a young Pastor Timothy:

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” (1 Tim 1:15, ESV)

In one of his letters, the Apostle John tells us exactly how much God loves and why He sent His Son:

“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins”. (1 John 4:10, ESV)

The ‘He Gets Us’ campaign presents a woefully incomplete and inadequate picture of Jesus. Does Jesus ‘get us’? Certainly. Can Jesus identify with our humanity? Certainly. But to present Jesus in His humanity and omit His Divinity, His perfect sinless life, and his death for our sins is to miss the message of the gospel entirely.

Why omit the gospel message? Are the campaign promoters ashamed of the gospel message that Christ died for our sins? They would most certainly say no and claim that they are merely trying to encourage unbelievers to be more interested in Jesus so that others down the road can explain it in more detail.

Campaign organizers say that over 20,000 churches have offered volunteers from a range of denominational backgrounds to follow up with anyone who sees the ads and asks for more information. Will those follow up conversations contain a gospel message that speaks of sin, the need for repentance and believing in Christ for the forgiveness of sin? Your guess is as good as mine, however there’s a good chance that many will not.

The entire ‘He Gets Us’ campaign suffers from what seems to echo the theme that much of today’s evangelicalism presents – the need to try and “attract” unbelievers to Jesus, making Him likable to the unbelieving masses. The difficulty in that approach is clearly identified in 1 Corionthians1:18:

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (ESV)

Furthermore, the Bible tells us that those whose minds are focused on the “flesh” (all unbelievers) are actually hostile to God:

“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” (Rom 8:7, ESV)

There are other significant criticisms of the ‘He Gets Us’ campaign that should concern conservative, biblically literate Christians. One such article can be found in a previous post here at The Battle Cry. Others can be found with the use of a good internet search engine. I will leave those to you.

So what can we do to upset the misguided goal of ‘He Gets Us’ organizers to “redeem the brand of Christianity’s savior?” Well, most of us will watch the Super Bowl, believers and unbelievers alike. I suggest a couple of things.

  • We can always ask our unbelieving friends and acquaintances how they felt about the ‘He Gets Us’ ads. You might want to wait until after the game before initiating that discussion. You can also listen for discussions already in progress about the ads and politely join in.
  • We can agree with the fact that Jesus was human, but we need to talk about “The Rest of the Story” (Paul Harvey) and talk about how Jesus was also Divine – the God-Man.
  • We can explain how, although Jesus was human, the reason for His coming wasn’t just to share humanity with us, but to carry out a Divine mission, to die for OUR sins; to satisfy God’s just wrath against those sins. Be gentle.
  • We can pray what I call the “Lydia” prayer, asking God to open hearts to hear the gospel. See Acts 16:11-15)
  • Although you might be nervous, be like the Apostle Paul who said:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16, ESV)

Jesus doesn’t need to be “re-branded”. His Gospel (the one that includes the issue of Sin, the need for repentance and trusting in Christ for forgiveness) needs to be preached “in season” and “out of season” – when it’s popular or unpopular, timely and untimely, convenient or inconvenient (2 Tim 4:2) . As believers, our part is to faithfully present that gospel. God’s part is to save the souls of those whose hearts He has opened to hear it.

Be Blessed!

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You can read the complete article referenced in this post here, or at https://julieroys.com/he-gets-us-set-spend-billion-promote-jesus-will-anyone-care/

“Supernatural Sid” Cartoon Review – Heresy “Grooming?”

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Thanks to the “Digging Deeper” FB page I had the opportunity to watch Supernatural Sid: The First 11 Minutes, a sneak preview of an upcoming cartoon based on TV personality Sid Roth’s show It’s Supernatural!, beloved by many ‘itchy eared’ believers and renowned for a wide variety of false teaching mixed with some truth in order to sound legit.

In the first few minutes, Supernatural Sid introduces his new venture describing how children will be able to see cartoon depictions of actual events in the Bible, from Adam and Eve in the Garden to Moses delivering the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, which was a foreshadowing of Jesus the Messiah. Sid will even lead your children in a prayer to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior!.

The sneak preview of Episode 1 is next at the 4:34 mark and is called The Miracle Birth of Jesus.

