How to Love Your Enemies


But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. – Luke 6:27-28

What does it mean to love your enemies? Did Jesus command us to conjure strong feelings and affections for those who hate us and that we also hate? Is it even possible to have good feelings toward someone we despise? If we are totally honest with ourselves we must admit that we harbor strong negative emotions to those we call our enemies. Isn’t it a contradiction to say we love whom we hate? How could God make such a contradictory demand upon us? Is the command to love our enemies some kind of divine prank?

The answer lies in Christ’s words – we love by doing good to those who hate us, blessing those who curse us and praying for those who abuse us.

Do.

Bless.

Pray.

These principles seem straight forward enough but confusion can arise. What does it mean to bless someone? Isn’t doing good and praying for someone in fact, blessing them? Is there a difference in the meaning of these seemingly synonymous terms? Bless here in the Greek means ‘speak well of, praise’. Instead of indulging human nature’s propensity to gossip and slander our enemies (no matter how justified we feel in doing so) we should build them up and find what is praise-worthy and proclaim it. The all-encompassing love to our enemies we are commanded to fulfill is simply doing good to them, speaking well of them and asking God to care for them, despite the way we may feel. Continue reading

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Is Our Unbelief > God at Work in Us? – The Final Chapter


In this final post on the false teachings of Prosperity Pete I’m scrutinizing his outrageous claims about both man and God.

Quote: “Unbelief is more powerful than God in you.”

“some of you looked at me funny when I said ‘unbelief is more powerful than God in you’ – but I just read it to you.  God was present but he was limited because of unbelief.”

Scripture proof given: “How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert! Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel” (Psalm 78: 40-41).

Refutation:

Let’s zoom out for second and take a look at this Psalm of Asaph as a whole.  He sets out to show God’s faithfulness to unbelieving Israel throughout her inglorious history.  Despite continual unbelief and unfaithfulness God preserves his people by his sovereign hand.  At times he brings strong rebuke and chastens his people with judgment and wrath.  God then shows his love and compassion by bestowing upon Israel abundant blessings that are totally undeserved. Rather than teaching that man can trump God with his unbelief and thwart his will this Psalm does just the opposite.  It teaches the absolute sovereignty of God, that his providence extends over all human works and endeavors.  On top of that, the Hebrew word for ‘limit’ can be interpreted various ways.  Here are how some modern translations render it: Continue reading

I’m Not Good Enough, I’m Not Smart Enough and Dog-Gone-it God Just Doesn’t Like Me


My carefully constructed religious edifice came under fierce attack some five years ago and suffered irreparable damage.  The alarms of imminent collapse began reverberating through the dark corridors of my failing heart.  Wave upon wave of relentless missile attacks crumbled the once stalwart marble pillars of my faith.  The incoming warheads contained a volatile combination of sin and self-righteousness. Structural failure was inevitable.  My religion had failed me; no longer could it support my overwhelming sense of failure.  It could no longer assuage my feelings of guilt.  I attempted to prop up the sagging ceiling with support columns of modern evangelical platitudes and aphorisms.  They turned out to be hollow inside and buckled beneath the weight.  The brick and mortar I had so meticulously hand-crafted disintegrated all around me in a resounding crash.

Exposed to the harsh elements of the wilderness I couldn’t help but gaze at the majesty of the heavens and contemplate my plight.  Late one night in the midst of  an intense spiritual malaise I raised my eyes to the stars and cried out in desperation, “Father help me, I’ve lost my way.  I don’t measure up to your righteousness and I never will.  I don’t know what to believe anymore.  Please reveal to me the truth.”  If ever I’ve been convinced that God hears and answers my prayers, that night crystallized the reality of it once and for all.

