Friday, February 16, 2024

The Smiling Slave


During the Civil war era in the United States, slavery was an obvious point of contention.

There’s no doubt in my mind that many of the slaves’ hearts longed to be happy again. After Abraham Lincoln signed the 13th amendment, all slaves had been made free. Yet many remained on their plantations for various reasons. Some believed that truly they were free and walked the pathway that lead to their ultimate freedom, while others left one plantation for another.


In Christianity, I find that very few believers believe that they are free. They stay enslaved to their hurts, their past, their sorrows, and their pains.

Many of these slaves live in denial. They know deep within their hearts that they are slaves but don’t want anyone to think of them as a slave. So they look for ways that they can put on a smile while remaining a slave.

Some try to convince themselves in their minds that they are not slaves. Some buy into the latest and greatest seven-step program that makes them feel good about being a slave. Some will try to convince themselves and others that the idea of “being a slave” is “relative” and that people shouldn’t get too caught up in it. Others look at the ones who are free to see if there is anything in them that they can criticize so they can feel justified for being a slave. Still others go to great lengths to convince themselves and others that the slavery is in fact a form of freedom!

John 8:32, 36, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

Are you a simply a smiling slave or are you a Christian who lives free from hurts, sorrows, pains, bitterness, and anger?

Thursday, February 15, 2024




If a person has paid any attention to “Christian” circles they will have noticed that there is and has been a shift or swing away from practices that have been seen in our churches. I’m not saying that there is no need for change, but I’m also not saying everything needs to change.

There is much debate on what are the things that should change. If one church, preacher, Christian disagrees with another church, preacher, Christians, they resort to name-calling. One side will call the others liberals, compromisers, worldlings or something along that line while the other side fires back by calling them Pharisees, legalists, mean spirited, or something along that line.

Truth be known you’ll find all the above mentioned out there. What surprises me is the lack of discernment that is practiced by churches, preachers, Christians on both sides. I refer to this as ditch jumping. One group thinks/feels that if they can get as far away as possible from the ditch that they were in will find themselves in more freedom or liberty but refuse to notice they’re in the opposiste ditch. The other group see the fallacies of the opposite ditch as greater evils than their ditch so they refuse to move. Both sides point out the failures of the opposite ditch thinking that they are better because they are not in the same ditch, but refusing to see themselves as in a ditch and both are claiming to be balanced and have the right interpretations, explanation, and application.


My point once again is the lack of discernment from both sides. We have often been told how banks would train their people to spot or identify counterfeit currency. Their people were taught what real money looked and felt like, therefore if a counterfeit bill came across their desk it was immediately identified.

In Philippians 1 Paul talks about two groups of preachers. Those that preach Christ of contention and the other of love yet Paul rejoiced that Christ was preached. Why and how could Paul rejoice in that? Why did he not feel it was his duty to “call out” all those preachers? The answer is simple, he knew that all of this would turn to his salvation. Even though some were looking to add affliction to his bonds the reality would be that Christ would be magnified in his body. This does not mean that error goes untouched in the local church setting, for Paul obviously did that.


So what can we draw from that? I would suggest that we live the difference. Live Christ and him crucified, live the opposite of all that you’re now criticizing and stop practicing the exact same tactic from the opposite ditch with your slant on it. Paul knew that as long as Christ was preached, no matter from what crowd, that that message would line up with his life and sooner or later people would see that the message of Christ matches that man of Christ.


As Christians let’s practice a bit of discernment and stop reacting to the crowd that we think has lost their bearings with the same antics, cute sayings, comeback, or insults and condescending statements that have been used against you. Live the difference that the gospel makes and you’ll be surprised at how the Lord will be magnified in you.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Spiritualized Narcissism

We seem to be living in a day where the sense of entitlement has been normalized. Instead of this narcissism being viewed as the arrogance that it is, it has become an accepted behavioural pattern. 

Although this is something that looks normal in our world and society has adjusted its practice to accommodate for this, it continues to surprise me how prevalent it is in our Christian circles. 