It begins with a family of four driving through city streets singing Hark, the Herald Angels Sing. The kids in the back seat start talking about visiting New York City with Supernatural Sid (SS) during the previous year’s Christmas season, with all of the exciting Christmas season activity, including the Rockefeller Center tree. They ask if they can go see the tree again and are told that things are different this year.

The city is a mess, largely because of COVID. Stores and shops are shuttered and the streets are filled with the homeless. The streets are also filled with rioting protesters and police. There are many more homes for sale in the suburbs due to job losses and foreclosures. The family finally arrives safely back at their home and settle down in front of the television screen with a huge bowl of popcorn to watch the It’s Supernatural! with a younger looking Sid Roth (SS) as the host.

SS focuses on the difference between the previous and current year Christmas activity in the city, due to COVID. SS is ready for a Christmas miracle because God is ready to send down His “golden globe of glory”, just as He sent Jesus. Cartoon SS asks viewers to send in their prayer requests so they can be prayed over and agreed upon their upcoming Christmas special show.

The kids, Saul and Miriam, with Nosey the pet dog, then go to New York City to visit SS to find out more. SS gives them special glasses so they can go back in time and see that the same sorts of things they saw in New York City (homelessness, lack of jobs, poverty, protesting and riots, plagues, sick and crippled people) were all present in biblical times.

SS explains how the sick and oppressed cried out to God and prayed for a deliverer, a healer, a Messiah. He then quoted John 3:16 to the kids – sort of. Instead of “…whosoever would believe in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life”, SS quoted it as “…whosoever would believe in Him would be saved”. The kids and SS then are transported back to the present and are again with SS in his home.

Saul then asks SS about all of the bad things in the world and asks why God doesn’t stop it all. SS tells them to put the special glasses back on. The sneak preview ends at that point (the 16:30 mark).

Sid Roth in the flesh comes back on to tell us how to pre-order our own DVD of Episode 1, as well as a special streaming link to the entire episode so we can watch it with our children and grandchildren. For a gift of $50.00 you can receive the DVD/BluRay and streaming link. If you send the $50.00 you can also receive additional copies for $25.00 each (allow 6-8 weeks for delivery).

The Senior Producer for another animated Bible series for CBN, as well as Supernatural Sid then comes on and talks about how great his animated Blble stories are, especially how the new series is even so much better than the first one because it includes real life issues and teaches us that the same supernatural events that happened in Jesus’ day are also for us to experience (stock Sid Roth).

“Don’t miss out!” Your kids and grandkids can learn how to live and walk in the supernatural! “The Miracle Birth of Jesus is not just a Christmas story, it gives the foundation of why God sent His only begotten Son.” Lastly, it presents testimonials with adults and children telling us how great the first episode is.

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So there you have it. While it was certainly entertaining, and kids might love it, the glaring error, from my point of view, is that it’s an “adventure in missing the gospel”. It teaches (rather subtly) that Jesus came so that we can live supernatural lives filled with miraculous healings, prosperity, and deliverances from the bad things in life (Sid Roth’s stock in trade).

We are told quite clearly in Scripture exactly why Jesus came into our world. Even before Jesus’ birth, an Angel spoke to a troubled Joseph:

“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Mat 1:20-21)

The Apostle Paul also tells us exactly why Jesus came:

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. “ (1 Tim 1:15)

Sid Roth, in the name of $ most likely, is now taking the false teaching he sends all over the globe and specifically targeting (grooming?) our children and grandchildren. Don’t fall for it.

Heresy always rides in on the horseback of truth.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Mixed Messages

I was browsing Facebook recently and came across one of those “________ changed his cover photo” posts that displayed the following new cover photo.

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Due to the reference to “MY Bible” set against a rainbow flag known primarily as meaning the LGBTQ community, it raised questions in this old guy’s mind, but not about God’s commandment to love others. Let me explain.

The author of the FB post was a Jewish military Chaplain, with whom I had a pleasant online conversation. The unstated reference was to the recent mass shooting here in Colorado Springs at a night club (the “Q Club”) catering to those identifying as part of the LGBTQ community, a fact which I did not know when I first saw the post.

Obviously the “MY Bible” was a reference to books of the Old Testament and not the New testament. I’m not sure why he felt the need for emphasizing the Bible he reads as an observant Jew because the NT also tells us to love our “neighbors”. In fact, in the books of Matthew and Luke there’s are passages quoting the Shema “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:4–5), both of which add the commandment to love our neighbors. (Matthew 22:37-39 & Luke 10:27).