Yes, God heard me.  I’m sure he had been waiting for this cry for deliverance for quite some time.  After all, God is in the deliverance business.  Salvation itself is defined as deliverance or rescue from danger.  I have no doubt that through his sovereign power he had brought me to this fiery trial, carried me through the flames and now was in the process of  treating all my grievous burns. Continue reading

Blogging and God’s Blessings


So, what does one have to do with the other? Well, you may have noticed that my post production has significantly decreased over the past few weeks. There’s good news and bad news associated with this trend. The good news is that my attention and energy has been diverted by the Lord’s tremendous blessings in my life. With a family of six members, we had grown exceedingly close – not devotionally, but physically, in our nice, yet modest sized home. Well, out of the blue 2 weekends ago, we received a phone call from a family member cryptically telling us we must look at this house for sale not too far from where we currently live. My wife and I exchanged puzzled glances, asking each other the same question – Why? We aren’t shopping for a new house. Reluctantly, yet somewhat curious we both drove out to the address and were astonished at the beauty of the home. We saw a sign that read ‘Open House – Sunday’. After church the following day we toured the inside of the home and fell in love with it immediately. It has so much more room than our current home. We were surprised at the very reasonable pricing. The square-footage is a major upgrade, but the neighborhood itself is not quite as nice as ours, as my wife duly noted. This probably contributed toward the fair pricing. However, the street itself is very nice and has a lot less traffic than ours. The backyard is smaller, but much better landscaped. (Less mowing, baby!) The home was reasonably priced, yet still beyond our means to purchase. The providence of God however, quickly put us into a position to buy the house. The next day a bid was put in and to make a long story short, the deal will be closed on April 30th!

UN-be-LIEVABLE! Continue reading

The Righteousness of Noah


I must admit, my Sunday school class continues to stimulate and challenge my beliefs in the doctrines of Grace. This past Sunday our lesson ‘Aspire to Walk with God’ centered on the story of Noah and the Flood. I studied the passages in Genesis chapter 6 and had decided to focus in on the righteousness of Noah, anticipating that this would be a hot topic during discussion. Turns out I was correct. The teacher asked a question I think everyone has when first reading this passage. Here’s the text. Read through it and I bet the question that first pops into your mind is the same as mine.

Gen 6:5-22 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (6) And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. (7) So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” (8) But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. (9) These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. (10) And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (11) Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. (12) And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. (13) And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. …. (17) For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. (18) But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. (19) And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. (20) Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. (21) Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” (22) Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

I came away asking this: How could Noah possibly be righteous and blameless in a world corrupted by sin?

While you chew on that, here’s another question to ponder: Who is responsible for mankind’s redemption in this story? Did God redeem man or did Noah? Well, it looks like God desired to wipe out the whole human race because they were evil. Noah, because of his righteousness, was spared. If Noah had not been blameless in God’s sight we would not be here discussing this story. The world would be barren and lifeless. So, we are in fact indebted to Noah and some kind of inherent righteousness he somehow possessed that no other human had. Noah is our hero! All hail to the savior of us all! In spite of God’s will to destroy all flesh, man prevailed. Continue reading

A Brief Discourse on the Heart of the Gospel


lighthouse.jpgBut God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Rom 5:8-10)

I have two student workers who help me out a couple of days during the week, doing various technology related tasks. They are generally enthusiastic and energetic workers. They are also neither one Christians. One is a sort of agnostic who is considering Judaism. (I don’t get it either.) The other is a practicing Hindu. I have spent the last year witnessing to these young gentlemen. I have sat down with them and taken them systematically through the full scope of the gospel message, from law to grace, from hell to heaven, from death to life, from the depravity of man to the glory of God. As of yet, neither has put their faith in Christ. One has hardened himself against the message and generally mocks God and his word. The other is more respectful and appears to have a general interest in what I have to say.

So I keep teaching. One tool I frequently utilize is the white board I have in my office. Every week I put up a few scripture verses. When they come in to work, I often take a moment to quickly expound the text for their edification. The student who actually pays attention to me has come to eagerly await a new nugget of wisdom from God’s word every week. He is quick to rebuke me whenever I fail to post a new scripture. I can sense that he is digesting the milk I am feeding him. Encouraged by his hunger for knowledge, I keep at it, praying that God will cause the seed I have planted to take root. My hope is that someday it shall sprout into a tree of life.

Last week as I searched for a scripture to display I came across the text from Romans posted above. As I read through it I realized the Apostle Paul here succinctly summarizes the core of the gospel message in these three short verses. I will attempt to expound these verses just as plainly as I explained them to my student workers a few days ago. Continue reading