God is a God of order (1Cor.14:40), and in Titus 1:5 we see Paul instructing Titus saying, “that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting,” yet structure and order, although it is desired it seems to be despised when that “order” affects the entitled individual.

Think with me about a family. God has order, He’s placed a father and a mother as parents in the home, and yet many times the children feel entitled to everything the parents have as their own. Often, they feel that they are “above the rules” of the home. As they get older, they may even balk at curfews or potential “friends” they are allowed to have.

Recently I was listening to a comedian as he was joking about how much his teenagers “knew”. He said he would make stuff up that didn’t exist and tell his teenager about it, and they would say “I know”.

In many ways we have spiritual teenagers in our churches today. They know it all. They know everything the pastor should or shouldn’t have done, they can’t be instructed or lead because they know it all, following the pattern in Romans 1 where they are “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools”. They know motives that don’t exist, they know actions that never happened, they know all the insults that were never given, they know all the hypothetical outcomes of situations that never came to fruition, I mean they just know it all.

I’m sure that many a parent has looked at their teenager who is trying hard to “act like an adult” and smiled with admiration of how mature they are attempting to be. While they do not criticize them, and they give them credit for what they’re doing right, they can still see the traces of immaturity in the same teenager that is doing their best to grow up and be mature in their life, and as far as the teenager goes, they truly do believe that they are acting in a mature manner.

The same idea is true in Christianity. As the “spiritual teenager” flounders around they are convinced in their mind that they are acting in a mature way. They take to Facebook or other social media outlets to vent out their grievances and as long their friends and groupies jump on board with their positions, they have their insecurities vindicated, a sense of achievement, or being solidified that their position is correct. 

In our homes when we have our teenagers changing from adolescence to adulthood there is a range of emotions and hormonal changes taking place which often leads them to lash out, blame their siblings or parents for the very things that they themselves are guilty of.

Again, Christianity finds the same similarities. The “spiritual teenager” has spiritualized his/her narcissism. Their gaslighting they don’t see, their own immaturity they don’t see, their own sense of entitlement they don’t see, their abuse of others they don’t see, their exploiting of others they don’t see, their own irresponsibility they don’t see, and if their parent or pastor ever comes around to point it out, their immediate reaction is that of self defense and quickly points out the error of those in authority over them. 

These “spiritual teenagers” thrive on drama, you’ll notice that they don’t have many long-lasting relationships. They have issues with authority structures. They feel those that don’t see things as they see them are not “real”, but rather puppets, goodie two shoes, or brainwashed individuals etc. You will often see a trail in their past of repeated behaviours with repeated results. They don’t seem to have a sense of shame or guilt for the damage their immaturity has caused in the lives of others, they feel justified in behaving they way they do. In fact, they will often brag of the trail of destruction they’ve created and how many people they were able to pull along with them, and when things don’t go as planned, they blame the parent or pastor that tried to correct them in the first place.

The bible says in 1Jn.4:20 that if a man says he loves God and hates his brother he is a liar. In other words, your horizontal relationship is the picture of what your vertical relationship truly is. How you treat your spouse reflects your relationship with God, your reaction to authority reflects your view of God’s authority, your treatment of believers is a picture of your treatment of God. 

The spiritual narcissist can hardly see the connection between these two points. They feel their hearts are right with God as they attack the very church that Christ died for.

A person may wonder how to deal with this type of “spiritual teenager”?  Ecclesiastes 3:7 tells us that there is a time keep silence, and a time to speak. We can see in Lk.15 that there are three different scenarios. With the sheep and the coin we see that the person seeking after.  In the case of the first two, they were lost somewhere along the way. There is a difference here and that is with the first two we see them as lost, but the third you see him leaving. The third picture in this chapter we see the kind of narcissist that we’ve been talking about. He assumed it was his right to demand his heritance. He felt he knew better than his father. He thought if he would control his destiny life would turn out better.

The father on the other hand allowed his son to go the direction that he was determined to go. Notice though, that the father never once chased his son down the road begging him not to go. You’ll notice the Jesus told the rich young ruler what the issue was, but never chased him down the road as he walked away.