What I wanted to gently clarify was the Chaplain’s position concerning the sinful lifestyles represented by the rainbow flag, so I replied to his post with the question: “Sir, Do you hate what God hates?” I probably flunked the “gentle” part, which led to further discussion with him, which, to a degree, clarified some things for me..

So here is the critical issue, from my point of view. I saw a message that could be, and is often misunderstood to mean that loving one’s neighbors also means approving or accepting of lifestyles that God unequivocally calls sin. It was posted by a military Chaplain. The message however, was, as I see it thr0ugh a Christian lens, was incomplete.

Those engaging in what God considers sin will call those who want to “love the sinner but hate the sin” (hate what God hates) will accuse anyone who disapproves of their behavior of hating them personally. As a result, some of us, and even entire churches, will, for a number of reasons, refuse to confront issues of sin. I’m not just talking about LGBTQ issues, although it is front page news again.

The excuses (yes, I said “excuses”) for minimizing sin are many, and quite “creative”. I’m not going to name any of them, but I do know that the Bible tells me that sinners love their sin (John 3:19) and I know that telling someone that what they love is wrong doesn’t go over very well. So we focus on the “love” of God, thinking that when people know how much God loves them they will run to the cross. We try and remove the “offense” of the Cross, that by nature offends those who do not yet believe in Christ (1 Cor 1:18).

I submit to you, dear friends that to minimize the issue of sin, whatever it might be, is to minimize the Gospel of Christ. And I submit to you that a minimized gospel is no gospel at all.

The Apostle Paul told young Pastor Timothy:

“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” (1 Tim 1:15).

Paul also defined very clearly the Gospel message of which he was not ashamed (Rom 1:16) and not afraid to preach:

“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.  For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,  and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, .” (1 Cor 15:1-4)

My friends, if, for the sake of sounding loving and not being rejected as “haters”, we omit the issue of sin from our sharing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, can we claim to be sharing the the message that saves sinners, no matter what the sin? The Apostle Paul answers that question quite clearly:

“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” (Gal 1:6-9)

My brothers and sisters, let us indeed love our neighbors and demonstrate that love most supremely by sharing the complete gospel with those who live apart from Christ, with His love in our hearts! We don’t need to send mixed messages. If God has opened a heart to pay attention to the gospel we share, the gospel that is offensive to an unregenerate heart, salvation will surely follow!

Be blessed!

The REST of the Verse – Romans 10:9 – 10

It’s been said by some biblical scholars that the three most important rules for a proper and thorough understanding of the text of Scripture are Context, Context, & Context. By that we mean:

  • The immediate context in a section or chapter of Scripture
  • The larger context of a particular book in the Bible
  • The broad context of the entire Bible and God’s plan for his children

I freely admit that some passages of Scripture can be valuable in and of themselves as precious promises, words of comfort, or even admonition or warning. They can also be used to ‘prove’ one’s personal opinion or preferred interpretation. Examining context can therefore be not only profitable, but at times harmful.

With that said, let’s examine Romans 10:9 -10. 

What a wonderful promise of salvation! There are sincere and well-meaning Christians who use these passages to lead others to faith in Christ. Some will tell you that it describes two separate acts, both of which are necessary for salvation; a heartfelt belief in Jesus Christ as savior and a public confession of faith. But is that what these two verses are actually teaching us?

1. What is the context of Romans 10:9 – 10?

In Romans Chapter 10, specifically verses 5 – 13, the Apostle Paul, speaking to Christians in Rome, contrasts two types of righteousness; righteousness based on obedience to the Law (the old covenant) as practiced by the Israelites, and righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ (the new covenant). In fact, Paul refers to the OT law to make his case, quoting from a passage in Deuteronomy (Deut 30:14) in Romans 10 verse 8, immediately preceding vv. 9-10. If we add verse 8 to our passage, we can see Paul’s comparison of the Old and New covenants:

8But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (vv. 8-10) 

As we can see, verses 9 –10 complete Paul’s interpretation of the Deuteronomy passage quoted in verse 8. Verse 9 explains the relevance of “heart” and “mouth” in verse 8, while verse 10 explains verse 9. Allegiance to Christ, rather than adherence to the law, is both covenant faithfulness and salvation. Christ is the fulfillment of the law.[1]

2. If the Romans 10:9-10 passage isn’t talking about two separate acts leading to salvation, what IS it teaching us?

This was a great time for consulting commentaries!