On the other hand, the father never ceased looking and longing for his sons return, but had enough knowledge to know that his son needed an experience where he would “come to himself” and realize his wrong.

I would encourage each person if you’ve experienced a person who has or is spiritualizing narcissism to live the difference that Christ makes in your life. In Genesis 26 Isaac walked away from two wells that he had dug because contention and strife were attached to those wells. Likewise, live the difference that Christ makes and leave the wells of contention and strife to those who feel they need to conquer and own them. Enjoy the goodness and blessings of God, and leave off contending with the spiritual narcissist. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Two Ditches

Source: Lloyd Kahn
It’s probably no surprise to anyone that our flesh tends to run to extremes. You’ve heard about the “pendulum swing,” I’m sure. People take one extreme position and then realize that it is wrong. Then to combat the first extreme position, they tend to swing clear over to the other side, only to find themselves in another extreme position on the opposite side. This is what I refer to as the two ditches.

As I observe Christianity, I find this more and more to be true. The crazy thing is that we never admit that we’re in a ditch. We’re not on the straight and narrow. We’ve veered off. Instead, everyone presents himself as balanced and biblical; everyone presents herself as holding to truth. Yet it seems we have both sides looking to shoot holes in each other’s positions or stands, or lack thereof.

Group One will proclaim that they are “defending the faith once delivered.” Group Two points out Group One’s double standards and hypocrisy. Then Group Two will jump on the word “liberty,” and Group One points out that they’re using liberty as “an occasion to the flesh.” While both sides are holding their ground, they truly believe the other is missing the point.

Group Two complains that the other is too dogmatic, while they are being accused of compromise and not having any convictions. Group One will complain that they are falsely attacked, all while they attack the ones they claim are attacking them.

In Luke 18:11, we see a picture of a crowd that prays like this: “I thank Thee that I am not as other men are.” This crowd is very proud of their holiness and religious actions. We all point to this Pharisee and bewail his hypocrisy. This crowd continuously criticized Christ and his disciples, even for eating with unwashed hands.

In today's economy, with our religious crowd, it seems that nobody is as holy as they are. But notice something else with me. In Luke 9:49, the beloved John saw a man casting out devils in the name of Christ, and this beloved disciple who was often found leaning on the breast of Jesus, rebuked this man because he was not running in their crowd. Then a few verses later (verses 53-54), when Jesus was not received, those who had the most intimate relationship with Christ were seeking to call down fire from heaven on those who didn’t receive the One with whom they have this relationship. Again, in today's economy, it seems as if the crowd that emphasizes intimacy and relationship with the Lord (with which crowd I would identify) tends to be just as harsh, even while they may not realize it.

We see two groups of people in Jesus’ time: One group of zealots and another group walking with Liberty Himself, yet both seemed to have the same kind of spirit towards those with whom they didn’t agree. We never want to identify ourselves with either of these groups.

If you find yourself entangled in arguments and disagreements, rather than simply living the difference that a yielded life to the Holy Spirit creates, I’m afraid you may have to admit that you’re in a ditch!

There is a straight and narrow way between the two ditches, but “few there be that find it.” May we learn to yield to the Holy Spirit and live the difference that HIS life creates.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Divine Nature

To whom will you yield?

2 Peter 1:3-4 teaches us that according to the divine power of God, He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness, such as exceeding great and precious promises. By these promises, granted by His divine power, we are able to be partakers of HIS divine nature (paraphrase mine).

In Ephesians 2:3, we see this phrase “were by nature the children of wrath.” In verse 5, this is further illustrated by the phrase “dead in sins.” But then the miracle happened… Those who were dead were made alive, and that which was alive is now dead.

2 Corinthians 5:17 states that “if any man be in Christ, he is a NEW creature: old things are [passed away]; behold, ALL things are become new.” Ephesians 2:10 puts forth this thought: “We are HIS workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.”

All my life I’ve been told that we have two natures living within us. I accepted what I was told, but struggled with that thought for years. I just can’t find that concept in the Scriptures. One will tell you that because of his “sin nature,” sinning is just beyond his control. In another angle of the argument, someone will tell you that she has reached a level of sanctification where it is impossible for her to sin.