After consulting several good commentaries, I did find one (John Wesley) that spoke of two separate acts leading to salvation:

Rom 10:10 For with the heart—Not the understanding only, man believeth to righteousness—So as to obtain justification: and with the mouth confession is made, so as to obtain final salvation. Confession here implies the whole of outward, as believing does the root of all inward religion.[2]

Other commentaries I consulted all agreed that the confessing that “Jesus is Lord “describes an outward expression of inward trust, an indication of true salvation, for at least two reasons:

1.  When Paul wrote the letter to the Romans, for a person to accept Christ and confess Him as Lord typically resulted in persecution and, ultimately, death. To embrace Christ and confess Him as Lord, knowing that persecution was sure to come, was an indication of true salvation and the work of the Holy Spirit.

2. The Greek verb for “confess” (homologeō – verb ), is derived from a root  a root word (homologos – adverb) meaning “the same/together”, reinforcing the idea that confessing Jesus as Lord is merely “confirming” with the mouth what has taken place in the heart.

Finally, we can read passages of Scripture that state very clearly what is required and/or not required for salvation. Here are but a few:

  • John 5:24, [Jesus said:] “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
  • Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
  • Titus 3:5, “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.
  • Acts 16:30-31, [Someone asked the apostle Paul] “‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’

In the above passages we are told that all those who simply believe in the Lord Jesus will be saved, without any mention of making a public confession of faith. We are also told that human works (i.e., public confessions of faith) do not contribute to our salvation.

3. So what? How do we apply what we have just learned when we share the gracious message of salvation in Christ to others?

First let me say that it’s not necessary to explain the finer points of our selected passages if you are engaged in personal evangelism with a lost friend or loved one. If that’s your situation, stick to what is necessary in sharing the message of the gospel – the problem of sin, the solution to that problem in Christ, and the need to respond to the message. If our Romans passage enters the conversation you will be ready to discuss it.

On the other hand, if you are involved in a discussion about what one must do to be saved, and more specifically, someone suggests that making a public confession of faith is absolutely required to be saved, you will be ready to offer a sound biblical explanation!

So regardless of what anyone says about Romans 10:9 – 10, now you have. . .

. . .the REST of the verse!

Be blessed!


[1] Douglas Mangum, ed., Lexham Context Commentary: New Testament, Lexham Context Commentary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2020), Ro 10:5–13.

[2] John Wesley, Explanatory Notes upon the New Testament, Fourth American Edition. (New York: J. Soule and T. Mason, 1818), 404.

The REST of the Story

“– in a minute, you’re going to hear the rest of the story.” – Paul Harvey

Paul Harvey was an American radio broadcaster from 1951 – 2008. Beginning in 1951, he broadcast News and Comment for ABC Radio News. In 1976 his famous The Rest of the Story program premiered, in which he provided backstories behind famous people and events.  The program was broadcast for 33 years, until his death in 2009. The programs would conclude with another famous quote:

“And now you know — the REST of the story.”

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The month of December marks, for many, the end of their favorite time of the year – the period between Thanksgiving and New Years Day. There are Christmas lights everywhere, Christmas music all the time on radio and stations and Christmas movies on every channel. People flock to stores and shopping malls to find gifts for friends and loved ones. And of course, there is all of the wonderful family time!

Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, which honors the incarnation of the Son of God. Setting aside any discussions/arguments about Jesus’ actual date of birth, as well as all the other ways we engage in debating the virtues of celebrating Christmas as a special day, let us honor the birth of our Savior and Messiah!

LET US REJOICE WITH THE PROPHET!

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.” Isaiah 9:6-7

LET US MARVEL WITH THE SHEPHERDS!

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”” Luke 2:8-14

LET US BOW DOWN IN HUMILITY WITH JOSEPH!

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). – Matthew 1:18-23

It’s in the words of the angel of the Lord that we find the central purpose for which Jesus came to earth.

“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”- Mattthew 1:21

While we would all agree that Jesus was the greatest gift given to men in the history of the universe, let us remember and reflect upon

the fact that it’s Christ’s death for OUR sin that made it the greatest gift ever given to us by an all-loving God. As the Apostle John so simply and eloquently tells us:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Should we not daily carry in our hearts the sentiment of the Apostle Paul, as he counseled a young preacher?

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”  – 1 Timothy 1:15

While we celebrate Christ’s birth, let us remember that His incarnation was but the beginning of a journey – a journey that lead to the Cross at Calvary where Jesus paid the price for OUR sin, and that by God’s design. Listen to the Apostle Peter preaching in Jerusalem at Pentecost:

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” – Acts 2:22-23

But there’s MORE! The journey didn’t end at Calvary!

The singular event, without which our faith in the Christ Child would be in vain, was yet to come! Peter continued:

“God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.”  – Acts 2:24

Let us envision, with the Apostle John, that great scene in heaven:

“Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” – Revelation 5:1-9

Enjoy this wonderful Season with friends, family, schoolmates, co-workers, and maybe even the strangers you meet standing in line at your local pharmacy, or waiting for the downtown bus, or your flight home for the holidays

Above all, Dear friends, as we celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus this year, let us also hold close to our hearts His journey to the Cross and beyond, and while doing so, let us pray for and look for opportunities to share, with great love and compassion, the REST of the story!

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Are WE Tilting at Windmills?

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If you don’t know, the phrase ‘tilting at windmills’ comes from a 17th century novel by Miguel de Cervantes titled “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha”, or just “Don Quixote”. Don Quixote was a middle-aged Spanish nobleman, who imagined himself a Knight of the Spanish realm who embarked on a number of adventurous crusades against windmills that dotted the landscape of southern Spain that he sincerely believed were enemy giants with huge arms! The “tilting” refers to what we would more commonly call “jousting”. Armed with his lance, clad in an old suit of armor, and accompanied by a neighboring farmer (turned squire) named Sancho, the Man of La Mancha set off in defense of the realm.

During one of their exploits, they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills in their path. No sooner did Don Quixote see them that he said to his squire, “Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless.”

Even though Sancho tried to explain that they were just windmills and the huge “arms” were only sails in the wind, the Don lowered his lance and attacked, with disastrous results when the tip of his lance was caught up by a windmill blade!

To this day, the phrase “tilting at windmills” has been used to describe “confrontations where adversaries are incorrectly perceived, or courses of action that are based on misinterpreted or misapplied heroic, romantic, or idealistic justifications.” (American Heritage Dictionary) Another phrase, “chasing windmills” has the same roots and mean pursuing something with an “open heart”, which was certainly true about Don Quixote. He really believed he was engaged in a noble crusade!

So what does all of that have to do with the question “Are WE tilting at windmills?”

Thanks for asking!

Well, a few days ago a simple question popped up on Facebook:

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Hence, thoughts of Don Quixote for us old folks, as well as no small amount of serious consideration. Can a seriously fractured America be restored apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I think not, and let me tell you why. If we who profess Christ honestly ask ourselves WHY our nation is so fractured right now, and if we know our Bibles, the answer is simple. SIN is the root cause of all that ails America, as well as every other nation on Earth. What began in Eden with a single act of disobedience has endured until now and will continue until Jesus returns to pass judgment. Consequently, if SIN is the root cause, a solution to the sin problem will bring healing. Throughout the history of mankind, men have tried to deal with all sorts of evil perpetrated by the human beings that inhabit our planet. Good and moral governments have passed legislation to punish evil and wrongdoing for the betterment of civil society. Programs of all kinds have been instituted to reform all sorts of harmful behavior patterns. I’m sure you get the picture. I’m also sure you recognize that nearly all of the human solutions to human problems are external at best. We can only hope that they will take root in our hearts and result in lasting change for our good and the good of our society. And therein lies the problem.

The root cause of society’s ills is SIN, and sin is a problem internal to every human born after the Fall of Adam. Therefore, any lasting solution must also be an internal one. It means we need new hearts, new motives, new natures. As scripture tells us, we need to be reborn (See John, Chapter 3 and Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus).

Do you see where this is going? Internal problems need internal solutions? The Gospel of Jesus Christ offers that internal solution? The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the ONLY solution? Exactly.

So about those windmills. . .