Many ask: How can a Christian still sin if he has only a divine nature?

To answer that, we must understand that our being is a trichotomy. We are made up of three parts: 1.) the body (with its five senses), 2.) the soul (its functions being our mind, will, and emotions), and 3.) the spirit (the part of man that bears witness with the Holy Spirit—Romans 8:16).

When you combine body and soul, you have what the Scripture calls the “flesh,” and this part of man never did get saved when you were “quickened”—made alive.  Your body is still wracked with sin and decay; your soul (mind, will, and emotion) still has every capability of sin, as it did before you got saved.

So what happened, then, when you got saved? Your dead spirit was made alive and now bears witness with the Holy Spirit, and your previously alive nature (the old man) has once for all been crucified—it’s dead—the old passing away, making way for the divine nature, which is now imparted by the divine power of God!

Romans 6:10-11, along with Colossians 3:3, Galatians, 2:20, and 2 Corinthians 5:17, clearly teach that the old man (your sin nature) has been put to death and no longer can be the excuse for sinning.

Sin and death no longer have dominion over you (Romans 6:14, 18), and that is why Romans 6:12 states that we are not to let sin reign, meaning that we have a choice in the matter of sin’s reigning or not.

The chapter continues in verses 13-16 with the answer as to how we live without letting sin reign. You’ll notice the word “yield” keeps coming up. To whomever you yield yourself, his servant you become.

Why do Christians still sin? Because we yield to sin. No, we can’t blame the “sin nature.” This is like the little kid saying, “The devil made me do it.” Rather we have to be honest with ourselves in stating that we sin by choice.

Some may debate: The things I should do, I don’t do, and the things that I shouldn’t do, I still do. To that I agree, for Romans 7:17-18 clearly state that “it is no more I” but rather the sin that is in my flesh (members) that still causes all sorts of trouble. That is why we see in Galatians 5:17 that the Spirit and the flesh are constantly at war with each other.

How does this apply to living the difference? This truth from the Scripture brings us to a realization that we need to live 100% dependent upon the Holy Spirit of God. Recognizing that my flesh (body and soul) is as lost as it’s always been… but that my spirit bears witness with the HOLY SPIRIT… my body and soul yielding themselves to the power of the Holy Spirit… I then can practically live out what Christ has already positionally made me.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Legalism has had its effect on Christianity; there’s no doubt about that. Rules have been placed on people, expectations placed at levels that hardly anyone could reach. Then if a person failed in that expectation or rule, guilt trips were placed on them.

Then this turned into people “outdoing” one other in order to prove that somehow they were more spiritual than the failures that pastor always alluded to in his messages. The lying began…lying to God, lying to oneself, lying to other church members and lying to the pastor about their spiritual state… out of fear of how they would be viewed. In other words, it became a performance-based religion. This has left hundreds of thousands of Christians frustrated, overwhelmed, and in many cases, has chased these members off to the “mega churches” or other churches where there is no requirement, no rules, and little or no expectations.

 We often hear the phrase “I have liberty in Christ.” I agree. Galatians 5:1 says, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free, and be not again entangled in the yoke of bondage.” In our culture and time, the “yoke of bondage” is often referred to as “rules of the church.” When a person leaves a church that has rules, in some cases “any rule,” they feel that they have found freedom and have re-connected with their “liberty in Christ.” Galatians 5:13 states “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; [only] use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” 

Here’s an observation that I’ve made with many people. When I hear the statement “I have liberty in Christ,” what usually follows is how they are now “less” involved than before... less faithful then they were before… less involved than they were before. For example: “I have liberty in Christ, so I don’t need to go to church as often as I was going…” “I have liberty in Christ, so I don’t need to give as much as I was giving…” “I have liberty in Christ, so I don’t need to be so concerned with modesty anymore.” The list goes on and on with statements like these as to what “liberty in Christ” has brought people. It’s almost as if people are looking to rid themselves of any guilt or conviction.