Every single day we are told what we need to “do” to fight this or that (name the topic) societal ill by getting involved. We need to write our representatives in Congress, sign petitions, donate money, support podcasts, or to just ‘stand up and fight’ those who are wreaking havoc across the land. Let me be clear – I am not saying we should not be engaged with, or support external efforts to right wrongs. God ordained governmental systems to fight and control evil. By all means get involved in supporting external efforts to right the wrongs in our society and in our nation. Pray for leaders at all levels of civil government. Pray that God would change the hearts of kings (Proverbs 21:1)! However, if we want to see lasting change in our society and culture, the only real solution is the Gospel of Jesus Christ invading the hearts of men.

It’s also quite possible that many of the conservatives who are unafraid to do battle against evil in our culture and society know that the core issue is an internal one, but for whatever reason, many of them just stick to much needed external solutions. I am not criticizing them for doing so. It’s just the way it is. To be fair I admit that there are a few who mention the need for God, while stopping short of talking about Christ’s death for our sins. One popular young conservative has even told his college age audiences that the first thing they need to do is “give their hearts to Jesus”! While that sounds great and noble, when we search scripture for that admonition will we find it? (Just a question, not an indictment.)

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In the novel, Don Quixote’s neighbor turned squire, Sancho Panza, tried to explain to our hero that the giants with huge arms were really just windmills and sails and not real enemies, but to no avail. In like manner, trying to correct the ‘windmill chasers’ in our midst might meet with failure.

That’s where we who confess Christ, who know the gospel message, and are willing to be used of God to share the good news with a lost world, enter “stage right”. We can be the standard bearers and ambassadors who can offer the internal remedy to the internal problem that plagues every one of us; our sinful nature. We can be the Paul Harveys who share “the rest of the story”, (Some of you will get that.) And who knows, maybe that’s what God intended for us all along!

“How can they call on him unless they believe in him? How can they believe in him unless they hear about him? How can they hear about him unless someone preaches to them? 15 And how can anyone preach without being sent? It is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”” (Romans 10:14-15)

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This article first appeared in the Christian Military Fellowship June 2021 Christian Report. which can be located and downloaded hereThe Christian Report is one of the many resources available from Christian Military Fellowship, a ministry dedicated to  helping Christians serving in the Armed Forces  grow in their faith and become “Gospel Ambassadors” in uniform.

The Gospel and the Resurrection

“The meaning of Easter is more transcendent than the resurrection of Jesus Christ, whether you are a Christian or not. Through a commitment to helping others we are able to save ourselves.”

Two highly questionable statements, at least theologically and doctrinally speaking.

The first, that “The meaning of Easter is more transcendent than the resurrection of Jesus Christ, whether you are a Christian or not”, is a direct repudiation of the Gospel. For Christians, there in NO event more transcendent than the resurrection! If there were no resurrection, our faith is vain – useless. (1 Cor 15:13). No matter how deeply and sincerely we believe in Christ for salvation, if Christ was not raised, we will not be raised.

The second statement, “Through a commitment to helping others we are able to save ourselves”, is just a lie. There’s no other way to define it.

Not only is it a declaration of the social gospel (NO gospel), it is clearly contradicted by scripture itself, most notably by Ephesians 2:8-9:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Although the Apostle Paul is making a point about boasting in one’s salvation, that human works can’t save anyone, is a universal principle. The very reason that Christ went to the cross was because we cannot save ourselves.  God’s standard for salvation is complete perfection. If not for the death of Christ, who lived a life of perfect obedience and died for our sins, teamed with His resurrection is the very definition of the gospel!

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand,and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

Perhaps as grievous as the statements themselves is who made them. They were  in a Tweet by The Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, the Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta Georgia.

I’ll just leave it right there. Further speculation would distract from the fact that they were spoken at all.

Preaching “Festival”?

This is a social media advertisement that appeared in my newsfeed last week. 

Preach Twin Cities

There were two comments. One thought the event was going to be awesome.  I suspect that there are a lot of professing young Christians that will agree with the”awesome” comment. After all, they’ve been slowly primed for this day since of the advent of the “seeker friendly” approach to church and church growth that assumes that natural born lost sinners are, at some level actually seeking after God, an assumption the Bible denies. (Psalm 14:2 – 3, Romans 3:11 – 12); The other comment I read at the time was not so complimentary: 

“Gee, I don’t remember any “preaching festival” ANYWHERE in the Bible! ’Entertainment festivals showcase musicians. Gospel preaching is to be for God’s glory, NOT a talent show to “showcase” young preachers.”

Fellow believers, that there is a “festival” to showcase young preachers (IMHO) is an offense to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Many of you will get that sentiment. It’s also an offense to the gospel itself.

At he same time, it’s an accurate description of what much of evangelical Christianity has become, man-centered entertainment. Here’s a statement from the non-profit sponsoring the “festival”.

“One of the goals at Pulse is to encourage and equip young preachers to share the Gospel in a Biblical, unique, and unapologetic way. On March 2nd these young emerging leaders will showcase how they preach the Gospel.!”

While encouraging young preachers to unapologetically preach the gospel, the emphasis is clearly placed on “how” these youngsters preach rather than on the gospel itself and its power to save lost sinners.  I can’

t can’t  think of a single instance in Scripture that talks about the preachers “unique style”, whether it’s an OT prophet,  NT apostle, or Jesus himself. While I’m hopeful that the true gospel will be clearly presented,, I suspect there will be a couple of “adventures in missing the point”, which is truly sad, for a couple of reasons.

First, since this event is, by design, to showcase the young preachers showcasing themselves will, by necessity, be advertising their own unique styles, and most likely removing the “offense of the gospel”, in order to please the audience with their many talents, while not making anyone feel uncomfortable before a Holy God.  If you know your Bible, the Apostle Paul, as well as Peter declared that the message of the gospel is, by nature, offensive to the unbeliever (1 Corinthians 1:18, 1 Peter 2:7 – 8). By and large, today’s  gospel must be appealing to a lost world, not convict it of sin, as the Holy Spirit is wont to do.

Secondly, and perhaps more significantly, the hearers of a false gospel cannot be saved by it.

I am NOT saying that no one who attend the “festival” will be saved, or that biblical truth won’t touch the hearts of listeners. God has saved many a lost soul at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church, just not through preaching that never discusses the problem of sin (a self-confessed hallmark of Joel’s preaching).

Back to the point of this post – the sorry state of much of today’s evangelicalism., designed to entertain both the sheep and the goats. The aforementioned ad for a blatantly man-centered preaching “festival” says it all.

So what?

As was already stated earlier,   that there is a “festival” to showcase young preachers  is an offense to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.. It’s also an offense to the gospel itself. We need to be about the business of praying for TRUE revival, which is God’s work, not ours. We should also continue to pray that God continue to pen hearts to hear the gospel message, as Jesus Christ continues to build HIS church until He comes to meet his Bride in the air!

Stay blessed!

Book Review – “White Fragility and Getting White People To Talk About Racism“ by Robin DiAngelo

Reviewed by Tim Challies

 

This 2-part review of “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelois well worth the read. In the reviewer’s own words:

I am going to provide a kind of summary of its contents (Pt. 1) and then, in a second article (Pt 2), discuss whether it is a helpful resource for Christians.

The articles follow a particular “story line”.
  • Creation (What Should the World Be Like?)
  • Fall (What Is the World Actually Like?)
  • Redemption (What Actions Can Improve This World?)
  • Restoration (What Future Can We Imagine?)
  • The Bible’s Story & Robin DiAngelo’s Story
1.  White Fragility and Getting White People To Talk About Racism
2.  White Fragility and the Bible’s Big Story

 

NOTE: It looks like there will be a third and final part to  this review. It will be poste to this blog when it is released.

10 Toxic Traditions That Are Killing the Church | Josh Daffern

Although I am not a great fan of Patheos.com, I receive article alerts in my email. This was an interesting article, and with far too many “Read More” click bait style buttons.

Source: 10 Toxic Traditions That Are Killing the Church | Josh Daffern

I’m interested in what other folks think. There are a few comments reflecting various levels of theological prowess, and I did leave a comment.

“I guess it depends on what you mean by ‘tradition’. I would term some on the list as ‘error’ but not necessarily ‘tradition’. Some in the list have merit, come not so much. If you want to know what I think is a ‘tradition’ killing the evangelical church it’s the disappearance of the truly Biblical gospel! I don’t think that was even mentioned. These days people come to Christ for just about anything except for repentance and belief that Christ died for the SINS of his people, NOT poor self-esteem or their best lives now! The death of Christ sits on the back burner as something that was necessary so that sinners can ‘save themselves’ with their free will decisions as the deciding factor.”

Thoughts, anyone?