 Let me challenge you with a thought. If you follow this reasoning and liberty has brought less faithfulness to church, then would it not stand to reason that the person who doesn’t go at all has even more liberty? If liberty causes you to be less modest, then wouldn’t the skimpiest bathing suit as church apparel provide even more liberty? If liberty in Christ has brought you to less involvement, wouldn’t no involvement be even more liberty?

You see, this reasoning is flawed, especially when we see that we are not to use our liberty for an occasion to the flesh. If you look though at verse 13 quoted above, you never see the person who is exercising liberty as doing any less. In fact, the instruction for those in liberty is to serve one another in love. I’ve never seen true Christian liberty cause a person to do less. Love causes a person to do more. 

Remember when you first fell in love with your spouse? In expression of your love to your future spouse, did you explain that because you have liberty, you don’t need to be as faithful, as involved, or as committed? Of course not! Love brought you to the point of doing more because of love.

 The reason is that true liberty triggers heartfelt gratitude for what Christ has liberated us from and therefore a servant’s heart is evident. What I have seen liberty do for people is to clear up their wrong motives (serving for recognition, acceptance, or even the expectation that God would return to them the favour), and then by LOVE serve one another. When Christ made us free, He made us free indeed. Free from selfish motives… those we had prior to salvation… free from ulterior motives… those we had prior to salvation… free from “doing” in order to be recognized, accepted, or rewarded… that we had prior to salvation.

 What then does this liberty do for us? Matthew 5:44 tells us to love our enemies, bless them that curse us, do good to them that hate us, pray for them that despitefully use us, and persecute us. Verses 46-47 tell us that the sinners return love for love, civility for civility… and how are we any better if that’s all we do?

 Liberty gives us freedom to love our enemies, bless them that curse, do good to them that hate, pray for them that despitefully use and persecute us. Liberty is not an opportunity for less, but rather more, out of a heart and motive of love. In other words, liberty is the ingredient that allows you to “Live the Difference.”

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Purified Souls

The Roman emperor Nero rose to power in 54 AD and reigned until 68 AD. Nero has been tagged as the first persecutor of Christians. After the Great Fire of Rome, Nero started his assault on Christians. He would gather them together, tie them to a light post, dip them it pitch, set them on fire, and use them as lanterns in his gardens. It is believed that Nero was the one who killed both the apostles Peter and Paul of the New Testament.

It is hard to imagine what it would be like to live in this time frame. Yet it is in this setting that Peter writes his epistles to the scattered Christians. In 1 Peter 1:7, he talks to them about the trial of their faith. In verse 13, he challenges them to “gird up the loins of your mind” and continues to speak of their obedience, redemption, and faith. Then Apostle Peter makes an astounding statement that has resonated in hearts for years.

In verse 21, he says, “Seeing that ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit.” The word “soul” speaks of a man’s mind, will, and emotion. This is where I just got floored. Think back to the time and situation that they are in. Nero is burning Christians and using them as lanterns to light up his gardens.

That means someone’s daddy, someone’s mommy, someone’s child, someone’s grandparent has been tortured for sport by Nero, and Apostle Peter says that in the midst of all this chaos and hurt… I see that you have purified your souls [mind, will, and emotions] in obeying the truth through the Spirit. Peter acknowledges something in these Christians that has already happened in the midst of all of this ("seeing ye have") in regard to the purifying of their mind, will and emotions. Even though they were in the trial of their faith, even though they were living the “manifold temptations,” even though their family members were being killed… their mind, will, and emotions were cleansed. Can you imagine... no hatred, vindictiveness, anger or malice... but purified minds?

“Seeing ye have…” --We cannot save ourselves. This is not talking about salvation, but sanctification. They had to choose to “gird up the loins of [their] mind.” They had to choose to yield to the Spirit in the midst of the fiery trial. And they had done it!

May I suggest to you that it is possible to live the difference? It is possible in the midst of heartache, turmoil, manifold temptations, and in the trial of our faith… to live the difference… to obey the truth through the Spirit. As I yield to the Spirit, He then lives, through me, the Person that He already is. “…yet not I, but Christ, liveth in me…” (Galatians 2:20).